Lisa WaltonApril 21, 20181min960

DENVER— Environmentalists are asking an appeals court to reinstate a rule restricting harmful methane emissions on U.S. lands, at least temporarily.

Attorneys for 13 groups on Friday asked a federal appeals court in Denver to block an order by a lower court that halted the regulation.

The rule required energy companies to capture methane gas instead of burning it or wasting it at drilling sites on public lands.

The rule was imposed near the end of the Obama administration in 2016. The Trump administration is trying to reverse it.

A U.S. judge in Wyoming blocked the rule earlier this month, saying it provided little public benefit but could be costly for industry.

The environmental groups say the Wyoming judge didn’t take all the required steps before acting.


Tom Roeder, The GazetteTom Roeder, The GazetteApril 21, 20183min920

Schriever Air Force Base will add nearly 150 workers as Air Force Space Command assumes wider control over the military’s satellites.

The new faces at Schriever are part of the new Joint Forces Space Command Component, which pulls in Navy and Army space troops under Space Command boss Gen. Jay Raymond. The move was announced Friday by Colorado U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, who was told of the change by Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson.

“This is great news for Colorado and I am excited to welcome additional Joint Force Space Component personnel to our state,” Gardner said in a statement.

The joint headquarters for space was mandated in a 2017 policy bill, which sought more centralized control over the nation’s military satellites. It was a compromise that backed away from an earlier plan to create a separate military branch for space.

The joint headquarters was initially established in California, but is coming to Colorado after an analysis of alternatives came out with Schriever on top.

The joint headquarters will be located alongside the National Space Defense Center at Schriever, where intelligence agency and military space experts are working to defend American military satellites from attack.

The rising fear of future wars reaching space was a key theme of the Space Symposium at The Broadmoor this week. Leaders, including Air Force chief of staff Gen. David Goldfein, said the military must be prepared to fight and win battles in orbit.

Putting the rest of the military’s satellites under Raymond is part of the continuing growth of Air Force Space Command’s dominant role in the arena. The command already controls 90 percent of the military’s satellites and oversees a space budget that’s expected to top $64 billion over the next five years.

Putting the joint headquarters at Schriever will also give the program one of the highest levels of security available in the military. The headquarters will move behind a prison-like double fence where workers pass through tight security screenings on their way in and out.

Key Defense Department programs, including operation of the Global Positioning System, reside behind the security layers at Schriever.

Gardner signaled the move as a vote of confidence in Air Force control of space operations after a White House trial balloon last month showed President Donald Trump’s willingness to create a separate space force.

“This is an important part of our national defense and I will continue to work with the Air Force to support the critical work our men and women are doing at Schriever Air Force Base,” Gardner said.

The first of the new troops are expected to arrive at Schriever next month, and the Air Force expects to have all 148 workers at the base next year.


Tony Peck, The GazetteApril 21, 20183min840

The 302nd Airlift Wing at Peterson Air Force Base showcased its firefighting capabilities Friday before the unit heads west to train for its 25th summer battling wildfires.

The wing will head to Sacramento, Calif., for a weeklong training exercise hosted by the U.S. Forest Service – the federal agency overseeing its mission.

It’s C-130s can drop 3,000 gallons – or 27,000 pounds – of fire retardant in under eight seconds. The retardant is used to box in a fire, containing it so that ground crews can put out the flames.

The C-130s are deployed by the Forest Service, which can mean they are not always available to fight local fires, although the 302nd was used during the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires.

Once a blaze becomes dangerous enough, the incident commander will request capabilities provided by the 302nd and other similar units.

“We are supposed to give 48 hours,” said Dave Condit, Forest Service deputy forest and grasslands supervisor for the region. “But sometimes they have gotten out and to the fire quicker.”

During that 48-hour window, Reserve airmen must leave behind civilian lives and scramble to prepare the planes and thousands of pounds of retardant necessary to battle any blaze.

Once airmen have loaded the large holding tanks and prepped the aircraft, the four-engined, 100-foot-long planes fly over the flames at 200 feet and at just above stall speed – about 120 mph.

Retardant released from the plane forms a fire line that’s 20 yards wide and up to a quarter-mile long.

Airmen say it is one of the military’s most challenging and rewarding jobs.

It’s also a job that has kept airmen coming back to the 302nd. Most of the pilots and crew members involved in battling fires for the wing have been doing it for a decade or more.

“It is especially satisfying,” said Maj. Kate Schifani, the maintenance officer in charge of keeping the planes operational. “We get to help our fellow citizens, and it is another way for folks to serve their country.”


Ellie Mulder, The GazetteEllie Mulder, The GazetteApril 21, 20182min4110

Colorado Springs School District 11 will be closed April 27  “in anticipation of high levels of teacher participation at a rally in Denver,” Superintendent Nicholas Gledich said in a statement.

The cancellation of school is necessary because the district doesn’t have “enough substitute teachers or administrators to cover the projected number of teacher absences,” the statement says.

An afternoon rally is planned for Friday at the Colorado state Capitol to advocate for more state education funding, education news nonprofit Chalkbeat reported.

The Colorado Springs Education Association “is joining in support of the statewide education association in supporting this statewide teacher rally,” Gledich’s statement says. “As you may be aware, K-12 public education funding and the long-term stabilization of the Public Employees’ Retirement Association (PERA) system are problematic in Colorado.

“Public education school boards, staff, parents, and other supporters have become increasingly vocal in their advocacy for increased funding for our statewide K-12 public schools and the stabilization of PERA. There is a belief among these groups that years of low funding is having a significant impact on our ability to attract quality candidates into the teaching profession and is impeding the ability to effectively deliver the high level of educational experience our students deserve.”

Extracurricular activities will be held Friday unless otherwise announced.

“I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our families, but I’m pleased to be able to make the announcement in advance so families may make needed arrangements,” Gledich’s statement said.

Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandApril 21, 20186min148
A look at the behind-the-scenes stuff that Capitol M finds interesting, amusing or wants you to know about. Best wishes for a speedy recovery…to Colorado Press Association lobbyist Greg Romberg, who suffered a brain injury in a skiing accident on March 31. According to CPA President Jerry Raehal, Romberg is alert, able to handle day-to-day […]

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