Ari Armstrong's Web Log (Main) | Archives | Terms of Use

Colorado News Miner 114

Airports and lead, legislative updates, Democratic infighting, light-touch density, furries (yes, again), defensive gun uses, and more.

Copyright © 2024 by Ari Armstrong
May 18, 2024

Airports and Lead

Meg Wingerter offers some good context: A study "by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment" on lead in the blood of children who live near airports "found levels to be within the range the federal government considers normal, and didn't prove that living near an airport caused the increase in blood lead levels, though levels declined consistently as the distance from an airport increased, reaching the state average at about two miles out." See also John Ingold's article.

Why are we even talking about leaded aviation fuel? Lead was prohibited in auto fuel decades ago. Politico has a good summary:

Safety has been at the center of industry arguments for sticking with leaded gasoline until a 100-octane lead-free fuel is brought to market. Adding lead to gasoline boosts octane levels. That prevents airplane engines from misfiring. A major misfire can rip an engine apart midflight.

Unless the CDPHE study adequately controls for income, a study like this doesn't mean much. Here is one possible interpretation: "Leaded fuel used by airplanes causes slightly elevated lead levels in nearby children's blood." Here is another equally plausible interpretation: "People of relatively lower incomes are more likely to live near airports, and they are more likely to be exposed to lead in other ways." Example: Wealthier people can afford better water-filtration systems. Ideally a study like this would control for whether a household uses water filtration, but that information might be hard to get.

I asked CDPHE for a copy of the study but a rep said it hasn't been published yet and they won't release it early. The rep did say some of the material is available via a March 4 Westminster City Council presentation and video.

That presentation says the study "[c]ontrols for factors such as living downwind, time of year, percentage of older homes, demographic characteristics." That's pretty vague. The presentation also notes the study "did not . . . [t]ell us the amount of lead in the environment around the airports" or reveal "what the most important source of lead exposure is in the areas we analyzed."

A follow-up from CDPHE helpfully adds:

We addressed potential confounding factors in our study, including the age of housing, median income, and race/ethnicity. By controlling for these variables, we aimed to assess the relationship between lead exposure and proximity to airports more accurately. This approach allowed us to account for potential socioeconomic disparities and other factors that might influence lead exposure levels, ensuring that any observed associations were not solely attributable to income disparities or other demographic factors.

Here's the take-away factual finding: Children living half a mile from airports had blood lead levels of 2.29 micrograms per deciliter, while children living five miles from airports had blood lead levels of 1.98 micrograms per deciliter. The CDC "reference level" is 3.5 micrograms per deciliter.

Related: Monte Whaley reports, "HB24-1235 provides financial incentives for aircraft owners to convert their planes to use unleaded fuel."

Legislative Update

Thank Goodness: The session is finally over. Jon Caldara thinks we should shorten it. The Sun reviews 101 important bills.

Cell Phones and Driving: Generally, it's really dangerous for people to drive while looking at their cell phones (or anything else within the car). But, by my reading of Bill 65 (the bill's language is complicated, so I'm not sure), a cop could pull you over for using your cell phone even if you're completely stopped at a traffic light. See also CPR's report. I would have preferred a broader bill about distracted driving in general, one that specifically addresses a car in motion. Putting ketchup on a hamburger or turning around to talk to a passenger while driving is as dangerous as texting on a phone.

Gun Bills: Bente Birkeland has a review. Jake Fogleman also reviews the gun bills, along with the bills on fiscal and energy policy.

Rent Algorithm Bill Dies: So that's a spot of good news. It was a bad, intrusive bill.

Democratic Infighting: Bente Birkeland: "A conflict over a law enforcement misconduct bill and other issues delayed proceedings in the state House [late in the session], with nearly a dozen Colorado Democratic House members walking off the chamber floor as the House was taking final votes on bills." Marianne Goodland: "Progressive Democrats took aim . . . at Rep. Brandi Bradley, R-Roxborough Park, describing her as a 'bully.' Bradley replied she had been at the receiving end of a barrage of labels coming from Democrats, including being described as a bigot and racist. Thirteen Democrats—almost all lawmakers of color—met with House McCluskie and Majority Leader Monica Duran. . . . Led by Rep. Stephanie Vigil, D-Colorado Springs, they said that some—she didn't specify who—are out to physically harm them and argued that such individuals shouldn't get any of their legislative priorities passed." Read the whole crazy article. Bente Birkeland: "Democratic state Sen. Kyle Mullica is facing pressure from fellow Democrats who say he is blocking a vote on a proposed new excise tax on firearms."

Short Takes

Lying Cops: It's rather distressing that some departments seem to go out of their way to protect dishonest cops.

Light Touch Density: "We need smaller homes on smaller lots. If you legalize it, they will build it." So says AEI's Edward Pinto, as reported by the Post. See AEI's report.

Furry Suit: Some Republicans just insist on reminding voters about how foolishly obsessed they are with such non-issues as "furries" in schools. Erik Maulbetsch: "The leader [Lindsay Datko] of a conservative Jefferson County parents group [Jeffco Kids First] is suing her local newspaper, and she's hired former Secretary of State Scott Gessler to represent her." I call bullshit. And it's sad to see Gessler become a legal bottom-feeder. Go read Rylee Dunn's article and judge for yourself.

Republican Bashing: I find listening to Ian Silverii and Jason Bane beat up Colorado Republicans cathartic.

Defensive Gun Uses: In another episode of Silverii and Bane's podcast, the pair declare claims of high numbers of defensive gun use to be "bullshit." Notably, they don't explain what's supposedly wrong with the survey-based claims. Dave Kopel and I discuss a 2021 paper by William English estimating "that guns are used defensively by firearms owners in approximately 1.67 million incidents per year. Handguns are the most common firearm employed for self-defense (used in 65.9% of defensive incidents), and in most defensive incidents (81.9%) no shot was fired." Obviously, if you only count defensive gun uses in which the gun is fired or in which someone is shot, you're going to come up with much lower numbers. Another issue is that many defensive gun uses are not reported to police, so if you're relying only on police reports you're going to miss a lot.

Uranium: Biden banned uranium imports from Russia, so a Colorado company that owns a mine in Utah is planning to ramp up production. Generally I'm pro-free trade, but uranium has very-obvious national security implications.

Biden's Trade War: Polis condemned Biden's Chinese EV and solar panel tariffs. Biden has taken a major reason for voting for him off the table, given he's proven he's as anti-trade as Trump. It's obvious these tariffs are about protecting U.S. firms rather than U.S. security interests.

Child Welfare: Jennifer Brown: "A child protection caseworker in Colorado who gets caught falsifying records or lying about checking on children in one county can get a job in another county. . . . After a string of high-profile cases of child protection workers fabricating reports, state officials are now working to strengthen the law." Children are supposed to protected by these agencies, not need protection from them!

Primaries: Marianne Goodland and Sandra Fish have the news about Democratic primaries, several of which involve self-declared "Democratic Socialists."

Noem's Dog: Kristi Noem killed a dog of hers that was aggressive and attacking people as well as livestock. Democrats are going crazy over this. Apparently it's way better to pay a vet to kill an aggressive dog with drugs instead. We all know if that if Noem's dog had bitten anyone now criticizing Noem for killing her dog, they would have insisted that Noem have her dog killed. Anyway, manufactured controversy over the incident derailed a Jeffco GOP event.

Ari Armstrong's Web Log (Main) | Archives | Terms of Use