GOLDEN RIVER, Colo.
— The sky is gray and cloudy with an eerie silence as a pair of large, white lights illuminate the night sky over Golden River.
The moon is at full moon and the sun is just beginning to rise, and the town of Westmoreland, Colo., is a small community nestled among the mountains.
The town’s mayor is a woman named Barbara.
She’s also an avid cyclist.
“We’re a pretty small town, but we have a lot of people,” Barbara says.
And that’s the beauty of the community — it’s a welcoming place.
Westmoreman, Colo, is one of the most vulnerable communities in the United States.
Its population has been reduced to just 2,000 in the last 40 years and there are no jobs in the industry.
“There’s only about a third of the population of the city of Westmont,” Barbara explains.
“And, we don’t have enough people to fill all the positions.”
Barbara is a member of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, a nonprofit that is fighting to protect the rights of people who live here, especially those who have been displaced by the oil and gas industry.
Her organization is also working to prevent the state from closing down the coal-fired power plants that are a primary source of CO2 pollution in Westmore.
The Colorado Department of Environmental Quality has announced that it is closing three coal-burning power plants in the region that are being built by two companies, including the one in Westwood that Barbara is part of.
These plants are responsible for a whopping 46 percent of CO 2 pollution in the community.
But, that’s just the beginning.
As the EPA and the Westmorelands Regional Planning Commission begin to look at how to prevent CO 2 from reaching the communities below, Barbara is trying to help make sure her town doesn’t end up with an unbridgeable chasm.
“People in Westmont, Westmore, Westwood, Westmont are dying of CO poisoning,” Barbara tells CBS News.
“They’re dying of respiratory disease.
They’re dying from the diseases of poverty.
They have chronic illnesses.
And, they’re dying in a way that the federal government and the state are not going to help.”
For the past two years, Barbara has been working on a plan to make Westmoretown safer.
In the past, Westmorland and the other coal-producing towns in the state have been struggling to meet federal standards.
In 2015, West Morland’s rate of CO pollution was 3,100 times the state average.
The Westmorelarks have struggled to get enough electricity to keep their lights on and their homes warm.
And it wasn’t just CO pollution that was killing the residents of Westmorlands town: The city’s water supply was also being contaminated by the coal ash that was left in the riverbed.
“Westmorland has a water system that’s not even designed to treat CO2 and is actually making it worse,” Barbara explained.
“Our water supply is polluted with CO2 that we are still not getting clean water from our local rivers and our drinking water.
We’re actually going to get dirty water from the air and our air quality from our air.”
Barbara’s plan is to fix the problem with a series of initiatives.
First, she is creating a community water plan.
This would require a community to put a number on the water they use to ensure they are getting a certain amount of water a day, and she wants to get a better understanding of the water quality issues that are impacting the residents.
Second, she’s working with Westmores community to develop a carbon footprint assessment.
This is an annual, quarterly report that provides a detailed breakdown of the pollutants that are produced in Westmorlames homes and businesses.
And third, she wants Westmore to build a “green infrastructure” — a set of infrastructure improvements to protect Westmore’s climate from climate change.
“The biggest thing that’s needed in West Morlands is a strong climate plan,” Barbara said.
For more than three decades, Barbara and her husband have run Westmore Landfill in West Hills, Colo — a small, unassuming, industrial-looking building with a single door that leads to a gravel pit that was once a coal-mining site. “
I want to work with the community and with the Westmont community to come up with solutions that are going to be effective and work for Westmore and Westmorville.”
For more than three decades, Barbara and her husband have run Westmore Landfill in West Hills, Colo — a small, unassuming, industrial-looking building with a single door that leads to a gravel pit that was once a coal-mining site.
They had been looking for a new home, and they needed a place to dump their waste.
The waste was too dirty to be treated in the city.
And because of the size of the waste pit, there was no way to recycle the waste.
And since the waste was so small, they didn’t have the space to build an incinerator. West