Tackling Colorado fracking issues requires ongoing dialogue

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A fracking rig in Garfield County. @bberwyn photo

Keystone Policy Center calls for creation of new entity to resolve local control questions

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Resolving issues associated with oil and gas development in Colorado requires an ongoing dialogue, according to the Keystone Policy Center, which last week urged Governor John Hickenlooper and state legislative leaders to continue the work of the oil and gas task force that tried to tackle the thorny question of local versus state control.

The Keystone Policy Center facilitated the efforts of the task force, which recently submitted a list of recommendations to the state in its final report. Some of recommendations could be addressed as part of the state budgeting process, while others may result in new rules from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Continue reading

Environment: Expanding rubber-tree plantations seen as huge threat to biodiversity on Southeast Asia

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Expanding rubber-tree plantations threatens biodiversity in Southeast Asia. Photo courtesy Eleanor Warren-Thomas, University of East Anglia.

Major sustainability push needed to protect habitat for endangered species

Staff Report

FRISCO — The growing global demand for rubber is threatening biodiversity in Southeast Asia, where expanding plantations are encroaching on protected areas, according to a new study from the University of East Anglia.

Meeting the demand will require up to  8.5 million hectares of additional rubber plantations, but expansion on this scale will have “catastrophic” biodiversity impacts, with globally threatened unique species and ecosystems all at risk the researchers said, comparing the extent of the problem to palm oil production. Continue reading

Feds to update financial rules for oil and gas drilling

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An aerial view show a spreading network of drilling roads spreading on public lands in eastern Utah.

Lease practices, bonding requirements and royalty rates on the table in planned revision

Staff Report

FRISCO — The federal government wants to update rules governing oil and gas royalty rates and other financial aspects of oil and gas development on public lands.

In a rule-making notice to be published in the Federal Register this week, the Department of Interior said it will take public comment on rental payments, lease sale minimum bids, civil penalty caps and financial assurances for oil and gas operations.

“It’s time to have a candid conversation about whether the American taxpayer is getting the right return for the development of oil and gas resources on public lands,” Interior Secretary Jewell, said in a statement. Continue reading

Can a lawsuit save Glacier National Park’s stonefly?

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Western glacier stonefly. Photo courtesy USGS.

Conservation advocates seek to draw attention to the plight of alpine ecosystems

Staff Report

FRISCO — The Rocky Mountains are heating up at about twice the rate of the global average, threatening entire ecosystems dependent on melting snow and glacial runoff.

Some species are already on the brink of extinction, including a tiny aquatic stonefly found only in Glacier National Park, which could vanish within the next few decades at the park’s glaciers disappear under the relentless rise of temperatures. Continue reading

Feds tout progress in rebuilding fisheries

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Fishing and shrimping boats at anchor in Appalichola, Florida. @bberwyn photo.

6 valuable fish stocks removed from overfishing list, according to annual fisheries report

Staff Report

FRISCO — Federal biologists said they’re making progress rebuilding important fisheries, including valuable species like bluefin tuna in the western Atlantic, which along with five other species, was removed from the “overfishing” list.

Overall, the number of domestic fish stocks listed as overfished or subject to overfishing has dropped to an all-time low since 1997, according to a report released in mid-April by NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service. Continue reading

Antarctica meltdown likely to speed up soon

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Ice sheets of the Antarctic Peninsula. @bberwyn photo

Natural variability still the key driver for East Antarctica temps

Staff Report

FRISCO — A lack of widespread data from Antarctica means it’s still challenging to differentiate human-driven global warming from natural temperature variations in the region, German scientists said in a new study.

Climate researchers need to understand temperature trends in Antarctica to better predict how fast the ice will melt and raise global sea level. But the study concluded that the uncertainties in the temperature trends over Antarctica are larger than previously estimated. Continue reading

After dropping for a few years, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions creep up again in latest EPA tally

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Carbon dioxide … and more.

Can the EPA’s clean power plan help tame the global warming dragon?

Staff Report

FRISCO — U.S. greenhouse gas emissions have dropped 9 percent in the last 10 years, the EPA said this week, releasing its 20th annual national greenhouse gas inventory.

The latest tally is current through 2013, which shows a 2 percent increase from the previous year, due to increased energy consumption across all economic sectors and increased use of coal for electricity generation. Continue reading

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