Conservation groups challenge Utah coal mining plan

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Coal mining in Utah’s Carbon County. Photo courtesy Utah Division of State History.

Activists say feds are making reckless decisions with regard to carbon pollution

Staff Report

FRISCO — King Coal’s robes may be fraying at the edges, but that news hasn’t yet reached federal agencies, which continues to make decisions that are in conflict with the Obama administration’s stated intention of reducing heat-trapping pollution.

In Utah, the federal government recently proposed auctioning leases for millions of tons of coal that will drive CO2 pollution to even higher levels. The coal leases beneath national forest lands in central Utah have been challenged by conservation groups under a formal objection process and could also face a lawsuit. Continue reading

Colorado sues feds over new fracking rules

Colorado AG claims BLM regs ‘invade’ state authority

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A fracking rig in western Colorado. @bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO —Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is challenging the federal government’s ability to regulate oil and gas development on federal public lands in the state. In a quiet Friday news dump, Coffman announced her department is suing the federal government over new fracking rules issued in March.

The lawsuit claims the federal rules “invade” the state’s regulatory authority, a similar argument over jurisdiction used by Gov. Hickenlooper and his administration when they sued a local jurisdiction that sought to impose fracking rules in a case that has since been dismissed. Continue reading

Study shows how ocean noise harms dolphins

Seismic airgun blasting, naval warfare training are key sources of harmful ocean noise pollution

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A dolphin the Gulf of Mexico. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — With ever more offshore oil and gas exploration proposed, conservation advocates have been warning that the cumulative effects of those activities will take a huge toll on dolphins, whales and other marine life.

Of particular concern are plans to ramp up seismic underwater airgun blasting, used in the search for oil and gas deposits beneath the seafloor. Federal officials recently adopted a final proposal that would allow the use of this controversial technology in an area twice the size of California, stretching from Delaware to Florida.  Continue reading

Colorado: Noble Energy agrees to clean up Front Range fracking pollution

Settlement with EPA, state health department should cut emissions of smog- and cancer-causing toxic gases

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Smoggy skies. Photo courtesy NREL.

Staff Report

FRISCO — For years, thousands of storage tanks owned and operated by Houston-based Noble Energy leaked toxic smog- and cancer-causing gases into the Colorado’s heavily fracked Front Range.

When when state and federal environmental inspectors confronted the company with evidence of the leaks, executives shrugged, and said their systems weren’t designed to handle the sudden oil and gas boom across the region. Continue reading

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

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

Job growth in renewable energy sector far outpaces losses in coal mining

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Early coal mining.

Careful study yields regionally nuanced results, but overall job growth

Staff Report

FRISCO — While many Republican politicians claim that President’s Obama is waging a job-killing war on coal, a careful analysis of the numbers show that those arguments are specious.

Duke University researchers say that, in the four years after the 2008 recession, growth in the clean energy sector (including natural gas) created four times as many jobs as were lost in the coal industry.

The county-by-county geographical analysis of the losses and gains shows nuanced results, with job growth in the Northeast and the Southwest, while some coal-dependent regions — especially southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky — did get hit hard by the recession. Continue reading

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