Study shows challenges of restoring fracking sites

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A patchwork of drill pads connected by a spiderweb of roads in northeastern Utah.

‘Wildlife habitat goals cannot be realized by merely establishing grasses …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Restoring areas after drilling and fracking requires more than just spreading out some dirt and sprinkling a few grass seeds around, according to two Colorado scientists who took a close look at 10 drilling sites in Rio Blanco County.

After sampling  two undisturbed reference sites and eight reclaimed or abandoned natural gas well pads, they found that none of the oil and gas well pads included in the study had returned to a  pre-drilling, condition — even those that had had 20 to 50 years to recover. Continue reading

Study: 15 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year escaping from Boston’s leaky pipeline network

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This map shows the geographical distribution of natural gas consumption during the year from September 2012 to August 2013 for the four states included in the study region. The research team used this data, along with air monitoring and analysis, to assess the fraction of delivered natural gas that was emitted to the atmosphere. Image courtesy of Kathryn McKain, Harvard SEAS.

Researchers say energy companies have little incentive to prevent leaks

Staff Report

FRISCO — A team of engineers and scientists say that up to 15  billion cubic feet of natural gas, worth some $90 million, may be escaping from leaky pipes in the Boston area.

The researchers, led by atmospheric scientists at Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences calculated the figure by analyzing a year’s worth of continuous methane measurements, using a high-resolution regional atmospheric transport model to calculate the amount of emissions.

Tackling the problem will require innovative policy because  low prices and the way in which natural gas suppliers are regulated mean that gas companies have little economic incentive to make the necessary investments to reduce incidental losses from leakage, according to the Harvard researchers. Continue reading

Colorado: Yet another Gunnison sage-grouse lawsuit

Gunnison sage-grouse

A male Gunnison sage-grouse struts as part of its spring mating ritual. Photo courtesy BLM.

Wildlife advocates say dwindling birds need full protection of Endangered Species Act

Staff Report

FRISCO — Dwindling Gunnison sage-grouse will have to wait a bit long to find out what kind of endangered species protection — if any — they will get.

Following the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to list the birds as threatened, the agency faces twin lawsuits — one from the State of Colorado, which claims that the birds shouldn’t be listed at all, and another from conservation groups seeking to give the birds the highest level of protection under an “endangered” listing. Continue reading

Anti-fracking groups seek ban in California

Fracked nation.

Fracked nation.

Activists say report downplays threat to water

Staff Report

FRISCO — California regulators this week released the first section of a new environmental review of fracking impacts.  But the study fails to take a hard look at many of the potentially harmful impacts, according to environmental activists.

The review by California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources was released even though state scientists are still six months away from completing their analysis of the risks and harms of the controversial form of oil and gas extraction, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. Continue reading

Report tallies 712 Colorado oil and gas spills in 2014

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A fracking operation in Colorado. bberwyn photo.

‘The risk of spills is one of the major ways that residents in the oil patch bear a disproportionate burden from the state’s energy boom’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Conservation advocates in Colorado say there were a total of 712 spills from oil and gas operations in Colorado during 2014, which together released more than 1 million gallons and other chemicals.

The data were released by the Center for Western Priorities as part of the organizations’s Toxic Release Tracker.

“This is the third year we’ve tracked oil and gas spills in Colorado, and it’s a continuing reminder that the benefits of today’s oil boom come alongside significant risks to Colorado’s communities and outdoor spaces,” said Greg Zimmerman, Policy Director at CWP. Continue reading

Colorado toughens fracking penalties

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Frackers in Colorado will face stiffer penalties for spills and other dangerous incidents. bberwyn photo.

New rules eliminate penalty cap

Staff Report

FRISCO — Daily penalties for fracking leaks and spills, or other environmentally dangerous accidents associated with fossil fuel development will go up to as much as $15,000 per day in Colorado, under new rules adopted this week by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.The beefed-up penalty structure also does away with a $10,000 penalty cap for each violation. Continue reading

Colorado oil and gas regulators hold hearing on enforcement and penalties

Fossil fuel industry says it wants clarity

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Colorado fracking operators may see changes in enforcement procedures. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Colorado oil and gas regulators will start the new year today with the continuation of a hearing aimed at beefing up enforcement and penalties. The Denver hearing starts at 9 a.m. with a live audio stream available at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission website. Continue reading

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