Watchdogs say voluntary methane cuts aren’t enough

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‘To fight global warming, we need real methane rules …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — A slew of recent studies showing how heat-trapping methane emissions have been consistently underestimated apparently didn’t have a big impact on the EPA, which has proposed a voluntary program to try and cut atmospheric methane buildup, with some mandatory regulations still in the works.

The Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program (“Methane Challenge”) (PDF) (18 pp, 512K, About PDF) would provide a new mechanism enabling oil and gas companies cto track ambitious commitments to reduce methane emissions. According to the EPA, the program is based on extensive stakeholder outreach and reflects a revision of EPA’s previously proposed Gas STAR Gold framework. Continue reading

BLM finalizes new management plan for huge tracts of public land in north-central Colorado

Greater sage-grouse get special protection

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A new BLM resource management plan in place for public lands in Grand, Summit, Larimer, Jackson and Eagle counties.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The Bureau of Land Management has finalized a new plan for about 378,000 acres of public lands in Grand, Jackson, Summit, Larimer and Eagle counties, managed by the agency’s Kremmling office. The plan also covers management of 653,500 acres of subsurface mineral rights. Continue reading

Study tracks spike in fracking zone health problems

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Study shows fracking health risks. @bberwyn photo.

Hydraulic fracturing linked to increases in hospitalization rates in  Marcellus Shale

Staff Report

FRISCO — People living near active fracking sites in northeastern Pennsylvania are much more likely to be hospitalized for heart conditions and neurological illness, according to a new study.

Hospitalizations for skin conditions, cancer, and urologic problems were also associated with the proximity of dwellings to active wells, as well as to the density of wells.

“This study captured the collective response of residents to hydraulic fracturing in zip codes within the counties with higher well densities,” said senior author Dr. Reynold Panettieri, Jr., a professor of medicine and deputy director of the  Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine. Continue reading

Why are oil and gas companies wasting $360 million worth of natural gas each year?

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Oil and gas operations on public and tribal lands produce 21 percent of national emissions from gas production.

Study says easy fixes available to stop methane leaks

Staff Report

FRISCO — Methane emissions from oil and gas operations on federally managed public lands and tribal lands totaled more than 1 million tons in 2013, accounting for about 12 percent of total methane emissions across the U.S.

That methane was worth about $360 million at current gas prices, showing how oil and gas companies are squandering a valuable public resources and polluting the atmosphere, according to a new economic study released by the Environmental Defense Fund. Continue reading

BLM’s California fracking plan challenged in court

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A lawsuit in federal court could delay new oil and gas development in California. Photo via BLM.

Lawsuit say agency’s plan violates federal environmental laws

Staff Report

FRISCO — A federal plan to open more public lands in California to energy development will be tested in court, with Earthjustice filing a lawsuit to block fracking across California’s Central and San Joaquin valleys; the southern Sierra Nevada; and in Santa Barbara; San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties along California’s central coast.

At issue is a Bureau of Land Management resource plan for the region that has already been called into question in 2013, when a federal judge ruled that the BLM violated the law when it issued oil leases in Monterey County without considering the environmental risks of fracking. Continue reading

EPA fracking study eyes drinking water impacts

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A fracking rig in western Colorado.

Environmental agency found no evidence of widespread impacts

Staff Report

FRISCO — In a draft fracking study that was subject to a political tug-of-war even before it was released, the EPA found no evidence of “widespread, systemic” impacts to drinking water, but identified numerous weaknesses in the fracking process that could lead to contamination. Continue reading

Environment: Wyoming version of new sage-grouse conservation plan seen as ‘weak link’

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Lack of science-based measures will put more pressure on birds

Staff Report

FRISCO — Conservation advocates say the Wyoming version of a new regional sage-grouse conservation plan fails to meet basic science standards and will open the door to more harmful mining, grazing and fracking.

Wyoming’s version is in stark contrast to the plans for Colorado and Nevada, for example, which require that federal agencies shift industrial use outside of priority habitats for sage grouse. Continue reading

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