Colorado steps up sage grouse conservation

Habitat exchange scheme eyed as key component in efforts to protect dwindling western birds

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Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is ordering state agencies to boost greater sage-grouse conservation efforts. Photo courtesy USFWS.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is calling for an all-out state effort to protect greater sage-grouse by stepping up coordination among state agencies, improving habitat on state-controlled lands, and boosting the role of the state’s oil and gas commission.

The new conservation push, announced in a May 15 executive order, also outlines a market-based habitat exchange program that would let ranchers and other landowners buy and sell conservation credits to developers, including the oil and gas industry with the goal of mitigating “residual impacts” to sage-grouse habitat. Continue reading

Ohio study tracks air pollution from fracking

Fracked nation.

A new study raises more questions about public health risks in oil and gas development zones.

Findings confirm health risks to people living near oil and gas wells

Staff Report

FRISCO — Careful air sampling near active natural gas wells in Carroll County, Ohio showed the widespread presence of toxic air pollution at higher levels than the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe for lifetime exposure, according to scientists from Oregon State University and the University of Cincinnati.

The study reinforces the need for more extensive air quality monitoring in fracking zones around the country, where exposure to the poisonous emissions are likely to lead to increased risk of cancer and respiratory ailments. Continue reading

Environment: New analysis helps pinpoint fracking pollution in Pennsylvania drinking water

Fracked nation.

Fracked nation.

Fracking substances found almost two miles away from faulty drilling operation

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists in Pennsylvania said they’ve been able to track pollution from fracking as the source of contamination in drinking water wells more than 1 mile from the fracked shale gas wells.

The stray natural gas and wastewater moved laterally along shallow to intermediate depth fractures to the source of the homes’ well water. The chemicals foamed from water faucets in three homes near a reported well-pad leak. The homes were sold to the gas company as part of a legal settlement in 2012, but scientists received samples before the transfer.

Previous studies had not been able to identify the cause of the foaming, but the new analysis found a chemical compound, 2-BE, and an unidentified complex mixture of organic contaminants, both commonly seen in flowback water from Marcellus shale activity.  Continue reading

Conservation groups outlines flaws in new oil and gas drilling plan for Colorado’s Piceance Basin

Formal protest says BLM violated planning regulations

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Thousands of new fossil fuel wells could take a toll on wildlife in northwest Colorado.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Conservation and wildlife advocacy groups are protesting a new federal plan that covers oil and gas drilling and fracking in the northwestern Corner of Colorado.

The recently published resource management plan amendment for Bureau of Land Management’s White River Field Office failed to meet legal requirements because it didn’t consider special areas of environmental concern, the groups wrote in their formal April 27 protest letter. 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

Got methane? Four Corners air quality forum set to update public on latest research on fracking emissions

‘State-of-the-art research focused on the Four Corners area is vital to the understanding of greenhouse gas emissions and potential mitigation options’

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A satellite view of the Four Corners region, courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

Staff Report

FRISCO — When orbiting satellites identified a methane hotspot over the Four Corners region, it made headlines all over the world — a sure sign, it seems, that our insatiable quest for fossil fuels has a global footprint.

Next week, residents of the region will have a chance to learn more about how various agencies are looking at methane and other pollution issues associated with fracking during a forum hosted by the Four Corners Air Quality Group. Continue reading

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