Posted on May 16, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
BLM wants to update 30-year-old fracking regs.
Common sense steps address some environmental and health concerns
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — An updated set of draft rules for fracking on public and Indian lands includes several common-sense safeguards that will help protect the human health and safety, as well as the environment. For starters, the rule requires disclosure of the chemicals used for fracking, a key measure that ensures transparency and gives the public some assurance.
The proposed rule beefs up standards meant to insure well bore-integrity, which will help verify that fluids used during fracturing operations are not contaminating groundwater. Operators must also have a plan in place for handling fluids that flow back to the surface.
About 90 percent of wells drilled on Federal and Indian lands use hydraulic fracturing, but the Bureau of Land Management’s current regulations governing hydraulic fracturing operations on public lands are more than 30 years old and were not written to address modern hydraulic fracturing activities. (more…)
Filed under: BLM, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling, public lands | Tagged: BLM, Bureau of Land management, energy, Environment, fossil fuels, fracking, hydraulic fracturing, Indian reservation, Interior Department, public lands | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 14, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Fossil fuel industry frustrated by federal delays
The BLM, conservation groups and the fossil fuel industry are grappling with a development plan for the Roan Plateau in northwest Colorado.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — The fossil fuel industry continues to battle over energy development in court, most recently by asking a federal appeals court to overturn a previous lower court ruling that spurred the Bureau of Land Management to reconsider its plan for northwest Colorado’s Roan Plateau.
Conservation groups joined the battle in late April, filing their response to the latest legal challenge, which would “turn back the clock” to Bush-era energy development policies, according to Earthjustice, which is representing community and environmental groups in the case.
At issue is how many wells will be drilled atop the plateau, which is billed by conservation advocates to have high natural resource values. The fight dates back to a development plan approved by the BLM under the Bush administration. (more…)
Filed under: BLM, Colorado, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling, public lands | Tagged: Bill Barrett Corporation, BLM, Colorado, Earthjustice, energy, Environment, public lands, Roan Plateau | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 13, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Retired park rangers call on the BLM to fully adopt national leasing reforms
Mesa Verde National Park could be at risk from oil and gas drilling. NPS photo.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — As oil and gas drilling rigs creep closer and closer to the borders of popular national parks around the country, a passel of retired park rangers has formed a new organization to try and protect cherished resources, including view sheds, air quality and wildlife habitat.
The idea is not to stop drilling. The ex-rangers acknowledge that energy development is needed. Rather, the group wants to hold other federal agencies — primarily the BLM — accountable to national guidance that requires smart, up-front planning when it comes to drilling around parks.
“We’re really concerned about the impacts if the drilling isn’t properly planned,” said Ellis Richard, a National Park Service veteran who ended his career as acting superintendent of Dinosaur National Monument, one of the park units potentially threatened by drilling. (more…)
Filed under: BLM, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling, public lands | Tagged: BLM, Dinosaur National Monument, fracking, National Park Service, oil and gas drilling, public lands | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 9, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Colorado may update its enforcement policies for oil and gas drilling operations.
More fracking debates ahead …
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — After the Colorado General Assembly stumbled in its efforts to get a better regulatory handle on oil and gas drilling, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will get another bite at the apple.
Gov. John Hickenlooper this week ordered the commission to review its enforcement program, penalty structure and imposition of fines. The review was ordered state lawmakers failed to reach a compromise on a bill that would have revised Colorado’s outdated enforcement system.
Under a COGCC rule-making process, the public would also be able to participate in a revision. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: COGCC, Colorado, fracking, fracking fines, John Hickenlooper | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 8, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Wrangling continues over oil and gas leasing in Colorado.
Appeal asks state BLM director to let leases expire
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Conservation advocates are challenging a decision by the Bureau of Land Management to extend the life of several oil and gas leases in the Thompson Divide area of Colorado’s White River National Forest.
The leases have been unused for 10 years and were illegally sold to begin with, according to Earthjustice, which is filing the administrative appeal on behalf of Wilderness Workshop.
“Sometimes BLM needs to just say no to the oil and gas industry,” said Earthjustice attorney Michael Freeman. “If we can’t keep energy development out of a place like the Thompson Divide, what part of Colorado is safe? We can meet our energy needs in responsible fashion without destroying our most important public lands,” Freeman said. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: BLM, Colorado, Earthjustice, energy, Environment, oil and gas, Thompson Divide, White River National Forest | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 29, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Conservation report outlines steps to mitigate potential impacts
Oil and gas drilling near national parks could affect air and water quality in pristine, protected areas. Photo courtesy National Park Service.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — After years of watching federal agencies haphazardly issuing leases for oil and gas drilling on public lands near national parks, conservation advocates say it’s time for a more systematic approach.
With the Bureau of Land Management currently updating national guidelines, the National Parks Conservation Association has outlined potential threats to parks in a new report.
“Our national parks are America’s most treasured places, and we need to treat them carefully as we develop the nation’s natural gas and oil,” said NPCA Vice President for the Center for Park Research Jim Nations. “Our research revealed that some national parks are already in peril. Unless we take quick action, air, water, and wildlife will experience permanent harm in other national parks as well.” (more…)
Filed under: air quality, energy, Environment, fracking, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: BLM, Bureau of Land management, energy, Environment, fracking, Glacier National Park, Grand Teton National Park, National Park Service, national parks, National Parks Conservation Association | 4 Comments »
Posted on April 25, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
New rules would tighten up water testing around oil and gas wells in Colorado’s Greater Wattenberg area.
Proposed law would end exemption for busy oil and gas fields northeast of Denver
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A new measure to protect Colorado water quality from fracking impacts narrowly passed a House committee on a 6-5 vote. HB 1316 requires state regulators to adopt uniform statewide groundwater sampling rules and ends an exemption for the largest oil and gas field in Colorado in the Greater Wattenberg area.
The measure would require sampling of all groundwater sources (up to a maximum of four wells) within a half-mile of proposed oil and gas wells, as well as follow-up sampling after the wells are drilled.
State officials previously said the Greater Wattenberg Are exemption was made because the state already has a robust water quality database for that area. Requiring more testing would put an “undue burden on the industry without providing additional safety benefits,” said Ginny Brannon, assistant director for water and energy at the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, in a January interview with Summit Voice.
Brannon said Weld County has a groundwater testing program that provides water well testing to any well owner requesting it, but conservation groups want more consistent statewide standards for testing. They said the new requirements are a step toward better protection of public health and the environment. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, energy, Environment, fracking, gas drilling, oil drilling, water | Tagged: Colorado, energy, Environment, fraching, Greater Wattenberg area, groundwater, hydraulic fracturing | 2 Comments »
Posted on April 22, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A school of fish gather around the base of an offshore drill rig. Photo courtesy BSEE.
Few contaminants found in fish living around offshore drilling rigs
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The idea of turning old offshore drilling rigs into artificial reefs has been floating around for a while, and USGS scientists recently reported that there’s no sign that fish living near the rigs are contaminated by oil from the drilling operations.
To help provide some baseline data for “rigs-to-reef” proposals in California, the agency compared contaminant levels in fish living around oil platforms with fish from nearby natural sites off the coast of California in the Santa Barbara Channel and the San Pedro Basin. The new and recent USGS reports are available online.
“As part of this study, we developed methods capable of detecting the extremely low levels of contaminants that we anticipated in these ocean fishes, especially since they avoid natural oil seeps,” said USGS scientist Robert Gale. “These results will assist decision-makers in helping to protect the environment off the coast of California.” (more…)
Filed under: energy, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation, oil drilling | Tagged: Artificial reef, Environment, oceans, rigs to reef, Santa Barbara Channel | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 17, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Should the BLM be required to release names of companies nominating parcels for oil and gas leasing?
Community groups say more transparency is needed early in leasing procedure
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Community groups in Colorado this week hailed the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to release the names of the entities who nominated the public lands in Western Colorado’s North Fork Valley for oil and gas drilling and fracking.
The agency’s decision is a win for the public and government transparency, said Jim Ramey, director of the Delta County community group Citizens for a Healthy Community.
“The BLM’s mission is to best manage public resources, not to promote an energy speculation and commodities trading industry. If drilling companies want to develop publicly-owned minerals they should say so publicly, allowing concerned citizens and affected communities to evaluate their health, safety, and environmental record,” Ramey said. (more…)
Filed under: BLM, Colorado, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling, public lands | Tagged: BLM, Bureau of Land management, Colorado, fracking, oil and gas drilling, oil and gas leasing, public lands | 2 Comments »