Study says more data, transparency needed to address risk of fracking-related earthquakes

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A spike in Oklahoma earthquake activity has been linked with the injection of wastewater from oil and gas development.

Better seismic monitoring needed to reduce risks in vulnerable communities

Staff Report

FRISCO — Government and university scientists say better data and more transparency could help reduce the hazard of earthquakes caused by the deep injection of wastewater from oil and gas drilling and fracking operations.

Careful monitoring around injection wells and full access to information on the injection volumes and rates could help project seismic activity, the scientists reported. Continue reading

New study takes nuanced look at methane leaks

In some gas fields, leak rates appear close to official estimates

Fracked nation.

Researchers try to quantify methane leakage in natural gas fields.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Boulder-based researchers have used thousands of detailed measurements taken during overflights to take a nuanced look at methane leaks from natural gas fields.

The findings show methane leaking at the rate of tens of thousands of pounds per hour in three major natural gas basins that span Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Pennsylvania. But the overall leak rate from those basins is only about one percent of gas production there — lower than leak rates measured in other gas fields, and in line with federal estimates. Continue reading

Colorado fracking industry files formal objection to White River National Forest oil and gas plan

Drillers say restrictions will hinder exploitation of new shale plays to the detriment of local communities

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Most oil and gas development on the White River National Forest is limited to the far western zones in areas where drilling is already common.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Even though the vast majority of public lands in the West are already open for fossil fuel exploitation, oil and gas companies want more.

In their latest push for more drilling, three fracking industry lobbying groups are challenging the White River National Forest’s oil and gas drilling plan, claiming that the agency’s analysis was marred by politics, as elected officials pushed to have the Thompson Divide area excluded from energy development.

In their formal objection to the plan, the groups ( Western Energy Alliance, West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association and Public Lands Advocacy) the groups said that, as written, the document could prevent the development of speculative new plays in Mancos and Niobrara shale formations in western Colorado. Continue reading

Study finds massive amounts of oil from Deepwater Horizon disaster buried in Gulf of Mexico sediments

Oil spreading across the Gulf of Mexico in July, 2009. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.

A NASA satellite image shows oil spreading across the Gulf of Mexico.

‘It’s a conduit for contamination into the food web …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Five years after BP’s failed Deepwater Horizon drill rig spewed 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, a significant amount of that oil remains buried in seafloor sediments.

A new study by a Florida State University researcher estimates that about 6 to 10 million gallons of oil are still there, perhaps decomposing slowly, but probably affecting Gulf ecosystems.

“This is going to affect the Gulf for years to come,” said researcher Jeff Chanton. “Fish will likely ingest contaminants because worms ingest the sediment, and fish eat the worms. It’s a conduit for contamination into the food web,” he said. Continue reading

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

50-foot section of failed Montana oil pipeline was exposed on bed of Yellowstone River near site of spill

Cleanup hampered by icy conditions

Cleanup crews try to contain oil from a pipeline spill in the Yellowstone River, near Glendive, Montana. Photo courtesy EPA.

Cleanup crews try to contain oil from a pipeline spill in the Yellowstone River, near Glendive, Montana. Photo courtesy EPA.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Sonar surveys show that the failed Poplar Pipeline in Montana is exposed on the river bed for approximately 50 feet near the site of a breach that may have spilled as much as 50,000 gallon of oil into the Yellowstone River.

After the spill, oil sheens were spotted on the river as far as 60 miles downstream, according to the EPA. Residents in the town of Glendive, a few miles from the spill, were warned not to drink their tap water after testing found traces of oil in the town’s water supply, but after additional testing, the town’s drinking water system was deemed safe on Jan. 23.

According to the EPA, the bottom of the river bed is about one foot below the pipeline in one area, though the last official inspection of the pipeline in 2012 indicated that it was buried about eight feet below the riverbed. The EPA said the exposed section of pipeline doesn’t explain how the spill happened, but the information will help investigators determine the cause of the breach. More EPA updates at this web page. 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

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