Environment: Lawsuit seeks more government transparency for Gulf of Mexico fracking

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So how much fracking is there, exactly, in the Gulf of Mexico? Photo courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

Fruitless FOIA request prompts legal action

Staff Report

FRISCO — The public may soon know more about offshore fracking operations in the Gulf of Mexico, as the Center for Biological Diversity sues the federal government in a quest for more transparency.

According to the lawsuit, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement must disclose permits, reports, emails and other documents related to the federal government’s approval for oil and gas companies to frack offshore wells in the Gulf. Continue reading

Obama unlikely to sign Keystone XL pipeline bill

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The White House and Congress are set to clash over the Keystone XL pipeline.

Court rulings, State Department decision still pending on controversial fossil fuel project

Staff Report

FRISCO — Republicans in Congress may be falling all over themselves in their haste to please the fossil fuel industry by passing a bill seeking to force approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, but the White House is saying not so fast.

This week, the Obama administration signaled that it won’t sign a pipeline bill, which would “circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether cross-border pipelines serve the national interest,” and “cut short consideration of important issues relevant to the national interest,” according to a White House statement. Continue reading

Climate: Not much wiggle room on fossil fuels

The U.S. is the second-largest producer of coal in the world, thanks in part to massive surface mines like this one in Wyoming. Photo courtesy BLM.

The U.S. is the second-largest producer of coal in the world, thanks in part to massive surface mines like this one in Wyoming. Photo courtesy BLM.

New study says most existing reserves must remain unused to prevent catastrophic climate change

Staff Report

FRISCO — While frackers and drillers are trying to squeeze every last drop of fossil fuel out of the ground as fast as they can, that path won’t help meet worldwide goals of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius.

To prevent catastrophic runaway climate change, humankind must leave a third of all existing oil reserves, half of the planet’s gas reserves and more than 80 percent of current coal reserves in the ground, according to new research by the University College London’s Institute for Sustainable Resources. Continue reading

Big fine levied for Wyoming wind turbine eagle deaths

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Big fined levied for wind turbine eagle deaths.

Company failed to avoid risks to protected birds

Staff Report

FRISCO — A Portland, Oregon-based wind energy company operating in Wyoming will pay fines, restitution and community service totaling $2.5 million for the death of protected birds at wind turbine facilities in Carbon and Converse Counties.  The two wind projects are comprised of 237 large wind turbines sited on private and company-owned land.

PacifiCorp Energy, a subsidiary of PacifiCorp, Oregon, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Wyoming to violating the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The company is also on a five-year probation and must implement an environmental compliance plan aimed at preventing bird deaths at the company’s four commercial wind projects in the state. 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

Conservation groups to sue feds over rare plants

Legal challenge says rare wildflowers in northwestern Colorado face threat from fossil fuel development despite voluntary conservation deal

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A patchwork of conservation areas may not be enough to protect rare Colorado wildflowers from extinction as fossil fuel exploitation broadens in the Green River Basin.

The rare Graham's penstemon grows primarily in the oil and gas patches of western Colorado and Utah. Photo courtesy Susan Meyer.

The rare Graham’s penstemon grows primarily in the oil and gas patches of western Colorado and Utah. Photo courtesy Susan Meyer.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The fate of two rare plants in western Colorado and eastern Utah will likely once again rest in the hands of a federal judge, as a coalition of conservation groups said they will sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its decision to deny Endangered Species Act protection to the White River and Graham’s beardtongue.

The plants grow only across a few thousand acres, scattered across the same badlands where fossil fuel drillers are expanding their footprint. A voluntary conservation deal between the USFWS and the Bureau of Land Management, adopted last summer, doesn’t go far enough to protect the plants, conservation advocates said in their formal notice of intent to sue. Continue reading

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