Court upholds Colorado’s renewable energy standard

dgRuling bolsters similar laws in other states

Staff Report

FRISCO — Colorado’s renewable energy standard is perfectly legal and reasonable, a federal appeals court held this week, rejecting a nuisance challenge from a fringe right-wing group.

Under the standard, Colorado will get 30 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. The standard also faced a challenge in the State Legislature this year, as Republicans in the senate sought to roll back the requirement.

The legal challenge from the Energy & Environment Legal Institute  claimed the standard discriminated against fossil fuel energy companies and forced outside states to comply with the standard. Read the appeals court ruling here: Energy & Environment Legal v. Epel. Continue reading

Feds to hold ‘listening sessions’ on public land coal royalties

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The public will have a chance to weigh in on federal coal mining leasing practices.

Changes to leasing rules would benefit U.S. taxpayers

Staff Report

FRISCO — After a string of reports and investigations made it clear that taxpayers are not getting their fair share of money from coal mining on federally managed public lands, the Department of Interior last week announced it will hold a series of “listening sessions” around the country on the federal coal program.

The stakes are high — in fiscal year 2012, about 42 percent of the 1.05 billion tons of coal produced in the United States came from coal tracts leased under the federal coal leasing program.

One report from an energy think tank concluded that the federal treasury may have missed out on as much as $29 billion over the past 30 years because of the way energy companies and federal land managers account for those royalties. Another recent report from the Government Accountability Office found that the federal government’s accounting system does not “provide reasonable assurance that oil and gas are accurately measured.” Continue reading

New study could cut bird deaths at wind farms

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More data, better planning and design could help reduce bird deaths at wind farms.

Research focused on golden eagles in Wyoming

Staff Report

FRISCO — Federal scientists say a new modeling study will help more accurately predict bird deaths at wind energy sites before they’re built.

The findings could help planners design more bird-friendly wind power facilities — important because by the best available estimates, the spinning turbines kill between 160,000 and 330,000 birds each year, and that number is likely to grow as the number and size of wind turbines increases. Continue reading

Environment: Tar sands oil releases 20 percent more greenhouse gas pollution than conventional crude oil

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Tar sands development in Canada.

Study bolsters arguments against more tar sands exploitation

Staff Report

FRISCO —A new study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory will add fuel to controversy over development of tar sands oil.

The analyis shows that  gasoline and diesel refined from Canadian oil sands release about 20 percent more carbon into the atmosphere over its lifetime than fuel from conventional domestic crude sources.

The research, which was conducted in collaboration with Stanford University and the University of California at Davis, shows some variability in the increase of greenhouse gas, depending on the type of extraction and refining methods. Continue reading

Environment: $160 million cleanup ordered at coal-burning, pollution-spewing Four Corners power plant

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New pollution controls will cut emissions at the Four Corners power plant.

Settlement includes requirements for regional public health and environmental mitigation projects

Staff Report

FRISCO — One of the dirtiest coal-burning power plants in the country will be required to upgrade pollution controls, cutting thousands of tons of harmful sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions.

The $160 million cleanup at the Four Corners Power Plant, located on the Navajo Nation near Shiprock, New Mexico, comes under a court-ordered Clean Air Act settlement between the EPA and several Arizona and New Mexico-based utility companies.

The total combined emission reductions secured from the settlement will exceed 2 million tons each year, once all the required pollution controls are installed and implemented. 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

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