Colorado oil and gas task force gets down to nitty-gritty

Oil and gas drilling near schools and homes in Firestone, Colorado. Photo courtesy Shane Davis, Sierra Club, Rocky Mountain Chapter.

Oil and gas drilling near schools and homes in Firestone, Colorado. Photo courtesy Shane Davis, Sierra Club, Rocky Mountain Chapter.

Fracking industry, Hickenlooper keen to avoid ballot showdown

@bberwyn

FRISCO — A Colorado panel convened to address controversy over the giant industrial fracking facilities springing up near communities will hold its final meetings this week and  try to agree on a final list of recommendations aimed at protecting residents from the harmful impacts of oil and gas development.

The 21-member panel will discuss 35 proposals, including some that could lead to new rulemaking by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission or potentially even new legislation. Audio from meeting at the Colorado Convention Center will be streamed live via a link at the task force website starting about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday (Feb. 24). 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

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

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

Energy: Does fracking threaten national parks?

Conservation report outlines steps to mitigate potential impacts

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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.” Continue reading

Colorado: New rule for sampling groundwater near oil and gas wells wins committee test

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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. Continue reading

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