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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

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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

Colorado: Debate shows some common ground, many differences on fracking regulation

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.

Gov. Hickenlooper, Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones tackle tough questions in lively Denver session

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Despite a couple of interruptions by hecklers, Monday’s debate between Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones showed there may be some common ground for addressing the contentious issue of oil and gas drilling regulations.

Hickenlooper seemed to agree that the state could do more to address citizen concerns about health and quality of life impacts, and said that the venting methane from oil and gas drilling operations is an unacceptable waste.

But the lunchtime debate at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law also highlighted some of the conflicting views about the appropriate roles of local and state regulation, as well as larger questions about energy policies. Jones emphasized that Colorado residents want a clean, renewable energy future, while Hickenlooper touted natural gas as the fastest way to cut greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Continue reading

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