Posted on May 16, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
BLM wants to update 30-year-old fracking regs.
Common sense steps address some environmental and health concerns
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — An updated set of draft rules for fracking on public and Indian lands includes several common-sense safeguards that will help protect the human health and safety, as well as the environment. For starters, the rule requires disclosure of the chemicals used for fracking, a key measure that ensures transparency and gives the public some assurance.
The proposed rule beefs up standards meant to insure well bore-integrity, which will help verify that fluids used during fracturing operations are not contaminating groundwater. Operators must also have a plan in place for handling fluids that flow back to the surface.
About 90 percent of wells drilled on Federal and Indian lands use hydraulic fracturing, but the Bureau of Land Management’s current regulations governing hydraulic fracturing operations on public lands are more than 30 years old and were not written to address modern hydraulic fracturing activities. (more…)
Filed under: BLM, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling, public lands | Tagged: BLM, Bureau of Land management, energy, Environment, fossil fuels, fracking, hydraulic fracturing, Indian reservation, Interior Department, public lands | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 14, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Fossil fuel industry frustrated by federal delays
The BLM, conservation groups and the fossil fuel industry are grappling with a development plan for the Roan Plateau in northwest Colorado.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — The fossil fuel industry continues to battle over energy development in court, most recently by asking a federal appeals court to overturn a previous lower court ruling that spurred the Bureau of Land Management to reconsider its plan for northwest Colorado’s Roan Plateau.
Conservation groups joined the battle in late April, filing their response to the latest legal challenge, which would “turn back the clock” to Bush-era energy development policies, according to Earthjustice, which is representing community and environmental groups in the case.
At issue is how many wells will be drilled atop the plateau, which is billed by conservation advocates to have high natural resource values. The fight dates back to a development plan approved by the BLM under the Bush administration. (more…)
Filed under: BLM, Colorado, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling, public lands | Tagged: Bill Barrett Corporation, BLM, Colorado, Earthjustice, energy, Environment, public lands, Roan Plateau | 2 Comments »
Posted on May 13, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Retired park rangers call on the BLM to fully adopt national leasing reforms
Mesa Verde National Park could be at risk from oil and gas drilling. NPS photo.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — As oil and gas drilling rigs creep closer and closer to the borders of popular national parks around the country, a passel of retired park rangers has formed a new organization to try and protect cherished resources, including view sheds, air quality and wildlife habitat.
The idea is not to stop drilling. The ex-rangers acknowledge that energy development is needed. Rather, the group wants to hold other federal agencies — primarily the BLM — accountable to national guidance that requires smart, up-front planning when it comes to drilling around parks.
“We’re really concerned about the impacts if the drilling isn’t properly planned,” said Ellis Richard, a National Park Service veteran who ended his career as acting superintendent of Dinosaur National Monument, one of the park units potentially threatened by drilling. (more…)
Filed under: BLM, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling, public lands | Tagged: BLM, Dinosaur National Monument, fracking, National Park Service, oil and gas drilling, public lands | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 8, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Wrangling continues over oil and gas leasing in Colorado.
Appeal asks state BLM director to let leases expire
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Conservation advocates are challenging a decision by the Bureau of Land Management to extend the life of several oil and gas leases in the Thompson Divide area of Colorado’s White River National Forest.
The leases have been unused for 10 years and were illegally sold to begin with, according to Earthjustice, which is filing the administrative appeal on behalf of Wilderness Workshop.
“Sometimes BLM needs to just say no to the oil and gas industry,” said Earthjustice attorney Michael Freeman. “If we can’t keep energy development out of a place like the Thompson Divide, what part of Colorado is safe? We can meet our energy needs in responsible fashion without destroying our most important public lands,” Freeman said. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: BLM, Colorado, Earthjustice, energy, Environment, oil and gas, Thompson Divide, White River National Forest | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 30, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Popular Rabbit Valley campground enlarged
The BLM is improving some facilities in the popular McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, west of Grand Junction, Colorado. Photo courtesy BLM.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Campers in western Colorado will have more options this summer, as the Bureau of Land Management quadruples the size of the Rabbit Valley Campground, from four spots to 16.
The campground, in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area west of Grand Junction, will be closed for several weeks while the work — including two new group campsites — is under way. The campground road will be improved, and each campsite will now have a tent pad, fire ring and picnic table.
“Rabbit Valley is a great place to car camp, and these improvements are designed to enhance the camping experience for visitors,” said Ben Blom, acting National Conservation Area manager for the BLM Grand Junction Field Office. (more…)
Filed under: BLM, boating, camping, Colorado, public lands, recreation | Tagged: BLM, camping, Colorado, Grand Junction Colorado, McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, outdoors, Ruby Horsethief Canyon | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 29, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Conservation report outlines steps to mitigate potential impacts
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.” (more…)
Filed under: air quality, energy, Environment, fracking, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: BLM, Bureau of Land management, energy, Environment, fracking, Glacier National Park, Grand Teton National Park, National Park Service, national parks, National Parks Conservation Association | 4 Comments »
Posted on April 17, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Should the BLM be required to release names of companies nominating parcels for oil and gas leasing?
Community groups say more transparency is needed early in leasing procedure
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Community groups in Colorado this week hailed the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to release the names of the entities who nominated the public lands in Western Colorado’s North Fork Valley for oil and gas drilling and fracking.
The agency’s decision is a win for the public and government transparency, said Jim Ramey, director of the Delta County community group Citizens for a Healthy Community.
“The BLM’s mission is to best manage public resources, not to promote an energy speculation and commodities trading industry. If drilling companies want to develop publicly-owned minerals they should say so publicly, allowing concerned citizens and affected communities to evaluate their health, safety, and environmental record,” Ramey said. (more…)
Filed under: BLM, Colorado, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling, public lands | Tagged: BLM, Bureau of Land management, Colorado, fracking, oil and gas drilling, oil and gas leasing, public lands | 2 Comments »
Posted on April 16, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A small increase in day use fees will help maintain busy facilities along the Upper Colorado River between Pumphouse and Dotsero. Photo courtesy BLM.
Fees go toward facility improvements and seasonal rangers along the river
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Boaters, hikers and anglers will pay just a bit more to use Bureau of Land Management day use areas along the upper Colorado River between Pumphouse and Dotsero.
The daily fee is jumping from $3 to $5 and season passes are climbing from $15 to $20 in the first fee increase since 1998 for the popular area, used by about 60,000 people annually.
“All the fees collected in these areas stay here to provide services and improvements for the people using the area,” said Susan Cassel, acting Kremmling Field Manager. “In addition to helping fund our seasonal rangers, we’ve also made significant improvements to the launch sites, campgrounds and other facilities.” (more…)
Filed under: BLM, boating, camping, Colorado, fishing, hiking, public lands, recreation, rivers | Tagged: BLM, Colorado, Colorado River, Pumphouse, Radium, rafting, Upper Colorado | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 8, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A view of the Roan Plateau from a NASA satellite.
BLM starts new environmental study for drilling leases in sensitive wildlife area
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — With comments coming in on a revised BLM study for fossil fuel development on Colorado’s Roan Plateau, it’s clear that there’s little common ground between the energy industry and conservation groups.
Hunters, anglers and environmentalists want the federal agency to set strict protections for natural resources, while oil and gas companies say the government needs to get on with opening the area for drilling as required under federal law.
A federal court last year ruled that the 2008 drilling plan didn’t consider conservation-oriented options, and that it didn’t adequately analyze the cumulative air quality impacts of oil and gas drilling. The BLM has acknowledged that developing up to 1,500 wells on the Roan Plateau would permanently alter some areas of high quality fish and wildlife habitat.
Meanwhile, fossil fuel stakeholders, represented by the West Slope Colorado Oil & Gas Association also submitted comments, explaining that federal law requires the Roan Plateau to be leased and calling on the BLM to make only the specific supplemental analysis required by the court. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling, politics | Tagged: BLM, energy, Environment, oil and gas, public lands, Roan Plateau | 3 Comments »
Posted on March 7, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
The Blm’s Kremmling field office manages public lands in Grand, Summit and Eagle counties.
Outfitter operations to be evaluated in permitting process
By Summit Voice
The Bureau of Land Management’s Kremmling Field Office is seeking public comment on 29 commercial special recreation permit applications for outfitters offering rafting, fishing, jeep tours and other activities on public lands.
Each year, the BLM issues permits to provide recreation businesses the opportunity to operate on BLM lands and provide specific services to the public while ensuring a fair return to the public for commercial use of public lands.
To help with its evaluation of these permit applications, the BLM is seeking public comment regarding each applicant’s safety history, conflicts that have been associated with the applicants or their employees while operating on public lands, or any other information that would be useful to the agency as it considers the applications. (more…)
Filed under: BLM, Colorado, public lands | Tagged: BLM, BLM Kremmling field office, Bureau of Land management, Colorado, outfitter permitting, outfitting, public lands, recreation | Leave a Comment »