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Colorado lawmakers aim to tighten oil and gas regs

A spreading network of oil and gas drilling rigs has heightened public concern over potential impacts to public health and the environment.

A spreading network of oil and gas drilling rigs has heightened public concern over potential impacts to public health and the environment.

Proposed bills would up fines, reduce perceived conflicts of interest

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — With many Colorado residents feeling that Gov. Hickenlooper has tilted the playing field in favor of fossil fuel development, the Colorado General Assembly will begin to explore new laws that could help balance fossil fuel extraction with public health and safety and concerns about impacts to the environment.

House Bill 13-1267 would increase the maximum daily fine for serious accidents from $1,000 to $15,000 per day and set a minimum fine of $5,000 per violation per day for violations that have a significant adverse impact on public health, safety, or welfare, including the environment. It would also repeal the cap on the maximum total fine.

House Bill 12-1269 would make it clear that the primary mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is to make sure that public health and safety and natural resources are adequately protected during the course of fossil fuel development. It also addresses the inherent conflict of interest that currently exists on the commission by prohibiting future commissioners from being employees, officers, or directors of oil and gas companies. Continue reading

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Colorado: Fort Collins moves closer to fracking ban

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SkyTruth created this map with 2008 data, showing the general location of oil and gas drilling activities in Colorado.

Town seeks to protect health and well-being of residents; critics say local bans violate state law

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Creating yet another headache for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s pro-fracking administration, Fort Collins this week voted to ban oil and gas exploration — including hydraulic fracturing — within city limits.

The 5-2 city council vote came after a several hours of citizen testimony, with a large majority of residents apparently in favor of a drilling ban. To become final, the ordinance must be passed by another vote in a few weeks.

Arguments over the ban remain the same. Supporters of the ban say the industrial processes associated with fossil fuel development don’t belong anywhere near residential areas, and the chemicals and air pollution associated with drilling pose a significant health risk. Continue reading

Colorado: More gas-drilling propaganda?

A drilling rig in Jackson County.

Industry leader caught making inaccurate statements about oil and gas drilling impacts to groundwater

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The public relations war over recent statements by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and oil and gas industry officials continued this week, as community activists pointed out yet another misleading and inaccurate statement about the impacts of fossil fuel development.

This time, the president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association was under the gun for a statement she made to the Denver Post about groundwater pollution. In the Feb. 28 story, Tisha Schuller was quoted as saying, “there has not been a drilling or hydraulic-fracturing incident that has affected groundwater, and there have been no incidents which have affected a family’s or community’s drinking water.” Continue reading

EPA plans new air quality regs for oil and gas drilling

Emissions from gas-drilling rigs would be substantially reduced under a proposed new set of EPA regulations. PHOTO FROM WIKIPEDIA VIA THE CREATIVE COMMONS.

 Updated rules target greenhouse gases, toxic emissions and smog-forming VOCs

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — A proposed new set of EPA air quality regulations would dramatically reduce impacts from energy development by requiring the capture of 95 percent of harmful smog-forming emissions from oil and gas drilling operations.

The proposal includes the review of four rules for the oil and natural gas industry: a new source performance standard for VOCs; a new source performance standard for sulfur dioxide; an air toxics standard for oil and natural gas production; and an air toxics standard for natural gas transmission and storage.

According to the EPA, the new rules are based on proven technologies that are already in use today. The agency says the reductions can be achieved by capturing natural gas that currently escapes into the air, and making that gas available for sale. The rules also would reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and air toxics, which are known or suspected of causing cancer and other serious health effects.

All the EPA information on the new rules is online here. Continue reading

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