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Colorado: BLM defers touchy North Fork drilling leases

88,000 acres go on auction block next week

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A BLM map identifies areas up for oil and gas drilling leases, as well as areas where lease sales have been deferred.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The Bureau of Land Management will offer up another 90,000 acres of land in Colorado for oil and gas drilling next week, but the agency did defer sales of about 20,000 acres of controversial proposed leases in the North Fork area.

The BLM also deferred the leasing of several parcels along the entrance road to Dinosaur National Monument because the agency doesn’t have a current inventory of the area’s wilderness characteristics, according to Ellyne Bannon, of the Checks and Balances Project.

Details of the upcoming lease sale are at this BLM website. Continue reading

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Colorado: South Park to seek federal aquifer protection

Sole source designation could help guard against mining impacts

A typical in-situ uranium mining test-drilling site during the exploration phase. Photo courtesy Save Our South Park Water.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — South Park residents concerned about impacts of uranium mining and other forms of energy development are seeking federal protection for their water supplies under a sole source aquifer designation from the EPA.

The designation would require more in-depth review of any proposed activities that could affect water supplies. Of special concern is uranium mining near Hartsel, as well as potential development of oil and gas resources. The designation could also result in buffers and other protective measures.

Gaining the EPA designation is a multi-step process beginning Sept. 11 with a meeting of the local environmental advisory board. Citizens will offer a petition requesting the South Park county commissioners to sponsor a formal request for the designation to regional, state and federal authorities. Get an overview of the  regional sole source aquifer program at this EPA website. Continue reading

Researchers advocate for stronger Antarctica treaty

Frozen continent facing a slew of potential threats, from energy development to pollution and invasive species

Parts of Antarctica saw a wave of commercial exploitation during the whaling era, and leading scientists warn there could be increased pressure to develop energy resources in coming years. Photo by Bob Berwyn.

By Summit Voice

Antarctica could face the same energy development pressures seen in other parts of the world, says Texas A & M oceanography professor Mahlon “Chuck” Kennicutt II.

As deepwater drilling technologies improve, the coastal reaches of the world’s only uninhabited continent could become an attractive target for energy hungry countries, he said.

Kennicutt, president of the president of the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research, said Antarctica also faces threats from global warming, increased tourism, pollution, overfishing and invasive species.

“Many people may not realize that Antarctica is a like a ‘canary in a coal mine’ when it comes to global warming, and Antarctica serves as a sort of thermostat for Earth,” he said. “The polar regions are the most sensitive regions on Earth to global warming, responding rapidly, so what happens in Antarctica in response to this warming affects the entire Earth system in many ways that we barely understand.” Continue reading

Energy: Too much public land leasing – or not enough?

Gulf of Mexico offshore oil rigs and tracts.

Report shows that energy companies are not maximizing production and exploration in areas already under lease

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Illustrating some of the vexing questions associated with energy development on public lands, the Obama administration this week released a report that details how oil and gas companies aren’t developing the leases, and at the same time, offered new leases for oil shale research and development and details on new offshore drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s probably not surprising that the administration is trying to straddle the fence. Despite the fact that domestic oil and gas production are near or at record highs, President Obama is facing a constant barrage of politically motivated criticism directed at his energy policies that cynically use high gas prices as a clumsy and well-worn political weapon. Continue reading

Protestors hold sit-in at Department of Interior offices

Rocky Mountain residents joined with hundreds of other protesters this week in a march to the U.S. Department of Interior headquarters in Washington, D.C. to call for an end to offshore oil drilling, coal mining and tar sands oil extraction.

Public land energy development policies at issue for new direct-action groups

By Summit Voice

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SUMMIT COUNTY — Rocky Mountain residents joined with hundreds of other protestors this week in a march to the U.S. Department of Interior headquarters in Washington, D.C. to call for an end to offshore oil drilling, coal mining and tar sands oil extraction.

The march, along with a non-violent sit-in at the Department of Interior offices, suggest that activists are preparing to take the battle over public lands to the next level with a direct action campaign. The rhetoric that accompanied the demonstration shows that there is at least one faction of environmental activists growing impatient with the low-key lobbying by mainstream environmental groups.

“Our demonstration today is to show that Wyoming might be small in population but mighty in heart,” said demonstrator Kevin Uransky, a resident of Wyoming’s coalfields area and a member of High Country Rising Tide.  We don’t want to just stand by and allow big corporations to destroy our homes, our way of life, and some of last open, beautiful, and undeveloped terrain left in the United States. We want to show that Wyoming has a voice not to be drowned out by those of more represented states, we have a voice, we have an opinion, and we want to be heard.” Continue reading

Colorado: Foes of HD Mountains drilling in court today

The U.S. Forest Service approved gas drilling in the HD Mountains of southwest Colorado despite local concerns about environmental impacts. PHOTO COURTESY COLORADO WILD.

March 10 hearing could be pivotal in effort to prevent roadless area energy development

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Landowners, farmers, hunters in the southwestern corner of Colorado will be heard in a federal appeals court today (March 10) as they  try and prevent gas drilling in little-known corner of the San Juans. The HD Mountains are described as a roadless watershed area that provides critical winter habitat for wildlife. See maps of the area proposed for drilling here.

“In a region peppered with tens of thousands of gas wells, there must be places where drilling is simply not allowed – regardless of what resources lie beneath the surface,” said Megan Graham, director of the San Juans Citizens Alliance.

“Balancing energy needs against the values that such activity inherently threatens is a challenge that land-management agencies struggle with to varying degrees of success. It is our job as conservationists to push those agencies to recognize in their decisions the resources that offset our collective demand on public lands. Carving out a little bit of space, here and there, where well enough is left alone is critical to offsetting the constant pressure on our public lands,” Graham said. Continue reading

Powering the world with wind, water and solar

Innovative Energy underwrites coverage of energy stories.

High efficiency offshore wind farms are part of a plan to convert global energy use to renewable resources in the next few decades. Photo by Hans Hillewaert under a Creative Commons, share-alike license.

Detailed plan outlines total global conversion to renewable energy sources

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Most of the world’s energy demands could be met from renewable sources within the next 20 to 40 years — without waiting for a technological magic bullet, according to a pair of California researchers who said the only obstacle is the lack is the political and social will.

The study was co-authored by Stanford University’s Mark Z. Jacobson and  Mark Delucchi, of the University of California-Davis. It outlines the costs, technology and material requirements of a complete conversion to renewable energy sources based on a plan they developed. The researchers approached the conversion with the goal that, by 2030, all new energy generation would come from wind, water and solar, and by 2050, all pre-existing energy production would be converted as well.

“Based on our findings, there are no technological or economic barriers to converting the entire world to clean, renewable energy sources,” said Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering. “It is a question of whether we have the societal and political will … We wanted to quantify what is necessary in order to replace all the current energy infrastructure – for all purposes – with a really clean and sustainable energy infrastructure within 20 to 40 years,” Jacobson continued Continue reading

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