Forest Service sets public meetings for North Fork coal mining plans

Plan could unleash 36.6 billion tons of greenhouse gases

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A federal judge ordered the U.S. Forest Service to disclose greenhouse gas emissions from a proposed coal mining project in Colorado.

Staff Report

The public will have a chance to weigh in on a U.S. Forest Service proposal to expand coal-mining on public lands in south-central Colorado at two public hearings, Dec. 7 in Paonia and Dec. 9 in Denver.

At issue is a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Colorado Roadless Rule released November 20. The study addresses a recent court ruling that blocked the coal mining expansion in the North Fork Valley, near Paonia, pending more analysis and disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions associated extracting and burning the coal. Continue reading

Global warming: Politicians set lofty goals for Paris climate deal — can the negotiators deliver?

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Climate negotiators in Paris are racing against time, as the Earth gets warmer and warmer.

Goals to de-carbonize energy production are at the fore

Staff Report

The world’s political leaders voiced nearly unanimous support for a climate-change agreement during the opening days of the COP21 talks in Paris — what remains to be seen is whether negotiators can deliver on the nitty gritty details needed to seal the deal.

So far, heads of state have presented new renewable energy and financial commitments to boost climate adaptation and resilience. Major initiatives include an African solar energy commitment; an international solar alliance launched by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande; a major private partnership for renewable energy development; and a public initiative launched by 20 countries to double their current existing funding for renewable research and development. Continue reading

Environment: Seismic oil surveys threaten sea turtles

A loggerhead sea turtle off the coast of New England. Photo courtesy NOAA/Matthew Weeks.

A loggerhead sea turtle off the coast of New England. Photo courtesy NOAA/Matthew Weeks.

Scientists say pro-active mitigation could reduce risk

Staff Report

Marine biologists already know that a number of ocean species are at risk from massive seismic blasting operations used to map oil and gas reserves beneath the ocean floor. A new study by scientists with the University of Exeter warns that seismic surveys may also threaten sea turtles.

The review, published in the journal Biological Conservation, found that compared to marine mammals and fish, turtles are largely ignored in terms of research attention and are often omitted from policy guidelines designed to mitigate the environmental risks of seismic surveys. Continue reading

Environment: Death knell for Keystone XL pipeline?

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The future of the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline is doubt, as Transcanada seeks a delay of U.S. State Department review.

Grassroots resistance pays off; fossil fuel economics also a factor

Staff Report

Climate activists say this week’s request by TransCanada for a time-out of the Keystone XL tarsands pipeline review process is a clear sign that the political tide has shifted against the expansion of fossil fuels.

Transcanada cited uncertainty over the pipeline route through Nebraska as a key reason for its request, but pipeline critics say the company is simply stalling, hoping to delay a final decision until after the November 2016 U.S. presidential election. Continue reading

Activists challenge permit for Navajo Generating Station

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A lawsuit claims the federal government didn’t follow open-meeting requirements as it developed a permitting plan for the Navajo Generating Station near Page. Ariz. Photo via Wikimedia and the Creative Commons.

Legal complaint alleges federal agencies violated open meeting rules

Staff Report

Community activists will challenge the federal government’s permit for the pollution-spewing Navajo Generating Station, alleging in a lawsuit that the EPA and the U.S. Department of Interior violated open-meeting regulations during the permitting process.

The plant, located on Navajo lands near Page, Arizona, is one of the nation’s oldest and dirtiest coal-fired plants. Toxic emissions fall especially heavily on the Navajo Nation, which suffers some of the highest rates of asthma and other lung problems in any community in the country. Continue reading

Arctic Ocean oil and gas lease auctions canceled

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Arctic Ocean oil and gas drilling is off the table for now.

Feds also deny requests for extension of current leases

Staff Report

Drilling for oil and gas in the U.S. slice of the Arctic Ocean is a no-go for the foreseeable future, federal officials said this week, canceling plans for future lease sales and denying extension requests for existing leases.

Citing market conditions and low industry interest, the U.S. Department of the Interior said it’s canceling two potential Arctic offshore lease sales scheduled under the current five-year offshore oil and gas leasing program. The decision comes on the heals of Shell’s announcement to halt exploration in the Chukchi Sea. Continue reading

Bakken drilling boom displaces grassland birds

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Rare species like the Sprague’s pipit are losing ground to energy development. USFWS photo.

More thoughtful energy development could reduce habitat impacts

Staff Report

If the Bakken drilling boom continues, land managers and fossil fuel companies will have to do much more to prevent further displacement of grassland birds, according to U.S. Geological Survey scientists.

Already, the furious pace of energy development in the region has displaced many species, the researchers said after documenting habitat impacts in a new study of Bakken grassland sites in northern North Dakota containing oil well pads. Continue reading

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