Environment: What’s the true cost of fossil fuels?

Can carbon capture help mitigate the climate impacts of carbon dioxide?

Can carbon capture help mitigate the climate impacts of carbon dioxide?

‘We’re making decisions based on misleading costs’

Staff Report

FRISCO — The costs of burning fossil fuels are much higher than official estimates when the environmental and human health toll is factored into the equation, according to Duke University scientists who took a close look at the numbers and published their findings in the journal Climatic Change.

When those costs are factored in, a gallon of gasoline costs about $3.80 more than the pump price. The social cost of a gallon of diesel is about $4.80 more than the pump price; the price of natural gas more than doubles; and coal-fired electricity more than quadruples. Solar and wind power, on the other hand, become cheaper than they initially seem. Continue reading

Energy: Sometimes you have to wrestle down the 800-pound fossil fuel gorilla one finger at a time

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The San Onofre nuclear power plant, via the Creative Commons.

Can lost nuclear power capacity be replaced by renewable energy?

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — This week’s decision by a PUC judge in California may help jolt the slow shift toward renewable energy into a higher gear, according to environmental advocates who have been watchdogging the process of replacing the power once produced by the now-defunct an Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

At issue was an application by San Diego Gas & Electric to contract with Carlsbad Energy Center, LLC for the purchase of energy from a proposed new gas-powered plant. When San Onofre closed, SDG&E was directed to replace the shuttered plant with at least 200 megawatts from clean energy resources and between 300-600 MW from “any resource,” which could include gas or clean energy. Continue reading

More fracking woes in southwest Colorado

BLM rejects request for orderly master leasing plan

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The BLM’s new management plan for the Tres Rios area is spurring criticism.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Residents and elected officials in southwest Colorado say a new management plan for a vast swath of public lands in the region favors oil and gas companies over community interests.

According to critics, the BLM Tres Rios land resource management plan would allow drilling near the edge of Mesa Verde National Park, adding to near-critical air pollution woes and disturbing important wildlife areas.

Most importantly, the federal agency ignored requests by local governments to ensure the orderly and safe development of fossil fuels. Continue reading

Colorado oil and gas task force gets down to nitty-gritty

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.

Fracking industry, Hickenlooper keen to avoid ballot showdown

@bberwyn

FRISCO — A Colorado panel convened to address controversy over the giant industrial fracking facilities springing up near communities will hold its final meetings this week and  try to agree on a final list of recommendations aimed at protecting residents from the harmful impacts of oil and gas development.

The 21-member panel will discuss 35 proposals, including some that could lead to new rulemaking by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission or potentially even new legislation. Audio from meeting at the Colorado Convention Center will be streamed live via a link at the task force website starting about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday (Feb. 24). Continue reading

Study says more data, transparency needed to address risk of fracking-related earthquakes

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A spike in Oklahoma earthquake activity has been linked with the injection of wastewater from oil and gas development.

Better seismic monitoring needed to reduce risks in vulnerable communities

Staff Report

FRISCO — Government and university scientists say better data and more transparency could help reduce the hazard of earthquakes caused by the deep injection of wastewater from oil and gas drilling and fracking operations.

Careful monitoring around injection wells and full access to information on the injection volumes and rates could help project seismic activity, the scientists reported. Continue reading

New study takes nuanced look at methane leaks

In some gas fields, leak rates appear close to official estimates

Fracked nation.

Researchers try to quantify methane leakage in natural gas fields.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Boulder-based researchers have used thousands of detailed measurements taken during overflights to take a nuanced look at methane leaks from natural gas fields.

The findings show methane leaking at the rate of tens of thousands of pounds per hour in three major natural gas basins that span Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Pennsylvania. But the overall leak rate from those basins is only about one percent of gas production there — lower than leak rates measured in other gas fields, and in line with federal estimates. Continue reading

Jared Polis to serve on House Resources Committee

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Congressman Jared Polis.

Colorado lawmaker expected to be a pro-environment voice on a panel led conservative Republicans who often undermine federal efforts to manage public lands on the behalf of all Americans

Staff Report

FRISCO — A languishing proposal to create new wilderness areas in the Colorado mountains may get a boost in Congress this year, as U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (CO-02) joins the House Natural Resources Committee.

In the last two years, the committee has been a bastion of anti-government rhetoric, in some cases considering bills that would significantly weaken protection for natural resources and public lands. As a member of the minority, Polis won’t be able to get any meaningful legislation passed on his own, but his pro-environmental voice will be a welcome addition for public lands advocates. Continue reading

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