Ohio earthquakes linked with fracking waste disposal

Geologic study leaves little room for doubt

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A Dec. 31, 2011 earthquake linked with fracking rattled plaster around Youngstown, Ohio.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Youngstown, Ohio, seemingly on stable ground, had never experienced an earthquate going all the way back to 1776. But that all changed in December 2010, when a newly built well started to pump fracking wastewater into the ground.

Starting in January 2011, seismic instruments recorded 109 tremors, and a careful study of the pattern of earthquakes — as strong as a magnitude 3.9 — suggests they are linked to the well in neighboring Pennsylvania. Continue reading

Finding balance between energy development, conservation

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Graph courtesy Center for Western Priorities.

New report highlights need for more emphasis on land protection

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Public lands in the West are being leased for oil and gas production at a steady rate, but setting aside lands for non-industrial purposes has not kept pace — and it’s not just Republicans who are to blame.

The last time Congress  protected public lands was under an omnibus public lands bill that set aside more than 2 million acres of wilderness and established three new national park units, a new national monument, three new national conservation areas, and more than 1,000 miles of national wild and scenic rivers.

Since then, both parties have emphasized fossil fuel production for the past decade, according to a coalition of advocacy and conservation groups who released a new report last week outlining the need to protect at least as many areas as are being leased for drilling and fracking. Continue reading

Energy: BLM to study California fracking impacts

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Widespread deposits of valuable natural gas and oil in shale formations has spurred the fracking boom.

Some leasing likely to be on hold for at least a year

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Following a legal challenge, federal officials said last week they will re-evaluate the potential impacts of fracking to public lands in California. The federal environmental study will be accompanied by a statewide independent scientific assessment of fracking in central California.

The new studies were announced after a federal court upheld a legal challenge of the  BLM’s decision to auction off about 2,500 acres of land in Monterey County to oil companies. The lawsuit was brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club. Continue reading

Energy: GOP seeks to force more offshore drilling

Anti-environmental energy bill would increase heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions and risk more oil spills

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Surfers, and many other coastal conservation advocates, are not happy with a GOP plan to open vast new ocean areas to offshore oil and gas drilling. Bob Berwyn photo.

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A bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives would require the Obama administration to open huge new areas for offshore fossil fuel development.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Just a few days after President Obama described the urgent need to move away from fossil fuels, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would result in even more heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions.

Playing their well-worn jobs and gas prices card, House Republicans pushed through the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act (H.R. 2231), a measure that would open nearly all coastal areas to offshore drilling.

“President Obama came into office with a tremendous opportunity to expand America’s offshore oil and natural gas production. Instead, he said NO to new American jobs and NO to new American energy by canceling lease sales, placing more offshore areas off-limits,and effectively re-imposing an offshore drilling moratorium,” House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings said after the vote. Continue reading

Colorado craft brewers join fracking fight

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Good beer needs clean water.

Letter to Gov. Hickenlooper calls for better balance between energy development and resource protection

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Colorado’s brewers — including two Summit County based operations — are flexing a little political muscle and calling on Gov. John Hickenlooper to strike a better balance between energy development and conservation.

Rick Tork, manager of Frisco’s Backcountry Brewery, and Pug Ryan’s Steakhouse and Brewery owner Annie Holton, signed on to represent Summit County.

In a letter to Hickenlooper, the brewers, 26 in all, cited the importance of Colorado’s image and marketability for craft brewing and the important economic impact of keeping Colorado’s skies and waters clear and clean, saying that the state’s brand and high quality of life “attracts new residents, businesses, entrepreneurs and millions of tourists annually.”

A spokesman at the governor’s office said Hickenlooper recognizes the value of the craft-brewing industry.

“The craft brewing industry is a great economic driver for Colorado and we value our relationship with brewers across the state. We will review the letter and respond appropriately,” said communications director Eric Brown. Continue reading

Growing coalition demands faster shift to renewable energy

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Water, energy at issue in demonstration in Scottsdale, Arizona. Photo courtesy Black-Mesa Water-Coalition.

Navajo Nation looking for energy and environmental justice

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — In a peaceful demonstration against energy imperialism, members of Navajo Nation demonstrated the power of solar along the Central Arizona Project canal in Scottsdale, using a large mobile solar-powered generator to run pumps that moved water from the canal into nearby buckets and barrels.

“Many Navajo families had to pen their sheep alone today on the reservation to be here in Scottsdale and show SRP (Salt River Project) that solar works,” said Marshall Johnson, Navajo Nation resident and To Nizhoni Ani co-founder. “We were able to get a little bit of water from CAP pumped into our barrels today before the police moved us, and we are going to take this back to our sheep on the reservation.”

After decades of coal industry on Navajo Nation, many Navajo families have not benefited; thousands still lack electricity and running water to their homes and haul water in trucks every week for cooking, cleaning, and drinking. One of those water trucks was used to bring the solar-powered pump alongside the CAP canal in Scottsdale today.

Navajos held the demonstration to send a message to the owners of the Navajo Generating Station coal-fired power plant near Page, Arizona that Navajo families want a transition away from a polluting coal industry on Navajo land that has powered CAP pumps for decades at the expense of residents’ land, health, water, and culture on the Navajo Reservation. Continue reading

Colorado: U.S. Forest Service withdraws drilling approval

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Oil and gas drilling roads and pads spread across western Colorado like a spiderweb. Bob Berwyn photo.

Community groups challenge agency’s environmental review shortcut for project in elk habitat

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — An attempt by federal land managers to rush approval for oil and gas drilling in Colorado was thwarted by watchdog groups, who challenged the U.S. Forest Service over permits for drilling on the Gunnison National Forest.

Following an appeal by the Western Environmental Law Center, filed on behalf of Citizens for a Healthy Community, The Paonia Ranger District withdrew its earlier OK. The appeal claimed that the USFS had failed to complete mandatory site-specific environmental analysis of drilling impacts. Continue reading

Oil money looms large in Keystone XL Pipeline vote

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House Republicans once again are trying to force approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Supporters of pipeline bill took six times as much money from oil industry as opponents

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — If the U.S. House of Representatives has its way, Canadian tar sands oil will soon be flowing across the country in a new pipeline, authorized under a law that flaunts many  important environmental laws.

Wednesday’s vote on H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act, marks the seventh time the House has tried to force approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. While today’s vote saw fewer representatives voting in favor of the resolution than past votes, it still showed the oil money rules congress.

Watchdog groups did the math:

  • Members of Congress supporting the pipeline took in a combined $56 million from fossil fuel interests, $36 million from oil industry interests alone;

  • Members supporting the pipeline took an average of $233,774 from all fossil fuel interests, $150,604 from oil industry interests alone;

  • Members opposing the pipeline took an average of $24,886 from all fossil fuel interests, and $24,886 from oil industry alone; and

  • Supporters took 6 times more from the oil industry than opponents. Continue reading

Colorado: Wildlife experts to offer update on mule deer studies

Mule deer in winter. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Mule deer in winter sagebrush habitat. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials say they want feedback from public

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — With several extensive research projects on northwest Colorado mule deer populations under way, biologists say they want to update the public on those efforts. A long-term trend of declining populations has spurred several studies, as scientists look at predation, food supplies and energy development as possible factors.

To discuss their findings so far, wildlife managers are inviting the public to a presentation with biologists, researchers and wildlife officials, Wednesday, May 29 at 7 p.m. at the Mountain Valley Bank, 400 Main Street in Meeker. Continue reading

Energy: BLM eyes new rules for fracking on public lands

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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. Continue reading

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