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Environmental groups challenge continued operation of giant Four Corners coal-burning power plant

The Four Corners Power Plant in a 1972 photo via Wikipedia.

The Four Corners Power Plant in a 1972 photo via Wikipedia.

Global warming impacts, health of Native American communities at issue in new federal study

Staff Report

FRISCO — President Obama may be all about tackling global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions these days, but that message hasn’t trickled to to various government agencies, including the Interior Department’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, which last week released a draft environmental study on continued operation of the Four Corners Power Plant and Navajo Mine Energy Project.

The giant coal-burning facility is one of the biggest sources of heat-trapping greenhouse gases and other toxic air pollutants in the country, yet the draft study, which would permit continued operation for another 25 years, appears to ignore any option besides business-as-usual, according to environmental groups, who say they will challenge the federal government because it failed to look at impacts on climate and to wildlife and people. Continue reading

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Lawsuit aims to block expansion of Colorado coal mine

More coal mining equals more ozone

The U.S. is the second-largest producer of coal in the world, thanks in part to massive surface mines like this one in Wyoming. Photo courtesy BLM.

The U.S. is the second-largest producer of coal in the world, thanks in part to massive surface mines like this one in Wyoming. Photo courtesy BLM.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Federal officials may have failed to adequately assess the environmental impacts of more coal mining in northwestern Colorado, according a conservation group that’s suing the Bureau of Land Management over an expansion permit for the Deserado coal mine, located in Rio Blanco County in northwestern Colorado directly south of Dinosaur National Monument.

The mine fuels the 500-megawatt Bonanza power plant, located 30 miles west in Uintah County, Utah. The mine and the power plant are connecte by a dedicated electric train.

According to WildEarth Guardians, the BLM failed to address air quality impacts from fossil fuel combustion from the Bonanza facility. The group said regional air quality monitoring shows continued violations of ozone. According to the lawsuit, the mine expansion would mean that the Bonanza power plant would continue to operate for another 16 percent years — too long in the context of climate change. Continue reading

Conservation group challenges Nevada fracking plan

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A NASA Earth Observatory map shows the dry Nevada deserts east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

BLM lease sales based on flawed, incomplete analysis, environmentalists say

Staff Report

FRISCO — Conservation advocates are formally challenging a Bureau of Land Management proposal to lease lands for natural gas exploitation in north-central Nevada based in part on the federal agency’s failure to require an in-depth environmental study.

The lease sale could open up more than 174,000 acres around Tonopah and Austin on 102 lease parcels. In filing the protest, the Center for Biological Diversity spelled out a laundry list of concerns about the BLM’s process, highlighting the fact that the agency’s evaluation of the proposed lease doesn’t come close to addressing key environmental concerns. Instead of developing more fossil fuel resources, the emphasis in Nevada should be on renewable energy resources like wind, solar and geothermal. Continue reading

Congress grapples with wind power tax credit extension

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More wrangling over renewable energy, as coal barons pull out all the stops

Fossil fuel barons are sensing the end of their era, and pulling out all the stops to squeeze a few more years of profit from their toxic activities

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Fossil fuel companies pulled out all the stops this week, cashing in their lobbying chips to corral the U.S. Senate into stalling a bill that would have extended for the wind production and investment tax credits.

A small group of senators who are deep in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry used a procedural vote to block a full Senate vote, eliciting a frustrated response from Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO).

“This is yet another example of Washington not doing the work that Coloradans and the American people expect us to do,” Bennet said. “This tax extenders bill was approved by the Senate Finance Committee with strong bipartisan support. Coloradans and the American people deserve better.

“The wind tax credit is an economic driver for Colorado’s diverse energy industry. It supports thousands of jobs up and down the supply chain. Delaying this extension risks the same type of economic damage we experienced that last time the credit was allowed to expire,” he said.

Colorado generates the sixth highest percentage of power from wind of any state in the nation. It is home to several major wind energy developers and wind turbine manufacturing facilities, employing upwards of 5,000 workers statewide. Nationally, a permanent expiration of the wind production tax credit could cost as many as 37,000 jobs, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

The political maneuvering came the same day that German officials announced that the country set a new renewable energy record, with wind and solar generating enough power to meet 74 percent of the demand on Sunday, May 11.

 

Declining populations spur Colorado mule deer strategy summit

Stakeholders to help hash out a plan in facilitated meeting format

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A Colorado mule deer near Missouri Creek. Photo courtesy Kim Fenske.

By Summit Voice

*More Summit Voice mule deer stories here

FRISCO —Colorado wildlife managers are trying to develop a strategy to confront the continued decline in the state’s mule deer population. To get some input on shaping a plan, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, in coordination with The Keystone Center, an independent facilitator, is holding a series of seven public meetings across the state, including three in the northwest region during May. The resulting strategy will guide agency efforts to work towards increasing mule deer populations. Continue reading

Wyoming Supreme Court makes it harder for fossil fuel companies to hide fracking cocktail ingredients

Drill rig in a natural gas field in Wyoming. Credit: SkyTruth, flickr

Drill rig in a natural gas field in Wyoming. Credit: SkyTruth, flickr

Ruling narrows trade secret loophole

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Fossil fuel companies in Wyoming may soon have to disclose more the chemicals they use for fracking, as the Wyoming Supreme Court decided this week that the state’s oil and gas commission has the burden of justifying the use of a trade secrets exemption that has enabled companies to keep their toxic recipes secret.

“The Wyoming Supreme Court affirmed that the public’s right to know is paramount under state law. If fracking operators don’t want to reveal what chemicals they use, they will have to prove that the chemicals are trade secrets, which means they shouldn’t be able to capriciously keep secrets from the public about dangerous chemicals,” said Katherine O’Brien, an attorney with Earthjustice, which represents the plaintiffs. Continue reading

Colorado: Judge rejects fossil fuel industry challenge to voter-approved 5-year fracking moratorium in Broomfield

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A Colorado judge this week upheld the will of voters in Broomfield, Colorado, affirming the vote on a ballot measure that enacts a 5-year ban on fracking.

Election results stand, pending a potential appeal

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A bid by the fossil fuel industry to thwart the will of voters in Broomfield, Colorado failed in court this week, as 17th Judicial District Court Judge Chris Melonakis upheld the five-year fracking ban approved by voters last November.

Question 300 passed by 17 votes, triggering a recount that brought nearly the same result. The challenge by the fossil fuel industry focused on election procedures and not on the substantive issue at hand — whether Colorado residents have the right to protect themselves and their communities from potentially harmful activities. Continue reading

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