Appeals court rejects bid to block EPA Clean Power Plan

States free to move ahead with energy transition plans

Mercury from the Craig Station power plant in northwest Colorado pollutes lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Fossil fuel power plants like Craig Station in northwest Colorado will have to clean up their act under the Clean Power Plan. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

A federal appeals court this week rejected a last-ditch effort by fossil fuel companies  to block implementation of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which is aimed at curbing heat-trapping pollution from power plants.

An anti-environmental coalition of states and fossil fuel companies had sought an emergency stay in federal court, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit today denied that request, stating that the petitioners’s claims didn’t meet the legal standard for emergency court action. Continue reading

2015 in Review: Public lands

Energy issues drive public lands debates

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Rocky Mountain National Park turned 100 years old in 2015.

Staff Report

The battle over fossil fuel exploitation on public lands heated up in 2015, as environmental advocates launched an aggressive #keepitintheground campaign aimed at convincing the Obama administration to stop issuing leases and permits for oil and gas drilling. But along with the political and environmental battles, there were also some feel-good stories. Right here in Colorado, for example, two beloved tracts of land administered by the National Park Service celebrated centennials. Read more about those birthdays here.

It was a big year for public lands preservation. With Congress gridlocked on many issues, President Obama took the initiative to set aside hundreds of thousands of acres as national monuments under the Antiquities Act, including Browns Canyon, in Colorado. Read more about the creation of Browns Canyon National Monument in these Summit Voice stories, and learn more about President Obama’s use of the Antiquities Act here. Continue reading

Colorado fracking battle to heat up in 2016

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Colorado voters may have a chance to ban fracking in the 2016 election. @bberwyn photo.

Fracking ban eyed

Staff Report

The battle over fracking will heat up in Colorado next year, as community and activist groups target the 2016 ballot with a series of initiatives aimed at protecting homes, neighborhoods, schools, and water supplies from the dangers associated with fracking operations.

Altogether, there are 11 proposed ballot initiatives, ranging from measures that would require greater setbacks from residential areas through to an outright fracking ban. Each of the proposed constitutional amendments would require signatures from 98,492 registered Colorado voters to get on November’s ballot.

A public hearing on the ballot measure language is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Jan. 5 in Room 109 at the State Capitol. Continue reading

Climate: Proposed Senate legislation would end federal fossil fuel leases on public lands

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.

Can the ‘Keep it in the Ground’ campaign gain some political traction?

Staff Report

A new bill pending in the U.S. Senate would fundamentally shift U.S. energy policy by ending new leases for fossil fuel exploitation on public lands and canceling existing offshore federal oil and gas leases in the Arctic.

The bill, of course, has little chance of passing Congress at this point, but shows that some American politicians understand the politics — and the math — of climate change. Continue reading

Burning the rest of Earth’s fossil fuels would completely melt Antarctica

New study looks far into the climate future

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Antarctic ice sheets are already melting, but — you ain’t seen nothing yet. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Using the rest of Earth’s fossil fuels is not an option — at least not if humankind wants to avoid 150 to 200 feet of sea level rise, a team of prominent scientists said after trying to project the fate of the world’s ice sheets over the next 10,000 years.

Burning the remaining stores of coal and oil would likely lead to a complete meltdown of Antarctica, which would, over the course of millenia, swamp most of the planets densely populated areas, and them some. Continue reading

Environment: Why are Colorado wildlife biologists apologizing for the energy industry?

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Mule deer populations in northwest Colorado have taken a bit hit from energy development

‘Just pointing fingers at the energy industry is not a helpful solution to this difficult issue’

Staff Report

FRISCO — A recent study showing that energy development in northwest Colorado significantly affects wildlife habitat drew national attention, and a curious reaction from Colorado’s wildlife agency, which seemed to be apologizing on behalf of the energy industry.

The study showed that the region’s dwindling mule deer population shies well away from active drilling, to a distance of at least 800 meters. Deer displayed more nuanced responses to other infrastructure, avoiding pads with active production and roads to a greater degree during the day than night.

When they added up the impacts, the researchers found that the responses equate to alteration of mule deer behavior by human development in more than 50 percent of the critical winter range in the study area during the day and over 25 percent at night. Continue reading

Coal from the ColoWyo Mine will release 10 million tons of greenhouse gases each year

Feds release new study for embattled Colorado coal mine
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By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Federal officials have completed a new environmental study for a beleaguered coal mine in northwestern Colorado in a process that will presumably enable the mine to continue operating.

At issue is the ColoWyo Mine in Moffat County, which faced a shutdown after a federal judge found that an existing study didn’t adequately disclose the impacts of digging up and burning the coal. The lawsuit was filed by climate and environmental activists as part of a systematic campaign to highlight the vast amount of heat-trapping pollutants unleashed by the extraction and burning of coal and other fossil fuels. Continue reading

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