Colorado regulators eye new fracking rules

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.

State commission will meet Jan. 25 to take action on proposed regulations

Staff Report

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is set to take some modest steps to strengthen its oversight of oil and gas development in Colorado by considering new rules that would require more cooperation between fracking operators and local communities.

The commission will meet Jan. 25 to consider rules that would ensure that fossil fuel companies provide earlier notice to local governments, as well as an opportunity for local officials to work with operators on the location of large oil and gas facilities adjacent to communities. 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

Feds to update oil and gas rules for wildlife refuges

A playa lake at the Baca National Wildlife Refuge. PHOTO COURTESY U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE.

A playa lake at the Baca National Wildlife Refuge. Photo courtesy USFWS.

USFWS taking public comment through Feb. 9

Staff Report

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to update 50-year-old regulations for oil and gas development on National Wildlife Refuge System lands.

Last week the agency published a proposed rule and draft environmental impact statement that would require fossil fuel companies to use modern best management practices, especially as they relate to abandoned infrastructure and debris.

According to the USFWS, the new regs would reduce refuge impacts, including habitat loss and degradation, wildlife mortality and displacement, and other risks to ecological integrity. Continue reading

Environment: Study says abandoned oil and gas wells are a pathway for methane leaks from new fracking sites

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How much methane is leaking through damaged and abandoned wells? Photo via USGS.

Damaged well casings and fractured ground eyed in New York study

Staff Report

Spiderweb networks of abandoned oil and gas wells and cracked rocks may be significant pathways for methane leaks that aren’t being accurate measured, according to University of Vermont researchers who studied well patterns in New York.

The scientists said that not all abandoned wells are leaking — only those that are damaged, but given the large number of abandoned wells, those damaged casings can pose an evironmental risk, they concluded. Continue reading

National Park Service to update oil and gas drilling rules

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A fracking boom near national parks has already degraded air quality and fragmented wildlife habitat around some of the country’s most cherished public lands. @bberwyn photo.

Agency acknowledges potential for adverse impacts to park values

Staff Report

The recent surge in fossil fuel exploitation on public lands near national parks has raised serious concerns about air quality, wildlife and scenic values — to the point that the National Parks Conservation Association outlined threats in a report a few years ago.

Now, the National Park Service wants to tackle some of the concerns by updating drilling regulations.  The proposal would revise current rules that are 36 years old, predating the modern fracking area. The agency hopes the update will give the fossil fuel industry more certainty, improve the agency’s ability to protect park resources and the values for which the parks were set aside, and protect visitors from potentially adverse impacts associated with fossil fuel development. Continue reading

Colorado: Not much love for new fracking rules

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Finding common ground on proposed new oil and gas drilling rules won’t be easy based on initial comments. @bberwyn photo.

Industry, community groups both criticize meek draft regulations

Staff Report

New rules proposed by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission are drawing fire from both the industry, which says the proposed regulations go far beyond what was recommended by an advisory panel that met last summer, and by some citizen groups, who claim rules leave the door wide-open to large-scale fracking operations near homes and schools.

The proposed rules specifically address recommendations made by the Colorado Oil and Gas Task Force related to the size of oil and gas extraction and processing facilities, requirements for advance disclosure of drilling plans and  the ability of local communities to help determine locations through a consultation process. The proposed rules are posted here. Continue reading

Colorado wants feds to sanction a market-driven sage grouse habitat conservation plan

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Colorado hopes that a voluntary market-based conservation program can help protect important habitat for greater sage-grouse. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Habitat exchange could pay off for Colorado ranchers, developers — and, hopefully, sage grouse

Staff Report

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper says a state program aimed at conserving sage-grouse habitat is ready for primetime. This week, the state sought formal recognition from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the voluntary, market-based conservation plan.

Continue reading

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