Posted on September 3, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
‘A precautionary tale … ‘
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Despite ongoing obfuscation by fossil fuel companies, most people instinctively understand that fracking fluids are bad for the environment, and a new study by federal scientists supports that conclusion.
The research in Kentucky by the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows that hydraulic fracturing fluids leaking from natural gas wells probably caused the widespread death or distress of aquatic species in Kentucky’s Acorn Fork. The small Appalachian creek is habitat for the federally threatened Blackside dace, a small colorful minnow. The Acorn Fork is designated by Kentucky as an Outstanding State Resource Waters. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, energy, Environment, fracking, gas drilling | Tagged: Blackside Dace, endangered species, Environment, fracking, fracking fluids, hydraulic fracturing, water quality | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 16, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
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. (more…)
Filed under: BLM, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling, public lands | Tagged: BLM, Bureau of Land management, energy, Environment, fossil fuels, fracking, hydraulic fracturing, Indian reservation, Interior Department, public lands | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 25, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
New rules would tighten up water testing around oil and gas wells in Colorado’s Greater Wattenberg area.
Proposed law would end exemption for busy oil and gas fields northeast of Denver
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A new measure to protect Colorado water quality from fracking impacts narrowly passed a House committee on a 6-5 vote. HB 1316 requires state regulators to adopt uniform statewide groundwater sampling rules and ends an exemption for the largest oil and gas field in Colorado in the Greater Wattenberg area.
The measure would require sampling of all groundwater sources (up to a maximum of four wells) within a half-mile of proposed oil and gas wells, as well as follow-up sampling after the wells are drilled.
State officials previously said the Greater Wattenberg Are exemption was made because the state already has a robust water quality database for that area. Requiring more testing would put an “undue burden on the industry without providing additional safety benefits,” said Ginny Brannon, assistant director for water and energy at the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, in a January interview with Summit Voice.
Brannon said Weld County has a groundwater testing program that provides water well testing to any well owner requesting it, but conservation groups want more consistent statewide standards for testing. They said the new requirements are a step toward better protection of public health and the environment. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, energy, Environment, fracking, gas drilling, oil drilling, water | Tagged: Colorado, energy, Environment, fraching, Greater Wattenberg area, groundwater, hydraulic fracturing | 3 Comments »
Posted on April 1, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
There’s a new twist in the ongoing battle over Colorado fracking regulations.
Fossil fuel industry to file counter-suit
By Snob Beerwhine
SUMMIT COUNTY — In a big turnaround from his previously held beliefs, Colorado Gov. Von Lippenschmooper announced April 1 he will sue the fossil fuel industry to try and prevent additional fracking in his backyard.
Sources say Lippenschmooper was surprised to wake up Easter morning to find drilling rigs already ensconced between the pool and the rutabaga patch. (more…)
Filed under: April Fools | Tagged: Colorado, fracking, hydraulic fracturing, Longmont Colorado, Mineral rights, oil and gas drilling | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 23, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Massive public input spurs changes; Office of Management and Budget will look at cost impacts before updated draft rule is released
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — A draft rule to govern hydraulic fracturing on public lands around the country will get another look before it’s reissued for additional public comment, federal officials said last week, explaining that they will released a revised draft sometime in the next three months, after a review by the Office of Management and Budget.
“In response to comments from stakeholders and the public, the BLM is making improvements to the draft proposal in order to maximize flexibility, facilitate coordination with state practices and ensure that operators on public lands implement best practices,” said Department of Interior spokesman Blake Androff.
The original draft version was published May 2012 and elicited 170,000 comments. Industry groups oppose a federal fracking rule because they say it would impose additional costs without adding any benefits. Existing state regulations are adequate for regulating energy development on public lands, said Kathleen Sgamma, VP of government and public affairs with the Western Energy Alliance. (more…)
Filed under: energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: BLM, BLM national fracking rule, energy, Environment, fracking, hydraulic fracturing | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 7, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Setbacks, water quality monitoring needs to err on the side of caution
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Even though Colorado touts clean air and water and healthy lifestyles based on outdoor activities like skiing and hiking, the reality is is far different.
Somehow, government and energy industry spin-meisters have perpetuated a myth of a “clean” natural gas energy boom, but thanks to our almost insatiable thirst for fossil fuels, large parts of the state have been turned into industrial zones. Drill pads, power generators, pumping stations and roads fragmenting forests, sagebrush fields and even residential areas.
Methane leakage from drilling operations is contributing to global warming. Other noxious gases contribute to regional haze and smog, causing serious health problems. At this point, there’s really no telling what’s going on with our groundwater, but every time I hear government and the energy industry say, “don’t worry,” my concern grows, especially as more and more areas are opened to drilling. (more…)
Filed under: air quality, Colorado, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: Colorado, energy, Environment, fracking, groundwater, hydraulic fracturing, oil and gas drilling, water pollution | 3 Comments »
Posted on January 1, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Oil and gas drilling near schools and homes in Firestone, Colorado. Photo courtesy Shane Davis, Sierra Club, Rocky Mountain Chapter.
Setbacks, monitoring and mitigation at issue in proposed rules
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — On the last day of 2012, state regulators unveiled their latest proposal to protect communities from oil and gas drilling impacts, including 500-foot setbacks in rural and urban areas, as well as new requirements for outreach and mitigation.
The rules are aimed at forestalling a groundswell of opposition to fracking in residential areas, but the proposal may be a classic case of too little, to late, as communities around the state consider outright bans on fracking.
The draft rules are based on months of stakeholder meetings and public participation, including nearly a year of presentations and comment on the issue of how best to balance energy production with the need to minimize impacts on residences from nearby oil and gas development. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: Colorado, energy, Environment, fracking, hydraulic fracturing, setbacks | 2 Comments »
Posted on October 18, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Oil and gas drilling near schools and homes in Firestone, Colorado. Photo courtesy Shane Davis, Sierra Club, Rocky Mountain Chapter. Please click on the image to learn more.
Conservation advocates want 1,000-foot buffer that offers ‘presumptive protection’
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — With no end in sight to Colorado’s fracking boom, state officials are preparing to publish new rules on setbacks and groundwater monitoring — but those rules don’t do enough to protect the health and welfare of residents near gas drilling sites, according to a coalition of conservation groups.
“The state’s proposed change to minimum distances between fracking and homes is to keep current policy virtually unchanged,” said Charlie Montgomery, energy organizer of Conservation Colorado. “The current separation in urban and suburban areas is 350 feet. The state’s proposed separation is 350 feet.”
State officials say they’ve been meeting with stakeholders for several months to develop the proposed new rules. Documents from the stakeholder process are online here. (more…)
Filed under: air quality, business, Colorado, economy, energy, Environment, gas drilling | Tagged: Colorado, fracking, fracking setbacks, hydraulic fracturing, public health | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 9, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Water sampling in Pavilion, Wyoming, Jan. 2010. Photo courtesy EPA.
USGS sampling in Wyoming appears to support earlier EPA results
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — There’s more evidence suggesting that fracking in Wyoming is polluting groundwater near the town of Pavilion, as U.S. Geological Survey water quality sampling appears to show similar results as an earlier EPA study.
The 2011 EPA sampling was one of the first to document hydrocarbons consistent with fracking fluid chemicals in drinking water wells and monitoring wells located near natural gas wells.
The latest USGS study was conducted specifically to check EPA’s results, even as the the oil and gas industry continue to question the results. Environmental advocates accuse the industry of protecting their economic interests at the expense of public health and safety. (more…)
Filed under: energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: fracking, hydraulic fracturing, oil and gas drilling, Pavilion, United States Environmental Protection Agency, United States Geological Survey, water pollution | 2 Comments »
Posted on March 1, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
A drilling rig in Jackson County.
Industry leader caught making inaccurate statements about oil and gas drilling impacts to groundwater
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — The public relations war over recent statements by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and oil and gas industry officials continued this week, as community activists pointed out yet another misleading and inaccurate statement about the impacts of fossil fuel development.
This time, the president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association was under the gun for a statement she made to the Denver Post about groundwater pollution. In the Feb. 28 story, Tisha Schuller was quoted as saying, “there has not been a drilling or hydraulic-fracturing incident that has affected groundwater, and there have been no incidents which have affected a family’s or community’s drinking water.” (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling, water | Tagged: Colorado, Colorado Oil and Gas Association, fracking, hydraulic fracturing, John Hickenlooper, Oil and Gas Commission, oil leaks, Petroleum industry, water pollution | 4 Comments »