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Environmental groups ask EPA to set national limits on pollution from oil and gas production

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Oil and gas drilling roads and pads are spreading into remote backcountry areas of Colorado. bberwyn photo.

Cancer-causing chemicals escaping from fossil fuel facilities by the ton

Staff Report

FRISCO — Colorado communities looking to regulate the toxic and dangerous impacts of oil and gas drilling may not get any help from Gov. John Hickenlooper, but they may get some backup from a huge coalition of environmental groups that have petitioned the EPA for limits on oil and gas wells and associated equipment in population centers around the U.S.

As thousands of new wells are drilled across the U.S. every day, some studies suggest that at least 100,000 tons per year of hazardous air pollution from oil and gas well sites — including benzene, formaldehyde, and naphthalene — are escaping into the atmosphere. These pollutants have been linked to respiratory and neurological problems, birth defects, and cancer. Continue reading

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Colorado: Industry, state regulators consistently underestimate air pollution from oil and gas operations

The proliferation of oil and gas drilling in Colorado raises serious questions about water quality impacts. Photo courtesy SkyTruth.

The proliferation of oil and gas drilling in Colorado raises serious questions about air quality impacts. Photo courtesy SkyTruth.

New research show true magnitude of fossil fuel pollution along Front Range

Staff Report

FRISCO — Heat-trapping greenhouse gases and other air pollutants are leaking from Colorado oil and gas operations at a far higher rate than previously estimated.

Two days of aerial surveys showed methane leaking at three times the rate predicted by inventory estimates, and seven times as much benzene, a cancer-causing air toxic.Emissions of other chemicals that contribute to summertime ozone pollution were about twice as high as estimates, according to the new paper, accepted for publication in the American Geophysical Union’s Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres. Continue reading

Environmental groups join legal fray over Fort Collins fracking ban

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.

Grassroots activists stand up to industry ‘bullying’

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Fort Collins residents who passed a temporary five-year fracking ban last year will get some help in their legal showdown with the fossil fuel industry.

A trio of from from environmental groups — Citizens for a Healthy Fort Collins, the Sierra Club and Earthworks filed a motion to intervene in the Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s lawsuit against the City of Fort Collins.

The Association is trying to overturn a five year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking.”  The Fort Collins moratorium on fracking passed as Ballot Measure 2A with 56 percent of the vote in November 2013. Continue reading

Colorado wary of greater sage-grouse listing

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Greater sage-grouse. Photo courtesy USFWS.

State officials want to balance fossil fuel development with wildlife conservation

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Despite the fact fossil fuel development is devastating wildlife habitat in northwest Colorado, state officials are pressing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to keep greater sage-grouse off the endangered species list.

In a press release, Gov. John Hickenlooper‘s office described  oil and gas drilling as “vibrant economic activities,” and touted voluntary conservation activities shaped by local stakeholders as an alternative to a federal conservation plan.

“Given the unique landscapes and natural resources in Colorado, a Colorado-based solution is more practical that one handed down by the federal government,” Hickenlooper said in a prepared statement. “We hope the Bureau of Land Management will look at the public-private partnerships that have been so successful in Colorado as a model on how to get things done.” 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

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

New group aims to protect national parks from drilling

Retired park rangers call on the BLM to fully adopt national leasing reforms

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Mesa Verde National Park could be at risk from oil and gas drilling. NPS photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — As oil and gas drilling rigs creep closer and closer to the borders of popular national parks around the country, a passel of retired park rangers has formed a new organization to try and protect cherished resources, including view sheds, air quality and wildlife habitat.

The idea is not to stop drilling. The ex-rangers acknowledge that energy development is needed. Rather, the group wants to hold other federal agencies — primarily the BLM — accountable to national guidance that requires smart, up-front planning when it comes to drilling around parks.

“We’re really concerned about the impacts if the drilling isn’t properly planned,” said Ellis Richard, a National Park Service veteran who ended his career as acting superintendent of Dinosaur National Monument, one of the park units potentially threatened by drilling. Continue reading

Colorado: BLM releases North Fork oil and gas leasing info

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Should the BLM be required to release names of companies nominating parcels for oil and gas leasing?

Community groups say more transparency is needed early in leasing procedure

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Community groups in Colorado this week hailed the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to release the names of the entities who nominated the public lands in Western Colorado’s North Fork Valley for oil and gas drilling and fracking.

The agency’s decision is a win for the public and government transparency, said Jim Ramey, director of the Delta County community group Citizens for a Healthy Community.

“The BLM’s mission is to best manage public resources, not to promote an energy speculation and commodities trading industry. If drilling companies want to develop publicly-owned minerals they should say so publicly, allowing concerned citizens and affected communities to evaluate their health, safety, and environmental record,”  Ramey said. Continue reading

Audit shows gaps in USFS oil and gas leasing programs

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Draft oil and gas leasing map on the White River National Forest.

Report questions agency’s readiness for potential spills

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The U.S. Forest Service needs to tighten up its oil and gas leasing program, including procedures for reporting spills and monitoring cleanups, according to a new report from the Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General.

Along with illustrating weaknesses in the Forest Service’s oversight of oil and gas drilling on national forest lands, the report also noted that the agency needs to work more closely with the Bureau of Land Management to streamline the permitting process on national forest lands. Continue reading

Colorado governor sues to block fracking in his backyard

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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. Continue reading

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