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More methane woes – study tracks abandoned well emissions


Concentrations of heat-trapping methane are increasing steadily in the Earth’s atmosphere.

‘What surprised me was that every well we measured had some methane coming out …’

FRISCO — Fixing leaky pipes and other equipment at operational oil and gas wells would go a long way toward cutting emissions of heat-trapping methane pollution, but wells that were abandoned decades ago could be another big source of the potent greenhouse gas.

Princeton University researchers recently tested several abandoned oil and natural gas wells in northwestern Pennsylvania, finding that many of the old wells leaked substantial quantities of methane. By some estimates, there are as many as 3 million abandoned wells across the U.S. Continue reading

Report outlines simple steps to reduce methane emissions

A natural gas drilling rig in Texas. IMAGE COURTESY THE CREATIVE COMMONS.

A natural gas drilling rig in Texas. IMAGE COURTESY THE CREATIVE COMMONS.

Climate activists pushing EPA to adopt strict methane standards

Staff Report

FRISCO — Existing, low-cost technology, along with better maintenance and best management practices could easily cut U.S. methane emissions from fossil fuel operations in half, climate activists said this week, advocating for the adoption of methane standards.

The path toward those reductions is outlined by climate advocates in a new report that also shows that such standards would help improve air quality in other ways. Continue reading

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Environment: Activists ramp up campaign against seismic airguns

Oil-probing technology could harm marine mammals, affect fisheries

Oceana projection on National Postal Museum (Credit: Oceana/Melissa Forsyth)

Oceana projection on National Postal Museum (Credit: Oceana/Melissa Forsyth)

Staff Report

FRISCO — Tourism and fishing-dependent communities along the East Coast of the U.S. are banding together to voice concerns about seismic airgun testing. According to Oceana, an ocean conservation group, 110 local elected officials and 155 conservation and animal welfare organizations all say the use of airguns to conduct these seismic tests threatens fish populations and profitable fisheries.

Six coastal towns have also passed local resolutions opposing the use of airguns. (Cocoa Beach, FL, Carolina Beach, NC, Caswell Beach, NC, Nags Head, NC, Bradley Beach, NJ and Red Bank, NJ). The loud and constant undersea thumping may decrease the catch rates of certain fisheries, potentially threatening a billion-dollar industry that supports thousands of jobs.

At issue is the use of loud acoustic devices that help energy companies probe for oil beneath the seafloor. Federal officials recently adopted a final proposal that would allow the use of this controversial technology in an area twice the size of California, stretching from Delaware to Florida. Continue reading

Colorado: Conservation group challenges BLM decision to ‘suspend’ Thompson Divide oil and gas leases


Wrangling continues over oil and gas leasing in Colorado.

Appeal asks state BLM director to let leases expire

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Conservation advocates are challenging a decision by the Bureau of Land Management to extend the life of several oil and gas leases in the Thompson Divide area of Colorado’s White River National Forest.

The leases have been unused for 10 years and were illegally sold to begin with, according to Earthjustice, which is filing the administrative appeal on behalf of Wilderness Workshop.

“Sometimes BLM needs to just say no to the oil and gas industry,” said Earthjustice attorney Michael Freeman. “If we can’t keep energy development out of a place like the Thompson Divide, what part of Colorado is safe? We can meet our energy needs in responsible fashion without destroying our most important public lands,” Freeman said. Continue reading

Colorado: More wrangling over the Roan Plateau, as the BLM takes comments for another environmental impact statement


A view of the Roan Plateau from a NASA satellite.

BLM starts new environmental study for drilling leases in sensitive wildlife area

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — With comments coming in on a revised BLM study for fossil fuel development on Colorado’s Roan Plateau, it’s clear that there’s little common ground between the energy industry and conservation groups.

Hunters, anglers and environmentalists want the federal agency to set strict protections for natural resources, while oil and gas companies say the government needs to get on with opening the area for drilling as required under federal law.

A federal court last year ruled that the 2008 drilling plan didn’t consider conservation-oriented options, and that it didn’t adequately analyze the cumulative air quality impacts of oil and gas drilling. The BLM has acknowledged that developing up to 1,500 wells on the Roan Plateau would permanently alter some areas of high quality fish and wildlife habitat.

Meanwhile, fossil fuel stakeholders, represented by the West Slope Colorado Oil & Gas Association also submitted comments, explaining that federal law requires the Roan Plateau to be leased and calling on the BLM to make only the specific supplemental analysis required by the court. Continue reading

Colorado: Debate shows some common ground, many differences on fracking regulation

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.

Gov. Hickenlooper, Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones tackle tough questions in lively Denver session

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Despite a couple of interruptions by hecklers, Monday’s debate between Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones showed there may be some common ground for addressing the contentious issue of oil and gas drilling regulations.

Hickenlooper seemed to agree that the state could do more to address citizen concerns about health and quality of life impacts, and said that the venting methane from oil and gas drilling operations is an unacceptable waste.

But the lunchtime debate at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law also highlighted some of the conflicting views about the appropriate roles of local and state regulation, as well as larger questions about energy policies. Jones emphasized that Colorado residents want a clean, renewable energy future, while Hickenlooper touted natural gas as the fastest way to cut greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Continue reading

Colorado: Hickenlooper’s appointments to oil and gas commission spur concerns from West Slope residents

Environmental impacts from oil and gas drilling are at issue in new appointments to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. PHOTO FROM WIKIPEDIA VIA THE CREATIVE COMMONS.

Tug-of-war over oil and gas drilling will continue

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Among many other campaign promises and slogans, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper early in his term set a rather unrealistic goal of a 50 percent cut in the permitting time for new oil and gas wells.

Last week, Hickenlooper announced eight appointments to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, a board charged with overseeing responsible development of Colorado’s oil and gas natural resources.

The commission is supposed to balance  efficient exploration and production of oil and gas resources and prevention of waste with protection of  public health, environment and mineral owners’ rights.

“Different voices and a united spirit of collaboration are key to the success of the commission,” Hickenlooper said. “We are confident this group will help serve the industry, land owners and the environment well as it navigates through issues that are important to both the state’s economy and protection of Colorado’s beautiful landscapes.”

“Gov. Hickenlooper has repeatedly said he would ‘strike the right balance’ in overseeing the oil and gas industry,” said Elise Jones, Executive Director of the Colorado Environmental Coalition. “The jury is still very much out as to whether this set of appointments meets that important standard or whether instead the balance has shifted away from protecting Colorado’s air, water, wildlife and communities from the impacts of drilling. We will be watching closely and working hard to ensure that this new Commission upholds the Governor’s promise to the Colorado people.” Continue reading


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