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U.S. Rep. Polis asks for congressional hearing on toxic spills after Colorado floods

State officials tracking numerous flood-related spills

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A Sept. 17 Landsat 8 image shows South Platte River flooding near Greeley, Colorado. For more information on this image, please visit this NASA Earth Observatory website.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A spate of potentially dangerous spills from oil and gas producing facilities resulting from recent flooding in Colorado may be scrutinized under a congressional spotlight.

Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) and Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee Peter DeFazio (D-OR) hav asked the House Resources Committee to hold a hearing on oil and gas spills caused by the recent catastrophic floods in Colorado. 

“Not only have my constituents been dealing with damage to their homes, schools, and roads, they are increasingly concerned about the toxic spills that have occurred from the flooding of nearly 1,900 fracking wells in Colorado,” Polis said. “Congress must deal with this issue to ensure that natural disasters do not also become public health disasters.” Continue reading

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Environment: GOP tries to block Obama ocean policy

House members make vague claims about ‘negative impacts’

A pristine Florida beach near Port St. Joe.

Shrimp boats in Apalachicola, Florida.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — House Republicans are moving to try and block President Obama’s National Ocean Policy by cutting of any funding for implementation.

The administration’s oceans policy is aimed at protecting, maintaining and restoring the health of economically critical marine ecosystems, thereby providing a sustainable flow of ocean resources for coastal communities, but the Republicans in Congress are more intent on continuing the short-term plunder of fisheries and other natural resources, with no thought about future generations. Read the final recommendations of the Ocean Policy Task Force at the Summit Voice Scribd feed.

Obama’s policy recognizes that increasing industrialization of the oceans, including energy development, aquaculture, and even the development of renewal energy sources pose a threat to marine ecosystems. Continue reading

Report outlines rampant oil and gas drilling violations

House Democrats call on Interior to reform oversight & enforcement

A spiderweb of drill pads lace the countryside around the Roan Plateau. PHOTO COURTESY SKYTRUTH.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A new report compiled by the Democratic minority membership of the House Natural Resources Committee suggests that the oil and gas drilling industry has run amok, primarily due to spotty enforcement of health and safety regulations. Committee Democrats said the Department of Interior must reform its oversight of drilling on public lands.

Some companies started drilling before they had their final permits from the government. About 20 percent of the violations involved casing and cementing procedures intended to prevent leaks. In a letter accompanying the report, Reps. Edward Markey and Rush Holt asked Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to respond my March 9. Continue reading

GOP pushes for drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Arctic Sun. PHOTO BY CASSIDY BRUSH. Click on the photo to read about some Colorado residents who are involved in ANWR preservation efforts.

Oil drilling in the coastal strip in the Alaskan Arctic has been hotly contested for decades

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Continuing to push for domestic energy production, House Republicans this week said they will introduce a bill that would open parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling.

Although the area was set aside for possible oil exploration in 1980, drilling is now generally opposed by a broad coalition of conservation groups, as well as populations of indigenous people in the region.

It is supported by a pro-development faction in Alaska and by oil companies, who have lobbied heavily for opening the area. Continue reading

Colorado celebrates Great Outdoors Week

Dylan and Comet Berwyn enjoy a fine outdoors morning near Moab. Celebrate Great Outdoors Week — go camping!

Conservation activists and outdoor enthusiasts organize daily hikes and highlight threats to roadless areas

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado outdoor enthusiasts are celebrating the second annual Great Outdoors Week (Aug. 20-28) with a series of fun hikes and educational events aimed at highlighting potential threats to cherished backcountry areas.

A fierce Washington, D.C. ideological battle over public lands management, as well as continued controversy over a proposed Colorado roadless rule, serve as a backdrop for the activities, with Representative Diana DeGette highlighting what she describes as a special interest-driven attack on protections for backcountry areas.

“Here in Colorado, while my constituents and I are working with the Forest Service to keep the best of our backcountry forests protected, some in Congress are pushing on behalf of special interests to take those protections away entirely,” said DeGette. “Coloradans depend on these areas for our drinking water, our outdoor economy and our cherished way of life, and they must be preserved.”

In July, the House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on H.R. 1581, introduced by House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, which would take away protections for national forest lands and Wilderness Study Areas, opening up an area the size of Wyoming to large-scale development.  Continue reading

Colorado wilderness bill introduced in Congress

A new bill introduced in Congress could add 166,000 acres of national forest land in Colorado's Summit and Eagle counties to the federal wilderness system.

Most local communities and stakeholders supportive of plan; Boulder-based mountain bike group still has reservations about a few areas

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Just a few hours before Congress went into recess for the election season, Rep. Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat, finally introduced a bill that would add about 166,000 acres of national forest land to the federal wilderness system.

The measure is based on a citizen-generated plan that’s long been called the Hidden Gems proposal. That name has been stripped away, as were several large chunks of land — after off-roaders and snowmobilers expressed concern over their loss of access to public lands. Continue reading

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