Category: energy

Battle lines drawn over new fossil fuel infrastructure

Signs of oil and gas development are visible on a landscape level from 35,000 feet in the air.
Signs of oil and gas development are visible in eastern on a landscape level from 35,000 feet in the air. @bberwyn photo.

Broad coalition of conservation groups oppose measure that could speed approval of natural gas export terminals

Staff Report

Pro-fossil fuel legislators in Congress hope they can help their campaign donors by putting the cart before the fracking horse. An amended version of the Senate’s Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 (S. 2012) includes provisions that would speed up the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval of liquefied natural gas export terminals.

According to critics of the measure, that artificially increases the demand for U.S. natural gas and hits communities with additional health and climate risks. More than 370 organizations are urging the Senate to reject provisions in the bill that would encourage oil and gas fracking.

The groups delivered a letter to Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski and ranking member Maria Cantwell demanding an energy bill that transitions the country to a truly clean, safe, renewable energy future. Continue reading “Battle lines drawn over new fossil fuel infrastructure”

Fossil fuels: ‘Enough is enough’

Colorado demonstration part of global protest movement

Staff Report

As part of a global series of protests against the continued burning of fossil fuels, hundreds of Colorado activists gathered this week in Denver to protest a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease auction at the Holiday Inn in Lakewood.

Organizers counted about 300 people at the May 12 rally, who demonstrated with signs and banners and tried to interrupt the auction of new oil and gas leases as part of the larger #keepitintheground movement. The goal is to prevent the catastrophic consequences of unchecked global warming, including deadly heatwaves, droughts, forest fires, water shortages and invasive diseases. Continue reading “Fossil fuels: ‘Enough is enough’”

Activists slow fracking juggernaut in western Colorado

State BLM officials call for new studies on Mesa County project

fracking rig in Colorado
A fracking rig in Garfield County, Colorado. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Conservation groups and community advocates in western Colorado have slowed the fracking juggernaut at least temporarily, as federal land managers last week decided to redo an environmental study for a controversial plan to drill 108 new wells on 52,000 acres near the Grand Mesa. Under the proposed master development plan, the wells could produce up to 8.7 million barrels of oil over the next 20 years.

The agency said it made the decision based on the fact that the environmental study for the fossil fuel development project didn’t include any analysis of hydraulic fracturing, likely because of some behind-the-scenes maneuvering by the developers and Bureau of Land Management officials. But when the Western Colorado Congress and the Western Environmental Law Center challenged the plan, state BLM officials reversed course. Continue reading “Activists slow fracking juggernaut in western Colorado”

Environment: Can dams be operated without killing rivers?

Glen Canyon Dam. Image courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.
Glen Canyon Dam. Image courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

New study eyes impacts to aquatic insects

Staff Report

Using a vast sample of data collected in a citizen science project, researchers say they’ve been able to discern how hydropeaking affects aquatic insects that form the base of river food chains. The information could help resource managers develop alternative hydropower practices that aren’t as harmful to ecosystems, according to a new study published in the journal BioScience.

Hydropeaking refers to the practice of increasing river flows at times of peak demand, generally during the day. This study shows how abrupt water level changes affect aquatic insects in every stage of life. The research was done by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey, Oregon State University, Utah State University and Idaho State University. Continue reading “Environment: Can dams be operated without killing rivers?”

Opinion: Colorado Supreme Court fracking ruling is a slap in the face to voters in Longmont and Fort Collins

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.

Next stop, November ballot

By Bob Berwyn

This week’s Colorado Supreme Court ruling on local fracking regulations is a huge slap in the face to Colorado citizens, but it shouldn’t come as a big surprise. The court has nearly always sided with the state’s extractive industries over protecting public health and the environment, including a 2009 decision overturning local regulations that would have prohibited potentially disastrous cyanide heap-leach mining.

Both rulings are couched in carefully phrased legalistic terms that are nothing but poor attempts to disguise and justify the deeply anti-democratic nature of such decisions. Both are examples of the growing gap between the will of the people and the imperatives of large corporations that do business with impunity and with no regard for the social, economic and environmental consequences of their actions. Continue reading “Opinion: Colorado Supreme Court fracking ruling is a slap in the face to voters in Longmont and Fort Collins”

Environment: Can a lawsuit shut down one of the West’s biggest and dirtiest coal-burning power plants?

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So much coal, so much pollution!

Legal challenge seeks to hasten the end of the fossil fuel era in the Southwest

Staff Report

A coalition of environmental and community groups is challenging the federal government’s decision to extend operations at the coal-fired Four Corners Power Plant for another 25 years. In a new lawsuit, the activists say the approval lacked an assessment of clean energy alternatives.

Specifically, the legal challenge says the federal government’s claim that the power plant won’t harm endangered species violates the Endangered Species Act, and that the final decision violates the National Environmental Policy Act. Continue reading “Environment: Can a lawsuit shut down one of the West’s biggest and dirtiest coal-burning power plants?”

Op-Ed: Bankrupt Peabody should lead on de-carbonization

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Coal is so 19th century!

Can the fossil fuel industry transcend itself?

By Bob Berwyn

If there’s any silver lining to the global warming story these days, it’s that fossil fuel company stock prices are dropping even faster than global temperatures are going up. Investors aren’t buying the climate-denying baloney being peddled by the coal kings and oil barons anymore, as evidenced by this week’s bankruptcy announcement by Peabody Energy — the world’s biggest coal company.

The company’s debt burden is $10.1 billion, but you can be sure that none of its top executives will be standing in a breadline anytime soon. They probably have their money stashed safely in offshore accounts, but that’s the least of our worries. Continue reading “Op-Ed: Bankrupt Peabody should lead on de-carbonization”