Category: energy

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”

#Keepitintheground — in Texas!

A West Texas oil field photographed from the International Space Station in 2006. Image courtesy NASA.
A West Texas oil field photographed from the International Space Station in 2006. Image courtesy NASA.

Feds defer fossil fuel leasing across more than 30,000 acres

Staff Report

Growing pressure from community groups and environmental activists is paying off. Even in the heart of oil country, federal agencies are starting to take a closer look at the impacts of leasing land for fossil fuel exploitation.

This week, the Bureau of Land Management withdrew all Texas acres from a scheduled April 20 auction. In a notice published April 7, the BLM said the parcels have been deferred in order to further study the public comments received during the protest period. Continue reading “#Keepitintheground — in Texas!”

Will Colorado voters go for strict fracking regulations?

fracking rig in Colorado
Community advocates in Colorado will start gathering signatures for ballot initiative requiring setbacks for fracking rigs. @bberwyn photo.

Fossil fuel industry attacks proposed ballot measure as economically destructive

Staff Report

Feeling the increased pressure from health- and environment-minded citizens and communities, Colorado’s oil and industry reacted strongly to the news that a proposed fracking-regulation initiative is one step closer to reaching the statewide ballot box.

Initiative 78 would require that all “new oil and gas development facilities” to be located at least  2,500 feet from “occupied structures and areas of special concern.” It would enable local governments to establish greater setbacks, and does not ban new construction within the setbacks. Continue reading “Will Colorado voters go for strict fracking regulations?”