Tag: Energy development

2015 in Review: Public lands

Energy issues drive public lands debates

Rocky Mountain National Park turned 100 years old in 2015.

Staff Report

The battle over fossil fuel exploitation on public lands heated up in 2015, as environmental advocates launched an aggressive #keepitintheground campaign aimed at convincing the Obama administration to stop issuing leases and permits for oil and gas drilling. But along with the political and environmental battles, there were also some feel-good stories. Right here in Colorado, for example, two beloved tracts of land administered by the National Park Service celebrated centennials. Read more about those birthdays here.

It was a big year for public lands preservation. With Congress gridlocked on many issues, President Obama took the initiative to set aside hundreds of thousands of acres as national monuments under the Antiquities Act, including Browns Canyon, in Colorado. Read more about the creation of Browns Canyon National Monument in these Summit Voice stories, and learn more about President Obama’s use of the Antiquities Act here. Continue reading “2015 in Review: Public lands”

Colorado wants feds to sanction a market-driven sage grouse habitat conservation plan

Colorado hopes that a voluntary market-based conservation program can help protect important habitat for greater sage-grouse. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Habitat exchange could pay off for Colorado ranchers, developers — and, hopefully, sage grouse

Staff Report

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper says a state program aimed at conserving sage-grouse habitat is ready for primetime. This week, the state sought formal recognition from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the voluntary, market-based conservation plan.

Continue reading “Colorado wants feds to sanction a market-driven sage grouse habitat conservation plan”

Climate: Not much wiggle room on fossil fuels

The U.S. is the second-largest producer of coal in the world, thanks in part to massive surface mines like this one in Wyoming. Photo courtesy BLM.
The U.S. is the second-largest producer of coal in the world, thanks in part to massive surface mines like this one in Wyoming. Photo courtesy BLM.

New study says most existing reserves must remain unused to prevent catastrophic climate change

Staff Report

FRISCO — While frackers and drillers are trying to squeeze every last drop of fossil fuel out of the ground as fast as they can, that path won’t help meet worldwide goals of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius.

To prevent catastrophic runaway climate change, humankind must leave a third of all existing oil reserves, half of the planet’s gas reserves and more than 80 percent of current coal reserves in the ground, according to new research by the University College London’s Institute for Sustainable Resources. Continue reading “Climate: Not much wiggle room on fossil fuels”

Colorado: BLM defers touchy North Fork drilling leases

88,000 acres go on auction block next week

A BLM map identifies areas up for oil and gas drilling leases, as well as areas where lease sales have been deferred.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The Bureau of Land Management will offer up another 90,000 acres of land in Colorado for oil and gas drilling next week, but the agency did defer sales of about 20,000 acres of controversial proposed leases in the North Fork area.

The BLM also deferred the leasing of several parcels along the entrance road to Dinosaur National Monument because the agency doesn’t have a current inventory of the area’s wilderness characteristics, according to Ellyne Bannon, of the Checks and Balances Project.

Details of the upcoming lease sale are at this BLM website. Continue reading “Colorado: BLM defers touchy North Fork drilling leases”

Colorado: South Park to seek federal aquifer protection

Sole source designation could help guard against mining impacts

A typical in-situ uranium mining test-drilling site during the exploration phase. Photo courtesy Save Our South Park Water.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — South Park residents concerned about impacts of uranium mining and other forms of energy development are seeking federal protection for their water supplies under a sole source aquifer designation from the EPA.

The designation would require more in-depth review of any proposed activities that could affect water supplies. Of special concern is uranium mining near Hartsel, as well as potential development of oil and gas resources. The designation could also result in buffers and other protective measures.

Gaining the EPA designation is a multi-step process beginning Sept. 11 with a meeting of the local environmental advisory board. Citizens will offer a petition requesting the South Park county commissioners to sponsor a formal request for the designation to regional, state and federal authorities. Get an overview of the  regional sole source aquifer program at this EPA website. Continue reading “Colorado: South Park to seek federal aquifer protection”

Researchers advocate for stronger Antarctica treaty

Frozen continent facing a slew of potential threats, from energy development to pollution and invasive species

Parts of Antarctica saw a wave of commercial exploitation during the whaling era, and leading scientists warn there could be increased pressure to develop energy resources in coming years. Photo by Bob Berwyn.

By Summit Voice

Antarctica could face the same energy development pressures seen in other parts of the world, says Texas A & M oceanography professor Mahlon “Chuck” Kennicutt II.

As deepwater drilling technologies improve, the coastal reaches of the world’s only uninhabited continent could become an attractive target for energy hungry countries, he said.

Kennicutt, president of the president of the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research, said Antarctica also faces threats from global warming, increased tourism, pollution, overfishing and invasive species.

“Many people may not realize that Antarctica is a like a ‘canary in a coal mine’ when it comes to global warming, and Antarctica serves as a sort of thermostat for Earth,” he said. “The polar regions are the most sensitive regions on Earth to global warming, responding rapidly, so what happens in Antarctica in response to this warming affects the entire Earth system in many ways that we barely understand.” Continue reading “Researchers advocate for stronger Antarctica treaty”

Energy: Too much public land leasing – or not enough?

Gulf of Mexico offshore oil rigs and tracts.

Report shows that energy companies are not maximizing production and exploration in areas already under lease

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Illustrating some of the vexing questions associated with energy development on public lands, the Obama administration this week released a report that details how oil and gas companies aren’t developing the leases, and at the same time, offered new leases for oil shale research and development and details on new offshore drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s probably not surprising that the administration is trying to straddle the fence. Despite the fact that domestic oil and gas production are near or at record highs, President Obama is facing a constant barrage of politically motivated criticism directed at his energy policies that cynically use high gas prices as a clumsy and well-worn political weapon. Continue reading “Energy: Too much public land leasing – or not enough?”