Lacksadaiscal enforcement is a recipe for disaster
FRISCO — After a series of disastrous pipeline breaks, the National Wildlife Federation says it’s time to hold the federal government accountable for its failure to enforce basic requirements like regular inspections and update safety response plans for pipeline accidents.
This week, the nonprofit group said it will sue the U.S Department of Transportation in an action that has nationwide implications, since nearly every pipeline that crosses a navigable water is operating illegally. In its formal notice of intent to sue, the National Wildlife Federation is asking the Department of Transportation to issue regulations for oil pipelines in water, and require every owner and operator of an oil pipeline in a navigable water to submit a safety response plan that needs to be approved. Continue reading “Environment: Feds face pipeline safety lawsuit”→
FRISCO — The next big battle over fossil fuel development in Colorado is shaping up in the Piceance Basin, where a new draft BLM land-use plan would permit up to 15,000 new oil and gas wells in what’s been called the state’s mule deer factory.
Conservation groups say the BLM plan uses obsolete data and isn’t supported by the best available science.
John Ellenberger, the state’s former big game manager, said the BLM plan is full of holes and doesn’t address some basic issues, including how baseline data on wildlife will be gathered. He called the management approach that could result in high levels of disturbance in key wildlife habitat “unprecedented.’’
New report says impacts to ecosystems accelerating
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A major new report suggests that climate change will probably result in a net loss in global biodiversity, as plants and animal species shift their geographic ranges and the timing of their life events — such as flowering, laying eggs or migrating — at faster rates than researchers documented just a few years ago.
The report, Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity, Ecosystems, and Ecosystem Services, synthesizes the scientific understanding of the way climate change is affecting ecosystems, ecosystem services and the diversity of species, as well as what strategies might be used by natural resource practitioners to decrease current and future risks. It was prepared as a technical report on biodiversity and ecosystems to be used as scientific input for the 2013 Third National Climate Assessment.
“The report clearly indicates that as climate change continues to impact ecological systems, a net loss of global species’ diversity, as well as major shifts in the provision of ecosystem services, are quite likely,” said Michelle Staudinger, a lead author of the report and a USGS and University of Missouri scientist. Continue reading “Global warming likely to result in net loss of biodiversity”→
Settlement talks fail, environmental groups pursuing their claim that a BLM management plan for the area is illegal
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — The fate of Northwest Colorado’s Roan Plateau is back in the hands of a federal judge after a year-long series of settlement talks about an oil and gas drilling plan ended in deadlock.
The Roan Plateau, north of Rifle, is recognized as a biological hotspot for species diversity, including pure strains of native trout, rare plants and old-growth Douglas fir. It’s also a hotspot for natural gas, and a drilling plan approved under the Bush administration could result in thousands of new wells being drilled on the Plateau.
New report highlights gaps in Clean Water Act protections for five Colorado wetlands, including a rare fen in nearby Park County
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — A pair of U.S. Supreme Court rulings from 2001 and 2006 have put valuable Colorado wetlands at risk, according to a new report published jointly by the National Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimted and Ducks Unlimited. A copy of the report is online at the end of this story.
Together, the court decisions limited to scope of federal wetlands protection by narrowing the definition of navigable waters. Across the country, about 20 million acres of valuable wetlands without visible connections to larger lakes and streams have been left without federal protection, according to the report released Feb. 9.
Without regulatory oversight, the small streams, ponds and bogs are subject to being filled or drained without any mitigation. The cumulative losses could have significant impacts to water quality, flood control and wildlife habitat, the conservation groups said.
In Summit County, local wetlands regulations have filled the regulatory gap to some degree, but planning officials have been discussing updates to the wetlands regulations to address the changes resulting from the Supreme Court decision.