Tag: oil and gas drilling

Sage grouse and drilling just don’t mix

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Greater sage-grouse. Photo via USGS.

Well density seen as key factor in decline of birds in Wyoming

Staff Report

Limiting the density of new oil and gas drilling rigs in Wyoming may not be enough to stem the decline of greater sage-grouse, according to scientists tracking populations of the imperiled bird.

Berween 1984 and 2008, populations declined by 2.5 percent annually, and the drop is clearly linked with oil and gas development, the new study from the USGS and Colorado State University found. The researchers used annual counts of males at breeding sites for their estimates, comparing those tallies to the the density of oil and gas wells and the area of disturbance associated with these wells. Continue reading “Sage grouse and drilling just don’t mix”

Canadian study finds new earthquake-fracking links

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An aerial view of a fracking zone in eastern Utah. @bberwyn photo.

‘I think it’s really just a matter of time before we start seeing damage coming out of this …’

Staff Report

Researchers in western Canada tracking the link between fracking and earthquakes have come to a different conclusion than scientists studying the same issue in the U.S.

Instead of pointing to wastewater injection as the cause of induced earthquakes, the Canadian scientists suggest there may be a direct link between fracking and induced earthquakes.

Research in the central U.S. has suggested that the sharp increase in quakes in places like Oklahoma are caused primarily by massive amounts of wastewater injected back into the ground after oil and gas recovery.

The new Canadian study doesn’t explain why induced seismicity would be linked to different processes in the central U.S. and western Canada. However, some oil and gas fields in the U.S., especially Oklahoma, use “very large amounts of water” in their operations, leading to much more wastewater disposal than in Canadian operations, said Gail M. Atkinson of Western University. Continue reading “Canadian study finds new earthquake-fracking links”

Nobel Laureates urge ban on Arctic fossil fuel exploration

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The pristine Arctic environment is facing increased threats as the region warms. @bberwyn photo.

‘We urge you to … protect the Arctic Ocean from the dangers of fossil fuel extraction’

Staff Report

Any plans to drill or or explore for fossil fuel resources are morally unacceptable and scientifically unsupportable, a group of female Nobel Prize winners wrote this week in a letter to the Arctic Council.

The letter, signed by members of the Nobel Women’s Initiative (Mairead Maguire, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi and Tawakkol Karman), highlights the urgency of taking meaningful action on climate change and leaving fossil fuels in the ground. It also calls attention to the serious risks that drilling in such a remote and sensitive region poses to Indigenous communities, wildlife, and the environment. Continue reading “Nobel Laureates urge ban on Arctic fossil fuel exploration”

Environment: Study says abandoned oil and gas wells are a pathway for methane leaks from new fracking sites

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How much methane is leaking through damaged and abandoned wells? Photo via USGS.

Damaged well casings and fractured ground eyed in New York study

Staff Report

Spiderweb networks of abandoned oil and gas wells and cracked rocks may be significant pathways for methane leaks that aren’t being accurate measured, according to University of Vermont researchers who studied well patterns in New York.

The scientists said that not all abandoned wells are leaking — only those that are damaged, but given the large number of abandoned wells, those damaged casings can pose an evironmental risk, they concluded. Continue reading “Environment: Study says abandoned oil and gas wells are a pathway for methane leaks from new fracking sites”

National Park Service to update oil and gas drilling rules

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A fracking boom near national parks has already degraded air quality and fragmented wildlife habitat around some of the country’s most cherished public lands. @bberwyn photo.

Agency acknowledges potential for adverse impacts to park values

Staff Report

The recent surge in fossil fuel exploitation on public lands near national parks has raised serious concerns about air quality, wildlife and scenic values — to the point that the National Parks Conservation Association outlined threats in a report a few years ago.

Now, the National Park Service wants to tackle some of the concerns by updating drilling regulations.  The proposal would revise current rules that are 36 years old, predating the modern fracking area. The agency hopes the update will give the fossil fuel industry more certainty, improve the agency’s ability to protect park resources and the values for which the parks were set aside, and protect visitors from potentially adverse impacts associated with fossil fuel development. Continue reading “National Park Service to update oil and gas drilling rules”

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

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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”

Colorado steps up sage grouse conservation

Habitat exchange scheme eyed as key component in efforts to protect dwindling western birds

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Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is ordering state agencies to boost greater sage-grouse conservation efforts. Photo courtesy USFWS.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is calling for an all-out state effort to protect greater sage-grouse by stepping up coordination among state agencies, improving habitat on state-controlled lands, and boosting the role of the state’s oil and gas commission.

The new conservation push, announced in a May 15 executive order, also outlines a market-based habitat exchange program that would let ranchers and other landowners buy and sell conservation credits to developers, including the oil and gas industry with the goal of mitigating “residual impacts” to sage-grouse habitat. Continue reading “Colorado steps up sage grouse conservation”