Tag: Texas

Report finds haphazard enforcement of oil and gas regs

Courtesy Earthworks.

Watchdog group calls for moratorium on new permits pending overhaul of regulatory framework

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — With only one inspector for every 3,000 active oil and gas wells in Colorado, it’s probably not surprising that the state’s oversight of drilling operations is often haphazard and inconsistent, with enforcement of violations often left to the discretion of individual inspectors.

Colorado isn’t alone in facing regulatory challenges. In a six-state study (Colorado, New Mexico,New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas), an Earthworks report found that 53 to 91 percent of active wells are operating with no inspections — that’s a total of about 350,000 wells that may, or may not, be in compliance with state regulations.

The report also found that violations are frequently not reported and that penalties are often not timely or adequate. The biggest problem, according to Earthworks, is that none of the states studied have enough inspection capacity or rigorous protocols and inspection standards.

Read the executive summary: Breaking All the Rules: The Crisis in Oil & Gas Regulatory Enforcement.

The full report: Breaking All the Rules: The Crisis in Oil & Gas Regulatory Enforcement. Continue reading “Report finds haphazard enforcement of oil and gas regs”


Forest Service goes batty with live webcast from Texas

Visitors gather at Bracken Cave near San Antonio, Texas, to experience the nightly flight of millions of Mexican free-tailed bats. Photo courtesy of: Bat Conservation International.

Educational online seminar aimed at building awareness about bat conservation and ecology

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — As white-nose syndrome devastates bat colonies across the country, resource managers and conservation biologists have been struggling to help people understand how just important the flying mammals are to American agriculture and ecosystems.

For many people bats are one of those semi-mythical animals — associated with Halloween and vampires, Meanwhile, their role  as incredibly valuable pollinators and voracious predators of insects is overlooked.

Next week, the Forest Service will try and create more awareness about bats with a live educational webcast (Sept. 18) from Bracken Cave near San Antonio, Texas, home of the world’s largest bat colony, to help students across the country learn about one of the most misunderstood yet beneficial creatures in the world.

The webcast is a part of BatsLIVE! A Distance Learning Adventure, a free education program that aims to bring the best of bat information and research to help children understand the value of bats and the conservation challenges they face. Continue reading “Forest Service goes batty with live webcast from Texas”

San Antonio missions may get World Heritage status

Outposts were early milestones in the colonization of North America

Concepción Mission, San Antonio, Texas. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A group of four historic Spanish missions in San Antonio, preserved as a national historic park, will be nominated to become World Heritage sites.

“The missions represent an important – and often overlooked – chapter of our nation’s history,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. “It’s important that visitors from around the world know and celebrate the contributions of Latinos to the fabric of America, and these missions help tell that story in a very real way.”

Salazar made the announcement in early June at the historic Mission Concepción as he continued to push President Obama’s  Great Outdoors initiative. More so than any other president in recent memory, Obama and his team of public land agency leaders have focused on establishing a 21st century approach to conservation. Continue reading “San Antonio missions may get World Heritage status”

Mountain bikers dispute charges against national park trail


IMBA says trail planning process was started under a national partnership to promote mountain bike opportunities in parks

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A Boulder-based bicycling group is defending its advocacy for a mountain bike trail in Big Bend National Park. Conservation and watchdog groups charge that the National Park Service erred by starting construction of the trail before giving the public a chance to comment on the final decision — as required by federal law.

The International Mountain Biking Association doesn’t dispute what it calls a procedural error on the part of the agency, but says it’s been partnering with the park service since 2005 to expand cycling opportunities in national parks.

The bike group is also challenging other statements made by critics of the trail in a statement on its website. Some of the critics have said the Big Bend trail would be the first in a national park, while IMBA points out that there are trails on other lands administered by the agency, including Golden Gate National Recreation Area, north of San Francisco, seen by some as the birthplace of mountain biking. See a full list of authorized mountain roads and trails in national park units here. Continue reading “Mountain bikers dispute charges against national park trail”

Biodiversity: Monarch butterflies in steep decline

Monarch butterflies during migration. PHOTO COURTESY GENE NEIMINEN/USFWS.

GMO crops blamed for significant 10-year drop in population numbers

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —A decades-long downward trend in Monarch butterfly numbers is expected to continue this year, with reports from the World Wildlife Fund and other sources indicating there may be almost one-third fewer butterflies making the northward flight from Mexico this spring and summer.

This year’s steep decline may, in part, be due to last summer’s severe drought in Texas, which resulted in less food for the showy insects as they traveled south. But year-to-year fluctuations don’t hide the overall long-term trend of population decline.

“The latest information shows that Monarchs will be down from 25 to 30 percent this year, and that has been part of a disturbing trend the last few years,” said Craig Wilson, a senior research associate in the Center for Mathematics and Science Education and a long-time butterfly enthusiast.

This year, according to the Texas Monarch Watch, Monarchs covered about 7.14 acres of forest in their Mexican breeding grounds compared to 9.9 acres last year, and it shows a continued long-term downward trend in Monarch population since official surveys began in 1994. Continue reading “Biodiversity: Monarch butterflies in steep decline”

Texas timber industry takes a $97 million hit from wildfires

An engine at the Nolan County Complex sprays water on mesquite pile earlier this summer. PHOTO COURTESY STEVE PAES. Click on the image to see more photos from the Texas wildfires at the Inciweb Gallery.

175 million cubic feet of timber up in smoke

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Along with causing several deaths and burning thousands of homes, the latest round of wildfires in east Texas has destroyed almost $100 million worth of timber, resulting in economic costs far beyond the immediate cost of fighting fires and the value of the destroyed homes, the Texas Forest Service reported this week.

“Along with the heavy toll on people and property, these fires have significantly damaged the forestland — and the forest sector as a whole — in East Texas,” said Chris Edgar, a forest resource analyst with Texas Forest Service. “It’s a tremendous loss for the East Texas timber industry.”

In 2007, forest industries funneled $427 million into the economy in Cass and Marion counties while employing 1,330 people with a payroll of $72 million. More information on the Texas wildfires is online at Inciweb. Continue reading “Texas timber industry takes a $97 million hit from wildfires”

Bastrop Fire in Texas now 30 percent contained

Texas fires claimed more than 1,000 homes in past three days

Bastrop Fire map, Texas wildfires
The Bastrop fire complex near Austin, Texas is now 30 percent contained.

SUMMIT COUNTY — The 33,000-acre Bastrop Fire, one of the most destructive of the recent Texas wildfires, is now 30 percent contained, according to the Texas Forest Service, but the fire is still threatening a powerplant, as well as historic cabins in Bastrop State Park.

The western flank of the fire is still a threat to eastern edge of Bastrop, where 5,000 residents have been evacuated. The Bastrop Fire burned 785 homes during Labor Day weekend, according to the Sept. 7 update from the Texas Forest Service. The agency also said that 238 homes were burned by other fires in the past three days. Continue reading “Bastrop Fire in Texas now 30 percent contained”