Ten Western mountain towns feeling the effects of climate change are launching a campaign that targets the coal industry, seeking hundreds of millions of dollars a year from companies to help communities adapt.
The “Mountain Pact” towns in Colorado and neighboring states contend that, because coal is a major source of heat-trapping greenhouse gases linked to climate change, the industry should pay more to help deal with the impact.
In a letter being sent this week to federal officials, lawmakers and the White House, the towns demand changes in the federal government’s system for collecting royalties from coal companies, half of which flow back to states for local distribution.
Colorado on Friday joined a lawsuit by oil-producing states challenging the federal government’s new rules for fracking on federal public lands.
The lawsuit contends the U.S. Bureau of Land Management cannot impose regulations on hydraulic fracturing, arguing that federal law lets states regulate oil and gas operations. Wyoming and North Dakota launched the litigation.
Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman issued a statement saying Colorado has robust regulations and that state regulators are doing a good job.
Earthquakes of magnitude 3 or greater are 100 times more likely now than in 2008 in regions of Colorado and seven states that are hotbeds for oil and gas drilling, federal geologists said Wednesday.
This has prompted the government to prepare new seismic-risk maps for construction, insurance and public safety.
The question of who bears the costs of possible damage and quake-resistant construction has yet to be decided. But a U.S. Geological Survey team, based in Colorado, also has started a series of meetings with engineers and designers.
Oil and gas companies have yet to fully restore land around half of the 47,505 inactive wells in Colorado, and 72 percent of those un-restored sites have been in the process for more than five years, The Denver Post has found.
The state requires oil and gas companies to restore all sites completely — to reduce erosion, loosen compacted soil, prevent dust storms and control invasions of noxious weeds.
But Colorado does not set a timetable for getting the job done. Nor do state regulators track how long companies take to complete required work.
Oil and gas spills are happening more often in Colorado — at a rate of two a day this year — and usually without anyone telling residents.
Colorado has seen nearly as many spills so far this year as were recorded in all of 2013 — a reflection of greater drilling activity, new reporting requirements and, the state says, tougher enforcement.
While the American Petroleum Institute industry trade group recently announced new standards encouraging companies to communicate more robustly with communities, API says this doesn’t include conveying details of spills — a task left to government.
State rules require companies to report spills to a Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission database, the owner of land where a spill happens, state health authorities if contaminants reach water, and a local government designee. But government officials generally don’t announce spills or otherwise notify nearby residents.
PLATTEVILLE — A cleaner kind of oil and gas production has begun at the epicenter of Colorado’s boom, where pollution threatens the state’s hard-won gains in air quality.
There are no storage tanks, a main source of toxic fumes.
Valves that hiss steadily at old-style facilities are replaced by “low-bleed” valves that pollute only in tight spurts.
State government enforcers increasingly are letting oil and gas companies that break rules do public service projects instead of imposing formal penalties.
The shift reflects evolving efforts by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to cope with expanding industrial operations in a way that demonstrably helps harmed communities.
The COGCC “continually seeks to put into practice a robust enforcement program,” COGCC director Matt Lepore wrote in response to Denver Post queries.
At least 1,500 cubic yards of petroleum-contaminated soil will be hauled from the oil and gas spill along Parachute Creek to Utah for final disposal.
After 18 months of cleanup around Suncor’s oil refinery, contamination of the South Platte River is diminishing, but concentrations of cancer-causing benzene in the water remain six times higher than the national safety standard.
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GREELEY — For the first time in decades, residents of industry-friendly Greeley are fighting to keep oil and gas wells away from their homes.