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.
Denver’s air is deteriorating, with increased ozone and soot, pushing the city from 26th to 13th among most-polluted cities in the nation, the American Lung Association said Wednesday in releasing a survey.
The troubling trend in Denver and Fort Collins, which rose to 16th among most-polluted U.S. cities, exemplified a slide in air quality across Western states, according to ALA officials, who based their analysis on federal and state government air data.
Rising temperatures and drought in the West are creating ideal conditions for episodes of high pollution from tiny particulates, the officials said. They’re urging installation of more air-testing stations to track the trend and protect public health.
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.
Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner will introduce legislation in Congress on Wednesday that would bar the federal government from listing greater sage grouse as endangered and give western states six more years to revive grouse populations on their own.
“When it comes to the environment in our own backyard, we understand it far better than anybody in Washington D.C. This would give us the ability to manage our most important resources at the local level,” Gardner said in an interview Tuesday.
“We have an obligation to future generations to conserve and recover this species. But we can do it on our terms. Let’s put Coloradans in charge, let’s put Westerners in charge of the West.”
CRAIG — Blooping sounds, chest-puffing and ruffling of feathers in a sunrise-mating dance mark the latest survival struggles of greater sage grouse, iconic birds at the center of a storm that may put unprecedented limits on people across a Texas-sized area of the West.
The question — as a decades-long standoff intensifies ahead of a Sept. 30 deadline — is who will impose those limits: the federal government or Colorado and 10 other states that favor flexibility.
Either way, this will be the largest land-conservation feat ever attempted.
Once, greater sage grouse numbered in the millions, along with 300-plus other species, on the sagebrush steppe that stretches from Colorado to California.
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.
Colorado water providers facing a shortfall of 163 billion gallons are turning to a long-ignored resource: wastewater.
They’re calculating that, if even the worst sewage could be cleaned to the point it is safe to drink — filtered through super-fine membranes or constructed wetlands, treated with chemicals, zapped with ultraviolet rays — then the state’s dwindling aquifers and rivers could be saved.
Colorado officials at work on the first statewide water plan to sustain population and industrial growth recognize reuse as an option.
Suncor oil refinery operators responsible for a toxic spill that contaminated Sand Creek and the South Platte River have agreed to pay $1.9 million to settle a lawsuit by federal and state authorities.
A consent decree filed in U.S. District Court says the government authorities agree to drop further legal action unless the spill worsens. This settlement requires court approval after at least 30 days for public notice and comment.
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Twice a month, Metropolitan State University student biologists David Watson and Stephen Aderholdt have been slogging through contaminated Bear Creek testing the water, at work on a mystery of how its once-pure currents turned foul.
They’ve documented E. coli bacteria levels up to 19 times higher than the state health limit. “Why is there so much E. coli? Where is it coming from?” Aderholdt, 31, said on the banks on a recent Saturday.
While government agencies have done their own testing and in 2008 deemed Bear Creek officially “impaired,” expanding data gathered by the students — trained by the Environmental Protection Agency and a community group called Groundwork Denver — may be crucial in crafting a cleanup plan.