Energy policy — nuclear: A look at the current state of the uranium industry in western Colorado

A picture named pinonridgesite.jpg

Here’s an in-depth look at the proposed Piñon Ridge mill and George Glasier a long-time uranium industry worker, rancher and the owner of Energy Fuels, from Penny Stine writing for The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. Click through and read the whole thing. Here’s an excerpt:

Uranium prices began climbing in 2000. By 2005, Glasier decided to jump back into the uranium business and formed Energy Fuels, naming the new company after the old one as a tribute to the reputation of the former company and its founder, Bob Adams. Several members of the former Energy Fuels Nuclear Company joined the new Energy Fuels, including the current Chief Executive Officer Steven Antony, and Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey Vigil. “I started the company for my own benefit, but also for the benefit of the community,” Glasier said. “I see the community dying, our schools are shrinking. We had 80 graduates when uranium was booming. Last year there were 12 or 13. Our community needs to survive.”[…]

Many locals support the mill, anticipating more jobs, higher wages and more services. Others, especially those with ties to the Telluride tourism industry, are opposed. “The White Mesa Mill is about the same distance from Telluride,” Glasier said. “It’s been there 30 years; it hasn’t done anything to air quality.”

In addressing concerns from organic producers in the area, Glasier notes that there are large certified organic farms near the decommissioned Cotter uranium mill near Cañon City. The Cotter mill didn’t ruin local agriculture by proximity. At this point, those who oppose the mill could file suit. Gary Steele, vice-president of Energy Fuels, says it won’t deter the company from pursuing financing to build the mill. “We’re highly confident in the process we went through,” said Steele, “the due diligence, the issues raised by CDPHE and the answers we gave.”

The company hopes to start construction of the mill within the next year.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

Energy policy — oil and gas: Colorado steps up investigation of hydraulic fracturing

A picture named marcellushydraulicfracturing.jpg

From The Denver Post (Mark Jaffe):

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which oversees drilling, asked the [U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce] for the Colorado data [from their recent investigation]. “The committee said that for confidentiality reasons they could not share it,” said Dave Neslin, the commission director…

The commission has asked the 12 field-service companies that do “fracking” and the principal oil and gas companies in the state for the information. Neslin said the industry is cooperating. “We support the review because the oil-and-gas industry works and plays in the same communities where we operate, so protecting groundwater is important to us,” said Tisha Schuller, president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, a trade group…

The commission also decided Tuesday to have an independent agency — the State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations — audit the state’s regulations on fracking.

More coverage from Mark Jaffe writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

Tracy Dahl, who owns a home in the North Fork Ranch subdivision in Las Animas County, was seeking a judgment from the commission against Pioneer Natural Resources for fouling his well. Dahl’s case centered on the fact that his well filled with sediment last June 30 — the same day Pioneer fracked its Alibi well about 1,300 feet away…

Peter Gintautus, a commission environmental specialist, inspected the Dahl property July 1, took samples and returned for additional samples. There were no traces of fracking fluid or natural gas in the well, Gintautus said. And the well’s turbidity and bacterial counts were within the acceptable standards, he said. Gintautus told the commission that some of the problems may have been caused by a chlorination treatment Dahl had done to the well a few weeks earlier. Kevin Tanner, a Pioneer engineer, testified that the distance from the fracture zone to Dahl’s well was 1,283 feet and that a frac on average extends 150 to 200 feet horizontally and about 30 feet vertically. The process would have lost pressure if it had gone farther or hit a natural fracture, he said.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Southern Delivery System update

A picture named sdspreferredalternative.jpg

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

[Colorado Springs City Council] voted 7-1 to proceed with eminent domain, believing Utilities staff has exhausted all other avenues to solve the problem. Even at that, Mayor Lionel Rivera questioned Project Director John Fredell after it was revealed that Colorado Springs could spend up to $5,000 to help settle disputes of easement payments as low as $1,550. “There has to be flexibility in the real estate manual,” Rivera said. “You, the project director, can use your discretion.”

Fredell earlier explained that 120 of 133 properties or easements in Pueblo West are under contract, with new settlements on Monday with 2 of the 15 holdouts. All of the remaining properties are for easements valued at $1,550-$5,000. While Utilities will continue to work with the remaining 13, Fredell said they appear to have reached a dead end. There has already been one condemnation filed, approved at a meeting last October. “I believe we’ve reached a point where we cannot agree on compensation with the remaining properties,” Fredell said.

More coverage of the city council meeting, and the opposition to SDS, from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Councilman Tom Gallagher, who has been at odds with the rest of council for years over SDS, took the opportunity to call SDS, “The greatest boondoggle that’s ever been conceived by this community.” At one point Gallagher, who is running for mayor in the April election, called SDS Project Director John Fredell to task for not including options to locate the pipeline in a less disruptive manner during the Bureau of Reclamation’s Environmental Impact Statement that evaluated the project. Fredell started to defend the EIS process, which determined the ultimate route of the pipeline from Pueblo Dam to Colorado Springs, when Gallagher cut him off. “This is a case of you deciding where you wanted it to go,” Gallagher said.

Dwain Maxwell, a property owner in Pueblo West whose Kirkwood Drive property is likely to be condemned for an SDS easement, goaded council by saying they were in a hurry to wrap up land deals quickly because the makeup of the council could change dramatically in the April elections. There are nine candidates for a new position of strong mayor and 22 candidates for seven open council seats. “I know you’re trying to get this done before the first of April,” Maxwell said…

[Sean Paige] later said Colorado Springs has gone out of its way to make accommodations on all parts of SDS. The first phase of the project will cost $880 million, including more than $133 million in concessions during the Pueblo County 1041 process. Scheduled for completion in 2016, the project will cost ratepayers $2.3 billion over the next 40 years in financing.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.

Energy policy — nuclear: Pueblo County planning commission approves two measures for proposed nuclear power plant

A picture named nukeplantcattenomfrance.jpg

Colorado is a past, present and future source of uranium. Developer Dan Banner hopes that the state will become a bigger consumer of the fuel to generate electricity. Here’s a report from Peter Strescino writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

After a passionate almost seven-hour meeting which included an executive session, the commission lodged identical 5-3 votes to change a 24,000 acre site south of Grape Road and east of Huerfano Road from agrucultural zoning to that of a planned unit development and give developer Don Banner some leeway in variances and waivers for the initial part of the process. The commissioners will hear Banner’s plans on March 15. He will make a presentation to the Pueblo Area Council of Governments on Thursday. Before a packed house at the Pueblo County Conference Room, Banner laid plans to find a developer for a “clean energy park,” he said will include solar, wind and geothermal energy producing outlets as well as a nuclear plant.

More nuclear coverage here and here.