Energy policy — oil and gas: Halliburton Co. CEO Dave Lesar takes a sip of the company’s new frac fluid during keynote at the Colorado Oil and Gas Association conference in Denver

hydraulicfracturing.jpg

From the Associated Press (Catharine Tsai):

He raised a container of Halliburton’s new fracking fluid made from materials sourced from the food industry, then called up a fellow executive to demonstrate how safe it was by drinking it, according to two attendees.

The executive mocked reluctance, then took a swig.

What he drank was apparently CleanStim, which when Halliburton announced it in November was undergoing field trials…

The Houston company, which has operations in about 80 countries, has said the product shouldn’t be considered edible.

Meanwhile The Atlantic (Ben Heineman Jr.) is asking the question Can the Fracking Industry Self-Regulate?. From the article:

…today shale gas production faces important environmental and safety issues which must be addressed through both voluntary corporate action and appropriate regulation, with business leaders playing a key role in both spheres.

This is a central conclusion in an important, interim report from a panel of experts constituted by the Department of Energy to assess environmental and safety implications of the new technologies of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing which have made the shale gas boom possible.

The report was issued on August 11th, but it was lost amidst stock market gyrations and global economic uncertainty. Yet, the long-term implications of dramatically increasing supplies of natural gas from shale are of first-order significance to the global economic future. And the report — from the shale gas subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board — provides incisive perspective on how to balance economic and environmental issues and on the central part enlightened business leaders must play.

Here’s the link to the report. Here’s the executive summary:

The Shale Gas Subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board is charged with identifying measures that can be taken to reduce the environmental impact and improve the safety of shale gas production.

Natural gas is a cornerstone of the U.S. economy, providing a quarter of the country’s total energy. Owing to breakthroughs in technology, production from shale formations has gone from a negligible amount just a few years ago to being almost 30 percent of total U.S. natural gas production. This has brought lower prices, domestic jobs, and the prospect of enhanced national security due to the potential of substantial production growth. But the growth has also brought questions about whether both current and future production can be done in an environmentally sound fashion that meets the needs of public trust.

This 90-day report presents recommendations that if implemented will reduce the environmental impacts from shale gas production. The Subcommittee stresses the importance of a process of continuous improvement in the various aspects of shale gas production that relies on best practices and is tied to measurement and disclosure. While many companies are following such a process, much-broader and more extensive adoption is warranted. The approach benefits all parties in shale gas production: regulators will have more complete and accurate information; industry will achieve more efficient operations; and the public will see continuous, measurable improvement in shale gas activities.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

2011 Sustaining Colorado Watersheds Conference: The First Drop Lands Here, October 4-6

trailridgesnow052011.jpg

Here’s the agenda. Here’s the conference page. Here’s the registration page.

More Colorado Water coverage here.

San Luis Valley: For the first time since 2003 groundwater levels in parts of the valley have not increased

usdroughtmonitor08162011.jpg

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Matt Hildner):

While the unconfined aquifer sits at a higher level than it did during that drought year, Allen Davey, an engineer who monitors groundwater for the Rio Grande Water Conservation District, said the decline could pinch growers by the end of the season.”There’s going to probably be some shortage of groundwater for wells,” he told the district’s board at its quarterly meeting Tuesday.

Davey said following the meeting that higher rates of pumping coupled with a below-average snowpack prevented the normal bounce in water levels. “I think the commodity prices are high. Precipitation is low. So we’ve had high pumping rates,” he said…

The unconfined aquifer is typically recharged in late spring and early summer as ditches begin diverting from the Rio Grande and the water is sent to agricultural fields, where it percolates down. As the season progresses, farmers pump that aquifer to finish their crops. In the past six years, the late spring recharge has bumped the aquifer’s level by as little as 100,000 acre-feet and by as much as 200,000 acre-feet.

More Rio Grande River basin coverage here.

Western Resource Advocates: The Water-Energy Nexus in Coloradan Communities — Managing Energy Use in the Water Sector

smithreservoir.jpg

Here’s the report from Western Resource Advocates. Here’s an excerpt:

Update: I failed to properly proofread but the gang at Western Resource Advocates do. I’ve corrected the excerpt below.

Many local governments are developing plans to reduce their energy and water usage. Most often, these efforts are managed separately. However, energy is embedded in all stages of water use, which creates an opportunity for local governments to work toward both of their goals simultaneously. Water requires energy during the pumping, treating, distribution, heating, and wastewater treatment stages. Thus, every gallon of water saved also saves energy.

The development of new water supplies and new water infrastructure can significantly increase a community’s energy demands, and this energy demand should be taken into consideration in municipal water and energy plans. As communities develop and implement their sustainability plans, they have opportunities to find new ways to connect their water and energy programs while meeting their triple (economic, environmental, and social) bottom line. This fact sheet outlines strategies to address energy use in the water sector and highlights some of the Colorado communities that are making the connection today.

More conservation coverage here.

Invasive mussels: Reclamation to Provide Training on Protecting Facilities Utilizing Protective Coatings

zebraquaggamussels.jpg

Here’s the release from the Bureau of Reclamation (Peter Soeth):

Discussion will include protection methods to control quagga and zebra musselsThe Bureau of Reclamation’s Technical Service Center will be hosting the Corrosion and Protective Coatings Hands-on Training from October 25-27, 2011, in Denver, Colo., to familiarize participants with the issues relating to corrosion of metal and corrosion protection. The course is open to anyone and will cost $1,050.

The course is intended for engineers, technicians, specification writers, technical project managers, and other staff associated with construction and repair of water resource structures.

Students who attend the Corrosion and Protective Coatings Hands-on Training will learn how corrosion occurs and methods to minimize and prevent corrosion to infrastructure protective coatings, cathodic protection, new technologies, and inspection and repair techniques relating to maintenance and repair infrastructure.

The course will also discuss methods to control quagga and zebra mussels, with emphasis on antifouling coating control methods.

Attendees will be provided the opportunity to prepare steel panels, apply coatings, perform destructive and non-destructive testing, inspect coatings and corrosion, and testing of cathodic protective systems.

To learn more about the training or to get the registration materials, please visit: http://www.usbr.gov/pmts/tech_services/training/corrosion.html. You may also contact William Kepler at 303-445-2386.

More invasive species coverage here.

Greeley: The Preble’s meadow jumping mouse is standing is the way of Greeley Water’s proposed pipeline from Bellvue to Greeley

preblesmeadowjumpingmousecoloradostateuniversity.jpg

From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown):

In seeking a permit from the federal government to begin work on the final 6½-mile stretch of the pipeline, Greeley submitted a biological assessment that concluded the portion of the project would not have any “adverse effects” on the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse — protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act — or the northern leopard frog. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service came to a different conclusion this week.

Jon Monson, director of the city of Greeley’s Water and Sewer Department, said the city and its consulting firm — AECOM based in Denver — must now address the issues raised by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Those issues, for example, include revegetating areas for the benefit of the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse and other potentially affected species. Monson described the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ response as “not completely unexpected.” Other city officials expressed frustration at the latest hitch in the project’s schedule…

Monson said he’s hoping to get the needed approval from the federal government in time to proceed with construction plans scheduled for this winter. He added that the current delay won’t cause any additional expenditures since that portion of the project is not yet under construction…

The presence of the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse is continually an environmental issue in construction projects along the Front Range, but this represents the first time the endangered rodent has caused a delay in the progress of Greeley’s ongoing pipeline project, which was initiated in 2003. So far, construction of the 30-mile pipeline — which will have the capacity to deliver an additional 50 million gallons per day to Greeley, enough to satisfy the projected need of Greeley’s water customers for the next 50 years — has taken place on pasture land not inhabited by the rodent. But the next and final phase of the project will take place where the animal has a presence…

“It’s the quintessential example of the U.S. Endangered Species Act run amuck,” [Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway] said. “It’s cost businesses, municipalities and individuals millions of dollars over the years. It makes you wonder what’s being protected.”

More endangered/threatened species coverage here.

Reeves Brown: Why should agriculture, which is already short on water, be the reservoir for the state?

irrigatedagriculture.jpg

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“Why should agriculture, which is already short on water, be the reservoir for the state?” Brown asked. “We need to go forward with a better analysis of the shortage and what is needed to support agriculture.” Brown also is a member of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District and Arkansas Basin Roundtable, and has often tried to keep the issue in front of those groups…

Earlier this month, the [Arkansas Basin] roundtable formed a committee to address Brown’s concerns. In the process, he hopes to guide the state to a new way of thinking about its water needs. At last week’s Lower Ark meeting, Brown expanded on the need for the committee, which is closely aligned with the district’s goals. “The agriculture industry deserves to be more than the stepchild for water supply in the future,” Brown said…

Water users in El Paso County — Fountain, Widefield, Woodmoor and Donala — have been buying farms and ranches for water in recent years. Large blocks of water have been purchased on the Fort Lyon and Bessemer canals for future municipal use. Half of the Amity Canal was sold to Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association for a future power plant. And there are agricultural operations that easily could turn into municipal supply projects throughout the valley, potentially catching the valley off-guard as GP’s plan did. Large blocks of agricultural water have been consolidated in Pueblo and Otero counties, causing public officials to worry about where the water could be headed…

The Lower Ark board is one of few water agencies in the state that firmly supports a Flaming Gorge pipeline. Last year, it supported Aaron Million’s idea for the 560-mile line from the Green River in Wyoming to Colorado’s Front Range because it would develop unused state entitlement in the Colorado River basin and take pressure off Arkansas Valley farms. Million has always insisted that some water from the pipeline be set aside for agricultural and environmental uses. The state’s roundtables have committed to investigating Million’s plan, along with a similar proposal by the Colorado-Wyoming Coalition, as a way of filling the water supply gap…

At a roundtable meeting earlier this month, Fremont County rancher Tom Young asked whether the state should seriously consider importing water from the Missouri River basin in South Dakota, rather than looking for more out of the Colorado River basin from Flaming Gorge Reservoir.

More Arkansas River basin coverage here.