‘Communities Protecting the Green River’ file objections to Wyco Water and Power’s proposed Flaming Gorge pipeline

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

Rock Springs, Wyo.-based Communities Protecting the Green River was the first to lodge objections to Fort Collins entrepreneur Aaron Million’s Regional Watershed Supply Project.

The group includes the cities of Green River and Rock Springs, Wyo. and Sweetwater County, Wyo.

“In reality, it is an investment scheme masquerading as a water supply project, which is masquerading as a pump-back hydropower project,” Don Hartley, the group’s vice-chairman, wrote in a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Dec. 9…

“This project is portrayed as a hydropower project, but pumping water over the Continental Divide will require more energy than can be generated from the fall of the water on the east side (of the divide),” Hartley wrote.

He added that consideration of such a massive water pipeline is premature because a federal study of the amount of water available to be consumed by growing communities in the Green River-Colorado River watershed is ongoing.

More coverage from the Associated Press via the Billings Gazette. Here’s an excerpt:

Many in western Wyoming say they’re concerned the project would draw down Flaming Gorge Reservoir. The city of Green River has joined the city of Rock Springs and Sweetwater County to fight Million’s proposal.

Green River Mayor Hank Castillon said Monday that residents are unified in opposition to the project. “They just don’t want to see Wyoming water going to Colorado,” Castillon said. “The main issues are recreational, and they feel that it’s going to affect their lifestyle as far as sporting events and water because we have the Flaming Gorge here also the fishing up and down the Green River, fish habitat.”[…]

Million filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this summer spelling out plans to construct a system of turbines and reservoirs along the pipeline to generate electricity. While he has said the project wouldn’t generate more electricity than pumping the water would consume, he said generation would help cover its pumping costs. He wants to construct a reservoir on the slopes of Sheep Mountain, west of Laramie, and generate electricity by pumping water into the reservoir and having it flow through turbines on its way downstream to another lake nearby, Lake Hattie…

Steve Jones, watershed protection program attorney with the Wyoming Outdoor Council in Lander, said his group is concerned with the prospect of such large-scale pumping out of the Green River. “It’s obvious to me that some years, there is not going to be any water available, and other years there might,” Jones said. “But to me, the idea that, that reservoir could supply that year in and year out, is just wrong, according to the statistics that I’ve looked at.”[…]

Duane Short, wild species program director with the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance in Laramie, said federal roadless policies would prohibit construction on Sheep Mountain…

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead has expressed opposition to Million’s project. His office said this week that the state plans to file comments with FERC.

More Flaming Gorge pipeline coverage here and here.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission green lights new hydraulic fracturing disclosure rule, ‘trade secrets’ safe for now

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From the Denver Business Journal (Cathy Proctor):

The rule allows oil and gas companies to claim that some of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, also called “fracking,” are proprietary trade secrets, but requires companies to disclose the names and concentrations of all other chemicals…

“We have a good rule that’s an important step forward for Colorado,” said Mike Freeman, a Denver-based attorney for the Earthjustice environmental advocacy group. “This is the first state rule that I know of that requires the disclosure of chemical concentrations of all chemicals, not just those covered by workplace safety rules,” Freeman said…

“The industry gave dramatically” when it agreed to include chemical concentrations, said Tisha Schuller, president and CEO of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA), a trade group. “And we gave because Colorado requires a level of transparency that’s not required by other states,” she said…

“We think these rules are a model for other states, and also that they’re the right rules for Colorado, our families and our neighbors,” said Dave Neslin, director of the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission. The rule, which takes effect on April 1, will give oil and gas companies between 60 and 120 days to post information about the chemicals used in fracking operations at a website, http://www.fracfocus.com.

Companies claiming trade secret protection for the name or concentration must fill out a new form, Form 41, that outlines what can and can’t be considered a trade secret. If someone believes that companies are inappropriately using the trade secret claim they can ask the COGCC to look into the matter, and file a lawsuit if they’re not happy with the commission’s response, Neslin said.

The Denver Business Journal is running a roundup of their articles about hydraulic fracturing, as well.

More coverage from Mark Jaffe writing for The Denver post. Click through for the cool photo from the Associated Press. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“The level of detail required in this rule is much greater than other states require,” said Mike Freeman, an attorney for the environmental law group Earthjustice.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Commission unanimously adopted the rule after last-minute negotiations among environmental groups, industry and state regulators…

Some states, such as New Mexico, only require that chemicals identified by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration as hazardous in the workplace, be listed.

“We know that is about half the chemicals in fracking fluid, so we are doubling the number of chemicals” to be disclosed, said David Neslin, the commission’s executive director.

Other states, such as Wyoming and Arkansas, require all chemicals be listed, but do not require revealing the concentrations of the ingredients, Freeman said…

The compromise on the chemical concentrations was that the chemicals and concentrations would be listed separately from the descriptions of the products in the frack fluid. This would make it difficult to know which chemicals go in which products.

More coverage from P. Solomon Banda writing for the Associated Press via the Boston Globe. From the article:

The guidelines are similar to those required by a first-in-the-nation law passed in Texas this year but go further by requiring the concentrations of chemicals to be disclosed. Also, if Colorado drillers claim a trade secret, they would still have to disclose the ingredient’s chemical family. In emergencies, companies would have to tell health care workers what those secret ingredients were…

In recent years, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming have proposed or adopted rules requiring disclosure of fracking chemicals.

More coverage from Hendrik Sybrandy writing for Fox31. From the article:

“It’s a real win for the citizens of Colorado,” said Tom Thompson, Chairman of the COGCC. “This is really a small part in ensuring that our water supplies are protected.”

Tisha Schuller, the President of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, which represents the industry, also heralded the collaboration that led to the adoption of the new rule.

“The Commission’s unanimous support for the new hydraulic fracturing disclosure rule is great news for Colorado,” Schuller said. “The Hickenlooper Administration, environmental groups, and the oil and gas industry have agreed upon a rule of which all Coloradoans can be proud.”[…]

Anadarko Petroleum is currently doing tests near the Murphy Creek and Cross Creek subdivisions in east Aurora. Ward Two Council member Renie Peterson held an informational session at the city’s municipal building to provide residents details about the project and fracking in general.

“Constituents, they don’t understand, and of course fear triggers outrage,” Peterson said before the meeting.

“As a scientist that studied a lot of neurotoxins and neurodegenerative diseases, I know some of these chemicals they’re putting in the ground and what they can do long-term to human health,” said Eric Neeley, a Cross Creek resident who’s opposed to the Anadarko project.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

The Colorado Supremes approve Democratic district boundaries for the General Assembly

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Here’s the link to the final plans submitted by the Colorado Reapportionment Commission in Google Earth format.

From The Denver Post (Tim Hoover):

“It is ordered that Resubmitted Plan for districts for the Senate and House of Representatives shall be, and the same hereby is approved,” the court said in a short order issued today, rejecting Republican arguments that the maps were unconstitutional. “It is further ordered that the resubmitted plan shall be filed with Colorado Secretary of State no later than Dec. 14, 2011.” The state’s high court earlier this year kicked back a first set of maps drawn by the Colorado Reapportionment Commission, agreeing with Republican arguments that the maps — which had been approve on bipartisan votes — split too many counties. The commission then went back to the drawing board in late November, approving a new set of maps – drawn by Democrats – on 6-5 votes over Republican objections.

The maps would make 38 of 100 legislative seats competitive, with 24 in the 65-member House and 14 in the 35-member Senate.

More coverage from Joe Hanel writing for The Durango Herald. From the article:

The court accepted a map that puts Durango and Gunnison in the same state House district and ships off conservative Montezuma County to join a Montrose-based district…

Monday’s three-paragraph decision did not elaborate on the justices’ reasoning, and it did not say how each of the seven justices voted.

The new map makes big trouble for many Republicans, including Rep. J. Paul Brown of Ignacio. Brown now will have to travel three mountain passes between Durango and Gunnison, and he will be in a district that is much easier for Democrats to win than his old one, which was drawn along the Cortez-Durango-Pagosa Springs axis…

Other Republicans were angry, including Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs. “It is disappointing to see the Supreme Court validate such blatantly partisan and politically vindictive maps. It is clear that the reapportionment process in Colorado is broken and in need of reform,”

Cadman said in a news release. Cadman now shares a Colorado Springs district with Sen. Keith King, the Senate Republican with the most experience in education policy. Only one of them will survive past 2012. Other senior and up-and-coming Republicans also will have to run against each other in primaries if they want to stay in the Legislature.

The map harms a few Democrats, too, by either putting them in safe GOP districts or into districts with other incumbent Democrats. But Democrats were happy about Monday’s decision, which creates – by their definition – 35 House and Senate districts that both parties have a chance to win. “These new districts will favor representatives who are accountable and responsive, and Democrats will field candidates who fit this profile,” said Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio in a news release.

More coverage from Patrick Malone writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. Here’s an excerpt:

Rep. Keith Swerdfeger, R-Pueblo West, landed in House District 46, where Pueblo City Councilman Leroy Garcia, a Democrat, had announced his candidacy months earlier. The new House District 46 is 40 percent Hispanic. Voter registration, based on the 2010 election, is 48.66 percent Democratic, 25.82 percent Republican and 25.06 percent unaffiliated…

The bipartisan Colorado Reapportionment Commission has met and heard public testimony on reapportionment since May. The first set of maps it submitted to the Supreme Court enjoyed broad support on the commission from Democrats and Republicans alike. However, the court ruled that the original submission did not sufficiently minimize splitting counties and cities into multiple districts and rejected it. When the commission resumed its work, Mario Carrera, its unaffiliated chairman, sided with Democrats to cast the deciding vote. Republicans reacted fiercely to the outcome and criticized Democrats’ re- drawn proposals as an opportunistic strike to pit incumbent GOP leaders in districts with each other.

“It’s not required that incumbents be protected,” [Rick Palacio, chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party] said…

Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, finds himself in a district with Sen. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs. “It is disappointing to see the Supreme Court validate such blatantly partisan and politically vindictive maps,” Cadman said. “It is clear that the reapportionment process in Colorado is broken and in need of reform. I am now considering sponsoring a bill for the 2012 session to address this problem.”[…]

“I am confident that with hard-working candidates and a winning message of economic growth and job creation Republicans will expand our majority in the state House (and) win a majority in the state Senate,” [Ryan Call, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party] said.

“When you level the playing field, Democrats are going to prevail,” Palacio said. “They are the candidates standing up for middle-class families, as opposed to today’s Republicans, who are standing up for corporate interests.”

More coverage from Patrick Malone writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

House District 47 now spans from eastern Fremont County through Otero County, lassoing much of Pueblo County in between. No incumbent lives in the district, so an election will be held next year to fill it. Las Animas County now is paired with Eastern Plains counties in a House district.

In the Senate, another orphan district was created by peeling eight counties from District 2, currently held by Sen. Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City. The new district spans from the San Luis Valley to the Lower Arkansas Valley, taking away a portion of District 5 represented by Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village.

More coverage from Patrick Malone writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Newly created Senate District 35 will stretch from the San Luis Valley to the Kansas line, snaring 16 counties — but no incumbent — along the way. Half of the counties in the new district were plucked from present day Senate District 2, where Sen. Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City, was elected just last year, and another seven counties were extracted from the district represented by Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village. “It’s going to be a pretty tough district to campaign and represent,” Grantham said. “It’s very big, but the interests are the same in rural Colorado — the interests that I have still. I’ll represent rural interests whether I technically represent the Arkansas Valley or not.” Grantham’s new district will link Fremont County to El Paso, Teller and Park counties. He will represent the district in part of 2012 and all of 2013 and 2014, when he will be up for re-election…

Las Animas County, which objected that it originally was split into two districts and paired with Pueblo in one, will be in a rural, Eastern Plains district that stretches east to Kansas and north to Washington County. Rep. Wes McKinley, D-Cokedale, lives in that district. He is term-limited, and the seat will be up for grabs next year.

More coverage from Ivan Moreno writing for the Associated Press via The Columbus Republic. From the article:

The Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to approve the maps gives Democrats a sweep in the once-a-decade redistricting battles. The new congressional maps the court approved last week were also drawn by Democrats and give them a chance to unseat Republican Rep. Mike Coffman next year in a district never held by Democrats.

The court did not immediately issue a written opinion on the state legislative maps, which were drawn in a process that became tense with partisanship during the last meetings of the 11-member redistricting commission.

Republicans criticized the maps, calling them “politically vindictive” because they pair several GOP incumbents in the same districts. The most notable are House Republican Leader Amy Stephens and Senate Republican Leader Bill Cadman, both of whom will be in the same districts as members of their own party in El Paso County.

“I’m surprised the court would put its seal of approval on the most partisan state map in 30 years,” said Rob Witwer, one of the Republicans on the commission.

Pairing Republican incumbents in contests could increase Democrats’ five-vote advantage in the Senate and jeopardize the GOP’s one-vote edge in the House…

The new maps for the Colorado House and Senate also mean that 38 of the Legislature’s 100 districts will be considered competitive in the coming years. Because of the state’s growing Latino population, 24 seats would be in districts where Hispanics would account for at least 30 percent of the vote.

Bob Loevy, a political science professor at Colorado College and Republican member of the commission, said his feelings about the maps were “quite mixed.” He said he approves that there are more competitive districts, but he criticized Democrats for what they did to Republican incumbents in leadership…

But [Bob Loevy, a political science professor at Colorado College and Republican member of the commission] said it may not be all bad for Republicans in the end, noting that Republicans now have 35 seats in the Legislature that are considered safe, compared with the Democrats’ 25. “The long-range view is that Republicans didn’t do badly,” he said.

More coverage from Lynn Bartels and Tim Hoover writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

But House Speaker Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, said that even with a Democratic “gerrymander,” the GOP is still in good shape to keep control of the House. “The Democrats are still fighting an uphill battle,” McNulty said. “Colorado continues to be a center-right state.”…

The open-and-shut ruling by the Supreme Court on Monday raises the question: Would Republicans have been better off if they hadn’t appealed the initial maps approved by the Colorado Reapportionment Commission? “No one realized the Democrats would be so vindictive when they drew the second set of maps,” said Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray…

Under the new maps, a variety of Republicans will have to either face off in primaries or agree on who bows out to avoid a fight. This dynamic, coupled with hard feelings toward Democrats over the maps, is not likely to make for a pleasant 2012 legislative session. “I think this might be the session you wouldn’t wish on your friends or your enemies,” said House Majority Leader Amy Stephens, R-Monument. “It’s going to be tough.”[…]

“The stars are perfectly aligned for a difficult, contentious and frustrating legislative session,” said John Straayer, a political-science professor at Colorado State University. “You have disgruntlement over apportionment and redistricting, a 2012 presidential election and, with the Lobato (school funding) case, enormous financial pressures on the state. It will take an enormous level of statesmanship to get through the session.”

More coverage from Lynn Bartels writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

“It’s plain dirty politics and we’re going to remind the voters of that at election time,” said [House Majority Leader Amy Stephens], R-Monument…

But one Democrat on the reapportionment commission, former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, argued that Republicans did it to themselves by appealing to the Supreme Court a pair of maps that had passed with bi-partisan support. When the court sent the maps back to the commission saying too many communities had been split, Democrats drew new maps reducing the splits but pairing GOP incumbents in the same districts…

…Webb said anyone who thinks it was “dirty politics didn’t watch the process.”

More coverage from Charles Ashby writing for The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article:

Under the new maps, Grand Junction becomes its own House district while the rest of the county continues to be paired with western Delta County in a separate district.