The EPA is seeking volunteer scientists for peer review of their draft report on the Pavillion Oil Field

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From The Hill (Ben German):

The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking scientists to volunteer for what promises to be a closely watched job: reviewing its politically explosive report about groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracturing in a Wyoming natural-gas field. The agency plans to publish a Federal Register notice Tuesday seeking nominations for scientists to peer review the draft study released in December about contamination near Pavillion, Wyo…

The upcoming Federal Register notice seeks scientists and engineers with expertise in petroleum geology, hydrology, geophysics and other fields.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Over 100 Public Leaders, Business Owners, Local Farmers Call for Protections for Colorado’s Rivers

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Here’s the release from Environment Colorado (Patrick Stelmach):

State Senator Lucia Guzman, Commerce City Mayor Pro Tem Dominick Moreno, Dvorak Expeditions owner Bill Dvorak, and Confluence Kayaks owner Alex Manzo joined Environment Colorado at the Colorado State Capitol to call on President Barack Obama to restore Clean Water Act protections to the Colorado River and waterways across Colorado and the country.

Together, they delivered to James Martin, EPA Regional Administrator of Region 8, letters signed by 117 elected officials, farmers, and outdoor recreation businesses across Colorado who strongly support moving forward to permanently restore protections to these waterways, for the 40th anniversary of the landmark Clean Water Act.

“To be able to truly celebrate forty years of cleaner water, we need to protect all our treasured rivers – the Colorado, the South Platte, the Arkansas and the Cache la Poudre – by restoring the Clean Water Act,” said Patrick Stelmach, Field Organizer with Environment Colorado. “The good news is that President Obama has started taking us down the road to cleaner water. Now he needs to tie a bow on the clean water present for all Americans.”

The South Platte River is cherished by millions in Denver and across Colorado. Coloradans depend on it as a major source of drinking water for the Eastern part of the state, and for kayaking and fishing. Furthermore, all Coloradans need clean water for drinking water, fishing, swimming, agriculture, and recreation.

As the Clean Water Act turns forty, it faces severe limitations. In fact, due to several poor Supreme Court decisions over the past decade, 62% percent of Colorado’s streams and 3.7 million Coloradans’ drinking water are at risk of pollution.

“As a Colorado State Senator, I know that my constituents need clean water for drinking water, fishing, swimming, agriculture, recreation, and the wellbeing of their communities,” said Senator Lucía Guzmán, Senate District 34.

The event comes at another key moment for the Clean Water Act: President Obama has proposed guidelines to restore critical Clean Water Act protections to these waters and now is considering finalizing them and making them permanent.

“The time is now for President Obama to restore Clean Water Act protections,” Commerce City Mayor Pro Tem Dominick Moreno said. “The people standing with me today and who signed these letters show that people in Colorado want their water clean, and they want all of Colorado’s rivers, streams and creeks protected from pollution for many years to come.

Environment Colorado also rallied in Colorado Springs yesterday. Here’s a release from the organization via The Pueblo Chieftain:

Environment Colorado staged a rally Thursday at Colorado Springs City Hall to encourage President Barack Obama to restore permanent protection of rivers under the Clean Water Act.

The group has presented 117 letters to Obama, signed by elected officials, farmers, and recreational business owners across Colorado who support moving forward to permanently restore protections to these waterways, for the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act.

Several Arkansas River outfitters and former Pueblo City Councilman Ray Aguilera were among those signing a letter to Obama.

“To be able to truly celebrate 40 years of cleaner water, we need to protect the Arkansas River by restoring the Clean Water Act,” said Virginia Shannon, field organizer with Environment Colorado.

Environment Colorado believes the act faces severe limitations, due to U.S. Supreme Court decisions over the past decade, and claims 68 percent of Colorado’s streams and 3.7 million Coloradans’ drinking water are at risk of pollution.

Obama has proposed guidelines to restore critical Clean Water Act protections, Shannon said.

Flaming Gorge pipeline: Conservations groups urge the IBCC to suspend their evaluation effort

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Here’s the release from Western Resource Advocates (Jason Bane):

Conservation leaders from across the West today encouraged the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) to suspend examination of the so-called ‘Flaming Gorge Pipeline’ and focus its efforts on water supply and conservation efforts that are both more realistic and cost-effective.

“The Flaming Gorge Pipeline is a bad idea that is never going to make sense for Colorado, and no amount of debate is going to change this very basic fact,” said Bart Miller, Water Program Director at Western Resource Advocates. “There isn’t enough lipstick in the world to make this pig more presentable.”

Today [Thursday, January 12] is the first meeting of ‘The Flaming Gorge Pipeline Task Force,” which was convened by the CWCB to further discuss a proposal to pump water more than five hundred (500) miles from the Green River in Wyoming to the Front Range of Colorado. Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is just one of numerous conservation groups that declined invitations to take part in the ‘task force’ to study a project that CWCB estimates would cost some $9 billion to complete.

“We declined invitations to participate in further discussions about the pipeline project because it distracts from realistic proposals that Colorado can undertake now,” said Miller. “The public doesn’t want the pipeline, elected officials don’t like it, and we can’t afford it. We need to move on to other ideas.”

The pipeline proposal has already encountered widespread opposition. Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead has formally objected to the proposal, as have cities and counties across Colorado and Wyoming (from Rock Springs, Green River and Sweetwater County in Wyoming, to Mesa County and the City of Grand Junction in Colorado). A survey conducted by the sportsmen’s group Trout Unlimited in Fall 2011 showed that nearly 80% of Wyoming residents opposed the pipeline.

“Like most conservation groups, we encourage cooperative decision making for Colorado’s water needs,” said Becky Long of the Colorado Environmental Coalition, which also declined to participate in the ‘task force’. “At the same time, it is incumbent of any responsible organization to recognize when an idea has run its course. Nobody should spend any more time or money beating their heads against this particular wall.”

Many regional conservation groups are already supporting existing proposals for water availability, such as ‘Prairie Waters’ in Aurora; Chatfield Reservoir re-allocation; the WISE water project; and the ‘Super Ditch’ in Southern Colorado. These projects represent just a partial list of water plans that can be pursued now and in the near future – projects that should be prioritized over pipe(line) dreams.

Aaron Million, President of Wyco Power and Water, Inc., is seeking a federal permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to review his proposal for a pipeline project, which has become something of a test case for any similar proposals in the future. More than 5,000 comments from citizens, governments and non-profit organizations were formally submitted to FERC in December 2011; out of more than 5,000 submissions1, only 1 (one) was supportive of the idea.

For More Information on the Flaming Gorge Pipeline, go to:
http://www.westernresourceadvocates.org/water/pipeline/million.php

More Basin Roundtable Project Exploration Committee: Flaming Gorge process coverage here. More Flaming Gorge pipeline coverage here and here.

DNR is evaluating the impact of oil and gas exploration and production on water supplies

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From 9News.com (Jessica Zartler):

Some water conservation districts and environmental groups have expressed concern over the sustained use of water in hydraulic fracturing operations and now, the Department of Natural Resources is doing its own analysis to crunch the numbers and address questions from across the state about the short and long-term impacts on Colorado’s water resources. The report is set to be released sometime this month.

Individual water districts are not waiting to start looking at the issue, including the district where residents in the Reunion Subdivision have seen the latest hydrant-hook-up. The South Adams County Water and Sanitation District has already held board meetings and accepted public comment to set its guidelines for when and how much water it will allow oil and gas companies to use.

The water district says at this point is has only issued one construction hydrant permit for water use to Select Energy Services, the company that recently reactivated a fracking operation near the Reunion subdivision.

Under the permit, the company is paying $4.87 per thousand gallons for its water, $1.10 more than the average residential customer. By the end of December, the fracking operation had used 453,700 gallons of water – more than three times the average use of a South Adams Water household for an entire year.

The water district says although it is still working out the details on the limits it will set for leasing water, it does see some potential benefits to leasing water to fracking operations. South Adams County Water and Sanitation District spokesman Jim Jones cites the possibility of lower utility bills for residential customers due to increased profits and less impact on local roads because companies can pump the water direct instead of trucking it in from an outside source.

Meanwhile, here’s a report about waterless hydraulic fracturing from Matt Goodman writing for CBSDFW.com. From the article:

What if it was possible to frack without water?

In 2008, Calgary-based energy company GasFrac did just that: it used a thick propane gel in place of treated water. The method, called liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) fracturing –– or simply gas fracking –– pumps a mix of the gel and sand into the shale formations more than a mile underground.

That mixture is the fracking fluid. It’s used to break up the rock, releasing natural gas bubbles trapped inside. While facing extreme pressure deep inside the earth, the propane gel turns into a vapor and returns to the surface with the natural gas, where it can be recaptured.

“We don’t do any water with the frack,” said Emmett Capt, GasFrac’s vice president of U.S. operations. “We use what actually comes out of the ground.”

Since 2008, GasFrac has successfully harvested natural gas using its method about 1,000 times, Capt said. Nine hundred of those were at wells in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia and New Brunswick.

Finally, Governor Hickenlooper wants local government to tread cautiously in the area of oil and gas regulation. Here’s a report from David O. Williams writing for the Colorado Independent. From the article:

“When the Environmental Defense Fund and Halliburton stood together in Colorado in support of the state’s new ‘fracking’ disclosure rule, other states took notice,” Hickenlooper said during his State of the State address. “It’s another reason why we believe so passionately in the power of partnership and collaboration.”

State Rep. Matt Jones, D-Louisville, said last month he was working on a bill with Sen. Bob Bacon, D-Fort Collins, that would give local governments greater control over drilling operations, including hydraulic fracturing. They’ll be fighting an uphill battle with Hickenlooper, however.

“In that same spirit [of collaboration], we intend to work with counties and municipalities to make sure we have appropriate regulation on oil and gas development, but recognize the state can’t have 64 or even more different sets of rules,” Hickenlooper said, referring to the number of counties in the state…

“My focus has been actually getting the oil and gas commission to move ahead on the rules we have already given them the authority for,” state Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass, said. “Some of the issues are reclamation, setbacks, and the other issue is air quality.”

Schwartz said the COGCC can go ahead with a rulemaking on those issues without the legislature getting involved.

“They have the authority to do it; we’ve already done it legislatively,” Schwartz said. “We’ve already had that fight. We have the battle scars from that. We need to have the commission stepping up and really using their authority as opposed to providing more legislation, and if they don’t, it will call for more legislation.”

More oil and gas coverage here and here.