Energy Fuels plans to permit the proposed Piñon Ridge uranium mill and then shelve the project for better times

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From The Durango Herald (Joe Hanel):

Energy Fuels Resources Inc. will keep holding its license to build the Piñon Ridge uranium mill in the Paradox Valley of Montrose County, but it has no plans to act on the license, said President and CEO Stephen Antony.

“We intend to keep that license in a current, valid form, but not move on construction of the mill until market conditions support it,” Antony said.

The statement is old news to uranium experts, but it comes as a surprise to some Coloradans.

The company’s Piñon Ridge website says, “Energy Fuels anticipates starting construction in late 2012 or 2013.” And its plan on file with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment calls for the mill west of Naturita to be operational by early 2017, with construction beginning in 2015.

Warren Smith, a community involvement manager for the state health department, said Energy Fuels has not contacted his department with any plans to deviate from the schedule it has submitted. The license is valid for five years.

But uranium market analysts have known since Energy Fuels bought the White Mesa uranium mill in Utah that the company has put Piñon Ridge on the back burner. In fact, the company said so itself in a little-noticed statement in December 2012. It came in an annual report filed with financial regulators in Canada, where Energy Fuels is incorporated.

“With the recent acquisition by the Company of the White Mesa Mill, the Company no longer needs to construct the Piñon Ridge Mill in order to meet its planned production for the foreseeable future. Therefore, the Company does not intend to proceed with construction of the mill at this time,” the report said.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

Western Water Assessment’s latest climate briefing

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Click here to go to their climate dashboard. Scroll down for the latest briefings.

Throughout August, the monsoon continued to bring subtropical moisture into the region, but the results were more spotty than in July. Much of Colorado, southern Utah, and far northeastern Wyoming were wetter than average, but northern Utah and the rest of Wyoming were drier than averageWestern US Seasonal Precipitation. The southern Front Range including Colorado Springs saw 5–8″ of rainfall for the month, with some locations seeing about half of their annual average. Conversely, parts of far northern Utah and central and northern Wyoming had less than 25% of average precipitation, and these same areas were also very dry in July. With one month left in the water year, the HPRCC Water Year Precipitation map Western US Seasonal Precipitation still shows only isolated parts of the region with above-average precipitation since October 1.

As in July, the temperatures in AugustWestern US Seasonal Precipitationwere warmer than average across most of the region, except in parts of southern Utah and western Colorado. Most areas were 1–4°F above monthly average temperatures for August. Salt Lake City was again the hot spot, capping off its hottest summer (June–August) ever with a record-hot August 2013 which averaged 82.7°F (5.7°F above average).

Many of the areas that were wetter-than-average during August have improved by one or two categories in the latest US Drought Monitor Modeled Soil Saturation Indexrepresenting conditions as of September 3. The largest areas of improvement are in northeastern Colorado (to D1) and southeastern Colorado (to D2/D3) Modeled Soil Saturation Index. In Wyoming there were smaller areas of improvement in the northeastern and southeastern corners, while D1 expanded slightly in the northwestern corner. In Utah, there was an expansion of D2 in the northwestern part of the state. Overall, drought conditions across the region are similar to where they were at the beginning of June, with improvement in Colorado balanced by drying in Utah and Wyoming.

New federal hydroelectric permitting laws would have helped Ouray with their project

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Here’s a report from Allen Best writing for The Mountain Town News. Click through and read the whole thing. Here’s an excerpt:

[Ouray] Mayor Bob Risch wishes that the two new federal laws signed by President Barack Obama in August had been adopted before he set out to get his project approved.

Those two new laws simplify the federal government’s process for small hydroelectric projects involving pre-existing infrastructure. Promoters say the laws will make it easier to harness the power of flowing water in existing irrigation canals, small dams, and even municipal water lines. Neither of the new laws will result in new dams or diversions. They apply only to existing infrastructure and to installations of 5 megawatts or less.

The previous process was cumbersome. “It was unbelievable,” says Risch, of requirements for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission permit. “They sent you a list of all the steps you have to go through. For example, it included a list of 55 organizations to which we had to send letters, informing them that we were going to start this process and invite comment from them.”

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

Durango Herald: ‘Check out this awesome video about how a burnt forest recovers!’

Say hello to the Middle Colorado River Watershed Council #ColoradoRiver

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From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (John Colson):

Known as the Middle Colorado Watershed Council, it was formed in 2009 with funding mainly from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and currently has just one paid employee — Coordinator Laurie Rink of Carbondale.

The organization has been undergoing a kind of birthing process since it was formed. Organizers are applying for nonprofit status and meet frequently to discuss problems and issues unique to the Colorado River drainage, and to hold public events to familiarize the local citizenry with the Council and its mission.

Rink, as part of the Council’s outreach to other organizations and agencies, gave a presentation on Thursday night to the Garfield County Energy Advisory Board (EAB) about the Council, its goals and its structure.

The Colorado River watershed, Rink told the EAB and an audience of roughly a dozen members of the public, covers approximately 2,000 square miles of terrain from the eastern end of Glenwood Canyon to the town of De Beque.

The boundary of the watershed, she said, is largely identical to the contours of Garfield County.

The watershed encompasses about 7,500 linear miles of rivers, creeks and streams, she said, but not the Roaring Fork River drainage. Although the Roaring Fork is a tributary to the Colorado, it is watched over by another organization, the Roaring Fork Conservancy in Basalt.

All that water, Rink said, is generally used for recreation, agriculture, the energy industry, wildlife, and drinking water.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.

Environmental Entrepreneurs report — ‘Colorado Water Supply and Climate Change: A Business Perspective’

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Click here to read the report. Click here to go to the website. Here’s an excerpt from the report:

As Colorado business leaders, the members of the rocky Mountain chapter of environmental entrepreneurs (e2) are concerned by the mounting evidence that climate change will make it harder to meet the state’s future water needs, that these risks are not yet sufficiently understood, and that not enough is being done to reduce them.

We call on the governor and other key public officials to ensure that the new State Water plan being developed includes specific measures to adequately reduce Colorado’s water risks, as magnified by climate change. our central recommendation is that the state government, water providers, and the private sector work together to reduce per capita municipal and industrial (M&I) water use by 25 percent by 2025 and by 50 percent by 2050. this is a more ambitious goal than anyone has yet proposed for this state. But it is the action that is proportionate to the challenge. It is realistically achievable, as evidence from Colorado and other western states shows. and it is the most reliable, flexible, and affordable way to meet our water needs in a changed future…

Key Recommendations

• The governor should set a goal of reducing per capita urban water use by 25 percent by 2025 and by 50 percent by 2050, compared with 2010 levels. the goal should be included in the State Water plan and met by all water providers.
• The state should require all water providers to adopt water rates that create incentives for water conservation.
• The plan should include a scenario of both climate change-driven increases in demand and potential legal curtailments on water supplies.
• The state should expand water reuse, and require reuse of fluids used in hydraulic fracturing (fracking) oil and gas operations.

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.