#NISP: Galeton Reservoir proposed site now hosts 24 Niobrara shale wells

Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) map July 27, 2016 via Northern Water.
Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) map July 27, 2016 via Northern Water.

From The Greeley Tribune (Catharine Sweeney):

Galeton was slated to go east of Ault and south of Colo. 14, but during the lengthy permitting process, a landowner in the area ended up leasing to Noble Energy.

Now there are 24 active wells on the site.

“You can’t fault the landowner, if somebody’s going to come in and offer (them) money,” said Brian Werner, a spokesman for Northern Water Conservancy District, which acts as the project’s lead agency.

Now the organization has to decide: mitigate or move.

“It can get mitigated,” Werner said. “We can cap those wells.”

But it will be expensive and difficult. In some areas moving might be the more difficult choice, but it’s looking as though that isn’t the case for the Galeton reservoir.

“(There’s) a very similar site across (Colorado) Highway 14 to the north,” Werner said. “And it doesn’t have 24 oil and gas wells in the footprint.”

Niobrara Shale Denver Julesberg Basin
Niobrara Shale Denver Julesberg Basin

More coverage from Jacy Marmaduke writing for the Fort Collins Coloradan:

To mitigate contamination risk, wells on the proposed reservoir site would need to be plugged according to state regulations, said Ken Carlson, an environmental engineering professor at Colorado State University.

“As long as they do what (the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission) says, there’s not a risk,” Carlson said. “There’s over a million wells drilled in this country. This is not a new situation.”

[…]

The plugging process is highly regulated and basically involves inserting huge plugs — at least 100 feet long and usually made of cement — into the drilled hole of the well. The top of the well is then sealed and covered with dirt. Carlson said the process cancels out any risk of contamination, although some research suggests that abandoned wells emit small amounts of methane.

However, plugging a well can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The 15 communities and water districts signed on to use the additional water stored by NISP would probably have to foot the bill, and the costs wouldn’t stop there.

If the wells haven’t reached the end of their useful lives by the time construction of the reservoir begins, Noble could reasonably demand additional reimbursement for plugging them, Carlson said. Noble Energy representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The wells were built in 2010 or later, Northern Water spokesman Brian Werner said. The average lifespan of an oil and gas well in the Weld County area is about 11 years, according to data analysis by Colorado Public Radio. So although the construction timeline for Galeton is several years away — assuming NISP gets federal approval and wins the court battle that would almost assuredly come after — construction could prompt closure of the wells before they’re done producing.

Werner said the decision to move the proposed reservoir location remains up to the project participants.

#AnimasRiver: @EPA reimbursements for #GoldKingMine spill coming for local governments — The Durango Herald

The confluence of Cement Creek, at right, and the Animas River, left, as seen September 2015 in Silverton, Colo. This is where the plume of contaminated water from the Gold King Mine entered the Animas River. (Jon Austria — The Daily Times)
The confluence of Cement Creek, at right, and the Animas River, left, as seen September 2015 in Silverton, Colo. This is where the plume of contaminated water from the Gold King Mine entered the Animas River. (Jon Austria — The Daily Times)

From The Durango Herald (Jessica Pace):

Environmental Protection Agency officials said Wednesday in a meeting with La Plata County and Durango city officials that funds will be awarded to the governmental entities within the next couple of weeks, though the precise amounts to each won’t be apparent until next week…

Reimbursement to businesses, such as local rafting companies, which took a hit last summer when the river was temporarily closed to recreation, is a separate matter, which Durango City Councilor Dean Brookie said will be in the spotlight next week on the spill’s one-year anniversary…

In other updates:

EPA officials said in the coming months, crews will be investigating polluted tributaries around the Bonita Peak Mining District and whether they have the potential to support fish habitat.
Dan Wall, an environmental risk assessor on the Superfund team, said these studies will be “more specific to the physical habitat” than data collection done in previous years by other entities, including the U.S. Geological Survey and the Animas River Stakeholders Group.

In the months ahead, Superfund site manager Rebecca Thomas said the agency is planning a process called an engineering evaluation cost analysis, which will determine the need for and feasibility of continued operations at the Gladstone water-treatment plant.

The plant is a temporary facility intended to operate until fall 2016.

On April 7,  2016, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed adding the “Bonita Peak Mining District” to the National Priorities List, making it eligible for Superfund. Forty-eight mine portals and tailings piles are “under consideration” to be included. The Gold King Mine will almost certainly be on the final list, as will the nearby American Tunnel. The Mayflower Mill #4 tailings repository, just outside Silverton, is another likely candidate, given that it appears to be leaching large quantities of metals into the Animas River. What Superfund will entail for the area beyond that, and when the actual cleanup will begin, remains unclear. Eric Baker
On April 7, 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed adding the “Bonita Peak Mining District” to the National Priorities List, making it eligible for Superfund. Forty-eight mine portals and tailings piles are “under consideration” to be included. The Gold King Mine will almost certainly be on the final list, as will the nearby American Tunnel. The Mayflower Mill #4 tailings repository, just outside Silverton, is another likely candidate, given that it appears to be leaching large quantities of metals into the Animas River. What Superfund will entail for the area beyond that, and when the actual cleanup will begin, remains unclear.
Eric Baker

#Drought news: #Monsoon related showers were mostly confined to the Four Corners States

Click here to go to the US Drought Monitor website. Here’s an excerpt:

Summary

Despite heat and high humidity levels, parts of the Midwest received significant rain. Specifically, showers and thunderstorms produced at least 2 to 4 inches of rain in parts of the upper Mississippi Valley and environs. However, rain mostly bypassed some Midwestern locations, including the lower Great Lakes region. Outside of the Midwest, showers were generally light and scattered, although spotty rainfall provided local relief from hot weather in the Four Corners States and the lower Southeast. Late in the drought-monitoring period, coverage and intensity of shower activity increased in the Gulf Coast region as a weak disturbance over the Gulf Mexico moved inland and helped to focus rainfall. Most of the remainder of the country experienced hot, mostly dry conditions, leading to an expansion of short-term drought in the south-central U.S. and contributing to an increase in wildfire activity in parts of the West. Temperatures above 100°F were commonly observed early in the period on the Plains, but Midwestern temperatures above 95°F were limited to the southwestern fringe of the major corn and soybean production areas. Late in the period, heat replaced previously cool conditions in the Northwest, while temperatures fell to near- or below-normal levels in much of the Plains and Midwest…

Southern Plains

Hot, mostly dry weather persisted on the southern Plains, although showers wrapped around the region through the southern Rockies and the central Plains. Locally heavy showers also developed in the western Gulf Coast region. The general trend was for a large increase in abnormal dryness (D0), with moderate drought (D1) returning in some areas. On July 25, Midland, Texas, set a July record with its 19th day of triple-digit heat. Previously, Midland had recorded 18 days with high of 100°F or greater in July 1964. Midland also set a July record with 9 days of 105-degree heat—all from July 3-14—eclipsing its July 1995 standard of 6 days. By July 24, topsoil moisture rated very short to short had increased to 81% in New Mexico and 74% in Texas. On the same date, the Texas cotton crop was rated 17% very poor to poor, the highest in the nation ahead of Mississippi (11% very poor to poor)…

Northern Plains

Meanwhile, heat briefly compounded the effects of patchy drought across the northern and central Plains. In South Dakota, triple-digit, daily-record highs for July 20 soared to 108°F in Dupree and 107°F in Timber Lake. On July 24, South Dakota led the nation with 15% of its spring wheat rated in very poor to poor condition, followed by North Dakota at 10%. However, some areas received significant rain during the monitoring period, helping to trim drought coverage in parts of North Dakota and environs…

West

Several days of cool weather in the Northwest were followed by increasing heat. By July 25, daily-record heat returned to portions of the interior Northwest, where Yakima, Washington, posted a high of 102°F. Some of the West’s most significant short-term drought covered the Black Hills and adjacent areas, where moderate to extreme drought (D1 to D3) persisted. Portions of Wyoming also continued to note deteriorating short-term conditions. Farther south, heat also returned to southern California, where record-setting highs for July 23 rose to 110°F in Riverside and 108°F in Campo. By July 26, two wildfires in California were of particular concern: the 38,000-acre Sand fire near Santa Clarita and the 24,000-acre Soberanes fire near Big Sur. Farther east, monsoon-related showers were mostly confined to the Four Corners States, although rainfall in most cases was not heavy enough to result in improvement in the drought depiction. Still, Douglas, Arizona, received 2.92 inches of rain from July 17-24, with significant totals also observed in neighboring southwestern New Mexico. For much of the Southwest, however, the trend was toward increasing drought coverage and intensity, in part due to hot weather. On July 19, Salt Lake City, Utah, noted its first-ever minimum temperature above the 80-degree mark—the low was 81°F—with records dating to 1874…

Looking Ahead

During the next few days, an active weather pattern will feature the interaction between a disturbance in the Southeast and cold fronts crossing the Plains and Midwest. As a result, 5-day rainfall totals could reach 2 to 4 inches or more from the Mississippi Delta into the Mid-Atlantic States. Surrounding areas, including the northern and central Plains and the Midwest, could see 1- to 2-inch totals in a few spots. In the West, showers will be heaviest across Arizona and New Mexico, with most other areas remaining hot and dry. Elsewhere, lingering heat will be mostly confined to the lower Southeast, although hot weather will build eastward and return to the High Plains during the weekend.

The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for August 2 – 6 calls for the likelihood of above-normal temperatures across the eastern half of the U.S., while cooler-than-normal conditions can be expected in parts of the Northwest and Southwest. Meanwhile, odds will be tilted toward above-normal rainfall in much of the Southeast, Southwest, and the upper Great Lakes region, while drier-than-normal weather should occur in the Northeast, Northwest, and south-central U.S.

Seasonal drought outlook valid July 21 through October 31, 2016 via the Climate Prediction Center.
Seasonal drought outlook valid July 21 through October 31, 2016 via the Climate Prediction Center.

Who should pay for #climatechange? — BBC

From the BBC:

We have been pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in ever increasing quantities since the industrial revolution. Some countries in the developed world are, of course, responsible for the bulk of this. Since 1850 the US and the nations which are now the EU have been responsible for more than 50% of the world’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

historiccarbondioxideemissionsbycountry1850thru1960wricaitviabbc

So shouldn’t they pay to fix the problem? The inhabitants of The Maldives – made up of more than 1,200 islands, most of which are no more than one metre above sea level – are already feeling the effects of climate change. They are victims. But they didn’t cause the problem. Should those countries with historical responsibility for emissions be obliged to compensate The Maldives?

The old industrialised world might respond that for much of the period since the 1850s nobody knew about man-made global warming. Does that mitigate its responsibility? And why should the current generation be punished for the crimes of its forebears? Is that really fair?

Then there’s the question of who’s polluting now – when we do know the damage it’s doing. China belts out more CO2 than the United States, and the gap between the two is expected to grow as China continues to develop. So perhaps it is China, not the United States, which should bear the greatest burden?