2019 #COleg (SB19-181): Ten Things You Should Know About #Colorado’s Oil and Gas Industry — @ConservationColorado #KeepItInTheGround

Directional drilling from one well site via the National Science Foundation

From Conservation Colorado (Audrey Wheeler):

Here in Colorado, the oil and gas industry has had too much influence for too long while our communities and environment suffer.

Over the last decade, communities across the state have found themselves with no power to stand up to the industry when drilling comes to their neighborhoods. The very agency that is supposed to regulate the industry also has a dual mission to “foster” industry growth. And hundreds of oil and other toxic spills related to drilling occur in Colorado every year.

At the same time, the oil and gas industry has cut corners when it comes to Coloradans’ health and safety. They’ve built industrial operations in residential neighborhoods, ignoring community complaints even during the most egregious examples, such as in Battlement Mesa, with a pad 350 feet from homes. Companies have spent tens of millions on public campaigns and elections. As a result, nearly every commonsense policy to keep the industry in check has failed.

But with new leadership in the governor’s office and the state legislature, we have the chance to make a change.

A bill announced [February 28, 2019] by Governor Polis, Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, and House Speaker KC Becker would protect public health and safety, give more power to local governments, and enact new protections for our environment. We’re overdue for reforms like this to our state laws.
Here are 10 reasons why these reforms are urgent for Colorado:

Oil and gas operations pose a threat to our health and safety.

1. Our state has had at least 116 fires and explosions at oil and gas operations from 2006 to 2015.

2. After the deadly explosion in Firestone that killed two people, former employees of Anadarko accused the company of sacrificing safety to boost profits. In court documents, they claimed company culture was cavalier with regard to public safety and oversight.

3. Coloradans who live close to oil and gas operations face health risks including cancer, birth defects, and asthma.

Colorado’s current oil and gas regulations are too weak to protect our communities, workers, and environment.

4. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has a nearly uninterrupted, 68-year history of failing to deny permits for oil and gas companies to drill—regardless of the risks that wells pose to health, safety, and the environment.

5. Fifty-one oil and gas workers were killed on the job in Colorado between 2003 and 2014. Several more have been killed since then.

The industry has blocked commonsense reforms time and time again.

6. Oil and gas companies have a successful history of defeating regulations: only four of twenty-five bills that would have protected health and safety were passed by the state legislature since 2013.

7. In 2018 alone, the oil and gas industry opposed six bills aimed at increasing protections for communities and the environment, including those to put oil and gas rigs further away from school playgrounds, improve accident reporting, and facilitate mapping of underground pipelines that run near homes—a direct response to the tragedy in Firestone.

And they spend millions to influence the public and legislators at every step of the political process.

8. Oil and gas companies invest heavily in defeating citizen efforts to improve our state laws or implementing those that help their bottom line. In 2018, they spent $37.3 million to defeat Proposition 112, a ballot initiative for larger setbacks for oil and gas development, and advance Amendment 74, an effort to guarantee company profits in the state constitution.

9. The industry donates big money to elections, both traceable and dark money. In the 2018 election cycle, oil and gas interests gave close to $1 million to just one electoral committee, the Senate Majority Fund (known as the “campaign arm for Republican senators” in Colorado).

10. Oil and gas interests paid at least $200,000 on lobbying to sway decision-makers at the Capitol in 2018.

This story isn’t about one irresponsible company, but about a well-funded campaign to maximize profits over public safety and stop at nothing to get there. It’s past time we adopted common-sense rules that make the industry a better actor in Colorado — and we need to seize that chance.

ACT NOW: Tell your legislators to protect our neighborhoods and put health and safety first! >>

Earthquake reported at the Paradox Valley Salinity Control Facility — @USBR

Here’s the release from the Bureau of Reclamation (Marlon Duke):

The U.S. Geological Survey reported that an earthquake occurred at 10:22 a.m. MST, on Monday, March 4, 2019, near Reclamation’s Paradox Valley Salinity Control Facility near Bedrock, Colorado. Reclamation maintains a comprehensive network of seismic monitoring instruments in the area, which indicated a preliminary magnitude 4.1 for this earthquake. The quake was felt by employees at the Reclamation facility and residents in surrounding areas.

The Paradox Valley Salinity Control Facility injects highly pressurized, concentrated salt water (brine) into a 16,000-foot-deep well, preventing the brine from entering the Dolores River. The well was not operating at the time of the earthquake due to routine maintenance. Operations will not resume until Reclamation completes a thorough assessment of the situation.

High-pressure brine injection has been known to trigger small earthquakes in the past, and today’s event was within the range of previously induced earthquakes. Reclamation’s seismic network in the area monitors the location, magnitude and frequency around the Paradox Valley Salinity Control Facility. Reclamation will continue using that network to monitor earthquakes in the area.

The Paradox Valley Salinity Control Facility substantially benefits downstream water quality in the Colorado River Basin, and helps the United States meet treaty obligations with Mexico for allowable salinity levels in the river. Historically, the Dolores River picked up an estimated 205,000 tons of salt annually as it passed through the Paradox Valley. Since the mid-1990s much of this salt has been collected by the Paradox Valley Salinity Control Unit in shallow wells along the Dolores River and then injected into deep subsurface geologic formations. The deep well injection program removes about 95,000 tons of salt annually from the Dolores and Colorado rivers.

Judge denies @EPA motion to dismiss #GoldKingMine spill lawsuit — The Farmington Daily Times #AnimasRiver

San Juan River Basin. Graphic credit Wikipedia.

From The Farmington Daily Times (Noel Lyn Smith):

A federal judge has denied a motion to dismiss claims brought by state, federal and local governments and private entities related to damages caused by the Gold King Mine spill.

U.S. District Court Judge William P. Johnson denied the motion on Feb. 28 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, its contractors and mining companies…

New Mexico, Navajo Nation and Utah, along with residents in Aztec and on the Navajo Nation, have filed lawsuits for environmental damages and tort claims against the federal agency and its contractors and mining companies since May 2016.

The defendants requested that the court dismiss claims, arguing sovereign immunity barred the litigation.

The two states and the tribe are seeking to recover the costs of their responses to the spill under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.

New Mexico officials commended the latest court decision.

James Kenney, secretary for the environment department, said the state will continue to hold the defendants responsible for the environmental and economic harms caused by the spill.

Among damages the state is seeking on its behalf and for agricultural and recreational operations is more than $130 million in lost income, taxes, fees and revenues…

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said the tribe is pleased with the judge’s decision.

How George H.W. Bush’s EPA administrator saved the #SouthPlatte — The #Colorado Springs Gazette

William Reilly watches as President George H.W. Bush signs the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. By Carol T. Powers, photographer, The White House – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Archive, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57646185

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Paul Klee):

Thank you, William K. Reilly.

Thank you for saving our river from drowning.

Reilly, now 79, is the former Environmental Protection Agency administrator who vetoed the Two Forks project that in 1990 sought to dam the South Platte upstream from the one stop sign in the mountain town of Deckers.

“It was all systems go,” Reilly said last week, and the 20 miles of irreplaceable trout habitat where hundreds of kids like me learned to fly fish would be nothing more than a sad bedtime story.

This fragile, world-class trout fishery would have been flooded below the 615-foot Two Forks dam, a structure roughly the size of Hoover Dam. Twenty-five miles southwest of Denver and 42 miles northwest from Colorado Springs, six towns and a priceless outdoor recreation area would have been washed away.

So thank you.

“How’s the river doing, anyway?” Reilly asked before his keynote speech for Colorado Trout Unlimited’s annual River Stewardship Gala here Thursday.

Really well, considering. The Hayman fire was rough on everybody, and the trout populations are gradually returning. But here’s the real catch: At least this stretch of river still exists.

Thanks to Reilly.

As Reilly told it from his home in San Francisco, the Two Forks dam was “a foregone conclusion from every angle” when the late George H.W. Bush hired him as head of the EPA in 1989.

“You don’t bring the World Wildlife president into the EPA to just sit there. You want drive, action,” Reilly said. “I was determined in my authority to make him the environmental president.”

Damming the confluence of the north and south forks of the South Platte was long viewed as a solution to the water demands of the Denver suburbs that grew another neighborhood in the time you read this…

Reilly is not a fisherman. That’s the funny part. But he saw the water battles here in a different light. He observed a metro area that “had no real water metering at the time,” where the tradition of Western water waste ran wild, where sprinklers flipped on while it was raining…

One, “Nothing in our field is ever final. This could return, or something like it. There will be a future generation that believes the time is right and a project like this is worth it,” he said.

Two, “Lobbying, communication, data, analysis with details, honesty and integrity, it all works in our system. It really does. I know a lot of activists despair that it doesn’t, but it does.

“I don’t think we knew there were so many fishermen in the country. It seemed like half of them wrote to us,” Reilly said. “The government, they were a little bit taken aback. They had some negative blow-back, but then there was a cascade of positive mail from fishermen that came in.”

Proposals sought for inaugural Food-Water-Sustainability grant program — @ColoradoStateU

A center-pivot sprinkler near Wray, Colo. Photo/Allen Best

From Colorado State University:

The Colorado Water Center, the School of Global Environmental Sustainability and the Agricultural Experiment Station are announcing a request for proposals for 2019-20 for their first-ever Food-Water-Sustainability competitive grant program.

Jointly funded by the three complementary centers, the program seeks proposals from a broad range of disciplines that target a sustainability challenge at the food-water nexus currently faced by our community, region, country or world. Proposals should also help support the mission and goals of all partner entities through collaboration and creative scholarship.

Driven by a rising global population, rapid urbanization, changing diets and economic growth, demand for food and water resources is increasing around the world. Agriculture is the largest consumer of the world’s freshwater resources, and it is estimated that with a population of 8.3 billion people by 2030, we will need 40 percent more water and 35 percent more food. These resources already face mounting threats, including pollution, climate change impacts, the destruction and degradation of freshwater ecosystems and habitats, and agricultural intensification. Devising effective responses to these major challenges will require a systems-oriented, multidisciplinary approach to reshape the food-water nexus so that it works for all people sustainably. Yet many of the tools and approaches needed have yet to be developed or applied.

The Food-Water-Sustainability Research Team encourages any CSU faculty and staff with established research interests in food, water and sustainability, whose existing or planned research projects will be significantly enhanced by receiving the award, to apply. Applicants must demonstrate the ability and desire to address a relevant challenge through broad-based interdisciplinary research, education and engagement activities. Special consideration will be given to projects that include undergraduate and graduate students as well as post-doc researchers. Proposals are due April 1.

The awarded research team will have the opportunity to accelerate progress in a research area designed to meet global food, water and sustainability challenges, and to engage in the faculty, staff and practitioners of the Colorado Water Center, the School of Global Environmental Sustainability and the Agricultural Experiment Station.

The RFP is open to all CSU faculty and staff in good academic standing. For more information, visit http://watercenter.colostate.edu, http://sustainability.colostate.edu, and http://aes.agsci.colostate.edu.

#ColoradoRiver: #Drought Contingency planning effort creaks along #COriver #aridification #DCP

Las Vegas Lake Mead intake schematic, courtesy SNWA.

From The Nevada Independent (Daniel Rothberg):

The federal government initiated a comment period today for the seven states in the Colorado River Basin, after Arizona and California were unable to agree on a Southwest drought plan by a second “deadline” of March 4.

The Department of Interior is now giving the governors of the seven states, including Nevada, 15 days to offer recommendations on how federal water managers should proceed if the states can’t agree to a drought plan that they have been negotiating for years.

The expected Interior action sets a new target to complete the drought plan by March 19, a goal that many believe is achievable as Arizona and California come closer to resolving issues within their respective states that had prevented officials from signing onto the plan. The new deadline comes after water users missed a first deadline to finish the plan by Jan. 31.

“The states that share the Colorado River continue to work hard on finalizing negotiations of the Drought Contingency Plan, and Nevada’s representatives are confident that a final plan will be delivered to the United States Secretary of the Interior by the March 19 deadline,” Bronson Mack, a spokesman for the Southern Nevada Water Authority said in an emailed statement.

The water authority has said it is prepared for the drought plan, which would require the states to make voluntary cuts to its allocation, because of conservation and reusing indoor water.

John Entsminger, who leads the water authority, serves as the governor’s negotiator on Colorado River issues.

Like those before it, this newest deadline is seen as a soft target. Even if March 19 passes, the federal government would not take an immediate action until later in the year when decisions have to be made about how to operate Colorado River reservoirs going into 2020. The Bureau of Reclamation, an Interior Department agency, operates those dams and reservoirs.