Electric vehicles can reduce the #Colorado’s emissions more than anything else #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

Leaf, Berthoud Pass Summit, August 21, 2017.

From Vox (David Roberts):

The Colorado legislature has had an extraordinarily productive year so far, passing a stunning array of climate and clean energy bills covering everything from clean electricity to utilities, energy efficiency, and a just transition. The list is really pretty amazing…

It got me thinking: Just how big a role are EVs going to play in decarbonization? How should policymakers be prioritizing them relative to, say, renewable energy? Obviously, every state and country is going to need to do both eventually — fully electrify transportation and fully decarbonize electricity — but it would still be helpful to better understand their relative impacts.

Nerds to the rescue!

A new bit of research commissioned by Community Energy (a renewable energy project developer) casts light on this question. It models the carbon and financial impacts of large-scale vehicle electrification in Colorado and comes to two main conclusions.

First, electrifying vehicles would reduce carbon more than completely decarbonizing the state electricity sector, pushing state emissions down 42 percent from 2018 levels by 2040 — not enough to hit the targets on its own, but a huge chunk. Second, electrifying vehicles saves consumers money by reducing the cost of transportation almost $600 a year on average.

Rapid electrification is a win-win for Colorado, a driver of decarbonization and a transfer of wealth from oil companies to consumers — but only if charging is managed intelligently.

EVs bring carbon and consumer benefits

First, the headline: Electrifying EVs…reduces emissions a lot.

In the EV-grid scenario, electricity sector emissions fall 46 percent — the number is lower because about a third of the additional electricity demand from EVs is satisfied by natural gas — but overall state emissions drop 42 percent, more than two and a half times as much, representing 37 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. That’s thanks to an 80 percent drop in transportation emissions…

As I said, that in itself is not enough to meet the state’s emissions target. The state will have to force some additional cleaning of the electricity sector (and deal with other sectors) to do that, as this year’s package of legislation reflects. (I asked Clack if Vibrant ran a scenario without any new natural gas. Yes, he said. “It was $1 billion per year more expensive [around 1¢/kWh, or 15.9 percent more] and decreased emissions by an additional 14.8 metric tons per year.”)

But the drop in transportation emissions in the EV-grid scenario is sufficient to reduce more overall emissions than the entire Colorado electricity sector produces. EVs are a vital piece of the decarbonization puzzle.

The effect of all the new EVs on electricity generation is pretty simple: There will be more of it…

As you can see, in the cleaner-grid scenario, lost coal generation is replaced by a mix of natural gas, wind, and solar. In the EV-grid scenario, it’s roughly the same mix, just a little more of each — the addition of EVs raises total electricity demand by about 20 percent.

Bonus result: “The increase in generation capacity increases employment in Colorado’s electricity sector by approximately 68 percent by 2040.”

[…]

And now, here are the fun parts.

Shifting from internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEV) to EVs would save Colorado consumers a whole boatload of money, for the simple reason that electricity is a cheaper fuel than gasoline. Here are the average savings for a Coloradan that switches from ICEV to EV between 2018 and 2040…

So the average Coloradan will save between $590 and $645 a year — nothing to sneeze at. “The total savings between 2018 and 2040 are estimated to be $16 billion,” Vibrant says, “which equates to a savings of almost $700 million per year.”

You might think, with all the new EV demand added to the grid, electricity rates would go up. In fact, relative to the cleaner-grid scenario, the EV-grid scenario has an extremely small impact on rates (0.7 percent difference at the extreme)…

EVs are a climate triple threat

What this modeling makes clear is that when it comes to clean energy policy, EVs are a triple threat for Colorado (and, obviously, for other states, though the impacts will vary with weather and electricity mix).

For the electricity sector, as long as their charging is properly managed, EVs can provide much-needed new tools to help manage the influx of renewable energy…

For the transportation sector, EVs can radically reduce carbon emissions and local pollution. (Yes, EVs reduce carbon emissions even in areas with lots of coal on the grid.)

And for consumers, EVs save money, not only because the fuel is cheaper (and getting cheaper all the time) but because EVs are much simpler machines, with fewer moving parts and much lower maintenance costs.

Especially in states with electricity sector emissions that are already low or falling, transportation is the next big place to look for emission reductions, and EVs are one of the few options that can reduce emissions at the necessary scale and speed. Colorado is right to encourage them.

2019 #COleg: SB19-181 — Protect Public Welfare Oil And Gas Operations #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

Here’s an in-depth report Mark Jaffe that’s running in The Colorado Sun. Click through and read the whole thing. Here’s an excerpt:

Colorado is quickly becoming a patchwork of oil and gas rules after a major law change — The #Colorado Sun: Boulder County wants to enact tougher regulations. Weld County wants to make it easier to drill. And the state is scrambling to keep up.

[Senate Bill 19-181: Protect Public Welfare Oil And Gas Operations] requires a host of new rules at the state level for things such as air emissions and assessing cumulative impacts of oil and gas projects, and at the same time local governments are moving ahead with their own rules…

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on July 31 adopted the first of these new rules, putting limits on the use of “forced pooling,” the ability of drillers to consolidate mineral rights even if the owners object. It did not come, however, without noisy demands from protesters to halt all permitting until the new rules are made.

On the local level, Boulder and Weld counties may be at the extremes. Boulder is looking to tighten already tough regulations while Weld is setting up its own oil and gas department to expedite permitting. But other counties and municipalities in the middle are also wrestling with the issue.

“Home rule is defined in law and case law,” said Kevin Bommer, executive director of the Colorado Municipal League. “Local control is an amorphous thing and wildly inconsistent.”

Until passage of the new law, the state, through the COGCC, held primacy in all key areas of oil and gas regulation, including siting.

The new law emphasizes that local government has the land use authority to regulate and site oil and gas locations to minimize adverse impacts to public safety, health, welfare and the environment.

Local governments also gain the ability to regulate impacts, including the ability to inspect facilities, issue fines for leaks, spills and emissions and impose fees to fund oversight.

It remains to be seen how these powers will be used, but the fact that two counties and six municipalities have enacted moratoriums on oil and gas permits while they review local controls has spawned worst-case-scenario fears among critics and the industry…

The COGCC is, however, at the beginning of developing new rules that could impact local decisionmaking, including a cumulative impact assessment, which could account for environmental impacts, and alternative site analysis, calling for operators to consider sites away from urban areas, for any drilling application…

Jeff Robbins, the COGGC executive director, said that the state working with local governments is the way to resolve these issues as they emerge.

“I want to be partners with local government,” Robbins said. “There are a lot of jurisdictions; we are all trying to make rulemakings.”

Robbins said he has met with Weld County staff and with Boulder County, as well with Adams County and other local governments.

Adams County is eyeing increased oil and gas facility setback limits #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

Drilling rig and production pad near Erie school via WaterDefense.org

From The Denver Post (John Aguilar):

County to consider 1,000-foot standard for all new oil and gas wells

Adams County could become the first community in Colorado to require a larger separation between new wells and occupied buildings than the state mandates, as leaders at both the state and local level wrestle with how to implement a historic oil and gas reform law passed this year.

The Denver Post got an early look at a draft of the county’s oil and gas regulations, which the commissioners will likely vote on at the end of the month. They call for a 1,000-foot buffer between wells and homes, schools and day care centers — doubling the distance the state presently requires.

The issue of well setbacks became the topic de jour during the 2018 election, when voters were asked to increase the distance between new wells and homes and schools to 2,500 feet statewide. The ballot issue, Proposition 112, was soundly defeated.

But after the passage of Senate Bill 181 in April, which ended state preemption over energy extraction matters and tasked state regulators with putting health and safety ahead of industry expansion, local governments now have the opportunity to increase setbacks on their own.

Adams County in March put a six-month moratorium on any new drilling so that it could rewrite its rules for the industry. There are hundreds of pending permits for wells in the county…

It’s likely communities that have taken an even firmer stance against oil and gas activity in the past, such as Boulder and Larimer counties, may put in place even larger setbacks than what Adams County is proposing…

Just two years ago, when the state did have total authority over setbacks, Thornton was successfully sued by oil and gas industry groups when the city attempted to enlarge setbacks by 250 feet over the state’s minimum.

The judge, in casting aside Thornton’s rules, found that municipalities “cannot authorize what state law forbids or forbid what state law allows.” That has all changed in the wake of SB 181 becoming law.

The state is just embarking on what is expected to be a months-long process to write rules to implement the new oil and gas law. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission held two days of public hearings last week, which were marked with repeated disruptions from fracking opponents in the audience.

Meanwhile, communities continue crafting or revamping their own rules.

“A fundamental obligation of local governments is to mitigate incompatible land uses,” Adams County Commissioner Steve O’Dorisio said. “Large-scale oil and gas facilities are often intense industrial uses, which can be incompatible with residential neighborhoods.”

But O’Dorisio said the 1,000-foot buffer being considered is not a “hardline” threshold, as there is language in the proposed rules that would allow oil and gas operators to apply on a case-by-case basis for a waiver to drill closer.

Matt Samelson, an attorney with Western Environmental Law Partners, said Adams County’s proposed setback shouldn’t come as a shock to many of the energy companies that operate in the congested and mineral-rich north suburban corridor.

Many communities, like Commerce City, Brighton and Broomfield, have already gotten drillers to agree to setbacks greater than 500 feet as part of voluntary operator agreements that the municipalities have hammered out with the industry over the past few years.

Analysts hit plan to dump oilfield pollutants into #WindRiver — WyoFile #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

Boysen Reservoir in 2009. By Charles Willgren from Fort Collins, Colorado, United States – Boysen ReservoirUploaded by PDTillman, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7063709

From WyoFile (Angus M. Thuermer Jr.):

In the first publicly released independent review of a 637-page modeling report and 113-page application for a “produced water” discharge permit, consultants hired by four conservation groups let loose on the science in Aethon studies describing methods and results as “misleading,” “very odd,” “questionable and unrealistic,” “surprising,” and “unwarranted and wrong,” among other things.

Aetheon and Burlington Resources seek permission from the BLM to expand the Moneta Divide oil and gas field by 4,250 wells and need a DEQ permit to discharge up to 2,161 tons a month of total dissolved solids at a rate of 8.27 million gallons a day. The effluent from oil and gas wells would flow through Alkali and Badwater creeks, into Boysen Reservoir in Boysen State Park and into the federally protected Class I flows of the Wind River — the source of Thermopolis’ drinking water.

“The draft permit violates the Clean Water Act, the Wyoming Environmental Quality Act, and the Department [of Environmental Quality’s] rules and regulations implementing those laws,” the Wyoming Outdoor Council, Powder River Basin Resource Council, National Audubon Society and Natural Resource Defense Council wrote the DEQ. “The discharge of produced water from this facility has damaged and continues to damage surface waters of the state and threatens downstream communities with undisclosed health risks,” reads the groups’ cover letter, signed by representatives in Lander, Sheridan, Washington, D.C. and Livermore, Colorado.

They urged the state regulatory agency to encourage the Texas-based energy company “to consider other, less environmental damaging alternatives to the discharge.” In the meantime, “the permit should be denied,” the letter reads.

Yet in the arid West, new water can be valuable, if it is properly treated. “Water resources in the West are a topic of great importance and these issues are currently being studie[d] by a multitude of governmental agencies and research institutes,” wrote Peter Jones, a consulting geochemist from Houston, Texas. He reviewed the Aethon proposal and made the seven-page review available to WyoFile.

“As planned, the Moneta Divide development will be on the forefront of technology and may well be a model for how produced water may be converted into a valuable resource,” he wrote.

Wyoming rivers map via Geology.com

Boulder County Commissioners enact emergency moratorium on new oil and gas development applications and seismic testing #ActOnClimate

Boulder. By Gtj82 at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Patriot8790., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11297782

Here’s the release from Boulder County:

Unless modified at a future public hearing, the moratorium shall remain in effect until March 27, 2020. A public hearing to accept public testimony and take formal action on the temporary moratorium is scheduled for Tuesday, July 16 at 4 p.m.

At a public meeting today (watch 7-min video), the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved Resolution 2019-59 enacting an Emergency Temporary Moratorium on the accepting and processing of new oil and gas development applications and seismic testing in unincorporated Boulder County. Unless modified at a future public hearing, the moratorium will remain in effect until March 27, 2020.

The county commissioners approved the temporary moratorium in order to give staff time to pursue changes to the county’s existing oil and gas regulations in light of SB19-181 and to address public health and safety issues related to oil and gas development operations as authorized by the BOCC on June 4 so that any new applications to drill could be reviewed under the most protective, updated regulations.

  • It’s our duty and responsibility as county commissioners to do everything we can to fully safeguard the environment and people of Boulder County. To that end, it’s critical that we impose an emergency moratorium today to ensure that our regulations are as strong as they can be under the new law and that any industry proposals to drill or frack here are reviewed under these updated protections. – Board of County Commissioners Chair Elise Jones
  • SB 181 gives us an opportunity to regulate oil and gas activity in Boulder County in the way that we feel protects the public’s health and safety and safeguards the welfare of the environment for the people who live here. It also allows us to respond to the consistent and vocal concerns of residents who want us to put these essential protections in place. – Board of County Commissioners Vice-Chair Deb Gardner
  • It’s critical that we protect Boulder County residents to the full extent of the law. This moratorium will give us the needed time to create the strongest rules we can after the change in state law that prioritizes protection over profit. – Boulder County Commissioner Matt Jones.
  • July 16 Public Hearing
    The commissioners will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, July 16 at 4 p.m. to accept public testimony and to make any changes to the temporary moratorium that may be necessary. At the public hearing, staff will provide more information about the time needed to complete the requested research into public health and safety protections allowable under SB19-181 and to develop the proposed regulations.

    Based on that information and public testimony, the BOCC will then determine whether to extend, terminate, or further amend the temporary moratorium.

  • What: Board of County Commissioners’ Public Hearing to take testimony on the merits of the temporary moratorium on oil and gas development applications and seismic testing in unincorporated Boulder County and to determine whether the moratorium should be extended, terminated, or further amended.
  • When: Tuesday, July 16 at 4 p.m.
  • Where: Boulder County Courthouse, 1325 Pearl St., Third Floor, Boulder
  • Webstream: Open Meeting Portal
  • Public Testimony
    Online Sign-up for Speaking Times at the Public Hearing: On Tuesday, July 2 at 10 a.m., the online sign-up forms for Individual Speakers and Pooled-Time Speakers will become available at http://www.boco.org/OilGas. All sign-ups will be placed in order based on the time they are received. Those wishing to sign up for pooled time will need to include the names and addresses for anyone donating time to the pool.

    In-Person Speaker Sign-ups: Members of the public will be able to speak at the hearing whether or not they have signed up online in advance of the hearing. In-person speaker sign-ups will be taken beginning one-hour in advance of the hearing start time and will include individual speakers and pooled-time speakers. Anyone who signs up in-person at the time of the hearing will be placed in the queue following the online signups. The county commissioners will continue to take public testimony until all speakers have had an opportunity to comment.

    Written comments may be submitted to oilgascomment@bouldercounty.org or mailed to the Boulder County Commissioners’ Office, P.O. Box 471, Boulder, CO 80306. Comments must be received by 8 a.m. on Monday, July 15 in order to be considered by the Board of County Commissioners prior to the July 16 public hearing.

    Background

    On April 11, 2017, the Board of County Commissioners adopted a resolution enacting the strongest set of regulations on oil and gas development in the State of Colorado. Since that date, no applications have been filed with the Boulder County Land Use Department to seek a permit for oil and gas development. Recently, however, an oil and gas operator indicated an interest in applying for a drilling permit with Boulder County.

    On June 4, 2019, the commissioners authorized Boulder County staff to work on Docket DC-19-0002 Amendments to Article 12 of the Land Use Code which addresses oil and gas development in unincorporated Boulder County. The June 4 meeting was held to consider an update to the county’s oil and gas regulations following the passage of SB19-181 which prioritizes the local protection of public safety, health, welfare, and the environment in the regulation of the oil and gas industry and grants additional authority to local governments to regulate oil and gas development.

    Staff intends to work on changes to the current set of oil and gas regulations as time and resources allow. It is anticipated that the Article 12 revisions will require significant staff time from multiple departments.

    2019 #COleg: Colorado lawmakers approve a bevy of energy bills — The Denver Post #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

    Coyote Gulch’s Leaf charging at campsite near Steamboat Springs August 21, 2017.

    From The Denver Post (Judith Kohler):

    “If I had to sum it up in a word, I think I’d say ‘transformative.’ It’s a real shift in our policy, and I think it really shows the direction that Colorado is headed,” said Erin Overturf, chief energy counsel for the conservation group Western Resource Advocates. “I think it shows that we’re starting to take climate change seriously and recognize the task that’s truly ahead of us if we’re going to do our part to help solve this problem.”

    The bills include efforts to make houses and appliances — from refrigerators, to light bulbs to air conditioners and furnaces — more energy-efficient…

    Lawmakers extended state tax credits for buying electric vehicles and allowed regulated electric utilities to own and operate vehicle charging stations to try to encourage people to buy and drive zero-emission vehicles.

    One of the things that sets Colorado apart from other states working to boost the use of renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions is its efforts to look out for affected workers and communities, said Anna McDevitt, an organizer with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.

    The bill reauthorizing the PUC has a provision requiring utilities to include a workforce transition plan when they propose shutting down a power plant. Another section on low-cost bonds to retire power plants for cleaner, cheaper alternatives also provides that a portion of the proceeds helps workers and communities affected by the closures…

    Referring to the PUC bill and its carbon-reduction targets, Xcel Energy said in a statement Friday that the legislation was “heavily negotiated with a broad set of stakeholders” and protects safety reliability and customer costs…

    One bill expands the size of community solar gardens, which are centralized arrays of solar panels that users “subscribe” to. They are intended for people who want to use solar power but whose roofs aren’t suitable, who live in an apartment or can’t afford to install a system.

    Other legislation directs the PUC to study regional transmission organizations that would make it easier for utilities or municipalities to buy wholesale power. Another section requires regulators to take on planning to help facilitate rooftop solar and other distributed-energy installations.

    The PUC also will have to look into so-called “performance-based ratemaking.” That would allow utilities to earn a certain rate of return on things such as increasing energy efficiency or installing a certain amount of rooftop solar rather than just on construction of plants or other infrastructure.

    2019 #COleg: Colorado oil and gas director issues final objective criteria for [SB19-181] — #Colorado Department of Natural Resources

    Drilling rig and production pad near Erie school via WaterDefense.org

    From the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (Chris Arend):

    Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) Director Jeff Robbins released Final Objective Criteria today to ensure pending oil and gas permits and applications are in compliance with Colorado’s new oil and gas law, SB 19-181.

    “The finalization of the criteria is an important first step in implementing the new law and incorporating it’s public health, safety, welfare, environmental, and wildlife considerations,” said Director Jeff Robbins. “We appreciate the 340 public comments we received and believe the objective criteria satisfies the Colorado Legislature’s intent.”

    The Final Objective Criteria (Criteria) released include provisions that the Director of the COGCC may conduct additional analysis and review on proposed oil and gas locations, which are within 1,500 feet of a residence, are within a municipality, 1,500 feet of a municipality or platted subdivision, areas identified as “sensitive wildlife habitat” by the Colorado Department of Wildlife, or in a floodplain or water supply areas, among others.

    Guidance was also issued today to outline the process an applicant can expect from the COGCC to ensure a permit complies with the new law’s requirements.

    The criteria was informed by a wide variety of comments received by the Commission from the public, local governments, the industry and other interested parties.

    While the Director and staff determined that the draft criteria captured most public and stakeholder comments and upheld the intent of SB 19-181, the Director added Objective Criteria No. 16, which involves additional Director Review on specific wells when an operator is subject to individual or blanket financial assurance requirements in addition to a few other small edits.

    The criteria will remain in place for the COGCC until final rules outlined in SB 19-181 are adopted.

    Final Objective Criteria: here
    Final Objective Criteria Guidance: here
    Objective Criteria Public Comments: here

    Wattenberg Oil and Gas Field via Free Range Longmont

    From The Associated Press via Colorado Public Radio:

    Environmentalists and community activists asked Colorado regulators on Wednesday to stop issuing new oil and gas drilling permits until they rewrite the rules under a new law that makes public safety and the environment the state’s top priorities.

    Just a month after the law took effect, some activists told the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission it should be further along in revising the regulations…

    The session was one of the oil and gas commission’s early steps toward implementing the new law, which mandated a major change in the agency’s focus from encouraging production to protecting the public, the environment and wildlife.

    The law reflects increasing fears about public safety as the booming Wattenberg oil and gas field overlaps with fast-growing communities north and east of Denver. In addition to the emphasis on safety, it gives local governments new powers over the location of drilling and changes the makeup of the commission to add expertise on safety and the environment.

    Commission Director Jeff Robbins called Wednesday’s meeting to hear public comment on the first set of changes, which deal mostly with administrative procedures, not drilling. The commission is expected to take up more substantive rules later this year.

    Activists called for faster and more sweeping action, saying that oil and gas drilling pollutes the air and water, worsens climate change and puts residents at risk from fires and explosions…

    The commission’s first formal hearing since the law was passed is Monday, but it was not yet clear whether members would start the rulemaking process.