April 7 Colorado Energy Cheat Sheet: Hickenlooper calls CDPHE refocusing away from CPP a ’shell game’, unloads on EPA ozone rule; ‘carbon tax’ defeated in Carbondale
Filed under: CDPHE, Environmental Protection Agency, Hydraulic Fracturing, Legal, Legislation, New Energy Economy, renewable energy
Less than two weeks after Gov. John Hickenlooper told Colorado Public Radio “we don’t care what the Supreme Court says about the Clean Power Plan”, calling for continued planning for the Environmental Protection Agency’s embattled rule currently under a stay issued by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Democrat initially appeared to be walking back his initial disregard for the country’s highest judicial body:
Gov. John Hickenlooper said he’s willing to temporarily halt state work on the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan if that would defuse an effort to strip funding from the agency developing the plan.
“I’m happy to have them stop working on it if that’s a problem, if that becomes a partisan issue,” Hickenlooper told a CPR reporter after a lunch hosted by the American Petroleum Institute.
But the easing on Hickenlooper’s view of the work being done by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment–dismissive of any SCOTUS intervention via a stay–was itself walked back, as he at first acknowledged that the state could work on its already existing regulatory mandates to achieve similar goals to the Clean Power Plan, but said that any such maneuver would be nothing more than a “shell game”:
“We’re doing the same work anyway,” said Hickenlooper. “I don’t think it would hurt our efforts if we were to reallocate some of that time in other directions. I mean, in the end, we’re going to get to the same place.”
Hickenlooper said state policy and laws, including the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act passed in 2010, already require Colorado to reduce carbon emissions from coal fired power plants.
“Our goals were very aggressive goals, and they are not the same, but they are very similar to what the Clean Power Plan wants,” he said at the gathering.
The governor clarified his comments Wednesday, dismissing the idea that suspending work on the Clean Power Plan would have much real world impact on the state’s clean air efforts.
“I look at the whole thing as ridiculous, to be perfectly blunt,” Hickenlooper told reporters at a regular press gathering. “It’s like a shell game of who’s doing which work. We’re working toward clean air, that’s what the state’s doing, that’s what people want us to do. We can get into … semantical battles over this thing, but it’s pretty straightforward.”
When it comes to Hickenlooper’s pronouncements on any number of issues, including this one, it’s usually never “pretty straightforward.”
Hickenlooper, just days ago, attempted to cast a non-partisan tenor to the debate over the Clean Power Plan:
Gov. John Hickenlooper also defended the new air quality rules at an event hosted by the Colorado Petroleum Institute.
“Clean air is too important to Colorado to become a partisan issue,” he said. “I am convinced as much as I ever have been that this is in the self-interest of the state.”
Jack Gerard, the head of the American Petroleum Institute, disagreed with Hickenlooper’s assessment.
“We look at the Clean Power Plan as it’s unnecessary to regulate as trying to pick favorite energy forums,” Gerard said.
Hickenlooper’s soft spot for the Clean Power Plan did not hold him back from being critical of the EPA’s ozone rule, which he said risked the “possibility that there will be penalties eventually that will come from lack of compliance.” He also blasted a Democrat bill that would allow for more lawsuits over damage caused by earthquakes that allege a connection to oil and gas development, as well as a ballot measure that would create a 2500 foot setback, saying that it would deprive mineral rights owners of their property–a taking that could cost billions.
Energy in Depth has more on Hickenlooper’s statement on the ballot initiative that would create 2500 foot setbacks:
Colorado’s Democratic governor, John Hickenlooper, is speaking out against an initiative backed by ‘ban-fracking’ activists to dramatically increase oil and gas setback distances in the state. The comments came at an event yesterday sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute (API) and Colorado Petroleum Council (CPC) featuring the governor and API President and CEO Jack Gerard.
When asked about the ballot initiative pushed by activists with strong ties to national ban fracking organizations, that would increase oil and gas setback distances to 2500 feet, Hickenlooper strongly denounced the effort. As reported by CBS Denver:
“That would be considered a taking, and I think the state would probably be judged responsible, and I think the cost could be in the many billions of dollars. I think that’s a risk that most Coloradans — if it was laid out for them in a sense they could clearly understand — would not support it.”
Hickenlooper’s assertion that the initiative could cost the state billions is backed up by a recent economic assessment from the Business Research Division at University of Colorado Leeds School of Business. Economists found that a 2,000 foot setback distance could cost the state up to $11 billion in lost GDP a year and 62,000 jobs. The 2,000 foot setback economists looked at is more modest than the 2,500 foot distance that activists are attempting to put before state voters this year.
Those mineral rights are worth billions of dollars to Coloradans and fill the coffers of counties and other entities annually to the tune of millions in property and severance taxes.
A thinly disguised attempt to ban fracking under the ruse of “local control” failed in the Colorado House on Monday:
Activist groups have not been shy about the fact that they see “local control” as a de facto ban on fracking. On a recent call with supporters, Tricia Olson of Coloradans Resisting Extreme Energy Development (CREED), the group behind a series of ballot initiatives targeting energy development, even told the group that their “local control” measure is basically a “full-fledged” fracking ban:
“This version however has one significant difference, what we would call a floor, not a ceiling language. To lift its points, it authorizes local governments to pass regulations — prohibit, limit or impose moratoriums on oil and gas development. Of course the word prohibit means ban. This allows for a broad range of local government options within their jurisdictions from local actions to a full-fledged ban.” (23:14-23:44)
EID detailed the “local control” proponents’ misinformation campaign to push the measure. Two Democrats joined with Republicans to kill the bill on the floor of the Colorado House.
And former Gov. Bill Ritter–you know–of the “New Energy Economy” and a paragon of all things green (dubbed the “Greenest Governor”), rejected a national ban on fracking:
“If you passed a national ban, this industry would go away and it would be harder for us to get to our place of transition on clean energy and climate.”
“I believe that with a good set of regulations, with good enforcement, with good compliance on the part of the industry, it [fracking for natural gas] can be a part of a clean energy future,” Ritter said.
Ritter and Hickenlooper, both Democrats, face opposition from their far-left counterparts when it comes to these types of calls for bans on responsible oil and gas development:
“We won’t transform the energy supplies of our nation overnight; there’s been rapid growth in solar and wind, but we’re a long way from saying we can walk away from hydrocarbons and not do significant damage to our economy,” Hickenlooper said.
“The number of people in Colorado who want to ban hydrocarbons is probably a small minority,” he said.
Gerard said the oil and gas sector will continue to play a significant role going forward, even through energy efficiency efforts focused on the automotive sector.
“When you look to make cars more energy efficient, you make them lighter with plastics brought to you by petroleum, you make the windows more efficient [with films] brought to you by petroleum, the gadgets you play with in your hand every day also come from petroleum,” he said.
As we can see, it’s not just about fracking, or burning oil and gas for electricity, as API’s president pointed out.
Hickenlooper continues to express deep concern about the EPA’s ozone rule, reducing the target for acceptable ground level ozone from 75 ppb to 70 ppb, saying a suspension of the rule “would be a great idea”:
Transcript of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s comments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s ozone rule delivered to the Colorado Petroleum Council and the American Petroleum Institute on March 31, 2016 via the Center for Regulatory Solutions:
So I think it would be a great idea if they suspended the standard. I mean, just with the background [ozone], if you’re not going to be able to conform to a standard like this, you are leaving the risk or the possibility that there will be penalties of one sort or another that come from your lack of compliance. Obviously, no different than any business, states want to have as much predictability as possible, and I think if they suspend the standards, it’s not going to slow us down from continuing to try and make our air cleaner. …
You know, we’re a mile high. Air quality issues affect us more directly than they do at lower elevations. So we’re going to keep pushing it, we’re not going to back off, we’re going to continue to improve the air quality in the state every year if I have anything to say about it, but at the same time, those standards, you know, to be punitive when you’re working as hard as you can … to get cleaner air as rapidly as you can, it seems like it’s not the most constructive stance.
A bi-partisan chorus of opposition to the ozone rule has emerged, and Independence Institute energy policy analyst Simon Lomax notes that the rhetoric surrounding the ozone rule, and in particular, its potential impact on public health, is filled with fearmongering from the “bad-air chorus.”
Lomax testified before CDPHE last month on the ozone rule:
The nature of the problem is clear. The EPA’s new ozone standard goes too far. It will throw large areas of the state into long-term violation of federal law. Violation will impose new restrictions on economic growth and jeopardize badly needed investments in transportation infrastructure.
And because the stringent new standard approaches background ozone levels, which state regulators are powerless to control, there will be little, if any, environmental benefit in return. For months, stakeholders from across government, across the political spectrum and across the economy have stated and restated the problem. But admiring the complexity of the problem won’t solve it.
Notably, the ozone rule would attack the “bridge” fuel, namely natural gas, that the earlier versions of the Clean Power Plan envisaged would get the nation from a fossil fuel fleet to one primarily composed of renewables. Between the attempts to ban fracking, the leap made by the final Clean Power Plan that pushes almost exclusively for renewables, and the ozone rule’s affect on oil and gas development (emissions are a key component to create ground level ozone), the stage has been set for an onslaught of anti-oil and gas regulation that would devastate Colorado’s economy.
Colorado faces geographical and topographical challenges with any ground-level ozone measurements due to elevated background ozone levels, as Hickenlooper pointed out. Anthropogenic emissions in other states and Mexico and as far away as Asia (China), wildfires, atmospheric intrusions, and our elevation combine to bring levels of background ozone to the state that can’t simply be regulated away.
From the “excellent news” category–carbon tax gets shot down in Carbondale, 61 to 39 percent:
For the so called “carbon tax,” 1,022 voters cast ballots against, while only 637 Carbondale residents voted in favor.
And with more than $3,000 in contributions, the committee supporting the carbon tax raised and spent more money than any single candidate for the board of trustees.
The climate action tax proposed to increase residents’ gas and electric bills in an attempt to promote clean energy projects and reduce energy usage in keeping with the town’s 2020 energy goals.
The climate tax would have been applied uniformly across town, with one set of rates for residents and another for business owners.
Supporters of the carbon tax had estimated that the average household’s utility bills would go up $5 to $7, and the average business would see a $10 to $30 increase.
This carbon/climate action tax would have just added more misery to Colorado’s already skyrocketing electricity rates.
February 18 Colorado Energy Cheat Sheet: Costly Clean Power Plan event video; EPA Animas River spill gets Congressional scrutiny; fracking ban off 2016 ballot
Filed under: CDPHE, Environmental Protection Agency, Hydraulic Fracturing, Legal, Legislation, regulations
The Independence Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute joined forces on February 16 in Denver to provide an update on the Environmental Protection Agency’s costly Clean Power Plan, including where the rule stands with regard to the U.S. Supreme Court stay issued earlier in February, as well as the impact of the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia on the ongoing legal proceedings.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan rules will slow the Colorado economy, raise electricity rates and barely make a dent in carbon dioxide emissions, opponents and experts on the plan told an audience at the Independence Institute on Tuesday.
“Clean power alone will add billions if not tens of billions of costs to individual consumers and the American economy,” said Gregory Conko, executive director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
Myron Ebell, CEI’s director of the Center for Energy and Enviroment released a state-by-state comparison showing Colorado’s 9.49 cents per kilowatt hour is lower than the national average of 10.11 cents. But he said California, which has extensive power plant regulation and has consumers paying 15.11 cents, is a warning for the rest of the country if the Clean Power Plan is instituted.
“This is about keeping the lights on for America’s economy, for Colorado’s economy,” he said, adding any additional costs for energy will take away consumer purchasing power for other goods.
Keeping the lights on and the cost of electricity–the energy that drives our economy.
What happens when costs of electricity go up? It hurts the average Coloradan; the ratepayers and taxpayers already pressured by an economy that has never fully recovered from the recession that have seen their electricity bills skyrocket 63 percent between 2001 and 2014, and Colorado overall, across all sectors from residential to commercial, industrial, and transportation, of 67 percent:
Those cost increases are being felt, not the least by folks in southern Colorado.
Regulations impact economies, and officials at a hearing in New Mexico on proposed Bureau of Land Management rules got an earful:
“The implementation of these proposed rules will kill revenue to state and federal government,” said Farmington Mayor Tommy Roberts. “And it will kill jobs at the local level.”
To find the source of Farmington and San Juan County, New Mexico, residents’ frustration, one doesn’t need to look far. Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report that showed the area ranked first in the nation in the rate of unemployment growth – from 5.2 percent in 2014 to 7.3 percent in 2015. Since 2009, the region has lost an estimated 6,000 jobs, mainly as a result of a declining oil and gas industry.
“I’ve seen the affects in my community,” said Bloomfield Mayor Scott Eckstein. “This will be a knock-out blow to an already-crippled community.”
In January, the BLM proposed an update to 30-year old regulations on methane and natural gas leaks on BLM and Native American lands. BLM officials estimate the tougher regulations would reduce emissions of the potent methane by about 169,00 tons per year, and decrease volatile organic compound releases by 410,000 tons per year. That reduction would be in keeping with an earlier Obama Administration goal of reducing methane emissions by 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2015.
In March of last year, I had the privilege of traveling to northwest Colorado to film AEA’s “Eye of the Storm” video which chronicled the threats radical environment activists were making against the communities of Craig and Meeker. Thankfully, with your help, we were able to convince the federal government that the Colowyo mine should stay open. Unfortunately, the mine and these communities are under threat yet again.
While in Craig and Meeker, Colorado, I was blown away by the people that I met. Every person knew just how important energy is to their community. From the mayor to the hotel concierge, every single person I spoke with had a personal story about how the energy their community produces and responsibly utilizes makes their lives better. And as many miners pointed out to me, their work provides affordable, reliable energy to the entire region.
Visiting the Colowyo mine was a surreal experience. At first, you drive up a winding dirt road through checkpoints, until you finally reach the mining area. Colowyo is a surface mine situated between the towns of Craig and Meeker. Cresting the ridge and looking down on the pit, you see these bright yellow trucks scurrying around with dirt and coal, but from that distance you can’t tell how massive they are. Realizing the immense scale of this project and the work these men and women do every day is profound—and in a way, beautiful.
One real surprise to me is that soon after stepping out of the truck at the mine, I noticed wildlife. You do not expect to visit a mine and see elk, antelope, deer, and even an owl, but I saw all four within the first hour of our time there. The staff pointed with pride to the areas that had been previously been mined, but were now restored and how well the land and wildlife were thriving
The literal ban on fracking is out, but 10 more state constitutional amendments remain, including a “right to a healthy environment”:
“We’re going to pull the one that’s the ban, not the other ones,” Dyke told the Denver Business Journal on Friday. “We’re down to 10, but we still have plenty to work with.”
But while a proposal to ban fracking statewide may be off the table, the other initiatives backed by CREED are just as bad, said Karen Crummy, a spokeswoman for Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy and Energy Independence, an issues committee formed by the industry in 2014 to oppose anti-fracking initiatives.
“They withdrew it (the fracking ban proposal) because they know the vast majority of Coloradans support responsible oil and natural gas development and are against banning an entire industry,” Crummy said via email.
“However, their remaining proposals are just as irresponsible and extreme because they would still effectively ban development,” she said.
The other amendments, calling for 4,000 foot setbacks away from “special concern” areas along with the healthy environment proposal remain de facto fracking bans, and in most cases, include all oil and gas development not just the controversial hydraulic fracturing method.
For example, proposal #67:
Section 1. Purposes and findings. THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF COLORADO FIND AND DECLARE:
(a) THAT OIL AND GAS DEVELOPMENT, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE USE OF HYDRAULIC FRACTURING, HAS DETRIMENTAL IMPACTS ON PUBLIC HEALTH, SAFETY, WELFARE, AND THE ENVIRONMENT;
(b) THAT SUCH IMPACTS ARE REDUCED BY LOCATING OIL AND GAS DEVELOPMENT FACILITIES AWAY FROM OCCUPIED STRUCTURES AND AREAS OF SPECIAL CONCERN; AND
(c) THAT TO PRESERVE PUBLIC HEALTH, SAFETY, WELFARE, AND THE ENVIRONMENT, THE PEOPLE DESIRE TO ESTABLISH A SETBACK REQUIRING ALL NEW OIL AND GAS DEVELOPMENT FACILITIES IN THE STATE OF COLORADO TO BE LOCATED AWAY FROM OCCUPIED STRUCTURES, INCLUDING HOMES, SCHOOLS AND HOSPITALS; AS WELL AS AREAS OF SPECIAL CONCERN.
Section 2. Definitions.
(a) FOR PURPOSES OF THIS ARTICLE, “OIL AND GAS DEVELOPMENT” MEANS EXPLORATION FOR AND DRILLING, PRODUCTION, AND PROCESSING OF OIL, GAS, OTHER GASEOUS AND LIQUID HYDROCARBONS, AND CARBON DIOXIDE, AS WELL AS THE TREATMENT AND DISPOSAL OF WASTE ASSOCIATED WITH SUCH EXPLORATION, DRILLING, PRODUCTION, AND PROCESSING. “OIL AND GAS DEVELOPMENT” INCLUDES, BUT IS NOT LIMITED TO, HYDRAULIC FRACTURING AND ASSOCIATED COMPONENTS.
Judge the activists by their words–they want bans or regulations so onerous as to yield the same results. This isn’t just about a fracking ban, although the most explicit amendment calling for a statewide ban has just been pulled. Make no mistake–this is about the wholesale removal of responsible natural resource extraction that gives Coloradans affordable and reliable energy.
Windsor High School junior Kamille Hocking worried a dozen oil wells on her family’s 132-acre Colorado homestead might sicken them. Then, Rebecca Johnson, an Anadarko Petroleum Corp. engineer, used a blender in her chemistry class to show the interaction of swirling frack sand, city water and friction reducer.
“We heard a lot of stories about how it could get into the water and pollute the land,” said Hocking, who is 16. “I’m going to tell my parents that fracking fluid only makes cracks in the rock the size of a hair that the sand gets into and holds open.”
Facing 10 possible ballot initiatives restricting fracking, Anadarko has deployed 160 landmen, geologists and engineers such as Johnson to Rotary clubs, high schools and mothers groups. They demonstrate how drilling works and try to convince people that the technique and the accompanying chemicals and geological effects don’t harm the environment or public health.
The wide-ranging outreach in Colorado, the nation’s seventh-biggest oil producer and sixth-largest gas provider, represents a policy shift. The energy industry that has been known for insisting on confidentiality from employees about fracking practices now allows geologists, landmen and colleagues in 40 Anadarko job categories to divulge details of what they do to their churches, neighbors and golfing buddies.
Johnson, who’s personal motto is “faith, family and fracking,” told students in Windsor that she’s supervised 1,000 fracks in the course of her 24-year career without harm to the environment.
“I live right here,” Johnson said when she visited the school 60 miles (97 kilometers) north of Denver this month. “My family is here. My mother-in-law graduated from your high school. She turns 80 this year. We would know if something’s wrong.”
Real facts from the folks who live and work in the communities in question.
More rulemaking on the way, regardless of which amendments make the 2016 ballot:
Fresh off some recent rulemaking, Colorado’s oil and gas regulatory agency is turning its attention to one of the most persistent complaints from people living near extraction operations: noise.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is in the process of gathering technical data from state health experts, industry officials and third party consultants regarding noise, its health impacts and mitigation measures, said Dave Kulmann, COGCC deputy director.
Since discussions are still in the early stages, no date is set for when formal rulemaking might start, although it will likely be some time late in 2016. Kulmann said the agency wants to gather the technical data before speculating on which specific aspects of the current regulations might be beefed up, but it is clear, he said, that noise is an issue.
In 2015, after implementing a new complaint process on Jan. 9 of that year, the COGCC received a total of 330 complaints on issues ranging from odors to traffic problems to property damage, according to a detailed complaint report compiled by COGCC. Of the total complaints, 123 were due to noise.
The Gold King Mine and Animas River spill–and the EPA–are still under scrutiny, even if the prominent news coverage has waned:
If a private company dumped three million gallons of toxic sludge into Colorado waterways, we’d be flooded with daily media updates for months. Yet the press has by now forgotten the disaster unleashed in August when EPA contractors punctured an abandoned mine. New evidence suggests the government isn’t coming clean about what happened.
EPA planned its disastrous investigation of the mine for years, not that you’d know: The agency assumed a layout of the area that contradicted public records, including the remarkable conclusion that a drain ran near the ceiling of the mine’s entrance. This led EPA to believe that water backed up only about half the tunnel. The agency didn’t test the water pressure, a precaution that would have prevented the gusher. EPA hasn’t explained this decision, and emails obtained by the committee show the on-site coordinator knew there was “some pressure.”
The crew made more bad decisions than characters in a horror movie. About a week before the blowout, the on-site coordinator went on vacation and left instructions that his replacement seems to have ditched. For example: Don’t dig toward the tunnel floor unless you have a pump handy. The crew pressed downward without a pump and intentionally unearthed the mine’s plug. “What exactly they expected to happen remains unclear,” the report concludes. The Interior Department now euphemistically calls this series of events an “excavation induced failure.”
EPA is so far suggesting that no one committed crimes, and maybe so. But consider: EPA cranked out a report three weeks after the disaster and said the Interior Department would conduct an independent review that the Army Corps of Engineers would sign off on. EPA testified to the committee that Interior would look for wrongdoing, though Interior said the department was only offering technical support.
January 27 Colorado Energy Cheat Sheet: COGCC rulemaking pleases no one; anti-fracking measures disastrous for Colorado economy; pushing back against Clean Power Plan
Filed under: CDPHE, Environmental Protection Agency, Hydraulic Fracturing, Legal, Legislation, regulations, renewable energy
Even small changes to oil and gas regulations can have deep and damaging effects on Colorado’s economy, according to researchers at the University of Colorado:
A statewide, 2,000-foot buffer zone between drilling rigs and homes, schools and businesses would take a hammer to Colorado’s oil and gas industry, already reeling from low commodity prices, as well as the state’s wider economy, according to a new study from University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business.
Such a setback requirement “could result in slower economic growth” for Colorado’s economy as well as state revenue, according to the study released Wednesday.
The study said its forecast on the effects of a 2,000-foot setback included:
Production of oil and gas statewide could drop between 25 percent and 50 percent;
A $6 billion to $11 billion drop in Colorado’s gross domestic product;
A loss of 33,000 and 62,000 jobs between 2015 and 2030;
Loss of $214 million to $428 million in per year in tax revenues from oil and gas companies.
Given that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission just concluded a round of rulemaking based on the Governor’s Oil and Gas Task Force recommendations from 2015, new and more onerous regulations like the setback examined by CU researchers or the more dangerous proposed fracking bans and various setback ballot measures could have catastrophic consequences on top of the recent commodity downturns impacting the state.
Anti-energy activists have intimated that even more proposals could be in the offing for 2016:
Larimer County resident Katherine Hall, who testified in favor of local control, said she would not be surprised if a citizen-initiated measure ended up on November’s ballot.
“The final outcome of the rule making does not go far enough to ease the concerns of Colorado citizens,” Hall said.
Remember when this blog said the Oil and Gas Task Force was merely kicking the can down the road?
We’ve made our way down that road, and the can is about ready to explode.
In the near term, the COGCC rules could go into effect in as few as 6 to 8 weeks, subject to review by the legislature and the Attorney General:
Compton said the months of rulemakings were “the most difficult” that he’s been through — a string that included the 2008 wholesale overhaul of Colorado’s oil and gas regulations.
The commissioners voted 5-4 to define “large” oil and gas facilities, the threshold that triggers the communication process between energy companies and local governments, as eight new wells and storage tanks that can hold up to 4,000 barrels of oil and natural gas liquids. The commissioners restricted the rule to large facilities in “urban” areas, defined as 22 buildings within 1,000 feet of the wellsite, rejecting request from some quarters to take the rule statewide.
But the rules appear to exceed the recommendations, and create ambiguities that will only incur more procedural red tape:
The process approved by the COGCC will triple, from 90 days to 270 days, the amount of time needed to get a hearing on a large project before the oil and gas commissioners, said Tracee Bentley, the executive director of the Colorado Petroleum Council, an arm of the American Petroleum Institute.
The final rules also said facilities should be “as far as possible” from existing buildings, a phrase Bentley called “vague and confusing” that would cost energy companies time and money to comply with.
The commissioners also rejected a request that existing surface-use agreements between energy companies and landowners be grandfathered, and allowed to avoid the notification and consultation process.
“We feel the industry brought reasonable solutions to the table that were largely ignored, and the rules still go beyond the recommendations of the task force,” said Dan Haley, president and CEO of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association.
Bringing reasonable solutions and constructive dialogue should be expected of the industry, but the same can’t be said for the forces calling for the end of natural resource development altogether:
Activists addressing a state oil and gas rulemaking hearing this week levied a barrage of accusations and insults toward state officials and even renewed calls to eliminate Colorado’s state agency responsible for regulating oil and gas development.
Speaking at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) hearing, Lauren Swain, representing national climate activist group 350.org, largely ignored the fact that the rulemaking was supposed to be the focus of the hearing and instead used her time to complain about the agency. From Swain’s testimony:
“With this new proposed rule, the COGCC has proven once again that it can no longer be considered a legitimate state agency because the COGCC continues to facilitate the pace of hazardous polluting oil and gas drilling and fracking operations near homes and schools subjecting communities to the risks of toxic emissions, spills and explosions.”
But Swain took her testimony even farther by lobbying for disbanding the agency in favor of creating a new agency that would “swiftly” transition the state to 100 percent renewables using the Solutions Project at Stanford as a guide. From Swain:
“The COGCC must be replaced with one or more agencies charged with one, facilitating to protect Coloradans from the harmful impact of oil and gas production and two, to aid and foster Colorado’s swift transition to one hundred percent renewable energy production and consumption using the Solutions Project developed at Stanford University as a guide.”
Up next was testimony from an activist who has previously accused the oil and gas industry of having a “personality disorder” and of being “socially deviant.” This time, Amanda Harper called oil and gas producers a “short sighted, selfish and sociopathic industry.”
Not a lot of balance or reasonable tone, it seems.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper offered his comments at an event that saw journalists kicked out and required an open records request to seek audio of the Democrat’s comments–and while he questioned the leverage of the anti-energy groups to get the proposed measures on the 2016 ballot, he surreptitiously argued that the COGCC rules discussed above had, in his opinion as well, gone further than his own Oil and Gas Task Force had recommended:
“I haven’t heard of any funding source for any of them,” Hickenlooper began. “Like the normal, large funders of those initiatives, you know, I haven’t heard of. So, maybe they’ll get on the ballot, but without a lot of money, I don’t think they’re going to do well. I can guarantee you there’ll be money spent showing that, the, the problems associated with any of those initiatives.” (Forum Q & A – 17:05)
Moments later, he added, “Again, we’re going further even than the commission recommended, and in certain cases, to try and give local, local municipal elected officials more, a greater role.”
We’ll see how that plays out.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan received a stay of its own last week when the DC circuit refused to grant a stay of the rule, forcing 26 states to appeal the case to the US Supreme Court.
Meanwhile at the Colorado legislature, Sen. John Cooke (R-Greeley) has championed measures designed to keep the implementation of the Clean Power Plan at arms’ length, allowing lawsuits to be completed before the state moves forward, something Coloradans clearly support:
Two weeks into the 2016 legislative session, Sen. John Cooke, a Republican from the heart of the Front Range oil and gas patch in Greeley, has introduced two bills that take aim at the plan, which requires power plants to cut carbon emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, largely by shutting down or converting coal-fired plants to alternative fuel sources.
One of Cooke’s bills couldn’t be more timely. After several state attorneys general, including Colorado’s Cynthia Coffman, failed to win a stay of the plan from a federal court Thursday, Cooke’s Senate Bill 46 jumps into the ring like a tag-team wrestler, working from another angle to stall implementation of the Obama administration plan.
“Well, it wasn’t really a surprise that the court in D.C. struck down the stay request,” Cooke told The Colorado Statesman. “Unfortunately, the bill is more relevant now.”
The “Preserve State Clean Power Plan Options Act” aims to “slow down the implementation process” in part by suspending it “until all [related] lawsuits are done,” Cooke told members of three rural Colorado advocacy groups, including some representing coal mining areas, who were visiting the Capitol Friday.
In effect, Colorado wouldn’t need a stay from a court because it would have passed a stay for itself, written by Cooke.
Cooke’s other bill, SB 61 or “Ratepayer Protection Act,” would require the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to pay for costs generated as a result of Clean Power Plan implementation.
Silverton punts on Superfund designation
January 13 Colorado Energy Cheat Sheet: Oil and gas drive Colorado’s economy, but outlook uncertain; Western Slope feels effects of regulation; WOTUS repeal?
Filed under: CDPHE, Environmental Protection Agency, Hydraulic Fracturing, preferred energy, renewable energy, solar energy
Oil and gas development contributes a rather large percentage to Colorado’s economic condition, and new numbers confirm its continued importance to the state:
A new economic report shows that oil and gas development contributed billions to Colorado’s economy in 2014 generating benefits that researchers conclude “impact every citizen in the state.”
Prepared by the Business Research Division of the Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado Boulder, for the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA), the report details how oil and gas development contributed $31.7 billion in total economic impact to Colorado’s economy in 2014, along with “supporting 102,700 jobs and $7.6 billion in compensation.” From the report:
“The oil and gas industry, along with nearly all extraction industries, inherently provides substantial economic benefits due to its integrated supply chain, high wage jobs, and propensity to sell nationally and globally. Much of Colorado’s oil and gas is sold outside of the state, contributing wealth to owners, employees, governments, and schools, all of which are beneficiaries of oil and gas revenues.” emphasis added
The state’s oil and gas development would be crippled if newly proposed ballot measures calling for a ban on hydraulic fracturing and other regulatory limits are passed in 2016.
Lower oil commodity prices–a drop from $90 per barrel in 2014 to roughly $30 per barrel in January 2016 means great prices at the pump, but not good news for Colorado’s oil and gas workers:
KUSA – Oil is in an all-out freefall, dropping from roughly $90 dollars a barrel at the end of 2014 to just more than $30 per barrel Tuesday.
It’s enough to make you wonder if the industry is starting to panic.
Colorado Oil and Gas Association president and CEO Dan Haley said when commodities drop, challenges emerge.
“You’ll see some restructuring, you’ll see some tightening of jobs,” Haley said, adding that in 2015, about 2,000 people lost their jobs due to falling oil prices.
The full fallout is not likely to be known when or if the price has hit bottom, or begins to rebound, in the short or long term. Rig numbers are down and students at Colorado School of Mines are worried about the future of the industry, according to the article.
A report on job creation tied to a “100% renewables” future is looking a little damaged, according to the folks at Energy in Depth:
A Stanford professor who claims a transition to 100 percent renewables would be a major job creator has scrubbed his website of data showing significant long-term job losses from such a plan, according to a new review by Energy In Depth. Online records show that the professor, Dr. Mark Jacobson, edited his documents just hours after an Energy In Depth report revealed how the transition to 100 percent renewables would cause a net loss of more than 1.2 million long-term jobs, based on data pulled directly from Dr. Jacobson’s website.
The decision to alter his own data could raise additional questions about Dr. Jacobson’s plan for a 100 percent renewables energy system, a plan that has already faced significant criticism from the scientific and environmental communities.
Even if the jobs were there, as Dr. Jacobson contended, not everyone on the left is on board the “100% renewables” bandwagon:
Earlier this week, Dr. Jacobson granted a separate interview to the left-wing blog Daily Kos, which gave him a forum to respond to Energy In Depth’s report. But Dr. Jacobson likely did not anticipate another Daily Kos blogger criticizing his 100 percent renewables plan as impractical. In a comment posted to the article including Dr. Jacobson’s interview, an environmental blogger said that “no electric utility is ever going to adopt Jacobson’s plan” because, among other things, the “wind power component of Jacobson’s plan cannot be relied upon for reliable electric power generation and supply.”
Two Colorado Republicans reacted to President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address and in particular the plight of Colorado’s Western Slope communities hit hard by the administration’s regulations:
U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., whose 3rd Congressional District trails the rest of the state in the economic recovery, said the president would do well to visit his district.
“I would invite him to visit Craig or Delta,” Tipton said in an interview. “They have lost good-paying jobs and are struggling right now.”
Both communities in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District have been hard-hit by coal-mine closures. Arch Coal, a major coal supplier and employer on the Western Slope, declared bankruptcy on Tuesday, before the speech.
“The president talked about significant government interference in the marketplace that will most likely imperil jobs on the West Slope of Colorado,” said U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.
Speaking of Arch Coal’s bankruptcy:
Arch Coal Inc.’s bankruptcy filing Monday signals that the coal industry’s shakeout is entering a crucial phase, which will result in more small, unlisted mining companies, record numbers of mines for sale and lower wages for workers.
Over a quarter of U.S. coal production is now in bankruptcy, trying to reorganize to cope with prices that have fallen 50% since 2011, battered by competition from natural gas and new environmental rules. Arch, the biggest domino to fall so far, is trying to trim $4.5 billion in debt from its balance sheet.
Competitors Walter Energy Inc., Alpha Natural Resources Inc., and Patriot Coal Corp. all filed for court protection last year.
But bankruptcies only spell death for current corporate structures, not necessarily the mines they operate. And the U.S. still gets 34% of its electricity from coal, according to the Energy Information Administration, and that number is still expected to be around 30% by 2030. “The question is, what is that 30% going to look like?” says Steve Nelson, chief operating officer at Longview Power LLC, a 700-megawatt coal-fired plant in northern West Virginia.
Market-driven changes are good–the transition from coal-heavy electricity to natural gas is not a problem, and beneficial to the environment–when done without government mandates. Onerous regulations designed to put coal out of commission, from fuel switching initiatives in Colorado to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, are not beneficial to the country’s economy and to the individuals and communities impacted by layoffs and dislocation, as well as skyrocketing residential electricity rates.
Should be an interesting event and will definitely address some of the impact to Colorado of recent commodity downturns in oil:
By: Vital for Colorado
Join us in discussing lifting the U.S. Oil Export Ban and what it means to Colorado. Our esteemed panel includes U.S. Representative Ed Perlmutter (D) CO and U.S. Representative Ken Buck (R) CO, Christopher Guith, U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, Geoff Houlton, Dir. of Commodity Fundamentals Anadarko Petroleum Corp., John R. Grizz Deal, CEO IX Power Clean Water, and Craig W. Van Kirk, Professor Emeritus Petroleum Engineering Colorado School of Mines. This is a free event but registration is encouraged.
Thursday, January 21, 2016 from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM (MST) – Add to Calendar
Colorado School of Mines Green Center – Bunker Auditorium – 924 16th Street Golden, CO 80401 – View Map
The Independence Institute is not affiliated with the event.
The EPA’s Waters of the United States rule is facing legislative repeal, subject to President Obama’s veto:
House lawmakers are poised to pass legislation repealing what is probably the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) most hotly contested regulation: an attempt to expand its authority over bodies of water across the country.
The House will vote Wednesday on a bill that would repeal the EPA’s so-called Clean Water Rule under the Congressional Review Act — a law that allows Congress to vote down executive branch regulations. EPA’s water rule has been heavily criticized by lawmakers who see it as a huge expansion of government power and could mean more regulations for private landowners.
“We want them to go back and do a new rule,” Ohio Republican Rep. Bob Gibbs told The Daily Caller New Foundation in an interview. Gibbs sent a letter to House leadership last year asking them to defund EPA’s water rule in the 2016 budget bill.
The Senate passed a bill repealing EPA’s water rule in November, sparking huge outcry from environmentalists who support more federal control over bodies of water. The House is likely to pass the repeal with bipartisan support, sending it to President Barack Obama.
January 6 Colorado Energy Cheat Sheet: fracking foes awaken; legislative session promises energy battles; EPA and Gold King Mine saga
Filed under: CDPHE, Environmental Protection Agency, Hydraulic Fracturing, Legislation, preferred energy, regulations, renewable energy
Let’s start with the obvious–the anti-fracking forces have reignited their campaign to ban hydraulic fracturing, and want to do away with property rights too, according to this Gazette editorial:
CREED, an umbrella of sorts for anti-energy activists, wants an outright ban on fracking with a proposal known as Initiative 62. In addition to banning all fracking, the measure would prevent compensation of mineral owners for financial losses incurred by the elimination of fracking.
The measure states, in part: “The prohibition of hydraulic fracturing is not a taking of private property and does not require the payment of compensation pursuant to sections 14 and 15 of Article II of the Colorado Constitution.”
In other words, they want eminent- domain-by-mob without due process or just compensation. The U.S. Constitution, thankfully, prohibits voters from taking private property or negating its value. Voters have no more authority to eliminate mineral rights than to end same-sex marriage. Federal law will prevail.
Initiative 63 would establish an “Environmental Bill of Rights,” suggesting local governments have all sorts of newfound authority to ban energy production on private property. Initiative 65 would impose 4,000-foot fracking setbacks from buildings and homes.
As the editorial correctly point out, these anti-energy measures will drive a wedge between leftwing activists and mainstream Democrats, just as they threatened to do in 2014, before Gov. John Hickenlooper threw his policy Hail Mary to halt any chance of a Dem split.
The Denver Business Journal has a quick rundown of the 11 proposed initiatives.
Which brings us to billionaire activist Tom Steyer. From our new energy policy analyst, Simon Lomax:
Steyer’s track record further suggests he won’t be limited to the presidential contest in Colorado or the effort to reelect Bennet, who served as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee two years ago. Before holding talks with Colorado’s anti-fracking groups about statewide ballot measures in 2014, Steyer called for a fracking ban in his home state of California, which could only be lifted on a county-by-county basis with a two-thirds popular vote. Steyer’s views are very close to those of anti-fracking groups in Colorado, who have proposed a mix of statewide and local bans for the 2016 ballot. Steyer and Rep. Polis – who championed the 2014 anti-fracking measures before they were pulled – are “kindred spirits,” according to a top adviser to the California billionaire. Steyer has a long history with ballot initiatives in California, and is already backing a 2016 measure in Washington state to impose a carbon tax.
Along with ballot measures, Steyer also has a history of throwing his money into state legislative races. In 2014, for example, he poured money into Washington and Oregon trying to win seats for Democrats. In some cases, NextGen Climate did not spend the money directly – it was given to environmental groups like Washington Conservation Voters and the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. NextGen Climate also gave generously to the national League of Conservation Voters for campaigning in Oregon, Washington and several other states, with the group’s president telling The Washington Post, “There’s not a day that goes by that someone on our team doesn’t talk to someone on the Steyer team.”
Which brings us back to Conservation Colorado. If swaying state legislative races is part of Steyer’s plan, he could not find a better partner than Conservation Colorado. The group spent more than $950,000 on Colorado elections in 2014, and appears to have hit the ground running in 2016. In a little-noticed move, Conservation Colorado gave $10,000 to Fairness for Colorado, a 527 political organization, in September 2015. According to state records, Fairness for Colorado – which focuses on economic issues and social welfare, not the environment – has already spent almost $11,000 with a Denver direct-mail firm.
Simon’s article has tons of links for all the relevant information, plus plenty more on Steyer and Democratic efforts in Colorado in 2015 and 2016.
The fracking battle will also continue in the legislature with liability for earthquakes laid at the feet of resource developers:
Democratic state Rep. Joe Salazar wants to hold drillers responsible for any earthquakes they trigger that cause property damage or physical injury.
Salazar says residents in his Adams County district are worried about a fracking group’s plans to place 20 oil and gas wells in neighborhoods there.
“These were people who were concerned for their children,” Salazar said. “They were concerned for their community. They were concerned about the environment. They’re concerned about their clean water and clean air.”
But state Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, says liability would be difficult to prove. He also says that Colorado already has strict environmental guidelines – and he cautions against targeting an industry that provides a great deal of revenue to the state.
“How much longer do you want to stand on the throat of the oil and gas industry to limit that amount of money that’s being generated by the state of Colorado?” Scott said.
But even Rep. Salazar doesn’t think an outright ban on fracking–as some on his side have demanded, will work, and responses to any proposed ban are also in the works:
State Rep. Joseph Salazar, D-Thornton says he doesn’t think increased oil and gas regulation should be handled with constitutional amendments. Nor does he think an outright ban on fracking will fly. But he believes that the Legislature can do more to protect residents from the impacts of drilling.
“An outright ban, that’s just not going to work,” Salazar told The Statesman. “I understand that mineral rights owners have property rights, and that’s a taking. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t be safe about it by studying the effects and implementing good safety measures to ensure that when people want to exercise their mineral rights that they’re not adversely affecting their neighbors.”
State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, said he’s ready to sponsor his own initiative similar to one he backed in 2014 that would prevent any local government that bans oil and gas production from receiving state tax revenues generated by the industry.
“I pushed pretty hard for us not to cave on that for fear that we’d be going down this same path in 2016 that we were in 2014,” Sonnenberg said, referring to the decision to pull two industry-backed ballot questions as part of the 2014 Hickenlooper-Polis compromise. “Rest assured, I will not be silent on this issue. Whatever I need to do, I will be out front.”
Other legislative efforts will be focused on the fallout of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Gold King Mine spill:
She [Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango] is also working on bills in the wake of the inactive Gold King Mine spill, in which an error by the Environmental Protection Agency caused an estimated 3 million gallons of mining sludge to pour into the Animas River on Aug. 5.
One proposal comes out of an interim water resources committee that has suggested a resolution that would encourage Congress to pass “good samaritan” legislation, which would reduce the liability associated with private entities conducting mine reclamation work.
Roberts would also like to address jurisdictional issues between states in the wake of Gold King. The incident impacted several states, including neighboring New Mexico. State agencies found it difficult to work with one another because of legal roadblocks. Roberts has proposed legislation that would eliminate some of those barriers through intergovernmental agreements.
“When minutes matter, you need a clearer pathway,” she said.
But deciding anything with regards to the EPA Gold King Mine spill might be difficult, as The Daily Caller explains:
A definitive explanation for what caused the Gold King Mine disaster may never be known if the Environmental Protection Agency is not investigated just as a private company responsible for the calamitous spill would be, according to a former enforcement agent.
The EPA accepted blame for the Aug. 5, 2015, leak that poisoned drinking water in three western states and the Navajo Nation with three million gallons of toxic mining waste, but no officials have been named as responsible or punished. Similar previous environmental disasters, however, were subjects of criminal investigations that led to severe public penalties for those responsible.
“You may not learn about it unless you engage in a criminal investigation,” Heritage Foundation senior legal research fellow and former EPA criminal enforcement special agent Paul Larkin told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
And the EPA isn’t done with mining either, with backing from the usual anti-energy suspects:
The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing toughening its requirements for measuring methane emissions from underground coal mines, a move that would result in some added expenses for testing and could bolster calls for regulating the emissions.
The agency recently unveiled a proposal it says will streamline — and improve the data quality of — its greenhouse gas reporting rule, which applies to a number of industries.
In the case of underground coal mines, it would no longer let them use data from quarterly Mine Safety and Health Administration reports for reporting the volumes of methane vented from mines.
Ted Zukoski, an attorney with the Earthjustice conservation group, praised the proposal as one that will provide better information on Colorado coal mines and address a major source of climate pollution.
“Methane is a greenhouse gas on steroids — it’s up to 80 times more potent than (carbon dioxide) as a heat-trapping gas over the short term. And coal mine methane is a big issue in Colorado because coal mines in the North Fork Valley are some of the gassiest in the U.S. It’s important for EPA — and the public — to have an accurate picture of this pollution, particularly after the climate accord in Paris, which put a major emphasis on transparency around climate pollution,” he said.
Another piece from Simon, this time on the Paris climate deal and our own Sen. Michael Bennet:
Of the 26 Senate Democrats who voted with Republicans in 2009 to put the brakes on cap-and-trade, nine are still serving.
Avoiding a debate over the Paris climate agreement and its impact on energy prices, jobs and the economy is a great deal for them—especially U.S. Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., who are running for re-election in November 2016. As things stand, they can just hunker down and let the EPA do its thing.
But it’s a lousy deal for the blue-collar and rural constituents who voted for these senators. Their concerns about the economy, energy prices, and jobs were front and center during the cap-and-trade debate, and they should be front and center again after the Paris climate agreement. Instead, these voters have been left in the cold while environmental groups toast themselves and whatever they think was achieved in Paris.
Finally, your poop may be keeping the lights on:
The wastewater treatment plant in Grand Junction, Colo., takes in 8 million gallons of raw sewage — what’s flushed down the toilet and sinks.
Processing this sewage produces a lot of methane, which the plant used to just burn off into the air.
The process was “not good for the environment and a waste of a wonderful resource,” says Dan Tonello, manager of the Persigo Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Now, using more infrastructure, the facility refines the methane further to produce natural gas chemically identical to what’s drilled from underground.
The biogas–a delicate term–is renewable.
December 30 Colorado Energy Cheat Sheet: the anti-fracking force awakens; EPA receives a lump of coal in its budgetary stocking; pot is not green
Filed under: CDPHE, Environmental Protection Agency, Hydraulic Fracturing, Legislation, regulations, renewable energy, solar energy, wind energy
As promised, the anti-energy, anti-fracking folks have delivered nearly a dozen ballot initiatives that focus on either banning hydraulic fracturing altogether or a host of other setback measures.
The group has cleverly dubbed themselves Coloradans Resisting Extreme Energy Development, or CREED, likely to inspire confusion among voters who might be only familiar with Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development, or CRED:
Each of the constitutional amendments would need signatures from 98,492 registered Colorado voters to get on November’s ballot.
A review-and-comment hearing on the language of the ballot questions is set for at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 5 in Room 109 at the Capitol.
“If the state will not adequately protect Coloradans and communities, then we, the people of Colorado, must do it, and that requires a change to Colorado law,” Tricia Olson, CREED’s executive director, said in a statement.
“Our beautiful state should not be overwhelmed by wells, pads and other industrial oil and gas operations plunked down next to neighborhoods and schools.”
As the Post points out, these measures would toss the efforts of Governor John Hickenlooper’s grand pragmatic strategy to develop and cultivate the blue ribbon commission that existed in 2014-15, narrowly averting a previous slate of anti-fracking measures brought forward in 2014 that Democrats feared would threaten the midterm election that cycle.
But the supporters of the 2014 measures felt that Hickenlooper’s attempts to find “balance”–his words–on fracking in Colorado did not go far enough, and felt betrayed when the measures were pulled. Continued efforts on this issue could once again upset a delicate situation for Democrats in the state split between development and anti-energy, more left-leaning Democrats.
The Independence Institute will be tracking these measures throughout the year in 2016, and will provide regular updates on ballot specifics, tracking ballot measure progress, and weighing in when and where appropriate.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Christmas stockings weren’t as full this year as they would have liked, instead getting a lump or two of coal, so to speak:
The EPA received $8.1 billion or $451 million less than Mr. Obama had demanded, and no increase from the year before. Congress has cut the EPA’s allowance by $2.1 billion, or 21%, since fiscal 2010. This has forced the EPA to cut more than 2,000 full-time employees over the same period, and its manpower is now at the lowest level since 1989 (see nearby chart).
Mr. Obama sought an additional $72.1 million to turbocharge his extralegal climate rule on power plants. That request included $8.3 million for the EPA’s science and technology groups, which do the phony modeling to justify regulations. It also included $68.3 million for the agency’s environmental programs and management department, which is where the minions draft and implement the President’s climate initiatives. Congress denied every penny.
Two thousand fewer EPA officials to harass the American public with onerous regulations? Sounds like a good start (from the WSJ):
There will be plenty of energy battles in 2016, from the Clean Power Plan’s effect on rising electricity costs to anti-fracking ballot measures and beyond. The Independence Institute has already revealed that residential electricity rates in Colorado have skyrocketed 63% between 2001 and 2014, before the CPP or other measures even kick in at the state level.
But this nugget, from July 2015, illustrates just how much the impact of rising electricity costs disproportionately targets those least able to afford it:
Average households pay 2 percent to 3 percent for energy, compared with low-income households, which often pay as much as 50 percent.
“That leaves very little for food, clothing, medicine,” said Pat Boland, Xcel’s manager of customer policy and assistance.
The next time someone advocates for higher energy costs through regulation or burdensome energy mandates, remind them who really takes a hit in the pocketbook.
Speaking of folks who like higher energy costs:
A coalition of environmental groups announced earlier this week its intent to take legal action against several federal agencies for extending operations at the Four Corners Power Plant and Navajo Mine just outside Farmington.
On Dec. 21, San Juan Citizen Alliance, among other regional and national conservation groups, filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the Office of Surface Mining, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others over a July decision to allow the plant to operate until 2041.
“While the rest of the world is transitioning to alternative forms of energy, the Four Corners Power Plant continues to burn coal and will do so for the next 25 years,” Colleen Cooley with Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment said in a news release. “Prolonging coal not only condemns our health and the water, air, and land around us, it undermines our community’s economic future because we are not investing and transitioning to clean energy.”
On the other hand, lawsuits to protect Coloradans from rogue agency actions, like the EPA spill in August, could be on tap in 2016:
DENVER – State legislation has been drafted in an effort to pressure the federal government into quickly settling damage claims stemming from the Gold King Mine spill.
Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, said he will carry the bill at the start of the legislative session, which begins next month.
The bill would allow the state to file lawsuits against the federal government on behalf of individuals financially impacted by the Gold King Mine spill.
“It’s authorizing the state of Colorado to sue the EPA in case they renege on their obligation,” Coram said.
He added, “The idea behind the bill is that it encourages them to settle this in a gentlemanly manner.”
It’s not every day that pot and energy end up jointly in the same article, but this revelation may be a real eye opener for a lot of folks, some who steadfastly approve of pot legalization but prefer more renewable forms of energy:
DENVER – Pot’s not green.
The $3.5 billion U.S. cannabis market is emerging as one of the nation’s most power-hungry industries, with the 24-hour demands of thousands of indoor growing sites taxing aging electricity grids and unraveling hard-earned gains in energy conservation.
Without design standards or efficient equipment, the facilities in the 23 states where marijuana is legal are responsible for greenhouse-gas emissions almost equal to those of every car, home and business in New Hampshire. While reams of regulations cover everything from tracking individual plants to package labeling to advertising, they lack requirements to reduce energy waste.
Some operations have blown out transformers, resulting in fires. Others rely on pollution-belching diesel generators to avoid hooking into the grid. And demand could intensify in 2017 if advocates succeed in legalizing the drug for recreational use in several states, including California and Nevada. State regulators are grappling with how to address the growth, said Pennsylvania Public Utility Commissioner Pam Witmer.
“We are at the edge of this,” Witmer said. “We are looking all across the country for examples and best practices.”
Light ‘em if you got ‘em. It’s legal here, ya know.
Looking into the future of Colorado’s oil boom, thanks to the end of the U.S. oil export ban–but only time will tell.
Colorado Energy Cheat Sheet, Christmas Edition: WY report finds fracking ‘unlikely’ in contamination at Pavillion; EPA spill report gives agency a pass; solar industry acknowledges reliance on tax credits
Filed under: CDPHE, Environmental Protection Agency, Hydraulic Fracturing, Legislation, New Energy Economy, preferred energy, renewable energy, solar energy, wind energy
Energy In Depth picks up on the state of Wyoming’s long-delayed and much-expected report on possible fracking-related contamination in Pavillion, Wyoming as alleged by activists and theorized by the Environmental Protection Agency:
The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has just released the results of its 30-month investigation into water contamination in Pavillion, Wyoming, and it has concluded that hydraulic fracturing is unlikely to have been the cause. As the report explains,
“Evidence suggests that upward gas seepage (or gas charging of shallow sands) was happening naturally before gas well development.
It is unlikely that hydraulic fracturing fluids have risen to shallower depths intercepted by water- supply wells. Evidence does not indicate that hydraulic fracturing fluids have risen to shallow depths intersected by water-supply wells. The likelihood that the hydraulic fracture well stimulation treatments (i.e. often less than 200 barrels) employed in the Pavillion Gas Field have led to fluids interacting with shallow groundwater (i.e. water-supply well depths) is negligible.” (emphasis added)
As the Casper-Star Tribune put it,
“Samples taken from 13 water wells in 2014 detected high levels of naturally occurring pollution. Test results showed little evidence of contaminants associated with oil and gas production.”
The cost to taxpayers was fairly large, with the state of Wyoming having to pick up from the EPA’s abandoned efforts to link fracking and contamination:
A 30-month state investigation costing more than $900,000 concludes fracking is unlikely to have contaminated drinking water east of Pavillion but leaves many other questions unresolved about the role natural gas operations may have played in polluting the water.
Samples taken from 13 water wells in 2014 detected high levels of naturally occurring pollution. Test results showed little evidence of contaminants associated with oil and gas production.
Those findings, released Friday as part of a report by the state Department of Environmental Quality, come almost four years to the day since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a draft report tentatively linking fracking to polluted water outside this tiny central Wyoming community.
EPA ultimately turned over its investigation to the state in 2013, fearing, as a Star-Tribune report later showed, that it could not defend its initial conclusion.
Not that these conclusions will dissuade anti-fracking activists, who will continue to cite Pavillion even after the determination the connection was “unlikely”:
The DEQ report left several key questions unresolved. While fracking was ruled out as a likely source of contamination, the DEQ report did not completely exonerate Encana Corp., the Canadian company that operates the Pavillion gas field.
Regulators said more research is needed to determine if gas wells have served as a pathway for contaminants reaching drinking water sources. And they noted additional examination is needed of disposal pits in the area, where drilling mud and cuttings have been stored for decades and could have leaked into the groundwater.
But in a sign of Pavillion’s complexity, they said the area’s unique geology might also be to blame. Pavillion’s gas bearing formations are shallow, permeable and relatively close to formations that produce drinking water.
After 30 months, there is some clarity, but Pavillion will remain a contentious narrative as anti-fractivists push forward across the country and in Colorado next year.
Current and former Colorado politicos chime in on the Paris climate change conference:
Former Colorado Sen. Timothy Wirth, known for organizing the 1988 Hansen hearing that helped propel the issue of climate change to national attention, said the Paris agreement marks a turning point in the international community’s commitment to fighting global warming.
“The fact that every country has agreed and nobody is denying the science means that this agreement has a very important science base, which did not occur before, with a real strong consensus around the science,” Wirth said.
Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, said the Paris agreement would have little realistic impact on limiting some of the world’s biggest polluters and was instead a distraction from more pressing foreign policy issues.
“Once again, the president is attempting to give away the barn by forcing Americans to shoulder the cost for a climate deal that does nothing tangible to limit the world’s biggest polluters like China, India and Mexico,” Tipton said. “The American people would be far better served by an administration that is focused on addressing the national security threats posed by ISIS instead of finding new ways to further punish responsible American energy producers and drive up energy costs on American families.”
Looks like the EPA is trying to skip out on responsibility for the poisonous Animas River spill it triggered in southwest Colorado back in August, according to The Daily Signal:
In their report, the EPA claims it was engaged in only “careful scraping and excavation” with a backhoe outside the mine. “Just prior to finishing, a team noticed a water spout a couple of feet high in the air near where they had been excavating.”
The report goes on to say that the spout (that they just happened to notice) quickly turned into a gusher of yellow toxic water.
It seems the EPA would have us believe the mine erupted on its own (which is like arguing, but, Your Honor, I was just carrying the gun when it went off all on its own!).
The EPA’s report goes on to allege that the mine entrance (or adit) was larger than they “anticipated,” and the “fact that the adit opening was about 2 times the assumed 8 to 10 foot maximum adit height resulted in a closer than anticipated proximity to the adit brow, and combined with the pressure of the water was enough to cause the spout and blowout.”
In other words, the mine did it!
Is it possible that the spill was caused by the EPA being careless? Nope. The authors claim they were digging “to better inform a planned consultation” scheduled for nine days later.
Essentially, the EPA claims that the spill was an act of God, rather than its own fault.
More reports are forthcoming, as well as hearings and other activities, including lawsuits. This spill won’t easily recede from the news any time soon:
DENVER – Congressional Republicans are questioning whether the Environmental Protection Agency interfered with a separate investigation into the Gold King Mine spill after an earlier internal review clashed with other accounts of the incident.
In a letter Friday to EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins Jr., U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, and U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, questioned the timing and substance of recent interviews conducted by EPA officials.
The separate report from the inspector general is not expected until early 2016.
“It was a very narrow focus, and it was incomplete, and there are obvious discrepancies …” Bishop told The Durango Herald at a congressional hearing last week at a mine in Idaho Springs, referencing the EPA’s Aug. 24 internal report. “It raises all sorts of questions about what’s taken place. That’s why we’ve got to start over.”
And La Plata County has tentatively agreed to EPA (taxpayer) funded remediation, which the agency still needs to approve:
A 10-year cooperative agreement in which the Environmental Protection Agency would provide $2.4 million for remedial efforts related to the Aug. 5 Gold King Mine spill received unanimous support from La Plata County Board commissioners on Tuesday.
The federal agency has assumed responsibility for a breach at the abandoned mine portal that sent 3 million gallons of mining wastewater into the Animas and San Juan rivers.
EPA officials have until Feb. 1 to approve, amend or reject the agreement, which includes eight tasks to ensure the future health and safety of the county’s residents and environment. Those include continued work with Wright Water Engineers, which has conducted for the county an analyses on the Animas River’s health, independent of the EPA.
Other initiatives include a real-time water-monitoring system to alert the county of changes in water quality, developing a response plan for future environmental incidents and hiring a contractor for community outreach – to explain pre- and post-spill data to the public.
Sometimes in the course of celebratory effusion, the proponents of renewable energy–in this case, solar advocates begging for an extension of the 30 percent investment tax credit–spill the beans on how much the industry is completely reliant on government subsidies in order not just to be competitive in their parlance, but actually remain “viable” at all (and in Slate, no less):
The solar investment tax credit—in which owners of solar-panel systems get a 30 percent tax credit—was always meant to be temporary and is set to expire next year. [emphasis added] The Republicans in Congress generally favor fossil fuels over renewables, generally oppose anything President Obama is for, and deny the need to deal with climate change. So as fall settled in, investors began to focus on the fact that by the end of 2016, the solar investment tax credit of 30 percent would fall to 10 percent for commercial systems and disappear entirely for home-based systems.
Another problem: Renewable energy is as much about financial engineering as it is about electrical engineering. For solar to work, investors had to believe that the structures rigged up to build solar would stand up over time… [emphasis added]
Next, Washington delivered—defying the conventional wisdom. Newly installed House Speaker Paul Ryan realized that he’d have to negotiate with congressional Democrats if he wanted to get a budget and tax deal before the end of the year. And as they came to the table, another miracle happened: The Democrats held fast. On Dec. 14, Democrats indicated they would be willing to support the Republican-backed effort to lift the ban on oil exports—but only if the Republicans would consent to measures including a multiyear extension of renewable energy credits. It worked. Last Friday, Congress voted to extend the 30 percent solar investment tax credit through 2019, and then to reduce it to 10 percent through 2022.
That move instantly made the U.S. solar industry viable for another six years. [emphasis added] Investors were elated. SolarCity’s stock popped as details of the budget agreement began to emerge and then soared on its announcement. By Friday, the stock was above $56, up about 117 percent from its November low. SunEdison’s stock closed on Friday at $6.51, up 127 percent in a month. The Guggenheim Solar ETF is up about 30 percent from Nov. 19 through last Friday.
God bless us, everyone.
It will cost us, everyone. Except for the solar companies, who are busy carving up the fatted Christmas goose.
November 25 Colorado Energy Cheat Sheet: CO residential rates skyrocket, could get worse; AG Coffman responds to Gov. Hickenlooper challenge over authority to challenge EPA
Filed under: CDPHE, Environmental Protection Agency, New Energy Economy, preferred energy, solar energy, wind energy
Check out the latest Independence Institute research on electricity rates in the state of Colorado:
The cost of electricity for Colorado residents skyrocketed 63 percent between 2001 and 2014, far outpacing median income in the state at just 24 percent over the same time period, according to Independence Institute analysis of electricity rates provided by the Energy Information Administration and census data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Retail residential electricity rates increased from 7.47 cents per kilowatthour in 2001 to 12.18 cents per kilowatthour by 2014, a 63.1 percent hike. Coloradans’ median income, however, went up just 24.1 percent, from $49,397 to $61,303. Median income in Colorado actually declined between 2008 and 2012.
“The saddest part of all is that it’s as yet uncertain whether any of Colorado’s rateshock would help stave off the worst of the Obama administration’s climate initiative, were that regulation to survive judicial review. That means that it could get much worse,” said William Yeatman, senior fellow of environmental policy and energy markets at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and author of the Independence Institute’s 2012 Cost Analysis of the New Energy Economy.
If you enjoy and support the important research and outreach work on issues ranging from hydraulic fracturing to the EPA’s Clean Power Plan that Amy Oliver Cooke and I do here on energy policy at the Energy Policy Center, please consider the following message from the Independence Institute’s Alexandra King:
Colorado’s Attorney General Cynthia Coffman responded to Governor John Hickenlooper’s legal filing over authority in the pushback against the Clean Power Plan:
Colorado’s Republican attorney general, Cynthia Coffman, filed a brief Friday in the state’s high court defending her authority — through case law — to challenge the Clean Power Plan in spite of the governor’s wishes.
“Even when the governor and the attorney general split along party lines, the attorney general has not only the authority but also the public duty to seek judicial review to protect the legal interests of Colorado,” the filing says.
Coffman cited a 2003 dispute in which the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that then-Attorney General Ken Salazar, a Democrat, had the power to file lawsuits independent of former Republican Gov. Bill Owens.
Coffman’s brief is in response to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper’s recent filing in the high court asking them intervene and declare he “has ultimate authority” on whether to sue the federal government.
According to the article, the dispute may take the Colorado Supreme Court months to decide, meaning resolution is unlikely before 2016.
Speaking of the Clean Power Plan, the Institute for Energy Research has the latest on the analysis of the rule’s costs to the nation’s ratepayers:
Energy Ventures Analysis (EVA) just released its analysis of the EPA’s “Clean Power Plan” (CPP), which mandates a 32 percent reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from the electric generating sector by 2030 from 2005 levels. While EPA claims the regulation will be virtually cost free, this study finds:
Consumers will pay an additional $214 billion by 2030;
45 states will see double digit increases in wholesale electricity costs; and
16 states will see a 25 percent or higher increase in wholesale electricity costs.
Further, 41,000 megawatts of perfectly good electric generating capacity will be forced to prematurely retire, costing the nation $64 billion to needlessly replace. While the costs of the regulation are high, the carbon dioxide reductions are almost non-existent. The regulation would reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by less than 1 percent and global temperatures by 0.02 degrees Celsius by 2100, according to EPA’s own models.[i] The CPP appears to be more of an excuse to fundamentally transform the nation’s electrical generating system from a reliable and affordable one to one that burdens Americans with costly and unreliable energy, consistent with President Obama’s promise to make “electricity prices necessarily skyrocket.”
Colorado’s rates will increase approximately 20 percent by 2030, easily the highest increase among its Rocky Mountain west neighbors, tied with Wyoming. Replacing capacity in Colorado will cost $3.3 billion or more.
The EPA’s disastrous Gold King mine spill on the Animas River continues to affect those downstream:
Three million gallons of contaminated water from the Gold King Mine poured into Colorado’s Animas River in August, laden with cadmium, lead and arsenic. The water eventually found its way into the San Juan River, the primary source of irrigation for Navajo Nation farmers.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency admitted that it accidentally caused the spill while trying to prevent leakage of toxic materials.
The spill was one of the biggest environmental disasters in the region and came in the middle of growing season for hay and alfalfa. Some communities reopened their gates to water from the river. Others, including one of the largest Navajo chapters (similar to a county), voted to keep their gates closed for at least a year to avoid contaminating the soil, despite reports from the EPA that the measures of chemicals had returned to pre-incident levels.
Navajo Nation Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates, a farmer, spoke to the Los Angeles Times about the effect of the spill on his life and the Navajo Nation.
What did you think when you first saw the river?
By the time it reached us, you know, it was quite diluted. We didn’t see the orange water; it was more yellow-brown.
My farm is 200 yards from the river, so I saw it coming right down toward us. No one knew the impact if we kept the water on. There could be any one of deadly metals in the water. We knew it was going to change things.
Results from a recent Quinnipiac poll on Colorado’s attitudes to climate change:
Thirty-four percent of Colorado voters surveyed say they’re very concerned about climate change, and 26 percent say they’re somewhat concerned, versus 23 percent who say they’re not concerned at all and 15 percent who say they’re “not so concerned.”
The Obama administration has made combating climate change a top priority, while many Republicans in Congress and elsewhere as have objected to climate-control steps as harmful to the economy, and some question whether climate change is caused by human activity or is just a natural phenomenon.
Meanwhile, 52 percent of surveyed voters say the U.S. should be doing more to address climate change.
Concern about climate change doesn’t necessarily translate into support for rules like the Clean Power Plan, as results from an August survey show.
October 29 Colorado Energy Cheat Sheet: Hickenlooper vs. Coffman over EPA lawsuit; EPA spill report short on info says New Mexico; Frack or Treat
Filed under: CDPHE, Environmental Protection Agency, Legal, Legislation, PUC, regulations, solar energy, wind energy
Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s decision to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to implement the Clean Power Plan has initiated a constitutional battle in the eyes of Governor John Hickenlooper:
Gov. John Hickenlooper said Monday he will seek the state Supreme Court’s opinion on the legality of Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s lawsuit to stop implementation of the Clean Power Plan.
“This notion of everyone suing all the time every time you disagree with a specific remedy, a specific statute, is part of what makes people so frustrated with government,” Hickenlooper, who supports the plan, said in a meeting with The Denver Post’s editorial board.
“Except in very rare circumstances, generally the governor is supposed to make that decision in concert with the attorney general,” Hickenlooper said of the lawsuit. “But the governor should have that final say.”
Hickenlooper’s office pushed the issue further, saying the AG’s actions “just gets in the way” of state plans to cooperate with the CPP:
“The statute that we’re looking at speaks of prosecuting and defending on the request of the governor,” said Jacki Cooper Melmed, Hickenlooper’s chief legal counsel, citing Colorado’s revised statutes, title 24, article 31, part 1.
Cooper Melmed said she is worried about conflicts as some Coffman deputies work with Hickenlooper’s administration to implement the plan while others in the attorney general’s office try to quash it.
“This just gets in the way,” Cooper Melmed said of the lawsuit. “There’s no wall really high enough to allow these two things to happen out of the same office.”
Coffman, for her part, said she was “disappointed” in the Governor’s decision.
Former Colorado Attorney General Gale Norton called Hickenlooper’s stance “unusual” when it comes to the relationship between AG and Governor, even when representing opposing parties:
“For the governor to try to challenge in this way is unusual,” Norton said.
In almost all cases where a governor challenges an attorney general, Norton said, rulings are in the attorney general’s favor.
“The attorney general represents the state and not the governor,” Norton said. “The attorney general is elected to provide independent representation of the state’s interest.”
Steamboat Today has a great roundup of other reactions for and against the lawsuit.
It’s not just states suing the EPA over the Clean Power Plan–at least 26 states filed almost immediately after the ruling was published last Friday–but other lawsuits are on their way from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and National Association of Manufacturers.
The EPA, meanwhile, is touting its flexibility–a “wide range of choices”–in allowing states to file extensions:
Taking another crack at busting the CPP progress, this time using pre-existing Congressional review legislation:
Lawmakers opposed to the Obama administration’s climate rule for power plants are moving to block the regulations from taking effect.
Several senators will offer Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolutions Monday that seek to stop the Clean Power Plan. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a longtime opponent of carbon regulations for the power sector, will schedule a vote on the resolutions soon after they come out.
“I have vowed to do all I can to fight back against this administration on behalf of the thousands of Kentucky coal miners and their families, and this CRA is another tool in that battle,” McConnell said in a statement.
The Congressional Review Act gives lawmakers the ability to end an executive branch regulation through an act of Congress.
Communities around Colorado continue to struggle with mine runoff, the August EPA spill in southwest Colorado not withstanding:
Toxic mines hang over this haven for wildflowers, contaminating water and driving residents — like counterparts statewide — to press for better protection.
A local group went to federal court this month seeking long-term assurances that a water-treatment plant will always remain open as the collapsed tunnels and heaps of tailings leak an acid mix of heavy metals: arsenic, cadmium, zinc and others.
State data show these contaminants reaching Coal Creek — the primary water source for Crested Butte and the Gunnison Valley’s green pastures — at levels exceeding health standards.
“A lot of people are nervous,” said Alli Melton of High Country Conservation Advocates. “We’d like to get it as clean as possible.”
But the EPA isn’t being all the helpful, as the Interior Department inspector general report on the Gold King Mine/Animas River spill concluded, as the U.S. Chamber points out:
These two quotes from the report illustrate just how careless EPA was:
EPA has “little appreciation for the engineering complexity.”
“[T]here appears to be a general absence of knowledge of the risks associated with these [abandoned mining] facilities.”
Even EPA’s internal investigators didn’t hold back on the agencies irresponsibility. Its initial review concluded the spill was “likely inevitable,” but the agency wasn’t prepared to contain a spill before digging into the mine.
That isn’t much consolation for the folks in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and the Navajo Nation affected by the spill, as New Mexico’s top environmental watchdog Ryan Flynn said, quoted again by the Chamber:
While the report reveals that an EPA decision was made to refrain from validating the flawed water level estimates with a previously used successful procedure (using a drill rig to bore into the mine from above to directly determine the water level of the mine pool prior to excavating the backfill at the portal); the report says absolutely nothing about who made the decision to fly by the seat of their pants, by digging out the closed Gold King Mine tunnel based on un-validated estimates of what volume and pressure of contaminated water would be violently released.
Here in New Mexico, we are already quite clear on the fact that EPA made a mistake, as the DOI’s report underwhelmingly reveals. What we were wondering, and hoped the report could tell us, is why EPA made the mistake, and who at EPA made the decisions that authorized dangerous work to proceed based on un-validated estimates. It is shocking to read the DOI’s “independent investigation” only to find that it overlooks the who, the how, and the why. [emphasis added]
How big are subsidies for electric cars? Without the $5,000 tax credit in Georgia, the state saw sales of electric vehicles plummet nearly 90% in just two months:
According to Georgia car registrations, sales shot up as electric car buyers rushed to take advantage of the tax credit before it expired. But the numbers declined sharply in July and took a swan dive in August — the most recent month tabulated:
The decline from 1,338 in June to 148 in August represents a drop of 88.9 percent.
Read the rest of this excellent Watchdog article here.
It’s almost Halloween, so we’ll end on a spooky anti-energy note from Energy in Depth:
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) has been waging an extreme campaign to ban fracking through so called “Community Bill of Rights” ballot initiatives, especially targeting communities in Colorado, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The group has already forced taxpayers to pay tens of thousands of dollars to defend their illegal ordinances and it is now planning to hit communities in California, Oregon, New Hampshire and Washington State. In fact, as Energy In Depth’s new video shows, this Halloween, CELDF’s extreme (and expensive) campaign could be coming to a ballot box near you.
October 15 Colorado Energy Cheat Sheet: Che Guevara inspires fracking bans, another EPA spill in Colorado, AG Coffman vs. Gov. Hickenlooper
Filed under: CDPHE, Environmental Protection Agency, Hydraulic Fracturing, Legislation, New Energy Economy
Be sure to check out and like our Energy Cheat Sheet page on Facebook for daily, up-to-the minute updates that compliment our weekly “best of” on the I2I Energy Blog.
Want to guess who the anti-energy, anti-fracking activists in Colorado have adopted as their patron saint, so to speak? None other than the murderous Communist revolutionary, Che Guevara:
At Monday’s “direct action” in Denver, protesters displayed signs with messages including “Ban Fracking Now,” “Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground,” and “End Fracking—Renewables 100%.”
“What we have is an energy revolution that is at our feet, and we are the boots on the ground that this revolution wants to be. We are the energy of change,” said Shane Davis, who runs the Fractivist website, in Saturday’s opening speech at the Holiday Inn Stapleton.
He encouraged the anti-fracking movement to draw inspiration from Argentine Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, a leading figure in the communist overthrow of Cuba.
“This is the time when we need to shake the political and economic fracking industry’s empire and their rule over global fossil-fuel energy consumption,” Davis said. “Fifty years ago, Che Guevara, a revolutionary humanitarian, fought similarly against ruling forces that were harming local communities.”
The Statesman’s Valerie Richardson recorded at least two different groups’ efforts to secure anti-fracking measures in 2016, with more than two different measures–a constitutional amendment and a measure to give localities veto powers over development.
Speaking of fracking and one of the most persistent myths extolled by anti-fracking proponents–groundwater contamination:
Some of the same researchers who previously claimed that groundwater in the Marcellus region was being contaminated by shale development released a new study this week finding no evidence that hydraulic fracturing fluids have migrated up into drinking water – consistent with what independent scientists and regulators have been saying about fracking for years. The new Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study, led by researchers at Yale, includes Robert Jackson (now with Stanford University) and Avner Vengosh, who were both behind the Duke studies that purported to find widespread contamination from shale development. But as their new study explains,
“We found no evidence for direct communication with shallow drinking water wells due to upward migration form shale horizons. This result is encouraging, because it implies there is some degree of temporal and spatial separation between injected fluids and the drinking water supply.” (p. 5; emphasis added)
Colorado is catching legal heat for attempting to export its regulatory schemes, like the state’s renewable energy standard, forcing other states to follow “extraterritorial regulation”:
In April, 2011, E&E Legal sued the State of Colorado due to the unconstitutionality of the state’s renewable energy standard. As the case was working its way through the 10th Circuit, the Colorado legislature rushed to amend the law in an attempt to fix the most blatant unconstitutional provisions. They did not, however, cure all the problems.
Dr. David W. Schnare, lead attorney and E&E Legal’s General Counsel, noted at the time the Colorado legislature attempted to correct the RES, “This bill appears to remove some but not all of the unconstitutional elements of the statute. However, it also mandates new unconstitutional requirements by increasing the renewables standard to levels that, that like the current statute, cannot be justified when balanced against the harm they cause to interstate commerce.”
Specifically, the Legislature kept the sections that authorized Colorado to tell electric generating companies what means they had to use to sell “renewable” energy into Colorado, including companies that operated in other states and in some cases where the electricity they made did not and could not even reach Colorado. This is known as “extraterritorial regulation” and is prohibited under the Constitution.
Colorado is not alone in its efforts to tell other states how to regulate. California has the hubris to tell egg producers in Iowa what size chicken pens have to be. They have also told Canada how to make goose liver. Indeed, there is a growing effort for states to try to export their regulations onto other states.
Explained Schnare, “a state may not project its legislation into other states and may not control conduct beyond the boundaries of the State.”
The Environmental Protection Agency’s raft of new regulations has sprung a leak with the aptly named Waters of the United States rule:
Chief Justice John Roberts may have salvaged ObamaCare, but lower courts are proving to be more skeptical of executive overreach. On Friday the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals stopped the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Clean Water Rule on grounds that it probably exceeds the agency’s legal authority.
The EPA rule, issued in May, extends federal jurisdiction over tens of millions of acres of private land that had been regulated by the states. In August a federal judge in North Dakota issued a preliminary injunction in 13 of the 31 states that have sued to block the rule, and the Sixth Circuit has now echoed that legal reasoning by enjoining the rule nationwide.
Ohio, Michigan and 16 other states challenged the rule, and a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit ruled two to one that the “petitioners have demonstrated a substantial possibility of success on the merits of their claims” and that a stay is needed to silence “the whirlwind of confusion that springs from the uncertainty” about the rule’s requirements.
As the Wall Street Journal noted, the most recent and significant threat to the waters within the United States came from the EPA itself:
The court also shot down the Administration’s argument that “the nation’s waters will suffer imminent injury if the new scheme is not immediately implemented and enforced.” As it happens, the single biggest recent injury to U.S. waterways is the EPA’s own Colorado mine disaster that turned the Animas River a toxic orange and flushed toxins into rivers across the Southwest.(emphasis added)
And the irony of the EPA threat to the nation’s waterways continued, as last week the agency triggered yet another spill in Colorado:
“Once again the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] has failed to notify the appropriate local officials and agencies of the spill in a timely manner.” These are the words of U.S. Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) of Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District in response to another toxic spill resulting from EPA activities at an abandoned mine in western Colorado.
According to the Denver Post, an EPA mine crew working Thursday at the Standard Mine in the mountains near Crested Butte, triggered another spill of some 2,000 gallons of wastewater into a nearby mountain creek. Supporting Tipton’s remarks to Watchdog Arena, the Denver Post report states that the EPA had failed to release a report about the incident at the time of its writing.
Unlike the Gold King Mine, where on Aug. 5, an EPA mine crew exploring possible clean-up options, blew out a structural plug in the mine releasing over 3 million gallons of toxic waste into the Animas River, the Standard Mine is an EPA-designated superfund site, where the federal agency has been directing ongoing clean-up efforts.
The EPA’s Clean Power Plan gets bipartisan pushback from Senators in Mississippi and North Dakota:
Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s efforts on behalf of the state in battling overreaching EPA regulations has earned a great deal of visibility given the state’s party split between constitutional offices, with Democrat Governor John Hickenlooper spearheading Clean Power Plan implementation, and the Republican Coffman pushing back, rendering Hickenlooper a “spectator,” according to the Wall Street Journal:
Colorado’s wide-ranging litigation efforts, for example, have been spearheaded by GOP Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who was part of a state coalition that won a ruling last week blocking Interior Department rules for hydraulic fracturing on public lands. She also had Colorado join a group of 13 states that won an August ruling blocking an EPA plan putting more small bodies of water and wetlands under federal protection. And Ms. Coffman recently said she would have Colorado join the suit against the EPA greenhouse-gas rule, expected to be filed as soon as this month.
“The rule is an unprecedented attempt to expand the federal government’s regulatory control over the states’ energy economy,” Ms. Coffman said in announcing her decision.
Mr. Hickenlooper, the governor, didn’t encourage the attorney general to join any of the cases; in fact, he is focusing on implementing the regulations, said spokeswoman Kathy Green. “The governor’s approach has been to work collaboratively and avoid costly lawsuits wherever possible,” she said.