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USGS soil scientist Travis Nauman records vegetation data on decommissioned well pad. Credit: Jessica Mikenas, USGS. Public domain.

A U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study released this week on vegetation recovery at plugged and abandoned oil and gas well sites across the Colorado Plateau found that nearly one third of sites saw 50 percent of vegetation as nearby reference sites after three to six years. Using satellite, soil, and climate data, USGS authors examined 365 well sites in Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico for re-vegetation patterns. The well sites date from 1985 on and were abandoned in 1997 or later.

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A bipartisan bill to dedicate funding to the nation’s beloved National Park System facing billions of dollars in maintenance backlogs and other deferred infrastructure from House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Republican Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) was introduced Thursday. More than 90 House members have co-sponsored the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act, which would apply federal energy development revenue to deal with the nearly $12 billion in deferred maintenance backlogs, including historical sites, buildings and, most importantly for access to the parks and sites themselves, roads.

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Two new studies released in January underscore the importance of oil and natural gas revenues’ impact on education funding in New Mexico and Colorado. The news comes as New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) pushes for an increase in teacher salaries and universal preschool and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) calls for full-day kindergarten.

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A bill that would institute a four-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in New Mexico has been introduced in the state legislature and is raising questions about the impact such a proposal would have on the nation’s third-largest oil producing state. The bill, SB 459 calls for New Mexico’s Department of …

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Following President Trump’s State of the Union address, Acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt  paid a visit to Hobbs, N.M. today to help promote the administration’s agenda on energy issues. Bernhart spent the afternoon on-site at Watson Hopper, Inc., a company that manufacturers and sells equipment for oil rigs. …

Congressional Outlook: Energy Policy in 2019

by ELENA CONNOLLY February 6, 2019

Western Wire

As Congress refocuses on its work following the partial government shutdown and yesterday’s State of the Union address, leaders in both chambers have laid out their priorities around energy policy for the session and are starting to hold a flurry of hearings. The Democratic-controlled House is putting climate change front …

As the United States Senate readies to consider legislation that funds a critical lands package, a new poll released this week shows strong support for the measure in the West. U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.) announced yesterday that a vote has “been secured” for public lands package which includes a …


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