Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has tapped Doug Benevento, a utility executive and former executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to lead the agency’s Region 8 headquarters. The Trump administration pick has received bipartisan endorsements from current and former Colorado elected leaders including Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) and former EPA Region 8 administrator Jim Martin, an Obama-appointee.
Oklahoma legislators have reached an impasse over a slate of possible tax hikes proposed to solve the state’s $215 million budget shortfall, but the state’s oil and gas industry has rejected calls for a “grand bargain” that would seek to tap the sector for the fourth time in three years, arguing it would hurt Oklahoma energy producers and workers alike. “The oil and natural gas industry has seen its gross production taxes increase for three consecutive years,” Chad Warmington, President of the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association, told Western Wire via email. Warmington told Western Wire before the special session that the oil and gas industry has been Oklahoma’s stopgap source for addressing repeated budget shortfalls, including this year’s legislative session.
Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee questioned the merits of the prior administration’s last ditch effort to block “mineral access on Federal land” and the potential of this regulation “harming our nation’s economic and strategic potential.” Bishop sent the letter last Thursday to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke asking them to sift through the sea of the prior administration’s “midnight regulations” in the interest of “national security.” Bishop wrote, “Today, the United States imports 100% of our scandium (mostly from China), 76% of our cobalt and more than 90% of our nickel requirements thus making this withdrawal inconsistent with national security interests.”
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas’ political moves to build environmental credentials by suing the Trump administration repeatedly are endangering his state’s economic recovery, according to concerned business leaders, including at least one statewide advocate. “Balderas is impairing the state’s ability to produce the revenue that we need,” said Carla Sonntag, president and founder of the New Mexico Business Coalition. “Oil and gas contributed $1.6 billion dollars in revenue to the state last year.”
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office responded Tuesday night to a controversial lawsuit brought by anti-fossil fuel groups’ ‘first-in-the-nation’ lawsuit calling for recognition of inherent “rights” for the Colorado River. While Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper declined comment on pending litigation, Hickenlooper’s office told Western Wire the Colorado river’s legacy is one of Western states and citizens “working together” to protect the river.
A radical environmental group that is advocating to “do away with civilization” joined forces with a Colorado attorney to file a lawsuit this week seeking “rights, including the right to exist, flourish, evolve, regenerate, and restoration” for the Colorado River. The Colorado River—the plaintiff in the lawsuit Colorado River v. State of Colorado—is being assisted by anti-fossil fuel group Deep Green Resistance and represented by Jason Flores-Williams, a Denver-based lawyer, and Pennsylvania-based Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund as legal advisers. The suit was filed yesterday at the federal district court in Colorado.
The state of Wyoming’s Bureau of Land Management sale late last week drew nearly $39 million in revenues that will be split between the federal and state governments. The oil and gas lease sale for Wyoming wraps up BLM sales that garnered more than $171 million in competitive bids in the 3rd quarter of this year in New Mexico, Colorado, Montana and the Dakotas, Nevada, Utah, Ohio, and Louisiana.