News

Western Wire

An anti-fossil fuel group last week issued a call for comments directed at state regulators asking for a 2,500-foot setback and an immediate moratorium on oil and gas permitting for the duration of the agency’s rulemaking process following a contentious battle in the Colorado General Assembly over a reform bill and the failure of a similar setback measure at the ballot box last fall. The call from 350.org comes as the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) takes up rulemaking process following the passage of Senate Bill 181, the comprehensive and controversial reform bill that was signed into law in mid-April, documents show.

Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment

A series of emails obtained by Western Wire through an open records request between two of Colorado’s top health officials outlined a clutch of meetings with state agency staff to discuss a raft of potential policy issues, beginning with suggestions forwarded by a climate action organization formerly headed by one of the officials. On Monday, January 28, Jill Ryan, the new Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment under the Polis administration emailed Garry Kaufman, Division Director of the Air Pollution Control Division at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment about an upcoming meeting, and shared a list of to-dos suggested by Ryan’s friends at Colorado Communities for Climate Action, an organization Ryan headed as president before resigning to take up the position at CDPHE under Gov. Jared Polis.

The rural region connecting eastern Utah and western Colorado are home to abundant natural gas supplies that promise to compete in global markets and deliver climate benefits along the Pacific Rim yet depend on completion of proposed infrastructure projects, according to a new report. The analysis is the latest in five-year research project initiated by Colorado’s former Gov. John Hickenlooper, the state of Utah, and Ute Nations Tribes, and was released after Colorado Gov. Jared Polis backed out of the coalition after taking office. “The Piceance-Uinta Basin has a unique advantage over other U.S. and Canadian conventional and shale production areas, which is its abundant and available pipeline export capacity throughout the western U.S.,” Andrew Browning, Chief Operating Officer for Consumer Energy Alliance said in a release accompanying the report.

Western Wire

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) launched a public lands debate this week after unveiling her plan to prohibit drilling for new oil and gas development on federal lands both onshore and offshore in order to stem what she believes would “end our public lands’ contribution to climate change.” “I want to make you a promise—that is, on the first day of a Warren administration—on the first day, I will sign a moratorium that our public lands there will be no more new drilling or mining,” Warren said in Aurora, Colo. Tuesday evening.

Western Wire

For Gov. Jared Polis and other top members of his Democratic caucus at the Colorado State Capitol, the signing of Senate Bill 181 to reform oil and gas regulations is the first key step in not only transforming the industry in the state but putting to rest some of the acrimony that has festered in recent years, particularly among members of his side of the aisle. Polis and other members of Democratic leadership see the bill as a way of avoiding the cyclical ballot initiatives in 2014, 2016, and 2018 that drew passion and millions in campaign spending but were ultimately inconclusive.

Shutterstock

Navajo allottees who privately own rights to minerals expressed concern about being shutout from a Congressional field hearing in New Mexico on Monday that explored legislation to create a 10-mile buffer zone around Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Members of the House Natural Resources Committee held a field hearing in Santa Fe on the impact of oil and gas drilling on tribal lands and near the Chaco Culture park located in the San Juan Basin, which covers most of the northwest portion of the state and forms the mineral rights for many members of the Navajo Nation. Lawmakers also toured Chaco Culture National Historic Park while in New Mexico.

Shutterstock

As Colorado’s Senate Bill 181, an overhaul of the state’s oil and gas regulatory framework, makes its way to Gov. Jared Polis’ desk to sign, the state is still waiting for the release of the “most comprehensive” health assessment from the state’s health department, according to analysis conducted by Western Wire. In September 2016, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment [CDPHE] announced that data from the “most comprehensive assessments of air toxics, ozone precursors and greenhouse gas emission rates from oil and natural gas well operations to date” would help provide “critical information to design a detailed and accurate health risk assessment so we can answer questions related to potential health concerns related to oil and gas operations.”