La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt’s public calendar and expense reimbursement records show no indication of her doing public business during a trip to Washington D.C. in May, despite using her role as an elected official to participate in a press conference regarding a federal methane regulation with two U.S. Senators. According to Lachelt’s calendar and reimbursement documents obtained by Western Wire through a Colorado Open Records Act request, no documentation in connection with travel to the nation’s capital on or about May 9 is available, nor is there a request for reimbursement for travel-related expenses associated with county advocacy on the Bureau of Land Management’s methane rule.
National anti-fossil fuel organizations organized deluxe motor coach transportation to bus out-of-state protesters into Lincoln, Nebraska from across the West and Midwest to protest the Keystone XL pipeline on Sunday. “Hundreds of Nebraskans, along with Water Protectors and Pipeline Fighters from states near and far, will come together in Lincoln on the eve of the week-long Keystone XL intervenor hearings at the Nebraska Public Service Commission,” wrote Bold Nebraska, “and march through the streets to send the message that Keystone XL is a threat to our land, water and climate, and not in the public interest. March with us to give Keystone XL the boot! (emphasis in original).”
Reports that the Keystone XL pipeline may be dead on arrival are “untrue,” according to a spokesman for TransCanada, the planned pipeline’s builder. “Recent media coverage has suggested that TransCanada is backing away from the Keystone XL project due to a lack of commercial support. This simply is not true,” TransCanada wrote in a statement following their second quarter earnings call.
State regulators from two Western states say that the Environmental Protection Agency’s move to suspend a planned delay on ozone standards would lead to non-attainment designations in their states, but that they are prepared to move forward with compliance plans. Bryce Bird, director of the Utah Division of Air Quality, said Utah would likely see new non-attainment areas across the state, but didn’t anticipate the agency needing to alter the plans it already submitted to the EPA.
Air quality in the United States has made “significant progress” since 1970, even as the nation’s economy, population, miles driven, and energy use have increased, according to a new report from the Environmental Protection Agency. Dubbed “The Greatest Story Seldom Told” by the Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies, “the combined emissions of six key pollutants dropped by 73 percent, while the U.S. economy grew more than three times,” the EPA wrote.
La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt continues to draw fresh ethics concerns around her efforts to lobby against changing the Bureau of Land Management’s methane rule in May. David Peters of Durango, Colo., told Western Wire that he plans to file an ethics complaint with Colorado’s Independent Ethics Commission sometime in mid-August because he is disturbed by what he described as “multiple conflicts of interest.” Peters said a series of public trips Lachelt took to Washington, D.C. for advocacy — including against the vote on the BLM methane rule in May — drew his attention as a county resident, taxpayer, and former oil and natural gas industry worker.
Western officials are applauding the Bureau of Land Management’s plan to withdraw and rewrite an Obama administration rule aimed at limiting hydraulic fracturing on public lands. “The Obama-era BLM fracking rule is unnecessary and burdensome—costing the oil and gas industry over $32 million annually,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said in a statement to Western Wire.