North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s (D) vote this morning against repealing an Obama administration rule targeting oil and natural gas production on federal lands turned out to be the deciding vote on the issue. The Senate’s 51-49 vote today comes after Western business groups, elected officials, tribes and local leaders spent months urging the repeal of the rule. Heitkamp remained undecided up until the vote and has not spoken publicly about her decision at press time. Her colleague in the House, Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), however, issued a statement expressing his disappointment with the outcome.
Activists opposed to an oil and natural gas company’s sponsorship of a Colorado orchestra series used a recent concert to protest fracking, according to a local paper. Before the Boulder Chamber Orchestra’s performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the Mackey Auditorium in Boulder on May 5, activists with East Boulder County United, shouted, blew whistles inside the auditorium, and disseminated flyers about fracking. According to the Daily Camera’s coverage, the whistle-blowing led University of Colorado police to send officers to the event.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s arrival in Utah yesterday caps weeks of debate among Western lawmakers over the Trump administration’s directive to examine the use of the Antiquities Act over the past two decades to designate the national monuments Zinke will tour. “I challenge any of my colleagues to come down and explain exactly how this 45-day review will uncover information that Western communities somehow missed,” Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) wrote in an April 27 post. “I suspect they will find the widespread record of dissent and nearly unanimous local opposition to the recently designated 1.3 million acre Bears Ears National Monument,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) responded a day later.
A Boulder Daily Camera letter to the editor published two weeks ago that called for violence toward oil and natural gas workers continues to draw sharp criticism from local residents, elected officials from both sides of the aisle, Denver media outlets, and industry representatives in the state. Reporters from national news outlets this week joined the discussion and condemned the violent rhetoric.
Officials from several states called for changes to the national monument designation process at a House subcommittee hearing this week, seeking more consultation with local stakeholders and consideration of their needs. The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands hearing on Tuesday came a week after President Trump signed an executive order that directs the Secretary of the Interior to determine whether large-scale national monument designations took into account adequate public and stakeholder outreach
The chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee expressed confidence he has the votes needed to pass a measure on the Senate floor next week repealing a last-minute Obama administration rule targeting oil and natural gas development on public and tribal lands. “It’s duplicative, unnecessary, expensive, and we’ll pass [a Congressional Review Act resolution] next week,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) told Bloomberg BNA on May 2.
A new study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that pneumatic controllers on oil and natural gas wells in Utah may produce significantly less methane emissions than the agency previously assumed. EPA’s recent study on pneumatic controllers in the Uinta Basin in Utah found that measured emissions from equipment in the basin were well below the estimated emission factors the agency uses to calculate greenhouse gas inventories, which are the basis for global reporting on air emissions.