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Western Wire

The state agency charged with regulating oil and gas drilling in Colorado voted unanimously to increase setbacks from school facilities in a new rulemaking supported by a diverse group of local governments, school boards, trade and conservation organizations, and other stakeholders from across the state. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) held their rulemaking hearing in Denver on Tuesday to discuss new regulations regarding setback requirements between oil and gas drilling permits and a new definition of school facilities that extended the current 1,000-foot setback from school buildings to outdoor properties, such as the property line of the school’s footprint or adjacent areas owned by the schools and used for sports or playgrounds.

As activists who brought a 2,500-foot setback to Colorado voters in 2018 vow to return in two years with a similar measure, a video has surfaced of one of the failed measure’s biggest proponents—’s Bill McKibben—in an October appearance applauding the effort to “fundamentally break” the oil and gas industry. McKibben’s “A Night of Inspiration” on Friday, October 19th was billed as dinner and auction to raise funds for the Proposition 112 campaign, Colorado Rising.

An oversized check for nearly half a billion dollars was presented to the State of New Mexico on Tuesday as the Bureau of Land Management acknowledged the portion of September oil and gas lease sales that would head to the state after a record-breaking $972.5 million dollar 3rd quarter sale in September. The check, for $486,000,000, represents the portion the state receives from federal oil and gas lease sales. In total, the New Mexico has received revenues exceeding $1 billion in 2018 from BLM’s mandated quarterly lease sales.

The Trump administration moved to revise the definition of “waters of the United States” or WOTUS rule under the Clean Water Act that Western elected officials hailed as fairer for farmers, ranchers and landowners. The announcement came Tuesday as Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler released details the agency said would provide a “straightforward definition that would result in significant cost savings, protect the nation’s navigable waters, help sustain economic growth, and reduce barriers to business development.”

Lax standards of conflict of interest disclosures among climate scientists create “unnecessary vulnerabilities” and should be avoided, according to University of Colorado, Boulder professor and political scientist Roger Pielke, Jr. “You certainly don’t want advisors—scientific advisors—to have the perception, at a minimum that they’re receiving funding from those that they’re …


New Mexico’s Bureau of Land Management quarterly oil and gas lease sales this week leads off two weeks of quarterly lease sales in western states that will cap a record-breaking year in generating federal revenues from public land leasing. BLM New Mexico’s 4th quarter lease results—more than $19 million in lease sales on the first day of a two-day sale concluding today, according to a BLM spokesperson who spoke to Western Wire—comes just three months after a blockbuster quarterly lease sale in September that generated nearly $1 billion in total revenue.

A bipartisan coalition backing reauthorization and funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) said Thursday that efforts to bring the program back in line after lapsing in September could happen during the lame-duck session. “We’re trying every angle,” said U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) at a Capitol Hill press conference.