Land-use hearings can frustrate residents, but officials have multiple factors to consider

weld_co_sealCatherine Sweeney – The Tribune – August 6, 2016

Rockpick’s Take: Excellent article on how to present your concerns to commissioners on land use decisions

For the past few years, residents such as Maydean Worley have stormed out of Greeley and Weld County hearing rooms.

“We don’t have a democracy,” Worley yelled at the Weld County commissioners as she left a July meeting before it ended.

Extraction Oil and Gas proposed a well site near Bella Romero Academy’s 4-8 campus, near Cherry Avenue and 24th Street, east of Greeley. Dozens of residents turned out, some of them begging the commissioners to deny the project permission. Some of them cried.

“This is madness,” another resident bellowed as he ended his speech.

The commissioners unanimously approved the project.

From oil and gas development to asphalt production, dozens of industrial projects dot the county, as Weld’s economy continues to rely on those industries to fill jobs and tax coffers. A few of them are located near neighborhoods, both because the areas were valued by companies and because a huge population growth has put more people in Weld.

Before the oil and gas boom, residents came to these hearings to fight apartment complexes and shopping centers because of traffic, light and noise. Now they’re fighting industrial projects for many of the same reasons, although now they also express fears about their health and safety. They yell, they cry and sometimes they beg.

And almost every time, they lose.


Land-use policy is a way local governments help lay out a city. It’s complicated, labor intensive and vital to residents. But most of the time, it gets no attention because it’s also boring.

But for what usually amounts to a single, crucial time in a resident’s life, land-use policy isn’t boring. It’s a fight.

Continue reading article at The Tribune

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Polis donates $25K to group pushing oil, gas amendment

Colorado_State_SealAssociated Press, August 3rd, 2016

DENVER (AP) — Democratic Rep. Jared Polis has given $25,000 to a group pushing to allow local government more say over energy production.

Polis gave the money to Yes for Local Control Over Oil and Gas, according to campaign finance disclosures posted Monday. The group supports a ballot measure to amend the state constitution to give local governments more control over oil and gas production.

The measure isn’t necessarily going to be on Colorado ballots. The group faces a deadline Monday to turn in some 98,000 signatures to get the amendment before voters.

The group faces a steep financial disadvantage if the measure makes ballots. An industry group has raised $13.4 million to oppose it. Energy producers say the change would unduly chill an industry currently regulated by the state.

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Highlands Natural acquires Colorado shale opportunity

Picture of ConocoPhillips Drill Rig drilling in the Niobrara Play - Image Credit ConocoPhillps

Picture of ConocoPhillips Drill Rig drilling in the Niobrara Play – Image Credit ConocoPhillps

procactivinvestors July 25, 2016

Highlands Natural Resources Plc (LON:HNR) has struck a deal to add another new project to its portfolio, acquiring shale acreage in Colorado.

The proposed transaction sees the company secure 100% of a project starting, where it would initially drill as many as six horizontal wells targeting the Niobrara shale.

It would pay a total of US$500,000 in cash (US$250,000 initially) and will give the seller royalties over future revenues. After royalties to both the seller and the State of Colorado the company will be left with 80% revenues from the project.

Drilling could start before the end of 2016, as HNR has revealed that talks are already underway with several industry partners for joint financing and development.

The project is bordered by acreage that’s already been developed by ConoccoPhilips, which has had nearby wells that have produced some 50,000 to 100,000 barrels of oil in aggregate over their first six months.

As such, these nearby ConoccoPhilips wells are among the top 12% of Niobrara shale wells, HNR highlighted. It added that Niobrara, producing some 371,000 bopd (according to July 2016 data), us ranked as the United States’ fourth largest tight oil play.

Continue reading story at proactiveinvestors

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Drilling setbacks carry big price tag for Colorado economy

University_of_Colorado_LogoBy ALDO SVALDI – Denver Post – July 14, 2016

Colorado could forego 54,000 jobs and $7.1 billion in economic activity over the next 5 years if voters approve a ballot measure to prevent drilling for oil and gas within 2,500 feet of existing structures and sensitive areas, according to a University of Colorado analysis released Thursday.

Initiative 78, should it win this November, would put about 90 percent of the state off limits to oil and gas drilling, according to an analysis in May from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

The university’s Business Research Division, using a sophisticated computer model called REMI, estimated losses of 104,000 jobs and $14.5 billion in economic activity over a longer 15-year period based on those restrictions.

“Companies simply would not be able to operate here. This initiative, were it to pass, would usher in the probable demise of the oil and gas industry in Colorado,” Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. CEO Tom Clark said in a statement.

Continue reading article at The Denver Post

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Colorado firewater: mostly natural, industry leaks seldom to blame, CU study finds

DJ Basin Oil Drilling Rig - Image Credit - Encana Inc.

DJ Basin Oil Drilling Rig – Image Credit – Encana Inc.

By Bruce Finley – Denver Post – July 11, 2016

95 percent of methane gas came from naturally occurring microbial processes, often underground coal seams, usually not oil and gas industry

Some Coloradans can light their water on fire: methane natural gas has penetrated groundwater at 64 percent of sites state regulators tested since 1988 in the northeastern part of the state, University of Colorado researchers have found.

But more than 95 percent of this gas came from naturally occurring microbial processes, often near shallow underground coal seams — not the oil and gas industry.

Methane-tainted groundwater can lead to flammable drinking water trickling from household taps.

The CU study — funded by the National Science Foundation and based on an analysis of Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission records — concluded that the industrial process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is not a primary cause of methane contamination of groundwater.

Continue reading story at The Denver Post

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EPA Issues Final Methane Standards for New Oil and Gas Sources

USEPAEngineering360 News Desk, May, 23, 2016

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized standards designed to reduce methane, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and toxic air emissions from new, modified and reconstructed sources in the oil and natural gas industry.

The agency is starting the process to control emissions from existing oil and gas sources by issuing for public comment an Information Collection Request (ICR). This will require companies to provide the information that will be necessary for EPA to reduce methane emissions from these sources as well.

The agency’s actions are part of the federal government’s strategy under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to achieve the goal of cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 to 45% from 2012 levels by 2025. EPA says that, by 2025, the standards for new and modified sources are expected to reduce methane emissions by 510,000 short tons, ozone-forming VOCs by 210,000 tons and air toxics, such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene, by 3,900 tons.

After reviewing more than 900,000 comments received on its August 2015 proposal, EPA updated a number of aspects in the final rule, including removing an exemption for low-production wells and requiring leak-monitoring surveys twice as often at compressor stations, which have the potential for significant emissions. The final rule also provides companies a pathway to align the final standards with comparable state-specific requirements they may have.

Continue reading story at Engineering360

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New data will help Colorado study health effects of fracking

Diagram of Fracking

Diagram of Fracking

New data on air pollution from fracking wells in Colorado will be a big help in assessing whether the emissions are harmful to human health, state officials say

By DAN ELLIOTT, Associated Press – June 14, 2016

DENVER (AP) — New data on air pollution from fracking wells in Colorado will be a big help in assessing whether the emissions are harmful to human health, state officials say.

A three-year study released Tuesday measured methane — a greenhouse gas — and ozone-causing compounds that were released from new natural gas wells in western Colorado.

The research, by Colorado State University professor Jeff Col

lett, didn’t measure the emissions’ health effects, but state officials will use the data in computer modeling to assess the risks, said Mike Van Dyke of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“This study is incredibly useful,” said Van Dyke, chief of environmental epidemiology, occupational health and toxicology for the health department.

The state expects to hire outside researchers by the end of next month to begin modeling the human health risks, using the western Colorado research as well as data from a second study Collett is conducting at wells near the state’s urban Front Range.

The state risk study is expected to be completed in January 2018.

Collett’s study is the first time researchers have been able say with certainty they were measuring pollution only from drilling operations and not from other sources, Van Dyke said.

Continue reading story at The US News & World Report

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Heavy hitters expected to jump in for potential Colorado fight on proposed oil, gas ballot initiatives

DJ Basin Oil Drilling Rig - Image Credit - Encana Inc.

DJ Basin Oil Drilling Rig – Image Credit – Encana Inc.

Sharon Dunn – Greeley Tribune – June 11, 2016

As they say in sports, it could all come down to this one game.

Colorado’s November election could be a pivotal one for the oil and gas industry if voters are presented with questions to limit drilling in the state.

“One thing I’m not clear about is how this will run headlong in a collision (course) with the whole business of property rights. How far can they go in the name of local control, or state control? … I’m not sure you can amend a state constitution to obliterate a property right.— John Straayer, a political science professor at Colorado State University and political analyst

From the money the election would command, to the potential legal questions they could pose, to the implications for drilling across the country, a lot will be riding on petitioners’ abilities to collect signatures to place four issues on the ballot.

The initiatives would limit oil and gas drilling in local communities or give governing bodies rights to curtail such activities within their borders — measures that are sure to command millions of dollars in campaign spending. Many think this could easily be a $200 million election issue in Colorado this year.

“This will be one of the biggest environmental fights in the country this year,” said Lauren Petrie, Rocky Mountain region director for Food and Water Watch, a Washington, D.C.,-based group advocating for safety in food production and oil and gas production. “All eyes will be on the outcome for these Colorado ballot initiatives.”

Continue reading story at The Greeley Tribune

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