ICYMI – Important News Stories from the Past Few Weeks

September 17, 2015 –

Denver Post – Low Energy Prices Have Colorado Communities Wary of Future Budgets
“As the prices for oil and natural gas remain beaten down at levels not seen in years, city and county officials across Colorado are eyeing their budgets and preparing for an imminent and ugly hit to their revenues. Most eyes are on 2017, when taxes get collected on the value of oil and gas activity happening today. And today’s picture is not pretty for the energy industry.” READ MORE

“An Associated Press analysis of data from leading oil- and gas-producing states found more than 175 million gallons of wastewater spilled from 2009 to 2014 in incidents involving ruptured pipes, overflowing storage tanks and other mishaps or even deliberate dumping. There were some 21,651 individual spills. And these numbers are incomplete because many releases go unreported.” Photo by zeesstof on Flickr.

AP – Exclusive: Drilling Boom Means More Harmful Waste Spills
“Carl Johnson and son Justin are third- and fourth-generation ranchers who for decades have battled oilfield companies that left a patchwork of barren earth where the men graze cattle in the high plains of New Mexico. Blunt and profane, they stroll across a 1 1/2-acre patch of sandy soil – lifeless, save for a scattering of stunted weeds. Five years ago, a broken pipe soaked the land with as much as 420,000 gallons of oilfield wastewater – a salty and potentially toxic drilling byproduct that can quickly turn fertile land into a dead zone. The leaked brine killed every sprig of grama and bluestem grasses and shinnery shrubs it touched.” READ MORE

Denver Post – Feds in Colorado Launch Huge Oil and Gas Worker Safety Study
“An unprecedented study of the hazards rooted in America’s largest oil patches will be launched next year by federal health officials in Colorado who hope to cut the dangers faced by oil and gas workers.” READ MORE

FuelFix – New Rules for Methane Aim to Thwart Wasting Valuable Natural Gas, Officials Say
“A top Obama administration official on Tuesday blasted energy companies for burning or venting natural gas at oil wells, as the government readies new rules to clamp down on the practice. ‘It’s crazy to vent natural gas into the atmosphere when natural gas is a fuel that can produce electricity at a much lower carbon footprint than other sources like coal,’ Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told reporters. ‘It is economical in some cases for companies to flare or vent natural gas . . . because their target is oil.’ But, she added: ‘That is not okay.'” READ MORE

Scty. of Interior Sally Jewell: “It’s crazy to vent natural gas into the atmosphere when natural gas is a fuel that can produce electricity at a much lower carbon footprint than other sources like coal.” Photo of a gas flare in North Dakota by Joshua Doubek on Wikimedia.

AP – Local Groups Weigh in on Proposed Thompson Divide Swaps
“Local groups are questioning proposals from oil and natural gas exploration companies that want to swap operations from the Thompson Divide area to parts of west Colorado.” READ MORE

Greeley Tribune – Interior Department: High-Risk Oil, Gas Well Checks Lack Funding
“The U.S. Bureau of Land Management lacks sufficient resources to inspect high-risk oil and gas wells on federal land as a drilling boom continues in Wyoming, Colorado and other states, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Tuesday. The Obama administration has proposed a fee on oil and gas drillers that would allow the land management agency to hire more than 60 inspectors, but the proposal has not gained traction in Congress.” READ MORE

E&E News – How Shale Oil Can Kill
“When Joe Morales found him, Jim Freemyer was standing over the hatch, dazed and miming the gestures of measuring the crude oil tank with nothing in his hands. Later, Freemyer wouldn’t even remember Morales guiding him off the catwalk. All he recalled was smelling something like gasoline and getting dizzy. After that, Freemyer, a truck driver from nearby Evans, Colo., demanded a mask to protect him from the fumes. But it didn’t. He was wearing the mask three weeks later, when another co-worker found him face down over a different hatch. This time, he was dead.” READ MORE

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