A wolf in sheep s clothing. Colorado panel denies fracking study bill.

By Gwen Lachelt

February 8, 2011

The drilling industry s newest bill in the Colorado legislature, HB 1172 (which died yesterday in first committee), seems to be just the sort of bill that we would have supported.  And if it were put into law and executed, without prejudice, we would have supported it.  However, the enforcer of this bill is the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). While the commission has new members and a new mandate, we re worried the fox is still guarding the hen house.

In a nutshell, HB 1172 would have required --

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There oughta be a law against mining through a salmon stream

By Jennifer Krill

February 7, 2011

But, there isn't, at least, not yet. That's why the wealthy Texans Dick Bass and William Herbert Hunt are proposing to develop a coal field that lies beneath the Chuit River, an extremely productive wild salmon watershed. On January 20th, more than 150 people attended a hearing in remote Kenai, Alaska to tell the State of Alaska that the commercial and subsistence salmon harvest make the Chuit River an 'unsuitable land' for an open-pit coal mine. Check out this great coverage in The Mudflats, including photos from the hearing and an outline of the comments. You can weigh in too; the deadline for comments if February 19th.

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Chalk up one for Colorado's health and environment: gas industry drops lawsuit against drilling rules

By Alan Septoff

February 4, 2011

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association agreed yesterday to drop its legal challenge to drilling rules adopted by the state two years ago.  The rules were promulgated in response to public concern over the dangers posed by the unprecedented natural gas drilling boom.

I'll toot our horn a bit. Our Oil & Gas Accountability Project, headed up by Gwen Lachelt, was one of the first public interest organizations in the state to sound the alarm about the risks of toxics used in drilling. And that alarm was one of the key reasons that the rules -- that are now safe from lawsuit -- were put in place.

I should point out that it is only through the lawyering of Paul Zogg (during the rulemaking) and Earthjustice (during the industry lawsuit that followed the rule) that we got to this point. As Gwen said upon hearing the news:

"This is a big victory for common sense. [Through the rulemaking process] Coloradans demanded responsible drilling that respects our right to clean water and protects our state s special places. [And] the state listened to the people, not the industry s overblown claims that the rules would drive drilling out of Colorado."

And now, by dropping its lawsuit, the industry has given up its attempt to overturn the will of the people of Colorado.

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Tell the Delaware River Basin Commission: stop the rush to drill!

By Alan Septoff

February 4, 2011

The Clean Water Not Dirty Drilling coalition (of which EARTHWORKS is a part) today issued a call to action:

Tell the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to stop the rush to drill.

The DRBC has issued draft drilling regulations -- without scheduling hearings that are easily accessible by many of the people affected by the regs.

Furthermore, they are proceeding with the rules without full information.  For example, the EPA is studying the potential links between hydraulic fracturing and groundwater pollution.

The gas will be there -- it's not going anywhere.  If they wait, the worst thing that could happen is that the gas will be extracted in the same way -- a bit later.  The best?  Safer drilling.  Or even truly clean alternatives.  Things worth waiting for, I think we can almost all agree.

So send a letter to the DRBC (or learn more about the issue).  Visit the Clean Water Not Dirty Drilling action page.

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Trading pennies of cash for pounds of problems?

By Nadia Steinzor

February 2, 2011

Say I decide to change my job, and figure that with a higher salary I ll be set. But a few years later, I m in financial hot water: I forgot to calculate the tripling of commuting costs and the car, clothing, and entertaining required by my new position.

Pretty shortsighted and irresponsible of me, right? But somehow when the gas industry uses the same method to peddle its wares, all too many policymakers plagued by budget woes are dazzled and eager to buy.

Take the widely touted 2010 study commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute that promises hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in revenues in the Marcellus Shale region. Oops! It didn t even look at costs associated with gas development, like road and bridge repairs, declines in farming and tourism, or reduced property values and taxes. The same fuzzy math guided a recent report funded by the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association that glowingly assessed jobs and money coming, and still to come, from gas drilling in that state.

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