The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Groups Launch Ballot Initiative to Give Coloradans Local Control Over Fracking
Colorado had a busy weekend, launching a state ballot initiative that would give residents control over whether to allow fracking in their communities and approving fracking regulations for methane.
The state's Air Quality Control Commission approved regulations jointly created by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and large oil and gas companies like Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Noble Energy Inc. that are designed to fix tank and pipe leaks as a way to reduce emissions from fracking, Bloomberg reported.
“This is a model for the country,” EDF Rocky Mountain Regional director Dan Grossman said. “We’ve got this simmering battle between the oil and gas industry and neighborhoods throughout the state that are being faced with development. That degree of acrimony is pushing the industry and policy makers to look for ways to get some wins.”
A group named Local Control Colorado doesn't agree with that assessment and wants residents to determine whether fracking should be permitted where they live. The organization submitted language to the Colorado Legislative Council for a constitutional amendment to place control over fracking Colorado directly in the hands of constituents.
Once the state approves the language, Local Control Colorado will need to collect 86,000 signatures by Aug. 4 to qualify for the November ballot.
“My first responsibility is to my children—to ensure they have a healthy community in which to grow up,” said Laura Fronckiewicz, a member of Our Broomfield, one of the organizations within Local Control Colorado. “Gov. Hickenlooper has failed to keep us safe from fracking. For this reason, this ballot measure is necessary to ensure that we have the right to determine whether fracking is allowed next to our homes or schools."
Gary Wockner, an environmentalist in Colorado, also opposed the regulations, saying their impact will be minimal, at best.
"These new rules will result in a partial reduction of emissions on some of the wells and facilities, while at the same time new drilling and fracking continues to run rampant across Colorado," Wockner said. "Consequently, whatever is gained by these rules will be overwhelmed by the new drilling and Colorado's air pollution and methane emissions will get worse."
In the past 15 months, the residents of Fort Collins, Boulder, Lafayette Longmont and Broomfield made history by passing local measures to stop fracking. They did so in the face of an estimated $1.3 million in combined spending by the oil and gas industry to defeat these initiatives, Local Control Colorado said. Hickenlooper also authorized state funds to launch two lawsuits against Longmont in response to the ban.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Association also sued Fort Collins, Longmont and Lafayette to undermine votes.
Still, it was Hickenlooper who asked the energy companies and environmental groups to to write the first-of-a-kind set of controls. The state's Air Quality Control Commission approved the new regulations by an 8-to-1 count Saturday after five days of hearings.
While Noble complied, it also complained about the financial ramifications it will have on its company. A company official told Bloomberg that it would cost about $3 million per year to comply with the new rules.
With more than 51,000 fracking wells in Colorado that leak methane, the primary component of natural gas and a potent greenhouse gas, that's the last thing most people in Colorado are concerned with.
"We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground," Wockner said. "Trying to cure climate change by switching from coal to gas is like trying to cure lung cancer by switching from Marlboro's to low-tar cigarettes—too little, too late."
Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Tuna auctions are a tourist spectacle in Tokyo. Outside the city's most famous fish market, long queues of visitors hoping for a glimpse of the action begin to form at 5 a.m. The attraction is so popular that last October the Tsukiji fish market, in operation since 1935, moved out from the city center to the district of Toyosu to cope with the crowds.
gmnicholas / E+ / Getty Images
Kristan Porter grew up in a fishing family in the fishing community of Cutler, Maine, where he says all roads lead to one career path: fishing. (Porter's father was the family's lone exception. He suffered from terrible seasickness, and so became a carpenter.) The 49-year-old, who has been working on boats since he was a kid and fishing on his own since 1991, says that the recent warming of Maine's cool coastal waters has yielded unprecedented lobster landings.
The climate crisis is getting costly. Some of the world's largest companies expect to take over one trillion in losses due to climate change. Insurers are increasingly jittery and the world's largest firm has warned that the cost of premiums may soon be unaffordable for most people. Historic flooding has wiped out farmers in the Midwest.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.
'We Should Be Retreating Already From the Coastline,' Scientist Suggests After Finding Warm Waters Below Greenland
By Johnny Wood
The Ganges is a lifeline for the people of India, spiritually and economically. On its journey from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, it supports fishermen, farmers and an abundance of wildlife.
The river and its tributaries touch the lives of roughly 500 million people. But having flowed for millennia, today it is reaching its capacity for human and industrial waste, while simultaneously being drained for agriculture and municipal use.
Here are some of the challenges the river faces.
By Jake Johnson
As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.
Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.
AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.