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.
- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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