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Oil and Gas Roundup — Nov. 8

November 08, 2013
TOPICS: In the news
A roundup of oil and natural gas industry news from around the state, nation and world:

Communities’ HF votes seen as first round in Colorado fight

Approval by majorities of voters on Nov. 5 in three Colorado Front Range communities of moratoriums or bans of hydraulic fracturing was only the first round of a potentially statewide battle, Colorado Oil & Gas Association Pres. Tisha Schuller said on Nov. 6.

“These elections mobilized community members to educate their neighbors, and our support of their efforts is just beginning,” Schuller said.

About 76% of the votes in Boulder supported extending the city’s fracing moratorium for 5 years, while 55% of the ballots cast in Fort Collins farther north supported a new 5-year ban. Some 58% of the voters in Lafayette backed banning the process permanently.

Voters in a fourth community, Broomfield, narrowly defeated a proposal to ban fracing and prohibit the disposal or open pit storage of solid or liquid wastes connected to the process for 5 years. The margin, which was 13 votes on election night, potentially could be erased or expanded by absentee votes which will be accepted through Nov. 13.

Schuller said the close election there “proves that common sense prevails in mainstream Colorado communities when it comes to energy production [in]…the only true swing community contemplating an energy ballot measure.” The ban would have overturned regulations passed the Denver suburb’s city council passed last September, she noted.

“There was also a victory in the hearts and minds of voters in Fort Collins, where 44% recognized that the proposed 5-year energy ban jeopardizes their community,” COGA’s president said. “During the course of the campaign, the city council passed a resolution recommending voters there not support the energy ban. The Fort Collins Chamber of Commerce opposed the ban, and the Fort Collins Coloradoan editorialized against the measure.”

Read more:

1973 energy crisis: An anniversary worth recalling

Pa. Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley wrote the following op-ed on the anniversary of the oil crisis:

We are about to mark an anniversary — one we’d all be smart to remember before joining the Flat Earth Society that is right now debating whether or not to blow up the state’s economy.

In October and November of 1973 oil exporting nations cut off exports to the United States as punishment for our support of Israel – the lone democracy in the Middle East.

Gasoline prices jumped. Home heating prices soared because the price of a barrel of oil dictated the price of everything else energy related. Families were told to turn down the thermostats to 68 or lower, and cars lined up for miles outside service stations that were still running. Inflation combined with a slowed economy to usher in the “era of malaise.”

We were hostages in our own land.

Jump ahead 40 years and consider the words of Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal:

“Rising North American shale gas production is an inevitable threat” to the economy of Saudi Arabia.

Think about that. Forty years after the embargo, a major OPEC country is worrying about America’s emerging energy independence. They have good reason.

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EPA's abandoned Wyoming fracking study one retreat of many

When the Environmental Protection Agency abruptly retreated on its multimillion-dollar investigation into water contamination in a central Wyoming natural gas field earlier this year, it shocked environmentalists and energy industry supporters alike.

In 2011, the agency had issued a blockbuster draft report saying that the controversial practice of fracking was to blame for the pollution of an aquifer deep below the town of Pavillion, Wyo. — the first time such a claim had been based on a scientific analysis.

The study drew heated criticism over its methodology and awaited a peer review that promised to settle the dispute. Now the EPA will instead hand the study over to the state of Wyoming, whose research will be funded by EnCana, the very drilling company whose wells may have caused the contamination.

Industry advocates say the EPA’s turnabout reflects an overdue recognition that it had over-reached on fracking and that its science was critically flawed.

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States file brief against EPA rules

Nine states are lining up against the Obama administration in an upcoming Supreme Court case over contentious environmental regulations.

The states filed a friend of the court brief with the high court on Thursday to oppose the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) attempt to regulate power plant emissions that cross state lines.

They say that the EPA did not have the authority to issue the regulations in 2011. The rules were a core component of the Obama administration’s agenda to reduce air pollution.

“This move by the EPA is just one more effort to slam the door on energy-producing states," West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R), who is leading the states’ effort, said in a statement. "It is a blatant attempt to promote a reckless agenda that picks winners and losers and puts our nation’s goal for energy independence in a tenuous position."

Attorneys general from Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming also signed on to the brief.

They want the Supreme Court to uphold a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that struck down the EPA regulations last year. The appeals court ruled that the Clean Air Act did not give the EPA the powers to force pollution cuts in 28 states with emissions that blew into downwind states.

The regulation required cuts to nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants in those upwind states.

Green groups and the EPA saw the Supreme Court’s June decision to take up the case as a sign of hope that the rules could be reinstated.

The high court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the case on Dec. 10. It should issue a decision by next summer.

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