Coyote Gulch's Colorado Water
The health of our waters is the principal measure of how we live on the land. -- Luna Leopold

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Friday, January 23, 2009

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Environmentalists and Colorado officials are up in arms over the Bush Administration's rush to set leasing regulations for oil shale development, according to a report from the Associated Press via the Examiner/Denver (We write for the Examiner.) From the article:

Colorado officials and environmentalists are protesting last-minute amendments by the Bush administration that apparently insert controversial regulations into six oil shale research and development leases in Colorado and Utah. The changes, announced Jan. 16, affect leases on 160-acre parcels that eventually could be expanded under a plan opening nearly 2 million acres of federal land to development. The leases were granted in 2006 for research into tapping an estimated 100-year supply of oil locked in rock formations under Colorado, Utah and southwest Wyoming. The amended leases incorporate commercial oil shale regulations approved in November. A coalition of environmental groups has filed two lawsuits challenging the overall plan and regulations, including an initial 5 percent royalty rate they say is too low.

"Talk about a sweetheart deal," said David Abelson, a policy adviser for Boulder-based Western Resource Advocates. "They tried to lock in bargain-basement lease rates at a time when we're suing over the regulations."

Meanwhile President Obama is trying to slow down the process even though the rules have been published in the Federal Register, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times (Jim Tankersley):

Like Bush, Obama took office and immediately froze any federal regulations that were not yet finalized. The move halted a push, announced last week, to strip the gray wolf's endangered status in the Rocky Mountains and the Midwest. It also stopped a pair of controversial air quality rules from taking effect, including one that gave greater leeway to industrial polluters and another that declined to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from oil refineries.

It couldn't stop rules that first were published in the Federal Register and had cleared a statutory waiting period before taking effect -- such as the oil shale regulations, meant to pave the way for development leases in Colorado and Utah. Also unable to be touched was a rule that allows so-called mountaintop mining to fill stream beds with leftover dirt from mineral extraction; and a rule that allows federal agencies to forgo expert advice on whether proposed projects would affect endangered species.

Obama could launch a new rule-making process to eventually supplant any of the Bush rules, but that could take months or years to complete. More immediately, he could ask Congress to exercise a little-used law that would allow it to overturn any of the late-registered Bush decisions or to prohibit federal agencies from spending money to implement those rules. The administration could also drop its opposition to several environmentalist lawsuits challenging the Bush rules, signaling to the industry that the rules won't stand for long even if upheld in court.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Climate Change News
6:39:39 AM    

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Neighbors near Carbondale's wastewater treatment plant are complaining about odors, according to a report from the Aspen Times (John Colson). From the article:

...the plant's supervisor, while conceding that there was a problem with odors seeping from the plant in late December and early January, insisted this week that the problem has been fixed. The plant, built in 1973, is located on the banks of the Roaring Fork River, just downstream from the Highway 133 bridge over the river and close to the semi-rural neighborhood of Satank, where residents reportedly have only occasionally complained about smells until recently...

Mark O'Meara of the town's sanitation department acknowledged that there have been some problems at the plant recently, starting with the failure of a critical pump back in December 2008. Aside from Fey, O'Meara said, complaints about the odor came from the Days Inn hotel, located upriver from the plant and on the other side of Highway 133. Unable to get delivery of a replacement pump in anything less than 14 weeks, O'Meara had it rebuilt and reinstalled by the middle of January, which got the plant functioning again. He said he then had to recalibrate the chemistry of the sludge tanks to restore the balance of the "digestment" process. Once that was done, he said, the plant returned to normal operations and, as far as he knew, was no longer emitting offensive smells.

There's nothing like a story about treatment plant smells to get you going.

Meanwhile Colorado Springs has come to an agreement about wastewater treatment if the Banning-Lewis Ranch development ever really gets going, according to a report from R. Scott Rappold writing for the Colorado Springs Gazette:

Colorado Springs Utilities will instead require the Banning Lewis Ranch Co. to build facilities to pump sewage to the existing J.D. Phillips Water Reclamation Facility in north-central Colorado Springs, in the short term. The company also will pay for improvements to the Las Vegas Wastewater Treatment Plant in the long term, which will save the developers $70 million over having to build a new plant...

The change has been in the works since 2006, as the slowing housing market forced the company to refigure how rapidly development would occur on the 23,000-acre ranch. "Under the proposed plan, we have the ability to build the facilities when they're needed. That means we can accelerate if growth were to accelerate or slow it down if growth were to slow down," said Brent Schubloom, Utilities' system extensions manager. "This is a good plan for the community. It's really a win-win for all involved."

The 1988 annexation agreement between a former developer and the city required the developer to pay for Banning Lewis infrastructure, and plans called for a new sewage treatment plant at Clear Spring Ranch, just south of the Ray D. Nixon Power Plant in southern El Paso County. Original projections for the ranch anticipated 1,500 to 3,000 homes there by 2012. But so far, only 73 families live there, and developers don't expect to come anywhere near the projections, said John Cassiani, a Banning Lewis vice president.

Category: Colorado Water
6:20:27 AM    

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