Saturday, June 13, 2015

Action Opportunity

The timing is perfect.  Summer residents are here.  Geophysicists are out sniffing for carbon dioxide deposits in the Wahatoya Valley, and who knows where else? And THIS VERY MONTH the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is required by law to seek out your concerns for a new Resource Management Plan affecting blue areas on this map. We have an opportunity share in the Scoping Process explained below.


Tell the BLM why these things should be protected:
  • The land you live on
  • Watersheds
  • Local wildlife
  • Open lands
  • Quiet
  • Dark skies at night
  • Unobstructed views
  • Historical assets
  • Clean air
  • Healthy grazing
  • Clean water
  • The global climate
  • Unique geology
  • Low traffic
  • Stable communities 
It is the law of the land.  You need only to act upon it in your own interests.  Please attend the Scoping Meeting from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, June 30, 2015, at the Huerfano County Community Center, 1038 Russell Street, Walsenburg.

Your Laws to Protect Your Interests:

NEPA
National Environmental Policy Act 
Sec. 101 [42 USC § 4331]
(a) The Congress, recognizing the profound impact of man’s activity
on the interrelations of all components of the natural environment,
particularly the profound influences of population growth, high-density
urbanization, industrial expansion, resource exploitation, and new
and expanding technological advances and recognizing further the
critical importance of restoring and maintaining environmental quality
to the overall welfare and development of man, declares that it is the
continuing policy of the Federal Government, in cooperation with
State and local governments, and other concerned public and private
organizations, to use all practicable means and measures, including
financial and technical assistance, in a manner calculated to foster and
promote the general welfare, to create and maintain conditions under
which man and nature can exist in productive harmony, and fulfill
the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future
generations of Americans.
(b) In order to carry out the policy set forth in this Act, it is the
continuing responsibility of the Federal Government to use all
practicable means, consistent with other essential considerations of
national policy, to improve and coordinate Federal plans, functions,
programs, and resources to the end that the Nation may ­—
1.     fulfil the responsibilities of each generation as trustee of the
environment for succeeding generations;
2.     assure for all Americans safe, healthful, productive, and
aesthetically and culturally pleasing surroundings;
3.     attain the widest range of beneficial uses of the environment
without degradation, risk to health or safety, or other
undesirable and unintended consequences;
4.     preserve important historic, cultural, and natural aspects
of our national heritage, and maintain, wherever possible,
an environment which supports diversity, and variety of
individual choice;
5.     achieve a balance between population and resource use
which will permit high standards of living and a wide
sharing of life’s amenities; and
6.     enhance the quality of renewable resources and approach
the maximum attainable recycling of depletable resources.
(c) The Congress recognizes that each person should enjoy a healthful
environment and that each person has a responsibility to contribute to
the preservation and enhancement of the environment.


40 CFR 1501.7: Scoping
There shall be an early and open process for determining the scope of issues to be addressed and for identifying the significant issues related to a proposed action. This process shall be termed scoping. As soon as practicable after its decision to prepare an environmental impact statement and before the scoping process the lead agency shall publish a notice of intent (§1508.22) in the Federal Register except as provided in §1507.3(e).
(a) As part of the scoping process the lead agency shall:
(1) Invite the participation of affected Federal, State, and local agencies, any affected Indian tribe, the proponent of the action, and other interested persons (including those who might not be in accord with the action on environmental grounds), unless there is a limited exception under §1507.3(c). An agency may give notice in accordance with §1506.6.
(2) Determine the scope (§1508.25) and the significant issues to be analyzed in depth in the environmental impact statement.
(3) Identify and eliminate from detailed study the issues which are not significant or which have been covered by prior environmental review (§1506.3), narrowing the discussion of these issues in the statement to a brief presentation of why they will not have a significant effect on the human environment or providing a reference to their coverage elsewhere.
(4) Allocate assignments for preparation of the environmental impact statement among the lead and cooperating agencies, with the lead agency retaining responsibility for the statement.
(5) Indicate any public environmental assessments and other environmental impact statements which are being or will be prepared that are related to but are not part of the scope of the impact statement under consideration.
(6) Identify other environmental review and consultation requirements so the lead and cooperating agencies may prepare other required analyses and studies concurrently with, and integrated with, the environmental impact statement as provided in §1502.25.
(7) Indicate the relationship between the timing of the preparation of environmental analyses and the agency's tentative planning and decision making schedule.
(b) As part of the scoping process the lead agency may:
(1) Set page limits on environmental documents (§1502.7).
(2) Set time limits (§1501.8).
(3) Adopt procedures under §1507.3 to combine its environmental assessment process with its scoping process.
(4) Hold an early scoping meeting or meetings which may be integrated with any other early planning meeting the agency has. Such a scoping meeting will often be appropriate when the impacts of a particular action are confined to specific sites.
(c) An agency shall revise the determinations made under paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section if substantial changes are made later in the proposed action, or if significant new circumstances or information arise which bear on the proposal or its impacts.




Sunday, August 10, 2014

As most of you may have heard already, Shell/SWEPI's attempt to petition for non-tributary status resulted in the State Engineer declining that petition.  Click Here to see the article in the Pueblo Chieftan that highlights the role that Citizens for Huerfano County played in that decision. Congratulations to the CHC board and all of you who continue to help us protect our beautiful, yet delicate environment!


Thursday, July 24, 2014

SWEPI/ SHELL Fails Nontributary Determination Petition

The Colorado State Engineer has written, "Staff reviewed the Petition, Technical Reports, and submitted comments and finds the information provided by the Applicant is insufficient to support a determination that the produced water withdrawn from the Subject Wells completed in the Niobrara Formation is nontributary."



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Fortune 4-9 Well in Gardner, Colorado Comments

Fortune 4-9 exploratory oil well is being submitted by Shell Oil aka SWEPI using Form 2 application for a drilling permit (APD).  Fortune 4-9 is located near Muddy Creek and Highway 69 a short distance from Gardner, Colorado.
The following comments have been obtained from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) website.  Access to the document is not particularly user friendly, and so we have placed it here for the convenience of concerned citizens.
The print is small so the reader will need to use the control+ keys or apple+ to expand the size.
 






































Thursday, June 12, 2014

With the tourist season here, it is time to take up the pen once again and give a progress report on our winter's work in our county.  We have discovered that one operator who was banned from further mining has nonetheless convinced a major national bank to loan them millions of dollars against their mineral lease portfolio in Huerfano County.  We have learned of another operator who is pulling very dirty carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the earth and piping it to Texas where it is mixed with precious water to scrub oil out of old wells. Then they have the audacity to say that they are sequestering the very same CO2 in these old leaky oil fields and hoping to get carbon credits for the practice.  Meanwhile, another major operator is seeking permission to use the filthy produced water that results from fracturing ancient shale layers into a mush that can be pumped to the surface.  With nontributary approval, they can use this contaminated water to spray on roads for dust control on and off the well sites, and there also are 15 other allowed uses for this water, including reinjecting it into the deep aquifer from which it came. The problem is that the water will have become sullied, that is, mixed with ancient mud, radioactive substances, volatile compounds, drilling lubricants, and fracking chemicals.  We also discovered that only 203 (as of November 2013) voting citizens of Huerfano County are mineral lessors, and the remaining 95% of us will have to live with the mess. There are also upwards of 400 of the 800 mineral lessors from outside the county who are not being taxed for their mineral property holdings in Huerfano County. Not taxed and not registered at the courthouse means clouded titles, lost tax revenues, and possible dubious basis for unitization and pooling schemes. Our concern is that elements of the county government still have open arms for gas and oil operators. This was obvious in The Signature Newspaper Visitor's Guide recently published, wherein the Huerfano County Government invites these environmental miscreants to do business here.  Notably, there was no mention of inviting solar and wind power projects, even though we have established a wind power zone in the eastern part of the county.  We have been circumspect in sharing our findings, first communicating to the county assessor, administrator, commissioners, and planning board.  But we can be silent no longer when we see the welcome mat being put out for gas and oil and all the misery it can bring.  There are better ways to get energy for our lives than fossil fuels.  Let's not destroy the environment and incur cleanup liabilities that boost the real cost of gas and oil far higher than solar and wind energy.  Let's pay for our courthouse expenses with long-term strategies instead of dirty money from oil and gas taxes.  If oil and gas take over here we will need more than a new courthouse complex to repair the damage.