Anne Landman's blog

Beer Brawl Ensues Over Threat to Shut Down Colorado Coal Mine

Colowyo Mine near Craig, CO
Bars, liquor stores and restaurants in the small northwest coal mining town of Craig, Colorado have started boycotting craft beers made by Colorado microbreweries that have donated even tiny amounts of cash or in-kind gifts to environmental and sustainability causes.

Have You Read Rolling Stone's Coverage On High Rate of Stillbirths in Frack-Heavy Vernal, Utah?

Uintah basin gas field
Rolling Stone magazine published a comprehensive exposé on June 22 about the continuing high rate of stillborn and neonatal deaths occurring in drilling-heavy Vernal, Utah. The excellent article is titled “What's Killing the Babies of Vernal, Utah? A fracking boomtown, a spike in stillborn deaths and a gusher of unanswered questions.” 
 
DeSmogBlog first published information about this spike in neonatal deaths in a May 16, 2014 article about Donna Young, the Vernal midwife who first brought the problem to the attention of Utah public health officials.

Whitewater, Colorado Neighbors Suffer with Stench from Frackwater Pits

Alanco frackwater pits at Whitewater, Colorado

For two years, residents around Whitewater, Colorado, have struggled to live with a terrible stench emanating from the Deer Creek waste disposal facility nearby. Operated by Alanco Energy Services, a subsidiary of Alanco Technologies of Scottsdale, Arizona, the facility was created expressly to profit from the waste and contaminated water produced by the oil and gas industry. 

Environmentalists Win Federal Lawsuit Over Colorado Coal Mines

Environmentalists won big May 8 in a lawsuit brought against the federal government over two coal mines near the northern Colorado town of Craig. 

The nonprofit environmental group WildEarth Guardians sued the U.S. Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM), a bureau within the U.S. Department of the Interior, over permits granted in 2007 to expand the coal mines, saying OSM failed to seek public input or consider impacts on the environment when it approved expanding the mines. The mines are operated by Colowyo Coal Company and Trapper Mining, Inc.  

Biggest Fracking Company in Utah Hires BP Executive Involved in Gulf Oil Disaster as CEO

Fidelity Exploration and Production Company, the largest hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) operator in southeastern Utah, has chosen Patrick O'Bryan to replace its outgoing CEO, Kent Wells.

Both executives have ties to the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, and both have links to BP's questionable accountability structure, poor safety record and overall bungled responses to the oil disasters. 

O'Bryan was on the Deepwater Horizon rig on the day it exploded. His visit displaced key safety personnel that day, and delayed a key cement test that would have revealed faulty seals in the well. 
  

Rejection of Colorado Coal Mine on Global Warming Grounds Could Be Game-Changer

A U.S. District Court judge ruled on June 27 that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service both wrongly approved expansion of the West Elk coal mine in Somerset, Colo., because they failed to take into account the economic impacts greenhouse gas emissions from the mining would have.
 
The federal agencies said it was impossible to quantify such impacts, but the court pointed out a tool is available to quantify the effects of emissions and the agencies chose to ignore it. The tool, the “social cost of carbon protocol,” puts a price on the damanges from drought, flood, storm, fire and disease caused by global warming. 
 
“It is arbitrary to offer detailed projections of a project's upside while omitting a feasible projection of the project's costs,” U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson ruled.
 
Arch Coal, Inc. planned to bulldoze vegetation to build about six miles of roads and drill up to 48 exploratory holes in the scenic backcountry of western Colorado's North Fork Valley to vent methane and determine whether a coal seam actually lies beneath the area.
 
The federal agencies' final report on the West Elk Mine expansion listed the economic benefits of modifying public lands leases to allow the project, but failed to quantify the social or economic costs of carbon emissions from the project.  
 
The ruling could be game-changing because if the judge's reasoning holds up in other challenges to federal agency decisions, it could change the calculus on dozens of other major projects, such as the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

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