Governor Takes Pride in Wyoming’s Leadership on #Fracking and Wants it Recognized

Wild horses are quickly being wiped out in Wyoming. Governor Mead encourages roundups and removals at federal taxpayer expense. Mead seems to be owned by the oil and gas industry so it’s no surprise he’s getting rid of their environmental obstacles. 

From Vote Smart

By: Matt Mead
Date: Aug. 23, 2013
Location: Cheyenne, WY

Governor Matt Mead expressed that he is proud of Wyoming’s record of effective regulation of the oil and gas industry in his comments on the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed rule for hydraulic fracturing. Governor Mead wrote to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to say that the BLM should reject the duplicative regulation and defer to states like Wyoming.

“As a leading energy producer, Wyoming continues to set the standard for development and environmental stewardship,” Governor Mead wrote. He pointed to Wyoming’s first-in-the-nation hydraulic fracturing rules, updated well bore integrity standards, air standards for natural gas production and wells that are hydraulically fractured, and Wyoming’s recently released energy strategy. “Guided by this energy strategy, Wyoming is establishing baseline groundwater sampling, analysis and monitoring regulations.”

Given state leadership is already in place in Wyoming, Governor Mead expressed concern that the new BLM rule would add to existing delays and undercapitalization of federal permitting. Another area of concern is the BLM’s effort to grant variances to allow compliance with state or tribal requirements when those meet or exceed the federal rule or standard. What is troubling is that the ability to acquire variance is given to operators, not states or tribes. “Despite BLM’s contention that states will be afforded opportunity to work with the BLM to craft a variance, the mechanism in the rule only allows operators to pursue a variance,” Governor Mead wrote.

The Governor requests a reconsideration of this provision and that the BLM not expand its administrative footprint in Wyoming. “Wyoming has led the nation in regulating hydraulic fracturing, and the BLM should allow us to continue that leadership,” Governor Mead said.
Source: http://governor.wy.gov/media/pressReleases/Pages/GovernorTakesPrideinWyoming%E2%80%99sLeadershiponHydraulicFracturingandWantsitRecognized.aspx

The Republican Party Now Wants States To Seize Public Lands For Drilling And Mining

Where are wild horses?™

Cross-posted from Think Progress

By Jessica Goad
February 11, 2014

At its Winter Meeting in late January, the Republican National Committee, the primary organizing and fundraising arm of the Republican Party, passed a series of resolutions, including one endorsing a “pro-life strategy” and another calling on members of Congress and Governors to “explain…burdensome federal regulations” to the public.

But in a surprising move for a party that is struggling to restore its appeal to moderate voters, the RNC also endorsed a fringe, right-wing campaign by some local officials to seize federal lands, turn them over to Western states, and further expand mining and drilling. The RNC resolved that:

 

[It] calls upon the federal government to honor to all willing western states the same statehood promise to transfer title to the public lands that it honored with all states east of Colorado; and …calls upon all national and state leaders and representatives to exert their utmost power and influence to urge the imminent transfer of public lands to all willing western states for the benefit of these western states and for the nation as a whole.

The RNC’s resolution follows the re-emergence of the so-called “Sagebrush Rebellion” of the late 1970s that swept the western United States in a wave of anti-government fervor. Today, a small group of local officials and state legislators are reviving this effort. In March 2012, for example, Governor Gary Herbert of Utah (R) signed a bill demanding that the U.S. Congress turn federal public lands over to the state by 2015, or the state will sue (legislators have appropriated $3 million of taxpayer money to fight this legal battle). Similar efforts are underway in Idaho, New Mexico, Montana, and other states.

Although the RNC’s resolution presents thoroughly debunked constitutional arguments to justify the seizure of federal lands, the real goal of the effort appears to be to dramatically expand drilling and mining of fossil fuels on federal lands — but without federal environmental protections and with profits going exclusively to corporations and states, rather than federal taxpayers.

There is ample evidence that control of fossil fuel reserves is the real purpose of the land seizure movement. The RNC’s resolution, for example, says that the federal government takes “10 times longer to approve energy development permits than states” and that “that there is more than $150 trillion in mineral value locked up in federally controlled land.”

American Lands Council

Additionally, the website of the American Lands Council, run by Utah state representative Ken Ivory (R), states explicitly on its front page that “More oil than Saudi Arabia…and the rest of the world combined locked up in federal lands — locking up jobs, economic growth and opportunity not only in the west but throughout the nation!”

These state efforts can be traced to corporate front groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has drafted model legislation for states eager to engage in such efforts. Additionally, Americans for Prosperity — funded by Koch money — has promoted the issue.

Many legal scholars believes state land seizure movements are constitutionally indefensible, because when states entered the Union, the federal government assumed the rights over federal public lands. According to the Congressional Research Service, the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution “gives Congress authority over federal property generally, and the Supreme Court has described Congress’s power to legislate under this Clause as ‘without limitation.’” And, Utah’s own Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel, said that Utah’s legislation had “a high probability of being declared unconstitutional.”

John Leshy, a legal scholar who was the Solicitor of the U.S. Department of the Interior under President Clinton, noted that “Legally, it’s a ridiculous claim. It would be thrown out in federal court in five seconds…[and] is all just about cranky, symbolic politics.”

Notwithstanding the RNC’s endorsement, land seizure movements in the West run counter to the feelings of Western voters. In fact, only 30 percent of respondents in a poll last year believed that “too much public land” was a serious problem. And 71 percent of Westerners oppose selling-off public lands to corporations for development.

#DontFrackCA Join us today in Sacramento!

 

TODAY’S THE DAY for the biggest Anti-Fracking rally in California’s history! THOUSANDS of Anti-Fracking Activists & Concerned Californians are making the trek to Sacramento to tell Governor Brown and his administration one thing: #DontFrackCA! We’ll be hearing from voices from all over the state who are witnessing fracking in their own communities and organizing against it. A broad coalition of groups have come together to demand an end to fracking in California. We hope to see you there & Bring your friends!! Don’t forget to TWEET (#DontFrackCA, #fracking) while you’re making history!!

What: Don’t Frack California Rally and March
Where: The Capitol Lawn, L between 10th and 12th streets, Sacramento, CA
When: Saturday, March 15th, 2014, 1pm
Sign Up: dontfrackcalifornia.org
For Buses & Rideshares: Check out the State-wide rideboard at dontfrackcalifornia.org/rideboard
More info: dontfrackcalifornia.org
Click Here to Share the Info on Facebook & Tweet about Us! #DontFrackCA, #fracking

America’s wild horses are being pushed off public land to reduce environmental roadblocks to fracking as seen in GASLAND Part 2. Join us to say “No!” to fracking!

We’re experiencing the worst drought in the history of CA. Communities are struggling to know where their water is coming from. And, what is the solution to the administration of Governor Brown? A call to the conservation of its citizens, not the big oil and gas. Join us TODAY in Sacramento to demand an end to #fracking in our state!

If you can’t make it then Tweet and RT #DontFrackCA and share out the petition Don’t Frack Wild Horse Areas https://www.change.org/petitions/sen-dianne-feinstein-don-t-frack-wild-horse-areas Thank you!

 

Josh Fox (GASLAND) and Anne Novak (Protect Mustangs) at the GASLAND Part 2 preview in 2013

 

 

GASLAND Poster HBO Premiere

Lawsuit Filed to Halt Massive Las Vegas Water Grab

Water for wildlife in Nevada including wild horses (Photo © Anne Novak, all rights reserved.)

Water for wildlife in Nevada including wild horses (Photo © Anne Novak, all rights reserved.)

Pipeline Would Dry Up Springs and Wetlands, Hurt Fish, Sage Grouse, Pronghorn and Other Species

LAS VEGAS— The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit in U.S. district court today to halt a right-of-way needed for the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s long-proposed pipeline (commonly known as the “Groundwater Development Project”). If allowed to proceed, the pipeline would siphon more than 27.3 billion gallons of groundwater each year from the desert of eastern Nevada and pump it more than 260 miles to the Las Vegas Valley. The controversial $15.5 billion project would have profound effects on people, wildlife and Nevada’s natural heritage.

“Enough is enough,” said Rob Mrowka, a Nevada-based senior scientist with the Center. “Despite hundreds of pages detailing the unthinkable harm that would be caused by this project, tens of thousands of people signing petitions against it, and setbacks in state district and supreme courts, the Southern Nevada Water Authority and BLM have closed their ears to reason, logic and plain common sense. They need to drop this disastrous water grab.”

The Groundwater Development Project would, by the authority’s own admission, dry up or “adversely affect” more than 5,500 acres of meadows, more than 200 springs, 33 miles of trout streams, and 130,600 acres of sagebrush habitat for sage grouse, mule deer, elk and pronghorn as water tables plunge by 200 feet.

The greater sage grouse is an upland bird species, iconic and completely dependent on sagebrush habitat for its existence; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found the bird to warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act in 2010. Its numbers have plummeted by more than 50 percent in recent decades due to fragmentation and loss of habitat (more of which would occur with the Southern Nevada groundwater pumping project). The Fish and Wildlife Service must make a decision on listing the bird for protections under the Endangered Species Act by 2015 under a settlement agreement with the Center.

At least 25 species of Great Basin springsnails would also be pushed toward extinction, and 14 species of desert fish would be hurt, including the Moapa dace and White River springfish. Frogs and toads would fare little better, with four species severely threatened by the dewatering.

In the lawsuit the Center argues that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management violated the National Environmental Policy Act and Federal Land Policy and Management Act in approving the groundwater development project.

“These laws exist because Americans care about their public lands,” said Mrowka. “Congress passed these laws to make sure our public lands are managed on the basis of multiple-use, to protect irreplaceable cultural and natural resources for current and future generations. They exist so that the needs of future generations of Americans can be taken into account — not just short-term economic growth and greed.”

The suit asserts the agencies failed to analyze impacts from permanently and irreversibly impairing the water springs, groundwater wetlands and wildlife habitat in the project area; failed to consider climate change; failed to adequately disclose how the project would comply with requirements of the Clean Water Act; and failed to comply with the Resource Management Plan in effect for the area.

Also raised in the lawsuit is the fact that the Water Authority has no rights to water to put into the proposed pipeline. On Dec. 10, 2013, the 7th Judicial District Court of Nevada issued a decision — which had been sought by the Center and allies in the Great Basin Water Network — that stripped the Authority of 83,988 acre-feet per year of groundwater due to severe deficiencies in the analysis that supported the original award of rights. The judge called the water-grab plan “likely the largest interbasin transfer of water in U.S. history.”

The Center has asked the court to order the BLM to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement that addresses the flawed analysis, as well as to enjoin the agency from implementing any part of the project until it can be judged to be in full compliance with the law.

Background
On Dec. 19, 2013, the Center notified the BLM that due to the decision by the district court, the agency must withdraw its “record of decision” for the groundwater development project and reevaluate the proposed project and its purpose and need. Under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, an applicant for a right-of-way for a pipeline must have a valid existing right established under state law, which the Authority in this case does not. The BLM has not responded to the Center’s letter.

The Center has actively opposed this water grab since 2006. In 2010 and 2011 it filed hundreds of formal protests with the Nevada state engineer opposing the award of water rights to the Water Authority; it was these rights that were stripped by the state district court.

The Center is a member of the Great Basin Water Network, formed in 2004, a broad coalition of government agencies, American Indian tribes, organizations and individuals opposed to this groundwater development project of whose board Rob Mrowka is a member. The Water Network will also file suit against the pipeline right-of-way, as may other individual entities in the Network.

The groundwater development project is projected to cost over $15.5 billion when financing costs are included. The Network is not opposed to water for southern Nevada but instead of a short-term pipeline proposes water be gained from increased indoor and outdoor conservation, reasonable limits to growth, re-evaluating how the Colorado River is managed and used, and long-term solar-powered desalinization of Pacific Ocean water.

The Center is represented by Marc Fink, staff attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, and local counsel, Julie Cavanaugh-Bill of Elko, Nevada.  

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 675,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Fracking’s Terrifying Water Usage Trends Spell Disaster

PM frack_map

Almost half (47%) of all U.S. wells are being developed in regions with high to extremely high water stress. This means that more than 80 percent of the annual available water is already allocated to municipal, industrial and agricultural users in these regions. (Source: Ceres)

 

New study shows that fracking boom is happening in places that can least afford to lose precious water supplies

Jon Queally, staff writer

The irony of fracking: It destroys the natural resource it needs most. The tragedy for those living nearby fracking operations: That natural resource is the fresh—and increasingly scarce—water supply on which they, too, depend.

And not only does fracking—or hydraulic fracturing—demand enormous amounts of fresh water no matter where it takes places, a troubling new study released Wednesday found that a majority of places where the controversial drilling technique is most prevalent are the same regions where less and less water is available.

Overlay the regions where most of the fracking is being done in North American with the places experiencing the most troubling and persistent water resource problems and the resulting picture becomes an alarm bell as politicians and the fossil fuel industry continue to push fracking expansion as the savior for the U.S. and Canada’s energy woes.

According to the report, Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Stress: Water Demand by the Numbers (pdf), produced by the non-profit Ceres investor network, much of the oil and gas fracking activity in both the U.S. and Canada is happening in “arid, water stressed regions, creating significant long-term water sourcing risks” that will strongly and negatively impact the local ecosystem, communities, and people living nearby.

“Hydraulic fracturing is increasing competitive pressures for water in some of the country’s most water-stressed and drought-ridden regions,” said Ceres President Mindy Lubber, in announcing Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Stress: Water Demand by the Numbers. “Barring stiffer water-use regulations and improved on-the-ground practices, the industry’s water needs in many regions are on a collision course with other water users, especially agriculture and municipal water use.”

Richard Heinberg, senior fellow of the California-based Post Carbon Institute and author of a recent book on the “false promise” of the fracking industry, says the irony of the study’s findings “would be delicious if it weren’t so terrifying.”

“Nationally,” according to Heinberg, “only about 50 percent of fracking wastewater is recycled. Billions of gallons of freshwater are still taken from rivers, streams, and wells annually for this purpose, and—after being irremediably polluted—this water usually ends up being injected into deep disposal wells. That means it is no longer available to the hydrological cycle that sustains all terrestrial life.”

Click here to look at Ceres’ interactive map on fracking and water use.

The study drew on industry data detailing water usage from from 39,294 oil and gas wells from January 2011 through May 2013 and compared that information with “water stress indicator maps” developed by the World Resources Institute (WRI).

What it found:

Over 55 percent of the wells hydraulically fractured were in areas experiencing drought and 36 percent overlay regions with significant groundwater depletion – key among those, California which is in the midst of a historic drought and Texas, which has the highest concentration of shale energy development and hydraulic fracturing activity in the U.S.

Specifically:

In Texas, which includes the rapidly developing Eagle Ford and Permian Basin shale plays, more than half (52 percent) of the wells were in high or extreme high water stress areas. In Colorado and California, 97 and 96 percent of the wells, respectively, were in regions with high or extremely high water stress. Nearly comparable trends were also shown in New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Among hundreds of hydraulic fracturing companies whose water use was evaluated, those with the highest exposure to water sourcing risk are Anadarako (APC), Encana (ECA), Pioneer (PXD) and Apache (APA). Most of the wells being developed by each of these companies are in regions of high or extreme water stress. The top three service providers, Halliburton, (HAL) Schlumberger (SLB) and Baker Hughes (BHI), handled about half of the water used for hydraulic fracturing nationally and also face water sourcing risks.

Although water use for hydraulic fracturing is often less than two percent of state water demands, the impacts can be large at the local level, sometimes exceeding the water used by all of the residents in a county.

“It’s a wake-up call,” Professor James Famiglietti, a hydrologist at the University of California, Irvine, told the Guardian. “We understand as a country that we need more energy but it is time to have a conversation about what impacts there are, and do our best to try to minimise any damage.”

The irony of the latest findings, explained Heinberg in an email to Common Dreams, is based on the fact that “much of the fracking boom is centered in the western United States—Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and California—which just happens to be drying up, likely as a result of climate change. And that climate change, in turn, is happening because we’re burning fossil fuels like oil and natural gas.”

Heinberg observed that the Ceres report is largely written from the standpoint of the oil and gas companies—using much of their data—and directed at those who may be invested or would like to invest in the continuation or proliferation of the industry. However, he indicated, detailing the increasing difficulties the industry and its investors are likely to experience in sourcing water for their operations is still valuable for those opposed to fracking.

“In California, where I live,” he said, “we’re experiencing a 500-year drought. The grape-wine industry here in Sonoma County is facing disaster. Farmers in the Central Valley are weighing whether to plant at all this year. The fact that California’s Democratic governor [Jerry Brown] wants to spend what little water we have on fracking—which will only make our climate problems worse—makes the report frighteningly relevant.”

_____________________________________

Comments needed by February 10th against removing wild horses to frack northeastern Nevada

Note from the team at Protect Mustangs:

The Antelope Valley, Maverick Medicine and Goshute herd management areas (HMAs) will be ruined if 73 parcels proposed for lease, totaling approximately 125,000 acres, are taken away from native wild horses.The proposed action will push wild horses off their legal range. BLM will chase them with helicopters–removing them forever from their families and ripping away their freedom.

Follow the instructions in the BLM press release below to email your individual comments to BLM by midnight February 10th.

Request BLM halt the lease sale of areas within the wild horse HMAs slated for oil and gas development. Mention it will cause water, air and soil pollution and increase global warming, lower the water table as well as hurt wild horse territory.

Request a moratorium on roundups for scientific research on wild horse population dynamics and to ensure wild horses will be protected and preserved in freedom.

Use your own words to make your comments count. According to BLM, click and send comments don’t count beyond being one form comment. Email your comments today. Short and sweet is fine as long as you use your own words.

Some residents in northeastern Nevada have forgotten they have been blessed to use public land at subsidy pricing for generations. Now we are witnessing a worrisome trend with the Nevada Farm Bureau and the Nevada Association of Counties wanting to push America’s wild horses and burros off public land to control the water, forage and industrialization. They appear to be requesting BLM kill wild horses in holding to make room for more roundup victims.

It’s time for science to guide policy and for cooperative agreements to foster healthy rangeland and prevent native species wipe outs.

Thank you for sending your comments in today to protect the American public’s wild horses!

Photo credit: dgrinbergs / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: dgrinbergs / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

 

 

BLM Press Release:ELKO, Nev. – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Elko District is making available for public review an Environmental Assessment (EA) for parcels of public land nominated for lease within the Elko District in the 2014 Competitive Oil & Gas Lease Sale. These parcels have the potential for future oil and gas exploration and development. The 30-day public review period concludes Feb. 10, 2014.The BLM received nominations for 214 parcels of public land to offer for leasing, totaling more than 435,880 acres. The BLM deferred several of the nominated parcels to protect sage grouse habitat. Other parcels were removed because of cultural and Native American concerns. A detailed listing of deferred parcels is available in the EA and online. The remaining 73 parcels (125,220 acres) have been analyzed for potential impacts in the EA, in accordance with the Oil & Gas Leasing Reform mandated in 2010. Lease stipulations identified in the Elko (1987) and Wells (1985) Resource Management Plans are attached to all parcels to help protect resources. The EA is available for public review at: http://www.blm.gov/rv5c.The Competitive Oil and Gas Lease Sale will be conducted on June 24, 2014. Additional information about the sale is available at http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/prog/energy.html.If you have issues or concerns or need more information, contact Allen Mariluch, Project Lead at the BLM Elko District, at (775) 753-0200 or email at amariluc@blm.gov.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2013, the BLM generated $4.7 billion in receipts from public lands.
–BLM–