Fracking: Call For Ban Cites Quakes, Spills, Exploding Trains

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Only days before the United Nations Climate Summit, the environmental group Food & Water Watch has released a wide-ranging critique of the oil and gas industry, linking the practice of fracking to a host of adverse economic, health and climate impacts -- from scarred landscapes, declining air quality and community disruption to potential aquifer contamination, earthquakes and, yes, global warming.

Call it a conflation of real dangers and hypothetical risks, genuine concerns and apocalyptic visions, worst-case scenarios and sobering statistics.

See also: John Hickenlooper's Fracking Panel Snubs the Fractivists

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John Hickenlooper's Fracking Panel Snubs the Fractivists

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Colorado Springs No Fracking Zone Facebook Page
One of the sentiments that won't be discussed by the governor's new task force.
Earlier this week, when Governor John Hickenlooper announced the names of the nineteen people selected for a special oil and gas task force intended to address fracking-related land use and health issues across the state, he boasted of the group's "balanced and informed representation." It was as if he was introducing one of those ethnically diverse platoons from old War War II movies: the Italian from the Bronx, the Polish kid from Chicago, the hillbilly from Georgia, the farm boy from Ohio, the Navajo scout, the cigar-chomping noncom from Anytown, USA.

Depending on when they were made, those movies frequently left somebody out of the rainbow commandos -- the Latino, the Asian guy, almost certainly the African American (racial desegregation didn't become U.S. military policy until 1948). And Hickenlooper's group neatly excludes any of the folks who prompted its creation: Conspicuously absent from the task force is anyone who was actively involved in the recent slew of campaigns to promote more local control over fracking and impose bans on drilling in several Front Range cities.

See also: How Colorado became ground zero in America's energy wars

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Colorado Protected the Wrong Trout for Years: Can We Save the Greenback Cutthroat Now?

Categories: Environment

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Courtesy of Doug Krieger
An estimated 500 to 700 greenback cutthroat trout live in Bear Creek.
These are the tools you'll need to extract sperm from some of the rarest trout in the world: a towel, a small glass dish like those used on cooking shows to hold chopped ingredients, gloves, fish tranquilizers and your thumb.

On a recent day, no fewer than ten biologists, staff members and volunteers wearing waterproof waders and various shades of park-ranger khaki gather at the Leadville National Fish Hatchery to do just that. The inside of the historic building is chilly and loud due to the constant rush of water cascading into the open-top fish troughs.

See also: How Colorado Became Ground Zero in America's Energy Wars

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Fracking Compromise: Savvy Solution or Sellout?

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There's plenty of back-patting going on today in the smoke-free back rooms where politics thrives like spores in agar, after an eleventh-hour deal was forged by Governor John Hickenlooper, Representative Jared Polis and others to remove four initiatives dealing with oil and gas development from the November ballot. The move short-circuits what promised to be a costly and ugly campaign, with plenty of heated rhetoric and exaggerated claims on both sides. But the relief among industry interests hailing this "balanced" compromise is more than matched by the bitterness of grassroots anti-fracking groups, howling that Polis and the "Fracker in Chief" are giving us the business -- again.

See also: "Single Fracking Waste Well Blamed for Hundreds of Low-Level Quakes"

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Single fracking waste well blamed for hundreds of low-level quakes

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A single injection well in Weld County, used to dispose of millions of gallons of produced water from fracking operations, has been linked to 500 minor earthquakes in the area over a seven-week period since early June, according to University of Colorado researchers who've been monitoring seismic activity around the site. But whether that figure is something to get shook up about is, like many other issues surrounding Colorado's booming oil and gas industry, a matter of some debate.

See also: "How Colorado became ground zero in America's energy wars"


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Alamosa "healthy living park" moves ahead, RV park nixed

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A photo from the Rio Grande Healthy Living Park Facebook page.
Backers of a proposed "healthy living park" in Alamosa, who saw their efforts last year to acquire former school property in a prime location frustrated by a controversial deal that put the property in the hands of an RV park developer for substantially less than its appraised value, have settled a lawsuit over the transaction and managed to purchase the property from the developer. The transaction offers the prospect that an agricultural-themed community park will some day be a reality on the 38-acre site.

See also: How Alamosa's garden plot got paved over

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Video: Fractivists attack -- with a camera -- in Dear Governor Hickenlooper

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Fractivist Shane Davis, narrator of the documentary "Dear Governor Hickenlooper." Video below.
This week's cover story, "Frack Attack!," explores the increasingly ambitious anti-fracking movement in Colorado, a state with plenty of oil and gas wells and plenty of people who want to shut 'em down. One sign of the movement's increasing sophistication is the production of a contentious new documentary, Dear Governor Hickenlooper, that's anything but a love letter to the gov. Former geologist Hickenlooper is, of course, a major defender of the state's gung-ho drilling activities -- and a major opponent of the fractivists' efforts to give local governments more authority over regulation of the wells in their midst.

See also: Colorado fracking activists get a nudge (and cash) from MoveOn

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WildEarth Guardians lawsuit charges Western Sugar with polluting the South Platte

Categories: Environment

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The South Platte.
WildEarth Guardians probably wouldn't advise you to take a family day trip to the South Platte River anytime soon.

The grassroots environmental group is accusing a sugar-processing mill of illegally dumping harmful pollutants into the river.

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Denver B-cycle takes it to the streets with new station by Galvanize

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Thomas Mitchell
Mayor Hancock praised the efforts of Galvanize co-founder Jim Deters and Denver B-cycle executive director Nick Bohnenkamp (far right).
Denver B-cycle launched a new station Wednesday on Delaware Street and 11th Avenue, but this one has B-cycle executive director Nick Bohnenkamp feeling giddier than the previous eighty locations. "This is Denver's first on-street bike station," Bohnenkamp explained during Tuesday's opening ceremony with Denver mayor Michael Hancock "That might not mean much to a lot of people, but if you work with transportation, this is a big deal."


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Fracking: 4,900 Colorado spills since 2000 -- and here's how to map ones near you

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Proponents of more local control over oil and gas drilling in Colorado are gearing up to spend millions on a slew of ballot measures this fall, and no less an authority than Representative Jared Polis (the anti-fracking movement's poster boy) estimates that the energy industry will spend as much as $50 million trying to defeat those measures. So how is the beleaguered voter supposed to cut through the blizzard of hype on both sides and get some hard data on the industry's track record in this much-fracked state?

No easy task, to be sure, but the folks at the conservation-minded Center for Western Priorities have come up with a tool that could very well come in handy this election season: an interactive map plotting oil and natural gas spills in Colorado and New Mexico over more than a decade.

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