oil and gas

Low natural gas prices are prompting a major Garfield County producer to cut back on drilling even more. Tulsa-based WPX Energy is downshifting to one rig in the Garfield County area. 

Kathleen Tadvick/Colorado Parks and Wildlife

There’s a debate happening about how to manage a chicken-like bird that calls part of Garfield County home. Last week county commissioners submitted a 1000 page package to the Bureau of Land Management. The agency’s drawing up a plan for how to protect the greater sage grouse whose population is shrinking. County officials fear protection could mean strict regulations for the oil and gas industry.

Bureau of Land Management, White River Office

The Bureau of Land Management has released its proposed changes to an oil and gas management plan that would affect part of northern Garfield County. The BLM’s amendment to the White River Field Office Resource Management Plan aims to reduce the impact of increased oil and gas production. That would be for an area spanning 1.7 million acres. Besides Garfield County, the area includes parts of Rio Blanco and Moffat Counties. 

The executive director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, Tisha Schuller, recently announced that she's leaving the state's largest trade organization for the energy industry.

In a statement released by COGA, Schuller said it was a "wild ride" and that she was honored to have represented the state's oil industry. While remaining in her position until the end of May, Schuller sat down to talk about the future of the industry and why she decided to leave her position.

YouTube/River of Eden

The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies is holding its first-ever film festival on Wednesday. The thirteen films featured are meant to connect people with their environment and inspire advocacy. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

“River of Eden” is one of the films in the festival. Basalt-based photographer Pete McBride traveled to Fiji for the film.

Welcome to Valley Roundup, a review of the top news stories in the valley in the past week.

Aspen lost another longtime local in avalanche. And this week marks the first anniversary of the murder of Aspen native Nancy Pfister.

Municipal elections are coming up in Glenwood Springs and Aspen. This year, it’s all mail-in. But in Aspen, you can still vote in a traditional way at two polling places.

Meanwhile, Aspen City Council is countering a citizen ballot measure on development limitations. Will it just confuse voters more?

Your Evening News - January 27th, 2015

Jan 27, 2015

Customer Airs Concerns About Glenwood Hot Springs

Garfield County officials are not asking the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool and Lodge to change sanitary measures after a bacteria complaint.

Last summer, the therapy pool at the hot springs tested positive for a bacteria that isn’t regulated by the state or federal government. It’s one of the causes of hot tub rash, but is dangerous only for people with weaker immune systems, like cancer patients. Josh Williams is Garfield County environmental health manager and explains his review of the hot springs’ regular efforts to keep facilities clean.

“I mean their monitoring and tracking of that is above and beyond the required testing is for bacterial contamination. Which is a good indicator that they take it very seriously,” says Josh Williams.

The possible issue of bacteria recently came to light after a local resident this past fall complained of ongoing severe intestinal sickness. She publicly complained this week, saying government officials aren’t doing enough to prevent it from happening again. Garfield County says the bacteria is naturally occurring, though also the leading cause of hospital infections. Aspen Public Radio is waiting for comment from the Glenwood Hot Springs.

Elise Thatcher

Oil and gas companies were responsible for over seven hundred spills in Colorado last year.  There were 128 in Garfield County-- making up nearly twenty percent of accidents statewide.  That’s according to a review of public data by the Denver nonprofit, Center for Western Priorities.   A spokesman for the agency that oversees oil and gas development in Colorado, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, is "neither endorsing nor challenging" the report.  APR’s Elise Thatcher talks with CWP's Policy Director Greg Zimmerman, who points out the spills released more than a million gallons of oil and other chemicals into the environment.

Your Morning News - January 27th, 2015

Jan 27, 2015

Aspen Approves Molly Gibson Lodge Plans

Aspen City Council approved a proposal to redevelop the Molly Gibson Lodge, last night. That includes building two single-family homes on a vacant lot next door. The plan is to demolish the existing lodge and replace it with a new three-story structure. City Council member Art Daily echoed a general sentiment among officials.

“I think it’s really very important to our community, this reconstruction of the lodge. I like the balance. And the single family homes, I think that they actually fit the context of the neighborhood in which they’re being placed.”

The new lodge will have 68 rooms and one affordable housing unit.

Council members decided to wait until the coming months to review lodging proposals from downtown developer Mark Hunt. Hunt is proposing two affordable hotels, but some council members and residents have raised questions about whether they’re a good idea.

Those decisions Monday night came after a heated debate about how City Concil should respond to a proposed ballot initiative. The locally organized effort would strip power from Council and put it in the hands of voters for development that wouldn’t follow land use code. In response, council members decided to consider making some changes this Spring to Aspen’s land use code.

While oil and gas development is a hot topic, state legislators are waiting for a report from the Governor's Oil and Gas Task Force, mostly holding off on introducing energy related bills. The task force is charged with crafting recommendations to help mitigate the impacts of drilling to communities, and harmonize local and state regulations.

"I have told some members of the task force, you don't have to send something if there's not a problem," said Senator Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling). "I want to know before you send me a solution, the problem we're trying to fix. And if you can't agree on a problem, don't send me legislation just because you're a task force."