Oil & Gas Business

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

The smells of legalization permeate up and down the valley, and the odor of marijuana has some people plugging their noses and complaining to city officials.

An investigation is brewing around a nonprofit in Glenwood and whether funds were misappropriated.

Meanwhile, there’s more debate on oil and gas drilling in the valley.

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

The Obama administration is requiring oil and gas companies to disclose what’s in their fracking fluid. How is that going to shake out in Garfield County?

Did a town hall meeting hosted by this station on the controversial and confusing charter amendment known as “Keep Aspen Aspen” shed light on the issue enough that voters are convinced one way or the other?

Meanwhile, down in Carbondale a woman who used to co-own a NBA basketball team is suing the IRS for $21 million.

Mountain Edition - March 19th, 2015

Mar 19, 2015

Welcome to Mountain Edition.

Elected leaders in Aspen choose a brewery - slash - small business incubator to fill the city-owned Old Power House.

Unstable snow on local ski slopes prompts the Aspen Skiing Company to temporarily close terrain.

A professional cross country ski racer is home from the World Championships. Aspen’s Simi Hamilton looks back on his season.

There won’t be a sentence for a fatal highway 133 crash for another month.

We hear from the head of Colorado’s largest oil and gas organization about why she’s leaving her post.

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.

Trying to get more information on the health impact of oil and gas drilling is a topic that lawmakers will soon be taking up at the statehouse. It comes after the Governor's Oil and Gas Task Force finished their work and issued several health related recommendations.

"I get a little bit concerned and annoyed when people try to use health as the basis of what they don't like about oil and gas," said Dr. Larry Wolk the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment.

He said he understands the concern, but worries the state doesn't have enough hard data.

Mountain Edition - March 5th, 2015

Mar 5, 2015

Good afternoon, welcome to Mountain Edition.

Bus drivers in the Roaring Fork Valley vote to unionize.

Aspen law enforcement is violating a no-idling ordinance.

A Carbondale man accused of murdering his wife appears in court.

An Aspen teenager pleads guilty to pot-related charges.

A major employer in Garfield County announces layoffs.

High profile fatalities in Garfield County highlight a problem with domestic violence.

A more detailed avalanche report is out, about the accident that killed a long time Aspen local.

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?

Speakers With Differing Views at Glenwood Springs Energy Forum

Feb 23, 2015

  The topic of energy can be a hot potato, whether the conversation is about how to regulate it or what kinds are best for the environment. The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association is dipping a toe into those waters with what’s called the Energy Forum on Thursday. The event has two main speakers, who represent a range of opinions in the Roaring Fork Valley. Christopher Guith is with the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C, and Energy Engineer Mike Ogburn is with the Carbondale nonprofit Clean Energy Economy for the Region, or CLEER. Reporter Elise Thatcher talks with them both.

Mountain Edition - January 29th, 2015

Jan 29, 2015

Welcome to Mountain Edition.

Warm temperatures are boosting river levels and disappointing skiers. We’ll tell you what’s ahead in the forecast.

Low oil and gas prices are good for consumers but tough on companies drilling in Western Colorado.

Despite an oil and gas slowdown, a new analysis shows hundreds of spills are still being reported.

Aspen residents are gathering signatures to get a measure on the ballot that would require voter-approval of some development projects.

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 22nd, 2015

Jan 22, 2015

Garfield County Air Study at Midpoint

An ongoing study measuring air emissions from natural gas operations in Garfield County is about half complete.

Doctor Jeff Collett of Colorado State University delivered an update to the Garfield County Commissioners Tuesday. The County and “industry partners” are funding the $1.8 million study. Field work started in 2013. Researchers are working with companies like WPX and Encana to measure emissions from drilling, fracking and flow-back operations.

So far, Collett says the study has produced 16 successful experiments that are being analyzed. There have been challenges.

“The amount of new wells going in has decreased with the decrease in the price of natural gas. And some constraints in terms of site suitability. A lot of the development of new wells now happens at topographically complex sites. So these have slowed measurements a bit over what we would have opened.”

Collett hopes to produce a total of 24 successful experiments by the end of 2015, when the study is slated to be complete.

Your Evening News - January 21st, 2015

Jan 21, 2015

Aspen Reviewing Powerhouse Plans

The five finalists to fill a city owned building in Aspen will find out in March whether they’ve been chosen. The City is in its final stretch of its process to find a tenant for the Old Power House.

The finalists for the space include a brewery, a science center, a media “powerhouse,” a performance and event center and a proposal called “The Gathering Place.”

Right now, the groups are answering a series of questions such as how they would use the building, whether it’ll create center of community and if there’s a market for the services offered. Assistant City Manager Barry Crook says City Council prioritized the criteria.

“How would you produce a memory making experience that would have a visitor relating their visit to others in an enthusiastic way? Why is this location necessary to your plan? How would you activate the grounds, integrate it with the existing trail system and the river?”

The previous tenant, the Aspen Art Museum, paid just a dollar a year in rent. City Council hasn’t decided whether a new tenant will be charged the same price. Council is scheduled to choose a new tenant by the end of March.

Your Morning News - January 19th, 2015

Jan 19, 2015

First Aspen Council & Mayoral Candidates Announce

The first candidate for an open Aspen City Council seat has emerged.

Former Affordable Housing chief Tom McCabe has confirmed he plans to run for city council in May. McCabe retired as Director of the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority last October. McCabe says he would bring his expertise on how the city operates and likely focus on housing issues. He served one term on Aspen City Council in the early 2000s.

It is also likely Aspen's Mayoral race will have a challenger in the ballot. Former city councilman Torre told Aspen Public Radio this weekend that his intention is to run in the May election. He plans to formally announce his candidacy next month. It would be Torre's fifth attempt at the Mayor’s office.

Your Evening News - January 16th, 2015

Jan 16, 2015

Explore Booksellers Bought by Non-Profit Group

Aspen’s Explore Booksellers has a new owner. A corporation under the umbrella of the Public Interest Network purchased the historic building and book business for five million dollars. The sale closed earlier today.

The bookstore opened as usual on Friday, but with new owners. Previous owners Sam and Cheryl Wyly listed the property in June. Since then, efforts have formed around preserving the business – Aspen’s only bookstore.

The Public Interest Network stepped in and the sale was finalized Friday. Real estate broker Bob Ritchie represented the buyers.

“Right now they plan to operate it exactly how it’s been operated. They’ve rehired all of the same employees.”

Karen Setterfield is the real estate agent who worked with the sellers.

“I call it a win-win-win. It’s good for the buyer, the seller, it’s good for the community, it’s good for the bookstore and the property and it’s good for Pyramid Bistro, the tenant in the property.”

Ritchie says the new owners plan to bring to Explore interesting speakers and talks, and deepen ties with the Aspen Institute.

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."

Your Morning News - January 12th, 2015

Jan 12, 2015

Basalt Police Seek Suspect in Robbery

Basalt Police are looking for a man who robbed a liquor store in Old Town. Jimbo’s Wine and Liquor on Basalt Center Circle was robbed just before 10 o’clock Friday night. The suspect was wearing a stocking cap and a black ski mask. He took out a knife and told a store employee to open the cash register then left with the cash.

Police describe the suspect as a white male, about five-foot-eight with a medium build and brown eyes. The department is reviewing video surveillance and encouraging anyone with information to contact them.

Your Evening News - January 9th, 2015

Jan 9, 2015

Easier Complaint System for Oil & Gas Operations

It’s now easier to file a complaint about oil and gas operations. Colorado regulators today announced a streamlined complaint system they say is more transparent.

Regulators say the previous process wasn’t transparent enough and that translated into wasting staff time. Workers were focused on filling out forms and sometimes multiple staff members were working on the same complaint without even knowing it. Dave Kulmann is Deputy Director of Field Operations for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. He says with the tremendous boom in oil and gas activity on the Front Range, there’s been a change in the kind of complaints, too.

“The complaints are more complex. They’re multiple issues within one complaint, so it’s taking longer for us to actually process and resolve a complaint and communicate the results back.”

Kulmann describes the new complaint process as part of the agency’s evolution to do a better job keeping an eye on the industry.

Mountain Edition - January 8th, 2015

Jan 8, 2015

Good afternoon and welcome to Mountain Edition.

The upper Roaring Fork Valley saw a dramatic rescue this week, after three elk fell into an icy pond.

A local ski guide gets caught in an avalanche; it’s a reminder that avalanche season is in full-swing.

A new climate report shows Aspen has seen temperatures warm over the last several decades.

Much larger fines are looming for oil and gas companies who don’t follow the law.

And, Basalt inches closer to deciding how to redevelop parts of downtown.

Today on CrossCurrents - last month, the federal government released the new Record of Decision on oil and gas leasing on the White River National Forest.  Guests are Will Roush of the Wilderness Workshop and Zane Kessler from the Thompson Divide Coalition.



Your Evening News - December 12th, 2014

Dec 12, 2014

Fracking Fluids Study

Scientists are trying to learn a lot more about effects of oil and gas drilling and a new report is looking chiefly at fracking fluids.

Researchers with Colorado State University looked at the most toxic chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. Scientists reviewed all the existing research to see how those chemicals travel in the natural environment, how long they last, and whether they post a risk to human health. They found that most of the more toxic chemicals are also used in other industrial and commercial work. More than half are particularly dangerous to humans, or could be over time. And they’re most likely to pollute the environment during surface spills.

Scientists also came up with recommendations for urgently needed research. One example is what happens to the chemicals when they’re injected deep into the ground.