UPDATE: Mary Talbott, a Colorado Springs resident who has watched the city's oil and gas regulation process like a hawk, has analyzed the proposed Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission rules and takes issue with several points in an e-mail to us. Among them:
1. The proposed rule doesn't mandate water testing if wells aren't available in the vicinity, and it doesn't require that monitoring wells be drilled.
—Talbott wants water testing mandated.
2. The proposed rule essentially doesn't require water to be re-sampled if water was tested within 18 months prior to drilling the production well or an injection well, which is used to dispose of waste from the drilling process.
—Talbott's take: "It appears to me that the COGCC assumes that no contamination or changes in the condition of water can occur in 18 months or less. To assume that there has been no change is unreasonable, and this section should be deleted."
3. Water testing results, under the proposed rule, are to be posted to the COGCC website "or through another means announced to the public." The proposed rule also requires the COGCC to provide the test results to the Local Government Designee, a local official who oversees oil and gas activity, "upon request."
—Talbott says, "Under all circumstances the test results should be posted on the COGCC website on the documents page for the appropriate well...." She also says the LGD should be given the report automatically and not have to request the results.
4. The proposed rule on the distance between wells and homes and high-occupancy buildings is stricter than the existing rule, which requires 350 feet in most cases.
—Talbott says that's not good enough. "The proposed changes to the setback rules do not go far enough to protect people," she says. "Given the information that continues to emerge about the health impacts of air emissions, the setbacks proposed ... are inadequate."
———ORIGINAL POST MONDAY, DEC. 31, 5:09 P.M.———
The required distance between homes and drilling rigs would grow, and underground water supplies would require pre-drilling tests (as well as tests after the drilling operation shuts down), under proposed rules issued today by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC).
The state agency says if adopted as proposed, the updated rules would be the most stringent in the nation.
It's likely the rules will have an impact on how oil and gas exploration will take place in Colorado Springs, because COGCC rules preempt most local rules, including those related to water quality and setbacks, and City Council members have expressed a desire to hold off adopting its drilling ordinance until the state addresses certain issues.
Council approved the ordinance on first reading Nov. 27. After many residents expressed disdain with the decision, Council postponed its second reading until a work session is held on Tuesday, Jan. 15, from 3 to 6 p.m. at City Hall, 107 N. Nevada Ave. Council would then vote on the proposed ordinance at a meeting later in the month. However, that might get held up if Council wants to wait to see what the state does.
The issue is hot because Ultra Resources of Houston bought 18,000 acres of the Banning Lewis Ranch on the city's east side in 2011, and has been waiting for the city to adopt rules for drilling so it can find out what lies below. Ultra thinks the productive Niobrara Shale, which extends through northern Colorado and southern Wyoming, reaches into El Paso County.
The state's proposed rules will be reviewed by COGCC commissioners on Jan. 7, 8 and 9 at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, 1550 Court Place, starting at 9 a.m. each day. The commission is comprised of people across Colorado with expertise in environmental wildlife protection, agriculture, soil conservation, oil and gas production and regulatory oversight.
The commission may accept the proposed rules as written or modify them or pursue entirely different options.
Here's the news release:
State oil and gas regulators today completed groundbreaking proposals for groundwater protection and the reduction of drilling impacts near homes for consideration next week before the nine-member Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
The draft rules follow months of stakeholder meetings and public participation, including nearly a year of presentations and comment on the issue of how best to balance energy production with the need to minimize impacts on residences from nearby oil and gas development.
The two sets of rules were developed with extensive input from local governments, farmers and ranchers, the environmental community, homeowners, the energy industry, homebuilders, mineral owners, environmental health specialists and business leaders. COGCC staff has spent much of 2012 engaging these stakeholders in order to develop rules that protect the public health and environment while providing the flexibility needed to allow for production of energy that all Coloradans depend upon in everyday life, creates and sustains thousands of jobs and is critical to the state’s economy.
“These proposed rules reinforce Colorado’s role as a national pacesetter in the comprehensive and progressive regulation of oil and gas exploration and production,” said Matt Lepore, director of the COGCC, the state’s regulatory agency that staffs the Governor-appointed Commission. “These proposals contain mitigation standards unprecedented nationally and mark yet another step forward in fashioning a model regulatory framework that strikes a balance that’s right for Colorado.”
“At the same time, we understand that our draft rules will leave no one set of interests completely satisfied, and provide various targets for those who want to see it done differently,” Lepore said. “And yet, we expect most everyone who participated will see elements and concepts in these proposals that they helped initiate and push forward.”
Components of the proposals include:
—The new rules will require operators to meet enhanced mitigation, notice and outreach requirements when drilling near residences beginning at 1,000 feet. Setbacks in previous rules of 350 feet (urban) and 150 feet (rural) will now be 500 feet statewide.
—New measures to limit impacts may include pit-less drilling, steel berms and underground liners, strict dust and lighting controls and capture of gasses to reduce odors and emissions.
—Operators must engage in expanded notice and outreach efforts with nearby residents and conduct additional engagement with local governments about proposed operations.
—Operators must conduct sampling of water wells near drilling sites both before and after drilling activities to ensure drinking water aquifers are protected. This would make Colorado the only state to require sampling both pre- and post-drilling.
—Operators cannot operate within 1,000 feet of buildings housing larger numbers of people, such as schools, nursing homes and hospitals without a hearing before the Commission.
We tried to reach the Colorado Oil and Gas Association for a comment, but couldn't reach anyone. When we hear back, we'll post again.
A note from Indy general manager Carrie Simison-Bitz:
As we prepared to close the Indy offices today at 5:30 p.m., Give! had raised $659,543 from 7,362 unique donors. However, the Give! countdown continues until midnight tonight*, New Year's Eve. The goal is to raise $800,000 for 58 deserving Pikes Peak-area nonprofits.
If you have a little extra money to spare, an impassioned itch you need scratched, or you just want to be one of the 7,000-plus people who helped make Give! 2012 an enormous success, please visit indygive.com before MIDNIGHT tonight. The minimum donation is $10, and $50 or more lets you select a package of great rewards for yourself or to give away.
Just make sure you are at the donation page before MIDNIGHT so your donation counts!
And please accept our thanks. The Pikes Peak region has again shown great generosity and caring in supporting the amazing nonprofits that make our village a better place to live and play.
*When indygive.com freezes at midnight, the numbers will not quite be final. We still have to apply any mailed donations that were postmarked by today, and around $300,000 in earned matching and challenge grants. By early next week, we should have a complete accounting of Give! 2012.
• In Wednesday's Independent we've got an interview with Colorado Springs Rep. Mark Waller on what's coming up for the third attempt at passing legislation that codifies how much THC can be in the blood of Colorado's drivers. In the meantime, though, the Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction has a pretty good look at what's happening.
"Under the justice committee bill that [Sen. Steve] King and incoming House Minority Leader Mark Waller are to introduce, the bill will call for a 5-nanogram standard, but make it a 'rebuttable inference' law," writes Charles Ashby. "That’s legalese for something that’s not quite certain, and therefore, rebuttable with expert testimony in a court of law."
• The first marijuana-focused private establishment opened today in Denver at 4:20 p.m. Club 64, the Denver Post reports, will disclose various meeting sites to its members via its website, which people can apply to join for $29.99 (payable via PayPal).
The rules around cannabis clubs have yet to take shape, which becomes all the more clear in this pure-gold passage detailing the full-circle run around the reporter, Electa Draper, got from a string of government officials.
"Nothing in the amendment language permits consuming (marijuana) openly and publicly," said Mark Couch, spokesman for the state Task Force on the Implementation of Amendment 64.
The rules on any clubs or lounges, Couch said, "will be sorted out in the months ahead by legislators, law enforcement and the task force." He suggested law enforcement should be contacted for clarification.
Denver Police spokesman Sonny Jackson said the department would have to consult with city attorneys. Denver Assistant City Attorney David Broadwell said he had no comment, except the city awaits further guidance from the state.
State Attorneys General Office spokeswoman Carolyn Tyler said the task force should be asked questions related to implementation of Amendment 64.
Procrastinators unite! (Well, you know ... eventually ... at some point ... just, whenever you get around to it ...)
Cheers to you, who ignored our New Year's Eve recommendations in last week's Indy only to start stressin' now about what to do tonight.
Well, at this late hour, a quick scan of Facebook and Twitter reveals a few special dinners with seats still available, plus a couple other food-and-drink-related options fishing for your attention.
In no particular order, here are seven informative screen-grabs:
People like to say that New Year's Eve is often Amateur Night, for either party hosts or guests. Well, for however much that's true, if you want to tie one on properly tonight, at least don't be amateur about your transportation.
As it usually does on NYEs and Cinco de Mayos, McDivitt Law Firm is offering free cab rides for adults from 10 p.m. today through 3 a.m. tomorrow. All you have to do is call, order your cab and say the ride is on the law firm. For Colorado Springs, holler at Yellow Cab at 777-7777 or City Cab for Pueblo and Pueblo West at 719/543-2525.
OATH OF OFFICE ceremony for El Paso County commissioners and county and 4th Judicial District judges:
8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8 at Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave.:
Taking the oath are commissioners Amy Lathen, Sallie Clark and Dennis Hisey, who were elected in November. Clark and Hisey were elected to a third term, even as voters passed a measure dialing back maximum four-year terms to two.
Judicial District judges include Theresa Cisneros, Timothy Schutz, Scott Sells, Larry Schwartz, David Shakes and Robert Lowrey.
County court judges include Laura Findorff, Karla Hansen and Dan Wilson.
MEETING ABOUT hydrofracturing, a process used in oil and gas development:
6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8, at Old Town Bike Shop, 426 S. Tejon St.:
Speakers include Wes Wilson and Phil Doe.
According to a media announcement, Wilson "is the man who exposed the Halliburton loophole in the Clean Water Act exempting the oil and gas industry from reporting the chemicals used in the hydrofracturing or fracking process during oil and gas development."
Doe is retired from the Bureau of Land Management, and his specialty is water. He will speak about the cost of of cleaning up contaminated water at the shuttered Rocky Mountain Arsenal in Commerce City.
Space is limited to 100 people. To reserve a spot, RSVP by this Saturday by calling 475-8589 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and return contact information.
STATE OF THE STATE delivered by Gov. John Hickenlooper:
Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 11, followed by the program at 9 a.m., at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St.
There's no charge, but seating is limited. Call 884-2832 for information, or register here. Deadline is Thursday, Jan. 10. The event is sponsored by the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance.
CITY COUNCIL oil and gas work session:
3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15, City Hall, 107 N. Nevada Ave. Topics include air quality, inspectors and enforcement, updates, water availability, water quality and zoning and setbacks. The public is welcome but won't be permitted to comment.
Council has approved a new oil and gas regulation ordinance on first reading but has stalled final approval until a public meeting that will take place later in January.
Earlier this week, we blogged an update on the Over the River project, which, for now, hangs on the decisions of three separate lawsuits.
On Friday, we spoke with Joan Anzelmo, spokesperson for Rags Over the Arkansas River, Over the River’s main opposition group. ROAR has filed one of the three suits, theirs against the Bureau of Land Management for violating
state federal law in allowing the project.
However, before ROAR’s suit can continue, an administrative appeal through the Interior Board of Land Appeals must be decided. (This is an entirely separate affair, in which the board will decide if the BLM broke any rules in allowing the project. This was brought on by a group of individuals unaffiliated with ROAR.)
Anzelmo says that no matter what the outcome of the IBLA appeal, the federal judge presiding over the
other two suits federal suit will request a 60-day stay, further halting construction on the project. As of yet, OTR Corp. has not announced a new date for the exhibit.
“I think for folks who are wondering about the status, I think it’s helpful for people to understand that the OTR project is indefinitely delayed, per the lawsuits. And even if IBLA were to make a decision that supports BLM’s decision allowing the project, there’s still quite a few legal procedures that will ensue.
"We’re convinced that there are some serious violations that BLM made of two federal laws — the Federal Land Policy Management Act and the National Environmental Policy Act — and we have a strong case, so we think the project will be indefinitely delayed for a very, very, very long time. And it is our goal to make sure that the project never happens because of the devastation that it will wreak on Big Horn Sheep Canyon and that section of the Arkansas River.”
Professor Mike Harris from the University of Denver’s law clinic is taking the case pro bono, with his students. Meanwhile,
the other lawyers in the cases the lawyers defending the BLM and Colorado State Parks Board are costing the state tax dollars, Anzelmo says.
“In a sense, Christo’s having his cake and eating it too because they’re saying, ‘Oh no, the lawsuits are filed against the BLM and the state parks board,’ and he’s letting federal taxpayers and state of Colorado taxpayers foot the bill for the legal defense of the OTR project, which will be very costly.
"It is already costly to taxpayers because ... the organizations or the entities that should be regulating and providing oversight for a project as large-scale and industrial as this, instead of doing their oversight work and regulating, they’ve become the torchbearers for the project and the taxpayers are footing the bill. Certainly taxpayers are footing the bill as BLM and the state try and defend their approvals in court.”
ROAR also takes issue with the numbers OTR Corp. offers for economic impact. The quote given for temporary jobs, Anzelmo says, is really only half the 620 positions stated, since half the work will be done by prisoners in area correctional facilities. This was what ROAR gleaned when OTR Corp. was petitioning for permits from the Fremont County Board of Commissioners.
Yet Anzelmo and ROAR are more focused on the litigation right now. She estimates ROAR
members board members and attorneys are working through 90,000 pages of documents, from the Environmental Impact Statement to the administrative record that BLM was required to file with the court to ancillary paperwork. Plus, there are many variables, starting with the IBLA decision, that could send the BLM “back to the drawing board” in reviewing the EIS, she says.
As for when that IBLA announcement could arrive, no one knows for sure. Anzelmo tentatively expects to return to court sometime in the spring.
ROAR was formed in the late 1990s, after Over the River was first publicly announced. It became a nonprofit in 2005 and according to Anzelmo has about 300 members and 5,000 “supporters” from across the country and overseas. A supporter, she explains, is anyone who has donated money or approached ROAR to help.
“As people understand more fully what the impacts will be and as the courts really evaluate this," she says, "we feel very confident that the project will never happen.”
With a new contractor hired, Colorado Springs will soon get the I-25 widening project it's been waiting for.
In the long run, the project should ease congestion, but it will likely cause some headaches in the short run — as anyone who was in the state during Denver's I-25 expansion project will recall. T-REX, as Denver's project was known, was a five-year undertaking that led to some pretty amazing traffic jams.
And yet, T-REX is known as one of the most successful transportation projects in the country. The $1.67 billion project began in 2001, after years of prep work, and it finished in 2006, under-budget and 22 months ahead of schedule. The project widened I-25 and I-225 in Denver, added 19 miles of light rail, and paved the way for the FasTracks project. Most importantly, it helped Denver grow into the cosmopolitan center it is today.
The Springs had its own COSMIX project, which rebuilt some downtown bridges and widened a more southern part of I-25, come in ahead of schedule a few years ago. It wasn't quite as transformative. But that one, and this new one, could make room for more growth.
Contractor selected for I-25 Widening Project
COLORADO SPRINGS — The Colorado Department of Transportation has awarded the team of Kiewit & Parson-Brinkerhoff (PB) as the design/build contractor for the upcoming widening of Interstate 25 through north El Paso County.
Kiewit/PB was one of three teams short-listed to widen the eleven-mile segment of northbound and southbound I-25 from two to three lanes between Woodmen Road and Monument.
The project is scheduled to begin in late winter 2013 and completed in the summer of 2014.
Kiewit/PB was awarded the contract by stipulating it would have both third lanes operational by December 31, 2013, and by bidding $52 million to complete the project, which was estimated to cost $66.4 million.
CDOT is funding $50.4 million, including $7.9 million from the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments. Federal funding is $16 million.
Additional information about the project will be available in the next several weeks as initial construction planning begins.
At last count, Indy Give! had raised $566,063, but $233,937 was still needed by midnight Dec. 31 to meet the goal of $800,000 for our nonprofit community partners. The campaign will help 58 small, local nonprofits that represent eight major categories of philanthropy, including: animals, arts and culture, a hand up, community building, family, the great outdoors, wellness and youth.
The best way to do your last-minute giving is on our website, but you can also hand-deliver donations or mail them. All donations must be delivered or postmarked no later than Dec. 31.
It pales in comparison to ascending Pikes Peak in the dead of winter, we know. But in honor of the AdAmAn Club’s 90th anniversary, the Indy's forging ahead with a narrated slideshow. I had a chance to talk with AdAmAn members about the special tradition and the challenges they face when making the unforgiving climb.
Donald Sanborn, the current President of the AdAmAn Club, has climbed most of the 14ers here in Colorado, and is on the board of directors for Barr Camp and the Pikes Peak Hill Climb.Wally Wineinger, a retired Colonel, is the newest AdAmAn member, though he's been climbing with the club since 2003.
Are you an AdAmAn fan? Wish them a happy 90th anniversary in the comments section!
A big thank you to our partners for supporting us in this new venture:
The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum - The AdAmAn Collection
The Old Colorado City Historical Society - The Jim Bates Collection
And the AdAmAn Club website - www.adaman.org
Faerie Tales Bakehouse and Catering sent out a press release earlier today announcing its closure in Old Colorado City, saying the property owner has decided to sell the space.
We've got a call in to find out additional details, including the future location for the catering business, and will update this blog or post info in our Side Dish column when we find out.
Until then, here's as much as we know from the release:
As 2012 winds down, the new year is bringing lots of changes for us here at FaerieTales.
Our catering business is in full swing, but the property owner of the restaurant space has decided to sell the property and the space is no longer an option for us.
We are sad to see the restaurant close, but we look forward to this new adventure as we continue to grow our business. We thank all of our amazing, loyal customers and we hope you continue to keep in touch and come see us as new things happen!
For those with gift certificates, we of course will still honor them! Please call and we can make arrangements for personal chef services, catering or many other options.
As I said we are still catering and loving doing those cakes for you! If you have any questions concerning catering (or anything in general) please contact us at 719-355-4934.
We still have our main office number (719-375-5651), but it is in transition to the new location.
Everyone enjoys a good list, right? Such a fun, easy way to say a lot about something with absolutely no need to use a boring narrative. David Letterman's nightly Top 10 List is a cultural touchstone; the editors at Buzzfeed and Cracked have basically made careers out of their list-making skills.
Well, bowing to public pressure, El Paso County Public Health has put out its own Top 10 list: Top 10 Local Public Health News for El Paso County in 2012!
Granted, it doesn't sound as funny as Letterman (or maybe it does) or as zeitgeist-y as Buzzfeed, but it is certainly filled with interesting info, such as:
Reported cases of Pertussis (whooping cough) are on the rise in Colorado. As of December 27, El Paso County had 73 confirmed cases of Pertussis.
Read on, after the jump:
Got a minute? You should check out:
• Video analysis from Apartment Market Dynamics on how the rapid growth of Colorado Springs' apartment market has slowed, unlike that of Denver. (Property Management Insider)
• The pretty-decent counterfeit $100 bills circulating in some Springs businesses that are actually washed-out dollar bills. (KOAA)
• A little bit more on the Peak Military Care Network that we first reported on in November. It's "estimated that 100,000 to 200,000 service members, veterans and their family members live in the Colorado Springs area." (Associated Press, via the Denver Post)
• John Hazlehurst's opinion that Colorado Springs is great at thinking small — be it by its politicians, business leaders or community members — but not so great at thinking ahead. (Colorado Springs Business Journal)
• How the Springs is apparently ground zero for a "cyber-Pearl Harbor." Something to look forward to ... (Colorado Springs Business Journal)
• Why the sack-tastic duo leading the Denver Broncos' push for the Super Bowl is helped by more than just speed and "freakishly long arms." (Associated Press, via KCNC)
As the Indy's music editor, I write a year-end countdown of what, for me, have proven to be the most intriguing, compelling and enjoyable songs of the previous 12 months.
You can go here to read the complete article from this week's issue.
Meanwhile, I figured it would also be helpful to gather up the videos for each song, and put them all together in one place.
Have a listen and see what you think ...
12. Neil Halstead, “Tied to You” (Mark Van Hoen Remix)
A gorgeous tune that's about as close to a new Nick Drake song as we're likely to get.
11. Ghost, “Secular Haze”
If Ghost breaks big in 2013, many will blame it on shtick. But the real reason will be songs like this one.
10. Knife & Fork, “Tightrope”
Eric Drew Feldman — of Captain Beefheert, Frank Back and Pere Ubu fame — joins with Ovarian Trolley singer Laurie Hall for an oddly compelling mix of ethereal vocals and hypnotic pop instincts.
9. Beach Boys, “That’s Why God Made the Radio”
Reminds us why the Beatles were actually jealous of the Beach Boys, and why indie-rock artists still long to emulate Brian Wilson.
8. Die Antwoord, “I Fink U Freeky”
This feel-odd-hit-of-the-summer proves the South African rave-hop duo's music is as worthy of attention as the over-the-top imagery that accompanies it.
7. Father John Misty, “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”
An incurably hooky track, with the forever cynical Tillman wringing four notes from a single syllable: "Je-e-e-e-sus Christ, girl / I laid up for hours in a daze / Retracing the expanse of your American back / With Adderall and weed in my veins." Note: Father John Misty will be playing the Black Sheep on Jan. 5.
6. The ReMINDers, “You Can Count on Me”
A moving expression of mutually assured devotion that juxtaposes rap verses and soulful choruses as deftly as anyone this side of Lauryn Hill and the Fugees.
5. Neil Young & Crazy Horse, “Ramada Inn”
Best Neil Young I’ve heard in a very long time. All 17 minutes of it.
4. Y.N.RichKids, “Hot Cheetos and Takis”
Who would have thought that the year's best ensemble rap would be a pre-teen ode to hyper-palatable snack addiction?
3. Chuck Snow, “Whichever Way the Wind Blows”
A profoundly moving ballad written and recorded at the height of the Waldo Canyon Fire. Even if Bruce Springsteen or Steve Earle had devoted a song to this tragedy, I'm not sure they could have done better.
2. Kimbra, “Settle Down”
Showcases a quirky pop sensibility that's a bit less operatic, but no less brilliant, than Kate Bush.
1. The Coup, “Guillotine”
"Anger is an energy," John Lydon once insisted, but I'm fairly sure that nothing in the punk-rock canon can match the intensity of this track from Oakland's premiere hip-hop duo.
Colorado College announced last week that it will soon overhaul Slocum Hall, the student residence building at the corner of Nevada Avenue and Cache la Poudre Street.
Though some of the renovation will address campus and student needs (such as a new lounge, new furniture in rooms and technology-related upgrades), much of it will focus on sustainability.
From the press release, here are some of the green details:
The first phase of the $14 million renovation project kicks off on Jan. 7 and continues through Jan. 18, the end of Half Block, with the installation of new, energy-efficient windows in the students’ rooms. Numerous other improvements also demonstrate CC’s continued commitment to sustainability. These include adding insulation in exterior walls and installing low-flow water fixtures, dual-flush toilets, energy-saving lighting with sensors and timers, a new heating and ventilation system, and individually controlled thermostats in the residential student rooms.
The window-replacement phase will be followed by additional improvements during Spring Break, with the bulk of the work slated to take place during the summer break. The renovation, which is funded through bonds, is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 22, in time for the 2013-14 academic year. ...
In a move that further underscores the college’s commitment to sustainability, CC has contracted with a company that specializes in international surplus redistributing; consequently, the used furniture from the students’ rooms in Slocum Hall will be sent for redistribution in a Third World school.
Completing the transformation of the 1950s building to one of the 21st century will be an updating of the exterior with the use of stone, metal and tile. ...
The renovation project calls for the use of local products when available. The general contractor is GH Phipps, which also did the 1996 addition to Slocum Hall, as well as the Western Ridge student apartments, the Worner Student Center renovation and the Mathias Hall renovation. The architect is CSNA and major sub-contractors are Olson Plumbing and Heating, Dynaelectric and Western States.
Here are a couple of architectural renderings: