News, December 18th

FEDERAL MINERAL LEASE PAYMENTS IN JEOPARDY

Undated—Colorado and other states that rely on mineral lease payments from the federal government stand to lose over 400 million dollars over the next decade under a budget cutting deal that is expected to be approved by the Senate.  A provision in the budget deal preserves a two percent fee charged by the government on royalties from energy companies that buy oil and gas leases on federal land.  The Senate vote in favor of the fee was 51 to 49.  Over two billion dollars in federal mineral lease payments was paid to 35 states last year with the largest payouts going to five western states; Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico and California.

NEW OIL AND GAS SPILL SPILL REGULATIONS APPROVED BY COMMISSION

Denver—New reporting regulations have been adopted by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.   The new regulations now require drilling companies to report spills of one barrel or more within 24 hours if the spill escapes containment areas. Commission director Matt Lepore says the new rules will improve the state’s ability to respond to spills of oil as well as exploration and production waste.

GRAND JUNCTION REGIONAL AIRPORT MANAGER FIRED, FBI PROBE CONTINUES

Grand Junction—The director of aviation at the Grand Junction Regional Airport has been fired while a federal investigation continues into airport business. The Grand Junction Airport Authority Board gave no reason for dismissing Rex Tippetts on Tuesday.   The FBI is conducting an investigation into unknown airport affairs and has said only that its probe concerns allegations of fraud. FBI agents executed search warrants at the airport’s administrative offices and seized financial documents Nov. 7, and a judge has sealed that search warrant.  Tippetts’ attorney Harry Griff says the firing is unwarranted because no charges have been filed.

COLORADO DUI LAWS TO GET TOUGHER NEXT YEAR

Denver—If you plan to toast in the new year with a few adult beverages be aware of Colorado’s tougher DUI laws.  At the stroke of midnight, January 1st, any Colorado driver who refuses a sobriety test will be considered a “persistent drunk driver” by the state.  If you want your driver’s license back under the mandatory one year suspension, you would have to hook up a breathalyzer to your car to start it and stay off the road for at least two months.  2012 was a bad year in Colorado with over 25 thousand DUI arrests.  Of those, over 73-hundred refused to take a breathalyzer or blood test.

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