News, April 9th




SILT (AP) – The Bureau of Land Management has granted requests from two companies to suspend their oil and gas leases in the Thompson Divide, disappointing environmentalists who had hoped the BLM would let the leases expire. The suspension pauses the 10-year deadline that SG Interests and Ursa Resources Group have to develop their leases in the divide. SG Interests has 18 leases in the area, Ursa has seven.   The BLM says a required environmental analysis wasn’t done before the leases were issued in 2003 and 2004. The agency says the suspension will give it more time to analyze the companies’ development proposals, at which time the leases could be voided, reaffirmed or modified. No development activity can occur during the suspension.  The suspension expires next April 1.




DENVER  – The seep of liquid hydrocarbons at Parachute Creek has affected a larger area than initially believed.  A month ago energy workers with Williams Company  discovered contaminated soil and groundwater near it’s gas processing facility in Parachute. Officials now say natural gas liquids have now been found on both sides of Parachute Creek, which runs into the Colorado River.  Officials still say the creek has not been tainted.   Protective booms were placed across the creek when the hydrocarbons were first discovered. A state Department of Natural Resources spokesman says early tests on those booms revealed “diesel-range organics” but not the benzene or gas liquids that have been found in the soil and groundwater.  It’s not clear if the diesel materials are related to the leak.




DENVER (AP) – Colorado House Democrats have passed new restrictions on the state’s powerful oil and gas regulators.  The House voted 34-29 today to require tougher standards for recusal on conflicts of interest. Two Democrats and all Republicans opposed the bill.   The bill originally banned current oil and gas workers from membership on the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, but Democratic sponsors ratcheted back the ban.  The revised bill makes an important policy statement to regulators – that public safety is more important than extracting all possible oil and gas resources. That language raised hackles from Republicans, who argued that Democrats want to hurt property rights.
The Senate now will consider the proposal.




DENVER (AP) – The Colorado State Patrol is providing special information for truckers on the Interstate 70 mountain corridor to help them prepare for changing highway conditions.  The state patrol says truckers face special challenges and they need up-to-date warnings when weather or highway problems occur.  A new website, accessible on the road from smartphones, provides updates on road conditions, safe parking and chain-up locations as well as a video on laws for commercial vehicles and motor carrier safety trips.