Energy Archives - Colorado Politics
07033ff6e8c6e9538c98727e4f6961b2-1280x852.jpg

Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 20, 20187min12450

Normally it’s Democrats who want the public to know more about the effects of energy production near people, flora and fauna, but not so much on wind energy.

That irony came to visit when Rep. Paul Lundeen brought a bill this session to create a state-approved online clearinghouse of credible information — about the public’s health in proximity to windfarms.

In Lundeen’s sprawling El Paso County district residents near Calhan are complaining about headaches, stomach aches and circulatory problems since the 145 turbines at the Nextera wind farm began to spin in 2015. Livestock roams the plains landscape and dozens of residents live nearby.

The Republican lawmaker from Monument doesn’t think it’s asking too much for the state to give people information they can rely on, rather than forcing them to roam the internet for answers that could be posted by a partisan, a crackpot or both.

The state could curate credible, peer-reviewed studies and link to legal documents that often aren’t easy to find with a simple Google search, he contends.

“Making things easier for the people — that’s exactly what this legislation would do,” Lundeen pleaded to the Democrats on the committee moments before they killed his bill on a party-line vote.

Colorado’s $6 billion of private investment in wind energy production has provided “a hockey stick” curve on a growth chart, Lundeen said. The political left doesn’t want to discuss it unless oil, gas and coal are in the mix.

It might look like a political mousetrap from the outside. I suggested that to Lundeen, and I read people well. He has no reputation as a schemer but a terrific statehouse reputation as a problem-solver.

The situation just exposed the partisan scar tissue around energy that has hardened mindsets of both sides.

“This was the perfect bill for me,” he said the next day on the bench on the south side of the chamber, after House Speaker Crisanta Duran gaveled members out for the weekend. “Because it’s this policy question about what’s wind energy mean to us. We’ve gone since 2000 from 22 megawatts in this state to, in 2016, more than 2,000 megawatts. That’s 131 times growth, so this is a big issue coming to a front yard near you soon. So what are we going to do about it?”

Rep. Joann Ginal knew how Lundeen felt.

In 2013, she and fellow Democratic Reps. Mike Foote of Lafayette, Jonathan Singer of Longmont and others presented a bill to have the state determine if people who live near oil and gas operations are as healthy as those who don’t. The state study would have examined epidemiology reports from Larimer, Weld, Boulder and Arapahoe counties against one or more control groups elsewhere.

House Bill 1275 was drowned like a rat on the Titanic by a solid Republican bloc who picked off stray moderates from the Democratic majority to kill seven oil-and-gas bills that session.

Ginal tried and failed again the next year. She would support an all-of-the-above look at what energy production is doing to us. The daughter of a New England cop, she’s practice in pharmaceutical and medical fields for more than two decades, specializing in reproductive endocrinology.

“We don’t offer a compilation of research in this state that’s really helpful in that area, as well,” the physician said of renewable energy.

Government has regulated — and academic and advocacy interests have studied — the effects of traditional fuels as far back as 150 years, massive wind farms and growing fast on Colorado’s horizon.

We haven’t heard the last of this. Two Democratic gubernatorial candidates — Jared Polis and Michael Johnston — are pledging to get all of Colorado’s juice from renewable sources by 2040. A handful of cities are pledging to get there sooner.

Tom Darin, the Western states policy director for the American Wind Energy Association, says his trade association maintains a bibliography its eager and willing to share with policymakers and the public. The credible information supports the industry as safe, he said.

“We are entrusted and given some credibility in bringing in and how to do $6 billion in investment in Colorado,” Darin said.

Rep. Terri Carver, another El Paso County Republican, said unbalanced information doesn’t tell the whole story. And how. Partisan salesmanship has poisoned the oil-and-gas discussion, as the left and right continue to extend spewing pipelines of money into Colorado for PR and lobbying.

I trust the Wind Energy Association. The literature about health and safety is stacked up on their side, just like the information provided by the oil-and-gas industry.

I did a Google search about wind energy, because I’m cynical. The first article was from the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

“Canadian family physicians can expect to see increasing numbers of rural patients reporting adverse effects from exposure to industrial wind turbines (IWTs),” it stated. “People who live or work in close proximity to IWTs have experienced symptoms that include decreased quality of life, annoyance, stress, sleep disturbance, headache, anxiety, depression, and cognitive dysfunction. Some have also felt anger, grief, or a sense of injustice.”

Now I don’t know who to believe.


20180207-CoPo-drilling_complaints-4944.jpg

Associated PressAssociated PressFebruary 18, 20182min1160

Oil production continues to increase in Colorado as energy companies respond to a recent rebound in crude prices, according to U.S. government data.

The Energy Information Administration says drillers in the Niobrara region that includes much of northern Colorado will produce 580,000 barrels daily in March. That’s a 6 percent increase over February’s expected production.

Oil prices have risen sharply since last summer’s low of $43 a barrel, to over $60 a barrel in recent weeks.

Gas production also is expected to increase in the Niobrara in March, according to the energy agency.

The Niobrara includes portions of neighboring states, but the energy patch’s sweet spot is in Colorado’s Weld County, which has almost 24,000 active oil and gas wells.

Amid the industry’s resurgence, the number of drill rigs working in the state has remained relatively flat.

“Rigs are only one part of the picture,” Bernadette Johnson, vice president of Market Intelligence at DrillingInfo in Littleton, told Colorado Public Radio . “What matters more is how quickly those rigs can drill wells, and how big those wells are.”

Operators also are drawing down their stockpiles of “drilled but uncompleted wells.” These are wells that were previously drilled, but not finished.

Drilling applications suggest more new wells are on the way.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission reported receiving 5,548 applications to drill last year, a 70 percent increase over 2016 and the most in at least six years.


20180207-CoPo-drilling_complaints-4801.jpg

Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 14, 20186min212
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission approved rules Tuesday to help the public get a general idea where oil and gas pipelines are located. The nine-member panel unanimously approved the regulatory update after three days of testimony. Regulators have been working on the proposal for months, in the wake of a home explosion in […]

This content is only available to subscribers.

Login or Subscribe


17899357950_da3af77a9a_k.jpg

Associated PressAssociated PressFebruary 5, 20181min2320

Weld County in northeast Colorado is poised to see a record for oil production.

For 2017, production through November is sitting at more than 105 million barrels of oil. When December numbers are counted that could easily go up to 116 million barrels of oil produced out of the county, an all-time high.

The Greeley Tribune reports the current record of 109 million barrels of oil was set in 2015.

Don Warden, county finance director, says 2017’s oil and gas production likely will boost Weld’s assessed valuation by 5 percent to 6 percent for the 2019 budget.

Weld’s largest oil and gas operator, Anadarko Petroleum, plans to spend $950 million this year in the Denver-Julesburg Basin, which essentially covers all of Weld County.

The report comes as lawmakers hear a bill that would give local communities more authority to regulate wells, and Colorado braces for a governor’s race that could pit Big Oil against Democratic candidates who want to wean the state completely off fossil fuels by 2040.