National Forests produce more than trees and recreation, hence this post. This article may have only been in the Denver Post due to the energy industry here, but is probably of interest to all of us.
The surge in oil production in the U.S. and Canada and shrinking oil consumption in the developed world is transforming the global oil market.
The threat of chronic oil shortages is all but gone, U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil will continue to dwindle, and oil will increasingly flow to the developing economies of Asia, according to a five-year outlook published Tuesday by the International Energy Agency.
The changes will have “significant consequences for the global economy and oil security,” the IEA says.
The report paints a picture of a world with plenty of oil to meet modestly growing demand. Where the oil is coming from, and where it is going, is changing dramatically, according to the IEA, an energy security and research organization based in Paris that serves 28 oil-importing countries, including the U.S.
The report does not address oil prices directly, but analysts do not expect the changing oil market dynamics to lead to sharply lower oil or gasoline prices. The abundance of oil does, however, greatly reduce the risk of sustained price surges that curtail economic growth.
The chief impetus for the changing world oil picture is the increase in production in the U.S. The U.S. created the world oil market more than a century ago and is the world’s biggest consumer, but domestic production was thought to be in permanent decline. Then drillers, inspired by high prices and armed with improving technology, learned how to produce oil from previously inaccessible rock under several U.S. states.
Production is also projected to rise in Canada and elsewhere in the Americas, such as Brazil and Columbia. At the same time, oil demand in the U.S. and other developed nations is expected to fall slightly, a result of improved vehicle efficiency and weak economic growth. That means the U.S. will be able to satisfy most of its own needs with domestic production and oil from neighbors – and that could have geopolitical implications.
“It will affect relationships between countries. Most leaders believe they have to be nice to whoever they buy their oil from,” says Michael Levi, an energy expert at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of a recent book on the U.S. energy boom called The Power Surge.
I will be in the air, so can’t see this.. a bit off our usual topics but related, and sounded very interesting…
Here’s the link. It’s at 12 MT.
Abstract: This research explores the effect of feedback from the smart grid, smart plugs, and dashboard displays on driving, vehicle charging, and household energy-use behaviors. Toyota Motor Sales, Inc., sponsored the study and provided the University of Colorado with 28 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHVs) for a 2-year field-test in a smart-grid environment. In Boulder, Colorado, 23,000 households have smart meters; a stratified random sample of 142 of households volunteering for the smart-grid drove 2010 Prius PHVs for 9-week field tests. The utility partnered with the study by installing smart plugs in participant garages. Toyota’s interest was exploring the effects of real-world driving on PHV performance in extreme climatic conditions at high altitudes with mountainous terrain in a smart-grid environment. The utility’s interest was the potential impacts of PHV charging on the electricity grid. Using households and drivers as units of analysis, the University’s investigation addresses a range of topics, including the role of three types of feedback on driving and charging behavior: (1) the utility’s web portal that provided data on overall household electricity usage in 15-minute increments 15 minutes ago; (2) a garage smart plug that provided real-time data in 5-minute increments on a web portal, indicating timing, electricity usage, and frequency of vehicle charging; and (3) the vehicle’s dashboard displays which provided real-time feedback on mpg and on whether the vehicle is in battery-only or hybrid mode, among other information.
In addition to interview and questionnaire data, high-resolution data were collected from 27 vehicles and smart plugs for a period of about 1.5 years. Charging behavior and management are examined from various angles. Data analysis results include distributions of fuel economy, energy consumption, trip lengths, distance between charging events, and spatial and temporal distributions of charging events.
Unfortunately for me, I have another class on Tuesday nights so I can’t run up to Boulder. but these podcasts will be available to everyone interested in this issue.
If you go here you can see what they will be doing on Tuesday nights, plus the link to Professor Limerick’s podcast.
This podcast is Patty Limerick on the history of the American West extractive industries, how scientific information is used, women’s rights and opportunities, and the difference between “laboratory” and “outdoor” science where the latter is “swirlingly awash in variables” (not an exact quote).
Interestingly to those of us who traverse the fields of science, they apparently have someone on this NSF study who is reviewing the work for neutrality.. A very interesting idea. Perhaps I should run up and interview him/her.
Professor Limerick is always a thoughtful and interesting speaker and hearing her on this subject provides some insights into our usual discussion topics. And I can safely say that she is never dull.
She has a great many points about the history of the West that suggest that the story of the “despoiling” of the west is a bunch more complex.
With regard to the analysis of health impacts, she mentions a feeling of “powerlessness” and how that may be a public health issue related to natural gas development as important as air quality. However, I feel powerless about a number of things including a proposed road near my house that would become a toll road, which seems to be inexorably pushed on our community. Is that a true health impact of the road? I’m not so sure.
But I think some elected officials and communities in the American west feel powerless about the nationalization of issues that occur next to their communities. But we haven’t yet analyzed the impacts of powerlessness of not doing things.
I certainly don’t know what the answer is, just suggest that it be universally applied.
Also the idea that the Law Center would be weighing in on whether enough laws currently exist (maybe I misunderstood) sounds a bit like conflict of interest. I wonder if they’re taking volunteers for the neutrality force?
Hoping that the drafts of all the papers for the ultimate NSF study are posted on the internet for public comment.
She also has a section on residential development that might interest folks…it looks like about 3/4 of the way through the podcast. Including “the locus of the disconnect between use of, and attitudes toward natural resources” (not an exact quote).
I would only add that my relatives in Kansas and Texas have a more positive attitude toward the energy industry. They are not suburbanites, but make their living from agriculture, so there might be something to this suburbanite idea Professor Limerick poses. She recommends social interactions with engineers.. I guess foresters could be the equivalent in our world. I’m sure many of us would be available for such interactions, especially if beer were available.
For those who haven’t heard, there has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth by the Big Science community about sequestration. Here’s a post by Roger Pielke, Jr. on his blog. What we don’t talk about is why things people want are not funded and things scientists want, are.. or why the public is not involved in scientific priorities. After the excerpt from the blog post below, I’ll get to an example that I think illustrates the issue.
The scientists, and science policy scholars in particular, exist to generate evidence in support of that axiom in order to keep public funds flowing. Both conceits are problematic in science policy.
In a paper published in Minerva last year I explored the origins and symbolic significance of the phrase “basic research” (read it here in PDF). In that paper I argued that the phrase originated about 1920 in the context of the US Department of Agriculture, where “research was the basic work” of the agency. The phrase was shortened to “basic research” which ironically enough meant what we today call “applied research.”
Over time the phrase became part of the linear model of innovation, shown in the figure at the top of this post. The model is faith based, meaning that the relationship of basic research funding to societal benefits is taken as an “axiom” which often finds its expression in a misreading of economics. Scientists often demand a privileged place for science in government budgets based on claims that in “basic research” lies the key to growth and prosperity for all.
Unfortunately, the relationship of so-called “basic research” and outcomes like economic growth and other societal benefits remains poorly understood. For instance, in 2007, Leo Sveikauskas of the Bureau of Economic Analysis surveyed the economy-wide returns on R&D (here in PDF) and found a complex picture at odds with the elegance of the linear model:
Returns to many forms of publicly financed R&D are near zero . . . Many elements of university and government research have very low returns, overwhelmingly contribute to economic growth only indirectly, if at all, and do not belong in investment.
The exceptions that he cites include federal R&D in health, agriculture and defense — all instances of mission-oriented applied research.
Now here is another interesting article from New Scientist, publicly available and well worth reading, on a Resources For the Future study on how the U.S. is doing with climate change. The title is “how Obama Will Deliver His Climate Promise”. I don’t know about you, but friends and strangers feel comfortable lecturing me at how poorly the US is doing..
but what I found interesting on the topic “who funds whom to study what, and why?” is the box in the article.
Fixing America’s gas leak
Measured over a century, methane has 25 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide – so the last thing the planet needs is for the stuff to be escaping into the atmosphere. Yet that’s happening on a massive scale in the US, through leaks from production wells and the pipes that distribute natural gas.
The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates total losses at 2.4 per cent of the gas being extracted, but the true figure could be higher. A survey in Colorado, led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, last year suggested the region’s wells were losing some 4 per cent of what is produced.
Putting firmer numbers on the problem is the goal of a study led by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) in New York City. It should have figures for production wells by the end of March, and for the entire distribution system by January 2014.
With better numbers in hand, the government could demand the leaks are plugged. “It is quite possible to produce natural gas with minimal ‘fugitive’ emissions,” says Mark Brownstein of the EDF. “It may just be a question of operational and maintenance practice.”
So this piece hits on two of my favorite topics..
1) if EPA and NOAA came up with different numbers, shouldn’t there be a joint story for why the numbers are different?
2) If this question is really important to the US fighting climate change, why isn’t someone besides EDF funding it? (Do we think they are objective?)
Which reminds me of this article in the Denver Post “Hickenlooper argues in D.C. for state regulation of fracking.”
Hickenlooper, a former geologist, talked about “fugitive methane” — poisonous gas escaping during gas production. He said Colorado officials are working with Colorado State University on a study to measure air quality in different seasons in oil-producing parts of the state to “understand the consequences.”
Doesn’t it seem like if natural gas is going to dig us out of our climate change hole in the short term, we would spend more federal bucks on ensuring it’s safe.. say compared to “basic science.” If we need to understand something vitally important to our energy future and to human health and the nevironment, hodgepodgery is not a good enough strategy. In my opinion.
In the Denver Post today we see a story about Salazar returning to Colorado and all the useful things he might do What I thought was interesting, given our discussions on this blog about him, was this paragraph:
But his current higher-profile gig meant more mano a mano with energy companies and Republicans. After the Deepwater Horizon well explosion, he imposed a temporary moratorium on the drilling technique and grew oil and gas regulations that infuriated the GOP on the Hill.
Obama on Wednesday congratulated Salazar for his work in this area.
“Ken has helped usher in a new era of conservation for our nation’s land, water and wildlife,” he said in a statement. “Ken has played an integral role in my administration’s successful efforts to expand responsible development of our nation’s domestic energy resources.”
Even Salazar’s biggest foes universally wished him luck Wednesday — but noted they hoped to work with another Secretary who would better serve energy interests.
“I’d like to thank Secretary Salazar for his service,” said Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma. “He has worked very hard the past four years and no doubt sacrificed time away from his family in order to do the job. I look forward to working with his replacement on what I hope can be pro-growth energy policies.”
From an energy-company vantage point, Hercules Offshore executive Jim Noe agreed.
“We remember the tough days that followed the Deepwater Horizon incident during which Secretary Salazar presided over a moratorium on permits that created significant uncertainty for energy production and energy security,” he said. “The legacy of the Interior five-year plan has charted a course for the fewest lease sales in a generation.”
In the coming years, Salazar may try to renew some of his Republican friendships in Colorado and strengthen his moderate tone to appeal to a swing audience.
“Clearly there were troubles on his watch,” said Craig Hughes, a Democratic consultant who ran the successful Obama campaign in Colorado last year. “But he is seen as a problem-solver, of trying to get things done. Regardless, he probably comes out of this with more enemies, and he probably comes out of this with more friends.”
It’s interesting that this focuses on enemies made in the oil and gas industry, while we have mostly discussed here his foibles according to environmental groups. I suspect because there are few outlets that report both sides of the story.
but check out the Denver Post editorial page here, that lets us know that both sides were unhappy…
They say Interior under Salazar has suppressed energy production through of unnecessary red tape and onerous rules. And while we have no desire to defend every regulation, the fact is that the previous administration drifted too far in the other direction. Its Minerals Management Service had been an Animal House in which employees not only partied with industry executives but also, according to a federal probe, “had sexual relationships” with some.
“In the prior administration,” Salazar said one year after being on the job, “the oil and gas industry were the kings of the world. Whatever they wanted to happen, happened.” He exaggerated, to be sure, but with a grain of truth.
If anything, Salazar’s Interior didn’t crack down fast enough along the Gulf Coast. Indeed, before BP’s Deepwater Horizon blew in April 2010, the Obama administration had been authorizing offshore permits without adequate environment reviews as fast as its predecessor.
Nor has Interior under Salazar always left environmentalists cheering. They’ve objected to decisions allowing limited drilling in the Arctic, lifting protections for the gray wolf in several states and refusing to use the polar bear as leverage to address climate change.
Salazar said this week that his proudest achievements include expediting justice for American Indians after years of litigation over trust lands and breaking the logjam for clean-energy projects on federal lands.
It’s also interesting that now Salazar is a good guy about his past activities..
CARBONDALE —Foes of natural-gas drilling in Thompson Divide would like to see Interior Secretary Ken Salazar take the same action when he leaves office in March that he took when he started the job four years ago.
Salazar, a former U.S. senator from Colorado and native of the San Luis Valley, canceled oil and gas leases on 77 parcels of federal land in Utah in February 2009. He said drilling posed too much of a threat to spectacular landscapes in areas such as Arches National Park and Dinosaur National Monument.
Conservation groups are trying to prevent additional land in the Thompson Divide area west of Carbondale from being leased. They also want to work with oil and gas companies to “retire” existing leases.
Thompson Divide is a 221,000-acre expanse of public land that runs from Sunlight Mountain Resort to McClure Pass, west of state Highway 133. Roughly 100,000 acres of public land in the area have never been leased, said Peter Hart, attorney for Wilderness Workshop, one of the organizations fighting gas drilling there.
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet is drafting legislation that would prevent future leasing in the area, but it faces an uncertain future.;
Are these the same parcels that were were going to be bought back based on this article?
Yes, Wilderness Workshop did sign the letter supporting Grijalva that we discussed here. As Andy said in his first comment on that post, strange way to win friends and influence people.
My lesson from all this is that working in natural resources may be hazardous to your relationships. And for some reason if the Denver Post were to succumb to pressures facing journalism, who would be left to tell both sides?
Char Miller send this link with the comment “Thought folks would enjoy this piece today about yesterday’s dedication of a new solar array that will be fully powering …”
Here’s a link and below is an excerpt.
In this case, however, there was an unsung hero operating outside the limelight. Every speaker yesterday mentioned that this dedicatory event would not have occurred without the persistence of Renee Jewell, the Forest Service’s Commercial Services Manager working out of its regional office in Vallejo, California. She may be located deep within a large bureaucracy but she’s no petty clerk.
Jewell is credited with identifying the policy conundrum that blocked the San Dimas and other federal projects, and applauded for persistently prodding the various constituencies — state and federal agencies, the Public Utilities Commission, and SoCal Edison — to figure out a solution.
Her tenacity evokes another narrative about the source of human progress: the power of an individual, like the sun’s energy, can light our way forward.
Kudos to Renee and any other unsung heroes and heroines involved in this project!
Here’s a link and below is an excerpt.
“Not only will these contracts help us alleviate the impacts of the mountain pine beetle infestation and reduce the threats of catastrophic wildfire, but they also will offer a supply of woody biomass that will be used to produce low-cost heat and a clean, renewable source of electricity,” said Harris Sherman, under secretary of the Department of Agriculture.
Scott Fitzwilliams, supervisor of the White River National Forest, said the work will help restore the landscape as well as produce wood products for everything from lumber to wood pellets to power plant fuel.
West Range Reclamation will remove lodgepole and ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, Engleman spruce and aspen and other tree species susceptible to insect and disease infestations.
The contract is the latest for a forest management company that has completed more than 300 contracts and 70,000 acres of range and forest projects on public and private land in five western states.
“The continued stability of the 10-year project will allow West Range to provide well-paying, steady, year-round work for our current employees and the ability to hire more skilled operators,” said Pam Motley of West Range Reclamation.
“We also intend to do our part to help strengthen local economies by purchasing products and services — such as fuel, food, housing, tools, parts, supplies, rentals and repair services — from local businesses,” Motley added.
Part of the wood removed during the treatments will provide fuel for a 11.5-megawatt power plant planned for Gypsum.
Eagle Valley Clean Energy plans to build the woody biomass plant to supply electricity to Holy Cross Energy and, in turn, an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 homes in Western Colorado.
Heat generated at the power plant will support the operation of an adjacent wallboard factory.
The USDA Rural Utilities Service announced in October a $40 million loan guarantee to help finance the plant.
Eagle Valley Clean Energy estimates the plant will create 107 construction jobs and 41 permanent jobs.
Confluence Energy will remove beetle-killed trees. Where commercially practical, the wood will be used for lumber, wood pellets and other products. The company will pay for those materials to offset the cost of the removal project.
And from another article here..
“The stewardship contracts are especially exciting because it will add to Colorado’s balance of clean, renewable energy by supporting biomass energy — electricity and heat for Eagle Valley Clean Energy in Gypsum and wood pellets for clean and efficient heating at Confluence Energy in Kremmling,” Udall said in the release.
“Active management of our multiple use national forest acreage in Colorado is vital as we confront the bark beetle epidemic and grow our forest products industries,” said Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., in a news release. “After a summer of devastating wildfires, there’s an even greater urgency to ensure that our forests are healthy and resilient.
Our elected officials and political appointees in the Department seem to agree this is a good thing to have jobs. to reduce the use of fossil fuels, to reduce the costs of fuel treatments, and to use natural resources in a sustainable way..any nay-sayers out there?
For those who follow the coal mine litigation (could coal be the “new timber”? ) wars, Holy Cross Energy is also the one who partnered with Aspen Ski Co to use methane that would otherwise be vented from coal mines (Elk Creek). Here’s a link with more information. Meanwhile, since at least 2007, methane has been vented while some people worked on litigation and some potential legislative fixes. You gotta applaud people who “just do it.” Props to you Holy Cross and Aspen Skico. Here’s a link and below is an excerpt.
Holy Cross’s challenge, as the power purchaser, was to arrange transmission from the mine. “The electricity had to be wheeled over medium-voltage distribution lines to a TriState [Generation and Transmission Association] substation, then across Western and Xcel Energy transmission lines,” said Hildred. “We weren’t sure in what order we needed to talk to people. DMEA [Delta Montrose Energy Association], the owner of the line that supplies power to the mine, had never dealt with anything like this before.”
All of the parties proved cooperative, so Holy Cross was able to sort out the distribution without encountering too many barriers. The utility signed the power purchase agreement and DMEA built a substation with a short extension to the 44-kV line.
Of course, no project happens without funding, and the developer was fortunate in finding an “angel” with an interest in alternative energy. Randy Udall, a sustainable energy advocate and former executive director of the Community Office for Resource Efficiency, happened to be at Vessels’s first meeting with Holy Cross Energy. “Afterward, Randy asked me if we were seeking partners and gave me the number of the sustainability director for Aspen Skiing Company,” Vessels recalled.
The innovative project appealed to the ski resort owner with its long history of supporting environmental causes, and the company put up the bulk of the funding to build the Elk Creek facility. “Aspen Skiing Company and Holy Cross Energy deserve accolades for seeing beyond the end of their noses,” declared Vessels.
I wonder what other issues would benefit from the “just do it” approach as opposed to years of litigation or unsuccessful federal legislation attempts?
Props to these groups for seeing a different path to meet their objectives than litigation, plus the taxpayer will be off the hook for the costs of litigation, no small thing.
Here is a link to a story in the Denver Post today. Below are a couple of excerpts.
It’s interesting how diverse groups can bond when gas development comes up:
A combination of funds from foundations and coalition board members, including Sue Anschutz-Rodgers and Avalanche Ranch owner Chuck Ogilby, easily could raise $50 million if the leases were worth that, Kessler said.
Preserving the high country “is critical for our operations,” said rancher Bill Fales, whose family has run the Cold Mountain Ranch near Carbondale since 1924. Ranchers anchoring the region’s agricultural economy rely on federal permits allowing sustainable grazing in the high-country — grazing that they say could not be done amid drilling.
“We would have nowhere to go with our cows,” said Fales, whose wife, Marj Perry, is on the coalition board.
The area also includes a key migration corridor for lynx, moose, bear, deer, elk and mountain lions — and two Colorado Parks and Wildlife game units in which 14,000 big game hunting licenses are sold each year. A Sunlight to Powderhorn snowmobile route traverses the forests. Rock climbers, cross-country skiers and fishermen flock here for recreation.
Note the reference to sustainable grazing.. vis a vis our discussion yesterday here. Also snowmobiles (italics mine).
I also noticed that the author of the article states:
The U.S. Forest Service owns the surface land — located south of the Sunlight ski area and west of McClure Pass — much of it designated “roadless” under a recently upheld national rule aimed at protecting pristine forests.
It seems odd to me that the Colorado Roadless Rule, which is currently the law of the land in Colorado, is not mentioned (I don’t know offhand if there are any boundary differences between the rules in this area.)
Ah.. perhaps the solution to the mystery, as so often, has something to do with politics..
Here’s a link to the story, and below are excerpts.
SG Interests owns drilling leases in the Thompson Divide, a roadless area near Carbondale. It got the leases during the George W. Bush administration, when the national roadless rule was in a state of confusion over conflicting court rulings and Bush’s repeal of former President Bill Clinton’s roadless rule.
Bush didn’t exactly “repeal” it.. it was enjoined and the Dept. decided to try a different approach. If they had just rescinded it and re-ruled, that would be true..
The new Colorado Roadless Rule adds protections for the Thompson Divide, but it does not completely put the area off-limits to drilling.
Actually it does, for new leases, and leaves the legal status of the others as to be determined by courts.
Conservationists and ranchers are pressing Tipton to introduce a bill to protect the area from future drilling. So far, he has not committed to backing a bill. Instead, he has said he wants to find a compromise solution.
Pace has said he wants to buy back leases from SG and other gas companies so that drilling will not occur in the Thompson Divide.
I don’t think anyone is stopping anyone from buying back the leases.. the price of gas is very low now.. so go for it! Not so sure about using scarce tax dollars, though.. if that’s what he means. I’m not sure that this is the time for greater public expenditures, when we can’t afford the basic recreation program, as discussed elsewhere.
Here’s another story about “gap leases.” These are leases issued at various times when the 2001 Rule was not the “law of the land”.
Below is a brief summary from this Forest Service document.
The Roadless Area Conservation Rule (RACR) prohibits, with some exceptions, road construction and timber harvesting across 58.5 million acres of the National Forest System. The rule was published in the Federal Register on January 12, 2001 (66 FR 3244).* Ten lawsuits were filed challenging the rule. In May 2001, a preliminary injunction barring implementation of the rule was issued by a federal district court in Idaho. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that ruling, and the RACR became effective in April 2003. In June 2003, the State of Alaska settled its claims regarding the RACR and after further rulemaking the Tongass National Forest was exempted from the RACR (68 FR 75136). Two cases in North Dakota that involved the RACR were eventually settled in March 2007 and three others were dismissed.
However, in July 2003, a federal district court in Wyoming upheld the State of Wyoming’s challenge to the RACR holding that promulgation of the RACR was procedurally flawed under NEPA and substantively illegal under the Wilderness Act. The court set aside the rule and permanently enjoined the rule. The decision was appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, but the court declared the case moot and vacated the Wyoming order after the 2005 State Petitions Rule was promulgated.
Gap leases occur in other states, but attention has been focused on Colorado, seemingly earlier as a negotiating point with groups who wanted the leases withdrawn as part of the Colorado Roadless Rule. There was even an earlier effort with the FS and the State to buy out these leases.
According to some legal sources on the government side, there were various stages during the periods when the 2001 Rule was enjoined, with various letters and interim directives, and each lease might have different facts associated with it. The easiest way to find out their legal status would be to take them all to court as individual leases.
There must be some reason folks aren’t doing that.
A key dispute within the dispute over proposed oil and gas development in the Thompson Divide area involves dozens of leases issued in national forest roadless areas there in 2003.
That was two years after President Bill Clinton, in one of his final acts as president, declared a national forest rule to protect roadless areas from development.
Peter Hart, staff attorney with the Carbondale-based Wilderness Workshop conservation group, has some questions about the legality of leases issued without restrictions on surface disturbance after Clinton’s action.
“We’re in the process of sorting all that out,” he said.
Such leases in the Thompson Divide area and elsewhere have gained the nickname of “gap” leases because they were issued at a time when the legal status of the national roadless rule was in question because of prior court rulings later being upheld.
This seems odd to me (they are still “sorting it out”) as there are only so many of these… spreadsheets of them have been circulating since 2007 or so..it’s not clear that anything about the status has changed in the last five years except that the 2001 Rule came back. However, it does not seem to me that the issue is what are the rules now, but what were the rules when the lease was let (did the FS and BLM follow legal procedures correctly when leasing?).
I would argue that the legal status was not really “in question” as the 10th circuit had enjoined it being used…it seems relatively clear.
However not Hart, who said:
We think the 2001 rule has been the rule of law since 2001,” Hart said.
So how can the FS predict the ultimate outcome of court decisions, and follow the future rules rather than the current court decision at a time? It would have been illegal to not follow Brimmer’s decision. I have never really understood this line of argument.
He said a Colorado-specific roadless rule implemented this year “explicitly preserves limitations on surface use” for leases issued in roadless areas after 2001.
My understanding is that the Colorado Rule says “if it is determined that the leases’ restrictions or lack thereof were made legally, then they stand.”
Again, it seems to me like the simplest thing to do is just take the individual leases to court and get them clarified.
Another thing I don’t quite understand is:
Leased lands with no-surface occupancy rules would have to be reached by directional drilling. Hart said he’d like to see the Forest Service go further by not leasing for oil and gas at all in roadless areas, to prevent these areas from being ringed by well pads and other facilities, isolating wildlife habitat. A White River National Forest planning alternative the Forest Service agreed to also consider in response to the concerns of the Thompson Divide Coalition would allow for no new leasing in lands under the forest’s jurisdiction in that area, including in existing lease areas if those leases expire.
But if you don’t want leases inside roadless areas, because there would be wellpads going directionally from outside, you should know you could also have wellpads outside for leases on that land outside the roadless areas, so outside wellpads are not prevented. And the solution to “ringing” the area with wellpads would be looking at the impacts of each development during NEPA. It seems unlikely that wellpads would be cheek to jowl in a ring around the roadless area.
Also this is interesting..
Antero Resources has proposed drilling up to four wells on “gap” lease acreage in the northwest portion of the Thompson Divide, but under its proposal the well pad would be placed outside the roadless area. How any initial drilling on gap leases in the Thompson Divide area occurs will be important because of the precedential impact it will have on future drilling on such leases in the area, Hart said.
Antero wants to drill outside the roadless area, and that isn’t good because of …the precedent on drilling?
Gary Osier is a former Forest Service employee who served as forest minerals specialist for the White River National Forest,
For all the focus on roadless areas, Osier said Thompson Divide also has a lot of areas with roads, and “is probably one of the most multiple-use pieces of ground on the whole (White River National) Forest.”
He said he’s “walked virtually every foot” of the area, and it has high potential for natural gas and some oil development.
“What’s interesting to me is there’s only a little teeny bit of the whole (White River) forest that has high potential, and that’s the only part that we identified originally (for leasing), this whole Thompson Divide thing. I think most of the people who are screaming and hollering about it have never been there,” he said.
My instincts follow those of Gary.. it all doesn’t really add up. There must be more to this than meets the eye. For previous posts on gap leases, see this, this, and this, and my blog post here on the Range Blog of High Country News and especially the comments on that..