Stories on our natural world, parks, resources, environmental issues, animals, water, fracking, mining, impacts and wilderness.

Bill Badzo / Flickr

With just a few days left in Boulder County’s oil and gas moratorium, county commissioners laid out their plan to gain more local control of the multibillion-dollar industry.

Commissioners urged the public to protest at the state Capitol and vote in the upcoming gubernatorial election for a candidate who would be more receptive to statewide implementation of more restrictive regulations.

Super Grid! Spanning Continents In A Single Bound!

Apr 21, 2017
Jordan Wirfs-Brock / Inside Energy

Somewhere in the world, the sun and wind are always shining and blowing, and people are always using electricity. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get renewable power from the windy and sunny places to the power hungry places?

That was presumably the thinking behind a question posed by an Inside Energy audience member:

Would transmission losses be too high to sustain an international green power electrical grid?

Jackie Fortier / KUNC

Looking out the windows of Matt Lepore’s eighth floor corner office in downtown Denver, you see high-rise office buildings and the Rocky Mountains. What you don’t see are any signs of the state’s multibillion-dollar oil and gas industry.

But Lepore said he’s reminded of how contentious oil and gas is to Coloradans every day.

“There are people who think that we are indifferent to them, their concerns, their health, and nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. “And if they would spend a day with my field inspectors and with my environmental people, they would understand that we care.”

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

A group of Greeley residents are suing state officials over drilling regulations known as “setbacks.” State regulations require oil and gas sites to be 1,000 feet away from structures like schools and 500 feet from residences.

KUNC File Photo

With its moratorium on new drilling permits set to expire in a few weeks, Boulder County commissioners unanimously passed new oil and gas regulations. The county calls them the “most restrictive” of such regulations in Colorado. They are about 60 pages and require a much higher environmental and public health standard than the state. Boulder County began the new rule process following two state Supreme Court decisions in 2016 that invalidated hydraulic fracturing bans or long term moratoriums.

Boulder Office of Emergency Management

Final update 7:30 a.m. 3/21/17:

The Sunshine Fire now 100 percent contained. Wonderland Lake is now open, as aerial fire operations and bucket drops are no longer needed.

Firefighters will continue to work overnight on hotspots and flare-ups; mop-up operations will continue Tuesday.

U.S. Drought Monitor

From the Continental Divide east, much of Colorado is in some form of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Lincoln County, southeast of the Denver metro area, is even experiencing dust storms.

“I think that it’s concerning when we start to see conditions getting warm so early,” said Deborah Bathke, climatologist with the University of Nebraska - Lincoln and contributing author at the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Ryan Lockwood / Colorado Satte Forest Service

The Forests to Faucets partnership originally began in 2010 as a response to a series of wildfires, namely the 1996 Buffalo Creek and 2002 Hayman wildfires. Since its inception, the partnership’s goals have grown to not only reduce catastrophic wildfires, but to also restore forests impacted by reservoirs, erosion and beetle devastation.  On Monday, Feb 27, Forests to Faucets was granted a $33 million extension to continue its ongoing projects.

Southern Nevada Water Authority

The Colorado is undeniably the most important river in the American Southwest.

“Every major city gets water out of this basin. 40 million people, seven states, two nations, 22 federally recognized Indian tribes -- everybody depends on it,” said Brad Udall, senior water and climate research scientist at Colorado State University.

According to a new study by Udall and Jonathan Overpeck, a climatologist at the University of Arizona, this essential river is seeing its water levels drop due to climate change.

Inside Energy / Rocky Mountain PBS

Native American tribes continue to fight the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline -- even as the company that owns it says they expect oil to begin flowing within a few weeks.

Last year, thousands showed up to protest the pipeline, which would cross near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota. Many stayed in camps through the winter and hundreds were arrested.

A new documentary, Beyond Standing Rock, explores this story and other recent fights over land and energy development in the U.S.