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Trump Readies to Withdraw from Paris Climate Agreement

President Donald Trump has long wanted the U.S. to withdraw from the Paris agreement on climate change. This week, he began the process to do so.

 

The Paris agreement was signed in 2016, and is a pact among nations to attempt a reduction in carbon emissions. The goal is to keep global temperature change in check. Nations pledge to reduce emissions at a certain level, although the agreement is not binding. Every nation on earth is party to the agreement.

 

According to President Trump, this international agreement hobbles U.S. industrial capacity and costs our nation jobs. He ran for office pledging to withdraw from it, and is putting that promise in action this week. Opponents of his move argue that this is a step backwards in the fight against climate change.

 

The structure of the agreement does not allow a withdrawal from it until three years after signing. That time period elapsed on Monday. The agreement also says that any nation wishing to withdraw must give notice and then wait a year. That means that the U.S. departure will take effect in 2020, a day after the presidential election.

 

While President Obama never submitted this agreement to the Senate for ratification, he did sign it and pledge U.S. support.

 

Do you agree that the U.S. should withdraw from the Paris climate agreement that calls for a reduction in U.S. carbon emissions?

“Right to a Safe Climate” Suit Heads to Alaska High Court

The justices of the Alaskan Supreme Court will soon be hearing a case that poses a unique question – is the state’s promotion of fossil fuels responsible for hurting young Alaskans’ right to a safe climate?

 

The young plaintiffs filing this lawsuit contend that the climate is something that should be held in the public trust like wildlife or air. The state, they say, is harming this climate by promoting the use of fossil fuels. Alaska has a large petroleum industry as well as a state law that calls on the state to support using fossil fuels. Under the lawsuit, the plaintiffs are seeking to have this state fossil fuel law overruled and to require the state to come up with a climate change recovery plan.

 

The basis of the suit is the allegation that the use of fossil fuels by Alaska is causing climate change that will, within the lifetime of young Alaskans, cause irreparable harm. Some of the Alaskans filing the suit are natives whose villages have suffered from rising sea levels.

 

Those opposing the suit argue that the courts are not the place to resolve questions of climate change. Instead, they say, this is best left to scientists to determine what is causing this change and what could be done to mitigate it. Then legislators, not judges, should decide what steps should be taken.

 

Similar lawsuits have been thrown out by Alaska courts in the past, but this one has survived legal scrutiny so far. The state Supreme Court will hear arguments on October 9, then render a decision if this case can go to trial.

 

Do you support lawsuits over climate change?

Trump Administration Expands Ethanol Mandate

Today the Trump Administration took steps to shore up support among corn farmers – it announced a package of changes to the federal biofuels mandate that will increase the use of ethanol.

 

Under the new rules announced today, the Environmental Protection Agency will require that oil refiners use a higher mix of biofuels. By next year this will require 15 billion more galls of biofuels to be used than the law creating the renewable fuel standard mandated.

 

During the administration of George W. Bush, Congress passed legislation creating a mandate that refiners must use a certain amount of biofuel. This is known as the renewable fuel standard, and is an area of contention between farmers and refiners and others who oppose ethanol.

 

Farmers support a stricter biofuel mandate because it leads to a larger market for corn. Refiners oppose it because they are forced to mix biofuel with traditional petroleum fuel, a practice they claim causes economic losses. Many consumer groups also oppose the use of biofuel like ethanol, arguing that it ruins engines and leads to lower fuel mileage.

 

The Trump Administration has generally been friendly towards the ethanol industry. Earlier this year it relaxed restrictions on the sale of fuel that contains a blend of 15% ethanol, or E15. That level of ethanol in the fuel represents an increase from the 10% ethanol fuel blends being sold.

 

Many farmers have been upset with the Trump Administration’s trade war, which has led to a loss of markets for some of their crops. They praised this move on biofuels as a way to help boost the farm economy. The petroleum industry blasted it, however, saying that it will lead to a loss of jobs in refineries.

 

Do you support the government mandating the use of more ethanol and biofuels?

Kamala Harris Backs Nationwide Plastic Straw Ban

Want a plastic straw with your drink in a restaurant? Sen. Kamala Harris doesn’t think that is a good idea.

 

During a CNN debate on climate change, Sen. Harris said that she supports a national ban on plastic straws. She did, however, acknowledge that paper straws do not work very well. Her campaign has said that she wants to see more innovation in straw production to make the elimination of plastic straws feasible. The debate was being held for the candidates vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

 

California has a statewide ban on restaurants offering a plastic straw to a customer unless the customer requests one. A variety of cities have also enacted similar straw bans. Florida legislators passed a law that would prevent local governments from banning plastic straws, but Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed it.

 

Plastic straws have come under attack from critics who allege they contribute to pollution, especially in the ocean. These backers of straw bans contend that ocean wildlife are harmed by these straws. Opponents of a straw ban counter that plastic pollution in the ocean overwhelmingly comes from places other than the U.S. They say that banning plastic straws will do very little, if anything, to address pollution concerns and will only inconvenience American consumers.

 

Do you support banning plastic straws?

Kamala Harris Backs Nationwide Plastic Straw Ban

Want a plastic straw with your drink in a restaurant? Sen. Kamala Harris doesn’t think that is a good idea.

 

During a CNN debate on climate change, Sen. Harris said that she supports a national ban on plastic straws. She did, however, acknowledge that paper straws do not work very well. Her campaign has said that she wants to see more innovation in straw production to make the elimination of plastic straws feasible. The debate was being held for the candidates vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

 

California has a statewide ban on restaurants offering a plastic straw to a customer unless the customer requests one. A variety of cities have also enacted similar straw bans. Florida legislators passed a law that would prevent local governments from banning plastic straws, but Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed it.

 

Plastic straws have come under attack from critics who allege they contribute to pollution, especially in the ocean. These backers of straw bans contend that ocean wildlife are harmed by these straws. Opponents of a straw ban counter that plastic pollution in the ocean overwhelmingly comes from places other than the U.S. They say that banning plastic straws will do very little, if anything, to address pollution concerns and will only inconvenience American consumers.

 

Do you support banning plastic straws?

House to Consider Offshore Drilling Ban in September

The House of Representatives will take up the future of offshore drilling when it returns from its August recess.

 

In September, the House will be voting on two bills that would ban offshore drilling:

 

HR 205 – To permanently ban natural gas and oil exploration in the eastern part of the Gulf of Mexico.

 

HR 1941 – To prohibit issuing federal leases for oil and natural gas development in the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf or the Pacific Continental Shelf. This would effectively ban offshore drilling off of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

 

Currently there is a moratorium on offshore natural gas and oil production in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. The Trump Administration is considering a five-year energy leasing plan that would allow oil and gas development in the Atlantic Ocean from New Jersey to Florida. President Obama considered allowing offshore drilling in the Atlantic, but reversed course after the Deepwater Horizon accident in 2010.

 

Plans to allow oil and natural gas production in more offshore areas has been controversial. Supporters say it is a way to create jobs in coastal communities. They also note that there could be large amounts of gas and oil offshore that could be developed and reduce American reliance on foreign energy. Opponents fear accidents that would harm the environment and other coastal activities such as recreation and fishing.

 

There is bipartisan support for both the bills that will be considered by the House, and they are expected to pass. However, it is unlikely that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will schedule a vote on them.

 

Do you support permanently banning offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans?

Trump May Allow More Logging in Alaskan National Forest

Nearly 20 years ago, President Bill Clinton put in place a sweeping order that placed millions of acres of national forests off-limits to logging. Now President Donald Trump is considering reversing that move for a national forest in Alaska.

 

During his last days in office, President Clinton signed an executive order that banned road construction in 58.5 million acres of national forests. This “roadless rule” effectively prevents logging and other activity, such as using motorized vehicles. In Alaska, governors and members of Congress have fought to have the rule rolled back for the Tongass National Forest. President Trump is considering allowing this.

 

National forests are designated for multiple uses, such as logging, mining, conservation, and recreation. Congress can also designate wild areas as “wilderness,” which prevents any motorized uses of that area. Portions of the Tongass National Forest have been designated as wilderness, and other portions already have roads built on them. President Trump’s move would affect over 9 million acres that are still covered by the roadless rule.

 

Alaskan officials who want to remove this area from the roadless rule note that the national forest was always intended for uses that included logging. They say that Congress has protected vital areas of the forest from human uses. They argue that logging can create jobs and remove dead and dying trees that could fuel wildfires. Environmentalists, however, push back against attempts to allow logging in the Tongass. They say that this is a vital area for salmon and old-growth forests.

 

After President Clinton left office, President George W. Bush tried to reverse the roadless rule. These efforts were tied up in the courts. Any move by President Trump to withdraw the roadless rule from the Tongass National Forest will also likely end up in multiple lawsuits.

 

Do you support allowing more logging in the Tongass National Forest?

Washington State Fracking Ban Takes Effect

On Sunday, the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, became illegal in Washington State.

 

Supporters of the ban say it’s a victory for the environment. Opponents say that it’s a meaningless gesture that betrays a lack of knowledge about how fracking works.

 

During the past fifteen years, the use of hydraulic fracturing to access oil and natural gas has skyrocketed. This technique involves injecting a pressurized mixture of water, sand, and chemicals far into the ground to break up rock and release natural gas or oil. It is largely responsible for the increased production of these energy sources in the U.S.

 

The technique has its critics, however. Some say that it pollutes groundwater and also diverts water from other sources. Others argue that by making it cheaper to access oil and natural gas, fracking is contributing to climate change.

 

Fracking has its supporters, however. They argue that fracking has reduce the price of natural gas, which has allowed gas to displace coal for energy production. That, they point out, has reduced U.S. carbon emissions. These supporters also point to studies that show that fracking does not pollute water sources.

 

This debate was largely symbolic in Washington, however. That state does not have a large oil and natural gas industry, and fracking was not used there. With the passage of the fracking ban, this process cannot be used in the future, either.

 

Do you think that fracking should be banned?

Trump Carbon Reduction Rule Displeases Environmentalists

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized a regulation that mandates a reduction in U.S. carbon emissions of 30% over 2005 levels by 2030. Environmentalist say it does not go far enough.

 

The new carbon emissions regulation is a replacement of the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan. Under that rule, which would have required states to take a host of steps to restructure the power sector with the goal of reducing carbon emissions. Under the Trump plan, states will have more flexibility to meet its goals.

 

Critics decry the EPA’s actions as being insufficient. They say that the U.S. must cut carbon emissions by at least 60% in order to prevent a 2 degree increase in global temperature. Because of the phase-out of high-carbon coal power plants, U.S. carbon emissions have been falling in recent years. Some observers say the nation is on track to meet the new regulatory goals because of this effect.

 

President Trump came into office vowing to support the coal industry and roll back Obama Administration environmental policies. The president has also expressed skepticism about humans causing global warming.

 

Do you support federal climate change rules that mandate how electricity is produced to reduce carbon emissions? Or should the federal government set an overall carbon emissions reduction goal and let states determine how to meet that limit?

House Calls for Action on Climate Change

President Trump is not a big fan of the Paris climate change agreement, which requires countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. He has pledged to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement. This week the House of Representatives passed a bill that would prevent him from doing so.

 

HR 9 would require the president to develop a plan that would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 26%-28%, based on 2005 levels. It would also prohibit the use of federal funding to withdraw from the Paris agreement. This bill passed 231-190, with 3 Republicans voting for it and no Democrats opposing it. An amendment by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) that would have stripped the prohibition from withdrawing from the Paris agreement failed by a vote of 189-234.

 

President Obama signed the Paris Agreement in 2015, but did not submit it to the Senate for ratification. He argued that it was not a treaty that required ratification. President Trump has pledged to withdraw from the treaty by 2020.

 

The treaty, signed by more than 190 countries, requires the U.S. to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and commit money to assist climate change efforts in developing countries.

 

Supporters say such an agreement is necessary to stop climate change. They say that if the U.S. does not participate it will hurt efforts to slow down global warming. Critics say that it would kill jobs and hurt U.S. economic growth.

 

HR 9 now goes to the Senate, where it is unlikely to be brought for a vote.

 

Should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions? What do you think should be done about climate change, if anything?

Senate Takes up Green New Deal

The Green New Deal sets an ambitious agenda for the U.S.: zero greenhouse gas emissions, upgrading all existing buildings for energy efficiency, shielding business owners from unfair competition, and providing education, health care, and housing for everyone. Senators will soon go on the record as to whether they support this plan.

 

In the House of Representatives, newly-elected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been championing the Green New Deal. Even though that body is controlled by Democrats, her House resolution is unlikely to get a vote. However, in the Republican-controlled Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is bringing up this plan for a vote.

 

Here is how he Congressional Research Service summarizes the various proposals in the S.J. Res 8, Green New Deal resolution:

 

  • Building smart power grids (i.e., power grids that enable customers to reduce their power use during peak demand periods);
  • Upgrading all existing buildings and constructing new buildings to achieve maximum energy and water efficiency;
  • Removing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation and agricultural sectors;
  • Cleaning up existing hazardous waste and abandoned sites;
  • Ensuring businesspersons are free from unfair competition; and
  • Providing higher education, high-quality health care, and affordable, safe, and adequate housing to all.

 

The planned Senate vote has some Democrats displeased. Many, if not all, are planning on voting “present” when the resolution is considered. They accuse the majority leader of playing politics. Senator McConnell, however, says that if this is such a popular idea in the Democratic Party, then Democratic senators should not be upset that he’s holding a vote on it.

 

Do you support the Green New Deal? Should the U.S. pursue a policy of zero greenhouse gas emissions? Is it the government’s place to provide health care, education, and housing to everyone?

 

Trump Admin Announces Nuclear Power Support

With the Senate readying a vote on the Green New Deal this week, the Trump Administration recently announced a big boost for nuclear power.

 

Speaking to nuclear power plant employees in Georgia, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said that “This is the real new green deal.” He used the opportunity on Friday to announce that the federal government would issue taxpayer-backed guarantees for building new nuclear power plants. This is similar to arrangements made during the Obama Administration to support construction of new nuclear plants.

 

The Trump Administration has long supported nuclear power, pointing out that it is a way to produce electricity without carbon emissions. They also note that nuclear power can generate electricity regardless of the weather conditions. Administration officials say that this power source should be a big part of any strategy to combat climate change.

 

Some Democrats, however, have a different view. They prefer renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind, for carbon-free power generation. The Green New Deal does not include provisions to increase the use of nuclear power.

 

Because of strict regulations and a high cost to construct new facilities, nuclear power plant operators rely on federal loan guarantees. Even with these guarantees, however, some new plants are behind schedule for completion. The electricity produced by these plants is also more expensive than electricity produced by natural gas plants, which is causing issues for existing nuclear power plant operators.

 

Do you think that the federal government should guarantee loans for nuclear power plant construction? Are nuclear power plants a good way to produce carbon-free electricity?

Styrofoam Ban Advances in Maryland

It may soon be illegal for Maryland businesses to serve food or drinks in Styrofoam containers.

 

This week the state Senate passed legislation that would outlaw the use of polystyrene foam, commonly known as Styrofoam, containers in food service. Retailers are also banned from selling such containers under the legislation.

 

Three of Maryland’s largest counties already ban the use of this product, as does Baltimore City.

 

Supporters of the measure said that it was a good way to cut down a product that could not be recycled and did not easily biodegrade. They said this ban would save space in landfills and reduce litter. Opponents argued that the burden would fall on small businesses. They also said that it would have no real effect on litter or the environment, since only a tiny amount of litter involved Styrofoam.

 

The legislation now moves to the House of Delegates for consideration.

 

Do you support a ban on Styrofoam food containers?

Ocasio-Cortez Wants Tax Hike to Fund “Green New Deal”

She’s only a freshman member of Congress, but Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is already spurring a national debate over tax rates and environmental spending. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez recently proposed increasing the top marginal tax rate to 70% in order to pay for a variety of environmental programs known as the “Green New Deal.”

 

While there is no formal proposal, this Green New Deal is a concept that has been discussed over the past few years in liberal and progressive circles. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is supporting a plan that would transition the U.S. to an economy that stops using carbon-based energy (such as oil, natural gas, and coal), spend trillions of dollars, guarantees federal jobs, and addresses inequality. These are goals, not policy proposals. She has called for House leadership to form a select committee to study the issue and develop legislation.

 

In order to pay for this plan, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has said that the tax rates on wealthy individuals should be increased to 70%. She has floated the idea that on income of $10 million or above, that this rate should apply. She argues that marginal tax rates in the past were much higher, so this idea has already been tried. In her view, the wealthy should pay their “fair share,” which means taxing $10 million in income at a much higher rate than it is taxed today.

 

This idea was immediately attacked by critics who said that it would be a massive tax hike, putting the U.S. rates far above other nations’ tax rates. This would discourage work and encourage tax avoidance. These critics pointed out that while high marginal tax rates existed in the past, there were also many more loopholes for high-income taxpayers.

 

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has also said that taxes may not need to be raised to pay for environmental programs. She argues that other measures, such as tax cuts and military spending increases, are paid for by deficit spending, so the Green New Deal could be funded in that way, too.

 

Do you support increasing the tax rate to 70% on incomes over $10 million? Should the federal government spend trillions of dollars on new environmental programs?

Idea to End Gasoline-Powered Cars Floated in Massachusetts

In 2040, there will be no more gasoline-powered cars or light trucks in Massachusetts. At least, that is what a state commission is recommending as a goal for state transportation policy.

 

Governor Charlie Baker assembled the group to examine the future of transportation in the Bay State. This panel recently released a host of recommendations to reshape the state’s transportation policy with an eye on reducing carbon emissions.

 

One of the proposals is to phase out the use of cars and light trucks that are powered by gasoline and instead phase in the use of electric vehicles. The state could do this by offering financial incentives for people to purchase these vehicles. They group also recommended more electric charging stations around the state as well as converting the state government fleet into electric vehicles.

 

Supporters of the increased use of electric vehicles argue that only by moving away from burning fossil fuels can the U.S. combat climate change. They say that with cars and trucks emitting large amounts of carbon, it only makes sense to use electric vehicles if the state is going to get serious about lowering carbon emissions. Skeptics of the plan say that it will be very expensive to make this type of change. They also note that the electricity that powers electric vehicles may be produced by burning coal, which also emits carbon.

 

The goal of the commission is to consider ways to reduce congestion as well as to lower the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. Among the group’s recommendations to deal with congestion is to impose congestion pricing for drivers into Boston, which would mean drivers entering at more popular times would pay higher tolls.

 

Governor Baker has not endorsed any of the report’s recommendations.

 

Do you think that states should set a goal to phase out the use of gasoline-powered cars? Should the government offer subsidies for people who purchase electric cars?

Feds Authorize Seismic Testing for Oil & Gas in the Atlantic

The Trump Administration took another step down the road of expanding offshore exploration for oil and natural gas this week. The federal government approved permits for companies to use seismic testing off the Atlantic coast to determine how much oil and natural gas exist there.

 

The process of seismic testing involves companies using airguns to test the seabed. The loud blasts help determine where energy deposits are and how much oil and natural gas may be in certain areas.

 

This testing has been opposed by many coastal politicians. They argue that the loud airguns will disrupt wildlife. Many of the elected officials also opposes offshore drilling, and they view this as only the first step towards that type of energy development being approved. Supporters of seismic testing say that it has minimal disruption to sea life. They also note that it is necessary to determine where oil and natural gas exist in order to pinpoint where any new drilling would occur. They say without testing that drilling would be much more widespread.

 

The debate over offshore oil and gas drilling has being ongoing for years. The Outer Continental Shelf is currently off-limits to oil and gas production. The Obama Administration initially supported expanding areas for energy exploration, but reversed course. The Trump Administration has signaled that it would like to see more areas opened up for drilling.

 

The permits issued by the federal government for seismic testing could cover areas from New Jersey to Florida. It is unclear where testing will actually take place, however.

 

Do you support using seismic testing to see how much oil and natural gas exist off the Atlantic coast? Do you think the U.S. should expand offshore drilling?

Washington May Ban Plastic Bags

If you go grocery shopping in Washington, you had better bring your reusable bags. At least, that is what some legislators in that state want to see begin happening next year.

 

Under a proposal unveiled by legislators this week, stores could no longer offer single-use bags to customers. Instead, customers who do not bring their own reusable bags would be required to pay ten cents for each bag they use at a store. Certain types of bags, such as those for produce or prescriptions, would not be subject to this ban.

 

This law is similar to a California law. Other local governments around the country have also enacted bans or fees on plastic bags. Twenty three local governments in Washington have some kind of restrictions on plastic bag use. This law would establish a statewide standard.

 

Supporters of this law argue that it is a good way to discourage the use of bags that end up in the ocean and harm marine wildlife. They say that banning stores from giving the bags out for free will lead to less litter and fewer bags in landfills. Opponents point out that plastic bags are a miniscule proportion of the waste that ends up in oceans. They contend that such bans hit poor shoppers harder than wealthier shoppers.

 

The Washington legislature convenes in January. It is unclear if this legislation has enough support to be approved by either chamber.

 

Do you think that states should ban stores from giving customers plastic bags?

House Votes to Remove Wolves from Endangered Species List

The House of Representatives waded into the debate over endangered species during the current lame duck session. By approving legislation to end the endangered status of gray wolves, members of the House took a step that was cheered by many ranchers but panned by environmental activists.

 

While they were once declining, gray wolf populations in the United States have been growing in recent decades. In some areas of the country, such as Idaho and Montana, wolf populations have reached a point where they have been taken off the endangered species list, a process called “de-listing.” In the Great Lakes region, a judge halted a 2011 Interior Department regulation to de-list the wolf population.

 

By a vote of 196-180, the House approved H.R. 6784, the Manage our Wolves Act. One section would remove the gray wolf population in Wyoming and the Great Lakes from protections under the Endangered Species Act. Another section would dictate that no gray wolves in the lower 48 states would be considered endangered. Mexican wolves are not covered under this legislation and would still have protected status.

 

If an animal is listed as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act, there are numerous restrictions on what humans can do to the animals. In the case of wolves, these restrictions led to many conflicts with landowners, especially in the west. Ranchers were especially concerned about wolves killing their livestock. Supporters of removing the wolves’ endangered status say that this will allow states to design plans that will both protect wolves but also take into account landowners’ concerns. Opponents of this legislation argue that wolves play a vital role in ecosystem management, and their numbers show that they still deserve federal protection.

 

This legislation now moves to the Senate. Given the short time before the lame duck session ends, it is unlikely that this body will approve it before adjourning.

 

Do you support removing wolves from the endangered species list?

Judge Temporarily Halts Keystone Pipeline

The long fight continues over whether or not the Keystone XL Pipeline will be built. Yesterday a federal judge issued an order that will temporarily stop plans to construct the controversial pipeline. According to this judge, the federal government needs to do more environmental evaluations before it can allow construction to proceed.

 

If completed, the Keystone XL Pipeline will transport oil from Canada and the upper Great Plains to Nebraska. It has been controversial with environmental and Indian groups. They argue that the oil it will transport is produced in ways that are very damaging to the environment, and that the pipeline runs across land that is sacred to Native Americans. Pipeline supporters counter that obtaining this oil from Canada will reduce U.S. reliance on Middle Eastern oil, increasing our national security and decreasing the power of nations that are unfriendly to the U.S.

 

The Obama Administration considered and eventually rejected an application by TransCanada, the pipeline’s owner, to construct it across the U.S./Canadian boundary. President Donald Trump reversed course, approving the pipeline application. However, there have been numerous lawsuits filed to stop its construction.

 

One of those lawsuits alleged that the State Department and TransCanada violated the National Environmental Policy Act. A federal judge has agreed, ordering the Trump Administration to do further environmental review before allowing pipeline construction.

 

This ruling is not a rejection of the federal government’s approval of TransCanada’s application. Instead, it merely requires the federal government to do further environmental reviews to satisfy the National Environmental Policy Act. It is likely that once those reviews are completed, the Trump Administration will conclude that the Keystone XL Pipeline can be built.

 

Do you support construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline?

Colorado Oil and Gas Production May Face New Restrictions

Colorado is one of the top oil- and natural gas-producing states in the nation. But a ballot measure may have a dramatic impact on the future of this industry. Proposition 112 would impose new setbacks that opponents contend would kill much of the state’s energy development. Supporters counter that these new rules are necessary to protect the public.

 

The oil and gas industry has a long history in Colorado. With the advent of the shale revolution, which led to a significant oil and gas output thanks to hydraulic fracturing, Colorado’s energy production underwent a renaissance during the past decade. This increased production has led to conflicts with some municipalities and residents over pollution claims and noise complaints.

 

There have been a variety of legislative efforts to curb oil and gas production in the state. These range from local laws to citizen-led initiatives, although many have failed to gain traction or have been shut down in the courts. Proposition 112 is the most significant of these proposals. It would mandate that any new oil and gas development be set back 2,500 feet from homes, schools, playgrounds, rivers, creeks, and anything else local governments determine as a “vulnerable area.” Currently the state imposes a 1,000 feet setback from high-occupancy buildings such as schools, 500 feet from occupied homes, and 350 feet from playgrounds.

 

The supporters of Proposition 112 argue that oil and gas production, especially when it involves hydraulic fracturing, poses a variety of health threats to the public. These setbacks, they argue, will ensure that these hazardous operations are not too close to people.

 

Opponents of Proposition 112 say that these setbacks would essentially end almost all new oil and gas production in the state. They contend that few areas would be left to explore for oil and natural gas after the setbacks are put into place. They point out if that happens it could lead to tens of thousands of jobs being lost, the state’s economy taking a big hit, and tax revenue going down. They also argue that Colorado has strict regulations on oil and natural gas development, so a new setback rule is unnecessary.

 

Both the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor oppose Proposition 112. If the voters approve it, there will likely be a legal fight prior to its implementation.

 

Do you think that oil and natural gas production should face stricter regulation?

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