Colorado’s battle of the booms: Suburban growth vs. oil & gas

0 View Gallery  View Comments In October, an overflow crowd of Front Range residents, brandishing signs and wearing surgical masks, descended on the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) meeting to voice opposition to a plan to drill oil wells in Broomfield. "We need a say. Tell the state it's not OK," they chanted. In January, when notice went out on social media that oil and gas attorney Matt Sura was going to offer a briefing to homeowners on oil leasing, more than 200 people turned out at Thornton's Margret A. Carpenter Recreation Center. Feelings about oil and gas drilling continue to run high in Colorado's Front Range suburbs, and the pressure has been on local officials, who are getting little satisfaction from state regulators. The COGCC has primacy on oil and gas regulation, but local governments are seeking ways to address the impacts of drilling in their communities while not running afoul of the state. At the same time, they are facing a housing and population boom, with the five counties north of Denver adding 187,000 new residents between 2010 and 2016. Also: Disabled vet’s lawsuit accuses Colorado Springs, neighbors of violating accessibility laws "This 'mixed state and local concern' is an age-old issue," said Sam Mamet, executive director of the Colorado Municipal League. "This has also been going on for a long time with oil and gas. What is new is the new growth it is colliding with." After a lull during the recession, the price of oil has nearly doubled in the last year to more than $58.71 a barrel for benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude as of Feb. 13, and drilling in the Niobrara shale beneath Colorado's Wattenberg Field has responded. The number of drill rigs, which varies from month to month, in 2017 ranged from 20 to 30 compared with 12 to 18 a year earlier. At the same time, there were 3,660 new housing starts in 2017 in the nine municipalities stretching from Thornton to Timnath, the heart of the oil Continue Reading

Home prices hit all-time high in Texas, median at $200,000

By Rebecca Salinas, / San Antonio Express-News Updated 12:10 pm, Tuesday, August 4, 2015 window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-5', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 5', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-10', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 10', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-15', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 15', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-20', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 20', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-25', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 25', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-30', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 30', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-35', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 35', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-40', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails Continue Reading

Hawaii’s Governor Dumps Oil and Gas in Favor of 100 Percent Renewables

At the Asia Pacific Resilience Innovation Summit held in Honolulu, Hawaii, this week, Governor David Ige dropped a bombshell. His administration will not use natural gas to replace the state’s petroleum-fueled electricity plants, but will make a full-court press toward 100 percent renewables by 2045. Ige’s decisive and ambitious energy vision is making Hawaii into the world’s most important laboratory for humankind’s fight against climate change. He has, in addition, attracted an unlikely and enthusiastic partner in his embrace of green energy—the US military. Ige said Monday that LNG (liquefied natural gas) will not save the state money over time, given the plummeting prices of renewables. Moreover, “it is a fossil fuel,” i.e., it emits dangerous greenhouse gases. He explained that local jurisdictions in Hawaii are putting up a fight against natural gas, making permitting difficult. Finally, any money put into retooling electric plants so as to run on gas, he said, is money that would better be invested in the transition to green energy. Ige, trained as an electrical engineer, is leading his state in the most ambitious clean-energy program in the United States. On June 8, he signed into law a bill calling for Hawaii’s electricity to be entirely generated from renewables in only 30 years. He also directed that the University of Hawaii be net carbon zero in just 20 years. As a set of islands, Hawaii faces special energy difficulties. Residents pay the highest rates for electricity of any state in the union. Last year, before the recent oil price drop, residential electricity averaged around 36 cents per kilowatt hour (the US average is 12 cents/kwh). On the mainland, states that do not generate enough electricity themselves can import it from their neighbors. Islands in the middle of the Pacific just have what they can make themselves. Because Hawaii’s energy plants were built before it was Continue Reading

New energy source? This tiny moon circling Saturn has more oil and gas than Earth

Imagine a place with hundreds of times more natural gases and other liquid hydrocarbons than all of the known oil and gas reserves on our bountiful planet. As it turns out, that place is a comparatively small, smoggy and perpetually drizzly moon in our very own solar system, happily orbiting around Saturn.On Titan, the largest of Saturn’s 62 moons, hydrocarbons naturally rain down from the skies in a “dreary drizzle” and collect in the form of vast lakes and dunes. This has long been known or at least surmised, but now we have proof and quantitative data thanks to NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.Whereas the majority of the earth’s surface is covered in water, the greater part of Titan is covered in lakes, seas, and flooded river valleys full of liquid methane and ethane, while the dunes are made up of not sand, but likely of tholins, a category of organic materials formed by carbon-containing compounds (CO2, methane, ethane, and more) and solar ultraviolet irradiation or other cosmic rays. These materials do not form naturally on earth, but they’re carbon-rich treasure troves of carbon-based organic matter that can explode into prebiotic life in the presence of water. In fact, tholins likely played a role in the origin of life on Earth.Scientists can surmise the depth and volume of Titan’s lakes based on their pitch-black appearance on radar and by comparing with depth averages exported from our own planets statistics. These observations are based on findings in the northern polar regions of Saturn’s largest moon. Cassini has only viewed the southern reaches of Titan once with their radar technology, but few lakes were immediately visible. NASA’s Cassini craft has used radar to map about 20% of Titan’s carbon-rich surface. Just within this fraction of the moon’s surface, NASA has been able to observe hundreds of lakes and seas, several dozen of which are estimated to contain more liquid hydrocarbons Continue Reading

Drivers brace for gas price jump after pipeline explosion

Here we go again.For the second time in two months, a pipeline that supplies gasoline to millions of people has been shut down, raising the specter of another round of gas shortages and price increases.The latest disruption occurred Monday when a track hoe – a machine used to remove dirt – struck a major gasoline pipeline in Alabama, causing an explosion that killed one worker and injured five others. A fire was still burning at the site Wednesday and Colonial Pipeline, which operates the system, said they hope to have the pipeline reopen by Saturday, but noted that could change."There are a lot of unknowns at this point as far as how quickly they'll be able to get the pipeline repaired," AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman Ken Grant said. "That's one of the main factors that will determine whether we see a significant impact on gas prices."Motorists filling up at a Wawa near New Castle on Wednesday said they're bracing for a hit at the pumps."I'm sure they're going to pinch us," said Larry Newman of Bear. "Now is their opportunity to make gas prices go up so they get a couple more dollars."The owner of Delaware Glass Tinting, Newman said he drives up to 1,000 miles a week in the 2006 Toyota Tacoma he uses to make house calls on his residential and commercial customers."I start to feel it once the price goes up 5 to 6 cents," he said. "At one point, I was going to New Jersey and filling up all my vehicles on the weekend, but Christie had to go and mess that up."The nearly 5,600-mile Colonial Pipeline system is the largest refined products pipeline network in the nation, carrying more than 100 million gallons a day of gasoline, jet fuel, home heating oil and other hazardous liquids between the Gulf Coast and the New York Harbor area.If the name Colonial Pipeline sounds familiar, it may be because a September leak in the company's pipeline spilled up to 336,000 gallons of gasoline and caused a 12-day interruption in the flow of about Continue Reading

Fire sale on burnables: Oil, natural gas, coal

NEW YORK – These days it seems whatever can be burned to power a car, heat a home, make electricity or ship people and goods around the globe is being sold at bargain basement prices.Prices for coal, natural gas, oil and the fuels made from crude such as gasoline and diesel are all far less expensive than they have been in recent years.Consumers are rejoicing. Fossil fuel companies are reeling. Countries that import energy, such as the U.S., China, Japan and those in the European Union, are getting an economic boost. Exporters, such as Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela are facing lower income and budget shortfalls.The possible effect of cheap fossil fuels on the environment is unclear — low prices certainly make them more tempting to burn, but low prices can also help discourage exploration in sensitive locations and open the way for environmentally-friendly policies.The recent price declines are a result of complex factors that have led to a simple outcome: There is more than enough fossil fuels at the ready than customers need."We just have too much energy hitting the world," says Suzanne Minter, manager for oil and gas consulting at Bentek Energy, a division of Platts. Crude oilPrice: Average for the year through July is $53 a barrel, down 48 percent compared with the same period last year and on track for its lowest annual average since 2004. U.S. crude inched up Tuesday to $45.55 a barrel in afternoon trading, but it has fallen 20 percent in the past month.Reason: Huge increases in oil production in the U.S. and Canada, along with sizable gains in Iraq and elsewhere, helped boost global supplies. Saudi Arabia and other OPEC nations kept pumping crude at high levels. Iranian crude could soon return to the market after being kept off by sanctions. Meanwhile, global demand for crude is not as strong as expected because China's growth has cooled and other economies have become more energy efficient. FuelsGasoline: The average U.S. retail price is Continue Reading

Demand for oil has biggest dip in 26 years

Consumers are cutting back - big time. Demand for oil in the U.S. during the first half of this year fell by an average of 800,000 barrels per day from a year ago, the biggest volume decline in 26 years. The report from the Energy Information Administration yesterday cited slower economic growth and the impact of high fuel prices. The drop in U.S. demand helped offset a 1.3-million barrels per day increase in petroleum consumption in nonindustrial countries during the first half of the year. As a result, preliminary data show that global oil consumption rose by 500,000 barrels per day in the six-month period, the EIA said. The drop in demand on the home front comes as oil prices worldwide continue to fall. Crude fell $1.44 yesterday to $113.01 a barrel, after falling to $112.31 earlier - the lowest level since May 2. High gas prices have been the main reason for decreasing demand, but the EIA expects lower pump costs through December than previously forecast. However, consumers will be hit with much higher heating fuel costs this winter, the agency warned. The average residential price for heating oil during the upcoming heating season is expected to jump 31% from last winter. Households that use natural gas as their heating fuel will likely see a price boost of about 22%, the EIA said.   Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

New shocker from Con Ed: Forget 13% hike, now it’s 22% thanks to soaring oil

Get ready for a summer jolt from Con Ed. Residential customers will pay 22% more for electricity this year than last summer - one of the biggest year-to-year increases on record, the utility giant predicts. And it's not all the fault of Con Ed - the company New Yorkers love to hate. The surging price of natural gas and oil, which has doubled in the past year, is behind most of the huge hike, the utility says. Business customers will be hit with a 25% increase, according to a Con Ed forecast obtained by the Daily News. As recently as June 5, Con Ed projected the average summer month's bill would increase 13% over last year, but in the past four weeks alone, crude oil prices have soared by more than $20 a barrel. News of yet another wallet-busting increase hit New Yorkers hard. "All our rates are going up - and our blood pressure is going up," groaned Anthony Dunbar, 37, a Queens employment counselor. Harlem flea market vendor Cruz Reyes, 44, said she is already living without air conditioning this summer for the first time. "I can't afford it," said Reyes, whose monthly utilities bill is about $150. Cherise Parson, 40, of Laurelton, Queens, said she pays $130 a month. "I haven't started putting on the air conditioners yet," she said. The unemployed mother of two said she's afraid that the projected increases will leave her unable to pay the bill - and in the dark. A small part of the summer-to-summer jump is a 5.7% Con Ed rate hike that was approved by a state agency and went into effect April 1. The rest of the slamming increase comes from the rising cost of wholesale electricity that it buys from power-generating companies for distribution. Natural gas and oil are used to power those plants. The utility is allowed to pass those costs along to customers. "We don't make a nickel from generation," said Con Ed spokesman Chris Olert. And generation costs will increase more than 16% from last summer, according to the Continue Reading

Oil bucks pour into NYC

Related, the real estate giant behind such Manhattan landmarks as the Time Warner Center, is drumming up needed cash from Mideast investment groups. The company, one of the nation's largest developers, will get $1.4 billion from its new investors, which include Goldman Sachs and the investment firm of Dell founder Michael Dell, MSD Capital. Related said yesterday that Goldman and MSD bought 7.5% in privately held Related. Mubadala Development Company, the investment company of the government of Abu Dhabi; the Olayan Group, a Saudi Arabian investment company; and another unnamed company also agreed to buy an unspecified amount of Related's debt. "These new financial partnerships ensure that Related has a ready and deep source of capital to take advantage of virtually any opportunity regardless of size or scale," said Stephen Ross, Related's chairman. While Related's current projects are fully financed, the money will help pay for future residential and commercial projects, the company said. The investment does not include any involvement in the management of the company. The deal underscores the increasing role Mideast investors are playing in U.S. commercial real estate. Flush from soaring oil prices, they have been increasingly sought out for funds. Direct purchases of U.S. office buildings, hotels, industrial property, apartments and shopping centers by Mideast investors has more than doubled since 2003 to $7.5 billion in 2007, according to Real Capital Analytics. Related is among five groups competing for the development rights to the West Side Rail Yards, a 26-acre development site. Related agreed to the investment deal to show it had the ability to finance the West Side project, company President Jeff Blau told Bloomberg News. Related also is a partner with Vornado in the redevelopment of the Penn Station area, a plan that would include a new rail station and a new Madison Square Garden, plus 5.4 million square feet of new office Continue Reading

THEY’RE DOING A SLOW BURN High heating prices steam homeowners

WITH HEATING COSTS like these, it may soon be cheaper just to start burning money. Even amid an unusually mild winter, a huge spike in oil and natural gas prices - spurred by speculators - is sending the cost of staying warm skyrocketing, leaving homeowners, well, out in the cold. "I have no idea how I'm going to keep up with this," said Claire Corey, whose latest monthly gas bill to heat her Brooklyn home was a whopping $700. "It's definitely affected my budget," the Bedford-Stuyvesant woman said. KeySpan, which provides utility service for Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island, projects an average residential bill of $1,685 for customers from November through March - an expected increase of 24% from the winter of 2004-05. Con Edison expects a 32% spike in gas costs from last year for its 1 million customers in Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens and Westchester. "It's the price of fuel," said Michael Clendenin, a Con Ed spokesman. "We don't make a markup, we strictly deliver the energy. " Homeowners with oil heat are also feeling squeezed, with prices up 23% from a year ago - at $2. 68 a gallon, according to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. A year ago, a gallon of home-heating oil cost $2. 19. "Some things have to be cut back," said Peggy O'Kane, 67, of Ridgewood, Queens. "I save less, and if I go out to dinner, I'll buy the $6. 98 special instead of the $10. 98 special. " Analysts pin the spike in prices not on demand, but on speculation that has created a runaway market. Unrest in the oil-rich nations of Nigeria and Iran hasn't helped, either. And get this: It could be much worse. "One would wonder what the prices would be if it had actually been cold," said Tom Kloza, chief analyst for the Oil Price Information Service in New Jersey. That has already occurred to Mary Lauro, a Bronx retiree whose bills are already stretching her budget. "If it gets really cold, I'll be looking at $1,200 Continue Reading