The U.S. Department of Interior decided Tuesday that the greater sage grouse does not need protection under the Endangered Species Act. The bird spans 11 western states including Colorado, where it lives in pockets along the western slope, but is mostly concentrated in the northwest part of the state.

Gov. John Hickenlooper was one of the many people working to avoid a federal listing for the bird. While the sage grouse decision is a win for the governor, a few other initiatives – and longtime battles in Colorado – still need his attention.

When you flip on a light switch, odds are, you're burning coal. But as the fracking boom continues to unleash huge quantities of natural gas, the nation's electric grid is changing. Power plants are increasingly turning to this low-cost, cleaner-burning fossil fuel.

Bill Pentak stands in the middle of a construction site, looking up at his company's latest project towering overhead — a new natural gas power plant.

New York state's Seneca Lake is the heart of the Finger Lakes, a beautiful countryside of steep glacier-carved hills and long slivers of water with deep beds of salt. It's been mined on Seneca's shore for more than a century.

The Texas company Crestwood Midstream owns the mine now, and stores natural gas in the emptied-out caverns. It has federal approval to increase the amount, and it's seeking New York's OK to store 88 million gallons of propane as well.

There's a serious problem in the American economy: Big corporations are doing well, but real household income for average Americans has been falling over the past decade — down 9 percent, according to census data.

"That's not good for America," says Harvard economist Michael Porter. "That's not good for America's standard of living. That's not good for our ultimate vitality as a nation."

The Environmental Protection Agency says it has found no evidence that hydraulic fracturing — better known as fracking — has led to widespread pollution of drinking water. The oil industry and its backers welcome the long-awaited study, while environmental groups criticize it.


  • Hard freezes in springtime likely to continue
  • Wildfire awareness day this weekend
  • Senate kills racial profiling bill
  • Attorney General joins suit against BLM over fracking rules


  • State budget delayed
  • Medicare payments now factor in patient satisfaction
  • Lake City passes OHV ordinance
  • Forest service grapples with moose problems
  • New national fracking rules from President Obama
  • Gov. Hickenlooper signs 10 bills into law

The Department of the Interior has unveiled new regulations on hydraulic fracturing operations that take place on federal lands, requiring companies using the drilling technique to ensure wells are safe and to disclose chemicals used in the process.

The rules change follows a more than three-year review process and will affect the 90 percent of oil and gas wells on federal lands that now use so-called fracking to extract oil and gas.

Governor John Hickenlooper's oil and gas task force recently proposed nine recommendations to try and easy concerns for people living near energy development, but it did not vote to give local communities more control over oil and gas drilling.

The big question on everyone's mind now: What's next for the state Legislature and for a possible anti-fracking initiative going before voters in 2016?

Reaction at the state capitol to work of the Oil and Gas Task Force was decidedly mixed. Members of the governor's own party called the effort a failure, one lawmaker even graded it an "F+."

The proposed recommendations are intended to mitigate the impacts of energy development near communities. While the task force wants local governments to be more involved in developing large drill sites, it stopped short of allowing cities and counties to adopt rules stricter than the state standards.

With the final nine recommendations to hit Governor John Hickenlooper's desk Feb. 27, what are his thoughts on the group's work and the backlash?

After five months of meetings, and coming up with nine recommendations, the work of Governor John Hickenlooper's Oil and Gas Task Force is getting mixed reviews from lawmakers at the state capitol.

Among the critical voices is Democratic Senator Matt Jones of Longmont.

"What they were charged to come up with is strong community protections, they got an F+, they're talking about how it's really a B, it's not," Jones said.

Out on Oklahoma's flat prairie, Medford, population about 900, is the kind of place where people give directions from the four-way stop in the middle of town.

It seems pretty sedate, but it's not. "We are shaking all the time," says Dea Mandevill, the city manager. "All the time."

The afternoon I stopped by, Mandevill says two quakes had already rumbled through Medford.

"Light day," she laughs. But, she adds, "the day's not over yet; we still have several more hours."

Mandevill may be laughing it off, but Austin Holland, the state seismologist, isn't.

Residents of Denton, Texas, voted Tuesday to ban hydraulic fracturing in the city.

According to unofficial results posted on the city's website, 58.64 percent of voters supported banning the controversial drilling method that is also called fracking; 41.36 percent voted against the proposition. It's the first time a city in the energy-friendly state has voted to ban fracking.

The vote is expected to be challenged, but Mayor Chris Watts said he would defend the ban.

North Fork Valley
Laura Palmisano

The United States is the world’s largest oil and natural gas producer. North Dakota and Texas are experiencing an oil boom. And many other states are seeing natural gas production increase through hydraulic fracturing.

Colorado has nearly 53,000 active wells. But, the state’s energy boom is a source of tension. 

The Colorado Oil & Gas Association has dropped its lawsuit against the city of Longmont.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has announced a last-minute compromise to avert a costly political battle over oil and gas drilling. As Dan Boyce of Inside Energy reports, the deal is meant to find a solution to disputes related to fracking — but it also serves the political interests of Colorado Democrats.

In a news conference Monday Governor John Hickenlooper, alongside Democratic Congressman Jared Polis and other supporters, announced a deal on local control for oil and gas, heading off a showdown on the November ballot.

"Hello. Are you registered to vote in Colorado?"

It's a refrain many in the state have grown to loathe this summer — heard outside their favorite grocery store or shopping mall as signature gatherers race toward an Aug. 4 deadline to put four energy-related measures on the November ballot.

With two of those measures backed by environmentalists, and the other two by industry-supported groups, all of the energy talk is leading to confusion among potential voters.

Governor John Hickenlooper has formally pulled the plug on the possibility of a special legislation session to consider stricter rules for the oil and gas industry. Hickenlooper said there weren't enough stakeholders on board for a bipartisan solution.

The word “fracking” has come to mean drilling in general for oil and gas-- and a major concern for communities and environmentalists in Colorado and elsewhere.In reality the process of hydraulic fracturing is a specialized procedure used to create cracks in shale deposits thousands of feet underground which in turn releases trapped natural gas.  There are hundreds of fracked wells in Garfield County. Often you can see them from the highway.  Recently Aspen Public Radio got a tour of a fracking operation run by WPX Energy near Parachute.  Hear the story by APR's Elise Thatcher below.  See a slideshow of photographs of the rig by APR's Roger Adams HERE.

mark udall
Laura Palmisano

Editor's Note: This story aired in July and was rebroadcast in October. 

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., campaigned in Montrose at a voter meet-and-greet Tuesday. 

Udall faces Republican challenger Cory Gardner in a hotly contested race that could decide which party controls the Senate. 

KVNF's Laura Palmisano was at the event and brings us this candidate interview. 

Mark Udall
Laura Palmisano

Voters in Montrose met with U.S. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) at a campaign event Tuesday. 

Loveland voters will soon become the sixth Front Range community to weigh restrictions on hydraulic fracturing. The June 24, 2014 special election asks voters to decide whether to impose a two-year moratorium on fracking, the process of pumping sand, water and chemicals that are proprietary to oil companies into the ground to extract resources.


  • Private Gun Sales affected by New Background Check Law
  • US Fish & Wildlife Says BLM Sage-Grouse Plan is Too Weak
  • Bross was First Luxury Hotel in Delta County
  • Pataognia CEO Defends Company's Stance on Fracking
  • Western Governors Launch Wildlife Mapping Project

Colorado’s energy industry trade group is now involved on three fronts with lawsuits over voter approved fracking bans or moratoriums. The latest move involved the announcement of suits against Lafayette and Fort Collins.  


  • CPW Researchers Conducting Backcountry Flyovers
  • Some Miners Near Ouray Helping with Accident Investigation
  • Future of Coal Uncertain as Tennessee Valley Authority Cuts Production
  • Three Colorado Cities Facing Lawsuits Over Fracking Bans
  • Historic Schoolhouse Spurred Modern Women's Club

Colorado’s Energy industry is continuing to make the case that hydraulic fracturing is safe and a critical part of the state’s economy.


  • El Paso County Sheriff Disputes Statements about Black Forest Fire
  • Grand Junction Airport Launching its Own Probe into Fraud Allegations
  • Fate of Broomfield Fracking Moratorium Put on Hold
  • Debate over Greater Sage Grouse Continues in western Colorado
  • US Fish & Wildlife Won't List Gunnison Prairie Dogs as Threatened/Endangered


  • State Finalizes Grants for Rural Movie Theaters
  • Last of 4 Anti-Fracking Measures on Front Range Narrowly Passes, Recount Likely
  • Mesa County School District Seeing More Students Expelled for Pot
  • Over 3700 Enrolled in Colorado's New Health Exchange
  • Compromise Reached Between Ski Areas, BLM & Forest Service Over Water Rights Bill
  • Increased Fines for Truckers on Independence Pass Moving Forward


  • State Lawmakers to Review Bills on Water, Wildfire, & Poverty
  • Ruptured Pipe Leaks Contaminated Water at Cañon City Uranium Mill
  • Pitkin County Tracking Changes to Forests
  • Republican Lawmakers Criticize Patagonia's Involvement in Fracking Debate