It was hard to keep up with the news this week for this traveling HCN editor; she was lost on a highway somewhere between Utah and Nevada when she heard the sad news about author Maurice Sendak's death. After that, things went pretty much downhill.
The House of Representatives showed disdain for fisheries and ocean management programs by blocking their funding in the spending bill passed Thursday. (Sub only) That bill -- th
Politicking also continued in the Senate, where Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) introduced a bill that would require Senate confirmation of regional Environmental Protection Agency administrators, The Hill's E2 Wire blog reports. Inhofe has long targeted the EPA; he recently headed up a media storm that led to an ouster of Region 6 head Al Armendariz, whose poor word choices from a meeting two years ago were recently dug up and posted on the senator's website a few weeks ago.
From the surprise department comes a gas-drilling plan that the conservation group Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance likes. The group proffered its approval because the energy company agreed to conduct its operations while protecting the wilderness qualities of the nearby White River, a priority conservation area for the Alliance. In a photo-op for the ages, Anadarko Petroleum Corp and SUWA representatives flanked Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, as he inked an approval for 3,675 gas wells south of Vernal, Utah.
In other Utah energy happenings, activist Tim DeChristopher, who landed in jail after bidding up oil and gas leases at a BLM auction, has appealed his conviction. In March 2011, DeChristopher was found guilty of disrupting a federal auction and making false statements on forms and sentenced to two years in prison.
We now move from expensive energy to something the federal government is now apparently valuing at zero -- water. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently decided to freely give away surplus water from a North Dakota reservoir, Lake Sakakawea, to companies drilling for oil in the Bakken oil play. (See our recent cover story on the Bakken oil boom's impact on Native American tribes whose reservation overlies the oil.) The companies need water for the hydraulic fracturing they use to get oil out of the ground. The state has contended it has the right to give the water away; the Army Corps will be studying what price, if any, they might charge for the water, a process expected to take as much as a year and a half.
And with that, this reporter is off to re-read Where the Wild Things Are.
Stephanie Paige Ogburn is the online editor at High Country News.