News briefs: Fracking blocked on 53 oil and gas leases in Colorado, and more


A legal agreement between environmental groups and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will block oil and gas drilling on more than 45,000 acres of leased land in Colorado until a thorough environmental review is undertaken.

“This legal agreement, along with successful challenges to management plans in the region, effectively put the brakes on further oil and gas leasing in the Piceance Basin,” said Kyle Tisdel, an attorney at the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC), in a statement. “This is a major win against a Trump administration that refused to acknowledge or analyze the climate and human health impacts of oil and gas exploitation.”

The agreement is the result of a 2018 lawsuit that challenged BLM’s failure to perform a comprehensive environmental review when it approved the leases in question. Instead, critics say, BLM used resource management plans that didn’t analyze fracking’s potential harm to public health and the environment.

“The Bureau has long played a shell game to avoid meaningful analysis of the impacts of fossil fuel development on our public lands,” said Peter Hart, staff attorney at Wilderness Workshop, in a statement. “This challenge, together with challenges to recently adopted resource management plans, exposed the practice.”

Some of the 53 leased sites are located near state parks, environmentally sensitive areas and recreational areas. Others are within a half-mile of a public school and a reservoir.

The original lawsuit was filed by a coalition of environmental groups — Wilderness Workshop, Center for Biological Diversity, Living Rivers and Colorado Riverkeeper and Sierra Club — which hope President-elect Joe Biden follows through on his promise to ban new oil and gas leasing on federal public lands when he takes office.  

Bedrooms are for People seeks input before second ballot push

Last year, organizers with the Bedrooms are for People ballot initiative were given incorrect information by the City of Boulder, disqualifying them from putting a measure to raise Boulder’s occupancy limits on the ballot, even after collecting signatures.

In September, after it was clear the initiative would not make the ballot, organizers said they’d try again in 2021. The ballot initiative would eliminate Boulder’s occupancy limits of no more than three unrelated people living in the same house and replace it with a rule that would allow occupancy of a building to be the number of bedrooms in a house plus one.

The group behind the effort recently put out a call for community input, which you can access via the pinned post on the group’s Facebook page:

More information on the initiative is available at  

VA spending lags in Colorado

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs allocated about $202 billion on services for the more than 19 million veterans in the U.S. in 2019. But a data analysis from law firm Hill & Ponton indicates Colorado is allocating only about one-third of its funds from the VA to medical care.

Compare that to states like South Dakota and Wyoming, which are allocating more than half of their budgets to medical care, which can be used to help veterans get regular checkups, see specialists, access home health and geriatric care, and buy prosthetics, prescriptions and medical equipment. 

Only 28% of veterans in Colorado are receiving health care at VA facilities, the analysis found. That has a direct correlation to the amount of money spent on health care — the analysis found that states that allocate fewer dollars toward medical care have less engagement from veterans. That’s a problem for Colorado as ensuring access to health care for veterans is one of the VA’s primary responsibilities.

The biggest chunk of spending goes toward pensions and disability payments, nationwide.