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Covering recreation and environmental issues within California
News and information about the environment

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Final EIS/EIR for Sunrise Powerlink Released

October 14, 2008      

BLM, CPUC Release Final EIS/EIR for Proposed Sunrise Powerlink Project

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) have published a joint final environmental impact statement/environmental impact report (EIS/EIR) analyzing the Sunrise Powerlink project proposed by San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) and a range of alternatives.

As required by federal regulations, BLM identified its "BLM agency preferred alternative" in the final EIS as the “southern route alternative.”  BLM Desert District Manager Steve Borchard said "this is based on a careful review of the resource data in the final EIS/EIR, full consideration of the public comments received and a determination that this alternative achieves all of the CPUC and BLM project objectives and most of SDG&E's project objectives."  This route is described in detail and shown on maps in the final EIS/EIR, available at CPUC’s website http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/environment/info/aspen/sunrise/toc-feir.htm.
 

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Recoverable Oil Estimates Increased

3 to 4.3 Billion Barrels of Technically Recoverable Oil Assessed in North Dakota and Montana's Bakken Formation—25 Times More Than 1995 Estimate

from: USGS Newsroom

Reston, VA - North Dakota and Montana have an estimated 3.0 to 4.3 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil in an area known as the Bakken Formation.

A U.S. Geological Survey assessment, released April 10, shows a 25-fold increase in the amount of oil that can be recovered compared to the agency's 1995 estimate of 151 million barrels of oil.

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Technically recoverable oil resources are those producible using currently available technology and industry practices. USGS is the only provider of publicly available estimates of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas resources.

New geologic models applied to the Bakken Formation, advances in drilling and production technologies, and recent oil discoveries have resulted in these substantially larger technically recoverable oil volumes. About 105 million barrels of oil were produced from the Bakken Formation by the end of 2007.

The USGS Bakken study was undertaken as part of a nationwide project assessing domestic petroleum basins using standardized methodology and protocol as required by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 2000.

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Status of Wilderness Legislation in the 110th Congress

The following is a description of the wilderness bills that have been introduced in the 110th Congress and a summary of where each measure stands in the legislative progress as of August 2008.  To read the full text of any of these wilderness bills, visit the Library of Congress and search on the specific bill number of interest.

Here is a quick refresher on the basics of how a bill becomes a law.  An elected member of Congress introduces a bill in his or her chamber (House or Senate).  The bill is referred to the appropriate committee, which reviews it, amends it, and approves it.  The full chamber then debates it, possibly amends it again, approves it and forwards it to the other chamber, which does the same.  If there are differences between the two versions, those differences are resolved, both chambers (if changes have been made) approve the final version, and send it to the White House.  The President signs it, and it becomes law.

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Energy Development--Vernal RMP

As energy prices continue to rise, the focus on energy resource development on our nation’s public lands remains high.  The Bureau of Land Management Utah Vernal field office recently released a Proposed Resource Management Plan supporting domestic energy development without compromising the long-term health and diversity of public lands in the Vernal planning area. 

Most of the Vernal planning area is located within the Uinta Basin, which covers a large portion of northeast Utah, and has significant oil and gas deposits.  The Uinta-Piceance Basin has been federally designated as an Energy Policy Conservation Act focus area for oil and gas exploration and development.  The proposed plan would manage oil and natural gas leasing and development with additional lease stipulations and mitigation measures.  The plan also aims to protect valuable resources through special designations such as Area of Critical Environmental Concern, and Wild and Scenic River, and by using a variety of management prescriptions such as managing certain areas to maintain, protect and preserve wilderness characteristic. 

In order to understand the impact of existing and new lease agreements on public lands management and the planning process, it is helpful to be aware of how public lands are leased for oil and natural gas development. 

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Ancient Bacteria Uses Arsenic to Grow


August 15, 2008

Scientists have discovered ancient bacteria that rely on arsenic, rather than water, to grow during photosynthesis.

Analysis indicates that this process probably dates back a few billion years. 

This discovery adds an important new dimension to the arsenic cycle and highlights a previously unsuspected process that may have been essential for establishing the arsenic cycle on the ancient Earth.

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Strategy to Assess the Nation's Ground-Water Availability

Scientists proposed a strategy to study the Nation's ground-water supply as part of the Federal government's effort to help address the Nation's increasing competition for water.

Declines in ground-water levels have led to concerns about the future availability of ground water, which provides half the country's drinking water and is essential to the vitality of agriculture and industry, as well as to the health of rivers, wetlands, and estuaries throughout the country. 

The report, "Ground-Water Availability in the United States" examines what is known about the Nation's ground-water availability and outlines a strategy for future national and regional studies that would provide information to help state and local agencies make informed water-availability decisions.

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