BUSINESS FILE

Local winery earns kudos

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Winemaker Tom Williams reports that Steamboat Springs Cellars Inc. recently won a pair of bronze medals for its 2000 Merlot and 1999 Rabbit Ears Red at the American Wine Society competition in Buffalo, N.Y.

More than 1,200 wines from the U.S. and Canada and five other countries were entered in the competition.

The winery's Strawberry Park, a blend of strawberry wine with Riesling, picked up a sliver medal at the annual Colorado Wine Festival this fall.

Williams said Steamboat Springs Cellars garnered an 80 rating on the 100-point scale in the prestigious industry publication Wine Spectator in September.

The magazine did a special report on mountain states wine.

Udall drafting methane bill

DENVER (AP)

U.S. Rep. Mark Udall is drafting legislation to protect Western agricultural land from water pollution caused by coal-bed methane production.

Water extracted in the production of oil or gas would be covered by the Clean Water Act under Udall's legislation. A federal judge in Montana recently ruled that water extracted in coal-bed methane development is exempt from the act.

Udall released a draft of the bill Thursday.

In a letter to Environmental Protection Agency administrator Christine Todd Whitman, Udall, a Democrat, said the water can damage land, lakes and rivers. It often includes sodium, arsenic and acid.

Coal-bed methane production involves pumping out groundwater to relieve pressure that traps gas in coal seams. Some of the water is reinjected into the ground, but much is retained in holding ponds or allowed to flow into streams or waterways.

Colorado is one of the largest coal-bed methane producers in the country.

Udall said the law needs to protect landowners and the environment because the Bush administration plans to step up oil and gas exploration.

Udall said he supports coal-bed methane production because the gas is relatively clean-burning and has other advantages, but he said it must be done in ways that do not harm land and water.

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