Coyote Gulch


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  Thursday, April 5, 2007

Stem cell research

U.S. representative Diana DeGette's stem cell bill is up for a vote in the Senate, according to the Denver Post. From the article, "Rep. Diana DeGette's bill lifting restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research is slated for a Senate vote next week, packaged with items aimed at preventing a repeat presidential veto. Republicans and Democrats have reached an agreement that allows a vote on the bill without any chance of a filibuster, backers said Tuesday. It's the second time in two years that Congress has considered the bill. It passed both chambers last year before President Bush vetoed it."

"2008 pres"
4:41:52 PM     


From today's Denver Post, "A one-time Colorado political activist and ex-girlfriend of a convicted Interior Department official has been informed by the Justice Department that there is 'substantial evidence' linking her to criminal activity in the Jack Abramoff scandal. In a January 2007 letter obtained by the publication Legal Times, a federal prosecutor urged Italia Federici to hire an attorney to defend against allegations that she used a tax-exempt organization to lobby for Abramoff's clients and lied about its activities to Congress. The letter also recommended Federici meet with prosecutors to negotiate a resolution requiring her to plead guilty to at least one felony charge."

"2008 pres"
4:37:13 PM     

Farm disaster on the South Platte
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Here's part one of the Brighton Standard Blade's series about the farm outlook along the South Platte River. They write, "About the only thing growing in Colorado farm country these days is frustration. The dreary outlook for agriculture following last year's shutdown of 440 irrigation wells in the South Platte Basin has only worsened, and farmers and experts alike are predicting an 'economic catastrophe' because of it. It's a problem with no foreseeable relief and farmers blame the ever-growing insatiable thirst of cities along the Front Range for driving up the cost of water and objecting to pumping plans well-reliant water users bring forth in Colorado Water Court. For well users within the Well Augmentation Subdistrict of Central Colorado Water Conservancy District - the 440 wells ordered to remain off last season - the chance of pumping wells at all this season is doubtful. And for well users within Central's Groundwater Management Subdistrict - limited to pumping 50 percent of historic averages last season - the quota is expected to be more like 15 percent of historic averages this season, thanks to a variety of factors."

"colorado water"
4:13:05 PM     

Global warming: The Earth is a beautifully complex system
A picture named coalfiredpowerplant.jpg

From, "A U.S. study on northern sea ice found that not only did 2006 have the second-lowest amount of ice on record, but also that the ice is retreating faster than the panel's climate models have predicted. 'The model forecast may be underestimating what we could expect in the future years,' Walt Meier, a climatologist with the National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Boulder, Colo., said Wednesday. Meier's group tracks the annual maximum extent of the Arctic sea ice by the end of the northern winter, which is defined as March 31. This year, 14.7 million square kilometres of Arctic ocean around the globe was covered by at least 15 per cent ice. That's only a little more than last year's 14.5 million square kilometres, which was the lowest figure ever recorded. The average from 1979 to 2000 was 15.7 million square kilometres...

"Observations by Meier's group show the sea ice decline is universal across the circumpolar world. While small, short-lived increases have been seen in areas such as the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Canadian Arctic from Baffin Bay to the Beaufort Sea has seen 'significant' ice loss. In fact, satellites spotted a vast area of open water in the Beaufort for six weeks early this past winter. About 50,000 square kilometres - an area roughly the size of Nova Scotia - suddenly emerged ice-free, 200 kilometres inside the ice pack."

Meanwhile, some scientists are hoping to establish large geo-engineering projects to effect global cooling, according to UCSF. From the article, "We all know global warming is a reality with far-reaching consequences we cannot predict. Even scientists think so. We know that we need to drastically reduce our carbon release into the atmosphere, to stop clear-cutting our carbon-sink rainforests for raising hamburger meat and find a more sustainable balance with the rest of nature.

"Yet a small group of scientists, encouraged by government funding, are inhaling the techno-science of 'geo-engineering' -- the science of planetary-scale engineering to counteract climate change. The latest iteration of this idea appeared recently in a cluster of papers in Climate Change, the scientific journal dedicated to the topic. Bringing legitimacy to a previously skeptically regarded niche of climatology, Nobel prize-winning atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen has taken up the sword for geo-engineering along with a small but enthusiastic cadre of scientists.

"Crutzen's plan to combat global warming performs a simulacrum of a volcanic eruption to spray an aerosol of sulfate particles into the upper atmosphere reflecting the sun's rays. Periods of global cooling occur after volcanic eruptions, and following this logic, simulating the release of sulfate into the upper atmosphere would stimulate this reaction.

"Scientists have many other schemes too, such as placing a giant sunshade in space at the Lagrange point, the location between the sun and the earth where the forces between the two celestial bodies allow an object in that space to remain in a constant relative position. While even Roger Angel, the idea's originator, thinks of the sunshield as a last resort and far-fetched, the idea has been nursed by a small NASA grant.

"The most feasible presentation, and the idea whose execution would have the least unintended consequences, is John Latham (from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado) and Stephen Salter's proposal to blast sea-water into the air to create a highly reflective low marine cloud to cool the planet. 50 wind-powered remote vessels would cruise around the ocean spraying roughly 20 pounds of water per second into the air, hypothesized to cancel out an entire year of carbon-dioxide emissions. These 'ships' also benefit from the precision of output and localized effect, allowing cooling of Greenland ice sheets in the summer and migration to protect the Antarctic in winter."

"2008 pres"
3:40:48 PM     

A picture named usdroughtmonitor040307.jpg

Here's the snowpack picture from the rainy side of Colorado, from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article, "Rivers are running high early this year, but expect them to drop quickly as the Western Slope heads once again into drought. Snowpack in the high country is well below average statewide, and rivers are expected to flow extremely low through July, according to the National Weather Service's April-July river basin forecasts. The numbers should give water users pause and encourage them to look at the big picture, said Chris Treese, external affairs officer for the Colorado River Conservation District. 'This is the sixth out of seven years when we've had significant drought, and from all indications, we're in an extended period of drought,' he said. The silver lining to the bad news, he said, is Colorado's reservoirs are in good shape...

"Gunnison River flows are expected to be 62 percent of average, while Plateau Creek, which drains the north side of Grand Mesa, is expected to flow at only 39 percent of average through July. Flows are expected to be 50 percent of average into Lake Powell, 64 percent of average into Blue Mesa Reservoir and only 44 percent into Flaming Gorge. Snowpack water content is now at 70 percent of average in the Gunnison Basin, 82 percent of average in the Upper Colorado River Basin, and 68 percent of average in the Yampa and White river basins. The Arkansas and South Platte basins, which have had excellent snowpack for much of the winter, are now below average for snow water content. The Arkansas Basin is now 90 percent of average, and the South Platte Basin is 98 percent of average."

"colorado water"
3:24:26 PM     

Drought the new norm?
A picture named hadleycells.jpg

Prolonged drought may be the future for the southwestern U.S., according to From the article, "Human-induced change in Earth's atmosphere will leave the American Southwest in perpetual drought for the next 90 years, a new study finds. Conditions in the southwestern states and portions of northern Mexico will be similar to those seen during a severe multiyear drought in the southwest during the 1950s and the drought that turned the Great Plains into the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. The southern United States lies in a climatic region called the subtropics, which is dry because 'the atmosphere moves water out of those regions,' explained study team leader Richard Seager of Columbia University's Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory. The moist air is transported to temperate regions at higher latitudes. The study, published in the April 5 issue of the journal Science, found that as greenhouse gases warm the air, it can hold more moisture, so the atmospheric flow moves more water vapor out of subtropical zones and into higher latitudes. The dry areas then become drier, and the wet become wetter. This flow, known as the Hadley cell, features rising air over the equator and descending air over the subtropics, which suppresses precipitation...

"The researchers used climate models to determine the level of drought based on the amount of evaporation at the ground subtracted from the amount of precipitation that falls at the surface. The balance between these two processes is what maintains rivers and groundwater flow. As less water is available, water resources become jeopardized."

"colorado water"
3:03:31 PM     

HB 1341
A picture named derrick.jpg

Here's an update on HB 07-1341 [pdf], Concerning the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission, and, In Connection Therewith, Directing the Commission to Foster Oil and Gas Development Consistent with the Protection of the Environment, Wildlife Resources, and Public Health, Safety, and Welfare, from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. They write, "A bill aimed at recomposing and reorienting the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission likely will receive some tweaking to make it less antagonistic to the industry, according to the bill's Senate sponsor. Sen. Jim Isgar, D-Hesperus, said a handful of lawmakers, members of the oil and gas industry and various other stakeholders have met this week to hash out a series of changes to House Bill 1341 to make it more palatable to the industry. Isgar said the industry has been concerned that the bill's various provisions recomposing the commission and redefining waste will tilt the commission toward becoming anti-drilling. Though Isgar declined to comment on specific changes, he said the changes will 'give (the industry) some assurance the role of the new commission is not to cut down the industry.'"

"colorado water"
12:21:51 PM     

BLM releases drilling plan for Palisade watershed
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From today's Denver Post, "Energy drilling in the Grand Mesa slopes that supply the drinking water for Palisade and Grand Junction will be done with extra care to lessen the chance of spills, track water quality, keep out of sensitive spring areas and minimize well-pad areas. This is according to a 58-page draft watershed plan released Wednesday after six months of haggling between Genesis Gas & Oil, public entities and a private landowner. The plan had barely been disseminated through a website when it drew kudos and brickbats over an area where many officials and members of the public have said they would prefer no drilling. 'This was the second-best option the BLM could give us, said Grand Junction Mayor Jim Doody. 'The best option would have been: You can't drill in the watershed'...

"The BLM issued the leases with stipulations that included no surface disturbance in critical areas where springs are located. The BLM also required a year- long timeout on drilling while the communities and Genesis could develop a plan that would minimize public concerns about possible contamination of drinking water. The draft plan lays out a number of actions that will be taken to ensure the water supplies aren't harmed by the drilling. They include water studies that are underway to give a baseline measure of the quality and quantity of water before drilling and continued monitoring to see if that changes. Genesis has agreed to choose drill sites in the less-sensitive parts of the watershed and to cluster well pads and to not dig on-site holding pits for the contaminated production water. The draft plan calls for Genesis to use a closed-loop drilling system that will reduce the possibility of spills and to use more environmentally friendly fluids in the fracing process that pumps those fluids into the ground to break apart formations."

"colorado water"
11:43:42 AM     

A picture named measuringsnowpack.jpg

Here's a report on snowpack from the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article, "Warm weather during March diminished snowpack in Colorado mountains significantly, according to the monthly report by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The statewide snowpack is now only 75 percent of the average for early April. The NRCS Snotel program surveys snowpack throughout the state, and the statewide average dropped from 92 percent of the long-term average on March. Significant decreases were measured in all major river basins in the balmy weather that prevailed during March. For the first time this season, snowpack totals are now below average in all of the state's major river basins. Percentages range from 58 percent of average in the combined San Juan, Animas, Dolores and San Miguel basins to 94 percent of average in the South Platte Basin, according to Allen Green, state conservationist with the NRCS...

"Only the Rio Grande basin, which was desperately low on snow last winter, has more snowpack than it had a year ago, and its current snowpack is only 70 percent of the long-term average. The Arkansas basin is at 81 percent of the long-term average and 94 percent of last year's snowpack. The South Platte basin is in the best shape, with 94 percent of the long-term average and 91 percent of last year's figure. The two largest basins on the Western Slope are low. In the Gunnison Basin, the current snowpack is only 70 percent of measurements last year and 66 percent of the average. The Colorado River is at 81 percent of the average and 74 percent of last year."

"colorado water"
11:28:10 AM     

Fry-Ark space for Aurora?
A picture named fryingpanarkansasproject.jpg

The Aurora Long Term Contract is pretty much a done deal, according to the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article, "A 'substantial' change in a proposed action or information overlooked in the initial study would be reasons to stop or delay a proposed federal contract following release of the final environmental study. A proposed 40-year contract to allow Aurora to store and exchange water in Lake Pueblo is now in final review by the Bureau of Reclamation.

"If new information is brought forward to suggest the finding of no significant impact issued in the environmental assessment is in error, the contract would be stopped until a new environmental review is complete, said Kara Lamb, Reclamation spokeswoman. Reclamation conducts reviews under the National Environmental Protection Act of 1969, and in the environmental assessment outlines its compliance with several federal policies. It found no impact in areas like endangered species, wildlife habitat, economics and cultural resources."

"colorado water"
11:20:42 AM     

A picture named upperarkansasvalley.jpg

Here's an opinion piece about watersheds and their importance, from the Mountain Mail. They write, "Children learn references to their physical place in the world - their street address, city, and zip code - at an early age. But there is another, more basic dimension that also establishes our sense of place - our watershed or ecological address. No matter where you live, you live in a watershed and you have an impact on its health. A watershed is an area of land that drains to a common body of water such as a stream, river, lake or ocean....

"The West's largest watershed, the storied Colorado River, feeds millions of acres of ranch and cropland and provides drinking water for more than 24 million people in its 12,000-foot descent from the Colorado high country through the Grand Canyon toward the Gulf of California...

"The 'watershed approach' focuses on hydrology - how water behaves on and in the ground - and makes a focused effort to involve local communities in developing water resource goals that make the most sense. And there is good reason to be optimistic about this approach - it's emerging as a grassroots movement. Across America, citizens are rallying to form powerful coalitions for watershed protection. An estimated 4,000 organizations are involved in community-based watershed protection efforts and the number is growing...

"There are plenty of on-line resources available. The popular EPA Surf Your Watershed Web site ( helps people learn their 'watershed address' and provides links to local watershed organizations through the Adopt Your Watershed Web site ("

"colorado water"
11:02:53 AM     

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