Coyote Gulch's 2008 Presidential Election


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  Tuesday, January 20, 2009

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A moment ago Barack Obama was sworn in as President of the United States. Quite a day for the U.S.A.

President Obama is actually a westerner, a Hawaii native.

10:06:23 AM    

  Monday, January 19, 2009

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. must be smiling down on the USA today, the day before we inaugurate our first African-American president, Barack Obama.

"2008 pres"
8:42:14 AM    

  Sunday, January 18, 2009

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Here's the link to the summary of President-elect Obama's stimulus spending package, from Talking Points Memo. Congress will take up the bill in the next few days. What's in it for water?

$10 billion for science facilities, research, and instrumentation...

$19 billion for clean water, flood control, and environmental restoration investments...

National Science Foundation: $3 billion, including $2 billion for expanding employment opportunities in fundamental science and engineering to meet environmental challenges and to improve global economic competitiveness, $400 million to build major research facilities that perform cutting edge science, $300 million for major research equipment shared by institutions of higher education and other scientists, $200 million to repair and modernize science and engineering research facilities at the nation's institutions of higher education and other science labs, and $100 million is also included to improve instruction in science, math and engineering...

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Satellites and Sensors: $600 million for satellite development and acquisitions, including climate sensors and climate modeling.

National Institute of Standards and Technology: $300 million for competitive construction grants for research science buildings at colleges, universities, and other research organizations and $100 million to coordinate research efforts of laboratories and national research facilities by setting interoperability standards for manufacturing

Agricultural Research Service: $209 million for agricultural research facilities across the country. ARS has a list of deferred maintenance work at facilities of roughly $315 million.

U.S. Geological Survey: $200 million to repair and modernize U.S.G.S. science facilities and equipment, including improvements to laboratories, earthquake monitoring systems, and computing capacity...

Construction on Public Lands and Parks: $3.1 billion for infrastructure projects on federal lands including improvements to visitor facilities, road and trail restoration, preservation of buildings of cultural and historic importance, rehabilitation of abandoned mines and oil fields, and environmental cleanup projects. This includes $1.8 billion for the National Park Service, $325 million for the Bureau of Land Management, $300 million for the National Wildlife Refuges and National Fish Hatcheries, and $650 million for the Forest Service...

Clean Water State Revolving Fund: $6 billion for loans to help communities upgrade wastewater treatment systems. EPA estimates a $388 billion funding gap. The Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators found that 26 states have $10 billion in approved water projects.

Drinking Water State Revolving Fund: $2 billion for loans for drinking water infrastructure. EPA estimates there is a $274 billion funding gap. The National Governors Association reported that there are $6 billion in ready-to-go projects, which could quickly be obligated.

Rural Water and Waste Disposal: $1.5 billion to support $3.8 billion in grants and loans to help communities fund drinking water and wastewater treatment systems. In 2008, there were $2.4 billion in requests for water and waste loans and $990 million for water and waste grants went unfunded.

Corps of Engineers: $4.5 billion for environmental restoration, flood protection, hydropower, and navigation infrastructure critical to the economy. The Corps has a construction backlog of $61 billion.

Bureau of Reclamation: $500 million to provide clean, reliable drinking water to rural areas and to ensure adequate water supply to western localities impacted by drought. The Bureau has backlogs of more than $1 billion in rural water projects and water reuse and recycling projects.

Watershed Infrastructure: $400 million for the Natural Resources Conservation Service watershed improvement programs to design and build flood protection and water quality projects, repair aging dams, and purchase and restore conservation easements in river flood zones.

International Boundary and Water Commission: $224 million to repair flood control systems along the international segment of the Rio Grande damaged by hurricane Katrina and other serious storms...

Superfund Hazardous Waste Cleanup: $800 million to clean up hazardous and toxic waste sites that threaten health and the environment. EPA has 1,255 sites on its National Priority List, selected based on a hazard ranking system. There are many Superfund sites ready for construction, but not funded due to budget shortfalls and over 600 sites with ongoing construction that could be accelerated.

Leaking Underground Storage Tanks: $200 million for enforcement and cleanup of petroleum leaks from underground storage tanks at approximately 1,600 additional sites. There are an estimated 116,000 sites with the potential to contaminate important water supplies.

Nuclear Waste Cleanup: $500 million for nuclear waste cleanup at sites contaminated as a result of the nation's past nuclear activities. Accelerating the completion of projects will reduce long-term costs.

NOAA Habitat Restoration: $400 million for ready-to-go habitat restoration projects.

9:18:19 AM    

  Friday, January 16, 2009

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Here's a report on Ken Salazar's confirmation hearing yesterday, from Lisa Mascaro writing for the Las Vegas Sun. From the article:

In an issue of vital interest in Nevada, Interior Secretary-nominee Ken Salazar said he hopes to push through mining law reforms pending in Congress that are more protective of water and land resources. At his confirmation hearing Thursday, Salazar sought to assure senators that he "is not against mining." Nor did he wade into the details of royalty payments that have tripped up past efforts to change the gold mining law. But Salazar said federal mining law, adopted in 1872, needs to be revised to reflect the "modern understanding we have of the impacts of mining." "We do need stronger standards than what are set forth in the 1872 mining law. That will be part of the discussion as we try to work with you and others -- put together a reform that is sensitive, makes common sense, can garner the votes."[...]

Salazar laid out an urgent to-do list that starts with cleaning up the ethical lapses that marred the Interior Department during the Bush administration and launching President-elect Barack Obama's green energy revolution. Salazar seeks to transform the department from one that has long focused on Western public lands into a pivotal player in developing new domestic energy resources. "In many ways, the Department of Interior is, quote, the real Energy Department," Salazar told reporters after the hearing. "I want to move this department to a whole new level of activity in the 21st century."[...]

Environmental organizations have said Salazar was not their first choice, and a coalition of groups continued that stance on Wednesday. Like many Cabinet nominees, Salazar deflected more detailed responses to several questions. When pressed by oil-state senators on whether he would reinstate the off-shore drilling ban that was lifted last year, he declined to say. Asked whether he would free up oil shale leasing on public lands, he said questions remain. Queried whether he would retain the Bush administration's recent decision to allow guns in the national parks, he said, "We'll take a look." His nomination is expected to win Senate approval.

More coverage from The Denver Post (Michael Riley):

Interior secretary-designate Ken Salazar vowed Thursday to reorient the Department of the Interior from a hive of special interests that marked the Bush administration to one based on integrity and the rule of science. Sen. Salazar, a Denver Democrat, hit a laundry list of priorities in the opening statement of his confirmation hearing: reorienting Interior from a focus on fossil fuel toward alternative energy; improving relations with American Indians; and creating a new youth conservation corps. But he also launched a broad indictment of the way the department was managed under Bush, quoting a 2006 Inspector General report that said: "Short of a crime, anything goes at the highest level of the Department of Interior." "We will be working on that beginning Day One," Salazar said of the ethical lapses at the department, which have included accusations of partying and sex between energy lobbyists and department employees that decide the fate of leases.

More coverage from Red, Green and Blue (Timothy B. Hurst):

A vocal opponent of the Bush administration's push for oil shale development, Salazar, a former water lawyer spoke of the tremendous water and energy requirements to develop oil shale using current best practices. "We don't have the answers to some very important questions, including how much water is this going to take, which is a very important issue to the West."

More coverage from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Mike Saccone):

As the saying goes, if you want an easy confirmation hearing, nominate a senator. Ken Salazar's confirmation hearing Thursday morning before his former colleagues on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee certainly proved that point. Senators from both sides of the aisle praised the nomination of Salazar, Colorado's outgoing Democratic senator, to head the Interior Department in the Obama administration.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

"colorado water"
6:33:23 AM    

  Thursday, January 15, 2009

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From Westword: (Alan Prendergast): "...but this is Ken Salazar we're talking about, the famously affable, centrist senator from Colorado. Wearing a bolo tie and flag pin (but no cowboy hat), he emerged from the three-hour chat with his colleagues on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Thursday morning smiling and unscathed. No one laid a glove on him."

More coverage from Avery Palmer writing for CQ Politics:

Sen. Ken Salazar told a Senate panel Thursday that if confirmed as Interior secretary, he will try to include funding for national parks and other public lands in the pending economic stimulus package. At the confirmation hearing, before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Chairman Jeff Bingaman questioned Salazar about the economic recovery plan that House Democratic leaders had outlined. Bingaman urged Salazar to make sure the final plan includes funding to address deferred maintenance projects for national parks, forests and water infrastructure.

In particular, Bingaman, D-N.M., said he wants to address a $9.5 billion backlog in maintenance projects at the National Park Service, a $5 billion backlog at the Forest Service and $3 billion for aging water infrastructure. He also said the stimulus plan could help fund Bureau of Indian Affairs schools.

"Our first and foremost task will be to restore the integrity of the Department of Interior" -- Ken Salazar via Reuters (Ayesha Rascoe).

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

"colorado water"
6:55:44 PM    

  Tuesday, January 13, 2009

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From the Rocky Mountain News (Todd Harman): "Some 40 Western environmental groups are asking the incoming Obama administration for a fundamental shift in the way the federal government manages energy production in Colorado and the West. In a detailed, 17-page letter, the groups cite a litany of Bush administration actions they say have put energy development too far ahead of other land uses, including wilderness and wildlife protection. Much of the letter identifies locations at risk in Colorado. 'We urge the Obama administration to restore balance to the management of our public lands and resources and to ensure that oil and gas development does not compromise the West's water, air, wildlife and rural communities,' the letter said."

More on the letter, from Emily Underwood writing for the GOAT:

Over 100 U.S. water activists put their heads together in Fall 2008 and published a hefty, ambitious report called "A Blueprint for Clean Water." The Waterkeeper Alliance report is directed at the incoming Obama administration, and proposes a whopping 58 reforms ranging from desalination to global warming.

Curling up with a cup of coffee and reading about the management of ballast water might not sound like your idea of a cozy Sunday afternoon, but the Blueprint is remarkably engaging. Each section is written by a different activist who cares passionately about his or her subject of expertise. Some of the proposals tackle large issues, such as free trade and environmental justice. The section on dams calls for a paradigm shift in hydro...

Click through and read the whole article. Here's the link for the Waterkeeper Alliance website.

Meanwhile the college student that gamed the BLM's recent oil and gas lease sale in Utah has raised $45,000 in hopes of staving off an indictment, according to a report from Paul Foy writing for the Grand Junction Free Press. From the article:

Tim DeChristopher of Salt Lake City infiltrated the auction last month to run up prices for others and to try to protect wild areas in Utah. He ended up the winner of 22,500 acres between Arches and Canyonlands national parks but acknowledged he didn't have the money to pay for the parcels. DeChristopher, his supporters and lawyers announced Friday that they had raised $45,000 to make a down payment on the 13 parcels. DeChristopher said he appreciated the support from donors but wasn't certain if his money would be accepted. If it isn't, he said he'd use the money to buy the same parcels if they go up for bid again. It wasn't immediately clear if the fundraising effort will keep the University of Utah economics student out of trouble. "It's too late for him t o pay for anything," said Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Mary Wilson in Salt Lake City. "You have to pay that day, in addition to meaning to pay. You have to put up the cash."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

5:52:40 AM    

  Tuesday, January 6, 2009

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From the Colorado Independent (David O. Williams): "Even as Republican state lawmakers gear up to make Colorado a more oil-shale-friendly business climate, a group of national and regional environmental groups Tuesday announced their intent to sue the federal Bureau of Land Management over so-called 'midnight' leasing regulations pushed through by the Bush administration.

"A group that includes the Center for Biological Diversity, Colorado Environmental Coalition and the Sierra Club Tuesday sent a notice of intent to sue to outgoing Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne and U.S. Bureau of Land Management Director James Caswell outlining alleged violations of the Endangered Species Act."

Meanwhile, San Miguel County is asking the USFS some tough questions about the acreage included in a recent oil and gas lease sale. Here's a report from the Telluride Daily Planet.

This morning, San Miguel County Commissioners will meet with officials from the United States Forest Service to talk about what they say is a rushed decision by an outgoing administration to lease delicate public lands to oil and gas companies for drilling.

On Feb. 12, about 48,000 acres of San Miguel County will be offered for oil and gas leasing; statewide, 133,054 acres will be on the block in the Bureau of Land Management's quarterly lease sale. San Miguel County has the most acreage available of any county in Colorado, and officials are alarmed by more than just the acreage.

Last week, the USFS announced it would pull the leases that fell within roadless areas, blaming an oversight. The decision to yank some leases eliminated parcels in the Naturita Canyon area.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

"colorado water"
6:00:29 PM    

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From Red, Green and Blue: "Barack Obama's nominee for Interior Secretary, Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado, says he has some unfinished business to take care of before he leaves the Senate and takes the helm at the Interior Department. Salazar will be in the unique position of working on legislation that would give new protections to public lands and then ushering those new protections along with him to Interior.

More from the article:

The bills supported by Sen. Ken Salazar include (from the Denver Post):

- The Arkansas Valley Conduit Authorization Act establishes a 35 percent federal cost share for the construction of the Arkansas Valley Conduit, a proposed 130-mile water delivery system from Pueblo Dam.

- The Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area Act designates 210,000 acres of federally owned land on the Uncompahgre Plateau as the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area.

- The Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness Area Act designates 249,339 acres in the park as wilderness.

The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area Act includes Conejos, Costilla and Alamosa counties.

- The South Park National Heritage Area Act includes 19 ranches and 17,000 acres of wetlands and agricultural lands in the headwaters of the South Platte River.

- The Jackson Gulch Rehabilitation Act authorizes federal funding to rehabilitate the Jackson Gulch irrigation canal near Mancos.

- The Northern Front Range Backdrop Study Act identifies ways to protect natural resources and open spaces near the Arapahoe-Roosevelt National Forest.

- The Baca National Wildlife Refuge Management Act defines the purpose of the refuge as one "to restore, enhance, and maintain wetland, upland, riparian, and other habitats for native wildlife, plant, and fish species in the San Luis Valley."

- The Upper Colorado River Basin Fund Act provides funding to continue endangered fish recovery implementation programs.

"colorado water"
6:28:01 AM    

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