Coyote Gulch's Colorado Water
The health of our waters is the principal measure of how we live on the land. -- Luna Leopold

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

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Up on, "All three of us are in agreement that the time for delay is over, the time for denial is over," President-elect Barack Obama said today, following a meeting with former Vice President Al Gore and Vice President-elect Joe Biden."

That sets the stage nicely for speculation that President-elect Obama will name the environmental team this week, including Interior, Energy and EPA. Westerners are watching closely. The choice will have a major influence on water policy, fossil fuels, solar energy and wind generated electriciy.

Here's a report from Timothy B. Hurst writing on Red, Green and Blue.

A coalition of 106 conservation organizations is supporting Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) as the next Secretary of the Interior, according to a letter from more than 78 groups sent to President-elect Obama and released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Grijalva is the current chair of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands which has jurisdiction over Interior Department matters.

The groups praised Grijalva for assembling what is regarded as one of the most "far sighted endangered species protection plans in the nation" and for his "leadership pressing Interior and other federal agencies to integrate global warming issues into their planning and permitting."

Meanwhile, according to a report from Bill Scanlon writing in the Rocky Mountain News, "Scientists have vastly underestimated the challenge of reducing greenhouse gases in a world where billions are boosting their carbon footprint, an important new report says. The report throws ice water on projections that global warming can be slowed as energy efficiency helps poor countries develop in a more sustainable way."

The new report will be presented this week at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Climate Change News
5:56:11 PM    

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Here's an endorsement of Representative Mike Thompson to lead Interior under President Obama, from Dan Bacher writing in the North Coast. From the article:

The Karuk Tribe of northern California today joined a broad coalition of fishing, hunting and conservation groups throughout the nation in urging President-Elect Barrack Obama to appoint Representative Mike Thompson as the next Secretary of Interior. Political insiders are expecting Obama to make a decision this week regarding his choice for the next Secretary of Interior. Although a number of possible contenders for the Interior position have circulated through the rumor mill, the two leading candidates for the position to date are Thompson and Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ).

"Congressman Thompson is a lifelong outdoorsman who understands how to bring rural conservationists and urban environmentalists together to create meaningful and protective natural resource policy," said Tribal Chairman Arch Super. "Congressman Thompson has been a leader on local resource issues in his district working diligently to protect salmon and watersheds that are of cultural and spiritual import to the Karuk Tribe." Super noted that Thompson has been broadly recognized as a leader outside his district as well, receiving national recognition for his achievements from both environmental and sportsman's groups. He is unique among Congressmen in receiving both the Sierra Club's prestigious Edgar Wayburn Award for environmental protection and the legislator of the year award by Safari Club International. "The Congressman forever endeared himself to members of the Karuk Tribe in 2002 when the Klamath River fish kill left nearly 70,000 adult salmon on the banks of the Klamath River," said Super. "Congressman Thompson made this horrific event an issue of national importance by flying carcasses of these fish back to D.C. to present to his fellow lawmakers as evidence of failed federal policy in the Klamath Basin. With such bold action, Congressman Thompson has illustrated his great devotion to conserving America's natural resources."

Ducks Unlimited, the American Sportfishing Association, Bass Pro Shops and 29 other national sportsmen's groups are urging Obama to appoint Rep. Thompson as the new Interior Secretary. Besides earning high marks from both sportsmen's and environmental groups, Thompson this year played a key leadership role in obtaining disaster relief for recreational and commercial fishermen and related businesses devastated by the closure of salmon fishing in ocean waters off California and Oregon and in Central Valley rivers this year, due to the collapse of the Sacramento River fall chinook population...

The Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman's Associations (PCFFA), the largest commercial fishing organization on the West Coast, is also strongly supporting Thompson for Secretary. "We cannot recommend Mr. Thompson highly enough," said Zeke Grader, the PCFFA's executive director, in a letter to Obama on November 24. "We have had the opportunity to work with him for two decades, in both the California Legislature and the U.S. Congress. He is a passionate, thoughtful, intelligent and extremely hard-working individual." Grader said Thompson would bring to the Department of the Interior "a wealth of knowledge" about water, coastal and marine, lands and recreational issues, as well as having a "long and good working relationship" with the Native American governments in his area.

In addition, California Representatives George Miller, author of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA), and Anna Eshoo recently sent a letter to Obama supporting the appointment of Thompson for Interior Secretary.

Meanwhile, another coalition of conservation organizations is building support behind naming Congressman Raúl Grijalva as the next Secretary of the Interior, according to a support letter from more than 78 groups sent to President-elect Obama and released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Rep. Grijalva now chairs the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands that has jurisdiction over Interior Department matters. The 106 groups who signed this latest letter, based in states ranging from New York and Virginia to Colorado and California, represent some of the growing support for Grijalva spanning wildlife, land protection and good government groups, as well as among Congressional colleagues, including Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) who chairs the Natural Resources Committee. Scientists, Indian Tribes and Latino organizations are also backing Grijalva. Among the pluses highlighted in the support letter is that Rep. Grijalva has "a depth and breadth of experience in complex natural resource issues at federal, state, tribal and county levels." In particular, the letter praised Grijalva for assembling what is regarded as one of the most "far-sighted endangered species protection plans in the nation" that minimized the need for litigation that has plagued Interior. The letter also praised the Congressman for "expertise in drought management, a growing condition in the parched West" and "leadership in pressing Interior and other federal agencies to integrate global warming issues into their planning and permitting." "Representative Grijalva is widely respected, with excellent state and local relations, and a proven record of fairness, ethics and conservation," stated Southwest PEER Director Daniel Patterson, who is a newly elected Arizona State Representative who formerly worked with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which controls the most acreage of any Interior agency. "Congressman Grijalva understands wildlife and outdoors issues, as well as energy, water, tribes and natural resources management."[...]

While both Thompson and Grijalva have impressive environmental credentials, Thompson is a hunter and angler while Grivalva isn't. This fact could be a key factor in determining whether Thompson, Grijalva or somebody else becomes the next Interior Secretary.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Climate Change News
6:41:09 AM    

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Oil shale is the "Next Big Thing" some say. Some do not. From an opinion piece written by Craig Thompson in the Salt Lake Tribune:

Oil-shale development also produces huge environmental costs globally and locally. Low-heat fuels that require a lot of energy to develop mean more carbon dioxide per unit of heat yielded. This means considerably more global warming pollution. Some of the world's top climate scientists recently have issued warnings that we are on the verge of unstoppable global warming.

Oil shale expands when retorted. It expands into an enormous solid waste problem --concentrated in water-soluble salts and metals that must be isolated to prevent environmental contamination. Oil shale beds often serve as the floor for aquifers. Heat the oil shale in place and you heat the aquifer. That causes the groundwater to become contaminated with elements like arsenic and fluoride. This becomes a groundwater nightmare.

One cost will be paid in units of acre-feet -- water. Turning shale into useful fuel will require lakes of water in all phases of development. Water has to come from somewhere in this arid region. It can only come from unclaimed Colorado River drainage water or from existing users. The former source promises a fight and the latter a major war.

Water is not the only issue. Public oil-shale lands support some of the richest wildlife populations in North America -- already impacted by a booming gas development industry. These 2 million acres are home to the largest mule deer herd in the country, mountain lions, black bears, bald eagles and elk. Develop that habitat and Americans will be left with an impoverished landscape.

In spite of the enormous promise, oil shale remains a finite, non-renewable resource. With current technology, oil shale development will not solve our energy problems. It is a desperately poor fuel that will not bring energy independence. That solution will ultimately come by converting to renewable resources. At best, oil shale development may delay a transition to renewable energy that we will have to make in the future anyway. That delay will come at a terrible cost to the West and perhaps to the planet.

Governors Freudenthal and Ritter, along with U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar and Senator-elect Mark Udall get it. They have called for a go-slow approach. We need to support them and to urge them to call on Congress to re-enact the oil shale moratorium.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Climate Change News
6:29:21 AM    

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Here's a preview of tonight's Pueblo County public meeting about their 1041 permit for Colorado Springs' proposed Southern Delivery System, from Scott Rappold writing in the Colorado Springs Gazette. From the article:

Pueblo County planners have recommended county commissioners there attach numerous strings to approval of the Southern Delivery System, a $1.1 billion water pipeline planned between Pueblo Reservoir and the east side of Colorado Springs. A hearing on Colorado Springs Utilities' 1041 land-use application begins tonight, and is expected to resume Thursday. It could be one of the toughest hurdles for the pipeline...

"I think, for the most part, they're reasonable things," said Dan Higgins, CSU construction and delivery program manager, of the suggested conditions. "There are some things we may agree to disagree on and that's a matter for the commissioners." Consultant Paul Banks, of Lakewood-based Banks and Gesso LLC, hired by the county to review the application, wrote in a memo to Pueblo County commissioners that there is a "lack of concrete, enforceable mitigation proposals by the applicant in several key areas of concern." He recommended the county establish several conditions for approval, including:

- Limit discharge down Fountain Creek from the new Williams Creek Reservoir to 300 cubic feet per second.
- Require quick construction of the new Upper Williams Creek Reservoir, where raw water would be stored at the end of the pipeline, so water could be drawn gradually from Pueblo Reservoir.
- Require CSU to pay for improvements to Fountain Creek, which has erosion and sedimentation problems that will be exacerbated by more water flowing downstream.
- Allow CSU to use eminent domain to obtain land for the pipeline as a "last resort."
- Require CSU to go back to Pueblo County to amend its permit if the utility wants to sell the water to another water utility.
- Require a state engineer to study the dam at Pueblo Reservoir before the capacity of the reservoir is expanded.
- Require CSU to agree to maintain certain flows on the Arkansas River below the reservoir, in wet and dry years.
- Require CSU to minimize noise and other construction impacts.

Higgins said CSU opposes having to go back to Pueblo County if the utility decides to sell water to another agency, and officials disagree that Pueblo Reservoir and the Arkansas River would be hurt by decreased water levels and low flows.

As for how much CSU should pay for Fountain Creek work, little has been decided. The consultant wrote, "The amount of monetary mitigation - when it is paid, how it is funded, to whom it is paid and on what projects it should be spent - should be negotiated with the applicant and should be a condition of approval of the SDS 1041 permit."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:20:33 AM    

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