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 16, 2008

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From the EPA:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a compliance order to Lawrence Germann for violations of the Clean Water Act in Longmont, Colo. Germann allegedly violated the Act by excavating and placing material in Left Hand Creek without a permit. The order requires Germann to correct the environmental damage resulting from these unauthorized activities. Left Hand Creek flows perennially and is a tributary to St. Vrain Creek.

EPA's order is based on actions that occurred during April and May of 2008, when Germann, or persons acting on his behalf, partially constructed a new channel and placed a 5 to 8-foot wide swath of material into 300 feet of the existing channel of Left Hand Creek. Germann did not obtain a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prior to performing this work.

Category: Colorado Water
8:23:58 PM    

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Utah Representative Jim Matheson hopes to get some good old fashioned water pork in the stimulus package, according to a report in the Salt Lake Tribune (Matt Canham). Why not? It worked in 1932. From the article:

Utah Rep. Jim Matheson, a Democrat, sent a letter Friday to Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee, urging him to set aside money for water projects. "Throughout our country, water infrastructure projects are the basic building blocks of the economy," he wrote. Matheson thinks water conservancy districts could get projects such as the desalination of Colorado River water, the piping of water for the Washington Fields Canal and the repair of the Navajo Mountain water system underway quickly, creating jobs in some of the state's rural areas.

Category: Colorado Water
8:16:08 PM    

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Oil and gas severance taxes are the toast of the town around Denver. The Colorado Municipal League hopes to create a ten million dollar fund to help small towns with their water and sewer systems according to a report written by Jerd Smith in today's Rocky Mountain News. From the article:

Looking for a permanent cash fund to help small communities improve water and wastewater systems, the Colorado Municipal League said it will seek legislation next year that would create a $10 million grant program using revenue from oil and gas taxes. Kevin Bommer, a CML analyst, said the group, which represents 264 Colorado communities, expects bipartisan support for the proposal. Dozens of communities have had difficulty maintaining their water systems and wastewater treatment plants and complying with federal and state health rules, he said. The problem is most acute among communities with populations of 5,000 or less, where hundreds of millions of dollars in improvements are needed, but little cash is available, Bommer said...

Plan for grants:

* Who would benefit: Small, disadvantaged communities of 5,000 people or fewer whose residents have median incomes of roughly $28,000 or less.

* What grants would do: Provide funds to improve water and wastewater treatment plants to comply with state and federal health regulations.

* Where money would come from: State tax revenues derived from oil and gas development.

* What is the need: Some $750 million is needed to complete 439 small water and wastewater projects statewide.

Category: Colorado Water
7:52:45 PM    

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From (Sara Gandy): "El Paso County commissioners have approved an agreement to create a multi-county watershed district aimed at managing Fountain Creek and its flood plain. The commission voted 3-2 in favor of the intergovernmental agreement Monday. The Pueblo County Commission is scheduled to take up the issue Tuesday."

Category: Colorado Water
7:21:54 PM    

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Kate Sheppard takes a look at Senator Ken Salazar's nomination to lead the Department of Interior up on Grist. From the article:

What does Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar's likely appointment to head the Department of Interior mean for environmental and energy policy? A few episodes from his congressional career may shed some light.

Salazar has only been in the Senate since 2005, so he hasn't racked up a lengthy voting record. His lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters is an 81 percent (in high-school terms, a "B-"). His scores for individual years have varied quite a bit, from 73 percent in 2007 to a perfect score in 2008. When he has parted ways with the environmental community, it's primarily been on water resources and agriculture issues. (Salazar serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee, as well as the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.)

Salazar has been the Senate's staunchest opponent of the Bush administration's plans to rush forward with oil-shale development in Western states.

Joan McCarter is lukewarm about Salazar at Interior. She is however glad that he won't be voting for presidential nominees any longer. Here's the link to her post today on New West.

Here's an article with reaction to Ken Salazar's nomination, from Thomas Burr writing in the Salt Lake Tribune. From the article:

Salazar, a Latino and Colorado native who has risen quickly from state attorney general to U.S. senator, likes to show off his Western roots and is expected to carry that tradition to his new post: Interior Department secretary. President-elect Barack Obama's reported choice for Interior is regarded as a moderate on public-land issues and packs a record of supporting the protection of the Western landscape while advocating environmentally friendly ways to tap natural resources.

More coverage from

President-elect Barack Obama's expected appointment of Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., to Interior secretary will complete his environmentally friendly energy and natural resources Cabinet, but will likely require honing his brokering skills to balance the nation's move toward a low- carbon future.

In line with Obama's plan to battle climate change through a fundamental shift away from fossil fuels and toward low-emission ways to heat, light and transport the country, Salazar has been an active advocate for renewable sources.

From a state endowed with both petroleum and renewable resources, the senator is not in the exact same mold as Obama's special White House energy adviser, Al Gore protege and former Environmental Protection Agency chief, Carol Browner. Instead, he has charted a path that brokered a more compromised approach to energy policy, one that many expect bodes of more stringent environmental regulations, but still allows for domestic oil, gas and coal production.

More coverage from Backpacker Magazine (Ted Alvarez):

President-Elect Barack "I Came Here To Get S*** Done" Obama has chosen his pick for Interior Secretary: Colorado Democratic Senator Ken Salazar...Salazar comes pre-packaged with experience directly related to the job, as he previously served as head of Colorado's Department of Natural Resources and made his name as a lawyer involved in water rights issues.

Salazar has also been highly critical of the Bush administration's plans to open up parts of public land in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah for oil-shale drilling. His appointment means that several high-profile energy development projects in the American West could get suspended or even shut down.

While by and large considered a friend to the environment, Salazar is considreed more of a centrist than potential nominee Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), a staunch defender of wildlands championed by many environmental groups.

More coverage from the Denver Business Journal:

Congratulations are rolling in for U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, the presumptive nominee to become the nation's next Interior secretary...

From Marc Smith, executive director of the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States: "Sen. Salazar will provide a strong Western voice and will play a pivotal role in meeting the administration's goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing energy security," said IPAMS Executive Director Marc Smith.

More coverage from (Jeff Mapes):

Salazar is a former Colorado attorney general, state natural resources director and water-rights lawyer who comes from a longtime ranching family. He has a history of seeking out consensus on environmental and other issues. In the Senate, he's been part of the bipartisan "Gang of 14" trying to find agreement on such thorny issues as immigration law.

A quick spin through his public statements on environmental issues shows that he's been immersed in forest health and wildfire issues, which are big concerns in Colorado. What's less clear is how he feels about issues on the wet side of the Cascades. He looks like a guy the ranchers can work with (and that foes of public-lands grazing aren't happy about).

Salazar will become the fourth Democratic senator (after Delaware's Joe Biden, New York's Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama himself) to leave the Senate early as a result of Obama's victory. All of a sudden, the Democrats are going to have defend a lot more seats in 2010, which could be a problem if the economy doesn't turn around before then.

More coverage from the Rocky Mountain News (Todd Hartman):

Ken Salazar will face a mountain of environmental challenges - many centered in Colorado - should he take over as czar of Western lands, water and wildlife in his role as U.S. Interior secretary.

From overseeing dwindling water supplies in the Colorado River, to safely developing oil shale in the northwestern part of the state, to balancing the needs of rare species with energy drilling, Salazar will find himself buffeted by controversy from the get-go.

He'll also find himself immersed in the push-pull between industrial desires to make use of the landscape, and conservationists' wish to preserve it. And after a long list of controversial actions by the Bush administration, he'll be under great pressure to change course.

Among many specific challenges Salazar will face both in the state and across the West:

* Dealing with the many controversial moves by the Bush administration, including a recent action that allows government to bypass federal biologists when considering a project's impact on endangered species.

* Protection of a rare bird called the sage grouse, which environmentalists complain is under siege from energy development. Giving the bird a federal safety net, however, could create major roadblocks for oil and gas work on federal lands.

* How to resolve increasing tensions over supplies in the Colorado River, as population growth and, studies suggest, climate change bite into its shrinking flows. The issue pits downstream states such as California and Arizona against upstream states such as Colorado and Utah.

* How much to open federal lands to renewable energy development. Federal lands could host large solar, wind and geothermal projects along with the energy drilling already occurring there.

* Conflicts over oil shale. The elusive energy source could produce staggering volumes of fossil fuels, but likely at the expense of huge stores of water and the need for massive electrical plants.

* Settling tensions over an expanding gray wolf population in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. As wolves migrate outside their home region, ranchers fear the impact on their livestock.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:21:01 PM    

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The new rules for oil and gas exploration and production approved last week by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission have State Representative Steve King (R-Grand Junction) calling for Director Dave Neslin's head, according to Emily Anderson writing in the Grand Junction Free Press. From the article:

Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, wants a new direction and a new director for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. King sent a letter to Gov. Bill Ritter Monday asking him to replace COGCC Director Dave Neslin in light of last week's approval of several oil and gas rule changes by the commission. King said he's concerned Neslin doesn't have western Colorado's best interests at heart, especially after Neslin showed little concern about a natural gas drilling decrease here in an interview with the Rocky Mountain News. "The comments that have been made about how even if we had a drilling decrease of 20 to 30 percent, it would take us back to where we were a couple years ago, that's unacceptable," King said...

[Governor] Ritter praised the rules and the lengthy amount of time the commission and his administration spent on the 18-month process. "These new rules strike an important balance that will protect the environment while encouraging responsible industry growth," Ritter said. "They ensure timely and efficient permitting. They protect drinking water supplies. They reduce odors and air emissions. They require operators to disclose chemicals used in drilling, and they increase regulatory transparency."

Harris Sherman, chairman of the commission, defended Neslin as a "hard-working, diligent, fair-minded public servant. His observation that the oil and gas boom is likely to moderate in 2009 because of market forces outside of Colorado's control is a view that is supported by most industry experts and market analysts. The accusation that he has been indifferent to the prospect of job losses on the West Slope is unfair and a distortion of his comments," Sherman said.

King said he's concerned the rules are "one size fits all" and criticized the commission for approving the rules nearly six months after they were scheduled for adoption, saying it created a "fear of the unknown" for oil and gas producers. He said the rules need to be "revisited" when they go to the state Legislature for final approval in 2009.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Climate Change News
6:35:42 AM    

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan: "The Larimer County commissioners on Monday presented the 2008 Larimer County Environmental Stewardship Awards to five winners...

"> Big Thompson Watershed Forum's Volunteer Monitoring Program for its collaboration with community volunteers to collect water samples...

"> Darlene Halvorsen for her work with River Watch at Loveland High School. Halvorsen, who is a science teacher, coordinates the activities of the River Watch club, which performs monthly water analyses at designated locations on the Big Thompson River and shares that information with the Colorado Division of Wildlife...

> Legacy Land Trust for its efforts that have resulted in the conservation of more than 35,000 acres of important lands since the trust's founding in 1993. Legacy Land Trust is a nonprofit organization that works with local landowners, the community, and local government to conserve important wildlife habitat, farm and ranch lands, and scenic areas in Larimer, Weld and Jackson counties."

Category: Colorado Water
6:12:58 AM    

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Here's some reaction to President-elect Obama's choice of U.S. Senator Ken Salazar to lead Interior:

From BeyondChron and their article, "Obama's Choice of Salazar Raises Progressive Concern":

But plaudits for Obama's environmental commitment preceded his appointment of Colorado Senator Ken Salazar as Secretary of Interior. Interior handles all of what used to be called "the environment" prior to rising climate change - including forest and salmon protection, mining restrictions, endangered species and the preservation and enhancement of our national parks. Obama's selection of Salazar has left some progressives fit to be tied, though environmental groups happy about his other picks are not likely to publicly complain. Salazar has a generally good environmental record, but he is not a close environmental ally. Environmentalists expected more, someone like progressive Arizona Congressmember Raul Grijalva, whose inside track to the job apparently fell prey to opposition from Obama's Southwest business supporters...

Considering how problematic the two leading contenders for the position were, and that he picked Senator Salazar, questions are raised as to whether the President is as passionate about protecting the natural environment as he is about stopping global warming...

I met Salazar at the recent Democratic National Convention. I had a nice conversation with him about Cesar Chavez, and he expressed great enthusiasm for my book, Beyond the Fields. Salazar was never even mentioned as a leading candidate for the Interior job until December 15, the same day he was offered and accepted the post. The first clue came from the Denver Post, which reported that day that Salazar was "poised to head Interior."

Here's the good news about Salazar, from information found on Daily Kos and other sources: he has opposed oil shale development in Colorado, and sponsored legislation to repeal fees and increase access of public lands to low-income families seeking to visit national parks. He's been strong on mercury regulations. He supports the right of eminent domain to appropriate land for national parks and open spaces. Salazar was instrumental in the formation of the Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve. The formation of the park prevented a water developer from sucking the valley dry - and the Dunes and the Rio Grande with it. Salazar's participation in creating the Great Outdoors Colorado fund resulted in an increase in state park lands of more than 400%, as well as an improvement to the quality of those parks.

Now for the bad news: In 2005, Salazar voted against increasing fuel-efficiency standards (CAFE) for cars and trucks, and against an amendment to repeal tax breaks for ExxonMobil and other major oil companies. In 2006, Salazar voted to end protections that limit off-shore drilling in Florida's Gulf Coast. In 2007, Salazar was one of only a handful of Democrats to vote against a bill that would require the US Army Corps of Engineers to consider global warming when planning water projects. But Salazar's most recent League of Conservation Voters rating was 100%, and it was 85% in 2007. There is no way that leading environmental groups will oppose his nomination...

The Obama Administration had difficulty finding an Interior chief, and ultimately picked a more moderate choice, because unlike the climate change and alternative energy issues, environmental protection divides Democrats. Nearly all Democrats support investing in wind, solar and other alternative energy, and back higher fuel economy standards, "green" buildings, and other strategies to make the country more energy efficient. But Democrats have different views on oil and gas exploration and mining on public lands, on forest protection, endangered species, and on other environmental protections that some businesses claim hurt jobs. That's why the Secretary of Interior position has long proved so critical: it issues the rules and regulations impacting the above concerns.

We remember when Salazar was voting for President Bush's nominees -- saying that the preseident had the right to appoint whom he would -- progressives wondered what they had done in getting him into office. At that time we reminded them that Salazar was a former prosecutor and no liberal or progressive.

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Steven K. Paulson) [prior to the announcement]:

Rep.-elect Betsy Markey, who served on Salazar's Senate staff from 2005-07, said he "would be a wonderful choice for secretary of Interior." "Given Sen. Salazar's experience heading the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, he would bring a wealth of experience to the post," Markey said in a statement through her spokesman, Ben Marter. "Ken has been a leader in the U.S. Senate on natural resources, public land and water issues. He would be a tremendous representative for Colorado in the Cabinet."[...]

Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter said he has mixed feelings about the prospect of choosing a replacement for Salazar. He cited Salazar's experience as head of the state Department of Natural Resources under former Gov. Roy Romer and his Western roots. "I have very mixed emotions about this. Ken Salazar has been an extremely effective United States senator for Colorado these past four years, particularly as a moderate and as a centrist," Ritter said in a statement.

From the Sofia News Agency [Bulgaria]:

The 53-year-old Senator Ken Salazar grew up on a ranch in southern Colorado. He is of Hispanic origin, and his family settled in today's New Mexico in the 1500s. Salazar is an attorney with expertise in water law. He was elected Senator in 2004, at the same time Obama got elected to the US Senate. He is known for voicing his concerns over several controversial energy projects in the western parts of the USA, including the opening of public lands for oil and gas drilling, and mining.


The Secretary of the Interior is a Cabinet position and requires the approval of the full U.S. Senate. The position is eighth in the presidential line of succession. If Salazar assumes the position, he will become the second former Colorado Attorney General to hold the position. Gale Norton was President Bush's Secretary of the Interior from 2001-2006...

"Ken Salazar is a very good pick when you look at his credentials. He was the head of the State Department of Natural Resources, which deals exactly with the issues that the Interior Department deals nationally with," said 9NEWS Political Analyst Floyd Ciruli...

Salazar is a first-term Colorado Senator who has established a name for himself on public lands and energy resources issues. He headed the Colorado Natural Resources Department from 1990 through 1994. The Interior Department has broad oversight over the nation's energy resources and environment. It oversees oil and gas drilling on public lands and manages the nation's parks and wildlife refuges.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:07:53 AM    

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