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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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.

Category: Colorado Water
6:33:23 AM    

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Here's a report on the omnibus public lands bill that passed the U.S. Senate yesterday, from Peter Roper writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The "omnibus" public lands package included 160 different bills, including measures to establish federal wilderness areas at Rocky Mountain National Park and elsewhere...

The measure now goes to the House with supporters saying they intend to pass it quickly and have it to Obama soon after his inauguration next Tuesday. The Arkansas Valley Conduit would be a pipeline from Lake Pueblo to communities along the lower Arkansas River, all the way to Lamar. The legislation approved Thursday would require the federal government to pay for 65 percent of the $300 million pipeline. It would serve some 42 communities. It was first authorized in 1962 as part of the Fryingpan-Arkansas federal water project, which built Pueblo Dam...

Other Colorado projects in the public lands package would:

Designate 210,000 acres of land as wilderness in the Dominquez-Escalante Conservation Area on the Uncompahgre Plateau.

Rehabilitate the Jackson Gulch irrigation canal in Montezuma County.

Require the Forest Service to work with local communities in protecting open space around the borders of the Arapahoe-Roosevelt National Forest.

Establish the South Park National Heritage Area to protect 19 working ranches and 17,000 acres of wetlands around the headwaters of the South Platte River.

Establish the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area in the San Luis Valley and would authorize $10 million, over 15 years, to help protect cultural, natural and recreational resources.

More coverage from the Fort Collins Coloradoan:

he 73-21 vote moves Congress closer to one of the largest expansions of wilderness protection in the past 25 years. The legislation heads to the House, where approval is expected. Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., called the move an "an important step toward ensuring that future generations will enjoy the wild places that make Rocky Mountain National Park so special."[...]

Efforts to formally designate the park as wilderness date back more than 30 years. Past legislation has stumbled over political differences, including water and how it is moved through the park from the Western Slope to the Front Range. The proposed legislation would not affect water rights for the Colorado-Big Thompson Project or the Grand River Ditch, which is owned and operated by the Water Supply and Storage Co. of Fort Collins. The designation would not affect projects aimed at controlling bark beetles or wildfires in the park. It also would not hamper plans to build a bike path in Grand Lake.

In Wyoming, the bill would limit further oil and gas leasing in the Wyoming Range while protecting 387 miles of rivers and streams in Snake River headwaters under the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

Category: Colorado Water
6:08:24 AM    

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