Monthly Archives: July 2009

Roundup Friday July 31, 2009

Comments sought for solar-energy study areas—Amy Joi O’Donoghue, Deseret News 7/27/09

The public comment period has been extended to Sept. 14 for proposed energy study areas on 700,000 acres of public lands in six Western states such as Utah.  The BLM wants to know the public’s thought on the environmental suitability of large scale solar energy development on 2 dozen tracts of land.

Almost 17,700 acres in Utah are up for consideration as solar energy study areas.  These sites include 6,581 acres in Iron County’s Escalante Valley, 6,440 acres in Beaver County’s Milford Flats South, and 3,676 acres in the Wah Wah Valley of west central Utah.   If selected, the sites would be eligible for a streamlined application process for permitting and siting.  Almost 100,000 megawatts could be available for the grid nationally across the Western states.  Local sites are geared to about 10 or more megawatts. 

Recycling in Utah:  Is it all really recycled?—Ross Chambless, KUER audio broadcast 7/29/09

US has to lead the fight for a clean, green world—China Daily, ChinaView 7/30/09

ESR Editor’s note:  Xinhua, Xinhuanet and the English version claims in its “About” page to be the top news website in China and one of the most influential news sites in the world.

How the US and China collaborate could largely determine the success of the Copenhagen climate change conference in December.  Such a collaboration could increase chances a successful treaty will replace the Kyoto Protocol, set to expire in 2012, and also demonstrate leading strategies for halting global warming.  Currently, however, talks suggest both a discouraging and a hopeful future for collaboration.

Negotiators for both countries remain deadlocked and polarized.  The US and other developed countries “refuse to take responsibility for the greenhouse gasses (GHGs) they have emitted throughout history…their emissions are a lot more than that of the developing world.”

Meanwhile, billions of “green” stimulus dollars fuel a global race for new clean energy technologies.  The US appears to lead in six significant clean-tech fields:  building efficiency, battery technology, solar, carbon capture and storage, smart grids, and electric vehicles.  China too is gearing up with new low-energy vehicles, diode lighting, innovative energy efficiency technologies and alternative energy sources like solar, wind, bio-gas and synthetic fuels.  Collaborations are centered around restructuring energy portfolios with low-carbon energy technologies.

Both countries have used each other as an excuse for relative inaction, though are now exploring ways to genuinely cut GHG emissions.  The nature of their bilateral ties will determine how the low-carbon economic costs and benefits will be divided, and how fast the global economy will evolve.

“The responsibility for this transformation lies squarely with China and the US, not only because they are the world’s big GHG emitters, but also because only they have the capacity to invest enough clean-tech research and development, provide a large enough labor force, and support a large enough change in global policy.  So the future of the world’s climate rests not just on their shoulders individually, but on their ability to work together.”

China’s toughest international relations challenge since the end of the Cold War is the issue of climate change.  China is reported to be the largest GHG emitter, and pace of future emissions is predicted to exceed forecasts.  Still, as a developing country it requires more rapid economic growth to lift hundreds of people out of poverty and provide better living standards for hundreds of millions more.  Balancing growth and protection of the environment is China’s challenge.

While many countries are looking to China for leadership with respect to the global economic crisis, China’s leaders say that global role is beyond their capability.  Yet China has come a long way since Kyoto was signed, though like many other developing countries, China too was dragged into that process.  Since then, however, things have changed, as demonstrated by the Bali Roadmap signed in December 2007 and providing a joint agreement for a global deal in Copenhagen in 2009.

Though the international community, including the US climate envoy, has lauded China’s efforts to fight climate change, that does not mean a Sino-US agreement is a done deal.  The Kyoto Protocol required different actions from the US, a developed country, and China, a developing country.  The US must commit to absolute limits on GHG emissions, while China does not.  “So China would like to see the US take the lead in honoring commitments, instead of using it as an excuse for inaction.”

China has emitted but 1/5 of the GHGs the US has, and therefore China asserts it has the moral right to reject calls to lead in cutting emissions.  China is expected to deliver a commitment, however much lower than the EU or the US to the Bali Action Plan ahead of Copenhagen.

In return, the US, to guarantee a constructive outcome in Copenhagen, “must set radical and practical targets, take responsibility for its historical GHG emissions, and commit itself to supporting developing countries’ efforts through capacity building, technology transfer and financial aid.”  This is what is needed to prove the US wants to assume the role in leading the fight against global climate change.

China wants climate deal this year:  UN’s Ban—Louis Charbonneau, Reuters 7/29/09

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters Wednesday that China’s leaders desire to reach a new climate change agreement in Copenhagen later this year.  President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao both assured Ban that “China will play an active and constructive role in the negotiations.”  Climate change topped the agenda during recent UN visits to China and Mongolia.

While China recently emerged as the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses, China and the US combined emit 42% of the world’s emissions.  US President Barack Obama will visit with China’s Hu later this year, where climate concerns are expected to rank high in priority.  A UN summit in New York in September, where both Hu and Obama are expected to attend along with about 100 other heads of state, will also center on the issue.

Ban said Copenhagen would be “the largest gathering of leaders on climate change ever…Today, leaders are walking the road to Copenhagen together.”  The UN Secretary-General will travel to the Arctic next month to view first-hand warming conditions, especially melting sea ice.

A deputy chief of China’s commission steering climate change policy told the official Xinhua agency Wednesday that industrialized nations have to commit to large, measurable cuts in their emissions for Copenhagen to succeed.  The deputy chief’s words came after the US and China agreed on greater cooperation over climate change, energy and the environment, though no firm goals were set.

US senator John Kerry criticized the agreement for its lack of timelines, dates and specific steps ahead of Copenhagen.  Earlier this year, Beijing insisted that developed nations cut GHGs by “at least 40%” of 1990 levels by 2020, though rhetoric now suggests more pragmatic cooperation.  Industrialized nations claim large emissions cuts are out of reach while trying to stimulate economies out of global and national recession.

US needs to build climate partnership with India:  Kerry—Lalit K Jha, Business Standard 7/30/09

ESR Editor’s note:  Business Standard claims to be the leading business daily publication in India, according to its “About” page.

Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said to reporters yesterday that while India has insisted it will not accept legally binding emissions reductions, the Obama administration needs to build a “flexible” climate partnership with New Delhi regarding global warming actions.  Referring to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent visit to India, Kerry added; “India’s rhetoric was as strident as we ever heard China’s, so we need to build a climate partnership with India, too; working from the same principles, but respecting the massive differences.”

India’s environment minister said after meeting with Secretary Clinton that while no legally binding emissions commitments would be made, the country would not flee from responsibilities on the issue.  Experts have said India could reduce construction of new power plants, possibly delaying new construction for a decade, if energy efficiency opportunities were fully deployed, Senator Kerry said.  “Ultimately our climate diplomacy depends on building a framework that is flexible enough to accommodate individual countries’ wants and needs, but firm enough to bring all of us on board and hold all nations accountable,” the senator added.

Senator Kerry said the challenge will grow easier as people across the globe come to realize that “the challenge of developing clean-energy sources is not a brake on economic growth.  It is the engine.”  US State Department funded joint efficiency labs are at work in Delhi and Mumbai and are expected to expand collaboration across all Indian states, Kerry said.  He also pointed to India’s geography and grid in suggesting that thermal technology could provide 10% of India’s energy within a decade.

Recognizing that the US and other industrialized countries must lead the way to global emissions cuts, Kerry asserted, “We all recognize and respect that they have to grow their economies, they have to grow jobs, they have to take care of their people.  All we’re asking is that they do so in ways that don’t replicate the mistakes that the industrial world made for the last 150 years.”  Kerry believes the US has the responsibility to help some of those who can’t pay for clean energy technology; “I believe the United States has to lead.”

Speaking at the National Press Club Wednesday, Kerry reiterated the feelings of less developed countries; “we’re not signing up to the same deal that you are, because that’s what we all agreed upon in Kyoto…in Bali…in Poznan…in Poland.  And it’s true.”  Kerry acknowledged that China and India do not have to agree to the same percentage of emissions reductions as the US, that they don’t have to act in “the exact same manner.”  He does expect a plan and reductions commitments, ones that are measurable, reportable and verifiable.

“That’s the key to Copenhagen.  That’s the key to success.  And that will still work within the framework of the language the Indians are currently using,” Kerry asserted.

Which countries believe in climate change?—Simon Rogers, Data Blog, The Guardian 7/29/09

ESR Editor’s note:  The Guardian (London, UK) claims in its “About” page that it was founded in 1821 and has been known for its editorial and political independence.

The 19-nation survey of 18,578 people was undertaken by  Majorities in 15 countries believe their government should put a higher priority on climate change issues than what is currently being done, including largest GHG emitters China, the US and Russia.

The 10-point scale spanned from “not a priority at all” to “a very high priority”.  Nations surveyed make up 60% of the world’s population.  Highlights of statistics are as follows.

Percent of those surveyed that think the government places the highest priority on addressing climate change:

Highest:  Germany—78%, China—78%

Lowest:  Ukraine—7%, Iraq—17%, Palestinian territory—17%


Percent of those surveyed that think the government should place the highest priority on addressing climate change:

Highest:  China—94%, Mexico—90%

Lowest:  Palestinian territory—34%, Iraq—35%


Percent of those surveyed that think the average person in their country believes the government should place the highest priority on addressing climate change:

Highest:  Nigeria—82%; Mexico—76%

Lowest:   US—18%; Iraq—32%

View more complete analysis on the Guardian Data Blog link above.

Palo Alto settles lawsuit over plastic bag ban—Will Oremus, Mercury News 7/28/09

Industry-backed Save the Plastic Bag Coalition struck a deal with the city of Palo Alto, California that will allow Palo Alto’s ban to continue without expanding to include other city stores.  The city has agreed to conduct a full environmental impact report ahead of enforcing greater compliance.  The ban, adopted in March, had widespread support due to the tendency for the bags to become windblown debris in the streets and waterways, where they can harm wildlife.

The Save the Plastic Bag Coalition successfully sued the city of Manhattan Beach citing the California Environmental Quality Act in arguing the city did not adequately consider impacts.  The group holds that paper bags are worse for the environment, while the city has appealed the decision.  In Palo Alto, all but four grocery stores had already voluntarily given up plastic bags, and the coalition’s lawyers were less inclined to devote time and money to overturning the law.

The coalition claims all it wants is a thorough environmental impact report.  Palo Alto, though familiar with the Manhattan Beach case, decided to do a limited report instead, citing their ban wouldn’t substantially harm the environment.  Additionally, Palo Alto was encouraging use of re-useable bags, which would lower overall impact on the environment.  The lawyer for the coalition argued if that was the case, they should have banned paper bags as well.

Palo Alto’s ban was fought by several grocers unsuccessfully.  While drug stores and other smaller businesses were not subject to the law, Palo Alto argued that starting with groceries would have a bigger immediate effect, and offer some feedback before an expanded ban was put in place.  The city is also considering other future options such as imposing a fee for paper bags.

Water panel adds canal safety to agenda—Judy Fahys, SLT 7/30/09

The State Water Development Commission has added irrigation-canal safety in Utah to its agenda for the next meeting.  Parowan Republican Sen. Dennis Stowell said “I know that [canal oversight] is part of our responsibility,” at Wednesday’s meeting.  Local police and the Attorney General’s office have dismissed investigation into the cause of the July 17 Logan canal collapse.  Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert said the Executive Water Rights Task Force will be examining oversight and safety of Utah’s canals as well.

Legislators, water-district representatives, environmentalists and executive-branch government members make up the decade old water commission.  One concern is sufficient monies for the state water project loan fund, which could affect funding constraints for canal oversight.  Safety, liability and inspections also will come under review.

A dam-safety bill was sponsored during for the 2009 legislative session, but failed to get a hearing.  The sponsor has a bill open to look at canal safety for next year’s session.  Notably, a bill sponsored in 2000 that would have funded a canal-safety survey by the state Division of Water Rights failed as well.

Fire evacuates hikers, closes trails to Zion—SLT 7/30/09

The Cliff fire ignited Tuesday on Black Ridge east of I-15 and six miles south of Kolob Canyons visitor center on the west side of Zion National Park.  The 200-plus acre fire closed Kolob Canyons Scenic Drive and all associated trails, including Hop Valley Trail along Kolob Terrace Road.  An unknown number of hikers were evacuated off the La Verkin Creek trail, as the lightning-ignited fire moved northeast into the park and La Verkin Creek drainage.

Lightning sparks numerous southwestern Utah fires—SLT 7/30/09

Overnight, 40 reports of smoke and 28 new blazes were confirmed, though most were reported at less than an acre.  The Twin Peaks and Bench Fires have been combined and renamed as the Cedar Bench Complex, at 250 acres burned.  The Cliff fire, topping 100 acres, continues to burn northeast of St. George, and the Square Top fire, again over 100 acres, continues to burn northwest of St. George.

Eligibility changes for 164 trade-in clunkers—AP, SLT 7/29/09

Under the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), 78 vehicles that used to qualify for trade-ins don’t, and 86 that did not qualify now do.  A review of fuel economy listings of 30,000 vehicles over 25 years by the EPA led to mileage data exacting to four decimal places, causing the changes.  Previously, consumer data was used.  CARS took effect over the past weekend, with rebates of $3,500 or $4,500 for more efficient vehicle purchases when trading in vehicles with combined city/highway mileage of 18 mpg or less.

Record heat wave continues in Seattle, Portland—Ryan Kost, AP, SLT 7/29/09

High temps are likely to break the record high of 100 degrees set in July of 1994 at Sea-Tac, while Tuesday saw temperatures of 106 at Portland International Airport, one degree short of the record set in 1981.  Due to its usually temperate weather, some places have no air conditioning, which continues to sell out at area stores.  Fans and shaved ice are other high demand items.

Medford in southern Oregon saw 108 degrees Tuesday, and Hoquiam on Grays Harbor in Washington state hit 93 degrees, breaking the 1965 record of 81 degrees.  Astoria, Ore., at the mouth of the Columbia River, is normally cool, but recent temps hit 92, breaking the 82 degree record set in 2003.  Officials in Portland and Seattle are opening cooling centers for the elderly and extending public fountain hours.  Other cities were opening make-shift cooling rooms and city park showers.  Meteorologists expect the high temps to drop starting Thursday.

Vote coming on Matheson’s dish-label warning—Matt Canham, SLT 7/29/09

Matheson’s food-safety bill would require ceramic dishes to warn of possible lead poisoning.  Utah families with children who contracted lead poisoning from their dinnerware offered the motivation.  Specific required language would be:  “This product is made with lead-based glaze consistent with the Food and Drug Administration guidelines for such lead.”  Matheson noted problems have come from incorrectly firing the lead-based glaze and unsafe lead levels.

To ease price swings, US may limit energy trading—Combined News Services, SLT 7/28/09

A major shift in policy considered by federal regulators would impose quantity limits on speculative trading of energy futures contracts.  The contracts already are supposed to lessen price volatility, but speculators using the contracts to bet on market prices have magnifying price swings, according to critics.  The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CTFC) began hearings Wednesday that will take input from consumers, businesses and traders.  One commissioner said he expects the commission will set hard limits.

New restrictions could be in place by late summer or early fall.  Especially of concern is trade by those in the market who are solely financial investors.  Volatile oil futures markets were given reign due to presiding free-market sentiments.  The Bush administration generally opposed tighter regulation in the financial industry, reporters say.  And CFTC appointees included some who favored Bush policies, though the commission is intended to be independent of politics.

The financial industry has opposed limits on speculative trading, saying this will drive business overseas.  Millions have been spent lobbying, and no requirement exists to itemize lobbying expenses.  One CFTC commissioner said “We weren’t inquisitive enough, and we weren’t diligent enough in our oversight.”

Park Service awards Japanese internment grants—Mead Gruver, AP, SLT 7/28/09

Almost $1 million has been awarded to increase awareness of and aid in preserving sites connected to detention of Japanese-Americans during World War II.  One organization, receiving $282,000, will build a museum at one-time Heart Mountain Relocation Center near Powell, Wyoming.  Manzanar and Tule Lake relocation centers in California, Honouliuli Internment Camp in Hawaii, Fort Lincoln Internment Camp in North Dakota, Kooskia Internment Camp in Idaho, Crystal City Internment Camp in Texas, and Topaz, Central Utah Relocation Center all will receive project funds.

Some organizations will record interviews with internment camp survivors.  All told, 32 applications sought $2.4 million for internment camp-related programs.  Public input meetings were held in a number of cities across the West and Hawaii to inform final decisions, and recipients must match every $2 of federal funding with $1 from other sources.  Another $2.5 million may be available next year.

Some 110,000 Japanese-Americans were forced into relocation camps during World War II, and Heart Mountain held 11,000 by 1943.  The number represents what would have been Wyoming’s fourth-largest city at the time.  All that remains of the site is a brick smokestack and a few buildings.  The new museum will mimic the tarpaper long-room barracks that housed thousands without insulation, and is expected to open in early 2011.  Artifacts of internment victims will also be on display.

Hunt supporters back feds in wolf lawsuit—AP, SLT 7/28/09

At issue are over 1,300 gray wolves in Montana and Idaho removed from the endangered species list earlier this year.   A suit brought by environmentalists calling for restored federal oversight has brought intervention from pro-hunt advocates, livestock groups and both the state of Idaho and Montana.  US District Judge Donald Molloy, presiding in the case, halted proposed 2008 wolf hunts and re-established federal protection for the wolves.   Around 300 wolves listed as endangered reside in Wyoming.

Wyoming guv blasts proposed Flaming Gorge water pipeline—Ben Neary, AP, SLT 7/28/09

The pipeline in question has been proposed by Colorado entrepreneur Aaron Million from the Green River in Wyoming to Colorado’s Front Range.  US Army Corps of Engineers is overseeing environmental study of the 560 mile proposed pipeline, which would carry 250,000 acre-feet a year southeast.  Million would privately fund the $3 billion enterprise, and would not exceed Colorado’s allocated water under the Colorado River compacts.

Million, carrying out a private enterprise that has already lined up municipalities and agricultural users from Wyoming to Pueblo, Colorado, said the Front Range needs more than 450,000 acre-feet of water beyond present capacity per year to meet increasing demands.  “I’ll be the first to put a fork in my project,” Million said, if the environmental review suggests potential river or community harm.

Wyoming governor Dave Freudenthal submitted comments ahead of the closing of the required public comment period hosted by the Corps, citing endangered species and recreation impact concerns.  Freudenthal also wants the entrepreneur’s marketing plan disclosed, certain that water would be cheaper under public contract.  He noted too that Wyoming would still hold senior water rights under the plan, legally allowing shortages to Colorado if water supplies were low.

Officials in Colorado and Utah haven’t commented on the project, though Utah is expected to file comments this week.  The draft environmental study is expected to be finished in 2012, with a final version issued in 2014, a Corps spokesperson said.  Million added the pipeline could be built two years after the final study is issued. Local governments in Utah downstream of the proposed pipeline on the Green River have expressed concern.

Federal team re-examines energy leases—Paul Foy, AP, SLT 7/28/09

A 12-member review team appointed by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has been reviewing 77 last-minute leases sold by the Bush administration and scrapped by Salazar in February.  Many of the sites reviewed were considered too likely to spoil wilderness quality views, but other reasons may prevail in the re-leasing of some of the parcels.  The team identified some parcels sufficiently hidden in landscape folds to warrant re-leasing, while others were likely to lose federal royalties altogether by adjacent parcel siphoning if not leased.  Leases next to existing fields and leases were deemed suitable for drilling.  Some were considered too remote or identified as “almost cliff faces”.  The team met each lease on the ground.  30 of the leases are expected to be suitable for sale.  Additional restrictions on night lighting that could be seen from nearby national parks or noise, or horizontal access drilling from nearby, could make other parcels lease-friendly.

Utah, Nevada nearing deal on Snake Valley aquifer—Brandon Loomis, SLT 7/28/09

The deal will split the Snake Valley aquifer, with joint jurisdiction in Utah and Nevada, paving the way for Southern Nevada Water Authority to channel its share 285 miles southwest to Las Vegas.  A draft agreement is expected by August or September.  The agreement struck with Utah Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will, according to its director, protect water users, wildlife and air quality in Utah.

Opposing environmentalists say the project west of Delta may dry up the valley around Great Basin National Park, short circuiting development and leaving the Wasatch Front prone to dust storms.  Wildlife in the Snake River valley and air quality are chief concerns in resisting the agreement.  White Pine County, Nevada residents have written to Utah’s governor requesting he delay any agreement pending Southern Nevada Water Authority’s required groundwater study as per the permitting process in 2011.  Utah’s deputy water engineer believes the results would not likely affect the agreement.

The DNR’s director believes that an agreement identifying and dividing each state’s water shares in the area will offer sufficient protection.  Otherwise, he said, “each state could be in a drilling war and the ultimate losers would be” Snake River Valley residents.  A draft agreement will be followed by public hearings in both states before finalization.  Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert, likely to fill the governor’s seat by that time, has already voiced support for the deal, though still reviewing information.

Environmentalists are calling for Herbert to block the deal with an e-mail and postcard campaign.  A Great Basin Water Network organizer said the process should be informed by the science, adding a delay would not harm the pipeline approval process in Nevada, which is yet 2 years away.

Hill AFB hopes to iron out pollution—Joseph M.  Dougherty, Deseret News 7/27/09

Touted as a “swords-into-plowshares” move, Hill Air Force Base is treating soil on the west side of the base with iron to address groundwater pollution.  The iron comes from dummy bombs that have been dropped at the Utah Test and Training Range.  Eight bore holes are being filled with grains of iron that should react with trichloroethene (TCE), a potential carcinogen seeping into groundwater since the 1940’s.

At that time, an oil and water separator in the rail yard discharged excess water toward now extant I-15 and the city of Sunset.  A base project manager spokesman said people weren’t aware of the impacts of dumping industrial wastewater on raw land at the time.  A plume of shallow groundwater from the base towards Sunset and Clinton has since become contaminated.  While the resource isn’t found in local drinking water, fumes from contamination have been emitted in area homes.

TCE and other contaminants in area groundwater and soils around the base resulted in Hill AFB being placed on the EPA’s National Priorities List as a Superfund site in 1987.  Restoration has been ongoing since 1990.  Tests using dummy bomb iron grains to neutralize TCE were successful, leading to the treatment.  TCE was used as a de-greaser on the base until the 1970’s.

The 56’ deep bore holes filled with iron grains should penetrate the groundwater plumes and neutralize the TCE by stripping chloride from it.  A special sonic drill was used by MWH to drill the holes so the surrounding soil remains permeable.  Environmental employees on the base will monitor effectiveness over 18 months and possibly add more holes across the 100 foot wide groundwater plume. If successful, the process could be adapted for use elsewhere.

Culture Vulture:  Companies find gold in going green—Sean P. Means, SLT 7/27/09

The recent Outdoor Retailer’s Summer Market trade show at the Salt Palace Convention Center notably resounded with environmentally friendly stories of products and companies.  Examples included t-shirts of 100% recycled polyester, products made of locavore materials within 125 miles of the production site, and knapsacks of recycled fibers and vinyl billboards.

The use of organic cotton, hemp, chlorine-free wool and recycled polyester was touted with the company’s support of a campaign to save wild bison near Yellowstone National Park.  In all, 83 companies were listed participating in the trade show’s “Green Steps” program, which illustrates the myriad ways from manufacturing to recycling that product manufacturers are eco-friendly.  The trade show itself featured soy-based ink ID tags and re-use of carpets from aisles.

A Simple Shoes sales manager noted that environmentally friendly marketing opens a company up to criticism, especially if the company is not perceived to be doing enough.  Simple’s sustainable wear includes sneakers with recycled car tire soles and a new line, Bio-D, that will have a rubber additive that accelerates biodegradation to 20 years.  Regular sneakers can take as much as 1,000 years to biodegrade, Means added.  Environmental friendliness is considered a marketing strategy that connects well emotionally with outdoor-loving consumers, the manager said.

Archaeology series show digs into Utah’s Range Creek—Mark Havnes, SLT 7/27/09

“Time Team America”, a PBS show that features high-tech archaeologists that parachute into sites around the country and demonstrate fieldwork during a 72 hour stay, recently filmed an episode at Range Creek.  The episode aired Wednesday on PBS.

One of the show’s archaeologists said in 30 years he had never seen anything like it.  The region, purchased by nonprofit Trust for Public Land in 2001 and now held by the state, has been described as “virtually undisturbed” since occupation by Fremont Indians a thousand years ago.  The show seeks to “educate people about the importance of our heritage,” archaeologist Eric Deetz said.  “The more educated people are, the easier it is to preserve our collective past.”

“The site has become legendary among my archaeology colleagues,” Deetz added, impressed by the number of sites in the canyon west of Price and their condition.  State Archaeologist Kevin Jones said excavation had just begun to discover the relics left there, investigating when the site was occupied, how many lived there, their activities and why they left.  About 400 areas have been identified and will receive further study.

Buried pit houses, granaries, pottery and petroglyphs and pictographs are regular artifacts at the site.  Its mint condition is due in part to 50 years of protection while a part of the Wilcox family ranch.  Utah’s Department of Natural Resources now manages the 4,200 acre region.  Radar and magnanometers were used by the show’s archaeologists to view the Big Village, an underground stone circle formation.

Garlic:  Eden farmer throws a festival to shine the spotlight on ‘the most beautiful plant’—Alicia Greenleigh, SLT 7/28/09

Eden, Utah garlic farmer Pete Rasmussen originally wanted a degree in marine biology, attracted to California’s dolphins, whales and sharks.  Now, however, the 26-year-old is realizing a dream favoring over 2 dozen types of garlic.  “Garlic is the most beautiful plant I’ve met in the garden,” Rasmussen says.  “Humans have a long history with it because it’s native to ancient Rome, China, Greece, Mesopotamia and Egypt.  It’s just amazing that all those different cultures recognized it to be a powerful medicine and they began to cultivate it, and from that grew all these hundreds of different varieties.”

Rasmussen is sponsoring the second Garlatica festival this weekend at Sandhill Farms, a four-acre spread outside of Eden, 20 miles east of Ogden, where visitors can sample garlic varieties.  The farm is named after sandhill cranes that frequent the area.  He shares the growth cycle of garlic, from cloves planted in fall to spring sprouts and harvest of mature bulbs nine months later.  A two week curing period after harvest matures flavors and colors.

Varieties Rasmussen raises include Siberian, Mango Sunrise and Muski, his favorite this season being Romanian Red.  Its plump cloves are covered in a white satin cover with a flavor he says is “invigoratingly hot.” Mainly hard-neck varieties, these northern states loving kinds withstand temperature swings and tend to have red or purple stripes.  Other vegetables are gardened and shopped in his Community Supported Agriculture program, reaching 50 subscribers at $200 a pop for the season.  Weekly delivery includes salad greens, herbs, garlic and a seasonal vegetable, like Yukon Gold potatoes.

His organic produce is also available at local farmer’s markets and Liberty Heights Fresh market, is served at Rooster’s Brewing Company in Ogden, Pago in Salt Lake City, and will be carried by Whole Foods in August.  Scott Evans, owner of Pago, says he tries to highlight fresh local product flavors.  Though more labor and planning is involved, Evans definitely favors buying from local farmers.

Rasmussen was born in Salt Lake City and raised in Port Townsend, Wa.  He’s farmed his parent’s land for five years, though as a kid he marketed home grown produce to neighbors.  His ambitions reach towards an ecological research farm, with community supported agriculture at the core.  These dreams suit his work in biological agriculture at UC Santa Cruz.

“It’s the most amazing mixture of science and intuition,” Rasmussen says.  “I have to assess the sunlight, water, plant growth, soil compound, and the more I learn from creating [an organic] productive farm, the more I start to realize how much there is to learn from plants.”


What’s Walmart’s “green” initiative really about—environment or dollars?—Ellen Flynn, Allentown Green Living Examiner 7/27/09–environment-or-dollars


Roundup Tuesday July 28, 2009

Obama:  Cooperation with China key to avoid ‘ravages’ of climate change—Keith Johnson, Environmental Capital blog, Wall Street Journal 7/27/09

President Obama, initiating the US-China summit in Washington today, focused squarely on energy and the environment.  “Will the need for energy breed competition and climate change, or will we build partnerships to produce clean power and protect our planet?”  With joint energy and global climate change projects already in the works, Mr. Obama continued to urge both countries to work together on clean energy and energy efficiency.  Johnson also said Mr. Obama addressed the concern that the US and China assure that the upcoming Copenhagen climate talks “don’t collapse into farce.”

Johnson emphasized another statement Obama made in the opening summit speech:  “And the best way to foster the innovation that can increase our security and prosperity is to keep our markets open to new ideas, new exchanges and new sources of energy.”  But Johnson was intent on the implications this statement may have for “carbon tariffs” in the Waxman-Markey bill, and the costs to ‘clean technology’ producers of sharing secrets in the name of fighting global climate change.

Uranium contamination haunts Navajo country—Dan Frosch, New York Times 7/26/09

A year ago, an environmental scientist came to Fred Slowman’s residence near Teec Nos Pos, Arizona and advised Slowman, his wife and two sons to move out until the home could be rebuilt.  The almost half-century old, one-story cinderblock structure had been contaminated potentially dangerous levels of cold-war era uranium.  Hundreds of uranium mines were developed across Navajo Nation lands during the cold-war uranium boom.

Navajos mined upwards of 4 million tons of uranium ore for producers in the Nation during the era, many dying from radiation-related illness, others unknowingly building homes from contaminated rocks and mine tailings.  Dozens of contaminated structures are still standing, experts believe, and a recently established government program is temporarily relocating families while the homes are torn down and re-built.

The new program evolved out of a 2007 Congressional hearing on the matter that initiated collaboration from a host of federal agencies addressing health and environmental impacts of uranium mining on the reservation.  The EPA and the Navajo Nation EPA set out to assess uranium levels in 500 structures by 2012.

The reservation contains 27,000 square miles of remote land in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.  Radium, which decays from uranium and can cause lung cancer, is the principal contaminant the assessments are surveying.  Only 113 structures have been inspected so far, but 27 of them contained above-normal radiation levels.  An EPA spokesman working with the assessment called the need to address these contaminated sites “somewhat urgent”.

Many of the homes had been vacated due to rumors of contamination, but 8 still have families living in them, and the EPA and Navajo officials are persuading residents to leave for the safety of their health.  Many families didn’t leave when word of contamination first surfaced because they didn’t believe anything was going to be done about the issue.  The reconstructed homes are based on the occupant’s interests and the EPA has typically commissioned a Navajo contracting company for the log cabin or traditional Hogan structures.  Each dwelling, including temporary relocation, has cost about $260,000 and the replacement has taken about 8 months apiece.  $50,000 has been offered to anyone not choosing to rebuild.

The EPA is also reviewing historic records of mining operations on the reservation and interviewing family members to determine whether any liability for damages is in order.

EPA, gas company settle in Utah case—Deseret News, 7/26/09

Colorado Interstate Gas Co. agreed this week to pay over $1 million in civil penalties and back fees and to install environmental controls facility on the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation in Vernal, the EPA said.  The EPA previously filed a complaint alleging the gas-pipeline company failed to obtain permits for the engines at the station and failed to test emissions sources.  Clean Air Act violations were uncovered during EPA inspections.

The improvements should reduce hazardous air emissions by 48,000 pounds per year and reduce nitrogen oxides by 313,000 pounds per year, EPA officials said.  A 30 day public comment period and approval by the federal court are required before the settlement is finalized.

Study shows too much noise affects diversity of birds—AP, San Antonio News 7/26/09

The University of Colorado study co-funded by the BLM found that many species can be driven away by noise, with potential ecosystem impacts.  The study, published online Thursday in Current Biology, compiles 3 years of data, and also found that some species thrived due to fewer predators.  The study area was south of Durango in pinon-juniper woodlands where natural gas field areas were compared with quieter areas.

The study’s lead author said it was “the first study to show that noise pollution causes changes in species interactions within bird communities.”  He added that noise pollution could be a major contributor to declining bird diversity around urban areas, suggesting quieter road surfaces and berms and sound-reducing walls should be used to protect the communities.

Most previous studies have been conducted near heavily used roads, outside of controlled environments.  In this experiment, energy companies worked with researchers turning off natural gas compressors for several hours a week while researchers located nests and determined nesting success.  32 species were identified in quiet areas, but only 21 species were found in noisy areas.  But 3 species nested exclusively at the noisy sites, though 14 nested exclusively in quieter ones.

Black-chinned hummingbirds and house finches were favored by 31% at noisy sites, less than 3% in quiet sites.  Researchers speculated that their high-frequency vocalizations allowed communication over industrial noise and absence of Western scrub jays which prey on eggs and young of songbirds also curried favor.  Scrub jays, more frequent in quieter areas, vocalize in the same frequency range as the gas compressors.  Because the jays also carry, eat and cache pine nuts across Southwest woodlands, researchers speculate that pinon distribution and density could be affected.

Mourning doves and black-headed grosbeaks are found to have vocal frequencies in the industrial noise range that could impair pairing, nesting and rival repelling communications.  All the grosbeaks and 97% of doves nested away from industrial noise.  Researchers are concerned with understanding the impacts especially on birds with critical links to ecosystems.

California sets pace for generating solar power—Felicity Barringer, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle 7/24/09

Research and lobby group Environment California notes 50,000 solar-panel installations in the state, a capacity of more than 500 megawatts of solar at peak periods of the day.  One third of that capacity was brought online between 2007 and 2008.  California’s solar capacity represents about 2/3 of the national total according to the nonprofit Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC).  Industry experts note that the states with the most generous subsidies are seeing the fastest growth.  California has long subsidized rooftop panels with rebates and other financial incentives.

New Jersey places second, with 70 megawatts of solar capacity, followed by Colorado and Nevada.  Beyond highly environmentally conscious areas like San Francisco and Sacramento, San Diego has more than 19 megawatts in 2,200 rooftop installations, San Jose boasts 15.4 megawatts on 1,330 rooftops, and Fresno 14.5 megawatts on 1,028 rooftops.

IREC noted too that California’s Central Valley, with sunny agriculture-friendly skies and hot summer days, is a good location for solar panels, which could cut down on heavy peak loads in afternoons due to air-conditioning.  Current statistics suggest that residential panels supply about 1/3 of the total panel-based input to the grid.  Installations on government buildings, retail stores, military installations and the like account for the other 2/3.  Led by Colorado, 10 states more than doubled rooftop solar capacity in 2008.  Still, the California Energy Commission reports that rooftop solar represents about ¼ of 1% of California’s total energy capacity.

Energy Inefficiency:  The Department of Energy fails another audit—Keith Johnson, Environmental Capital blog, Wall Street Journal 7/23/09

According to Johnson, the latest inspector general’s report results showed the DOE isn’t practicing rigorous energy conservation in its buildings.  Heating, ventilation and air conditioning costs due to conservation neglect may have amounted to over $11 million in additional costs.  Computer monitors left running in off hours may cost over $1 million per year.  The report acknowledged that some buildings didn’t have automated controls like those used in smart buildings.  Elsewhere, DOE workers didn’t know how to use installed controls.

EU mulls climate billions for developing countries— 7/27/09

EU environment ministers are considering immediate diversion of $1-2 billion for climate adaptation in low-income, vulnerable countries.  Commitment to funding between now and 2012 hopefully will encourage developing countries to in turn commit to terms of the developing international climate treaty, due to be finalized in December in Copenhagen.

The plan was forwarded in a joint report by the European Commission and the Swedish EU Presidency, which follows on the heels of Swedish Commission on Climate Change and Development findings in May.  Other initiatives suggested by the report include fulfilling an existing commitment by Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries calling for .7% of gross national income as official development aid (ODA). Current funding from member countries stands at .3%, and the report noted the increase would raise annual funding to poor countries from $180 to $280 billion by 2015.

ODA would fund climate adaptation for poorer countries in the short term, combining development aid and additional sources in the longer term.  NGOs have stated the .7% commitment was earmarked for Millennium Development Targets for poverty reduction.  The EU’s plan would incorporate climate change adaptation as well with the funds.

Continuing struggle over additional funding and control for climate change adaptation is expected within national governments and across the EU.  Britain’s prime minister proposed a $100 billion annual climate fund by 2020 last month.  The UK’s development aid would be capped at 10% of this total under the plan.  The Netherlands and Denmark agree that climate change adaptation funding should be added to the .7%.

An additional area of concern yet to be addressed is “the problem of double-counting offset credits earned from financing emissions cuts in developing countries.”  Environmentalists argue that credits toward developed country targets should not count a second time for financing emissions reductions in developing countries.

ESR editor’s note: According to its website, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ratified the original convention treaty December 14, 1960 with 20 countries, including the United States.  Ten additional countries have come aboard since.  In the “About” page, the OECD states as their mission the union of governments committed to democracy and the market economy from around the world to support sustainable economic growth, boost employment, raise living standards, maintain financial stability, assist with other countries’ economic development, and contribute to growth in world trade.  In addition, the OECD claims the organization is one of the world’s largest publishers in the fields of economics and public policy.

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development,3305,en_2649_201185_1_1_1_1_1,00.html

Consol gets OK to expand coal slurry dam in West Virginia—AP, SLT 7/27/09

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection recently issued a permit to Consol Energy for a proposed expansion of a coal slurry dam near Shinnston.  The Nolan Run impoundment currently holds 2 billion gallons of slurry left over from cleaning coal.  The expansion will increase the retention area to 3.275 billion gallons.  Construction will begin in 2010 and is expected to become necessary for expanded coal production by 2011.  Consol is the largest US underground coal producer, and has operations in West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Utah.

Student group wants to trap, spay and neuter cats—AP, SLT 7/27/09

Utah State University sponsored Aggie Cats has spent the last five years feeding, trapping, fixing vaccinating and releasing feral cats on the Utah campus wants to take the program abroad to Logan.  The city spends around $30,000 per year housing and euthanizing animals, the large majority of which are felines.  A recent Logan city proposal would require registration and licensing fees to help fund the program.  The city council is expected to review the matter in September.

Scientists study 2 ½-mile fissure in Iron County—AP, SLT 7/26/09

The Utah Geological Survey (UGS) study seeks answers on whether fissures such as the one near Enoch, Utah are increasingly present in Utah valleys.  The Central Iron County Water Conservancy District is co-funding the study with UGS.  The Enoch fissure is considered largely caused by excessive draw-down of the aquifer.  Experts attribute such fissures to groundwater mining and falling water tables.

The Enoch fissure could impact land values in neighboring subdivisions, and dates back 30 or more years.  The water conservancy district director said there were “significant water problems with that aquifer.”  Studies hope to determine how the fissure was created.  UGS encourages Utahns to report known fissures so they can be included in the study.

Wyoming wants more snowmobiles allowed in Yellowstone—Matthew Brown with Ben Neary, AP, SLT 7/25/09

The state has appealed to a federal judge for a ruling that would require Yellowstone National Park to set the daily snowmobile cap for the park at 740.  Thursday the Obama administration announced plans to set the cap at 318, less than half of Wyoming’s request.  The administration’s plan would also calls for all riders to enter the park with a guided tour.  The administration plan, an intermediary measure, would limit daily snowmobile use in the park for two years while a permanent rule is devised.  Reductions have also been proposed in Grand Teton National Park and along the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway in Wyoming, lowering snowmobile use from 140 to 50 per day across both locations.

Six congressional leaders from Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado and Utah have also requested the administration reconsider current plans.  A full ban proposal during the Clinton era led to daily snowmobile caps based on “competing court orders and power shifts in Washington.”  The current proposal is open for public comment for 45 days.  Last November a US district judge ordered the then-current 720 per day limit in Yellowstone pending permanent numbers agreed upon for all three parks.  The 720 per day cap, in place for years under the Bush administration, has yet to be approached by actual use, which saw a peak of 426 ‘biles and an average of 205 for the 2008-2009 season.

In Texas, drought means conserving every last drop—John Mcfarland, AP, SLT 7/25/09

Stringent watering regulations, patrols and encouraged neighbor reporting on a 24-hour hotline are some of the tactics currently in use in Dallas, in “the nation’s most drought-stricken state”.  350 miles of south-central Texas has been hardest hit.  Lakes, rivers and wells have dropped substantially, including the water supplies for Liberty Hill northwest of Austin.  230 public water systems are under mandatory restrictions, from San Antonio to Dallas, Austin to Houston.  60 have asked for voluntary cutbacks.

USDA statistics show 77 of 254 Texas counties are in extreme or exceptional drought, the worst categories.  No other state across the US has such extreme ratings, and a Texas A&M climatologist said he expects the intense conditions for at least another month.  The San Antonio-Austin region began seeing severe drought conditions in 2007.  Comparisons have been made to an extreme 1950s-era drought.  While the region usually sees about 12 days of 100 plus degree weather, this year has already seen 36.

Lakes Travis and Buchanan on the Colorado River near Austin supply drinking water to over a million people and are the source of a great deal of aquatic recreation.  The Lower Colorado river Authority has said feeder streams have all but dried up.  Travis is down 54%, with all but one of 12 boating ramps closed for lack of water access.  Old cars that were sunk in the waters now pose boating hazards.

San Antonio is surviving the driest 23 months on record since data first was recorded in 1885.  The Edwards Aquifer, its water source, sits at a precarious 640 feet deep.  Any lower and the harshest restrictions ever will be issued.  An El Nino system identified as developing in the Pacific Ocean may portend increased rainfall in Texas in the fall.

Recession drives Arch Coal’s earnings into the red—Mike Gorrell, SLT 7/24/09

The St. Louis-based company, Utah’s largest coal producer, saw a drop in annual sales from 34.4 million tons last year to 27.4 million tons this year.  The company reported a net loss of $15.1 million for the second quarter this year.  21.3 million tons of the second quarter’s coal was mined from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.  Skyline, Sufco and Dugout Canyon mines in Utah and the West Elk mine in Colorado produced only 3.5 million tons in the second quarter, down from 5.7 million tons a year ago.  2008 production numbers have not yet been released, but the Utah Geological Survey predicted the three Utah mines would produce 12 million tons, close to half the state’s combined production.  Steven Leer, CEO of Arch Coal, Inc., said the company hopes the fading recession will lead to more steel and power production.  The Sufco mine was awarded an environmental certificate of appreciation by USDA for support of wildlife programs in Sevier County-based national forest lands.

Endangered Green River fish will have enough water year-round—Mike Stark, AP, SLT 7/24/09

The new policy set to be signed Sept. 21 will prioritize four endangered species over any new requests for water below Flaming Gorge dam:  the humpback chub, the Colorado pikeminnow, the razorback sucker and the bonytail.  Current regulations already offer summer and fall protection for the fish between the dam and the confluence of the Duchesne and Green rivers in Carbon County.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledged in 1992 that flows from the dam were insufficient at times and likely endangering the four species.  The flow and temperature recommendations put in place then have been complemented by an updated data set that has informed the new year-round regulations.  According to a hydrologist for Fish and Wildlife, the policy creates “senior rights” for the fish that would be especially important in low-flow water years.   A public meeting will be hosted in Vernal to address the proposed changes.

Ancient mammal tracks found at Dinosaur Monument—Mike Stark, AP, Deseret News 7/24/09

Hundreds of ancient tracks left by small mammals have been found on a remote canyon wall in Dinosaur National Monument.  The tracks could date back 190 million years.  Park officials characterized the time when the tracks were laid down as one that marked the region with large sand dunes that rarely preserved signs of animal life.

The tracks were discovered July 8 by Dan Chure, the Monument’s resident paleontologist, and fellow paleontologist George Engelmann of the University of Nebraska while searching for Jurassic period artifacts and evidence.  Tracks are typically the size of a dime or smaller.  Some preserved as many as four toes.  Chure speculated that the mammals were possibly the size of a rat and endured between dunes where water and a few plants could be found.

Chure suspects the animals were nocturnal to escape the brutal daytime desert environment, and the tracks could have been preserved by a thin layer of moisture that crusted the host dune.  Chure noted no other site he knew of where so many prints had been found.  Larger tracks, possibly from small dinosaurs, were interspersed with the mammal tracks.  Englemann added that the era would have been at the beginning of the large dinosaur period.

Though the area where the tracks were found is open to the public, the exact location will not be disclosed.  The site will be mapped, the tracks counted and a cast that can be displayed at the visitor’s center will be made.  Chure said the new-found tracks predate bones at the site by 40-50 million years.

Interior proposes Yellowstone snowmobile cap—Matthew Brown, AP, SLT 7/23/09

Under the proposed changes, 318 snowmobiles and 78 multi-passenger coaches would be allowed daily in the park over the next two winters, down from 720 snowmobiles last winter, though actual use was less.  An upcoming 45-day public comment period will inform the final policy choice.  Under the Clinton administration, a full ban was proposed.

Under new standards, pollutant level could rise—Maria Villasenor, SLT 7/23/09

Of concern is whether two boiler heaters at the Holly Corporation oil refinery near West Bountiful will be emitting more pollutants.  The Utah Division of Air Quality (DAQ) and Holly both say no, though new standards are set to be approved by DAQ that would allow greater emissions to be made.  Some confusion is due to the fact that the two heaters have been replaced, and could emit less than the old heaters.  The heaters burn natural gas and gas byproducts from on-site refining.  Unfortunately, the EPA offered no performance tests and established no emissions limits on the old boilers.

A public comment period through Sept. 9 has been set up by the EPA regarding changes at the Holly refinery, and a public hearing is in the works.  A 2008 agreement established between the Holly refinery in Woods Cross and EPA holds Holly responsible for $17 million in upgrades, sparked by an EPA evaluation of Holly’s plants across the nation.  Daily and yearly combined emissions at the plant will not be raised.

The new burners were expected by the EPA to reduce nitrogen-oxides emissions, but upon testing, the emissions were greater than anticipated.  Still, Holly’s environmental manager said the emissions were less than that of the old burners.  Nevertheless, the proposal being heard by the EPA would allow a 39.9 ton increase of nitrogen-oxides emissions.  Improvements at the refinery are expected to continue through 2012.  Brian Moench of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, in response to a review of the permitting document, said he hoped “the changes aren’t an attempt to finagle a future increase in emissions, since studies “clearly suggest the levels of air pollution we already have are a medical concern,” according to Villasenor.

View the proposed changes at the Holly refinery and comment:

Boulder sees 3 bear break-ins in 4 days—Laura Snider, The Camera, The Denver Post 7/27/09

Boulder County, Colorado saw three incidents where bears entered homes through open window panes over the past four days.  The bears forced off the window screens and climbed in.  One of the break-ins was the second intrusion into the home in a week.  Another was met with three shotgun rounds by the homeowner.  Colorado Division of Wildlife deputies finished off the wounded bear.  Residents were home in each of the incidents.

“The sheriff’s office recommends that mountain residents remove all food from around their houses, including pet food; keep garbage cans inside until the trash is scheduled to be picked up; tightly cover compost; clean barbecue grills; and close all doors and windows within eight feet of the ground.”


Debate over proposed GSL project is democracy in action—Robert Adler, James I. Farr Chair and professor, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, SLT 7/25/09

Pollutants linked to diabetes and obesityBrian Moench, Salt Lake physician and co-founder of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, SLT 7/25/09

Green gearheads?  Go ahead and rev it up!—Ray Ring, Writers on the Range, SLT 7/25/09

Park pollutant:  Reduce threat from ammonium—Tribune Editorial, SLT 7/24/09

Waiting for the low carbon revolution—Andrew Pendleton, senior research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research, a UK-based think-tank, The Green Room, BBC News 7/21/09

What is the Global Climate Network?—David Hoza, ESR editor 7/27/09

GCN Website:

The Global Climate Network (GCN) is a consortium of institutes and think tanks formed officially in July 2008 from Brazil, China, Germany, India, Nigeria, Australia, the US and UK.  Led by the UK’s Institute for Public Policy Research, the GCN addresses such issues as:  “How can the dangerous deadlock at the heart of international climate change negotiations be broken?  What policies are needed at the national level in the world’s leading economies to clear the way for a new climate change accord?  How can legislators ensure that policies are fair and that the costs of addressing climate change do not fall to those least able to pay?”

According to the Center for American Progress, a US think tank and member of GCN, the first document produced by the GCN was a paper presented in mid-December 2008 at the UN climate change meeting in Poznan, Poland titled “Closing the Mitigation Gap”.  Tilman Santarius of member partner the Wuppertal Institute of Germany said the paper addressed the issue of “how to frame a shared vision to avoid climate change which is also equitable and fair.

The network’s mission is “to conduct and publish joint research and analysis which addresses political and policy constraints to international action on climate change.”  Their approach is primarily to “reframe the debate in order to promote action on climate change as a means of enhancing economic and social wellbeing and improving quality of life.”  In the network’s “About” page, they say the network “will help construct a narrative for action on climate change that is concerned with human and economic as well as environmental wellbeing.”  This perspective has received elaborate attention in Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger’s 2007 work Breakthrough.

The Global Climate Network believes that its research, along with each think tank’s authority and credibility with their home government’s decision makers, lends unequivocal potential to the Network’s ability to provide sound information and advice on climate change and adaptation policy worldwide.  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change chair Dr. Rajendra Pachauri is one of several patrons assisting in promotion of GCN’s work.

Roundup Friday July 24, 2009

New York study says mother’s exposure to air pollution may harm child’s intelligence—Staff reports, The Oregonian 7/22/09

The report focuses on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) found in urban air and produced by burning coal, diesel, oil and gas, and organic substances such as tobacco.  Motor vehicles are considered a major source of PAHs.  The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health, along with the US EPA and a number of private foundations funded the study.

Children exposed to high levels of PAHs in New York City tested 4.31 and 4.67 points lower respectively on full scale and verbal IQ scores than less exposed children.  The study called the four point difference “educationally meaningful in terms of school success”, according to Oregonian staff.  This is the first such study to report an association between PAH exposure and IQ.

Scientists from the Columbia University Center for Children’s Environmental Health used children born to non-smoking black and Dominican-American women aged 18 to 35 from Washington Heights, Harlem and the South Bronx in New York.  The study began during the women’s pregnancies and continued for 5 years.  Personal air monitors measured PAH exposure during pregnancy.  The 249 children were tested with the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of the Intelligence at age 5.  The test is considered well validated, reliable and sensitive in assessing intelligence.

Models for the associations between prenatal PAH exposure and IQ accounted for second-hand smoke exposure, lead, the mother’s education and quality of caretaking environment.  Lead study author Frederica P. Perera said the decrease in IQ score among exposed children paralleled that found in low-level lead exposure.  Perera added that “IQ is an important predictor of future academic performance, and PAHs are widespread in urban environments” worldwide.  “Fortunately, airborne PAH concentrations can be reduced through currently available controls, alternative energy sources and policy interventions.”

Tribes ask governor to thwart train station on archaeological site—Brandon Loomis, SLT 7/22/09

Seven tribes petitioned lawmakers to protect the ancient Native American village site from proposed UTA train station development in Draper.  The rare joint resolution issued by the state’s tribal leaders decried the state’s dismissal of Native rights and historically significant sites.

The proposed FrontRunner station plan was accepted by the Utah Legislature after original plans in 2000 for a perpetual conservation easement were sidetracked.  The easement was set to go into effect, but at the request of then-House speaker Greg Curtis, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) delayed signing over the property into easement status in 2008.  Curtis at the time legally represented a potential purchaser for the land who eventually backed out.

The DNR’s present course is to trade the property with an adjacent private land owner so the station can be built, though not the only alternative.  A UTA spokesman identified the site as preferred, but said UTA was open to discussions.  The spokesman also said they had reached out to tribes.

Lieutenant Governor George Herbert asked the tribes to hold off on their press conference until he could arrange a meeting between all stakeholders, but tribal leaders said the issue was too important to wait.  The site dates back some 3,000 years, and may contain the earliest known corn farming in the Great Basin.  A spokesman for Herbert said “He certainly has no desire to see the disruption of culturally significant archaeological items and intends to bring together all interested parties soon.”  One former and one current board member with identified conflicts said they would recuse themselves from property discussions.

International company Monsanto wants tighter mercury rules in Idaho—Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman 7/22/09

International agrichemical conglomerate Monsanto in a quick reversal has teamed up with the Idaho Conservation League in petitioning the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to regulate mercury emissions for organizations such as Monsanto.  As recently as February, Monsanto had been fighting to keep the Idaho DEQ from setting and administering rules.

Monsanto is leading the way among Idaho’s industries in attempting to develop mercury emission regulation, though no other industry would be affected unless new facilities opened that emitted “hundreds of pounds of mercury”.  Proposed earlier rules rejected by the DEQ would have encouraged industries to voluntarily install best-available technology for removing mercury.  The new rules backed by Monsanto would require the same installed technology, but for different reasons.

Under previous proposed recommendations, the target was reducing mercury in nearby lakes and streams.  Monsanto recruited expert witness Steve Lindberg, a retired environmental chemist from Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, who said it was unlikely scientists could link emissions from large local industries to nearby mercury levels in fish and reservoirs.  A P4 phosphate plant owned by Monsanto in Southeast Idaho is reportedly Idaho’s largest source of mercury, which has been linked to accumulation in fish and brain damage and learning disabilities in children.

Lindberg testified that regulations should be set to limit overall mercury pollution, targeting new plants.  Current standards are set as high as 100,000 pounds, detrimental according to experts to aquatic systems, though aimed at protecting workers and plant neighbors from excessive mercury inhalation.  Monsanto’s P4 plant emits between 600-700 pounds.  “Sound regulation based on good science is the right thing for Monsanto,” McCullough said.

Idaho Conservation League’s Justin Hayes said P4 manager Bruce Pallante won him over to the idea that “Monsanto is in this for the right reasons.”  Other industries of the Idaho Association of Commerce and the Idaho Council for Industry and Environment aren’t so sure.  Meetings are underway to discuss whether other industries would abide by the agreement.  Monsanto could reach a separate deal with the state, but argued that this would allow new industrial development in Idaho without regulation.

The Idaho Conservation League successfully prevented Potlatch in 2008 from utilizing a new process that would have increased its mercury emissions.  And Idaho industry is notably anti-regulation.  Hayes said Monsanto is “breaking from the herd mentality”, but Monsanto reportedly has a new phosphate mine in eastern Idaho, and must convince local, state and federal officials that the mine won’t “leave a legacy of pollution”.

Monsanto’s Idaho environmental manager, Trent Clark—also current chairman of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry—pointed out that mercury emissions weren’t tied to the mine, but leading the way for new mercury emission regulations would go beyond Idaho’s borders.  “[T]he new arena in the world of international competitiveness is sustainability,” Clark added.

CU study warns of scarce water—Bruce Finley, The Denver Post 7/22/09

A recent University of Colorado (CU) study, which included National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Bureau of Reclamation researchers, predicts that all Colorado River reservoirs “could dry up by 2057 because of climate change and overuse.”

The predictions are based on a 10% reduction of flow.  10% reduction in flow could increase likelihood of depletion to 25%, and a 20% flow reduction due to global warming could raise the chance of depletion to 50%, according to the study.

Balaji Rajagopalan, lead author of the study and a civil environmental and architectural engineering professor at CU, said the short term risk was low.  The study will be published by the American Geophysical Union.  Rajagopalan asserted, however, that much greater risk occurs if nothing is done, to the point that even drastic measures like eliminating users from the water source would not prevent failure.

The research responded to a 2008 University of California study that found a “one-in-two chance that overuse and warming” could see depletion by 2021.  The spark for these studies has been an extensive 10 year drought that has affected end-users in California and elsewhere.

Denver Water authorities have rejected the findings.  According to David Little, director of planning for Denver Water, other studies suggest the upper Colorado River Basin will become wetter.   Little’s belief is that if lower basin reservoirs Powell and Mead dry up, lower basin users will migrate to water-rich towns like Denver.

60 million acre-feet of water has been captured by dozens of Colorado River dams, four times the river’s annual flow. But recent droughts in the Southwest have seen drops to less than half full, though current storage is at 59% of capacity.

The study emphasizes the need for “adaptive management” policies, ones that collaborate across the basin stakeholders to reduce lower river use and increase efficiency.

Anti-Chevron campaign punishes community—Open Forum letter from Mike Coyle, General Manager of Chevron’s Richmond refinery, San Francisco Chronicle 7/22/09

According to Mike Coyle, General Manager for Chevron’s Richmond refinery, the refinery has been stymied in its four-year attempt to upgrade the refinery with newer, cleaner technology, energy efficiency upgrades, and emissions reductions with no heavier crude oil processed.  The process has been blocked by a lawsuit filed by Communities for a Better Environment, West Contra Costa Toxics Coalition and Asia Pacific Network.  Coyle made little mention of the plaintiffs’ argument in the lawsuit.

Coyle dismissed the claim opponents have made that the upgrade will extend oil processing from current medium and light crude oils to heavier crude.  The Chevron refinery general manager was quick to point out that an “extensive multiyear environmental review of the project was conducted by experts hired by the city and with oversight from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District—the agency charged with safeguarding regional air quality.”  According to Coyle, the findings affirmed that reduced emissions and improved air quality in Richmond and the greater Bay Area was predicted, with the refinery bound to meet air district emission limits.

The lawsuit, which halted upgrade construction, according to Coyle has resulted in 1,300 construction worker layoffs for a total of 2,000 jobs unfilled.  $61 million slated for Richmond’s community and environment also has been terminated by the lawsuit, though $565,000 already committed to 19 Richmond-area groups was exchanged.

While Chevron is appealing the decision, Coyle pointed out Chevron’s presence in California for 130 years and Richmond since 1902, before the city was chartered.  He noted that Chevron was the city’s largest employer and taxpayer, with taxes helping to “fund critical local government programs and services.”  Additionally, Coyle said, Chevron contributed $20 million to California state community programs, with employees volunteering over 16,000 hours and donating more than $4 million to nonprofits.  Referring to a Milken Institute study, Coyle said Chevron generated better than $9 billion in economic activity in 2007 and mentioned over $1 billion in supplies had been purchased between 2007 and 2008 from “California minority and women-owned businesses.”

US scraps Bush plan on logging Northwest—Matthew Preusch, The Oregonian 7/17/09

The Bush-era Western Oregon Plan Revisions, or WOPR, would have quadrupled logging on millions of western Oregon acres.  Salmon, owls and other high profile and endangered animals that were at risk benefit while rural counties and jobs will suffer.  The Obama administration called the plan “illegal and politically motivated.”

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Thursday that Oregon forests would return to mid-1990’s rules from the Clinton administration.  Those rules heightened spotted owl protection and lowered timber cutting.  No sales were completed under the Bush-era plan, which was pushed through in December of last year.  Salazar said the plan would not hold up in court.

Douglas County, encompassing a fifth of the BLM-held lands in question, has been noted for its timber industry boom and bust cycles.  Current unemployment stands at 18.3%.  Almost 1 in 10 jobs in the county are linked to lumber and wood industries.  The state employment department reported as well that only about 1 job in 50 was linked to timber statewide.

The Clinton era Northwest Forest Plan, put into place in 1994, intervened in a fierce battle between timber advocates and environmental protections favoring the northern spotted owl.  The plan intended to protect logging as well as old-growth forests and the owl, but timber cutting did not reach expected levels.  The northern spotted owl continues to decline at about 4% per year, partially due to barred owl competition.  Subsidies authorized by congress fills in the gap for timber sales, but are set to expire in 2011.

The question of what plan the region will adopt goes beyond avoidance of litigation and gridlock, economy or the environment, to stakeholders such as tourism and commercial fishing that depend on healthy habitats.  Unsustainable logging has been linked to serious salmon declines in the region.  Salazar has announced he will quickly implement timber sales under the re-activated Northwest Forest Plan to aid economically stressed communities in the region that could benefit.

Collaborative restoration projects between industry and conservation groups are likely to move ahead.  These, such as “regeneration harvest” sales, would replace mature trees with rapid-growing young trees, but a spokesperson for the conservation group Oregon Wild said that was code for clear-cutting.  Such practices could drive further conflict over forest management.  Oregon Wild’s spokesman said “For the next several decades BLM should focus on noncontroversial thinning of dense, young stands that were previously clear-cut.”

Navajo Nation to go after ‘green jobs’—SLT 7/22/09

Navajo Nation Council legislation recently created the Navajo Green Economy Commission, which will set up an infrastructure for capturing federal green jobs monies for small scale community projects.

Report surveys Four Corners air quality—Susan Montoya Bryan, AP, SLT 7/22/09

The study finds that if emissions from coal-fired power plants and gas operations in the Four Corners area are reduced, lower ozone pollution levels would occur.  The New Mexico Environment Department’s study is part of an attempt to inventory pollution sources and cultivate strategies for managing air quality in the region long-term.  At stake is the ability to continue meeting federal air quality standards.

Power plants and oil and gas operations were found to be the main contributors of air pollution in the area.  Northwestern New Mexico has been on the verge of exceeding federal standards, though this year’s ozone levels have been exceptionally low, likely due to cooler, moist weather.  Less industrial activity in the area may also be lowering levels.  Alternatives for lowering emissions have focused both on lowering power plant emissions as well as oil and gas well site equipment emissions.

Study calculates warming threat to Colorado River—AP, SLT, 7/22/09

This paragraph-sized overview of findings is covered in detail by The Denver Post above.

Leaving the garden behind—Maggie Wolf, SLT 7/21/09

Wolf offers checklists to prepare gardens for time away, and a stress-free return.  She includes some garden vacation destinations and hyperlinks as well.

City plows beneath Indian site for Sam’s Club—Jay Reeves, AP, SLT, 7/21/09

In Oxford Alabama, a 200-foot rise topped by a stone mound and considered a likely religious site for Indians of the Woodlands circa 1000 A.D. is being used by the city to provide fill dirt for the superstore.  A city-commissioned study found tribal artifacts in the red clay of the mound, but Mayor Leon Smith dismissed the damage as unimportant, calling the site in Oxford “the ugliest old hill in the world.

The rock mound atop the hill has not yet been damaged, but the sides of the hill have been stripped and the soil trucked down to new development to provide foundation soil.  A spokesperson for the Alabama Historical Commission said the state lacked the power to stop digging, and petitions and protests have failed.  The mayor and other pro-development city officials want to see the hill, after the top is removed, turned into motel- or restaurant-based development.

Similar mounds have been identified all along the Eastern Seaboard, and preserved mounds exist in places such as Montague, Mass. and North Smithfield, R.I.  A historian and member of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in Alabama said the site was sacred.  He also chairs culture and heritage for the United South and Eastern Tribes.

The city bought the hill years ago with the intention of developing the land.  A $60,000 University of Alabama study found a few pottery shards and identified the mound as a likely late Woodlands Indians period construct.  No burial sites were identified, leaving the mayor with the sentiment “It’s just a pile of rocks is all it is”.  Another site about ½ mile away has been protected by the city.

Water experts:  Mining near Grand Canyon is risky—Joan Lowy, AP, SLT 7/21/09

The testimony comes as the parks subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee considers a bill by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) that would permanently eliminate the filing of new mining claims on 1.1 million acres of federal lands north and south of the Grand Canyon.  David Kreamer, a professor and researcher from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas who has studied springs in Grand Canyon for 25 years, found uranium levels three times greater than the EPA’s recommended tolerances for canyon creeks. He attributes the toxic levels to mining from over a decade ago.

“I believe that an assumption that uranium mining will have minimal impact on springs, people and ecosystems in the Grand Canyon is unreasonable and is not supported by past investigations, research or data,” Kreamer testified.  Madan Singh, who directs the Arizona Department of Mines and Minerals, attributed the toxic uranium levels to natural erosion.  Former Atomic Energy Agency Geologist Karen Wenrich testified that current mining practices are much better, and the industry should be allowed to mine.

The questions raised by Kreamer’s research expanded to consider what might happen if a mining disaster should occur.  Kay Brothers, deputy general manager for Southern Nevada Water Authority, said the Colorado River supplies almost all their potable water.  Her concern is that a disaster would render the water supply unusable.

With uranium at $55 per pound, renewed interest in staking and developing claims, especially in the Arizona Strip where high grade ore sits just north of the Grand Canyon, has increased.  If the bill passes, new claims would be prohibited.  10,000 existing hardrock claims of all varieties would not be affected.  That figure includes 1,100 uranium claims lying within a five mile perimeter of the canyon.  Uranium mining in the area has been dormant for 20 years.

Planes ‘should fly on biofuels’—BBC News 7/22/09

The EU right-of-center think tank Policy Exchange was reported to say the EU should fund research into biofuels for cutting aviation CO emissions.  “A crop area the size of the USA would be needed to biofuel all the worlds cars, and alternatives, such as electricity, exist for them”, the think tank said.  Formerly, the think tank has advised the UK spend annual biofuel subsidies on halting the destruction of forests and peatland.

The UK is funding a research center to find viable alternatives to fossil fuels, and reports 25% of GHGs come from transport.  The UK also introduced a “Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation” law requiring 2.5% of all fuels sold to contain 2.5% biofuel last year, a downward revision from original 5% stipulations.  Another stipulation requiring 10% of transport fuel come from crops was changed to allow for any renewable source.

Virgin Atlantic and other airlines have tested flights with up to 20% biofuel, and Policy Exchange noted that aircraft currently have no other alternatives for reducing GHGs.  Environmental groups including Friends of the Earth noted that biofuel production has increased rainforest and peatland destruction and removed agriculture from much needed food production, creating greater rather than lesser GHGs and driving a worldwide food shortage.

Feds:  Eliminate or re-route Logan’s killer canal—Nate Carlisle with Brooke Adams, SLT 7/22/09

USDA engineers have proposed re-routing water from the long troubled Logan Northern Canal north to the Smithfield Canal.  An alternative would be to pipe the water along Canyon Road in The Island neighborhood.  The section of Logan Northern Canal that has run above the neighborhood on a slide-prone hillside will be permanently closed.  Costs of the re-routing for either plan could begin at $17.2 million.  The Smithfield Canal alternative would require major upgrades to that canal, doubling its carrying capacity.  A board member for Smithfield Canal was unsure if the upgrades could even be done.  The looming question is who will pay for the upgrade and changes.  Other cities could contribute, owing to their stake in using canals to route storm runoff.  The USDA analysis was funded, according to Trib reporters, by a $400,000 stipend garnered by Sen. Bob Bennett, R-UT last week.

Trail closure expands as Zion fire grows—Mark Havnes, SLT 7/21/09

The Horse Fire in Zion National Park was 25% contained as of Monday, and had burned 900 acres.  Fire crews are utilizing a new protocol that combines suppression with allowing controlled burning to benefit the ecosystem.  The lightning-induced fire resulted in closure of the West Rim Trail, part of new designated wilderness under the recent Washington County lands bill, from Lava Point to the junction with the Telephone Canyon Trail.  Imlay Canyon was also closed.


Great Old Broads mark 20 years of hiking, advocacy—Andrew Gulliford, Writers on the Range, SLT 7/23/09

Does “Clean Coal” Add Up?  Let’s See.—Bradford Plummer, The New Republic 7/22/09

Roundup Tuesday July 21, 2009

A 12-member federal team is inspecting drilling parcels in Utah—Paul Foy, AP, SLT 7/19/09

An on-the-ground review of leases auctioned by the Bush Administration has been launched in keeping with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s promise for a “fresh look” after 77 leases were rescinded in February.  The 12-member review team is headed by Mark Stiles, supervisor of Colorado’s San Juan National Forest.  BLM specialists in air quality, wilderness and landscapes from outside Utah also will preside.

The review team began last Thursday and will continue into next week reviewing the disputed 77 parcels.  Interior Chief Deputy David Hayes said 30 of the 77 leases could prove suitable for sale due to proximity to operating gas wells.  The review comes after months of volleys between environmental and wilderness protection groups and development-minded individuals, organizations and legislators stemming from the December 19, 2008 Utah oil and gas lease sale that put parcels close to Dinosaur National Monument, Arches and Canyonlands national parks and other wilderness quality areas up for sale.  The sale was confounded by University of Utah student Tim DeChristopher.

Retail titan Wal-Mart launches ‘sustainability index’—Agence France-Presse, 7/17/09

Wal-Mart announced its plans Thursday to develop the database, putting information about products’ sustainability on the web.  The sustainability index could inform on how environmentally friendly suppliers, manufacturers and products are, incorporating garment labels and barcodes into the retrieval process.  The announcement was made by Wal-Mart executives to a webcast gathering of suppliers.

The index would come together in three phases.  The first phase would survey Wal-Mart’s 100,000-plus suppliers, how they operate, where each product is made, and what goes into the product.  Thursday marked the introduction to US manufacturers of the 15-point survey.  Included are greenhouse-gas emissions questions, location of factories, water use, solid waste disposal and other significant sustainable consumer questions.

The second phase will bring together a consortium of universities that will work with suppliers, retailers, NGOs and governments to develop the database.  Wal-Mart is seeking a technology company for creating an open platform to power the index.  The corporation has pledged funds to launch the index, but the goal is not to create or own the index.  “We want to spur the development of a common database that will allow the consortium to collect and analyze the knowledge of the global supply chain,” Wal-Mart chief executive Mike Duke said.

The final step would be a fully developed index accessible by consumers.  Another executive for Wal-Mart said the index in its final form was several years away.  A multi-application handheld device could be pointed at a product online or in stores to get information at a click.  Included information for a t-shirt, for example, might be how much cotton was used, ‘product miles’ consumed to get the shirt into the store, and other green leaning considerations.  Chief merchandising officer John Fleming said these considerations would be especially important to future generations of consumers who care deeply about the environment and sustainability.

Senate Minority Report on global warming not credible, says Center for Inquiry—Stuart Jordan, Thomas O’Brien, 7/20/09

ESR Editor’s Note:

Dr. Stuart Jordan is a retired (emeritus) senior staff scientist from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, formerly heading the solar physics branch.  He is currently science advisor to the Center for Inquiry Office of Public Policy.  Thomas O’Brien is production editor of the Astrophysical Journal for the Institute of Physics (UK).  The Center for Inquiry states that its mission is to “oppose and supplant the mythological narratives of the past and the dogma of the present”, with an institution “devoted to promoting science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values”.

Though the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Science Report issued in 2007 has settled the question of global warming proof for many legislators, doubts concerning climate change science remain on the conservative side of the Senate aisle.  The recent United States Senate Minority Report on Global Warming utilizes almost 700 individuals with implied scientific credentials as evidence that measures to address climate change are premature, and further research on the cause of global warming is needed.

The Center for Inquiry’s Office of Public Policy has examined the Senate Minority Report, citing the argument that if the report is scientifically credible, it would have significant implications for climate change policy.  Jordan and O’Brien say global warming has been established “beyond all doubt by observations carefully analyzed by a large and competent climate science community.”  They go on to say that climate scientists have identified anthropogenically generated greenhouse gasses as the “the only plausible major contributor to global warming.”  This was outlined in the IPCC-2007 Science Report.

Some skeptics or contrarians claim the relatively cool period since 2005 casts global warming in doubt, though climate change models did predict the cooling period.  These same models predict a sharp warming trend in the next few years.  Other arguments consider for instance that the sun is responsible for global warming, though observational tests have failed to support this theory.  The authors conclude that “the harmful effect of anthropogenic greenhouse gas is confirmed by an enormous database by all major climate models worldwide.”

The Senate Minority Report lists 687 individuals with purported climate science credentials as skeptics of the scientific consensus on global warming, the authors said.  The credibility of the report was assessed “primarily by determining what fraction of these individuals could reasonably be considered to be active climate scientists” or working in related fields.  The litmus test is whether these individuals publish articles on subjects related to climate science in peer-reviewed journals.  Additional criteria included attempts to determine the professional fields of the skeptic scientists, and degrees received.  The data set used can be found at

The results of the assessment found only 10% of the 687 individuals could be identified definitively as climate change scientists.  Only 15% could be identified as publishing in fields related to climate science.  For 80% of these individuals, no evidence was found that they had published research remotely related to climate science.  Meteorologists—the largest professional field found—often had no publications in refereed scientific publications and were mere weather forecasters.  Almost 4% have made statements suggesting they accept the scientific community’s consensus view that global warming is occurring and that greenhouse gases appear to be a significant cause.

A more appropriate comparison then might be 137 scientists who might have published on topics directly related to climate science versus the approximately 2,000 scientists whose work is summarized in the IPCC-2007 Science Report.  While the Center for Inquiry’s analysis of the Senate Minority Report is not finished, they conclude: 1)  it is highly unlikely that a growing fraction of top climate scientists are becoming increasingly skeptical of the human causation of global warming;  2)  The report does include names of some outstanding scientists, including at least one distinguished meteorologist, however the much larger number of outstanding climate scientists identify where the general consensus lies; 3)  Without hard evidence substantiating other climate change theories, it is highly unlikely that man-made greenhouse gasses do not play a significant and major role in global warming.  The document may misrepresent the state of the global scientific effort to address global warming.

Interior halting uranium mining at Grand Canyon—Joan Lowy, Felicia Fonseca, AP, SLT 7/20/09

The Interior Department will temporarily bar the filing of new mining claims including uranium claims on nearly 1 million acres near the Grand Canyon.  The department has set the land aside for two years to study the possibility of permanent withdrawal.  633,547 acres are under control of the BLM, and 360,000 acres are under the Kaibab National Forest.  Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said the study would “gather the best science and input from the public, members of Congress, tribes and stakeholders” to evaluate whether the lands should be withdrawn for a longer length of time.  Uranium claims already filed won’t be affected, due to stipulations stemming from the General Mining Act of 1872, though Congress could appropriate money to buy the claims.

US Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-AZ, has sponsored a bill that would set aside more than 1 million acres of federal lands north and south of the canyon.  The Interior announcement is intended in part to offer protection while the bill proceeds.  Vice President Luke Popovich of the National Mining Association objected, saying “current laws and regulations are effective for protecting the environment from mining activity,” the AP writers said.  Popovich also criticized the decision in light of the near 10% jobless rate.  A spokesperson for the Pew Environment Group said the decision was indicative of the Obama Administration’s commitment to protecting the public interest where managing America’s natural resources were concerned.

While uranium mining has been dormant for 20 years, current $55 per pound prices and rising interest in nuclear power has re-fueled the industry’s interest.  The Arizona Strip, just north of the Grand Canyon, is known for high-grade uranium ore.  Toronto-based Denison Mines Corp. is preparing to mine a site 20 miles north of the park’s border provided Arizona OKs an air permit.

While Arizona’s Republican senators have said sufficient protections are in place, Grijalva’s bill would minimize environmental damage that new operations could pose, while old sites have yet to be cleaned up.  Up to 10,000 claims already exist on BLM and US Forest Service lands near the Grand Canyon for a variety of hardrock extraction.  1,100 uranium claims are within 5 miles of the park.

Feds affirm drilling near Utah ruins, Golden Spike—AP, SLT 7/20/09

The Interior Board of Land Appeals has ruled that federal officials set appropriate safeguards for drilling near cliff houses, pit houses and cave sites with numerous artifacts in the Monticello area, and around Golden Spike National Historic Park in northern Utah.  The ruling rejects an appeal filed by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance after a November 2006 lease auction.

Canyonlands, Yellowstone among 16 parks threatened by ammonium—Mike Stark, AP, SLT 7/20/09

The airborne substance is known for the slow triggering of changes in plants and animals, and has been found in increasing quantities primarily across parks in the Western US.  Air quality data shows a significant worsening trend for parks including Yellowstone, Mount Rainier and Canyonlands.  Ammonium is linked to fertilizers, agricultural operations and urban pollution, and is rich in nitrogen, which can fuel growth and affect soil and water chemistry.  Sources of the increased ammonium have not been identified, though the chemical agent is carried in rain and snow.

Landslide potential near Cedar City worries geologists—Mark Havnes, SLT 7/19/09

Cedar Mountain, overlooking Cedar valley and beyond, is home to current and future residential development threatened by recent and potential slides.  A geologist for the Utah Geological Survey pointed to shale and clay soils under the mountainside making it vulnerable to slides, adding that seeping water into vertical fractures creates additional issues.  A 2-inch shift 100 feet below the surface could be enough to create a large slide.  Climate change, causing more precipitation on the mountain, as well as septic tank installations, could be over-saturating the mountain, the spokesman said.

A meeting on the slide potential of the mountain was held recently to alert the public.  William Lund, a senior geologist with the Utah Geological Survey, with two other geologists voiced concerns, including the need for extensive studies before further development is made.  If development does proceed, it should do so only after stability is thoroughly assessed and a plan has been made that does not compromise stability, he added.  Lund compared the mountain to the conditions causing the Thistle slide in Utah County in 1983, which created a new lake.

The county planning commission has put further development on hold until studies are done to identify potential geologic hazards.  The developer is conducting further studies, though an earlier study done by GEM Engineering identified the slide as “dormant”.  An engineer with the consulting firm said every building site was different.

Law professor building Native American program—Jessie L. Bonner, AP, SLT 7/18/09

Angelique EagleWoman, a Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate or Sioux of the Lake Traverse Reservation in South Dakota, has recently built a program focusing on Native American law—nationally underrepresented—at the University of Idaho.  Only a few Native American law programs exist nationwide, with but three states—Washington, New Mexico and South Dakota—offering Native American law as a subject on the bar exam.  Her efforts at University of Idaho, built on aboriginal homelands of the Nez Perce Tribe, also include recruiting more Native American Students.

The area of Native American law is according to experts often misunderstood and at times ignored, leaving Native Americans flailing while trying to negotiate the courts system.  Heather Dawn Thompson of the National Native American Bar Association said 35 states have sovereign, independent tribal nations, which makes it incumbent for lawyers to know the basics of Indian law in those states.  “Alaska has over 200 tribes and it’s not on the bar exam,” Thompson added.  California, home to over 100 tribes, and Oklahoma too has no provision on the bar exam.

Native American lawyers have been few and far between since the 1970s for helping tribal lawyers settle legal matters.  Non-Native attorneys with little or no experience in Indian affairs and law have been problematic at best.  At stake is a professional legal understanding of tribal as well as state and federal law, since all three are in effect and subject to influence decisions in states with Native residents.  One example of the critical nature of Native American legal understanding would be where a mother dies leaving behind an underage child.  Custody usually goes to the father in state proceedings, but in tribal law, underwritten by the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, the mother’s sisters may be the rightful custodians, especially if the child is a girl.

Invasive mussels imperil western water system—Felicia Fonseca, AP, SLT 7/18/09

Numbers of the invasive mussels first discovered at Lake Mead two years ago have exponentially grown to the trillions.  The quagga mussels are expected by scientists to spread throughout the West’s reservoir and river system.  California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah water agencies and wildlife managers are waging an aggressive campaign that includes mandatory decontamination or quarantine of boats and chlorinating some water inlets, though eradication in the Great Lakes region formerly has been nearly impossible.

The mollusks are thumb-sized, attach to almost anything, and clog drains and pipes, freeze up cooling systems, kill off native species and render power boats inoperable.  The quaggas, along with their close relative zebra mussels, were carried to the Great Lakes in the 1980s from eastern Europe and the Ukraine in ship ballast.  While populations in the East have expanded to the quadrillions, and no slowing of growth is in sight, experts say the species will eventually stabilize.

The lower Colorado River has been colonized in the West, leaving sharp shells on beaches.  Warmer Western weather has increased quagga mussel productivity, each female capable of producing up to a million eggs per year.  Hoover Dam saw original colonizers at intake towers and other structures, growing from one or two mussels per square foot to 55,000.  And the mussels could affect water quality and clarity, of especial concern at Lake Tahoe.  A spokesman for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency said an infestation could cost the area up to $22 million a year.

For now, water managers advise the best prevention is inspection and quarantine if necessary of boats traveling from waterway to waterway.  The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California anticipates spending from $10- to $15-million per year to address infestations in 242 miles of Colorado River aqueduct and reservoirs, which route water to 19 million people in and around Los Angeles.  The invasive species has similar substantial impact on business, the power industry, water companies and communities.  According to one expert, these costs in the East are in the billions, and the West is not far behind.

Workers rewarded for improving Utah’s air quality—Kirsten Stewart, SLT 7/18/09

The “Feral Chihuahuas”, a 30-member team participating in Utah’s “Clean the Air Challenge”, were recognized along with corporate teams from Rio Tinto, Zion’s Bank and O.C. Tanner.  Winners walked away with bikes, free golf opportunities, lunch with Salt Lake City mayor Ralph Becker and other prizes.  The grand-prize winner earned a free week with a compressed natural gas Chevy Impala.

The “Clean the Air Challenge” was presented by a collaboration of state, city and county governments, local businesses and faith-based groups.  The challenge encouraged competitors individually and in teams to cut energy consumption, ease traffic congestion and improve air quality.

Categories and winners included most pounds of emissions saved (Rio Tinto), most trips saved (Zion’s Bank), most participants (Hogle Zoo), best integration of TravelWise strategies—including use of public transit, carpooling, active transportation, teleworking, flexible workweeks and trip chaining (The Feral Chihuahuas); 2009 Corporate Role Model:  OC Tanner; Grand Prize winners for most pounds of emissions saved, Tami Jannelli, most trips saved, Soren Simonsen (Salt Lake City District 7 City Councilman), most consistent gold, Heidi Schubert, most consistent silver, Debby Vanetti, most consistent bronze, Russel Boltz.

The contest lasted six weeks.  A combined 866 gallons of gas and 32,679 pollution emissions were reportedly saved by the team “Feral Chihuahuas” alone.  All told, 110,720 car trips, 1 million vehicle travel miles and 1.7 million pounds of emissions were reportedly averted.  The challenge’s goal was 1.8 million pounds.

Farm leaders call for defeat of cap-and-trade bill—Dawn House, SLT 7/17/09

The position was reached at the Farm Bureau Convention held over the week.  Utah’s agricultural leaders claim the cap-and-trade bill will overburden financially strapped farmers.   Utah Farm Bureau president Leland Hogan pointed to weakened beef, swine and poultry industries in the wake of the recession, where milk prices sit at about half of current production costs.

While some exemptions to emissions caps for farmers are provided in the Waxman-Markey bill, farm leaders argue the exemptions won’t be enough for the energy-intensive industry.  Cost of fuel for tractors, fertilizer production costs, processing and packaging energy, and delivery truck fuel all could be seriously affected.  Farm Bureau CEO Randy Parker pointed to the 3.5%-4.5% increase in food costs nationwide during last year’s gas price spike.  Parker says last year’s price hikes would pale in comparison if the cap-and-trade bill passes.

Tom Tripp, an engineer and spokesman for US Magnesium, said the bill would send more US companies overseas, while undeveloped countries like China and India could continue polluting.  China’s magnesium process currently emits 10 times more pollution and uses 10 times more energy.  Tripp said American environmental restrictions are so tough that China is now the world’s largest magnesium producer.

The EPA brought a $1 billion lawsuit against US Magnesium over hazardous waste that it lost in 2007, though the EPA is appealing the Utah federal judge’s ruling.  US Magnesium’s Tooele plant ranked as the nation’s top polluter in the 1980’s.  Though millions were spent on cleanup, and the plant is no longer on the top 100 US polluter list, the plant still ranks 4th in Utah for toxic releases.

In the cap-and-trade costs debate, the Congressional Budget Office reports that families by 2020 would see increased energy expenses of 50 cents a day or $175 per year.  But Republicans, referring to a Heritage Foundation analysis say a family of four could face $1,870 per year by 2020 with the Waxman-Markey bill, closer to $6,800 by 2035.  Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-UT has sponsored legislation to disclose to consumers the actual costs of the program.  His figures, taken from GOP minority of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, show $1,115 new taxes on Utahn’s electric bills, and an average family cost of $3,435 per year. –Thomas Burr

Man uses chain saw in Wyoming mountain lion attack—Matthew Brown, AP, SLT 7/17/09

The cat attacked a Colorado man with wife and two young children while camping. Officials said it was emaciated and showed other signs of starvation.  The 100 lb animal pounced from nearby cover in the Shoshone National Forest.  The man, described as 6-foot, 170 lbs, raised an 18-inch chainsaw he had been using and met the animal head-on.  The animal batted the man with his paws before the saw hit and the animal left.  The man suffered a small puncture wound on his forearm, while the mountain lion retreated after receiving a six- to eight-inch gash in the shoulder.  The man was surprised the chainsaw didn’t “dig right in”.

Officials said the attack 27 miles west of Cody was one of only eight incidents where mountain lions have acted aggressively towards humans in Wyoming in the last decade.  The animals are known for reclusivity.  Typical Wyoming cats weigh 140-150 lbs, prompting speculation by a Wyoming Fish and Game biologist that the animal was desperate, though the region near the North Fork of the Shoshone River is well populated with elk, deer and bighorn sheep.  Officials said disease may have played a part, though initial tests for rabies and other diseases came up negative.  The state biologist said “It was acting completely out of character for how a lion would normally act around a full grown man who has a chain saw in his hand.”

‘Red’ alert issued for smog along Wasatch Front—AP, SLT 7/17/09

The alert was issued for Friday for Salt Lake and Davis counties by the Utah Division of Air Quality.  Utah and Weber counties were put on ‘yellow’ alert.  Ozone mainly from vehicle emissions and industrial sources is blamed, with the hot summer days adding to the creation of ozone.  Children, elderly and persons with respiratory problems are cautioned against exertion outside, and the division said persons should reduce their driving.

McEntee:  Many in Logan knew of the landslide dangers—Peg McEntee, SLT 7/17/09

The ruptured canal, which killed a mother and two children, had over a century of history of leaking, cracking and fueling mudslides.  The latest incident was preceded by increasing surface water from springs on the hillside, and cracks in the concrete canal observed by local residents.  Logan officials were given a Utah State University study that predicted more slides after a similar one in 2005.

Responsibility for the disaster has not been assigned.  Logan City contributed to canal repairs, but the Logan and Northern Irrigation Co., which owns the canal, maintained the structure without oversight.  A 1999 proposal to run a ½ mile pipeline in the canal through the most threatening portions was rejected due to costs.  Thousands or even millions had been spent on repairs over the years, according to a former company board member.  Neighbors have said that while the canal seemed to be regularly visited by company inspectors in the past, in the last five years the canal has seen little if any attention.

McEntee noted that while the neighborhood of the fatal accident was once primarily the residence of homeowners, the area is now for the most part rentals and apartments.  Runer Anderson, retired from the USU’s civil engineering department and a former chairman, has studied the canal for years.   He invited residents to a meeting at the canal in August of 2008 to see for themselves the dangers he had noted.  State Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, doesn’t expect the Legislature to tackle the issue of water company regulation that could be a contributing factor.  Logan City is also limited legally.

House votes to protect wild horses—Kevin Freking, AP, SLT 7/17/09

The US House of Representatives voted to rescue the estimated 9,400 wild horses and burros that are considered over balanced rangeland limits in the West.  The animals might otherwise face a government-sponsored slaughter.  Under the plan, they would be moved to more supportable rangeland in Utah and the West.  The bill will require Senate approval to become law.

Utah’s delegation rejected the bill.  Rep. Rob Bishop R-UT said the bill prioritized homes for horses over Americans.  The Congressional Budget Office estimates the plan will cost about $200 million over five years, another sticking point with Bishop, who criticized Congress’ attempt to micromanage land officials, expanding wild animal roaming range while limiting farmer range use.  Jim Matheson, D-UT, believes there will not be enough rangeland to support the horses.

36,000 wild horses and burros are estimated across 10 Western states including Utah, while Federal officials say 26,600 are the limit for balanced rangeland management.  31,000 additional animals live in pastures and corrals through adoption programs.  Current land set aside for the wild horses and burros is stressed from overgrazing.  The BLM under the bill would be expected to set aside 20 million additional acres, though the majority would be necessary after 2013.

One possibility would be to make the acreage a goal rather than a legal requirement, favored by amendments to the bill.  Wild-horse sanctuaries could be brokered by the BLM on non-federal lands, greater adoption programs could be implemented, a greater number of animals would be sterilized, and holding pen time would be limited to six months, but the bill would outlaw the killing of healthy wild horses and burros.

While Republicans complained it was welfare for horses, one Democrat from West Virginia said Americans would not support slaughtering healthy animals or keeping them penned up for several years.  No similarly sponsored bill has been introduced in the Senate.  One representative noted that the massive slaughter alternative did not fit with the BLM’s mission of protection of the animals.

Movie review:  ‘Food, Inc.’ exposes the factory behind the farm—Sean P. Means, SLT 7/16/09

The documentary, working off the ‘you are what you eat’ adage, reports we are unhealthy, prone to disease, and supporting companies high on secrecy and low on health and protection of employees, products and planet.  Robert Kenner, director and longtime contributor to PBS’ “The American Experience” series, surveys the American food-production industry from the farm to the plate, pointing to the issues along the way.

‘Farm’ is a term Kenner does not favor, since commodity crops tend to be mass-produced with assembly-line processes closer to factories.  Animal-processing facilities tend to house genetically overbred livestock that feed on antibiotic-filled corn and live in their own waste.  Kenner points also to the ubiquity of corn, in everything from Coke to batteries due to heavy federal subsidies.  Artificially low prices favor greasy cheeseburgers over broccoli, leading to the nation’s high obesity rates, especially in lower income communities.

An additional topic of consideration is the mistreatment of employees at for instance meatpacking companies.  Monsanto and others are highlighted for their practice of selling genetically modified soybean seed and file lawsuits against farmers that save seed for the following year’s crops, as has been longstanding tradition.  13 states have ‘veggie libel’ laws that prevent criticism of food products.

Food advocates as well as organic and natural farmers like producers of Stonyfield Farms yogurt are interviewed, pointing to the problems arising under our current business as usual practices and offering insight into healthier, more sustainable alternatives.  Trib reporter Means said “it’s not a complete anti-corporate screed, as evidenced by the fact that it finds something nice to say about, of all companies, WalMart.”  Means added that while the film didn’t go much further than Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation or Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, both of which are included in the interviews, it still provides a good overview of the issue.

Farm Bureau blasts human-caused global warming—Dawn House, SLT 7/16/09

Topping the Utah Farm Bureau’s midyear convention is the Bureau’s rejection of the idea that humans are responsible for climate change.  The convention’s keynote speaker this week is Tom Tripp, promoted as a Nobel Peace Prize winner.  The title comes from Tripp’s role as one of several thousand U.N. panel members that shared the prize with former Vice President Al Gore.  Tripp dissented against the panel’s findings that global warming are due to human actions.

Tripp’s other distinctions include his role as metallurgical engineer for US Magnesium, Grantsville city councilman, and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  Some panel members have spoken out about identifying Tripp as a Nobel winner when his connection to the award is considered to be very tangential.  A coordinating lead author for the IPCC—an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University—said Thursday that to call any of its members Nobel winners is inaccurate, adding that the prize was awarded to the IPCC, not its individuals.

Tom Tripp has been on the IPCC roles from 2004, one of 450 IPCC “lead authors” whose job was to review reports from 800 contributing writers, which was reviewed in turn by over 2,500 experts worldwide.  Scientists, industry experts and public officials spanning over 130 countries made contributions to the report, according to Brenda Ekwurzel, of the Union of Concerned Scientists.  Five climate change reports have been recognized by the Nobel Prize committee since 1988.

Farm Bureau CEO Randy Parker pointed to Tripp as an indication that the IPCC’s supposed consensus on global warming was not all-inclusive.  Parker also defended Tripp’s billing as a Nobel Prize winner, saying “The prize was given to Al Gore and 2,000 IPCC members.”  250 attendees to the conference were in general accord with Tripp.  Tripp said “there is so much of a natural variability in weather it makes it difficult to come to a scientifically valid conclusion that global warming is man made,” according to Trib reporter Dawn House.  “It may well be, but we’re not scientifically there yet.”

Another of his peeves was modeling schemes used to evaluate global warming, though when pressed on IPCC climate modeling, Tripp said “I don’t have the expertise” to comment.   Meteorologist Thomas Reichler, who was involved in a University of Utah study, claims the IPCC models are very accurate and useful for those looking for solutions to reverse warming trends.  Farmer Neal Briggs, who attended the conference, said “the science behind [human-caused global warming] isn’t sound.  From what I’ve researched, we are not a large contributor to global warming.”

Rare snow leopard cub debuts at Hogle Zoo—Brett Prettyman, SLT 7/16/09

First glimpses of the male cub were permitted Thursday.  The cub, born May 7, has been kept secluded with his mother Nema.  His name will be announced later in the month.  He is currently on display in the Asian Highlands exhibit, the first snow leopard born at the zoo in more than 20 years.  Tiger cubs were born at the zoo in 2003.  Snow leopards appear on the World Conservation Union’s Red List of Threatened Species, as do pandas and tigers.  The Snow Leopard Trust reports between 3,500 and 7,000 animals left roaming free.  A spokesman for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) said the birth would help provide information for protecting snow leopards in the wild.

Snow leopards are adapted to high elevation environments such as mountainous regions of China, India, Nepal, Russia, Pakistan and Mongolia.  About 140 exist in captivity in the US, averaging about 6 births per year.  Hogle Zoo has three adult show leopards, though their preference for solitude has resulted in a rotation allowing only one on view at a time.  Nema has been pregnant before, though this is her first successful birth.  Snow leopard breeding decisions are made by the AZA, utilizing a Species Survival Plan.  Currently at 11 pounds, the cub should reach adult size, 60-80 lbs, by 6-8 months old.  The cub will remain with his mother until age 2, typical for the wild, after which he will probably be sent to another zoo and integrated into the snow leopard Species Survival Plan.

Snow Leopard Trust

The Transition Initiative:  Changing the scale of change—Jay Griffiths, Orion Magazine July/Aug 2009

Originating in the town of Totnes in Devon, England in 2006, the Transition Initiative has flourished in Britain, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.  The core purpose, Griffiths said, of the Transition Initiative is to address, at the community level, the twin issues of climate change and peak oil.  Rob Hopkins, the initiative’s founder, has said it is set up to enable towns and neighborhoods to move towards a post-oil and low-carbon future.

Griffiths characterizes the Transition Initiative like a charismatic, wise, practical, positive, resourceful, popular human being.  The movement is set on a foundation of acute and kind psychology, acknowledging the emotional effect of the issues, from fear and despair to anger, impotence and denial.  The psychology of addiction is used to address some of the notions of detoxifying from our oil addiction.  Healthy psychological functioning depends according to the movement’s credo on a belief that one’s needs will be met in the future; anxiety over climate change has been eroding that belief for a generation.

Affecting change at the individual as well as the national or governmental level draws a sense of impotence for many people.  At the scale of community, the Transition Initiative works where actions are significant, visible and effective, the level of greatest self-efficacy for these issues.  Author and secessionist Kirkpatrick Sale in his 1980 book Human Scale calls this the level where “individuals become neighbors and lovers instead of just acquaintances and ciphers…participants and protagonists instead of just voters and taxpayers.”  Griffiths said “at a community level, I can breathe in five river-sources and breathe out three miles of green valleys.”

Griffiths utilizes the term ‘economies of scale’ to conceptualize the idea of ‘moralities of scale’.   Like the Goldilocks fable, the individual scale can be capricious, while at the nation size morality can be as good as a welfare state or as poor as engineered genocide.  The community level affords a complex morality, Griffiths speculates, one that could hold greater cohesion as well as less ability to do harm outside of itself.

Talks and film screenings have led to steering groups and the motivation to identify with and become a Transition community in many places.   The driving force tends to be self-reliance for a community, built around aspects such as food production, energy use, building, waste and transport.  In many cases a steering group has brought the initiative into focus and up to speed before releasing it to various sub-groups for action.  Many alternatives have cropped up as different communities apply the Transition Initiative ideas to their region.

Naresh Giangrande, who was involved in setting up the first Transition Town, said the experience was driven by ordinary people who wanted something better for their children.  “The political process is corrupted by money, power and vested interests.  I’m not writing off large corporations or government, but because they have such an investment in this system, they haven’t got an incentive to change.”  Giangrande compared the grassroots process to the one utilized by to decrease CO2 emissions by pressuring government to set limits and enforce them.

Transition Initiative founder Rob Hoskins was once a permaculture teacher, and permaculture’s thinking permeates the movement, from working with rather than against nature to collaborative and cooperative, slow processes.  A “Heart and Soul” subgroup of Transition communities, for instance, focuses on psychological and emotional aspects of climate crisis.  The process nurtures participation and good listening.  Keynote speakers are complemented by “keynote listeners”, which has the potential to draw upon the best resources of a thinker speaking in public.

If traditional environmentalism has been prescriptive, advocating certain responses the Transition Initiative characterizes itself as a catalyst, without certain answers.  Hope and proactiveness are lead motivators rather than guilt or fear.  The Transition Initiative is also “whole-heartedly inclusive”, Griffiths said.

Re-skilling in traditional crafts and organic gardening brings back lost skills with a practical make-do-and-mend attitude.  One Transition community member has characterized such acts as “weaving some ideas back into culture”.  The community behaviors typical during World War II, such as victory gardens and conservation practices, also are a feature of the movement.  And there are ways that mending, tending, and restoring feed from textiles, vegetables and furniture to the restoration of community itself.

Griffiths says people never need communities more than when there are threats to security, food and lives.  Such is the case under the paradigms of peak oil and global climate change.  Psychological considerations at such times of increased uncertainty are heightened, and community, rather than increased income or consumerism, is uniquely positioned to address those needs.  The symbiotic potential between the individual and good community is encapsulated in the term ‘social capital’.  The reversal of isolation and return to meaningful community may be one of the greatest gems of the Transition Initiative, and a necessary place of fulfillment where consumerism and addiction to television and computer have reigned.

Community has been under siege by nation-states in eras past.  Witness enclosure laws that privatized common land, or the treatment of Native Americans or indigenous people across the globe.  These infringements on cultural survival, resulting in food, housing, fuel or time poverties, have been disguised as problems of the individual.  The Transition Initiative empowers these latent communities with their own narrative, one that is hopeful, active and belonging rather than despairing, passive and cynical.

Currently there are 146 known Transition Initiatives, and the movement is growing.  Another emphasis of the relationships cultivated in the movement is the concept of the Between, that place of possibility that exists when two people meet face to face and interact genuinely and guilelessly.  With participation comes recognition, acknowledgement, a key psychological need.

The Myth of the Oil Crisis, authored by an oil industry professional, calls the movement “mistaken, appalling and dangerous”.  Other critics call it insufficiently confrontational.  And some within the movement divide over fast action and slow consideration.  The concept of the tipping point is of great interest to all those within the movement, seeking fast or slow change.


Long, fractious road to global climate talks—from The Washington Post 7/16/09, SLT 7/18/09

What do we get from our mindless pursuit of growth?—Jeff Clawson, M.D., Salt Lake City, SLT 7/17/09

Great Salt Lake expansion plan works—State Rep. Kerry W. Gibson, R-Ogden, SLT 7/17/09

Pay to mine:  End free pass for hardrock mining—Tribune Editorial, SLT 7/17/09

Roundup Friday July 17, 2009

Salt Lake City Mayor Becker to Congress:  Climate bill needs to go further—Thomas Burr, SLT 7/14/09

The mayor, appearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, affirmed Congress’ limit of industry pollution was a good start, adding the nation needs to cut consumer vehicle exhaust as well.  Becker advocated for a comprehensive approach, accomplished at all levels of government and reviewing all sectors of the economy.  The transportation sector is noticeably missing from the American Clean Energy and Security Act passed recently by the House, Becker said.  Becker added that from his own experience people with more transit alternatives would choose them over driving.  Walkability he said is favored over traffic congestion.  Stemming from previous environmental planning business experiences, Becker suggested investing in more mass transit, encouraging smarter land-use planning and boosting alternative transportation—bike paths and carpooling for example.  Republicans fear limiting vehicle emissions will burden Americans already impacted by the economic recession.  Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming said “Our goal should be to do what we can to keep red, white and blue jobs that we have now and then move on to green jobs.”  Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said raising the gas tax in an effort to reduce fuel consumption was off the table.  Former Mayor Rocky Anderson testified on climate change during the last congressional session.

Statistical Summary from the Testimony

29% of US greenhouse gas emissions comes from transportation, one of the fastest growing sources

60% of transportation emissions are from passenger cars and light duty trucks

Households with access to mass transit drive an average of 4,440 fewer annual miles

5,000 trucking companies have failed and thousands of independent operators have lost their jobs due to gas price fluctuations

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., said a cap and trade system will make gas more costly and increase dependency on foreign oil

S.L. Council approves car sharing—Rosemary Winters, SLT 7/14/09

The Salt Lake City Council approved an ordinance Tuesday that will allow U Car Share to bring vehicle sharing to Salt Lake City.  The program has parallels in Portland, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and will allow users to rent cars as needed for as little as an hour.  City code had to be amended to allow the Phoenix-based U-Haul subsidiary to park its cars in public slots.  Within the next 3 months, 12-20 cars are expected to be parked for use in the city with four more at the University of Utah and Utah Transit Authority train stops.  A one-time $50 membership fee will allow vehicle rentals on average between $8-$12 per hour, including gas and insurance.

Depleted uranium stays on agenda—Judy Fahys, SLT 7/14/09

The Utah Radiation Control Board has postponed a decision on whether to impose a moratorium on depleted uranium until discussing the issue with federal regulators.  The delay could last two months.  At issue is whether EnergySolutions Inc., which has so far buried 50,000 tons of depleted uranium at its Tooele facility, will be allowed to take more of the 1.4 million tons in government stockpiles and from enrichment being readied for removal.  Federal regulators once again confirmed that depleted uranium could be safely interred with other least-hazardous radioactive materials.  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission may however require more stringent safety requirements for large quantities.  Regulation development is expected to take years.  Depleted uranium becomes more hazardous over time, a hazard that doesn’t peak for 1 million years, according to the NRC.

Following HEAL Utah’s lead, Former Utah Radiation Control Board chairman and Brigham Young University geologist Stephen Nelson said allowing depleted uranium at a shallow disposal site was “patently absurd”.  Nelson called for a deep geological repository that would protect from for instance another rise in Lake Bonneville, which covered the EnergySolutions site under 200 feet of water 12,000 years ago.  Nelson noted most of the waste at the Tooele site has a 100-year hazard period.  EnergySolutions spokesmen countered that current depleted uranium is buried safely and a moratorium would only prevent Department of Energy cleanups across the nation.  Their offer was to change EnergySolutions’ Utah radiation license to require deeper burial of depleted uranium with a thicker protective cover.  They said this would go beyond what they expect the NRC will require, adding that only 50,000 tons would be available for burial in the next 5 years, 10,000 tons of which is being pursued by EnergySolutions.

The NRC’s public roundtable on depleted uranium in Salt Lake City will be September 23-24.

Utah buildings deemed eco-friendly, energy-efficient—Steven Oberbeck, SLT 7/13/09

Seven buildings have been cited for national recognition, including the Mark Miller Toyota-Scion dealership, which recently received its Gold LEED certification from the US Green Building Council.  Mark Miller said it was a goal from the beginning to achieve Gold LEED certification, but had he known about the direction of the economy and the automobile business, he might have thought differently, estimating additional costs increased pricing by 10%.  Miller’s auto dealership makes the fifth Gold LEED certified building in the state, with two other buildings that have gone beyond Gold to achieve the Platinum standard.  Standards incorporate both the energy performance and efficiency of the building as well as its use.  Due to frequent running automobiles at an auto dealership, creating additional energy footprint and air quality issues, Platinum certification seems unlikely to Miller.  Miller’s building boasts a cistern system to collect rainwater used to wash cars [a feature that required special permit to circumvent state laws preventing water catchment—ESR editor].

Platinum Level Buildings

Daybreak Corporate Center, South Jordan

Swaner EcoCenter, Park City (pending)

Gold Level Buildings

Mark Miller Toyota-Scion, Salt Lake City

Big-D Construction headquarters, Salt Lake City

CCI Training and Conference Facility, Salt Lake City

Escalante Science Center, Escalante

Salt Palace Expansion Phase III, Salt Lake City

EPA wants mining industry to pay for cleanup—Amy Joi O’Donoghue, Deseret News, 7/13/09,5143,705316671,00.html

The EPA’s proposed bonding rule would go into effect by 2011. The action was spawned by $2.6 billion in cleanup costs shelled out by the federal government over a nine-year period.  Gold, copper, lead and other metal mining operations would be targeted.  The agency argued that mining operations have polluted 3,400 miles of streams and 440,000 acres of land, adding that mining facilities generate 1-2 billion tons of waste annually, with large-scale operations often contaminating ground- and surface water and compromise wildlife, vegetation, soils and wetlands.  EPA said enormous costs are associated with actions necessary to protect public health and the environment.  Toxins include arsenic, cyanide and mercury.

Remediation of sites has historically been complicated by a pattern of failed operations that result in the taxpayer picking up the tab, O’Donoghue said.  A Moab mining operation that bankrupted in the mid-1980s left a cleanup decades later in the hands of the federal government to the tune of $1 billion to remove the 16 million tons of radiation contaminated tailings.  Multiple examples exist, including a $192 million cleanup for a Colorado mine that went bust in 1992.  Six of the top 10 mining-claim owners in the country are multinational corporations with headquarters elsewhere, further complicating cleanup enforcement.

The EPA’s proposed rule follows a February federal court ruling that directed the EPA to identify industries that can use a legal loophole to avoid financial responsibility for environmental cleanup costs.  The court ruling was prompted by a suit brought by the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations.  Previously, the EPA has not had the resources to require a financial guarantee up front.  A 2005 Government Accountability Office report found that as of 2004, 167 hardrock mining operations worked in Utah, and 50-74% operated without financial assurance.  24 percent of the 49 larger operations in Utah lacked bonds or other financial guarantee for cleanup costs.

Controlling invasive, wily coyotes is still complicated—Mike Stark, AP, SLT 7/13/09

Almost 90,000 coyotes are trapped, shot or poisoned by government agents each year due to livestock killing, urban and suburban prowling and other problems.  Researchers in Utah and elsewhere have explored methods that would repel or otherwise deter coyotes rather than kill them:  startling noises, wolf urine electric fencing.  But coyotes are fast learners, according to an expert at the nation’s only large-scale coyote research center near Utah State University.  they share information with others and overcome fears quickly when decoys are used.  Fierce individualism deters blanket solutions.  The non-lethal approach has been picked up by the federal government’s livestock protection program, though kill programs will not be eliminated anytime soon.  Rather, experts acknowledge the importance of predators on the landscape and are targeting the animals primarily causing damage.

While their importance to ecosystem balance has been recognized, coyotes are the top culprit in predator-caused deaths, still far from the leading cause of death among sheep and cattle.  135,000 sheep valued at over $10 million were killed by coyotes in 2004, and 97,000 estimated to be worth $44 million in 2005.  11,000 were killed in 2008 by Wildlife Services with M-44s, which use sodium cyanide pellets, though conservation groups and the EPA are petitioning to have it banned.  Wolf urine has been found to be somewhat reliable in a Chicago study.  Noise and foot traffic may also be effective.  City coyote behavior is less familiar, becoming prevalent in most metropolitan areas only since the late 1980’s.  A Utah expert says coyotes, however, just aren’t predictable, and a number of alternatives rotating frequently is likely to be part of the equation for landowners and wildlife managers.

BLM Colorado office will hold agency’s first online lease sale—Oil and Gas Journal, 7/14/09

The first ever online oil and gas lease sale is a pilot project specified in the DOI’s 2008 budget to determine if the process is feasible.  The sale will run from Sept. 9-17 at .  38 parcels totaling 28,489 acres will be sold.  Two groups will be offered for seven days apiece staggered over two days.  The process, typical of other online auctions, will allow bidders to submit set bids as well as proxy bids that increase a set amount selected by the bidder.  Bidders will be required to register online, offering credit card information and sworn statement of intention to buy.  The BLM said there would be no charge for filing protests, which must be offered in writing and delivered by hand, mail or fax.  The BLM has no current provision for filing protests online or by e-mail.

Are the deserts getting greener?—Ayisha Yahya, BBC World Service 7/16/09

The Sahara has suggested to climate warming scientists an alternative to the prediction that all deserts will get hotter and drier.  While the evidence is limited and decades of data may yet be necessary to confirm speculation, the possibility is being considered that the Sahara could shrink.  Satellite images do show some greening, especially in the south Sahara, though droughts over the preceding decades have run nomadic people and farmers into towns and cities. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently said rising global temps could cut West African agricultural production by as much as 50% between now and 2020.  Vegetation recovery seems to be occurring in the far south Sahara near the Sahel Belt, a semi-arid tropical savannah south of the desert that has been damaged by deforestation, poor land management and soil erosion.

Data from Namibia offers additional fuel for the new hypothesis.  As a “hyper-arid” desert, the region has averaged 12 millimeters of rainfall per year.  Last year the local research center measured 80 mm of rain, and the last decade has shown record high floods as well as temperatures, though not enough data exists to confirm whether the changes are due to global climate change or a natural cycle.  While the mean annual evaporation in the Namibian desert is several hundred times higher than actual rainfall, and three years ago marked the hottest day on record, 47 degrees Celsius [nearly 117 degrees Fahrenheit—ESR Editor], a wetter trend has been noted.  Higher levels of CO2 have been noted as well, which could not have been generated anywhere near the Namibian desert.

Egypt has made its own uses of satellite imaging.  As Egypt’s population expands, it has used remote sensing data to identify desert aquifers, which are being tapped by farmers for commercial orange, lime and mango production.  3.4 million acres of desert are slated for reclamation.

Industry chiefs call for sectoral approach to climate change—


The first United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) talks were held in Bonn, Switzerland (March 29-April 8) and initiated negotiations for a draft agreement ahead of the final conference in Copenhagen at the end of this year.  The intent is to replace the Kyoto Protocol, expiring in 2012.  The negotiating text prepared for the second round of talks held in late June showed the divide between rich and poor countries.  Developing nations seek sizeable CO2 reductions from industrialized nations and financial aid for reductions in poor nations.

Industrialized nations have not committed to funding, and the EU is the only region to set a concrete CO2 reduction target, though it fails to meet the target called for by the developing world.  Amendments have bloated the negotiating text to hundreds of pages, while financing for developing countries to mitigate and adapt to global warming continues to lack concrete support.  Meanwhile the Major Economies Forum, coinciding with the G8 summit in early July and comprising the 17 countries responsible for 75% of global emissions, agreed to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, about 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Feature Story

The European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT), an influential group of CEOs, said in a paper published this week that a fair international climate regime should include sector-based agreements.  The agreements would offer binding targets for emissions cuts in developing countries.  The paper says the EU can upgrade 2020 objectives from 20% to 30% CO2 emissions reductions only if obligations are spread evenly across the globe, avoiding competitive distortions.

Jeroen van der Veer, former Shell CEO and chair of ERT’s Energy and Climate Change Working Group, said such an international framework would ensure a minimal gap between economies leading implementation of limits and those economies still building the ability to manage emissions.  This would allow the EU to continue competing in the global market, van der Veer added.  Other industry heads of the ERT come from national companies such as E.ON, GDF Suez, Siemens, Nokia, BT and Fiat.

The ERT favors a global cap and trade market for global emissions cuts.  Industrialized countries would be held to binding emissions cuts while their cap and trade systems would be linked to finance clean energy technology in developing countries.  One advantage, the paper said, was that a widespread market would set CO2 ­and other greenhouse gas emissions prices, delivering reductions at the lowest cost to the global economy.

By restructuring the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which currently allows industrialized countries to earn offset credits by financing mitigation efforts in the developing world, large scale projects, especially in the electricity sector, could be driven by carbon pricing.  Low cost measures such as energy efficiency would be financed mainly by the developing countries themselves.  At the same time advanced developing countries would be expected to limit absolute emission through national actions, and beyond that commit to global emissions reductions.

Sectoral agreements with industrialized nations would target specific sectors like cement or steel, channeling funding and capacity.  “Each agreement should include the eventual implementation of a long-term binding target for the sector or sectors in question,” the ERT argues, adding that the approach could be extended to sectors such as deforestation and reforestation.  A similar concept has been conceptualized under the UN’s REDD mechanism [Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, a reward system for keeping forests intact—ESR editor] a likely feature of the upcoming Copenhagen negotiations.

By involving at least 80% of world production of products in each particular sector leading to CO2 reductions similar to current EU commitments, the need for protection would be reduced for EU sectors that have the price of carbon added to their costs.  Carbon capture and storage too could be internationally certified, offering a form of paper currency for each ton of carbon buried underground.

Next Steps

Aug 10-14:  UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting, Bonn

Sept 28-Oct 9:  UNFCCC summit in Bangkok

Nov 2-6:  UNFCCC meeting

Dec 7-18:  UN climate change conference in Copenhagen

REDD:  An introduction—

ESR Editor’s Note—’s “About” page says its website emerged from NGO networks in Europe and the southern hemisphere, concerned over the developing “Reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries” policies that began to be a part of climate change discussions at the 11th session of the Conference of Parties to the Climate Change Convention (COP 11) in 2005.  REDD stands for Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. is run by Chris Lang and seeks to continue asking critical questions about the developing REDD program.

Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) was originally conceived as a plan for making payments to discourage deforestation and forest degradation in the southern hemisphere.  REDD programs were discussed ahead of the Kyoto Protocol, but rejected.  The Coalition of Rainforest Nations developed REDD after 2005.  COP 13, meeting two years later and tied to the UNFCCC, furthered the proposal, which is expected to be agreed upon at COP 15 in Copenhagen.  The Bali Action Plan would tie emissions reductions to conservation and sustainable management of forests and forest carbon stocks in developing countries.

Concerns over the plan include the costs of conservation in terms of loss of rights and evictions of indigenous peoples and local communities.  Sustainable management of forests could include subsidies to commercial logging operations in old growth forests, indigenous territories or villagers’ community forests.  Enhancement of carbon stocks could result in conversion of land to industrial tree plantations, affecting biodiversity, forests and local communities. is calling for the UN to affirm international human rights instruments in REDD, including the UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the concept of Free Prior Informed Consent.  COP 14 negotiations saw the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia opposing any reference to Indigenous People’s rights in the negotiating text, weakening the draft text.

Funding considerations for REDD currently proposed include carbon trading as well as a separate fund.  Proponents say a market based approach would be sufficient to replace the market forces driving deforestation in favor of domestic agriculture in rainforest regions.  REDD credits would be available for developed country emissions reductions, and the monies generated by their sale would incentivize forest protection.  Inherent in the cap and trade option is the ability to delay or defer action by developed countries and industries on emissions reductions.  Pollution continues to be produced at current or greater amounts.  No protections are currently in place to ensure that carbon storage forests would be permanently protected, or forests elsewhere contributing to carbon sequestration would not be cut down.  Effectively, REDD creates the world’s biggest loophole, effectively allowing industry to continue polluting.  Additionally, notes that currently the UN defines a forest and a plantation as the same thing.

In 2004, the World Bank’s Carbon Finance Business was described by then Senior Manager Ken Newcombe as “reducing risk for private investors”.  Newcombe has since left the World Bank and set up his own carbon trading company, C-Quest Capital.  The World Bank is currently sponsoring a program (the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility) where countries produce Readiness Plan Idea Notes.  These provide the framework for REDD, and 25 countries have already submitted notes.  Numerous other forest investment programs have been developed under assorted umbrellas of the World Bank and the United Nations.  Many countries have already invested in REDD activities throughout the globe.

Private sector projects are also in swing, including ones supported by The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, WWF US, Environmental Defense Fund, Woods Hole Research Center, CIFOR, Winrock International, and Wildlife Conservation Society.  The Noel Kempff Climate Action Project in Bolivia in 1997 includes corporate partners American Electric Power, Pacificorp, and BP Amoco.  The Juma Sustainable Development Reserve in Brazil includes corporate partner Marriott Hotels.

Standards organizations are also a part of the initiative, including sustainability certifiers Voluntary Carbon Standard and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance.

Primary concerns over REDD developments include the failure to recognize Indigenous People’s rights in the UNFCCC, failure to consult with Indigenous Peoples and local communities, the UN definition of forests which does not differentiate between forest and plantation—meaning diverse forests could be replaced by monoculture and still qualify, the risk of corruption, the risk of increased deforestation ahead of firm REDD agreements in Copenhagen later this year, the loophole that carbon trading offers to polluters, the lack of aggressive redress of climate change that carbon forest trade offers.

G8 leaders pledge €14 billion for food security— with Reuters, 7/10/09

Leaders of the G8 industrialized nations agreed to commit around $20 billion over three years to helping the world’s poorest countries’ agricultural sectors.  Short, medium and long term agriculture development will be a part of the investment.  The written declaration did not make clear whether the amount was new funds, and did not detail individual countries’ investments.  While a World Bank trust fund was proposed by the US, opposed by the EU, no mention of it was found in the final declaration.  The declaration identified major contributions to increased poverty and hunger in developing countries, citing underinvestment in agriculture, price volatility and the economic crisis.  The UN reports that the number of malnourished people has risen in the past two years and is expected to top 1.02 billion by the end of 2009, reversing a decades long declining trend.  The declaration reflects a US-led move toward long term strategies fighting hunger.  The US is the world’s largest aid donor of food.

The G8 approach will target increased productivity, harvest intervention stimulus, private-sector growth, women and small farmers, preserve natural resources, prioritize job expansion training and trade.  The G8 disbursed about $13.4 billion between January 2008 and July 2009 according to its own sources.  Critics including anti-poverty group ONE have charged the G8 has failed to keep previous promises of aid, including a promise to double aid to Africa made in 2005.  ONE says sub-Saharan Africa alone needs $25 billion over the next three years.  ONE has called for investments in seed, fertilizer, roads and infrastructure.

Birds’ survival relies on world’s largest crab orgy—Louisa Jones, NPR 7/12/09

Mating season for horseshoe crabs in the Delaware Bay, the largest gathering in the world, brings millions of crabs and tens of thousands of migratory shorebirds that feed on crab eggs on their way to the Arctic.  The site is also host to ornithologists who track tagged birds from as far away as Tierra Del Fuego, the southern tip of South America.  The red knot, chestnut-colored and similar in size to a robin, winters in Argentina and breeds 10,000 miles north in the Arctic. Delaware is an important feeding site for the red knot, coinciding with the horseshoe crab spawning.

The pearlish-green crab eggs, the size of caviar, are laid by the billions, and those that don’t hatch and are not eaten can dry or wash out with the tide.  The feeding in Delaware Bay stores sufficient fat reserves for the final portion of the journey to the Arctic for red knots.  “They eat so greedily that stretches of sand can be completely hidden by their red breasts and little pecking heads,” Jones said.   Nigel Clark, a volunteer with the British Trust for Ornithology, described the birds before feeding as “literally skin and bone…Very thin and sleek birds running around with extremely large legs, it seems.”  Clark says by the time they leave they look like little balls.  “They have short legs because they are carrying so much fat on their breast, and they almost waddle,” he added.

The birds have an acutely synchronized existence, getting fed in time to reach the Arctic just as the snow melts.  Laying their clutch quickly, the chicks hatch just in time to meet with hatching insects, just two short months in the summer, Nigel’s wife Jacquie Clark, also a volunteer, recounted.  Nigel Clark says that the population has crashed since the 1990’s, and the red knot is currently a candidate under the Endangered Species Act.  Two possibilities include climate change shifting ground thaw timing in the Arctic, and a lack of sufficient horseshoe crab eggs for fattening.  The volunteers are surveying whether the red knot is getting enough to eat.  Nigel Clark adds; “There is nowhere else in the world where a population of birds is so dependent on such a small area.  If they don’t have Delaware Bay, they won’t get to the Arctic, they won’t breed, and the population will die out.”  Current surveys suggest this will be a good year, but a string of good years are necessary for the birds’ recovery.

Garland firm snags $198k energy-conservation grant—SLT 7/15/09

The $198,500 grant awarded to Hansen Energy and Environmental is part of $18 million plus awarded in Conservation Innovation Grants for 55 projects nationally developing cutting-edge technologies helping ranchers and farmers conserve natural resources.  The Utah research firm will demonstrate an economical method for converting methane from farm waste products to a liquid fuel.

Animal advocacy brouhaha:  Cheyenne rodeo snaps new photo/video policy—Bob Moen, AP, SLT 7/15/09

The Cheyenne rodeo known as the “Daddy of ‘em all” tried to ban all types of video cameras in an attempt to prevent animal rights groups from posting video on the Web of alleged animal mistreatment at the event, but fans of the rodeo at the 113 year old Cheyenne Frontier Days quickly complained.  Private use is now allowed, while all commercial, issue advocacy or fundraising use, without the rodeo’s permission, is banned.  The animal rights group SHARK—Showing Animals Respect and Kindness—has said the policy is intended to prevent images that demonstrate animal cruelty at the rodeo.  A rodeo spokesman said that because SHARK’s website asked for donations, it might be subject to a lawsuit under its new policy, arguing that the new policy was simply protecting copyright and brand rights.  While SHARK may be caught in the fray, the rodeo’s spokesman said other problems had occurred with photographers shooting the event for profit, and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association owns the rights to all commercial video footage of PRCA events shot in the arena.  Other rodeos, including the Greeley Stampede in northeast Colorado, had instituted similar policies.

2 more bear killings in Utah bring total to 5 this summer—Brett Prettyman, SLT 7/15/09

Two previously unreported cases, one in Uintah county at a campsite and the other involving a rancher who claimed a bear was killing his calves on his property in Garfield County, have been added to the three previously reported cases this month.  No bears were shot at all in 2008.  Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) experts are perplexed.  Mike Fowlks, chief of law enforcement for the DWR said ranchers have the right and authority by statute to protect their livestock from predators posing a risk.  One theory is that while plenty of food is available this summer, young bears could be searching for their own territory.  Officials have reiterated that if a bear is sighted, people should after reaching safety be calling 911, the wildlife hotline (1-800-662-DEER), the local sheriff’s office or the local DWR office, noting that a bear doesn’t always have to be shot.  Black bears tend to be discouraged by throwing rocks, yelling and waving your arms and other forms of counter-attack, Prettyman said.  If you encounter a grizzly, he added, lay face down and play dead with your arms covering your neck.

Wildfire near Panguitch tops 2,900 acres, 35 percent contained—AP, SLT 7/14/09

The fire is burning mostly conifers and aspens.  Strong winds and thunderstorms have made firefighting difficult.  Spot fires ignited by embers carried on winds have also been a problem.  280 people were working on the fire, ignited by lightning July 2, as of Monday

Utah may land $2.6M for energy-efficient-appliance rebates—SLT 7/14/09

The Energy Department announced Utah’s eligibility for a state-run rebate program Tuesday.  The state must apply for the stimulus package funds, which will partially reimburse consumers purchasing qualified appliances with an Energy Star rating.  Energy Director Steven Chu said the funds would go to energy efficiency and the transition to more efficient appliances while directly stimulating the economy and creating jobs through consumer demand.  Funds could become available to Utah between August and November.

Utah camper kills another bear—Tom Wharton, SLT 7/14/09

The camper shot the bear at the Barker Reservoir campground early Sunday east of Boulder Mountain.  The bear was the third one killed this month by a shooter asserting the bear was a threat, one in Balsam Campground in Hobble Creek Canyon east of Springville and the other near cabins in the South Fork of Provo Canyon.  A Utah Division of Wildlife (DWR) spokesman and biologist said the frequent shootings are unusual.  Experts have expected that due to the wet year, plentiful food would keep bears away from humans.  Bear incidents and sitings have been average for the year.  The latest killing involved a yearling little larger than a German shepherd.  Another DWR spokesman said the bear had been sighted repeatedly two days before the shooting, and when the shooter tried to run the bear off, the bear went a short distance then turned around, appearing to the shooter as if it would not retreat.  The report was turned over to the Garfield County attorney, who will decide whether the killing was justified or charges will be pressed.  Anyone feeling threatened by a predator is encouraged to call 911, who can connect with DWR at any time.

Truck rolls, spills asphalt into southern Utah creek—Steve Gehrke, SLT 7/14/09

The asphalt oil spill occurred about 50 miles east of Cedar City on Highway 89.  Hazardous material crews began cleaning the oil from the site after 9 a.m. and finished Tuesday night.  No comment had been made Tuesday on whether the contamination would pose health risks.  The driver suffered minor injuries.

Roundup Tuesday July 14, 2009

Climate talks end with meager promises—Richard Harris, NPR 7/10/09

The G8 meeting that held international climate talks in L’Aquila, Italy over the past week ended with little progress.  Rich industrial nations refused to promise short term emissions cuts.  China, India and the rest of the developing world refused to commit to emissions cuts at all.  China, the world’s largest emitter of CO2, claims that most of the carbon in the atmosphere today is from the US and other rich nations.  China demands these nations act first and most aggressively, with a 40% reduction in 10 years.

Eileen Claussen, of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change and former diplomat, called the demand an “over-the-top bargaining tactic” and a totally unrealistic position.  Claussen said China believes climate change is a real risk, but the country can’t wean itself from cheap fossil fuels while struggling, according to Ken Lieberthal of the Brookings Institution, to eliminate poverty for hundreds of millions of people.  Lieberthal said China is building the equivalent of a new city for 1.25 million people every month, and is expected to need to continue for 15-20 years.  A global plan may have to let China continue to be the world’s leading emitter for decades to come.

While the industrialized world has recognized the need for dramatic action, short-range goals and plans were not agreed on.  At issue is both cutting emissions for rich countries as well as spreading clean energy technology, and money, around the world.  Jennifer Morgan, of the Berlin think tank E3G, said that includes money and technology for China.  The Obama administration is starting to work with China directly, outside of international climate talks, to bring clean technologies.  Advances in emissions reductions globally—slowing and halting global warming—are in serious jeopardy while developing nations must raise living standards, and rich countries are failing to act.  The next climate treaty is slated for completion in December, at the UN summit in Copenhagen.

60 Environmental groups support Sotomayor for Supreme Court—Environment News Service, 7/9/09

60 environmental, conservation and Native American organizations sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee members today expressing their support for confirmation of Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.  Sotomayor’s Senate confirmation hearing is scheduled to begin Monday May 13.  The letter said Sotomayor’s record “evinces no clear bias in favor of or against environmental claims”.  It went on to say her record “reflects intellectual rigor, meticulous preparation, and fairness”.  The groups value her “consistently balanced and thoughtful review of complex legal issues”, going on to say “She has interpreted and applied the laws as Congress intended and safeguarded constitutional rights”.  Trip Van Noppen, president of nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice, added “Appointing unbiased, non-activist justices to the Supreme Court will help ensure that the Court’s decisions will faithfully implement our nation’s environmental laws”.

Some of the largest environmental groups in the US signed the letter, including the League of Conservation Voters, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace USA, the National Audubon Society, the Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Federation and The Wilderness Society, all told representing millions of members.  Sotomayor has participated in few environmental cases.  On one such case she wrote “a careful 80-page opinion upholding critical Clean Water Act safeguards”.  The letter characterized this decision as “methodically analyzing and resolving various conservation, state, and industry challenges to a regulation designed to protect fish from being killed in the cooling water intake structures of large power plants…her decision reflects well-researched, thorough and thoughtful legal analysis that probes the statute, its context, legislative history and judicial precedent to discern and remain true to congressional intent.”  Environmental groups also praised her preparation and deep engagement of complex issues on a power plant greenhouse gas emissions case.

Glenn Sugameli, senior policy counsel at Earthjustice and head of Judging the Environment, an Earthjustice judicial nominations program, said Sotomayor “brings to the bench the most federal judicial experience in 100 years”.  “As recent, closely divided decisions demonstrate,” Sugameli added, “ the Supreme Court is playing a crucial role in environmental protections.”  Sugameli said he expects Sotomayor will bring fairness, careful attention to and understanding of environmental and related statutes, and thoughtful review of complex legal issues.

Recent Supreme Court decisions on environmental issues have affected environmental protections.  In Rapanos v. United States (2006), water quality protections for some intermittent streams and isolated wetlands were weakened, leading to ambiguous implementation policies by federal agencies.  In Massachusetts v. EPA (2007), CO2 was ruled a pollutant subject to regulation by federal agencies.  Coeur Alaska, Inc. v. Southeast Alaska Conservation Council et al. (2009) stated that the Clean Water Act allows a mining company to essentially to dump hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic wastewater slurry per day into an Alaskan lake, with fatal consequences for aquatic life.  This last ruling has implications for other waterways across the country, and overturned an appeals court finding that the company was in clear violation of the Clean Water Act, according to Earthjustice.

Gun rights organizations oppose Sotomayor’s nomination.  In Maloney v. Cuomo, Sotomayor said the Second Amendment is not a fundamental right, it does not apply to states, and if an object is “designed primarily as a weapon, that is a sufficient basis for total prohibition even within the home”.  The pro-life movement also opposes Sotomayor’s nomination.  The Democratic National Committee, on the other hand has seen widespread grassroots support of Sotomayor from citizens across the country.  Democractic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine said “Her experience in the American judicial system, coupled with her inspiring life story and fierce intellect, make her uniquely qualified”.

Environment groups find less support on court—Adam Liptak, The New York Times, 7/3/09

Of the five environmental law cases heard by the end of the latest term, environmental groups lost.  Richard J. Lazarus, a director of the Supreme Court Institute at Georgetown University Law Center called it “the worst term ever” for environmental interests.  Navy exercises using sonar that threaten whales off California were allowed.  Liabilities of companies partly responsible for toxic spills were limited.  Forest Service regulations were made harder to challenge, dumping mining waste in an Alaskan lake was OK’d and the EPA was granted the right to use cost-benefit analysis to decide the threshold of marine life killed by power plant cooling intakes.

Douglas Kendall, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, a liberal research organization and law firm, attributed the pro-business tendency to shifts in the court makeup in 2005 and 2006, when chief justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. were appointed respectively.  Alito replaced Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who often voted for environmental interests and grew up on the Lazy B ranch in the high desert wilderness of Arizona and New Mexico.  In her 2005 memoir Lazy B, O’Connor said “We experienced nature in an intimate way…We learned to respect the environment.”  O’Connor’s loss is attributed significantly to the latest anti-environmental rulings.  On the other hand, due to Justice Roberts’ tendency to expand executive power in principle, the latest cases may leave the Obama Administration with additional discretion over issues similar to those deliberated in the latest Supreme Court session.

Less certain is how implementation of new legislation, such as the new climate change bill, will fall out.  Many legal issues are expected to develop when such legislation is implemented, some of which will find their way to the Supreme Court.  Questions over whether the court will be more pro-business or pro-government have yet to be decided.  While Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is often the swing vote, one legal expert noted that he has been in the majority of all but one of the more than 50 environmental cases heard since 1988, when he was appointed.  Justice Kennedy is noted for a sporadic receptivity to environmental arguments, especially those receptive to states’ rights and those that do not throw out rules on which businesses rely.  This year has been an exception.

Businesses may be hiring Supreme Court savvy specialists who can tailor their cases to appeal to Justices Kennedy and Breyer.  All five of the last term’s cases had been won for environmentalists in lower appeals courts, including four from the 9th Circuit appeals court in San Francisco, which is considered by many to be liberal.  Judge Sotomayor wrote the fifth decision while in the 2nd Circuit appeals court in New York.  If Sotomayor is appointed, she will replace Justice David H. Souter, a New Hampshire hiker and outdoorsman who has tended to vote in favor of environmental interests.  Justice Souter dissented in the recent Supreme Court case that involved cost-benefit analysis by the EPA, a case that Sotomayor decided earlier on appeal.

Patrick A. Parenteau, an environmental law professor at Vermont Law School, noted that the latest Supreme Court decisions failed to include extended discussions of environmental consequences.  “The lesson from this,” Parenteau said, “is to do everything you can to keep environmental cases out of this court.”

Is the climate bill good for black America?—The Grio, Climate Crossroads Blog, The Sierra Club, 7/1/09

The climate bill in question is the American Climate and Security Act (ACES).  The bill, which narrowly passed a house vote, raises the renewable energy standard for utilities to 20% of electricity demand by 2020, puts a price on CO2 emissions and sets up a cap and trade system where the federal government would issue or auction emissions permits, and sets new energy efficiency standards for industries, buildings and appliances would be established, according to The Grio.  The bill must pass through the Senate and be signed by President Barack Obama before it can become law.

Concerns have been raised about how the bill would affect African-Americans.  Republicans say the legislation will raise utility bill prices for low-income households, and Rep. Artur Davis D-AL, “who is black, bucked his party by voting against it, citing jobs.”  While Davis’ district is predominantly black, and high percentages of low-income families in the US are African- and Latino-American, The Grio said most concerns are unfounded.

The Grio noted that if Republican claims were true, poor families would be hurt disproportionately, including the 24.7% of African-Americans below the poverty line—largest of any race but Native Americans.  The Grio sided with EPA and Congressional Budget Office  (CBO) projections that found “utility expenses from climate regulations would only cost families $175 a year on average by 2020.”  The CBO actually found poor families would save $40 in expenses.  The cap and trade program additionally would generate a surplus fund which could be used to offset the poorest Americans’ expenses with tax credits and rebates.

Environmental justice advocates are concerned greenhouse gas capping policies won’t address local pollutants, disproportionately affecting the health of minorities.  “African Americans are more likely than any other race to live within close proximity to a facility with toxic emissions, regardless of income.  Black children have alarmingly high asthma rates and black adults have remarkably high cancer rates and risks.”  In many instances, blacks live in neighborhoods with harmful levels of airborne soot, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and carcinogens like benzene.  Primary sources include waste centers, refineries, petrochemical plants, diesel trucks and other sources often located near black communities.  Cap and trade would pressure businesses to use better carbon emission technology, and co-pollutants like those listed above could be trapped or eliminated.  Still, offsets could be used by a company in a way that doesn’t impact local emissions at all, such as investing in a reforestation project in Brazil.  “[A] black family in Port Arthur, Texas that lives next to an Exxon plant that is investing its pollution permits in Brazil would continue to suffer, as opposed to if Exxon just invested in technology that would stop its own emissions.  The offsets provisions are a real issue black Americans should be wary of.”

With a 14.9% unemployment rate, the highest of any race and the highest since the mid-1980’s, jobs are a critical concern.  Rep. Davis said he was voting against ACES because it would put manufacturing companies out of business in Alabama, though he is also running for governor and rising job loss would affect his standing in the polls as well.  Still, new emerging industries created in part by federal financial incentives in ACES would offer green jobs as a replacement, if the bill is not watered down on its route through the Senate.  The current $190 billion in subsidies for new businesses, technology, research and development must be maintained or increased to ensure African Americans—who will be hit hardest—don’t lose job opportunities.

The current ACES bill entering the Senate process seems sufficient to protect African Americans from gas bill price hikes, but the question still remains whether the Senate will “give businesses free passes to continue polluting but not enough financial rewards to keep employment sustainable.”  Regardless, what the House has sent to the Senate is better than no regulation and accountability for carbon emissions at all—“which is what businesses had for centuries while communities paid for it with their health and lives, as global warming-related disasters like Hurricane Katrina showed”.

ESR Editor’s Note: describes itself as “the first video-centric news community site devoted to providing African-Americans with stories and perspectives that appeal to them but are underrepresented in existing national news outlets.  Grio comes from “griot…a storyteller in western Africa who maintains the oral tradition and history of a village or family.

Utah to get $1.9 million for underground tanks—AP, SLT 7/13/09

The federal stimulus funds will clean up leaks from underground storage tanks that have stored petroleum and other hazardous substances.  The hope is that this will prevent seepage of petroleum and hazardous chemicals into groundwater.

Yucca transport safety study will proceed—AP, SLT 7/13/09

The $200,000 Clark County, Nevada sponsored study will evaluate risks for transporting nuclear waste to the proposed Yucca Mountain repository, though Energy Secretary Steven Chu has said the project is no longer an option for nuclear waste storage.  County officials said they want as much information as possible to keep the dump from ever opening.  The study will review rail and truck corridors that would be used to import high-level nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain, should policy change.  The repository is prepared to hold 77,000 tons of waste, and routes would travel through Las Vegas.

Moratorium sought in Utah on depleted uranium—Brock Vergakis, AP, SLT 7/13/09

HEAL Utah, the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah, has sought the moratorium, and the Utah Radiation Control Board will meet Thursday to discuss the proposal.  Depleted uranium is classified as the least dangerous of low-level radioactive waste, and EnergySolutions has been disposing of it in its facility 70 miles west of Salt Lake City for 18 years.  Notably, however, depleted uranium becomes more radioactive over time, and has a half-life of hundreds of thousands of years.  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has recently begun requiring additional safeguards for disposal of large amounts of depleted uranium, though rules won’t be finalized for as long as several years.  EnergySolutions contends it has safely handled depleted uranium in the past and no valid reason prevents the internment of more, estimating that 46,000 metric tons will be ready for disposal from Department of Energy sites over the next five years.  To halt import and disposal at its site in Utah would adversely affect cleanup of toxic sites, according to a company spokesman.  If the moratorium is allowed, waste may be stored on site where it was generated, or be shipped to a new facility near the Texas-New Mexico border that will begin accepting low-level radioactive waste in 2010.

Wildfire near Panguitch has grown to 2,600 acres—SLT 7/13/09

The fire is about 25% contained.  North and west sides were burning hottest on Sunday.  A Dixie National Forest spokesman said hot temps and low humidity could make fighting the fire even more difficult this week.  While the blaze, started by lightning on July 2 and left to burn for the health of the forest, originally remained in control, strategy changed after strong, dry winds kicked up on Thursday.

Utah records show history of Logan canal problems—Matthew D. LaPlante, Maria Villasenor, SLT 7/12/09

Dozens of times over the past 100 years, landslides have swept homes and threatened lives on Canyon Road just south of Utah State University.  According to state geological records, the Logan Northern Canal has been to blame.  Still, canal inspection has been left by local and state authorities to the canal’s private shareholders.  No government agency currently checks up on such inspections.  Emergency officials attributed Saturday’s slide at 915 E. Canyon Road to natural springs that run under the canal.  Logan police Chief Russ Roper has ruled out a criminal investigation of the company that runs the canal, declaring the tragedy “an act of nature”.  Laura Andrade, a resident at 915 E. Canyon Road in the 1980’s, said the canal broke several times while she lived there, one such break sending  mud and water into the back bedrooms of the house.  Andrade also recalled filling sandbags to save a neighbor’s home during one slide.  Andrade was a young renter at the time, and didn’t believe she could complain.

Jlene Hansen, a Logan local who also has suffered property damage from slides, has voiced concern over Logan’s historic canals for years, but may have done nothing but earn herself a reputation as a crazy woman, she said.  Records of slides blamed on the canal go back to 1899 according to the Utah Geological Survey.  Saturday’s slide left Jackeline Leavey, her son Victor and daughter Abbey, who had only recently moved into the neighborhood, missing and presumably killed.  Neighbors have complained that nothing is in place to warn homebuyers and residents of the risks involved with the canal.  The canal runs behind hundreds of homes on Canyon Road, and earlier breaches happened as recently as 2005.

The canal was drained following Saturday’s slide, and several areas below the water line reveal concrete is eroding into rubble, and vertical and diagonal cracks line some sections.  In some areas the ditch’s walls are bulging under the weight of the northern hillside.  While the water commissioner of the Logan River Colleeen Gnehm was interviewed, she said her jurisdiction ends at the start of the canal system.  The canal had been inspected by its owners two weeks before the break.  Her confidence in the inspection procedures was counterbalanced by the fact that no government oversight or standards enforcement exists, beyond the possibility of the canal’s insurance requirements.

Signs that the canal would breach began with a trickle past the home on Canyon Road that residents noticed days before.  Many residents had called the Logan public works department to complain of water on the road.  Crews traced the water to a spring, and said they couldn’t do anything about it without locating the property owner.  The water on the road was notably a chocolate color, according to one resident, and couldn’t have come from a spring.  Logan public works director Mark Nielsen said the evidence showed the area underneath the canal broke before the concrete channel did.  His theory is a landslide swept the destroyed home before deluging it with water from the canal.  A resident whose house was damaged in Saturday’s slide said he awoke to a loud boom and saw a rush of water and debris pouring down the hillside.  Another resident noted that in the 25 years he had lived there, at least five landslides had occurred in the same block where the recent slide fell.  Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert was on hand after the slide, and expressed concern that something needed to be done to address the overarching problem.

Stimulus funds bring clean water to Indian Country—Felicia Fonseca, AP, SLT 7/10/09

Currently for example, around 100 Navajo Nation residents around Sweetwater, Arizona drive 12 miles twice a week with 55-gallon drums over a rugged and unpaved road to Red Mesa for water.  Sources closer to home exceed standards for arsenic.  The EPA announced Thursday that $90 million in funding will help eliminate unsafe water sources, build infrastructure and create jobs in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.  Almost 10% of tribal community homes lack access to safe drinking water.  Tribal members drive long distances to haul water or rely on contaminated or unregulated sources.  Less than 1% of non-Native homes are without safe drinking water in the US, according to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.  95 wastewater and 64 drinking water projects will benefit 30,000 homes.  Alaskan tribal communities will get $28 million, and the Navajo Nation in the Four Corners area will get $13.3 million, serving 4,577 homes and 30 projects.  Projects include septic tank and drainfield upgrades and wastewater treatment facilities.  $3.1 million will go to the first phase of a water pipeline from Shiprock, N.M. to Sweetwater, serving 1,900 reservation homes where 30 percent of residents don’t have safe, immediately accessible drinking water.  Sweetwater tribal residents have faced increased vehicle degradation, frozen water and crowds in their year-round weekly treks for water.  Alaskan tribal communities face additional issues of remoteness and frozen water, making infrastructure development difficult.

Summertime, and the breathin’ ain’t easy—Judy Fahys, SLT 7/10/09

The Salt Lake City Office of Sustainability noted that vehicle pollution accounts for half the Wasatch Front’s summer smog, and eliminating idling a good pollution-reducing action.  Ozone particularly affects the very young, the very old, and people with asthma, heart and lung problems.  Heavy physical exertion during high-pollution periods like sunny summer afternoons when the sun reacts with auto emissions at the greatest intensity can result in tightness in the chest, coughing and throat irritation, and a lowered resistance to illness.  Studies show idling more than 10 seconds costs more gas than restarting a vehicle.  Parking and walking, biking, taking the transit or carpooling are even better choices for cleaner air.  Drive-thru windows are discouraged.

After wet June, Utah fire season burns 2,100 acres—Mike Stark, AP, NowUtah 7/11/09

Though fire season was delayed by a wet June, the added moisture boosted cheatgrass and other small fuels that dry out and burn fast.  Lightning has caused most of the recent fires, which have burned away from developed areas.  The National Weather Service issued a ‘red flag’ warning for central and southern Utah on Friday, due to hot, dry and windy conditions especially at lower elevations.  Most fires are being allowed to burn for ecosystem benefit, except for the largest, the Horse Valley fire, which has burned about 1,100 acres just north of Panguitch Lake.  Winds and high temperatures changed firefighting strategy from passive to active on Thursday.  A Dixie National forest spokeswoman said the southern portion of the fire is still being allowed to burn to benefit the local forest.  While Utah’s fire season is running behind 2-4 weeks, BLM fire prediction meteorologist Ed Delgado said the next six to eight weeks could be active, but likely not above average.  Federal fire officials reported 28,000 acres burned across Utah last year.

What are Resilient Habitats?—Climate Crossroads, The Sierra Club 7/9-10/09

From an interview on the hidden impacts of global warming in our countries wild places and the creation of resilient habitats with Bruce Hamilton, Sierra Club Deputy Executive Director and outdoors expert, in two parts.

Hamilton said in terms of parks and open spaces, changes in ecosystems are already occurring, including global warming-related extinctions. “[I]t’s something that’s expected to accelerate dramatically.”  The vast majority of extinctions are happening and projected to happen at the poles and tropics.  Shifts are taking place, however, in the US as well, for example the Edith’s checkerspot butterfly in Baja California, which is migrating north due to rising temperatures.  Its migration is landing the species around Tijuana, San Diego and the Southern California metropolis, poor habitat that is causing the butterfly population to crash.

Phenology is also changing for species.  plants bloom earlier, insects hatch or emerge earlier in the spring, birds migrate later in the fall and come back later in the spring, or are not migrating at all.  Meanwhile, as these changes are expected to accelerate for several decades, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says even if we cut 80% of carbon emissions by 2050, 20-30% of species studied to date at an increased risk of extinction, greater than the mass extinction that ended the era of dinosaurs.

The Sierra Club’s Resilient Habitats campaign attempts to create habitat that species within an ecosystem can survive even with an increase in temperature change or other global warming results:  severe weather, fire, drought.  The goal is to increase the chances of survival for protected ecosystem species.  Small parks and preserves currently don’t offer that kind of protection.  There is nowhere for species to go.  Larger areas offer opportunities for movement within the ecosystem upslope or north.  Space has to be available unimpeded by highways or subdivisions.  This makes corridors that link protected spaces vital to protection.

Reducing stresses on species is another aspect of protection from global warming.  Trout for instance have a narrow range of tolerable temperatures as a cold-water species.  Slight increases in temperature are however tolerable if the water is cleaner.  Otherwise, pesticides and fertilizers combined with warming water temperatures are a double-whammy.  Many of these kinds of intricate questions must be informed by independent scientists, non-governmental organizations with staff scientists who specialize in species under consideration, people in universities and government biologists.

Because land-management agencies are more structured and bureaucratic, the challenge in implementing a more holistic approach like habitat resiliency is to get them to understand, accept and recognize the problem.  Traditional responses have included putting solar collectors on visitors centers in national parks, which is great but doesn’t address the big issue and “their responsibility with what happens when an entire ecosystem starts to collapse.”  One of the problems with forest service, Bureau of Land Management and parks service land management plans is that they are generally completed in isolation from one another, and are in place for several years.  “Right now every one of those plans presumes that there is a static climate”.  Dramatic shifts for trees on those managed lands because of bark beetle or drought or migration isn’t currently considered.

While previously Forest Service plans for example have maximized timber production, water yield and grazing, land management agencies should be asking “How can I preserve the ecosystem to avoid extinction?  How can I sequester as much carbon as possible on the land under my jurisdiction?  And how do I cooperate with the land management agencies right next to me so that we can co-manage our land in a way to have enough land under joint jurisdiction to ensure the survivability of species?”  The Resilient Habitat program aims to plan on an ecosystem by ecosystem basis.  “We want to develop the best science available that will tell us what to do.  And we want to lobby all of the land jurisdictions within that ecosystem—federal, state, tribal, private—and try to get them to all cooperate and come up with a symbiotic land-management plan that addresses adaptation.”

Part 2

Bruce Hamilton, Deputy Executive Director of the Sierra Club says the best way to address climate change skepticism is to begin by identifying local symptoms, such as maple trees in New England migrating north, where an oak-hickory forest is predicted to replace maple syrup bearing trees.  New England moose, a favorite for big game hunters, too are expected to migrate north, and projections for New England’s bull trout from their own fish and game department are expected to fall by 90%, deeply affecting New England’s anglers.  Fishing already is affected by summer closures in New England due to warm waters stressing fish.

Iconic landscapes like the Everglades, Yellowstone, North Cascade Park and Joshua Tree National Park are easy for skeptics to identify with.  Hamilton suggests discussing the changes already going on at places like these and the drastic changes expected to occur.   From here, the question arises of what can be done.  For example, in Glacier National Park, the glaciers can’t be prevented from melting, but mountain goats, pikas and wolverines may hold some hope for protection.  The Joshua trees at Joshua Tree National Park are all expected to die out, but farther north, in unprotected lands, the trees are expected to migrate.  Can some form of protection be implemented further north to protect Joshua trees?   Hunters, fishermen and those dependent on the tourist industry have a financial stake in the outcome of global warming impacts.  “I think we have an obligation as stewards of the land to make sure we are not causing the next extinction crisis.”

To ensure the Resilient Habitats program, a massive educational program inside the Sierra Club needs to take place, within the conservation community, that expands to decision makers, so they know what problems need to be addressed.  We need an awakening to the extinction crisis on the level of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. All of the land management agencies need to address climate change in their next round of management plans.  Citizens—hunters, anglers, people of faith, Sierra Club members, gun and rod clubs, Rotary clubs, anyone passionate about wild places, nature and parks—must demand that these land management plans address climate change.

The Sierra Club is focusing on areas where traditionally a strong organizing presence has existed, land and water protection, the Everglades, Great Lakes, Maine woods, California coast, greater Yellowstone ecosystem, the Arctic, the Pacific Northwest, the Colorado plateau.  “Those are the places we are going to prove how resilient habitats work, get agencies to adopt the idea, and then shine a bright light on that.”

Butters:  Getting to the heart of ‘green’:  Shop less, buy used—MaryJane Butters, SLT 7/11/09

MaryJane Butters says “going green” originated as a grass-roots effort at a natural and simple life:  eating what you or your neighbors grew, avoiding chemicals, reducing and re-using, staying grounded in an age of “marketing mania”.  The recent Conscious Consumer Report studying purchasing behavior and social values by BBMG, a national green marketing firm, found 67% of Americans agree that “even in tough economic times, it is important to purchase products with social and environmental benefits”.  Still, the green revolution has led to a mushrooming of green products and services, –and greenwashing, leaving  the “shop green” fad “counterintuitive to the original vision of natural living”.  Butters goes on to say that the more we buy, the more we impact the Earth in a negative way, especially with nonessential items or throwing out functional items for newer, greener items.

The best way to shop green, Butters advises, is to shop as little as possible.  Returning to reducing, reusing and recycling are “surefire solutions to our planet’s environmental crisis.  Every brand new product we buy comes with a hidden rap sheet of natural resource extraction, fuel usage, chemical conjuring and pollution effects.”  Buying used and buying local will undoubtedly shrink carbon footprints.  Butters recommends The Story of Stuff, a 20 minute video on the life cycle of material goods. With new products, reliable product certifications are valuable.  She recommends the Consumer Reports Greener Choices site for determining the reliability of certification programs.

Reputable certification labels

The Forest Stewardship Council:

Appliances—Energy Star:


Children’s products—Healthy Child Healthy World:

General products—Green Seal:


MBDC Cradle to Cradle:

Co-op America:

fair-trade Labeling Organization International:


On the Bush Administration’s controversial energy corridor plan

Scrap corridor plan—Tribune Editorial, SLT 7/10/09

Salt Lake City’s plan for bicyclists needs work—Chad Mullins, SLT 7/10/09

Roundup Friday July 10, 2009

G8 climate pact lights up divisions—Earth Watch blog with BBC environment correspondent Richard Black, 7/9/09

Remarking on Thursday’s meeting with developing nations at the G8 summit, Black said the G8 nations had not persuaded major developing countries to adopt numerical targets on reducing emissions.  At stake are sharp emissions cuts by 2020, and billions of dollars for green technology and protection against climate change impacts.  The Major Economies Forum, which took place Thursday, brings together the biggest greenhouse gas producers from both the developed and the developing world.  Black said the 2 degree consensus, that global warming must be held at or below 2 degrees Celsius or about 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit, would not have happened were President Bush still leading the US, and John Howard leading Australia.  The real forum for pledges is considered to be December’s UN summit in Copenhagen, where a comprehensive new global climate treaty is to be finalized.  Black accuses the G8 of raising expectations in their home countries that developing countries should adopt numerical targets.  His conspiracy theory suggests that if the Copenhagen process collapses, or fails to meet sufficient minimum standards, the G8 countries will have prepared to blame developing countries.  “The key discussions” Black reiterates “are about which bloc takes what level of responsibility for climate change, and who puts how much money on the table for what.”  The US and Japan still struggle to set short-term targets big enough to impress developing nations, and the new kind of international aid needed to tackle global climate change will not be forthcoming.  Many developing countries still find it anathema, Black said, to contemplate meaningful pledges on reducing their own emissions.

ESR Editor’s note:  The above blog commentary and the following press release from Tearfund on the G8 summit have been included to offer additional perspectives on the G8 summit beyond what is likely to turn up in mainstream American media.  The editor recognizes the questionability of newsworthiness of both blogs and press releases, but offers these two examples for the purposes of representing two viewpoints from other organizations attending the summit.

G8 display a staggering disregard for urgent action on climate finance—Tearfund Press Release 7/8/09

Tearfund said G8 leaders were in danger of squandering opportunities and plunging poor people into deeper climate chaos and poverty.  The multi-denominational religion-based organization that works on behalf of poverty said this was a crucial year for climate change commitment, and announcements by G8 countries—the countries responsible for causing the climate crisis—failed to match the level of ambition desperately needed.  Tearfund’s hope is that the Major Economies Forum will step up and announce stronger commitments.  While they welcomed the announcement of the need to keep the global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius or about 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as the 80 percent reduction of the G8 emissions by 2050 and the need to peak and decline emissions, Tearfund said “they failed to set an ambitious goal for 2020 emissions targets, and crucially there is no reference of the urgent need to deliver billions, not millions, for financing mitigation, adaptation and technology to help poor countries respond to climate change”.  The problem is adequate finance.  Tearfund is calling for developed countries to deliver funding in the range of $150 billion per year on top of Overseas Development Assistance, as well as ‘no strings’ new money to be distributed to poor countries before 2012.  Otherwise, Tearfund noted, relations between rich and poor nations could break down in trust, blocking sufficient progress towards a strong and fair climate deal.  In addition, Tearfund said, the 900 million people worldwide who go without clean water and the 2.5 billion without a decent toilet constitutes a failure to address injustice.  Tearfund’s spokesman asked, “how many of these leaders would have been happy to come here if they were told there would be no toilet facilities or clean water?

Ban criticizes G8 climate efforts—BBC News 7/9/09

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has criticized G8 industrial nations leaders for failing to make deeper commitments to combat climate change.  Though the leaders agreed on Wednesday to 80 percent emissions cuts by 2050, Ban said deeper cuts were needed now.  Meetings with emerging economies leaders has yet to take place.  G8 leaders agreed Wednesday to try to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit over pre-industrial levels.  Beyond, UN experts say the Earth’s climate system could become dangerously unstable.  The G8’s 80 percent cuts were for the richest nations, while 50 percent would be the standard recommended overall for the world by 2050.  Emerging nations appear to reluctant to join.  Ban advocated for a strong mid-term cut by 2020.  He called this “politically and morally imperative”.  Financial incentives for poorer countries to reduce pollution and mitigate the effects of climate change were also called for by Ban.  China’s leader has returned home to deal with domestic unrest, and India is balking at G8’s overly long long term ambitions, arguing 2020 targets would make the G8 more credible.

Turtles crawl on runway, delay flights at JFK—David B. Caruso, AP, SLT 7/9/09

At least 78 turtles from a nearby bay crowded onto the tarmac before ground crews rounded them up and returned them to the bay further from the airport.  Delays reached 1 ½ hours.  The turtles were identified as Diamondback terrapins, a species common to Jamaica bay, which surrounds the airport, usually about 8 inches long and weighing 2-3 pounds.  June and July have been noted for jets striking turtles at the airport.

Groups seek federal probe of N. Mexico wolf pup deaths—Susan Montoya Bryan, AP, SLT 7/9/09

The request comes after three endangered Mexican gray wolf pups were found dead in southwestern New Mexico.  Sixteen groups requested the inquiry in a letter sent to Interior Secretary Salazar.  At issue is whether human activity around the pups’ den could have provoked abandonment.

Utah Geological Survey looking for fissures—AP, SLT 7/9/09

UGS is mapping fissures near Enoch and parts of Cedar Valley in Iron County as an indication of changes in aquifers below from water withdrawal and a declining water table.

Visit UGS

Montana, Idaho ready for first open wolf hunts—Matthew Brown, AP, SLT 7/8/09

On the heels of the wolf’s delisting from the endangered list across much of the Northern Rockies, the two western states intend to host the first open gray wolf hunts in the continental US.  75 wolves, or 15 percent of Montana’s population, will be legally huntable come September, while Idaho has not yet set a quota, though a prior plan allowed for hunting close to 250 wolves.  Environmentalists are expected to file legal challenges on the argument that wolves could again be driven to extinction.  State wildlife managers advocated for the quotas as “crucial to keeping the fast-breeding predators in check and to limit attacks on sheep and calves”.  Montana’s lead wolf biologist Carolyn Sime said without hunting or other management, “you either eliminate all the wolves or you eliminate all the livestock”.  Wolves have a long history from Alaska to Mexico that led to near extinction from hunting, trapping and government-sponsored poisoning in the lower 48 states by the 1930s.  66 Canadian wolves were relocated to Idaho and Wyoming in the mid-1990’s.  Removal from the endangered species list began last year, though they were reinstated.  A small number were legally hunted during that time in Wyoming.  1,350 wolves are estimated living in Idaho and Montana.  300 remain under federal protection in Wyoming due to a state law considered hostile to wolves.  Wyoming is challenging the decision arguing that the state is entitled to manage wolves.  Alaska has as many as 11,200 wolves, where hunting apparently doesn’t diminish their numbers, and the gray wolf was never listed as an endangered species.

LDS Church-owned Florida ranch gets environmental stewardship award—SLT 7/8/09

LDS Church-owned Deseret Cattle and Citrus, a 290,000 acre cattle ranch in Orange, Osceola and Brevard counties, has received the award from the Florida Cattleman’s Association.  Ranch general manager Erick Jacobsen noted that the ranch has resisted selling off portions of its holdings to developers, and expects the ranch will play an important role in the future of Central Florida.  Key to regional stewardship for Jackson and other area land use planners and managers is ways to support growth on less land, connecting the region’s economic centers, preservation of key natural areas, strong community support and continuing agriculture.

State investigates second bear killing in Utah County—Donald W. Meyers and Tom Wharton, SLT 7/8/09

Routine investigations concerning last week’s shooting of a black bear in Hobble Creek Canyon Campgrounds by a campground host and another by a cabin owner in the South Fork of Provo Canyon by the Division of Wildlife Resources will allow the Utah County Attorney to determine whether the killings were justified.  “If a bear is threatening you and you feel concerned for your safety or the safety of others, shooting is absolutely justified,” a spokesman for DWR said.   The cabin owner, a veterinarian, tried running the bear off, but it wouldn’t budge, and seemed aggressive.  In the four years the cabin owner has been in Provo Canyon, he’s only had three black bear sightings, all in the last month.  DWR reminds citizens that the best line of action is to remove yourself from harm’s way and call the DWR.  “Unless you can show you were in danger, it is illegal to be shooting these bears.  People put in for a draw to have that privilege.  We would rather take them through a sport harvest,” the spokesman said.

Precious Great Salt Lake bird habitat alive after 2,600 years—Tom Wharton, SLT 7/8/09

The National Audobon Society opened floodgates on the 2,738 acre South Shore Preserve, which encompasses the original Jordan River channel delta.  2,600 years ago the channel moved to Farmington Bay, and the original delta dried out.  The South Shore Preserve groups Kennecott’s Inland Sea Shorebird Reserve, a wetlands built by Salt Lake International Airport to mitigate wetlands lost to a third runway, private duck clubs and Audubon’s Lee Creek area.  Currently only the Lee Creek area is open to the public.  Preservation partners included local governments, conservation organizations, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, hunters and private landowner Rio Tinto.  Ducks Unlimited provided engineering and helped supply building materials.  The U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service provided $190,000 for the project, advice and construction oversight.  Additional land purchases were made by the Utah Reclamation and Mitigation Commission with the Nature Conservancy.  Birds that will enjoy the benefit of additional wetlands include stilts, avocets, white-faced ibises, curlews and Wilson’s phalarope.  Millions of migratory birds use the Great Salt Wetlands as they travel as far north as Canada, as far south as the tip of South America.

Utah tribes getting stimulus cash for water projects—Kristen Moulton, SLT 7/8/09

The Skull Valley Band of the Goshutes will receive $193,900 to upgrade drinking water supplies and the Ute Indian Tribe will receive $139,580 for water infrastructure.  The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, with lands in Utah and Colorado, will receive $902,080.  Projects will ensure public health, improve water quality and create jobs.  Overall, $90 million has been appropriated to tribal communities from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, specifically for projects considered “shovel ready”.  20 percent of the money also must be used for “green” infrastructure, water and energy efficiency improvements and additional environmentally innovative projects.

House passes Utah land swap bill—Thomas Burr, SLT 7/8/09

The US House of Representatives moved unanimously to allow the 40,000 acre swap of federal parcels in Utah for state trust lands that checker sensitive areas.  Rep. Jim Matheson D-UT, sponsor of the bill, said the legislation would help the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) manage its lands to yield higher revenues for Utah schools, and could serve as a model for future land exchanges.  The proposal is “…mindful of hunting and other public access opportunities and a better configuration for land managers to protect habitat, watershed and recreational values,” Matheson added.  The trade, between SITLA and the BLM, will offer SITLA lands in Grand and San Juan counties for BLM parcels in Uintah County, where oil and natural gas production could occur.  The bill, which has yet to pass the senate, has been introduced twice previously without joint passage.  Even after the bill passes, the swap would be delayed until evaluation of parcels leads to a fair trade.

Hatch, Pickens join to push natural-gas cars—Thomas Burr, SLT 7/8/09

Hatch, T. Boone Pickens, Senate Majority Leader Harry Read and Senator Bob Mendez D-NJ all support the bill, which would extend natural-gas vehicle tax credits for 10 years, credits for refueling outlets and vehicle conversions as well.  States and local governments could bond to finance natural-gas vehicle projects, and natural-gas vehicle manufacturing plants could write off 100 percent of plant building costs.  Pickens’ desire—fueling wind, solar and natural gas promotion—is to curb fossil energy dependence on “less than friendly” countries.  Hatch sponsored the successful 2005 CLEAR ACT—Clean Efficient Automobiles Resulting from Advanced Car Technologies—which promoted production and purchase of hybrid vehicles.  Hatch said “I’ve been less pleased with the growth of natural gas as a transportation fuel…we need…more natural gas vehicles on our roads”.

Utah’s environmental, health data linked online—Andrew Maddocks, SLT 7/8/09

The Environmental Public Health Tracking Network links information on environmental hazards in the state with data on residents’ chronic health conditions, and is expected to expand nationwide.  Utah is one of the first states to join the network utilizing data supplied by Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Utah Birth Defects Network and Utah Center for Health Data, among others.  The Utah Department of Health has compiled data since a 2004 Center for Disease Control funding award.  The network will be especially helpful in rapidly tracking environmental influences on health problems.  Environmental data in the database includes air and water pollutants and information about chronic conditions such as asthma, cancer, childhood lead poisoning and heart disease.  A CDC spokesman said the union of illness information and environmental data could improve the proof or disproof of links between specific environments and correlated illnesses.

View the tracking network

Fire closes part of West Rim Trail in Zion National Park—SLT 7/7/09

The 20-acre Horse Fire, first noticed Tuesday afternoon and believed to be started by lightning on the Fourth, has led to closure of the trail from Lava Point to Potato Hollow.

Groups sue to stop Bush plan for Western energy corridors—Patty Henetz, SLT 7/8/09

The Bush administration era plan for energy corridors across 11 Western states as mandated in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 favors coal over renewables conservation groups say.  The lawsuit filed by a coalition including Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance alleges the 6,000 miles of energy corridors excluded proper analysis of renewable-resource locations and numerous federal and local land-use plans.  Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and heads of three federal land-management agencies are named.  One such proposed corridor is three to six miles wide and runs past the entrance to Arches National Park as well as through narrow Moab Canyon to the south.  The BLM has changed the corridor plan to avoid some wilderness areas, but the Utah maps remain unchanged.  Fourteen of the corridors are laid out in Utah, from 2/3 of a mile to four miles wide.  Each corridor could hold as many as 9 electric lines, 35 petroleum and 29 natural gas pipelines.  The programmatic environmental impact statement for the corridors overrides resource management plans, which are specific to regions and cultivate years of environmental impact study into a 20 year management plan.  Facilities for the corridors would still be required to undergo environmental impact assessments and public comment.  As an alternative to the corridor plan, plaintiffs in the lawsuit point to the Western Governor’s Association Western Renewable Energy Zone Initiative.

See maps of the disputed corridors:

Plug is pulled on Delta coal plant—Judy Fahys, SLT 7/8/09

The plan for a third coal-fired power plant at Intermountain Power Project near Delta west of I-15 and Fillmore in central western Utah has been killed.  The Intermountain Power Agency will let the air-quality permit for the proposed third unit expire.  IPA said they would focus on other options for the site.  A spokesman further affirmed that if another coal-based proposal were to arise, its process would start from the beginning.  The Sierra Club has had a lawsuit in court appealing the air quality permit for the 900-megawatt generation station on hold while a breach-of-contract suit between Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, IPA and the Utah Associated Municipal Power System—all of which held a stake in the plant.  That suit was settled in June.  While this left the possibility open for UAMPS to defend the air quality permit issue filed by The Sierra Club, the suit filed by the organization alleged the permit should not have been granted.  At issue is visibility in national parks including Capitol Reef that could be impaired due to emissions.  The plant’s design did not incorporate the latest clean-coal technology.  Tim Wagner, former director of the Sierra Club’s smart energy campaign said the result is typical of an emerging pattern in the last few years, where 100 of 150 coal-fired plant proposals in the US have been permanently or indefinitely shelved.  The plants spew enormous CO2 emissions and pepper waterways with mercury pollution.  Two Utah plant proposals remain:  the 270-megawatt Sevier Power station in Sigurd, also challenged by the Sierra Club, and the 86-megawatt Bonanza Plant near Vernal.  In a sign of the trend, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Los Angeles would completely wean its 1.45 million customers from coal-fired power by 2010.

Gardening:  Follow established landscaping strategies to incorporate native plants—Maggie Wolf, SLT, 7/7/09

Native plant watering and caretaking are less familiar and documented since native species have only been commercially available for about 10 years.  Wolf’s recommendation is to be prepared to experiment, observe, compromise and adapt.  Traditional strategies to incorporate include:  setting priorities for the functions of the intended landscape; observe and analyze the site’s sun exposure, slope, existing plants, attributes and limitations; know each plants’ preferred ecosphere; group plants with similar irrigation preferences; buy native plants from a reputable dealer; read up your plants of choice; collect plants from the wild only with permission from landowner or government agency; buy smaller rather than larger plants; loosen, don’t amend the soil, since intermountain natives tolerate low organic matter and high pH soil.

Sites of interest recommended by Maggie Wolf, certified professional horticulturist:

Find local native plant dealers

For inspiration:

Red Butte Gardens

Conservation Garden Park

Central Utah Virtual Garden

Sego Lily Garden

Utah Botanical Center

Salt Lake City drives toward car sharing—Rosemary Winters, SLT, 7/7/09

Salt Lake City, the Utah Transit Authority and the University of Utah have teamed up to bring U Car Share to the city, a subsidiary of Phoenix-based U-Haul.   An ordinance must be developed by the city along with a contract with U Car Share that allows the company’s cars to be parked in public spots.  Portland, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh already offer similar programs that rent cars to those who use mass transit, bikes or walking, but occasionally need a vehicle.  Formal vote by city council will take place next week.  If things go as planned, U Car Share would be in operation by the end of October.  The first year would see 12-20 cars throughout the city.  An additional four cars would park at the U, four others at the Salt Lake Central and Ballpark trax stations.  Fees include a one-time $50 registration fee and $8-$12 hourly.  Cost would include gas and insurance.

First blades attached at Utah wind farm—AP, SLT, 7/7/09

Blades are going up on the first of 97 planned turbines at the wind farm near Milford, Utah, west of I-15 and Beaver in central western Utah.  First Wind LLC expects the project to be finished by mid-November, generating 300-megawatts of electricity, destined for California.

Feds seize looted American Indian artifacts from Redds’ home—Brandon Loomis, SLT 7/7/09

The artifacts were removed from the late Dr. James and Jeanne Redd’s home Tuesday by federal agents and archaeologists.  Artifacts were packed and shipped to BLM offices in Salt Lake City.  Many Blanding and San Juan County residents have bitterly contested what they believe to be heavy-handedness by the FBI over the possession and distribution of the artifacts allegedly taken from protected federal lands.  BLM special agent Dan Barnes said “he frequently encounters southern Utahns who believe artifact collection or petroglyph vandalism on the public lands is innocent fun”, though outlawed by the Antiquities Act of 1906.  Barnes said one problem was the plentitude of artifacts found in plain sight on the public lands.  James, wife Jeanne and daughter Jericca Redd all were indicted on felony artifact trafficking charges.  Confiscated relics included pottery, grindstones and sandals, some apparently from ancient Anasazi and Navajo burials.  The BLM’s National Curator Emily Palus said whole clay pots and other items are rarely found completely intact except in burials.  Repatriation of the items to tribes of origin must be offered by law.  Some may go to the Utah Museum of Natural History or Edge of the Cedars State Park in Blanding.   The Redds had previous charges for illegal possession of artifacts.  Locals say their experiences with the longtime physician James Redd suggested a caring man.

Organic clothing line takes off in Utah—Brooke Adams, SLT, 7/6/09

The Green Element, a new line of T-shirts, hoodies, hats and women’s underwear all made of organic cotton and water-based inks, is now available at local summer markets and three Utah retail stores thanks to green entrepreneurs Brittany Olsen and Havilah Mills.  The two have plans to expand to Portland, Ore., and Denver, Colo.  They are as concerned about selling the organic cotton ethic as selling stylish clothes.  Mills said “we want it to just become part of your purchasing behavior.”  Their entrepreneurial pathway they claim is in part an outgrowth of their generation as well as the product of nurturing family environments.  Key goals that emerged from a walkabout in Europe after graduating from the University of Utah in 2006 were the desire to make a difference, “to help their community, help people be more healthy and contribute to the health of the planet”.  After initially considering an organic café, Mills hit on the idea of an organic, eco-friendly clothing line after frustrated attempts to find organic, sweatshop-free, fair trade, local clothing that spoke directly to who they are.  Price was another issue.

Organic cotton has not been genetically modified or grown with chemical fertilizers or pesticides.  The Organic Trade Association noted a 26 percent rise in production of organic fiber linens and clothing from 2005-2006.  Patagonia’s lead in 1996, converting its sportswear line to organically grown cotton, has been followed up by American Apparel.  The Green Element’s line is based on organic cotton and inks from California, with designs from local artists including Mills’ own designs.  While they continue their day jobs—Olsen a marketing manager at the Gateway Mall, Mills director of operations for the nonprofit Save Our Canyons, their passion extends to fulfilling their entrepreneurial dreams and educational mission.  Speaking of one woman who said after her first purchase she was converted to organic priority shopping, Mills said “For one of our shirts to be the catalyst that moves somebody into conscious behavior and conscious purchasing patterns is everything to me.”

Conventional cotton uses about 11 percent of the world’s pesticides—some of which are cancer causing—on 2.4 percent of the world’s arable land.  Organic cotton production increased 152 percent from 2007-2008, led by India, Turkey, China, Uganda, Peru and the US.  Organic cotton fiber can be used in make-up removal pads, cotton puffs, ear swabs, towels, sheets, blankets, clothes and stationery. [Sustainable Cotton Project and the Organic Trade Association]

Available at

Trolley Green Giant, Trolley Square; Green the World, Riverdale; Model Citizen, 247 E. Broadway; The Park Silly Market, Park City; The People’s Market, Salt Lake City

Report urges investing billions in natural treasures—Thomas Burr, SLT, 7/6/09

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar speaking at a press conference for the new Outdoor Resources Review Group report said regardless of other priorities for the nation, the United States must not neglect its own natural treasures.  The new report looks at how America uses the public lands and what can be done to protect them.  Salazar said “in the most difficult times of our country we look to the landscapes to really refuel the spirit of greatness in our country”.  The report calls for increased spending in the Land and Water Conservation Fund to $3.2 billion now and $5 billion by 2015.   The fund goes beyond its 1977 mandate of land acquisition to maintenance.  Around $255 million was poured into the fund in 2008.  Notably, the report encourages better coordination between federal, state and local governments over funding and planning for conservation goals, adds that outdoor-recreation opportunities would help overcome obesity in America and points to public-private partnerships with a track record of protecting natural resources and increasing recreational offerings.

Dinosaur National Monument looks to a new era—Patty Henetz, SLT, 7/6/09

Between 1993 and 1997, up to a half million visitors a year flooded the monument, the era of Steven Spielberg’s Jurrasic Park.  Since 1998, that number dwindled, falling sharply in 2006 after the Quarry Visitor Center was closed.  $13.1 million in federal stimulus funding would renew the building and encourage a greater number of visitor days.  The current circa 1957 building was built on unstable soil, allowing the building to torque in a way that makes it unsafe.  The projected completion date is summer 2011, and one of the quarry center’s features is a wall with hundreds of fossils.  The monument was originally established in 1915 by President Woodrow Wilson.  Though the wall, first partially excavated by Carnegie Museum paleontologist Earl Douglass in 1909, has been a significant attraction, the Uinta Basin’s recent oil and gas boom, coupled with the closing of the Quarry Center, put a damper on park visits.  Lodging availability has been one big issue.  Lodging prices, jacked up for energy boom demand, have been another issue.  When the original visitor center started buckling and breaking under the pressure of settling, the center was closed, further diminishing interest in the park.  Even though work on excavating the wall Douglass found in 1909 has been ongoing, work ceased when the old building threatened to damage artifacts, and the park’s spokesman has said work probably will not be restarted.  The original architecture, some of which will be retained earned the building National Historic Landmark status.


Buy natural gas buses—Jim Grambihler, Questar Gas, SLC, SLT 7/6/09

Commentary:  The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act

Congress should pass legislation for wilder Rockies—from New York Times 7/7/09, SLT 7/7/09

Commentary feature:  The ongoing debate over control of public lands

Sagebrush sellout—English Brooks, Ephraim, SLC, SLT 7/6/09

Bishop’s argument ignores facts about West—Darrell Knuffke, chair Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, SLT 7/2/09

History is on the side of the Sagebrush Rebellion—Rep. Rob Bishop, SLT 6/26/09

Federal ‘land grab’ myth endures in Utah—Gale Dick, President, Save Our Canyons, SLT, 6/19/09

Commentary:  Proposed Great Salt Lake Minerals Expansion

Time to put a halt to destructive plan for Great Salt Lake—Christopher Cokinos, Bridgerland Audubon Society Board, Nibley, SLT 7/8/09

Refinery Pollution—Lynn E. Adams, Layton, SLT 7/8/09

Commentary:  Utah mercury levels in fish

Fishy findings—Tribune Editorial, SLT 7/9/09