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.
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
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]
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