Monthly Archives: September 2009

Roundup Tuesday September 29, 2009

1.  Wal-Mart best symbolizes America, a new poll finds—AP, SLT 9/28/09

2.  Utah political elite to fight ‘Red Rock bill’ in Congress—Matt Canham, SLT 9/28/099

3.  Hurricane leaders deny climate change—AP, SLT 9/28/09

4.  Construction begins on environment-friendly BLM office in Fillmore—AP, Fox 13 Now 9/28/09–blmbuilding,0,6931850.story

5.  Uranium policy poll—Maile Tua’one, Fox 13 Now 9/28/09,0,5468405.story?track=rss

6.  Wildfires expand in area’s national parks—Tim Dudley and AP, Jackson Hole Daily 9/28/09

7.  Climate-change study cites role of ancient farming—David A. Fahrenthold, The Washington Post 9/28/09

8.  Glass proves itself a recycling challenge—AP, The Denver Post 9/28/09

9.  Aspen bears are in for a shock—Carolyn Sackariason, The Aspen Times, The Denver Post 9/28/09

10.  Site helps chefs find farmers, fresh produce—Beth Hoffman, NPR 9/28/09

11.  California rules on flat screen TVs worry some retailers—Ina Jaffe, NPR 9/28/09

12.  Solar plan ignites some environmental concerns—Jeff Brady, NPR 9/28/09

13.  As oil enriches Australia, spill seen as a warning—Meraiah Foley, The New York Times 9/27/09

14.  New green cookware—Lynne Char Bennett, The San Francisco Chronicle 9/27/09

15.  Photographer compiles unusual views of popular and lesser known wonders—Tom Wharton, SLT 9/26/09

16.  Nelson supports bill to protect ethanol from EPA ruling—Robert Pore, [Nebraska] The Grand Island Independent 9/26/09

17.  Smuggling Europe’s waste to poorer countries—Elisabeth Rosenthal, The New York Times 9/26/09

18.  E.P.A. ordered to reconsider New Mexico power plant permit—AP, The New York Times 9/26/09

19.  Top state emitters of greenhouse gases face fees—Wyatt Buchanan, The San Francisco Chronicle 9/26/09

20.  Environment crusader Holyfield is the new Green Machine—Daniel Lane, [Australia] The Sydney Morning Herald 9/26/09

21.  Drinking water unsafe at thousands of schools—Garance Burke, AP, SLT 9/25/09

22.  Bogus bidder’s green defense may be blocked—Patty Henetz, SLT 9/25/09

23.  Guv rejects call for immediate N-waste ban—Mark Havnes, Dan Harrie, SLT 9/25/09

24.  Governor insists deal will protect Utah’s water—Mark Havnes, SLT 9/25/09

25.   Senate endorses plan to block ‘cow tax’—Ledyard King, [Sioux Falls, S.D.] Argus Leader 9/25/09

26. State, landowners negotiate in easement suit—Ben Neary, AP, Casper Star-Tribune 9/25/09

27.  Recession barely dents ‘eco-debt’—Judith Burns, BBC News 9/25/09

28.  New groups revive the debate over causes of climate change—Steven Mufson, The Washington Post 9/25/09

29.  New analysis brings dire forecast of 6.3-degree temperature increase—Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post 9/25/09

30.  G-20 leaders agree to phase out fossil fuel subsidies—Juliet Epstein, The Washington Post 9/25/09

31.  Why Feinstein seeks review of delta findings—Diane Feinstein, Open Forum, San Francisco Chronicle 9/25/09

See related story:  Feinstein’s unnecessary opinion—Chronicle Editorials, San Francisco Chronicle 9/23/09

See related story:  What we got here is a failure to collaborate:  Gary Nabhan defends collaborative conservation—Gary Paul Nabhan, High Country News 7/27/09

See related letter to the editor:  A ‘consummate community collaborator’:  Bill Wade, Gary Nabhan, High Country News 8/17/09

32.  Schwarzenegger backs strong state climate bill—Kelly Zito, San Francisco Chronicle 9/25/09

33.  Boulder-based Sunflower Farmers Market operating its own farm—Steve Raabe, The Denver Post 9/25/09

34.  Saving turtles from the wrong side of the tracks—Science Friday, Talk of the Nation 9/25/09

35.  Board says no moratorium on depleted uranium—Tim Gillie, Tooele Transcript Bulletin 9/24/09

36.  Finding way to control emissions stirs debate—Jasen Lee, Deseret News 9/24/09

37.  Initiative aims to boost safety of Utah’s canals—Amy Joi O’Donoghue, Deseret News 9/24/09

38.  Activist’s ‘necessity’ defense may get the boot—Amy Joi O’Donoghue, Deseret News 9/24/09

39.  Last trainload of contaminated sediments leaves Milltown Superfund site—Keila Szpaller, The Missoulian 9/24/09

40.  Droughts, melts signal climate change quickening—UN—Timothy Gardner, Reuters 9/24/09

41.  Behind the furor over a climate change skeptic—John M. Broder, The New York Times 9/24/09

42.  Satellite reveals faster melting of polar ice—David Perlman, San Francisco Chronicle 9/24/09

43.  With little clout, natural gas lobby strikes out—Peter Overby, NPR 9/24/09

44.  Officials fight to clear the air—Di Lewis [Ogden] Standard-Examiner 9/23/09


45.  What’s wrong with the national parks?—The Editors, The New York Times 9/27/09

46.  America needs more crown jewels—Erica Rosenberg, Los Angeles Times 9/27/09,0,6122559.story

47.  Red Rock riches—Tribune Editorial, SLT 9/26/09

48.  Ron Whitney:  Conservation is good for the economy and the environment—Ron Whitney, The Idaho Statesman 9/26/09

49.  Wharton:  Park debates continue—Tom Wharton, SLT 9/25/09

50.  Open wide, Utah—Tribune Editorial, SLT 9/25/09 “Feds force feed depleted uranium”

51.  Risk of foreign nuclear waste disposal offset by benefits—Gary Sandquist, SLT 9/25/09

52.  Water pact gambles with health of Utah families—Brian Moench, SLT 9/25/09

53.  How polluted is Washington’s drinking water?—Rita R. Robison, Seattle Post-Intelligencer 9/25/09

54.  Look—conservatives who believe in global warming!—Joe Conason, 9/25/09

55.  Place-based forest law—Martin Nie, Headwaters News 9/24/09

56.  If they cap and trade, we could pay triple the price—Rolf D. Koecher, Davis County Clipper 9/24/09

57.  Surviving Kyoto’s ‘do or die’ summit—Gracelia Chichilnisky, BBC News 9/15/09


Roundup Friday September 25, 2009

1.  Environment:  First, beat the beetles—The Boston Globe 9/24/09

2.  399 cub may be dead—Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole Daily 9/24/09

3.  Superior, Flat Iron Mountain Mine named federal Superfund cleanup site—Michael Jamison, The Missoulian 9/24/09

4.  Ruling’s effects still unknown—Nur Kausar, The St. George Spectrum 9/24/09

On property re-valuations and an endangered prairie dog.

5.  Global wind leaders push climate legislation—AP, SLT 9/24/09

6.  Jury rejects FEMA trailer fumes lawsuit—AP, SLT 9/24/09

7.  Utahns question accerated uranium shipment—Brandon Loomis, SLT 9/24/09

8.  Herbert wants a water deal—Patty Henetz, SLT 9/24/09

9.  San Jose’s big bag ban started small—Tracy Seipel, San Jose Mercury News 9/23/09

10.  Conference at UM looks at forest biomass as ‘game-changer’—Rob Chaney, The Missoulian 9/23/09

11.  Idaho farmers regroup after Oust chemical disaster—Laurie Welch, The Twin Falls Times-News, The Idaho Statesman 9/23/09

12.  Idaho anglers, boaters, skiers, growers, power companies all affected by climate change—Rocky Barker, The Idaho Statesman 9/23/09

13.  Chinese plan upstages Obama at UN—Jon Ward, Christina Bellatoni, The Washington Times 9/23/09

14.  Workshop avoids mention of N-waste coming this way—Amy Joi O’Donoghue, Deseret News 9/23/09

15.  Utahns hear plans to regulate uranium disposal—Brandon Loomis, SLT 9/23/09

16.  Partnerships, science keys to wildlife and climate change—Brett Prettyman, SLT 9/23/09

17.  Utility quits alliance over climate change—Kate Galbraith, The New York Times 9/22/09


18.  Big polluters told to report emissions—Leslie Kaufman, The New York Times 9/22/09

18.  Proposals lag behind promises on climate—Neil MacFarquhar, The New York Times 9/22/09

19.  Judge rejects approval of biotech sugar beets—Andrew Pollack, The New York Times 9/22/09

20.  Smart-growth group unwanted—Patrick Parkinson, The Park Record 9/22/09

21.  Birds caught in wind-farm push—William M. Welch, USA Today 9/22/09

22.  Snowmaking faces new suit—Cyndy Cole, Arizona Daily Sun, 9/22/09

23.  UN scientists assess mining threats to Glacier National Park—Michael Jamison, The Missoulian 9/22/09

24.  Bears get protection—Cory Hatch, AP, Jackson Hole Daily 9/22/09

24.  Volunteers needed for 34 Lands Day projects—Mark Havnes, SLT 9/22/09

25.  Hazardous waste-hauling train, SUV collide; 3 injured—Jason Bergreen, SLT 9/22/09

26.  House passes Magna water bill—Matt Canham, SLT 9/22/09

27.  Utah lawmakers seek air quality reprieve for Tooele, Box Elder counties—Thomas Burr, SLT 9/22/09

28.  EnergySolutions:  State rejects depleted uranium shipment moratorium—Patty Henetz, SLT 9/22/09

29.  Poop-to-power plant now online—John Stang, Seattle Post Intelligencier 9/21/09

30.  UN summit:  Can Obama meet expectations on climate change?—Peter N. Spotts, The Christian Science Monitor 9/21/09

31.  States can sue utilities over emissions—Matthew L. Wald, The New York Times 9/21/09

32.  Refitted to bury emissions, plant draws attention—Matthew L. Wald, the New York Times 9/21/09

33.  Yellowstone plans Dec. 15 winter start—Ruffin Prevost, Billings Gazette 9/21/09

34.  Bush-Era BLM used exemptions to pollution-plagued oil drilling in Western states—Noel Brinkerhoff, 9/21/09

35.  Climate to take center stage at U.N. talks—Stephen Power, Ian Talley, The Wall Street Journal 9/21/09

36.  Gov. Herbert urging motorists not to idle—Richard Piatt, KSL News 9/21/09

37.  Bishop urges more drilling—Lee Davidson, Deseret News 9/21/09

38.  Fly ash disposal plans change—Cathy McKitrick, SLT 9/21/09


39.  East side should take advantage of Envision Utah’s expertise—The Park Record 9/23/09 On encouraging Summit County’s east side to take advantage of planning and growth consulting firm Envision Utah

40.  Wharton:  Park debates continue—Tom Wharton, SLT 9/25/09

41.  Kirby:  Clueless in the wild?  Search the ground for ‘sign’—Robert Kirby, SLT 9/22/09

42.  Cleansing waters—Tribune Editorial, SLT 9/22/09

43.  No accountability—Tribune Editorial, SLT 9/21/09 On the Bush-era exemptions that led to air quality violations in places like Vernal

44.  Quillen:  Ursine strategy bears up—Ed Quillen, The Denver Post 9/13/09

Roundup Tuesday September 22, 2009

1.  Coalition eager to revive Jordan River, but who will govern it?—Jeremiah Stettler, SLT 9/21/09

The transformative vision of the Jordan River corridor from waste dump to scenic and recreational gem is the apple of the eye of a number of interested and concerned citizens and organizations, but the question of leadership—and funding—continues to loom over the waterway.  Salt Lake, Utah and Davis counties all have a stake in guaranteeing restoration, conservation and resource development of the jewel that has the Blueprint Jordan River Implementation Committee pondering the possibilities for long term caretaking of the river.

Considerations on the table of the coalition of government officials and interest groups span the gamut from non-profit oversight utilizing private funding to the creation of a special taxing district, to creation of a commission dedicated to netting federal and state grants for improvements.  The transformation from garbage, graffiti and crime to a successful urban node for the corridor has great potential, yet faces complex obstacles around which to maneuver.

“I don’t know anybody who doesn’t look at the Jordan River and say, ‘The parkway is a tremendous asset,’” Sandy councilman and committee chair Chris McCandless responded.  “The question is, How do we buy what [private property] is remaining and manage it?”  Around 3,800 acres of waterway corridor remain in private hands, and oversight attuned to three counties and 15 cities along the river calls for a complex stakeholder process.  Participants are imagining a possible 7,300 acre nature preserve in the urban watershed that would include recreation options.  Clear bike and pedestrian pathways, dedicated open space, kayak and canoe launches, and multiple use commercial development all are under consideration for the 54-mile stretch of river.

Oversight possibilities include a river commission similar to the Utah Lake Commission, a multi-jurisdictional board without taxing authority.  A special taxing district would have to be approved by voters but would guarantee revenue for development and maintenance.  Envision Utah is contributing to the process of sizing up the different alternatives.  A nonprofit would leave power distributed across the numerous governmental bodies and facilitate invigoration efforts, though retaining secure funding could prove difficult.  A cooperative plan would utilize a common blueprint while leaving power in the hands of governing bodies as well.  A commission currently seems in favor.

River advocate Jeff Salt is concerned that filling the commission with politicians from each of the communities will result in a collapse similar to the Provo-Jordan River Parkway Authority collapse in the early 1980’s.  A community approach would bring diverse stakeholders into a stewardship role that Salt favors.   Political and developmental pressures could be balanced.  “We can’t trust these local officials to run the show,” Salt contends.

Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson is sold on the elected involvement version.  “When the time is right, economically, we really would want to create a revenue stream—should the citizens be willing,” Wilson advocated.  “Without that, we can’t meet our goal of property acquisition.”  Murray Mayor Daniel Snarr opposes the taxing district proposal since Murray has already invested millions for Jordan River and parkway projects and the plan could in effect tax his community twice.

“Do we get reimbursed for all that we have already done,” Snarr asked.  The city has installed pavilions, restrooms, equestrian trails, boat ramps and walking paths along the portion of the river that meanders from 6600 South to 4800 South.  Other funding possibilities are possible, and discussions are yet in the exploration phase.

2.  Utah hazardous waste incinerator faces penalties—Mike Stark, AP, SLT 9/21/09

Clean Harbors Aragonite in Utah’s West Desert has been fined over $500,000 for 48 violations involving the company’s hazardous waste incinerator from 2007 to 2008.   The incinerator, which burns hazardous materials from around the West, drew 10 violations with a “major” potential for harm such as fire.  The site is home to the only hazardous waste incinerator in Utah.  The Utah Department of Environmental Quality is working to settle the matter.  “This is the largest one I’ve ever worked on,” Don Verbica said.  Verbica has logged 25 years with the state’s Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste.  Everything from contaminated soils and pesticides to industrial solvents and out-of-date pharmaceuticals comprise the millions of pounds of hazardous materials processed at the facility every year.  The facility has a history of changing hands and run-ins with regulators.

Over $644,000 in penalties have been assessed prior to the latest sum since the facility started burning hazardous waste in 1991.  DEQ records show just over half that amount was charged for violations against Clean Harbors since its takeover in 2002.  Clean Harbor’s senior vice president of regulatory affairs noted that violations were not uncommon in such a heavily regulated industry.  “We think we’re not atypical,” he added.  The VP attributed the violations to high employee turnover when new local businesses recruited seasoned staff, leaving a gap in personnel trained in the complex regulations and procedures.  Retallick said the situation has stabilized, and the company has invested in its employees, creating improvements.

The Norwell, Massachusetts-based company proclaims itself the largest hazardous waste disposal organization in the country, with four incinerator facilities nationwide.  Violations cited documentation problems, lapses in shipment tracking, and storage regulation issues.  Fires at the site and radioactive waste monitoring lapses were topped off with other monitoring and documentation that never occurred.  Officials said the penalty had been reduced by 40% in consideration of the economic crisis and subsequent reduced waste calling for incineration.  Storage facilities will also have to be built along with installation of roof-mounted monitors for volatile vapors.  Public comment on the settlement proposal is open until Oct. 5.

3.  Green groups open ‘climate war room’—Mike Allen, Jim Vandehei, Politico 9/21/09

Between the health care reform protests during the Congressional August break and the difficulty of the House climate bill vote, cap-and-trade advocates are working hard to get Democrats on board another potentially volatile vote on the climate bill.  “When you get your butt kicked, like we did [after the House energy vote], it focuses the mind,” Environmental Defense Fund’s Steve Cochran said.  “We found out that this is not something to hide from but something to lean on—even in places where coal is king and Blue Dogs were perceived to be running for cover.”

Advocates are confident that their grassroots network—incorporating over 60 labor, business, faith, agriculture and environmental groups—will offer the kind of support that the health care bill didn’t have.  A ‘climate war room’ is coordinating efforts across 20 states.  Military veterans and polls showing majority support for substantial changes in US energy policy also fuel optimism.  Yet White House advisors have noted reluctance for another tough vote after health care later this year.  Climate bill critics say the bill will result in enormous tax increases.

One congressman suggested the Senate vote was much more likely to occur next spring.  “We can’t make people walk the plank again this fall,” the Democratic official said.  “I think it would be detrimental to climate change to jam it through.”  On the other hand, environmental groups such as one led by former Vice President Al Gore may prefer jamming the bill through to the doom of delay in Washington.  A long delay could offer substantial opportunity for destructive ads and uncivil town hall meetings.

Green advocates are consulting with vulnerable lawmakers regarding a recent poll that shows three Democrats from tough districts suffered no backlash for voting on the House cap-and-trade bill earlier this year.  Though the conventional wisdom has left lawmakers cringing from the vote, pollster Allan Rivlin said the vote actually helped some Democratic lawmakers in their districts.   “Senators can look at these results and find that voting for a climate change bill is not as politically risky as the opposition would make it seem,” Rivlin said.

Hanging in the wings is the question of what will happen if town hall meetings erupt again, this time venting anger over anticipated high energy bills and tax increases.  Many say the vote will be postponed until next year, though added breathing room may not make the process any easier.  Yet three of the districts polled showed optimistic results.   Tony Kreindler of Environmental Defense Fund said “In every case, the members came out in a very strong place politically.  The hard data say that even after two years of well-funded opposition campaigns, constituents aren’t buying what the opposition is selling.”

He added that their strategy is to build to a successful vote after health care has moved through Congress.  In a conservative central Virginia district represented by freshman representative Tom Perriello, small business owners and entrepreneurs welcome clean energy and the subsequent economy.  “People realize the problem of energy dependence and that both parties have yapped on without doing anything about it.  They appreciate people stepping up,” Perriello said.

Strong opponents such as the American Energy Alliance, which opposes a “national energy tax” and the mandate of “increased use of expensive, unreliable forms of power” could make Perriello’s job much more difficult.  But advocates, who want a vote no later than the UN Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen in December, are energized.  “We are here to turn up the heat on skeptics because doing nothing on clean energy and climate will turn up the heat on the rest of us,” Blue Line Strategic Communications’ chief executive said. Blue Line works for the war room as well.

Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection has organized the Repower America campaign which has seen around 300,000 letters delivered to congressmen, including 50,000 delivered to senators in home states.  Repower America has sponsored a Made in America Jobs Tour across 22 states.  “When a member walks in a parade and gets called a traitor, that’s a big deal,” Repower’s Maggie Fox said.  “And so our job is not just to be on the ground in these states, which we’re doing, but to build intensity.”  She added that it’s the next generation that is providing a lot of the intensity to get people motivated.  “It is their issue, and their inheriting the world,” Fox said.  “They don’t want to hear that it’s inconvenient to deal with it.  Our challenge is to give voice to them.”

Recent polls indicate clear support for clean energy and climate policy across battleground states.  A polling memo sent to Democratic supporters read; “Voters know that Big Oil and special interests have blocked energy reform for decades to protect their profits and that we’re sending billions of dollars to foreign regimes, which hurts our economy, helps our enemies and puts our security at risk.”

While some doubts exist over whether President Obama will attend the UN Copenhagen summit should the health care bill go south, advocates are hopeful, noting that a strong and successful climate bill would demonstrate good international leadership on the part of the US.  “This administration has done a pretty remarkable job of lining up a bunch of administrative action to show they mean business on this in the absence of legislation,” Fox commented.

4.  Judge says Montana must restore protections for Yellowstone grizzlies—AP, The Oregonian 9/21/09

Greater Yellowstone ecosystem grizzlies lost threatened species status in 2007.  But now US District Judge Donald Molloy siding with environmental groups has said protection must be reinstated for the areas some 600 bear population.  A decline in whitebark pine trees due to climate change was cited by Judge Molloy as a key food source loss for the bears.

5.  Study finds more tax breaks for fossil fuels than renewables—Scott Learn, The Oregonian 9/21/09

The Environmental Law Institute with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars co-sponsored the study, which found $72 billion in tax breaks and other fossil fuel subsidies while renewable fuels scored but $29 billion between 2002 and 2008.  The largest subsidies were identified mainly as permanent installations in the US tax code, as opposed to renewables subsidies that are mostly limited by expiration date.  The Foreign tax credit was the largest of the tax breaks, providing $15.3 billion in subsidies for overseas production of oil.  Nearly half of renewables subsidies were identified with corn-based ethanol.

6.  Artist Maya Lin turns to species extinction and habitat destruction for last memorial—Abby Haight, The Oregonian 9/21/09

Maya Lin, whose works include the now famous 1982 Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. and the Confluence Project, a cultural and physical history of the Lewis & Clark expedition, is in the process of finishing what she has called her last memorial.  The first element is an environmental elegy titled “What is Missing?” opening this week in San Francisco.

Her impetus was the accelerating global species extinction due to habitat destruction and human pressures.  Lin’s mission statement places the work online and on the road, a “multi-sited artwork dedicated to bringing awareness to the current crisis surrounding biodiversity and habitat loss.”

“’What is Missing?’ is a wake up call and a call to action showing what is being done throughout the professional field of conservation and also what individuals can do in their everyday lives to make a difference in habitat and species protection,” he mission statement reads.

“Listening Cone” plays sounds of animals from their habitats through a large brass megaphone.  Introduced last week at its permanent location at the California Academy of Sciences, the megaphone is lined with reclaimed redwood and has a video screen for habitat footage.

7.  EU lists industries exempted from carbon trading— 9/21/09

The 27 member EU bloc has received expert testimony recommending exemption of certain industries from CO2 trading beyond 2013 to prevent export of production outside the EU.  Included on the list of 164 sectors deemed likely to relocate to foreign were industries such as plastics, iron and food processing.  Such “carbon leakage” would simply shift CO2 emissions to countries without tough emissions standards.

Most carbon-intensive industries were included, such as steel, cement and chemicals, which accounts for 77% of the total emissions addressed in the EU’s emissions trading scheme (ETS).  The industries would be offered a much greater number of free emission allowances after 2013 when the ETS is revamped and the power sector of the EU-15 is required to pay for all permits.

Likelihood of defection to countries with lax carbon standards was figured from the intensity of trade with third world countries and projected increased production costs due to compliance.  Member states are pushing to protect industries vital to their economies, while environmentalists have assailed the European Commission for prioritizing national capitals.

Brick and roof tile manufacturing exemptions are awaiting more data, a decision which has drawn charges that favoritism, rather than outside competition, is deciding the exemptions.  The list will last through 2014, though more sectors could be added.  One slant the EU is working is to use an international climate agreement to ensure other developed countries install similar emissions reductions targets so that EU industries aren’t vulnerable to excessive pressure.

France and Germany are pushing for carbon border tariffs to head off imports of manufactured goods and resources from countries without CO2 regulation.  While free allowances will not be quantified until 2011, “performance benchmarks” qualifying the most efficient 10% of facilities are already in place.  The measure is seen as an incentive to cut emissions.  Environmentalists argue that the benchmark system will only lower the effectiveness of ETS when industries push for a flat benchmark, maximizing free allocations.

8.  Obama avoids a ‘war on the West’—Rocky Barker, The Idaho Statesman 9/20/09

Though he has been accused of leveling war on capitalism, gun ownership and small-town values, traditional leaning organizations such as the Idaho Cattle Association has noted that President Obama has steered clear of waging war on traditional resource values in the American West.  The Association was outspoken with concerns after Obama’s election that his administration would follow in the footsteps of the Clinton administration, restricting grazing on public lands and other traditional gimmes.

Association members were surprised in a good way to find rancher and former Colorado Senator Ken Salazar appointed Interior Secretary.  Controversial decisions on issues such as wolves and salmon so far have followed Bush administration guidelines.  The satisfaction of traditional resource users comes at the expense of environmental organizations like Defenders of Wildlife who were disappointed by wolves’ delisting in the northern Rockies.

Last week’s announcement that the administration would go forward with but minor modifications in the Bush administration plan for salmon and dam management on the Columbia and Snake rivers—leaving dam removal as a last ditch effort—further disheartened environmentalists.  “Although the Bush administration is gone, unfortunately it looks like its policies will live on for Columbia-Snake salmon,” a Sierra Club field director said.

The Carter administration worked to end Western water projects in its first year.  The Clinton administration pushed for mining and grazing reform.  The Obama administration has sidestepped the ire of Western resource Democrats.  Take for instance reinstatement of the Clinton roadless rule for national forests.  Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack did not challenge Idaho’s separate rule.

“First of all, it was the right thing to do, and it was a good plan,” then-Gov. and now Idaho Republican US Sen. Jim Risch said.  “What they did was they sided with the largest group with the widest spectrum of views.”  Idaho GOP Chairman and executive director of the Idaho Water Commission Norm Semanko also expressed support.  “The Obama administration appears to be sticking to state water rights and the willing-seller, willing-buyer policy,” Semanko replied.  “We’re glad to see that carried through.”

But Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, said “Overall, the credit primarily should be given to the folks in the West who have been working on these issues.”  Still, Crapo and others have high praise for the choice of Salazar to head Interior.  “He grew up with guns and cattle and neighbors in southern Colorado,” US Rep. Walt Minnick, D-Idaho, said.

A senior fellow for the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Denver, said environmentalists had benefitted as well.  Salazar rejected a Bush administration ruling favored by then Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne that would have softened the Endangered Species Act.  Oil and gas leases near national parks in Utah were killed and climate change has been prioritized for the Interior department.

“He’s taking a far more balanced approach than the Bush administration did,” the fellow added.  A senior fellow for the Andrus Center for Public Policy and Boise State political scientist called Obama’s decisions strategic, with climate change and alternative energy perhaps taking priority over wolves, salmon and roadless areas for Obama.  Senior fellow John Freemuth has suggested the approach could be a new way of thinking about environmental issues, utilizing the priority of climate change.

“This may be a new version of the conservation movement,” Freemuth stated.  Politicians like Minnick see Western Democrats playing a central role as well.  “They have channels that lead closer to the ground, and they listen,” Minnick said.


9.  The Air Aware—David Abram, Orion Magazine Sept/Oct 2009

10.  Fisher:  The plastic bag people fight back as San Jose considers ban—Patty Fisher, San Jose Mercury News 9/21/09

11.  Quick decision in water dispute could hurt Utah—Jay Evensen, Deseret News 9/20/09

12.  Denying climate reality is dangerous—Ed Firmage Jr., SLT 9/19/09

13.  New national park—St. George Spectrum 9/18/09

14.  Wolf populations not sufficient to put them on the firing line—Ken Fischman, SLT 9/18/09

15.  Snake Valley water—Tribune Editorial, SLT 9/18/09

16.  Lost Art:  “Wilderness Areas’ for Wilderness” Sake—B. Frank, Mountain Gazette August 2009

Keep in Mind

17.  Church wants to give poor a voice in global climate talks— 9/21/09

18.  Entrepreneur wants to pump Green River water—AP, SLT 9/20/09

19.  Historic markers honored—Lynn Arave, Deseret News 9/20/09

20.  Artifacts-hunting in southeastern Utah is a tradition—but illegal—Lynn Arave, Deseret News 9/20/09

21.  Feds:  Not enough Green River water for pipeline—Ben Neary, AP, Deseret News 9/20/09

22.  Farm-fresh fish—with a catch—Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post 9/20/09

23.  Europeans say US lacks will on climate—John M. Broder, James Kanter, The New York Times 9/20/09

24.  U. seeks out a dark and lonely place—Mark Havnes, SLT 9/19/09

25.  Heal your mind in great outdoors:  An earthy approach to psychotherapy—Laura Casey, Contra Costa Times, San Jose Mercury News 9/19/09

26.  Meetings at coal conference focus on energy, environment—Rick Stouffer, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 9/19/09

27.  Danish conservative prepares for climate debate—Elisabeth Rosenthal, The New York Times 9/19/09

28.  Study links distemper to Yellowstone wolf deaths—AP, SLT 9/18/09

29.  Idaho mulls special wolf tag proposal—AP, SLT 9/18/09

30.  Sheep herder recovering after grizzly attack—AP, SLT 9/18/09

31.  Hunting:  Deer, elk numbers up but success is weather-dependent—Brett Prettyman, SLT 9/18/09

32.  Hunting:  Sharing the wildlife wealth—Brett Prettyman, SLT 9/18/09

33.  Wolf advocates won’t appeal ruling allowing hunts—AP SLT 9/18/09

34.  Wyoming governor says Montana wolf order positive—Ben Neary, AP, SLT 9/18/09

35.  Group tests composting of pooch poop—William Kates, AP, SLT 9/18/09

36.  Utah’s Tracy to welcome finches rescued from suspected bird fighting setup—Matthew D. LaPlante, SLT 9/18/09

37.  Testimony questions whether Canyonlands route is real road—Patty Henetz, SLT 9/18/09

38.  Ag groups endorse proposed Monsanto mine—Mark Mendiola, Idaho Business Review 9/18/09

39.  Solar energy firm drops plan for project in Mojave Desert—Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times 9/18/09,0,1844073.story

40.  Feds to study Western river basins—Susan Montoya Bryan, AP, The Santa Fe New Mexican 9/18/09

41.  Judge won’t block snowmobile limit—Ben Neary, AP, Casper Star-Tribune 9/18/09

42.  Brazil eyes Amazon sugar cane ban—BBC News 9/18/09

43.  Obama panel releases comprehensive ocean report—Kelly Zito, San Francisco Chronicle 9/18/09

44.  Mercury mines are polluting California waterways—AP, Fox News 9/18/09,2933,552180,00.html?test=latestnews

45.  EPA to impose global warming regulations:  Will Congress intervene?—Nick Loris, The Heritage Institute 9/18/09

46.  Climate change is a poverty issue—Aiko Schaefer, 9/18/09

47.  Institute honors UDOT for its ‘green’ salt storage—Mike Gorrell, SLT 9/17/09

48.  Utah geothermal plant runs into cold-water problem—Steven Oberbeck, SLT 9/17/09

49.  GAO report chides BLM’s rush to drill—Patty Henetz, SLT 9/17/09

50.  Drilling near parks opposed—Lee Davidson, Deseret News 9/17/09

51.  Safflowers harvested for biofuels research—Joseph M. Dougherty, Deseret News 9/17/09

52.  House panel to consider bill on Utah wilderness—Lee Davidson, Deseret News 9/17/09

53.  Vital signs weak for climate bill—Lisa Lerer, Politico 9/17/09

54.  Salazar to end federal oil and gas royalty-in-kind program—Nick Snow, Oil and Gas Journal 9/17/09

55.  Health ills abound as farm runoff fouls wells—Charles Duhigg, New York Times 9/17/09

56.  EPA to propose tightening limits on ozone pollution—Matthew Tresaugue, The Houston Chronicle 9/16/09

Roundup Friday September 18, 2009

1.  Interest in algae’s oil prospects is growing—Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times 9/17/09,0,1867037.story

2.  Former Interior Secretary Gale Norton is focus of corruption probe—Jim Tankersley, Josh Meyer, Los Angeles Times 9/17/09,0,6215749.story

3.  URMLHN:  Climate change and the origin of bacterial, viral and parasitic pathologies—Reuters 9/17/09

4.  Drilling near parks opposed—Lee Davidson, Deseret News 9/17/09

5.  After 20 years, Utah wilderness bill gets a hearing—Lee Davidson, Deseret News 9/17/09

6.  Northern Arizona tribes united against uranium mines—Felicia Fonseca, SLT 9/17/09

7.  After 20 years, Red Rock bill gets first hearing—Matt Canham, SLT 9/17/09

8.  Ozone protection treaty achieves universal ratification—Environment News Service 9/16/09

9.  GAO rips BLM for sidestepping NEPA on oil and gas leases—David O. Williams, Colorado Independent 9/16/09

10.  Ranchers criticize plans for bison herds at BLM meeting—Karl Puckett, Great Falls Tribune (Montana) 9/16/09

11.  Attempts to shape climate bill in full swing—AP, SLT 9/16/09

12.  Bishop dings Interior chief over foot dragging on records request—Thomas Burr, SLT 9/16/09

13.  Matheson asks Energy Department to halt depleted uranium shipments—Thomas Burr, SLT 9/16/09

14.  Redds dodge prison in artifact sentencing—Patty Henetz, SLT 9/16/09

15.  Training center opens for weatherization—Maria Villasenor, SLT 9/16/09

16.  New standards links mileage and emissions—John M. Broder, The New York Times 9/15/09

17.  Plastic bags found to severely threaten bay—Kelly Zito, San Francisco Chronicle 9/15/09

18.  EPA 26 years late on water-protection measure—Dan Shapley, The Daily Green 9/15/09

19.  Interior launches climate strategy—Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post 9/15/09

20.  Gender-bending bass found in Yampa River—Bruce Finley, The Denver Post 9/15/09

21.  Stood-up Vernal couple still seek to tell oil-lease story in D.C.—Lee Davidson, Deseret News 9/15/09

22.  Governor and activists to discuss N-waste deal—Amy Joi O’Donoghue, Lisa Riley Roche, Deseret News 9/15/09

23.  Utah’s mushroom man—Kathy Stephenson, SLT 9/15/09

24.  Utah agency makes $300K payment for hunter access—Mike Stark, AP, SLT 9/15/09

25.  Aviary has reason to crow—national rating restored—Matthew D. LaPlante, SLT 9/15/09

26.  Bishop has role in Park Service stall—Thomas Burr, SLT 9/15/09

27.  Utah Rivers Council head Ted Wilson retiring—Jeremiah Stettler, SLT 9/15/09

28.  Officials wary of possible spring flooding—Patty Henetz, SLT 9/15/09

29.  Hawaii tries green tools in remaking power grids—Felicity Barringer, New York Times 9/14/09

30.  India says not a disaster if Copenhagen climate talks fail—Agence France-Presse, 9/11/09


31.  Energy ‘sprawl’ and the green economy—Lamar Alexander, The Wall Street Journal 9/17/09

32.  New national park?—Tribune Editorial SLT 9/16/09

33.  A nuclear waste option—Frank von Hippel, Los Angeles Times 9/15/09,0,2705493.story

Roundup Tuesday September 15, 2009

1.  Trial under way in Canyonlands road fight—Robert Gehrke, SLT 9/14/09

The 10-mile long Salt Creek road that accesses Angel Arch in Canyonlands National Park could reopen if a federal judge agrees with San Juan County and the state.  Federal attorneys argued that neither the state nor the county could prove the road existed prior to creation of the park in 1964 and ownership claims were not made in the intervening years ahead of the Salt Creek Lawsuit.

A 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in 2005 stipulated that all RS 2477 right-of-way road disputes must be determined on a by-case basis.  The Salt Creek case is the first such case to be tried since the ruling.  The case is considered unique since almost all of the route runs up a streambed that regularly flushes signs of vehicle travel.  Assistant US Attorney Bruce Bernard argued Monday; “This is not what Congress had in mind in granting the right of way…a roving right of way that might go canyon wall to canyon wall over time.”

San Juan County’s attorney has said he will demonstrate historic use of the trail by uranium prospectors, cowboys and Jeep riders.  The Park Service closed the last 10 miles of the route to vehicle access in 1998.  San Juan County wants the gate removed, though the Park Service would still control access by requiring a park permit.

“We’re seeking to allow members of the public once again to see Angel Arch through vehicular traffic,” Utah’s Assistant Attorney General said.  Of concern are those citizens who can’t make a 20-mile round-trip hike.  Witnesses for the state testified of their trips up the wash in Jeeps decades ago.  Surveys that date back to 1911, references to a homestead, 1953 maps and mining claim documents are other forms of evidence the county and the state used to address their claim.

The Canyonlands National Park plan, indicating Salt Creek as a “major route” accessing Angel Arch, was also introduced into evidence.  The two week trial will include an on-site review of the road, though much of it may not be accessible by vehicle due to floods and erosion.

2.  Verizon explains coal rally sponsorship—Kate Galbraith, New York Times 9/14/09

Verizon chief executive Lowell McAdam explained in a letter to the Center for Biological Diversity that while Verizon chose to accept $1,000 in payment for promoting products at the “Friends of America” rally in West Virginia early in September, the act “certainly was not an expression of support for mountaintop removal coal mining or in opposition to climate legislation.”  He added that Verizon “supports the goals of policymakers who are committed to reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment.”

But other event sponsors called for participants to sign a petition against the climate bill, including coal and energy companies.  Massey Energy’s chief executive Don Blankenship said the goal of the rally was to “learn how environmental extremists and corporate America are trying to destroy your jobs.”

Center for Biological Diversity has decided to poll its members to determine whether Verizon should be dropped as its cellphone carrier.  A Natural Resources Defense Council blogger called Verizon’s statement “a few days late and a thousand dollars short.”

3.  13 rare species undergoing review—Amy Joi O’Donoghue, Deseret News 9/13/09

US Fish and Wildlife Service biologists will review 13 Utah plant, mollusk and fish species to determine whether endangered species listing might be called for.  The assessment on species such as the Cisco Milkvetch, Hamlin Valley pyrg and Gibbens’ beardtongue will take into account potential threats to the species and the health and expansiveness of the habitat.

“Some of them we don’t have a lot of information on or they are not very widespread,” a field supervisor in the Salt Lake office of Fish and Wildlife said.  “We need to take a look at them and evaluate them for distribution and abundance.”  Status reviews will follow with determinations of “threatened” or “endangered” listings or listings on condition.  The review does not mean the species will go to candidate status, one biologist assured.

Along with 16 other species across 20 states that will come under review due to a 2007 WildEarth Guardians petition that originally sought protection for 200 species, Frisco buckwheat, Ostler’s pepperplant and Frisco clover—which only grow in the San Francisco Mountains of Beaver County—will be reviewed.

Botanist Larry England said the San Francisco Mountain species “occur in these mineralized soils that a hundred years ago were actively mined for silver and gold.  They are a rare unique part of our botanical heritage and occur nowhere else in the world.”  Flowers’ penstemon is another such localized plant, found in the Uintah basin.  “The concerns are energy development and its limited habitat,” England added.

Along with the Hamlin Valley pyrg, the longitudinal gland pyrg and the sub-globose pyrg are mollusks found only in springs in Utah’s West Desert region.  “A big concern is the exploitation of water sources out there,” England said.  So too with the northern leatherside chub which is only found in rivers and streams in the southeastern Bonneville Basin.

England alluded to Aldo Leopold.  “Man is a tinkerer.  The first rule of intelligent tinkering is that we don’t throw away any of the pieces.  As we manipulate our environment, it would be well to have full representation of what our natural world is,” England said.  Tony Frates, coordinator of the rare plant guide for the Utah Native Plant Society noted plants don’t get much recognition these days.  “There is an incredible wealth of biodiversity in Utah…The bottom line is that we have barely scratched the bucket of things we should be looking at.”

Responding to private landowner concerns, Frates said “Unlike animals, plants have no rights on private lands.  This should not cause angst for any private landowner and actually, landowners can get incentives.  These are not project stoppers.”  Still, the plants play an important role and need to be protected.  “Plants are indicators of the ecosystem,” Frates responded.  “These things are sort of a tapestry of life without which our world would be incredibly less habitable.  Who knows what secrets are locked in these species?”

4.  Oilsands’ emissions surpass some countries—Mary Jo Laforest, The Canadian Press, The Globe and Mail 9/13/09

A new report says Alberta’s oilsands already generate more greenhouse gas emissions than a number of European countries and 11 more years of development at the same pace could see more emissions than all the world’s volcanoes.  The Greenpeace commissioned report “Dirty:  How the Tar Sands are Fueling Global Climate Change” will be released on Monday.  Author and reporter Andrew Nikiforuk calls the oilsands the world’s largest energy project.

“The major energy projects in the Middle East…they don’t come anywhere near—none of them approach the scale and capital intensity of the oilsands,” Nikiforuk said.  The $200 billion project could increase greenhouse gas emissions threefold.  Natural gas will drive the production of synthetic oil from bitumen, and carbon capture and storage is yet to be developed in Canada.

In fact, Nikiforuk says, no commercial carbon capture and storage exists yet anywhere on the planet.  Nikiforuk believes carbon capture and storage will have the same kind of legacy that nuclear power plants have had.  “It was going to be too cheap to meter, then it became too expensive to build,” he said.

Nikiforuk believes Prime Minister Stephen Harper is very similar to former US president George Bush.  “Both men share a real dissidence and skepticism of climate change, which is a real convenient ideology if you want to accelerate hydrocarbon production,” he commented.  “The stuff cannot be produced economically and in great quantities to ease a global oil crunch,” Nikiforuk said.  “For most of the world, bitumen will not be an affordable substitute for cheap light oil and we’ve already seen the first economic correction in 2008—the whole global economy tanked when it hit $150 a barrel.”

5.  Butters:  Leave no trace with a green burial—MaryJane Butters, 9/12/09

“In the past couple of generations,” MaryJane Butters says, “we have distanced ourselves from death, much in the way that we have distanced ourselves from the production of our food and the land that nurtures our lifestyle.  And in our attempt to wash our hands of the untidy trials of life, we have lost touch with the very roots that ground and connect us all.”

As modern funerals and burials, rife with detachment, have come to be experienced as disingenuous, more natural ways of arriving at closure are coming back into consideration.  “There is no disgrace in surrendering our loved ones, and eventually ourselves, to the embrace of the Earth,” Butters says.  “It is a ritual of reunion between body and soil, not to be restrained by artificial preservation.”

Green burials achieve this objective in a way that creates no waste.  “The goal” she says “is to reduce our final footprint on the planet by melding into a cleaner, healthier and more intact ecosystem.”  Consider refrigeration or dry ice in place of chemical preservatives in preparation for a burial.  Embalming’s toxic chemicals are not prescribed by law.  biodegradable caskets, urns and shrouds offer green interment at much lower impacts on the budget than conventional arrangements.

Cremation, while considered more environmentally friendly, consumes large amounts of energy and releases pollution into the atmosphere.  Green cremations are possible at facilities that utilize high efficiency filtration systems.  Natural, biodegradable urns enhance the greenness of the arrangement.  More ideas can be found at:

Biodegradable caskets utilize traditional fibers such as recycled paper, willow, bamboo and sea grass, while cremation urns have been made from recycled silk and mulberry leaf paper.  These products and others are available from for instance The Natural Burial Company, which minimizes the distance products travel, lowering its carbon footprint as well.

Do-it-yourself options are also available from  The New York Times recently reported on a 77-year old woman who bought herself a pine coffin and uses it for showcasing quilts.  Natural burial sites differ from conventional ones in that water use is of prime concern and pesticides are not used.  Certification by The Green Burial Council too is now possible, guaranteeing stewardship for the future.  Their website offers a list of certified locations, as does .

Home burials are possible on private, rural lands.  Lisa Carlson’s Caring for the Dead: Your Final Act of Love addresses such arrangements.  The family site can be mapped out and recorded with the deed, preferably 150 feet from a water supply and 25 feet from power lines and neighboring boundaries.


6.  Community forests—Tribune Editorial, SLT 9/15/09

7.  Other land grabs going on in our nation— 9/13/09

8.  Don’t jump aboard high-speed rail—Deseret News editorial, Deseret News 9/13/09

9.  The “climate-made-me-do-it” defense—Sean Paige, The American Contrarian Blogsite 9/12/09 Anyone following Tim DeChristopher and the global climate science debate should read this blog entry by a previous Colorado Springs Gazette editor.  Not only does it contain conservative musings, it includes articles from the Salt Lake Tribune and the Los Angeles Times that address among other things a US Chamber of Commerce call for the EPA to host a Scopes Monkey Trial-like review of global climate science.

10.  Good day for mountains—Cameron Scott, San Francisco Chronicle 9/12/09 Begins with an update on EPA review of all mountaintop removal mining permits and finishes with a template letter directed to the Council on Environmental Quality.

11.  Utah needs federal mercury regulations for gold mines—Lynn De Freitas, Maunsel Pearce, Bonnie Gestring, SLT 9/11/09

12.  Meet the real Van Jones—Judith Lewis, Los Angeles Times 9/11/09,0,6620269.story

13.  Want to build brain power on the cheap?  Go native—Rob Pudim, SLT 9/11/09

Keep in Mind

14.  Colorado man appears in court on artifact charges—Keith Coffman, SLT 9/14/09

15.  Should Cedar Breaks become a national park?—Mark Havnes, SLT 9/14/09

16.  Water measured from the sky—Kari Lydersen, Washington Post 9/14/09

17.  Utah areas make list of ‘imperiled’ land—AP, SLT 9/13/09

18.  UN officials to visit Glacier Park next week—Northwest Montana News Network, Daily Inter Lake 9/13/09

19.  RSPB accused of damaging British environment in bid to save birds—David Adam, The Observer 9/13/09

20.  Environment took hits but is making progress—Rhiannon Meyers, Galveston County Daily News 9/13/09

21.  Homegrown businesses help backyard gardeners—Dawn House, SLT 9/12/09

22.   Turning to windmills, but resistance lingers—Abby Goodnough, New York Times 9/12/09

23.  Clean water laws are neglected, at a cost in suffering—Charles Duhigg, New York Times 9/12/09

24.  Connecting the loop:  Trail association honored for work—Allen Gemaehlich, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel 9/12/09

25.  A massive idea to reforest Appalachian mine sites—Bill Estep, McClatchy Newspapers, Richmond Times-Dispatch 9/12/09

26.  Environment to round off GDP as measure of Europe’s success—Circle of Blue Waternews 9/12/09

ESR Editor’s note:  Circle of Blue in its “About” page calls itself “the international network of leading journalists, scientists and communications design experts that reports and presents the information necessary to respond to the global freshwater crisis”, associated with water, climate and policy think tank, the Pacific Institute.

27.  Bishop says Utah not getting wildfire money—Thomas Burr, SLT 9/11/09

28.  Matheson asks Herbert to reject EnergySolutions’ $3B offer—Matt Canham, Thomas Burr, SLT 9/11/09

29.  Road to Angel Arch takes detour—through court—Patty Henetz, SLT 9/11/09

30.  Trees get a ‘bank’ account—Jeremiah Stettler, SLT 9/11/09

31.  E.P.A. will review 79 coal mining applications—AP, The New York Times 9/11/09

79 permits in Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio and Tennessee will receive additional review by the EPA to ensure proposed mines won’t pollute area waters or violate the Clean Air Act.  All 79 are expected to affect air quality.

32.  Survey:  Dioxin levels high in Vietnam near US base—AP, The Boston Globe 9/11/09

33.  Bechtel to build solar plant in California—UPI 9/11/09

34.  Army to move forward with tortoise relocation—David Danelski, The Press-Enterprise (San Bernardino County, Ca.) 9/11/09

35.  New desert tortoise translocation put on hold—Press Release, Center for Biological Diversity 9/11/09

36.  BLM to revise desert tortoise environmental assessment—Press Release, Bureau of Land Management 9/11/09

37.  Agrium sues US government, saying it should help pay for cleanup of Idaho phosphate mines—John Miller, AP, Washington Examiner 9/9/09

38.  Environmental groups say they’ll sue to stop uranium mine near Grand Canyon from reopening—AP, Washington Examiner 9/8/09

39.  Nye Co. commissioner appeals USFS roads plan—AP, San Francisco Examiner 9/08/09

Roundup Friday September 11, 2009

1.  Dispute roils over route to remote Utah landmark—AP, SLT 9/11/09

A lawsuit filed by San Juan County in 2004 contests the National Park Service’s decision to permanently close the unpaved route into a southeastern portion of Canyonlands leading to Angel Arch.  The route was a popular OHV route for locals and a hotly contested issue.  Under a Civil War era law titled RS 2477, the county claims ownership of the road and the right to keep it open.  The park service will argue that the county hasn’t proved legitimate ownership in the trial that begins Monday.

2.  Federal judge says gray wolf hunts can continue—Matthew Brown, AP, SLT 9/09/09

The decision follows from a request filed by environmentalists and others who have sought to overturn hunts reinstated after delisting of the gray wolf in Montana and Idaho.  The decision found that 20% kill rates of an estimated 1,350 wolf population would not impose long-term harm.  Federal biologists have pegged the threshold at a 30% reduction.

One side note indicated that due to the singling out of Wyoming in the three states and not de-listing wolves there, US Fish and Wildlife may have violated the Endangered Species Act by basing its decision on political boundaries.  If so, environmentalists may have a resource for enforcing their aims.   “The Service has distinguished a natural population of wolves based on a political line, not the best available science,” the opinion reads.  “That, by definition, seems arbitrary and capricious.”

“If they violated the endangered species act, then this population eventually is going to have to go back on the [endangered] list,” an Earthjustice attorney representing 14 groups opposed to the hunts said.  Attorney Doug Honnold said he “took no comfort” in the opinion that the wolves were resilient enough to endure the hunt without threat to future population.  Three wolves have been taken in Idaho since the Sept. 1 season open, with up to 220 wolves allowed under Idaho’s quota.  Montana, with a 75 wolf quota, will open their season Sept. 15.

A spokesman with Idaho Fish and Game said “Everything is working just like we planned, which shouldn’t be a surprise since we’ve done this for years with other critters.”  Last year’s ruling by the same judge kept wolves in Idaho and Montana as well as Wyoming on the endangered list until delisting in Montana and Idaho in May.

3.  State Fair strives for a green ribbon—Ben Fulton, SLT 9/09/09

While last year’s Utah State Fair featured 25 blue 65-gallon recycling bins, and collected 9 tons of cardboard and 3 tons of plastic from the 327,000, 11-day crowd, officials hope this year to up the recyclability of even more waste generated by the popular event.  While last year saw manure delivered to waste transfer stations for use as an absorbent, this year animal waste will go to topsoil enrichment.  Food oils will be recovered again and an additional 125 recycling bins will be added.

“It’s a journey,” one fair employee said while distributing the bins.  “They go all over the grounds.  It’s like a treasure hunt.”  Lightbulbs that are no longer useable will be returned to the manufacturer for recycling.  Recycled paper towels and toilet paper were purchased for the fair, now in its 154th year, and Mount Olympus will be unveiling biodegradable water bottles.

The fair’s director of operations continues to search out more recycling possibilities for the event.  At a recent San Diego County Fair visit, the director, now in the 4th year of his tenure, found a 95% recycling rate.  “It took them 20 years to get to that point,” director Andy Carlino said.  “It’s a definite challenge, but hopefully it will take us only two.”  Boy Scout troops will help direct fair-goers to the bins over the weekends.  Juvenile labor from the 3rd District Court will be used to sort recyclables into larger bins.

Green bins for leftover food waste are planned for next year’s event, providing a waste stream for additional compost.  Because the fair is a self-funded nonprofit, further recycling efforts await a larger budget.  Officials say recycling has no profitability.  Last year’s recycling efforts also saw an isolated incident where a man emerged from a 30-yard bin slugging when paper and plastic from smaller bins was dumped on him.  Carlino said “We’re hoping people will take the initiative to help us here.  It’s got to be a joint effort from everyone, or it doesn’t work.”

4.  Dangerous chemicals mishandled, feds say—Erin Alberty, SLT 9/09/09

The EPA has filed suit on Parish Chemical Co. in Utah County for allowing hundreds of gallons of various chemical discards to be stored in open, unlabeled containers at its manufacturing plant. The suit  identified failing containers found on inspection, and the 2008 visit also found EPA crews removing hundreds of containers “to reduce the potential of fire and/or explosion threat,” in order to prevent spillage.

Methylene chloride, acetone, petroleum, ether, benzene, toluene and perchloric acid were among the volatile and flammable solvents and materials identified.  Inspections dating back to 2007 found thousands of gallons of discarded chemicals unlabeled, labeled “?”  or “Unknown, Label Mis-ing”.  Incomplete records were reported, drums collapsed or degraded, and hazardous waste years beyond a 90-day storage limit.  Tank inspections and air emissions tests had no record.  No liability insurance for accidents was found.  The EPA’s response is priced at $640,000 in the suit, which also is seeking penalties of between $32,500 and $37,500 per violation.

Uintah Pharmaceutical Corp. has been named a defendant, though the company solely exists as the landowner of record.  Parish Chemicals says on its website that it produces chemicals for pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and chemical manufacturing companies.  Parish was sued by the EPA as far back as 1997 for 1992 fire cleanup costs. That lawsuit also named extensive illegal chemical storage issues.

While fire investigators found arson responsible, Parish’s president Wesley Parish accused federal authorities of touching off the fire.  Parish served as an undercover informant for a sting involving the sale of chemicals to illegal stimulant manufacturers.  According to Parish, the fire was set because he refused to continue cooperating with authorities.  The lawsuit Parish filed against the US Drug Enforcement Administration and federal law enforcement agencies was dismissed.

5.  Utah-Nevada water plan draws fire—Patty Henetz, SLT 9/09/09

A citizen’s meeting sponsored by the Great Basin Water Network and the Utah Association of Counties drew opposition from citizens for the Utah-Nevada water settlement based on the idea that the agreement has overestimated water availability in the West Desert.  Many citizens and experts questions why secrecy for some parts of the deal were still maintained, especially since potential harm to area residents and the environment is perceived to be high.

“We don’t have any surplus water in Snake Valley.  For goodness sake, we’re the epicenter of the drought,” Callao area longtime rancher Cecil Garland said.  All four recent public hearings unveiling the plan have drawn opposition from ranchers, conservationists and elected officials alike from the two states.  The deal is a preliminary to the 300-mile Las Vegas pipeline, which, if approved would draw 50,000-60,000 acre-feet of water from the region.

State-sponsored hearings allowed questions but no public comment and no recording or note-taking occurred.  Tuesday and Wednesday nights’ hearings were organized to remedy the shunted public input and provide Governor Herbert and elected officials with a public record.  The US Geological Survey has suggested the water table is likely to drop over 100 feet, allowing soils in the Snake Valley to dry up and blow away, Garland said.

Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment’s Brian Moench said east-blowing Nevada dust storms hitting the Wasatch Front would bring toxic substances like radioactive erionite, left over from Nevada’s long history as a nuclear testing site.  In addition, spores causing the potentially deadly valley fever would be spread with airborne soils.

6.  Chinese solar plant expected to be the biggest—AP, SLT 9/8/09

Solar cell manufacturing kingpin First Solar says the Chinese government has offered initial approval for the plant.  The 10-year deal would site the plant in China’s desert region of Inner Mongolia, and cover 25 square miles with panels, roughly a bit larger than Manhattan.  The field would produce 2 gigawatts, far more than any other field across the globe, the equivalent of two coal-fired power plants or supply for 3 million homes.

The company’s CEO said the size of the plant would be impossible to achieve in the US due to a lack of transmission capability.   Government agencies, environmental groups and opposing residents further push such capability away from areas that technically would be large enough in land mass.  “In the U.S., energy policy is made on the state level,” CEO Mike Ahearn said.  “Every state has a different approach.”  China on the other hand has designated a renewable energy generation and transmission region.  Approval will be fast-tracked and profitability virtually guaranteed.

The market price for the Tempe, Az. company’s project has yet to be decided, along with other particulars.  Ahearn estimated the cost at $5-$6 billion to build, though labor is expected to cost less in China.  Sales of the energy will generate profit, but China’s subsidy has yet to be determined.  A “feed-in tariff” is expected to price fix solar energy for utilities for a number of years.

7.  U. to help ‘stimulate’ geothermal production—Brian Maffly, SLT 9/8/09

Over $7 million in federal dollars will go to the Energy and Geoscience Institute’s program for “stimulating fissures in heat-bearing rock utilizing injections of high pressure water.  “Using these techniques to increase pathways in the rock for hot water and steam would increase availability of geothermal energy across the country,” U. geologist Ray Levey said in a news release.  The project is aimed at US Geothermal Inc.’s Raft River power plant located in southeastern Idaho.

“Hot rock is present across the United States, but new methods have to be developed to use the heat in these rocks to produce geothermal power.” the project’s leader said.  “There’s incredible potential in Utah and other states for geothermal development.”  Levey and project leader geologist Joe Moore are research engineering professors.  By making the hot rock formations below more permeable, electrical output for Raft River could increase by a factor of 10.  Cold-water injections followed by high pressure should spread fissures for greater heat release.

8.  Goshutes agree to improve public water system—Pamela Manson, SLT 9/8/09

Due to a federal government complaint filed in US District Court against the Skull Valley Band Goshute Indians under the Safe Water Drinking Act, the tribe has agreed to pay a fine and make water system improvements.  The complaint was filed against the tribe as well as tribe-owned Pony Express Store, a convenience store that supplies the community with water.  Improvements are expected to cost $3,750 and the civil penalty levied was $1,250.

9.  Bogus bidder:  I did it for the good of the planet—Christopher Smart, SLT 9/8/09

Attorneys for Tim DeChristopher, the civil disobedient who bid on oil and gas leases in Utah in December 2008 at a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease sale in an attempt to block the sale of leases to developers, have called for the US District Court Judge hearing DeChristopher’s case to dismiss a significant government motion. The motion would prevent DeChristopher from arguing his actions were motivated by the threat of global warming.

“The government is not entitled by way of motion to invade DeChristopher’s attorney-client privileges,” defense attorneys said, “or to violate his Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and 14th Amendment rights to prepare his defense to serious criminal charges.”  A separate motion seeks information from federal prosecutors over the question of whether other individuals or corporations have ever failed to pay for oil and gas lease bids and whether they were prosecuted.

DeChristopher’s attorney Pat Shea, a Clinton-era BLM head, said Constitutional guarantees offer DeChristopher a “full and complete defense, rather than a trimmed defense when the trimming is done by the government.”  In response to a two-count federal indictment, DeChristopher pleaded not guilty in April.  He bid a combined $1.8 million for 14 leases around Arches and Canyonlands national parks and admitted he had no intention of paying.

Federal prosecutors argued in May that a civil disobedience defense based on fighting the climate crisis would antagonize a jury and serve to encourage lawlessness.  “Accordingly, at trial,” US Attorney for Utah Brett Tolman’s motion reads, “defense counsel should focus the jury’s attention on facts and not try to confuse it with appeals based on emotion, sympathy or other similar conclusions.”

One expert perspective argues that prosecutors are attempting to block the civil-disobedience defense out of a fear some jurors could side with DeChristopher, regardless of the false bids.  Others say DeChristopher needs the defense to fight the charges.  Federal prosecutors must prove DeChristopher guilty, Shea said.  “They want a straight rendition of the facts that transpired on Dec. 19, 2008,” Shea said.  “We want a contextual examination of those events within the parameters of global warming,” He added.  A hearing motion has been set for Sept. 25.

10.  Campaign seeks to stem killing of grizzlies—Matthew Brown, AP, SLT 9/7/09

The plan comes in response to record numbers of deaths last year in the greater Yellowstone region.  Backcountry patrols are part of the federal and state wildlife agencies’ plan, as well as ramped-up warnings, education campaigns and behavior change recommendations to pepper spray in place of weapons.  Of 79 grizzly bear deaths, 48 were killed by humans in 2008, including self defense and hunters mistaking the animals for black bears.

Wildlife experts estimate around 600 grizzlies in the Idaho, Montana and Wyoming region that makes up the greater Yellowstone.  De-listed from the federal endangered species listing in 2007, intentional shootings remain outlawed.  Seventeen have been killed this year so far, and a second year of consecutive high death rates will mandate endangered status review.  Biologists who monitor the region say the population is strong and growth averages 4-5% per year in the 15,000 square mile region.

Even in the wake of prolonged drought, adequate moisture recently has provided plentiful berry crops and other foods the bears favor, increasing optimism the bears will avoid human-based conditioning for forage.  Climate change, however, has spawned expansive die-off in whitebark pine forests, drastically reducing seed availability for the bears’ diet.  Lower food resources will likely increase human-bear conflicts.

A spokesperson for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, a conservation organization, wants to see hunters and hikers required to carry bear spray in the bears’ habitat.  “I don’t think education alone is necessarily going to address some of these issues,” the coalition spokesman said.  “In some cases, that’s going to mean we need both a carrot and a stick.”  Wildlife agency representatives in the region will meet in October to review the new campaign and make new decisions based on progress.

11.  Utah town no longer hawk monitor—AP, SLT 9/7/09

The Wellsville location that has served Hawk-watch International as an observation post and data collection site for over 30 years has been dropped due to staffing shortage and budget cutbacks.  The local Audobon society will sponsor volunteers during peak observation season and other volunteers are wanted for upcoming weeks.  Around 17 hawk species are tracked in the Cache Valley.


12.  Radioactive refusal—Tribune Editorial, SLT 9/08/09

Keep in Mind

13.  Reuters summit-September UN summit seen as key to climate deal, Reuters 9/10/09

14.  Milkvetch is put on protection list—Ami Joi O’Donoghue, Deseret News 9/10/09

15.  Think big by thinking small—Judith Lewis, Missoula Independent 9/10/09

On small power generation tied into the grid.

16.  Obama enviros now total 34—Ray Ring’s West, High Country News 9/10/09

17.  Book Cliffs, Uinta Forest on ‘imperiled lands’ list—Ami Joi O’Donoghue, Deseret News 9/10/09

18.   At long last, environmental supplement to the GDP takes shape—Paul Voosen, The New York Times 9/9/09

19.  Officials urge shoppers to remember reusable bags—Faroe Robinson, Deseret News 9/9/09

20.  Group sues over EPA’s review of air plans for Colorado, other states—AP, Vail Daily 9/9/09

21.  Hogle elephant calf ‘a ton of energy’—Matthew D. LaPlante, SLT 9/8/09

22.  Conference to open eyes to local food systems—Staci Matlock, The New Mexican, 9/8/09

23.  Utah faces more than 9 degree increase over next 100 years—The Nature Conservancy, 8/27/09

Roundup Tuesday September 8, 2009

1.  Energy makeover illustrates potential of green jobs—Judy Fahys, SLT 9/5/09

Salt Lake Community College Green Academy is putting the finishing touches on a Kearns-area project home, dubbed an “Idea House”.  The foreclosed home has been renovated with energy-efficient appliances, additional insulation and a 3-kilowatt solar panel system among other efficiency upgrades.  Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, dropping by with a handful of Utah legislators, called the green-leaning home “impressive.”

“This is a wonderful example of what we can do,” Herbert added, with thanks to the Community Development Corporation of Utah, Salt Lake County, Salt Lake Community College and the Utah Solar Association (USA).  USA president Orrin Farnsworth sees programs such as the community college’s Green Academy filling a skyrocketing market need.

“The demand is so high,” Farnsworth said of this year’s business, “we can’t get enough people trained fast enough to get the job done.”  Farnsworth notes that the green technology job market is expected to increase by 40,000 positions a year across the nation.  USA reported a 25-30% price drop last year, making systems much more affordable.  A mid-sized system like the Kearns one could run about $25,000 before incentives, which would cut thousands off the bill.

New battery and solar cell products too are dropping system prices, at a time when climate legislation is expected to increase electricity bills.  Tax credits and rebates currently are complemented by a 30% federal energy credit.  Utah could also see additional in-state incentives sponsored by enthusiastic legislators.

USA’s executive director speculated of the Kearns home; “It’s realistic to potentially have no energy bills.”  Farnsworth was very optimistic over the shift to a greener job market and economy.  “It’s all about jobs,” Farnsworth commented, “and Utah has the biggest potential in the country because of the environment,”—and Utah’s workforce.

2.  Hunters pass on opening day of dolphin season—NPR 9/5/09

Dolphin hunting season opened in Japan this week, a six month season when dolphins are rounded up by the thousands in narrow coves and taken captive for aquariums and amusement parks seeking to feature dolphins.  A number are killed for consumption.  The fishing village of Taiji was the site for a covert 2009 documentary titled The Cove, which has changed dolphin hunting traditions in the village.

While filming was barred by law enforcement as well as village fishers, activists and filmmakers working undercover produced the documentary which won the Audience Award at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and produced international outcry.  Taiji’s sister city in Western Australia, Broome, reacted by ceasing its partnership as long as dolphins are being killed.

Activist Ric O’Barry, the film’s main persona, returned to Taiji with a cadre of international journalists for the season’s opening day, but observed neither dolphin killing nor fishing.  Of the day he blogged, “Today is a good day for dolphins.”

Optimism is tempered with caution, as he sees the hunters contemplating their future.  “’Should we go out?  Should we be exposed?  The world is watching.’  And so far, they haven’t killed any dolphins.”  O’Barry adds, “I’m hoping it’s over, that they’ll just give up and stop killing dolphins.”  On the other hand, he recognizes the situation is far from over.  “We don’t know what’s going to happen.  It’s a day-by-day thing here.  We just don’t know.”

3.  Obama ‘Green Jobs’ adviser quits amid controversy—AP, NPR 9/6/09

Environmental advisor to the Obama administration Van Jones has quit amid an uproar following past statements he made in relation to Republicans and the 2001 terrorist attacks.  Jones called the backlash a “vicious smear campaign against me.  The administration received notice unexpectedly by e-mail Sunday.  Working with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Jones was the administration’s “green jobs” specialist.

A spokesman for the Obama administration said the president did not endorse the comments made by Jones, but was grateful for his service.  “What Van Jones decided was that the agenda of this president was bigger than any one individual,” the spokesman said, adding Jones “understood he was going to get in the way,” becoming a liability for the administration.

Thursday, Jones issued an apology for the previous statements.  News reports said Jones made a derogatory comment about Republicans, and his name appeared on a 2004 petition seeking congressional hearings and investigations into the possibility that top-level government officials had allowed the 2001 terrorist attacks to occur.

Jones replied in his statement of resignation; “On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me.  They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide.”  Former Democratic National Committee head Howard Dean said on “Fox News Sunday” that Jones was “brought down” and called the resignation “a loss to the country.”

While Jones admits he has been deluged with calls from liberals, conservatives and all points in between urging him to “stay and fight”, he recognizes the energy and time the administration would spend away from more important issues.  An earlier statement by Jones denied that the petition’s views on the terrorist attacks ever mirrored his views.  Of other statements he made, Jones said; “If I have offended anyone with statements I made in the past, I apologize.”

Republicans demanded Jones’s resignation.  A statement from Indiana Rep. Mike Pence read; “His extremist views and coarse rhetoric have no place in this administration or the public debate.”  Senator Christopher Bond of Missouri called for a congressional investigation into Jones’s job fitness.  Glenn Beck of the Fox News Channel denounced Jones after Jones’s  promoted an advertising boycott against the show Beck hosts to protest the claim that Obama is a racist.

ColorofChange’s executive director disputed the idea that Jones was connected with the group or evolution of the campaign.  Jones has been very familiar to the environmental movement and a California civil rights activist ahead of his environmental/energy focus.  While he has promoted a broad view for a green economy, conservatives have bashed him for left-wing political views.

The chair of the Council on Environmental Quality accepted his resignation and expressed gratitude for his service.  “Over the last six months, he had been a strong voice for creating jobs that improve energy efficiency and utilize renewable resources,” she responded.  “We appreciate his hard work and wish him the best moving forward.”

4.  No scientists or environmentalists at Herbert & Hatch’s cap-and-trade forum—Elizabeth Ziegler, KCPW Salt Lake City 9/3/09

A public forum hosted at Utah’s capital today by Governor Gary Herbert and Senator Orrin Hatch on the federal cap-and-trade bill in Congress will hear only from speakers who apparently reject the legislation, though Herbert commented to reporters last week that he sought to hear from all sides of the climate change debate and wanted to focus on the science.  “It should be about scientific opinion that leads public opinion.  I support President Barack Obama when he said, ‘Let’s let the science and not ideology dictate what policy is,” Herbert said last week.

The forum, however, has no scientist or environmental group on the agenda.  Representatives of agriculture and the oil industry are expected to comment on the financial impact of the bill.  Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club’s Clair Jones was surprised.  “It’s really mystifying to me why [Herbert] would then be so quick to host a cost-benefit analysis of the Waxman-Markey bill without even inviting anyone who can accurately represent the benefit that this bill could have for our state.”

A spokeswoman said Herbert was attending the event at the behest of Senator Hatch.  She added that Herbert was still committed to a larger, more elaborate climate change forum where scientists and environmental groups would be represented alongside others.

5.  Hatch, Herbert dislike cap-and-trade measure—Amy Joi O’Donoghue, Deseret News 9/4/09

Some of Utah’s leaders predicted economic catastrophe should the cap-and-trade legislation in Congress become law in Thursday’s forum on the legislation at the state capitol.  “It is very telling that India, China and Mexico have all balked at committing to strong carbon reductions,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah spoke.  “The fact of the matter is that even with US and European leadership, we could very well end up going it alone.  Considering the pain Utahns would be asked to bear, and the loss of competitiveness for our entire nation, Waxman-Markey is a risk I am not willing to take.”

The forum, hosted by Senator Hatch and Governor Herbert, outlined potential costs of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, HR2454.  Senior leaders from the Utah Petroleum Association and the Utah Farm Bureau Federation as well as Utah power supplier representatives were on hand for the forum.  Attendees criticized across-the-board price hikes that they say Utahns can expect if utility companies, refineries, farmers and ranchers must cut carbon emissions or buy emissions allowances.

Statistically, critics said gas prices would jump at least 20 cents by 2012 and $1.38 per gallon by 2035, not counting unforeseen impacts like shortages or hurricanes.  Agricultural exports that topped $115 billion in 2007 would be threatened by US competitors who wouldn’t have to operate under the same stringent, expensive laws.  Electrical utilities expect to raise rates by double-digits.

National job losses from the bill in economic studies stretch from The Brookings Institution’s find that 1.7 million would be lost annually to the Heritage Foundation’s 2.5 million predicted job losses per year between 2035 and 2050.  The Heritage Foundation also predicts 24,000 jobs will be lost in Utah per year under the bill with a $4 billion gross product base loss in the state in 2035.

Deseret Power’s head declared the bill especially punitive to Utah and other Intermountain West states due to the states’ reliance on coal.  A Rocky Mountain Power executive argued that attainable renewable energy goals for both industry and consumers was better than having carbon emitting businesses buy expensive allowances.  She added that all-electric cars would still need a dependable power source.  “Give us our goals and let us manage our goals.  Don’t give us cap-and-trade,” the executive said.

“Cap and Trade:  The Cost to Utah” is available at Hatch’s website:

6.  Oregon group connects local timber owners with local homebuilders—Matthew Preusch, The Oregonian 9/3/09

In homes like the Grangers’ home in Portland, native Bigleaf maple provides flooring, Douglas fir from the coast range provides the trim, and counters were provided from walnut trees that once grew in the yard.  Portland is home to a burgeoning movement that seeks to do for homebuilding what the eat-local movement has done for local growers and producers.

“We have a real opportunity here to not only connect people with wood, but connect them with the forest ecosystems that provide that wood,” Ecotrust’s director of forestry said.  Most homes have been fashioned from products of nameless origin, homogenized by builders, home supply stores, lumber yards, mills and forest owners.  Knowing the provenance of one’s accoutrements of home has a special appeal, much like the connections the eat-local movement cultivates.

The Grangers had reducing the carbon footprint of construction of their home in mind last year when they began work on the new structure.  “It’s nice to know where your wood comes from, that it’s not just from China,” Julie Granger said.  They hired Stephen Aiguier of local design and build firm Green Hammer.  Aiguier and a local timberland owner formed the Build Local Alliance in 2005 to form a local-only supply chain between architects, homebuilders, contractors, lumber yards and forest owners.

The alliance has expanded to 150 members offering quality wood and a sustainable source.  Local forest owners in the alliance offer a sustainable alternative to industrial tree farming and receive supportive business while development and sprawl threatens small local timberlands.  “In the same way the local food movement is driven by quality, a lot of this is driven by builders and customers just wanting quality material,” Alliance co-founder and timber owner Peter Hayes said.  “It’s not necessarily about saving the earth or a certain type of forestry.  It’s about a quality product.”

Hayes, a member of the Oregon Board of Forestry, and his family manages three Coast Range forests west of Portland.  His forestry values emphasize ecological values such as water quality and wildlife habitat while working to make a profit.  Mono-culture tree farms featuring Oregon’s moneymaker the Douglas fir have been supplanted with diverse species.  Aiguier brings sustainably grown timber to customers who appreciate such species as maples that often are removed from industrial forests to make way for popularly consumed species.

Speaking of his knotty maple floors made of Aiguier’s trees, Bob Granger said they “ended up superb.”  While the idea is good, and customers are likely to appreciate the concept, Hayes and others do not believe it would be practical on a large scale.  They’re working on wholesale distribution for small foresters that would keep tree products in the neighborhood.

Alliance member Sustainable Northwest has opened a lumber yard in Vancouver that features all wood products like trim, flooring or two-by-fours from northern California, Oregon or Washington forests.  Lumber companies like Parr Lumber that specially market the wood or warehouse the product for consumers looking for a locally-sourced product are Sustainable’s customers.

“While there was a fairly robust land base and milling infrastructure and demand for the product, all too often the market connection was not being made.  The reason was there often was not a standing supply of local inventory,” a Sustainable executive said.  “It’s surprising the growth we’ve had given economic conditions,” he added.

Currently prices for locally-grown or Forest Stewardship Council certified lumber runs 5-25% more than conventional lumber.  As efficiency increases in the supply chain, experts think the price will drop.  Aiguier calls it a small premium to pay to support responsible forestry and local business, and wants the local forest product trend to become as ubiquitous as seeking locally grown tomatoes.

“We’ve been pretty successful on a micro scale of getting local wood headed through local hands to local projects,” he remarked.  “But I think we’re at the point where we need to up the ante a little bit to move beyond the low-hanging fruit and start talking to larger builders and home supply stores.”

7.  Emissions linked to end of 2,000-year arctic trend—Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post 9/4/09

Anthropogenically created greenhouse gas emissions have brought to an end a 2,000-year Arctic cooling trend, a study published online in the journal Science said Thursday.  The study says Arctic temperatures over the last decade were warmer than at any time since 1 B.C.  Over a dozen lake sediment cores, glacier ice and Arctic tree ring records were tapped for the study, which shows in a broad sense industrial emission impacts on the Arctic’s millennium-long natural climate patterns.  The Science online study and one on the region issued Wednesday by the World Wildlife Fund predict sweeping changes both for the Arctic and the rest of the globe.

“It’s basically saying the greenhouse gas emissions are overwhelming the system,” one co-author, a visiting scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said.  Reconstructing the Arctic’s climate 2,000 years ago, 30 researchers from the US, Britain, Denmark, Norway, Canada and Finland brought diverse perspectives into the study.  One such perspective focused on the Earth’s wobble on its axis of rotation as it orbits the sun.  Climate skeptics have pointed to wobble as the current cause of global warming, but the recent study shows wobble accounted for the long Arctic cooling trend, a change present only in the last half-century.

In the study, researchers modeled the distance of the earth from the sun midsummer 2,000 years ago.  The models suggest the Earth was 620,000 miles closer to the sun back then.  The cooling trend in the Arctic follows from increasing distance since then, but the Earth is still moving away from the sun in its summertime orbit, a trend expected to last through the 21st century.  In contrast to the natural cycle, temperatures are about 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer.

Previous paleo-climate analyses of the region reached back only 400 years.  New lakebed sediment cores have offered a much older regional assessment.  The distribution of lakes in the Arctic makes the cores better than tree rings or glaciers for comprehensively sizing up the arctic’s past.  Issues from annual glacier melt to how much algae grew in the ice-free season became measurable.  An Arctic lake expert from Queen’s University called the sediments “a black box for the ecosystem,” pointing out they are both pristine and comprehensive in terms of the yearly biological and physical data they have collected.  “We have really strong barometers of what’s happening in the Arctic,” he added.

The director for the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder called the study significant for confirming scientific understanding of climate change over thousands of years.  Prominent climate change skeptic and Science and Environmental Policy Project head Fred Singer argues the study doesn’t reflect other findings regarding the Medieval Warm Period, a period between A.D. 800 and 1300 with warmer temperatures “than even the past 30 years,” Singer said.

Medieval Warm Period research has focused primarily on Europe, and the natural record produced by the Arctic suggests Arctic temps weren’t as warm.  One short period in the early 5th century saw Arctic temps approach recent summer temps.  The chairman of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment called the study a likely “seminal piece in the scientific literature” for the length of scale it offered climate scientists.  Parallels with computer modeling on Arctic temps over time offers scientists confidence in predictive modeling of warming in the Arctic and elsewhere, the study’s lead author noted.

The World Wildlife fund study attempts to illustrate the ways that Arctic shifts from global warming are likely to affect global weather patterns, impacting agriculture, forestry and water supplies worldwide.  The report’s lead author has said that recent Arctic warming “has triggered effects that will come back and affect the rest of the world, in terms of climate change.”  He argues that unless countries work together to significantly reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, higher Arctic temperatures would thaw the permafrost, leading to enormous greenhouse gas releases into the atmosphere.  Sea ice loss would lower the region’s natural sunlight reflectivity as well, and feedbacks from Arctic warming could get out of control.

8.  Recording the sounds of the West—Thomas Curwen, Los Angeles Times 9/4/09,0,1447793.story

Librarians Jeff Rice and Kenning Arlitsch are librarians with the Western Soundscape Archive, which maintains a digital database of sounds archived by the J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah.  Recently the pair was out for several days collecting audio footage in Range Creek, a canyon billed as a treasure trove of archaic Indian artifacts that the University has taken under management.  Parabolic dish, Sennheiser microphones, a Sound Devices 50-gig recorder, portable recorder, lapel mikes, Sony recorder, bat detector, hydrophone for fish, lots of AA batteries and an SUV characterize the duo’s multi-day excursion.  Rice has fished for sounds in a beehive, near a coiled rattlesnake, in the roost of Mexican free-tail bats and close to elephant seals.

The longtime private ranch was first opened to the public only as recently as 2004, and remains carefully protected close to the Green River and Desolation Canyon in the sheer Book Cliffs region.  The isolation provides ripe context for sounds sans interference of man-made noise, sounds that are virtually endangered.  Past the ranch complex, the SUV moves off towards an open field, passing a log cabin yet before sunrise, caved in by a fallen cottonwood.  Ranch owner Budge Wilcox took over the 1,600 acre ranch in 1951.  Indians resided here en masse between AD 800 and 1350.  Wilcox’s son sold the canyon to the Bureau of Land Management in 2001.

The canyon has held a semi-mystical reputation.  Lectures have footnoted the place, speculation in local bars has grown ripe, while over the last 8 years, 400 sites replete with rock art, granaries, pit houses and so forth have been discovered, remnants of the ancient Fremont Indian culture, neighbors of the Anasazi.  Rice and Arlitsch hope to capture the aural environment the Fremont inhabited over 700 years ago.

“He gets out, grabs his gear and, just off the road, extends the legs of a tripod and fastens to the top a large, zucchini-shaped microphone.  He pulls a wind sock around it.  White and hairy, it looks like a plump Pekingese.  In the surrounding trees, a few whistles and squawks have begun,” Thomas Curwen reported.  He notes that Utah and the Southwest are “prized among recordists for minimal atmospheric attenuation, the humidity or air turbulence that alters and mutes sound waves.”

Other sound libraries include the Macaulay Library at Cornell, the Borror Laboratory of Bioacoustics in Ohio and the Florida Museum of Natural History.  The Marriott Library at the University of Utah focuses on sounds of the West.  Rice worked as a radio journalist and came up with the archive idea from leftover background sounds in interviews.  While pondering the archive idea and acting as an internet curator, he called the Marriott Library and connected with Arlitsch.  Arlitsch recognized the value and potential of an online archive accessible to anyone.

The archive was launched in 2007 on $15,000, and Rice cultivated archival material from Utah and other recordists.  A $350,000 federal grant matched by the university funds the project through the end of 2010.  Around 1,500 recordings catalog 90% of the birds in West’s 11 states, 95% of the frogs and toads, around 24 reptiles and almost a quarter of the mammals.

“The pallid light of dawn has begun to push the night aside,” Curwen writes.  “Rice likes what he is hearing.  The course of the creek is wide and slow, its sound less insistent.  He begins his recording by establishing the setting:  ‘5:02 a.m…July 1…Range Creek…70 degrees…Calm…4,890 elevation.’  In the east, Venus shines through a break in the clouds.”

Colleague Gordon Hempton says “the archive is as important as the photographs of Edward Curtis.  We can look at those images and even though we’re not in that moment, in a way we are.”  Hempton calls himself an “acoustic ecologist”, and his 30 years of recording has made him well aware of how rapidly soundscapes are disappearing.

Artist Maya Lin requested audio from Rice for her “What is Missing?” memorial in San Francisco, focusing on biodiversity and habitat loss.  Seeking Yellowstone River audio, Rice recorded in the park in May for several mornings at 45 minute stretches between 4:30 a.m. and the rise of automotive noise.  Lin and Rice both are commemorating the losses of people, places and animals around us.

“But if his work is elegiac, it is also exuberant.  Its appeal is visceral:  a moose stomping across a stream in Utah, thunderclaps in Oregon,” Curwen writes.  “His recording of boreal chorus frogs captures a distant train, and if you listen carefully to the waves at Nye Beach, Ore., you will hear the jingling leash of a dog running by.”

Rice sets up the recording system and he and Arlitsch and the reporter move down the road.  At the gate they walk on to the south.  In three days they have documented a night, two dawns, eight wild turkeys and hundreds of cicadas, “hidden one late afternoon inside a row of sunlit box elders, the unrelenting tsssssss suggesting the rhythmic intensity of a Phillip Glass score.  But it is the call of the noctournal poor will, captured late one night in the woods beside a meadow, that is the most exquisite,” Curwen pens.

Up a steep grade, they arrive at a large painted image, colored red by mountain mahogany.  The anthropomorph has broad shoulders, horns or maybe ears, faces east.  Between the horns is a patch of color reminiscent of fire.  On the ceiling, white handprints appear.  Archaeoacoustics is based on the premise that artifacts carry acoustic properties useful in illuminating the primitive culture.  One such set of studies has focused on how echoes impacted pictographs and petroglyphs.  Hempton has considered the possibility that fire rings mark the convergence of sounds from surrounding cliffs.

“Such theories are highly speculative, but here, beneath this pictograph, the sounds of the dawn rise up from the gentle bow of the river, the narrowing of the canyon:  the ebbing stridulations of the crickets, the incipient bird song and the gravelly purr of the creek,” Curwen writes.  “Chrrr.  Chrrr.  Chrrr.   Tsip.  Tsip.  Peew.  Peew.  Wzzzzzzzzzz.”

As Rice records the cave sounds, the intersection of past and present is for a brief time a place of speculation over what the Fremont might have heard while painting here, as silence goes the way of the Fremont.  The hope is that moments of silence such as this will offer a deeper connection to the canyon’s ecology past the rocks, pinyons, junipers and sky.  Meanwhile jets and ATVs scorch the soundscape beyond.

“To listen here is to step into the heat-seared, frostbitten, sun-blasted time of the Fremont.  It means exercising a deeper sentience, letting go of all expectations, to be thoughtless and anticipatory,” Curwen writes.  Quoting Hempton “with the simplicity of a koan,” Curwen quotes “You don’t know what you’re listening for because you haven’t heard it.”

A Cooper’s hawk startles in a stand of cottonwoods, loud, brusque, staccato.  Rice tracks it with the parabola dish at the road while it flies between a snag and the cliff, flashing a reddish-brown chest and white beneath the wings.

“Kek.  Kek.  Kek,” Curwen writes.  “A yellow-breasted chat flits from cottonwood to greasewood.  Chirrr-tweee.  Chirrr-tweee.

9.  NW power panel:  Save juice, build fewer plants—AP, Idaho Statesman 9/3/09

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council, which guides the Bonneville Power Administration, is advocating more compact fluorescent lightbulbs and fewer new carbon-emitting power plants in the Pacific Northwest.  The Council argues in a plan put forth Thursday that energy efficiency in homes, businesses and industry could go far in offsetting demands for more power in the four state region for the next 20 years.  Natural gas-fired plants and wind energy were in the plan, and coal was out.

Over the next 20 years, demand is projected to rise 1.2% per year.  The Council found that 85% of the demand could be achievable with greater efficiency, calling an aggressive efficiency plan “the most cost-effective and least-risky resource available.”  New power plants would cost twice as much.  The Council sets policy for the Administration in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

Executives with the BPA are required to follow the council’s 20-year plans.  Though investor-owned utilities are not governed by the plan, the council’s chair said they would in all likelihood view the plan as a blueprint.  Environmental groups were disappointed that the plan did not call for a reduction in present coal-fired electricity generation.

10.  ‘Green Jobs’ adviser’s past could stir trouble for White House at critical time—Fox 9/4/09

So-called “9/11 truthers”—Americans who say the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks may have been an inside job—are at the heart of the controversy surrounding President Obama’s “green jobs” adviser Van Jones.  Jones claims he didn’t read carefully a 2004 petition calling for an investigation into the Bush administration’s foreknowledge of the terrorist attacks.  Jones also apologized in his statement Thursday for inflammatory remarks made before joining the administration.

“In recent days some in the news media have reported on past statements I made before I joined the administration, some of which were made years ago.  If I have offended anyone with statements I made in the past, I apologize.  As for the petition [9/11 statement] that was circulated today, I do not agree with this statement and it certainly does not reflect my views now or ever.”

Jones signed the petition calling for then-New York Attorney Elliott Spitzer and others to launch an investigation into evidence that suggests “people within the current administration may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war.”  Other co-signers included former Rep. Cynthia McKinney and Code Pink co-founder Jodie Evans.

Wednesday Jones offered an apology for “offensive words” in February, when he called Republicans “assholes”.  He added the remarks did not in any way represent the views of the administration or its bipartisan efforts.  Past commentary by Jones could prove even more damaging for the administration and its health care and climate change efforts.

Racially charged language has been a mainstay for Jones, fingerpointing at “white polluters and the white environmentalists” for “steering poison” into minority and low-income communities.  Jones associated with a group that revered Mao Zedong, and declared himself a “communist” in the 1990’s.  The disclosures recall Obama’s denials of claims he was linked to radicals and overzealous activists.

The incident could hamstring Obama at a time when he most needs consensus built around health care reform, a level of consensus that was unavailable to President Clinton.  “In this environment, I think the Obama administration should be very careful of its dealings with anybody who can be labeled communist accurately,” a Georgetown University adjunct government professor said.  He added that such a connection would reinforce the right’s political sensibility that the Obama administration is literally socialist.

Jones has become about as mainstream as environmentalists come.  Former Vice President Al Gore said “I love Van Jones” in a New Yorker interview.  Leonardo DiCaprio, writing on Jones in Time magazine’s 100 “Most Influential People”, said “Steadily—by redefining green—Jones is making sure that our planet and our people will not just survive but also thrive in a clean-energy economy.”  Jones was named one of Time magazine’s “Heroes of the Environment 2008”, named one of’s “Sexiest Men Living” and authored the New York Times best-seller The Green Collar Economy in 2008 as well.

The book’s thesis is that “environmentalism and green jobs can lift up the economy and lift up low-income Americans,” Fox News reported.  Green for All, founded by Jones, creates green jobs in low-income areas, and Jones helped Oakland California develop a “green jobs corps” program in 2007.  The green jobs platform is also a feature of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights which he co-founded in 1996.  After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Jones co-founded Color of Change, an advocacy group focusing on black issues.

Thursday, Jones said “My work at the Council on Environmental Quality is entirely focused on one goal; building clean energy incentives, which create 21st century jobs that improve energy efficiency and use renewable resources.”  Previously, Jones’ “history has drifted between mainstream activism surrounding issues of race, poverty and the environment, and activity he has described as “revolutionary”, Fox News reported.

Jones was born in Tennessee and graduated from Yale Law School in 1993.  “But his life took a turn after he was swept up in arrests during a rally following the Rodney King verdict,” Fox News reported.  Though Jones claimed he was monitoring police activity at the time, he said people he met in jail changed his thinking.

“I met all these young radical people of color—I mean really radical, communists and anarchists.  And it was like, This is what I need to be a part of,” a 2005 East Bay Express interview reported.  The following 10 years in San Francisco involved working with many of those he met in jail, Jones said in the interview.  Months after the King verdict, Jones said “I am a communist.”

Jones became involved with Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM), self-described as a group committed to Marxist and Leninist ideas.  He began pressuring San Francisco police, “monitoring and drawing attention to allegations of police brutality,” Fox News reported.  He was quoted accusing the police department of “killing black people.”  He criticized the federal government during the Bush administration.  With associated groups, Jones attacked “US imperialism” after 9/11 and labeled the assumption that an Arab group was responsible a “rush to judgment”.

“You can’t nominate all of these czars…and then say, well, you know, I’m not responsible for all these people,” conservative commentator Anne Coulter said.  “People will start to blame Obama.”  The White House had been very confident in the “green jobs visionary”.

11.  Secretary of State Clinton sued over tar sands pipeline permit—Environment News Service 9/3/09

Four Native American and environmental groups have challenged the Alberta Clipper Pipeline, a tar sands oil pipeline from northern Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin where the oil would be refined.  The US State Department approved the Enbridge Energy pipeline in August, which would bring 450,000 barrels of oil a day into the US.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Deputy Secretary James Steinberg and the US Army Corps of Engineers were named in the lawsuit, claiming the permit was unconstitutional and seeking a block on environmental and Native rights grounds.

“This project will lock our nation into a dirty energy infrastructure for decades to come,” Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope said.  Sierra Club is a plaintiff in the lawsuit.  “Instead of increasing our reliance on oil and piping in pollution, the State Department should support clean, American energy and the jobs that come with it.”

The pipeline would enter the US at Neche, North Dakota, running 384 miles through the Chippewa National Forest and Minnesota’s Leech Lake tribal lands before arriving in Superior.  Plaintiffs argue over 200 water bodies will be impacted by construction, and over 1,200 acres of upland forest, 650 acres of open lands and 1,300 acres of wetlands would be destroyed as well.

Nonprofit law firm Earthjustice filed suit on behalf of The Indigenous Environmental Network, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, National Wildlife Federation and Sierra Club in the US District Court for Northern California.  A Network spokesman said the Leech Lake band of Chippewa had not given its approval in a tribal referendum.  “The voices and rights of the Leech Lake Band members are not being listened to by the Obama Administration,” the spokesman said.

Environmental groups argue there are serious environmental, climate and health impacts associated with tar sands oil.  “The Alberta Clipper will mean more air, water and global warming pollution, particularly in communities near refineries that process tar sands oil,” an Earthjustice attorney said.  She argues “The state department fails to show how building a pipeline to import the dirtiest oil on Earth is in our national interest.”

“Global warming pollution from tar sands production is three times that of conventional crude oil and tar sands oil contains 11 times more sulfur and nickel, six times more nitrogen and five times more lead than conventional oil, environmental groups say.  “Tar sands development in Alberta is creating an environmental catastrophe, with toxic tailings ponds so large they can be seen from space, and plans to strip away forests and peat lands the size of Florida,” complainants add.

Enbridge plans 678 miles of pipeline from Manhattan, Illinois to Clearbrook, Minnesota for carrying diluent, a blending agent that will help make heavy tar sands transportable in the pipeline.  An additional 313 miles of new pipeline would replace existing pipelines that would be diverted.  In all, 1,375 miles of new pipeline would have to be built for the tar sands project.

A spokesman for the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy asked, “What happens when this dirty oil leaks and spills from the pipeline?  How much more global warming pollution will be emitted?  How much more water will be polluted?  How many more birds will die?  No one knows, because neither the state nor federal agencies responsible for protecting us have done their jobs.”

The groups argue that a single Environmental Impact Statement should address the entire pipeline network.  A fallback strategy for the groups, should the courts find the State Department did not err, is to challenge the adequacy of the environmental review for the rest of the project.  The review did not assess impacts for the diluent pipeline at all.  Preliminary and permanent injunctions against the diluent pipeline have been requested until a sufficient environmental review has been undertaken as required under the National Environmental Policy Act.

The State Department’s authority in issuing the Presidential permit for the project also has been challenged, arguing the act was unconstitutional since Congress has not delegated that authority to the Executive Branch.  “This pollution pipeline will increase our dependency on foreign fuels and accelerate the development of one of the dirtiest, most destructive fuels on the planet,” a National Wildlife Federation director said.  “We should be investing in clean energy technologies that will help solve the climate crisis.”


12.  Dyer:  Population, famine and fate in Ethiopia—Gwynne Dyer, SLT 9/3/09

13.  Tea party in Aisle 5 at Whole Foods—Meghan Daum, The Los Angeles Times, SLT 9/5/09

Keep in Mind

14. Swine flu on the automated pig farm—Andrew Leonard, 9/4/09

15.  Idaho’s wolf hunt on for now—AP, SLT 9/4/09

16.  Montana hunters buy nearly 2,600 wolf hunting licenses—AP, SLT 9/4/09

17.  Saving ‘trash fish’ key for lake—Tom Wharton, SLT 9/4/09

18.  EnergySolutions:  We’re in talks with state on nuke issue—Brock Vergakis, AP, SLT 9/4/09

19.  Time for a nuke deal?—Robert Gehrke, Judy Fahys, SLT 9/4/09

20.  2 citizens hearings set on water deal—Patty Henetz, SLT 9/4/09

21.  Patent lawsuits could lead to ban on Prius imports—Bloomberg News, SLT 9/3/09

22.  Idaho hunter bad-mouthed after wolf kill—AP, SLT 9/3/09

23.  Herbert-Hatch report hammers climate bill—Judy Fahys, SLT 9/3/09

24.  Can dirt really save us from global warming?—Christopher Joyce, NPR 9/3/09

25.  In Britain, a census goes deep into the woods—Vicki Barker, NPR 9/3/09

26.  Lead-tainted toys linger on shelves despite law—Oanh Ha, NPR 9/5/09