Study details health benefits of EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Atmospheric CO2 levels measured at Mauna Loa.

Atmospheric CO2 levels measured at Mauna Loa.

Big coal-burning states stand to gain the most

Staff Report

FRISCO — Obama administration officials have said all along that, with cutting heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions, the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan will lead to huge health benefits for states, potentially saving thousands of lives and millions of dollars in health care costs.

A new Harvard-led study confirms those claims after comparing three different scenarios for power plant carbon standards. Under the biggest cuts, the study projected the regs could prevent 3,500 premature deaths in the US every year, with a range of 780 to up to 6100. Continue reading

Climate: Study says fjords are key carbon sinks

Fjords like this one in Iceland may play an important role in regulating atmospheric carbon dioxide. @bberwyn photo.

Fjords like this one in Iceland may play an important role in regulating atmospheric carbon dioxide. @bberwyn photo.

Deep, cold and oxygen-starved, fjords may keep organic carbon from entering the atmosphere for many centuries

Staff Report

FRISCO — The majestic fjords of the far north may have played a key role in buffering the atmosphere against variations in carbon dioxide levels associated with rapid climate change at the beginning and end of past ice ages.

A study by New Zealand scientists estimates that fjords capture and store about 18 million tons of organic carbon each year. That’s equal to about 11 percent of annual marine carbon capture globally, said Dr. Candida Savage of New Zealand’s University of Otago, after publishing her findings in the  journal Nature Geoscience. Continue reading

Environment: New analysis helps pinpoint fracking pollution in Pennsylvania drinking water

Fracked nation.

Fracked nation.

Fracking substances found almost two miles away from faulty drilling operation

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists in Pennsylvania said they’ve been able to track pollution from fracking as the source of contamination in drinking water wells more than 1 mile from the fracked shale gas wells.

The stray natural gas and wastewater moved laterally along shallow to intermediate depth fractures to the source of the homes’ well water. The chemicals foamed from water faucets in three homes near a reported well-pad leak. The homes were sold to the gas company as part of a legal settlement in 2012, but scientists received samples before the transfer.

Previous studies had not been able to identify the cause of the foaming, but the new analysis found a chemical compound, 2-BE, and an unidentified complex mixture of organic contaminants, both commonly seen in flowback water from Marcellus shale activity.  Continue reading

More legal wrangling over uranium mine near Grand Canyon

The confluence of Havasu Creek with the Colorado River (river mile 157) is a popular place for boaters to stop and admire the striking blue-green water of Havasu Creek. The turquoise color is caused by water with a high mineral content. At the point where the blue creek meets the turbid colorado river there often appears a definite break. NPS photo by Erin Whittaker.

The confluence of Havasu Creek with the Colorado River (river mile 157) is a popular place for boaters to stop and admire the striking blue-green water of Havasu Creek. The turquoise color is caused by water with a high mineral content. At the point where the blue creek meets the turbid colorado river there often appears a definite break. NPS photo by Erin Whittaker.

Impacts to water quality, cultural resources at stake, as conservation groups seek new environmental study

Staff Report

FRISCO — A U.S. Forest Service decision to allow uranium mining near the Grand Canyon will be tested in court once again.

Conservation groups last week said they’ll appeal a lower court ruling that affirmed the agency’s decision on the mine, located about six miles from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell last month said conservation groups and the Havasupai Tribe failed to show that the U.S. Forest Service violated environmental laws, but that decision will now be tested in a federal appeals court. Continue reading

Colorado: Annual State of the River sessions include vital information on snowpack, stream flows and reservoirs

Colorado River Basin snowpack and streamflow forecasts now similar to 1977, 2002 and 2012 drought years

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Statewide snowpack is just half of average going into the crucial phase of runoff season.

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Don’t miss this year’s State of the River.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Continued drought in the Far West, along with Colorado’s push to develop a first-ever statewide water plan, should be reason enough for Coloradans to take an interest in the state of the Colorado River.

One of the best chances to get a user-friendly update is at the annual State of River meeting, sponsored by the Blue River Watershed Group.

Hands-on water experts will explain how this year’s snowmelt will play out and how that affects operations of Dillon Reservoir and Green Mountain Reservoir — both for water deliveries downstream and for onsite recreational use.

To accommodate a bigger turnout, the State of the River presentation has been moved to the Silverthorne Pavilion (Tuesday, May 5, 6-8 p.m.) Continue reading

Can organic farming save the world from global warming?

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Feed the world, and cut greenhouse gases? It can be done, scientists say. Photo courtesy USDA.

China study shows benefits of switching to sustainable, organic agriculture

Staff Report

FRISCO — A large-scale shift to sustainable organic farming could dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions — and improve soil quality and crop resistance to pests at the same time, according to a new study from China.

Since about a third of all global greenhouse gas emissions are produced by agriculture, scientists have been taking a close look at how to manage the production of food in a way that reduces the global warming footprint. With best practices in place, agriculture could become a net carbon sink instead of a source of heat-trapping pollution, some scientists assert. Continue reading

Environment: Neonicotinoids kill bees’ brain cells

‘Neonicotinoid pesticides are a risk to our bees and we should stop using them on plants that bees visit’

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A bumblebee visits wild fireweed to gather nectar and pollen. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists say that neonicotinoid pesticides prevent bees from learning, feeding and reproducing by killing their brain cells.

“It is ironic that neonicotinoids, pesticides developed to preserve the health of plants, ultimately inflict tremendous damage on plant life,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D. “These chemicals destroy the insect communities required by plants for their own reproduction.” Continue reading

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