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Judge blocks coal leases in Colorado after finding feds failed to tally cost of carbon pollution

The U.S. is the second-largest producer of coal in the world, thanks in part to massive surface mines like this one in Wyoming. Photo courtesy BLM.

The U.S. is the second-largest producer of coal in the world. Photo courtesy BLM.

Federal court order also voids part of Colorado roadless rule for National Forest lands

Staff Report

FRISCO — Arch Coal and the U.S. Forest Service will have to start from scratch before they plan any new mining activities in a roadless area near Paonia.

A federal judge this week vacated existing federal approvals for an exploration plan, for lease modifications and a site-specific exemption to the Colorado Roadless Rule, seen by conservation groups as a blatant give-away to the fossil fuel industry.

This week’s order follows up on a June ruling, when U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson said the U.S. Forest Service failed to account for the costs of carbon pollution associated with any new mining activities. Continue reading

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Climate: Summer temps average across U.S.

Northern Rockies see near record August rains

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Montana was all-time record wet in August.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Cooler than average temperatures across central and eastern states balanced the blistering drought raging across parts of the West, leading to a summer that was remarkably near average in terms of temperature.

According to the National Climatic Data Center’s monthly update, the average June-August temperature across the lower 48 states was 71.7 degrees, just 0.3 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average.

Similar conditions prevailed in August, which ended near average across the U.S., with near-record readings along the West Coast, and warmer than average conditions in Florida and parts of New England. A persistent monsoon kept temperatures below average in the Southwest. Cooler than average readings were also reported from the Mid-Atlantic to the Northeast. Continue reading

Climate: Too hot for Florida’s coral reefs?

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Observations around the Florida Keys show a big jump in the average late-summer water temperature, leading to increased coral reef die-offs.

New USGS study documents dramatic increase in ocean temperatures around the Florida Keys

Staff Report

FRISCO — Even without a big ocean-warming El Niño event, coral reefs around the Florida Keys are being stressed by warmer water. Scientists say the number of bleaching events is going up as average sea surface temperatures in the region increase.

Just in the past few decades, average late-summer water temperatures near the Florida Keys were warmer by nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit compared to a century earlier, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey. Continue reading

Climate: Longer droughts, warmer temps to fuel massive increase in European forest fires

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Smoke from forest fires in Greece streams out across the Mediterranean Sea. GIF composite image via NASA and Wikipedia.

Study projects 200 percent increase in burned areas by 2090 without mitigation and adaptation

Bob Berwyn

FRISCO —The American West isn’t alone in facing an increased wildfire threat. Global warming is expected to result in a sharp increase in European forest fires during the coming decades. By 2090, areas burned by fires could increase by as much as 200 percent, according to a new study published in the journal Regional Environmental Change.

Warmer temperatures and longer droughts will combine to fuel forest fire conditions in areas that are already susceptible, particularly the Mediterranean region, the researchers said, suggesting that better forest management, including preventive fires, could keep the increase to less than 50 percent. Continue reading

Just a few tickets left for the Sunshine Cafe Climate Ranger fundraising dinner!

ss2b&wflowers3Dear Summit Voice Readers,

We’re so grateful to the Sunshine Cafe for offering to host what is going to be a fun and unique chance to enjoy a good meal and learn about global warming in the Rocky Mountains this week.

For one night only Sept. 12), the Sunshine Cafe (once again crowned as Summit County’s favorite breakfast spot, will open at 6 p.m. for a fundraising dinner. Tickets are just $50 per person, and there will also be a silent auction with some Rocky Mountain photography and a few other quirky items.

Proceeds from the dinner will benefit local environmental journalism by Summit Voice, and we’ll take input on story ideas at the dinner. We’ll also give a short presentation from our Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger Project, a series of road trips aimed at learning how climate change is affecting our beloved mountains.

If you are a Summit County or Colorado reader, please consider attending the dinner to show your support for Summit County environmental journalism. You can buy tickets at the PayPal link below, or contact Bob Berwyn via email or at 970-331-5996.

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Support independent journalism.

Climate: EPA eyes limits on airline carbon pollution

U.S. airlines have long lobbied against any measures aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft, but they probably won't be able to dodge new EPA pollution regulations developed under the authority of the Clean Air Act.

U.S. airlines have long lobbied against any measures aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft, but they won’t be able to dodge new EPA pollution regulations developed under the authority of the Clean Air Act.

Agency targets spring 2016 to make initial findings

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — U.S. airlines may soon be required to at least start thinking about cutting their carbon footprint.

Aviation accounts for about 11 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from the U.S. transportation sector and is one of the fastest-growing sources of carbon pollution, rising between 3 percent to 5 percent a year. Carbon emissions from global aviation will quadruple by mid-century without action. Continue reading

Climate: Pacific Northwest warming fast

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It’s hard to see what (some_ people don’t understand about this global warming graph.

‘At the rate the temperature is increasing, the next 1.3-degree bump will happen much more quickly’

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Climate scientists say they’ve been able to tease out the anthropogenic part of a long-term warming trend in the Pacific Northwest, where the annual mean temperature has warmed by about 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit in the past 100 years.

That has lengthened the freeze-free season by two to three weeks and is the equivalent of the snow line moving up 600 feet, said Philip Mote, director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute at Oregon State University and a co-author on the study, published in the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate. Continue reading

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