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Report: No gains in U.S. airline fuel efficiency

Industry foot-dragging continues,; lawsuits pending

An Iceland Air jet flies over Greenland en route from Reykjavik to Denver. bberwyn photo.

An Iceland Air jet flies over Greenland en route from Reykjavik to Denver. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — U.S. airlines aren’t making much progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report from the International Council on Clean Transportation. Despite some improvement by individual airlines, the analysis showed there was  no net improvement in the fuel efficiency of U.S. domestic operations from 2012 to 2013.

The nonprofit organization also calculated that two of the most fuel efficient carriers  — Alaska and Spirit — had the highest operating profit margins in 2013. Meanwhile less-efficient carriers like Allegiant made profits while using old, polluting and less efficient aircraft. The study findings contradict airline industry arguments that fuel costs automatically push airlines to maximize efficiency. Continue reading

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Report outlines simple steps to reduce methane emissions

A natural gas drilling rig in Texas. IMAGE COURTESY THE CREATIVE COMMONS.

A natural gas drilling rig in Texas. IMAGE COURTESY THE CREATIVE COMMONS.

Climate activists pushing EPA to adopt strict methane standards

Staff Report

FRISCO — Existing, low-cost technology, along with better maintenance and best management practices could easily cut U.S. methane emissions from fossil fuel operations in half, climate activists said this week, advocating for the adoption of methane standards.

The path toward those reductions is outlined by climate advocates in a new report that also shows that such standards would help improve air quality in other ways. Continue reading

Environment: Cold weather road ecology institute seeks alternatives to chemical road de-icers

This is what we like to see!

Clearing the roads in Frisco, Colorado.

A little bit of salt on your french fries is fine; a lot of salt on the road kills trees and fish

Staff Report

FRISCO — Highway engineers and scientists know that that massive use of chemical road de-icers has significant environmental impacts. Salt and the various derivatives used to keep roadways open kills trees and degrades water quality.

Just last year, the EPA found salt building up in groundwater near highways in the eastern U.S. Across the country, the U.S. spends $2.3 billion each year on the removal of highway snow and ice plus another $5 billion to mitigate the hidden costs associated with the process.

The hidden costs include long-term impacts of salt, sand and chemical deicers on the natural environment and road infrastructure as well as short-term impacts on semi-trailer trucks and other vehicles from rust and corrosion. Continue reading

Will federal agencies start taking climate seriously in analyzing proposals for public lands?

Coal, in this day and age? Really?

Coal, in this day and age? Really?

Lack of appeal in Colorado coal mining case may signal change of direction

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Federal resource managers may be inclined to take a closer look at the climate impacts of projects on national forests and BLM lands, after the Obama administration decided not to challenge a recent federal district court ruling on Colorado coal mining leases. Continue reading

Climate: Rising greenhouse gases will drive surge of pollen production, allergen exposure

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A new study projects a big spike in pollen production as atmospheric CO2 concentrations increase.

‘The implications of increasing CO2 for human health are clear’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Those sniffly, sneezy summer days are about to get a lot worse for allergy sufferers. Some types of grass pollen and exposure to allergens could increase by more than 200 percent in the next 100 years, due to predicted rises in carbon dioxide and ozone, according to University of Massachusetts Amherst scientists, who project a significant, worldwide impact on human health.

In their study of Timothy grass, environmental health researchers tried to determinedthe interactive effects of CO2 and ozone at projected higher levels on pollen production and concentrations of a Timothy grass pollen protein that is a major human allergen. The findings are reported in the current issue of PLOS ONE. Continue reading

Climate: Ozone problems ahead?

Ozone damage on the leaf of a cutleaf coneflower manifests in the form of black stipules. Photo courtesy RMNP.

Ozone damage on the leaf of a cutleaf coneflower manifests in the form of black stipules. Photo courtesy RMNP.

New study projects mid-century air quality under various global warming scenarios

Staff Report

FRISCO — Even with ongoing efforts to improve air quality, global warming could drive ozone levels high enough to cause widespread damage to plants by mid-century, according to a new study that focused on the U.S. but also considered global air quality.

“Modelling future air quality is very complex, because so many factors need to be taken into account at both a global and local scale,” said Dr. Val Martin, of the University of Sheffield’s Faculty of Engineering. Continue reading

Environment: Federal appeals court focusing on toxic ozone smog in Utah’s Uinta Basin

EPA challenged on decision to designate polluted region as unclassifiable

Western U.S. Counties Violating Current and Proposed Ozone Air Quality Standards.

Western U.S. Counties Violating Current and Proposed Ozone Air Quality Standards. Map courtesy Jeremy Nichols/ClimateWest blog.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Environmental advocates and the EPA are facing off in a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. today over air quality in Utah’s remote Uinta Basin, where ozone levels often exceed standards set to protect human health.

In a weird twist to the case, the fossil fuel industry is claiming that its own air pollution data is of poor quality and unreliable, and shouldn’t be used by the EPA to designate the Uinta Basin as a nonattainment area, despite the fact that the area regularly sees some of the highest ozone pollution levels in the country.

At issue in the oral arguments is the EPA’s refusal to designate the Uinta Basin as a nonattainment area despite monitoring showing serious air quality degradation in northeastern Utah. The EPA’s decision to designate the area as unclassifiable is a clear violation of the Clean Air Act, according to WildEarth Guardians, one of the groups involved in the case. Continue reading

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