Environmental groups slam McConnell-led Senate

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U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

100 days of pain …

Staff Report

FRISCO — A furious assault on the environment during the first 100 days of a GOP-controlled Senate has environmental advocates on the defensive.

Instead of making progress on climate change and other key conservation issues, progressives are in the position of trying to hold the line on gains they made during the first six years of the Obama administration.

According to a coalition of advocacy groups, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear that his top priority is protecting polluters and dismantling clean air and public health protections. Continue reading

Environment: Nitrogen pollution reduces plant diversity

Swiss study shows widespread effect of air pollution

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Alpine wildflowers in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. @bobberwyn photo.

Staff Report

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FRISCO — Scientists in Switzerland say they’ve measured a startling decline in plant diversity linked with high human atmospheric nitrogen emissions. Their study, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, shows the loss in traditionally measured plant species richness at 5 percent, while the loss in phylogenetic plant diversity due to human-induced nitrogen deposition is 19 percent. Continue reading

Got methane? Four Corners air quality forum set to update public on latest research on fracking emissions

‘State-of-the-art research focused on the Four Corners area is vital to the understanding of greenhouse gas emissions and potential mitigation options’

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A satellite view of the Four Corners region, courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

Staff Report

FRISCO — When orbiting satellites identified a methane hotspot over the Four Corners region, it made headlines all over the world — a sure sign, it seems, that our insatiable quest for fossil fuels has a global footprint.

Next week, residents of the region will have a chance to learn more about how various agencies are looking at methane and other pollution issues associated with fracking during a forum hosted by the Four Corners Air Quality Group. Continue reading

Colorado GOP launches preemptive strike on EPA’s Clean Power Plan

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Clean Power Plan under attack in Colorado.

Proposed bill up for a committee hearing today

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Backed by the fossil fuel industry, Republican Colorado lawmakers are launching a preemptive effort to block or delay the state from implementing the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, aimed at reducing emissions from power plants. The plan has not been finalized yet, but that apparently won’t stop the misguided effort in the Colorado Senate.

Senate Bill 15-258, misnamed as the “Colorado Electric Consumer’s Protection Act.” would require the state to undertake burdensome and costly reviews of any Clean Power Plan rules adopted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Air Quality Control Division — including a full evidentiary hearing before the Public Utilities Commission to evaluate impacts to electricity rates. Continue reading

Judge bars coal mine expansion, citing mercury threat

The Four Corners Power Plant in a 1972 photo via Wikipedia.

The Four Corners Power Plant in a 1972 photo via Wikipedia.

Federal agencies must redo their environmental studies

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Citing the threat of more mercury pollution and its   impacts on threatened and endangered species in the Four Corners area, a federal judge this week halted the expansion of a coal mine in northern New Mexico.

The Navajo Mine expansion would produce an additional 12.7 million tons of coal, and federal agencies can’t permit the expansion until they complete a thorough environmental study, U.S. District Court Judge John L Kane determined in his April 6 order. Continue reading

Coal mining in a roadless area? Forest Service says, ‘Why not?’

Wetlands in the Sunset Roadless area. Photo courtesy Earthjustice.

Wetlands in the Sunset Roadless area. Photo courtesy Earthjustice.

State, feds to spend a ton of money for a new study and to fight subsequent lawsuits just to pump more Co2 and methane into the air

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — State and federal officials appear determined to let bulldozers punch into the rolling aspen forests of the Sunset Roadless Area southeast of Paonia.

The Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service this week announced they’ll try to reinstate a contested Colorado exemption to a 2001 national roadless rule that virtually ended all logging, roadbuilding, and coal, gas, oil, and other mineral leasing about 50 million acres across the country, including 4 million acres in Colorado.

Under unique Colorado provisions in a state version of the rule, a patch of the Sunset Roadless area was designated as a mining zone, authorizing temporary construction of roads to support future coal mining in the area, mainly by enabling construction of methane vents. Conservation advocates have been challenging those exemptions ever since. Continue reading

Study shows links between prenatal exposure to air pollution and behavioral disorders

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More proof that air pollution is bad for children (and other living things). Photo via the Creative Commons.

Long-term research tracks structural brain changes in young children exposed to PAHs

Staff Report

FRISCO — Prenatal exposure to common pollutants from auto emissions, power plants and other sources may be a big factor in the rising tide of behavioral disorders in children, researchers say.

After tracking 40 children from before birth until 7 to 9 years of age, the researchers say they found a powerful link between exposure to PAHs and disturbances in parts of the brain that support information processing and behavioral control.  Continue reading

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