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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

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Study warns of widespread fracking ecosystem impacts

Holistic evaluation of impacts needed

Caption: In areas where shale-drilling/hydraulic fracturing is heavy, a dense web of roads, pipelines and well pads turn continuous forests and grasslands into fragmented islands. Credit: Simon Fraser University PAMR

In areas where shale-drilling/hydraulic fracturing is heavy, a dense web of roads, pipelines and well pads turn continuous forests and grasslands into fragmented islands. Photo courtesy Simon Fraser University PAMR.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO —Fracking battles often develop over neighborhood concerns about pollution, but that local focus may mean that we’re losing sight of the bigger picture. On a landscape level, the current and projected scale of shale gas exploitation poses a huge threat to ecosystems, as each individual well contributes to air, water, noise and light pollution.

Those impacts need to be examined on a cumulative level, scientists said in a new study that calls for scientists, industry representatives and policymakers to collaborate closely on minimizing damage to the natural world from shale gas development. Continue reading

Climate: Tracking the urban heat island effect

city heat

Global warming impacts are magnified in cities.

‘Convective efficiency’ the key factor in city temperatures

Staff Report

FRISCO — Many cities, including Denver, have identified extreme heat as one of the most immediate challenges of global warming, primarily because the urban heat island effect will cause temperatures in urban areas to spike well above readings in the surrounding countryside.

Now, a Yale-led study pinpoints the primary causes of the heat island effect, showing that cities in humid climates face the biggest problems. Along with direct risks like heat stroke, increasing temperatures in cities will also worsen air pollution problems. Continue reading

Morning photo: desert dreams

Four Corners sojourn

You don't see this every day!

You don’t see this every day!

FRISCO — In today’s first post I reported on the ongoing environmental studies for operation of the Four Corners power plant, a giant coal-burning facility that has been spewing air pollution into the atmosphere for decades. Federal officials now propose re-authorizing the plant’s permits for another 25 years without accounting for the environmental toll of greenhouse gases and other pollutants that are directly toxic to people and animals. Obviously, we can’t simply shut down all our coal-burning activities immediately. But at some point, the federal government has to start taking significant steps toward reducing emissions of heat-trapping gases. The permitting process for the Four Corners plant offers a great opportunity to at least start down that path. Meanwhile, enjoy this set of Four Corners images from the Summit Voice archives, and check out our online gallery at Fine Art America for a great selection of Rocky Mountain nature and landscape images. Buying prints or greeting cards from the gallery is one of the best ways to support independent environmental journalism! Continue reading

Environmental groups challenge continued operation of giant Four Corners coal-burning power plant

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

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

Global warming impacts, health of Native American communities at issue in new federal study

Staff Report

FRISCO — President Obama may be all about tackling global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions these days, but that message hasn’t trickled to to various government agencies, including the Interior Department’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, which last week released a draft environmental study on continued operation of the Four Corners Power Plant and Navajo Mine Energy Project.

The giant coal-burning facility is one of the biggest sources of heat-trapping greenhouse gases and other toxic air pollutants in the country, yet the draft study, which would permit continued operation for another 25 years, appears to ignore any option besides business-as-usual, according to environmental groups, who say they will challenge the federal government because it failed to look at impacts on climate and to wildlife and people. Continue reading

Roundup: No fish-eating spiders, this week

Independent journalism: Climate, penguins and uranium mining

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Staff Report

FRISCO — I didn’t quite get around to reporting on the discovery of new fish-eating spider species last week, but I did cover a lot of environmental territory.

Along with climate stories in Summit Voice I wrote about the emerald ash borer invasion and hydropower for Boulderganic, and even penned a food- and environmental themed Colorado roadtrip story for the Boulder Weekly.

On a more serious note, I was the first journalist to take a close look at the City of Denver’s as-yet unpublished climate change adaptation plan, showing that life in the Mile High City could be nearly unbearable by 2050 — but also showing that making adjustments for global warming could have huge benefits for Denver by expanding green infrastructure. Read the Colorado Independent story here: The Big Schvitz. Continue reading

Environment: Northeast lakes rebound from acid rain

Air quality regs pay off, as New England lakes and streams bounce back from acid rain.

Air quality regs pay off, as New England lakes and streams bounce back from acid rain.

It’s simple: Cleaning the air improves water quality

Staff Report

FRISCO — Acid rain, once the scourge of freshwater ecosystems in the eastern U.S., is waning, and the health of New England lakes and streams is improving, scientists said this week after documenting declines in sulfate concentrations in snow and rain.

The data gathered by scientists working under the auspices of the NH Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of New Hampshire College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, show that sulfate concentration in rain and snow declined by more than 40 percent in the 2000s. Sulfate concentration in lakes declined at a greater rate from 2002 to 2010 than during the 1980s or 1990s. During the 2000s, nitrate concentration in rain and snow declined by more than 50 percent and nitrate concentration declined in lakes. Continue reading

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