Public lands: Grant helps Rocky Mountain National Park boost green transit efforts

Every little bit helps!

A computer-generated split-screen image a split-image simulates the average 20 percent best (left) and 20 percent worst 20 percent (right) visibility at the Long’s Peak vista based on an average of monitored data for years 2000-2004.

A computer-generated split-screen image a split-image simulates the average 20 percent best (left) and 20 percent worst 20 percent (right) visibility at the Long’s Peak vista based on an average of monitored data for years 2000-2004.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A $167,000 grant has helped Rocky Mountain National Park boost environmental efforts.

The 2013 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities National Parks Initiative supports alternative transportation projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and educating park visitors about the environmental benefits of reducing our dependence on petroleum.

Through the partnership, the park purchased two electric sedans and one hybrid pickup truck, installed two electric charging stations, launched an idle reduction campaign and enhanced the parks education and outreach efforts toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing sustainable operations.

Climate: When good ozone goes bad

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.

La Niña weather pattern found to contribute to spikes in western ozone levels

Staff Report

FRISCO — Spring ozone formation in parts of the western U.S. appear to be linked with the hemispheric La Niña weather pattern, when the path of the jet stream forces high altitude ozone down to ground level.

After discovering the link, a team of researchers say their findings may help forecast harmful ozone episodes well in advance, which could have implications for attaining the national ozone standard. Continue reading

Dirty little secret: West’s ozone problem is growing

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.

Proposed EPA standards would help bring relief to residents of fossil fuel development zones

Staff Report

FRISCO — The mythology of the American West includes standard notions of pristine vistas and clean air, but the reality is far different. Some parts of the region have a dirty little secret — air quality that, at times, is worse than places like L.A.

And for now, the problem is getting worse. Expanded drilling on public lands is resulting in emissions of more volatile organic compounds that form the chemical basis for ozone. Global warming won’t help either. By mid-century, ozone pollution will become much more widespread as temperatures rise, potentially leading to widespread plant damage, according to one recent study.

Proposed new EPA ozone standards could help, but only if there’s an active year-round monitoring regime in the region, a coalition of environmental groups said in their formal public comments on the proposed new standards. Continue reading

Environment: Scientists try to assess global health, climate impacts of unregulated trash burning

Open burning of trash, as seen here in General Santos, Philippines, is a global phenomenon that has significant effects on air quality. (Photo courtesy Global Environment Facility.)

Open burning of trash, as seen here in General Santos, Philippines, is a global phenomenon that has significant effects on air quality. Photo courtesy Global Environment Facility.

‘Air pollution across much of the globe is significantly underestimated because no one is tracking open-fire burning of trash’

Staff Report

FRISCO — As much as 1 billion metric tons of waste, including discarded plastics and electronics, is burned each year in unregulated fires, according to atmospheric scientists who set out last year to assess the impacts of trash burning.

The real amount of garbage that’s simply burned in the open probably far exceeds any official government estimates, the researchers said, adding that the practice exposes people to toxic fumes and adds to air pollution woes, especially in developing countries.

The estimate tonnage is about 41 percent of the total annual global waste stream, the study found, providing estimates, on a country-by-country basis, of pollutants such as particulates, carbon monoxide, and mercury that are emitted by the fires. Continue reading

Environment: Hearings set for proposed EPA smog rules

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New York smog.

New standards eyed to protect public health

Staff Report

FRISCO — The public will have a chance to weigh in on a proposed EPA rule to cut smog at three public hearings set for late January and early February.

In November, the agency unveiled its proposal to lower the standard from 75 parts per billion to as low as 60 ppb.  The Clean Air Act requires EPA to review the standards every five years by following a set of open, transparent steps and considering the advice of a panel of independent experts. EPA last updated these standards in 2008, setting them at 75 ppb. Continue reading

Environment: EPA proposes new life-saving ozone standards

A NASA satellite image shows air pollution along the East Coast and over the Atlantic.

A NASA satellite image shows air pollution along the East Coast and over the Atlantic.

New rule would more than pay for itself in health care savings

Staff Report

FRISCO — As more and more studies show the harmful health effects of smog, or ground-level ozone, the EPA wants to set new standards to help clean up the air.

Last week the agency unveiled its proposal to lower the standard from 75 parts per billion to as low as 60 ppb, pending completion of a review and comment period, including public hearings.

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to review the standards every five years by following a set of open, transparent steps and considering the advice of a panel of independent experts. EPA last updated these standards in 2008, setting them at 75 ppb. 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

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