Environment: Feds eye new Arctic drilling rules

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Feds are seeking public comment on new rules for Arctic Sea drilling.

Major spill would devastate Arctic ecosystems

Staff Report

FRISCO — Proposed new Arctic drilling rules would require fossil fuel companies to have a spare drilling rig available in case they lose control of the primary well. The new rule is aimed at ensuring that companies operating in the Arctic are full prepared for the region’s extreme conditions.

As released in late February, the rules  focus solely on offshore exploration drilling operations within the Beaufort Sea and Chukchi Sea Planning Areas. The proposed rule is open for public comment through mid-April. Comment HERE. Continue reading

New map IDs pesticide pollution hot spots

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Pesticide pollution hotspots are identified in a new map.

Global warming could exacerbate pesticide woes

Staff Report

FRISCO — The world has a long way to go to come to grips with pesticide pollution say scientists who recently created a global map showing which areas are most susceptible.

Their modeling suggests that streams across about 40 percent of the planet’s surface are at risk from the application of insecticides, with the Mediterranean region, the USA, Central America and Southeast Asia among the hotspots.

On average, farmers apply about 4 million tons of agricultural pesticides  annually, equating to an average of 0.27 kilograms per hectare of the global land surface. Continue reading

Forest Service finalizes national snowmobile rules

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Snowmobiles at Vail Pass, Colorado.

New policy requires designation of motorized winter use

Staff Report

FRISCO — With the recent huge growth in motorized winter sports, the Forest Service has been behind the curve in managing public lands, but last month, the agency released its final policy for managing snowmobile and other “over-snow” vehicle use.

As directed by court order, the policy requires that roads, trails and areas where over-snow vehicle use can occur be specifically designated by local Forest Service mangers. Previously, managers had the discretion to decide whether to designate specific areas for over-snow vehicle use. Continue reading

More fracking woes in southwest Colorado

BLM rejects request for orderly master leasing plan

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The BLM’s new management plan for the Tres Rios area is spurring criticism.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Residents and elected officials in southwest Colorado say a new management plan for a vast swath of public lands in the region favors oil and gas companies over community interests.

According to critics, the BLM Tres Rios land resource management plan would allow drilling near the edge of Mesa Verde National Park, adding to near-critical air pollution woes and disturbing important wildlife areas.

Most importantly, the federal agency ignored requests by local governments to ensure the orderly and safe development of fossil fuels. Continue reading

UN says big investments needed to avert water wars

Will the world get it together on climate change?

Will the world get it together on water?

Upfront spending would avoid the huge costs of escalating conflicts

Staff Report

FRISCO — Big investments in water infrastructure are needed around the world to avert future conflicts over the world’s most essential resource. Looming shortages of water could trigger conflicts and mass migrations, contributing to social and political instability, the report warns.

“The consequence of unmet water goals will be widespread insecurity creating more international tension and conflict,” said lead author Bob Sandford. “The positive message is that if we can keep moving now on water-related sustainable development goals we can still have the future we want,” he said. Continue reading

Environment: Study shows that even ‘isolated’ wetlands are crucial to protecting water quality

Findings come as EPA edges toward final new clean water rule

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By Summit Voice

Geographically isolated wetlands like prairie potholes and desert playas in the Southwest are critical to water quality and also provide many other ecosystem services — even though they may lack the regulatory protections of other wetlands, according to Indiana University researchers.

Continued loss of such wetlands is likely “to cause serious harm to North American waters,” according to John M. Marton, a researcher with the IU Bloomington School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

“Geographically isolated wetlands provide important benefits such as sediment and carbon retention, nutrient transformation and water-quality improvement, all of which are critical for maintaining water quality,” Marton said, discussing the conclusions of a new article appearing in BioScience. Continue reading

Environment: Scientists document the rise of blue-green algae in lakes around the world

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Algae blooms spreading in high mountain lakes.

Even remote alpine lakes at risk from increased nutrient pollution

Staff Report

FRISCO — The immoderate use of fertilizers in the last half century is literally choking some lakes to death and raises the risk of human exposure to dangerous toxins, scientists said after studying the proliferation of blue-green algae.

Those organisms have spread much more rapidly than any other type of algae in North American and European lakes, according to McGill University scientists, who published their findings in the the journal Ecology Letters. In many cases, the rate of increase has sharply accelerated since the mid-20th century. Continue reading

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