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Environment: Ongoing cleanup tackles toxic Peru Creek

July 30 site visit gives public a chance to see progress in $3 million remediation project at abandoned mine in Summit County

November snow and ice along the Snake River, in Summit County, Colorado.

Heavy metal pollution from upstream sources has killed most aquatic life in the Snake River, near Keystone, Colorado. bberwyn photo.

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Staff Report

FRISCO — With recent increases in levels of toxic metals in Peru Creek, the ongoing remediation work at the abandoned Pennsylvania Mine, near Keystone, Colo., takes on an even greater importance in the context of water quality in the Blue River Basin and the Upper Colorado.

The mine, which produced huge amounts of silver 100 years ago, has been pinpointed as one of the main sources of acid mine drainage. Water seeping through the rocky ground trickles into the old mine workings, picks up contaminants along the way, then percolates back into Peru Creek near the head of the beautiful alpine valley.

During the last couple of summers, scientists and engineers have been working to reduce the pollution, and this coming week (July 30) there will be a public field trip to the site, led by Jeff Graves of the Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety, as well as other members of the Snake River Task Force. Continue reading

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Environment: EPA to take hard look at impacts of proposed open pit mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay

Agency likely to restrict mining activities based on concerns about impacts to salmon fishery, other resources

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Proposed Alaska mine gets careful EPA scrutiny.

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Staff Report

FRISCO — A proposed mine in coastal Alaskan waters would spread across an area larger than Manhattan and jeopardize the health and sustainability of one of the world’s great salmon fisheries, the EPA said this week, releasing a draft version of its plan for protecting aquatic resources in Bristol Bay from a vast open pit mine.

According to the EPA, the proposed mine in its present form would have unacceptable impacts on Bristol Bay natural resources. As a result, the agency’s draft lays out common sense rules and guidelines that would ensure the integrity of those resources by prohibiting the discharge of any mining materials into critically important waters of the U.S. Continue reading

Colorado: Not much love for proposed new water diversions

EPA raises questions about compliance with Clean Water Act

Denver Water plans to increase transmountain diversions through the Moffat collection system will be up for comment at a pair of upcoming meetings.

Denver Water plans to increase transmountain diversions through the Moffat collection system is not drawing rave reviews, as numerous entities have expressed significant concerns about impacts to water quality. bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — For all the detailed information in the 16,000-page study for Denver Water’s proposed new water diversions from the Western Slope, there are still more questions than answers, according to formal comment letters filed in the past few weeks.

As currently configured, the proposal to shunt more water from Colorado River headwaters streams to the Front Range could worsen water water quality in many streams that are already feeling the pain of low flows, EPA water experts wrote in a June 9 letter. Continue reading

Energy: Anadarko to pay $5.15 billion fine for fraud

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Trail of toxic waste catches up with corporate polluters.

Largest ever toxic waste settlement will help communities around the country

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A trail of toxic waste sites around the country finally caught up with Kerr-McGee and various subsidiaries of Anadarko Petroleum Corporation last week.

Under a settlement agreement with the EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice,  Anadarko will pay $5.15 billion to a litigation trust. According to the EPA, the settlement is the largest recovery for the cleanup of environmental contamination in history.

The award came after a bankruptcy court in New York found that Kerr-McGee and the Anadarko subsidiaries played a shell game, selling off assets to try and evade their liabilities for cleanups at toxic sites around the country. Continue reading

EPA says it will scrutinize proposed Pebble Mine impacts to protect water quality in Alaska’s Bristol Bay

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Federal experts will use Clean Water Act standards to assess the potential impacts of a proposed open-pit mine in the Bristol Bay watershed.

Mining would threaten cherished and culturally critical natural resources

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The environmental impacts of a proposed mine along the Alaska coast will be scrutinized through the lens of the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency announced last week.

The proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay could become one of the world’s largest open pit mines if it’s approved, but conservation advocates have launched a fierce campaign to halt the mine. The EPA’s announcement to apply Clean Water Act standards came as welcome news to environmentalists. Continue reading

Beekeepers challenge EPA pesticide approval

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Can a lawsuit save the bees? bberwyn photo.

Lawsuit targets use of systemic pesticides

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Conservation advocates say the EPA put honeybees at risk by approving a bee-killing pesticide without adequately considering the potential impacts of the toxic chemical.

Sulfoxaflor is the first of a newly assigned sub-class of pesticides in the neonicotinoid class of pesticides and is considered by the EPA to be “highly toxic.” Many scientists across the globe have linked this class of pesticides as a potential factor to widespread and massive bee colony losses.

Represented by Earthjustice, the struggling beekeeping industry is challenging the EPA in court, claiming that the EPA violated federal laws by  dismissing the input from their risk assessors that the field tests supplied by the manufacturer Dow Chemical were insufficient to adequately determine pollinator safety. Continue reading

Feds say Oregon must improve coastal pollution controls

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Runoff from agriculture and logging threaten marine ecosystems along the Oregon coast. Photo courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

State could lose funding for key water programs

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Oregon is at risk of losing federal funding for coastal and Clean Water Act funding if it doesn’t beef up its coastal nonpoint pollution control program, federal agencies said this week.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the EPA say the state plan doesn’t adequately address nonpoint source impacts from agricultural activities. Specifically,

Oregon needs to show how it will control impacts from logging, including measures for protecting small and medium sized streams; measures to protect landslide prone areas; and measures to address runoff from forest roads built prior to modern construction and drainage requirements. Continue reading

Rocky Mountains facing serious global warming impacts

Agency releases draft versions of climate adaptation implementation plans for review and public comment

Looking for unusual tones in that first gleam of morning sunlight along Peru Creek.

The EPA says the Rocky Mountain region is particularly vulnerable to water supply issues as a result of global warming.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The climate in the Rocky Mountains is changing rapidly, outside  the   range  to  which  society  has  adapted  in  the  past, according to the EPA’s draft climate adaptation implementation plan for the agency’s Southwest Region, which covers western Colorado.

Most of the “cascading effects” of global climate change will be felt in the region, including increased air temperature, decreased precipitation in some areas, and more severe storms. Along the West Coast, oceans will become more acidic and warm and sea level will rise. Continue reading

Environment: EPA to tackle ocean plastic pollution

Guidance to create framework for local regulations

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A seal trapped in plastic debris. Photo courtesy EwanEdwards/TheClippertonProject.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — After decades of neglect, the issue of plastic debris polluting the oceans is finally showing up on the EPA radar screen. Even though the agency recently declined to address plastic pollution under the Clean Water Act, it will step up efforts to monitor and assess health and environmental impacts, and to develop national data on the economic costs of ocean litter to local, state and national governments.

“We’re happy to see the EPA taking plastics pollution seriously,” said Center for Biological Diversity attorney Emily Jeffers. The environmental group last year petitioned the EPA to develop water-quality standards for plastic pollution and publish information to guide states in monitoring and preventing harm to waters from plastic pollution.

“Every year bits of discarded plastic kill thousands of seabirds, sea turtles, seals and other marine mammals. Some choke on plastic, and others are poisoned by it. Still more find themselves swimming through vast patches of toxic litter. It’s an international tragedy that needs to be addressed,” Jeffers said.” Continue reading

EPA releases draft climate change adaptation plans

Agency cites increases of extreme weather, drought and flooding in call for public comment

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A NASA map shows global temperature anomalies for Aug. 2013.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — At this point, most people know that global warming is already having tangible impacts on their day-to-day lives, from more intense heatwaves to destructive coastal flooding and longer wildfire seasons.

But it’s not always easy to figure what, if anything, can be done. To help communities in different parts of the country, the EPA is developing climate change adaptation implementation plans, with detailed information about the actions EPA plans to take across the country to help communities adapt to a changing climate. Continue reading

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