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Colorado clean-air plan gets early OK from EPA

A new clean air plan could help reduce the brown cloud over Colorado's Front Range and in national parks and wilderness areas in the region. PHOTO VIA UCAR.

Collaborative effort to cut power plant emissions gets bipartisan thumbs up

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —A state clean-air plan has a preliminary thumbs-up from the EPA, pending another round of public comment. The agency aims to finalize its decision by September.

A key component of the overall plan is the 2010 Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act passed by the Colorado General Assembly that will reduce harmful pollution through emissions controls; retire old, inefficient coal-fired power plants; and convert certain electric generating units from coal to cleaner-burning natural gas.

By 2018, the plan will result in more than 70,000 tons of pollutant reductions annually, including 35,000 tons of nitrogen oxides, which leads to ground-level ozone formation. In total, the plan covers 30 units at 16 facilities throughout Colorado, including coal-fired power plants and cement kilns. Continue reading

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Environment: Fast-track Everglades restoration planned

Planning effort aims to restore critical flows and protect water quality

An egret roams a cypress grove in Everglades National Park. PHOTO COURTESY NATIONAL PARK SERVICE.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A new fast-track planning effort involving state and federal agencies could speed recovery of the Everglades ecoystem — if Congress authorizes the effort.

Specifically the Central Everglades planning process will evaluate opportunities to use publicly owned lands to store and treat water in the Everglades Agricultural Area and move the water south to the Water Conservation Areas and Everglades National Park. That could help restore a more natural hydrological regime to the greater ecoystem.

There is a need to move water south and allow more flow in the Central Everglades and Everglades National Park which is extremely critical to the health of the entire Everglades ecosystem. In addition to this major planning effort, state and federal agencies are working on measures to ensure that existing waters flowing into the Everglades meet water quality standards. Continue reading

Obama launches major outdoor, conservation push

A new presidential push could help boost grassroots conservation.

New initiative partly inspired by Great Outdoors Colorado and planned by Coloradans serving in key posts in the Obama administration

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — When Coloradans like Tom Strickland, Ken Salazar and Will Shafroth headed to Washington to serve in the Obama administration, hopes were high that some of the state’s outdoor values would resonate in the halls of the capital.

That vision started coming to fruition last week as the president issued a memorandum establishing the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to promote and support innovative community-level efforts to conserve outdoor spaces and to reconnect Americans to the outdoors. Continue reading

EPA proposes new emission rules for trucks

New rules would help cut greenhouse gases and save money on fuel costs

The EPA is proposing new emission and fuel efficiency standards for heavy duty trucks, buses and vans, to take effect in 2014.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — New emission and fuel efficiency rules proposed by the EPA for heavy duty trucks and buses could cut greenhouse gas emissions by 250 million metric tons per year, and save 500 million barrels of oil over the lifetimes of the vehicles produced during the program’s first five years.

If approved, the new standards for combination tractors would take effect in 2014 and reduce emissions and fuel consumption 20 percent by 2018. For heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, the agencies are proposing separate gasoline and diesel truck standards, which phase in starting in the 2014 model year and achieve up to a 10 percent reduction for gasoline vehicles and 15 percent reduction for diesel vehicles by 2018 model year (12 and 17 percent respectively if accounting for air conditioning leakage). Continue reading

EPA wants input on environmental justice plan

The Valley of the Drums, a toxic waste facility in Kentucky in a Wikimedia Commons image from 1980.

Comment period extended to Oct. 22

By Summit Voice

From the EPA:

Plan EJ 2014 is an overarching strategy intended to advance EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s priority to “expand the conversation on environmentalism and work for environmental justice.” Plan EJ 2014, named in recognition of the 20th anniversary of President Clinton’s issuance of Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations, is a roadmap to help us integrate environmental justice into all of our programs.

The goals of the plan are to:

  • Protect health in communities over-burdened by pollution
  • Empower communities to take action to improve their health and environment
  • Establish partnerships with local, state, tribal and federal organizations to achieve healthy and sustainable communities.

Over the next four years, we will implement the plan and work to strengthen our efforts to carry out the Administrator’s priority through continuous and meaningful engagement with communities and all stakeholders.

We are looking for your comments and ideas on Plan EJ 2014. Specifically, we would like your thoughts on the 5 Cross-Agency Focus Areas: Rulemaking, Permitting, Compliance, Community-Based Action, and Administration-Wide Action.

  • Are the five Cross-Agency Focus Areas outlined above the correct ones?
  • What are some ways we can strengthen specific actions within the five Cross-Agency Focus Areas?
  • How would you prioritize the five Cross-Agency Focus Areas?

Click here for more information and to comment. Background on environmental justice after the break. Continue reading

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