Civic groups brainstorm green policies at Vienna meeting
By Bob Berwyn
European environmental leaders this week called on the EU adopt an innovative mindset for dealing with climate and energy issues. Europe stands to gain from adopting progressive policies that create economic opportunities for businesses and improve life for citizens.
After laying the groundwork for utility scale solar development with an over-arching plan covering public lands, the Obama administration wants to take similar steps to foster offshore wind power. Last week, cabinet officials said their strategic vision for offshore wind energy includes reducing technical costs and risks to make investments more predictable.
The Department of Interior will take steps to make the regulatory process more predictable, transparent, efficient and informed by lessons learned from regulators in other countries. The Energy and Interior departments also committed to analyzing field data from operating offshore wind farms to asses impacts on marine life, turbine radar interference in to support future offshore wind siting and plan reviews. Continue reading “Feds seek to boost offshore wind power”→
Research to help shape efforts to reduce dangerous air pollution
By Bob Berwyn
Emissions from oil and gas production along the Colorado Front Range are a significant, measurable part of the region’s chronic summer ozone problem, scientists concluded after taking a close look at air pollution during an extensive research project in the summer of 2014.
Ozone levels in the area often spike above 70 parts per billion, a level deemed by the EPA to be dangerous to human health and to the environment, causing respiratory problems and damage to plants. About 17 ppb of that ozone are produced locally; about 3 ppb come from oil and gas industry emissions, according to a new study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.
Conservation advocates question plan for expanded fracking in Alaska’s Cook Inlet
Environmental advocates are warning that a plan to expand offshore fracking in Alaska’s Cook Inlet threatens a local population of beluga whales, considered to be among the most endangered whales in the world.
Broad coalition of conservation groups oppose measure that could speed approval of natural gas export terminals
Pro-fossil fuel legislators in Congress hope they can help their campaign donors by putting the cart before the fracking horse. An amended version of the Senate’s Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 (S. 2012) includes provisions that would speed up the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval of liquefied natural gas export terminals.
According to critics of the measure, that artificially increases the demand for U.S. natural gas and hits communities with additional health and climate risks. More than 370 organizations are urging the Senate to reject provisions in the bill that would encourage oil and gas fracking.
VIENNA —Longtime Summit Voice readers will have noticed a gradual transition over the last few years away from local news coverage in Colorado to focusing on what is probably the over-riding environmental issue of our time.
There’s no longer much doubt that global warming poses an existential threat to humanity. The Earth, to be sure, will survive, but the ability of humans to maintain some semblance of civilization is definitely under the gun.
At worst, climate change (and yes, I use the terms interchangeably) will trigger some catastrophic and and as-yet unforeseen tipping point that will lead to mass extinctions and widespread ecological collapse. That’s not far-fetched if the world doesn’t get a grip soon on greenhouse gas emissions.
At best, even if we meet the targets set at last year’s climate talks in Paris, there will be massive dislocation from coastal areas from flooding and storms, and mass migration from parts of the world that will just be too hot. There will probably be major disruptions to the world’s food supplies. And many of the world’s natural treasures, like its glaciers and coral reefs, will just disappear.
It’s easy enough to say that life goes on, at least in the short term, but that’s not enough. Sure, some of the other short-term issues (politics comes to mind) matter, but in the long run, none of it will unless we get our act together soon to cut greenhouse gas emissions to near zero.
Some of my climate change reporting is now online at InsideClimate News and I’d like to invite all Summit Voice readers to check out their feed. Their great team of journalists is working hard to cover the most important aspects of the climate change story, and I’m happy to add my reporting to that effort.
Using a vast sample of data collected in a citizen science project, researchers say they’ve been able to discern how hydropeaking affects aquatic insects that form the base of river food chains. The information could help resource managers develop alternative hydropower practices that aren’t as harmful to ecosystems, according to a new study published in the journal BioScience.
Hydropeaking refers to the practice of increasing river flows at times of peak demand, generally during the day. This study shows how abrupt water level changes affect aquatic insects in every stage of life. The research was done by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey, Oregon State University, Utah State University and Idaho State University. Continue reading “Environment: Can dams be operated without killing rivers?”→