Tag: Environmental justice

GOP launches new assault on public lands

Proposed bill would cut environmental reviews for massive clear cut logging and block access to environmental justice

Proposed legislation introduced by Republicans in Congress would open the door to widespread clearcutting without environmental reviews and black conservation advocates from seeking environmental justice in federal courts. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Once again, Republican lawmakers in Congress are trying to roll back long-standing forest protections on a piecemeal basis, knowing that the public would never stand for a frontal assault on fundamental public lands environmental regulations.

The difference now is that they have an ally in the White House willing sign such measures, which makes resistance in the legislature even more critical. In the latest effort, U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) reintroduced a measure that would allow logging projects on up to 30,000 acres — more than 46 square miles — of public land to proceed without meaningful public input, regardless of the environmental harms they might cause. Continue reading “GOP launches new assault on public lands”


Report offers cold, hard truth about global warming

Scientists say Paris deal is not nearly enough to curb harmful global warming

The average global temperature has spiked to dramatic new highs in the past few months.

By Bob Berwyn

The Paris climate agreement will likely be triggered into force within the next few weeks, which marks the beginning — not the end — of an intense effort to try and cap global warming before the planet is overwhelmed by heatwaves, droughts and super storms.

Governments and citizens need to rapidly ramp up efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, a group of scientists said this week, releasing a new report showing that the climate pledges made toward the Paris agreement won’t do the trick. Continue reading “Report offers cold, hard truth about global warming”

Environmental groups challenge continued operation of giant Four Corners coal-burning power plant

The Four Corners Power Plant in a 1972 photo via Wikipedia.
The Four Corners Power Plant in a 1972 photo via Wikipedia.

Global warming impacts, health of Native American communities at issue in new federal study

Staff Report

FRISCO — President Obama may be all about tackling global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions these days, but that message hasn’t trickled to to various government agencies, including the Interior Department’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, which last week released a draft environmental study on continued operation of the Four Corners Power Plant and Navajo Mine Energy Project.

The giant coal-burning facility is one of the biggest sources of heat-trapping greenhouse gases and other toxic air pollutants in the country, yet the draft study, which would permit continued operation for another 25 years, appears to ignore any option besides business-as-usual, according to environmental groups, who say they will challenge the federal government because it failed to look at impacts on climate and to wildlife and people. Continue reading “Environmental groups challenge continued operation of giant Four Corners coal-burning power plant”

Study: Highway pollution especially bad for young children

Exposure at early age leads to reduced lung function

A growing body of research links exposure to highway pollution with serious health problems, which raises an environmental justice issue, since housing developments near major roads are often aimed at lower income populations.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Urban planners looking to develop housing near highways need to pay attention to a substantial and growing body of research showing that exposure to automobile emissions along highway corridors has significant health impacts. At the very least, locations for housing developments should be subjected to rigorous air quality monitoring.

In one of the latest studies, Swedish scientists tracked the health of a large group of young children over time to show that exposure to highway pollution is associated with lung function deficits in children up to eight years old, particularly among children sensitized to common allergens, according to a new study.

“Earlier studies have shown that children are highly susceptible to the adverse effects of air pollution and suggest that exposure early in life may be particularly harmful,” said researcher Göran Pershagen, MD, PhD, professor at the Karolinska Institutet Institute of Environmental Medicine in Stockholm, Sweden. Continue reading “Study: Highway pollution especially bad for young children”

Is environmental justice at hand?

Feds make progress on environmental justice.

Federal memo could help agencies move on implementing an executive order from the Clinton administration

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Years of environmental studies in communities across the U.S. have come to the same depressing conclusion. Low income and minority neighborhoods face disproportionately greater environmental threats from toxic waste, industrial emissions and polluted water.

With good intentions, President Bill Clinton signed an executive order aimed at addressing environmental justice, but it has taken 15 years for the government to take a significant step toward implementing Clinton’s directive.Last week, multiple government agencies signed an agreement that commits them to incorporating environmental justice into all areas of decision making.

“They’ve done as much, or more, in the last two-and-a-half years than all the preceding administrations did in 15 years,” said Vernice Miller, vice chair of he Maryland Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities. “It puts down in black and white what every agency has to do,” said Miller, a national leader in the field of environmental justice. The agreement affects every agency across the federal government. Continue reading “Is environmental justice at hand?”

Colorado: EPA says I-70 plan needs some work

Air quality, environmental justice sections unfinished

The EPA says the environmental justice section of CDOT's I-70 plan needs beefing up.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The EPA this month weighed in on a draft plan for I-70 improvements, concluding that the environmental study omitted some important information about environmental justice, as well as  localized air quality impacts from tailpipe emissions, tabbed as “mobile source air toxics” in agency jargon. Read the EPA comment letter here, or in the Scribd.com window at the end of this story.

The comments aren’t a red light, or even a speed bump, just a reminder that all aspects need to be considered in project of this magnitude.

The Colorado Department of Transportation recognized the issue in the draft programmatic environmental impact statement for the I-70 plan,especially in the Vail Valley and between Silverthorne and Idaho Springs, where topography and heavy traffic combine to concentrate pollutants, including ultrafine particulates, black carbon, oxides of nitrogen and carbon monoxide. Click here to read a story about the draft plan.

A significant amount of research suggest that people living within 200 meters (about 600 feet) of highways run an increased risk of developing asthma, as well as reduced lung function in children. Research also suggests an increased risk for pulmonary and cardiac mortality for people exposed to highway pollution on a regular basis. Continue reading “Colorado: EPA says I-70 plan needs some work”

Most-viewed stories: Sept. 29 – Oct. 3

One of the top Summit Voice stories was a short blurb about an upcoming mountain weather workshop where you can learn how to use public weather info to build your own expertise in prognosticating powder.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A story about some new climate and tree-ring research by UCLA scientists quickly jumped to the top of the list. The study warns that a confluence of three cyclical climate variables this year could set the stage for a historic drought in parts of the Colorado River Basin. We also covered environmental justice, as the EPA seeks input on its plan to meld environmental and civil rights, and the most recent photo essay on fall colors also lingered near the top of the list. Click on the headlines below to view the stories and use the social media buttons at the end of each story to share them.