Archive for category Environment
Bears Ears buttes, Elk Ridge, San Juan County Utah
The Bears Ears National Monument proposal has been on the table since last year. There is some speculation that President Obama is readying a proclamation, despite a dire warning from Senator Orrin Hatch that it could result in an armed confrontation similar to the one at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.
The monument proposal stands on its own considerable merits. Adequate protection of the area, particularly the archaeological sites of Cedar Mesa, is long overdue. A recent poll found 71 percent of Utahns support the Bears Ears monument. Additionally, Utah politicians could stand to benefit from a well-timed reminder that we the people own our public lands, not the corporations.
Rep. Chris Stewart recently tacked an amendment onto the Interior Appropriations Bill, seeking to prohibit new national monuments in Utah.
The Utah land grab agenda also includes Rep. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz’ Public Lands Initiative (PLI), nicknamed the “Plundered Lands Initiative” by conservation groups. The representatives are still threatening to introduce this corporate-friendly development bill in Congress.
Gov. Gary Herbert is still proceeding with a threatened lawsuit aimed at seizing 30 million acres of our Utah public lands, a doomed gesture that may cost us $14 million.
The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary. Despite the controversial 1996 proclamation by the Clinton administration, the GSENM is thriving today. Let’s hope President Obama is willing to counter the anti-public-lands Utah politicians with a resoundingly popular monument proclamation this summer.
I’m actually naive enough to think that our senators would show up to hear the concerns of the citizens who showed up to a hearing in Salt Lake on March 2nd, 2016, concerning the new “Public Lands Initiative”, (PLI). I don’t know why I thought that, when the hearing wouldn’t have even taken place without being organized by “Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment”.
Jason Chaffetz gets a gold star for sending a notice he wouldn’t be present. Orrin Hatch, Rob Bishop and Mike Lee didn’t even have enough decency to reply to their invitation. Lack of respect from the senators, for the overwhelming majority of their constituents was a common theme throughout the night.
It was a good turnout, and it’s too bad it wasn’t held in a larger venue then Orson Spencer Hall. There wasn’t enough room for all the people who came to the event, even though some the attendees had to stand along the wall after the seats were gone. People at the back of the auditorium were complaining about all the noise being made by the folks in the foyer.
My camera batteries weren’t sufficient to record the entire meeting which lasted over three hours. Many dozens of people submitted a request to speak. I got some good footage though, which I present here for the people of Utah and hopefully others across the nation, since this terrible initiative could affect many other states, should it pass as written.
Enjoy the passion!
An historic, literally world-changing agreement was reached today in Paris. Almost two hundred leading nations unanimously embraced a plan that will leave most of the world’s fossil fuels unburned.
Following years of abortive talks and failed summits, President Obama said world leaders had finally “met the moment” by coming together and agreeing to a deal that represents “the best chance we have to save the one planet we’ve got.”
Some advocates, however, lamented that the deal falls short. They pointed to a lack of a specific timescale for phasing out fossil fuels, for example, as well as weak language on monitoring and verifying countries’ greenhouse gas emission reductions.
“This agreement won’t save the planet, not even close,” Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, a climate advocacy group, told The Huffington Post in an email. “But it’s possible that it saves the chance of saving the planet — if movements push even harder from here on out.”
Indicative of the state of American politics in the age of Faux News Channel, the only Tea-GOPer in Paris for the climate talks was Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former California “Governator.”
Where was the Tea-GOP? Rafael (“Ted”) Cruz held a last-ditch climate denial hearing in the Senate last week.
All of the Tea-GOP presidential contenders, with the exceptions of Chris Christie and Lindsay Graham, either deny the conclusions of climate science or have been avoiding the issue.
This is a time sensitive cartoon. You only have until tomorrow to watch it for the full effect.
It’s angering to imagine where we could have been by now:
The Utah Department of Natural Resource’s Division of Oil, Gas and Mining held a hearing yesterday morning because a Canadian energy corporation has plans to mine large areas of Utah tar sands. Under state law, a hearing must be held if residents have objections.
I was worried nobody would be there to document the proceedings, so I took my camcorder to the event. The first part of the meeting was consumed by representatives for “U.S. Oil Sands”, defending the Calgary based company from questions about it’s protection of Utah’s water resources.
The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret Morning News did stories on the matter, but I’m pretty sure I was the only one who filmed the meeting. Television crews sometimes cover things getting set up and then leave when important public events get underway.
I’m only presenting comments given by the Utah activists and citizens who showed up and elected to speak. Obviously I didn’t have a tripod. Nothing has been edited except for where the second speaker gives his name. My battery had to be changed.
After the public comments, John Baza, who presided over the hearing said, “There are things that have been said here today that have touched me and I am sensitive to those.” My opinion is that the corporation will get everything it wants. Am I being cynical again?
UPDATE: Here is the panel discussion portion of the hearing. This is virtually the entire conversation. The short gaps were due to small camera adjustments. I’m still learning how to use it.
The man closest to, and facing away from my camera during the video and in the top picture of this post is University of Utah geology professor, Bill Johnson. He is fighting hard for Utah’s lands:
UPDATE: As I suspected, the expansion of the “U.S. Oil Sands” project has been approved. The Salt Lake Tribune reports “a partial victory for environmentalists due to requiring the company to monitor nearby springs for potential groundwater contamination and submit documentation showing the mine is in compliance with air quality regulations. Of course none of the environmentalists wanted an expansion at all, and I have my doubts that the monitoring will be carried out sufficiently.
Here’s the latest Deseret News article.
(Credit: NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information)
Turns out that Faux News Channel was wrong about climate change. There wasn’t any ‘pause’ or ‘hiatus’ in global warming. Surprised? Also wrong– presidential candidate Rafael (“Ted”) Cruz, who said this just over three months ago:
“The last 15 years, there has been no recorded warming. Contrary to all the theories that – that they are expounding, there should have been warming over the last 15 years. It hasn’t happened.”
It turns out that using the global mean surface temperature as the primary yardstick for climate change masked the actual trend. Also temperature fluctuations due to natural variation led to some speculation about “missing heat” that actually wasn’t missing at all, it was in the oceans.
Maybe NOW we can cancel all the “debates” about whether climate change is happening, and start talking about how to adapt to it. Prevention is no longer an option, but possibly we can mitigate warming or limit the duration.
Federal scientists say there never was any global warming “pause”
[T]he poles are warming faster than any part of the planet and rapid ice melt is being observed at increased rates in Antarctica. According to a new study, ice shelves in West Antarctica have lost as much as 18 percent of their volume over the last two decades, with rapid acceleration occurring over the last decade.
…While the polar regions are feeling the most severe temperature changes brought on by the rise in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, areas across the globe are setting record highs at a much faster rate than record lows. Since 2010, 46 nations or territories out of 235 have set or tied record highs. Only four have set record lows.
“So it is a bad year for the Earth and an equally bad year for the politicians, talk show radio ‘scientists’, climate-denial funders, and second rate scientists who told us not to worry,” as climate expert Professor John Abraham told me. “They told us global warming had stopped nearly two decades ago. The problem is, science and climate change marched forward. Perhaps next time we will believe the real scientists.”
The future of Utah public lands?
Speaking Thursday at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City, former Arizona Governor and Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt slammed Utah’s illegal and unconstitutional attempt to steal 31 million acres of our public lands. The federal government ignored Governor Herbert’s December 31 deadline to close down land management agency offices and turn over control to the state.
“Our public land heritage really is under attack,” said Babbitt, speaking at a Conservation Alliance event. “We’ve really got a crowd of uninformed, misguided politicians who are attempting to dismantle or abolish public lands and the agencies that administer them.”
“The sponsors of this are fronting for the oil and gas, coal and tar sands industry,” he said…
“Public lands belong to all Americans,” he added. “They are used for energy production right now in a careful, responsible way. But for whatever reason, Utah politicians are saying we have to do it faster and do more, cast off environmental regulations and put all our heritage at risk.”
…Babbitt cautioned Westerners Thursday against dismissing today’s land transfer movement as just another retread of past Sagebrush Rebellions.
“This is different,” Babbitt said. “The money is coming nationally, from the fossil fuel industry, and married to the ideology that is being pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council and others, who are wrapping this into broad-scale attack against the federal government.”
The Utah legislature has appropriated $2 million of OUR money to sue the federal government in support of their insane ALEC-inspired raid on our national forests, national wildlife refuges, and BLM public lands.
Utah is lone cowboy trying to wrangle public lands
Despite numerous invitations from Utah lawmakers, no other states have signed on.
Time series of five-year global temperature averages, mapped from 1880 to 2014, as estimated by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.
The year 2014 ranks as Earth’s warmest since 1880, according to two separate analyses by NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists.
The 10 warmest years in the instrumental record, with the exception of 1998, have now occurred since 2000. This trend continues a long-term warming of the planet, according to an analysis of surface temperature measurements by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) in New York.
In an independent analysis of the raw data, also released Friday, NOAA scientists also found 2014 to be the warmest on record.
While scientists expect temperatures to fluctuate from year to year, the average temperature of the planet as a whole has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius) since 1880. This trend is largely driven by increasing human emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
The right-wing Utah legislature began a legal battle to steal our public lands when Gov. Gary Herbert signed HB 148, the “Transfer of Public Lands Act and Related Study” in March 2012. Supposedly, if the federal government does not turn over title to 31.2 million acres of land by the end of this month the State of Utah will spend millions of dollars of our tax money on a ridiculous lawsuit. HB 148 is utterly unconstitutional according to the Property Clause (U.S. Const. art. IV, sec. 3, cl. 2.), the Utah Constitution (Article III), and illegal under Section 3 of the Utah Enabling Act.
We found out yesterday that a theoretical takeover of public lands by the State of Utah would place a heavy burden on the state budget.
A study released Monday by researchers at three Utah universities found that transferring national forests and other public lands to the state of Utah would cost taxpayers at least $280 million per year — a price tag that could only be paid if the state were able to increase drilling and mining, seize energy royalty payments that are owed to U.S. taxpayers, and, if energy prices remain low, raise taxes to pay for the shortfall.
Here’s the right-wing “plan”: Fire 5,000 or so federal employees, abolish all of our national forests and national parks, and turn over Utah public lands to the corporations– particularly the oil and gas industry and the tar sands industry. These are the same legislators who slashed the Utah Division of State Parks and Recreation budget by nearly 80 percent. What could possibly go wrong?
NOAA’s GOES-13 satellite captured this image of the massive Superstorm Sandy on October 28, 2012.
[O]n Sunday, the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change released a Synthesis Report detailing the dangers of climate change. Hundreds of scientists spent the last five years preparing this final report, which says that carbon pollution must be slashed now or risk “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.”
None of the network Sunday shows mentioned this latest report or its stark findings.
It’s not just a media fail. Has any candidate in tomorrow’s election mentioned climate change as a campaign issue?
Take a look at the damage from Superstorm Sandy in the before-and-after aerial imagery. This one storm two years ago impacted more than a dozen states along the eastern seaboard, causing $65 billion in damage. A major factor in the disaster was the higher sea level. Climate models predict that sea level will rise an additional two to three feet over the next century.