Archive for category Environment
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.
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.
Posted sans comment: the never ending series. This time, since I don’t comment, the quoted commentary is provided by some of the rightwing blogs that I read each week. Enjoy….
The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed coal regulations have angered Tea-GOP right-wingers who deny climate science.
Via The New Republic:
A standoff with Senate Democrats and the president over funding for the EPA and Interior Department could set the stage for a budget showdown, risking a partial government shutdown. Here we go again.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) said the House Appropriations Committee may include a rider to the bill that’s necessary to keep the Department of Interior and EPA open after the fiscal year’s end in September.
…A partial shutdown to the Interior and EPA might seem like it would cause less damage to the GOP than the full-scale shutdown of 2013. But remember that includes national parks, which was one of the most visible and unpopular consequences from last year’s shutdown. And the EPA is charged with a lot besides fighting climate change, like protecting our drinking water and overseeing cleanup of toxic waste sites.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has warned the Tea-GOP not to shut down the government over climate change. But really, if they do it right before the midterm elections it might do more good than harm.
Rocky Mountain Power continues to push the ALEC and Koch brothers agenda with a solar tax that has been talked about for several months now.
The fee, proposed by RMP, is aimed either at the 2000 or so customers who are trying to either shrink their power bill, or even add to the power grid, or it is aimed at killing Americas fastest growing method of generating power. Guess what the PR people say? “It’s not a tax on solar. It’s not a disincentive,” said Bramble,
ALEC flack and Business As Usual defender, sorry, R-Provo.
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I get tired of moaning and groaning about our broken political system, so here’s something I found that gives me hope for America.
Germany is making us look bad, because some thirty years after we passed up the chance to lead the world in solar energy, that country is astounding the world with what it’s been able to do with solar in a very short time.
This looks like a chance for America to lead the way yet, with – job creating – American made technology that the world would love to have. I realize this is a promotional video which is most likely not pointing to many downsides of their product, but can’t we just try it? It seems much simpler then going to the moon, and we’re all tired of the oil spills; most of which we never even hear about, because the stories are mostly banned from the media.
Check it out. There are lots of other videos on the subject, including a “TED” talk by the inventor, which I haven’t had time to watch yet.
UPDATE: Here’s the TED talk from Scott Brusaw and one other video.
An effort by San Juan County and the State of Utah to re-open part of Canyonlands National Park to motor vehicles has failed. The former jeep trail up Salt Creek from Peekaboo Spring, closed in 1998, is off the map now forever. Late Friday, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the absurd claim that the dead-end creek bed trail was a public “highway” as defined by the 148-year-old Revised Statute 2477 (which Congress repealed in 1976).
Back in 1995, the National Park Service proposed establishing a permit system and a daily limit on the number of vehicles driving the 8 miles to Angel Arch. But the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance obtained a court injunction that closed the motorized trail. In 2004, the Park Service decided to make the closure permanent. Thus began the 10-year court battle that ended last Friday.
While the lawyers argued and the judges deliberated, natural flooding has rendered the area impassable to vehicles.
I’ll probably won’t backpack up Salt Creek, but I’m going to rejoice because that opportunity will be there for others to enjoy in their lifetimes. Oh, and let’s all wish Canyonlands National Park a happy 50th birthday.
“We have agreed not to drive our automobiles into cathedrals, concert halls, art museums, legislative assemblies, private bedrooms and the other sanctums of our culture; we should treat our national parks with the same deference, for they, too, are holy places. An increasingly pagan and hedonistic people (thank God!), we are learning finally that the forests and mountains and desert canyons are holier than our churches. Therefore let us behave accordingly.”
–Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire
Why this is not on the table is mind-boggling. Even if you are someone who doesn’t believe in climate change or that pollution causes severe health problems (Which is just as stupid as not believing in math), then either way, oil is not going to last forever. We need fuel for our ships, our cars, our airplanes. Fuel is the reason we can cross the shores quickly, it’s how we get food from an agricultural state like California to a state like Utah that has more people than the land can provide food for. Only a fool would think this oil will last forever. It took 64 million years to make petroleum. It takes about 64 days to ferment a plant into alcohol. Even is a monetary sense, the idea of drilling is more costly because the methods of reaching oil have become pricier. Why is this not being discussed? The only thing we do have in terms of “renewable” is that 10% ethanol at the pumps and that’s only there because the Corn Lobby wanted to prove they have a bigger dick than the Oil Lobby.
To be fair, there is a push from the airlines to produce biofuels and there has been some traction going on with that. But that’s only because the airlines feel a huge weight around their neck from gas prices and it costs them money. For us, the consumer, we don’t have that type of power. It’s either fill your tank or you’re fired. Still if there was a way to make it more available, it’s better to do it now than to wait until all the problems of an oil shortage stack up.
From Climate Central:
In 1958, Charles David Keeling began making daily measurements of the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) at the Mauna Loa Observatory on the Big Island of Hawaii. These measurements were begun as part of a one-year initiative, the International Geophysical Year, but because of Keeling’s persistence, the daily record has continued through the present, almost without interruption. The Mauna Loa record, now known as the Keeling Curve, continues to be collected under the direction of Keeling’s son, Ralph.
Last year, atmospheric carbon dioxide briefly crossed 400 parts per million for the first time in human history. However, it didn’t cross that threshold until mid-May. This year’s first 400 ppm reading came a full two months earlier this past week and the seeming inexorable upward march is likely to race past another milestone next month.
“We’re already seeing values over 400. Probably we’ll see values dwelling over 400 in April and May. It’s just a matter of time before it stays over 400 forever,” said Ralph Keeling in a blog post.
To preserve a livable planet, climate scientists tell us we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level of 400 parts per million to below 350 ppm.
Right-wing Republicans remain unconcerned. Recently Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), the vice chair of the notoriously anti-climate change House Energy and Commerce Committee, said on “Meet the Press”: “Now, you know, when you look at the social cost of carbon, and there is a lot of ambiguity around that, what you also need to be doing is looking at the benefits of carbon and what that has on increased agricultural production.”
“The President should realize that Congress has taken action” on climate change policies, Blackburn said. “We have said no.”
World’s Oldest Direct Measure Of Atmospheric CO2 May Lose Its Funding