Environmental News from Boulder, Colorado
Boulder Green Streets and the City of Boulder will present the fifth annual Boulder Ciclovia, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27. The event features several miles of temporary car-free streets open for the community to engage in healthy, active and sustainable activities. http://www.bouldergreenstreets.org/
Two major activity zones connect the route: Pearl Street between 15th and 17th streets, and the North Boulder Recreation Center at 3170 Broadway. Activities will be free and include live music, dance, arts, fitness and recreation. There will also be opportunities to learn about local sustainability efforts, enjoy local and natural foods, and explore outdoor adventure gear and more. To get between the zones along the designated routes associated with this one-day event, visitors must walk, bike, or use other alternative modes of transportation.
Many U.S. cities have adopted this concept, calling them Sunday Parkways, Summer Streets and various other names.
The most famous Ciclovia occurs in Bogota, Colombia, every Sunday, where 70 miles of major arterials are shut down and 2 million people take to the street to walk, bike and play.
City of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) Department will begin seasonal area closures to protect grassland ground-nesting birds beginning Thursday, May 1.
These closures will be in effect until July 31.
No designated trails will be closed as part of this protective measure.
The areas closed for grassland ground-nesting birds are:
Both sides of the Greenbelt Plateau Trail from Community Ditch Trail to the Greenbelt Plateau Trailhead on state Highway 128. Dogs will be allowed on the Greenbelt Plateau only if they are on leash (the trail is normally voice-and-sight control);
The area north of Community Ditch Trail and west of state Highway 93;
The area north of the Flatirons Vista North Trail and west of Highway 93 on top of the mesa;
The area north of the South Boulder Creek West Trail, east of the Bluestem Connector and south of Shanahan Ridge (dogs are prohibited in this area year-round).
Dog regulations on both the Community Ditch and Doudy Draw trails will remain voice-and-sight control.
For a variety of reasons, grassland bird populations in North America have declined sharply in the last several decades. Three species that OSMP monitors – Grasshopper Sparrows, Horned Larks and Lark Sparrows – have suffered at least a 50-percent population decline in the last 40 years, according to the National Audubon Society. The closures OSMP will implement Thursday are important in protecting these species’ habitats by keeping people and their pets away as the birds attempt to nest.
Please help OSMP protect these species and other ground-nesting birds by respecting the closures. Trespass violations can result in a summons with penalties up to 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
Source: City of Boulder
Public safety officials believe that this section of Boulder Creek will be safe for kayakers, swimmers, and tubers after the heavy equipment that was being used to remove sediment and debris is moved to other drainageways.
Contractors will continue removing debris and sediment east of Broadway, and that section of Boulder Creek will remain closed to recreational use. As flood recovery work progresses, other sections of Boulder Creek will be reopened when the city and county deem that it is safe for public use.
Source: City of Boulder
To continue to provide the most up-to-date information, resources and a dedicated contact for flood-related information, Boulder Flood Info will now have a presence on Inquire Boulder as well as a dedicated phone line.
Boulder Flood Info is the city’s comprehensive resource for all flood-related information. Currently, community members can visit www.BoulderFloodInfo.net for timely flood preparedness and recovery information or email BoulderFloodInfo@bouldercolorado.gov with questions or concerns.
With flood season upon us, expanding Boulder Flood Info was essential to provide our community with more options to get the most up-to-date information, said City Manager Jane Brautigam. We understand that community members are at very different stages of recovery and want to ensure they can get the information they need in various different ways.
Flood Info on Inquire Boulder
Inquire Boulder – the city’s virtual information desk – has been expanded to include a ‘Flood Information’ topic. This topic covers all flood-related information requests citywide. Community members can visit the Flood Information topic and make a service request. Inquire Boulder also has a specific topic dedicated to Flood Cleanup. If you have a Smartphone, residents are encouraged to download Inquire Boulder app. This app automatically geolocates service requests and provides the ability to take a picture with your device and include it with the submission.
Flood Info dedicated phone line
The Boulder Flood Info phone line, available at 303-441-1856, will be a central point of contact for residents and community members. As a citywide entry point, this phone line is a resource to answer questions as appropriate as well as route calls for department or topic-specific questions.
These additional resources should be used for informational purposes and are not intended for emergency requests. If residents feel their flood question or concern is an emergency, call 911 immediately.
Other ways to get Boulder Flood Info:
Visit www.BoulderFloodInfo.net for comprehensive, up-to-date flood-related info including:
Downloadable Community Guide to Flood Safety;
See the Flood Recovery Status Map; and
Learn about what the city is doing and what you can do to recover and prepare for flooding in Boulder.
Sign up for the Boulder Flood Info email list
Submit questions via BoulderFloodInfo@bouldercolorado.gov.
Source: City of Boulder
Volunteers will choose from 11 locations around Boulder. Registration is available online or by contacting Mary Malley, volunteer services coordinator for the Boulder Parks and Recreation Department, at 303-413-7245. Online registration closes on Wednesday, May 14. Registration the morning of clean up will be held from 8 to 8:30 a.m. at Scott Carpenter Park, located at 1505 30th St.
In appreciation of our volunteers, all participants are invited to join the parks and recreation department at Scott Carpenter Park, at noon, for a free ice cream social provided by Glacier Homemade Ice Cream; will receive a one-day pass to the Boulder Reservoir; and will be entered into a prize drawing.
The City of Boulder Parks and Recreation Department’s Urban Resources division is seeking volunteers for its Birds of Special Concern/Raptor Monitor Program at the Boulder Reservoir, located at 5565 N. 51st St. Training and orientation will be held from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 26. A slideshow presentation will be held in the morning followed by an easy walk of the monitor locations.
Monitors should be able to work independently and have their own binoculars. Skilled birders with the ability to identify osprey, American bittern, northern harrier and burrowing owl are preferred, but some identification training will be provided for beginners. Responsibilities include monitoring and reporting animal presence, bird behavior, nest locations, fledgling success, wildlife closure violations and assisting with educating the public. The days are flexible but a minimum commitment of one site visit per month consisting of approximately 1.5 hours each, from late April through early August, is requested.
For more information and to RSVP, please contact Mary Malley, volunteer services coordinator for the Parks and Recreation Department, at 303-413-7245.
The North Boulder Recreation Center (NBRC), located at 3170 Broadway, will close early at 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 5, to prepare for the annual Father and Daughter Dance. The East Boulder Community Center, located at 5660 Sioux Drive, will be open extended hours until 7 p.m. to accommodate NBRC’s early closure. The pools will close one-half hour before each center’s closing time.
For more information and to register for the Father and Daughter Dance, visit the registration website.
Source: City of Boulder
are a climate concern, CU-Boulder study says
In recent years, palm oil production has come under fire from environmentalists concerned about the deforestation of land in the tropics to make way for new palm plantations. Now there is a new reason to be concerned about palm oil’s environmental impact, according to researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder.
An analysis published Feb. 26 in the journal Nature Climate Change shows that the wastewater produced during the processing of palm oil is a significant source of heat-trapping methane in the atmosphere. But the researchers also present a possible solution: capturing the methane and using it as a renewable energy source.
The methane bubbling up from a single palm oil wastewater lagoon during a year is roughly equivalent to the emissions from 22,000 passenger vehicles in the United States, the analysis found. This year, global methane emissions from palm oil wastewater are expected to equal 30 percent of all fossil fuel emissions from Indonesia, where widespread deforestation for palm oil production has endangered orangutans.
“This is a largely overlooked dimension of palm oil’s environmental problems,” said lead author Philip Taylor, a postdoctoral researcher at CU-Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR). “The industry has become a poster child for agriculture’s downsides, but capturing wastewater methane leaks for energy would be a step in the right direction.”
The global demand for palm oil has spiked in recent years as processed food manufacturers have sought an alternative to trans fats.
For now, the carbon footprint of cutting down forests to make way for palm plantations dwarfs the greenhouse gases coming from the wastewater lagoons. But while deforestation is expected to slow as the focus shifts to more intensive agriculture on existing plantations, the emissions from wastewater lagoons will continue unabated as long as palm oil is produced, the researchers said.
However, the climate impact of the leaking methane could be mitigated by capturing the gas and using it to fuel power plants. Biogas technology has been used successfully for decades and it can produce renewable electricity at a cost that’s competitive with traditional fuels, the authors said.
The amount of methane biogas that went uncollected from palm oil wastewater lagoons last year alone could have met a quarter of Malaysia’s electricity needs. Tapping into that unused fuel supply could yield both financial and environmental benefits, the authors said.
Capturing methane at wastewater lagoons could be encouraged by making it a requirement before palm oil products can be certified as sustainable, the authors said. Current sustainability certifications do not address wastewater emissions.
Taylor, whose research typically focuses on carbon cycling in old-growth tropical forests, was inspired to do the analysis by undergraduate researcher Hana Fancher, who also is a co-author of the journal article. Fancher and Taylor were doing research in Costa Rica, where palm oil production is spreading, when Fancher became curious about how the oil was being processed.
“She has a wastewater background,” Taylor said. “She ended up doing an honors thesis on palm oil agriculture and wastewater emissions. This paper is an extension of that thinking.”
Other co-authors from CU-Boulder include Associate Professor Diana Nemergut, doctoral student Samantha Weintraub and Professor Alan Townsend, in whose lab the work was based. Other co-authors include Cory Cleveland of the University of Montana, William Wieder of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and Teresa Bilinski of St. Edwards University.
by JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It’s time for the public to start calling 19th century barbaric fossil fuels what it is: Energy of Mass Extinction. Dirty energy companies, including nuclear power plants, have been owned by a few rich white families from the start, which is why production of energy has remained in the Dark Ages even though clean renewable energy could have lit up the world easily, cheaply and without pollution twenty years ago. Given the latest advances in green energy technology, there’s absolutely no excuse for not legislating rapid shifts to clean energy by 2020.
Instead, world leaders, primarily the US government, not only serve as “barriers” to the advancement of green energy, they’re the fossil fuel industry’s sleaziest salesmen on earth: Big Oil pays for their seats on the Hill for the sole purpose of selling Energy of Mass Extinction to world markets. Oil executives are given an open door invitation to the White House any time and day of the week.
By contrast, lawyers that represent the public’s welfare and our environment are not welcomed, or they are put on a long waiting list. In short, the oil oligarchs operate from the White House where the polluters meet and draw up their plans. Judges are also owned by the oil firms. For example, read Buzzflash editor at Truthout Mark Karlin’s recent commentary about a federal judge that blocked U.S. courts from being used to collect a $9 billion Ecuadorean judgment against Chevron for turning a beautiful rainforest into a putrid toxic waste dump Thanks to a thoroughly corrupt US government, another victory for Chevron’s oil tyrants who don’t have to clean up the toxic sludge they leave behind after they’ve contaminated everything in sight for Energy of Mass Extinction.
In order to understand Obama’s plans for Energy of Mass Extinction, it’s worth reading two articles that appeared in the Rolling Stone: How the U.S. Exports Global Warming by Tim Dickinson. While Obama talks about shifting to a clean, green future, behind closed doors, he and his rich oil friends are selling tar-sands oil, black gunk refined to crude known as petroleum coke, which is denser and dirtier than burning coal—to world markets, mostly to China and Asian markets because it’s cheap fuel.
Too bad China won’t tell Obama to take his filthy tar-sands and shove it you know where, and that they’ll meet their energy demands with their advanced solar and wind technologies. But unfortunately, they’re buying it. And as long as there’s a demand, we will be doomed by these horrific decisions made by world leaders. Incidentally, “Hillary Clinton is even more supportive of the dirty-energy trade than the Obama White House.”
The second piece is Matt Taibbi’s The Vampire Squid Strikes Again. Thanks to deregulation going back to the Glass-Steagall Act under President Clinton, accelerated by Republican, Phil Gramm, banks have gone beyond financing dirty fossil fuel industries: they’re buying everything associated with the production of Energy of Mass Extinction for big profits.
When you read these two pieces together, you get a clear understanding of how oil firms, Wall St and the US government are buying and selling Energy of Mass Extinction in a blinding wheel of addiction to money while the earth is going up in flames. These people wouldn’t know a Redwood from a Palm tree. They’re completely divorced from nature. They are exactly what T.S. Eliot meant by the Hollow Men.
Meanwhile, in Washington D.C. hundreds of students are being arrested in front of the White House to protest against the Keystone Tar Sands Pipeline. Although these kids stepped over the line deliberately to get arrested for the sake of drawing attention to tar-sands Energy of Mass Extinction, to my mind, they were arrested to protect the oil industry.
While these kids are going to jail for trying to save a beautiful planet that is doomed from man-made pollution, the oil criminals continue to poison our drinking water, oceans, rivers, lands, and our air at mass levels of destruction. Are they getting arrested? No, they’re being wined and dined at the White House. As for the oil-owned media, as Buzzflash editor, Mark Karlin, pointed out, a huge, oil-funded PR campaign has been launched to push Obama’s approval of the northern Keystone leg from Alberta, Canada to the southern Keystone pipeline for delivery to the Gulf where it will be sold to China and Asian markets.
For example, it was disconcerting to see that HuffingtonPost Green published Warren Buffet’s cheerleading article for the Keystone pipeline. It’s one thing to post it in the business section, but to promote Buffet’s big push for the worst carbon emitting pollution on earth in the environmental section seemed terribly hypocritical at HuffPost Green. There’s one significant point that Buffet failed to mention in his article: that he plans to profit from his investment in the Keystone tar-sands pipeline. That’s how PR works: convince the public that oil (tar-sands) is good for them, when in fact, it only benefits a few billionaires like Buffet at the expense of life as we know it.
In my last Buzzflash-Truthout commentary, Who’s to Blame for Recurring Chemical & Oil Disasters, I made a reference to Elizabeth Kolbert’s new book, The Sixth Extinction. Kolbert is a staff writer at The New Yorker and also the author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe. In The Sixth Extinction, Kolbert explains how our use of fossil fuels and the effects of climate change are creating a mass extinction of the planet. “We are effectively undoing the beauty and the variety and the richness of the world which has taken tens of millions of years to reach,” said Kolbert on a NPR Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross.
That’s why it’s important for the public to call dirty energy what it is: Energy of Mass Extinction; it’s a barbaric fuel that is sucking the life and light from our Planet Earth.
Dirty Energy is the real Weapon of Mass Destruction. These ruthless monsters are not going to change their ways as long as they can profit by the billions from annihilating the earth. Therefore, we must all make an effort to stop using and buying these deadly products to the best of our abilities. That’s what’s happening in Hawaii. Residents are opting out of the grid for solar and by doing so, making it impossible for the antiquated utility company (HECO) to stay alive. Read Hawaii’s top renewable energy advocate Henry Curtis’ piece U.S. Utilities Face Impending Doom with the Rise of Cheap Solar.
Jacqueline Marcus is a contributing guest writer for Buzzflash at Truthout.org; she’s the editor ofForPoetry.com and EnvironmentalPress.com and author of Close to the Shore by Michigan State University Press. Her E-book, Man Cannot Live on Oil, Alone: Time to end our dependency on oil before it ends us, is available at Kindle Books.
After six months in effect, estimates show that the disposable bag fee has reduced use of paper and plastic checkout bags at grocery stores in Boulder by 68 percent. This reduction means the community has kept nearly 5 million disposable bags out of the waste stream since the fee went into effect on July 1, 2013.
“This is very positive news,” said Jamie Harkins, City of Boulder business sustainability specialist. “The bag fee arose from community concerns about the negative environmental and economic impacts of disposable bags in Boulder, and this progress report shows that we are addressing those concerns and doing so effectively.”
The disposable bag fee is one of several city initiatives aimed at bringing Boulder closer to its goal of becoming a zero waste community and diverting 85 percent of the waste stream away from the landfill and into recycling, composting and reuse facilities.
Of the approximately 22 million disposable checkout bags Boulder uses each year, 60 to 70 percent come from grocery stores. A study conducted by consultant TischlerBise in 2012 projected a 50 percent reduction in disposable bag use by the end of the first year of the fee, with approximately 3.6 million disposable bags subject to the fee (i.e. purchased) in the first six months. In actuality, Boulder shoppers have reduced disposable bag use by 68 percent and have purchased significantly fewer bags, approximately 2.3 million in total.
Of the 10 cents collected for each bag, 4 cents goes directly to retailers to defray fee implementation costs. The remaining 6 cents is remitted to the city to support education and outreach efforts about the bag fee as well as to cover expenses associated with providing bags to portions of the population that might be disproportionately impacted by the fee. No revenue collected as part of the fee program can be used to support General Fund services or programs.
The disposable bag fee does not apply to bags used inside stores for items such as produce, bulk food, or meat and fish, and does not apply to pharmacy prescriptions or newspapers.
Release Date: 02/28/2014
Contact Information: Hanady Kader, EPA Public Affairs, 206-553-0454, email@example.com
Agency action begins process to prevent damage to world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery
(Washington, D.C.—Feb. 28, 2014) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is initiating a process under the Clean Water Act to identify appropriate options to protect the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery in Bristol Bay, Alaska from the potentially destructive impacts of the proposed Pebble Mine. The Pebble Mine has the potential to be one of the largest open pit copper mines ever developed and could threaten a salmon resource rare in its quality and productivity. During this process, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cannot approve a permit for the mine.
This action, requested by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, reflects the unique nature of the Bristol Bay watershed as one of the world’s last prolific wild salmon resources and the threat posed by the Pebble deposit, a mine unprecedented in scope and scale. It does not reflect an EPA policy change in mine permitting.
“Extensive scientific study has given us ample reason to believe that the Pebble Mine would likely have significant and irreversible negative impacts on the Bristol Bay watershed and its abundant salmon fisheries,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “It’s why EPA is taking this step forward in our effort to ensure protection for the world’s most productive salmon fishery from the risks it faces from what could be one of the largest open pit mines on earth. This process is not something the Agency does very often, but Bristol Bay is an extraordinary and unique resource.”
The EPA is basing its action on available information, including data collected as a part of the agency’s Bristol Bay ecological risk assessment and mine plans submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Today, Dennis McLerran, EPA Regional Administrator for EPA Region 10, sent letters to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the State of Alaska, and the Pebble Partnership initiating action under EPA’s Clean Water Act Section 404(c) authorities.
“Bristol Bay is an extraordinary natural resource, home to some of the most abundant salmon producing rivers in the world. The area provides millions of dollars in jobs and food resources for Alaska Native Villages and commercial fishermen,” McLerran said. “The science EPA reviewed paints a clear picture: Large-scale copper mining of the Pebble deposit would likely result in significant and irreversible harm to the salmon and the people and industries that rely on them.”
Today’s action follows the January 2014 release of EPA’s “Assessment of Potential Mining Impacts on Salmon Ecosystems of Bristol Bay, Alaska,” a study that documents the significant ecological resources of the region and the potentially destructive impacts to salmon and other fish from potential large-scale copper mining of the Pebble Deposit. The assessment indicates that the proposed Pebble Mine would likely cause irreversible destruction of streams that support salmon and other important fish species, as well as extensive areas of wetlands, ponds and lakes.
In 2010, several Bristol Bay Alaska Native tribes requested that EPA take action under Clean Water Act Section 404(c) to protect the Bristol Bay watershed and salmon resources from development of the proposed Pebble Mine, a venture backed by Northern Dynasty Minerals. The Bristol Bay watershed is home to 31 Alaska Native Villages. Residents of the area depend on salmon as a major food resource and for their economic livelihood, with nearly all residents participating in subsistence fishing.
Bristol Bay produces nearly 50 percent of the world’s wild sockeye salmon with runs averaging 37.5 million fish each year. The salmon runs are highly productive due in large part to the exceptional water quality in streams and wetlands, which provide valuable salmon habitat.
The Bristol Bay ecosystem generates hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity and provides employment for over 14,000 full and part-time workers. The region supports all five species of Pacific salmon found in North America: sockeye, coho, Chinook, chum, and pink. In addition, it is home to more than 20 other fish species, 190 bird species, and more than 40 terrestrial mammal species, including bears, moose, and caribou.
Based on information provided by The Pebble Partnership and Northern Dynasty Minerals, mining the Pebble deposit may involve excavation of a pit up to one mile deep and over 2.5 miles wide — the largest open pit ever constructed in North America. Disposal of mining waste may require construction of three or more massive earthen tailings dams as high as 650 feet. The Pebble deposit is located at the headwaters of Nushagak and Kvichak rivers, which produce about half of the sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay.
The objective of the Clean Water Act is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters. The Act emphasizes protecting uses of the nation’s waterways, including fishing.
The Clean Water Act generally requires a permit under Section 404 from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before any person places dredge or fill material into wetlands, lakes and streams. Mining operations typically involve such activities and must obtain Clean Water Act Section 404 permits. Section 404 directs EPA to develop the environmental criteria the Army Corps uses to make permit decisions. It also authorizes EPA to prohibit or restrict fill activities if EPA determines such actions would have unacceptable adverse effects on fishery areas.
The steps in the Clean Water Act Section 404(c) review process are:
- Step 1 – Consultation period with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and owners of the site, initiated today.
- Step 2 – Publication of Proposed Determination, including proposed prohibitions or restrictions on mining the Pebble deposit, in Federal Register for public comment and one or more public hearings.
- Step 3 – Review of public comments and development of Recommended Determination by EPA Regional Administrator to Assistant Administrator for Water at EPA Headquarters in Washington, DC.
- Step 4 – Second consultation period with the Army Corps and site owners and development of Final Determination by Assistant Administrator for Water, including any final prohibitions or restrictions on mining the Pebble deposit.
Based on input EPA receives during any one of these steps, the agency could decide that further review under Section 404(c) is not necessary.
Now that the 404(c) process has been initiated, the Army Corps cannot issue a permit for fill in wetlands or streams associated with mining the Pebble deposit until EPA completes the 404(c) review process.
EPA has received over 850,000 requests from citizens, tribes, Alaska Native corporations, commercial and sport fisherman, jewelry companies, seafood processors, restaurant owners, chefs, conservation organizations, members of the faith community, sport recreation business owners, elected officials and others asking EPA to take action to protect Bristol Bay.