EPA: CO2 danger to the public

A picture named coalfiredpowerplant.jpg

This is a big deal. The EPA is going to regulate CO2. Here’s a report from Ian Talley writing for the Wall Street Journal:

“EPA’s going to look at Mass. Vs. EPA and will make an endangerment finding,” [Carol Browner, Obama’s special adviser on climate change and energy] told Dow Jones Newswires in an interview. The Supreme Court ordered the EPA in the case to determine if carbon dioxide endangered public health or welfare. “The next step is a notice of proposed rulemaking,” for new regulations on CO2 emissions, Ms. Browner said one the sidelines of the National Governors Association meeting, one of her first public appearances since inauguration. Ms. Browner declined to say exactly when the EPA would issue the finding or rulemaking, but EPA chief Lisa Jackson has indicated it could be on April 2, the anniversary of Mass Vs. EPA.

Officially recognizing that carbon dioxide is a danger to the public sets would trigger regulation of the greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants, refineries, chemical plants, cement firms, vehicles and any other emitting sectors across the economy.

Industry fears it could shut down the economy, not only preventing plants to operate and a drastic retooling of the energy sector but also pushing costs up uncompetitively, while environmentalists say that Administration action is required by law and to pressure lawmakers to act.

Lake Pueblo storage report

A picture named puebloreservoir.jpg

Here’s a look at winter operations and Lake Pueblo, from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Lake Pueblo should fill up again this spring, but with a dwindling snowpack, there is not as much concern of spilling water as last year at this time…

[Roy] Vaughan projects Lake Pueblo could be at capacity by the end of March, as Reclamation moves water from Turquoise and Twin lakes to make room for imported water this year…

Early forecasts show there could be as much as 79,000 acre-feet of water moved through the Boustead Tunnel from the Fryingpan River collection system on the West Slope into Turquoise Lake. The projections could change, however, if snowpack slows. If it holds up, it would be the second-largest Fry-Ark run in a decade. Last year, nearly 90,000 acre-feet were imported, although early projections predicted 100,000. Reclamation will not make a call on water availability until at least May 1. As of the end of last week, Colorado snowpack was 112 percent of average, and about 120 percent in the Roaring Fork basin. The Arkansas River basin snowpack was reported at 118 percent by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The snowpack levels have increased only slightly since mid-January and are moving closer to average. Lake Pueblo was 89 percent full at 228,000 acre-feet, but more water will be coming in at a steady rate. Reclamation already has moved 18,000 acre-feet of project water into Lake Pueblo, and anticipates bringing down another 25,000 acre-feet by April…

There are 17,000 acre-feet of carryover water from last year, and more than 38,000 acre-feet of water stored since Nov. 15. Another 10,000 acre-feet of winter water will be stored by March 15, when the program ends. There are more than 44,000 acre-feet of water stored in excess-capacity accounts, which could spill if the reservoir fills. Releases of carryover winter water by April 1, however, should create enough space in Lake Pueblo to accommodate the projected additions.

The U.S. Geological Survey report indicates Arkansas River and Fountain Creek stream flows are normal for this time of year. Levels at Wellsville, on the Arkansas River near Salida, were 400-500 cubic feet per second last week, 100 cfs Arkansas River through Pueblo and 300 cfs Avondale. Flows on Fountain Creek were about 100 cfs.

Pitkin County: Advisory board for ‘Healthy Rivers Fund’ on tap?

A picture named roaringfork.jpg

From the Aspen Daily News (Brent Gardner-Smith): “Three senior Pitkin County staff members are recommending that county commissioners use the bylaws of the county’s Open Space and Trails Board as a model to create a new advisory board for the Healthy Rivers and Stream Fund. County voters in November passed a 0.1 percent sales tax that is expected to generate $1 million a year for the fund. The county commissioners are now supposed to make decisions — with the advice of a citizen’s board — about how to spend the money.”

More coverage from the Aspen Times (John Colson):

Pitkin County officials disagreed recently on exactly how to handle the county’s new Healthy Rivers and Streams Fund, created by voters last November. They could not agree, in fact, on how many members should be appointed to an advisory board in charge of the fund, or whether those members should all be Pitkin County residents or from nearby communities and counties, as well.

But the Board of County Commissioners did agree with Commissioner Rachel Richards, who wants to get that board appointed and working on its task as soon as possible. The advisory board’s job is to make recommendations to commissioners on how to spend roughly $1 million in annual revenues from a 1 cent sales tax approved by Pitkin County voters in November 2008. The ballot language also authorized the county to borrow up to $12 million against the sales tax revenues, if needed. According to the wording of the ballot question, the board is to spend the money on maintaining and improving water quality and quantity within the Roaring Fork River watershed; to buy, modify, lease or otherwise manage water rights; work to assure minimum streamflows in local waterways; and other actions.

Cindy Houben, the county’s senior long-range planner, along with County Attorney John Ely and Open Space and Trails Director Dale Will, volunteered on Tuesday to provide staff support to the fund and to the advisory board, once it is formed. “We felt like it was pretty important not to spend money on staff this year,” said Houben at Tuesday’s work session with the commissioners, a reference to the ongoing economic recession that has cut into government revenues at all levels. It also was mentioned that county staffers felt they could have the advisory board filled and at work by June…

“I do feel there is a sense of urgency,” Richards said, explaining that a drought could hit the county next summer or the summer after, and the county would be helpless to keep water in rivers as things now stand. Plus, she said, the advisory board members would need time to “get up to speed” in such arcane policy areas as water law, the Colorado River Compact, and other water-related issues, which would involve travel to training seminars, conferences and the like…

But talk of waiting three years before putting the fund to work is not acceptable, she said, pointing out, “We asked for this fund for a reason.” She said there are numerous water-related issues coming to a head around the state that the advisory board should be involved in, and the sooner it is up and running, the better prepared it will be.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.