New National Academy of Sciences study puts numbers to the expected the impacts of climate change

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From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

For example, for every 1.8 degrees of warming, Colorado can expect 5 percent to 10 percent less water in the Arkansas River and Rio Grande, the government-funded study found. The Colorado River Basin, which sustains people in seven western states, likely would see 6 percent less water for every 1.8-degree increase. Wildfires would devour three times as much land, the study found. And rainfall in Colorado and other southwestern sates would decrease by 5 percent to 10 percent.

Meanwhile, here’s a report about June being the warmest on record from the Summit County Citizens Voice. From the article:

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported today that June 2010 was the warmest June on record for the planet, based on records going back to 1880. Combined land and sea temperatures around the planet made it the warmest January to June period on-record, the agency said in it’s monthly climate summary. The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for June 2010 was the warmest on record at 61.1 degrees, 1.22 degrees above the 20th century average. Warmer-than-average conditions dominated the globe, with the most prominent warmth in Peru, the central and eastern contiguous U.S., and eastern and western Asia. Cooler-than-average regions included Scandinavia, southern China and the northwestern contiguous United States.

More climate change coverage here.

Weld County: Recap of agricultural tour aimed to educate residents

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From The Greeley Tribune (Meagan Birely):

On Friday, the Chamber of Commerce Agricultural Committee brought farmers and city folks together to learn about the process, product, procedures and problems of sharing water. The tour, “From Desert to Oasis: The story of how irrigation transformed the plains of eastern Colorado” took a busload of people around Weld to look at different places impacted by and using different irrigation systems…

Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, who serves on the Legislature’s agricultural committee and is running for Congress in the 4th Congressional District, said the tour was very eye-opening to the role Weld plays in the world’s food supply. Garner said it is not only important for him personally to be educated on the matter but to continue to educate others as well. “We in agriculture have got to do a better job in educating our city citizens,” Gardner said. “We get 70 percent of our oil from overseas. I would hate to see that much of our food come from overseas.”

More education coverage here.

Southern Delivery System: Colorado Springs Utilities presents Reclamation with a counter-proposal in the ongoing negotiations for a an excess capacity storage contract

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Colorado Springs backed into a proposed figure of $25.31 per acre-foot annually beginning in 2011. Eventually, the SDS partners would like to store 42,000 acre-feet of water in Lake Pueblo in excess-capacity space — capacity in Lake Pueblo that is not needed for storing Fryingpan-Arkansas Project water. The move came after Michael Collins, Reclamation’s area manager, asked Colorado Springs for a counter-proposal based on a market approach in a Thursday negotiating session at the Fountain Valley School.

His request had come at the end of a day of heated discussions where Reclamation would not respond to a proposal by Colorado Springs based strictly on cost of service. Collins and the rest of Reclamation’s team — federal attorney Chuck Cahoy and contract officer Lynette Smith — faced pointed questioning from SDS Project Director John Fredell and attorney David Robbins. Reclamation had dropped the rate from $50 per acre-foot to $41.56 per acre-foot annually at the end of Thursday’s session…

The proposal would resolve a dispute over control of excess-capacity in the first few hundred feet of pipeline, allowing Colorado Springs to recoup some of the cost, but making it part of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project managed by Reclamation. Reclamation would apply the same rate to an exchange — really, a paper trade of water stored in Lake Pueblo for project water in upper reservoirs — of up to 10,000 acre-feet annually that Colorado Springs alone is requesting. Colorado Springs would pay for 1,000 acre-feet annually, but there is still disagreement about whether the city would be reimbursed if it did not use the exchange in any given year. “We appreciate receiving the proposal,” Collins said. “We’ll not give it consideration today, but withhold our decision until the next session.”

Here’s where things stood after Friday’s session according to a report from Daniel Chaćon writing for the The Colorado Springs Gazette. From the article:

…representatives from both sides said they were optimistic they could reach a deal. “It’s hard to predict how close we are, really, but I’m very encouraged by the negotiation process,” said Michael Collins, manager of the federal agency’s Eastern Colorado Area Office in Loveland. “We’ve had good sessions all the way along.”[…]

Before the end of today’s negotiation session – the fourth since May – Utilities proposed paying $25.31 per acre-foot, plus a 1.79 percent annual inflation fee. Collins said the federal agency would give the proposal “serious consideration” and provide a response at the next negotiation session, which has not yet been scheduled.

More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

On Friday, Colorado Springs proposed building a 90-inch pipeline from the North Outlet Works to the point where the SDS pipeline would turn out to provide Pueblo West water, several hundred feet from the dam. SDS would use a maximum of 150 cubic feet per second in the pipeline, which would have a capacity of roughly four times that. “The SDS partners would use 25 percent,” John Fredell, SDS project director told Reclamation’s negotiating team. “The excess-capacity, you would control.”[…]

Reclamation Area Manager Michael Collins offered Colorado Springs a payment of $287,500 — Colorado Springs estimated $500,000; Reclamation, $75,000 — over three years to oversize the line to 90 inches to the point where SDS becomes a single-purpose project. “Future generations would say we were short-sighted if we did not do this,” Collins said. David Robbins, Colorado Springs attorney, argued that while the cost of using larger pipe is minimal, SDS participants should not bear the costs of building the $30 million North Outlet Works alone if others hook on in the future. “If third parties want to use it, they should be asked to pay the cost,” Robbins said. Friday’s proposal backed off that position. Under Colorado Springs’ calculations, the oversized portion of the pipeline would cost $23 million, but in negotiations reimbursement for only $5 million was requested…

Colorado Springs and Reclamation made progress toward a conveyance contract Friday that would be separate from the excess-capacity storage and exchange contracts that are being negotiated. Robbins suggested numerous changes in the contract language that did not substantially alter the substance of the deal. Reclamation backed off its original stance of charging for conveyance from Pueblo Dam, instead letting the SDS participants use the North Outlet Works they build at no additional charge.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.

2010 Colorado elections: The Hasan Family Foundation wants Scott McInnis to reimburse the dough he was paid for his fellowship

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Patrick Malone):

McInnis said he intends to repay the foundation [$300,000]. The demand followed an internal foundation review of articles submitted by McInnis that contained plagiarized material. A written statement released by the board Friday said McInnis’ output for the foundation “was only a fraction of the work he was obligated to perform . . . Of the little work that he did, he has admitted it was neither fully completed by him, nor fully original. In view of the public disclosure . . . it is clear that Mr. McInnis has not fulfilled the terms of our agreement . . . The foundation demands he repay all monies paid to him under the fellowship.”[…]

“The foundation board met and reviewed the facts of the case,” Hasan family spokesman Drew Dougherty said Friday. “With the admissions from Mr. McInnis and Mr. Fischer, no further investigation was necessary.”

Here’s what I’m sure the McInnis campaign hopes is the final word from them (from email):

Scott McInnis, Republican candidate for Governor, today issued the following statement in response to a news release issued by The Hasan Family Foundation:

“I have said since this matter was brought to my attention that the articles provided as part of the Hasan Family Foundation fellowship were faulty. I explained how this problem arose, and I accepted responsibility.

“I apologized to the Hasans for this mistake, and I expressed my determination to make it right with my dear friends. I will be in contact with the Hasan family to make full payment arrangements. I agree with the Foundation that this brings this matter to a close, and I look forward to continuing to speak on the campaign trail about the critical issues facing all of Colorado, including jobs and economic recovery.”

Three staffers have resigned over the scandal from the McInnis campaign according to a report from Karen Crummy writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

“That says to me one of two things: Either they (the staffers) have lost confidence in the viability of the campaign or they’ve lost confidence in the candidate due to the incident,” said longtime political analyst Eric Sondermann.

McInnis on Friday also backed out of the second scheduled public appearance in as many days, this time an Arapahoe County Republicans event featuring former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a possible 2012 presidential candidate and vice president of the Republican Governors Association…

While those signs point to a foundering campaign, McInnis has reserved nearly $260,000 in television time in the Denver and Colorado Springs markets to run his first TV ads up to the Aug. 10 primary election…

The departing staffers — policy director Mac Zimmerman, political director Dustin Zvonek and regional director T.Q. Houlton — were all staffers of former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, who garnered the most support for governor among registered Republican voters in a Denver Post poll released Friday. Zimmerman was also the chief of staff for former state Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, and Zvonek worked for Penry as a policy analyst.

Here’s a guest commentary from Seeme Hasan writing in The Denver Post. She writes:

In building the Hasan School of Business of Pueblo — in addition to many donations to other causes, including the University of Colorado Foundation, Pueblo Community College and the Pueblo City Library — water education was to become one of the biggest contributions that the Hasan Family Foundation would give to our state. Unfortunately, these goals were not to be realized. While history will tell certain stories of this past week, the most terrible loss is that of Colorado’s — the missed opportunity of uniting to protect our water. To us, this will forever be Colorado’s greatest tragedy.

According to this report from Wyatt Haupt Jr. writing for the Grand Junction Free Press John Hickenlooper — who has wisely avoided too much public comment on the McInnis plagiarism scandal — has moved ahead in a Rasmussen poll. From the article:

The Rasmussen Reports survey showed Hickenlooper with 45 percent of voter support, while McInnis picked up 43 percent. A total 7 percent expressed support for a different candidate, while 5 percent indicated they were of undecided status. The poll has margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. A total of 750 likely voters were surveyed July 15. The poll represents a 7-percentage point switch in the last month for McInnis, whose campaign was rocked earlier this week by a plagiarism charge. The allegation surfaced in a Denver Post story, which delved into water articiles penned by McInnis in 2005 and 2006.

Here’s some of the back story about Rolly Fischer and Scott McInnis from Tim Hoover writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

Rolly Fischer developed a high profile as a water expert during a 28-year career with the Colorado River Water Conservation District but left after his own brushes with ethics questions were publicized. In 1996, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel published a series of articles examining how the river district, then headed by Fischer, had done business with companies operated by his wife. Fischer himself was an officer in the companies, which provided temporary employees and payroll services to the water district. The contracts for those services were not put out for competitive bids. Fischer also came under scrutiny for his $105,000 annual salary, perks that included a personal vehicle and executive airline club memberships and spending practices such as racking up $14,000 in travel expenses in one year. Fischer abruptly resigned from the water district after the Sentinel’s stories ran.

More coverage from Charles Ashby writing for The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article:

McInnis went on to say he had apologized to the group for the mistake and would contact it “to make full payment arrangements.” The incident has dogged McInnis all week and is expected to remain an issue through the Aug. 10 primaries, where he hopes to win the GOP nomination against Evergreen businessman Dan Maes. McInnis has repeatedly said he will not drop out of the race despite numerous calls for him to do so. “I look forward to continuing to speak on the campaign trail about the critical issues facing all of Colorado, including jobs and economic recovery,” he said.

Finally, Jason Salzman pokes some fun at Scott McInnis on the Huffington Post. He writes:

But even if you have to give some of the money back, you should know that you’ll definitely have the respect of the freelance writing community for breaking free from the normal rules that bind writers to their desks. You’ve allowed me and other freelancers to dream of a day when we can be freelance writers and not write at all. As a leader, you’re trying to head us in that direction by experimenting with new freelance ideas and techniques. Some will surely fail, but that’s to be expected as you work toward a world where freelance writers are paid more and work less. As I wrote before, “Honorable” Congressman, whether you’re elected or not, you have secured your spot as a rock star of the freelance writing community in Colorado. Please let us know at your earliest convenience when you will be able to meet with me and other writers to advise us on how we can be as successful as you at freelance writing.

More 2010 Colorado Elections coverage here.