Coyote Gulch running on WordPress passes the half million page view milestone

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Wow, sometime after midnight Coyote Gulch running on WordPress surpassed the half million page view mark. That seems like a lot of hits but I’m sure that there are those for which 500,000 hits would be a slow day.

Colorado water issues will never draw the crowd that other subjects do but I’m content with that.

Coyote Gulch is a labor of love. I started out covering politics, getting a bit of recognition for my coverage of the Denver municipal election in 2003. After that came Governor Owens’ Referendum A (a political reaction to the shock of the 2002 statewide drought) in the fall of 2003. The referendum failed in all 54 counties in Colorado but launched Coyote Gulch as a water issues blog. Thank you Governor Owens.

The original Coyote Gulch ran on software from a now defunct company named Userland Software. The archives are still available at http://radio-weblogs.com/0101170/.

I moved Coyote Gulch to WordPress in February of 2009 after experiencing publishing problems with the old software. WordPress is great — Open Source — software. I’m continually amazed at the versatility and ease of use.

Thank you to all of you that bother to give me a read now and again. In keeping with the times you can follow Coyote Gulch on Twitter (@coyotegulch), Facebook and Linkedin.

Durban, South Africa: Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, ‘…told delegates that failure to agree after 16 days of work would be an unsustainable setback for international efforts to control greenhouse gases’

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From the Associated Press (Arthur Max) via Bloomberg Business Week:

South Africa’s foreign minister and chairman of the 194-party conference, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, told delegates that failure to agree after 16 days of work would be an unsustainable setback for international efforts to control greenhouse gases.

“This multilateral system remains fragile and will not survive another shock,” she told a full meeting of the conference, which had been delayed more than 24 hours while ministers and senior negotiators labored over words and nuances.

Nkoana-Mashabane said the package of four documents, which were being printed as she spoke, were an imperfect compromise, but they reflected years of negotiations on issues that had plagued the U.N. climate efforts.

The 100-plus pages would give new life to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, whose carbon emissions targets expire next year and apply only to industrial countries. A separate document calls on major emitting nations like China and India, excluded under Kyoto, to accept legally binding emissions targets in the future.

After her brief address, Nkoana-Mashabane adjourned the session. The documents were to be discussed and put up for approval later Saturday. The convention operates by consensus, and the package will not be put up for a vote.

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More coverage from Louise Gray writing for The Telegraph. From the article:

At the end of the gruelling talks the world decided on the “Durban Platform for Enhanced Action”. The two-page document commits all countries to cutting carbon for the first time. A “road map” will guide countries towards a legal deal to cut carbon in 2015, but it will only come into affect after 2020.

Is this a step forwards for the world or backwards?

It depends who you ask. It is a success in terms of keeping the climate change talks on track after it was feared no decision would be reached, making a mockery of the UN process – especially after the collapse of the last high profile talks in Copenhagen in 2009. The EU, who led calls for the so-called “road map” are hailing it as “an historic breakthrough”. The bloc point out that this is the first time that the world’s three biggest emitters: The US, China and India have signed up to a legal treaty to cut carbon.

However it is a failure in terms of the expectations of certain countries, like the small island states, and the charities, who wanted a much stronger agreement. They argue that the legal language needs to be a lot stronger to force countries to act and dates should be brought forward to stop global warming. They point out that carbon emissions will have to peak by 2020 and start to come down for the world to limit temperature rise to 2C.

What about the Kyoto Protocol?

The EU and a few other developed countries have signed up to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, that ends in 2013. This will ensure that there is still some form of legally binding treaty to cut carbon in place in the interim eight years before the new agreement comes into force at the end of 2020. However most of the developing world and the US remain in voluntary agreements to cut carbon until 2020.

Meanwhile, Dr. James Hansen is warning the the 2 degree celsius target is not enough to head off the disaster of anthropogenic climate change. Here’s a report from Bob Berwyn writing for the Summit Daily News. From the article:

“Limiting human-caused warming to 2 degrees is not sufficient,” Hansen said. “It would be a prescription for disaster … Humans have overwhelmed the natural, slow changes that occur on geologic timescales,” Hansen said. Hansen, along with co-author Makiko Sato, studied how Earth’s climate responded to past natural changes to try and answer one of the fundamental climate science questions: “What is the dangerous level of global warming?”[…]

Based on Hansen’s temperature analysis work at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the Earth’s average global surface temperature has already risen .8 degrees Celsius since 1880, and is now warming at a rate of more than .1 degree Celsius every decade. This warming is largely driven by increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, particularly carbon dioxide, emitted by the burning of fossil fuels at power plants, in cars and in industry…

Hansen and Sato compared the climate of today, the Holocene, with previous similar “interglacial” epochs – periods when polar ice caps existed but the world was not dominated by glaciers. Studying cores drilled from both ice sheets and deep ocean sediments, Hansen found that global mean temperatures during the Eemian period, which began about 130,000 years ago and lasted about 15,000 years, were less than 1 degree Celsius warmer than today. If temperatures were to rise 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times, global mean temperature would far exceed that of the Eemian, when sea level was four to six meters higher than today, Hansen said…

Two degrees Celsius of warming would make Earth much warmer than during the Eemian, and would move Earth closer to Pliocene-like conditions, when sea level was in the range of 25 meters higher than today, Hansen said. In using Earth’s climate history to learn more about the level of sensitivity that governs our planet’s response to warming today,

Hansen said the paleoclimate record suggests that every degree Celsius of global temperature rise will ultimately equate to 20 meters of sea level rise. However, that sea level increase due to ice sheet loss would be expected to occur over centuries, and large uncertainties remain in predicting how that ice loss would unfold.

Denver: The Colorado Court of Appeals affirms that Montrose County followed the rules for issuing a conditional-use permit for the proposed Piñon Ridge uranium mill

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From the Associated Press via The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel via The Colorado Springs Gazette:

The Telluride-based Sheep Mountain Alliance challenged the county’s process, saying the state’s open meetings law was violated and the county had abused its discretion in approving a permit.

According to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (http://bit.ly/sJpbZI ), the court on Thursday also upheld the ability of the mill to process an average 500 tons of ore per day.

The alliance has another lawsuit pending against the state Health Department, which the alliance says will address broader issues than the zoning case in Montrose County.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

Aspen: The city council will discuss the Castle Creek hydroelectric generation plant on Monday

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From The Aspen Times (Andre Salvail):

Matt Rice, Colorado director for American Rivers, said his organization wasn’t trying to “drop a bomb” in advance of the city’s meetings. He said the report, released Thursday, was intended for council members, city officials and others involved in the debate over the merits of the project. Rice also expressed disdain for a press release the city issued Friday stating that the American Rivers-commissioned report contains “egregious errors.”[…]

A work session at 1 p.m. Monday is designed to give council members answers to some long-pressing questions surrounding the project; the council’s regular meeting Monday evening will include a public hearing on a zoning request for the proposed facility, dubbed the Castle Creek Energy Center.

At the core of the organization’s report, researched and prepared by Tier One Capital Management LLC, is an estimate that the project will cost between $16 million and $18 million, with $7.3 million in interest payments over the life of bonds used to finance construction. The city of Aspen has disclosed a capital cost of $10.5 million, according to Tier One.

The city’s financial analysis, Tier One claims, does not include debt service on the $5.5 million bond that local voters approved in 2007. “Debt service will add significantly to the cost of the project, and it is inappropriate not to consider debt service in assessing financial feasibility,” the report states.

“Tier One concludes that the project is not cost effective,” the report continues. “Given the very high price of this project and debt service extending for 28 years, future electrical rate increases are a likely result.”

The city’s Friday statement says that Tier One’s alternative analysis of the project’s costs includes “many factual errors and egregious mistakes.” The city listed what officials have determined to be “three of the most fundamental” errors:

— Tier One “incorrectly states that the city of Aspen didn’t consider debt service” in its analysis.

— Tier One’s conclusion that the project should be abandoned is deeply flawed “due to its failure to consider only the incremental costs needed to complete the project [as] opposed to considering investments already made with benefits for projects other than the hydro plant.”

— Tier One “assigned ridiculously low inflation rates” for the cost of coal -— a power source on which the city is hoping to lessen its dependence through hydropower — using rates between .3 percent and .6 percent annually.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife reports a good Kokannee salmon spawning run this season at Blue Mesa Reservoir

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From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

Colorado Parks and Wildlife collected 11 million eggs from kokanee salmon running out of Blue Mesa Reservoir this fall. The record harvest will ensure that Colorado Parks and Wildlife will have adequate supplies for stocking 26 reservoirs around the state with salmon fry next year. But biologists say much more work needs to be done before they declare the population of kokanee salmon in the 9,000-acre reservoir recovered. Kokanee numbers have declined precipitously during the past 10 years as the population of predatory lake trout boomed, knocking the fishery out of balance. “One good spawning run does not mean we’ve fixed the problems,” said John Alves, senior aquatic biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s southwest region. “Blue Mesa is critical for our statewide kokanee program and the fishery is out of balance. There is no quick fix.”

More Aspinall Unit coverage here.

Windy Gap firming project update: More water for Boulder County

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From the Boulder Daily Camera (Laura Snider):

“It’s been a long haul for us, but we see a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Dana Strongin, spokeswoman for Northern Water, which is spearheading the project that will serve a number of local towns, including Louisville, Lafayette, Longmont, Broomfield, Erie and Superior. “We entered into this process in 2003. It takes a lot of work to take this water planning and put it into action.”

The goal of the Windy Gap Firming Project is to make the supply of water from the original Windy Gap project, which was finished in 1985, more reliable. The original Windy Gap project was never able to deliver all the water promised to towns on the Front Range because it has to piggyback on some parts of the Colorado-Big Thompson diversion system to make it across the mountains.

That’s a problem because in wet years — when there’s more water to divert from the river — the Colorado-Big Thompson system doesn’t have room to store the Windy Gap water in its already-full reservoir. During dry years, there’s room to store Windy Gap water, but the project’s water rights are so junior that it can’t draw water from the river.

The key feature of the $270 million firming project, if approved, would be the construction of a new reservoir in Larimer County to solve the storage problem. The proposed Chimney Hollow Reservoir would sit just west of Carter Lake and have a capacity of 90,000 acre-feet. The water to fill the reservoir would largely be pumped through existing pipes and canals.

Environmentalists have been concerned about the effects the Windy Gap project could have on the upper reaches of the Colorado River, which already has been severely depleted. In particular, they worry that taking more water from the headwaters of the Colorado will cause an increase in water temperature, which can be lethal for fish, and a decrease in “flushing flows,” which are critical for cleaning out the sediment that can armor the bottom of riverbeds, smothering aquatic insects.

When the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Windy Gap Firming Project was released in 2008, Trout Unlimited was one of the groups that said the document was inadequate. Now, the nonprofit organization says the final version of the document is an improvement over the draft, though still not good enough.

More Windy Gap coverage here and here.