#ClimatecChange: #ExxonKnew “…their sins of omission are truly inexcusable” — Bill McKibben

From The Guardian (Bill McKibben):

Like all proper scandals, the #Exxonknew revelations have begun to spin off new dramas and lines of inquiry. Presidential candidates have begun to call for Department of Justice investigations, and company spokesmen have begun to dig themselves deeper into the inevitable holes as they try to excuse the inexcusable…

As the latest expose installment from those hopeless radicals at the Los Angeles Times clearly shows, Exxon made a conscious decision to adopt what a company public affairs officer called “the Exxon position.” It was simple: “Emphasise the uncertainty.” Even though they knew there was none.

Someone else will have to decide if that deceit was technically illegal. Perhaps the rich and powerful have been drafting the laws for so long that Exxon will skate; I confess my confidence that the richest company in American history can be brought to justice is slight.

But quite aside from those questions about the future, let’s take a moment and just think about the past. About what might have happened differently if, in August of 1988, the “Exxon position” had been “tell the truth”.

That was a few months after Nasa scientist James Hansen had told Congress the planet was heating and humans were the cause; it was amid the hottest American summer recorded to that point, with the Mississippi running so low that barges were stranded and the heat so bad that corn was withering in the fields. Imagine, amid all that, Exxon scientists had simply said: “Everything we know says Hansen is right; the planet’s in serious trouble.”

No one would, at that point, have blamed Exxon for causing the trouble — instead it would have been hailed for its forthrightness. It could have begun the task of finding alternatives to hydrocarbons, and the world could have done the same thing. This would not have been an easy job: the world was utterly dependent on coal, gas and oil. But it would have become our planet’s single-minded job. With Exxon — largest company on Earth, heir to the original oil baron, with tentacles reaching around the world — vouching for the science, there is no way we would have wasted 25 years in fruitless argument.

There’s no way, for instance, that Tim DeChristopher would have had to spend two years in jail, because it would have been obvious by the mid-2000s that the oil and gas leases he was blocking were absurd. Crystal Lameman and Melina Laboucan-Massimo and Clayton Thomas-Muller would not have had to spend their whole lives fighting tar sands mining in Alberta because no one would seriously have proposed digging up the dirtiest oil on the North American continent. Students would not have — as we speak — to be occupying administration buildings from Tasmania to Cambridge, because the fossil fuel companies would long since have become energy companies, and divesting from them would not be necessary.

More urgently, rapid development of renewables might well have kept half of Delhi’s children — 2.5 million children — from developing irreversible lung damage.

The rapid spread of decentralised renewable technology might have kept oil and gas barons like the Koch Brothers from becoming, taken together, the richest man on Earth, and purchasing America’s democracy. The Earth’s oceans would be measurably less acidic — and we are, after all, an ocean planet.

Some climate change was unavoidable even by 1988 — that’s about the moment when we were passing what now seems the critical 350 parts per million threshold for atmospheric CO2. And with the best will in the world it would have taken time to slow that trajectory; there’s never been an overnight fix. So we can’t say which of the various droughts and floods and famines might have been avoided. But because we wasted those critical decades, we’re now committed to far more warming than we needed to be — as one scientist after another has shown recently, our momentum has carried to us the point where stopping warming at even the disastrous 2C level may at this point be barely manageable if it’s manageable at all.

Of all the lies that Exxon leaders told about climate change, none may quite top the 1997 insistence that “it is highly unlikely that the temperature in the middle of the next century will be significantly affected whether policies are enacted now or 20 years from now.”

Exxon scientists knew that was wrong, and so did pretty much everyone else. If you could poll all the experts about to descend on Paris for UN climate talks and ask them what technology would be most useful in the fight against climate change, I’m pretty sure they’d say: a time machine that could take us back 20 years and give us those wasted decades.

And if you think it’s just scientists and environmentalists thinking this way, it’s actually almost anyone with a conscience. Here’s how the editorial board of the Dallas Morning News — Exxon’s hometown paper, the morning read of the oil patch— put it in an editorial last week: “With profits to protect, Exxon provided climate-change doubters a bully pulpit they didn’t deserve and gave lawmakers the political cover to delay global action until long after the environmental damage had reached severe levels. That’s the inconvenient truth as we see it.”

Those years weren’t inconvenient for Exxon, of course. Year after year throughout the last two decades they’ve made more money than any company in the history of money. But poor people around the world are already paying for those profits, and every generation that follows us now will pay as well, because the “Exxon position” has helped take us over one tipping point after another. Their sins of emission, like so many other firms and individuals, are bad. But their sins of omission are truly inexcusable.

#Drought news: October 28 #ColoradoRiver streamflow at the #Colorado #Utah line in upper quartile for this time of year

Click here to go to the US Drought Monitor website. Here’s an excerpt:


A slow-moving storm that had first arrived in California on October 15 drifted eastward across the southwestern and south-central U.S., generating heavy showers. Eventually, the storm lifted northward across the Plains, providing beneficial moisture for emerging winter wheat. However, rain mostly bypassed a few areas, including eastern Kansas and north-central Oklahoma. Farther south, the storm’s trailing cold front became infused with tropical moisture from Patricia, the strongest hurricane on record. (On the morning of October 23, several hours prior to crossing the southwestern coast of Mexico, Patricia’s sustained winds peaked at 200 mph and the central barometric pressure plummeted to 25.96 inches, or 879 millibars. When Patricia made landfall later that day near Cuixmala, Mexico, winds were estimated at 165 mph and the central pressure was 27.17 inches, or 920 millibars.) In part due to the influx of tropical moisture, October 22-25 rainfall topped 20 inches at a few locations in northeastern Texas. Storm-total rainfall reached 5 inches or more in a broader area covering much of eastern Texas, as well as portions of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Consequently, areas of the South that had received little rainfall in the last 4 months were suddenly deluged by flooding rains. Significant rain began to overspread parts of the Midwest and Southeast on October 27, after the drought-monitoring period ended, and will be reflected in next week’s U.S. Drought Monitor…

Great Plains

Widespread rain fell from the southern and central High Plains northward into the Dakotas, hampering fieldwork but providing much-needed moisture for emerging winter grains. On October 25, Oklahoma’s winter wheat was rated 22% very poor to poor, while only 31% of the crop was rated good to excellent. A substantial portion of the wheat was also rated very poor to poor in Texas (20%), Colorado (16%), and Kansas (15%). Although many areas of the Plains received rain that should help to revive pastures and promote winter wheat growth, eastern Kansas and north-central Oklahoma remained dry. In those areas, there was some introduction or expansion of dryness (D0) and moderate drought (D1). In Kansas, statewide topsoil moisture was 52% very short to short by October 25. However, topsoil moisture was at least 70% very short to short in central, north-central, and northeastern Kansas…


Precipitation began to wind down as the drought-monitoring period began, although heavy showers lingered in the Southwest. New rain and snow, along with further analysis of last week’s precipitation, led to reductions in the coverage of dryness and drought—some widespread—in the Four Corners States. Despite the recent precipitation, low reservoir levels remain a long-term concern in parts of Arizona and New Mexico. Nevertheless, flows in the upper Colorado River basin have been on the rise in recent weeks. Near the Utah-Colorado state line, the instantaneous streamflow of the Colorado River on October 28 was above 5,100 cubic feet per second, ranking in the upper one-fourth of the historical distribution for this time of year. Meanwhile, a mostly dry week led to “status quo” conditions in the hardest-hit drought areas of the Far West, including California. On October 25, California led the nation in topsoil and subsoil moisture rated very short to short (both 90%). Oregon ranked second in both categories (77% very short or short for topsoil moisture and 87% very short or short for subsoil moisture), and led the U.S. with 66% of its rangeland and pastures rated in very poor to poor condition…

Looking Ahead

During the next 5 days, active weather will continue across much of the nation. As a storm system moves across eastern Canada, rain will end later today in the northeastern U.S. However, a few rain and snow showers may linger in the Great Lakes region. Meanwhile, a parade of Pacific storms will cross the Northwest, where 5-day rainfall totals could reach 5 to 10 inches (or more) west of the Cascades. Significant precipitation (locally 2 to 6 inches) will also reach the northern Rockies. The first of the Pacific storms will dip into the Southwest before tracking eastward. As a result, heavy rain will return to parts of the south-central U.S. and quickly spread eastward. Five-day rainfall totals of 2 to 4 inches can be expected from the southeastern Plains to the southern Appalachians. In contrast, little or no precipitation will occur across the northern Plains and southern California. Elsewhere, mild weather in the western U.S. will be replaced by sharply colder conditions early next week.

The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for November 3 – 7 calls for the likelihood of warmer-than-normal weather across the eastern two-thirds of the U.S., while below-normal temperatures will cover the West. Meanwhile, wetter-than-normal conditions across the majority of the nation will contrast with below-normal precipitation in the Pacific Northwest, the Northeast, and lower Southeast.


Rueter-Hess Water Purification Facility celebrates grand opening in Parker, CO — WaterWorld

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment provided regulatory approval for the first-time use of ceramic membrane filters for a drinking water system in the U.S. (Photo courtesy of Dewberry)
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment provided regulatory approval for the first-time use of ceramic membrane filters for a drinking water system in the U.S. (Photo courtesy of Dewberry)

From WaterWorld:

On Wednesday, Oct. 21, the Rueter-Hess Water Purification Facility (RHWPF) — located in the town of Parker, Colo., southeast of Denver — officially celebrated the grand opening of tours for the facility.

The water treatment plant, which serves a community of approximately 50,000 residents, uses new technologies that have enabled the Parker Water and Sanitation District (PWSD) to convert from rapidly declining groundwater sources to a renewable water supply, including surface water, groundwater, alluvial well water, and reclaimed wastewater.

Designed by Dewberry, the RHWPF is the first plant in the world to incorporate a trio of cutting-edge technologies to meet Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drinking water standards. The process includes three key stages:

A coagulation, flocculation and sedimentation chamber using microsand to enhance particle sedimentation while reducing the chamber’s surface area requirements.

A recirculating powdered activated carbon (PAC) chamber cutting costs by sending used PAC back through the system, increasing the amount of contact time between PAC particles and dissolved organic compounds for a more aggressive and efficient treatment.

The treated water being pumped through ceramic membrane filters to remove remaining particles larger than 0.1 microns in size and any remaining microsand or PAC.

In the first such application in a drinking water system in the U.S., the 600 ceramic membrane modules were specifically chosen for their ability to withstand impacts from the abrasive sand and PAC particles used in upstream processes and then be cleaned back to like-new condition. The ceramic membrane filtration system is anticipated to last much longer than conventional polymeric membranes.

“The ceramic membranes are very durable and can withstand impacts from sand and powdered activated carbon, which is very abrasive,” said Alan Pratt, PE, Dewberry project manager for the design of the RHWPF. “The ceramic membranes can be cleaned back to a new condition, whereas polymeric membranes typically deteriorate over a life of six to 10 years and need to be replaced.”

The completion of the 10-MGD RHWPF (expandable to 40 MGD) is part of a visionary, multi-phase plan for the water district, where district leaders had long recognized groundwater as a diminishing resource within the rapidly developing area. The new network features a 50-CFS pump station that brings surface water from nearby Cherry Creek and Cherry Creek alluvial wells into the 75,000-acre-foot Rueter-Hess Reservoir, completed in 2012.

Water stored in the reservoir flows by gravity into the RHWPF. After moving through the two ballasted sedimentation chambers and the ceramic membrane filters, the disinfected water is pumped into the PWSD’s distribution piping network for use by customers. Wastewater is returned to nearby reclamation facilities and then to Cherry Creek for reuse.

In addition to Dewberry, the project team included Western Summit Constructors, Inc. as the primary contractor, Garney-Weaver for construction management, and Kruger, Inc. for the ballasted sedimentation and ceramic membrane filter technologies. “The ability for us to turn many different water qualities into a high-quality potable water supply has been made possible only with the combined effort of many different companies coming together,” said PWSD District Manager Ron Redd. “Dewberry, Western Summit and Kruger have all worked very hard to make this plant a reality.”

CMU Upper Colorado River Basin Water Forum recap #ElNino

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

The payoff for Colorado from El Niño might take six months to take shape, and could leave ski resorts wishing for some other weather pattern, an expert in the weather pattern said Wednesday.

El Niño — a warming of the waters in the Pacific Ocean frequently tied to strong precipitation over the western Continental United States — already is taking shape and it looks to be a “big boy,” climate researcher Klaus Wolter told the Colorado Mesa University Water Center’s Upper Colorado River Basin Water Forum.

That doesn’t mean Colorado’s ski resorts can simply dispense with snowmaking and wait for the snowy bounty to fall from the skies, though.

Snowpack, in fact, could dip below average come March 1, Wolter said.

If the 2016 version of El Niño is like four of its five predecessors, though, the March 1 to May 1 period could deliver the goods, Wolter said, in the form of high-country snowfall that will regenerate reservoir storage and send runoff down the Colorado River to Lake Powell.

Even though the signals are suggesting a strong El Niño, it’s far from a given that the phenomenon will bring much needed water to a parched Southwest.

“This fall still needs work,” said Wolter, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Earth Systems Research Lab at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Ski resorts have greeted the prospect of a poor winter less than enthusiastically, Wolter said.

Still, “A bad day of skiing in Colorado is better than a good day skiing in Michigan,” Wolter said.

At best, Wolter said, El Niño looks to be a mixed blessing.

Even a low-snow winter will have plenty of cold spells and is likely to reduce the chances of more intrusions of deep Arctic cold air into the United States, like the recent “polar-vortex” phenomenon, Wolter said.

Mid-September 2015 Plume of ENSO predictions via the Climate Prediction Center
Mid-September 2015 Plume of ENSO predictions via the Climate Prediction Center

Republican River Basin: Wells in a tug of war with senior rights

Republican River Basin by District
Republican River Basin by District

From the Republican River Water Conservation District via The Julesburg Advocate:

In an effort to inform well owners of the legal actions taken by the Jim Hutton Educational Foundation, the Board of Directors of the Republican River Water Conservation District voted to provide the following basic information.

In February 2015, the Hutton Foundation sued State Engineer Dick Wolfe and others. The lawsuit makes no claim for relief against individual well owners but if successful the Hutton Foundation would demand the State Engineer force the shut-down of groundwater pumping to supply water for the senior water rights owned by the Hutton Foundation.

On September 30, 2015, the Colorado Water Court ordered the Hutton Foundation to notify well owners that everyone owning groundwater rights in the Northern High Plains Basin will be forced to abide with the final outcome of this lawsuit.

Recently well owners received a legal notice of this lawsuit from the Hutton Foundation. This puts the use of your wells and your legal rights at risk. You must respond if you intend to protect your rights.

The RRWCD received the same legal notice you received. This lawsuit threatens the use of the wells in the Compact Compliance Pipeline wellfield and the ability to stay in compliance with the Republican River Compact.

The RRWCD Board voted to take action to protect these wells. This is likely to be a very complex legal proceeding and will require significant time and effort. It is very important that well owners consider what you should do to protect your rights. There are several options available:

1.) An individual can hire an attorney to represent them.

2.) An individual can contact your local groundwater management district. It may be possible for

3.) Individuals can join into groups and together hire an attorney to represent their group.

4.) Individuals, but not corporations or other entities can proceed without an attorney. If you each groundwater district to ask their legal counsel to represent the well owners as a whole in their district.
proceed on your own, you will be responsible for filing all required paperwork and meet all required deadlines.

You can choose not to respond to this court case. If you choose to participate in this legal action or not your water right will be subject to the decision of the court regarding this lawsuit.

Once you involve yourself in the lawsuit you can’t simply stop participating. To be released from the lawsuit you will be required to receive an order from the Court. It is possible you will have to pay costs after the legal action is finalized if the Hutton Foundation is successful.

Everyone’s situation is different. Please consult with an attorney or other professional to help you decide how to protect your irrigation rights. As stated in the legal notice if you desire to participate, you must file your answer or other response with the Water Court in Greeley within 35 days after the last publication on November 6, 2015. In otherwords your response must be filed no later than December 10, 2015.

A copy of the Complaint filed by the Jim Hutton Educational Foundation in February is available on the RRWCD web site: http://www.republicanriver.com. You can contact the RRWCD office (970) 332-3552 if you have additional questions or concerns but the staff will not provide you with legal advice.

This lawsuit could have devastating effects on the economy of Northeastern Colorado. Irrigation contributes to the viability of every community in the Basin including our schools, hospitals, law enforcement, fire protection, etc. Whether you have irrigated crops or not you will be affected by the outcome of this lawsuit. It is your responsibility to be informed in making your best decision on how to protect your rights.