In historic ruling, Dutch court orders nation to cut emissions — Axios #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

Scales of Justice

From Axios (Amy Harder):

The Supreme Court in the Netherlands on Friday ordered the government there to cut national greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by the end of 2020.

Why it matters: This is the first time the courts have ever forced a country to address climate change and could set a precedent for courts in other nations, including the United States, in the absence of other action.

What they’re saying: Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, per The New York Times said: “There have been 1,442 climate lawsuits around the world. This is the strongest decision ever. The Dutch Supreme Court upheld the first court order anywhere directing a country to slash its greenhouse gas emissions.”

One level deeper: The ruling was a success for environmental group Urgenda, “which filed the lawsuit in 2013 against the Dutch government with nearly 900 co-plaintiffs,” NYT reports.

#PlatteRiver Recovery Implementation Program funding included in funding bill

Platte River Recomery Implemtation Program area map.

From The Sterling Journal-Advocate (Jeff Rice):

The people of Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska got an early Christmas present from the U.S. Senate on Thursday, and it has Don Ament breathing a sigh of relief.

Ament has said he was delighted to hear that the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan bill Thursday to extend the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program as part of the year-end spending package. The bill was introduced by Colorado Senators Michael Bennet (D) and Cory Gardner (R). The bill was passed by the House of Representatives earlier this week and will now go to the president’s desk to be signed into law…

The first increment of the program is set to expire on at the end of this year; Senate Bill 990 extends the program by an additional 13 years. PRRIP is a cooperative agreement among the governors of Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, and the Secretary of the Interior to achieve Endangered Species Act compliance on the Platte River.

Ament, who represents Colorado’s governor on the four-entity board that oversees the program, has been concerned since April about whether PRRIP would be extended. That’s when Bennet and Gardner, along with U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), introduced the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program Extension Act.

Since then, however, Washington, D.C., has been somewhat distracted by political conflict between Republicans and Democrats, making any kind of bipartisanship seem to be impossible. That has had Ament concerned that funding for the program would lapse after Dec. 31, leaving the program’s future in doubt…

In addition to addressing protections under the federal Endangered Species Act, PRRIP has allowed the three states and the Department of Interior to avoid lengthy and expensive litigation involving the Endangered Species Act. According to a statement released by the U.S. Interior Department, “The program has provided a level of certainty to water users in the Platte River drainage that litigation would not have afforded.”

#ColoradoRiver Water Users Association Annual Conference recap #CRWUA2019 #COriver #DCP

Intake towers for power generation at Hoover Dam.

From UPI (Jean Lotus):

At a meeting of the Colorado River Water Users Association in Las Vegas last week, federal officials accepted a drought contingency plan crafted this summer that will jump start voluntary conservation efforts by states and Mexico in the lower Colorado River basin beginning Jan. 1.

Colorado River from Lee’s Ferry. Photo credit. Gonzo fan2007 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3631180

Nevada, Arizona and Mexico, which all drain water below Lee’s Ferry, in Marble Canyon, Ariz., have agreed to pull back water use. For the first time, California, which has a prior water right by law, has agreed to curtail water use if Lake Mead’s elevation drops significantly further…

U.S. Secretary of the Interior David [Bernhardt] told state water managers that the federal water reclamation bureau will immediately begin its review of the official river water apportionment plan, instead of waiting until the end of 2020…

Water professionals in the Colorado River watershed got scared in 2002, the driest year in recorded history, when the river trickled to 25 percent of its usual flow, said John Entsminger, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

By 2005, river water users faced a new drought reality and states squabbled and threatened to sue each other.

“That’s when [Interior Secretary] Gail Norton laid down the gauntlet,” Entsminger said. Federal regulators stepped in and offered to come up with water-shortage guidelines.

Since then, states have tried to work together.

Lower-basin cities have ramped up water conservation efforts. For example, Las Vegas pays residents $3 per square foot to replace grass lawns with water-friendly landscaping.

“Our population has increased by 46 percent — more than 700,000 people have moved here — but our water consumption has decreased by about 25 percent during the same time period,” said Bronson Mack, a Southern Nevada Water Authority spokesperson.

Southern California cities also have drastically cut water use, drawing less from Lake Mead than ever before.

But the river flow problem won’t disappear from conservation because 80 percent of Colorado River water is used in agriculture and industry, Entsminger said. Agriculture, even with water conservation practices, uses about 2.5 times as much water as the same land developed for residential use.

Colorado River Basin. Map credit: The Water Education Foundation

Estimate of Proposition DD revenues in fiscal 2020-21 = $1.5 – $1.7 million #COWaterPlan

Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

From The Colorado Sun (Jesse Paul):

When Colorado voters OK’d Proposition DD last month, they were told sports betting would deliver millions in tax revenue toward solving the state’s water problems.

But a new analysis from the Polis administration shows that likely won’t happen in the first full year of wagering.

The Division of Gaming expects sports betting, which starts in Colorado in May, to generate between $1.5 million and $1.7 million in tax revenue in the 2020-21 fiscal year, which begins on July 1. That amount isn’t enough to reach the threshold under which funds would be transferred to water projects.

The projection is wildly different from what state lawmakers anticipated when they put the measure on the November ballot. In fact, it’s about the same amount the Colorado General Assembly’s fiscal analysts projected would be generated in the first two months of sports betting.

The annual revenue expectation also is far less than the $16 million in tax revenue that legislative analysts forecast would be collected each year for the first five years of sports betting in Colorado. The state is authorized to collect up to $29 million in sports betting tax revenue annually under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights…

The Division of Gaming’s estimates were presented Thursday to the Joint Budget Committee as it prepared to draft the $30 billion-plus spending plan for the coming fiscal year. And members of the panel expressed concern…

It’s likely that enough tax revenue will be generated in future years to go toward the water plan, but how much water managers can expect appears lower overall given the latest projections by the gaming division. Proponents of sports betting are bullish that tax revenue figures will rise once the industry matures in Colorado, though they admit initial estimates were likely too high.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Revenue, which oversees the Division of Gaming, noted “that all of these numbers are still projections.” She added that the department has been consistently conservative in its assumptions about sports betting revenue when speaking with lawmakers and legislative analysts…

One reason revenue projections are lower: The gaming division doesn’t believe the state’s casinos, which will operate sports betting, will be willing to pay the $125,000 per license — which would have to be renewed every two years — to offer wagering as originally projected. Instead, gaming officials think that the most they could reasonably charge for a license fee would be $40,000 and possibly much less, according to a memo presented to the JBC on Thursday.

Because the cost to implement sports betting is expected to exceed the tax revenue generated in the first months, it could actually end up costing taxpayers money.

If that deficit were to happen, the Joint Budget Committee would likely ask the Department of Revenue to dig into its pockets to cover the difference. The funds could, however, ultimately have to come out of the legislature’s discretionary fund, which goes toward paying for things like transportation and education…

The division’s revenue estimates came after the agency gathered 75 people representing gambling companies and operators from around the world to help create its rules around sports betting. The agency also visited other states where sports betting has been legalized, like New Jersey, to better understand how to implement the wagering in Colorado and what to expect.