Start-ups Help to Pay Farmers to Sequester Carbon — H2O Radio @H2OTracker #ActOnClimate

Biological carbon sequestration is the long-term storage of carbon in soils and vegetation resulting from applications of compost and mulch to land. Soils hold more carbon than the atmosphere or plant and animal life combined. Climate experts say no strategy to reduce climate change is complete without using the vast carbon sinks available in the world’s soils. Over the centuries, human activities have degraded soil, resulting in the loss of a significant portion of their carbon content to the air. Graphic credit: Cal Recycle

From H2O Radio:

Farmland could capture around 20 percent of the annual emissions of carbon dioxide, but one issue has been how to incentivize farmers to engage in practices like no-till and planting cover crops that sequester the greenhouse gas. Yale Climate Connections reports that some start-up companies are getting into the game, using the sale of carbon offsets to help pay farmers to use sustainable practices.

One company called Indigo Agriculture promised last year that farmers who signed up for its program would receive at least $15 per metric ton of carbon sequestered. The payments are to be financed partly through the sale of offsets, which go for $20 per ton. According to Indigo’s website, as of February 2, growers had committed close to 18 million acres to the program.

Another start-up, Seattle-based Nori, recently launched an online marketplace, connecting anyone who wants to fund sequestration with farmers in a pilot program. According to the company, a recent transaction moved enough carbon credits to pay a Maryland farmer more than $80,000—enough to capture more than 5,000 metric tons.

According to Rattan Lal, a soil expert at Ohio State University, the benefits of carbon-rich soil go beyond climate—it’s also vital for food security, water quality, and biodiversity. Losses of carbon from the soil can be reduced through minimizing soil disturbance, keeping the soil covered, and rotating crops. But, according to Lal, less than 10 percent of cropland is currently farmed this way.

@USBR allocates $120 million to tribal #water projects

Installing pipe along the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project. Photo credit: USBR

Here’s the release from Reclamation (Marlon Duke):

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman initiated the first annual allocation of $120 million from the Reclamation Water Settlements Fund for Indian water rights settlements. The allocation will provide important funding for the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project in northern New Mexico and water projects on the Blackfeet Reservation in northwestern Montana.

“This funding represents an investment in vital water infrastructure for tribal communities,” said Commissioner Burman. “Reclamation remains focused on meeting our Indian water rights settlement commitments and helping to fulfill the Department of the Interior’s Indian trust responsibilities.”

Specific amounts under this allocation include:

Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project – $100 million. The Navajo Gallup Water Supply project is a key element of the Navajo Nation Water Rights Settlement on the San Juan River in New Mexico. Construction of the project is well underway, with the first project water deliveries anticipated before the end of 2020. When fully complete, the project will provide reliable municipal, industrial, and domestic water supplies from the San Juan River to 43 Chapters of the Navajo Nation; the city of Gallup, New Mexico; the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry; and the southwest portion of the Jicarilla Apache Nation Reservation.

Blackfeet Settlement – $20 million. The “Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement Act” authorizes Reclamation to plan, design and construct facilities to supply domestic water and support irrigation—including developing new water infrastructure on the Blackfeet Reservation, located in northwestern Montana. Under the Settlement Act, Reclamation will plan, design and construct the Blackfeet Regional Water System, which at full buildout will serve an estimated 25,000 reservation residents in the communities of Browning, Heart Butte, Babb, East Glacier, and Blackfoot, as well as rural farms and ranches.

Today’s allocation is in accordance with the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-11), which established the Reclamation Water Settlements Fund, detailed how funding is to be deposited into the fund, and described the way the fund is to be expended.

Blackfeet country. Photo credit: Beinecke Library [CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D

@ColoradoClimate: Weekly #Climate, #Water and #Drought Assessment of the Intermountain West

Click here to read the current assessment. Click here to go to the NIDIS website hosted by the Colorado Climate Center. Here’s the summary:

Summary: February 4, 2020

January was dry for a lot of the Intermountain West, with the driest spots showing up over the Front Range Urban Corridor (Colorado Springs up to Cheyenne), southwest Utah, and isolated locations in northern Wyoming. The higher elevations in northern Colorado, northern UT, and western WY were slightly wetter than average. Most of the IMW was warmer than average for January.

February started with very warm temperatures and mild conditions and has quickly transitioned to a more active (i.e. cold and wet) pattern for much of the IMW. This colder and active pattern is expected to continue bringing more storms across the region throughout this week and on the 8-14 day timescale. In the short-term, storms look to favor the northern portions of the IMW, with more southern moisture possible out to 2 weeks.

Standardized precipitation index values (SPIs) are a mixed bag across the region and across time scales. For the Four Corners area, very dry SPIs still show up on the 6-month timescale. In the short-term 30-day timescale, dry SPIs dominated much of Colorado and Utah. However, snowpack throughout the IMW remains in good condition. Evaporative demand shows low values for the Upper Colorado River Basin (representing wind, humidity, and temperature conditions), but does show some high anomalies that could be stressing vegetation on the eastern plains of Colorado and New Mexico.

@CPW_NE: “From the boat ramp we counted 116 (53 adults, 63 immatures) in a 5-minute scan,” [for #BaldEagles at Barr Lake]

Arkansas Valley Conduit gains federal funding — Southeastern #Colorado Water Conservancy District

Arkansas Valley Conduit Comanche North route via Reclamation

Here’s the release from Southeastern (Chris Woodka):

The Arkansas Valley Conduit received $28 million in federal funding to finish design and begin construction of the long-awaited pipeline.

“We are very grateful and thankful for the work of Senator Gardner and our delegation in securing this funding,” said Bill Long, president of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, sponsor of the AVC. “This amount of money is a real milestone in the history of the project.”

[…]

“I think this is a wonderful example of bi-partisan support and partnership of federal, state and local officials that is needed to secure a safe drinking water supply, not only for the people of Southeastern Colorado, but for every rural American,” Long said…

The AVC is seen by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment as the best remedy for high levels of naturally occurring radioactive materials in drinking water for about 15 of the water providers. Other communities are also facing issues of expensive treatment for other sorts of contamination.

The $28 million is the first step in a $600 million project to provide clean drinking water from Pueblo Dam through a 130-pipeline to Lamar and Eads. The Colorado Water Conservation Board approved a $100 million finance package for AVC in November. State legislative approval is needed to finalize the availability of those funds.

The Bureau of Reclamation and Department of Interior worked with other cabinet-level agencies in the past two months as part of an initiative to find efficiencies in construction of water projects.

The AVC will provide clean drinking water to about 50,000 people in 40 communities east of Pueblo.

The AVC was first authorized as part of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project in 1962 as a way to provide supplemental water to communities east of Pueblo. It was never built because of the cost to local water systems.

In 2009, federal legislation made revenues from the Fry-Ark Project available for construction and repayment of the AVC. A 2014 Record of Decision by the Bureau of Reclamation determined the AVC was the best solution for water quality and supply problems in the Lower Arkansas Valley.

Reclamation has worked with the Southeastern District for the past three years in planning efforts to reduce costs and the time needed to reach water systems east of Pueblo.

Pueblo Dam. Photo credit: Dsdugan [CC0] via Wikimedia Commons

From Senator Bennet’s office:

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today released the following statement applauding news that the Arkansas Valley Conduit will receive $28 million of Bureau of Reclamation funding to begin construction on the water diversion and storage project in the lower Arkansas Valley, which would bring clean drinking water to an estimated 50,000 Coloradans:

“For more than five decades, Coloradans in the southeastern corner of our state have been waiting for the federal government to fulfill its promise to deliver clean drinking water to their communities. Since I came to the Senate, we’ve worked together to pursue any and every avenue possible to ensure we fulfill that promise and build the Arkansas Valley Conduit,” said Bennet. “I’m thrilled this project is one step closer to breaking ground and ensuring that families in southeastern Colorado have access to a safe water supply.”

The Arkansas Valley Conduit is the final component of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, a water diversion and storage project in the lower Arkansas Valley. Once constructed, the Conduit will deliver clean drinking water to families and municipalities throughout Southeastern Colorado.

In 2009:

  • Congress passed legislation by Bennet and former U.S. Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.) to authorize the construction of the Arkansas Valley Conduit.
  • Bennet worked to secure $5 million in funding to begin construction on the Conduit as part of the Energy and Water Appropriations Conference Report.

    In 2013:

  • Bennet and his colleagues sent a letter to the Bureau of Reclamation to quickly approve the Conduit’s Environmental Impact Study (EIS) in order to expedite the project’s completion.
  • In 2014:

  • Following Bennet and Udall’s efforts to urge the Bureau of Reclamation to quickly approve the Conduit’s EIS, the Record of Decision was signed in February.
  • After the President’s budget included an insufficient level of funding for the project, Bennet led a bipartisan letter urging the administration and the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to allow the Conduit’s construction to move ahead as planned.
  • Bennet successfully urged the Department of Interior to designate $2 million in reprogrammed funding from Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 for the Conduit.
  • Bennet secured language in the FY 2015 Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act that sent a clear signal to the Bureau of Reclamation that the Conduit should be a priority project.
  • In 2016:

  • Bennet secured $2 million from the Bureau of Reclamation’s reprogrammed funding for FY 2016.
  • Bennet secured $3 million for the Conduit as part of the FY 2017 Energy & Water Appropriations bill.
  • In 2017:

    Bennet secured $3 million for the Conduit for FY 2017.
    In 2019:

  • In April, Bennet and Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) wrote to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein, urging them to prioritize funding for the Conduit.
  • Bennet, Gardner, Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO-3), and Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO-4) wrote to the Department of the Interior urging the Department to support the project.
  • Bennet secured approximately $10 million for the Conduit in the December 2019 spending bills for Fiscal Year 2020.
  • From The Pueblo Chieftain (Anthony A. Mestas):

    The Arkansas Valley Conduit, a 130-mile water pipeline that would serve as many as 40 communities and 50,000 people east of Pueblo, is receiving a major financial boost to begin construction, decades after the project was authorized by the U.S. Congress…

    The funding will come from the Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation’s Fiscal Year 2020 work plan.

    John F. Kennedy at Commemoration of Fryingpan Arkansas Project in Pueblo, circa 1962.

    Getches-Wilkonson Center: 7th Annual Clyde O. Martz Winter Symposium — A #GreenNewDeal for #PublicLands?, February 28, 2020

    Click here for all the inside skinny:

    Symposium Introduction

    For the 7th Annual Martz Winter Symposium we are joined by legal scholars, political appointees, and practitioners across a range of specialties to address the new legal challenges facing public lands law. Managing public lands for a diverse population, impacts on local communities, recreational disputes, and potential litigation all have broad practical import for policymakers, litigators, the outdoor recreation industry, and those who enjoy our public lands.

    The Getches-Wilkinson Center is hosting the 2020 Martz Winter Symposium in collaboration with the Colorado Law Review and the Colorado Natural Resources, Energy & Environmental Law Review. It is our hope that these dialogues and the forthcoming law review articles will generate solutions that can be implemented by practitioners on the ground and will inform future lawyers entering the field.