Amy Beatie for #Colorado House District 4

I’ve already cast my ballot for Amy Beatie, won’t you join me? The Colorado General Assembly will be well-served with a water attorney who knows how to work within the legal system and find environmental benefits. If you live on the Northside please cast your primary vote for Amy. If you know folks that live up here please let them know how important it is to vote for her.

Click here to go to the website.

Endorsement: Amy Beatie for Colorado House District 4

I’m excited to endorse Amy, she has been a tireless champion for Colorado in her role at the Water Trust. Here’s the press release from Amy’s campaign:

Amy Beatie, Executive Director of the Colorado Water Trust since 2007, announces her endorsement by statewide and local leaders in the Democratic primary for State Representative in Denver’s House District 4. The endorsements come from Ruth Wright, second woman ever in Colorado to become the House Minority Leader, a role that she held from 1986-1992; Gail Schwartz, former State Senator from Crested Butte; and Jeni JAMES Arndt, current State Representative from Fort Collins.

Although she had been considering running for public office for some time, Beatie’s campaign began to truly take shape after her graduation from the Emerge triaining program of 2016, a program that trains progressive women to run for office. “Seasoned leadership matters now more than ever. I have dedicated my career to public service and working tirelessly for Colorado’s environment, but for years I had been feeling such a strong push to do more. I want to be part of helping create a cohesive, progressive, and strategic Democratic party in this state. This incredible northside community also wants someone who will improve our education system, our healthcare system, and our environment. Having been in leadership for most of my career, I’ll be ready to hit the ground running on day one.”

Sen. Schwartz endorsed Beatie saying that, “Amy has dedicated her career to the preservation of Colorado’s natural resources and public service to the people of Colorado. She has distinguished herself as the leader of one of Colorado’s most effective conservation organizations for over a decade. As a former State Senator, I know that Amy’s proven ability to work with diverse interests and communities, along with a deep background on statewide issues, will make her an excellent representative.”

Beatie successfully guided the Colorado Water Trust over the last decade to return over 7 billion gallons of water to over 375 miles of rivers and streams in the State of Colorado and Jeni Arndt, State Representative from Fort Collins, was impressed with Beatie’s knowledge of the state’s water issues. “Effectively managing our state’s water is critical to our shared future. Amy has been a leader on water conservation in Colorado for a decade and having her knowledge and experience in the legislature would be an invaluable contribution to our state’s efforts to plan for one of the most valuable resources in our state.”

Ruth Wright, second woman ever to become the House Minority Leader, a role that she held from 1986-1992, and former board member at the Colorado Water Trust spoke glowingly of Beatie’s ability to lead. “Amy has taken the Trust from an organization on the brink of closing and turned it into one of the most successful environmental organizations in the state. Amy infused the Trust with her vision and passion and I can see that same vision and passion in her run for the state house.”

Please vote for the environment in the #Colorado primary election #ActOnClimate

Left: Fossil fuel emissions 1850 to 2010 and since 2000. Right: Amount of fossil fuel emissions to keep warming under 2 C, vs. potential emissions from proven reserves. Fossil fuel companies know that they cannot compete with renewable energy v. cost. The competitive cost advantage will be advanced if the fossil fuel companies are compelled to pay a cost for their pollution.

From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Nick Coltrain):

Democrats

Cary Kennedy: Will “guarantee” all Colorado homes and businesses can choose 100 percent renewable energy and double the state renewable energy standard, which currently requires cooperative utilities to generate 20 percent of their electricity from renewables.

Jared Polis: Pledges to protect public lands from “Donald Trump and polluters.” Will create path to 100 percent renewable energy as way to protect the environment and create “good-paying green jobs that can’t be outsourced.” Says 100 percent renewable energy is achievable “by 2040 or sooner” (Colorado Independent).

Donna Lynne: Advocates for a “‘no slogans’ balanced approach to energy production” that includes local control on where and how energy production happens, property rights, and people who work in extraction industries. Says “health and safety of all Coloradans is our top priority when we are dealing with energy and the environment.”

Mike Johnston: Launched his campaign with the 100 percent renewable energy by 2040 pledge. Wants to increase setbacks for oil and gas wells, cap orphan wells and “avoid drilling in ecologically sensitive areas.”

Republicans

Walker Stapleton: Calls for a “stable business environment to ensure a low-cost energy supply that will attract and retain businesses in Colorado.” Says he won’t pursue “agenda-driven, burdensome, job-killing regulations.” Wants better state-federal communication on how federal lands are managed. Says he is running because he fears a Democratic governor would “end the energy industry” in Colorado (Colorado Independent).

Greg Lopez: Argues that the state coal industry “has been unfairly treated by bureaucrats” from out of state and reminds people that coal-fired plants are likely what’s charging their electric cars. Does not think 100 percent renewable energy is feasibly by 2040 and says diversification “remains the most prudent approach” to energy. (Colorado Independent)

Doug Robinson: Says the oil and gas industry “plays a vital role” in the state and can balance environmental protections “by supporting common sense regulations.” Supports all-of-the-above energy strategy and says “it is not the role of government to pick winners and losers,” in reference to a push for 100 percent renewable energy by 2040 (Colorado Independent).

Victor Mitchell: Says climate change “is likely real” and that the federal government should launch “moonshot” initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Says government also should not choose “winners and losers,” either with subsidies or “excessive” taxes and regulations. Notes fossil fuels are currently most reliable and least expensive energy, but it could be different tomorrow. Calls preserving the environment, air quality and water supply “paramount to our future and quality of life.”

Please vote the environment in the primary election

River shimmer, on the Yampa River. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

If you are concerned with the lack of action on the environment make sure to put Mother Nature at the top of your list of issues in the primary election.

#Colorado Primary #election June 26, 2018 #ActOnClimate

Mail-in ballots for the Colorado primary election are in the mail. (Mine arrived yesterday.) Please consider moving the environment to the top of the list of issues when you vote.

Fact: The Western U.S. is drying out and the more arid environment is exacerbating wildfires.

Fact: Action is required now to reduce global warming in the decades ahead.

From CIRES:

CIRES-led team uncovers series of wildfire triggers that culminated in the big burn of 2017

Western wildfire seasons are worse when it’s dry and fuel-rich, and the chances of ignition are high—and all three factors were pushed to their limits last year, triggering one of the largest and costliest U.S. wildfire seasons in recent decades, according to a new paper. Climate change likely helped exacerbate fuels and dryness, the paper found, and people’s behavior contributed the sparks.

“Last year we saw a pile on of extreme events across large portions of the western U.S., the wettest winter, the hottest summer, and the driest fall—all helping to promote wildfires,” said Jennifer Balch, director of CIRES/CU Boulder’s Earth Lab and lead author on the study published today in Fire with INSTAAR, Columbia University, and University of Idaho coauthors.

The 2017 wildfire season cost the United States more than $18 billion in damages. That year, 71,000 wildfires scorched 10 million acres of land—destroying 12,000 homes, evacuating 200,000 people and claiming 66 lives. For comparison, 2016 saw only 5.4 million acres burned.

The research team sought to pinpoint the precursors that led to these fires, to support decision makers considering policies that might prevent or minimize future fire disasters. The study found that the three major “switches” affecting fire—fuel, aridity, and ignition—were either flipped on or kept on longer than expected last year.

It started with a wet winter. Increased precipitation early in 2017 fed the growth of fine grasses across the western United States—grasses that would later serve as fuel for fire. Summer and fall then swept in a wave of dry, arid conditions, baking the dense fields of grasses into dehydrated kindling.

With the fuel growth and aridity switches flipped on, the scene was set for the third switch: ignition. Nearly 90 percent of total wildfires last year were caused by people; previous work by Balch and her team has illuminated just how extensively humans exacerbate wildfire. Human activity triples the length of the average fire season.

Computer climate models project an increased risk of extreme wet winters in California, the paper notes, and a decrease in summer precipitation across the entire West Coast. Those models also tend to project a delay in the onset of fall rain and snow.

“We expect to see more fire seasons like we saw last year, and thus it is becoming increasingly critical that we strengthen our wildfire prediction and warning systems, support suppression and recovery efforts, and develop sustained policies that help us coexist with fire,” said Megan Cattau, Earth Lab researcher and a coauthor on the study.

Although naturally occurring climate variability influences environmental conditions that affect the wildfire season, that variation is superimposed on an anthropogenically warmer world, so climate change is magnifying the effects of heat and precipitation extremes, Balch says.

The authors conclude by noting many ways that policy makers have already taken action to build better and burn better in the face of increasingly flammable landscapes; and they urge continued attention to policies that address the challenge of wildfire.

“The 2018 wildfire season is already underway and here at home in the southern Rockies fuels are very dry,” said Balch. “It is forecasted that June will be a busy month in terms of wildfires due to severe drought and low snowpack.”

#Colorado Primary #election June 26, 2018 #ActOnClimate

Leaf, Berthoud Pass Summint, August 21, 2017.

Mail-in ballots are in the mail for Colorado’s primary election.

Fact: To combat climate change humankind must end the burning of fossil fuels.

Fact: The means to replace fossil fuels are at hand, economic and effective.

Please consider voting for candidates that put the environment at the top or near the top of their list of issues. You can find their positions on the environment and in particular climate change on their websites.

To view the election calendar click here.

Here’s a look at the U.S. Climate Alliance from USA Today (Jerry Brown, Andrew Cuomo and Jay Inslee):

The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change was a landmark moment in human history. It crystallized decades of negotiations into a framework embraced by every country in the world to confront the existential threat of climate change and work together to solve the challenge.

President Trump’s announcement exactly one year ago that he intended to withdraw from the Paris Agreement raised global concerns that the agreement could weaken or unravel. Instead, Trump’s retreat has catalyzed leaders in America and around the world to stand shoulder to shoulder and press forward with climate solutions.

June 1 is not the anniversary of an end to one of the world’s greatest acts of consensus; it is a celebration of what Americans have done to fill the federal void. On the same day Trump abdicated climate leadership last year, we formed the U.S. Climate Alliance to uphold the Paris Agreement commitment in our states. In just one year, the alliance has grown into a bipartisan coalition of 17 governors representing 40% of the U.S. population and a $9 trillion economy — larger than that of every country in the world but the U.S. and China.

President Trump’s announcement last year centered on his allegation that the Paris Agreement hurts the U.S. economy. The fact that our collective economies are stronger than non-alliance states proves just the opposite. Alliance states are not only reducing emissions more rapidly than the rest of the country, but we are also expanding our per capita economic output twice as fast. Alliance states are attracting billions of dollars in climate and clean energy investments that have created 1.3 million clean energy jobs. The Alliance states are not alone: meeting the most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement is projected to save the world $30 trillion in avoided economic damages.

While the Paris Agreement is one of the greatest tests in global collaboration, this interstate effort stands as one of the biggest and most important experiments in American policymaking. From modernizing power grids to scaling up renewable energy and reducing pollution, we are saving money and cleaning our air.

We will do everything in our power to defend and continue our climate actions. This includes continuing to oppose any federal proposal to cancel the Clean Power Plan, weaken clean car and appliance standards or expand offshore drilling. One year after President Trump’s abdication, the rapid economic growth of states within the U.S. Climate Alliance remain a beacon to all Americans and to every other nation that Americans are still in the Paris Agreement and will not retreat.

Despite President Trump’s Paris Agreement decision, the world continues to move forward and not backward on climate. One year after the president’s announcement, every other nation on earth has signed onto the Paris Agreement. China canceled plans for more than 100 coal-fired power plants in 2017, offshore wind energy is competing without subsidy in northern Europe, and several countries are making plans to shift cars from gas and diesel to electric, including China, France, India, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom.

We will work in lockstep with the nations of the world and continue our work to uphold the Paris Agreement. However, it is clear that we cannot meet the climate challenge alone. We need commitment from every U.S. state and we need the federal government to get back in the game. We invite others to join us and mark June 1 not as an anniversary of retreat, but as the moment when a bold, new movement of climate action took root in America.

Democratic Govs. Jerry Brown of California, Andrew Cuomo of New York and Jay Inslee of Washington are co-chairs of the U.S. Climate Alliance. Follow them on Twitter: @JerryBrownGov, @NYGovCuomo and @GovInslee.

Sterling voters will likely be asked to decide bonding for wastewater infrastructure in November

Wastewater Treatment Process

From The Sterling Journal-Advocate (Sara Waite):

The problems faced by the wastewater system have become more urgent, as the city is now non-compliant with its existing discharge permit. Failure to move forward with upgrades could result in stiff penalties from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, to the tune of $10,000 a day assessed from the first date of the violation last November.

The Sterling City Council has long known about deficiencies in the system; two years ago, Rob Demis of engineering firm Mott MacDonald gave a preliminary overview of some of the problems presented by the aging infrastructure. In short, the system suffers from flooding and leakage issues, and also is incapable of meeting new environmental standards…

According to Demis, the system lacks the capacity to handle heavy rainfall events or river flooding, and also suffers from leaks at multiple points that allow groundwater to seep into the wastewater stream. That excess water damages equipment, overloads the system and can lead to costly permit violations, as well as disrupting the biological process that breaks down the organic material in the water.

The system also is incapable of meeting its existing compliance schedules or new regulations that are slated to be implemented by 2022. It suffers from a lack of redundancy, leaving the city vulnerable to failures that would be “catastrophic,” Demis said, and also uses obsolete and dangerous equipment and processes.

Demis explained that much of the system has reached, or exceeded, its useful life and the problems the city is facing will only get worse over time. As an example, he said the four clarifiers that are in place had been banned by the time they were installed in 1995, begging the question of how Sterling ended up with them in the first place, and one of the tanks has failed and can’t be used.

As part of the presentation, Demis went over the estimated costs, 80 percent of which was for construction and the other 20 percent for legal, administrative, engineering, permitting and other costs associated with such a project. The cost of installing a new force main and improvements to the treatment system itself make up about half of the $31 million price tag.

Demis also spoke about possible funding sources. Grants are not reliable, he said; they looked at six possible grant sources and one they identified as a possibility has not received the expected funding because of low oil prices. A review of potential loan sources showed that the State Revolving Fund would provide a lower total cost in the long run versus private loans, because of the reduced interest rate. Either way, the city charter requires voter approval for taking on debt.

The city’s existing sewer rates have not kept up with the rate of inflation, Demis said. Using simple math, he estimated that residential sewer users’ rates would increase by $23, but noted that the city would have to complete a rate study to look at the more complex issues involved in determining the revenue necessary to make the recommended improvements, operate the system and invest in other needed infrastructure. The council is awaiting a report on such a rate study that was funded in the city budget last year.

During his October 2016 presentation, Demis gave credit to the operators at the wastewater treatment plant, saying they were “willing to make their job a little bit harder to try to find the value for the city” by reusing existing equipment and infrastructure where possible. He estimated that the cost to completely start over with a new wastewater system would be between $45 and 50 million. “We think there’s very good value for the city of Sterling there.”

Sterling residents for the past two years have seen increases on both water and wastewater services in an attempt to build up the enterprise funds and address infrastructure needs. According to City Manager Don Saling, the rate hikes were intended to narrow the gap between where rates were and where they’ll need to be, pending the outcome of the rate study. One big change he expects to see from the study is a recommendation to base sewer rates on usage; the rate would be calculated from water usage in cooler months, when users are not watering outdoors. A variable rate would be more equitable — a family of four would presumably pay more than a single retiree on a fixed income — and could also encourage water conservation to lower both water and sewer bills.