13 major US companies are pledging $140 billion to fight climate change — Business Insider

arcticoceanecorazzi
Melting Arctic sea ice via Eccorazzi

From Reuters (Valerie Voccovici) via Business Insider:

Google, Apple, Goldman Sachs and 10 other well-known companies joined the White House in launching the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, a campaign that the White House said would inject $140 billion in low-carbon investments into the global economy.

Massive private sector commitments are seen by participants as essential to getting a global agreement on climate change in Paris in December. Emerging nations have demanded that any agreement include tens of billions of dollars in financing from developed nations to help their economies adapt to a low-carbon future.

Although not all the corporate pledges represented new commitments, Monday’s announcement showed the administration’s ability to get private sector buy-in for international climate change financing.

Mindy Lubber, president of environmental investor group Ceres, applauded the announcements but said the White House cannot rely solely on these pledges.

“Voluntary commitments alone will not get us the meaningful reductions we need,” she said. “Strong carbon-reducing policies are hugely important.”

None of the companies involved in Monday’s announcement were from the fossil fuel sector of the economy, though the White House said there could be a second round of pledges in the fall ahead of the Paris conference.

Colorado State University Western Water Symposium recap #COWaterPlan

Flood irrigation in the Arkansas Valley via Greg Hobbs
Flood irrigation in the Arkansas Valley via Greg Hobbs

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Ryan Maye Handy):

The battle between cities and agriculture for water was the theme for a Monday gathering of water experts from around the West who came to Colorado State University for the institution’s first Western Water Symposium. The all day discussions were timely, as Colorado is in the last few months of approving its first statewide water plan, which is due on Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk by early December.

The plan, broken up by basins, seeks to prepare for a future with more Colorado residents and less water. The plan’s default solution is that the water will come from Colorado’s agriculture, said Supreme Court Justice Greg Hobbs, who directed the symposium.

“The Colorado Water Plan, it’s really a plan about agriculture, how do we get water for the cities and not destroy agriculture,” he said. “And we’ve got a short water supply, and the farmers can be on the short stick of this if we don’t look out for their water rights.”

While the experts spent much of Monday discussing the future of water in the Rockies, they also reminisced about how the West got here, with its water needs exceeding its resources.

It began in the mid-19th century, when three acts passed under President Abraham Lincoln, the Homestead, Land Grant College and the Pacific Railway Acts, opened the West for settlement.

But what settlers found was not the water-rich land and easily accessed gold mines depicted in popular maps of the day, said Susan Schulten, a professor of history at University of Denver. Instead, they found a sort of “American desert,” an arid plains landscape that needed water to sustain the kind of livelihoods people were accustomed to on the East Coast.

What followed was more than a century of work, building dams and reservoirs, and legal wrangling that transformed Colorado into a place that had enough water for gold miners, farmers and growing cities along the Front Range.

In the 21st century, agriculture in Colorado spans both sides of the Continental Divide, and most of it relies on water coming from the mountains. About 70 percent of the Colorado River allocations to Colorado go to agriculture, which is about average, said Reagan Waskom, the director of CSU’s Colorado Water Institute.

But water headed to Colorado’s farms isn’t the only share being eyed in the negotiations to bolster Colorado’s dwindling water supply. In 2012, the Bureau of Reclamation completed a study of the Colorado River, which has its head waters in Rocky Mountain National Park and is the lifeline for much of the arid states to the west of Colorado. To help preserve the river, the study suggested that agriculture and urban users cut back on their flows by one million acre feet…

But it was hard to figure out how to take from agriculture, which has been plagued by drought, and expanding urban areas, said Waskom, who sat on the agriculture committee.

“This big report I don’t think really got us to the future,” Waskom added.

The report suggested that much of the reduction in agriculture’s water reserves be done through fallowing, or letting farmers’ fields go dry. But that solution comes at too high a cost for Colorado’s farmers, Waskom said.

“The way you are going to get ag water is by reducing consumptive use,” he said. “How can you reduce it in such a way and that you can get water and not hurt a farming operation? There really aren’t too many ways that you can reduce consumptive use other than fallowing. If you are paid enough for that water when you fallow, maybe you come out ahead and go golfing.”

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.

Environment: Feds extend comment period on controversial Endangered Species Act changes

Originally posted on Summit County Citizens Voice:

sdf Can the Endangered Species Act be improved?

Proposed changes would make it harder for citizen groups to petition for protection

Staff Report

FRISCO — The feds will give the public an extra two months to weigh in on proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act, with a new comment deadline set for mid-September.

In May, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service published draft regulations, saying that the changes are aimed at improving transparency and inclusiveness. The move to freshen up the Endangered Species Act reflects “advances in conservation biology and genetics, as well as recent court decisions interpreting the Act’s provisions.”

View original 776 more words

Out of drought? Not so fast!

Originally posted on Mile High Water Talk:

A federal report says Colorado is no longer in drought, but that doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods from a long-term water supply standpoint.

By Steve Snyder

Woo hoo! The drought is over! Let’s open the tap and let the water flow!

After all, a recent federal report shows that nearly all of Colorado is free from any type of drought designation. We are drought-free for the first time since 2009. It’s time to celebrate, right?

This U.S. Drought Monitor map shows nearly all of Colorado no longer carries a drought designation. This U.S. Drought Monitor map shows nearly all of Colorado no longer carries a drought designation.

If you’ve lived in Colorado for any length of time, you know better. In our semi-arid climate, the next drought is always lurking right around the corner.

“Our customers have truly embraced the concept of water conservation, particularly during droughts,” said Denver Water CEO and Manager Jim Lochhead. “Now it’s about taking that next step to use…

View original 279 more words

Yampa River waters a hot commodity — Steamboat Today #COWaterPlan #ColoradoRiver #COriver

From Steamboat Today (Lauren Blair):

Both legislators and members from the Colorado Water Conservation Board appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper visited Craig on Wednesday to present information on the plan and listen to public input.

Northwest Coloradans have a major stake in the plan, which could allow for the eventual diversion of water from the Yampa River to the Eastern Slope to quench the thirsty lawns of a rapidly growing urban and suburban population.

Several local leaders from the water, agriculture and conservation arenas voiced their opposition to a trans-mountain diversion of Yampa waters.

“The state water plan has probably caused as much angst and apprehension as anything that’s happened in my lifetime,” said Ken Brenner, member of the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District board of directors and also part of a third-generation ranch family in Routt County. “I am opposed to any new trans-mountain diversion. I don’t believe the water supply exists, and we are certainly having enough trouble meeting our compact obligations.”[…]

The Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District board, which includes Brenner and eight other members, issued a letter Wednesday to the CWCB asking for “an equitable apportionment of the native flow within the Yampa,” relative to native flows used by other basins in the state that empty into the Colorado River.

The concern is that, because Colorado is only allowed to use a certain portion of its river flows, and because Northwest Coloradans have junior water rights relative to regions that developed earlier, the state may limit local use of water in the Yampa/White/Green Basin in order to meet its obligations downstream.

State water planners are seeking public comments on the plan through Sept. 17. The legislative Water Resource Review Committee is also currently juggling how to weigh in on the plan. Committee-sponsored bills are due in October, two months prior to the deadline for the final water plan’s completion.

“As legislators, myself included, we feel very strongly that the water plan will only be successful if we have widespread public input,” said Committee Chair, Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, District 6.

Roberts, who is one of a four-person Western Slope majority on the committee, hopes the visit to Craig and other locations will help better inform legislative water policy in the future.

“Getting them over here, driving our roads, seeing our forests and seeing that agriculture really is strong and viable. … They’re not necessarily aware of that if they live in the urban corridor,” Roberts said. “I think part of the value of the water plan … is to make urban dwellers more conscious of the tradeoffs that have occurred and that we live in a high altitude, arid environment.”

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.

CWCB/DNR: July 2015 #Drought Update


From the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Tracy Kosloff):

Following the wettest May since record keeping began in1895, June and July have continued to provide beneficial moisture to the state. For the first time since August 2009, 97% of the state is drought free. As of July 20, the state has received 200% of average in precipitation based on SNOTEL sites. The year-to-date precipitation totals for the state have risen from 80% on May 1 to 97% of average as of July 1.

  • Water year-to-date precipitation at mountain SNOTEL sites statewide, as of July 21, is at 97% of normal. Southwestern Colorado and the Rio Grande Basin, which did not receive as much moisture over the winter, have had a wet spring and early summer. All eight basins have experienced above average precipitation so far in July with the Gunnison basin experiencing 270% of average.
  • June was the 14th warmest June on record (1985-2014) but so far in July, the state has experienced near normal temperatures with a few pockets on the west slope and the Front Range that are two to five degrees below average.
  • All of the CoAgMet sites measuring evapotranspiration (ET) continue to report below average ET and the Olathe and Lucernce stations are reporting record low ET. These stations have been collecting & reporting ET data since the early 1990s.
  • Reservoir Storage statewide is at 112% of average as of July 1st, up five percent from last month. Seven out of eight basins have over 100% of average. The Rio Grande has the lowest value at 89% of average, however, storage has improved since last month when they were at 66% of average. Storage in the Arkansas Basin is the highest since 2000. Between May 1 and July 1, John Martin reservoir, in the Lower Arkansas River basin gained over 250,000 acre feet of additional storage.
  • The NRCS Surface Water Supply Index (SWSI) shows improvements in all but two SWSI values in the Upper Arkansas and South Platte. Several SWSI values in the Southwest basins increased nearly five index points. Only three SWSI values remain below normal, two in the North Platte basin and the other in the Rio Grande.
  • Agriculture officials in attendance reported 131,000 prevented planted acreage due to such wet conditions. The crops that have been planted are expected to do well as soil moisture has greatly improved.
  • The Division of Water Resources announced the completion of the SWSI Automation Project. They will discontinue the 1980’s era SWSI and will begin reporting the automated SWSI, which is similar to the NRCS SWSI, which has been produced since 2011. Additional information is available at: http://water.state.co.us/DWRDocs/Reports/Pages/SWSIReport.aspx
  •  According to water providers in attendance, their respective systems are in good shape as reservoirs are full and customer water demand is low.

    Water bosses: Colorado will have enough water if managed right — Colorado Public Radio #COWaterPlan #ColoradoRiver #COriver

    From Colorado Public Radio (Rachel Estabrook):

    Even in the face of climate change and a growing population, Colorado can have enough water in the future. That’s according to three water managers from around the state. But abundance won’t happen by accident; the state will have to steward the water it has and plan its growth smartly.

    Jim Lochhead, CEO of Denver Water; Eric Hecox, executive director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority; and Eric Kuhn, general manager of the Colorado River District in Glenwood Springs spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner. They talked about the second draft of the state’s first water plan, which is available now. It will be finalized in December…

    Jim Lochhead on the “action plan” included in the water plan’s second draft

    “At this point I would characterize it as a compendium of ideas. It doesn’t set out priorities, it doesn’t set out timelines, it doesn’t set who will do what by when… For example, right now the plan speaks to municipalities saving 400,000 acre feet of water. I think that we need a statewide water efficiency goal that applies across the state, across all sectors. Whether it’s agriculture, industry or municipalities, we all need to be sharing in achieving greater efficiency. Right now it’s simply targeted at municipalities.”

    Eric Kuhn on “the big issue” on the Colorado River

    “Every drop of water today is used. Except for manmade exports of water that was saved in Mexico due to the accident of an earthquake, no water has gotten to the gulf of Baja California since 1999. So, if a city is going to use new water supplies from the Colorado River, somebody else in the Colorado River system is going to use less…

    [But] look at some of the success stories in the Colorado River Basin. Las Vegas is serving 2.1 million today with two thirds of the water that they were using 10 years ago and serving 500,000 or 600,000 people less…

    We have enough water in the system, even if climate change reduces our supplies. But we have to use it in a much smarter way.”

    Eric Hecox on what South Metro communities have done to reduce water use

    “We have historically had an over-reliance on non-renewable groundwater, which is essentially groundwater in wells. Our access to that water supply has been diminishing… for all intents and purposes, they’re drying up.

    “[Out of necessity], our members have reduced collectively in the area water use by about 30 percent… We have two members, that are two of only a few in the state, that put individual customers on water budgets. We have a number of members that are paying current customers to transform their outdoor landscaping. We have members that are really pushing the boundaries of what they can do with new development, and giving significant incentives to new developers to put in place development that uses less water. In addition to that our members, for all intents and purposes, are reusing their supplies.”

    More Colorado Water Plan coverage <a href="