27 Feb 2009, 9:42pm
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Schwarzenegger declares Calif. drought emergency

By SAMANTHA YOUNG, Feb 27, 2009 [here]

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency Friday because of three years of below-average rain and snowfall in California, a step that urges urban water agencies to reduce water use by 20 percent.

“This drought is having a devastating impact on our people, our communities, our economy and our environment, making today’s action absolutely necessary,” the Republican governor said in his statement.

Mandatory rationing is an option if the declaration and other measures are insufficient.

The drought has forced farmers to fallow their fields, put thousands of agricultural workers out of work and led to conservation measures in cities throughout the state.

State agencies must now provide assistance for affected communities and businesses and the Department of Water Resources must protect supplies, all accompanied by a statewide conservation campaign. … [more]

Note: see also Dehydrating California, Or What’s That Smelt? [here]

26 Feb 2009, 4:54pm
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Committee guts Gregoire’s emissions-cap plan

By Phuong Le, Seattle Times, Feb 24, 2009 [here]

Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proposal to regulate the emission of greenhouse gases linked to global warming is facing serious challenges in the Legislature.

The Senate Committee on Environment, Water and Energy today passed a version that gutted the heart of the plan by making it voluntary for businesses to participate.

The governor’s proposal would require major industries, from Boeing to Kimberly-Clark, to limit the greenhouse gases they emit, starting in 2012. The plan would create a regional market to let polluters buy and trade pollution credits.

The goal is to reduce overall carbon dioxide and other emissions in the state to 1990 levels by 2020, and to half that level by 2050. The state adopted those targets in 2008.

The Senate bill is significantly different from the governor’s plan. It asks the state Department of Ecology to design voluntary emission targets and a voluntary emissions reduction registry and report back to the Legislature.

“It’s a work in progress,” Ecology Director Jay Manning said Tuesday, adding he was pleased the legislation was still alive. He said the state would work with the Legislature to find a proposal both could support. …

Businesses have fiercely opposed Gregoire’s plan, saying it would put them at a disadvantage in an already slumping economy. …[more]

26 Feb 2009, 4:52pm
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Bill urging exit from climate initiative passes

KSL.com, February 24th, 2009 [here]

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — State lawmakers on Tuesday advanced a resolution that calls on Gov. Jon Huntsman to get Utah out of the Western Climate Initiative, a coalition formed to roll back greenhouse-gas emissions.

House Resolution 3, sponsored by Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, passed the Utah House 51-9. The resolution is nonbinding, but sends Huntsman a message.

WCI seeks to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 15 percent by 2020. Six western states and three Canadian provinces are members of WCI.

Noel says he doesn’t believe global warming is human-caused. He says that capping emissions will hurt Utah’s coal-fired power plants and the overall state economy.

The bill now goes to the Utah Senate.

Huntsman spokeswoman Lisa Roskelley says WCI gives Utah a seat at the table during important discussions of issues that could affect the state’s future.

26 Feb 2009, 12:46am
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Cap-and-Trade vs. Carbon Tax: CO2 Crowd Breaking Ranks with President?

The Heritage Foundation, February 25th, 2009 [here]

In last night’s speech, President Obama remarked, “So I ask this Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America.”

Today the House Committee on Ways and Means held a hearing on the scientific objectives for climate change legislation, but according to a reliable source, the hearing evolved into a debate amongst Democrats arguing on the merit of a carbon tax versus a cap-and-trade.

Several members of the committee raised concerns over a cap-and-trade program and questioned whether a direct carbon tax may be the better option.

Disagreement among Congressional advocates for CO2 legislation could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back when it comes to regulating carbon dioxide. It will be difficult for any bill labeled a carbon tax in a recessionary environment. Despite a cap-and-trade scheme essentially acting as a tax in disguise, a number of Democrats are beginning to point out the same flaws we’ve been pointing out for years. Cap-and-trade is costly, inefficient and unpredictable. Europe’s current carbon trading debacle is perfect evidence.

Heritage Senior Policy Analyst Ben Lieberman emphasizes that a cap-and-trade program is nothing more than a regressive tax that will raise prices and cost Americans jobs – all for little, if any, environmental gain.

If the legislators calling for carbon cuts are beginning to call a cap-and-trade what it really is, a less predictable version of a carbon tax, there is plenty of hope Americans won’t stand for it.

26 Feb 2009, 12:33am
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Report estimates revenue loss from Idaho wolves

Idaho Statesman, 02/20/09 [here]

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho could be losing as much as $24 million annually in hunting-related revenue due to wolves killing deer and elk, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game says.

The report relies heavily on a 1994 environmental impact statement related to the introduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park, and then extrapolates those numbers.

“This is a projection,” said Lance Hebdon, intergovernmental policy coordinator with Fish and Game. “Is it realistic to think we would have more elk hunters if we had more elk in some units? I think that is a reasonable assumption.”

The report released earlier this week was requested by Sen. Gary Schroeder, R-Moscow, who earlier this month sponsored a bill - approved 31-1 in the Senate - to give the state’s wolves to the rest of the country.

“I think this at least gives us some data with some science behind it,” Schroeder, chairman of the Senate Resources and Environment Committee, told the Lewiston Tribune about the report. “The question is, as wolf numbers increase, are we going to have to curtail hunting opportunities? Overall, I like seeing economic activity, because it drives tax revenue. Anytime I see something that drives business away, that’s important to me.” … [more]

26 Feb 2009, 12:31am
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Democrats Put Global Warming Rider In Spending Bill

By Jim Meyers, Newsmax.com, February 25, 2009 [here]

Congressional Democrats have inserted a “dangerous” rider into an appropriations bill that would allow the Department of Interior to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., according to a release from Republicans on the House Committee on Natural Resources.

The rider to the Fiscal Year 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill, Section 429, enables the Interior Department to withdraw two Endangered Species Act rules within 60 days of enactment.

“This would allow the Obama Administration to change rules without any public notice or public comment period, and threatens efforts to create new jobs in an already strapped economy,” the release states. …

“If the rules are withdrawn, then any project that increases carbon dioxide or any greenhouse gas emissions could have to consult with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on mitigation against the potential impacts on global warming and harming of the polar bear, or else face potential lawsuits,” the committee’s statement asserts.

“The threat posed to job creation and our economy would not only impact energy production, but agricultural practices, increases in livestock numbers, construction of buildings such as schools or hospitals, and any other activity that emits greenhouse gas.”

Doc Hastings, the Ranking Member of the Committee, said: “This is a backdoor maneuver to create vast new climate change powers without any public comment or involvement by the American people. … [more]

25 Feb 2009, 12:44am
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Snow just won’t go away in Darrington

By Gale Fiege, Everett Daily Herald, February 23, 2009 [here]

Darrington, Washington - It’s been a tough winter in this Cascade foothills town.

Two families are waiting to bury loved ones in the frozen, snow- covered cemetery. Town officials have already spent most of the annual $60,000 street budget on snow removal. And the high school baseball team might start the season indoors since it would be hard to run the bases in snowshoes.

Nearly 6 feet of snow fell in Darrington during the last two weeks of December. After that, staff at the Forest Service Ranger Station were so overwhelmed they stopped taking the official measurement. Most people figure the total amount of snow to fall during the past three months was close to 9 feet.

Much of it is still on the ground, in 10-foot-high piles that crowd nearly every vacant lot in Darrington. More dirty snow is stacked at the town’s little airport, which has been closed for months. … [more]

25 Feb 2009, 12:36am
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Wolf sighted in the Cascades?

By Jim Anderson, The Nugget, Sisters, Oregon, 2/3/2009 [here]

Chris Mortimer, a naturalist from California, was driving over the Santiam Pass on Wednesday, January 28, when he was shocked to see a very large, wolf-like animal dash across the road in front of him.

“Wolf!” he shouted, and pulled over to the side of the highway.

With only a small, point-and-shoot camera at his disposal, he did the best he could to document what may turn out to be the first wild wolf seen in these parts in over 100 years.

“I think it’s too far from Idaho to be part of those packs,” said John Stephenson, local U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife specialist, after he and Corey Heath, Bend Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist, tracked the animal over five miles from where Mortimer first observed it. “I couldn’t see any sign of it getting into someone’s pickup, or heading for a house. Could be the real thing, but we just don’t know.”

Russ Morgan, ODFW wildlife biologist stationed in LaGrande, who has had experience with wolves and is the state’s wolf coordinator, agreed that is definitely wolf-like, and contacted Stephenson and Heath asking for possible confirmation.

According to most wolf experts who have viewed Mortimer’s photos, the opinion is that the animal sighted is in excellent condition, showing “a good coat and fat on the belly,” a trait rarely seen in a “wild wolf.” This leaves some speculation that it may have been released or strayed after escaping from from captivity.

Then there’s the “wolfdog” theory. Wolfdogs, a cross-breed of domestic dog and wolf, have become popular in some circles. They possess a moderate percentage of wolf, and but tend to be more like a dog than a wolf in most situations. However, wolfdog “ownership” (which is legal in Oregon) is not to be taken lightly, as wolfdog crosses have some characteristics that can make them challenging as pets.

more »

24 Feb 2009, 12:51pm
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Wyo. lawmakers want to test wolves for brucellosis

By MATT JOYCE, Idaho Statesman, 02/24/09 [here]

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Wyoming lawmakers are working to link two of the Northern Rockies’ most difficult wildlife management issues: wolves and brucellosis.

A bill making its way through the Wyoming Legislature would appropriate $45,000 from the state’s general fund to conduct a yearlong study.

It would task the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission with collecting and testing blood and tissue samples from wolves to determine the prevalence of the infectious disease in wolves.

Lawmakers behind the bill say proving that wolves carry brucellosis would bolster the state’s argument for limiting the wolf population to the Yellowstone area.

Game and Fish Department Director Steve Ferrell says studies conducted elsewhere have drawn conflicting conclusions about whether brucellosis carried by wolves can infect other wildlife or livestock.

24 Feb 2009, 12:49pm
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NASA global warming satellite crashes after launch

By Alicia Chang, Ap Science Writer, Yahoo News [here]

LOS ANGELES – A NASA mission to monitor global warming from space ended Tuesday when a satellite plunged into the ocean near Antarctica minutes after launch. An equipment malfunction was apparently to blame, officials said.

The loss of the $280 million mission came a month after Japan launched the world’s first spacecraft to track global warming emissions. The failure dealt a blow to NASA, which had hoped to send up its own satellite to measure carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas behind human-caused global warming.

The crash came just after liftoff from the Vandenberg Air Force Base on California’s central coast. A Taurus XL rocket carrying the Orbiting Carbon Observatory blasted off as scheduled shortly before 2 a.m.

Three minutes into the flight, the nose cone protecting the satellite failed to come off as designed, NASA officials said. The extra weight from the cover caused the rocket to dive back to Earth, splashing into the ocean near Antarctica, where a group of environment ministers from more than a dozen countries met Monday to get the latest science on global warming. [Unfortunately the rocket missed them.]

“Certainly for the science community it’s a huge disappointment,” said John Brunschwyler, Taurus project manager for Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corp., which built the rocket and satellite. “It’s taken so long to get here.”

The 986-pound satellite was supposed to be placed into a polar orbit some 400 miles high. The project was nine years in the making, and the mission was supposed to last two years.

The observatory was NASA’s first satellite dedicated to monitoring carbon dioxide on a global scale. Measurements collected by the satellite were expected to improve climate models and help researchers determine where the greenhouse gas originates and how much is being absorbed by forests and oceans.

“Wow! Bad news this morning,” said Scott Denning, an atmospheric science professor at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., and a member of the team that planned to analyze data from the satellite. “We put years into getting ready for this.”

Carbon dioxide is the leading greenhouse gas and its buildup helps trap heat from the sun, causing potentially dangerous warming of the planet. [Excuse me, but that is utter BS, Alicia.]

Scientists now depend on 282 land-based stations — and scattered instrumented aircraft flights — to monitor carbon dioxide at low altitudes. … [more]

Note: For some interesting commentary see Watts Up With That [here]

23 Feb 2009, 9:32pm
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The Green Jobs Scam - and Confusion

By IAIN MURRAY, DC Examiner, February 23, 2009 [here]

With the massive $787-billion stimulus bill including provisions to encourage the creation of “green jobs,” Americans deserve an honest appraisal of how such green jobs will work. So far, they aren’t getting it.

In fact, a recent statement by Al Gore shows just how much Americans are being misled on this issue. Green jobs are a shell game, and we’re falling for it. In the Financial Times, on February 17, Gore, in an op ed co-authored with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, asserts that, “In the US, there are now more jobs in the wind industry than in the entire coal industry.”

But as Roger Pielke Jr of the University of Colorado points out, there is something wrong there. In November 2008, the coal industry generated 155 million megawatt-hours of electricity, while wind generated only 1.3 million megawatt-hours. If wind really does employ more people than coal, it is doing so at a huge cost to American efficiency, productivity, and competitiveness.

Of course, the wind industry does not employ more people. Gore and Ban were flat out wrong in their assertion, which should make one question any assertions in Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, or any U.N. document, for that matter. … [more]

23 Feb 2009, 9:29pm
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9,000 earmarks in the $410 billion omnibus spending bill

Gang tattoo removal, Maine lobster, La Raza and more!

By Michelle Malkin, February 23, 2009 [here]

You want earmarks? There are lots and lots and lots of earmarks in the $410 billion omnibus spending bill coming down the road. Not that any of the people who are going to vote for it will actually read it, of course. If they did, they couldn’t look into the camera and sanctimoniously declare that, uh, you know, “There are no earmarks.” …

The Modesto Bee reports… The bill will contain about 9,000 earmarks totaling $5 billion, congressional officials say. Many of the earmarks — loosely defined as local projects inserted by members of Congress — were inserted last year as the spending bills worked their way through various committees. …

Hill staffer Tom Jones is going through the omnibus spending bill with a fine-tooth comb, and Twittering his earmark findings, including:

* $200,000 for “Tattoo Removal Violence Prevention Outreach Program,” pg. 283;

* Maine lobster earmark in the omnibus, pg. 173;

* $5.8 million earmark for the “Ted Kennedy Institute for the Senate…for the planning and design of a building & an endowment,” pg. 232;

* National Council of La Raza, $473,000 earmark from Sens. Bingaman and Menendez, pg. 212.


* $400K “to combat bullying”, pg. 325

* $215K to teach scientists how to communicate w/ press”, p246

* $10 million blue crab disaster assistance

* Totally Teen Zone, midnight basketball, etc.

* $2M for the promotion of astronomy in Hawaii, pg. 332

* Reid earmark makes Nevada eligible for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, p339

23 Feb 2009, 2:12pm
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Wolf pack kills woman

Wolf Crossing, Feb 22nd, 2009 [here]

Georgian villagers armed for self-defense

A pack of wolves killed a woman in the Kakheti region of eastern Georgia in the third attack in a month, leading authorities to hand out weapons to locals for self-defense.

“We are putting Kakheti on high alert,” Gov. Gia Chalatashvili said Friday in televised comments.

“Residents will be given guns and ammunition to defend themselves. Police will also be involved.”

The woman’s remains were discovered Friday in the village of Giorgitsminda, about 40 kilometers from the capital Tbilisi, the Imedi television station reported. … [more]

23 Feb 2009, 12:20pm
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Forest report cites dangers to water source

by Joe Hanel, Durango Herald, February 21, 2009 [here]

DENVER - Calling Colorado’s high-altitude forests a national asset, the region’s top forester thinks urban water utilities should consider charging their customers a monthly forest-health fee.
Many bills, little money to fight wildfires

Rick Cables, head of the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain region, told state lawmakers Wednesday that forest protection is every bit as important for water supplies as building dams and pipelines.

“The new water project is protecting the headwaters - investing in where the water comes from,” Cables said.

Cables and Colorado State Forester Jeff Jahnke visited the Legislature’s two agriculture committees to release the annual forest health report, which this year focuses on threats to high-altitude forests.

Trees above 9,000 feet provide biodiversity and homes for wildlife, Jahnke said.

“Probably more than anything - and I think of national strategic value - is their role in producing water,” Jahnke said.

Cables agreed. People in 143 counties in 10 states rely on water from Colorado’s headwaters, he said.

more »

22 Feb 2009, 12:32am
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Arctic Sea Ice Underestimated for Weeks Due to Faulty Sensor

By Alex Morales, Bloomberg.com news, Feb 20, 2009 [here]

A glitch in satellite sensors caused scientists to underestimate the extent of Arctic sea ice by 500,000 square kilometers (193,000 square miles), a California- size area, the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center said.

The error, due to a problem called “sensor drift,” began in early January and caused a slowly growing underestimation of sea ice extent until mid-February. That’s when “puzzled readers” alerted the NSIDC about data showing ice-covered areas as stretches of open ocean, the Boulder, Colorado-based group said on its Web site.

“Sensor drift, although infrequent, does occasionally occur and it is one of the things that we account for during quality- control measures prior to archiving the data,” the center said. “Although we believe that data prior to early January are reliable, we will conduct a full quality check.” … [more]

Note: the glitch was reported by Joseph D’Aleo of ICECAP on Feb 15 [here]. The story was then picked up by Anthony Watts of Watts Up With That on Feb. 16 [here]. After these citizen scientist bloggers informed the NSIDC, the Center discovered the satellite sensor had problems and issued a statement that was reported at Watts Up With That on Feb 18 [here].

Bloomberg’s report is thus 4 or 5 days late and fails to credit D’Aleo and Watts for their vital roles in all this. Citizen bloggers Anthony Watts and Steve McIntire of Climate Audit also uncovered and reported on data defects in an article in Nature last month about Antarctic temperature trends [here].

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