Thank you for your wonderful write-up of the climate change forum with Tim Wirth and Jim Martin. However, James Hansen would probably tell Wirth that waiting another 5 years for a carbon tax is far too long. Every year we wait, means we have even more emissions with which to contend.
As for the wise adage that we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, many in the environmental community object to natural gas as a bridge fuel to lower emissions quickly now as we slowly transition into renewables. It might seem that their objections to natural gas fall into the category of wanting the perfect (renewables) instead of the merely good (natural gas). However, the more we learn about methane emissions during natural gas production, transmission and use, the more it seems to be no better than coal.
Speaking of a realist who seemed to let the perfect stand in the way of the good, whatever happened to Senator John McCain? In 2009 he refused to support Waxman-Markey’s version of Cap and Trade because he thought it inadequate. Instead, he advocated for us to “act in a rational fashion about climate change.” McCain may have appeared wrong to some in the environmental community, but his position agreed with that of James Hansen. Climate change is so serious, we have to get this legislation right.
Since then McCain has gone silent on climate change action. Is that rational? It certainly is not good and won’t help us achieve the perfect revenue-neutral carbon tax (with border adjustments) that Hansen advocates as our best shot.
Member of Citizens’ Climate Lobby
I’d suggest you file this at the bottom of the story, so others who read it can glean your insights.
With Climate Change causing both flooding in the Midwest and East and drought in the West why not divert THE MISSISSIPPI FLOOD WATERS to the West ? Many people oppose diverting water from the Great Lakes and I agree with them as there would never be enough ! But diverting flood waters could be a win / win situation on both sides ! Contact the Army Corps of Engineers for a feasibility study .
Please help spread the word – No Congressional Action for Water Quality – Again!
Right now, there are two bills in Congress for “Good Samaritan Legislation”. This legislation would reduce the liability for volunteer watershed groups to engage in the cleanup of toxic water that drains from abandoned and inactive hardrock mines around the country. Since 1999, 16 bills have been introduced. None has been enacted.
For background on this issue, please see my 12.5 minute video titled, “Act of Congress: Good Samaritans & Draining Mines 2014”.
The absence of any liability protection means that work is NOT being done. This opens the door for the EPA to come in with a Superfund option.
This is my next film:
“Tipping Point: The Superfund Option”
“Fishing The Volcano: A Mining Town’s Struggle for Aquatic Life”
“A historic Colorado mining community considers the previously unwanted Superfund option for cleaning up toxic mine pollution to restore aquatic habitat downstream.”
Using the guide, “Character + Problem = Story”:
Aquatic habitat in San Juan and La Plata Counties in southwest Colorado
Worsened water quality, disappearing fish species, and mounting pressure for comprehensive solutions.
Hard community choices where one option may result in real water treatment solutions, yet, may be unpopular and have unintended negative consequences.
A volunteer stakeholder group has a 20-year success record of on-the-ground investigation and characterization of the 100-year old problem of inactive and abandoned mines that leak toxic metals and acids into southwest Colorado’s Animas River, with many successful remediation projects at waste rock and tailings pollution. As of the spring of 2014, however, no cost effective solution for water treatment at draining mines has been agreed upon, though, the group is actively performing a global search for a potential solution. Still, as water quality has worsened and species of fish have disappeared due to unintended consequences of a failed consent decree solution, San Juan County, Colorado is once again faced with considering a Superfund option. Some say this would hurt tourism and discourage future mining operations in the county.
Is time running out? Does a decision on treatment solutions need to be made in 2014? Has a “tipping point” been reached, as the community that fought against Superfund designation in 1994 and 2011, may be forced to engage in this federal action for improving aquatic habitat downstream? These are some of the questions and issues I want to report on.
This film will:
1. Provide background on the study of the Upper Animas Basin, and the formation of the Animas River Stakeholders Group in Silverton, CO.
2. Describe the liability issue at draining mines vs. piles of mine waste.
3. Describe the agreement that eventually resulted in new toxic drainage, the unintended consequence.
4. Identify the condition of lower water quality in Cement Creek, relative to the plugging of the American Tunnel, and new drainage at Red & Bonita, Gold King and Mogul mines.
5. Identify the CERCLA/Superfund program, its goals, solutions and provisions (potentially responsible parties, cost recovery, community involvement, etc.)
6. Identify water treatment options that San Juan County, CO faces, including experimental methods, partial treatment options, and Superfund options.
7. Follow the community vetting process and decision-making process.
8. Examples from other Superfund sites will be discussed to show how other communities faced this decision, and how residents, watershed groups, county officials and regulators feel about it now, after Superfund actions.
WHO would want to listen?
County governments and residents, state governments, watershed groups, conservation groups, mining companies, etc. who have draining abandoned mines that degrade water quality and reduce aquatic habitat, with no Potentially Responsible Party (PRP), and inadequate funding to build and operate water treatment facilities in perpetuity at historic mining districts.
WHY would they be interested?
As San Juan County, CO goes, so goes the next county desperate for solutions where draining, abandoned mines with no PRPs are lowering water quality and destroying aquatic habitat. (Good Samaritan legislation has not yet been passed.)
Interview lists would include, and would not be limited to, the following people or entities: (withheld for privacy reasons)
STORY: Hard community choices for improving aquatic habitat are caught in the crossfire of:
• Miners who don’t want Superfund to deter chances for future mining.
• Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) who could potentially be sued if Superfund is engaged.
• Neighboring downstream constituencies who are concerned about disappearing fish species as a result of worsening water quality.
• A volunteer group who has no funding to build and operate a treatment facility, but is soliciting potential solutions from the global community.
• A mining company engaged in a consent decree that some call a “pollution trading” deal that may shift the liability for mine drainage they could potentially be responsible for.
• A State that is hamstrung by a consent decree that has the unintended negative consequence of reduced water quality and a reduction of fish species downstream.
• And the EPA, who is ready to initiate a process for a long-term solution in 2014, but that solution is labeled Superfund, and that has an unfavorable to luke-warm reception in the community, as of March 2014.
RESTATING THE PROBLEM:
What will the residents decide to do for reducing dissolved metals and acids in the streambed that have degraded aquatic habitat and killed fish species downstream? Will the Commissioners and Governor respond? Commissioners have said they cannot wait.
Will you support this film project?
Tom Schillaci, Producer of Environmental Documentary Video
Your op ed on Sand Creek in today’s Camera is the best of the several pieces on the subject appearing in the various dailys and weeklies.
Sally Benson was quoted in your March 29 article regarding uses of natural gas including for light-duty transportation that for natural gas “There may be a financial benefit, but in terms of the greenhouse gasses, it’s worse than gasoline.” I checked the Department of Energy website on this and it states there is about a 6% to 11% reduction in green house gasses with using natural gas for light-duty transportation. Could Sally be wrong ? Jerry Dauth, firstname.lastname@example.org
I became aware of your website when your Energy Potential article appeared in the 3/29/15 Denver Post. It is obvious from your Q&A that you and Sally Benson dream of a worldwide energy supply that is driven by reducing or eliminating “greenhouse gases” and “carbon capture.” Carbon Dioxide is not a pollutant by the way. And if that were to be achieved, then what? With a 100% renewable energy supply some day, climate change would be solved, right? No more risk of sea level change, droughts, hurricanes, floods? No, climate change lives forever. Unless you believe some technology can be developed to control the climate.
Of course, the energy supply is not driven by greenhouse gas emissions. It is driven by economics which include demand, reliability, marketability, technology and of course cost to producer and price to consumer. All of this must be legislatively manipulated in order to secure a world driven by the energy supply of which you dream. The market will not support higher priced, less reliable, lower powered energy sources. And the energy situation will become worse for nearly everyone if you force legislate these options onto the energy consuming public.
Finally, the beauty of the open market means that individuals have the freedom of choice to eliminate the use of energy sources that emit those greenhouse gases and “carbon.” As such, I assume that you and Ms. Benson are living “carbon free” without any energy or other consumption derived from oil, natural gas or coal. Haven’t you? How is that going for you?
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