<![CDATA[Colorado Springs Gazette RSS - environment]]> http://gazette.com/rss/environment Tue, 23 May 2017 02:49:01 -0600 Zend_Feed http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss <![CDATA[Water districts charge ahead on contamination fixes, while waiting for Air Force to pony up]]> http://gazette.com/water-districts-charge-ahead-on-contamination-fixes-while-waiting-for-air-force-to-pony-up/article/1603537?custom_click=rss http://gazette.com/water-districts-charge-ahead-on-contamination-fixes-while-waiting-for-air-force-to-pony-up/article/1603537?custom_click=rss

The water flowing into Bridgette Swaney's home no longer threatens to cause cancer or weaken her immune system.

But that doesn't mean she'll drink it.

"Now the water tastes like chlorine instead of something else, so I don't know," Swaney said.

For the first time in possibly decades, summer will arrive in southern El Paso County without most residents being exposed to toxic tap water from their faucets.

Security, Widefield and Fountain water leaders made immense gains over the past year improving the region's water quality. The number of people exposed to a class of likely carcinogenic chemicals known as perfluorinated compounds has dropped from tens of thousands to a couple of hundred.

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Mon, 22 May 2017 11:34:58 -0600
<![CDATA[Oil company watches over pregnant polar bear under bridge]]> http://gazette.com/oil-company-watches-over-pregnant-polar-bear-under-bridge/article/1603513?custom_click=rss http://gazette.com/oil-company-watches-over-pregnant-polar-bear-under-bridge/article/1603513?custom_click=rss

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A pregnant polar bear seeking to dig her maternity den chose an unlikely spot: a snow drift along a bridge leading to an artificial production island off the north coast of Alaska.

As a threatened species, polar bears are entitled to peaceful pregnancies and the operating oil company, Hilcorp Alaska LLC, took vigorous measures to make sure that happened. In consultation with federal wildlife authorities, Hilcorp restricted traffic on the causeway, monitored the den and kept things mostly quiet until mother and cub emerged three months later.

"The bear, wherever she decided to den, she's the emphasis," said Christopher Putnam, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service supervisory biologist.

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Sat, 20 May 2017 19:53:52 -0600
<![CDATA[Colorado's Front Range is perfect petri dish for creating hail]]> http://gazette.com/colorados-front-range-is-perfect-petri-dish-for-creating-hail/article/1603529?custom_click=rss http://gazette.com/colorados-front-range-is-perfect-petri-dish-for-creating-hail/article/1603529?custom_click=rss

DENVER - The largest hailstone ever recorded in America spent close to an hour aloft in a cloud growing to the size of a small volleyball, then plunged to earth at more than 100 mph, struck the ground in South Dakota weighing nearly 2 pounds, left a divot, was scooped up by a local rancher and placed in a freezer, melted a bit during a power outage, was packed in dry ice and driven cross country, and finally arrived at a lab in Boulder where Charles Knight, one of the nation's premier authorities on hail, added it to a research collection that also included the two previous record-setting hailstones.

Even by Knight's high standards, though, the golf ball-sized hail that hammered the western metro area last week was something to

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Sat, 20 May 2017 15:16:58 -0600
<![CDATA[Moss is turning Antarctica's icy landscape green]]> http://gazette.com/moss-is-turning-antarcticas-icy-landscape-green/article/1603479?custom_click=rss http://gazette.com/moss-is-turning-antarcticas-icy-landscape-green/article/1603479?custom_click=rss

Antarctica is home to ice, penguins and -- thanks to climate change -- rapidly increasing levels of moss, scientists say.

Moss banks, found across parts of the western Antarctic Peninsula, have grown dramatically over the past 50 years, according to a study published in the scientific journal Current Biology.
Moss growth has "increased by 4 or 5 times" in the past five decades, according to Tom Roland, one of the co-authors of the report.
Higher temperatures and less ice are "likely open up more land for the moss ecosystems to expand into," Roland said, leading to the "'greening' of the Peninsula.

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Fri, 19 May 2017 21:03:55 -0600
<![CDATA[Colorado governor and attorney general at odds over oil and gas drilling decision]]> http://gazette.com/colorado-governor-and-attorney-general-at-odds-over-oil-and-gas-drilling-decision/article/1603397?custom_click=rss http://gazette.com/colorado-governor-and-attorney-general-at-odds-over-oil-and-gas-drilling-decision/article/1603397?custom_click=rss

DENVER — Colorado's attorney general has asked the state Supreme Court to review a lower court ruling that said regulators could put more weight on public health and the environment when they draw up rules for oil and gas.

In documents filed Thursday, Attorney General Cynthia Cynthia Coffman says the lower court ruling essentially rewrites state law and contradicts previous Supreme Court rulings.

The Supreme Court didn't immediately indicate whether it would take the case.

Coffman filed the appeal at the request of state regulators but over the objections of Gov. John Hickenlooper. Hickenlooper said regulators don't have the authority to appeal, and that the ruling wouldn't significantly change the way

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Thu, 18 May 2017 14:06:05 -0600
<![CDATA[Snowpack and reservoir storage levels looking good as summer watering approaches]]> http://gazette.com/snowpack-and-reservoir-storage-levels-looking-good-as-summer-watering-approaches/article/1603399?custom_click=rss http://gazette.com/snowpack-and-reservoir-storage-levels-looking-good-as-summer-watering-approaches/article/1603399?custom_click=rss

A snowy winter has helped keep Colorado Springs Utilities' reservoirs comfortably stocked ahead of the summer watering season.

Storage levels for Utilities' reservoirs are at 78 percent of capacity - slightly ahead of its seasonal average of 75 percent, according to Kalsoum Abbasi, a Utilities senior project engineer.

"We're in great shape as far as storage goes, across the board," Abbasi told Utilities' Board of Directors this week.

Snowpack levels this year have been healthy across Colorado, with almost every river basin in the state above average as of May 1. Drought conditions also have all but disappeared.

Those levels should get another boost this week.

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Thu, 18 May 2017 13:55:24 -0600
<![CDATA[$400 million northern Colorado reservoir gets final approval ]]> http://gazette.com/400-million-northern-colorado-reservoir-gets-final-approval/article/1603358?custom_click=rss http://gazette.com/400-million-northern-colorado-reservoir-gets-final-approval/article/1603358?custom_click=rss

DENVER — The federal government gave final approval Wednesday for a $400 million dam and reservoir in northern Colorado where 13 cities and water districts will store water from the other side of the Continental Divide.

The Army Corps of Engineers issued a permit for construction of the Chimney Hollow Reservoir in the foothills about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Denver.

The corps regulates some of the environmental impacts of big water projects.

It is the last approval the reservoir needs, said Brian Werner, a spokesman for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, which oversees the project .

Construction could start in early 2019, after the district refines the plans, hires a project manager and

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Thu, 18 May 2017 06:08:17 -0600
<![CDATA[Tiny uninhabited Pacific isle has 38 million pieces of trash]]> http://gazette.com/tiny-uninhabited-pacific-isle-has-38-million-pieces-of-trash/article/feed/461312?custom_click=rss http://gazette.com/tiny-uninhabited-pacific-isle-has-38-million-pieces-of-trash/article/feed/461312?custom_click=rss

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — When researchers traveled to a tiny, uninhabited island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, they were astonished to find an estimated 38 million pieces of trash washed up on the beaches.

Almost all of the garbage they found on Henderson Island was made from plastic. There were toy soldiers, dominos, toothbrushes and hundreds of hardhats of every shape, size and color.

The researchers say the density of trash was the highest recorded anywhere in the world, despite Henderson Island's extreme remoteness. The island is located about halfway between New Zealand and Chile and is recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site.

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]]> Tue, 16 May 2017 20:14:14 -0600 <![CDATA[Deadline looms for state to appeal court decision on oil and gas drilling]]> http://gazette.com/deadline-looms-for-state-to-appeal-court-decision-on-oil-and-gas-drilling/article/1603257?custom_click=rss http://gazette.com/deadline-looms-for-state-to-appeal-court-decision-on-oil-and-gas-drilling/article/1603257?custom_click=rss

Environmental groups are encouraging Gov. John Hickenlooper not to appeal a Colorado Court of Appeals decision emphasizing health and safety in permitting oil and gas drilling.

Hickenlooper, a Democrat and former geologist, has until Thursday to decide whether to appeal the case, which could require state oil and gas regulators to take another look at a request to suspend fracking until drillers can prove it is safe.

The requests from environmental groups comes at a politically charged time for the oil and gas industry. A recent home explosion in Firestone linked to natural gas leaking from an old pipeline spurred debates in the legislature, as well as renewed talks of ballot initiatives.

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Tue, 16 May 2017 16:19:05 -0600
<![CDATA[How Idaho Springs plans to turn the Argo Mine Superfund site into a tourist attraction]]> http://gazette.com/how-idaho-springs-plans-to-turn-the-argo-mine-superfund-site-into-a-tourist-attraction/article/1603239?custom_click=rss http://gazette.com/how-idaho-springs-plans-to-turn-the-argo-mine-superfund-site-into-a-tourist-attraction/article/1603239?custom_click=rss

IDAHO SPRINGS — At the end of the blasted, hard-rock tunnel is a bulkhead. Behind the wall — concrete and steel more than 3 feet thick — is almost 3 million gallons of water tainted by heavy metals. The words “do not open” are scrawled on the steel portal.

“That’s some good advice right there,” said Bob Bowland, a longtime Idaho Springs resident and councilman, his words echoing down the 12-by-12-foot stone shaft.

Back in the day, the Argo Tunnel ferried gold ore into one of the state’s busiest mills and drained water from mines in the renowned “richest square mile on earth” around Central City.

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Tue, 16 May 2017 10:31:41 -0600
<![CDATA[Energy developer proposes powering El Paso County jail with forest wastes]]> http://gazette.com/energy-developer-proposes-powering-el-paso-county-jail-with-forest-wastes/article/1603123?custom_click=rss http://gazette.com/energy-developer-proposes-powering-el-paso-county-jail-with-forest-wastes/article/1603123?custom_click=rss

A renewable energy developer wants to build a small biomass plant to power the El Paso County jail as part of its grand plan to turn wood and brush cleared during wildfire mitigation into marketable products.

The Hong Kong-based VannZa group has proposed locating the plant on county property near the jail, supplying electricity to the facility at market rates, said John Zapel, the company's president and CEO. It would be powered by about 45 to 50 tons per day of tree limbs and other small woody wastes, generating the roughly 2 to 2½ megawatts of energy needed to keep the lights on at the jail, he said.

Under the system Zapel has devised, residents and businesses could hire company crews for mitigation work.

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Sun, 14 May 2017 21:03:51 -0600
<![CDATA[Colorado Springs residents tutored on benefits of newly legal rain barrels]]> http://gazette.com/colorado-springs-residents-tutored-on-benefits-of-newly-legal-rain-barrels/article/1603076?custom_click=rss http://gazette.com/colorado-springs-residents-tutored-on-benefits-of-newly-legal-rain-barrels/article/1603076?custom_click=rss

Twenty plastic barrels once used to ship Mountain Dew syrup were reborn on Saturday into water conservation tools for local gardeners.

The barrels, purchased from a recycled materials provider in Denver, were distributed at a "make and take" rain barrel event hosted by El Paso County's Colorado State University Extension. The $60 class, the second that the local CSU Extension office has held since the state legalized the use of rain barrels last year, quickly filled up. Two more classes, already full, have been scheduled for the coming weeks.

Organizers said it's a sign of residents' growing curiosity about rain barrel use, which Colorado was one of the last states to allow.

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Sun, 14 May 2017 14:15:14 -0600
<![CDATA[‘Rare as winning the lottery’: New dinosaur fossil so well-preserved it looks like a statue]]> http://gazette.com/rare-as-winning-the-lottery-new-dinosaur-fossil-so-well-preserved-it-looks-like-a-statue/article/1603089?custom_click=rss http://gazette.com/rare-as-winning-the-lottery-new-dinosaur-fossil-so-well-preserved-it-looks-like-a-statue/article/1603089?custom_click=rss

Before being assembled into something recognizable at a museum, most dinosaur fossils look to the casual observer like nothing more than common rocks. No one, however, would confuse the over 110 million-year-old nodosaur fossil for a stone.

The fossil, being unveiled today in Canada’s Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, is so well preserved it looks like a statue.

Even more surprising might be its accidental discovery, as unveiled in the June issue of National Geographic magazine.

On March 21, 2011, Shawn Funk was digging in Alberta’s Millennium Mine with a mechanical backhoe, when he hit “something much harder than the surrounding rock.

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Sun, 14 May 2017 12:17:17 -0600
<![CDATA[Contamination poses a problem for Norris-Penrose Events Center renovation]]> http://gazette.com/contamination-poses-a-problem-for-norris-penrose-events-center-renovation/article/1602957?custom_click=rss http://gazette.com/contamination-poses-a-problem-for-norris-penrose-events-center-renovation/article/1602957?custom_click=rss

A local nonprofit plans to renovate part of the Norris-Penrose Events Center, but its past as a city landfill and proximity to a former gold mill could be a costly problem for El Paso County if construction crews start digging.

When the county sold the property to the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Foundation for $10 in 2005, it entered into an agreement with the foundation that could hold the county liable for environmental contamination, including the tons of rubbish buried underground and the mine tailings left over from the Portland Mill's early 20th century operations.

Now, the foundation wants to transform the center's indoor arena into an exhibition hall, complete with a chuckwagon-style restaurant.

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Fri, 12 May 2017 06:05:41 -0600
<![CDATA[EPA slams brakes on Obama's new pesticide rules]]> http://gazette.com/epa-slams-brakes-on-obamas-new-pesticide-rules/article/1602917?custom_click=rss http://gazette.com/epa-slams-brakes-on-obamas-new-pesticide-rules/article/1602917?custom_click=rss

The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday stopped new pesticide regulations for farmers, meant to be put into effect this year by the Obama administration.

"In order to achieve both environmental protection and economic prosperity, we must give the regulated community, which includes farmers and ranchers, adequate time to come into compliance with regulations," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. "Extending the timeline for implementation of this rule will enable EPA to consult with states, assist with education, training and guidance, and prevent unnecessary burdens from overshadowing the rule's intended benefits.

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Thu, 11 May 2017 12:34:28 -0600
<![CDATA[NTSB investigating pipelines as part of Firestone house explosion]]> http://gazette.com/ntsb-investigating-pipelines-as-part-of-firestone-house-explosion/article/1602905?custom_click=rss http://gazette.com/ntsb-investigating-pipelines-as-part-of-firestone-house-explosion/article/1602905?custom_click=rss

The National Transportation Safety Board has been added to the list of investigators of the deadly Firestone house explosion alongside fire officials, police and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

Board spokesman Keith Holloway confirmed in an email Wednesday that investigators are probing whether there are any safety issues that could have a national impact, though results will be slow in coming.

"A typical accident investigation can take 12 to 18 months before a probable cause is determined," he said.

The NTSB is involved because it investigates transportation incidents, and pipelines are considered a mode of transportation because the lines transport oil, gas and other materials.

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Thu, 11 May 2017 07:54:51 -0600
<![CDATA[Justices won't hear challenge over Alaska polar bear habitat]]> http://gazette.com/justices-wont-hear-challenge-over-alaska-polar-bear-habitat/article/feed/457185?custom_click=rss http://gazette.com/justices-wont-hear-challenge-over-alaska-polar-bear-habitat/article/feed/457185?custom_click=rss WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court won't hear an appeal from Alaska and oil and gas industry groups protesting the government's designation of more than 187,000 square miles in the state as critical habitat for threatened polar bears.

The justice on Monday left in place an appeals court ruling that said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service followed the law when it authorized the massive habitat in a coastal area larger than the state of California.

Alaska officials, the American Petroleum Institute and others said the designation was too extensive and accused the agency over overreaching.

A federal judge had rejected the plan, saying the agency had not shown that certain areas on land and barrier islands were appropria

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