Posts Tagged ‘greenhouse gases’

Impaired waters; tracking CO2

January 16, 2012

The Freshwater Society blog publishes a digest of important regional, national and international articles and research on water and the environment. Scan the articles here, then follow the links to read the articles in their entirety where they originally were published.

List of impaired Minnesota waters grows
Minnesota is adding another 500 lakes and stretches of river to its list of impaired waters.

This new list brings the total number of impaired rivers and lakes to more than 3,600. Impaired means the waters have excess nitrogen, phosphorus, mercury, bacteria or other pollutant to support activities like swimming or fishing, or even to provide healthy habitats for fish and wildlife.

Listing these lakes and rivers is the first step in attempts to fix them. But some critics say the state isn’t doing what it takes to clean up the pollution.

Once they’re on the list, the state works with local governments and citizen groups to design clean-up plans. So far, researchers have found that about 40 percent of Minnesota’s waters are impaired. The federal Clean Water Act requires states to update their list of impaired waters every two years. Minnesota is one-fifth of the way through surveying its nearly 12,000 lakes and nearly 70,000 miles of rivers and streams.

In the nearly twenty years these efforts have been under way, about 900 clean-up plans have been approved or are being developed. But only 15 water bodies have been removed from the list because of actual clean-up.
–Minnesota Public Radio

Data base shows greenhouse gas sources
 The EPA has posted a new searchable data base of greenhouse gas emissions last year. Go to it and explore the power plants and other sources of Minnesota’s 47 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and carbon dioxide-  equivalent emissions. Read a New York Times article about the new trove of pollution data.

Research: Cut soot, methane to slow warming
 Simple, inexpensive measures to cut emissions of two common pollutants will slow global warming, save millions of lives and boost crop production around the world, an international team of scientists reported.

The climate-change debate has centered on carbon dioxide, a gas that wafts in the atmosphere for decades, trapping heat. But in recent years, scientists have pointed to two other, shorter-term pollutants — methane and soot, also known as black carbon — that drive climate change.

Slashing emissions of these twin threats would be a “win-win-win” for climate, human health and agriculture, said NASA climate scientist Drew Shindell, who led the study appearing in the journal Science.  “Even if you don’t believe climate change is a problem, these things are worth doing.”

Previous studies have noted the benefits of reducing methane and soot. But the new study looked at the specific effect of about 400 actions policymakers could take. Of those, just 14 interventions — such as eliminating wood-burning stoves, dampening emissions from diesel vehicles and capturing methane released from coal mines — would offer big benefits.
 –The Washington Post

Investors push water sustainability 
Jonas Kron is worried about water. The investment adviser at Trillium Asset Management, a $900 million fund manager that focuses on environmentally sustainable investment, fears the world’s dwindling supply of fresh water is hurting the companies he has invested in. For most of the year, Kron has led a shareholder challenge to J. M. Smucker, the strawberry jam maker that also owns Folgers coffee. Kron says the company hasn’t demonstrated it’s prepared for the market changes that are sure to come as climate change reduces the size of the world’s coffee growing area.

The conversation has been difficult in part because corporate leaders still seem unaware they need to factor water risk into their financial projections, says Kron. “We’re not talking about charity here,” says Kron. “These are investors seeking to have the company address the risks in its supply chain.”

Smucker’s says it’s hedging against potential increases in raw material prices, but Mother Nature, Kron points out, can defeat any hedge. “At a certain point, you need to deal with the fundamental, underlying fact that these are crops grown with soil, sunlight, and water, and you can’t escape the laws of nature.”

Most companies act as if the water they have today will be there tomorrow, says Brooke Barton, who runs water programs at Ceres, an environmental group in Boston that worked with Trillium and others to create an online checklist aimed at helping investors and companies assess efforts to manage water risk.

3M counter-sues Met Council over pollution 
The 3M Co. has a new tactic to defend itself against a lawsuit filed by the state of Minnesota and the Metropolitan Council: If we polluted, so did you.

In a counterclaim, the company said that if it is found liable for polluting the Mississippi River, the Met Council also should pay. That’s because, 3M says, the planning agency for the seven-county Twin Cities area dumps chemicals into the river from its seven waste treatment plants.

The court document is a new twist in the legal battle over PFOS, or perfluorooctane sulfonate, found in the river. The state sued 3M in December 2010, saying its chemicals had damaged the environment. The Met Council joined the suit 11 months later. But 3M now argues that the chemicals are coming from treated sewage and other sources.
–The St. Paul Pioneer Press

Cellulosic biofuels go missing 
When the companies that supply motor fuel close the books on 2011, they will pay about $6.8 million in penalties to the Treasury because they failed to mix a special type of biofuel into their gasoline and diesel as required by law.

But there was none to be had. Outside a handful of laboratories and workshops, the ingredient, cellulosic biofuel, does not exist.

In 2012, the oil companies expect to pay even higher penalties for failing to blend in the fuel, which is made from wood chips or the inedible parts of plants like corncobs. Refiners were required to blend 6.6 million gallons into gasoline and diesel in 2011 and face a quota of 8.65 million gallons this year.

“It belies logic,” Charles T. Drevna, the president of the National Petrochemicals and Refiners Association, said of the 2011 quota. And raising the quota for 2012 when there is no production makes even less sense, he said.

Penalizing the fuel suppliers demonstrates what happens when the federal government really, really wants something that technology is not ready to provide.
–The New York Times

Climate change, elk reduce tree cover 
Climate change in the form of reduced snowfall in mountains is causing powerful and cascading shifts in mountainous plant and bird communities through the increased ability of elk to stay at high elevations over winter and consume plants, according to a groundbreaking study in Nature Climate Change.

The U.S. Geological Survey and University of Montana study not only showed that the abundance of deciduous trees and their associated songbirds in mountainous Arizona have declined over the last 22 years as snowpack has declined, but it also experimentally demonstrated that declining snowfall indirectly affects plants and birds by enabling more winter browsing by elk. Increased winter browsing by elk results in trickle-down ecological effects such as lowering the quality of habitat for songbirds.

The authors, USGS Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit scientist Thomas Martin and University of Montana scientist John Maron, mimicked the effects of more snow on limiting the ability of elk to browse on plants by excluding the animals from large, fenced areas. They compared bird and plant communities in these exclusion areas with nearby similar areas where elk had access, and found that, over the six years of the study, multi-decadal declines in plant and songbird populations were reversed in the areas where elk were prohibited from browsing.

“This study illustrates that profound impacts of climate change on ecosystems arise over a time span of but two decades through unexplored feedbacks,” explained USGS director Marcia McNutt. “The significance lies in the fact that humans and our economy are at the end of the same chain of cascading consequences.”
–USGS News Release

Farm Bureau call to end direct subsidies
The American Farm Bureau Federation meeting in Honolulu has voted to adopt an Iowa proposal that would recommend the end of direct payments to farmers as part of the new farm bill to be written this year.

The Iowa Farm Bureau’s county delegates shook the agricultural world in August 2010 when they voted to recommend the end of direct payments, which in 2010 put $495 million into the hands of Iowa farmers. The 2011 American Farm Bureau Federation convention in Atlanta declined to follow the Iowa resolution, largely because of resistance from Southern delegates. But during the year, it became increasingly evident that direct payments, which have long been a target of opponents of farm subsidies, were vulnerable as Congress looks for ways to reduce the federal budget deficit.

“This week our national delegation of farmers agreed: The time is right to take a stand,” said Iowa Farm Bureau President Craig Hill of Milo.
–The Des Moines Register

Washington works to clean Potomac 
Washington is starting to dig deep in a $2.6 billion underground solution aimed at helping clean up the polluted Potomac River and the ailing Chesapeake Bay, the biggest U.S. estuary.

In the U.S. capital’s biggest public works project in more than 40 years, work started this fall to cut about 16 miles (26 kilometres) of tunnels to keep overflow sewage and stormwater from running into the Potomac. The project, designed to be finished in 2025, is seen by environmentalists as part of resolving the next great water pollution challenge facing the United States — keeping fouled runoff out of lakes, streams and rivers.

The vast dig “is a dramatic piece of the puzzle to improve the water quality in the Potomac,” said Carlton Ray, head of the District of Columbia’s Clean Water Project.

Permits required for lake service providers 
Training and permitting requirements for people who install and remove docks and other water recreation equipment will be implemented by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources this summer.

The Minnesota Legislature passed a number of new laws in 2011 related to prevention and management of aquatic invasive species. The laws apply to not only boaters and property owners, but also lake service providers and others involved with transportation of water-related equipment.

Service providers are individuals or businesses hired to install or remove water-related equipment such as boats, docks, boat lifts or structures from waters of the state. They are now required by state statute to obtain a permit from the DNR before providing any services. The DNR will begin to implement and enforce this during the 2012 open water season. All service providers must complete invasive species training and pass an examination in order to qualify for a permit.
–DNR News Release

Missed the Daily lecture? View the video

June 14, 2011

Each week, the Freshwater Society publishes a digest of important regional, national and international articles and research on water and the environment. Scan the articles here, then follow the links to read the articles in their entirety where they originally were published.

Gretchen C. Daily

Gretchen C. Daily

Ecosystem valuation: Putting a price on nature to save it
We all live on a crowded planet that is getting more crowded all the time. So how should we practice conservation, keep plant and animal species from going extinct and preserve the economic, social and aesthetic  benefits that nature provides to humans?

The answer, according to ecologist Gretchen C. Daily, cannot be to create many new reserves where the environment is protected in a natural state, untouched by humans.  Instead, Daily told a University of Minnesota audience on June 13, the answer has to be look for ways the plants and animals we most need can survive in coexistence with agriculture and other human activities.

And the answer to protecting nature in the face of human population growth,  Daily said, almost certainly will involve putting a price on everything  we get  from nature so the environment’s value is recognized upfront in every decision-making process, rather than after ecosystems have been irreparably damaged.  

In a lecture titled “Harmonizing People and Nature: A New Business Model,” Daily, a Stanford University biologist, described the emerging science of ecosystem valuation, a blend of ecology and economics. The lecture was co-sponsored by the Freshwater Society and the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences.

View video of Daily’s presentation, listen to audio of the talk or download a podcast.

EPA delays greenhouse gas rule
Facing intense opposition from Congressional Republicans and industry over a broad range of new air-quality regulations, the Environmental Protection Agency said that it was delaying by two months the release of a proposed rule on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other major pollution sources.

 The rule would have a major impact on the nation’s efforts to reduce emissions of gases blamed for climate change,  and its postponement is the latest step by the E.P.A. to slow the issuing of regulations that critics say will slow economic growth, drive up energy costs and reduce employment.

 Its delay is a tacit admission that the regulations pose political, economic and technical challenges that cannot be addressed on the aggressive timetable that the agency set for itself early in the Obama administration.
–The New York Times

 USGS: Humans put out more CO2 than volcanoes
On average, human activities put out in just three to five days, the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide that volcanoes produce globally each year. This is one of the messages detailed in a new article “Volcanic Versus Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide” by Terrance Gerlach of the U.S. Geological Survey appearing in this week’s issue of Eos, from the American Geophysical Union. 

 “The most frequent question that I have gotten (and still get), in my 30 some years as a volcanic gas geochemist from the general public and from geoscientists working in fields outside of volcanology, is ‘Do volcanoes emit more CO2 than human activities?’ Research findings indicate unequivocally that the answer to this question is “No”—anthropogenic CO2 emissions dwarf global volcanic CO2 emissions,” said Gerlach.

 Gerlach looked at five published studies of present-day global volcanic CO2 emissions that give a range of results from a minimum of about one tenth of a billion, to a maximum of about half a billion metric tons of CO2 per year. Gerlach used the figure of about one-quarter of a billion metric tons of volcanic CO2 per year to make his comparisons. The published projected anthropogenic CO2 emission rate for 2010 is about 35 billion metric tons per year.
–USGS News Release

St. Paul unveils river revival plan
In a dazzling effort to invigorate St. Paul’s 17 miles along the Mississippi River, the city has devised a breathtaking long-term vision for transformation of the river banks from the Minneapolis border to Pig’s Eye Lake. 

Among the goals are a massive upgrade to the Watergate Marina to include a restaurant and canoe outfitter, a swimming pool on a barge east of downtown and a Riverview Balcony promenade at the former West Publishing site to physically and visually connect downtown to the riverfront with eateries and walkways. 

Mike Hahm, St. Paul Parks and Recreation director, called the voluminous plan “an epic vision not just for transforming parks but the city and its relationship and connection with the riverfront.”

 He said “underutilized is the most generous” way to describe the city’s tie to the river now.

 That would change dramatically as other anticipated amenities include a climbing wall area to be flooded with ice in the winter, a skate park, mountain bike paths, the unearthing of an existing stream from the Ford Plant to the river and a National Parks Service headquarters at Island Station, the former energy plant near where Shepard Road meets Randolph Avenue.
–The Star Tribune

Minnesota Idea OpenShare your ideas for saving water
Minnesotans have good ideas—it’s time someone listened.  The Idea Open brings everyday Minnesotans together to help solve our state’s most critical issues. This year the Idea Open is looking for answers to the question “How would you use $15,000 to help your community become aware of and address water issues in Minnesota?”  

Starting June 21, people from all over Minnesota will be able to submit ideas to the Challenge. In the meantime, check out to sign up for updates and connect on Facebook and Twitter. The Idea Open is a venture of Minnesota Community Foundation, in  partnership with Pentair and its foundation on Challenge II.
–Idea Open News Release

 EPA offers to back off Florida regulation
The uproar over a federal effort to force Florida to clean up its rivers and lakes kicks up a notch as state officials air their strategy to avoid the controversial pollution regulations by writing a new set of their own.

In a groundbreaking dispute between federal and state officials, Florida officials want the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to abandon its pollution-prevention rules and give the state back legal responsibility for cleaning up its waters, even though the state hasn’t rewritten its rules yet.

The EPA, which has antagonized many in Florida by not being accessible for discussion and debate, said in a written statement that Florida’s latest gambit may succeed — but only if the state actually writes its new rules and they pass muster. If that happens, the federal agency “will promptly initiate rulemaking to repeal” its pollution limits, set to take effect early next year, wrote Nancy Stoner, the EPA’s acting assistant administrator.
–The Orlando Sentinel

Flooding may have spread Asian carp downstream
While scientists have been battling to keep a ravenous, invasive fish species out of the Great Lakes, some worry that spring floods along the Mississippi River may be spreading the Asian carp downstream.

 Duane Chapman, a U.S. Geological Survey biologist and Asian carp expert, says the fish are likely to show up in places where Mississippi floodwaters intruded. They can weigh up to 100 pounds grow 4 feet long and live for 25 years.

 They could be crowding out food sources of native species for decades.

 “I think there is a very serious issue here,” said Chapman. “We may now be finding them in lakes, ponds, bayous, anywhere the river water went. Those things will be full of carp now.”

 Asian carp is a term applied to several related species of carp that were brought to the United States in the 1970s to control algae in catfish farms in the South. Floods washed them into the Mississippi River in the 1980s. 

Since their escape into the wild, the carp have established themselves in the Mississippi and Missouri river basins. They endanger native fish by greedily eating aquatic vegetation and robbing local species of their food supply.
–The Associated Press

 Research: Rockies snowpack declining
A U.S. Geological Survey study suggests that snowpack declines in the Rocky Mountains over the last 30 years are unusual compared to the past few centuries. Prior studies by the USGS and other institutions attribute the decline to unusual springtime warming, more precipitation falling now as rain rather than snow and earlier snowmelt.

 The warming and snowpack decline are projected to worsen through the 21st century, foreshadowing a strain on water supplies. Runoff from winter snowpack – layers of snow that accumulate at high altitude – accounts for 60 to 80 percent of the annual water supply for more than 70 million people living in the western United States.

 “This scientific work is critical to understanding how climate change is affecting western water supplies,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said. “It helps land managers adapt to changing conditions on the ground, assists water managers with planning for the future, and gives all of us a better understanding of the real impacts that carbon pollution is having on our resources and our way of life.” 

USGS scientists, with partners at the Universities of Arizona, Washington, Wyoming, and Western Ontario, led the study that evaluated the recent declines using snowpack reconstructions from 66 tree-ring chronologies, looking back 500 to more than 1,000 years. The network of sites was chosen strategically to characterize the range of natural snowpack variability over the long term, and from north to south in the Rocky Mountains.
–USGS News Release

 Babbitt blasts Obama on environment
Already under criticism over the economy, President Obama is now taking heat from fellow Democrats on another key issue: the environment.

 Former Interior secretary Bruce Babbitt visited the National Press Club on Wednesday to question whether Obama is willing to take to congressional Republicans who want to open more acreage to logging and energy exploration.

 “I am returning to the public stage today because I believe that this Congress, in its assaults on our environment, has embarked on the most radical course in our history,” said Babbitt, who served in the Clinton administration.

 A former governor of Arizona, Babbitt added: “Therefore, it is imperative that President Obama take up the mantle of land and water conversation — something that he has not yet done in a significant way.”
–USA Today

 Stingless wasps unleashed on ash borers in St. Paul
The emerald ash borer was reunited with an old nemesis from the homeland as part of Minnesota’s attempts to impede the tree killer.

 State Department of Agriculture scientists released nearly 2,500 stingless Chinese wasps onto infested ash trees in Langford Park in St. Paul’s St. Anthony Park neighborhood. More releases are planned at four sites in Minneapolis over the summer.

 The gnat-size wasps are the natural predator to the ash borer in their native Asia. Here, scientists call the wasps a “biocontrol agent.” Thousands of them will be let loose on trees this summer.

 Monika Chandler, biological control program coordinator, said since the state didn’t have to pay for the wasps, the cost is minimal. “They work for free,” she said of the wasps. “Once you get your bugs out there, they’re self-sustaining.”
–The Star Tribune

UN report: Climate change will impact food production
Climate change will have major impacts on the availability of water for growing food and on crop productivity in the decades to come, warns a new FAO report.

Climate Change, Water, and Food Security is a comprehensive survey of existing scientific knowledge on the anticipated consequences of climate change for water use in agriculture.

These include reductions in river runoff and aquifer recharges in the Mediterranean and the semi-arid areas of the Americas, Australia and southern Africa — regions that are already water-stressed. In Asia, large areas of irrigated land that rely on snowmelt and mountain glaciers for water will also be affected, while heavily populated river deltas are at risk from a combination of reduced water flows, increased salinity, and rising sea levels.
–United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization news release

USDA funds ag-carbon project
With the Obama administration looking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Agriculture Department is trying to perfect methods for farmers and landowners to get paid for emission-saving practices.

A $2.8 million project in Iowa and Illinois that the USDA is helping fund will study methods of cutting back on the amount of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas that escapes from farmland as a result of farmers using nitrogen fertilizer.

The three-year project will involve 100 farmers in the two states.

The USDA will use this and other projects to attempt to quantify how much greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by various methods and how much farmers and landowners could earn in emission-reduction credits for different practices, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.
–The Des Moines Register 

California groups to sue over ag runoff
Thirty years after toxic farmland runoff poisoned and malformed thousands of birds in a now infamous incident at a Central Valley reservoir, environmentalists contend the federal government has done little to stop the flow of hazardous contaminants into California’s second largest river and the important estuary downstream.

Several conservation and fishing groups announced that they intend to sue the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and large agricultural irrigators for violations of the federal Clean Water Act.

“This is a huge pollution problem that should have been corrected decades ago,” said Zeke Grader of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “Time has run out.”
–The San Francisco Chronicle

Invasive species headline Duluth aquarium
The story of the Great Lakes might be better if it didn’t include a chapter on invasive species — critters such as sea lampreys, quagga mussels and gobies that are creating economic and ecological harm across the region.

 But that unseemly chapter is still one that needs telling, and the Great Lakes Aquarium on Duluth’s harbor front is diving in.

 The new “Aquatic Invaders” exhibit opens June 30 at the aquarium, where officials hope the educational mission that’s become synonymous with lake trout, river otters and sturgeon can transfer to invasive species.

 Work on the exhibit started as the aquarium readies tanks and space for live round gobies, sea lampreys and goldfish to go along with dead and replica zebra mussels.
–The Duluth News Tribune

 Comments sought on Buffalo Creek
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency  is seeking comments on a water quality improvement report for Buffalo Creek, a major tributary to the South Fork Crow River.  The report, known as a Total Maximum Daily Load,  focuses on pollution caused by excess bacteria.  A public comment period begins June 13, and continues through July 13, 2011.

Buffalo Creek runs primarily through Renville and McLeod counties and flows into the South Fork Crow River near the city of Glencoe.

Buffalo Creek was placed on Minnesota’s list of impaired waters in 2008, because of excess bacteria levels, particularly fecal coliform.  This TMDL study indicated that bacteria will need to be reduced by 40-75 percent in parts of the creek for it to meet water quality standards. 

The Buffalo Creek TMDL draft report is available online or at the MPCA’s St. Paul office, 520 N. Lafayette Road.
–MPCA News Release

 Take a bear a day and call in the morning
University of Minnesota researchers think lessons learned from hibernating black bears will help save human lives in a unique study that could someday improve the odds of surviving a heart attack.

Despite starving for four to six months, a bear’s heart and other muscles remain strong and healthy, said Paul Iaizzo, a University of Minnesota professor who has studied hibernating bears for a dozen years. He is convinced that putting critically ill patients in the same sort of state of hibernation could save lives.

“You’re trying to protect the vital organs and the loss of skeletal muscle,” Iaizzo said. “And that’s exactly what the bear will do here at the den. So they could be the ideal model for that [intensive care unit] patient.”

Black bears are amazing physical specimens. They crawl into a hole in the ground in late fall. They don’t eat or drink anything for four to six months. Then they climb out in the spring strong and healthy.
–Minnesota Public Radio

Declining aquifers, superfund sites and dust storms

April 27, 2009

Each week, the Freshwater Society posts links to some of the best regional, national and international coverage of water and the environment. Follow the links to the publications where the articles originally appeared, and let us know your reaction to the research and policy issues they report.

Superfund program chronically underfunded
The Superfund program to clean up the nation’s most contaminated industrial sites was established nearly 30 years ago on the principle that those responsible for toxic pollution should pay for it.

So why is the government spending $600 million in stimulus money to work on sites like the defunct arsenic-fouled Vineland Chemical Company plant here in South Jersey?
–The New York Times

Wisconsin plans tough rules on invasives
Wisconsin officials advanced a major package of regulations designed to control the movement of invasive plants, fish and animals.

The Natural Resources Board voted, 7-0, on rules designed to fight non-native invaders that pose environmental and economic peril.

After the vote, the Department of Natural Resources said the measure – five years in the making – represents the first time a state has developed a comprehensive rule to fight the spread of invasive species.
–The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Democrats debate softer climate rule
House Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are negotiating among themselves on whether to scale back legislation that would impose a mandatory limit on greenhouse gases, with some conservatives and moderates calling for electric utilities to be given free pollution allowances and for more modest cuts in the targets for reducing emissions.
–The Washington Post

Dust storms increase in the West
Nestled in the San Juan Mountains at 9,300 feet, and surrounded by 13,000-foot peaks, Silverton, Colo., seems an unlikely place for a dust storm, especially with two feet of snow on the ground. So Chris Landry was alarmed on the afternoon of April 3 when he spotted a brown haze on the horizon; an hour later, a howling wind had engulfed the town in a full-fledged dust storm, turning everything from the sky to the snow a rusty red.

“It was almost surreal,” recalled Landry, executive director of the Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies. The landscape looked like Mars after the storm passed, he said: “You could feel the dust, you could taste the dust.”
–The Washington Post

Louisiana aquifer steadily declining
Some areas in north Louisiana have lost one-third of their drinking water supplied exclusively by the Sparta aquifer.

For nearly 50 years, water levels in the Sparta aquifer have been declining by about two feet per year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Sixteen parishes in north Louisiana depend either entirely or partially on the Sparta aquifer for their potable water, but the groundwater source is being used faster than it can be replenished.
–Shreveport Times

Energy tax credit gives billions to paper companies
Paper companies in Minnesota and across the nation have figured out how to make billions off of an alternative energy tax credit that Congress devised two years ago. Their answer: burn diesel.

This rather paradoxical twist has already ignited a debate between the paper industry and environmental groups and lawmakers on both sides of the argument in what some industry watchers and analysts are claiming is a presage of fights to come as Congress tries to detail new climate and energy legislation this session.

Research questions sustainability of Colorado River uses
The Colorado River is a critical source of water for seven Western states, each of which gets an annual allotment according to a system that has sparked conflict and controversy for decades. But in an era of climate change, even greater difficulties loom.

The scope of those potential problems is detailed in a study being published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Tim P. Barnett and David W. Pierce of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography report that under various forecasts of the effects of warming temperatures on runoff into the Colorado, scheduled future water deliveries to the seven states are not sustainable.
–The New York Times

Gas drillers must account for water use, court rules
Energy companies drilling natural gas from underground coal seams must obtain water well permits or replace the water they use if other water supplies are affected, the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled.

Groundwater pumped out during coal-bed methane drilling is not just a waste product, the court said, ruling on a lawsuit by landowners who say their water supplies are threatened by companies using groundwater to free natural gas in coal seams.
–The Associated Press

Illinois investigation of tainted water begun
Gov. Pat Quinn is demanding answers from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency about why residents of south suburban Crestwood weren’t notified that the village had pumped drinking water contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals for more than two decades.

In response to a Tribune investigation that revealed the village’s secret use of a polluted well, Quinn directed his senior staff to conduct a thorough review of the EPA’s actions in Crestwood. Among other things, the governor wants to know why the agency didn’t invoke a 2005 law requiring the state to issue a notification when residents could be exposed to soil or groundwater pollution.
–The Chicago Tribune

California begins $4 million conservation effort
Californians should take shorter showers, wash only full loads of laundry and use a broom instead of a hose to clean their driveways.

Those are some of the steps the state is promoting as part of a $4 million statewide public education campaign.
–The Associated Press

EPA to stiffen reporting requirements
The federal government will once again require companies to fully disclose the toxic chemicals they release into the air, onto land and into water.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced it was reversing a decision by the Bush administration in 2006 that reduced reporting of toxic pollution for more than 3,500 facilities nationwide.
–The Associated Press