Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wry heat - a Tucson blog

Recent posts in A Wry Heat:

Biofuel from Prickly Pear Cactus
Book Review: Energy, Convenient Solutions by Howard Johnson
Antarctic ozone hole may have larger role in climate change
Earth Day predictions
Does the Chevy Volt produce more CO2 from its battery than from its gasoline engine?
Marijuana causes global warming
Rosemont copper mine would benefit economy and community but is buried in bureaucracy
Yellowstone Super Volcano Update
Death Toll from Biofuels
Observations on Mourning Doves
Jojoba oil, good on the outside, bad on the inside
Greenhouse gas regulations could cost trillions
First Image of Planet Mercury
Do not mess with Javelinas
Obama says Drill Baby Drill
Radiation Fears in Perspective
Earth Fissures in Arizona
Where the Next Big American Earthquake and Tsunami Might Occur
The Measure of an Earthquake
A Nuclear Explosion on Mars
Book Review- Driven to Extinction by Richard Pearson
Humans and the Carbon Cycle
Gasoline Prices and the Obama Energy Policy
New Coatis at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Big Brother and Fake People
Carbon Dioxide and the Greenhouse Effect
Winter Snowstorms and Global Warming
How Many Haz-Mat Suits Do You Need to Change a Lightbulb?
Science Fiction from the University of Arizona?
A Home buyer’s Guide to Geologic Hazards in Arizona

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

7 poems that shook the world

7. “Somebody Blew Up America” by Amiri Baraka
Named New Jersey poet laureate in August 2002, Baraka believes poetry should rattle readers rather than serving as decoration. Weeks after his inauguration, he recited his poem about 9/11, lines of which allege that the Israelis and President Bush had advance knowledge of the terrorist attacks. The piece rattled quite a few readers, including then-Governor of New Jersey James E. McGreevey, state legislators and the Anti-Defamation League. Accusations of anti-Semitism flew, and the governor demanded that Baraka resign. When he refused, a protracted battle ensued. Unable to fire him directly, the governor and state legislature abolished the poet laureate post altogether, causing concerns over free speech.
... see more

Montanan uses aquaponics to raise plants, fish in same circulating water

Stevensville man uses aquaponics to raise plants, fish in same circulating water

By STACIE DUCE | Posted: Monday, March 28, 2011 4:30 pm |

Ron Pifer of Stevensville stands in front of his pyramid-shaped greenhouse used to grow an aquaponic year-round food supply of fish, fruits and vegetables. Photo by STACIE DUCE

Ten everyday acts of resistance that changed the world

The rise of Solidarity, a popular movement created in August 1980 by striking workers in the shipyards of Gdansk and across Poland, caused panic in the region that had ruled the country since the Second World War. On December 13, 1981, the Communist authorities put tanks on the streets to stop Solidarity once and for all. Hundreds were arrested; dozens were killed.
Despite the tanks and arrests, Poles organized protests against the ban on Solidarity, including a boycott of the fiction-filled television news. But a boycott of the TV news could not by itself embarrass the government. After all, who could tell how many were obeying the boycott call?
In one small town, they found a way.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

New Paint born on Flathead Lake's Wildhorse Island -- first in a century

The first wild horse born on Wildhorse Island in more than a century stands next to her mother.
Read more here....

The firefighter and the kitten - great story brought to us by Gwen Florio

Brett Cunniff thought his 15 minutes of fame were over a month ago.

That's when the Missoulian ran a photo of the young firefighter holding an oxygen mask to a soot-colored, blue-eyed kitten outside a St. Patrick's Day house fire in the lower Rattlesnake.

Cue the "awwwwws" from family and friends and the local public.

But nothing is local anymore, not with the Internet.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Yes! -- Judge puts restraining order on big rig turnouts in Western Montana

Judge stops construction of big-rig turnouts in western Montana

By KIM BRIGGEMAN of the Missoulian

Its test load can come over Lolo Pass, but the Canadian oil company that seeks to haul a parade of massive loads through western Montana can't start building the needed king-size turnouts yet.

District Judge Ray Dayton of Deer Lodge County, in a ruling filed Monday in Missoula County District Court, said there's a "sufficient likelihood of irreparable harm" if Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil begins building or expanding turnouts along U.S. Highway 12 near Lolo Creek.

The Anaconda judge slapped a temporary restraining order on the roadside construction, as well as on further installation of underground utility lines, until the matter is resolved in a preliminary injunction hearing scheduled for May 16 in Missoula.

But Dayton denied a request by Missoula County and three other plaintiffs that would prohibit a high-and-wide test module from proceeding from Idaho to Lolo Hot Springs. He also allowed modification of existing traffic signals on Reserve Street in Missoula.

Both sides found positives in Dayton's decision.

"I think that he recognized the infrastructure impacts that could happen without a full review, and that it was important to stop that part," said Missoula County Commissioner Jean Curtiss.

"Imperial Oil is pleased with the decision, which will allow the transport of the Kearl test safety module to its intended destination near the Lolo Hot Springs," Imperial spokesman Pius Rolheiser said.

Resumption of the test move, which had been tentatively scheduled for Monday night, won't happen until Tuesday night at the earliest. The megaload has rested for the past week at the side of U.S. Highway 12 near Kamiah, Idaho, after experiencing multiple problems on its first move from the Port of Lewiston.

"Our plan is, pending favorable weather conditions and a couple of final signoffs that we expect from the Idaho Transportation Department, we'll resume moving the safety module tomorrow (Tuesday) evening," Rolheiser said.

Rolheiser said if the load moves Tuesday night after 10 p.m, PDT, it will reach a designated layover point at milepost 139 along the Lochsa River early Wednesday and reach Montana in the wee hours Thursday.

Dayton's ruling said no further movement of modules can proceed in Montana until all construction work has been completed.

The National Wildlife Federation, Montana Environmental Center and the Montana Chapter of the Sierra Club joined Missoula County in requesting the temporary restraining order. They're fellow plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking to force the Montana Department of Transportation to do a more extensive environmental review of the Kearl Module Transportation Project.

MDT director Jim Lynch has said the need to build turnouts of varying sizes for traffic-clearing purposes along the two-lane highways, as well as to park the megaloads during the daytime, was the compelling reason for the department to require Imperial/Exxon to complete an environmental assessment.

Critics of the draft EA, including Missoula County commissioners, branded it insufficient and demanded a more extensive environmental impact study. MDT refused, citing guidelines set out by the Montana Environmental Policy Act.

Dayton was apparently convinced by a Missoula County official that plans for the turnouts needed further study, even though a state environmental agency signed off on them.

Peter Nielsen, environmental health supervisor for the Missoula City-County Health Department, testified at the TRO hearing Friday he thought some of the proposed turnouts pose threats to the water quality of Lolo Creek.

The creek is considered seriously impaired by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, largely because of road sanding and sediment. Nielsen said 18 streams in the Blackfoot watershed in Missoula County are also listed as impaired.

Nielsen said he made a field examination of Highway 12 from Lolo Pass to Lolo last Tuesday.

"I have evidence that the turnouts are larger than characterized in the EA, they're closer to the stream, (and) they will involve more cutting and filling and vegetation removal ... than characterized in the EA," Nielsen said. "Therefore their impacts are difficult to mitigate."

He testified that no best-management practices, those designed to mitigate the movement of pollutants from the ground into the water, were mentioned in the EA, so he and the public had no way of gauging how the turnouts might impact the watershed.


In his order, Dayton said the modification of traffic signals in Missoula is not likely to cause the plaintiffs irreparable harm. The company proposes to put the signals on swivels that would swing the lights out of the way to let the loads through, then immediately swing them back into place.

Dwane Kailey, MDT's chief engineer, testified that by restraining that work it would impact a separate project scheduled for this construction season to reduce congestion on Reserve Street.

"The one (such project) that I'm aware of is Mullan and Reserve," where the city and state are planning a construction project this summer, Curtiss said. "I imagine they'll do some signal changes, so it does make sense to do things together."

Rolheiser shed no light on how further delays in the Kearl transportation project will affect construction work in the Kearl Oil Sands. The company has an $8 billion project under way near Fort McMurray, Alberta, with plans to begin excavation of millions of barrels of tar-like bitumen in late 2012.

"Until we have clarity on the next steps ahead of that preliminary injunction hearing on May 16, it's difficult to talk about timelines," Rolheiser said.

He added he's unsure when and if the company will begin work on the traffic signal modifications in Missoula, saying, "We haven't yet developed a plan as to whether we'll proceed with that work."

The lawsuit follows MDT's decision in February to approve Imperial/Exxon's proposal to move, over the course of nearly a year, more than 200 oversized loads manufactured in South Korea from Lolo Pass to the Canadian border at the Port of Sweetgrass.

They're reportedly the largest loads to ever travel Highway 12. The test module weighs 490,000 pounds, stands three stories tall and 24 feet wide, and is nearly 250 feet long. All require 32-J oversized dimension permits from MDT, which Imperial/Exxon says it was assured by MDT could be secured.

The proposed route through Montana begins at Lolo Pass and passes through Missoula on Reserve Street, up the Blackfoot on Highway 200 to Rogers Pass, and along the Rocky Mountain Front to Cut Bank and the Port of Sweetgrass.

Retro YouTube - Classic TV, Retro Commercials, Vintage Hollywood clips

Retro YouTube - you can even pick a decade from these diverse ytubes.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Fracking drinking water

Democratic report: carcinogens injected into wells
Sat Apr 16, 9:58 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Millions of gallons of potentially hazardous chemicals and known carcinogens were injected into wells by leading oil and gas service companies from 2005-2009, a report by three House Democrats said Saturday.

The report said 29 of the chemicals injected were known-or-suspected human carcinogens. They either were regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act as risks to human health or listed as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

Methanol was the most widely used chemical. The substance is a hazardous air pollutant and is on the candidate list for potential regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The report was issued by Reps. Henry Waxman of California, Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Diana DeGette of Colorado.

The chemicals are injected during hydraulic fracturing, a process used in combination with horizontal drilling to allow access to natural gas reserves previously considered uneconomical.

The growing use of hydraulic fracturing has allowed natural gas production in the United States to reach levels not achieved since the early 1970s.

However, the process requires large quantities of water and fluids, injected underground at high volumes and pressure. The composition of these fluids ranges from a simple mixture of water and sand to more complex mixtures with chemical additives.

The report said that from 2005-2009, the following states had at least 100,000 gallons of hydraulic fracturing fluids containing a carcinogen: Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Wyoming, North Dakota, New Mexico, Montana and Utah.

States with 100,000 gallons or more of fluids containing a regulated chemical under the Safe Drinking Water Act were: Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Mississippi and North Dakota.

The report said many chemical components were listed as "proprietary" or "trade secret."

"Hydraulic fracturing has opened access to vast domestic reserves of natural gas that could provide an important stepping stone to a clean energy future," the report said.

"Yet, questions about the safety of hydraulic fracturing persist, which are compounded by the secrecy surrounding the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluids. This analysis is the most comprehensive national assessment to date of the types and volumes of chemical used in the hydraulic fracturing process."

The investigation of chemicals used in fracturing was started in the last Congress by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which then was controlled by Democrats. The committee asked the 14 leading oil and gas service companies to disclose the types and volumes of the hydraulic fracturing products they used between 2005 and 2009 and the chemical contents of those products


Online: House Energy and Commerce Democratic site

Law of Mother Earth expected to prompt radical new conservation and social measures

Bolivia enshrines natural world's rights with equal status for Mother Earth
Law of Mother Earth expected to prompt radical new conservation and social measures in South American nation, Sunday 10 April 2011 18.17 BST

John Vidal reports from La Paz where Bolivians are living with the effects of climate change every day
Link to this video

Bolivia is set to pass the world's first laws granting all nature equal rights to humans. The Law of Mother Earth, now agreed by politicians and grassroots social groups, redefines the country's rich mineral deposits as "blessings" and is expected to lead to radical new conservation and social measures to reduce pollution and control industry.
The country, which has been pilloried by the US and Britain in the UN climate talks for demanding steep carbon emission cuts, will establish 11 new rights for nature. They include: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.
Controversially, it will also enshrine the right of nature "to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities".
"It makes world history. Earth is the mother of all", said Vice-President Alvaro García Linera. "It establishes a new relationship between man and nature, the harmony of which must be preserved as a guarantee of its regeneration."
The law, which is part of a complete restructuring of the Bolivian legal system following a change of constitution in 2009, has been heavily influenced by a resurgent indigenous Andean spiritual world view which places the environment and the earth deity known as the Pachamama at the centre of all life. Humans are considered equal to all other entities.
But the abstract new laws are not expected to stop industry in its tracks. While it is not clear yet what actual protection the new rights will give in court to bugs, insects and ecosystems, the government is expected to establish a ministry of mother earth and to appoint an ombudsman. It is also committed to giving communities new legal powers to monitor and control polluting industries.
Bolivia has long suffered from serious environmental problems from the mining of tin, silver, gold and other raw materials. "Existing laws are not strong enough," said Undarico Pinto, leader of the 3.5m-strong Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia, the biggest social movement, who helped draft the law. "It will make industry more transparent. It will allow people to regulate industry at national, regional and local levels."
Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said Bolivia's traditional indigenous respect for the Pachamama was vital to prevent climate change. "Our grandparents taught us that we belong to a big family of plants and animals. We believe that everything in the planet forms part of a big family. We indigenous people can contribute to solving the energy, climate, food and financial crises with our values," he said.
Little opposition is expected to the law being passed because President Evo Morales's ruling party, the Movement Towards Socialism, enjoys a comfortable majority in both houses of parliament.
However, the government must tread a fine line between increased regulation of companies and giving way to the powerful social movements who have pressed for the law. Bolivia earns $500m (£305m) a year from mining companies which provides nearly one third of the country's foreign currency.
In the indigenous philosophy, the Pachamama is a living being.
The draft of the new law states: "She is sacred, fertile and the source of life that feeds and cares for all living beings in her womb. She is in permanent balance, harmony and communication with the cosmos. She is comprised of all ecosystems and living beings, and their self-organisation."
Ecuador, which also has powerful indigenous groups, has changed its constitution to give nature "the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution". However, the abstract rights have not led to new laws or stopped oil companies from destroying some of the most biologically rich areas of the Amazon.
Coping with climate change
Bolivia is struggling to cope with rising temperatures, melting glaciers and more extreme weather events including more frequent floods, droughts, frosts and mudslides.
Research by glaciologist Edson Ramirez of San Andres University in the capital city, La Paz, suggests temperatures have been rising steadily for 60 years and started to accelerate in 1979. They are now on course to rise a further 3.5-4C over the next 100 years. This would turn much of Bolivia into a desert.
Most glaciers below 5,000m are expected to disappear completely within 20 years, leaving Bolivia with a much smaller ice cap. Scientists say this will lead to a crisis in farming and water shortages in cities such as La Paz and El Alto.
Evo Morales, Latin America's first indigenous president, has become an outspoken critic in the UN of industrialised countries which are not prepared to hold temperatures to a 1C rise.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Whiff of victory

Whiff of victory
Heavy haul opposition heartened
by Alex Sakariassen

Even before Imperial Oil's test module shorted out power to 1,300 residents and excessively delayed traffic in Idaho Tuesday, opponents of the Kearl Module Transportation Project (KMTP) detected a hint of victory in the air. More often than not, opposition groups have faced defeat—most notably last month's release of a Finding of No Significant Impact by the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT).

But Imperial began publicly shifting its focus in recent weeks, away from the hotly debated rural highways and toward the Interstate Highway System.

Calling Ryan's bluff

Obama Calls Ryan's Bluff

By Paul Krugman, The New York Times

15 April 11

Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, sounds upset. And you can see why: President Obama, to the great relief of progressives, has called his bluff.

Last week, Mr. Ryan unveiled his budget proposal, and the initial reaction of much of the punditocracy was best summed up (sarcastically) by the blogger John Cole: "The plan is bold! It is serious! It took courage! It re-frames the debate! The ball is in Obama's court! Very wonky! It is a game-changer! Did I mention it is serious?"

Then people who actually understand budget numbers went to work, and it became clear that the proposal wasn't serious at all. In fact, it was a sick joke. The only real things in it were savage cuts in aid to the needy and the uninsured, huge tax cuts for corporations and the rich, and Medicare privatization. All the alleged cost savings were pure fantasy.
Nez Perce, CSKT seek to join lawsuit against oil equipment megaloads

By Kim Briggeman, of the Missoulian:

Two tribes along the route of the Kearl Module Transportation Project have asked to take part in litigation designed to halt it.

Western Montana’s Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, as well as the Nez Perce of Idaho, filed a motion in Missoula County District Court Wednesday asking to have their say in the suit against the Montana Department of Transportation.

“We’ve got some cultural interests in the area and we really would like to know a little more information on how potentially this could impact those areas,” CSKT spokesman Rob MacDonald said.

The Nez Perce tribe “supports the plaintiffs in the filing of the lawsuit and has filed an amicus brief because the tribe believes it brings a unique perspective to the issues involved with the case because of the tribe’s treaty,” McCoy Oatman, chairman of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee, said in a statement.

If permitted by the court, the tribes will join four plaintiffs, including Missoula County, in arguing that MDT failed to analyze or disclose potential adverse impacts in its environmental assessment of Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil’s transportation plan.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Strange election discovery in -- wait for it -- Wisconsin!

The Madison Cap Times is calling for a federal probe into the two-day delayed "discovery" of 7,582 votes for David Prosser, just enough to put the election out of the range of a state-funded recount for the "presumptive" winner Joanne Kloppenburg.
Without a federal investigation - given that Gov. Scott Walker loyalists would control an administrative State Board of Elections review - we can only maintain the deepest suspicions over what is occurring, and that it may be another theft of an election by the Republicans.
You have to go back to the 2000 Florida standoff to find a figure who so matches Katherine Harris as does Waukesha County clerk Kathy Nickolaus, who claims to have made a "mistake" unheard of before in the Badger State.
As the CapTimes and other Wisconsin outlets have noted, Nickolaus kept election results on her personal computer, even though she had been formally warned not to do so. She was given immunity from prosecution in 2002 for campaigning for Republicans on taxpayer's time. Furthermore, as the CapTimes notes, Nickolaus is "a former Republican legislative staffer who worked for Prosser when he served as Assembly speaker and with Gov. Scott Walker when he was a GOP rising star."
The Republicans have already brought in the lead attorney for the GOP in Bush v. Gore to ensure Prosser gets reseated on the high court.
But nothing short of the immediate impounding of the Nickolaus personal computer in question and the ballots of Waukesha County will ensure an untainted federal investigation - that is assuming the Obama administration has the resolve to ensure that election crimes were not committed. The email from Nickolaus's personal computer - if not yet removed from the hard drive - would be valuable enough in and of itself to see if there was coordination of this 48-hour "mistake."
BuzzFlash at Truthout was publishing during the 2000 Florida election - and we can say that, based on that experience, only the full force of a federal investigation can resolve the highly suspicious emergence of 7,582 votes for Prosser, after a considerable delay, by a county election chief with a history of not following vote-counting security measures and has personal relationships with both Prosser and Walker, not to mention an ongoing history with the Republican Party as an operative.
If the White House and the Department of Justice get weak-kneed about this one, it will be like letting Bush get anointed by the Supreme Court all over again.
Let the investigation into vote fraud in the Waukesha County election clerk's office begin with experts from DC.

Mark Karlin
Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Together, as the new, we'll be speaking with one voice. Shouting, actually -- trying to drown out the talk from dirty energy and dirty money.

"I wish there weren't so many groups. It's confusing. I don't know who to volunteer for. Wouldn't it work better if you all got together?"
This isn't quite as obvious as it sounds. Different groups have sprung up at different times to fill different niches. You wouldn't look out at a marsh and say, "It would be much nicer if there were just one kind of frog to keep track of." Diversity has some very real purposes.
But there are moments when unity is essential -- and this is one of them.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dangerous days in Montana

Dangerous days 

The Legislature's about to go from bad to worse

The 2011 Montana Legislature is moving into its final weeks. If you thought there were already enough bad ideas, arrogant attacks on citizen-passed initiatives and idiotic quotes that make our state a national laughingstock, wait till you see Dangerous days in Montana.

Warming brings unwelcome change to Alaska villages

Inupiat Eskimo villagers in the Chukchi Sea village of Kivalina rely on wild animals to survive, but a recent arrival associated with climate warming is causing health concerns.
Beavers have colonized the Wulik River, Kivalina's main source for water. Beaver feces carry a microscopic protozoa that can cause giardia, known to campers elsewhere in Alaska as "beaver fever." Diarrhea and vomiting are symptoms. Kivalina hunters using the Wulik as a corridor to inland caribou herds have been warned to boil water before drinking it.