August 12, 20172min159

In June, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that the Trump administration would give states an extra year to comply stricter ozone standards enacted by the Obama administration in 2015. On Aug. 2, Pruitt again reversed course, saying the rule would take effect after all. That’s good news for people who breathe. It’s also good for our tourism economy dependent upon clear skies and viewsheds.

The issue is tremendously complicated. Ozone in the stratosphere provides a shield from ultraviolet radiation. That beneficial ozone layer has been partially destroyed by manmade chemicals, although the hole in the ozone layer is shrinking.

At ground level, ozone is a harmful pollutant that can trigger a variety of health problems, especially for children, the elderly, and people of all ages who have asthma or other lung diseases. Ground-level ozone occurs when pollutants emitted by cars, industrial plants and other sources — in this region, particularly coal-fired power plants — chemically react in the presence of sunlight. The result is smog.

But, in another layer of complexity, ozone targets are more difficult to meet for high-elevations cities, including Colorado’s Front Range, and in desert states like Arizona with a high level of naturally occurring ozone. Wind can move ozone over long distances.

Read more at the Cortez Journal

August 5, 20172min178

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has announced officially what he said informally a few weeks ago: Canyons of the Ancients National Monument has survived the review process intact.

That decision is appropriate because multiple use is alive and well at the monument. Credit is due to Rep. Scott Tipton, among others, for continued advocacy for public lands.

Still in Zinke’s sights is Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Geographically huge, Bears Ears was designated at the tail end of Barack Obama’s presidential term, in keeping with the desires of a coalition of tribes with ancestral and spiritual ties to the landscape there. Although no management plan has been announced, Utah lawmakers feared the potential economic loss of extractive leases within the monument.

The Bears Ears designation drew long-settled monuments back into contention and rekindled anger about what President Donald Trump called a “massive federal land grab.” That shorthand ignores both the unique and threatened resources of the monuments and the fact that the government had only changed the management status of its own lands – it had not grabbed private property.

Read more at the Cortez Journal

July 15, 20171min118

At the request of Dow Chemical and two other pesticide manufacturers, the Trump administration is poised to ignore federal scientists’ findings about the risks of three pesticides.

That is politics as usual.

Manufacturers want to be able to continue selling the chemicals – diazinon, malathion and chlorpyrifos. Republicans, including Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt, want less government interference in private industry and have little love for the Endangered Species Act.

Read the full story at The Cortez Journal.

June 27, 20171min156

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke apparently has told members of Colorado’s congressional delegation that he is not inclined to alter or eliminate Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.

Both of Colorado’s U.S. senators, plus Rep. Scott Tipton, whose congressional district includes the monument, urged Zinke to leave CANM alone. The Cortez City Council also weighed in, recommending that the monument designation remain unchanged.

It is especially telling that not a single citizen asked the council to advocate for changes to the monument. That might not have been true even a decade ago, but the monument has been a done deal since 2000, and citizens’ fears surrounding its designation have not come to pass.

Read more at The Cortez Journal.