The California fires continue to burn at a record-setting pace, the worst of them along the central coast; the danger that Utah’s Great Salt Lake will shrivel into a puddle; Washington’s governor looks to a carbon tax to pay back state reserves that are committed to school costs, and other highlights of environmental news from around the West this week.
The Out-of-Season Holiday Fires in California Are Setting sad records as some, like the Thomas fire (view animation), continue to devour new territories. That blaze, which began near the Ventura County town of Santa Paula and swept down to the Pacific Ocean before heading north to Santa Barbara, is among the 20 largest state wildfires in the last 75 years. Meanwhile, researchers on the health impact of wildfires predict that the deaths in the United States from wildfire smoke will triple, to 75,000, between 2000 and 2100. Inside Climate News/Scientific American American Geophysical Union
Could the Great Salt Lake Go Dry? A year ago, Utah’s inland sea, which in places is eight times saltier than the ocean, fell to its lowest level in recorded history. A new analysis reports that half the water it held in 1847 has disappeared. As farmers in the basins around the lake use waters from its three primary tributaries, water evaporates from the lake’s surface faster than the tributaries can refill it. Water Deeply
Wyoming to Montana: When You Feed Your Elk, It’s Our Problem. A request from the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission to the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission last week was blunt. The incidence of chronic wasting disease among the region’s elk and deer, it said, is made worse by Wyoming’s elk feeding grounds. “We respect the fact that how Wyoming manages its affairs is up to Wyoming,” the letter says. “However, Montana’s ability to combat CWD will depend upon decisions that Wyoming makes about its wildlife management.” Jackson Hole News & Guide
Washington’s Governor Pushes for a Carbon Tax to Pay for Schools, a payment that a state Supreme Court decision requires. The idea is to use state financial reserves to make the payment by a court-ordered deadline, then to fill the reserve account with money from a carbon tax on fossil fuel emissions that he said will be introduced next month. Associated Press
A Different Kind of Colorado River Conflict: Mexican Farmers vs a Brewery. Do you like Corona Beer? Negro Modelo? Then you may know about Constellation Brands, their brewer. You may not know that the company plans a new brewery in Mexico, near the California border, and is planning to use millions of gallons of river water annually. The total amor ts are less than 0.5 percent of the region’s supply, the company says, but angry farmers in the agriculturally-rich Mexicali Valley aren’t buying it, and have been protesting the plan for months. Desert Sun
Previously: Articles Worth Reading: November 30, 2017