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Articles Worth Reading: October 20, 2020

Maya Burke and Felicity Barringer
Oct 20 2020

... & the Best

Indigenous fire practices in California; Dam operators and activists join forces; Montana coal prospects dim; Statehood for the Navajo Nation? and more recent environmental reads from around the West.

By Maya Burke and Felicity Barringer

Revitalizing Indigenous Stewardship with Cultural Burning on the central California coast, the Amah Matsun Land Trust seeks to effectively manage fire-prone lands using the stewardship of Indigenous groups. In the Quiroste Valley, the Native Stewardship Corps (NSC) are working in uplands above the meadow and riparian valley that contain dense stands of Douglas fir and coyote brush with little to no understory. These stands have encroached upon the open coastal prairie grassland. Due to the dense canopy cover, little sunlight reaches the forest floor, thus allowing little to no presence of grasses and forbs. This reduces biodiversity, and threatens the coastal prairie, which was once much more widespread. Cultural burning could help restore the grasslands. The land trust plans a Zoom conference to discuss traditional Native American land management. Amahmutsun Land Trust

Environmental Activists and Hoover Dam Operators Are Joining Forces, as hydro-electric industry groups and environmental activists have publicly committed to collaborate to minimize the environmental harm of existing hydro-electric dams. This union of warring factions from industry and the environmental movement is an instance in a fledgling but growing trend of large-scale industries, joining non-profit organizations and institutions to explicitly address the best ways to counter the threat of runaway climate collapse. The New York Times

Washington State Firm to Abandon Coal, Which May Keep Coal Pollution Going in Montana. Puget Sound Energy’s plan to sell for $1 its stake in Montana’s Colstrip Generating Station needs approval by agencies in both states. If it gets them, it can meet Washington State rules to abandon coal-burning resources by 2025. Montana’s NorthWestern Energy, which wants to keep one unit of the plant going until 2042, would have more say in its future. E&E News

A Push for Statehood For the Navajo Nation comes as congressional Democrats raising the possibility of making the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico into states, voices from the Southwest are reviving the idea of a state, perhaps called Dinétah, to give the region a more powerful voice in national affairs, and increase federal payments. Indian Country Today

Reaching Beyond El Niño Observations, Scientists Examine Distant Ocean Conditions as a key think to predict Western droughts, particularly those affecting the Colorado River, two years in advance. Researchers looked at the most extreme drought years in the past 120 years and found they almost always followed a distinct pattern of unusual warm spells in the tropical reaches of the Atlantic Ocean. up to four years in advance, followed by warming in the northern Pacific two year later. Science

Pursuing Endangered Salmon, California Sea Lions Range Deeper into the Columbia River. NOAA fisheries and researchers at the University of Washington published a study in the Journal of Applied Ecology detailing increased predation of salmon by sea lions. The Columbia River is home to the Chinook Salmon Run, an extremely important ecological niche for the movement of nitrogen throughout the watersheds of the West coast. California sea lions, facing hunger in their more coastal native habitats, have in recent years begun traveling farther and farther upstream to hunt salmon. These hunting migrations are most prevalent before they depart for southern California breeding grounds. Devdiscourse

As Consensus Favoring Prescribed Burns Increases, Rates of Controlled Fires Still Fall in Washington State. Like many states in the West facing challenging fire seasons, Washington has been slow to financially invest in the requirements for effective controlled burning. Crosscut

Previously: Articles Worth Reading: October 12, 2020

 

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...& the Best

Western Articles and Media Elsewhere
Compiled by Felicity Barringer, Melina Walling, Benek Robertson, Maya Burke, Kate Selig and Francisco L. Nodarse

Articles Worth Reading: June 21, 2021

CNN Is Highlighting the Most Relevant Maps of drought conditions, stream flow and projected rainfall. CNN

Small Farmers in California May Take 100,000 Acres Out of Production thanks to the year’s water scarcity. Civil Eats

A Utah Town No Longer Issues Permits for New Buildings requiring water hookups. Oakley, a city of 1,500 people with water supplied by two springs and a well supply the city's water, wants to head off a potential crisis. Leaders at rural water associations in Utah, Arizona and Colorado said the Oakley is likely the first, but not the last, municipality to halt growth in response to water scarcity driven by a megadrought. E&E Daily

The Area of Land Planted in Cotton in the West is Sharply Reduced. Arizona’s cotton acreage is declining while California, which once had one million acres of the finest Pima cotton; this year will plant less than 100,000 acres. Farm Progress

Using AI to Stay One Jump Ahead of Wildfires. Those watching for developing fires to catch them early are turning to a powerful new partner: Since May 1, artificial intelligence software linked to cameras has been sifting through all the images of forest areas in peril, comparing them with historical photographs at a rate impossible for human eyes. If anything looks amiss, the system alerts the dispatch center. The goal is to investigate potential fire starts earlier and get firefighters to them more quickly. In the weeks since Sonoma County fully activated the technology, AI has bested 911 calls by as much as 10 minutes. Scientific American

Interior Secretary Haaland Seeks Restoration of the Utah Monuments at Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, recommending this move in a report she sent to the White House. Former President Trump reduced the area of Bears Ears by nearly 85 percent, and cut Grand Staircase-Escalante almost in half in December 2017. President Biden is said to be inclined to overturn Trump’s actions. Washington Post

The History of the Now-Defuct Keystone XL Pipeline was a 13-year arc that began with strong-willed advocates of fossil fuel determined to send Canadian tar sands south through the mountain West and ended this month with the supporters giving up the fight. As the presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said, “It went from a routine infrastructure project to the symbol of an era.” A look at what happened along the way, and how it energized the environmental movement. Insideclimate News

Federal Approval of Transfer of Klamath Dam Licenses seems to ensure success for the plants to dismantle the four dams. Salem Capital Press

A Graphic Look Inside the Strangling of the San Joaquin River and the new possibilities for some sort of renewal for a self-sustaining population of Chinook salmon below the Friant Dam. The effort has met resistance, particularly from agricultural interests. But the San Joaquin and its salmon have also shown tantalizing signs of rebirth. Sierra Magazine

Articles Worth Reading: June 7, 2021

The Wages of a Worsening Drought: Lake Mead, the symbol of the modern, settled West, will soon fall into shortage territory; tensions build at the head of the Klamath River where drought hammers farmers and tribes; the California desert is changing and Joshua trees struggle to survive. Arizona Republic Jefferson Public Radio Los Angeles Times

The Future of the Orcas of the Pacific Northwest is Coming Unmoored, as the muscular imprint of development has changed everything they depend on, from once-plentiful salmon runs to clean water. As Washington state’s population has grown to nearly 8 million and the region continues to boom with the expanding technology industry, salmon and orcas are in a race against time. Seattle Times

Returning Land to Native Control is How Conservation Groups Begin to Choose to accomplish their aims. Looking to indigenous management styles that evolved over many centuries of cultures immersed in nature, some environmental groups are becoming part of a burgeoning movement to repatriate some culturally and ecologically important lands. In 1908 the U.S. government seized some 18,000 acres of land from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes to create the National Bison Range in the heart of their reservation in the mountain-ringed Mission Valley of western Montana. Last December, President Donald Trump signed legislation that began the process of returning the range to the tribes, which manage the range’s bison. Yale Environment 360

To Kill Wolves or Not to Kill Them? That is the question that divides many western state legislatures fro their environmentalist constituents. In recent weeks, legislatures in Montana and Idaho broadened the ability of hunters and trappers to shoot the animals from ATVs and helicopters or set lethal snares. Idaho can now hire private contractors to kills the wolves. Still, the size of wolf herds is increasingly robust. Nonetheless, conservationists are pushing for the federal government to reinstate the finding that wolves deserve protection under the Endangered Species Act, which they lost in 2011. Associated Press

The Theater of Protests Over Old-Growth Logging in British Columbia. The logging is happening on Vancouver Island near the Pacheedaht First Nation’s reserve. All the actors — protestors, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Natives whose views on logging are not predictable — play their parts. “We’re playing this guessing game between all these protesters and where Pacheedaht stands, and we stand in the middle,” said the Pacheedaht’s former chief councilor, Arliss Jones. “So maybe things didn’t happen perfectly. Nothing ever happens perfectly.” A look at the ritual and the complexity of a fight over old-growth logging. Hakai

A Video Examines the Role that Closed-Door Negotiations With Hunters and Ranchers Played in smoothing the way for creation of Nevada’s Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon conservation area. KCET

Articles Worth Reading: May 25, 2021

Campaigners are Pushing Oregon Lawmakers to Impose Rules for Worker Safety During Natural Disasters. After devastating fires that exposed workers to hazardous air quality and dangerous heat conditions, California employers are required to halt operations or provide respirators when the AQI reaches 151, but without similar rules, Oregon farmers, grocery store employees, and others were exposed to an AQI of 500, the highest on the scale. Though state agencies are in early phases of drafting new rules, the regulations may not be ready in time for this year’s fire season. The Oregonian

Democratic Leaders In New Mexico Have Not Passed Meaningful Legislation to Curtail Fossil Fuel Use, despite their promises of a green future. An investigation from Searchlight New Mexico reveals that more than a third of New Mexico’s state budget comes from oil and gas revenue, and that Democrats as well as Republicans accepted large contributions from oil and gas companies. Searchlight New Mexico

California Farmers Are Deciding Which Crops to Save and Which to Jettison as a severe drought puts irrigation systems in jeopardy. That choice often means abandoning labor-intensive foods and concentrating on crops that require less water or are more lucrative. Because of the six-year-old Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, farmers and ranchers can’t depend on groundwater reserves in the future. So they are evaluating their water portfolios, attempting new agricultural techniques, and bracing for losses. That could mean higher prices at the supermarket. San Jose Mercury News

Tazlina Villagers in Rural Alaska Are Fundraising to Buy Back Their Traditional Lands from the Catholic Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau, which has put the property up for sale for $1.86 million. The church offered to sell the land to the village before putting it on the open market, but a realtor has suggested that the asking price is high and the villagers are scrambling for funds. Even so, tribal representatives remain optimistic that they will be able to make the purchase. Indian Country Today

A Cultural Group is Crafting Hawaiian Names for Seabirds after European arrivals stripped many of their native taxonomies. Climate change threatens many of the birds in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument; the nomenclature committee hopes the new names will bring new awareness and concern to these vulnerable species. Hakai

The History of Stanford’s Searsville Lake. With this podcast and multimedia piece, KQED’s Bay Curious podcast investigates the history of Searsville Lake at Stanford’s Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve KQED

Dive Into a Detailed Infographic of the Colorado River Basin with this map that explores water, agriculture, and wildfires. Lincoln Institute

Articles Worth Reading: May 10, 2021

The Department of the Interior Dropped a Deregulation Proposal from the Trump administration that would have weakened rules on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic. The proposal, announced in December 2020, was among a series of attempted environmental rollbacks at the end of Trump’s presidency and would have made it easier for drilling companies to file exploration plans. Associated Press

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon Approved Litigation Funds to sue other states that block energy imports from the state’s dwindling coal industry. The move from Wyoming may complicate the plans of West Coast states seeking to reduce their reliance on coal power. While Wyoming coal advocates have cited concerns about their workers’ futures and have proposed carbon capture technology as an alternative avenue for the state to reduce emissions, legal and energy experts insist that coal’s market will continue to decline. Denver Post

The Electric Vehicle Transition Is Driving Demand For Lithium, which could be a boon for California’s Imperial Valley. Near the Salton Sea, an Australian company called Controlled Thermal Resources has invested in a geothermal energy facility that will also expose reserves of lithium without producing significant carbon emissions. Experts are optimistic that the market focus on renewable energy and the development of the Salton Sea lakebed could align, leading to a new “Lithium Valley” in the state. NPR

Southwestern Tribes Are Calling For An End to Water Insecurity after the COVID-19 pandemic revealed severe inequities in access to water on reservations. A new report highlights the challenges faced by Indigenous communities; many lack basic indoor plumbing and running water or rely on contaminated water sources. Tribal leaders now hope to use the new report in crucial negotiations over the management of the Colorado River. Experts say that river’s flow will continue to diminish as a result of climate change, exacerbating water shortages. Insideclimate News

An ASU Professor Has Created the First Parcel of Land to be Legally Owned by Wildlife by expanding on existing legal frameworks for “pet trusts,” which provide legal protections for animals. Professor Bradshaw has turned an acre of her property into a wildlife-friendly habitat, and hopes that a practice of transferring ownership to backyard animals will help homeowners cultivate a sense of stewardship for the environment. Some conservationists and legal experts are unsure of the solution’s practicality, but Bradshaw says that the future of U.S. biodiversity cannot rest on public land management alone. Arizona Republic

Robert Bullard’s Fight for Environmental Justice Isn’t Over despite a lifetime of pioneering work exposing the unequal impacts of pollution on Black and brown communities. Bullard, a professor at Texas Southern University, recently received a lifetime achievement award from the United Nations Environment Program, but says that his work continues as a teacher of future generations of environmental and climate justice advocates. Texas Observer

See How The West Has Changed Since The Last Census in this data visualization showing population and apportionment of Congressional seats. California was the only Western state to lose a seat, while Montana, Oregon, Colorado all gained a seat; Texas gained two. High Country News

Articles Worth Reading: April 26, 2021

Governor Gavin Newsom Announced Plans to Ban Hydraulic Fracturing in California by 2024 as part of a longer-term goal to cease oil extraction in the state by 2045. While fracking does not represent a majority of California’s oil production, Newsom has described the move as a symbolic action. Environmental advocates say Newsom’s proposed clean energy timelines are not fast enough, but he has faced opposition in the state legislature toward more aggressive proposed measures to ban oil and gas production. Some speculate that the guarded anti-fracking move was made with an eye on Newsom’s upcoming recall election. NPR The New York Times

Idaho’s State Senate Voted to Allow Private Contractors to Kill 90 Percent of Wolves in the state to protect hunting and agricultural interests. The population has held steady at about 1500 wolves for the past two years, but ranchers and farmers say reducing the number to 150 could reduce the financial losses associated with wolves attacking sheep and cattle. If the wolf population falls below 100, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may resume management in the area. Associated Press

The Environmental Protection Agency Is Reversing Its Decision to Keep California From Requiring More Stringent Tailpipe Emission Controls than those of the federal government. With 13 other states signing on to California standards, 36 percent of the U.S. auto market is in states abiding by the tougher rules. The Trump administration sought to throttle California’s decades-old freedom to set standards to clean the nation’s dirtiest air. The Washington Post

Researchers Consider Environmental Impacts of the Border Wall in Southern Arizona, which ecologists say threatens wildlife and poses greater risks of damage from flash floods. Indigenous communities mourn the damage to sacred lands, which they say cannot be undone by removing the wall. The Biden administration must now decide whether halting construction is enough, or whether further action is necessary to improve conservation outlooks and land management practices at the border. Arizona Republic

East Palo Alto Residents Collaborate With Scientists and City Government to Fight Sea Level Rise in this multimedia feature from the Pulitzer Center’s Connected Coastlines Initiative. Although East Palo Alto’s budget is hundreds of times smaller than San Francisco’s, their plans to mitigate the threat of sea level rise are well ahead of much of the Bay Area. Even so, a historical legacy of disinvestment, racial segregation, and regional disparities could undermine East Palo Alto’s strategies, which include replacing old levees and accounting for infrastructure upgrades to sanitation systems and electrical towers. Experts say a coordinated effort will be necessary to keep the entire Bay safe from catastrophic flooding. KQED

Native Fishermen Compete With Industrial Trawlers For Declining Halibut Populations off the coast of Alaska, where warming temperatures wreak havoc on Bering Sea ecosystems. Crab, pollock, salmon and halibut numbers are all shrinking, but industrial fishermen don’t feel the pressure; even as they target lower-value species, they waste millions of more expensive fish like halibut as bycatch. Now, fishery managers are discussing new limits that would reduce waste and even the playing field for Native fishermen, but industrial operations are fighting the new restrictions, saying it’s unrealistic to reduce bycatch in practice. National Geographic

Anglers On The Los Angeles River Face A Tenuous Future as the city plans to revitalize the waterway with a new system of parks and cultural centers. Many destitute Angelenos rely on the river for food, shelter and refuge; the city will likely remove homeless encampments as part of their new investments. Homeless advocates worry that the new parks will create a wave of “green gentrification” that leaves out already marginalized communities. High Country News

Eastern Washington Is Investing In Clean Hydrogen Energy Infrastructure amidst debate over the alternative fuel’s viability. Supporters believe producing combustible hydrogen could help eliminate fossil fuels used by heavy emitters like the construction and aviation industries, but the technology is costly. However, the Pacific Northwest has an advantageous surplus of clean power from wind and solar farms, which engineers say makes the region an optimal place to test a pilot program. Inside Climate News

Wind Turbine Techs Brave Heights in this photo feature on blade technicians who climb and belay on the enormous fiberglass structures to perform maintenance. Patagonia

Articles Worth Reading: April 12, 2021

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland Visited Bears Ears as crowds of tourists and looters frustrate advocates seeking to restore the original scope of the national monument. Former President Trump shrank the areas of monuments at Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in 2017, reversing Obama-era protections. Haaland must decide whether to recommend that Biden restore the previous boundaries. Indigenous groups want to see the monument expanded, while Republican politicians, ranchers and miners in Utah resist increased federal protections. Washington Post

Las Vegas Pushing to Become First City to Ban Ornamental Grass. This desert gambling metropolis, whose utility has for nearly two decades rewarded homeowners for replacing grass with dry landscaping – xeriscaping – is planning to go one step further. The utility is asking Nevada state legislators to outlaw about 40 percent of the remaining greensward, arguing that there are almost eight square miles of grass in medians or office parks that no one walks on. Last year was among the driest in the region’s history; for a record 240 days, there was no measurable rainfall. About 90 percent of southern Nevada's water comes from the Colorado River, whose reservoirs at Lake Mead and Lake Powell are near record lows. Associated Press

What’s In Toxic Wildfire Smoke? To find answers, scientists chase storms and rig cargo planes to become flying laboratories. Chemists, immunologists, and other experts have begun using air and ash samples from recent catastrophic fire seasons to unravel the human health impacts of wildfire emissions, though they say fully understanding the long-term effects may take years. National Geographic

Three Interest Groups Face Off In a Scramble Over Temperate Rainforests on the southwest corner of Vancouver Island. A century of logging has depleted about 80 percent of the old-growth trees on the island in British Columbia. An anti-logging group is blockading an area near Fairy Creek. But the Pacheedat First Nation, which gets provincial compensation in exchange for allowing logging in their territory, has not agreed to the blockade, though some tribal members sympathize. Legal action is pending. The Tyee

A New Wildlife Refuge In Albuquerque will become the first urban wildlife refuge in the Southwest, officially opening this fall. The Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge promises more open space for historically disenfranchised Chicano communities. The new amenities are expected to raise property values, opening the town to potential gentrification, cultural change and excess tourism. Equitable representation for community members in the preserve will be key to grounding the refuge in the values of environmental justice, the refuge’s supporters say. High Country News

Cattle Ranchers Seek Control of Free-Roaming Tule Elk In Point Reyes, prompting opposition from conservationists. When Congress designed the national seashore as public land not only for nature preservation but also for farmers’ “cultural heritage,” it sowed the seeds of repeated conflicts. In the late 19th century, human development nearly drove the elk extinct. Though herds were reintroduced in the 1960s, the species returned to a landscape shaped by cattle. Now, it’s unclear who will control the future of that landscape. Biographic

‘Glamping’ Project In Joshua Tree Puts Sustainable Development To The Test as Airstream tourism company AutoCamp breaks ground on its first high desert tourism attraction. While its designers tout the eco-friendly features of the campus, residents worry that tourism could send housing prices soaring and that heavy tourist traffic could harm desert ecosystems. Desert Sun

Grasshoppers, Opera, And Ecological Collapse intertwine in this audio story of a Wyoming entomologist and his quest to find the truth about a melting glacier. Atlas Obscura

Articles Worth Reading: March 29, 2021

Latino Neighborhoods in the Southwest Are Far Hotter than Anglo neighborhoods, which have more trees and shade. The difference is as much as seven degrees in southern California, according to a new study of 20 urban areas. It shows the poorest 10 percent of neighborhoods are much hotter — four degrees Fahrenheit on average — than the wealthiest neighborhoods nearby. In particular, areas with large Latino populations bear an unequal burden. Arizona Republic

The Interior Department Rescinded a Decision That Had Eliminated Tribal Ownership of a portion of the Missouri River on the Fort Berthold Reservation and given it to the state of North Dakota. Under the Trump administration, a department statement said, Interior had agreed that North Dakota owned mineral rights despite eight decades of legal precedent to the contrary. Now the department says it needs to look more closely at the legality of ignoring the ownership rights of the Mandan, Hidatsa and the Arikara Nation. The Hill

A Republican Congressman’s Proposal to Breach Four Snake River Dams has reopened more than a century of arguments over the structures. Their construction violated treaties, flooded 14,4000 acres, crippled salmon runs and provided both a modest amount of electricity and the ability to barge inland crops to Pacific ports. Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson’s $33.5 billion plan to breach the four dams has renewed that debate. A look at the pros and cons of the proposal, and an advocate’s website visualizing the impact of dam removal. Oregonian Spokesman-Review Magic Valley Save Our Wild Salmon

What Western Governors Say They Care About is reflected in this summary – complete with a word-cloud graphic – from their association’s office’s report on recent state-of-the-state addresses. Not surprisingly, the most prevalent word is “Covid.” It’s followed by “Vaccine,” “Education,” “Infrastructure,” and “Broadband.” Western Governors Association

Covering 4,000 Miles of California Canals With Solar Panels would annually save 63 billion gallons of water from evaporating and provide 13 gigawatts of renewable power, according to a feasibility study published in the journal Nature Sustainability. That is roughly half the new capacity the state needs to meet its decarbonization goals by the year 2030. Wired

The West is Losing the War to Preserve Sage-Grouse Habitat. Human activity and fire have destroyed millions of acres of habitat for the greater sage grouse. A new federal study is deeply pessimistic about the future of the bird as it loses its essential range. Expanding, ferocious wildfires play a major part in the destruction, but so do invasive, quick-burning plants like cheatgrass. Federal and multistate efforts have helped cut the rate of destruction, but a warming climate means land managers are losing their fight. E&E Daily

Ways of Emitting Less Methane, both from leaking oil and gas wells, intentional venting of gas, and even cow burps, are getting new attention. New Mexico’s Oil and Gas Commission just adopted new rules to control oil fields’ venting and flaring of gas. And researchers at the University of California, Davis have increasing evidence that adding tropical red seaweed to cow feed can reduce bovine methane emissions by up to 82 percent. Associated Press Grist

As the Nation’s Largest Wind Farm Is Readied In the Wyoming Town of Rawlins, immense pride in the coal mining that used to power its economy remains. The New York Times “The Daily” Podcast

Larry McMurtry, Novelist of the West, Dies at 84. McMurtry’s stock in trade was de-mythologizing the West of early paperbacks and mid 20th-century television series, and offering a portrait that was more raw and more real. He did so most memorably in the 843-page novel “Lonesome Dove,” about two Texas rangers driving stolen cattle from the Rio Grande to Montana in the 1870s. He was also part of the creative force behind the movie “Brokeback Mountain.” The New York Times Dallas Morning News

Articles Worth Reading: March 15, 2021

California Tribes Fight A Gold Mining Project Near Death Valley which would build an open pit mine on BLM land. K2 Gold Corp., of Vancouver, Canada, hopes to capitalize on rising gold prices using a new cyanide leaching technique to increase yields. The Lone Pine Paiute Shoshone Tribe and local environmentalists oppose the project citing its impact to natural and cultural resources Los Angeles Times

Energy Companies Have Stuck Colorado With Clean-Up Costs of Billions of Dollars for old oil and gas wells. If left unplugged, wells can leak toxins into groundwater and emit methane and other greenhouse gases. Companies are legally required to pay for cleanup, but the funds they provided to the state would only cover two percent of the wells. High Country News

Butterflies Are Vanishing Out West. Scientists Say Climate Change is to Blame. As the region has become hotter and drier, butterfly numbers have declined steadily, according to a study published in the journal Science. Washington Post

Biden Shows Support for Controversial Road in Alaska Refuge. The development project in Izembek National Wildlife Refuge -- first advanced by the Trump Administration -- has been the contested in federal courts by environmental groups. Seattle Times

Oregon Has a New Carbon Cap Program. After Republican legislators walked out on the latest climate bill, Governor Kate Brown issued an executive order for state agencies to draft carbon-reduction rules that would meet the same targets. They hope to have the program running by 2022. Oregonian

Most Colorado River Basin States Plan to Negotiate About Cutting Use. Not Utah. During negotiations over water usage from the Colorado River, Utah is organizing to push for an increased share. Drought conditions have led other states in the region to seek decreases in water usage. “The goal of renegotiating is figuring out how to use less,” said John Fleck, a water scholar. It’s not “staking out political turf to try to figure out how to use more.” Associated Press

A Texas Bill Seeks to Punish Companies That Divest From Fossil Fuels by cutting them off from state investment funds. Republican lawmakers are championing the bill, even as many Wall Street firms shift their portfolios to better reflect climate change. If passed, it would direct the state’s massive investment funds to divest from companies that boycott oil, gas, and other fossil fuels. Texas Tribune

Graphics & the West

Where California Grows Its Food

See the most detailed survey ever done of crops and land use in California. It covers nine million acres of land devoted to grapes, alfalfa, cotton, plums, you name it – food for people and animals all over the world. View map »

California's Changing Energy Mix

A look at the energy sources California utilities have used gives us insights into the state’s progress in decarbonizing its electricity supply. In 2015, 35% of total electricity generation (in-state generation plus imported electricity) came from zero-greenhouse-gas sources, which include solar, wind, hydropower, and nuclear. View Graphic »

U.S. Conservation Easements

Conservation easements of various kinds cover more than 22 million acres of land in the United States, according to the National Conservation Easement Database, a public-private partnership. Take a look at our interactive map of nearly every conservation easement, with details on over 130,000 sites. View map »

 

Recent Center News

Jun 21 2021 | ... & the West Blog, ... & the Best | Stories Recommended by the ‘... & the West’ Blog
The tentacles of the West’s megadrought reach across all sort of communities and businesses; enlisting artificial intelligence to get earlier alerts as wildfires break out; the Keystone Pipeline was planned in one world 14 ears ago, but then the world changed around it, eventually leading its promoters to withdraw; Interior Secretary Halaand wants two Utah monuments fully restored, and other environmental news from around the West.
Jun 15 2021
A new CivicPulse survey of local policymakers reveals strong support for roads, water, electricity, and broadband but disagreement on mass transit and clean energy.
Jun 7 2021 | ... & the West Blog
When a historic drought gripped California and the Bay Area, water managers came together to keep drinkable water in the homes of vulnerable areas in Marin and Contra Costa Counties. Two veterans of those efforts describe the dramatic process, and consider lessons it offers for today’s imminent drought.