Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy


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Wind Farm Developer Opens in Broomfield

Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc. (RES Americas) was welcomed by U.S. Rep. Mark Udall and Colorado Senators Ken Salazar and Wayne Allard Sunday for their headquarters’ grand opening in Broomfield.  RES Americas is moving its headquarters from Austin, Texas, to Udall’s congressional district bringing dozens of high-paying renewable energy jobs to the state.  The wind farm developer says it plans to relocate 70 full-time jobs from Texas to Broomfield and to add 70 more Broomfield-based employees in the next year.  Operations in Broomfield began tomorrow.

More and more jobs are being created in Colorado by letting it be known that the state is friendly to the burgeoning industry.  This is good news for those who recognize our occupation of Iraq and our dependence on Middle Eastern oil unnecessarily weakens our national security.  Also, steps taken now to shift our energy portfolio from fossil fuels to renewables will keep future costs of doing so down.  It’s good for the planet, increases security here at home and is fiscally responsible.



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Katrina After-Effects: When Will It End?

From the AP:

Imagine that your home was reduced to mold-covered wood framing by Hurricane Katrina. Desperate for money to rebuild, you engage in a frustrating bureaucratic process, and after months of living in a government provided-trailer that gives off formaldehyde fumes you finally win a federal grant.

Then a collector announces that you have to pay back thousands of dollars.

Seriously?  It could be.  In the “rush” to delver aid to those left homeless by the devastating hurricane in 2005, a private contractor may have given out too much money.  Now, they want to hire another firm to try to collect the overpayments.  Between 1,000 and 5,000 cases could fall under collection efforts.  That means up to $175 million would have to be paid back.

In the grand scheme of things, I find this ridiculous as a taxpayer.  The same bungling of the Katrina relief funds has been evident in lost sums of money going to other private contractors operating in Iraq.  Those sums total in the tens of billions of dollars.  Though the entities are certainly separate, I want to hear about collection efforts being initiated against corporations that have knowingly stolen money from my government.  Make no mistake, this is the type of government Republicans love: billions in welfare for corporations & hunting down money mistakenly given to people who lost everything.  Democrats won back a number of seats at all levels in 2006 as a result.  2008 will be no different.


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Catching Up: CO Legislature Update

I’ve been busy preparing for another work trip out of town. But things don’t stop happening. The next couple posts will be a collection of things that caught my eye.

CO Legislature & Bills Update

Plenty of things happening under the dome. On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee approved HB08-1269, which would help reduce the threat of devastating wildfires in Colorado’s forests by providing incentives for products that use timber killed by the bark beetle infestation. The bill was sponsored by Senator Dan Gibbs (D-Silverthorne). I’ve detailed efforts to battle the mountain pine beetle in previous posts. Two solutions include treating the trees with insecticide and chopping up afflicted trees. It’s more expensive to cut down and chop up the trees. It might prove more hazardous to the long-term health of the ecosystem to use insecticide.

On Wednesday Governor Ritter signed HB08-1160 (more details here), which will expand homegrown energy opportunities for agricultural producers and rural communities statewide.

The science building at Auraria in Denver had funding renewed this week. Revenue from federal mining leases will be used to purchase Certificates of Participation in order to accelerate capital construction projects. The state is facing a backlog of projects as it continues to suffer under the effects of TABOR and other budgetary limitations, brought about by anti-investment zealots.

The CO House passed the 2008-2009 budget bill. If passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor, 55,000 more children will have health care and $63 million will be made available to Coloradans looking to go to college. Republicans thought those items, and more, weren’t a good idea and voted against the bill. By the way, the budget remains balanced under Democratic leadership.


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CAFE & Other Topic Roundup

Think Progress has a new feature: the Wonk Room. One item caught my attention: Grover Norquist said recently that 2,000 more people will die because of the recent change in CAFE standards. He was referring to a study done in 1993 that tried to establish a relation between vehicle weight and safety. Of course, the reality of crashes is more complex than Norquist was making it out to be. The real problem with our standards is they’re a fleet average and they’re too low. Cars sold in America can’t be sold in China because the Chinese have a more stringent fuel standard and it’s the minimum allowed. So US car manufacturers’ complaints that regulations might strangle them here will actually work to minimize overseas sales in the future. Way to look ahead.

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The rover Spirit on Mars has been given a reprieve: previously announced budget cuts may not affect the operations. The two rovers on Mars have revolutionized our understanding of the Red Planet. Their original 90 day expected life span have turned into four years of successful operations. All the billions being wasted in support of an occupation have so many other positive uses. Stay tuned.

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Found this: climate savers smart computing. Among other things, it includes what you can do to minimize the power your computer uses. After all, 50% of the power drawn is simply wasted.

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Deep Trunk had a write-up about Bob Schaffer’s non-involvement in the House while he was a Representative. Does Colorado want to replace do-nothing Allard with another guaranteed do-nothing Republican?

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Conservative chatter-boxes have been busy making wild exaggerations regarding Gov. Ritter’s New Energy Economy, saying that changing how decisions will be made will cause energy companies to leave the state in search of easier deals (prey). I never gave their statements much credence: the resources currently under the ground are far too large for them to simply pack up and go elsewhere. Turns out, the energy industry is not running away from Colorado.

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More disinformation about climate change in the corporate media. I’ll have more on this op-ed in the future.


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Antarctic Ice Shelf Calving

News just broke that 570 sq km of the Wilkins Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula has broken off (calved) since February.

This followed a 1000 sq km calving in 1998. The British Antarctic Survey group warned that very little that could stop the additional loss of thousands of square kilometers of the Shelf.

A few important notes and the relevance to Colorado follows.

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Random Pieces 3/25/08

The Denver Post issued a second editorial regarding the cut in funding for the science building at Auraria in Denver. They even correctly identify the real culprit behind Colorado’s budget woes: “Of course, the larger issue at work is the current tangle of constitutional spending restrictions that make the state budgetary process a convoluted exercise. This is another example of how worthy projects get shoved aside when revenues are projected to dip and mandated spending rules make a mockery of representational government.”

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I’m not really into college basketball. College hockey? That’s a different matter. DU, CC and Air Force all made it to the NCAA tournament. The bracket. The action moves to the Pepsi Center in Denver on April 10th and 12th for the Frozen Four.


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Random Pieces 3/24/08

Sounds responsible to me: “At this time, there are too many unanswered questions surrounding the development of oil shale. We continue to support the research, development and demonstration process now underway, but the RD&D process should be completed prior to the issuance of commercial oil shale leases and prior to the finalization of any regulations.” (Gov. Ritter’s press release regarding oil shale development.) In Republican-land, there will never be enough RD&D about climate change. Oil shale development? No RD&D or regulations needed.

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