Four Corner air pollution on rise

The Southwest has been leaving a dirty footprint in recent years. A new report recently spotlighted Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico as being among the biggest culprits in the nation for increases in carbon emissions.

“Too Much Pollution,” an analysis from Environment Colorado, shows that global warming pollution in the Four Corners and nationwide is worse than ever. The study took the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Energy on fossil fuel consumption  and looked at trends in carbon dioxide emissions. Colorado ranked fifth nationwide for increases in global warming pollution since 1990. Arizona took the No. 1 position for increases in carbon emissions.

The findings were announced during a Front Range conference including representatives from the conservation group, Summit County, the Town of Breckenridge and the Breckenridge Ski Resort. The speakers called for action to cut global warming pollution and protect outdoor recreation, an industry that could be the first major casualty of unchecked temperature increase.  

“Global warming is threatening our most precious local natural resources,” said Karn Stiegelmeier, Summit County Commissioner. “These changes could mean a devastating downhill slide for our local economy. Colorado’s high country is already seeing it in more brown and dying evergreens, killed off by pine beetles that are overrunning the forests with ever warmer winters.” 

From 1990 - 2007, Colorado experienced some of the fastest emissions growth of any state in the nation. Electricity generation and the transportation sectors were responsible for the bulk of the increase. Coal-fired power accounted for 43 percent of the state’s emissions in 2007.

Just south of state lines, Arizona boasted the biggest increase nationwide in global warming pollution. Emissions jumped by a staggering 61 percent since 1990. Once again, coal-fired powered was the biggest culprit.  “More pollution than ever before isn’t a record we want to set,” said Bret Fanshaw, of Environment Arizona. “It’s time to take back control of our energy future. By harnessing the power of the wind and the sun, we can cut pollution and transition to clean energy sources that don’t harm the environment and create new, local jobs.”

Next door in New Mexico, pollution rose 12 percent during the same period. New Mexico, where more than 75 percent of power comes from coal, also ranked 11th in the nation for per-capita carbon dioxide emissions.

Telluride to host Snowboard World Cup

World Cup racing comes to the region in coming weeks. The Telluride Ski Resort is the only U.S. stop for the International Ski Federation Snowboard World Cup this year. The nearby ski area will host snowboardcross and parallel giant slalom competitions on Dec. 17-20. The local races are the second in a series of five Olympic qualification events for the two disciplines.

According to U.S. Snowboarding Head Coach Peter Foley, Telluride is a perfect place for an early-season World Cup stop thanks partly to the resort’s ambitious snowmaking efforts this year. “With the early start on snow happening at Telluride, we are getting really excited to get there,” he said. “We can’t wait to show the athletes from around the world how great Telluride is and let them experience a real world class course.”

Efforts to prepare for the event have been ongoing for months, according to John Jett, Competition and Event Services Manager. “The last of our summer projects for the event included laying the timing wire,” he said. “Both courses have been approved for the World Cup Competition.”

In the snowboardcross, four athletes will race through rollers, jumps and banked turns in an attempt to be the last racer standing. U.S. Snowboarding’s men’s SBX roster includes Olympic champion Seth Wescott, snowboarding legend Shaun Palmer and Olympic silver medalist Lindsey Jacobellis.

Frank Bell, co-chair of the Organizing Committee, remarked that Telluride is eager to host its first World Cup Competition. “These challenging and crowd-pleasing events, which will be the Telluride area’s first World Cup competition, will showcase things to come at the Vancouver Olympics in February of 2010,” he said.

More pot hunters busted in region

Two pot hunters have received stiff reprimands for illegally collecting artifacts in the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. Preston Waggoner, of Cortez, and Dawn Laate, of Cañon City, recently pleaded guilty to misdemeanor violations of the Archaeological Resource Protection Act.

On Aug. 18, a concerned member of the public notified the Bureau of Land Management that two people were picking up artifacts adjacent to Lowry Pueblo, an Ancestral Puebloan structure with standing walls and more than 40 rooms. A BLM Law Enforcement Ranger responded to the call and found Waggoner and Laate with numerous archaeological artifacts, which they had collected from the ground at Lowry. The relics were seized as evidence, and both Waggoner and Laate were issued mandatory violation notices. On Nov. 10, a federal magistrate sentenced each to a one-year ban from entering Canyons of the Ancients and a $2,500 fine. Both defendants were advised that all but $500 of the fine would be suspended if they wrote letters of apology.

Laate’s 95-word letter concluded, “Please do not remove archaeological resources from public lands without authorization or a permit. I apologize for my offense and I have written this letter to inform and assure the public so that no one ends up in a similar situation.”

The Archaeological Resource Protection Act of 1979 prohibits a person from excavating, removing, damaging or otherwise altering or defacing any archaeological resource. Persons can be fined up to $100,000 and imprisoned for up to five years if found guilty of multiple violations of the act.

LPEA boosts efficient holiday lighting

Durangoans have a unique opportunity to “green” their Christmas trees this year. La Plata Electric Association is offering rebates on energy efficient, LED holiday lighting through Dec. 31.

LPEA customers who buy LED lights can receive a rebate of $2 per string of 49 bulbs or less, or $4 per string of 50 bulbs or more. There is no limit to the number of strings purchased, but the original sales receipt must be submitted with the rebate form. Forms are available at local retailers, as well as at LPEA offices in Durango and Pagosa Springs, and on the web,

“Light emitting diodes, or LED holiday lights, are really making a difference with energy efficiency,” said Ray Pierotti, LPEA project specialist. “LEDs save up to 98 percent of the electricity needed to power conventional painted or ceramic coated bulbs.”

As an example, the 100-foot spruce tree in Durango’s Buckley Park was decorated in 2007 with 3,000 feet (120 strings) of LED lights, donated by LPEA. The total energy draw was equivalent to one 100-watt light bulb, and cost only $8 a month to light.

“The cost to light a holiday tree in your home with LEDs is 13 to 17 cents per season, compared to $6 to $10 for incandescents,” said Pierotti. “Cost is a great motivator, but LEDs are also environmentally friendly.”

Pierotti concluded that this could be final year for rebates on green Christmas lighting.  “Costs are coming down, and with the added rebate, we hope everyone will take this opportunity.”

– Will Sands




In this week's issue...

July 21, 2022
Wildlife success or deal with the devil?

Land swap approved in Southwest Colorado, but not without detractors

July 21, 2022
Tapping out

The latest strategy to save the San Luis Valley's shrinking aquifer: paying farmers not to farm

July 14, 2022
Hey, good environmental news

Despite SCOTUS ruling, San Juan Generating Station plans to shut down