Category Archives: Drought

4/27/2011 Statement of Leta O'Daniel to Mr. James Anaya, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, OHCHR

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Scripps Institution of Oceanography: Climate Change Means Shortfalls in Colorado River Water Deliveries

EMBARGOED BY PNAS: FOR RELEASE ON Monday, April 20, 2009 02:00 PM PDT: Climate Change Means Shortfalls in Colorado River Water Deliveries:  Scripps researchers find that currently scheduled water deliveries from the Colorado River are unlikely to be met if human-caused climate change reduces run1off in the region. The Colorado River system supplies water to tens of millions of people and millions of acres of farmland, and has never experienced a delivery shortage. But if human-caused climate change continues to make the region drier, scheduled deliveries will be missed 60-90 percent of the time by the middle of this century, according to a pair of climate researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego.

“All water-use planning is based on the idea that the next 100 years will be like the last 100,” said Scripps research marine physicist Tim Barnett, a co-author of the report. “We considered the question: Can the river deliver water at the levels currently scheduled if the climate changes as we expect it to. The answer is no.”

Even under conservative climate change scenarios, Barnett and Scripps climate researcher David Pierce found that reductions in the runoff that feeds the Colorado River mean that it could short the Southwest of a half-billion cubic meters (400,000 acre feet) of water per year 40 percent of the time by 2025. (An acre foot of water is typically considered adequate to meet the annual water needs of two households.) By the later part of this century, those numbers double.

The paper, “Sustainable water deliveries from the Colorado River in a changing climate,” appears in the April 20 edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The analysis follows a 2008 study in which Barnett and Pierce found that Lake Mead, the reservoir on the Colorado River created by Hoover Dam, stood a 50-percent chance of going dry in the next 20 years if the climate changed and no effort was made to preserve a minimum amount of water in the reservoir. The new study assumes instead that enough water would be retained in the reservoir to supply the city of Las Vegas, and examines what delivery cuts would be required to maintain that level.

“People have talked for at least 30 years about the Colorado being oversubscribed but no one ever put a date on it or an amount. That’s what we’ve done,” said Barnett. “Without numbers like this, it’s pretty hard for resource managers to know what to do.”

Barnett and Pierce also point out that lakes Mead and Powell were built during and calibrated to the 20th century, which was one of the wettest in the last 1,200 years. Tree ring records show that typical Colorado River flows are substantially lower, yet 20th Century values are used in most long-term planning of the River. If the Colorado River flow reverts to its long-term average indicated by the tree rings, then currently scheduled water deliveries are even less sustainable.

Barnett and Pierce show that the biggest effects of human-induced climate change will probably be seen during dry, low-delivery years. In most years, delivery shortfalls will be small enough to be manageable through conservation and water transfers, they estimate. But during dry years there is an increasing chance of substantial shortages.

“Fortunately, we can avoid such big shortfalls if the river’s users agree on a way to reduce their average water use,” said Pierce. “If we could do that, the system could stay sustainable further into the future than we estimate currently, even if the climate changes.”

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4/3/2012 Blog posting by Wenona Benally Baldenegro: Senators Seek to Extinguish Navajo & Hopi Water Rights

Senators Seek to Extinguish Navajo & Hopi Water Rights by Wenona Benally Baldenegro, April 3, 2012 at 9:53pm. S.2109 and the “Settlement Agreement” require Navajo and Hopi to give Peabody Coal Mining Company and the Salt River Project and other owners of the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) tens of thousands of acre-feet of Navajo and Hopi water annually – without any compensation – and to force the extension of Peabody and NGS leases without Navajo and Hopi community input, or regard for past and continuing harmful impacts to public health, water supplies and water quality – as necessary pre-conditions to Navajo and Hopi receiving Congressional appropriations for minimal domestic water development. This is coercive and wrong

11/8/2011 FP congratulates Robert Sabie, WWU – EPA Announces Winners of Apps for the Environment Challenge

Forgotten People congratulates Robert Sabie, Huxley College of the Environment, Western Washington University.  11/8/2011 EPA Announces Winners of Apps for the Environment Challenge WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the winners of its Apps for the Environment challenge, which encouraged new and innovative uses of EPA’s data to create apps that address environmental and public health issues.  Developers from across the country created apps with information about everything from energy efficient light bulbs to local air quality. A few even developed games to help people learn environmental facts.

“Innovators from across the country have used information to help people protect our health and the environment,” said Malcolm Jackson, EPA’s Chief Information Officer. “The winners of the Apps for the Environment challenge demonstrate that it’s possible to transform data from EPA and elsewhere into applications that people can use.”

The five winners are:

·      Winner, Best Overall App: Light Bulb Finder by Adam Borut and Andrea Nylund of EcoHatchery, Milwaukee, Wis.

  • Runner Up, Best Overall App: Hootroot by Matthew Kling of Brighter Planet, Shelburne, Vt.
  • Winner, Best Student App: EarthFriend by Ali Hasan and Will Fry of Differential Apps and Fry Development Company, Mount Pleasant High School in Mount Pleasant, N.C. and J.H. Rose High School in Greenville, N.C.
  • Runner Up, Best Student App: Environmental Justice Participatory Mapping by Robert Sabie, Jr. of Western Washington University, Bellingham, Wash.
  • Popular Choice Award: CG Search by Suresh Ganesan of Cognizant Technology Solutions, South Plainfield, N.J.

Winners will demonstrate their submissions at the Apps for the Environment forum today in Arlington, Va. The forum will include panels on business, technology, and government initiatives, breakout sessions by EPA’s program offices, upcoming developer challenges and future directions about environmental applications.

All contestants will retain intellectual property rights over their submissions, though winners agree that their submissions will be available on the EPA website for free use and download by the public for a period of one year following the announcement of the winners.

More information about the winners and other submissions: http://appsfortheenvironment.challenge.gov/submissions

More information about EPA’s Apps for the Environment forum: http://www.epa.gov/appsfortheenvironment/forum.html

CONTACT:

Latisha Petteway (News Media Only)

petteway.latisha@epa.gov

202-564-3191

202-564-4355


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10/13/2011 Gallup Independent: President Shelly pushes for water settlements

10/13/2011 President Shelly pushes for water settlements By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau, Gallup Independent: WINDOW ROCK – Navajo President Ben Shelly was in Washington Wednesday to advocate for the Navajo Generating Station, Arizona and Utah water rights settlements, and the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project. Congress has funded $24 million for pre-construction and construction activities for the Navajo-Gallup pipeline. An additional $60 million will be made available for the next three years from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, according to the Navajo Nation Washington Office.

In a meeting with Assistant Secretary of the Interior Larry Echo Hawk, Shelly said, “We are working to keep the Navajo Generating Station open. The loss of the power plant will impact both Navajo and Hopi, other Arizona tribes, and the state.”

In contrast, when Deputy Assistant Secretary David Hayes visited Navajo in September, Resources and Development Committee member Leonard Tsosie told him that NGS and Peabody were “bad deals made by the federal government on behalf of the Navajo people.”

Resources Chair Katherine Benally said continued support of NGS, given its history with Navajo, did not look very favorable. “They took our water, they took our land and did not bother to come back and see if we were properly compensated,” she said.

During his meeting with Echo Hawk, Shelly said Navajo is in the final stages of a water rights settlement with Utah and needs for the administration “to lay the foundation for a complete settlement of our water claims on the Colorado River and to ensure water for Window Rock.”

The Navajo Nation also has been a co-participant in Tribal Unity Impact Week with nine other tribes and the National Congress of American Indians.

During a leadership meeting Tuesday, Shelly told tribal leaders, “Be united as one. I’m talking about uniting right now. We’re not on the same page. We need to get serious. We are going to build a United Nation of Indians.”

He referred to proposed twin office towers planned for Window Rock with a price tag of around $45 million. “If you want to work with us, that’s where we’re going to be,” he said.

He addressed sovereignty and self-sufficiency as part of his vision of economic prosperity, including needed changes to federal laws and policies which will reduce bureaucratic red tape to allow tribes to develop their resources, take control of land, and expand business opportunities.

“We can’t sit here every day and say ‘trust responsibility,’” he said.

Meeting with the Nation’s congressional leaders on proposed funding reductions for tribal programs, Shelly said, “Reducing funding for tribes would cruelly punish a vulnerable segment of the U.S. population.”

The president spoke with congressmen on funding concerns for Navajo Housing Authority, transportation, Navajo Abandoned Mines Lands, the proposed Arizona water rights settlement, Head Start, the Utah Navajo Trust Fund, and uranium cleanup on Navajo land.

Later, Shelly and a delegation from Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency met with U.S. EPA.

10/8/2011 Gallup Independent: Udall urges continued cleanup of area's legacy uranium sites

10/8/2011 Udall urges continued cleanup of area’s legacy uranium sites By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau, Gallup Independent: WINDOW ROCK – U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., received commitments Thursday from three federal agencies that they will continue to work together to clean up uranium contamination on the Navajo Nation. Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Energy, and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission testified on the status of cleanup operations at legacy uranium mining and milling operations. The testimony was presented during a federal oversight hearing before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Children’s Health and Environmental Responsibility, which Udall chairs. The senator stressed that each agency continue ongoing cleanup projects and commit to providing necessary funding for the Five-Year Plan for the Navajo Nation begun in 2007 and a Five-Year Plan begun last year for the Grants Mining District.

“Recently, the Navajo Nation informed EPA that they intend to request a second five-year review plan,” James Woolford, director of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation, said. “The agency plans to work with the Navajo Nation and our colleagues to put together that plan over the next year.” EPA is the lead federal agency for the cleanup plan.

EPA has been obligating about $12 million per year for Navajo cleanup efforts. However, the federal government is operating under a continuing resolution so EPA cannot commit to a particular figure for the upcoming year, he said.

David Geiser, director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Legacy Management, said DOE contributes about $4 million for the four legacy uranium mill sites it monitors on Navajo. In 2009, DOE received a $5 million special appropriation for cleanup of the Highway 160 site outside of Tuba City. That work was completed in August, he said.

Udall applauded EPA for its recent announcement of an approved plan to clean up the Northeast Churchrock Mine, the highest-priority abandoned uranium mine on the Navajo Nation, and also raised concerns about Tuba City contamination.

“Since 1995 there have been more than 35 studies conducted on the Tuba City Open Dump,” Udall said. He asked whether they knew the source of contamination or whether there was a cleanup plan.

Woolford said the Hopi Tribe submitted a study to EPA in August which concluded there was groundwater contamination adjacent to the dump. “We’re currently reviewing it and we have plans to meet with the tribe at the end of October to go over the study.”

He said EPA has an enforceable agreement with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to conduct a comprehensive investigation and feasibility study to ascertain whether the dump is contaminating the groundwater. “The groundwater is contaminated. Everyone knows that. We are not 100 percent sure of the source,” he said.

“Does the Tuba City Open Dump site pose a threat to drinking water for the Navajo Nation or the Hopi Tribe?” Udall asked.

“Yes, we believe it does,” Woolford said, however a cleanup remedy is contingent on the outcome of the BIA study.

Geiser said both Navajo and Hopi believe mill tailing material was disposed of in the open dump and that it is the source of the uranium contamination, but he said there is no evidence to support that claim. “There have been over 200 borings taken of the open dump, and none of them found mill material,” he said.

DOE also doesn’t believe there is a hydrological connection between the Tuba City uranium mill tailings disposal cell and the Moenkopi village wells, Geiser said.

Udall asked for further details on the Northeast Churchrock cleanup and a potential time-line. Woolford said they ultimately chose “a pretty simple remedy,” which is to move more than 870,000 cubic yards of contaminated waste rock and more than 100,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil “almost across the street” to the United Nuclear Corp./General Electric Superfund site.

Beginning this fall, community members will be offered relocation opportunities, according to Woolford. Clancy Tenley of EPA Region 9 said Monday that residents could take a temporary move-out of their house during the cleanup, “but that would be in a hotel for potentially years,” or they could take advantage of an EPA “cash-out” offer for a permanent residence of comparable value.

Geiser said EPA approached DOE about two years ago with the idea of combining mine waste with the mill waste. “For the last 10 to 12 years, the department has agreed to accept non-mill waste in the disposal cells under certain conditions,” he said. Northeast Churchrock would be the “single largest volume” of that type material to be put in a disposal cell.

NRC’s Weber said they will prepare an environmental assessment to support a revision to the reclamation plan for UNC’s tailings impoundment and there will be opportunity for public comment on the UNC license amendment. Barring any legal challenges or glitches, cleanup could be done by 2018 or 2019 with DOE’s Legacy Management as the ultimate overseer.

Video: Fukushima Now Radiating Everyone: 'Unspeakable' Reality 'Will Impact All Of Humanity'

US EPA NEJAC Public Meeting 10/25-10/26/2011 Albuq, NM

National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) Public Meeting 10/25-10/26/2011, Albuquerque, NM: Registration is Now Open: The next face-to-face meeting of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) will be held at the Albuquerque Marriott Hotel, 2101 Louisiana Boulevard, NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87109, on October 25 and 26, 2011. The meeting will include a public comment period.

Meeting Registration: Registration is required for everyone (including U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] and other federal employees). Advance registration closes at Noon Mountain Time on Friday, October 7, 2011. Meeting materials will be prepared based on the number of participants who have pre-registered by that date.

On-site registration will be available; however, meeting materials will be distributed first to those who registered in advance. Any remaining materials will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

There are four easy ways to register:

  • Online: Click here (link) to register online.
  • By E-mail: Send an e-mail to Meetings@AlwaysPursuingExcellence.com with “Register for the NEJAC October 2011 Meeting” in the subject line. Please provide your name, , organization, mailing address (including city, state, and zip code), e-mail address, and telephone number for future follow-up as necessary.
  • By Fax: Print the web page containing the registration form and fax to 877-773-0779.
  • By Phone: Leave a message at 877-773-0779 . Please provide your name, job title, organization, mailing address, e-mail address, and telephone number for future follow-up as necessary.
  • Non-English speaking attendees wishing to arrange for a foreign language interpreter also may make appropriate arrangements by calling the number above.

Hotel Reservations: A limited number of rooms have been reserved at the prevailing government rate, under the group code “EPA-NEJAC.” If you are planning to stay at The Albuquerque Marriott for the meeting, you must contact the hotel directly to reserve your room. Call 1-800-334-2086 or by visiting the website http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/abqnm-albuquerque-marriott/?toDate=10/29/11&groupCode=epaepaa&fromDate=10/22/11&app=resvlink. To be eligible for the negotiated room block rate, you must contact the hotel no later than Tuesday, October 11 at midnight.

Public Comment Sign-Up: Members of the public who wish to speak during the Public Comment period should pre-register by Noon Mountain Time on Friday, October 7, 2011. To accommodate the large number of people who want to address the NEJAC, only one representative of a community, organization, or group will be allowed to speak. (On-site public comment sign-up will also be available; however, those who sign-up in advance will be called to speak first.)

Written comments also can be submitted for the record. The suggested format for individuals providing written public comments is as follows:

  • name of speaker
  • name of organization/community
  • city and state
  • e-mail address
  • a brief description of the concern, and what you want the NEJAC to advise EPA to do

Written comments received by Noon Mountain Time on Friday, October 7, 2011, will be included in the materials distributed to the members of the NEJAC. Written comments received after that time will be provided to the NEJAC as time allows. All written comments should be sent to Meetings@AlwaysPursuingExcellence.com.

You may also be interested in…
The Federal Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Environmental Justice will conduct a community dialogue on Monday, October 24, 2011. Information regarding meeting details will be provided at a later date.

For more information, please contact EPA Support Contractor, APEX Direct Inc., at 877-773-0779 or Meetings@AlwaysPursuingExcellence.com.

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AlertNet: World dragging its feet over Horn of Africa crisis-UNHCR

Displaced women wait to receive non-food items from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees at the Maajo settlement for the internally displaced people in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, August 31, 2011. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoy”]World dragging its feet over Horn of Africa crisis-UNHCR By Katie Nguyen LONDON (AlertNet): The head of the U.N. refugee agency has criticised the international community for being slow to react to a deterioration in the Horn of Africa hunger crisis, which he called the worst emergency he had seen at the helm of the organisation. More than 13 million people face severe hunger across East Africa. Somalia is at the epicentre of the crisis, with 750,000 people facing imminent starvation. Many of the famine-hit areas are controlled by Islamist militant group al Shabaab which has refused to allow food shipments.

Aid workers and critics say that despite a string of early warnings about drought and failed rains in the region, the world reacted too slowly to the crisis, which has been months if not years in the making.

“All of us could see this escalation coming from a long way away. Nonetheless, we, the international community, were slow to react to signs that things were starting to deteriorate,” Antonio Guterres told an annual meeting of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) governing executive committee in Geneva on Monday.

“What is worse, we also didn’t have the capacity to prevent them from getting this bad in the first place,” he said in a statement.

U.N. high commissioner for refugees since 2005, Guterres used his speech to again highlight what many U.N. officials expect to be the increasingly unpredictable nature, frequency and severity of tomorrow’s humanitarian crises.

He also appealed to UNHCR’s executive committee, which reviews and approves the agency’s programme and budget, for a better understanding of the need for more funding flexibility, especially for neglected refugee crises.

Last year 82 percent of donor funding was partly or tightly restricted to specific situations or issues, UNHCR said.

With the economic slowdown in many countries prompting a greater demand for value for money, Guterres outlined how UNHCR had cut its headquarters costs to 9 percent from 14 percent of overall expenditure and staff costs to 27 percent from 41 percent.

UNHCR also said it increased its emergency stockpiles in 2011 by 20 percent, increased the number of senior staff on standby for rapid deployment and created new posts to help refugee protection. The agency said it aims to be able to respond within 72 hours to simultaneous emergencies affecting up to 600,000 people.

10/3/2011 World Habitat Day Focus: population growth, urbanization, climate change

10/3/2011 World Habitat Day: “This year, World Habitat Day falls during the month when demographers predict our planet’s seven billionth inhabitant will be born. The future that this child and its generation will inherit depends to a great degree on how we handle the competing pressures of growing population growth, urbanization and climate change.” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Message on World Habitat Day, 2011: In Resolution 40/202 of 17 December 1985, the UN General Assembly designated the first Monday of October of every year as World Habitat Day. In 2011, World Habitat Day is commemorated on 3 October.

In 2011, the theme of World Habitat Day is Cities and Climate Change. The effects of urbanization and climate change are converging in dangerous ways. The results of this convergence threaten to have unprecedented negative impacts on quality of life, and economic and social stability.

However, alongside these threats is an equally compelling set of opportunities. Although urban areas, with their high concentration of population, industries and infrastructure, are likely to face the most severe impacts of climate change, urbanization will also offer many opportunities to develop cohesive mitigation and adaptation strategies to deal with climate change. The populations, enterprises and authorities of urban centres will be fundamental players in developing these strategies.

Source: Cities and Climate Change: Global Report on Human Settlements 2011