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Breathless in Paris

Breathless movie poster

While getting ready for a family trip this spring I came across the headline, Paris Briefly Tops World Charts for Air Pollution. Yikes! This is not the sort of news you want to read about your vacation destination. Fortunately, car restrictions and breezy weather helped to clear the air before we arrived. We loved Paris in the springtime with both blue and gray skies and even a little drizzle.

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Wallow Fire Smoke at Sunset

Living in the Southwest many of us are accustomed to brilliant blue skies, 100 mile views and great air quality. But clean air isn't guaranteed, especially in the spring and summer fire season. Currently, firefighters in Eastern AZ (and soon Western NM) are fighting the Wallow Fire, which has grown to hundreds of thousands of acres. Wildfire is dangerous for those in it's path and living downwind in the smoke plume.

Who Can Put a Price on a Forest?

Tree captures carbon and kite

Actually, the Forest Service did just that (and not in the logging sense either). The USFS recently completed a nationwide study of urban trees and the economic and environmental benefits they provide. The Forest Service study calculated urban tree canopy cover, annual carbon sequestration, air pollution removal and their value for each state and many cities in the United States.

Clearing the Air, or not, on the Navajo Reservation

Navajo Generating Station - Page, AZ

1) The people of the Navajo Nation need jobs and electricity.
2) The Navajo Nation has great wind and solar resources.
3) The Navajo Reservation has highly polluted air due to existing coal-fired power plants.
4) A key air pollution permit for the proposed Desert Rock coal power plant has been remanded.
5) ?
6) The Navajo Nation's Diné Power Authority and Sithe Global Power are committed to moving forward with the Desert Rock Coal Power Plant.

Moving Images Part 1- Gobs of Fun!

Madrid, NM - Aerial view of Gob Piles

I sometimes envy landscape architects – they have some pretty clear problems to solve, and everyone likes plants. But one of the benefits of working at a large multidisciplinary design firm is that I can wander around the office and see what my colleagues are up to. Since we all speak the language of design we can usually talk pretty coherently across disciplines. I get to live the life of a landscape architect vicariously, but still escape at a moment’s notice when the going gets rough.

Desert Rock Air Permit Remanded

Navajo Woman in Gas Mask Banner

Good news for the Four Corners region and everyone downwind of the proposed Desert Rock Coal Power Plant. The EPA has been ordered to remand (i.e. revoke) the Air (pollution) Permit that had been granted to Desert Rock Energy Company LLC. The Environmental Appeals Board held that the permit had not properly considered the possibility of CO2 capture. Coal-fired power plants have many other dirty problems beyond CO2 emissions, including mercury and other heavy metals pollution. But perhaps most notable is the problem that Carbon-capture coal plants simply don't exist!

Coal Ash Waste - In Our Backyard

TVA Kingston TN Coal Ash Pond Failure

0n December 22, 2008 a 'storage pond' dam broke in Harriman, TN flooding the Tennessee River Valley with over 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash sludge. What wasn't known at the time of this man-made disaster is how many more Coal Ash dump sites exist in the U.S.A. Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request by the Environmental Integrity Project, Earthjustice and the Sierra Club the EPA released a list of 584 coal ash dump sites across the country. 35 states, including New Mexico, have coal ash dumps containing arsenic, lead, mercury and other toxins.

A Bad Day for Black Rocks

Coal Miners

What a difference an administration makes! The EPA is working once again to protect the environment here in New Mexico and elsewhere. Specifically, the EPA is reconsidering the air (pollution) permit granted to the Desert Rock coal-fired power plant near Farmington, NM. This move revisits several exemptions made to existing air quality rules and allows the EPA to incorporate its new Supreme Court mandated role in regulating CO2 emissions. I don't think we can breathe easy yet, but fossil fuel air pollution just had a significant setback.

More Info:

Good Book, Bad Cover

Sustainable Energy - Without The Hot Air, book cover

Don't judge a book by it's cover, especially when the cover is this bad. Fortunately the book 'Sustainable Energy - without the hot air' by David JC MacKay is a much better book than its wrapping suggests. Professor McKay makes a case for, of all things, a fact and number-based energy policy. The idea that rational decision-making should drive energy policy shouldn't be a radical idea, but strangely enough it is.

Is "Regular Clean" Clean Enough for your Family?

'Clean Coal' harnesses the awesome power of the word clean!

Get Clean Coal clean! by the Coen brothers

Southwestern Power and Coal News:

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