Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Energy bills considered by AZ legislature

PHOENIX -- The Arizona House Water & Agriculture Committee is scheduled to consider two energy bills that deserve support.

HB2491 solar energy tax credit; application (Mason, Boone, Anderson, et al.) is merely a technical correction bill to clarify the commercial solar energy tax credit program established last year and make it clear that the credit can be claimed by a third party.

HB2493 energy production; tax credit (Mason, Burton, Cahill, Flake, et al.) provides a new individual and corporate income tax credit through December 31, 2011, for a taxpayer who produces and sells electricity from Combined Heat and Power (CHP). The credit is equal to one and a half cents multiplied by the total kilowatt hours of electricity or one and one tenths cents multiplied by the total horsepower hours of power. It includes an overall cap of $2 million dollars and a limit of $100,000 on the maximum tax incentive for any single installation. The tax credit for a 1 megawatt (MW) project would amount to about $100,000, and it is likely that most projects in Arizona would be less than 1 MW and would include facilities like hospitals, hotels, schools, and industrial users.

The key to a more sustainable energy future is for us to become as efficient as possible and also invest heavily in renewable energy. Combined Heat and Power (CHP) is a major efficiency measure and is significantly more efficient than generating electricity and thermal energy separately. Some CHP systems are capable of an overall efficiency of over 80 percent. This is double that for conventional systems. Rather than just have the thermal energy wasted, it is recovered and can be used for space heating, hot water, steam, air conditioning, water cooling, product drying, or other thermal energy needs.

- adapted from Sierra Club

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Cool winter rain on Sonoran Desert brings life

TUCSON -- We're enjoying a nice slow rain today, soaking the ground.

On and off like jazz.

Cleaning the smog, soot and dust out of the air with every drop.

It should be a lovely spring for wildflowers and wildlife.

Who shot cows dead, on public or private land?

Emacs!

TUCSON -- Cattle are shot in the Reddington Pass area between the Santa Catalina and Rincon Mountains east of the city. This is sad for the owners of the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch, who are generally decent people who support conservation of Saguaro National Park.

Too bad cattle can stomp and kill baby saguaros and the overall desert web of life, but that is another story. The Star article fails to say if this happened on private or public land, which is important information.

This photo from the Star article shows a dead cow next to an overgrazed mud hole. Perhaps the shooters were hunters disgusted by the condition of the landscape so hammered by cattle and lacking of game? Or they could be Bud Light swilling yahoos out shooting anything.

Either way, the shooting is not justified, and is especially bad if it happened on private lands. Also it's clear the Reddington Pass area still has wreckreation and irresponsible shooting problems.

All must remember that livestock owners have an animal husbandry responsibility to monitor their herds. But this is not done well on most western ranches, many of which are mostly on public lands. I'm not sure that happened in this case, but it's possible. Yes, it is hard work to control and watch your livestock daily, and ranch 'guests' may not be very good at it, but not doing it leaves cattle vulnerable to attack.

The livestock industry and Bush/Cheney, Inc. would rather have people shooting wolves, although this may not be the view of TVGR owners.

As urban sprawl creeps close to ranches there will be more problems, as the folks at the TVGR will confirm. Just as Republican Pima County Supervisor Ann Day recently said, "Arizona isn't cotton, copper and cattle anymore."

But Arizona still has a lot of guns, and people who like to shoot them at nearly anything.

Monday, January 29, 2007

HB 2443 a fair start to mitigate off-road damages

Illegal off-roader on non-motorized National Forest trail

PHOENIX -- Finally a decent move toward off-road vehicle reform being pushed by off-roader State Rep. Weiers (R-Glendale). Many dems are also in support of HB 2443, as is the Sierra Club.

If this bill passes, it'll be critical to ensure the copper sticker ORV fund is used for management, law enforcement, signing, education, and restoration, and not to expand ORV use or areas. This should be made clear in the bill language.

The final bill should also include provisions for stiff fines and ORV seizure for repeat and extreme offenders.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

S. downtowners direct trucks to help quality of life

TUCSON -- The Tucson Weekly covers citizens' efforts to control commercial big rig trucks in our south downtown neighborhoods.

We don't want a scene like this in any neighborhood.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bush gas cut wise, but nukes bad & coal not clean

WASHINGTON -- President Bush made some moves tonight in his State of the Union speech.

His call for cutting US gasoline consumption by 20% in 10 years is not enough, but a rather significant step for him. Bush said he also wants higher fuel efficiency standards for cars, but didn't say how much.

GW said climate change (aka global warming) is a 'serious challenge.' No doubt, but nevertheless it is good to see this President finally catching on to this giant problem. It remains to be seen what his administration will really try to do about it.

Biodiesel, the fuel we use in the VW TDI, and other alternative fuels got mention.

For electricity, Bush seems to be pushing more big energy, big money, and big grid power with unsafe and expensive nuke plants and so-called 'clean' coal. There is no such thing as clean coal.

Despite all the cries about 'terrorism,' US support for nuke power provides a smokescreen excuse for nations such as Iran and North Korea to develop nuke weapons under the guise of energy production.

I am surprised the dems gave Bush so much applause. He doesn't deserve it. It helps prop up a very unpopular and out of touch man to give him too much unearned praise and backing. Many dems were nice to Bush tonight at the House, maybe too nice.

I did notice dem Presidential candiate Rep. Kucinich getting in Bush's ear as he entered the room, then again on the way out!

Sen. Webb (D-VA) was not nice to GW in the dem response speech. Webb's closing line of 'or we'll show him the way' was hard and on target.

I spotted Rep. Grijalva twice, but didn't see Giffords, at least not on the PBS cameras. Sen. McCain was scowling, and Kyl back slapping.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Downtown gets snow during SW's cold 07 winter

TUCSON -- It's snowing right now here at our house in south downtown at 2400 ft. elevation.

It's been a cold winter so far in the southwest.

Richardson best for West in D candidate pool now

TUCSON -- Governor Bill Richardson (D-New Mexico) jumped in to the 2008 Presidential race today from Santa Fe, as has been expected for some time.

From Texas to Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and California, Richardson would be good President for the west and southwest, and the nation.

As a very experienced Governor he has a better chance of winning the White House than anyone from Congress, as modern history shows.

Richardson should hold his own in this strong field of early Dem contenders. Bill is my top Dem choice right now, with John Edwards a close second, having met and talked with both at election events in Tucson this fall.

There are some solid Dem contenders emerging, making for a strong group and interesting primary choices for 08. Watch for Richardson to win the Nevada caucus on Jan 19 08.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Rep. Giffords shows support for County on mine

TUCSON -- New US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) seems to be backing Pima County's concerns with the proposed open pit mine aimed at the Santa Rita Mountains.

The mine would be on the Coronado National Forest in her SE Arizona district.

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords told the Star's Editorial Board this week that "the Rosemont mine issue is one that has been an ongoing concern to the district. When it comes to having an open-pit copper mine in one of the most scenic valleys, with an industry that requires an extraordinary amount of water, we don't have enough water to assure a safe supply for the growing population that we have."

Thanks, Congresswoman Giffords!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Let's keep and improve our sunny Authentic City

TUCSON -- As our city grows, it changes. We must all seek common solutions to improve our quality of life now and for future generations.

The City of Tucson Planning Commission is trying to help, and we meet tonight at 7pm in Council & Mayor Chambers at City Hall downtown.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Pima Supes all say no to mining in Santa Rita Mtns.

TUCSON -- Pima County Supervisors all voted today against mining in the scenic Santa Rita Mountains, and on all conservation lands in the county. This is a big environmental win.

Great job Ray Carroll, Chair Richard Elias, Chuck Huckelberry, and Sharon Bronson for crafting a strong final motion. Awesome job by the public in turning out to support conservation.

The County's smart position should be heeded by the US Forest Service to turn down mining on the Coronado National Forest, but remember that anti-conservation Bush/Cheney, Inc. currently run the Forest Service.

In supporting the resolution, Republican Ann Day said "Arizona isn't cotton, copper, and cattle anymore."

US Reps. Grijalva and Giffords will be asked by the County to hold local hearings and pursue a bill to withdraw conservation lands in Pima County from mineral entry and mining. They should embrace this call and go for it.

Monday, January 15, 2007

WWMLKD on Iraq war, border, pollution & poverty?

TUCSON -- As we remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today, let's think of what he maybe would do in these troubled times.

He'd agree with most world citizens and would be fighting to end Bush's failed bloody Iraq war.

MLK would be challenging America's failed immigration policies and deadly border militarization.

The very real threats to life as we know it posed by global warming pollution and poverty would also likely be a Dr. King targets for change.

Remember King, and don't forget that our action, not just talk, is the only hope.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Snowcap on Frog Mountain a desert winter treat

TUCSON -- It's cold here this weekend, and the surrounding Sky Island mountains have snow and ice. 34 degrees in downtown Tucson at 11am today.

From the snowy Catalinas (aka Frog Mtn.) you can see south to another part of the Coronado National Forest and the scenic Santa Ritas and Rosemont Valley.

We'd like to get up there and make a frosty.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Some encouraging signs from new Congress; A-

WASHINGTON -- The new Congress is off to a decent start, it looks to me. Dems are moving issues, with some GOP support.

Bush is on the ropes. But will he 'rope a dope' Congress? Like Ali, taking all the punches, but still standing as he deflects. GW doesn't really care what Congress thinks, given his ultra-executive power trips.

Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer in the House seem in control, at least for now.

Sen Hagel and other R's are critical of Bush's war escalation plans, as are 70% of Americans.

Rep. Grijalva is taking a stand, calling for removal of US troops from Iraq now. He may get the Tumacacori Wilderness bill passed this year.

Rep. Giffords must be feeling good coming in to Congress at this active time of struggle. On a local issue, she may want to speak out more for protecting the scenic Santa Ritas from foreign mining. It will be important for her to work with the Forest Service, residents, and conservationists on this controversial federal issue in her district 8.

One weak point so far is Congress not doing more now to curb global warming, a top issue of our day and threat to our future on earth. Auto state dems like Reps. Conyers and Dingell will be key. I think we will see some action here, but it remains to be seen how much progress is made toward needed 80% emissions cuts within 15-20 years.

Congress will have to fight Bush harder. Leaders should strongly consider cutting off Bush's Iraq war money fix. Congress should also put forward a clear plan to bring home all American troops by the end of 2007 so the Iraqis can settle and secure their country.

Congress gets an A- from me at this early time. Bush gets an F.

$500.00 for information

TUCSON -- I offer $500.00 reward for information leading to arrest and conviction of whoever dug up Saguaro cacti near Tucson Mountain Park.

My family and I love Tucson and support conservation and improved quality of life for all. The Saguaro Cactus is a symbol of Arizona's diverse desert way of life, and we must protect it.

Anyone with info should call 88-crime. All sources remain confidential. They offer an additional $1000 reward.

The Arizona Native Plant Society is co-sponsoring the $500.00 reward offer.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Only Iraq surge should be Congress against Bush

TUCSON -- Everyone expects GW Bush to announce tonight that he wants to send 20-30,000+ more American troops to Iraq, including more troops from Arizona.

Bad idea. We've already had 3000+ US dead, 25,000+ seriously wounded, and likely hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths. Death is not the best liberation.

We cannot 'win' in Iraq and never should've gone to war there. We need to really support the troops and bring them home to their families so they can protect the homeland.

The war in Iraq is not protecting us, but it is costing way too much blood, and likely a trillion dollars (a million million dollars), jeopardizing other important priorities like education, transportation, immigration, and global warming.

Iraq is a civil war we should get out of. It is a mess, but one we can no longer clean up. We have to let the Iraqis work it out.

If Bush/Cheney, Inc. push for their surge, Congress must say no.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Preserve Pima for nature, not gov't hobby ranches

Starved dead cattle litter the desert

TUCSON -- Tucson Citizen asked the question: Should Pima County allow ranchers to continue to graze cattle on land bought for preservation?

Ranching, no matter how carefully done, harms the Sonoran Desert.

County-owned preserve lands should be preserved, not run as expensive County-sponsored hobby ranches.

Friday, January 05, 2007

More of the best from the west for 07 and beyond

TUCSON -- Back from NYC/NJ/DC and will resume reporting here soon.

Huge thanks to Laura and family for hosting us. Thanks also to Bill, Brian, Rachel, Martin, Chris, Melissa, and Phoenix.

This site will be even better for 07, so watch it for cutting edge news and views from an unpredictable desert independent.

Quick environmental news: Holmgren's milkvetch, an endangered species I and others have worked to protect, just was granted greater habitat protection on 6300 acres for its survival and recovery in SW Utah and NW Arizona.

Here is my Wall Street Journal portrait from a 05 front page article. I just had to use it. Keep in touch, my friends.