Regulars and Shorts

Green Bits: April 2013

By Pax Rasmussen

News and ideas for a healthier, more sustainable future.
—by Pax Rasmussen


Volunteers needed for Earth Day projects

Join Salt Lake Parks and Public Lands, the Lowell Bennion Com­mu­nity Service Center and REI at the Bend-in-the-River (1030 West Fremont Avenue (1100 South)) on Saturday, April 21, 9 a.m. to noon, for a fun and educational day of giving back to the environment. Volunteers will be involved in planting native plants, tackling invasive species and trail building. The Bend-in-the-River is a two-acre, urban natural area owned by Salt Lake City along the Jordan River.

The Salt Lake City Parks and Public Lands staff also needs volunteers to help clean up a parcel of land for future community use at 2985 W. Andrew Ave (approx. 1650 South), from 9 a.m. to noon. The project on Andrew Avenue is sponsored by Comcast Cable, with participation from Colors of Success and the LDS Church.

Earth Day poster madness

If you haven’t heard by now, the State Division of Oil, Gas and Mining’s Earth Day poster contest (endorsed by Gov. Herbie) has cause somewhat of a controversy. Astonishingly, environmental advocates (and ordinary, non-batshit-crazy citizens) have taken umbrage with the theme of the contest: “Where Would WE Be Without Oil, Gas, & Mining?” (sic). And just to rub salt in the wound, Herbie refused to endorse Utah Moms for Clean Air’s “Love Your Mother”-themed poster contest. Ouch.

Where are the fracking jobs?

To make you look like a dick for opposing fracking (or oil pipelines, or just about any other enviro-damaging construction boondoggle), industry shills love to tout how many jobs will be created if they get their way. Well, according to a new report by Cleveland State University’s  Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, those jobs are just a pipe dream (see what I did there?). The study found that although overall spending rose by 21% in 2012 in counties where shale reserves are being exploited (compared to a 6.4% increase in counties not fracking), employment grew by only 1.4% (compared to 1.3% in non-fracking counties). Clearly drilling operations must create jobs, so what’s the deal? There’s some speculation that fracking could be killing jobs in tourism and farming sectors.

LA to Coal: Get lost

Although California has already decreed the death of coal statewide by 2027, Los Angeles has the state one-upped. The Los Angeles Depart­ment of Power and Water has announced it will phase out all coal-fired power by 2025. The LA mayor’s office claims that killing coal will cut the city’s greenhouse gas emissions to 60% of what they were in 1990.

LA/Cali aren’t the only ones dumping coal: Washington has also pledged to eliminate coal by 2025, and Oregon says they’ll do it by 2020.

The (agricultural) revolution is here

If you listen to the shills at Monsanto (or watch Fox News), you might believe that to feed the world, we need industrialized farming and genetically modified crops. People are starving, after all, and technology lets us make the most of every acre, right? Wrong.

Farmers in India last year grew world-record yields of rice and potatoes—all without GMOs, pesticides or chemical fertilizers (that’s right, organic). They used a method devised in Madagascar by a French Jesuit in the 1980s called System of Root Intensification. The method starts with fewer plants spaced further apart and uses less water, along with aerated soil and lots of organic fertilizer (aged manure). The only problem is that the system wouldn’t really work for large-scale monocropping methods—but those methods are seeing crop collapse in many parts of the world, anyway!

Sue the bastards

I’m normally against wonton litigation, but these two cases are awesome: An Alaska teen is suing the state of Alaska because climate change is destroying his home, and a group of beekeepers is suing the EPA for their failure to protect bees from pesticides. I’d go into more detail, but that’s about the gist of it. Hit the links below.,

Beavers to the rescue

If you haven’t heard by now, another of Chevron’s super-safe, expertly maintained pipelines leaked again, this time near Willard Bay State Park. The spill dumped 4,200 to 6,300 gallons of oil just north of the park.

Luckily, Willard Bay itself was spared—by beavers. Well, a series of beaver dams, to be precise. Two beavers themselves were captured (covered in crude) and taken to the Wildlife Rehabili­tation Center of Northern Utah in Ogden for cleanup. After a good scrubbing, they’re on the mend.

This article was originally published on March 29, 2013.