Archive for October, 2009

It’s been a super busy week here at KEA — grant deadlines, comment deadlines, speaking engagements, and all-day meetings — but we still read teh entire internets every day. Here’s some interesting stuff:

Dysfunctional agencies? Really? — CPR Blog

Climate skeptics? Really? Here’s how to talk to one. — Scienceblogs (via Legal Planet)

Speaking of… The last of the flat-earthers — Washington Post

A green World Series. (Go Phillies!) — NRDC Switchboard

The best election coverage — Huckleberries Online

“A green label on status quo forest practices” — Green Inc. Blog

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The candidates who showed for the KEA forum this afternoon acquitted themselves quite nicely, with mostly thoughtful answers to mostly difficult questions. Only challenger Dan Gookin failed to show, claiming in a letter to Kootenai Environmental Alliance the he had a prior engagement. 

As moderator, I thought things went well, but perhaps too well.  On the core substance, there seemed to be a lot of agreement among the candidates, and therefore maybe not enough distinction between candidates on this particular set of issues.  I thought the incumbents tended to be more knowledgeable on some issues, but that is certainly to be expected. Stylistically, I thought a few candidates did very well in our forum, and a few didn’t. (No, I won’t say which.) Incumbent councilman Mike Kennedy mentioned his Conservation Voters for Idaho endorsement, but the rest of the candidates weren’t particularly shy about touting environmentalist leanings either, which was a bit of a pleasant surprise.

We asked prepared questions about: sustainable development, opportunities for re-development, the education corridor design, water quality permitting for the sewage treatment plant, the independence point parking lot, and Coeur d’Alene Lake. An audience member submitted a question about conflicts of interest. 

I thought there was an interesting, even surprising, consensus on a number of items.  Sure, we need to protect our neighborhoods, and Lake, and aquifer, and Tubbs Hill, et cetera.  But most of the candidates also spoke strongly about the hillside ordinance, and the need to protect our hillsides from development. And all the candidates tended to agree that the City will simply need to do what it needs to do to have the City’s sewage treatment plant comply with the tight new Clean Water Act requirements on the Spokane River likely to be promulgated soon. However, there were some subtle differences as to how candidates thought improvements to the plant would be financed.

In all, it was a good experience, I think — for the candidates to talk about difficult but highly relevant issues, and for the audience to hear directly what the candidates had to say.  We wish the candidates the best of luck, and may there be a strong turnout of environmental voters on November 3rd.

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More global warming reading.  And a potential new development for an old mine:

—  MORE global warming non-believers? – People-Press.org

 — Cool home efficiency competition. – NRDC Swithboard

 — The real climate challenge will be adaptation. States first. — Legal Planet

 — The Eternal Sunshine Mine – Down to Earth NW

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We received a letter today from Dan Gookin, a candidate for City Council in Coeur d’Alene.  According to the letter, Mr. Gookin has a “prior speaking commitment” and will not be attending the candidate forum scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday) at noon at the Iron Horse. In the letter, Mr. Gookin said he “wants to share with you my opinions and ‘green thoughts’ for the future of Coeur d’Alene”  and listed a number of positions on a range of environmental issues in the City.

While we appreciate the advance notice of his non-participation, and appreciate his positions, the point of the forum is to share his “green thoughts” with our members and members of the public. We’re disappointed in his decision not to participate, and we believe he will miss a great opportunity.

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Maybe getting a head start on Saturday’s “International Day of Climate Action,” a group of pranksters pulled a fast one on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today, holding a fake press conference to announce the fake news that the Chamber of Commerce was changing its stance on pending global warming legislation in Congress.  The Washington Post reports quite the scene at the National Press Club with “two men in business suits shouting at one another, each calling the other an impostor and demanding to see business cards.”

UPDATE:  The video is here.

Recently, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been under attack by its own membership for its hard-core opposition to the legislation, with high-profile companies like Apple and several big utilities quitting the Chamber, companies like Nike quitting the Chamber’s Board, and huge companies like Exxon, Shell, and GE expressly disclaiming or otherwise distancing themselves from the Chamber’s position. Several local Chambers of Commerce have taken different positions on climate change as well.

More locally, our friends at Idaho Conservation League and the Sandpoint Transition Initiative are holding a “Save Our Snow” rally this Saturday at 1pm at the Sandpoint city beach. The rally, along with others worldwide, will focus attention on the number 350 — as in parts per million — the level scientists have identified as the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere. We’re at 387 now.

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We hope that this might be a semi-regular feature — a set of links to some of what we’re reading. Articles or features regarding North Idaho, stuff we’re working on, or maybe just stuff we think is interesting.

But today is “Blog Action Day.” Now that we’re proud owners of a new blog, who are we to not take action when called upon?  Moreover, this year’s Blog Action Day topic is “Climate Change.”   So here’s some of the best stuff we’ve seen lately.

— Let’s call it “global warming,” not “climate change.”  — Water Words that Work

— Affordable Smart Growth? Just build more. — NRDC Switchboard

— Sen. Lindsay Graham, game changer.  — NRDC Switchboard

— Snow in N. Idaho proves doubters right. — Idaho Conservation League

— Civil disobedience on climate change, criminal trial strategy. — Legal Planet 

— On biomass and climate change in Idaho. — The Johnson Post

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You Click, We Win

Tom's of Maine

There probably ought to be a name for this new form of fundraising / philanthropy mixture. But an increasing number of corporate donors are running contests such as this one run by Tom’s of Maine. The idea is that the proposal getting the most votes on the website gets the grant. The corporation gets traffic driven to its website, and the organizations get a shot a significant grant opportunity. Win-win, right?

This past summer, we noticed that Idaho wasn’t represented in Tom’s “50 States for Good” campaign and sent in our application.  And now, Kootenai Environmental Alliance is a finalist for a $20,000 grant from Tom’s, a long-time funder of environmental causes!

We’re certainly promoting the effort, and hopeful for the grant (to replicate the enormously successful Community Roots – Shared Harvest garden partnership), but it’s a tough thing to do. We are competing with other deserving causes by trying to rally our electronic votes from our smallish city in North Idaho – where the wiring isn’t the best and where spam is king. Bigger organizations, in bigger cities, with bigger electronic mailing lists and more fans on facebook, have a distinct advantage in competitions like these.

Nevertheless, you have to play to win. So do us a favor and keep us in the running – take two seconds to vote for “Shared Harvest – North Idaho” at the Tom’s website. And bookmark it — you can vote for us once a day for the rest of the month of October.

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KEA 2.0

This past summer, we got a nice note from freshly-retired Executive Director Barry Rosenberg mentioning that among other things, he was struggling mightily with a brand new retirement present from his son.  Barry, our rugged and iconoclastic leader for about 8 years, had returned to live on his beautiful “off the grid” homestead nestled in the forest between Priest River and Priest Lake. His son gave him a solar powered refrigerator. Barry, used to regularly hauling ice to the house, explained that he was uncertain about the whole thing, and was wondering what he would do with such a device.

 And so it is here at the office.  We’ve begun to modernize our communications efforts – so as to preach more and to preach beyond the usual smallish choir. First it was a new email system.  Then, Facebook.  Recently, Twitter. And now, this blog. We’ve tried it out quietly with a few posts and we’re now going to be rolling it out to the more general public.

 We hope to post here regularly, maybe a few times a week, about things of importance to our constituency of folks in the region interested in our mission – to conserve, protect, and restore the environment in North Idaho and particularly the Coeur d’Alene basin. We hope this is a useful tool in this new electronic age, and that we can maybe reach more people and do more good.  But we’ll see. It all seems kind of like Barry’s refrigerator.

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Junk2Funk Runway ModelThe first and hopefully annual Junk2Funk show was a smashin’ fashion success!

Thanks to the artists, the models, the volunteers, sponsors, supporters, promoters, photographers, and KEA staff who put it all together. 

 Our friends at DOMA Coffee have some more pictures up on their excellent blog.

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Even the most vocal component of our local red-state anti-everything contingent should be applauding this news regarding the federal stimulus spending in the Coeur d’Alene basin.  We got notice of this DEQ press release yesterday, announcing the end-of-season statistics that show the stimulus spending has put the yard cleanup program in the upper basin nearly two years ahead of schedule. The program, which removes a layer of contaminated soils and replaces it with a foot of clean topsoil, is designed to eliminate one of the main pathways of lead poisoning of children in the Silver Valley. 

So, in more important terms, the stimulus spending means that 344 more families had their properties remediated to reduce (and hopefully eliminate) exposure to lead-contaminated soils. The modest investment of federal dollars – primarily to create and sustain jobs in the region – has resulted in preventing the poisoning of children in up to 344 households this summer.  The choice of East Mission Flats as a dump site is problematic, but accelerating the cleanup is certainly not.  Jobs, cleanup, and lead poisoning prevention – this is stimulus spending we should all be able to agree on.

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