Obama Launches a Plan for Climate Change Mitigation

President Obama delivered a speech at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. on June 25, 2013 that served as his first motion against global climate change. In his speech, Obama referenced Hurricane Sandy, the Midwest drought, and warming in Alaska. He said, "As a president, as a father and as an American, I'm here to say, 'We need to act.'" The White House was given jurisdiction over power plant emissions in a Supreme Court ruling from 2007. Obama enlisted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to write the first ever carbon emission regulations for U.S. power plants— which produce one third of the nation’s total greenhouse gases. The EPA previously decided on a maximum of 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per every megawatt-hour of energy produced, a figure difficult to attain without incorporating new technologies like carbon capture and storage. Obama charged the EPA to implement this carbon limit on new power plants and work on developing regulations for existing power plants. Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, called power plant carbon-emissions standards "the single most important thing we can do, as a nation, to confront this widening scourge" of climate change.

Dissent was quick to arrive. Representatives from the coal industry argued that the regulations would curb economic growth and raise the price of energy. Prior to the address, seven U.S. governors (including two democrats) asked the president to reconsider coal regulations. Obama refuted the arguments by citing successes of previous environmental regulations pertaining to chemicals, fuel economy, and ozone depletion. Obama said, "Don't bet against American workers. Don't tell folks that we have to choose between the health of our children or the health of our economy."

Coal fueled power has already dropped from 50% of all U.S. electricity in 2005 to 40% today, according to EIA data. The energy sector has shifted toward natural gas and renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar. The new restrictions will accelerate the transition from coal. Kenneth Medlock, director of the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University’s Baker Institute claims that although we will stop burning as much coal, it will be exported to Asia and Europe.

Obama briefly discussed the future of the Keystone XL Pipeline that would carry tar sands oil from Canada to refining centers in Texas. The issue has been highly publicized but Obama did not declare a strong position. He said the U.S. State Department is finishing an analysis of whether the pipeline is in the nation’s best interest, but climate change will be a key consideration.  


Pikes Peak or Bust
  • Pikes Peak is the most visited mountain in North America and the second most visited mountain in the world behind Japan's Mount Fuji.
  • In 1893, Katharine Lee Bates, an English teacher at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, agreed to take a summer teaching position at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. Following a Pikes Peak ascent, she wrote what nearly became our national anthem, "America the Beautiful.”
  • Pikes' summit is 14,115 feet above sea level.
  • The climb up Pikes Peak is the longest of any Colorado fourteeners and has the greatest elevation gain: 7,400 feet in 13 miles.
  • About 15,000 people a year attempt to climb Pikes Peak on foot and another half a million reach the summit via the Pikes Peak Highway or Cog Railway.
  • Pikes Peak is the easternmost of the big mountains in the Rocky Mountain chain, which made it popular amongst early explorers and pioneers. “Pikes Peak or Bust” became the slogan of the 1859 Gold Rush to Colorado.

Have you been doing as much hiking as you’d hoped this summer? We’ve got about two months left, see how many more times you can get out and enjoy the amazing setting in which we live. Click here for GPS maps, descriptions and relevant information on the plethora of good trails in the area!

More on the history of Pikes Peak can be found here and here...

Colorado?s Million Solar Roofs Campaign

Environment Colorado launched a new campaign to advertise the potential of solar energy in Colorado. With over 300 days of sunshine, Colorado is a prime location to utilize solar energy—which produces very few emissions and externalities. As solar infrastructure is being developed more and more, the costs are falling and it is becoming a viable option for Colorado. Each year, we release 40 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by burning coal and natural gas to produce electricity-- altering our climate and putting public health at risk. Colorado’s Million Solar Roofs campaign hopes to reach 10% of all electricity from solar by 2030, whereas now only 1% of our energy comes from solar. 10% of solar electricity is the equivalent of 3 Gigawatts or, a million solar roofs.

So far, over 240 businesses, organizations, and community leaders have endorsed the campaign. Environment Colorado claims, “Colorado could be doing much more to harness the sun’s power and make solar a central player in the State’s energy strategy. Analyses have shown that by 2030, solar power can help Colorado avoid 3.6 million metric tons of global warming pollution and would help protect public health by reducing harmful air pollution from the state’s fossil fuel-fired plants. Meeting the goal would be the equivalent of taking 900,000 vehicles off the road.” The campaign has been headed by school districts, police stations, and corporations throughout the state encouraging Governor Hickenlooper to sponsor to the new standard. 

Colorado Springs Housing Market On the Rise

During the first half of 2013, Colorado Springs saw an increase of local home construction and a decrease in foreclosures—a good sign for the economy, according to The Gazette. “Single-family home building permits issued in the Springs and El Paso County totaled 1,492 from January through June, up nearly 46 percent over the same period last year, according to the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department.” It was the best half year since 2006. Job growth, the area's unemployment rate, and motor vehicle sales have also improved, showing an optimistic trend in consumer confidence. New home buildings generate revenue for construction companies and subcontractors, who employ various sectors throughout in the City. The City collects sales taxes from the new building materials which then go to help pay for roads, parks and other government services.

If you or someone you know is planning on building or renovating, please look into Energy Star appliances and making your house as sustainable as possible. Remember Green is Green ($$$).

A Green Red, White and Blue Barbeque

Independence Day is right around the corner. In the spirit of celebration and patriotism, keep in mind that our actions will affect future American generations. Here are a few 4th of July BBQ tips that keep with tradition while lessening environmental impact.

  1. Choose healthy meats/have meat free options- Meat preparation is more carbon and water intensive than a vegetarian menu, but if you are planning on grilling meat, look for grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, and wild-caught or organically farmed seafood. Grilled vegetarian options include: pineapple, portabello mushrooms, asparagus, eggplant, peppers, tofu etc.
  2. Grill Safely- Gas grills are cleaner and more energy efficient than charcoal grills which contain carbon monoxide and other harsh chemicals. Grilling with the lid down is more efficient and heats the food more evenly. Plan portions to avoid wasting food.
  3. Serving well- If your standard cutlery is insufficient to serve guest, invest in recyclable or biodegradable plates, cups and silverware. SOLO cups can be recycled and unused tablecloths can be cut into reusable cloth napkins.
  4. Drink Responsibly- These breweries craft some tasty beer and are environmentally conscious.
    • Sierra Nevada - This second largest craft brewery in the nation is nearly 100 percent solar-powered, utilizing a system of solar grids with the capability of producing 1.4 megawatts of AC power. The overall hope of this Chico, California-based brewing company is that the surplus energy created by their system will eventually be made available to neighboring businesses that rely on an overloaded power grid. As a participant and signer of the California Climate Action Registry, Sierra Nevada also works with a consortium of green businesses to track, report, and reduce greenhouse emissions statewide.
    • New Belgium - This Fort Collins, Colorado-based brewery is 70 percent wind-powered. The plant has also developed an alternative power source for the remaining 30 percent of its sustainable energy by reclaiming wastewater, cultivating its bacteria, and combusting the methane. In addition, the brewery cleans and re-filters the water during the cooling process of brewing, and then gives the water back to the city for residential use.
    • Brooklyn Brewery - This 100 percent wind-powered facility, located in Brooklyn, New York, produces about 1.6 million gallons of beer each year and saves 335,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.
    • Great Lakes Brewing Company - This Cleveland, Ohio-based, environmentally-progressive brewery has instituted a “Zero Waste Initiative” aimed at making use of the by-products generated from the brewing process. The hope of Great Lakes' management is that eventually 100 percent of the brewery's resources will be used in a closed loop, subscribing to the maxim: “Take, Make, Remake.” Additionally, their delivery trucks run on vegetable oil, all their packaging is recyclable, they support sustainable urban renewal projects, and they only use water from the Great Lakes region.
    • More eco-breweries...
  5. A Clean Clean-Up- Set out recycle bins before the party starts and let your guests know that you’d like for all recyclable to be disposed of properly. Store leftovers in reusable containers and compost food scraps. You can also compost natural charcoal remnants.

** All types of fireworks with a fuse and or requiring a flame for ignition are ILLEGAL in Colorado Springs.**

July 17th Lunch-n-Learn

Saving Our Water: 2013 Drought Response

Presentation by Julia Gallucci

The City’s next Green Bag Lunch-n-Learn to take place on WEDNESDAY, July 17th will cover the climate and hydrological conditions which have lead to historic and our current water shortage and what our community is doing about it. We will touch upon hot topics such as rainwater use, and other political and personal choices that affect supply. We also will discuss best water saving practices for individuals and the rebates and incentives available to Colorado Springs Utilities water customers.

Julia Gallucci is the drought project manager for Colorado Springs Utilities. In this capacity she's responsible for supporting the comprehensive implementation of the drought response plan. She also manages the water education program with a goal of improving the value perceptions around water in our community through youth and adult education, community collaboration and partnerships.

The Lunch-n-Learn will run over the noon lunch hour, from 12:11 to 12:49 p.m., at the City Administration Building, 30 S. Nevada, in Conference Room 102 on the first floor. Attendees are encouraged to bring and enjoy their lunches during the presentation. Those who come have the opportunity to win a door prize tote bag made from reused City banners. 

Each month, the City sponsors a lunch-n-learn topic on an environmental issue. Questions? Contact Ellery Miller at 719-385-5286 or efmiller@springsgov.com

Going Greener

July 4, 2013: Independence Day presented by Colorado Springs Philharmonic Orchestra at Memorial Park- Colorado Springs’ traditional “Fabulous Fourth” will include food, drink, and fun for the whole family. This year's celebration will conclude with a fireworks show in safe hands. 

July 5, 2013: First Friday at Cottonwood on Tejon Gallery- come appreciate amazing art, food, and community downtown this Friday. 

July 6-7, 2013:  VegFest Colorado 2013- VegFest Colorado 2013 is a health and environmental fair supporting a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Activities for the whole family. Learn from experts on health, diet and environmental issues, about the advantages of embracing a compassionate, cruelty-free plant-based lifestyle. Held at the held at Jefferson County Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall.

July 14-19: Summer Community Art and Mural Program Alpine Autism Mural- Free participation in a beautification project in Colorado Springs. 

July 16, 2013: Tour of Tough Plants at the Xeriscape Garden- CSU Conservation wants to show you what low-water plants look like in their mature form, point out solutions to common landscape challenges and highlight eye-catching plant combinations.