For a Healthier Planet and People: Don’t Have a Cow, Man

2013-07-05 12.02.27Numerous questions have been raised in recent years about animal-based farming and the consequences for people, the environment, and the animals themselves. The news about pending recommendations to eat less meat for environmental reasons may now bring this issue to the front page. Continue reading

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Recycled Thoughts

The following are some important ideas regarding recycling in the border region by guest contributor Dr. Marshall Carter-Tripp:

Smiley-5copy_zpsa902abb2Recent travels in the West/Northwest and into Alberta took me to several national parks, and to small cities and towns along the way, many in very isolated areas. It was interesting to discover that recycling exists in places where there is no Internet or cell phone coverage! For example, the lodging areas of Yellowstone National Park have many strategically placed recycling bins, and each cabin had separate trash and recycling baskets. Accommodations at Flagg Ranch, between Yellowstone and Glacier, also had these recycle bins and separate containers in the rooms. Hotels in some towns, such as the Hampton Inn in Butte, Montana, offered recycling. As we returned, we found the Riverbend Hot Springs in Truth or Consequences was in the group, and its recycling included glass. Continue reading

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Where Have All The Rivers Gone?

shutterstock_107999030 The US The US southwest and west are experiencing severe drought – in some cases, perhaps, the worst ever recorded.  For example, in California experts have characterized it as a 500-year drought.   Over 40,000 people in California will have no water supplies in the next few months, and state officials acknowledge the figure will rise.  While this is a drought-driven problem failure to anticipate and prepare for drought is also playing a role . This is a major threat to the farming industry of the state – and to the agricultural production of the US as a whole given that California’s output is a substantial portion of US total output.   Winter-based industries such as ski resorts are also facing a declining future as snowpack falls – only 15% of normal in the Sierra Nevada, to take one US example.   (This is happening worldwide, highlighted this year by the Winter Olympics in Russia, made possible only by saving snow from last year and by massive snow-making.) Continue reading

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Save the Stacks–Last Chance, Part II

Asarco stacksIn previous blogs concerning the Asarco stacks slated for demolition in early April we focused on the historical and cultural issues surrounding the Asarco stacks and surrounding property.   In this article we look at serious new issues related to environmental and health concerns that arise from the Trustee’s decision to bury the contaminated stack remains onsite.  This has the potential for spreading the toxic wastes into the groundwater and Rio Grande water basin adjacent to the site.  This will have profound impacts not only for US residents downstream along the Rio Grande river but for Mexico and Mexico’s citizens who strongly rely on these waters for their uses as well.   These concerns are just now being raised as regional leaders become increasingly aware of the details surrounding environmental remediation plans to “clean up” the Asarco site and the potential for a long term environmental  and health disaster should they be carried out. Continue reading

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Save the Stacks–Last Chance!

Asarco-Concept

Conceptual vision of mixed use of ASARCO property

We wrote in an earlier article (“Save the ASARCO Stacks–Create a Sustainable Future“) of the historical and economic importance of preserving the smoke stacks associated with the now closed industrial complex just off Interstate-10 near downtown El Paso, TX.  We discussed possible mixed uses of the property, including academic research,  a “Green Technology” research park, an international cultural heritage museum,  and outdoor recreational uses of the property all centered around the cultural and historical heritage represented by the stacks.  A small, non-profit organization—Save the Stacks –has led the fight to keep these iconic structures as part of our border skyline.  Made up of concerned El Pasoans  with no political or commercial interests in the stacks or the approximate 400 acres on which they stand, Save the Stacks has advocated using the stacks as part of a monument dedicated to all the individuals impacted by the regional industries and activities represented by them.  However their backs are against the proverbial “wall” as they must convince authorities to stop current plans for the stacks imminent demolition in early April.  This is the last chance to save the stacks or they will be destroyed and a bit of our border’s history lost forever! Continue reading

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Re-Energize the Americas–Focus on Border Energy, Water and Economic Development

The Water-Energy Nexus

Over two hundred attendees are expected at next week’s Re-Energize the Americas conference being held in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  The event being held on October 17-18 will not only focus on important facets of energy issues, including most aspects of conventional and alternative energy important to the border region, but will discuss the important interlinks between energy and water as well as opportunities for innovative economic development critical to the Americas. Continue reading

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Energy Issues of the US-Mexico Border Region

The following article by guest contributor Dr. Jim Peach is part of a series of articles focused on energy issues of importance to our region and as part of a lead up to the 2nd Annual Re-energize the Americas conference being held on Oct 17 & 18th, 2012 at the Las Cruces, NM Convention Center.

As Abbas Ghassemi, my colleague at New Mexico State University, pointed out in an earlier blog, energy issues are always complex.  In part, this complexity stems from the fact that energy issues are always intertwined with other complex issues –economic growth, technological change, population growth, environmental issues, and political stability.

The international border creates additional complexity for energy issues in the border region. San Diego and Tijuana (or El Paso and Juárez) are cities in two different nations but anyone living in the border region can explain that they have more in common than geographic proximity.  Interactions across the border include workers who commute, trade flows, cross-border investments, families in which some members live on one side of the border while others live in el otro lado.  Traffic flows and long lines at border crossings are almost daily reminders of cross-border interaction.  Continue reading

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Cyber Security in Utilities–What Can We Do?

The following article by guest contributor Dr. Ralph Martinez is part of a series of articles focused on energy issues of importance to our region and as part of a lead up to the 2nd Annual Re-energize the Americas conference being held on Oct 17 & 18th, 2012 at the Las Cruces, NM Convention Center.

Cyber Security in “Smart Grids”

North American networks and devices come under attack billions of times each year. In the nuclear industry alone, the National Nuclear Security Administration estimates that more than 10 million cyber attacks occur in the United States each day. United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently stated, “The potential for the next Pearl Harbor could very well be a cyber-attack. The capability to paralyze this country is here now…and there is a high risk.” Continue reading

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Energy, A Major Challenge for the Future?

The following article by guest contributor Dr. Abbas Ghassemi is part of a series of articles focused on energy issues of importance to our region and as part of a lead up to the 2nd Annual Re-energize the Americas conference being held on Oct 17 & 18th, 2012 at the Las Cruces, NM Convention Center.

 

By 2050 the demand for energy could double or even triple as the global population rises and developing countries expand their economies. All life on earth depends on energy and the cycling of carbon. Energy is essential for economic and social development but also poses an environmental challenge. We must explore all aspects of energy production and consumption including energy efficiency, clean energy, global carbon cycle, carbon sources and sinks and biomass as well as their relationship to climate and natural resource issues. Continue reading

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Follow-Up to our Post: “Build It and They Will Come”

A number of developments have ocurred since the publication of our post on July 19th, “Build It and They Will Come”.  Apparently, opposition to tearing down City Hall in order to build a new Triple-A baseball stadium has led to new efforts related to the Quality of Life bond as well as groups looking to petition a referendum on the entire issue.  Some of the stories:

  • New PAC to promote quality of life bond, Opposition to Downtown Ballpark speeds up plan— Organizers are accelerating efforts to form a political action committee to back the proposed $468-million quality of life bond, concerned that growing opposition to a new Downtown ballpark might spill over into the bond election. Story by Bob Gray, El Paso, Inc. July 29-Aug 4, 2012.
  • Petition seeks vote on ballpark, quality-of-life plans–A petition submitted to the city on Tuesday by a local group is proposing an initiative that could have ramifications for the $50 million Downtown ballpark approved earlier by the City Council.The group, Quality of Life Voters for Democracy, was spurred to gather signatures for the petition by the lack of involvement in the decision to approve the Downtown ballpark.They submitted more than 2,300 signatures to the city clerk and ask that all quality-of-life projects get voter approval before the City Council funds them. The petition also states that change be retroactive to June 26, when the Downtown ballpark was approved by a 6-2 City Council vote.–Story By Evan Mohl El Paso Times, 08/01/2012
  • Paul Foster: Baseball almost a done dealEvents surrounding El Paso’s efforts to bring Triple-A baseball to the city are moving fast. This week, the city received formal notification from the Pacific Coast League that it had approved MountainStar Sports Group’s purchase of a team. Though the team has not officially been named because the parties are bound by confidentiality agreements, it is known that MountainStar is attempting to buy the Tucson Padres for $20 million and bring the team to El Paso and a stadium the city has committed to build–Story by David Crowder, El Paso, Inc. July 29-Aug 4, 2012
  • El Paso very close to Triple-A baseballCity manager: Deal is ‘moving forward’–The sounds, fun and excitement of Triple-A baseball is close, very close, to coming to El Paso.

    On Monday, the Pacific Coast League, one of three leagues that play Triple-A baseball, informed the city that the league had approved the sale of a team to a group of local investors known as MountainStar Sports Group of El Paso.

    The letter sent to City Manager Joyce Wilson says, in effect, that the sale of a team to the El Paso group is all but a formality.

    “Basically, they’ve given approval to close the transaction,” Wilson said. “It’s pretty clear the next phase is kind of a formality. It’s moving forward.”–Story By Bret Bloomquist El Paso Times, Aug 1, 2012

A final note:  A careful view of the artist’s rendition of the proposed stadium shows that the fans along the first base line are in for an additional treat–that section of the stadium apparently sits directly over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks!  Should make for an interesting afternoon and/or evening.–Paul Maxwell

 

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