October/November 1998 Issue of the Planet Kansas
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Sierra Club Wants Moore, by Tom Thompson, Kansas Chapter
Club Endorses Tom Sawyer for Governor
Chapter Recommends the Endorsement of Jim Phillips in the 1st District, by Tom Thompson
Sierra Club 1998 Legislative Questionnaire
Sierra Club Identifies Snowbarger as "Must-Be-Defeated", by Steve Baru
Comments on Surface Water Quality Standards, by Charles Benjamin
Sun Newspaper Publisher Steve Rose to Speak, by Steve Baru
Voices Needed For a Healthy Missouri River, by Greg Bryant & Chad Smith
Trains, Lanes, Planes and Octanes: The Y2.01K Problem, by Wayne Sangster
Join Me In 1999 For A Guatemala White Water Expedition, by T. J. Hittle
Kanza Newza, by Tom Thompson, Kanza Group Chair
Sierra Club Wants Moore
By Tom Thompson, Political Chair
In 1996 the Kansas Chapter of the Sierra Club sent questionnaires to the candidates running for the Third Congressional seat vacated by Rep. Jan Meyers, a Republican from Prairie Village. Judy Hancock, a Democrat from Prairie Village, was endorsed after she answered the Sierra Club questionnaire and was interviewed. Candidate Vince Snowbarger did not respond.
As we all know, Rep. Snowbarger won in 1996 and went on to be what we expected and less. In the past two years he engineered an assault on the Wakarusa Wetlands and has consistently voted against the environment. These include votes that helped to keep the federal budget inflated by providing corporate welfare and votes against funding family planning.
Now it is 1998. Once again questionnaires were delivered to the candidates. Dennis Moore responded, Rep. Vince Snowbarger did not. We cannot afford another term of "no response." Dennis Moore was endorsed by the Sierra Club to send environmental responsibility to Washington from the Third Congressional District in Kansas.
Dennis Moore believes that it is important to protect our national forests from depletion and unnecessary destruction. Moore believes we should have strong standards for clean air and clean water. He is in favor of reproductive choices for women and men and believes that the U. S. should continue supporting global efforts to provide these.
Moore also believes in responding to the problem of global warming. His platform supports efforts to decrease energy consumption in the United States 30% by the year 2010. He also wants research and development of environmentally friendly sources of energy like wind and solar power.
If you think it is time for an environmentally friendly representative in Congress call me, Tom Thompson, today at 913-236-9161. The Third Congressional District includes Douglas, Johnson, Miami and Wyandotte Counties. Most campaign help is in the form of making phone calls or delivering literature door-to-door.
Once again, if you want Moore, call me, Tom Thompson, at 913-236-9161 to help. Election day is November 3rd so call today!!!
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Club Endorses Tom Sawyer for Governor
Casey Stengel, the 1950s New York Yankees manager, used to say, "nice guys finish last." In the case of the 1998 Governors race in Kansas, old Casey is right - and he is wrong. The incumbent Governor, Republican Bill Graves, is a "nice guy." So is the Democratic candidate for Governor, Tom Sawyer. One of these two "nice guys" will be Governor of Kansas for four years and the other will go back to private life. Many of us, who are not so enamored with public life, might question if going back to private life is "finishing last." If it is, then most of us are losers.
For those of us concerned about issues of the environment and natural resource usage in Kansas we must make a choice between two "nice guys" on election day. Both of these politicians say they are very concerned about environmental issues in Kansas. However, talk is cheap and action or inaction tells us more about what our elected officials really believe. So lets look at the record.
Bill Graves has been Governor for four years. He has taken at least two actions on environmental issues that the Kansas Chapter of the Sierra Club has supported. He signed a new Threatened and Endangered Species Act in 1997 that opens up the process of listing species at an earlier date than previously and provides property tax incentives to land owners who provide habitat. Former Kansas Sierra Club legislative coordinator Bill Craven was instrumental in pulling together the study commission that made this legislation possible. The second major positive action that Bill Graves did for the environment was his 1998 "buffer strip initiative" whereby landowners who turn their crop ground along rivers and streams into riparian areas planted in grass and trees would get a property tax adjustment reflecting the "devaluation" of their land. We commend Bill Graves for these actions.
So why arent we endorsing the incumbent Governor? It is because Bill Graves has failed to show leadership on two very important environmental issues. Specifically, Bill Graves could have vetoed H.B. 2368 - the bill sponsored by the Kansas League of Municipalities and the Agribusiness Alliance designed to weaken 1994 water quality standards by suspending key provisions of those standards until a commission was set-up whose purpose was to justify the permanent weakening of standards. Bill Graves did not appoint anyone to the commission who favored strengthening water quality standards but instead appointed several people who clearly favor weakening water quality standards. Tom Sawyer opposed H.B. 2368, made statements on the floor of the House in favor of strong water quality standards, and has made strengthening water quality standards a central message of his campaign.
The rapid expansion of the corporate hog industry in Kansas has the potential to be the greatest environmental threat the state has ever seen. The Graves administration has gone out of its way to provide economic and tax incentives to facilitate this expansion. This despite the fact that citizens in 21 out of 22 counties, where there have been local referenda on the expansion of the corporate hog industry, have voted overwhelmingly against it. Bill Graves has done nothing to close the loopholes that allow Murphy Farms, Inc., to get around the will of the people by claiming to be a family farm. Bill Graves also has done nothing to stop Murphy and Seaboard Corporations from getting around the will of the people by contracting their large production units to independent producers. KDHE Secretary Gary Mitchell, Bill Graves appointee, issued a permit to Murphy in Hodgeman County, despite the fact that the citizens of Hodgeman county said no to corporate hog factories. Mitchell refused to grant the citizens of Lane County a public hearing before giving Murphy permission to operate two large production units. These actions and inactions of the Graves administration in favor of Murphy and Seaboard have forced the citizens of Hodgeman, Lane and other counties to spend their hard-earned dollars hiring attorneys to protect their rights against these large corporations. Bill Graves refused to support a two-year moratorium on permitting swine production facilities. The moratorium idea came from the people of western Kansas who wanted a simple "time-out" until the industry solved its odor problems, the K-State lagoon seepage study was completed and an audit determined the true economic impacts of the industry on the state. Tom Sawyer favored a moratorium and has indicated his support for closing the Murphy and Seaboard loopholes.
In short, Bill Graves is "a nice guy" and is likely to win this election. Nevertheless, it is clear from his policies, when push comes to shove Bill Graves tends to favor the interests of polluters over the interests of those having to live with the pollution. Tom Sawyer has shown that he is, and will continue to be, a true friend of the environment. Tom Sawyer, also a "nice guy", will probably not win this election. However, that should not stop Sierra Club members, and others concerned about environment and natural resource issues in Kansas, from supporting Tom Sawyer for Governor.
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Chapter Recommends the Endorsement of Jim Phillips in the 1st District
By Tom Thompson
The current congressman in the First Congressional District helped to get a plan for building the South Lawrence Trafficway through congress. He has further shown that he is not a friend of the environment.
The Kansas Chapter Ex-Comm voted to recommend an endorsement of Jim Phillips to the National Sierra Club PAC because he is a friend of the environment.
He believes that voters should be able to decide whether to permit large scale hog farms in their communities. He believes strict standards for these facilities should be enforced. Furthermore, he says he would vote against fast track on international trade agreements as they are currently written.
Jim Phelps can be contacted at PO Box 1893, Garden City, KS 67846 or phoned at 1-888-263-4610.
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Sierra Club 1998 Legislative Questionnaire
The following is the questionnaire that was sent to a select list of Kansas Legislative races. The questions required yes or no responses and allowed for comments. If you have an opportunity to communicate with legislative candidates you could use these to question them. What is considered the appropriate answer is in parentheses, although comments could indicate that a candidate has an even stronger position than reflected in the question.
Preserving Wild Kansas
Providing for a Clean and Healthy Environment
Making Politics Fair
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Sierra Club Identifies Snowbarger As "Must-Be-Defeated"
By Steve Baru
Sierra Club will be conducting an Independent Expenditure Campaign (IEC) in support of former Johnson County District Attorney Dennis Moore for the 3rd District Congressional seat. This United States House of Representatives seat, held by Congressman Vince Snowbarger since 1996, was previously held by Jan Meyers, a very good friend to the environment. In Snowbargers brief tenure he has demonstrated his lack of care and understanding for clean air, water and the environment in general.
The non-partisan League of Conservation Voters (LCV) has rated Snowbargers conservation voting record as a paltry 17 out of 100. (The higher the number, the better for the environment.) The LCV chair, former Kansas Governor Mike Hayden, a Republican, says, "Its time for Republicans to put the conserve back in conservative."
National Sierra Club sees Snowbarger as a weak candidate out of step with many people in this district. Polls show that Dennis Moore has a lead and a good chance to defeat Snowbarger.
Our campaign is being conducted and coordinated fully separately from Dennis Moores or any other campaign. We develop our own strategy, message and implementation. We use our own people. That is why we need your help. Our coordinator will need a list of names of those who would enjoy volunteering in this important effort. This can be exciting, fun and--with your help--successful. Please give us your name as a volunteer. You can do that by calling Steve Baru or Craig Wolfe at the following numbers.
Steve Baru: (W) 913-491-4101 or (H) 913-814-0583.
Craig Wolfe: 913-299-4443.
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Comments to the Kansas Special Commission on Surface Water Quality Standards
By Charles Benjamin
The following are comments on the Final Recommendations of the Submitted to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment on August 13, 1998 at public hearings in Lawrence and Wichita by the Kansas Chapter of Sierra Club and the Kansas Natural Resource Council
The Commissions report is not a work of science and does not address the legislatively mandated issues. It is a series of conclusions based on the Commissions opinions that are not formally documented by references or sources of information. It attempts to address social issues as interpreted by the Commission.
The Commissions recommendations rely heavily on the appointment of a permanent commission--which would be of similar composition and appointed in the same way as the current Commission. We can therefore predict the probable outcome from adopting these recommendations by looking at what this Commission has produced.
This Commission was established to explore possibilities for weakening water quality standards. Some of the recommendations may cause the state to spend a lot of money pursuing this goal. Fortunately, much of this money will be spent in vain because there is not much room for weakening the standards under the Clean Water Act. The commission is seeking to make waste disposal a high priority use of our streams, lakes and wetlands, but this is explicitly forbidden by the Clean Water Act. Similarly, the state cannot arbitrarily declare that swimming or fishing is an unattainable use just because it is inconvenient for some polluters.
We want to serve notice to the Governor and the legislature that we hope to ensure that a portion of the money spent futilely on behalf of polluters goes to pay attorneys for KNRC and the Sierra Club who will fight to see that the mandates of the Clean Water Act are carried out in Kansas.
Specific Comments on the Commissions Recommendations (Sierra Club comments in italics):
1. The Commission recommends a permanent commission be established to advise the Governor and the Legislature on water quality issues.
The commissions recommendations rely heavily on the appointment of a permanent commissionwhich would be of similar composition and appointed in the same way as the current commission. We can therefore predict the probable outcome from adopting these recommendations by looking what this commission has produced.
What is the purpose of this commission? It is not to make scientific and technical judgments, for this commission has declared such things to be outside the commissions scope. It is not to bring a variety of viewpoints to bear on the issue because the commission represents one viewthat of Governor Graves. (Future commissions, by virtue of the proposed staggered terms, would take some time to represent the views of the new governor.) It is not to enhance public participation in the regulatory process because the commission has no direct authority to make regulations.
No, we believe the purposes of a permanent commission, as proposed by this report, are the following: * To intimidate those civil service scientists who are dedicated to establishing and enforcing standards that protect surface waters and their uses; * To exhaust public interest representatives and members of the general public by giving them one more inconsequential place to present their viewsalthough, as shown by this commission, the commission wont take these views seriously, they will take the absence of public opinion on an issue as permission to do as they please; and * To provide polluterssuch as the list of polluters and their hired "experts" who packed this commissions agendaa forum to "inform" the public that they shouldnt worry about pollution.
2. The Commission recommends a provision be added to Kansas statute requiring and outlining enhanced stakeholder participation in all aspects of the water quality standards setting process to reinforce the requirements of the Federal Clean Water Act, including the use of "Stream Teams", which would focus on collaborative learning, problem-solving and program implementation, not monitoring for enforcement.
While we support increased education about the value of the states streams, lakes, and wetlands, this proposal seeks to link such education to the regulatory process. The main effect of this is to dilute citizen participation in developing regulations.
3. The Commission recommends a provision be added to Kansas statute outlining policy considerations that must be addressed by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment when establishing designated uses. The Commission also recommends a provision be added to Kansas statute requiring Health and Environment to review current use designations in a systematic manner based on priorities established through the stakeholder participation process.
The state currently does not designate all waters for the legal minimum of designated uses. The Commission is seeking ways to illegally reduce the protected uses even further. This will bring the state into further conflict with federal law.
4. The Commission recommends the Kansas Department of Health and Environment develop a scientifically based, objective process to conduct use attainability analysis.
As in the previous recommendation, the Commission is seeking ways to illegally reduce the protected uses of the states waters. KDHE contracted with Kansas State University to develop a protocol for performing use attainability analyses several years ago.
5. The Commission strongly recommends the Kansas Legislature and the Governor establish a dedicated funding base to support water quality monitoring, both chemical and biological. Rigorous monitoring is the foundation for defensible use attainability analysis and appropriate designated use decisions. In fact, Kansas has a long tradition of recognizing the value of water quality monitoring. As the State moves into the next phase of water quality improvements, more through and targeted monitoring will be necessary.
We support establishing a dedicated funding base to support water quality monitoring. However, we wonder what the Commission has in mind with "targeted monitoring". We hope that this does not mean that monitoring sites will be moved away from where they can detect impacts. We hope that it may mean that some monitoring sites will be added closer to sewage outfalls, where they might be able to measure ammonia, for example, at the edge of the mixing zone.
6. The Commission recommends Health and Environment regulations provide for alternative winter ammonia limits on a site-specific basis where justified through scientific data and evaluation . The Commission also recommends that Health and Environment invite communities to propose the development of site specific criteria if the leaders of the community or Health and Environment believe the criteria may be either under-protective or over-protective for a given water segment.
What does "overprotective" mean? It does not describe impacts on aquatic life. What proponents of this measure want is to allow some injury to aquatic life because avoiding it costs more than they want to pay. This cost-benefit balancing is not appropriate to address by site-specific criteria, which are to be used when the local ecology is substantially different from the norm. Variances are the appropriate mechanism for addressing costs, but municipalities have resisted using them.
We must ask why municipalities have resisted using the variance process that is specifically designed to address their problem. Are they afraid to invite public scrutiny of their books? Is that because the systems have been mismanaged? Or is it because the economic costs of upgrading plants would be seen to be insignificant compared to the communitys ability to pay? We note that Johnson County, the most wealthy county in Kansas and one of the most wealthy in the country, has fought this the hardest, with the result that their permit for the Mission/Turkey Creek facility is twenty years out-of-date.
7. The Commission recommends the atrazine criteria for chronic aquatic life remain at 3 ppb until more research on the range from 1 ppb to 20 ppb is reviewed or conducted.
The commissions report makes it appear that environmental organizations are the only ones that spoke for a stringent atrazine standard. The commission was evidently not paying attention when representatives from the University of Kansas and the Kansas Biological Survey presented the results of their research.
8. The Commission recommends the Kansas Department of Health and Environment recognize the impact of natural mineral intrusion on Kansas stream quality and subsequent permits. The agency should establish regional or segment specific criteria working with the Kansas Geological Survey to determine what numeric criteria is appropriate on a watershed or segment basis. Given 20 years of work done by the KGS which shows there are areas of the state that naturally exceed the criteria and have alkaline habitats, adjusting this criteria to consider natural conditions will make the standard more accurately reflect naturally occurring stream conditions . Finally, Health and Environment should move existing language [K.A.R. 28-16-28e(c)(3)(B)] that references natural mineral intrusion to the administrative section of the standards (K.A.R. 28-16-28f) and modify the language by striking domestic water supply and replacing it with designated use.
While it is reasonable to adjust criteria to reflect aquatic communities that are adapted to natural mineral intrusion, the Commissions recommendations go beyond this. The standards should protect fresh water that feeds into saltier streams and should protect streams with natural mineral intrusion from becoming excessively salty. The recommendations would do neither. Rather than applying site specific criteria, which are provided for in the 1994 standards, they would avoid applying any chloride criteria, possibly on a regional basis.
9. The Commission recommends a reexamination of the EPA [fecal coliform] criterion to determine if it is an adequate indicator of public health risks and further recommends the exploration of the impacts of seasonal disinfection and the public health risk associated with fecal coliform spikes caused by runoff events. The criteria used by Health and Environment was established by EPA in 1986. The Commission believes more research is available that did not exist a decade ago and it should be evaluated. This could reduce the public health risks from bacteria contamination.
The Commission continues to write off recreation, despite its potential for bringing benefits, including sizeable economic benefits, to Kansans. They have ignored testimony of people who get sick after being submerged through boating accidents, and they have discounted testimony from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks that people engage in recreation through summer months. They also ignore the federal mandate to protect all streams for swimming.
The Governor, who has lent his support to corporate hog farming, is obviously reluctant to enforce limits that might hinder these facilities, as well as cow feedlots and poorly constructed sewage treatment plants.
10. The Commission recommends that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment utilize seasonal variations where appropriate. Information brought before the Commission indicates seasonal variations are accepted by EPA and used in several other states. This should result in criteria more accurately reflecting conditions in the field.
When the Commission talks about "seasonal criteria", they mean weakening of protection in winter when they assume aquatic organisms are not reproducing. In fact, many aquatic organisms do reproduce during the winter, and others are more sensitive because of the increased stress brought on by cold temperatures and ice-covered water.
11. The Commission recommends that if water quality criteria are to be established and are more stringent than EPA requirements, they must be justified with a risk assessment analysis, and where appropriate, a cost/benefit analysis.
As mentioned above, the place for cost-benefit considerations is the variance process, which polluters are reluctant to use.
All criteria that have been produced have been based on risk assessment analyses, but the commission is evidently unhappy with results of some. We dont know what kind of risk assessment the Commission would be happy with since they were unable to perform the ones they were assigned to do.
12. The Commission recommends the Kansas Department of Health and Environment add a provision to its regulations to clarify that narrative criteria alone should not determine stream impairment for listing purposes. This policy will ensure both subjective and objective criteria determine the attainment of a designated use for listing purposes and clarify the true condition of Kansas waters. In testimony before the Commission, there was concern that because narrative criteria cannot be evaluated with monitoring, it should not be the sole indicator of impairment (Johnson County Wastewater).
What the Commission was really upset about was not the narrative criteria but the measures KDHE took to make the narrative criteria operational. If a criterion cannot be used to determine what its supposed to determine, then it isnt a criterion.
The Commission seems to have accepted the premise of Johnson Countys argumentthat narrative criteria cannot be evaluated with monitoring. In fact, all criterianarrative and quantitativerequire definitions to make it clear what counts as a violation. The definitions are often hidden in laboratory manuals for quantitative criteria, but they are nonetheless necessary.
13. The Commission recommends the Kansas Department of Health and Environment modify its [mixing zone] regulations to ensure that when data is available, actual effects take precedence over models or mathematical calculations. The Commission also recommends Health and Environment expand its variance procedure to include mixing zones and other items within the guidelines of the federal Clean Water Act. This will provide an opportunity for stakeholder participation processes to be designed and implemented. Mixing zones should relate to the toxic potential of the discharge, established dose/response relationships, actual plume character and time of exposure, rather than geometric sizes and models when this information is available. Health and Environment should also consider modifying implementation regulations so the best available science on the toxicological kinetics of pollutants is utilized.
Mixing zones are those parts of the pollutant plume where toxic conditions are allowed. We do not believe that allowing any toxic conditions is consistent with the Clean Water Act.
In fact, the data the Commission refers to are almost never available. Data on toxic effects on aquatic organisms are generally limited to lethal effects of a few laboratory strains. More detailed information on those species and any information on many native species are generally lacking. The actual shape of the pollutant plume varies over time, as the flow changes and the stream itself changes. Models are a necessary tool to deal with the uncertainties involved. This would be made considerably easier if no toxic discharges were allowed.
14. The Commission recommends the Kansas Department of Health and Environment fully incorporate implementation procedures into regulation. This will assure adequate peer review, stakeholder participation and consistent application of water quality standards.
We agree. Although attributed to us, several regulated entities were also concerned about the fuzziness of the implementation procedures and the potential for arbitrary agency action.
15. The Commission recommends the Legislature and the Governor place a high priority on funding the necessary components for an effective and efficient water quality standards setting process. The Commission suggests dedicated funding for water quality monitoring and use attainability analysis.
We agree that funding for the process should be given high priority, but we believe that many of the recommendations of the commission will consume vast quantities of funds seeking illegal ways to lower water quality.
The Commission report concludes, " Gone are the days of rigid command and control. Balance and common sense are necessary to obtain public support." Kansas has never seen the days of rigid command and control. Thats why permits are years overdue, the 1994 water quality standards have yet to be implemented, and the state has yet to do TMDLs on a single stream. Things are going from bad to worse, but the commission will try to change the rules so we look better.
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Sun Newspaper Publisher Steve Rose To Speak
By Steve Baru
The Kanza Group of the Sierra Club announces that Steve Rose, publisher of The Sun Newspapers, will be the featured speaker for our new series entitled, "On The Spot". The series will feature community leaders who will speak on topics that relate to our local environment.
The purpose of this series is to help tear down artificial walls that may exist between the environmental community and civic leaders and to become better informed about opinions. This is not a roast-the-enemy type program but a chance for dialogue on environmental topics that affect our quality of life. We may reach agreement on certain issues and on others that we may not, but at least we will achieve an understanding of the thoughts and attitudes of our leaders, and they in turn may understand ours. If along the way some education happens, then that will be a bonus.
Steve Rose, our first guest, has agreed to be put "on the spot" in front of the environmental community and the public. He will share his ideas and we ours concerning certain community environmental topics in a non-confrontational and comfortable setting. This should be an enjoyable evening for all. The public is invited, so bring a friend.
Date & Time: Thursday, November 12, 1998 at 7:30 PM.
Place: Sierra Club General Meeting at Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church, 7725 W. 87th Street
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Voices Needed For a Healthy Missouri River
By Greg Bryant and Chad Smith
You can help change the way the Army Corps of Engineers manages the Missouri River for decades into the future, if you attend and speak out at one of the public comment meetings being held up and down the river during October and November.
The first in a series of "Preliminary Revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement Workshops" to be hosted by the Corps will be in Atchison on Thursday, October 1st. A workshop will also be held in Kansas City on November 9.
Several years ago the Corps held a similar set of meetings to present an earlier draft of the Master Manual for management of the Missouri River. A Corps spokesman complained that conservation, recreation and community groups did not attend those meetings, leading to Corps to believe no constituency existed for a healthy, more natural Missouri.
As a result, the Corps has assumed there is little public support for abandoning a half-century of "barge-friendly" management policy that has devastated the river ecology and put several species on endangered or threatened lists.
Chad Smith of American Rivers hopes Sierra members can help correct this misperception. At a recent meeting of the Missouri River Coalition, of which Kansas Sierra is a member, Smith asked members to spread the word and "swamp" each of the Corps' workshops with "dozens, hundreds" of citizens who want the Missouri managed for wilderness and recreation.
Those who attend the workshops will be offered a chance to make a public comment. Smith emphasized that it is important for each conservationist to speak for the record.
"The message should be brief, and not too technical," said Smith. "Tell the Corps how you think a healthy Missouri River will benefit riverside communities. Tell the Corps how important natural areas along the river are for wildlife and people. Ask them to restore habitat and natural river features, especially a spring rise that imitates the historic flow patterns so important to wildlife."
Below is the full schedule of meetings, in case you have friends upriver you can persuade to attend. Hearings at each meeting are from 2 to 5 p.m. and from 7 to 10 p.m. The starred dates also include, from 5 to 7 p.m., a public meeting on the Annual Operating Plan, the Corps' yearly plan controlling river level and uses.
NOTE: This is a tentative schedule. For final workshop times and locations, contact Chad Smith, American Rivers (402-598-5592) or Greg Bryant, KS Sierra and Missouri River Coalition (785-544- 7735).
October 1 - American Legion, 705 Commercial St., Atchison, KS
October 6 - Glasgow, MT
October 7 - Williston, ND
October 8 - New Town, ND
October 14 - Garrison, ND
October 15 - Bismarck, ND
October 26 - Holiday Inn Riverfront, 1401 Zenith Drive, Sioux City, IA
October 27 - Arbor Day Farm Lied Conference Center, Steinhart Lodge - 21 Steinhart Park Road, Nebraska City, NE
November 4 - Pierre, SD
November 5 - Lower Brule, SD
November 9 - Holiday Inn, 11832 Plaza Circle, Kansas City, MO
November 17 - Holiday Inn Forest Park, 5915 Wilson Ave., St. Louis, MO
November 18 - New Orleans, LA
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Trains, Lanes, Planes, And Octanes:
The Y2.01k Problem No More Cheap Oil
by Wayne Sangster
The problem that awaits us with regard to computers when the year 2000 rolls around is much in the news these days. Around 2010 another huge problem, long in the making, will confront the world. According to the cover article (one of four in a special report on oil) in the March 1998 issue of Scientific American ("The End of Cheap Oil," by Colin J. Campbell and Jean H. Laherrere), world production of readily accessible crude oil (so-called conventional oil) will start to decline early in the next century. We won't be anywhere close to running out of conventional oil, but it will become increasingly difficult to get out what is left. The demand could outstrip the supply and drive up prices (and a return to gas lines as in 1973 and 1979?) unless cheap alternatives are found.
Oil industry reports are optimistic. They say we have "proved" reserves of 1,020 billion barrels of oil (Gbo) at the start of 1998. Dividing that number by the current production rate of 23.6 Gbo a year might suggest that oil could remain plentiful and cheap for 43 more years -- probably longer, because official charts show reserves growing. This calculation makes three critical errors: First, the estimates of reserves are distorted. Second, oil production won't remain constant since world demand is rising at more than two percent a year (a 60 percent increase is forecast for 2020). Third and most important, the last bucket of oil from the ground won't be retrieved as easily as were the barrels of oil gushing from the ground early on.
The authors of the Scientific American article must be respected for their analysis of the problem since they have spent most of their careers exploring for oil, studying reserve figures and estimating the amount of oil left to discover, first while employed at major oil companies and later as independent consultants. They say that over the years they have come to appreciate that the relevant statistics are far more complicated than they first appear.
The OPEC countries have faced a great temptation to inflate their reports because the higher their reserves, the more oil they are allowed to export. National companies, which have exclusive oil rights in the main OPEC countries, need not (and do not) release the detailed statistics on each field that could be used to verify the country's total reserves. There is good reason to suspect that when, during the late 1980s, six of the eleven OPEC nations increased their reserve figures by colossal amounts, ranging from 42 to 197 percent, they did so only to boost their export quotas. A staggering 287 Gbo were added to their reserve estimates, an increase more than all the oil ever discovered in the U.S. -- plus 40 percent.
Campbell and Laherrere say that at the end of 1996 we had about 850 Gbo of known conventional oil, not the higher figure that oil industry claims. Allowing for the discovery of new oil, they say only about another 1,000 Gbo of conventional oil remain in the world (the best estimate is that just over 800 Gbo had been removed from the earth by the end of 1997). This puts us close to the halfway mark in our mad squandering of conventional oil. The rate at which any well -- or any country -- can produce oil always rises to a maximum and then, when about half of the oil is gone, begins to fall gradually back to zero. Domestic production of oil in the U.S. peaked in 1970. In 1956 M. King Hubbert, a geologist for Shell Oil Co. predicted, that production in the lower 48 states would decline after 1969. Campbell and Laherrere predict a similar decline in world production before 2010.
The last half of the world's conventional oil will be used up more rapidly than the first half was, at least until it gets really difficult to get it out of the ground. There is only so much crude oil in the world, and the industry has found about 90 percent of it. We can only hope that alternatives are ready when the crunch arrives. But our government seems more concerned about when Social Security allegedly is going bankrupt (a financial problem amenable to a financial fix) than when we are going to run out of nonrenewable cheap oil. The politicians reaction when confronted with the prospect of gas lines in a decade or so might be: What, me worry? Just keep driving those gas hogs, guys. We don't need CAFE standards. We don't need transit and Amtrak to conserve. We'll get it from some place in the former Soviet Union (as if the U.S. had priority when it comes to using up the world's resources).
There are alternatives (such as mining for oil, better engineering to retrieve more oil from current fields and from under the deep ocean, and converting natural gas to liquid fuels), and in future installments of this column we will report on them.
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Join Me In 1999 For A Guatemala Whitewater Expedition
By T. J. Hittle
Just quick note to say, Buenos dias and we are back, as I am sorting through 52 minutes of phone calls, 489 Email messages, and two card board boxes full of mail.
The 1998 Guatemala Whitewater trip was FABULOUS. We had six kayakers and four paddle rafters make the final cut in to Guatemala City. The water is warm and weather is cool in Central America this time of year. An incredibly magical time and place to paddle. Cheap air fares, cheap land travel, inexpensive food, and great exchanges rates don't hurt things either.
This was my 8th year to paddle Central America and the 3rd year for paddling in Guatemala. The place just has everything that most paddlers love...lots of rain, high mountain ranges and canyons all over the country, good access, no permits, cheap lodging and travel, fun things to do between trips, no waiting lines in the eddies, no rafts to dodge, beautiful people, and cheap beer!! It doesn't get ANY BETTER!!!
We ran Rio Los Esclavos on the highest water kayak descent ever. Rio Los Esclavos, a Class III-IV run at normal levels, compares to Rio Pacuare in Costa Rica. Just a lot prettier, way more outstanding rapids, jungle vines hanging over from the canyon walls, and more water falls dumping into the river. Four of us that ran it estimated that it rose from a 4,000 cfs start to an unexpected peak of 10,000 cfs during the day and night after a torrential rain. Spent the night on the river unexpectedly. Paddled safely out the next day on solid Class IV-V water. Worried the crap out of the rest of the expedition though.
We ran Rio Lanquin, near Coban. It is a Class III-V run from its source out of the caves of Lanquin. Rio Lanquin is a pristine aqua blue river that has an upper and lower section. Only the kayaks ran the lower Class IV-V section. Paddle rafters traveled to Semuc Champey, a stunningly beautiful Mayan shrine, swimming in a series of travertine pools. Did some caving too.
Ran Rio Cahabon, a 52-mile long river Class III-IV+ section. It compares to the Gauley River with up to 10X the play spots as the Ocoee River. No rafts to dodge and no waiting lines to play either. Wonderful Qek Chi Indians waving at us along the way. Met some fine folks and learned a little Qek Chi along the way. A multi-day, oar rigged raft supported trip. Did lots of side canyon hikes up to huge waterfalls and warm springs. Fabulous multi-day run through one big rapid after another, with lots of play in between. If it were in America, most rafters and paddlers would be trading in their Selway, Middle Fork, and Grand Canyon permits to run this thing.
Ran Rio Sauce, a Class III-V river canyon near El Estor. Last year, we set a highest water decent ever and this year set a lowest water decent ever. Beautiful series of extremely narrow canyons. Compares to Baker Creek to Arkansas' Cossatot River, just a couple notches tougher, 22 miles long, and lots more drops.
We hiked around the Mayan ruins of Quiri Qua between rivers and toured the colonial city of Antigua on off days. We visited Lake Attitlan, a 2,000' deep lake, completely surrounded by volcanoes. The lake that has no outlet. Some say its the most beautiful lake in the world. Most of the group toured a number of handcraft and Mayan artist markets along the way over the 12-day trip.
Tourism is up in Guatemala, surprisingly. However it is the many other European, Middle Eastern, and Asian citizens that are coming to visit. Everywhere you go, you are hearing strange and wonderful languages in the coffee shops, markets, and restaurants. Americans are fairly rare in Guatemala although the crime rate is low and travel is usually quite safe. The American press has seen to it that anything bad in Guatemala makes it on the front pages. We Americans seem to hold other countries up to absurdly high standards, while out own country sports the most guns and highest crime rates in most categories. Go figure!!
Everyone made it through all the critical rapids this year just fine, no raft flips and darn few swims. No major accidents, but a lot of close calls and wild but true tales of jungles, high water, fierce rapids, wonderful Guatemalan-Mayan peoples, beautiful handcrafts, and incredible jungle and mountain scenery.
So if you haven't been paddling the most stunningly beautiful, most kick-ass, rain filled, play rivers for the last two weeks solid, then join me in 1999 for a Guatemala WW expedition - late August to early September.
T.J. Hittle / P.O. Box 83 / Manhattan, KS. 66505-0083
voice:(785)539-7772 / fax:(785)539-6050 / Email: email@example.com
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By Tom Thompson, Kanza Group Chair
Go vote. There is no reason not to vote unless you aren't a U.S. citizen. Everyone knows about absentee ballots. There is also an advance ballot. To do this you get an advanced voting form from your county election office or the Kansas Secretary of State's office. You fill out the form then mail or FAX it in. You will be sent your ballot in the mail so you can vote at your convenience. Phone 334-1414 in Wyandotte County and 782-3441 in Johnson County. Obviously there are time requirements for doing this so call today. Advanced voting helps to ensure that your environmentally friendly vote is cast.
Go get involved. Dennis Moore is endorsed for Congress in the Kanza Group area as are a number of legislative candidates listed elsewhere in this "Planet." Tom Sawyer is also endorsed for Governor and has a local office. If you want to get involved you can call me at 913-236-9161. Volunteers are typically needed for delivering literature door-to-door or for making phone calls. Call today. Election Day is November 3rd.
Last but not least, our October 8th regular meeting is our New Member Fair. This meeting informs those who attend what the Kanza Group of the Sierra Club is all about. If you want to know more please attend. If you know anyone who is a new member or is interested in becoming a member bring them with you. Hope to see you then!
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