On April 23, the Fort Collins City Council will once again discuss, and potentially vote on, the extremely controversial issue of banning fracking in Fort Collins. In March, the city council passed a ban on fracking that grandfathered in the one driller that currently operates on eight well pads in northern Fort Collins. But three weeks later, in a quiet vote with no public input by citizens or the city’s boards and commissions, the city council passed an “agreement” with that driller allowing the company to drill and frack on two new square miles of land surrounding the Budweiser brewery in North Fort Collins.
Councilman Gerry Horak, who has been at the center of the fracking controversy, has flip-flopped his votes, voting for the ban and then voting for the agreement that effectively negated the ban. Now, the council is deliberating on a second reading of an ordinance to lift the moratorium and allow the driller to begin drilling and fracking in the expanded areas in northern Fort Collins. Horak also voted "yes" on the first reading to lift the moratorium.
"Gerry Horak has flip-flopped votes for the benefit of the drilling company. He only votes as his constituents elected him to vote when under significant public pressure--and even then, his attempts to do right are veiled deceptions,” said Rico Moore of Frack Free Fort Collins. “A ban means a ban, Gerry Horak. It's time to represent the human and environmental health of Fort Collins."
A week ago, April 16, when the second reading was considered by the council, the meeting devolved into confusion with competing motions and amendments by various councilmembers. The meeting ended with a majority vote to postpone the decision until April 23 and have a "worksession" on the issue followed by an "adjourned meeting." At worksessions and adjourned meetings, citizens are not allowed to provide public comment. Further, last week, Councilmember Horak sent the city staff requests for even more resolutions and ordinances, but as of Monday morning, April 22, the only information available to the public was this statement on the city’s website: “Agenda materials for this item currently being developed and will be posted as soon as they are available.”
The April 16 meeting was the very first meeting of the newly elected Council on which Horak serves in the leadership team as the Mayor Pro Tem, a position he earned in another extremely controversial 4-3 vote only by voting for himself.
“It is outrageous that public input was not allowed when the city created the ‘agreement’ with the drilling and fracking company to open up two square miles of land for fracking,” said Gary Wockner of Clean Water Action. “And now to have a final vote on this extremely controversial issue in an adjourned meeting with no information available to the public or public input is ridiculous.”
"Councilmember Gerry Horak needs to vote to completely ban fracking in Fort Collins,” said Jodee Brekke of the Colorado chapter of The Mothers Project: Mothers for Sustainable Energy. “Otherwise it's a sad situation of an elected official being persuaded by industry wealth over the health and welfare of the families and citizens he is sworn to protect."
"The citizens of Fort Collins spoke loud and clear to ban this dangerous, industrial activity last month,” said Sam Schabacker of Food & Water Watch. “It is unconscionable that the City Council is considering lifting the moratorium and punching massive loopholes in the ban on fracking. We call upon the Fort Collins City Council to protect our health, environment and safety by keeping the fracking moratorium in place and the ban intact."
"The city council needs to listen to their constituents, who've made it abundantly clear that they don't want the dangerous polluting process of fracking near their community, and not let back room meetings sway their initial promise to voters to ban fracking," said Micah Parkin of 350 Colorado.
“Councilman Horak was elected by the citizens of Fort Collins, not by the oil and gas industry, and the citizens have been clear in their support of a ban on fracking. So we hope that is who Councilman Horak is representing on the Tuesday vote with a commitment to protect the public health and the environment of Fort Collins,” said Jeanne Bassett of Environment Colorado.
“Councilman Horak has an obligation to come clean with the citizens he represents,” said Shane Davis of the Sierra Club–Poudre Canyon Group. “It is important that he do so swiftly and in good faith.”
Clean Water Action will be live tweeting the meeting Tuesday evening from @CleanWaterCO1
Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.
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The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.
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By Jason Bruck
Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.
Researchers work with trained dolphins to learn more about their sensory abilities, seen here testing a dolphin's hearing. Jason Bruck / CC BY-ND
A Lot to Learn From Hormones<p>When sampling the blow, we are looking for hormones in mucus as these can be used to gauge psychological and physiological health. We are specifically interested in <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0114062" target="_blank">hormones like cortisol</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ygcen.2018.04.003" target="_blank">progesterone</a>, which indicate stress levels and reproductive ability respectively, but can also help determine overall health.</p><p>Additionally, blow samples can detect <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.1128%2FmSystems.00119-17" target="_blank">respiratory pathogens</a> in the lungs or nasal passages - blowholes evolved from noses after all.</p><p>This health analysis is especially important in areas with oil spills as the chemicals can cause hormonal problems that harm <a href="https://www.carmmha.org/investigating-how-oil-spills-affect-dolphins-and-whales/" target="_blank">development, metabolism and reproduction</a> in dolphins.</p><p>Hormone samples can provide scientists with valuable data, but collecting them from intelligent and unpredictable animals is challenging.</p>
Cetacean Collaborators<p>To build a drone that can stealthily collect spray from moving dolphins, we needed more data on their eyesight and hearing, and this is data that couldn't be collected in the wild nor simulated in a lab.</p><p>We worked with dolphins at facilities like Dolphin Quest in Bermuda, which provides guests opportunities to learn about dolphins while allowing <a href="https://dolphinquest.com/about-us/our-story/" target="_blank">scientists access to animals for noninvasive research</a>. Here the dolphins can swim away if they choose not to work with us, so we had to design the study like a game; the way a kindergarten teacher entertains a class. If the dolphins aren't interested, we don't get to do the science.</p><p>Over the course of hundreds of sessions, we sought to answer two questions: What can dolphins hear and what can they see around their heads?</p><p>To test dolphin hearing, we set up microphones and cameras to record dolphin behavior as we played drone noise in the air. We analyzed the responses to each noise – such as how many dolphins looked at the speaker – and used these as a proxy for their ability to hear the sounds.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5f31daf07a652b8d64a093b993ee4e96"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UjmQeH3vXHI?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Robodolphin doesn't look like a real dolphin, but it doesn't need to in order to train our drone pilots. C.J. Barton / Oklahoma State University / CC BY-ND<p>To build robodolphin, we worked with dolphins trained to "chuff" or sneeze on command to measure spray characteristics. We used high-speed photography to see the dolphins' breath as it moved through the air. Then we conducted high resolution CT scans of a dolphin head and 3D-printed a replica of a nasal passage.</p><p>Now, we have a complete robodolphin and are tweaking its sprays to be nearly identical to the real thing. This will allow us to determine how close we need to get to collect the samples, and therefore, how quiet our drone needs to be.</p>
The replica dolphin blowhole was designed from a scan of a real blowhole passage, and the spray it produces closely matches the real thing. Alvin Ngo, Mitch Ford and CJ Barton / Oklahoma State University / CC BY-ND
A Bit of Practice, Then Into the Wild<p>In the next few months, we will test flights over robodolphin with existing drones to determine the timing and strategy for collection. From there, we will fabricate a low-noise drone that can fly fast enough and with sufficient maneuverability to capture samples from wild dolphins. Like a video game, we will use the visual field data to develop approach trajectories to stay in the visual blindspots.</p><p>We plan to test our drones on a truck-mounted robodolphin moving down a runway, then using a boat to simulate realistic conditions. The next steps will involve ocean testing with dolphins trained for open ocean swimming. These tests will determine if our devices can catch and hold the hormones as the drone flies back to a researcher's boat.</p><p>Finally, we will deploy the system to collect data on wild dolphins. Our first goal is to test resident dolphins – animals that live on the coasts and deal directly with boat and oil industry noise – which will allow us to learn more about stress resulting from human impacts.</p><p>Those samples are a way off, but if all goes well we will have a specially built drone capable of flying long distances and capturing samples undetected in a few years. The samples collected will allow researchers to do better science with impact on the animals they study.</p>
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Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons (Mt), or 7.3 kilogram per person, a UN report showed on Thursday.
Environmental and Health Hazard<p>Experts say e-waste, which is now the world's fastest-growing domestic waste stream, poses serious environmental and health risks.</p><p>Simply throwing away electronic items without ensuring they get properly recycled leads to the loss of key materials such as iron, copper and gold, which can otherwise be recovered and used as primary raw materials to make new equipment, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions from extraction and refinement of raw materials.</p><p>Refrigerants found in electronic equipment such as fridge and air conditioners also contribute to global warming. A total of 98 Mt of CO2-equivalents, or about 0.3% of global energy-related emissions, were released into the atmosphere in 2019 from discarded refrigerators and ACs that were not recycled properly, the report said.</p><p>E-waste contains several toxic additives or hazardous substances, such as mercury and brominated flame retardants (BFR), and simply burning it or throwing it away could lead to serious health issues. Several studies have linked unregulated recycling of e-waste to adverse birth outcomes like stillbirth and premature birth, damages to the human brain or nervous system and in some cases hearing loss and heart troubles.</p><p>"Informal and improper e-waste recycling is a major emerging hazard silently affecting our health and that of future generations. One in four children are dying from avoidable environmental exposures," said Maria Neira, director of the Environment, Climate Change and Health Department at the World Health Organization. "One in four children could be saved, if we take action to protect their health and ensure a safe environment."</p>
Europe Leads the Way<p>While most of the e-waste was generated in Asia (24.9 Mt) in 2019, Europe led the charts on a per person basis with 16.2 kg per capita, the report said.</p><p>But the continent also recorded the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/the-eu-declares-war-on-e-waste/a-51108790" target="_blank">highest documented formal e-waste collection and recycling</a> rate at 42.5%, still below its target of 65%. Europe was well ahead of the others on this front. Asia ranked second with 11.7%.</p><p>The authors said while more that 70% of the world's population was covered by some form of e-waste policy or laws, not much was being done toward implementation and enforcement of the regulations to encourage the take-up of a collection and recycling infrastructure due to lack of investment and political motivation.</p><p>"You have to think about new economic systems," said Kühr.</p><p>One approach could be that consumers no longer buy the products, but only the service they offer. The device would remain the property of the maker, who would then have an interest in offering his customers the best service and the necessary equipment. The maker would also be interested in designing his products in such a way that they are easier to repair and easier to recycle, Kühr said.</p>
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