Biofuels Tradeoffs (start time: 8:27): In this week’s show David DeGennaro, an agriculture policy specialist with the National Wildlife Federation and author of a report called “Fueling Destruction,” talks with host Susan Moran about the environmental consequences of biofuels, and about possible solutions. The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed maintaining record support for biofuels, namely corn. Last week the EPA ended an open public comment period leading up to a decision to maintain, increase or scale back its current support of biofuels as part of the Renewable Fuels Standard, a federal mandate to blend corn-based ethanol and other renewable fuels into conventional gasoline. NWF and some other environmental organizations, along with former California Congressman Henry Waxman, have been urging the EPA and Congress to reduce biofuels mandates. Increased demand for corn has led to the conversion of millions of acres of habitat-rich grasslands and into croplands — all without significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Joel Parker Executive Producer: Alejandro Soto Additional contributions: Alejandro Soto
Citizen Science (start time: 5:32): For those who would love to track birds and other creatures or to test drinking water quality in their community, for instance, but think it would require a degree in science to contribute to important scientific discoveries, our guest today aims to set the record straight. Dr. Caren Cooper is an associate professor of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University. An ornithologist, she studies bird ecology, conservation and management through the use of citizen science. She wrote a recently published book called Citizen Science: How Ordinary People are Changing the Face of Discovery. It highlights many examples of inspiring and important citizen science projects, including a meteorological-forecasting program and some others here in Colorado. Dr. Cooper is also director of research partnerships at SciStarter.com, which connects interested volunteers to a diverse range of research projects that they can work on. Additional citizen science programs can be found at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon Society’s Rockies chapter.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Alejandro Soto Producer: Alejandro Soto Engineer: Joel Parker Additional contributions: Beth Bennett Executive Producer: Joel Parker
Testing the Water (Start time 3:30) What exactly is in our water—the stuff we drink, shower in and use to wash our vegetables? This is a question lots of Coloradans have started to ask in the last few years as oil and gas operations have ramped up in the state. Several communities have become very concerned how nearby drilling operations might be adversely affecting the quality of their water supply. We’ve seen the videos of people living near to fracking wells lighting their tap water, and we’ve heard the stories about the possible health impacts but how much of this is anti-fracking dramatization and how much is there really to be concerned about? How much is energy development in Colorado affecting the water supply and how can we, that is Jane and Joe public, find out the vital statistics of our water quality?
Co-host Jane Palmer discusses these questions with hydrologist Mark Williams from the University of Colorado. Williams is the co-founder of the Colorado Water and Energy Research Center (CWERC) and he has conducted projects around the state looking at the impacts of energy operations on both water and air quality. He has also developed a guide to help residents who live near oil and gas development test their water. The “how to” guide shows well owners how energy-related or other activities might affect their groundwater.
Executive Producer: Joel Parker Producer: Jane Palmer Co-hosts: Jane Palmer, Ted Burnham Engineer: Ted Burnham Additional Contributions: Shelley Schlender
On today’s show we offer two interview features.
Last week the Environmental Protection Agency published a seminal report about nitrogen, which is an enormous environmental and public health problem that some scientists put on par with the carbon imbalance. Nitrogen is essential for all life, including ours, but excess nitrogen in the environment is turning out to be a predicament of crisis proportions. It kills fish, creates “dead zones” in places like the Gulf of Mexico, contaminates drinking water, and causes human illnesses.
Co-host Susan Moran interviews Dr. Hans Paerl, who has served on the EPA science advisory board and co-authored the report. He’s a professor of Marine and Environmental Sciences, at the UNC-Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Sciences.
Our reliance on petroleum-fueled vehicles can be blamed, at least in part for a wide range of problems we face today, from local air pollution to global warming, the balance of payments deficit to political instability on a global scale. One possible solution is to shift from a reliance on gasoline to the use of electricity for transportation. Co-host Tom McKinnon interviews John Gartner, a senior analyst at Pike Research in Boulder, to discuss the electric vehicle outlook in the U.S.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Tom McKinnon Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Ted Burnham