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Mountain News: Breckenridge tops Vail

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At issue is the perceived danger of global warming and what the local response should be. What is emerging at Telluride, and at other places, is the argument that communities should have not only the opportunity, but the obligation of providing at least a portion of their needs locally and from non-carbon sources.

Telluride resident Pamela Zoline-Lifton says San Miguel Power’s existing board misunderstands its mission. “They think they need to provide cheap, cheap power,” she said, “but what they really need to provide is responsible power, and they haven’t recalculated that yet.”

Triggering the dispute was the plan announced last year by Tri-State Generation and Transmission to build two and possibly three coal-fired power plants. Aside from large dams, coal is the cheapest source of reliable electricity.

Tri-State serves about a third of electricity in Colorado, mostly in the rural areas beyond the urbanized Front Range corridor, plus large sections of New Mexico, Wyoming and Nebraska.

Two of the 44 member utilities — Colorado’s Delta-Montrose and New Mexico’s Taos-based Carson Electric — have refused. Others, most notably Gunnison County Electric, hesitated, with much discussion about whether Tri-State has done enough to encourage conservation and develop alternative energy sources. San Miguel, which includes several counties in the San Juan Mountains, also hesitated.

A week before the meeting, Telluride had been host to a day-long discussion about our energy futures. Participants had been galvanized by images presented by national Geographic editor Dennis Dimick of glaciers rapidly receding and other effects attributed to the effects of global warming.

 

Oak trees coming to Tahoe?

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Big changes are ahead for Lake Tahoe as a result of global warming, and they’re already underway, says a scientist.

A study of 7,300 measurements over a 33-year period found that the lake’s water temperature increased about 0.88 degrees Fahrenheit (0.5 degrees Celsius). This is, says Robert Coats, a research ecologist with the University of California Davis, consistent with the warming reported at other big lakes around the world, including the Great Lakes, Switzerland’s Lake Zurich, and Africa’s Lake Tanganyika.

This is also about double the increase in ocean temperatures.

Most of this warming at Tahoe is explained by increased night-time temperatures of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius).

Coats, preparing a lecture at Incline Village, Nev., told the Sierra Sun that while the effects of global warming are complex, interrelated and difficult to predict, it’s inevitable that there will be environmental transformation in the Lake Tahoe Basin. If precipitation and warming trends stay the course during the next century, oak trees — currently found 3,700 feet lower in elevation — will replace pine trees.