February 8, 2011
February 10, 2008
It seems that I have a compulsion to photograph trains. My rationale for this is that they are actually a very fuel efficient means of freight transport relative to other methods and deserve more attention for that reason. My wife however, says it’s because they are easier to track than wildlife. (Sorry, I just had to include that remark… couldn’t help myself!)
This freight transportation comparison is from the US Transportation Energy book for 2004, rating fuel consumption in BTU’s per ton mile: Air freight – 9,600; Heavy trucks – 3,357; Class 1 Railroads – 341. (Roughly 10 times more efficient than trucks, 30 times more efficient than air freight.) Interestingly enough you don’t hear much about this, even with the current focus on energy use. Are we ignoring something?
December 18, 2007
In this morning’s Billings Gazette was an article about Montana’s main supplier of electrical power, and here is an excerpt from it:
“NorthWestern Energy intends to double its wind power capacity over the next seven years but foresees no new coal plant construction due to uncertainty over global warming, according to documents released by the company Monday.”
Personally, I view this as very good news on a local scale, and yet….
Yesterday this train was headed east with over a hundred empty coal cars, returning to the coal fields of southeastern Montana or perhaps Wyoming.
This morning in another train just like it, this time heading west, were 117 cars, all of them heavily loaded with coal, bound most likely for the Port of Seattle, then on to China. But does it really matter where it goes? Ultimately it will end up in the air we breathe, whether that happens here in the States or whether it takes place overseas. I see one of these trains traveling these rails every single day, and that is one heck of a lot of coal!
Nine miles to the north of that scene and a mile above it is this one.
These clean white clouds and pure blue air are what we are willing to sacrifice as we continually attempt to satisfy an insatiable demand for energy. Hasn’t the world heard of conservation?
November 21, 2007
The issue was whether to permit 540 snowmobiles per day into Yellowstone or limit winter access to guided snow coaches.
“Snowmobile opponents wanted to see the machines eliminated from the park, saying they cause air and noise pollution, while snowmobile supporters want more, arguing many local businesses rely on income from snowmobilers.”
So, the argument was reducing air and noise pollution in the Parks versus local businesses relying on income from snowmobilers, and
guess who won?
THE INFAMOUS MAGIC WORDS “public access” again!
November 17, 2007
“it’s important I have written proof that Montanans don’t want members from New York and Connecticut dictating our land-use policy” (this is taken from a press release by Denny Rehberg, Montana’s sole member of the House of representatives, concerning his opposition to the Wilderness Bill, H.R. 1975. In the opening sentence of that release, he also called it a bill, “which would harm public access and recreation in Montana”.
It seems that every time an issue concerning the preservation of our National Forests or Parks arises, Montana’s representative the the House, Denny Rehberg, and Senator Max Baucus, throw their heads back and start braying about “public access” and outsiders “dictating our land-use policy”.
Some 50 miles south of Billings Montana lie the Pryor Mountains, a 78,000 acre high-country zone partly in the Custer National Forest. The Pryors now face a huge problem: unmanaged ATV and dirt bike riders are scarring the land, using and creating illegal trails through large parts of that area.
In a recent edition of the Billings Gazette, is printed a letter by a person defending the Pryors. Here is a link to the letter: Don’t let Pryor Mountains get chewed up by ATVs.
The letter itself is not all that informative, but if you are interested in seeing what some of the local people think “public access” means and why it will take outsiders to protect the National Forest lands in Montana, read the comments after the letter. It suggests to me that Montanans are more interested in playing with their motor toys than they are in protecting the environment!
The Custer National Forest is asking for comments on their new plan for this area, and the comment period is now open until December 19. This is a National Forest issue and therefore concerns not just the residents of Montana, but all of the citizens of the United States. For those of you interested in making your opinions known to the Forest Service about OHV use in our National Forests and helping make a difference, the following link will take you to the website of the Pryors Coalition where you will find more information about the situation in the Pryors and information about how to send your comment to the Forest: YOUR VOICE COUNTS!
November 15, 2007
As reported in this story, when 86 lawmakers across the U.S. asked the Park Service to limit motorized winter travel in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks to trips aboard guided snowcoaches as a means of protecting the Parks, guess who the 10 politicians were who got together to oppose that plan, saying “the need to preserve the parks needs to be balanced against public access“? (Essentially the same argument was used against the Wilderness Bill, HR 1975.)
The 10 are:
Denny Rehberg, (R) Representative, Montana
Jon Tester, (D) Senator, Montana
Max Baucus, (D) Senator, Montana
Bill Sali, (R) Representative, Idaho
Michael K. Simpson, (R) Representative, Idaho
Larry Craig, (R) Senator, Idaho
Mike Crapo, (R) Senator, Idaho
Barbara Cubin, (R) Representative, Wyoming
John Barrasso, (R) Senator, Wyoming
Michael Enzi, (R) Senator, Wyoming
It’s becoming obvious that these western politicians feel that the magic words “public access” provide an almost universal excuse for permitting all possible exploitation of the outdoors. Who would dare to be so cynical as to say that maintaining their constituents’ ability to make the maximum amount money from the National Parks in their area, despite whatever damage it might incur, has anything to do with it? I guess it must not be all that important to be concerned about the environment. (Don‘t worry about the world of Nature: what the heck… it‘s not as if we can’t make more!)
They remind me of a group of prostitutes who, when there is a crackdown on their activities, counter it by advertising “everyday low prices”!
The real argument here should be about how and what it takes to adequately protect the environment of the parks. When, and only when that has been determined and accomplished does it become appropriate to address the amount and types of access that are reasonable and acceptable. Until then to simply talk about “balance” between the two is nothing more than misleading rhetoric used by those to whose advantage it is to continue a maximum level of exploitation.