Water on the Ballot, Pollution Decline, Climate Art Controversy, and a Bat Named Roberto

Lots of new Nooze today. First, from Brett Walton writing for Circle of Blue, a good look at water issues on ballots around the country:

2012 Election Guide: Obama and Romney Say Little About Water, But Important Policy Decisions Await Certain Voters

Next week, voters in San Francisco will decide whether the city should draw up plans to end a century-old dispute over the environmental cost of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which supplies 61 percent of the city’s drinking water. The cost of removing O’Shaughnessy Dam and replacing both its storage capacity and the energy it generates would cost between $US 3 billion and $US 10 billion, according to estimates by the state of California.

But supporters say the benefits outweigh the costs to bring back a beloved natural wonder, a lost valley in Yosemite National Park that Sierra Club founder John Muir called, “one of nature’s rarest and most precious mountain temples.”

The fate of Hetch Hetchy is by far the biggest water-related item on any U.S. ballot, but it is not the only one... Read more.

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Next, Craig Welch with The Seattle Times discusses how the state of air quality in Puget Sound is looking up:

Air pollution from Puget Sound ports is decline, survey finds

Five years ago, environmental regulators discovered that nearly a third of the worst air pollution around Puget Sound was linked to the region's marine system.

Tugs, ferry boats, oceangoing vessels and the trucks, trains and forklifts that ferry goods to and from container ships made communities around the region's ports among the dirtiest places in the state.

But they're improving fast.

On Tuesday, a new detailed survey of air emissions showed the most dangerous type of pollution associated with the maritime industry — the tiny toxic particles found in diesel exhaust — had declined 16 percent overall since 2005... Read more.

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Michelle Nijhuis writes on The Last Word on Nothing about how art, climate change, and industry representatives clashed on the campus of the University of Wyoming:

Carbon (Spin) Cycle

We’ve got a lot of dead trees in the Rockies. More than usual. As the region has warmed, bark beetle populations have exploded, and they’ve been killing off massive swaths of pine and spruce. It’s hard to miss the damage, and when British landscape artist Chris Drury visited the University of Wyoming campus in Laramie, he proposed to tell the forests’ story in an outdoor sculpture.

“Carbon Sink: What Goes Around Comes Around” was installed on the UW campus in late 2011. Funded by an anonymous donor and by the state Cultural Trust Fund, it consisted of a 36-foot-wide circle of logs from beetle-killed trees, arranged in a whirlpool pattern around a pile of coal. Drury hoped the sculpture would be left in place until it disintegrated, and the director of the campus art museum said there were “no plans to uninstall it.” It was, Drury said, intended to inspire a conversation... Read more.

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And finally, just in time for Halloween (ok, admittedly, a day late for Halloween), Bellamy Pailthorp with KPLU public radio interviews a bat named Roberto:

Bats are beneficial, says rehab volunteer

It’s Halloween – a time when black cats and bats are demonized or depicted as scary. But bats are actually one of the most unique mammals on the planet. Scientists say they’re vital to the health of our ecosystem.

So today, KPLU environment reporter Bellamy Pailthorp met with a woman who has taken it upon herself to re-habilitate as many injured bats as she can find... Hear more.