Eco-briefs | Save the chubs

The Rio Grande chub.
Photo by Chad Thomas, Texas State University

Save the chubs

The once abundant Rio Grande chub has declined by as much as 75 percent and disappeared from the main stem of the Rio Grande, prompting WildEarth Guardians to submit a proposal to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the Rio Grande chub under the Endangered Species Act.

“The Rio Grande chub can’t survive without the river for which it is named,” Taylor Jones, Endangered Species Advocate for WildEarth Guardians, said in a press release from the environmental organization. “The Rio Grande and its namesake fish are facing unprecedented threats. Endangered Species Act protection will help ensure the Rio Grande chub does not go extinct.”

The Rio Grande River is among the top 10 most endangered rivers in the world, according to WildEarth Guardians. The river channel narrowed by 30 meters between 1998 and 2008, and the habitat the river once provided — cool water, sandy bottoms and riverside vegetation — has been fragmented by diversions for agriculture and domestic use, channelization and livestock grazing that’s removed vegetation. Low stream flows lead to increased water temperature.

— Elizabeth Miller

Congressional hearing requested on post-flood oil and gas spills

Assuming we ever get a functioning Congress again, among the things they may eventually find themselves quibbling through in the House of Representatives is a late September letter from Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), ranking member of the Committee on Natural Resources, and Rep. Jared Polis asking Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), Natural Resources Committee chairman, to hold a committee hearing “as soon as possible” on the spills and leaks at oil fields following the floods in Colorado. Polis and DeFazio suggested the Committee and Congress hear firsthand accounts from local elected officials, the COGCC, EPA response team members, oil and gas technology experts and conservation advocates about the spills and leaks of oil, natural gas and byproducts of their production.

As of the Sept. 25 letter, the EPA had received reports of releases of 90 barrels of oil, more than 1,000 gallons of produced water and more than 20,000 gallons of condensate.

“We are concerned that these spills and leaks may pose health risks to individuals who are already dealing with damage and destruction to their homes and property,” the letter reads. “As Congress continues to consider policies to expand domestic oil and gas production, we would benefit from learning more about how disasters like this can impact local communities, states and federal regulators.”

— Elizabeth Miller