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National Reaction: As coal country cheers on Trump, the coasts are worried

Perspective from around the country as the nation reacts to the President withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accords.

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PORTLAND, Maine — From coal country to the ports of Maine to the wind farms of the West Coast, Americans react to President Donald Trump’s announcement Thursday that he’s pulling the country out of the Paris climate accord.

Warming Water and Losing Lobsters

Tim Pettis, a Maine lobsterman, said he’s felt the effects of climate change in the waters he works in, and wishes President Trump could feel the same.

“I think most people believe that the climate is changing over the years,” Pettis said as he stood in front of stacks of yellow lobster traps. We can all see it, just because he doesn’t want to believe it, he shouldn’t be able to pull the whole country out on his own but he is the president so I guess you can.”

Pettis said he and his fellow workers in the far north have been beneficiaries from the changes so far, because there are fewer lobsters further south in places like New York and Connecticut.

“As the water keeps warming up, the numbers keep going down from the south up to us,” Pettis said. “The last three or four years we’ve been doing better lobstering and I think it does have to do with that.”

“Some of the fish are disappearing,” Pettis said. “We’re catching fish now in our traps that are southern fish; it just tells you that the water is warming up every year a little bit.”

Jersey Shore remembers Sandy, sees more storms

In Belmar on the Jersey Shore, Tom Rodgers, owner of TR’s Food Court, said he didn’t feel qualified to talk about science.

“You wanna know about Burgers, Fries I can tell you. You wanna know about climate, I’m really not an expert, so I leave certain things up to the experts. I just hope the president has done his due diligence and spoke to the right people.”

Rodgers’ restaurant was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, as were the homes of many in Belmar including Sandy Snyder.

“There was devastation here, the streets were full of sand and water, homes were damaged,” Sandy said. “They call it the storm of the century, but why was there a storm of the century when there are reports that climate change is affecting the planet, I think we are going to see more of it and unfortunately if we don’t take care of it now I think that is going to be the norm rather than the rarity.”

Snyder said he thinks “it is a very, very big mistake for the US to pull out of this agreement, It will open the door for other countries, other countries “that … are on the fence as far as watching climate control.”

Retired Coal Minter laments Jobs lost

In Centertown, Kentucky, retired coal miner Kenny Smith watched Trump’s TV announcement with approval.

“He’s keeping his promise that he’s going to help get the coal jobs back, help people get back to work, and that’s what we need, anywhere in this country,” Smith said. “You can go to Detroit, you can go to Pennsylvania you can go to West Virginia, there’s people that have been laid off for years, they’re just forgotten. And most of our factories have gone overseas, we need to get them back, I think he’s trying to do that.”

Trucks constantly rumble through town from the Midway mine, a major employer, but production has fallen from around 10 million tons of coal a year to less than half that figure.

Trump “said when he (got) elected, that’s the first thing, jobs, jobs, jobs. That’s what he said he’d do, and that’s what he’s doing,” Smith said. “I mean, I’m proud of him.”

Smith, 67, dismissed the idea that coal is unhealthy or environmentally unsound. He pointed in the direction of a coal-fired power plant.

“I’ve lived in this house since 1974 and that power plant has never made me sick,” he said. “There’s good jobs that come from power plants.”

West Virginia coal country eyes revival

In West Virginia’s coal country, Tod Tuttle, the co-owner of a small roadside grocery store near two mines, applauded Trump for what he’d done for the local industry.

“Under Obama our business was lacking big time. Trump’s taken over and we’ve come back around,” Tuttle said. “A lot of places here have come back around.”

West Virginia has had an uptick in coal production late last year and so far this year, attributed by industry officials to higher market prices and increased demand for metallurgical coal. Tuttle credits Trump.

“When the mines are working it’s booming like crazy,” he said. “When the mines are down … our business was just trickling.”

About the Paris agreement, he said that issue isn’t really with coal itself, which is still needed for reliable electrical generation without outages.

“You can burn the coal, and if these companies do it right,” Tuttle said. “They always blame the coal mines. It’s not the coal mines. It’s the electric plants themselves.”

California wants more wind, change of direction

The president’s decision disappointed Nancy Rader, executive director of the California Wind Energy Association.

The Berkeley-based nonprofit is supported by makers of wind turbines, contractors, component suppliers and project developers.

“I think it’s pretty sad that Trump sees this in terms of a deal, as something as simple as that,” Rader said. “This is about the future of the planet. This is about the health and safety of our children.”

California and other states already are working to reduce carbon emissions by shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy and the cost of such alternatives has dropped dramatically, she said.

California and the United States must be on the “leading edge” of the shift in order to reap the greatest economic rewards, Rader said.

Rader also said she was heartened that leaders of other countries “understand that Americans generally understand climate change, we want to do something about it.”

“Unfortunately, we have a president that doesn’t get it right now,” she said.

One more thing...

Local and independent journalism is under threat in the West and you change that.  With corporate raiders slashing newsrooms across the West, the PULP is one of the "Last Locals" in Colorado to produce original, compelling journalism missing in today's profit hungry world. But that costs money, time and hard work. We don't believe in spamming you with ads or putting up restrictive paywalls and that's why we need your help.

For every contribution, we put 100% back into producing original and amazing journalism. That's a promise only a local and independent newsroom can promise. Take heart because you will fuel stories just like this one and the future of journalism.

Colorado

Western wild fires continue to rage as authorities worry over July 4 fireworks

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A growing wildfire destroyed more than 100 homes in the Colorado mountains, while other blazes across the parched U.S. West kept hundreds of other homes under evacuation orders and derailed holiday plans.

Authorities announced late Monday that a fire near Fort Garland, about 205 miles (330 kilometers) southwest of Denver, had destroyed 104 homes in a mountain housing development started by multimillionaire publisher Malcolm Forbes in the 1970s. The damage toll could rise because the burn area is still being surveyed.

Tamara Estes’ family cabin, which her parents had built in 1963 using wood and rocks from the land, was among the homes destroyed.

“I think it’s sinking in more now. But we’re just crying,” she said. “My grandmother’s antique dining table and her hutch are gone.”

“It was a sacred place to us,” she added.

Andy and Robyn Kuehler watched flames approach their cabin via surveillance video from their primary residence in Nebraska.

“We just got confirmation last night that the house was completely gone. It’s … a very sickening feeling watching the fire coming towards the house,” the couple wrote in an email Tuesday.

The blaze, labeled the Spring Fire, is one of six large wildfires burning in Colorado and is the largest at 123 square miles (318 square kilometers) — about five times the size of Manhattan. While investigators believe it was started by a spark from a fire pit, other fires, like one that began burning in wilderness near Fairplay, were started by lightning.

Nearly 60 large, active blazes are burning across the West, including nine in New Mexico and six each in Utah and California, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

In Utah, authorities have evacuated 200 to 300 homes because of a growing wildfire near a popular fishing reservoir southeast of Salt Lake City amid hot temperatures and high winds. Several structures have been lost since the fire started Sunday, but it’s unclear how many, said Jason Curry of the Utah Division of Forest, Fire and State Lands.

Darren Lewis and his extended family planned to spend the Fourth of July at a cabin built nearly 50 years ago by his father and uncle in a wilderness area nestled between canyons and near a mountain river.

Instead, Lewis and his family will spend the holiday nervously waiting to hear if a half-century of family memories go up in smoke because of the fire, which has grown to 47 square miles (122 square kilometers).

“There’s a lot of history and memories that go into this cabin,” said Lewis, 44, of Magna, Utah. “The cabin we could rebuild, but the trees that we love would be gone. We’re just hoping that the wind blows the other way.”

Meanwhile, a wind-fueled wildfire in Northern California that continues to send a thick layer of smoke and ash south of San Francisco was threatening more than 900 buildings.

The massive blaze was choking skies with ash and smoke, prompting some officials to cancel Fourth of July fireworks shows and urge people to stay indoors to protect themselves from the unhealthy air.

At least 2,500 people have been told to evacuate as the so-called County Fire continues to spread, said Anthony Brown, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Brown said the blaze, which started Saturday and is surging through rugged terrain northwest of Sacramento, has grown to 113 square miles (294 square kilometers) amid hot and dry weather expected throughout the day. It was 15 percent contained Tuesday.

“The weather is better than what we had over the weekend. But it’s still hampering our efforts and it’s an area of concern,” he said.

So far this year, wildfires have burned 4,200 square miles in the United States, according to the fire center. That’s a bit below last year’s acreage to date — which included the beginning of California’s devastating fire season — but above the 10-year average of 3,600 square miles.

Because of the Independence Day holiday, authorities are also concerned about the possibility of campfires or fireworks starting new fires because of the dry, hot conditions. In Colorado, many communities have canceled firework displays, and a number of federal public lands and counties have some degree of fire restrictions in place, banning things like campfires or smoking outdoors.

In Arizona, large swaths of national forests and state trust land have been closed since before Memorial Day. Some cities have canceled fireworks displays because of extreme fire danger.

In New Mexico, all or part of three national forests remain closed because of the threat of wildfire, putting a damper on holiday camping plans. The forests that are open have strict rules, especially when it comes to fireworks.

“We’re just urging people to use extreme caution,” said Wendy Mason, a spokeswoman for the New Mexico State Forestry Division. “We want people to have fun and enjoy themselves, but we prefer they leave the fireworks shows to the professionals.”

____

Associated Press writers Brady McCombs in Salt Lake City; Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Olga R. Rodriguez in San Francisco; Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Arizona; and Alina Hartounian in Phoenix contributed to this report.

One more thing...

Local and independent journalism is under threat in the West and you change that.  With corporate raiders slashing newsrooms across the West, the PULP is one of the "Last Locals" in Colorado to produce original, compelling journalism missing in today's profit hungry world. But that costs money, time and hard work. We don't believe in spamming you with ads or putting up restrictive paywalls and that's why we need your help.

For every contribution, we put 100% back into producing original and amazing journalism. That's a promise only a local and independent newsroom can promise. Take heart because you will fuel stories just like this one and the future of journalism.
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More firefighters called in to rein in Southern Colorado fire

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Crews struggled to rein in a wildfire that was spreading in several different directions Sunday in southern Colorado.
More firefighters were arriving to battle the blaze that has prompted the evacuation of more than 2,000 homes.
“It’s a very challenging fire, I’ll be honest with you, with all the wind changes,” Shane Greer, an incident commander with the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team, told residents Sunday.
Authorities said the fire east of Fort Garland was estimated at 64 square miles (166 sq. kilometers) after unpredictable winds pushed the fire both north and south over the weekend.
About 500 firefighters have worked to contain the flames since the fire began Wednesday. A second team arrived in the area Sunday and plans to take over fighting the fire north of Highway 160.
The first team will focus on the area south of the highway.
“Usually with a fire we can chase it … we haven’t been able to chase this because it keeps going in at least three different directions,” Greer said.
Authorities said they began assessing some areas this weekend to track destroyed or damaged structures. But they cautioned that conditions remain dangerous and said they want to be sure that information is correct before notifying property owners.
The fire was expected to remain active and grow in intensity with a warm and dry forecast on Sunday.
Highway 160 remains closed and officials said they could not estimate when it will reopen or when the evacuation orders will end.
The Costilla County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday said a man was being held on suspicion of arson in connection with the fire. It is not clear if Jesper Joergensen, 52, has an attorney.
At Sunday’s public update, officials said they do not believe Joergensen started the fire intentionally.
State emergency management officials reported nine other fires remained active around the state on Sunday. Officials near Durango hoped that a cold front would slow down one of those. The fire began a month ago and is estimated at 77 square miles.
The Durango Herald reported that authorities planned to relocate some crews and equipment to help firefighters guarding communities as the flames moved north.

One more thing...

Local and independent journalism is under threat in the West and you change that.  With corporate raiders slashing newsrooms across the West, the PULP is one of the "Last Locals" in Colorado to produce original, compelling journalism missing in today's profit hungry world. But that costs money, time and hard work. We don't believe in spamming you with ads or putting up restrictive paywalls and that's why we need your help.

For every contribution, we put 100% back into producing original and amazing journalism. That's a promise only a local and independent newsroom can promise. Take heart because you will fuel stories just like this one and the future of journalism.
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Today we launch the PULP Journalism Project to Support the Capital Gazette and more

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From the Publisher of Colorado’s PULP Newsmagazine to the people who make The Capital Gazette possible.

In this space, we at the PULP had plans to launch Rocket PULP, our PULP Journalism Project. We had planned a huge roll-out of PULP Universe memberships, collaborations with national writers, universities, and local creatives. Most importantly, I wanted to talk about how we rebuild Colorado storytelling for the 21st century.

But with what happened yesterday in Annapolis, Maryland – where journalists at The Capital Gazette were attacked and five people were killed – it’s more appropriate to show you what I believe in as a local publisher to help rebuild another newsroom.

I want the PULP to stand for something more than corporate profits off of local people.
We have been fighting and scratching for Southern Colorado for years now, trying to tell the local story of us as a people. At our core, beyond breaking news and telling stories in this hard region to live, PULP is about the spirit of Southern Colorado through collaboration. I believe if we all win – we all win. In fact, this spirit of “We Are…” has been our guiding principle since 2010.

So instead of asking you to join the PULP Universe in July to fuel Colorado journalism, I’m asking you to join the PULP Universe to help the families in Annapolis. For any new PULP Membership for the entire month of July, we will give half — 50 percent — to The Capital Gazette family.

Why do this? Speaking to you as an owner and publisher, well before the shooting in Maryland, I’d often look out our massive storefront windows and think, “My god, what if we are attacked? How in the world would I take care of my people?” This shooting has affected me personally and this is what I can do to help others.

We may be the new kids on the news block in Colorado, but that doesn’t mean we should act small. In Southern Colorado, you’re taught that we may not have much here, but we are all family – so give if you can, but more importantly, always look to help when you must. Supporting the Capital Gazette is something the PULP Journalism Project must do.

Please give what you can, even if it’s just $1. Let’s show a fellow newsroom that the PULP Universe in Colorado stands for supporting the storytellers across every universe.

To learn more about the PULP Journalism Project follow rocketpulp.com for updates. Our news site can be found at pueblopulp.com, but today go to capitalgazette.com instead.

We Are Friends and Family,
John Rodriguez and the PULP Team
Owner / Publisher of PULP

One more thing...

Local and independent journalism is under threat in the West and you change that.  With corporate raiders slashing newsrooms across the West, the PULP is one of the "Last Locals" in Colorado to produce original, compelling journalism missing in today's profit hungry world. But that costs money, time and hard work. We don't believe in spamming you with ads or putting up restrictive paywalls and that's why we need your help.

For every contribution, we put 100% back into producing original and amazing journalism. That's a promise only a local and independent newsroom can promise. Take heart because you will fuel stories just like this one and the future of journalism.
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