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February 28, 2011

Host: Ted Simons

Solar Development on BLM Land in Arizona

  |   Video
  • Eddie Arreola, Supervisory Project-Manager for the Bureau of Land Management, Arizona‚Äôs renewable energy coordinating office, talks about the various proposals being considered for managing the development of utility-scale solar power plants on BLM lands.
  • Eddie Arreola - Supervisory Project-Manager,Bureau of Land Management
Category: Sustainability   |   Keywords: energy, BLM,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Conservation groups are urging the Bureau of Land Management to consider impacts on sensitive wilderness areas when selecting federal land for solar energy projects. Hearings will be held this week to get public input on the issue. Joining us now is Eddie Arreola, supervisory project manager for BLM Arizona's renewable energy coordinating office. Thanks for joining us tonight. We appreciate it.

Eddie Arreola: thank you.

Ted Simons; Let's talk about this. Give us the basics on the statement at the agency released regarding these applications for public lands.

Eddie Arreola: Basically we want to solicit comments from the public, basically we're telling them this is the results of our analysis, this is what we found, are there any additional comments you'd like to submit.

Ted Simons: What did you find as far as the agency is concerned?

Eddie Arreola: Basically we found we identified lands that are suitable for energy development, basically at what is suitable for the developer, and we went through a screening criteria stating we need to exclude areas with high resource conflicts. Areas that are critical to wildlife habitat. Etc., cultural resources, there's a myriad of screening criteria we go true.

Ted simons: It sounds like I guess there are three options, one is don't do anything, so we'll leave that one aside, but the two major options, let's start with the first one, it sounds like the BLM prefers this particular idea of solar development. There's 4.5 million acres here? Talk to us about that.

Eddie Arreola: Basically this option states that we identified 4.5 million acres that are suitable for solar. The analysis was done at a programmatic level. If we move forward with that 4.5 million acres we would still do site specific analysis to ensure there aren't any adverse impacts to that resource in that area.

Ted simons: We're looking at a map right now as far as the BLM lands available for solar development. The other one, the circle down there, that's the solar energy zone program. That's another option. How does that differ from the first option?

Eddie Arreola: Basically if we go that route we would focus in on those specific sites. And we would only allow solar development on those sites.

Ted Simons: OK. So one of them is 4.5 million acres, the second one, this second option seems like a lot less land, correct?

Eddie Arreola: Right.

Ted Simons: Why the difference there?

Eddie Arreola: Basically to analyze at a comparative difference. We analyze the site-specific areas at a more great -- at a greater detail. The larger aspect shows that we identified these areas as possible for -- suitable for solar development, but there's still some unknown issues that we need to address.

Ted Simons: Critics will say a lot of the area in the first option is sensitive wilderness, and is the kind of pristine wilderness that needs to be protected and shouldn't even be included. How does the agency respond?

Eddie Arreola: That's why we're holding these comment meetings. We want everybody to contribute their comments, tell us what they're their concerns are, what their issues are. You know.

Ted Simons: So basically what the BLM did was make it a big tent and hope everyone comes in and starts making things smaller and focusing from then on.

Eddie Arreola: Exactly it.

Ted Simons: sounds like the idea, especially from environmentalist and conservationallist, they like the idea if the land has already been disturbed in some way or already impacted. Try to go that land first as opposed to pristine wilderness. Does that make sense?

Eddie Arreola: It makes perfect sense. And Arizona is doing that in separate actions. And the draft is scheduled to be out in sent of this year. Basically what we want to identify is lands that have been previously disturbed and turn them around, reclaim them, and use them for solar development.

Ted Simons: So with the idea being best solar potential with the fewest environmental problems.

Eddie Arreola: Exactly.
Ted Simons: OK. It sounds like still in all, 22,000 some-odd acres over the next 20 years would be used for solar as projected right now. Is that somewhat accurate?

Eddie Arreola: Well, the accurate -- it's 200,000 acres, and basically that's under the reasonable foreseeable development scenario. Within the document. And basically what we did is take all our projects that have been moving forward through the analysis and that have been screened out, and could be developed to full -- into the full development phase, and that's -- those are the projects that are in place now. On BLM land.

Ted Simons; OK. So as far as getting public meeting and getting public input, what are you looking for? Who are you looking for and what do you needing to hear?

Eddie Arreola: Everybody. General public, special interest groups, developers, anything that we need to identify.

Ted Simons: OK. And we have public meetings the next couple days in Phoenix and Tucson? What's going on here? Give us some details.

Eddie Arreola: Yes. Tomorrow night at the Sheridan at 6:00 we'll have public meetings here. That's at the corner of I-17 and Dunlop. And then Wednesday night in Tucson at the Marriott.

Ted Simons: OK. And if people want to get some information because they're hearing this, I'd like to find out what kind of public lands are being considered for solar development and where these things are, what's the best place to go? What should they do?

Eddie Arreola: The best place to go is on our website, it's solarEiS.ANL.GOV. And it will give you an outline on how to submit comments.

Ted Simons: One more time with that.

Eddie Arreola: SolarAiS.ANL.GOV.

Ted Simons: All right. Very good. Eddie, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

Eddie Arreola: Thank you.

Sports Concussions

  |   Video
  • Arizona State University quarterback Steven Threet is calling it quits because of multiple concussions. Dr. David Dodick of the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale is a nationally recognized expert on concussions, and will discuss the injury that is common to athletes in some sports.
  • Dr. David Dodick - Mayo Clinic
Category: Medical/Health   |   Keywords: sports, health,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Concussions are becoming an increasing concern for those who participate in football and other high-contact sports. ASU quarterback Steve Tatge recently announced he was leaving the game because of repeated concussion and former NFL star Dave Dorson recent suicide is linked to head injuries suffered many years ago. Here to talk about concussions in sports is Dr. David Dodick, he's a nationally recognized expert. He's also the medical director for the Mayo Clinic's sports concussion program, and he's worked with the NHL to create rules to avoid concussions. Good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

Dr. David Dodick: great to be here.

Ted Simons: It seems like this is a topic that no one ever talked about, and in the past year, everyone is talking about it. What's going on here?

Dr. David Dodick: I think we're becoming more aware of what concussion is. Before we used to think concussion was -- occurred when someone had a severe blow to the head and lost consciousness. Now we realize it can occur with lesser degrees of injury, and we also are becoming more aware of the long-term effects of concussion. And that's why the level of awareness is increased, because when you can suffer persistent long-term neurological damage, it becomes important to pick them up.

Ted Simons; Let's focus and maybe expand. As far as brain samples of some of these athletes who have died, and brain samples have been looked at, what are they find something.

Dr. David Dodick: What neuropathologists are finding, they've turned this into chronic tramatic encephalopathy. It used to be called Dementia pugilistica, boxers would develop this dementia later in life. And it's not to occur -- it's thought to occur in about 20% of boxers. Now we're finding it in other athletes, particularly those athletes who participate in high contact sports, like football, hockey, and the like. So what neuropathologists are finding is these deenginetive changes that occur on the surface of the brain. And it seems to be very distinctive disorder, although it looks like Alzheimer's disease in many respects, it's quite distinctive and different.

Ted Simons: Go back to this 20% of boxers. I would think boxing would be the number one sport for something like this. Only 20%? Is that surprising to you?

Dr. David Dodick: Actually, only 20% were actually diagnosed. The question is, you can have lesser forms of the disorder, and it really -- it's not detected. So I'm sure that the instances probably higher than 20%, but that's the figure that's quoted in the literature.

Ted Simons: What does brain atrophy mean?

Dr. David Dodick: Shrinkage of brain tissue. When neurons in the brain degenerate, there's less volume of brain so the brain atrophies or shrinks.

Ted Simons: And doctors, pathologists are seeing that as well.

Dr. David Dodick: In addition to some of the more -- looking at the neurons themselves and seeing they've actually degenerated.

Ted Simons: How many concussions can cause this CTE, or this atrophy?

Dr. David Dodick: We don't know. That's the million dollar question. It would seem that it's repetitive concussive brain injuries, plus multiple subconcussionive brain injuries. An offensive lineman may have a thousand or more head impacts in the run of a year. Not all of them rise to the level that they cause concussion. So it seems that not only is it repetitive concussions, but these multiple subconcussive injuries where the cumulative effect builds over time. I spoke to a retired NFL players last week, I saw him as a patient, and I said, how many concussions have you had? And he said I stopped counting after 15. So we really don't know how many, and some concussions are more severe. And it's also probably has to do with the individual. I may be more vulnerable and susceptible to the effects of a concussion than let's say you.

Ted Simons: And most athletes, I think a lot of athletes, anyone who plays anything that's high contact has quote unquote seen stars after some kind of physical contact. Is that something that if you've seen stars numerous times it's something to be concerned about?

Dr. David Dodick: Yes. If you see stars or you get your bell rung or you're dinged, that's a concussion. That's a mild mini-concussion. As opposed to someone -- all the way to the other end of the spectrum where you lose consciousness. So there's everything from getting your bell rung where you shake it off and you stay off the sideline for a couple of plays, all the way to losing consciousness. And everything in between.

Ted Simons: I know we're still learn ball game this, but for those who get the bad one, the bad concussion, the knockout, two, three times let's say over the course of a career, or someone who gets their bell rung literally on a daily if not weekly basis over the course of their career, who is more susceptible, do you think?

Dr. David Dodick: Well, probably the athlete who's gotten their bell rung multiple times and has also had a few concussions. But we don't really know if you're -- if you're in a relatively noncontact sport like soccer, you've had two relatively severe concussions but you've got overthem, as opposed to an offensive lineman who over the course much 10 years has had multiple concussive, subconcussive head injuries over time it's probably the latter that is more vulnerable.

Ted Simons: Talk about the symptoms. How long before they can and often do develop?

Dr. David Dodick: About 50% of athletes, I'm speaking mere meanly about football, boxing, and other high-contact sports, 50% of those who developed this disease will complain of symptoms within about five years of retirement. And about a third will actually have symptoms upon retiring. So a good proportion, the majority, will have symptoms either when they retire or within five years. But it may be -- it may take up to 10 or 15 years to develop. The changes that occur in the brain may begin well before the athlete retires. So there was a recent case of an offensive lineman for the University of Pennsylvania, 21 years old, he committed suicide. His brain was already showing changes of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. So the changes may begin early, and then it accumulates and gets more severe.

Ted Simons: And again, as far as the symptoms are concerned, depression obviously, what else?

Dr. David Dodick: There are behavioral, emotional symptoms, personality change, depression, anxiety, sometimes impulse control, aggression. And then typical symptoms of dementia where have you memory loss, poor concentration, you can't remember where you parked your car or even worse. So it actually starts to look like Alzheimer's disease and even sometimes like Parkinson's Disease where people have difficulty walking. So it affects ambulation, speech, and memory.

Ted Simons: This is irreversible stuff.

Dr. David Dodick: And it's progressive. What we think is a cascade of events is set in motion. You might wonder well once the damage is done it's done, why would this continue to progress over time. That is a very important question that we don't have the answer, to but clearly it does progress over time.

Ted Simons: Is there a way for someone to know, obviously the brain sample and the pathology, that's the best way to find out, but there are scanning, are there ways to look at the brain now and say, this could be a problem in future years, this could be a problem right now?

Dr. David Dodick: Well, that is a very intense area of research right now. And so what we're doing, what some folks around the country are doing are looking for signatures of the disease on imaging, when you image the brain. Not just with CT or MRi, but looking for a metabolic or structural signature of this disease so you can tell an athlete at the age of 20, he's had two concussive head injuries, we're seeing markers that you're at risk to develop this disease, it's time to get out of the game. That's what we need to find.

Ted Simons: Is this something that because sports, athletes are bigger, stronger, faster, hit harder, concussions more frequent now than they were in the past, because football has been played for century, and hockey has been played that long at least, and folks have been hitting each other for quite a while. Why are we hearing about this now? Are they hitting each other harder?

Dr. David Dodick: That's part of it. They are bigger, faster, stronger than they were before. And some people say there's a false sense of complacency with the helmets. Back in the days when during gridiron football they used to wear a leather helmet. So people were much more careful of their head. Now they're of there's a false sense of security. They've got this big thick helmet on, now I'm protected. But you can't build a helmet that can protect against concussion. When you have a skull that's moving at 20 miles an hour and it stops, the brain keeps moving. So it doesn't matter what's encasing your head.

Ted Simons: What's the answer? New helmets, new rules? What do you want to see done with this increasing research?

Dr. David Dodick: Well, first of all there has to be an increased awareness and an education. Athletes, parents, coaches, athletic trainers, physicians need to be educated on what concussion is, how to recognize symptoms, and whether to take players out of the game. So that's number one. Number two, there has to be rule changes in the game. This retired football player that I saw last week, he said I couldn't coach this game right now because I always led with my head down. I don't even know how to coach this game anymore. So some rule changes eliminating head hits from the game, eliminating fighting from the game, is so very important. Making the game safer while not ruining the spirit of the game, making the game safer for the athletes and knowing when to pull them out, knowing when to return them and which athlete you shouldn't return, that's the answer.

Ted Simons: I've got to ask you, you want your kid playing football or hockey?

Dr. David Dodick: I knew were you going to ask me that. I played hockey, and I had my son playing hockey when he was younger. I think -- I love sports. I love playing it, I love watching it. As many of us do. So what I have my son play football, as long as I saw some rule changes in the game, and knowing what concussion looks like, knowing when to pull my son out, I wouldn't stop him from playing football.

Ted Simons; All right. Doctor, thanks for joining us.

Dr. David Dodick: thanks very much.

State of Education in Arizona

  |   Video
  • Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal explains what he told lawmakers about the state of education in Arizona.
  • John Huppenthal - Superintendent of Public Instruction
Keywords: education,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: John Huppenthal took over as Arizona's superintendent of public instruction last month. The former lawmaker returned to the capitol today to speak to the senate education committee about the state of education in Arizona. Here now to tell us what he had to say is superintendent John Huppenthal. Good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.

John Huppenthal: It's always great to be here.

Ted Simons: What is the state of education in Arizona right now? What did you tell the folks at the capitol?

John Huppenthal: Well, we have challenges. We're a border state, we have a lot of low-income minority children that don't have the advantages that many of us had when we were growing up. And as a result, we rank in the bottom 10 of the nation overall when you consider fourth and eighth grade results in the nation. So we have challenges, but we also have a lot of assets. We have a powerful system, number one in school choice for our parents, and that's a powerful asset to work with.

Ted Simons: Let's start with the challenges. The need for additional resources, how great is that need, and did it surprise you when you took office?

John Huppenthal: Well, there were some specifics. Our computer system, I wish when I was in the legislature somebody would have grabbed me a little harder and said, you got to focus on this. Because the computer system that handles and provides services to all the school districts, that equipment is so old, Hewlett-Packard equipment, when we call they don't answer the phone. They don't support it anymore. So it really is a major drag on our service systems, and the school districts rely on it, and it's not doing a very good job. So we're really focusing on that.

Ted Simons: But resources like the computer system and other aspects, I know you're looking for ways to partner with other groups, who are you looking to partner with, and how will that help as far as resources are concerned?

John Huppenthal: Well, in some ways when you have a stressful situation like this, you have to make due, and you can create assets out of it. We're partnering with the Maricopa County school system, they are going to help us, they need the information out of that computer system, they're going to provide us resources. Arizona state University, the same thing. We're working also with Maricopa County community colleges. So we in the end may turn a liability into an asset. It's forcing us to seek partners that maybe we wouldn't have been aggressive as otherwise.

Ted Simons: Are these partners, though, that are still would like to see a little more commitment at the state level?

John Huppenthal: Yes, and we do have some resources that the governor has freed up. She's been very attentive on this, and so we have a contract with her. They're very specific deliverables, and we intend to deliver on that. We brought in mark masterson as a really good career in the private sector turning around computer operations, and he's been doing a phenomenal job bringing our -- it's an antique, but we brought it up and got good service levels out of it.

Ted Simons; What is NAEP? A lot of folks hear that and it comes and goes. What is that?

John Huppenthal: It's the national assessment of educational progress, federal government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars creating it and making it a real good way to compare state level performance.

Ted Simons: How do we do in that --

John Huppenthal: well, we rank in the bottom 10 in the nation. Overall when you consider across the whole spectrum, math, reading, science, it's -- so we have a lot of challenges, our students rank in the bottom 10, but when you take school effects and subtract them out, our schools are average, but our students are in the bottom 10. A little bit complex to understand that, but we are -- our schools even average schools aren't good enough to move us out of the bottom 10. We need much better. And that's our objective.

Ted Simons: What's going on there with that dynamic, that disconnect?

John Huppenthal: Well, when you -- in order to compare our schools against the rest of the nation, you have to subtract demographic effects from school effects. So our school effects rank right at the national average. We're about 21st. Those school effects aren't enough to let our students out of the bottom 10. So the states are packed tighter than we would think, so we need to really be number one in the nation. We've got to take that on Florida if we're going to do a great job for our students.

Ted Simons: I want to get to Florida, but as far as NAEP is concerned, you call that the cream of the crop as far as getting that information out there. Your predecessor and other critics thought the sample size wasn't enough and didn't give it quite as much importance. Why do you think it's such a big deal?

John Huppenthal: Without getting into an argument with anybody, clearly for those I'm an engineer by training, clearly the sampling techniques, the measurement techniques, it's a gold standard. It's the appropriate way to compare states, to compare students and properly analyze to compare schools.

Ted Simons: OK. Back to Florida here. We've talked about this in the past, our big fan of what they're doing in Florida in a variety of ways. Why? And I think we understand Florida does things differently. There's more money for people in Florida, they do pre-K, they do all sorts of other things we don't do. They mandate the size of classrooms. Can we follow that particular model?

John Huppenthal: Well, the reason we're looking at Florida with so much interest is they've made the biggest move in the 40-year history of NAEP, the national assessment. When you see something like that, and it's validated by their internal state's test and the NAEP, so sometimes that's not true by the states. So clearly a huge gain so that creates interest. But they've done a lot of things there. So you have to deconstruct it piece by piece. The things we're focusing on are the Florida center for reading research, clearly cutting-edge stuff, and moving children to higher reading levels. We want to move all of that knowledge and technology here, and also the school district accountability. The letter grade system, combined with moving it up to school districts. Now when people vote on a school board, when the school board Goss to select superintendents or hold them accountable, they will know how they're comparing with other districts across the state.

Ted Simons: And in terms of this letter grade, how do you decide -- who figures that out?

John Huppenthal: We have a very good scientist, Robert Franciosi, he's as good as they come at deciphering through that. It's guided by his interactions with the technical expert panel and he's also going -- getting a lot of input from the state board and school districts.

Ted simons; So they are having some input, it's not like they're going to be surprised by the way this is done.

John Huppenthal: I think there's going to be a bit of a shock when the letter grades come out, there's going to be a bit of a shock across the land. When I -- when the legislation passed, I have a two-year transition to get them ready. There's going to be general knowledge about the letter grades but it's not going to be the accountability system.

Ted Simons: What kind of timetable for something like that?

John Huppenthal: Well, there's going to be general knowledge about what the letter grades are come July. So that's going to be released, there will be a public record, but the stuff that's going to be posted is going tonight previous system which had excelling highly performing was a little easier on the school districts.

Ted Simons: We'll look forward to that. Last question here, you mentioned today in front of lawmakers there at the capitol, your former cohorts down there, that you have a greater appreciation for how the law can impact something like education. How a simple sentence or simple phrase can make a very big -- talk more about that.

John Huppenthal: Well, the thing that's a lot more vivid to me now, I'm having to deal with the laws I created. And I'm like holy smokes, I never knew. Just a phrase in the law at the capitol can mean thousands, many thousands of hours of work in the field for school districts. So the thing I communicated to them is we're going to be more focused than ever at making sure we get it right and we're supporting them with their policy work there.

Ted Simons: And they seem to understand what you were saying, it was one of those, we'll just do what we want to do anyway?

John Huppenthal: I think senator Crandall and representative Goodale and the other members, these are as good a policymakers as I've come across in my career, so we're going to be able to work very well with them.

Ted Simons: Superintendent good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

John Huppenthal: It's always a pleasure.