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24Jul/14Off

Can Scientific Advice on Coastal Risk Reduction Compete with ‘We Will Not Retreat’ Politics?

By ANDREW C. REVKIN

July 23, 2014 11:17 amJuly 23, 2014 2:55 pm

The National Research Council, the nation’s top independent science advisory body, has issued “Reducing Coastal Risks on the East and Gulf Coasts” — a smart report that should be read by anyone — particularly elected officials — in a coastal community. Below you can read an excerpt from the news release with a link to the full document.

I’ve written repeatedly on the great opportunities for limiting losses in coastal communities from storm surges and other threats exacerbated by rising seas. Of course, the “we will not retreat” and “bail me out” politics in coastal communities will always cut against a science-based approach to risk reduction. But it’s great to see an effort to inject a little rational thinking into the mix.

Here’s the release and report link:

A national vision for coastal risk management that includes a long-term view, regional solutions, and recognition of the full array of economic, social, environmental, and safety benefits that come from risk management is needed to reduce the impacts of natural disasters along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States, says a new report from the National Research Council.  To support this vision, a national coastal risk assessment is needed to identify coastal areas that face the greatest threats and are high priorities for risk-reduction efforts. [Read the rest.]

To read the entire article go to: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/07/23/can-science-on-coastal-risk-reduction-compete-with-we-will-not-retreat-politics/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

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States Against E.P.A. Rule on Carbon Pollution Would Gain, Study Finds


By CORAL DAVENPORTJULY 24, 2014

WASHINGTON — Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma are among the most vocal Republican skeptics of the science that burning fossil fuels contributes to global warming, but a new study to be released Thursday found that their states would be among the biggest economic winners under a regulation proposed by President Obama to fight climate change.

The study, conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Rhodium Group, both research organizations, concluded that the regulation would cut demand for electricity from coal — the nation’s largest source of carbon pollution — but create robust new demand for natural gas, which has just half the carbon footprint of coal. It found that the demand for natural gas would, in turn, drive job creation, corporate revenue and government royalties in states that produce it, which, in addition to Oklahoma and Texas, include Arkansas and Louisiana.

The report concluded that the rule would hurt states where coal production is a central part of the economy — chiefly Wyoming, the nation’s largest coal producer. States that produce both coal and natural gas, such as Pennsylvania, would experience an economic trade-off as diminished coal production was replaced by new natural gas production.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/24/us/states-against-epa-rule-on-carbon-pollution-would-gain-study-finds.html?ref=energy-environment

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Poll: Californians support global warming rules – unless gas prices rise

By Dan Smith

dssmith@sacbee.com

Published: Wednesday, Jul. 23, 2014 - 9:19 pm

Californians continue to strongly support their state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gases – until they find out it involves higher gasoline prices, according to a new poll released Wednesday.

The Public Policy Institute of California’s annual environmental survey also found majorities oppose the greater use of fracking for oil exploration (54 percent), increased offshore oil drilling (51 percent) and building more nuclear power plants (64 percent).

California’s cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will include fuels as of Jan. 1. That has prompted an oil industry-backed campaign for a delay or repeal amid predictions that the cost of gas could rise by 15 cents or more per gallon. Though a group of moderate Democrats in the Legislature has asked for a delay, Gov. Jerry Brown has shown no interest in doing so.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/07/23/6577831/poll-californians-support-global.html

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California climate change policies to hit pocketbooks

David R. Baker

Updated 8:46 am, Thursday, July 24, 2014

In California's fight against global warming, consumers may soon suffer their first hit.

Come January 2015, gasoline and other fuels will for the first time fall under the state's cap-and-trade system for reining in greenhouse gas emissions. Prices at the pump could rise as a result.

Until now, the state's efforts to curb emissions, boost renewable power and encourage alternative fuels haven't hit Californians in the pocketbook. Should gas prices climb, Californians, who back the state's climate change policies by a wide margin, would suddenly see that those policies carry a cost.

And their support, solid for years, might begin to buckle.

A poll released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California found that 76 percent of Californians back the idea of forcing fuel producers to cut emissions. Support plunges to 39 percent, however, if the move would lead to higher gas prices.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/California-climate-change-policies-to-hit-5642825.php

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Rehearing FERC Order 745 to save DR

Kathleen Wolf Davis | Jul 23, 2014

By Michael Panfil

Last month, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) announced it would seek rehearing of a recent US Court of Appeals decision, which changes how demand response providers are compensated in wholesale energy markets. The court’s decision was a setback for demand response, a clean energy resource used by utilities and electric grid operators that pays people to conserve energy during periods of peak or high demand.

Demand response balances stress on the electric grid by reducing demand for electricity, rather than increasing supply. This makes our grid more efficient, reduces harmful air emissions from fossil fuel plants, and keeps electricity prices lower. The court decision is significant because it invalidates FERC Order 745. This Order required that demand response be fairly valued in the wholesale energy market, allowing it to compete on a level playing field with more traditional electricity resources, like coal and natural gas.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.intelligentutility.com/article/14/07/rehearing-ferc-order-745-save-dr?utm_source=2014_07_24&utm_medium=eNL&utm_campaign=IU_DAILY&utm_content=243426

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Democrats at odds over Big Oil’s bid for East Coast drilling

A new poll shows 68 percent of Americans support offshore oil and gas drilling, but the issue is dividing Democrats in Congress. The Obama administration decided to allow seismic energy exploration off the Atlantic coast last week, suggesting offshore drilling may soon be a reality there.

By Jared Gilmour, Staff writer July 23, 2014

Washington — The US energy industry has produced a lot of oil and gas on land and in the Gulf of Mexico. Now it’s hoping to do the same in the Atlantic Ocean.

A majority of Americans support offshore oil and gas production, according to an industry-backed poll released Wednesday. But a push to reopen portions of the Atlantic seaboard to drilling is raising serious environmental concerns, particularly among those who live in the coastal communities nearby.

As midterm elections approach, the debate over offshore drilling is drawing battle lines in Congress – even within the Democratic party. Moderate Democrats from energy-rich states tend to see drilling in the Atlantic as a boon for economic development, while others say the activity would devastate local landscapes and wildlife – critical resources for local economies that rely on tourism.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Energy-Voices/2014/0723/Democrats-at-odds-over-Big-Oil-s-bid-for-East-Coast-drilling

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Dominion gains another approval needed to move ahead with LNG facility in Calvert

By Jenna Johnson July 23 at 8:15 PM

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and the two other members of the state Board of Public Works voted Wednesday to give Dominion Resources a tidal wetlands license, one more incremental approval needed by the power company as it aims to build a liquefied natural gas export facility in Calvert County.

In doing so, the governor dashed the hopes of a small group of environmentalists who have been passionately fighting the proposed facility, which is expected to receive final federal approval this summer.

O’Malley was brusque in doing so. The Democrat — who considers himself a dedicated environmentalist and is weighing a White House run in 2016 — is typically spirited and engaged during these often-long meetings, asking questions, cracking jokes and, at least once, taking a moment to share a piece of poetry. But on Wednesday, he was terse and often lacked patience as the meeting went over the two hours he had allotted.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/dominion-seeks-md-permission-to-move-ahead-with-lng-facility-in-calvert/2014/07/23/a179cc90-1276-11e4-98ee-daea85133bc9_story.html

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In Pennsylvania, Dr. Frack will see you now

By Heather Smith

Original source: http://grist.org/climate-energy/in-pennsylvania-dr-frack-will-see-you-now/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Daily%2520July%252024&utm_campaign=daily

People who live near fracking sites have been complaining for years about headaches, nosebleeds, and birth defects. Now one such population, in Washington County, Penn., is getting some help in the form of free medical consultations — but not from the usual suspects.

Washington County is a place known for its many picturesque bridges. It’s also known for its “wet gas” — an underground smorgasbord of methane, propane, butane, and ethane that hasn’t seen daylight since the Devonian era. During the drilling process, most of this gas is captured, but a certain amount does leak into the atmosphere.

There has been some research into the risks of living in a natural gas drilling area, but not the kind of long-term, systematic study that would prove or disprove a connection between the gas and the health issues.

There are reasons for this. Some of them are political: Back in 2011, Philadelphia’s House of Representatives set aside $2 million to create a public health registry for tracking health complaints related to fracking, but the funding that would have made it happen was cut at the last minute. Any current complaints are referred to the state Bureau of Epidemiology, which keeps those complaints secret, citing patient confidentiality. In 2012, New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation asked the Department of Health for a review of the public health risks associated with fracking, but the commissioner in charge of the report kept stalling, and stepped down from the job this spring without ever finishing it.

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Halliburton fracking spill mystery: What chemicals polluted an Ohio waterway?

By Mariah Blake

Cross-posted from Mother Jones

Origjnal source: http://grist.org/climate-energy/halliburton-fracking-spill-mystery-what-chemicals-polluted-an-ohio-waterway/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Daily%2520July%252024&utm_campaign=daily

On the morning of June 28, a fire broke out at a Halliburton fracking site in Monroe County, Ohio. As flames engulfed the area, trucks began exploding and thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals spilled into a tributary of the Ohio River, which supplies drinking water for millions of residents. More than 70,000 fish died. Nevertheless, it took five days for the Environmental Protection Agency and its Ohio counterpart to get a full list of the chemicals polluting the waterway. “We knew there was something toxic in the water,” says an environmental official who was on the scene. “But we had no way of assessing whether it was a threat to human health or how best to protect the public.”

This episode highlights a glaring gap in fracking safety standards. In Ohio, as in most other states, fracking companies are allowed to withhold some information about the chemical stew they pump into the ground to break up rocks and release trapped natural gas. The oil and gas industry and its allies at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a pro-business outfit that has played a major role in shaping fracking regulation, argue that the formulas are trade secrets that merit protection. But environmental groups say the lack of transparency makes it difficult to track fracking-related drinking water contamination and can hobble the government response to emergencies, such as the Halliburton spill in Ohio.

According to a preliminary EPA inquiry, more than 25,000 gallons of chemicals, diesel fuel, and other compounds were released during the accident, which began with a ruptured hydraulic line spraying flammable liquid on hot equipment. The flames later engulfed 20 trucks, triggering some 30 explosions that rained shrapnel over the site and hampered firefighting efforts.

Officials from the EPA, the Ohio EPA, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) arrived on the scene shortly after the fire erupted. Working with an outside firm hired by Statoil, the site’s owner, they immediately began testing water for contaminates. They found a number of toxic chemicals, including ethylene glycol, which can damage kidneys, and phthalates, which are linked to a raft of grave health problems. Soon dead fish began surfacing downstream from the spill. Nathan Johnson, a staff attorney for the nonprofit Ohio Environmental Council, describes the scene as “a miles-long trail of death and destruction” with tens of thousands of fish floating belly up.

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Commentary: A talk with Russell Gold, author of ‘The Boom’

Posted on July 23, 2014 at 6:32 am by Matt Smith in General, Hydraulic fracturing

Russell Gold is absolutely marvelous. Not only has he spent over a decade as an intrepid energy reporter at the Wall Street Journal, but he has written a book, ‘The Boom‘, which is the quintessential history of the US fracking revolution.

The book provides a fair and balanced view on how hydraulic fracturing has kick-started the US energy boom, and I am so keen to spread the word about it that I have five copies to give away. But before that, here is an interview with the mighty Russell Gold himself, providing some candid and compelling insights. Enjoy!

1) You got to interview a number of super-interesting people in the research for your book; who was the most informative and/or intriguing?

To read the entire article go to: http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/07/23/interview-with-russell-gold-author-of-the-boom/

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Beyond the Rooftop: Commercial Net Metering in California

Commercial solar system interconnections might actually provide a net benefit to ratepayers.

Adam Kotin, Ben Peters

July 23, 2014

Net energy metering (NEM) in California lets businesses offset their on-site load through the same simple, straightforward tariff structure used by homeowners. A recent report from E3 called the NEM Impacts Analysis notes that commercial system interconnections might actually provide a net benefit to ratepayers, allaying utility concerns and protests regarding a supposed "cost shift" caused by NEM programs. In order to promote further growth in the commercial solar sector, new NEM options are being introduced to encourage customers to go solar.

Today, solar is truly cost-effective for many commercial customers with the right rate tariffs, load profiles and installation sites. Yet despite strong economics, thousands of farms, businesses and schools still have yet to unlock the value of onsite renewable energy generation. For example, while California’s farms and ranches generate nearly one-quarter of all on-farm clean power in the U.S., less than 8 percent of the state’s agricultural operations have invested in solar and other renewables. This demonstrates significant untapped potential, which could be stimulated by a robust NEM program that better serves commercial generators.

For California’s farms, in particular, solar can play an important role. The ongoing drought, which forces farmers to get their water from energy-intensive groundwater pumping, has caused energy costs to skyrocket. A recent UC Davis report estimated that farmers in the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta will pay an aggregate total of nearly $500 million due to increased groundwater pumping. Solar has already helped alleviate these costs for hundreds of farms. It could play an even greater role in making California’s farms more resilient in the face of a drought.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/beyond-the-rooftop-commercial-net-metering-in-california?utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=Headline&utm_campaign=GTMDaily

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Texas Is Wired for Wind Power, and More Farms Plug In

By MATTHEW L. WALDJULY 23, 2014

PANHANDLE, Tex. — The wind is so relentless that a week can go by before it is calm enough for a crane operator to install the 30-ton blades atop the 260-foot towers at the Panhandle 2 wind farm here. It’s worth the wait; a single turbine at the farm can produce 40 percent more energy than an average one.

But turning wind into electricity is one thing; moving the energy to a profitable market is another. For years, the wind industry has been hampered by such a severe lack of transmission lines that when the wind is strong, a local power surplus forces some machines to be shut down.

Now, Texas is out to change that by conducting a vast experiment that might hold lessons for the rest of the United States. This year, a sprawling network of new high-voltage power lines was completed, tying the panhandle area and West Texas to the millions of customers around Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin and Houston.

The project, its supporters say, is essential if states are ever to wean their reliance on fossil fuels and meet new federally mandated rules to reduce carbon emissions.

By any standard, the scale is enormous. Anywhere else, a big transmission project is a few hundred miles long and costs a few hundred million dollars; this is a network of 3,600 miles built at a cost of $7 billion, which is more money than the whole country has spent on transmission in some recent years. It comes to about $300 per person served by the Texas grid.

Nationally, transmission infrastructure is built only when circumstances demand it; in Texas, however, lawmakers have ordered an “if-you-build-it, they-will-come” approach.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/24/business/energy-environment/texas-is-wired-for-wind-power-and-more-farms-plug-in.html?ref=energy-environment&_r=0

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Why the California drought affects everyone

By Katharine Mieszkowski / July 23, 2014

Original source: https://beta.cironline.org/reports/why-the-california-drought-affects-everyone/

California Gov. Jerry Brown has asked restaurants not to serve water unless diners ask for it. He’s letting lawns at the state Capitol turn brown. Farmers in the Central Valley are getting just a trickle of the water they usually do. Conspicuous water wasters – commercial and residential – face fines of $500 a day.

Even Lady Gaga is pleading with Californians to conserve.

All of California is in a state of emergency because of the prolonged drought, now in its third year. And it’s more than just Californians who are feeling the impact – the state uses its scarce water to provide the nation with more food than any other state.

Here’s a guide to what’s causing the drought and what it means for all of us.

Drought is part of life in California.

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Drought Becomes Top Environmental Priority for Californians

Craig Miller, KQED Science | July 23, 2014 | 3 Comments

http://blogs.kqed.org/science/2014/07/23/drought-becomes-top-environmental-priority-for-californians/

Drought has moved to the top of the list in the latest survey of Californians’ environmental worries.

In a statewide poll conducted during the second week of July, more than a third of respondents (35 percent) cited water supply and drought as “the most important environmental issue facing California today.” That more than doubled the second most popular response, which was air pollution.

It’s the first time since the annual survey was launched in 2000 that Californians have cited water supply as their top concern, according to Mark Baldassare at the Public Policy Institute of California, which conducts the annual “Californians and Their Environment” poll. Even when asked the question in the drought year of 2009, only 18 percent pinpointed water supply as their biggest concern.

No other environmental concern, such as climate change, water pollution or traffic even cracked double digits in the latest survey. Only 2 percent cited fracking — or hydraulic fracturing — to recover oil and gas as their top concern.

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24Jul/14Off

Water restrictions backed by 75 percent of Californians, new poll says

By Jessica Calefati

jcalefati@bayareanewsgroup.com

Posted:   07/23/2014 09:00:00 PM PDT

SACRAMENTO -- Few local water agencies have forced customers to cut their water use amid the ongoing drought, but a new poll shows a large majority of Californians support mandates to turn off the tap.

Three-quarters of people surveyed across the state want to see their local water providers require reductions, the Public Policy Institute of California found.

Support for restrictions stretches across the state and tops 80 percent in Los Angeles, where water use has barely budged since Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency earlier this year, according to a survey the group released Wednesday. With Brown also pushing for tougher curbs, it appears the agencies themselves, who stand to lose money if Californians use less water, are the holdouts.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.mercurynews.com/california/ci_26206669/new-poll-75-percent-californians-support-local-mandatory

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