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26Nov/14Off

Obama to Introduce Sweeping New Controls on Ozone Emissions

By CORAL DAVENPORT NOV. 25, 2014

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is expected to release on Wednesday a contentious and long-delayed environmental regulation to curb emissions of ozone, a smog-causing pollutant linked to asthma, heart disease and premature death.

The sweeping regulation, which would aim at smog from power plants and factories across the country, particularly in the Midwest, would be the latest in a series of Environmental Protection Agency controls on air pollution that wafts from smokestacks and tailpipes. Such regulations, released under the authority of the Clean Air Act, have become a hallmark of President Obama’s administration.

Environmentalists and public health advocates have praised the E.P.A. rules as a powerful environmental legacy. Republicans, manufacturers and the fossil fuel industry have sharply criticized them as an example of costly government overreach.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/26/us/politics/obama-to-introduce-sweeping-new-controls-on-ozone-emissions.html?ref=energy-environment&_r=0

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26Nov/14Off

Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Rules on Mercury From Power Plants

By ADAM LIPTAK and CORAL DAVENPORTNOV. 25, 2014

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to hear a major challenge to the limits set by the Obama administration on emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants from coal-fired power plants.

It is the latest effort by industry groups to roll back regulations that would reduce emissions like mercury, soot, sulfur, smog and carbon dioxide. The case also threatens to undermine one of the administration’s most significant victories and chip away at President Obama’s legacy.

John Walke, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council, called the regulation of mercury emissions that are at issue in the new case “the greatest clean air achievement of the Obama administration’s first term.”

The industry groups say the Environmental Protection Agency is overstepping its authority under the Clean Air Act by issuing the series of regulations. Republicans have attacked the rules as a “war on coal” and an example of what they say is the executive branch’s overreach.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/26/us/politics/supreme-court-to-hear-case-on-costs-of-clean-air-act.html?ref=energy-environment

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26Nov/14Off

Andrew Cuomo now sounds like a Republican when he talks about climate change

By Ben Adler on 25 Nov 2014

Original source: http://grist.org/climate-energy/andrew-cuomo-now-sounds-like-a-republican-when-he-talks-about-climate-change/

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) wants to run for president. He may not run in 2016 because he’s being bigfooted by a certain former senator from his own state, but everything he does is with an eye toward a national election. And Cuomo’s understanding of the national electorate is frozen in amber from the era when he came of age. He constantly worries about seeming too liberal, and defines that in rigid, outdated terms.

He’s the son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo, a great liberal orator , but he is running away from his father’s legacy. Andrew refuses to let New York City raise its minimum wage or pass a tiny tax increase on the super-rich. Cuomo won’t even help Democrats retake the state Senate because he fears they would then send him progressive legislation and he would have to actually sign or veto it and risk offending some potential future constituency.

Cuomo has neglected economic inequality, punted on fracking, and undermined ethics reform, thereby inciting a surprisingly strong liberal primary challenge this year from a law professor named Zephyr Teachout. Some pundits, including yours truly, speculated that in response Cuomo would move leftward, perhaps by banning fracking. Instead, Cuomo has adopted the slithering rhetoric of a cowardly Republican who does not accept climate science.

New York City was devastated by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. The Buffalo, N.Y., area was just buried under a massive snowstorm, which is unusual for this early in the season. Cuomo acknowledges that weather is getting weirder, but he is refusing to acknowledge the reason. “We are experiencing a pattern of extreme weather that we have not seen before,” Cuomo told reporters Sunday after a press conference, according to Capital New York. “I don’t want to get into a political debate at this time about climate change causes, et cetera. Forget the causes. Is it global warming? Is it reliance on fossil fuels? Forget the causes. What is inarguable is the result.”

The cause of climate change is not determined by “political debate.” It is the subject of ongoing scientific research, which has led to an accretion of facts. It is not the case, as Cuomo implies, that whether human activity causes climate change is “arguable.” Of papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals, 97.2 percent of the ones that address the cause of climate change find that greenhouse gas emissions from human activity are responsible. The only thing “political” about the matter is the effort by fossil fuel companies and right-wing ideologues to sow doubt about the scientific consensus among the general public.

Cuomo’s comments on climate echo the “I’m not a scientist” dodge used by various Republicans. They’re particularly reminiscent of comments from Cuomo’s GOP neighbor, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who, when asked about the connection between climate change and Sandy, dismissively replied that he has no time to focus on “esoteric theories.” Christie and his whole administration avoid mentioning climate change or sea level rise in relation to Sandy.

As The New Republic’s Rebecca Leber notes, Cuomo’s actual record on climate and energy is respectable, but his foolish comments still matter:

He’s helping the state prepare for climate change by investing in adapting its energy and transit infrastructure. He has invested heavily in clean energy like solar. He has even advocated for a more aggressive cap on emissions through a regional cap-and-trade agreement.

But Cuomo is still doing harm by ignoring the role humans play in climate change, because it’s impossible to discuss solutions without addressing its causes.

The strangest thing of all is that Cuomo made a forthright case for climate science and climate action only last year, drawing the connection between global warming and dramatic weather shifts. Here he is in his 2013 State of the State address, his first after Sandy:

First thing we have to learn is to accept the fact — and I believe it is a fact — that climate change is real. It is denial to say this is — each of these situations is a once-in-a-lifetime. There have been — there is a 100-year flood every two years now. It’s inarguable that the sea is warmer and that there is a changing weather pattern, and the time to act is now. We must lower the regional greenhouse gas emission cap. And let’s make a real difference on climate change by reducing the CO2 cap. We must also increase our use of local renewable power sources. We propose increasing the use of alternative power, distributed generation of electricity, which will reduce the reliance on the large power plants.

So why is Cuomo now sliding backward into ignorant babbling? Local activists wonder if he is trying to create room to wiggle out of future environmental action. “Maybe he doesn’t want to get caught [having to ban] fracking,” says Kim Teplitzky, a Northeastern spokesperson for the Sierra Club. “But there might be a lot more to it. The state has a renewable portfolio standard that they’re way behind on meeting.”

Or the answer could be simpler: that Cuomo, a cynical, vindictive, hyper-political creature, wants to distance himself from the left. He thinks it’s in his long-term political interest. And he is mad at the progressives, many of them green, who backed Teachout’s campaign.

In an interview with New York magazine’s Chris Smith in late October, Cuomo offered this view of Democratic politics:

Bill Clinton wins saying to the left of the party, ‘You are unelectable.’ Bill Clinton gives a speech saying, ‘Mario Cuomo, Dukakis, Ted Kennedy are the politics of a failed Democratic Party.’ Bill Clinton does Sister Souljah, puts his finger in the chest of Jesse Jackson. That was after a period of left dominance. Clinton is then centrist-moderate-left, right? Sort of tacks back and forth between the two. Where is the national Democratic Party now? Well, they’re talking about Hillary Clinton. Her last name is Clinton, which represented that centrist-left platform. So I think that’s where the party is nationwide. And the Clinton philosophy is still a winning philosophy.

No leftward turn there. Cuomo is moving further rightward, and sensible climate policy might be the victim of his misguided political ambition.

More by Ben Adler


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26Nov/14Off

O’Malley says he is ready to allow ‘fracking’ in Western Maryland, with strict safeguards

By John Wagner November 25 at 6:48 PM

Follow @WPJohnWagner

Outgoing Gov. Martin O’Malley says he is ready to allow drilling for natural gas in Western Maryland, but only if energy companies adhere to some of the most restrictive public health and environmental safeguards in the country.

O’Malley (D) will propose regulations next month that start with the “best practices” of other states and nations where hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is permitted, administration officials said. The regulations will include additional restrictions on drilling locations and efforts to limit the risks of drinking-water contamination and air pollution.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/omalley-says-he-is-ready-to-allow-fracking-in-western-maryland-with-strict-safeguards/2014/11/25/36234f34-74b9-11e4-9d9b-86d397daad27_story.html

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26Nov/14Off

Controversial fracking chemical bill the opposite of what ODNR sought

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A bill approved by the Ohio House last week makes changes to how oil and gas drillers report hazardous chemicals to emergency planners and first responders. (Joshua Gunter/ The Plain Dealer)

By Jackie Borchardt, Northeast Ohio Media Group


on November 25, 2014 at 12:01 PM, updated November 25, 2014 at 4:08 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Proposed changes to Ohio's fracking chemical reporting law are drawing concerns from first responders and environmental activists, but Department of Natural Resources officials said they didn't ask for the changes.

A wide-ranging environmental and agricultural bill passed by the House last week would change the way oil and gas companies report chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, a process in which sand, water and chemicals are injected underground to break up the earth and allow oil and gas to escape.

ODNR spokeswoman Bethany McCorkle said the department requested a law change allowing it to establish an online database for this information, which could be accessed 24/7 by first responders, emergency planners and the public.

"This would be cutting-edge to have the information on a database anyone could have," McCorkle said. "This is very transparent."

But a provision added last week to House Bill 490 appears to block the public and neighboring first responders and emergency planners from the database. Environmental activists said the bill would hurt first responders' ability to do their jobs while giving more power to ODNR.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2014/11/controversial_fracking_chemica.html

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26Nov/14Off

Neighbors push back against drilling plan at South L.A. site

BY EMILY ALPERT REYES

November 25, 2014, 5:04 p.m.

Neighbors are pressing for an environmental study of oil drilling at a South Los Angeles location close to homes, arguing that the city should scrutinize fumes, noise and chemical usage before deciding whether to let the company drill wells at the site.

The Freeport-McMoRan petroleum company wants to drill a new well and redrill two existing ones at the Jefferson Boulevard site, located west of USC. The site is ringed by a wall, but nearby buildings overlook the drilling operations.

To read the entire article go to: http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-82090640/

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26Nov/14Off

Freeport LNG secures financing, clears way for construction

Posted on November 25, 2014 at 3:11 pm by Rhiannon Meyers in featured, LNG

rminals authorized by federal regulators.

Now that the company has successfully closed on its financing commitments, crews can start work this week on the plant in Quintana, Texas. In a ceremonial groundbreaking earlier this month, CEO Michael Smith said he hoped to launch construction by Thanksgiving.

The privately owned company plans to pay for most of the project — about $8.4 billion — with loans borrowed from an array of Japanese banks. The remaining $2.54 billion will come from two Japanese firms — Osaka Gas Co. and Chubu Electric Power Co. — that previously contracted to buy the liquefied natural gas.

Related: Freeport LNG announces financing for part of project

The first train should be operational by the third quarter of 2018. The second train should come online five months later.

To read the entire article go to: http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/11/25/freeport-lng-secures-financing-clears-way-for-construction/

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26Nov/14Off

Renewable energy a pockeboot win says eco-pioneer David Freeman

November 25, 2014, 5:00 pm

By Mark Jaffe The Denver Post

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Eco-pioneer David Freeman

For those who want cheap electricity and a competitive economy the answer isn’t in hanging on to fossil fuel technology but harnessing the free sun and wind, says David Freeman one of country’s eco-pioneers.

“We’ve built a better mouse trap, solar and wind on a life-cycle basis, which is the only way you should measure are cheaper than fossil fuels or nuclear,” said Freeman.

Freeman, now 88, was in Denver recently and talked about the energy changes in the four-decade arc of his career.

In 1977, Freeman was appointed chairman of the Tennessee Valley Administration, the federally owned power company that serves seven southeastern states and he was instrumental in stopping the eight large nuclear power plants and introducing energy conservation programs.

Over two decades Freeman served as general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the New York Power Authority and Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

“The march of progress in the package of technology – solar, wind storage and efficiency – has greatly exceeded my expectations. It is almost heartbreaking to see a debate that doesn’t reflect the technology,” Freeman said. “Even without the climate issue renewable energy makes sense.”

To read the entire article go to: http://blogs.denverpost.com/thebalancesheet/2014/11/25/renewable-energy-6/12331/

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26Nov/14Off

Yes, the U.S. can reduce emissions 80% by 2050 — in 6 graphs

By David Roberts on 25 Nov 2014

Original source: http://grist.org/climate-energy/yes-the-u-s-can-reduce-emissions-80-by-2050-in-six-graphs/

So, I’ve got good news and bad news.

The good news: There is no substantial technical or economic barrier that would prevent the U.S. from reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, a target that would help put the world on track to limit global average temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. In fact, there are multiple pathways to that target, each involving a different mix of technologies. Achieving the goal would cost only around 1 percent of GDP a year out through 2050, and if we started now, we could allow infrastructure to turn over at its natural rate, avoiding stranded assets.

The bad news: Pulling it off would require immediate, intelligent, coordinated, vigorously executed policies that sustain themselves over decades. Y’know, like how America does. [cough]

These are the conclusions of a new report on U.S. decarbonization from the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project, to which I drew your attention yesterday. The DDPP is a comprehensive attempt to determine how the world’s biggest emitters can put themselves on a pathway to the 2 degree target. It involves 15 research teams, one from each of the top 15 emitting countries, each doing work tailored to the economic and political conditions of its home country but meant, collectively, to create a global pathway to 2C. The preliminary results were released in September; now the chapter on the U.S. has been expanded into a full report.

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26Nov/14Off

Stalled Clean Power Alternative to PG&E Looms Large in New S.F. Electricity Law

Alex Emslie | November 25, 2014 |

Original source: http://blogs.kqed.org/science/2014/11/25/stalled-clean-power-alternative-to-pge-looms-large-in-new-sf-electricity-law/

In a move that could generate tens of millions of dollars for the city, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors passed legislation today that would give the city’s Public Utilities Commission a “right of first refusal” to sell electricity to private development projects in the city.

The SFPUC’s Power Enterprise currently sells on the wholesale market electricity that’s left over after municipal uses like powering City Hall. But the city could make about four times as much money selling to private customers at retail rates.

This new arrangement would switch the default power provider for many larger construction projects, and the long-term electricity needs of whatever’s getting built in booming San Francisco, from Pacific Gas and Electric to the city. It would allow the SFPUC to sell electricity to projects on public lands, those developed with public funds and any private projects seeking city approval.

Supervisors’ long-stalled effort to form CleanPowerSF, a city-run, clean-energy alternative to PG&E, looms large in the new law.

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26Nov/14Off

PG&E Hires New Security Firm After Attacks on Substation


Breaches Raised Concerns About Nation’s Security Grid

By REBECCA SMITH

PG&E Corp. hired a new security company this month to protect a substation that serves Silicon Valley in the wake of security breaches that have cost the utility millions of dollars and raised concerns about protection of the nation’s electric grid.

To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/articles/pg-e-hires-new-security-firm-after-attacks-on-substation-1416960755?mod=pls_whats_news_us_business_f

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26Nov/14Off

Sunnovations Pivots From Solar Hot Water Monitoring to Smart Water Heaters

Sunnovations is the latest D.C.-based solar hot water company to shift into other markets.

Stephen Lacey
November 25, 2014

With growth of solar hot water systems flat in the U.S., companies operating in the space are turning to other related areas of business.

In September, Washington, D.C.-based Skyline Innovations rebranded itself as Nextility, and expanded from solar hot water services into energy brokerage services for small businesses. Nextility CEO Zachary Axelrod insisted that the move "is not a pivot," but the sluggish pace of solar thermal adoption was a major factor in the decision.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/sunnovations-pivots-from-solar-hot-water-monitoring-to-smart-water-heaters

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26Nov/14Off

WELCOME, SOLAR

USHERING IN THE AGE OF A NEW ENERGY

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Illustration: Tavis Coburn

At the southern tip of Manhattan, stockbrokers, tourists, and food vendors hustle within sight of the Statue of Liberty. The Battery, as it’s known, earned its name for the artillery stations that once protected the island’s colonial settlements, but it’s just as fitting a title for the neighborhood where Thomas Edison chose to erect Pearl Street Station, America’s first power plant. Bringing electricity to more than 10,000 streetlights, the Battery served as New York City’s battery until it burned down in 1890.

More than a century later, the neighborhood has once again emerged at the front lines of a new energy revolution. Just seven blocks from the site of Pearl Street Station stand the country’s first buildings mandated to integrate new solar technology into their architecture—an emblem of how solar power is transforming from a darling among environmentalists into a mainstream technology for the masses.

And for places like the Battery, which sits just inches above sea level, the emergence of the environmentally friendly power could not only save its buildings money on their electricity bills but help prevent them from one day being swallowed into the Atlantic.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.theatlantic.com/sponsored/thomson-reuters-why-2025-matters/solar-power/210/?adbid=536963816416751616&adbpl=tw&adbpr=14412844&cid=social_20141124_36151947

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26Nov/14Off

Florida Regulators End Solar Rebates and Efficiency, Giving Utilities ‘Everything They Wanted’

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Here are some of the stories we’re reading this morning.

Stephen Lacey
November 26, 2014

Tampa Bay Times: Florida regulators approve plan to gut energy efficiency goals, end solar power rebates

State regulators on Tuesday approved proposals to gut Florida's energy-efficiency goals by more than 90 percent and to terminate solar rebate programs by the end of 2015, giving the investor-owned utilities virtually everything they wanted.

After almost two hours of debate, members of the state Public Service Commission voted 3-2 in support of staff recommendations that backed the proposals of Duke Energy Florida, Tampa Electric and Florida Power & Light.

The two dissenters, Commissioners Lisa Edgar and Julie Brown, said they could not agree with a plan that so drastically altered state energy policy.

"It's not the direction I want to go in," Edgar said before the vote. "I am uncomfortable going to the reduced goals. It is a policy and it is a statement, as a state, of what our energy policies are."

To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/florida-regulators-end-solar-rebates-and-efficiency-giving-utilities-everyt

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26Nov/14Off

Wisconsin Utility Sought Solar Fees After Regulator Advised CEO

By Christopher Martin Nov 24, 2014 2:24 PM PTA solar industry group appealing a decision to impose the most expensive solar fees in the U.S. said a Wisconsin regulator violated rules barring communication about pending cases.

Ellen Nowak, a regulator for the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, and Wisconsin Energy Corp. (WEC) Chief Executive Officer Gale Klappa participated in a panel together at a utility industry conference in June. Her discussions with Klappa at the conference should have disqualified her from voting on a pending rate case, said Bryan Miller, a co-chairman of the Alliance for Solar Choice.

“Nowak should recuse herself before their rate decision becomes final,” Miller said. “She’s behind the most expensive anti-solar ruling in the U.S. and we’re appealing it on both the substance and the process.”

To read the entire article go to: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-24/wisconsin-utility-sought-solar-fees-after-regulator-advised-ceo.html

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