The Terra News

Featured photo from our gallery:

A Random Image from our gallery

28Aug/14Off

Forget the climate — cap-and-trade could fix your allergies

By Eve Andrews

26 Aug 2014 6:07 PM

Original source: http://grist.org/news/forget-the-climate-cap-and-trade-could-fix-your-allergies/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Daily%2520Aug%252027&utm_campaign=daily

How can we finally get people to care about carbon emissions even a little bit? Focus on how they are directly threatening the amount of time on Earth that we can spend snacking and sexting (clinically proven to be the preferred activities of humans in the 21st century.) Or, as The Atlantic’s James Hamblin puts it:

Researchers are learning that the most effective way around climate-policy ambivalence is to invoke imminent dangers to human health. “What’s killing me today?” with emphasis on killing and me and today.

The answer to that question is — you guessed it! — carbon emissions. As Hamblin reports, for allergy and asthma sufferers, increased carbon dioxide levels boost pollen count. One allergist expects pollen levels to double by 2040. Also fun: Fossil fuel combustion creates minuscule particles that hang around in our lungs and bloodstreams and then kill us. Air pollution caused one in eight deaths in 2012, according to the World Health Organization.

OK – so carbon emissions are threatening lives. But what kind of effect would limiting those emissions have on the economy? Those cap-and-trade programs sure seem costly!

Well, a recent study by a team of MIT researchers, published in Nature Climate Change, found that a cap on carbon emissions would end up saving $125 billion in human health costs – which would cover the projected costs of widespread emissions capping tenfold. Furthermore:

[The study’s authors] write that any cost-benefit analysis of climate policy that omits the health effects of regional air pollution “greatly underestimate[s] benefits.”

Share This Post
28Aug/14Off

If You Have Allergies or Asthma, Talk to Your Doctor About Cap and Trade

The cost of limiting carbon emissions would pay for itself in human health benefits.

James Hamblin Aug 26 2014, 11:17 AM ET

The polar ice caps feel remote. The threat of orioles permanently leaving Baltimore for cooler climates might be a little more compelling. But researchers are learning that the most effective way around climate-policy ambivalence is to invoke imminent dangers to human health. "What's killing me today?" with emphasis on killing and me and today.

For one, when there is more carbon dioxide in the environment, plants produce more pollen, which is no good for allergies and asthma. Rutgers allergist Leonard Bielory recently warned that pollen counts are projected to double by 2040. Likewise, U.S. foresters recently calculated that trees seem to be averting around $6.8 billion in human health costs annually, largely due to mitigating effects of air pollution (even if they do produce pollen). And already the World Health Organization is warning that air pollution is responsible for one out of every eight human deaths, largely because combustion of fossil fuels results in invisible airborne particles that get lodged in our lungs and suspended in our blood.

But is that worth the cost of implementing policies that limit carbon emissions? Some say yes.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/08/asthma-and-climate-policy/379119/

Share This Post
28Aug/14Off

A climate for change: A solution conservatives could accept

By Editorial Board August 27 at 7:22 PM

A PROMINENT member of Congress has proposed a comprehensive national climate-change plan. It’s only 28 pages long, it’s market-based, and it would put money into the pockets of most Americans.

This is not the first time that Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), a House Democratic leader, has made the point that the best climate-change policy is not complicated. He introduced a similar plan in 2009. The underlying logic is older still: Since the beginning of the climate debate, mainstream economists, left and right, have argued that the best way to cut greenhouse gases is to use simple market economics, putting a price on emissions that reflects the environmental damage they cause.

As economists see it, the nation is giving a massive implicit subsidy to the users of fossil fuels, who fill the air with carbon dioxide, imposing real costs on society, without paying for the privilege. Make users pay for the carbon dioxide they emit and they will waste less energy, while investment will flow into low-carbon technologies. The nation would obtain emissions cuts at a minimum cost to the economy.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-climate-for-change-a-solution-conservatives-could-accept/2014/08/27/782cba4e-2a01-11e4-86ca-6f03cbd15c1a_story.html

Share This Post
28Aug/14Off

The Washington Post wants to fix the climate debate — by featuring even more deniers

The Posts' bold new editorial stance is confusingly hypocritical

Lindsay Abrams Follow

Climate Week‘s come early at the Washington Post. The paper’s editorial board, at a pace of one op-ed per day, has decided to acknowledge that man-made climate change is an unequivocal reality, and that the time to take action is now. In so doing, boasts Fred Hiatt, the Post’s editorial page editor, it’s going to “unstick” America’s “devolving debate over global warming.”

Almost. As Joe Romm points out at ThinkProgress, there are still some major flaws in that plan. Chief among them: the Post hasn’t made it clear what an un-devolved climate debate would look like.

The Post is so, so close to getting there. Its editorial board is throwing itself fully behind the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is real, and that it’s almost certainly caused by human activity. That’s good, because those facts are no longer up for debate.  That same realization drove the Los Angeles Times, last fall, to stop publishing letters from climate deniers who challenged those facts. “The debate right now isn’t whether this evidence exists (clearly, it does),” letters editor Paul Thorton explained at the time, ”but what this evidence means for us.”

To read the entire article go to: http://www.salon.com/2014/08/27/the_washington_post_wants_to_fix_the_climate_debate_by_featuring_even_more_deniers/

Share This Post
28Aug/14Off

Palo Alto’s utility now provides guilt-free electricity

By John Farrell

27 Aug 2014 5:01 AM

Original source: http://grist.org/climate-energy/palo-altos-utility-now-provides-guilt-free-electricity/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Daily%2520Aug%252027&utm_campaign=daily

It’s one thing to own your utility with a commitment to renewable energy, but it’s quite another thing to deliver on it. In 2007, the municipal utility in Palo Alto, Calif., set an ambitious target of achieving 33 percent renewable energy by 2015, and ultimately a carbon neutral electricity supply. Seven years later, they are on track to reach 48 percent renewable power in 2017, and have been meeting their carbon neutral goal since late last year.

How can a utility be carbon neutral?

The foundation of Palo Alto’s energy supply is hydro power, making up as much as half of their total electricity generation each year, though it doesn’t technically count as ‘renewable.’ The utility purchased renewable energy credits to offset the other half of its energy supply. So while the carbon neutral target is impressive, it doesn’t mean no fossil fuels are used. Rather, on an annual, net basis, the cities’ electric customers produce no carbon emissions.

Share This Post
28Aug/14Off

Energy companies in Texas are setting money on fire

By Heather Smith

27 Aug 2014 5:47 AM

Original source: http://grist.org/climate-energy/energy-companies-in-texas-are-setting-money-on-fire/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Daily%2520Aug%252027&utm_campaign=daily

To some, like President Obama, natural gas is the “bridge fuel” — a readily available energy source that burns cleaner than coal and that’s cheap enough to put coal out of business while we’re waiting for actually renewable energy sources to come online.

But what if it’s so cheap it just gets wasted? The bridge just collapses, is what. As an epic series put together by the San Antonio Express News shows, being really, really cheap can also mean “too cheap to sell.”

The Express News spent a year going over stacks of documents and data obtained from the Texas Railroad Commission, which is responsible for overseeing the oil and gas industry in the state. What the investigation found was that fracking operations in the remote Eagle Ford shale were keeping the more valuable oil they produced while venting the natural gas into the atmosphere. Sometimes they just released it directly into the air, despite its being one of the nastier greenhouse gases out there.  Other times they burned it first, which converted it to carbon dioxide — less climate-change inducing, but not exactly Miss Popularity either. Between 2009 to 2012, they had let go of enough natural gas to keep 335,700 typical Texan households in warm houses and hot dinners for a year.

Share This Post
28Aug/14Off

Nation’s First Comprehensive Coal Ash Bill Awaits Enactment in North Carolina

08/27/2014 | Sonal Patel

North Carolina’s Legislature last week became the first in the nation to approve a sweeping coal ash bill, but the state’s governor isn’t fully endorsing it.

Both the House and the Senate on Aug. 20 approved the Coal Ash Management Act (S.B. 729), a measure that became an urgent legislative priority after Duke Energy’s February 2014 coal ash spill. That incident occurred when a pipe connected to a power plant coal ash pond ruptured and spewed 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.powermag.com/nations-first-comprehensive-coal-ash-bill-awaits-enactment-in-north-carolina/

Share This Post
28Aug/14Off

America’s coal heartland is in economic freefall — but only the most desperate are fleeing

“My dad worked in the mines until he couldn’t pass a physical no more, and I always thought I’d do the same."

By Chico Harlan August 27 Follow @chicoharlan

LOGAN, W.Va. — For 51 years he’d lived in the same hollow and for two decades he’d performed the same job, mining coal from the underground seams of southern West Virginia. Then, on June 30, Michael Estep was jobless. His mine shut down, and its operator said “market conditions” made coal production unviable.

What has come since, for Estep, stands as the new Central Appalachian economic experience: a job-hunt in a region whose sustaining industry is in an unprecedented freefall. “I don’t know what to do,” Estep said as unpaid bills piled up, his cable cut to black, and his wife withdrew the last $7 from a checking account they’d held for 20 years.

What’s happening now in America’s coal heartland is not just the typical bust. Those in the industry say it’s more dire, potentially permanent, caused at once by declining reserves, a cheaper influx of competing gas and looming environmental regulations. More than 10,000 miners have lost jobs over the past two-and-a-half years in southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky, and their plight illustrates how, even amid an economic recovery, certain segments of the workforce are being shut out.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/08/27/americas-coal-heartland-is-in-economic-freefall-but-only-the-most-desperate-are-fleeing/

Share This Post
28Aug/14Off

EPA’s Clean Power Plan: Texas’ Last Stand Or Last Hope?

8/27/2014 @ 12:54PM 532 views

EDF Energy Exchange , Contributor

By Marita Mirzatuny

August has been an eventful month here in Texas. And, no, I’m not referring to news about Governor Rick Perry, rather some of his appointees. The Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC), Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), Railroad Commissioners (RRC) Barry Smitherman and Christy Craddick, and State Representative Jason Isaac held a joint session to discuss the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new Clean Power Plan (CPP).

The CPP will limit – for the first time ever – carbon emissions for existing power plants. Texas, the number one polluter in the country, needs to cut 195 billion pounds of carbon in the next 18 years, according to a Texas Tribune analysis. However, EPA suggests Texas could easily meet its goal through a combination of actions: making coal plants more efficient, using more natural gas plants, increasing the use of renewable resources, and expanding energy efficiency.

Texas has a choice: either roll up some sleeves and double down on the state’s clean energy leadership, creating jobs and wealth, or continue to play petty politics to buy the fossil fuel industry more time.

To read the entie article go to: http://www.forbes.com/sites/edfenergyexchange/2014/08/27/epas-clean-power-plan-texas-last-stand-or-last-hope/?ss=energy

Share This Post
28Aug/14Off

How Reid holds veto power over Obama

By DARIUS DIXON | 8/27/14 5:06 AM EDT Updated: 8/28/14 6:33 AM EDT

Even in a hopelessly gridlocked Congress, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has found a way to work his will on energy policy — by micromanaging President Barack Obama’s appointments to two normally placid agencies.

The Nevada Democrat’s unusually tight grip on nominations for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has given him an effective veto power over the people Obama appoints to their five-member leadership boards. They in turn have advanced policy priorities important to his state, from blocking the proposed nuclear waste site in Yucca Mountain to opening the electrical grid to more wind, solar and geothermal plants across the West.

Reid’s role allows him to send the message that he’s Nevada’s best hope for fostering an economically promising green-energy industry and avoiding becoming the destination for the nation’s radioactive waste. “As a majority leader, if you don’t take on these parochial issues and use your considerable clout to defend your state’s interests, you really serve at great peril,” said Eric Washburn, a lobbyist who was an aide to former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and briefly worked for Reid.

But that also means that when a favored appointee runs into trouble, Reid gets embroiled in the mess too — and he’s made it clear he’s keeping score.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/08/harry-reid-energy-agenda-110365.html

Share This Post
28Aug/14Off

Judge Nixes Cove Point LNG Zoning Permit as Dominion Says Will Soon Receive Federal Permit

Posted: 08/26/2014 2:02 pm EDT Updated: 08/26/2014 2:59 pm EDT

Steve Horn Become a fan

Research Fellow, DeSmogBlog

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Co-Written with Caroline Selle

An August 6 court decision handed down by Calvert County Circuit Court Judge James Salmon could put Dominion Resources' timeline for its proposed Cove Point liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility in jeopardy.

Salmon ruled that an ordinance exempting the Lusby, Md.-based LNG project from local zoning laws -- Ordinance 46-13 -- violated both a section of a state Land Use law, as well as Maryland's constitution. The facility will be fueled by gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing ("fracking").

In the ruling, Judge Salmon described the zoning exemption as "a very unusual situation." In 2013, the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners and the Calvert County Planning Commission carved out both LNG export and import facilities from zoning laws.

"To my knowledge no other municipality or county in Maryland has attempted to do what the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners has attempted to do, i.e. completely exempt two uses from being covered by zoning regulations while requiring everyone else in the County to abide by those regulations," wrote Salmon.

Environmental groups fighting against the Cove Point LNG export terminal hailed Salmon's judgment as a major grassroots victory.

"At a minimum, this ruling will likely cause real delay in the ability of Dominion to begin major construction of this controversial $3.8 billion fossil fuel project," Mike Tidwell, executive director of Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN), said in a press release. "The ruling should certainly give pause to the Wall Street investors that Dominion is seeking to recruit to finance this expensive, risky project."

To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-horn/judge-nixes-cove-point-ln_b_5717143.html

Share This Post
28Aug/14Off

Alaska Referendum Upholds Tax System for Oil Companies

By KIRK JOHNSONAUG. 27, 2014

SEATTLE — A hard-fought ballot referendum that would have overturned Alaska’s system of taxing oil industry profits, put to voters last week but until now considered too close to call, has failed by a narrow margin, with absentee ballots counted this week nailing down the outcome.

The referendum, Ballot Measure 1, drew millions of dollars in contributions from oil companies and raised political passions across the state. Former Gov. Sarah Palin, a Republican who has rarely commented on Alaskan political issues since resigning in 2009, even waded in with a ferocious and, to some voters, surprising attack on the oil tax policies of her successor, Gov. Sean Parnell.

Mr. Parnell pushed his tax overhaul through the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature last year, replacing a system called Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share that had been Ms. Palin’s hallmark achievement — signed in 2007, before she became the Republican vice-presidential nominee. Mr. Parnell’s opponents, led by Democrats, said his plan was too generous to the oil companies in tax breaks and incentives, and they gathered enough signatures to put the question of repeal to voters.

Supporters of the tax system, in a campaign largely financed by the oil companies, fought back. In a barrage of television ads, supporters said that Mr. Parnell’s plan was showing results in encouraging new investment and oil production — adding jobs and tax revenue crucial to Alaska’s economy — and that going back to Ms. Palin’s system risked disaster.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/28/us/alaskans-uphold-tax-system-for-oil-companies.html?ref=energy-environment&_r=0

Share This Post
28Aug/14Off

6,000 DWP customers still don’t have up-to-date bills, executive says

By Javier Panzar   August 27, 2014, 2:47 p.m.

Nearly a year after the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power installed a faulty new computer billing system, customers are still plagued with billing issues and lengthy wait times when they call with problems, utility executives said Wednesday.

DWP General Manager Marcie Edwards told the City Council's Energy and Environment Committee there are still 6,000 customers who have not received a bill in about seven months and are in line to get a big cumulative tab down the road.

She said the department will call those customers in advance before the bills come in the mail to ease the sticker shock. Utility collections for the fiscal year that ended in June were $247 million short of what was expected, officials said.

The new billing system was launched in September and faced immediate problems as customers received no bills or were inaccurately charged exorbitant amounts.

To read the entire article go to: http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-81196790/

Share This Post
28Aug/14Off

PG&E substation in San Jose that suffered a sniper attack has a new security breach

By George Avalos, gavalos@bayareanewsgroup.com

Posted:   08/27/2014 04:34:11 PM PDT

SAN JOSE -- The same PG&E electricity substation hit by gunfire in 2013 has endured a fresh security breach, despite a wide-ranging upgrade of the facility's security systems, the utility reported Wednesday.

Unknown individuals stole construction materials from the Metcalf substation in San Jose early Wednesday morning, PG&E said. The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office and the utility are investigating the incident.

"The preliminary review suggests human error as the apparent cause of the security breach," PG&E said in a prepared release.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_26419083/pg-e-substation-san-jose-that-suffered-sniper?source=rss

Share This Post
28Aug/14Off

Cyberattacks on energy companies create new insurance needs

Posted on August 28, 2014 at 4:00 am by Collin Eaton in General, Legal issues, Safety/Security

A massive data breach into Target’s computer systems last year claimed millions of customer credit card numbers, a CEO’s job and $148 million so far to clean up the mess.

If hackers ever manage to hit an oil and gas company with a major cyberattack — compromising key systems at a deep-water platform or an oil refinery — losses could dwarf the retailer’s tab.

Yet most U.S. energy companies have to scrape together a collection of insurance policies to protect themselves against property, environmental and other damages from cyber-attacks that could run into the billions of dollars.

For the past decade the insurance industry has narrowed the kinds of cybersecurity damages it covers under liability policies, even as U.S. officials are pushing companies to obtain coverage so they can fund quick responses to security breaches, said Glenn Legge, a partner at Houston law firm Legge, Farrow, Kimmitt, McGrath & Brown, who specializes in commercial litigation areas including energy and insurance coverage.

To read the entire article go to: http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/08/28/cyberattacks-on-energy-companies-create-new-insurance-needs/

Share This Post