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April 19th, 2012 Archives
By Neela Banerjee 12:26 PM CDT, April 18, 2012
WASHINGTON -- The Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, Environment America and Clean Water Action have jointly endorsed President Obama in his reelection bid, signaling steps that the Democratic base is taking to rouse its members now that the general-election race has begun for all practical purposes.
The announcement Wednesday is the earliest any of the groups have issued a presidential endorsement, with the exception of the League of Conservation Voters' 2004 backing of Sen. John Kerry against President George W. Bush. It also marks the first time the groups have jointly endorsed a candidate, a move that could make for a louder collective voice as Democrats begin to tune in to the presidential race.
Over the last three years, members of the environmental community, including the four groups endorsing Obama, have had an often contentious relationship with the administration. They have praised what they consider important steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to boost cleaner air and water, such as rules to hike vehicle fuel efficiency and to curtail mercury emissions from power plants. But they have slammed the administration for inaction in other areas, such as its decision last year to halt the development of a long-awaited rule to reduce smog.Share This Post
April 17, 2012
Friday is the second anniversary of the explosion at BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 workers and spilled upwards of five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Thanks partly to nature’s resilience, some progress has been made. The gulf is open to fishing, beaches are mostly clean and President Obama has resurrected an ambitious oil exploration plan that he shelved immediately after the spill.
But the healing from this extraordinary act of corporate carelessness is far from complete, and there is important work to be done to minimize the chances that such a disaster will happen again. Here are central issues that remain unresolved:
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/18/opinion/the-big-spill-two-years-later.html?_r=1Share This Post
By TENNILLE TRACY Updated April 18, 2012, 10:06 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON—Federal regulators put in place the first significant curbs on the fast-spreading drilling technique called fracking since widespread concerns about its environmental impact surfaced. But in a sign of the political sensitivities surrounding the issue, they gave companies more than two years to comply.
The Environmental Protection Agency rules, released Wednesday, are designed to limit the release of smog-forming chemicals and other toxic substances that may escape into the air during drilling for oil and natural gas.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which drillers use a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals to break apart energy-rich rocks, is behind the recent boom in U.S. oil and gas production. How to regulate it is emerging as one of the most important policy questions in Washington, with environmentalists urging strict controls and energy firms warning excessive red tape could stop the boom just as it is beginning to transform the U.S. energy business.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303513404577351842495583760.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
By JOHN M. BRODER April 18, 2012
WASHINGTON — Oil and gas companies will have to capture toxic and climate-altering gases from wells, storage sites and pipelines under new air quality standards issued on Wednesday by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The rule is the first federal effort to address serious air pollution associated with the natural gas drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which releases toxic and cancer-causing chemicals like benzene and hexane, as well as methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
The standards were proposed last summer in response to complaints from citizens and environmental groups that gases escaping from the 13,000 wells drilled each year by fracking were causing health problems and widespread air pollution.
Industry groups said meeting the proposed standards would cost hundreds of millions of dollars and slow the boom in domestic natural gas production. The original proposal was significantly revised, giving industry more than two years to comply and lowering the cost.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/19/science/earth/epa-caps-emissions-at-gas-and-oil-wells.html?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
April 18, 2012 | 3:29 pm
A California lawmaker working to pass the Golden State's first hydraulic fracturing rules has watered down his landmark legislation, hoping to overcome industry opposition to a measure that would force energy companies to disclose the mysterious mix of chemicals they inject into the ground to tap oil deposits.
The legislation stalled last year after objections by industry that full disclosure of "fracking" chemicals would reveal proprietary "recipes." After months of meetings with oil companies and environmentalists, Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) is now touting a compromise measure that goes to lengths to protect those trade secrets while increasing public disclosure.
His office said the changes mirror Colorado regulations that were widely praised by environmentalists when they were adopted last year. Regulators have yet to develop rules or reporting requirements for fracking in California, the fourth largest oil-producing state in the nation.
To read the entire article go to: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/california-politics/2012/04/california-fracking-bill-would-protect-industry-trade-secrets.htmlShare This Post
By DANIEL GILBERT Updated April 18, 2012, 11:51 p.m. ET
FREEPORT, Texas—Dow Chemical Co. will build a multibillion-dollar plant to convert natural gas into the building blocks of plastic in this coastal city, becoming the latest chemical maker to capitalize on the abundant gas supplies that are helping spur a renaissance in U.S. manufacturing.
Over the last decade, chemical companies in search of cheap raw materials have made some of their biggest investments outside the U.S., which is the world's largest consumer of plastics.
But Dow and its peers are seeing new opportunity in huge domestic deposits of gas. Drilling innovations can now unlock the fuel from shale formations, pushing U.S. natural-gas prices to among the lowest in the world. Even as natural-gas producers cut back drilling in response to the low prices, chemical firms are increasing their manufacturing investments.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304331204577352161288275978.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
By WILLIAM YARDLEY April 18, 2012
BOARDMAN, Ore. — A new link in the world’s future energy supply could soon be built here on the Columbia River, and it would have nothing to do with the vast acres of wind turbines or the mammoth hydroelectric dams that give this region’s power sources one of the cleanest carbon footprints in the nation.
Instead, Boardman is pursuing one of the oldest and dirtiest of fossil fuels: coal. The question is not whether to use it to produce new energy but whether to make what some say would be tainted new profits.
Even as coal-fired power plants are being phased out in Oregon and Washington, Boardman, an agribusiness outpost across the river from vineyards owned by the Columbia Crest winery and where the Department of Energy recently awarded $25 million to an innovative biofuel producer, is among at least half a dozen ports in the region weighing whether to ship millions of tons of coal to Asia from the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana.
If all of the projects were built, as much as 150 million tons of coal per year could be exported from the Northwest, nearly 50 percent more than the nation’s entire coal export output last year.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/19/us/boardman-ore-considers-a-future-in-coal.htmlShare This Post
By DAMIAN PALETTA Updated April 18, 2012, 10:07 p.m. ET
LARAMIE, Wyo.—When the University of Wyoming needed an extra $10 million for renovations to its basketball arena last month, state legislators turned to an unlikely source: a federal fund for cleaning up abandoned coal mines.
The fund was set up to pay for things like sealing up old mine shafts and dealing with collapsed tunnels and abandoned surface mines. But, as allowed under law, the university plans to use the money to fix up its Arena-Auditorium, where its Cowboys play, providing an exterior face lift and rotating the court 90 degrees.
The U.S. Interior Department is likely to fork over the money for the arena despite years of bipartisan efforts in Washington to close the spigot of federal dollars to states that no longer need so much money for abandoned mines.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304023504577319864015209678.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
Reaching for 33 percent
Ken Silverstein | Apr 18, 2012
California’s renewable energy target of 33 percent by 2020 is doable. But it is now time to pause to ensure that the transmission system can handle the potential resources, all according to grid managers and state regulators.Share This Post
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Despite Solyndra's spectacular collapse, a report issued Tuesday suggests that California's clean-tech industry continues to thrive, soaking up more venture capital in 2011 than it did before the recession.
The annual California Green Innovation Index from public policy group Next 10 tracks the green economy's health, pulling together data on employment, patents and the rising use of renewable power. It tries to show real-world benefits of the state's global warming policies, which have helped make California a magnet for green businesses.
"California's forward-looking policies, our world-class entrepreneurs and our savvy population of early adopters I think all contribute to this growth," said F. Noel Perry, founder of Next 10.
California clean-tech companies attracted a record $3.5 billion in venture capital last year, according to the report. That's slightly more than the previous high of $3.1 billion, set in 2008 as the recession was starting to take hold. It also represents 57 percent of all the clean-tech venture capital funding in the United States last year and 40 percent of the worldwide total.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/04/19/BUS51O57OE.DTLShare This Post
firstname.lastname@example.org Published Thursday, Apr. 19, 2012
California's clean-technology industry is growing and supporting economic recovery in the state, according to a report released today by Next 10, a San Francisco nonprofit that promotes growth of California's clean economy.
Published for the fourth time since 2008 by Next 10 and compiled by Collaborative Economics Inc. in San Mateo, the 2012 California Green Innovation Index measures various economic and environmental factors, including clean-tech venture capital investment levels, clean-tech patent activity, energy productivity and renewable energy-generation levels.
The new report says clean-tech investment in California rose 24 percent from 2010 to 2011 to reach $3.5 billion. Patent registrations increased more than 40 percent in the last half of the 2000-10 decade, the report says.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/04/19/4425173/Share This Post
By LESLIE KAUFMAN April 19, 2012, 7:53 am
Federal Fish and Wildlife Service officials say that a drought-induced bird die-off in the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge along the California-Oregon border has ended. But they warn that unless proposals to reconfigure water distribution along the Klamath River are enacted, the problem could recur.
The Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, which manages water out West, said it was a record-breaking dry winter in the basin, with snow pack that was far below normal. As a result, the bureau instituted water-rationing. But laws, contracts and legal settlements assign endangered species, farms and tribal lands a higher priority than the refuge in terms of water allotments.
Until March, when the weather suddenly got wetter, only half of the 30,000 acres of marshes in the refuge were wet. That meant the roughly 1.5 million birds that migrate through the refuge were crowded together and more susceptible to avian cholera. The Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that nearly 10,000 birds died, including many snow geese and American white pelicans.
To read the entire article go to: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/19/a-rough-patch-for-western-waterfowl/?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
Published Thursday, Apr. 19, 2012
Winston H. Hickox, former secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency, is a principal with the consulting firm California Strategies. He is responding to the April 13 Viewpoints article, "Plan to tap groundwater for profit shows need for better state policy." That article stated: "The bottom line is that the project relies on unsustainable mining of groundwater, designed to extract groundwater at a rate exceeding natural recharge."
As the former secretary of California's Environmental Protection Agency and a member of the Cadiz Inc. board of directors, I felt compelled to respond to John Bredehoeft and Newsha Ajami's mischaracterization of the Cadiz Valley Water Project and California groundwater policy.
California faces many water challenges. Northern California supplies are environmentally challenged. Our erratic climate has long droughts. Water rates are escalating. Water agencies are exploring projects to improve supply reliability, including groundwater projects in partnership with private companies.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/04/19/4425040/another-view-cadiz-project-will.htmlShare This Post
Posted: 04/13/2012 04:35:10 AM MDT
Updated: 04/13/2012 07:41:08 AM MDT
By Ryan Maye Handy
COLORADO SPRINGS - —Colorado Springs utilities' massive water pipeline project hit a snag Thursday when a Pueblo County judge ordered a revision of a key state certification.
The crucial 401 certification, which has been battled over for two years, is headed back to the Colorado Public Health and Environment's Water Quality Control Division. The division granted the certification for Utilities' Southern Delivery System, a 62-mile-long pipeline, in April 2010.
Pueblo County Judge Victor Reyes upheld concerns about the project and reversed a January 2011 decision by the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission to confirm the certification, according to Janet Rummel, a spokeswoman for the project.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_20388235Share This Post
By Richard Simon 4:12 PM CDT, April 18, 2012
WASHINGTON – The Republican-controlled House on Wednesday passed a transportation bill that would advance the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, defying a White House veto threat and stoking an election-year fight over what Congress can do about gas prices.
The 293-127 vote to extend highway and transit funding through September sets up contentious negotiations with the Democratic-led Senate. The Senate rejected an effort to include the Canada-to-Texas pipeline project in its two-year $109-billion transportation bill.
The Obama administration also warned that the president’s advisors would recommend he veto the House bill, if it reaches his desk, because it "seeks to circumvent a long-standing and proven process for determining whether cross-border pipelines are in the national interest" and for assessing Keystone XL’s environmental impact.
Republicans sought to use the pipeline project to highlight the parties’ differences on energy policy as gas prices become a campaign issue.
"Our constituents are feeling real pain at the pump," said Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.). "Maybe since the president doesn’t fill up his own gas tank, he does not fully appreciate this reality."
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) called Republican assertions that the pipeline would bring down fuel prices “hooey."
"What’s going on here is political," he said.
Passage of a transportation bill has been complicated by election-year politics and a gas tax that isn’t bringing in as much money because more people are driving fuel-efficient cars. House Republican leaders also have struggled to unify members of their own party behind a multiyear transportation bill.Share This Post