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June 15th, 2012 Archives
Within the next few decades, ocean acidification – an effect of global warming – could leave sea creatures along the West Coast unable to maintain their protective shells, according to a new study.
By Pete Spotts, Staff writer / June 14, 2012
Over the next few decades, coastal waters off of California, Oregon, and Washington are in danger of becoming acidic enough to harm the rich fisheries and diverse marine ecosystems there, according to a new study. Blame it on global warming's evil twin.
The process changing the seas' chemistry has been dubbed "ocean acidification." It refers to the impact that rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are having on seawater. CO2 levels are increasing as humans burn fossil fuel and change land-use patterns. The oceans absorb up to 26 percent of those emissions – a number that is expected to go up as the Arctic Ocean loses more of its summer sea-ice cover.
By 2050, the team conducting the study estimates, more than half the near-shore waters governed by the California Current system are likely to become so acidic throughout the year that many shell-building organisms will be unable to maintain their armor . That point could come within the next 20 to 30 years for some sea-floor habitats on the continental shelf, the researchers estimate.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2012/0614/Global-warming-s-evil-twin-threatens-West-Coast-fishing-groundsShare This Post
By LESLIE KAUFMAN June 14, 2012, 10:00 pm
The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed new national air quality standards that would significantly reduce levels of fine-particle soot.
The rule, to be announced on Friday, would reduce the range of fine particulates allowed in the atmosphere by roughly 17 percent, according to an agency official who spoke on condition of anonymity, and Paul G. Billings, a vice president of the American Lung Association, who said he had been briefed on the standard by Obama administration officials.
A Thursday deadline had been imposed by a federal judge in a legal battle waged by 11 states and health and conservation groups.
Still, the industry and many Congressional Republicans are likely to oppose that level — 12 to 13 micrograms per cubic foot of air, down from 15, calculated on an annual basis — as burdensome and potentially damaging to the economy.
The agency is required to issue a final rule by mid-December after holding hearings to seek public comment. Under the Clean Air Act, the E.P.A. is required to consider revising its soot standards every five years, and it last did so in 2006. Yet as it approached the five-year deadline last October, it said it wanted to delay issuing the rule until the summer of 2013 because it needed more time to sift through the latest scientific research.
To read the entire article go to: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/14/e-p-a-proposes-crucial-rule-limiting-soot/?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
By DAN STRUMPF June 14, 2012, 7:08 p.m. ET
Natural-gas futures surged more than 14% after the government reported a smaller-than-expected increase in gas stockpiles last week, suggesting demand is stronger than forecast.
The gain, the biggest in percentage terms in more than two years, followed a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration that gas in storage increased just 67 billion cubic feet last week.
The modest increase suggests that demand for natural gas among power utilities—which spent much of the spring switching their fuel from coal to cheaper natural gas—remains brisk, said Kent Bayazitoglu, an analyst at Gelber Associates in Houston.
"This low number shows that we still have a lot of fuel-switching, and gas demand is much higher than it was last year," Mr. Bayazitoglu said.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303734204577467002998861504.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
By Dana Hull; firstname.lastname@example.org 06/13/2012 - 6:40 PM EDT
The United States is awash in natural gas, thanks to a recent boom in a controversial drilling technique known as "fracking." But the flood of low-cost natural gas has raised all sorts of questions about America's energy future.
Some experts fear that fracking will result in widespread groundwater contamination, while others worry that a temporary supply of cheap natural gas will delay development of solar, wind and other renewable energy technologies.
On Wednesday, hundreds of energy leaders gathered at Stanford University for a half-day forum on U.S. energy policy sponsored by the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution. Among those attending were FacebookCOO Sheryl Sandbergand former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a way to extract natural gas by drilling wells and injecting large quantities of water and chemicals, which create pressure that moves the natural gas. Environmentalists have raised concern that the recent drilling boom has contaminated drinking water, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration is trying to limit the places in that state where fracking is allowed.
To read the entire article go to: http://business-news.thestreet.com/mercury-news/story/forum-experts-say-natural-gas-plays-mixed-role-americas-energy-future-0/1Share This Post
By GORDON HAMILTON, VANCOUVER SUN June 14, 2012
One of the energy companies planning a liquefied natural gas terminal at Kitimat announced Thursday “an outstanding” new shale gas discovery, the best in North America, in British Columbia’s remote and largely unexplored Liard Basin.
The find by Apache Corp., one of three partners in the $4.5-billion Kitimat LNG terminal and pipeline proposal, is estimated to contain enough gas in itself to justify doubling the size of the Kitimat terminal. The company is calling it the best and highest quality shale gas reservoir in North America and says its wells are the most prolific in the world, based on the volume of gas three test wells are producing.
Based on the production from those wells, Apache announced it has 48 trillion cubic feet of marketable gas within its Liard Basin properties. By way of comparison, all companies active in the Horn River Basin, one of three other major shale gas basins in B.C., have marketable gas of 78 trillion cubic feet, giving one company alone a natural gas find that is two-thirds the size of the entire Horn Basin.
One well alone produced 21 million cubic feet of gas a day over a 30-day test period.
“This is enormous,” said Gordon Currie, senior oil and gas analyst at Salman Partners. “Those are big, big numbers.”
To read the entire article go to: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/resources/Apache+calls+discovery+northeastern+best+shale+reservoir+North+America/6784117/story.htmlShare This Post
By MIREYA NAVARRO June 14, 2012, 10:18 am
A New York State Supreme Court justice has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to end New York’s participation in the multIstate carbon trading system known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI.
Members of Americans for Prosperity, a group founded and largely financed by oil industry interests, filed the suit last year in state Supreme Court in Albany against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and two state agencies, arguing that the program imposed what amounted to an illegal tax on electric ratepayers.
The group said that by making power companies pay for their carbon dioxide emissions, the program imposed costs that the companies then passed on to consumers. Such “coercive taxes” are illegally levied without approval from the state legislature, the group argued.
To read the entire article go to: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/14/challenge-to-carbon-trading-fails/?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
Posted: 06/13/2012 2:50 pm
As the clock ticks down toward Fall relicensing hearings for the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Northern Westchester, New Yorkers face a stark choice: are we going to be stuck for another 20 years with an aging nuclear plant sitting precariously on two active earthquake faults, which fails to meet minimum federal fire safety regulations by a country mile and lacks any credible emergency evacuation plan, or will we move to a safe, sustainable, job-creating energy future -- like the vision outlined by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo last month? The right answer is clear: closing Indian Point would be the best thing we can do for New York.
Indian Point was never meant to operate beyond its original 40-year license. There's no place to send its hugely volatile spent fuel, which sits tightly-packed in buildings that the National Academy of Science has indicated could be vulnerable to terrorist attack and systems failure. On June 8, a federal Circuit Appeals Court in Washington, D.C. actually declared the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's national spent fuel management plan invalid, observing that the United States has no plan for disposing of all our spent fuel "other than hoping" that a long-term repository site will magically appear.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ed-koch/post_3503_b_1593880.html?utm_hp_ref=new-yorkShare This Post
By MATTHEW L. WALD June 14, 2012, 8:03 am
President Obama’s nominee to lead the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said at a Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday that the nuclear industry’s share of American electricity production, steady at 20 percent for the last decade, could decline in coming years. Nonetheless, a diverse electricity supply requires continued use of nuclear power, she said.
The nominee, Allison M. Macfarlane, has made few if any public statements about her position on nuclear power; this one, predicting a possible decline in the industry, was unusual for a commission nominee. The commission is supposed to regulate nuclear power, not promote it – a job that Congress gave to the Energy Department – but its members seldom sound so grim about the commercial prospects.
Democrats and Republicans sniped intermittently at Dr. Macfarlane, the Democratic choice for chairman, and at Kristine Svinicki, a former Republican staff member who has been nominated for a second term as commissioner. But approval of both is considered highly likely — possibly next week.
To read the entire article go to: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/14/two-nuclear-nominees-get-a-hearing/?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
By Steven Mufson, Published: June 13
The Energy Department has reached a deal to rescue a uranium-enrichment development whose owner did not have the money to complete the project.
The department said Wednesday that it will immediately provide $88 million and in return take ownership of giant centrifuges used in the uranium-enrichment process. Ultimately, taxpayers would contribute as much as 80 percent of a $350 million research and development program to determine whether the technology can work and be commercially viable.
Critics of the deal called it a bailout of U.S. Enrichment Corp., a former government company privatized in the 1990s, and an unproven technology. Supporters of the agreement said it will protect national security and jobs.Share This Post
Sammy Fretwell | The State (Columbia, S.C.)
last updated: June 12, 2012 03:00:12 PM
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham revealed his plan Monday to open South Carolina’s coast to offshore oil and natural gas drilling — and have the state share in any profits from strikes of fossil fuels.
Graham, R-S.C., said at a news conference in Columbia’s Five Points he has introduced a bill giving South Carolina the option to allow for oil and gas exploration from 10 to 50 miles offshore. No drilling would be allowed within 10 miles of the coast.
Gov. Nikki Haley and U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., endorsed his proposal, but the plan drew plenty of criticism Monday from environmentalists, a small business group and a coastal geologist.
Environmentalists called the plan an election year stunt in a state with little offshore oil and hard-to-extract natural gas deposits. Critics said Graham’s plan would unnecessarily threaten the environment, and the state’s multibillion-dollar coastal tourism industry, in the search for small quantities of the fossil fuels. A small band of protesters waved signs outside the news conference before heavy rains sent them indoors.
Conservationists say oil spills could hurt resorts, such as Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head Island. They also say exploration could kill thousands of whales and dolphins.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/06/12/152028/sen-lindsey-grahams-plan-would.htmlShare This Post
June 13, 2012 2:11 pm • By ERIC WOLFF email@example.com
The months of living dangerously appear to be wrapping up for the Utility Consumers' Action Network, a San Diego ratepayer advocacy group, now that the group has filed a settlement of its legal problems with a judge.
In recent months, the nonprofit tried to dissolve, and it was sued by its own employees. Last month, UCAN hired a new executive director, and on May 30, it filed a proposed settlement. All parties signed the deal, but they await a judge's approval.
Under the settlement, UCAN founder Michael Shames will no longer be employed by the organization, four of the five board members will be replaced, the agency will pay off $738,000 in debts, it will spin off the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, and the employees will drop their lawsuit.Share This Post
Equipment repair, electricity purchases are just some of the expenses
By Elizabeth Douglass/ InsideClimate News
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Costs are mounting for the months-long outage at the San Onofre nuclear plant and any possible solutions, as investigators examine steam generator damage — and it’s unclear who will end up paying the bill.
With the reactors set to be offline through August, the additional expenses will likely exceed $200 million — and would be substantially higher if recently replaced steam generators need extensive work and San Onofre provides reduced or zero power generation for an even longer period.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jun/14/costs-climbing-at-closed-plant/Share This Post
Published: Thursday, June 14, 2012, 10:00 PM Updated: Thursday, June 14, 2012, 11:12 PM
By John Funk, The Plain Dealer
KENT, Ohio -- Anybody who doubts Kent State University is a sports powerhouse should visit the Field House at the school's main campus.
A $1.5 million solar array -- the largest at any public university in Ohio -- now covers the building's nearly one-acre roof. The system's 1,716 solar panels, now being installed by Thompson Electric of Munroe Falls, will generate nearly a half-million watts when completed in July.
Solar developer Third Sun of Athens, Ohio, estimates the array will annually generate about 500,000 kilowatt hours. That's enough electricity for 50 homes, or about a third of the power consumed in the Field House and nearby Dix Stadium, said Robert Misbrener, project manager for the Office of the University Architect.
When electrical demand at the Field House and stadium is less, the power flowing off the roof will go into FirstEnergy Corp.'s wires - with a monthly credit back to the school, he said.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2012/06/kent_state_university_going_so.htmlShare This Post
Posted on 14 June 2012
By Noah Garrison, NRDC, and Cara Horowitz, Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA School of Law
Noah Garrison is project attorney for NRDC’s water program. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. Cara Horowitz is the executive director of the Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA School of Law, which was founded in 2008 and established at UCLA School of Law as the nation’s first law school center focused exclusively on climate change.
Installing green roofs and cool roofs in southern California could save consumers more than $211 million in energy bills and reduce emissions equivalent to removing 91,000 cars from the road each year, according to a new study from the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA School of Law. Installing green roofs will additionally reduce stormwater runoff that pollutes our beaches.
Southern California is facing a complex, and mostly worsening, set of sustainability challenges but solutions exist. Green roofs and cool roofs are a solution that can be implemented today. Taking simple steps like installing drought resistant plants on a roof surface or painting roofs to reflect the sun’s energy can dramatically reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and, for green roofs, reduce the amount of pollution that flows to our rivers and beaches.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/site/new-study-smart-roofs-could-transform-california-energy-and-water-useShare This Post
I’ve been referring somewhat vaguely to “a future that makes sense” in posts recently. It’s something I hope to flesh out over the next year or so. One thing I want to do is lay out some broad principles that would distinguish a FTMS from a continuation of the status quo (which would definitely not make sense).
One of those broad principles involves a shift from centralized hubs of production or decisionmaking to distributed, loosely networked local nodes. I’ll probably write a long, wanky thought piece on this at some point — there’s a lot to say — but for now I just want to point to a great example of the challenges of distribution and how they’re being overcome.
Let’s focus on distribution in energy, though I think the benefits are generalizable. Distributed energy — whether it’s rooftop panels, solar farms in the 2-20MW range, small wind farms, small hydro, geothermal, cogeneration and other waste-heat capture, district heating and cooling, or small biomass generators — has certain advantages over equivalent power from large coal or nuclear plants. It saves on capital costs; it can be built (and financed) in increments, over time, rather than in one big chunk; power sources can be located on marginal or already developed land, closer to loads, saving on transmission costs and inefficiencies; it disperses the economic benefits and political influence of power generation more broadly and equitably.
But with a rise in distributed energy comes a sharp rise in transaction costs. With a coal plant, you’ve got one company, one construction project, one piece of land, and one set of permits. With equivalent distributed energy, you have thousands upon thousands of decisions and negotiations and contracts and permits and other human interactions. Every one of them is a potential source of friction.
For distributed energy to gain competitive advantage, it has to bring down these transaction costs. It can’t match central generation in sheer muscle (or raw dollar-per-mWh, without social costs factored in). It can, however, double down on its intrinsic advantages: nimbleness, flexibility, and speed. That means reducing friction.Share This Post