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Commentary: New poll shows generation gap applies to energy stances

Posted on October 29, 2014 at 5:09 pm by Maribel Molina in Environment, General, Politics/Policy

A University of Texas at Austin poll has revealed that there is a growing generation gap between older and younger Americans on issues relating to energy and the environment.

Renewable energy, hydraulic fracturing and fossil fuel use divided the 2,105 respondents depending on their age, comparing those 35 and under with those 65 and older.

Houston Chronicle business columnist Chris Tomlinson writes that the difference in energy stance could be attributed to the health and pollution problems the United States’ youngest generations have experienced.

To read the entire article go to:

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U.S. Politicians Left Holding TransCanada’s Bag on Keystone

Posted: 10/29/2014 3:28 pm EDT Updated: 10/29/2014 3:59 pm EDT

Mike Casey

President, Tigercomm

Note to Keystone-promising Senate candidates: TransCanada has decided to walk out on you.

Candidates in practically every top U.S. Senate race are suggesting they'll push the Keystone XL pipeline through to approval if elected. Often, these promises are anchored in exaggerated claims about job creation.

Just before Election Day, these candidates probably don't want to read this recent Bloomberg News story, in which TransCanada signals it's walking away from the project that has become these politicians' favorite talking point.

Instead of an export pipeline through American farm fields and waterways to Gulf Coast refineries, TransCanada now intends to build a 3,000-mile pipeline to Canada's east coast. To quote the story: "Keystone has become a tractor mired in an interminably muddy field."

This announcement is the latest in a string of news telling us that Keystone is never going to be built:

To read the entire article go to:

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Is the US oil boom in trouble?

    Oil prices have dropped, energy companies are taking on large amounts of debt, and some call into question rosy projections about a long-term US shale boom. Should we be concerned about the future of American oil and gas?

    By Jared Gilmour, Staff writer OCTOBER 30, 2014

    1. L

    WASHINGTON — A dramatic rise in US oil and natural gas production has altered the global energy landscape, buoyed an economic recovery, and pushed down oil prices worldwide.

    The question is: How long can the so-called shale boom last?

    No one can be 100 percent sure, but most projections see the US remaining an energy powerhouse for decades to come. New techniques and technologies will continue to unlock oil and gas from increasingly stubborn rocks, according to various government, industry, and independent analyses.

    But some critics say these forecasts are overly optimistic and fail to take into account just how much energy, money, and ingenuity it takes to maintain unconventional oil and gas production, let alone expand it. And a recent drop in the price of oil calls into question not just how much oil and gas is left, but how much of it can still be profitably extracted.

    To read the entire article go to:

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    America’s Navy The Unsung Heroes Of Nuclear Energy

    ENERGY 10/28/2014 @ 5:15PM 29,152 views

    James Conca Contributor

    I write about nuclear, energy and the environment

    Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

    The United States has over 200 nuclear reactors producing power. You might be aware of the hundred or so commercial nuclear power reactors that produce just under 20% of our electricity. But there are another hundred nuclear reactors that power 86 submarines and aircraft carriers, producing electricity, heat, fresh water and propulsion.

    America’s Nuclear Navy is one of the oldest and largest nuclear organizations in the world and has the best safety record of any industry.

    And no one ever discusses it.

    But Naval Commander Djamal Pullom did just that, during the National Nuclear Science Week event at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, Washington. The Navy is rather quiet about its phenomenal success, and CDR Pullom’s presentation unfolded like a cozy mystery.

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    Activists Push for Public Review of Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant

    Molly Samuel, KQED Science | October 29, 2014 |

    Original source:

    An environmental group is pushing for a public review of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant’s license, amid concerns about the seismic safety of the Central Coast plant.

    The environmental group Friends of the Earth has file a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals. It’s the latest move in the group’s longstanding campaign to shut down California’s only remaining nuclear plant, which supplies about nine percent of the state’s electricity.

    Recent discoveries of geologic faults near the San Luis Obispo County facility should trigger a public re-assessment of the plant’s safety, said Friends of the Earth spokesman Damon Moglan. Instead, he said, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and PG&E changed how earthquake risk is assessed in the plant’s license, without public input.

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    More Problems for CSP: Ivanpah Solar Plant Falling Short of Expected Electricity Production

    Growing pains or chronic problems for the landmark concentrating solar power plant?

    Pete Danko, Breaking Energy
    October 30, 2014

    Whether scorched birds are a major issue at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in California is a matter of dispute. But the “power tower” solar plant and its owners -- NRG Energy, Google and BrightSource Energy -- might have an even more fundamental problem on their hands: generating adequate electricity.

    The Mojave Desert plant, built with the aid of a $1.6 billion federal loan guarantee, kicked off commercial operation at the tail end of December 2013, and for the eight-month period from January through August, its three units generated 254,263 megawatt-hours of electricity, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data. That’s roughly one-quarter of the annual 1 million-plus megawatt-hours that had been anticipated.

    To read the entire article go to:

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    How the Right Kind of Electric Utility Can Increase Solar Energy and Jobs

    Joseph McCabe, PE
    October 28, 2014  |

    You expect to hear solar electricity success stories from places like Austin and Sacramento, but San Antonio? San Antonio's municipal electric utility was seriously considering expanding a nuclear power plant.

    To read the entire article go to:

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    GE Government Affairs Director: Midwest Wind Can Compete Without a Federal Tax Credit

    However, the company still wants to see the PTC extended through next year to buy time for a “multi-year phaseout.”

    Julia Pyper
    October 29, 2014

    The wind industry is reaching the point where it no longer needs the production tax credit (PTC) to survive, according to David Malkin, director of government affairs and policy for GE Energy Management.

    “In some parts of the country on a levelized-cost-of-energy basis, wind is at par with combined-cycle gas turbines without the PTC,” Malkin told Greentech Media today at Forum 20/20.

    Wind has already caught up to natural gas in areas of the Midwest, where the resources are most plentiful, he said. Wind production costs are also declining overall due to technological advances made by GE and other turbine manufacturers. According to the most recent DOE analysis, average wind power contracts currently sit at 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, an "all-time low.”

    Wind will become even more competitive as natural gas prices rise. “I think as gas prices start to stabilize around the $4 to $5 per MMBtu range (up from $2 to $3 per MMBtu), that helps the economics of wind,” said Malkin.

    To read the entire article go to:

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    Jerry Brown pushes water bond, makes no promises about Salton Sea


    October 29, 2014, 2:24 p.m.

    Backed by politicians from both parties, California Gov. Jerry Brown brought his whirlwind campaign to San Diego on Wednesday to urge passage of Proposition 1, the $7.5-billion water bond.

    Brown made no mention of the fact he is seeking reelection on the same ballot.

    At a news conference outside the San Diego County Water Authority, the Democratic governor noted that many of the things in the water bond are “ideas that have been around for decades” but have been delayed by various kinds of political strife.

    To read the entire article go to:

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    Filed under: Water Comments Off

    Why California’s Largest Estuary No Longer Works for Wildlife

    Lauren Sommer, KQED Science | October 30, 2014 |

    Original source:

    California’s historic drought has put the state’s water problems in the forefront this year and those problems aren’t likely to be solved when the clouds open up again. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the water system’s central hub — the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

    California’s Delta is the flashpoint for the state’s water politics. For decades, its ecosystem has been in ecological free fall, prompting fierce battles over how much water should be left in the environment, and how much pumped to farms and cities hundreds of miles away.

    Now, a new report from the San Francisco Estuary Institute documents why the Delta’s ecosystem is failing for many of its endangered species.

    The findings could inform efforts to restore the estuary, which some argue would make the water supply more reliable for the entire state.

    “It’s guidance for what would make a healthy ecosystem –- the missing elements,” says Robin Grossinger, who worked on the report at the San Francisco Estuary Institute.

    Historical Reconstruction

    Using historical maps and records, Grossinger and colleagues pieced together a landscape that’s been almost completely transformed over 150 years.

    ‘It’s really shocking when you look at it at this level.’

    — Robin Grossinger, San Francisco Estuary Institute

    The Delta was once a network of marshes and water, supporting birds, wildlife and one of the largest Chinook salmon runs on the West Coast. After the Gold Rush, settlers diked channels and waterways, creating islands of dry land protected by levees. About 97 percent of the marshland was lost.

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    Filed under: Water Continue reading

    What you need to know about the next big climate report

    By John Light

    29 Oct 2014 10:40 AM

    Original source:

    The rumblings are starting: There’s a big climate report on the way. But wait — you’ve heard this one before, right? The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — its report already came out recently, didn’t it? More than once, come to think of it?

    Well, yes, but there is still one more IPCC report coming out this Sunday, Nov. 2. It’s related to the others, but is also sort of different. For starters, a leaked draft uses stronger words to describe the climate threat we face if we don’t take strong action, words like “severe, pervasive and irreversible,” according to the AP.

    The IPCC’s latest big survey of climate research has been unveiled in installments over the past 13 months, and what comes out on Sunday is the final summary, called a “synthesis report.” Its authors are meeting in Copenhagen this week to wrangle over the final wording and ultimately put the finishing touches on it.

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    European Union Sets Ambitious 2030 Climate and Energy Goals

    But some claim the 27 percent renewable energy target isn’t ambitious enough.

    Julia Pyper
    October 28, 2014

    In an effort to make the European Union’s economy and energy system more competitive, secure and sustainable, the 28-nation bloc is moving full steam ahead on an aggressive set of climate and energy goals.

    EU leaders agreed last week to the binding greenhouse gas reduction target of at least 40 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels -- the most ambitious proposal in the world. The policy framework also sets an indicative target to achieve 27 percent in energy savings and a binding target to source at least 27 percent of EU energy consumption from renewable sources over the same period. Currently, the share of renewables EU-wide stands at about 14 percent.

    The renewable energy and efficiency goals will not only help to reduce emissions, but are also considered vital for Europe’s energy security. Reducing Europe’s dependency on imported fossil fuels from unstable and unreliable suppliers has become a high priority in light of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and turmoil in the Middle East.

    To read the entire article go to:

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    Climate Change Concerns Push Chile to Forefront of Carbon Tax Movement

    OCT. 29, 2014


    SAN FRANCISCO — These are rough times for carbon taxes, aimed at mitigating climate change. Australia recently repealed its carbon tax. South Korea delayed a carbon-based tax on vehicle emissions. South Africa put off a planned carbon tax until 2016.

    And yet, for environmentalists, a sliver of hope exists in the shape of Chile, one of Latin America’s fastest-growing economies, which last month approved the first carbon tax in South America. The measure, due to take effect in 2018, was part of a broad overhaul of the tax system.

    “Chile is one of the countries that is getting much more serious about climate change, and developing something that’s much more robust in terms of policies,” said Miguel Pinedo-Vasquez, a forest ecologist at Columbia University.

    Chile’s tax, which targets large factories and the electricity sector, will cover about 55 percent of the nation’s carbon emissions, according to Juan-Pablo Montero, a professor of economics at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, who informally advised the government in favor of the tax. At $5 per metric ton of carbon dioxide emitted, Chile’s tax is lower than the $8-per-metric-ton carbon price in the European Union’s carbon-trading system, which has often been criticized as too lax. But it is higher than a carbon tax introduced in Mexico in January.

    To read the entire article go to:

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    Biogas, a Low-Tech Fuel With a Big Payoff

    By BETH GARDINEROCT. 29, 2014

    LONDON — In villages across China, tens of millions of families use farm and household waste to make clean cooking fuel in backyard fermenters. Germany generates as much electricity as two nuclear power plants with the gas produced by decaying plant matter and animal slurry. Near San Francisco, a landfill extracts enough energy from its stewing garbage to power 300 trucks on their daily runs.

    Around the world, both household-run operations and industrial-scale facilities are using centuries-old technology to extract a fuel known as biogas from crop waste, manure, kitchen scraps and even sewage.

    To read the entire article go to:

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    You’re supporting China’s dirty habit

    By James West

    Cross-posted from Climate Desk

    29 Oct 2014 12:23 PM

    Original source:

    If you’ve recently purchased a new iPhone, or a fancy T-shirt, or a children’s toy … or really virtually any consumer or industrial good, there’s a strong chance that a giant ship ferried it from or through China. China, dubbed “the world’s factory” for pumping out so much of the world’s consumables, now boasts seven of the world’s top 10 busiest trading ports. Strung up and down its densely populated eastern coast, China’s 10 biggest ports handle nearly 30 percent of the world’s containers each year.

    These mega-ports — Shanghai’s is the planet’s busiest — helped China become the biggest trader in the world, eclipsing the U.S. in 2012. China has also become the world’s second largest consumer market — meaning that more and more ships are unloading wares in the country’s ports, not just loading up.

    But there’s a big downside for the planet in all that trade, according to a report released Tuesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a U.S.-based environmental advocacy group with offices in Beijing. When the country’s brutal smog and worsening air crisis make international headlines, as it did earlier this month after runners in the Beijing marathon donned air masks, coal burning and China’s grid-locked streets get most of the attention. But emissions from China’s vast shipping industry have so far been “very much overlooked” by Chinese leaders, says Barbara Finamore, an author of the report and NRDC’s Asia director.

    “Last September, the central government issued a national air control plan and it only mentioned this in passing,” she said in a phone interview from Beijing.

    Finamore’s report argues that poor regulation in China means that in a single day one container ship can pollute as much as half a million trucks:



    That’s because regulations allow China’s oceangoing ships to burn fuel with sulfur levels that are 100 to 3,500 times higher than those permitted for road vehicles, according to the report. This so-called “bunker oil” is extremely dirty and spews toxic exhaust into the air, including harmful diesel particulates, and nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide that cause smog. Those chemicals are known to lead to respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses. Shipping is not a small contributor: Two thirds of the sulfur pollution in the Chinese megacity of Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, comes from the shipping industry, says Finamore.

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