Archive for January, 2011


GOP Bills Would Curb EPA on Global Warming Battle

(January 6, 2011)

The Washington Post

Members of the GOP-led House introduced 3 bills last week to obstruct the EPA from moving forward with regulations on Greenhouse Gas emission from factories and other sources.  The bills propose removing funding for the EPA, removing their ability to regulate emissions, and forbidding them to make any carbon dioxide regulations under the Clean Air Act for the next 2 years.   House Republicans state that the EPA’s policies are job-killing.  No new co-sponsors have been added to the bills yet, but the rush to block the Clean Air Act is a sign that the EPA’s struggle to regulate global warming gases wont be easy.

Cape Wind is Cleared for Takeoff- Mostly

(January 7, 2011)

New York Times Green Blog

Last week Cape Wind, Massachusetts, became the first offshore wind farm to receive all necessary permits to move forward with building, 10 years after the project began.  The construction process plans to build 130 turbines, each 440 feet tall, off of the coast of Cape Cod in Nantucket Bay.  The first phase, for electricity transmission, will begin this year.  Complete construction depends on the ability of Cape Wind to sell the electricity, which is going at a much higher price than the national average retail.  The project will, however, dump more electricity into the market during peak periods, potentially driving down prices established in daily auctions during that time.

Biochar: An Ancient Solution for a Modern Problem

Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences News

A dark, charcoal-like substance found in ancient fertile Amazonian soils, biochar, is igniting the interest of scientists as a promising discovery for carbon sequestration, energy production, and biomass utilization.  Biochar can be made from agricultural residue, wood chips, manure, and other biomass.  The production process releases transferable energy, and the resulting product is carbon rich, helping soils to maintain water and nutrients.  As a natural carbon sink, biochar locks carbon in the soil for hundreds of years.  Implications indicate the possibility of huge reductions in human-caused greenhouse gases.  While such a shift in biomass use is not practically feasibly at the moment, and production technology is not yet advanced enough for mass production at the commercial scale, biochar provides a promising option for future investigation as a global climate change mitigation system.


Forest Health & Biomass Energy Transition–Team Recommendations to Governor Kitzhaber

The Forest Health and Biomass Energy plan is a set of recommendations for simultaneous progress on three of Oregons long-standing goals: Healthy forests, rural jobs, and renewable energy.  Immediate action recommendations focus on establishing and maintaining a biomass market. Other goals include: Creating market development priorities, accelerating forest reforestation, and increasing federal forest biomass harvests.

Carbon Management and Accounting for Lying Dead Wood

The Forest Guild

Commissioned by the Climate Action Reserve, this report focuses on the carbon stored in lying dead wood (LDW).  From the Forest Guild:

“LDW is a critical and undervalued part of our forests that provides habitat for wildlife, reduces erosion, stores water, facilitates growth of plants, recycles nutrients, and sequesters carbon. It is the quantity and measurement of the carbon stored in LDW that is the focus of this new report.  Accounting for carbon in LDW requires careful measurement; but measuring LDW is more challenging than taking an inventory of live trees, because breakage and decay make LDW even more irregular and heterogeneous than living trees. The new report provides an in-depth discussion of various sampling methods. The extensive list of references for both sampling methods and LDW characteristics by forest type provides the most comprehensive resource to date for planning an LDW inventory.”

Beef Production and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Environmental Health Perspectives

This perspective looks at the cattle carbon footprint, and the debate on whether feeding organic grass alone produces less carbon than corn-fattened cows.

This article, from Science News Blog, further explains the carbon impact of cattle and beef consumption:  American Association for the Advancement of Science: Climate Friendly Dining…. meats

Livestock’s Role in Climate Change and Air Pollution: The United Nation’s source for livestock emissions.


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EPA Limit on Gases to Pose Risk to Obama and Congress

(December 30, 2010)

New York Times

The first phase of new EPA regulations on greenhouse gases took effect on Sunday, January 2, 2011.  These regulations require permits for new coal plants and for modifications on existing plants, but the oldest and dirties plants will be modified at a later date.  While the immediate effect on industry is quite small, with only an estimated 400 facilities affected in the first few years, the EPA plans to regulate all GHG sources in every industry and region in the next decade.

Further regulations that move the limiting of GHG further forward must keep in mind that moving too far too fast could result in a “Congressional backlash that could set back the effort for years.”  At the same time, by attempting to further limit the EPA, a Republican-led Congress risks public outcry, wedging the agency in a fierce political battle of regulation power that seems to result in climate change legislation stalemate for the next Congressional session.

10 To Watch: Senators on Energy

(December 30, 2010)


With a Republican-controlled house, energy and environmental legislation compromise in the new Congress is expected to come from the Senate.  Members of both parties have shown interest in establishing a new or broader federal renewable power mandate, while mandatory carbon controls appear to be out of the question.  This article notes 10 senators in particular who could be key players in upcoming energy and environmental policy.

Coal’s Burnout: Have Investors Moved On To Cleaner Energy Sources?

(January 1, 2011)

Washington Post

For the second year in a row, construction did not begin on any new coal power plants in 2010.  While coal plants produce nearly half of the US’s electricity, environmental regulations, economic conditions, and low natural gas prices and discoveries have prevented groundbreaking on any new plants.  Plants begun earlier are still under construction, however, and new ones are expected in order to supply projected future energy demands.  In the end, a switch toward new, less expensive natural gas plants, along with more renewable energy sources to meet state-adopted measures is expected.

Green Skeletons Lurk In GOP Closets

(January 2, 2011)


Surprisingly, many of the top Republican presidential candidates have warned about climate change threats and pledged to limit greenhouse gases in recent years.  While many of these GOP leaders would perhaps like to forget these statements in a conservative voting base, this article presents a thorough selection of quotes from them affirming previous commitments to fighting climate change.

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