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Archive for April, 2011

Knowing Where We Stand to Save Money, Improve Efficiency, Reduce Pollution, and Eliminate Waste

(April 28, 2011)

Council on Environmental Equality

The federal government has released its first-ever comprehensive Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory, which accounts for the GHG emissions associated with the Federal Government’s operations in 2010.  President Obama announced last year that the federal government will reduce its direct emissions by 28% and its indirect emissions by 13% by the year 2020.  These actions could “save up to  $11 billion dollars in energy costs over the next decade and eliminate the equivalent of cumulative 235 million barrels of oil.”  Click here for the full GHG Inventory. 

Tata Power to Boost Renewable Energy Capacity

(April 27, 2011)

Wall Street Journal

India’s largest private power  utility company, Tata Power Co., has commissioned a 3.9MW solar project in an attempt to meet renewable energy goals.  It also plans to “add more than 150 megawatts of wind-based electricity capacity and raise its solar power production tenfold by the end of March 2012.”

Sask. government approves $1.24 billion clean-coal project

(April 27, 2011)

The Vancouver Sun

SaskPower, Canada, is undertaking a $1.24 billion carbon-capturing project at their Boundary Dam generating station.  It plans to capture 1 million tons of carbon dioxide (250,000 vehicle emissions)  annually, and will be the first commercial-scale power plant with an integrated carbon-capture system.

Presidential Proclamation- Earth Day

(April 22, 2011)

In his Earth Day proclamation, President Barack Obama stressed the prevalence of global climate change by stating that “no nation, however large or small, wealthy or poor, can escape the impact of climate change.”  He asserts the need for both global and local efforts to take responsibility for climate change and encourages individual actions towards protecting the earth against environmental hazards.

Federal Agencies Release Performance Benchmarks for Energy and Sustainability Goals

(April 19, 2011)

Council on Environmental Quality

For the first time ever, federal agencies released their scorecards on energy and environmental performance.  These scorecards are meant to provide benchmarks, and help each agency meet energy and greenhouse gas performance standards by targeting and tracking opportunities to improve efficiency, reduce pollution, and eliminate waste.  Based on the scorecards, agencies will update their sustainability plans, which are due in June,  to address areas needing improvement.

Pay Now, Pay Later

(The American Security Project)

The website provides an interactive map with the  state-by state assessment of the costs of climate change for each state.  Click here for Oregon. 

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Articles and News:

Bill moves Wash. plant off coal by 2025

(April 13, 2011)

The Bellingham Herald

Senate Bill 5769, which will gradually shut down Washington state’s largest coal-fired power plant,  was overwhelmingly passed in the house (87 to 9).  The Canada-based TransAlta plant is based in Centralia, and is “the state’s top point source of greenhouse gases, toxic mercury and nitrogen oxide, and second in sulfur dioxide that causes acid rain.” The bill shuts down one of the two boilers by 2020, and phases-out coal burning at the plant by 2025.  In addition, Portland General Electric plans to close Oregon’s only coal-fired plant by 2020, “paving the way to end coal-burning as a source of electricity in the Northwest.”

Mossi & Ghisolfi Starts to Build Bio-Ethanol Plant

(April 13, 2011)

Bloomberg

In Northwestern Italy, construction has begun on the world’s first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant.  The plant plans to open in 2012 and will produce 40-45,000 tons of ethanol a year from a bamboo-like grass.  “A biomass electricity plant on the same site will burn waste material to generate about 10 megawatts of electricity, according to the company.”

Budget Deal Cuts Target EPA, Homeland Security, But Education Spared

(April 12, 2011)

Oregon Public Broadcasting

The details for the $38.5 billion budget cuts that avoided government shutdown, including those to the EPA, are examined and discussed in this segment by OPB reporter Ray Suarez and Naftali Bendavid, congressional correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.

Statement of Administration Policy on HR 910 (pdf 124 kb)

(April 5, 2011)

Executive Office of the President

In this statement, the presidential administration explicitly states opposition to H.R. 910 – Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 (Rep. Upton, R-MI, and 95 cosponsors).  The statement cites facts and statistics supporting the EPA’s continued authority in the administering of the Clean Air Act.  The evidence presented for Clean Air Act regulation by the EPA without proposed regulations includes: health benefits, lowered fuel prices, decreased dependence on oil, ecosystem service protection, and “the widely-accepted scientific consensus that carbon pollution is at increasingly dangerous concentrations and is contributing to the threat of climate change.”  The statement concludes that if the president is presented with legislation to limit Clean Air Act authority, “his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”

Google provides $168 million for solar energy plant to be built in California’s Mojave Desert

(April 11, 2011)

The Washington Post

While Google, Inc has a history of funding projects that promise to generate energy from sources alternative to coal and oil, it has made its biggest investment in “clean energy” thus far with $168 million for BrightSource Energy’s solar power plant in  CA’s Mojave Desert.  The project is called the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, and aims to generate enough energy to light 140,0oo homes upon completion in 2013.

Taking a Second Look at Penguins’ Decline

(April 11, 2011)

New York Times

The populations of both ice-love Adelie and warmer-winter loving chinstrap penguins have declined by more than 50% over the last 30 years.  The main problem is not the rapid melting of sea ice and resulting habitat loss as originally anticipated, but the reduction in both species’ main food source- Antarctic Krill.

EPA Proposes to Defer GHG Permitting Requirements for Industries that Use Biomass/Agency aims for science-based, reasonable approach to biomass

(March 14, 2011)

EPA News Release

The EPA is proposing that carbon dioxide regulations from bioenergy in the Clean Air Act be deferred for three years. In this time, the agency will continue to conduct scientific research on how CO2 emissions from bioenergy sources should be regulated under the EPA. The EPA has been given guidance leaning towards biomass as a low CO2 emissions fuel source but has yet to make the deferral final.

El Alto, city of rural migrants whose crops failed when the climate changed

The Guardian (UK) Poverty Matters Blog

Hundreds of thousands of people have flooded into the 13,000′ city of El Alto, Bolivia from the countryside where erratic weather, frequent droughts, heatwaves, floods, and unseasonal frosts have made growing crops too much of an uncertain challenge.  Meanwhile, those that remain are uncertain as to how to adapt to the changing conditions.

Reports:

Degraded coastal wetlands contribute to climate change

(April 11, 2011)

International Union for Conservation of Nature

This report looks at carbon dioxide emissions and decreases in sequestration as a result of the drainage and destruction of coastal wetlands worldwide.  It suggests that in addition to the loss of carbon-trapping vegetation, drained marine ecosystems may continue to emit “blue carbon”- carbon that is stored in the soil sediments beneath them- from the organic- rich soils for decades.  It highlights the current rates of loss and degradation, which are “which are up to four times those of tropical forests”, and suggests management of the coastal ecosystems for the full range of services that they provide.

Natural gas from fracking could be ‘dirtier’ than coal, Cornell professors find

(April 11, 2011)

Cornell Chronicle

In the first peer-reviewed paper on methane emissions from shale gas (pdf, 452 kb), a Cornell University study finds that extracting natural gas from Marcellus Shale could produce more global climate change effects than coal mining.  The reason:  methane gas that leaks into the atmosphere during hydraulic fracturing.  In the short term, methane has 105 times more warming impact than carbon dioxide.  The leakage from hydraulically fractured wells may be twice as that from smaller, conventional gas wells, warranting further investigation and a search for more accurate data on methane leakage.

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