BLM Seeks Comments on Development of Regulations for Competitive Leasing of Solar and Wind Energy on Public Lands
(January 5, 2012)
BLM News Release
The BLM has announced an “advance notice of proposed rulemaking… to express interest in establishing an efficient, competitive process for issuing right-of-way (ROW) leases for solar and wind energy development on the public lands.” “The notice of proposed rulemaking comes as BLM pursues a zone-based approach to solar development that aims to speed permitting in areas that minimize environmental harm” (E&E News LandLetter).
(January 4, 2012)
San Francisco Chronicle
The first Sierra snow surveys in California have found very little to measure so far this year, with just 19% of the average water content in snow measured across the entire range. Almost two-thirds of the water used to irrigate millions of acres of farmland and quench the thirst of California’s 38.8 million people is contained in the Sierra snowpack. Because of the unusually large amount of storms last year and a lot of carry-over storage, the state’s reservoirs are still brimming, but are depending on the typically wet months of January and February to make up for the early-season dryness.
(January 3, 2012)
“Predictions of the loss of animal and plant diversity around the world are common under models of future climate change. But a new study shows that because these climate models don’t account for species competition and movement, they could grossly underestimate future extinctions.” The study can be read in full here.
(January 2, 2012)
New York Times
Two California companies are planning to build plants that would store solar energy for use when the sun is not shining. The solar thermal technology relies on trapping solar heat in salts, for later use, on the premise that falling solar panel prices will lead to wider adoption, pushing the peak demands on the grid and highest energy prices to later in the day when direct solar production would be minimal.
(December 21, 2011)
San Francisco Chronicle
The recent plunge in solar-cell prices has been a boon for developers of solar power plants, despite last year’s high profile Solyndra bankruptcy.
Reports and Studies:
(December 28, 2011)
Center for Global Development: Forest Monitoring for Action
The Forest Monitoring for Action (FORMA) initiative uses satellite imagery to estimate monthly deforestation rates in 27 countries. This report summarizes recent trends in large-scale tropical forest clearing since from December 2005 to August 2011. While the overall trend seems hopeful, divergent experiences between countries have produced diverse trends, with significantly reduced deforestation rates in some countries and significantly increased rates in others.
(December 20, 2011)
Oregon State University
A new study finds that forest thinning to help prevent or reduce severe wildfire will release more carbon to the atmosphere than any amount saved by successful fire prevention. While thinning may provide some benefits such as restoration of forest structure or health, wildlife enhancement or public safety, the scientists say that increased carbon sequestration is not one of them.