"Energy and Global Warming News for April 15"
Hotter temps and more intense dust storms are propelling an endemic disease across the Southwest United States….
Some health experts believe new weather conditions – hotter temperatures and more intense dust storms fueled by global warming – are creating a perfect storm for the transmission of coccidioidomycosis, also known as valley fever, a fungal disease endemic to the southwestern United States….
The number of cases in Arizona more than quadrupled from 1997 to 2006, according to a Mayo Clinic study. During that same period, incidence rates in California jumped from 2.5 to 8.4 cases per 100,000 people.
New York Times
On Monday, [Carol] Browner offered a glimpse of the administration’s strategy at an energy forum held by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. By her account, the administration is determined to move forward on climate change even in the face a crippling recession and global economic crisis.
The state’s Energy Commission has proposed new efficiency standards that would require televisions sold in California to use 50 percent less energy by 2013.
Environmental groups are spending the congressional recess lobbying for two of the most controversial issues in Congress: the Employee Free Choice Act and a cap-and-trade system to regulate greenhouse gases.
Toronto is poised to become the first city in North America to make green roofs mandatory on most new buildings and set standards for their construction.
A city committee today considered a proposed bylaw that would require roofs on new buildings with an area of 5,000 square meters or greater to be 30% to 60% covered by vegetation.
The threat of global warming can still be greatly diminished if nations cut emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases by 70 percent this century, according to a new analysis. While global temperatures would rise, the most dangerous potential aspects of climate change, including massive losses of Arctic sea ice and permafrost and significant sea level rise, could be partially avoided.
The study was led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). ‘This research indicates that we can no longer avoid significant warming during this century,’ says NCAR scientist Warren Washington, the lead author. ‘But if the world were to implement this level of emission cuts, we could stabilize the threat of climate change and avoid catastrophe.’
E&E News (Subs. Req’d)
A legal fight officially began Monday in Florence County, South Carolina, where a handful of environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control in an attempt to block the construction of a $2.5 billion coal plant. As one of the first suits to put carbon emissions on trial, this may prove a landmark case.
Environmental groups are suing South Carolina regulators to block an air pollution permit issued to Santee Cooper’s proposed $2.5 billion coal-fired power plant along the Great Pee Dee River.
In the lawsuit filed yesterday, environmentalists charge that South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control violated federal clean air laws by permitting a plant that would emit more than 10 million tons of carbon dioxide and thousands of tons of toxics and particulates a year throughout its 50-year projected lifespan.
‘This plant would add mercury pollution to an already contaminated region of the Pee Dee, but DHEC waived the maximum mercury controls required by law,’ said Blan Holman, a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. ‘The tragedy of DHEC’s decision is that we have far cheaper and cleaner options than a $2.5 billion coal plant, and those options would generate thousands more jobs than this dinosaur ever would.’
The center filed the suit in the South Carolina Administrative Law Court on behalf of the Environmental Defense Fund, the League of Women Voters of South Carolina, the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, the South Carolina Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club.
Laura Varn, a spokeswoman for Santee Cooper, said moving forward on the Florence County plant would help the state-owned electric utility comply with its mandate to provide affordable, reliable power to South Carolinians.
‘The permit that was approved by the DHEC board meets all of the regulations, and those regulations are protective of human health and the environment,’ she said. ‘The environmental control technology on this facility is such that it will make it one of the cleanest plants when it is built.’
DHEC issued the permits in February, a day after Gov. Mark Sanford (R) voiced opposition to the plant, citing new federal regulations that could raise construction costs and concerns over pollution and slumping energy demand amid the economic downturn. Sanford instead said he supported expanding nuclear power to meet the state’s future energy needs.
But boosting renewable and nuclear energy sources will not be enough to meet the growing energy demands of South Carolina’s residents, Varn said, adding that the new coal plant would be a critical part of the mix. ‘We view it as a balanced solution,’ she said.
MELBOURNE’S dwindling water storages are on the verge of a historic low, a quarter of a century after the Thomson Dam was promised to drought-proof the city.
The nine major dams are expected to fall to 28.4 per cent of capacity today, matching the record low set in June 2007.
Compiled by Max Luken and Carlin Rosengarten