Energy and Global Warming News for April 15

Top Story

Valley fever blowin’ on a hotter wind.

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

Obama Energy Chief Discusses Climate

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.

California Seeks to Curb Appetite of Power-Hungry TVs

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.


Labor, greens team up

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.

National Post

Toronto wants mandatory green roofs

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.

Science Daily

Cuts In Greenhouse Gas Emissions Would Save Arctic Ice, Reduce Sea Level Rise

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)

Groups challenge permits for S.C. power plant

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. (AU)

Dam water levels dwindling to historic low

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

8 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for April 15

  1. paulm says:

    Don’t ‘rinky-dink around the margins’ of climate change

    Auden Schendler is blowing a metaphorical raspberry at the kind of hybrid-driving, plastic bag-banning environmentalists for which Seattle is known.

    “The problem is, too many Americans are saying: ‘I’ve got my Prius and that’s all I need to do,'” Schendler, the executive director of sustainability at Aspen Skiing Co., said during a luncheon in downtown Seattle Friday.

    We need to cut our carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050, he said.

    “That’s insane. It means changing everything we do,” he said, adding, later: “You can’t rinky-dink around the margins of this issue.”

  2. hapa says:

    i guess the plan would be something like “new roofs green, old roofs white”?

  3. paulm says:

    Firms abandon carbon offsets

    CARBON-OFFSET PROJECTS in emerging economies, once the darling of British companies keen to address their environmental impact, are becoming the latest casualty of the recession.

    Sales of credits for voluntary offsetting projects plummeted 70% during the first two months of this year compared with the last two months of 2008, according to the environmental research firm New Energy Finance. The price of these credits also suffered, falling 30%.

  4. Harrier says:

    Here’s some cool energy tech I found at CleanTechnia, another blog I’ve been visiting lately:

    Piezoelectric converters that turn the mechanical energy of human footsteps into electrical energy. They say their prototypes, applied broadly, can generate about one watt per person, and they hope to improve on that. It’s an intriguing idea for huge cities.

  5. paulm says:

    UK gov’t to fund climate-change project

    The tourism capital, Montego Bay, is one of two resort areas in the Caribbean selected as test sites for a multimillion dollar climate-change project being funded by the United Kingdom government.

  6. David B. Benson says:

    “Cuts In Greenhouse Gas Emissions Would Save Arctic Ice, Reduce Sea Level Rise”:

    Better at 450 ppm than at 750 ppm.

    Nothing Joe Romm’s regular readers don’t know, but a bit surprising at the end.

  7. David B. Benson says:

    “Algae Could ‘Supply Entire World with Aviation Fuel'”:,1518,618859,00.html

    but in the meantime, increased use of Jatrophra oil for bio-jet-fuel.

  8. David B. Benson says:

    “‘We Have to Save, Save, Save'”:,1518,618911,00.html

    Running low on crude oil says French oil company, Total, executive (who walks to work).