Energy and climate news for February 5, 2011: Obama touts clean energy as jobs booster; More oil drilling rigs are in Gulf than before BP disaster; EPA decides to limit rocket fuel in drinking water–Guess who objects?

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"Energy and climate news for February 5, 2011: Obama touts clean energy as jobs booster; More oil drilling rigs are in Gulf than before BP disaster; EPA decides to limit rocket fuel in drinking water–Guess who objects?"

EPA Decides to Limit Rocket Fuel in Drinking Water–Guess Who Objects?

Overturning a 2008 decision by the Bush administration, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday that it will establish a federal limit on the amount of perchlorate in drinking water. This would be the first nation-wide limit and would crack down on the naturally occurring and artificially produced chemical that is used in rocket fuel, fireworks, flares and missiles. The reason for concern is that the EPA says perchlorate may have an impact on the thyroid, which Time Magazine’s Bryan Walsh calls a “nasty” chemical because it hinders the “thyroid’s ability to produce hormones needed for developing fetuses and infants.”

According to an EPA study, the chemical’s reach is not small: “more than 4 percent of public water systems have detected perchlorate and between 5 million and 17 million people may be served drinking water containing perchlorate.” Furthermore, The Washington Post’s Brian Vastag notes that the FDA peeked into just how pervasive perchlorate was in the food supply in 2006 and found it in 74 percent of the items it tested. Unsurprisingly, Wednesday’s announcement has its critics. Among them: The Perchlorate Information Bureau, whose spokesman Bill Romanelli thinks this is about ideology. The Perchlorate Information Bureau, of course, “is supported by Aerojet, American Pacific Corporation and Lockheed Martin,” so Romanelli might not be the most impartial observer, either.

At present, the EPA is still hammering out what the limit should be, when it will roll out, and just how much it will cost to implement. Despite these open ended issues, however, commenters saw no reason to hold back their praise, their critcisim or their questions.

  • Why Is This Taking So Long? asks the National Resources Defense Council’s Jennifer Sass. Although Sass is excited that the EPA is going after perchlorate, she told the Washington Post that we shouldn’t be waiting for more information to move forward. “Anything that anybody needed to say about this process is already done,” she says. On her blog, Sass also notes that “after more than 17 years of accumulated science on perchlorate harms, two EPA toxicological reviews (1998, 2002), and a lengthy review by the National Academies (2004), it is past time for EPA to take effective regulatory action to protect people’s health by preventing exposure to perchlorate.”
  • This Reverses a Huge Mistake The Washington Post’s Brian Vastag says that the Bush Administration had an opportunity to clean up our drinking water but went out of its way not to, noting “a Washington Post investigation at the time found that officials from the Bush administration heavily edited a key EPA report to play down the risks of the chemical. A Government Accountability Office report also found that the Defense Department–which, along with NASA, is a heavy user of perchlorate–sought to derail any perchlorate standards.”
  • Score! The National Resources Defense Council’s Mae Wu says the EPA’s Lisa Jackson is proof that things are moving in the right direction. She says “given the science on the impact of perchlorate on normal thyroid function and the data on the widespread occurrence of perchlorate throughout the U.S., this determination marks the Agency finally coming to its senses.”

More oil drilling rigs are in Gulf of Mexico than before BP oil spill

While a backlog of drilling permits in Washington continues to feed oil industry angst, new data shows that more rigs are in the Gulf of Mexico than before the BP oil spill, indicating that operators might have more confidence in the future than they are letting on.

The latest tracking information from ODS-Petrodata, a Houston-based compiler of oil and gas data, shows there are 10 more rigs in the Gulf now than there were last April.

While only 34 of the 125 rigs in the Gulf are actually working — half the total that were active before the Macondo well blowout — the vast majority of the idle rigs, particularly those slated for big-ticket jobs in deepwater, will remain under contract for the rest of 2011.

In the shallow-water Gulf oil fields, where the government has never officially banned drilling but has issued few work permits in the past several months, activity has rebounded to near its pre-blowout levels.

There are 26 shallow-water rigs operating now, just 11 fewer than before the BP blowout, according to ODS-Petrodata. In December, the government issued seven shallow-water drilling permits, matching the monthly average from the year leading up to the BP disaster.

Obama Touts Clean Energy As Jobs Booster

While Egypt has demanded much of President Obama’s time these days, today he turned to domestic matters. Mr. Obama delivered a speech on jobs and innovation in State College, Pennsylvania. And he used the moment to introduce a proposal to make factories and office buildings more energy efficient.

NPR’s Scott Horsley reports.

SCOTT HORSLEY: President Obama admits energy efficient buildings is not the sexiest sounding path of the future, but on a day when much of the country is shivering in subfreezing temperatures, cutting the heat and electric bill might have some appeal.

Commercial buildings consume about one-fifth of all the energy used at the U.S. Mr. Obama says a 20 percent gain in efficiency could save those businesses some $40 billion a year.

President BARACK OBAMA: Making our buildings more energy efficient is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways to save money, combat pollution and create jobs right here in the United States of America. And that’s what we’re going to do.

(Soundbite of applause)

HORSLEY: The president was speaking at Penn State University, which will anchor a new energy innovation hub. That’s where Mr. Obama outlined what he called a better building initiative. It would include rewards for local governments that adopt energy friendly building codes and financial incentives to help building owners cover the upfront cost of energy upgrades.

Pres. OBAMA: What we’re saying to people is if you’re willing to make your buildings more energy efficient, we’ll provide new tax credits and financing opportunities for you to do so.

HORSLEY: That might not be easy, though. A similar plan for Mr. Obama last year, to make homes more energy efficient, stalled in Congress. With turmoil in the Middle East and a stronger global economy, energy prices are on the rise, though. Floyd DesChamps of the Alliance to Save Energy says that could boost the prospects for the president’s plan.

Obama seeks to give jolt to energy plan

President Barack Obama on Thursday sought to carve out a slice of attention in news coverage blanketed with the Egypt crisis for his politically crucial bid to revive the US economy.

Obama’s State of the Union address, laying out his new mantra that America needs an explosion of innovation to compete with China and India, was only last week — but seems an age ago, with Washington fixated on the Middle East.

But the White House sees Obama’s economic push as crucial to expanding US exports, competitiveness, cutting high unemployment and sparking a new range of green energy jobs.

His efforts to reboot the slowly recovering economy are also vital to the president’s own hopes of winning a second term, as his reelection effort begins to take shape.

Obama, who has been briefed several times each day on the Egypt crisis and is leading US diplomatic efforts, took a few hours away from foreign policy to travel to Pennsylvania State University here.

His mission was to highlight one area of the green energy push — an initiative to encourage energy efficient buildings — which he says is typical of employment opportunities offered up by green economy jobs.

“They’ll be more than jobs that help support families. They’ll be jobs with a national purpose — jobs that make our economy smarter, jobs that make our planet safer, jobs that maintain America’s competitive edge in the 21st Century,” Obama said.

In Pa., Obama Pushes Investment in Clean Energy

President Obama brought a message of economic innovation and clean energy to this key swing state on Thursday, even as his administration continued to grapple with the rapidly changing uprising in Egypt.

In a speech at Pennsylvania State University, Mr. Obama promised new tax incentives, government investment and revamped regulations for energy efficiency. He also toured laboratories where researchers study ways to make buildings more energy efficient.

The president’s remarks, delivered to several thousand students in the university gymnasium, echoed the theme of last month’s State of the Union address.

“These are places where the future will be won,” Mr. Obama said. “These are the places where the new jobs and the world’s best businesses will take root.”

The president spent much of last year promoting the benefits of investment in clean-energy technologies. On Thursday, Mr. Obama vowed that new government investment would spur American innovation.

That message is at the center of a philosophical clash with Republicans on Capitol Hill, who deride Mr. Obama’s use of the word “investment” as code for greater government spending in the face of growing federal deficits.

O’Malley seeks venture capital fund, wind farms in State of the State speech

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley urged lawmakers Thursday to back a $100 million venture capital initiative, spur investment in offshore wind farms and ban the installation of septic systems in major new housing developments.

O’Malley (D) used his fifth State of the State speech to pitch several priorities, some of which have already drawn skeptical questions from lawmakers in both parties and could test his political muscle after a convincing reelection in November.

In a 28-minute address to a joint session of the General Assembly, the governor also acknowledged unpopular budget choices ahead but asked for a continued focus on education, job creation and the environment.

“The state of our state is stronger today than two years ago. It is stronger than it was even a year ago. But better isn’t good enough,” O’Malley said in a speech that was interrupted by applause a dozen times. “There is more we can do, and for the sake of our children’s future, there is more we must do.”

Tennessee solar energy farm gets environmental OK

Officials say the U.S. Department of Energy has given approval for site preparation and construction to begin on a solar energy farm in Haywood County.

Tennessee’s Department of Economic and Community Development says the Energy Department completed its environmental review of the solar array and found it complies with federal regulations.

The West Tennessee Solar Farm will sit on 200 acres off Interstate 40 and will be capable of producing more than 7 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually.

Under the Volunteer State Solar Initiative, $31 million in federal stimulus funds will be used for installation. Development is being managed by the University of Tennessee, and Chattanooga-based Signal Energy will design and build it.

Biomass industry developing in West Virginia

Though the Environmental Protection Agency has become an enemy of many West Virginia lawmakers for perceived anti-coal policies, at least one industry developing in the state has been shown some favor from the agency.

Last month, the EPA announced a three-year pass on greenhouse-gas permitting requirements from the burning of biomass materials. Research into the development of biomass, or plant and animal waste, as a fuel source is under way in West Virginia.

In the EPA announcement, the agency said the three-year deferral allows enough time to determine environmental impacts that may come from burning biomass for fuels. The agency will also use the time to determine if emissions from biomass facilities should be held to permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act.

Well before the EPA announcement, several West Virginia researchers had already been looking at developing biomass energy in the state.

Marshall University researchers at the Center for Environmental, Geotechnical and Applied Sciences (CEGAS) have working with the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center and the West Virginia Division of Energy Office of Coalfield Community Development to utilize abandoned and current coal surface mines for various renewable energy sources.

Senate shoots down attempt to end set of oil industry tax breaks

The oil and gas industry, which beat back new regulatory bills even during the worst days of last year’s massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, scored another victory this week.

The Senate voted late Wednesday against a proposal to end some oil industry tax breaks to pay for easing paperwork requirements for small business under President Barack Obama’s health overhaul law.

Instead, the Senate passed an alternative, using unappropriated federal funds, to pay for the $22 billion estimated cost over 10 years of the small-business provision. It would drop a requirement that, starting next year, small businesses file IRS forms every time they make purchases of services or goods worth $600 or more.

The repeal measure passed 81-17. Opponents of ending tax breaks for oil companies, including Louisiana lawmakers, argued that now is not the time to impose taxes on an industry that is struggling to regain domestic offshore production after an embargo and what some industry officials call a continuing de facto embargo on offshore drilling.

L.A. air officials to vote on pollution trading

A nine-year battle between Los Angeles regional air quality officials, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California public health groups over the integrity of the area’s pollution trading system will be rejoined Friday, as air district officials vote on new rules governing pollution offsets.

Environmentalists contend that a proposal by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD), known as Rule 1315, will lock in a phony accounting system that will count years-old pollution reductions as offsets, thus allowing businesses to build new facilities that pollute.

“The district is creating tons of credits for companies to emit soot,” said Angela Johnson Meszaros, an attorney for several environmental justice and health groups. “They are creating way more than they need for essential public services. Then they will give them to big business and new power plants.”

The fight over the trading system has ricocheted through state and federal courts for years. In the waning hours of its 2009 session, the California Legislature enacted two laws to circumvent a state court ruling that had suspended the region’s trading system. One of those laws explicitly authorized a proposed power plant in Palm Desert to use AQMD offsets that had been banked for use by hospitals and other public facilities.

The Los Angeles region has some of the worst air pollution in the U.S., with soot and smog that cause thousands of premature deaths, according to scientists.

Coal Foes Play China Card

A battle over a proposed coal export terminal on the Columbia River has taken on a global dimension, as opponents say local officials have to consider the potential environmental harm when the U.S. fuel is burned at its destination””in China.

Making this argument is “a core strategy in the fight against a huge expansion of the fossil-fuel economy,” said Ross Macfarlane of Seattle-based Climate Solutions, one of the groups that want the terminal project stopped.

Terminal critics also say the potential environmental damage from mining the material in Montana and Wyoming hasn’t been adequately assessed.

Local officials reject both arguments. “Environmental groups are treading new ground here, there is no guidance from the state of Washington on how to approach this,” said Mike Wojtowicz, an official in Cowlitz County, which gave construction approval for the project.

U.S. coal companies are looking for a better way to export to Asia, as there are now no major coal exporting facilities on the U.S. West Coast. Washington state, with its proximity to coal-rich Wyoming and Montana, is seen as the best place to start.

In November, Millennium Bulk Terminals LLC, a unit of Australia-based Ambre Energy Ltd., purchased the site of a former Alcoa Inc. aluminum smelter in Longview. Millennium plans to spend $100 million on the coal terminal, which local officials hope will bring 125 construction jobs and 75 permanent positions to Longview, a former sawmill hub where unemployment last year topped 12%.

Shell Cancels 2011 Arctic Drilling Plans

Royal Dutch Shell PLC this morning announced it is postponing plans to drill for oil this summer in seas off Alaska, citing continued uncertainty over whether it would receive federal permits.

Shell CEO Peter Voser in an earnings call with reporters said the company would need to spend as much as $150 million without knowing whether it would receive needed permits from U.S. EPA and the Interior Department.

“Despite our investment in acreage and technology and our work with the stakeholders, we haven’t been able to drill a single exploration well,” Voser said. “Critical permits continue to be delayed, and the timeline for getting these permits is still uncertain.”

The plan took a hit in late December when an EPA appeals board remanded Shell’s Clean Air Act permits back to the company for revisions, faulting the agency’s analysis of the impacts of nitrogen dioxide emissions from drill ships on the Alaska Native communities (Greenwire, Jan. 5).

Shell, which has invested more than $3 billion in its Arctic development plan, also awaits drilling permits from Interior.

The company’s decision postpones exploration by at least a year in a region federal scientists believe could hold the nation’s second-largest oil and gas reserves after the Gulf of Mexico

Manchin Aims at EPA in Maiden Speech

During his fall campaign for the Senate, then-Gov. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) literally took aim at House Democrats’ “cap-and-trade” bill that placed limits on pollution.

On Thursday afternoon, Mr. Manchin, now the state’s junior senator, turned his sights to the Environmental Protection Agency. In his maiden speech on the Senate floor, he said the EPA has overstepped its regulatory power while trying to clean up the environment. He introduced a measure Thursday to ban the EPA from revoking Clean Water Act permits that have already been granted.

“Bureaucrats should not be able to regulate what has not been legislated,” he said. “Giving any agency such absolute power will have a chilling effect on investment and job creation.”

Mr. Manchin said he’s irked at the federal agency because last month it revoked a clean water permit for a West Virginia mine, after a firm had already planned to invest $250 million in the project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had approved the project in early 2007. The EPA can block such permits, but has never retroactively vetoed one, Manchin aides said.

Coal and clean-energy issues are often tricky for West Virginia Democrats. Although their party generally supports limits on fossil fuels and carbon pollution, the state’s economy and electricity grid are tied to coal mining. On energy issues, the state’s politicians tend to agree with Republicans.

Roster Changes on Senate Energy Panel Could Threaten Bipartisanship

All eyes will be on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee this session as it attempts to craft a legislative proposal to match President Obama’s prime-time statement last week that he wants to source 80 percent of the nation’s energy from low-carbon sources by 2035. But with an influx of new members, questions remain about how cohesive the panel will be on energy issues.

Seven freshmen and one veteran senator are joining the 22-member panel this year in a shakeup that could threaten the historically bipartisan committee’s ability to move on energy legislation, including the clean energy standard that Obama touted last week.

“It’s going to be tough; it’s going to be challenging to come up with a consensus,” said Joshua Freed, director of the Clean Energy Program at Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank.

The roster changes are sparked by the departures of six members from the Senate and three additional departures from the committee. Joining the panel are third-year Democrat Al Franken of Minnesota and freshmen Democrats Chris Coons of Delaware and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Five freshmen Republicans — Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Dan Coats of Indiana, Rob Portman of Ohio and John Hoeven of North Dakota — will also join the panel. Paul and Lee are political newcomers, but the other three are veteran officeholders: Coats is a former senator and congressman, while Hoeven is a former governor, and Portman served in the House and in former President George W. Bush’s Cabinet.

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49 Responses to Energy and climate news for February 5, 2011: Obama touts clean energy as jobs booster; More oil drilling rigs are in Gulf than before BP disaster; EPA decides to limit rocket fuel in drinking water–Guess who objects?

  1. Paulm says:

    Future cyclones could be more extreme: Garnaut
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Climate-Portals/139434822741700

    CYCLONE YASI is probably early real-world evidence of scientific predictions that global warming will lead to more extreme weather events, according to the government’s expert climate change adviser, Professor Ross Garnaut.

    He says that if it is, given the evidence that global warming is tracking at the highest end of international predictions, then future cyclones could prove that we ”ain’t seen nothing yet”.

    Professor Garnaut said scientists and climate change modelling had predicted global warming would lead to more frequent extreme weather events, including cyclones and bushfires.

    The prediction of more extreme storms already appeared to be verified by data from the north Atlantic. While there was not yet sufficient statistical data to prove more frequent extreme cyclones in Australia, ”there is no reason to think the physics will work differently in Australian air than north Atlantic air”, Professor Garnaut said.

    ”I would say the odds seem to favour the proposition that cyclonic events will be more intense in a hotter world and bear in mind … if this is the case we are just at the beginning of the warming process, the warming since pre-industrial times is 1 degree, the science says without mitigation … that first degree is just the beginning, and so if we are seeing an intensification of extreme weather events now, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

    Professor Garnaut is revising and updating his 2008 climate change review for the Gillard government and the multi-party climate change committee. He said that since his 2008 review the scientific evidence for global warming had become stronger.

    ”All the measurable impacts are tracking right at the top of the range of possibilities … or in some cases above them … there is no major area, unfortunately, where sceptical views of the science can draw any strength from the peer-reviewed science, the real science, that has been done in the past five years – all of the evidence appears to be in the other direction,” he told journalists yesterday.

    This week the Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce attacked the Greens for linking increased extreme weather events with climate change because cyclones have occurred for hundreds of years. The government hopes to legislate a carbon price by the end of the year.

  2. Colorado Bob says:

    Victoria swamped: storm wreaks havoc

    Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Terry Ryan said the ”unprecedented” movement of cyclone Yasi inland to the Northern Territory, combined with a longer cloud band caused by ex-cyclone Anthony, had produced a humid and unstable air mass over Victoria. ”We’ve never seen anything like it in Australia,” he said.

    http://www.theage.com.au/environment/weather/victoria-swamped-storm-wreaks-havoc-20110205-1ahsv.html

    ——-
    Check – out the first picture with this report.

  3. Prokaryotes says:

    Power to the Rescue! New hope for old mines

    For all their knowledge of the land, miners, whose legacy lives long in Colorado, had little thought of the long-term environmental consequences of their work. For over 150 years, coal, gold, silver, uranium, gypsum and limestone, among other resources, have been drilled, blasted and hauled from their hiding places. When the supplies were exhausted in one spot, the miners simply walked away.

    As we now well know, when a mine closes, the story doesn’t end there.

    There are an estimated 23,000 abandoned mines in Colorado, and many more throughout the West. Since 1980, Colorado’s Inactive Mine Reclamation Program has been the sole body charged with addressing the hazards of abandoned mines. During that time, it has secured the openings of 5,600 mines and reclaimed 1,539 acres of mined land. But the tailings of thousands of defunct mines are still spoiling countless acres and 1,300 miles of streams.

    Colorado’s remediation program is limited by the reclamation fees paid by current coal mine operations. Since restoration is time-consuming and costly ($1.5 million per mine by some estimates), only a fraction have been reclaimed. A much cheaper possible solution, currently being field-tested by a non-profit based in Carbondale, may change the reclamation landscape entirely. Since 2007, the Flux Farm Foundation has been working on reclamation with a promising substance known as biochar. Biochar is made by burning biomass (like wood, animal and crop waste) in an oxygen-limited environment, resulting in a stable form of carbon that has superior water- and nutrient-retention abilities.
    http://biochar.me/project/44-new-hope-for-old-mines.html

  4. Colorado Bob says:

    Colombo, Sri Lanka (CNN) — Heavy rains in Sri Lanka’s North Central and Eastern provinces have displaced almost a million people and caused widespread devastation, a government official said Saturday.

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/02/05/sri.lanka.flooding/

  5. Colorado Bob says:

    That front ”ingested” the moisture, causing huge cloudbursts that dumped rainfall of up to 200 millimetres in just two hours over Melbourne and regional Victoria.

    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/weather/yasis-great-arc-of-chaos-surges-south-20110205-1ahmk.html?from=smh_sb

  6. Colorado Bob says:

    MANILA, Philippines—Climate change has clearly wrought havoc on land resources. Less obvious but of equal concern is the damage it is causing underwater, marine scientists warn.

    Marine scientists in the Philippines said they have detected abnormal rises in coastal temperatures in some areas over the past two years which could affect coral reefs—and their ability to protect coastal areas from storm surges.

    http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20110205-318643/Climate-change-is-harming-PH-marine-life

  7. Colorado Bob says:

    The iron mines in North West Australia are about to experience what the Queensland coal mines have been dealing with :

    http://www.bom.gov.au/products/national_radar_sat.loop.shtml

  8. paulm says:

    7 bob, thats a very impressive loop!

  9. Colorado Bob says:

    paulm, …. here’s that phrase again :

    ”We’ve never seen anything like it in Australia,” he said.

  10. paulm says:

    welcome to planet eaarth….

    State urged to spend $500m on the Great Ocean Road
    http://www.theage.com.au/environment/weather/state-urged-to-spend-500m-on-the-great-ocean-road-20110205-1ahsw.html
    fortifying the road’s rock cliffs was a matter of urgency as climate change forecasts predicted more severe weather would lash the southern coast more often, leading to more frequent road closures.

    During last month’s storms, heavy rain caused 12 major landslips along the road, Mr Blake said, each of which took up to two weeks to fix at a cost of between $50,000 and $100,000 each.

  11. Michael T. says:

    If There’s Global Warming, Why Am I Freezing?

    “At the moment, during the winter of 2003-2004, it is pretty hard for most people on the U.S. East Coast to take global warming very seriously. Temperatures have been below normal almost continuously for at least a month and there were a few days with record or near record cold. Is global warming the figment of some scientists’ imaginations? How can we reconcile the global warming theory with the reality of what we find when we step outdoors?”

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2004january/

  12. paulm says:

    Book Review – Hot – By Mark Hertsgaard
    http://www.nytimes.com
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Climate-Portals/139434822741700

    I  haven’t had the talk yet with my kids: my 11-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. I mean the one about global warming, about what’s coming. But then, we grown-ups haven’t had the talk yet among ourselves. Not really. We don’t seem to know how: the topic is apparently too big and scary. Or perhaps, for the uninformed (or misinformed), not scary enough.

    This was the first book on climate change that not only frightened me — plenty have done that — but also broke my heart.

  13. DRT says:

    How to get to 100 percent renewables globally by 2050
    From:
    http://www.grist.org/article/2011-02-03-how-to-get-to-100-percent-renewables-globally-by-2050

    “There are many reasons to move to a sustainable energy system: fossil fuel supplies getting tighter, easy oil increasingly having to be replaced by uneasy oil, accelerating climate change. And most indications are that we’ll have to go there as soon as possible.

    But is it possible? And when? At Ecofys, we’ve been working for 25 years on our mission: “a sustainable energy supply for everyone.” Two years ago, we figured it was about time to bring all our experts together to find out whether that really makes sense. Excited by our first findings, we found WWF willing to commission an in-depth study. And since today, the word is out! Or actually, 250 pages of it, in what’s now called “The Energy Report.” And the good news is: it’s possible indeed, by 2050.”…

  14. Colorado Bob says:

    The first thing I ever did regularly on the net 11 years ago was follow the break-off of an ice berg in Antarctica . It was called B-15 , and it was the size of Delaware . Here’s one of it’s children drifting in the Southern Ocean, south of New Zealand ………. B-15 J :

    http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/gallery/?2011023-0123/B15J.A2011023.2145.500m.jpg

    Notice all the grand children around it .

  15. nz says:

    MIT Agelab may be important for designing modern net-zero transportation http://nyti.ms/emI0Yo

  16. Colorado Bob says:

    Lingering haze continued over south central Asia in late January, 2011, shrouding the lowlands south of the Himalayas with a gray veil. The Moderate Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite acquired this true-color image of the region on January 25, 2011.

    Northeast India and Bangladesh are often plagued by pollution in the winter time, when cold, heavy air slides down the southern face of the Himalayas into the lower lands, holding pollution close to the ground. Often the cold air ends up trapped underneath a layer of warmer air, resulting in a temperature inversion, locking pollutants in place. When the inversion lifts, or when spring arrives with increasing temperatures, warm air rises out of the valleys allowing the pollution to disperse more freely.

    While winter pollution is a common phenomenon, the Centre for Science and the Environment has noted that not only are this winter’s particulate levels extremely high, but so are levels of several toxic chemicals, including nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide. Earlier this winter, in December 2010, the Department of Environment (DOE) reported that airborne particulates in the city of Dhaka, Bangladesh, reached nearly five times the acceptable level set by the National Air Quality Standard of Bangladesh.

    http://modis.gsfc.nasa.gov/gallery/individual.php?db_date=2011-02-05

  17. Colorado Bob says:

    Washington, D.C. – infoZine – On Friday, Jan. 28 in Antarctica, a research team investigating the last 100,000 years of Earth’s climate history reached an important milestone completing the main ice core to a depth of 3,331 meters (10,928 feet) at West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide (WAIS). The project will be completed over the next two years with some additional coring and borehole logging to obtain additional information and samples of the ice for the study of the climate record contained in the core.

    http://www.infozine.com/news/stories/op/storiesView/sid/46126/

  18. Chris Winter says:

    A statement from the Perchlorate Information Bureau about California’s proposed limit of 1ppb in drinking water.

    http://findarticles.com/p/news-articles/us-newswire/mi_hb5554/is_20110110/statement-perchlorate-information-bureau-pib/ai_n56635996/

  19. Andy says:

    Joe:

    I hope you can call out congressman Barton’s disinformation.

    Our area suffered from rolling blackouts during the recent spate of cold weather and Joe Barton is blaming Washington red tape. He also states that wind and solar are unreliable.

    But what really happened was that Texas simply isn’t prepared for cold weather. According to ERCOT engineers (the folks who run our electric grid) as quoted by the Houston Chronicle; the real cause was the failure of about 50 mostly coal fired power plants and some gas units. The failures were due to a lack of winterization; mostly frozen pipes and valves. ERCOT’s solution will be more stringent inspections to make sure these plants comply with winterization requirements. Also to blame was a lack of back up capacity because many of these same traditional fossil fuel plants were off line for maintenance. Winter is usually a low energy use period for Texas.

    Wind power actually saved our butts and Joe Barton is making up his own reality.

    http://joebarton.house.gov/NewsRoom.aspx?FormMode=Detail&ID=641

  20. Prokaryotes says:

    Renewables could supply 99.5% of power by 2050: Greenpeace

    Renewable energies could furnish 99.5 percent of European Union electricity needs by 2050 if nuclear loses its priority access to distribution networks, Greenpeace said in a report released Tuesday.

    The environmental campaigners said that windfarms are “often stopped in peak production periods to give priority access” to electricity generated by nuclear reactors and coal-fired power stations.

    Greenpeace researchers said that solar energy in Europe’s south and wind energy from the north could supply 68 percent of the 27-nation EU’s electricity needs in 2030 and 99.5 percent by the middle of the century.

    However, the group claimed that would require governments to change policy tack and favour investments in green energy to the tune of 70 billion euros (94 billion dollars) by 2030 and another 28 billion euros over the following decade

    “It’s a question of choice,” said campaign figurehead Jan Vande Putte. http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/renewables-could-supply-995-of-power-by-2050-greenpeace-2189330.html

  21. Prokaryotes says:

    Introducing…..The European Spallation Source

    Sir Patrick Stewart presents a fascinating introduction to the European Spallation Source – one of Europe’s most advanced and exciting scientific projects.
    For the past 2 decades Europe has been designing and planning the ESS, a major science facility that will provide the world’s most intense beams of neutrons for the study of the structure and dynamics of materials at the atomic level.
    ESS has been described as the Hubble telescope of neutron sources, probing deep into materials with unpresidented clarity. It will be one of the most important and prestigious scientific research facilities in the world, enabling developments as diverse and as significant as drug design….new magnetic materials for data storage…super strong, super light ceramics for engineering…. biocompatible materials for repairing our fragile bodies…….hydrogen fuel for clean transport ……innovative processes for capturing carbon…. the list is endless. http://vimeo.com/19475801

  22. Prokaryotes says:

    These events can be attributed to climate change as well! The question how much, one thing is certain – such fights will very likely happen more often and grow in impact.

    Thailand and Cambodia Clash at Border http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2046563,00.html

    Clashes in Sudan as southerners in army refuse to withdraw to north http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/05/AR2011020503994.html

    See

    Psychological influences
    Climate Change and Mental Health: Evidence for Action http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:1TAv-6N3RAMJ:www.psysr.org/about/programs/climate/PSYSR_Climate_Change_and_Mental_Health–References_for_Action.pdf+climate+change+psychological+effects+violence&hl=en

  23. Prokaryotes says:

    You cannot make this stop up Department …

    Tony Hayward approached to set up new global oil company – report

    Representatives from the emirate are said to have approached Hayward with an offer of several billion dollars to build a company. http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/tony-hayward-approached-to-set-up-new-global-oil-company-report/story-fn7j19iv-1226001104743

    Which turns out is also US tax payers money …

  24. Michael T. says:

    One million Sri Lankans hit by floods, 14 dead

    COLOMBO (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s monsoon rains have spread to more villages and towns, leaving at least 14 people dead and more than one million with flooded homes, according to officials.

    The number of people in state-run shelters rose to 236,000 by Saturday evening, the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) in Colombo said, adding that 1,053,000 people had had their homes inundated.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110206/wl_asia_afp/srilankafloods

  25. Prokaryotes says:

    “One million Sri Lankans hit by floods”

    Any bet how long it’ll take till we read such news involving the inhabitants of the United States?

  26. Prokaryotes says:

    STEREO Reveals the Entire Sun http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/videogallery/index.html?media_id=59678391

    Scary thought to know that the sun activity will gain considerably the next years and push earth temperature further to a tipping point.

  27. Prokaryotes says:

    In the meantime the Stupid Ray still at work ..

    Fox News “UFO Hovers Over Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock Shrine”

  28. Prokaryotes says:

    Fuels are bad, really really bad and dangerous. Note the image resembles a mini nuke.

    Ohio train fire expected to burn for up to 2 days

    Jim Breyman of the Arcadia Fire Department. He estimated about 15 cars — each carrying more than 30,000 gallons of ethanol — exploded and caught fire early Sunday morning.
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jg9j_WhKAxtfUloaFv7K0TW-EuQQ?docId=bc8a1c99d59d47ebab48aa80e2925488

  29. Prokaryotes says:

    Breaking! From the continent of doom!

    Australia: First the Floods, Then the Cyclone, Now the Fires

    Saturday and Sunday, bushfires spread rapidly across more than 2000 acres around Western Australia’s capital city of Perth damaging sections of suburbs in Roleystone, Brigadoon, Kelmscott and Ferndale. The ravenous fires come after Australia is still recuperating from several dangerous natural disasters including the category-5 Cyclone Yasi since December.
    The fires were reported to have started at approximately 9:14 P.M. on Saturday and burnt around 1,976 acres of land by 8:00 A.M. on Sunday.
    Hundreds of people were forced to flee their homes as the fires became more dangerous and unpredictable. To make matters worse, the fires were being aided by winds that were going nearly 50 miles per hour. The dry weather has also contributed to fanning the dangerous fires even more. For the firefighters, the task of containing or extinguishing the fires became impossible as the fires rapidly moved without stop.
    http://inewp.com/?p=6761

    Watch the stunning apocalyptic video which resembles hell.

  30. catman306 says:

    I fear Australia is being a real trend setter when it comes to climate change. Gaia is doing a continental make-over. It’s easy to imagine that Gaia has consciousness and would like to rid herself of the plague of homo sapiens, as quickly as possible, to limit her losses to the environment.

    If Australia can’t solve its immediate problems without imports from other continents, it suggests the question:

    What do we do when all the continents are under attack by extreme weather at the same time?

  31. Paulm says:

    Outback storms leave an inland sea 
    Nearly all outback roads are closed across South Australia because of the widespread drenching in recent days.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/02/07/3131891.htm?section=justin

    This  is it. You get the feelling that we no longer considering tipping points. We are now experiencing The Tipping Point. 

    This is looking like we are now progressing to a new climate state. Of course the problem is we cant tell till we are in it for a few years.  

    Arctic canary looking sicker than ever
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/richardblack/2011/01/if_the_arctic_is_really.html
    “It may be that with a warmer Arctic, old rules regarding links between the atmospheric pressure patterns and sea ice extent no longer hold.”

    “Already, a fair proportion – I won’t claim to know the exact figure, but I’d estimate it’s over 90% – of Arctic researchers believe that for the region as a whole, the canary is already toppling off its perch.”

    If this is so, what next? No one, UN/world body, seems to have a plan on what to do now in terms of adaptation for this imminent event(if it hasn’t already happened).

    Is it gong to be a free for all for survival?

  32. Paulm says:

    Joe we need a post on how and why the events in auz indicate they are the cannery in the climate mine and that this will be a precursor for the rest of the world….. So I can then make this argument, eloquently, to my Avoiders:)

  33. Paulm says:

    Ps anyone notice how the BBC has suddenly come onboard in accurately reporting on the global warming issue. Including Richard Black! Gee, that took awhile. Just goes to show how extreme things have to get before the Avoiders start feeling the heat n seeing the light.

  34. Prokaryotes says:

    Highest Rated Comments

    Wow, Obama completely handled O’reilly for the second strait 1on1 interview in two years. No question who the larger man is.
    Monst780 1 hour ago 4

    oreily is rude I can’t last 10 seconds with people like that I give obama credit for being the better man.
    MrLinolinares 3 hours ago 4

  35. Prokaryotes says:

    Oil Prices Creep Higher http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704422204576129821986648078.html

    Top this hikes on the already record fossil subsidies, record company profits and record exploration worldwide.

    Just like the human race can’t anticipate climate change happening faster. Might be very well that Lovelock is right, when he said that humans are to stupid to prevent climate change.

    Where is the accountability? Where is the switch to technolgies we just need to roll out at large? Where is the large scale action to counter the threat from dangerous climate change?

    How long till the endless recklessness of CEO’s like Mr Rex Tillerson or the not so fabulous Koch Brothers who fund the denial machine and fuel the attack on the science of climate change. Which turned out to actually slow the progress and instead accelerates the emissions – carbon foot prints. Make them pay, hold them accountable, put these morons on trial for commited crimes against humanity. Which in fact resembles the greatest national security threat in every nations history.

    Act now, because soon it will be to late to prevent mass axtinction and bioversity loose throughout the planet!

  36. Prokaryotes says:

    Einstein was right – honey bee collapse threatens global food security
    The bee crisis has been treated as a niche concern until now, but as the UN’s index of food prices hits an all time-high, it is becoming urgent to know whether the plight of the honey bee risks further exhausting our food security.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/8306970/Einstein-was-right-honey-bee-collapse-threatens-global-food-security.html

  37. Prokaryotes says:

    Electric Car Tax Credit Abused By Thousands, Including Hummer Owners and Prisoners
    http://www.walletpop.com/2011/02/07/electric-car-tax-credit-abused-by-thousands-including-hummer-ow/

    How lame is that …

  38. Prokaryotes says:

    Breaking!

    A new supercapacitor for electric vehicles

    Rather than operate as a main battery, supercapacitors are more commonly used as memory backup to bridge short power interruptions. Another application is improving the current handling of a battery. The supercapacitor is placed in parallel to the battery terminal and provides current boost on high load demands. The supercapacitor should also find a ready market for portable fuel cells to enhance peak-load performance. Because of their ability to rapidly charge, large supercapacitors are used for regenerative braking on vehicles.

    The supercapacitor can be recharged and discharged virtually an unlimited number of times. Unlike the electrochemical battery, there is very little wear and tear induced by cycling and age does not affect the supercapacitor much.

    Prof. Mastragostino has been a key researcher in the development of the materials and cells needed for the production of the supercapacitor for the ILHYPOS project. This included the choice of carbon material used and a more environmentally friendly product in the form of the ionic liquid. Ionic liquid, a saline liquid at room-temperature, with an elevated ionic conductivity, allowing ions to pass in various electro-chemical systems in a supercapacitors and also in lithium batteries as well as in fuel cells.

    The ionic liquid is a non-toxic substance, stable in all conditions and hence not affecting the environment. This makes it a completely “green” product, being environmentally friendly at every stage of its use, from the time that it is put in the supercapacitor to the moment it is recycled.
    http://cordis.europa.eu/wire/index.cfm?fuseaction=article.Detail&rcn=25587&rev=0

  39. Prokaryotes says:

    Sometimes there are coming good news from Israel … especially acknowledging that Israel will be hit hard from climate disruption. As it is already happening …

    Israel sets global electric vehicle (EV) charging standard
    http://www.port2port.com/Index.asp?CategoryID=49&ArticleID=2751

  40. Prokaryotes says:

    Electric-Car Advocate: ‘The Big Message Is That We Won’

    Felix Kramer is a communications expert and serial entrepreneur, best known for his work as founder of the California Cars Initiative, a nonprofit he organized in 2002 to build awareness and encourage mass production of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
    One of the main ideas behind our work was that cars are this big product, the second most expensive thing that people buy, but drivers and consumers have no say in what cars are built. It’s government and industry, a little bit from universities, but it’s basically a closed loop. Our idea was, let’s organize future buyers of cars to say, “This is what we want. Build it for us.”
    I started out thinking about a fuel cell car, but I realized not long after our founding meeting that that was 10 years or maybe decades away. I heard about this other technology that was invented at UC Davis by Prof. Andy Frank. I saw it at at the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto right after the founding meeting of CalCars.
    I realized then that we could have a product using today’s technology. At that time everybody thought the plug-in hybrid was just a science project that was never going to leave the lab. They thought nobody would want to plug in.
    But we thought, “Let’s show what’s possible.” We spent two years working to get support to convert a regular car into a plug-in hybrid, and didn’t get too far on that. But when the second-generation Prius came out, we realized this could be the vehicle, literally the platform for a conversion. And we decided to do it.
    We didn’t ask permission of anybody. We did tell Toyota, “Watch what we’re doing here. We’re going to try something.” We did it as an open-source project, with global collaboration.
    I partnered with Ron Gremban, an engineer who had been doing electric vehicles back in the late ’60s when he was at the California Institute of Technology. He’d helped design one of the two vehicles in the CalTech-MIT cross-country electric-car race in 1968. He became my partner, and we organized a group of people in his Corde Madera, Calif., garage to do the conversion in the fall of 2004.
    We presented it to the world in spring of 2005. And that changed everything, because people realized that plug-in cars were possible now. http://solarhbj.com/news/electric-car-advocate-big-message-of-campaign-is-we-won-01351

    Felix is a frequent contributor to CP and it is nice to read progress from cali.

  41. Prokaryotes says:

    Better Place CEO in Davos: In 2020 There’ll Be More Electric Cars Than Gas
    http://www.greenprophet.com/2011/02/better-place-agassi-davos/

    Better late then never! Go, go, go!

  42. Prokaryotes says:

    Volt arrives for rental market
    http://www.sbsun.com/business/ci_17305900

    Report: GM plans to produce a cheaper Volt
    http://www.egmcartech.com/2011/02/05/report-gm-plans-to-produce-a-cheaper-volt/

    There is a lot of progress in the automaker scene about electric cars – worldwide. Looks like the race to be the next gen automaker picking up pace.

  43. Prokaryotes says:

    Growing an American Electric Car Industry, a Tale of Two Companies

    Not long after the auto bailouts, the financial crash and the election of President Obama, General Motors Co. had a choice to make.

    It had designed an electric car, the Chevrolet Volt, to prove it could build something besides gas guzzlers. To make this car even close to affordable, it would need a battery unlike any that had been made before.

    This battery would have to overcome its own bulk to power the Volt for 40 miles. It would have to repeat this for something like the life of a regular car. It had to be flawlessly safe: One explosion, and the electric car renaissance could be over.

    Somehow, given all these qualities, it had to put the Volt somewhere near the price of a gasoline car today.

    To discover that battery, GM had been working with two companies, one Korean and one American. And the time had come to choose.

    So it did: In January 2009, GM chose LG Chem, a division of Korea-based LG Corp., to supply cells for the first model of the Volt, launching in late 2010.

    The runner-up was A123 Systems Inc. of Watertown, Mass., a racing startup with a world-leading technology and now, a fresh defeat.

    The move to get the United States into making cutting-edge batteries to power the electric car isn’t over. But the starting gun has fired.

    http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2011/02/02/02climatewire-growing-an-american-electric-car-industry-a-t-5879.html

  44. Prokaryotes says:

    German cars lost pole position when it comes to the next gen car – the electric car. Mercedes and BMW failed.

    German Study, google translated

    http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.handelsblatt.com%2Funternehmen%2Findustrie%2Fantrieb-der-zukunft-asiens-elektroautos-haengen-bmw-und-mercedes-ab%3B2748084&sl=de&tl=en&hl=&ie=UTF-8

  45. Prokaryotes says:

    BREAKING, The Future is NOW!

    Mitsuhoka Himiko electric car has 550km range

    Fancy an electric vehicle that has a range which surpasses that of most petrol-based vehicles? Well, what was once the stuff of dreams is now a reality with TGMY turning the Mitsuhoka Himiko Mazda roadster into an electric vehicle that has a 550km range on a single charge. http://www.ubergizmo.com/2011/02/mitsuhoka-himiko-electric-car-has-550km-range/

  46. Prokaryotes says:

    Polar bear’s epic swim seen as harbinger of the Arctic’s future
    SLOPE: With no ice to crawl onto, female swam 426 miles, lost cub.

    She swam. And swam. And swam.

    She covered 426 miles — farther than researchers have recorded a polar bear swimming without a break. After nine days, she reached pack ice and walked or swam another 1,118 miles, eventually looping south back to Alaska soil a few miles from the Canada border.

    Researchers recaptured her after two months and learned her journey had come at an extraordinary cost. Her body mass was reduced 22 percent and her internal temperature had dropped. Her yearling cub was gone, likely drowned.

    A paper on the bear, published last month in the journal Polar Biology by U.S. Geological Survey and University of Wyoming researchers, concludes that polar bears can respond to a changing Arctic, said USGS research zoologist George Durner, but that there are limits to that ability as sea ice diminishes.

    “If we continue to see declines in the extent of Arctic sea ice, it’s hard to imagine that a bear would be capable of swimming much farther than that,” Durner said. “I’m not saying that’s the limit, but it just boggles my mind.”

    Diminished Arctic sea ice is at the heart of the debate on whether ice-dependent marine mammals should be listed as endangered species, with all the ramifications that accompany that decision, including debate on drilling for offshore Arctic oil.

    Read more: http://www.adn.com/2011/02/06/1687857/polar-bears-epic-swim-seen-as.html

  47. Prokaryotes says:

    New mid-Pliocene ocean analysis predicts climate change

    The U.S. Geological Survey in collaboration with scientists from the University of Leeds, University of Bristol and the British Geological Survey published a new analysis of the cause of the mid-Pliocene warm period and the relationship those events have to present and future global warming in the journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology on February 4, 2011.
    The researchers chose the mid-Pliocene warm period because it is the only other known period of time that ocean and world temperatures reached the levels they are today and remained at those levels for a significant period of time.
    The scientists found that one major cause of mid-Pliocene warm period was a lower height of the Greenland-Scotland Ridge. The lower elevation of the Greenland-Scotland Ridge allowed warmer water to reach the surface of the ocean and the increase of poleward heat transport. This increased flow of warm water resulted in the melting of polar ice in the mid-Pliocene warm period just like it is today.
    This is the first time a well known and well-defined paleontological event has been linked to a geological event that was a cause of long term climatic change affecting the entire world climate.

    Continue reading on Examiner.com: New mid-Pliocene ocean analysis predicts climate change – National Paelenotology Science News | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/paelenotology-science-news-in-national/new-mid-pliocene-ocean-analysis-predicts-climate-change