"June 1 news: Obama names new Commerce Dept. head; Canada obscures reality of tar sands GHG emissions"
President Obama said yesterday he will nominate a California utility executive, John Bryson, to head the Commerce Department.
If confirmed by the Senate, Bryson would replace Gary Locke, Obama’s pick to become the next U.S. ambassador to China.
Trained as a lawyer, Bryson helped co-found the Natural Resources Defense Council in 1970 and headed California state commissions governing utilities and water during Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) first administration. Bryson retired as chairman and CEO of Edison International, the parent company of electric utility Southern California Edison, in 2008 after 18 years.
Calling him “a fierce proponent of alternative energy,” Obama said that experience would serve Bryson well in the Commerce post. Although the department’s duties include promoting economic growth and issuing patents, the bulk of its budget goes to an agency focused on the environment — the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Greenhouse gas emissions from the tar sands are on the rise, but try finding that in Canada’s official report to the UN.
Barely a day goes by it seems when someone from Stephen Harper‘s government is not touting the benefits of the Alberta tar sands.
But when it came to counting up the carbon emissions produced by the tar sands – big and growing bigger – a strange amnesia seems to have taken hold.
The Canadian government admitted this week that it deliberately left out data indicating a 20% rise in emissions from the Alberta tar sands when it submitted its annual inventory to the United Nations.
A Houston company is in the early stages of planning one of the largest energy infrastructure projects the Midwest has seen in years – a $1.7 billion high-voltage transmission line connecting Kansas wind farms with consumers in St. Louis and throughout the Ohio River Valley.
The so-called Grain Belt Express transmission line, named to evoke images of train hopper cars rolling across the Plains, would stretch 550 miles from southwestern Kansas to southeastern Missouri. It would be capable of moving 3,500 megawatts of electricity – roughly enough to power 3.5 million homes – to eastern Missouri, Southern Illinois and beyond.
The project is being driven by renewable energy demand, more specifically state mandates that have been approved by voters and legislatures including Missouri and Illinois. The goal in each case is to replace coal-fired power with cleaner energy.
To battle the urban heat island effect, city officials in Phoenix have approved the installation of a 90,000-square-foot temporary parking lot made from “cool pavement” in the city’s downtown area.
The asphalt in the parking lot, which is located between First, Second, Taylor and Polk streets, is treated with a permanent solar reflective coating made by Emerald Cities.
The “Celadon Green” coating promises to reduce the surface temperature of asphalt by at least 30 degrees Fahrenheit on hot days — a phenomenon a desert city like Phoenix sees most of the year.
A Senate committee has approved a Slidell lawmaker’s proposal that would effectively ban the use of dispersants in responding to oil spills in Louisiana waters, which extend three miles into the Gulf of Mexico.
Republican A.G. Crowe said Tuesday he proposed the ban because the federal government hasn’t responded to his requests to switch the oil spill strategy to a less-toxic alternative.
“Why these technologies were not used but yet, in place of that, highly toxic chemicals were used is beyond me,” said Crowe.
Wealthy donors spent about a half billion dollars helping green groups try to pass climate legislation and prep the guts of a new international global warming treaty.
With both efforts in tatters, donors behind the green curtain are trying to figure out what’s next as well as asking whether the money could have been better spent on other issues that were shoved to the sidelines over the past two years.
Donors are also hurling tough questions at their friends in the Obama administration about the White House’s failed climate push despite the foundations giving unprecedented amounts of money to the cause as their stock portfolios plummeted during the recession.
“There’s some serious soul searching going on,” said Betsy Taylor, a philanthropic adviser to several climate donors and foundations.
A mining company has halted drilling for shale gas in England after scientists said two small earthquakes might be linked to the controversial process, known as “fracking.”
The decision by Cuadrilla Resources Ltd. heightened European environmentalists’ concerns about a process that has been promoted as an untapped source of energy, but criticized by opponents as dirty and disruptive.
The British Geological Survey recorded a 1.5 magnitude quake Friday near Blackpool in northwest England, within 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) of the gas well. A 2.3 magnitude quake was recorded nearby in April.