August 6 News: Obama to Unveil New Truck Efficiency Standards; EPA Air Pollution Rule Will Shut Down Some Coal Plants

A round-up of climate and energy news. Please post other stories below.

Obama to unveil truck efficiency standards next week

President Obama will travel to Virginia next week to announce new fuel-economy standards for heavy-duty trucks.

The White House said Thursday that Obama will make the announcement next Tuesday at Interstate Moving Services in Springfield, Va.

“The new standards will provide American businesses, who operate and own these commercial vehicles, tens of billions of dollars in fuel savings, and will dramatically reduce oil consumption and cut pollution,” the White House said in a statement.

Obama last week unveiled tighter fuel-economy standards for model year 2017-2025 cars and light-duty trucks. The plan sets a fleet-wide average standard of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

The president touted the new standards, which were negotiated in conjunction with the country’s major automakers, as “the single most important step we’ve ever taken as a nation to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

EPA Cross-State Air Pollution Rule will force some dirty coal plants to shut down

Utility companies across the U.S. will shut down and retire aging coal-fired power plants following the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAP). This rule is intended to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide at coal-fired power plants and makes it incredibly costly for utility companies to modernize aging facilities to meet the stringent emissions standards.

The EPA is currently working on other proposed guidelines that will likely force the closure of numerous coal plants in the near future. These standards include limiting mercury pollution, reducing carbon dioxide emissions and regulating coal ash, a toxic by-product of coal-fired power plants. The EPA estimates the CSAP rule alone will save the lives of 34,000 people across the nation each year.

EPA administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement that regulations are essential:

No community should have to bear the burden of another community’s polluters, or be powerless to prevent air pollution that leads to asthma, heart attacks and other harmful illnesses. These Clean Air Act safeguards will help protect the health of millions of Americans and save lives by preventing smog and soot pollution from traveling hundreds of miles and contaminating the air they breathe.

Los Angeles solar power rebates slashed 32%

Rebates for Los Angeles solar panel installations are 32% lower under the newly relaunched Solar Initiative Program, which will start accepting applications next month. The program was put on hold in April as the demand for incentives hovered around $112 million, far outpacing the program’s $30-million budget. During the hiatus, the Department of Water and Power was able to catch up with a backlog of applications and identify alternative financing options.

A mixture of bond financing and lower incentives will allow the DWP to double the budget to $60 million. The department’s general manager, Ronald O. Nichols, said the lower rebates, which previously covered as much as 45% of the costs for residential buildings are “more in line with market pricing and allow greater participation.”

DWP ratepayers, who pay for the incentive program and feed-in tariff, will see their monthly bill go up by $4.59 by 2016. The feed-in tariff allows business owners and eventually homeowners to connect to the electricity grid and sell their unused electricity back to the utility at a fixed rate for 20 years, about $0.19 per watt

“We also want to grow solar at a steady and sustainable pace while being prudent about the cost to all customers who pay for this program through their rates,” Nichols said in a news release.

DOE to Award Over $6 Million for Clean Energy Projects on Tribal Lands

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced 31 tribal energy projects to receive $6.3 million over two years as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s ongoing efforts to support tribal energy development and continue strengthening the partnership with Tribal Nations. These competitively selected projects will allow Native American Tribes to advance clean energy within their communities by developing strategic energy plans, expanding the skills and knowledge of tribal members, and improving the energy efficiency of their buildings. These investments will help tribal communities to save money and reduce energy waste, expand the use of clean energy technologies, and promote economic development.

The more than $6 million in DOE funding will go toward 31 projects selected for negotiation of award in three project areas including over $2.1 million for energy efficiency feasibility studies, over $2.1 million for first-steps projects, and over $2 million for energy efficiency installation projects on tribal lands. DOE announced the availability of funding for these tribal energy projects in January. Another group of projects to receive funding for development and deployment of tribal renewable energy projects will be announced later this summer.

Shell Gets Tentative Approval to Drill in Arctic

The Department of the Interior on Thursday granted Royal Dutch Shell conditional approval of its plan to begin drilling exploratory wells in the Arctic Ocean next summer, a strong sign that the Obama administration is easing a regulatory clampdown on offshore oil drilling that it imposed after last year’s deadly accident in the Gulf of Mexico.

The move confirms a willingness by President Obama to approve expanded domestic oil and gas exploration in response to high gasoline prices and continuing high levels of unemployment. It comes as the issuing of drilling permits in the gulf is quickening, including the granting on Thursday of a permit for a Shell floating drill rig for a 4,000-foot-deep well. That means that that all five of its rigs there will be back to work after a long drilling halt.

The decision to tentatively approve Shell’s plan to drill four exploratory wells in the Beaufort Sea off the North Slope of Alaska represents a major step in the company’s efforts to exploit the vast oil and gas resources under the Arctic Ocean, although some hurdles remain.

Remarks highlight Pawlenty’s climate shift

Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s position on climate change has now shifted from “one of the most important issues of our time” to questioning whether humans have had any effect on climate change at all.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Miami Herald, Pawlenty said that “the weight of the evidence is that most of it, maybe all of it, is because of natural causes. But to the extent there is some element of human behavior causing some of it — that’s what the scientific debate is about.”

It wasn’t too long ago that Pawlenty took a much more muscular approach to climate change. Shortly into his second term as governor, the Minnesota Republican made a big push for clean energy.

US wind energy on the up, but still lacks long-term stability

U.S. wind energy continued to rebound in the second quarter, with 2,151 megawatts (MW) of electrical generating capacity installed in the first half of 2011, versus 1,250 MW during the same time in 2010, up 72 percent.

However, analysts at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) cautioned that without stable policy such as an extension of the Production Tax Credit, set to expire in 2012, the industry’s recovery will stall.

Project activity and orders for 2013 and beyond are scant because of the lack of a predictable business environment, causing layoffs and even bankruptcies in American manufacturing plants and the supply chain, said AWEA.

These struggles for U.S. wind manufacturers will only worsen if Congress were to allow the tax credit to expire.


Below are old comments from the earlier Facebook commenting system:

  • Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Let’s start praying!

Large crowd turning out for Perry prayer rally.

Thousands of worshipers converged on Houston’s Reliant Stadium on Saturday for Gov. Rick Perry’s day of prayer and fasting, filling the cavernous sports venue with an uplifting revival-like atmosphere and calls for miraculous intervention from God to help heal the nation’s critical problems.
…See More

3 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 6 at 1:15pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

These pople will not give up their fossil fuels. Its pray or bust…

1 · Like · Reply · August 6 at 1:27pm

Leif Erik Knutsen · Top Commenter · Friends with Joseph Romm

Is the fasting a new wrinkle? When do they start sacrificing virgins? Perhaps politicians might work. That is worth a try.

1 · Like · Reply · August 6 at 3:46pm

  • catman306 (signed in using Yahoo)

God always answers Rick Perry’s and everyone else’s prayers. But sometimes he says NO!

Like · Reply · August 7 at 6:21am

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

South-Central U.S. continues to bake.
The extreme heat continues again today after 269 high maximum and 250 high minimum temperature records were set yesterday, 19 and 29 of which were all-time records, respectively. 206 of yesterday’s records were 110°F or higher. Yesterday, Reuters was reporting that Texas was one power plant shutdown away from rolling blackouts. The forecast today doesn’t look any better. Heat index values up to 125° are forecast in eastern Texas and the Lower Mississippi Valley.
Particularly toasty heat index values from yesterday:

• Mobile, Alabama: 120°.
…See More

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 6 at 4:13pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

No relief in sight for Texas heat and drought.

Drought now affects over a million square miles of the lower 48 states, or 32 percent, according to the Weather Channel. The most extreme cases of “exceptional” drought stretch from Arizona to Louisiana and parts of Georgia, covering almost 11 percent of the lower 48 states.

The resulting lack of ground moisture prevents clouds from developing in the low level atmosphere, making daytime showers near impossible.
…See More

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 6 at 1:08pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Volcanic vs. Anthropogenic CO2

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 6 at 5:20pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Shell Gets Tentative Approval to Drill in Arctic.
The Department of the Interior on Thursday granted Royal Dutch Shell conditional approval of its plan to begin drilling exploratory wells in the Arctic Ocean next summer.

Stunning… so at the same time in the event of an “leak”, there is virtually nothing which can change anything.

The world needs a ban on arctic exploration, like they did with antarctica. I predict that the arctic energy will be not valuable, instead only leads to more contamination and possible faster clathrate destabilization.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 6 at 1:22pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Industrial Nanoparticles Create Symptoms of Heart Disease.

MUNICH, Germany, August 2, 2011 (ENS) – Exposure to nanoparticles about one-thousandth the width of a human hair produces changes in heart rate and rhythm typical of heart disease, according to new research from a team of German scientists.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 6 at 5:12pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

Any one notice this extreme event happening down south last month…

Thousands stranded in Bolivia after unusually heavy snow.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 7 at 12:26am

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

2/3 of Bolivia was affected by unrelenting torential rain in Febuary. Thousands are still with out homes and have nothing…. but debt….
The world is in crisis…

Like · Reply · August 7 at 12:33am

Bill Walker · Top Commenter · San Marcos, California

Re Pawlenty’s “weight of the evidence”, apparently BS has a much higher density than facts. Of course, it currently has a much greater volume, as well, so maybe that’s where the weight comes from.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 6 at 10:53am

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

So frustrating that the media don’t drill down on these blatantly wrong facts…. Like where did he get that from…

Like · Reply · August 6 at 3:08pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

Alberta arrives on planet Eaarth…

Extreme weather events costing Alberta millions.
After announcing another $189 million in relief for Slave Lake this week, the Alberta government seems to be in danger of becoming a de facto insurance company cleaning up after disasters.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 6 at 1:40pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

We’ll certainly be seeing more disasters followed by more provincial government payouts if scientific predictions prove accurate about extreme weather events.

Like · Reply · August 6 at 1:41pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

Forest fires, floods and Mother Nature’s chainsaw, the mountain pine beetle, cost the government roughly $450 million a year. That’s not including the $290 million in total allocated to the Slave Lake fire. It doesn’t include the $700 million the insurance industry itself will spend rebuilding Slave Lake.

Like · Reply · August 6 at 1:41pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

This is a small town in the middle of now where in Canada….

“…scientists who study forests and the climate…. call the Slave Lake fire a billion-dollar wakeup call.”

Like · Reply · August 6 at 1:44pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

Green solution just can get a break…

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 6 at 6:26pm

Joseph Romm · Top Commenter · Center for American Progress

Thanks. Will repost.

Like · Reply · August 6 at 9:40pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

Like · Reply · August 7 at 3:10pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

Thai Hospitals warned to brace for runoff from the North.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 7 at 12:38am

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

76,200 residents in 536 villages and nine districts had been hit by floods with two people killed, while 180,984 rai of farmland,

Like · Reply · August 7 at 12:39am

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

The future of nuclear….

River temperature forces plant to 50 percent power.
Not even TVA can beat the heat. On Wednesday, the utility had to bring a third reactor at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant down to 50 percent power to avoid environmental sanctions.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 6 at 1:27pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

So anyone know what the ball park figure is for the carbon footprint in switching our fossil fuel infrastructure to a sustainable one?

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 6 at 1:37pm

Leif Erik Knutsen · Top Commenter · Friends with Joseph Romm

Cheep at any price.

Like · Reply · August 6 at 3:41pm

David Piper · University of Oregon

Its going to happen one way or the other. The only question is how many species, human lives, and square miles habitable land will be lost in the process.

Like · Reply · August 6 at 4:59pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

I think it will be easier to size the areas which remain habitable and i have already my own theory about it. I doubt it will be at the pole.

Like · Reply · August 6 at 5:15pm

David Piper · University of Oregon

Islands. Hopefully the Pacific NW. If the Pacific NW doesn’t, nowhere in the lower 48 will. Scary as hell when you have little kids like me. Hope they can get by on substinence farming. I weep everyday for them and the world I have brought them into.

Like · Reply · August 6 at 5:39pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

What I would like to see and clarify is can we switch and keep our goal of 450ppm? How close would we come to this artificially level?

Like · Reply · August 6 at 6:08pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

If you google James Lovelock vanishing Gaia you come to a lecture from 2009 … here

And he talks about abrupt changes and models.

I think based on past abrupt changes it might be possible to predict when we might hit a abrupt state, depending on the observations and curve trends.

Like · Reply · August 6 at 10:35pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

The tricky part is we cannot predict exactly the nonlinearity of the arctic ice albedo feedbacks … and resulting chain reactions in the pedosphere.

Like · Reply · August 6 at 10:37pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Notice how weird, it cooled and then abruptly entered a new state of climax.

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