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August 10 News: Insurance Lawyers Want to Prove Climate Change Damage; House Prepares for Fight Over Grand Ganyon Uranium Mining

By Energy Interns on August 10, 2011 at 10:29 am

"August 10 News: Insurance Lawyers Want to Prove Climate Change Damage; House Prepares for Fight Over Grand Ganyon Uranium Mining"

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Lawyers Make Insurance Claim in Bid to Prove Damages From Climate Change

In the face of courts hostile to the idea of awarding damages against major greenhouse gas emitters over the impacts of climate change, creative plaintiffs lawyers are placing their faith in the driest of subjects: insurance.

Courts — including the Supreme Court — have been reluctant to recognize common law public nuisance claims against utilities and oil companies due to the difficulty of attributing blame among thousands of emitters and the sense that it is a global issue that should be tackled at the international level.

But some plaintiffs lawyers think they can prove a concrete injury by showing that their clients’ insurance rates have increased as a direct result of climate change.

That is exactly what attorneys representing clients in Mississippi affected by Hurricane Katrina, who recently refiled a high-profile suit against various greenhouse gas emitters, are trying to do.

The complaint (pdf) in Comer v. Murphy Oil USA Inc. alleges that “as a result of defendants’ activities, plaintiffs’ insurance premiums for their coastal Mississippi property have risen dramatically.”

Fight Over Mining Near Grand Canyon, Other Riders Will Return After Recess

Several lawmakers involved in the congressional debate over uranium mining around the Grand Canyon expect the war of words to reignite as soon as the House returns from summer recess.

Even though it remains an open question whether lawmakers will finish work on the Interior and U.S. EPA spending bill, they expect the legislation to at least come back to the floor after Labor Day.

“When we go back that first week after Labor Day, the only thing available on the floor is Interior appropriations,” Rep. Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.) said in an interview. “That’s one reason why I think it’s going to continue.”

Another reason, he said, is because the GOP majority has been boasting about its ability to get spending bills done, in sharp contrast with the Senate.

“I think it’s going to come back,” Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said in another interview. “They’ve got too much invested in these ideological riders that they have.”

One of those riders, inserted by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), aims to stop the Obama administration from withdrawing about 1 million acres around the Grand Canyon from new mining claims. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced in June a second temporary withdrawal and his intention to move forward with a 20-year ban, pending the completion of a final environmental impact statement.

Monsanto plans farm trials for drought-tolerant corn

Monsanto Co. will begin farm trials of its drought-tolerant corn seed next spring, marking the global seed giant’s first roll-out of seeds genetically engineered for harsh environmental conditions.

The introduction comes as drought and searing heat this summer have withered crops across the U.S. South.

The new biotech corn seed still needs water to grow healthy plants, but is designed to use moisture more efficiently, said Monsanto global corn technology lead Dusty Post.

“We’re not talking about being able to grow corn in a desert,” said Post. “We’re not going to make them whole. But every bushel counts.”

Monsanto is working to sign up about 250 U.S. farmers in the western corn belt – Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota, Colorado and Texas – for planting next spring.

Gas tax issue could be the next political fight

After watching a two-week shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration, transportation advocates and congressional staffers are concerned that the federal gas tax could become the next confrontational issue that Democrats and Republicans push to the brink.

The Senate and House are in the process of considering a long-term highway bill. Passing a short-term extension while they work out the details of a longer measure would normally be considered routine, but so was a short-term extension of FAA funding.

That all changed July 23, when 4,000 FAA workers were furloughed for nearly two weeks as the House and Senate could not agree on a bill to extend the agency’s funding through Congress’s traditional August recess.

The recent fracas over raising the debt ceiling also underscored the degree of partisan gridlock and brinksmanship in Washington.

With the chambers far apart on their proposals for a long-term highway bill, and transportation advocates in Washington still reeling from the FAA fight, at least one Democratic aide in the Senate expressed concern that congressional Republicans would attempt to use the gas tax as leverage in the fight over the competing transportation proposals.

U.S. Launches Nationwide Environmental Monitoring Network

Ready or not, the era of big data is coming to ecology. After years of discussion and debate, the United States is moving forward with an environmental moni­toring network that promises to help transform a traditionally small-scale, local science into a continental-scale group enterprise.

The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) will consist of 20 ‘core’ observatories representing distinct eco-regions throughout the United States (see map). These will be bolstered by temporary stations that can be relocated wherever data need to be collected. The sites will house equipment and host visiting researchers, while gathering a range of environmental data over at least three decades.

The result will be a vast database that scientists can mine to tackle broad questions such as how global warming, pollution and land-use change are affecting ecosystems across the country. “NEON is really about trying to understand the biology of the entire continent rather than the biology of a specific place,” says David Schimel, the project’s chief science officer, based in Boulder, Colorado.

Conceived more than a decade ago, NEON has already spent just over US$80 million planning the network and developing instruments, and has a staff of about 140, including some 60 scientists and engineers. But the project, which is run by an independent body–NEON, Inc.–didn’t clear its final hurdle until 28 July, when the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded it $434 million over the next decade, with $12.5 million to be spent in the current fiscal year.

The money could jump-start site preparation and construction as early as this year. Schimel says that NEON expects to begin work near its home base in Colorado and in the northeast and to expand from there. The first data, from sensors placed on towers, submerged in streams and buried in soils, should come next year–a trickle that project members hope will become a torrent by 2016, when the project will be fully operational.

Cost to Run a Mitsubishi i-MiEV Electric Vehicle: $233 a Year; $0.82 a Gallon

The cost of running an electric vehicle, specifically a Mitsubishi i-MiEV, amounts to NZ$280 (US$233) a year, the equivalent of paying NZ$0.26 a liter (US$0.82 a gallon), according to the southern Pacific island nation’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).

High efficiency and low running costs are the key factors behind electric vehicles’ (EV) extremely low running costs, according to the EECA, which determined the cost of running the Mitsubishi i-MiEV as part of introducing a consumer label August 8. EECA labels have appeared on petrol and diesel vehicles since 2008, giving consumers the benefit of “independent, comparative information on the efficiency and running costs of vehicles,” according to the EECA.

“The label makes it easy for people to see just how much lower the annual running costs of an electric vehicle are,” said Acting Energy and Resources Minister Hekia Parata upon introducing the label.

Automated Battery Cars Replace Buses at Heathrow Airport

ULTra PRT (urban light transport – personal rapid transport) vehicles have started operating at London’s Heathrow Airport. BAA, the operationg company for Heathrow Airport, needed to provide a means of travel from the new terminal 5 to remote parking. Comparing several options, ULTra PRT provided a solution that was “… a 60% improvement in travel time and 40% operating cost savings.”

The PRT concept has been around for a few decades. Heathrow is the first full-scale implementation of the concept. By installing a PRT, lower value land use like parking lots can be located further from the terminal. This less costly solution to public transit also has the advantages of personal transit. The personal air-conditioned vehicles do not have to stop for other passengers. They run at about 25 mph on a dedicated track with off-road stops, avoiding all forms of traffic control and congestion. (No stopping behind non-moving vehicles.) The “podcars” are in constant communication with a control center but operate autonomously using laser sensors. There is also a failsafe to keep vehicles from hitting one another.

The technology for some individual components is not cutting edge, but the system shows what can be done even with available equipment. The vehicles use a 4 x 45Ah, 48-volt lead acid battery pack that is recharged between stops and recycled when they are no longer usable. The front wheel drive motor typically draws about 2KW. The cars are relatively light and run on 13″ wheeled, tubeless tires. The body is of ABS plastic and steel with acrylic glazing.

 

Below are old comments from the earlier Facebook commenting system:

Here in Connecticut- we have lots of Insurers, who take climate change seriously. Last winters epic snow and ice brought record damage, with roof cave ins and water damage to homes and businesses. Millions of dollars in payouts.

Most insurance companies now have gotten out of insuring condos south of I 95 along the shoreline. For single family homes along the shoreline they have jacked up rates.

I am sure the CEO’s of Insurance companies are not listening to Rush Limbaugh, Steve Doocy or Roy Spencer.

I am sure the CEO’s of these companies are not listening to Rush.

5 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 11:34am

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

VETERAN, Wyo. — The National Weather Service in Cheyenne says baseball-sized hail smashed windows in the remote Goshen (GO’-shun) Hole in southeast Wyoming.
http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/5a818f40d90c4977a168b01f453c803f/WY–Wyoming-Hail/

Baseball-size hail fell from near Wallace to northern Hayes County around 3:30 p.m. Funnel clouds were spotted, residents said.
Hail also broke windows in Sutherland. In McCook, windshields were cracked on dozens of cars in the Wal-Mart parking lot, according to a McCook resident who did not leave their name.
The worst weather remained south of North Platte.
http://www.northplattebulletin.com/index.asp?show=news&action=readStory&storyID=21287&pageID=3

2 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 3:00pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

VETERAN, Wyo. — The National Weather Service in Cheyenne says baseball-sized hail smashed windows in the remote Goshen (GO’-shun) Hole in southeast Wyoming.
http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/5a818f40d90c4977a168b01f453c803f/WY–Wyoming-Hail/

Baseball-size hail fell from near Wallace to northern Hayes County around 3:30 p.m. Funnel clouds were spotted, residents said.
Hail also broke windows in Sutherland. In McCook, windshields were cracked on dozens of cars in the Wal-Mart parking lot, according to a McCook resident who did not leave their name.
The worst weather remained south of North Platte.
http://www.northplattebulletin.com/index.asp?show=news&action=readStory&storyID=21287&pageID=3

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 3:00pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

Trend of record warm mornings continues.
But since June 1, the high temperature has averaged 1.7 degrees cooler than the summer of 1980, while the low has measured 2.4 degrees warmer than in ’80. The average 2011 high of 100.6 compares with 102.3 in 1980. The average 2011 low of 79.2 compares with 76.8 in 1980.
There have been three occasions in 2011 when thehighest low temperature of 86 degrees has beaten the previous all-time record of 85 that stood since Sept. 1, 1939.

Read more: http://www.star-telegram.com/2011/08/10/3281310/trend-of-record-warm-mornings.html#ixzz1UeaWQBds.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 2:53pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Evidence is in, Monckton the Pathological Liar http://climateforce.net/2011/08/11/evidence-is-in-monckton-the-pathological-liar/#respond.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 11 at 12:03am

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Alex Jones calls Green activist Nazis, just like the Koch Brothers campaigners http://climateforce.net/2011/08/10/alex-jones-calls-green-activist-nazis-just-like-the-koch-brothers-campaigners/.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 11:27am

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

It’s time for a slanting match…for they are the true nazis and should be label so.

Like · Reply · August 10 at 3:05pm

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

Related
“As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1 (100%).”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law

Like · Reply · August 10 at 7:02pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

New GOP Strategy Involves Reelecting Obama, Making His Life Even More Miserable http://www.theonion.com/articles/new-gop-strategy-involves-reelecting-obama-making,21113/.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 6:05pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Monckton: Bringin’ the Crazy to Kiwi Land http://climatecrocks.com/2011/08/09/monckton-bringin-the-crazy-to-new-zealand/comment-page-1/#comment-2592.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 11:27am

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Heat Waves Spotlight Nuclear Achilles Heel http://climatecrocks.com/2011/08/09/heat-waves-spotlight-nuclear-achilles-heel/.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 11:31am

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Oh great my post again is censored…

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 11:24am

Joan Savage · Top Commenter · SUNY-ESF

I wonder if there is a FB program that limits total number of posts per time interval. I see five posts from you within 9 minutes of each other, so that does not look like censorship by topic.

Like · Reply · August 10 at 12:29pm

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

Nope, i don’t think so. I posted 6 times only 5 are displayed.

Like · Reply · August 10 at 12:49pm

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

The entire facebook comment system makes the impression to me that there are really lame noobs coordinating it. It starts with the lack of announcements, lack of customization, lack of readability, usability and then you have a censor system which seems to censor randomly…

1 · Like · Reply · August 10 at 12:51pm

View 4 more

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/jimmy-kimmel-unveils-trailer-for-al-gores-expletive-laced-sequel-to-an-inconvenient-truth/

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 9:55pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/aug/10/german-nuclear-shutdown-forces-eon-to-axe-11000-jobs

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 10:18pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/10/tavis-smiley-barack-obama-cornel-west_n_923437.html

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 10:01pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

What does peak oil look like….
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/10/businesspro-us-britain-riots-austerity-idUSTRE77951B20110810

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/story/2011/08/09/toronto-shell-gas.html

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 3:09pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

Interesting article…. America is
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/commentary/neil-reynolds/how-obama-can-get-re-elected-act-like-reagan/article2124254/

Roughly 40 per cent of Americans describe themselves as conservatives. Only 20 per cent describe themselves as liberals.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 7:34pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

Top writers tackle climate change in short stories.
Authors from Margaret Atwood to David Mitchell will contribute to Verso collection imagining impact of global warming.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/aug/10/climate-change-short-stories
“I think we’re right on the verge of thinking about human history as pre and post global warming.”

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 10:31pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

Ian McEwan, who takes on the issue in his new novel Solar, said he was surprised at the paucity of authors writing about climate change.

Like · Reply · August 10 at 10:32pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Little Exercise, Big Effects: Reversing Aging and Infection-Induced Memory Deficits, and Underlying Processes http://www.jneurosci.org/content/31/32/11578.short?rss=1.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 6:41pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

The Global Backlash Against Wind Energy.
T. Boone’s Windy Misadventure http://www.counterpunch.org/bryce07292011.html.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 8:28pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

[How much fossil fuel money is influencing your representatives?] Dirty Energy Money.
http://www.dirtyenergymoney.com/

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 11:34am

Peter S. Mizla · Top Commenter · Vernon, Connecticut

software is horrible.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 11:35am

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Generating Electricity From Buried Carbon.
http://www.fastcompany.com/1772405/a-new-way-to-generate-electricity-combining-co2-storage-and-geothermal-energy?partner=gnews

hmm

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 10 at 6:25pm

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