August 22 News: Canada Moves to Phase Out Coal; Obama to Resume Gulf Oil & Gas Lease Sales

Canada moves to phase out coal

Canada released long-awaited regulations Friday that analysts said could phase out most of the country’s coal by midcentury.

The new rules apply a stringent performance standard on new plants, requiring them to emit roughly the same greenhouse gases as natural gas generators. That means that new coal plants won’t be able to be built in Canada without carbon capture technology, since coal typically releases twice as much carbon dioxide as natural gas does in the burning process.

Considering that carbon capture has never been proven at commercial scale to control coal’s emissions, the fate of the fuel in Canada is uncertain.

At a ceremony in Saskatchewan, Environment Minister Peter Kent said the regulations would help Canada meet its goal of slashing emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Coal currently fires about 17 percent of Canada’s electricity and releases about 13 percent of the country’s greenhouse gases.

“Our government understands Canadians’ concerns around the quality of the air we breathe. We know reducing air pollution and greenhouse gases will help us get there,” Kent said.

Specifically, the rules require new coal units annually to emit 375 metric tons of carbon dioxide per gigawatt of produced electricity. The only way a coal plant could achieve that level of emissions reduction is with yet-to-be-commercialized technology, analysts said. The rules apply to plants commissioned after July 2015.

But many environmentalists slammed the regulations as too weak. They would not do much to help Canada meet its 2020 emissions targets, considering that the plan applies to new units, green groups said.

Obama to resume Gulf of Mexico lease sales

The Obama administration has decided to resume oil and natural gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico for the first time since the BP oil spill 16 months ago.

The Interior Department decision was immediately welcomed by industry officials and Gulf-area lawmakers but criticized by environmental groups.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar made the announcement Friday. The sale, set for December in New Orleans, will involve areas in the western Gulf, near Texas.

“Since Deepwater Horizon, we have strengthened oversight at every stage of the oil and gas development process,” Salazar said. “Exploration and development of our western Gulf’s vital energy resources will continue to help power our nation and drive our economy.”

Eleven workers died in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which led to the largest U.S. oil spill in history and a government moratorium on leasing and drilling offshore.

NJ Dems will try override of greenhouse gas veto

A top state lawmaker will seek to override Gov. Chris Christie‘s veto of legislation that would keep New Jersey in a multistate pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

Assemblyman John McKeon, an Essex County Democrat who chairs the chamber’s environmental committee, calls the governor’s veto “a giant step backward” toward a clean energy economy.

Christie vetoed the bill late Friday, affirming an earlier decision to pull out of the greenhouse gas reduction pact known as RGGI.  Christie had announced in May that New Jersey would pull out of the program by year’s end, saying the program was ineffective at stemming carbon dioxide pollution.

Ten states are part of the pact to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the Northeast by 10 percent by 2018.

Mass. OKs utility deals to buy wind power

Massachusetts regulators have approved deals by the state’s second-largest utility to buy power from three land wind farms scattered around New England, the firm announced Friday.

NStar said the Department of Public Utilities approved contracts between the utility and Hoosac Wind in Massachusetts, Groton Wind in New Hampshire and Blue Sky East in Maine.

DPU officials could not be immediately reached for comment after business hours Friday.

Under Massachusetts law, utilities must get 3 percent of their electricity demand through long-term contracts with renewable power providers.

The NStar deals represent about 1.6 percent of its demand, so even with the DPU decision, the utility still must buy more renewable power.

National Grid, the state’s largest utility, met its entire obligation by agreeing to buy half the power from Cape Wind, the nation’s first federally-approved offshore wind farm. But NStar has said it wants to pursue cheaper power.

Trains That Run Like, and on, the Wind

It will not be easy to run a national railroad on renewable energy like wind, hydro and solar power, but that is what Deutsche Bahn of Germany aims to do, for one simple reason: It is what consumers want.

Deutsche Bahn says it wants to raise the percentage of wind, hydro and solar energy used in powering its trains from 20 percent now to 28 percent in 2014 and to become carbon-free by 2050 — targets that exceed the German government’s already ambitious national goals.

“Consumers in Germany have made it clear they want us all to get away from nuclear energy and to more renewable energy,” said Hans-Jürgen Witschke, chief executive of Deutsche Bahn Energie, which supplies electricity for trains in Germany.

“It’s what customers want, and we’re making it happen,” Mr. Witschke said in an interview. “The demand for green electricity keeps rising each year, and that’ll continue.”

Volkswagen on road to carbon-free car: report

Volkswagen will within two weeks unveil one of the first single-seater cars, with the potential for zero emissions, the Financial Times reported on Monday.

VW’s one-seat concept car will illustrate the carmaker’s ambitions to build electric vehicles that generate no carbon dioxide, the FT said, citing the company’s head of research, Jurgen Leohold.

“It’s a new kind of mobility, a new vehicle concept. Also, it’s physics,” he said. emissions

“If you limit a car to one person, you can make it smaller with less weight. You need less energy to transport the person, and then … it can be better on CO2 and fuel efficiency.”

The German carmaker also plans to offer a “full-service package” for customers of its electric cars by selling them power from renewable sources. It is planning to build two hydropower plants in Brazil.

Chrysler to get MPG boost from Fiat technologies, ZF 8- and 9-speed transmisions

In the coming years, Chrysler will add a megadose of Fiat’s fuel-saving technology to tame its gas-guzzling lineup of vehicles. The goal: Hit the target that the Fiat-Chrysler chief executive officer, Sergio Marchionne, set: increasing fuel economy 25 percent by 2014.

Chrysler will take a multi-pronged approach to reach this goal. With assistance from Fiat, Chrysler will shift from six- and eight-cylinder engines to more four-cylinder units and employ Fiat’s award-winningMultiAir technology if possible. Aside from downsized engines and MultiAir, Chrysler will license transmission technology from ZF to replace some of the automaker’s existing slushboxes. Eight- and nine-speeds transmissions are in the works, with the former showing up in rear-wheel-drive vehicles and the later in front-wheel-drive vehicles.

Additionally, Chrysler will offer more direct-injected turbocharged engines, debut a dual-clutch transmission in 2012 and, of course, launch the electric Fiat 500 in 2012. Chrysler says this lengthy list of changes is exactly what’s needed, and we only have to wait three years to find out if it’s right.

Cycling industry gives [UK] economy £3bn boost

Cycling generates nearly £3bn a year for the UK economy, a report by the London School of Economics has found.

The figure takes into account factors such as bicycle manufacturing, retail and cycle-related employment.

The report says £51m was raised for UK manufacturers from the 3.7 million cycles sold in 2010 – a rise of 28% on the number of cycles sold in 2009

More than a million people also started cycling last year, bringing the total number of cyclists to 13 million.

Last year more than £1.5bn was spent on bikes and another £850m on accessories, with the LSE estimating that the cycling industry is now worth some £2.9bn a year.

There are now 23,000 people working in cycling, contributing more than £600m to the economy in wages and taxes.

The report also says rising fuel costs, improved cycle networks, concern for the environment, and the pull of the Olympics are all possible factors for the increase in popularity for cycling.


Below are old comments from the earlier Facebook commenting system:

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

The Climat Progress Wikipedia, now with over 500 articles on Climate and general Earth Sciences! – The project evolved over the last few days and now the initial content needs some tweeking, but it is already ready and running well. Make use of the search box to look up specific topics of interest. Just had the idea to add in a weather extreme section-portal, though contributions are welcome. Another scope is to have a general data section on denial.

2 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · Monday at 12:37pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · Yesterday at 12:19am

Christopher Winter · University of Iowa

Sorry to be the bearer of more bad news, but I just picked up this story from my local paper. It’s about a parasite that appears in warm southern waters during the summer months. As if malaria and dengue fever weren’t bad enough — the infection is usually fatal, if it takes hold.

“The illness is extremely rare. About 120 U.S. cases — almost all of them deaths — have been reported since the amoeba was identified in the early 1960s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“About three deaths are reported each year, on average. Last year, there were four.
…See More

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · Monday at 3:13pm

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

Climate change creates perfect conditions for all sorts of agents, especially bacteria … prokaryotes…

Like · Reply · Monday at 11:17pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Hurricane Irene pounds Puerto Rico, heads for Hispaniola

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · Monday at 1:10pm

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

Irene is embedded in a large envelope of moisture now, and wind shear is expected to remain low, 5 – 10 knots, for the next five days. With water temperatures very warm, 29 – 30°C, these conditions should allow for intensification…

Woooha 30C!

Like · Reply · Monday at 1:14pm

Mike Roddy · Top Commenter · Yucca Valley, California

Phasing out coal by 2050 is a political program, and ain’t going to get it done. We need to stop burning coal now.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · Monday at 11:51am

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

The enduring appeal of Canadian coal.

Derided as a myth, clean coal schemes continue to draw investment.

But the main advantage coal has is that there is a lot of it. Alberta’s Energy Resources Conservation Board estimates the province has 33.6 billion tonnes of established reserves. In 2009, Alberta produced 31 million tonnes of marketable coal. At current rates of production, Alberta has enough coal to last another thousand years. And at a time when alternative electricity options like wind, solar and geothermal represent only four per cent of Canada’s power market, nuclear power is fast becoming a pariah because of safety concerns and endowments of oil and gas continue to dwindle, coal could be a stable and secure fuel source for hundreds of years. “There are such large amounts of coal available, I don’t think we can walk away …See More

Like · Reply · Subscribe · Monday at 12:52pm

newburg (signed in using Yahoo)

…”the fate of the fuel in Canada is uncertain”.

I suspect it will be burned somewhere, particularly if natural gas prices rise because production rates have been over-estimated and demand picks up. Maybe they’ll either export more of it raw (as the U.S. is doing), or use it to make synfuels if these rules only apply to power generation. A big-carbon-footprint compliment to oil of tar sands perhaps?

And Joe, or someone, I trust the blog administrators are looking into the login/commenting issues here. Still getting a Facebook login prompt popping up when already logged in via another provider and trying to type something.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · Monday at 8:23pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Atlantic Hurricane Irene Heads Toward Florida

And Action…

Like · Reply · Subscribe · Monday at 1:07pm

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

“We definitely think it’ll make landfall in the southeastern part of the U.S.,” said Kristina Pydynowski, a meteorologist with State College, Pennsylvania-based AccuWeather Inc.

Irene may even reach Category 3 strength with sustained winds of at least 111 mph, she said. The NHC website says a storm of this magnitude would cause “devastating damage” with a “high risk of injury or death.”

Like · Reply · Monday at 1:08pm

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

Wunderground will be on fire…

Like · Reply · Monday at 1:09pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

Climate Portals
The same is happening on the Fraser river in bc Canada.

…See More

Like · Reply · Subscribe · Monday at 1:06pm

Bart Laws · Top Commenter · Assistant Professor at Brown University

The only way you can have a “zero emissions” car is if you can get zero emissions electricity. The car cannot do it by itself. You can make a very low emissions car, but I mean come on…

Like · Reply · Subscribe · Monday at 10:59am

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

Alberta will just sell the coal to the US.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · Monday at 1:04pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

But this is a step in the right direction…

Like · Reply · Monday at 1:05pm

Comments are closed.