Hold a vial of pumped and processed oil to the light here, just before it enters the pipeline that one executive jokingly calls “the cash register,” and you can see a layer of watery sediment settled at the bottom.
The vial contains diluted bitumen. What happens to it inside pipelines, 0.5 percent sediment content and all, is powering a controversy that spans the continent.
Environmental and safety groups warn that diluted bitumen poses a greater risk of pipeline corrosion and spills than conventional fuel or the synthetic crude also produced from the Canadian oil sands. The oil and gas industry, bolstered by Canadian regulators and policymakers, blasts this claim as hyperbolic fearmongering.
“The challenge we have is combating emotion with facts,” Alberta Energy Minister Ron Liepert said during an interview this month when asked about the safety charges leveled by critics of oil sands development, particularly the $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline.
Liepert readily acknowledged, however, that few if any targeted studies of diluted bitumen’s corrosion risks are available to help him make the case for more oil sands development.
Boston is getting a nice large EV charging network via Coulomb Technologies’ ChargePoint stations. The more than 150 chargers will mainly be located within the Route 495 Beltway.
The news was part of a joint statement released by Coulomb and BMW, whose Active E all-electric vehicle, i3 and i8 are all on the way in the next couple years. The automaker was assuring Boston drivers that they’d have plenty of places to recharge by the time the plug-in vehicles launch.
Of course, Coulomb’s ChargePoints can charge any EV, so this is also great news for all non-BMW EV drivers who find themselves on the 495 Beltway.
A new University of Michigan project will help city leaders in the Great Lakes region plan for dealing with climate change.
The Kresge Foundation is helping fund the $1.2 million project, which will last three years.
Organizers say much climate change research has been done on global and national scales, but little is known about its potential effects on the local level.
University of Michigan professor Arun Agrawal says the project will give local officials information they need to make better policy decisions and upgrade infrastructure.
Scientists will work with urban leaders to develop a network of city administrators, land-use planners, mayors and others interested in developing sustainable cities as climate change affects the Great Lakes region in ever-greater ways.
Over the past few days, fact-checkers have been kept busy debunking this statement from Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), on why he doesn’t believe that humans are heating the planet: “I think we’re seeing it almost weekly or even daily, scientists who are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.”
It’s not a tricky argument to dismiss. In 2010, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a survey of 1,372 climate researchers, finding that 97 to 98 percent of those publishing in the field said they believe humans are causing global warming. That’s the same majority that existed in a similar 2009 survey. Dissenters do exist, thePNAS study found, but “the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced … are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.” Either way, the ranks of dissenters don’t appear to be swelling. (When contacted by the Washington Post, the Perry campaign responded with links to news stories that, reporter Glenn Kessler concluded, were “anecdotal in nature.”)
Still, it’s worth adding one overlooked point to all this fact-checking. It’s not just that Perry’s wrong. In many ways, the field of climate science is moving in precisely the opposite direction that he’s suggesting. Recall that back in 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change put out a report synthesizing the scientific work on global warming. While the report sounded quite certain on a number of topics—noting, for one, that it was “very likely” that most of the observed temperature increases since mid-century were due to man-made greenhouse gases—there were still plenty of vague spots in the report, especially with regards to sea-level rise.
Yet rather than poke further holes, much of the climate science that’s been published since 2007 appears to have strengthened the consensus, not weakened it. Another synthesis eport published last May by Britain’s Met Office, looking at more than 100 peer-reviewed post-IPCC studies, found that the case for human influence has been bolstered: “We can say with a very high significance level that the effects we see in the climate cannot be attributed to any other forcings.”
Tourists on a small North Carolina island have begun evacuating as Hurricane Irene heads for the East Coast after leaving more than 11,000 displaced in Dominican Republic.
It won’t be an easy task to get thousands of people off Ocracoke Island, which is accessible only by boat. Ocracoke is home to about 800 year-round residents and thousands of vacationers each summer. Tourists started evacuating Wednesday at 5 a.m. The island’s residents have been told to evacuate Thursday.
The first ferry to leave the island early Wednesday had around a dozen cars on it.
Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency will be in the Vermont town of Vershire for a public hearing on a cleanup plan for a hazardous waste site.
The agency is looking to collect public comments on Thursday on a cleanup plan for the former Ely Cooper Mine site. A 30-day comment period for its plan ends on Saturday.
The proposed $18 million cleanup plan includes excavation of waste rock, soil and sediment, as well as installation of a cap for the site.