"February 6 News: China Refuses to Pay for Airline Emissions, Elevating Dispute Over EU Carbon Tax"
Other stories below: With deep concerns over fracking, a Va. county says no to more gas drilling; Pollution spikes U.S. beach closures
China announced Monday it will prohibit its airlines from paying European Union charges on carbon emissions, ratcheting up a global dispute over the cost of combatting climate change.
The charges are aimed at curbing emissions of climate-changing gases but governments including China, the United States and Russia oppose them. The ratings agency Fitch warned in December the conflict could spiral into a global trade dispute.
The Chinese air regulator said China’s carriers are barred from paying the charges or other fees without government permission, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. It said Beijing will consider unspecified measures in response to protect Chinese companies.
There was no indication there would be any immediate impact on flights between China and Europe or penalties for Chinese airlines. The charges took effect in January but money will not be collected until next year.
As the China-built, Cuba-operated Scarabeo 9 water oil rig has started drilling for oil off the coast of Cuba, experts based in two Florida universities and others are concerned an oil spill could cause catastrophic damage to the coast from South Florida to the Carolinas.
Researchers at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) and Florida International University (FIU) are researching steps to prepare for the risk of a spill, and develop and implement a long-term response plan.
Richard E. Dodge, Ph.D., dean of NSU’s Oceanographic Center, John R. Proni, Ph.D., executive director of FIU’s Applied Research Center and other experts gave their recommendations to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure last week.
“This is a very serious issue to the U.S.,” said Dodge. “There are gaps in prediction and should there be an oil spill, we need to know how to handle it, take mitigation measures and be ready. Without the information, we’d be reactive instead of proactive.”
A new round of EPA grants totaling almost $10 million will help states monitor and assess the state of their beaches — something that’s sorely needed, according to the Surfrider Foundation’s State of the Beach report findings, which explains the challenges of tracking the condition of beaches around the country.
The EPA is also launching the new BEACON website to provide timely information on beach conditions, advisories and closures.
Inconsistencies in testing, closure and advisory standards, notification procedures and even the terminology used in regulations varies from state to state, creating a confusing picture for consumers. The federal BEACH Act was aimed at elimination some of the inconsistencies, but it will take time for jurisdictions to get on the same page.
In case you don’t live near a beach and you’re wondering what the problem is, the Natural Resource Defense Council’s 2011 Testing the Waters report indicates there were 24,091 beach closings and advisories in 2010 — the second-highest number since the NRDC started tracking stats 21 years ago.
Despite a handful of high-profile setbacks last year, Massachusetts’ clean energy industry is alive and thriving, according to Gov. Deval Patrick’s top environmental official.
The bankruptcy of state-subsidized Evergreen Solar in Marlborough was perhaps the most prominent letdown for the Bay State’s green industry in 2011. But in the big picture, the field is healthy, said Rick Sullivan, state secretary for Energy and Environmental Affairs.
Statewide, jobs in clean energy grew 6.7 percent last year, totaling about 64,000 positions ranging from solar panel installers to engineers, Sullivan said. Job growth in this sector is expected to roughly double this year, according to Sullivan.
“It is an important part of the Massachusetts economy,” he said in a recent interview with GateHouse Media New England editors.
There is some independent support for this view: The national Solar Foundation last year listed Massachusetts as the 10th highest state in the nation for solar industry jobs.
The United States Department of the Interior said opening up the mid-Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf area for renewable energy projects will not have significant negative impacts – a finding allowing the agency to move forward with issuing leases for the said resource-rich areas.
Last week, the agency said a comprehensive environmental assessment of the resource found that there would be no significant environmental and socioeconomic impacts from issuing wind energy leases in designated areas off the mid-Atlantic coast.
The environmental review was done by the department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management headed by Tommy P. Beaudreau, observing provisions stated in the National Environmental Policy Act.
This finding now allows the Interior Department to issue wind energy lease sales off Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and Delaware.
Get ready for another round of pain at the pump: $4 (or higher) gasoline.
After rising 19 cents a gallon in the past four weeks, regular unleaded gasoline now averages $3.48 a gallon, vs. $3.12 a year ago and $2.67 in February 2010.
Prices could spike another 60 cents or more by May. “I think it’s going to be a chaotic spring, with huge price increases in some places,” says Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service. Kloza expects average prices to peak at $4.05, although he and other industry trackers say prices could be sharply higher in some markets.
Rising prices are an annual spring ritual, largely because of seasonal demand.
Carrizo Oil and Gas had every reason to believe this rustic town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains was an ideal place to build Virginia’s first well to explore for natural gas in the state’s Marcellus Shale.
Carrizo liked Bergton’s location — eight miles from the West Virginia border, not far from where other operations are extracting gas. Carrizo bet that gas was locked in the shale under the town and put up tens of thousands of dollars for landowner leases as collateral.
All it needed to start the job was a special land-use permit from the four Republicans and one Democrat on Rockingham County’s Board of Supervisors.
Carrizo didn’t even come close. Concerned about controversial drilling methods, the supervisors never voted on the permit, and recently the company shelved its application following a two-year pursuit, ending its immediate hopes of exploring for gas.