Normally I do not run purely local environmental articles, but this is pretty cool. I hope this actually happens.

 

http://www.sj-r.com/article/20141119/NEWS/141119436/-1/json

 

Study urges better use of Sangamon River

  • By Tim Landis
    Business Editor
    Posted Nov. 19, 2014 @ 10:00 pm

The Sangamon River is a major untapped resource for tourism, recreation and Abraham Lincoln history in the region.

A just-completed state study of an 85-mile section from Petersburg to Decatur also concluded the river is in need of a major image upgrade, including acknowledgement of the role it played in the life of Lincoln, improved boat access, bike and hiking trails, more public facilities, scenic driving routes, conservation incentives, and stepped-up efforts to reduce fly dumping.

Public presentation of the report — “Lincoln Heritage Water Trail” — at a policy breakfast of the Citizens Club of Springfield on Friday is timed to the 50th anniversary in 2015 of the Lincoln Heritage Canoe Trail.

Gov. Otto Kerner approved creation of the original 65-mile river trail in 1965

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The last excuse by the industrialists and their mouth pieces just went out the window. They totally bought the cancer and smoking defensive fall back approach. First they said that Climate Change wasn’t happening. Then they said we couldn’t “prove” it and came up with “scientists” that refuted it. Then they said it wasn’t as “bad” as what we were saying. Finally they said, “Well China isn’t doing it so why should we?”. So I am sure now they will say that any carbon tax or carbon emissions limit will be TOO MUCH. You heard it here first.

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120242/us-and-china-reach-agreement-climate-change

 

Environment

November 12, 2014

The World Has Waited for the U.S. and China to Take Action on Climate Change. They Just Did.

By

President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced on Wednesday commitments to reduce both countries’ greenhouse gas emissions. The surprise announcement, which came while Obama visits Beijing this week, is the clearest sign yet the two countries are serious on climate change.

After months of negotiations with China, Obama has pledged the U.S. to cut emissions between 26 and 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. This is double the pace of carbon cuts the U.S had already pledged to reach by 2020.

But China’s commitments might be even more unexpected, because it is the first time the growing economy has committed to a year for capping its emissionsseen as a crucial step for avoiding the worst-case scenarios of global warming. Xi pledged this will happen around 2030, though it will try to reach this peak as early as possible. China also agreed to increase the share of energy that doesn’t come from fossil fuels to 20 percent by 2030.

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Actually falling oil prices are not good because cheaper oil and gasoline means more of it gets used, thus more global warming. Still if there is a silver lining this would be it.

 

http://www.npr.org/2014/11/04/361204786/falling-oil-prices-make-fracking-less-lucrative

Falling Oil Prices Make Fracking Less Lucrative

Oil prices are down than more than 25 percent since June and are staying low for now. Drivers may appreciate that, but for oil companies, it’s making some of the most controversial methods of producing oil less profitable — and in a few cases, unprofitable.

Most of the world’s oil is selling for about $80 to $85 a barrel now. But not all oil is created equal. In the Middle East, it’s cheaper to produce, at a cost of less than $30 a barrel on average, according to the Norwegian firm Rystad Energy.

But in the Arctic, producing a barrel costs $78 on average. From Canada’s oil sands, it’s an average of $74 a barrel. And because those are averages, some companies have costs that are higher — which means there could be drillers currently producing crude at a loss.

Here in the U.S., the oil drilling boom is due largely to technologies like hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, used to force oil from shale formations deep underground. Producing this oil, Rystad figures, costs an average of $62 a barrel.

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I do not propose to write a treatise on Trailer’s as abodes. I have never seen one that was energy efficient, but I am sure they exist. I have a Trailer Park in my precinct so I am familiar with them a bit. My experience with them is that if the owners care, they can be really nice and homey. On the other hand if they are occupied by renters or they are occupied by people who do not take care of them, they can be real slums. Course the same could be said for most houses.

http://ced.berkeley.edu/bpj/2013/04/how-the-other-half-lives-exploring-trailer-parks-in-the-american-sunbelt/

 

How the Other Half Lives: Exploring Trailer Parks in the American Sun Belt

Written by on April 2, 2013 in Urban Fringe3 Comments

I believe that trailer parks are an important source of affordable housing for low-income households. I also believe that they serve as an important transitional step for social mobility. These conclusions are a culmination of a complex and emotional although enriching personal journey of writing my senior thesis at UC Berkeley.

As an urban studies undergraduate, I first sought to investigate the concept of colonias because to me it represented the Third World phenomenon of informalities on First World territory. The journey began in the summer of 2012 when I received the Judith Lee Stronach Summer Travel Scholarship to explore poor migrant settlements near the U.S.-Mexico border. During my travels, I drove along the U.S.-Mexico border through the States of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas to study this phenomenon of underdevelopment. But what I saw was very different from what I expected, based on the academic papers and scholarly books I had read.

Naively, I had expected to find isolated pockets of poverty that could be addressed through institutionally coordinated efforts and proactive legislation. But what I found were not isolated settlements but whole poverty-stricken neighborhoods, suburbs and, in some cases, cities, built entirely of mobile homes and trailer parks. I had never inquired into this scattered pattern of settlement clusters before, where people seemed to be camping permanently in mobile homes over the vast expanse of desert land. Initially, residences looked empty, isolated and neglected, uprooted and restless. But after spending a few weeks in the Sun Belt, I began to question my preconceived notions about life in the desert. I became conscious of very different ways of life that exist outside American metropolises. I started to wonder whether there was not one, but multiple American Dreams.

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But it appears that the world is changing.

 

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/big-utilities-push-into-booming-home-solar-market/

 

Big Utilities Push into Booming Home Solar Market

By Nichola Groom (Reuters) – For years, the utilities responsible for providing electricity to the nation have treated residential solar systems as a threat.

By Nichola Groom

(Reuters) – For years, the utilities responsible for providing electricity to the nation have treated residential solar systems as a threat. Now, they want a piece of the action, and they are having to fight for the chance.

If utilities embrace home solar, their deep pockets and access to customers could transform what has been a fast-growing, but niche industry. Solar powers only half a million U.S. homes and businesses, according to solar market research firm GTM Research.

But utility-owned rooftop systems represent a change the solar installation companies who dominate the market don’t want, and whether the two sides can compromise may determine if residential solar truly goes mainstream.

In Arizona, the state’s largest utility has proposed putting solar panels on 3,000 customers’ homes, promising a $30 monthly break on their power bills. In New York, regulators are weighing allowing utilities to get into the solar leasing business to meet the state’s aggressive plan to incorporate more decentralized, renewable power onto the grid.

 

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I was really suprised to open up my SJ-R today and see this really great article. Hope they print more.

http://www.sj-r.com/article/20141013/ENTERTAINMENTLIFE/141019833/-1/json

Commentary: Climate change is our problem

By Maggie Lenkart
Voice Correspondent
Posted Oct. 13, 2014 @ 10:29 pm

The effects of climate change and the environment have been in the news a lot in the past few weeks. Last month more than 300,000 people marched in New York to demonstrate for more regulations to help the environment. Celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio took to the podium to discuss the need for change. Even President Barack Obama called on the American public to start paying attention to this issue.

I plan on majoring in environmental studies in college, and all this focus on climate change makes me happy. I want to be someone to make a change, as I’m sure many other teens do. If we lose the earth, we can’t get it back. I hope that by doing things such as majoring in environmental studies and writing about climate change, I can make a change.

I’m not the only teen who cares about these changes. Other teenagers care — and they should.

“Environmental change will possibly cause our earth to die around us,” said Kayla Houston, a junior at Southeast High School.

Isaac Miller, a senior at Springfield High School, agreed with Kayla and said “If (the earth) gets too bad, we won’t be able to survive.”

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Everything the Capitalists tell us is a lie. Doing what is good for the planet is good for our homes as well.

 

http://www.triplepundit.com/2014/04/electricity-prices-fall-europe-german-renewable-energy-increases/

Electricity Prices Fall In Europe As German Renewable Energy Output Increases

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
Gina-Marie Cheeseman | Tuesday April 15th, 2014

For the fifth consecutive month, electricity prices in countries neighboring Germany have decreased, recently released Platts data reveals, due in large part to increased solar and wind generation in Germany.

The Platts Continental Power Index (CONT), described as a “demand-weighted base load average of day-ahead contracts assessed in Germany, Switzerland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands,” dropped steadily in early 2014. The index decreased to €35.06 (or about $48.50) per megawatt hour in March, an 18 percent drop from February. Overall, the index is down by more than 39 percent since peaking at €50.50/MWh in November of last year.

“A mid-March surge in German wind output followed seven days of peak solar output, which rose above 20 gigawatts (GW) to a new monthly record of 23 GW on March 20,” Andreas Franke, Platts managing editor of European power and gas said in a news release.

“German power prices for March 16 delivery turned negative as wind power output rose above 24 GW combined with stronger solar production,” Franke continued. “Further along the curve, German year-ahead power prices fell below €34/MWh in March for the first time in more than nine years as the price CO2 fell drastically and coal prices retreated.”

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I find this all very charming. Not the utility company rasing rates, but the idea that the utility companies think they can fend off solar this way.

 

http://grist.org/climate-energy/utilities-to-battery-powered-solar-get-off-our-lawn/

Utilities to battery-powered solar: Get off our lawn

In Wisconsin, utilities are jacking up the price to connect to their electrical grid. In Oklahoma, utilities pushed through a law this spring that allows them to charge the people who own solar panels and wind turbines more to connect to their electrical grid. In Arizona, the state has decided to charge extra property taxes to households that are leasing solar panels.

Welcome to the solar backlash. In Grist’s “Utilities for Dummies” series last year, David Roberts prophesied that solar and other renewables could “lay waste to U.S. power utilities and burn the utility business model, which has remained virtually unchanged for a century, to the ground.” And lo, it is coming to pass — though not without a fight from the utilities first.

This May, Barclays downgraded its rating of America’s electricity sector from “market weight” to “underweight.” Its rationale? Solar — or, more specifically, the great leaps that are happening or expected to happen in technology for storing the energy that solar generates. While the solar industry took a roller-coaster ride over the last decade, the R&D that went into electric cars created the killer add-on it was waiting for: really awesome batteries.

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There is such a thing as the cost of doing business.

http://wtax.com/news/101101-ameren-threatens-20-monthly-fee-for-no-smart-meters/

Ameren Threatens $20 Monthly Fee for No Smart Meters

Ameren Illinois says customers who refuse to have an electricity meter installed will see an additional $20 monthly fee on their bills.

Ameren says the so-called smart meters, which transmit details about power usage, enable the utility to pinpoint outage problems and fix them faster. It says the meters can be read remotely and that the $20 fee covers the cost of sending out a person to read the older analog meter.

The company is set to install 780,000 of the new electricity meters in central Illinois and 468,000 upgraded gas meters, which offer similar capabilities.

The Illinois Commerce Commission, the state’s utility regulators, approved the extra charge and said the company should be compensated for meters that require a person to visit them.

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For someone like me that has been at this for so long, you get a little lazy about keeping up with the new stuff so this caught me off guard.

 

http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/the-power-monitor-top-tools-for-watching-your-home-energy-use.html

 

The Power Monitor: Top Tools for Watching Your Home Energy Use

You can reduce electricity use by 15 percent without trying. Sound too good to be true? It isn’t. For those consumers using power monitors, this these are typical reductions. Just by being aware of where and when electricity is used, you’re far more likely to off a few devices or flipping a few light switches that might have been left on before, and can make a big dent in their energy consumption. IBM just solidified this statistic with their recent smart meter pilot program, and those households who really put in the effort showed as much as a 40% reduction on energy use. When looking at ways to monitor the energy consumption in a home, power monitors fit in three big buckets: checking the consumption of single devices or appliances, monitoring the energy use of a whole house, and online dashboards that link up with utility companies as part of a smart grid. The steady advance of smart grid technologies will bring more and more user-friendly options to the table. But for now, here are the three umbrella categories, and a few of the top tools under each that are helping people shrink the amount of electricity they use.

Plug Load Power Monitors

Kill A Watt is a classic example of a plug load monitor. These are power monitors that plug into a wall outlet, and then the device is plugged into them. They monitor how much energy the device is sucking up. They’re a great way to know which devices are power sippers, and which need to be unplugged. Other examples are the Watts Up Pro, which is similar to, but bulkier than the Kill A Watt; and the Brultech ECM-1220, which can monitor not only plug-in devices but also things that are wired into the home or the plug isn’t accessible (like dishwashers or ceiling fans) thanks to a current sensor that clamps onto the cord of the device.

 

The price range is significant, from about $35 for a Kill A Watt, to about $120 for a Watts Up, to about $250 for a Brultech ECM-1120. So your investment can vary, and really depends on how involved you need your basic plug load monitor to be.

You can check out a couple of these reviewed by Jon Plowman, the former head of BBC Comedy, along with some from the next category

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