Hawaii Is Now Home to an Ocean Reserve Twice the Size of Texas
A 583,000-square-mile “no-take” zone: President Obama just quadrupled the size of a national marine monument off northwestern Hawaii.
By Cynthia Barnett
Capping a week of 100th anniversary celebrations for the National Park Service, President Barack Obama on Friday turned to the ocean to create the largest protected area anywhere on Earth—a half-million-square-mile arc of remote Pacific waters known for both exceptional marine life and importance to native Hawaiian culture.
The Papah?naumoku?kea Marine National Monument, established in 2006 by President George W. Bush, already covered 140,000 square miles of ocean around the uninhabited northwestern islands of Hawaii, Obama’s home state. (Learn about the name and how to pronounce it.)
Obama more than quadrupled Papah?naumoku?kea’s size, to 582,578 square miles, an area larger than all the national parks combined. Using his executive authority under the U.S. Antiquities Act, he extended most of the monument’s boundary—and its prohibition of commercial fishing—out to the 200-mile limit of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ).(Read about a monument established this week in the Maine woods.)
Deepwater Wind LLC is on the verge of completing the first offshore wind farm in U.S. waters, a milestone for an industry that has struggled for a more than decade to build in North America.
Workers have installed blades on four of the five 589-foot turbines at the site off the coast of Rhode Island and construction may be complete as early as this week, according to Chief Executive Officer Jeff Grybowski. The 30-megawatt, $300 million project is expected to begin commercial operation in early November.
“We will finish in advance of our original schedule,” Grybowski said in an interview at a dock on Block Island. “And we are in-line with our budget.”
After years of false starts, the offshore wind industry appears to be gaining momentum in the U.S. The federal government has awarded 11 leases to companies to develop projects along the East Coast, off New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maryland and Virginia. This month, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill requiring utilities to buy 1,600 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind farms over the next decade. And in the coming weeks, New York State plans to release a long-range plan to develop wind farms off the coast of Long Island.
I have wanted the Clinton Nuke shut down for years. It was a costly plant that was built badly. But you can’t just flip a switch and turn it off. Not only that but once it comes off line it has to be decommissioned. That mean it has to be guarded and monitored until that process is complete. Not only that but the baseline output must be replaced. The biggest question is, Will they do all of that safely. I hope so.
The Chicago-based nuclear giant, Exelon Generation Corporpation, formally notified the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that it will permanently close its Quad Cities Units 1 & 2 and Clinton nuclear generating stations in Illinois. The two Fukushima-style reactors at Quad Cities, both GE Mark I boiling water reactors will close in 2018 and Clinton, a GE Mark III boiling water reactor will permanently close in 2017.
The Exelon formal filing to the NRC is just the latest in a trend of reactor closure announcements across the country at Fort Calhoun in Nebraska by the end of 2016, Diablo Canyon Units 1 & 2 by 2025 in California. This latest trend of closure announcements follows on the 2013 shutdowns at Crystal River 3 (Florida), San Onofre 2 & 3 (California), and Kewanee (Wisconsin). Vermont Yankee (Vermont) permanently closed in 2014. Additional closure announces have been submitted to the NRC for Fitzpatrick (NY) in 2017 and the Pilgrim (Massachusetts) and Oyster Creek (New Jersey) nuclear power stations in 2019. More reactor units, like Pennsylvania’s infamous Three Mile Island nuclear power station, are still pending formal announcements to the NRC.
But managing so much clean energy may be difficult. California will easily meet its goal of having half of its electricity come from clean energy by 2030, a group of energy entrepreneurs and the head of one of the state’s largest utilities agreed at Fortune’s Brainstorm E conference on Monday.
PG&E’s CEO Tony Earley said that the company had already reached a milestone earlier this year of getting 30% of its electricity from clean energy sources. Building on that landmark, PG&E already has clean energy projects lined up that will help it deliver half of its electricity from clean energy, like solar and wind, within less than 15 years, said Earley.
“We can get there,” he confidently predicted.
Earley noted that California’s definition of clean energy is particularly narrow. While some broader definitions of clean energy include big sources of carbon emissions-free power like nuclear power, hydroelectric, rooftop solar energy, and energy efficiency technology, California’s definition of clean energy only includes utility-scale solar and wind energy