Environmental Defense Fund – One of my favorite organizations

To be candid, most of the national environmental organizations suck. They refuse to take local input and when they want something to happen because of a national agenda or a deal they have cut, they will shove it down the local’s throat. Case in point, the Sierra Club and other Environmental Organizations with a base in Chicago want to rip high speed rail straight through Springfield with no consideration for the town’s best interests for the path of that rail line. These guys are a little more sensitive to local issues.

http://www.edf.org/annual-reports/2011

Our mission is to preserve the natural systems on which all life depends.

Guided by science and economics, we find practical and lasting solutions to the most serious environmental problems.


Complete report

Individual chapters

 

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Go there and read. More tomorrow.

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Ameren Gets Off The Hook From A Plan They Crafted – New low for Illinois

I was going to start a meditation on Environmental and Energy Conservation websites today but then I got to this story in the Illinois Times. I am actually citing the one from the St. Louis Dispatch but you can find the Illinois Times one here:

http://www.illinoistimes.com/Springfield/article-10536-state-gives-ameren-a-pollution-pass.html

So here is the piece from the SLD, mainly because I hardly ever link up with them.

http://www.stltoday.com/news/state-and-regional/illinois/ill-regulators-delay-ameren-pollution-controls/article_123019f5-fe57-5971-9600-4f4c4d7281cb.html

Ill. regulators delay Ameren pollution controls

State regulators have granted Ameren Corp. a five-year delay in the installation of pollution controls at a large coal-fired power plant in southeastern Illinois after the company threatened to close other plants and cut hundreds of jobs.

The Illinois Pollution Control Board granted the delay Thursday, giving the St. Louis-based company until 2020 to install equipment to control smog, which is linked to heart and lung problems. The company had initially agreed to do it by 2015.

Ameren had argued that because of the drop in electricity prices _ driven in part by competition from natural gas plants _ it could no longer afford to finish installing sulfur dioxide scrubbers at its Newton plant under the original timetable.

Environmental groups lambasted the regulators’ decision, saying it undercuts the state’s pollution standards. Ameren said the move was necessary to save jobs.

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Go there and read. More tomorrow.

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Most Diesel Engines Will Switch To Natural Gas – It is cheaper and cleaner

This has been so needed for so long. America pivots from gasoline to natural gas. When will we get over that to something that makes sense?

http://www.chron.com/business/article/Natural-gas-wins-place-as-oil-field-fuel-3900742.php

Natural gas wins place as oil field fuel

By Zain Shauk | Thursday, September 27, 2012

The biggest, baddest engines in the world, long chained to diesel fuel, are on the verge of a mass transformation because of cheap natural gas – with oil field equipment holding particular potential, executives said Thursday during a summit of heavy fuel users and producers.

“Here’s the first reason that large engines are going gas,” said JoelFeucht, director of gas engine strategy for Caterpillar’s energy and power systems division. “Large engines burn the most fuel. I could try to make it harder, but that’s pretty straightforward.”

Oil companies alone use nearly 1.2 billion gallons of diesel fuel a year just for pressure pumping equipment that supports hydraulic fracturing, said David Hill, vice president of natural gas economy operations for Encana Corp. Adding the diesel used to power drilling rigs themselves, the total is more than 2.8 billion gallons annually, said Pierce Dehring, a project engineer for Baker Hughes.

 

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Go there and read. More next week.

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Energy Deathprint – One of those pesky externalities you never hear about

This article is both disturbing and self explanatory.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2012/06/10/energys-deathprint-a-price-always-paid/

How Deadly Is Your Kilowatt? We Rank The Killer Energy Sources

 

James Conca, Contributor

Everyone’s heard of the carbon footprint of different energy sources, the largest footprint belonging to coal because every kWhr of energy produced emits about 900 grams of CO2. Wind and nuclear have the smallest carbon footprint with only 15 g emitted per kWhr, and that mainly from concrete production, construction, and mining of steel and uranium. Biomass is supposedly carbon neutral as it sucks CO2 out of the atmosphere before it liberates it again later, although production losses are significant depending upon the biomass.  Carbon emissions and physical footprints are known as externalities and are those vague someone-has-to-pay-eventually kind of thing it’s hard to put a value on. Proposed carbon footprint taxes are in the range of $15 to $40/ton of  CO2 emitted, but assigning a physical footprint cost depends on the region, ecosystem sensitivities and importance. A hundred-acre wetlands to be flooded by a new dam is worth more to the planet than a barren hundred-acre strip under a solar array in the Mojave (P. Bickel and R. Friedrich, 2005).

But an energy’s deathprint, as it is called, is rarely discussed. The deathprint is the number of people killed by one kind of energy or another per kWhr produced and, like the carbon footprint, coal is the worst and wind and nuclear are the best. According to the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Academy of Science and many health studies over the last decade (NAS 2010), the adverse impacts on health become a significant effect for fossil fuel and biofuel/biomass sources (see especially Brian Wang for an excellent synopsis). In fact, the WHO has called biomass burning in developing countries a major global health issue (WHO int). The table below lists the mortality rate of each energy source as deaths per trillion kWhrs produced. The numbers are a combination of actual direct deaths and epidemiological estimates, and are rounded to two significant figures.

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Go there and read. The numbers are disgusting. More tomorrow.

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Electric Refueling In California – New fuels spreading all along the highway

And it is not just Tesla who is getting into the game. Tomorrow I will post about natural gas refueling stations in Northern Florida. This could be the wave of the future. A battle between electricity and natural gas.

http://peakoil.com/consumption/tesla-motors-launches-revolutionary-supercharger-enabling-convenient-long-distance-driving/

Page added on September 25, 2012

Tesla Motors Launches Revolutionary Supercharger Enabling Convenient Long Distance Driving

Tesla Motors( NASDAQ : TSLA ) today unveiled its highly anticipated Supercharger network. Constructed in secret, Tesla revealed the locations of the first six Supercharger stations, which will allow the Model S to travel long distances with ultra fast charging throughout California, parts of Nevada and Arizona.

The technology at the heart of the Supercharger was developed internally and leverages the economies of scale of existing charging technology already used by the Model S, enabling Tesla to create the Supercharger device at minimal cost. The electricity used by the Supercharger comes from a solar carport system provided by SolarCity, which results in almost zero marginal energy cost after installation. Combining these two factors, Tesla is able to provide Model S owners1 free long distance travel indefinitely.

Each solar power system is designed to generate more energy from the sun over the course of a year than is consumed by Tesla vehicles using the Supercharger. This results in a slight net positive transfer of sunlight generated power back to the electricity grid. In addition to lowering the cost of electricity, this addresses a commonly held misunderstanding that charging an electric car simply pushes carbon emissions to the power plant. The Supercharger system will always generate more power from sunlight than Model S customers use for driving. By adding even a small solar system at their home, electric car owners can extend this same principle to local city driving too.

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Go there and read. More tomorrow.

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San Francisco Goes To Green Power Source – Fossil fuel fans everywhere can see the end

Not much to say here, except it is about DAMN time. Way to go San Francisco.

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/SF-public-power-plan-given-tentative-OK-3875891.php

SF public power plan given tentative OK

John Coté
Updated 10:41 p.m., Tuesday, September 18, 2012
San Francisco took a major step toward public power Tuesday when the Board of Supervisors gave initial approval to a five-year contract with Shell Energy North America to provide 100 percent renewable power to San Franciscans willing to pay a premium.

The 8-3 vote provided a veto-proof majority for a program that will effectively break Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s decades-old monopoly on the consumer power market in its headquarter city. It also lays the groundwork for city-owned renewable power production.

“The long-term goal is to really do our own generation,” said Ed Harrington, the outgoing general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, who delayed his retirement to see the proposal brought before legislators.

The plan comes eight years after the city began setting up a community choice aggregation program, which allows municipalities to choose alternative electricity providers. Former Supervisor Tom Ammiano, now an assemblyman, began pushing for public power, a touchstone issue for many on the city’s political left, 14 years ago.

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Go there and read. More tomorrow.

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The Drought Will Move On – That is the nature of Global Warming

The unstable weather patterns created by Global Warming means that there will be drought and flooding somewhere in the world, more or less at the same time. So this impending hurricane just pushes the drought out of its way for a while but it will come back.

http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/08/30/us-usa-drought-idINBRE87T0Z620120830

Drought eases in U.S. Midwest, worsens in northern Plains

By Karl Plume

Thu Aug 30, 2012 9:30pm IST

(Reuters) – The worst U.S. drought in a half century loosened its grip on the Midwest in the past week, helped by rain and cooler temperatures, but the drought grew more dire in the northern Plains, a report from climate experts said on Thursday.

But the improved Midwest weather arrived too late for crops in major farm states such as Kansas, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, where severe corn and soybean yield losses have already been realized.

The portion of the contiguous United States suffering from at least “severe” drought fell to 42.34 percent from 44.03 percent over the prior week, according to the Drought Monitor, a weekly synthesis representing a consensus climatologists.

The percentage of the Midwest in that category slipped to 49.96 from 51.06 the previous week, with the most notable improvement in Indiana, 64.07 percent of which was under severe drought or worse, down from 81.48 percent a week ago.

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Go there and read. More next week.

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The Drought And Ethanol – While the EPA has some control, not as much as some think

The real problems with all the “stop turning corn into liquid fuel” noise in the press is that the EPA only has the authority to wave some of it. The rest of the authority belongs to the Clean Air Act and in this respect ethanol is one of the best oxygenators for the fuel which cuts smog and ozone. Added to that ethanol is a cheaper oxygenator by about a buck a gallon so I doubt seriously if the gasoline refiners will give it up. Bottom line is it is a great way to pander to growers and livestock people who have been abandoned by the House of Representatives who could not get a Farm Bill passed. But is not going to free up a lot of corn and even then it will be expensive.

http://www.platts.com/RSSFeedDetailedNews/RSSFeed/Oil/6585987

Texas governor asks US waive ethanol mandate on drought impact

Washington (Platts)–24Aug2012/136 pm EDT/1736 GMT

Texas Governor Rick Perry on Friday asked the US Environmental Protection Agency to waive its ethanol mandate as a severe drought shrivels this fall’s expected corn harvest.

His petition marked the fifth state to formally ask EPA to alter the Renewable Fuel Standard’s requirement for blending corn-based ethanol into gasoline supplies for 2012 and 2013.

It comes four years after EPA rejected a similar request by Perry. He said the ramifications of this year’s drought could be worse than the conditions he cited in the 2008 petition.

“The forecasts are dire, as crop yield and overall productions are projected to be lower than anticipated,” Perry said in a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, adding that ethanol production and the corn market have changed considerably since 2008.

“Requirements for ethanol derived from corn starch have increased more than 60%; meanwhile, domestic corn production in 2012 will be less than in 2008, perhaps substantially so,” he added. “In the past two years, more corn has been devoted to ethanol production than used for feed grain.”

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Go there and read. More next week.

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When BP Messes Up They Do It Big – But bad gasoline that is crazy

First they destroy the Gulf of Mexico and now they are after your car. When these things happen, they always appear clueless. Really.

I was going to write about the drought today again, but there are some stories that you can not pass up.

http://consumerist.com/2012/08/bps-bad-gas-made-it-into-200-stations-in-chicago-area-affecting-at-least-7000-customers.html

BP’s Bad Gas Made It Into 200 Stations In Chicago Area, Affecting At Least 7,000 Customers

By on August 23, 2012 10:00 AM

Since the news hit this week that tainted gas from a BP fuel storage facility in northwest Indiana could be causing drivers to have problems with their vehicles, it seems BP had to scramble a bit to get a gauge on how bad the situation is. The company has churned out a few press releases in the last few days, and has now alerted customers and the media that about 200 retail gas outlets in Indiana and the Chicago area had a case of bad gas.

In the first few hours after the tale of bad gas spread, customers were having a hard time getting an actual BP representative on the phone, much less someone who would have the skill to address the situation. We must say since that point, the company has been trying to get a better handle on the tainted gas, as well as launching a web site for consumers with issues.

In the latest statement from a company spokesman, BP handed down the numbers of 200 retail outlets that were supplied with off-specification regular-grade gasoline, aka the stuff you’d likely fill up with, as well as 20 sites in the Milwaukee area:

The company continues to go through its shipping records and is contacting retailers who may have loaded tanker trucks with the off-specification fuel and is replacing it with on-specification product.

This fuel, sourced from BP’s Whiting, Indiana and Milwaukee, Wisconsin gasoline storage terminals, contained a higher than normal level of polymeric residue, which can lead to hard starting and other drivability issues.

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Go there and read. More tomorrow.

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Drought And The Mississippi River – How low can you go

I was going to write a piece today on the stupidity of trying to maintain our addiction to liquid fuels that are not sustainable like ethanol. But then it suddenly dawned on me, if the corn can’t get to the processing plant then there is really nothing to write about. Yup the barges are stacking up in a river that is, in some places down to one lane and in an 11 mile stretch it is closed. They also point out that after the flooding last year they did no dredging cause the rich people won’t pay their taxes. Oh sorry.

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/08/this-years-drought-is-so-severe-you-can-see-its-toll-on-the-mississippi-river-from-space/261428/

This Year’s Drought Is So Severe, You Can See Its Toll on the Mississippi River From Space

Aug 22 2012, 9:42 AM ET

Last year, the Mississippi River flooded. Major storms combined with melting snow brought the waterway more than 56 feet above river stage in May. The Army Corps of Engineers lifted the floodgates of the Morganza Spillway, deliberately inundating some 3,000 square miles of rural Louisiana to spare worse damage in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. In August of last year, NASA’s Landsat 5 satellite took a picture of the swollen river. Here’s what it saw:

(note: I know longer post pictures on this blog for the most part. They take to much time and effort to post.)

 

This year it’s an entirely different story. At the end of last month, more than 60 percent of the lower 48 states were in drought, and the might Mississippi was running low. An 11-mile stretch of river has been closed on and off since August 11, and earlier this week nearly 100 boats lined up near Greenville, Mississippi, waiting to pass. Water levels near Memphis are ranging from 2.4 to 8.3 below river stage, compared with 11.7 feet above at this time last year. To make matters worse, the floods of last year deposited huge amounts of sediment on the river bed, reconfiguring the existing channels.

Again NASA was there to capture the view from space, this time with Landsat 7. Here’s that image:

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Go there and see the startlingly different pictures and read. More tomorrow.

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