Green


Date: 11-Mar-10
Country: US
Author: Jon Hurdle

Obama Aide Urges Listing Of Gas-Drilling Chemicals Photo: Jon  Hurdle/Files
A worker at EnCana’s Frenchie Draw gas-drilling rig in central Wyoming guides sections of steel pipe into an 11,000-foot well in this September 19, 2009 file photo.
Photo: Jon Hurdle/Files

President Barack Obama’s top environmental adviser urged the natural gas industry on Tuesday to disclose the chemicals it uses in drilling, warning that the development of massive U.S. shale gas reserves could be held back otherwise.

Joseph Aldy, special assistant to the president for energy and the environment, said concerns about water contamination from drilling chemicals could lead to states requiring disclosure and that could deter additional investment.

“You can’t leave this in the status quo if you think we are going to have significant shale gas development in the United States,” Aldy told Reuters after a natural gas conference.

Some energy companies decline to publish lists of toxic chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, a technique used to extract natural gas from shale beds far underground.

Companies have been under pressure from critics of fracturing and from some lawmakers, who say the technique is damaging the water supplies of people who live near gas rigs.

Aldy said it is unclear whether fracturing chemicals are fouling groundwater but acknowledged the industry is under pressure from those who say the process leads to contamination with chemicals that can cause a range of illnesses.

“I don’t think we have the information to assess that,” he said.

Aldy said the industry could disclose the chemicals voluntarily, as some companies already do, or through regulation.

He declined to say whether the Obama administration supports the “Frack Act,” a Congressional bill that would require drilling companies to disclose the chemicals and give the Environmental Protection Agency oversight over the industry, which is now regulated by the states.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said on Monday she was “very concerned” about the composition of fracturing fluids and that she hoped the agency would conduct a study this year if it obtained funding.

U.S. shale gas reserves are estimated to contain enough of the clean-burning fuel to meet national demand for at least a century. A current boom in development has been made possible by fracturing technology that injects water, sand and a mix of chemicals to fracture the shale at high pressure.

(Editing by John O’Callaghan)

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by Brian Merchant, Brooklyn, New York on 01.27.10

eats radioactive waste

Photo via Science Daily

// Nuclear waste is probably the most dreaded substances in existence, in part because it’s proved so difficult to effectively clean up and store. But a stunning new breakthrough has just surfaced that may make cleaning up radioactive waste easier and much more efficient–and the solution takes its inspiration from one of everyone’s favorite creepy plants. Researchers have developed a material that opens its pores to let in its intended prey–the radioactive ion cesium–then “snaps shut” to entrap it, according to Science Daily. It’s a Venus Flytrap that eats radioactive waste instead of flies.

The flytrap-like material is evidently a snythetic material made from “layers of a gallium, sulfur and antimony compound,” and was developed by researchers at Northwestern University.

The radioactive ion cesium, found in nuclear waste, is very difficult to clean up. And that’s because the ratio of harmless sodium ions to dangerous radioactive cesium ions is 1,000 to 1. There’s tons more sodium than cesium–one scientist on the project even said that looking for the radioactive material in nuclear waste is “like looking for a needle in a haystack.” But the material the scientists developed turned out to be extremely adept at removing the cesium from a sodium-heavy solution–thanks to its Venus flytrap-like qualities.

SD explains:

It is, in fact, cesium itself that triggers a structural change in the material, causing it to snap shut its pores, or windows, and trap the cesium ions within. The material sequesters 100 percent of the cesium ions from the solution while at the same time ignoring all the sodium ions.

Which is pretty amazing–a material that can selectively snag and confine only the radioactive ions in nuclear waste could be instrumental in nuclear waste cleanup. Especially since there are over a hundred nuclear power plants across the US keeping their radioactive waste in storage onsite.

excessive radioactivity

One of the most fascinating things about the discovery is how it can trap literally every single radioactive cesium ion without bothering to absorb any sodium ions–sort of like how a Venus Flytrap doesn’t bother with drops of rain or debris that falls into its ‘mouth’ and attacks only the flies. Again, SD explains how this works:

The snap-shut Venus flytrap mechanism occurs because ‘soft’ materials like to interact with each other. A cesium ion is big and soft, and the metal-sulfide material is soft, too. The cesium ions are attracted to the material, specifically the sulfur atoms, and together form a weak bond. This interaction causes the material to change shape, close its windows and trap the cesium — like a juicy insect in a flytrap. Sodium, which is clothed in water molecules, can’t trigger the response.

It will certainly be interesting to see how this develops, and if this can successfully be transformed into a major new way to cleanup nuclear waste.

SOURCE:   http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/01/venust-flytrap-snares-radioactive-waste.php?campaign=daily_nl

More on Nuclear Waste Cleanup
E. Coli Can Be Used To Clean Up Nuclear Waste
Plan to Import 20000 Tons of Italian Nuclear Waste into Utah
Will South Carolina Become the Nation’s Premier Nuclear Waste Depository?

Date: 11-Jan-10
Country: US
Author: Richard Cowan

Beleaguered U.S. Climate Bill Seeks Obama Lift Photo: Shannon Stapleton
The Valero St. Charles oil refinery is seen during a tour of the refinery in Norco, Louisiana August 15, 2008.
Photo: Shannon Stapleton

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech to Congress could indicate how badly he wants a global warming bill, which opponents say will cost U.S. jobs and raise prices — a scary prospect for politicians trying to ride out a horrible economy in an election year.

Obama, who played a dramatic role in negotiating a nonbinding international climate change accord last month in Copenhagen, now faces a tough economic and environmental balancing act to win the climate change legislation in 2010.

Administration officials insist it can be done despite the political difficulties in an election year. “President Obama and this administration … expect that a comprehensive energy bill, which includes a climate portion, to be passed this year,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu told reporters Wednesday.

For that to happen, Obama must put a “job-creation focus” on the bill to build a U.S. economy that would run more on alternative energy than dirty-burning coal and oil, said Daniel Weiss of the Center for American Progress. “The more specifics the better” in the State of the Union speech, Weiss added.

On Friday, Obama announced new tax credits to encourage investments in clean energy development that he said would help combat climate change and create jobs.

“This initiative is good for middle-class families. It is good for our security. It is good for our planet,” Obama said.

A House-passed bill is floundering in the Senate, where Obama has to convince 60 of 100 members to back a bill.

In one area — government incentives for expanding nuclear power — Senate sources said progress has been made in closed-door talks in search of a “sweet spot” for a compromise on the legislation that they hope to pass in coming months.

Even so, Senate backers and environmentalists off Capitol Hill say they are uncertain of climate change victory in 2010.

Difficult negotiations are expected between senators who want to require industries to cut their carbon emissions and those who see a climate bill as a vehicle for also helping domestic producers of nuclear power and oil and natural gas.

And, many Republicans are working hard to cast doubt on claims the climate change bill will create jobs.

Within the next few weeks, Senator Lisa Murkowski could force a Senate vote to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon emissions as a fallback if more comprehensive climate legislation is not enacted.

“This is a vote about the economy, not about the climate — whether these regulations will harm the economy,” said a Senate Republican aide.

If Murkowski, whose state of Alaska is a major oil and gas producer, manages to get a strong vote, even if less than needed to pass her measure, some undecided Republicans and Democrats could have second thoughts about voting later this year on a more comprehensive climate bill.

SENATORS SEEKING COMPROMISE

Despite all the hurdles, a bipartisan group of senators is forging ahead on a bill to cut carbon emissions by utilities, refineries and factories over the next four decades by 17 percent from 2005 levels.

Senator John Kerry, who is leading the effort, expects to be recovered from surgery and back in Washington when the Senate reconvenes on January 20, to huddle with independent Senator Joe Lieberman and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, according to a spokeswoman. The two are key to winning support from moderates and conservatives.

One Senate staffer said 17 pro-nuclear senators have had input into what could become a major provision of the bill aimed at luring Republican votes. “That part (nuclear power) ironically is in fairly good shape at this point.”

While nuclear power plants do not emit the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, the industry has been weighed down by prohibitively high construction costs and controversy over nuclear waste storage.

Expanding domestic oil and gas drilling is another important goal for Republicans and that component of a climate bill is “still 100 percent in flux,” said the Senate source.

While producing more oil and gas here will do nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it would reduce dependence on foreign oil and potentially lure Republican votes.

On the sidelines of the U.N. climate meeting in Copenhagen, Kerry left open the possibility that the core of the climate bill could be scrapped. That is the “cap and trade” system for reducing carbon emissions through ever-dwindling pollution permits that could be traded on a new exchange.

A carbon tax and a “cap” without the “trade” component are among possibilities. But for now, Kerry, Lieberman and Graham are sticking with cap and trade, aiming to quell nervousness over the scheme by including tougher market controls.

(Editing by Jackie Frank and Bill Trott)

© Thomson Reuters 2010 All rights reserved

Date: 30-Dec-09
Country: CANADA
Author: John McCrank

TORONTO – Quebec will become the first province in Canada to adopt California’s strict auto emissions standards, the province’s environment ministry said on Tuesday.

The new rules will come into effect on January 14 and will impose increasingly stringent limits on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from cars and light trucks made between 2010 and 2016 that are sold in the province.

Emissions from vehicles will be cut by about 35 percent over the four years, from 187 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer for passenger vehicles to 127 grams per kilometer by 2016, Charles Larochelle, assistant deputy environment minister in Quebec, said in an interview.

“In Quebec, 40 percent of our GHG emissions are from our transportation sector, so it’s quite an important sector if we want to get some reductions in our greenhouse gases,” he said.

Quebec first announced its plan to adopt the California emission standards two years ago, but was waiting for legal wrangling between the state of California and automakers to be resolved before it officially got on board.

Fourteen other U.S. states have also adopted the California plan, including Vermont, Maine, and New York state, all of which border Quebec.

The United States is looking at a national strategy to reduce carbon emissions, and the Canadian government has said it will probably tie itself to the U.S. plan.

(Editing by Peter Galloway)

© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved

It is our responsibility to help people and especially businesses to reduce their carbon emissions and vehicle maintenance expenses with less dependency on foreign oil… CSea

Date: 11-Sep-09
Country: US
Author: Kim Dixon

WASHINGTON – A top Obama Administration official said the U.S. oil and gas industry will survive a proposed repeal of billions of dollars tax preferences and there will be an insignificant impact on worldwide prices.

Current tax breaks for oil and gas production distort the market, leading to over-investment in domestic fossil fuel production, Alan Krueger, Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy and Chief Economist, U.S. Department of Treasury, told a an energy subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee.

“Because there will be little to no effect on the world supply of oil, removing these subsidies would have an insignificant impact on world oil prices,” Krueger told the panel.

President Barack Obama’s proposed budget for the 2010 spending year includes ending tax breaks for oil and gas companies expected to raise more than $30 billion over 10 years.

A report issued this week by the Joint Committee on Taxation also said the proposals are likely to have no impact on world oil or gas prices. Still, the bipartisan Senate-House panel said there was no guarantee the policies would lead to a shift to renewable energy sources, an Administration goal.

Under the most dire scenario where domestic producers shifted all costs to consumers, removing the breaks could result in a one cent per gallon increase in the cost of oil, or a one percent increase in natural gas prices, Krueger said.

The American Petroleum Institute, which represents giants such as BP America and Chevron Corp, argued the proposals, with others planned by the White House, amount to $80 billion the industry would lose over a decade.

“The proposals are aimed at crippling our industry,” said Larry Nichols, chief executive of Devon Energy Corp and chairman of the industry group, calling any effort to reduce domestic production of oil and gas “absurd.”

He warned of higher consumer prices and job losses if the proposals go forward.

“We need to ask if the proposal would cause more than a negligible increase in consumer prices,” subcommittee Chairman Jeff Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat.

The state employs about 23,000 people in the oil and gas industries.

Stephen Brown, a fellow at the nonpartisan research group Resources for the Future, said eliminating the tax breaks would amount to less than one percent of the industry’s $3.4 trillion in estimated annual revenue for the period.

A small drop in U.S. oil consumption should help energy security, by cutting the exposure to oil price shocks, he said.

“The near record-high prices that are projected for oil and natural gas over future years suggest that free markets will provide sufficient encouragement” for domestic production, Brown added.

Obama’s plan would levy an excise tax on oil and natural gas produced in the Gulf of Mexico, raising $5.3 billion in revenue from 2011 to 2019. This 13 percent tax on all oil and gas production in the Gulf would only affect those companies enjoying a loophole that allows them to avoid paying royalties on the energy supplies they drill. Companies already paying royalties would get a tax credit.

Obama’s budget would also place a $4 per acre annual fee on non-producing energy leases in the Gulf. The budget proposal expects the fee to generate $1.2 billion from 2010 to 2019.

The administration is also considering putting an excise tax on oil and gas produced offshore.

Several panel Republicans derided Krueger for what they called pursuing a goal of reduced domestic energy production.

“I wasn’t aware that overproduction of American-made energy is a problem,” Jim Bunning of Kentucky, the ranking Republican on the subcommittee said.

Krueger said the administration’s goal is to have resources invested to yield the highest social return, taking into account environmental harm caused by the release of greenhouse gases associated with oil and gas production.

(Editing by Andre Grenon)

Model Forest Policy Program

FREE TELESEMINAR: Register Here

Why are forests so vital in solving the climate crisis

and protecting our communities?

You’re invited to a free 60 minute telephone seminar where staff from the Model Forest Policy Program, will discuss the often ignored climate solution: forests. Learn why forests are so vital in protecting citizens from impacts of climate change and what’s the cost of not preserving their natural “services”…or doing nothing?

Use this seminar to build your case to decision makers and the public. Choose one of the dates below:

Monday August 31 Scheduled Start Time: 9:00 P.M. Eastern, 6:00 P.M. Pacific
Wednesday Sept 9 Scheduled Start Time: 3:00 P.M. Eastern, 12:00 P.M. Pacific
Thursday Sept 17 Scheduled Start Time: 2:00 P.M. Eastern, 11:00 A.M Pacific

Here’s what you’ll take away from the 1-Hour Teleseminar:

  • Clearer understanding of critical role of forests in protecting citizens from flooding, drought and increasing CO2 levels.
  • Questions answered about your community’s forest and water climate planning problems.
  • The synergy of multiple communities tackling these issues together.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • The top 5 reasons you need to address forest conservation locally.
  • Facts YOU can use to make the case for conserving your local forests.
  • Learn from success stories and failures.
  • Learn how to position your community to get future funding for climate planning.

This information is needed now by your community so don’t miss out on this free presentation.

http://mfpp.org/teleconference.html Copy and paste this link into your browser.

Here are the experts on the call:

Toby Thaler, JD, has over thirty years experience in forestry and related natural resource management issues in the Northwest. He has worked for a broad range of clients-Tribes, public interest groups, local governments-to promote sustainable resource management policies, including forest practices and forest land conservation, shoreline and water resource management.

William Paddock is a sustainability expert who works with local government and business clients on the implementation of sustainable practices and strategies. William is the Cookeville, TN, Project Director helping that region create a forest water climate action plan. William holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Alabama and a MBA in Sustainability from the Institute for Sustainable Practice at Lipscomb University.

Nancy Gilliam, PhD., has helped over 5,000 landowners implement sustainable forestry practices. She initiated the Virginia General Assembly’s study of forest health. Nancy founded the Model Forest Policy Program in 2000 due to proliferation of chip mills in the south and lack of forest policy. She has worked with state and local government officials in VA, TN, ID, and WA guiding model forest policy development and education.

Todd Crossett, MA, has over fifteen years experience in government relations, strategic planning, facilitation, organizational development, project management and advocacy for sustainable practices. Todd served for two years as County Commissioner introducing groundbreaking water protective land use codes in conservative North Idaho.

Gwen Griffith, MA, DMV, program director in sustainable building and low impact development, brings the watershed perspective to the work of climate change mitigation and adaptation. She takes the continuum of care approach from land use planning to smart growth to green building to low impact landscaping to efficient site management. She provides in-depth education on the energy, water, climate connection with an emphasis on water efficiency and source water protection.

Thanks for registering!

Nancy Gilliam

Executive Director

P.S. Any problems registering, call me (509) 432-8679, or email me at ngilliam@mfpp.org

protect me

protect me

Target: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar
Sponsored by: Care2

Global warming is changing the ecology of the Arctic Ocean – and the effects on the inhabitants of the Arctic are just starting to come to light. A just-released research report links vanishing sea ice to a shocking rise in mercury levels in ringed seals.

Cod are a very mercury-contaminated species – and a favorite of ringed seals during the ice-free season. Because the ice-free season is becoming longer and longer due to global warming, researchers say, the feeding season for ringed seals is also becoming longer – and as a consequence, the seals are taking in too much mercury.

The mercury contamination will only get worse for the Arctic ringed seal unless we start to seriously address global warming! More research is needed to see just how the transfer of mercury in the food web is being affected by global warming. Urge Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to ensure his department puts resources behind investigating the impact of global warming on seals and other marine life.

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