Friday Linkage 5/2/2014

The “best” part about having minor elective surgery is that you get to spend a lot of time catching up on your DVR backlist and the books that have started reproducing in a corner by your bookshelves. I must have read for something like ten hours a day after surgery. Damn.

On to the links…

Supreme Court Backs Rule Limiting Coal Pollution—This is a big deal because it means that the executive branch, through the EPA, can issue rules that restrict the pollution from coal burning plants. I think it also sets the stage for a series of discussions about the externalities of other polluting industries.

U.S. Solar Capacity Grew 418 Percent In The Last Four Years—The drumbeat of bad news is pretty incessant, but there are some glimmers or flickers of hope. Solar PV is hot. Like Paris Hilton hot back in the day.

How Solar Energy Cuts Electric Grid Costs—Distributed electrical generation usually means that electricity is produced near where it is consumed so you do not require extensive transmission networks to move power from a single generation source to multiple consumption points. Also, you do not lose as much energy in transmission. Win-win baby!

Arizona May Impose Unusual New Tax On Customers Who Lease Solar Panels—Just when you thought the battle over residential solar PV had been won in Arizona the power plant lobby came in with an end around. Nothing like resorting to legalese and arcane property law to get what you want.

A Ghost Town, Going Green—Does the Mojave Desert attract some strange cats. There is something about the high desert air that contributes to strange flights of fancy.

Renewable Energy Policy in Europe is Faltering—What I took away from this report is that consistency is key to the development of alternative and renewable energy. You need a consistent regulatory and tax regime to ensure investment. Take that stability away and investment dries up. Very simple.

EPA says Automakers Ahead of Schedule for 54.5 MPG by 2025—The number can be misleading because CAFÉ is a number that is figured across a fleet and there are vehicles that count more, etc. However, the good news is that our fleet, in general, is getting more efficient.

In Florida Tomato Fields, a Penny Buys Progress—I have profiled a book that featured the workers in Immokalee, Florida—Barry Estabrook’s excellent Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit—and it looks like campaigns to improve the conditions in the tomato fields might actually bear fruit. Pun totally intended.

Is There a Sustainable Future for America’s Most Popular Seafood?—We eat a lot of freakin’ shrimp in the U.S. Like tons and tons of the stuff. We actually eat 600,000 tons annually, so we eat like hundreds of thousands of tons. Is our appetite for these little guys ever going to be sustainable?

The Coffee Industry Is Worse Than Ever For The Environment—This makes me feel like garbage. While I do not eat much meat or seafood, I drink a lot of coffee. If you drink non-shade grown coffee you are part of the problem. Coffee grown in direct sunlight is no different than endless fields of corn or destructive palm oil plantations.

Taco Bell Reveals Its Mystery Beef Ingredients—Taco Bell has finally answered the question about what was in the other 12% of its meat filling, but I do not think that has really answered the question well. Why does there need to be 12% of other stuff in something called meat? When I make taco filling at home for a quick dinner it consists of ground meat and a few tablespoons of spices.

Why You Should be Eating More Wild Pigs Right Now—Feral pigs are a big problem. Texas gets the lion’s share of attention when it comes to the problem because that state has been overrun, but these beasts have caused problems in Minnesota and Wisconsin. I would love to dine on some feral pig bacon.

A Partnership to Help the Tallest Residents in Yosemite Park—We do not fund our national park system to an adequate degree. Every election cycle politicians for national office will talk about doing more, but it always dies on the vine. I am glad to see a private-public partnership that is trying to help the situation.

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