Tag Archives: BP

Friday Linkage 3/29/2019

Spring is here.  Sure, Iowa may see a few more nights below freezing but for the most part it is on to planting and cleaning.  So much cleaning.  If only there was a way to KonMarie my yard work.

On to the links…

2 Years after Tax Bill’s Passage, Corporate Tax Revenue has Plummeted—Cue Republicans to tell us how we cannot afford Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the defense budget…oh wait, not the defense budget…because the deficits are a threat to our national security.

Recording Reveals Oil Executives Laughing About “Unprecedented Access” to Trump—It’s a pay for play day in the White House every day.

BP Lobbied Trump Administration to Roll Back Key US Climate Rules—Nothing like a foreign company getting cozy with our corrupt president to influence policy in favor of profits over protecting American citizens.  The Republican way…profits over people.

US Banks Pledged to Fund Renewable Energy, But They Still Spend Way More on Fossil Fuels—Banks are nothing more than the financial arm of the same many tentacled beast that also concerns fossil fuels.  It is one system that protects itself at all costs.

US Coal Generation Expected To Continue Steady Decline, Claims EIA—Trump cannot save coal.  He can bluster and bully all he wants but the economics and politics do not line up in such a way to make this a winnable fight.  Now, he will probably double down on claims that he is the most pro-coal president in history in a lame attempt to shore up support in rural areas.

It’s Cheaper to Replace Most Coal Plants with Renewables than Keep Them Open—This is why coal is in so much trouble.  For less money you can generate electricity that has none of coal’s baggage.  It’s like a death cross in finance.

Forget Tesla, It’s China’s E-Buses That Are Denting Oil Demand—China is all in on electric busses.  Personal EVs may get a lot of the press around the world but the humble electric bus may actually hold more of the secret to our climate salvation.  This is the critical point:

Buses matter more because of their size and constant use. For every 1,000 electric buses on the road, 500 barrels of diesel are displaced each day, BloombergNEF estimates. By comparison, 1,000 battery electric vehicles remove just 15 barrels of oil demand.

Missouri Greenlights Massive New Wind Power Transmission Project—To get wind energy from windy rural America to urban America we need more transmission lines.  It tells you everything that you need to know when red states will fight electricity transmission lines but go gangbusters for oil and gas pipelines.

Scientists Found Worrisome New Evidence About Roundup and Cancer—Remember, this is the pesticide that is sprayed indiscriminately on Roundup Ready crops like corn and soybeans.  If you live in a corn or soybean producing state you have been exposed.

Climate Change Is Already Reshaping How We Farm—Rural areas are on the front lines of climate change because so many of these areas depend on agriculture.  Farmers are already having to adapt to climate change whether politicians in Washington D.C. want to admit it or not.

Impossible Burger 2.0 Produces 89% Less Emissions than Beef—I have had the Impossible Burger 1.0 and it is a pretty damn good facsimile of an actual beef patty.  The 2.0 version is supposed to be an even closer facsimile.  Now imagine a world where we replace all meat hamburgers with Impossible Burgers.  What would that look like from an emissions reduction perspective?

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Friday Linkage 4/24/2015

Earth Day came and went. I hardly even noticed save for some really shameless corporate greenwashing and lame ass ads about “going green.” Not using plastic t-shirt bags and single use bottles is great, but there are much larger problems that we fail to start a conversation about and these are the problems that threaten our very survival.

On to the links…

The Deepwater Horizon Disaster Was Five Years Ago Today. Here’s What We Still Don’t Know.—On April 20th of 2010 the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and began spewing oil. It was one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history. The scariest part is that we have little to no idea about the long term impacts of all that oil in the gulf. Heck, we wonder where some of it even went.

Idaho’s Panther Creek Comes Back from the Dead—We have the ability to bring restoration to the landscapes that we have destroyed. It may not be pristine, but it can be better.

Interior Considers Hike in Oil and Gas Royalty Rates—It is critical to remember that we lease lands to oil and gas companies out of the public trust for low rates. Not only do these companies enjoy generous subsidies and are not required to compensate anyone for the externalities associated with fossil fuels, our government allows them to do it for a rate far below what the market would bear.

Conservatives Upset At Pope’s ‘Green Agenda’—The Catholic Church may be behind the times on a lot of issues, but it is amazing to see the transformation of tone under Pope Francis. The conservatives of the world who used the Catholic Church as a common ally in all things retrograde are flipping a gasket that the pope would talk about things like poverty and equity.

Emissions, Economic Growth Parting Ways—The lockstep rise in emissions and economic growth was one of those economic laws you just figured on. When emissions went down it was usually because the economy was in a recession. The reverse being true when emissions went up. Data suggests that this linkage may be broken.

How Solar Got Cheap—A lot of factors went into making this dramatic drop in costs happen. Take fifteen minutes and listen.

SolarCity Gets Help From Credit Suisse To Finance Over $1 Billion In Commercial Solar + Storage Projects—Solar plus storage is going to be the next big development in distributed renewables. Mark my words. Or better yet, mark Elon Musk’s words.

Tesla’s New Battery Could Solve One of Solar Power’s Biggest Problems—Everyone is anticipating that on April 30th Tesla will announce the development of a battery meant to store power generated at a home. It might be a game changer.

China’s Risen Energy Lands 1.2 GW Solar Power Deal In Inner Mongolia—Even Inner Mongolia is getting on the solar PV bandwagon.

Ghana Off-Grid Households To Benefit From 100,000 Solar PV Systems—In the developing world solar and other distributed renewables have the chance to leapfrog the centralized power grid paradigm of western economies.

300 MW Of Solar Connected To UK Grid In March By Schneider Electric—Remember for a moment that these are numbers coming from one company in one country that is not known for its great solar resources. It would have not been too long ago that the announcement of 300MW of solar capacity would have been cheered. Now it is barely noticed.

We Can’t Let John Deere Destroy the Very Idea of Ownership—All companies that sell you products want to make it a rental economy because that guarantees a stream of revenue. If they can prevent you from customizing or repairing your items than you do not really own them. You are just renting them from The Man.

Inside the Hellscape Where Our Computers Go to Die—The western world’s e-waste is out of sight and out of mind. However, someone ends up dealing with the waste and trying to make a living from whatever value can be extracted despite the huge environmental and health cost.

Friday Linkage 4/25/2014

I think that I hate Earth Day. I do not hate the fact that for at least one day people might pay attention to the environment. I hate the fact that it is usually observed in the most superficial ways. Look, I recycled my plastic water bottle. Big whoop, you shouldn’t be using a single use water bottle in the first place. Ugh.

On to the links…

11 Wins For The Environment Since Last Year’s Earth Day—Too often we focus on the bad things going on in the environment or to the environment. Sometimes we need to reflect on the good things.

America’s Urban Future—It would seem odd to anyone who was awake during the 1980s that America’s future might be in its cities. Just the pop culture references alone elicit memories of failing cities, corrupt governments, and general decay. Now it is where the most dynamic communities exist. Interesting.

A Polluted Superfund Site Is Now Home To 36,000 Solar Panels—Every time that I see a solar project go up in a green field development I want to puke. There are so many brown fields and other sites that could be utilized. Just look out the window on a flight near any major airport and look at the expanses of roofs that could be covered in solar panels. Just look at the video of this landing at LAX. At about the 2:15 mark you really see a lot of roofs that would be perfect.

Solar Roadways Puts up a Parking Lot, Launches Indiegogo Campaign—I want this product on my driveway right now. Think about all of the driveways in the U.S. that could be utilized to produce power. Or parking lots.

Wanna’ Know What Happened to the Gulf Coast Since the BP Spill? Read this Blog—BP may have recently declared cleanup efforts complete, but residents of the region know that it is a much different story. The recovery will play out over decades.

Monsanto GM Soy Is Scarier Than You Think—Basically, GMO soybeans appear to be carrying more chemical residue and are less nutritious. Next.

Swim to Sea? These Salmon Are Catching a Lift—Persistent drought and the modification of river flows, e.g. dams, have led to the requirement for herculean efforts on the part of wildlife management authorities to get salmon to spawning grounds. Isn’t there a better long term solution?

Unsustainable Seafood: A New Crackdown on Illegal Fishing—Apparently, the amount of seafood caught in our oceans is vastly underreported as illegal catches are stripping the seas of fish.

How to Reinvent the School Lunch and Get Kids to Eat Better—I know that there is a lot of attention being focused on the delivery mechanisms and food choices, but I think the number one issue facing the prospect of better school lunches is time. My daughter, who is in kindergarten, gets less than 25 minutes to eat lunch. Who thinks that is a healthy habit?

5 Reasons Why Your Coffee Tastes Bad—Coffee can seem like such a simple beverage, but it is really a complex dance of innumerable variables.

Company Finds New Life for Old Car Batteries—If you have ever replaced a car battery in a car, you know the drill. You have to exchange the battery or pay a fee. Well, here is where batteries go to die in order to be reborn.

Friday Linkage 3/8/2013

It’s always hard to come back from vacation, but it is hard to get back into the swing of things when you leave weather that is mid-70s and sunny for weather that is mid-teens and snowy.  Oh well, it’s the price that I pay for living in Iowa.

On to the links…

AirBot and WaterBot to Democratize Pollution Monitoring—I want both of these!  Now!  Can you imagine the power in unleashing distributed monitoring of pollution in our air and water?  Bring it on.

New York Times Green Blog Bids Adieu—I am going to miss the Green blog on the New York Times, which was unceremoniously killed March 1st.  As other  major outlets cease providing journalistic coverage of environmental news I can only shudder in fear for the hackery that will follow.

A Snapshot of Drilling on a Park’s Edges—On the edges of Glacier National Park there is a boom in fracking and drilling for natural gas.  Tony Bynum, a photographer who is known for his work in Big Sky Country, has created an interactive map to show what is going on.  It’s a fitting goodbye post for Green.

China Must Send a Clear Message to Consumers on Ivory Trade—I am going to get this out there right away, China is essentially the bane of wildlife’s existence right now.  If there is an endangered species out there right now, it’s threat is usually a result of demand for body parts in China for some bizarre cultural tradition, invented or otherwise.  Granted, other countries are doing the same thing—I am looking at you Japan when it comes to whales and dolphins—but China is a common enemy of wildlife.

Images of Japan’s Barren Tsunami Coast Two Years Later—It’s amazing how little progress has been made in repairing the damage to the coast of Japan following the devastating tsunami.  I understand that the process is long—trust me, Cedar Rapids just now feels like it is getting back to normal after a brutal flood in the summer of 2008—but it seems like Japan is just caught in stasis.

Solar PV has Reached Unsubsidized Grid Parity in India and Italy—You want your mind blown?  Solar PV is now at a price level where it is competing “even Stevens” with fossil fuels.  It’s an inflection point that may accelerate the decarbonisation of our energy system.

Coal Use Declining in U.S., Going Up Everywhere Else—The U.S. is reaping the fruit of its boom in natural gas by supplanting coal generation, but a lot of the rest of the world is not so “lucky.”

BP Bows Out of Solar—Does anyone remember when British Petroleum was going “beyond petroleum?”  Yep, it’s pretty much a dead campaign now.  At least the outlook for solar as an industry, on the whole, is looking good.

Lancaster, California Requires all New Homes to Have Solar Roofs—Talk about a bright spot.  If you build a new house in Lancaster, California it will have, at a minimum, a 1kw solar array on its roof.  Homes on larger lots will be required to have larger systems.  Dig it.

The Loophole That’s Letting Conservatives Manipulate Renewable Energy Standards—Why do conservatives, in general, hate renewable energy?  It seems like a “win-win” for the U.S. to produce as much of its power from domestic sources that can never run out.  However, nothing lines the pockets like manna from Exxon-Mobil.

CREE LED Light Bulb Hits Price Point—Is $10 per bulb the price point at which LED bulbs fly off the shelves?  I have purchased “off brand” LEDS for about $10 and found their performance to be acceptable, but nothing like the $40 or so bulbs I bought for a pair of high use lamps.  Maybe CREE has cracked the ceiling or floor, as it were.

In A Grain Of Golden Rice, A World Of Controversy Over GMO Foods—I have a problem coming to grips with the role of genetically modified organisms.  On one hand, it seems ridiculous to engineer an organisms genetic structure to make it resistant to herbicides to further a chemical farming regime that is unsustainable.  On the other hand, if something could be done to reduce the incidence of critical malnutrition there may be value.  I hate nuance.

A Cheat Sheet to Win Climate Arguments—Keep this handy infographic ready to joust with climate deniers:

climate-flowchart_final2

Friday Linkage 11/23/2012

Well, it’s Black Friday.  Are you avoiding the insanity of America’s unofficial holiday devoted to shopping?  I know I am.

Talking Turkey with Michael Pollan—Michael Pollan may be one of the most “overexposed” members of the modern food movement, but what he says is usually insightful.  On a day when most people are out hoarding consumer goods and stuffing their mouths with nasty fast food it’s a nice reminder of some other avenues.

Film Documents Americans Who Reap an Amazing Harvest from Waste—It’s Black Friday, but it’s also the perfect time to think about just how much stuff we waste in the United States.  The documentary “Spoils” shows this waste in Technicolor.  Dig it.

Ten Reasons a Carbon Tax is Trickier than You Think—A carbon tax, in my honest opinion, is a non-starter in the U.S. because taxes have become a dirty word in politics.  Never mind that we currently use the tax system to discourage certain behaviors and promote others already.

Why Hundreds More U.S. Coal Plants are Ripe for Retirement—Maybe some real progress can be made in the coming years to shut down some of these behemoths.  Granted, the replacement capacity will probably come from natural gas generation due to the death of the wind production tax credit.  That is unless Republicans get their heads out of their own asses and do something…oh wait, the leadership is still comprised of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell.

India’s Solar Revolution: Why Small is Big—I have seen a lot of stories and analysis that point to India as an emerging lab for solar technologies that are distributed because India’s grid is creaky, unreliable, and run by corrupt companies.  In essence, the hope is that India can leapfrog the centralized grid entirely for large swaths of its undeveloped countryside.

Feed Your Passion for Fixing Stuff with Sugru—I do not know if I would actually use this stuff or how it even works, but I am intrigued.  I might just have to buy some for my toolbox.

Where Will the Money Go from the BP Settlement—Besides to the lawyers.

Let Go of the Weedkiller and Learn to Love Weeding—Weeding never seemed like much of a chore to me.  You get the spend time outdoors in a generally low key way.  When you are done there is a bucket of material for the compost bin and the garden beds look nice.  Where is the problem here?

Utah State Goes Ahead with Wireless EV Charging—Damn, if you do not think that this is cool…well, I don’t know what is cool.  It finally seems like we are getting some momentum on having a portfolio of options for transportation power other than unleaded or diesel.

Innovative Projects Show the Promise of Geothermal—This really gets to the idea of finding the highest returns possible for an investment in technology.  Sure, slapping photovoltaic panels on a roof seems like the best way to deploy capital but there are a host of other technologies that might save more money and reduce impact more.

The Extraordinary Effort to Save Sockeye Salmon—This is a really fascinating look into the entire regime dedicated to preserving the salmon species in the northwest U.S.  Maybe the solution of returning our rivers to their more natural state is a better deployment of capital.  Just saying.

Who runs he show?

On July 26th, 2011 Tim DeChristopher, an environmentalist who was made famous as Bidder 70 for exposing the shenanigans of oil and gas leasing under the George W. Bush regime by driving up bids for rights in Utah in 2008, was sentenced to 2 years in prison, 3 years of probation, and a $10,000 fine by United States District Judge Dee Benson.  According to reports, federal prosecutors did not ask for the maximum sentence of 10 years in prison but did request a significant sentence that would act as a deterrent to others.

At the sentencing, DeChristopher had already been found guilty, he said “You have authority over my life, but not my principles. Those are mine.  I’ll continue to confront the system that threatens our future.”

So, the government of the United States of America wants to punish a 29 year old wilderness guide who committed an act of civil disobedience where no one was injured, no property was damaged, and no apparent impediment to the business of fossil fuel extraction occurred—Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar overturned the results of the auction due to an inadequate review of the parcels—in order to serve as a deterrent.  If I accept this logic on principle—which I do not—it begs the question: Where are the other prosecutions to act as deterrents?

On April 10, 2010 an explosion at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia killed 29 people.  An investigation would find that Massey Energy was directly responsible for the blast and subsequent investigations would find that the company had a long-running practice of maintaining two sets of safety records—one set for the regulators and one set that told the truth.  Granted, some investigations are still ongoing regarding this case and company, but where is the righteous indignation on the part of the United States federal government?  Where is the punishment to act as a deterrent so that a mining company does not act in such a way that it kills its own employees?

On April 20, 2010 an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon deep water drilling rig owned by Transocean killed 11 people and injured 16 others.  The subsequent oil spill damaged huge swaths of the eco-system of the Gulf of Mexico and the impact is still being calculated, but is expected to be second only to the disaster of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s.  Transocean and BP, which hired Transocean to operate the Deepwater Horizon, both had checkered safety records in the Gulf of Mexico.  Investigations into the Deepwater Horizon explosion found a culture of disobedience to safety protocols that ultimately led to the explosion.  Like the Upper Big Branch mine disaster, investigation and litigation surrounding the disaster are ongoing and measured in decade timescales—all the better to suit corporations that can slowly bleed plaintiffs dry of money, hope, and desire.  Where is the United States federal government’s desire to create a deterrant so that companies do not behave in a negligent manner, kill their employees, and unleash an environmental disaster almost without peer?

It is one thing to kill your employees and damage the environment, but when a person stands up to the profits of the oil and gas industry by exposing a flawed auction that was recognized as such later it requires the full force of the federal government’s attention and ire.  Shameful.