Tag Archives: coal

Friday Linkage 2/15/2019

It’s not a polar vortex in February, but for some reason I would take the cold temperatures over what we have had the past two weeks.  How does an inch or so of ice that gets topped off with nearly a foot of snow and capped with a little wintry mix?  Add in the drifting from 40 mile per hour winds and temperatures that swing thirty degrees in a twenty four hour period.  That is what February has been like so far in eastern Iowa.

Now you know why I am dreaming of spring.

On to the links…

Uniquely American’: Senate Passes Landmark Bill to Enlarge National Parks—Good things can happen.  This is an unalloyed win for advocates of public lands.  Granted, it still requires a signature from individual number 1 but I have to imagine that even he is inclined to go with the flow on this.

What’s Missing from the Green New Deal—I think that the most important thing is that we are having a conversation about the Green New Deal.  Could you imagine this happening just two years ago following Trump’s “victory” and the ascension of a completely Republican controlled Washington D.C.?  Nope.

Priorities: Where Do You Start with the Green New Deal?—If it were me, I would start with a nationwide reforestation effort focused on degraded lands.  It could be lands impacted by mining in Appalachia, beetle kill in Colorado, and wildfire in California.

Is Renewables’ Production Tax Credit Bullet Proof?—I have to imagine that in this political climate the production tax credit for renewables is going to get renewed past 2020.  Some red state Republicans support the PTC and Democrats are in favor, so the odds are favorable.

Trump Administration will try to Exempt Specialty Bulbs from Energy Efficiency Standards—Of course the Trump administration will try to roll back new energy efficiency standards.  Try is the operative word.  BTW, can we just kill the Edison bulb trend?

USDA says Filler once Known as ‘Pink Slime’ can be Labeled Ground Beef—Of course the USDA would allow pink slime to be labelled as ground beef.  It is like we live in a dystopia where the president feeds visitors to the White House fast food…oh shit, we do live in Idiocracy now.  Damn.

China is polluting California’s air—Pollution is both local and global.  The air may be horrible in China and India, but those same pollutants will impact other countries.  Even countries an ocean away.  Just because we have outsourced our pollution does not mean that we have avoided our pollution.

Coal Developers Take Note: Climate Change Killed This Coal Mine—Climate change is real and people are really starting to take notice.  If a judge uses this as a reason to stop coal development we may have finally turned a corner.

War on Plastics May Stunt Oil Demand Growth Projections—Take a look at the chart:

Plastic Pie Chart.jpg

Thirty six percent of the demand for plastic is for packaging.  Buy less stuff to save money and reduce the demand for disposable plastic.

Another Way To Power Electric Cars: “Refillable Technology”—Flow batteries and related technologies, which this particular article deals with, seem like a great way to get around the problem of quickly charging EVs.  I wonder if there is a way to get the best of both worlds.  Make an EV that you charge at home most days, but have the option of refilling with charged electrolyte when on a trip far from home.

How EV HVAC Use Impacts Range Much More Than Extreme Temps—If there is a negative article about EVs you can bet the press is going to pounce.  Here is the thing, even with reduced range an EV will handle your daily commute.  Why is this even a story anymore?  And another thing, where were the articles about traditional ICE cars not being able to start in the polar vortex?

California to Transition to 100 Percent Electric Buses by 2040—Why can’t we make this a goal for 2030?  If transitioning 12,000 busses is the equivalent of 4 million cars we should be all over this effort.

Bottle Recycling in Oregon Hits 90 Percent Record High—I live in a state with a bottle deposit law and it works.  I imagine that if we adopted a nationwide ten cents per bottle deposit law that recycling rates for cans and bottles would increase accordingly.

How Big-Box Stores Bilk Local Governments—Here is why our governments—local, state, and federal—do not have the money to implement programs people care about: businesses have manipulated the tax code with loopholes to avoid paying any tax.

Solar Jobs Climb in Iowa—Most of the news around solar in the U.S. has been a downer lately as the Trump tariffs have bitten the industry.  However, Iowa solar jobs were up which is a good thing.

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Friday Linkage 2/8/2019

A little light on the links this week because my day job has had me sequestered in an off site meeting for four days and the weather here in eastern Iowa has decided to take a turn for the worst.  For anyone who doubts the impact severe weather as a result of climate change will have on our society and economy look no further than where I live for the past two weeks.  Polar vortex followed by ice and wind is a recipe for two long weeks with cooped up kids.

On to the links…

This Coal Baron No Longer Needs a Lobbying Firm Now That His Favorite Lobbyist Is Head of the EPA—Andrew Wheeler is a stooge of industry.  The coal industry is the Trump administration.  However, when the Trump administration is no longer in office there will not receptive ears for its dated message.

Don’t Worry About Coal, Electric Cars are Still Cleaner—EVs are inherently efficient.  Even when powered with coal, EVs are a better transportation option versus an internal combustion engine.  I think I did this math already.

8% Plug-In Electric Vehicle Market Share In China—Eight percent is a big number.

WattTime Brings Automatic Emissions Reduction To EV Drivers—Here is why this is a great product: it can not only help EV drivers use electricity generated from renewable sources, but it can help level load demand on the grid.

Florida Power & Light Plans For 30 Million Solar Panels By 2030—Generally, the news coming out of Florida is negative when it comes to renewable energy.  Not so much this time.

The Polar Vortex is Showing People just how Poorly Insulated their Homes are—No matter how many times people talk about it no one actually listens.  Our homes are a major source of energy use and there are easy gains to be made doing things like sealing and insulating our homes.

Texas Car Dealer Installs 1 Megawatt Solar Canopy—Why aren’t we installing these types of systems on every car dealership and parking lot across the United States?

Vegan Magnum’s Launch a Sign of an ‘Increasing Problem for the Dairy Industry’—If we get to a point where we can have an animal free dairy like product that approximates the real thing than why bother with the animal based product that is the result of a flawed agricultural system?  There really is not a reason to choose the real dairy option.

Friday Linkage 1/25/2019

The partial government shutdown is about to enter its sixth week.  It is already the longest such shutdown in the history of the United States.  It is also case study #1 of what happens when you elect people to run the government who have a professed hatred of the government providing any services whatsoever.

In some ways I feel that this shutdown is the fever dream of people like Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan.  Without a functioning government they can go on Fox News and tell everyone that America soldiers on.  Just wait until Sean Hannity starts a special on how the shutdown is proof positive that the federal government is unnecessary.

On to the links…

Why We Won’t Quit the Climate Fight—We will not quit in a fit of despair because to quit would be to admit defeat.  And defeat in this case is not an option.

Could a Green New Deal Save Civilization?—I believe that the idea of the Green New Deal has the possibility to be a Trojan horse for so many progressive ideas.  Clean energy, modernized mass transit, smart development, etc.

New Proposal Aims To Make Legacy FDR Works Project The Flagship Of A Green New Deal—The thing about the Green New Deal that excites me the most is that we can begin to execute many of the proposed ideas without a single new government agency or program.  Heck, some of it is still in place since the last New Deal.

72% of Americans are ‘Very Worried’ about Climate Change—People are worried.  People want solutions.

Idaho’s New Governor: ‘Climate change is real’—The worm has turned on climate change.  You cannot be a reasonable, notice I said reasonable, politician in the United States and not recognize the impact of climate change.

Why There’s No Bringing Coal Back—Here is another reason why coal is not coming back: Donald Trump.  The industry hitched its wagon to the man who will be remembered as one of the worst presidents in U.S. history.

The Trump Administration Keeps Taking Care of Big Oil—The Trump administration is making sure that Big Oil is taken care of at all times.

Zinke Leaves Unfinished Business at the Interior Department—The best that we can hope for is that in less than two years we can begin to unwind the damage done to the United States.  This sums up the course of action: “Many of the actions taken by the administration have been done through secretarial orders, internal memos and staffing decisions, many of which can be reversed on day one of a new administration.”

The Invisible Energy Bonanza: Creating Wealth Out Of Nothing—If we really wanted to we could save a proverbial buttload of baseload power just by focusing on not using so god damned much energy.  It is not rocket science.

Colorado Mandates Electric Vehicle Sales, State Dealers Association Angry—Do you know why the dealers are angry?  No service on electric vehicles.  No oil changes at regular intervals.  No fuel filters, air filters, spark plugs, timing belts, etc. to change.  No water pump to replace art 100K miles for the low, low price of $1K.  It’s pretty much rotate the tires, check the wiper blades, and send you on your way with an EV.

Of New Power Generation, How Much Is On The Roof? Quarterly Update — 2018 Q3—There are so many roofs without solar panels.  So much room to grow.

San Diego Has Vast Solar Parking Lot Potential—What locale in the U.S. does not have a lot of solar parking lot potential?  Boston, ok.  New York City, ok.  Just about everyone else.

Renewables In Britain To Overtake Fossil Fuels By 2020—Remember when renewables were only capable of providing a sliver of power generation according to the experts?  Remember when the ceiling was probably ten percent of total power generation according to the experts?

74% Of India’s New Power Capacity Addition In 2018 Was Renewables—It would be better if it were 100%, but I will take it.

US Coal Retirements In 2019 To Hit At Least 6 Gigawatts—This has to be a kick in the gonads for Trump and his coal baron cabinet.

10 Ways Beer Drinking Will Change in 2019—This is the year that I think we will see some major closures in the craft beer space.  My prediction is that one or two of the mid-tier brewers will close or consolidate this year because growth has not kept pace with expansion.

A Bit of Meat, a Lot of Veg – the Flexitarian Diet to Feed 10bn—It is not like this idea is very new.

How To Make Sure Your Recycling Gets Recycled—You would not believe the stuff I see in my neighborhood recycling bins every Thursday.  Resin chairs, check.  All manner of oversized items, check.  This is why recycling does not work in the United States.

Friday Linkage 1/11/2019

The “upside” of the partial federal government shutdown is that agencies run by Trumpian golems cannot work overtime to destroy our land, water, and air.  Trust me, if given the opportunity the EPA under Wheeler would like to redefine mercury as a dietary supplement and the BLM would like to put a fracking pad in every backyard.

On to the links…

How We can Combat Climate Change—The fact that opinion pieces like this are appearing in major American newspapers and other news outlets has me hopeful that this marks the point in time when we, collectively as a species, start to really tackle climate change.

2018 Was A “Fulcrum Year” For Renewable Energy In The US—We can hope that 2018 marked the point when renewable energy became the default choice for utilities and consumers.  Everything after is just math.

The EPA Hired GOP Oppo Firm Because It Was Sick of “Fake News”—You have to love modern Republicans under Trump.  Their world view is set and anything that does not conform to that world view is “fake news.”  Is 2020 going to be another bloodbath for the Republican party?

5% of US Coal Fleet Retired Last Year—Trump can bluster.  Trump can bellow.  Trump can hold all the rallies he wants wearing hard hearts, point to signs about how he “digs” coal, and soothe the audience with his slow jam about beautiful coal.  He cannot, however, stop the inevitable decline of the use of coal as a fuel for producing electricity.

More Coal Plants Shut Down in Trump’s First Two Years than in Obama’s Entire First Term—See, Trump is better than Obama.

Colorado could Save $2.5 Billion by Rapidly Shutting Down its Coal Power Plants—That is $2.5 billion dollars.  That is before accounting for things like externalities which currently do not figure into the economics of running a coal plant.

Texas’s Wind and Sunlight Complement Each Other Exceptionally Well. That’s Huge for its Grid.—The idea here is that Texas can get over the problem of intermittent renewable energy by deploying more renewable energy that happens to be complementary.

With Vineyard Wind, the U.S. Finally Goes Big on Offshore Wind Power—Offshore wind power can bring cheap, reliable green energy to the eastern seaboard of the United States.  At 6.5 cents per kWh this project is cost competitive with coal and natural gas today.  Furthermore, without the possibility of increases in fuel prices—just wait for the next natural gas price spike—these low prices are essentially locked in.

Why Solar Panels Should Go From Rooftops to Mountaintops—Maybe the answer is to deploy more solar wherever we can?

A Major Climate Treaty to Reduce Air Conditioning Emissions Just Went Into Force—Without the U.S.—These are the kinds of efforts that the U.S. needs to be supporting.  However, Trump hears the words treaty and assumes that the U.S. is “losing.”

Why Efforts to Make Buildings Greener Fail—I am beginning to think that any building that starts out with the promise of being “green” is just a temporary charade.

Dutch Eco Initiative Halves Energy Bills in First UK Homes—Even though so-called green building fail to meet their promise so often does not mean that there is not great potential to make our existing fleet of buildings so much more efficient.  Remember, every kWh saved is one less that we have to generate with renewables.  We can get to 100% renewable energy by deploying more sources and reducing our consumption.

Is Organic Food Over?—I feel like this headline is a decade late.  Organic has been coopted by big food and there is no looking back.  This gets to why knowing who the producer of your food is so important if you want to align your values with your consumption.

Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Ski Venue Set To Be Demolished—This move was planned before the Olympics, but the waste is just amazing.  The Olympics, as an event, should be killed.

Bar Soap is Making a Glorious Comeback—Millenials can’t kill bar soap because bar soap is the killer app of getting clean.  Leave your loofahs and shower gel at the door.

Friday Linkage 12/14/2018

If you needed another reason to be thankful that Democrats whooped Republicans’ asses in the midterm elections look no further than Iowa’s own Steve King.  During a recent hearing with Google CEO Sundar Pichai, King managed to claim the throne of “biggest asshat in Congress” by actually demanding the names of approximately 1,000 people who worked on the company’s search algorithms.  Yep, a sitting member of Congress just asked a private company for the names and social media profiles of 1,000 employees to check for bias.

Now, I ask Steve King or any of his cronies what law has been broken to make this demand even the least bit tenable?  I will hang up and wait for the answer.

On to the links…

The Best Technology for Fighting Climate Change Isn’t a Technology—It is not just about preserving the forests that remain.  We need to institute a broad effort to regenerate the forests that we have lost.

The EU Could Halve Emissions By 2030 By Acting In Just Three Key Sectors—Cutting carbon emissions is not rocket science.  It is actually a lot like supply chain planning.  You identify the big movers in your supply chain and act accordingly.  If something is responsible for 2% of your supply chain cost you will not spend as much time and effort on it as something that is responsible for 25% of your supply chain cost.

Trump Prepares to Unveil a Vast Reworking of Clean Water Protections—Thanks to the utter ass beating that Republicans took in the midterm election the worst impulses of the Trump regime will be checked.  The latest bad idea to come from the worst presidential administration in U.S. history is just further proof that getting 2020 right is critical.

Getting Interior to Respond to Your FOIA Requests Just Got a Lot Harder—Absolutely nothing says corruption like making it harder for the public to know what is happening within your department.  Ryan Zinke is a corrupt public official.

New House Science Committee Chair to Climate Scientists: We’ve Got Your Back Again—At least there will be one venue in Washington D.C. where science is actually trusted.

Is Nuclear Energy the Key to Saving the Planet?—I do not know what to do with nuclear energy.  Yes, it is carbon free electricity.  However, the legacy of uranium mining in the West is not pretty and the waste is a real problem.

U.S. Coal-Fired Plants Depend on Maintenance Projects as Market Toughens—The economics do not favor coal and the current political climate is making many of the projects toxic.  When Donald Trump is no longer in office who will coal barons go to hat in hand?

Twin Cities’ Metro Transit plans to shift bus fleet to all-electric—Combine electric buses with bus rapid transit and you have an electrified way to move a lot of people without having to spend the time and money to deploy light rail or other infrastructure heavy projects.  If less people are driving for various reasons why not utilize the roads that we have already built?

Good News: Bitcoin is Becoming Worthless—Bitcoin is probably going to be remembered like those Tamagotchi things that seemed to be everywhere for a hot minute and then got lost in junk drawers across America.

From Freecycling to Fairphones: 24 Ways to Lead an Anti-Capitalist Life in a Capitalist World—I do not know if it is anti-capitalist or just a little less consumer focused.  Either way these are not bad ideas to spend a little less time worried about shopping during the holiday season.

The Golden Age of Rich People Not Paying Their Taxes—The pendulum has swung so far in favor the rich that you have to wonder if Donald Trump is the supernova before the inevitable fading.

Friday Linkage 12/7/2018

France and Paris, in particular, are burning because of a protest movement that started off being about fuel taxes but has morphed into something more.  The anger seen in the streets was sparked by a tax but it represents a question about who the modern state serves.

As we have seen in the United States, time and time again, the state is designed to serve the interests of its most privileged citizens at the expense of everyone else.  Don’t believe me?  Look at tax cuts.  Most of the benefits go to the richest 1%.  Sure, those are the people that make the most money so it stands to reason that they would benefit the most.  However, in order to pay for these gifts to the rich everyone else is asked to take a cut in what the state may provide them.  Food stamps?  Sorry, gotta’ get Bezos his tax cut.  Pell grants?  Sorry, Zuckerberg needs to buy another house.

On to the links…

China Is Both the Best and Worst Hope for Clean Energy—This is the world we live in now as the U.S. has ceded leadership of any kind on global issues because of…reasons?  Europe is a mess which threatens to devolve into its preferred path toward fascism.  So, we are left looking to China.  This is problematic.

Almost Half Coal Power Plants Seen Unprofitable to Operate—Well, I can raise a solar panel or eight to that news.

Wall Street Cleans up on ‘Clean Coal’—What are the odds this scam program gets renewed?  I am guessing 100% because what Goldman Sachs wants, Goldman Sachs gets.

The Most Important Country for the Global Climate no one is Talking About—Deforestation is like the “eat your vegetables” of the climate change action plans.  Everyone likes to talk about coal, renewables, electric cars, etc. but the single biggest thing we could do today would be to stop deforestation.

This New NASA Mission Will Create an Unprecedented, 3D Map of Earth’s Forests—It is hard to save the trees if you do not know where the trees are located.

Video Games Consume More Electricity Than 25 Power Plants Can Produce—At what point do we realize that modern life is just one big energy suck?

THE BIG PICTURE: Wind Turbine Trends—Here is the punch line: Bigger and more powerful.  See for yourself:

bp_windturbinesize_december-2018.jpg

How the Food Industry Uses Big Tobacco Tactics to Manipulate the Public—Here’s a public service announcement: Most of the stuff in the grocery store with an ingredient list more than three items long is not good for you.

How the Indigenous Bison Bar was Appropriated—Big food is stealth.  It is incumbent upon you, the consumer, to be educated and make the right choice.

Altria in Talks to Buy Cannabis Company Cronos Group—This is the moment when you know that the legalization of cannabis in the United States is coming.  Altria would not put its money into a market if it thought that federal prohibition was long for this world.

NRA Cuts More Operating Costs—and Lavishes Executives With Perks—This is what collapse looks like.  An organization faced with dwindling resources lavishes its grandees with perks in a final orgy of greed.  This could not happen to a nicer bunch of a-holes.

Amateur Scuba Divers Train to be “Ghost Net Busters”—Ghost nets are a big problem.  I am happy to see people taking the initiative to be part of the solution, but there needs to be some form of regulation that outlaws this kind of dumping.  Think like a deposit system.

Millennials are Killing Canned Tuna, but the Industry is Fighting Back—Dude, can we quit it with all the stuff millennials are supposed to be killing?  Baby boomers do not get blamed for all the stuff they killed, like the planet.

Friday Linkage 11/30/2018

I feel that this article on CNBC.com just about nails the past two years:

Donald Trump’s all-GOP government in Washington ends a two-year run as it began, by struggling to govern at all.

The president who vowed to make America great again has rattled financial markets, reduced farm exports and raised manufacturing costs with his tariff policies. As growth slows, he blames the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates and threatens General Motors for closing plants.

The president who promised law and order, having previously fired the FBI director, fired his attorney general over the Justice Department’s Trump-Russia investigation. The acting attorney general has been openly hostile to the probe.

The president who insisted Mexico would finance a border wall now wants American taxpayers to pay as a condition of keeping their government open. Congress doesn’t intend to build the wall, so the government could shut down next week.

Thus completes the chaotic circle of governance by Trump and the GOP Congress: fanciful promises, contradictory priorities, presidential provocations that Republicans won’t rein in. Voters responded this month by handing the House to Democrats.

Obamacare survived. The better, cheaper Republican alternative never existed.

The infrastructure plan Trump promised business and blue-collar supporters has not materialized. GOP congressional leaders prefer to spend on tax cuts.

Republicans delivered tax cuts, but not as advertised. Proceeds profited the wealthy far more than the middle class and ballooned the budget deficit, with no evidence of giving the economy more than a short-term stimulative boost.

Trump’s abandonment of the fight against climate change has not revived the coal industry, which keeps closing unprofitable facilities. The president answers his own government’s warnings about the climate by saying he doesn’t believe them.

Republican congressional leaders want cuts in Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security to shrink government, reduce deficits and relieve pressure for tax hikes. Trump vows to protect those popular benefits.

Tough executive branch oversight, which preoccupied Obama-era Republicans, vanished when their party won the White House. Lawmakers who talked of prosecuting Hillary Clinton skipped past Ivanka Trump’s use of personal email for government business.

Unlike Obama, Trump has supplied a steady stream of genuine scandal. Cabinet members and senior presidential aides have departed under ethical clouds, while Trump’s former national security advisor and campaign chairman confessed to felonies.

Unprecedented turnover and turmoil hinder White House operations. Trump has filled just over half the administration jobs important enough to require Senate confirmation.

How Republicans attempted to retain power in this fall’s elections exposed the chasm between their policies and public sentiment. Most voters believe the GOP tax cut has not made them better off, so Trump promised a new one.

Republicans who earlier favored repeal ran as defenders of a principal Obamacare achievement — guaranteed coverage for people with pre-existing health conditions. Trump accused Democrats, rather than his own party, of threatening Medicare.

On Election Day, Americans issued their verdict. They cast 9 million more votes for Democrats than Republicans in House races, the largest margin in midterm election history.

Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

On to the links…

Trump’s Latest Talking Points on Climate Change Will Make Your Brain Hurt So Bad—This is what happens when a minority of the American people elect a coddled man child with the intellectual capacity of a fifth grader throwing a temper tantrum about chicken nuggets.

The White House Talking Points About the National Climate Assessment Are Demonstrably False—There has to be a special place in hell for Sarah Huckabee Sanders who has spent her time in the Trump Administration glibly lying her way to a position as a commentator on Fox News.

Solar Energy Beats Coal On Critical Infrastructure Resilience—Remember when Rick Perry was going to save coal and nuclear plants by using an obscure national security rationale?  Looks like renewables are good for a resilient grid after all.

US Could Meet Paris Emissions Pledge with ‘Natural Climate Solutions’—Restoration and better management of our natural resources could go a long way in helping us mitigate the worst effects of climate change.  These are not exotic technological solutions waiting for discovery.

Climate Change: Report says ‘Cut Lamb and Beef’—No surprise here, but the evidence is getting to be as damning as that against smoking.  Eating beef and lamb is bad for the environment.  It’s just a question of how bad.

Massive 14-Year Oil Spill Ordered To Be Cleaned As Leaks Continue—It is appalling that this has taken fourteen years and over 150 million gallons of oil to finally come to this solution.

Colorado Joins California Low Emission Vehicle Program In Rebuke To Trump—Our federal government is hamstrung by the fact that the Senate is controlled by a minority of Americans.  However, the states with the most population and dynamic economies can move forward with climate sensible policies.

FedEx is Getting 1,000 More Electric Delivery Vans—FedEx has over 60,000 trucks so 1,000 is not a sea change, but it is a start.

Meanwhile In China, The Electric Mobility Revolution Is In Full Swing—There is a lot to dislike or even loathe about China—Muslim “reeducation” camps in the western part of the country for example—but the command driven economy is really moving forward on electric mobility.

The Case Against Cruises—Apparently, cruises are a disaster for the environment and the communities in which these mega ships port.  I always liked the line about cruises being the penultimate example of “premium medicore.”

Lettuce is Stupid and You Shouldn’t be Eating it Now Anyway—Lettuce is just a refrigerated water delivery vehicle.  Salads are a waste.  Never mind that eating lettuce is about the most likely way to get food poisoning anymore.