Tag Archives: EPA

Friday Linkage 12/16/2016

Is Donald Trump just trolling America now with his picks?  The Scott Pruitt choice was bad, but Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy is just ridiculous.  Rick Perry literally does not know what the Department of Energy does.  Most of the people claiming he will do a good job talk about his coming from an oil and gas state.  Never mind that oil and gas exploitation falls under other federal agencies and the Department of Energy actually spends most of its time and budget on nuclear responsibilities.  Maybe we will get a return of George W. Bush’s interesting pronunciation of nuclear.

On to the links…

Full Levelized Cost of Electricity In the United States by County—This is an amazing interactive map that lets you play with assumptions about cost, tax incentives, etc. to see at what the lowest LCOE of various electricity generation methods would be by county.  I am surprised that nuclear is able to be competitive in any of these scenarios.

If Trump Wants to Dismantle Obama’s EPA Rules, Here are all the Obstacles He’ll Face—Given the makeup of the cabinet and its glaring lack of experience in public service, I cannot wait to see them whine, moan, and bitch that government does not operate like their personal business fiefdoms.  No shit Sherlock, there is a reason that government does not work like a private business…it’s not a private business.

Solar Capacity has Increased 99% since Last Quarter—Maybe the best thing I have heard in a while: “The industry is booming, and President Trump will be hard-pressed to stop it.”

White House Releases Strategy for Deep Decarbonization by 2050—Save this document because we are about to spend four years without such vision.  We are far more likely to see reports about how we can make America great again by being big league and classy and yuge.

The End of the Commonwealth—The gilded age has returned and the crony capitalists have swept into power.  Populism was co-opted to allow for a takeover by wealthy elites.  The “blue collar billionaire” who criticized his opponent for giving speeches to Goldman Sachs has tapped former employees of the bank for key positions and even nominated the CEO of the most reviled oil company to be Secretary of State.  Our government is at the service of a very few very rich people.

Without These Ads, There Wouldn’t be Money in Fake News—The dictum “follow the money” has always been true.  Without the ability to garner revenue from clicks, fake news would be a gnat’s ass.

Renewables Produce 56% Of Denmark’s Domestic Electricity—The U.S. is unlikely to be leading a lot in this area for the next few years, so we need to take solace in the world making progress.

Solar Panels have been Benefiting the Climate ‘since 2011’—The carbon debt has been paid.

Your Hobby Is Action, Not Accumulation—I used to be so guilty of this when it came to books.  I read a lot, but I still acquired books like crazy.  It became more about a good looking library as opposed to actually reading and accumulating knowledge.  At what point do the things we own begin to own us?

I Love Meat. But these New “Bleeding” Veggie Burgers Convinced Me to Give it up for Good.—These burgers are only available in limited markets right now, but I cannot wait to try them once availability increases to more markets.  Now, if they could tackle the whole veggie bacon thing we would be cooking so to speak.

Homeopathic “Drugs” Will Have to Carry Disclaimers That They Are Bunk—Finally.  Homeopathic drugs are just ridiculous.  It’s like the snake oil salesmen of yesteryear were allowed to continue peddling patent medications without any repurcussions.

First Industrial Hemp Seeds Certified by Colorado Department of Agriculture—The “Green Rush” hype in Colorado has focused on the recreational smoking aspect of marijuana legalization, but there has been a steady increase in the interest of farmers and industry to exploit industrial—e.g. non-psychoactive—hemp as an alternative crop.

Degrowth Is Punk as F*ck—Maybe this is the answer.

Friday Linkage 12/9/2016

It seems like the announced cabinet for President-Elect Trump, which still makes me vomit a little in my mouth every time I say it, gets worse every day.  Now we have Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency.  This is a guy who has made a career out of suing the EPA.  Is it any wonder that government fails to work when we elect people who do not want to make it work?

On to the links…

Why the International Energy Agency has Grown Bullish, but Perhaps not Bullish Enough, on Renewables—In Trump land I do not know if we can be bearish enough about anything environmentally friendly.  I fear that the next four years will be nothing but walking backwards into climate change oblivion.

Trump Advisors Aim to Privatize Oil-Rich American Indian Reservations—I am sure that this will go really well.  Nothing like allowing Trump’s fossil fuel besties to grab resources from native communities.

Four Reasons 30% Wind and Solar is Technically No Big Deal—The important part of this story is that there are places that are already operating at over 30% renewables.  We have made a lot of progress and need to fight to make it stick.

Solar Panels Repay their Energy ‘Debt’—One of the negatives that climate change deniers and fossil fuel lovers like to spew is that solar panels can never produce more energy than was used in the manufacture of the panels.  Wrong.

U.S. Brewery Count Topples 5,000-mark per Brewers Association 2016 Year in Review—5,000 breweries is amazing and scary.  Is this a bubble?

My DIY IKEA Backpack—In the forthcoming Trumpocalypse I can see lots of people having to make survival gear from whatever they can find around.  These blue IKEA bags may be the bees knees.

Friday Linkage 8/21/2015

It got unseasonably cool here in eastern Iowa this week. Like, mid-50s at night and no more than mid-70s during the day. I am sure that we will pay for this comfortable weather with a slap of hot and humid in the coming weeks, but it was a nice preview of the cool fall weather to come.

On to the links…

How The EPA Plans To Cut Methane Emissions From Oil And Gas Wells—This falls into the “boring, but important” category of news. The EPA is proposing new regulations on methane emissions, which is important because methane is a very potent greenhouse gas and a lot of methane is released at gas drilling sites.

Four Powerhouse Bills to Help California get to 50 Percent Renewable Energy—In a lot of economic and policy circles the saying goes “As goes California…” because the size of California determines a lot of what happens in the rest of the country. If California could really get to 50% renewable energy it would be a major change.

World Needs 53GW Of Solar PV Installed Per Year To Address Climate Change—If that is the number, how do we get to 53 GW per year? I know that this is more of a thought exercise than anything else, but in order to beat the worst of climate change we are going to need addressable goals.

Coal Mining Sector Running Out of Time, says Citigroup—I am not going to start playing the funeral dirge just yet, but when major financiers and banks are pulling out of coal and being public about the shift the winds of change are blowing.

90 Years of U.S. Fuel Economy Data Shows the Power of Incentives, Dangers of Stagnation—This is a pretty compelling chart:

UMTRI-90-years-MPG-data.png.650x0_q70_crop-smart

Why did we have such a lull in the 90s and early-2000s? Oh right, SUVs and a right wing that encouraged nothing but “drill, baby drill.” Thanks.

How Much Of California’s Drought Was Caused By Climate Change? Scientists Now Have The Answer.—California is bound to go through periodic droughts, but it looks like the current drought cycle is being exacerbated by climate change.

How Killing Elephants Finances Terror in Africa—This is just a fascinating read. The author placed GPS chips into fake elephant tusks to track where illicit ivory made its way across the globe.

The Pork Industry is Full of this Drug You’ve Never Heard Of—Ractopamine, besides sounding like the name of a plague in a spy movie, is bad stuff. Most of the rest of the world has not deemed meat raised with this drug safe for human consumption, but in the good ol’ USA it’s what’s for dinner.

How the Midwest’s Corn Farms Are Cooking the Planet—Industrial corn production is turning out to be one of the more environmentally damaging agricultural pursuits of the modern age. Maybe it is time we start looking at a different paradigm.

The American Lawn Is Now The Largest Single ‘Crop’ In The U.S.—If corn is bad, lawns are downright insane. At least there is something that comes out of a corn field. A lawn is just a green carpet that requires more maintenance than wall-to-wall white shag carpeting.

What Happens When Your Cash Crop Goes Bust: The Fall and Rise of Zimbabwe’s Coffee Economy—A really good write up about what happened to Zimbabwe’s gourmet coffee economy following the seizing of farms by the Mugabe dictatorship.

An Artist Proves There’s Enough Sugar In Your Soda to Create a Lollipop—Would you drink a lollipop? Probably not, but you are doing the equivalent every time you drink a Coke.

Friday Linkage 5/8/2015

I know that the people in California do not want to hear this, but eastern Iowa is a little sick of rain right now. It has stormed almost every day for the past week and the ground is the consistency of a soaked sponge. The forecast, unfortunately, calls for another week of similar showers and it means that most outdoor projects are going to get delayed another week. Ugh.

On to the links…

Why the Koch Brothers’ War against Clean Energy is Still Failing—You would think for a couple of supposedly astute business people—who got a nice helping hand by inheriting some level of wealth from their parents—the Koch brothers do not seem to get a good return on their investment in trying to fight progress. Of course, trying to fight progress is never a good idea in the long term because reactionary elements tend to die out leaving you alone as a flag bearer of outdated ideas.

MidAmerican Energy Plans $900 Million Wind Expansion in Iowa—That is almost a billion dollars and the news kind of flew under the radar. Including this investment MidAmerican Energy will have nearly 4,000 megawatts of wind power in Iowa with a total investment of almost $7 billion dollars. When the projects are completed the utility may be able to serve 57 percent of its total retail load with wind.

100% Renewable Electricity Goal Passed By Hawaiian Legislature—Hawaii should be 100% renewable considering the prices ratepayers are paying, the danger of bringing in fuel on tankers, and the state’s abundant renewable resource potential. Maybe politicians have finally listened.

95% Renewable Power-Mix Cheaper Than Nuclear And Gas—In a nutshell, at current costs with a decent share of renewables deployed the cost to deploy a nearly 100% renewable grid will cost nothing more to the consumer. The clean power revolution is already at the tipping point. We just need to apply some more pressure and leverage.

The New Normal? Renewables, Efficiency, And “Too Much Electricity”—Overgen might be something we need to get used to in the future and it speaks to the need for energy storage. Widely deployed energy storage, be it in the form of EVs or wall mounted batteries, can serve to level out the disparity between generation and demand of electricity.

Refrigeration Battery is a Cool Idea for Saving Energy at the Supermarket—I remember these ice systems being the rage a few years ago and I remember seeing one in action at New Belgium Brewery’s facility in Fort Collins, Colorado. Now, as time of day pricing becomes more prevalent these systems may start to proliferate.

Western Towns Hard-Hit by Climate Change Unite, Target Coal for Funds—There is a movement afoot at the grass roots level to adapt to the threat of climate change. National politicians will not see it because they are beholden to small number of primary voters and big ticket donors, but when reliably conservative western towns start making a ruckus they will have lost the war.

Hundreds of Lapsed Permits Found on Forest Service Land—Basically, private companies are not paying for what they are taking from the public trust. Criminals.

Bill Would Roll Back Public Lands Protections In The Name Of National Security—When will the insanity of the border protection industrial complex stop? Building more walls and radio towers and roads will not stop people trying to flee truly horrible situations in their own countries. Maybe if we put some of those resources into trying to make these countries better places there would not be such an exodus. Just saying.

Central Valley’s Growing Concern: Crops Raised with Oil Field Water—Would you like some heavy metals and other chemicals with your salad mix? Didn’t think so.

EPA Faces Struggle to Regulate Formaldehyde—Can’t we all just agree that formaldehyde is nasty stuff. People who lived in FEMA trailers know this. People who bought cheap laminate flooring from China at Lumber Liquidators know this. And kids in biology class know this.

The World’s First Self-Driving Semi-Truck Hits the Road—Imagine the increased efficiency of trucks that could drive at non-peak hours in a very consistent manner safely. Awesome. It would also be awesome if this technology were in consumer cars and I could just zone out during the stretch of interstate from North Platte, Nebraska until Denver. I-76 must die.

UPS to Experiment with Renewable Biogas in 400 Vehicles—Some places call it “poo” gas, but biogas derived from rotting organic material can be a drop in replacement from gas from fossil fuel sources. You can actually tap the landfill. How cool is that?

Friday Linkage 4/3/2015

Are the recent pieces of legislation that codify discrimination based on supposed religious grounds the death rattle of the right wing? Yes, the bills passed in Indiana and Arkansas. Heck, the governor of Indiana signed the crap legislation and now has backpedaled like an all-pro defensive back. However, the national backlash is inspiring. The majority of Americans think that this type of legislation is wrong—moral, legal, or otherwise. Once your party is stuck supporting such a lunatic fringe what hope do you have of being nationally relevant over the long term?

On to the links…

EPA To Place Restrictions On The World’s Most Widely Used Herbicide—Glyphosate is nasty shit, but it is available almost without restriction. It probably causes cancer and it is over applied throughout the U.S. The EPA is finally starting to act.

New Cars Are More Efficient Than Ever, Beating Standards By A ‘Wide Margin’—The most recent targets for fuel efficiency are working as cars rolling off the assembly line are increasingly fuel efficient. In 2013, cars were getting 1.3 miles per gallon more than was required by law. Damn.

Has motorization in the US peaked?—Peak car or peak motorization is a concept that draws out some pretty partisan bickering. The auto culture is a big part of the identity of the U.S. yet there is an undercurrent developing that is rejecting that component.

Banks Losing Millions On Bad Energy Industry Loans—Energy project financing rarely makes the headlines because people’s heads hurt when talking about debt. However, this is a big deal because it will make it increasingly difficult for fossil fuel energy projects to receive bank backed funding.

SolarCity Reaches 5 GWh In One Day, Two Weeks After Smashing Past 4 GW–Progress. Plain and simple.

$100 Million For Solar PV Systems In Hawaii—I am waiting for the day when Hawaii is 100% clean energy. With an expensive electricity market and ideal conditions the worm may be turning for this to become a reality.

600 MW Perovskite Solar Cell Facility Slated For Turkey—Every day other countries are getting in on the solar bandwagon. Remember, each year this plant will be pumping out 600 MW of solar cells that will destroy demand for fossil fuels. Each and every year.

Beijing Puts Brakes on New Solar Panel Capacity—It was a low-key announcement but the overcapacity of solar cell manufacturing that has led to a supply gut and drastic price cuts has compelled the Chinese government to put a halt to further manufacturing capacity additions.

Clean Energy Makes Up Record Share of UK Power with Coal-to-Biomass Conversions—The moral of the story is that coal is screwed. Renewables and cheap gas are pushing the dirtiest of fuels to the backburner. For good, hopefully.

Wind Replaces Coal, Geothermal Overtakes Gas As Major Sources Of Power Generation In New Zealand—Almost 80% of the energy produced in New Zealand is from clean sources. Coal and gas are both declining as renewables come on line that are cheap and clean.

Beijing’s Four Major Coal-Fired Power Plants Will Completely Shut Down—I do not know if it will make a difference in China’s notorious air quality, but the people of Beijing have agitated enough that officials have made the decision to close the four closest plants burning coal. It’s baby steps.

How Long Can Oceans Continue To Absorb Earth’s Excess Heat?—There is a growing scientific consensus that climate change’s impacts have been mitigated by the world’s oceans being able to absorb excess heat. Now there is a concern that this mitigation is reaching the end of the line. Uh oh.

Bayou Bonjour: Caernarvon Diversion Builds Land and Gives Birth to New Bayou—This an amazing story about the restorative power of letting nature do its thing. River deltas are some of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet, yet these same ecosystems have the ability to be restored in short order if left alone.

Warming Winters Not Main Cause of Pine Beetle Outbreaks—This is interesting because for years the narrative in the American west has been that global warming has allowed the pine bark beetle to survive previously harsh winters and thus decimate forests. However, the real culprit may be forest thick with trees that would have been thinned out via other natural events that man has prevented. Ten o’clock rule anyone?

Florida’s Climate Denial Could Cause Catastrophic Recession-Florida and Rick Scott are the best. Essentially, so much property in Florida is insured by the federal government that if a major loss of value occurs due to a natural disaster—which will be made worse by the very climate change that Rick Scott denies is real—the U.S. economy may be pushed into a deep recession because of the cost.

Tips to Lower Your Carbon Footprint—Sometimes you just need to take a little action by yourself:

Lowering-home-carbon-footprint-infographic-2

Friday Linkage 12/12/2014

Have you seen the storm bearing down on Northern California and the Pacific Northwest? Strange weather in that region, particularly California, reminds me of Marc Reisner’s thoughts on the instability of the region’s hydrology. Why would anyone choose to build so much infrastructure and plant so many people in an area with such instability? It’s beyond me.

On to the links…

Fate Of The Struggling Greater Sage Grouse Shaping Energy Development In U.S. West—The fight over the listing of the greater sage grouse is shaping up to be the spotted owl of the 21st century. If you do not think so take a look at what Congress is doing in the abomination of a spending bill winding its way through the halls of government.

After Steep Decline, Signs of Hope for World’s Sea Turtles—People just love sea turtles. It is good to see that this group of animals is showing some signs of population recovery due to the efforts of a lot of people worldwide. Keep on trucking little honus.

US Fuel Economy Average Down for the First Time in Four Years—Gas prices drop on the back off a precipitous oil price drop and people clamor for extra large SUVs and trucks. Ugh.

Our E-Waste Problem Is Ridiculous, and Gadget Makers Aren’t Helping—Increasingly, integrated electronics with small embedded components are harder and harder to recycle. What could once be pried off a board and reused or upgraded is not only recoverable through means like melting or acid leaching. It’s nasty stuff.

Narendra Modi, Favoring Growth in India, Pares Back Environmental Rules—Development seems to always win. In India it appears like the prevailing attitude is going to be “we’ll clean things up later.”

India’s Largest Power Generator Signs Deal For 375 MW Solar Power Plant—For every bad story coming out of India there are at least half a dozen highlighting the progress being made. I hope the trend of one step back for every five forward can continue for a while.

Softbank May Finance 10,000 MW Solar Power Capacity In Indian State—Development may be winning, but the development of clean power is moving forward at a pretty good pace as well.

Far More Americans Trust EPA Over Congress To Set Pollution Standards—Does anyone trust Congress to do anything?

As Coal Crashes, US Governors Push Wind Energy—As fewer and fewer people work in extractive industries like coal, whether that is due to increased mechanization or reduced demand, governors are forced to face the reality of green jobs expansion. Wind is good for the environment and good for the economy.

Grassroots Anti-Coal Movements to Watch—There is a burgeoning worldwide sentiment that coal is the fuel of the past and needs to be retired. No amount of astroturf pro-coal groups can compete with the growing calls for the end of coal.

US Sees Second-Largest Solar Installation Growth In Q3—Third quarter 2014 solar installations were up 41% over the same period of time in the prior year. If the same trend continues for the fourth quarter then it will result in a lot of solar.

Tweaking Thermostats In Boston Would Save Energy Equivalent To 17,000 Fewer Cars On The Road—There is a huge potential for energy savings in changing our behaviors and tweaking the settings of our energy using devices. Think about what we could save if everyone, nationwide, made a concerted effort to save energy. It would be amazing.

Is The Food Babe A Fearmonger? Scientists Are Speaking Out—There was going to be a backlash against Vani Hari, but I wonder how much of it is centered on her premise of certain food additives being mysterious and potentially harmful. At the end of the day we need to be suspicious of anyone who stands to make money from fearmongering—as Vani Hari does with her books—but it does not mean she is wrong.

Hoping to Change the Industry, a Factory Farmer Opens His Barn Doors—This is an act of economic bravery not commonly seen among the farmers under the thumb of massive agribusiness corporations. It will be very interesting to see how the industry responds to Craig Watts’ bravery.

What is driving deforestation and what can you do about it?—What actions do you take that contribute to deforestation:

Jarrimber-Deforestation-Infographic-2

Friday Linkage 10/10/2014

Fall is really in the air, so that means it is time to blow town and go on vacation. The family and I leave next week for a quick jaunt to the swamps of Florida for enforced fun with Mickey Mouse and his furry friends. My son has not stopped chanting “tea cups!” for the past week. Save me, please.

On to the links…

Teacher Sends Hungry First Graders Home With Backpacks Full Of Food—I both love this story and hate this story. I love that a teacher took this upon themselves to help their students, but it makes me sick that in the United States we have children that are hungry. There is no excuse why any person in this country should be hungry on a given day unless it is their choice to not eat. No excuse.

How School Lunch Became the Latest Political Battleground—School lunch is big business and even bigger politics. It’s why, as parents, we should be fighting tooth and nail to change the system.

If America Cared about the Planet as Much as the NFL, This is What it Would Look Like—When the NFL was about to go on strike a few years back the news and analysis of the labor negotiations was amazing in its depth. If people cared about anything other than sports that much the world would be a much better place.

EPA says 24.1-mpg New Car Average is Best-Ever—Our average vehicle fuel economy keeps creeping up and as new technologies come on board—hello aluminum F-150—the numbers will keep getting better as we approach the 2025 deadline.

America’s Biggest Solar Provider Has A New Way To Make Rooftop Systems More Affordable—Every day brings stories about how solar is becoming increasingly affordable. Pretty soon it will be the same as putting on a new deck for a lot of people. I hope to put my solar system on the house next year. Yee hah!

Home Solar Plus A Battery Could Be Cheaper Than The Grid In Germany In Just A Few Years—Think about a market where solar plus a battery being cheaper than the power provided by a centralized grid? The demand destruction would be enormous.

$7 Million Annual Reduction In Lighting Costs For Ford Due To $25 Million LED Investment—This is a great investment. How good? The NPV value of this deal is $29 million assuming a discount rate of 5% and no inflation of the annual reduction in costs that might happen due to increasing energy costs. Efficiency is sweet.

Obama to Declare National Monument in San Gabriels—This is another step closer to creating a national park right on the doorstep of metro Los Angeles. Imagine that.

Translogic 160: Detroit Bus Company—This is a great story about someone creating a solution to a community’s need. A lot of the world may have left Detroit for dead, but there are a lot of people who refuse to believe the commonly held sentiment about the city’s future.

A Cool Folding Tricycle That Can Also Haul Your Groceries—I really hope that human powered mobility is the future of transportation for a majority of our needs and I hope more nifty solutions like this come to market. It’s just cute and cool.

Your Coffee is about to Get a Lot More Expensive—Climate change may be about to smack our favorite morning indulgence. Drought in Brazil, rust in Central America, and god knows what else around the world is sending coffee prices soaring in wholesale markets.

Colorado’s First Legal Hemp Harvest Since 1957 is Underway—It’s not going to set the world on fire because seed stocks are limited and expertise is lacking, but the future of hemp farming in America is happening. A lot of this year’s efforts are going into seed saving which will help subsequent years be successful.

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at How Infographics Are Made—I love infographics for some strange reason. Some people like trashy romance novels or porn. I like infographics. It’s interesting to see some of the tricks of the trade.