Tag Archives: EPA

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.

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Friday Linkage 1/18/2019

This our hellish reality:

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Yes, Donald Trump presided over a cold fast food “feast” for the visiting Clemson Tigers football team that recently won the supposed national championship.  Imagine, for just a moment, the blood vessels that Sean Hannity would have blown had President Obama deigned to have a table full of fast food available for a visiting sports team.  Just imagine the outrage.  Just imagine…

At least Chicago’s Nick Kokonas, co-owner of Alinea, is stepping up to show the Clemson Tigers what a real celebration should look like.

I have always wanted a “hamberder:”

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We cannot make this stuff up anymore.  The best response that I saw to all of this was someone saying that these pictures look like the scene where a time traveler realizes that she has messed things up royally.

On to the links…

Are We Living Through Climate Change’s Worst-Case Scenario?—The worst case scenario is what we are trying to avoid.  The question is by how much do we miss global catastrophe?

How Much can Forests Fight Climate Change?—The benefits of forests may be oversold by some, but what harm is there in trying to save the forests that we have and reforest the land that we have logged?

A Coal Baron’s Takeover of the EPA Is Nearly Complete—Robert Murray is the dime store villain of climate change.  He grabbed on to Donald Trump harder than anyone not named Vladimir Putin and made him his Manchurian candidate for coal.  It is the duty of Congress to see that America does not become a coal fired hellscape.

How Trump’s EPA is Letting Environmental Criminals Off the Hook, in One Chart—This is what “law and order” looks like under a lawless administration:

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Indiana Utility to Quit Coal and Cut CO2 90% within 10 Years—Even with Trump in office and the EPA doing everything it can to unwind regulations coal is in a death spiral.  This news comes from Indiana which gave us Mike Pence and “Mother.”

Fracked Shale Oil Wells Drying Up Faster than Predicted—This is a problem for oil and natural gas companies because their “proven reserves” are based on decline curves that may be too optimistic.

Air Travel is Surging. That’s a Huge Problem for the Climate.—Air travel is bad for the climate.  Period.

The Mortgage Industry isn’t Ready for a Foreclosure Crisis Created by Climate Change—Why do I have a feeling that Florida is going to be “ground zero” for the first foreclosure crisis caused by climate change?  I just envision empty and destroyed condos in Miami.

Iowa ‘Ag-Gag’ Law Banning Undercover Farm Investigations Ruled Unconstitutional—I am certain that this is not the last that we have heard on this issue, but it is a good sign that corporations will not be able to silence individuals.  Since the 1980s business has ruled and gotten every advantage possible codified by a compliant government.  I am hopeful that the pendulum is swinging back in favor of the rights of the individual.

Coming To America In 2019 — Compliance Cars Only—I do not know if the headline is quite true, but it does seem like the United States is an afterthought when it comes to electric vehicles save for Tesla.  Now, we are the land of big ass trucks with little purpose for being—this comes from the owner of a recently long term garaged Ford F-150—where EVs are seen as a “hippie thing”—this comes from someone who bought a used Nissan Leaf.

The Surprising Impact of Paper Receipts—This is one of those things that just surprises me.

The Era Of Easy Recycling May Be Coming To An End—We cannot just think that dumping our trash—which is what a lot of single stream recycling ends up becoming—into a blue bin magically makes it environmentally friendly.  This trash could have value, but Western civilization—to use Steve King’s vernacular—is too lazy to do a better job of sorting things.

What to Do With All Your Stuff That Doesn’t ‘Spark Joy’—It is not just about getting rid of your stuff, but getting rid of your stuff in a way that can allow others to benefit.

Big Dairy Is About to Flood America’s School Lunches With Milk—Dude, the United States produce way too much milk:

Screenshot_2019-01-17 Big Dairy Is About to Flood America’s School Lunches With Milk.png

Why do we produce so much milk if we are not drinking so much milk?

We Could End Factory Farming this Century—We can only hope.

No More War, Pestilence, & Poverty: How Renewable Energy Will Alter The Global Geopolitical Calculus—This is one of those hopeful ideas that you just hope come to pass.  Imagine a world where we stop fighting over resources.  Wow!

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 1/4/2019

It’s 2019 and the resolutions are flying.  People are flocking to the gym to exercise and stopping two days later because delayed onset muscle soreness kicks in.  Trust me, there will be very few people in the gym this weekend.

I have no idea what 2019 will bring, but I am hopeful that it is a better year than 2018.

On to the links…

The Case for “Conditional Optimism” on Climate Change—I want to be optimistic that we have reached an inflection point in the international mood regarding climate change and the world is ready to act.  It is hard to be optimistic in the United States when Donald Trump occupies the White House and Republicans control the Senate.

24 Million Jobs Could Be Created From Meeting Paris Climate Agreement Targets—Going green will create jobs.  This is the promise of a so-called Green New Deal.  Deploying wind turbines, installing solar panels, building mass transit, retrofitting buildings, and so on will put people to work.

Trump’s EPA Doesn’t Seem to Want to Punish Law-Breaking Polluters—It’s not just about the laws that get changed, but the laws that do not get enforced as well.

Trump’s U.S. Coal Consumption Is Less Than Obama’s—Sad.  So sad.

How Does Your State Make Electricity?—The graphs in this article are just great.  Take a look at Iowa’s transformation into a wind energy powerhouse:

Screenshot_2019-01-03 How Does Your State Make Electricity .png

Gotta’ do something about that remaining coal.

Ten Charts Show How the World is Progressing on Clean Energy—We are making progress.  We can make the transition to clean energy.  It just takes political will.

Renewables Set To Account For 38% Of German Electricity In 2018—Germany has been building renewable energy capacity like crazy and in some periods of 2018 renewables accounted for more than 43% of electricity.  The caveat is that the current pace of deployment will not get the country to its stated goal of 65% renewable energy by 2030, but that seems like critics trying to salve their wounds over good news for renewables.

Perovskite Solar Panels Edge Closer To Production As Prices Fall—The price per watt for solar panels has already fallen dramatically.  However, perovskite based panels promise to bring that price down even more.  Imagine a world of roofs covered in cheap solar panels sucking up the energy from the funky yellow sun.

Fulfilling the Potential of Biogas in Spain—Biogas is something that most discussions about renewable energy never discuss.  Maybe because it seems like sorcery or alchemy.  Maybe it’s because the process often involves animal waste.  I do not know.

Dakota Access Pipeline Developer Misses Year-End Deadline to Plant Trees—Is anyone surprised that Energy Transfer Partners has failed to meet its commitment for planting trees as a condition of building this pipeline?  Not me.  It is the standard operating procedure for these companies to promise many things and deliver on nothing.  Every tree not planted is another dollar into the pocketbook of the shareholders.

Native Shrubs and Why They’re Essential for Carbon Sequestration—Our landscaping lacks layers.  In the United States it is all about trees and turf grass.  It is a monoculture masquerading as a functioning landscape.

Where Government Is a Dirty Word, but Its Checks Pay the Bills—This is the problem with American politics right now.  Too many people believe the bile spewed about the government on Fox News, but fail to realize just how dependent that they are on the government.  It reminds me of the Tea Party clowns telling the government to keep their hands off of Medicare.

Friday Linkage 10/5/2018

A little light on the links this first week of October.  I think almost everyone has been glued to the circus that is the Trump administration.

On to the links…

Chuck Grassley Plans to Take Trump’s Federal Farm Bailout Cash, Calls it ‘Equal Treatment’—Nothing says fiscal responsibility like making sure you get your bailout cash from an unnecessary trade spat.  Where was Chuck Grassley when homeowners were taken advantage of by mortgage lenders in the mid-2000s?  Where was Chuck Grassley when people lost their homes to illegal foreclosures?  People in Iowa would elect the corpse of Chuck Grassley.

Trump’s Plan to Scrap Mercury Regulations Won’t Save Coal But It Will Cost Lives—This is America under Trump.  It is a hellscape of increased deadly emissions from ageing power plants propped up by government largesse to line the pockets of a few coal barons.

Trump Administration, EPA say Radiation is Good for You—It is getting downright Orwellian.

U.S. Power Producers’ Coal Consumption Falls to 35-year Low—Every new solar photovoltaic array and wind turbine that I see is another shovel of dirt on the grave of coal.  If we can weather the interminable Trump storm of the next couple of years we can truly put the United States on a clean power path.

Germany’s Coal Habit Proves Hard to Kick—Germany wanted to transition away from coal and to renewables.  The problem with this plan was that Germany also wanted to eliminate its reliance on nuclear energy as well.

Banks turn their Back on Coal amid Emissions Concerns—Modern commerce runs on credit.  If banks are unwilling to lend most schemes are incapable of operating at any scale.  This is bad for coal and good for the planet.

China to Add 259 GW of Coal Capacity, Satellite Imagery Shows—This is bad.

Our Fertilizer Is Killing Us. Here’s A Fix.—Synthetic fertilizer has allowed for billions of people to escape famine.  It is also one of the drivers of bad global impacts like dead zones.

More than 1 in 3 Americans Eat Fast Food on a Typical Day, and We Eat it All Day Long—Is our fast food consumption a cause of our modern problems or is it a symptom?  Do we eat fast food because our modern lives do not allow enough time or flexibility to eat actual food?  Or, do we eat fast food because it taps into some primordial desire for salt, sugar, and fat?  Either way, it is bad for us all.

14 Food Waste Facts That Might Change The Way You Cook, Shop, And Eat—I believe that in order to get our planet right, we need to first get our households right.  The first step to get our households right is to fix our kitchens.  Victory is in the kitchen.

Friday Linkage 9/14/2018

It’s been seventeen years since the attacks of September 11th.  It is amazing to believe that the students entering college this fall have no personal living memory of that day when it is so indelibly scarred on so many of our consciences.  Time marches on without regard to our humanity.

It is also amazing to think about the path we chose to follow as a country in the aftermath of September 11th.  The administration of George W. Bush, which seems like a gauzy dream during these days of Trump, got us into two wars from which we are not out of seventeen years later.  All for a total cost of more than $1.5 trillion and counting.

What could we have done with $1.5 trillion in the United States?  Remember, this money is gone and what it bought is used up, blown up, stolen, or just plain abandoned in the desert.  In essence, we have gotten nothing for our blood and treasure.

On to the links…

The Most Ambitious Climate Plan In History—In the coming years the battle lines will be drawn over a carbon tax.  All the other mechanisms, carrot and/or stick, will be shelved in favor of a simple carbon tax.  As they say on sports talk radio, book it.

U.S. Budget Deficit Widens to Fifth-Highest Ever, CBO Reports—Any time a Republican says “Tax cuts pay for themselves” please ask them for evidence to back up that claim that does not come from the Heritage Foundation.  It is not that the United States does not have enough money for a progressive agenda, it’s that America is being looted by the right wing for corporate interests.

Trump Administration Rushes To Lease Federal Lands—These bastards know that they are living on borrowed time, so they better get while the getting is good.  Teapot Dome scandal will have nothing on these grifters when the final accounting is complete.

The E.P.A.’s Review of Mercury Rules Could Remake Its Methods for Valuing Human Life and Health—In Trump’s America your life is worth less than a coal baron’s ability to make a lot of money.  There is no other reason to change this rule except to mollify the retrograde coal companies that are one of the last groups to actually like Donald Trump.

Trump Administration Wants to Make It Easier to Release Methane Into Air—Oh wait, oil and gas bros also still like Donald Trump because his administration is doing yeoman’s work for them.

Scott Pruitt in Talks with Coal Company for his Next Job—Nothing says looking out for Americans’ interests quite like taking a job with the type of company you favored over the aforementioned Americans’ interests not three months after leaving office in a cloud of scandal.  Maybe they offered him a Trump mattress and some of that special lotion as a signing bonus?

Cover the U.S. In 89 Percent Trees, or Go Solar—Why not do both?  I love trees and I love solar.  Until every south and west facing roof is covered in solar panels we have not done enough.

California Commits To 100 Percent Clean Energy By 2045—It’s big and it’s bold.  Is it possible?  I don’t know, but watching California lead the pack will be interesting.  I would love to see Iowa go 100% wind powered and beat everyone to the punch.

For States That Have Already Met Their Renewable Energy Goals, A New Question: Now What?—If you do not think local and state elections matter then consider this possibility: states that have met their RPS could just stay put and do nothing more going into the future if there is no push from local constituencies.  Or, these same states could do more.  Your call.

Sony Vows to Use 100 Percent Renewable Electricity by 2040—If your state won’t commit to renewables maybe your favorite company can.  Heck, some of these companies have a carbon footprint of small countries.

How Solar Power Saved $6.7 Million on a Tuesday—It got really hot in the Northeast U.S.  However, solar power pushed peak demand pricing to later in the day when things cooled down by providing up to 20% of the electricity on the grid.  What did coal do for you today?

Coal-Dependent Utility Fights Efforts to Reveal Whether Power Plants are Cost-Efficient—These are the boring but important stories to watch.  State utility boards are the definition of boring government business.  That being said, these same utility boards hold hearings that can eviscerate the economic basis for continuing to use coal.

Largest Offshore Wind Farm Opens off England’s Coast—I have to imagine that offshore wind is a Republican nightmare.  It is wind power, so they hate it.  However, it is offshore so any protest about appearance or the environment would also argue against offshore oil and gas drilling.  What is someone bought and paid for by Exxon cash to do?

Coal-Killing Energy Storage Grows By 200% In US—The last thing coal has going for it is that it is baseload power.  It can be counted on to deliver power when it is scheduled to deliver power.  However, the intermittency of renewables can be mitigated with some measure of storage.

Fossil Fuel Demand Set To Peak In The 2020s—It should be our mission in life to see that this peak happens sooner than forecast and that demand declines at a precipitous rate thereafter.

Large Trucks are Biggest Culprits of Near-Road Air Pollution—This is just one of the many reasons why electrification of transportation should focus on commercial trucks and busses first.

By 2040, Most of the World Won’t Have Enough Water to Meet Demand Year-Round—If you do not things are going to get turbulent and violent in the coming decades just wait until the taps run dry in many parts of the world.  Do you still want to be watering a lawn in Utah?

How to Eat Well – and Save the Planet—Most of these ideas are not rocket science.  Eat less meat.  Avoid high fructose corn syrup.  It it’s processed, leave it on the shelf at the store.  And so on…

Fundraisers for Sick Restaurant Employees Represent the Failure of American Health Care—The other battle line in America, in addition to a carbon tax, is with regard to health care.  The right wing does not care that you cannot get health care.  The right wing wants you to get sick and die, but only after spending all of your assets to obtain some measure of care.  They want you to die with a single red cent left to your name.

More Older Americans Are Turning To Marijuana—If you have any doubts about the future of marijuana legalization in the United States imagine what the situation will be like when AARP and baby boomers get behind the trend?  Federal legalization is a fait accompli.

Airbus SeaWing Kite Sails To Cut Fuel Costs For Cargo Ships 20%Haven’t we seen this idea before?

Friday Linkage 9/7/2018

It is September and there about two months until the midterm elections.  Washington D.C. is crazy, even by its own messed up standards, as Trump is increasingly isolated and alone in the White House.  Anonymous op-eds, tell all books, and the constant drumbeat of scandal have made the past year and a half seem like an eternity.  Heck, Trump has even managed to alienate some of his staunchest supporters by going down the old “dumb southerner” route.  Way to go Donny Two Scoops.

It sounds trite, but the only hope for a path forward is to vote for candidates who will actually hold this administration accountable for its misdeeds.

On to the links…

A ‘Jaw-Dropping’ 15 Million Super-Environmentalists Don’t Vote in the Midterms—I do not know what a “super environmentalist” is, but I know that if there are really 15 million people out there eligible to vote yet do not cast ballots in November we deserve everything Republicans can do to us.

We Could Shift to Sustainability and Save $26 trillion. Why are Aren’t We Doing It?—Maybe because we live in a world where the “most power man on the face of the Earth” is a running joke of a human being.  Seriously, how can we have a substantive discussion about a transition to a sustainable global economy when the President of the United States spends more time on Twitter than reading briefing books?

An Old Anti-Irish Law Is at the Heart of Trump’s Plan to Reshape Legal Immigration—This is just the old racist handbook employed by politicians in the United States and across the globe for the past two hundred years.

Trump’s EPA Reconsidering Power Plant Rule Preventing 11,000 Premature Deaths Per Year—Here is what you get with the modern Republican party: more pollution and more death.  As long as the policy favors a rich interest like coal mining or oil drilling Republicans will favor the policy despite its impact on actual people.

The Giant Coal Plant Converting to Green Energy—We can debate just how “green” biomass burning is relative to other renewable energy sources, but is has to better than coal.  Why can’t we start a program of reforesting denuded landscapes with trees for biomass and convert coal power plants to burn the biomass in the U.S.  Is there not a large amount of acreage in Appalachia that has been devastated by mountaintop removal mining that could be part of this plan?

You’ve Heard of Outsourced Jobs, but Outsourced Pollution? It’s Real, and Tough to Tally Up—Imagine if a country claimed that it had reached a 10% emissions target.  Everyone applauds.  However, imagine if that country reached that goal by ceasing production of cement and buying it from a foreign provider.  The total emissions are unchanged, but one country’s scorecard looks a lot better.

Lego Wants to Completely Remake Its Toy Bricks (Without Anyone Noticing)—When I was in business school I sat in on a presentation by someone from LEGO.  The presenter was discussing quality control and production consistency.  The crazy thing was that he said bricks made today needed to be made to the same tolerances as bricks made thirty years or more earlier because customers expected them to be compatible.  Imagine another product having that same kind of concern and being designed for children.

Is California Becoming Unlivable?—California has always been a place of climactic extremes and natural disasters.  Maybe it was never meant to be such a large state in terms of population and economic activity.

Five, just Five, Solutions to Roll Back Greenhouse Gas Emissions.—It does not seem so hard:

  • Radical Efficiency! (Reduce demand!)
  • Radical Sufficiency! (Appropriate technology!)
  • Radical Simplicity! (Keep it dumb!)
  • Electrify Everything!
  • Decarbonize Construction!

Top 10 Secrets about Stress and Health—It is no secret that stress is detrimental to your health.