Tag Archives: gas

Friday Linkage 4/19/2019

Easter is such a strange holiday in the United States.  It is, ostensibly, a religious holiday for Christians but it is also a non-denominational consumption opportunity.  There is nothing Christian about dying eggs, eating candy, and buying pastel colored crap.

And what is up with having a family dinner centered on ham for Easter?

On to the links…

A Shocking Discovery Shows Just How Far Wind Can Carry Microplastics—The planet is our wastebasket for plastic.  It is everywhere.

This Scientist Thinks She has the Key to Curb Climate Change: Super Plants—This may be our only hope and at the same time it may be our undoing.

Lack of Demand Hasn’t Stopped Trump from Opening Tons of Land to Oil and Gas Drilling—Fossil fuel interests are treating the Trump administration like the last orgy before everyone finds religion.  It does not matter what the oil and gas interests want, Trump will give it to them.

How a Single Sentence in a Colorado Bill Could Pump the Brakes on the Fracking Boom—Imagine governments being told to regulate rather than foster oil and gas development.  As if there was any other purpose to government besides making money for fossil fuel companies.

Global Economy Would Save up to $160 trillion by Shifting to Renewables, Electric Cars—Here is a punch line for everyone to remember: Invest a dollar in renewables, get seven in return.

California’s Solar Power Record Setting Season is Here—This chart is amazing:

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That is a whole lot of solar.  What surprises me is solar’s “shoulders” in terms of its ability to generate a lot of power.  It does not peak and decline.  It peaks and stays.  This is the future.

How Coal-Killing Solar Panels Can Help US Farmers—Let’s have a real discussion here.  Besides coal, who does not benefit from more deployment of solar?  This is why, even with the most rabid anti-renewable energy administration in the White House, people are still installing solar.  It just makes sense.

Republicans Push Anti-Wind Bills in Several States as Renewables Grow Increasingly Popular—This is your modern day Republican party fighting against stuff that a majority of people like because a small coterie of wealthy donors and a reactionary base are what fuels its policy decisions.

Plummeting Battery Prices to Make Electric Cars Cheaper than Gas Cars in 3 Years—Like solar before it, the cost of electrical vehicles is dropping by a lot.  Now parity with gas cars is three years away.

US Electric Car Registrations Doubled Between 2017 and 2018—Most of the increase was in California, but a doubling is still a big deal.  I think the bigger problem for states not named California is that dealers are reluctant to embrace electric vehicles.  Trust me, when I bought a used Nissan Leaf it was like pulling teeth at the dealership.

Amazon says it’s a Leader on Fighting Climate Change. 5,000 Employees Disagree.—No business that sends a single order of five things to your house in five boxes can be a leader on climate change.  Amazon is part of the problem, not the solution.

The Hidden Horror of Hudson Yards Is How It Was Financed—Hudson Yards is an architectural monstrosity that was constructed for the lowest price per square foot.  Even worse is that it was financed by the lies of the EB5 visa program.

Hormel Admits Natural Choice Meats Aren’t Very Natural—The term “natural” means jack shit nothing when it comes to food labeling.

A 30-year Harvard Study Reveals the 5 Simple Habits that May Prolong Your Life by 10 Years or More—Are we really shocked to learn that these habits will help us live longer?

Breckenridge Tourist Walking Dog Injured After 10 Minute Standoff With A Moose—I may get a chuckle out of the signs warning skiers about moose on the trails, but these giants are no laughing matter.

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Friday Linkage 3/8/2019

Every week I think that world cannot get crazier and every week I am shocked to find that it may have actually gotten worse.

We now live in an America where layers upon layers of the President’s advisers, confidants, lawyers, and administration members are actually convicted of felonies and sentenced to jail time but Republican loyalists continue to defend the administration tooth and nail.

We now live in an America where a national news network is working hand in glove with a corrupt political party to sway Americans’ opinions on issues to favor billionaires despite these policies harming the vast majority of people in this country.

We now live in an America…just fill in the blank with the latest depravity.  When does this madness stop?

On to the links…

What Democrats and Republicans Drink on Mardi Gras—If your choice of beer in 2019 is Michelob Ultra than you are everything that is wrong with this world.

Republicans Warn That Liberals Are Coming for Your Burgers—It makes for a nice sound bite to rile up your Uncle Carl watching Fox News all day, but it is not true.  Today’s Republican Party is a joke.  It is a purely reactionary body of low level hucksters selling a vision of society that appeals to a narrow band of the American public.

To Revive Rural America, We Must Fix Our Broken Food System—When politicians talk about rural America or the farm economy they are really talking about policies that favor gigantic agribusiness at the expense of both farmers and food consumers.  Once you understand that paradigm everything in the farm bill begins to make sense.

Jay Inslee just Launched a Presidential Campaign that will be All About Climate Change—It is likely that Jay Inslee will fall short of the nomination.  Heck, with this many people running right now it is likely that a lot of people will fall short.  However, this is an important addition to the political conversation and I am glad that Jay Inslee has the courage to make it his issue.

Post-Hurricane Harvey, NASA Tried to Fly a Pollution-Spotting Plane over Houston. The EPA said No—In Trump’s America pollution is good for you because it is brought to you by oil and gas companies.  Of course they have the best interests of the public in mind.  Right?

Coal Burning Plants Aren’t Just Polluting the Air—They’re Poisoning Water—Exactly what is good about coal?

Banks around the World Opt to Offload Coal—Get used to hearing about the weighted average cost of capital for coal projects.  The higher the WACC goes the less likely it is for coal projects to get funded because they cannot deliver the necessary return on investment relative to their risk profile.  Banks getting out of the coal game drives the WACC higher.

Wyoming Legislature Extends Lifeline to Coal Power—This is what the free market looks like under modern day conservative leadership.  If something is uneconomical and bad for the environment it must get supported because the paymasters running oil, gas, and coal companies need to be kept in business at the expense of anything else.

Colorado Democrats’ High-Stakes Oil and Gas Bill Is Finally Here—Oil and gas companies have run roughshod over the people of Colorado for decade.  Fracking rigs come right up to residential neighborhoods.  Houses even end up exploding.  A changing state is the canary in the coal mine for oil and gas dominance of the American West.

An Illinois Bill Leans into the Most Contentious Part of the Green New Deal—Environmental justice is also social justice.  As the environment is degraded the people who will suffer the most are the ones who had the least responsibility for the degradation.

Finland Approves 2029 Coal Ban For Energy Use—You go Finland.

This Is What Peak Car Looks Like—The financial argument is one thing.  What happens when cities decide that dedicating so much valuable space to personal automobiles is a waste?  The future is now.

Electrify Everything: Why our Thinking has to be as Flexible and Resilient as our Buildings—The key to resilience is flexibility.  What works in one place may not be the best use of resource is another place.  Solutions are tailorable to particular locations.

This Is How the Age of Plastics Began—Plastic is the trash that we have the hardest time dealing with and this is how the problem began.  If we need to decarbonize our society we must also work on ridding our products of plastic.

Recycling Is Broken—How we deal with our trash—which is really what recycling is at the end of the day—is coming for a reckoning now that we can no longer easily outsource the job to China and other developing economies.

Californians are Losing Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in Recycling Deposits—As human beings we are not the most rational creatures when it comes to money despite what economists would like to tell us.  Sure, this money is spread out in small amounts across large numbers of people so the perceived loss is low.  However, this is still a lot of money left on the table.

Is This the Death Rattle of Mail-Order Meal Kits?—God I hope so.  These kits are like the worst habits of your local grocery store delivered to your doorstep.  So much plastic.

The Science Behind Why Hipsters Always End Up Looking the Same—Interesting.

Friday Linkage 2/1/2019

It is February, it is freaking cold, and nothing seems to be going right anywhere.  Oh wait, the long awaited third entry in the Bill & Ted cycle may be coming to theaters before the end of the year.  Most excellent.  It would be a not heinous way to end 2019.

Wyld Stallyns may be forced to face the music, so we can hope that other people in our world—fictional or otherwise—will have to answer for their misdeeds in 2019.

Be excellent to each other!  Party on dudes!

On to the links…

The Trump Administration has Lost More than 90 Percent of its Court Battles Over Reregulation—For all the sound and fury of the Trump administration over the past two years—has it really been that long—most of the deregulation efforts have failed to pass legal muster.

Democrats Want Answers about the Interior Department’s Decisions During the Shutdown—Wow, another scandal at the Department of the Interior.  This is my surprised face:

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US Plug-In Electric Car Sales Charted: December 2018—Check out the market share:

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Last year and the year before it could not crack 2% total market share.  This year total EV sales went above 3% in the latter part of the year.  When does the tipping point occur?

The Biggest Returns—Imagine if there was a way to produce a dollar of economic activity without damaging the planet.  Oh wait, we call it energy efficiency.  The greenest source of energy is the energy you never need to produce.

Texas Grid Is Now 30% Carbon-Free, Led By Wind—Big red state Texas, actually increasingly purplish, is also a big time state for renewables.

Report says Offshore Wind could Beat Onshore Wind on Cost—Imagine the Atlantic seaboard getting on board with offshore wind.  Or the Gulf of Mexico, with an already established industry of offshore specialists, deploying offshore wind rather than drilling for oil. Now, imagine that offshore wind energy is cheap.

Supermarket Cuts Emissions 53%, Offsets Rest—Grocery stores seem like such an easy target for energy efficiency.  Just imagine the average dairy section in an average American grocery store.  What do you see?  I am guessing that it has refrigerated cases open to the ambient air.  Why?  Just one example of how we can do so much better without really sacrificing our way of life.

Are Cargo Bikes the Future for Urban Deliveries?—The future?  In some places this is the present.  Bikes are the best solution for delivery of the last mile in denser environments.  Let’s see…no pollution, no noise, small footprint…yeah, pretty much awesome.

The Zero-Waste Movement is Coming for your Garbage—Zero waste is a good goal.  Here is the better goal: Buy less stuff.  Just a reminder, if a company is telling you how green their packaging is it probably means that they are trying to assuage your green guilt and encourage you to buy more.

Eco-Friendly Options for Decluttering Waste—Decluttering is a thing right now.  Blame Netflix and Marie Kondo.  It was popular when she had a book, but now that people can binge watch a show it is a cultural phenomenon.  I just hope that we are finding appropriate places for all of this stuff being tossed out of homes.

Friday Linkage 11/16/2018

California is on fire.  Venice is under water.  Glaciers in South America have retreated.  Famine in Yemen is accelerating.  It seems like this week has brought out the apocalyptic news.

On to the links…

The Zinke Effect: How the US Interior Department became a Tool of Big Business—Ryan Zinke is the robber baron that we deserve.

Interior Department Whistleblower: Ryan Zinke Hollowed Out the Agency—Rebuilding the federal government after the tragedy of the Trump administration is going to be a long, hard road.  This is what you get when you elect people to run government who happen to claim to hate government.  It is also what you get when you elect a serial philanderer who cannot stay out of bankruptcy court.

Trump Campaign Paid Millions to Trump Businesses During Midterms—This is what grift looks like in an era when there is no accountability.  Imagine if Barack Obama had paid himself for the use of a plane he owned from campaign funds?  Mitch McConnell would still be crowing about it and clutching his pearls.

In New Mexico, Public Lands Turned an Election Blue—It turns out that people like the idea of public lands being available for use by the public and not just a land trust for the use of fossil fuel interests.  Republicans will never understand this fact because it runs counter to their deeply held beliefs that oil and gas companies can do no wrong.

Why Nevada Upped its Renewable Energy Standards (and Arizona didn’t)—It was really a mixed bag for climate change related policies on the ballot during the midterm election.  Some states came through while others just toed the line.  Arizona has always struck me as the Florida of the west.  The state will act against its own self-interest time and time again in some misguided defense of “principles.”

Scotland’s Wind Turbines Generated ‘98% of Electricity Demand’ Last Month—It was not really 98% of electricity in a linear fashion all month.  Sometimes it was “only” ~65% of electricity demand while other times it was well over 200% of electricity demand.  Remember when people opposed to renewables said that the maximum would only ever amount to 5% or so of total demand?

Global Coal Use May have Peaked in 2014, Says Latest IEA World Energy Outlook—Despite what the orange despot in the White House says on the campaign trail, coal is not coming back.  Coal is not beautiful.  Coal is dead.

BNEF Confirms US Coal On Track For Record Capacity Decline—Every wind turbine and solar panel that we can deploy is another brick in the wall.

Big Oil’s Death by a Thousand Small Cuts—Every Tesla Model 3 or Chevy Bolt or Nissan Leaf represents demand destruction for oil that is not coming back.

10% Of New Vehicles Purchased in California Are EVs—If I am an oil company or a car company without an EV this trend would scare the living crap out of me.

Spain to Ban the Sale of All Gas-Powered Cars by 2040—The Spanish plan is part of a larger initiative to break free from fossil fuels in our lifetime.  Now, imagine you are an international auto exec watching an entire country ban the sale of gas cars.

The Wheels on These Buses Go Round and Round With Zero Emissions—If I am in Congress the first bill I propose—ok, maybe not the first—is a program to help subsidize the purchase of electric school buses across the country.  Along with electric city buses, garbage trucks, and delivery vehicles.

Electric Tuk-Tuks Power EV Revolution In India—Sometimes the best conversion from fossil fuels to EV is a low tech swap.  Replace hundreds of thousands of two stroke tuk tuks in India with EV versions and you have made a real dent in air pollution.

Heat-Rejecting Film could Reduce Air Conditioning Costs—Anything that can reduce our demand for air conditioning, thus reducing our demand for the electricity to cool the air, is something worth pursuing.  Particularly, if the solutions do not require retrofitting buildings in expensive and labor intensive ways.

Impossible Foods Will Finally Sell Plant-Based Burger Meat in Grocery Stores—I have yet to try one of these burgers, but maybe if I can find a package in the grocery store I will take it home to compare with an actual ground beef burger.

Plot Twist! Elephants come up with a Foolproof Way to Survive Ivory Poachers—I have linked to similar stories in the past, but it really gives me a chance to post one of my favorite lines from blockbuster movies of the past:

goldblum

Two Approaches to the Environment on the Ballot this Midterm Election

In November we will be given a choice to change the direction of the United States politically.  As is the case every two years the entirety of the U.S. House of Representatives is up for election.  Many of the House districts in the United States are drawn in such a way that partisan incumbents face little challenge to their reelection bids.

In Iowa, however, relatively fairly drawn House districts mean that we have an actually competitive race between incumbent Rod Blum, no friend of this blog, and Democratic challenger Abby Finkenauer.

As an environmentalist I think comparing the candidates’ views on climate change to be instructive as it serves as a point of departure from the Trump wing of America and the rest of the country.

Rod Blum is a climate change denier.  As a member of the arch-conservative and downright wacky House Freedom Caucus Blum has not met an environmental rule or agreement that he did not want to gut like a catfish.  In 2014 he went on the record as a skeptic of climate change.  He supported Trump’s move to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.  While in office he has continued to financially benefit from oil and gas stocks while moving to open up public lands to more oil and gas drilling.

The League of Conservation voters nailed it by giving Rod Blum a 2% lifetime score when it comes to national environmental issues.  Honestly, I am quite surprised he managed to drum up 2% given his voting record.  He’s basically Scott Pruitt, but from Dubuque, Iowa.

Contrast that with Abby Finkenauer, who has an entire section of her campaign website dedicated to the environment and clean energy.  Entitled “Growing our Clean Energy Economy and Protecting our Environment” it states that:

I’ll play a similar watchdog role in Congress, and will just as firmly stand up to attempts to weaken key programs and measures that fight climate change, grow our clean energy economy, and protect our environment. Ultimately it’s time we had a representative who fights for Iowa families – ensuring they can live in healthy environments supported by good jobs – rather than standing with corporate polluters and those opposed to science.

A-freaking-men!

I believe that the choice of what is right for Iowa’s 1st district and, thus, the United States is to vote for Abby Finkenauer this November.  It’s just the planet that is counting on you.

Friday Linkage 7/27/2018

I want to wake up and think that today is going to be a good day, but with the current state of affairs in American politics I wonder if that is ever possible anymore.

Do you remember a time when the talking heads on Fox News would bloviate about how Barack Obama wore a tan suit or put his feet up on the desk in his own office?  Yep, it happened.  Where is Sean Hannity’s outrage now that the current occupant is a thrice divorced serial philanderer who has paid off multiple women to keep the stories about their affairs quiet prior to an election?  Where is Sean Hannity’s outrage now that the head cheese puff is literally taking the side of a Russian dictator over the intelligence agencies of the United States?  Where is…oh, fuck it, we’re screwed.

On to the links…

POW Wants Skiers to Become Effective Climate Advocates—I am a member of Protect Our Winters because I fear that my generation will be the last to remember real winters where it got cold and snowed.  If we want our children to be able to play in the snow it is essential that we act in this time of national environmental disgrace.

The Teenagers Fighting for Climate Justice—As the right wing gets older, whiter, and closer to death these kids—now I sound old—are the future of our politics.  Republicans are going to have to reckon with multiple generations of people that they have screwed over for the benefit of the Baby Boomers.

Fossil Fuel Industries Outspend Clean Energy Advocates on Climate Lobbying by 10 to 1—Do you want to know why Exxon Mobil wins in Washington D.C. every time?  Dollars.

Accidentally-Released Documents Show Interior Agency Prioritized Industry Over Public Lands—Why did national monuments get shrunk by Donald Trump?  For the oil, gas, and mining industries to take advantage of our public lands.

Trump Administration to Stop Collecting Money from Companies that Damage Public Lands—Not only are these companies getting a sweetheart deal on leases on public land, but now they will not have to worry about paying for the cleanup.  This administration is officially worse than that of Warren G. Harding.

Most Americans support the Endangered Species Act—People like these environmental rules.  You know who does not like these rules?  Rich people who run companies that benefit other rich people.  You know who is going to win out on this issue?  The rich guys.  Always bet on the rich guys to win in Washington D.C.

This Is Why Lawmakers Want to Gut the Endangered Species Act—It is my contention that a lot of these interests see the intersection of this current Congress and Donald Trump as the last time in a generation when their policy prescriptions will find traction.  They are trying to get while the getting is good, so to speak.

Trump Wants to Weaken Coal Miner Protections as Black Lung Disease Makes a Comeback—Trump loves coal miners so much he wants to make it easier for them to get black lung, harder for them to get treatment for black lung, and probably wants coal miners to thank him for all of his “help.”

Scandals Pile Up For Interior Chief Ryan Zinke—Ryan Zinke is no Scott Pruitt, but he probably now holds the mantle for Trump’s most scandal plagued cabinet member.  Remember, this guy thinks he has a chance to become President of the United States in a few years.  Oh wait, given the current occupant I would not be surprised to hear that Paul Reubens thinks he has a shot as well.

Trump’s Plan to Revoke California’s Car Pollution Waiver makes a Mockery of Conservative Principles—Just stop at “Trump makes a mockery” and you will be fine most of the time.  Seriously, Republicans only care about states’ rights when it refers to abortion.  Everything else falls under the federal purview.  I do look forward to this court battle because it will place a lot of people at odd angles to each other.

The Billion Tree Project In Pakistan Is A Success—Given the current wildfire situation in the western U.S. I have to wonder if there is a place in our national discussion about a massive effort to reforest degraded landscapes.  Let’s see, it would bring jobs to rural areas and improve the environment.  It would provide long term benefits for important watersheds and help mitigate the impacts of climate change.  Yeah, it’s got no chance.

China Made Solar Panels Cheap. Now it’s Doing the Same for Electric Buses.—Do you remember when seeing a house or building with solar panels was rare?  Now, it is common.  Get ready for the same thing to be true with electric buses.

What Other States Can Learn from California’s Solar Mandate—I do not think we should worry about pushing small scale distributed rooftop solar onto residential roofs until every warehouse, big box store, and parking lot is covered in solar panels.  If you want to put panels on your house’s roof like me, make that choice, but the effort should be going into the big roofs first.

Climate Change May Cause 26,000 More U.S. Suicides by 2050—Well, isn’t that an uplifting headline.

How to Fight the Actual Source of Ocean Garbage (Which Isn’t Straws)—I bet if you asked one hundred people what the major source of ocean pollution is that not one of those one hundred would name abandoned fishing gear.  Demand change.

Microplastics Are Invisible, Scary, and Everywhere—The archaeological record of this late stage of our civilization will record us being the “plastic people.”  Someone or something will dig up our remains and wonder what our obsession was with plastic.

Disney to Eliminate Use of Plastic Straws by Mid-2019, Other Single Use Products to Follow Suit in the Coming Years—Straws are one thing, but the other single use plastics are the things that get me.  We need to eliminate disposable plastics across our consumption patterns.

What Does It Take to Make a Decent Paper Straw?—Now that more and more places are foregoing the plastic straw you are going to have to become used to what makes a good paper straw and what is just cheap, imported crap.

Friday Linkage 3/30/2018

Spring is here in Iowa and that means…well, it initially meant six inches of snow followed by a lot of rain.  It also means that one day is sunny and 50 degree while the next day starts out with fog and mid-teens temperatures.

If you do not like the weather, just wait fifteen minutes is what every farmer in the state will tell you over a cup of coffee.  I always want to ask, “Who actually likes any of this weather?”

On to the links…

Public Lands are being Sold in Secret on the Internet—This is what you get when a corrupt businessman becomes president and appoints corrupt politicians to run agencies like the Department of the Interior.  Scream about Hillary’s emails all day long, but the real scandals that have occurred and will occur under the current administration will take a generation to unpack.

Zinke Creates New Outdoor Recreation Panel Made up of Industry Advisers—This is the best government that money can buy.  Trump did not drain the swamp, he appointed every Swamp Thing that he could find to help him loot our country.

The EPA ousted Science Advisers. Now it’s Going after the Science Itself.—You would not want actual science to get in the way of good talking points delivered to your desk by the filthy hand of the oil and gas lobby.

Scott Pruitt’s “Dirty Dealings” Stir a Campaign to Oust Him From the EPA—Is anyone surprised by this?  Trump appointed a guy to lead the Department of Energy who wanted to get rid of the department even though he had little idea of what the department actually did.  Scott Pruitt is a corrupt stooge.

Trump Wanted to Slash Funding for Clean Energy. Congress Ignored Him.—It turns out that a lot of people and, thus, a lot of members of Congress like clean energy.  Despite what the head cheese puff in charge says America is trying to move forward.

Study Predicts Major Expansion of Offshore Wind Along Atlantic Coast—The lead of the story is everything you need to know: “Almost every state along the Atlantic coast — 12 out of 14 — has offshore wind potential that exceeds its current electricity needs, according to a new study.”  Well, why don’t we get a move on?

Unprofitable Coal Plants now Play ‘Game of Chicken’ to Survive—Think about the statement “half of U.S. coal capacity ran at a loss last year.”  That is to say that half of the U.S. coal plants, measured by capacity not installations, did not make money last year.

California said to be Preparing to Retaliate if Trump Cuts Emissions Rules—Trump and his cronies may think that they have the upper hand here, but it has been fought in court that California has the legal right to set its own stricter emissions standards as their efforts predate federal efforts.  Trump will insist that he has the best people and that they will win in court.

Global Carbon Emissions could be Cut 3 percent by Following the UK’s Example—3% may not sound like a lot, but it is a start.

SoftBank and Saudi Arabia to Build World’s Biggest Solar Farm—The numbers on this project are stunning.  200 GW of solar.  That is almost three times what the entire country of Saudi Arabia generates in electricity today regardless of source.

Landfills: A Future Source of Raw Materials—Can you imagine a future where autonomous robots “mine” landfills for the raw materials that generations before us threw away as garbage?

Rep. Jeff Backer Tries to Blame Minnesota’s Ag Pollution on… Goose Shit—This is what you get when you elect politicians who proclaim, “I am not a scientist.”  This is usually said right before talking about something which a scientist would have a more valuable opinion than an elected hack.

Brewers Association Reports 5% Volume Growth for U.S. Craft Brewers in 2017—At least this is some good news:

beer chart