Tag Archives: High Country News

Friday Linkage 5/18/2017

I had contemplated making this a special “Scott Pruitt Destroys the World” edition of Friday Linkage, but thought better of it when I realized that might just depress people even more.

The question I have now that the primaries for the 2018 mid-terms are mostly done is how can Republicans defend their record?  Seriously, on what issue is the country a better place unless you are really rich?  If I am Democrat running for Congress I am hammering home that point over and over again.

On to the links…

EPA Hides Scott Pruitt’s Appearance at Mining Industry Group Meeting—I am beginning to think that Trump keeps Pruitt around because he is the only person who is in the headlines for bad stuff more than him and Trump does not care about the environment anyway.  So what is the loss?

EPA Hid Scott Pruitt’s Dinner With Climate Denier Accused Of Child Sex Abuse—How many more times are we going to have to read articles that start with “EPA hid Scott Pruitt’s…”?

Letters Reveal how Pruitt Hired an Unqualified Lobbyist to Head one of EPA’s Most Important Offices—But, what about the job creators?

Pruitt’s EPA Apparently Blocked ‘Nightmare’ Study About Water Contamination—And the hits just keep on coming.

Sulfur Dioxide Damages Lungs, and Scott Pruitt Is Letting More of It in Our Air—It does not matter how bad this schmuck behaves because he is doing the bidding of the people who are lining the Trump administration’s pockets.

Minnesota’s Top Health, Environment Officials Blast EPA Science Rule—“The proposed rule was clearly designed to undermine and disparage the important epidemiological studies that support public health protection from all pollutants, be they in the air, water, or soil.”  Well there is that.

GOP Senators Want to Exempt Giant Solar Farm Panels From Tariffs—Another genius Trump move that even the hard liners in his own party do not like for various reasons.

How to Save the Failing Nuclear Power Plants that Generate Half of America’s Clean Electricity—Natural gas is not the bridge to a clean energy future, nuclear power is the bridge.  We need to figure out a way—zero emissions credits (ZECs) just might be the ticket—to keep the existing fleet of nuclear plants in operation until rapidly deploying renewables can truly replace carbon spewing fossil fuels.

The Scientist still Fighting for the Clean Fuel the World Forgot—In an era of cheap gas—although the price is going up as I type—we have forgotten the fervor over second generation biofuels that seemed to grip the nation during the presidency of George W. Bush.  There are still some people out there trying to figure out a way to make these biofuels economical.

California will Require Solar Panels on all New Homes. That’s not Necessarily a Good Thing.—It might be better to take a more integrated approach to deploying renewables, but I do not want to argue with more solar.

California is Turning Farms into Carbon-Sucking Factories—The soil might be able to save us.

A Revolution in Hydropower makes Waves in Rural Colorado—What is great about this concept is that it is using existing manmade infrastructure to generate clean power.  No one is damning rivers or streams.

Ground Zero of Amphibian ‘Apocalypse’ Finally Found—Amphibians have been dying at spectacular rates for decades now and a source of this massacre may finally have been found.

This is the Worst Way to Become Vegetarian—This is the first time I have heard anything about the Lone Star tick or the possibility that it spreads an allergy to certain types of meat.  Is this the harbinger of our climate change dystopia?

Democracy Dies in Materialism and the U.S. is at Risk—I do not agree with everything that the author of this opinion piece said, but I do agree with the general premise that our society’s current focus on material wealth as a marker of success or fulfillment is dangerous.

Your Stoke Won’t Save Us—What if we are part of the problem and not part of the solution?

Advertisements

Friday Linkage 4/27/2017

The weather has finally turned here in eastern Iowa and it feels like spring.  What is really important is that several days in a row of solid sunshine means my solar panels are producing mad wicked power.

On to the links…

The Global Crisis of Plastic Pollution—This is the environmental crisis that I believe we can unite disparate groups behind to create an eco-consensus.  Who can argue, in any legitimate and coherent way, that we should not strive to have oceans free from plastic pollution?

Plastic Pollution Now Being Found In Arctic Ice Sheet—Nothing is pristine anymore because we are the worst species on the planet.  We just trash everything without regard for the consequences or the future of anyone but our immediate selves.

The GOP House’s Farm Bill Would Gut a Key Conservation Program—Get ready for some of the right wing’s worst ideas to come out in the form of the gestating farm bill.  SNAP benefits?  Probably cut a lot.  Conservation?  That is communist, pinko, hippie shit according to the GOP.  Subsidies for big agriculture?  ‘Merica!

EPA Proposal would let States Relax Coal Plant Pollution Rules—This is the kind of crap you get with Scott Pruitt in charge of the EPA. It also shows the importance of removing coal fired power from our grid.  Without the need to burn coal there would be no coal ash and thus no need to dispose of coal ash.

Wind, Solar Provide 98 Percent of New US Generating Capacity in January and February—Basically, no one added any new fossil fuel generation to the mix.

US Wind Energy Now Supplies More Than 30% In Four States—Four red states—Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota—get a lot of electricity from wind power.  These are fairly “red” states in the political parlance.  I also think it is interesting that 14 states are generation 10% or more of their electricity from the wind.  Weren’t renewables supposed to be incapable of providing a substantial amount of energy?

The Gloves Are Off: $105 Million Greenbacks For US Solar Energy Industry—Trump, Scott Pruitt, and Rick Perry may hate renewable energy but even the retro-grouch luddites in control of Congress see the value in renewable energy for producing clean power, jobs, and a general boost to the economy.

Linn County Receives Gold Designation from SolSmart for Solar Energy—The part that made me laugh is that this program is run by the Department of Energy headed by Rick Perry.  Do you even think he knows that there is a program that recognizes municipalities for creating environments helpful to deploying solar energy?  My guess is not.

Cost, Schmost! Energy Dept. Touts Coal-Killing Atlantic Offshore Wind—Yes, Rick Perry’s Department of Energy has published a report promoting offshore wind as a cost effective renewable energy solution.  Are we living in bizarre world right now?

The UK Just Went 55 Hours Without Using Coal for the First Time—The United Kingdom is probably the one country most associated with coal due to the Industrial Revolution and what not.  For that country to have gone more than two days without burning coal to make electricity is a major step.

Crunch Time For Renewable Energy In Southern California—A municipality is asking for industry to present solutions to a problem that is going to be vexing a lot of other municipalities in the coming decades.  Can renewable energy be deployed in such a way to take the place of ageing and expensive fossil fuel assets?  Can renewable energy plus storage provide baseload like power for cities?

The Latest State to get Serious about Climate Change is … New Jersey?—If we retire all of our nuclear plants than renewable energy will just be deployed to replace energy that was not producing carbon emissions already.  This type of plan, in of all places New Jersey, might serve as a template as we bridge to a future energy paradigm.

Electric Buses Are Hurting the Oil Industry—I say forget incentives to deploy EVs for personal automobiles.  Drop every one of those dollars into incentives for cities to deploy electric buses, garbage trucks, and other high mileage heavy duty vehicles.

Bitcoin mining is using as much power as 5,699,560 American households.—Can we just stop the cryptocurrency madness?  The model is ripe with potential for scammers as witnessed by every initial coin offering that seems to pop up daily.  The underlying value of the cryptocurrency is even more nebulous than our regular paper currency.  And the energy used to “mine” cryptocurrencies is outrageous.

Mass Timber is in for Massive Change—Wood is good.  Mass timber might be better.  Given the climate change implications of concrete—huge source of greenhouse gasses if you did not already know—mass timber construction could be the better choice for building increasingly dense communities.

Study: The Greenest States in the U.S.—How does your state rank?

Friday Linkage 4/13/2017

Paul Ryan is gone.  Okay, he is not actually gone today instead opting to “retire” in January when his term is over.  Nonetheless, who saw this coming?

He gave the standard “spend more time with my family” and “I’ve spent enough time in Washington and want to get back home” answers as to why he was choosing to leave Congress.  Does anyone doubt for a minute that he was tired of working with the chief cantaloupe?

This tweet just about perfectly sums up the end of Paul Ryan’s time in Washington D.C.:

Paul Ryan Tweet.jpg

On to the links…

The US is Winning the Climate Fight in Electricity — and Losing it Just About Everywhere Else—This chart says it all:

Emissions CO2 Chart

Transportation is killing us, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, and one of the biggest culprits is commercial air travel.  Flying is bad for the environment.  End of story.  And you free two day shipping on Amazon is also part of the problem because the cargo operators are flying jets all over the place to deliver our crap.  So, buy less stuff and fly less.

Solar Leads Record Renewables Investment—Solar now accounts for more than half of all the investment put into renewable energy.  China alone invested over $127 billion in renewable energy with more than two-thirds of that investment going to deploy 53 GW of solar.

Clean Energy Investment Down 10% To $61.1 Billion In First Quarter—Sometimes these are quarter over quarter anomalies driven by major investment timing, but if the trend continues into subsequent quarters it will be time to question what is driving the trend.

Google Hits its Incredible 100% Renewable Energy Goal—Google does not actually own the wind turbines and solar panels that make its renewable electricity, but it has bought enough renewable energy on the open market to account for its entire usage.

Illinois Blazes New Trail in Anticipation of Private Microgrids Using Utility Wires—Microgrids may be the future of energy generation and transmission.  The problem is that the utility companies own a lot of infrastructure and do not want anyone to have access to that infrastructure unless they control all of the terms.

Secession Or Not, Big Win For Rooftop Solar In South Carolina—South Carolina is in general a state known for doing some batshit crazy stuff.  Like electing Mark Sanford to public office…more than once…and after he had that whole Appalachian Trail thing happen.  WTF?  Anyway, if solar can score a win in South Carolina you know that things are good for solar.

Biggest Problem for U.S. Offshore Wind? Ports Are Too Small—This will hamper offshore wind development for decades as any port expansion project is a nightmare in terms of approval and execution.

This Coal Power Plant is Being Reopened for Blockchain Mining—Nothing can save coal except for another questionable idea: cryptocurrencies.

Washington State Bans Salmon Farms—Last August a breach in an aquaculture facility allowed Atlantic salmon to escape into the waters off of Puget Sound.  These non-native salmon could wreak havoc with the native species.  In response, the state of Washington has decided that hipsters love of grilled salmon is not enough of a priority to risk the health of an ecosystem.

Reckoning with History: The Parks have Been Fixed Before—The National Park system is one of America’s crown jewels, but the parks are in need of help.  This situation is, sadly, not unique in our history.  Make sure that your elected officials are committed to providing the support that our National Parks deserve and require.

REI Rolls Out First-of-its-Kind Sustainability Requirement that will Affect Every Brand in its Stores—If Congress won’t take action on sustainability than it falls to large companies to take action.  REI is, as usual, killing it.

What will Zinke do with the Extra $2.5 billion in his Budget?—Ryan Zinke wanted to gut the Department of the Interior.  Congress said, “Nope.”  What happens next?  Assuming the next most corrupt member of the chief cantaloupe’s cabinet, after Scott Pruitt, is even leading the agency in a few months.

IG: Zinke’s Reassignment Of Native Americans And Climate Scientists Possibly Illegal—The defense on this issue is the most Trumpian of all time, “We might have done something illegal, but we kept such bad records that no one can prove we did anything illegal.  Our incompetence is our shield.”  This is why Ryan Zinke needs to be the next Trumpkin out the door after Scott Pruitt gets his fossil fuel covered gremlin ass out of Washington D.C.

Why Scott Gottlieb is the One Trump Official Everybody Seems to Like—It just goes to show that even in a storm of gross incompetence and outright malfeasance that actual good governance can happen.  It’s not likely, but it is possible.

Guess What? The Rich Really are Different from Everyone Else — and It Ain’t Pretty—In the United States we have spent the last thirty or so years idolizing the rich as if they were somehow intrinsically better than everyone else with less money.  As our current president shows, money does not guarantee any sort of better human experience.  In fact, if the data is to be believed, it is likely that the rich, on average, are worse as human beings.  Suck it Ayn Rand.

A Sperm Whale that Washed up on a Beach in Spain had 64 pounds of Plastic and Waste in its Stomach—Yeah, that headline is pretty much as bad as it sounds.

 

Friday Linkage 2/2/2017

Is anyone else going to spend the weekend consciously avoiding the Super Bowl?  Maybe it is a good weekend to hit up the local ski hill.  #OptOutside does not just have to be about the day after Thanksgiving.

On to the links…

Iowa Lawmakers Consider Ditching State’s Energy Efficiency Programs—These programs are popular.  These programs save people money.  These programs save energy.  What say you Republicans?  Kill it!  It is as if Republicans across the country have spent the last year huffing paint fumes and decided that they were going to gut popular programs nationwide in one orgy of political self immolation.

Trumps Asked for a Van Gogh; The Guggenheim Offered this Gold Toilet—This is just too perfect.  Who said museum directors do not have a sense of humor?

Scott Pruitt’s First Senate Oversight Hearing Was a Total Sham—Sham?  I was going to go for goat rope or shit show myself.  What do you say Scott:

dmyk6p8nfl1wmctweq6y.gif

EPA Uses Posters to Troll its Own Employees—Just when you thought it could not get more Orwellian under the Trump administration Scott Pruitt comes out of his hole—soundproof and guarded by an around the clock security detail—to one up everyone else.

New Emails Reveal Scott Pruitt was Personally Involved in Erasing Climate Data from EPA Website—It’s our boy again.  He really hates the truth doesn’t he?

Scott Pruitt is Slowly Strangling the EPA—Scott Pruitt has basically stopped the EPA from doing its mandated job because he does not like anyone getting in the way of the fossil fuel industry.  He is a paid lackey of oil and gas.  Nothing more and nothing less.

Don’t Look, But a Couple of Mega-Companies Are About to Take Over Your Food Supply—You may not pay attention to mergers between agri-chemical giants, but you should.  Our farm economy is going to be pinned between a few gigantic suppliers of inputs and a few gigantic buyers of commodities.

Cliven Bundy Is a Free Man. His Cows Are Still a Nuisance.—Cliven Bundy is a scam artist.  His children are fellow scam artists.  He has shown that he has no principles and cares only for keeping his name in the news as a way to keep dollars flowing in what is surely some twisted scheme.

The Real Lesson of the Energiewende is that the German Economy uses Too Much Energy—There is something important in this line of thinking.  We can never deploy enough renewables or enough clean energy if we do not adjust both the volume and patterns of our consumption.

The Allure of Horse-Powered Farms—I do not know about allure, but it sure looks a lot more peaceful than the mechanized warfare of a modern farm.

Seabins want to be the garbage cans of the ocean—How do we deploy these things into every marina in the country?  Seriously, how much could it really cost?

The Future of Nuclear Power? Think Small—Nuclear energy is like a zombie.  This idea never dies.

LPGAer And Frequent Trump Golf Partner: “He Cheats Like Hell”—I am sure just as he is pocketing his ball on a “gimme” 35 foot two break putt he is telling everyone within earshot that he is the best golfer.  So good, in fact, that if he had not wanted to be a multiple time bankrupt developer he would have gone on the PGA tour.  No lie.  The best.  Tremendous.  Put me down for a birdie.

Friday Linkage 1/26/2017

It has been an odd few weeks.  For a good portion of that time I was on a forced digital detox as my work computer went belly up—twice!—and some of my frequently used online accounts were frozen as a result of a fault in some encryption software.  To make a long story short my work computer failing sent out a signal to my online accounts that someone was trying to do something nefarious in my name.  Thus I spent two weeks in a sort of 1990s like on line presence.  It was actually kind of refreshing.

Now, I am back online and back at it…which also means that I am witness to the insanity of our world yet again.

On to the links…

One Year In, Trump’s Environmental Agenda is Already Taking a Measurable Toll—The Trump administration may seem incompetent and, in many ways, the people running government are truly clueless.  However, when it comes to rolling back progress on environmental issues he has picked some real go getters.

In Colorado, a Glimpse of Renewable Energy’s Insanely Cheap Future—The future is here.  These prices are for projects to be built by companies looking to make money.  This is not some speculative investment in burgeoning technologies.  This is mature, utility scale renewable energy being offered in a competitive solicitation.

Orphaned’ oil and gas wells are on the rise—Remember this every time that you hear someone like Rick Perry or Scott Pruitt say that industry will do what is right because of…reasons.  The only thing these companies will do is try to extract the maximum amount of money with the minimum amount of inputs.  Once you view them through that lens then none of the subsequent behavior is surprising.

Several Key Coal States Lost More Jobs than they Gained in Trump’s First Year—My father used to say that dinosaurs do not appear dead for a while because it takes them a little longer to roll over.  Coal is rolling over despite Tump’s best attempts—Rick Perry, at his finest, and wearing hard hats at rallies—at creating a renaissance.

Australia Will Meet 2020 Renewable Energy Target Following Record Investments—Everyone seems to be putting more money into the renewable energy game.  Will the U.S. end of getting left behind?  Not in the Kirk Cameron bad movie sense either.

Saudi Arabia Plans Up to $7 Billion of Renewable Energy Projects This Year—Why?  Use fewer fossil fuels at home, so that they can export more fossil fuels abroad.  What happens if no one is there to buy the fossil fuels?

The ski resorts of the West—I want this map.  Christmas present anyone?

Athletes Who Are the Same Size as Donald Trump—This is the thing that drives me nuts about Trump more than anything: he has to be the “best” at everything even when the preponderance of evidence staring him and everyone else in the face tells a different story.  He is a spoiled rich kid who spent his whole life telling everyone the same lie, “I’m the most amazing…”  It’s just too bad enough suckers actually believed him and voted for him to become president thus perpetuating this lie.

Friday Linkage 9/29/2017

A little late and a little light on the links.  Is there anything less productive in corporate America than a training class that lasts for a day and a half?  It combines the worst productivity killing aspects of meetings with a long duration.  Why?

On to the links…

These 90s are Happening Weeks Later than Average—Climate change is real and it is here in eastern Iowa.

World’s Largest Miner BHP says 2017 is ‘Tipping Point’ for EV Boom—This is a commodities giant making this claim.  Not Tesla.  Not Nissan.  Not General Motors.

Colorado Landfills are Illegally Burying Low-Level Radioactive Waste from Oil and Gas Industry—If you doubt the need for good regulation and tight enforcement just imagine living near a landfill that accepted illegal radioactive waste.  Who wants to bet me that there will be no fines levied by the EPA for this egregious violation of law?

The Most Effective Clean Energy Policy Gets the Least Love—These mandates work because it allows for tailored solutions to a goal.  If you are in Arizona or Nevada install some solar.  If you are in Iowa build some wind turbines.

Coal. Guns. Freedom?—Somewhere along the line coal came to symbolize something among the far right wing in the United States.  It went from being a fuel for making steel or electricity into a potent political symbol.  Too bad it’s all a myth.

Congress Is Broken. Bring Back Pork.—It’s a simple idea and it might do some good to breaking down the partisan gridlock in Washington.  But what would Ted Cruz bitch about when the camera were rolling?

Elon Musk’s Solar Partnership Strategy Doesn’t Look So Crazy Anymore—Maybe Elon Musk was on to something with his idea of combining solar, batteries, electric cars, and the service all in one place.

Assumed Safety of Pesticide Use is False—Fake news!  Fake statistics!  Lies!  Where is Trump’s outrage over falsity?  Oh wait, Scott Pruitt told him to like these guys.

Sea Turtles Appear to be “Bouncing Back” from the Brink of Extinction—It’s not all bad news all the time.  People like turtles and conservation efforts seem to be working.  It feels like a breath of fresh air to be talking about something positive.

The History of Sears Predicts Nearly Everything Amazon Is Doing—What goes up, must come down.  Those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it.  Shall we continue?  Amazon is a high flier right now, but give it a decade or two.

Friday Linkage 9/22/2017

It is officially fall.  It is time to get the skis out and waxed for the upcoming season.  It is time to fully embrace “sweater weather” and pumpkin spice whatever…oh wait, it is ninety degrees in eastern Iowa today.  Damn, I guess summer is not going to release its satanic grip quite yet.

On to the links…

Key Stories for Understanding the Monuments Memo—Get ready for the great environmental legal battle when Trump actually takes these recommendations and moves forward with bad policy.  Like spoiled brats and bullies the Trump administration is acting reflexively against anything that they do not like regardless of the consequences.

These Companies Support the Paris Agreement. They Also Support Climate Deniers.—I do not care what you say publicly.  If you support climate denial in any way you are part of the problem regardless of what you do with your other corporate efforts.  It would be better to do nothing at all than to secretly support these scam artists who are obfuscating the most important challenge of our time.

Cedar Rapids says They’re Seeing More Residents Go Solar in Linn County—I did not participate in this program when I had a solar photovoltaic system installed on my roof, but it is exciting to see that there is a lot of interest out there in going solar.  Every system is like a little dagger into the black heart of coal.

US Celebrates Record 29% Drop In Utility-Scale Solar Costs — But Tariff Cloud Looms—Everyone claims to love a free market right up until the moment that it impacts their pocketbook.  Solar prices have gotten so low so fast because of globalization.

Why Wind and Solar Won’t Save Us—Reducing demand should be the primary focus, but once we have reduced demand producing clean energy to satisfy what remains is imperative.

Trump’s ‘No Friend’ of Clean Energy. Here are 3 Reasons to Invest Anyway—The investment community does not care about the politics anymore.  They see clean energy as a sound investment going forward.  Given the cost curves and public sentiment you have to wonder how long coal can hang on.

The Solar Boom In The Middle East—The Middle East is a perfect and odd place for solar to be successful.  It is sunny and there is a lot of open space, but it is also blessed with cheap fossil fuels.

Tesla Powerwall 2: An In-Depth Review—Changes in behavior are always interesting.  As someone who wants to generate all his electricity needs from the sixteen panels on the my roof I can tell you that since I have installed my solar system I think twice about using the air conditioner, which is the last remaining major discretionary electrical appliance in my home.

Regenerative Solutions for the Future of Humanity—It is not enough to preserve what we have not destroyed.  We need to regenerate what we have degraded if we are to live a fulfilling life as a species on this planet.