Tag Archives: Idaho

Friday Linkage 5/31/2019

It’s the last day of May, which means the high summer is just around the corner.

The crazy thing is that my summer trip to the Rocky Mountains is being altered by the presence of snow from this amazing winter.  The recpath through Ten Mile Canyon is closed due to avalanche debris removal.  Several 14er summits are closed until late summer (e.g. August) because of snowpack.

However, A-Basin might still be open by the time I roll into Summit County so I have that going for me.

On to the links…

Energy Department says Gas Permit Promotes ‘Molecules of Freedom’—That’s right kids, for those of you too young to remember “freedom fries” the Orwellian Trump administration has now rebranded natural gas as “freedom molecules.”  You cannot make this stuff up.

Renewable Energy Costs Take Another Tumble, Making Fossil Fuels Look More Expensive Than Ever—The market has spoken.  Renewable energy is cheaper than fossil fuels.  The future is now.

The Billion-Dollar Coal Bailout Nobody Is Talking About: Self-Committing In Power Markets—The price wars have been won and renewables beat coal.  Now, market forces are being superseded by back door shenanigans.

Rich Farmers, Not Mom-and-Pop Farms, Will Collect Most of Trump’s Tariff Bailout—This is America under Trump.  The rich get bailouts and everyone else is left holding the check.  Don’t believe me?  Ask any contractor that has ever done work with Trump.

Mining Has Been King in Idaho for Generations. A Little-Known Law Might Stop That.—Mining is king across the west.  Outdoor recreation is the new king.

The Bus Wars are Over. Electricity — and China — Won.—Here’s the thing, anyone can buy a lot of electric buses.  Just because China has “won” so far does not mean that another country cannot leapfrog.  The energy transition is not a zero sum game where there must be a winner for every loser.

Visualization: 2012–2019 US Electric Car Sales (This Is A Must See)—This image is just fun to watch.

EV Charging Sites Now Outnumber Petrol Stations in UK—Never mind the plugs available in many homes.  If you build it, the people will come.

Algae: Single-Celled Savior Of The Climate Crisis—I feel like we have been talking about algae as a source for oils and other compounds for decades with the breakthrough just around the corner.  The problem is that we never seem to turn the corner.

A Major US Utility is Moving Toward 100% Clean Energy Faster than Expected—This is happening under a Trump administration.  Imagine how fast the transition could be under a progressive president.  I am hoping that the last few years have been storing up momentum for the transition like winding a spring.  Once some barriers are removed it will be like letting go of a slingshot.

Illinois Will Make Polluters Pay for Coal Ash Cleanup—How expensive will coal be for utilities when they are forced to pay for the cleanup of the leftovers?

The Ticket to 100% Renewable Power is Underneath Our Feet—Geothermal energy is the unloved member of the renewable energy family.  Part of it is that I think the technology, at face value, resembles fossil fuel electricity generating plants and even utilizes some of the same drilling technology.  However, geothermal is green and it is base load power.

Cool Your Home Without Air Conditioning—It’s almost air conditioning season here in the Midwest, although a cool and wet spring has moderated that arrival somewhat.  Just going a little bit longer without turning on the AC can be a big energy saver.

Scientists Develop a Super-Strong Wood that Completely Reflects the Sun’s Heat—How do I get siding made of this material?

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Friday Linkage 1/25/2019

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

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

On to the links…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday Linkage 4/24/2015

Earth Day came and went. I hardly even noticed save for some really shameless corporate greenwashing and lame ass ads about “going green.” Not using plastic t-shirt bags and single use bottles is great, but there are much larger problems that we fail to start a conversation about and these are the problems that threaten our very survival.

On to the links…

The Deepwater Horizon Disaster Was Five Years Ago Today. Here’s What We Still Don’t Know.—On April 20th of 2010 the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and began spewing oil. It was one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history. The scariest part is that we have little to no idea about the long term impacts of all that oil in the gulf. Heck, we wonder where some of it even went.

Idaho’s Panther Creek Comes Back from the Dead—We have the ability to bring restoration to the landscapes that we have destroyed. It may not be pristine, but it can be better.

Interior Considers Hike in Oil and Gas Royalty Rates—It is critical to remember that we lease lands to oil and gas companies out of the public trust for low rates. Not only do these companies enjoy generous subsidies and are not required to compensate anyone for the externalities associated with fossil fuels, our government allows them to do it for a rate far below what the market would bear.

Conservatives Upset At Pope’s ‘Green Agenda’—The Catholic Church may be behind the times on a lot of issues, but it is amazing to see the transformation of tone under Pope Francis. The conservatives of the world who used the Catholic Church as a common ally in all things retrograde are flipping a gasket that the pope would talk about things like poverty and equity.

Emissions, Economic Growth Parting Ways—The lockstep rise in emissions and economic growth was one of those economic laws you just figured on. When emissions went down it was usually because the economy was in a recession. The reverse being true when emissions went up. Data suggests that this linkage may be broken.

How Solar Got Cheap—A lot of factors went into making this dramatic drop in costs happen. Take fifteen minutes and listen.

SolarCity Gets Help From Credit Suisse To Finance Over $1 Billion In Commercial Solar + Storage Projects—Solar plus storage is going to be the next big development in distributed renewables. Mark my words. Or better yet, mark Elon Musk’s words.

Tesla’s New Battery Could Solve One of Solar Power’s Biggest Problems—Everyone is anticipating that on April 30th Tesla will announce the development of a battery meant to store power generated at a home. It might be a game changer.

China’s Risen Energy Lands 1.2 GW Solar Power Deal In Inner Mongolia—Even Inner Mongolia is getting on the solar PV bandwagon.

Ghana Off-Grid Households To Benefit From 100,000 Solar PV Systems—In the developing world solar and other distributed renewables have the chance to leapfrog the centralized power grid paradigm of western economies.

300 MW Of Solar Connected To UK Grid In March By Schneider Electric—Remember for a moment that these are numbers coming from one company in one country that is not known for its great solar resources. It would have not been too long ago that the announcement of 300MW of solar capacity would have been cheered. Now it is barely noticed.

We Can’t Let John Deere Destroy the Very Idea of Ownership—All companies that sell you products want to make it a rental economy because that guarantees a stream of revenue. If they can prevent you from customizing or repairing your items than you do not really own them. You are just renting them from The Man.

Inside the Hellscape Where Our Computers Go to Die—The western world’s e-waste is out of sight and out of mind. However, someone ends up dealing with the waste and trying to make a living from whatever value can be extracted despite the huge environmental and health cost.

You Must Read—The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt & the Fire that Saved America

In years past, wars had been fought and rivers of blood shed for far less land than that which was under consideration by the select group of “forest arrangers” as they called themselves. Never before had the fate of so much territory been determined by a small, mostly unarmed group of tree specialists. They were in one the creation, transforming by surveys, mapping, and suggestions areas larger than some eastern states. [Page 56]

9780547394602If you think that our modern conflicts over the role of the federal government in owning land is acrimonious and/or unique you must read Timothy Egan’s The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt & the Fire that Saved America.  It has everything that you would come to expect in a modern tale about conservation. Politicians making decisions about public lands who are corrupt? Check. Private industries with deep pockets looking to profit from the cheap sale of public lands? Check. A few dedicated politicians acting in the interest of public conservation? Check. It just happens to not involve anyone with the last name Koch or a corporation with the name Exxon.

The book is really about two events. The first is the creation of the United States Forest Service under the aegis of Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot. The second is a massive fire in the American west, mostly on land managed by the Forest Service, that changed the perception of public lands in the American consciousness. The title of the book is slightly hyperbolic in that America itself was probably not at risk in the period, but the future of our public lands surely was in doubt.

These two stories are interwoven to provide the foundation for the fundamentals of the modern conservation movement in the United States where federal lands would be at forefront of the battle. Even today we see the same battles being fought when clowns like Cliven Bundy claim that their rights to land supersede any federal claim to the land and right wingers line up behind them in support. At least until it is revealed that the clown in question is a raving lunatic with horribly outdated and pathetic racist beliefs. Just saying.

Amazingly, history favors the conservation of lands. Few people, if any discounting those on the lunatic fringe, look back and view the creation of the national parks as a bad thing. Yet at the time of creation there was great debate. The same thing is true of lands managed by the federal government outside of the park system.

One of the great follies that came to be following the fires in 1910 was the so-called “ten o’clock rule,” which by the mid-1930s came to be defined as any fire reported the prior day had to be put out by ten o’clock the following morning. The result would be disastrous in terms of forest and people lost to fire:

The ten o’clock rule would stay in effect for most of the century until rangers who realized that fires were critical to the health of a forest started to have a voice. Budgets escalated as the fire control mission became even bigger and more intrusive. From the air and on the ground, with chemicals dropped like bombs and with bulldozers to scrape perimeter lines, the Forest Service attacked all fires, growing into a force of nature—or against nature, depending on the view. [Page 273]

Forest in the American west need fire. Fire clears out weaker trees and combustible undergrowth. Fire creates a patchwork of trees of various ages and, thus, heights which are not as susceptible to fires that hop along the crowns of trees. Fire can also be the mechanism for a forest’s regeneration as many seeds and cones will not release protective layers until a cleansing fire has pass through. These ideas were anathema to a generation of foresters who grew up under the tutelage and influence of men like Gifford Pinchot. If there is a place to lay blame on that generation of foresters it is on their belief that fire was inherently evil vis a vis the forest and that fire could be controlled by man. Time has proven that the suppression of fires only gives man the impression that he has controlled the elemental force.

Fire is a transformative event for forests, but it is part of the natural cycle:

They knew well enough that a forest after a fire is not a cemetery, set with stones—just a change of worlds. Still, it was hard to see any tomorrow in the ashen landscape. [Page 249]

We would do well to remember this fact as we approach the fire season in a year where much of the American west is affected by extreme drought. Time and time again, our government will send men and women into harm’s way because individuals have decided to ignore nature’s will and inhabit a combustible forest. It was done in the early-Twentieth Century and it will be done again in the Twenty First:

Then they did what all western boomers did after a combustible punch: got up off the floor and rebuilt, with brick, stone, and steel, shaking a fist again at nature. [Page 2]

Friday Linkage 3/7/2014

Vacation is so close that I can almost taste it.  Which means that I am totally unproductive at work and I am trying to get creative with dinners so that there are no groceries left in the refrigerator over the course of the week we will not be home.

On to the links…

U.S. Lets 141 Trillion Calories Of Food Go To Waste Each Year—People might quibble with the math of 141 trillion calories, but regardless the number is going to be huge and it is a damn shame.  Wasted food in a country where millions of people go hungry is a moral crime.  Wasted food is also an ecological crime because of the resources used to produce food.

E.P.A. Set to Reveal Tough New Sulfur Emissions Rule—One of those boring, but very important stories.  Congress may not be able to act on any environmental protection legislation, but the President and his appointees do have agencies through which to act.  These rules will make the air cleaner, period.

How Europe Could Get 16 Percent Of Its Road Fuel From Garbage By 2030—Just imagine filling up with liquid fuel from garbage?  Or, you could just not make the waste in the first place.  Baby steps.

First Electric School Bus Hits The Road In California—Who does not remember the plume of black smoke coming from a school bus’ exhaust as a kid?  You never wanted to be behind one of those yellow smog machines back in the day.  Now there might not even be an exhaust pipe.  Sweet.

Solar Power Just Had Its Biggest Quarter Ever—Solar had a huge 2013, but I think when you look at the numbers you realize that wind got punched in the gut.

Hawaii Taps On-Bill Repayment Program for Clean Energy Financing and Job Creation—On-Bill Repayment (OBR) is a big deal because it is a financing vehicle for renewable energy at the consumer level.  Do not take this lightly.

Former Dolphin Trainer Speaks Out on the Horrors of Captivity—Is there any reason why, besides money, that we should keep healthy marine mammals in captivity?  All the evidence points to a system that is broken and harmful to the animals.

SeaWorld Has a New PR Nightmare: This Girl Who Was Bitten by a Dolphin—As if SeaWorld needed another blitz of bad PR, a girl was bitten or “mouthed” to use the politically correct animal captivity lingo.  Free these animals now.

Sea Turtles Are Endangered, But 42,000 Were Killed Legally Last Year—Just counting the legally captured sea turtles, it adds up to 42,000.  It’s probably a lot higher number when you count the illegally caught and by-catch deaths.  Ugh.

Idaho ‘Ag Gag’ Bill Signed Into Law By Gov. Otter—I cannot tell what the impact of these ag gag laws is going to be across the country.  I wonder if animal welfare activists will be motivated to push the envelope in hopes of using a court case to expose not just the cruelty but the machinations of industry to muzzle critics as well.

Deforestation of Kalimantan Rainforest – In Pictures—Remember, these forests were felled for palm oil plantations.  That’s it.

First Legally Sanctioned Grows of Hemp in Colorado—Legal grows of hemp will not get the attention that a line of people waiting for a bag of Bubba Kush, but it is a significant thing because it is another option for farmers to make money.  It is also a very versatile crop.

Soil as Carbon Storehouse: New Weapon in Climate Fight?—Soil has an amazing capacity to sequester carbon.  Degraded and marginal soils the world over are an amazing opportunity to improve the condition of the soil and help the climate.

Wendell Berry: A Strong Voice For Local Farming and the Land—Wendell Berry is a legend.  Anytime you get a chance to read or hear his thoughts on farming and sustainability you need to take the opportunity to listen.

EPA Moves To Block Massive Alaskan Gold And Copper Mine–The Pebble Mine in Alaska may not be dead quite yet, but with major investors pulling out and government regulators leery of the environmental cost the odds do not look good.  Then again, mines don’t make a lot of sense in a lot of places.

Sea Otters In Prince William Sound Back to Pre-Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Numbers—Finally, almost twenty five years after the Exxon Valdez oil disaster, sea otters are returning to their pre-spill levels in Prince William Sound.  So, naturally, the petro lobby will probably start the howls of drill baby drill at CPAC.

The GOP’s Unregulated Business-Climate Nirvana, in China—A friend of mine always used to say that a free market ideologue’s dream was a slum in Africa because there were no rules.  Maybe China is a better example because it is big business and its attendant government cronies run amok with no consideration for the wellbeing of the people or the environment.