Dec 18, 2014

670,000 smog-related deaths a year: the cost of China's reliance on coal

South China Morning Post: Smog caused by coal consumption killed an estimated 670,000 people in China in 2012, according to a study by researchers that tries to put a price tag on the environmental and social costs of the heavy reliance on the fuel.

Damage to the environment and health added up to 260 yuan (HK$330) for each tonne produced and used in 2012, said Teng Fei , an associate professor at Tsinghua University.

The 260 yuan is made up of two parts: the health cost and the environmental damage caused by mining and transporting coal.

"With existing environmental fees and taxes of between 30 to 50 yuan for each tonne of coal, the country's current pricing system has largely failed to reflect the true costs," Teng said.

Tiny particulate pollutants, especially those smaller than 2.5 micrograms (known as PM2.5), were linked to 670,000 premature deaths from four diseases - strokes, lung cancer, coronary heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - in China in 2012, Teng said.

That translated to an external cost of 166 yuan for each tonne of coal consumed. Authorities levied only about 5 yuan as a pollution fee per tonne of coal used by consumers including power companies and iron, steel and cement producers.

Mining and transport add 94 yuan per tonne, including through damage to groundwater resources, subsidence, deaths and occupational diseases.

Beijing is considering replacing pollution charges with more stringent environmental protection taxes, but progress on legislation has been slow.

Li Guoxing , from Peking University's School of Public Health, said the full impact of coal use was still underestimated as the study did not take into account medical costs associated with other pollution-induced diseases such as asthma.

Respiratory patients wait at a Hangzhou hospital. Photo: Reuters

"The health cost [of the study] is only based on the premature death figures due to the limitations of our research data," said Li. "It could be way higher if we also include medical costs for other chronic illnesses."

The study found that in 2012, more than 70 per cent of the population was exposed to annual PM2.5 pollution levels higher than 35 micrograms per cubic metre, the country's benchmark for healthy air quality.

The World Health Organisation sets its PM2.5 safety limit at an annual concentration of 10mcg/cubic metre. That class of particulate was officially recognised as a human carcinogen last year by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, especially its link to lung cancer and a heightened risk of bladder cancer.

In 2012, some 157 million people in China lived in areas where the annual PM2.5 concentration was higher than 100mcg/cubic metre - 10 times the WHO's recommendation.

A previous study published in British medical journal The Lancet said outdoor air pollution contributed to 1.2 million premature deaths in China in 2010, or 40 per cent of the global total. Former health minister Chen Zhu said this year that pollution caused 350,000 to 500,000 premature deaths a year in China.

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Dec 17, 2014

EPA Celebrates 40th Anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act (CA)

Agency tours small drinking water systems, discusses small system challenges in Coachella ValleyLOS ANGELES — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). State, local and community representatives joined EPA Regiona... Please continue reading from: EPA 

11 Trillion Gallons of Water Needed To End California Drought

b Slashdot
 a new study which found that California can recover from its lengthy drought with a mere 11 trillion gallons of water. The volume this water would occupy (roughly 42 cubic kilometers) is half again as large as the biggest water reservoir in the U.S. A team of JPL scientists worked this out through the use of NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites. From the article:GRACE data reveal that, since 2011, the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins decreased in volume by four trillion gallons of water each year (15 cubic kilometers). That's more water than California's 38 million residents use each year for domestic and municipal purposes. About two-thirds of the loss is due to depletion of groundwater beneath California's Central Valley. ... New drought maps show groundwater levels across the U.S. Southwest are in the lowest two to 10 percent since 1949.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Dec 16, 2014

Plastic waste account for nearly 99 % of the marine litter

Plastic kits account for nearly 99 % of the marine litter in coastal waters, said a recent research conducted by Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI). The CMFRI study, on the kind of litter that is found in backwaters, said that of the total marine litter, almost 97.51% were plastic materials found in fishing nets. Please continue reading from: Environmental Health News

Could a simple stove save children's lives?

An estimated three billion people breathe in poisonous smoke from open-fire cooking, killing more than four million every year. In Malawi, a research team is conducting the largest-ever study on children into the effects of indoor smoke and hopes its results will save millions of young lives. Please continue reading from: Environmental Health News

Why disaster recovery planning can save lives

Computerworld : From Katrina to Sandy, tornadoes in the plains, flooding in the south and wildfires throughout the west, natural disasters threaten our world with destruction every year. The cost to rebuild and recover is phenomenal, so companies across the globe are investing in disaster recovery solutions to mitigate their losses and protect their data from these cataclysmic events.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

EPA to announce grant funding for Oakland, Calif. health nonprofit to help fight asthma in schools nationwide

SAN FRANCISCO – On December 17, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator will announce a major grant award to the Public Health Institute's Regional Asthma Management & Prevention, in Oakland, Calif. to help school-based health centers nationwid... Please continue reading from:  U.S. EPA News

Dec 15, 2014

Love Canal waste being trucked to Canada for disposal.

A notorious — and noxious — part of U.S. history is being moved to Canada. At least 80 truckloads of toxic waste left over from the infamous Love Canal are being trucked to a facility in Corunna, Ont., near Sarnia, to be burned and buried. Please continue reading from: 1Environmental Health News

More than 16 million children live in states where they can buy e-cigs legally.

More than 16 million children age 17 and under live in the District of Columbia and 10 states that allow them to buy e-cigarettes legally, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Please continue reading from: 1Environmental Health News

Dec 10, 2014

U.S. utilities face up to $48B revenue loss from solar, efficiency

Energy utilities face losing between $18 billion and $48 billion a year in the U.S and up to €61 billion a year in Europe by 2025 as solar power and energy conservation initiatives grow, according to Accenture.

The Accenture analysis, based on extensive modeling and a survey of global utilities executives, estimates that energy demand could be reduced by more than 15% due to new energy technologies by 2025.

For example, researchers at the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics at the University of New South Wales announced that they've achieved 40.4% efficiency in converting sunlight to electricity by using commercially available solar cells combined with a mirror and filters that reduce wasted energy.

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Great Lakes cleanup gets five more years

The U.S. House approved a five-year extension Tuesday of a Great Lakes cleanup program that has pumped more than $1.6 billion into fixing long-standing environmental threats. 
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EPA may remove 72 chemicals from pesticide ingredients

Chemicals such as turpentine oil and nitrous oxide are listed as candidates for removal 
Please continue reading from: HazMat Management

Hyundai, Kia to pay record $100 million Clean Air Act penalty

Hyundai and Kia gave consumers inaccurate information about the real-world fuel economy performance of many of these vehicles 
Please continue reading from: HazMat Management

Four DuPont workers suffocated by methyl mercaptan leak in Texas

HazMat Management Gilbert Tisnado was one of the workers who died from the leak, as he was responding to duties for the plant's crop protection division. His family has since launched a $1-million lawsuit against the company and its plant manager 

Dec 9, 2014

Record efficiency for converting solar energy to hydrogen without rare metals

GizmagUsing solar energy to split water into its component parts, thereby allowing the solar energy to be stored as hydrogen fuel, generally involves one of two methods: using photoelectrochemical cells to directly split the water, or using solar cells to produce electricity to power an electrolyzer that separates the water molecules. One problem associated with the latter method is that it currently relies on rare metals. But now scientists from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have managed to do so using common materials, and have achieved a record solar energy to hydrogen conversion efficiency in the process... Continue Reading Record efficiency for converting solar energy to hydrogen without rare metals 

Dec 3, 2014

Nuclear incident in Ukraine, less than 700 km away from Romania’s eastern border, officially announced after five days

An accident had occurred on Friday, November 28, at the Zaporizhye nuclear power plant (NPP) in south-east Ukraine, less than 700 km away from Romania's eastern border, according to Ukrainian officials quoted by international media.

Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk revealed this during the first session of his new cabinet, on Wednesday, December 3, according to Reuters.

The incident was "a minor accident" and a reactor was switched off and put to maintenance as a result, according to the facility's website, writes Russia Today (RT).

Ukraine's energy minister, Vladimir Demchyshyn, said that the accident posed no risk. "There is no threat, there are no problems with the reactors," Demchyshyn said. He added the accident affected the power output system and "in no way" was linked to power production itself, according to RT.

The accident left several dozen towns and villages without electricity. The reactor will be restarted on December 5.

The Zaporizhye nuclear power plant is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and the fifth largest in the world. It has six nuclear reactors, each with an installed capacity of 1,000 MW. The plant produces one fifth of Ukraine's electricity.

Ukraine has a tragic history with nuclear accidents, following the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, in 1986.

Romanian nuclear reactor also shuts down

Unit number one of the Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant, in Eastern Romania, was also shut down, on Wednesday, December 3, due to technical problems. The reactor was disconnected from the power grid.

"The unit's systems operated in compliance with the project, without affecting the nuclear safety of the reactor, the operational staff, the population and the environment. After the remediation works are completed, Unit 1 will be reconnected to the National Power Grid," state-owned Nuclearelectrica, the company which operates the power plant, announced on Wednesday.

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Nov 22, 2014

AT&T to pay California $52 million in hazardous waste disposal settlement.

AT&T Inc will pay $52 million in civil penalties and environmental compliance as part of a settlement with California over illegal dumping of hazardous waste but won't be required to clean up the resulting contamination, state officials said on Thursday. 
Please continue reading from: Environmental Health News

Nov 21, 2014

Solar Panels that glue on to roofs could almost eliminate installation costs

Next Big Future:  Installation and permit-related expenses currently account for more than half of the overall cost of a new solar power setup. "By simplifying the system so that it's like installing an appliance, we envision that the soft cost will be virtually eliminated," says Christian Hoepfner, director of the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, which developed the system. Doing so would lower the cost of a typical residential solar installation from $22,000 to as little as $7,500, he says.

Why It Matters

Installation costs more than hardware for a typical solar installation.

Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute install novel, flexible solar panels with an adhesive backing and quick-connect cables.

Ordinarily, installing and connecting a new array of rooftop solar panels takes days, weeks, or even months because the hardware is complex and various permits are needed. Yesterday, on a frigid day in Charlestown, Massachusetts, researchers completed the process in about an hour.

Homeowners can install the system themselves, by gluing it to a rooftop. The permitting is handled by a combination of electronic sensors and software that communicates with local jurisdictions and utilities.

Installation and permit-related expenses currently account for more than half of the overall cost of a new solar power setup. "By simplifying the system so that it's like installing an appliance, we envision that the soft cost will be virtually eliminated," says Christian Hoepfner, director of the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, which developed the system. Doing so would lower the cost of a typical residential solar installation from $22,000 to as little as $7,500, he says.

Solar power can be dangerous if not installed properly. Heavy components may be blown off a roof if not secured properly, and solar panels can produce potentially deadly voltages if not properly grounded, and every wire protected.

The Fraunhofer system uses light, flexible solar panels encased in durable plastics. The panels can be securely attached to a shingled roof via an adhesive backing that anchors the panels even in winds up to 110 miles per hour.

The solar panels use electrical equipment, developed by the startup VoltServer, that breaks DC power into discrete, addressed packets, something like the data packets sent over the Internet. If one of these packets fails to reach its destination—for example, if someone were to touch a damaged wire, the current is instantly cut off, preventing injury—a feat demonstrated by a brave EnerVolt employee at the Charlestown demonstration when he purposely touched an exposed wire on the new solar installation

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Nov 20, 2014

Study: Wisconsin groundwater contaminated by coal ash

The Oak Creek Power Plant near Milwaukee is a significant source of coal ash that a new report says is contaminating nearby groundwater. (Photo by JanetandPhil via Creative Commons)

The Oak Creek Power Plant near Milwaukee is a significant source of coal ash that a new report says is contaminating nearby groundwater. (Photo by JanetandPhil via Creative Commons)

Midwest Energy News - The "beneficial reuse" of coal ash, often touted as a way to keep the material out of landfills, is potentially causing serious contamination of drinking water in southeast Wisconsin and possibly across the state, according toa report released Tuesday byClean Wisconsin.

By classifying coal ash as an "industrial byproduct," as report author Tyson Cook says, companies are able to place contaminant-laden coal ash in the ground — as structural fill in and below roads, trails, parking lots, buildings, and bridges — with no lining or monitoring.

About 85 percent of Wisconsin's coal ash is reused, compared to about 50 percent nationwide. Congress has even called Wisconsin the "gold standard" on this front.

Clean Wisconsin's study of test results from almost 1,000 wells found that there is evidence such coal ash is contaminating groundwater that provides drinking water for thousands of residents.

At a Racine area elementary school, Clean Wisconsin's own testing found molybdenum levels at more than twice the state's enforcement standard.

Clean Wisconsin's analysis of state test results also found that molybdenum contamination is significantly higher in close proximity to coal ash structural fill sites — ash layered below roads, buildings and the like to create level ground and fill spaces. Higher molybdenum levels also corresponded to the flow of groundwater in relation to known coal ash reuse sites, the study found.

Molybdenum itself is a serious concern, linked to developmental and reproductive problems and other health issues. And molybdenum could signal the presence of other toxic elementsfrom coal ash, potentially including boron, arsenic, chromium, cadmium, mercury, lead and selenium. The study also found arsenic levels higher in closer proximity to coal ash reuse sites.

Clean Wisconsin is a member of RE-AMP, which publishes Midwest Energy News.

'Just the tip of the iceberg'

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DuPont Chemical Plant Where 4 Workers Died Hadn't Had Workplace Safety Inspection In 7 Years

ThinkProgress - On Saturday morning, four workers died at a DuPont chemical plant that manufactures the pesticide Lannate in La Porte, Texas after a leak of the poisonous gas methyl mercaptan. A fifth was hospitalized but later released. The plant hasn't been visited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration since 2007.

Such a deadly accident without an explosion or fire is unusual, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Methyl mercaptan is subject to a number of federal environmental and safety regulations. But those regulations did not ensure that the plant was a safe place to work. It was last inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) seven years ago, when it was issued two serious violations for the safe management of highly hazardous chemicals, which could result in toxic or explosive risks. It was fined $1,700 for one and $1,800 for the other, although the latter was later reduced to $1,700.

The plant is also out of compliance with hazardous waste management and air emissions standards from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to records reviewed by the Wall Street Journal. The agency brought formal enforcement actions against it for violations in 2012 and 2014, resulting in $117,375 in penalties. DuPont is also in discussions with the EPA and Justice Department about these issues at the La Porte plant, which began after a 2008 inspection.

And over the last five years, the plant was cited for violating state law at least two dozen times by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, according to a review of state records by the Texas Tribune, for failures related to performing routine safety inspections, keeping equipment in working order, and preventing pollution leaks. Most recently, it released 36,500 pounds of sulfur dioxide over the course of three hours in September, well above the allowed limit, and in August last year it leaked 40 pounds of chlorine. Some of the more serious citations resulted in fines of a few thousand dollars.

In a statement about the incident, DuPont said, "There are no words to fully express the loss we feel or the concern and sympathy we extend to the families of the four employees who died on November 15, and their co-workers," adding, "We are working closely with local, state and federal authorities as they conduct a thorough investigation into the incident, which will take some time. As part of that investigation, we are conducting our own top-to-bottom review of this incident and we will share what we learn with the relevant authorities." The federal Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has already dispatched a seven-person team to the plant to investigate.

The CSB has previously inspected accidents at four other DuPont facilities, including two fatal ones. The company also settled a case brought by federal prosecutors that alleged it violated the Clean Air Act between 2006 and 2010 at a plant in Belle West, Virginia. One incident resulted in a worker's death thanks to exposure to a toxic gas.

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Floating off-grid greenhouse can feed two families

The Jellyfish Barge operates off-grid and produces its own water via an onboard system of ...

GizmagItalian design office Studiomobile has teamed up with the University of Florence's Professor Stefano Mancuso, who is the director of the International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology, to produce a prototype floating greenhouse in a bid to improve food security in areas with little arable land. The Jellyfish Barge operates off-grid and produces its own clean water via an onboard system of solar distillation. .. Continue Reading Floating off-grid greenhouse can feed two families 


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Nov 19, 2014

House Passes Bill That Makes It Harder For Scientists To Advise The EPA

ThinkProgress - The House voted 229-191 to pass H.R. 1422, which would change the rules for appointing members to the Science Advisory Board (SAB), a group that gives scientific advice to the EPA Administrator. Also called the Science Advisory Board Reform Act, the bill would make it easier for scientists with financial ties to corporations to serve on the SAB, prohibit independent scientists from talking about their own research on the board, and make it more difficult for scientists who have applied for grants from the EPA to join the board.

The purpose of the bill, according to Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), is to increase transparency and accountability to the EPA's scientific advisors. Burgess said on the floor Tuesday that the board "excludes industry experts, but not officials for environmental advocacy groups." With this bill, Burgess said the inclusion of industry interests would erase "any appearance of impropriety on the board."

But scientistsenvironmental groups, and health expertshave said that the bill compromises the scientific independence of the SAB, and makes it harder for the Board to do its job, thereby increasing the amount of time it takes to implement EPA regulations.

"The supposed intent [of the bill] is to improve the process of selecting advisors, but in reality, the bill would allow the board to be stacked with industry representatives, while making it more difficult for academics to serve," said Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) on the House floor on Tuesday. "It benefits no one but the industry, and it harms public health."

As it is now, the SAB does allow and include advisors with industry expertise. Of the board's current 51 members, which are appointed by the EPA Administrator for three-year terms, three have industry expertise. But bill sponsor Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) says that's not enough.

"All we're asking is that there be some balance to those experts, and that there further be transparency and understanding of who was selected, why they were selected, and why others were excluded," he said. "We're losing valuable insight and valuable guidance because we don't include them in the process."

While transparency and accountability is generally deemed a good policy move on both sides of the aisle,some have accused Rep. Stewart of having an ulterior motive for introducing the bill — a distrust of scientists, a dislike of the EPA, and support for the oil and gas industry. Indeed, Stewart doubts the existence of man-made climate change, and has said he would like to see the EPA dissolved.

"I get it, you don't like science," said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) on the House floor on Tuesday. "And you don't like science that interferes with the interests of your corporate clients. But we need science to protect public health and the environment."

The Union of Concerned Scientists has come out strongly against the bill, particularly the portion that says SAB members can not participate in discussions that cite their own peer-reviewed research. Republicans say this would make scientists biased for their own work — but scientists say this makes no sense.

Nov 18, 2014

Reports from Italy that Bill Gates Foundation is close to investing $1 billion to support Cold Fusion Research

[Ecat world translation of L'Arena article] His [Bill Gates] foundation is considering in supporting some of our projects" said the commissioner Testa. Bill Gate's foundation will invest in some of ENEA's thermonuclear fusion projects. Much is due to the efforts of ENEA's Commissioner, the Veronese Federico Testa, who last Wednesday toured Microsoft Corporation's founder around the research centre of Frascati. 

We have reached a statement of understanding" continued Testa, "to identify practical collaboration steps. The foundation will invest about 1 billion dollars in research. ENEA has all the technical and human characteristics to be successful in this venture: if we manage to get this money it will be not only to my satisfaction, as a commissioner, but also for the government. ENEA is the Italian leader in an international project regarding cold and hot fusion, call ITER. From this project ENEA is a 13% share holder, and with this share, it managed to get to Italy the 65% of funds reserved to it, that is 987 million euro. With all this money, many Italian industries have, and are still working. If the agreement with Bill Gates is reached, it can change Italy's faith, concluded ENEA's Veronese number one.

Read more »// Next Big Future

Rooftop solar electricity on pace to beat coal, oil

Computerworld The cost of rooftop solar-powered electricity will be on par with prices for common coal or oil-powered generation in just two years -- and the technology to produce it will only get cheaper.

The prediction, made by Deutsche Bank's leading solar industry analyst, Vishal Shah, is part of a report on Vivint Solar, the nation's second-biggest solar panel installer. Shah believes Vivint Solar is doing so well that it will double its sales each year for the next two years.

The sharp decline in solar energy costs is the result of increased economies of scale leading to cheaper photovoltaic panels, new leasing models and declining installation costs.

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Nov 15, 2014

OSHA Local Emphasis Program for Funeral Homes, Chemical and Product Manufacturing Plants, Printing Facilities, and Outpatient Care Centers

By James L. Curtis and Craig B. Simonsen

In an illustration of how widely OSHA will be looking at industries that use highly hazardous chemicals, OSHA's Omaha Area Director recently announced that a Local Emphasis Program will include health inspections at funeral homes, chemical and product manufacturing plants, printing facilities, and outpatient care centers. See, for instance, Appendix A.

Appendix A, Directive CPL 02-14-009.

Bonita Winingham, the Area Director for OSHA in Omaha, Nebraska said that "this local emphasis program will allow OSHA to use its resources efficiently by focusing on industries that are known to use these types of highly hazardous chemicals." "Through this program, OSHA will improve education for company management and strengthen worker protections."

The Expanded Health Standard Inspection Local Emphasis Program (LEP), Directive CPL 02-14-009, was set to expire in September, but the Region's announcement has indicated the Program's renewal.

According to the Directive, the increased health risk of some chemicals, e.g. benzene, formaldehyde, and methylene chloride, led OSHA to created and enforce chemical-specific regulations for general industry known as "expanded health" standards (29 CFR sections 1910.1001 to 1910.1052). These regulations include exposure limits and monitoring requirements, and in some cases medical surveillance components.

The LEP, according to OSHA, was meant to increase the probability of inspecting establishments in industries that use highly-hazardous chemicals, within the jurisdiction of the Omaha Area Office, that have not received a comprehensive OSHA health inspection, and are not covered by other specific targeting programs.

These industries, both in the targeted area, and nationally, may wish to check their company safety policies, procedures, and training to ensure compliance with OSHA standards and to minimize any potential liability that may come with an OSHA inspection under this LEP and OSHA general industry standards.

Please read full and follow at: Environmental & Safety Law Update

Nov 14, 2014

Cheap Oil,Economics no longer makes Keystone pipeline viable

MSN: The 28 percent decline in oil prices puts any oil project not under construction at risk of being canceled or delayed. What's next for Keystone?

"Anything not under construction [is] at risk of being delayed or canceled altogether," said Dinara Millington, vice president for research at Calgary-based CERI. Her cost estimates include the price of drilling new wells, meaning that existing wells that have already been paid for can continue to pump oil profitably, she said.

CERI' s analysis squares with the views of other experts, who have pointed to low prices as a sign that economic facts, at least for now, don't match political rhetoric coming from Washington, where Keystone has been a goal for both Republicans and for Senate Democrats from oil-producing states.

One of the latter, Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, is in a tough reelection fight, which went to a runoff set for Dec. 6 after no candidate won a majority of the initial vote last week. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid yesterday set a vote on Keystone for next week after Landrieu called for a vote in the Senate, which has refused to take up House of Representatives-approved legislation authorizing the pipeline.

Oil sands are among the most expensive sources of oil, costing an average of $75 to $80 a barrel to produce, Norwegian energy-consulting firm Rystad Energy said in June.

"I would think that in order for new drilling projects to be capitalized and economical, the price of oil would need to be around $85 to $90," Moody's Analytics energy economist Chris Lafakis said.

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Nov 13, 2014

U.S. and China Make Landmark Climate Deal

SlashdotAfter extended talks on the issue of climate change, the U.S. and China have reached a landmark accord to curb emissions in the near future. The two countries are the top carbon polluters, so their actions are likely to have a major effect on world pollution levels and also set the standard for other countries. The agreement includes China's first-ever commitment to stop the growth of its emissions by 2030. They plan on shifting a big chunk of their energy production to renewables in that time. The U.S. agreed to emit 26-28% less carbon in 2025 than it did in 2005. Their efforts could spur greater enthusiasm for a new global climate agreement in 2015.
Reader jones_supa adds details of another interesting part of the U.S.-China talks:Technology products look likely to gain more access to international marketsas a result of upgrade between the U.S. and China on a 1996 tariff-eliminating trade agreement that President Obama announced Tuesday in Beijing. The agreement is expected to lower prices on a raft of new technology products by eliminating border tariffs — a price impact that's expected to be larger outside the United States, since U.S. tariffs on high-tech goods are generally lower than those overseas. "This is a win-win-win agreement for information and communication technology industries in the U.S., Europe, Japan and China, for businesses and consumers who purchase IT products and for the global economy."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

China seen overtaking U.S. as world’s biggest oil user

Fuel Fix »  China will overtake the U.S. as the world's biggest oil consumer within two decades, according to the International Energy Agency.

"A landmark is reached in the early 2030s, when China becomes the largest oil-consuming country, crossing paths with the United States," the agency said in a summary of its World Energy Outlook, which forecasts long-term energy trends. The full findings of the report will be presented at a press conference in London today.

Growth in oil demand to 2040 will also be driven by India, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, the IEA said. Consumption in developed economies will shrink, with oil use in the U.S. falling to the lowest level in decades, it said

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Nov 12, 2014

Pesticides blamed for clinical depression in farmers

Seven pesticides, including some that are very common, are triggering clinical depression among US farmers, a 20-year study released by the US National Institutes of Health has indicated.

The study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that farmers who used organochlorines - one of two categories of the seven pesticides - to eradicate insects, weeds, and fungi were up to 90 percent more likely to have been diagnosed with depression. Farmers who employed widely-used fumigants, the other category, were up to 80 percent more likely to suffer from depression. The study was first published last month.

To investigate any connections between depression and pesticide use, the NIH researchers interviewed about 84,000 farmers and spouses of farmers beginning in the mid-1990s.

"There had been scattered reports in the literature that pesticides were associated with depression," Dr. Freya Kamel, the lead researcher for the study, told Modern Farmer. "We wanted to do a new study because we had more detailed data than most people have access to."

One common pesticide among the seven analyzed by NIH was malathion, used by 67 percent of the farmers involved in the study. Malathion is banned in Europe.

The researchers found that only 8 percent of farmers surveyed said they has sought treatment for depression, which is below the 10 percent of Americans who have reached out for professional help.

"We didn't have to deal with overreporting [of depression] because we weren't seeing that," Kamel told Modern Farmer.

Still, seeking treatment for depression is not the same as actually suffering from it.

Please continue reading from— RT USA

New analysis: U.S. is world’s number one wind energy producer, leading China and Germany

Washington, D.C., November 11 — The United States has more wind energy supplying its electrical grid than any other country, including China. With enough wind energy already online to power 15.5 million American homes, the world-record productivity of American wind power illustrates the success of the results-based federal Production Tax Credit now up for renewal.

Until recently the international standings in wind energy production have been difficult to establish because of missing data, but it can now be revealed that the U.S. holds roughly a 20 percent world lead in total wind-generated electricity – electrons actually delivered to factories, businesses and homes. That's although China pulled ahead of the U.S. several years ago in installed wind turbine capacity, the theoretical maximum that all turbines would produce if running full-out, in which it holds roughly a 50 percent lead. Two recent reports by international monitoring groups contain the data needed to conclude that the U.S. has actually been No. 1 in wind energy production since 2008 when it passed Germany, which is now in third place.

"America is blessed with outstanding wind resources. We invented utility-scale wind farms, and by investing in building and fine-tuning them here in the U.S., we now have some of the best infrastructure ever built in this country," said the author of the new analysis, Dr. James Walker, a pioneer of wind power. "This is a victory for American productivity, in an industry that began here and has rapidly evolved with the ingenuity of U.S. inventors, engineers, manufacturers, and developers."

Over $120 billion worth of U.S. wind projects have been installed since the year 2000. Their high quality and reliability h&s can be seen in their availability to operate on average more than 95 percent of the time the wind is strong enough to generate power.

"This shows once again that wind energy is an American success story," said AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan on a conference call today with reporters. "We've built an industry that's revitalizing local and rural economies in the U.S., attracting $15 billion a year in private investment into our economy, and we're leading the world in production.

"We have common-sense federal tax policy to thank for this production, the Production Tax Credit, which only rewards results. And being number one in the world is the best result you can ask for."

"This is a win-win game," Walker added, "but the way we got there over the last 10 or 15 years has been uniquely American. What is rewarded gets done. And competition improves the product."

In 2013, the United States produced over 167 billion kWh of wind energy, whereas China produced and delivered 138 billion kWh, according to Walker's analysis. It relies on data from the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Agency, the International Energy Agency, the Global Wind Energy Council, and the American Wind Energy Association.

American wind power not only leads the world in production, it does so with an American-made product, as more than half of the value of U.S. wind farms is now "made in the USA" with the favorable environment for investment in U.S. factories that the Production Tax Credit provides.

Please read full and follow at:

Nov 11, 2014

Certificate program in green chemistry being offered by University of Washington

UW offers certificate program in green chemistry
A new certificate program from the University of Washington will help chemists, environmental and sustainability professionals, health and safety professionals and product managers make informed product decisions that take into account sustainability, toxicity and human health concerns. The certificate in Green Chemistry & Chemical Stewardship will be offered through the Professional and Continuing Education program at the University of Washington.

There will be three online courses in the certificate and individuals can sign up for a single course on a space available basis:
·  Sustainability, Toxicology and Human Health
·  Principles of Green Chemistry
·  Assessment Tools for Safer Chemical Decisions

The certificate program will be offered online and is intended to give professionals working in chemicals management experience using comparative chemical hazard assessment tools for product selection. The classes will be offered sequentially, beginning in January, 2015, and concluding in August, 2015. Students will complete a capstone project requiring them to evaluate a chemical or product within a sustainability framework.

Go to to learn more about the certificate program.

Legacy of Fukushima disaster (cesium-134) found in waters off coast of California via David DeMar (betawired)

David DeMar(betawired):  The 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster has had far-reaching effects, including the discovery of waterborne radioactive isotopes around 100 miles off the coast of California.

Volunteer oceanic monitoring crews from the Moss Landing Marine Laboratory discovered the radioactive isotopes in August, approximately due west of Eureka. The collected samples were then shipped to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts; the institute revealed on its website that the samples came back positive for traces of cesium-134, an isotope originating from the Fukushima disaster. The findings correlate with a Canadian study that found similar radioactive traces off the coast of British Columbia last February.

Woods Hole oceanographer Ken Buesseler said that the Fukushima plant has been giving off levels of radioactivity that he called “unprecedented” following the March 11 2011 earthquake and resultant tsunami. The natural disaster triggered a chain of events that led to the meltdown of half of the six nuclear reactors on site, creating a nuclear incident that rivals the Chernobyl disaster.

So far, the danger to human and seaborne life is likely to be low. Buesseler and the rest of his colleagues had been involved in testing the radioactivity levels off the coast of Japan near the Fukushima disaster, and the samples tested by Woods Hole originating off the coast of California were vastly safer by several orders of magnitude. Using a radioactivity unit known as a becquerel, Buesseler found that the Fukushima waters had tens of millions of becquerels in one cubic meter of seawater – yet the waters off the coast of Eureka only had around 2 becquerels in a cubic meter. The oceanographer said that this is quite low, and is around 1,000 times lower than what the US Environmental Protection Agency has classified as a “safe” level of background radiation for drinking water.

The Fukushima disaster has been held up as a valid reason to transition from nuclear-powered electricity generation to safer and more environmentally friendly power plants. In the wake of the event, international pressure to increase investment into renewable energy resources and to phase out nuclear power generation has increased significantly.

Nov 9, 2014

I voted this week. I voted for the human race. Will my vote count?

Republicans or Democrats? ... our problems won't we solved by the political race.
I voted for the human race.

Fact: Global Warming is a science that was created after the industrial revolution in the U.S. when it was proven (not theory) that our industrialization was changing the entire world. Based on this science, environmental measures were put into place and the results of those led to reports that justified the current, environmental laws and regulations we have in U.S.

40 years of these laws has made most of the U.S. Cleaner than it was in the 70's and continues to improve.

Fact: Air Conditioning has contributed most to population and growth in unstainable regions, decimating aquifers world wide to provide fresh water to areas that can not replenish it.
(Covered in new book by @stevenbjohnson)

Fact: The same soot and particulate emissions that kill nearly a billion people a year, have been settling on the globes snow packs and glaciers causing them to melt at a uncontrollable rate (not by globewarming, by thermal absorption). Note: Africa will spew half world's particle pollution by 2030.

While CO2 and warming influences are debatable...l these facts are not and are a cause for everyone to help stop it.

Last and most devastating fact:
If the U.S. And European Union stopped ALL chemical, fossil fuel and energy production... Current chemical, fossil fuel use and emissions would still double over next decade, due to Growth in Asia and Middle East.

Knowing those facts, what was your/our solution?
We can't just keep restating the facts, arguing about the weather or blaming the U.S. And Europe to do something. U.S. /U.K. are taking "just enough" steps not too implode their already collapsing economies. For every coal/nuke plant the U.S. /U.K. Shut down... 50 more pop up.

And at the end of the day WATER* is the real problem and is already more expensive than oil in regions.

The unstoppable War?
These facts are just the surface, as the Middle East and Indonesia continue to imports their nations basic fuel, water and food requirements... By as soon as 2020, they will no longer be able to afford to import them. Will we give ours or will they just step into Africa, Russia and UK and take them? Best case scenario is 2050, so we don't have to worry now I guess...

These issues are no longer a debate, they are the key to our survival.

The human race, is the race we need to win.

Until we begin to act like a child born 5,000 miles is still our child and our responsibility I am not sure we know where the starting line even begins.

Thanks for allowing my rant.

-Christopher Haase
This is from a comment I left at;


Nov 8, 2014

Building every possible energy alternative and China will still use coal for over 50% of its energy in 2030

Under the most aggressive assumptions China will still be using coal for over 50% of its power needs in 2030

At the same time as China renewables grow, the absolute amount of China coal fired generation will continue to skyrocket. According to Bloomberg, 343-450 Gigawatts of new coal generation will be built in China over the next fifteen years, more than the total capacity of the entire current US coal fleet, which is roughly 300 Gigawatts. Put another way, even in the Bloomberg best case, with the most aggressive solar and wind investments in the world, China will continue to bring on line roughly an average of one large 500 MW coal plant per week through 2030. This is on top of China's existing 750 GW coal fleet, already more than twice the size of America's.

Read more » at Next Big Future

Nov 6, 2014

Barsha pump provides irrigation water, but doesn't need fuel

GizmagClimate-KIC, a European-union climate innovation initiative, recently selected a jury of entrepreneurs, financiers and business people to award funding to what they felt were Europe's best clean-tech innovations of 2014. Taking first place was Dutch startup aQysta, a Delft University of Technology spin-off company that manufactures what's known as the Barsha irrigation pump. It can reportedly boost crop yields in developing nations by up to five times, yet requires no fuel or electricity to operate. .. Continue Reading Barsha pump provides irrigation water, but doesn't need fuel 

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