If you build a new home in Tesla Motors' hometown, your electrician is going to need to wire it up for an electric vehicle charger.
The Palo Alto, Calif., City Council recently endorsed a building-code change that would require builders to include wiring in new homes that can easily be connected to a charger. The council also directed city staff to figure out how to make it easier and cheaper to obtain permits for new EV chargers.
A Kiribati couple and their children have left their island home for New Zealand, seeking refuge from rising seas -- and the fate of their immigration case could shape the future for thousands of other climate refugees.
We told you last year that the 100,000 people who live on the low-lying Pacific Ocean archipelago are desperately seeking new homes, with waves already submerging some of its 32 carol atolls. Now, attention has turned to the case of a 37-year-old and his wife and kids who are seeking asylum in New Zealand after fleeing six years ago.
Here's the story the man told New Zealand's immigration tribunal, via the AP:
The man said that around 1998, king tides began regularly breaching the sea walls around his village, which was overcrowded and had no sewerage system. He said the fouled drinking water would make people vomit, and that there was no higher ground that would allow villagers to escape the knee-deep water.
He said returning to the island would endanger the lives of his two youngest children.
"There's no future for us when we go back to Kiribati," he told the tribunal, according to the transcript. "Especially for my children. There's nothing for us there."
We've writtenat length about the American military's push to go green, and how that's helping to turn the world's most powerful defense force into a leaner and meaner fighting machine.
But here's another reason for the guys and gals in green to ditch dirty fossil fuels: Shifting to solar or wind power can spare soldiers from the dangerous task of hauling massive amounts of incendiary fluids across battlefields -- becoming prime targets for anti-American forces.
With renewable energy, “there is no supply chain vulnerability, there are no commodity costs and there’s a lower chance of disruption,” Richard Kidd, the deputy assistant secretary of the Army in charge of energy security, said in an interview. “A fuel tanker can be shot at and blown up. The sun’s rays will still be there.”
Anybody casting an eye down the desolate hallway of a furloughed federal department might conclude that Congress is incapable of doing anything. But that's not quite true. This week it succeeded in hounding a well-qualified energy regulator out of the energy-regulating job to which he had been nominated.
President Obama had nominated Ron Binz to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. But after being attacked for weeks by coal companies and their Republican (and Democratic) friends in Congress, the former chair of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday gave up any hope of securing the blessing that he needed from lawmakers.
Why all the hate? Because Binz supports solar and wind power -- renewable forms of energy that he has concluded can help America hedge against the economic volatility and environmental hazards posed by fossil fuels.
Floridian citrus growers are upping the chemical ante as they struggle to save their groves from citrus greening -- a devastating bacterial infection spread by tiny invasive insects known as Asian citrus psyllids.
While the orange growers used to spray insecticides a few times a year, The Ledger newspaper reports that they are now dousing their groves monthly. (And we recently told you about a Florida's Natural supplier that was accused of spraying its crops every four days with multiple chemicals, killing off honeybee colonies and leading to a $1,500 fine.)
Needless to say, the region's apiarists are none too pleased to see their bees being killed by the insecticides. The Ledger article describes a growing war between Florida's powerful citrus growers and the smaller apiary industry:
More than 60,000 gallons of oil and other petrochemical-laced fluids are now confirmed to have been spilled from fracking operations during recent floods in Colorado -- and two congressmembers are calling for a hearing into the toxic eruption.
State oil officials have been doing their best to track oil spills and equipment leaks amid floods that killed eight and destroyed 1,800 homes. In an update published Monday [PDF], the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission said it is tracking 14 "notable" oil spills that released an estimated 44,000 gallons. It is also monitoring 12 leaks of "produced" water -- an estimated 17,000 gallons of water polluted with oil and gas residue from fracking operations.
Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, think that's pretty effing disturbing. They sent a letter [PDF] last week to committee chair Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) asking him to schedule a hearing into the effects of leaks from Colorado's fracking sector during the floods:
As Congress continues to consider policies to expand domestic oil and gas production, we would benefit from learning more about how disasters like this can impact local communities, states, and federal regulators. We respectfully request that you hold a committee hearing as soon as possible so that we may fully understand the potential grave consequences resulting from this flood.
Frackers don't just foul the air and the water -- they trample nature and carve up ecosystems into inadequate little pieces.
That's the message coming out of the U.S. Geological Survey, which studied aerial photographs of a handful of Pennsylvania counties where gas companies are using hydraulic fracturing to tap deposits in the Marcellus Shale. The survey's analysis revealed sweeping damage and forests fragmented by new well pads, roads, and pipelines.
Jason Bell, a member of Marcellus Outreach Butler, told the Valley News Dispatch that the new study offers yet another example of why more careful regulation of the fracking boom is needed. "Often we don't get a bird's-eye view of what's happening," he said. "It's easy to see one or two wells and think it's having isolated effects."
But climate adaptation isn't just for the big players. Today, Dane County, Wis., which has a population of 500,000, will propose a budget that includes nearly $1 million worth of climate-adaptation spending -- aimed at everything from new storm water infrastructure to sand bags and other emergency equipment.
Dane County may have already experienced what a warmer Wisconsin could look like. Last year saw a summer drought, a winter of few but major snow events, a quick spring meltdown and then summer thunderstorms that brought flooding.
UW-Madison climate scientists are now predicting that by 2050, statewide annual average temperatures are likely to warm by 6 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit, with three or more weeks per summer where temperatures exceed 90 degrees.
Solar power installations are expected to edge out new wind farms this year for the title of fastest-growing clean energy source.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance has projected that photovoltaic plants will add 36.7 gigawatts of capacity this year -- up 20 percent from last year. New wind farms, meanwhile, will add 35.5 gigawatts. That's an awesome figure, too, but it's nearly a quarter less for wind than in 2012. From Bloomberg:
Lower panel costs and government support are accelerating deployment of solar energy even as growth slows in the mature European markets. Wind installations, more than double solar before 2011, are also being slowed by Europe, as well as a lack of clarity on policy in the U.S. and China.
Now comes news that Republican Gov. Pat McCrory's administration has turned down a pair of EPA grants that would have paid for monitoring of water quality and wetlands as the much-ballyhooed fracking bonanza gets underway. Because, um, well, they say it's because the fracking boom isn't happening quickly enough to justify any pre-fracking baseline environmental monitoring.
The state wetlands program's development unit applied for the two EPA grants before Gov. McCrory was sworn into office in January. Under McCrory, however, the unit was dissolved amid a bureaucratic restructure, and the Division of Water Resources turned down the nearly $600,000 worth of federal assistance that the state had previously requested.