BP isn't about to let a little worker-killing, ecosystem-wrecking, fisheries-destroying explosion and oil spill slow it down in the Gulf of Mexico.
The company deployed two more oil rigs to the Gulf in recent weeks, boosting its fleet to nine -- its largest ever in the area. It brought in the West Auriga rig, known as an ultra-deepwater drillship, and the Mad Dog platform, which was damaged by Hurricane Ike in 2008. Fuel Fix reports:
Republicans and a handful of Democrats in Congress really want to demonstrate their loyalty to their fossil-fuel masters. The House has passed three bills to benefit the oil and gas industry, but they have no chance of being becoming law so long as Barack Obama is president.
H.R. 1965 -- Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act
Sponsor: Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.)
What it would do: "This would direct that federal lands be managed for the primary purpose of energy development, rather than for stewardship balancing multiple uses including recreation," according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Astonishingly, it also would curb and then penalize the public for raising concerns about oil and gas projects on public lands that may affect them."
A rural cooperative is about to cook up Iowa's biggest solar array -- in the aptly named community of Frytown.
The local board of supervisors recently rezoned nine acres of land owned by the Farmers Electric Co-op, which is planning to build a 500-kilowatt array at the site. Co-op officials say construction could be finished by March, meeting 15 percent of the power needs of its 600 members in eastern Iowa.
“It keeps our money local,” said Warren McKenna, the co-op's general manager, according to The Daily Iowan. “We’re not sending our money up to the larger companies. [It] saves everybody money.” Johnson County planning and zoning official RJ Moore said the solar farm would be the only one of its kind in the state.
So long as the U.S. government is going to stand around shrugging its shoulders over the nation's growing nuclear waste stockpile, it must stop charging nuclear power plant owners $750 million a year in waste-storage fees.
That was the ruling of a federal appeals court on Tuesday. It's the latest twist in a decades-long saga over the fate of the plutonium and other radioactive waste that's piling up at nuclear plants across the country -- more than 70,000 tons so far.
There isn't a country in the world that's on track to reduce emissions to the extent needed to keep global warming under 2 degrees Celsius (3.7 Fahrenheit). But for a glimpse of something resembling climate leadership, peer across the pond.
The Climate Change Performance Index [PDF], produced by Germanwatch and Climate Action Network Europe, ranks countries based on their greenhouse gas emissions, emissions-reduction efforts, energy efficiency, renewable energy portfolios, and policies aimed at slowing climate change. Here's the top-10 list from this year. Every country is in Europe:
There's somuchplasticcrap floating in the Pacific Ocean and washing up on shorelines that one atoll in the midst of the mess could be declared a Superfund site.
Tern Island is the largest island in the French Frigate Shoals, a coral archipelago 550 miles northwest of Honolulu, part of the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Replete with lagoons, wildlife, and alluring white sands, the island could be a paradise on Earth. But it’s not. Plastic pollution there is so bad that a year ago the Center for Biological Diversity asked the feds to consider adding Tern Island and the rest of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, plus a part of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that's in federal waters, to its Superfund list — a list of the nation’s most polluted places. From the petition [PDF]:
The reefs and shores of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands are littered with hundreds of thousands of pounds of plastic garbage. Derelict fishing gear and debris entangles innumerable fish, sea birds, and marine mammals, often resulting in injury and death. Plastic pollution harms wildlife via entanglement, ingestion, and toxic contamination, causes substantial economic impacts, and is a principal threat to the quality of the environment.
Clouds of coal dust and petroleum coke, a waste product from the refining of tar-sands oil, have been enveloping neighborhoods on Chicago's southeast side. Federal, state, and city officials are finally moving to temper the dangerous air pollution.
The villains: KCBX Terminals (a division of Koch Industries) and Beemsterboer Slag Co.
The villainous acts: The companies own three terminals along the Calamut River that are storing huge piles of coal and petroleum coke, aka petcoke, which is coming from a nearby BP refinery. But they aren't bothering to cover all that gunk to make sure it stays on site, so it's being picked up by winds and blown over neighboring homes, forcing residents to stay indoors.
The plot: The piles of petcoke are expected to grow in Chicago and elsewhere around the country as refineries switch to processing tar-sands oil from Canada. Detroit suffered a similar problem (also courtesy of the Kochs) until city, state, and federal officials banded together to chase it away with lawsuits and legislation.
The victims: Residents of Chicago's East Side and South Deering neighborhoods.
Through a simple, horrendous policy: growth at all costs.
In other words, forget about public health, screw happiness, trample justice, and fuck the environment. Just go out there and make as much damned money as you can.
But as the country begins grasping the environmental and social carnage that unchecked growth has inflicted, its leaders are realizing that "growth at all costs" is no way to live.
"A subtle shift in China is under way," Scotiabank commodity market analyst Patricia Mohr said during a recent mining conference. "They are no longer determined to have economic growth at any cost; they want economic growth which meets their objectives."
If poring over draft fracking regulations is your cup of tea, then we've got a big steaming teapot for you.
California and Illinois both proposed rules governing hydraulic fracturing on Friday, after their governors signed bills requiring them earlier this year. A quick read of the tea leaves suggests that frackers are going to continue plundering Illinois with little thought given to environmental impacts. Frackers operating in California, however, will need to abide by some tough new regulations -- but not tough enough to mollify environmentalists, who continue to call for a fracking moratorium in the Golden State.
Let's look at Illinois first. "The new rules will include requirements that oil and gas companies test water before, during and after drilling, and hold them liable if contamination is found after drilling begins," the Associated Press reports. But that's not good enough, greens say.
The Tennessee Valley Authority plans to shut down eight of its coal-burning generating stations in Alabama and Kentucky. Board members of the federally owned utility agreed to the plan last week, reacting to changing market conditions and federal environmental rules. The move will reduce coal generation by 3,300 megawatts in the two states.
The decision is being seen as a blow to the local coal industry, but a boon for the region’s air quality. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) met with TVA's CEO in a bid to dissuade the utility from shuttering coal plants, but to no avail. Enviros, meanwhile, cheered the development.
Absent from the seemingly positive news, however, is any mention of renewables. Wind and solar farms are being built across the country, but TVA said it’s hoping to turn to natural gas and nuclear power to help it plug the gaps created by its abandonment of coal.