An era of ferocious storms and wildfires is not mixing well with America's aging electrical grid.
The White House published a report Monday calling for a substantial amount of money to be spent fortifying the country's electrical grid, better protecting transmission lines and other infrastructure from storms, floods, and other severe weather events. From the report [PDF]:
Severe weather is the number one cause of power outages in the United States and costs the economy billions of dollars a year in lost output and wages, spoiled inventory, delayed production, inconvenience and damage to grid infrastructure. Moreover, the aging nature of the grid -- much of which was constructed over a period of more than one hundred years -- has made Americans more susceptible to outages caused by severe weather. Between 2003 and 2012, roughly 679 power outages, each affecting at least 50,000 customers, occurred due to weather events.
The owners of California’s most polluting industries will be breathing a little easier under a greenhouse gas rule being developed by the state — but their neighbors will not be so lucky.
Californian businesses will soon be allowed to purchase carbon offsets to help them achieve up to 8 percent of required greenhouse gas reductions under the state’s climate change rules. So an oil refinery or factory could sink some funds into a reforestation or energy-efficiency project somewhere else in the U.S. and not reduce its own pollution as much.
The carbon offset rule, being developed by the California Air Resources Board (ARB), will help ensure that the state’s climate change regulations do what they are intended to do — reduce the amount of greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere.
The world's largest operator of nuclear power plants is dumping its stake in American reactors, turning its focus instead to wind and solar power.
French utility company EDF announced this week that it will sell its stake in Constellation Energy Nuclear Group (CENG), which operates five nuclear reactors in New York and Maryland.
EDF cited cheap power produced by fracked natural gas as the big reason why it's abandoning its American nuclear facilities. But the company said it will now focus its American business strategy not on fossil fuels but on renewable energy. From Reuters:
"Circumstances for the development of nuclear in the U.S. are not favorable at the moment," [EDF Chief Executive Henri] Proglio said.
Cuba has been slow to catch on to the clean energy trend, but it's now giving solar a go. The Communist nation's leaders know they need new energy options "after four failed attempts to strike it rich with deep-water oil drilling and the death of petro-benefactor Hugo Chavez," the AP reports.
The country's first solar power plant opened in the spring, and six more are in the works. More from AP:
The solar farm now generates enough electricity to power 780 homes and had saved the equivalent of 145 tons of fossil fuels, or around 1,060 barrels of crude, through the end of July. Peak capacity is expected to hit 2.6 megawatts when the final panels are in place in September.
While the Obama administration dithers over whether to approve TransCanada's planned Keystone XL pipeline, the pipeline builder announced Thursday that it will pursue an even bigger project connecting Alberta's tar-sands oil fields with refineries in the nation's east.
The 2,700-mile, $12 billion Energy East Pipeline would carry 1.1 million barrels per day, making it more than a third larger than Keystone XL, which is intended to carry 800,000 bpd.
The line, which still needs regulatory approval, could be in service by late 2017 for deliveries to Quebec and 2018 for New Brunswick, potentially reshaping the Atlantic Basin oil market and opening up new markets for Canadian crude.
What do Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and George W. Bush have in common?
Yes, OK, obviously they were all Republican presidents. But now there's something else that ties them all together.
EPA administrators who worked for all of those presidents have come out in support of stronger actions on climate change, co-signing a powerful op-ed in The New York Times supporting Barack Obama's climate plan and arguing that "the United States must move now on substantive steps to curb climate change."
Here are some highlights from the op-ed, which was written by William D. Ruckelshaus, Lee M. Thomas, William K. Reilly, and Christine Todd Whitman:
The costs of inaction are undeniable. The lines of scientific evidence grow only stronger and more numerous. And the window of time remaining to act is growing smaller: delay could mean that warming becomes “locked in.”
A market-based approach, like a carbon tax, would be the best path to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, but that is unachievable in the current political gridlock in Washington. Dealing with this political reality, President Obama’s June climate action plan lays out achievable actions that would deliver real progress. He will use his executive powers to require reductions in the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the nation’s power plants and spur increased investment in clean energy technology, which is inarguably the path we must follow to ensure a strong economy along with a livable climate. ...
To fight climate change, some scientists think we should vegetate the hell out of deserts. The latest such idea calls for large plantations of a hardy species of Central American tree to be planted in near-coastal desert areas and irrigated with desalinated water.
While forests soak up carbon dioxide, deserts do comparatively little to help with climate change. So should these seas of sand be planted and watered out of existence in a bid to reduce CO2 levels?
Some say yes. The approach would be like geoengineering, but rooted in a more natural system. Scientists call it bioengineering or carbon farming.
Wind developers have accepted invitations to the government’s New England offshore wind energy party.
There are currently no offshore wind farms in U.S. waters, but the Obama administration intends to change that. On Wednesday, the government auctioned off the right to construct turbines in nearly 165,000 acres of federal waters south of Massachusetts and Rhode Island -- the first of many offshore auctions the Interior Department has planned.