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John Upton's Posts


Indianapolis to get nation’s largest EV sharing program

Bolloré Group's Indianapolis EV-sharing program would mimic its French ones.
Bolloré Group's Indianapolis EV-sharing program would mimic its French ones.

Are you a fan of electric vehicles who doesn't want to own your own car?

Get thee to Indy.

A company that operates electric-vehicle sharing programs in France is looking to expand, and its executives have settled on Indianapolis for their first American foray. Bolloré Group's $35 million plan will provide 500 shared cars and 1,200 charging stations at 200 locations throughout Indiana's capital. The company's inaugural American initiative will be modeled on its French Autolib program, with sharing slated to begin next year.


Obama says a climate plan is coming next month, so climate hawks delay lawsuit

Shutterstock/ mistydawnphoto
"Sit tight, guys. Climate rules are coming soon, I swear."

A cavalry of lawyers representing states and environmental groups was expected to launch a legal assault against the Obama administration this week over its slow movement on climate rules, but the charge was postponed at the 11th hour.

What changed? Obama has been telling donors that he plans to unveil new climate change regulations as part of a larger climate strategy next month.

Those regulations are expected to include a long-awaited rule on carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants, which would likely make it impossible to build new coal plants unless they have carbon-capture technology. The administration has been delaying release of that rule, reportedly working to improve it so it can better withstand the inevitable industry lawsuits. That delay in turn prompted states and environmental groups to threaten their own lawsuit.

From Reuters:


Wind farms seek federal OK to kill eagles, pissing off both left and right

eagle near wind turbine
Watch out!

It’s not easy to unite the right-wing Heartland Institute and bird-loving environmentalists.

But that’s what some wind energy developers appear to be doing by proposing to the federal government that they be allowed to kill bald eagles and other protected species with their turbines.

Across the country, 14 wind projects have applied to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for permits that would let them "take" -- aka harm or kill -- a certain number of eagles each year. That includes four wind farms in California, one in Minnesota, and one in Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma project could be the first in the nation to actually receive such a permit. The company behind it, Wind Capital Group, wants permission to kill up to three bald eagles every year for 40 years on its proposed 94-turbine wind farm. A Native American tribe in the area is protesting, as are some conservation groups. The Daily Ardmoreite reports:


Nicaragua OKs plan for cross-country canal, environment be damned

Nicaragua map
"Let's cut it in two and let shipping through."

Nicaragua is one step closer to being carved in half by a massive cross-country canal. Leftist President Daniel Ortega rammed the project through his country's congress last week.

The lawmakers gave the Hong Kong-based HKND Group a 50-year concession to excavate and operate the canal, which is intended to rival Panama's. If it's actually built -- and that's still a big if -- it promises to give an economic boost to the bitterly poor country. Nicaragua would get a minority share of profits and, say backers, tens of thousands of jobs too.

But critics warn that would come at the expense of the environment and clean water supplies. From Agence France-Presse:

Centro Humboldt environmental group deputy director Victor Campos told AFP the project to link Nicaragua's Atlantic and Pacific coasts will jeopardize the watershed that supplies water to most of the impoverished country's population when it transits through Lake Nicaragua. ...


Al Gore, raising the heat on Obama, calls Keystone an “atrocity”

Center for American Progress Action Fund
The Goracle does not like Keystone.

From one Nobel Peace Prize winner to another, this whole Keystone XL thing is an "atrocity."

Al Gore has been calling on Barack Obama to step up the fight against climate change and Keystone, most recently during an interview with The Guardian:

The former vice-president said in an interview on Friday that he hoped Obama would follow the example of British Columbia, which last week rejected a similar pipeline project, and shut down the Keystone XL.

"I certainly hope that he will veto that now that the Canadians have publicly concluded that it is not safe to take a pipeline across British Columbia to ports on the Pacific," he told the Guardian. "I really can't imagine that our country would say: 'Oh well. Take it right over parts of the Ogallala aquifer', our largest and most important source of ground water in the US. It's really a losing proposition." ...


Climate change 101 with Ernest Moniz: “Count.”

basic math
Basic math.

For the sake of any slow ones in the room, how can we be so sure that humans are responsible for climate change?

Basic mathematics is a good place to start.

That's how Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz explained his confidence that humanity is to blame for climate distruption. He was addressing Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.), a climate skeptic, during a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on Thursday. McKinley was questioning whether humans or natural cycles were "primarily" responsible for climate change.

"The rise in CO2 emissions in the last half century is clearly tracked to our global increased energy use," Moniz replied. "I know how to count. I can count how many CO2 molecules have gone out from fossil fuel combustion and I know how many additional CO2 molecules are in the atmosphere."


Batteries included: New wind turbines and solar panels come with built-in storage

GE’s 2.5-120 wind turbine
General Electric
A new GE wind turbine comes with battery included.

If you want to use solar power at night or wind power on calm days, you need batteries that can store energy after it's produced. But why bother with two pieces of equipment when you could have one?

Engineers are now beginning to build batteries directly into wind and solar systems.

Combined renewable generation-storage systems are just starting to be deployed in the wind sector. From a report last month in Quartz:

[W]hat if every wind turbine became a node in an energy internet, communicating with the grid and each other to adjust electricity production while storing and releasing electricity as needed? That’s the idea behind General Electric’s new “brilliant” turbine, the first three of which the company said ... will be installed at a Texas wind farm operated by Invenergy.


Feds, Arkansas sue Exxon over tar-sands spill

Cleaning up after Exxon's Arkansas oil spill
Office of Attorney General Dustin McDaniel
Mopping up after Exxon in Arkansas.

You gotta feel for ExxonMobil.

Mere months after the oil giant was mildly stung by a $1.7 million fine for its 2011 spill in Yellowstone River, federal and Arkansas prosecutors have filed a lawsuit against the company seeking compensation and cleanup costs related to this year's tar-sands oil pipeline rupture in Mayflower, Ark.

From the L.A. Times:

The Justice Department and the state of Arkansas filed suit against the oil giant ExxonMobil over a March 29 pipeline rupture that spilled 210,000 gallons of oil into a residential neighborhood and waterways in the small town of Mayflower.


Pipeline spills oil waste on more than 100 acres in Alberta

A major spill of toxic oil waste has wiped out trees and vegetation across a 104-acre swath of Alberta, Canada. The apparent cause of the spill: The rupture of a five-year-old pipeline that was designed to last at least 30 years.

Alberta oil spill
Dene Tha via Nathan VanderKlippe
Apache's oil spill in Alberta

The pipeline spilled 2.5 million gallons of a waste mixture of oil and water, which the company responsible, Houston-based Apache Corp., downplayed as "salty water" with "trace amounts of oil."

Whatever you call it, it's nasty stuff. “Every plant and tree died” in the area touched by the spill, says the chief of the nearby Dene Tha First Nation, while The Globe and Mail reports that "aerial photos show a broad strip of trees that have turned brown."


Colorado city wants more than just a ban on fracking

Lafayette, Colo.
Let Ideas Compete
Lafayette, Colo.

The latest effort by a group of Coloradans to protect their community from frackers goes further than the bans and moratoriums recently put in place by Boulder, Fort Collins, and Longmont.

Residents of Lafayette, Colo., which has a population of 25,000, are collecting signatures in an effort to place a charter amendment on an upcoming ballot that would ban all new oil and gas extraction and establish a far-reaching community bill of rights.

Among other things, the bill of rights would proclaim that residents "possess a right to a sustainable, healthy energy future" and the "right to be free from involuntary chemical trespass including toxins, carcinogens, particulates, nucleotides, hydrocarbons and other substances." It would also declare that ecosystems "possess unalienable and fundamental rights to exist and flourish within the City of Lafayette."