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Digging deep to uncover biocarbon’s advantages for farmers

Filed under: Northwest Biocarbon Initiative, NBI, biocarbon, carbon, home, agriculture Soaking carbon from the atmosphere into farm soils is a widely advocated climate solution. A new Australian study kicks dirt all over the idea. Carbon markets would not provide sufficient incentives for farmers to build soil carbon. But digging in a little deeper uncovers a more favorable picture. The Australian Liberal Party has been battling to remove carbon fees supported by Labour. Too expensive, says the more conservative party. Its leaders instead propose buying 85 billion metric tons of farm soil carbon offsets through the nation’s Carbon Farming Initiative to …

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A “No Deniers Rule” for Solutions Companies

Is it possible for environmentally conscious companies to operate in Washington, D.C., without selling their clean energy souls? Customers asked this question earlier this year when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s lobby group  FWD.us released ads supporting the dirty tar-sands oil pipeline, Keystone XL, and again this summer when news broke that Google hosted a fundraiser for Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, the zealous leader of the climate denial movement who famously called climate change a “hoax” on the Senate floor and has compared the environmental movement to the Third Reich. Both Google and Facebook also gave money to support the Competitive …

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Why would Kiewit want the risk of an expanded coal mine?

That’s the question at the heart of a letter sent today to the CEO of Kiewit and the President of its mining subsidiary as this major construction company considers whether to bid on the Hay Creek II coal lease next week. The Bureau of Land Management has scheduled the lease of 167 million tons of publicly-owned coal for September 18th, in response to a Kiewit subsidiary’s application to expand its Buckskin coal mine in Wyoming. But the demand for coal has weakened dramatically since the company requested the expansion in 2006, as this dirtiest of fossil fuels is replaced by …

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Kentucky’s Coal Challenges – Public Health, Clean Water, and Clean Air

Guest column by Heather Moyer, Sierra Club This week's column focuses on some big coal-related news items out of the Bluegrass State, where some inspiring Beyond Coal activists are making waves. First, some good news: In a victory for clean water and public health, late yesterday a Kentucky circuit court overruled a lax permit that allowed Louisville Gas and Electric (LG&E) to dump large amounts of mercury, arsenic  and other pollutants into the Ohio River from its Trimble County Generating Station coal-fired plant. That good decision news comes along with a bad one: A Kentucky judge just ruled that a …

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U.S. Nuclear Power in Decline

By J. Matthew Roney Nuclear power generation in the United States is falling. After increasing rapidly since the 1970s, electricity generation at U.S. nuclear plants began to grow more slowly in the early 2000s. It then plateaued between 2007 and 2010—before falling more than 4 percent over the last two years. Projections for 2013 show a further 1 percent drop. With reactors retiring early and proposed projects being abandoned, U.S. nuclear power’s days are numbered. The nuclear industry's troubles began well before the 1979 accident at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island nuclear plant sowed public mistrust of atomic power. In 1957, …

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Europe says its own biofuels policies increase food costs 50%, drive deforestation

Two new studies that came out in Europe during the last couple of days show that biofuel mandates are causing consumers far more pocketbook pain – and contributing more to deforestation and climate pollution – than even previous studies suggested. The European Union’s own Joint Research Center found that Europe’s biofuels mandates are dramatically driving up food prices. Here’s the summary from Euractiv: If biofuels received no EU policy support, the price of food stuffs such as vegetable oil would be 50% lower in Europe by 2020 than at present – and 15% lower elsewhere in the world – according …

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5 Barriers to and Solutions for Community Renewable Energy

Community renewable energy has significant political and economic benefits, but is often hindered by five major barriers.  Read on for a summary of the five barriers, watch them in a 17-minute presentation, or check out the vividly illustrated slideshow. Barrier one is tradition. Utilities are simply used to operating a grid in a 20th century model, where large-scale power plants are connected in a top-down, one-way grid to power consumers. Policies that have allowed for on-site solar and wind generation, for consumers to be instead producers, have nibbled at the margins of this tradition.  It's only in the past year …

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Playing the Energy Lottery

Last year Americans spent $65billion on lottery tickets. In some games, the odds of winning have been compared to the probability of being struck by lightning while sinking a hole-in-one. The average U.S. homeowner spends $600 a year on fire insurance, but the likelihood of ever claiming against that policy is less than 1%. Why then are we so reluctant to make investments that are guaranteed to return profits and which provide insurance against real risks on a planetary scale? As many of us were lathering up with sunscreen one last time this summer, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate …

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Uniting Cascadia: The forest biocarbon connection

The Pacific Northwest possesses a singular regional identity, one of the strongest in North America.  A large portion of the population is here by choice, opting to move here or to stay here despite the lure of opportunities elsewhere. But what draws the region together?  What are the roots of this identity?     Diamond Creek Falls, Willamette National Forest - courtesy of James Wellington Since the 1980s a powerful stream of identity has come in a fresh name for the region, Cascadia.  Originating from a geology text of the same name, Cascadia now graces numerous institutions such as Cascadia …

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Buying Local Solar Makes Florida City a World Leader

“It’s the only time I’ve done a rate increase when nobody was opposed,” says Ed Regan of the Gainesville utility’s feed-in tariff for solar power.  The program, launched in 2009, has resulted in nearly 15 megawatts of new, local solar energy generation on or near buildings in the northeast Florida town, enough to make it one of the leading communities in per capita solar worldwide.  The program is open to participation by anyone in Gainesville, with the utility buying all solar energy in the program on a fixed price, 20-year contract. It all started about ten years ago, when Pegeen …

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