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Do frightened grasshoppers increase carbon storage in grasslands?

Filed under: grasslands, NBI, biocarbon, carbon, natural systems Do frightened grasshoppers increase carbon storage in grasslands?  It appears the answer is yes, according to Yale Forestry School research that shows grasslands where grasshoppers are afraid of being eaten by spiders retain more carbon. But the reason for this phenomenon might not be what you think. The Yale team examined carbon storage in controlled settings where grasshoppers were alone, and others in which they had to contend with spiders. The researchers reported in a recent Proceedings of the National Academies of Science article that “up to 1.4-fold more carbon is retained in …

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Local Permitting Makes a Bigger Difference as Solar Gets Cheap

Going solar keeps getting cheaper, but most of the cost savings have come from less expensive solar panels.  “Soft costs,” like permitting and inspections, are a rising share of the cost of a solar installation.  Several years ago, these permits could increase the cost of a residential solar project (then around $8.00 per Watt) by 5-10% , highlighted in a 2010 study by Sunrun. But as solar gets cheaper, permitting is going to be a much bigger problem. A recent analysis by Lawrence Berkeley Labs [pdf] illustrates the benefits of streamlining solar permitting rules: it can cut the cost of …

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Environmental Justice Activists Look to Close Big Polluter’s Loopholes

A loophole is a polluter's best friend -- and today, community activists from fenceline communities traveled to Washington, D.C., to try and close one of them. These concerned citizens were in Washington to talk to the Obama administration about updates to the so-called "startup, shutdown, malfunction" rule for industrial facilities, including coal plants and refineries. Existing loopholes in many states allow big polluters to skirt responsibility for huge blasts of toxic emissions that sometimes happen when a facility is starting up, shutting down, or experiencing a malfunction. For polluters that put the bottom line before the well-being of neighboring communities, …

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The Climate Movement and the 2014 Elections

Here’s a thought: hundreds of local climate activists around the country running for federal, state and local offices in 2014, doing so in a connected way and with solutions to the climate crisis at the top of the list of issues they consistently talk about. Given the urgency of the crisis, this seems to me to be something we should begin to seriously consider. The use of this tactic has the potential to broaden out and strengthen the movement; running for office is an effective way to reach and interact with large numbers of people. And it is definitely to …

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British farmland missing huge natural benefits potential

Filed under: biocarbon, NBI, agriculture Patrick Mazza, Research Director By Patrick Mazza Climate Solutions Farm support programs that target only food production miss huge opportunities to generate natural benefits, a new British study documents. A team led by Ian J. Bateman of University of Easy Anglia reported in Science found that carbon storage benefits in agricultural land and tying farm support programs to environmental performance criteria could add £19 billion in natural services values annually in Britain. The new modeling study quantified ecosystem services benefits including carbon, recreation, and urban greenspaces. The study looked at British agricultural areas, including grassland, …

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BLM schedules two major coal leases, undermining President Obama’s climate action plan

Next week, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans to sell 148 million tons of publicly owned coal, making clear that BLM continues to ignore concerns about the carbon pollution from coal mining, burning and export proposals. In addition to this lease sale, known as “Maysdorf II,” BLM has also scheduled the sale of the “Haycreek II” lease sale for next month, which would give the mining industry access to another 167 million tons of our coal at subsidized rates - the last major Powder River Basin coal lease sale went to Peabody for just $1.10 per ton. Unless Interior …

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The growing buzz around the biocarbon benefits of farmland

Filed under: Northwest Biocarbon Initiative, climate change, NBI, soil, home, agriculture Patrick Mazza, Research Director By Patrick Mazza Climate Solutions Can agriculture reverse climate change? That was the intriguing title of a New America Foundation blog post covering a July 25 event at the think tank’s Washington, D.C. headquarters. The key theme was that changing the way agriculture is done can draw heat-trapping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere into farm soils to improve the viability of agriculture overall. With atmospheric CO2 rising to dangerous levels, actively spurring CO2 removal through plant photosynthesis is drawing new attention.  Plants use CO2 …

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600 Investors in South Dakota’s Premier Community Wind Project

In this episode of Local Energy Rules, ILSR's Director of Democratic Energy, John Farrell, speaks to Brian Minish, CEO of South Dakota Wind Partners about a community wind project that attracted over 600 local investors.  The project was the brainchild of four state organizations rooted in rural South Dakota–the East River Electric Cooperative, South Dakota Farm Bureau, South Dakota Farmers Union and South Dakota Corn Growers. Hoping to broaden ownership in a wind farm project proposed by Basin Electric in Crow Lake, these groups worked with Brian to figure out how to add local investors to the mix. Podcast (Local …

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“Everything is Connected” – The People vs. Coal Exports in the Northwest

In recent days, there were new developments in the fight against Northwest coal exports that stopped me in my tracks. Last week, the news broke that the official review of the largest proposed coal export terminal in Washington State will be unprecedented in scope, and will include not only the health and environmental effects of the project, but also the climate impacts of burning the coal in Asia. This announcement by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Washington State Department of Ecology, and Whatcom County comes after a blockbuster comment period on the project, where 10,000 people attended standing-room-only …

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The Keystone XL pipeline is ACTUALLY a bunch of solar panels! Who knew?!?!

People from across the spectrum have been working for years against the Keystone XL pipeline because we thought it would lock us into decades more of climate-changing dirty energy.  But it turns out, according to the TransCanada Facebook ad that’s been popping up in many of our feeds lately, we got it all backwards: The Keystone XL pipeline is ACTUALLY a bunch of solar panels!  Who knew?!?! I wish this deceptive, manipulative ad were surprising rather than fitting into a larger pattern of deception that has characterized this project. The truth is that America doesn’t need this oil; fossil fuel …

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