If the nuclear apocalypse comes, at least it will be a little more climate-friendly.
Construction of five 400-foot wind turbines is beginning today at America's main site for assembling, disassembling, and maintaining its nuclear arsenal.
The 2.3-megawatt turbines are expected to produce more than half of the power used at the Pantex Plant in the Texas Panhandle. When the blades start spinning next summer, the facility will be the largest federally owned wind farm.
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.
If you live in California, the most climate-friendly car you can drive is a Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid. If you live in Ohio, you could go easier on the climate by driving a regular ol' non-plug-in Prius. And in Vermont, the best pick would be an all-electric Honda Fit.
An electric car is only as good for the climate as the electricity used to power it. And in states that rely heavily on fossil fuels like coal and natural gas for their electricity there are many conventional and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that are better for the climate than all-electric cars.
First, a rat gnawed through exposed wiring, setting off a scramble to end yet another blackout of vital cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Then, hastily built pits for a flood of contaminated water sprang leaks themselves. Now, a new rush of radioactive water has breached a barrier built to stop it, allowing heavily contaminated water to spill daily into the Pacific.
It turns out that radioactive water has been spilling into the sea almost since the initial disaster, at a rate of 75,000 gallons, or 300 tons, a day.
So now Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, which owns the plant, has a plan to build an underground wall of frozen earth to stop the radioactive water leakage. NPR explains:
One major barrier to bringing electric vehicles to the masses is range anxiety -- not the fear that you left the stove on at home, but the fear that your EV will run out of juice before you can get to the next charging station. But creative solutions are in the works. This week, South Korea debuted the world’s first electric road, 15 miles of city streets with underground cables that charge EVs parked or driving above -- no plug-in stations necessary.
In the city of Gumi, two commuter buses will be the first to test the program, and the city plans to add 10 more over the next two years. Known as Online Electric Vehicles or OLEVs, the buses have batteries about one-third the size of the typical electric car battery.
A new article in Nature highlights a supposed rift among some scientists over Keystone XL: Is it a smart focus for climate activists or a distracting sideshow?
There doesn't seem to be nearly as much of a rift as author Jeff Tollefson suggests, but he does talk to some scientists who are conflicted over the Keystone focus:
The issue has ... divided the scientific community. Many climate and energy researchers have lined up with environmentalists to oppose what is by all accounts a dirty source of petroleum: emissions from extracting and burning tar-sands oil in the United States are 14–20% higher than the country's average oil emissions. But other researchers say that the Keystone controversy is diverting attention from issues that would have much greater impact on greenhouse-gas emissions, such as the use of coal.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has, shall we say, a vivid oratorical style.
Last month, he noted that not all of the young immigrants who would benefit from the DREAM Act are star students. “For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,” he said.