Royal Dutch Shell plans to stick its oil-extracting tentacles deeper under the Gulf of Mexico than any oil company ever has.
Shell is preparing to drill 9,500 feet -- nearly two miles -- beneath the surface of the sea to suck oil out of a reserve that was discovered eight years ago, 200 miles southeast of New Orleans. The deepest oil well currently in operation, at 8,000 feet deep, is operated nearby in the Gulf, also by Shell.
The quest for deeper wells reflects advancing technology and increasing desperation as shallower reserves dry up. From Reuters:
America never ratified the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, and it doesn't want the rest of the world ever signing anything like it again.
As world climate delegates try (not very successfully, mind you) to thrash out a new agreement to replace the protocol, which expired last year, the U.S. is pushing a very different approach to reducing the world's greenhouse gas emissions: international peer pressure.
Instead of agreeing to a set of emissions goals, America wants each country to set its own targets -- in the hopes that the glare of the international community will encourage governments to make those targets meaningful. America's goal appears to be to agree to not agree.
Plans for two Oregon coal-export terminals have gone up in smoke in the last two months. That makes for a total of three scrapped terminals in the Pacific Northwest, after a proposed facility in Grays Harbor, Wash., bit the coal dust last year. Three others in the region remain in the works, but they face many of the same challenges -- permitting and zoning issues, stalled negotiations, and delayed environmental reviews, not to mention fierce public opposition.
A spokesperson for Kinder Morgan, which announced Wednesday it was abandoning plans for a coal-export terminal at Oregon's Port of St. Helens, “blamed site logistics for stopping the project, not the intense controversy over exporting coal from the green Northwest,” reports The Oregonian. He said Kinder Morgan would continue to explore options for a West Coast terminal.
The abrupt announcement came barely a month after the Port of Coos Bay ended negotiations with a California company looking to build a terminal there. There's a chance the port could consider coal-export options with other companies, but the expensive rail improvements any project would require make a coal deal unlikely, said David Petrie, founder of Coos Waterkeeper.
The good news just keeps flowing -- like electricity from a renewables-infused grid -- for electric-auto maker Tesla Motors.
Consumer Reports just gave the Tesla Model S Sedan its highest-ever score for an automobile. The glowing review and sky-high score of 99 out of 100 came in the same week that the 10-year-old auto manufacturer enjoyed its first profitable quarter.
This electric luxury sports car, built by a small automaker based in Palo Alto, Calif., is brimming with innovation, delivers world-class performance, and is interwoven throughout with impressive attention to detail. It’s what Marty McFly might have brought back in place of his DeLorean in “Back to the Future.” The sum total of that effort has earned the Model S the highest score in our Ratings: 99 out of 100. That is far ahead of such direct competitors as the gas-powered Porsche Panamera (84) and the Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid (57).
Should the federal government regulate where oil dispersants can be used and how much can be dumped into waterways following oil spills?
“Nah,” says the EPA.
Environmental groups filed suit last year seeking to force the agency to improve its oversight of the use of dispersants. But a federal judge this week tossed out the lawsuit after oil industry attorneys helped EPA win on a technicality.
Workers on a strawberry farm in Southern California were fired last week when they became worried about smoke from a nearby wildfire and left mid-shift. After a media backlash, the farm offered the workers their jobs back, but the workers said, essentially, "Screw you."
The strawberry pickers had taken shelter inside from choking smoke and falling ashes from the Springs Fire, defying an order from a foreman who told them to suck it up and keep on picking. From NBC4:
The ashes were falling on top of us, one of them explained, adding “it was hard to breathe.”
Vineyards won't be the only things flourishing when the sun shines on the fertile city of Sebastopol, Calif., in Sonoma wine country. The liberal stronghold of fewer than 8,000 residents this week became California's second city to require that new homes be outfitted with panels to produce solar energy.
A vote by the City Council on Tuesday evening came less than two months after a similar program was approved in Lancaster, Calif., a conservative desert city with 150,000 residents nearly 400 miles away.
Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee refused to show up for work Thursday morning, basically because they really don't like the EPA.
The committee was scheduled to vote on the nomination of Gina McCarthy, President Obama's pick to head the EPA. The vote had already been delayed three weeks to accommodate grumbling Republicans, according to committee chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). Then, this morning, right before the scheduled committee hearing, the eight GOP members sent a letter saying they were going to boycott.
Electric-car pioneer Tesla just reported its first ever quarterly profit, jolted into the black by strong sales of its all-electric sedans and by a form of carbon trading under California's clean-cars program.
And with that achievement under its belt, the Californian company is moving on to conjuring another type of magic. Tesla is in talks with nearby Google to develop a car that can run not only without any gas in the tank, but without anybody in the driver's seat.
“Do coal and diesel trains make for unhealthy air?”
Dan Jaffe, an atmospheric sciences professor at the University of Washington-Bothell, thinks that’s a fair question to consider as Washington state grapples with whether to allow the construction of coal-export terminals that could triple the amount of daily coal-train traffic chugging through the state.
But Jaffe, whose lab has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers on air pollution, hasn’t been able to scare up funding to research the potential air-quality impacts of those coal trains. In the absence of dollars from the usual government or corporate channels, he has turned to the internet to crowd-fund this vital research. Jaffe started a page on Microryza, a sort of Kickstarter for scientific research (a great idea with a name that unfortunately does not roll off the tongue). He writes: