Obama calls for frack disclosure, but activists say that's not enough

Jan. 25, 2012

Posted by Ruby Maddox under Energy and the Environment
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As President Obama catches up, at least rhetorically, with drilling critics who have pushed for public disclosure of hydraulic fracturing chemicals, activists are stressing that disclosure is not enough.

In his State of the Union address last night, Obama said he would implement a proposal bouncing around the Interior Department since 2010 to require drillers to publicly disclose the chemicals used when fracturing on public land (E&E Daily, Jan. 25). It was the only specific action he mentioned about how he would develop the country's vast store of natural gas in shale formations "without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk."

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E&E: Greens are encouraged by Obama's comments on Keystone

Nov. 02, 2011

Posted by Yiting Wang under Energy and the Environment
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President Obama yesterday billed the State Department's review of the Keystone XL oil pipeline as "recommendations" rather than a ruling, raising hopes among environmentalists that he would assume ultimate say over the controversial project.

Obama did not clearly state in yesterday's interview with Nebraska TV station KETV that a decision on the $7 billion Canada-to-U.S. pipeline would fall to him. But his choice of words to describe the complex vetting process for the XL line -- saying that State would "giv[e] me a report" and that he would "measur[e] these recommendations when they come to me" -- were a powerful signal to greens who have long fought for the White House to take control of the pipeline proposal.


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NYT: Around the World on Solar Power Alone

Sep. 23, 2011

Posted by Yiting Wang under Energy and the Environment
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By BETTINA WASSENER

HONG KONG — Almost a year ago, the Turanor PlanetSolar, a sleek catamaran that bears a resemblance to a giant water beetle, set off from Monaco on a voyage around the globe. Later this month it will arrive in Singapore, having amassed proof that it is possible to traverse the world’s oceans on solar power alone.

The PlanetSolar is a pioneering experiment. Rather than trying to reproduce the vessel for commercial use, said Raphael Domjan, a Swiss national who set up the project in 2004, the point of the project is to prove that solar technology can do far more than it currently does. “We want to show to the world what can be done, that modern solar technology has huge economic potential,” Mr. Domjan said recently in a telephone interview.

“The idea is to provide an impulse to the industry to consider alternatives, to think about innovative ways to reduce their energy needs.” Solar panels are, of course, widely used on yachts and powerboats to power on-board appliances, for example. But the PlanetSolar goes much further: It is 100 percent solar-powered and is the first such vessel to attempt a circumnavigation of the globe.

Mr. Domjan — a former ambulance driver, mountain guide and rescue specialist — spent years raising funds before the PlanetSolar finally became a reality last year.

...

Still, the PlanetSolar’s voyage coincides with a major, and relatively recent, rethinking of the shipping industry about fuel efficiency and the environment. Global shipping has expanded dramatically in recent decades. Ships now carry 90 percent of the world’s trade and account for about 3 percent of global carbon emissions — equivalent to those of a major national economy, according to the International Chamber of Shipping.

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COAL: Enviros, miners to march for protection of historic W.Va. mountain

Jun. 03, 2011

Posted by Yiting Wang under Energy and the Environment
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Manuel Quinones, E&E reporter

Environmentalists and coal miners will begin a five-day march Monday in southern West Virginia to protest a mountaintop-removal mining at Blair Mountain, which in 1921 was the site of the largest U.S. armed insurrection since the Civil War.

Organizers say several hundred people will march 50 miles or so from Marmet, just south of Charleston, to Blair in Logan County, the heart of Appalachian coal country. They will follow the route taken by thousands of miners 90 years ago to advocate for unionization and to protest deplorable work conditions at the mines.

"It's history that I didn't learn in school," Chuck Keeney, great-grandson of renowned union leader Frank Keeney, said in an interview. "It's a history that I learned at family picnics, holidays, sitting around the fireplace."

March organizers say there are several mine permit proposals in the area -- projects that Keeney calls an affront to the memory of those who sacrificed to improve working conditions in the coal fields.

"We care about our history," Wilma Steele, a Mingo County teacher and active member of Friends of Blair Mountain, said in an interview. "I could sit and listen to stories, you know, from older people."

Many foes of mining on Blair Mountain say coal companies are targeting the area for a reason.

"I think Blair Mountain represents that history they want destroyed," said Steele, whose husband worked in the mines for more than 20 years. "They don't want people remembering the unions."

But for many advocates, the fight against mountaintop-removal mining goes beyond Blair Mountain. They say it stands as a symbol for a broader fight.

"We call for protection for Blair Mountain from mountaintop removal," West Virginia author Denise Giardina said in a statement about the march. "Indeed, an end to all mountaintop removal."

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GULF SPILL: A year later, Congress sits idly by (04/15/2011)

Apr. 18, 2011

Posted by Olivia K Derks under Energy and the Environment
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A year has passed since BP PLC's Macondo well exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 rig workers and launching the nation's worst oil spill -- and an all-encompassing environmental drama that played out for months as the oil industry and federal government struggled to contain the gusher.

But the heart-wrenching images of oil-slicked pelicans and the otherworldly videos of oil spewing from the seafloor largely seem to have faded from the minds of lawmakers on Capitol Hill. A year after the blowout, members of Congress have made little progress toward addressing the issues raised by the disaster.

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NUCLEAR: Ukraine seeks more money for Chernobyl as it cuts benefits to cleanup workers (04/18/2011)

Apr. 18, 2011

Posted by Olivia K Derks under Energy and the Environment
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As the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster nears, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is seeking $1 billion to close the nuclear plant.

The money would go toward building a 105-meter-high arched roof that would seal with plant for 100 years, after which workers would be able to dismantle the structure. The current cover, made of concrete and steel, was built hastily and is starting to collapse.

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JAPAN: Aftershock hits coast, forcing suspension of cooling at plant (04/11/2011)

Apr. 11, 2011

Posted by Olivia K Derks under Energy and the Environment
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A strong aftershock in Japan this morning briefly set off a tsunami warning and suspended cooling at the failing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant for almost an hour.

The 6.6-magnitude aftershock was enough to knock out the external power supply to the nuclear plant, in turn stopping pumps from sending cooling water into the three most damaged reactors. Workers were also forced to evacuate because of the tsunami warning, which was lifted after 45 minutes. The response exposed a flaw in Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s response; the backup generators must be operated manually, rendering them useless when workers must evacuate.

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NUCLEAR CRISIS: Hiroshima and Nagasaki cast long shadows over radiation science (04/11/2011)

Apr. 11, 2011

Posted by Olivia K Derks under Energy and the Environment
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Paul Voosen, E&E reporter

Nori Nakamura's mother, who lived near Hiroshima, had a rule for when her son went out to play.

"My mother did not want me to wear colored shirts in the summer," said Nakamura, a radiation biologist, born the year after the atomic bomb fell. "Only white."

The rule wasn't about fashion, he said. It came from a lesson well-learned.

His mother had seen the permanent record carried by survivors of the atomic blast. When the bomb fell, it burned their morning's wardrobe into them. Heat reflected off white tank tops, sparing skin; dark shirts absorbed it, charring flesh in checkered patterns. A mile from its center, the Hiroshima bomb singed black ink out of untouched white paper.

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SOLID WASTE: Japan disaster leaves tons of trash -- and dilemmas about what to do with it (04/04/2011)

Apr. 04, 2011

Posted by Olivia K Derks under Energy and the Environment
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In normal times, Japan has a meticulous approach to waste and recycling. Cities don't just separate paper from plastic, they publish detailed guides for disposing of everything from chopsticks to lipstick.

But after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the country is facing complex legal, logistical, financial, environmental and ethical questions about how to deal with at least 80 million tons of debris, which includes everything from 300-ton ships and crushed cars to waterlogged heirlooms and family photos.

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NUCLEAR CRISIS: Contaminated water to be dumped into the ocean (04/04/2011)

Apr. 04, 2011

Posted by Olivia K Derks under Energy and the Environment
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 Japan's Tokyo Electric Power Co. will release almost 11,500 tons of water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean to try to stem dangerous runoff and make more room for dangerously contaminated water, company officials announced today.

The company has been pumping water into four out of the six reactors at the nuclear plant in order to cool nuclear fuel and spent fuel that is kept in storage pools. Radioactive water, though, has been discovered leaking at about 7 tons an hour from a reactor. Attempts to plug the leak with sawdust and shredded newspaper failed over the weekend.

 

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GULF SPILL: Transocean rejects agency subpoenas for Macondo probe (04/01/2011)

Apr. 01, 2011

Posted by Olivia K Derks under Energy and the Environment
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Phil Taylor, E&E reporter

The owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded and sank last April, causing the worst oil spill in U.S. history, rejected official requests yesterday to have company employees testify at federal hearings investigating the disaster.

Steven Roberts, counsel for the Houston-based Transocean Ltd., told the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement that the company is unable to compel employees James Kent and Jay Odenwald to testify and that they would instead be represented by their personal attorneys.

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SUPERFUND: EPA, NYC brace for grueling cleanups of 2 industrial waterways (03/21/2011)

Apr. 01, 2011

Posted by Olivia K Derks under Energy and the Environment
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Nathanial Gronewold, E&E reporter

Eleventh story in an occasional series on the greening of New York City. Click here to view the series.

NEW YORK -- Floating garbage and oil slicks run the 2-mile length of Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal.

From an industrial area on its southern reaches to residential areas in the north, the canal has long been an eyesore and a nuisance for its neighbors who fear that just sniffing its fumes can make them sick.

Farther north, on the Brooklyn-Queens borough line, Newtown Creek is also in lousy shape. Fouled by chemicals and wastewater, the creek -- a branch of the East River -- was a booming port during World War II and is still home to refineries, cement factories and scrap-metal processing plants.

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NUCLEAR CRISIS: Japan struggles to keep public updated (03/28/2011)

Mar. 28, 2011

Posted by Olivia K Derks under Energy and the Environment
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Yesterday around lunchtime, a scary number surfaced in Japan: Government officials said workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant had discovered radiation at 10 million times normal levels.

Early today, that number was significantly reduced to 100,000 times. There was a "mistake in the measurement of the assessment" of radiation, said Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the plant.

The quick publishing of the higher number shows the pressure that government and TEPCO officials are under to inform the public. Both were criticized in the first few days after the earthquake and tsunami that damaged the plant for not providing enough information to the public in timely manner.

 

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