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The Lighting Paradox: Cheaper, Efficient LEDs Save Energy, and People Use More

The effort to replace current bulbs with LEDs gets a boost from cheaper materials, but it only feeds society's addiction to light.

By Phil McKenna

Aug 20, 2015

New research at Rutgers University has shown how to slash the cost of highly efficient light emitting diodes (LEDs) and significantly reduce lighting’s energy requirements. The energy savings, however, will likely be eroded as people find new uses for the inexpensive lights.

It’s a classic example of how a solution to a problem may cause more problems, or at least nullify the solution.

Research Says 27 Percent of California’s Drought Attributable to Climate Change

New study gives California crisis managers something else to worry about: evapotranspiration.

Aug 20, 2015

As California’s four-year drought has drinking and groundwater reserves at dangerously low levels, households rationing water and the agricultural sector struggling to keep its crops alive, the question has been: how much of a culprit is climate change? New research published Thursday now says as much as 27 percent of the drought can be attributed to global warming.

China Emits Less CO2 Than Anyone Thought, But It’s Still a Lot

An overestimation of the country’s pollution by 14 percent gives China a little more wiggle room at the climate treaty negotiating table in Paris.

By Phil McKenna

Aug 19, 2015

Carbon emissions from China are 14 percent lower than previously estimated because those estimates failed to take into account the country's low quality coal that emits less carbon, according to a new study published in the journal Nature.  

From Greenhouse Gas to the Dreamliner, Nanofibers Offer New Life for CO2

New geoengineering scheme won’t save the climate, but it aims to pull some carbon dioxide from the air to make a super strong material.

By Phil McKenna

Aug 19, 2015

An ambitious new geoengineering approach promises to scrub carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and transform it into carbon nanofibers. That would turn a greenhouse gas into a highly valuable product that is stronger and lighter than steel, is used in race cars, Boeing’s new lightweight, high efficiency “Dreamliner” airplane and wind turbine blades.

Woe, Canada: Ramifications of Oil Sands Slump Are Economic and Political

In the country that bet big on the "carbon bomb" in Alberta, the industry's crisis impacts the economy and maybe Stephen Harper's re-election.

Aug 19, 2015

A dramatic reversal of fortune for Canada's tar sands oil industry has cheered environmental advocates, and it may also leave Prime Minister Stephen Harper vulnerable in the coming federal election because of the economic repercussions, some have predicted.

Arctic Drilling Approval Threatens Obama's Climate Legacy

By giving the final OK for Shell to drill in the Chukchi Sea, President Obama undermines his recent push to protect the climate and environment.

Aug 18, 2015

The Obama administration's final approval of Royal Dutch Shell's drilling for oil in Alaska's Chukchi Sea provoked an angry reaction on Monday from environmentalists who had come to consider President Obama a champion in the fight against climate change.

EPA's New Methane Rules Need Stronger Teeth, Groups Say

Voluntary measures will not push the oil and gas industry to reduce emissions by 40-45 percent, critics contend.

By Phil McKenna

Aug 18, 2015

This story was updated on Aug. 18 at 12:40 pm.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's first-ever proposal to reduce methane pollution, announced today, will not go far enough to reach reduction goals for the oil and gas industry, according to leading environmental organizations.

Coal States: The EPA Moved Our Goal Posts

The Obama administration’s final carbon pollution rules placed steeper expectations on coal-dependent states that have not been striving to cut emissions.

Aug 14, 2015

After months of strategizing in Kentucky about how the state might meet emission targets proposed under the Obama administration's power plant rules, it finds itself facing more daunting requirements under the final rule.

Coal-heavy Kentucky was initially required to reduce its carbon emissions to 77 million tons, a 15 percent reduction from 2012 levels by 2030. Under the final rules released last week, it now faces a steeper slope: reduce emissions to 63 million tons, a 30 percent cut.

Some Utilities Want a Surcharge to Let the Sunshine In

Fees and other barriers to rooftop solar panels have become hurdles to consumers in some states hoping to generate their own electricity.

Aug 14, 2015

As more Americans go solar—and save money on their monthly utility bills—electricity providers are doubling down on ways to protect their revenue.

One of the utilities' most widespread strategies is to impose extra charges on customers who are generating their own energy, and they have had varying degrees of success. At least 11 utilities in nine states have attempted this tactic; five have succeeded.

Exxon’s Maligned $5M Settlement for Pegasus Spill Ruled ‘Fair and Reasonable’

Arkansas authorities had sought stronger measures to protect waterways from toxic tar sands oil spills, but a federal judge rejects their pleas.

Aug 13, 2015

A federal judge rejected arguments by local Arkansas authorities that a $5 million settlement related to ExxonMobil’s 2013 pipeline rupture was too weak to protect residents and drinking water sources from another disastrous spill.