November 25, 2010

Chevy Volt Tops Prius in Fuel Economy Rating

General Motors said on Wednesday its Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid will carry an overall fuel economy rating of 60 miles per gallon, topping the Toyota Prius.

Enviro Groups Protest Greenhouse Gas Impacts of BLM Oil and Gas Lease Sale

Environmentalists announced a protest Wednesday of a planned BLM sale of 223 oil and gas leases in Montana and North Dakota, saying the agency is failing to curb greenhouse gas emissions and conserve valuable public minerals.

November 24, 2010

Asian Coal Exports Get Boost from WA Port Approval

Efforts by the U.S. coal industry to expand its export market have taken a step forward, as officials in Washington approved a plan to ship the fuel to Asia through a Columbia River port.

EU's Coal Nations Win Battle in Quest for Subsidies

Europe's coal countries won a key vote for more subsidies in the European Parliament on Tuesday, a win that adds to their lobbying power but carries little legal clout.

Administration Wants to Speed Up Process for Windmills in Atlantic

The Obama administration Tuesday announced a plan to speed up development of wind energy by searching the Atlantic Coast for the most desirable places to build windmills.

White House Clears EPA Renewable Fuels Standard

The White House cleared the way for the EPA to issue a final rule on how much ethanol and other renewable automobile fuels will be sold next year.

World's Lakes Getting Hotter, More Than the Air

A first-of-its-kind NASA study is finding nice cool lakes are heating up — even faster than air.

Study Sees Polar Bears Losing Out to Grizzlies

Polar bears are likely to lose out to grizzly bears in fierce competition for food as climate change drives the two species closer together into shared habitat, biologists said.

 

Canada Goes into Climate Talks with Little to Offer

Canada will head into climate talks in Cancun with a part-time environment minister, little chance of meeting its own emissions targets and under attack for oil sands development.

Ontario to Inject Cash into Nuclear Plants

Plans released Tuesday show that Ontario will refurbish 10 nuclear reactors and build two new ones at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station over the next 10 to 15 years.

Italy Has Largest PV Solar Farm in Europe

SunEdison has connected its 70-megawatt PV solar farm in Rovigo, Italy to power over 17,000 homes, but is it really Europe's largest?

Dispersant Rid Gulf of More Oil Than Estimated

Chemical dispersants did a better job of breaking up oil spilled from BP's blown-out Gulf of Mexico well than previously estimated.

Oil Spill Commission Pulled Back Slide on Risky BP Decisions

The presidential commission that is probing the Gulf oil spill held back a slide at its last hearing that catalogued nearly a dozen risky decisions made by companies involved in the disaster.

Nissan's Electric Leaf Rated at 99 Mpg Equivalent

Regulators have rated the electric Nissan Motor Leaf car at an equivalent of 99 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving, the Japanese automaker said.

Australia to Shake Up Offshore Drilling Rules

Australia committed to tighten regulations for offshore oil and gas drilling, but stopped short of imposing onerous safety requirements on an industry that generates jobs and government revenue.

November 23, 2010

UN: Emission Pledges Fall Short of Climate Target

Emissions cuts pledged by countries in a nonbinding accord last year fall short of what's needed to avoid the worst consequences of global warming, the U.N.'s environment agency said.

 

China Says It Is World's Top Greenhouse Gas Emitter

China acknowledged on Tuesday it is the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, confirming what scientists have long said but defending its right to keep growing emissions.

Next Climate Warming Report Will Be Dramatically Worse: UN

UN leaders will demand "concrete results" from the looming Cancun climate summit as global warming is accelerating, a top UN organizer of the event said Monday.

 

Climate Costs Set to Rise, Technology Can Help: U.N.

Costs of combating global warming will rise inexorably if the world fails to cap greenhouse gases by 2015, but new technologies can curb the price, the head of the UN IPCC said.

China Calls on U.S. to Take Lead at Climate Talks

China called on the U.S. on Tuesday to step up and ensure climate change talks opening next week make progress, as the world's top two carbon emitters remain divided over the issue.

 

U.S. Corn Ethanol "Was Not a Good Policy:" Gore

Former vice-president Al Gore said support for corn-based ethanol in the U.S.  was "not a good policy," weeks before tax credits are up for renewal.

Battle Over Desert Wildlife Not Over for Cali Solar Project

Did California regulators move too hastily to approve a series of big solar power projects that, if built, would put massive glass, steel and concrete equipment on thousands of acres of desert land in order to churn out solar electricity? That question hangs over one such project from Tessera Solar now that the California Energy Commission has withdrawn its approval.

The commission issued an order late last Friday to suspend its approval in order to deal with what could be a legal challenge from more than one group, Reuters reported. The commission approved the 663.5-megawatt Calico project only last month, and did so after reducing the footprint of the project by nearly half.

Tessera initially wanted to build an 850-megawatt power plant on 8,230 acres, but the commission gave its nod for 4,613 acres in the Mojave Desert in order to reduce the project's impact on the desert tortoise and other wildlife. The company has a contract to deliver the electricity from the project to Southern California Edison.

The decision to set aside its approval came after the California Unions for Reliable Energy filed a protest contending that the commission didn't issue the necessary findings about the project's environmental impact. The Sierra Club apparently also is considering a legal challenge. The commission is set to discuss the protests next month.

We've pointed out that legal challenges are likely for big solar power projects, not just because of their size and environmental impact, but also for the speed with which regulators approve them. The Calico project was the seventh solar power plant proposal approved by the commission over a two month time frame. The commission said it was in a hurry to license solar power projects so that their developers could qualify for a federal rebate for 30 percent of the project's cost. Developers must begin construction before the end of this year in order to qualify.

Federal regulators are doing the same with solar projects proposed for public land in California, Nevada and Arizona. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed off on six projects in October alone.

To gain state and federal approval, many project developers have had to downsize their projects, agree to use less water, and set aside land for desert creatures. BrightSource Energy, which became the first of this cluster of developers to start construction, had to cut its Ivanpah project in the Mojave Desert to 392 megawatts from 440 megawatts to leave more room for the desert tortoise.

And it looks like environmental concerns won't be the only reason to delay solar project development. Northrop Grumman has filed a protest against a First Solar project in Los Angeles County because the defense contractor believes the project could interfere with the testing of its technologies to shield aircrafts from radar detection, reported the Los Angeles Times.

First Solar has gotten a preliminary approval from the county for the 230-megawatt, AV Solar Ranch One project, and it wants to start building before the year's end. Utility PG&E has agreed to buy the electricity from the project. First Solar is getting some big political help in this matter, however. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is brokering a meeting among First Solar, Northrop and the Pentagon.

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Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Environmental Command




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State Regulators Approve Cape Wind Power Contract

Utility commission says Cape Wind is in public interest despite higher electricity cost, a decision that clears one of the last hurdles for controversial offshore wind project.

EPA Sets New Rules for Carbon Dioxide Storage

The Obama administration is imposing new rules to protect drinking water and track the amount of carbon dioxide stored underground by "clean coal" technology.

Salazar Session Disappoints Gulf Drillers

Interior Secretary Salazar met with oil and gas companies that work in the Gulf's shallow waters on Monday, but the talks did nothing to jump start drilling activity as the industry had hoped.

Landrieu Threatens Other Stalling Tactics if Interior Disregards Drilling Pledges

Sen. Mary Landrieu is threatening to block additional Obama administration officials and toss up other roadblocks if officials do not speed up the issuance of drilling permits.

Greenpeace Activists Scale Oil Rig Off Mexico

Four Greenpeace activists on Monday scaled a Mexican offshore oil rig to protest against global reliance on fossil fuels ahead of a UN climate conference, the group said.

 

Indonesia Eyeing $1Bn Climate Aid to Cut Down Forests

Indonesia plans to class large areas of its remaining natural forests as "degraded" in order to cut them down and receive nearly $1bn of climate aid for replanting them with palm trees and biofuel crops, according to Greenpeace.

Canada’s Oilsands Strategy Includes Lobbying Against Global Warming Measures

Three major departments in the federal government have been actively coordinating a communications strategy with Alberta and its fossil-fuel industry to fight international global-warming policies that "target" oilsands production, newly released federal documents reveal.

November 22, 2010

U.S. Climate Scientists Fight Back after Year of Skepticism

After a year of attacks, climate scientists in America today launched a new website aimed at closing the gap between scientific knowledge and public understanding of global warming.

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