December 30, 2010

California Clean Truck Laws Cut Black Carbon in Half

California laws to clean up diesel vehicles over the last 20 years have managed to slash black carbon levels in half, according to new research.

Hutchison: EPA Climate Rules Like 'a New Gas Tax'

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) is calling on the EPA to delay plans to implement new greenhouse-gas standards on oil refineries, arguing the regulations would amount to "a new gas tax."

Utilities Seek Fresh Talent for Smart Grids

The power industry is spending billions to upgrade to a smart grid from the electric grid, and is hoping to lure a younger generation of potential employees.

BP's Spill Costs Look Manageable 8 Months Later

Cleanup, government fines, lawsuits, legal fees and damage claims will likely exceed the $40 billion that BP has publicly estimated. But they'll be far below the highest estimates made over the summer by Wall Street banks, such as Goldman Sachs, which said costs could near $200 billion.

December 29, 2010

Feds Eyeing More Wind Farms Off Mass. Coastline

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management began seeking proposals from developers that want to build wind farms off the Mass. coast, even before construction has begun on the Cape Wind project.

Key Republican: Delay EPA Climate Action Until after Courts Rule

Rep. Fred Upton said lawmakers should reach a "bipartisan compromise" to pass legislation that prevents the EPA from taking action until a number of lawsuits are revolved in the courts.

"Big Push" Could Be Over for California Solar

After record solar-plant approval in 2010, the California Energy Commission believes its "big push" in solar-thermal projects is over.

Australia: Pressure on PM Julia Gillard as Japan Stalls Plans for ETS

Japan's decision to postpone its plans for an ETS by 2013 has increased pressure on Julia Gillard over her goal of pricing carbon next year.

Bangladesh Sand to Help Keep the Maldives Afloat

After looking to buy land in other countries, Maldives is making a last-ditch effort to avoid its citizens becoming climate refugees, with plans to import sand from Bangladesh.

Rare Earths Shares Jump after China Quota Cut

Shares of rare earths prospectors soared on Wednesday after China cut export quotas, threatening to reduce already tight global supplies and a risking action from the United States at the World Trade Organization.

Environmental Damage Presents Costly Economic Bill

China said direct economic losses caused by water, air and solid waste pollution and environmental incidents exceeded 894 billion yuan in 2008, or 2.7 percent of the country's total economic output.

Former Shell Executive Raises the Specter of $5 Per Gallon Gas

Gas prices became a major topic of discussion this week after the former president of Shell said that the United States could see gas prices as high as $5 per gallon in 2012.

Oil Industry Cranks Up Spending

Worldwide spending on oil and natural gas exploration and development is projected to hit a record next year in a sign of the energy industry's confidence that high crude prices won't fall and may go higher.

Ohio and New York State Pensions Named Plaintiffs in BP Case

State pension funds in Ohio and New York were named lead plaintiffs in a shareholder suit against BP Plc that alleges losses due to the Gulf Coast oil spill, according to a U.S. district court ruling.

A Lower-Carbon Route to Replacing Oil

A San Francisco company is pursuing an alternative method of converting natural gas to an oil substitute that would also involve releasing less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Team Overcomes Major Obstacles To Cellulosic Biofuel Production

A newly engineered yeast strain can simultaneously consume two types of sugar from plants to produce ethanol, researchers report. The new strain reduces or eliminates several major inefficiencies associated with current biofuel production methods.

Farmers, Pecan Growers Say Coal Plant Kills Plants

The Fayette Power Project — a coal plant that has operated mostly without equipment designed to decrease emissions of sulfur dioxide — is being blamed for the swaths of plant devastation across Central Texas.

Morocco Preselects Four of 19 Groups for Solar Plant

Morocco has preselected four out of 19 consortia that presented bids to develop the first phase of a 500 megawatt solar energy project in the south of the country, the agency managing the project said.

December 28, 2010

Japan Shelves Carbon Emissions Trading Scheme

Japan postponed plans for an emissions trading scheme on Tuesday, bowing to powerful business groups that warned of job losses as they compete against overseas rivals facing fewer regulations.

China Cuts Rare Earth Export Quota

China's decision to sharply cut its rare earth export quotas for the first half of 2011 after cutting second-half export quotas this year will exacerbate concerns among global buyers of the materials.

Dem Senator Warns Lack of Funding Could Limit Progress on Improving Mine Safety

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) is raising questions about whether the federal agency charged with mining safety is adequately funded.

S.Korea Says to Spend $42.6 Billion on Power Plants by 2024

South Korea plans to invest $42.6 billion on power generation, including 14 nuclear power plants, by 2024 in a bid to meet growing power demand, the government said on Tuesday.

Flooding Prompts Evacuations in Australian Towns

Drenching rains pounded communities across northeastern Australia on Tuesday, flooding major highways and prompting hundreds of evacuations.

SF Mayor to Keep Pushing Ocean Power

San Francisco Mayor Newsom, less than two weeks before becoming lieutenant governor, is pushing ahead with his vision of using the ocean's waves to help power the city and, ultimately, the state.

UAE Pushes On with Plan for First Nuclear Reactors

The UAE's state nuclear company is moving ahead with plans to build its first nuclear power plant, saying it has filed a construction license application covering the project's first two reactors.

Underground Carbon Capture Up In the Air

American Electric Power's plan to build a commercial-scale "clean coal" demo at its Mountaineer power plant at New Haven has an uncertain future, said Charles Patton, Appalachian's president.

State Mandate Will Power Green Job Growth, But Not in Sacramento

In Sacramento, the local utility is already so "green" that it has met state requirements to use renewable power sources. The potentially unfortunate result: Sacramento lacks a major driver for the kinds of jobs springing up elsewhere.

China to Exempt Consumption Tax on Biodiesel

China's Finance Ministry has retroactively exempted consumption tax on pure biodiesel made from waste animal fats or vegetable oils, and will refund taxes already paid over the last two years.

2010: The Year in Demand Response

Demand response continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year offered sweltering temperatures to drive load shedding during summer, as well as mergers and acquisitions that show the increasing value of DR-related services.

Scientists Seek Climate Clues in Shattered Glass

Studying the way glass or other brittle objects shatter can help scientists hone their weather forecasts and predictions of future climate, a study released on Tuesday says.

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