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Mar 31, 2012
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Wasting Our Waterways 2012: Toxic Industrial Pollution and the Unfulfilled Promise of the Clean Wate
Setting the Record Straight...on War Spending. $625 billion of savings comes entirely from the lower caps
"We are very pleased to see that the EPA's order has been withdrawn," Range Resources spokesman Matt Pitzarella said. "It's important for people to know that their environment, health and safety is protected and hopefully this provides them with that comfort."
This is good news:
The DSRS is an amazing and powerful new tool, the first example of a synthetic system that can dynamically regulate a metabolic pathway for improving production of fatty acid-based fuels and chemicals while the microbes are in the bioreactor,” says Jay Keasling, CEO of JBEI and one of the world’s foremost practitioners of synthetic biology, who led this research.Keasling, who also serves as the Associate Laboratory Director for Biosciences at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) is the corresponding author of a paper describing this research in Nature Biotechnology. The paper is titled “Design of a dynamic sensor-regulator system for production of FAbased chemicals and fuels.” Co-authors are Fuzhong Zhang and James Carothers of JBEI’s Fuels Synthesis Division, which is directed by Keasling.
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earthtechling “Twelve years after the first 12 projects earned LEED certification, the green building community has reached a significant milestone,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO & founding chair, USGBC, in a statement. “The momentum for green buildings is rippling around the globe, enhancing the built environment for generations to come.”
The 12,000th commercial project to earn LEED designation, in case you were wondering, is the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge (Texas) headquarters and visitor center, which earned certification at the Gold level. The building—funded through the Recovery Act and rebuilt after the original center was destroyed by Hurricane Ike in 2008—will house new wildlife exhibits, an environmental education center and National Parks employees.
The project takes its place among more than 137,000 LEED registered and certified projects, homes, communities and neighborhoods around the world. (One day, we hope, the website of the USGBC will simply say, “billions and billions served.”)
This announcement comes at a significant time for the USGBC, which is currently deciding on the changes to its current standards via its trademark open voting process among member organizations. These changes are aimed at strengthening the benefit of the program to the environment, as well as to increase its utility to architects, home builders, and other building design professionals seeking those all-important LEED points. (Though this year’s proposed changes, as you may recall, have been met with less than love from the Forest Stewardship Council.)
Please read full and follow at: http://www.earthtechling.com/2012/03/leed-commercial-certifications-12000-served/
Denmark has committed to generating 50 percent of its electricity from wind sources by the year 2020, by which time the country hopes to have reduced CO2 emissions by 34 percent compared to 1990 levels. This renewed commitment to wind forms the central pillar in an energy bill that commits to obtaining 35 percent of the country's energy from renewable sources by that time. And Denmark actively aims to lower energy consumption, with 2020 usage 12 percent lower than that of 2006.
"Denmark will once again be the global leader in the transition to green energy," said Martin Lidegaard, Denmark's Minister for Climate, Energy and Building. "This will prepare us for a future with increasing prices for oil and coal. Moreover, it will create some of the jobs that we need so desperately, now and in the coming years."
The bill passed with a near-unanimous 171 votes out of the parliament's 179 seats.
Certain questions are asked frequently by clients when the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) shows up unexpectedly at their doorsteps. These questions and many more are addressed in Epstein Becker Green’s OSHA Inspection Checklist desk reference guide, found on its OSHA Law Update blog.
Scenario 1: An OSHA Compliance Safety and Health Officer (CSHO) arrives unannounced to begin an inspection, but the representative who the employer wants to manage the inspection is not present. Can the employer request that the CSHO return later or wait to start the inspection until the chosen representative is available?
Answer: Yes, the employer can request that the CSHO return at a later time or wait a reasonable amount of time until the employer’s chosen inspection representative is available. The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act grants to employers the right to be represented during an OSHA inspection and to accompany an OSHA CSHO during on-site inspection activities. The employer has the right to designate whoever it wants to fill that role. If that person is not available at the moment OSHA arrives but can be available in a reasonable amount of time, the employer can request that the CSHO wait or return later.
OSHA’s Field Operations Manual explains that OSHA believes that waiting approximately one hour is a reasonable amount of time to delay the start of an inspection to wait for the employer’s selected representative to become available:
When neither the person in charge nor a management official is present, contact may be made with the employer to request the presence of the owner, operator or management official. The inspection shall not be delayed unreasonably to await the arrival of the employer representative. This delay should normally not exceed one hour.
Notwithstanding OSHA’s purported one-hour rule, unless the CSHO has a warrant or other exigent circumstances exist (i.e., imminent danger in plain view), the employer can refuse to consent to the inspection until its chosen representative arrives, so OSHA could not proceed with the inspection without obtaining a warrant, which generally takes at least a couple of days.
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On March 23, 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) released its highly anticipated final Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines. The Guidelines present a tiered approach for the consideration and analysis of potential impacts to wildlife and habitat from onshore wind energy development. The five-tier process and other guidance found in the Guidelines aim to efficiently avoid and minimize impacts to wildlife and habitat by guiding the decisions of developers from the initial stages of site selection through the development of project design and the ultimate construction and operation of a project.
While the Guidelines are voluntary, this new publication represents the informal rulebook by which the USFWS will judge the appropriateness of a site or project design and the adequacy of mitigation, including for purposes of enforcement. The new Guidelines replace the interim guidance published by the USFWS in 2003 and are effective immediately. The final version of the Guidelines does not significantly differ from the September 2011 draft version that was issued for public comment.
The scientists’ report stated that commercial productions of the machine could prove to be a boon for areas facing sewage problems. The prototype is capable of processing five times more sewage than conventional technology at six times the efficiency. Moreover, it is doubly cost effective than its predecessors.
The scientists also improved the prototype’s energy recovery capacity from 2 to 13 percent, a significant leap that could pave the way for generating substantial electricity. According to them, future generations of the machine could provide for efficient waste water treatment for free. If successful, the issue of water scarcity could be addressed to a degree in areas facing water shortage.
...The technical side of affairs entails the natural processing of the food by bacteria. This process of biological ‘chewing’ results in emanation of gases, which the machine can automatically filter for deriving of methane. This internal stream of methane is then passed through a heat and power system for generation of electricity.
Now, beyond the uniqueness of its functionality, there is clear practical side to this sustainable scope. According to the company, food is the largest single source of waste in California at 15.5 percent, which amounts to a whopping 6 million tons of food being dumped annually by Californians. In fact, figures show that the discarded food from San Francisco alone could account for clean electricity for 22,000 households!
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The above graphs shows US liquid fuel production, 1980-2011, broken out into its major components...You can see that at this point a large fraction of the liquid fuel numbers are not actually crude coming out of the ground.
This next picture shows the same data but putting the non C&C components onto the other axis so that they are not stacked on top of the C&C line:
This makes it clear that most of the production resurgence of recent years has come from the non-crude components. Biofuels have made the largest contribution, but NGLs and refinery gains have contributed also.
The latest reports from the Bureau of Economic Analysis on economic growth and personal income and spending have, on the surface, appeared to show improvement. Spending is up more than expected and economic growth is clipping along at a 3% annual growth rate in the fourth quarter. That is the good news. As we have discussed in the past the consumer is the key to this whole economic equation. Consumption is 70% of the economy and, as long as the consumer has the ability to consume, the economy can chug along. However, therein lies the dysfunction as well.
The first chart shows GDP on a 10 year rolling percentage change basis. That massive decline in economic growth occurred even as consumption expanded from below 60% to over 70% of the economy. The belief is that expanding consumption should drive stronger economic growth but in reality the strongest economic growth was occurring while spending and debt levels remained at lower ranges and savings rate were high. Savings, as a function leads to productive investment as money is loaned to businesses for expansion or startup, real estate development, or the purchases of equipment. In turn production is increased which leads to higher levels of employment and income. During the 60-70's savings rates ranged between 6% and 15% versus 3.7% today.
Today, the belief is that if the system is flooded with cheaper dollars that the near-term dysfunction of the economy can be fixed through a consumption driven recovery. The problem, however, as we just discussed, is that production must come first. Production is the real source of healthy consumption in the economy. The debt driven consumption of the 80-90's was a slow moving cancer through the economy. Debt has to be serviced which, as debt levels increased without commensurate increases in income, diverted more and more income away from savings and ultimately productive investment.
The problem is that with the media viewing data from only one month, or quarter, to the next the long term trends are being missed.
In order for consumers to continue to consume at rates high enough to support long term economic growth they need increasing wage growth to offset the effects of inflation over time. This is currently not the case. In fact wages have been stagnant and declining since October of 2010. As of today's latest read - the year over year change in real disposable incomes fell 50% from where it stood in January. Even on a monthly basis real disposable incomes fell in both January and February. Mortgage and debt payments, insurance, utilities, food and auto payments must be met every month and these are just the bare essentials that consume a very large portion of the monthly household budget.
Food & Energy On The Rise - Savings On The Decline
Therein lies the obvious problem. As the rate of increase in income declines as food and energy costs rise - the deficit between income and expenses is made up with either decreased personal savings, increased debt or both. However, with credit tight, limited savings and engaged, either by force or choice, in debt deleveraging - consumers are struggling with higher food and energy prices as they try to maintain their current standard of living.
Senate Republican staffers continue to look though the 2010 health care reform law to see what’s in it, and their latest discovery is a massive $17 trillion funding gap.
“The more we learn about the bill, the more we learn it is even more unaffordable than was suspected,” said Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Republicans’ budget chief in the Senate.
“The bill has to be removed from the books because we don’t have the money,” he said.
The hidden shortfall between new spending and new taxes was revealed just after Supreme Court justices grilled the law’s supporters about its compliance with the Constitution’s limits on government activity. If the court doesn’t strike down the law, it will force taxpayers to find another $17 trillion to pay for the increased spending.
But David Blackwell, one of the leading minds in the field of geothermal energy has reiterated the fact that there is endless potential that is going untapped across the globe in form of the heat generated by earth’s core. While the general perception is that we can harvest geothermal power only in places where there are hot natural springs, much like the Yellowstone national Park and its spectacular geyser field, the fact is that there are many other ways in which we can generate clean power from the endless heat engine that we call Earth’s core.
According to experts, United States alone could easily generate around three million megawatts of power from geothermal energy if the proper infrastructure is in place. This can be done by injecting liquids into sites and creating artificial geysers that can generate clean energy and the use of old and discarded crude oil stations, where an underground reservoir for injection of liquids would be already in place thanks to fuel companies.
In essence, the idea of Yu Chin’s invention is to create a cooking unit that will be independent from external power sources and can power itself on with ease. The process of frying a chicken obviously produces plenty of heat and all this heat and the gas produced can be channeled to generate energy in a unique way. It would be interesting to know if other cooking processes too can produce the same result. There are many kitchens across the globe that get uncomfortably hot while cooking and this technology might be translated to achieve similar results.
This special chicken cart is currently on display at the exhibition of dual use military technology in Lung-Yuan Research Park, Taiwan. The fried chicken power was inspired by military technology that uses heat from vehicles to produce additional power for the vehicle. While the technology in itself might not be revolutionary, it could help those many scores of fried chicken stands that you normally see and could improve quality of working conditions a whole lot.
The Government is to reconsider its refusal to ban neonicotinoid pesticides, the nerve-agent chemicals blamed for the collapse of bee colonies worldwide, the chief scientist at the Department of the Environment, Sir Robert Watson, told The Independent.
...The Government has refused previous requests to consider a precautionary suspension of the chemicals, which have been banned in France and Italy, despite mounting evidence that they are harmful to bees and other pollinating insects, even in minute doses.
Bees' role in pollinating crops is worth billions of pounds annually to global agriculture.
Even on Thursday, after the new studies were published, a spokesman for Defra said the new research did not change the Government's position, and that "the evidence shows that neonicotinoids do not pose an unacceptable risk to honey bees".
Mar 30, 2012
Slowly, slowly, the Energy Department is moving forward with solidifying the liquid nuclear wastes left over from cold-war weapons production. On Thursday, the department said it had closed two more of the 51 underground tanks at the Savannah River Site in western South Carolina. The high-level waste was mixed with molten glass to keep it chemically locked up for millennia, and the lower-level material was mixed with a kind of cement that is supposed to keep it in place until the radioactivity dies down.
The department has 22 tanks at Savannah River that do not meet Environmental Protection Agency standards, mostly because they are single-wall tanks rather than double-wall. It closed two of them in 1997 but has faced numerous technical problems. Now it says it will have four more done by 2014 or 2015, and all of them by 2028. It is starting with the tanks that are closest to the water table because their contents would spread most rapidly if they leaked. (The area has a high water table.)Please continue reading at:
Roughly two and a half million Americans suffer a heart attack or a stroke each year. About 20% of these - half a million people - die in the aftermath. The proximate cause for both heart attack and stroke is a blood clot in the wrong place - a blood clot that could be prevented or minimized by anti-clot therapy IF physicians knew that an attack or stroke was expected shortly. New findings from a research study led by Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) has identified a new blood test which has the promise of predicting heart attack or stroke weeks prior to their occurrence. .. Continue Reading Scripps Institute develops simple blood test to predict heart attacks and strokes
Comerica Bank's Michigan Economic Activity Index rose seven points in January, up to a level of 98. The January index level is 38 points, or 63%, above the index cyclical low of 60, and marks the highest index reading since January 2006 (see chart above).
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Li and colleagues estimate that in China about 3% of all cancer deaths in men and about 2% in women are due to workplace exposures. However, these figures are likely to underestimate the true situation.
Several cancer rates decreasing in the USA
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have published the latest "Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer", which shows that death rates from all cancers combined for men, women, and children continued to decrease between 2004 and 2008.
A proposed study could help determine a link between living near nuclear facilities and risk of cancer
living near U.S. nuclear facilities and having a higher risk of
cancer, but challenges and limitations exist, says a new report from
the National Research Council. To evaluate the feasibility of such a
study, the report recommends that a pilot study of seven nuclear
facilities be completed first, although the ultimate decision about
whether to perform either would be the responsibility of the U.S.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Please continue reading at:
CBO | S. 1023, Haiti Reforestation Act of 2011... environmental recovery of 35% of Haiti’s land area within five years
increase efforts to restore forest cover, and improve management of
natural resources. The bill would set specific targets for those
efforts: promote the environmental recovery of 35 percent of Haiti’s
land area within five years, restore forest cover to at least 10
percent of Haiti within 30 years, and increase agroforestry (the
simultaneous production of trees with crops or livestock) cover to
more than 25 percent of Haiti within 10 years. Please continue reading at:
With airborne radioactivity from Fukushima's still-critical damaged reactors circling the globe and more likely on the way from the mass incineration of earthquake debris, individuals are certainly justified in wanting to shield themselves from the fallout, especially when it shows up in their food and drink. Now, to address concerns about nuclear contamination in juice, milk and even water, a team of researchers led by Allen Apblett from Oklahoma State University (OSU) has announced development of a capsule that, when dropped in liquid, can easily and effectively remove numerous radioactive substances and thus prevent the consumer from ingesting them... Continue Reading Capsule removes radioactive substances from beverages
Altaeros Energies has announced the first testing of its Airborne Wind Turbine (AWT) prototype that resembles a sort of blimp windmill. The test took place at the Loring Commerce Center in Limestone, Maine, USA where the AWT floated 350 feet (107 meters) into the sky and successfully produced power, before coming back to earth in a controlled landing. The turbine was deployed into the air from a towable docking trailer, while demonstrating that it can produce over twice the power at high altitudes than generated at conventional tower height.. Continue Reading Floating wind turbines to produce low cost renewable energy
Wind turbines are exposed to a wide variety of wind conditions, from zephyrs to gales, and ensuring the maximum amount of power is extracted from the turbine across a range of wind speeds is a difficult task. Chinese researchers have now developed a biologically inspired control system that uses “memory” of past experience to learn how to best adapt to changing conditions... Continue Reading Wind turbines that use human-like learning to improve efficiency
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CDC - Severe Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease Associated with Coxsackievirus A6 — Alabama, Connecticut,
While electric vehicles have come a long way in the past decade, they still have many disadvantages when compared to internal combustion engine-driven vehicles. The lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles have a much lower energy storage density when compared to liquid fuel, they take longer to “refuel,” and they lack the supporting infrastructure that has built up around conventional vehicles over the past century. Now researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed a process that could allow liquid fuel to be produced using solar generated electricity... Continue Reading Researchers generate liquid fuel using electricity
The Chart Of The Decade (ZeroHedge):
This chart tells millions of stories. I’m trying to get my head around its implications.
That’s right: since 1984 (surely an appropriate year) while the elderly have grown their wealth in nominal terms, the young are much worse off both in inflation-adjusted terms, as well as nominal terms (pretty hard to believe given that the money supply has expanded eightfold in the intervening years). So why are the elderly doing over fifty times better than the young when they were only doing ten times better before?
Are young people a stupefied generation coddled by parents and government, addicted to welfare, junk food, drugs and reality TV?
To some extent, but are they any less fiscally and morally responsible than the marijuana-smoking, free-love-embracing, national-debt-accruing baby boom generation? That’s a matter of opinion, but my answer is probably not. Baby boomers hate Ron Paul, while the under-35s seem to love him.
Is it due to government policies that favour the elderly and screw the young?
America is suffering from excessive consumer debt:
Net worth is calculated by subtracting debt from assets. The biggest debt for most people is a mortgage. So having more mortgage debt or less mortgage debt tends to be a pretty good determinant of net worth. (And no — unlike in the United Kingdom and Australia which have a severe problem with housing affordability — housing in the USA is still cheap today priced in wages)
The biggest issue though, is this:
The truth may be that the inability of the unemployed to become self-employed is the force that is squeezing the jobless most. Certainly, job migration overseas has changed America, but why should it mean continued elevated unemployment? There is enough money to keep the economy flowing so long as there are opportunities for people to make themselves useful in a way that pays. With the crushing burden of overregulation and the problem of barriers to entry, these opportunities are often restricted to large corporations.
These issues of youth unemployment and growing inequality between the generations are critically important. Unemployed and poor swathes of youth have a habit of creating volatility in response to restricted economic opportunity.