Sep 30, 2009

Diet soda or Cell Phones - Data and Details are in the numbers...

Bob Parks (always a good read since the 90's) makes a clear stance often for facts and science. In the perpetual world of cancer causing lawsuits... Bob trys this month to bring some clarity to the calamity.
Last week, Senate hearings were held asking whether cell phones cause brain cancer. Brian Walsh, writing for Time, described the outcome as "inconclusive." A collective groan rose from the nation's physicists. "Not again?" It's been almost 17 years since David Reynard, whose wife died from brain cancer, was on Larry King Live. Reynard was suing the cell phone industry. He said his wife, "held it against her head, and talked on it all the time." That was enough for Larry King. However, all known cancer agent act by breaking chemical bonds, producing mutant strands of DNA. It would be like suing me for hitting someone with a rock thrown across the Potomac River. George Washington is said to have thrown a silver dollar across the Potomac. I can't throw that far, and microwave photons can't break chemical bonds. Not until you get up to the near ultraviolet, about 10,000 times more energetic than microwaves, are photons capable of causing cancer
We know of 1000's of proven cancer causing influences, why look at the obscure when the obvious is pointed at your head?
My vast condolences to Mr. Reynard, on his lose. But all that have had this kind of lose need to look at all data and influence with toxicologists and physicians. And maybe not lawyers seeking "the pockets of least resistance ..." 

Did she drink diet soda? Live within 50miles of a superfund, or EPA regulated facility, well water, work related exposures?
Dose, influence, time... logic.

Please read fulll including at

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Kick Start A Clean Energy Industry

Chris Nelder... it feels like we are finally standing at a true crossroads.

The short-term cost argument is tired, and we have already delayed too long. It is time we evaluated our choices in terms of the wealth and welfare of future generations, not just the personal net worth and power of today's kings of industry.

At this crossroads in history, the United States can either seize the opportunity to reinvent itself and secure a prosperous future, or allow an unproductive process of selfish bickering to lead us further down a dead-end street. We can apply our vaunted ingenuity and innovation to the renewable energy challenge, or watch our fortunes continue to slide while the rest of the world kicks our butts. We do have a choice.

One direction leads to a vision of a sustainable future, with adequate energy, food, and water for all without compromising the welfare of future generations.

The other direction is a continuation of the path we're currently on, which the vast preponderance of empirical evidence says is not sustainable, but which continues to be vigorously defended by vested interests.

....While those who stand to lose something waste their energy impeding our progress on the march to sustainability, those who stand to gain from it are going gangbusters.

As (Chris Nelder) discussed two weeks ago ("Why We Need the Red Dragon"), China has made aggressive and well-timed moves in the solar race. In only five years it has gone from being a negligible player to the world's top producer of solar PV cells, according to a new report from the European Commission Joint Research Centre Institute for Energy. Worldwide solar module production increased by 80% in 2008 alone, with Asia and Europe taking the largest share while the U.S. share barely budged.

PV Production Chart

Source: JRC PV Status Report 2009. "In 2008, China became the global leading producer of solar cells with an annual production of about 2.4 GW, followed by Europe with 1.9 GW, Japan with 1.2 GW and Taiwan with 0.8 GW. It this trend continues, China might have about 32% of the world-wide production capacity by 2012."

It must greatly amuse the Chinese to watch the Greens and Browns in the U.S. waste their energy squabbling over who's going to pay for the transition to a sustainable climate, starving the country of investment in the clean energy solutions of the future while China is busy taking over the global PV market and implementing policies that will soon take it far beyond the U.S. in meeting climate change and renewable energy goals.

Indeed, the U.S. is fighting itself at every turn, offering more incentives that will increase CO2 output than those that would curb it.

Last week, just days before President Obama would warn at the United Nations that the "irreversible catastrophe" of climate change must be avoided, the Environmental Law Institute issued a new report finding that U.S. subsidies to fossil fuels ($72 billion) were over two-and-a-half times as great as those it invests in renewables ($29 billion). Of the latter portion, traditional renewables received only $12 billion, while corn ethanol—a net energy loser—got $17 billion.

The OECD also issued a report last week estimating that eliminating fossil fuel subsidies alone would cut emissions by more than 10% by 2050. I suspect the two reports had something to do with Obama's call on Wednesday of this week to "work with my colleagues at the G-20 to phase out fossil fuel subsidies."

As of this time, however, the madness continues. Pending House legislation sports tens of billions of dollars of incentives for so-called "clean coal" technology, which does not exist commercially, but has no hint of a feed-in tariff (FiT), the primary impetus behind Europe's stunning renewable energy growth.

As I have written previously, FiTs have been responsible for an explosion of renewable energy in over 37 countries and put them on track to meet their carbon emission reduction goals. But instead of following those examples, the U.S. is fixated on a backward approach to the climate problem: a highly corruptible and ineffectual cap-and-trade mechanism that puts the focus on what comes out of the tailpipe instead of what goes into the engine. (Notable exceptions to this are Gainesville, which has adopted a FiT, and San Antonio, Los Angeles, and Sacramento, which are considering one.)

A new research note from Deutsche Bank points out that under Germany's FiT the share of electricity supplied from renewables grew from 6.3% to 14% and created 300,000 new jobs, but the program's cost only contributed between 3% and 4% to the increase in electricity prices from 2004 to 2006.

Over the same time period, the fraction of renewable energy in the U.S. actually fell from 10.1% to 9.4% while the Browns fought it tooth and nail. Job creation was anemic, electricity prices still rose, and oil imports continued to increase.

A Case Study in Failure: California

As usual, California offers a useful example of how backward the U.S. approach is to formulating energy policy.

A recent showdown occurred over a bill that would raise California's renewable portfolio standard (RPS) from 20% by 2010 to 33% by 2020. Governor Schwarzenegger threatened to veto the bill because of a provision that would require the power to be generated by plants connected to the California grid — an attempt to keep the projects in-state and limit imports — calling it "protectionist." Then he proceeded to issue an executive order to the California Air Resources Board establishing the new 33% RPS by mandate.

The RPS approach, which favors utility-scale projects, has already failed to yield the desired results. California's three big utilities will almost certainly fall short of meeting the existing 2010 goal, with laggard San Diego Gas and Electric currently getting only 10% of its electricity from renewables. (I can also tell you firsthand that the one residential solar project I did in SDG&E territory was a slow-moving absolute nightmare of confusion and paperwork compared to the projects I did in PG&E territory.)

At the same time, an approach that actually works continues to meet resistance.

California's net metering law, which requires utilities to give credits to customers who feed renewable power back to the grid, is currently capped at 2.5% of the total load. A new bill would have raised the cap to 5%, but was stalled when the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IEBW) successfully inserted an amendment that would have permitted only contractors with a general C-10 electrician license to install projects larger than 250 kilowatts, excluding numerous non-union contractors with the solar-specific C-46 license. (The IEBW has attempted the same strategy several times in recent years, impeding the progress of pro-solar policy while gaining nothing for itself.) If the net metering cap is not raised, there is a distinct possibility that PG&E will hit the existing cap and trigger another slump in the long boom-and-bust history of solar.

PLEASE read full from Business Insider

Cassandras of Climate Fear for Pushing Crap N Trade Bill

New York Times Paul Krugman likes to say he is "not engaging in hyperbole"... of despair over the fate of the planet catastrophe, and dire delusional ravings. Well I am not sure his article absolves him of this?

If I were to write for the NY Times I would not have even wasted a pixel of screen regurgitating the 30 year rant he is "not engaging in"... I would instead fill all columns with the optimism and tangible solutions our country has ignored and desperately needs to pull or ourselves out of this 'great recession'. Repairing the devastation of our energy and environmental ignorance of the past and move forward into the prosperity of future.

This entire article sounded like a fear, doom, gloom summary of the obvious to push the readers of NY Times to 'believe something should be done' and 'cap N fail' is our only hope and option...

NY Times Krugman - The result of all this is that climate scientists have, en masse, become Cassandras — gifted with the ability to prophesy future disasters, but cursed with the inability to get anyone to believe them.

And we're not just talking about disasters in the distant future, either. The really big rise in global temperature probably won't take place until the second half of this century, but there will be plenty of damage long before then.

For example, one 2007 paper in the journal Science is titled "Model Projections of an Imminent Transition to a More Arid Climate in Southwestern North America" — yes, "imminent" — and reports "a broad consensus among climate models" that a permanent drought, bringing Dust Bowl-type conditions, "will become the new climatology of the American Southwest within a time frame of years to decades."

So if you live in, say, Los Angeles, and liked those pictures of red skies and choking dust in Sydney, Australia, last week, no need to travel. They'll be coming your way in the not-too-distant future.

.....But the larger reason we're ignoring climate change is that Al Gore was right: This truth is just too inconvenient. Responding to climate change with the vigor that the threat deserves would not, contrary to legend, be devastating for the economy as a whole. But it would shuffle the economic deck, hurting some powerful vested interests even as it created new economic opportunities. And the industries of the past have armies of lobbyists in place right now; the industries of the future don't.

Nor is it just a matter of vested interests. It's also a matter of vested ideas. For three decades the dominant political ideology in America has extolled private enterprise and denigrated government, but climate change is a problem that can only be addressed through government action. And rather than concede the limits of their philosophy, many on the right have chosen to deny that the problem exists.

So here we are, with the greatest challenge facing mankind on the back burner, at best, as a policy issue. I'm not, by the way, saying that the Obama administration was wrong to push health care first. It was necessary to show voters a tangible achievement before next November. But climate change legislation had better be next.

Really? a 'nobel prize winning economist' truly believes that the two bills he has read are a 'true solution' to our energy, environmental and economic crisis that is causing the implosion of our country? Really?

I have far too much respect for him to think that.

Clearly he falls into the whole 'control of the press to secure legislative bill passage' thingy....

Please read full by PAUL KRUGMAN NY Times

Boxer-Kerry bill, no hope to pass, prosperity for nation or tangible climate solutions...

NewYorkTimes -  "It's going to need a lot of work," ...

Kerry last week sought to change the vernacular surrounding the climate bill and sell its concepts more broadly, insisting it is not a "cap and trade" proposal but a "pollution reduction" bill. "I don't know what 'cap and trade' means. I don't think the average American does," Kerry said. "This is not a cap-and-trade bill, it's a pollution reduction bill" (E&E Daily, Sept. 25).

The Boxer-Kerry bill will build in large part off H.R. 2454 (pdf), legislation approved in June by the House following several marathon months of negotiations that involved lawmakers representing coastal and industry-heavy districts. Exactly what is the same in the two bills remains to be seen. As for differences, Senate Democratic aides say they expect the legislation to divert from the House bill's 17 percent emissions target for 2020 and go with an even more aggressive 20 percent limit. The bill also will stay silent on exactly how the Senate should divide up emission allowances.

"No matter the semantic games employed, or the extent to which Democrats wish to hide the truth from the American people, cap and trade will mean more job losses, more pain at the pump, and higher food and electricity prices for consumers," said EPW Committee ranking member James Inhofe (R-Okla.)."

Please read full at
NY - Times

“Sweet Misery,” Link between Brain Cancer and sweeteners

According to a UK documentary, "Sweet Misery," the National Cancer Institute identified a significant and impressive increase in brain cancer starting in about 1984. Why did brain cancer shoot up? It looks like it is because of artificial sweeteners such as those found in diet drinks and food! Watch VIA YouTubeSome scientists identified that in 1983 humans began consuming something never before consumed by humans — aspartame, a chemically created substance acting as a sugar alternative — and this is the cause of the big increase in brain cancer. This is an artificial sweetener used in diet drinks, food, and even on the table in most restaurants (i.e. NutraSweet, Crystallite, Equal).

Increase in Aspartame, Increase in Brain Cancer
- According to the documentary, in 1984, one year after its introduction, 6.9 million pounds of aspartame were consumed by Americans. In the next year, that even doubled. It continued increasing into the '90s. This is all at the same time that brain cancer was increasing the most.

From 1984-1987, other cancers outside the brain basically remained the same or declined. However, brain cancer rates shot up.

The parallels are undeniable and chilling, if you look at the brain cancer issue alone.

Bottom line — maybe it's time to cut artificial sweeteners out of your diet!

Read full from GreenOptions

Sep 29, 2009

Concern over Great Lakes fish will remain even after current toxins fade.

New York's advisories on consumption of Lake Ontario fish are based on chemicals that, for the most part, were banned decades ago and are increasingly rare in the environment... Lurking in the background are a variety of other contaminants that can accumulate in Great Lakes fish.

"We know of other compounds that are likely out there," ... At the top of this list, said Skinner and others, are polybrominated diethyl ethers, or PBDEs, which are flame retardants that were added to plastics used in electronics, furniture foam, textiles and other products. The sole U.S. manufacturer ended production of most forms of PBDE in 2004, but they remain ubiquitous in the environment.

"We know the concentrations in water from Lake Ontario increased exponentially, which was reflective of usage in industry," Skinner said.

The DEC does not test fish for these compounds. Federal officials do limited monitoring, and the state hopes to pursue a federal grant to begin PBDE monitoring of its own, Skinner said...

Horn said there were other chemicals such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons, perfluorinated compounds and the common anti-bacterial agent triclosan — that may build up in fish and bear watching.

"There's no question that a lot of these chemicals are of concern," he said.

One reason that New York has a statewide advisory against eating more than one meal a week of sport fish is the potential impact of these emerging compounds, he said.

Read more at source here

7 Groundbreaking Electric Vehicles Built Before the 1900s

EV dates all the way back to the 1800s. In fact, in its heyday, 28-percent of U.S. cars were electric! Here are some defining moments from New York City's first fleet of electric taxis to setting the very first land speed record.

Carriage Built in 1830s Uses Non-Rechargeable Batteries

Robert Anderson built a crude electric carriage in the 1830s using non-rechargeable batteries. It eventually became the rechargeable Detroit Electric (1907 - 1939) which in one test run achieved a 211.3 mile range and a top speed of 20 MPH. It was mainly marketed to women who didn't want to bother with hand cranking an engine. Read on at GreenOptions

GM to sell cheap electric cars in India???

Guess where your GM gov grants and bailout cash went to... to put a affordable electric on foreign soil.
Yep Europe gets 50mpg + GM vehicles, India gets a $5,000 electric and you get 30mpg and a $40,000 volt.
Wish I was kidding.


General Motors, one of the world's biggest carmakers, and the Bangalore-based company behind the G-Wiz electric car have announced a joint venture to produce "affordable" electric cars in India.


The new vehicle, which has been road-tested, will be based on GM's popular Spark hatchback, which in India costs a quarter of a million rupees (£3,000). Neither GM nor its partner, Reva, would be drawn on the electric version's price tag, though both said it would be "competitive and affordable" on here

Wood heat, a '70s idea, catches fire again

business appears to be warming up once again for Martin Lunde and his Garn WHS wood-fired heating systems. Lunde, a consulting engineer, began developing his high-efficiency, clean-burning system as both oil prices and interest in alternative energy rose in the 1970s. As those conditions returned in recent years, Lunde has rekindled production, largely shuttered since plunging oil prices froze him out of the market in 1989... read full from Star Tribune

Australia 'uranium' dust concerns

BBC News Environmentalists have raised concerns that another giant dust storm blowing its way across eastern Australia may contain radioactive particles.

It is argued that sediment whipped up from Australia's centre may be laced with material from a uranium mine.

Last Wednesday Sydney and Brisbane bore witness to their biggest dust storm in 70 years. Both were shrouded in red dust blown in from the desert outback.

The massive clouds of dust that choked heavily populated parts of Australia have caused problems for people with asthma, as well as those with heart and lung conditions.

Mining companies have stressed that dust levels are carefully monitored, while the health concerns have been dismissed by a senior environmental toxicologist.

Barry Noller from the University of Queensland says that many of the particles from mines in the outback are simply too heavy to be carried by the wind over long distances.

"In a big dust storm, the dust is not going to come from one isolated site, it is going to be mixed in with dust from a [wide] area and diluted considerably," Mr Noller said.

Read full at BBC News

China official warns on "too fast" nuclear plans

(Reuters) – China may have to put the brakes on the construction of nuclear power plants to ensure the plants are safe, the country's top energy planning official told reporters on Sunday.

Zhang Guobao, head of the National Energy Administration, warned of signs of "improper" and "too fast" development of nuclear power in some regions.

China had previously set a goal of 40 gigawatts of nuclear power capacity by 2020, which would entail building about two reactors a year.

"We'd rather move slower and achieve less than incur potential safety concerns in terms of nuclear energy," Zhang told reporters on the sidelines of the Sino-U.S. Energy Summit.

Of renewable energy sources, hydropower accounts for the biggest share, or 6 percent of China's total primary energy mix. Nuclear makes up about 0.6 percent and other sources such as wind power and solar power account for a trivial proportion, Zhang said.

Read full at Reuters

NOTE: China is building 2-3 Coal Plants PER WEEK

DOE Clean Cities on SPEED and PBS MotorWeek

In the third installment of "Clean Cities Success Stories," a new bi-weekly segment showcasing Clean Cities coalition efforts to expand the use of alternative fuel and advanced vehicle technologies, viewers will learn how Dallas County Schools have incorporated biodiesel and propane in their everyday operations... this short segment will air on PBS stations nationwide starting Oct. 2, 2009 (in the regular weekly MotorWeek timeslot on your local PBS station). It will also be broadcasted on the SPEED Channel on cable and satellite networks beginning Oct. 9, 2009.

For show times in your area, check the MotorWeek and SPEED Channel Web sites.

School drinking water laced with poisons

Over the last decade, the drinking water at thousands of schools across the country has been found to contain unsafe levels of lead, pesticides and dozens of other toxins.

An Associated Press investigation found that contaminants have surfaced at public and private schools in all 50 states - in small towns and inner cities alike.

But the problem has gone largely unmonitored by the federal government, even as the number of water safety violations has multiplied.

"It's an outrage," said Marc Edwards, an engineer at Virginia Tech who has been honored for his work on water quality. "If a landlord doesn't tell a tenant about lead paint in an apartment, he can go to jail. But we have no system to make people follow the rules to keep school children safe?"

The contamination is most apparent at schools with wells, which represent 8 to 11 percent of the nation's schools. Roughly one of every five schools with its own water supply violated the Safe Drinking Water Act in the past decade, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency analyzed by the AP.

In California's farm belt, wells at some schools are so tainted with pesticides that students have taken to stuffing their backpacks with bottled water for fear of getting sick from the drinking fountain.

Experts and children's advocates complain that responsibility for drinking water is spread among too many local, state and federal agencies, and that risks are going unreported. Finding a solution, they say, would require a costly new national strategy for monitoring water in schools.

Many of the same toxins could also be found in water at homes, offices and businesses. But the contaminants are especially dangerous to children, who drink more water per pound than adults and are more vulnerable to the effects of many hazardous substances.

"There's a different risk for kids," said Cynthia Dougherty, head of the EPA's Office of Groundwater and Drinking Water.

Still, the EPA does not have the authority to require testing for all schools and can only provide guidance on environmental practices.

The AP analysis has "clearly identified the tip of an iceberg," said Gina Solomon, a San Francisco physician who serves on an EPA drinking water advisory board. "This tells me there is a widespread problem that needs to be fixed because there are ongoing water quality problems in small and large utilities, as well."

Schools with wells are required to test their water and report any problems to the state, which is supposed to send all violations to the federal government.

But EPA officials acknowledge the agency's database of violations is plagued with errors and omissions. And the agency does not specifically monitor incoming state data on school water quality.

Critics say those practices prevent the government from reliably identifying the worst offenders - and carrying out enforcement.

Scientists say the testing requirements fail to detect dangerous toxins such as lead, which can wreak havoc on major organs and may retard children's learning abilities.

"There is just no excuse for this. Period," said California Sen. Barbara Boxer, Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. "We want to make sure that we fix this problem in a way that it will never happen again, and we can ensure parents that their children will be safe."

The problem goes beyond schools that use wells. Schools that draw water from public utilities showed contamination, too, especially older buildings where lead can concentrate at higher levels than in most homes.

"I really suspect the level of exposure to lead and other metals at schools is underestimated," said Michael Schock, a corrosion expert with the EPA in Cincinnati. "You just don't know what is going on in the places you don't sample."

The AP analyzed a database showing federal drinking water violations from 1998 to 2008 in schools with their own water supplies.

Read the findings from Associated Press

Ontario Launches Feed-in Tariffs

First System of Advanced Renewable Tariffs in North America
Ontario today launched the province's long-awaited program of feed-in tariffs in response to its ground-breaking Green Energy Act.

The tariffs are precedent setting in North America not only for the number of different technologies listed, but also for the prices offered. Solar energy advocates will be particularly pleased. Ontario's proposed tariffs, if implemented, will be the highest in North America. For rooftop solar they will be comparable to those offered in Germany and France.

Ontario is expecting a boom in rooftop solar installations as a result of the program. The province will pay CAN $0.80/kWh (US $0.69/kWh; €0.51/kWh) for electricity from small rooftop solar systems less than 10 kilowatts for a period of 20 years.

Through the feed-in tariff program, Ontario will also pay the highest prices for wind energy, and biogas in North America.
The tariffs represent the best estimates by engineers and economists of what it costs to develop renewable energy under Ontario's climatic conditions.

Unlike programs in the United States, there are no subsidies from either the federal or local government used in the feed-in tariff program.

In a first for North America, the new program includes feed-in tariffs specifically for offshore wind energy: CAN $0.19/kWh (US $0.16/kWh; €0.12/kWh). Ontario borders all the Great Lakes except Lake Michigan.

In the run up to the G20 in Pittsburgh and the Copenhagen climate conference later this year, Smitherman has stressed the theme that Ontario's new feed-in tariff program is just one part of what is North America's most aggressive climate change policy.

Read more from RenewableEnergyWorld

Sep 28, 2009

CalOsha Quote of day... Dust explosion, entirely preventable.

"The explosion at the plant was entirely preventable and the deaths that occurred in February 2008 should never have happened." CSB Chairman John Bresland said.

"This accident was caused by poor equipment design, poor maintenance and poor housekeeping. If the dust was not allowed to build up, this terrible accident would not have happened and we would not have had the terrible injuries that we saw," Bresland said.


Imperial Sugar had been aware of the hazard of combustible dust for decades before the accident that also caused 36 injuries, mostly related to burns and many of which were life-threatening, the board said on Thursday.

It recommended that Imperial Sugar adopt better procedures and training for dealing with the hazard of combustible dust...But several international unions criticized the board for not repeating in the report its earlier recommendation to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration of strong standards on combustible dust in factories.

"They (CSB) seem to be leaning toward the interests of industry ... rather than toward the interests of the stakeholders involved," said Jim Frederick of the United Steelworkers health safety and environment department.

"Had a combustible dust standard been in place at Imperial Sugar this catastrophic incident would not have taken place," Frederick said.

Continued.. - Reuters

Link source-CalOsha

Google pushing hard up a hill, against the wind

I thought the point was to build a energy independent future?
Solar is so 70's... and still has massive scale and storage issues, yet is getting a "hard push" still at google.

Apparently, google not only ignored my submitted plan to save our nation, but is also trying to reinvent the wheel.

From TriplePundit - Frustrated with the lack of progress cutting the cost of solar thermal energy, Google, a prominent supporter of the technology, is privately working on ways to lower cost.

Google's Green Energy Czar Bill Weihl says it is working on lowering the production cost of the mirrors that are a primary component of solar thermal power by at least a factor of two, "ideally a factor of three or four," according to Reuters.

Weihl says Google will not be working with any other companies on the technology — an odd decision, given that Google has already invested in two solar thermal companies that use mirrors to produce power.

...Through its philanthropic arm,, the Internet giant has invested in two solar thermal companies, eSolar, of Pasadena, and BrightSource of Oakland. Google's aggressive and unilateral move into solar thermal power provided a big boost solar thermal, financially but also, perhaps more importantly, from a pr standpoint.

Frustration in Mountain View... Google has not been able to invest as much as it hoped. In an interview, Weihl said a lack of "breakthrough ideas" and funding for ideas in their early stages has led the Internet giant to invest less than it expected — less than $50 million so far. From the Reuters piece:

"I would say it's reasonable to be a little bit discouraged there and from my point of view, it's not right to be seriously discouraged," he said. "There isn't enough investment going into the early stages of investment pipeline before the venture funds come into the play."

For all of Google's renewable energy investments: click here.

Please read from TriplePundit
Haase -
"Innovation is about doing things differently,
not reinventing the old, but bringing in the new...
google made it's name by doing things different.

This is not that... come on google show us the good stuff.

Coal in a black hole hiding as clean

Should the U.S. Build Its Next Coal Plants Underground?

Momentum is growing worldwide to look closely at the idea, a 150-year-old technique of igniting seams of coal deep under the ground to produce electrical power or chemicals. It's a proven technology: Joseph Stalin launched the first national research program into the idea in 1928 and the Soviets used it for 40 years to produce power. Since then, cheap natural gas and shallow, easy-to-mine coal burned in traditional power plants have prevented the technique from taking off.

But gasifying coal underground is now a hot topic among power companies and scientists, with at least 10 pilot projects around the world planned or underway. The cost benefits and climate advantages are among the reasons that five countries run national research programs on the technique; is the United States falling behind on the next big fossil fuel technology?

Yes, says the nonprofit Clean Air Task Force, a well-respected public health and environment advocacy group, in a report issued last week.


Recent studies suggest that energy obtained using the technique would be cheaper than more popular methods of getting low emissions coal power, like so-called Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC), which involves gasifying coal above ground in facilities like the FutureGen project, which the Bush Administration proposed and then killed. The idea would also eliminate the need for strip mining, which is environmentally harmful, or carbon intensive shipping of mined coal.

"The enormous potential of underground coal gasification to meet rising energy demand in a CO2-constrained world warrants a high priority effort by the United States government to speed commercialization," the Task Force study said.

The advantages of the techniques are myriad, says the Task Force, starting with the fact that it's a cleaner version of "clean coal" than other techniques:

[D]uring gasification, roughly half of the sulfur, mercury, arsenic, tar, ash, and particulates from the used coal remain in the subsurface, and any sulfur or metals that reach the surface arrive in a chemically reduced state, making them relatively simple to remove.

So if underground coal gasification is so great, why are commercial projects exploiting the method so few and far in between? Up till now, the reason is the availability of cheap energy using other means, author Julio Friedmann of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California tells ScienceInsider. During the late '70s energy crisis, the technology got several demonstrations in the United States, but the coal industry stuck with the methods it liked, especially because they owned rights for coal close to the surface. Plentiful and cheap natural gas was a further disincentive.

Now though, with natural gas prices rising and climate a central concern, Australia, Canada, China, New Zealand, and South Africa all have government-funded R&D projects in this area. "China has minted 100 Ph.D.'s in this area," says John Thompson, director of the Task Force's project on coal transformation. "We are losing."

For its part, the report suggests DOE spend more than $100 million over the next 4 years on science, development, and demonstration efforts to try to catch up.

Read full from Science

Sep 26, 2009

No love lost with google... just disenchantment in project 10^100

This week google announced the project 10^100 finalist and left me out on a ledge. I then posted my disappointment while feeling that Google failed to select any tangible or real earth shattering projects from the 10,000's submitted.

Am I being a little hard here? Yes and let me explain why...
I think it was over-hyped and I fell into it, there are so many brilliant people at google and who work on their projects. Given that, I thought this was the culmination of that brilliance into several save the world ideas.

The constant project delays only made the expectations grow to possibly unrealistic.

And the resulting ideas are 'not bad' (yes I will vote for one), but hardly the earth shattering stuff google is known for.

I love the geothermal, solar and energy initiatives they have been working on... but for me this whole thing turned into a 'feel good media campaign' I expect from MSN or a save the world celebratory party... not google.

We are often the hardest judges of the ones we love the most in this world.

I have lost no love for googles awesome web tools, alternative energy programs or open source projects that have helped raise the cumulative intellect and technology advancements of the world, just a little disenchanted by one overly hyped 'prize contest' I got sucked into.

I thought it was the 'something bigger' that google is known for.

Energy Sprawl: Renewables' Achilles Heel


Corn ethanol and wind are two renewable energy sources being pursued in the United States. A research paper on "Energy Sprawl" released in August 2009 indicates that energy efficiency is as important a strategy in energy policy as pursuing land-intensive renewable energy sources like biofuels. Photo:  brooklyn/flickr

A key challenge for renewable energy like biofuels, solar, and wind becomes the large amount of land needed to produce electricity and liquid fuels at large scale.

Fossil fuels coal, oil, and natural gas are energy dense because they contain concentrated ancient sunlight. Created from carbon-rich plant residues laid down millions of years ago, fossil fuels carry via those plants the energy of millions of years of sunlight densely packed into energy-rich rocks, liquid, and gas. 

On the other hand, renewables depend on current sunlight -- today's sun and wind, this year's growing season -- to produce their power. Consequently the energy density of renewables is much lower than fossil fuels.

Continue reading "Energy Sprawl: Renewables' Achilles Heel"

Source blog Signs From Earth

Senate passes $400M Great Lakes bill

(MI) The Detroit News - The Senate easily passed legislation tonight containing $400 million for Great Lakes restoration by deterring invasive species, cleaning up highly polluted sites and expanding wetlands.

The funding level for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative falls short of the $475 million passed by the House in June and supported by President Barack Obama.

Michigan Sens. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, and Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, voted for the full bill. More

Scource Blog Great Lakes Echo

Sep 25, 2009

1 in 3 homes could pose health risks

USA Today - One in three homes in U.S. metropolitan areas have at least one problem that could harm residents' health or safety,

"The sheer numbers of homes impacted are alarming," says Rebecca Morley, executive director of the National Center for Healthy Housing, a non-profit research group that used Census Bureau data for the study.

"It is a wake-up call," says Ron Sims, deputy secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. "The report validates what we've been saying at HUD, that we need to restore homes. … You can't be healthy if your house is sick." Read full from USA Today

GE ecoSmart... Stressing Wind Over Nuclear

"They don't seem very enthusiastic about nuclear insofar as I'm able to tell," - Lamar Alexander
- General Electric Co., the biggest maker of power-generation equipment, appears to be focused on renewable energy sources such as windmills rather than the nuclear power needed to combat global warming, Senator Lamar Alexander said.

"Have you seen all those GE ads for windmills?" Alexander said yesterday in a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington. "Now have you seen any GE ads in this day of concern about climate change that says that 70 percent of our carbon-free electricity comes from nuclear power? I haven't seen any."

Read full at BloomBerg

$3.4 billion funneled in stimulus dollars to carbon capture and storage (CCS).

The U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu's department has funneled $3.4 billion in stimulus dollars to research and develop the technology known as carbon capture and storage (CCS).

But to give you a sense of the challenge, here are his estimates of the
scale of the challenge: 6 billion metric tons of coal burned every year, producing 18 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide and requiring an underground storage volume of 30,000 cubic kilometers per year with untold consequences on subsurface pressure, mineral composition and the like...

Haszeldine and his colleagues therefore call for a quick infusion of massive funds on a global scale, something
Steven Chu appears to have at least started in the U.S. And the energy secretary hopes to see major results within a decade.

But is carbon capture and storage really necessary? After all, some studies have shown that major emitters like China or the U.S. could get all their energy from renewables, such as wind or solar.

Chu, for one, doesn't buy it. "It is highly unlikely that any of these countries will turn their back on coal any time soon, ... read full from

Note on source ...Keep in mind doesn't think 'peak oil' is a problem
HTML clipboard
Haase - While I already covered the "simple inarguable problems" with the (CCS) carbon capture and storage (link here) , crap like this will make anyone a nuclear energy advocate... it's just nuts.
EPA and "policy" experts not buying it? Better read more about it here: may be easy to read, but many find it hard to understand. Energy czars persuade the persuadable to continue a future built by destroying finite resources "the greenest energy is that which you needn't ever produce".

GE Working on 65% Efficient Natural Gas Power Generation Turbines

Michael Idelchik, GE Research it will be anywhere from 59 to 60 percent efficient to 65 percent efficient. We have other technology that will get us close [to HTML clipboardthat] but no other technology that can get so much at once.  It's very revolutionary technology.

The first application will definitely be land-based--it will be power generation at a natural-gas power plant.

Pulse detonation technology, or supersonic combustion. With this one, rather than burning fuel at constant pressure, you let the pressure rise, so basically you generate a shock wave; you're releasing heat in a detonation. An existing turbine burns at constant pressure. With detonation, pressure is rising, and the total energy available for the turbine increases. We see the potential of 30 percent fuel-efficiency improvement.

Read full at NextBigFuture

Googles FAIL Project 10^100- Ignores all hope and logic

WOW, google 10^100 project is either brilliantly evil or completely clueless... Apparently Google ignored 1000's of scientists, ideas, business plans and financial models for the following shallow, inept, predictable and overdone fluff.

  • Build better banking tools for everyone
  • Collect and organize the world's urban data
  • Work toward socially conscious tax policies
  • Encourage positive media depictions of engineers and scientists
  • Make government more transparent
  • Provide quality education to African students
  • Help social entrepreneurs drive change
  • Create real-time natural crisis tracking system
  • Drive innovation in public transport
  • Make educational content available online for free
  • Build real-time, user-reported news service
  • Enhance science and engineering education
  • Create real-world issue reporting system
  • Promote health monitoring and data analysis
  • Create genocide monitoring and alert system
All of these are being done or are not up to 'goolge' to decide... how is 'google' going to make a government more transparent or change taxes?

I may be naive here but all these sound like every other 'throw money at it' social cause to save the world dribble we have heard since the 60's.
Evil theory - The questions is did google get 10,000's of brilliant ideas and take mine for free? Plausible...
Clueless theory - I spent days preparing and submitted a plan that would save our country billion$ of resource$, job$ and nearly eliminate dependence on foreign oil and google ignored it? Plausible...

- Save our jobs, energy dependence, water, air, toxic chemicals and health...
I offered google every opportunity to change and influence these in the U.S. and the entire world and they gave me the boot with a list of predictable, overdone fluff.

I think google needs some transparency in the legitimacy of this program

NOTE: If someone from google would like to contact me regarding this I am ALWAYS glad to help and do not mean to criticize, but come guys are you kidding me? I have spent 100's of volunteer hours helping develop google programs over the years I believed to be open and a substantial benefit to the public. For what?

Ouch... read for yourself the futile Project 10^100 idea themes

EPA targets 11 Superfunds and has 10 to add

EPA Adds 11 Hazardous Waste Sites to Superfund's National Priorities List / EPA also proposes to add 10 additional sites (Link Source: DocUticker)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is adding 11 new hazardous waste sites that pose risks to human health and the environment to the National Priorities List of Superfund sites. Also, EPA is proposing to add 10 other sites to the list. Superfund is the federal program that investigates and cleans up the most complex, uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites in the country.

National Map of All Superfund Sites
National Map of All Superfund Sites

To date, there have been 1,607 sites listed on the NPL. Of these sites, 336 sites have been deleted resulting in 1,271 final sites currently on the NPL, including the 11 new final sites added in this rulemaking. With the proposal of the 10 new sites, there are 66 proposed sites awaiting final agency action: 61 in the general Superfund section and five in the federal facilities section.

There are a total of 1,337 final and proposed sites.

See full list and article at EPA

Sep 24, 2009

Capitol Hill Summit on Sustainable Communities, Environmental Justice and the New Economy

The Capitol Hill Summit will convene on October 15-16, 2009 seizing this moment to impact the new green economy.
-Achieving Sustainable Communities: Equity and Public Policy
-Enterprise and Employment for the 21st Century
-Wall Street, Credit, Green Jobs and Entrepreneurship
-Mayors Roundtable:  Localizing the Green Economy

-Community Revitalization, Building Local Capacity and Promoting Engagement
-Renewing the Built Environment:National Livability Strategy
-The Federal Inter-Agency Workgroup on Sustainability:  Linking US HUD, US DOT and US EPA 
-Environmental Roundtable: Eco-Leadership in the Green Economy
-Achieving Community Vitality:  Environmental Justice in the Green Economy
-Networking Reception

-Healthy Communities
-Equitable Development and the Color of Green
-Transportation, Smart Growth and the New Energy Future
-Climate Change:  Moving Towards a National Policy
-Climate Change, Public Health and Sustainability
-Achieving Climate Justice:  Protecting Vulnerable Communities
-Climate Change Roundtable


Health Care Trade for Cap and Trade?

The National Center for Public Policy Research contends the Waxman-Markey bill would increase energy prices, slow the economy and result in higher unemployment. This, in turn, the group says, would increase the number of uninsured.

The U.S. Senate can increase the number of Americans with health insurance by tens of millions — at zero cost to taxpayers — by rejecting cap-and-trade legislation passed by the U.S. House, according to a policy analysis just released by The National Center for Public Policy Research.  Read full at - The Best Health Reform May Be to Kill Cap-and-Trade

Link Source 

Cancer links, Hope and answers

Cancer - Just the mere mention of that six-letter word is enough to send a chill down the spine of even the most hardened individual....

...The disease plays no favorites. It afflicts the rich and famous and those in middle- and low-income circumstances; white collar to blue color; young and old; and black and white. Some cancer victims live with their disease for years — others only a year or a matter of months. ...While cancer causes can range from family history, to poor diet, to exposure to chemicals and smoking, Giguere said various societies experience various malignancies.

"Where we live and what we're exposed to, as well as what we eat, probably increases our risks,"

"We also grow our food and cows have a lot of red meat. There is a challenge in recognizing how we raise our cattle and grow our food. In India, the rate of cancer isn't as high, because they don't put as much bad food in their bodies."

HTML clAccording to DHEC's South Carolina Registry, state residents are apparently listening. Deaths due to cancer decreased by 18.2 percent from 1996 through 2005 for all races and genders combined.
The total incidence for all cancers decreased by 3.2 percent over the 10-year period.

Cancer links
We suspect that air pollution is related to lung cancer, though not as powerful as cigarettes or tobacco. A lot more research is needed on the environmental aspect."

Gibson said his office constantly receives calls from communities that run a higher risk of cancer due to manufacturing and chemical plants.

"We have a team that goes out wherever there is an unusual amount of cancer reported," he said. "They calculate the rate of a particular cancer, based on what we know of the population. Sometimes, when you dig in and get the facts better, it's usually hard to find a cause. There are environmental causes, such as arsenic, which is found in well water in some countries, and benzene, which can cause leukemia, but an awful lot more needs to be known about it."

Please read more from - 'Cancer: The killer has been targeted' - And check back on their site for part two

California adopts new limits for in consumer products

Country's most stringent controls will reduce ozone and prevent emissions of airborne toxins

DIAMOND BAR, CALIF. : Today the Air Resources Board adopted a regulation for air fresheners, paint thinners and multi-purpose solvents that will eliminate more than 14 tons-per-day of volatile organic compounds when fully implemented in 2014, and prohibits the use of several toxic air contaminants.

According to California's clean air laws, chemically created products used by homeowners and institutions are consumer products and subject to air pollution regulatory control. These emit nearly 255 tons-per-day of VOCs statewide. The sub-categories of products addressed by today's action emit 22 tons-per-day of the smog forming compounds.

"Consumer products are not widely recognized as a source of air pollution," said ARB Executive Officer James Goldstene. "But the millions of times a day these are sprayed, poured and painted generate a large cloud of fumes that can create ozone and contribute to California's smog problem."

The new regulation, which will result in one of the state's largest reductions of VOCs from consumer products,

Read full at CARB

US Labor Department awards more than US$6.8m in safety and health training grants

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has awarded more than $6.8 million in Susan Harwood Training Grants to 30 recipients, encompassing labor unions, employer associations, colleges and universities, and other nonprofit organizations.
 'Safe jobs are our priority,' said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. 

Providing workers and employers the knowledge and tools they need to ensure safe working conditions is the best way to prevent workers from getting injured or killed on the job.'

See complete list of the 2009 Susan Harwood Training Grants recipients is posted at OSHA

 Link Source

Cutting carbon emissions leads to wasting energy

ECONOMISTS can and do get it wrong. The lead-up to the sub-prime mortgage crisis being an obvious case in point. While some economists and regulators were convinced all was well, many people were alarmed at a system that enabled people to buy expensive houses with loans that were beyond their means of repaying. It just didn't pass the common sense test. But have we learned our lesson about relying on complex economics that nobody really understands? In the context of climate change legislation, it would appear not.

Consider the following. If the government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is introduced, it will actually be cheaper for the coal industry to burn the natural gas that is produced by coal mines than to use that same gas to generate electricity.

The problem is that it costs a bit more to turn gas into electricity than it does to simply set fire to it. While the electricity that is generated can be sold into the grid, without some form of government assistance it can't compete with the very low price of power generated from burning coal. Australian firms are at the cutting edge of this industry, with their technology and skills in demand throughout Asia where this gas exists in abundance and is being converted to fuel for communities in dire need of energy. Already they are employing hundreds of people turning natural gas, that would otherwise be wasted, into electricity.

It's an efficient use of a natural resource and it means that less coal needs to be burned elsewhere. Most important of all, however, is the fact that it is the existing policy framework, not the CPRS, that makes the expansion of this industry viable. Australia needs a comprehensive national approach to tackling climate change, but that does not mean we need the CPRS as it is proposed.

It is the government's fault that the proposal is so flawed and it is the government's job to fix it.
Read full from the Austalian
No not that Austalian ;-)