Nov 28, 2009

Rockstar or artist


Nuclear plants did not replace coal and gas plants, they joined them.

From How (not) to resolve the energy crisis]

Piling up energy sources... what is happening is not a new phenomenon either. What we are doing for more than 100 years now, is piling up energy sources. Today (in the Netherlands, Spain, the US and worldwide) the absolute amount of coal consumed for electricity production is much larger than one century ago, when there was no talk of gas, oil and nuclear. The dirty coal of the beginning of the industrial revolution was not replaced by cleaner gas plants. The gas plants joined the coal plants.

US consumption by source 1845 2001 Next, nuclear plants did not replace the existing coal and gas plants, they joined them. Today, with renewable energy, the same thing is happening. They address an energy demand that did not exist before. We use renewable energy sources to power an ever growing plethora of energy-sucking gadgets - and this will not get us anywhere.

Up until now, newer and cleaner energy sources have always been used to enlarge energy production, not to make it "greener" (see for instance the image on the left, depicting US energy consumption from 1845 to 2001, source).

The so-called greening of our electricity production, which generates so much talk, is still 100 percent wishful thinking. We are not one step further than 5, 10, 20 or even 100 years ago. On the contrary, things get worse every day.

Relative versus absolute figures

Much more important than what we do, is what we don't do. The key to progress is scaling down non-renewable energy production, or at least keeping it at the same level. Instead of aiming for the development of more renewable energy, policymakers should do anything in their power to make sure that not one more kilowatt of non-renewable energy is added. 

United States

For instance, imagine that the US indeed realises the very ambitious goal of generating 25 percent of their electricity consumption by renewables, and let's assume it takes them 5 years longer as planned. According to the projections of the IEA, US electricity demand will grow by 26 percent (16 to 36 percent) from 2007 to 2030. This means that the 3,800,000 GWh of today will be 4,788,000 GWh by 2030. When everything goes to plan, about 1,244,880 GWh of that will then be renewable (that is 3 times the worldwide renewable electricity capacity today).

But, this is scarcely more than the 988,000 GWh of electricity demand that will be added during that period. So even if this ambitious goal would be realised, the US would still be as dependent on fossil fuels as it is today. Limiting electricity demand to current levels and not building any renewable electricity generating capacity would yield the same result. Limiting electricity demand to current levels and greening 25 percent of the existing electricity production would bring real progress.


Worldwide energy consumption der spiegel The rise of renewable energy is of secondary importance. What matters is that the absolute amount of burned up fossil fuels lowers. Only then would we become less dependent on non-renewable energy sources and on foreign energy suppliers, and only then would we lower CO2-emissions.

On a global scale, the futility of the present approach is even more obvious. The total amount of renewable electricity worldwide (excluding hydro*) rose from 31,000 GWh in 1980 to 414,000 GWh in 2006 - a rise of 1,300 percent or an absolute increase of 383,000 gigawatt-hours.

Yet, the amount of electricity generated by coal and gas doubled in that same period, which comes down to an absolute increase of 6,355,900 GWh. So, we added around 20 times more non-renewable sources than renewable sources. Total global electricity production rose from 8,027,000 Gwh to 18,008,000 Gwh, a rise of 250 percent. If we look at total energy production instead of just electricity production, the preponderance of fossil fuels is even larger (see the image above, courtesy of Der Spiegel).

Much more important than what we do, is what we don't do.

Right now we try to match our energy production to an ever increasing demand. But, we could also try to match our demand to a fixed supply. Considering the circumstances, this would be a much more realistic and intelligent strategy. An even better strategy is the "oil depletion protocol", an idea of author Richard Heinberg. He proposes an international agreement to lower oil production and consumption each year with 2.6 percent. We can wait until the geological, economical or geopolitical reality lowers the availability of fossil fuels, but if we anticipate that reality now then we definitely have more of a chance to make a successful transition to a durable, less energy-intensive society.

Not China's fault - Last, but not least, the IEA notes that the rise of energy use is largely on account of non-western countries, with China ahead. But, this does not clear us at all. As the IEA calculated in a former report, almost 30 percent of energy use in China comes from the production of export goods - from bicycles over jeans to solar panels.

 Western countries succeed in limiting the rise of their energy consumption because they have outsourced ever more energy use. Moreover, the IEA states in its last report, non-OECD countries are, in spite of their high share in current energy use, only responsible for 42 percent of the CO2-emissions since 1890 - with a much bigger population. This means that - in a fair world - we would have to reduce our energy use much more than them.

Pleas read full from the energy bulletin

California Air Resources Board (CARB) releases draft cap-and-trade program

NY Times - California, Issues Draft "Cap and Trade" Rules  that set a declining ceiling on emissions of greenhouse gases and allows companies to buy and sell permits to meet it.  California, with the world's 8th largest economy, has a goal of reducing greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020. Its draft trading system would begin in 2012 and would apply to 600 major sources of global warming gases, including power plants, refineries and concrete factories. The California proposal also includes reductions in emissions from industrial and transportation fuels beginning in 2015. CARB has scheduled months of hearings and public comment on the rule before it is to be finalized next October.

Via David Schaller who included this great quote this month:
"If we don't fight hard enough for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we don't really stand for them."
Paul Wellstone

Nov 25, 2009

"There is still no alternative to oil"

Please read full at Energy Bulletin from Roger Blanchard

George Will had quite a few figures in his commentary "There is still no alternative to oil" that suggested there are no supply problems concerning oil...

Why isn't non-OPEC production increasing as the price of oil increases??? Due to the large number of declining oil fields throughout the world, it presently takes about 4 mb/d of new production each year just to maintain global production at a steady rate.

Mr. Will talks glowingly about deep-water fields without appreciating the technical and economic difficulties of extracting the oil. As an example, much has been made in the U.S. media about 2 relatively recent discoveries in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico (US): Jack and Tiber. Both fields are at roughly 30,000 ft in depth. Because of economic and technical difficulties, the fields are not projected to start producing oil before 2020 if they are developed at all. By then, all of the presently producing deep-water GOM fields will be in deep decline. Only the larger deep-water fields are likely to ever be developed.

Mr. Will also talks glowingly about how much oil is in the Athabasca Tar Sands region of Canada. He doesn't appear to appreciate the difference between volume of oil, the possible maximum rate of production and how quickly the rate can be increased.

Finally, it's unfortunate that Mr. Will places so much importance on "proven" oil reserves inasmuch as the figures are essentially worthless. There is no independent organization that audits the "proven" reserves of individual countries to give credence to the figures. It's well known that many countries highly inflate and don't update the figures they provide.

More news from Energy Bulletin

Nov 24, 2009

Windfinder... ah, easy breezy wind data

Prince Edward Point Mentor-on-the-Lake Huron Ridge/Kincardine Manistee Green Bay Entrance Light Welcome Island/Thunder Bay Slate Island Torch Lake/Eastport Monroe Light Goderich/Lake Huron Caribou Island Wawa/Ontario North Bay/Nipissing Gore Bay/Manitoulin Isle Waukegan Harbor Kenosha Burns Harbor Lake St Clair Big Sable Point Gravelly Shoals Light Dunkirk/Lake Erie Cat Head/Grand Traverse Light Windsor Beach/Rochester Stannard Rock/Lake Superior Geneva on the Lake Northwest of Cleveland Buoy North Lake Huron Buoy Fairport Port Washington Northport Pier/Deaths Door Central Lake Huron Buoy Saginaw Bay Light Naubinway Saxon Harbor Traverse Bay/Lake Superior Portage Canal Ontonagon Silver Bay/Superior Port Wing/Superior South Bass Island Niagara Coast Guard Station Tawas Point Sault Ste Marie Aero Lagoon City Parry Sound Blackwell/Sarnia Killarney Thunder Bay Airport Saugatuck/Holland Oshkosh/Lake Winnebago Kingston Airport/Ontario Wiarton/Bruce Peninsula Windsor Trenton/Ontario Port Colborne Burlington Piers Cobourg Sunset Beach/Collingwood Burke Lakefront/Cleveland Cass Lake/Pontiac Watertown Airport Sandbanks/Point Petre Linden Beach/Harrow Rondeau Bay/Erieau Traverse City Port Weller Barrie/Lake Simcoe Copper Harbor/Keweenaw Fond du Lac/Winnebago Lake Mendota/Madison Munising Erie Lorain Ithaca/Lake Cayuga Pointe aux Barques Light Racine Rochester Airport Rogers City/Presque Ile Saginaw Airport Esch Road Beach/EMPIRE Petobego/Elk Rapids Chicago Buoy Muskegon Sheboygan Milwaukee Calumet Michigan City South Haven Maumee Bay/Toledo Marblehead Duluth Ludington Fort Gratiot/Port Huron Buffalo Kewaunee Menominee Lighthouse Oswego South Georgian Bay/Lake Huron Southern Lake Huron Buoy Grand Marais Point Iroquois Harbor Beach/Huron Conneaut Lighthouse Alpena North Georgian Bay Buoy Yacht Works Sister Bay Marquette Port Inland Lake St Clair Huron Light/Lake Erie Long Point/Lake Erie Cove Island/Lake Huron Green Bay Airport Manitowoc Airport Sturgeon Bay Escanaba Frankfort/Betsie Lake Chicago Midway St Joseph/Benton Harbor Toronto Island Harbor Springs/Crooked Lake Grosse Ile Airport Oscoda Charlevoix Mackinac Island Houghton Lake Selfridge Air NGB Grand Haven/Michigan L'Anse/Keweenaw Bay Canandaigua Whitby/Frenchman's Bay Stony Point Baie du Dore Avon Lake Batchawana Bay Seneca Falls Grimsby Wasaga Beach From Windfinder Great lakes
Wind USA Great Lakes (Canada Ontario, USA Illinois, USA Indiana, USA Michigan, USA Minnesota, USA Ohio, USA Pennsylvania, USA Wisconsin)

When scientists warn... and let slide 15 years?

From the Statement of Union of Concerned Scientists (emphasis added):
    Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course. Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources. If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about …

    No more than one or a few decades remain before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost and the prospects for humanity immeasurably diminished …

    Much of this damage is irreversible on a scale of centuries or permanent. Other processes appear to pose additional threats. Increasing levels of gases in the atmosphere from human activities, including carbon dioxide released from fossil fuel burning and from deforestation, may alter climate on a global scale. Predictions of global warming are still uncertain—with projected effects ranging from tolerable to very severe—but the potential risks are very great.
    Uncertainty over the extent of these effects cannot excuse complacency or delay in facing the threats.

    The earth is finite. Its ability to absorb wastes and destructive effluent is finite. Its ability to provide food and energy is finite. Its ability to provide for growing numbers of people is finite. And we are fast approaching many of the earth's limits. Current economic practices which damage the environment, in both developed and underdeveloped nations, cannot be continued without the risk that vital global systems will be damaged beyond repair…

Did your eyes glaze over yet? Are you wondering where the "news" is in this post, or why I'm bringing it to your attention?

After all, these are all things we've heard countless times.

The point is that there is no "news" top be found here, no revelation of yet another way in which our assumptions were too optimistic and science has recently shown us reality's indifferent truth. In fact, this statement from the Union of Concerned Scientists dates to September 1994 (although some sources I found online say it goes as far back as November 18, 1992).

12 Fuel Options that could Change the World in 10 Years or Less?

According to a new report out this week from technology and consultancy giant Accenture, one or more — but almost certainly not all — of a dozen low-carbon transportation fuels now under development could transform that market (which accounts for about half of global primary oil consumption and up to 30 percent of global carbon emissions) within a decade.

What will make a fuel technology disruptive? According to Accenture, it will have to: reduce hydrocarbon fuel demand by more than 20 percent (in other words, scale up) by 2030 and result in at least 30 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissio

ns compared to the conventional fossil fuel it's replacing. It will also have to be within reach from a business standpoint, meaning it will be commercially available within five years and be competitive with oil priced at $45-90 per barrel.

These 12 technologies are "in play," although government policies will have a significant effect on which ones emerge as winners in coming years.

  • Next-generation internal combustion engine
  • Next-generation agriculture
  • Waste-to-fuel
  • Marine scrubbers
  • Synthetic biology (sugar-cane-to-diesel)
  • Butanol
  • Bio-crude
  • Algae
  • Airline drop-ins
  • PHEV/EV/electrification engines
  • Charging
  • Vehicle-to-grid (V2G)
The shift that Accenture expects to arrive as a result of these technologies is not just from one fuel to another, but also from a market that relies primarily on fuels derived from hydrocarbons to one with more variation from country to country.

Please read more from earth2tech

Final Greenhouse Gas Mandatory Reporting Rule released

Monitoring to begin in 2010 - The final rule was signed by the Administrator on September 22, 2009. On October 30, 2009, the  final rule was published in the Federal Register .  The rule will be effective December 29, 2009.  This action includes final reporting requirements for 31 of the 42 emission sources listed in the proposal. At this time, EPA is not finalizing the remaining source categories as we further consider comments and options.

In response to the FY2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 2764; Public Law 110–161), EPA has issued the Final Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases Rule. The rule requires reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from large sources and suppliers in the United States, and is intended to collect accurate and timely emissions data to inform future policy decisions.

Under the rule, suppliers of fossil fuels or industrial greenhouse gases, manufacturers of vehicles and engines, and facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons or more per year of GHG emissions are required to submit annual reports to EPA. The gases covered by the proposed rule are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), perfluorocarbons (PFC), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), and other fluorinated gases including nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) and hydrofluorinated ethers (HFE).

EPA's new reporting system will provide a better understanding of where GHGs are coming from and will guide development of the best possible policies and programs to reduce emissions.


CBO Brief - The Costs of Reducing Greenhouse-Gas Emissions

Many of us in the environmental and energy field see his new CBO brief as a early Christmas Gift so please read this full document here (PDF)

Sooo many blatant problems summarized in this brief "it looks like a drug company ad in a magazine with five pages of warnings on why your probably worse on the drug than without it." - Happy Holidays!

What are the Impacts of H.R. 2454 on Allowance Prices, Percentage Change in Real Gross Domestic Product, Macroeconomics, Employment, or The Distribution of Costs?

The CBO Brief includes a series of issue summaries from the Congressional Budget Office surrounding The Costs of Reducing Greenhouse-Gas Emissions. The brief also illustrates the uncertainty surrounding such estimates using studies of a recent legislative proposal, H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.

From CBO brief
... researchers generally conclude that a continued increase in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases would have serious and costly effects.
Emissions in the Absence of Policy Changes
In 2006, the United States emitted roughly 7 billion metric tons (MT) of greenhouse gases.... Eighty percent of domestic emissions consisted of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels in activities such as manufacturing, electricity generation, transportation, agriculture, and the heating and cooling of buildings. The remaining 20 per-cent—consisting of CO2 emitted from sources other than fossil fuels... Under current land-use patterns in the United States, forests and soils absorb nearly 900 million MT CO2 every year, putting net U.S. emissions in 2006 at about 6 billion MT CO2e. U.S. emissions of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels accounted for one-fifth of global CO2 emissions from such activities.

However, net U.S. emissions of all greenhouse gases accounted for only about 12 percent of net global emissions... Experts generally expect that, in the absence of policy changes to reduce them, domestic greenhouse-gas emissions will grow substantially in the next few decades, totaling roughly 330 billion MT CO2e between now and 2050. However, long-term trends in emissions are notoriously difficult to project because they will be influenced by population and income growth, by advances in technology, and by the availability and price of fossil fuels; total emissions, therefore, could be substantially higher or lower than that central estimate...
NOTE TO READER - It is important to note that the CBO estimates incorporate somewhat dangerous and varying assumptions about economic growth, policy implementation, households' and firms' responses, the development and cost of various types of technology over time, and the availability of offsets. The EIA recently ran in to major issues trying to appease... many of these numbers are banking on a nearly full recovery of jobs and economics to pre-2007 standards and appears as dangerous as EIA peak oil predictions.

Nov 23, 2009

Hey, it's like Christmas for energy geeks....

The International Energy Agency (IEA) released its annual World Energy Outlook (WEO) this week — a report I always anticipate eagerly. Hey, it's like Christmas for energy geeks.
The IEA found coal in its stocking though, after a report the previous evening in the UK's Guardian newspaper cited unnamed whistleblowers alleging the agency had been distorting its true view on peak oil in order to prevent public panic. The quotes were unquestionably damning:

We have [already] entered the 'peak oil' zone. I think that the situation is really bad. . . . . . imperative not to anger the Americans. . . Peak oil analysts nodded their heads in agreement. It was hardly a revelation.

John Hemming, the MP for Britain's all-party parliamentary group on peak oil and gas (yes, they actually have one — jealous?) was gruff: "Reliance on IEA reports has been used to justify claims that oil and gas supplies will not peak before 2030. It is clear now that this will not be the case and the IEA figures cannot be relied on."

Climate change is merely a stalking horse for the IEA. Whether we focus on energy or on climate, the ends are largely the same. And the IEA has astutely recognized that there's a whole lot more public momentum and investment money to be focused on climate change than there is on dour old peak oil.
Regarding the IEA's Reference Scenario, my view remains basically unchanged from what I said this time last year: "Here's my prediction: their 2010 report will state that the new peak is only 95 mbpd, at a cost of over $30 trillion. And by 2012, they'll admit that the peak was in fact in June of this year, at 87 mbpd. By 2030, fully 20 years past the peak, world oil production will likely be under 70 mbpd."
The IEA doesn't believe either one of its scenarios any more than they believe humans roamed the earth with dinosaurs. Some stories are meant to be read as parables. The internal message of the 2009 WEO is clear: The world is facing an energy crisis of epic proportions. The path we're on is precarious and unsustainable. (The word "sustainable" occurs 18 times in the report, which I'm sure is a record, and Birol repeatedly emphasized the phrase "energy revolution" in his comments.) Read more by Chris Nelder "Is the IEA World Energy Outlook Politically Distorted?"

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Request for Proposals $475 million funding

VIA - GreatLakesNews
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson today announced the release of a request for proposals (RFP) under President Obama's historic Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The RFP released today invites partner Agencies, stakeholders, non-governmental organizations, and other eligible organizations working on Great Lakes restoration to present EPA with ideas and projects to protect and restore this national treasure. EPA, through the Great Lakes National Program Office is seeking applications from a diverse group of participants and partnerships to support the goals of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The RFP is available online
"We're asking for innovative, far reaching, community-based ideas to drive the most aggressive Great Lakes protection effort in decades," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. 

President Barack Obama has made restoring the Great Lakes a national priority. In February 2009, he proposed $475 million for a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, an unprecedented investment in the nation's largest fresh surface water ecosystem. Congress approved that funding level and President Obama signed it into law in October. The majority of EPA's grant funding is included in the RFP announced today.  Funding through other agencies will be announced separately.

This RFP represents EPA's major competitive grant funding opportunity under the Initiative and is one of several funding opportunities described in the Initiative's Interagency Funding Guide.  A portion of the funding will be through the U.S. Fish and wildlife Service. This RFP, in conjunction with other funding opportunities under the Initiative, will be used to competitively provide funding to address the most significant Great Lakes ecosystem problems and efforts in five major focus areas:
  • Toxic Substances and Areas of Concern
  • Invasive Species
  • Nearshore Health and Nonpoint Source Pollution
  • Habitat and Wildlife Protection and Restoration
  • Accountability, Education, Monitoring, Evaluation, Communication and Partnerships

Due Date for Submissions:  Proposals must be received by EPA by noon Central standard time on January 29, 2010.
Submission Information: Applicants should submit proposals online
We encourage applicants to register with us < > to keep informed about our funding process. Public webinars will provide clarifying information.

Download the Request For Proposals (RFP) PDF

China Could Adopt Low Carbon Energy Plan

From NBF

A report presented to the Annual General Meeting of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), chaired by Li Keqiang, vice premier, in Beijing yesterday and to Premier Wen Jiabao concludes that China has much to gain from taking an early start in the development of a low-carbon economy and should seriously consider carbon intensity targets in its next 5-year plan.
The proposals of the Low Carbon Economy taskforce are partly based on a set of energy scenarios produced by the Chinese Energy Research Institute. Drawing on five pillars (energy, urbanization, industrial restructuring, innovation and land-use change), the report outlines specific recommendations to put China on a path that will reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by 75-85% by 2050. If implemented in the short term, that is within the 12th 5-year plan, carbon emissions per unit of gross domestic product could drop by 20-23% or possibly more.

The proposals are partly based on a set of energy demand scenarios produced by the Chinese Energy Research Institute. One adopts a continuation of current trends that will result in the production of nearly 13bn tonnes of CO2 per year by 2050. A second, produced as a "low-carbon scenario", reduces emissions to nearly 9bn tonnes. A third, more radical "enhanced low-carbon" scenario would produce peak emissions around 2025, reducing to 5bn tonnes by 2050.

In each scenario China would continue its economic growth. However, the Chinese believe significant reductions can be achieved by decoupling growth from greenhouse gas emissions, as Sweden has done.

By 2050, 64 per cent of China's economy is expected to be in services and 3 per cent in primary industries such as mining, compared with 40 per cent and 12 per cent today.Please read full at Next Big Future

EPA Sends Ship Emission Rules to White House

Via Karessa Weir Great Lakes Echo

(NY) New York Times – U.S. EPA moved closer yesterday to finalizing new engine and fuel standards for the largest ocean-bound ships by sending the draft rules to the White House for review.

If finalized, EPA says the draft rule would drastically cut air pollution nationwide by requiring vessels with large diesel engines to curb their nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions. EPA is also proposing to forbid the U.S. production and sale of high-sulfur marine fuel. More at NY Times

Deadline for Tree City USA application - Dec. 31

WDNR -  Tree City USA is a recognition program started in 1972 by the national Arbor Day Foundation. Working in partnership with the National Association of State Foresters and state forestry agencies, the Tree City USA program honors communities that have made a commitment to nurturing, caring for, and celebrating the trees that make up a their urban forest.
Download Our Benefits Flyer (PDF, 12.8 MB)

There were 174 towns, villages, and cities throughout Wisconsin that earned Tree City USA award recognition in 2009. 

"Many Wisconsin municipalities already meet the criteria for being Tree City USA communities," said Jeff Roe, DNR urban forestry coordinator.

In Wisconsin, interested communities submit new and renewal applications to the Department of Natural Resources Urban Forestry Program.

"The Tree City USA program and the companion Tree Line and Tree Campus programs are great ways for generating support and recognition for your community and its tree resources," Roe said. "Becoming a Tree City community indicates a commitment by the municipality to its citizens to enhance the beauty, civic pride and livability of their community."

"We find the Tree City USA Program is a source of local pride and encourages better care of community forests, a resource that touches the lives of everyone in a municipality," Roe said.

Request a Tree City USA application.

Wisconsin municipalities have until December 31 to submit applications to become Tree City USA communities.

Tree City USA application materials are available on the DNR Web site. Any community interested in becoming a Tree City USA can contact the regional urban forestry coordinator who serves their community for information on the program, as well as help in improving their local forest resources. Municipalities can find the name of the regional urban forestry coordinator serving their community on the DNR Web site.

Nov 22, 2009

Poll Finds Americans Very Concerned About Exposure to Toxic Chemicals

A poll conducted in August by Lake Research Partners found Americans very concerned with how chemicals are regulated for consumer use in the U.S. The findings come as overhaul of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)…
"Voters across almost all demographic and political groups said that regulations on chemicals were not strong enough," said pollster Celinda Lake. "People definitely are not confident about how chemicals are currently regulated, but they're ready to give the EPA authority to protect consumers."
"The public is aware of a growing body of science linking common chemicals to chronic diseases and they're waking up to the fact that the existing law isn't working," says Andy Igrejas, director of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition. "Americans are doing their best to shop smart, but we can't protect our families without help, and without strong reforms to put common sense limits on toxic chemicals."
Please visit  PR Newswire for more information.

Nov 20, 2009

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts."

Quoted from America is in a true crisis
Warning - think about reading it after the weekend... this is a depressing Friday read.

When George W. Bush took office, the U.S. had a budget surplus, were involved in no wars...
Today, the country has budget deficits approaching $2 trillion, is still involved in two wars of choice that have cost $900 billion to wage, and the national debt stands at $11.9 trillion.

In the last nine years, the politicians running the United States have managed to increase our national debt by $6.2 trillion, when it took 211 years to accumulate $5.7 trillion of debt.

The combination of easy money from the Fed, complete lack of enforcement of existing rules and regulations on the financial industry, reckless and fraudulent lending by the financial industry, waging of two wars of choice in the Middle East, the president urging citizens to borrow, spend and buy houses, multiple tax rebates, the addition of trillions in unfunded Medicare liabilities, trillion-dollar bank bailouts, trillion-dollar stimulus programs, national health care, and complete lack of energy strategy have created a perfect storm that has only just begun.

The country grows more pessimistic by the day as intractable problems that have been ignored or shunned for decades now must be addressed.

Read more from America is in a true crisis

Led by China, CO2 gases rise despite economy

WASHINGTON  - Pollution typically declines during a recession. Not this time.

Despite a global economic slump, worldwide carbon dioxide pollution rose 2 percent last year, most of the increase coming from China, according to a study published online Tuesday.

"The growth in emissions since 2000 is almost entirely driven by the growth in China," said study lead author Corinne Le Quere of the University of East Anglia. "It's China and India and all the developing countries together." Read full via MSNBC

CARB offers Car buyers a new tool for looking for low polluting vehicles

A new by The California Air Resources Board Website ranks cars by smog and greenhouse gas emissions
logo.jpg helps consumers choose the least polluting cars on the market.

The new website, using information collected for vehicle certification in California, offers a practical system that ranks vehicles according to their emission characteristics and provides tools to compare models.

"Until now, decisions about car buying were based solely on what functions the car needed to serve," said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. ""This new website will take the guesswork out of buying the cleanest car and help consumers find rebates, tax breaks and other incentives."

Nov 19, 2009

Wisconsin employers pretty conscientious of injury logs for Fed-OSHA

Wisconsin OSHA agents are targeting company injury records under the federal OSHA record-keeping program, said Kim Stille, area director for the Madison OSHA office. Area offices in Wisconsin received a list of companies with injury rates much lower than the industry average, and inspectors now are checking those companies' 2008 records for accuracy, she said.

"Wisconsin has always fared really well in respect to those regulations," - Haag

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is refining its inspection focus in response to evidence that companies deliberately underreport injuries.

But as fears of inaccurate data boil over at the federal level with a U.S. Government Accountability Office report released Monday, regulators in Wisconsin say companies, if anything, have historically reported too many injuries.

"I don't think it's going to affect us too much because I think that Wisconsin employers generally try to be pretty conscientious," said Dona Haag, program and policy analyst for the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene who reviews company injury logs for OSHA and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

However, Stille said, Wisconsin companies have a reputation for reporting too many injuries by logging those that are not required.
...Wisconsin's history in keeping strong OSHA records traces back to a former program called the Wisconsin 200, said Jeff Clark, attorney with Reinhart, Boerner Van Deuren SC, Milwaukee.

The Wisconsin 200 program ended in 1997, Stille said. She said even if the new focus on records does not turn up violations, it can focus company executives on the value of records pointing out where there could be safety problems.

"That's how they should be used," she said, "as a trending or tracking mechanism."

Go to the full story in Daily Reporter VIA Cal-OSHA reporter

Great Lakes are the "Making of America" our history

National Geographic A map comprised of Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario, the Great Lakes are the largest group of freshwater lakes on earth.

Published in July 1987 as part of the "Making of America" series, this map of the Great Lakes contains a vast amount of historical information about the region, as well as tourist attractions. It is half of a two-map set.

Wisconsin is first state with lead-based paint renovation, repair and painting program

Source: U.S. EPA, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has announced that two of Wisconsin's lead-based paint programs have been federally authorized. They are the Lead-based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting program, and the Pre-Renovation Education program.

Enter the 2009 President's Environmental Youth Awards Competition

EPA - Entries are now being sought for the 2009 President's Environmental Youth Awards, which recognize individuals, school classes (kindergarten through high school) and youth organizations for protecting our nation's air, water and land.

The program has two components: The regional certificate program and the regional award winner. Regional certificates are awarded by each of the regional offices of the EPA. Each regional office also selects one first-place project as its regional award winner, and the sponsor and winner of that award travel to Washington, D.C., to receive their award.

Projects must be postmarked by Thursday, December 31, 2009. Program guidelines, eligibility information and applications are available online at

glut of mercury raises fears: Cleaner chlorine plants may indirectly be creating an excess of toxic metal

Washington Post- Over the past decade, environmental groups have pressured U.S. chlorine plants to stop spewing mercury, the toxic heavy metal that settles in water and makes its way into the food chain by contaminating fish and shellfish. In the past four years, five such plants converted to mercury-free technology, cutting the industry's mercury emissions by 88 percent, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

But this success has created a new environmental problem. Hundreds of tons of mercury acquired for use by the plants may be on the global market, where it could ultimately be used in small-scale unregulated "artisanal" gold mining. Such activity might create environmental and health hazards in developing countries.

Link via GLPPR

The nuclear option: too slow, too costly...

VIA the BigGav Crikey's Bernard Keane has given up covering the CPRS but he does still have the energy to consider the nuclear power industry's long, painful attempt to maintain some relevance by claiming it is a solution to climate change - The nuclear option: too slow, too costly. ...hope springs eternal in Liberal hearts. In Tuesday's joint partyroom meeting, Julie Bishop pointed out that "19 out of 20" G20 countries are pursuing nuclear power.
Today, let's consider whether the rest of the world is going nuclear in the way that proponents suggest.

First, some bald numbers taken from the German Government-commissioned World Nuclear Industry Status Report from August this year.

There are currently 435 reactors operating worldwide, nine less than in 2002. There are 52 reactors listed as "under construction" (more on that later), down from a peak in 1979 of 233 and 120 in 1987. No new plants were connected anywhere in 2008. The last plant to come online was the Romanian plant Cernavoda-2, which took 24 years to build. Reactors now provide slightly less power worldwide than they did two years ago.

By way of context, the 2 GW of nuclear power connected in 2006-07 was equal to one tenth of the wind power installed globally in 2007. More than double the amount of wind power was installed in the U.S. alone in 2007.

Clearly the nuclear industry is yet to begin recovering from the slump in reactor building worldwide after its peak in the mid-1980s.

That poses two problems for any "nuclear renaissance" and its capacity to provide a legitimate, timely response to climate change...

It's not radioactivity or scare campaigns that are the nuclear industry's biggest problem, it's the maths. The numbers show that for decades to come, it will offer less and less of a solution to climate change, and it simply takes too long and costs too much to develop
More from the BigGav on energy

Also from TOD: The Coming Nuclear Crisis
Perhaps the most worrying problem is the misconception that uranium is plentiful. The world's nuclear plants today eat through some 65,000 tons of uranium each year. Of this, the mining industry supplies about 40,000 tons. The rest comes from secondary sources such as civilian and military stockpiles, reprocessed fuel and re-enriched uranium. "But without access to the military stocks, the civilian western uranium stocks will be exhausted by 2013, concludes Dittmar.

It's not clear how the shortfall can be made up since nobody seems to know where the mining industry can look for more.