Posted on October 25, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
New database to help assess impacts of planned dams
FRISCO — An emergent global hydropower boom will help meet the demand for low-carbon energy, but also poses environmental risks, according to experts compiling a new data base on global hydropower.
The boom is expected to double production of hydropower, but could also reduce the number of our last remaining large free-flowing rivers by about 20 percent and pose a serious threat to freshwater biodiversity.
A new database has been developed to support decision making on sustainable modes of electricity production. An unprecedented number of dams for electricity production is currently under construction or planned worldwide, mainly in developing countries and emerging economies in South America, Southeast Asia and Africa, that also hold some of the world’s most important sites for freshwater biodiversity. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, renewable energy | Tagged: biodiversity, Environment, Hydropower, renewable energy | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 25, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Feds finalizing oil and gas development plan for 100,000 acres of public land
FRISCO — If it sometimes feels like fracking is closing in wherever you look, it’s because it is. One of the latest arenas for fossil fuel exploitation is on the Pawnee National Grasslands, in northeastern Colorado, described by the U.S. Forest Service as the country’s last remaining shortgrass prairie. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, energy, Environment, fracking, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: Colorado, fracking, oil and gas drilling, Pawnee National Grasslands, public lands, split estate, U.S. Forest Service | 2 Comments »
Posted on October 22, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Signs of oil and gas development are visible on a landscape level from 35,000 feet in the air.
Stable tracers can help pinpoint ground and surface water contamination
FRISCO — There’s more and more evidence that fracking wastewater can — and sometimes does — pollute ground and surface water, but it’s not always easy to trace the pollution, especially since drillers often keep secret their fracking fluid recipes.
But after field tests at a spill site in West Virginia and downstream from an oil and gas brine wastewater treatment plant in Pennsylvania, scientists say they can reliably identify hydraulic fracturing flowback fluids that have been spilled or released into the environment by using stable boron and lithium tracers that distinctive chemical fingerprints. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, fracking, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: Environment, fracking, groundwater pollution, water quality | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 21, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
EPA challenged on decision to designate polluted region as unclassifiable
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Environmental advocates and the EPA are facing off in a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. today over air quality in Utah’s remote Uinta Basin, where ozone levels often exceed standards set to protect human health.
In a weird twist to the case, the fossil fuel industry is claiming that its own air pollution data is of poor quality and unreliable, and shouldn’t be used by the EPA to designate the Uinta Basin as a nonattainment area, despite the fact that the area regularly sees some of the highest ozone pollution levels in the country.
At issue in the oral arguments is the EPA’s refusal to designate the Uinta Basin as a nonattainment area despite monitoring showing serious air quality degradation in northeastern Utah. The EPA’s decision to designate the area as unclassifiable is a clear violation of the Clean Air Act, according to WildEarth Guardians, one of the groups involved in the case. Continue reading
Filed under: air quality, energy, Environment, fracking, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: air pollution, air quality, fracking, oil and gas drilling, ozone, public health, Uinta Basin | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 18, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
‘It is essential to identify where whales, dolphins and other species occur to help avoid adverse impacts and to continue to monitor their response to the construction and operation of wind turbines’
Offshore wind turbines could provide most of the power for North American cities.
FRISCO — Many of the conflicts between energy development and wildlife protection developed because there wasn’t enough upfront planning. Researchers with the University of Maryland say similar issues relating to offshore wind energy can be minimized with early monitoring.
“As the number and size of offshore wind developments increases, there is a growing need to consider the consequences and cumulative impacts of these activities on marine species,” said Helen Bailey, lead author and research assistant professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Chesapeake Biological Laboratory.
“It is essential to identify where whales, dolphins and other species occur to help avoid adverse impacts and to continue to monitor their response to the construction and operation of wind turbines,” Bailey said. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, renewable energy | Tagged: Environment, marine mammals, offshore wind energy, offshore windpower, renewable energy | 4 Comments »
Posted on October 17, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Increase in global gas production likely to displace renewable low carbon energy
FRISCO — Increasing production of natural gas won’t save the world from global warming, researchers said this week.
In the long run, a global abundance of inexpensive natural gas is likely to displace not just coal, but also lower-emitting nuclear and renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar. Inexpensive natural gas would also accelerate economic growth and expand overall energy use, the study found.
“The effect is that abundant natural gas alone will do little to slow climate change,” said lead author Haewon McJeon, an economist at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “Global deployment of advanced natural gas production technology could double or triple the global natural gas production by 2050, but greenhouse gas emissions will continue to grow in the absence of climate policies that promote lower carbon energy sources.” Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, energy, fracking, gas drilling, global warming, oil drilling | Tagged: energy, Environment, global warming, Natural gas, renewable energy | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 12, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Barrier islands, shorelines, dunes, underwater grasses and oyster beds targeted for restoration
A NASA satellite image shows the oil slick from the Deepwater Horizon disaster spreading across the northern Gulf of Mexico in late May, 2010.
FRISCO — Nearly four years after BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling operation disastrously failed and spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, NOAA and its partners have finalized a $627 million restoration plan. The formal record of decision released last week authorizes 44 projects to restore barrier islands, shorelines, dunes, underwater grasses and oyster beds.
This announcement marks the largest suite of Gulf early restoration projects selected thus far in the wake of the 2010 oil spill. The projects aim to address a range of injuries to natural resources and the subsequent loss of recreational use. Details of restoration efforts are outlined in the Final Programmatic and Phase III Early Restoration Plan and Early Restoration Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, BP Gulf oil spill, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: Deepwater Horizon, Environment, Gulf of Mexico, Gulf of Mexico restoration, oil pollution, oil spills | 1 Comment »