Environment: What’s the true cost of fossil fuels?

Can carbon capture help mitigate the climate impacts of carbon dioxide?

Can carbon capture help mitigate the climate impacts of carbon dioxide?

‘We’re making decisions based on misleading costs’

Staff Report

FRISCO — The costs of burning fossil fuels are much higher than official estimates when the environmental and human health toll is factored into the equation, according to Duke University scientists who took a close look at the numbers and published their findings in the journal Climatic Change.

When those costs are factored in, a gallon of gasoline costs about $3.80 more than the pump price. The social cost of a gallon of diesel is about $4.80 more than the pump price; the price of natural gas more than doubles; and coal-fired electricity more than quadruples. Solar and wind power, on the other hand, become cheaper than they initially seem. Continue reading

Environment: Scientists say proposed seismic testing off the Atlantic Coast would be devastating to marine life

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Whales and other marine mammals would take a big hit from millions of air gun blasts proposed to uncover fossil fuel deposits beneath the sea floor of the Atlantic. Photo courtesy Tim Cole, NMFS.

Air gun blasting has a huge environmental footprint and poses ‘unacceptable risks’ to marine life

Staff Report

FRISCO — Proposed seismic testing for oil and gas beneath the Atlantic Ocean floor is likely to have significant, long-lasting, and widespread impacts on the reproduction and survival of fish and marine mammals, scientists warned last week in a letter to President Barack Obama.

The letter was written in response to the administration’s announcement last month that it will, for the first time, open areas off the U.S. mid-Atlantic and south Atlantic coasts for fossil fuel exploitation. Continue reading

Energy: Sometimes you have to wrestle down the 800-pound fossil fuel gorilla one finger at a time

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The San Onofre nuclear power plant, via the Creative Commons.

Can lost nuclear power capacity be replaced by renewable energy?

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — This week’s decision by a PUC judge in California may help jolt the slow shift toward renewable energy into a higher gear, according to environmental advocates who have been watchdogging the process of replacing the power once produced by the now-defunct an Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

At issue was an application by San Diego Gas & Electric to contract with Carlsbad Energy Center, LLC for the purchase of energy from a proposed new gas-powered plant. When San Onofre closed, SDG&E was directed to replace the shuttered plant with at least 200 megawatts from clean energy resources and between 300-600 MW from “any resource,” which could include gas or clean energy. Continue reading

Federal judge blocks Four Corners coal mine plan

The Four Corners Power Plant in a 1972 photo via Wikipedia.

The Four Corners Power Plant in a 1972 photo via Wikipedia.

Regulators failed to consider environmental effects of burning the coal

Staff Report

FRISCO — Despite strong leadership from the Obama administration on climate change policy, the word apparently hasn’t trickled down to all levels yet, as federal agencies still routinely try to approve projects without evaluating carbon impacts.

Recently, the White River National Forest released a draft environmental study for a massive expansion of summer operations at Colorado’s Breckenridge Ski area without ever mentioning the words climate change, global warming or carbon.

But courts are increasingly holding those agencies accountable, including this week’s decision by U.S. District Court Judge John Kane to reject a 2012 Office of Surface Mining plan to expand coal mining at the 13,000-acre Navajo Mine near the San Juan River in northwestern New Mexico. Continue reading

Colorado: House committee rejects clumsy GOP attempt to roll back renewable energy target

Playing politics with our future

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Got wind?

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Colorado won’t be lowering its 30 percent renewable energy target anytime soon, as lawmakers on a State House committee yesterday rejected a measure that would have cut the renewable energy standard from 30 percent to 15 percent. Continue reading

Proposed new oil and gas leases in Wyoming cut into the heart of important greater sage-grouse habitat

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Sage grouse don’t much like these drilling rigs.

Wyoming greater sage-grouse populations down 60 percent in last few years

Staff Report

FRISCO — Conservation advocates say proposed new oil and gas leases on 89,000 acres in northwestern Wyoming would devastate greater sage-grouse in the region by permitting industrial operations in some of the birds’ most important nesting and rearing habitat.

In a comment letter to the federal government, the  Center for Biological Diversity wrote that, even sage grouse have declined 60 percent over six years in Wyoming, the plan repeatedly ignores federal scientists’ recommendations for protecting these prairie birds from fossil fuel development. Continue reading

Environment: Feds eye new Arctic drilling rules

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Feds are seeking public comment on new rules for Arctic Sea drilling.

Major spill would devastate Arctic ecosystems

Staff Report

FRISCO — Proposed new Arctic drilling rules would require fossil fuel companies to have a spare drilling rig available in case they lose control of the primary well. The new rule is aimed at ensuring that companies operating in the Arctic are full prepared for the region’s extreme conditions.

As released in late February, the rules  focus solely on offshore exploration drilling operations within the Beaufort Sea and Chukchi Sea Planning Areas. The proposed rule is open for public comment through mid-April. Comment HERE. Continue reading

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