Is the West’s power grid vulnerable to climate change?

‘In their development plans, power providers are not taking into account climate change impacts …’

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Renewable energy sources may be less susceptible to climate change impacts.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The Western power grid is vulnerable to projected global warming impacts, and should be climate-proofed to minimize the risk of future power shortages, according to a new study by  two Arizona State University engineers.

Their findings show that extreme heat waves and droughts and related changes in precipitation, air and water temperatures, air density and humidity, are all factors in the energy equation, and that those changes could significantly constrain the energy generation capacity of power plants. Continue reading

Shell gets conditional OK for Arctic offshore drilling

Conservation groups say Arctic oil disaster nearly inevitable

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Is Shell Arctic-ready?

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — In a decision heralding all but certain disaster for Arctic ecosystems, the federal government today approved the basic outlines of Shell’s proposed multi-year offshore oil exploration plan in the Chukchi Sea.

Using two vessels, the giant oil company wants to drill up to six wells in an area known as the Burger Prospect, more than 140-feet deep, about  70 miles northwest of the village of Wainwright.

The approval came just two years after the Department of Interior found that Shell tried to rush into its offshore drilling program without being “fully prepared in terms of fabricating and testing certain critical systems and establishing the scope of its operational plans.” Continue reading

Environment: Conservation groups say latest oil train blast shows need for updated safety rules

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Does an oil train run through your town?

Critics say proposed phaseout is too slow

Staff Report

FRISCO — Just a few weeks after the Obama administration took some tentative steps to improve oil train safety, yet another such train was blasted off the rails by a massive explosion.

The latest disaster in North Dakota underscores the need for more immediate and assertive action to improve safety, according to conservation advocates like Earthjustice attorney Kristen Boyles.

“Again another derailment and explosion of a train carrying crude. Again another community evacuated and its people counting their blessings this didn’t happen half a mile down the track in the middle of town,” Boyles said. Continue reading

Environment: New analysis helps pinpoint fracking pollution in Pennsylvania drinking water

Fracked nation.

Fracked nation.

Fracking substances found almost two miles away from faulty drilling operation

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists in Pennsylvania said they’ve been able to track pollution from fracking as the source of contamination in drinking water wells more than 1 mile from the fracked shale gas wells.

The stray natural gas and wastewater moved laterally along shallow to intermediate depth fractures to the source of the homes’ well water. The chemicals foamed from water faucets in three homes near a reported well-pad leak. The homes were sold to the gas company as part of a legal settlement in 2012, but scientists received samples before the transfer.

Previous studies had not been able to identify the cause of the foaming, but the new analysis found a chemical compound, 2-BE, and an unidentified complex mixture of organic contaminants, both commonly seen in flowback water from Marcellus shale activity.  Continue reading

Job growth in renewable energy sector far outpaces losses in coal mining

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Early coal mining.

Careful study yields regionally nuanced results, but overall job growth

Staff Report

FRISCO — While many Republican politicians claim that President’s Obama is waging a job-killing war on coal, a careful analysis of the numbers show that those arguments are specious.

Duke University researchers say that, in the four years after the 2008 recession, growth in the clean energy sector (including natural gas) created four times as many jobs as were lost in the coal industry.

The county-by-county geographical analysis of the losses and gains shows nuanced results, with job growth in the Northeast and the Southwest, while some coal-dependent regions — especially southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky — did get hit hard by the recession. Continue reading

Community solar comes to Leadville, Colorado

Colorado-based Clean Energy Collective helps drive shift to community based renewable energy

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Community solar comes to Cloud City.

Staff Report

Donate Button with Credit Cards

FRISCO — The Colorado-based Clean Energy Collective is making more progress toward providing community based solar energy across the state with the opening of a new 499 kilowatt facility in Leadville. That’s enough electricity for about 100 homes, aimed at serving Xcel Energy residential and commercial customers across Lake, Chaffee and Park counties.

Over its estimated lifespan of about 50 years, the environmental benefits include a reduction of 30 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions that would otherwise result from burning fossil fuels to produce the same amount of energy. Continue reading

Environment: Denver squeaks into top-10 list of cities with most energy efficient buildings

Energy efficient buildings save money

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A view of Denver from the International Space Station.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Making buildings more energy efficient may not be as sexy as putting up new wind turbines or a fancy new solar power facility, but it’s low-hanging fruit if the goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy use in commercial buildings accounts for 17 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at a cost of more than $100 billion per year, and simple changes like switching to compact fluorescent bulbs on a large scale can save vast amounts of energy and money. Designing buildings to be green from the ground up has even more potential to help in the fight against climate change. Continue reading

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