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

Proposed Senate bill addresses oil train safety

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Oil train routes in the U.S. Map courtesy Center for Biological Diversity.

‘It’s painfully clear something needs to be done to protect people and the environment from the mounting dangers of these oil trains’

Staff Report

FRISCO — A series of common-sense steps could help reduce the risk of fiery oil train crashes, a quartet of Democratic senators said this week, introducing legislation that would remove the most dangerous tank cars from service, increase track inspections, and help better prepare first responders.

The bill would also require the U.S. Department of Transportation to set a national standard for the maximum volatility of oil being transported by rail, which would help prevent the massive explosions that followed recent derailments in Canada and West Virginia.

The derailments during the past few months show the risks associated with transporting crude oil by train, a practice that has increased dramatically. Five years ago, very little crude oil was hauled by the nation’s railroads. Today, more than 1.1 million barrels per day move by rail, largely originating in the Midwest. There have been four fiery derailments involving oil trains in North America since the start of February. Continue reading

USGS study points out huge fracking data gaps

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Fracking in western Colorado. bberwyn photo.

No way to assess water quality impacts on a regional or national level

Staff Report

FRISCO — Oil and gas companies like to present fracking as benign, and, for the most part, government regulators play along. For example, a recent oil and gas task force in Colorado barely touched on the subject of groundwater impacts from fracking. Continue reading

Environment: Canadian Citizen groups say new tar sands rules too weak to protect the Athabasca River

Activist: ‘These new rules read like an oil industry wish list”

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A NASA Earth Observatory satellite image shows the scale of tar sands mining along the Athabasca River in Alberta. Visit the NASA site for more information.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A set of proposed new water rules has unleashed a storm of protest in Canada, where citizen and conservation groups charge that the government is giving away the store to energy companies exploiting the tar sans of Alberta.

The updated regulatory framework sets guidelines on how much water oil sands companies can extract from the Athabasca River, and guidelines regarding the management and production of toxic tailings waste. Continue reading

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

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