Category: energy

Feds seek to boost offshore wind power

New strategic plan could boost investment

Offshore wind turbines near Copenhagen, Denmark. Under the Obama administration and Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the U.S. may start catching up with other countries in developing renewable energy resources. PHOTO VIA THE CREATIVE COMMONS.
Offshore wind turbines near Copenhagen, Denmark. Under the Obama administration and Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the U.S. may start catching up with other countries in developing renewable energy resources. PHOTO VIA THE CREATIVE COMMONS.

Staff Report

After laying the groundwork for utility scale solar development with an over-arching plan covering public lands, the Obama administration wants to take similar steps to foster offshore wind power. Last week, cabinet officials said their strategic vision for offshore wind energy includes reducing technical costs and risks  to make investments more predictable.

The Department of Interior will take steps to make the  regulatory process more predictable, transparent, efficient and informed by lessons learned from regulators in other countries. The Energy and Interior departments also committed to analyzing field data from operating offshore wind farms to asses impacts on marine life, turbine radar interference in to support future offshore wind siting and plan reviews. Continue reading “Feds seek to boost offshore wind power”

Study tracks Colorado ‘frack-quakes’

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A recent earthquake map from the Colorado Geological Survey shows a cluster of tremors along the northern Front Range.

Findings can help oil and gas operators minimize seismic risks

Staff Report

For nine months, oil and gas companies pumped 250,000 barrels of industrial wastewater deep underground in the fossil fuel sacrifice zone around Greeley, Colorado — and then, the Earth burped.

On the last day of May, 2014, the wastewater triggered a magnitude 3.2 earthquake that for some area residents felt like a truck hitting their house. The quake was the first in the area in about 40 years, fitting a regional pattern of earthquakes linked with fracking.

Now, a new study by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Colorado shows it may be possible to lessen the risk of frack-quakes by controlling the amount of wastewater being pumped into the ground, and by carefully monitoring seismic activity in fossil fuel development areas. Continue reading “Study tracks Colorado ‘frack-quakes’”

Study quantifies role of oil and gas emissions in ozone formation along Colorado Front Range

Research to help shape efforts to reduce dangerous air pollution
ozone map

By Bob Berwyn
Emissions from oil and gas production along the Colorado Front Range are a significant, measurable part of the region’s chronic summer ozone problem, scientists concluded after taking a close look at air pollution during an extensive research project in the summer of 2014.

Ozone levels in the area often spike above 70 parts per billion, a level deemed by the EPA to be dangerous to human health and to the environment, causing respiratory problems and damage to plants. About 17 ppb of that ozone are produced locally; about 3 ppb come from oil and gas industry emissions, according to a new study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

The researchers said their findings could help shape efforts to improve air quality in the region. Along with the volatile organic compounds released from oil and gas operations, nitrogen oxides from cars, buses and trucks are also a big factor. Any meaningful effort to improve air quality will have to address both sources. Continue reading “Study quantifies role of oil and gas emissions in ozone formation along Colorado Front Range”

Why is the government spying on climate activists?

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Fossil fuel protestors targeted by undercover investigations

Staff Report

The threat of international terrorism apparently is not keeping federal agents so busy that they don’t have time to investigate the largely peaceful community of climate activists who are advocating for a rapid shift to a carbon-free energy economy.

In recent months, federal and local law enforcement agencies have cooperated with fossil fuel companies to spy on groups like 350.org and the Break Free movement, as shown by a series of documents obtained by The Intercept. Those records show that agents went underground to monitor the groups activities and training sessions. Of course, such domestic intelligence operations aren’t new — paranoid government agencies have a long history of tracking activists going back at least to Dr. Martin Luther King. Continue reading “Why is the government spying on climate activists?”

Study says old, weathered oil from spills is even more toxic to fish than fresh crude

Scientists still studying Deepwater Horizon spill impacts

Oil from BP's failed Deepwater Horizon drill rig and the Macondo well spread across the ocean in May 2010. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.
Oil from BP’s failed Deepwater Horizon drill rig and the Macondo well spread across the Gulf of Mexico in May 2010. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Staff Report

It’s been six years since BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico failed disastrously, but scientists are still learning about how the oil affected ocean species and ecosystems.

In findings from new study released this week, researchers from the University of California, Riverside and the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science reported that old, weathered oil from the spill is even more toxic than fresh crude oil. Ultraviolet light changes changes the chemistry of the oil, the scientists said, further threatening numerous commercially and ecologically important fishes.

The Deepwater Horizon oil disaster was the worst on U.S. history. More than 3 million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf, contaminating spawning habitats for many fishes. The oil also killed deep sea corals and had a devastating effect on dolphin reproduction. Continue reading “Study says old, weathered oil from spills is even more toxic to fish than fresh crude”

Offshore fracking threatens beluga whales, group claims

A pod of Beluga whales. PHOTO COURTESY NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE.
A pod of Beluga whales. Photo courtesy NMFS.

Conservation advocates question plan for expanded fracking in Alaska’s Cook Inlet

Staff Report

Environmental advocates are warning that a plan to expand offshore fracking in Alaska’s Cook Inlet threatens a local population of beluga whales, considered to be among the most endangered whales in the world.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, Blue Crest Energy wants to drill multiple new wells and conduct the first large, multistage offshore fracking ever done in the environmentally sensitive inlet. The privately held company needs a permit from the NMFS to start the fracking in the inlet. Continue reading “Offshore fracking threatens beluga whales, group claims”

Small oil spills can add up to big impacts for sea birds

Report says more monitoring of wildlife needed on offshore oil drilling rigs

Oil in the Gulf of Mexico. PHOTO COURTESY U.S. COAST GUARD.
Oil spills have a devastating impact on sea life,, there’s not enough monitoring to track environmental degradation. Photo via U.S. Coast Guard.
This is an Oiled Thick-billed Murre, Cripple Cove (near Cape Race), Newfoundland November 28, 2004. Credit Photo by Ian L. Jones
This is an oiled thick-billed murre, Cripple Cove (near Cape Race), Newfoundland November 28, 2004. Photo by Ian L. Jones.

Staff Report

It only takes exposure to a teaspoon full of oil to kill some seabirds, but oil drillers off the coast of Canada are failing to adequately monitor small, persistent spills that can lead to chronic pollution and population-level impacts, according to a new study by scientists with York University.

The research published in the international journal, Marine Pollution Bulletin, looked at how offshore oil operators monitored and responded to small spills (less than 1,000 litres) for three production projects off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. It came after authorities failed to respond to three high-profile environmental assessments by Environment Canada that requested impacts on seabirds be monitored following small spills. Continue reading “Small oil spills can add up to big impacts for sea birds”