Category: renewable energy

Conservation advocates start building legal resistance to Trump’s environmental wrecking crew

A surface coal mine in Wyoming. PHOTO COURTESY BLM.

Lawsuit aims to maintain moratorium on federal coal leasing based partly on climate impacts

By Bob Berwyn

As Trump’s sputtering political bulldozer takes aim at public lands, the environment and the climate, conservation advocates are preparing to throw up a few legal roadblocks that could delay for years implementation of the administration’s anti-environmental agenda. The battles Trump has unleashed will begin a new era of uncertainty for American energy companies, even as the market-driven shift to renewable energy continues.

The first lawsuit against the Trump administration’s attack on the environment has already been filed in U.S. District Court in Montana, where Earthjustice attorneys, on behalf of citizen conservation groups and communities, including Native Americans, are seeking to block Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s decision to repeal a coal mining moratorium on public lands. Continue reading “Conservation advocates start building legal resistance to Trump’s environmental wrecking crew”

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Global CO2 emissions flat for 3d year in a row

U.S. emissions at 1992 level, according to IEA report

The Craig Station power plant in northwest Colorado pollutes lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Carbon dioxide emissions from the world’s biggest economies — the U.S. and China — dropped in 2016 and didn’t grow in Europe, showing that economic growth can occur without an increase in heat-trapping pollution, according to the latest emissions report from the International Energy Agency.

Despite the slowdown in emissions from the power sector, CO2 levels are still climbing at a record rate, though, according to scientists who recently released a report showing that concentrations of the heat-trapping greenhouse gas increased 3 parts per million for the second year in a row. The concentration is now above 400 ppm, more than 43 percent more than pre-industrial levels. Continue reading “Global CO2 emissions flat for 3d year in a row”

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”

Environment: Can dams be operated without killing rivers?

Glen Canyon Dam. Image courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.
Glen Canyon Dam. Image courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

New study eyes impacts to aquatic insects

Staff Report

Using a vast sample of data collected in a citizen science project, researchers say they’ve been able to discern how hydropeaking affects aquatic insects that form the base of river food chains. The information could help resource managers develop alternative hydropower practices that aren’t as harmful to ecosystems, according to a new study published in the journal BioScience.

Hydropeaking refers to the practice of increasing river flows at times of peak demand, generally during the day. This study shows how abrupt water level changes affect aquatic insects in every stage of life. The research was done by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey, Oregon State University, Utah State University and Idaho State University. Continue reading “Environment: Can dams be operated without killing rivers?”

Feds identify possible wind energy zone near Long Island

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Offshore wind turbines at Barrow Offshore Wind Farm off Walney Island in the Irish Sea. Photo via the Creative Commons.

Can the U.S. catch up to Europe with offshore wind power?

Staff Report

The U.S. is lagging far behind European countries when it comes to developing offshore wind power, but that’s starting to change.

This week, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management took another step toward boosting ocean windpower by identifying an 8,130 acre wind area energy south of Long Island, New York, that could one day be leased for development and help generate electricity where it’s needed most — close to densely populated East Coast communities.

Just last October, a University of Delaware study showed that the U.S. is farther from commercial-scale offshore wind deployment today than it was in 2005. Before offshore wind can be developed commercially at a large scale, the U.S. must revamp regulations, as well as tax and finance policy, the study explained. Meanwhile, Europe is generating about 8 percent of its total energy capacity from windpower. Continue reading “Feds identify possible wind energy zone near Long Island”

U.S. added 7,200 megawatts of solar power in 2015

Residential installations lead the way

New initiative to boost several solar projects with $27 million.
Solar outpaced natural gas capacity additions in 2015.

Staff Report

The U.S. solar power market grew by 17 percent in 2015, adding more than 7,200 megawatts of photovoltaics and outpacing the growth of the natural gas capacity additions for the first time ever. In all, solar supplied 29.5 percent of all new electric generating capacity in the U.S. in 2015.

The solar sector grew fastest in California, North Carolina, Nevada, Massachusetts and New York, but the market continues to diversify geographically, with 13 states installing more than 100 megawatts of capacity in 2015. Continue reading “U.S. added 7,200 megawatts of solar power in 2015”

Study outlines path for U.S. ‘Energiewende’

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In just 15 years, renewable energy could power most of the U.S. @bberwyn photo.

Huge cuts in greenhouse emissions possible by 2030

Staff Report

Germany’s deliberate transition to renewable energy — the Energiewende — has made headlines around the world, but the U.S. also has the potential to  make a big shift toward renewable energy.

Solar, wind and other weather-driven renewable resources could supply most of the nation’s electricity by 2030 and potentially cut greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector by up to 78 percent,  according to a new study by researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Colorado. Continue reading “Study outlines path for U.S. ‘Energiewende’”