Tag: energy

European environmental groups push EU to act on climate

Civic groups brainstorm green policies at Vienna meeting

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What’s left of the glaciers around the Grossglockner, Austria’s highest peak, makes it clear why Europe must act on climate. @bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

European environmental leaders this week called on the EU adopt an innovative mindset for dealing with climate and energy issues. Europe stands to gain from adopting progressive policies that create economic opportunities for businesses and improve life for citizens.

“Innovation, research and development will be at the center of decarbonising,” said Angela Köppl, speaking at the Sept. 26 annual meeting of the European Environmental Bureau in Vienna.The EEB is an umbrella for about 150 NGOs, think tanks and other civic groups representing more than 15 million citizens. Continue reading “European environmental groups push EU to act on climate”

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 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”

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”

Battle lines drawn over new fossil fuel infrastructure

Signs of oil and gas development are visible on a landscape level from 35,000 feet in the air.
Signs of oil and gas development are visible in eastern on a landscape level from 35,000 feet in the air. @bberwyn photo.

Broad coalition of conservation groups oppose measure that could speed approval of natural gas export terminals

Staff Report

Pro-fossil fuel legislators in Congress hope they can help their campaign donors by putting the cart before the fracking horse. An amended version of the Senate’s Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 (S. 2012) includes provisions that would speed up the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval of liquefied natural gas export terminals.

According to critics of the measure, that artificially increases the demand for U.S. natural gas and hits communities with additional health and climate risks. More than 370 organizations are urging the Senate to reject provisions in the bill that would encourage oil and gas fracking.

The groups delivered a letter to Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski and ranking member Maria Cantwell demanding an energy bill that transitions the country to a truly clean, safe, renewable energy future. Continue reading “Battle lines drawn over new fossil fuel infrastructure”

Journalism: Covering climate change

A big story …

global temperature map March 2016
The average global temperature spiked to yet another record in March 2016.
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This is what global warming looks like.

Staff Report

VIENNA —Longtime Summit Voice readers will have noticed a gradual transition over the last few years away from local news coverage in Colorado to focusing on what is probably the over-riding environmental issue of our time.

There’s no longer much doubt that global warming poses an existential threat to humanity. The Earth, to be sure, will survive, but the ability of humans to maintain some semblance of civilization is definitely under the gun.

At worst, climate change (and yes, I use the terms interchangeably) will trigger some catastrophic and and as-yet unforeseen tipping point that will lead to mass extinctions and widespread ecological collapse. That’s not far-fetched if the world doesn’t get a grip soon on greenhouse gas emissions.

At best, even if we meet the targets set at last year’s climate talks in Paris, there will be massive dislocation from coastal areas from flooding and storms, and mass migration from parts of the world that will just be too hot. There will probably be major disruptions to the world’s food supplies. And many of the world’s natural treasures, like its glaciers and coral reefs, will just disappear.

It’s easy enough to say that life goes on, at least in the short term, but that’s not enough. Sure, some of the other short-term issues (politics comes to mind) matter, but in the long run, none of it will unless we get our act together soon to cut greenhouse gas emissions to near zero.

Some of my climate change reporting is now online at InsideClimate News and I’d like to invite all Summit Voice readers to check out their feed. Their great team of journalists is working hard to cover the most important aspects of the climate change story, and I’m happy to add my reporting to that effort.

My recent stories there include a look at how the Department of Energy under President Obama has been pumping billions of dollars into clean coal technology; a story about projections for record Arctic sea ice melting this summer, and a report on the melting of Austria’s glaciers.

Take some time in the next few months to consider the implications of climate change as you think about the upcoming election and choose wisely!

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?”