Tag archives for environment

Comments Off on ‘The Great Invisible’ Wins Full Frame’s Best Environmental Film

Environmental winner documents the impact of the Deepwater Horizon disaster on the ecosystem — the human ecosystem. Full Frame Festival: A Springtime Cornucopia of Documentaries With the first weekend of April in the rearview mirror, so is, for Durhamites and aficionados of documentary film, the 2014 edition of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, reportedly the…

When President Obama unveiled his long-awaited climate change strategy this week, he never mentioned biofuels. (See “Obama Unveils Climate Strategy.”) But with nearly a third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions due to burning petroleum for transportation, a key and controversial question is what role plant-based alternatives can play in cutting the nation’s carbon emissions. As…

Comments Off on Fracking in Pennsylvania: A Boom That’s Fizzling?

On a recent visit to Pennsylvania, I saw signs of a natural gas boom on the wane. Googling “Pennsylvania ‘natural gas rush’” this morning got me 356,000 hits. Some may call it a gas boom instead of a rush, but, regardless, it seems to be a happening thing. The development of the technology that combines…

On the heels of the violent storm system that felled enough overhead wires to disrupt electricity for 4.3 million utility customers on the U.S. East Coast,  new research suggests that the technology for transmitting power without connection to the vulnerable electric grid may be closer at hand than most people think. “Wireless power” will be…

Part two — the view from the grassroots. Last week I led a group of Nicholas School colleagues on an “eco fact-finding” trip to learn about fracking in Pennsylvania. We spent the first half of the trip (covered last week) touring facilities and getting a bird’s eye view of what’s going on with the landscape.…

Comments Off on Polytechnique: Aiming for Lighter Weight

Romain Lejas, of Ecole Polytechnique in Palaiseau, France, works on InfinitiX, the team’s entry in Shell Eco-marathon 2012 this week in Rotterdam. Last year, the team achieved 454 kilometers per liter (1,067 miles per gallon), and this year sought to reduce weight more. The car is entered in the “prototype” category—these don’t have to be…

Comments Off on Stakes High as Negotiators Begin Climate Talks in Germany

Negotiators picked up discussions toward a new global climate treaty in Bonn, Germany this week. The meeting was the first since the 2011 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) in Durban, where leaders initially agreed to put together a plan that would limit Earth-warming emissions. The stakes for the 10-day meeting are high—negotiators have set goals of building support for funding…

Not fracking with millions of gallons of water this time round — waterless fracking. Americans love a good game with lots of momentum and game-changing shifts. Who would have thunk — shale gas extraction is turning out to be one of the most exciting games in town. The Original Natural Gas Game Changer Over the…

Comments Off on Keystone Pipeline Debate Reopens with Submission of New Application

The U.S. Department of State has received a new application from TransCanada—the company behind the controversial Keystone XL project—to ship crude oil via a proposed pipeline running from the Canadian border to existing infrastructure in Nebraska. TransCanada had its initial application rejected by the Obama administration in January. The reapplication to the U.S. State Department…

Comments Off on Arctic Oil Drilling Opens as Pitfalls Pondered Miles Away

Nearing record highs in March, gasoline prices have dropped for most of April across the U.S. and on average are cheaper than they were a year ago. As pump prices ease, federal prosecutors are turning up the heat in the BP oil spill case, arresting an ex-engineer accused of obstructing justice by deleting potentially damaging e-mails. And as the…

Comments Off on As Half the U.S. Contemplates Hydraulic Fracturing, First Liquefied Natural Gas Export Plant Approved

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday approved the first large-scale liquefied natural gas export terminal in the lower 48 states despite record falling gas prices. Shipping from the $10 billion Louisiana plant is projected to begin as early as 2015. The Cheniere plant is the third liquefied natural gas plant in the works in Louisiana. Others are planned elsewhere in the country. The plants…

Gasoline prices have edged off the pedal in recent days, but the Energy Information Administration this week released new data showing motorists will pay about a quarter more per gallon during peak travel season—April through September. Prices will top out at $4.01, on average, in May. The last time gasoline spiked to such levels was…

Comments Off on Obama Moves Ahead with Oil Sanctions as Gas Prices Climb

Before Congress headed home for spring recess, the Senate, with a rate vote of 100, approved President Obama’s new round of sanctions designed to deter Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The president’s decision was based on an analysis of current oil supply and the likely effect of further sanctions on prices. The Senate also shot down the president’s bid to reduce subsidies to oil producers. Oil…

Comments Off on EPA Makes Historic Announcement: First Greenhouse Gas Rule for New Power Plants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released long-awaited greenhouse gas rules for new power plants this week. Using the Clean Air Act, the agency standard would set the first national limits on the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions new power plants can emit. The EPA proposed the rule after delaying it several times since July 2011. Power plants are the largest…

After public pressure, Chicago will shut two aging coal-fired power plants, and the owner of one of the power plants, Midwest Generation, may shut its other four coal plants in Illinois. Since the start of 2010, more than 100 coal plants have been slated for early retirement. A major reason for coal plants shutting has been public opposition to…

Comments Off on Rising Oil, Gasoline Prices Put Politicians on the Offensive

In a major speech on energy at the University of Miami, President Obama said rising gasoline prices are a “painful reminder” of the need for alternatives. He was on the offensive, trying to counter criticisms of the GOP presidential candidates—including Newt Gingrich, who promised he’d get gasoline down to $2.50 a gallon. Countering calls to “drill, baby,…

Comments Off on Maldives President and Climate Advocate Forced at Gunpoint to Step Down

Maldives leader Mohamed Nasheed, called the “world’s most environmentally outspoken president” because of his calls for drastically cutting greenhouse gas emissions, was forced to resign—at gunpoint, he claimed. He had used stunts such as an underwater cabinet meeting to highlight his island nation’s vulnerability to sea-level rise. His resignation followed weeks of protests and was apparently motivated by internal politics unrelated to…

Comments Off on Oil, Gasoline Prices Hit All-Time Highs in 2011—and May Continue Rising

Average prices of oil and gasoline at the pump reached an all-time high in 2011, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data. Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, averaged $111 a barrel—the first time it broke $100 for a whole year. In some ways, these records snuck up on Americans, since there was no extreme…

Comments Off on Fight Over Tar Sands Pipeline May Lead to Cancellation, “Huge” Consequences

In November, the Obama administration decided to delay a decision on whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline to bring tar sands from Canada to the United States. But in December, Republicans attached a provision to a tax bill, which President Obama signed, that urges the administration to decide on the pipeline within 60 days,…

Comments Off on As Eurozone Crisis Deepens, Fight to Save Emissions Trading Scheme Begins

Prices in Europe’s carbon emissions trading scheme have collapsed this year, in part because there were too many allowances in the system starting off, threatening the future of the whole market. “Without intervention … Europe’s climate policy is over,” one analyst said. Some of Europe’s biggest energy and manufacturing firms also wrote a letter to…

Comments Off on Now All GOP Presidential Candidates Express Climate Skepticism

GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman expressed skepticism about the science on climate change, so now all GOP candidates are on the record as doubting either that the planet is clearly warming, or that people are responsible for most of the warming. Of all the GOP candidates, Huntsman had been the most supportive of action on…

Comments Off on Communities Skip Washington for Green Action Locally

With political gridlock preventing politicians in Washington, D.C. from reaching agreements on, well, anything, it’s easy to imagine the entire country is suffering from a similar political lockdown. However, municipalities across the country are coming together and moving ahead in America’s clean energy discussion. One way they’re doing it: building a new generation of green…

The Obama administration delayed deciding whether to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which has been proposed to carry tar sands from Canada to Texas’s Gulf Coast. The administration said it should consider alternate routes and wait until early 2013 to decide. Industry officials in Canada thought the delay may derail the pipeline, and threaten…

Comments Off on As Population Tops 7 Billion, Time to Revisit Climate Approaches

The world population reached seven billion people around October 31, according to United Nations estimates. The actual date is a bit fuzzy, but the milestone has nonetheless had great symbolic power, triggering a stream of articles on population issues. Nicholas Kristof, in the New York Times, argued family planning is the solution to many of…

Comments Off on Big Businesses’ Call for Climate Action: Strong Treaty, More Aid

A group of 285 large investors, representing more than $20 trillion in assets, urged world governments to forge a binding treaty at upcoming climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa, and said global spending has not been nearly enough to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius. The call came from a coalition of four green investment…