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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Closing in on Climate Tipping Points

Closing in on Climate Tipping Points

 

http://theenergycollective.com/globalwarmingisreal/81079/closing-climate-tipping-points-irreversible-climate-change-managing-risk-a?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=The+Energy+Collective+%28all+posts%29&utm_content=Google+Reader

Mississippi Residents Find Death Along Oily Gulf Shores

Mississippi Residents Find Death Along Oily Gulf Shores

Since BP’s catastrophic oil blowout nearly two years ago, Laurel Lockamy has gotten pretty good at photographing the dead. She’s snapped images of dozens of lifeless turtles and dolphins, countless dead fish, birds, armadillos and nutria and pretty much anything that crawls, swims or flies near the white sandy Mississippi beaches of her Gulfport home.

Friday, March 30, 2012

California Slammed With Fukushima Radiation

California Slammed With Fukushima Radiation

The Journal Environmental Science and Technology reports in a new study that the Fukushima radiation plume contacted North America at California “with greatest exposure in central and southern California”, and that Southern California's seaweed tested over 500% higher for radioactive  iodine-131 than anywhere else in the U.S. and Canada:
Projected paths of the radioactive atmospheric plume emanating from the Fukushima reactors, best described as airborne particles or aerosols for 131I, 137Cs, and 35S, and subsequent atmospheric monitoring showed it coming in contact with the North American continent at California, with greatest exposure in central and southern California. Government monitoring sites in Anaheim (southern California) recorded peak airborne concentrations of 131I at 1.9 pCi m−3
Anaheim is where Disneyland is located.
EneNews summarizes the data:
Corona Del Mar (Highest in Southern California)
  • 2.5 Bq/gdwt (gram dry weight)= 2,500 Bq/kg of dry seaweed
Santa Cruz (Highest in Central California)
  • 2.0 Bq/gdwt = 2,000 Bq/kg of dry seaweed
Simon Fraser University in Canada also tested North American seaweed after Fukushima:
  • “In samples of dehydrated seaweed taken on March 15 near the North Vancouver SeaBus terminal, the count was zero; on March 22 it was 310 Bq per kilogram; and by March 28 it was 380 Bq/kg.” -Vancouver Sun
  • Seaweed in Seattle also tested positive for iodine-131; levels were not reported -KIRO
  • No results after March 28 were reported
In addition, radioactive debris is starting to wash up on the Pacific Coast. And because the Japanese are burning radioactive materials instead of disposing of them, .

Review of Emerging Resources: U.S. Shale Gas and Shale Oil Plays -- EIA

Review of Emerging Resources: U.S. Shale Gas and Shale Oil Plays -- EIA

Review of Emerging Resources: U.S. Shale Gas and Shale Oil Plays is a report from the Energy Information Administration explains the use of horizontal drilling in conjunction with hydraulic fracturing has greatly expanded the ability of producers to profitably recover natural gas and oil from low-permeability geologic plays—particularly, shale plays. Application of fracturing techniques to stimulate oil and gas production began to grow rapidly in the 1950s, although experimentation dates back to the 19th century. Starting in the mid-1970s, a partnership of private operators, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and predecessor agencies, and the Gas Research Institute (GRI) endeavored to develop technologies for the commercial production of natural gas from the relatively shallow Devonian (Huron) shale in the eastern United States. This partnership helped foster technologies that eventually became crucial to the production of natural gas from shale rock, including horizontal wells, multi-stage fracturing, and slick-water fracturing

Modern Shale Gas Development in the United States: A Primer -- EIA

Modern Shale Gas Development in the United States: A Primer -- EIA

Modern Shale Gas Development in the United States: A Primer from the Energy Information Administration explains how "natural gas production from hydrocarbon rich shale formations, known as “shale gas,” is one of the most rapidly expanding trends in onshore domestic oil and gas exploration and production today.

Oil and Gas: Interior Has Strengthened Its Oversight of Subsea Well Containment, but Should Improve Its Documentation, GAO

Oil and Gas: Interior Has Strengthened Its Oversight of Subsea Well Containment, but Should Improve Its Documentation, GAO


From the Highlights:
"Since the Deepwater Horizon incident, the oil and gas industry has improved its capabilities to respond to a subsea well blowout—the uncontrolled release of oil or gas from a well on the ocean floor—in the Gulf of Mexico. In particular, operators have formed two new not-for-profit organizations that can quickly make available well containment equipment, services, and expertise. Among the equipment that these organizations can provide are capping stacks—devices used to stop the flow of oil or gas from a well. This improved well containment response equipment consists primarily of existing technologies that have been modified to support well containment, according to industry representatives.

Avoiding the Next Arctic Oil Disaster

Avoiding the Next Arctic Oil Disaster

Exxon's Valdez disaster had ruinous and enduring impacts. We could be close to catastrophe again.

A Very Long Road for Military Nuclear Waste By MATTHEW L. WALD


A Very Long Road for Military Nuclear Waste

http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/29/a-very-long-road-for-military-nuclear-waste/

Shunning Nuclear Power Will Lead to a Warmer World

Shunning Nuclear Power
Will Lead to a Warmer World

A physicist argues that if we allow our overblown and often irrational fears of nuclear energy to block the building of a significant number of new nuclear plants, we will be choosing a far more perilous option: the intensified burning of planet-warming fossil fuels.

by spencer r. weart

EPA Proposals: End of Coal or Dawn of New Energy?

EPA Proposals: End of Coal or Dawn of New Energy?

The Environmental Protection Agency this week proposed measures that it said would cut emissions for new power plants. Critics are lining up to say this marks the end of coal-fired power generation in the United States and in some ways they may be right. Despite the fervor over things like the Keystone XL oil pipeline and the fracking of natural gas, coal still dominates the energy sector and has been since at least the 1960s. While critics of the EPA's proposals may have a point, is that necessarily a bad thing? The Supreme Court in 2007…Read more...

Camera Can “See” Radiation


Camera Can “See” Radiation 

http://www.japanprobe.com/2012/03/30/camera-can-see-radiation/

US seeks to unleash power of ‘big data’

US seeks to unleash power of ‘big data’

Posted on behalf of Helen Thompson.
Scientists love data, there’s no denying it.  But the ballooning quantities of data that are gathered today in virtually every field of research, from climate science to genomics, presents a dilemma of unprecedented magnitude: How best to use it?
A broad spectrum of answers by six US science-related agencies and departments was on offer on 29 March as the administration’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) unveiled a $200 million initiative to improve the management, analysis and sharing of the vast data sets now accumulating as a consequence of federal research.

Scientists Find New Way to Measure Economic Impact of Forest Fires

Scientists Find New Way to Measure Economic Impact of Forest Fires

Riverside, CA (SPX) Mar 30, 2012
A team of scientists from the USDA Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Research Station and the University of Cordoba in Spain recently developed a new methodology that measures the economic impact of forest fires on timber resources. When evaluating and planning fire management program activities, it is important to know the value of the forest ecosystems protected.

Oceanographers develop method for measuring the pace of life in deep sediments

Oceanographers develop method for measuring the pace of life in deep sediments

Narragansett RI (SPX) Mar 30, 2012
Life deep in the seabed proceeds very slowly. But the slow-growing bacteria living many meters beneath the seafloor play an important role in the global storage of organic carbon and have a long-term effect on climate. A team of scientists from Aarhus University (Denmark) and the University of Rhode Island have developed a new method for measuring this slow life deep down in the seabed.

World scientists define united approach to tackling food insecurity

World scientists define united approach to tackling food insecurity

London UK (SPX) Mar 30, 2012
Nearly one billion people in the world are undernourished, while millions suffer from chronic disease due to excess food consumption. Global demand is growing for agricultural products and food prices are rising, yet roughly one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. Climate change threatens more frequent drought, flooding and pest outbreaks, and the world loses 12

West Antarctic Ice Shelves Tearing Apart at the Seams

West Antarctic Ice Shelves Tearing Apart at the Seams

Austin TX (SPX) Mar 29, 2012
A new study examining nearly 40 years of satellite imagery has revealed that the floating ice shelves of a critical portion of West Antarctica are steadily losing their grip on adjacent bay walls, potentially amplifying an already accelerating loss of ice to the sea. The most extensive record yet of the evolution of the floating ice shelves in the eastern Amundsen Sea Embayment in West Ant

Signs of thawing permafrost revealed from space

Signs of thawing permafrost revealed from space

Paris (ESA) Mar 29, 2012
Satellite are seeing changes in land surfaces in high detail at northern latitudes, indicating thawing permafrost. This releases greenhouse gases into parts of the Arctic, exacerbating the effects of climate change. Permafrost is ground that remains at or below 0C for at least two consecutive years and usually appears in areas at high latitudes such as Alaska, Siberia and Northern Scandina

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Determining optimal placement of wind farms

Posted: 29 Mar 2012 07:00 AM PDT
The energy industry has long been wary of intermittent renewables that generate power only when the sun shines or the wind blows. But scientists in the renewable energy industry are increasingly using their deep knowledge of weather patterns to site wind turbines and solar panels and maximize power output.

IPCC releases full report on extreme weather risk management

Posted: 29 Mar 2012 06:10 AM PDT
Back in November the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the executive summary for a “special report” called Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX for shorthand). Today, the IPCC released the full technical report that underlies the executive summary. In addition to documenting the scientific evidence that extreme weather events are on the rise, the report provides a risk-based analysis of how society can best respond to the climate threat. In the words of Chris Field, co-chair of one of the two working groups that produced the report:“The main message from the report is that we know enough to make good decisions about managing the risks of climate-related disasters. Sometimes we take advantage of this knowledge, but many times we do not.  The challenge for the future has one dimension focused on improving the knowledge base and one on empowering good decisions, even for those situations where there is lots of uncertainty.”

EPA BANKS ON CCS TECHNOLOGIES, SETS CARBON STANDARD FOR NEW COAL UNITS


EPA BANKS ON CCS TECHNOLOGIES, SETS CARBON STANDARD FOR NEW COAL UNITS
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday proposed its first-ever carbon pollution standard for new power plants, limiting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new fossil fuel-fired power plants to 1,000 pounds/MWh. The standard is achievable for new natural gas combined cycle units without add-on controls, but it would force new coal or petroleum coke units to install carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, which is currently commercially unavailable, the agency acknowledged. Read More »

Minnesota nonprofits protest out-of-state pipeline

Minnesota nonprofits protest out-of-state pipeline
Minnesota nonprofits protest out-of-state pipeline
Three Minnesota environmental nonprofit advocacy groups have received nearly half a million dollars in out-of-state foundation funding to oppose the Keystone oil pipeline project, according to a Freedom Foundation of Minnesota analysis. The California funding to state groups comes as a surprise, since Keystone’s proposed route does not include Minnesota. Read & Comment

API, Joint Industry Task Forces release reports on offshore safety

API, Joint Industry Task Forces release reports on offshore safety
API and the Joint Industry Task Forces released the final of three reports and a progress report of the fourth.
Full Article

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

UCS Applauds New EPA Carbon Standards

UCS Applauds New EPA Carbon Standards

Union of Concerned Scientists President Kevin Knobloch says the EPA's carbon standards for new power plants is a "historic step toward a cleaner, healthier and more modern energy future for America."

Moving the Needle with Coal and the EPA

Moving the Needle with Coal and the EPA

20091122_clinchThe Environmental Protection Agency has released a proposed rule that indicates, absent more progress (effective, scalable, reasonably economical progress) on carbon capture and sequestration, the days of coal are, perhaps, numbered:
The proposed rule — years in the making and approved by the White House after months of review — will require any new power plant to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt of electricity produced. The average U.S. natural gas plant, which emits 800 to 850 pounds of CO2 per megawatt, meets that standard; coal plants emit an average of 1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt.

Could the Climate Change Act be used to curb new gas-fired plants?

Could the Climate Change Act be used to curb new gas-fired plants?

DECC's decision to set EPCs at 450gCO2/kWh could be open to legal challenge. It is now fashionable to term natural gas a “transitional" fuel on the road to a low or zero carbon economy at some vague point in the fuzzy future.

BP enters shale oil quest in Ohio

BP enters shale oil quest in Ohio

Houston (UPI) Mar 27, 2012
BP will explore for shale oil and natural gas in northeast Ohio after it acquired lease on thousands of acres of potentially energy-rich land in the state. BP said Tuesday its exploration program will focus on the Utica/Point Pleasant shale formation, which its experts say is "very promising." The European company is the latest oil major to enter one of the latest North American

Study by Haverford College professor reveals unprecedented impact of Deepwater Horizon on deep ocean

Study by Haverford College professor reveals unprecedented impact of Deepwater Horizon on deep ocean

Haverford PA (SPX) Mar 28, 2012
Scientists report they have "compelling evidence" that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has impacted deep-sea corals. Their study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA ("Impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on a deep-water coral community in the Gulf of Mexico") utilized a wide range of underwater vehicles, including the submarine Alvin, to investigate

UN hits water target, but 2 billion people still drinking unsafe water

UN hits water target, but 2 billion people still drinking unsafe water

Chapel Hill NC (SPX) Mar 28, 2012
Recent widespread news coverage heralded the success of a United Nations' goal of greatly improving access to safe drinking water around the world. But while major progress has been made, a new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill indicates that far greater challenges persist than headline statistics suggested.

Recommendations from the 2nd Symposium on Fish Aggregating Devices 2011

Recommendations from the 2nd Symposium on Fish Aggregating Devices 2011

 Recommendations from the 2nd Symposium on Fish Aggregating Devices 2011

From the Summary:

In the open ocean, tuna purse-seine operators profit from large pelagic fishes’ propensity to aggregate around drifting objects. They do so by fishing around FADs that have been deliberately set adrift for fishing purposes, and which are monitored by electronic tracking beacons. These drifting FADs (dFADs) are tools that have greatly increased catches of tuna around the globe. In fact, global catch of tuna from around dFADs accounts for about 43% of the 4.2 million tonnes of skipjack, bigeye, and yellowfin caught annually. However, the uncontrolled proliferation of dFADs deployed throughout the world’s oceans is a major concern of fisheries managers, environmentalists, and fishermen alike due to the impacts of dFAD fisheries on juvenile bigeye and yellowfin tuna, vulnerable sharks and sea turtle species, and the broader marine environment.

In November 2011, over 150 industry, science, and fisheries policy experts from 40 countries attended the International Symposium, “Tuna Fisheries and FADs,”* to discuss the challenges with FAD fisheries, and recommend best practices for responsible management of the world’s most prominent tuna fishing gear.

Symposium Conclusions:

•The unconstrained proliferation of dFADs has resulted in negative impacts on target and non-target species.

•Increased dFAD use has led to large increases in fishing mortality of juvenile yellowfin and bigeye tuna, which contributes to “growth overfishing”— the catching of too many fish before they reach a size at which maximum growth and productivity would be obtained from the stock.

•Bycatch levels for dFAD fisheries are high, and include catches of oceanic sharks, marine turtles, billfish and some pelagic bony fish.

Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX) -- IPCC

Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX) -- IPCC

The IPCC released its Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX). The report assesses the evidence that climate change has led to changes in climate extremes and the extent to which policies to avoid prepare for, respond to and recover from the risks of disaster can reduce the impact of such events

World scientists define united approach to tackling food insecurity

World scientists define united approach to tackling food insecurity
Nearly one billion people in the world are undernourished, while millions suffer from chronic disease due to excess food consumption. Global demand is growing for agricultural products and food prices are rising, yet roughly one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. Climate change threatens more frequent drought, flooding and pest outbreaks, and the world loses 12 million hectares of agricultural land each year to land degradation. Land clearing and inefficient practices make agriculture the largest source of greenhouse gas pollution on the planet.

The Beginning of the End for Coal?

By Geoffrey Styles, March 28, 2012
I saw in Tuesday's Washington Post that the EPA was ready to issue its proposed rules for CO2 emissions from new power plants. When finalized, these rules would apply to facilities larger than 25 MW that begin construction more than a year hence. As the Post notes, the chosen CO2 emissions limit of 1,000 lb. per gross Megawatt-hour (MWh) generated would make it virtually impossible for a new...  » Continue...

The EPA's coal mandate: An opportunity for nuclear, a giveaway for natural gas

By Steve Skutnik, March 28, 2012
Today the EPA issued its first-ever regulation on carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants, limiting emissions to 1000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt. Given the fact that the average coal plant vastly exceeds this limit (weighing in around 1,768 lbs CO2 per megawatt-hour), the implications of the move seem rather obvious - essentially banning new coal plants without carbon capture and...  » Continue...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

UCS Applauds New EPA Carbon Standards

UCS Applauds New EPA Carbon Standards

Union of Concerned Scientists President Kevin Knobloch says the EPA's carbon standards for new power plants is a "historic step toward a cleaner, healthier and more modern energy future for America."

West Antarctic ice shelves tearing apart at the seams

West Antarctic ice shelves tearing apart at the seams
A new study examining nearly 40 years of satellite imagery has revealed that the floating ice shelves of a critical portion of West Antarctica are steadily losing their grip on adjacent bay walls, potentially amplifying an already accelerating loss of ice to the sea.

US sets new carbon standard for power plants

US sets new carbon standard for power plants
The United States said Tuesday it was setting the first national standards on carbon emissions from power plants, taking aim at the burning of coal which is considered a top culprit in climate change.

Why the Right to Water Is Under Attack

Why the Right to Water Is Under Attack

World leaders are trying to roll back momentum that would instill the right to water as an essential human right.

Could the Climate Change Act be used to curb new gas-fired plants?

By David Thorpe, March 27, 2012
DECC's decision to set EPCs at 450gCO2/kWh could be open to legal challenge. It is now fashionable to term natural gas a “transitional" fuel on the road to a low or zero carbon economy at some vague point in the fuzzy future. Just as many thought carbon capture and storage would be a “get out of jail free" card enabling business as usual (note: this does not include the International Panel on...  » Continue...

Summer in March?

By Dan Huber, March 27, 2012
If you live in the central or eastern United States and have been outside lately, you can attest to the downright summery weather we’ve been experiencing. In fact this March, weather is not just unusual; it is unprecedented. In Detroit, there has not been a comparable spring heat wave since 1886, and that warm spell occurred a full month later (April 16-24). In Chicago, last week’s high...  » Continue...

Planned Pipelines to Rival Keystone XL Wall Street Journal

Planned Pipelines to Rival Keystone XL Wall Street Journal

Monday, March 26, 2012

How Global Warming Causes Extreme Weather Patterns

How Global Warming Causes Extreme Weather Patterns

One claim frequently heard regarding extreme heat waves goes something like this: “Since this heat wave broke the previous record by 5°C, global warming can’t have much to do with it since that has been only 1°C over the 20th century”. Here we explain why we find this logic doubly flawed.One can ask two different questions about the influence of global warming on heat waves (Otto et al. 2012), and we take them in turn.1. How much hotter did global warming make this heat wave?We have some trouble with framing the question…Read more...

Catastrophic Climate Change to Hit Africa and the Middle East within a Decade

Catastrophic Climate Change to Hit Africa and the Middle East within a Decade

A new study just published in Nature Geoscience has found it plausible for the first time that the world’s average surface temperature could rise by as much as 5 degrees Fahrenheit (3 C.) by 2050, only 38 years from now. In February, the United Nations warned that the world only has a few years to substantially reduce its dependence on hydrocarbons, if it was to avoid the disasters facing the earth with a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees C. The likelihood that such a rise in temperature can be avoided is now low (emissions were up…Read more...

The Truth About Natural Gas From Shale

The Truth About Natural Gas From Shale

Natural gas from shale is a game-changer for the United States. 

NASA measures impact of huge solar flare on Earth's atmosphere

NASA measures impact of huge solar flare on Earth's atmosphere

A key NASA instrument that can directly measure the impact of solar events on Earth's upper atmosphere has weighed in on the huge flare that impacted Earth last week.

Some Gulf dolphins severely ill after Gulf oil spill

Some Gulf dolphins severely ill after Gulf oil spill

Bottlenose dolphins in Barataria Bay, Louisiana, are showing signs of severe ill health, according to marine mammal biologists. Barataria Bay, located in the northern Gulf of Mexico, received heavy and prolonged exposure to oil during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Natural Gas Isn't a 'Kinder, Gentler' Energy

Natural Gas Isn't a 'Kinder, Gentler' Energy

Michael Brune, USA Today
The natural gas industry that we know today is dirty, dangerous and putting American families at risk. While so many are focused on the quick profits to be made off this resource, natural gas drillers remain exempt from aspects of landmark health and environmental protections such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. . .

Court compels FDA to heed its own research on antibiotics use in livestock Chicago Tribune.


Court compels FDA to heed its own research on antibiotics use in livestock Chicago Tribune.

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson Testimony Before the U.S. Senate, Committee on Environment and Public Works


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 22, 2012

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson Testimony Before the U.S. Senate, Committee on Environment and Public Works

WASHINGTON -
As prepared for delivery.

Thank you for inviting me to testify on the President's Fiscal Year 2013 budget for the Environmental Protection Agency. I'm joined by the agency's Chief Financial Officer, Barbara Bennett.
EPA's budget request of $8.344 billion focuses on fulfilling EPA's core mission of protecting public health and the environment, while making the sacrifices and tough decisions that Americans across the country are making every day.

EPA's budget request fully reflects the President's commitment to reducing government spending and finding cost savings in a responsible manner while supporting clean air, clean water and the innovative safe guards that are essential to an America that's built to last. In some cases we have had to take a step back from programs - this budget reflects a savings of $50 million through the elimination of several EPA programs and activities that have either met their goals, or can be achieved at the state or local level or by other federal agencies.

Let me spend a moment discussing major elements of EPA's budget request. This budget recognizes the importance of our partners at the state, local and tribal level. As you know, they are at the front lines of implementing our environmental laws like the Clean Water Act, and the Clean Air Act. In fact, the largest portion – 40 percent of EPA's funding request – is directed to the state and tribal assistance grants appropriation to support their efforts.

Specifically, this budget proposes that $1.2 billion - nearly 15 percent of EPA's overall request - be allocated back to the states and tribes, through categorical grants. This includes funding for state and local air quality management grants, pollution control grants and the tribal general assistance program.
The budget also proposes that a combined $2 billion - another 25 percent of EPA's budget request - also goes directly to the states for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds. This funding will help support efficient system wide investments and development of water infrastructure in our communities. We are working collaboratively to identify opportunities to fund green infrastructure - projects that can reduce pollution efficiently and less expensively than traditional grey infrastructure.

Additionally, EPA's budget request would fund the protection of the nation’s land and water in local communities. Reflecting the President's commitment to restoring and protecting the Great Lakes, this budget requests that Congress maintain the current funding level of $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. This support will continue to be used for collaborative work with partners at the state, local and tribal level, and also with non-profit and municipal groups. The budget also requests support for protection of the Chesapeake Bay, and several other treasured and economically significant water bodies. The budget reflects the importance of cleaning up contaminated land sites in our communities by requesting $755 million for continued support of the Superfund cleanup programs and maintains the agency’s emergency preparedness and response capabilities.
EPA's budget request makes major investments in its science and technology account of $807 million, or almost 10 percent of the total request. This request includes $576 million for research, including $81 million in research grants and fellowships to scientists and universities throughout the country for targeted research as part of the Science to Achieve Results - or STAR – program, including children’s health, endocrine disruption, and air monitoring research. Also, as part of this request, EPA includes funding increases into key areas that include green infrastructure and hydraulic fracturing.

As I've mentioned before, natural gas is an important resource which is abundant in the United States, but we must make sure that the ways we extract it do not risk the safety of public water supplies. This budget continues EPA's ongoing congressionally directed hydraulic fracturing study, which we have taken great steps to ensure is independent, peer reviewed and based on strong and scientifically defensible data. Building on these ongoing efforts, this budget requests $14 million in total to work collaboratively with the United States Geological Survey, the Department of Energy and other partners to assess questions regarding hydraulic fracturing. Strong science means finding the answers to tough questions, and EPA's request does that.

We are making investments to support standards for clean energy and efficiency in this budget. Specifically, this budget supports EPA’s efforts to introduce cleaner vehicles and fuels and to expand the use of home-grown renewable fuels. This includes funding for EPA’s Federal Vehicle and Fuel Standards and Certification program to support certification, and compliance testing for all emissions standards. This also includes implementation of the President's historic agreement with the auto industry for carbon pollution and fuel economy standards through 2025 for cars and light duty vehicles, including testing support for NHTSA’s fuel economy standards.

Taken together, the Administration’s standards for cars and light trucks are projected to result in $1.7 trillion dollars of fuel savings, and 12 billion fewer barrels of oil consumed. This funding will also help support implementation of the first ever carbon pollution and fuel economy standards for heavy duty trucks.

Stepping back from EPA’s budget request, let me spend a moment discussing the impact of a sequester. Madam Chairwoman, as you know, as part of the Budget Control Act, through a sequestration, spending may be forced to be slashed in an irresponsible manner that can endanger the public health protections that we rely on and not invest in an America that's built to last. By design the sequester is bad policy, bringing about deep cuts in defense and non-defense spending to act as an incentive for congressional action on deficit reduction.

Even without the sequester, discretionary spending has already been cut in nominal terms for two straight years. Under the Budget Control Act, it is on a path to reach its lowest level as a share of GDP since the Eisenhower Administration.

If the sequester were to happen, it would bring another round of deep cuts in discretionary spending. Although the Administration is continuing to analyze the impact of the sequester, the Congressional Budget Office has said that in 2013, the sequester would result in a 7.8 percent cut in nonsecurity discretionary accounts that are not exempt from the sequester. It would be impossible for us to manage cuts of that magnitude and still achieve our fundamental mission to protect human health and the environment.

The sequester would thus have a devastating effect on our country's ability to conduct the following activities over the long haul: A sequester would result in deep cuts to EPA’s Operating Budget, which includes funds for the enforcement of public health and environmental protections. It would significantly harm our ability to help state and local governments finance needed drinking water and wastewater projects that provide communities clean and safe water. A sequester also would slash EPA grants that help states carry out basic functions that protect human health and the environment like water quality permitting and air quality monitoring. The sequester would impair progress on the country's ability to clean up the nation’s hazardous waste sites over the long haul.

The President has been clear that Congress needs to avoid a sequester by passing a balanced deficit reduction - at least as much as the Budget Control Act required of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to avoid sequestration. The President’s Budget reflects such a balanced proposal, and we believe Congress should enact it and cancel the sequester.

Madam Chairwoman, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. While my testimony reflects only some of the highlights of EPA's budget request, I look forward to answering your questions.

Rules Proposed to Limit New Uses of Potentially Harmful Chemicals

Rules Proposed to Limit New Uses of Potentially Harmful Chemicals

EPA also calls for additional testing on health and environmental impacts of PBDEs
               
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed that companies be required to report to EPA all new uses, including in domestic or imported products, of five groups of potentially harmful chemicals. Over the years, these chemicals have been used in a range of consumer products and industrial applications, including paints, printing inks, pigments and dyes in textiles, flame retardants in flexible foams, and plasticizers. This action is part of EPA’s work to ensure chemical safety in order to protect Americans’ health and the environment.

The five chemicals EPA is targeting are polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs), benzidine dyes, a short chain chlorinated paraffin, hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), and phthalate di-n-pentyl phthalate (DnPP). The agency is also proposing additional testing on the health and environmental effects of PBDEs.

“Although a number of these chemicals are no longer manufactured or used in the U.S. they can still be imported in consumer goods or for use in products. Today’s proposed actions will ensure that EPA has an opportunity to review new uses of the chemicals, whether they are domestically produced or imported, and if warranted, take action to prohibit or limit the activity before human health or environmental effects can occur,” said Jim Jones, EPA’s acting assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “These actions also signal EPA’s ongoing commitment to the American people that the agency is taking significant steps to make sure that the chemicals manufactured and used in this country are safe.”

The proposed regulatory actions are known as significant new use rules (SNUR) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The proposed rules would require that anyone who intends to manufacture, import, or process any of the chemicals for an activity that is designated as a significant new use to submit a notification to EPA at least 90 days before beginning the activity. This notification means EPA can evaluate the intended new use and take action to prohibit or limit that activity, if warranted. For PBDEs, the agency will also issue simultaneously a proposed test rule under section 4(a) of TSCA that would require manufacturers or processors to conduct testing on health and environmental effects of PBDEs.

Today’s proposed SNURs were identified in action plans the agency issued on these and other chemicals during the last two years. Information on these chemical-specific rules and the agency’s action plans, including additional actions under consideration or development, can be found at http://www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/  

Study reveals unprecedented impact of Deepwater Horizon on deep ocean

Study reveals unprecedented impact of Deepwater Horizon on deep ocean
Scientists report they have "compelling evidence" that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has impacted deep-sea corals. Their study, published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences utilized a wide range of underwater vehicles, including the submarine Alvin, to investigate the corals and comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography to determine precisely the source of petroleum hydrocarbons found.

New simulation predicts higher average Earth temperatures by 2050 than other models

New simulation predicts higher average Earth temperatures by 2050 than other models
(PhysOrg.com) -- Over the past several years, researchers have built a variety of computer simulations created to predict Earth’s climate in the future. Most recently, most models have suggested that over the next fifty years, we’ll see an average worldwide rise in temperature of perhaps 1°C. Now a new group of simulations, using the combined computing power of thousands of personal computers, says that number is too low, and that we might see temperatures rise as much as 3°C, which would of course, be a far more serious situation. The simulations, run by climateprediction.net in conjunction with the BBC Climate Change Experiment, resulted in predictions of a rise in temperature ranging from 1.4°C to 3.0°C by 2050. The large team involved in the project has published their findings in Nature Geoscience.

New research can save tropical forests

New research can save tropical forests
Scientists from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have investigated how much carbon the natural forests of Sri Lanka contain. The results are important for work to reduce deforestation of tropical countries, and for international negotiations in climate policy relating to a new climate agreement.

Auburn scientists find tar balls are better left alone

Auburn scientists find tar balls are better left alone
(PhysOrg.com) -- The April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the waves of tar balls deposited on the beaches shortly thereafter prompted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to produce a tar ball fact sheet. Among the factoids was one stating that those sticky, coin-sized clumps of weathered oil, though unsightly and annoying, are not a human health hazard.

Neighbors Win Court Round Over Wind Farm Noise



http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/23/neighbors-win-court-round-over-wind-farm-noise/

March 23, 2012, 6:55 pm

Neighbors Win Court Round Over Wind Farm Noise

By DIANE CARDWELL
Matt McInnis for The New York Times

One of the three wind turbines in Vinalhaven, Me., illuminated by moonlight. The turbines, which residents say are especially noisy at night, have red flashing lights to alert low-flying aircraft.
A legal petition aimed at reinstating a state rule for limiting noise at a controversial wind farm in Maine can proceed, a judge ruled on Friday, denying a motion from the farm’s developer, Fox Islands Wind, for dismissal.
Since the farm – three 1.5 megawatt turbines – began operating on the island of Vinalhaven in late 2009, neighbors have complained about the noise from its 123-foot spinning blades, especially at night. After receiving many complaints, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection found in 2010 that the installation had been too noisy on two occasions. In 2011, Fox Islands Wind submitted a new operating procedure to remedy those infractions.
The state agency then drafted a new set of rules, a condition compliance order, that accepted the wind company’s proposal but added a requirement that it actively show it was complying during certain testing periods and to stop operating if it was not.
Then last June, according to Friday’s ruling, Patricia Aho, a deputy environmental commissioner and former lobbyist for the power company’s law firm, took over as acting environmental commissioner. She finalized the new regulations but removed the provision that Fox Islands actively prove its compliance.

The next month, the group of neighbors filed their petition to review that order, saying that it was “politically motivated, arbitrary and capricious, contrary to law, unsupported by substantial evidence, and the product of an abuse of discretion,” Judge Michaela Murphy of Kennebec County Superior Court noted in Friday’s ruling.
The power company then filed a motion to dismiss the petition, saying that the court did not have jurisdiction over the matter. But Judge Murphy found that it did.
Whether or not Ms. Aho’s decision ultimately holds up, she said, its legality or lack thereof “must be argued and considered at a later stage of these proceedings.”

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Assess global freshwater stress using new tool

Assess global freshwater stress using new tool

A new method to make better use of vast amounts of data related to global geography, population and climate may help determine the relative importance of population increases vs. climate change.

Extreme weather of last decade part of larger pattern linked to global warming

Extreme weather of last decade part of larger pattern linked to global warming

The past decade has been one of unprecedented weather extremes. Scientists now argue that the high incidence of extremes is not merely accidental. From the many single events a pattern emerges. At least for extreme rainfall and heat waves the link with human-caused global warming is clear, the scientists show in a new analysis of scientific evidence.

The World is Thirsty

The World is Thirsty

Governments often struggle to find solutions to water shortage issues. As such, the IAEA is one of the agencies they reach out to, to help them solve their problems by finding more water and managing their existing resources more effectively. One of the ways the Agency does this is through The IAEA Water Availability Enhancement Project (IWAVE).
There are one billion people in the world without access to safe drinking water, while only about 15% of the world's population have enough (and sometimes more than enough) drinkable water.
Governments often struggle to find solutions to water shortage issues. As such, the IAEA is one of the agencies they reach out to, to help them solve their problems by finding more water and managing their existing resources more effectively.
Comprehensive information about water quality, how much there is, where it's located, as well as how this water is replenished, proves invaluable. It is needed to determine how best to allocate water resources to meet the needs of growing numbers of city dwellers, larger populations that need more food to survive, farmers who need water for their crops, and industry.
"The IAEA Water Availability Enhancement Project (IWAVE), which is in its third year, helps IAEA Member States figure out what information they need, and fill those information gaps," says Pradeep Aggarwal, Head of the IAEA's Isotope Hydrology Section.
"If a Member State needs to have its staff trained in the best ways to carry out hydrological assessments, that's what we'll do. If they need an expert to come to their country to provide advice and consultation, then we do that. There are any number of ways that we can, and do, get involved in their water management efforts, enabling national experts to conduct independent assessments, as well as continually update hydrological information," says Aggarwal.
"IWAVE also helps countries interpret water resources data, and use advanced techniques to simulate hydrological systems, which improves their ability to manage water resources," he says.
Oman, the Philippines and Costa Rica are now participating in the pilot phase of the IWAVE project, which should build on, and complement, other international, regional, and national initiatives to provide decision makers with reliable tools for better management of their water resources.
"By becoming more knowledgeable about your own resources, not only do you improve your water use and availability, but you are also better able to deal with and cooperate with your neighbours who share your resources," said Charles Dunning, Water Resources Advisor in the IAEA's Isotope Hydrology Section.
-- By Sasha Henriques, IAEA Division of Public Information

U.K. lifts Chernobyl restrictions on sheep

U.K. lifts Chernobyl restrictions on sheep

London (UPI) Mar 23, 2012
Restrictions on hundreds of British sheep farms, in place since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, have finally been lifted after 26 years, officials said. The 1986 disaster affected 10,000 farms in the United Kingdom and restrictions meant before farmers could sell livestock the animals' radiation levels had to be monitored

Chemical pollution in Europe's Seas

Chemical pollution in Europe's Seas

Paris, France (SPX) Mar 26, 2012
New Marine Board-ESF position paper sheds light on the gaps in our efforts to monitor and regulate chemical pollution in Europe's seas According to a recent poll of more than 10,000 citizens from ten European countries, pollution is the primary concern of the public at large among all issues that threaten the marine environment.

Small clique of nations dominate global trading web of food and water

Small clique of nations dominate global trading web of food and water

Washington DC (SPX) Mar 26, 2012
It's not easy, or economically feasible, to ship freshwater across the globe. But when scientists use food as a proxy for that water - taking into account how much crops are irrigated and livestock are fed - they can get a glimpse of the flow of freshwater between countries.

Director Cameron reaches bottom of Mariana Trench

Director Cameron reaches bottom of Mariana Trench

Washington (AFP) March 25, 2012
"Titanic" director James Cameron reached the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean in his solo submarine, mission partner the National Geographic said Sunday. The explorer and filmmaker reached a depth of 35,756 feet (10,898 meters) at 7:52 am Monday local time (2152 GMT Sunday) in the Mariana Trench in his specially designed submersible, according to mission partner National Geographic.




Jame Cameron has reached Challenger Deep March 25, 2012 at 5:52 PM EST

At 5:52 PM EST March 25, 2012. James Cameron has reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench on a solo dive

His depth on arrival: 35,756 feet (10,898 meters)—a figure unattainable anywhere else in the ocean.

Reaching bottom, the National Geographic explorer and filmmaker typed out welcome words for the cheering support crew waiting at the surface: “All systems OK.”


The National Geographic has coverage

Sackett v. EPA -- US S.Ct.

Sackett v. EPA -- US S.Ct.

SACKETT v. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY decision

From the Syllabus:

The Sacketts may bring a civil action under the APA to challengethe issuance of the EPA’s order. Pp. 4–10.

(a) The APA provides for judicial review of “final agency action for which there is no other adequate remedy in a court.” 5 U. S. C. §704.The compliance order here has all the hallmarks of APA finality. Through it, the EPA “determined” “rights or obligations,” Bennett v. Spear, 520 U. S. 154, 178, requiring the Sacketts to restore theirproperty according to an agency-approved plan and to give the EPA access. Also, “legal consequences . . . flow” from the order, ibid., which, according to the Government’s litigating position, exposes theSacketts to double penalties in future enforcement proceedings. The order also severely limits their ability to obtain a permit for their fillfrom the Army Corps of Engineers, see 33 U. S. C. §1344; 33 CFR§326.3(e)(1)(iv). Further, the order’s issuance marks the “consummation” of the agency’s decisionmaking process, Bennett, supra, at 178, for the EPA’s findings in the compliance order were not subject tofurther agency review. The Sacketts also had “no other adequateremedy in a court,” 5 U. S. C. §704. A civil action brought by the EPAunder 33 U. S. C. §1319 ordinarily provides judicial review in suchcases, but the Sacketts cannot initiate that process. And each day they wait, they accrue additional potential liability. Applying to the Corps of Engineers for a permit and then filing suit under the APA if that permit is denied also does not provide an adequate remedy for the EPA’s action. Pp. 4–6.
(b) The Clean Water Act is not a statute that “preclude[s] judicial review” under the APA, 5 U. S. C. §701(a)(1). The APA creates a “presumption favoring judicial review of administrative action.” Block v. Community Nutrition Institute, 467 U. S. 340, 349. While this presumption “may be overcome by inferences of intent drawn from the statutory scheme as a whole,” ibid., the Government’s arguments do not support an inference that the Clean Water Act’s statutory scheme precludes APA review. Pp. 7–10.

Final Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines -- DOI

Final Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines -- DOI

The Department of the Interior has issued Final Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines

The Department of the Interior today released guidelines designed to help wind energy project developers avoid and minimize impacts of land-based wind projects on wildlife and their habitats. The voluntary guidelines will help shape the smart siting, design and operation of the nation's growing wind energy economy.

Draft Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance -- DOI

Draft Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance -- DOI

The Department of the Interior has created a Draft Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance document that addresses Wind Enery issues:

From the Fact Sheet:

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a Final Eagle Permit Rule (Eagle Permit Rule) on September 11, 2009 under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (Eagle Act) authorizing limited issuance of permits to take Bald and Golden eagles where the take is associated with but not the purpose of an otherwise lawful activity. The Eagle Protection Act has prohibited take of Bald Eagles since 1940 and Golden Eagles since 1962. Take means pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, destroy, molest, or disturb. Since publication of the Eagle Rule, the planned development of wind-power facilities has increased dramatically in the core range of Golden Eagles in the western United States. Golden Eagles, in particular, are vulnerable to collisions with wind turbines. In some areas such collisions are a major source of mortality, and the documented level of take is increasing.

2001-2010 warmest decade on record: WMO

2001-2010 warmest decade on record: WMO
Climate change has accelerated in the past decade, the UN weather agency said Friday, releasing data showing that 2001 to 2010 was the warmest decade on record.

Breaking Up with the Sierra Club Orion Magazine.

Breaking Up with the Sierra Club Orion Magazine.

Weather records due to climate change: A game with loaded dice

Weather records due to climate change: A game with loaded dice
The past decade has been one of unprecedented weather extremes. Scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany argue that the high incidence of extremes is not merely accidental. From the many single events a pattern emerges. At least for extreme rainfall and heat waves the link with human-caused global warming is clear, the scientists show in a new analysis of scientific evidence in the journal Nature Climate Change. Less clear is the link between warming and storms, despite the observed increase in the intensity of hurricanes.