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Friday, July 30, 2010

House Passes CLEAR Act (Gulf Spill/Energy Bill)

The House of Representatives passed the Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources Act of 2010 [CLEAR Act (H.R. 3534) --its Gulf Spill/Energy bill response] [Latest Version] today by a vote of 209 to 193 with one voting present. The legislation was sponsored by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), right, and directly responds to the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, increases oil rig safety to prevent the next catastrophe, and reduces the federal deficit by $5.3 billion over the next five years.

Specific provisions of the CLEAR Act would:

Add teeth to the President's Commission on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill by giving the Commission subpoena power so they can get the answers they need to get to the bottom of what actually happened. The House passed similar legislation (H.R. 5481) on June 23, 2010.

Ensure that American taxpayers are not left on the hook to bail out oil companies by increasing the liability limits and the financial responsibility requirements on offshore facilities so responsible parties will cover 100 percent of the oil pollution cleanup costs and damages caused by spills they create.

Close royalty loopholes that allow companies to get away with shortchanging the American people, including provisions designed to do away with the ability for companies to pay zero royalties during times of high oil prices - consumers paying sky-high gas prices that fuel record profits should not face the indignity of receiving no royalty on the sale of the public's oil.

Make good on the promise that money obtained from the sale of the public's resources be used to protect and conserve our natural, historical, and recreational resources by providing mandatory full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF).

Create a new trust fund for the oceans so that funds raised from drilling in our oceans will also go toward protecting and improving our oceans. It would also establish a Gulf of Mexico Restoration Program to coordinate the efforts to return the Gulf to health following the oil rig explosion.

Establish new procedures for the use of chemical dispersants to ensure their safety to water quality and the environment. (House Natural Resources Committee)
Companion legislation in the Senate:

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced oil spill/energy legislation on Tuesday. The ‘‘Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Company Accountability Act of 2010’’ includes four sections: 1) BP accountability, 2) Natural Gas Vehicle Act, 3) Home Star and Land/Water Conservation) and 4) increases the $2.7 billion liability cap of the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to $5 billion and increases the amount that oil companies are required to pay into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to 49 cents per barrel.

Clean Energy, Economy & Security Forum at The White House

On Wednesday the White House, hosted an energy forum that brought more than 130 stakeholders– civilian and uniformed officials from the Department of Defense (DOD), policy makers from the Department of Energy (DOE), think tanks, and business entrepreneurs – together for a discussion on the importance of clean energy.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, delivered the keynote address, and highlighted not just the great progress happening at the Department of the Navy in terms of greening its fleet, powering its jets with biofuels, and testing new, experimental technology in efficiency and alternative energy, but also underscored just how much further we have to go to ensure our energy independence. Deputy Secretary Dan Poneman of the Department of Energy echoed these sentiments, and challenged the audience to think about ways in which our challenges might instead be viewed as opportunities for both improved mission capability, and an enhanced energy security.

EPA Proposes One Year Compliance Date Extension on Spill Prevention Rule for Certain Facilities

Offshore drilling, production, and certain onshore facilities are not eligible for extension

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to extend the compliance date by one year for certain facilities subject to recent amendments to the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule. The agency is also announcing that certain facilities will not be eligible for the one year extension and will have to comply by the current date of November 10, 2010.

Last year, EPA amended the SPCC rule to strengthen certain provisions. Regulated facilities are required to amend and implement these changes as part of their overall SPCC plans. The purpose of the SPCC rule, which was finalized in 1973, is to establish requirements for facilities to prevent a discharge of oil into navigable waters or adjoining shorelines. EPA has no SPCC jurisdiction over drilling, production or workover facilities seaward of the coastline.

Types of facilities not eligible for proposed extension that must comply by November 10, 2010:

Drilling, production or workover facilities that are offshore or that have an offshore component, or onshore facilities required to have and submit facility response plans (FRPs), due to the threats these facilities could pose of significant oil spills to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines.
Types of facilities that may be eligible for the proposed one year extension:

Oil production, farms, electric utility plants, petroleum refining and related industries, chemical manufacturing, food manufacturing, manufacturing facilities using and storing animal fats and vegetable oils, metal and other manufacturing, real estate rental and leasing, retail trade, contract construction, wholesale trade, other commercial, transportation, arts entertainment & recreation, other services (except public administration), petroleum bulk stations and terminals, education, hospitals & other health care, accommodation and food services, fuel oil dealers, gasoline stations, information finance and insurance, mining, warehousing and storage, religious organizations, military installations, and government facilities.
In summary, the proposed rule would:
· Extend the date by which the owners or operators of certain facilities must prepare or amend and implement an SPCC plan by one year to November 10, 2011

· Delay the compliance date for facilities with milk containers that are constructed according to the current applicable 3-A sanitary standards, and subject to the current applicable grade “A” pasteurized milk ordinance (PMO) or a state dairy regulatory requirement equivalent to the current applicable PMO until one year after EPA finalizes a rule for these facilities.

· Maintain the current November 10, 2010 compliance date for drilling, production and workover facilities that are offshore or that have an offshore component, and for onshore facilities required to have and submit FRPs.

· Reconcile the proposed compliance dates for new production facilities The proposed amendments do not remove the regulatory requirement for owners or operators of facilities in operation before August 16, 2002 (other than facilities with milk containers described above), to maintain and continue implementing an SPCC plan in accordance with the SPCC regulations then in effect.
EPA is seeking comment on whether a shorter extension period (6 to 9 months) is warranted for facilities rather than the proposed one year extension. In considering a shorter compliance extension period, we request comments on the criteria to consider, such as discharge history, size and type of facility, potential risk posed, and ability to come into compliance. The public has the opportunity to comment on the proposed rule during a 15-day period following its publication in the Federal Register.

More information on the proposed rule

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Do Not Permanently 'Kill' the Macondo Well

PRESIDENT'S CORNER

By Norris McDonald

Why is it just assumed that the Macondo Field should be permanently closed? Who made this decision? BP? The Obama administration? Who? Admittedly the Macondo well spewed up to 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in an unprecedented environmental disaster, but now that the well is under control, why seal it permanently? A production well could generate money to help BP, and its partners at the site, Anadarko and Mitsui, pay for damaged economies in the region. Somebody help me here because I just don't get it.

A temporary cap has held in the oil for the past two weeks. The “bottom kill” will permanently seal the Macondo well through one of the two relief wells drilled 13,000 feet below the seafloor. The relief well will deposit a combination of drilling mud, cement, liquids, and nitrogen to stop the flow of oil – perhaps as early as August 7. That operation will come after “static kill,” which has a tentative start date of next Monday. Static kill would deposit the same mixture of materials into the top of the well. Unlike “top kill” in late May, which employed the same tactic, static kill is considered a more realistic solution to preventing oil flow because the container cap, installed in mid-July, is providing a tighter seal around the wellhead and therefore won't allow oil and gas to escape.

The lines will each be fitted with a 2,000-foot internal casing pipe that will carry the materials downward. Once they are in place, the static kill operation will occur, likely Monday. The entire endeavor is set to prepare the launch of the relief well operation. (The Christian Science Monitor, 7/26/2010)

EPA Rejects Claims of Flawed Climate Science

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today denied 10 petitions challenging its 2009 determination that climate change is real, is occurring due to emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities, and threatens human health and the environment. The petitions to reconsider EPA’s Endangerment Finding claim that climate science cannot be trusted, and assert a conspiracy thati nvalidates the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the U.S.Global Change Research Program. After months of serious consideration ofthe petitions and of the state of climate change science, EPA finds no evidence to support these claims. In contrast, EPA’s review shows thatclimate science is credible, compelling, and growing stronger.

The basic assertions by the petitioners and EPA responses follow.

Claim: Petitioners say that emails disclosed from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit provide evidence of a conspiracy tomanipulate global temperature data. Response: EPA reviewed every e-mail and found this was simply a candiddiscussion of scientists working through issues that arise in compilingand presenting large complex data sets. Four other independent reviewscame to similar conclusions.

Claim: Petitioners say that errors in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report call the entire body of work into question. Response: Of the alleged errors, EPA confirmed only two in a 3,000 page report. The first pertains to the rate of Himalayan glacier melt and second to the percentage of the Netherlands below sea level. IPCC issued correction statements for both of these errors. The errors have nobearing on Administrator Jackson’s decision. None of the errors undermines the basic facts that the climate is changing in ways that threaten our health and welfare.

Claim: Petitioners say that because certain studies were not included in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, the IPCC itself is biased and cannot be trusted as a source of reliable information. Response: These claims are incorrect. In fact, the studies in question were included in the IPCC report, which provided a comprehensive and balanced discussion of climate science.

Claim: Petitioners say that new scientific studies refute evidence supporting the Endangerment Finding.Response: Petitioners misinterpreted the results of these studies. Contrary to their claims, many of the papers they submit as evidence are consistent with EPA’s Finding. Other studies submitted by the petitioners were based on unsound methodologies. Detailed discussion of these issues may be found in volume one of the response to petition documents, on EPA’s website.

Climate change is already happening, and human activity is a contributor. The global warming trend over the past 100 years isconfirmed by three separate records of surface temperature, all of whichare confirmed by satellite data. Beyond this, evidence of climate changeis seen in melting ice in the Arctic, melting glaciers around the world,increasing ocean temperatures, rising sea levels, shifting precipitationpatterns, and changing ecosystems and wildlife habitats.

“America’s Climate Choices,” a report from the National Academy ofSciences and the most recent assessment of the full body of scientificliterature on climate change, along with the recently released “State ofthe Climate” report from the National Oceanic and AtmosphericAdministration both fully support the conclusion that climate change isreal and poses significant risk to human and natural systems. The consistency among these and previously issued assessments only serves to strengthen EPA’s conclusion.

Information on EPA’s findings and the petitions

More information on climate change

Review America’s Climate Choices Report

Review State of the Climate Report

Review information on Indicators of Climate Change

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Latest Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Data

EPA Publishes Latest Data on Industrial and Toxics Releases in the U.S.

Data on Toxics Release Inventory available the same month it is collected


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published the latest data on industrial releases and transfers of toxic chemicals in the United States between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2009. EPA is making the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data available within weeks of the reporting deadline through its Web site and in the popular tools, TRI Explorer and Envirofacts. The database contains environmental release and transfer data on nearly 650 chemicals and chemical categories reported to EPA by more than 21,000 industrial and other facilities.

The preliminary dataset allows communities to find out about releases and transfers of chemicals at the local level. Examples of industries that report to TRI include manufacturing, metal mining, electric utilities, and commercial hazardous waste treatment facilities among others. Facilities must report their data by July 1st of each year.

The preliminary dataset includes more than 80 percent of the data expected to be reported for 2009. EPA will continue to process paper submissions, late submissions, and to resolve issues with the electronic submissions. The agency will update the dataset in August and again in September so citizens will have complete access to the information. EPA is encouraging the public to review and analyze the data while EPA conducts its own analysis, which will be published later this year.

More information on the data

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How Cooling Towers Work: Guide For the Non-Engineer

"Cooling Tower Heat Transfer 101"

By Brad Buecker

[Excerpts]

"Evaporation is utilized to its fullest extent in cooling towers, which are designed to expose the maximum transient water surface to the maximum flow of air – for the longest period of time.”1

For water to evaporate it must consume a large amount of energy to change state from a liquid to a gas.

Figure 1
Figure 1 shows process conditions that could easily exist in a cooling system. We will calculate the mass flow rate of air needed to cool 150,000 gpm of tower inlet water to the desired temperature. We will also calculate the water lost by evaporation (go to link for full calculation). So, with an inlet cooling water flow rate of 150,000 gpm (1,251,000 lb/min), the calculated air flow is 1,248,000 lb/min, which, by chance in this case, is close to the cooling water flow rate. (Obviously, the air flow requirement would change significantly depending upon air temperature, inlet water temperature and flow rate, and other factors, and that is why cooling towers typically have multiple cells, often including fans that have adjustable speed control). The mass balance of water = 146,841 gpm. Thus, the water lost to evaporation is 3,159 gpm. A very interesting aspect of this calculation is that only about 2 percent evaporation is sufficient to provide so much cooling.

Evaporation causes dissolved and suspended solids in the cooling water to increase in concentration. This concentration factor is (logically) termed the cycles of concentration (C). Cycles of concentration can be monitored by comparing the ratio of the concentration of a very soluble ion, such as chloride or magnesium, in the makeup (MU) and recirculating (R) water. Very common is a comparison of the specific conductivity of the two streams, particularly where automatic control is utilized to bleed off recirculating water when it becomes too concentrated.

Besides blowdown, some water also escapes the process as fine moisture droplets in the cooling tower fan exhaust. This water loss is known as drift (D). Where towers are well-designed, drift is quite small and can be as low as 0.0005 percent of the recirculation rate.2 Drift particulate minimization is very important, as regulations on particulate emissions from cooling towers continue to tighten. Leaks in the cooling system are referred to as losses (L).

Reference:

1. J.C. Hensley, ed., Cooling Tower Fundamentals, 2nd Edition; The Marley Cooling Tower Company (now part of SPX Cooling Technologies, Overland Park, Kan.), 1985.

2. Personal conversation with Rich Aull of Brentwood Industries.

Power Engineering, July 2010

GridWise Alliance Promotes Electric Vehicles Re Reid Bill

Statement of Katherine Hamilton, President, GridWise Alliance on Introduction of Senator Reid’s Draft Energy Bill‏

"The GridWise Alliance is pleased that Senator Reid has included the Promoting Electric Vehicles Act of 2010 in his draft energy bill announced today. This title establishes a national plan for the deployment of electric vehicles that includes training, technical assistance, and R&D programs for electric vehicles. The smart grid is key to the integration of electric vehicles into a balanced and reliable electric grid.

This bill would allow for consideration of smart grid as part of this electric vehicle infrastructure. Electric utilities and independent system operators are now considering how electric vehicles will impact the grid as they plan for future demand; this provision will provide support for that process by ensuring that smart grid technologies are integrated. Electric vehicles enabled by smart grid will be one way that this nation can reduce dependence on oil for transportation while creating new green manufacturing jobs."
Katherine Hamilton, President, GridWise Alliance
Twitter: @GridWiseAll

House & Senate Oil Spill/Energy Legislation Introduced

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) finally rolled out the oil spill/energy legislation today. The ‘‘Clean Energy Jobs
and Oil Company Accountability Act of 2010
’’ includes four sections: 1) BP accountability, 2) Natural Gas Vehicle Act, 3) Home Star and Land/Water Conservation) and 4) increases the $2.7 billion liability cap of the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to $5 billion and increases the amount that oil companies are required to pay into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to 49 cents per barrel.

The House companion spill legislation features a modified version of three bills, the Natural Resources Committee bill (H.R. 3534), an Energy and Commerce Committee bill (H.R. 5626) and a Transportation and Infrastructure Committee bill (H.R. 5629). The legislation includes improved federal oversight of offshore drilling, new safety standards for drilling equipment and well design, increased liability limits for offshore drilling companies and potential for companies with lax safety records from obtaining federal leases, among other provisions.

The House Ways and Means Committee is not marking up its full green jobs legislation before the August recess. There is a heavy emphasis on Sec. 48C clean energy manufacturing tax credits and a two-year extension and codification of the Sec. 1603 grant program for renewable energy policy. Tax credits for natural gas and hybrid heavy vehicles are also included. The Domestic Manufacturing and Energy Jobs Act of 2010. (Frank Maisano)

Plumber Joe Caldart's Idea Stopped BP Gulf Oil Leak

It is being widely reported that the 'mystery plumber' whose homemade design for a new containment cap may have helped to stop the Gulf oil spill is being identified as Joe Caldart, left, a married, 40-something blue-collar guy with five kids and three dogs living in St. Francis, Kansas. Mr. Caldart has stated publicly that:

"I also felt like people should know that here an average guy submitted something that maybe helped."
Caldart's sketches, routed six weeks ago to BP and the Coast Guard through University of California petroleum engineer Robert Bea, are a near identical match to the design of a new containment cap lowered last week over the renegade Macondo well 50 miles off Venice, Lousiana. The idea was using the top flange on the blowout preventer as an attachment point and then employing an internal seal against that flange surface. (The Christian Science Monitor, 7/27/2010)

New Trash To Electricity Burner In Balt City A Horrible Idea

A rendering of the waste-to-energy plant
The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is wrong to drop its opposition to a proposed plan to construct a garbage-to-electricity conversion plant in Baltimore City. These plants should not operate near population centers. The Center opposes this project.

MDE has entered into a settlement agreement with Albany, N.Y.-based Energy Answers International over its plan to build a 140-megawatt renewable energy plant in the city. MDE previously opposed a Maryland Public Service Commission ruling that the plant would not require additional air and water permits before construction would begin. Instead of appealing the PSC decision, the agency is claiming to have secured environmental safeguards through an agreement with Energy Answers. MDE claims the safeguards included the most stringent mercury emissions rate for any such facility in the country.

Energy Answers plans to build the power plant on a piece of industrially zoned land near Curtis Bay owned by the FMC Corporation. in the Fairfield neighborhood. The plant will be able to handle processing about 4,000 tons of refuse per day. The plant will take municipal waste, tire chips, automobile waste and other items and shred them into four-inch pieces, which will then be burned to produce steam that generates electricity. The energy produced by the plant will qualify as renewable energy.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the site of the plant has been in use since 1915 as an ethanol and acetone production facility to provide war materials. FMC bought the site in 1954 and produced agricultural and industrial organic chemicals there until it ceased production at the plant in 2008. Energy Answers plans to lease the air rights to the property from FMC, which covers improvements and everything above ground level. Under this arrangement, the EPA’s groundwater contaminate remediation plan will continue to be handled by FMC. (Maryland Daily Record, 7/26/2010)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Harry Reid Pronounces Cap & Trade Dead

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) announced today that he is abandoning efforts to include cap-and-trade as part of a energy bill. Reid nor the White House had persuaded 60 senators to support even a limited proposal seeking to restrict emissions from electric-power companies. Reid will push instead for more limited legislation, aimed at holding oil giant BP PLC accountable for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Specifically, he said the measure would include a provision to remove the cap on economic damages paid to residents and small businesses by oil companies after oil spills. Mr. Reid said the bill would also include incentives to encourage the production and purchase of vehicles fueled by natural gas, and to fund various land and water-conservation programs.

The Center supports Cap & Trade.

Republicans have objected to proposals to eliminate the cap on oil companies' liability for damages related to spills—currently set at $75 million—on the grounds that it would make offshore drilling unaffordable for all but the largest oil companies and foreign-owned nationalized oil giants. Some business groups are also rallying to defeat the provisions related to natural gas.

Some trade groups and corporations representing farmers and manufacturers—including Dow Chemical Company the National Corn Growers Association and Kimberly-Clark Corporation—released a letter calling on the Senate not to include any provisions in energy legislation that would "artificially" increase demand for natural gas in the power and transportation sectors—an apparent reference to Mr. Reid's support for tax breaks for purchasers of natural-gas vehicles and incentives to build natural-gas fueling stations.

Those provisions have been promoted by some natural-gas producers, who have pointed to the growing domestic discoveries of natural gas as evidence that natural gas can provide the U.S. economy with a "bridge fuel" from oil to lower carbon sources of energy. The corporations and farm groups said they worry such incentives—along with potential new state and federal regulations on shale drilling—could result in a supply crunch, causing higher electricity prices and the shift of more domestic manufacturing jobs to foreign countries. (WSJ, 7/22/2010)

Wanted: Nominees for Scientific Advisory Committee

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is soliciting nominees to serve on an NCEH/ATSDR Board of Scientific Counselors Advisory Committee. The deadline to submit nominations is November 30, 2010. Federal Register /Vol. 75, No. 130 /Thursday, July 8, 2010 /Notices/ 39265

For questions, contact Sandra Malcom. Please feel free to share this announcement to your colleagues.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Marine Well Containment Company

Four of the world's largest oil companies, Exxon Mobil Corp, Royal Dutch Shell PLC and ConocoPhillips, are forming a joint venture to design, build and operate a rapid-response system to capture and contain up to 100,000 barrels of oil flowing 10,000 feet below the surface of the sea. This is a bid to regain the confidence of the White House after BP PLC's Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The system, consisting of several oil collection ships and an array of subsurface containment equipment, resembles the one developed by BP during three months of trial and error after the Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20. The companies will make an initial investment of $1 billion in the non-profit venture, which they are calling the Marine Well Containment Company. The containment system is expected to be ready within 18 months. The primary aim of the system will be to keep oil from gushing into the ocean in the event of a catastrophic blow-out.

Despite significant technological breakthroughs that led to the exploitation of oil and gas thousands trapped of feet below sea level, the industry was caught without an effective response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. On July 12, U.S. authorities reimposed a deepwater drilling moratorium, which was opposed by the oil industry but which the government says is necessary to ensure safe drilling practices.

The oil giants' joint-venture is modeled after the Marine Spill Response Corporation, a national oil spill response company funded by the oil and shipping industry in 1990, after the Exxon Valdez oil spill prompted a major overhaul in petroleum pollution legislation.

First, responders would install a sealing cap that would have the ability to connect to the diverse systems of valves and casings in use in the deepwater Gulf. That cap would keep oil from escaping into the ocean, redirecting it towards flexible pipes or to a fixed riser located at an unspecified distance from the broken well. The pipes would connect it to ships modified to process large quantities of crude. One of the advantages of the system is that only two ships would be required to capture up to 100,000 barrels of oil, which would be offloaded onto shuttle tankers. In the case of a hurricane, the fleet would rapidly disconnect and let the oil flow. (WSJ, 7/21/2010)

EPA Launches National Water Conservation Campaign

EPA’s WaterSense Program Helps Consumers Save Money & Water

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) WaterSense program today is kicking off its national “We’re for Water” campaign to encourage Americans to make simple choices that save water. The program, in collaboration with its partner, American Water, will spread the word about saving water by traveling cross-country, stopping at national landmarks and educating consumers about WaterSense labeled products. WaterSense products use about 20 percent less water than standard models.

Consumers can start saving water today with three simple steps: check, twist and replace.

· Check toilets for silent leaks by putting a few drops offood coloring in the tank; if the color shows up in the bowlindicating a leak, fixing it may be as simple as replacing thetoilet’s flapper.

· Twist on a WaterSense labeled bathroom faucet aerator touse 30 percent less water without a noticeable difference in flow.

· Replace a showerhead with a WaterSense labeled model thatuses less water and energy, but still has all the power of awater-hogging model.
WaterSense, a partnership program sponsored by EPA, seeks to protect the future of our nation's water supply by offering people a simple way touse less water with water-efficient products, new homes and services. In 2009, EPA’s WaterSense program helped consumers save more than 36 billion gallons of water and $267 million on their water and sewerbills.

More information on the We’re for Water road trip

To take the “I’m for Water pledge

To learn about water-saving tips

BP Sells U.S., Canada & Egypt Oil/Gas Properties For $7 Billion

BP has sold oil and gas properties in the United States, Egypt and Canada to Houston-based Apache Corp. for $7 billion as part of the oil giant's effort to raise cash to the $20 billion BP has pledged to put in an escrow fund to cover claims resulting from the spill. The deal includes oil and gas reserves in Texas and southeastern New Mexico, natural gas reserves in western Canada, and the Western Desert business concessions and East Badr El-din exploration concession in Egypt.

Apache will acquire the equivalent of 385 million barrels of oil reserves, which is about 2 percent of BP's proven reserves. The properties currently produce 28,000 barrels of oil and 331 million cubic feet of gas a day. The purchase price includes $3.1 billion for 10 areas in West Texas's Permian Basin, an oil and gas region where Apache already has substantial production. The package also includes $3.25 billion for gas and unconventional gas properties in western Canada. The rest covers concessions for exploration and some infrastructure in Egypt. (Wash Post, 7/21/2010)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Unified Joint Command Cancels 'A Whale' Use in Gulf

A Whale Tests Show Dispersants Hurt Skimming Process

The A Whale will not be deployed by the Unified Joint Command in The Gulf of Mexico because it could not effective collect significant amounts of oil as it scooped up millions of gallons of oily water. On Friday, the A Whale concluded its final battery of tests in close coordination with the US Coast Guard. The ship demonstrated that it can bring substantial volumes of capacity to bear in addressing oil spills, and can do so quickly and with great maneuverability. The particular conditions present in the Macondo spill did not afford the vessel the opportunity to recover a significant amount of oil. In large measure, this is due to the highly dispersed nature of the oil in the Gulf. When dispersants are used in high volume virtually from the point that oil leaves the well, it presents real challenges for high-volume skimming.

There has been much learned much over the last several weeks about how to build a high-volume super-skimming task force capable of addressing oil spills wherever they may occur in the future. The experience shows that future oil spill response protocol should deploy super-skimmer capacity as soon as possible and as close as possible to the source of the spill. In this fashion, effective organic containment of oil can be undertaken without substantial use of chemical dispersants. Thereafter, and in more judicious application, dispersants can be used as needed. (Frank Maisano)

Final Recommendations of the Ocean Policy Task Force

Today, the Obama Administration released the Final Recommendations of the Ocean Policy Task Force, which would establish a National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Coasts, and Great Lakes (National Policy) and create a National Ocean Council (NOC) to strengthen ocean governance and coordination. The Final Recommendations prioritize actions for the NOC to pursue, and call for a flexible framework for coastal and marine spatial planning to address conservation, economic activity, user conflict, and sustainable use of the ocean, our coasts and the Great Lakes.

The NOC would coordinate across the Federal Government to implement the National Policy. The Final Recommendations also call for the establishment of a Governance Coordinating Committee to formally engage with state, tribal, and local authorities. The Final Recommendations are expected to be adopted into an Executive Order by President Obama.

In June 2009, President Obama created the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force and charged it with developing recommendations to enhance national stewardship of the ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes and promote the long term conservation and use of these resources. The Task Force was led by CEQ and included 24 senior-level policy officials from across the Federal Government. The Task Force released an Interim Report in September 2009 and an Interim Framework for Effective Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning in December 2009. Each of these reports was made available online for public comment. The Task Force received and reviewed close to 5,000 written comments from Congress, stakeholders, and the public before finalizing its recommendations. The Task Force’s Final Recommendations combine and update the proposals contained in the two earlier reports. The Center provided input to the Task Force at the CEQ Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The National Policy includes a set of guiding principles for management decisions and actions toward stewardship that ensures that the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes are healthy and resilient, safe and productive, and understood and treasured so as to promote the well-being, prosperity, and security of present and future generations. It prioritizes actions, including ecosystem-based management, regional ecosystem protection and restoration, and strengthened and integrated observing systems, that seek to address some of the most pressing challenges facing the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes. These strategies and objectives provide a bridge between the National Policy and action on the ground.

The National Policy identifies coastal and marine spatial planning as a priority. Marine spatial planning offers a comprehensive, integrated approach to planning and managing uses and activities over the long term. Under the National Policy, coastal and marine spatial planning would be regional in scope, developed cooperatively among Federal, state, tribal, and local authorities, and include substantial stakeholder, scientific, and public input.

The coastal and marine spatial planning framework:

• Establishes a new regional approach to how we use and protect the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes to decrease user conflicts, improve planning and regulatory efficiencies and decrease costs and delays, and preserve critical ecosystem services.

• Creates a comprehensive alternative to sector-by-sector and statute-by-statute decision-making.

• Establishes regional planning bodies, bringing Federal, state, and tribal partners together in an unprecedented manner to jointly plan for the future of the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes.

• Ensures science-based information is at the heart of decision-making.

• Emphasizes stakeholder and public participation. The National Ocean Council would plan to hold its first meeting later this summer to begin the immediate work of implementing the National Policy.

The full text of the National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Coasts, and Great Lakes

Saturday, July 17, 2010

BP's Macondo Field Should Now Be Production Well

Activity at Macondo Field post accident
The containment cap has now stopped the oil from leaking into the Gulf of Mexico. The two relief wells are a couple of weeks away from reaching their target near the bottom of the well pipe. Now an interesting decision has to be made: will the well be permanently closed via cement from the relief well(s) or will the well go into production to deliver oil to refineries. Our inclination is to make it a production well. The relief wells are now there as the appropriate insurance policy. The Center is also recommending that two relief wells should be a requirement for any deepwater drilling going forward. The Center opposes expanded offshore drilling.

The cap, right, is undergoing additional testing. Pressure has reached 6,745 pounds per square inch and is expected to max out at 6,800 psi. The tests are meant to reduce fears that the containment cap will cause a rupture elsewhere on the seabed, creating new leaks. The capped well was estimated to be gushing between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels of oil a day into the Gulf. Yet pumping the oil for production purposes would relieve much of the pressure. And taking the top figure of 60,000 barrels per day times rough $60 per barrel equals about $3.6 million per day. That money could be important in compensating the coastal states negatively affected by the disaster. That is $1.3 billion for the year. The Macondo well should go into production. (WSJ, 7/17/2010)

Friday, July 16, 2010

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on 7th Trip to the Gulf

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson traveled to New Orleans right after her testimony yesterday before the Senate Appropriations Committee. This is her seventh trip to the Gulf area. She is with Secretary Mabus today and is meeting with environmentalists, academic and science leaders, and representatives from fisheries and other local industries to talk response and recovery. Check http://www.restorethegulf.gov/ for latest info.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Senate Passes Financial Reform Bill Today

Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 (H.R. 4173) is now law (almost). The Senate passed the conference committee report to the financial services reform bill today by a vote of 60-39. The House passed it 237-192 on June 30. Now it goes to the White House for President Obama's signature.
Barney Frank
Chris Dodd & Harry Reid
The 2,300 page financial services reform bill begins a major, needed change for Wall Street, banks and other institutions. The legislation creates a council of regulators to monitor economic risks, establishes a new agency to police consumers' financial products and sets new standards for the way derivatives are traded. Of course, the bill did nothing to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The bill gives discretion to regulators, including the Federal Reserve and SEC, to apply the bill's mandates. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.), was a chief architect of the bill, along with Barney Frank, Chairman of the House Committee On Financial Services.

There will be new rules on golden parachutes for employees at public companies, policies for ATM cards, the abolishment of the Office of Thrift Supervision, new derivatives rules and hedge-fund registration. (WSJ, 7/15/2010)

Gulf Oil Leak Stopped Today - 86 Days After Explosion

BP's new cap, left, finally worked in sealing the leaking well, right, in the Gulf of Mexico. Video of the top of the new cap confirms that the well has been capped. Pressure tests also indicate that oil is not leaking out of the pipe into surrounding ocean bottom.

Hooray. Let us pray that the cap continues to work. BP will continue to drill the two relief wells in order to permanently cement the well pipe.

Senate Appropriations Commitee Dispersants Hearing

Excerpt from Transcript:

Senator Mikulski:

SO, CAN YOU BAN DISPERSANTS AND LIMIT THEIR USE OR DOES HE HAVE TO GIVE THE APPROVAL?

EPA Administrator Jackson:

I THINK IT IS IS A MATTER OF UNTESTED LAW AS TO WHETHER EPA, AND THERE IS NO PERMIT THAT EPA HAS GIVEN TO ALLOW THE USE OF DISPERSANTS, SO I WOULD NOT...

Senator Mikulski:

NO, BUT YOU ARE THE HEAD OF EPA, SO IF YOU SAID, ADMIRAL ALLEN, THIS, WE ARE NOW HEADING INTO A DANGER ZONE, OR FLASHING YELLOW LIGHT, SO SIGNIFICANT,...

EPA Administrator Jackson:

I DO BELIEVE I DO, CHAIRMAN, BUT I WANT MY LAWYERS TO GET YOU A ANSWER IN WRITING.

Senator Mikulski:

BUT THAT IS A ANSWER YOU NEEDED TO KNOW FROM DAY ONE, MS. JACKSON, BECAUSE EVERY ONE OF US HERE AT THE TABLE ARE COASTAL SENATORS, AND I HAVE TO TELL YOU...

EPA Admininstrator Jackson:

PART OF THE REASON I AM HESITATING IS TWOFOLD. NUMBER ONE, IT HAS NOT BEEN TESTED, AND I HAVE NOT HAD TO WALK INTO ADMIRAL ALLEN'S OFFICE EVEN FIGURATIVELY...

[Excerpt: Lisa Jackson Statement]

Sprint's New Green Restore Cell Phone

Sprint has an expanding portfolio of green devices and accessories. Currently, Sprint offers three green devices available in the U.S.: 1) Samsung Reclaim, 2) LG Remarq, and 3) Sprint’s latest device, the Samsung Restore. The Samsung Restore has an eco-friendly design without sacrificing the latest technology. Designed with the avid texter in mind, the stylish phone boasts a QWERTY keyboard and one-step access to social networking sites, while maintaining strict environmental standards.

The phone casing contains 27 percent post-consumer recycled plastics and the device as a whole is 84 percent recyclable.

Like all of Sprint’s green devices, the Restore meets strict RoHS standards and has low levels of PVC, BFRs, Phthalates, Beryllium.

The packaging is 100 percent recyclable, printed with soy ink and features a cardboard box made from 70 percent post consumer materials. The Samsung Restore is available for $49.99 with a new two-year service agreement, after a $50 mail-in rebate. Hi resolution images of the Samsung Restore are available upon request.

The Center is not endorsing the device and has not been compensated for this advertisement.

EPA's Jackson Before Senate Appropriations Subcommittee

Statement of Lisa P. Jackson
Administrator,
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Legislative Hearing on Use of Dispersants in BP Oil Spill
Senate Committee on Appropriations:
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

Chairman Mikulski, Ranking Member Shelby

C-SPAN

Excerpts:

EPA’s Oil Spill Program focuses on activities to prevent, prepare for and respond to oil spills from a wide variety of facilities that handle, store, or use various types of oil. The National Contingency Plan (NCP) is the federal government's blueprint for responding to both oil spills and hazardous substance releases. Under the NCP, the EPA or the USCG provide federal On-Scene Coordinators (FOSCs) for the inland and coastal zones, respectively, to direct or oversee responses to oil spills. The NCP established the National Response Team (NRT), comprised of fifteen federal agencies, to assist responders by formulating policies, providing information, technical advice, and access to resources and equipment for preparedness and response to oil spills and hazardous substance releases. EPA serves as chair of the NRT and the USCG serves as vice-chair.

EPA is collecting samples along the shoreline and beyond for chemicals related to oil and dispersants in the air, water and sediment, supporting and advising USCG efforts to clean the reclaimed oil and waste from the shoreline, and closely monitoring the effects of dispersants in the subsurface environment. The USCG, in consultation with EPA and the states, approved waste management plans outlining how recovered oil and waste generated as a result of the BP oil spill will be managed.

Use of Dispersants: Following the April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon mobile offshore drilling unit explosion and resulting oil spill, the USCG, in consultation with EPA, DOI, NOAA, and the State of Louisiana, granted BP authorization to use approved dispersant on oil on the surface of the water in an effort to mitigate the shoreline impacts of the oil on fisheries, nurseries, wetlands and other sensitive environments.


There are environmental tradeoffs and uncertainties associated with the widespread use of large quantities of dispersants. We know dispersants are generally less toxic than the oils they break down. We know that surface use of dispersants decreases the environmental risks to shorelines and organisms at the surface and when used this way, dispersants break down over several days to weeks. In addition, the use of dispersants at the source of the leak represents a novel approach to addressing the significant environmental threat posed by the spill.

Results to date indicate that subsea use of the dispersant is effective at reducing the amount of oil reaching the surface, and can do so by using less dispersant than is needed to disperse oil after it reaches the surface, and has resulted in significant reductions in the overall quantity of dispersants being used to minimize impacts in the deepsea.

EPA has also established an extensive network to rigorously monitor the air, water, and sediments for the presence of dispersants and crude oil components that could have an impact on health or the environment. All monitoring information and data are posted on EPA’s website. In addition, for subsea monitoring, the toxicity data generated from this monitoring to date does not indicate significant effects on aquatic life. We are closely watching the dissolved oxygen levels, which so far remain in the normal range. Moreover, decreased size of the oil droplets is a good indication that, so far, the dispersant is effective.

EPA required toxicity tests to standard test species, including a sensitive species of Gulf of Mexico invertebrate (mysid shrimp) and fish (silverside) which are common species in Gulf of Mexico estuarine habitats. The invertebrate and fish species tested are considered to be representative of the sensitivity of many species in the Gulf of Mexico, based on years of toxicity testing with other substances. Initial peer reviewed results from the first round of EPA’s toxicity testing indicated that none of the eight dispersants tested, including the product currently in use in the Gulf, COREXIT 9500 A, displayed biologically significant endocrine disrupting activity. The results are posted on our website. While we await the final round of scientific testing, it appears that all the products that are currently registered have roughly the same impact on aquatic life.

For more information on EPA’s efforts in the gulf and for the latest air, water, sediment and underwater dispersant monitoring data.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

BP Ready To Cap Well Or Funnel It To Surface Storage

Click on Image to Enlarge
BP is ready for a well integrity test as a precursor to cap the well or funnel it to the surface for collection. Discussions are being held between BP representatives and government officials, who are worried that the pressure under the cap, when could rupture other sites on the sea floor. Specifically, there is concern that closing the cap could create pressure in the well's formation, resulting in oil being released close to the surface of the sea floor and eventually flowing into the Gulf of Mexico. If BP determines that using the cap to shut in the well is too risky, they would use the cap to produce oil from the well.

BP collection at the the Helix Producer was approximately 9,200 barrels of oil on Tuesday. The Q4000 flared off about 7,800 barrels of day. For the past several weeks, a more loosely fitting cap and the Q4000 system have managed to keep up to about 25,000 barrels of oil a day out of the Gulf. The new sealing cap-system, plus additional measures, will allow the recovery of 60,000 barrels to 80,000 barrels by the end of the month. (WSJ, 7/14/2010)

National Commission on BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling

The Oil Spill Commission held its first meetings this week on Monday and Tuesday at the Hilton Riverside Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana. The agenda included appearances by federal government officials, representatives from BP North America, local business owners and others. The Commissioners l heard from a variety of panelists regarding the economic impacts of the oil spill on the fishing, tourism, and drilling industries in the region. the Commission is co-chaired by former EPA Adminstrator William K. Reilly, left (with Center President), and Bob Graham, right, a Democrat who also was Florida governor.

Michael Bromwich, left, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOE), stated at a meeting of the National Commission on BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling (Oil Spill Commission) that a chief reason the Obama administration is extending a ban on deepwater offshore drilling is that oil companies do not know how to contain a spill like the one spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico right now. Bromwich also noted that the BP spill is consuming response equipment and personnel from across the country, exposing vulnerabilities should deepwater drilling resume.

Bromwich, the new head of the agency (as of June 15) formerly known as the Minerals Management Services, concluded that until improvements are in place, the Department of the Interior does not intend to back away from a ban on deep-water drilling that has angered numerous companies and gulf residents because of its economic impact. Bromwich announced that BOE will hold 12 hearings on deepwater drilling in communities in the Gulf, California and Alaska, before delivering a report by October 31 to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. (Wash Post, 7/13/2010,)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

BG&E Resubmits Smart Grid/Smart Meter Proposal

Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. has submitted an amended smart grid proposal to the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) for a rehearing on the proposal rejected bythe PSC in order to hold onto the $200 million federal stimulus grant attached to the project. BGE has proposed several changes to its original proposal. The most important are the changes the company proposes to make to the way it will recoup costs associated with the $835 million project. Instead of using a surcharge on customers’ bills to recover all project costs, the company would recover 25 percent of costs through a surcharge and the rest through rate increases that have to be approved by the PSC. The PSC would review spending twice a year to avoid uncertainty of what it would later approve.

The PSC had expressed concern that making “time-of-use billing” mandatory would hurt consumers who are often in their homes during the day. Under BGE’s new proposal, customers could voluntarily sign up for time-of-use billing. Customers who decide to get billed through time-of-use would pay lower rates for using power during off-peak hours, like nights and weekends, and higher rates during peak hours. All customers would still be eligible for rebates for reducing power use during times of peak demand, like very hot summer days.

BGE also updated its customer education plan in its new filing, responding to a PSC gripe about the lack of details on the program in the original application. The smart meters BGE proposes to install in customers’ homes would provide two-way communication between the customer and the company, alerting BGE to outages and other issues. Customers would have the benefit of reviewing their daily power use through a website, providing them with more information to make choices about consumption and manage their bills. (The Daily Record, 7/12/2010)

Maryland PSC Rejects BGE Smart Meter Proposal

Obama Bypasses Court, Reinstitutes Gulf Drilling Moratorium

Vessels surround a drilling rig at the site
of the Deepwater Horizon well (AP Photo)
The Obama administration has bypassed two court ruling and is reinstituting a moratorium on deep-water drilling. To justify the new moratium, they are presenting new evidence of safety concerns and no longer basing the moratorium on water depth. Last week, a federal appeals court rejected the government's effort to restore its initial offshore deep-water drilling moratorium, which was issued following the catastrophic Gulf oil spill in April. The moratorium was first blocked last month by U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman. The Justice Department said Monday it will file a motion with the U.S. District Court seeking a dismissal of that case, because the old moratorium is no longer operative, making the challenge moot. The department also will ask the appeals court to set aside Feldman's order of last month.

The new moratorium also establishes a process to gather and analyze new information on safety and response issues, which could allow for identifying conditions to resume certain deep-water drilling activities. And unlike the last moratorium, which applied to waters of more than 500 feet, the new one applies to any deep-water floating facility with blowout preventers.

The National Ocean Industries Association, an industry trade group for offshore production, believes the new moratorium doesn't apply to anchored facilities using surface blowout preventers. Such facilities are generally used in shallow water. It is not immediately clear how many facilities will be impacted."

Shallow Water Drillers Express Concerns Over Drilling Moratorium

Members of the Shallow Water Energy Security Coalition issued the following comments regarding the Department of Interior's new moratorium blocking deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) through November 30, 2010.

Randy Stilley, President and Chief Executive Officer of Seahawk Drilling, Inc., noted:

"Interior said shallow water drilling activities can 'continue to move forward' if operations are in compliance with safety and environmental regulations. However, the reality is that permits for shallow water drilling are not proceeding despite the widespread efforts being made by the industry to honor the letter and spirit of new Interior regulatory standards as reflected in Notices to Leasees, or NTLs.

"Part of reason for a lack of permits may be that Interior's BOEM has been vague regarding its compliance expectations under its environmental NTL, resulting in no new permits being granted since that NTL was issued. This is true even for low risk reservoirs with known characteristics. BOEM must be clear in the guidance it offers and stick to it."
Jim Noe, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Hercules Offshore, noted:

"To date, and despite assurances from the White House and the Interior Department, about one-third of the shallow water fleet has been idled by the application of what can only be called a de facto moratorium. Unless Interior changes course, and matches their action with their rhetoric, another third of the fleet will be idled and thousands more workers will be furloughed within the next few weeks."
(Associated Press, Wash Post, 7/13/2010, Frank Maisano)

Monday, July 12, 2010

EPA Proposes 2011 Renewable Fuel Standards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed the 2011 percentage standards for the four fuels categories under the agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard program, known as RFS2.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) established the annual renewable fuel volume targets, reaching an overall level of 36 billion gallons in 2022. To achieve these volumes, EPA calculates a percentage-based standard for the following year. Based on the standard, each refiner, importer and non-oxygenate blender of gasoline determines the minimum volume of renewable fuel that it must ensure is used in its transportation fuel.

The proposed 2011 overall volumes and standards are:

· Biomass-based diesel (0.80 billion gallons; 0.68 percent)
· Advanced biofuels (1.35 billion gallons; 0.77 percent)
· Cellulosic biofuels (5 – 17.1 million gallons; 0.004 – 0.015 percent)
· Total renewable fuels (13.95 billion gallons; 7.95 percent)
Based on analysis of market availability, EPA is proposing a 2011 cellulosic volume that is lower than the EISA target. EPA will continue to evaluate the market as it works to finalize the cellulosic standard in the coming months. Overall, EPA remains optimistic that the commercial availability of cellulosic biofuel will continue to grow in the years ahead.

EPA is also proposing changes to the RFS2 regulations that would potentially apply to renewable fuel producers who use canola oil, grain sorghum, pulpwood, or palm oil as a feedstock. This program rule would allow the fuel produced by those feedstocks dating back to July 1, 2010 be used for compliance should EPA determine in a future rulemaking that such fuels meet certain greenhouse gas reduction thresholds.

The second change would set criteria for foreign feedstocks to be treated like domestic feedstocks in terms of the documentation needed to prove that they can be used to make qualifying renewable fuel under the RFS2 program.

EPA is seeking public comment on the renewable fuel standards and the proposed changes to the RFS2 regulations, which are due 30 days following publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register.

July 1, 2010, was the deadline that major refiners, blenders, and importers had to meet for reporting, registration, and other key compliance requirements under EPA’s expanded renewable fuels standard program.

More information on the standards and regulations:

More information on renewable fuels

Helix Producer I

The Helix Producer I (HPI) is 528 ft long, 95 ft wide, weighs 2,295 tons, has a top speed of 6 knots, and is flagged by the Bahamas.and is designed to produce and export up to 45,000 b/d of oil. The vessel can handle 72 MMcf/d of gas and 50,000 b/d of water (60,000 b/d total fluids). The design includes a disconnectable transfer system, which will allow Helix Producer I to quickly decouple from subsea infrastructure in the event of a weather-related emergency. The HPI should be a valuable asset in recovering oil at the Macondo Field oil spill site in the Gulf of Mexico.

Under US Coast Guard rules, fixed platforms have to be evacuated for a certain number of days when storms come through the Gulf of Mexico. Production after the storm can begin sooner due to the fact that personnel will not be evacuated from the vessel, but will remain onboard during transit to safe harbor. With a disconnectable system, there is no need for personnel to leave the vessel, so those additional logistics costs are not incurred. The vessel’s mobility is a considerable asset. The Helix Producer I design concept offers distinct advantages over moored production facilities. The HPI can evade weather events such as hurricanes, whereas platforms or moored moored production facilities must endure the storms. (MainTraffic.com, E&P Magazine, Wiki, 6/23/2010)

"The Independent Climate Change Email Review"

"The Independent Climate Change Email Review" exonerated the University of East Anglia of charges from last November that some of the world's leading climate scientists engaged in professional misconduct, data manipulation and subjectively altering scientific literature and climatic data to describe a climate history that favors global warming as a human-produced global threat. The scandal became known as Climategate. The review was commissioned and paid for by the University of East Anglia.

The review comes on the heels of two others—one by the University of East Anglia itself and the other by Penn State University, concerning its own employee, Professor Michael Mann. Mr. Mann was one of the Climategate principals who proposed a plan to destroy a scientific journal that dared to publish three papers with which he and his East Anglia friends disagreed. These two reviews also saw no evil. Penn State: "determined that Dr. Michael E. Mann did not engage in, nor did he participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community." (WSJ, 7/12/2010)

"Bag Green Guilt"

How can we not have increasing eco-anxiety as we hear about oil gushing, glaciers melting and toxic pollution everywhere? Author Jen Pleasants, aims to transform our eco-anxiety with her new book, "Bag Green Guilt, Five Easy Steps: Turn Eco-Anxiety Into Constructive Energy."

Jen's book speaks to what so many Americans are thinking, but are afraid to be politically incorrect by saying out loud--they are overwhelmed by the incredible scope of environmental problems and feel helpless against the tide.

Instead of thinking that "nothing I do will make a difference," Jen exhorts us to take small steps and then cheer leads our efforts, knowing (and using quotes to support her contention), that small steps made by lots of us, can add up to meaningful change. Ms. Pleasants puts into words what we are all thinking and feeling, ”How can I take care of the planet when I can not even fully take care of myself?”She backs her arguments with statistics that blow her mind and will yours as well, if you're not aware of them. This book is for anyone who is stuck under a pile of green guilt. You won't fail to be inspired to move from inertia to action.

This is the first book to address how our increasing environmental awareness is affecting our psyche and what we can do about it. No one wants or needs yet another book telling them that they need to compost, ride their bike to work, or bring their own bag to the store. We have pressure to take care of ourselves, our loved ones, our planet – it’s all very overwhelming. Ms. Pleasants says:

“I want my book to realign the reader’s state of mind, to take them from a state of hopelessness into a place where they know how to take a next step, how to participate and feel good about their way of life.”

Rather than focusing on the apocalyptic forecast, Bag Green Guilt concentrates on accessible solutions and positivity, with the philosophy that thoughts influence change and even the smallest actions make a difference. In today's world there is so much pressure to be 'green.' The byproducts are 'eco-anxiety' and 'green guilt.' More and more people are struggling with these emotions, and now with this book we have a way to address them. Through examining the emotions people have about the environment, and explaining how to transform those feelings into constructive energy, Bag Green Guilt inspires us to take action and reassures us that the actions we take do make a difference. By the time you finish Bag Green Guilt you will stop feeling helpless and start feeling more empowered and self-fulfilled while working toward a common goal of a healthier planet.

About Jen Pleasants: Jen Pleasants is an eco-anxiety ridden mother of three. After more than ten years in marketing and advertising she went on to found the original 'Show the Love,' a jewelry, clothing and body products company, in 2003, dedicated to raising money and awareness for charity. Over time, Jen decided to turn her manufacturing/design business into a media business and use her growing knowledge and interest in everything green/eco to help make the world a better place. She is the publisher of a site that combines fun, fashion, and feeling green with doing right by the world, fulfilling the founder’s motto to “make it all better.”

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sustainable Live Event with HUD, DOT and EPA

Sustainable Communities: Live Event with HUD, DOT and EPA Leadership!

Click on Sustainable Communities Event participate. Whitehouse.gov is hosting a live online event on July 14th at 2pm EDT/11am PDT on sustainable communities, and they want you to develop the questions. Submit your ideas, vote on other people's questions, then come back to Planetizen to see a live feed of the event. The Partnership for Sustainable Communities is a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U. S.Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help improve access to affordable housing, increase transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment in communities nationwide.

Representatives of all three agencies will be on hand to answer questions.

Speakers:

Shelley Poticha, Director for the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities
Beth Osborne, Deputy Secretary for Policy with the DOT
Tim Torma, Deputy Director of the Office of Sustainable Communities at the EPA

Moderated by Derek Douglas, Special Assistant to the Presidenton Urban Policy at the White House.
Submit your questions on the topic of 'sustainable communities' and vote on your favorites. They will select the top 7-10 questions to be asked by Derek Douglas on the 14th.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Federal Appeals Court Rejects Obama Offshore Moratorium

John Minor Wisdom U.S. Court of Appeals Building in New Orleans
Today the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans rejected the Obama administration's bid to keep a moratorium on deepwater drilling while it appealed a federal judge's decision overturning the ban. The three-judge panel ruled that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar didn't prove the U.S. would suffer irreparable harm without an immediate ban on exploratory drilling in deep waters.

President Barack Obama enacted the six-month ban on exploratory drilling in water of depths of 500 feet or greater on May 27 in the weeks following the blowout of a BP PLC-owned well off Louisiana's coast. The government argues that it needs time to determine what caused the disaster and how it can be prevented in other wells. A few oil-services companies led by Hornbeck Offshore Services LLC sued to overturn the ban, arguing that it unfairly hurt companies with good operating records. On June 22, U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman sided with the oil-services companies and struck down the moratorium, saying that it was arbitrary.

The Obama administration wanted permission to stop any drilling in deep water until the appeals court ruled on Judge Feldman's decision later. The panel indicated it expected to hear arguments next month on the appeal of the decision to strike down the ban. (WSJ, 7/9/2010)

RestoretheGulf.gov

RestoretheGulf.gov is the official federal portal for the Deepwater BP oil spill response and recovery. This site provides the public with information on the response, current operations, news and updates, how to file a claim and obtain other assistance, and links to federal, state and local partners.

In order to address the long-term environmental, economic, and societal impacts of the Deepwater BP oil spill, and weave together local plans and development priorities with state and federal assistance, the President has asked Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, a former Mississippi Governor, to lead the integrated Gulf Coast Reconstruction Effort. His responsibility is to build a framework that will connect local and state reconstruction plans with the resources they need to succeed in rebuilding and preserving the unique ecosystem of the Gulf, to succeed in creating sustained economic development, and to succeed in giving opportunities back to those whose livelihoods have been shattered by the spill.

Federal Partners: The Unified Area Command

A Unified Command has been established to manage response operations to the April 20, 2010 “Deepwater Horizon” incident. A Unified Command links the organizations responding to an incident and provides a forum for those organizations to make consensus decisions. This site is maintained by the Unified Command’s Joint Information Center (JIC), which provides the public with reliable, timely information about the response.


Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
U.S. Coast Guard
Department of the Interior (DOI)
Department of Energy (DOE)
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Small Business Administration
Department of Defense (DOD)
Department of the Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service
Department of the Interior's National Park Service
Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

File a Claim
Report a Concern
Volunteer
Submit a Suggestion

BP Horizon Hotlines

Environmental Hotline / Community Information (866) 448-5816
Assistance Hotline / Boom Reports (281) 366-5511
Vessels of Opportunity (boats)(866) 279-7983 or(877) 847-7470
Wildlife Distress Hotline (866) 557-1401
PEC Hotline (Specialty Volunteer Training)(866) 647-2338
Claims Hotline (800) 440-0858
Medical Support - Poison Control Center 800-222-1222

"Forests Forever: Their Ecology, Restoration, and Protection"

Can we use forests with restraint - sustainably - while still enjoying forest products and services?

"Yes." But how?


John J. Berger's newest book, "Forests Forever: Their Ecology, Restoration, and Protection," tackles this question. Astonishingly, it not only shows that generally we can extract a steady supply of timber from forests but that in many cases, when forests have previously been mismanaged and degraded, we can simultaneously improve both forest health and timber quality.

Co-published by Forests Forever Foundation and distributed by the University of Chicago, "Forests Forever" focuses first on basic principles of forest stewardship, including how to prevent forest destruction, restore damaged forests, and protect ecosystem integrity. Many forestry books address forest restoration in an ecological context. Most are concerned with lumber harvesting and timber management. "Forests Forever," however, demonstrates that forests can be saved and protected while still providing us with many valuable benefits and products in perpetuity. The book goes on to show that the better we understand forest ecology and resources and what threatens them, the greater the chance we have of saving them and using them sustainably.

The U.S. Forest Service and federal forest policy are given close scrutiny and issues of forest ecology, economics, history, management, law, and policy are prominently discussed with an emphasis on sustainable forest management. Key points are illustrated with stories of forest conservation from North America to the tropics, and the book has 82 color plates by some of the world’s leading wildlife photographers.

To purchase soft or hardcover copies of the book for personal use, contact the University of Chicago Press or Amazon.com. Discounts are available for bulk orders. Forests Forever (306 pages, hard and soft cover) is distributed by the University of Chicago Press, with an introduction by Charles Little. For more information, please see Dr. Berger's website. John J. Berger, Ph.D. 941 The Alameda – Suite 6 Berkeley, California 94707-2316