Loading...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Science Board Backs EPA Science on Mountaintop Removal

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) independent Science Advisory Board (SAB) released their first draft review of EPA’s research into the water quality impacts of valley fills associated with mountaintop mining. In their draft review, the SAB supports EPA’s scientific research and agrees with EPA’s conclusion that valley fills are associated with increased levels of conductivity (a measure of water pollution for mining practices) in downstream waters, and that these increased levels of conductivity threaten stream life in surface waters.

The SAB reviewed EPA’s draft report “A Field-Based Aquatic Life Benchmark for Conductivity in Central Appalachian Streams,” which uses field data to derive an aquatic life benchmark for conductivity. The benchmark is intended to protect 95 percent of aquatic species in streams in the Appalachian region influenced by mountaintop mining and valley fills. Based on that science, EPA released guidance in April designed to minimize irreversible water quality impacts caused by mountaintop mining.

Following the completion of the external peer review and review of public comments, the report will be revised and published as a final report.

A growing body of scientific literature, including previous and new studies performed by EPA, show significant damage to local streams that are polluted with the mining runoff from mountaintop removal. To protect water quality, EPA has identified a range of conductivity (a measure of the level of salt in the water) of 300 to 500 microSiemens per centimeter that is generally consistent with protecting life in Appalachian streams. The maximum benchmark conductivity of 500 microSiemens per centimeter is a measure of salinity that is roughly five times above normal levels. (EPA)

Renewable Energy Stardard (RES) replaces Cap & Trade

The standard formerly known as the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) has morphed into the Renewable Energy Standard (RES) and many now want RES to be a Clean Energy Standard (CES).  Prince should glad he is not an energy lobbyist.

On Tuesday, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS)  introduced a stand-alone RES bill (S. 3813 - ‘‘Renewable Electricity Promotion Act of 2010’’) that would mandate 15% of power to be generated by renewables — not 20% like the climate bill. At introduction there were 25 co-sponsors and four of the co-sponsors are Republicans. The bill would amend the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 to establish a Federal renewable electricity standard.

According to Clean Technica [hat tip for map]:
States that already meet or exceed Renewable Energy Standards of 15% by 2021 would not be held back by the latest Democratic attempt to pass nationwide legislation requiring that utilities at least provide a minimum supply of clean energy. Many states already have requirements that exceed the 15% by 2020 requirement. However, that misses the intent of the bill. This bill pretty much just addresses just the 15 coal states that don’t have any RES legislation, the states that are the equivalent of “clunkers.”

At least five of the 15 get over 90% of their electricity from coal.  Hard-core coal states are not going to suddenly embrace clean power, like the Green States do. This is why it doesn’t matter that the new RES is not at the cutting edge of Renewable Energy Standards. Federal policy is not needed to drive the Green states. On the contrary, it is needed to finally get the 90% coal-powered Kentuckys and Alabamas to try clean energy.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is proposing a Clean Energy Stardard (CES) that would expand the definition of renewable energy to include nuclear and clean coal. Graham's proposal could draw away support from the Bingaman-Brownback bill, especially Republicans from states that generate large amounts of electricity from nuclear and coal.

Casey Trees Is Moving [see their notice below]

The Center wishes you good luck in your beautiful new location

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Small Business Jobs and Credit Act Contains BioFuels Provision

The Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010 (H.R. 5297) contains a provision on biofuels in Title V: Tax Provisions,  Subtitle B: Revenue Provisions,  (Sec. 532) that:
"Excludes any fuel with an acid number greater than 25 from the definition of "cellulosic biofuel" for purposes of the tax credit for alcohol used as fuel."
Quality control of bio diesel fuel (BDF) on acid number is important since the number increases when the fuel itself deteriorates or BDF in production in line is not conforming. (Kyoto KEM)

However, the Senate failed to extend the biofuels tax credit amendment, which could render the quality of the fuel moot in terms of tax treatment.  Usually made from byproducts of soybean processing for cattle feed, biodiesel received a $1 per gallon credit, which expired at the end of 2009. The subsidy has been in place since 2004 and was last extended in October 2008. Stay tuned.  Congress will revisit the tax credit and will probably seek retroactive approval to include 2010. (PhysOrg, 1/11/2010)

Statement of President Obama on Final Passage of the Small Business Jobs Bill of 2010:

"The small business jobs bill passed today (Sept 23) will help provide loans and cut taxes for millions of small business owners without adding a dime to our nation’s deficit. After months of partisan obstruction and needless delay, I’m grateful that Democrats and a few Republicans came together to support this common-sense plan to put Americans back to work." President Obama signed the bill into law on September 27, 2010.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Obama Administration Moves Long-Term Gulf Plan Forward

Mabus recovery plan focuses on funding, governance, involvement

EPA Administrator to lead ecosystem task force

The Obama administration has put forward an aggressive restoration plan, including a call for dedicated funds, to help strengthen the gulf region’s environment, economy, and health following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Ray Maybus
The restoration plan, written by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, was submitted to the president today. A key recommendation in the report is that Congress dedicates a significant amount of any civil penalties obtained from parties responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill into a Gulf Coast Recovery Fund to go toward addressing long-term recovery and restoration efforts in the gulf. The president has decided to follow this recommendation, and congressional action is critical to the overall effort.

To manage the funds and to coordinate recovery projects, the Mabus report recommends that Congress authorize a Gulf Coast Recovery Council. As designed, the recovery council would include representatives from the states and federally recognized gulf tribes. The recovery council would work to ensure that local governments and citizen stakeholders also play a critical role.

Lisa Jackson
The president will not let the recovery process wait until Congress acts to approve the recovery council. He soon will sign an executive order to establish the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force. A bridge to the recovery council, this intergovernmental advisory body will coordinate restoration programs and projects in the gulf region. It will focus on efforts to create more resilient and healthy gulf coast ecosystems, while also encouraging support for economic recovery and long-term health issues. Given her extensive environmental experience, ability to work successfully with stakeholders, and roots in the gulf coast region, the president has named Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson to serve as task force chair.

The task force will be expected to coordinate with the Department of Health and Human Services on public health issues and with the Department of Commerce and other federal departments and agencies, as appropriate, on ways to improve the economic impact of ecosystem restoration.

The Mabus report recommends continued support for individuals, families, and businesses to help them navigate the claims process, and to give assistance to communities to identify additional needs. It urges a media campaign – paid for by the oil spill’s responsible parties – to help restore public confidence in the seafood industry and promote tourism in the area. The report examines ways that the gulf can take advantage of opportunities in emerging industries. The report also identifies critical needs for health and human services across the region and recommends continued engagement with the nonprofit sector.

In June, as the urgent oil spill response efforts were still underway, President Obama tapped Secretary Mabus, a former governor of Mississippi and a son of the gulf, to develop the framework for long-term recovery. The president was clear that he wanted the plan to come from the gulf, and not be imposed from Washington, D.C. on the gulf. Mabus spent countless hours hearing from thousands of local residents, businesses, and elected officials to create the foundation for this report.

Full report to the president

Chloramine+Lead Pipes+Fluoride=Contaminated Tap Water

From an  article by Olga Naidenko, Environmental Working Group Senior Scientist

American water utilities are increasingly switching to chloramines, a mixture of chlorine and ammonia, for final disinfection of drinking water. Chloramine was supposed to be a "safer" water disinfectant than chlorine because it reduces formation of toxic chlorination byproducts. A 2005 survey by the American Water Works Association found that approximately a third of all utilities now use chloramines. Water disinfection byproducts are associated with increased risk of cancer and possibly adverse effects on the development of the fetus, so minimizing their levels in drinking water is a good thing. Yet, chloramines drastically increase the leaching of lead from pipes.

Two thirds of the U.S. municipal water supply is artificially fluoridated in an effort to prevent tooth decay. But fluoridation additives in tap water are not the same form of fluoride as found in toothpaste. Typically, water is fluoridated with fluorosilicic acid (FSA) or its salt, sodium fluosilicate, collectively referred to as fluorosilicates. In contrast, fluoride in toothpaste is usually in form of simple sodium fluoride salt, NaF.

Fluorosilicates have a unique affinity for lead. In fact, lead fluorosilicate is one of the most water-soluble forms of lead.  When fluorosilicates in water pass through lead-containing pipes and metal fixtures, the fluorosilicates extract high levels of soluble lead from leaded-brass metal parts. Researchers have found that the mixture of the two chemicals: disinfectant (whether chlorine or chloramine) with fluorosilicic acid has a drastically increased potency, leaching amazingly high quantities of lead. This lead goes into our drinking water and right on into our bodies, where they wreak havoc by poisoning our heart, kidneys and blood, causing irreversible neurological damage and impairing reproductive function.

Chlorine and chloramine are probably here to stay for some time. On the other hand, fluoride, or, specifically, water fluoridation with fluorosilicates, is quite dispensable. There is clear evidence that fluoride dental products significantly reduce the incidence of cavities. In contrast, a substantial and growing body of peer-reviewed science suggests that ingesting fluoride in tap water does not provide any additional dental benefits other than those offered by fluoride toothpaste and may present serious health risks.

In case of fluoridation and chloramines, what emerges at the end of the pipe (our faucets) is a potentially highly hazardous mixture of fluorosilicates, lead, and residual levels of disinfectants. To protect the health of our families today, we can buy a water filters to remove heavy metals and disinfection byproducts from my drinking water with a simple pitcher filter.

Water treatment chemistry is still insufficiently understood by scientists and specific water quality outcomes depend on the particular chemical interactions found in each water treatment and distribution system. To protect the health of the entire nation, we really need to consider if our current methods of water treatment can withstand scientific scrutiny, or whether they should be re-assessed so as to provide safe, healthy tap water to all Americans. (EWG EnviroBlog, 7/13/2009) [Provided by Karen Blagburn-Editorial, Writing, and Design Services 202.413.8049]

Monday, September 27, 2010

Energy Now: Clean Skies TV Changes Its Name & Time


Clean Skies TV is changing its name to "Energy Now" and shifting its time from 9:30 a.m on Sunday before "This Week" to 11:00 a.m. on ABC's WJLA TV 7 following "This Week."

Energy Now will cover energy and environmental issues and will still be hosted by Susan McGinnis, left, and feature the regular cast of great reporters (Tyler Suiters, Lee Patrick Sullivan, etc), as well as expert contributors.

EPA Cracks Down on Pollution From Chesapeake Bay States

The Environmental Protection Agency is threatening to punish five mid-Atlantic states with rules that could raise sewer bills and put new conditions on construction because they failed to meet deadlines to cut pollution by 2000 and 2010. Now, the deadline has been moved to 2025. [That's a threat? Sounds like the usual punt to us.]

EPA recently told Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware and New York, which together account for more than 70 percent of the pollution that causes "dead zones" in the bay, that their plans contained "serious deficiencies" and said it could force them to make up the difference with expensive new measures.

The Chesapeake's most problematic pollutants, nitrogen and phosphorus, wash downstream in treated sewage, fertilizer and animal manure. In the water, they fuel unnatural algae blooms, which suck out the oxygen that fish, crabs and oysters rely on.


Federal and state governments have been trying to fix these problems since 1983. They have spent more than $5 billion, but 27 years later, nitrogen has been cut by only about half the amount required. And a study showed phosphorus pollution going up, not down, in eight of nine major Chesapeake tributaries.

Last May, President Obama signed an executive order that shifted the EPA's role from collaborator to cop.
As of this month, states were required to submit plans for cutting pollution before 2025. When those plans came in, several states admitted that they were not sure how they would do it.

EPA noted that two plans - submitted by the District and Maryland - had "deficiencies," requiring minor corrections. But for the five states that take up the rest of the Chesapeake's 64,000-square-mile watershed, the agency found serious faults. The agency gave the states until Nov. 29 to fix these flaws. If they don't, it said, the result could be requirements that sewage plants be upgraded to remove more pollutants, or that urban areas could be forced to corral storm water with measures like "rain barrels," or grass buffers. Over the next 45 days, they will hold 18 public hearings on the Chesapeake in all six watershed states and the District. (Wash Post, 9/25/2010)

EPA Approves Trash Limit For Anacostia River

The Environmental Protection Agency approved the first multi-jurisdictional trash limit for the Anacostia River last week under the Clean Water Act, requiring the District and Montgomery and Prince George's counties to accelerate up their cleanup efforts. EPA wants an extra 600 tons of trash a year removed from the Anacostia River.  If a locality does not meet or attempt to meet the requirements within its five-year management plan, it could face a penalty of $37,500 a day per violation, according to the Clean Water Act.

Skimmer boats owned and operated by the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority already take about 400 tons of trash out of the Anacostia each year. Earth Day volunteers for the Anacostia Watershed Society removed 25 tons from the river in April.

There are about 15 pollution limits in place to reduce fecal bacteria, nitrogen and other pollutants in the water. But trash has always been a very visible and steady problem in the highly urbanized watershed. Storm water systems permits are key element of the plan. Jurisdictions are given one year to figure out how to clean up their system under the permit. Annual reports are required to ensure the plan is working, which allows for modifications, if necessary.

The Washington, DC Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) has begun a $2.6 billion project, the largest the authority has built, to reduce nitrogen and trash flowing to the river from its combined sewer overflow system. The project will construct Metro-size tunnels to hold the overflow during rainstorms until there is enough capacity at Blue Plains to treat the storm water.

The D.C. Council approved 5-cent tax on plastic bags has led to a 66 percent reduction in plastic bags in the water. The District spends about $6 million a year on litter removal. Montgomery County spends about $3.1 million a year on picking up litter. (Wash Post, 9/26/2010)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

EPA Requiring CO2 Plans in State Implementation Plans (SIPs)

The Environmental Protection Agency is taking more steps to implement its greenhouse gas Tailoring Rule, which will restrict emissions from new and modified large stationary sources such as power plants and petroleum refineries beginning January 2, 2011. On September 2, 2010, the agency released two draft rules for implementing the agency’s new permitting requirements under the Clean Air Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) program.[1] Meanwhile, Congress is expected to vote this fall on proposals to block or delay EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions under existing Clean Air Act requirements, and litigation over EPA’s rules moves forward. But unless the courts or Congress intervene, limits on GHG emissions on stationary source will begin to go into effect early next year.

The first of the actions EPA released this month is a proposed determination that the Clean Air Act implementation plans (State Implementation Plan or SIPs) in thirteen states are “substantially inadequate” because their PSD programs do not apply to new or modified greenhouse gas-emitting sources. EPA would require that non-compliant states issue revised SIPs within 12 months of issuance of the final rule (slated for early December 2010). In its second rule, EPA proposes assuming responsibility for PSD permitting for greenhouse gas emissions for those states that do not timely submit compliant SIPs, via a Federal Implementation Plan (FIP).

FULL ARTICLE - Marten Law

States with “Substantially Inadequate” SIPs

• Alaska
• Arizona (excluding Maricopa County, Pima County, and Indian Country)
• Arkansas
• California (Sacramento Air Quality Management District only)
• Connecticut
• Florida
• Idaho
• Kansas
• Kentucky
• Nebraska
• Nevada (Clark County only)
• Oregon
• Texas

Marten Law

Friday, September 24, 2010

Chinese Dominate Precious Metals

China Controlling Rare Earth Elements

China's control over supplies of so-called rare-earth elements includes a group of 17 metallic elements with magnetic properties suited for high-tech applications such as computer hard drives and digital cameras. Rare-earth elements are also key to "green" technology: Energy-efficient light bulbs use europium and yttrium, while hybrid car batteries and wind-power turbines use neodymium. While rare-earth ore deposits are found around the globe, China's dominates the mining and processing of these elements. According to an April 2010 Government Accountability Office report, China now produces approximately 97% of the world's rare-earth oxides, the raw materials that can be further refined into metals and blended into alloys that can be made into finished components.


Rare Earth Oxides
Rare-earth metals have important military applications because of their magnetic strength, which allows for extraordinary miniaturization of components. The fins that steer precision bombs, for instance, have samarium-cobalt permanent magnet motors. The motors that run the rudder and tail fins on a high-performance fighter aircraft like the Air Force F-22 Raptor are built with lightweight, rare-earth magnets. Neodymium is found in the solid-state lasers used to designate targets. (WSJ, 9/23/2010)

Orlan Johnson, Chairman, Securities Investor Protection Corp

Orlan Johnson, Zina Johnson, Barack Obama
Orlan Johnson, 48, is the Chairman of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), having been confirmed to that position in February 2010. He is also a partner in the Business Department of Saul Ewing in Washington, DC. He has in-depth and practical experience in mergers and acquisitions, stock and asset acquisitions and dispositions, corporate financing, joint ventures, proxy contests and tender offers, and general corporate governance matters. Mr. Johnson was an original member of Obama national finance committee and served on campaign policy committees related to transportation insfrastructure, finance/banking and energy issues.

Prior to joining Saul Ewing, Mr. Johnson was Of Counsel at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, where he served as co-head of its regulatory practice in the Washington, DC office. Before that, he served for nine years as a Staff Attorney and Branch Chief in the Division of Investment Management for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In this capacity, his primary responsibilities included advising the Commission on the regulation of exempt utility companies and utility companies registered under the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935.

In addition to his legal practice, Mr. Johnson is an adjunct professor of law at Howard University School of Law where he teaches Securities Regulation classes.

Johnson is married to Zina Johnson, a gospel musician. They have three children, Nia, Adam and Jair and live in Bowie. (Wash Post, Gerson Lehman Group)

Johnson has a J.D. from the Howard University School of Law, 1987 and received his B.A. from Andrews University in 1984.

Green DMV Starts "The Green Faith Project"

GREEN DMV is working with faith based organizations of various denominations to fight poverty and pollution in our Nation's Capitol. Introducing "The Green Faith Project."

Green DMV is non-profit organization seeking to promote clean energy and green jobs in low-income communities across America as a pathway out of poverty. The organization was founded and self-funded by cofounders, Philip O'Neal and Rhon Hayes in 2007. The initial focus is our nation's capital and the Washington Metropolitan Area (Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia - DMV) to help influence policy change in the region that will spur sustainable green job growth and equitable environmental policies.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pledge To America: Environmental Perspective

The Center supports some provisions of the GOP's "Pledge To America" and we oppose other measures included in the proposal.

Support:

We pledge to honor families, traditional marriage, life, and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values.

Our plan stands on the principles of smaller, more accountable government; economic freedom; lower taxes; fiscal responsibility; protecting life, American values, and the Constitution; and providing for a robust national defense.

Permanently Stop All Job-Killing Tax Hikes, Give Small Businesses a Tax Deduction,
Rein In the Red Tape Factory in Washington, DC, Repeal Job-Killing Small Business Mandates, Act Immediately to Reduce Spending, Cut Government Spending to Pre-Stimulus, Pre-Bailout Levels, Establish a Hard Cap on New Discretionary Spending, Cut Congress’ Budget, Hold Weekly Votes on Spending Cuts, End Government Control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Purchase Health Insurance Across State Lines, Permanently Prohibit Taxpayer Funding of Abortion,

Oppose:

We offer a plan to repeal and replace the government takeover of health care. (The Center supports the Obama Health Care Plan)

We will fight to increase access to domestic energy sources and oppose attempts to impose a national "cap and trade" energy tax. (The Center supports Cap & Trade)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What Makes Your School Green? Video Contest

Share your story, win cool prizes, and change the world!

From September 15th to October 27th, YouthNoise is teaming up with Link TV and the
Redford Center to host the Green Schools Media Challenge.

The contest is a project of Youth Building Healthy Communities, a campaign where young leaders use their community organizing skills to fight health disparities and improve their neighborhoods. The Green Schools Media Challenge highlights high school and college students who are taking action to green their schools. This could include documenting scenes from the
school garden, proposing energy-efficient lighting in classrooms, explaining how to start an Environmental Club, or creating posters in art class to inform students about healthy food options. Students from across the US will share their stories and solutions, and inspire others to get involved and make an impact, too.

The contest begins on September 15th and runs through October 27th. During the challenge, students will upload video or photo entries with short text descriptions. Winners will be determined by online voting and a judging panel that consists of celebrities, activists, and filmmakers.

The winning films or photo entries will be featured at the Redford Center Green Schools
Summit in Sundance, Utah and aired to millions on Link TV. Winners will also receive fun
prizes, such as autographed CDs from hip-hop artists, a new outfit from Scifen, messenger
bags, and eco-friendly school supplies.

For more information

U.S. Chamber To Host Conversation on Energy Taxes

U.S. Chamber Energy Institute Hosts Call on Economic Consequences of Proposed Energy Taxes

On Wednesday, September 22 at 10:00 a.m. Eastern, Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, will host a conference call to discuss the potential economic consequences of tax increases on the U.S. energy industry currently being proposed by Obama administration and some Members of Congress.

Harbert will moderate the call and discuss the impact that new taxes would have on the U.S. energy sector and the more than 9 million U.S. jobs it supports. Joining her will be IHS CERA Chairman Daniel Yergin and Chief Energy Strategist David Hobbs, authors of the newly released report -- Fiscal Fitness: How Taxes at Home Help Determine Competiveness Abroad. The report examines the tax policies of the 10 countries that are home to the largest international oil companies and finds the United States ranks near the bottom as a home base for overseas oil and gas investment.

Additionally, Pam Olson, tax partner at Skadden, Arps and former assistant secretary for tax policy at the U.S. Department of Treasury will be on the call to provide additional analysis of the tax code and the impact of the proposed tax increases.

WHO: Karen Harbert, President and CEO of the Institute for 21st Century Energy
Daniel Yergin, Chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates
David Hobbs, Chief Energy Strategist for IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates
Pam Olson, Tax Partner at Skadden, Arps; and Former Assistant Secretary for
Tax Policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury

WHAT: Conference call with reporters to discuss proposed energy taxes

WHEN: Wednesday, September 22 at 10:00 a.m. EDT

WHERE: Dial-in number: (866) 892-8705 Passcode: 1485421

RSVP: Credentialed members of the media are invited to attend. To register, email
or call 202-463-5945. For more information about
the forum, visit.

The mission of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy is to unify policymakers, regulators, business leaders, and the American public behind a common sense energy strategy to help keep America secure, prosperous, and clean. Through policy development, education, and advocacy, the Institute is building support for meaningful action at the local, state, national, and international levels.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.

EPA Recognizes Businesses & Churches On Energy

Small Businesses and Congregations Improve Energy Efficiency and Fight Climate Change

EPA names nine Energy Star small business and congregation award winners


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is recognizing nine small businesses and congregations for their achievements in the fight against climate change. Through effective energy management practices and innovative efficiency solutions, all nine organizations demonstrate that no matter the size, it is possible to save money and use significantly less energy and to power the buildings where Americans work, play, and learn.

The nine organizations all used different tactics to save energy in their buildings. Examples include installing programmable thermostats, lighting sensors, insulation, and a white roof; upgrading to more efficient LED and compact fluorescent lighting and Energy Star qualified equipment; and supporting employee energy-conscious behaviors. Together, these award-winning organizations reduced annual greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from the annual electricity use of more than 650 homes, while saving more than $850,000 on their energy bills.

The 2010 Energy Star Small Business and Congregations Award winners used tools and resources provided by EPA’s Energy Star program to develop their plans and measure and track their accomplishments. By strategically managing the energy performance of their facilities, these small businesses and congregations cut utility costs without sacrificing features, convenience, style, or comfort while making significant contributions to a cleaner environment.

The small business award winners are AutoFair Companies (Manchester, N.H.), Dagher Engineering (New York, N.Y.), Engineering Excellence (Cincinnati, Ohio), and Patriot Subaru (Saco, Maine).

The congregations award winners are First Baptist Church of Orlando (Orlando, Fla.), First Parish Needham (Needham, Mass.), Lakewood Church (Houston, Texas), Saint Alban’s Episcopal Church (Monroe, Ga.), and Swarthmore Presbyterian Church (Swarthmore, Pa.).

More about the 2010 Energy Star Small Business Award winners

More about the 2010 Energy Star Congregation Award winners

Saturday, September 18, 2010

BP's Macondo Well Completely Dead With Bottom Kill

Thad Allen
Retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad W. Allen, left, has declared that BP's Macondo well is physically incapable of leaking oil because the "relief well" finally broke through at more than 17,000 feet below the Gulf of Mexico floor.

The "bottom kill" filled in the empty space between the pipe and the shaft's rock wall with cement. BP found no oil in this space. A final pressure test will allow the declaration of death.

The well was sealed off July 15, and cement was forced down its central pipe in a so-called "static kill" in early August.

Drilling began on the gulf floor a mile down and continued for another 2.4 miles into the earth. The relief well drill hit a seven-inch shaft and opened a hole into the space between the shaft's wall and the outer layer of pipe. When no oil came up, they knew that the Macondo well was plugged at its source.

(Wash Post, 9/18/2010)

Constellation Energy to Acquire CPower

Constellation Energy Group Inc. of Baltimore plans to acquire energy management and demand response provider CPower. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. CPower, headquartered in New York, designs and manages programs that allow commercial, utility and public sector companies to reduce energy use during peak periods. The acquisition will expand the Baltimore company’s presence in key markets such as Texas and New England. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter, subject to customary closing conditions. (September 17, 2010 By Associated Press, The Daily Record, 9/17/2010)

Friday, September 17, 2010

UK Parliament Committee Hearing on Deepwater Oil Drilling

BP boss Tony Hayward and the company’s Head of Safety, Mark Bly, appeared before members of parliament on the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee on Wednesday, September 15th to talk about deepwater drilling in the UK and the implications of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The Committee’s inquiry, launched in July, aims to establish:

Whether the Government was right to rule out a moratorium on deepwater drilling in the UK

Whether the UK’s existing safety and environmental regulatory regime needs updating in the light of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill

What the risks are of deepwater drilling to the west of Shetland
The hearing is the second in the Committee’s inquiry. Last week the Committee heard from Transocean and Oil and Gas UK who insisted that the UK’s regulatory regime was fit for purpose and warned that imposing a moratorium on deepwater drilling in the UK would harm our energy security.

Watch the first session: UK Deepwater Drilling - Implications of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Witnesses:

Dr Tony Hayward, Group Chief Executive, BP plc
Mr Bernard Looney, Managing Director, BP North Sea
Mr Mark Bly, Group Head of Safety and Operations, BP PlcTimings are approximate

(Parliament UK)

South Africa Ends Pebble Bed Modular Reactor Program

The Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) project has been cancelled and the program has been reduced to a few people with the focus now being on the retention of its intellectual property, certain skills and the preservation of its assets. The PBMR project has not been able to secure an anchor customer or another investment partner and it is estimated that further investment in the project could exceed an additional R30-billion. The Westinghouse consortium was lost in May when Westinghouse withdrew from the programme.

The government also announced that should the country embark on a nuclear build programme in the future it will not be using the PBMR technology, which was still in the research and design phase. The project has been missing deadlines constantly, with the construction of the first demonstration model delayed further and further into the future. Over the last years a total R9,244-billion has been invested in the PBMR project, government having contributed an amount R7,419-billion or 80,3% of that amount. Eskom also contributed 8,8% with Westinghouse and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) accounting for 4,9% each.

Originally, it was envisaged that Eskom would be the PBMR's anchor customer, with a possible purchase of up to 24 reactors as part of the country's expansion of its electricity generation capacity to meet increasing demand with a first demonstration PBMR to be constructed on the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station site in the Western Cape. "However, between 2005 and 2009, it became increasingly clear that, based on the direct-cycle electricity design, PBMR's potential investor and customer market was severely restricted and it was unable to acquire either; hence government has been constrained to make decisions about the future of the project. (Engineering News, 9/16/2010)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Federal Judge Rules Brandywine Landfill Lawsuit Can Proceed

A federal judge ruled September 8 that a lawsuit brought by environmental groups can proceed against Mirant Maryland Ash Management, which runs the Brandywine coal combustion waste landfill. The landfill operator is accused of polluting local waterways. Mirant filed a motion in June in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland to dismiss charges brought by the Maryland Department of the Environment that the company violated the federal Clean Water Act. Judge Peter J. Messitte denied Mirant's motion to dismiss the lawsuit as well as another motion Mirant filed that requested several local environmental groups not be allowed to join MDE as plaintiffs in the case.

MDE is calling on Mirant to stop the alleged discharge of pollutants, treat any existing contamination and submit reports that detail the extent of contamination, among other things, according to the department's complaint. If the court rules against Mirant, the company also could face a penalty of as much as $122 million for federal violations and nearly $22 million for state violations, based on a set daily rate for each violation.

In the original complaint filed in March, MDE accused Mirant of discharging toxic pollutants at levels higher than what was allowed by their discharge permit. The Brandywine landfill stores the waste byproducts of coal combustion from Mirant's Chalk Point Generating Plant in Aquasco. Coal combustion waste byproducts have been stored at the landfill since 1970, but Mirant did not purchase the landfill from another regional power company, Pepco, until December 2000.
MDE claimed it found high levels of pollutants, including arsenic, cadmium and selenium, in ponds that eventually discharge into the Mataponi Creek. The creek flows into the Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary, which then flows into the Patuxent River.

Patuxent Riverkeeper, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club are the groups involved in the case. (Gazette.Net, 9/16/2010)

Inactive Oil & Gas Wells in the Gulf of Mexico To Be Removed

The Bureau of Ocean Energy that morphed from the Minerals Management Service has ordered Gulf of Mexico offshore oil and gas operators to plug wells that been inactive for the past five years. Production platforms and pipelines must be decommissioned if they are not being used for exploration or production, even under an active lease.

According to the U.S. Department of the Interior Department, more than 3,000 inactive wells and about 650 production platforms need to be dismantled and removed in the Gulf of Mexico. This "idle iron," inactive wells and platforms that litter the gulf, poses hazards to shipping and run some of the greatest risks of leaks and accidents during storms. Although the Interior Federal regulations require idle structures to be decommissioned - a process that involves scrapping iron and steel platforms and pipelines or turning them into artificial reefs - within one year of the lease's expiration date. The regulations are rarely enforced.

Operators believe that inactive wells could become economically viable again depending on oil prices. The Minerals Management Service has been unable to inspect the thousands of sites in the gulf.

Hercules Offshore and Seahawk Drilling are two companies involved in dismantling platforms. (Wash Post, 9/15/2010)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hearing on Enbridge Pipeline Oil Spill in Marshall, Michigan

Summary of the Subject Matter

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (Committee), Chairman James Oberstar, held a hearing today to receive testimony on the recent Enbridge pipeline failure in Marshall, Michigan. The failure resulted in the release of an estimated one million gallons of crude oil into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River. The Kalamazoo River flows into Lake Michigan. On August 25, 2010, Enbridge estimated that the total cost of damages to the operator will be between $300 and $400 million. These charges include emergency response, environmental remediation and cleanup activities associated with the crude oil release, costs to repair the pipeline and related inspection costs, potential claims by third parties, and lost revenue.

Line 6B originates in Griffith, Indiana, and runs eastward to Sarnia, Ontario. The pipeline is a 30-inch, carbon steel pipeline that was constructed in 1969 using Normal Pipe Size 30, grade X52, 0.250-inch nominal wall thickness pipe. About one-third of the pipe was manufactured using a Flash Weld process, while the other two-thirds used a Double Submerged Arc Weld (DSAW) process. The pipe at the location of the failure was DSAW and was manufactured by Italsider/Siderius in Italy. The pipe was coated in the field using then-commonly used polyethylene tape as a corrosion barrier. Line 6B transports up to 190,000 barrels of light synthetic, medium, and heavy crude oil per day from Griffith, Indiana, to Sarnia, Ontario.

Although the hearing is focused on the Enbridge rupture in Michigan, Members were advised that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will be able to answer questions at the hearing related to the September 9, 2010 Enbridge release of crude oil on Line 6A in Romeoville, Illinois, and the deadly September 9, 2010 Pacific Gas & Electric natural gas explosion in San Bruno, California, as well as Federal oversight of gas and hazardous liquid pipeline safety.

Panel 1

Mrs. Debra Miller
Mrs. Susan Connolly
Ms. Michelle BarlondSmith
Mrs. Darla Thorpe
Mr. Andy Buchsbaum

Panel 2

The Honorable Deborah Hersman
The Honorable John D. Porcari
The Honorable Lisa Jackson
Mr. Scott Matsen
Ms. Kelli D. Scott

Panel 3

Mr. Patrick Daniel

36 Governments To Meet in Mexico on GHG Reductions

Thirty-six Governments to Meet in Mexico on Greenhouse Gas Reductions

Ministers to Advance Cooperation on Methane Reductions


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson will join ministers from the Methane to Markets Partnership countries in Mexico City on October, 1, 2010. At the meeting, the United States will work with partner nations to encourage global action to reduce methane emission sources and identify possible additional resources to achieve this goal. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas (GHG) that is 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in warming the atmosphere.

The meeting, co-hosted by EPA and Mexico’s Ministry of Environment, will also celebrate the accomplishments of the partnership, which include supporting more than 300 methane emission reduction projects around the world. The projects, when fully developed, will reduce GHG emissions in an amount equivalent to annual emissions from 11.4 million cars. The ministers are expected to reaffirm their commitment to strong global action on methane for an additional five years.

The Methane to Markets Partnership reduces GHG emissions by promoting cost-effective recovery and use of methane through global projects. Methane projects are also important because they provide new sources of clean energy, while improving air and water quality. Since 2004, the partnership has proven to be one of the most effective international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, growing from 14 to 36 country partners, representing nearly 70 percent of global methane emissions today. More than 1,000 public and private sector organizations have also signed on to date.

The partnership has leveraged nearly $360 million in investment from private companies and financial institutions. EPA estimates that if currently available methane reduction technologies were fully implemented globally, annual GHG emissions reductions equivalent to the annual emissions from over 280 million cars could be achieved by 2020 could be achieved at relatively low cost. Achieving these reductions could make a significant impact on climate change by helping to stabilize or even lower global atmospheric concentrations of methane.

More information about the ministerial meeting

More information about the partnership

More information about EPA’s International Priorities

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

San Bruno Explosion Shows Risk of Natural Gas Pipelines

The explosion of a 30-inch steel pipeline section leveled 15 acres of homes in the San Francisco suburb of San Bruno, California and killed four people. The safety of decades old pipelines was put into question by this catastrophic event. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration was established in 2004 to "protect the American public and the environment by ensuring the safe and secure movement of hazardous materials." They will now have to put much more attention on the safety of natural gas pipelines nationwide. There are more than 2 million miles of natural-gas pipeline in the United States." (AOL News)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Gus Speth's New Publication Urges Green Transformation

In the four decades since the environmental revolution of the 1970s, how far have we come?

This is the question that Gus Speth posed when he took the podium for the National Council for Science and the Environment’s (NCSE) 10th John H. Chafee Memorial Lecture at the New Green Economy Conference last January. Speth challenged the American environmental movement’s social, political, and economic progress in his compelling speech, “A New American Environmentalism and the New Economy.”

NCSE has published the entirety of Gus Speth’s lecture for broad distribution. To get your own hard copy of “A New American Environmentalism and the New Economy,” complete and return the order form. You may also download a free PDF at the same site.

Speth points out that, “One of the most remarkable and yet under-noticed things going on in our country today is the proliferation of innovative models of ‘local living’ economies, sustainable communities and transition towns and for-benefit businesses which prioritize community and environment over profit and growth.”

Video of Gus Speth’s Chafee Memorial Lecture.

About Gus Speth James Gustave Speth, Esq., a leader in environmental education, recently joined New York City-based think tank Demos as a Distinguished Senior Fellow and began a position as Professor of Law at the Vermont Law School in July 2010. In 2009 he completed a decade-long tenure as Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. From 1993 to 1999, Speth was Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and chair of the UN Development Group. Prior to his service at the UN, he was founder and president of the World Resources Institute; professor of law at Georgetown University; chairman of the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality (Carter Administration); and senior attorney and cofounder, Natural Resources Defense Council. He earned degrees from Yale University and Yale Law School, and he was a Rhodes Scholar.

About the John H. Chafee Memorial Lecture. Each year the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) hosts transformative speakers in its annual National Conference on Science Policy and the Environment. The most prestigious of the conference’s speaking roles is that in memory if the late John H. Chafee, a visionary leader in political, social and environmental reform.

Position Changes at EPA's Office of Public Affairs

Stephanie Owens, left, has replaced M. Allyn Brooks LaSure as Deputy Associate Administrator in the Office of Public Affairs. Owens was Director of the Office of Public Affairs. Owens was formally the senior vice president of The Agency LLC, a consulting firm specializing in the development of corporate social responsibility strategies. Her clients included the National Football League and Major League Baseball. She also served as the Vice President of Collaborative Initiatives for the American Cancer Society, Special Assistant to Vice President Al Gore for the Federal Interagency Task Force on St. Petersburg, Senior Advisor to Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and Special Assistant to Secretary Henry Cisneros. Owens is a graduate of the University of Southern California and native of Detroit, Michigan.

Adora Andy, right, who was EPA Press Secretary has also been elevated to Deputy Associate Administrator for Communications in the Office of Public Affairs. Andy was a television News Producer at WPTY in Memphis for two years. Prior to that, she was a producer and reporter in Columbia, Missouri. Andy served as Press Secretary for Congressman Harold Ford, Jr.'s U.S. Senate Campaign in Nashville, Tennessee. She was Public Information Officer for the DeKalb County District Attorney's Office. Andy also has news experience at CNBC Europe in London. Andy was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas and graduated from the University of Missouri's School of Journalism.

Dru Ealons, Norris McDonald, Stephanie Owens
Dru Ealons, far left, replaced Stephanie Owens, as Director in the Office of Public Outreach.

(ZoomInfo, LOHAS)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

BP Rejects Center's Partnership Proposal


PG&E Pipeline Explosion & Fire Near San Francisco Kills Four

A gas line explosion and fire killed at least four people, destroyed at least 37 homes and more than 50 people were taken to hospitals in San Bruno's Crestmoor neighborhood, a suburb of San Francisco. PG&E Corporation, which owns the gas and electric utility that provides service to 15 million Californians, said one of its gas-transmission lines had ruptured at the site of the blast. Investigators will seek to learn the cause of the explosion. (WSJ, 9/10/2010)