Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Alaska Pebble Mine

The proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska is a mineral exploration project investigating a very large copper, gold and molybdenum mineral deposit in the Bristol Bay region of Southwest Alaska. The proposal to mine the ore deposit, using large-scale operations and infrastructure, is controversial.  The proposed Pebble mine would be the largest open-pit mine ever constructed in North America. Its massive footprint—including a 1300-acre mining pit, a 3,600-acre tailings impoundment and a 685-foot-high earthen dam—lies across the headwaters of the two most productive salmon-bearing rivers in Bristol Bay.  The salmon-bearing rivers in Bristol Bay headwaters are an essential nursery for healthy salmon populations.

Proponents argue that the mine will create jobs, provide tax revenue to the state of Alaska, and reduce American dependence on foreign sources of raw materials.  Pebble proponents question the EPA's right to deny permits before submitting an application.

Opponents argue that the mine would adversely affect the entire Bristol Bay watershed; and that the possible consequences to fish populations, when mining effluents escape planned containments, are simply too great to risk. Much of this debate concerns the tentative plan to impound large amounts of water, waste rock, and mine tailings behind several earthen dams at the mine site.  Opponents believe the Pebble project mine's hundreds of jobs pale in comparison to the 14,000 current jobs tied to the sustainable Bristol Bay salmon fishery, an industry that requires a healthy habitat: basically swapping 14,000 fishing jobs for 1,000 mining jobs.  (Wiki, WSJ, 10/29/2012)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

U.S. Coal Exports On Record Pace in 2012

Fueled By Steam Coal Growth

U.S. 2012 coal exports, supported by rising steam coal exports, are expected to break their previous record level of almost 113 million tons, set in 1981. Exports for the first half of 2012 reached almost 67 million tons, surpassing most annual export volumes dating back to 1949. U.S. coal exports averaged 56 million tons per year in the decade preceding 2011. If exports continue at their current pace, the United States will export 133 million tons this year, although EIA forecasts exports of 125 million tons.

Total U.S. coal exports, including both steam and metallurgical (met) coal, were almost 13 million tons in June 2012, surpassing April's record-setting amount by 0.2 million tons. June was also the third consecutive month of exports surpassing 12 million tons. The global economy has been slowing, especially in China, the world's largest coal consumer by a large margin. As a result, EIA does not expect coal exports to continue at their current pace. Exports in August, the latest data available, reflect some of the weakening global demand for coal, falling 2 million tons from the record June levels. While declines in export levels inject some uncertainty, exports remain elevated with lower August exports still 13% above August 2011 levels. As a result, 2012 is still expected to surpass the 1981 record.

This increase in exports marks a significant reversal from the general downward trajectory of U.S. coal exports beginning in the early 1990s, which bottomed out in 2002 just under 40 million tons, the lowest level since 1961. Coal exports in 2011 rose 171% from 2002, with only a brief interruption by the global recession. Export growth accelerated after the recession, with consecutive post-2009 growth of more than 20 million tons per year, a level of growth not seen since the 1979-to-1981 export boom. Current data for 2012 (through August) show coal exports are growing even faster and should more than double 2009 export levels, buoyed by growth in U.S. steam coal.

Increases in steam coal exports come after years of losing ground to met coal exports. While met coal has typically held a larger market share of U.S. exports than steam (its share remained relatively close to 55% over a prolonged period), between 2009 and 2011 met coal averaged two-thirds of U.S. coal exports. However, current data (through August 2012) show that steam coal exports are rebounding, growing about 50% in 2011 and on track to grow another 50% in 2012. In a near mirror image of 2010, steam exports are now driving U.S. coal export growth, accounting for 95% of the annualized 2012 export increase—pushing coal exports to likely reach their highest level on record this year.  (DOE-EIA)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Green Groups Want Fracking Chemicals Reported

Oil and Gas Would Join Other Industries, Including Coal, That Already Report to the Toxics Release Inventory; Federal Disclosure of Fracking Chemical Pollution Not Yet Required.

The Environmental Integrity Project, along with 16 other national, regional, and local organizations, have submited a petition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asking it to include the oil and gas extraction industry (including hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” for short) in its Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reporting requirements.

TRI reporting is already required of most other energy industries including coal.  The groups argue that the loophole for the oil & gas extraction industries makes no sense, given the huge amounts of toxic chemicals involved that have only increased with the rapid rise of fracking.  Since oil and gas facilities are currently not required to report such data, the full scope of environmental and public health risks to citizens and communities is not known. The   toxics-related risks include air pollution, drinking water contamination, and discharges to rivers and streams.  

The petition was be unveiled during a live, phone-based news conference.

Speakers on the phone-based news event:

* Eric Schaeffer, director, Environmental Integrity Project;

* Amy Mall, senior policy analyst, Natural Resources Defense Council;

* Alan Septoff, research director, Earthworks;

* Pam Judy, a resident living near a natural gas compressor station, Carmichaels, Pennsylvania;

* Deb Thomas, organizer, Powder River Basin Resource Council, and resident of Clark, Wyoming;

* Eric Robinson, board president, CitizenShale, and resident of McHenry, Maryland.

The TRI is an EPA-maintained database which contains information on the disposal and other releases of over 650 toxic chemicals from thousands of facilities nationwide. One of the primary purposes of TRI data is to inform citizens, communities, and lawmakers of potentially hazardous or toxic releases of chemicals in their area.  This data allows communities to plan for their futures, lawmakers to assess the effectiveness of and need for environmental controls, and the facilities themselves to review and often voluntarily reduce their toxic releases.

CONTACT:  Leslie Anderson Maloy, (703) 276-3256 or lmaloy@hastingsgroup.com.


The Environmental Integrity Project is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization established in March of 2002 by former EPA enforcement attorneys to advocate for effective enforcement of environmental laws. EIP has three goals: 1) to provide objective analyses of how the failure to enforce or implement environmental laws increases pollution and affects public health; 2) to hold federal and state agencies, as well as individual corporations, accountable for failing to enforce or comply with environmental laws; and 3) to help local communities obtain the protection of environmental laws.

President Obama: A Plan For Jobs & Middle Class Security

A Plan For Jobs & Middle Class Economic Security

Energy Made in America. Dependence on foreign oil hurts our economy and imperils national security, which is why President Obama has set a goal of cutting our net oil imports in half by 2020. President Obama’s policies have helped to cut net imports by nearly 30% in his first term already, and his plans to expand domestic energy production will support more than 600,000 jobs in the natural gas sector alone. We can’t fuel our recovery without developing more American-made energy.

To continue to fuel booming exports, the President is leading the fight to safely and responsibly develop all sources of domestic energy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and while protecting the environment. Since President Obama took office, America has regained its position as the world’s leading producer of natural gas. We’ve doubled renewable energy production from wind and solar, and domestic oil production grew to a 14-year high. The result: our dependence on foreign oil is at a 20-year low this year. The number of oil rigs in production in the United States is now at a 25-year high. Natural gas production is at record levels, and electricity generation from wind, solar, and geothermal is on track to double by the end of 2012. Wind energy production in the US now supports over 75,000 clean energy jobs across the country.

President Obama has made a historic $5 billion investment in clean coal, our largest source of domestic power, to develop new technologies to capture carbon pollution. And President Obama has doubled fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks. All of this is putting thousands of Americans back to work. President Obama’s plan will grow America’s piece of the global clean energy market, creating well-paying jobs here at home, including more than 600,000 jobs in natural gas alone. And by growing American energy, we can keep our young men and women working here at home, not fighting wars on foreign soil.

The way forward: Expanding underground and clean energy productionand cutting foreign oil imports in half by 2020. President Obama is pursuing an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy that will produce reliable, affordable energy and take steps to protect our climate:

1. Opening up millions of acres for exploration and development, including undiscovered oil and gas resources in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic.

2. Investing in domestic energy sources including wind, solar, clean coal, nuclear, and biofuels. All while increasing our energy efficiency.

3. Doubling fuel economy of cars and light trucks to 54.5 mpg by 2025, which will reduce oil consumption by 2.2 million barrels a day and save consumers more than $8,000 at the pump.

4. Calling on Congress to build on our success in positioning America to be the world’s leading manufacturer in high-tech batteries. President Obama is calling for extending tax credits that support clean energy manufacturing.

5. Setting a standard for utility companies so that 80% of the nation’s electricity comes from clean sources by 2035. This will help create a market for American manufacturers to make the clean energy technology we need, while improving access to cheaper, moresecure energy for U.S. manufacturers.

(BarackObama.com /plan)rackObama.com/Plans

Monday, October 22, 2012

Nuclear Power Plants Closing

More Plants Closing Than Being Built in USA

We cannot win the war against global warming if nuclear power plants are not part of the mix.  But there is a disturbing trend developing in America: older nuclear plants are closing faster than we are building plants.  Combine this with the closure of all nuclear plants in Japan due to the Fukushima incident and you have a disturbing trend.

Dominion Resources Inc. has announced its plans to close and decommission its Kewaunee Power Station in Wisconsin after it was unable to find a buyer for the nuclear power plant. The Richmond, Va.-based energy provider on Monday said that the facility is expected to stop producing power in the second quarter of 2013. Dominion plans to record a $281 million charge in the third quarter related to the closing and decommissioning of the station. The company had announced plans in April 2011 to sell the facility it purchased from Wisconsin Public Service Corp. and Wisconsin Power & Light Co. in 2005 for $220 million.

Progress Energy, now Duke Energy, has basically closed its Crystal River nuclear power plant. In 2009, Progress decided to upgrade some equipment and replace old steam generators with new ones. To get the generators in and out of the containment building, workers cut into the thick concrete wall.
Similar steam generator replacements had been successfully completed at 34 other nuclear plants, of which 14 involved cutting into the containment building. But when Progress workers cut into the wall, it cracked. After an attempted repair, workers retightened the steel tendons in the concrete that help support the structure and it cracked twice more. The plant has now sat idle for almost 10 percent of its life.

In addition, since 2009 Florida Power and Light and Progress Energy customers have paid for two nuclear power plants yet to be built. A 2006 law allows companies to charge customers more than a decade before the plants produce one watt of electricity. Customers have already paid an estimated one billion dollars. The companies say the plants will be built around 2022.

Southern California Edison's San Onofre nuclear power plant, which once supplied power to about 1.4 million homes in Southern California, has been out of commission since Jan. 31, when a steam generator tube carrying radioactive water sprang a leak, releasing a minuscule amount of radioactive steam. Edison submitted a proposal to the NRC to restart the plant's Unit 2 reactor — which showed less wear.  Edison wants to run Unit 2 at 70% power for five months to see if operating at the lower level would alleviate the overly-high-velocity steam flow that caused the tubes to vibrate and knock against each other. The more heavily damaged Unit 3 will remain offline indefinitely.

Sigh.  And only two new nuclear power plants are currently in the pipeline: 1) Plant Vogtle in Georgia and the SCANA facility in South Carolina.

(Wash Post, 9/22/2012, WPTV News Channel 5, 10/4/2012, Tampa Times, 9/1/2012, L.A. Times, 10/10/2012)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Read The Trade Magazines


By Norris McDonald

I read energy and environmental trade magazine all the time.  The mags come in all the time and hard copies are free.  I prefer hard copies.  I find great material for our blog(s).  I find that the mags are very educational, particularly from a technical standpoint.  If you want to know how scrubbers work and the latest in scrubber technology, these trade mags will keep you up to date.  Check them out.  Order them.  You will see what I am talking about

Here are some of them:

Power Engineering

Electric Light & Power

Engineered Systems

Control Design

Today's Facility Manager


Environmental Design & Control

Industrial Safety & Hygiene News

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Waterways App Can Check Quality Anywhere In USA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today launched a new app and website to help people find information on the condition of thousands of lakes, rivers and streams across the United States from their smart phone, tablet or desktop computer. The How’s My Waterway app and website uses GPS technology or a user-entered zip code or city name to provide information about the quality of local water bodies. The release of the app and website helps mark the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, which Congress enacted on October 18, 1972, giving citizens a special role in caring for the nation’s water resources. Forty years later, EPA is providing citizens with a technology-based tool to expand that stewardship.

This new app provides easy, user-friendly access to the health of a waterway, whether it is safe for swimming and fishing, and what is being done about any reported problems. People can get this information whether researching at a desktop or standing streamside looking at a smart phone.

How It Works

http://www.epa.gov/mywaterway and allow GPS-technology to identify the nearest streams, rivers or lakes or enter a zip code or city name.

RESULTS: Instantly receive a list of waterways within five miles of the search location. Each waterway is identified as unpolluted, polluted or unas­sessed. A map option offers the user a view of the search area with the results color-coded by assessment status.

DISCOVER: Once a specific lake, river or stream is selected, the How’s My Waterway app and website provides information on the type of pollution reported for that waterway and what has been done by EPA and the states to reduce it. Additional reports and technical information is available for many waterways. Read simple descriptions of each type of water pollutant, including pollutant type, likely sources and potential health risks.

MORE: Related links page connects users to popular water information on beaches, drinking water and fish and wildlife habitat based on a user’s search criteria. (EPA)

2012 Compton-To-Catalina Program A Complete Success

The 2012 Compton-To-Catalina (CTC) Program was a complete success.  The Center provided a valuable environmental service to the youth of Compton, California.  The CTC Program provided a rich environmental experience for participants and the Center engaged two churches and one community organization to participate in the program.

The Center for Environment, Commerce and Energy (Center) established a partnership with the Greater Union Baptist Church (GUBC) to operate an environmental tour called the "Compton To Catalina Program," which takes students and other young people from Compton, California to Catalina Island. The Center and the California Center for Economic Initiatives (CCFEI) are also partnering under the Compton To Catalina Program to expose Compton youth to boat repair and to provide technical training services.

Participants board the Catalina Express in Long Beach, California to make the one hour trip to the island. Once on Santa Catalina Island, the participants toured Southern California Edison's electricity generating station at Pebbly Beach, the island's primary electricity generation source. Later they boarded a semi-submersible to observe underwater life around the island.

Participants included:

April 21, 2012: First trip participants included: 1) Sam Darling, Glendale College, 2) Moriah Earley, LaSerna High School, 11th Grade, 3) Lori Wright, King-Drew High School, 11th Grade, 4) Alexandra Kidd, La Serna High School, 11th Grade, 5) Spencer Potter, Lakewood High School.      Chaperones included Sammy Darling and Norris McDonald.


October 6, 2012: Second trip participants included: 1) Carlee Shepherd, Bancroft Middle School, 2) Keiarah Mitchell, Gardena Valley Christian School, 3) Candyce Clifton, Gardena Valley Christian School, 4) Benjamin White, Mira Costa High School, 5) Darren Daniels-Stokes, King/Drew Magnet High School.  Chaperones included: Richard Hastings, Christ Center Church & Debra Hastings, Christ Center Church and Norris McDonald.

October 13, 2012: Third trip participants included: 1) Tia Bondley, 15, Centennial High School, 2) Kelsee Williams, 14, Bellflower High School, 3) Raejonette Morgan, 12, LaTiera, 4) Khalilah Muhammad, 13, New Designs Charter School-Watts, 5) Nekko Williams, 17, Home Schooled K-12.  Chaperones included Bernard Peyton and Norris McDonald.

The Compton To Catalina Program is being operated thanks to a grant from Southern California Edison.

The purpose of the program is to expose young people from Compton to the Pacific Ocean and an incredibly beautiful island. People take it for granted that the vast majority of these kids never get on the water and many people live their entire lives without directly experiencing the Pacific Ocean even though they live within five or ten miles of it. We believe that such early exposure to this environment could lead to a lifelong environmental stewardship ethic.