Thursday, May 29, 2014

President Obama West Point Speech Includes Global Warming

President Obama at West Point May 28

The Center has been encouraging the Obama administration to utilize the Defense Department (DoD) to assist in mitigating global warming.  Such DoD participation would be part of a public/private partnership to utilize wind, solar and nuclear power to provide emission free electricity and convert carbon dioxide into a transportation fuel.

You can click on the links to get more infomation about our Energy Defense Reservation Program and Defense Energy Reservation Program.

He is the excerpt that includes President Obama's comment about global warming being a national security crisis:
Keep in mind, not all international norms relate directly to armed conflict. We have a serious problem with cyber-attacks, which is why we’re working to shape and enforce rules of the road to secure our networks and our citizens. In the Asia Pacific, we’re supporting Southeast Asian nations as they negotiate a code of conduct with China on maritime disputes in the South China Sea. And we’re working to resolve these disputes through international law. That spirit of cooperation needs to energize the global effort to combat climate change -- a creeping national security crisis that will help shape your time in uniform, as we are called on to respond to refugee flows and natural disasters and conflicts over water and food, which is why next year I intend to make sure America is out front in putting together a global framework to preserve our planet.

(The White House)

Friday, May 23, 2014

U.S. Wood Pellet Exports Double in 2013 in Response to Growing European Demand

graph of U.S. wood pellet exports by destination, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on U.S. International Trade Commission data

Wood pellet exports from the United States nearly doubled last year, from 1.6 million short tons (approximately 22 trillion Btu) in 2012 to 3.2 million short tons in 2013. More than 98% of these exports were delivered to Europe, and 99% originated from ports in the southeastern and lower Mid-Atlantic regions of the country.

Wood pellets are traditionally manufactured from wood waste (including sawdust, shavings, and wood chips) that results from wood processing activities, but they can also be produced from unprocessed harvested wood (generally at a higher cost). Wood pellets are primarily used as a residential heating fuel in the United States, but wood pellets can also be used for commercial heating and power generation applications. As recently as 2008, the U.S. Forest Service estimated that approximately 80% of U.S. wood pellet production was consumed domestically. However, because of strong demand growth in Europe, wood pellet exports have been the driving factor in the growth of domestic wood pellet production in recent years.

Growth of U.S. wood pellet exports has been concentrated in southeastern states, which have advantages in terms of abundant material supply and relatively low shipping costs to Europe. Transportation cost is a large part of the total cost of wood pellets; for example, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, transportation accounted for a quarter of the delivered price of wood pellets from the Southeast to the Netherlands in mid-2013. Shipping costs generally increase with distance, so the proximity of the United States to Europe compared to wood pellet manufacturers in Brazil and western Canada provides a pricing advantage for U.S. wood pellet exporters.

European countries, particularly the United Kingdom, are using wood pellets to replace coal for electricity generation and space heating. A principal driver in market activity is the European Commission's 2020 climate and energy package, binding legislation enacted in 2009 that implements the European Union's 20-20-20 targets. The 20-20-20 targets have three individual goals for 2020: to reduce EU greenhouse gas emissions by 20% from 1990 levels, to increase the renewable portion of EU energy consumption by 20%, and to improve EU energy efficiency by 20%.

In 2013, the top five importing countries of U.S. wood pellets exports were all European: the United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Italy. The United Kingdom accounted for the majority (59%) of U.S. wood pellet exports, and more than tripled its imports from the United States between 2012 and 2013.

graph of United Kingdom wood pellet imports by source, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Eurostat data

The United Kingdom's wood pellet imports from all sources have grown from near zero in 2009 to more than 3.5 million short tons in 2013. Because of the United Kingdom's Renewables Obligation program, the operators of several large coal-fired power plants have either retrofitted existing units to cofire biomass wood pellets with coal or have converted to 100% biomass. The Drax power plant—rated at nearly 4,000 megawatts and the largest coal-fired power plant in the United Kingdom—is in the process of implementing plans to convert half of its six generating units to run solely on wood pellets. The first of these three units entered service in 2013, while the remaining two conversions are planned for completion in 2015. According to Eurostat, the United Kingdom is also a major importer of wood pellets from Canada and, to a lesser extent, from other European sources. Until 2013, Canada was the primary source of the United Kingdom's import supply.  (DOE-EIA)

Nuclear Power Reactor Decommissioning & Spent Fuel Storage Status

Vermont Yankee
In the last year, the owners of five nuclear power reactors have confirmed their early closure. Kewaunee, Crystal River 3, San Onofre (SONGS) 2 & 3 and Vermont Yankee will join the list of nine nuclear power plants already holding either a DECON or SAFSTOR license in the USA. With Kewaunee and Vermont Yankee shutting down prematurely due to an unfavourable economic climate based on low gas prices, it’s widely believed that further plant closures may follow. Despite ten nuclear power plants having already been decommissioned in the USA, much of the original knowledge has been lost through retirements, plus external events such as Fukushima and 9/11 have had a huge impact on security and emergency planning that NPP plant closures in the 90s and before didn’t have to deal with.

Couple this unprecedented level of attention towards nuclear decommissioning with the multitude of questions surrounding what will happen to spent fuel once a nuclear power plant has completely shut down, and it’s clear that the backend of the nuclear life cycle is here to stay. As a result, Nuclear Energy Insider has put together an exclusive decommissioning and spent fuel storage map to help you mark out where and when major decommissioning, demolition and Independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI) construction will be taking place.  (Nuclear Energy Insider)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Industrial Onsite Electricity Concentrated in Chemicals, Oil, and Paper Manufacturing

graph of annual U.S. industrial nameplate capacity and generation, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Power Plant Operations Report and Electric Power Annual

Onsite industrial generation represents approximately 3% of current U.S. generating capacity and approximately 4% of total megawatthours (MWh) of electricity generated in 2012, the latest year for which final data are available. More than 90% of the industrial generation capacity is concentrated in five industries. Of these industries, the chemicals, paper, and petroleum and coal industries account for more than 80% of onsite industrial generation, with the primary metals and food industries representing the remaining 20%.

Combined heat and power (CHP) facilities tend to be built in conjunction with certain industries that have heat or steam demands that directly affect their economic potential and profitability. Continuous operations with fairly constant heat or steam demands, coupled with meeting partial electricity demands, bolster the technical potential and likelihood of adoption of an industrial CHP, or cogeneration, facility and also may result in greater use of these facilities.

Power plants configured to produce both electricity and steam for other uses have a long history in the industrial sector. In the early 1900s, onsite generation was commonplace and also accounted for the majority of U.S. units because of the need for industrial heat, combined with the poor reliability and high cost of contemporary network-delivered electrical service. Subsequent improvements in electric grids throughout the nation led to a substantial decline in industrial cogeneration, with most electricity used at industrial facilities now coming from the grid rather than from onsite sources.

While the technical potential of CHP—the amount of industrial CHP possible to meet both heat and partial electric demands without taking into account measures of its cost-effectiveness—spans the entire industrial sector, the economic potential—the amount of industrial CHP that could be adopted because of its economic feasibility—helps to concentrate such potential in a few industries.

There is significant technical potential for more industrial cogeneration, which offers the potential for energy savings and cost reductions compared to the separate production of electricity and heat. Multiple policies at the federal, state, and local levels aim to promote CHP. However, even though expenditures for purchasing electricity are a significant cost for energy-intensive manufacturing facilities, the number of manufacturing facilities with and without active cogeneration suggest that CHP still faces significant challenges.

In addition to the direct sensitivities to the future cost of electricity and input fuels prices, there are other notable concerns particular to CHP investments identified by industry:
  • High or higher back-up changes or stand-by rates offered to industrial plants that want to pursue cogeneration while still maintaining a connection to the electric grid
  • Possible changes in CHP-related tax issues
  • State environmental policies
  • State siting and permitting requirements
  • Various federal standards

Obama Establishes Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument

Today,Wednesday, May 21, President Obama will sign a proclamation establishing the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in south-central New Mexico. By establishing the monument, the President will permanently protect nearly 500,000 acres to preserve the prehistoric, historic, and scientific values of the area for the benefit of all Americans. A recent independent study found that a new national monument could generate $7.4 million in new economic activity annually from new visitors and business opportunities, while preserving access for sportsmen, ranchers, and recreational users. (The White House)

Monday, May 19, 2014

EPA Finalizes 316 (b)

Standards to Protect Fish, Aquatic Life from Cooling Water Intakes 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today finalized standards to protect billions of fish and other aquatic life drawn each year into cooling water systems at large power plants and factories.

 This final rule is required by the Clean Water Act to address site-specific challenges, and establishes a common sense framework, putting a premium on public input and flexibility for facilities to comply.

There are three components to the final regulation.
  • Existing facilities that withdraw at least 25 percent of their water from an adjacent waterbody exclusively for cooling purposes and have a design intake flow of greater than 2 million gallons per day are required to reduce fish impingement. To ensure flexibility, the owner or operator of the facility will be able to choose one of seven options (see p. 89 of rule) for meeting best technology available requirements for reducing impingement.
  • Facilities that withdraw very large amounts of water – at least 125 million gallons per day – are required to conduct studies to help the permitting authority determine what site-specific entrainment mortality controls, if any, will be required. This process will include public input.
  • New units at an existing facility that are built to increase the generating capacity of the facility are be required to reduce the intake flow to a level similar to a closed cycle, recirculation system. Closed cycle systems are the most effective at reducing entrainment. This can be done by incorporating a closed-cycle system into the design of the new unit, or by making other design changes equivalent to the reductions associated with closed-cycle cooling.

An estimated 2.1 billion fish, crabs, and shrimp are killed annually by being pinned against cooling water intake structures (impingement) or being drawn into cooling water systems and affected by heat, chemicals, or physical stress (entrainment). To protect threatened and endangered species and critical habitat, the expertise of the Fish & Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service is available to inform decisions about control technologies at individual facilities.

The national requirements, which will be implemented through National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, are applicable to the location, design, construction, and capacity of cooling water intake structures at these facilities and are based on the best technology available for minimizing environmental impact. The rule establishes a strong baseline level of protection and then allows additional safeguards for aquatic life to be developed through site-specific analysis, an approach that ensures the best technology available is used. It puts implementation analysis in the hands of the permit writers so requirements can be tailored to the particular facility. (EPA)

The final rule establishes requirements under the Clean Water Act for all existing power generating facilities and existing manufacturing and industrial facilities that withdraw more than 2 million gallons per day of water from waters of the U.S. and use at least 25 percent of the water they withdraw exclusively for cooling purposes. This rule covers roughly 1,065 existing facilities –521 of these facilities are factories, and the other 544 are power plants. The technologies required under the rule are well-understood, have been in use for several decades, and are in use at over 40 percent of facilities.

Final Rule (Prepublication)

More information

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Maryland Governor O'Malley Vetoes Bill That Delayed Offshore Wind Farm

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), left, on Friday vetoed a bill that would have delayed a proposed wind farm in Somerset County.  The bill passed the General Assembly with a strong, veto-proof majority. The delay was also backed by U.S. Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) and Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.).

U.S. House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) opposes the wind project believing it would compromise radar that tests the stealth capabilities of fighter jets at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, just across the Chesapeake Bay.

In the final days of Maryland’s annual legislative session, at the urging of Hoyer and lawmakers from Southern Maryland, the General Assembly voted to delay wind projects within 56 miles of the base until June 2015 — effectively killing plans for the Great Bay Wind Center.  The vote was 31 to 16 in the Senate and 112 to 22 in the House.  (Wash Post, 5/16/2014)

Friday, May 16, 2014

China Produces and Uses As Much Coal As the Rest of the World Combined

graph of Chinese coal consumption, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Statistics
Note: For countries whose 2012 data was unavailable, 2011 data were extrapolated forward one year. These countries comprised about 3% of both total consumption and total production.

Chinese production and consumption of coal increased for the 13th consecutive year in 2012. China is by far the world's largest producer and consumer of coal, accounting for 46% of global coal production and 49% of global coal consumption—almost as much as the rest of the world combined. As a manufacturing country that has large electric power requirements, China's coal consumption fuels its economic growth. China's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 7.7% in 2012, following an average GDP growth rate of 10% per year from 2000 to 2011.

The top 10 coal-producing countries supplied 90% of the world's coal in 2012. China produced nearly four times as much coal as the second largest producer, the United States, which had a 12% share of global production. China has accounted for 69% of the 3.2 billion ton increase in global coal production over the past 10 years.

The top 10 coal-consuming countries consumed 85% of the world's coal in 2012. Eight of the 10 largest producers are among the top 10 consumers. China is the largest coal consumer, accounting for 49% of the world's total coal. The next largest, the United States, consumed 11% of the world's total. China's coal consumption increased by more than 2.3 billion tons over the past 10 years, accounting for 83% of the global increase in coal consumption.

Coal accounts for most of China's energy consumption, and coal has maintained an approximate 70% share of Chinese consumption (on a Btu basis) since at least 1980, the starting date for EIA's global coal data. By way of comparison, coal was 18% of U.S. energy use and 28% of global energy use in 2012.  (DOE-EIA)

Remarks by the President on American Energy

Mountain View, California
9:48 A.M. PDT



And so today, here at Walmart, I want to announce a few more steps that we’re taking that are going to be good for job growth and good for our economy, and that we don't have to wait for Congress to do.

Number one, we know that making buildings more energy efficient is one of the easiest, cheapest ways to create jobs, save money, and cut down on harmful pollution that causes climate change. It could save our businesses tens of billions of dollars a year on their energy bills -- and they can then use that money to grow and hire more folks. It would put construction workers back to work installing new systems and technologies.

So that’s why, three years ago, I announced what we called the Better Buildings Initiative. It's an ambitious plan to improve the energy efficiency of America’s commercial buildings by 20 percent by the year 2020. And already we've got 190 businesses and organizations that have signed on. On average, they’re on track to meet their goal -- cutting energy use by 2.5 percent every single year. Together, they’ve already saved $300 million in energy costs.

Two years ago, I ordered $2 billion in energy upgrades to federal buildings. Today, I’m ordering an additional $2 billion in upgrades over the next three years. And these upgrades will create tens of thousands of construction jobs and save taxpayers billions of dollars.

The Department of Energy is putting a new efficiency standard -- set of efficiency standards in place that could save businesses billions of dollars in energy costs and cut carbon pollution -- and it's the equivalent of taking about 80 million cars off the road.

 Earlier this week, I issued -- or we issued a report that was years in the making called the National Climate Assessment. Hundreds of scientists, experts and businesses, not-for-profits, local communities all contributed over the course of four years. What they found was unequivocally that climate change is not some far-off problem in the future. It’s happening now. It’s causing hardship now. It’s affecting every sector of our economy and our society -- more severe floods, more violent wildfires. It’s already costing cities and states and families and businesses money.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Grow America Act

The GROW AMERICA Act, or Generating Renewal, Opportunity, and Work with Accelerated Mobility, Efficiency, and Rebuilding of Infrastructure and Communities throughout America, will:
  • Support millions of American jobs repairing and modernizing our roads, bridges, railways, and transit systems;
  • Help ensure that American businesses can compete effectively in the global economy and grow; and
  • Pave the way forward by increasing access to the ladders of opportunity that help Americans get ahead.
  • Address the shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund and provide $87 billion to address the nation’s backlog of deficient bridges and aging transit systems;
  • Create millions of new jobs to ensure America’s future competitiveness;
  • Increase safety across all modes of surface transportation, including increasing the civil penalties the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) can levy against automakers who fail to act quickly on vehicle recalls;
  • Provide certainty to state and local governments that must engage in long-term planning;
  • Reduce project approval and permitting timelines while delivering better outcomes for communities and the environment;
  • Bolster efficient and reliable freight networks to support trade and economic growth; and
  • Create incentives to better align planning and investment decisions to comprehensively address regional economic needs while strengthening local decision-making.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Courts Give Obama Administration 3rd Victory: Soot, Smog & Mercury

The Obama administration had its third big environmental legal victory in a month.

1) Soot: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled against the National Association of Manufacturerson Friday stating that the EPA acted properly in 2012 when it further restricted allowable soot emissions. The 11-page decision rejected industry complaints and found that the EPA had acted reasonably and within its bounds when it adopted stricter nationwide standards for fine particulate matter. The soot emitted by power plants, diesel trucks, refineries and factories lodge deep in the lungs when inhaled and are linked to heart and lung disease, respiratory illnesses and premature deaths.  The EPA tightened annual limits on fine particle pollution from 15 micrograms per cubic meter to 12 micrograms per cubic meter and set new requirements for dozens of major cities to install air quality monitors to test for the pollutants near busy roadways.

2) Smog: This follows the previous week’s big Supreme Court ruling that the EPA acted properly when it restricted the amount of smog-causing pollution that can drift from coal-fired power plants in Midwestern states to East Coast states.

3) Mercury: Nearly a month ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected industry’s legal challenges to EPA restrictions on the amount of mercury and other toxic pollution pumped out by coal power plants. (Grist, 5/12/2014)

Friday, May 09, 2014

Natural Gas Liquids Pricing Out Natural Gas.

In recent years, high levels of natural gas production have pushed prices down. The Henry Hub spot price averaged $3.73 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) in 2013. In 2012, the average annual Henry Hub price was $2.75/MMBtu, which reduced profit margins for many natural gs producers.  The relatively high value of natural gas liquids (NGL) has led producers to target wet gas. NGL prices have traditionally been linked to crude oil, resulting in a significant price premium over pipeline-quality dry natural gas. More recently, the natural gas plantliquids composite spot price  (which approximates a value of NGL produced at natural gas processing plants) has hovered roughly halfway between West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil and natural gas spot prices.

The result of this liquids price premium is that wet natural gas production is increasing at a faster rate than dry natural gas production. Liquids extracted from wet natural gas at natural gas processing plants accounted for 5.2% of the volume of marketed production in 2013, up from a low of 4.5% in 2008. September 2013 represents the highest liquids share of monthly production on record, at 5.5%.

When wet natural gas first comes out of the ground, it contains both methane (which is the primary ingredient of natural gas) and NGL. NGL (ethane, propane, butanes, and natural gasoline) are a subset of hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGL) as they do not include olefins. Between 2008 and 2013, volumes of liquids produced from wet natural gas grew at an average of 7% annually, with increases concentrated in the Gulf Coast. Production in the Marcellus region is still relatively small, but is growing rapidly.

Increased liquids production has driven NGL prices down, particularly of ethane and propane. Ethane, which is currently priced below natural gas, is being left in the dry gas stream in large volumes by gas processors and sold as natural gas, a phenomenon known as ethane rejection. Were ethane production more economical for processors, ethane production volumes would be higher, and ethane would occupy a larger share of total NGL production. As new ethane-consuming petrochemical plants continue to become operational, and as ethane demand is supported by new export projects, ethane prices will rise, and production volumes will begin to grow. Estimates of ethane rejection volumes range between 200 and 400 Mbbl/d.

Refineries also produce NGL, predominantly propane, but their rate of production growth has not been keeping pace with increases in production from the wet natural gas stream. Refinery production of finished products is closely tied to crude oil inputs, which have not increased in recent years. With production at natural gas processing plants growing and refinery production flat, refinery NGL has accounted for a progressively smaller share of total NGL production. In 2013, refinery output of NGL accounted for about 12% of total NGL production, down from 19% in 2008.  (DOE-EIA)


Hydrocarbons which contain only single bonds are called alkanes. They are called saturated hydrocarbons because there is a hydrogen in every possible location. This gives them a general formula CnH2n+2.

The first four alkanes are methane, ethane, propane, and butane with the Lewis symbols shown below.

Past this number of carbons, the -ane suffix is retained and the number prefixes penta-, hexa-, hept-, oct-, non-, dec-, etc are used. Alkyl groups are used as substituents, and alkane derivatives have many applications.

The alkanes are highly combustible and are valuable as clean fuels, burning to form water and carbon dioxide. Methane, ethane, propane and butane are gases and used directly as fuels. Alkanes from pentane up to around C17H36 are liquids. Gasoline is a mixture of alkanes from pentane up to about decane. Kerosene contains alkanes from about n=10 to n=16. Above n=17 they are solids at room temperature. Alkanes with higher values of n are found in diesel fuel, fuel oil, petroleum jelly, paraffin wax, motor oils, and for the highest values of n, asphalt.

Alkane derivatives are used in hundreds of products such as plastics, paints, drugs, cosmetics, detergents, insedticides, etc., so the fossil fuel resource from which we obtain the alkanes is much too valuable to burn it all as a motor fuel.  (Hyperphysics)

EPA Seeks Comments On Fracking Chemicals

EPA announced today that it will seek public comment on what information could be reported and disclosed for hydraulic fracturing chemicals and mixtures and the approaches for obtaining this information, including non-regulatory approaches. EPA is also soliciting input on incentives and recognition programs that could support the development and use of safer chemicals in hydraulic fracturing. A public process through an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) will help inform EPA’s efforts to promote the transparency and safety of unconventional oil and gas activities while strengthening protection of our air, water, land and communities.
EPA wants to hear from the public and stakeholders about public disclosure of chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing, and we will continue working with our federal, state, local, and tribal partners to ensure that we complement but not duplicate existing reporting requirements.

EPA’s ANPR includes a list of questions for stakeholders and the public to consider as they develop their comments. Following the 90-day comment period, the agency will evaluate the submitted comments as it considers appropriate next steps. Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemakings are intended to engage the public and solicit comments and/or information from the public for EPA’s consideration in addressing a particular issue, including information that EPA could consider in developing non-regulatory approaches or a proposed rule.  (EPA)

Read EPA’s ANPR:

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

President Obama Brings In The Weathermen on Global Warming

NBC’s Al Roker, and other television meteorologists, met with the White House on climate change on Tuesday. More than 100 national and local television weather forecasters met with the president and his advisers with the administration hoping the broadcasters’ popular appeal would help sell the public on the need to take action on global warming.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Coal Exports

Coal now generates about 39% of electric power in the U.S., off from 55% in 1990.

Low domestic demand has renewed the focus on U.S. exports, which are on track for a record-setting third straight year of more than 100 million tons.

The 28-nation EU imported 47.2 million tons of U.S. coal last year, up from 13.6 million tons in 2003.

Exports to the U.K. alone are up tenfold in the same period. The U.S. ranked second only to Russia in supplying Europe with coal last year, and the U.S. could further increase its market share if recent political tensions with Moscow disrupt Russian shipments.

Germany's decision to phase out of nuclear power after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan has also made it a significant buyer of U.S. coal, mostly because the commodity is so inexpensive. Since 2003, German imports of U.S. coal have risen to more than 15 million tons from under a million tons.
The big gainer—accounting for roughly one-third of U.S. exports, up from almost nothing 10 years ago—has been high-sulfur coal taken from thick coal seams in Illinois and Indiana. It is loaded onto barges and shipped 800 miles down the Mississippi River to a terminal on the Gulf of Mexico. From there, it heads across the Atlantic.  Illinois and Indiana coal, shunned in some places in the U.S. because of its high sulfur content, offers a less-expensive alternative than coal from nearby European mines—even including transportation costs.                                     
The Illinois Basin—located in Illinois, Indiana and parts of Kentucky—possesses some of the world's richest coal seams, but high sulfur and ash content caused the coal to be shunned after the passage of the Clean Air Act in 1970. By 2002, mining in Illinois reached its lowest levels since the Great Depression. That is when a handful of companies, led largely by two private operators, Chris Cline and Robert Murray, snapped up mines on the cheap. The acquirers, bet—correctly, it turned out—on scrubbing technology that can remove almost all the sulfur. They also counted on the coal appetite of export markets such as the U.K.

Mr. Cline's Foresight Energy—Drax's top U.S. supplier—last year offered its coal for as little as $65 a ton in Europe, including freight, compared with $80 a ton from U.K. mines near the Drax power plant. Appalachian coal typically sells for 20% more than Illinois Basin coal.

EU officials are aware of the rise in high-sulfur Illinois Basin coal imports and are concerned. Many EU countries are in violation of the bloc's emissions rules, and 19 have been subject to formal complaints from the European Commission.  (WSJ, 5/5/2014)

National Climate Assessment



The National Climate Assessment summarizes the impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future. A team of more than 300 experts guided by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee produced the report, which was extensively reviewed by the public and experts, including federal agencies and a panel of the National Academy of Sciences.

This National Climate Assessment collects, integrates, and assesses observations and research from around the country, helping us to see what is actually happening and understand what it means for our lives, our livelihoods, and our future. The report includes analyses of impacts on seven sectors – human health, water, energy, transportation, agriculture, forests, and ecosystems – and the interactions among sectors at the national level. The report also assesses key impacts on all U.S. regions: Northeast, Southeast and Caribbean, Midwest, Great Plains, Southwest, Northwest, Alaska, Hawai'i and Pacific Islands, as well as the country’s coastal areas, oceans, and marine resources.

U.S. average temperature has increased by 1.3°F to 1.9°F since 1895, and most of this increase has occurred since 1970. The most recent decade was the nation’s and the world’s hottest on record, and 2012 was the hottest year on record in the continental United States. All U.S. regions have experienced warming in recent decades, but the extent of warming has not been uniform. In general, temperatures are rising more quickly in the north. Alaskans have experienced some of the largest increases in temperature between 1970 and the present. People living in the Southeast have experienced some of the smallest temperature increases over this period.

Monday, May 05, 2014

"Years Of Living Dangerously" - - Showtime Presents

Hollywood celebrities and respected journalists span the globe to explore the issues of climate change and cover intimate stories of human triumph and tragedy.

UN Report on Fukushima

Increase in Cancer Unlikely following Fukushima Exposure - says UN Report


Low Risk of Thyroid Cancer Among Children Most Exposed

Cancer levels are likely to remain stable in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power accident, according to a new UN report released today.  The report is titled Levels and Effects of Radiation Exposure Due to the Nuclear Accident After the 2011 Great East-Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR).
It finds that no discernible changes in future cancer rates and hereditary diseases are expected due to exposure to radiation as a result of the Fukushima nuclear accident; and, that no increases in the rates of birth defects are expected.
Nevertheless, it notes a theoretical possibility that the risk of thyroid cancer among the group of children most exposed to radiation could increase and concludes that the situation needs to be followed closely and further assessed in the future. Thyroid cancer is a rare disease among young children, and their normal risk is very low.
The findings are based on estimates of the exposure of various population groups - including children - as well as scientific knowledge of health impacts following radiation exposure.
According to the study, the expected low impact on cancer rates of the population is largely due to prompt protective actions on the part of the Japanese authorities following the accident.
The Committee analyzed reported worker doses and also independently assessed doses for some of the workers. The Committee's assessments are broadly consistent with reported doses, but uncertainties remain for exposures during the early phase of the accident. The Committee concluded that no discernible increase in cancer or other diseases is expected; however, the most exposed workers will receive regular health checks.
The Committee also evaluated the effects of radiation exposure on both terrestrial and marine ecosystems, finding that any effects would have been transient.
For marine ecosystems, the possibility of effects on flora and fauna was limited to the shoreline area adjacent to the power station and the potential for effects over the long term was considered insignificant.
According to the report, drafted last year but only recently finalized by the U.N.,
The doses to the general public, both those incurred during the first year and estimated for their lifetimes, are generally low or very low. No discernible increased incidence of radiation-related health effects are expected among exposed members of the public or their descendants. The most important health effect is on mental and social well-being, related to the enormous impact of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident, and the fear and stigma related to the perceived risk of exposure to ionizing radiation. Effects such as depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms have already been reported.”
Increased rates of detection of [thyroid] nodules, cysts and cancers have been observed during the first round of screening; however, these are to be expected in view of the high detection efficiency [using modern high-efficiency ultrasonography]. Data from similar screening protocols in areas not affected by the accident imply that the apparent increased rates of detection among children in Fukushima Prefecture are unrelated to radiation exposure.”
As to environmental effects, the U.N. report goes on to say,
Exposures of selected non-human biota in the natural environment were also estimated. The doses and associated effects of radiation on non-human biota following the accident were evaluated against the Committee’s previous evaluations of such effects. Exposures of both marine and terrestrial non-human biota following the accident were, in general, too low for acute effects to be observed, though there may have been some exceptions because of local variability… Any radiation effects would be restricted to a limited area where the deposition of radioactive material was greatest; beyond that area, the potential for effects on biota is insignificant.

The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), established in 1955, is mandated to undertake broad reviews of the sources of ionizing radiation and the effects on human health and the environment. Its assessments provide a scientific foundation for governments and UN agencies to formulate standards and programmes for protection against ionizing radiation.
More than 80 leading scientists worked on the study analyzing the effects of radiation exposure following the accident at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power station. Material they prepared was reviewed for technical and scientific quality by its 27 Member States at their annual session in May 2013. All scientists had to declare any conflict of interest related to their participation in the assessment.
The UNSCEAR secretariat is administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

* *** *
For more information, contact:
Jaya Mohan
Communications, UNSCEAR
Tel: +43 1 26060-4122
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Email: jaya.mohan[at]

Friday, May 02, 2014

ATSDR Report on Drywall Now Available

An ATSDR report,Health Consultation: Possible Health Implications from Exposure to Sulfur Gases Emitted from Chinese-Manufactured Drywall, is now available on the agency website.
The report describes the laboratory tests and modeling methods researchers used to estimate levels of sulfur compounds in indoor air of homes built with problem drywall, including drywall imported from China in 2005 and 2006.

ATSDR’s findings and conclusions validate the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) existing recommendations for addressing problem drywall concerns.
In addition to the ATSDR drywall website, information is available from the CPSC’s Drywall Information Center. (ATSDR)

Thursday, May 01, 2014


Real Time Air Monitoring

The Air Quality Index (AQI) is an index for reporting daily air quality. It tells you how clean or polluted your outdoor air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you. The AQI focuses on health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air. EPA calculates the AQI for five major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act: ground-level ozone, particle pollution (also known as particulate matter), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. For each of these pollutants, EPA has established national air quality standards to protect public health. For Information regarding indoor air quality please visit the Indoor Web site.

The AIRNow Web site

The U.S. EPA, NOAA, NPS, tribal, state, and local agencies developed the AIRNow Web site to provide the public with easy access to national air quality information. The Web site offers daily AQI forecasts as well as real-time AQI conditions for over 300 cities across the US, and provides links to more detailed State and local air quality

Web sites.
Air Quality Forecasts - Nationwide daily air quality forecasts provided
by State and local Air Agencies for over 300 major U.S. cities.

Air Quality Conditions - Nationwide and regional real-time ozone air
quality maps covering 46 US States and parts of Canada. These maps are updated daily every hour.

About the Data

The air quality data used in these maps and to generate forecasts are collected using either federal reference or equivalent monitoring techniques or techniques approved by the state, local or tribal monitoring agencies. Since the information needed to make maps must be as "real-time" as possible, the data are displayed as soon as practical after the end of each hour. Although some preliminary data quality assessments are performed, the data as such are not fully verified and validated through the quality assurance procedures monitoring organizations use to officially submit and certify data on the EPA AQS(Air Quality System). Therefore, data are used on the AIRNow Web site only for the purpose of reporting the AQI. Information on the AIRNow web site is not used to formulate or support regulation, guidance or any other Agency decision or position.  (AIRNow)