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Oil Shale Development
February 16, 2011 09:59 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Oil shale, which is an organic-rich fine-grained sedimentary rock, contains significant amounts of kerogen (a solid mixture of organic chemical compounds) from which liquid hydrocarbons can be extracted. Kerogen requires more processing to use than crude oil, which increases its cost as a crude-oil substitute both financially and in terms of its potential environmental impact. US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey announced today that they will take a fresh look at commercial oil shale rules and plans issued under the previous Administration and, if necessary, update them based on the latest research and technologies, to account for expected water demands in the arid West and to ensure they provide a fair return to taxpayer.
Sulfur Emissions on the Rise
February 15, 2011 04:56 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Sulfur dioxide is a major air pollutant and has significant impacts upon human health. In addition the concentration of sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere can influence ecosytems. Sulfur dioxide emissions are a precursor to acid rain and atmospheric particulates. A new analysis of sulfur emissions appearing in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics shows that after declining for a decade, worldwide emissions rose again in 2000 due largely to international shipping and a growing Chinese economy. An accurate read on sulfur emissions will help researchers predict future changes in climate and determine present day effects on the atmosphere, health and the environment.
Why Do People Always Overestimate Slope?
February 15, 2011 09:07 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
"Holy Crap" is a very common phrase among mountain hikers when confronted by an intimidating slope. After plodding along at a nice five degree incline, a sudden rise in elevation can seem like either a daunting task or an irresistible challenge. I personally like sharp inclines because it means you can get more of the climb out of the way in quicker time. But sometimes that intimidating slope is not quite what it seems. According to a new study in the journal, Psychological Science, people routinely overestimate slope, whether they stand from the top or bottom. Our brains are hardwired to believe the incline is worse than it actually is.
New from BBC Earth: The Albatross: A life in the air
February 15, 2011 07:22 AM - BBC Earth
A bird that lives as long in legends as it does life: The Albatross remains one of most majestic of all of the Antarctic birds. This rather stunning bird can be traced as far back as the time of the first modern mammals, over 50 million years. And with an average life span of 50 years that’s a lot of birds. Though as a species they aren't so lucky, endangered the world over mostly as a result of human practices. These birds have come to be greatly respected, and have even become symbols of luck. Whether it is harboring the sacred soul of a dead sailor or filling a ship’s sails with wind to aid its progress; you do not have to look far to realise why it is so special. As one of the largest flying birds, the albatross has one of the largest wingspans of any bird still alive today at an incredible 11ft.
Arizona Haze and NOx
February 14, 2011 12:19 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Four Corners Power Plant is one of the largest coal-fired generating stations in the United States. The plant is located on Navajo land in Fruitland, New Mexico, about 25 miles west of Farmington. It is located to the west of the Grand Canyon and many other national parks. It was the first mine-mouth generation station to take advantage of the large deposits of sub-bituminous coal in the Four Corners region. The plant’s five units currently generate 2,040 megawatts. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a supplemental proposal to reduce emissions from the Four Corners Power Plant. The new proposal will reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from approximately 45,000 tons per year to 5,800 tons per year, 3,200 tons less than EPA’s initial proposal. The proposal will also work to protect public health in the area by ensuring residents have cleaner air with fewer harmful pollutants. It will also reduce atmospheric haze and promote viability.
Welding Fumes and Safety
February 11, 2011 02:30 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
A new alloy promises to lessen welders' risk of breathing toxic fumes on the job. The alloy is a welding "consumable" — the material that melts under the welder's torch to fill the gap between parts that are being joined. The new nickel alloy consumable is more expensive compared to those already on the market, but worth the cost in situations where adequate ventilation is a problem. Exposure to welding fumes can cause numerous health problems. When inhaled, welding fumes can enter the lungs, bloodstream, brain nerve cells, spinal cord and other organs and can cause both short- and long-term health effects.
Metal Toxins in LED Products
February 11, 2011 09:20 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
LED lighting is the newest, most efficient form of lighting to hit the markets. It blows away even the most efficient compact fluorescent bulb, and is therefore, a much more expensive option. However, the benefits to the environment from LED's efficiency come with another environmental cost. A new study from the University of California (UC) Irvine shows that LED bulbs contain lead, arsenic, and a dozen more potentially hazardous substances.
Cemex to Pay $1.4 Million for US Clean Air Act Prevention of Significant Deterioration & Operating Permit Violations
February 11, 2011 07:06 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Yesterday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Justice Department announced that Cemex, Inc., one of the largest producers of Portland cement in the United States, has agreed to pay a $1.4 million penalty for Clean Air Act violations at its cement plant in Fairborn, Ohio. In addition to the penalty, Cemex will spend an estimated $2 million on pollution controls that will reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2). "Emissions of harmful pollutants like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides can lead to a number of serious health and environmental problems, including premature death and heart disease," said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "Today’s settlement will help keep harmful air pollution out of Ohio communities, protect children with asthma and prevent region-wide public health problems."
The Jumping Ability of the Common Flea
February 10, 2011 09:35 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Fleas, the annoying parasites that are the bane of a dog's existence, are very interesting creatures. They are tiny and have no wings but amazingly have no problems climbing onto the backs of creatures and sometimes on people's heads. This is because of their long hind legs that make the flea perfectly suited for jumping. They can jump 13 inches horizontally, which is 200 times their body length! That is like a human jumping nearly a quarter mile in a single leap. A new study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology unlocks the secret of the flea's amazing jumping ability.
February 10, 2011 08:17 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Space weather is the concept of changing environmental conditions in near-Earth space. It is distinct from the concept of weather within a planetary atmosphere, and deals with phenomena involving ambient plasma, magnetic fields, radiation and other matter in space. "Space weather" often implicitly means the conditions in near-Earth space within the magnetosphere and ionosphere, but it is also studied in interplanetary (and occasionally interstellar) space. The primary source of these changes is what happens on the Sun. Changes in the near-Earth space environment affect our society. The best known ground-level consequence of space weather is geomagnetically induced currents, or GIC. These are damaging electrical currents that can flow in power grids, pipelines and other conducting networks and cause disruptions and black outs. Eight years ago, the American Meteorological Society tentatively reached out to the space weather community by scheduling a day-and-a-half Space Weather Symposium at its Annual Meeting. That symposium included briefings from operational and research agencies involved with space weather as well as a variety of talks targeting areas of interest common to meteorology and space weather.