Environmental Policy

American Meteorological Society confirms Climate Change and Man's Role
August 31, 2012 06:29 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman, Triple Pundit

Weathercasters in the U.S. not only tend to not ever mention climate change, but the majority of them do not even believe it is human-caused, as an article I recently wrote shows. However, that may change. The American Meteorological Society (AMS) released an official position statement on climate change this week which not only said that it is occurring, but it is human-caused. What is so great about the statement by the AMS is that it includes so much information about climate change, including that there is scientific consensus. The AMS makes it clear that the statement is "based on the peer-reviewed scientific literature and is consistent with the vast weight of current scientific understanding." The statement details how the climate is changing, both in the U.S. and around the world. The changes listed include increases in globally averaged air and ocean temperatures, the widespread melting of snow and ice, and the rising of globally averaged sea level. As the statement puts it, "Warming of the climate system now is unequivocal, according to many different kinds of evidence." That is not good news for the world's population, but it is good news that the AMS is acknowledging that climate change is real and is occurring.

Brazil's controversial Belo Monte back on track after court decision overruled
August 29, 2012 08:52 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM

Brazil's Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered work on the controversial Belo Monte dam in the Amazon to resume, overturning a lower court order that suspended the project less than two weeks ago. Construction activities by the Norte Energia, the consortium building the dam, resumed immediately, according to the Associated Press.

Study Reveals that Drought Brought Down Ancient Egypt
August 29, 2012 06:33 AM - Tim Wall, Discovery News

The drought parching the United States is one of the worst in the nation's history, but it hasn't been as destructive as the drought that may have withered ancient Egypt's Old Kingdom. Pollen and charcoal buried in the Nile Delta 4,200 years ago tell the tale of a drought of literally Biblical proportions associated with the fall of the pyramid builders. "Even the mighty builders of the ancient pyramids more than 4,000 years ago fell victim when they were unable to respond to a changing climate," said U.S. Geological Survey Director Marcia McNutt in a press release. "This study illustrates that water availability was the climate-change Achilles Heel then for Egypt, as it may well be now, for a planet topping seven billion thirsty people."

Book Review: Eco House Book
August 28, 2012 08:46 PM - Maddie Perlman-Gabel, ENN

What makes a house eco friendly? Is it the materials the house is made of and furnished with, or how efficiently the house uses and maintains energy and other resources? Can any house have eco-friendly features added at any time, or only if considerations are made at the time the house is built? These are some of the questions answered, and illustrated, in Terence Conran’s most recent book "Eco House Book". "Eco House Book" is an excellent modern eco themed coffee-table book. Though it's cover is simple, the book includes beautiful photography that highlight the use of design for living a more eco friendly lifestyle. The book covers many topics addressing home design and maintenance, including pros and cons of different building and furnishing materials, reducing energy and water consumption, alternative energy and water resources, designing and maximizing outdoor spaces, building and home conversions, waste reduction methods, and eco friendly cleaning strategies.

China Beats U.S. to Become Number One In Installed Wind Power
August 28, 2012 01:04 PM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman, Triple Pundit

China surpassed the U.S. this year to become the number one in the world for installed wind power generating capacity. In the last six years, installed wind power generating capacity in China increased from 2,000 megawatts (MW) to 52,580 MW, according to the country’s state grid company, the State Grid Corporation, which is the country’s largest utility company. In 2011, China generated 70.6 terrawatt hours (TWh) of wind power, a 96 percent increase. The Chinese government projects that China’s wind generating capacity would be more than 100,000 MW in 2015 and 200,000 MW in 2020. China's on-grid capacity reached over 50 gigawatts (GW) to date, according to the State Grid Corporation. This year on-grid wind power capacity under State Grid reached 50.26 GW, an annual growth rate of 87 percent for the last six years.

'Torture Lab' Kills Trees To Learn How To Save Them
August 27, 2012 02:36 PM - Christopher Joyce, NPR Topics: Environment

The droughts that have parched big regions of the country are killing forests. In the arid Southwest, the body count is especially high. Besides trying to keep wildfires from burning up these desiccated forests, there's not much anyone can do. In fact, scientists are only now figuring out how drought affects trees. Park Williams studies trees at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, but not the way most scientists do. "We're interested in trees that die," he says — spefiically, death by heat and drought. Sure, lack of water kills trees, but which ones die first, how long does it take, how long can they go without water? "That's a part we don't understand very well as ecologists," says Craig Allen, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. "We don't know what it takes to kill trees."

Cross State Air Pollution Rule is Overturned by Court
August 24, 2012 07:08 AM - Jonathan Kalmuss-Katz, Sive Paget & Riesel, P.C.

Four years after overturning a major Environmental Protection Agency air pollution rule as inconsistent with the Clean Air Act, this week the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the program that EPA had tailored to take its place, ruling that the replacement rule "exceeds the agency's statutory authority" and imposes "impossible" burdens upon covered states. As a result, hundreds of power plants in 28 states are once again subject to the very rule the same court rejected in 2008. The regulations in question implement the Clean Air Act’s "good neighbor" provisions, which prohibit states from significantly contributing to unsafe levels of air pollution, or interfering with Clean Air Act compliance, in downwind states. In 2005, EPA finalized the Clean Air Interstate Rule, establishing an emissions trading program for Eastern and Midwestern power plants aimed at reducing interstate air pollution transport.

Cape Wind Gets Final Approval
August 21, 2012 07:36 AM - Sean Teehan, Cape Cod Times

Cape Wind cleared its last bureaucratic hurdle Wednesday when the Federal Aviation Administration released its finding that the project poses no hazard to planes. The finding came after a court-mandated re-evaluation of possible safety hazards the 130-turbine project poses to planes and a GOP inquiry into whether the FAA's initial approval in 2010 was the result of political pressure from the left. "(The FAA's) aeronautical study revealed that the structure does not exceed obstruction standards and would not be a hazard to air navigation," the latest FAA determination reads. The project presents no hazard as long as Cape Wind marks and lights obstructions to planes, files required construction forms with the FAA and builds no turbines exceeding 440 feet above ground level, the decision reads.

Philippines Working To Encourage Renewable Energy Development
August 20, 2012 03:32 PM - Dominick DalSanto

"Fortune favors the bold" might as well be the motto of the Philippines regarding their energy policy and their efforts to achieve their goals. However, a bold plan is only the first step to achieving the colossal task of weaning an entire country off its dependance on foreign-sources fossil fuels. The logistics of the effort are proving to be more than a challenge for even the most developed of nations. However the Philippines are stepping up to the challenge by implementing a clear, comprehensive and decisive energy plan. This can be an example for other countries to emulate. Why Is Renewable Energy Such a Priority For The Philippines? Renewable energy development in the Philippines is vital because the nation is one of the fastest growing in Asia with over 92 million residents. As population and economy continue to grow, meeting the increased demand for electricity will pose a difficult challenge for the island nation. The cost of transmitting power and transporting traditional fossil fuel (which the nation lacks) to the more than 7,000 islands and to isolated areas is very high. Philippines has the highest electricity rate in Asia. With this in mind, the government has decided to take action now to begin reduce its reliance on costly fuel imports and tap its vast potential for renewable, locally produced energy, estimated to be over 70,000MW. The Government of the Philippines views the development of renewable energy sources as a national priority. The Philippine Department of Energy (DOE) outlined a clear energy plan with emphasis on the development of renewables. Over the next 20 years, the country looks to increase renewable capacity by 200%, to account for 50% of all energy produced, and keep self-sufficiency at 60% minimum. Most of this development will be in geothermal, solar, and particularly wind, in which it looks to become the largest wind producer in Southeast Asia.

Weyerheuser’s NORPAC plant Pioneering new Energy Saving Technology
August 20, 2012 06:41 AM - Tina Casey, Triple Pundit

One of the most significant energy efficiency projects in recent years is underway in the State of Washington, and it could set the stage for new growth in the U.S. paper industry. The largest paper mill in the U.S., Weyerheuser's NORPAC plant in Longview, is getting a new system for pretreating wood chips that is expected to save the company 100 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. The project is noteworthy not only for its sheer size, but also for demonstrating the potential that new conservation technologies have for generating new products and services. The full system is not entirely on line yet, but NORPAC (North Pacific Paper Corporation) is already using it to produce a new grade of paper.

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