Environmental Policy

Who pays the EU airline carbon tax? Not Chinese airlines!
January 5, 2012 06:36 AM - Reuters, BEIJING

China voiced its deep concern and opposition on Thursday to a European Union plan to counter airline emissions and called for talks to resolve the issue a day after China's major airlines refused to pay any carbon costs under the new law. From January 1, all airlines using EU airports fall under the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), and could be forced to pay fines of 100 euros ($128) for each tonne of carbon dioxide emitted for which airlines have not surrendered carbon allowances. "China opposes the European Union's unilateral legislation. China has expressed to the EU our deep concern and opposition many times on a bilateral level," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said. "We hope the EU can take careful precautions with a cautious and practical attitude, and regarding those aspects involving China, appropriately discuss and handle this matter," Hong told reporters during a regular briefing. The scheme was launched in 2005 as one of the pillars of Europe's efforts to combat climate change, and if airlines persistently flout the law the EU has the option of banning the operator.

Expert says Ohio earthquake was not a natural event
January 4, 2012 07:18 AM - Kim Palmer, Reuters, CLEVELAND

A 4.0 magnitude earthquake in Ohio on New Year's Eve did not occur naturally and may have been caused by high-pressure liquid injection related to oil and gas exploration and production, an expert hired by the state of Ohio said on Tuesday. Ohio's Department of Natural Resources on Sunday suspended operations at five deep well sites in Youngstown, Ohio, where the injection of water was taking place, while they evaluate seismological data from a rare quake in the area. The wells are about 9,000 feet deep and are used to dispose of water from oil and gas wells. The process is related to fracking, the controversial injection of chemical-laced water and sand into rock to release oil and gas. Critics say that the high pressure injection of the liquid causes seismic activity. Won-Young Kim, a research professor of Seismology Geology and Tectonophysics at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday that circumstantial evidence suggests a link between the earthquake and the high-pressure well activity. "We know the depth (of the quake on Saturday) is two miles and that is different from a natural earthquake," said Kim, who is advising the state of Ohio.

Ohio suspends fracking-related well operations after earthquakes
January 3, 2012 07:17 AM - Kim Palmer, Reuters, CLEVELAND

Ohio has suspended operations at five deep wells used to dispose of fracking-related fluids after nearly a dozen earthquakes in the town of Youngstown over the past year, the latest sign of local unease over the booming shale gas industry. One day after a 4.0 quake, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said on Sunday it was halting operations at five Mahoning County wells owned by Northstar Disposal Services LLC as a precaution, citing concerns of a possible link between well activity and the quakes. The wells were used to store wastewater from oil and gas drilling operations, not for production. "We are being overly cautious in order to ensure public safety in asking the company to halt disposal injections at one site on Friday and then asking for a halt to any injections in a 5-mile radius Saturday," Ohio Department of Natural Resources deputy director Andy Ware said. "Our geologist would say there is a strong chance there is a fault line very close to the site of the well," Ware said, adding the department was concerned that pressure from the fluid disposal could be affecting a previously unknown fault line.

Who pays for carbon taxes on airlines? The customers!
January 2, 2012 08:05 AM - Reuters, FRANKFURT

Deutsche Lufthansa AG will pass on to its customers an expected 130 million euros ($169 million) of costs for carbon permits it needs this year under a new European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Germany's biggest airline said on Monday it will add the costs from the ETS to its fuel surcharge, becoming the first carrier to provide details of how it plans to cope with the additional burden. "In the face of intensive competition, especially of companies from non-EU countries whose production is subject to emissions trading to only a small degree, Lufthansa will have to pass on the burden via ticket prices, as suggested by the EU," it said in a statement. However in the short term Lufthansa will not raise its existing surcharges, which it had increased last month -- to between 102 euros and 122 per flight leg for intercontinental flights and to 31 euros for domestic and European flights -- though it said at the time this was just to cover higher fuel costs. From this year, all airlines touching down or taking off in the EU will have to account for their CO2 emissions as part of an expansion of the world's largest carbon market.

It was a bad year for Rhinos as Asian demand for Rhino horn drives record slaughter in Africa
December 30, 2011 07:55 AM - Jon Herskovitz, Reuters, JOHANNESBURG

A record number of rhinos were poached this year in South Africa, home to the greatest number of the animals, as rising demand in Asia for their horns led to increased killings of the threatened species. At least 443 rhinos have been killed in South Africa in 2011, up from 333 last year, the national park service and conservationists said. The street value of rhinoceros horns has soared to about $65,000 a kilogram, making it more expensive than gold, platinum and in many cases cocaine, as a belief - with no basis in science - has taken hold in recent years in parts of Asia that ingesting it can cure or prevent cancer. South Africa, home to more than 20,000 rhinos, was losing about 15 animals a year a decade ago. But poaching increased dramatically from about 2007 as a growing affluent class in places such as Vietnam and Thailand began spending more on rhino horn for traditional medicine.

Anti-whaling protest ship in distress
December 29, 2011 09:27 AM - Reuters, SYDNEY

Anti-whaling organization Sea Shepherd said one of its boats chasing the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean had issued a distress call after its hull was cracked by a rogue wave. Sea Shepherd flagship the Steve Irwin was fighting heavy seas to help rescue the damaged Brigitte Bardot chase boat and is expected to take 17 hours to reach it, Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson said Thursday. "This is disappointing, but these are hostile seas and we have always been prepared for situations like this," said Watson via satellite telephone from the Steve Irwin. "Right now the safety of my crew on the Brigitte Bardot is our priority and we intend to reach the crew and then do what we can to save our ship." Watson said the damaged boat would be returned to Australia, while a third vessel continues to chase the Japanese fleet. The "Brigitte Bardot," with a crew of 10 (three British, three American, one Australian, one Canadian, one Belgian and one South African), is about 1,500 miles southwest of the west Australian port of Fremantle.

Tokyo Electric Power wants government bailout to help pay victims of meltdowns
December 27, 2011 08:45 AM - Yoko Kubota and Kentaro Hamada & Michael Watson, Reuters

Tokyo Electric Power Co asked a government-backed bailout body on Tuesday for an additional 690 billion yen ($8.8 billion) to help compensate victims of the nuclear crisis at its Fukushima Daiichi power plant. To help Japan's biggest utility, known as Tepco, meet costs running into trillions of yen for compensation and cleanup, the government had already agreed in November to provide 890 billion yen through a bailout fund. "We have reviewed the estimated sum of compensation after the committee addressing compensation disputes decided on additional measures to compensate victims who voluntarily evacuated," Tepco said in a statement.

Christmas recycling ideas from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality
December 26, 2011 07:43 AM - Editor, ENN

Have a Green Christmas Look for reuse and recycling opportunities as you replace appliances, electronics and computers. Discarded cell phones may be donated for Domestic Violence Programs though your cell services provider. Discarded electronics (computers, copiers, fax machines, printers, monitors) may be donated to a local nonprofit, parent-teacher association or the Louisiana Corporate Recycling Council's computers for schools program, 225.379.3577. Parts that cannot be refurbished can be sent for dismantling. Appliances may either be donated or sent for recycling. Outgrown toys and clothes and furniture may be donated to organizations like Salvation Army, Paralyzed Veterans, or Volunteers of America. Look for ways to avoid creating garbage. Rather than wrapping gifts for the youngsters, hide the presents, and turn Christmas into a treasure hunt. Create you own recyclable wrapping paper by using the Sunday comics, magazines and wrapping paper recovered from previous events.

'Christmas miracle' for endangered rhinos
December 25, 2011 07:59 AM - Editor, MONGABAY.COM

Conservationists and wildlife officials in the Malaysian state of Sabah airlifted a young female Sumatran Rhinoceros — one of the world's most endangered animals — to an area of forest where she would encounter a potential partner, reports the Sabah Wildlife Department and Borneo Rhino Alliance. Sumatran Rhinoceros populations are so low, some individuals live in areas where they have no hope of ever finding another rhino. "This is a fantastic gift for our uphill battle in ensuring the survival of this truly unique species and wonderful timing with Christmas, a time to give thanks for our blessings," said Laurentius Ambu the Director of the SWD. "We have monitored her since 2007, and there is no sign that any other rhino has entered her range in the past five years," added Junaidi Payne the Executive Director of Borneo Rhino Alliance. "This is a stark indication that so few rhinos remain that they are simply not meeting for reproduction."

Chestnuts Roasting By An Open Fire: Eco-Friendly Or Health Threat?
December 24, 2011 09:06 AM - Carol Pierson Holding, Justmeans

A Tacoma-Pierce County WA Task Force just sent its recommendations to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency about how to reduce soot in the air to meet EPA standards. The soot is created partly by diesel vehicles and industry, but the most (53%) is from wood burning stoves and fireplaces. I remember from my days in New York City the ongoing struggle over fireplaces and the particulate pollution they create. The concern has spread nationally too. As the New York Times reported last January, sales of wood stoves and fireplaces have dropped dramatically over the last decade. The Times attributes this drop at least in part to the growing ambivalence towards wood fires. But now that I'm in the Pacific Northwest, I find a different ethos about wood stoves and fireplaces. We feel good about burning wood; trees are abundant and so is firewood. We know instinctively that burning wood produces particulate pollution, we can see the smoke, but we also trust that the winter rains washes those particles away. Even some of our local experts see wood as a future fuel, a serious source of biomass energy. As University of Washington air-pollution researcher Michael Yost told KCTS 9, "We have a fuel that we can use which is relatively eco-friendly. It's a renewable resource. So there's a natural advantage to that biofuel use." But the realities and science of air quality question some of our long held assumptions about the wholesomeness of a fire. Yost explains, "”¦biofuels by and large across the world are much dirtier and have higher emissions. So we need to balance the use of these fuels versus the emissions they contribute. And probably starting on a local scale, because that’s where the problem starts."

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