Environmental Policy

Better Wind Mills
January 21, 2011 08:30 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

A wind turbine is a device that converts kinetic energy from the wind into mechanical energy. If the mechanical energy is used to produce electricity, the device may be called a wind generator or wind charger. If the mechanical energy is used to drive machinery, such as for grinding grain or pumping water, the device is called a windmill or wind pump. Large wind farms are being built around the world as a cleaner way to generate electricity, but operators are still searching for the most efficient way to arrange the massive turbines that turn moving air into power. To help steer wind farm owners in the right direction, Charles Meneveau, a Johns Hopkins fluid mechanics and turbulence expert, working with a colleague in Belgium, has devised a new formula through which the optimal spacing for a large array of turbines can be obtained.

Last refuge of rare fish threatened by Yangtze dam plans
January 19, 2011 08:45 AM - Jonathan Watts, Ecologist

Developers of hydroelectric plant have redrawn the boundaries of a crucial freshwater reserve for rare and economically important species. The last refuge for many of China's rarest and most economically important wild fish has mere days to secure public support before it is trimmed, dammed and ruinously diminished, conservationists warned today.

Masdar World Future Energy Summit
January 18, 2011 04:36 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Abu Dhabi, UAE, may be a major oil supplier to the world, but the Emirate is also active with ideas and commitments to a green energy future. The World Future Energy Summit 2011 in Abu Dhabi began on January 17th. The summit is taking place not far from the emerging city of Masdar which is designed to be a showpiece of clean tech innovation and green urban planning. Around 33 official delegations and more than 3,000 delegates will participate in the World Future Energy Summit. Masdar is a project in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. Its core is a planned city, which is being built by the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, a subsidiary of Mubadala Development Company, with the majority of seed capital provided by the government of Abu Dhabi. The city will rely entirely on solar energy and other renewable energy sources, with a sustainable, zero-carbon, zero-waste ecology. The city is being constructed 11 miles east-south-east of the city of Abu Dhabi.

American cougars on the decline: 'We’re running against the clock,' says big cat expert
January 18, 2011 09:32 AM - Morgan Erickson-Davis, MONGABAY.COM

It holds the Guinness World Record for having the most names of any animal on the planet, with 40 in English alone. It's also the widest-ranging native land animal in the Americas, yet is declining throughout much of its range. Mongabay talks with big cat expert Dr. Howard Quigley about the status and research implications of the elusive, enigmatic, and unique cougar.

How Green Jobs Are Fueling The Recovery
January 17, 2011 09:54 AM - Editor, Justmeans

Creating new well-paying jobs to spur the economic recovery remains a central concern globally and in the US. The Great Recession has left many professionals and their families struggling to make ends meet for over two years. This jobless recovery is likely to be the longest recovery since the Great Depression. Furthermore, the convergence of automation and globalization have resulted in permanent changes in jobs across many industries. For instance, manufacturing and construction jobs are today more technical and requiring more education than 20 years ago. Due to the same pressure of automation and globalization, middle management jobs are also disappearing.

Prison Air Pollution
January 11, 2011 06:01 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Prisons are where they keep criminals. What has that to do with the environment? The answer is that prisons need to be heated and like industrial boilers or even home heating systems they must burn fuel and in the combustion release potential air pollutants. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice announced a settlement with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections and the Department of General Services for alleged Clean Air Act violations at boiler plants generating power, heat and hot water at four correctional facilities. This settlement secures air pollution reductions and additional reporting requirements for correctional facilities in Muncy, Bellefonte, Huntingdon and Somerset, Pennsylvania.

The Return (?) of Off Shore drilling
January 6, 2011 12:34 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Offshore drilling typically refers to the discovery and development of oil and gas resources which lie underwater. Most commonly, the term is used to describe oil extraction off the coasts of continents, though the term can also apply to drilling in lakes and inland seas. Offshore drilling presents environmental challenges, especially in the Arctic or close to the shore. Controversies include the ongoing US offshore drilling debate. The off shore moratorium in the US (as a result of the BP spill) ended in October 2010. The Obama administration has decided to allow 13 companies to resume deepwater drilling without additional environmental scrutiny. The decision comes after the administration said it would require strict reviews for new drilling in the Gulf. Others, such as the arctic Shell project, are still blocked by related concerns. The Department of the Interior apparently gave those companies the go-ahead because they were in the middle of previously approved projects when the Gulf spill occurred.

Europe and Renewable Energy
January 6, 2011 11:24 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

The European Union (EU)27 will exceed its target of meeting 20 % of its gross final energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020. Today the European Wind Energy Association published its analysis of the 27 National Renewable Energy Action Plans, submitted by the EU Member States to the European Commission. "Taken together the Action Plans show that the EU-27 will meet 20.7 % of its 2020 energy consumption from renewables", said Justin Wilkes, Policy Director of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). The countries of the European Union are currently the global leaders in the development and application of renewable energy. Promoting the use of renewable energy sources is important both to the reduction of the EU's dependence on foreign energy imports, and in meeting targets to combat global warming.

Italy Bans Plastic Shopping Bags Starting January 1
January 6, 2011 09:34 AM - Thomas Miner, Justmeans

The government of Italy has become the first in the European Union to outlaw the use of plastic bags by all retailers, signaling a large shift in a country which uses over 20 billion bags per year (400 per person) – an amount equal to 25% of the total produced and used in the entire EU.

HPV Chemicals
January 5, 2011 04:56 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Under the High Production Volume (HPV) Challenge Program, companies are "challenged" by EPA to make health and environmental effects data publicly available on chemicals produced or imported in the United States in the greatest quantities. HPV chemicals are classified as those chemicals produced or imported in the United States in quantities of 1 million pounds or more per year. As of June 2007, companies have sponsored more than 2,200 HPV chemicals, with approximately 1,400 chemicals sponsored directly through the HPV Challenge Program and over 860 chemicals sponsored indirectly through international efforts. The U.S. EPA is issuing a final rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) requiring manufacturers of 19 high production volume (HPV) chemicals to test the health and environmental effects of the chemicals and submit the data to the agency. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has made assuring the safety of chemicals one of her top priorities.

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