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The Most Efficient Energy Star
July 15, 2011 10:15 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Energy Star is an international standard for energy efficient consumer products originated in the United States of America. It was first created as a United States government program during the early 1990s, but Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan and the European Union have also adopted the program. Devices carrying the Energy Star logo, such as computer products and peripherals, kitchen appliances, buildings and other products, generally use 20%—30% less energy than required by federal standards. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Energy announced July 14 for the first time products recognized as the most energy-efficient in their categories among those that have earned the Energy Star label. This pilot program is part of Energy Star’s overall commitment to protect people’s health and the environment by encouraging energy efficiency. The Most Efficient initiative also continues Energy Star’s work to provide consumers with the best efficiency information so they can make investments that will lower their energy bills and environmental impact. The new designation of Most Efficient aims to provide all manufacturers with an incentive for greater product energy efficiency while providing consumers new information about the products that comprise the top tier in the categories.
Proposed changes to Brazil's Forest Code could hurt economy
July 14, 2011 09:02 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM
Proposed changes to Brazil's Forest Code will hurt Brazilian agriculture, argues a leading conservationist. Carlos Alberto de Mattos Scaramuzza, WWF-Brazil's director for conservation, says the reform bill currently being evaluated by Brazil's Senate could have unexpected economic implications for Brazilian ranchers and farmers. Scaramuzza says a bill that grant amnesty for illegal deforesters and sanctions expanded destruction of the Amazon rainforest would make Brazilian agricultural products less attractive in foreign markets.
Carbon Tax? Australians want snap election to voice their opinions
July 13, 2011 06:31 AM - Rob Taylor, Reuters, CANBERRA
Two thirds of Australians want a snap election on the government's controversial plan to tax carbon pollution, a poll showed on Wednesday, as Prime Minister Julia Gillard crosses the nation in a campaign-style blitz to sell the scheme. The plan will be put to the vote in parliament around October and is almost certain to pass, but a rebuff would seriously threaten Gillard's minority government. The government, which does not have to call elections until 2013, has announced big fines for firms trying to overcharge consumers because of the tax, set to start next July and switch to carbon emissions trading in mid-2015.
In the News: Pig-nosed turtle populations in decline
July 12, 2011 08:49 AM - Helen Roddis, ARKive.org
A unique reptile, the pig-nosed turtle has become an international conservation icon due to its unusual evolutionary history, morphology, ecology and behaviour. The sole survivor of a once widespread family of turtles called the Carettochelyidae, the pig-nosed turtle has a restricted global distribution, being only found in north Australia and New Guinea Island. However, despite its uniqueness, this species is highly prized as food, and the demand for its eggs and meat in Papua New Guinea has led to the species being dramatically over-harvested by indigenous people. Both turtle and eggs are collected for trade or consumption by local villagers.
Power Generation from Renewables Surpasses Nuclear
July 8, 2011 07:58 AM - Thomas Schueneman, Global Warming is Real
The latest issue of the Monthly Energy Review published by the US Energy Information Administration, electric power generation from renewable sources has surpassed production from nuclear sources, and is now "closing in on oil," says Ken Bossong Executive Director of the Sun Day Campaign. In the first quarter of 2011 renewable energy sources accounted for 11.73 percent of US domestic energy production. Renewable sources include solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, biomass/biofuel. As of the first quarter of 2011, energy production from these sources was 5.65 percent more than production from nuclear. As Bossing further explains from the report, renewable sources are closing the gap with generation from oil-fired sources, with renewable source equal to 77.15 percent of total oil based generation.
Cross State Air Pollution Rule aims to cut smog, soot from coal plants
July 8, 2011 06:54 AM - Timothy Gardner and Tom Doggett, Reuters, WASHINGTON
U.S. environmental regulators finalized a rule on Thursday to slash air pollution from coal-fired power plants in 27 states east of the Rocky Mountains that result in unhealthy levels of smog and soot. The Environmental Protection Agency measure, known as the Cross State Air Pollution Rule, will add costs for some power generators, but should cut health care bills for Americans. Companies that could see higher costs include large coal burners Southern Co, Duke Energy and American Electric Power. "No community should have to bear the burden of another community's polluters, or be powerless to prevent air pollution that leads to asthma, heart attacks and other harmful illnesses," said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. The EPA rule will reduce power plant sulfur dioxide emissions by 73 percent by 2014, from 2005 levels, when combined with state environmental laws. It will cut nitrogen oxide emissions by 54 percent by 2014. Those cuts are slightly deeper than ones proposed by the EPA last year.
Activism special Just Do It: the story of modern-day outlaws
July 6, 2011 08:41 AM - Matilda Lee, Ecologist
A new film launching on July 15th gives an in-depth look inside the clandestine world of environmental direct action. 'Taking tea is what the British do whenever they are in a difficult circumstance', says Marina Pepper, obsessive tea maker, community activist and domestic extremist. She's served tea to bailiffs, the police, politicians, and factory workers. What makes her a domestic extremist is that she 'cares passionately about politics on a global level but works on it on a local level' but has 'gone well beyond, in my climate change activities recycling and walking the kids to school. I put my body in the way and I don't mind being arrested'.
4th of July Parades, Fireworks, and Waste
July 4, 2011 09:48 AM - TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff
It's not the Fourth of July without a parade and fireworks — plus lots of trash and some not-so-healthy toxins and pollutants. Rhode Island prides itself on hosting the oldest parade in the nation. The Bristol tradition draws some 100,000 spectators, who leave behind about 64 tons of trash, according to the Department of Public Works. Progress has been made in recent years to control waste by requiring vendors to haul out their own garbage. Stapling paper yard-waste bags to trees and telephone poles along the parade route also has encouraged spectators to help with the clean up of bottles, cups, balloons and other debris. "We flood the parade route with those bags and it's a huge help," said Jim Sylvester of Bristol's DPW. None of the waste, however, is sorted for recyclables. It's not well known, or at least not well publicized, that fireworks — from sparklers to professional displays — leave behind a fair amount of waste, while releasing noxious gases and heavy metals.
Climate change is endangering the Polar Bears, court rules
July 1, 2011 06:20 AM - Deborah Zabarenko, Reuters, Environment Correspondent WASHINGTON
A U.S. federal judge upheld the status of polar bears as a species threatened by climate change, denying challenges by a safari club, two cattlemen's organizations and the state of Alaska. The ruling on Thursday by District Judge Emmet Sullivan confirmed a 2008 decision that polar bears need protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act because their icy habitat is melting away. The legal challenges -- some contending polar bears don't need this protection, others maintaining the big white bears need more -- were launched after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service included this Arctic mammal on its list of threatened species.
Car Racing and Energy Efficiency—Strange Bedfellows? Not Anymore
June 29, 2011 09:21 AM - E.Q. Lam, Sierra Club Green Home
INFINEON RACEWAY, SONOMA, CA — Hershel Allen noticed something different at Infineon Raceway on June 25th at this noted motorsports complex in California's Sonoma Valley: sheep grazing on the hill behind the grandstand.