Pollution

Electric vehicles getting even "Greener"
September 16, 2014 03:01 PM - Union of Concerned Scientists

Sixty percent of Americans now live in regions where electric vehicles (EVs) produce fewer heat-trapping global warming emissions per mile than the most efficient hybrids, according to an updated analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). In 2012, that number was just 45 percent. "Electric vehicles are doing more and more to fulfill their technological promise," said Don Anair, research director for UCS's Clean Vehicles Program. "If we want to reduce transportation pollution and oil use, a big part of the answer is to be like Bob Dylan and go electric."

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Drilling in the Dark
August 1, 2014 08:54 AM - University of Wisconsin-Madison

As production of shale gas soars, the industry's effects on nature and wildlife remain largely unexplored, according to a study by a group of conservation biologists published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment on August 1. The report emphasizes the need to determine the environmental impact of chemical contamination from spills, well-casing failure, and other accidents. "We know very little about how shale gas production is affecting plants and wildlife," says author Sara Souther, a conservation fellow in the Department of Botany at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "And in particular, there is a lack of accessible and reliable information on spills, wastewater disposal and the chemistry of fracturing fluids. Of the 24 U.S. states with active shale gas reservoirs, only five maintain public records of spills and accidents." The 800 percent increase in U.S. shale gas production between 2007 and 2012 is largely due to the use of hydraulic fracturing. Also called fracking, the process uses high-pressure injection of water, laden with sand and a variety of chemicals, to open cracks in the gas reservoir so natural gas can flow to the well.

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SPOTLIGHT

Burlington, Vermont - Now 100% Powered by Renewable Energy

Kevin Mathews, Care2
Burlington, Vermont, already considered to be one of the United States's most environmentally progressive cities, has added another line to its impressive green resume. Just recently, the city finalized its transition to relying 100% on renewable resources for its energy. Burlington is Vermont's large city, though that in itself is no big feat — the city has a population of just 42,000. Then again, very few communities of even this size have managed to disassociate themselves from fossil fuels. In order to adequately tackle climate change, cities — big and small — need to prioritize finding and utilizing alternative energy solutions. Burlington had expressed a desire to commit to 100% renewable energy for more than a decade, but it became a real possibility when analysts discovered that it was not only a smart environmental choice, but financially viable, too. In the long run, both the city and residents will not be paying more for clean energy than they were when buying fossil fuels.

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