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GE hopes to cut mercury in "green" light bulbs
October 24, 2007 05:22 PM - Timothy Gardner,
NISKAYUNA, New York (Reuters) - General Electric Co is working to cut the amount of mercury in energy-saving fluorescent lightbulbs which have soared in popularity.
Residents and businesses are buying up compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) because they reduce power bills as well as emissions of carbon dioxide, the main gas blamed for global warming. CFLs use only one-fourth to one-fifth the energy of incandescent bulbs producing the same light and can last 10 years.
The corkscrew-shaped devices are made by many companies and on average contain about 5 milligrams of mercury, a toxic metallic element, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Five milligrams is tiny amount, about the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen, and much less than the amount that was held in old thermometers. But with sales of CFLs hitting 150 million units last year, and more expected this year, some scientists and environmentalists are worried that most of the bulbs are ending up in landfills instead of being recycled.
Conoco unit pleads guilty to hiding Alaska spill
October 24, 2007 04:48 PM -
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - A shipping company owned by ConocoPhillips' pleaded guilty to concealing a 2004 oil spill in the ocean off Alaska and was ordered to pay $2.5 million for the offense, officials said.
Polar Tankers Inc. entered its guilty plea in U.S. District Court on Tuesday and was ordered to pay a $500,000 fine and a $2 million community-service payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the U.S. Attorney's office said.
Tim Robbins wages crusade against noise in new film
October 23, 2007 05:33 PM - Silvia Aloisi, Reuters
ROME (Reuters) - Have you ever dreamt of smashing up that car in your neighborhood whose burglar alarm has the bad habit of going off in the middle of the night?
U.S. director Henry Bean used to do that just that, breaking into other people's cars to disable their alarms, so he could get a good night's sleep. He ended up in court and in jail, until he decided to stop and make a film about it.
"Noise", Bean's provocative second film, casts Tim Robbins as David, an upper-class family man driven insane by New York's loud sounds -- grinding garbage trucks, horns honking, back-up beepers and worst of all, car alarms squealing at all hours.
US Govt Study: Source of Nitrate in Precipitation Is Coal Power
October 22, 2007 03:09 PM -
Denver, CO - Nitrate found in precipitation occurring in rural areas of the Northeastern and Midwestern United States is primarily caused by emissions from stationary sources located hundreds of miles away, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study. Stationary sources include coal-burning power plants and other industrial facilities. Although vehicles are the single largest emission source of nitrogen oxides in this region, distant stationary sources may have a greater impact on nitrate found in rain and snow.
Stationary sources include coal-burning power plants and other industrial facilities. Although vehicles are the single largest emission source of nitrogen oxides in this region, distant stationary sources may have a greater impact on nitrate found in rain and snow.
Brazil Will Burn Sugarcane Fields Until 2017
October 22, 2007 02:41 PM -
SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Almost 100 sugar and ethanol mills in Brazil's main sugar cane state Sao Paulo have agreed to stop the practice of burning cane fields by 2017, the Sugar Cane Industry Union (Unica) said on Monday.
These mills crush more than 50 percent of the cane output in Sao Paulo, Brazil's No. 1 cane producing state that accounts for around 63 percent of the national crop.
In June, Unica had signed an agreement with the state government in which mills were to ban cane burning in the state by 2017, well before 2031 target mandated by a state law.
Germany Supporting Chilean Renewable Energy Efforts
October 22, 2007 02:09 PM - Paula Leighton, SciDevNet
Santigo, Chile - The German government has pledged up to US$126 million to fund Chilean research into renewable energy and energy efficiency.
The Chilean minister of energy, Marcelo Tokman, announced the agreement during an official visit to Berlin, Germany, this month.
A spokesperson for Chile's National Commission of Energy told SciDev.Net that the German government will donate US$11.5 million and lend up to US$114.5 million.
During the visit, Tokman also formally accepted an invitation for Chile to become one of the founder countries of the new International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
IRENA — an initiative led by Germany — aims to promote the use of renewable energy sources such as solar energy, wind power, regenerative biomass, wave and tidal power worldwide.
It will also support national energy planning, research centres and technology transfer, especially from industrialised nations to developing countries.
China Needs More Than Electric Cars: Toyota
October 22, 2007 11:04 AM -
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese carmaker Toyota is working to improve its hybrid cars and develop electric cars for the future, but an official said on Monday that these vehicles would not help reduce CO2 emissions in China.
"In France, 80 percent of electricity is produced by nuclear stations so if electric cars replace fossil fuel cars then you have a clear reduction in the emission of CO2," said Tatehito Ueda, a managing officer at Toyota Motor Corp.
"But in China they make electricity by burning coal, so China is not the place for electric cars," he told the Nikkei International Automotive Conference in Tokyo.
Kansas Vetos Coal Power: Health Risks Cited
October 22, 2007 10:57 AM - Bernie Woodall, Reuters
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Opponents of coal-fired power plants say they were given a new weapon last week when Kansas became the first state to reject a coal-fired power plant solely on the basis of the health risks created by carbon dioxide emissions.
A dozen states have rejected plans for new coal-fired power, at least in part because of concerns over carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. However, Kansas does not regulate carbon emissions and is believed to be the first state to tie CO2 to health risks and use that as the only stated reason for denying a required air permit, said Bruce Nilles, head of the Sierra Club's national effort to stop new coal plants and retire the dirtiest of existing ones.
Carmakers Seek Engine of the Future
October 22, 2007 01:38 AM - Marcel Michelson
TOKYO (Reuters) - Oil is getting scarce and the internal combustion engine adds to pollution, therefore the car of the not too distant future needs a new motor. But what?
Delegates at the Nikkei automotive conference here, in the week of the Tokyo Autoshow, reviewed the industry's sputtering progress towards new power systems in the knowledge that if they do not come up with a solution the sector may come to a halt.
"In the long-term, it's very clear that on-road transportation has to decouple from petroleum for both dependency and greenhouse gas emissions reasons, and the pathway for that is electric drive," Michael Milikin, editor of the Green Car Congress publication, told Reuters.
Solar cars race from Australia's top to bottom
October 21, 2007 11:41 PM -
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Sun-powered-car enthusiasts from around the world raced into the Australia outback on Sunday at speeds nearing 100 kilometres-per-hour at the start of the World Solar Challenge.
Thousands of onlookers crowded the streets of Darwin in Australia's tropical north for the beginning of the 3,000-km (1,863 mile) race, a biennial event since 1987, gawking at the sleek foil-like vehicles resembling giant microchips.
The only rule over the mostly straightaway course through Australia's "red centre" in temperatures that can exceed 50 degrees Celsius is that the custom-built vehicles run on nothing but the sun.
"The drivers will be sitting on between 90 and 100 kilometres per hour as much as they can, though most are capable of going faster," said race coordinator Chris Selwood.
"But this really is not just about who is the fastest, it's more about energy efficiency and management," he said.