• Colorado Law Will Retire or Retrofit Coal-Fired Power Plants

    Colorado Governor Bill Ritter on Monday signed into law the Colorado Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act--legislation that requires Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) to cut nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 80% from several Front Range coal plants by the end of 2017, most likely sooner. Xcel will work with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to submit a plan to the Public Utilities Commission by Aug. 15, detailing how it will retire or retrofit 900 megawatts (MW) of coal-fired capacity. Xcel will give primary consideration to replacing or repowering those plants with natural gas, renewables, greater efficiencies and other cleaner energy sources. "This law is a template for tomorrow that allows us to transform our energy portfolio, our economy and our environment by working strategically and collaboratively," Gov. Ritter said. "By shifting our oldest and least efficient coal plants to cleaner, Colorado-produced natural gas, we send a strong message to the rest of the country that we absolutely can cut air pollution and protect public health while also creating jobs and protecting ratepayers." Governor Ritter was joined at the Capitol signing ceremony by members of a broad coalition that supported House Bill 1365, including Xcel Energy Chairman and CEO Dick Kelly, lawmakers, power producers and conservationists. >> Read the Full Article
  • What Country Is the Best at Protecting the Environment?

    After dropping more than 20 spots this year in one ranking that measures how well countries are working to protect the environment, the United States is taking steps to improve its environmental impact. The 2010 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks 163 countries based on 10 indicators of environmental protection, such as levels of air pollution, marine protection laws, water quality, and their rate of planting new trees. The EPI is composed biannually by a team of environmental experts at Yale University and Columbia University. >> Read the Full Article
  • Michigan. The Saudi Arabia of WIND energy

    The first regional Wind Energy Conference, sponsored by the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association (www.glrea.org) took place at the Cobo Center in Detroit April 20 & 21st. Bringing together for the first time under one roof, the major players from government, utilities, universities, and private enterprise everyone had a chance to focus on what the experts had to say about the state of the art in wind energy production and the role it will play in the transformation of Michigan's economy. A highlight of the intensive two day Michigan Wind Energy summit, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, in her keynote speech, stated that the goal of her efforts was to make Michigan the "Saudi Arabia of wind energy". In her enthusiastic 'let's get serious' attitude about making change, Gov. Granholm reiterated that no one is hungrier for change and the jobs that 'going green' will create than Michigan. >> Read the Full Article
  • Military leads fight against climate change

    The U.S. military, the government's largest fuel buyer, is leading the fight against climate change by investing in the "Great Green Fleet" and other ways of cutting dependence on oil and coal, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts report released on Tuesday. "They're not having long and protracted debates about whether or not we can afford it... they are marching" into investments in everything from electric vehicles to forming strike groups that run on alternative fuels, said Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew Environment Group's Global Warming Campaign. The report, "Re-energizing America's Defense," says the military has found that climate change may lead to domestic and international instability by threatening water and food supplies. In addition, stronger storms caused by emissions could increase the need for humanitarian missions by the military both at home and abroad, which could stretch resources. >> Read the Full Article
  • Ocean salinities show an intensified water cycle

    Evidence that the world's water cycle has already intensified is contained in new research to be published in the American Journal of Climate. The stronger water cycle means arid regions have become drier and high rainfall regions wetter as atmospheric temperature increases. >> Read the Full Article
  • Saturn Lightning!

    Imagine an electrical storm larger than the continental United States in which the lightning bolts are more than 1,000 times stronger than conventional lightning, and you'll have a good idea of what can transpire on Saturn. NASA's Cassini spacecraft has recently captured images of lightning on Saturn. The images have allowed scientists to create the first movie showing lightning flashing on another planet. After waiting years for Saturn to dim enough for the spacecraft's cameras to detect bursts of light, scientists were able to create the movie, complete with a soundtrack that features the crackle of radio waves emitted when lightning bolts struck. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Icelandic Cauldron

    At this point most people know that a volcano erupted in Iceland spewing forth tons of ash that have grounded countless flights. What is less known is the intense thermal emissions (at least 60 megawatts, or 60 million watts) emanating from the vent at the base of the massive plume. This is just the energy released by heat into the atmosphere. This thermal emission, equivalent to the energy consumption of 60,000 homes, represents only a small proportion of the total energy being released by the volcano as its molten lava interacts violently with ice and water. >> Read the Full Article
  • Recent Tectonic Activity Shaking Things Up

    There seems to have been a rash of high magnitude earthquakes and volcanic eruptions recently on planet Earth. One begs to know if there is an underlying cause behind it, or if it is all merely coincidental. Are the poles reversing? Is our planet stable or should we start building our doomsday caves and space ships? When it seems like there is something abnormal about all this tectonic activity, one needs to defer to the experts on the matter, and they are saying that it is, in fact, nothing unusual. >> Read the Full Article
  • Celebrate Earth Day with NASA!

    One of the benefits we noted when man first was able observe the earth from above our atmosphere, from outer space, is that it enabled us to gain a new perspective on how very special our planet is. Viewed from a distance, it is obvious that we are all living in one global environment. And from a distance, this environment doesn't look as vast as it does from our vantage point on earth. The land looks more precious, the seas less like unlimited places to discharge our wastes, and the atmosphere, less like a place to emit air pollution at night so no one sees it, to the fragile envelope which, more than anything, makes earth the special place it is. Indeed, it is the atmosphere that permits life as we know it to flourish on earth. And we owe most of this new knowledge to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)! Begun in 1970, Earth Day is the annual celebration of the environment and a time to assess work still needed to protect the natural resources of our planet. NASA maintains the world's largest contingent of dedicated Earth scientists and engineers in leading and assisting other agencies in preserving the planet's environment. NASA celebrates the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on the National Mall in Washington beginning Saturday, April 17. >> Read the Full Article
  • Earth's missing heat a concern

    The rise in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere means far more energy is coming into Earth's climate system than is going out, but half of that energy is missing and could eventually reappear as another sign of climate change, scientists said on Thursday. In stable climate times, the amount of heat coming into Earth's system is equal to the amount leaving it, but these are not stable times, said John Fasullo of the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, a co-author of the report in the journal Science. The gap between what's entering the climate system and what's leaving is about 37 times the heat energy produced by all human activities, from driving cars and running power plants to burning wood. Half of that gap is unaccounted for, Fasullo and his co-author Kevin Trenberth reported. It hasn't left the climate system but it hasn't been detected with satellites, ocean sensors or other technology. >> Read the Full Article