• Why Didn't Obama Mention Landmark Science Legislation?

    Just before Christmas, President Barack Obama celebrated a string of last-minute legislative accomplishments on tax cuts, gays in the military, the nuclear arms pact, the 9/11 responder bill, and food safety. But 2 weeks after saying that competition on innovation from overseas made this "our generation's Sputnik moment," the White House barely mentioned that key science legislation, the America COMPETES Act, which passed Congress last week amidst the flurry of lame-duck activity. >> Read the Full Article
  • New legislation places US at forefront of shark conservation

    Last week the US Senate passed the Shark Conservation Act, which bolsters the prohibition of shark-finning in US waters and puts the US at the forefront of shark conservation. >> Read the Full Article
  • China to spend $30 billion on water conservation in 2011

    The Chinese government is expected to spend about 200 billion yuan ($30.10 billion) on water conservation projects in 2011, a tenth more than in 2010, the state-run China Daily reported on Saturday. Priority will be given to improving irrigation to ensure grain security and projects to combat drought and floods, the newspaper said. It cited Water Resources Minister Chen Lei as telling a government meeting that some of the investment would come from a 10 percent levy on income earned from the leasing of land. The newspaper did not elaborate. Other funds would go toward renovating water supply infrastructure for main agriculture regions and ensuring safe drinking water for 60 million rural people, the newspaper added. >> Read the Full Article
  • Obama administration reverses Bush wilderness policy

    The Obama administration has restored U.S. land managers' powers to curb development on vast tracts of America's back country, undoing what conservation groups called a "no more wilderness" policy put in place under President George W. Bush. U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced on Thursday that the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will again have the authority to set aside large areas of federally owned territory in the West that it deems deserving of wilderness protection. It would still be up to Congress to decide whether to grant those areas formal wilderness status, putting them permanently off-limits to energy development and other commercial uses. >> Read the Full Article
  • Europe moves ahead on Cap & Trade, Japan seen shelving carbon emission trading scheme

    Japan is likely to shelve a plan to introduce carbon emissions trading as the troubled ruling Democratic Party bows to powerful business groups still recovering from a costly downturn. If confirmed, it would be a massive reversal by the party, which has backed one of the toughest emissions reduction targets of any major economy and said emissions trading was a key way to achieve that goal and drive greater energy efficiency at home. It would also be a blow to hopes more top greenhouse gas polluting nations outside the European Union would usher in emissions trading, after efforts in the United States and Australia were shelved. >> Read the Full Article
  • Large Scale Solar Power Installations On Public Lands

    What do you get when you add public land in sunny Western states and a federal government that wants to develop renewable energy? The answer: an announcement by the Interior Department last week that it selected about two dozen potential sites for large-scale solar power installations on public lands. The sites are in six states: California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. The Bureau of Land Management has 120 million acres in the six states, and 22 million acres could be identified as solar energy zones, but only 214,000 acres will be considered. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Other Electric Vehicles

    During the last few decades, increased concern over the environmental impact of the petroleum-based transportation infrastructure has led to renewed interest in an electric transportation infrastructure. Electric vehicles differ from fossil fuel-powered vehicles in that the electricity they consume can be generated from a wide range of sources. A key advantage of electric or hybrid electric vehicles is regenerative braking and suspension; their ability to recover energy normally lost during braking as electricity to be restored to the on-board battery. In 2003, the first mass-produced hybrid gasoline-electric car, the Toyota Prius, was introduced worldwide, and the first battery electric car produced by a major auto company. Other major auto companies have electric cars in development, and the USA and other nations are building pilot networks of charging stations to recharge them. So what about the rest of the world? The Russian automotive industry is not one that is totally familiar with the green changes towards electric vehicles and other models that have been sweeping other countries throughout Europe or the world. In fact, historically, there has never been much to say about the Russian automotive industry as a whole. Now, however, Russia is ready for her first hybrid car. >> Read the Full Article
  • Cap & trade, European style

    A new regulatory regime for dispensing around 100 billion euros of carbon permits has been approved by EU regulators, granting steelmakers and oil refineries free emission allowances in an effort to shield them from international competition after 2012. Fears that tighter controls on CO2 emissions in Europe will drive factories to relocate abroad has led the EU to grant sweeping exemptions for industries deemed to be at risk. Existing proposals for the permits to be allocated according to carbon intensity "benchmarks" were approved with only slight modifications by the European Commission on 15 December. >> Read the Full Article
  • Arctic 'Ice Refuge' Envisioned As Region Warms Rapidly in 21st Century

    As the Arctic rapidly warms in the 21st century and Arctic sea ice largely disappears in summer, a strip of year-round ice is likely to remain to the north of Greenland and the Canadian Arctic archipelago, providing a refuge for some sea-ice dependent wildlife, such as polar bears and ringed seals, according to researchers. A panel of scientists at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco said the remaining band of ice could provide a haven for some iconic Arctic creatures, although the disappearance of the vast majority of summer sea ice, probably by mid-century, will undoubtedly be bad news for polar bears, which use the ice as a feeding platform to hunt ringed seals. The remnant strip of summer sea ice will likely exist because prevailing winds blow sea ice away from the shores of Russia and toward Canada, according to Stephanie Pfirman of Barnard College. She and colleagues from Columbia University, McGill University, and the U.S. government said it is important to protect this ice refuge from the oil drilling and mineral exploration that is likely to spread through other parts of the Arctic as summer sea ice disappears and the Arctic Ocean becomes navigable for part of the year. >> Read the Full Article
  • California Carbon trade plan approved

    California on Thursday approved rules for a multibillion-dollar carbon market, in what proponents hope and detractors fear will be a turning point for the United States toward building a national program to address global warming. After Congress failed to pass a climate change law last year, California is the vanguard of the nation's effort to address global warming and its bid to build alternative energy and related industries. California has mandated that a third of its electricity come from renewable sources like solar and wind. It is also encouraging "low carbon" auto fuels, like some biofuels and natural gas, and on Thursday approved rules for the carbon market. >> Read the Full Article