Feb 29, 2008

Opening Statement: Nuclear Regulatory Commission Oversight: Security of Our Nation's Nuclear Plants

.... It is our job today, as Members of this Committee, to ensure that the NRC remains a strong and independent regulator, true to its mission of protecting public health and safety, and promoting the common defense and security. 

Some excerpts:

The NRC cannot condone, and this Committee cannot ignore, security guards sleeping on duty in violation of procedures. 

 There are reports that NRC staff recommended an additional $22 million for new reactor licensing that was NOT included in the final budget request and that the shortfall will lead to delays of 8 months or more in reviewing applications filed in FY'09.  If this is true, then I am very concerned to hear that the NRC may already be jeopardizing its ability to conduct thorough reviews in a timely fashion by setting the stage for a funding shortfall. In contrast, the requested budget increase for reactor oversight -- a process that even GAO has found to be logical and well-structured -- is $16.1 million, over 5 times the increase for new reactor licensing.  Testimony from our October hearing certainly didn't indicate program shortcomings requiring a strong funding increase as a remedy. 

I'm concerned by this disparity and I'm eager to understand the basis for it.

Read more from senate.gov

Watermotor - Simple Mechanical Drive

From  Steve Spence green-trust.org

Most of the common machines used in workshops, industry, and farms are driven by motors of only .5 - 5 horsepower. The Watermotor will produce this amount of power at an extremely low cost and with a minimum of ecological disruption.

High energy efficiency means that the quantity of water necessary for operation and cost of installation is greatly reduced, while on the other hand the number of actual locations where waterpower on this scale is available increases exponentially. In effect, every small fast-flowing stream becomes an important local energy resource, perhaps in many cases the only practical one available. In the world's hilly and mountainous areas there are often few roads and even fewer electric power-lines. While frequently rich in small scale water-power resources, the people are poor.

The Watermotor is a practical means of utilizing one of the easiest to use and most efficient sources of natural energy.

U.S. may import 20,000 tons of nuclear waste

GRIST - Know how the U.S. hasn't even figured out a long-term solution for its own nuclear waste? Perhaps importing 20,000 tons of radioactive material from Italy might not be the best idea. Not to mention that we don't want to do the Italians any favors until they decriminalize crotch-grabbing.

NSF Publishes Roadmap for Hydrocarbon Biofuels

Read via greencarcongress.com

The report—Breaking the Chemical and Engineering Barriers to Lignocellulosic Biofuels: Next Generation Hydrocarbon Biorefineries—is one of the outcomes of a workshop on the topic held last June with more than 70 leading biofuels scientists and engineers. The workshop was sponsored by NSF, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the American Chemical Society; it was chaired by George W. Huber, University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

The report identifies the basic research needs and opportunities in catalytic chemistry and materials science that underpin biomass conversion and fuel utilization, with a focus on new, emerging and scientifically challenging areas that have the potential for significant impact. The report illuminates the principal technological barriers and the underlying scientific limitations associated with efficient processing of biomass resources into finished fuels.

The limiting factor to biofuels production is simply that low-cost processing technologies to efficiently convert a large fraction of the lignocellulosic biomass energy into liquid fuels do not yet exist.

—"Breaking the Chemical and Engineering Barriers..."

The report focuses on six primary areas:

  • Selective thermal processing of lignocellulosic biomass to produce liquid fuels (bio-oils) in distributed biorefineries.

  • Utilization of petroleum refining technology for conversion of biomass-derived oxygenates within existing petroleum refineries.

  • Hydrocarbon production by liquid phase processing of sugars to a heretofore "sleeping giant" intermediate, hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), followed by HMF conversion to "green" diesel and jet fuel.

  • Process intensification for diesel and gasoline production from synthesis gas (CO and H2) by Fisher-Tropsch synthesis (FTS), which dramatically decreases the economically viable size compared to traditional FTS processes with petroleum derived feedstocks.

  • Conceptual design of biorefining processes in conjunction with experimental studies at the beginning of research projects to allow rapid development of commercial biofuel technologies.

  • Design of recyclable, highly active and selective heterogeneous catalysts for biofuel production using advanced nanotechnology, synthesis methods and quantum chemical calculations.


Environmental Graffiti: The 5 Most Environmentally Friendly Presidents in U.S. History

Here is the "Environmental Graffiti" list of the top 5 Most Environmentally Friendly Presidents:

5. Abraham Lincoln

4. Teddy Roosevelt

3. Franklin Delano Roosevelt

2. Richard Nixon

1. Jimmy Carter?

I'm sure not everyone will agree with them, so leave your own lists in the comments section at Environmental Graffiti: The 5 Most Environmentally Friendly Presidents in U.S. History


Clinton's efforts on ethanol overlap her husband's interests.

NY Times:
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has worked to provide incentives and investment opportunities for ethanol. Her actions intersect with Mr. Clinton's philanthropic and profit-making endeavors. Read here nytimes.com
As do her nuclear efforts... (Dahhh!) It's called politics for a reason. 

Feb 28, 2008

CORN fuel up to 423 times more carbon emissions than fossil fuels?

Recent reports, though, have led to a growing concern that ethanol might simply be a faster way of digging an environmental grave.

According to a piece in Science magazine, experts from Princeton and the Nature Conservancy have focused on serious problems associated with the rising use of ethanol. First and foremost, they said, clearing the vast tracts of land necessary for growing corn can result in anywhere from 17 times to 423 times more carbon emissions annually than are saved by burning biofuels rather than fossil fuels.

There are some caveats to these objections: For instance, the exact emissions numbers are by no means agreed upon, and cellulosic ethanol could be made from switchgrass or other plants, which can grow almost anywhere and would not increase the price of corn.

The more that ethanol supporters claim to have answers, though, the more skeptics seem to have questions. Water use has become a political hot potato in the western United States, which has been hit not only by drought but by water-rights disputes; one undeniable fact is that ethanol production soaks up massive amounts of water. One example: In Colorado, the North Fork of the heavily drained Republican River has shortened by 10 miles in just 20 years, and unchecked irrigation has drained the major aquifers in the area to dangerously low levels. The water table for the area sits 100 feet lower than it did 30 years ago, according to Newsweek.

Even Virgin Group chairman Richard Branson has turned around on his previous ethanol enthusiasm, recently telling the BBC that he "regrets his investment in biofuels on environmental and economic grounds" after investing nearly $400 million in the field two years ago.

Biofuels Might Prove Worse Than CO2 (The Sunday Independent)
Ethanol Boom Saps Water (Newsweek)

Read more from the source "The Dark Side of Ethanol"

nuclear power will be economically obsolete in next decade

QUOTE: We need to build 2,000, 3,000 nuclear reactors for it to take on the kind of role that coal has today.

WHO: Dr. Makhijani,
...if we cast ourselves forward to 2050 or 2060 and we've made, as a nation, as a world, significant investments in nuclear power, what's wrong with that?
In order to make a significant impact on climate we have to build 2,000, 3,000 nuclear reactors for it to take on the kind of role that coal has today. Probably more, considering the growth in China and India. That means one nuclear reactor every six days or so. That means we have to build two or three uranium enrichment plants every year.
First of all, nuclear is the lazy answer. It fits into the structure we've got. It's the way we've always done things. We've got 95-percent centralized electricity and a nuclear — you can just plop in a nuclear plant in place of an old coal plant and you're done. If you're a stockholder, it looks very easy … Even so, Wall Street is not eager to finance it. Nuclear companies want 100-percent loan guarantees.

One of the problems with nuclear is water. I think that has not been adequately considered. Last year, a nuclear reactor was shut down in Tennessee because of lack of water during a drought. I think the South Texas Project has not that well considered the implications of large-scale water use for its new power plants in the context of what might happen if we have severe drought. They're planning to use 100 cubic-feet per second, that could be a significant proportion of the Colorado River at low-flow times.

2008 Brownfields Conference is fast approaching.

The National Brownfields Conference is the largest, most comprehensive conference focused on cleaning up and redeveloping abandoned, underutilized, and potentially contaminated properties in the nation. There is no better deal in the redevelopment marketplace than Brownfields 2008. Why?? Because registration is free, and by signing up you gain access to more than 130 educational and learning opportunities, outstanding plenary sessions, 200 exhibitors, scores of networking events, special training sessions, film screenings, book signings, and much, much more. Please check out the website at http://www.brownfields2008.org 
There are plenty of ways that individuals and organizations can take advantage of all the educational and networking opportunities that Brownfields 2008 will present. Whether you're a newcomer to the world of economic and environmental redevelopment or a seasoned professional looking to make new connections and increase your business, Brownfields 2008 offers something for you.

For information on US EPA's Brownfields Program, visit: http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/

Feb 23, 2008

U.S. squeezes more GDP out of each drop of energy than the U.K., Japan, or European average.

Is America the environmental leader or the laggard?

Of course it's the leader. The problem is, it's also richer. That means that per-capita emissions of carbon dioxide are going to be higher in the U.S., with its spacious homes, big air conditioners, and long commutes.

But that doesn't mean the U.S. is necessarily an energy spendthrift, argues Hayward, a long-time foil of Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The U.S. squeezes more GDP out of each drop of energy than the U.K., France, Germany, Japan, or the European average.

And here lies the main paradox of the misperception on this issue: it is precisely because the United States is highly energy efficient that we are able to afford and consume more energy than European nations on a per-capita basis. One obvious implication of this analysis is that the United States cannot currently achieve European-level greenhouse gas emissions unless it reduces American output and lowers the nation's standard of living.

For Hayward, the "untold and underappreciated" story is America's constant improvement in energy-efficiency. He offers up a comparison with 1910, when greenhouse gas emissions were at the level many cap-and-trade advocates long to return to. Back then, per-capita income (in 2007 dollars) was $5,964" a bit short of paying for a Prius.

Since then, he says, the economy has grown twenty-fold, emissions six-fold, and per-capita emissions barely doubled. The efficiency drive isn't over, either: "It is likely that the United States is the only industrialized nation whose greenhouse gas emissions fell in 2006 (2006 emissions data for other nations are not yet available)."

Read more By Keith Johnson America: The Efficient, Green Giant?

Bottom-trawling, single most destructive human action for the world's oceans

The delegation from New Zealand, whose fishermen are responsible for 90% of bottom-trawling in the South Pacific high seas, said the restrictions would "severely constrain" its fishing vessels.

"Because of the cost implications of the necessary research and assessment and observer requirements, it may even have the effect of putting an end to bottom-trawling," it said.

The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, an alliance of leading environmental and conservation groups, welcomed the agreement.

Mackerel (BBC)
Because of the cost implications of the necessary research and assessment and observer requirements, [the agreement] may even have the effect of putting an end to bottom-trawling
New Zealand delegation

In addition to the weighted nets and rollers which crush coral reefs, bottom-trawling targets slow-growing species of fish, such as orange roughy, which take decades to reach breeding age.

Such species are especially vulnerable to overfishing because the population replenishes itself very slowly.

Last November, leading scientists warned there would be no sea fish left in 50 years if current practices continued.

Schematic of bottom-trawling. Image: BBC

Shell's 1959 Opel T-1 376.59 mpg Car

Yep, as I have documented before 100-300 mpg has been possible for decades with "regular" on "regular" gas.
Quoted: "Here's a car that was 20 years old at the time of the contest that was the project of a couple of guys in a garage," he said. "You can't tell me we can't do better than this with cars today." Read about Shells 376 MPG Opel here

Feb 19, 2008

And the award goes tooo...


Feb 18, 2008

ATSDR Charged With Suppressing Report on Great Lakes Toxic Risks

"CHICAGO -- The lead author and peer reviewers of a government report raising the possibility of public health threats from industrial contamination throughout the Great Lakes region are charging that the report is being suppressed because of the questions it raises. The author also alleges that he was demoted because of the report. Chris De Rosa, former director of the division of toxicology and environmental medicine at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), charges that the report he wrote was a significant factor in his reassignment to a non-supervisory 'special assistant' position last year. The House Committee on Science and Technology is investigating De Rosa's reassignment, in light of allegations that it was related to the Great Lakes report and his push to publicize the possibility of a cancer risk from formaldehyde fumes in Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers housing victims of Hurricane Katrina." Kari Lydersen reports for the Washington Post Feb. 18, 2008. The story was originally reported Feb. 7, 2008 by Sheila Kaplan of the Center for Public Integrity.
Read it at: washingtonpost

Happy Presidents Day! Green US president history factoids

Little-known green factoids about US presidents throughout history

Presidents come in many different shades of green, much like the dollar-bill green, sometimes puke green in times of national emergency. But never mind that. Let's enjoy these choice factoids:

George Washington—first president, 1789-1797
•    Washington was the only president ever to be elected unanimously. No campaign trail to speak of—imagine the carbon savings! The cancelled FOX and CNN election specials alone probably could have powered every home in the nation!
•    Also, showing extreme patience and willpower, Washington had his men row him across the Delaware. Not once did he rev up the outboard engine.
•    As a boy, little George (of the famous
cherry tree anecdote) did not chop down his father's prized cherry tree with his new hatchet. Rather, he merely hacked off all its bark and left it to die a slow and painful death.

Thomas Jefferson—third president, 1801-1809
•    During his second term, Jefferson attempted an embargo on American shipping. His reasoning was more to do with international trade than with reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but still. Unfortunately, the embargo "
worked badly and was unpopular."
•    Jefferson was also known for reducing
vampire power drainage by diligently unplugging his cell phone charger each morning.

James Madison—fourth president, 1809-1817
•    A mere 5 feet 4 inches, 100 pounds, James Madison was the shortest American president.
•    He took up very little space.
•    [Martin Van Buren, 5 feet 6 inches, didn't take up much space either.]

James Monroe—fifth president, 1758-1831
•    Monroe loved the outdoors so much, he was the first president to be inaugurated… outdoors.
•    Maybe that's where Middlebury got the sporting idea to have their midyear graduates collect their diplomas on skis.

John Quincy Adams—sixth president, 1825-1829
•    Adams, son of just-president John Adams, was the first president to practice patriotic recycling by reusing his father's name in the White House.
•    Also, records all but prove that he never once left his laptop computer on overnight.

Andrew Jackson—seventh president, 1829-1837
•    Andrew Jackson was the first president to ride on a train.
•    It probably wasn't Amtrak though, because if you think $90 is highway robbery today that was like so much money in those days, like billions.

Abraham Lincoln—sixteenth president, 1861-1865
•    That old trendsetter Abe lived off the grid in a log cabin way before that sort of thing was cool.

Ulysses S. Grant—eighteenth president, 1869-1877
•    A man about town, Grant resisted the urge to splash out on a flashy red Jaguar, and instead humbly went about his business via horse and buggy.
•    His noble commitment to low-carbon transport cost him dearly: Once caught buggy-speeding in the streets of DC, poor chap, he was fined $20 and forced to return on foot to the White House.

William McKinley—twenty-fifth president, 1897-1901
•    At the turn of the century, ladies' hats were often decorated with plumes from over-hunted birds. McKinley apparently either thought the hats were ugly or opposed plume hunting—the Lacey Act of 1900 banned the practice of
shipping illegally-killed birds from one state to another. Plume hunters weren't psyched.

Theodore Roosevelt—twenty-sixth president, 1901-1909
•    PETA predecessor Theodore Roosevelt was an avid birder and kept a "
small zoo" in his room at Harvard, "consisting of lobsters, snakes, and a huge tortoise."
•    Perhaps inspired by his reptilian roommates, Roosevelt went on to establish 194 million acres of national forests and parks as well as the first National Bird Preserve.
•    He also established the Forest Service. And a few other trifles like, um, the Grand Canyon National Monument and 17 other national monuments.
•    Often hailed as the conservation president, Teddy was also the first to take a public ride in an electric car.

William H. Taft—twenty-seventh president, 1909-1913
•    Committed to locally-sourced milk and dairy, Taft bought Pauline Wayne (a cow) from a senator in Wisconsin, and kept her at the White House for two years.

Woodrow Wilson—twenty-eighth president, 1913-1921
•    During World War I, Wilson decided he should save money on lawn-upkeep at the White House. His green solution was to bring a flock of sheep in to graze the presidential lawn. Money raised from their wool went to bolster the Red Cross war efforts.
•    He also outlawed dumping anthracite coal and its refuse into streams and established mining regulations on federal lands.

Calvin Coolidge—thirtieth president, 1923-1929
•    Calvin Coolidge did very little, and
spoke even less, conserving both energy and clean air. Governmental records note that he had a "talent for effectively doing nothing."

Harry Truman—thirty-third president, 1945-1953
•    Taking a one-man, grass-roots approach to paper reduction, Truman read every single book in his hometown library.
•    Taking a slightly less grass-roots approach to Japan during World War II, Truman dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Lyndon Johnson—thirty-sixth president, 1963-1969
•    Apparently a fan of the scenic drive, Johnson introduced the Highway Beautification Act of 1965.
•    Lyndon also worked on Clean Air legislation, Water Pollution Control legislation, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and the Wilderness Act.

Richard Nixon—thirty-seventh president, 1969-1974
•    Dirty Dick got himself into some hot water, but he also cleaned a few things up. You know that little organization called the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)? He started it—no big deal.
•    Oh, and he signed the Endangered Species Act into law, created the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the 1970 Clean Air Act, the 1972 Clean Water Act, and the 1973 Endangered Species Act.

Jimmy Carter—thirty-ninth president, 1977-1981
•    Jimmy and his wife Rosalynn had four children (read: probably drove a gargantuan SUV), so it's not a huge surprise that he worked to improve car fuel efficiency.
•    Carter also protected 103-million acres in Alaska by expanding the National Parks system.
•    And we all owe a big thanks to old Carter for
passing legislation throughout the US. (Find a Superfund site are near you).

George H.W. Bush—forty-first president, 1989-1993
•    Bush really liked breathing clean air, but didn't so much like breathing toxic, dirty air. So in 1990, he amended the Clean Air Act, in hopes of making air… cleaner.

Bill Clinton—forty-second president, 1993-2001
•    Instead of wasting electricity on a big fancy home audio system, Bill played his own saxophone. It was charming and soulful.
•    Also, he created 17 new national monuments (4.6 million acres in total), took a whack at ratifying Kyoto, and declared road building illegal in 60 million acres of national forest.

George W. Bush—forty-forth president, 2001-current
•    Acting on his commitment to conserving resources, George Bush Jr. sent troops into war without armor.
•    He also dubbed 140,000 square miles of ocean near the Hawaiian Islands a marine reserve in June 2006. No, really, he did. Not joking.

So kids, you have a rich green heritage to live up to. Remember: ask not what your country can recycle for you, but what you can recycle for your country.

From: (By Tobin Hack) plentymag.com Nicole Scarmeas contributed research.

Energy crisis making way for 'nuclear renaissance'

Houston Chronicle: Like it or not, the nukes are coming. Driven by soaring energy demands, the high cost of gas and oil and worries about global warming, an expansion of peaceful nuclear power increasingly appears to be inevitable. "I believe very strongly that new nuclear plants will be built in the U.S. in the coming decades to address problems with respect to higher energy demand, high prices and global warming," said Sudarshan Loyalka, a professor of nuclear engineering at the ... Link (VIA-ecologicalinternet.org)

Feb 15, 2008

EPA to Improve the Safety Testing of Household Chemicals

Image using DNA helix design

NIH Collaborates with EPA to Improve the Safety Testing of Chemicals

New Strategy Aims to Reduce Reliance on Animal Testing

Testing the safety of chemicals ranging from pesticides to household cleaners will benefit from new technologies and a plan for collaboration, according to federal scientists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), who today announced a new toxicity testing agreement. The concept behind this agreement is highlighted in the Feb. 15, 2008 issue of the journal Science (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/releases/2008/docs/transtox-aaas.pdf)  Download Adobe Reader (321K).

"I launched the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research five years ago to create collaborations between institutes and centers on big projects that none of them could do alone. But I never envisioned a trans-agency collaboration testing for environmental toxins," said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. "This research collaboration has the potential to make crucial discoveries that will protect the public health by identifying and understanding chemical toxicants to which people are exposed."

Read full at NIH

Feb 14, 2008

A lot of hot air from WI green politics

Who said it trying to sway the "green" vote?

In a speech on Wednesday at a GM auto plant in Wisconsin,  promising to boost green jobs, help the middle class, dole out tax cuts, negotiate worker and environmental protections in upcoming free-trade agreements, and, in order to fund much of this, end the war in Iraq.

Decades of trade deals like NAFTA and China have been signed with plenty of protections for corporations and their profits, but none for our environment or our workers who've seen factories shut their doors and millions of jobs disappear; workers whose right to organize and unionize has been under assault for the last eight years ...

[Lobbyists have] been allowed to write an energy policy that's keeping us addicted to oil when there are families choosing between gas and groceries ...

[When I am president, infrastructure repairs in the country] will be determined not by politics, but by what will maximize our safety and homeland security; what will keep our environment clean and our economy strong ...

When I am president, I will not sign another trade agreement unless it has protections for our environment and protections for American workers ..

I believe that we can create millions of ... jobs around a clean, renewable energy future ...


WHO? Barack Obama.... i.e. Jimmy Carter the 2nd.

WHY? People want to hear all of this regardless if he can or will do anything.

Possible or even plausible dreams and hope, he is really pulling in the "green" voters on hope of change.

Earth to voters - Hope, dreams and a army of magical unicorns are not a real answer without a plan and support by congress ;-( 


Have we lost our minds - Coalfired plants advance in Senate

 The Senate on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to a bill that essentially would require the state to approve two 700-megawatt coal-burning power plants in southwest Kansas. The bill is expected to pass.
The measure seeks to reverse a decision last year by Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Roderick Bremby.
Bremby denied permits for the plants because of concerns about the effect of the project's carbon dioxide emissions on climate change.
A few words from the Senate on coal and CO2
State Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville, dismissed climate change as an "unproven scientific theory." He said China built 180 coal-fired plants while KDHE was considering the plants' application from Sunflower Electric.
"I'm a farmer. We love CO2," he said. State Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, said CO2 was part of nature and helped crops grow.

Haase comments:
Regardless of the CO2 globalwarming debate, here are the inarguable facts on coal power.
#1 and most important  FACT - We can produce clean energy anytime nearly anywhere in America.
  • Even in Alaskan a 400-kilowatt power plant geothermal plant, and it's producing  electricity from lower temperature water than any plant in the world.
  • Heat stored beneath the Earth's surface holds 50,000 times the energy of all the oil and gas in the world combined. And is an ideal source of base-load power: Geothermal is cleaner than fossil fuels, and more reliable than alternative sources like tidal, wind, wave and solar. Today, geothermal plants in the United States generate nearly 3000 megawatts of electricity—enough to power South Dakota. Almost all of it comes from reservoirs that are at least 300 F.
  • This fall, Chena and United Technologies received a Department of Energy grant to install a demonstration plant at an oil or gas well in the United States. The nation's wells produce at least 40 billion barrels of wastewater per year, much of it low to moderate temperature. That's another 6000 to 11,000 megawatts of potential electricity.... Source Popular Mechanics
#2  FACT - Dirty Coal Kills thousands, leaves millions ill and makes necessary food toxic  
Next to dirty water, air pollution  it is the second leading cause of  death in the world. Burning coal is a leading cause of smog, acid rain, emissions, air toxics and the largest global source of heavy metals, of where just 1/70th of a teaspoon deposited on a 25-acre lake can make the fish unsafe to eat.
Coal as the leading cause of pollution
Coal as the leading cause of death
#3  FACT - If we don't show China we can do better their pollution will kill million more
China that has 20 times more coal fired plants than the U.S. and a
lthough the U.S. is putting the brakes on new coal, China is opening nearly one new plant a day...
Wisconsin coal Problems

Wisconsin's  emissions grew at a faster rate than the national average  Associated Press: Wisconsin's  emissions grew at a faster rate than the national average during the 1990s and can be expected to accelerate with growing reliance on coal-fired generators to produce electricity, a newspaper reports. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said Sunday that its analysis of data from the federal Energy Information Administration showed greenhouse gases released in the state increased 26 percent in the 1990s, compared to the increase of 20 percent nationally. ...Link

Click to enlarge

JS Online likes to show a nice graphic and article saying how if everyone helped a little we can "save a lot"...    These may seem like small and insignificant measures to help small families in local communities... however the average "sprawl lifestyle" with a 2,500 sqft home on a "clear cut" archer of land with two SUV's in the driveway can make a BIG difference with these little suggestions.

More importantly they state: Coal-fired plants are the most polluting way to generate electricity - contributing to air quality issues and public health problems. Coal plants also are the leading contributor to rising emissions. 

George Meyer, former secretary of the state Department of Natural Resources, says Wisconsin already is years behind in curbing emissions because it failed to implement global warming action plans in the 1990s.

Bruce Nilles, a Sierra Club lawyer, agreed. Wisconsin needs to move more quickly to shut down coal plants and embrace alternative energy sources, he said.

"Right now, we take our energy dollars and send them to Wyoming to buy coal," he said. "We just need to decide as a state that we want to lead in reducing our wasteful energy practices. It's not about doing with less - it's about being smarter with what we have." Read more VIA jsonline.com

Links to CHINA coal facts:

Environmental conditions are already approaching apocalyptic in a country where coal provides 70 percent of the country's power. Chinese scientists have predicted that the Yangtze River will die by 2011, and with two-thirds of other rivers polluted, more than 340 million Chinese lack access to clean drinking water. An estimated 400,000 Chinese die of pollution every year.

Feb 13, 2008


NEWs to USE from www.wastecapwi.org

Construction & Demolition Debris Recycling Training Program offered at ABC of Wisconsin Winter Convention
February 22, 2008 Location: Chula Vista Resort, Wisconsin Dells
WasteCap Wisconsin will be offering the full-day Construction & Demolition Debris Recycling Training Program at the ABC of Wisconsin Winter Convention in Wisconsin Dells. Reduction, reuse and recycling is allowing contractors and owners to use projects funds for building instead of waste disposal. The training also provides training to obtain LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) points for MR 2.1 and 2.2. For more information on the training program, visit


Sign up now for your free listing in WasteCapDIRECT

WasteCap Wisconsin is looking for Wisconsin companies (haulers, processors and end markets for construction and demolition debris including asphalt, brick, cardboard, carpet, ceiling tiles, concrete, drywall, scrap metal, pallets, shingles and wood) who want to sign up early to be included in this directory which will be available for public use in 2008. Basic listings are free and upgraded listing opportunities are available to better highlight your business. To signup for your listing, please email Shannon Delaney for more information.


A lighter shade of green

Source: Written by WasteCap Wisconsin's Board of Directors Vice Chair, Elizabeth Churchill. GreenerBuildings.com

Healthcare and sustainable design are two exceptionally paired industries because they focus on the same goal: promoting and protecting the health and wellbeing of the community. However, the perceived and actual first costs associated with sustainable design strategies discourage many small or rural healthcare organizations from pursuing LEED or Green Guide for Health Care (GGHC) certification. To read the full article click here



Jam-packed year of bioenergy industry growth

Source: BioCycle January 2008

This last year was a mighty big year of economic growth in generating energy from biomass. First-generation commercial-scale projects began generating bio-BTUs like: E3 Biofuels' ethanol/feedlot, Fibrominn's 55 MW manure-fueled power plant and Microgy's manure to natural gas facility. Then, in December, E3 Biofuels filed for bankruptcy. Last year began with seemingly every Midwest rural community announcing a corn-based ethanol plant. By fall, the bottom fell out of the ethanol and biodiesel expansion. It went from one extreme to the other. Click here to read the full article



Down to Earth: E-Waste in Wisconsin

Source: ABC 27 WKOW, Madison

A bill recently introduced at the state capitol would force electronics makers to take back, or at least pay for the cost to recycle, many of your old televisions and computer parts. More than a half dozen states have laws on the books like this to regulate what's known as "e-waste." The idea is to find an easy and cheap way to encourage people not to dump their old electronics into the landfill. Right now, the alternative is for people to pay for municipal collection sites through taxes and user fees. To read the full article click here


Wisconsin Solid Waste Legislative Update, February 2008

Source: John Reindl, Dane County Recycling Manager

Over 1,200 bills have been introduced into the Wisconsin Legislature, and eighteen of these cover solid waste issues, with the following fourteen being active. Based on the limited time left in the Legislative schedule and the status of these bills, it appears that only a few measures have much chance of adoption by both houses. To read the full legislative update, visit www.wastecapwi.org/b_feb08leg


Waste Management launches educational web site

Source: WasteAge

Houston-based Waste Management has launched thinkgreen.com, an interactive Web site to further educate the public about the business of handling the nearly five pounds of waste that the average citizen produces each day. The site also highlights how certain technologies are recovering resources and protecting the environment. To read the full article, visit here


Also see at  www.wastecapwi.org

Environmental issues associated with recycling asphalt shingles

Feb 12, 2008

Pollution from Midwest Refineries May Soar 40%

"pollution from Midwest oil refineries is expected to soar by as much as 40 percent during the next decade, a dramatic increase that runs counter to regional and national efforts to curb heat-trapping gases. Expansion plans at the BP refinery in Whiting would boost the facility's greenhouse-gas emissions to 5.8 million tons a year, the company told the Tribune. That would be equivalent to adding 320,000 cars to the nation's highways. While greenhouse gases from the tailpipes of cars get the most attention, the refineries that keep cars and trucks running also contribute to global warming. Fuel must be burned to make gasoline from oil, generating carbon-dioxide pollution. The huge increases in greenhouse gases are a largely hidden consequence of an industrywide trend to buy more Canadian crude. Vast reserves of tar-soaked clay and sand lying under the swampy forests of northern Alberta are seen as a profitable and reliable source of oil, but the heavy petroleum requires more energy to process." Michael Hawthorne reports for the Chicago Tribune Feb. 12, 2008.

Read it at
Source: sej.org

"Agency Misses Chance to Curb Lead in kids Jewelry"

 "The Consumer Product Safety Commission failed to exploit an opportunity to crack down on unsafe imports -- a lapse that consumer advocates say could leave children at continuing risk of exposure to lead-tainted toy jewelry. This past August, Congress temporarily authorized the CPSC to make rules governing the manufacture of such products and to pursue violators in court -- powers the agency had lost after the resignation of its chairman left it without the necessary quorum. But that special authorization expired last week without the agency taking action against lead-tainted children's jewelry -- after a year of many high-profile product recalls. Now the consumer-protection spotlight passes to federal legislators, who last year introduced bills in the Senate and the House of Representatives that would ban or severely restrict lead in all children's products and add more enforcement manpower to the CPSC. The House passed its bill in December. But the Senate bill has been stalled in committee as Democrats and Republicans wrangle over several key provisions, including confidentiality protections for manufacturers." M.P. McQueen reports for the Wall Street Journal Feb. 12, 2008 (free content).

Read it here
Source: sej.org

A Picture is Worth... Air Pollution in China

china air pollution

This image, which was captured by NASA's Sea-Viewing Wide Field-of-View Sensor (i.e. SeaWiFS), dates back to January 2, 2000; it shows a layer of polluted air covering a large portion of southeastern China. The increased use of fossil fuels is largely to blame for the opaque haze. Given that China now tops the U.S. in total greenhouse gas emissions, just imagine what a satellite picture of the region would look like now...

Via ::Econbrowser: China's air pollution (blog)

Bloomberg on ethanol, "People literally will starve to death..."

Bloomberg Slams US Energy Law Over Corn Ethanol

UNITED NATIONS - A new US energy law will cause an increase in global food prices and lead to starvation deaths worldwide because it continues to promote corn ethanol, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday.

"People literally will starve to death in parts of the world, it always happens when food prices go up," Bloomberg told reporters after addressing a UN General Assembly debate on climate change.
The new law favored corn ethanol by continuing to subsidize it while taxing sugar ethanol, Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg joined other critics of corn ethanol production in saying it was not a net producer of energy, unlike sugar ethanol. That is, corn ethanol does not yield more energy than it takes to produce, transport and use it.
Cuban leader Fidel Castro blasted the Bush administration's biofuels policy as "genocidal" in a series of articles last year, saying they threatened to worsen global hunger by pushing up prices for food crops used to make ethanol.

Feb 11, 2008

OSHA failed to adopt dust rules in 2006.

Top federal safety officials urged the Labor Department in 2006 to adopt critical regulations to prevent deadly dust explosions "like the one suspected in the deadly blast in a Georgia sugar plant Thursday" but the government has failed to do so.

"This is an extremely dangerous component that is not regulated," former safety board chairwoman Carolyn Merritt told The Associated Press Friday. Dust explosion situations "are so dangerous that people have got to pay attention to this. There should be an outcry."

Minuscule dust particles "the smaller the more explosive" often form clouds in enclosed places like manufacturing plants or sugar mills. These clouds are the perfect fuel for a fire that can be set off by any spark or form of ignition. The first explosion kicks up more dust and even more and bigger explosions follow in rapid succession, said C. James Dahn, president of Safety Consulting Engineers of Schaumburg, Ill., and an expert on the topic.

"The biggest problems we have in plants is that people are not aware of the amount of dust that's in their plant," Dahn said. "I've walked into plants where dust is nearly half a foot deep and people are saying, 'It's just dust, we don't worry about it.' They did when it blew the plant apart. Dust can be an explosive hazard."


Sugar Explosion at the "Weekly Toll"

People Were In There (Thanks Tammy)

Yes people were in there and some actually came out. The New York Times took an aerial view of the Imperial Sugar plant in Port Wentworth, Ga.

"I saw people come running out burnt, screaming, hollering, their skin hanging off them," said Jason Perry, who hurried to the plant after the blast to search for an uncle who was working that night. "One lady hit the ground, and then the medical was on her so fast you couldn't see what was going on."

Gruesome details emerge not even 48hours later, a scene many will not soon forget.

At 10:46 PM last night I received the New Your Times article and I tried like hell to write about this once again, to give everyone a back ground of all the time and effort spent (the Times article say it all) by some to keep this from once again happening but somehow I just couldn't find the strength to do so this time.

I had written an article, One Death, Many Losses, and I know there are flaws in it but to be honest I haven't been able to rework it and I am not sure I ever will but it gives a brief over view of what one family experiences during this time. We are helpless while these events are happening but we are not now, we can do something to keep this from happing to another family. We don't have to be perfect or hard as nails; we just need to gather strength were we can, stand up and fight back and if we can't let someone else take over for a while.

Workers Comp for Waitress and Bartenders?

Death Of Waitress Linked To Environmental Tobacco Smoke, Case Study Shows A young asthmatic woman who collapsed and died shortly after arriving for her shift as a waitress at a bar may be the first reported death to be reported nationally from acute asthma associated with environmental tobacco smoke. The report states the woman arrived at the bar in Michigan and, according to co-workers, seemed happy and healthy. About 15 or 20 minutes later she collapsed and within a few minutes died.

Read full at:

More "stupid stick" from sciencedaily
Tobacco Could Kill One Billion By 2100, WHO Report Warns

WHO has released new data showing that while progress has been made, not a single country fully implements all key tobacco control measures, and outlined an approach that governments can adopt to prevent tens of millions of premature deaths by the middle of this century.

Director of NIH environmental institute resigns under fire


Choice Earth or Suburbia (From NYT Blog)

The NYTimes examines the environmental costs of suburban life, which evolved around the highway system, cheap oil, and the automobile and now typically consumes several times more energy per person (and thus fossil fuels) than urban living. There’s all that driving. There are the chugging mowers and fertilizers and pesticides used to keep all those lawns lovely. Lighting, heating and cooling those ballooning homes consumes vast amounts of energy compared to a city apartment — or a house half a century ago.

The End of Suburbia,” an award-winning 2006 documentary, provides a fascinating overview of how the sprawled lifestyle evolved, the hidden — and not so hidden — costs, and what lies ahead.

The Sustainable Home Blog recently described just how much the American home has changed:

In 1946, when the American post war housing boom started, the average house was 1,100 square feet and housed 5 people. Fifty years latter, in 1996 the average house would grow to 2,200 square feet and house 2.6 people and by 2007, fueled by easy credit, the average American home would would become the equivalent of a Hummer, “weighing in” at super-sized 2,400 square feet.

Read More By Andrew C. Revkin Here

EPA Must Rewrite Utility Mercury Rule

 WASHINGTON federal court ruled Friday that the Environmental Protection Agency must fundamentally rework its mercury rules for utilities.

The US Court ruled that the EPA violated the Clean Air Act in 2005 when it exempted coal plants from the strictest emission controls for mercury and other toxic substances like arsenic, lead and nickel.

The EPA's "Clean Air Mercury Rule" would have created a "cap-and-trade" program to allow utilities to swap rights to emit mercury to comply with overall limits that would reduce nationwide emissions by 70 percent by 2018.
It could be years before the EPA can enact new rules on mercury. In the meantime, regulating mercury emissions will likely be left to states, which in many cases have set their own strict limits on utilities.
The nation's 1,100 coal-burning units emit about 48 tons of mercury each year, the largest unregulated US source. The EPA rule vacated by the court would have set the cap at 38 tons per year by 2010 and 15 tons per year in 2018.
Mercury contaminates water and fish and has been linked to neurological disorders in young children.
"The EPA recklessly ignored the law and the science," said Vickie Patton, an attorney for Environmental Defense. "Now, each coal plant in America must clean up its own toxic mercury pollution."
Environmental groups applauded the ruling.

Feb 9, 2008

Great Lakes health report withheld by agency

Federal officials are refusing to release a scientific study that contains "alarming evidence" that toxic pollutants threaten the health of residents in Detroit and other Great Lakes cities, a watchdog group alleged Thursday.

Feb 8, 2008

Goole vs. Gore is Tax versus investment...

...a little bit of money, helping winners get funding. "In Silicon Valley, they do that for breakfast." To do that in Ghana, he says, would establish a community to keep this going.
Asked from the floor, by Time's Michael Elliott, about the theme of the day — environment versus poverty, emphasis on versus — Page says that he gets irritated when people do not realize that the way out of these problems is technology.
I think he's right: the discussion is too much about what we should not do rather than what we can do.
"You can't succeed just out of conservation because then you won't have economic development," Brilliant explains. "Find a way to make electricity — not to cut back on it but to have more of it than you ever dreamed of."
The other unspoken divide is about economics: Gore and Friedman favor raising the cost of carbon. Page and Brin see a victory in reducing the price of the clean energy. Tax versus investment.

Peak-Oilers Put Money Where Mouths Are

The peak-oil debate no longer is a matter just of the planet's future. Now it's the subject of a one-sided $100,000 bet.

cowboy_art_200_20080207075012.jpgReveling in the role of the fly tweaking the elephant, a group of peak-oil proponents has challenged prominent oil-industry consultancy Cambridge Energy Research Associates to a not-so-friendly wager.

If CERA proves correct in its prediction that global oil production will rise by 20 million barrels per day by 2017, then the challengers, the Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas, will hand CERA a check for $100,000 nine years hence. If oil production falls short of CERA's projection, as the group known as ASPO projects, ASPO will get the bragging rights and the check and donate the money to charity.

CERA, the Boston-based company headed by prominent consultant Daniel Yergin, forecasts that global oil-production capacity could rise to 112 million barrels per day in 2017. Today, according to CERA, capacity is about 91 million barrels.

That's a vision in search of reality, Steve Andrews, co-founder of ASPO's U.S. branch, said in a statement it sent out yesterday. Who knows whether ASPO's finances will peak before then. But along with its press release, ASPO sent a copy of what it said is a bank letter of credit guaranteeing its $100,000 bet.

By Jeffrey Ball on Global - WSj (Read full linked here)

Dahh...Daily Exercise Dramatically Lowers Men's Death Rates

How many more Billions do we need to spend on useless studies of predictable outcomes when we have soooo many unknowns with our current health issues?
It appears this study was conducted simply to make people who exercise "feel better about it" to put in health magazines they buy... otherwise useless.
Next time they need to check the local library for this kind of "radical content" ;-)

Gas $2.50 by spring?

By Lascelles Linton autobloggreen.com
Ah. Spring. Astronomically, it ... wait a minute. Spring, EIA forecast ...? I just wrote about this Jan. 9. As you can see here, the EIA predicted $3.50 for a gallon of gas by June, the end of Spring. Are they changing their forecasts already? YES! According to Reuters demand for gas has dropped a lot (2.4 percent last week) and EIA analyst Doug MacIntyre "said he 'certainly' expects that his agency next month will publish lower spring gasoline price forecasts." So it worked? Did higher gas prices actually change behavior, cause demand to go down and the sink the price of gas with it?

So, what does all this mean? New forecasts, oil below $90, BP's lower profits? I will tell you exactly what it means: The U.S. government is really bad at predicting the future. A possible $1 swing for a forecast, a month after making it, for something just a few months away? Come on, EIA, you can do better than that. What will the price of oil and gas be? I don't know and I don't think anyone knows.

[Source: Reuters, CNN, Telegraph, NewsHour]

Lakes cleanup would give $50B lift to economy

Read the full story in the Ann Arbor Business Review.

Cleaning up the Great Lakes wouldn't just help the environment. It would also be good for the economy.

Restoring the Great Lakes - controlling invasive species, addressing sewage contamination, cleaning up toxic waste and restoring shoreline - would create $50 billion in economic benefit from a $26 billion cleanup investment.

That's according to a recent report commissioned by a coalition of business and environmental organizations and conducted by the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program.   VIA  Laura B. lib.wmrc.uiuc.edu

New law would ban water removal on environmental grounds

Globe and Mail: The issue of how well protected Canada's water is from bulk exports has always been hotly contested. The federal government has insisted in recent years that foreigners won't be able to get their hands on a resource some have called "blue gold," while environmentalists have been just as adamant that large-scale diversions pose an ever-present threat. The uncertainty over whether Canada's water is at risk could be ended by tough new federal legislation prohibiting on ... Link from ecologicalinternet.org

Feb 7, 2008

Be Ready for PPE Regulation Change, Effective Feb. 13

Personal Protective EquipmentOSHA has issued its final rule on employer payment for personal protective equipment (PPE). Under the new rule, all required PPE, with a few exceptions, must be provided at no cost to the employee.

The new rule goes into effect on Feb. 13, 2008, and employers must implement its provisions by May 15, 2008.

Examples under the new rule
Employers do NOT have to pay for:

  • Non-specialty safety-toe protective footwear (e.g., steel-toe shoes/ boots)
  • Non-specialty prescription safety eyewear / Sunglasses/sunscreen
  • Sturdy work shoes / Lineman's boots /Logging boots required under Sec. 1910.266(d)(1)(v)
  • Ordinary cold weather gear (coats, parkas, cold weather gloves, winter boots)
  • Back belts
  • Long sleeve shirts / pants
  • Dust mask/respirators used under the voluntary use provisions in Sec.1910.134.
  • More at  J. J. Keller

Employers DO have to pay for:

  • Foot protection
  • Non-prescription eye protection
  • Prescription eyewear inserts
  • Goggles / Face shields
  • Fire fighting PPE (helmet, gloves, boots, proximity suits, full gear)
  • Hard hats / Hearing protection / Welding PPE
  • Items used in medical/laboratory settings to protect from exposure to infectious agents
  • Rubber sleeves / Aluminized gloves
  • Chemical resistant gloves/aprons/clothing / Barrier creams
  • More at  J. J. Keller

oowch...Great Lakes programs, a reduction of $56 million,

From David Dempsey that was then, this is now...


The Bush Administration's proposed fiscal year 2009 budget calls for $295 million for Great Lakes programs, a reduction of $56 million, or 16%, from current enacted levels.




By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and to help establish a regional collaboration of national significance for the Great Lakes, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Policy.  The Great Lakes are a national treasure constituting the largest freshwater system in the world.