Archive for August, 2010

Engineers this week will try to remove the failed blowout preventer from the BP well, with the goal of determining what caused the explosion (MSNBC). Meanwhile, behind the scenes, things were more acrimonious than previously disclosed (NY Times).

The panel investigating the explosion isn’t getting many good answers thus far (LA Times), and finding a smoking gun has proven difficult (NY Times).

In the wake of the salmonella outbreak, the FDA plans to inspect large egg farms, some of which haven’t been inspected in decades (LA Times).

The Obama administration sides with utilities in a Supreme Court case, angering environmentalists (Washington Post).

A map to zone the waters off of Rhode Island has so far been a letdown (Providence Journal).

Construction of a highway through a Russian forest is halted for now (LA Times).

A firm that makes blades for wind turbines plans to open a plant in Fall River (Boston Globe).

New federal regulations will prevent ships from discharging sewage within three miles of the California coast (LA Times).

Lightning as an energy source?  One researcher says yes (BBC).

Is whaling meat contaminated?  Activists want the World Health Organization to look into it (BBC).

The New Zealand Christmas tree wreaks havoc on San Francisco (NY Times).

Arlington, Texas, has the best tap water in the U.S.; the worst water is in Jacksonville, Fla.

What’s one of the biggest obstacles to wind energy? This New York Times article says it’s the military.

The Washington Post has a lengthy article about the ties between industry and the Minerals Management Service. It also reports that Obama’s plan for expanded drilling included little if any input from two top environmental advisers.

Here’s a look at some New York restaurants going green (NY Times).

In all my years of reading the black-and-white Dilbert comic strip, who knew the man behind all the workplace blues was really green?

An article in the Wall Street Journal this week details how Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert strip, tried to build a totally green house.  His harrowing process of trying to “save the earth” with his house was witty and informative and caught my eye.

He shares some stark truths on his journey:

The greenest home is the one you don’t build. If you really want to save the Earth, move in with another family and share a house that’s already built. Better yet, live in the forest and eat whatever the squirrels don’t want. Don’t brag to me about riding your bicycle to work; a lot of energy went into building that bicycle. Stop being a hypocrite like me.

Between trying for a white roof, no windows and no lawn, a totally white pebble lawn, the house would be quite ugly as well. But Adams sums up the real kicker in environmentally friendly houses.

Heating and cooling are the biggest energy thieves. And roofs and windows matter the most for heat transfer. Focus your research and budget there. … If you’re thinking of buying a home that has lots of windows on the wrong side for your climate, you should pass. Few things make a home less liveable, and more of an energy hog, than improper orientation to the sun.

There is a ton of actual useful information in the article as well. So set your eyes on it if you’re buying or building a house.

This MSNBC article looks at the government-BP relationship (also see this from the Washington Post). Meanwhile, the mediator of the $20 billion compensation fund prepares to start work (LA Times, also see this from the NY Times).

China becomes the latest place to be hit by severe flooding (NY Times).

A new study measures the amount of plastic debris in the Atlantic Ocean (BBC).

Massachusetts orders NStar to rebid 3 wind farm contracts (Boston Globe). The AG’s office also released a report detailing the cost of Cape Wind power (Boston Globe). Meanwhile, pollution plagues Cape Cod waters (NY Times).

Technology has made people underestimate the risks in national parks (NY Times).

Minnesota’s BPA ban is now in effect; it’s the 1st state to ban the chemical in baby items.

A few links as we head into the weekend.

A paper to be published in Science says a large plume of oil still exists in the Gulf of Mexico (NY Times, also see this from BBC). BP now plans to wait til after Labor Day to seal the well (NY Times).

The floods and Pakistan and fires in Russia are deserving of the world’s environmental attention, but the globe would be wise not to turn away from the BP oil spill. There’s been a slew of news rushing in on BP despite the fact that the oil well has been capped.

Last weekend Barack Obama’s trip showed the beaches in Florida are safe and open for tourism, but it also highlighted the huge drop in tourism to the region.

The resort towns of the Florida panhandle are on the eastern edge of the oil spill but the beaches were still hit by tar balls and an oily sheen. A study by Oxford Economics for the US Travel Association estimated the spill could cost coastal towns in the four Gulf states nearly $23 billion dollars in lost tourism arrivals over the next three years.

Shrimping season began in the region recently and while shrimping boats are at least all back to work, it’s not all plentiful and safe hauls. An interview with one of the heads of the shrimpers associations showed that.

ACY COOPER: It was poor. We don’t know what happened, the shrimp wasn’t as plentiful as we thought there was. We had more fish than we had shrimp, so it wasn’t what we anticipated. … Well, let me go to last Friday and the day they let me go, found oil on the bottom in the same areas that I was working at – which I worked at too much and never even seen this oil. So we have a lot of areas like that. When they sunk this oil, the Coast Guard kept saying it’s a tradeoff. And, like, we screamed and hollered from the beginning that the only tradeoff it is is to lose our industry. So we got to be very careful when you’re talking about all gone. It’s not gone, they just sunk it.

And speaking of declaring success before it should’ve been, scientists are wary of reports that the BP oil spill is under control – and the govt’s top commander still says the cap is a work in progress.

Their report claims that most of the oil that leaked into the Gulf is still present. They concede that much of it is dissolved or in the form of dispersed micro-droplets, but caution that oil in that state isn’t harmless. According to the Georgia report, between 70 percent and 79 percent of the oil remains in the ecosystem.

The smog persists in Moscow, but it appears that the fears of radioactivity were overblown (MSNBC). The smog, along with other extreme weather, fits with climate change-related predictions say some scientists (MSNBC, also see this from the BBC and this from the NY Times).

And on that subject, 2010 has thus far been the warmest year on record (Washington Post).

The deepwater drilling ban may be lifted early (MSNBC).

The devastating floods continue in Pakistan. This article looks at the causes (BBC).

In West Virgina, some hope that a wind farm can save a mountain from mountaintop mining (NY Times).

The world’s largest tidal turbine is unveiled (BBC). Back in the U.S., much of the energy-related stimulus money has yet to be spent (Washington Post).

Still living in an apartment? Here are some ways to be an eco-friendly renter (LA Times). And here’s how peak energy demand periods have been controlled (NY Times).

Weak batteries are hurting the Honda Civic’s fuel efficiency (LA Times).

Many manufacturers will recycle old electronics for you, so don’t trash your old gadgets.