Archive for July, 2011

An appropriations bill is poised to take environmental protection for a ride (NY Times). Meanwhile, U.S. airlines want immunity from EU carbon fees, and the Obama administration supports their position (NY Times).

The administration and automakers may soon have a deal on fuel efficiency standards (LA Times).

The Utah man who crashed a 2008 oil lease auction gets two years in prison (LA Times).

Yellowstone may be at risk from increased climate change-induced fires (US News).

The brutal heat persists (LA Times).

A UN official says climate change threatens peace (BBC).

As wind farms grow, so do conflicts with residents (LA Times).

New York City co-ops look to go green (NY Times).

Massachusetts’ alternative energy sector could be harmed by subsidy reductions (Boston Globe). Meanwhile, the state’s adding 142 vehicle charge sites (Boston Globe).

The feds approve Rhode Island’s ocean zoning plan (Providence Journal).

The feds introduce new power line rules (NY Times).

More than 56 percent of paper consumed in the U.S. during 2007 was recycled.

Michael Bloomberg donates $50 million to the Sierra Club’s anti-coal campaign (NY Times).

California runs out of rebates for electric vehicles (LA Times).

This BBC column talks about the fractured nature of the UN climate change discussions.

National Grid encourages refrigerator and freezer recycling (Providence Journal).

Hope everyone stays cool today.

This year has ushered in a new era of how to measure popularity. It used to be ratings on TV, but now it’s Twitter mentions and Google hits.

In light of how the U.S. Women’s World Cup garnered 6,000+ mentions on Twitter per second – a number that far surpassed the number for Osama bin Laden the day the terrorist died – it’s interesting to see how some environmental terms are doing on the Web.

On Twitter, #globalwarming had 4 mentions in an hour and #climatechange had 5 mentions in an hour. All this as oppressive heat waves were blanketing the country this week. On Google, “climate change” had 109 million hits (15,900 on Google News) while “global warming” had 149 million hits (5,900 on Google News).

It’s unfortunate that as we see crippling heat – on the heels of disastrous storms this past spring and winter – that people plugged in on Twitter can’t realize that climate change is partially to blame for their discomfort.

Hungry for coal, China turns to Mongolia (Washington Post).

BP says strong Gulf tourism should mean lower spill-related payments (NY Times).

Want to work in alternative energy? Boston’s a good place to look (Boston Globe). Meanwhile, Providence is looking for a sustainability director (Providence Journal).

Congressional Republicans aren’t giving up on the incandescent issue (LA Times).

Ethanol boosters look to NASCAR for support (Boston Globe).

L.A. closed part of the 405 for a weekend and lived to tell about it (LA Times).

Approximately 360 pounds of paper were recycled last year for every U.S. resident.

A big utility scraps plans to capture carbon dioxide from a coal-burning plant, pointing the finger at the lack of a climate bill (NY Times).

A June oil spill off the Chinese coast was only recently disclosed (LA Times).

An herbicide is suspected of killing thousands of trees (NY Times).

An oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf seems like it’ll get the green light (LA Times).

The push to save incandescents has come up short for now (LA Times).

The push to abolish energy-efficiency standards for light bulbs was defeated this week and I guess we have common sense to thank for that. It’s hard to get too excited, however, when it’s a shock that common sense prevails in a fight that was already won 5 years ago.

Refighting old battles is all the climate change movement has been reduced to for the past couple of years and having to stand up for the light-bulb law was the ultimate insult to reason.

Let’s go to the facts to see just how wrong this argument was:

- The law requires all bulbs to be 25 to 30% more efficient starting next year. By 2020, bulbs will have to be 60% more efficient.

- No parts of the law single out incandescent bulbs – which some believe gives off a better light and are cheaper to buy. The law simply says that incandescent bulbs need to meet these standards. They currently don’t, although some scientists are working hard to get them to – and that’s exactly what the law should accomplish.

- The law does not force people to remove incandescent bulbs from their outlets at home or to empty their closets of them. It simply will not allow stores to continue selling inefficent light bulbs.

- The law was signed by President Bush – a Republican.

Despite all these facts, the movement was spearheaded by one presidential contender and gained steam. The rallying cry was repeated by many members of Congress:

“The 2010 elections demonstrated that Americans are fed up with government intrusion,” Representative Joe Barton, a Texas Republican who proposed the repeal, said in a debate on Monday. “The federal government has crept so deep into our lives that federal agencies now determine what kind of light bulbs the American people are allowed to purchase.”

Barton fails to realize the country has many restrictions on what can be sold to consumers and they’re all beneficial. Cars need to meet energy-efficiency standards. Meat needs to comply with USDA standards and drugs with FDA standards. China is not allowed to sell toys with lead paint in them. And on, and on, and on …

Those who say inefficient bulbs should be sold because they’re cheaper, should also be in favor of letting consumers buy spoiled meat, broken cars and toxic toys – products that would be considerably cheaper than fresh meat, working cars and safe toys. Too unsafe, right? It might mess with your health? Well, inefficient bulbs are not only posing a health risk as greenhouse gases are emitted from them, but they’re also hurting your wallet since they use more energy to run.

It remains to be seen whether an amendment repealing the new standards could be attached to a deal on the debt ceiling, but for now the Americans should be happy that common sense prevailed. I guess that’s all we have these days.

Rhode Island’s Supreme Court upholds National Grid’s contract with Deepwater (Providence Journal).

Australia plans a carbon tax (BBC).

Investment in renewable energy set a record in 2010 (BBC).

When it comes to getting rid of incandescent bulbs, don’t mess with Texas (LA Times).

Montana’s not happy with ExxonMobil’s handling of the recent oil spill (MSNBC).

An old house gets some modern energy-saving upgrades (Boston Globe). Speaking of houses, the Globe also has this article about a microarchitecture proponent (Boston Globe).