With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 10/14/2010, 1:00pm PT  


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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Obama lifts the ban on offshore oil drilling, even as oil continues to wash up on beach in the Gulf; Google goes offshore too - with wind; A new solar project on public lands in Nevada; Seattle says goodbye to the big yellow phone book ... PLUS: Good news for a change: all 33 Chilean Miners are rescued ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): T. Boone Pickens' wife may save U.S. wild horses; EPA to increase ethanol requirements for gasoline; Australia joins other countries in banning pesticide endosulfan; Photo shows apparent leak before Hungary spill; Big Oil spending big bucks on university research programs; UN urges African leaders to tackle climate change; UN also urges rich nations to make largest emissions cuts; Climate change denial industry pounces on physcist's resignation; Study: world's two largest ice sheets melting faster than predicted ...PLUS: Canada declares plastics chemical BPA to Be Toxic ...

STORIES DISCUSSED IN TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...

  • Good News for a Change: World Rejoices as Chilean Miners Rescued
  • Offshore Drilling Moratorium Lifted
    • Obama Admin. Drops Drilling Moratorium (Kate Sheppard, Mother Jones):
      The two pointed to reforms at the agency that they believe have improved oversight and to new requirements that have been put in place for companies that want to drill. But as many are pointing out, it seems a bit premature given the fact that the agency still lacks adequate resources for inspections—Bromwich said they are hiring and relocating inspectors and "will do the best we can with the resources at our disposal"—and that the exact cause of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig has yet to be determined.

      Environmental groups were, as you might expect, nonplussed.

      "To ensure a disaster like this never happens again, we must know what caused it in the first place," said Peter Lehner, executive director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "We're still waiting for that answer and until we get it, the moratorium should remain in place."

    • Six-month ban on offshore drilling lifted: The Obama administration, under heavy pressure from the oil industry and others in the Gulf Coast, on Tuesday lifted the moratorium on deep water drilling that it imposed in the wake of the disastrous BP oil spill. (AP)
    • Drilling Moratorium Should Stay Until Panels Issue Their Safety Recommendations (NRDC via Huffington Post Green)
    • Oil Drilling and the Senate Clinch Hold (NYT Green) [emphasis added]:
      The move did not mollify Senator Mary Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, who has been harshly critical of the moratorium and expressed her displeasure in September by indefinitely blocking the appointment of Jack Lew, President Obama’s nominee for director of the Office of Management and Budget.

      “I am not going to release my hold on Jack Lew,” Ms. Landrieu said in a statement.

      She said she would continue the hold for at least several more weeks as she evaluated the performance of federal energy regulators in speeding up permitting for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

    • Obama and oil drilling: How politics spilled into policy (Washington Post)
    • Meanwhile: The BP Oil Disaster in the Gulf Continues: BP Cans Cleanup Workers As More Oil Washes Up (Mac McClelland, Mother Jones)
  • Google Goes Offshore, Too --- In Wind:
    • The wind cries transmission (Google's Blog):
      We just signed an agreement to invest in the development of a backbone transmission project off the Mid-Atlantic coast that offers a solid financial return while helping to accelerate offshore wind development—so it’s both good business and good for the environment. The new project can enable the creation of thousands of jobs, improve consumer access to clean energy sources and increase the reliability of the Mid-Atlantic region's existing power grid.

      When built out, the Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) backbone will stretch 350 miles off the coast from New Jersey to Virginia and will be able to connect 6,000MW of offshore wind turbines. That’s equivalent to 60% of the wind energy that was installed in the entire country last year and enough to serve approximately 1.9 million households.

    • US backs Oregon wind farm, while Google sets course for wind corridor: Google has reputedly taken a 37.5% stake in the $5 billion project to develop the Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) – a 35 mile corridor of wind turbines 10-15 miles off the US Atlantic coast from New Jersey to Virginia. (Energy Efficiency News)
    • Google’s Wind Project Got Lift From Vail Ski Trip (Wall St. Journal):
      John Breckenridge, managing director of Good Energies, said the firm’s involvement was sparked by a fortuitous ski trip last March. Breckenridge happened to be sharing a ski lift in Vail, Colo., with Bob Mitchell, CEO of energy-transmission concern Trans-Elect, which had on the drawing board the wind-energy project. Mitchell was looking for new investors and found a willing partner at his elbow, Breckenridge recalled.

      “That was a very profitable lift ride for both of us,” said Breckenridge, whose firm specializes in renewable energy.

    • Google green energy czar: It's a bit bleak (Reuters)
    • DOE Study: Offshore wind could generate all U.S. electricity (USA Today):
      U.S. offshore winds, abundant off the coasts of 26 states, have the potential to generate four times as much power as the nation's present electric capacity, a new Department of Energy report says.

      Developing this resource would help the United States reduce air pollution, achieve 20% of its electricity (or about 54 gigawatts) from wind by 2030 and create more than 43,000 permanent, well-paid technical jobs, according to the 240-page study by DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

      The United Kingdom leads worldwide in the amount of power it has generated from offshore wind projects from 1991 to 2010, followed by Denmark.

  • Obama administration Approves New Solar Project for Nevada's Public Lands:
    • Utility-Scale Production Leads U.S. Solar Boom (Solve Cliamte)
    • Solar Projects on Public Lands Highlighted at Solar Power International 2010 (Environmental News Service)
    • Salazar Lauds Innovation, Job-Creation on the New Energy Frontier at Solar Power Conference (Dept. of Interior) [emphasis added]:
      [L]ook at the large-scale solar projects we at the Department of the Interior have approved for construction in the past two weeks alone. They are the firsts of their kind on public lands and some will be among the largest solar projects in the world.

      In Imperial County, California, we've approved Tessera Solar's 709-megawatt Imperial Valley solar project.

      Imperial Valley will create more than 900 jobs, and it will be the first to make use of SunCatcher technology on public lands.

      In San Bernardino County, we've approved Chevron Energy's 45-megawatt Lucerne Valley solar project. It is the first large-scale solar project to use photovoltaic panels on public lands.

      Also in California – not far from Las Vegas – we have approved the 370-megawatt Ivanpah solar project by BrightSource Energy. Ivanpah, which will create more than 1,000 jobs during peak construction and another 100 in operations and maintenance, will be the first solar project on public lands to use "power tower" technology.

      And today, at the end of my remarks, I will sign off on the first large-scale solar project ever to be approved for construction on public lands in Nevada. That project is the Silver State Solar Project by First Solar. It will supply more than 15,000 homes in Clark County, Nevada, with renewable power.

      Combined, the four projects add up to nearly 1200 megawatts of power. That's 1200 more megawatts than have ever been built on public lands before.

      And we're not done yet. Our work has just begun. These projects are milestones in our energy future.

  • Seattle Says Goodbye to the Big Yellow Phonebook:
    • Phone Book Litter Banned in Seattle, Nation's First Opt-Out City (Treehugger) [emphasis added]:
      An estimated 2 million directories are distributed per year in Seattle. That's a really tall pile. The Seattle law, a first in the U.S., requires directory pushers, er, publishers to pay the city $148 per ton of books delivered. Seattle officials say phone books make up about 2.7 percent of all materials recycled at the curb each year. Council member Mike O'Brien, who proposed the law, says unwanted yellow pages cost Seattle $350,000 a year in recycling costs.

      The opt-out system is to be funded by directory publishers, too, and should be live by July 2011. Make that "may be live." Yellow page publishers have threatened to sue, complaining that the law doesn't apply to other forms of media. The Yellow Pages Association is launching a national opt-out website in 2011, which it says is better than a city-run site.

    • Seattle City Council votes to allow opt-out on yellow pages (MSNBC.com)

'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...

  • Has Madeleine Pickens Found A Way To Save Wild Horses? (Care2) [emphasis added]:
    The animal activist and wife of Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens bought a 14,000-acre ranch near Elko, Nevada that will allow her to return all of the 34,000 wild mustangs that were rounded up by BLM and are now housed in government holding facilities.

    She plans to call the sanctuary – Mustang Monument Preserve.

    If the Bureau of Land Management agrees to the arrangement, it will be the first time the government has released such a large number of mustangs to one sanctuary.

  • The EPA Will Put More Ethanol in Your Tank—But It's Going to Cost You (TIME) [emphasis added]:
    It's not every day that a decision by the federal government can bring together environmental groups, cattle ranchers, the automobile industry and gas station owners, all in anger—but that's biofuel for you.

    Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it was increasing the allowable percentage of corn-based ethanol that could be legally blended into gasoline, raising the limit from 10% to 15%, for cars and light-duty trucks manufactured after 2007. Though auto manufacturers have repeatedly expressed concerns that a higher percentage blend of ethanol might damage engines — ethanol can dislodge debris inside an engine, essentially gumming up the works — the EPA says its tests indicate that's not a problem for newer cars and trucks, and that increasing the allowable blend was in line with the Administration's clean energy policies.

  • Australia joins other countries in banning the pesticide endosulfan (Sydney Morning Herald):
    A federal government agency has banned pesticides that use the toxic chemical endosulfan, reversing earlier rulings that said it was safe if used correctly.

    The endosulfan ban is expected to affect a wide range of industries that still use the pesticides, including many tropical fruit and vegetable growers, nut farmers and cotton farmers.

    ''Substantial evidence demonstrates that endosulfan is highly toxic for most animal groups, showing both acute and chronic effects at relatively low exposure levels,'' said a report prepared for the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, the federal agency responsible for the new ruling.

  • Photo shows apparent leak before Hungary spill (AP):
    An aerial photo taken months before a gigantic reservoir unleashed torrents of toxic sludge shows a faint red trail trickling through the container wall — part of a growing body of evidence that inspectors who gave the pit a clean bill of health may have missed warning signs.
    ...
    Interspect director Gabor Bako said he shot the photo June 11, nearly 4 months before the spill. He said the company shared the photo with universities and environmental groups "but no further steps were taken in the matter" until the wall collapsed freeing the caustic muck that flooded three west Hungarian villages about 170 kilometers (just over 100 miles) from Budapest before being carried by local waterways into the Danube River.
  • Big Oil Goes to College: An Analysis of 10 Research Collaboration Contracts Between Leading Energy Companies and Major U.S. Universities (Center for American Progress):
    Why are highly profitable oil and other large corporations increasingly turning to U.S. universities to perform their commercial research and development instead of conducting this work in-house? Why, in turn, are U.S. universities opening their doors to Big Oil? And when they do, how well are U.S. universities balancing the needs of their commercial sponsors with their own academic missions and public-interest obligations, given their heavy reliance on government research funding and other forms of taxpayer support?
  • African Leaders Urged to Tackle Climate Change: African leaders came under pressure on Wednesday to take concrete actions against global warming at the African Development Forum in the Ethiopian capital, organisers said. (AFP)
  • Rich Must Make Clearer Climate Cuts: UN: Rich nations must spell out their plans for cutting carbon more clearly to enable UN talks in Mexico to agree the cornerstone of a pact to slow warming, the U.N.'s climate chief said. (Reuters)
  • Hal Lewis resigns from The American Physical Society: An unimportant moment in science history, but perhaps a lesson in "normal science" that will shut down Cuccinelli's witch hunt (Climate Progress):
    A physicist named Hal Lewis who doesn’t know the first thing about climate science has resigned from the American Physical Society because he doesn’t know the first thing about climate science.

    The anti-science crowd has, with unintentional irony, compared his words of resignation to “a letter on the scale of Martin Luther, nailing his 95 theses to the Wittenburg church door.” That laughable assertion might be a half-truth, I suppose, if scientific views were no different from religious ones, which, I suppose, for the disinformers they are. And it might even be a quarter truth if Luther hadn’t actually included any theses in his letter but instead cited, say, the work of Nostradamus in defending his critique of the Catholic Church. But it isn’t even be a semi-hemi-demi truth because it won’t be leading to a major new science religion of Lewisism, since, of course, that’s not how science works.

    As we’ll see, Lewis couldn’t even bother himself to learn the basics of climate science and he apparently doesn’t know or talk to very many if any climate scientists.

  • On Thin Ice: World's Two Great Ice Sheets Melting Faster Than Anyone Believed Possible (Rolling Stone):
    Until a few years ago, scientists like Hamilton thought of the ice sheets as changing only imperceptibly, on the time scale of centuries. But as the planet has warmed, they have come to see the ice as far more volatile and nimble. The ice sheets no longer seem static; they are mysterious, complicated dams that help hold back entire continents, keeping coastal cities free from flood. If you understand the ice sheets, and how they might melt, you can understand the future of the oceans — how much they might swell, and on what schedule. And if you understand the oceans, you might be able to get a more accurate fix on the future of the world's coasts, and of the civilizations they hold.
  • Canada Declares BPA, a Chemical in Plastics, to Be Toxic (NY Times):
    The government of Canada formally declared bisphenol A, a chemical widely used to create clear, hard plastics, as well as food can liners, to be a toxic substance on Wednesday.

    The compound, commonly known as BPA, has been shown to disrupt the hormone systems of animals and is under review in the United States and Europe.

    Canada’s move, which was strenuously fought by the chemical industry, followed an announcement by the government two years ago that it would eliminate the compound’s use in polycarbonate bottles used by infants and children.