NewEnergyNews: 2006: GREEN TOP TEN

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • Weekend Video: The Ocean Speaks Out
  • Weekend Video: Adapting To The Inevitable
  • Weekend Video: The Joy Of Driving EVs Powered By The Sun
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-HOTTEST SEPTEMBER EVER; WORLD’S HOTTEST MONTHS STREAK AT SIX
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-EU WIND BEATS FOSSIL, NUKE ENERGY PRICES
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-DESERTEC SUCCUMBS TO MIDEAST TURMOIL
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-JAPAN UPS PUSH FOR GEOTHERMAL
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    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, Oct. 16:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE MILITARY FALLS FOR THE HOAX
  • TTTA Thursday-FORTUNE 100 BUSINESSES BOOST SUN
  • TTTA Thursday-IOWA UTILITY BUYS WIND TO CUT COSTS
  • TTTA Thursday-GETTING ENERGY EFFICIENCY FROM THE CLOUD
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: NEW ENERGY BECOMES PRICE COMPETITIVE
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 15: NEW NUMBERS SHOW BIG OCEAN WIND POWER; SOLAR TURNS IN A NEW DIRECTION; FUEL CELL MARKETS TO VARY, GROW
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: WORLD WIND COMES ON
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 14: THE UTILITY-SOLAR DEBATE OVER WHO PAYS; TECHNICIANS WANTED – APPLY TO WIND; MAKING MULTIFAMILY BLDGS MORE EFFICIENT
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF CONCENTRATING SOLAR POWER PLANTS
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 13: NUCLEAR FADING, NEW ENERGY COMING ON; THE ONE BIG ADVANTAGE OF SOLAR; HALF OF GLOBAL HEAT MAY BE HIDING IN THE OCEANS
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT)

    November 26, 2013 (Huffington Post via NewEnergyNews)

    Everywhere we turn, environmental news is filled with horrid developments and glimpses of irreversible tipping points.

    Just a handful of examples are breathtaking: Scientists have dared to pinpoint the years at which locations around the world may reach runaway heat, and in the northern hemisphere it's well in sight for our children: 2047. Survivors of Superstorm Sandy are packing up as costs of repair and insurance go out of reach, one threat that climate science has long predicted. Or we could simply talk about the plight of bees and the potential impact on food supplies. Surprising no one who explores the Pacific Ocean, sailor Ivan MacFadyen described long a journey dubbed The Ocean is Broken, in which he saw vast expanses of trash and almost no wildlife save for a whale struggling a with giant tumor on its head, evoking the tons of radioactive water coming daily from Fukushima's lamed nuclear power center. Rampaging fishing methods and ocean acidification are now reported as causing the overpopulation of jellyfish that have jammed the intakes of nuclear plants around the world. Yet the shutting down of nuclear plants is a trifling setback compared with the doom that can result in coming days at Fukushima in the delicate job to extract bent and spent fuel rods from a ruined storage tank, a project dubbed "radioactive pick up sticks."

    With all these horrors to ponder you wouldn't expect to hear that you should also worry about the United States running out of coal. But you would be wrong, says Leslie Glustrom, founder and research director for Clean Energy Action. Her contention is that we've passed the peak in our nation's legendary supply of coal that powers over one-third of our grid capacity. This grim news is faithfully spelled out in three reports, with the complete story told in Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves (pdf). (Disclosure: I serve on CEA's board and have known the author for years.)

    Glustrom's research presents a sea change in how we should understand our energy challenges, or experience grim consequences. It's not only about toxic and heat-trapping emissions anymore; it's also about having enough energy generation to run big cities and regions that now rely on coal. Glustrom worries openly about how commerce will go on in many regions in 2025 if they don't plan their energy futures right.

    2013-11-05-FigureES4_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    Scrutinizing data for prices on delivered coal nationwide, Glustrom's new report establishes that coal's price has risen nearly 8 percent annually for eight years, roughly doubling, due mostly to thinner, deeper coal seams plus costlier diesel transport expenses. Higher coal prices in a time of "cheap" natural gas and affordable renewables means coal companies are lamed by low or no profits, as they hold debt levels that dwarf their market value and carry very high interest rates.

    2013-11-05-Table_ES2_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    2013-11-05-Figure_ES2_FULL.jpg

    One leading coal company, Patriot, filed for bankruptcy last year; many others are also struggling under bankruptcy watch and not eager to upgrade equipment for the tougher mining ahead. Add to this the bizarre event this fall of a coal lease failing to sell in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, the "Fort Knox" of the nation's coal supply, with some pundits agreeing this portends a tightening of the nation's coal supply, not to mention the array of researchers cited in the report. Indeed, at the mid point of 2013, only 488 millions tons of coal were produced in the U.S.; unless a major catch up happens by year-end, 2013 may be as low in production as 1993.

    Coal may exist in large quantities geologically, but economically, it's getting out of reach, as confirmed by US Geological Survey in studies indicating that less than 20 percent of US coal formations are economically recoverable, as explored in the CEA report. To Glustrom, that number plus others translate to 10 to 20 years more of burning coal in the US. It takes capital, accessible coal with good heat content and favorable market conditions to assure that mining companies will stay in business. She has observed a classic disconnect between camps of professionals in which geologists tend to assume money is "infinite" and financial analysts tend to assume that available coal is "infinite." Both biases are faulty and together they court disaster, and "it is only by combining thoughtful estimates of available coal and available money that our country can come to a realistic estimate of the amount of US coal that can be mined at a profit." This brings us back to her main and rather simple point: "If the companies cannot make a profit by mining coal they won't be mining for long."

    No one is more emphatic than Glustrom herself that she cannot predict the future, but she presents trend lines that are robust and confirmed assertively by the editorial board at West Virginia Gazette:

    Although Clean Energy Action is a "green" nonprofit opposed to fossil fuels, this study contains many hard economic facts. As we've said before, West Virginia's leaders should lower their protests about pollution controls, and instead launch intelligent planning for the profound shift that is occurring in the Mountain State's economy.

    The report "Warning, Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" and its companion reports belong in the hands of energy and climate policy makers, investors, bankers, and rate payer watchdog groups, so that states can plan for, rather than react to, a future with sea change risk factors.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    It bears mentioning that even China is enacting a "peak coal" mentality, with Shanghai declaring that it will completely ban coal burning in 2017 with intent to close down hundreds of coal burning boilers and industrial furnaces, or shifting them to clean energy by 2015. And Citi Research, in "The Unimaginable: Peak Coal in China," took a look at all forms of energy production in China and figured that demand for coal will flatten or peak by 2020 and those "coal exporting countries that have been counting on strong future coal demand could be most at risk." Include US coal producers in that group of exporters.

    Our world is undergoing many sorts of change and upheaval. We in the industrialized world have spent about a century dismissing ocean trash, overfishing, pesticides, nuclear hazard, and oil and coal burning with a shrug of, "Hey it's fine, nature can manage it." Now we're surrounded by impacts of industrial-grade consumption, including depletion of critical resources and tipping points of many kinds. It is not enough to think of only ourselves and plan for strictly our own survival or convenience. The threat to animals everywhere, indeed to whole systems of the living, is the grief-filled backdrop of our times. It's "all hands on deck" at this point of human voyaging, and in our nation's capital, we certainly don't have that. Towns, states and regions need to plan fiercely and follow through. And a fine example is Boulder Colorado's recent victory to keep on track for clean energy by separating from its electric utility that makes 59 percent of its power from coal.

    Clean Energy Action is disseminating "Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" for free to all manner of relevant professionals who should be concerned about long range trends which now include the supply risks of coal, and is supporting that outreach through a fundraising campaign.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    Author's note: Want to support my work? Please "fan" me at Huffpost Denver, here (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-butterfield). Thanks.

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    Anne's previous NewEnergyNews columns:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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  • Sunday, December 31, 2006

    2006: GREEN TOP TEN

    The happiest of New Years and warmest gratitude to New Energy News readers who have helped us get this newsblog up and running into 2007!


    We Got Our Kicks In 2006; The Top Ten Green Stories of the Year
    David Roberts, 22 December 2006 (Grist Magazine)

    10. A Stern reminder…In October, venerable economist and senior U.K. government adviser Sir Nicholas Stern released a major report on global warming. Its claims were explosive…he smashed once and for all the myth that our choice is between spending money fighting global warming and saving money doing nothing. It turns out doing nothing will cost far more.

    9. Takings is leaving…When Oregon voters passed Measure 37 in 2004, supporters of sustainable development despaired…Oregonians have a serious case of buyer's remorse, lamenting the erosion of some of the nation's most progressive land-use policies. Voters are wising up to the fact that takings measures tie a community's hands…

    8. Carbon neutrality is the new black…New Oxford American Dictionary chose "carbon neutral" as its word of the year…sudden ubiquity of the idea…the Pearl Jam tour…Al Gore's movie…the private sector surged to meet the demand, with a new carbon offset company springing up every five minutes…Colleges are doing it. Weddings. Vacations. Big companies. Small companies. Movie stars. The Olympics. Your Aunt Mabel. Pretty soon we'll all be carbon neutral…
    http://www.greencoast.org/node/10970

    7. Grist officially out of punny California headlines…California has always kicked the rest of the nation's ass on environmental policy…its groundbreaking clean-car bill, its groundbreaking Million Solar Roofs plan, its groundbreaking greenhouse-gas targets…In 2006…it outdid itself. Assembly Bill 32 authorized the California Air Resources Board to start setting real, actual, tangible, measurable, pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming emissions limits on specific industries…AB32 probably saved Arnold's ass. More Republicans like this, please.

    6. Roadless! No, roadful! No, roadless!…The Roadless Rule was one of President Bill Clinton's last, best, and, ahem, only substantial environmental legacies. It put some 58.5 million acres -- nearly a third of national forest land -- under protection…In 2005, President Bush replaced it…In September 2006, U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Laporte…claimed the administration had not conducted proper environmental studies before yanking it ... almost implying that -- are you sitting down? -- they didn't really care about protecting forests. Dang activist judges.

    5. Hi. My name is the United States of America, and I'm an addict…halfway through his January State of the Union speech…President Bush said…"America is addicted to oil."

    …The oil-reduction goal he offered alongside it was flaccid…He's spent his time since cutting spending on conservation, energy efficiency, and alternative energy, pushing to drill every-damn-where, and hyping biofuels and hydrogen…And he's still BFF with Saudi Arabia…But still. His words almost instantaneously made conventional bipartisan wisdom out of what had long been a predominately progressive critique…Perhaps next year he'll mention peak oil…

    4. God v. Dobson…In February, a group of 86 prominent leaders…signed the Evangelical Climate Initiative, which called on the federal government to take urgent action against the threat of global warming…pitting the old guard, which plans to keep flogging gay marriage until the checks stop coming, against the new guard, which is pushing to broaden the agenda to issues that involve fewer clear villains but actual, widespread suffering: global warming, poverty, and AIDS…The old guard includes such veterans as Chuck Colson and James Dobson…The new guard includes Jim Wallis, Rich Cizik, and kajillion-selling author and mega-church pastor Rick Warren. The old guard is losing members, while the new guard snagged Pat Robertson…

    3. America takes Dick out of resources committee…The 2006 mid-term elections…Enviros lost a few long-time allies on the right side of the aisle…But they lost many more nettlesome pains in the ass…Perhaps the greatest source of green schadenfreude in a decade came with the defeat of Rep. Richard "Dick" Pombo, who used his perch atop the House Resources Committee to wage unremitting war on environmental regulation…Pombo was beaten by Jerry McNerney, a wind-turbine engineer…After six years of bleak news on the environmental front, Democratic committee control in both houses of Congress now opens the way for serious action on global warming and energy security…
    2. Wal-Mart: America's leading source of cognitive dissonance…Wal-Mart's astonishing, almost comically ambitious goal -- to produce zero net waste and run entirely on renewable energy -- was announced late last year…it has been plodding steadily toward its sustainability goals, improving the fuel efficiency of its truck fleet, pressuring suppliers to reduce packaging, and filling its shelves with organic food…Wal-Mart's core business model -- importing cheap plastic widgets from overseas to sell in massive stores plonked down in the middle of Nowhere, Suburbia -- is inherently unsustainable in an energy-constrained future. But its open embrace of sustainability was just the latest in a string of ambitious corporate initiatives from biggies like Dupont and GE…to say nothing of the astonishing infusion of private venture capital in green industries like clean energy…going green is not a drag on the economy. It's the 21st century's biggest moneymaker.

    1. An inconvenient yet bizarrely popular truth…it's difficult to overstate the amount of credit that goes to one man: Al Gore…An Inconvenient Truth…has become the third-highest grossing documentary of all time, with the highest per-screen average of any documentary ever. It looks likely to win an Academy Award…The movie…opened the floodgates. There were news specials, congressional hearings, Jay Leno appearances, Oprah appearances, Daily Show appearances, public debates, and kitchen-table conversations…"skepticism" about climate change retreated…the debate over what to do about it got started…Thanks, Al.

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