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DAVOSMARCH 25, 2019 / 8:04 PM / 2 DAYS AGO Global carbon emissions hit record high in 2018: IEA

Reuters | Posted on March 28, 2019

Global energy-related carbon emissions rose to a record high last year as energy demand and coal use increased. Energy-related CO2 emissions rose by 1.7 percent to 33.1 billion tonnes from the previous year, the highest rate of growth since 2013, with the power sector accounting for almost two-thirds of this growth, according to IEA estimates.The United States’ CO2 emissions grew by 3.1 percent in 2018, reversing a decline a year earlier, while China’s emissions rose by 2.5 percent and India’s by 4.5 percent.Europe’s emissions fell by 1.3 percent and Japan’s fell for the fifth year running.

Washington Democrats chart low-carbon future

Capital Press | Posted on March 28, 2019

Washington state Democrats are fulfilling some of the hefty aspirations of the Green New Deal with their own climate-change package, one that would raise the cost of producing, processing and transporting farm goods while promising the “equitable distribution of benefits.” To do that, the Democrat-dominated Legislature is considering bills to tax carbon, cap greenhouse gases, make all electricity renewable, mandate more biofuels in gasoline and diesel, and govern by “environmental justice.”

An Arizona border sheriff confronts the wall

High Country News | Posted on March 28, 2019

Estrada grew up a few blocks from the border, in a three-room house without indoor plumbing. Rent was $10 per month. At 22, he joined the Nogales Police Department, eventually becoming a captain before running for sheriff in 1992. Estrada, who is serving his seventh term, is currently the longest-serving — and only Hispanic — sheriff in Arizona.Estrada has watched with increasing frustration as Trump continues to ignore the sheriffs along the southern border in his demands for a wall. In a letter released on Jan. 8, all 31 border sheriffs wrote that Trump’s push for a wall was “a sound bite, not a cogent public policy position.”That wall. “That magical panacea — that silver bullet,” said Estrada, chuckling. He recalled how, back in the ’90s, a new kind of latticed steel border wall was erected through Nogales. Almost immediately, Estrada started noticing small square-shaped cuts in the fence, too small for a person to go across. Why, the sheriff wondered, would people cut holes too small to climb through? He smiled, remembering: “What they were doing was cutting out sections to use as barbecue grills.”

Three decades after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Alaska’s coast faces an even bigger threat

High Country News | Posted on March 28, 2019

The tragedy of that coastal Alaska paradise is only deepening as it enters another, even darker act.Changes brought by human emissions of carbon dioxide — warming and acidifying ocean waters — have proved as destructive as the spill, and they will not disperse, as the oil eventually did.A rich, complex community of life established on these shores after ice receded 10 millennia ago. It probably takes a period of stability that long for the relationships of a many-channeled food web to develop. At my life’s halfway point, I’ve watched this place long enough to see how human errors and appetites could break its system of life, and to feel the urgency of addressing the carbon crisis, which I believe will happen. But the dream of recovery, climate stability and a newly healthy ecosystem — that vision may lie beyond the horizon of living generations.

Maine Legislature Approves Bill To Repeal Gross Metering

Solar Industry | Posted on March 27, 2019

The Maine legislature has approved a bill that would eliminate the state’s controversial “gross metering” rule for solar. The legislation, L.D.91, was introduced in January by State Rep. Seth Berry, R-Maine, to repeal a fee for solar customers that was enacted under the administration of Maine’s previous governor, Paul LePage.

How Big Oil is trying to change its image

Grist | Posted on March 27, 2019

To the untrained eye, it looks like the major oil companies that helped get us into this whole climate mess — conglomerates like ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell — are starting to envision a world beyond fossil fuels. A few of them have launched their own campaigns charting a path to a greener future — and, surprisingly, even more have backed a carbon tax proposal. Is Big Oil trying to hasten its own demise, or are these companies just ensuring that they will dominate the energy sector for decades to come?ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, BP, and Total have collectively spent more than a billion dollars on branding and lobbying since the signing of the Paris Agreement — the moment when the companies sensed a permanent turning of the tide against their industry. That’s according to a report published by the U.K.-based InfluenceMap, a group that analyzes climate policy lobbying.The report illuminates a two-pronged approach by Big Oil: While the companies market themselves as socially and environmentally conscious to the public, they’re actively working against climate regulations behind the scenes. Since the global climate accord’s adoption in late 2015, European-based Shell, Total, and BP — followed shortly thereafter by U.S.-based ExxonMobil and Chevron — “initiated a campaign of top-line positivity on climate,” the report said.

How co-ops are bringing solar power to rural America

Scientific American | Posted on March 26, 2019

It was aimed at what might be needed if the price of solar-powered electricity came down. NRECA began working with a small group of local and wholesale co-ops. It published training manuals like “The Communicator’s Toolkit,” which suggested ways to minimize the risk of using solar while capturing its benefits. That was timely because in 2015 the price of solar energy began to crash. “We happened to be in the right place at the right time to pull together our co-ops,” Spiers explained in an interview.Previously, the niche for solar in rural areas was mainly individuals putting rooftop solar on their homes. The new goal that emerged among co-ops was to connect as many local members as possible to nearby arrays.Some members lived in apartments without solar. Co-ops developed “virtual net metering,” which meant customers could still buy access to a solar project and get credit on their utility bill without connecting to the array.Meanwhile, Tri-State has built the largest wholesale solar supply system serving co-ops in the United States, even as it has tried to limit the amount of solar that co-ops can generate. Another wholesaler, Great River Energy of Maple Grove, Minn., built 19 solar arrays that served co-ops across the breadth of the state.Then Great River had to figure out how to adjust its system to cope with cloud patterns that slowly drifted across the state, cutting electricity at one co-op and increasing it at another.The Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association in northern Colorado built two solar arrays that were quickly sold out. Then it developed a cheaper third array by bringing in an outside group called Grid Alternatives that used volunteers and donated materials. That helped Poudre attract more low- and moderate-income families and nonprofits.Finding cleaner, closer power sources has helped trim NRECA’s traditional reliance on coal from 54 percent in 2014 to 40 percent in 2017.


Floods shut nearly a sixth of U.S. ethanol production

Reuters | Posted on March 26, 2019

Massive flooding in the U.S. Midwest has knocked out roughly 13 percent of the country’s ethanol production capacity, as plants in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota have been forced to shut down or scale back production following the devastation.

Residents Seek Answers About Health Risks Near Frac Sand Mines

Investigate Midwest | Posted on March 26, 2019

Public health researchers disagree on the impact the dust has on the long-term health of residents living in an near silica sand mining communities like the tiny Mississippi River town of Clayton, which is in the Iowa county by the same name, and in southwest Wisconsin.Researchers and citizens have become concerned in recent years about the health effects because fracking, and the frac sand mining that helps drive it, only appeared on the national stage in the last 30 years. Silica-rich sand is a key ingredient in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, acting as a structural support for water and chemicals pumped into natural shale reservoirs to stimulate the production of natural gas.Silica sand mining, however, produces a dangerous by-product: silica dust. Prolonged exposure to the tiny mineral particles can scar lung tissue resulting in irreversible and sometimes fatal respiratory damage. About 2 million U.S. workers remain potentially exposed to occupational silica, the American Lung Association reports.

Analysis: New wind, solar cheaper than operating most existing coal plants

Energy News Network | Posted on March 26, 2019

Locally generated solar and wind energy could already replace almost three-fourths of electricity made by U.S. coal plants for less than the cost of continuing to operate those plants. By 2025, the share of “at risk” coal generation will jump from 74 percent to 86 percent, adds the report by Energy Innovation Policy & Technology in San Francisco and Boulder-based Vibrant Clean Energy.