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Coal job losses to keep hurting Appalachia, beyond

KNOX News | Posted on February 6, 2018

Coal isn’t back — though it may hold steady near today’s level — but the long-term decline of mining in Appalachia will have a ripple effect on related businesses, health, education and regional population, according to a new study. While coal has boom-and-bust cycles, its long-term trend has been downward, said Matt Murray, University of Tennessee economics professor, associate director of the Boyd Center for Business & Economic Research and director of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy.“We may see some further declines, but I think the coal industry is close to bottoming out,” he said. “So the worst is behind us. I think the real impacts are in those small number of communities that still have some coal activities going on.”The five-part study, “An Economic Analysis of the Appalachian Coal Industry Ecosystem,” notes that coal production in Appalachia fell nearly 45 percent between 2005 and 2015, more than double the rate of the national decline during the same period.

Ethanol's next breakthrough? Turning greenhouse gas into fuel.

Des Moines Register | Posted on February 5, 2018

Somewhere within the walls of a Tennessee lab, researchers stumbled upon an accidental finding that could potentially revolutionize the ethanol market hundreds of miles away in Iowa. Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory unintentionally uncovered a process that uses tiny bits of carbon and copper to convert the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into ethanol fuel.While the research remains in its preliminary phase, it could represent a breakthrough for renewable fuel operations in Iowa. By their nature, ethanol plants produce masses of excess carbon dioxide through the distillation process. If commercialized, the new process could allow ethanol producers to make even more ethanol fuel from the CO2 that's otherwise wasted.

Ethanol CEO says Pruitt trying to "gut" federal mandate

Houston Chronicle | Posted on February 5, 2018

Ethanol companies are enraged by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's comments Thursday that the program ensuring compliance with the federal biofuels requirement needs reform.  "Administrator Pruitt's recent comments completely contradict his own rule and repeated promises to support the letter and spirit of the RFS," he said. "It is an about-face to now try and gut the most successful energy program in American history."

US Wind Industry Installed 7 Gigawatts In 2017 & Drove $11 Billion In Investment

Cleantechnica | Posted on February 4, 2018

The US wind industry installed an impressive 7 gigawatts of new power capacity in 2017 and drove $11 billion worth of new private investment, according to a new report published by the American Wind Energy Association. Even more impressive was the 29 new wind farms totalling 4,125 MW (megawatts) that came online across 16 states in the fourth quarter alone.The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) published its U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2017 Market Report on Tuesday, highlighting the 7,017 MW of new wind brought online during 2017, bringing the country’s cumulative total wind energy capacity up to 89,077 MW spread out across 41 states, and representing enough electricity to power 26 million homes. On top of new installed wind capacity, the report highlighted an additional 2,136 MW w

New California program to develop 5 dairy digester RNG projects

Biomass Magazine | Posted on February 1, 2018

In mid-December, the California Public Utilities Commission established a new program that aims to reduce methane emissions from manure generated at dairies. The CPUC said the pilot program will incentivize at least five projects where dairy digesters produce renewable natural gas (RNG) from manure. The program was adopted pursuant to SB 1383, which established a goal to reduce California’s methane emissions 40 percent by 2030. As part of this goal, the bill authorizes funding of the dairy biomethane pilot projects to demonstrate interconnection to the gas pipeline system. The pipeline infrastructure is needed to inject RNG into the utilities’ natural gas distribution system.

Alaska officials want some areas out of drilling plan

Houston Chronicle | Posted on February 1, 2018

Alaska's all-Republican congressional delegation three weeks ago praised Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke after he announced nearly all federal waters off the state's coast could be offered for oil and gas drilling. But after hearing from critics who do not want drilling in their home waters, U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young are backtracking.In a letter Friday to Zinke, the delegation requested that most Alaska waters from the state's Panhandle to the Bering Strait be removed from the proposed five-year drilling plan.

Russian gas defies U.S. sanctions to reach New England

Politico | Posted on February 1, 2018

A tanker of liquefied natural gas from a Russian company on the Treasury Department’s sanctions list is scheduled to unload the fuel this weekend, making it the first shipment of gas from the country to ever reach the United States. It’s arriving just after the U.S. announced increased economic penalties Friday against Moscow-linked people and businesses because of Vladimir Putin’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine. The fuel shipment originated at a new $27 billion terminal on Russia’s Yamal Peninsula in the Arctic Circle operated by Yamal LNG, a joint venture among Russian gas company Novatek, France's Total and China's CNPC. Russian oil and gas shipments are not subject to U.S. sanctions put in place after Moscow's annexation of Crimea, but Yamal LNG and its majority owner Novatek have been on the sanctions list since 2014.

Potential impact of hydraulic fracturing on streams, downstream recreation, drinking water

Science Daily | Posted on February 1, 2018

Concerns over hydraulic fracturing, an oil and gas extraction method that injects millions of gallons of freshwater and chemicals into shale, have largely focused on potential impacts on water quality. But, as scientists now report, 'fracking' operations could have impacts on water quantity because they are withdrawing these large amounts of water from nearby streams, which house aquatic ecosystems and are used by people for drinking and recreation.

Fossil fuel developments on U.S. public lands emit more greenhouse gases than most countries.

Grist | Posted on January 30, 2018

According to a report released by The Wilderness Society  “If U.S. public lands were their own country, they would rank fifth in the world for greenhouse gas emissions.” There’s been a big hullaballoo over Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s plans to turn our public lands over to industry interests. But a lot of that land is already leased out to oil and gas companies, in transactions that have been largely shielded from public view.Here’s a breakdown of some of the report’s more alarming findings:Oil, gas, and coal projects on public lands are responsible for at least 20 percent of our country’s total emissions.There is currently no “systematic effort to track nor disclose the carbon consequences of energy leasing on public lands.” That means the American public has had little opportunity to weigh in on how its energy resources are managed.The Bureau of Land Management under President Trump has instructed land management agencies to forgo climate impact assessments in the interest of spurring new energy developments.

Colorado governor releases state’s electric vehicle plans, saying “we know that we can have a cleaner option”

The Denver Post | Posted on January 29, 2018

Colorado could have nearly 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030, according to one estimate.  Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday released broad plans to foster growth in the state’s already booming electric vehicle market, saying he believes the keys to economic development and cleaner air lie — at least in part — outside of the internal combustion engine. “They say it takes a village,” Hickenlooper told reporters while flanked by a host of electric vehicles in downtown Denver. “Really, it takes a lack of silos to get an electric vehicle framework in place. … I think it really does a great job of capturing Colorado’s vision that we are going to have a network of fast-charging stations, we’re going to be able to address what’s sometimes referred to as ‘range anxiety.’ ” The plan, which largely encompasses previous state electric-vehicle initiatives, calls for public-private partnerships to build out the state’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure, provide a consistent refueling system across the state and Rocky Mountain West and build new relationships to bolster investment in infrastructure.