An environmental group has published 18 leaked memos by government scientists that outline gaps in knowledge about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The group claims the information should have been included in the Bureau of Land Management’s report on possible impacts from oil and gas leasing in the refuge.
As gas tax revenue declines, proposals would raise or create new fees for hybrids and electric vehicles.Frustrated with falling gas tax revenue, lawmakers in Iowa and Minnesota are looking to drivers of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles to help fill budget gaps.In Minnesota, a bill by Republican state Sen. Jeff Howe would raise the state’s $75 annual charge on hybrids and electric vehicles to $125 and $250, respectively, but is unlikely to make it out of a solidly Democratic House.In Iowa, though, legislation to create $65 and $130 annual fees on hybrids and electric vehicles has already passed out of House and Senate committees. The bills came in response to a state transportation report that estimated Iowa lost at least $317,000 in gas tax revenue last year due to hybrid and electric vehicles.
As political battles persisted on federal biofuels policy throughout 2018, ethanol producers in the United States exported a record number of gallons, according to the latest data from the USDA, U.S. Census Bureau, and U.S. Department of Commerce. New data released on Wednesday shows U.S. ethanol exports eclipsed the previous record set in 2017 by 25% to 1.7 billion gallons. The U.S. exported ethanol to more than 80 countries. Nearly 11% of total U.S. ethanol production was exported last year.Brazil was the leading U.S. export destination at 513.2 million gallons, or 30% of the total. Canada was second with 349.6 mg, followed by India at 156.8 mg. The three countries accounted for 60% of total ethanol exports. The European Union, South Korea and the Philippines were other top markets in 2018. Export volumes to nine of the top 10 destinations saw increases above 2017 volumes, with Brazil, the Netherlands, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Colombia showing the largest gains.
Modern coal-fired power stations produce more ultrafine dust particles than road traffic and can even modify and redistribute rainfall patterns, a new 15-year international study shows. The study indicates filtration systems on modern coal-fired power stations are the biggest source of ultrafine particles and can have considerable impacts on climate in several ways.
However, not everyone is a fan of wind farms or the look of the wind turbines dotting the skyline across the Lone Star State. This has led to an interesting question: Can claimed negative aesthetic impact of a wind project by a neighboring landowner constitute a nuisance under Texas law?In Rankin v. FPL Energy, LLC, neighbors of the Horse Hollow Wind Farm in Taylor County, filed a lawsuit against the farm claiming it constituted a nuisance. One of the the plaintiffs’ key claims was that the “wind farm’s aesthetic impact” and the emotional impact of the loss of the unimpeded view of neighboring landowners was a condition that could be considered by a jury in determining whether a nuisance existed. The plaintiffs claimed that the 400-foot-tall turbines significantly diminished the area’s scenic beauty and, therefore, the enjoyment of their property. One plaintiff claimed that because of the wind farm, they abandoned their plan of opening a bed and breakfast due to the view of the wind farm.The court rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that the aesthetic impact created a nuisance. Although the court recognized the wind farm’s impact on the view and the emotional reaction this could cause, it simply did not constitute a nuisance. Texas case law limits a nuisance action “when the challenged activity is lawful to instances in which the activity results in some invasion of the plaintiff’s property and by not allowing recovery for emotional reaction alone.” Thus, Texas courts do not provide a nuisance action for damage to aesthetic impact.
USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has completed a life cycle analysis of beef cattle production in the United States that concluded cattle convert feed about as efficiently as pork and poultry and are not large contributors to global warming. The scope of the analysis spanned five years, seven cattle-producing regions and used data from 2,270 survey responses and site visits nationwide."We found that the greenhouse gas emissions in our analysis were not all that different from what other credible studies had shown and were not a significant contributor to long-term global warming," said ARS agricultural engineer Alan Rotz, who led the analysis team.
More than 90% of coal plants that monitor groundwater pollution across the United States are leaking toxic coal ash pollution, according to a new national report based on industry disclosures. Of 265 coal plants that report groundwater tests, 243 disclosed unsafe levels of at least one coal ash pollutant, including arsenic, lithium and other contaminants, according to the new report from the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) and Earthjustice. The data, representing about three-quarters of U.S. coal plants, come from utility filings mandated by federal coal ash rules that the Trump administration is attempting to roll back. The remaining plants were either exempt from reporting groundwater tests or were eligible for reporting extensions.
The utility says its interim goal of 80 percent carbon reduction by 2030 can be met with existing technology. After that, it gets more difficult.In Colorado, Xcel Energy says its recently announced goal of 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 can be achieved with existing technology. Costs of renewables have declined, weather forecasts have improved, and engineers have learned how to integrate higher and higher levels of clean power without sacrificing reliability.
Increasing demand for renewable energy in Oregon has spurred a proposal to exempt most such projects from compulsory review by a statewide siting panel. Supporters argue it would be less expensive and time-consuming for county governments to review plans for solar arrays and other renewable energy facilities.However, advocates of farmland preservation argue that counties will scrutinize renewable energy projects less rigorously that the Energy Facility Siting Council, which aims to ensure such facilities meet statewide standards.Under House Bill 2329, the threshold for mandatory EFSC review of solar facilities would be increased from 100 to 200 acres of arable farmland and certain wind, geothermal and transmission projects would also be exempt from the statewide process.
A high-profile energy bill passed the Senate late Wednesday night after a procedural fight sparked by a Republican lawmaker’s lengthy filibuster.Sen. William Sharer, R-Farmington, held the Senate floor for nearly four hours in an attempt to force changes to the bill that would reshape New Mexico’s energy landscape by imposing renewable energy standards and providing financial assistance to the state’s largest utility to offset the cost of closing coal-fired power plants in the Four Corners region.In its current form, the measure would replace all of New Mexico’s carbon-emitting generation with clean-energy resources over the next 25 years.In addition, the bill would allow fixed-rate bonds to be issued to help PNM recover the costs associated with the transition to new energy sources.