New York fracking lawsuit could set drilling precedent
A lawsuit challenging a small town’s ban on natural-gas drilling could have implications throughout New York, where state officials are poised to approve a controversial drilling method known as fracking.
Anschutz Exploration Corporation filed suit on Friday against Dryden, a rural suburb of Ithaca with about 13,000 residents that last month amended its zoning laws to bar all gas drilling within its unincorporated borders.
New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation has recommended ending a year-long ban on drilling in New York, although a public comment period on the rules was extended this month following concerns that fracking contaminates underground wells and aquifers.
The Anschutz suit, which asks the state Supreme Court in Tompkins County to invalidate the amendment, is the first to test the legal implications of the state’s move. (Reuters)
The High Stakes Pipeline Game
Peter C Glover and Michael J. Economides
In the gas pipeline game being played by Russia, the former Soviet satellite states and Europe, everyone appears set on upping the stakes this winter. Which explains why the ubiquitous Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, officiated on September 6 as the Nord Stream pipeline started pumping ‘technical gas’– necessary to building pressure – in advance of pumping gas directly from Russia to its German destination; bypassing the ‘troublesome’ former Soviet states in the process.
Hardly surprising that the Russian premier should take such trouble given foreign gas sales account for around 20 percent of the state’s income. In Russia, as one writer notes: “control of the flow of hydrocarbons means raw power”. With European gas consumption expected to grow by a further 50 percent over the next decade, it is set to remain a highly lucrative market for Russia’s most important export.
But the surprisingly early opening of Nord Stream also represents the latest throw of the dice in the pipeline game. (Energy Tribune)
Hyundai Motor not planning all-electric cars: reports
A vice chairman of Hyundai Motor said South Korea’s top automaker does not plan to mass-produce a pure electric vehicle, expressing skepticism about the future of the much-touted technology, according to media reports. (Reuters)
Nuclear bans build case for EU energy cooperation
Plans by Germany and other EU states to abandon nuclear power because of fears stirred by the disaster in Japan reinforce the need for joint action and magnify the bloc’s problems over security of energy supply, a discussion paper said.
The document, seen by Reuters, is the latest text from the European Commission to urge all 27 member nations to put collective energy needs above domestic agendas. It could rile countries such as Germany, which has unilaterally decided to phase out all its atomic plants by 2022.
In addition, Italy has voted to ban nuclear power for decades. (Reuters)
Renewable Industry In Turmoil
Monday, 19 September 2011 19:10 Rebeacca Smith, The Wall Street Journal
An American wind-turbine designer’s recent decision to sue its biggest customer—a major Chinese manufacturer—for corporate espionage is the latest sign of the turmoil sweeping through the renewable-energy industry.
Citing what it said was an intellectual-property theft scheme that stretched around the globe, the U.S. company, American Superconductor Corp. of Devens, Mass., said Thursday that it had filed suit in Beijing against China’s biggest wind-turbine maker, Sinovel Wind Group Co. It said it doesn’t know if the suit will be accepted, and a copy of the suit hasn’t yet been released to the public.
The U.S. company accuses Sinovel of agreeing to pay more than $1 million to a 38-year-old American Superconductor employee in Austria, who now faces criminal charges. The employee allegedly stole valuable software that controls turbines and gave it to the Chinese company, which was expected to account for 70% of American Superconductor’s revenue this year.
In a prepared release, translated from Chinese by The Wall Street Journal, Sinovel denied any wrongdoing and accused American Superconductor of selling it shoddy parts and not fulfilling its agreements.
American Superconductor’s unusual accusation comes as renewable-energy companies in the U.S. are struggling in the face of slumping demand at home and difficulty competing in the vast Chinese market. (GWPF)
Renewables stir growth, create jobs: EU adviser
A major expansion of renewable energy could create millions of jobs worldwide, stir economic growth in heavily indebted countries and help fight climate change at the same time, an American adviser to the German leader Angela Merkel said on Monday.
Jeremy Rifkin, a best-selling author and an adviser to the European Union on climate change and energy security, said Germany has been leading the way by creating some 250,000 jobs in renewable energy in just a few years, but could do more. (Reuters)
More False Hope About Renewable Energies That Consumers Reject
Robert L. Bradley Jr., CEO and founder of the Institute for Energy Research, says that alternative energy sources fail the cost, reliability and scalability tests.
Americans seek affordable energy and expect greater fiscal prudence from Washington. Yet the Obama administration continues to tout economically failing, deficit-swelling renewables as the elixir to our economic and energy needs.
“Green jobs” is the code word for the ruse, which is nothing more than artificial job creation for energies that consumers emphatically reject.
Don’t be fooled by the political hype. Alternative energy sources fail the cost, reliability, and scalability tests. Whether it is ethanol for transportation or wind and solar for electricity, politically correct energies are an economic drain. (Forbes)
TransAlta urged to shut down wind farm during migration season
Richard Blackwell, Globe and Mail
A major conservation group is calling on TransAlta Corp. to periodically turn off turbines at its Wolfe Island wind farm in Ontario to cut down on the number of birds and bats killed by the machines.
Nature Canada says the project’s 86 turbines are among the most destructive of wildlife in North America. The organization argues TransAlta should shut down parts of the wind farm – one of the biggest in the country – during high-risk periods in the late summer and early fall, when swallows congregate in the region and bats migrate.
“That period is when the vast majority of birds seem to be killed,” said Ted Cheskey, manager of bird conservation programs at Nature Canada. “The evidence is there, and now there is an obligation for [TransAlta] to act.”
The controversy over bird deaths is just one of the many challenges facing Canada’s wind industry, which has run up against by increasingly vocal opponents who say turbines are ugly, cause health problems, and do not contribute to reduced carbon emissions. (Point to Point PEC)
SMA Solar outlook fades as sun sets on demand
SMA Solar Technology AG, the world’s biggest maker of solar inverters, slashed full-year targets only days after its chief executive called the outlook challenging, confirming fears the industry bellwether was not immune to falling demand.
Shares in SMA — which said it could not give a reliable forecast for 2012 — fell as much as 12.1 percent to a two-year low and were still down 11.8 percent by 9:36 a.m. EDT, dragging down others in the sector such as Solarworld AG and Q-Cells SE.
SMA said on Monday there had been only a minor recovery in demand since mid-summer, blaming the trend on solar incentive cuts in Germany, the world’s biggest solar market, and fallout from the euro zone debt crisis. (Reuters)
Analysis: Solar startups plough ahead despite Solyndra
Solyndra’s collapse has cast a harsh spotlight on rival start-ups backing a promising solar technology that, despite the flameout by a leading player, remains on the verge of cracking the renewable energy market. (Reuters)
Solyndra Flop Doesn’t Slow Push to Wind, Solar
The Obama administration, defying congressional Republicans after the failure of solar-panel maker Solyndra LLC, is working to award as much as $9.2 billion in government financing to renewable energy companies before a Sept. 30 deadline. (Bloomberg)
How Do You Say ‘Solyndra’ in German?
Really? The Germans would dump $29 billion into this? (Planet Gore)
TCEQ response to EPA statements
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011 – Sep. 15 CSPAR hearing before U.S. House committee
Contact Terry Clawson
The EPA made several statements at today’s hearing that need to be addressed.
Study sees no clear link between BPA, diabetes
A study out Monday finds no clear evidence that people’s exposure to bisphenol A, a controversial chemical in plastics, is related to their risk of diabetes. (Reuters Health)
WaPo should know but apparently does not that methyl bromide is a particularly useful soil fumigant and pesticide. Were ship’s cargo holds properly fumigated as a matter of course you likely wouldn’t have pests like the Asian Longhorn beetle in North America, for example. “Ozone depletion” is and always has been a nonsense. Check out ozone’s natural seasonality here and note that the heavily irradiated tropics rarely have as much “ozone protection” as the weakly irradiated polar regions and yet life thrives in the tropics. Even if humans did influence the seasonal change in polar stratospheric ozone levels (and there is no empirical evidence that we do) there is no known negative consequence from that. It’s just another of Ozone Al’s fabricated “emergencies”.
Golf courses hurry to use last of methyl bromide supplies before phaseout
Like other golf courses across America, the Chevy Chase Club in suburban Maryland is caught up in the ancient battle between man and weeds. The club recently informed its members of a major offensive against ugly patches of invasive grass that impede a ball’s roll toward the hole on their velvety greens.
But its preferred method of killing weeds involves a controversial pesticide called methyl bromide, which the Environmental Protection Agency barred most organizations from using years ago. (WaPo)
Nanoparticles cause brain injury in fish
Scientists at the University of Plymouth have shown, for the first time in an animal, that nanoparticles have a detrimental effect on the brain and other parts of the central nervous system.
They subjected rainbow trout to titanium oxide nanoparticles which are widely used as a whitening agent in many products including paints, some personal care products, and with applications being considered for the food industry. They found that the particles caused vacuoles (holes) to form in parts of the brain and for nerve cells in the brain to die. Although some effects of nanoparticles have been shown previously in cell cultures and other in vitro systems this is the first time it has been confirmed in a live vertebrate.
The results will be presented at the “6th International meeting on the Environmental Effects on Nanoparticles and Nanomaterials” (21st – 23rd September) at the Royal Society in London. (EurekAlert)
The easiest way to cut health care costs
Amazingly, this is pretty much a no-brainer. All you have to do is drastically reform the manner in which the so-called Relative Value Units are used to determine Medicare’s fee schedule amount. People don’t seem to realize that even though Medicare is mostly limited to people over 65, it has a profound influence on how all health care is practiced—and reimbursed—in this country.