08DTE Picks Sites for Wind Farms in Michigan

Ran across this article. I think wind farms in Michigan will do well. We’ve got plenty of wind coming off the lakes. And if our auto industry continues its plan to produce plug-in cars, we’ll need that clean energy. I would hate to think plug in cars would actually be fueled by dirty coal!

Read: http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9MJEFT80.htm.

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Like Michigan and Gulf Oil Spill, Lack of Regulatory Oversight at Fault in California Gas Line Explosion

Our infrastructure has been neglected for far too long. And maybe deregulation sounds good, but it doesn’t work and has served to prolong the neglect. Deregulation has been the ideology in practice for a decade and as a result there aren’t enough regulators around to MAKE industry do what the law dictates for the health and safety of the public. As a result we witnessed BP’s gulf oil spill, Enbridge Energy’s oil spill in Michigan, and the recent natural gas line explosion yesterday evening that along with the fire it created, wiped out a neighborhood in San Bruno California. Pacific Gas and Electric own the gas line.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/09/10/BAVQ1FBPMD.DTL.

According to ABC World News, PG&E like Enbridge scratched their heads as to what caused the ruptured pipeline. Well you would think the fact that it was 62 years old and lacked regular inspection might have something to do with it. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, or PHMSA simply do not have enough regulators to ensure all 2.5 million miles of criss-crossing pipelines in the U.S. are inspected and tested regularly. And industry isn’t going to do one iota extra if there is a loophole they can use instead.

Gas pipelines are to be inspected and tested for pressure every 7 years except in rural areas. That is the loophole. Considering the spread of suburbia to rural areas, there are probably plenty of pipelines that have not been inspected for the increase in usage. Rural areas less sparsely populated used thinner walled pipe years ago because of less volume. As neighborhoods grow, the older pipes should either be replaced with thicker walled pipe due to increased volume or be checked for pressure more often. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. And even if regulations are upgraded quickly there are fewer regulators to make sure pipelines have indeed been inspected. Industry appears to be more and more unreliable for self regulation when it comes to our health and safety.

A washintonindependant.com article about Michigan’s oil spill stated, “According to PHMSA records, there were 265 “significant incidents” in the U.S. pipeline system last year, resulting in 14 deaths, 63 injuries and more than $152 million in property damage. A total of 53,000 barrels of liquid were spilled during these incidents. About 100 of those significant incidents involved “hazardous liquids” like oil. PHMSA defines significant incident as any accident involving a fatality, more than $5,000 of damage or a spill of liquid.”

http://washingtonindependent.com/93129/michigan-oil-spill-raises-familiar-questions-about-oversight.

We’re going to see more and more problems down the road if we continue to rely on the foxes to watch the henhouses. Self-regulation is just that. People want to argue that industry is smart enough not to take big risks and most of the time adheres to the regulations laid out for them. Do they? We see that they don’t and in a big way. This latest explosion that wiped out an entire neighborhood should not be brushed under the rug as one of many problems that take place regularly. It was large and the picture of the crater it left does not create a sense of security for any of us. The gulf oil spill was too huge to forget too quickly even though some would also like to brush it under the rug as part of the daily risks by that industry. And Michigan citizens will continue to witness the oily mess of Enbridge long after we quit hearing about it.

The Small Business and Infrastructure Jobs Tax Act looks to pass in the Senate after recess. It finally has 60 votes. Senator George Voinovich of (R-OH) stated, “We don’t have time anymore. The nation is really hurting.” He’s joining 59 other senators to pass the bill. Hopefully, transportation infrastructure upgrades spurred by this bill will also spur the need for greater oversight of the miles and miles of the nation’s pipeline infrastructure that needs upgrading also. It isn’t like the oil and gas industry doesn’t have the money to upgrade relevant pipelines. This bill isn’t just about jobs, but our health, safety, and a future free of explosions and spills that put lives at risk. The gulf spill, the Michigan spill, and now this devastating explosion should be enough already to realize industry needs a watchful eye and prodding to do what is right relative to citizen’s health and welfare and the environment that sustains us.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_upshot/20100910/pl_yblog_upshot/republican-senator-voinovich-offers-60th-vote-for-small-business-bill.

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About the EPA Lawsuit Against DTE

On August 5, 2010, the U.S. EPA sued DTE Energy, seeking to halt an EXPANSION to a coal-fired electric plant that the government says will worsen air pollution in Michigan. The lawsuit alleges DTE made major modifications in March 2010 to Unit 2 at its Monroe Power Plant without first obtaining necessary approvals. The $30 million overhaul was made without installing, as required under the New Source Review (NSR) requirements of the Clean Air Act, the best available technology to minimize emissions of sulfur and nitrogen oxides — pollutants that harm human health by contributing to heart attacks, breathing problems, and other health, the suit alleges. The lawsuit alleges the Monroe plant is already the largest individual source of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions in the state and “this modification resulted in significant net emission increases.”

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Monroe_Power_Plant#August_2010:_EPA_sues_DTE_over_plant
_modifications
.

Freep.com stated:

The government said DTE conducted a $65-million overhaul of Monroe Unit 2, one of four generators at the facility, earlier this year without obtaining the necessary pollution permits or installing the best pollution controls. As a result, large amounts of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide will be released into the air, the agency said in the suit. It asked U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman to enjoin DTE from operating Unit 2 until it complies with the Clean Air Act and fine the firm up to $37,500 per day for violations.

http://www.freep.com/article/20100806/BUSINESS06/8060312/EPA-sues-DTE-to-stop-a-generator#ixzz0w1utbiyX.

According to Michigan Messenger: “The EPA suit charges that in March of this year DTE began a months-long project to refurbish the boilers in use at the plant since the 70s. The EPA says that the boiler replacements amount to a major overhaul that cost about $65 million and was “unpredicted” in the life of the plant.”

http://michiganmessenger.com/40655/epa-files-federal-lawsuit-against-dte-energy

Part of the alleged problem with the Monroe Plant expansion stems from the same thing I blogged about back in April, 08. I complained that Michigan had lax CO2 laws. Back then Michigan would still issue a permit to a utility company to expand or build a new coal fired plant if it met requirements to capture a percentage of pollutants in its existing plant. My complaint was that pollutants like sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury, and CO2 were all lumped together as pollutants. To get around the permitting process all a coal plant needed to do was lower their sulfur and NOX emissions. My words:”Why the rush to put scrubbers on coal plants now if not to apply for permits, and before the rules change?” Considering the Monroe plant was completed in 1974 and scrubber technology was around since the 70′s one has to wonder. It appears the installation of the scrubbers at such a late date on an old plant was an attempt to grandfather the legal right to keep emitting CO2 before new pollutions controls for coalburners went into effect in 2009.

The Sierra Club came to the same conclusion, “Weak regulations and expected federal limits on the emission of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide have led to a rush to get coal plants approved in Michigan now, even though the state won’t need any additional electric generating capacity for many years.”

http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/2008/04/dte-indicates-no-growth-in-demand-for-electricity-in-michigan-through-2012/.

http://www.michigan.sierraclub.org/issues/cleanenergy/coalfired
powerplants.html
.

The grandfather rights to pollute may not be ironclad. New rules apply and first off is a problem with retrofitting older plants. Based on an analysis of EPA data, the study finds:

The nation’s power plants are dirty as well as old — and that those two characteristics tend to go hand in hand. Two-thirds of the nation’s fossil-fuel-generated electricity comes from plants built before 1980. At the same time, those older facilities produced 73% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The report found that for each year older a coal generator is on average, it created 0.001 more tons of CO2 for each Megawatt-hour of electricity it produced in 2007.

http://www.southernstudies.org/2009/12/aging-coal-plants-take-a-heavy-environmental-toll.html.

Another problem is proving need for more electricity before expanding or building a new coal burner. The state’s Dept. of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) is allowed to determine this thanks to our House of Reps. The MI Senate proposed a bill to block that right by the DNRE. The permit for denial of the Bay City project is an example that there is no need for more electricity in MI. The project is now on hold due to lack of electricity need. DTE’s own research revealed no increase in electricity supply through 2012. But other studies put it at a much later date considering loss of population in Michigan. A report by a state agency says there will be no new demand for electricity in Michigan until 2022.

http://michiganmessenger.com/38269/consumers-energy-puts-new-coal-plant-on-hold.

http://quitcoal.com/.

There is also the stated problem of not using the best available technology (BACT) to minimize emissions of sulfur and nitrogen dioxide as part of the requirements of the Clean Air Act. DTE claims the scrubbers are top notch, however, they evidently do not fall within the standards set by the top 12% of coalburners in its class. An article on Financial Times/ft.com:

The legal instrument for this is the Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) provisions of the CAA. Essentially, they will require coal utilities to reduce their emissions of hazardous pollutants, as defined by the EPA, to the levels achieved by the best 12 per cent of plants in their class. Once an industry rule comes down, each “source”, or plant, has three years, with one year of allowed extensions, to bring their emission levels down to the standard.

The Michigan Messenger reported: “Monroe’s unit 2 emitted 27,320 tons of sulfur and 8,205 tons of nitrogen oxide just last year and predicts that by 2013, unit 2 will emit 33,816 tons of SO2 and 14,494 tons of NOX.”

Monroe Power Plant began operating two flue gas desulfurization systems, the first in June and the second in November 2009. DTE Energy said the scrubbers reduce Unit 3′s sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 97 percent and mercury emissions by 80 to 90 percent. Unit 4 had similar reductions when the first FGD began operating. Selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology was also installed on three of the plant’s generating units, reportedly reducing nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 90 percent. Two more scrubbers and a fourth SCR will be installed at the plant. Allowed to escape–3% of sulfur, 10% nitrogen dioxide, and 10-20% mercury.

It’s a math ratio problem. Increased output by the new expansion results in an increased amount of pollution that is allowed to escape. So 23-33% worth of pollutants overall will be escaping indefinately if the grandfather clause stands. The biggest caveat is that the CO2 is not scrubbed at all. It is just flying freely at an increased rate. This explains why the EXPANSION will worsen air pollution in Michigan.

A Grist article explains the grandfathering, the math ratio, etc., quite well:

http://www.grist.org/article/The-coming-legal-fight-/.

The Michigan Messenger article continued:

S02 and NOX can combine with other elements in the air to form particulate matter known as PM 2.5. These pollutants cause harm to human health and the environment once emitted into the air, including premature death, heart attacks and lung problems.

EPA has long warned that DTE was operating its coal plants without required pollution control equipment.
In a July 24, 2009 Notice of Violation, EPA told DTE that it was failing to meet Clean Air Act regulations at its Monroe plant, and at plants in St. Clair, River Rouge, Belle River and Trenton Channel.

‘Unless restrained by an order of this Court,’ EPA charged in its complaint against DTE, ‘these and similar violations of the Act will continue.’

Finally, Michigan’s DNRE also has the right to determine if there are viable alternative sources to the electricity generated by the coal plant.

These criteria have been used to deny permits to both the Holland and Rogers City proposed coal burners. DTE will have to defend its grandfathering. DTE asserted it didn’t need permits. According to detnews.com, DTE did not seek necessary approvals and “mailed a notification letter to the state of Michigan the day before starting the project.”

DTE also asserts the Monroe Plant is among the cleanest when there are plenty of studies that place it in the top 20 dirty plants in the country like sciencedaily.com. Our air quality in Monroe doesn’t reflect a clean plant either especially when it had no scrubbers for close to 40 years. If the plant is indeed among the dirtiest and the scrubbers aren’t up to par, it may have to revamp the plant.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/dbcd2e08-80b9-11df-be5a-00144feabdc0.html.
http://ncseonline.org/nle/crsreports/air/air-22.cfm.

http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/2009/04/us-cities-recent-air-quality-reports%e2%80%94not-good/.

DTE cautions that the down time will cost customers. I complained in Feb. 08 about passing costs along—”I [] predicted that the utility companies would continue too long on their same course and then whine about the cost to reverse things and comply with new clean air policy. How soon before we hear the sob stories? So predictable. When companies have a big lobby, they throw all foresight to the wind. They don’t need to stay on the ball. They pay to change the play instead. And the taxpayer bears the brunt.”

http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/2008/02/us-court-of-appeals-gets-tough-on-epa-and-mercury-pollution/.

Customers should not bear the brunt. DTE’s union members authorized a strike just last year: “The union called for the strike authorization citing ‘out of control executive pay, profits at the expense of the consumers and bad faith bargaining.’” This sounds like the bulk of wealthy corporations with big profits that fail to create jobs but look to cut the little guy even more. Crainsdetroit.com reported:

Jim Harrison, Local 223 president, told union members DTE is trying to take its workers retirement while the company posts financial gains.

DTE is attempting to raise health care costs to union members, cut or eliminate health care coverage to retirees, and strip employment security for Local 223 workers, the union said.

‘DTE is posting huge profits. It only had to share its success with its union workers,’ Harrison said in a statement.

Some sort of settlement was reached between workers and DTE.

http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20100602/FREE/100609951#.

Michigan imports most of its coal at a high price. A study by Union of Concerned Scientists ranked states relative to importing coal and compared with other states, Michigan:

Imported the 5th most in net weight: 36 million tons

Spent the 7th most on net imports: $1.36 billion that went outside of the state

Is the 9th most dependent on net imports as a share of total power use:
60 percent

http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/clean_energy/Burning-Coal-Burning-Cash_full-report.pdf.

And building or even expanding a plant that is unnecessary because electricity demand has dropped in MI ends up costing us plenty for nothing both moneywise and to our health.

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/08/06/coal-fired-plants-in-trouble-with-federal-state-governments/.

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Murkowski Bill Defeated

The Murkowski bill meant to strip the EPA of its authority to regulate green house gases failed in the senate today 53/47. According to grist.org, “Every one of the Senate’s 41 Republicans — including ‘moderates’ considered possible ‘Yes’ votes for climate legislation — voted in favor of it, along with six Democrats: Mary Landrieu (La.), Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Ben Nelson (N.D.), Evan Bayh (Ind.), and Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.).”

The idea behind not only this bill but one introduced by Jay Rockefeller earlier is to put authority to regulate greenhouse gases in the hands of congress not in the hands of what many referred to as an “unregulated agency” regarding the EPA. Imagine the lobbyists that will be unleashed? As far as the EPA being an unregulated agency, yahoo.answers.com states:

The EPA is an independent agency, but in practical real terms the Agency must answer to Congress, the President, the nation. Congress funds the programs, and the Agency must be responsive to congressional inquiries, and the laws they establish. The political appointees are responsive to the President. Also, OMB (office of mgt and budget) is a player in the mix.

If the push to get regulating away from the EPA and in the hands of congress succeeds before the end of the year, (the EPA can regulate greenhouse gas emissions in January of 2011), more than likely the the cap and trade program will be implemented by congress and it will be forever before polluting industry gets around to reducing their emissions. Example, the acid rain program is a cap and trade program that caps emissions for SO2 and NOx. Phase 1 began in 95. Phase 2 in 2000. SO2 scrubbers are just now being installed in coalburners? Many in congress believe that cap and trade is a good enough incentive to curb emissions quickly—not so much.

And according to the Grist, The cap-and-trade system in the climate bill is run by the EPA, as a title under the Clean Air Act . So we’re back to the EPA again anyway.

Read more about it:

http://blogs.wvgazette.com/coaltattoo/2010/06/08/the-murkowski-bill-does-sen-jay-rockfeller-want-to-be-on-record-protesting-climate-science/.

http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/102161-rockefeller-to-join-gop-to-vote-against-epa-climate-rules.

http://www.epa.gov/airmarkets/progsregs/arp/index.html.

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Governor’s Urge Congress for National Renewable Portfolio Standards

A bipartisan group of 29 governors across America called the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition is urging congress for National Renewable Portfolio Standards “to provide a minimum 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources like wind, solar, geothermal and biopower, by 2012. Over half of the states in the nation already have enacted some form of renewable electricity standard,” according to an article on ENS.

Iowa governor Chet Culver (D) is the Coalition’s chairperson, and Rhode Island’s governor Donald Carcieri (R) is the co-chair. Governor Culver would like to see a “national renewable energy standard of 25 percent by 2025, which he says could create more than 300,000 green jobs.” The governors just released “Great Expectations: U.S. Wind Energy Development, the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition’s 2010 Recommendations.” According to the same article the recommendations urge Congress to:

Adopt a Renewable Electricity Standard.

Develop new interstate electric transmission system infrastructure as needed to provide access to premier renewable energy resources both onshore and offshore.

Fully support coastal, deep water, and offshore wind energy technology and transmission research and development.

Streamline permitting processes for both offshore and onshore wind energy development projects.

Expand the U.S. Department of Energy’s work with the states and the wind industry to accelerate innovation.

Extend the Treasury Department Grant Program in Lieu of the Investment Tax Credit, and adopt a long-term renewable energy production tax credit with provisions to broaden the pool of eligible investors.
The article has a lot of information in it. The governor’s involved have experience from their own state’s success with alternative energy. The best thing if this is enacted is that “actual transmission investment should flow from successful renewable power projects that can offer to purchasers the lowest delivered price of power for their product.” Yessss.

This push by governors is a thumb’s up for energy reform. After reading this it doesn’t appear the commercials on TV about energy reform raising taxes on the middle class hold water. Especially when the governor’s cited, “42 percent of all new power plants installed in the nation in 2008 are powered by wind.” So almost half of new U.S. power plants are already independent of fossil fuel.

The governors also addressed the cost of a national renewable energy system for interstate transmission “estimated to [to be] on the order of $75 to $100 billion to support economic power transfers and meet the 20 percent of renewable energy standard.” The governors’ report stated, “This investment can be obtained from the private sector, since current investments in transmission throughout the nation are now in the range of $5 billion to $10 billion a year from private sources.” Hmmm?

Read it:http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2010/2010-03-16-02.html.

http://www.governorswindenergycoalition.org/.

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Texas, the Biggest U.S. Polluter, Challenges EPA/Clean Air Act

Texas produces 35% of our entire nation’s toxic emissions and doesn’t want to change. So Texas has just challenged the EPA relative to regulating greenhouse gas emissions. From what I’ve read it’s state’s rights versus federal according to Texas governor Rick Perry. He claims Texas is doing a fine job of monitoring emissions and getting them under control, and for the EPA to suddenly come down on Texas will cost the state jobs and the involved industries millions that will be passed down to the consumer. He and others also “site ‘scientifically flawed studies’ as their basis for challenging the agency’s decision.” Sorry climate change aside, CO2, SO2, and other greenhouse gases have been found to be detrimental to respiratory health by our own government agency. This challenge is nothing but a stall.

The Dallas Morning News website reported that the other challengers are “the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a think tank and conservative advocacy outfit; the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, an organized group of climate-change skeptics; and the Science and Environmental Policy Act, which has challenged the United Nations over findings that buttressed previous climate-change treaties. Greenwire says in its story yesterday that Freedomworks, the advocacy group headed by former Rep. Dick Armey of Denton County, is also involved in the challenge.”

http://energyandenvironmentblog.dallasnews.com/archives/tceq/.

Let’s look at the assertions the governor made. Is Texas doing a fine job of taking care of its pollution? Well not so much. According to an article on Center for Public Integrity’s website, Texas has been caught doing a lot of dirty stuff to their citizens for years.

In October, 2003, in the space of three hours, while the 94,000-plus inhabitants of Tyler slept nearby, Martin Lake [Steam Electric Station] pumped more than 150,000 pounds of sulfur dioxide into the East Texas air. The pollution was more than eight times the plant’s hourly emissions limits under federal regulations. Sulfur dioxide air pollution, as environmentalists, regulators, and TXU officials have known for many years, helps trigger asthma attacks and other respiratory diseases.

After the October 2003 event, TXU reported the emissions overage to TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality). But a comparison between EPA and TCEQ records shows that the company gave a far lower emissions figure to state officials than the smokestack monitor registered.

Hmmm. They lied. The same article continued:

[]A three-month review of federal and state records by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit journalism organization, suggests [the above wasn't a one time incident]. The review, encompassing 25 million data entries spanning 10 years, shows that between 1997 and 2006, TXU’s coal-fired plants exceeded federal sulfur dioxide emission limits nearly 650 times, spewing more than 1.3 million pounds of excess sulfur dioxide into the Texas air.

Read what the USGS, a government agency, has to say about excesses of SO2, CO2, and hydrogen fluoride relative to volcanic eruptions and regardless of climate change:

The volcanic gases that pose the greatest potential hazard to people, animals, agriculture, and property are sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen fluoride. Locally, sulfur dioxide gas can lead to acid rain and air pollution downwind from a volcano. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is a colorless gas with a pungent odor that irritates skin and the tissues and mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and throat. Sulfur dioxide chiefly affects upper respiratory tract and bronchi. The World Health Organization recommends a concentration of no greater than 0.5 ppm over 24 hours for maximum exposure. A concentration of 6-12 ppm can cause immediate irritation of the nose and throat; 20 ppm can cause eye irritation; 10,000 ppm will irritate moist skin within minutes.

.

TXU went over 8 times the hourly emissions limit for the Martin Lake plant

The Center for Public Integrity website also stated: “Childhood asthma affected about 3 percent of the population in the 1960s, but that figure has climbed above 9 percent, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control. In Fort Worth, a 2003 city health department survey found that asthma rates here were more than double the statewide average, and even higher for children.”

Governor Rick is wrong. Texas is not doing a good job of self regulation. Self regulation is nothing better than the fox guarding the henhouse because industry has no ethics anymore. For instance: “TXU was by no means the only polluter given a free pass by TCEQ. The records gathered by the Center show that, again and again in Texas, air quality enforcement came at the point of a citizen lawsuit, not from the agency.” Texas needs regulations from a higher place because I don’t think things are about to change in the near future in Texas:

As the largest energy provider in Texas, TXU has established an exceptional degree of influence in the Texas statehouse, through a network of high-profile lobbyists and political connections.

In spring 2007 when legislation to increase public oversight over the TXU buyout process was pending in the Senate, TXU and its buyers unleashed a powerhouse lobbying team including former state legislators Curtis Seidlits, Jr., Rudy Garza, Eddie Cavazos, Paul Sadler, and Stan Schlueter, and former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk.

According to Texans for Public Justice, TXU and two investor groups spent approximately $17 million during the 2007 Texas legislative session on lobbyists, advertising, food and beverages, entertainment and gifts – including sending 2,400 tacos to legislators and their aides on the first day of the session.

http://www.publicintegrity.org/projects/entry/363/.

There you have it, polluters spending millions to keep polluting, and whining at the same time that it will cost them millions to curb it. Again, what is known as “scrubbers” for coalburners were around in the 60′s. These scrubbers don’t do a thing for CO2 but do reduce SO2 emissions. And there was a Clean Coal Technology Program launched by the DOE in 1986.

It was a cost-shared effort by government and industry to demonstrate innovative coal-burning processes at a series of full-scale facilities around the country and was expected to finance more than $5 billion in projects before it was completed later in the decade. Under the program, the federal government provided up to 50 percent of the total cost of the demonstration projects. In the first two rounds of solicitation for proposals, the DOE selected 29 projects for funding. In the second round, held in the summer of 1988, seven of the 16 successful proposals involved the use of both wet and dry scrubber systems.

Where was TXU? It obviously didn’t take advantage of that program. I think I read somewhere that now it costs around 650 million dollars on average to put scrubbers on coalburners. It’s industry’s problem for not moving faster on behalf of the health and safety of citizens. Does a little over a half billion dollars constitute hardship for big industry that nets billions per quarter?

http://www.allbusiness.com/professional-scientific/scientific-research-development/120873-1.html.

Analysts like Al Armendariz, a chemical engineering professor at Southern Methodist University who is an expert on air pollution and an environmental advocate, said smaller and older facilities could face hefty costs, but major companies won’t feel a thing.

“They’ll say, ‘Look, if we have to spend half a million dollars to re-permit, big deal.’ They probably spend more than that on toiletries for those facilities,” he said, noting that even multimillion-dollar expenses would be a “one-time capital blip” for major companies. Armendariz also said he doubts industry claims that consumers could feel any pain.

http://www.allbusiness.com/professional-scientific/scientific-research-development/120873-1.html.

Al might doubt consumers will feel the pain, but it looks like in Texas and everywhere else the cards are already stacked against the average citizen’s health concerns. As for taxes, have you noticed all the petro commercials airing lately using the fear card…”Prices for consumers will go up. Consumers will be taxed more if the big bad government cracks down on industry pollution and tries to further alternatives.” Industry is already on the move to make Al eat his words.

Taxes and our health and well being should not be pitted against each other like a threat. We’ve been plied with fear for a decade. Consumers should not bear the expense to finance the changes polluting industries will have to make in the future to “clean up” because they failed to make them long ago when it would have been far less expensive. Likewise the consumer should not bear the guilt of any of the health problems that could have been avoided especially in children. Gotta laugh at that one since TXU, the governor of Texas, and anyone else who challenged the EPA obviously feels no remorse for anyone suffering respiratory illnesses at their hands. After all they provided jobs where workers could breathe a toxic brew everyday.

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Nuclear Power Getting a Second Start

Nuclear power is getting a second start in the U.S. with president Obama’s recent thumbs up for 2 nuke plants in Georgia. The president will roll out the first nuclear plant loan guarantee next week. From what I read, the article stated Southern Company/Georgia Power is building the 2 new plants right on the Plant Vogtle site in Georgia.
http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/80993-obama-to-roll-out-first-nuclear-plant-loan-guarantees-.

Stephen Smith, head of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy says that everyone is concerned with what to do with the nuclear waste, that there is currently no national repository for it. Smith also said that nuclear power plants are extremely expensive to build and the same amount of money, (in the billions), could be used for conservation programs, to build greener buildings, wind production, and to take advantage of the biomass opportunities in GA. The head of Georgia Power is all for renewable energy, especially the biomass market, and responded on CNN that he agreed with Stephen Smith.

My greatest concern is about the radioactive waste too. Waste has always been the biggest drawback to nuke plants. But like I said about the Fermi project, the property is already purchased and radioactive waste is already present, likewise for Plant Vogtle. Georgia Power is simply using the same site for newer facilities. Besides, in the past few decades since any reactors were built in the U.S., science has been working frantically to come up with ways to either disable radioactive material and/or shorten the time for radioactive material to dissipate from millions of years to only hundreds of years.

Here are links to some viable possibilities for limiting radioactive waste produced by nuke plants. There is so much coming out of India these days, I can’t begin to tell you. I’m not surprised that a team of German and Indian scientists have come up with a polymer that absorbs cobalt, so it reduces the amount of radioactive waste produced during routine operation of nuclear reactors. When I read about this I thought of the gel like beads that absorb excess water for release later. This process won’t disable radioactive waste but it will decrease the amount we have to dispose of.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090511090842.htm.

There is also a process that may increase the deactivation time for radioactive waste from millions of years to 300-500 years. While this still seems like a lot of time, it’s a start and sounds like something we really need to get moving on if we’re going to start building nukes again.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080922100148.htm.

Here is a government website that lists all the methods to deal with radioactive waste. We may as well get informed, because nuclear is happening.

http://www.ocrwm.doe.gov/factsheets/doeymp0017.shtml.

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The Term “Clean” is a Stretch for Michigan’s New Coalburner When it Comes to CO2

The term “clean” is still a stretch if it’s used to describe coal relative to CO2. I have to laugh when I read articles about “clean” coal. Very seldom is the process of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) ever mentioned. That is the latest technology that actually catches CO2 before it’s emitted into the atmosphere. It’s a huge and extremely costly process that captures all the garbage spewing forth, extracts the CO2 away from the other stuff, liquefies it, and at some later point the liquefied CO2 is forced into the ground under great pressure. OMG! I read this process and the enormous price tag. I don’t think it’s worth it.
http:// http://www.eenews.net/public/climatewire/2009/09/14/1.

So CCS is not a process being used at many coalburners these days. Instead utilities like to tout the use of what are termed “scrubbers” that remove pollutants. They do remove sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury but notice there is no mention of CO2? Scrubbers don’t remove that. But considering they do remove the other pollutants, scrubbers are good and a step in the right direction. They should have been in place on every coalburner that went up from the 80′s on because that technology has been around for quite awhile. But the cost for scrubbers runs in the hundreds of millions. Ahhh. Scrubbers are just now being widely installed to comply with the Clean Air Act, and we’re supposed to pat the utilities on the back for being so green, give em big thumbs up. Better late than never—I guess. And so it goes for Consumers Power in Michigan.

Consumer’s Power has just been granted an air permit for one of these self-described “clean” coalburners. It’s planned for the Bay City area and is also billed as a “clean” coal plant by the “Building Tradesman” paper. Of course it will have the latest scrubbers that remove the sulfur, nitrogen, and mercury, but not CO2. Remember, scrubbers have been around since the 70′s. The new plant will not be a CCS plant either. The reason it’s “clean” is because of the offsets Consumer’s promised. Consumers will shut down 5 of its oldest coalburners and possibly 2 more if they are not needed and replace them with this new 830 MW plant that will spew only 830 MW worth of CO2 instead of up to 958 MW of combined CO2 from the others. The term “up to” leaves some wiggle room. This will more than likely be an Even-Steven trade off but not until 2017 when the plant is supposed to be finished.

So in 2017 when we should really be winding down on pollution and gearing up with other alternatives we’ve really advanced on since 2010, Michigan will have a brand new CO2 spewing plant going on line, and the 1800 direct jobs, and 2,500 indirect jobs it maintained will be over. One hundred people will work there. Let’s hope world competition and pressure, the climate, and an economy headed in a greener direction doesn’t put a big, big damper on this future, fossil fuel burner.

Read the article: http://www.detroitbuildingtrades.org/paper.html#article1.

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GM Produces First Lithium Ion Battery Pack in Michigan Plant

GM rolled its first lithium-ion battery pack off the line at its Brownstown facility today. Michigan is ahead of the game on this one. This is the first battery assembly plant of its kind in the country. If the Chevy Volt spurs the competition to create battery powered vehicles all around, Michigan may have planted the roots of a burgeoning green industry that could expand to plenty more jobs.

But even more importantly, it seems that anytime there is a new invention there is also a propensity to improve on the original at an accelerated rate. In other words, it takes forever to get a new product to market, but once it hits, other products like it seem to appear immediately, and both competition and supply drive the price down while improvements on the original to make it smaller, stronger, faster, and/or better happens far more quickly than getting the original to market.

I have complete faith that in the not too distant future we will have miniscule batteries powering larger cars to go farther and faster. I can see where a solar recharging unit is not out of the question if we can find more efficient conductors for solar–buy the car, buy the solar charger with it. If solar panels get smaller and stronger than it’s quite conceivable that they could exist anywhere to renew the car batteries. I stake small solar panels in the ground in the summer to run water fountains in my yard. And I know I’ve read conversations on blogs that suggested the dock for the power to the car should accept DC just for that purpose. There is wasted energy expended converting DC to AC to begin with. If the car accepted DC, the current from the solar panel would be immediate with more power for a quicker charge. Even if solar didn’t supply all the power needed it would surely help defray the cost of the electricity.

And what about the environmental costs of using electricity to replenish the batteries? As it stands now, it is a wasted effort environmentally because most electricity is generated from coal. Until utility companies capture coal burning emissions, battery powered cars may be short on fumes per se, but plugging them into an A/C outlet is still serving up a cocktail of bad juju into the air with a mercury chaser to boot.

We’d better consider solar rechargers at some point. The power produced would be free—of many things.

Read the whole article: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100107/AUTO01/1070450/First-Volt-battery-pack-rolls-off-line.

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Native Americans Stand Up for the Environment and Sue the Secy. of State, and Army Corp. of Engineers

The Native American community is standing up for the environment in the form of a lawsuit against Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Deputy Secy. James Steinbridge, and the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers over Enbridge Energy’s Alberta Clipper pipeline set to “deliver 450,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day to be pumped from northern Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin, for refining,” according to an article on ENS.

Evidently, the pipeline crosses Native American soil without their approval. It would also “impact over 200 water bodies and would destroy more than 1,200 acres of upland forested lands, more than 650 acres of open lands, and more than 1,300 acres of wetlands.” The Native Americans have support in the legal system through major Environmental Groups like Earthjustice, the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation and state environmental groups also.

Tar sand oil is some of the dirtiest and the Native Americans say that the pipeline is not is not keeping the ideology of moving toward cleaner energy promoted by the Obama Administration and that the Obama Administration is not listening to the petitions and voices of a growing number of Americans that want to move to a cleaner future for America.

I have to reiterate here that after the presidential election the number one issue people were concerned about was 1) NATIONAL HEALTH CARE, and 2) THE ENVIRONMENT. I was happy to hear that and blogged about it. I have to admit that I was a little surprised that the Iraq war was not in the one or two slot. I was also surprised to see the Obama Administration put so many conservative leaning politicians at the head of many of the Departments within the government relative to the environment and animal welfare like Ken Salazar, who to me is not any better than Kempthorne that headed up the Dept. of Interior under Bush. Salazar is nothing but a Blue Dog Democrat (might as well be a Republican) RANCHER, and therefore, the plight of polar bear has been ignored and we’re now slaughtering wolves in Yellowstone park even though they never grew to the numbers they were supposed to before control measures were needed.

Just so you know, we’re slaughtering wolves claiming they are over running their numbers when in fact 27% of all wolf pups suffered horrible deaths due to the parvo virus that can strike our own dogs. Nature balances many of our wild animal populations, plus we infringe on them horribly through urban sprawl and loss of habitat, and our pollution, but we insist on hunting them anyway because of the power of the HUNTING LOBBY and glorified NRA.

I’m glad Native Americans are finally speaking out to protect the land that was rightfully theirs to begin with. Hopefully, they will support efforts to keep wolves protected too since wolves have long been an honored part of their culture also.

Read more: http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/sep2009/2009-09-03-091.asp

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