Trump Administration proposes to sell protected land in Arizona for fracking

May 23, 2018 by  
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The Trump Administration has announced a proposal to sell 4,200 acres of public, protected land in northern Arizona for oil and gas development. The area in question crosses the Little Colorado River and is located only three miles from Petrified Forest National Park. It also is close to the habitat for the Little Colorado spinedace, a threatened species of fish. Oil and gas industrial activity, such as fracking , could also threaten the groundwater in the Little Colorado River Basin, potentially affecting drinking water. In September, the Bureau of Land Management is planning to auction the land to the highest bidder, without sufficient environmental and public review. The Center for Biological Diversity is pushing back against the Trump Administration as it advances its pro-industry agenda. “This dangerous plan puts national parks, precious groundwater and wildlife in the crosshairs. We’ll do everything we can to stop it,” said Taylor McKinnon at the Center for Biological Diversity . “Fracking is a dirty, dangerous business that consumes enormous amounts of water and threatens wildlife and public health. Northern Arizonans won’t tolerate public lands being sacrificed as gifts from Trump to the fossil fuel industry.” Related: France completely bans fracking and oil extraction Under guidelines issued in January 2018 by the Trump Administration, the Bureau of Land Management has made several assumptions in its approval process and has delayed any detailed analysis until the drilling permit stage. At that point, the site will already have been sold for oil and gas development. “Fracking or drilling development could be catastrophic for the region’s groundwater,” McKinnon said. “This is Trump’s energy dominance policy at work, where nothing matters except fossil-fuel interests.” The Center for Biological Diversity previously sued the Trump Administration for its expedited oil and gas development policy in Colorado and Ohio, and sued once again in April after the administration enacted a more widespread policy of sidelining the public interest at the Bureau of Land Management. + Center for Biological Diversity Via EcoWatch Images via  Glenn Scofield Williams ,  Chris English  and  Scott Loarie

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Trump Administration proposes to sell protected land in Arizona for fracking

Waymo adds 20,000 Jaguar electric SUVs to its self-driving car service

March 27, 2018 by  
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Waymo, an autonomous vehicle company owned by Google ‘s parent company Alphabet, will add 20,000 all-electric Jaguar I-PACE SUVs to its self-driving car fleet over the next two years. The stylish I-PACE SUV will be one of several vehicles available for use in the company’s self-driving car service set to open in 2018. “This year in 2018, starting in Phoenix, Arizona — members of the public will be able to take these fully self-driving cars anywhere within our service area,” Waymo CEO John Krafcik said . “To work, to school, to the grocery store. Anywhere they’d go with a typical car.” Waymo’s Arizona debut comes amid the recent news that an Arizona woman was struck and killed by a self-driving car operated by Waymo’s rival Uber. Waymo recently reached a $245 million settlement with Uber over allegations that Uber had stolen trade secrets regarding Waymo’s LIDAR system. The Arizona Department of Transportation has suspended Uber from testing its autonomous vehicles in the state, while Waymo remains on the road. Uber has also shut-down similar autonomous vehicle programs in Toronto, San Francisco and Pittsburgh while investigations into the crash continue. Related: Poor urban design could be at fault for Uber driverless car crash The 20,000 Waymo I-PACE SUVs would be capable of servicing up to one million rides per day. In expanding its operations, Waymo emphasizes its safety record. “We’ve created 20,000 individual test scenarios for our cars to test on,” said Krafcik. The announcement of a substantial vehicle fleet for the Phoenix roll-out demonstrates that Waymo has taken a significant step forward in the race to pioneer the world of self-driving cars . The upcoming trials should demonstrate the challenges and opportunities of autonomous vehicles in greater detail. Via Mashable Images via Waymo

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Waymo adds 20,000 Jaguar electric SUVs to its self-driving car service

Uber grounds all self-driving vehicles after fatal Arizona accident

March 20, 2018 by  
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A woman died in Tempe, Arizona on Sunday following a collision with an autonomous Uber vehicle, and the company has since halted all of its self-driving operations. Elaine Herzberg, 49, was reportedly pushing a bicycle full of plastic bags when she abruptly shifted from a center median into a lane of traffic, according to the San Francisco Chronicle . Tempe police chief Sylvia Moir said that it would have been difficult for any vehicle, autonomous or otherwise, to have avoided the collision. Some incredibly sad news out of Arizona. We’re thinking of the victim’s family as we work with local law enforcement to understand what happened. https://t.co/cwTCVJjEuz — dara khosrowshahi (@dkhos) March 19, 2018 Although there was a person behind the wheel at the time, the Uber vehicle was in autonomous mode when Herzberg walked into traffic. “The driver said it was like a flash, the person walked out in front of them,” Moir said. “His first alert to the collision was the sound of the collision.” Related: Uber rolls out autonomous cars in Arizona The paper also reported the car was traveling 38mph in a 35mph zone and made no effort to brake. A spokesperson for the National Transportation Safety Board told Engadget the agency is sending a team to Tempe to investigate the accident. Uber is cooperating with authorities in the ongoing investigation. In the meantime, ABC affiliate KNXV reports the company has halted operations in Phoenix, Pittsburg, San Francisco and Toronto. Via KNXV , SF Chronicle , Engadget Images via Uber

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Uber grounds all self-driving vehicles after fatal Arizona accident

26,000 tons of radioactive waste sits at the bottom of Lake Powell

March 6, 2018 by  
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Located on the Arizona – Utah border, Lake Powell serves the drinking water needs of 40 million people in the Southwest while welcoming over 3 million recreational visitors every year. However, what lies beneath may give pause to those who depend on the lake. OZY reports that silt on the lake bed covers 26,000 tons of radioactive waste. A remnant from the mid-century uranium boom in the American West, the radioactive stockpile is not thought to be particularly dangerous. Still, even trace amounts can increase the risk of anemia, fractured teeth, cataracts and cancer, dangers which become potentially more active if Lake Powell suffers an extended drought. At the moment, Lake Powell seems safe. “The uranium mill tailings produce a sandy waste that contains heavy metals and radium, which is radioactive , but these tailings have been down there since around the 1950s, with several feet of sediment placed over top of them and the water used as a moderator, or a shield,” Phil Goble, uranium mill and radioactive materials section manager for the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, told OZY . However, the radioactive waste is not entirely benign, particularly if conditions change. “The tailings could potentially become a problem if Lake Powell gets to a very, very low water level or if the lake is drained, and the tailings are exposed,” Goble said. “In this case, if someone were to dig down and expose those tailings, or the wind blows them, or people use the spot for recreational use of off-road vehicles, then there could be a health hazard.” Related: Scientists puzzle over mysterious disappearance of mercury from Utah’s Great Salt Lake Lake Powell is a manmade lake carved from the surrounding red rock canyon and has not been completely full since the late 1990s. In the early years of the 2000s, it suffered a serious drought in which water levels dropped nearly 100 feet, or one-fifth of the lake’s full depth. Given the increased threat of climate change-related drought, it is not so difficult to imagine a situation in which Lake Powell’s water level drops enough to expose the radioactive waste to the surface environment. In the meantime, scientists are monitoring the lake while locals are encouraged to keep drinking from and playing in the beautiful body of water . Via OZY Images via Deposit Photos and Deposit Photos

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26,000 tons of radioactive waste sits at the bottom of Lake Powell

Bill Gates buys a huge chunk of land in Arizona to create a ‘smart city’

November 13, 2017 by  
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Bill Gates  is purchasing 25,000 acres of land in the West Valley area of Arizona, 45 minutes west of Phoenix, with the intent of building a high-tech “smart city” named Belmont. “Belmont will create a forward-thinking community with a communication and infrastructure spine that embraces cutting-edge technology, designed around high-speed digital networks, data centers, new manufacturing technologies and distribution models, autonomous vehicles and autonomous logistics hubs,” said Belmont Partners, the real estate firm involved in the purchase, in a press statement. The purchase, made by an investment firm run by Gates, cost $80 million and will be developed along the proposed freeway I-11, which would connect Belmont to Las Vegas and other major hubs of the region. Although Gates has given the project a new boost of funding and publicity, the planned community of Belmont, Arizona has been in the works since the 1990s. Although the housing crash put a damper on the city’s development, the regional real estate market has since recovered. The city also is banking on the parallel development of I-11, a proposed interstate highway that would run through Belmont to Las Vegas. The first section of I-11, near Boulder City, Arizona, was opened in August 2017. Related: Bill Gates launches $1 billion clean energy fund to fight climate change 3,800 acres of the proposed community will be used for office, retail and commercial space while an additional 470 acres will be set aside for public schools . The remaining space is enough land for 80,000 residential units. “Comparable in square miles and projected population to Tempe, Arizona, Belmont will transform a raw, blank slate into a purpose-built edge city built around a flexible infrastructure model,” said Belmont Properties in a statement. When completed, Belmont will join Arcosanti , an ecologically-inspired experimental town to the north of Phoenix, as one of the region’s most high-profile planned communities. Via Popular Mechanics and The Republic Images via Gisela Giardino/Flickr and  Depositphotos

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Bill Gates buys a huge chunk of land in Arizona to create a ‘smart city’

7.3-magnitude earthquake hits Iran and Iraq, killing hundreds

November 13, 2017 by  
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  More than 300 people are dead after a 7.3 magnitude earthquake yesterday. The quake, which struck the northern border region between Iran and Iraq , killed hundreds of people in Iran and at least six people in Iraq. The BBC said this is the world’s deadliest earthquake this year. The 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck 32 kilometers, or around 20 miles, south of Halabjah, Iraq, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), at 21:18 local time. Iranian media said at least 14 provinces in the country were impacted, but Kermanshah was hit the hardest. Thousands of people were injured – the BBC gave the number as over 7,000. The town of Sarpol-e-Zahab had the most victims – and it was hard for people to receive medical care as the town’s main hospital was severely damaged. Related: New super concrete makes buildings strong enough to withstand magnitude 9 earthquakes Many homes in the mountainous area were built with mud bricks , according to the BBC, putting them at risk of collapse during a strong earthquake such as this one. Rescuers worked to find survivors beneath collapsed buildings, and some teams were hindered by mudslides . Embed from Getty Images window.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’aLQg7guVSqpAXLNVtA0m7A’,sig:’hHuNL1AV0_nt58qsjJfq6zIN3hrLkz3TwevBjgcHOEc=’,w:’594px’,h:’396px’,items:’873538724′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })}); Baghdad residents felt the earthquake; local Majida Ameer told Reuters, “I was sitting with my kids having dinner and suddenly the building was just dancing in the air. I thought at first that it was a huge bomb. But then I heard everyone around me screaming: ‘Earthquake!’” Reuters quoted the head of Iranian Red Crescent as saying over 70,000 people needed shelter following the quake. Many people left their homes to go outside in cold weather in fear of aftershocks – and so far there have been around 153, according to the Iranian seismological center, with more expected. Embed from Getty Images window.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’uFcvJSipSvVSR9z0J52gzw’,sig:’spq5txH69X6BtLZTpp28fC0ql-oXpfbpPsw-m9AZ1RE=’,w:’594px’,h:’396px’,items:’873514006′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })}); According to Reuters, Iran rests across major fault lines , and is prone to tremors. This one hit at a depth of 23.2 kilometers, around 14.4 miles, and was reportedly felt in Kuwait, Israel, and Turkey. The BBC said it’s the deadliest quake Iran has experienced since 2012. It’s the sixth earthquake with a magnitude of seven or more this year – as opposed to 16 in 2016 and 19 in 2015. Via Reuters and the BBC Images via Reuters video and the United States Geological Survey

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7.3-magnitude earthquake hits Iran and Iraq, killing hundreds

How the upcoming solar eclipse will affect 7 million homes and businesses

August 14, 2017 by  
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A total solar eclipse will block sunlight from reaching parts of the Earth for an estimated three hours on August 21. As a result, at least 7 million U.S. homes and businesses that rely on solar power will be directly affected. But there’s no reason to be nervous: electric grid and skilled operators are well-prepared. A total solar eclipse is a rare phenomenon which occurs when the moon passes directly between the Earth and the sun . Though it will disrupt solar generation during times of peak generation, the event is not one to fear. According to Julia Prochnik , the Director of Western Renewable Grid Planning, people will not notice any change in their electrical service as electric grid operators across the country have made appropriate preparations. The last time citizens in the U.S. glimpsed a solar eclipse was in 1979, when solar energy was in its infancy. In the time that has passed, the energy system has changed significantly. Wind and solar energy are now the fastest-growing sources of renewable electricity in the U.S. Prochnik says that some states will see a larger drop in solar power than others; it all depends on how much the sun is blocked by the moon in their specific location. Fortunately, there are plenty of energy resources available to “fill the gap,” and they include geothermal , wind and hydropower. Related: Coming Total Solar Eclipse to be an ‘event of the century’, scientists say NASA reports that the solar eclipse will block a 70-mile-wide path stretching from Oregon to South Carolina. The longest period of total darkening will be about two minutes and 40 seconds. Nationwide, the moon will still block at least a portion of the sun. At any one spot, the longest period of partial darkness may last three hours. Arizona can expect to experience a brief interruption in 70 percent of its rooftop solar generation. New York follows with 68 percent, Utah can expect a 39 percent, and Nevada a 24 percent interruption. California and North Carolina may experience the biggest impacts from the eclipse, as they are both major solar producers. The difference can be compensated by reducing energy use and/or by temporarily drawing electricity from the grid. A few things environmentally-conscious individuals can do to prepare for the eclipse is replace all light bulbs with LEDs , turn off lights, unplug chargers and appliances, and turn down their thermostats. All of these steps will help save energy and reduce load grid pressure. All in all, the celestial event is one to celebrate, as it is one few will likely witness again. Via NRDC Images via Pixabay

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How the upcoming solar eclipse will affect 7 million homes and businesses

George Bandy on the genius and courage of dreaming

May 22, 2017 by  
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“Why are you in this line of work?” George Bandy Jr., vice president of sustainability at the Mohawk Group, asked the audience of sustainability professionals gathered at GreenBiz 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona.

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This village in Arizona has a simple solution to light pollution

April 28, 2017 by  
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Residents of Arizona Sky Village abide by one simple rule: “Turn off your goddammed lights .” The 21-household community near Portal, Arizona is comprised of stargazers and astronomers, and almost every home has its own domed observatory. But some people also wonder if the small community could hold the secrets of fighting light pollution in America. In Arizona Sky Village, clear night skies are a major priority. There are no outdoor lights allowed, and every single window in every home must have blackout curtains. Nighttime driving isn’t forbidden, but it’s discouraged, and most residents are too busy gazing at the stars to drive anyway. Co-founder Jack Newton condensed it all into that one colorful rule: turn off those lights! Related: What City Skies Would Look Like Without Light Pollution Newton, who is nearly 75, said he spends “90 percent of my time up in my dome.” He’s made three supernova discoveries in 2017 alone, and the International Astronomical Union christened an asteroid 30840 Jackalice after him and his wife Alice. He doesn’t even own the largest telescope in the community; that honor goes to neighbor Rick Beno , who has a 24-inch telescope. Many residents once had scientific careers and now spend their retirement in Arizona Sky Village – like retired NASA astrophysicist Fred Espenak – but Newton managed department stores during his career. Few Americans benefit from the starry skies of Arizona Sky Village. The American Astronomical Society says people have a universal right to starlight; but around 99 percent of Americans actually live with a constant sky glow, according to The Guardian. Light pollution isn’t just bad for stargazing; it could have an impact on health as well. Blue lights streaming from cellphones and laptops have led to insomnia in some users and evidence isn’t conclusive yet but some studies suggest changing the light and dark rhythms in our bodies could increase the risk of diabetes, obesity, and cancer. International Dark Sky Association astronomer John Barentine said in Arizona Sky Village, “the people are already practicing what we recommend.” Kitt Peak National Observatory director Lori Allen told The Guardian to help keep skies dark, “There are three simple things people can do. Shield their lights, dim their lights, and use the right color bulbs.” Via The Guardian Images via John Fowler on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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This village in Arizona has a simple solution to light pollution

Modpools turns shipping containers into amazing swimming pools

April 28, 2017 by  
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We’ve seen shipping containers transformed into homes , shops , and even urban farms – but Modpools gives these repurposed structures a whole new life as backyard swimming pools . Modpools are easy to install and transport, and they come with a series of cool features including heaters, jets, portholes, and LED mood lighting you can control with your smartphone. Modpools are available in 8′ x 20′ or 8′ x 40′ container sizes and they can be installed in no time. By adding a divider, users can even create a temporary or permanent hot tub section. These customizable all-in-one pool systems ship with ready-to-use, built-in pool equipment and a high-tech Ultraviolet system that keeps the water clean without the need for chemicals. Related: ScottWhitbyStudio transforms a shipping container into a pop-up cinema You can install Modpools above ground with raised decking, partially underground with retaining walls, or at ground level. This makes them versatile and easy to adapt to different topographies and backyard sizes. You can add a special touch to your prefab swimming pool by adding a window to the side of the shipping container. + Modpools Via Curbed

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Modpools turns shipping containers into amazing swimming pools

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