South Korea to throw out any plans for new nuclear reactors

June 20, 2017 by  
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South Korea currently obtains around 30 percent of its energy from nuclear power , but with the election of a new president the country seems ready to shift away from that energy source to something a bit safer. President Moon Jae-In – who campaigned on a platform of phasing out nuclear energy – says he will toss out plans to build new reactors and won’t extend the lifespan of existing ones in the country. The 2011 Fukushima disaster in nearby Japan incited concern in South Korea, as many of the country’s nuclear plants were then getting old. According to the country’s new president, many of the plants are located dangerously near residential areas. He said a nuclear meltdown could result in unimaginable consequences. Add to that corruption scandals over state nuclear energy agencies during the last few years and public unease over several earthquakes in South Korea in 2016, since an earthquake sparked the Fukushima meltdown. Related: Finland’s Green Party says humanity must embrace nuclear power Moon echoed these fears when he said, “South Korea is not safe from the risk of earthquake, and a nuclear accident caused by a quake can have such a devastating impact.” South Korea is running 25 nuclear reactors right now. Many of them will expire between 2020 and 2030, leaving the decision to extend several of them or not in Moon’s hands during his 2017 to 2022 term. He campaigned on the idea of shutting down every single one – although that task could take decades. As he decommissioned the Kori-1, South Korea’s first nuclear reactor, Moon said in a speech, “We will dump our atomic-centric power supply and open the door to the post-nuclear era.” He’d like to move towards what he described as more environmentally-friendly and safer energy sources like solar power and wind power . He’s also pledged to promote a post-coal energy policy . During his campaign he said he’d abandon coal to help curb air pollution . Among the member nations of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), South Korea is home to the highest levels of small air particles. The country currently obtains around 40 percent of power from coal. Via Phys.org Images via IAEA Imagebank on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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South Korea to throw out any plans for new nuclear reactors

Rick Perry confirmed as Energy Secretary

March 3, 2017 by  
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With bitter battles over the confirmations of Scott Pruitt as Environmental Protection Agency administrator or Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise the Senate confirmed the slightly less controversial Rick Perry . In a 62 to 37 vote, the former Texas governor slid right into his new role as Energy Secretary. He’ll oversee energy policy , 17 national laboratories, and the United States’ arsenal of nuclear weapons . Perry’s views have come a long way from those he touted during his failed campaigns for president, or so it appears. During his 2012 campaign, he called for the elimination of the Department of Energy , but could not remember the department’s name in a debate. During his recent confirmation hearing, he said he regretted that proposal. Related: Rick Perry tapped to run the Department of Energy – which he once promised to shut down According to The New York Times, people close to Perry said he once thought the Energy Department centered around promoting and developing America’s energy resources – a weighty task in its own right, but it was only after the former governor heard about the agency’s other functions he changed his tune. During his confirmation hearing he said after “being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy,” he now supports its goals. For many years Perry showed complete disdain for the science of climate change , but the Energy Department does deal with the issue through research into energy technologies. It appears Perry has changed his mind on that too. He told senators, “I believe the climate is changing. I believe some of it is naturally occurring, but some of it is also caused by man-made activity.” Some of that man-made activity can be linked to oil and gas companies, such as Energy Transfer Partners , where Perry once sat on the board. To his credit, he did resign from the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline after his appointment, according to The Texas Tribune . During his confirmation hearing he also made a poorly phrased but promising claim: “I am going to protect all of the science, whether it’s related to the climate or other aspects of what we’re going to be doing. I am going to protect the men and women of the scientific community from anyone that would attack them, no matter what their reason may be, at the Department of Energy.” Via The New York Times Images via Gage Skidmore on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Rick Perry confirmed as Energy Secretary

Massachusetts lawmakers sponsor 100% renewable energy bill

February 15, 2017 by  
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Massachusetts could become the first state in America to be powered entirely by renewable energy . Lawmakers recently introduced a bill that would require an economy-wide transition to obtaining power via clean sources like wind and solar, and 53 state legislators from both the House and the Senate have shown support for the measure. The bill, SD. 1932 , also known as the 100 Percent Renewable Energy Act, would set targets of electricity generation via 100 percent renewables by 2035; other sectors like transportation and heating would have until 2050 to make the switch. Over a quarter of legislature members in Massachusetts have now cosponsored the bill, which has been promoted by environmental advocacy group Environment Massachusetts . The organization’s state director Ben Hellerstein said in a statement, “Now is the time for Massachusetts to go big on clean energy . Getting to 100 percent renewable energy is 100 percent possible – and it’s 100 percent necessary.” Related: San Diego to become largest U.S. city to run on 100% renewable energy State Senator Jamie Eldridge, one of three legislators who first filed the bill, pointed out that even if the Trump administration refuses to act on climate change , states can wage their own war. He said in a statement, “Massachusetts has been a leader on alternative energy policy for over a decade, and now with federal assaults on efforts to combat climate change, it will be up to individual states to protect the environmental and health interests of the public.” The bill would launch a Clean Energy Workforce Development Fund to provide employment in renewable technologies; part of the fund would go towards shifting fossil fuel workers into clean fuel jobs . SD. 1932 would also complement Massachusetts’ 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act, which calls for the state to lower carbon emissions by 80 percent under 1990 levels by 2050. The bill’s not law yet, but with so much support from Massachusetts lawmakers, a 100 percent clean energy commitment appears promising. Via Environment Massachusetts Images via Doc Searles on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Massachusetts lawmakers sponsor 100% renewable energy bill

What Trump’s victory means for the environment (it’s not good)

November 9, 2016 by  
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In a shocking upset that has warped our perception of reality, climate change denier Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential race. The newly elected 45th President of the United States has indicated he’ll work to reverse the progress made in the battle against climate change. From pulling out of the Paris climate agreement to promoting fossil fuels to limiting the power of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to undoing President Obama’s work on the Clean Power Plan , Donald Trump’s proposed energy policies may gravely impact the environment. Mere days after the Paris climate agreement went into force, the United States elected an individual who has been on a rampage to jerk the United States out of the historic agreement. The Paris climate agreement was 20 years in the making, and offers a starting point for nations to attempt to alleviate the effects of climate change as people from island nations to Florida are already grappling with climate change-caused sea level rise . Trump has said he’ll yank America out of the agreement, but French environment minister Ségolène Royale said it won’t be so easy for Trump to follow through. She told The Guardian the Paris agreement “prohibits any exit for a period of three years, plus a year-long notice period, so there will be four stable years.” Related: Would a Trump presidency undo the UN climate change agreement? While that statement may provide a sigh of relief for many Americans, Trump will likely also work against progress at home. He said during his campaign he will cancel ” billions in climate change spending ,” putting that money towards “clean water, clean air, and safety.” But his proposed appointment of fellow climate change denier Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute to head an EPA ” transition team ” signals Trump likely wants to undo many of President Obama’s climate policies. For example, under his new limited EPA, government might not strongly enforce Clean Air Act regulations. In terms of energy, Trump’s plans are dirty. He has said we need ” much more than wind and solar ,” pointing instead to something called clean coal. He’s said he wants to tap into American shale gas and even build the Keystone XL pipeline . He supports fracking and regular old coal. As so many of the lines that come from Trump’s mouth are lies, will he follow through on his threats or will he actually work to move the country forward? Either way, he is likely to have the support of a Republican-dominated House and Senate. President Obama was able to pass many clean energy measures by utilizing executive powers, but now Trump will obtain those powers. Time will show how he chooses to use them. Via Grist and The Guardian Images via Gage Skidmore on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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What Trump’s victory means for the environment (it’s not good)

Visitors become hour hands in this temporary museum for luxury watchmaker Piguet

November 9, 2016 by  
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The architectural installation , which Mathieu Lehanneur refers to as The Ring, is nestled within the Yuz Museum of Contemporary Art in Shanghai . Exploring both the rich history of the Audemars Piguet brand and Lehanneur’s interest in combining nature and technology, the Ring aims to be emotionally engaging and informative. Its monolithic exterior is elegant and simple, while the interior is reminscent of the intricate inner mechanisms of Piguet watches. Related: Superstudio Più’s Temporary Museum Leaves a Permanent Impression at Milan Design Week The main entrance leads visitors to 12 open doors, separated by lush green walls, that evoke the hours of a watch dial. This layout converts visitors into imaginary needles that mark the different moments in the brand’s history and its technical innovation. Mathieu Lehanneur said, “This temporary museum is a reflection on time… a dreamy vision of time where each instant differs from the previous one. Here every door opens onto a new story.” + Mathieu Lehanneur

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Visitors become hour hands in this temporary museum for luxury watchmaker Piguet

Shares in world’s largest wind turbine producer slump after Trump wins election

November 9, 2016 by  
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With the shocking election of Donald Trump to the United States presidency, how will energy policy change in America? Perhaps indicative of dark emission-filled days ahead, shares in the world’s largest wind turbine producer slumped after Trump won. Danish company Vestas Wind Systems A/S did plenty of business in the Americas last year, but after the election they traded 6.6 percent less than before the disheartening election results. Trump has fought against wind energy in the past. He sued Scotland back in 2011 after they wanted to build an offshore wind farm near one of his precious golf courses. A lengthy legal battle ensued, with the highest court in Britain finally dismissing Trump’s appeal in late 2015. Related: Donald Trump has a yuge vested interest in the Dakota Access Pipeline As if actively working against a wind farm just because it marred his view wasn’t a red flag, Trump is also well-known for his persistent denial of climate change , including naive tweets spewing his dangerous opinion that climate change is a Chinese hoax. He praised ” clean coal ” – whatever that is – in his second debate against Hillary Clinton , and has already brought on fossil fuel advocate Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) to advise him on energy policy. But Cramer’s backwards vision includes pilfering money from a carbon tax to “help fund clean fossil fuel research and development.” Already the global market appears worried Trump will pursue fossil fuels over renewable energy, even though advanced technology for clean energies like solar and wind is already utilized worldwide. Formuepleje equity strategist Otto Friedrichsen told Bloomberg, “The Vestas share reaction is a result of concerns that Trump will focus more on fossil fuels. Now there’s concern how Vestas will perform in the U.S. under a president who’ll be more interested in looking out for the country’s coal industry .” Vestas has been successful in America in the past; Bloomberg estimates the Americas generated about 41.3 percent of the Danish company’s revenues in 2015. Even so, Bloomberg reported after the election that Vesta shares fell by around 14 percent. Via Bloomberg Images courtesy of Vestas Wind Systems A/S

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Shares in world’s largest wind turbine producer slump after Trump wins election

Australian state announces the country’s first permanent ban on fracking

August 31, 2016 by  
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Australian state Victoria  is taking an unprecedented step after they announced this week that they would protect farmers by banning “onshore unconventional gas,” including fracking . Outcry from local farmers helped push the government to make the historical ban. Victoria is the first Australian state to ban such gas exploration and development. A 2015 Parliamentary Inquiry into Onshore Unconventional Gas in Victoria obtained 1,600 submissions. They found most respondents were against fracking, fearing such practices endangered the agriculture sector in Victoria, public health, and the environment. Dairy farmer Julie Boulton told The Guardian, “It has been so heart-wrenching at times, when we thought the drill rigs were coming and there was nothing we could do. But we pulled together as a community and decided to fight this threat to our farmland, water, and health.” Related: Germany just banned fracking for all practical purposes 190,000 people work in the Victorian agriculture sector. While the gas industry had claimed there would be economic benefits to fracking, research from think tank The Australia Institute appeared to indicate otherwise. They found that when ten gas jobs were created, 18 jobs were lost in agriculture. Many farmers felt fracking would threaten Victoria’s reputation for ” clean, green ” food. The Australia Institute Principal Adviser Mark Ogge said any benefits have nearly all gone to ” overseas owners of global oil and gas companies .” He said the ban is “sound economic and energy policy .” A ” permanent legislative ban ” will be introduced later in 2016 to Parliament, but a “current moratorium” will ensure unconventional gas development and exploration doesn’t occur for now. The ban includes ” exploration and development ” of Victoria unconventional gas, from fracking to coal seam gas. The ban does not cover offshore gas exploration. There are also exemptions for “carbon storage research” and gas storage. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said in a statement, “Victorians have made it clear that they don’t support fracking and that the health and environmental risks involved outweigh any potential benefits.” Via The Guardian Images via Lock the Gate Alliance Facebook

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Australian state announces the country’s first permanent ban on fracking

After COP21, shareholders lobby on behalf of climate

January 22, 2016 by  
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A shareholder initiative started by Walden Asset Management requests that oil and coal companies disclose lobbying activities and review their advocacy on energy policy and climate change.

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After COP21, shareholders lobby on behalf of climate

ICYMI: Energy efficiency gets shoved into the spotlight in U.S., U.K.

July 15, 2013 by  
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Our latest roundup of sustainability news: The good and bad of energy policy, how driverless cars will reshape cities, and Google's climate-skeptic misstep.

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ICYMI: Energy efficiency gets shoved into the spotlight in U.S., U.K.

Q&A with Gov. Patrick on Massachusetts energy policy

May 24, 2013 by  
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After the VERGE conference in Boston last week, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick shared his insights about the state's energy policy.

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Q&A with Gov. Patrick on Massachusetts energy policy

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