DNC reverses pledge to end fossil fuel subsidies

August 20, 2020 by  
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The Democratic presidential and vice-presidential candidates were barely announced before the DNC removed campaign pledges to end fossil fuel subsidies. In the final draft of the Manager’s Mark, the ledger of party demands, that promise was quietly omitted. The July 27 version of the Manager’s Mark included the statement, “Democrats support eliminating tax breaks and subsidies for fossil fuels, and will fight to defend and extend tax incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy .” Related: Biden’s $2 trillion climate plan: create millions of jobs, reverse climate change So what happened? According to a DNC spokesperson, the amendment regarding fossil fuels was “incorrectly included in the Manager’s Mark” and removed “after the error was discovered.” But activists say the amendment didn’t make the platform’s final draft because an anti-fossil fuel stance could lose voters in oil- and coal -producing states like Texas and Pennsylvania. “This is ridiculous,” said Collin Rees , a campaigner for the nonprofit Oil Change U.S. “This is a commonsense position held by both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. … The DNC should immediately include it in the platform.” The exact amount of U.S. government subsidies to the oil and gas business is unknown. Some estimates show a low of $20 billion per year. But last year, the International Monetary Fund concluded the figure was closer to $649 billion in 2015 alone. According to the journal Nature Energy , even before the recent plunges in oil prices, about half of U.S. oil reserves were subsidized so that companies could generate profits. Environmentally minded voters are feeling frustrated by the Democratic Party’s backpedaling. “This platform is a step backwards, and we deserve better,” said Charlie Jiang, a campaigner at Greenpeace. Via Huffington Post Image via Jwigley

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EPA loosens restrictions on methane emissions

August 18, 2020 by  
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As President Trump’s term comes to an end, his administration has busily rolled back Obama-era environmental protections. Now, the Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA ) has loosened standards governing how much methane oil and gas facilities can release into the atmosphere. Methane is a serious threat to the environment because the gas is so good at absorbing heat, making it 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide, according to the Environmental Defense Fund . While methane comes from many places, the oil and gas industry is its largest source. Related: Trump waives environmental laws amid national crises “Trump’s EPA has given the oil and gas industry a green light to keep leaking enormous amounts of climate pollution into the air,” said David Doniger, senior strategic director of Natural Resources Defense Council’s Climate & Clean Energy Program. In 2018, the oil and gas industry released an estimated 15 million metric tons of methane into the air. The American public isn’t happy about this. A recent NRDC poll found that 75% of respondents strongly support strengthening controls on methane pollution. The NRDC proposed a solution in 2015. If federal standards for oil and gas infrastructure were adopted nationwide, methane pollution could be halved in less than a decade. Unfortunately, Trump’s new rollback pushes us further in the wrong direction. The rollback allows companies to bypass installation of detection equipment, nor do they have to fix methane leaks. Lax emission standards are especially dangerous to fence-line communities, lower-income neighborhoods that have the misfortune of being close to polluting facilities. According to the NAACP website, Black communities are disproportionately affected by methane, benzene, sulfur dioxide, formaldehyde and other toxic and dangerous emissions released by industries in their neighborhoods. Among other health effects, these pollutants cause more than 138,000 asthma attacks in children per year. “We cannot protect the health of our children and grandchildren, especially in the most polluted and endangered communities, if the EPA lets this industry off scot-free,” Doniger said. “We will see EPA in court.” Via NRDC Image via Pixabay

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EPA loosens restrictions on methane emissions

Pittsburgh leads in green energy with largest single sloped solar array in the US

August 18, 2020 by  
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The shift from non-renewable sources of energy to green energy continues to gain momentum. In the past few years, we have seen the launch of groundbreaking renewable energy projects around the world. One of the latest projects is a solar array for Mill 19 at Hazelwood Green in Pittsburgh. The project, led by Scalo Solar Solutions , is now the single largest sloped solar array in the U.S. It consists of 4,785 silicon solar panels that are capable of powering the entire Mill 19 plant. The project was established at a cost of $5 million and is expected to provide sufficient power to supply the energy needs of Mill 19. The 4,785 silicon solar panels sit on a 133,000-square-foot area on the frame of Mill 19. The solar panels were installed using an innovative technology called the Spider WorkWeb. With this approach, the panels were directly attached to Mill 19’s existing frame, thereby cutting the cost of putting up a new frame for the project. Each of the LG solar panels was assembled on the ground and then lifted and fitted into position. Related: IceWind launches residential wind turbines in the US The Hazelwood Green site, where Mill 19 is located, is seen as a model for sustainable development. Mill 19 has a goal to achieve 96% daylight autonomy, providing maximum thermal efficiency. Mill 19 is also targeting LEED Gold certification. The design of the solar slope caters to stormwater drainage. A strategic drainage system has been set in place, which will see all the water through a rainwater garden to a centrally located filtration basin. The Pittsburgh solar project is more proof that there is a possibility of attaining 100% renewable energy in many industries. There are many other businesses and organizations that can use the same model to reduce dependence on non-renewable sources of energy. + Pittsburgh Green Story Image via Pittsburgh Green Story and Andreas

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Pittsburgh leads in green energy with largest single sloped solar array in the US

Hello Wood launches flat-pack kits for DIY tiny cabins

August 18, 2020 by  
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In one of its latest timber-centric projects, Budapest-based design studio Hello Wood has created the Kabinka, a prefab cabin inspired by the tiny house movement . Developed with affordability in mind, the modular structure comes in four sizes — ranging between 12 to 20 square meters — and comes flat-packed for easy transportation. Each cabin kit can be assembled by hand in just one to three days. Crafted under the slogan “design cabin at a reasonable price,” Hello Wood’s Kabinka is a minimalist, gable-roofed tiny cabin that is inspired by the rural vernacular of Hungary. Each Kabinka is designed and manufactured in Hungary and comfortably fits a tea kitchen, a bathroom, a couch and a stove. The four base sizes include the small at 12 square meters; the medium at 14.9 square meters; the large at 17.3 square meters; and the extra-large that includes 20 square meters of indoor living space along with a 9.6-square-meter outdoor patio. The cabin rises to an exterior height of 4.06 meters with an interior floor-to-ceiling height that is tall enough to accommodate a loft level. Related: Hello Wood unveils a tiny cabin that sleeps up to 8 people Flexibility was key in the design of Kabinka, which can be used as a weekend retreat, private work space or even as an extra meeting room or community space for a company. “The compact coolable and heatable interior can be turned into a tiny home that you can enjoy all year-round,” Hello Wood explained. “Then there’s its environmental footprint; thanks to its low energy consumption and environmental focus, the cabin is also greener than a house built of non-renewable materials with conventional technologies.” The prefabricated timber elements of the Kabinka tiny cabin are constructed with a CNC machine. The base model construction is estimated to take between six to eight weeks; customization and extra features such as additional windows are available. Hello Wood developed the Kabinka as a DIY project that can be assembled without the need for skilled labor. The retail price, which is available upon request, does not include shipping, groundwork or assembly, but it does include technical documents and an assembly manual. + Hello Wood Images via Hello Wood

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Hello Wood launches flat-pack kits for DIY tiny cabins

Rwanda hopes to increase energy efficiency with new cooling initiative

February 14, 2019 by  
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Rwanda has big plans for a more sustainable future and is launching a new cooling initiative that will increase energy efficiency within the country’s booming electricity sector. As part of the new plan, Rwanda hopes to provide a cooling solution for food storage and indoor spaces without adding to the world’s greenhouse gas problems. The new initiative, called Rwanda’s National Cooling Strategy, assessed the current need for cooling products as well as the future market. Although countries traditionally meet cooling needs with the use of modern refrigeration, Rwanda is looking towards more sustainable methods that do not use as much electricity . “Through the Rwanda Cooling Initiative, we have conducted a cooling market assessment, developed a national cooling strategy and minimum energy efficiency standards, and created financial tools to support businesses investing in clean cooling,” Rwanda’s Minister of Environment, Dr. Vincent Biruta, explained. Rwanda is currently witnessing some of the fastest growth in the electricity sector in all of Africa. With 12 million people to serve, the East African Country is already looking for energy efficient options to meets those needs. Related: Top 10 states for LEED green buildings in 2018  Fortunately, Rwanda has been a leader in adopting sustainable practices. In fact, the country was one of the first to ban the use of plastic bags. A few years ago, Rwanda hosted a global treaty that agreed to an amendment to the Montreal Protocol. The initiative decreased the use of certain chemicals that are popularly used in air conditioners and refrigerators. But combating the use of harmful chemicals is only half the battle. As part of the National Cooling Strategy, Rwanda hopes to boost energy efficiency by regulating how much electricity can be used by modern air conditioners and refrigerators. The country also plans to raise awareness about other cooling techniques, including natural ventilation and shading. The new plan is the first phase of Rwanda’s larger cooling initiative. If other countries follow Rwanda’s lead, a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions could be cut over the next decade. Some experts predict that we can curb global warming by as much as 0.4C if countries increase their energy efficiency. Via United Nations Environment Image via Tumisu

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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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Patagonia strikes back at Trump over public lands policies

April 2, 2018 by  
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Outdoor clothing company Patagonia is calling out  President Trump  and his administration as liars regarding the role that fossil fuels played in the administration’s recent public land decisions . When the Trump Administration announced that it would shrink Bears Ears National Monument , Patagonia embarked on an activist campaign that featured the words “The President Stole Your Land” against a black background. In light of the recent evidence that shows the administration lied to the public about its motivation for changing the boundaries, the company added “And You’ve Been Lied To,” highlighting the way in which land belonging to all Americans has been sold to the highest bidders. In a video on their website, Patagonia states “the five indigenous tribes that call this place home set aside their differences and asked President Obama to designate Bears Ears as a national monument.” After a century of struggling to protect the area, Obama finally made it happen in 2016. But right after Trump took office, it became clear that Bears Ears was in the new administration’s crosshairs. In addition to its bold text message, Patagonia also published a blog post entitled It Was Always About Oil, Coal, Gas and Uranium , in which the company elaborates on its stance against the current administration. “The redrawing of boundaries was deliberate and directly influenced by an industry that spends millions of dollars lobbying the government to get what it wants,” said the company in a statement . The idea that the administration was motivated to shrink Bears Ears and nearby Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in order to extract resources from the ground was initially refuted by US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke . “We also have a pretty good idea of, certainly, the oil and gas potential—not much! So Bears Ears isn’t really about oil and gas,” said Zinke. Related: Chile creates five new national parks from 10 million acres of land in historic act However, scores of documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests paint a different picture. “The Kaiparowits plateau, located within the monument, contains one of the largest coal deposits in the United States,” reads one Interior Department memo, referring to the Kaiparowits plateau on which Grand Staircase-Escalante is located. The oil and gas industry have also expressed interest in developing 90,000 acres of land along the eastern edge of Bears Ears. Up to 500,000 tons of uranium could also be extracted from the ground over the next twenty years if permitted by the administration. This is of particular concern for the Navajo Nation , which has had its drinking water supplies contaminated by the more than 500 uranium mines that have operated in the region. While court challenges against the administration’s move are pending, Patagonia urges its customers to take action. “It is your voice and your vote that are the two most important tools we have to remind elected officials that Americans—everyone from sportsmen and women, to outdoor enthusiasts, to conservationists and the tribes who have known these lands longer than anyone—want public lands protected,” said the company in a statement. Via Outside Online Images via Patagonia and  Bob Wick/Bureau of Land Management

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Patagonia strikes back at Trump over public lands policies

Trump to open the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic to oil drilling

January 5, 2018 by  
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The Trump Administration announced on Thursday that it will open nearly all United States coastal waters to oil and gas drilling. This order marks a significant break from bipartisan precedent, which placed at least some restrictions on where the fossil fuel industry could drill offshore. As part of this move, California ‘s waters will be open to drilling for the first time in decades – along with more than a billion acres in the Arctic and along the East Coast. The move by the Trump Administration reverses an order implemented by the Obama Administration which blocked oil and gas drilling in 94 percent of the outer continental shelf, the American offshore territory between state coastal waters and the deep ocean . Such a reversal would mark a serious blow to former President Obama’s environmental legacy and could put coastal states at risk of an incident similar to that of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. The expansion of oil and gas drilling has already met with bipartisan opposition. Republican Governor of Florida Rick Scott pushed back against the move, concerned on the effects that drilling might have on tourism. “I have asked to immediately meet with Secretary Zinke to discuss the concerns I have with this plan and the crucial need to remove Florida from consideration,” said Scott in a statement. “My top priority is to ensure that Florida ’s natural resources are protected.” Related: Scientists protest senator’s plan to open vital Arctic wildlife refuge to oil exploration Industry leaders have predictably applauded the move. “I think the default should be that all of our offshore areas should be available,” said Thomas J. Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, according to the New York Times . “These are our lands. They’re taxpayer-owned and they should be made available.” If all profits from such drilling were directly distributed to taxpayers, perhaps Pyle’s position would resonate. Instead, offshore oil drilling under the current system involves socialized risk, with citizens paying the price when something goes wrong, and privatized gain, with industry profiting off of the public’s natural resources . Finalizing Trump’s plan could take up to a year and a half, during which time the order will be challenged in the courts and Congress . Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether the fossil fuel industry takes advantage of these new opportunities in light of oil’s recent slump which has only recently ended and the major infrastructure investment required. All the while, the prospect of a future Democratic president reversing Trump’s order looms. Via the New York Times Images via Depositphotos and The White House/Flickr

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This striking art studio was inspired by the movement of butterfly wings

January 5, 2018 by  
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New York-based firm Valerie Schweitzer Architects has created a funky backyard art studio inspired by the movement of butterfly wings. The 350-square-foot Butterfly Studio comprises multiple volumes that fit together at various angles. The studio is clad in a mix of stucco and reclaimed teak , interrupted by a series of long, narrow windows, giving the project a warm yet industrial character. The compact studio is a beautiful composition of glass, wood and steel. The angled volumes that make up the structure are topped with an expansive skylight of thermally-insulated glass. Allowing the optimal amount of natural light to enter the studio, the skylight all but eliminates the need for artificial lighting, even for an artist. Strategically placed windows provide cross ventilation that captures the breeze off nearby Long Island Sound. A sealed poured concrete flooring contains radiant heat piping, which also adds to the design’s energy efficiency. Related: Prefabricated garden retreat snaps together in less than a week The multi-faceted design was created to provide a strong sense of privacy for anyone working on the studio interior , but without being overly isolated. The windows provide light and a sense of openness on the interior, resulting in an optimal space for artistic production. + Valerie Schweitzer Architects Via v2com Newswire Photography by Tom Leighton

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Humans have caused so many earthquakes that scientists had to update their maps

March 30, 2016 by  
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Those at the United States Geological Survey have noticed such a spike in manmade earthquakes they had to change their maps. For the first time ever, researchers have begun producing earthquake hazard maps with manmade earthquakes alongside natural seismic activity. Between this, the collapse of bee colonies, and climate change in general we can say with confidence that humans seem too be hellbent on destroying the planet. Read the rest of Humans have caused so many earthquakes that scientists had to update their maps

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