Californias largest utility company plans massive sale of natural gas division

January 9, 2019 by  
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Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), California ’s largest utility, is exploring the possibility of selling off a major part of the company, according to a new report. Thanks to the massive liability costs that they could be facing for their possible culpability in recent deadly wildfires, PG&E has a strategic plan called “Project Falcon” to cover costs and avoid bankruptcy. This plan would involve the company selling its natural gas division and then using the proceeds to pay the potential millions of dollars in claims from the wildfires . Anonymous sources recently told NPR that PG&E is also looking at selling critical real estate assets— like the company’s San Francisco headquarters. Last Friday the utility announced that they would explore “structural options” to put the company in the best possible position to meet customer needs and operational demands. They also revealed that they are searching for new directors for the board to “augment its existing expertise in safety.” “Safety is and will continue to be our top priority as we work to determine the best path forward for all of our stakeholders. PG&E remains fully committed to helping our customers and the affected communities recover and rebuild — and to doing everything we can to reduce the risk of future wildfires,” said spokesman Andy Castagnola in a written statement. Back in June, Cal Fire (California’s fire agency) determined that PG&E power equipment sparked at least a dozen major wildfires in 2017. And now, the agency is looking into whether or not the company sparked the November 2018 fire that ended up being the deadliest and most destructive one in the state’s history. Related: Thousands of animals have been displaced by California wildfires If Cal Fire determines that PG&E caused that fire , it could result in the company having to pay billions from legal action against them. Insurance companies Allstate, State Farm, and USAA have already filed lawsuits against the utility, and some equity analysts project that the damages from the recent wildfire could exceed PG&E’s market value and its insurance coverage. The California Public Utilities Commission would have to approve PG&E’s plan of selling their natural gas division. The regulatory agency has already expressed their concern about the utility’s inferior safety record, as well as their lack of transparency and past efforts to pass liability costs onto their customers. State Sen. Bill Dodd, who originally supported shielding PG&E from liability costs related to the 2017 fires, has now switched gears. “PG&E has demonstrated a pattern of poor management and illegal conduct that has shattered lives across California,” Dodd said in a statement. He also called for “systemic change, which must include change on the board of directors and in the executive suite.” Via NPR Images via skeeze

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Californias largest utility company plans massive sale of natural gas division

New study finds glyphosate in kids’ cereals and snack bars

August 16, 2018 by  
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Bad news for anyone who likes to eat cereal, or granola bars, or anything that contains oats at all: a recent study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) tested 45 conventional oat products for the presence of glyphosate, and researchers found it in 43 of them.  And, of these 43 oat products, 31 had amounts of glyphosate that were far above the EWG’s Health Benchmark of safe ingestion amounts. The poisonous chemical may sound familiar since it’s the active ingredient in Roundup, the herbicide whose health risks Monsanto intentionally concealed from the public. Related: Court orders Monsanto to pay $289 million in cancer trial The World Health Organization has issued warnings about glyphosate in the past, stating as far back as 2015 that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” And yet, the majority of oat products tested for the study had glyphosate levels that exceeded 160 ppb, the maximum amount considered acceptable by the EWG. In fact, one popular brand of oats contained 1300 ppb. While organic oats did much better, 30 percent of samples using organic oats still tested positive for glyphosate, possibly due to Roundup drift from farms in the area or cross-contamination. Related: Beekeepers file a complaint against Bayer after glyphosate was discovered in honey Given the common use of oats in breakfast cereals, the study raises the possibility that millions of American children are being exposed to the dangerous chemical. “I grew up eating Cheerios and Quaker Oats long before they were tainted with glyphosate. No one wants to eat a weed killer for breakfast, and no one should have to do so,” commented Ken Cook, President of the EWG.  Calling for action on our part, he added, “it’s up to consumers to call on companies to rid their products of glyphosate.” + Environmental Working Group Via Treehugger

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New study finds glyphosate in kids’ cereals and snack bars

The cost of high-efficiency solar panels fell 37% in 2017

February 22, 2018 by  
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In 2017, the price for high-efficiency solar panels dropped from 72¢/W to 45¢/W, representing a 37 percent decline in cost. The falling price point is driven by several factors, including American consumer demand for higher solar efficiency to compensate for the higher-than-average energy consumption of the average American, as well as Chinese state investment in high-efficiency solar panel production. The shift is also a result of technological change as poly crystalline solar panels switch to mono crystalline, which are at least 10 percent more efficient while only 6 percent more expensive. Meanwhile, the price continues to drop. The primary difference between mono and poly solar panels is the structure by which silicon is shaped and molded into the panel. In mono crystalline solar panels, silicon is formed into bars, then cut into wafers, whereas poly crystalline solar panels are melted together to form wafers. The process to create mono solar panels was invented in 1918. As a result, the earliest solar panels were of the mono crystalline design. However, during an oil crisis-induced burst of solar energy research in the 1970s, an Exxon researcher discovered that poly panels could be manufactured more cheaply. Related: All-female high school team invents solar-powered tent for homeless As we are seeing in the greater efficiency and steady decline in cost for mono panels as of late, the cheap manufacturing of poly had its own hidden costs. As 2018 rolls along, some analysts are predicting that this may be the year in which mono crystalline solar panels make up the majority of solar panels manufactured worldwide. The rapidly declining cost of solar energy , even in the face of resistance by the United States government , demonstrates the possibility that a rapid transition to renewable energy may not be as far-fetched as current reality may make it seem. Via Electrek Images via Depositphotos and EIA

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The cost of high-efficiency solar panels fell 37% in 2017

The Seychelles creates debt-for-conservation deal with Leonardo DiCaprio

February 22, 2018 by  
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The Seychelles, an island nation in East Africa, recently announced the creation of two new Marine Protected Areas roughly as big as Great Britain. It’s part of what The Telegraph called a debt-for- nature swap: the island nation gets a $20 million debt relief plan backed by investors (including the foundation of our favorite eco hero Leonardo DiCaprio ), and in return it will place controls on fishing and tourism industries. In a debt-for- conservation deal designed by The Nature Conservancy , the Seychelles will protect areas covering 81,000 square miles. The move is not without controversy: fishing is limited in areas commercial fishermen and tour operators for years; in some places, like the Aldabra region, people won’t be allowed to fish at all. Tourism has been successful in the Seychelles in recent years, but The Telegraph said record numbers of visitors have taken their toll on the islands; commercial fishing has increased to meet demand. Biodiversity has eroded in the wake of two recent coral bleaching events. The Telegraph said debt restructuring will essentially send Seychelles repayments into a trust set to invest in plans to foster a sustainable blue economy. Related: Leonardo DiCaprio launches a new fund to save the lions Nature Conservancy said the Seychelles are among the nations most vulnerable to climate change because of their dependence on marine resources. They said the Marine Protected Areas will help the nation better prepare for the impacts of sea level rise , warming waters, and ocean acidification . “Without these Marine Protected Areas, activities like oil and gas exploration, deep-sea mining, dredging, and controversial fishing techniques could take place in one of the planet’s most biodiverse oceans with little or no restriction or direction,” the organization said. Today, Seychelles announced two new marine protected areas that equal the size of Great Britain. Join me and @nature_org in congratulating all those who made it happen. https://t.co/OygRCaKY37 — Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) February 21, 2018 DiCaprio tweeted the news, along with a link to a Nature Conservancy page where those in support can sign a letter congratulating the citizens of Seychelles. DiCaprio said, “This effort will help the people of Seychelles protect their ocean for future generations, and will serve as a model for future marine conservation projects worldwide. These protections mean that all species living in these waters or migrating through them are now far better shielded from overfishing , pollution, and climate change.” + Nature Conservancy + Congratulate the citizens of Seychelles Via The Telegraph Images via IIP Photo Archive on Flickr , Depositphotos , and Pixabay

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The Seychelles creates debt-for-conservation deal with Leonardo DiCaprio

Unchecked global warming could bring worst hurricanes ever seen by the end of this century

September 2, 2015 by  
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The basic jist of almost every study we see these days related to weather, climate change, and the environment can be summed up in just a few words: it’s getting worse. Unfortunately, a new study looking into future storm patterns has a similar message. The study theorizes the possibility of rare, ultra-intense tropical cyclones researchers have dubbed “grey swans.” On the bright side, the researchers believe that, although catastrophic, it might be possible to predict such storms before they happen. Read the rest of Unchecked global warming could bring worst hurricanes ever seen by the end of this century

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Unchecked global warming could bring worst hurricanes ever seen by the end of this century

Could WA’s proposed ban on orca captures end marine parks forever?

February 9, 2015 by  
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Killer whales in the entertainment industry have been the source of heated controversy for some time. In Washington state, lawmakers are now discussing the possibility of implementing a ban on the capture of the majestic sea creatures for the purpose of entertainment. More than half of the approximately 455 orcas captured for entertainment originated in Washington state, so a ban like this would send a dramatic message to water parks like SeaWorld , where killer whales are a popular (and highly criticized) attraction. Read the rest of Could WA’s proposed ban on orca captures end marine parks forever? Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: captive killer whales for entertainment , capturing killer whales , capturing wild orcas , killer whales captive , orcas captured in Washington state , orcas in captivity for entertainment , Washington state killer whales , Washington state laws

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Could WA’s proposed ban on orca captures end marine parks forever?

BPA Identified As Potential "Environmental Obesogen"

October 15, 2011 by  
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Tomato sauce. Image credit: Flickr, pdstahl Just when I thought it would be fine to cook with canned tomato sauce – bis-Phenol A recently having been granted toxicology probation – emerges the possibility that BPA can make you obese. Ohhh wait – not so fast. What Bruce Blumberg of UC Irvine specifically seems to be saying is that exposing a fetus or a young child to to BPA confuses cell receptors, which may add to the ris… Read the full story on TreeHugger

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BPA Identified As Potential "Environmental Obesogen"

Occupy Toronto: "It has to start somewhere, it has to start sometime. What better place than here? What better time than now? " (Slideshow)

October 15, 2011 by  
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Lloyd Alter/ CC BY 2.0 All over the world, people are marching in solidarity with the OccupyWallStreet movement today. This is a big deal; environmentalists, progressives, all kinds of people young and old are finally making their voices heard. It was a lovely march in Toronto, ending up in St. James Park; I have put together a slideshow of the start of Occupy Toronto . … Read the full story on TreeHugger

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Occupy Toronto: "It has to start somewhere, it has to start sometime. What better place than here? What better time than now? " (Slideshow)

Finally! A 100mpg AWD Diesel Plug-In Hybrid, But Not for America… (Video)

September 2, 2011 by  
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Image credit: Fully Charged While it created initial excitement, the VW Golf diesel hybrid proved too expensive for production back in 2008 . Nevertheless, many greener car advocates have been watching eagerly for the possibility of a car that would combine the efficiencies of a diesel engine with a hybrid drive. Late last year, Mike reported on news that

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Finally! A 100mpg AWD Diesel Plug-In Hybrid, But Not for America… (Video)

Hövding Airbag Helmet Wins World’s Largest Design Prize

September 2, 2011 by  
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Images credit Hovdig We were so intrigued by the Hövding airbag bike helmet that we covered it twice, here and here. While we might have been a bit dubious about a $500 one-shot helmet designed to prevent helmet head, the judges at INDEX , the world’s biggest design prize,… Read the full story on TreeHugger

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Hövding Airbag Helmet Wins World’s Largest Design Prize

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