Alaska gas leak endangering beluga whales won’t be fixed until the ice melts

March 6, 2017 by  
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A leaking natural gas pipeline in Cook Inlet, Alaska won’t be fixed until the ice melts – continuing to flow unchecked into a habitat for endangered beluga whales. Inside Climate News reports that Hilcorp Alaska, the company responsible for the leak, says it won’t be able repair the damage until later this month, at the earliest, due to concerns over safety for its workers. The 8-inch underwater pipeline has been leaking about 120,000 to 310,000 cubic feet of natural gas per day into the ocean since Feb. 7, 2017. “Given the typical weather patterns affecting ice formation and dissipation in Cook Inlet, we currently anticipate that the earliest that the conditions will allow diving will be in mid-to-late March,” wrote Hilcorp Alaska Senior Vice President, David Wilkins. Doing so before that date would likely make it unsafe for the divers who have to head underwater to fix the leak. But it would be appear to be a case of humans vs. whales, as the oil is leaking into a critical habitat for endangered beluga whales . Bob Shavelson, or the Alaska non-profit Cook Inletkeepe r, have concerns that methane in the leaking gas could displace oxygen in the water and create hypoxic zones that could be dangerous for the roughly 340 belugas in the area. Related: Hundreds of whales die in New Zealand’s third largest mass stranding As Inside Climate News reports, Alaska’s Department of Environment Conservation says Hilcorp didn’t respond to its request for a plan to monitor the leak and environmental impacts. Without such data the state agency can’t assess the threat posed by leak to Cook Inlet. The state has since asked Hilcorp to provide a plan by March 8 – more than a month after the leak began. In a letter to Alaska’s DEC, Hilcorp says the amount of dissolved methane coming from the leak is so minimal that it’s not toxic to aquatic organisms, and that belugas tend to avoid areas covered in ice – meaning that there are likely no belugas around the area of the leak. But the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says otherwise. In a recent letter the agency noted that Cook Inlet belugas tend to prefer ice cover, to the point that their presence has become associated with that of ice. “If a significant hypoxic zone is created by a continuing natural gas discharge,” the NOAA explained, “Cook Inlet belugas and multiple [physical and biological features] of their critical habitat could be adversely affected.” Via Inside Climate News Images via fooey and briangratwke , Flickr Creative Commons and Frank K , Wikimedia Commons

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Alaska gas leak endangering beluga whales won’t be fixed until the ice melts

Amazon to install large-scale solar systems on 50 facilities by 2020

March 3, 2017 by  
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Amazon just announced plans to install 41 megawatts worth of solar power on the roofs of its US facilities this year. The project is part of amazon’s larger initiative to install solar systems on 50 of its order fulfillment facilities around the globe by 2020. “As our fulfillment network continues to expand, we want to help generate more renewable energy at both existing and new facilities around the world in partnership with community and business leaders,” said Dave Clark, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations. “We are putting our scale and inventive culture to work on sustainability—this is good for the environment, our business and our customers. By diversifying our energy portfolio, we can keep business costs low and pass along further savings to customers. It’s a win-win.” The solar projects planned for this year will see a total of 41 megawatts installed on the rooftops of Amazon facilities in California, New Jersey, Maryland, Nevada and Delaware. Depending on various factors, the solar installations could provide the facilities with up to 80% of the energy needed to run. Related: Amazon’s new Prime Air delivery drone is part helicopter, part airplane https://youtu.be/R7tMiQcF9tY According to Amazon, the company is also working on other clean energy projects – including a wind farm in Texas and a network of wind and solar farms in Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. It’s also possible some of this power could be used to energize other initiatives Amazon is working on – such as the eventual delivery of orders by drones , and the company’s plans to build a giant floating warehouse in the sky from which the drones would work. Via Businesswire Images via Amazon/Businesswire

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Amazon to install large-scale solar systems on 50 facilities by 2020

Staten Island is seeking proposals for a High Line park of its own

March 1, 2017 by  
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Why should Manhattan hog all the fun? Staten Island may soon get a “High Line”  of its own. Much like the OG linear park in Chelsea, which was constructed on an elevated section of a historic freight rail line, the proposed North Shore High Line could sprout from a similarly abandoned set of tracks in Port Richmond. The Staten Island Economic Development Corporation , a nonprofit group that advocates for the borough’s economic development, has issued an open call for ideas. “Realizing we have this long abandoned North Shore Rail Line, I wanted to look into how we could replicate what they did in Manhattan,” Cesar Claro, president and CEO of the SIEDC, told SILive . “We met with Friends of the High Line in Manhattan … and came up with a plan using the Manhattan High Line as the roadmap, and it will start with a design competition.” Photo: Screenshot from video by Russ Ott A North Shore High Line along the half-mile stretch between Richmond Terrace at Heberton Avenue to Nicholas Avenue would not only rehabilitate what is currently an illegal dumping ground, but it could also pose an “unprecedented economic and recreational opportunity,” according to Salvatore Calcagno, Jr., SIEDC’s ambassador for the project. “Based on the success of the High Line on the West Side of Manhattan, we believe that activating the dormant line in a similar fashion can be a transformative project for the area. We hope this leads to an active public space along the line,” Calcagno said. A 2014 University of California, San Diego study showed that Manhattan’s High Line boosted the prices of adjacent homes by as much as 10 percent. “If our high line is half as successful as Manhattan’s, it will be a major boon to the community,” Calcagno added. Related: Proposed Staten Island vineyard would produce local wine for New Yorkers Designers who want a shot at $10,000 in prize money have until April 7 to submit a proposal to the SIEDC, which will put the entries to a public vote before announcing the winner at its annual conference on April 27. Claro, the president of the SIEDC, says he hopes to be able to work with local officials to fund the project, which could run up to some $30 million. But even if greenlit, such a scheme would take years, perhaps even decades, to come to fruition. “Keep in mind Manhattan’s High Line took 20 years from idea to creation,” Claro said. + North Shore High Line competition + Staten Island Economic Development Corporation Via SILive and DNAinfo Photos: Screenshots from video by Russ Ott and Wikipedia

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Staten Island is seeking proposals for a High Line park of its own

Why Washington’s anti-regulation agenda will hurt the economy

February 16, 2017 by  
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Fortune 500 CEOs are calling on the president to keep business-savvy environmental protections strong. Will they be Trumped?

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Why Washington’s anti-regulation agenda will hurt the economy

How to solve the imbalance in ESG investing

February 16, 2017 by  
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Dimitri Sedov, the vice president of innovation and digital strategy at S&P Global said there is more demand for sustainable investments then there is a supply.

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How to solve the imbalance in ESG investing

House Republicans move to make methane pollution great again

February 6, 2017 by  
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Congressional Republicans are attempting to quickly dismantle former President Barack Obama’s environmental regulations to combat climate change . On Friday, the GOP-controlled House voted 221-191 to overturn an Interior Department rule that aims to limit “fugitive” methane emissions from oil and gas drilling operations on public lands. The natural gas is wasted through leaks, intentional venting, or burning off the gas — a process known as flaring. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the global warming potential of methane (CH4) is 34 times stronger than carbon dioxide (CO2) over a 100-year time scale and 86 times more potent than CO2 over 20 years when climate carbon feedbacks are included. Three Democrats — Jim Costa (CA-16), Henry Cuellar (TX-28) and Collin Peterson (MN-7) — voted in favor of repealing the rule, while 11 Republicans opposed repeal. According to Open Secrets , a guide to money in politics from the Center for Responsive Politics, Costa received $94,525 from the oil and gas industry during the 2015-2016 campaign cycle, Cuellar received $165,305 in campaign funds from the oil and gas industry, and Peterson received $38,075 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry. Related: Aliso Canyon natural gas facility could reopen despite unresolved issues over leak “The rollback gives companies permission to waste $330 million dollars of public assets a year, and generate huge amounts of avoidable pollution that contaminates our air and has a devastating effect on public health,” said Elizabeth Thompson, president of the Environmental Defense Action Fund, in a statement . “We call on the U.S. Senate to protect the interests of the American people, and not cast a vote for business as usual for the oil and gas industry.” The legislation next goes to the Republican-majority Senate for a vote. In addition to allowing unchecked gas flaring again, House Republicans last week voted to repeal an Obama era rule designed to keep coal waste from contaminating streams and waterways. According to the Interior Department, the regulation protects 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forests, preventing coal mining debris from being dumped into nearby waters. Via The Washington Post Images via Flickr 1 , 2 Save

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House Republicans move to make methane pollution great again

U.S. veterans vow to block construction of Dakota Access Pipeline

February 3, 2017 by  
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Energy Transfer Partners may complete the Dakota Access Pipeline yet: they just have to get past thousands of U.S. military veterans first. Returning to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota days after President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order reinstating the contentious $3.8 billion project, Veterans Stand has vowed to stonewall the pipeline’s completion. “We are committed to the people of Standing Rock, we are committed to nonviolence, and we will do everything within our power to ensure that the environment and human life are respected,” Anthony Diggs, a spokesman for the group, told CNBC . “That pipeline will not get completed. Not on our watch.” The group, which served as “human shields” for protestors at Oceti Sakowin camp, just south of Bismarck, in December, have raised over $75,000 since launching a GoFundMe campaign last week. Veterans Stand is looking to raise $500,000 to purchase supplies such as food, firewood, propane, and first-aid kits, as well as arrange car rides for volunteers to and from the camp. Meanwhile, Standing Rock Sioux tribe has promised to sue the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for moving forward with the construction of the pipeline under Lake Oahe without conducting the environmental-impact review it said it would conduct last month. Related: American veterans arrive at Standing Rock to defend Dakota Access Pipeline protesters “The Army Corps lacks statutory authority to simply stop the [environmental-impact statement] and issue the easement,” the tribe said in a statement . “To abandon the [review] would amount to a wholly unexplained and arbitrary change based on the President’s personal views and, potentially, personal investments.” Through at least mid-2016, Trump owned as much as $50,000 ETP stock through, according to financial disclosure forms. Although Trump said he has sold all of his stock, he has offered no verification that he has divested himself of it. Nearly 4,000 veterans descended on Standing Rock in December as protestors clashed with the Morton County Sheriff’s Department and the National Guard. Veterans Stand says it plans to mobilize thousands to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, environmentalists, and other demonstrators. “We stand in unity with our brothers and sisters in Standing Rock (and beyond) and our community is ready to mobilize,” the organization said on its GoFundMe page. + Veterans Stand for Standing Rock Via CNBC Photo by Paul and Cathy/Flickr

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U.S. veterans vow to block construction of Dakota Access Pipeline

Insider says Trump could pull America out of Paris deal within days

January 31, 2017 by  
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For months President Donald Trump has blustered about yanking the United States out of the Paris climate agreement ; now Myron Ebell , who led the Environmental Protection Agency transition team, said the new president could pull America out of the historic, hard-fought deal within days. Ebell, a climate change denier, said he expects Trump will be “very assiduous in keeping his promises, despite all of the flack he is going to get from his opponents.” Speaking at a London briefing, Ebell said Trump could pull out of the Paris agreement “by executive order tomorrow, or he could wait and do it as part of a larger package. There are multiple ways and I have no idea of the timing.” He also claimed the United States will “clearly change its course on climate policy ” and that Trump is “pretty clear that the problem or the crisis has been overblown and overstated.” Related: Majority of Americans support Paris climate deal as Trump reconsiders pulling out Two weeks after his election, Trump indicated he had an “open mind” about the Paris agreement. He also said there was “some connectivity” when asked about the relationship between climate change and humans. But he hasn’t yet come out in support of the Paris agreement, or taken a stronger stance on climate change. The president’s Secretary of State pick Rex Tillerson said America might be better off staying in the agreement at his confirmation hearing: “I think it’s 190 countries have signed on. We’re better served by being at that table than by leaving that table.” Will Trump listen to his cabinet pick? Ebell doesn’t seem to think so. He said of Trump, “His mandate is pretty clear, and he knows who he got it from. If Rex Tillerson disagrees with the President, who is going to win that debate? Well I don’t know but the President was elected and Rex Tillerson was appointed by the President, so I would guess that the President would be the odds-on favorite to win any disagreement over climate policy.” Via The Independent Images via Jim Mattis on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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Insider says Trump could pull America out of Paris deal within days

Scott Pruitt can’t name a single EPA regulation he approves of

January 31, 2017 by  
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Scott Pruitt should send a shiver down your spine, even if your idea of environmentalism is reusing the same cup for your soda refill. At his confirmation hearing for head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency a week and a half ago, Pruitt was unable to name even a single EPA regulation he supported. It showed a breathtaking, if perhaps unsurprising, amount of contempt for not only one of the nation’s most vital offices but also the very post he aspires to hold. During his tenure attorney general of oil- and gas-fueled Oklahoma, Pruitt sued the agency 14 times for anti-pollution regulations that he said were “inconsistent with its constitutional and statutory authority.” Ken Cook, president and co-founder of the Environmental Working Group , said that Pruitt could be the “most hostile EPA administrator toward clean air and safe drinking water in history.” When Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, the senior Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee asked Pruitt to name “one Clean Air Act regulation—not a voluntary or grant program—on the books today” that he approved of, Pruitt hedged. “I firmly believe that the EPA plays an important role, especially as it relates to cross-state air and water pollution, but EPA must do so within the bounds of its legal authority as provided by Congress,” he said. “Regulations that are not on solid legal foundation and that cannot survive judicial review will not result in environmental protections.” While Pruitt disagreed with President Donald Trump’s assertion that climate change is a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese government, he stopped short of declaring that human activity was to blame. “I do not believe that climate change is a hoax,” Pruitt told Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) at the hearing. Later, when pressed by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to explain his position, Pruitt demurred by calling the issue “subject to continuing debate and dialogue.” In response to a query about whether “removing lead from gasoline was an important and successful EPA rulemaking,” Pruitt tersely said that he had “not evaluated this issue.” Lead cast a particularly large shadow at the hearing. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) asked Pruitt if he believed there was any safe level of lead in the human body, particularly for children and adolescents. “That’s something I have not reviewed nor know about,” Pruitt replied. “I would be very concerned about any level of lead going into the drinking water or obviously human consumption, but I’ve not looked at the scientific research on that.” Related: Trump’s EPA pick put industries before federal environmental policies According to EPA there is “no safe level of exposure to lead,” although an extremely small amount is allowed in pipes and plumbing fixtures. Equally alarming, Pruitt dodged senators’ questions about his ties with energy companies and other potential conflicts of interest by directing them to file open-records requests not once but 18 times. “Pruitt’s directive to senators to file Oklahoma open records requests is the political equivalent of saying ‘go pound sand,'” John Walke, Clean Air director at the Natural Resources Defense Council , said on Thursday. Suffice to say, none of this went down well with the committee. In a follow-up letter , Sanders, Markey, Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) took Pruitt to task for what they dubbed his “troubling evasions.” In addition to calling out Pruitt’s murky public reporting of any political and legal conflicts of interest he may have as EPA administrator, not to mention his history of undermining environmental protections, the senators also condemned his “erroneous statements concerning well-established science.” “You did not know there is a safe level of lead in the human body,” they said. “You refused to repudiate statements you made that question the health impacts of mercury pollution. You refused to acknowledge that carbon pollution from human activities is widely recognized as the largest drive of climate change. These statements raise significant questions about whether instead of embracing science, you will be embracing ‘alternative facts.'” Perhaps most tellingly of all, Charles and David Koch , a.k.a. the Koch Brothers , are backing Pruitt’s power grab. Prognosis? Good for polluters, bad for everyone else.

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Scott Pruitt can’t name a single EPA regulation he approves of

Ikea flat-pack refugee shelters awarded Design of the Year

January 31, 2017 by  
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IKEA’s flat-pack refugee structure, the Better Shelter , has been awarded Design of the Year by London’s respected Design Museum . Developed in collaboration with the United Nations, the modular, solar-powered housing units have just 68 components, making them easily assembled in just a matter of hours. Since production started in 2015, thousands of Better Shelters have been installed in countries around the world to help with the ongoing refugee crisis . https://youtu.be/Ect-FwtK-84 The 17.5-square-meter shelters, which can sleep a family of five, are made out of galvanized steel frames with recyclable polymer plastic walls and lockable doors. A singular rooftop solar panel charges the indoor LED lamp and a USB port capable of charging mobile phones. Since production started on the shelters in 2015, thousands of units have been delivered to countries around the world to be used as homes, medical facilities, food distribution points, and offices. Related: IKEA’s Modular Better Shelter Housing Unit is a solar-powered emergency home for refugees The Better Shelter took home both the Architecture award and the 2017 Beazly Design Grand Prize this year. Presented by London’s Design Museum , the awards recognize “design that promotes or delivers change, enables access, extends design practice or captures the spirit of the year.” + Better Shelter + Beazly Design of the Year Via CNN Images via Better Shelter

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Ikea flat-pack refugee shelters awarded Design of the Year

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