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Environmental News Wrap: May 10-16

GlobalWarmingisReal contributor Anders Hellum-Alexander wraps-up the climate and environmental news headlines for the past week:

  • We are in the middle of a comment period for an EPA ruling on how to classify and treat Coal Ash. The two classifications to choose from are similar with one providing more protection for the environment. Previously, Coal Ash was treated as a benign waste product. Coal Ash received attention after a spill of a large amount into a residential area a couple of years ago in Tennessee. This article from Grist covers the issue and provides a link to more information about the ruling.
  • The Gulf of Mexico BP spill is growing larger and so are its environmental effects. Dispersants that BP mixed into the spill seem to be making the situation worse by creating fields of oil two to four thousand feet below the surface and hiding the amount of oil spilled from helicopter estimates.
  • Drilling in US waters requires a permit that is given only to operations that will not harm endangered species or marine mammals. This is spelled out in the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Companies have been drilling in US waters without this permit for years. The Minerals Management Service is being accused of obviously corrupting its own permitting process for underwater mineral extraction.
  • The New York Times reports that Obama is being tough on BP for the Gulf of Mexico spill.
  • Grist reports that Obama is going easy on BP for the Gulf of Mexico spill.
  • The Tar Sands issue continues and most large oil companies are invested. This report from The Guardian covers the current state of business at the Tar Sands, and concludes with the fact that companies have pumped $200 billion into this project already. Large organizations like BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and the Canadian government (the ones invested in the Tar Sands) do not spend $200 billion on a project and then not fight to the end to see a return on their investment.
  • In a post a couple of weeks ago I highlighted an article about the Dark Mountain writing project. The Guardian responds to the claims the project makes about humanity ruining itself in the next 200 years.
  • A desalinization plant in Israel opens up, providing a lot of fresh water to a water starved country. When nature no longer provides a service to us we have to pay for it. This plant costs $425 million, Israel also recently spent $500 million on the countries water transportation infrastructure to deliver this new supply of fresh water.
  • Shocks on cars that generate electricity have been developing for a while and are now being peddled to operators of large vehicles. These shocks represent yet another way that we can slowly become more efficient in our use of energy.
  • LED lights are also being developed to use energy more efficiently and are pushing their way into commercialization.
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