The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.

As Natural Gas Fracking Expands, Water Worries Mount

“Pennsylvania is at the center of a natural gas boom. But getting to the fuel requires a process called hydraulic fracturing that pumps water and chemicals far underground. One scientist is trying to find whether that’s causing the high methane levels found in water near some gas wells.”

See Also: Does an Old EPA Fracking Study Provide Proof of Contamination?

BrightSource Files To Build Second Huge Solar Plant In California

“BrightSource Energy, the California startup that is building the first large-scale solar thermal power plant to break ground in the United States in 20 years, on Friday filed a license application with California regulators to build a second huge solar complex that features new technology.

The 500-megawatt Hidden Hills Solar Electric Generating System would be built in two 250-megawatt phases on 5.12 square miles of privately owned Mojave Desert land in California’s Inyo County on the Nevada border. The site is 45 miles west of Las Vegas and north of BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah facility now under construction on the California side of the border.”

Consumers Energy Bay County Michigan coal plant on shelf as other energy projects emerge

“There are big plans under way to generate new electric power in Bay County, the Great Lakes Bay Region and around the state.

But a new coal-fired power plant at Consumers Energy’s Hampton Township complex isn’t in the mix right now.

From a wind-turbine farm in southern Bay County to a cutting-edge biomass-fueled plant in Midland County, other companies are moving forward with variety of energy projects.”

Shell accepts liability for two oil spills in Nigeria

“Shell faces a bill of hundreds of millions of dollars after accepting full liability for two massive oil spills that devastated a Nigerian community of 69,000 people and may take at least 20 years to clean up.

Experts who studied video footage of the spills at Bodo in Ogoniland say they could together be as large as the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska, when 10m gallons of oil destroyed the remote coastline.

Until now, Shell has claimed that less than 40,000 gallons were spilt in Nigeria.”

As Famine Rises, So Do Political Hurdles

“During East Africa’s worst drought in 60 years, tens of thousands have already died and millions urgently need food. The United Nations is warning that the crisis will worsen if aid is not increased. Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai says government systems have severely lagged in helping locals and solving environmental problems. She tells host Michel Martin what else should be done to bring relief to the region.”

See Also: Horn of Africa Famine Crisis: 48 Hour Blogging Project Supporting OxFam

Crops with deeper roots capture more carbon, fight drought: study

“Creating crops with deeper roots could soak up much more carbon dioxide from the air, help mankind fight global warming and lead to more drought-tolerant varieties, a British scientist says in a study.

Douglas Kell of the University of Manchester says crops can play a crucial role in tackling climate change by absorbing more of mankind’s rising greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels.”

NASA’s Eyes In The Sky Study Pollution On Earth

“Specially equipped NASA planes are flying over U.S. cities, gathering data on how pollutants form, travel and disperse in the atmosphere. The goal: to figure out how to use satellites to provide detailed, hourly updates on pollution levels across the country.”

Obama Administration Advances Efforts to Protect Health of U.S. Communities Overburdened by Pollution / Federal Agencies Sign Environmental Justice Memorandum of Understanding

“Building on its commitment to ensuring strong protection from environmental and health hazards for all Americans, the Obama Administration today announced Federal agencies have agreed to develop environmental justice strategies to protect the health of people living in communities overburdened by pollution and provide the public with annual progress reports on their efforts. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder were joined by agency heads across the Administration in signing the “Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Justice and Executive Order 12898” (EJ MOU).

“All too often, low-income, minority and Native Americans live in the shadows of our society’s worst pollution, facing disproportionate health impacts and greater obstacles to economic growth in communities that can’t attract businesses and new jobs. Expanding the conversation on environmentalism and working for environmental justice are some of my top priorities for the work of the EPA, and we’re glad to have President Obama’s leadership and the help of our federal partners in this important effort,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Every agency has a unique and important role to play in ensuring that all communities receive the health and environmental protections they deserve. Our broad collaboration will mean real progress for overburdened communities.””

Any set of figures needs adjusting before it can be usefully reported

“I will now demonstrate, with a nerdy table illustration, how you correct for things such as social and demographic factors. You’ll have to pay attention, because this is a tricky concept; but at the end, when the mystery is gone, you will see why reporting the unadjusted figures as the finding, especially in a headline, is silly and wrong.”

Taming the Fire of the Rising Dragon: America Needs to Help China Avoid Environmental Disasters

“Last week, in a serious blow to China’s national high-speed rail program, two bullet trains collided near Wenzhou, derailing six rail cars and sending four plunging off the elevated line. The devastating crash killed 40 rail passengers and injured 191, and local rail officials infuriated the Chinese public by destroying and burying one of the rail cars in an apparent attempt to cover up the cause of the crash.

The Wenzhou incident is already raising new questions about the sustainability of China’s new megaprojects. For the global community, this incident should serve as a stark reminder that China’s rapid technology deployments can sometimes lead to disaster, and targeted international assistance is still needed to help China catch up on regulatory safeguards and operational best practices.”

Bombshell: Warming May Shrink Russian Permafrost 30% by 2050

“Russia’s vast permafrost areas may shrink by a third by the middle of the century due to global warming, endangering infrastructure in the Arctic zone, an emergencies ministry official said Friday.”

NPR has a page of Science News which includes links on environment and energy.
Reuters has a page on Green Business and their Science page has additional stories as do the Science and Environment pages at the Guardian.

Here are some other links you may find worthwhile:
Climate Change News Digest
Climate Progress from Center for American Progress
Rocky Mountain Institute “an independent, entrepreneurial nonprofit think-and-do tank™ that drives the efficient and restorative use of resources.”

At BPI Campus our Progressive Agenda is:
1. People matter more than profits.
2. The earth is our home, not our trash can.
3. We need good government for both #1 and #2.


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