Mary Johannson, New York, NY asked:
The three-year anniversary of the 2010 BP oil spill just passed. What do green groups think of the progress since in restoring the region? Here is an answer from E – The Environmental Magazine:
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Burning
When an undersea oil well blew out 50 miles off the Louisiana coast on April 20, 2010 and caused an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig above it (killing 11 workers), no one knew that an even bigger disaster was yet to come. Over the next three months, 4.9 million gallons of crude poured into the water before BP could get the wellhead capped to stop the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
According to BP, which has already spent $14 billion on clean-up and restoration, the Gulf is returning to baseline conditions prior to the disaster. “No company has done more, faster to respond to an industrial accident than BP did in response to the Deepwater Horizon accident in 2010,” reports the company.
But not everybody sees the situation that way. Many environmentalists are concerned that, while BP has done a thorough job removing visible oil from the water column and surface, little has been done to repair damage to marine life and ecosystems.
“Three years after the initial explosion, the impacts of the disaster continue to unfold,” says Doug Inkley, senior scientist at the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). A recent report by the group found that the three-year-old spill is still having a serious negative effect on wildlife populations in the Gulf. For one, dolphin deaths in the region have remained above average every single month since the disaster. In the first two months of 2013, infant dolphins were found dead at six times pre-spill average rates. Says Inkley: “These ongoing deaths—particularly in an apex predator like the dolphin—are a strong indication that there is something amiss with the Gulf ecosystem.”
Gulf dolphins aren’t the only ones suffering. NWF found that more than 1,700 sea turtles were stranded in coastal areas of the Gulf between May 2010 and November 2012—almost three times the pre-spill rate for the animals. Researchers have also detected changes in the cellular function of Gulf killifish, a common bait fish at the base of the food chain. And a coral colony seven miles from the offending wellhead struggles due to oil and dispersants compromising its ability to rebuild itself.
“The oil disaster highlighted the gaps in our understanding of the Gulf of Mexico,” says Florida State University oceanographer Ian MacDonald. “What frustrates me is how little has changed over the past three years. In many cases, funding for critical research has even been even been cut, limiting our understanding of the disaster’s impacts.”
MacDonald and others are optimistic that a federal court will find BP accountable for further damages in a civil trial now underway. NWF says that substantially more money is needed to carry out restoration efforts vital to the biological and economic stability of the Gulf region. “Despite the public relations blitz by BP, this spill is not over,” says NWF’s David Muth. “Justice will only be served when BP and its co-defendants pay to restore the wildlife and habitats of the Mississippi River Delta and the Gulf of Mexico.”
BP Gulf of Mexico Restoration
National Wildlife Federation
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Current run-of-river site on the Upper Stave River. From the Innergex website (link below).
By Editors of Electric Light & Power/ POWERGRID International
Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. closed a $72 million non-recourse construction and term project financing for the Northwest Stave River run-of-river hydroelectric project located in British Columbia, Canada.
The 17.5 MW Northwest Stave River hydroelectric project is located on Crown land, about 35 km north of Mission, British Columbia. Construction began in 2011 and commercial operation is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2013. Northwest Stave’s average annual production is estimated to reach 61,900 MWh, enough to power about 6,000 average Canadian households.
All of the electricity it will produce will be covered by a 40-year fixed-price power purchase agreement with BC Hydro, which was obtained under that province’s 2008 clean power call request for proposals and which provides for an annual adjustment to the selling price based on a portion of the consumer price index. The proceeds of the financing will be used to fund about 80 percent of the total project costs.
For more, follow this link: elp.com Northwest Stave River Project
The image can be found at the Innergex website’s Upper Stave River project page.
- “Unreliable Sources 6: How the News Media Help the Kochs & ExxonMobil Spread Climate Disinformation” It’s Time for the Media to Stop Giving Climate Contrarians a Free Ride. [Huffington Post]
- In Ontario, flat demand for power, coupled with new supplies of both nuclear and renewable power, will create surpluses more and more often, according to the 18-month outlook from the Independent Electricity System Operator. [Toronto Star]
- The International Energy Agency warned Germany that rising power prices threaten to erode public support for green energy. Increased renewable power has helped reduce wholesale power prices, but the consumer surcharge for power has continued to rise. [Wall Street Journal]
- A tornado caused a scare outside Moscow when it passed over the decommissioned site of the world’s first civilian nuclear power plant. Video footage shows the tornado over the Obninsk nuclear station.
- The chairman of the US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee reintroduced a bill to boost development of variable renewable power sources, including solar and wind, through tax incentives for storage technologies. [Platts]
- The Southern Co., one of the largest utilities in the Southeast, is brainstorming ways it could more widely incorporate renewable energy, particularly solar power, into its traditional business model. [Hattiesburg American]
- Three organizations fighting for the closure of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon are asking the Vermont Supreme Court to deny an appeal, filed by the plant’s owner, of a pair of decisions rendered by the state’s Public Service Board. [Brattleboro Reformer]
(You can blame climate change for this, if you want…)
GREEN MOUNTAIN POWER MONITORING
HYDRO FACILITIES FOR HIGH WATER CONDITIONS
COLCHESTER, VT…With the heavy rains that drenched Vermont over the past two days causing damage to roads and other infrastructure, Green Mountain Power’s hydro generation team is monitoring its 32 hydro stations and dams across the state.
“We are very focused on the four dams on the Lamoille River system, as water flows there are the highest so far,” said Dorothy Schnure, GMP corporate spokesperson. “Water levels as of Friday noon are above typical high spring levels. Systems are operating as designed; however, additional rains could change conditions and we want to ensure that we have taken all necessary and precautionary steps to protect public safety.”
Green Mountain Power has been in contact with Vermont Emergency Management as well as communities that could be affected by flooding near its dams. In Milton, GMP is working with Milton officials to notify residents along the Lamoille River to be aware of the potential that additional heavy rain could cause flooding.
“We are also closely monitoring hydro stations and dams on the Winooski River, the Passumpsic River, the Otter Creek in the Middlebury and Rutland regions, as well as other areas,” Schnure said. “With the forecast for more rain, we will continue the vigorous monitoring and inspections with crews scheduled throughout the weekend.”
Green Mountain Power advises people to stay away from the rivers and riverbanks. People should not attempt to use rivers for recreational purposes, as the warning barrels above dams can be washed out in high water conditions. Also, at this time the river is full of debris and cold water temperatures are dangerous.
Your Guide to Getting Off the Grid
by Paul Scheckel
“We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using Nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy–sun, wind and tide. I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”
For those looking for creative ways to lower your energy costs, generate more of their own power, or become less reliant on the grid, energy expert Paul Scheckel offers practical advice for taking matters into their own hands.
Understanding the fundamentals of solar, wind, water, and biofuel energy production can help each of us make our homes ready for renewable power.
Chapters in The Homeowner’s Energy Handbook provide a comprehensive discussion of renewable energy sources along with “green guides” for building energy-saving — and energy-producing — equipment. Step-by-step instructions show how to build a bicycle-powered generator, a biodiesel processor, a thermosiphon solar hot-water collector, a biogas generator, a smokeless wood-gas camp stove, and more.
Whether you want to button up your house to be more energy-efficient, find deep energy savings, or take your home entirely off the grid, this guide delivers the knowledge and skills you need to reduce your use, then produce!
Green Energy Times will soon be reviewing The Homeowner’s Energy Handbook in more detail. For those who want to get a head start before that review appears, it is available from Storey Publishing.
Paul Scheckel will be writing regular columns for Green Energy Times as well, beginning June 15. Be sure to pick up each edition.
- “Microgrids: A Utility’s Best Friend or Worst Enemy?” As arguments against renewables prove faulty, microgrids are beginning to prove their worth. But it threatens the status quo.[Energy Collective]
Science and Technology:
- Clarkson University and the city of Ogdensburg, New York, are collaborating on a proposed sludge-to-renewable-fuel pilot program based on research done at Clarkson. Sludge will be turned to fuel instead of going to a landfill. [WatertownDailyTimes.com]
- Experience in Europe suggests the best way of persuading local people to accept wind farms is to ensure they have some share of the potential benefits. [The Economist]
- There is a growing chorus of analysts saying solar power is reaching grid parity. Analysts at Deutsche Bank predict that even more markets throughout the world will become sustainable solar markets without subsidies within a year. [EcoSeed]
- Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. closed a $72 million non-recourse construction and term project financing for the Northwest Stave River run-of-river hydroelectric project located in British Columbia, Canada. [Electric Light & Power]
- Increased government investment in renewables could save UK consumers billions on their energy bills in the years ahead. [uSwitch.com]
- Google has made huge investments in wind and solar power. Now, it has just bought an unusual company, Makani Power, a startup working on airborne kite-like wind turbines. [Treehugger]
- A company in Rhode Island plans to convert up to 2,000 tons of biomass, such as recycled paper, tree clippings, sewage, sludge and potentially energy crops such as algae, into 120,000 gallons of synthetic diesel fuel, each day. [Providence Eyewitness News]
- Attorneys general in Vermont, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut are petitioning the NRC for a more thorough environmental review of storage of highly radioactive nuclear waste at plant sites. [Valley News]
- The chief executives of eight leading energy utilities criticized the European Union’s political leaders for the bloc’s fragmented energy policy, calling for a more favorable market environment to encourage investment in energy infrastructure. [Wall Street Journal]
- Investing in new renewable power generation, rather than a “dash for gas”, will be the lower-cost option for keeping the lights on while cutting greenhouse gas emissions, according to the UK government’s climate change watchdog. [The Guardian]
- A Canadian nuclear power company wants to dump waste at an Ontario site about a mile off the shore of Lake Huron, approximately 120 miles upstream from the main drinking water intakes for southeastern Michigan. [Southgate News
- The Obama administration should be pushing hard for the development of renewable energy technologies even as the ongoing US gas boom makes them less economically competitive, the new head of the Department of Energy said Wednesday. [Platts]
- The US Department of Agriculture announced their Rural Energy for America Program grant application recently. The grants can pay for up to 25% of the eligible costs of a renewable energy project. [CleanTechnica]
- Massachusetts now ranks 6th nationwide for overall solar production. In fact, residential solar installations more than quadrupled between 2010 and 2012. [Business Wire]
- The Massachusetts Renewable Thermal Coalition, focused on renewable heating technologies has formed to press for support from the Massachusetts Legislature in 2013. [Biomass Magazine]
- Extended tax credits could push up wind power production over the next three years and beyond, according to an Energy Information Administration report released today. Generation could increase by as much as 34% by 2016. [Motley Fool]
- Georgia Power announced today that it has added 53.5 MW of new biomass capacity to the company’s generation portfolio, utilizing forestry byproducts, materials that would otherwise end up in landfills or be left to decompose naturally, for fuel. [Your Renewable News]
WASHINGTON, May 22 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today proposed an amendment to the farm bill that would let Vermont and other states require clear labels on any food or beverage containing ingredients that have been genetically modified.
“All over this country, people are becoming more conscious about the foods they are eating and the foods they are serving to their kids and this is certainly true for genetically engineered foods,” Sanders said. “I believe that when a mother goes to the store and purchases food for her child, she has the right to know what she is feeding her child.”
The Vermont House on May 10 voted 99-42 for legislation calling for labeling food products that contain genetically modified organisms. Opponents raised concerns that the state could be sued by bio-technology or food industries. Sanders’ proposal would make it clear that states have the authority to require the labeling of foods produced using genetically modified organisms or derived from organisms that have been genetically engineered.
“Vermont and other states must be allowed to label GMO foods,” Sanders said. “My provision would protect states from threatened lawsuits.”
Sanders’ measure also would require the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to report to Congress within two years on the percentage of food and beverages in the United States that contain genetically engineered ingredients.
Sixty-four countries around the world already require the labeling of genetically modified foods, including all of the European Union, Russia, Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand. In the United States, labels must list more than 3,000 ingredients but the Food and Drug Administration has resisted labels for genetically altered foods.
The Sanders Amendment would make it clear that states may require clear labels that let consumers know what they’re eating. “Monsanto and other major corporations should not get to decide this, the people and their elected representatives should,” Sanders said.
The medical community has raised serious health concerns about genetically engineered food. The American Public Health Association and the American Nurses Association have passed resolutions that support labeling foods with genetically engineered ingredients.
- The Guide to Limitless Clean Energy 2013, has this quote from Thomas Edison: “We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy — sun, wind and tide.” [Blue & Green Tomorrow]
Science and Technology:
- A new report from Fuel Cell Today describes how the electrolysis of water to generate hydrogen can be used in conjunction with renewable energy sources to provide a number of benefits. [Fuel Cell Today]
- Scotland focused an 18-million pound ($27 million) fund for marine energy on wave power as it seeks to get all its power from renewables by the end of the decade. [Businessweek]
- Gas-fired generation in Europe is in crisis. With the energy-only market undercut by renewables, European utilities are mothballing thermal generation capacity. [Platts]
- The European Parliament approved a non-binding resolution calling for a mandatory EU-wide share for renewables for 2030, but failed to set the target in the 40-45% range. [EurActiv]
- Europe could face power blackouts if utilities shut loss-making gas plants and aging coal facilities while governments dither over how to cope with the growing impact of renewables. [Power Engineering International]
- Australian community solar projects appear to be gathering pace, with public launches planned for the next month. Crowd-funding is one possibility being discussed. [RenewEconomy]
- The problem of high power demand in the Philippines continues to plague consumers, and the country’s Department of Energy is promoting renewable energy to improve the situation. [Solar News]
- The UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change says more than £29 billion of private investment has gone into the renewables sector in the last three years, potentially supporting up to 30,000 jobs. [Utility Week]
- The new secretary of energy says his top priorities are responding to climate change, safely managing the nation’s nuclear stockpile and fostering scientific research. [Northwest Public Radio]
- Minnesota’s governor is expected to sign into law a bill this week that will boost the state’s solar capacity from 13 MW to more than 450 MW. [PV-Tech]
- Environmental activists among Southern Co.’s shareholders are gearing up to confront the Atlanta-based utility’s leadership with accusations of giving more lip service to renewable energy than serious commitment. [Atlanta Business Chronicle]
- The Philippines has approved three wind energy projects that will produce 208 MW of power, enough for more than 40,000 middle-class households. [EcoSeed]
- The National Energy Regulator of South Africa has granted power producer Eskom a licence for its Sere wind farm in the Western Cape, paving the way for the company to start construction of its $254.3 million, 100 MW project. [Malaysia Sun]
- Northern Power Systems, headquartered in Barre, Vermont, announced its fleet of gearless wind turbines that experience hurricane-speed winds has achieved 1 million run time hours, all without incident. [InvestorIdeas.com]
- The governor of Florida has vetoed funding of millions of dollars for Florida Gulf Coast University’s unfinished Renewable Energy Research Institute. [WGCU News]
- A Colorado bill to raise the goal for renewable energy in rural areas from 10% to 20% by 2020 has been passed, but many are calling for a veto. Opposition to the bill is being pushed by the state’s largest coal-burning energy company. [Cortez Journal]
- The Energy Alternatives Division of Cupertino Electric announced the completion of the first phase of a parking lot canopy and playground shade structure-based solar system for Clovis Unified School District spanning 21 sites and totaling 5.86 MW. [RenewablesBiz]
- Ninety-five percent of U.S. energy executives expect continued research and development investment in alternative energy projects this year, according to a new survey conducted by the KPMG Global Energy Institute. [Alternative Energy Retailer magazine]
- A hearing officer for the Vermont Public Service Board has recommended that Entergy receive a state certificate of public good for a new backup diesel generator for the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, to provide emergency backup power. [Barre Montpelier Times Argus]