Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Whale sightings something to spout about

Spotters have reported record numbers early in the whale-watching season, delighting tourists, boaters and divers.


Gray whales cruise through Southern California waters every winter, but this month the migratory giants have shown up so early and in such numbers that they are astounding many longtime observers.

Whale spotters stationed at Point Vicente in Rancho Palos Verdes have logged a record 163 sightings so far this December, more than they have seen at this point in 28 years.,0,3865407.story

Article courtesy of The Los Angeles Times by Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times


Alberta tar sands expanding rapidly

When the first mine opened alongside the pristine Athabasca River in 1967, oil extracted from oil sands (also known as tar sands) was too expensive to compete with liquid crude. But now, with oil prices hovering at about $100 US per barrel, the costly and environmentally taxing process of pulling bitumen out of the clay mixture makes it economically feasible.,0,6620311.story?track=rss

Article courtesy of The Los Angeles Times –Greenspace by Dean Kuipers


SJC upholds DPU ruling approving sale of Cape Wind power to National Grid

The Supreme Judicial Court today gave its blessing to a novel power purchase agreement between Cape Wind and National Grid that was approved by the state Department of Public Utilities.

In a 34-page ruling written by Justice Margot Botfsford, the high court unanimously rejected every argument advanced by critics of the wind farm planned for Nantucket Sound.

Article courtesy of The Boston Globe by John R. Ellement



Tuesday, December 27, 2011

U.S. fights EU on airline carbon emissions

On Wednesday, the European Union’s highest court fended off a challenge from the U.S. and established greenhouse gas emissions controls for all airlines flying anywhere in Europe. Airlines now will be required to pay or trade for gas emission allowances, beginning Jan. 1, although the first year is largely free of charge.,0,762718.story?track=rss

Article courtesy of The Los Angeles Times -Greenspace posted by Dean Kuipers

Thursday, December 22, 2011

EPA regulates emissions of mercury, arsenic and many other toxins

Finally, some sanity regarding smokestack emissions. After decades of political squabbling, on Wednesday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, or MATS, which will dramatically cut the amount of highly toxic mercury and about 70 other pollutants released in the United States. The rules target the emissions from coal-fired power plants.,0,4536616.story?track=rss

Article courtesy of The Los Angeles Times Green Space posted by Dean Kuipers



Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Why is radon the public health risk that it is?

EPA estimates that about 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the U.S. are radon-related. Exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Radon is an odorless, tasteless and invisible gas produced by the decay of naturally occurring uranium in soil and water. Radon is a form of ionizing radiation and a proven carcinogen. Lung cancer is the only known effect on human health from exposure to radon in air. Thus far, there is no evidence that children are at greater risk of lung cancer than are adults.


Article courtesy of The United States Environmental Protection Agency

Bird advocates urge mandatory standards for wind energy projects

The American Bird Conservancy on Wednesday petitioned the U.S. Department of the Interior to replace its proposed voluntary guidelines for siting and operating wind farms with mandatory enforceable standards designed to make the technology safer for wildlife including migrating birds and bats.,0,2978806.story

Article courtesy of The Los Angeles Times –Greenspace post by Louis Sahagun

Breakthrough could double solar energy output

A new discovery from a chemist at the University of Texas at Austin may allow photovoltaic solar cells to double their efficiency, thus providing loads more electrical power from regular sunlight.

Not only that, but it’s way cheap. Chemistry professor Xiaoyang Zhu and his team discovered that an organic plastic semiconductor could double the number of electrons harvested out of one photon of sunlight.,0,3897047.story?track=rss

Article courtesy of The Los Angeles Times-Greenspace posted by Dean Kuipers



Neti pot danger? Two die from amoeba infection

Last week, Louisiana's Department of Health and Hospitals issued a warning to residents: Don't use tap water to rinse your nasal passages.

The warning came after a 51-year-old woman in the state died after she was infected with the "brain-eating" amoeba Naegleria fowleri, which enters the body through the nose and sometimes causes devastating meningitis.  Apparently, the amoeba lurked in tap water the woman used in her neti pot, a pitcher-like device used to rinse nasal passages.,0,6460552.story


Article Courtesy of The Los Angeles Times –For the Booster Shots blog by Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times

Comet defies death, brushes up to sun and lives

WASHINGTON—A small comet survived what astronomers figured would be a sure death when it danced uncomfortably close to the broiling sun.

Comet Lovejoy, which was only discovered a couple of weeks ago, was supposed to melt Thursday night when it came close to where temperatures hit several million degrees. Astronomers had tracked 2,000 other sun-grazing comets make the same suicidal trip. None had ever survived.

Article courtesy of The Boston Globe by Seth Borenstein Associated Press Science Writer




Thursday, December 15, 2011

Expanding Houston light rail will create jobs

As I’ve mentioned before, the Obama Administration is committed to getting job-creating projects funded and under way more quickly in order to put people back to work, and to restore some of the economic security that middle-class folks have felt slipping away for the last few decades.

Yesterday, DOT took an important step in this process when Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff signed two agreements providing $900 million to extend Houston’s light rail system by an additional 12 miles.

America's fourth largest city deserves a world class transit system that will meet the region's needs for the 21st century, and the investments we're making will help accomplish that.

Article courtesy of Smart Growth Online From Fast Lane: The Official Blog of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation

Maryland mall to become a 'town'

Full Story: 

Plan envisions White Flint Mall becoming a ‘town’

The 30-year-old White Flint Mall on the Rockville Pike in North Bethesda, Maryland, "is going to be deconstructed," says Mike Cohen, the architect for its replacement. "It's not going to be a mall. It's going to be a town."

The Montgomery Gazette reports that representatives of the mall's owner, Lerner Enterprises, intend to replace most of the 850,000 sq. ft. building and surrounding parking structures with a collection of 21 buildings. The company envisions four new office buildings, a 300-room hotel, and 1 million square feet of shopping and restaurants.

Article from Smart Growth Online –Source: Montgomery Gazette post by Philip Langdon



The right course to smart growth

The folks who run the trolley, the Metropolitan Transit System, have completed the final touches on the Grossmont Transit Center. What a difference.

Once there were six football fields of asphalt parking lot, a trolley platform and nothing more. Passengers wanting to go to a shopping mall or a hospital on a bluff high overhead were confronted with a cliffside stairway. Disabled? Good luck.

The acreage has been converted into 527 apartment units and a parking structure for residents and trolley users. The dedication of two new elevators and a skybridge Saturday gives everyone access. Article courtesy of Smart Growth Online from The San Diego United-Tribune Editorial Board





Monday, December 12, 2011

Climate talks fail despite warnings

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - The hard-fought deal at a global climate conference in South Africa keeps talks alive but doesn't address the core problem: The world's biggest carbon polluters aren't willing to cut emissions of greenhouse gases enough to stave off dangerous levels of global warming.

With many scientists saying time is running out, a bigger part of the solution may have to come from the rise of climate-friendly technologies being developed outside the U.N. process.
Read more:

Article courtesy of by Karl Ritter Associated Press


EPA says 'fracking' probably contaminated well water in Wyoming

Reporting from Washington—

The Environmental Protection Agency said that hydraulic fracturing, a controversial natural gas drilling process, probably contaminated well water in Wyoming, a finding sure to roil the debate about expanding natural gas drilling around the country.

The EPA's new draft report found dangerous amounts of benzene in a monitoring well near the town of Pavillion, in central Wyoming.,0,1034865.story

Article courtesy of The Los Angeles Times by By Neela Banerjee, Washington Bureau


Advocacy group's extreme weather map brings climate change home

Climate change much? A new map published today by the Natural Resources Defense Council makes it plain that extreme weather attributable to climate change isn’t something that only happens in other parts of the world. Chances are you’ve had your own Hurricane Irene, or drought, or something like it in your own backyard.

The interactive map lays out 2,941 monthly weather records broken in communities throughout the U.S. from January thru October of this year, and traces an onslaught of severe storms, drought, flooding and calamity. The point is to show how climate change is affecting your community every day.

Article courtesy of The Los Angeles Times -Greenspace




Thursday, December 8, 2011

Buffett investment in California solar farm could boost industry

The agreement by investor Warren Buffett's MidAmerican Energy Holdings to buy a $2-billion photovoltaic farm in San Luis Obispo County could bring a ray of financial sunshine to the battered solar-energy industry.

The scale of Buffett's foray into this sector of the renewable energy scene is considerably more modest than his $34-billion purchase of BNSF Railway, but it could provide the same kind of boost to the solar power business that the 2009 acquisition did to the railroad industry, experts said.,0,6937593.story

Article courtesy of The Los Angeles Times by Ronald D. White


Friday, December 2, 2011

Geoengineering could save Earth -- or destroy it

DURBAN, South Africa—Brighten clouds with sea water? Spray aerosols high in the stratosphere? Paint roofs white and plant light-colored crops? How about positioning "sun shades" over the Earth?

At a time of deep concern over global warming, a group of scientists, philosophers and legal scholars examined whether human intervention could artificially cool the Earth -- and what would happen if it did.

A report released late Thursday in London and discussed Friday at the U.N. climate conference in South Africa said that -- in theory -- reflecting a small amount of sunlight back into space before it strike's the Earth's surface would have an immediate and dramatic effect.

Article courtesy of Arthur Max Associated Press



Thursday, December 1, 2011

Molten salt keeps solar power flowing

By storing solar energy in molten salt, BrightSource Energy can now build one less solar power plant.

The company said today that it is adding energy storage to three planned solar projects that will supply power to utility Southern California Edison.

Instead of building seven power plants to provide about 4 million megawatt-hours per year, BrightSource now expects to be able to meet that with six concentrating solar plants to be built over the next six years, including three that will have storage. It is now constructing its first project, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, which will not have storage.;txt

Article courtesy of CNET News by Martin LaMonica




Shrimp Farming in the Vegas Desert

Nearly a decade ago, I drove northeast out of the Davis Mountains of west Texas into the barren plain of the Permian Basin on the advice of a gourmand I trust. His directions: detour 25 miles off of IH-10 to a tiny town called Imperial and ask for a lean, weathered marine biologist named Bart. There, in the most landlocked place imaginable, Bart the biologist would provide me the most delicious shrimp I had ever eaten, grown in his backyard.

Article courtesy of Liberty Mutual’s Responsibility Project posted by Andrea Bennett



Curbside Composting in Portland

This month, the famously eco-conscious city of Portland, Ore., started a new – and controversially stinky – garbage collection program. The city is paring down its traditional garbage collection system in favor of “curbside composting;” compost materials (food scraps, egg shells, etc.) will be picked up weekly, while old-fashioned garbage pickups by the city will be reduced to twice monthly.

Article courtesy of Liberty Mutual’s Responsibility Project posted by Andrea Bennett



Capping Urban Highways Is A Growing Trend

A recent article in Architectural Record reported on the growing popularity of covering sunken freeways with “land bridges,” and using the found space to reconnect neighborhoods that were torn apart by the highway construction boom of the 1950s and 1960s. Seattle, Boston, and Phoenix have all constructed these highway caps, and Dallas is currently building a three-block-long park over a freeway.

Article courtesy of Smart Growth Online





Grants to create jobs, improve housing, transportation, and economy in urban & rural areas

WASHINGTON - U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan today announced the recipients of the 2011 Sustainable Communities Grants, totaling nearly $96 million. Twenty-seven communities and organizations will receive Community Challenge grants and 29 regional areas will receive Regional Planning grants. The goal of HUD's Sustainable Communities grants is to help communities and regions improve their economic competitiveness by connecting housing with good jobs, quality schools and transportation (see attached grant chart).

Article courtesy of Smart Growth Newsletter