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US solar power employs more people than oil, coal and gas combined

Independent | Posted on January 27, 2017

The latest report from the US Department of Energy (DOE) reveals solar energy accounts for the largest proportion of employers in the Electric Power Generation sector, with wind energy the third largest, while the coal industries have declined in the past 10 years. Solar energy employed 374,000 people over the year 2015-2016, making up 43 per cent of the sector’s workforce, while the traditional fossil fuels combined employed 187,117, making up just 22 per cent of the workforce, according to the report.


California proposes ambitious new climate goals

The Hill | Posted on January 26, 2017

California formally proposed a 40 percent slash in the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, minutes after President Trump was inaugurated.  The state’s Air Resources Board said that 40 percent cut by 2030, compared with 1990 levels, would be the most ambitious climate goal in North America. “Climate change is impacting California now, and we need to continue to take bold and effective action to address it head on to protect and improve the quality of life in California,” Mary Nichols, the board’s chairwoman, said in a statement.  Scott Pruitt, the nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, said at a confirmation hearing that he would consider ending California’s decades-old authority to enforce its own limits on emissions from cars and trucks.  The California plan would extend its cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases through 2030, cut the carbon intensity of fuels used for transportation and put more than 4 million zero-emission vehicles on the roads.


Why coal jobs aren't coming back, despite Trump's actions

CNN | Posted on January 26, 2017

President Trump's "America First" energy plan makes clear that the White House is committed to "reviving" the country's long-suffering coal industry.It's part of Trump's effort to live up to his campaign pledge to coal miners, whom he has told: "Get ready, because you're going to be working your asses off."As soon as this week, Trump could back up that campaign talk with real action. His energy plan, which appeared on WhiteHouse.gov just minutes after President Obama stepped down, promises to eliminate regulations that have been "harmful" for coal and other energy industries.For instance, observers believe Trump could swiftly issue an executive order lifting the Obama administration's moratorium on coal leasing of federal lands.Despite Trump's best intentions and regulation-busting actions, experts don't believe they will be enough to save coal.That's because coal has a fierce competitor in the form of natural gas. It's cheap, it's clean and there's a ton of it in the U.S. Plus, Trump himself supports expanded drilling of U.S. shale, the chief source of the boom in natural gas."The coal jobs aren't coming back," said James Van Nostrand, director of the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development at West Virginia University College of Law.


Wyoming proposal would require utilities to use fossil fuels

The Washington Post | Posted on January 26, 2017

A group of Wyoming lawmakers is bucking the U.S. trend of supporting renewable energy with a plan to do the opposite: Fine utilities if they provide energy produced by wind or the sun. Blustery Wyoming ranks among the top states for wind-energy potential, but the coal, oil and natural gas industries are the backbone of the state’s economy. With a $360 million budget shortfall in public education caused by downturns in those industries and corresponding state revenue declines, legislators are hard-pressed for solutions. Renewable energy, some say, has been overly promoted and subsidized by government at the expense of the fossil fuel industry. “I want the electricity at my house generated by coal, because that’s the cheapest way to go,” said Rep. David Miller, a Republican, of the fossil-fuel requirement he’s co-sponsoring with eight others. The measure makes for an increasingly complicated relationship between Wyoming and renewable energy, even as roads are built for the biggest land-based wind project in the U.S. The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre project in south-central Wyoming will have 1,000 turbines and be able to generate electricity for close to 1 million homes in a state with just 584,000 people.


Belgium horsemeat call after drug found in Brazilian imports

Global Meat News | Posted on January 22, 2017

A discovery of Brazilian horsemeat laced with naproxen in Belgium has sparked calls for tough controls over EU imports of horsemeat.


North Dakota Landowners Sue Over Dakota Access Easements

ABC News | Posted on January 22, 2017

A group of about two dozen North Dakota landowners is suing the developer of the disputed Dakota Access oil pipeline for alleged deceit and fraud in acquiring land easements. Already, landowners in Iowa await a state judge's ruling in another easement case regarding the $3.8 billion, four-state pipeline. Other court battles are playing out in federal court in North Dakota and Washington, D.C. The Morton County landowners in the lawsuit, filed this month in U.S. District Court, are seeking more than $4 million in damages from Dakota Access LLC, a subsidiary of Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners. ETP contends the allegations "are without merit," company spokeswoman Vicki Granado said. The landowners who are suing represent only about 3 percent of the 800 North Dakota landowners who provided easements to Dakota Access, according to Granado. Those suing say Dakota Access engaged in unfair tactics and fraud while negotiating to lay pipeline on private land, resulting in compensation that was as much as nine times lower than what other landowners got. Landowners also allege they were told if they didn't agree to the offered amount, they faced losing money or getting nothing either because their land would be condemned through eminent domain or the pipeline would be moved elsewhere.


USDA Analysis Reaffirms Ethanol Benefits

25 X 25 Blog | Posted on January 22, 2017

Be assured that industry leaders were elated by the report, A Life-Cycle Analysis of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Corn-Based Ethanol, showing that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with corn-based ethanol in the United States are about 43 percent lower than gasoline when measured on an energy equivalent basis. This is a big number – and the reduction percentage will get even bigger over the next few years, driven by ongoing improvements in ethanol production and improved land management practices. But the study should – we hope, once and for all – end the frustration long experienced by ethanol advocates who have been bombarded over the years by unfounded or, worse, untrue criticisms of biofuels by legacy fuel stakeholders that seek to hold on to market share. Misguided environmental groups that have an aversion to burning anything to power our transportation system, have also consistently rejected good solutions for desired “perfect” solutions, which are, in fact, unrealistic.  The news for the ethanol industry, both here in the United States and across the world, got even better later in the week when the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released its latest food price index showing that world food prices fell for a fifth straight year in 2016. The index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, experienced a 1.5 percent drop last year, with cereals such as corn, driving the decrease in prices.


EPA nominee promises to stick to RFS

The Progressive Farmer | Posted on January 19, 2017

A Scott Pruitt-led U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would place an emphasis on following the letter of the law including the Renewable Fuel Standard and providing clarity on a federal definition of navigable waters, in what the nominee told a Senate committee Wednesday would be a return to cooperative federalism with the states. Though agriculture interests were alarmed by the total maximum daily load, or TMDL, implemented in the Chesapeake Bay by basin states and led by the Obama EPA, Pruitt told members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee the nutrients-reduction effort in the region is an example of how cooperative federalism should work. That is, states in the region put together and implemented a nutrients-reduction plan that has, in fact, reduced nutrients flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. At one point during the hearing Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., pressed Pruitt to agree climate change is caused by human activity. When asked by Democratic senators whether he agrees with President-elect Donald Trump's opinion that climate change is a hoax, Pruitt answered no. Pruitt questioned whether there is consensus on climate science, but Pruitt also said EPA has an important role regulating emissions. Pruitt's answer still wasn't enough for Sanders who declared he would not vote for Pruitt's confirmation. In his prepared statement to the committee, Pruitt said he would return the agency back to its core mission established by Congress.


A Life-Cycle Analysis of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Corn-Based Ethanol

USDA | Posted on January 17, 2017

To reflect the full range of recently published literature relating to the contribution of international landuse change to the current GHG profile of corn ethanol, ICF adopted a composite approach that averaged the results of three recently published studies (CARB, 2015; Dunn et al., 2015; and GTAP, 2013) and four scenarios developed from their results that allow for alternative sets of emissions factors and the increased use of double cropping (Babcock and Iqbal, 2014). These seven results are shown in Figure 3-4. Dunn et al. (2015) quantify two emissions related to international land-use change distinguished by the use of the Winrock and the Woods Hole emissions factors (EFs). ICF developed four scenarios from the results of the most recently published GTAP study (GTAP 2013) to account for the use of ARB EFs and Winrock EFs as well as increased double cropping (denoted “Adjusted” in Figure 3-4). Across these seven results, the average emissions impact is 8.61 g CO2e/MJ. This value converts to 9,082 g CO2e/MMBtu, which is the value ICF used as the contribution of international land-use change to corn ethanol’s current GHG profile


Wyoming Bill Would All But Outlaw Clean Energy by Preventing Utilities From Using It

Inside Climate News | Posted on January 17, 2017

While many U.S. states have mandates and incentives to get more of their electricity from renewable energy, Republican legislators in Wyoming are proposing to cut the state off from its most abundant, clean resource—wind—and ensuring its continued dependence on coal. A new measure submitted to the Wyoming legislature this week would forbid utilities from providing any electricity to the state that comes from large-scale wind or solar energy projects by 2019. It's an unprecedented attack on clean energy in Wyoming, and possibly the nation. And it comes at a time when such resources are becoming cheaper and increasingly in demand as the world seeks to transition to clean energy to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.


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