Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Regulators Approve First Offshore Wind Farm in U.S.

Factory farms? No. Wind farms? Yes, please.

Check out some exciting news:

After nine years of regulatory review, the federal government gave the green light Wednesday to the nation’s first offshore wind farm, a highly contested project off the coast of Cape Cod.

The approval of the 130-turbine farm gives a significant boost to the nascent offshore wind industry in the United States, which has lagged far behind Europe and China in harnessing the strong and steady power of ocean breezes to provide electricity to homes and businesses.

But hold your horses:

Several regulatory hurdles remain, and opponents of the wind farm have vowed to go to court, potentially stalling Cape Wind for several more years. full article

Saturday, April 10, 2010

loosey goosey coal mining regulations

The safety regulations of coal mining is perhaps as horrifying as its environmental impact. The recent West Virginia coal mine explosion (that left no survivors) shines light on limp violation-reduction policies that keep dangerous coal mines up and running.
[T]he mine had received 204 violations that were deemed serious and significant over the previous two years, well above average...Since the start of 2009, the records show, the mine had at least 50 notices of problems that Massey knew existed but failed to correct. more
Why didn't a pattern of violations warrant closure of the mine?

Officials of the mine safety agency said that they were bound by the current regulations, which require them to issue warning letters, and that if companies successfully reduce their rate of violations by 30 percent, they are not to be found to have a pattern of violations...Companies can escape the added oversight even if they continue to be worse than the national average. more

and coal companies rigorously appeal their citations:

Massey appealed at least 37 of the 50 citations for serious safety violations that it received last year...At a hearing in February, Representative George Miller, Democrat of California, complained that the growing number of appeals by coal companies threatened to “render the federal efforts to hold mine operators accountable meaningless.” Mining safety experts have expressed similar concerns. more

Seems like appealing citations is the least offensive defense tactic on Massey's list. Massey CEO Don Blankenship

poured in $3 million, to unseat a justice he expected would rule against Massey in a lawsuit. It was so much money, his strategy backfired. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the newly elected state justice was too tainted by Blankenship's money to rule on the case. more

If you're a frequent reader of The Colonic, Massey Energy might sound familiar. Recall that in September of 2009, Massey and Verizon teamed up and threw an anti-environmental hoopla at the West Virginia coal mine to rally against the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

Monday, April 5, 2010

NY says no more outdated nuclear cooling

Great news:

In a major victory for environmental advocates, New York State has ruled that outmoded cooling technology at the Indian Point nuclear power plant kills so many Hudson River fish, and consumes and contaminates so much water, that it violates the federal Clean Water Act.

The decision is a blow to the plant’s owner, the Entergy Corporation, which now faces the prospect of having to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build stadium-size cooling towers, or risk that Indian Point’s two operating reactors — which supply 30 percent of the electricity used by New York City and Westchester County — could be forced to shut down.

...But the strongly worded letter from the Department of Environmental Conservation, issued late Friday, said flatly that Indian Point’s cooling systems, even if modified in a less expensive way proposed by Entergy, “do not and will not comply” with New York’s water quality standards.

...Sucking so much water causes plankton, eggs and larvae to be drawn into the plant’s machinery, or entrained, and the water pressure also causes fish to be trapped, or impinged, against intake screens, the state said.

Full article