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August 11, 2010

Clean Energy News of Note

It's the summer doldrums, but there's still been a lot of clean energy and dirty energy news hitting the wires out there. Here are some highlights.

First up we have a NY Times article about using "brownfields" as clean energy sites in California - meaning using dried up farmland as good siting for solar power projects. From the article:
Unlike some renewable energy projects blocked by objections that they would despoil the landscape, this one has the support of environmentalists.

The San Joaquin initiative is in the vanguard of a new approach to locating renewable energy projects: putting them on polluted or previously used land. The Westlands project has won the backing of groups that have opposed building big solar projects in the Mojave Desert and have fought Westlands for decades over the district's water use. Landowners and regulators are on board, too.

"It's about as perfect a place as you're going to find in the state of California for a solar project like this," said Carl Zichella, who until late July was the Sierra Club's Western renewable programs director. "There's virtually zero wildlife impact here because the land has been farmed continuously for such a long time and you have proximity to transmission, infrastructure and markets."
In the world of dirty energy, there's been some news out lately about toxic coal ash (the by-product of burning coal for electricity). Right now the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed two very federal safeguards for coal ash - and this Alamogordo Daily News article looks at residents in New Mexico who are fighting to make sure its regulated as a toxic substance.

Meanwhile, after some serious pressure from grassroots groups, EPA announced two more public hearings on these proposed coal ash rules - one in Louisville, KY, and one in Pittsburgh, PA. You can learn all about the hearings on EPA's coal ash rules website - and make sure you submit your comment calling for strong federal safeguards for coal ash right away! And if you want to see if there's a coal ash storage site near you, check out our map.

From water quality (coal ash contaminates groundwater all the time) to air quality. There's a new report out showing the EPA action on air pollution will not hurt the industry. From the release:
An expert report issued today finds that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can move forward in a timely way on new air quality rules for power plant emissions to improve public health while maintaining the reliability of the nation's power system.

"However, these will tend to be older, smaller generating units that are already reaching the end of their design life. We have identified at least 40 units that are scheduled for retirement with an average age of more than 50 years old."

The report, Ensuring a Clean, Modern Electric Generating Fleet while Maintaining Electric System Reliability....reviews the impact on power plant operations of proposed EPA rules to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), mercury, and other hazardous air pollutants.
Related to air quality, EPA just issued air pollution rules for facilities that produce cement. This may sound small and inconsequential, but it's quite the opposite. From EPA's release:
(The final rules) protect Americans' health by cutting emissions of mercury, particle pollution and other harmful pollutants from Portland cement manufacturing, the third-largest source of mercury air emissions in the United States. The rules are expected to yield $7 to $19 in public health benefits for every dollar in costs.

Mercury can damage children's developing brains, and particle pollution is linked to a wide variety of serious health effects, including aggravated asthma, irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, and premature death in people with heart and lung disease.
And finally, we go back to clean energy. Our friends over at the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy have a brand new website in honor of their 30th anniversary - go check it out.


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