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Category Archives: Energy

Mapping Geothermal Heat Flow and Existing Plants

“Geothermal power is a growing part of our country’s energy mix. We want to take a moment to help you learn more about this clean, renewable energy source. Read on to learn how geothermal energy works. Then spend some time checking out the map above, which shows locations of existing and in-development geothermal plants, over a base layer that shows geothermal heat flow potential in different parts of the country. Conventional hydrothermal resources make up most of the current geothermal operating plants in the United States. Power generation comes from drawing heat from the fluid found naturally deep below the Earth’s surface. Steam is captured at the surface and spins a turbine, which then powers an electric generator. A newer technology — and one that is gaining momentum — is Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS). Recent developments are making this technology more feasible and cost-effective, and we may be poised to see many new clean, renewable geothermal plants in the near future. EGS works by injecting cold water deep into the Earth’s crust. This water flows through fissures and cracks in the basement rock, heating up considerably along its path. The ensuing steam is then pumped to the surface and, much like conventional hydrothermal, turns a turbine that powers a generator. Water is then recycled back into the Earth’s crust. Learn more about EGSwith our geothermal infographicThe geothermal sector has also seen commercial successes in low-temperature and co-produced geothermal resources. Here, low-temperature means 300°F or less, and co-production means that heat captured from geothermal fluid in the ground gets used for electricity along with another use, like direct heating, greenhouses or fish farming. Low-temperature plants are bringing valuable returns on investment in areas of the country that have not been accessed before.   The map above allows you to learn a lot about the status of geothermal power across our country. Here we can see that areas with high heat flow potential are also areas with many operating and developing power plants. Clicking on the clusters of points will allow you to zoom into an area and see how the plants are distributed. Clicking “About the Points” and “About the Data” can give you more information on various stages of exploration and development. Learn more about how heat flow is calculated hereWant to learn more? Check out the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s geothermal page or see other ways that geothermal data is being visualized.”

U.S. Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 2013

U.S. ENERGY-RELATED CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS INCREASED 2.5% IN 2013 “Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) increased from 5,267 million metric tons (MMmt) in 2012 to 5,396 MMmt in 2013 (2.5%). The 2013 increase was largely the result of colder weather leading to an increase in energy intensity (energy measured in Btu per dollar of gross domesticContinue Reading

New Environmental Report Documents Fracking’s Toxic Loophole

News release: “Despite a federal ban on the use of diesel fuel in hydraulic fracturing without a permit, several oil and gas companies are exploiting a Safe Drinking Water Act loophole pushed through by Halliburton to frack with petroleum-based products containing even more dangerous toxic chemicals than diesel. For example, a drilling company in West TexasContinue Reading

Conflict Minerals and Resource Extraction: Dodd-Frank, SEC Regulations, and Legal Challenges

Conflict Minerals and Resource Extraction: Dodd-Frank, SEC Regulations, and Legal Challenges. Michael V. Seitzinger, Legislative Attorney; Kathleen Ann Ruane, Legislative Attorney. October 15, 2014. “Two sections of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Protection Act (Dodd-Frank) require that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC or Commission) issue regulations to make public the involvement of U.S. companies in conflict minerals and inContinue Reading

New GAO Reports – Changing Crude Oil Markets, Federal Paid Admin Leave, Food Safety

CHANGING CRUDE OIL MARKETS: Allowing Exports Could Reduce Consumer Fuel Prices, and the Size of the Strategic Reserves Should Be Reexamined, GAO-14-807: Published: Sep 30, 2014. Publicly Released: Oct 20, 2014. FEDERAL PAID ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE: Additional Guidance Needed to Improve OPM Data, GAO-15-79: Published: Oct 17, 2014. Publicly Released: Oct 20, 2014. FOOD SAFETY: USDA Needs to Strengthen Its Approach toContinue Reading

NRC Staff Issues Volume 3 of Yucca Mountain Safety Evaluation Report

News release: “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has published Volume 3 of its safety evaluation  report on the proposed underground geologic nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev. Volume 3 covers the period after a repository at Yucca Mountain would be permanently closed should NRC authorize construction following completion of the remaining steps in the licensing process.Continue Reading

Energy for growing and harvesting crops is a large component of farm operating costs

EIA: “The U.S. agriculture industry used nearly 800 trillion British thermal units (Btu) of energy in 2012, or about as much primary energy as the entire state of Utah. Agricultural energy consumption includes energy needed to grow and harvest crops and energy needed to grow livestock. Crop operations consume much more energy than livestock operations,Continue Reading

Preparing Our Communities for Climate Impacts: Recommendations for Federal Action

“The Georgetown Climate Center released 100 recommendations … to improve federal programs that could be used to prepare for climate change. The new report will inform the White House State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. The report, Preparing Our Communities for Climate Impacts: Recommendations for Federal Action, draws from a seriesContinue Reading

New GAO Reports – Climate Change, Specialty Metals

CLIMATE CHANGE: USDA’s Ongoing Efforts Can Be Enhanced with Better Metrics and More Relevant Information for Farmers, GAO-14-755: Published: Sep 16, 2014. Publicly Released: Oct 16, 2014: “In 2012, the United States produced about $395 billion in agricultural commodities, with about half of this revenue from crop sales and half from livestock. According to the Third National ClimateContinue Reading

New GAO Reports – Combatting Nuclear Smuggling, CPSC, Ocean Acidification

COMBATING NUCLEAR SMUGGLING: Risk-Informed Covert Assessments and Oversight of Corrective Actions Could Strengthen Capabilities at the Border, GAO-14-826: Published: Sep 22, 2014. Publicly Released: Oct 14, 2014: CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION: Challenges and Options for Responding to New and Emerging Risks, GAO-15-17: Published: Oct 14, 2014. Publicly Released: Oct 14, 2014: “CPSC is responsible for ensuring the safety of thousands ofContinue Reading

Priority Agenda Enhancing the Climate Resilience of America’s Natural Resources

“The interagency Council on Climate Change Preparedness and Resilience, established by Section 6 of the Order, convened a Climate and Natural Resources Working Group (CNRWG) to complete the inventory, assessment, and plan called for in Section 3 of the Order. The CNRWG includes Departments of Defense, Interior, and Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National OceanicContinue Reading

Short-Term Energy and Winter Fuels Outlook

“EIA projects average U.S. household expenditures for natural gas, heating oil, electricity, and propane will decrease this winter heating season (October 1 through March 31) compared with last winter, which was 11% colder than the previous 10-year average nationally. Projected average household expenditures for propane and heating oil are 27% and 15% lower, respectively, becauseContinue Reading