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Category Archives: Energy

The Dirty Truth About Green Batteries

Earther: “Making that future a reality will, among other things, require a lot of batteries: batteries to charge our electric cars; batteries to store solar power collected while the sun’s up and wind power harnessed when it’s gusty out. And as a new report by researchers at the University of Technology Sydney warns, that’s likely to drive demand for the metals used to build green batteries—as well as wind turbines and solar panels—through the roof. In other words the clean tech boom is, at least in the short term, likely to fuel a mining boom. And that won’t come without cost. “We already know about the environmental, social, and human rights impacts extraction is posing to front line communities right now,” Payal Sampat, mining program director at Earthworks, which commissioned the new report, told Earther. “It’s kind of unimaginable to think about… how it would be considered sustainable to scale up those impacts that many fold and still be reaping benefits.”

Much like our smartphones and computers, the high-tech energy infrastructure of tomorrow requires a host of metals and minerals from across the periodic table and the planet. The lithium-ion batteries used in EVs and energy storage require not just lithium, but often cobalt, manganese, and nickel. Electric vehicle engines rely on rare earths, as do the permanent magnet-based generators inside some wind turbines. Solar panels gobbles up a significant share of the world’s supply of tellurium, and gallium, along with a sizable fraction of mined silver and indium. Most renewable technologies demand heaps of copper and aluminum…”

House Democrats launch probe into EPA officials’ ties to utilities

POLITICO: “The House Energy and Commerce Committee is launching an investigation into whether top EPA officials violated ethics rules by launching a rollback of air pollution regulations that benefited their former lobbying clients in the electric utility sector. The committee’s Democrats are seeking to probe communications between the utilities and an industry group that was… Continue Reading

In blow to climate, coal plants emitted more than ever in 2018

International Energy Agency: “Energy demand worldwide grew by 2.3% last year, its fastest pace this decade, an exceptional performance driven by a robust global economy and stronger heating and cooling needs in some regions. Natural gas emerged as the fuel of choice, posting the biggest gains and accounting for 45% of the rise in energy… Continue Reading

Terabytes of Enron data have quietly gone missing from the Department of Energy

Muckrock – Two terabytes on the 2000-2001 Western Energy Crisis were unpublished by FERC, and not even its custodians know why: “Government investigations into California’s electricity shortage, ultimately determined to be caused by intentional market manipulations and capped retail electricity prices by the now infamous Enron Corporation, resulted in terabytes of information being collected by the… Continue Reading

New Urban Centres Database sets new standards for information on cities at global scale

EU Science Hub: “Data analysis highlights very diverse development patterns and inequalities across cities and world regions. Building on the Global Human Settlement Layer (GHSL), the new database provides more detailed information on the cities’ location and size as well as characteristics such as greenness, night time light emission, population size, the built-up areas exposed… Continue Reading

Watch the Doomsday Clock announcement January 24 at 10 a.m. Eastern time

“The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists will host a live international news conference at 10 a.m. EST/1500 GMT on Thursday, January 24, 2019, to announce the 2019 time of the Doomsday Clock. The news conference will take place at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Watch the announcement live on clock.thebulletin.org, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter.  … Continue Reading

GW-Stanford Study Recommends Nuclear Waste Program “Reset”

“The U.S. must start from scratch with a new nuclear waste management and disposal strategy – a Stanford-led panel and recommends that the United States “reset” its nuclear waste program by moving responsibility for commercially generated, used nuclear fuel away from the federal government and into the hands of an independent, not-for-profit, utility-owned and funded nuclear waste management organization. The… Continue Reading

EPA criminal action against polluters hits 30-year low

AP: “The Environmental Protection Agency hit a 30-year low in 2018 in the number of pollution cases it referred for criminal prosecution, Justice Department data show. EPA said in a statement that it is directing “its resources to the most significant and impactful cases.” But the 166 cases referred for prosecution in the last fiscal… Continue Reading

Impact of Government Shutdown Across America

The New York Times – “In many parts of the United States, the shutdown has underscored how deeply the federal government is connected to everyday life. “From the start, it has seemed like the federal government shutdown with no end in sight. More than three weeks later, with Washington still gridlocked over President Trump’s demand… Continue Reading

The Simon Abundance Index: A New Way to Measure Availability of Resources

Cato Institute: “In this paper, we revisit the main points of contention in the debate regarding availability of resources and their relationship with population growth. Using the latest price data for 50 foundational commodities covering energy, food, materials, and metals, we propose a new way of measuring resource availability based on four concepts. First, the… Continue Reading

New digital archive enables community use of terrestrial and subsurface ecosystem data sets

Earth and Space News: “Over the past decade, data from Earth and environmental research have dramatically increased in volume, complexity, and diversity, but in many cases, efforts to make these data usable and accessible have not kept pace. This data proliferation has created an urgent need for data preservation, curation, quality checks, and standards for… Continue Reading