Monthly Archives: June 2019

Weekly News Check-In 6/28/19


Welcome back.

Each week we scour news outlets for articles related to energy, climate, and the transition to a carbon-free economy. We also cover related issues, like plastics and biomass. Here’s a distillation of the most interesting and useful news uncovered this week – from local to global.

— The NFGiM Team

CLIMATE

It’s so hot in Europe, the temperature map is screaming
By Miyo McGinn, Grist
June 26, 2019

Screaming hot
This week’s weather is being compared to the 2003 heatwave that was responsible for over 30,000 deaths across Western Europe — mostly of the sickly, elderly, and homeless — and estimated financial losses of over 13 billions euros ($14.8 billion).

The only reported casualties of the heat so far are three elderly French people who died after suffering cardiac arrests while swimming today, prompting officials to issue statements warning the public of the dangers of jumping into cold water when it’s so hot.

Unfortunately, this is just the start — the heatwave is expected to continue through next week, and governments are preparing for water shortages, increased risk of fires, and an influx of hospitalizations from dehydration and overheating as temperatures creep higher in the coming days.
» Read article  

As Coal Fades in the U.S., Natural Gas Becomes the Climate Battleground
By Brad Plumer, New York Times
June 26, 2019

Nationwide, energy companies plan to add at least 150 new gas plants and thousands of miles of pipelines in the years ahead.

A rush to build gas-fired plants, even though they emit only half as much carbon pollution as coal, has the potential to lock in decades of new fossil-fuel use right as scientists say emissions need to fall drastically by midcentury to avert the worst impacts of global warming.
» Read article

77 Health Organizations Call for Climate Action to Fight Public Health Emergency
By Olivia Rosane, Eco Watch
June 25, 2019

“We are here today to declare that climate change is a health emergency. Climate change is already harming the health, safety and wellbeing of every American living today and if it is not addressed, will bring untold harm to all our children and grandchildren,” former Acting Surgeon General and Retired U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Rear Admiral Boris Lushniak said in a transcript of a press call emailed to EcoWatch.
» Read article 

‘Climate apartheid’: UN expert says human rights may not survive
Right to life is likely to be undermined alongside the rule of law, special rapporteur says
By Damian Carrington, Environment editor, The Guardian
June 25, 2019

The world is increasingly at risk of “climate apartheid”, where the rich pay to escape heat and hunger caused by the escalating climate crisis while the rest of the world suffers, a report from a UN human rights expert has said.

Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said the impacts of global heating are likely to undermine not only basic rights to life, water, food, and housing for hundreds of millions of people, but also democracy and the rule of law.

Alston is critical of the “patently inadequate” steps taken by the UN itself, countries, NGOs and businesses, saying they are “entirely disproportionate to the urgency and magnitude of the threat”. His report to the UN human rights council (HRC) concludes: “Human rights might not survive the coming upheaval.”
» Read article 

Trump administration issues guidance for federal agencies to weigh climate impacts
By Valerie Volcovici, Reuters
June 21, 2019

“Time and time again, courts are ordering agencies to consider the impacts of climate change in their environmental reviews,” said Christy Goldfuss, former CEQ chair during the Obama administration. “With record-breaking storms and the recent devastating floods in the Midwest, climate impacts are looming large – the Federal government ignores them at their own peril.”
» Read article 

White House tells agencies they no longer have to weigh a project’s long-term climate impacts
By Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post
June 21, 2019

The move, which comes two days after the Environmental Protection Agency scaled back greenhouse gas requirements for power plants, is the Trump administration’s latest effort to sideline climate considerations in federal decision-making. But legal experts warned it could cause further problems for the administration in court, where judges have suggested officials need to do a better job of assessing the climate impact of their decisions.
» Read article

Clean Power Plan replacement triggers rush to court
Climate activists say they expect to have the Affordable Clean Energy rule invalidated in court.
By Robert Walton, Utility Dive
June 20, 2019

Environmental advocates and state attorneys general on Wednesday signaled they would file lawsuits to block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, which they say will be significantly less effective than the Obama-era Clean Power Plan it replaces.

The EPA finalized the rule on Wednesday, and as a result expects carbon emissions from the electric sector to fall by as much as 35% below 2005 levels by 2030. But opponents of the new rule say updates to power sector regulations should result in far greater decarbonization, and by failing to consider more effective emission control options the agency violated the Clean Air Act.
» Read article 

India weather: Temperature passes 50C Celsius in northern India
(*123.8°F)
By News Corp Australia
June 3, 2019

Temperatures passed 50 degrees Celsius in northern India as an unrelenting heatwave triggered warnings of water shortages and heatstroke. The thermometer hit 50.6 degrees Celsius in the Rajasthan desert city of Churu over the weekend, the weather department said.

The Indian Meteorological Department said severe heat could stay for up to a week across Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh states. Several deaths from heatstroke have already been recorded. About 200 million people live in northern India.
» Read article 

» More climate articles

CLEAN ENERGY ALTERNATIVES

For the first time, the U.S. got more electricity from renewables than coal
By Irina Ivanova, CBS News
June 27, 2019

For the first time, the U.S. has generated more energy from renewables than from coal, marking a landmark for non-polluting energy.

A full 22% of the electricity generated in the U.S. in April came from renewable sources like wind, solar, hydroelectric and geothermal power, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which released the official figures this week after early projections emerged in May. Just 20% of power production in April came from coal. The shift away from King Coal is due to seasonal factors as well as a long-running decline in the number of U.S. coal plants.
» Read article  

Nuclear Power & Natural Gas Hit A Wall In US: Now What?
By Tina Casey, Clean Technica
June 22, 2019

Two developments in the US energy landscape this week call into question the “clean energy” status of nuclear power and natural gas, too. In Rhode Island, state officials torpedoed a proposed natural gas power plant after a massive wave of public opposition. Meanwhile, federal officials greenlighted the sale of New Jersey’s Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in New Jersey to the company Holtec Decommissioning International, which will take it down atom by atom. So, now what?
» Read article  

Engineers lead study for replacing natural gas
By Real Estate Weekly
June 21, 2019

BuroHappold Engineering has been selected by local nonprofit Home Energy Efficiency Team (HEET) to lead the development of an GeoMicroDistrict Feasibility Study, which will explore the potential of replacing natural gas infrastructure with a network of neighborhood-scale district heating systems, or “GeoMicroDistricts.”

The goal of the Study is to assess the feasibility of designing, developing, implementing, and scaling up these systems in the Greater Boston area to reduce reliance on natural gas and move towards renewable energy sources.

It will focus on the use of ground-source heat pump technology, which uses electricity to transfer heat from the ground to a network of hot water pipes, to provide heating, and potentially cooling, for the buildings within each District.

Ground-source heat pump technology is highly efficient and, when paired with clean electricity, is considered a renewable heat source. HEET is scheduled to release the final plan in the early fall of 2019.
» Read article  

Congress pushes for storage, renewables to have same private investment incentives as fossil fuels
By Robert Walton, Utility Dive
June 17, 2019

“Clean energy technologies have made tremendous progress in the last several decades, and they deserve the same shot at success in the market as traditional energy projects have experienced through the federal tax code,” Coons said in a statement.

Updating the tax code “levels the playing field” for a wide array of energy sources, said Coons. “Clean and traditional alike.”
» Read article   

» More clean energy alternatives articles

CLEAN TRANSPORTATION

State Funding For Electric Vehicle Rebates Dries Up
By Craig LeMoult, WGBH News
June 24, 2019

After September, Massachusetts won’t give rebates to people who buy electric vehicles. The state program behind the rebates is running out of money.

For the last five years, the state has been giving $1,500 rebates to people who buy electric vehicles. The MOR-EV program has given over $30 million to more than 14,000 electric vehicle buyers. But as electric vehicles get more popular, money for the program has been running dry, and state lawmakers have failed to extend the program.
» Read article 

To compete in the global battery arms race, the US must spur its domestic market, analysts say
Industry experts say the United States has to create incentives for lithium-ion battery products to encourage manufacturers and decrease its dependence on Chinese imports.
By HJ Mai, Utility Dive
June 24, 2019

Spurred by increased global demand for electric vehicles (EVs), energy storage systems and consumer electronics, lithium-ion batteries have become invaluable in today’s global society. And while China recognized early on the importance of establishing a manufacturing base, the U.S. failed to take a similar approach.

The result of those decisions is market dominance on one side and a heavy dependency on imports on the other. To close America’s gap in the battery production sector, industry experts told Utility Dive that having a reliable domestic market driven by government incentives is key to challenge China’s superiority.
» Read article  

Green is the New Black with Asphalt Made from Algae
The next generation of roads might be made from discarded plant product rather than oil-based bitumen.
By Jessica Lombardo, forconstructionpros.com
May 29, 2015

This innovation offers a new possible option for the road building industry, which is entirely dependent on petroleum today. The types of bioasphalt developed so far relied on oils of agricultural origin (which could be needed for human nutrition) or from the paper industry, mixed with resins to improve their viscoelastic properties. Microalgae cultivation does not require the use of arable land so it offers an attractive solution.
» Read article 

» More clean transportation articles

NATURAL GAS HEALTH RISKS

Health officials want studies of natural gas projects
By Christian M. Wade, Statehouse News
June 25, 2019

While many of the battles over pipeline expansions have largely focused on environmental costs and safety concerns, officials say health risks shouldn’t be overlooked.

Steve Jones, a retired physician and volunteer for the Sierra Club, said many people just aren’t aware of the serious health risks.

“Those familiar blue flames on a gas stove produce nitrogen dioxide, which is a potent respiratory irritant,” he said at Tuesday’s briefing. “Unfortunately many parents, public health staff and boards of health do not know that gas stove cooking increases the risk of asthma.”
» Read article 

» More natural gas health risk articles

FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY

Shale Pioneer: Fracking is an “Unmitigated Disaster”
By Nick Cunningham, Oil Price
June 24, 2019

Fracking has been an “unmitigated disaster” for shale companies themselves, according to a prominent former shale executive.

“The shale gas revolution has frankly been an unmitigated disaster for any buy-and-hold investor in the shale gas industry with very few limited exceptions,” Steve Schlotterbeck, former chief executive of EQT, a shale gas giant, said at a petrochemicals conference in Pittsburgh. “In fact, I’m not aware of another case of a disruptive technological change that has done so much harm to the industry that created the change.”

He did not pull any punches. “While hundreds of billions of dollars of benefits have accrued to hundreds of millions of people, the amount of shareholder value destruction registers in the hundreds of billions of dollars,” he said. “The industry is self-destructive.”
» Read article 

U.S. Natural Gas Prices Have Collapsed
By Jude Clemente, Forbes
June 23, 2019

U.S. natural gas prices have collapsed since Memorial Day. The prompt month NYMEX gas contract is down over 16% so far in June.

Natural gas is at its lowest price level since May 2016. Now around $2.20 per MMBtu, gas this time last year was ~$3.00. Nobody saw this coming, especially when prices in mid-November spiked to nearly $5.00.
» Read article  

Former Shale Gas CEO Says Fracking Revolution Has Been ‘A Disaster’ For Drillers, Investors
By Sharon Kelly, DeSmog Blog
June 23, 2019
“Excluding capital, the big eight basin producers have destroyed on average 80 percent of the value of their companies since the beginning of the shale revolution,” Schlotterbeck said. “This is not the fall from the peak price during the shale decade, this is the drop in their share price from before the shale revolution began.”

Mr. Schlotterbeck credited the shale rush with lowering power and natural gas bills nationwide and offering significant economic benefits since 2008, when he said the shale revolution began.

“Nearly every American has benefited from shale gas, with one big exception,” he said, “the shale gas investors.”

Residents of communities where shale gas drilling and fracking have caused disruptions and health issues might take exception to Mr. Schlotterbeck’s categorical description of the beneficiaries of shale gas, as might climate scientists who have warned that the shale industry’s greenhouse gas emissions are so severe that burning gas for power may be worse for the global climate than burning coal.
» Read article 

» More fossil fuel industry articles

ATLANTIC BRIDGE PIPELINE & WEYMOUTH COMPRESSOR STATION

State adjudicator OKs Weymouth compressor station air permit
By Jessica Trufant, The Patriot Ledger
June 27, 2019

Opponents of a natural gas compressor station proposed for a site in Weymouth were dealt another blow Thursday as a state adjudicator recommended the approval of an air-quality permit for the project.

Hearing officer Jane Rothchild of the state Department of Environmental Protection said the department should uphold a permit issued to gas company Spectra Energy-Enbridge and reject an appeal filed by Weymouth, Quincy, Braintree, Hingham and a citizens group, which together had argued that the proposed station would worsen air pollution in the Fore River Basin and endanger the lives of nearby residents.

South Shore legislators and U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch called on Rothchild to reject the plan so the project can be vetted based on all the evidence.

Instead, Rothchild allowed the permit with slight modifications. For example, she recommended that Weymouth, Braintree, Hingham and Quincy be notified prior to a substantial blow down, or release of natural gas. She also suggested limiting blow downs to two per year.
Blog editor’s note – I feel a need to point out the absurdity of those last two sentences. First, are residents and people who work or go to school in this neighborhood supposed to evacuate during blowdown days? Second, a compressor station performs blowdowns based on system requirements, not based on some predetermined, limited, annual schedule. It’s about physics, not event planning….
» Read article

Activists use art to draw attention to Weymouth compressor controversy
By Joe DiFazio,The Patriot Ledger
June 23, 2019

It couldn’t have been a more picture perfect day Sunday for organizers of Painting in the Park, an event at King’s Park in Weymouth held by activists opposed to a proposed natural gas compressor station along the Fore River. Organizers said they wanted to promote the beauty of the park they fear would be destroyed by putting a compressor station next to it.

Margaret Bellafiore, an art teacher from Weymouth who is also on the board of Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station (FRRACS), said the event was art activism.

“We’re using art to show the cause,” Bellafiore said. “This is a beautiful spot, we want to keep it this way. We don’t want the compressor built.”
» Read article

» More Weymouth compressor station articles  

ELECTRIC UTILITIES

Here Comes the World’s Biggest Virtual Power Plant — And it’s Behind the Meter
By Elisa Wood, Microgrid Knowledge
June 20, 2019

The project will aggregate 10,000 distributed energy assets which, as one resource, will sell power into the nation’s wholesale energy market, still short on capacity from the loss of the Fukushima nuclear plant in 2011.

The Japanese virtual power plant will initially use only batteries, but at a future date can incorporate other various distributed energy assets, such as solar, electric vehicle chargers and smart home thermostats, said Sternberg in an interview with Microgrid Knowledge. The project also has the capability to be configured into a microgrid, although that is not part of the current plan.

“This type of technology is coming to the US sooner rather than later,”
» Read article

» More electric utilities articles

FERC

FERC commissioner LaFleur to leave late August, restoring Republican majority
By Maya Weber, S&P Global
June 20, 2019

With a majority at the commission, Republicans will have more power, unless further checked by the courts, to confine GHG considerations in gas project reviews to emissions directly tied to the projects. LaFleur and fellow Democrat Richard Glick have argued for further consideration of upstream and downstream indirect emissions, such as those associated with gas production or end-use combustion.
» Read article  

 » More FERC articles

BIOMASS

Editorial: The right to live without environmental pollution
By Greenfield Recorder
June 21, 2019

Earlier this year, a number of biomass-burning facilities were recipients of $3 million in state funding awarded by Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration through the Renewable Thermal Infrastructure Grant Program, an initiative focused on expanding the availability of renewable thermal technologies. Following that, the state Department of Energy Resources proposed changes to its Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS), which dictates what type of energy companies can receive government subsidies. The changes would rewrite the restrictions, allowing large wood-burning power plants to receive government funding.
» Read article 

» More biomass articles


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Weekly News Check-In 6/21/19


Welcome back.

We scour many news outlets for articles related to energy, climate, and the transition to a carbon-free economy. We also cover related issues, like plastics and biomass. What follows is a distillation of the most interesting and useful news uncovered this week – ranging in scope from global to local.

Click any Read Article link to go directly to the published source. To explore related articles on the No Fracked Gas in Mass website, click the HEADINGS above the articles.

Look for a fresh reading list every week.

— The NFGiM Team

CLIMATE NEWS

E.P.A. Finalizes Its Plan to Replace Obama-Era Climate Rules
By Lisa Friedman, New York Times
June 19, 2019

The Trump administration on Wednesday replaced former President Barack Obama’s effort to reduce planet-warming pollution from coal plants with a new rule that would keep plants open longer and undercut progress on reducing carbon emissions.

The rule represents the Trump administration’s most direct effort to protect the coal industry. It is also another significant step in dismantling measures aimed at combating global warming, including the rollback of tailpipe emissions standards and the planned withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement.
» Read Article 

Scientists amazed as Canadian permafrost thaws 70 years early
Matthew Green, Reuters
June 18, 2019

Scientists are concerned about the stability of permafrost because of the risk that rapid thawing could release vast quantities of heat-trapping gases, unleashing a feedback loop that would in turn fuel even faster temperature rises.
» Read Article 

Climate change: Arctic permafrost now melting at levels not expected until 2090
Series of ‘anomalously warm summers’ caused ground to thaw, researchers say
By Alessio Perrone, The Independent
June 15, 2019
A “series of anomalously warm summers” has dramatically accelerated melting rates at three sites despite average annual ground temperatures remaining low. Ponds and hillocks have formed as a result.
» Read Article  

Half of Greenland’s Surface Started Melting This Week, Which Is Not Normal
By Brian Kahn, Gizmodo
June 13, 2019

A major warm spell has caused nearly half the surface of the Greenland ice sheet to start melting, something that’s highly unusual for this time of year. And while this spike may pass, the gears could already be in motion for record-setting melt on the ice sheet’s western flank.
» Read Article 

U.S. Climate Change Litigation in the Age of Trump: Year Two—A New Sabin Center Working Paper
By Dena Adler, Climate Law Blog, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School
June 7, 2019

The Trump Administration is losing on climate in the courts. More than two and a half years into the Trump Administration, no climate change-related regulatory rollback brought before the courts has yet survived legal challenge.   Nevertheless, climate change is one arena where the Trump Administration’s rollbacks have been both visible and real. In total, the Sabin Center’s U.S. Climate Deregulation Tracker identifies a total of 94 actions taken by the executive branch in 2017 and 2018 to undermine and reverse climate protections.
» Read Article 

 

FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY NEWS  

‘This Pipeline Will Not Be Built,’ Indigenous and Climate Leaders Tell Trudeau After Canada Approves Trans Mountain Expansion
The federal government’s decision on the dirty energy project came just a day after the House of Commons voted to declare a climate emergency
By Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams
June 19, 2019
Climate activists and Indigenous groups held an emergency rally in downtown Vancouver Tuesday night in response to the government’s announcement and are planning a march in solidarity with the Tiny House Warriors—who, for years, have challenged Kinder Morgan and now the Canadian government by constructing small structures in the pipeline’s proposed path—for Saturday.

“It is our basic responsibility as settlers to support Indigenous struggles. Indigenous people worldwide are on the frontline against resource developments that are pushing our biosphere to the brink of climate and ecological collapse,” said march organizer Bobby Arbess. “We must help stop the massive expansion of tar sands driving the Trans Mountain project. It represents a lethal tipping point that is not morally acceptable in a climate emergency.”
» Read Article 
On Monday, Canada declared a ‘climate emergency.’ On Tuesday, it approved a pipeline expansion.
By Emily Rauhala, Washington Post
June 18, 2019
The move will be welcomed by the country’s struggling oil sector and the many Canadians whose fortunes are tied to it. Landlocked Alberta produces four-fifths of Canadian crude but struggles to get it abroad, and so must settle for selling at steep discounts against global benchmarks — hitting the province hard.

But many Canadians have protested the expansion proposal out of concern for oil spills and the continuing promotion of climate-changing fossil fuels. They question whether this is the moment to increase Canadian shipments of oil.
» Read Article 

Australia, in a Victory for Coal, Clears the Way for a Disputed Mine
By Somini Sengupta
June 13, 2019
Plans for a fiercely contested coal mine in northeastern Australia received a long-awaited government green light on Thursday, less than a month after conservative politicians who champion coal triumphed in national elections.
» Read Article 

 

BIOMASS NEWS

New Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership reaches starting line
By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle
June 19, 2019

Blog editor’s note: Environmental groups will be keeping an eye on developments here, especially in light of Baker Administration support for commercial biomass interests.
» Read Article 

 

UTILITIES NEWS – ELECTRIC

Utilities are ‘the new cyber battlefield,’ as US ramps up pressure on Russia’s electric grid
Robert Walton, Utility Dive
June 18, 2019

The United States has increased efforts to insert malicious code into Russia’s electric grid, a development the The New York Times warned “enshrines power grids as a legitimate target” in the nations’ cold war of cyber one-upmanship.

While President Trump denied the story on Twitter, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said it meant a cyberwar between the two countries is a “hypothetical possibility.”

With utilities in the cross-hairs of malicious actors, experts say there are health, safety and economic risks for those who rely on the grid, particularly if escalation continues.
» Read Article 

U.S. Escalates Online Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid
By David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth, New York Times
June 15, 2019

The United States is stepping up digital incursions into Russia’s electric power grid in a warning to President Vladimir V. Putin and a demonstration of how the Trump administration is using new authorities to deploy cybertools more aggressively, current and former government officials said.

In interviews over the past three months, the officials described the previously unreported deployment of American computer code inside Russia’s grid and other targets as a classified companion to more publicly discussed action directed at Moscow’s disinformation and hacking units around the 2018 midterm elections.
» Read Article 

The rise of EVs could overwhelm the grid, but PG&E has a better plan
A new framework gives utilities a way to identify and seize electrification value with managed charging
Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive
June 13, 2019

The power demand from the 20 million electric vehicles (EVs) expected to be on U.S. roads by 2030, up from today’s 1.1 million, could overwhelm the nation’s grids.

But the coming EV load could deliver great value to utilities and their customers if it is shifted away from high-priced peak demand periods. That would increase utilities’ electricity sales without adding stress to their grids, while also lowering drivers’ charging costs. Investing in the communications systems and planning needed to properly manage charging can deliver transportation electrification’s full value, stakeholders told Utility Dive.

EVs are the biggest “electric load opportunity for utilities” since the 1950s air conditioning explosion, a May 2019 Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) study reports. But without proper planning to integrate that load, “EVs could lead to grid constraints and increased transmission and distribution peaks” that require new “peaker plants, unplanned grid upgrades, and other costly solutions.”
» Read Article 

 

CLEAN TRANSPORTATION

Another Deceptive Letter Bashing the Electric Car Tax Credit Circulating Congress, Courtesy of FreedomWorks
By Ben Jervey, DeSmog Blog
June 16, 2019

As the Drive America Forward Act, which would lift the cap on electric cars eligible for the credit, has gained co-sponsors across party lines, those industries most threatened by the widespread adoption of EVs are clearly fighting back, through the media and in these letters to Congress, as well as extensive lobbying on Capitol Hill. Without fail, these efforts to skew public and political opinion on the tax incentives include these deceptive talking points and oil-funded reports deployed in Rep. Mooney’s letter.

As Elliot Negin of the Union of Concerned Scientists recently wrote for Common Dreams, the “oil and gas industry’s anti-EV tax credit campaign is a prime example of how fossil fuel interests construct a disinformation echo chamber to drown out government efforts to address the climate crisis.”

Negin continues:

“This is basically how it works: The industry underwrites a network of faux free-market groups to surreptitiously advocate on its behalf; it pays seemingly independent think tanks to publish deceptive studies; and it bankrolls the campaigns of federal legislators, who then cite industry-funded studies and invite industry-funded spokespeople to testify before Congress.”
» Read Article 

 

CLEAN ENERGY ALTERNATIVES NEWS

North Adams, Williamstown teaming up to educate residents on benefits solar energy
By Adam Shanks, The Berkshire Eagle
June 18, 2019
» Read Article 

 

NATURAL GAS HEALTH RISKS

Physicians call for halt to natural gas fracking projects
By Jeffrey Mize, The Columbian
June 19, 2019

Two physicians groups have issued a 145-page report calling for an immediate halt to projects involving hydraulically fracked natural gas in the Northwest.

“Fracked Gas: A Threat to Healthy Communities” identifies six major projects, including a proposed $2 billion plant at the Port of Kalama to convert natural gas into methanol for export to Asia.
» Read Article 

 

ATLANTIC BRIDGE NEWS

Confused About The Weymouth Compressor? Here’s What You Need To Know
By Miriam Wasser, WBUR
June 19, 2019

For the last few years, a coalition of South Shore towns and local activists have worked to block the construction of a natural gas compressor station in North Weymouth. The project involves multiple permits and court cases at the state and federal level, making it hard for even the most avid news consumer to follow. Blog editor’s note: This excellent reporting untangles a complex story and illuminates a critical local battle against gas infrastructure expansion.
» Read Article 

Compressor foes state their case at hearing
By Jessica Trufant, The Patriot Ledger
June 17, 2019
The compressor station proposal has drawn strong local opposition from officials and residents who said the plant would vent pollution and toxic gases and that it could explode in the densely populated and industrialized neighborhood. There are more than 1,000 homes near the proposed site.
» Read Article 

Weymouth residents fight proposed compressor station near Fore River bridge
By Julie Leonardi, Boston 25 News
June 17, 2019

Residents in Weymouth continue to fight against a proposed natural gas compressor station near the Fore River bridge.
» Read Article

 

COLUMBIA GAS / MERRIMACK VALLEY DISASTER

Kempic “confident” disasters won’t happen again
By Jessica Valeriani, Andover Townsman
June 13, 2019
He credits his confidence to two features the utility has been including in their restoration work. The first is a regulator at each house which shuts off gas, preventing over-pressurization. The second feature is an excess flow valve, located right on the service lines. Kempic said the valve shuts off gas automatically if a line is unintentionally struck by digging equipment.

Blog editor’s note: Begs the question… why weren’t/aren’t these safeguards already required standard equipment? If Columbia Gas built cars, would they be expressing renewed confidence in the safety of their product because from now on, vehicles will be provided with brakes and steering?
» Read Article 

 

TALES OF VICTORY

Invenergy Defeated, Power Plant Denied Permit
CLF and Burrillville residents prevail against energy giant
By Jake O’Neill, Conservation Law Foundation
June 20, 2019
Rhode Island’s Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) decided today that it would not grant a permit necessary for the construction of Invenergy’s fossil fuel plant in Burrillville. After years of legal challenges from CLF and residents, the plant will not be built.

“This is a huge victory for Rhode Island and for the health of our communities,” said CLF Senior Attorney Jerry Elmer. “In the face of climate emergency, opening a fossil fuel plant that will spew carbon pollution for decades is simply reckless. After years of lies and misinformation, Invenergy’s efforts to pave over a forest to build this dirty plant have been dealt a substantial loss. Today’s decision is proof that communities can stand up to big gas and win.”
» Read Article 

 

PLASTICS, HEALTH & ENVIRONMENT

Where does your plastic go? Global investigation reveals America’s dirty secret
A Guardian report from 11 countries tracks how US waste makes its way across the world – and overwhelms the poorest nations
By Erin McCormick, Bennett Murray , Carmela Fonbuena , Leonie Kijewski, Gökçe Saraçoğlu , Jamie Fullerton, Alastair Gee and Charlotte Simmonds, The Guardian / United States of Plastic
June 17, 2019
“People don’t know what’s happening to their trash,” said Andrew Spicer, who teaches corporate social responsibility at the University of South Carolina and sits on his state’s recycling advisory board. “They think they’re saving the world. But the international recycling business sees it as a way of making money. There have been no global regulations – just a long, dirty market that allows some companies to take advantage of a world without rules.”
» Read Article 

As the world grapples with plastic, the U.S. makes more of it — a lot more
By Center for Public Integrity
June 13, 2019
Plastic waste is piling up, increasing amounts of it going to landfills as U.S. recycling programs — dependent on Asian countries that no longer want our scrap — struggle to adjust. In March the United Nations, “alarmed” by the environmental and public health consequences of plastic items intended to be used once and thrown away, urged countries to “take comprehensive action.”

Against this backdrop, the United States is about to make a whole lot more of the stuff.
» Read Article 


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Weekly News Check-In 6/14/19


What is this?

We scour many news outlets for articles related to energy, climate, and the transition to a carbon-free economy. What follows is a distillation of the most interesting and useful news uncovered this week – ranging in scope from global to local.

Click any Read Article link to go directly to the published source. To find links to related articles on the No Fracked Gas in Mass website, click the headings above the articles. We try our best to use only reliable news sources, but responsibility for fact checking lies with the publisher. Opinions expressed are not necessarily our own.

Look for a fresh reading list every week.

— The NFGiM Team

CLIMATE NEWS

Arctic death spiral speeds up sixfold, driving coastal permafrost collapse
The Arctic just saw its hottest May on record
Joe Romm, ThinkProgress
June 10, 2019
The permafrost, or tundra, is soil that stays below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least two years. Thawing permafrost is a dangerous amplifying feedback loop for global warming because the global permafrost contains twice as much carbon as the atmosphere does today .

As the permafrost melts, it releases heat-trapping carbon dioxide and methane, and as the coastline disintegrates and erodes, more and more permafrost will be exposed to the warming air and water.

This means, as the planet continues to warm, more permafrost will erode and melt, releasing even more greenhouse gases in a continuous feedback loop.
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BirthStrike: The people refusing to have kids, because of climate change
By Stephanie Bailey, CNN
June 10, 2019

BirthStrike is one of a number of groups around the world that are questioning the ethics of having children in a warming world.
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CLEAN ENERGY ALTERNATIVES NEWS

US initiative to reduce storage, EV reliance on Chinese minerals amid trade uncertainty
HJ Mai, Utility Dive
June 13, 2019

Critical energy minerals, such as lithium, copper and cobalt, could increase almost 1,000% by 2050, which is expected to strain the capacity of many countries to increase supply…. Renewable energy, electric vehicles and energy storage are all dependent on those minerals, but the market is currently dominated by China.
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FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY NEWS

Debunking the fracked gas fairy tale
Fuel is as dirty as coal and extremely dangerous
By Emily Norton, CommonWealth Magazine Opinion
June 5, 2019

Emily North is the Newton Ward 2 city councilor.
For years, even environmentalists recommended moving to gas as a transition toward renewable energy – a so-called “bridge fuel” – but current research has found that when we look beyond burning gas, and take into account the impacts from gas that leaks from fracking wells and distribution pipes, we find that gas contributes as much to climate change as coal and that unburned gas is 99 percent methane, which is 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in our atmosphere.
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It’s now cheaper to build a new wind farm than to keep a coal plant running
By Irina Ivanova, CBS News
November 16, 2018

Inflation dictates that the cost of living will continue to rise — except, it seems, when it comes to renewable energy. The cost of building a new utility-scale solar or wind farm has now dropped below the cost of operating an existing coal plant, according to an analysis by the investment bank Lazard. Accounting for government tax credits and other energy incentives would bring the cost even lower.
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LNG NEWS

DRBC Confirms Plan to Build LNG Export Terminal at New South Jersey Port
Jon Hurdle, NJSpotlight
June 12, 2019

Environmental activists have accused the DRBC and other regulators of concealing plans by the developer, Delaware River Partners, to add an LNG terminal to a new port that it plans to build on a former DuPont site in Gibbstown, Gloucester County…. The DRBC previously said the company did not seek a permit for the LNG terminal in its application but on Tuesday said it “recently” learned of the plan.
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COLUMBIA GAS / TGP 261 UPGRADE NEWS

City of Northampton opposes natural gas pipeline project in Agawam
By Mary C. Serreze, MassLive / Springfield Republican
Nov 26, 2018

“The City recognizes the dangerous outcomes of climate change and supports a rapid attainment of a goal of 100 percent clean, renewable energy,”
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ATLANTIC BRIDGE PIPELINE NEWS

Charlie Baker pressed to halt Weymouth compressor station
By Mary Markos, Boston Herald
June 11, 2019

Advocates, legislators and local officials are calling on Gov. Charlie Baker to put an end to a controversial Weymouth gas facility as his Department of Environmental Protection comes under scrutiny for withholding important air quality data.

“It’s disappointing to see agencies that are in place to protect us like the DEP aren’t doing their job,” Alan Palm of 350 Massachusetts said. “Ultimately, the buck stops with the governor … He has been willing to publicly say it’s out of his hands, it’s a federal issue, but it’s not. It’s his agencies approving this and his willingness to ignore the opportunity … he has to step in and stop it.”
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GRANITE BRIDGE PIPELINE NEWS

A law that’s not a law
Fluke leaves state without an actual energy infrastructure corridor statute
By Michael Kitch, NH Business Review
June 6, 2019

The reality is that, since the bill has not become law, there are no designated “energy infrastructure corridors.” Nevertheless, Liberty Utilities may still proceed with the Granite Bridge Project, but must meet higher standards set by the Utility Accommodation Manual than if Route 101 were an “energy infrastructure corridor.”
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REGIONAL ENERGY CHESS GAME

Powerful business group adds climate change to its priorities
By Jon Chesto, Boston Globe
June 13, 2019

The Massachusetts Competitive Partnership helped sink the state’s first offshore wind energy project, the ill-fated Cape Wind.

So what’s this low-profile but powerful business group doing now, taking on climate change as a priority? It may sound surprising — or ironic. But these chief executives now view the issue as a major potential threat to the state’s economic competitiveness, one that needs to be tackled head on.
» Read Article

Arctic death spiral speeds up sixfold, driving coastal permafrost collapse

The Arctic just saw its hottest May on record.

Joe Romm, ThinkProgress
June 10, 2019

Drone surveys have revealed erosion of coastal permafrost in the Arctic — up to 3 feet a day. Researchers reported Friday that the recent rate of erosion is six times higher than the historical rate.

Meanwhile, the Arctic just saw the hottest May on record, with temperatures in northwest Russia hitting a remarkable 84 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius). Global warming is driving Arctic sea ice to near-record lows, which in turn is driving ever-worsening summer heat waves in the southern United States, according to another new study.
» Read full story

 

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