wrdforwrd

green and sustainable business

Oil-by-rail project gets derailed

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It’s tough to find good things to write about on the climate change front these days, especially with the abomination that is Scott Pruitt in charge of the EPA, and Trumpola still around…has it been only one year?

Anyway, something positive did happen recently when Washington Governor Jay Inslee rejected a permit that was required for Tesoro-Savage to build the Vancouver Energy oil-by-rail facility, the largest such project in the nation, at the Port of Vancouver. Inslee explained the basis of his decision, which followed a several years long process, in a letter to the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council:

“When weighing all of the factors considered against the need for and potential benefits of the facility at this location, I believe the record reflects substantial evidence that the project does not meet the broad public interest standard necessary for the Council to recommend site certification.”

Inslee’s action on 29 January followed the Vancouver Port Commissions’ action earlier that month when it voted to not renew the company’s lease if the project did not have all required permits and licenses by March 31. This move effectively ended the project.

According to DeSmog Blog, momentum for the vote “began in November when Don Orange joined the port commission after a resounding victory against a challenger who was heavily funded by the oil industry. Orange, on the other hand, promised to oppose Vancouver Energy’s planned construction of the largest oil-by-rail facility in the country.” Washington State’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council recommended in November that the governor should reject the proposed project.

“We will not become just another polluted oil town,” said Rebecca Ponzio, director of the Stand Up To Oil Campaign. “This should be a signal for communities across the country, the oil industry does not get to decide your future. Together, people are always more powerful than the money of oil companies.”

In a written statement issued 30 January, Vancouver Energy officials said Inslee’s endorsement of the council’s “faulty recommendation” sets an “impossible standard for permitting new energy facilities in the state.” In addition Inslee’s decision sends an “anti-development” message that will have far-reaching consequences for industries across the state, Vancouver Energy officials added.

It doesn’t ever have to be development versus the environment…

Image is from the Stand Up To Oil website.

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Things in the wind

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Recent news on the environmental front is full of wind chimes.

Did you know, for example, that Mars Inc. is making M&Ms with wind power? In fact Mars has engaged two popular spokespersons from its M&M entourage, ‘Red’ and ‘Yellow,’ Red, the self-proclaimed leader and Yellow, his faithful sidekick, have become the latest advocates for renewable wind-powered energy, tackling climate change in the launch of M&M’s Fans of Wind energy crusade.

“We want to make sure that everyone understands that climate change is a real issue,” said Berta De Pablos-Barbier, president of Mars Wrigley Confectionery U.S., in a recent interview for TheStreet. “A wind turbine spinning for one second produces the energy equivalent to what’s needed to make eight packs of M&M’S,” she said. Here’s her video.

The Fans of Wind campaign is part of Mars’ Sustainable in a Generation Plan that includes $1 billion investment over the next few years to tackle climate change and the scarcity of resources.

Microsoft has signed a 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) for 100% of the electricity from GE’s new 37-megawatt Tullahennel wind farm in County Kerry, Ireland. Microsoft said the deal will help support an expansion of its cloud computing services offerings in the country.
 As part of the deal, Microsoft also signed an agreement with the Dublin-based energy trading company ElectroRoute to provide energy trading services to Microsoft.

In addition to producing energy, the project will produce valuable data on energy storage. Each turbine will have an integrated battery; Microsoft and GE will test how these batteries can be used to capture and store excess energy, and then provide it back to the grid as needed. “This provides more predictable power to an increasingly green Irish grid, by smoothing out peaks and valleys in wind production. This will better enable intermittent clean power sources like wind energy to be added to the Irish grid,” Microsoft said. This will be the first deployment of integration into wind turbines to store energy in Europe.

Then, according to a Washington Post article last month, “there’s enough wind energy over the oceans to power human civilization, scientists say.”

The article cites National Academy of Sciences findings that there is so much wind energy potential over oceans that it could theoretically be used to generate “civilization scale power” — “assuming, that is, that we are willing to cover enormous stretches of the sea with turbines, and can come up with ways to install and maintain them in often extreme ocean environments. ”

That sounds very theoretical, expensive and probably extremely unlikely, but it’s nice to know the potential is there if we need it — and we probably will someday.

We might as well try and catch the wind.

Image: Turbine B W by richardghawley via Flickr CC

Canadian retailer puts organic on top

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You probably don’t travel to Montreal to visit the local IGA, but make an exception because the roof of an IGA Extra store in Montreal, owned by the Duchemin family, has a huge organic garden, billed as the largest in Canada. It’s worth a look-see.

The grocery chain has been working with urban gardening and agriculture company La Ligne Verte and the urban beekeeping company Alvéole to grow a range of organic vegetables and honey.

According to a report in Strategy, the 25,000 square-foot garden – which the food retailer claims is the largest organic vegetable garden in Canada – will provide produce and honey under a new store brand, “Frais du toit” (“fresh roof”), though they are only available at the Duchemin family’s store.

Launched July 19, more than 30 kinds of vegetables and greens, including beets, tomatoes, eggplant, and kale, are grown and harvested on a half-acre, in six inches of soil. “A green roof garden allows us to nourish our passion for food while reducing our environmental footprint, something that is particularly important to us. We are happy to give life to this innovative project and hope it encourages other companies to follow suit,” said Richard Duchemin, co-owner, IGA extra Famille Duchemin, quoted in a FreshPlaza article.

The certified organic farm’s vegetables are grown in dirt, not hydroponic grow trays. The store’s dehumidification system pulls excess moisture from the store and delivers to the garden’s irrigation system. It’s the first system of its kind in Canada, according to IGA.

Image: The Montreal IGA rooftop garden; credit Ligne Verte

Written by William DiBenedetto

28 August, 2017 at 7:00 am

Shame and outrage – withdrawal from the Paris climate accord

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Just when you thought Trump and his administration lackeys/weasels/fools could not be any more ignorant and despicable – they surpass themselves.

The Paris climate agreement was the most comprehensive international accord to fight climate change ever. It was signed by all but two countries (Syria and Nicaragua), and hailed as an historic effort to save our planet.

So of course, Trump now says that the United States will withdraw. This means the United States will leave the world stage and abandon crucial environmental regulations that can make a huge difference in saving the planet.

By exiting from the Paris agreement, Trump is ignoring advice from the Pope, foreign leaders and even businesses like Exxon. He is even rebuffing pleas from his own daughter, and from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. This is really an effort to spite President Obama, who worked hard to craft the Paris climate agreement.

Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, called Trump’s announcement a “historic display of ignorance.”

Brune said: “Donald Trump is making a shameful mistake of historic proportions. Our grandchildren will look back with stunned dismay at how a world leader could be so divorced from reality and morality. He is abandoning millions of Americans who will bear the brunt of climate disruption — from record floods to droughts and hurricanes that destroy people’s homes and livelihoods.

“Leaving the agreement is also an outrageous abandonment of American leadership. The move will put Trump alongside Syria’s Bashar Al Assad and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega (who’d like to make it stronger) as the only three world leaders keeping their countries out of the climate accord. With almost 70% of Americans supporting the Paris Agreement — including majorities in every state — it’s clear that Donald Trump’s reckless action is completely out of step with the wishes of most Americans.”

China and Germany are now the world leaders on climate changes and trade policies. The U.S.? A third-class laughingstock and Russian patsy.

Mark the date – June 1, 2017 – a day that will go down in infamy.

Images: Climate Change by Jan and Donald Trump Caricature by DonkeyHotey via Flickr CC

Written by William DiBenedetto

1 June, 2017 at 4:21 pm

Washington State lawsuit hits Feds after Hanford tunnel collapse

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Washington state is taking legal action against the “other Washington” after a tunnel full of mixed radioactive and chemical waste collapsed on May 9 at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

“This alarming emergency compels us to take immediate action – to hold the federal government accountable to its obligation to clean up the largest nuclear waste site in the country,” said Washington Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon.

Ecology is requiring the federal Department of Energy, through an enforcement order, to immediately assess the integrity of the tunnels and take swift corrective action.

“Our top priority is to ensure the safety of Hanford workers and the community. The collapse of this tunnel raises serious questions about how it happened and what can be done to make sure it doesn’t happen again. This enforcement order is necessary to make sure we get greater assurance about the condition of these tunnels and the Department of Energy’s plan to contain any further risks,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

“The infrastructure built to temporarily store radioactive waste is now more than a half-century old. The tunnel collapse is direct evidence that it’s failing. It’s the latest in a series of alarms that the safety and health of Hanford workers and our citizens are at risk,” said Bellon.

The enforcement order requires the U.S. Department of Energy to determine the cause of the tunnel collapse; assess the risk of further collapses; ensure the radioactive and chemical waste in the tunnels is stored safely; and submit a plan for permanently cleaning up waste in the tunnels.

Image: B Reactor Process Tube Nozzles by Shane Lin via Flickr CC

Written by William DiBenedetto

15 May, 2017 at 7:26 am

Bill Maher: Make Earth Great Again

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Bill Maher concluded Friday’s show explaining why we should concentrate on saving our planet rather than dreaming about colonizing Mars:

I’m a big fan of science fiction and space exploration, but colonizing Mars makes no sense…it might be a neat adventure to visit the place, but not now; $450 billion would be better spent here on Gaia.

I also want to commend Bill McKibben’s (350.org) great piece last week in The New York Times“The Planet Can’t Stand This Presidency.”

“Trump is robbing us of the time we have left to fight climate change – time we will never get back.”

Written by William DiBenedetto

22 April, 2017 at 1:03 pm

It’s not nice to ignore Mother Nature

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A new book by Geoffrey Heal, professor at Columbia Business School, makes a trenchant point that’s ignored by those currently in power: our prosperity depends on protecting the planet.

Heal did a Q&A interview about his book, Endangered Economies, in the current issue of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ magazine Catalyst. (Heal is also UCS board member and an expert on economics and the environment.)

“The natural world provides everything we depend on,” Heal says. “We get our food from the natural world, we get our drinking water and our oxygen from the natural world, and we evolved as part of it. We simply can’t live without it. Plants create food, and they need pollination from insects and they need rain and they need soil. We can’t synthesize these things. So we really are totally dependent on the natural world in the end. Read the rest of this entry »

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