The 3 Week Diet System

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Coal industry officials and critics converge on Gillette

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August 12:


CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Coal industry officials and environmentalists are set to face off Thursday in Gillette over the federal government’s call for suggestions on how to make sure taxpayers are getting a fair return on public land coal production.

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead and members of the state’s congressional delegation - all supporters of the coal industry - plan to attend.

Jonathan Downing is executive director of the Wyoming Mining Association. He says hiking coal royalties would raise electrical costs for consumers.Jeremy Nichols of the WildEarth Guardians group’s Colorado office says he will urge the federal government to end its leasing program. He says global warming makes continued mining and use of coal untenable.
Source: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/aug/12/coal-industry-officials-and-critics-converge-on-gi/




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D.C.’s Mayor Bowser debuts new ‘do

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August 12:

After years of sporting the safest “I’m in public office!” hair possible, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser debuted a new look on Wednesday during a news conference on Washington’s commitment to wind power. And as the wind whipped across the rooftop of the Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center, we couldn’t help but notice the mayor’s newly curly locks.

This is a big change for Bowser, 45, who’s been a staunch supporter the Washington power look since her days on the city council. Conservative chic is the mayor’s uniform of choice: two-piece skirt suits, safe colors, sensible shoes, perhaps a string of pearls or a brooch. All topped off with a short pageboy cut that’s rarely anything but bone straight. The look is conventional, consistent and, most of all, controlled.

(Andrew Harnik for The Washington Post)

But at Wednesday’s conference, Bowser’s newly loose curls arranged in a stylish, short bob telegraphed a much different message– on trend, youthful and loosened up. Is this a different Bowser we’re seeing?

“A woman with her level of exposure sends a message whether she intends to or not,” said Ashleigh Taylor, the owner of Taylor and York salon in Shaw. “I think this new look is fresh and freeing,” continued Taylor, who does not work on Bowser’s hair.

The mayor’s office declined to comment on the boss’s new ’do. But her communications team might want to get used to fielding questions on Bowser’s hair if the refreshing changes continue.

Remember when first lady Michelle Obama got bangs just days before her husband’s second inauguration? She couldn’t dodge the questions about her hair — mid-life crisis, maybe? — until finally growing the cut out less than a year after its debut. There were odes, tweets and in memoriams.

And let’s not forget the amount of hand-wringing that went on over President Obama’s gray hair. Was the job getting to him?

In the end, Bowser’s style switch up could all be in the name of shining extra light on the issues. The first lady hinted to as much when it came to her bang phase.

“We take our bangs and we stand in front of important things that the world needs to see,” Obama said at a summit of African leaders’ wives in Tanzania in 2013, “And eventually people stop looking at the bangs and they start looking at what we’re standing in front of. . . ” According to the mayor’s office, the new energy initiative is supposed to save the District $45 million over the next 20 years. So there.


Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/reliable-source/wp/2015/08/12/d-c-s-mayor-bowser-debuts-new-do/?wprss=rss_style


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Natural gas supply growing much faster than demand

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August 12:

However, if supply and demand both maintains their current annual growth rates, it will take till 2062 for India to become self-sufficient in natural gas.



The shortfall of natural gas in the country is set to widen over the next couple of years and then stabilise by 2017-18, according to data presented by the Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan to Parliament during the ongoing session.

According to the Minister, India’s natural gas production would touch 46.3 billion cubic metres (BCM) in 2017-18, up from the 33.6 BCM achieved in 2014-15. However, the improvement over this year is to be minimal, with the Ministry projecting only 33.86 BCM to be produced in 2015-16, a 0.6 per cent improvement over the previous year.

The data presented in Parliament shows that the supply of natural gas in India was projected to grow far faster than demand, although the shortfall would still remain significant for some time to come. Supply Data

The supply data shows that natural gas production in the country was to grow 37.5 per cent by 2017-18 over the levels achieved in 2014-15. The demand data, presented in a separate answer, shows a growth of a much slower 22 per cent in that period.

If these numbers are achieved, then this means the shortfall of natural gas in the country was set to first widen and then stabilise. While the shortfall was 112 BCM in 2012-13, it was projected to grow to 131 BCM in 2016-17 but then remain at that level the next year.

However, if supply and demand both maintains their current annual growth rates, it would take till 2062 for India to become self-sufficient in natural gas.

The Minister informed Parliament of several initiatives the government was taking to increase the production of natural gas in the country, including enhancing production in existing fields by using the latest technology and bringing into production new discoveries as soon as possible.

An answer tabled in the Lok Sabha on August 3 showed that there was extensive shale gas in the country. One study, according to the answer, pegged India’s shale gas reserves as between 8,500-60,000 BCM.


Source:http://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/natural-gas-supply-growing-much-faster-than-demand/article7531386.ece




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Alliance Pipeline schedules mainline system restart

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August 12:



Alliance Pipeline LP will resume full service of its 3,848-km (2,391-mile) integrated Canadian and US natural gas transmission pipeline this week after an early-August release of hydrogen sulfide into the system caused the operator to declare a force majeure along the mainline (OGJ Online, Aug. 7, 2015).

Alliance said it plans to lift the force majeure and resume full contract firm service on the mainline system on Aug. 13.

The anticipated restart schedule follows progress with recent mitigation efforts designed to safely remove contaminated gas from the line, including flaring activities at Alliance’s Alameda compressor station in Saskatchewan and at a mainline block valve upstream from the Alameda station (OGJ Online, Aug. 10, 2015).

"Our flaring operation is on track and the amount of hydrogen sulfide in the small segment of pipeline is being reduced to a safe level," said Daniel Sutherland, Alliance’s vice-president of commercial operations.

To replace volumes lost during the flaring process, Alliance has asked to purchase up to 400 MMcf of natural gas from existing shippers in order to increase pressure and expedite flow along the line.

The operator plans to begin a controlled restart of the line on Aug. 12 following receipt of the replacement linepack. Alliance shut down the mainline pipeline on Aug. 7 after discovering hydrogen sulfide had entered its system following an Aug. 5 operational upset at upstream operator Keyera Corp.’s Simonette gas plant, located 57 miles southwest of Valleyview, Alta.


Source: http://www.ogj.com/articles/2015/08/alliance-pipeline-schedules-mainline-system-restart.html

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Region's gas prices jump after partial refinery shutdown

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August 12:


Oil and gas industry watchers say pump prices have jumped across the Great Lakes region because of the unexpected, partial shutdown of a large Indiana oil refinery.

They say the increases could continue.

According to GasBuddy.com, the most affected states are Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Illinois, but others are seeing increases.


Dearborn-based AAA Michigan, which surveys prices at 2,800 Michigan gas stations, said Wednesday the statewide average is about $2.58 a gallon. That's about 10 cents more than Tuesday's average. GasBuddy.com says some stations are flirting with the $3 mark.

The BP Whiting Refinery in northern Indiana shut down the largest of three crude distillation units Saturday for what the company calls "unscheduled repair work." BP says the rest of the refinery is operating at reduced production.

Gas prices typically head lower this time of year as refineries switch to cheaper winter blends.

Associated Press


Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-gas-prices-jump--refinery-shutdown-20150812-story.html


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IEA sees oil glut persisting despite soaring demand

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August 12:

IEA sees oil glut persisting despite soaring demand

Reuters/London


World oil demand is expanding at its fastest pace in five years thanks to rebounding economic growth and low prices, but global oversupply will last through 2016, the West’s energy watchdog said yesterday.
The International Energy Agency said in a monthly report that it was steeply raising its demand growth outlook for this year and 2016, and expected non-Opec supply growth to decline next year, with US producers hardest hit.
“While a rebalancing has clearly begun, the process is likely to be prolonged as a supply overhang is expected to persist through 2016 — suggesting global inventories will pile up further,” the Paris-based IEA said.
The view from the IEA chimes with that of the US government, which on Tuesday lowered US production forecasts, signalling that a 60% rout in benchmark prices since last summer may finally be weighing on shale output.
Oil prices have fallen to below $50 per barrel, pressured by an abundance of supply and a strong dollar. The views from the IEA are more bullish than those of Opec, which on Tuesday raised its forecast of oil supplies from non-member countries.
The IEA said it saw global oil demand rising by 1.6mn barrels per day (bpd) in 2015, up 260,000 bpd from its forecast last month, citing solid economic growth and consumers responding to lower prices.
“That’s the biggest growth spurt in five years and a dramatic uptick on a demand increase of just 0.7mn bpd in 2014,” it said.
It added that persistent macroeconomic strength will support above-trend growth at 1.4mn bpd in 2016, up 410,000 bpd from its previous forecast.  The decline in crude prices has prompted oil companies to cut their investment plans.
“While a drop in costs and efficiency improvements will help to offset some of the spending cuts, output is likely to take a hit soon,” the IEA said.
The IEA said it saw non-Opec supply growth slowing sharply from a 2014 record of 2.4mn bpd to 1.1mn bpd this year and then contracting by 200,000 in 2016 — with the US hardest hit.
The prediction signals that Opec’s strategy of not cutting output, and hurting rival producers instead with lower prices, might be finally working.
However, the strategy, introduced in November last year, has created such global oversupply that it will take another year and a half to absorb the glut.
“Our latest balances show that while the overhang will ease from a staggering 3.0mn bpd in the second quarter of 2015, its highest since 1998, the projected oversupply persists through the first half of 2016,” the IEA said.
Assuming Opec production continues at around 31.7mn bpd — its recent three-month average — through 2016, the second half of 2015 will see supply exceeding demand by 1.4mn bpd, testing storage limits worldwide, the IEA said.
The surplus will drain down to about 850,000 in 2016, with the final three months of 2016 marking the first quarter of a potential stock draw.
“This outlook does not include potentially higher Iranian output in the case of sanctions being lifted,” the IEA said.
It said a stronger demand outlook and slower non-Opec growth have raised the call on Opec crude for 2016 to 30.8mn bpd, 1.4mn bpd higher year-on-year and up 600,000 bpd from the IEA’s forecasts in its previous report.
But the new, higher call on Opec is still far below the group’s current production volumes, which are holding steady near a three-year high due to robust pumping from Saudi Arabia and record-high Iraqi production.
As a result of huge global oversupply, OECD inventories increased counter-seasonally by 9.9mn barrels to an all-time high of 2.916bn barrels in June, the IEA said.
Oil prices rose yesterday after the IEA’s upbeat report outweighed the bearish impact of a further weakening of China’s currency and disappointing Chinese industrial data, with Brent crude up 18¢ at $49.36 a barrel by 1317 GMT.

Source: http://www.gulf-times.com/Eco.-Bus.%20News/256/details/450959/IEA-sees-oil-glut-persisting-despite-soaring-demand



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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Obama Delivers Deathblow to Coal with Clean Power Plan

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August 05:

 In this Jan. 20, 2015 file photo, a plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H. President Barack Obama on Monday, Aug. 3, 2015, unveiled the final version of his unprecedented regulations clamping down on carbon dioxide emissions from existing U.S. power plants. The Obama administration first proposed the rule last year. Opponents plan to sue immediately to stop the rule's implementation. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)
 
Amid all the promises President Barack Obama has broken since he has occupied the White House, he’s kept one: his promise to destroy the coal industry.

In 2008, candidate Obama remarked, “If somebody wants to build a coal-fired power plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them. … Under my plan … electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” Four major coal companies have filed for bankruptcy in just the past 15 months.

Obama has waged a sustained war on coal. The newly unveiled final Clean Power Plan (CPP) for new and existing power plants is a knife to the heart of the entire coal industry, from mining to transportation to power plants to the American energy consumer. It’s Obama’s coup de grace for a once-vibrant industry that served as the backbone of the American Industrial Revolution and the nation’s global economic dominance. It could still provide cheap, clean power if Obama would only let up.

Obama’s CPP requires states to develop individualized plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, by an average of 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. This is an even steeper cut than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) originally proposed.

Obama’s misguided focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent a completely theoretical anthropogenic climate change catastrophe is destroying U.S. jobs, threatening electric power reliability and affordability, and doing absolutely nothing to prevent climate change. By the administration’s own estimates, the Clean Power Plan would reduce future global temperature by less than a hundredth of a degree, an amount thermometers can’t even measure.

Obama’s climate obsession comes at a high price for electric power ratepayers. Since Obama ascended to the presidency, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports coal’s share of the nation’s electric supply fell from 48 percent in 2007 to 39 percent in 2014. Because coal is a low-cost source of electricity, electric power prices have risen 15 percent since Obama became president, despite historically low inflation.

An analysis of EPA’s initial proposal, which would have required emissions to be 30 percent below 2005 by 2030, by NERA Economic Consulting shows U.S. ratepayers would have seen their electric power prices rise an additional 13 percent above inflation. This amounts to the average household paying as much as $4,157 more for electricity over the life of the Clean Power Plan. And because electricity prices will rise for businesses as well, wages and disposable income will fall short of what they would otherwise be without CPP.

Because Obama’s CPP requires even more emissions cuts than the NERA analysis took into account, costs will be even higher. Higher costs, less income, and all to prevent a temperature increase of less than a one-hundredth of a degree. Talk about hot air!

Between 2000 and 2007, 151 new coal-fired plants were proposed or began construction. Obama’s war on coal brought what would have been real progress to a screeching halt. Since Obama became president, only 22 of those 151 coal plants have come online, and 104 projects were cancelled or placed on hold. The rest are stuck in limbo.

Obama’s new and existing regulations have caused the premature closure of dozens of U.S. coal-fired power plants. The EIA reports between 2009 and 2014, 265 coal-fired power units, at dozens of power plants, ceased operations. These closures took more than 28 gigawatts of electricity offline, enough to power approximately 12.6 million homes. These closures have cost 39,684 jobs at coal-fired electric power plants, a 28.8 percent reduction in the industry’s total employment.

Obama’s CPP will shutter hundreds more coal-fired power plants, so the industry can expect additional job losses that number in the tens of thousands. And because fewer power plants will be burning coal, there will be a lot less coal required, meaning thousands more unemployed miners.

A report by the American Action Forum shows Obama’s existing anti-coal policies resulted in 30.7 percent of the coal miners in Kentucky losing their jobs since 2008. The CPP will cause more job losses in coal country than all of Obama’s previous policies combined.

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation, the agency charged with ensuring the reliability of the nation’s electric power system, warns CPP will result in more than 134 gigawatts of early power plant retirements, which the organization says will threaten the stability of the nation’s electric power grid.It will take a new president and Congress working together, placing America’s economic progress above overhyped environmental fears, to reverse fortunes of the coal industry and the nation’s electric power consumers. Let’s hope it’s not too late to undo the damage.


Source: http://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/h-sterling-burnett/obama-delivers-deathblow-coal-clean-power-plan

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Breaking News: Kachikwu sacks 8 NNPC’s Group Executive Directors

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August 05:

The eight Group Executive Directors (GED) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, have been relieved of their appointment in the corporation.
New NNPC Boss, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu
New NNPC Boss, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu
A source in the NNPC said the GEDs of the corporation have been replaced with new GEDs. The GEDs who were relieved of their duties are: Mr. Ian Udoh, Group Executive Director, Refining & Petrochemicals, Mr. Adebayo Ibirogba, Group Executive Director, Engineering and Technical; Dr David Ige, Group Executive Director, Gas& Power and Dr. Attahir Yusuf, Group Executive Director, Business Development.
Others are: Dr.Dan Efebo, Group Executive Director, Corporate Services; Mr. Bernard Otti, Group, Executive Director, Finance & Accounts
- See more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2015/08/breaking-news-kachikwu-sacks-8-nnpcs-group-executive-directors/#sthash.kian5Ujr.dpuf
The eight Group Executive Directors (GED) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, have been relieved of their appointment in the corporation.
New NNPC Boss, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu
New NNPC Boss, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu
A source in the NNPC said the GEDs of the corporation have been replaced with new GEDs. The GEDs who were relieved of their duties are: Mr. Ian Udoh, Group Executive Director, Refining & Petrochemicals, Mr. Adebayo Ibirogba, Group Executive Director, Engineering and Technical; Dr David Ige, Group Executive Director, Gas& Power and Dr. Attahir Yusuf, Group Executive Director, Business Development.
Others are: Dr.Dan Efebo, Group Executive Director, Corporate Services; Mr. Bernard Otti, Group, Executive Director, Finance & Accounts
- See more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2015/08/breaking-news-kachikwu-sacks-8-nnpcs-group-executive-directors/#sthash.kian5Ujr.dpuf


The eight Group Executive Directors (GED) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, have been relieved of their appointment in the corporation.
New NNPC Boss, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu
 New NNPC Boss, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu


A source in the NNPC said the GEDs of the corporation have been replaced with new GEDs.

The GEDs who were relieved of their duties are: Mr. Ian Udoh, Group Executive Director, Refining & Petrochemicals, Mr. Adebayo Ibirogba, Group Executive Director, Engineering and Technical; Dr David Ige, Group Executive Director, Gas& Power and Dr. Attahir Yusuf, Group Executive Director, Business Development.

Others are: Dr.Dan Efebo, Group Executive Director, Corporate Services; Mr. Bernard Otti, Group, Executive Director, Finance & Accounts

Source: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2015/08/breaking-news-kachikwu-sacks-8-nnpcs-group-executive-directors/

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Energy Institute guide explains UK shale gas

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August 05:


The Energy Institute (EI), London, has published a 20-page guide to shale gas, aiming, it says, “to bring scientific and technical accuracy to the debate” over development of natural gas from shales in the UK.

The industry group notes that the UK government has indicated support for development of shale gas but that applications for hydraulic fracturing “have been rejected by local councils (OGJ Online, July 19, 2013).”

The guide covers technological, environmental, and legal aspects of shale-gas development.

“It has been developed from an extensive review and analysis of existing literature and contributions by over 75 subject specialists, including professionally qualified EI fellows and members from relevant backgrounds and experience,” the institute says. “It has been subject to a robust peer review process prior to publication.”

The guide reports resource assessments by the British Geological Survey, commissioned by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, of UK shale gas and oil potential.

According to the first study in that series, the Carboniferous Bowland-Hodder shales in central Britain might contain 822-2,281 tcf of gas in place.

Jurassic shales in the Weald basin of southeastern England, covered in a separate assessment, have oil potential estimated at 2.2-8.57 billion bbl in place and limited gas potential. In the Midland Valley of Scotland, covered in a third study, resources of Carboniferous shales are estimated at 49.4-134.6 tcf of gas and 3.2-11.2 billion bbl of oil in place.


Source: http://www.ogj.com/articles/2015/08/energy-institute-guide-explains-uk-shale-gas.html

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Heh. Your Butt Could Help The Clean Power Plan

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August 05:

President Obama’s Clean Power Plan has generated the expected level of outrage from the usual suspects, and among the emerging angles is this one: the Clean Power Plan is a top-down approach that removes the personal responsibility factor from the carbon emissions equation. Nanny state! Well, fear no more. A research team has come up with a new carbon capture system that could potentially involve me, you, and anyone else who is hooked up to a municipal wastewater treatment plant.
That covers a lot of ground, so let’s see what’s up.
Clean Power Plan wastewater treatment

Wastewater Treatment & The Clean Power Plan

The famous 20th century bank robber Willie Sutton once famously said that he robbed banks because that’s where they kept the money.
Similarly, the Clean Power Plan focuses on power plants because, collectively, that is the single largest source of carbon emissions in the US.
Outside of the Clean Power Plan, the US Environmental Protection Agency has identified several other sectors for targeting carbon reduction, and the wastewater treatment/water supply sector is one.
According to the EPA, collectively, these systems account for 3–4% of energy use in the US, accounting for about 45 million tons of greenhouse gases yearly.
The picture really comes into focus on the local level, where wastewater/water systems can chew through 30–40% of total energy consumption:
Because these services are so energy intensive, they provide an excellent opportunity for efficiency, savings, and reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Improved energy efficiency is also an important component of a utility’s overall management and will help ensure the long-term sustainability of our Nation’s water and wastewater infrastructure.
In terms of the Clean Power Plan, when states start figuring out their compliance strategy, some may find that they can get a lot of mileage out of by shaving down the amount of energy used by local wastewater treatment plants.

A New Method For Carbon Capture At Wastewater Treatment Plants

Where were we? Oh, right, the new carbon capture system. It’s coming to us from the University of Colorado–Boulder under the name MECC, short for Microbial Electrolytic Carbon Capture.
MECC actually provides a threefer: it reduces the energy needed to run a wastewater treatment plant, it captures carbon emissions from the plant, and it generates renewable energy.
Actually, make that a fourfer. The new system also cuts the cost — and energy consumption — of transportation and storage involved with conventional carbon capture systems.
… And fifth, the process also generates usable solid byproducts.
Wait, a sixth thing has popped up! To get your head around this one, keep in mind that many US treatment plants are located along coasts:
The study may also have positive long-term implications for the world’s oceans. Approximately 25 percent of CO2 emissions are subsequently absorbed by the sea, which lowers pH, alters ocean chemistry and hence threatens marine organisms, especially coral reefs and shellfish. Dissolved carbonates and bicarbonates produced via MECC, however, could act to chemically counter these effects if added to the ocean.
Here’s the rundown from CU–Boulder:
…MECC uses the natural conductivity of saline wastewater to facilitate an electrochemical reaction that is designed to absorb CO2 from both the water and the air. The process transforms CO2 into stable mineral carbonates and bicarbonates that can be used as raw materials by the construction industry, used as a chemical buffer in the wastewater treatment cycle itself or used to counter acidity downstream from the process such as in the ocean.
The renewable energy factor kicks in as a byproduct in the form of hydrogen gas, which the research team anticipates will be used in hydrogen fuel cells.
Wasn’t I just saying that renewable sources could help fuel cells compete with batteries in the future electric vehicle market?
Although the research is still in the proof-of-concept stage, the team anticipates that MECC could also be used to treat industrial wastewater on site.
That’s probably code for fracking wastewater, and to that I say: fine.
The final version of the Clean Power Plan, released on August 3, does include a new measure aimed at promoting renewable energy over natural gas. However, natural gas will most likely continue to be a go-to replacement fuel for coal in the foreseeable future, and that means fracking wastewater issues will need to be addressed.

Onwards & Upwards For Wastewater Treatment Plants

For the record, US treatment plants already have a head start on the Clean Power Plan.
The photo accompanying this article shows the digester “eggs” at the massive Newtown Creek treatment plant in New York City, which reclaim methane from decomposing waste to use as fuel.
Biogas capture is becoming common at municipal wastewater systems. It is typically used on site but, back in 2010, the city of San Antonio became first in the US to sell its biogas offsite to the commercial grid.
A couple of years ago, New York also started up a food waste recycling program to piggyback on the Newtown Creek facility, which if successful would cut carbon emissions related to solid waste disposal.
Since municipal wastewater is rich in nutrients, it could also be used to grow algae for renewable biofuel.
As for hydrogen generation, aside from UC–Boulder, a few years ago, UC–Denver announced a system that uses reclaimed hydrogen to run a desalination system in tandem with wastewater treatment.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is also working the hydrogen fuel cell/wastewater angle in partnership with the company Chemergy.
If you have a favorite wastewater story that could assist compliance with the Clean Power Plan, feel free to share in the comment thread.

Source: http://cleantechnica.com/2015/08/05/heh-butt-help-clean-power-plan/

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The spoils of the Petrobras scandal: a blockbuster exhibit of confiscated art

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August 05:



The political and financial fallout from the Petrobras corruption scandal unfolding in Brazil has been staggering. Brazilians are angry, and rightfully so. The investigation known as “Operation Car Wash” alleges that local politicians and executives spent years filling their pockets with cash scraped off the top of Brazil’s nationally-controlled oil company, doing indelible damage to Petrobras’s bottom line and to foreign investors’ faith in Brazil.
Embezzled cash was allegedly parked in items including apartments, jewelry, and luxury cars—it was the “gift” of a $78,000 Land Rover that set the investigation into motion in 2013. The accused also bought art, some of it spectacular. Thanks to the Petrobras investigation, now the public can enjoy some of the privately-owned works that Brazilian police have confiscated.

Rio de Janeiro, Postcard, Vik Muniz, 2013.(Museu Oscar Neimeyer)

The works include pieces by notable Brazilian modern and contemporary artists such as Vik Muniz, Tarsila do Amaral, and Pedro Motta, and are on display at the Oscar Niemeyer Museum in Curitiba, Brazil—the home base of the Petrobras investigation The exhibit, highlighted by the Wall Street Journal, opened in April and has been extended until November due to its popularity. A ticket costs R$9 (about $2.50).

Untitled, Cicero Dias.(Museu Oscar Neimeyer)

The exhibit is a win not only for the museum, but also for the police, who simply didn’t have the proper storage space and conditions for the works, Curitiba’s police chief, Igor Romário de Paula, told the Wall Street Journal.
And for lovers of Brazilian art, there may be more to come. The museum has yet to show any of the art confiscated from Petrobras’s former head of engineering and services, Renato Duque. According to the Wall Street Journal, police seized more than 130 works from Duque’s apartment, including pieces by Spanish surrealist Joan Miró and Brazilian musician and painter Heitor dos Prazeres. (Duque’s lawyer denied the works were purchased with illegal funds.)
If Duque is found guilty of money laundering, it’s possible the pieces will go up for auction—or perhaps into another public exhibition.

petrobras, brazil, art,
Frutos, Miguel Rio Branco.(Museu Oscar Neimeyer)
brazil, petrobras, art
Mesa 12, 1990, Amilcar de Castro.(Museu Oscar Neimeyer)
art, petrobras, brazil


Source: http://qz.com/472821/the-public-can-now-enjoy-million-dollar-artworks-confiscated-during-the-petrobras-scandal/

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Wind farm projects scrapped after developers withdraw plans

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August 03:

Two wind farm projects in our region have been scrapped, after developers have withdrawn their planning applications. 



Credit: ITV Yorkshire
The company behind the the Croft Wind Turbine project say they no longer want to go ahead due to recent government announcements.
A similar proposal to build the High Wood wind farm near Driffield has also been withdrawn. The news comes after the company behind the Nocton Fen project said last week that it no longer wants to go ahead.

Source: http://www.itv.com/news/calendar/update/2015-08-03/wind-farm-projects-scrapped-after-developers-withdraw-plans/




Crude crashes to six-months lows amid weak data, soft auto demand

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August 03: 



WTI crude fell 4% on Monday dropping below $46, while brent fell under $50

Investing.com -- WTI crude futures plunged to a six-month low on Monday, amid weak economic data in the U.S. and China, as well as indications of softening automobile demand.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, WTI crude for September delivery plummeted to $45.13 a barrel, its lowest level since mid-March, before closing near the session low at $45.23, down 1.89 or 4.00% on the session. Last week, Texas Long Sweet futures closed the month down more than 20% as the ramifications of the Iranian Nuclear Deal and a glut of oversupply on global markets weighed. Over the last 30 days of trading, U.S. crude futures have moved at least 3% lower on five separate sessions.
WTI crude future are now approaching their 2015-yearly low of around $43 a barrel. U.S. shale producers can ill-afford to drill at lower prices calling into question whether production cuts will be necessary. Last week, U.S. crude production remained nearly 9.5 million barrels per day – near the highest amounts in more than 40 years. Overseas, the losses in crude futures were just as dramatic.
On the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), brent crude for September delivery dipped below $50 a barrel touching down to its lowest level since late-January. Brent crude futures traded in a broad range between $49.49 and $52.01 a barrel before also closing near the session lows at $49.53, down 2.68 or 5.13%. Meanwhile, the spread between the international and U.S. benchmarks of crude stood at $4.30, below Friday's level of $5.11 at the close of trading.
On Monday morning, the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis said consumer spending increased by 0.2% in June in line with analysts expectations, while personal income rose by 0.4% -- slightly higher than consensus estimates. Analysts forecasted a 0.3% rise in incomes for the month. In overnight trading in Asia, China reported that its Caixin Manufacturing PMI for July fell sharply to 47.8, down from 49.4 a month earlier. Manufacturing activity in China unexpectedly stalled last month, amid weakening demand both domestically and abroad.
Energy traders also digested the latest build by OPEC last week in a global market already saturated by oversupply. For the month of July, OPEC supply surged to 32.01 million barrels per day, according to a Reuters survey, rising slightly from an upwardly revised total of 31.87 million bpd in June. Since roiling global energy markets in November with a strategic decision to boost its market share by leaving its production ceiling above 30 million bpd, OPEC supply has increased by more than 1.6 million bpd.
In June, Saudi Arabia produced more than 10.6 million barrels a day, amounting to its highest level on record. The survey is based on shipping data and other energy statistics compiled by industry sources.
The U.S. Dollar Index, which measures the strength of the greenback versus a basket of six other major currencies, reached an intraday high of 97.69 before paring some of the gains after the release of the data. In U.S. afternoon trading the index stood at 97.59, up 0.28% on the session. Dollar-denominated commodities such as crude become more expensive for foreign purchasers when the dollar appreciates.

Source: http://www.investing.com/news/commodities-news/crude-crashes-to-six-months-lows-amid-weak-data,-soft-auto-demand-354242

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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Dr. Donald L. Rasmussen, Crusader for Coal Miners’ Health, Dies at 87

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August 02:


Dr. Donald L. Rasmussen in the late 1980s. Credit Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital
Dr. Donald L. Rasmussen, who was lured to Appalachia as a fledgling physician by a help-wanted ad and set off a grass-roots movement that won benefits for coal miners afflicted with black lung disease, died on July 23 in Beckley, W.Va. He was 87.
The cause was complications of a fall in May, his stepdaughter Julia Holliday said.
James Green, professor emeritus of history at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and author of “The Devil Is Here in These Hills, said, “In the annals of American labor history, there is no one, no union official or a physician, who exceeds the accomplishments of Dr. Rasmussen in substantially reducing the causes of such a widespread and deadly disease as black lung or in enhancing the treatment of a group of afflicted workers.”
The advent of X-rays established that black lung disease, or pneumoconiosis, was caused by breathing coal dust particles from drilling and blasting. But Dr. Rasmussen proved that even when X-rays did not find evidence of black lung, the disease could also be detected by breathlessness measured while on a treadmill and by blood tests — vastly expanding the pool of miners eligible for benefits.
Conducting field research with public health services and evaluating insurance claims, he eventually examined as many as 50,000 miners. He said he found signs of black lung disease in 40 percent of them.
The evidence gathered by Dr. Rasmussen and his exhortations, coupled with those of several fellow physicians, the consumer advocate Ralph Nader and Representative Ken Hechler, a West Virginia Democrat, not only prompted the West Virginia Legislature and Congress to pass legislation to protect and compensate coal miners, but fueled insurgent union campaigns that toppled W.A. Boyle, known widely as Tony, in 1972 as president of the United Mine Workers of America.
Without Dr. Rasmussen’s work, “the quality of life for thousands of miners would have been destroyed, and their families would have gone uncompensated,” Richard Trumka, the president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and a former president of the United Mine Workers, said Friday.
Mine operators had typically blamed black lung on smoking or sloppy work habits. Even union leaders overlooked the risk in favor of bonus pay for workers when they surpassed production quotas.
But galvanized by Dr. Rasmussen’s findings, the dissident miners’ Black Lung Association staged wildcat walkouts in 1968.
“When other doctors were taking the company line and denying that black lung existed, Dr. Rasmussen was testifying before state legislatures and Congress, fighting to win recognition that breathing coal dust was killing miners,” Cecil E. Roberts, the union’s president, said last week.
Donald Lloyd Rasmussen was born in Manassa, Colo., just north of the New Mexico state line, on Feb. 24, 1928. His father, Jordan, was a veterinarian. His mother was the former Mary Sowards.
After graduating from Utah State University and the University of Utah School of Medicine in 1952, he completed his residency in the Army, specializing in chest diseases. He was seeking a place to practice when he spotted an advertisement in the Journal of the American Medical Association that read “Doctors needed in Beckley, West Virginia, at the Miners Memorial Hospital.”
“I came in October 1962 just to look around and I never left,” he recalled in a 2012 oral history.
In 1968, he testified before a congressional subcommittee considering mine safety legislation and delivered his evidence again directly to groups of miners in union halls and West Virginia hollows, accompanied by Drs. Isadore E. Buff and Hawey A Wells Jr. They constituted Physicians for Miners’ Health and Safety.
“We knew, based on studies from Britain, we could cut down on lung disease by cutting down on the dust the miners were exposed to in the mines,” Dr. Rasmussen said.
A coal dust and methane explosion that killed 78 miners on Nov. 20, 1968, in Marion County, W.Va., drew national attention to the issue and inspired a strike that prompted both state legislation and the 1969 federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act, which provided compensation for workers permanently disabled by black lung disease and imposed dust limits in coal mines.
The American Public Health Association presented Dr. Rasmussen with its presidential award that year.
Dr. Rasmussen lived in Sophia, W.Va., a coal mining town, with his wife, the former Carmen Stone.
Besides his wife and his stepdaughter Julia, survivors include his children and stepchildren from previous marriages, Dr. Richard Rasmussen Anderson, John Rasmussen Anderson, Mark Rasmussen, Sharon Rasmussen, Jay McGranahan, Gavin McGranahan, Georgia Williams and Brandon Flower; 11 grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; two sisters, Mary Renner and Gloris Peterson; and a brother, Dr. Kent Rasmussen.
Until he fell in May, he continued to see patients in a pulmonary laboratory in Beckley, where he was ever the reluctant hero.
“I never considered myself an advocate,” he said in the oral history interview. “I only did the work I knew was correct. I saw the miners who needed help.”


Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/03/health/research/dr-donald-l-rasmussen-crusader-for-coal-miners-health-dies-at-87.html?_r=0

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Collector Urges People to Switch to PNG Use

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August 02:

VIJAYAWADA: Krishna district collector Babu A called on Ch Siva and Mahalakshmi, who switched over to piped natural gas (PNG) supply, at their residence in Satyanarayanapuram here Sunday.
Lauding their decision, the collector said that the PNG is environment-friendly and safe. He claimed that he is making efforts to ensure that all households in the city have PNG supply for which a consumer has to shell out `5,000 towards registration with Bhagyanagar Gas Limited. They do not have to pay installation fee but only for the gas they use and there is no need for booking refills like LPG cylinder, since PNG is available round-the-clock, he informed.
Bhagyanagar Gas Limited senior manager Venkatesh said that they laid gas pipelines from Pamula Kalva to Moghulrapuram in Vijayawada and are ready to provide connection in Singhnagar, Muthyalampadu, Satyanarayanapuram, Bavajipet, Lakshminagar, Hanumanpet, Old Government Hospital, Devinagar and Ramakrishnagar areas.
Those interested in taking PNG supply can contact 7036518964 or 0866-6515986 or 0866-2572522. The office is located inside the old bus station on MG Road opposite police control room.
Babu for Delhi to Attend UPSC Meet
Vijayawada: District collector Babu A on Sunday left for Delhi to take part in a training programme on Monday for conducting civil services preliminary exam on August 23. Vijayawada is one among the three cities in Andhra Pradesh to hold the exam. The meeting will be convened by the chairman of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) wherein the collectors would be briefed about the necessary preparations that they have to made for the successful conduct of the exam and the precautions that students need to take for the test.


Source: http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra_pradesh/Collector-Urges-People-to-Switch-to-PNG-Use/2015/08/03/article2954948.ece

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Facebook solar-powered drone logs on for testing

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August 02:

Leading social network hopes its Aquila plane will one day provide internet access to remote regions

 facebook-aquila

Facebook has unveiled its first full-scale solar-powered drone, reaching a new milestone in its push to provide global internet access.
The social network company claims the plane, named Aquila, can fly for three months non-stop, and is part of its Internet.org project to provide internet to the 10 per cent of the world's population that live in areas with no access.

The aircraft, which has the wingspan of a Boeing 737, will be tested in the US later this year, and will use a similar flight pattern to the record-breaking Solar Impulse plane. Cruising at between 60,000 and 90,000 feet, the drone will fly at the maximum altitude during the day and then glide to the lowest height in the evening, in order to save battery life.
Jay Parikh, vice president of global engineering and infrastructure, said the project was still in the early stages of development. "We still have a long way to go in this work, but we are excited by our early progress," he said. "And much like we've done with the Open Commute Project, we plan to engage with the broader community and share what we've learned, so we can all move faster in the development of these technologies."
The plane was built in fourteen months and will use helium balloons to reach the necessary height, where it will then circle a three kilometre radius in order to stay in the air.
When completed, the project will make use of lasers to transmit information between the air and the ground. The prototype lasers, which were trialled in the UK earlier this year, also reached a milestone after developers successfully tested a new laser that can deliver data at 10 gigabits per second to a target the size of a dime more than 10 miles away.



Source: http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2420260/facebook-solar-powered-drone-logs-on-for-testing

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Commission v. Gazprom: Time to do a Deal?

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August 02:







The Russian Energy Giant Has Strong Incentives to do a Deal

Last week the Deputy Chairman of Gazprom Alexander Medvedev met with the EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager for the first time to discuss the antitrust case launched against the company. Following this meeting Mr Medvedev made it clear that he hoped that the case could be ‘amicably settled’. There are indeed compelling reasons for Gazprom to do a deal. First market developments are rendering Gazprom’s existing business model irrelevant and it is that business model which is being substantially challenged in the antitrust case. Secondly, the consequences of an actual published EU competition decision against the company would be devastating in terms of reputation and scale of liability. Both these factors provide compelling incentives for Gazprom to file draft Commitments to the Commission to provide a basis for a deal.
At first sight it looks like doing any such a deal would be very difficult to do. The Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition launched raids on Gazprom offices across the EU, and those of its corporate allies in September 2011. In September 2012 it formally opened an investigation into Gazprom focussing on attempts to foreclose markets, denial of access to competitors to competing pipelines and excessive pricing. Negotiations were commenced with the Commission from December 2013 to June 2014. These negotiations did not result in an offer of commitments from Gazprom to settle the case. After Commissioner Vestager took over in November 2014 she reviewed the case and filed antitrust charges against Gazprom in a document known as the ‘statement of objections’ in April 2015. Gazprom now has until mid-September to file a defensive reply to the statement of objections.
As if to make the situation worse aside from the issues under dispute in the antitrust case, Gazprom has been seeking to stop the reverse flow of gas to Ukraine from the European Union. In particular, it has sort to block reverse flows of gas on the Brotherhood pipeline from Slovakia through to Ukraine. This attempts to stop reverse gas flows at the very least conflicts with the spirit of a operating in a single gas market, and arguably appears to be a breach of both EU energy liberalisation and antitrust rules.
To make matters even worse, the antitrust dispute has been overlaid with the Ukrainian-Russian conflict. Former Competition Commissioner Almunia in fact suspended the antitrust case in June 2014 over concerns that the case could inflame the situation. The major concern since Commissioner Vestager reviewed the case and filed the statement of objections with Gazprom is that the radicalisation of the Russian state since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis will make it impossible for a deal to be secured. Gazprom which is majority owned by the Russian state, and required by law to obtain Kremlin consent for any settlement, will find it impossible to obtain such consent. 
Despite the darkening clouds of conflict and war and the dispute over the antitrust case itself there is a compelling case to now settle.
First, the European market in which Gazprom has operated for the past 20 years is being transformed. Gazprom used to have comfortable long term supply arrangements with numerous vertically integrated dominant domestic incumbents. The long term supply contracts were usually for all or most of the incumbents import needs, with significant take or pay clauses, destination clauses and with prices set round the oil price. Now already in North Western Europe we have an increasingly open deep and liquid gas market with gas to gas competition traded on open hubs. As a result of the 2009 Ukraine-Russian gas crisis, when gas supplies to Europe were cut for two weeks, and the more recent concerns over supply security due to the Ukraine conflict the EU and the Member States are seeking to expand the North West European gas model to the whole of the European Union. The three underpinning factors which make the North West European model work, full application of the third energy package; physical interconnection between national markets and new sources of supply is being extended to the rest of the Union via the ‘Energy Union’ programme.  
A further compelling factor is the increasing irrelevance of oil price indexation, something Gazprom has defended tooth and nail so far. However, the fall of oil prices from $112 a barrel in June 2014 to approximately $53 a barrel in July 2015 suggests high oil prices are in trouble. This is compounded by falling Chinese demand, continuing shale oil production in the United States, combined with the prospect of increasing flows of Iraqi and Iranian oil onto global markets. These factors are likely to keep prices from rising any time soon. Worse still there is a flood of LNG entering global markets from Australia, Papua New Guinea, and shortly from the United States, where approximately 60bcm of capacity is being developed (more than half of what Gazprom is likely to sell into EU markets in 2015). Europe is likely to face, whatever Gazprom does, lower prices and much greater gas liquidity from more diverse sources than ever before.
Clearly Gazprom as a potentially low cost producer, with vast gas reserves and being proximate to the European market, could benefit significantly from access to an open, deep liquid single European gas market. However, what Gazprom will not be able to do in future is to undertake the traditional practices alleged to have been undertaken by the Commission in the antitrust case, including, excessive pricing; attempts to operate differential territorial pricing schemes or attempts to foreclose markets. 
Secondly, if no settlement is reached with the Commission, Gazprom faces being handed down a public prohibition decision. Media commentators focus on the prospect of a fine of up to 10% of worldwide turnover which would put a fine at between $12 to $15 billion. Any fine would be much smaller, around $500-$1500 million. It is not however the fine that is really the problem for Gazprom. There are in fact three very serious problems with a prohibition decision for Gazprom. First, is the reputational disaster from a public prohibition decision, which may well make the company far more politically allergic than it already is. This reputational issue has so far been underestimated in any analysis of the case and could result in an even more rapid reduction in demand for Russian gas than hitherto. Second, any public prohibition decision could provide the basis for bringing civil damages claims in national EU courts against Gazprom by energy companies and energy intensive users and possibly class actions by consumers and small businesses all of whom would allege illegal overcharging on antitrust grounds. Given that the claims would in most countries date back to at least 2004 the scale of liability could be immense. The third issue relates not to Central and Eastern European, and Baltic markets where the Commission is investigating, but Western Europe. Gazprom still has a number of major long term supply contracts with clients in Western Europe. Each of those contracts has price review clauses which will be triggered when a significant market event occurs affecting price. A prohibition decision which affected pricing in Central and Eastern Europe would particularly because of an increasingly integrated European market also affect Western Europe, triggering a further round of (inevitably downward) price reviews.
Gazprom cannot go back to the traditional closed national markets and national incumbents of old it did business with. They are slowly but surely being replaced with an integrated single European gas market. It would be much better for Gazprom to recognise the increasingly integrated market realities of the European gas market and practical legal realities of the antitrust case and do a deal.

Source: http://www.naturalgaseurope.com/european-commission-vs-gazprom-time-to-do-a-deal-24881

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