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Federal judge links PG&E's uninsulated power lines to California wildfires

Utility Dive | Posted on January 22, 2019

The federal judge overseeing Pacific Gas & Electric's probation related to the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion issued a preliminary finding on Thursday concluding the utility's equipment was a factor in sparking wildfires in 2017 and 2018 that devastated parts of Northern California.The ruling could lead to additional scrutiny or oversight for the utility, which announced Jan. 14 that it would file for bankruptcy protection due to mounting wildfire liabilities. U.S. District Judge William Alsup gave PG&E and the U.S. Justice Department until Jan. 23 to reply to concerns that uninsulated PG&E equipment caused "electrical sparks [to] drop into the vegetation below," creating "an extreme danger of igniting a wildfire."

Shift focus to responsible antibiotic use, not arbitrary reductions

Pig Health Today | Posted on January 20, 2019

 Some retailers and foodservice companies are asking for animals that have never received antibiotics (“no antibiotics ever” or NAE), but that request fails to recognize that animals — like people — get sick.That puts veterinarians in a corner, according to Joel Nerem, DVM, Pipestone Veterinary Services, Pipestone, Minnesota.“‘No antibiotics ever’ has become a very effective marketing tool,” for some retailers and foodservice companies, he told Pig Health Today.  He thinks a lot of this is driven by misconceptions about why and how antibiotics are used on the farm.“When you talk to consumers, they say, ‘I want to purchase meat that’s been raised without antibiotics.’ But when you start talking to them about the animals themselves — the fact that animals can become ill and need a veterinarian to diagnose and treat those illnesses, just like a human being seeks assistance from a physician — then they understand.“It’s about helping educate the consumer that we’re using antibiotics for the best interests of the animal,” Nerem added.The veterinarian believes it’s also important to share with consumers how the animal industry is using antibiotics responsibly. The new veterinary feed directive rules put in place in January 2017 provide an additional level of security by putting antibiotics under a veterinarian’s supervision.

Industry-led effort commits $1B to curb plastic pollution

Houston Chronicle | Posted on January 17, 2019

With more plastics piling into rivers and oceans, several of the world's biggest plastic chemical manufacturers are joining together in an  industry-led effort to curb plastic waste. A group of nearly 30 global companies have committed more than $1 billion into developing programs and technologies to better minimize, manage and prevent plastic waste.

Maryland Public Service Commission authorizes utilities to install 5,000 electric vehicle charging stations statewide

The Baltimore Sun | Posted on January 17, 2019

Maryland’s utility companies on Monday won state approval to install a network of more than 5,000 electric vehicle charging stations — fewer than they had hoped for, but a step toward the state’s ambitious goal of 300,000 electric vehicles on the streets by 2025. The Maryland Public Service Commission authorized BGE, Potomac Electric Power Co., Delmarva Power and Potomac Edison Co. to move forward with a modified, five-year pilot program of residential, workplace and public charging stations, paid for mostly by ratepayers.

Iowa ethanol plants continue record production

The Daily Reporter | Posted on January 17, 2019

Iowa’s ethanol industry continues it’s streak of breaking annual production records as ethanol plants in the state produced 4.35 billion gallons of ethanol in 2018. Up from 4.2 billion in 2017, the production is just shy of the 4.5 billion gallon capacity of Iowa’s ethanol producers, which is expected to make up approximately 27 percent of all production nationally. Officials with the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association said the achievement came during a difficult year and is a sign of strength.

2019 US renewable generation additions expected to far outpace gas: EIA

Utility Dive | Posted on January 17, 2019

23.7 GW of new U.S. electric generating capacity, mostly from wind, natural gas and solar, are expected in 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) inventory of electric generators. In addition, EIA data shows 8 GW of primarily coal, nuclear and natural gas generation are expected to retire this year, though that number could increase as utilities continue to evaluate their generating portfolios. The expected retirements include Arizona's 2.3 GW Navajo coal-burning power plant, Exelon's 819 MW Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania and Entergy's 677 MW Pilgrim nuclear power station in Massachusetts.

Oceans are warming even faster than previously thought

Science Daily | Posted on January 17, 2019

Heat trapped by greenhouse gases is raising ocean temperatures faster than previously thought, concludes an analysis of four recent ocean heating observations. The results provide further evidence that earlier claims of a slowdown or 'hiatus' in global warming over the past 15 years were unfounded.

Colorado could save $2.5B through 2040 by replacing coal with clean energy: report

Utility Dive | Posted on January 14, 2019

A new model of Colorado's energy mix shows consumers could save $250 million annually over a 10-year span if the state were to replace its coal plants with a mix of wind and solar, backed up by energy storage and natural gas.The report, commissioned by clean energy developer Community Energy and completed by Vibrant Clean Energy, also estimates the new resources would cut Colorado's state-wide annual carbon emissions from power generation by almost two-thirds.The analysis adds to a growing body of data showing Colorado consumers would save money by making a rapid shift away from coal, and echoes recent findings in other states.

Oil and ethanol industries renew hostilities over mandate

Washington Examiner | Posted on January 14, 2019

The oil and ethanol industries are eager to renew hostilities with each other over the Environmental Protection Agency’s renewable fuel program and ethanol mandate, no matter that the government is closed. American Petroleum Institute CEO Mike Sommers kicked things off while presenting the first State of American Energy report he's published as head of the oil and natural gas industry's lead trade group. In the recommendations for the EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard, the report called for sunsetting the ethanol mandate.For the oil industry, it is simple: The program, which mandates that they blend billions of gallons of corn ethanol in gasoline and costs them billions of dollars, is “outdated and broken,” while placing consumers at risk. Therefore, the program should be either killed off or "significantly overhauled,” the report said.

State lawmakers join forces against offshore drilling

AP News | Posted on January 9, 2019

A group of nine Democratic state lawmakers from different coastal states announced that they are going to use their coming legislative sessions to try to block attempts at offshore drilling. The lawmakers’ announcement came as new and re-elected legislators were entering office around the country after an election that saw high turnover in some states, and the group said it wants to take advantage of new political dynamics that could favor environmental bills. The announcement also came about a year after Trump’s administration announced plans to expand drilling.“We need to pass permanent legislation in our states so that this ban would be in place for the future,” New Hampshire Sen. Martha Fuller Clark said. “We can’t afford to rely on Washington to protect us.”Others lawmakers involved in the effort represent Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Rhode Island. Some of the lawmakers said they would seek outright bans on drilling, while others said they would look to pass bills that restrict it or do more to hold companies liable for spills.