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Residents Seek Answers About Health Risks Near Frac Sand Mines

Investigate Midwest | Posted on March 26, 2019

Public health researchers disagree on the impact the dust has on the long-term health of residents living in an near silica sand mining communities like the tiny Mississippi River town of Clayton, which is in the Iowa county by the same name, and in southwest Wisconsin.Researchers and citizens have become concerned in recent years about the health effects because fracking, and the frac sand mining that helps drive it, only appeared on the national stage in the last 30 years. Silica-rich sand is a key ingredient in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, acting as a structural support for water and chemicals pumped into natural shale reservoirs to stimulate the production of natural gas.Silica sand mining, however, produces a dangerous by-product: silica dust. Prolonged exposure to the tiny mineral particles can scar lung tissue resulting in irreversible and sometimes fatal respiratory damage. About 2 million U.S. workers remain potentially exposed to occupational silica, the American Lung Association reports.

Analysis: New wind, solar cheaper than operating most existing coal plants

Energy News Network | Posted on March 26, 2019

Locally generated solar and wind energy could already replace almost three-fourths of electricity made by U.S. coal plants for less than the cost of continuing to operate those plants. By 2025, the share of “at risk” coal generation will jump from 74 percent to 86 percent, adds the report by Energy Innovation Policy & Technology in San Francisco and Boulder-based Vibrant Clean Energy.

New Mexico governor signs landmark clean energy bill

AP News | Posted on March 26, 2019

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed landmark legislation that will mandate more solar panels and wind turbines as the state sets ambitious new renewable energy goals. The measure requires that investor-owned utilities and rural electric cooperatives get at least half of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030. That would jump to 80 percent by 2040.A 100 percent carbon-free mandate would kick in five years later for utilities. Electric co-ops would have until 2050 to meet that goal.

After Paris agreement, big oil and gas companies invested $110 billion in fossil fuels

CBS News | Posted on March 26, 2019

In the three years since most of the world's nations signed on to the Paris climate agreement, major oil and gas companies have poured more than $100 billion into their fossil-fuel infrastructure. That's more than 10 times the amount the same companies have spent on low-carbon investments, despite lip service toward that area, according to a new report.The five biggest—ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, BP and Total—will collectively spend $115 billion on capital investments this year, according to the report. Just 3 percent of that spending will go to low-carbon investments, like hydrogen batteries or electric-car charging stations.

Recording reveals oil industry execs laughing at Trump access

Reveal News | Posted on March 26, 2019

Gathered for a private meeting at a beachside RitzCarlton in Southern California, the oil executives were celebrating a colleague’s sudden rise. David Bernhardt, their former lawyer, had been appointed by President Donald Trump to the powerful No. 2 spot at the Department of the Interior. “We know him very well, and we have direct access to him, have conversations with him about issues ranging from federal land access to endangered species, to a lot of issues,” Naatz said, according to an hourlong recording of the June 2017 event in Laguna Niguel provided to Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.The recording gives a rare look behind the curtain of an influential oil industry lobbying group that spends more than $1 million per year to push its agenda in Congress and federal regulatory agencies. The previous eight years had been dispiriting for the industry: As IPAA vice president Jeff Eshelman told the group, it had seemed as though the Obama administration and environmental groups had put together “their target list of everything that they wanted done to shut down the oil and gas industry.”

EPA Wants Refinery Information Sealed

DTN | Posted on March 25, 2019

The EPA wants to keep from the public eye an opening brief and some records to be filed in a small-refinery waivers case, claiming in a court motion the information is subject to a protective order on confidential business information. The agency made the motion in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver last Friday, where a lawsuit filed by several ethanol and agriculture interest groups last year argues the EPA did not publish in the Federal Register what were final agency actions in granting waivers to two refineries owned by HollyFrontier and a third by CVR Energy.

EPA Grants Five More '17 RFS Waivers

DTN | Posted on March 25, 2019

The EPA granted five additional 2017 small-refinery exemptions (SREs) to the Renewable Fuel Standard on Thursday, raising the agency total for that year to 34, according to an update posted to EPA's online dashboard. The dashboard also indicates it has two more waiver requests pending for that year.

Iowa Legislature Considers Sunshine Tax on Local Private Solar Power Systems

KIOW | Posted on March 25, 2019

Iowa’s largest investor-owned utility wants to make local owners of private solar power systems pay more for generating their own electricity, while opponents warn that could cause Iowa to lose its standing as a leader in promoting renewables. House Study Bill 185 would add a yearly “sunshine tax” on private solar generators, a move MidAmerican Energy says creates more fairness for all customers who use its electric grid. But Lee Tesdell, who has solar installed at his farm, says if the bill passes, the potential savings from solar would be greatly reduced, discouraging Iowans from using it.

Missouri approves wind energy transmission line. Landowners vow to fight back.

The Kansas City Star | Posted on March 25, 2019

After years of rejection, court battles and delays, a four-state transmission line that would connect western Kansas wind farms to the eastern power grid gained approval from the Missouri state agency that regulates public utilities. With the Grain Belt Express projected to cross properties of 570 Missouri landowners, the Missouri Landowners Alliance and Eastern Missouri Landowners Alliance said they plan to appeal the Public Service Commission’s order to the Missouri Court of Appeals, according to the opposition’s attorney Paul Agathen.Though far from the last step, Wednesday’s unanimous vote by the five PSC commissioners in favor of granting the Grain Belt Express a certificate of conveniency and need -- giving it the ability to acquire property through eminent domain -- is the furthest the project has come in its quest to stretch a transmission line more than 200 miles through eight northern Missouri counties.

Starving whale killed by swallowing 40kg plastic, activists say

The Telegraph | Posted on March 25, 2019

A starving whale with 40 kilos (88 pounds) of plastic trash in its stomach has died after being washed ashore in the Philippines, activists said Monday, calling it one of the worst cases of poisoning they have seen. Environmental groups have tagged the Philippines as one of the world's biggest ocean polluters due to its reliance on single-use plastic.That sort of pollution, which is also widespread in other southeast Asian nations, regularly kills wildlife like whales and turtles that ingest the waste.