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From pigs to prairie grass: Missouri company seeks new biogas feedstock

U.S. Energy News | Posted on September 11, 2018

A St. Louis alternative energy company has started the second phase of an ambitious biogas project in northern Missouri that aims to turn prairie plants from marginal farmland into renewable natural gas. Roeslein Alternative Energy, in a partnership with Smithfield Foods and a group of Midwest universities, has begun converting the first of a thousand acres of lower quality farmland to prairie grasses.If the company can find a solution that is both technically and financially viable, it could provide broad environmental benefits as well as new income for farmers. But getting there will require building from scratch a whole new system for planting, harvesting, transporting and converting the feedstock.Founder Rudi Roeslein originally approached pork producer Smithfield Foods with a proposal to cover and capture methane from 88 waste lagoons at the corporation’s nine hog facilities in northern Missouri.

Sickened Kingston coal ash workers left with faulty, manipulated test results

Knox News | Posted on September 6, 2018

More than 50 coal ash spill cleanup workers and workers' survivors are suiing Jacobs Engineering for unsafe working conditions that they allege lead to sickness and death at the cleanup site. When the Environmental Protection Agency arrived on the scene of the nation’s largest coal ash spill, the agency was worried about the hundreds of blue-collar laborers already toiling in the toxic stuff without protection, newly reviewed records show.EPA independent testing of the 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash that had spilled from a dike at the TVA Kingston Fossil Fuel Power Plant in Roane County in December 2008 was showing alarming levels of radium and arsenic, records show.Independent researchers from institutions such as Duke University and Wake Forest University also were finding high concentrations of arsenic and radium.

Arizona Supreme Court rules 50% renewables initiative will appear on ballot

Utility Dive | Posted on September 6, 2018

Arizona voters will consider a 50% renewable energy standard when they head to the polls in November following a decision from the state's Supreme Court last week.Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona (CEHA) submitted 480,000 signatures in support of the ballot initiative, far more than the required 225,000 signatures. A utility-backed group opposing the effort challenged the validity of the signatures, but lost in both Maricopa County Superior Court and the state's highest court last week. The group opposed to the ballot initiative, Arizonans for Affordable Energy (AAE), is supported by the state's largest utility, Arizona Public Service. Officials say they will now shift focus away from challenging the initiative to swaying customers to vote "no" on Proposition 127. 

Illinois community solar garden sprouts sun-tracking “smartflower”

Energy News Network | Posted on September 6, 2018

One of the first community solar systems in Illinois won’t be a run-of-the-mill array of PV panels. The Renaissance Collaborative (TRC), an affordable housing complex on Chicago’s South Side, is the site of a dense new solar array that will fan out in the shape of a flower to maximize generation.Known as a “smartflower,” the system is designed to open in the morning and generate power as it mechanically tracks the sun throughout the day. The compact design makes it ideal for a dense city neighborhood, in this case, in a vegetable garden behind TRC’s building.

Exxon reasserts its methane position as EPA preps rollback

Axios | Posted on September 6, 2018

ExxonMobil is reasserting its self-imposed commitment to cut emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that’s the primary component of natural gas, as the Environmental Protection Agency prepares to repeal regulations. Why it matters: The comments, posted Tuesday by the CEO of XTO Energy, an Exxon subsidiary with large U.S. natural-gas operations, illustrate an awkward predicament facing industry under President Trump. Some of the biggest global companies are seeking to emphasize a social license to produce fossil fuels even as the Trump administration pursues aggressive regulatory rollbacks.

Minnesota Department Of Commerce Says Enbridge Insurance Coverage Is Lacking

Wisconsin Public Radio | Posted on September 6, 2018

The Minnesota Department of Commerce says energy firm Enbridge does not have adequate insurance to protect the public from damages related to crude oil spills. Some critics, including one Wisconsin environmental group, argue that puts taxpayers on the hook to pay for cleanup of any accidents on the company’s pipelines. The Minnesota Department of Commerce is reviewing Enbridge’s policies to make sure the company is meeting conditions for building its $2.9 billion Line 3 replacement project that runs through Minnesota to the company’s terminal in Superior.

Dire Climate Change Warnings Cut From Trump Power-Plant Proposal

Bloomberg | Posted on September 6, 2018

Warnings about potentially severe consequences of climate change were deleted from a Trump administration plan to weaken curbs on power plant emissions during a White House review. Drafts had devoted more than 500 words to highlighting the impacts -- more heat waves, intense hurricanes, heavy rainfalls, floods and water pollution -- as part of the proposal to replace Obama-era restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions. That language was left out of the Trump administration’s final analysis of the Environmental Protection Agency proposal. Among the abandoned assertions: an acknowledgment that “the climate has continued to change, with new records being set” for global average surface temperatures, Arctic sea ice retreat, carbon dioxide concentrations and sea level rise, all markers of the phenomenon. The administration also scrapped a reference to numerous “major scientific assessments” that “strengthen the case that GHGs endanger public health and welfare both for current and future generations.”


California passes landmark 100% clean energy goal

Utility Dive | Posted on August 30, 2018

The California Senate on Wednesday passed legislation that would set the state on a path to eliminate carbon emissions from its electricity generation, after the state Assembly approved it on Tuesday. S.B. 100 would set a state goal to supply 100% of retail electricity sales from carbon-free resources by 2045 and direct state agencies to begin planning for the target. The bill would also boost the state's current 50% renewable portfolio standard to 60% by 2030 and mandate that California's actions do not "contribute to greenhouse gas emissions increases elsewhere in the western grid."Utilities in the state oppose the effort, with Pacific Gas and Electric telling the Wall Street Journal the legislation is "poorly timed." The bill must be passed by the Senate before heading to Gov. Jerry Brown, who supports the effort and is likely to sign it. 

TVA shifts coal ash strategy in response to spill, Obama-era rule

Utility Dive | Posted on August 30, 2018

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) said it will alter its management of coal ash at a Kentucky coal plant in response to an Obama-era regulation under threat by the Trump administration.The utility will close two unlined coal ash storage units at its Shawnee Fossil Plant, removing water from the waste project, and capping the remaining contents in place, according to a final supplemental Environmental Impact Statement released on Friday. TVA will then build a clay-lined coal ash facility to handle new waste from the operating plant. The plan is part of TVA's process to "convert from wet to dry storage," at all its sites, said TVA spokesperson Scott Brooks. The utility committed to the process in 2009 after a major coal ash spill at its Kingston plant.

Trump's EPA unveils weaker alternative to Obama power plant rule

Reuters | Posted on August 22, 2018

The Trump administration proposed replacing a signature Obama-era policy to combat climate change with a weaker plan that would let states write their own rules on coal-fired power plants, prompting critics to warn of dire environmental and health consequences. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal would require states to submit plans for improving efficiency of coal-fired power plants. The federal government will set carbon emission guidelines, but states will have the leeway to set less-stringent standards, taking into account a facility’s age and the cost of upgrades.The rule also could allow power plant owners to sidestep costly permits for those improvements.