Peruvian glaciers shrinking.

NATIONS: Peruvian glacier reduced to half of its size (02/25/2011)
In 23 years, a glacier on Huaytapallana Mountain has melted by half. This poses a grave concern for water resources in the region, said officials.

The melting of the 5 square kilometers (1.9 square miles) of ice was caused by global warming, and the phenomenon will have serious effects on agriculture, health, fresh water resources and disaster mitigation, said Erasmo Meza, natural resources and environment manager for the central Andean region of Junin.

Junin’s regional government is putting together a plan to declare the mountain a natural conservation area, protecting the area from mining companies, said Meza.

A 2009 World Bank report found that Peru’s glaciers have shrunk by 22 percent in the past 35 years, amounting to a 12 percent loss in the volume of fresh water reaching the coast, where most Peruvians live. The Huaytapallana glacier exceeds the findings in the study.

Pastoruri, a 5,200-meter (17,060-foot) peak in Huascaran National Park in northern Peru, is one of the most threatened in the country (Agence France-Presse, Feb. 23). — TS

More polls. Americans support curbing global climate change.

CLIMATE: NRDC-sponsored polls show voters with favorable view of EPA regs (02/23/2011)
Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter
Days after the House passed a funding resolution packed with provisions to limit U.S. EPA’s ability to curb greenhouse gas emissions, two polls have been released showing that even voters in Republican-leaning states and congressional districts have a favorable view of environmental regulations.

One poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling in conjunction with the Natural Resources Defense Council, targeted 19 congressional districts whose members supported an amendment to the continuing resolution (CR) to strengthen the bill’s language prohibiting EPA from regulating greenhouse gases for seven months.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) were among the lawmakers whose districts were surveyed.

Pollsters presented registered voters with a statement from the National Association of Manufacturers supporting the vote to limit EPA authority and a statement from the American Lung Association opposing the vote on the grounds that it would “strip away Clean Air Act protections that safeguard Americans and their families from air pollution that puts their lives at risk.”

Pollsters then asked voters whether they supported or opposed their representative’s vote in favor of the EPA amendment.

Nationally, 58 percent said they opposed the vote to handcuff EPA, while 42 percent said they supported it. Boehner’s district broke down along a 56 percent to 44 percent margin, while 64 percent of Bachmann’s constituents polled opposed her vote and 36 percent supported it.

The national poll of 784 registered voters was taken Feb. 18-20 and had a 3.5-point margin of error. The poll in Boehner’s district surveyed 805 registered voters Feb. 18 and 19 and had a 3.5-point error margin. The Bachmann district poll of 956 registered voters was conducted Feb. 18 and 19 and had a 3.2-point error margin.

When the Senate takes up its own stopgap spending bill next week, it is not expected to include a similar provision barring EPA from regulating emissions linked to climate change. Still, Peter Altman, climate campaign director for NRDC, said it is important for supporters of EPA authority to respond to the House vote.

“I think the House is setting out a marker, and politics is politics, so one never knows where things will go,” Altman told reporters on a call this afternoon. “Our immediate focus is to make sure that the constituents of the representatives that are voting against public health know about it and have the information they need in order to raise questions and challenge their members about it.”

Also this afternoon, Colorado College released a survey of voters in five Western states — Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — that showed 67 percent of voters in those states support EPA regulation of carbon emissions from power plants, cars and factories to reduce global warming. That poll of 2,200 registered voters in the five states was conducted jointly Jan. 23-27 by a Democratic polling firm, Fairbank, Maslin, Maulin, Metz and Associates, and a GOP firm, Public Opinion Strategies.


Coal electricity should cost 3 times what it does. Harvard study.

Harvard study: coal’s hidden costs top $345 billion in U.S.
The United States’ reliance on coal to generate almost half of its electricity, costs the economy about $345 billion a year in hidden expenses not borne by miners or utilities, including health problems in mining communities and pollution around power plants, a study found. Those costs would effectively triple the price of electricity produced by coal-fired plants, which are prevalent in part due to the their low cost of operation, the study led by a Harvard University researcher found.

New Lithium batteries for the BugE

We are loading 6 of these “4 packs” into the motorcycle. These are Elite Power Solutions batteries that are a new chemistry, Lithium Iron Manganese Phosphate, LiFeMnPO4. Earlier versions were LiFePO4, or LifePo. Easier to say. But this generation of chemistry is supposed to be better. We’ll see. Jo Reyes and Charlie Garlow are now distributors/dealers for the new LiFeMnPO batteries. They are rectangular solids, as opposed to the other LiFePo cylindrical batteries. We will put the new ones on the motorcycle and the older cylindrical batteries will go on the trailer.

Harvard Study. Coal not paying its fair share.

Coal’s hidden costs top $345 billion in U.S.: study
February 16, 2011


By Scott Malone

The United States’ reliance on coal to generate almost half of its electricity, costs the economy about $345 billion a year in hidden expenses not borne by miners or utilities, including health problems in mining communities and pollution around power plants, a study found.

Those costs would effectively triple the price of electricity produced by coal-fired plants, which are prevalent in part due to the their low cost of operation, the study led by a Harvard University researcher found.

“This is not borne by the coal industry, this is borne by us, in our taxes,” said Paul Epstein, a Harvard Medical School instructor and the associate director of its Center for Health and the Global Environment, the study’s lead author.

“The public cost is far greater than the cost of the coal itself. The impacts of this industry go way beyond just lighting our lights.”

Coal-fired plants currently supply about 45 percent of the nation’s electricity, according to U.S. Energy Department data. Accounting for all the ancillary costs associated with burning coal would add about 18 cents per kilowatt hour to the cost of electricity from coal-fired plants, shifting it from one of the cheapest sources of electricity to one of the most expensive.

In the year that ended in November, the average retail price of electricity in the United States was about 10 cents per kilowatt hour, according to the Energy Department.

Advocates of coal power have argued that it is among the cheapest of fuel sources available in the United States, allowing for lower-cost power than that provided by the developing wind and solar industries.

“The Epstein article ignores the substantial benefits of coal in maintaining lower energy prices for American families and businesses,” said Lisa Camooso Miller, a spokeswoman for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, an industry group. “Lower energy prices are linked to a higher standard of living and better health.”


The estimate of hidden costs takes into account a variety of side-effects of coal production and use. Among them are the cost of treading elevated rates of cancer and other illnesses in coal-mining areas, environmental damage and lost tourism opportunities in coal regions where mountaintop removal is practiced and climate change resulting from elevated emissions of carbon dioxide from burning the coal.

Coal releases more carbon dioxide when burned than does natural gas or oil.

The $345 billion annual cost figure was the study’s best estimate of the costs associated with burning coal. The study said the costs could be as low as $175 billion or as high as $523 billion.

“This is effectively a subsidy borne by asthmatic children and rain-polluted lakes and the climate is another way of looking at it,” said Kert Davies, research director with the environmental activist group Greenpeace. “It’s a tax by the industry on us that we are not seeing in our bills but we are bearing the costs.”

The estimates came in the paper “Full cost accounting for the life cycle of coal,” to be published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Epstein discussed his findings on the Arctic Sunrise, a 164-foot-long (50 meter long) icebreaker operated by Greenpeace, and moored in Boston Harbor.

Leading users of coal in the United States include utilities American Electric Power Co Inc and Duke Energy Corp. The top producers include miners Arch Coal Inc, Consol Energy Inc, Peabody Energy Corp and Alpha Natural Resources.

Public likes EPA

Who loves us? The public does ! It’s bi-partisan.

A nationwide survey done by the American Lung Association in partnership with polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. Even for those of us who understand the public’s fondness for clean air, the results are striking.

The public overwhelmingly supports EPA in updating Clean Air Act standards and overwhelmingly opposes congressional efforts to block EPA. When it comes to clean air, the public trusts EPA far more than Congress.
Should EPA update Clean Air Act standards to make them stricter? Fully 69 percent of respondents somewhat or strongly agree, compared to 26 percent who somewhat or strongly oppose.
Another key fact: On this issue, unlike many others these days, independents line up with Democrats. Where 88 percent of Dems want standards updated, so do 68 percent of independents, compared with 49 percent of Republicans. (Note too that even among Republicans, support for strengthening standards outweighs opposition.)
Yet another key fact: The public does not distinguish greenhouse gas standards from other air quality standards. When asked about four specific regulations, CO2 standards were just as popular (77 percent support) as smog limits, even a hair more popular than vehicle fuel efficiency standards. Crucially, there was majority support in both parties for all four standards:

EPA Clean Air Rules make 1.46 million job years

This is not the Greenhouse Gas rules, but two other rules, the Transport of pollution from state to state, and the Utility MACT rule which controls mercury and other heavy metals.
The new report evaluates job impacts under two Clean Air Act rules expected to be finalized in 2011: the Clean Air Transport Rule, focused on sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from 31 targeted states in the East and Midwest; and the Utility MACT rule which, for the first time, will set limits on hazardous air pollutants such as mercury, arsenic, lead and hydrochloric acid.

The study finds that installation, design and construction of pollution controls and construction of new generation capacity will create a majority of the jobs in the five- year period through 2015. The estimated 1.46 million