“4 Ways Election Results Could Intensify U.S. Energy Battles” – National Geographic, 5 November 2014

After November’s midterm elections and the newly elected Republican majority in the both houses of Congress, President Obama might have a difficult time moving forward with his climate policy agenda. Now there’s a chance that Republicans will obstruct the EPA‘s funding so that it won’t be able to enact its proposed regulations of curbing power plants emissions. Meanwhile, we might get closer to authorizing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and repealing our 1970s crude oil export ban. Only a few days before the elections, the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change issued another report with grave warnings about the effects of climate change.

One method that Republicans can employ to hinder the Obama administration is with a joint congressional resolution of disapproval, which asks for a majority vote in favor of blocking proposed regulations. However, in order to advance their own bills, Republicans need 60 votes to stop filibusters by Senate Democrats, or a two-thirds majority to quash any of Obama’s vetoes.

Though those odds might seem unlikely, the Republicans can still play a huge hand in climate policy and the energy debate by:

  1. Further Opposing the EPA‘s Power Plant Regulations
    Previously, climate activist and Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer (CA) chaired the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works; however, now the position will transfer to Republican Senator James Inhofe (OK), a staunch climate denier and author of the 2012 book The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.That title itself says it all. Inhofe is staunchly again the idea that climate change is caused by human activity. So it’s reasonable to assume that his goal — along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — is to block funding for the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, where the EPA’s goal is to reduce existing power plants’ emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

  2. Advancing the Keystone XL Pipeline
    Another one of McConnell’s targets is the Keystone XL Pipeline — he would do whatever possible to advance the project, including strategizing a plan that would make sure the legislation would end up on Obama’s desk. Obama would then have to either approve the pipeline or use his veto power.Obama is more likely to approve the pipeline if it has no impact on emissions; according to the State Department, Keystone will not increase emissions.
  3. Increasing Fossil Fuel Exports
    Republicans are now more motivated than ever to end the circa-1970s crude oil export ban that was authorized amid the Arab oil embargo. So far, the Department of Energy has already authorized a few projects that would allow the US to export natural gas, but Republicans would like to push more through.Many Republicans and those in the oil industry contend that exporting crude could push gas prices down even more. Environmentalists assert that repealing the ban might prompt the US to generate more oil, at the cost of the environment.
  4. Introducing a Bipartisan Energy Efficiency Bill
    Republican Senator Rob Portman (OH) and Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH) have created a bipartisan bill that advocates for energy efficiency in many spheres, including residential, commercial, and federal buildings. The bill tried to get through the Senate in 2014, but was unable to because of the debate around Keystone. The bill will have another go, but might very well be blocked by Republicans who don’t support implementing rules that require stronger efficiency guidelines for appliances.

(From National Geographic)

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

January 26, 2015

Phinix LLC

Copyright 2014. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

www.phinix.net    skdas@phinix.net

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Phinix, LLC Awarded DOE Funding for Recycling Project

Phinix has been awarded funding by the Department of Energy‘s agency Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) for its recycling project, “Electrochemical Extraction of High Quality Magnesium from Scrap”.

With this funding, Phinix will develop a new electrochemical cell technology that can recover high-quality magnesium from aluminum magnesium scrap. This technology could lower costs, energy inputs, and emissions from magnesium production, expanding its use in transportation industries. By recovering and reusing aluminum-magnesium scrap, Phinix’s technology could reduce the need for manufacturing new, expensive primary metals, while developing a sustainable and low-cost advanced manufacturing process.

Kentucky — Phinix’s homestate — Congressman Andy Barr congratulated the company in a press release sent out on October 9th:

Based on the strength of its application, Phinix will receive over $600,000 for the research and development of an electrochemical process to extract high-quality magnesium from scrap metal for reuse in manufacturing, as part of ARPA-E’s brand new METALS program.

ARPA-E is a Department of Energy agency charged with identifying and supporting cutting edge technologies to provide clean, affordable energy for American families and businesses. It is modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which, among other breakthroughs, developed the basis for the modern Internet. ARPA-E seeks to develop similarly valuable innovations within the energy sector by leveraging the power of public-private partnerships.

Phinix, LLC was founded in September 2008 in Lexington by Dr. Subodh Das, following an illustrious academic and professional career. Dr. Das served for four years as an adjunct professor at the University of Kentucky, during which time he founded UK’s Center for Aluminum Technology. Phinix provides concept development and consulting services in the areas of aluminum production, metal recycling, energy efficiency and conservation, and carbon management.

“I congratulate Phinix, LLC as it is announced that the company’s innovative metal recycling project will receive funding from ARPA-E following a competitive review process,” said Congressman Andy Barr. “Phinix’s presence in Lexington, established following Dr. Subodh Das’s tenure at the University of Kentucky, demonstrates the important role of the Commonwealth’s university system in providing an educated workforce for the industries of the future. The University of Kentucky is an important component of what makes the environment in central Kentucky ideal for attracting the entrepreneurs and high-tech startups, such as Phinix, which are poised to revolutionize our economy and create highly skilled manufacturing jobs.”

See ARPA-E’s announcement of allocating $66 million for transformational energy technologies, and a complete list of the projects.

October 9, 2013

Phinix LLC

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“Scrap-Metal Plan Proves Radioactive” – Wall Street Journal, 16 January 2013

In an effort to recycle, and profit from, scrap metal at government research labs and nuclear weapons facilities, the US Department of Energy (DOE) is looking to sell almost 14,000 tons of metal to metal-processing facilities. The metals would inevitably be used for an assortment of consumer products, but could be radiation-ridden and harmful to the public. Recycling and metals plants are hesitant to accept radioactive products, since polluted products could merge with sterile products and cause contamination. Cleaning up such a situation could cost a plant millions of dollars.

The amount of metal that is currently under review is only a small portion of the millions of tons of scrap metal that nuclear facilities are housing. The DOE will also acquire a sizable chunk from the sale, as profits could range from $10-40 million per year. According to the DOE, any radiation would be too minimal to injure a person; however, the DOE runs the risk of higher exposure if recycled metals are used in clothing items, like belt-buckles, or in surgical implants, like hip-replacement joints.

This proposal is one of many that the government has developed to recycle waste from nuclear facilities,. In the 80′s, the government presented a similar plan to get rid of waste, which drew large concern from the public. In the 1990s to mid-2000, the government sold 3,000 tons of scrap metal; however, the metal was deemed unsafe by the DOE’s inspector general. None of the government’s past plans have seemed to work.

Our environment would certainly profit from recycling radioactive waste that has nowhere to go. That said, we don’t want to forever contaminate the non-radioactive wastes. Suitable technologies are not available to facilitate these needed actions.

More research needs to be done, and may be sponsored by appropriate private (for-profit and non-profit), NGO and governmental public funding agencies in the US, and other counties and regional governments such as the European Union.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

January 22, 2013

Phinix LLC

Copyright 2013. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

www.phinix.net    skdas@phinix.net

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