“Study: Keystone pollution higher” – Politico, 10 August 2014

According to a report from the Stockholm Environment Institute, the Keystone XL pipeline — the 1,700-mile pipeline that would send 800,000 barrels a day of crude oil from Canada sand formations to Texas refineries — could potentially emit four times as much pollution as initially determined by the State Department.

Estimates made by the US federal government didn’t consider that transporting extra oil through the new pipeline can potentially cause prices to fall by almost $3 per barrel. More oil means more consumption, and more consumption means more pollution. Yet, organizations like the American Petroleum Institute (API) view the study as trivial, as the oil will be produced and transported either way; if it wasn’t being shipped through the pipeline, then it would be shipped using the railroad, which could also increase emission levels.

The report projects that the pipeline can raise greenhouse gas emissions by about 121 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. The State Department noted that the pipeline would, at the most, only increase CO2 emissions by 30 million tons this year.

Earlier this year, President Obama was still undecided about approving the pipeline; and his administration’s approval has been extended until after the midterm US elections. Obama has been making an effort to reduce the US’s GHG emissions — the report indicates that the pipeline’s emissions could undercut the government’s new policies to curb pollution.

Many scientists from outside the study claim that the extra 121 million tons produced by the pipeline is insignificant compared to the 36 billion tons that we globally emitted in 2013. Still, approving the pipeline could weaken Obama’s new climate policy, which takes a firm stance on the effects of climate change.

See also:
Keystone pipeline: Obama’s unpleasant options
Pipeline Fight Lifts Environmental Movement

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

August 12, 2014

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Underground Recovery, LLC Granted Patent for Innovative Process that Generates Electricity from Coal and Other Fossil Fuels without Carbon Emissions

Fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas have been, are, and will remain some of the most abundant energy sources in the world, especially in the US. Despite the benefits of fossil fuel recovery — such as underground coal mining and combustion, and oil and natural gas drilling — and above-ground combustion for power plants, both historically present a threat to the environment and produce undesirable carbon dioxide emissions, greenhouse gas, and ash.

Coal is integral to many of the US’s state economies and is an industry these states can’t afford to lose. Coal is particularly plentiful in Kentucky; as of 2012, coal generates 41% of the world’s electricity, and in 2013, coal generated 93% of all Kentucky’s electricity. Kentucky is the third largest producer of coal in the US, and one of the largest exporters of coal to Asian markets.

Many projects in various stages of commercialization are under way to either process the above-ground released carbon dioxide or sequester underground carbon dioxide, all adding to the cost and environmental impact of generating additional electricity. However, the Lexington-based research and development company Underground Recovery, LLC has a reasonable solution for retrieving underground fossil fuels.

Since 2011, Underground Recovery has been devoted to environmentally friendly and cost effective recovery of energy and metals from underground resources. The company was granted a US patent in July for its innovative coal combustion process, which can eliminate atmospheric release of carbon dioxide emissions and ash. This new process may be a tremendous boon to coal industries in Kentucky and throughout the world, as it provides an economically feasible alternative to the current process of coal, oil, and natural gas mining, followed by above ground combustion and power generation with subsequent under- and above-ground carbon sequestration.

As a high-risk project, if viable, a successful implementation of this process, especially when coupled with hydraulic fracturing, can be ”game changing “ by lowering costs of energy environmental development, increasing fossil fuel reserves, and minimizing the negative environmental impacts of the atmospheric release of GHG, like CO2 and ash.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das

July 28, 2014

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“US Coal Exports Aiding Global GHG Emissions” – Environmental Leader, 29 July 2014

Though the US is moving away from coal and towards natural gas — and despite Obama’s dedication to curbing coal-fired power plants’ emissions and bettering fuel economies — the US still exports coal to other areas in the world, and these exports aren’t likely to cease. In continuing to export coal, the US is transferring its potential greenhouse gas emissions to other countries.

Many of the US’s exports are being transported to countries with lenient regulations on emissions, countries that make no effort to lessen the effects of climate change. Almost nine percent of global coal exports are produced by the US.

The US continues to turn a blind eye to the potential for increasing the world’s GHG emissions because of business, jobs, and money that domestic coal supplies; if the US doesn’t provide the coal, then surely another country would step up and take our place.

The biggest emitter of GHG, China is working towards lowering the country’s coal use. However, Germany is undergoing a coal-revival and importing coal from the US. Germany’s carbon dioxide emissions grew by 1.2 percent in 2013. Worldwide coal use grew more quickly than all other fossil fuels in 2013, by three percent.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

July 31, 2014

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“Kentucky should embrace climate for change; EPA plan cushions impact on coal-reliant states” – Kentucky.com, 3 June 2014

Kentucky seems to have always been on the same page as the EPA. Last year, the Kentucky Energy and Environment Secretary Leonard Peters submitted a white paper to the EPA, which included suggestions similar to the EPA’s newly proposed Clean Power Plan proposal. Peters’ end-goal was to secure Kentucky’s 220,000 manufacturing jobs from skyrocketing power costs that could take part of the energy industry overseas.

What many fail to understand is that the EPA’s new rules aren’t placing strict carbon limits on existing power plants. States like Kentucky, where coal is the bread and butter of the economy, won’t be forced to close and change their coal-fired power plants.

Rather than shut down existing power-plants, the EPA will give each state an individual target for decreasing carbon emissions by 2030. The EPA will also provide different approaches for the states, such as energy efficiency and converting to renewable energy. Peters promoted these methods in his white paper, agreeing that it will be easy for Kentucky to become more energy efficient, as electricity has always been cheap in the state.

The EPA is giving states like Kentucky more time to employ coal-free energy methods, requiring that Kentucky reduce its carbon emissions by 18 percent by 2030, which will successfully limit emissions. Each state has its own individual percentage.

The EPA’s proposal will reduce the US’s coal-use from 40 percent to 30 percent in 2030. However, in reference to global efforts and the US in particular, the EU’s Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said that such attempts might not be enough to battle climate change.

People from all political parties support curbing greenhouse gas emissions, including 57 percent of Republicans, 76 percent of independents, 79 percent of Democrats, and 50 percent of Tea Party supporters.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

June 10, 2014

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