Zip Code 00000

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via The 50 Year Underground Coal Mine Fire

“In this part of Pennsylvania, a mine town gone bust is hardly news. But there is none whose demise has been so spectacular and observable. Centralia has been on fire, literally, for the past four decades.

The Centralia mine fire began in 1962 when a pile of burning trash ignited an exposed seam of coal. The fire soon seeped down into the lattice of old mine tunnels beneath town. When it was founded in 1866, Centralia’s ocean of underground coal, aptly named the Mammoth Vein, meant limitless wealth. But once the fire began, it came to mean endless destruction.

This abandoned section of Route 61 runs smack through one of Centralia’s so-called hot zones. In these areas the underground fire directly affects the surface landscape. The traffic that used to flow over this section of road has been permanently detoured several hundred yards to the east. Thanks to a recent snowfall, the tracks of other visitors are obvious — that is until the snow cover abruptly ends. It’s as if someone has drawn a line across the road. On one side there’s snow. On the opposite side there’s bone-dry asphalt. The road’s surface is not exactly warm. But the asphalt is definitely not as cold as it should be on a chilly day in the Appalachian Mountains. In the roadside woods, all the trees are dead, baked to death by the subterranean smolder. Even their bark has peeled away.

Further in, a crack 50 feet in length has ripped through the highway. Puffs of white gas steadily float out. I step to the edge of the crack. It’s about two feet wide and two feet deep, filled with garbage and chunks of broken pavement. Then the wind shifts slightly, and a gas cloud bends in my direction. I cover my nose and mouth with the collar of my jacket. Standing on the roof of this inferno has suddenly lost its appeal. I turn and walk back to my car.”

http://wapo.st/1eMhdGq

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Oldest Nuclear Power Plant in US to be Retired – The 60 Year Decommissioning Process

When a nuclear plant retires, it stops producing electricity and enters into the decommissioning phase. Decommissioning involves removing and safely storing spent nuclear fuel, decontaminating the plant to reduce residual radioactivity, dismantling plant structures, removing contaminated materials to disposal facilities, and then releasing the property for other uses once the NRC has determined the site is safe.

According to Exelon, Oyster Creek will undergo a six-step decommissioning process. The typical decommissioning period for a nuclear power plant is about 60 years, so parts of the Oyster Creek plant structure could remain in place until 2075. (1.)

retired nuclear power plants and nuclear power plants that have announced retirement

Since 2013, six commercial nuclear reactors in the United States have shut down, and an additional eight reactors have announced plans to retire by 2025. The retirement process for nuclear power plants involves disposing of nuclear waste and decontaminating equipment and facilities to reduce residual radioactivity, making it much more expensive and time consuming than retiring other power plants. As of 2017, a total of 10 commercial nuclear reactors in the United States have been successfully decommissioned, and another 20 U.S. nuclear reactors are currently in different stages of the decommissioning process.

To fully decommission a power plant, the facility must be deconstructed and the site returned to greenfield status (meaning the site is safe for reuse for purposes such as housing, farming, or industrial use). Nuclear reactor operators must safely dispose of any onsite nuclear waste and remove or contain any radioactive material, including nuclear fuel as well as irradiated equipment and buildings. (2.)

References:

  1. America’s oldest operating nuclear power plant to retire on Monday
  2. Decommissioning nuclear reactors is a long-term and costly process

Study Finds BC Pension Fund Manager is Funding Climate Agreement Breach

A study* released by the Corporate Mapping Project (CMP), a watchdog organization indicates that public pensions could be overly invested in the fossil fuel industry. This is a concern as international agreements signed by Canada are directed to reducing emissions, while public money is invested in an agenda that requires growth and production in a sector which is in decline.

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Figure 1. Map of proposed expansion current pipeline and tanker route – Kinder Morgan / Trans Mountain Pipeline. (1)

 

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Figure 2. Map of impact of refinery facilities and proximity to conservation areas, a University, a Salmon spawning inlet, residential housing and major transport routes. (1)

 

The area that will be impacted by the growth of the facility are diverse and vulnerable. This is not a brownfield development, and in fact is on the side of a mountain and part of a larger watershed. Serious consideration should be given to relocating the facility or decommissioning.

There are alternate locations better suited for this type of high hazard industrial facility, away from sensitive areas and remote from populations and high traffic harbours. Why are these alternatives not being discussed?

Here’s a snippet taken from the introduction of the report and their findings. How can we stop carbon emissions when local investing strategies are in the opposite direction? Are public pension funds safely invested and competently managed? Likely not.

 

CMP researchers Zoë Yunker, Jessica Dempsey and James Rowe chose to look into BCI’s investment practices because it controls one of the province’s largest pools of wealth ($135.5 billion) — the pensions of over half-a-million British Columbians. Which means BCI’s decisions have a significant impact on capital markets and on our broader society.

Their research asked, “Is BCI is investing funds in ways that effectively respond to the climate change crisis?”

Unfortunately, the answer is “No.” BCI has invested billions of dollars in companies with large oil, gas and coal reserves — companies whose financial worth depends on overshooting their carbon budget — and is even increasing many investments in these companies.

As another recent CMP study clearly shows what’s at stake. Canada’s Energy Outlook, authored by veteran earth scientist David Hughes, reveals that the projected expansion of oil and gas production will make it all but impossible for Canada to meet our emissions-reduction targets. The study also shows that returns to the public from oil and gas production have gone down significantly. (2)

 

*This study is part of the Corporate Mapping Project (CMP), a research and public engagement initiative investigating the power of the fossil fuel industry. The CMP is jointly led by the University of Victoria, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Parkland Institute. This research was supported by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

References:

  1. kinder_morgan_pipeline_route_maps
  2. fossil-fuelled-pensions

Oilsands and Fossil Fuels Receive Major Blow Due to Paris Agreement

LONDON — Europe’s largest bank HSBC said on Friday it would mostly stop funding new coal power plants, oilsands and arctic drilling, becoming the latest in a long line of investors to shun the fossil fuels.

Other large banks such as ING and BNP Paribas have made similar pledges in recent months as investors have mounted pressure to make sure bank’s actions align with the Paris Agreement, a global pact to limit greenhouse gas emissions and curb rising temperatures.

“We recognize the need to reduce emissions rapidly to achieve the target set in the 2015 Paris Agreement… and our responsibility to support the communities in which we operate,” Daniel Klier, group head of strategy and global head of sustainable finance, said in a statement.

via Europe’s biggest bank HSBC says it will no longer finance oilsands projects — Financial Post

Banning the Internal Combustion Engine: Is this the end of Fossil Fuels?

As a general rule I find that most North Americans are unaware that there is a growing movement of countries that are banning new sales of vehicles powered by gasoline or diesel and may also include other fuels such as propane, compressed and LNG (liquid natural gas).

The local news is rife with plans to grow our exploitation of natural resources and build more pipelines for anticipated expansion to new markets such as China. The federal government is in the process of colluding with the petroleum industry to force the construction of a dil-bit pipeline in a densely populated region of Greater Vancouver.  Meanwhile our future markets are vanishing as other governments are phasing out fossil fuels and their engines.

Image #1: A rendering of the Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure (SURUS) platform with truck chassis. 

SURUS was designed to form a foundation for a family of commercial vehicle solutions that leverages a single propulsion system integrated into a common chassis. (1)

Fuel cell technology is a key piece of GM’s zero-emission strategy.

General Motors’ Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure (SURUS) is an electric vehicle platform with autonomous capabilities powered by a flexible fuel cell. GM displayed it at the fall meeting of the Association of the United States Army, as the commercially designed platform could be adapted for military use.

SURUS leverages GM’s newest Hydrotec fuel cell system, autonomous capability and truck chassis components to deliver high-performance, zero-emission propulsion to minimize logistical burdens and reduce human exposure to harm. Benefits include quiet and odor-free operation, off-road mobility, field configuration, instantaneous high torque, exportable power generation, water generation and quick refueling times. (1)

 

Table 1. List of Countries Banning the ICE & Timeline (2)
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At an automotive conference in Tianjin, China revealed it was developing plans towards banning fossil fuel-based cars. Though China has not set a 2040 goal like the U.K. and France, it said it was working with other regulators on a time-specific ban.

“The ministry has also started relevant research and will make such a timeline with relevant departments. Those measures will certainly bring profound changes for our car industry’s development,” Xin Guobin, the vice minister of industry and information technology, said.

Both India and Norway have also said they have electric car targets set for the next few decades. India, home to heavily polluted cities, said by 2030 it plans to have vehicles solely powered by electricity. (3)

Final Remarks:

I explain this worldwide movement to the electric vehicle and the impact this will have oil markets, however, most of whom I discuss this issue with are unaware of these vital facts. In addition we are seeing growing alternate forms of power sources for our electrical grid, such as solar, wind, tidal, hydro-electric, geothermal and others.

If you ran a business that called for a major investments in capital for infrastructure, would you make it knowing that your market is non-existent? Maybe it’s time for Canadians and Americans to wake up and smell the coffee.

References:

  1. fuel-cell-electric-truck-platform
  2. List_of_countries_banning_fossil_fuel_vehicles
  3. how-internal-combustion-engine-bans-could-catalyze-big-oil-concerns

Why Oil and Pipelines Are a Bad Deal For Canadians – Kinder Morgan/Oil Sands

Let’s get straight to the point. Canadians are getting ripped off. We pay the among the highest prices in the world for our own plentiful resources. Meanwhile we ship it to the US and abroad. This is in clear conflict with stewardship goals of our resources, environment and our collective future. What gives Mr. Trudeau?

Canada taxes its oil and gas companies at a fraction of the rate they are taxed abroad, including by countries ranked among the world’s most corrupt, according to an analysis of public data by the Guardian.

The low rate that oil companies pay in Canada represents billions of dollars in potential revenue lost, which an industry expert who looked at the data says is a worrying sign that the country may be “a kind of tax haven for our own companies.”

The countries where oil companies paid higher rates of taxes, royalties and fees per barrel in 2016 include Nigeria, Indonesia, Ivory Coast and the UK.

“I think it will come as a surprise to most Canadians, including a lot of politicians, that Canada is giving oil companies a cut-rate deal relative to other countries,” said Keith Stewart, an energy analyst with Greenpeace.

Companies like Chevron Canada paid almost three times as much to Nigeria and almost seven times as much to Indonesia as it did to Canadian, provincial and municipal governments.

Chevron used to run its Nigeria and Indonesia projects out of the U.S., but after allegations that they evaded billions in taxes, their operations were moved to Canada.

According to data collected by the Guardian, Suncor also paid six times more taxes to the UK, and Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL) paid almost four times more to Ivory Coast. (1)

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Figure 1. Taken from: Alberta First Nation presents evidence against Teck’s exploratory drilling for oil sands mine (2)

CALGARY – British Columbia’s government wants to restrict shipments of oilsands crude in pipelines and on railways cars in the province through a series of proposed new rules that is set to create additional uncertainty for Kinder Morgan Canada’s $7.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The proposed rules also open B.C. up to jurisdictional challenges and have already exacerbated a spat with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, who called the proposals “both illegal and unconstitutional.”

B.C. Environment and Climate Change Strategy Minister George Heyman announced Tuesday rules to limit “the increase of diluted bitumen transportation until the behaviour of spilled bitumen can be better understood and there is certainty regarding the ability to adequately mitigate spills.”

To that end, B.C. will establish an independent scientific advisory panel to make recommendations on if and how heavy oils can be safely transported and, if spilled, cleaned up.

Tuesday’s announcement did not specifically mention Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion, which will boost the shipments of oil from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C. from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 bpd, but the B.C. NDP had promised to block the pipeline’s construction during an election campaign last year.

In an interview with the Financial Post, Heyman said B.C.’s Environmental Management Act “gives us the right, in addition to our responsibility, to defend B.C.’s vulnerable coastline, our inland waterways, our economic and environmental interests and that’s what British Columbians expect us to do.” (3)

Justin Trudeau, Bill Nye

References:

  1. revealed-oil-giants-pay-billions-less-tax-in-canada-than-abroad
  2. athabasca-chipewyan-first-nation-present-evidence-against-tecks-drilling-oil-sands-mine 
  3. b-c-proposes-new-rules-to-restrict-oilsands-exports-in-fresh-setback-for-trans-mountain-pipeline

UBC Report Findings Show Better Options Than Site C Dam

Keywords: UBC, Site C, Hydro, Dams, Energy, Electricity, Renewable Energy, Employment, Jobs, Environment, Sustainable, Conservation, Water, Governance, British Columbia

In a November 23 report issued “by a team of researchers led by Dr. Karen Bakker ” finds “Site C creates fewer jobs and has larger environmental impact.” (1)

“[…New Research Report: Comparative Assessment of Site C Employment (17 November 2017)

A new UBC report compares employment numbers from Site C versus the alternatives, and concludes: stopping Site C will create a larger number of sustainable jobs in the province, including in the Peace Region.

UBC’s Program on Water Governance has conducted a detailed comparison of employment generated by Site C versus the alternative portfolios put forward by BC Hydro and the BCUC.

  • Our analysis indicates that terminating Site C and pursuing the alternatives results in modest job losses in the short term, and substantial job gains in the medium and long-term.
  • These jobs are generated by remediation, conservation, and alternative energy projects.
  • Terminating Site C and pursuing any alternative portfolio creates a higher number of sustainable jobs in the province, including in the Peace Region.
  • Site C provides the least jobs per dollar spent.

…]” (1)

References:

  1. SITE C DAM

An Engineer’s Take On Major Climate Change

Summary:
1. Climate science is very complicated and very far from being settled.

2. Earth’s climate is overwhelmingly dominated by negative-feedbacks that are currently poorly represented in our Modeling efforts and not sufficiently part of ongoing investigations.

3. Climate warming drives atmospheric CO2 upward as it stimulates all natural sources of CO2 emission. Climate cooling drives atmospheric CO2 downward.

4. Massive yet delayed thermal modulations to the dissolved CO2 content of the oceans is what ultimately drives and dominates the modulations to atmospheric CO2.

5. The current spike in atmospheric CO2 is largely natural (~98%). i.e. Of the 100ppm increase we have seen recently (going from 280 to 380ppm), the move from 280 to 378ppm is natural while the last bit from 378 to 380ppm is rightfully anthropogenic.

6. The current spike in atmospheric CO2 would most likely be larger than now observed if human beings had never evolved. The additional CO2 contribution from insects and microbes (and mammalia for that matter) would most likely have produced a greater current spike in atmospheric CO2.

7. Atmospheric CO2 has a tertiary to non-existent impact on the instigation and amplification of climate change. CO2 is not pivotal. Modulations to atmospheric CO2 are the effect of climate change and not the cause.

Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by Ronald D. Voisin

Let’s examine, at a high and salient level, the positive-feedback Anthropogenic Global Warming, Green-House-Gas Heating Effect (AGW-GHGHE) with its supposed pivotal role for CO2. The thinking is that a small increase in atmospheric CO2 will trigger a large increase in atmospheric Green-House-Gas water vapor. And then the combination of these two enhanced atmospheric constituents will lead to run-away, or at least appreciable and unprecedented – often characterized as catastrophic – global warming.

This theory relies entirely on a powerful positive-feedback and overriding (pivotal) role for CO2. It further assumes that rising atmospheric CO2 is largely or even entirely anthropogenic. Both of these points are individually and fundamentally required at the basis of alarm. Yet neither of them is in evidence whatsoever. And neither of them is even remotely true. CO2 is not only “not pivotal” but it…

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Water Conservation and a Change in Climate Ends California Drought

Water scarcity is becoming a greater problem in our world as human demands for water increases due to population growth, industry, agriculture, and energy production. When the water supply is being pushed beyond its natural limits disaster may occur.  For California residents the end of the drought is good news.  Return of wet weather raises reservoir levels and effectively prevents wildfires.  However, another drought could be around the corner in years to come.  Thus government and water users need to remain vigilant and continue to seek ways to conserve and reduce water use.
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Figure 1. 2017 California Major Water Reservoir Levels
By Bark Gomez and Yasemin Saplakoglu, Bay Area News Group (1)
Friday, April 07, 2017 05:17PM

Gov. Jerry Brown declared an end to California’s historic drought Friday, lifting emergency orders that had forced residents to stop running sprinklers as often and encouraged them to rip out thirsty lawns during the state’s driest four-year period on record.

The drought strained native fish that migrate up rivers and forced farmers in the nation’s leading agricultural state to rely heavily on groundwater, with some tearing out orchards. It also dried up wells, forcing hundreds of families in rural areas to drink bottled water and bathe from buckets.

Brown declared the drought emergency in 2014, and officials later ordered mandatory conservation for the first time in state history. Regulators last year relaxed the rules after a rainfall was close to normal.

But monster storms this winter erased nearly all signs of drought, blanketing the Sierra Nevada with deep snow, California’s key water source, and boosting reservoirs.

“This drought emergency is over, but the next drought could be around the corner,” Brown said in a statement. “Conservation must remain a way of life.” (2)

References:

  1. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/04/08/what-permanent-drought-california-governor-officially-declares-end-to-drought-emergency/ 
  2. http://abc7news.com/weather/governor-ends-drought-state-of-emergency-in-most-of-ca/1846410/

What Does Moist Enthalpy Tell Us?

“In terms of assessing trends in globally-averaged surface air temperature as a metric to diagnose the radiative equilibrium of the Earth, the neglect of using moist enthalpy, therefore, necessarily produces an inaccurate metric, since the water vapor content of the surface air will generally have different temporal variability and trends than the air temperature.”

Climate Science: Roger Pielke Sr.

In our blog of July 11, we introduced the concept of moist enthalpy (see also Pielke, R.A. Sr., C. Davey, and J. Morgan, 2004: Assessing “global warming” with surface heat content. Eos, 85, No. 21, 210-211. ). This is an important climate change metric, since it illustrates why surface air temperature alone is inadequate to monitor trends of surface heating and cooling. Heat is measured in units of Joules. Degrees Celsius is an incomplete metric of heat.

Surface air moist enthalpy does capture the proper measure of heat. It is defined as CpT + Lq where Cp is the heat capacity of air at constant pressure, T is air temperature, L is the latent heat of phase change of water vapor, and q is the specific humidity of air. T is what we measure with a thermometer, while q is derived by measuring the wet bulb temperature (or, alternatively, dewpoint…

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