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Showing posts from August, 2012

More Than One Way to Skin the Ethanol Cat

August 27, 2012 - Did you know that a large number of ethanol refineries in this country are owned by corn farmers?  I wonder if the owners are family farmers or agribusiness farmers; there's a big part of me that suspects the latter.  Perhaps you've heard that the President has been asked to order reduced corn ethanol production, as a result of the drought.  The corn is needed for, of all things, food.  More than 150 members of Congress asked the EPA  to relax government rules regarding the percentage of corn used in ethanol manufacture.  This idea surfaced weeks ago, and has still not been acted upon.  Refineries have produced about ten percent less ethanol this year, due to a scarcity of corn coupled with a higher price.  (The Bush II-era law mandates an increased percentage of ethanol in our gasoline every year.)

That hungry people should have to compete with ill-advised government programs runs counter to every basic survival instinct we have.  The Bush program, concocted…

Michiganders Like It Windy

August 20, 2012 - You know, it's hard to decide what to write about these days.  Climate extremes are happening all the time now, and I don't ever want to treat what people are going through as if it were unimportant.  On the other hand, it's very easy to tell what my readers like, and want: you guys want to hear some good news.  Last week's blog article was the most popular I've ever written, bar none.  So this week I'm going to mix it up.  First, let's all admit that it's impossible to ignore the fires burning in the western United States.

I know - they're getting a lot of coverage, and it's pretty scary stuff.  There's nothing I can say to make the situation less horrible than it is.  We all want so very badly for the fires to just stop burning!  Fact is, dead trees as dry as tinder are always going to catch fire when they're struck by lightning.  This is a good time to remind ourselves of one of those basic facts of life: we can turn…

Cleaner Energy, Cleaner Air

August 13, 2012 - Ceres is an organization made up of investors, companies, and public interest groups that work to accelerate and expand adoption of sustainable business practices.  They, along with collaborators M.J. Bradley & Assoc., the National Resources Defense Council, Entergy, Exelon, Tenaska, and Bank of America, issue a report every other year that assesses the environmental performance and progress of electric power companies.  This year's report is the eighth edition of Benchmarking Air Emissions, and it makes for enjoyable reading.  Lo and behold, the United States is in the midst of a clean energy transition.  At last!  Here are some of the long-awaited particulars:

From 2008 to 2010, emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide from electric power plants fell by over 30 percent.During the same period, carbon dioxide emissions fell four percent.  Preliminary data show another five percent reduction took place in 2011.When large hydroelectric power projects are i…

President Obama's Environmental Record

August 6, 2012 - If someone were to ask you about President Obama's record on the environment, would you have a hard time answering the question?  I realized I would, so I went straight to the horse's mouth:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/energy.  Since this is the administration's side of the story, I found that they occasionally chose to laud themselves regarding matters which I thought counterproductive, i.e., approving a permit for a nuclear reactor in Burke, Georgia.  (Everybody: Huzzah!)  Overall, I think it is safe to say that the President has done a lot more than most people realize.  While some of what's been done falls under the heading of "let's talk about that some more," there have been real, honest-to-goodness accomplishments, as well.  In the interest of a well-informed electorate, here is a list of President Obama's accomplished goals, so far (in some cases, legislation or directives have taken effect, with the completion date lying at some…