The e-mail pressuring agency scientists was written by USGS Director Marcia McNutt, and was never meant to be made public. Against strong agency resistance, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility forced disclosure of the e-mail with a Freedom-of-Information-Act lawsuit.
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The new Critical Materials Strategy lays out the issues for 16 key materials used in the manufacture of components for electric vehicles, electronics, wind, solar, and lighting equipment — such as current and projected supply and demand, options for reducing supply and demand problems, alternative materials and product designs to explore, and implications for various international relationships.
Shortly before EPA's deadline to finalize its new rules on toxic emissions from US power plants, the tri-national Commission for Environmental Cooperation released its report on emissions from 3,144 power plants in Canada, the US, and Mexico.
Colorado, which adopted its disclosure rules December 13, 2011, joins Texas, Pennsylvania, and several other states in requiring some disclosure by drillers of the chemicals they pump into shale formations under high pressures to release natural gas. Scores of chemicals, some very toxic, may be involved.
The EPA says the proposed rule would prevent about 17,000 premature deaths each year and hundreds of thousands of illnesses, and avoid substantial environmental damage. The agency estimates that for every $1 spent preventing the targeted pollution there would be health benefits ranging from $5 to $13, and additional environmental benefits.
The San Francisco Chronicle revealed almost all records of the state's Public Utilities Commission, which regulates pipelines, are secret — and the PUC typically asks permission from the utility companies before releasing any information. In most other states, such information is freely available to the public.Region:
Offshore oil and gas drilling from 2012-2017 would be focused in the western and central Gulf of Mexico and off the shores of northern and southern Alaska, if the Dept. of Interior's proposed plan and draft programmatic environmental impact statement, released Nov. 8, 2011, are accepted as is. A 60-day public comment period ends Jan. 9, 2012.Topics on the Beat:
The White House rejected the House Energy Committee's subpoena for "all internal communications" related to federal loan guarantees for the now-bankrupt Solyndra solar panel company.
The agency says the remaining 17 sites covering ~285,000 acres in six states have the best solar gain and energy transmission traits, the fewest conflicts with environmental, cultural, and historic resources, and the best compatibility with each state's efforts. Public meetings commence Nov 30 and a 90-day public comment period ends Jan. 27, 2012. A variance process could be used to approve additional solar development elsewhere.
Researchers at Southern Methodist University, funded by Google, have estimated relative geothermal potential in the US with a new map based in part on oil and gas drilling data. Google says the newer geothermal technologies that are being explored in the US and other countries suggest there may be decent geothermal prospects in all 50 states.Topics on the Beat: