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Found 13 results

  1. You want your home to be safe and clean, but you also probably don’t want anyone in your home to be exposed to harsh and toxic substances. Unfortunately, many chemicals in cleaners are not safe. But the good news is that you can just as easily clean your home with simple, homemade green cleaning methods. Sink Scouring What could be less expensive or fresher than using a tried-and-true method to clean your sinks, showers, and tubs? The key ingredient is baking soda, and you can simply sprinkle it on a surface to be cleaned, then add a little water. For enhanced cleaning benefits, add a couple drops of essential oil like tea tree oil or lavender oil. Drain Cleaner Drains in bathroom and kitchen sinks as well as tubs and showers can get dirty and smelly over time. Address that issue by keeping all drains clean. Simply sprinkle some baking soda in the drain, and then pour a bit of vinegar in there. The mixture will fizz some. Let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes or overnight, and then flush it with hot water. Some companies, such as Coastal Plumbing Inc., know that if your drain is having a serious problem, you might want to look into using a drain cleaning service. They will maintain your drain so that it works like new. Countertop and Surface Cleaner It is important to keep the surfaces in your kitchen looking clean. This includes the countertops and refrigerator shelves. This is an easy cleaning issue to address. Get a 32-ounce spray bottle, and fill it almost to the top with water. Then add about 25 drops of grapefruit seed extract. Shake up the bottle. You now have a spray cleaner that has zero chemical odor yet cleans through grease and dirt very effectively. Laundry Powder There is no need to use laundry cleaning products that are filled with chemicals that you have to breathe when you use the products. Instead, opt for green and homemade laundry cleaning methods. One great option is to use washing soda powder along with borax powder for washing clothes in all temperatures in the washer. Use about a tablespoon of each item for a regular-sized load of clothes. When you use homemade and green cleaning methods and products, you have greater peace of mind in knowing that you are not using harmful, harsh chemical products. And a huge bonus is that cleaning becomes much more pleasant and even fun.
  2. After Shell proved, through blunders and its infamous reputation, that it is not fit to drill in the Arctic, Aug. 17 brought news that the Obama administration had granted them approval to do just that. The troubling development came just days after President Obama announced he would visit Alaska to discuss the impact of climate change on the region. Now, as the oil corporation further destroys the already-disrupted Arctic sea ice, the problem of global warming can only grow worse. The move is especially bewildering for many, as the president has declared Alaska to be "the frontlines of our fight against climate change." For a place of such importance, it hardly seems like an opportune time for the administration to greenlight a venture that will wreak environmental havoc, but that is what has come to pass. Even so, the approval has not gone unnoticed by activists. Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Marissa Knodel said, "When Obama visits the Arctic this month, he must face the communities he is sacrificing to Shell's profits." Greenpeace executive director Annie Leonard added, "The president cannot have it both ways. Announcing a tour of Alaska to highlight climate change days before giving Shell the final approval to drill is deeply hypocritical." In an official report, however, Greenpeace seemed to suggest that the brunt of the blame does not lie with Obama, but rather, with the greed-driven company that seeks to ravage the Arctic. They noted that the president "has used his executive power to show climate leadership before. Earlier this year, he vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline in response to a nationwide public outcry, demanding the U.S. no longer champion policies and projects that accelerate climate change. "The world is watching Shell right now. [They have] a history of ineffective equipment. In 2012, one of Shell's Arctic rigs ran aground and became stuck in Dutch Harbor. The technology does not exist to effectively clean up an oil spill in the icy and unpredictable waters. This is a disaster waiting to happen." The imbalanced and contradictory approach the Obama administration seems to be taking in regard to environmental matters is confusing. That has grown more so with today's news that the EPA, which was responsible for the recent mishap resulting in a large mine waste spill, has proposed new regulations aimed at cutting methane emissions by 40 to 45 percent (from 2012 levels) over the next ten years. The rules would apply to new or modified sources of oil and natural gas and require energy companies to find and fix leaks and take careful steps to limit emissions. And yet, experts seem to point out that this is not quite cause for celebration. Up in the Arctic, when Shell starts breaking up ice in its exploration for oil, more methane will be released into the atmosphere - enough, perhaps, to render the curbing of emissions from other manmade activities a moot point. Merritt Turetsky, a biology professor at the University of Guelph, Ontario, remarked, "Permafrost carbon feedback is one of the important and likely consequences of climate change, and it is certain to trigger additional warming. Even if we ceased all human emissions, ice would continue to thaw and release carbon into the atmosphere." Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said, "Granting Shell the permit to drill in the Arctic was the wrong decision, and the fight is far from over. The people will continue to call on President Obama to protect the Arctic and our environment." And the opposition to Shell's drilling is composed of more than just environmental activists. Hillary Clinton released a statement on the matter in the form of a tweet, saying, "The Arctic is a unique treasure. Given what we know, it's not worth the risk of drilling." Brune added, "She's exactly right. Everything we know about dangerous oil drilling in the Arctic indicates it imperils a national treasure and is guaranteed to make our climate crisis worse. Allowing Shell to use unproven technology in the Arctic is a recipe for disaster and toxic to any climate action legacy."
  3. The federal government is putting a lot of pressure on today’s automakers to produce fuel-saving vehicles. Modern innovations such as cylinder deactivation technology are now being used on a regular basis. Here are five reasons why we need more energy efficient vehicles. Reduce Pollution Environmental pollution is the top reason why fuel use needs to be minimized. Research shows that automobiles can certainly taint the air. In heavily populated metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles and New York, up to 90 percent of air pollution comes from vehicle emissions. Meanwhile, China’s thick smog can actually be seen from outer space. As a result of burning gasoline and diesel, the ozone layer has become depleted. Helps the Economy It is no secret that fuel can be a major expense. Keep in mind that the average driver travels more than 13,000 miles a year. If you commute on a daily basis, you understand the value of reducing fuel consumption. Cities also spend a lot of tax money on refueling public transport vehicles. By purchasing less fuel, governments will have more money to spend on other things. Less Dependence on Crude Oil The overwhelming majority of the crude oil reserves are located in the Middle East. This means that countries such as the United States must import oil. To reduce petroleum use, the U.S. government wants the average car to return at least 45 mpg. By using engine dynamometers, automakers can fine-tune a vehicle’s efficiency without compromising any performance. Companies like Power Test Inc. also design dynamometers to handle large engines. Trucking companies will be able to dramatically improve the fuel efficiency of their fleet. Prevent Climate Change Climate change is a subject that a lot of people tend to overlook. According to scientists, the amount of greenhouse gases released by vehicles has a direct influence on global climate change. Powerful hurricanes and tsunamis have been linked to the changing climate. The advancement of hybrid and electric vehicles can certainly help us to overcome this problem. Ability to Travel without Breaking the Bank A lot of Americans love to take road trips. However, the cost of fuel can put a major dent in a person’s budget. When more fuel-efficient vehicles start to hit the market, drivers will be able to travel more often. They can visit their family and friends for a far cheaper cost. Engineers are working hard to improve fuel efficiency. Hopefully, we will see big improvements in the near future.
  4. When the price of gas increases at the pump, there is a lot of speculation as to the reason. Over the years, people have heard several myths as to why prices rise and who is to blame. As a result, there are several misconceptions surrounding this essential commodity. The following is a list of the five most popular myths about the price of gas. Fighting in the Middle East always causes Higher Prices While turmoil in the Middle East seems to be a recurring news story, the fighting may have little impact on the price of gas. The fighting must affect investor sentiment about possible supply disruptions from major oil producers. If the conflict remains contained in a small non-oil producing area, trouble in the Middle East will have little effect on the price of gas. Tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve will Lower Prices The Strategic Petroleum Reserve contains approximately a 30-day supply of oil. This small amount is not enough to affect prices long-term. While releasing supply may dampen prices slightly, the added demand required to refill the strategic reserve will cause prices to rise, negating any earlier benefits. The Administration Controls the Price of Oil Whether the president of the United States is a Democrat or Republican, the administration does not control the price of gas. For years, one side of the aisle blamed President Bush and now the other side is singling out President Obama. While domestic energy policies can influence prices, market forces determine the price of gas long term. Oil Companies Produce Less in the spring to cause Prices to rise in the Summer Prices rise in the spring as inventories drop due to refiners switching from winter blends to summer blends as mandated by the EPA. Prices also rise during the summer driving season due to the increase in demand. The American Economy Requires Cheap Gas While inexpensive gas helps consumers save money, the American economy has continued to grow in the face of rising prices. Advanced economies in Europe and Asia have faced significantly higher gas prices than Americans. These economies have continued to grow and produce higher standards of living. Economic factors like current supply and demand as well as investor sentiment about future changes are the main driving force behind the price of gas. When supply and demand are tight and investors believe that the situation will continue, prices rise. When the opposite occurs, the price of gas will fall. Information Credit The information from this article is credited to Fusion Resource LLC.
  5. If there's one thing without which modern society would seize to exist, it's oil. (Well, living without Internet will also positively suck, but that's a whole different story right here.) Realistically speaking, for the time being, despite the billions of dollars that are being put into the development of green technologies, oil remains essential to the proper functioning of our lives. Oil supplies our factories and makes our means of transportation move, it helps trade, makes manufacturing and transportation of goods, including food and medicines, possible. All in all, we need oil to survive. But the huge demand for oil we've experienced since the Second Industrial Revolution comes at a great cost for the planet and respectively, for the entire human kind. Each year we drill about 14 trillion liters of oil. That alone has tremendous environmental consequences which are next to impossible to be countered because, hey, "Drill, baby, drill!". But there's another negative side of oil consumption, and it's the fact that during transportation a significant quantity of oil is spilled, thereby destroying entire ecosystems, polluting the habitat of all kinds of plant and animal species. And because oil is mostly transported across oceans, this is where most spills occur. The results are both immediate and long-term, so looking for ways to eliminate the spill and counter its effect is crucial for the preservation of Earth's oceans. But cleaning something so vast as an ocean is not an easy task. Luckily, technology has evolved and continues to rapidly do so to such an extent that we might already have a working solution to the issue – drones. We've seen drones being deployed in various places, efficiently handling all kinds of situations. Recently a startup in the Netherlands even introduced a project which aims to develop a fully functional house cleaning drone. So if the technology could be utilized for the needs of home cleaning, it's only natural for it to be used in the quest of preserving our oceans. Airborne Emergency Response to Oil SpillsHere's where AEROS (Airborne Emergency Response to Oil Spills) comes into play. Essentially, AEROS is an unmanned, robotic system which locates oils spills and deploys robots and inflatable booms at spill sites by an airplane. Once in the water, the booms inflate themselves and surround the spill. Then the unmanned robots start purging the water. The water-cleansing robots suck the contaminated water in and spin it inside. The swirl that forms leaves the oil at the center and then collects it in a special bladder, while it pushes the pure water outside. Each robot has an incredible capacity, filtrating over 7000 litres per minute. And the oil that is recovered, up to 90% of the spill, is later collected from the bladders and can be later sold as an additional stream of revenue. Just in comparison, the methods that is being used by far could only filtrate and recover about 5% of the oil. Protei ProjectThe Protei Project is another promising startup which aims to counter oil spills. The people behind this large-scale international project have developed a shape-shifting sailing robots which will patrol the oceans, clean up oil spills and collect plastic waste. The autonomous robots will essentially sail upwind, using the power of the wind, and pull a long boom-tail which will absorbs oil. What makes the Protei boat prototypes so innovative is their hulls which are flexible and are made to move left and right like a fish. That movement allows the drone boat to utilize the power of the wind to the fullest and never lose power, easily pulling the heavy boom tail. Large oil spills like the Deep Water Horizon in the Mexican Gulf don't happen too often, but when they do, the effects to the environment are catastrophic. And as I already mentioned, at that point in time it's impossible for oil companies to cease oil transportation, however, they can use technology to contain the spills and counter the negative impact of the spills. For now the technology is not market-ready, but with some backing it will be there we we most need it.
  6. Oil spills are major environmental disasters. They can endanger wildlife, destroy ecosystems and cause serious economic damage to communities affected by them. The future of plants, animals and human beings would certainly be better if all future oil spills could be prevented. End Humanity’s Dependence on Fossil Fuels Perhaps the simplest way to end oil spills is to gradually reduce the need for oil drilling. Some headway has been made in this direction—hybrid cars that are partially powered by electricity are now available from all major auto manufacturers. Ethanol, which is created from corn, is also gaining popularity as an alternative fuel source. Overall, there are many benefits to ending dependence on oil beyond preventing oil spills. Independence from non-renewable energy sources should certainly be a goal that human civilization aims to achieve in the foreseeable future. Hold Oil Companies Accountable In a free market system, there need to be incentives for businesses to act. Without financial incentive, negligence and pollution become commonplace. This is why holding oil companies financially accountable is absolutely necessary for spill prevention. If oil spills can irreparably harm their profits, companies in the industry will be sure to guarantee they do not happen. Financial punishments can either come from government fines or though the civil court system—either way, the financial punishments must be massive to match the massive profits of these oil companies. Monitor Oil Drilling Near At-Risk Ecosystems Another way to fight oil spills is to thoroughly monitor companies drilling for oil near ecosystems that are most at risk for being harmed by a spill. This, of course, requires action from the government. While it is unlikely that all unsafe oil drilling could be stopped this way, petitioning the government to have drilling activities monitored in areas where they could do the most harm is an excellent idea. Keeping Equipment in Good Shape One of the best ways to prevent accidents and disasters, in any industry, is to ensure all equipment is well-maintained and kept in optimal condition. This is also true for any storage containers used, especially the barrels and drums of the oil industry. A specialist from Powerblanket says barrel storage can be difficult for any material that isn’t extremely shelf-stable, meaning oil companies should take great care to prevent any possible damage as a result of inadequate storage. 4. Be More Vigilant Overall, oil spills happen due to negligence—they are not created on purpose (with a few historical exceptions). If those responsible for safe drilling would have been more vigilant in their efforts to prevent oil spills, most major spills on record may have been prevented. This should even be the case for regular citizens. While a minor spill originating from the tank of a fishing boat will not have as big of an effect as an industrial-sized spill, it can still pollute the environment. Oil spills can ruin an ecosystem for plants and animals for generations. We owe it to the environment to try to ensure that another major oil spill does not happen.
  7. The fires from Monday's derailment of a train carrying crude oil in Fayette County, West Virginia, continued to burn Tuesday morning, and emergency shelters for hundreds of people who had to evacuate after the derailment remain open. "A CSX train, hauling 107 tank car loads of Bakken Shale crude oil from North Dakota to a transportation terminal in Yorktown, Virginia, derailed in Adena Village near Mount Carbon and Deepwater West Virginia about 1:30 p.m. Monday," according to the Charleston Gazette and Staff writer Ken Ward Jr. At least one house was set ablaze and numerous tank cars either burned or exploded. West Virginia Rivers Executive Director Angela Rosser reported: "Witnesses saw a gigantic fireball raise to the snow-filled heavens. This is the second terrible trauma in as many years to his the Kanawha River valley. Last January a chemical spill from coal industry connected Freedom Industries storage tanks endangered the water of 300,000 people for weeks. It's time to ask you town or county or state -- what is on the rail cars travelling through our community??" Bakken crude has shown to be a volatile form of crude requiring highly flammable chemicals in its transport from North Dakota and other shale gas and oil fields. According to Lynn Cook in the Wall Street Journal, this risk is well known to oil and transport companies. "Data released by a lobbying group for oil refiners confirmed that crude from the Bakken shale in North Dakota is very volatile and contains high levels of combustible gases..." Now, who is surprised at this reaction from that group? "The crude," which has been linked to no less than four fiery rail accidents in a year, "is no more dangerous to ship than oil from other shale regions and is being correctly loaded and transported under existing federal rules. New rules aren't warranted," the group, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, said Wednesday. Federal Railroad Administration workers were only able to get within 50 yards of the derailed cars late Tuesday morning, according to the agency. Some of the rail cars were still on fire, and local emergency responders were still in charge of the scene. Flames also burned power lines in the area, knocking out electricity to about 900 customers in the midst of frigid sub-freezing temperatures. According Appalachian Power spokeswoman Jeri Matheney, reported in the Gazette, "electricity has not yet been restored because repair crews are having trouble accessing the extent of the damage. About 2,400 people were evacuated or displaced by the train derailment, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency." Investigators the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration are also already at the scene, and more staff are on the way. Because of the unknown quantities of spill from the exploded or burnt cars, or tank cars in the river, Officials in Montgomery, downriver from the accident, were told to shut down their water intake as a precaution. Reduced water intakes from the Kanawha river have forces water conservation restrictions. One person was treated for smoke inhalation, officials said, but, miraculously, no other injuries have been reported. Kelley Gillenwater, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said that the fires were keeping DEP officials from being able to fully examine the site of the derailment to determine what sort of containment and cleanup is going to be needed. Full details of water sampling being done by the state were not immediately available, but Gillenwater said that so far the results had come back "non-detect." Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency in Fayette and Kanawha counties after the derailment. Tomblin scheduled a news conference with federal and state officials at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Montgomery Fire Department. In April 2014, a train carrying crude oil on the same North Dakota-Virginia route derailed in Lynchburg, Virginia. In July 2013, a 74-car train carrying Bakken Shale crude oil derailed in Quebec, Canada, setting off fires and explosions that killed 47 people. On Saturday, at least seven rail cars carrying crude oil caught fire in Northern Ontario after a train traveling from Alberta to eastern Canada derailed, according to media reports. What's riding through your town ready to send you to hell?
  8. As the State of Pennsylvania continues to battle with various oil drilling companies regarding environmental violations, fracking sits at the top of list. Comparing the elemental damages to the amount of these proposed fines may mirror a lopsided playing field of sorts. Proponents of the fracking phenomena apparently see nothing wrong with polluting the groundwater contained in nearby streams via mishandled wastewater, thus killing off seemingly countless schools of fish, and rendering otherwise healthy water supplies undrinkable. Many of those who oppose these fracking methods may have stronger legal legs to stand on, as the practice itself has gained some notorious national attention. The fracking (aka fracturing) process is designed to extract fossil-based energy sources that lie deep beneath the earth’s surface. Drilling is one thing, yet injecting toxic chemicals into the core in order to hit pay-dirt is another. The increased risk of chemical leakage is now clear and present, as literally thousands of drinking water contamination complaints have been filed against subsidiary drilling companies that actually have legal permits to use the Marcellus Shale drilling site; one case in particular involves felony criminal charges that are still pending. Exxon Mobil Corporation District Judge James G. Carn ruled that each of the eight charges recently filed against the oil giant were all valid enough to warrant criminal proceedings. Two of these charges included violating the state’s Clean Streams Law and the Solid Waste Management Act. Exxon Mobil is chiefly being accused of wastewater tank tampering; the removal of a plug from one of their refuse receptacles resulted in 57,000 gallons of the liquid seeping into the soil and subsequently causing harm to local residents and the surrounding strata. Contesting these charges, Exxon Mobil representatives asserted that the spill had “…no lasting environmental impact.” Range Resources The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) fined the Texas-based gas and oil company $4.15 million for employing the same illegal practices used by Exxon Mobil, all of which took place between 2009 and 2014. Range Resources repeatedly violated a number of the state’s environmental protection laws, yet the mishandling of wastewater topped the list of many fracking infractions committed at the very same Marcellus Shale drilling site. Even though the imposed fine is the largest in Pennsylvania DEP history, the profits made from these extractions heavily outweigh the penalty amount, which may simply be the price of doing business for big oil. These two incidents are merely a drop in the bucket when it comes to the fracking boom and its latent functions. Exxon Mobil is the first company to face criminal charges, which may turn out to be a benchmark case to be used as precedent for future criminal fracking violations. Hopefully future companies can learn from their example, and the example of good green practicing companies like Great Canadian which does green roofing in Edmonton. The future will be brighter when businesses can raise the standard of their practices and incorporate more beneficial green works.
  9. On August 4, scientists from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium released their annual measurement from the Gulf of Mexico's dead zone - in part, the product of the infamous 2010 BP oil spill. The results were troubling. The area of oxygen deprivation in the sensitive ecosystem has been estimated at 5,008 square miles this year. Though the current exacerbation of the issue is due to nitrogen and phosphorous pollution - the product of fertilizer runoff and wastewater discharges from treatment plants - the dead zone's creation is largely owed to the spill that poisoned the Gulf four years ago, flooding it with 170 million gallons of oil. In particular, the Gulf's coral community is suffering, according to a new study by scientists at Penn State University in State College, Pa. Using 3D seismic data from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and identifying 488 habitats within a 25-mile radius of the original spill site, they found that coral life there shows extensive lingering damage from the spill, suggesting that the disaster's footprint is much more severe than initially thought. "This study very clearly shows that multiple coral communities, up to 13.7 miles from the spill site and at depths over 5,905 feet, were impacted by the spill," said Charles Fisher, co-author of the study and professor of biology at Penn State. "One of the keys to coral's usefulness as an indicator species is that the coral skeleton retains evidence of damage long after the oil that originally caused the damage is gone." Jane Lubchenco, an Oregon State University marine biologist and director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, remarked, "The BP oil spill could have been much worse, but the caution is that we still don't fully know the true extent of the damage. But there were likely acute impacts before the oil disappeared, and in fact, some of the oil that did come ashore continues to be suspended in the environment." Lead researcher of the Penn State study, Helen White, said most experts had previously linked coral damage to the oil spill, but added, "Now we can say it was definitely connected to the spill." The paper the scientists published elaborated, reading, "Coral colonies are vital oases for marine life in the chilly ocean depths. The injured and dying coral today has bare skeleton, loose tissue, and is covered in heavy mucus and brown fluffy material." And experts have spotted yet another piece of the spill's aftermath, which is its effect on insects, many of which play a vital role in maintaining the integrity of the ecosystem. Louisiana State University entomologist Linda Hooper-Bui said the real damage to bugs was likely done when Hurricane Isaac hit in 2012 and stirred up oil that had lain dormant on the ocean floor. This, said Hooper-Bui, affects the insects and spiders living in the marsh grasses nearby, some of which form the base of the area's food chain. Michael Blum, director of the Tulane/Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research, said, "During the spill, we were asking how long it would take to recover, and the prevailing notion was that we were looking at relatively short recovery times when focusing on coastal marsh and coastal ecosystems." Essentially, that it would "rebound in one to three years and in five years there'd be no indications of the spill. But four years on, there's still a pretty distinct signature of a response to the oil." Samantha Joye, a University of Georgia marine biologist, added that it could be a long time before scientists really have a handle on the ripple effect of the spill; the coral degradation, decline in insect population, and continuing growth of the dead zone are merely several aspects of the issue that have recently come to light. She said, "The long-term ecosystem impacts from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are only beginning to be realized. Some areas have recovered well, but others remain significantly impacted. And the problem with this is that the [effects] are so heterogenerously distributed that long-term, system-scale monitoring is required to truly quantify the impacts."
  10. I really hope that one day when a human sees an oil tank will decide not to burn it, I hope that will choose to leave it. Unfortunately a lot of people still want to burn oil and to use it, ignoring the environment. In these days one of the hot topics is Keystone pipeline which is, according to my opinion, useless, expensive and polluting.There's no need to tell why a pipeline is polluting. The endless spills talk for themselves. Useless for the creation of a better energy system built on clean energy. Useful for the generation of electricity but the price is too high. Talking about prices and numbers: - "A cost of $7 billion putting 20,000 US workers to work." says the CEO of TransCanada, the company that should build the pipeline. - Different studies confirmed that the pipeline would create only 2,000 temporary jobs. - President Obama stated "The most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline, which might take a year or two, and then after that we're talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 jobs in an economy of 150 million working people." One of the argument that supports Keystone is that the current way to transport oil (rails) is unsafe. True fact, although pipeline isn't so safer and I think that the best way to avoid these tragedies is not transport oil, not use it.
  11. No KXL; a Non-Environmental Point of View

    All over the world people are protesting against what I call the stupidest project of the moment: Keystone XL. We shouldn’t use oil so why should people just accept the damages this pipeline will bring? “The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere averaged more than 400 parts per million throughout April, the first time the planet’s monthly average has surpassed that threshold.” When I read this on Bloomberg I immediately thought to oil and then Keystone. It’s unbelievable the disrespect of some governments to the CO2 limits. While UN are shouting CO2 emissions must immediately stop some governments think to pipelines and coal plans. But apparently some people are bored in front of an environmental accusation so I will analyze this pipeline from a non-environmental point of view. First point: jobs. TransCanada (the company that should build the pipeline) CEO says the project will put 20,000 U.S. workers to work investing $7 billion in the economy. Although Cornell ILR Global Labor Institute found that Keystone XL construction would result in 2,500 to 4,650 temporary construction jobs. President Obama also stated "The most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline, which might take a year or two, and then after that we're talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 jobs in an economy of 150 million working people." We have to consider also the loss of jobs. After completion of the Keystone XL line, oil pipelines to the U.S. may run nearly half-empty, so there won’t be new jobs, just a swing from one line to the other. Second point: cost. Canadian government spent $9 million by May, 2012 and $16.5 million by May, 2013 to promote Keystone XL. To promote it. Not to build it. And I really think that’s all for this point. One more thing: the original Keystone Pipeline cost $5.2 billion but with the expansion slated to cost approximately $7 billion. Third point: local population. Many Native Americans and Indigenous Canadians are opposed to the Keystone XL project for various reasons, including possible damage to sacred sites, pollution, and water contamination, which could lead to health risks among their communities. Who has the authority to destroy the land of a people? Fourth point: any profit? No. In fact with Keystone gas prices won’t be cheaper. From a Cornell University study: KXL will divert Tar Sands oil now supplying Midwest refineries, so it can be sold at higher prices to the Gulf Coast and export markets. As a result, consumers in the Midwest could be paying 10 to 20 cents more per gallon for gasoline and diesel fuel. These additional costs (estimated to total $2–4 billion) will suppress other spending and will therefore cost jobs. If this isn’t enough please go to see the environmental consequences. You can find them everywhere. The last controversy is about the major safety than trains transporting oil. I will repeat again: the cleverest thing to do is stop using oil. I’m sure that one day we’ll stop fighting on how to transport oil and dedicate our energy to new greener sources.
  12. Venezuela has the world’s cheapest gasoline prices – where a refueling of your car cost you as little as 5 cents for nearly 4 liters. But now the Venezuelan government might raise them for the first time in 16 years. The extra revenue generated would help finance social projects and help encourage the use of more fuel-efficient vehicles. The Venezuelan government calculates that the country’s gasoline subsidies cost up to $12.5 billion every year and has called for a national debate to discuss the future of these subsidies. “There have to be big debates in Venezuela about the price of gasoline,” Vice President Jorge Arreaza told Venevision earlier this month. “We will open this up for discussion with the whole country, including organisations and private companies.” And last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he is in favor of raising the country’s gas prices. Maduro said that the revenue gained from increasing the gas prices could help fund various social projects and build homes and schools. “As an oil nation, Venezuelans should have a special price advantage for hydrocarbons compared to the international market,” Maduro said. “But it has to be an advantage, not a disadvantage. What converts it into a disadvantage is when the tip you give is more than what it cost to fill the tank.” Nicolas Maduro, a former bus driver and now President of Venezuela. The obvious negative environmental effects from the low gas prices also worries. The government hopes that by reducing the gasoline subsidies more Venezuelans will open up their eyes for cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles. This is not the first time increased gas prices is on the topic in Venezuela. In 2007, former President Hugo Chavez called the low price of gasoline “obscene” and ordered a study into the possibility of raising prices. But no increase was ever implemented. It’s clear that increased gas prices is a sensitive subject in Venezuela – especially considering its past. Large protests and riots, which resulted in an estimated 300 deaths, shocked Caracas in 1989 when President Carlos Andres Perez raised gas prices as part of an austerity package pushed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Despite the country’s haunting past, several lawmakers, ministers and congressmen, including Adel El Zabayar from the socialist party (PSUV), has voiced their support for the proposal to raise gas prices. “Raising the price of gasoline is an undisputed necessity,” Zabayar has said. The country’s Minister of Energy and Petroleum, Rafael Ramirez, has said that “it’s absurd what is being paid” at the pump. Although a bit more tacit, the head Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce, Jorge Roig, has given the support to a debate regarding the countries gasoline subsidies. “It would be interesting to know what would be done with the new price of gasoline,” Roig has stated. Commuters who use the country's public transportation system should be safe from any potential price hikes. Transport minister Haiman El Troudi has promised that public transportation will be exempt from any gasoline price increases.
  13. At the time of the Arab oil export embargo in the 1970s, the importing countries were beginning to ask themselves if there were alternatives to oil. In a number of countries, particularly the United States, several in Europe, and Brazil, the idea of growing crops to produce fuel for cars was appealing. The modern biofuels industry was launched. This was the beginning of what would become one of the great tragedies of history. Brazil was able to create a thriving fuel ethanol program based on sugarcane, a tropical plant. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, however, in the United States the feedstock was corn. Between 1980 and 2005, the amount of grain used to produce fuel ethanol in the United States gradually expanded from 1 million to 41 million tons. Then came Hurricane Katrina, which disrupted Gulf-based oil refineries and gasoline supply lines in late August 2005. As gasoline prices in the United States quickly climbed to $3 a gallon, the conversion of a $2 bushel of corn, which can be distilled into 2.8 gallons of ethanol, became highly profitable. The result was a rush to raise capital and build distilleries. From November 2005 through June 2006, ground was broken for a new ethanol plant in the United States every nine days. From July through September, the construction pace accelerated to one every five days. And in October 2006, it was one every three days. Between 2005 and 2011, the grain used to produce fuel for cars climbed from 41 million to 127 million tons - nearly a third of the U.S. grain harvest. (See Figure 4-1.) The United States is trying to replace oil fields with corn fields to meet part of its automotive fuel needs. The massive diversion of grain to fuel cars has helped drive up food prices, leaving low-income consumers everywhere to suffer some of the most severe food price inflation in history. As of mid-2012, world wheat, corn, and soybean prices were roughly double their historical levels. The appetite for grain to fuel cars is seemingly insatiable. The grain required to fill a 25-gallon fuel tank of a sport utility vehicle with ethanol just once would feed one person for a whole year. The grain turned into ethanol in the United States in 2011 could have fed, at average world consumption levels, some 400 million people. But even if the entire U.S. grain harvest were turned into ethanol, it would only satisfy 18 percent of current gasoline demand. With its enormous growth in distilling capacity, the United States quickly overtook Brazil to become the new world leader in biofuels. In 2011, the United States produced 14 billion gallons of ethanol and Brazil produced under 6 billion gallons; together they accounted for 87 percent of world output. The 14 billion gallons of U.S. grain-based ethanol met roughly 6 percent of U.S. gasoline demand. Other countries producing ethanol from food crops, though in relatively small amounts, include China, Canada, France, and Germany. Most ethanol production growth has been concentrated in the last several years. In 1980, the world produced scarcely 1 billion gallons of fuel ethanol. By 2000, the figure was 4.5 billion gallons. It was still increasing, albeit slowly, expanding to 8.2 billion gallons in 2005. But between then and 2011, production jumped to 23 billion gallons. A number of countries, including the United States, are also producing biodiesel from oil-bearing crops. World biodiesel production grew from a mere 3 million gallons in 1991 to just under 1 billion gallons in 2005. During the next six years it jumped to nearly 6 billion gallons, increasing sixfold. Still, worldwide production of biodiesel is less than one fourth that of ethanol. The production of biodiesel is much more evenly distributed among countries than that of ethanol. The top five producers are the United States, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, and France, with production ranging from 840 million gallons per year in the United States to 420 million gallons in France. A variety of crops can be used to produce biodiesel. In Europe, where sunflower seed oil, palm oil, and rapeseed oil are leading table oils, rapeseed is used most often for biodiesel. Similarly, in the United States the soybean is the leading table oil and biodiesel feedstock. Elsewhere, palm oil is widely used both for food and to produce biodiesel. Although production from oil palms is limited to tropical and subtropical regions, the crop yields much more biodiesel per acre than do temperate-zone oilseeds such as soybeans and rapeseed. However, one disturbing consequence of rising biofuel production is that new oil palm plantations are coming at the expense of tropical forests. And any land that is devoted to producing biofuel crops is not available to produce food. Not only are biofuels helping raise food prices, and thus increasing the number of hungry people, most make little sense from an energy efficiency perspective. Although ethanol can be produced from any plant, it is much more efficient and much less costly to use sugar- and starch-bearing crops. But even among these crops the efficiency varies widely. The ethanol yield per acre from sugarcane is nearly 600 gallons, a third higher than that from corn. This is partly because sugarcane is grown in tropical and subtropical regions and it grows year-round. Corn, in contrast, has a growing season of 120 days or so. In terms of energy efficiency, grain-based ethanol is a clear loser. For sugarcane, the energy yield - that is, the energy embodied in the ethanol - can be up to eight times the energy invested in producing the biofuel. In contrast, the energy return on energy invested in producing corn-based ethanol is only roughly 1.5 to 1, a dismal return. For biodiesel, oil palm is far and away the most energy-efficient crop, yielding roughly nine times as much energy as is invested in producing biodiesel from it. The energy return for biodiesel produced from soybeans and rapeseed is about 2.5 to 1. In terms of land productivity, an acre of oil palms can produce over 500 gallons of fuel per year - more than six times that produced from soybeans or rapeseed. Growing even the most productive fuel crops, however, still means either diverting land from other crops or clearing more land. The capacity to convert enormous volumes of grain into fuel means that the price of grain is now more closely tied to the price of oil than ever before. If the price of fuel from grain drops below that from oil, then investment in converting grain into fuel will increase. Thus, if the price of oil were to reach, say, $200 a barrel, there would likely be an enormous additional investment in ethanol distilleries to convert grain into fuel. If the price of corn rises high enough, however, as it may well do, distilling grain to produce fuel may no longer be profitable. One of the consequences of integrating the world food and fuel economies is that the owners of the world's 1 billion motor vehicles are pitted against the world's poorest people in competition for grain. The winner of this competition will depend heavily on income levels. Whereas the average motorist has an annual income over $30,000, the incomes of the 2 billion poorest people in the world are well under $2,000. Rising food prices can quickly translate into social unrest. As grain prices were doubling from 2007 to mid-2008, food protests and riots broke out in many countries. Economic stresses in the form of rising food prices are translating into political stresses, putting governments in some countries under unmanageable pressures. The U.S. State Department reports food unrest in some 60 countries between 2007 and 2009. Among these were Afghanistan, Yemen, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Haiti. International food assistance programs are also hit hard by rising grain prices. Since the budgets of food aid agencies are set well in advance, a rise in prices shrinks food assistance precisely when more help is needed. The U.N. World Food Programme, which supplies emergency food aid to more than 60 countries, has to cut shipments as prices soar. Meanwhile, over 7,000 children are dying each day from hunger and related illnesses. When governments subsidize food-based biofuel production, they are in effect spending taxpayers' money to raise costs at the supermarket checkout counter. In the United States, the production of fuel ethanol was encouraged by a tax credit granted to fuel blenders for each gallon of ethanol they blended with gasoline. This tax credit expired at the end of 2011. Still in place, however, is the Renewable Fuel Standard, which is seen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of a strategy to "help recharge the rural American economy." This mandate requires that biofuel use ramp up to 36 billion gallons annually by 2022. Of this total, 16 billion gallons are slated to come from cellulosic feedstocks, such as cornstalks, grass, or wood chips. Yet for the foreseeable future, production of those cellulose-based fuels has little chance of reaching such levels. Producing ethanol from sugars or starches like corn or sugarcane is a one-step process that converts the feedstock to ethanol. But producing ethanol from cellulosic materials is a two-step process: first the material must be broken down into sugar or starch, and then it is converted into ethanol. Furthermore, cellulosic feedstocks like corn stalks are much bulkier than feedstocks like corn kernels, so transporting them from distant fields to a distillery is much more costly. Removing agricultural residues such as corn stalks or wheat straw from the field to produce ethanol deprives the soil of needed organic matter. The unfortunate reality is that the road to this ambitious cellulosic biofuel goal is littered with bankrupt firms that tried and failed to develop a process that would produce an economically viable fuel. Despite having the advantage of not being directly part of the food supply, cellulosic ethanol has strong intrinsic characteristics that put it at a basic disadvantage compared with grain ethanol, so it may never become economically viable. The mandate from the European Union (EU) requiring that 10 percent of its transportation energy come from renewable sources, principally biofuels, by 2020 is similarly ambitious. Among international agribusiness firms, this is seen as a reason to acquire land, mostly in Africa, on which to produce fuel for export to Europe. Since Europe relies primarily on diesel fuel for its cars, the investors are looking at crops such as the oil palm and jatropha, a relatively low-yielding oil-bearing shrub, as a source of diesel fuel. There is growing opposition to this EU goal from environmental groups, the European Environment Agency, and many other stakeholders. They object to the deforestation and the displacement of the poor that often results from such "land grabbing." (See Chapter 10.) They are also concerned that, by and large, biofuels do not deliver the promised climate benefits. The biofuel industry and its proponents have argued that greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels are lower than those from gasoline, but this has been challenged by a number of scientific studies. Indeed, there is growing evidence that biofuel production may contribute to global warming rather than ameliorate it. A study led by Nobel prize-winning chemist Paul Crutzen at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany reports that the nitrogen fertilizers used to produce biofuel crops release "nitrous oxide emissions large enough to cause climate warming instead of cooling." A report from Rice University that carefully examined the greenhouse gas emissions question concluded that "it is uncertain whether existing biofuels production provides any beneficial improvement over traditional gasoline, after taking into account land use changes and emissions of nitrous oxide. Legislation giving biofuels preferences on the basis of greenhouse gas benefits should be avoided." The U.S. National Academy of Sciences also voiced concern about biofuel production's negative effects on soils, water, and the climate. There is some good news on the issue of food or fuel. An April 2012 industry report notes that "the world ethanol engine continues to sputter." U.S. ethanol production likely peaked in 2011 and is projected to drop 2 percent in 2012. An even greater decline in U.S. ethanol production is likely in 2013 as oil prices weaken and as heat and drought in the U.S. Midwest drive corn prices upward. For many distillers, the profit margin disappeared in 2012. In early July 2012, Valero Energy Corporation, an oil company and major ethanol producer, reported it was idling the second of its 10 ethanol distilleries. Numerous other distilleries are on the verge of shutting down. If the ethanol mandate were phased out, U.S. distillers would have even less confidence in the future marketability of ethanol. In a world of widely fluctuating oil and grain prices, ethanol production would not always be profitable. Beyond this, the use of automotive fuel in the United States, which peaked in 2007, fell 11 percent by 2012. Young people living in cities are simply not as car-oriented as their parents were. They are not part of the car culture. This helps explain why the size of the U.S. motor vehicle fleet, after climbing for a century, peaked at 250 million in 2008. It now appears that the fleet size will continue to shrink through this decade. In addition, the introduction of more stringent U.S. auto fuel-efficiency standards means that gasoline use by new cars sold in 2025 will be half that of new cars sold in 2010. As older, less efficient cars are retired and fuel use declines, the demand for grain-based ethanol for blending will also decline. Within the automobile sector, a major move to plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars will further reduce the use of gasoline. If this shift is accompanied by investment in thousands of wind farms to feed cheap electricity into the grid, then cars could run largely on electricity for the equivalent cost of 80¢ per gallon of gasoline. There is also a growing public preference for walking, biking, and using public transportation wherever possible. This reduces not only the demand for cars and gasoline but also the paving of land for roads and parking lots. Whether viewed from an environmental or an economic vantage point, we would all benefit by shifting from liquid fuels to electrically driven vehicles. Using electricity from wind farms, solar cells, or geothermal power plants to power cars will dramatically reduce carbon emissions. We now have both the electricity-generating technologies and the automotive technologies to create a clean, carbon-free transportation system, one that does not rely on either the use of oil or the conversion of food crops into fuel. By Lester R. Brown. From Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity by Lester R. Brown (New York: W.W. Norton & Co.). Supporting data, video, and slideshows are available for free download at www.earth-policy.org/books/fpep.