Green bills await governor's pen

Read the full story in the Sacramento Bee [need a login & password?].

Emboldened by the success of California’s anti-global warming initiative, environmentalists are now eyeing other green bills that they believe can help save the planet.

More than 20 high-priority bills are on their way to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk, including one on flex-fuel cars and another that would mandate cleaner power plants. There are less publicized bills such as one that would require most grocery stores to offer plastic bag recycling, and another that would reduce the amount of water used in every toilet flush.

However stringent or unusual, each will test the Republican governor’s environmental resolve, advocates say.

New Book Cites Inevitability of Solar Energy

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As the energy crisis escalates — and the price of gas and electricity with it — a new book just released from MIT Press predicts that in the next two decades, solar will become the cheapest energy source for most applications, and will be widely adopted by consumers in both the developed and developing worlds.

How Green Is Your Campus?

Some experts are calling today’s college students “the Greenest Generation” yet. From the West Coast to the East and everywhere in between, U.S. colleges and universities are taking steps to make their campuses more sustainable. Lane Community College in Oregon, for example, has composters in its kitchens and holds clothing exchanges to reduce waste. Ball State in Indiana has received an award for its efforts to reduce mercury use on campus. And Yale University’s switch to a cleaner fuel oil has cut associated sulfur emissions by 95 percent. Other successes include schools that equip their vending machines with motion detectors so the dispensers can power down when no one is nearby, hold competitions to determine the dorm that can use the least energy, and incorporate hybrid shuttle buses.

Read about these and other innovative programs across the United States. If your school isn’t featured, write your own article and tell us what environmentally friendly activities are happening on your campus so we can add it to the list.

Submissions should be approximately 200–500 words and sent to aherro [AT] worldwatch [DOT] org by October 1, 2006.

2006 Inspiring Efficiency Award Winners announced

Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance announces award winners of its 2006 Inspiring Efficiency Awards. Read more about the winners.

Inspiring Efficiency LEADERSHIP Award—Diane Munns, Commissioner, Iowa Utilities Board for making energy efficiency a top priority during her Presidency of the National Association of Regulatory Commissioners and for her leadership role in the Midwest Natural Gas Initiative and as co-chair of EPA’s National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency.

Inspiring Efficiency LEADERSHIP Award—Robert L. Cowles, Wisconsin State Senator representing the second Senate district, for his 24 years of public service and dedication to energy efficiency culminating in the 2006 landmark legislation that solidifies Wisconsin’s investment in a balanced energy portfolio for the future.

Inspiring Efficiency EDUCATION Award— Missouri Botanical Garden, EarthWays Center and its Missouri Schools Going Solar education program for providing K-12 students with hands-on experience with photovoltaic (PV) technology and energy education that extends beyond the classroom to the community.

Inspiring Efficiency INNOVATION Award—District Energy St. Paul for their innovative combined heat and power (CHP), which turns wood waste into green energy for their downtown customer base including Minnesota’s State Capitol Complex.

Inspiring Efficiency INNOVATION Award
—Cleveland Green Building Coalition’s Emerging Green Designers Symposium for connecting young architects and design professionals with local home builders and developers.

Inspiring Efficiency IMPACT Award
—Alliant Energy-Wisconsin Power and Light Co. for their Shared Savings program, helping to finance and carry out energy efficient projects. Cumulative energy savings from the program have deferred the building of one 250 megawatt power plant.

Inspiring Efficiency MARKETING Award—MidAmerican Energy for the Mr. Green/Save some green® campaign, demystifying energy efficiency and providing Iowa consumers with low-cost and no- cost energy solutions for their homes.

Inspiring Efficiency CHAIRMAN Award—Mary O’Toole for her years of service as Chair of MEEA and her role in raising the dialog on energy efficiency to new levels, fostering collaboration among organizations with diverse interests, and supporting significant energy efficiency gains in the Midwest.

Resurrecting the Dead Zone

Read the full story in Environmental Protection magazine.

Writing in the September issue of EP, Erica Pincus discusses the causes of the “Dead Zone” in the Gulf of Mexico, effects on aquatic organisms, impact on the Gulf region’s economy and what can be done to solve the problem.

Study: Greenhouse Gas Being Released From Deep Freeze; Effects Could Be Huge, Researchers Say

Read the full story in Environmental Protection magazine.

A study published in the Sept. 7 issue of the journal Nature has found that as the permafrost melts in North Siberia due to climate change, carbon sequestered and buried there since the Pleistocene era is bubbling up to the surface of Siberian thaw lakes and into the atmosphere as methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

The bubbling methane held captive as carbon under the permafrost for more than 40,000 years is accelerating global warming by heating the Earth even more — exacerbating the entire cycle — and may trigger what researchers warn is a climate time bomb.

The ominous implications of the process grow as the permafrost decomposes further and the resulting lakes continue to expand, according to Florida State University (FSU) oceanography Professor Jeff Chanton and study co-authors at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

Bush Administration Proposes Renewable Fuels Program

Read the full story in Environmental Protection magazine.

On Sept. 7, the Bush administration proposed a Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) Program designed to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil by doubling the use of renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. The program, authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, will promote use of fuels largely produced by American crops.

Target Field Trip Grants

Read the full solicitation.

As part of the Target commitment supporting education, the innovative new Target Field Trip Grants program will award up to 800 educators grants of $1,000 each to fund a field trip for their students. From art museums and environmental projects to cultural events and civic experiences, Target Field Trip Grants could take you and your students on the ultimate field trip.

Applications must be submitted electronically between September 1, 2006 and November 1, 2006. Only one submission per applicant will be accepted. Check back in February to see the list of Target Field Trip Grant recipients.

EPA Proposes Steps to Improve New Source Review

The Bush Administration is proposing improvements to three specific areas of its New Source Review (NSR) permitting program. These improvements will simplify the process facility owners and operators must follow in determining whether plans to modify their facility would trigger NSR requirements.

The Bush Administration’s NSR improvements would accelerate investments in cleaner energy-saving technologies. Existing permit limits on emissions would not be affected, and the proposed changes would encourage investments in refining capacity, improve industries’ efficiency and reduce demand for natural gas. The improvements would also lower energy costs to households and consumers.

Today’s proposal includes the final set of proposals from EPA’s 2002 recommendations to the president on how to clarify the NSR program to improve investment in utility and refinery capacity. These proposals are also a part of the president’s clean air initiatives, which are designed to bring cleaner air to Americans: the Clean Air Diesel rule will dramatically cut pollution by more than 90 percent from heavy-duty diesel engines used in construction, agricultural, and industrial equipment and the Clean Air Interstate Rule will require coal-burning power plants to make the steepest emissions cuts in over a decade. Together with other Clean Air Act programs, these landmark rules will improve air quality so nearly all areas of the country will meet air quality standards.

Today’s proposal addresses the following three components:

1.  Debottlenecking: EPA is proposing to change how NSR applies when an owner or operator modifies one portion of a facility in such a manner that production or throughput in other unchanged portions of the facility increases, thereby increasing overall efficiency of the facility. This type of modification is known as a “debottlenecking” project. Under the proposal, unchanged portions of the facility would not be subject to NSR if emissions from those portions have already been taken into account in a prior permit or regulatory action.

2.  Aggregation: EPA is proposing to clarify how NSR applies when multiple projects are implemented at a facility. EPA is proposing that projects that are related should be treated as a single project (e.g. aggregated) if one of them is dependent on another. The rule provides additional information about how EPA makes this determination.

3.  Project Netting: EPA is proposing to simplify the step in the calculation used to determine whether NSR applies when emissions increases and decreases are added together (called “netting”).

Both aggregation and debottlenecking have been implemented through EPA guidance on a case by case basis in the past. The proposal would provide certainty to both the regulated community and the permitting authorities.

EPA will accept comment on this rule for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

More information about the proposed improvements to the NSR program: