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Putin Visits Gray Whale Study Site

MOSCOW, Aug. 25 (UPI) — Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin joined scientists studying endangered gray whales during a visit Wednesday to Kamchatka Island.

The scientists are trying to determine whether the whales that feed in Olga Bay in the Kronotsky Biosphere Reserve are a remnant of a Korean population of gray whales almost wiped out by whaling in the 19th century or are California gray whales, ITAR-Tass reported. California gray whales breed off southern California and northern Mexico, migrating to arctic waters in the summer.

Putin made four attempts to use a crossbow designed to get a skin sample for DNA testing. He said he finally hit a whale the fourth time.

“I had the sporting feeling,” he said. “I missed the target thrice, but hit it the fourth time.”

The president described the area as “extreme” but beautiful. He said the government should begin encouraging ecotourism by expanding transportation to the Pacific coast of Russia.

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Posted in Ecotourism, Other, Transportation0 Comments

U.S. Energy 'appetite' Trimmed in 2009

LIVERMORE, Calif., Aug. 24 (UPI) — Americans are using less energy overall and availing themselves of more renewable energy sources, a report says.

Data released by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory showed the United States used significantly less coal and petroleum in 2009 than in 2008 while utilizing considerably more wind power.

And while there was a decline in natural gas consumption, solar, hydro and geothermal power use was up, the laboratory said.

“Energy use tends to follow the level of economic activity, and that level declined last year,” A.J. Simon, an LLNL energy systems analyst, said.

“At the same time, higher efficiency appliances and vehicles reduced energy use even further,” he said. “As a result, people and businesses are using less energy in general.”

Wind power increased dramatically in 2009, and since most of that energy is tied directly to electricity generation it helps decrease the use of coal for electricity production, he said.

“The increase in renewables is a really good story, especially in the wind arena,” Simon said. “It’s a result of very good incentives and technological advancements.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Coal, Consumption, Electricity, Geothermal, Natural Gas, Other, Solar, Wind0 Comments

Scientist: Wind, Solar Energy is Future

BOSTON, Aug. 24 (UPI) — A Nobel Prize-winning U.S. scientist says the world could soon enter an era where renewable wind and solar power will be the globe’s main sources of energy.

Walter Kohn, who shared the 1998 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, told a meeting of the American Chemical Society that total oil and natural gas production, which today provides about 60 percent of global energy consumption, is expected to peak about 10 to 30 years from now, followed by a rapid decline, an ACS release said Tuesday.

But ongoing research and development of alternative energy could lead to a new era in human history in which two renewable sources — solar and wind — will become Earth’s dominant contributors of energy, Kohn said.

Global photovoltaic energy production increased by a factor of about 90 and wind energy by a factor of about 10 over the last 10 years, Kohn said, and he expects vigorous growth of these two effectively inexhaustible energies to continue.

Kohn, from the University of California, Santa Barbara, cited students on his campus who spent their own funds to convert an athletic building to total solar power.

“When it comes to providing leadership by young people in the area of energy conservation and energy efficiency and global warming — they are fantastic,” he said. “It is a major social commitment for our times.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Consumption, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Natural Gas, Other, Solar, Wind0 Comments

Energy Stored in Giant Buried Air Bags

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Aug. 20 (UPI) — Researchers in Denmark say a project to store wind energy in giant synthetic air bags buried under sand dunes has been successful.

A test in Southern Jutland showed 97 percent efficiency in storing wind energy, the Copenhagen Post reported Friday.

Wind powered compressors inflate the bags, and the compressed air is later released to generate power using the same kind of pump and turbine system used for energy storage in lakes, the newspaper said.

Researchers said the most difficult challenge of the storage is making certain that the massive air bags can handle repeated inflation and deflation.

“But the synthetic membrane has proved to be unproblematic,” Ole Hededal, a lecturer at the Technical University of Denmark, said. “In our tests the bags only stretched 0.5 percent, and they’re made to tolerate tension of up to 14 percent.”

For the final phase of testing, a 150-foot by 150-foot air bag will be used, a storage unit that can hold up to 34 kilowatts of wind energy, the Post reported.

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Posted in Other, Wind0 Comments

U.S. Chemical Company Settles DOJ Suit

WASHINGTON, Aug. 6 (UPI) — The U.S. Justice Department has announced fines and penalties in a case concluded under the National Enforcement Initiative for Mining and Mineral Processing.

The department and the Environmental Protection Agency say CF Industries Inc. has agreed to spend about $12 million to reduce and properly manage hazardous wastes generated at its Plant City, Fla., phosphoric acid and ammoniated fertilizer manufacturing facility, an EPA release said Friday.

This is the first case concluded under EPA’s Mining and Mineral Processing enforcement initiative, the agency said.

“Mismanagement of hazardous waste from mining and mineral processing is a serious matter,” assistant Attorney General Ignacia S. Moreno said. “The companies targeted in the National Enforcement Initiative for Mining and Mineral Processing cannot proceed with business as usual.”

Between December 2004 and January 2005, inspectors from the EPA and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection discovered CF Industries was treating, storing and disposing of hazardous wastes at the Florida facility without a permit and failing to meet land disposal restrictions.

The settlement resolves the company’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act violations and requires the company to pay a civil penalty of more than $700,000, the EPA said.

CF Industries also has agreed to guarantee $163.5 million to fund all closure and long-term care obligations after the facility’s useful life ends.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Conservation, Hazardous Waste, Justice, Other0 Comments

Canada Looks to Utilize Wind Energy

FREDERICTON, New Brunswick, Aug. 6 (UPI) — Energy companies in Canada’s Maritime Provinces say they are studying ways for their customers to help them utilize wind energy more efficiently.

Wind power is environmentally friendly but unpredictable compared to carbon-fueled sources of electricity, which are always available as needed, Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News reported Friday.

A $32 million Power Shift Atlantic project hopes to recruit consumers to help solve the problem by developing ways to use wind-generated power whenever it is available.

“So what we’re looking at is being able to manipulate customer usage, whether it be refrigeration, or air conditioning or process-related,” said John Gaudet of Prince Edward Island’s Maritime Electric.

“So like if the wind blows in the middle of the night, potentially processes could be operated in the middle of the night,”, he said.

Power Shift Atlantic wants 2,000 commercial and residential customers to take part in the pilot project.

Researchers at the University of New Brunswick are studying wind patterns in the region to determine peak wind-generation times, so customers will be able to plan their power usage.

The project is also looking at systems that will provide power with minimum inconvenience to the customer.

“Can we control customer apparatus at these times so we can turn them on, use that electricity, and turn them off when the wind isn’t blowing, all without the need to consult or inform or contact the customer?” Gaudet said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Electricity, Other, Wind0 Comments

EPA Publishes Toxic Release Figures

WASHINGTON, July 28 (UPI) — The U.S. Environment Protection agency has released its report on industrial releases and transfers of toxic materials in 2009, officials said.

As part of the Obama administration’s continuing commitment to open government, the latest data on industrial releases and transfers of toxic chemicals in the United States between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2009, has been made available within weeks of the reporting deadline, the agency said in a release Wednesday.

“It is vital that every community has access to information that impacts their health and environment,” EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said. “The data we’re releasing provides critical insights about pollution and polluters in the places where people live, work, play and learn. Making that knowledge available is the first step in empowering communities to protect the environment in their areas.”

Examples of industries that report to the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory include manufacturing, metal mining, electric utilities and commercial hazardous waste treatment facilities among others.

Facilities must report their data by July 1 of each year, the EPA said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Chemicals, Hazardous Waste, Other0 Comments

Floating Ocean Wind Turbines Proposed

COLLEGE PARK, Md., June 30 (UPI) — Wind turbines as a renewable energy source have problems of noise, visual clutter and land use, and one U.S. researcher says moving them offshore is a solution.

Offshore wind farms have been built, but only in shallow water near coasts, and one naval architect wants to go much farther out by placing turbines on floating platforms, a release from the American Institute of Physics said Wednesday.

Dominique Roddier of Marine Innovation & Technology of Berkeley, Calif., has proposed a platform design dubbed “WindFloat” based on existing gas and oil platform designs.

Roddier and his and colleagues published a feasibility study of the design in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, published by the AIP.

Testing of a small scale model in a wave tank showed the platform is stable enough to support a 5-megawatt wind turbine producing enough energy “to support a small town,” Roddier said.

A full-size prototype being built in collaboration with electricity company Energia de Portugal “should be in the water by the end of 2012,” Roddier says.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Electricity, Other, Wind0 Comments

Lake Michigan Climate Change Studied

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., June 15 (UPI) — A robotic submarine is being deployed in Lake Michigan, along with other specialized tools, to determine how young fish might cope with future climate change.

Purdue University scientists say they are correlating larval fish growth with various factors, including water temperatures near the lakeshore, where wind patterns might be altered by climate change and threaten fish populations.

“These larval fish are very vulnerable because they are not fully developed and cannot swim well, so they are really at the mercy of their environment,” said Assistant Professor Tomas Hook, who is leading the research. “Growth rates during the larval stage in part determine how well young fish survive to become adults. Rapid growth allows young fish to swim faster and, thereby, avoid predators, consume more food, and actively select warmer, more favorable waters. Otherwise, they can quickly starve to death.”

Previous studies suggest climate change might alter wind patterns on the Great Lakes and scientists say lake winds are important because they cause “upwelling events” that ferry cold water and nutrients from lower depths up to the near-shore zone.

“As a result of these upwellings, the fish in that zone see a temperature change of about 5 degrees to 10 degrees Celsius, which has a huge impact on metabolic rates,” Hook said.

The study, funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will detail the distribution, growth and survival of young fish.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Fish, Other, Wind0 Comments

Community Effort Lowers Stroke Rate

QUEBEC CITY, June 10 (UPI) — Community-based programs to lower blood pressure successfully reduced cardiovascular disease in Canada, researchers say.

The community-based Cardiovascular Health Awareness Program significantly reduced both heart disease and stroke in seniors, the study found.

Researchers randomly selected 39 mid-size communities and stratified them by location and population size. Twenty communities received CHAP and the other 19 communities served as controls.

In the CHAP communities, doctors asked patients to meet at pharmacies with volunteers to check blood pressure, review the warning signs of stroke and heart attack, look at risk factors and promote blood pressure control and healthy living.

More than 15,000 residents and 500 peer volunteers took part in the program.

“Volunteer-led risk assessments combined with health information and linkages to primary care providers and community resources led to an impressive 9 percent reduction in their rates of hospitalization for stroke, heart attack, and congestive heart failure,” Dr. Janusz Kaczorowski of the University of British Columbia and the Child and Family Research Institute said in a statement.

The study was presented by Kaczorowski at the Canadian Stroke Congress in Quebec City.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Healthy Living, Other0 Comments

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