EPA Proposes Tougher Fuel Efficiency Standards for Trucks and Vans


Last month, the Obama administration proposed new legislation that would impose new, tough standards on trucks and vans. The standards would help to improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution. While trucks and vans comprise only 5% of the vehicles on the road, they account for about 20% of the of greenhouse gas emissions and oil use in the U.S. transportation center.

The new rules are designed to slash carbon emissions by 24% by 2027, while also reducing oil consumption by up to 1.8 billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the rule.

To learn more, Click here.


Sunscreen Hall of Shame


At the peak of the summer, we should all be reaching for sunscreen.

Here is your guide for which to avoid.

-Spray sunscreens can be inhaled, and they don’t cover skin completely.

-SPF values above 50+ try to trick you into believing they’ll prevent sun damage. Don’t trust them. SPF protection tops out at 30 to 50.

-Oxybenzone can disrupt the hormone system.

-Retinyl palmitate may trigger damage, possibly cancer.

To see the worst products, click here.


In Wyoming it’s now illegal to collect data about pollution


by WILL POTTER on JUNE 8, 2015

water-sampleA new Wyoming law expands on the “ag-gag” trend of criminalizing whistleblowers in a new way: making it illegal for citizens to gather data about environmental pollution.

Wyoming’s Senate Bill 12, or the “Data Trespassing Bill” as it’s being called, criminalizes the collection of “resource data.”

Read more.


U.S. Oil & Gas from Shale Shows a Retreat in Drilling, Fracking, and Production


by S. Tom Bond on June 23, 2015

See also:

Shale production retreats as oil & gas prices do not support the high cost of production

Commentary by S. Tom Bond, Retired Chemistry Professor & Resident Farmer, Lewis County, WV

There were two impressive article in Bloomberg recently. One titled “Speculators Retreat From Oil as OPEC Oversupply Crowds Out Shale” and a second called “The Shale Industry Could Be Swallowed By Its Own Debt.” Deborah Rogers Lawrence has been predicting something of this sort for years, and now it seems to be coming to pass.

The first article says “Trading in futures is falling as WTI swings in a $5 range, the narrowest in 19 months. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries pumped the most oil last month since October 2012, while the U.S. government says output will start falling from this month. Investors are watching a June 30 deadline for Iran and six other nations to reach a nuclear deal that could lift oil sanctions and further swell a global supply glut.’ The higher cost of extracting oil in the U. S. seems to be catching up with the market.

It continues ” Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s biggest member, is ready to produce more oil if demand rises, Oil Minister Ali-Al Naimi said June 18. It has 1.5 million to 2 million barrels a day of spare capacity, he said.” and further, Libya may double output to 800,000 barrels a day by next month, according to Mohamed Elharari, a Tripoli-based spokesman for the state-run National Oil Corp.” Moreover, Iran wants to pump 4 million barrels a day, up from 2.8 million.

And according to a financial news letter I get, both Royal Dutch Shell and Total (France) want to return to Iran as soon as matters can be cleared up. Elsewhere the same source (out of Israel) says Total is seeking the equivalent of up to $15B in Chinese financing to fund its expansion in Russia, despite U.S. and European sanctions imposed on the country. The company expects Russia to be the most important region for its oil and gas output by 2020, when it hopes for production of around 400K bbl/day. Last year Total produced 2.2 Mbbl/day out of world production 94 Mbbl/day.

OPEC’s principal interest is to continue with its market share, while U. S. producers want to maintain oil’s current price, or put it back to where it was when they borrowed so much money. Futures traders are withdrawing, because they are not sure what the signals mean. Drillers are loosing their nerve. The number of rigs searching for oil dropped by 4 to 631 in the week ended June 19, the lowest level since August 2010, Baker Hughes Inc. data show.

The second article reports “The debt that fueled the U.S. shale boom now threatens to be its undoing. Drillers are devoting more revenue than ever to interest payments.” It gives as an example one company that is spending almost as much in interest as a company twenty times its size.

The reason this is dangerous is that oil has fallen 43% in the last year. Bloomberg says, ” Interest payments are eating up more than 10 percent of revenue for 27 of the 62 drillers in the Bloomberg Intelligence North America Independent Exploration and Production Index, up from a dozen a year ago. Drillers’ debt ballooned to $235 billion at the end of the first quarter, a 16 percent increase in the past year, even as revenue shrank.”

More from this Bloomberg article: “The question is, how long do they have that they can get away with this,” said Thomas Watters, an oil and gas credit analyst at Standard & Poor’s in New York. The companies with the lowest credit ratings “are in survival mode,” he said.

The problem for shale drillers is that they’ve consistently spent money faster than they’ve made it, even when oil was $100 a barrel. The companies in the Bloomberg index spent $4.15 for every dollar earned selling oil and gas in the first quarter, up from $2.25 a year earlier, while pushing U.S. oil production to the highest in more than 30 years. (End of quote.)

Some 45 of the 62 companies are rated “junk bond” by Standard and Poor. The $20 billion in bonds of the 62 are trading as distressed bond yielding more tha 10% above U. S. Treasury bonds. the most conservative bonds available. S&P has lowered the investment ratings of 105 exploration companies. World-wide oil and gas companies comprised one-third of the 36 corporate- debt defaults.

One bad example given in this article: Oklahoma City-based SandRidge issued $1.25 billion of second-lien debt this month at 8.75 percent interest, more than all but one of their existing bonds, records show. The company paid $24 million in fees and will add $109 million a year to interest payments, which are already eating up 29 percent of its revenue.

So far this is all about oil. What about gas? The net-short position on U.S. natural gas (that is the promises to deliver by speculators) decreased 23 percent. Nymex gas rose to $2.894 per million British thermal units. Baker Hughes gas drilling rig count in the Marcellus has fallen from 141 in 10/28/11 to 64 in 6/19/15.

Gas and oil are somewhat linked since the principal use for both at the present is to burn them for energy. Oil can be moved as liquid cheaply, and gas can not. Gas lines are the big boom at present. The Energy Information Administration says that about 4,600 miles of new interstate pipelines could be completed by 2018. That’s on top of the 6,800 miles of existing pipelines as of April, 2014. Compare the two numbers. Quite a bonanza for the executives in the agencies that move the money and the companies that build them. It is reflective of very high optimism – or is it simply “get mine now, to hell with what follows.”

Is optimism about substituting gas for coal justified? The U. S Energy Information Administration says 205.7 pounds of carbon dioxide is given off per million BTU’s produced. With natural gas it is 117.0 pounds of carbon dioxide per Million BTU’s. 57% as much.

What’s more, the conservative Deutsche Bank has just concluded that in 14 states of the US, solar power is now as inexpensive as that from coal and natural gas. And get this: by 2016– next year! — Deutsche Bank concludes that solar will be competitive with coal and natural gas in all but three or four states.

Must be a lot of clenched toes and queasy stomachs among the oil and gas gamblers.


Hunting Ways To Keep Synthetic Estrogens Out Of Rivers And Seas


“Millions of women around the world take synthetic hormones via birth control pills or hormone replacement therapies. Not all of the estrogen-like compounds from these and other treatments are used by the body — small amounts are excreted and end up in municipal wastewater. And there’s been no good way to completely remove these hormones before they head to rivers and seas.”

Read more from Jessie Rack at NPR.


Rich Californians balk at limits: ‘We’re not all equal when it comes to water’


“RANCHO SANTA FE, CALIF. — Drought or no drought, Steve Yuhas resents the idea that it is somehow shameful to be a water hog. If you can pay for it, he argues, you should get your water.

People “should not be forced to live on property with brown lawns, golf on brown courses or apologize for wanting their gardens to be beautiful,” Yuhas fumed recently on social media. “We pay significant property taxes based on where we live,” he added in an interview. “And, no, we’re not all equal when it comes to water.””

Read more from Rob Kuznia at The Washington Post

food waste

Americans are Wasting Food


Americans are known for eating larger portions and being larger in general but what is happening to the wasted food? According to this study almost half of the food we purchase in a typical American home of four is thrown away. Americans typically buy too much food and throw away their food before it has gone bad. The troubling part of this is 1 in 7 Americans don’t know how they are getting their next meal. Poverty and food shortages are a serious problem world wide.  “Read More


Stream Buffer Rule = Cleaner Water, Little Cost


The 2013 Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy committed the state to an ambitious goal of reducing phosphorus pollution from so-called nonpoint sources – mostly farm operations – by 29 percent, and nitrogen pollution by 41 percent. The science assessment that accompanied the strategy concluded that the simple step of putting 35-foot-wide grass strips between waterways and adjacent cropland could cut phosphorus runoff by 18 percent and nitrogen pollution by 7 percent. Enacting a streamside buffer standard would affect only a handful of landowners and an almost undetectable effect on land in row crop production. Requiring a 35-foot buffer would affect only 8 percent of landowners and convert only 0.05 percent of corn and soybean acres in those counties.

To read the full article, Click Here.


EPA Report Warns of Economic Impact of Climate Change


A report released Monday by the White House and Environmental Protection Agency analyzes the economic costs of a changing climate across 20 sectors of the American economy.

The report, “Climate Change in the United States: Benefits of Global Action,” found that global policy to curb climate change could prevent 12,000 deaths from extreme heat and cold. the report also found that the U.S. could face up to $180 billion in economic losses due to drought and water shortages by the end of the century.

This report comes as President Obama is trying to build political support both at home and abroad for an ambitious climate change agenda. The President hopes to make the case that long-term economic benefits of taking action on climate change will outweigh the short and medium-term costs.

To read the full article, Click Here.

You can find the full EPA report here.


New Report says Risk of Extreme Weather from Climate Change to Rise


More people will be exposed to floods, droughts, heat waves and other extreme weather associated with climate change over the next century than previously thought, according to a new report in the British medical journal The Lancet.

Professor Peter Cox, one of the authors of the report, said that this report was the first large-scale effort to quantify the effects that different types of extreme weather would have on people. This is a attempt to move away from thinking of climate change as an atmospheric or natural habitat problem, but rather a problem for people.

To read the full article, Click Here.

You can read the full report, “Health and climate change: policy responses to protect public health,” here.