Best Practices in Energy Efficiency for Homes

There are various options available to you when it comes to choosing a more energy-efficient new home.

Landrieu, Murkowski call for IG to find source of grid vulnerability stories

The chair and the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday urged the Energy Department’s internal watchdog to investigate the publication of a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission analysis that warned a coordinated attack on the electricity grid could cause massive blackouts.

The Wall Street Journal earlier this month published details of an internal FERC analysis showing that disabling nine key transformers critical to the bulk power system could cut electricity from coast to coast. The story did not give locations, but described how different sets of nine large transformers, among 30 modeled by FERC, could cause similar blackouts.

House Republicans to probe EPA moves on Pebble Mine after report

The chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee is pressing the Environmental Protection Agency for information, after a report concluded the agency gave environmentalists improper favor when it proposed restrictions on a potential gold and copper mining project in Bristol Bay.

In a Wednesday letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said the report, conducted by Clinton administration Defense Secretary William Cohen for the mining group Pebble Partnership, raised serious concerns about the transparency of the agency’s action.

Smith also announced that the committee would hold a Nov. 5 hearing on the EPA’s handling of the project, with Cohen set to testify.

High-efficiency wood heating systems winning converts

ATHENS, N.Y. (AP) — With the touch of a finger on an iPod-style screen, Eric Besenfelder can monitor and troubleshoot the shiny, wood-pellet furnace that heats Athens Elementary School in the Hudson Valley.

Like the smoky, outdoor wood boilers that have proliferated in rural areas over the past 20 years, the wood furnace at Athens is housed in a shed behind the building. But that’s where the similarity ends.

Guest Column: Hofmeister’s case for change

The American people will choose their next president in a few weeks.  What choice do they have when it comes to energy?

The incumbent’s track record presents: sustained economic insecurity because ever higher energy prices wet-blanket any prospects for economic growth; continued volatile geo-politics impact imported energy supplies; sustained energy regulatory intrusion, regardless of need; ongoing efforts to shrink coal’s role in power generation; an anemic five-year plan for future offshore leasing; no nuclear waste storage resolution; ongoing rhetoric (regardless of consequences) to tax “big oil” more without comprehensive tax reform; the further build out of alternative energy inefficiency, regardless of costs or merits.

In other words. we can expect four more years just like the last, until we line up for our gasoline rations and wait out increasingly frequent blackouts by the back end of the next term.

GAO highlights issues with EPA science board policies

As Republicans press legislation that would overhaul the Environmental Protection Agency’s use of scientific advisory panels for crafting regulations, a government auditor is highlighting problems with the agency’s guidelines for responding to congressional requests for advice from the boards.

The Government Accountability Office said Wednesday the guidelines “lack clarity,” and that one of the boards isn’t being asked for advice on  the adverse effects of regulations.

Alfredo Gomez, GAO Natural Resources and Environment team director, told a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee panel that a preliminary investigation of the Scientific Advisory Board, or SAB, and the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, or CASAC, revealed some potential issues with how the boards are currently operated.

Ga. port officials promise to protect ancient oaks

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Across from a paved lot where the Port of Savannah stacks empty cargo containers stands a living link to the time before Georgia’s first settlers arrived — an ancient live oak tree more than 7 ½ feet in diameter with massive branches extending up to 70 feet from its trunk.

Feds to resume leasing for fracking in California

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will resume issuing oil and gas leases next year for federal lands in California after a new study found limited environmental impacts from fracking and other enhanced drilling techniques, the agency said Thursday.

The move will end a halt that has stood since a federal judge ruled in 2013 that the federal agency failed to follow environmental law in allowing an oil extraction method known as fracking on public land in Monterey County.

Farms are focus of studies on drinking water toxin

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Scientists and farmers agree that phosphorus from agriculture runoff is feeding the blue-green algae blooms on Lake Erie linked to a toxin found in the drinking water of 400,000 people in Ohio and southeastern Michigan last week.

Ohio’s political leaders are calling for more studies to find out why the blooms are increasing and how to control them. A number of environmental groups say it’s time for strict regulations on the agriculture industry.