Tue, 2015-03-10 11:58Mike Gaworecki
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Booming U.S. Renewable Energy Sector Growing Faster Than Expected

The mainstreaming of renewable energy is happening even faster than projected.

According to the latest “Electric Power Monthly” report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which includes data through the end of 2014, some 13.91% of electricity generation in the U.S. last year was from renewable sources.

“Given current growth rates, especially for solar and wind, it is quite possible that renewable energy sources will reach, or exceed, 14% of the nation's electrical supply by the end of 2015,” noted Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “That is a level that EIA, only a few years ago, was forecasting would not be achieved until the year 2040.”

That number includes conventional hydroelectric power, which comes with severe environmental impacts of its own and is not generally considered a true “clean energy” source (the same can be said of biomass and biofuels, which is also included). So it’s worth noting that 2014 was the first year that electricity generation from non-hydropower renewable energy sources exceeded hydroelectric generation.

Wind energy continues to be the biggest clean energy source by far, supplying some 4.45% of 2014 electricity generation in the U.S. versus .45% from solar and .41% from geothermal. But solar is making great strides, seeing more than 100% growth last year while wind grew just 8.3% and geothermal by just 5.4%.

Tue, 2015-03-10 03:16Kyla Mandel
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Climate Change is Creating a New Battleground as Nations Increase Arctic Military Presence

Commanders of Russia’s Northern Fleet recently held a competition to see who could orchestrate the best torpedo attack.

Submarine forces battled it out in sub-zero temperatures at the fleet’s main base in Gadzhiyevo, near Murmansk: the north-west tip of Russia along the Finnish border and the Barents Sea. Winners received the Northern Fleet Commander’s prize.

This was the culmination of Arctic training exercises which focused not only on torpedoes but also mines, anti-mine weapons, anti-submarine weapons and electronic warfare. Special attention was given to using torpedoes to open ice to allow submarines to surface and launch missiles.

Tue, 2015-03-10 03:03Kevin Grandia
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Merchants of Doubt Film Debuts, Textbook Denial Attack Campaign Led By Fred Singer Ensues

Merchants of Doubt, a new film from Food Inc. director Robert Kenner, hits the big screen nationwide this week and it is already making controversial headlines as the climate deniers go on the attack as predictably as possible. 

Merchants of Doubt zooms in on the anti-science campaign outlined in Naomi Oreskes' book of the same name, and has some pretty shocking and frank interviews with some of the more colorful and influential operatives in the climate denier movement.

Apparently the film sent such a wave of indigestion through the climate denial cabal that, back in October, S. Fred Singer and a small group of his chosen deniers and PR spindoctors discussed via email the opportunity to sue the film into oblivion. 

E & E revealed yesterday an email chain written by the grandfather of climate denial, Fred Singer, in which he seeks legal advice from the likes of Marc Morano, Anthony Watts, James Delingpole, Christopher Monckton, Tim Ball, Patrick MichaelsJudith Curry, Willie Soon and Joseph Bast, asking:

Mon, 2015-03-09 15:36Justin Mikulka
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Tar Sands by Rail Disasters: The Latest Wave in the Bomb Train Assault

With the first crash and explosion of a unit train of tar sands oil in Canada in February, we learned that the conventional wisdom among people covering the oil-by-rail industry regarding the flammability of tar sands oil has been dead wrong. A second derailment and explosion on March 7th involved synbit, which is a form of bitumen diluted with synthetic crude oil.

While there are many examples of this mischaracterization of the dangers of moving tar sands by rail that can be found in the press, here at DeSmogBlog we didn’t have to look far. In an article last year about how to make Bakken crude less dangerous we wrote that the government had plans to allow tar sands oil to be transported in the unsafe DOT-111 rail tank cars “because it is not explosive.”

While raw bitumen from the Alberta tar sands is not volatile or highly flammable, when it is diluted with natural gas condensate to form a mixture known as dilbit, which is typically done to make it easier to transport, it appears that it can be as dangerous as the Bakken crude that has now been proven to be highly flammable and explosive in multiple train derailments.

An article in Railway Age pointing out the implications of the tar-sands-by-rail accident had the ominous title “Why bitumen isn’t necessarily safer than Bakken” and concluded with the statement that “Should TSB [Transportation Safety Board] conclude that dilbit has a volatility similar to Bakken crude, as the Alberta research suggests, the hazmat classification of crude oil could be in question.”

Mon, 2015-03-09 14:24Farron Cousins
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Court Lifts Gag Order On Coal Baron Don Blankenship in Criminal Trial

The media will finally get a glimpse into the criminal activity of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, as a federal appeals court has decided to lift a gag order that had been in place on the court proceedings that began with a criminal indictment against Blankenship in November 2014.

The gag order prevented the court proceedings from being made public, and barred the participants in the suit from speaking to the media. But the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals said that the order could not be sustained any longer, following a lawsuit by media outlets in the U.S.

Blankenship was indicted in November of last year on a host of charges, including conspiracy to violate mine safety and health laws, conspiracy to impede federal mine safety officials, making false statements to the SEC, and securities fraud. These activities that Blankenship allegedly participated in are what led to the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine explosion that claimed the lives of 29 miners. Blankenship retired from Massey eight months after the explosion.

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