Saturday, October 13, 2007

Environmental odds and ends - Oct 16 07

Interesting recent stories and commentaries on environmental topics in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and beyond:

  • Eminent Domain Writing in Realty Times, real estate author Peter G. Miller discusses how New Jersey Eminent Domain Case Creates New Hurdle for Developers

  • Be careful what you wish for. Conservationists have been so successful in the campaign since the early 1990s to stop logging in the West that today many logging companies are collapsing and selling their land to (gasp) developers. In the New York Times, Kirk Johnson reports: "Many environmentalists say they have come to realize that cutting down trees, if done responsibly, is not the worst thing that can happen to a forest, when the alternative is selling the land to people who want to build houses."

  • Whitman stumping for nuclear power The former New Jersey governor and EPA Administrator now runs a lobbying/consulting firm and serves as co-chairwoman of the nuclear-industry-funded Clean and Safe Energy Coalition. In a speech at a climate-change conference in New Hampshire last week, she said that, in order to meet a projected 40 percent energy-demand growth, the nation will need 35 to 40 new nuclear plants. In an interview with the Concord Monitor, she noted that renewable sources like wind and solar currently produce 2.5 percent of America's energy. "So if you double or triple that, which is really putting a strain on that industry, you're still not going to get to the 40 percent," she said.

  • Pennsylvania investing $10M in biofuel production and use Governor Ed Rendell today announced the award of $10 million in grants through the Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant program for 24 projects designed to support research into new potential fuel sources--primarily biofuels. He said the grants will leverage another $108 million in private investment to expand the production and use of homegrown biofuels. The largest grant recipient is All American Plazas Inc. which will receive a $1.9 million "production incentive" for 37.5 million gallons of biodiesel. All American Plazas proposes to build three, 44-million-gallon biodiesel production facilities at three truck stops in Pennsylvania. All American Plazas anticipates production of more than 20 million gallons per year at each plant over two years. Other recipients include, Rohm and Haas Company, Sunoco, the Biotechnology Foundation Inc. at Thomas Jefferson University, Green Renewable Energy, Ethanol & Nutrition Holding LLC and numerous school districts and county governments for the incremental cost of purchasing biofuels for their buses and other vehicles. A full list is available here.

  • New York exploring woody biomass as an alternative energy source The state's Department of Environmental Conservation is using a federal grant to explore the feasibility of converting leftover wood from logging operations on private lands into a fuel source. The $64,000 award will fund a one-year project to evaluate whether there would be enough potential users in and around the Adirondack Park to make woody biomass a go. The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies newsletter, Conservation News reports that "currently, about two million tons of wood chips harvested from private Adirondack lands go into the low-grade wood market, as pulp or biofuel. Some of that goes to two cogeneration facilities in the North Country. DEC estimates at least another one million tons gets left behind." Potential customers would be community colleges, prisons, other state facilities with the capacity to store the wood chips and heating and cooling systems capable of incorporating appropriate emissions controls to protect air quality.

  • Making the case for coal "State law currently requires 18 percent of the state's power be provided from renewable resources by 2021. That process already has begun, with an increased amount of renewable power phased in each year. However, let's not forget the critical role coal plays." So writes Morgan K. O'Brien, president and chief executive officer of Duquesne Light Co, in an op-ed piece in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Give us your comments after reading the entire piece here.

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