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April 13, 2011

The Latest Energy News Round-Up

Thunderridge I've got quite a few news articles to share today in case you missed them, so let's get started.

Let's start with really knowing the true price of the electricity used to power your house. The NY Times has an incredible article today about a small town in West Virginia that was bought by Massey Energy after the company destroyed the nearby mountains for coal mining. From the article:

The coal industry maintains that by removing some mountaintops from the "Mountain State," it is creating developable land that makes the state more economically viable. State and coal officials point to successful developments on land reclaimed by surface mining, developments that they say have led to the creation of some 13,000 jobs.

But Ken Ward Jr., a reporter for The Charleston Gazette, has pointed out that two-fifths of these jobs are seasonal or temporary; a third of the full-time jobs are at one project, in the northern part of the state; and the majority of the jobs are far from southern West Virginia, where most of the mountaintop removal is occurring, and where unemployment is most dire. In Boone County, development on reclaimed land has basically meant the building of the regional headquarters for the county's dominant employer — Massey Energy.

 Speaking of the bad effects of some energy choices, the Associated Press has a similar piece, but this time about families coping with the realities of natural gas drilling. From that article

NatgasLess than 15 miles away is the rural town of Dish, population about 200, Mayor Calvin Tillman raised a national ruckus about gas drilling. The Dish area now has about 60 drilling wells, gas production pads and rigs, 12 pipelines, a treating facility and a compressor station.

Cancer-causing benzene, sometimes in levels considered dangerous to human health, were reported last year by Texas environmental regulators who took air tests in the Dish area. Residents believe at least one domestic water well was contaminated and that gas operations killed horses on a ranch not far from the compressor - a claim the gas companies dispute.

For some more tough energy news, we turn to Utah, where the first U.S. tar sands mine was just approved. The Wall Street Journal also had a good article this week about the fight against toxic tar sands being piped into the U.S. from Canada.

Even more tough energy news: some stations are spinning this as a cute story, but it's far from that: A hibernating polar bear mom and cub just woke up to find a huge oil drilling rig near their den. The story includes four videos of the mom and cub looking around at the rig, too. Here's one:
 
Moving on to politics, Grist has a piece about what bad environmental measures remained in the budget after negotiations late last Friday. One thing they missed - delisting the wolf from the Endangered Species Act.

Also axed? The climate service budget for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Sigh. It's sad so many people in Congress hate science.

They probably wouldn't want to read this interview, then, where Miller McCune talks to Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, about the recent harsh weather around the globe and if it's related to climate disruption.

Finally, in your "Whaaaaa?" news for today, did you know that "indoor pot-growing operations in the United States burn about $5 billion worth of electricity annually, or roughly 1 percent of national power consumption"? It's true - learn more in this NY Times Green Blog post.

-- Heather Moyer

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