Energy


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — June 2, 2011

SOUTH ROYALTON, VT –– Vermont Law School today launched a commentary blog where its faculty experts will provide ongoing analysis of the environmental, constitutional, political and other implications of the federal lawsuit over the troubled Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee, LLC et. al. v. Shumlin et. al. is being closely watched across the country because of its potential to affect nuclear power in the United States. Entergy Corp., which owns Vermont Yankee, is suing Vermont over whether the federal or state government has final approval in the reactor continuing to operate.

Vermont Law School faculty will provide commentary as the case progresses at: http://wordpress.vermontlaw.edu/vy/

I received this interesting note from WWF-Hong Kong:

Ecological Footprint (English)

WWF- Hong Kong has recently released the Hong Kong Ecological Footprint Report 2010, which demonstrates that Hong Kong people are living beyond the Earth’s limits. According to the report, if everyone in the world lived a similar lifestyle to that of Hong Kong people, we would need the equivalent resources of 2.2 Earths. Hong Kong has the 45th largest Ecological Footprint per person compared to 150 countries with populations larger than 1 million people in 2007.

 The Ecological Footprint measures the extent of human demand for the regenerative capacity of the biosphere. Both quantities are expressed in units of global hectares (gha). Hong Kong has an average per person Ecological Footprint of 4.0 gha, which is more than double the 1.8 gha of biocapacity – the area actually available to produce resources and absorb CO2 – available per person globally. This report uses 2007 data.

http://assets.wwfhk.panda.org/downloads/hong_kong_ecological_footprint_report_2010.pdf

Here are some interesting news items and blog posts from this morning:

See here.  Given that most GHG emissions from individuals come from driving, for carbon tax proponents a gas tax or driving tax would make the most sense (though potentially politically toxic).  If you’re interested in learning more on this type of idea, the book “Heat” is a good read.

Most food/ag gurus I know are generally supportive of farm raising tilapia given the perceived lower environmental foodprint of the fish, its use as a sustainable ag tool especially in the developing world, and the ability to more effieciently create a protein source.  Here’s a the flip side argument.

The Post has an opinion piece titled “Hold the accolades on China’s ‘green leap forward’.”

China’s Energy and Carbon Emissions Outlook to 2050

Abstract

As a result of soaring energy demand from a staggering pace of economic expansion and the related growth of energy-intensive industry, China overtook the United States to become the world’s largest contributor to CO2 emissions in 2007. At the same time, China has taken serious actions to reduce its energy and carbon intensity by setting both a short-term energy intensity reduction goal for 2006 to 2010 as well as a long-term carbon intensity reduction goal for 2020. This study presents a China Energy Outlook through 2050 that assesses the role of energy efficiency policies in transitioning China to a lower emission trajectory and meeting its intensity reduction goals.

Over the past few years, LBNL has established and significantly enhanced its China End-Use Energy Model which is based on the diffusion of end-use technologies and other physical drivers of energy demand. This model presents an important new approach for helping understand China’s complex and dynamic drivers of energy consumption and implications of energy efficiency policies through scenario analysis. A baseline (“Continued Improvement Scenario”) and an alternative energy efficiency scenario (“Accelerated Improvement Scenario”) have been developed to assess the impact of actions already taken by the Chinese government as well as planned and potential actions, and to evaluate the potential for China to control energy demand growth and mitigate emissions. In addition, this analysis also evaluated China’s long-term domestic energy supply in order to gauge the potential challenge China may face in meeting long-term demand for energy.

It is a common belief that China’s CO2 emissions will continue to grow throughout this century and will dominate global emissions. The findings from this research suggest that this will not necessarily be the case because saturation in ownership of appliances, construction of residential and commercial floor area, roadways, railways, fertilizer use, and urbanization will peak around 2030 with slowing population growth. The baseline and alternative scenarios also demonstrate that China’s 2020 goals can be met and underscore the significant role that policy-driven energy efficiency improvements will play in carbon mitigation along with a decarbonized power supply through greater renewable and non-fossil fuel generation.

I have been irresponsible (especially since I brought the case up in my class this week) in not blogging about AEP v. Conn. (here’s an earlier post), the case considers whether common law nuisance can be used to abate greenhouse gas emissions.  The case was argued before the US Supreme Court this week.  So here are some resources, from bloggers more timely than I, to get my readers up to speed.

The oral argument transcript can be found here.

SCOTUSblog’s case page and Argument Recap.

Commentary at Legal Planet here and here and here (my students will be interested in this last link related to nuisance and remedies).

Unfortunately, what is good for the American economy is not good for the environment, and this is especially the case when it comes to China and the rest of the developing world.  A newspaper article, entitled “Joy Global mines Chinese market,” illustrates the problem.  The article states:

Given robust demand for coal, copper, iron ore and other raw materials, especially in developing nations, mining equipment sales have soared in the last couple of years.  That’s good news for Joy Global and its competitor, South Milwaukee-based Bucyrus International.  The two companies dominate the market for electric mining shovels and draglines, which are some of the world’s largest machines.  Much of the sales growth has come from Asia, with China alone consuming about 3 billion tons of coal a year for power generation, compared with 1 billion tons in the United States.  China plans to build more coal-fired power plants as it brings electricity to rural areas. India burns 500 million tons of coal a year and is increasing coal consumption at a faster rate than China.  “It’s momentum that no one can stop.” Sutherlin said. “China, for example, isn’t going to stop industrialization in its western provinces. They want their share of the prosperity.”

The future of environmentalism rests on at least two prongs, (1) the change of the consumption culture of the Western world, and (2) helping the developing world reach the same level of prosperity through sustainable means.

reports the NY Times.

UPDATE: And this from Green Blog, Pressures Grow for Answers on Fracking

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