Recently in Environmental Category

From The Hill:

Senate confirms Pruitt to lead EPA
The Senate voted Friday to confirm Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ushering in what are likely to be dramatic changes to the agency.

The 52-46 vote was almost along party lines. All Republicans except Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) voted for Pruitt, while all Democrats except Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) voted against him.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) did not vote due to a military conference he is attending in Germany. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) also did not vote.

I love it - Pruitt is currently serving as Oklahoma’s attorney general. He knows the West and he knows the law. A bit more:

Trump promised to roll back Obama’s entire climate change agenda, including the Clean Power Plan, which sets carbon dioxide limits for power plants. He also pledged to repeal the EPA’s Clean Water Rule, which asserts federal power over small waterways like ponds and streams.

Trump said any new regulations will be judged on whether they benefit workers, and he would refocus the EPA’s mission on clean air and water.

At his confirmation hearing, Pruitt promised to take seriously the EPA’s mission, but also to improve cooperation with states and regulated parties.

“Regulators are supposed to make things regular, to fairly and equitably enforce the rules and not pick winners and losers,” Pruitt told senators.

Good - get the EPA back to its core competencies and stop with the regulation overreach by unelected officials with no checks and balances. This has gone on for way too long.

That soft popping sound you hear is environmentalist's heads exploding. I love it.

Business as usual in Washington State

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I knew it was bad but I did not realize just how bad - from The Seattle Times:

Washington’s 30-year earthquake drill for the ‘Big One’: Order studies. Ignore them. Repeat.
On Jan. 17, Gov. Jay Inslee strode into an auditorium in Olympia with a message for the new subcabinet he formed to help prepare the state for a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami.

“The science is clear that we have in our future a megaquake,” Inslee said. “The establishment of the subcabinet is our attempt to marshal the resources of the state to have a coordinated resilience plan.”

But the governor’s rhetoric gave way to some familiar realities in Washington state. The subcabinet has no budget, staff or regulatory authority — and simply creating it took more than three years, internal records show. The dozen state officials assembled onstage were on loan from their day jobs. And the members are responsible for delivering just one product: a draft of their findings by July.

The federal government is doing a lot of real good - FEMA for the states and various programs like CERT for counties and cities but WA State is doing nothing. There is a lot of planning going on through local fire and police districts working with FEMA and CERT - I have been involved in a bunch of these drills for the last couple of years and there is good work being done. Still, without WA State's involvement, our work will be that much harder.

Some more looking at the problems:

Elected officials over the past three decades have repeatedly directed seismic-safety experts to produce such reports, all of which have called for action to reduce threats to public safety and the state’s economy. But time and again, state politicians have largely ignored recommendations that require money or legislation to see them through, an examination by The Seattle Times has found.

As a result, Inslee’s new subcabinet will be grappling with issues raised many times before, but which still pose serious risks to the state’s residents.

Five government reports since 1986 have urged Washington’s lawmakers to mandate seismic evaluations of public schools, where thousands of children attend classes in vulnerable buildings. Evaluations remain optional.

State seismic advisers called on the Legislature in 1991 to require that electric and water utilities analyze their earthquake weaknesses. Washington still has no authority to compel the utilities to act.

And for at least 25 years, seismic committees have advocated more retrofits for state bridges. With nearly $200 million spent on the work, funding for the program has slowed to a trickle, even as 11.3 million vehicles a day drive over almost 500 bridges flagged for strengthening.

And yet, we piss away millions of dollars on renewable energy and climate mitigation. Much more at the site. You should print out several copies of this article and spread them around your neighborhood. I am doing this. We need to light a fire under our legislators - we elected them, they are supposed to represent us. Make them do their job and stop piddling around with ephemeral things like the weather.

Happy 317th Birthday - Big One

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On this date in 1700, the Cascadia Subduction Zone ripped apart causing a Magnitude 9 earthquake and a major tsunami which devastated our coastline but which also caused damage and flooding in Japan. Geologic record shows that these quakes happen every 300 to 500 years so we are technically overdue.

From The Seattle Times:

Last ‘Big One’ happened 317 years ago today in the Pacific Northwest — and we’re still woefully unprepared
On this date 317 years ago, the “Big One” shook the Pacific Northwest. A magnitude 9 megaquake struck off the Pacific coast, splitting tideflats, collapsing hillsides and dropping shorelines by several feet.

Then the tsunami hit.

“Beaches where hundreds of thousands of tourists now fly kites and race three-wheelers on sunny days were swallowed by waves no man or beast could outrun. Uprooted trees became battering rams. Caught up in the icy water, people flailed desperately for anything to grab onto, anything to keep them afloat. Entire villages were swept away in a matter of moments,” wrote Seattle Times reporter Sandi Doughton in her book, “Full Rip 9.0: The Next Big Earthquake in the Pacific Northwest.”

Today, about 5.4 million people in Washington live in areas that would be endangered by a megaquake. FEMA projects 9,400 Washingtonians would die if a megaquake and tsunami struck.

No time like the present to get prepared. Fortunately, the cities of Seattle and Vancouver are well shielded from the bulk of the tsunami but our coastal towns will be overwhelmed. Further inland, the quake will be more of a Mag 5 - some structural damage, chimneys down, windows broken, etc... Still - people need to start preparing now - three weeks of food, water, medications, pet food, flashlights, books, etc... It is not IF it is WHEN

The declining Polar Bear population

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Pure bunkum. From The Washington Times:

Polar bear zoologist blasts Obama’s climate alarmism: ‘Sensationalized nonsense’
The Obama administration warned Monday that polar bears may disappear unless something is done about climate change, despite recent research indicating that the bears are actually thriving.

In its final Conservation Management Plan, the Fish and Wildlife Service painted a grim picture for the future of the massive Arctic-dwelling mammal, warning that its fate will be determined “by our willingness and ability to address climate change.”

“The current global polar bear population is estimated to be 26,000,” said the Fish and Wildlife Service. “If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at the current rates throughout the 21st century, polar bears will likely disappear from much of their present-day range.”

And the actual facts from someone who works in the field:

The announcement prompted pushback from zoologist Susan J. Crockford, founder of the Polar Bear Science website, who blasted the service for igniting a rash of “sensationalized nonsense” by fueling alarmist media reports.

The funny thing is the polar bear populations are not dependent on sea ice - that is a myth. The population is also recovering nicely since hunting by non-Inuit natives was made illegal. The Inuit's follow a strict lottery system - they draw a ticket and have 48 hours to get their bear before that ticket gets drawn again. Annual quota is 48 bears (used to be 60). The lucky winner is allowed to sell his ticket to an outsider but again, the 48 hour rule still applies.

Cascadian Subduction Zone

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Fairly long (48 minutes) but excellent documentary by the BBC on the Cascadian Subduction Zone:

This is what I have been training for as part of the Cascadia Rising drill last June, the Great American Shakeout last October and the upcoming earthquake drill this April. A lot of the initial research was done by people a the University of Washington and I have had the pleasure to meet some of the people in this documentary. Very good detective work by some highly intelligent people.

FEMA has a lot of really useful information for earthquake and other disaster preparedness. The old line about three days of food and water is not used any more - it is more like a week to three weeks supply.

The water in Flint Michigan

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Turns out that thousands of communities have it worse. From Reuters:

The thousands of U.S. locales where lead poisoning is worse than in Flint
On a sunny November afternoon in this historic city, birthplace of the Pony Express and death spot of Jesse James, Lauranda Mignery watched her son Kadin, 2, dig in their front yard. As he played, she scolded him for putting his fingers in his mouth.

In explanation, she pointed to the peeling paint on her old house. Kadin, she said, has been diagnosed with lead poisoning.

He has lots of company: Within 15 blocks of his house, at least 120 small children have been poisoned since 2010, making the neighborhood among the most toxic in Missouri, Reuters found as part of an analysis of childhood lead testing results across the country. In St. Joseph, even a local pediatrician’s children were poisoned.

Last year, the city of Flint, Michigan, burst into the world spotlight after its children were exposed to lead in drinking water and some were poisoned. In the year after Flint switched to corrosive river water that leached lead from old pipes, 5 percent of the children screened there had high blood lead levels.

Flint is no aberration. In fact, it doesn’t even rank among the most dangerous lead hotspots in America.

This is not surprising but whomever is running the water systems is not doing their jobs. Our little water cooperative has stringent rules for testing for coliform bacteria, radioactivity, heavy metals and the trigger levels are very low. Our water is fantastic but other neighborhoods have problems - from The Bellingham Herald:

Whatcom County asks state for millions to contain Swift Creek asbestos
A long-term fix for containing the naturally occurring asbestos and metals that flow into Swift Creek depends on $5.8 million that Whatcom County has asked the Legislature to set aside in the 2017-19 state budget.

It marks the third time the money has been requested from the state. If funding doesn’t come through this time, it could be a case of three strikes and you’re out.

“We are at a critical juncture,” said Roland Middleton, special programs manager for Whatcom County Public Works.

Time to start maintaining the infrastructure.

Fish and Plastic

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Earlier this year, there was a big environmental story about how juvenile fish were eating bits of plastic instead of their normal food and it was killing them. Here are some links:

The uproar was such that the use of plastic microbeads in toothpastes and cosmetics has been severely curtailed if not outright banned. Here, here, here, here, here and here.

Well guess what. From today's Retraction Watch:

Stolen data prompts Science to flag debated study of fish and plastics
In August, Science told us it was considering adding an Expression of Concern to a high-profile paper about how human pollution is harming fish — and yesterday, the journal did it.

The move comes after a group of researchers alleged the paper contains missing data, and the authors followed a problematic methodology. In September, however, the co-authors’ institution, Uppsala University in Sweden, concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to launch a misconduct investigation.

The notice from Science stems from the theft of a computer carrying some of the paper’s raw data, making it impossible to reproduce some of its findings:

In the 3 June issue, Science published the Report “Environmentally relevant concentrations of microplastic particles influence larval fish ecology” by Oona M. Lönnstedt and Peter Eklöv (1). The authors have notified Science of the theft of the computer on which the raw data for the paper were stored. These data were not backed up on any other device nor deposited in an appropriate repository. Science is publishing this Editorial Expression of Concern to alert our readers to the fact that no further data can be made available, beyond those already presented in the paper and its supplement, to enable readers to understand, assess, reproduce or extend the conclusions of the paper.

“Environmentally relevant concentrations of microplastic particles influence larval fish ecology” caught the media’s attention for suggesting fish larvae are eating small particles of plastic rather than their natural prey. It became the focus of scrutiny soon after it was published when a group of researchers raised allegations of misconduct, even submitting a formal letter outlining their concerns.

We contacted corresponding author Oona M. Lönnstedt, and received an out-of-office message.

Heh - oops - laptop stolen and no backup of the data. So no verification. Cherry picked data if not outright fabrication. The whole fish/plastics thing was just another example of wishful thinking. Narrative passing for critical thought -- that is the hallmark of the liberal mind.

About that renewable energy - Europe

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It is a joke - worse for the environment than just burning coal - from New Scientist:

Europe’s green energy policy is a disaster for the environment
The European Union’s proposals for revising its renewable energy policies are greenwashing and don’t solve the serious flaws, say environmental groups.

The EU gets 65 per cent of its renewable energy from biofuels – mainly wood – but it is failing to ensure this bioenergy comes from sustainable sources, and results in less emissions than burning fossil fuels. Its policies in some cases are leading to deforestation, biodiversity loss and putting more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than burning coal.

Like the old saying goes: "Our appearance of careful management is just a careful management of appearances."

It seems that people are caving to him even though he has not been inaugurated yet - from Fuel Fix:

EPA plans to withdraw pollution regulations for seven Texas power plants
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it plans to voluntarily withdraw a requirement that seven Texas coal-fired power plants reduce pollution, according to a filing with a federal appeals court.

The so-called regional haze rule is part of the Clean Air Act and was proposed two years ago with the goal of cleaning up the air in national parks. The act requires states to craft a plan to address air pollution, or else be forced to implement a plan compiled by the EPA. Texas declined to create a plan, and along with power plant owners took its objections to the EPA’s plan to court.

The EPA said it plans to soon file a motion to withdraw the regional haze rule with U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is reviewing it. The agency is not expected to scrap the rule, but rather to reevaluate its requirements come back with a reworked rule, according to the Sierra Club, a national environmental advocacy group. The original rule targeted sulfur dioxide pollution in national parks, and required that coal-fire power plants use scrubbers, air pollution control devices, to reduce emissions.

The rule would apply to seven power plants that the EPA claims affect air quality in Big Bend National Park and the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, the only two national parks in Texas. Big Bend is along the state’s western border with Mexico and the Guadalupe Mountains run along the Texas-New Mexico border.

A couple of things - the 'haze' in those parks comes from Mexico, and the plants in question are already kitted out with Flue-gas desulfurization units - there is essentially zero SOx or particulates escaping from the chimney. Most hippies will never admit it but we have had clean coal technologies for over 25 years.

Disaster planning for Seaside Oregon

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I love the place - I used to like Cannon Beach about 20 miles to the South but C.B. has been 'di$covered' and is now very gentrified while Seaside has retained its working roots. I have been down there for the last couple of years for a very large amateur radio conference in June. Great coffee, chinese food and a wonderful hole-in-the-wall tavern where the locals hang out. When I lived in Seattle, Cannon Beach and Seaside were some of my favorite places to visit (with the obligatory side trip to Powell's in Portland).

Unfortunately, the town is smack-dab in the sights of a tsunami when the Cascadia subduction zone lets go. The New Yorker has an excellent article about some people trying to make the Seaside schools more tsunami-proof:

THE REALLY SMALL ONES
By their nature, coastal towns are seldom at the center of things. The little boardwalk city of Seaside, Oregon, is in the far northwest corner of the state, four square miles that are not square, bisected by a river and flush against the ocean. In the summer months, nearly everyone there is from elsewhere; given a little sunshine, well over half a million tourists spread their towels along the town’s long shoreline. After Labor Day, though, the candy stores and kite shops close their shutters, the “vacancy” signs blink on, and the beach, gone brown with rain, thins out to seagulls and bundled-up locals walking their dogs. Year-round, some sixty-five hundred people live in Seaside.

But everything is at the center of something. Last year, I wrote an article in this magazine about the Cascadia subduction zone, a little-known fault line that cyclically produces the largest earthquakes and tsunamis in North America—shaking of magnitude 9.0 or higher, waves of a scale and destructive force analogous to the 2011 disaster in Japan. The subduction zone runs for seven hundred miles along the western coast of our continent. At its south end is Cape Mendocino, California. At its north end is Vancouver Island, Canada. In the middle is Seaside.

That centrality is not just geographic. With one possible exception—the similarly unlucky town of Long Beach, Washington—no other place on the West Coast is as imperilled by the Cascadia subduction zone as Seaside. When the earthquake hits, the continent will jolt westward into the Pacific, displacing an enormous amount of ocean. All of that seawater will be forced upward into a massive liquid mountain, which will promptly collapse and rush back toward the shore. That’s the tsunami, which will flood the coastal region up to a mile and a half inland and to a depth of twenty, forty, even a hundred feet, depending on your precise location. The area that will be swamped is called the inundation zone; within it, tsunamis are essentially unsurvivable. Eighty-three per cent of Seaside’s population and eighty-nine per cent of its workforce are located inside that zone. So is its energy infrastructure, water supply, wastewater-treatment plant, hospital, police department, and fire stations. And so, during the school year, are nearly all of its children.

Some really good people, a great gift of land from Weyerhaeuser timber company for the new school buildings and a growing awareness of what can happen and how to cope. Out here, we will experience about a 5.0 Magnitude - building damage, unsecured houses shifting off their foundations, some dams and bridges failing - not as serious as Seaside but still something to prepare and plan for.

The Paris Climate Accord is a cultural marxist scam designed to skim off many billions of dollars from rich nations to line the purses of despots and the "climate challenged" nations. The USA has thankfully, not signed on to this piece of crap. Not what the UK Guardian thinks:

Paris climate change agreement enters into force
The Paris agreement on climate change enters into force on Friday, marking the first time that governments have agreed legally binding limits to global temperature rises.

The passage of the accord – the fruit of more than two decades of often tortuous international negotiations on combating climate change – was hailed by nations and observers around the world.

Under the agreement, all governments that have ratified the accord, which includes the US, China, India and the EU, now carry an obligation to hold global warming to no more than 2C above pre-industrial levels. That is what scientists regard as the limit of safety, beyond which climate change is likely to become catastrophic and irreversible.

Unnnh - that would be a no. From the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change:

Paris Agreement - Status of Ratification
The Paris Agreement pdf-icon entered into force on 4 November 2016, thirty days after the date on which at least 55 Parties to the Convention accounting in total for at least an estimated 55 % of the total global greenhouse gas emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession with the Depository.

The list below contains the latest information concerning dates of signature and receipt of instruments of ratification by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, as Depository of the Kyoto Protocol. The dates in the third column are those of the receipt of the instrument of ratification, acceptance (A) or approval (AA).

Authoritative information on the status of the Paris Agreement, including information on signatories to the Agreement, ratification and entry into force, is provided by the Depository, through the United Nations Treaty Collection website, which can be accessed here, and the Depository Notifications which are available here.

Background information related to the ratification, acceptance, approval or accession of the Paris Agreement, as well as its entry into force can be found here.

As you can see from the list, the United States accepted the ratification but it did not issue a declaration. Obama is forcing this using his pen and his phone but the Senate is not ratifying this treaty (as they must under the US Constitution and it must be by a 2/3rds vote).

Now this is interesting - arctic noise

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From the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:

Mysterious 'ping' sound from sea floor baffles Igloolik
Hunters in a remote community in Nunavut are concerned about a mysterious sound that appears to be coming from the sea floor.

The "pinging" sound, sometimes also described as a "hum" or "beep," has been heard in Fury and Hecla Strait — roughly 120 kilometres northwest of the hamlet of Igloolik — throughout the summer.

Paul Quassa, a member of the legislative assembly, says whatever the cause, it's scaring the animals away.

"That's one of the major hunting areas in the summer and winter because it's a polynya," an area of open water surrounded by ice that's abundant with sea mammals, he said.

"And this time around, this summer, there were hardly any. And this became a suspicious thing."

The noise is "emanating from the sea floor," according to remarks Quassa made last month in the Nunavut legislature.

One possibility and I would not put it past them:

He also says some of his constituents suspect the sound is being generated on purpose by Greenpeace to scare wildlife away from the rich hunting ground. The organization has a tense past with Inuit stemming from its opposition to the seal hunt in the 1970s and 1980s. 

"We've heard in the past of groups like Greenpeace putting in some kinds of sonars in the seabed to get the sea mammals out of the way so Inuit won't be able to hunt them," Quassa said.

Curious.

About that global warming

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From AccuWeather:

Blustery winds, interior snow to chill northeastern US this weekend
Colder weather, and in some cases, a taste of winter with snow will continue to invade the northeastern United States this weekend.

Shorts and short-sleeve weather from earlier this week is being replaced by conditions requiring long sleeves and layered clothing, including coats, hats and even gloves, for those spending time outdoors at area football games.

Some people may have to put their heat on for the first time this season.

Looking at some epic snow this winter for Mtl Baker. Good for business.

Earthquakes on the brain

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An interesting metric from My Northwest:

Google searches prove devastating earthquake still top of mind in Washington
It’s clear that earthquakes are still top of mind for Western Washington residents.

One need only to look as far as the Google search bar to understand just how much interest there is.

As Estatly points out, “How to survive an earthquake?” is queried by Washingtonians in the Google search engine more frequently than any other state, including California. And that’s somewhat surprising, considering the fact that anxiety was high recently after a swarm of seismic activity prompted a warning of elevated risk for a San Andreas fault earthquake, and two faults were just found to be connected.

The search queries in Google were taken from the most common how-to questions over the past five years.

This is a good thing - preparedness begets survival and the more prepared you are, the more comfortable you will be until relief arrives.

Our government and local farmers

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This sucks - central planning at it's most egregious - from Capital Press:

Congress mulls project to flood Washington farmland
Federal lawmakers may authorize the Army Corps of Engineers to pursue a $451.6 million project to convert hundreds of acres of privately owned farmland into Puget Sound fish habitat, unsettling to a farmer who owns property vital to the government’s designs.

“It’s definitely, definitely in the back of my mind, all the time,” said Scott Bedlington, third-generation Whatcom County farmer. “I have to farm. That’s what we live off.”

The corps and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife propose to inundate 2,100 acres in Whatcom, Skagit and Jefferson counties, including by removing dikes protecting farms.

Restoring habitat is a nice idea and it plays well with the disconnected-from-reality urban voters but the habitat was disturbed and nothing we do can bring it back to what it once was. Some of the dam removal is good for restoring salmon runs but stuff like this is expensive and will do nothing major. It will remove the layer of flood protection that the levees give which caused them to be built in the first place.

Follow the money:

The corps and WDFW spent 15 years and $22 million developing the Puget Sound Nearshore Restoration Project.

The corps forwarded the plan to Congress last month. The plan calls for $293.6 million in federal funding and $158 million in state funding over about 10 years.

How about we put this towards reforming our education system. The Federal funding is just our tax dollars being misspent and the state funding is money that would be better served fixing infrastructure. Fish do not say thank you.

Very cool news - the EPA

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President Trump has picked an awesome person to lead the EPA Transition team. From EENews (Environmental and Energy):

Trump picks top skeptic to lead EPA transition
Donald Trump has selected one of the best-known climate skeptics to lead his U.S. EPA transition team, according to two sources close to the campaign.

Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, is spearheading Trump's transition plans for EPA, the sources said.

As they say in New England, the guy is 'wicked smaaht' - has a sense of humor too:

In a biography submitted when he testified before Congress, he listed among his recognitions that he had been featured in a Greenpeace "Field Guide to Climate Criminals," dubbed a "misleader" on global warming by Rolling Stone and was the subject of a motion to censure in the British House of Commons after Ebell criticized the United Kingdom's chief scientific adviser for his views on global warming.

Sitting here, eating breakfast and watching hippies heads exploding. A great morning!

Got to be California

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America's test lab for wacky ideas - from the San Francisco's CBS affiliate KCBS:

Cow Fart Regulations Approved By California’s Legislature
California’s Legislature has approved regulations on cow flatulence and manure – both blamed for releasing greenhouse gases.

A bit more:

The legislation seeks to reduce methane emissions associated with manure to 40 percent below their 2013 levels by 2030. Methane is one of several gases known as short-lived climate pollutants that don’t persist for long in the atmosphere but have a huge influence on the climate.

The bill also calls for efforts to significantly increase composting to eliminate the amount of food waste in landfills, which releases methane when it breaks down.

This is going to impact dairy and meat operations so say hello to higher prices for those two staple foods. Also, composting releases methane just as much as landfills. In landfills, the methane can be captured and used for fuel. As for greenhouse gas - if they are really serious, they need to go after water vapor. That accounts for a lot more greenhouse gas activity than either CO2 or CH4 (Methane).

A bunch of twits

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From Seattle station KIRO:

Protesters block coal train in Bellingham
A fossil fuel resistance group blocked a coal train in Bellingham, Washington, Saturday as part of an ongoing campaign against fossil fuels.

Protestors raised a tripod structure in the middle of a rail bridge crossing Mud Bay south of Bellingham. Trains have been stopped since early in the afternoon.

Organizers of the blockade said they believe fossil fuels should be stopped in order to avoid global warming.

For decades, Bellingham has been in the sights of the fossil fuel industry. Activists expressed ongoing efforts to keep fossil fuel transportation out of the city.

And I bet these morons all have iPhones and wear polyester. Carbon is our friend and CO2 is plant food. Silly hippies...

Suck it up hippie - the truth hurts. From Phys-Org:

Biofuels increase, rather than decrease, heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions: study
A new study from University of Michigan researchers challenges the widely held assumption that biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel are inherently carbon neutral.

Contrary to popular belief, the heat-trapping carbon dioxide gas emitted when biofuels are burned is not fully balanced by the CO2 uptake that occurs as the plants grow, according to a study by research professor John DeCicco and co-authors at the U-M Energy Institute.

The study, based on U.S. Department of Agriculture crop-production data, shows that during the period when U.S. biofuel production rapidly ramped up, the increased carbon dioxide uptake by the crops was only enough to offset 37 percent of the CO2 emissions due to biofuel combustion.

The researchers conclude that rising biofuel use has been associated with a net increase—rather than a net decrease, as many have claimed—in the carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming. The findings are scheduled to be published online Aug. 25 in the journal Climatic Change.

Besides, it takes more energy to distill the Ethanol than the Ethanol will yield as fuel. The whole thing is a Federally funded give-away to ag business Archer Daniels Midland and to corn growers everywhere.

From American Thinker:

Little Green Lies: Why Electric Cars Won’t Save the Environment
Things don’t look good for electric cars these days -- but did they ever? Tesla experienced a series of recalls, even before the recent crash in Florida that put the company’s autopilot system in the spotlight. Apparently, watching a Harry Potter movie and letting your car drive isn’t exactly a safe practice.

But the real problem with electric cars is actually the problem they’re marketed to solve: pollution. While the left insists that electric cars are the only way to protect the environment, they’re actually damaging the oil industry while shifting money to liberal interests.

Meanwhile, electric cars have proven to be a greater source of pollution than traditional vehicles.

Nice analysis - where does the energy to charge come from? Coal. How about the huge environmental impact of mining for the battery components? And manufacture? Well thought out with lots of links.

I would love to have one if they were practical but that would be just for the novelty and not from any desire to "save the planet". The planet is doing fine.

Another reason to vote for Trump

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From Americans for Tax Reform:

Democratic Platform Calls for Carbon Tax
The 2016 Democratic Party platform endorses a carbon tax on the American people. The carbon tax language, added at the last minute, states:

“Democrats believe that carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases should be priced to reflect their negative externalities, and to accelerate the transition to a clean economy and help meet out climate goals.”

The move by Democrats to impose a carbon tax comes in clear contrast to the 2016 Republican Party platform opposition to any carbon tax:

“We oppose any carbon tax.”

This demonization of carbon is ludicrous - we would not have life on this planet if it were not for Carbon and CO2 gas.

Retractions in the news (shhhhhh)

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A paper on the pollution resulting from fracking has been retracted by its authors. From the BOE Report:

Anti-Fracking Study Gets Retracted for Basic Math Error
A University of Cincinnati study regularly cited by activists claiming that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, causes air pollution was quietly retracted due to “errors” and “incorrect” calculations.

The researchers admitted that correcting their errors “changes air concentrations significantly relative to those reported in the published article. This correction also changes some of the conclusions reported in the original article.” Researchers retracted the study because of a basic math error caused by the use of incorrect units and improper use of a spreadsheet.

The study was announced at an event hosted by the anti-fracking group Carroll County Concerned Citizens and the study’s co-lead author, Dr. Erin Hayes, has also participated in other anti-fracking events.

The study had numerous flaws, as participants were actively recruited by the anti-fracking activist group, did not use random testing and did not account for sources of health hazards other than oil and gas activity. The scientists behind the study previously admitted that the sample size used for their study was too small and that the chief assumption used for the research model was “totally impractical.”

The enviros will trumpet the initial paper to the heavens but will they utter anything about this retraction? Thought not. Does not fit the narrative - these people would not recognize a scientific fact if it hit them in the face.

About that fracking pollution

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Turns out - not so much. From Retraction Watch:

Authors retract study that found pollution near fracking sites
The authors of two environmental papers, including one about the effects of fracking on human health, have retracted them after discovering crucial mistakes.

One of the studies reported an increased level of air pollution near gas extraction sites, and the other suggested that 2010’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico contributed to air contamination.

According to the corresponding author of both papers, Kim Anderson at Oregon State University, the journal plans to publish new versions of both papers in the next few days. In the case of the fracking paper, the conclusions have been reversed — the original paper stated pollution levels exceeded limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for lifetime cancer risk, but the corrected data set the risks below EPA levels.

More at the site including links to the actual data - those two papers are so busted but they continue to be cited as evidence.

The poor efficiency of these is something that people are more than willing to sweep under the rug so that they can enjoy unencumbered virtue signalling.

Gwyn Morgan writes at the Toronto, CA The Globe and Mail and schools a Tesla driver:

Why electric cars are not as ‘green’ as they may seem
On a recent trip to Hawaii, we were surprised when the car service sent a beautiful Tesla Model S to pick us up at the airport. As we drove to our accommodations, the driver waxed enthusiastically about how proud he was to be driving a “zero-emissions” vehicle. This prompted me to ask him a series of questions, starting with what powers the car? When he replied “electricity,” I asked how that electricity was generated. Looking up at the windmills spinning on the ridges above us, he said, “Those windmills, I guess.”

I informed him that Hawaii’s 100-plus windmills generate only 5 per cent of the state’s power. The other 95 per cent comes from carbon-emissions-intensive, diesel-fueled power plants. Then I gave him a short physics lesson explaining the scientific axiom that, each time an energy source is changed to another form, an “efficiency loss” occurs.

The largest loss comes when the diesel is burned in the power plant and the electricity is sent to Tesla’s charging station. Once the car is plugged in, the next efficiency loss occurs when the battery charger converts the AC electricity to chemical energy stored in the battery. The final efficiency loss occurs when that chemical energy is converted to DC power and delivered to the electric motors driving the wheels.

Combined, these efficiency losses consume some 75 per cent of the energy originally contained in the diesel fuel, leaving just 25 per cent to power the Tesla.

There was a lot more at the article but The Globe and Mail uses a paywall - I will no longer willingly visit their site and their advertisers will no longer receive page-views from me.

Environmental groups have drifted away from their original charter and are now doing severe harm under the guise of saving the planet. From USA Today:

The red hands of Greenpeace
More than 100 Nobel laureates have come together to sign a letter accusing Greenpeace of "crimes against humanity" for the environmental group's anti-scientific stand against genetically modified organisms, in particular the group's effort to stop the use of a kind of rice aimed at eradicating vitamin A deficiency, a scourge that has killed millions in the last decade and blinded tens of millions more. The victims, according to the World Health Organization, are mostly children and pregnant mothers.

While dozens of the 107 Nobel Prize-winning signers are in fields such as physics and economics with little specific relevance to the safety of GMO foods or efforts to fight deadly global health threats, 41 of the Nobel laureates hold the distinction for their work in medicine. They represent Nobel winners from virtually every year from 1989 to 2014.

In the past, Greenpeace has blithely ignored the views of scientists, such as those convened by the National Academy of Sciences, who have repeatedly found genetically-modified food perfectly safe for humans and the environment.

But this letter will be harder to ignore. The scientists essentially accuse the globally-influential environmental group of allowing "one or two million preventable deaths" in impoverished regions of the world to continue year after year based on a stubborn refusal to listen to the facts.

Greenpeace started off doing good work - their findings were based on hard science and not rhetoric. I worked for a few years at their Seattle office when I first moved from Boston in 1982. Quit them in 1986 when they were starting to get into the anti-nuclear and anti-any-kind-of-energy rhetoric. Their leadership had been taken over by cultural marxists and the scientists were jumping ship.

Their co-founder - Dr. Patrick Moore - wrote a wonderful essay earlier in June:  THE POSITIVE IMPACT OF HUMAN CO2 EMISSIONS ON THE SURVIVAL OF LIFE ON EARTH (PDF)

Greenpeace needs to be pounded down to the pavement. They need to have their funding severely cut until they get back to their roots and start doing science again.

Great news from the court system

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Yesterday, I heard that the Supreme Court struck down Obama's immigration plans. Now this - from the New York Times:

Obama Fracking Rule Is Struck Down by Court
A federal judge on Tuesday night struck down an Obama administration regulation on the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for oil and gas on public lands, a blow to President Obama’s muscular stand on the extraction of fossil fuels on government lands.

A bit more:

Judge Scott W. Skavdahl of Federal District Court in Wyoming ruled that the Interior Department lacked the authority from Congress to issue the regulation, and also noted that fracking was already subject to other regulations under state and federal law.

The decision comes amid a heated political debate over fracking, which involves the injection of water, gravel and chemicals underground to extract oil and gas. The technology has produced an oil and gas boom in the United States, but environmentalists say fracking can contaminate groundwater and lead to the leaking of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

The blocked rule would not have affected most fracking operations in the United States, since it would have applied only to fracking on federal lands. The vast majority of fracking in the United States — almost 90 percent — is done on state and private land and is governed by state and local regulations. The rule was unlikely to have stopped most new fracking on public lands, although oil and gas companies complained that it could have slowed operations by creating burdensome paperwork.

This is a very good ruling. Most of the people who do not like fracking are unaware of the history or the scale. Fracking is not a new technology - it has been done sucessfully since 1862. The reason it was not widespread at that time is that there were other wells that produced without the added expense. Now that the low hanging fruit has been harvested, we are revisiting this technology. As for scale, most groundwater happens in the first two hundred feet. Most oil and gas wells are more than 5,000 feet deep - the idea that you are going to routinley contaminate drinking water is absurd. Yes, there are cases where methane does contaminate drinking water and these instances have been trumpeted to the media as examples of fracking contamination but they are just natural seeps and have nothing to do with the extraction happening nearby.

We need to stop Barry's plan:

Wolves in Yellowstone

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An older video but still a classic - every ecosystem is profoundly interlinked:

There is a move here to reintroduce Grizzly Bears - I am in favor but this needs to be done in deep deep backcountry and carefully monitored for rogues. I have seen the damage than a curious Grizzly can do - opening a car as though it was a cardboard box, scratching through the side of a cabin while looking for food. I dearly love them but they really need their space...

Greenpeace has used the legal system for years to damage resource extraction companies (oil, timber, mining, etc...) Now the shoe is on the other foot - from Forest Industry:

Resolute Files Racketeering Suit Against Greenpeace in U.S. Federal Court
Resolute Forest Products Inc. (NYSE: RFP) announced a federal lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia against Greenpeace International, Greenpeace USA, Greenpeace Fund, Inc., STAND (formerly ForestEthics) and a number of their associates. The complaint included federal racketeering claims and racketeering, trademark, defamation and tortious interference claims under Georgia law.

These alleged claims arise from, among other things, Greenpeace's self-described "Resolute: Forest Destroyer" campaign falsely accusing Resolute of, among other things: (a) "destroying endangered forests," and "operating and sourcing wood . . . in violation of law"; (b) causing the "destruction of endangered species" and "critical caribou habitat" and risking a "Caribou Herd Death Spiral," "extirpation" and "extinction;" (c) "abandoning" and "impoverishing" the Boreal's indigenous communities; and (d) impairing the Boreal's ability to mitigate climate change.

The complaint describes in detail the falsity of these and other malicious and defamatory accusations. Among other things, the complaint explains that far from being a "forest destroyer," Resolute has planted well over a billion trees in the Boreal – which is a billion more than Greenpeace – and is responsible for virtually no permanent lost forest acreage. The complaint also demonstrates that Resolute also has not impaired the Boreal's ability to absorb greenhouse gases, and, instead, has improved that ability through harvesting and forestation as recognized and encouraged by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Nor has Resolute abandoned, exploited or impoverished First Nations or other communities within the Boreal forest, but instead – and again unlike Greenpeace – has created and sustained substantial benefits for these peoples through shared economic participation in the forestry business. The complaint also details how, to support its false accusations, Greenpeace has fabricated evidence and events, including, for example, staged photos falsely purporting to show Resolute logging in prohibited areas and as having harvested areas that were actually impacted by fire.

There is a website for this lawsuit: Resolute v Greenpeace - much more at that site.

From the International Business Times:

Congressmen Defending ExxonMobil Against Investigation Received Almost $100,000 From Company
Exxon has a lot of friends in Congress, but they didn’t come cheap. A study from the Public Accountability Initiative finds 13 members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology collectively have received at least $98,270 in contributions from ExxonMobil employees and political action committees connected to the company.

Those same 13 committee members, all of them Republican, recently launched a counterinquiry into an investigation scrutinizing whether Exxon deliberately misled the public over the reality of climate change. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched the investigation into Exxon in November; in March he was joined by attorneys general from five other states, plus the attorney general for the Virgin Islands.

Just business as usual - hope their constituants remember this when they are up for election. Another argument for term limits for our congresscritters...

Windmills are horrible at killing birds and bats and our government is not batting an eye because alt.energy 'ya know. Here are just a few links to the data:

This image caught my eye - so true:

20160510-bird.jpg

From England's The Sunday Times:

Eco-vehicles fill air with deadly toxins
Scientists have found electric, hybrid and other supposedly eco-friendly cars produce as much toxic particulate pollution as the “deadly diesels” they are meant to be replacing.

And the article does not mention the pollution from electricity generation. Nuclear power please - faster!

People are trying to attach climate change to the massive Fort McMurray wildfire - from the New Yorker:

Fort McMurray and the Fires of Climate Change

In reality, this is just another classic application of Hanlon's razor:

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity

From Eric Worrall writing at Watts Up With That:

Fort McMurray Wildfire – Climate or Incompetence?
The climate vultures are gathering – already attempts are being made to link the out of control Fort McMurray wildfire in Alberta, Canada with “climate change”. But there is something about this disaster which caught my eye – a comment which may hint to a very different reason, why the Fort McMurray wildfire is so out of control.

Eric then quotes from this article at Canada's GlobalNews.ca:

Here:

“The boreal forest is a fire-dependant ecosystem. The spruce trees, pine trees, they like to burn,” Bernie Schmitte, forestry manager in Fort McMurray, explained.

“They have to burn to regenerate themselves, and those species have adapted themselves to fire. Their cones have adapted so they open up after the fire has left, and the trees have adapted in that once they’re old and need to be replaced, they’re available to fire so they burn.”

And here:

Officials said that as long as it remains safe to do so, firefighters would be working with bulldozers through the night to construct a fire break between the tip of the fire and Highway 63.

Eric then comments:

Australians like myself also sometimes face serious risk from wildfires, our forests are also “fire-dependent ecosystems”. It is normal to attempt to cut new emergency firebreaks during a severe fire, to try to prevent further spread. But an emergency firebreak is no substitute for properly maintained firebreaks which were created before the wildfire strikes.

He then quotes from this article at the Edmonton Journal:

Alberta’s aging forests increase risk of ‘catastrophic fires’: 2012 report
“Wildfire suppression has significantly reduced the area burned in Alberta’s boreal forest. However, due to reduced wildfire activity, forests of Alberta are aging, which ultimately changes ecosystems and is beginning to increase the risk of large and potentially costly catastrophic wildfires.”

Eric closes with these two paragraphs:

Understaffed, under-resourced forestry workers struggling to contain a growing risk of wildfire, a risk which has been exacerbated by excessive fire suppression causing a buildup of flammables, is a recipe for disaster.

Did Alberta authorities act, and act effectively, on the recommendations of committee? I don’t know the answer to that question. It is possible weather conditions are so severe, even completely reasonable forest safety measures have been overwhelmed by the ferocity of the fire. But if my property and life was directly affected by the current ongoing conflagration, my first question to Alberta authorities would not be “why didn’t you build more wind turbines?”.

Much more at the site and the two linked articles. This is a very similar situation to the catastrophic Yellowstone fire of 1988. The policy there had been to surpress any and all forest fires and this led to an aging forest with a huge fire loading. One spark and we had the largest forest fire in recorded history.

A project of the American Prairie Reserve - from their Mission and Values page:

MISSION
Our mission is to create the largest nature reserve in the continental United States, a refuge for people and wildlife preserved forever as part of America’s heritage.

VALUES
As a Board and staff, we run our business each and every day following the principles outlined in our six values. In our interactions with one another and with those outside our organization, including our donors, our partners and the community around the Reserve, we do our best to act in accordance with these values. We share them with you here because we believe they are a window into our organization and our culture.

Much more at the site - this is American Entrepreneurship at work.

The website for the beef is here Wild Sky Beef

Speaking truth to power

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Literally - economic development in the third world is dependent on cheap plentiful electricity. From Dawn:

Poor nations light their way without Kyoto caps
ZANDSPRUIT (South Africa): Stanley Diphofa is happy to be hooked up to South Africa’s power grid. And he’s not worried by the fact that the massive coal-fired stations which power it emit large quantities of greenhouse gases blamed for climate change.

“If you have no electricity, you have no business,” he said outside his modest computer service centre — housed in a corrugated iron shed — on the edge of a crowded squatter camp just north of Johannesburg.

One section of the camp has been hooked up to electricity; the other half desperately wants to be plugged in.

“Electricity makes a huge difference. You can cook, iron, study at night,” said Bongani Dyala, a high school student who lives in a shack in the part of the camp with no power.

The government is keen to roll out more power services to millions of poor black South Africans and it does not want to commit itself to greenhouse gas emission cuts under the United Nations’ Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

The environmentalists are ruining it for everyone else trying to get ahead in their lives. CO2 is not a bad gas - it is essential for photosynthesis and we are seeing an increase in yield per acre in farmland production directly from the increase.

The Japanese Earthquakes

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The two quakes from this weekend caused much more than just building damage. Here are four photographs:

20160418-ja-quake01.jpg

That highway is going to be blocked for at least a week if not more. How are the people going to get fresh food?

20160418-ja-quake02.jpg

Same story - they are working on it now but how many other towns are still cut off.

20160418-ja-quake03.jpg

Here, the slide is under the roadbed - even more tricky to repair. They are going to have to totally rebuild that section of road - it is not a mater of just scraping some rocks off the surface.

20160418-ja-quake04.jpg

Not impacting a road but what if this river feeds some town's water supply? What contingency plans do they have in place to provide potable water for the next month or two?

It is not a matter of if - it is a matter of when.

Tip of the hat to the American Geophysical Union - landslide blog

An insider tells it like it is - from Investor's Business Daily:

Another Climate Alarmist Admits Real Motive Behind Warming Scare
Fraud: While the global warming alarmists have done a good job of spreading fright, they haven’t been so good at hiding their real motivation. Yet another one has slipped up and revealed the catalyst driving the climate scare.

And the real push behind all the hype:

Have doubts? Then listen to the words of former United Nations climate official Ottmar Edenhofer:

“One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with the environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole,” said Edenhofer, who co-chaired the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change working group on Mitigation of Climate Change from 2008 to 2015.

So what is the goal of environmental policy?

“We redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy,” said Edenhofer.

So-called Watermelon environmentalists - green on the outside, bright red on the inside. Communism has always failed spectacularly but there are still people hungry for the power at the top that it brings. Living large on the backs of the struggling workers.

Much more at the site - links to interviews and quotes from other people.

Time to turn all the lights on

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From the Seattle station KIRO - Jesse Jones writes:

Seattle goes dark for Earth Hour 2016
Thousands of locations across the globe will go dark for about an hour on Saturday to raise awareness for the impact of energy use on climate change.

The effort is summed up in a movement called the ‘Earth Hour’ campaign, organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

The group is urging local families and organizations to turn out their lights and refrain from using any unnecessary electronics from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., local time.

The WWF calls it a ‘commitment to the planet’.

commitment to the planet? Give me a break. The planet is doing fantastically well. The very idea that we have the power to dramatically alter it is pure fscking hubris. The Earth is huge and most people have zero conception of just how huge it is. You could take the entire Earth's population, move them to Texas and the population density would be one third that of New York's Manhattan.

Feeling tired tonight otherwise I would go out to the shop and fire up the welder for a while.

From the Belfast, Ireland Telegraph:

Tsunami warning buoys failed as powerful earthquake hit Indonesia
All 22 tsunami warning buoys installed near vulnerable islands failed to work when a powerful earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesian officials said.

The buoys were inoperable because of vandalism or a lack of funds for operation and maintenance, Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

About the buoy network:

German and Indonesian scientists began installing warning buoys off Sumatra island a year after a magnitude-9.1 quake in 2004 triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

Geezz - vandalism I can see. A tempting target for the lone fishing boat looking for a light or battery. Poor maintenance is unreal - these people are dealing with a system that saves lives. They lost 230K people eleven years ago. Heads need to roll on this one.

A potential for disaster in Iraq

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Infrastructure - from England's The Guardian:

Mosul dam engineers warn it could fail at any time, killing 1m people
Iraqi engineers involved in building the Mosul dam 30 years ago have warned that the risk of its imminent collapse and the consequent death toll could be even worse than reported.

They pointed out that pressure on the dam’s compromised structure was building up rapidly as winter snows melted and more water flowed into the reservoir, bringing it up to its maximum capacity, while the sluice gates normally used to relieve that pressure were jammed shut.

The Iraqi engineers also said the failure to replace machinery or assemble a full workforce more than a year after Islamic State temporarily held the dam means that the chasms in the porous rock under the dam were getting bigger and more dangerous every day.

On Wednesday, the Iraqi government announced it had signed a €273m (£210m) contract with an Italian contractor to reinforce and maintain the Mosul dam for 18 months, following talks in New York between the Italian foreign minister, Paolo Gentiloni, and US and Iraqi officials. Italy has said it plans to send 450 troops to protect the dam site, but it is unclear how long it will take to replace damaged machinery and reassemble the required workforce.

Yikes! A bit more:

Nasrat Adamo, the dam’s former chief engineer who spent most of his professional career shoring it up in the face of fundamental flaws in its construction, said that the structure would only survive with round-the-clock work with teams filling in holes in the porous bedrock under the structure, a process known as grouting. But that level of maintenance, dating back to just after the dam’s construction in 1984, evaporated after the Isis occupation.

“We used to have 300 people working 24 hours in three shifts but very few of these workers have come back. There are perhaps 30 people there now,” Adamo said in a telephone interview from Sweden, where he works as a consultant.

“The machines for grouting have been looted. There is no cement supply. They can do nothing. It is going from bad to worse, and it is urgent. All we can do is hold our hearts.”

At the same time as the bedrock is getting weaker and more porous, the water pressure on the dam is building as spring meltwater flows into the reservoir behind it. Giant gates that would normally be used to ease the pressure by allowing water to run through are stuck.

For all that we consider the infrastructure in the USA to be failing, others have it a lot worse.

I had written about it here and here. Now this from Inhabitat:

Damage report reveals LA methane leak is one of the worst disasters in US history
A week after the ruptured natural gas well in Aliso Canyon was finally declared sealed, we have a full account of the environmental damage — and it doesn’t look good. A new paper published in the journal Science declared it to be one of the largest environmental disasters in US history. In total, 97,100 metric tons of methane were released into the atmosphere over the course of 112 days, equal to the greenhouse gas emissions of over half a million cars.

A bit more - measurements made from airplanes high above the site:

The levels of airborne methane were so high that the Conley’s team assumed there was something wrong with their instruments — the background concentration of methane in the air is typically about 2 parts per million, but the aircraft registered concentrations as high as 50-60 ppm. It wasn’t until researchers tested levels on the ground using a different instrument that they realized the frightening readings were accurate.

But of course, this was just a one-off fluke - never happen again in a million years:

Perhaps the most worrying finding is this: the Aliso Canyon leak is unlikely to be an isolated incident.  The leak in question began due to an old, 1950s-era pipe that had never been upgraded to incorporate a safety valve. It was an entirely avoidable failure, and one that could happen again — the Aliso Canyon facility alone contains 115 other wells which could potentially fail, and there are around 400 other underground natural gas storage facilities across the US, many of which also contain old, deteriorating pipes. If we want to prevent another disastrous gas leak like the one that happened in California, the federal government is going to have to step up and start regulating the industry.

The Federal Government is going to have to step up and start regulating the industry. Don't these words just send chills up your spine. Who better to regulate the industry than the flawless EPA. Yikes!

The Science article is behind a paywall. Here is a link to the abstract: Methane emissions from the 2015 Aliso Canyon blowout in Los Angeles, CA

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