EPA defends planned rules over power concerns

The Obama administration is defending its plans to crack down on industrial pollution after a report from a utility group found proposed regulations may result in tighter U.S. power supplies. The North American Electric Reliability Corp released a study on Tuesday that found four possible Environmental Protection Agency rules could "accelerate the retirement of a significant number of fossil fuel-fired power plants". Utilities may have to replace or make efficiency gains for up to 70 gigawatts, or about 7 percent, of U.S. power generation by 2015, the study said. The EPA disputed those findings on Wednesday, saying the report by the industry group relied on faulty assumptions. "By NERC's own admission, its projections about electricity supply impacts rest on its own fortune-telling about future regulations that have not even been proposed yet," EPA spokesman Brendan Gilfillan said in a statement.

Can the Railroad Come Back?

At one time riding the rails was a delightful way to travel; quick and easy as well as a reasonable and profitable way to move goods. Something happened over the last 50 years. Some people objected to railroads as unsightly. They also became crowded and in many cases run down. A new report prepared by the Worldwatch Institute and the Apollo Alliance, Global Competitiveness in the Rail and Transit Industry, draws on lessons from dominant international rail manufacturing countries to conclude that greater investment in the U.S. rail industry could revive America’s former leadership in the world rail industry—and potentially create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Business ready to trade nature services

A global coalition of about 200 companies said yesterday (26 October) that it was ready to support the introduction of a price tag on ecosystem services, in the hope that a global biodiversity panel will lay the foundations for an offset mechanism to encourage trading of nature services.

Israel and Palestine Declare War…Against Climate Change

Israel and the Palestinian Authority are among 15 Mediterranean nations who have just signed a historic agreement to work together to combat the effects of climate change, one month ahead of the next United Nations conference on climate change, meeting at Cancun in November.

British Columbia Sees Largest Salmon Run In A Century, 34 Million Strong

Sockeye salmon are making their run up the Fraser River in numbers not seen since 1913. More than 34 million salmon are reportedly in the British Columbia river system, befuddling scientists who last year tallied less than 2 million fish.

Brazil’s Amazon region suffers severe drought

A severe drought has pushed river levels in Brazil's Amazon region to record lows, leaving isolated communities dependent on emergency aid and thousands of boats stranded on parched riverbeds. The drought fits a pattern of more extreme weather in the world's largest rain forest in recent years and is, scientists say, an expected result of global warming. Last year, the region was hit by widespread flooding and in 2005 it endured a devastating drought. The level of the dark Rio Negro, a tributary to the Amazonas river and itself the world's largest black-water river, fell to 13.63 meters (45 feet) on Sunday, its lowest since records began in 1902, according to the Brazilian Geological Service. Only last year it hit a record high of 29.77 meters (98 feet).

New Truck Emission Standards and Controls

To those who drive behind diesel trucks, they know that these vehicles tend to be more slower moving and potentially smellier than other vehicles. Those who drive trucks know they are gasoline hogs (after all look at the weight they are hauling). They are a vital necessity for the US economy. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation today announced the first national standards to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve fuel efficiency of heavy-duty trucks and buses. This comprehensive proposed national program is projected to reduce GHG emissions by nearly 250 million metric tons and save 500 million barrels of oil over the lives of the vehicles produced within the program’s first five years. Truck emissions have been going down for years but this is a major step forward.

Climate Change Impacts on Mountain Plant Life

Mountains are great places to go to see nature in its most pristine state. The mountains of the northwestern United States are particularly beautiful because they are home to outstanding trees and vegetation. According to a new study, that mountain vegetation has been significantly impacted by climate change in the past 60 years. Unlike what was previously thought, ecosystems at low elevations were affected more than those at high elevations.

How Do Scientists Know a Volcano Is About to Erupt?

Mount Merapi in Indonesia is expected to erupt at any moment, and Indonesian government officials have begun to evacuate the people living in villages near the volcano. The volatile mountain's last eruption was in 2006, and two people were killed when a plume of scorching gas, rocks and volcanic ash spewed down its slopes, according to the NASA Earth Observatory.

Space tourism will worsen climate change

Have $200,000 to spend on a seat into space? You may want to re-think the expenditure given a new study in Geophysical Research Letters that shows space tourism will likely aggravate global climate change. Using sophisticated modeling, the researchers found that the biggest impact of a rise in space tourism on global temperatures won't be due to carbon emissions, but black carbon, often in the form of soot.