Transportation

US, Japan Sign Organic Products Trade Agreement

wolf-final.jpg

TESTINGJapan is the latest country to sign an organic trade agreement with the US, and the first in Asia. As of January 1, 2014 certified organic products can move freely between the US and Japan, growing markets, organic jobs across the supply chain and organic farming acreage in both countries. It makes it much easier and cheaper for organic producers to export – it relieves them from having to get organic certification separately in both countries while ensuring the organic integrity of products. The result is higher profits for producers and lower retail prices. Green tea, sake and mushrooms are currently the most popular organic exports from Japan to the US, according to the USDA. The US exports $80 million worth of organic products to Japan each year – much more than it imports. US organic exports to Japan include soybeans, cauliflower, nuts and processed products such as frozen meals. USDA estimates this agreement could more than triple those sales to $250 million a year over the next 10 years, reports Associated Press. Equivalency agreements are signed after assessments conclude that both countries have “equivalent” programs for organic certification in terms of what it takes to get certified, managed and enforced. Although programs may not be identical, they achieve the same objectives and maintain the high-quality standards important to the integrity of both programs. Under the agreement, Japan’s Ministry […]

Read More

Fuel Cell Vehicles Get Big Push in California, Germany

hondafcxconcept1.jpg

TESTINGWhile the average person has yet to embrace hybrids, much less electric cars, some policy makers and car manufacturers are planning for their biggest bet of all – fuel cell cars that run on hydrogen. Last month, California’s legislature passed a bill (AB 8) that appropriates $2 billion to continue incentives for purchases of low-carbon vehicles through 2023 for cars, trucks, buses and construction equipment. Included in the bill is $20 million a year to build a state-wide network of hydrogen fueling stations, following through on former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s vision of a Hydrogen Highway. The goal is to install at least 100 hydrogen stations in the next few years. Currently, just 10 hydrogen stations in the US are open to the public, nine of which are in California(the other is in South Carolina). The legislation will create tens of thousands of jobs in California’s clean transportation tech industry and set us on a course to meet our clean air and climate goals,” says John Boesel, CEO of CALSTART. Two other recently passed pieces of legislation make electric cars much easier to charge. It requires most new buildings to have charging stations and makes it possible for people to charge their cars at any of them. Germany Too Meanwhile in Germany, Daimler is joining with five oil companies and industrial gas […]

Read More

Please Help Wolves, Good News for Sharks, Tuna

wolf-final.jpg

TESTINGWe’ve been reporting on the decimation of wolf populations in the lower 48 states since Representatives from Idaho and Montano slipped in language as amendments to the2011 Budget bill. For the first time, political motivations overruled science – and wolves were removed from the Endangered Species Act with their “management” turned back to the states: Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and the Great Lakes states. Since then, it’s been open season on wolves – brutally killing pups, moms and entire families.  About 1500 wolves have been murdered after decades of government action to coax their return from near extinction. And that’s from a population high of 350 wolves in Wyoming, 625 in Montana – about 1600 in the Rockies states – and about 4000 in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.  Wolves had returned to just 5% of their original range. States are required to maintain a population of at least 150 wolves, including 15 breeding pairs, to prevent being put back on the Endangered Species List. Because of public outrage, the Fish & Wildlife Service has agreed to hold public hearings on their plan to remove wolves from the Endangered Species List in all lower 48 states. If you care about wolves and the critical role they play in healthy ecosystems, please either attend a meeting (or tell your friends) […]

Read More

EPA Girds For Fallout, Issues Regs for New Power Plants

wolf-final.jpg

TESTINGToday, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its second try at carbon regulations for new power plants, after going back to the drawing board last year. These would be the first rules that address carbon dioxide as a pollutant – ordered by the Supreme Court years ago under the Clean Air Act, but since then the subject of endless lawsuits andlegislation from the fossil fuel lobby – all of which EPA won. The fight now begins again. EPA’s proposed rules only limit carbon pollution from new power plants – rules for existing power plants, which are way more important, come out by next June. Under the rules, new coal plants can’t emit more than 1100 pounds of carbon per megawatt-hour. They have the option of meeting somewhat tighter limits if they choose to average emissions over multiple years, giving them more operational flexibility. New large natural gas-fired plants are limited to emitting 1,000 pounds of carbon per megawatt-hour and small plants have a 1100 pound limit. All these standards do is ensure that new power plants are built with current best technology, the same requirement for all industries except the power sector – which produces 40% of US carbon emissions, the nation’s biggest source. Plants can even phase in technologies, says EPA. While the EPA places limits on emissions of arsenic, mercury and […]

Read More

Google Buys Entire Output of Texas Wind Farm

wolf-final.jpg

TESTINGIn its latest renewable energy buy, Google is buying the entire output – 240 megawatts – of Happy Hereford wind farm near Amarillo, Texas. “As part of our quest to power our operations with 100% renewable energy … this is our largest commitment yet; we’ve now contracted for more than 570 MW of wind energy, which is enough energy to power approximately 170,000 U.S. households,” says Google’s blog. Under current policies, which Google is working on changing, it can’t consume the energy directly, it has to get if from the grid where Google’s Oklahoma data center is located. Happy Hereford is being developed by a small Native American-owned Chermac Energy, and comes online next year. Earlier this year, Google invested in another Texas wind farm, its 11th renewable energy project. Altogether, Google’s renewable energy investments add up to 2 gigawatts of power at a cost of over $1 billion, just since 2010. Besides purchasing power and taking stakes in projects, the company invests in promising companies in solar and geothermal and even buys firms with potentially breakthrough technologies, such as Makani Power. $280 million from Google created SolarCity’s largest fund for residential solar installation. This year, Google tied for first place (with Cisco Systems) for leading the tech industry on addressing climate change. Its investments include some of the biggest, most important projects in the US: the Atlantic Wind Connection, a critical backbone for offshore […]

Read More

Not Surprisingly, Copenhagen Wins 2014 Green Capital Award

wolf-final.jpg

TESTINGNot surprising, Copenhagen has been named Europe’s Green Capital for 2014 by the European Commission, and also received the 2013 INDEX Award – the world’s largest design award – for the sustainable design solutions in its climate plan. Copenhagen’s goal is to be the world’s first carbon neutral capital city by 2025 and completely independent of fossil fuels by 2050. Green living is at the core for its 540,000 residents, from itsbicycle culture to farm-to-table cuisine. The city has over 100 hundred miles of bike lanes and 55% of citizens commute by bike. It mandates green roofs on all new developments and over 60% of its land is cultivated for farming, making local foods second nature. Its citizens eat more organic food than anywhere else. 63% of hotel rooms are green-certified and Scandinavian Airlines aims to cut emissions 20% by 2020, one of the few airlines that even has a target. Denmark’s biggest offshore wind farm just came online – the 400 MW offshore wind farm will provide 4% of the country’s electricity, adding to the 30% that wind already contributes. The goal is for renewables to provide 50% by 2020. Denmark is one of 10 countries that recently formed the international “Renewables Club” to scale renewable energy worldwide. Neighboring Sweden is also a leader, with goals of eliminating fossil fuels to produce electricity by 2020 and gasoline cars by 2030. In 2009, Sweden launched the world’s […]

Read More