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[1THING] Blog: Archive for June, 2013

[ It’s our 1Thing for July….Chesapeake Bay Foundation ]

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

http://www.cbf.org/

Our Vision
The Chesapeake Bay and its tributary rivers, broadly recognized as a national treasure, will be highly productive and in good health as measured by established water quality standards. The result will be clear water, free of impacts from toxic contaminants, and with healthy oxygen levels. Natural filters on both the land and in the water will provide resilience to the entire Chesapeake Bay system and serve as valuable habitat for both terrestrial and aquatic life.

osprey

The Chesapeake Bay is an estuary, a body of water formed where freshwater from rivers and streams flows into the ocean, mixing with sea water.
But when we speak of “saving the Bay” we are not speaking only of saving the 200-mile-long estuary that runs from Havre de Grace, Maryland to Norfolk, Virginia.
We are also speaking of the 50 major rivers and streams that pour into the bay each day, and the creeks that feed those rivers and streams. We are talking about the roughly 64,000 square mile watershed covered with forests, farms, and wildlife habitat; cities and suburbs; waste water treatment plants and heavy industry. A watershed that starts as far north as New York and runs through six states and the District of Columbia on its way to the ocean.
– See more at: http://www.cbf.org/about-the-bay/more-than-just-the-bay#sthash.kvPy6mUa.dpuf

As the saying goes, “everything flows downstream.” If we are to “save the Bay” we must also save the hundreds of waterways that flow into it. Hundreds of waterways from New York to Virginia have been listed on the Clean Water Act’s “dirty waters” list. Not only do they have a negative effect on local communities, they also contribute to the Bay’s ills.
We can “save the Bay” only if we clean up our local creeks, streams, and rivers.
Seventeen-million people live, work, and play in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and each one directly affects the Bay. What will your impact be?

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The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and its members, more than 200,000 strong, are the strongest and most effective voice that exists for protecting and restoring the Bay and its rivers and streams. We work at local, state, and federal levels for effective laws and regulations that will reduce pollution, restore vital natural systems like oyster reefs, forests, and wetlands, and encourage smart growth in our communities.
CBF acts as a watchdog to elevate good practices for healing our waterways, while being vigilant in opposing projects or proposals that would degrade water quality. Our scientists submit comments to governing bodies regarding fisheries management, wetlands mitigation, stormwater issues, construction and development projects and more. CBF is a well-respected resource on environmental issues that impact the Chesapeake Bay, its rivers, and streams.
To donate to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation or become a member visit http://www.cbf.org/donate-landing

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[ Biofuels at a Crossroads Forum Probes Key Climate Change Question ]

When President Obama unveiled his long-awaited climate change strategy this week, he never mentioned biofuels. (See “Obama Unveils Climate Strategy.”) But with nearly a third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions due to burning petroleum for transportation, a key and controversial question is what role plant-based alternatives can play in cutting the nation’s carbon emissions.

As part of National Geographic’s Great Energy Challenge initiative, we brought together two dozen experts from industry, academia, and environmental organizations to discuss whether biofuel can be a sustainable part of a cleaner energy future. (See in-depth coverage at Biofuels at a Crossroads, and vote and comment here: The Big Energy Question: Are Biofuels Worth the Investment?“) The forum Wednesday at National Geographic’s Washington, D.C. headquarters was timely, not just because the group convened the day after the President’s long-awaited climate speech.

It also came at a time that U.S. biofuels policy is under fire, as petroleum refiners are leading an effort to roll back the mandate (the Renewable Fuel Standard) that gradually increasing volumes of biofuels be blended into the U.S. transportation fuel mix.

Thanks to that policy begun in 2005, ethanol made from corn now makes up about 10 percent of U.S. gasoline consumption by volume; it’s one of the reasons that U.S. gasoline demand has fallen 6 percent from its peak in 2007. But it’s not clear that today’s biofuels can (or should) grow further.

For one thing, the vast majority of vehicles on U.S. highways today were not designed by automakers to run on a high volume of ethanol, even though the technology for flexible fuel vehicles is well-known and inexpensive. Most of the autos sold in Brazil are flex fuel, which has helped that nation do more than any other to give motorists a choice of fuel beyond gasoline. (See related, “Brazil Ethanol Looks to Sweeten More Gas Tanks.”)

But then there are the far thornier issues of food, water, and land. More than 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop is going to make ethanol and ethanol by-products (About one-third of each bushel dry-processed for ethanol is turned into livestock feed product.) Since most of the U.S. corn crop is rain-fed, drought is a risk, and the irrigation required is heavy in some areas. (See related, “Water Demand for Energy to Double by 2035,” and “Drought Withers U.S. Corn Crop, Heats Debate on Ethanol.”) Even more difficult is the indirect land impact issue: whether the increasing use of grain for fuel has prompted other nations to destroy valuable rainforest ecosystems for agriculture to make up for lost U.S. exports.

Any effort to undo the U.S. mandate on biofuels, however, would affect more than corn ethanol. It would also unravel the incentives that were meant to spur the development of more environmentally friendly alternative biofuels made from feedstocks like waste, grasses, and wood chips. (See related: “Beyond Ethanol: Drop-In Biofuels Squeeze Gasoline From Plants.”) Although cellulosic biofuel has not come on line as quickly as hoped, the first plants are opening, with thermo-chemical and biotechnology processes showing promise. Yet the industry’s future is precarious due to lack of capital and lenders willing to take a risk on the technology.

That’s why we brought together some of the leading thinkers on this complex issue for our forum, Big Energy Question: Biofuels at a Crossroads. You can read some of their comments and see photo coverage of the forum above.

What do you think about biofuels? Vote and comment here: The Big Energy Question: Are Biofuels Worth the Investment?

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[ Leaders across Colorado endorse Colorado’s Million Solar Roofs Campaign ]

Leaders from government, business and non-profit sectors joined together Thursday to endorse Colorado’s Million Solar Roofs campaign and support the vision that Colorado can get 10 percent of its energy from solar by 2030 – up from less than 1 percent today.

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[ Global Renewable Energy On Track to Soon Eclipse Natural Gas, Nuclear ]

Renewable power sources are increasingly cost-competitive, and demand for them is growing globally.

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[ Global Renewable Energy On Track to Soon Eclipse Natural Gas, Nuclear ]

Renewable power sources are increasingly cost-competitive, and demand for them is growing globally.

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[ Obama Unveils Climate Change Strategy: End of Line for U.S. Coal Power ]

President Obama announced his long-awaited climate change policy: more clean energy, wasting less energy, and the first ever limits on carbon pollution from coal plants.

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[ Obama Unveils Climate Change Strategy: End of Line for U.S. Coal Power ]

President Obama announced his long-awaited climate change policy: more clean energy, wasting less energy, and the first ever limits on carbon pollution from coal plants.

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[ Beyond Ethanol: Drop-In Biofuels Squeeze Gasoline From Plants ]

The first commercial cellulosic biofuel plant aims to turn Mississippi wood chips into diesel fuel and gasoline that are chemically identical to petroleum products. Can homegrown “drop-in” biofuels transform transportation?

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[ Beyond Ethanol: Drop-In Biofuels Squeeze Gasoline From Plants ]

The first commercial cellulosic biofuel plant aims to turn Mississippi wood chips into diesel fuel and gasoline that are chemically identical to petroleum products. Can homegrown “drop-in” biofuels transform transportation?

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[ Energy Department, NREL Launch New Research Center for Grid Integration ]

The new Energy Systems Integration Facility at the National Renewable Energy Lab is the only Energy Department user facility fo…

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