Thursday, April 29, 2010

Transmission Losses:" Military joins oil spill effort

"The US military has joined efforts to stop an oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico as fears rise about its scale."
The oil rig disaster off Louisiana is the top news item on the NY Times and The "transmission losses" from this one event now include not only the oil leaking and the environmental consequences, but also the costly involvement of the US military.

Same "transmission losses" when everything goes right, of course. There are always leaks, though not at this scale. There is always the US military, ensuring safe passage for tankers in another gulf. Now to protect our shores they are assisting industry to mitigate the mess, in this case BP. (Beyond Petroleum, really?).


"Transmission Losses:" Oil leak worsens

Government officials said late Wednesday night that oil might be leaking from a well in the Gulf of Mexico at a rate five times as large as initial estimates have suggested.
[Source: New York Times]

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

UCS proposes plug-in cars roadblock: What's wrong with Big Enviro?

With friends like these.....

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has proposed what could be a huge roadblock to the further implementation of our sensible pro-plug-in car policies. At the SAE World Congress,
Union of Concerned Scientists [Research Director of the Clean Vehicles Program] Dave Friedman stated that automakers should be responsible for the methods used to generate power for electric vehicles.'s report continues:
Toyota's director of environmental technology, Tom Stricker, was shocked by what Friedman said. Stricker responded in disbelief with, "Are you saying auto companies should be held responsible for electricity generation?" Friedman replied stating that new policies need to account for the entire energy use of a vehicle.
And that reaction was from an auto company that is taking a "go slow" approach to using grid electricity as a "fuel" for cars.

Let's be clear. Scientific studies comparing the emissions from a gas car's tailpipe and the electric car's smokestack, so to speak, range from "a wash" (all coal) to "a big win" for the electric car (natural gas, hydro, nuclear, renewables or even a combination including some coal.) Begin to account for petroleum's up-stream emissions, and we find ourselves well past no-brainer territory.

Yet here we've got a reputable enviro organization, with "science" right in it's title, that appears ready to penalize plug-in cars just as they are approaching the showroom by asking the cleaner technology to pass a hurdle never demanded of petroleum.

Big Enviro - the national Sierra Club , the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC,) and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) - have long been less than enthusiastic about plug-ins. Based on the science, they should have long ago made clear to their members and policy makers that a plug-in car driving on the grid today is cleaner than a gas car. Whether plug-in cars are available or not, this is something they know and should want people to understand. In addition, because an EV can drive as easily on renewable electricity as coal, electric points the way toward a true zero emission future that includes electricity generation and mobility.

Instead, Big Enviro has gone down the rat hole of diminishing returns. Putting their faith in perpetual tinkering with engine efficiencies and fuel mixtures along with an array of ways to perpetuate the gasoline paradigm, from biofuels to hydrogen, has left consumers and policymakers confused. Perhaps they bought into the automakers determination not to make plug-in cars, and didn't want to tilt at windmills, so to speak. Perhaps they saw their "SUV-into-the-wild"-driving membership base as a tough nut to crack for "limited range" electric cars. There are signs that bode well for Big Enviro becoming more actively supportive, including that Michael Brune, longtime supporter of plug-in cars at Rainforest Action Network, has come on as Executive Director at Sierra Club.

This will all change as plug-in electric cars hit the road. It won't be long, I suspect, before the leadership of our major environmental organizations gets with the program, as their own membership begins to drive plug-in cars. They'll begin using plug-in cars in their self-promotion, as if they've been pushing for this all along. May that day come soon.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Transmission Losses:" Oil Rig Sinks in Gulf, 11 still missing

"The oil rig off the southeast coast of Louisiana where an explosion occurred Tuesday night has collapsed into the Gulf of Mexico, a Coast Guard official said....

On Wednesday, as firefighters battled the blazing rig, Rear Adm. Mary Landry, the commander of the Coast Guard’s Eighth District, estimated that 13,000 gallons of crude were pouring out per hour. But officials said then that the pollution was considered minimal because most of the oil and gas was being burned up in the fire. (emphasis added.)...

Workers who survived the explosion arrived at a hotel here early Thursday to reunite with their families as the search for 11 missing crew members continued in the Gulf of Mexico...

Robert MacKenzie, managing director of the energy and natural resources group of FBR Capital Markets, said that in 11 years as an analyst, he could not recall another incident like this.

There are rigs that burn down, but it’s usually during the drilling process and not when the rig is close to finishing the well,” he said. (emphasis added.)
[Source: New York Times]
[Photo Credit: Reuters/U.S. Coast Guard/Handout]

Saturday, April 24, 2010

"Transmission Losses:" Oil Leaking Underwater From Well in Rig Blast

Robotic devices monitoring the deepwater well where a giant oil rig exploded and sank last week have discovered oil leaking from the well, a development that a senior Coast Guard official on Saturday called a “game changer.”...

Roughly 1,000 barrels of oil a day are estimated to be emanating from the riser, officials said....

The sheen of crude oil and water mix on the surface of the water was still more than 40 miles from shore at its closest point on Saturday. “That gives us a lot of time to try to mitigate in response to the spill,” Admiral Landry said.

The sheen had spread to a 20-by-20-mile area, Coast Guard officials said.....

High winds and 10-foot seas have prevented the oil spill response vessels from making it to the site to continue cleanup on Saturday....

On Friday, officials suspended the search-and-rescue operations for the 11 missing members of the rig’s crew...
[Source: NY Times]

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"Transmission Losses:" Oil Rig Blast in Gulf...of Mexico

Beyond Petroleum?
An explosion Tuesday night on an oil drilling rig off the coast of southeast Louisiana left at least seven people critically injured and 11 others missing....

The oil drilling rig, named Deepwater Horizon, is positioned about 50 miles southeast of Venice, La. It is owned by Transocean, a Houston-based company, and under contract to British Petroleum....

“The rig is leaning badly,” Mr. Nungesser said in an interview with WWL-TV, a New Orleans television station. He added that Coast Guard officials felt “like it may go over sometime today.”
[Source: New York Times]

Saturday, April 3, 2010

"Transmission Losses" A 2Fer - Oil and Coal

Small patches of oil were seen Sunday from a coal-carrying ship that ran aground on Australia's Great Barrier Reef....

Authorities fear an oil spill would cause environmental damage to the world's largest coral reef...

The vessel was carrying about 72,000 U.S. tons (65,000 metric tons) of coal from the Queensland port of Gladstone to China. It has 1,000 U.S. tons (950 metric tons) of oil on board.

Conservationists have expressed outrage that bulk carriers can travel through the reef without a marine pilot with local expertise.

Friday, April 2, 2010

"Transmission Losses:" 5 die in Wash. refinery blast, fire

An explosion and fire at a Washington state oil refinery shook homes and shot flames into the night sky early Friday, killing five people and critically injuring two others....

The blast was the biggest fatal refinery accident since a 2005 explosion at a BP American refinery in Texas killed 15 people and injured another 170, authorities said....

The state of Washington fined Tesoro $85,700 a year ago after an inspection found 17 serious safety and health violations at the Anacortes refinery. The state Department of Labor and Industries reached an agreement with the company in November requiring the hazards to be corrected and an independent safety audit, the agency said on its Web site. The fine was reduced to $12,250, according to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Web site....

Greg Cummings, from Abbottsford, B.C., had just gone to bed at the RV park across the bay from the refinery when he heard a loud whoosh and saw the flames.

“I thought it was a terrorist attack,” he said.....

San Antonio-based Tesoro Corp. is an independent refiner and marketer of petroleum products. The Anacortes refinery can refine about 130,000 barrels of crude daily, according to the company. The U.S. Energy Information Administration Web site ranks it as the 59th largest refinery in the nation.

Tesoro has owned the Anacortes refinery since 1998. It mainly processes Alaska North Slope crude and makes gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, mostly for Washington and Oregon....

Of the 18 open major accident cases the chemical safety board is examining, at least seven are refineries, Horowitz said. Yet there are only 150 refineries in the country and tens of thousands of other chemical plants.

“Almost half our accidents, the serious ones, are at refineries,” Horowitz said. “We’re seeing a disproportionate number of serious accidents at refineries.”

Transmission Losses: Motorist Dies in Flash Fire at Gas Station

A motorist today died today after his car caught fire on a petrol station forecourt, police said.

Firefighters said the "flash" fire had been contained inside the car and no-one else was hurt.

Police said fire was thought to have broken out shortly after the man had bought fuel and climbed into the car at a Shell garage in Guyhirn, Cambridgeshire.

"It obviously could have been much worse," said a police spokeswoman. "It seems that the fire didn't spread at all and the garage was able to reopen."
[Source: The Independent]