Sep 21 2012

Twitter Link Round-Up: Makers of Pink Slime Sue and Elephant Slaughter on the Rise

Published by under News

Photo by Kelci Block

Afraid you missed something interesting in the world of environmental law?  Read on for a (non-comprehensive) list of articles posted on our Twitter feed @WMELSBlog.

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Aug 27 2012

Sea Ice Melt Should Turn Up the Heat on the Climate Change Debate

Published by under Climate Change

Romney on the campaign trail

This summer has been marked by a lot of record-breaking, and not just at the Olympics. In addition to Michael Phelp’s medals, America has experienced record high temperatures, record depletion of pastureland, and a record number of wildfires. Today, the Earth hit a new record:  record sea ice melt.

Thought the consequences of this newest record are far less immediate than wildfires or droughts, for long-term effects, sea ice cover is an important indicator of what’s in store for the future. One of the major challenges in stopping climate change is that scientists are unsure when we reach a “point of no return” where the ecological momentum towards a drastically changed planet is too strong to stop or even slow by reducing the human contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.  Sea ice melt is one of the drivers of that momentum.

Here’s The Guardian on the significance of sea ice:

The consequences of losing the Arctic’s ice coverage for the summer months are expected to be immense. If the white sea ice no longer reflects sunlight back into space, the region can be expected to heat up even more than at present. This could lead to an increase in ocean temperatures with unknown effects on weather systems in northern latitudes.

So record low sea ice is a serious milestone. But as climate change gets more serious, the discourse about it gets less so. Just last week, presumptive Presidential candidate Mitt Romney released his energy plan announcing that he would achieve North American energy independence by 2020. How would Romney achieve such an ambitious (to say the least) goal? No one should be surprised that his answer is to open more drilling and remove credits for wind power. Though Obama is better on policy, even he has been studiously avoiding any mention of climate change on the campaign trail.

Despite the very real and immediate problems we are experiencing because of climate change, our politicians seem content to pretend it doesn’t exist and, in Romney’s case, attempt to move us backwards from what meager advances we’ve made toward sustainable energy production. Meanwhile, the planet continues to warm, approaching the point of no return. This new record has only highlighted how close that point is, if we’re haven’t crossed it already, and makes it more imperative than ever that climate change not disappear from the political discourse.

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Feb 17 2012

Twitter Link Round-Up: Colorado’s Roadless Rule and Two-Headed Trout

Published by under News

Photo by Kelci Block

Afraid you missed something interesting in the world of environmental law?  Read on for a (non-comprehensive) list of articles posted on our Twitter feed @WMELSBlog.

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Oct 14 2011

Twitter Link Round-Up: New Zealand Oil Spill News and Modern Agriculture’s Effect on the Environment is Examined

Published by under News

Photo by Kelci Block

Afraid you missed something interesting in the world of environmental law?  Read on for a (non-comprehensive) list of articles posted on our Twitter feed @WMELSBlog.

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Aug 12 2011

Twitter Link Round-Up: EPA Halts Sale of Tree-Killing Chemical and Fracking Panel Calls for Study of Environmental Impacts

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Ophrys apifera, flower Picture taken by BerndH, via wikimedia

Afraid you missed something interesting in the world of environmental law?  Read on for a (non-comprehensive) list of articles posted on our Twitter feed @WMELSBlog.

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Feb 09 2011

Atlantic Wind Connection: Offshore Wind Energy Infrastructure

Published by under Energy

Off shore wind turbines bathed in mist and warm autumnal sunshine. The turbines are located on Burbo Bank about 4 miles offshore, via wikimedia

A friend of mine, an attorney who works in the field of law that governs energy infrastructure regulation and development, recently called the Mid-Atlantic coastline[1]the “Persian Gulf of Wind Energy”.  This might sound like a substantial overstatement, but after taking a closer look at the current state of offshore wind energy on the Atlantic coast it is clear that it truly can be viewed as such.  Off shore wind energy is in a nascent stage in the US, but the influx of various state and federal grants, newly proposed regulations and legislation, and the array of proposed wind farms suggest that the industry is quickly picking up speed.

One recent proposal is shifting the focus from wind farms to wind-energy transmission lines.  Realizing the immense possibilities of successfully tapping into the abundant source of wind on the continental shelf (estimated around 60,000 MW), Google along with several other partners- including TransElect, DC Connections, and Dewey LeBoeuf- have proposed a massive transmission line project.  Before reviewing the specific goals of the Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC), it is beneficial to perform a cursory overview of several recent offshore wind projects.

New Jersey and Massachusetts have set themselves at the forefront of this ‘movement’.  The southern Massachusetts coast, specifically off of Cape Cod and Nantucket, offers consistent and strong winds.  Cape Wind is pushing to become America’s first offshore wind farm.  Several miles from the nearest shore, Cape Wind is proposing a 130 turbine farm in the Nantucket Sound, to “gracefully harness the wind to produce up to 420 megawatts of clean, renewable energy.” According to estimates, “in average winds, Cape Wind will provide three quarters of the Cape and Islands electricity needs.”[2] Continue Reading »

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