Climate Law Update an Injury Lawyer Resource
One consequence, of course, is that Climate Law Update will now be focused on personal injury and accident law.
Since going live Climate Law has attracted tens of thousands of visitors to its blend of journalism, analysis, and daily collections of stories from around the world of climate change and renewable energy. Often the site has been enriched by the legal acumen of many attorneys. While intended to showcase the firm as a leader in the renewable energy industry, the site has adhered to the highest standards of journalism. Its purpose was always to deliver the latest and most important information about renewable energy and issues concerning climate change.
Readers, who include attorneys, journalists and industry consultants, have rewarded Climate Law with their time and interest in the site. Thelen attorneys have also aired their views and interpretations of legal developments in the energy field via the site. News publications have called asking to interview them as expert sources.
Along the way, Climate Law also has evolved into a remarkable research tool. Through its many links, visitors can have access to literally hundreds of primary sources of information, including court filings, government reports, analyses from industry insiders and many, many other documents. Those who are involved with the site are especially proud of this public service component.
Current plans call for maintaining the site in live status at least for now, and it's possible there might be occasional updates to its postings. However, its founders, Senior Writer Jerome Lawson
If this is, indeed, the final posting for Climate Law, the folks responsible for this unique and innovative communications effort would like to thank those who have read the posts, clicked on the links, contacted our attorneys and commented to us about their efforts.
Neither the climate nor the law show any signs of disappearing. Hopefully, news about them both can be updated, in this or even an improved form, in the near future.
In The News
- Growing acceptance of environmental challenges is making commodity-linked "cleantech" investing a hot spot, something to which "long-view investors might want to pay heed," according to this Barron's article.
- The Goldman Sachs Group and Blue Source LLC have created a strategic alliance to market "verified emissions reductions" resulting from certain greenhouse gas reduction projects in Blue Source's portfolio, reports Clean Edge News.
- But then there's a darker part to the economic picture, in light of the credit crisis, as underscored by this look at recent reports from analysts and wind industry insiders who have scaled back their growth predictions in light of uncertain financing, reported by Fortune's Green Wombat blog.
- An environmental group says that federal agencies have consistently neglected to evaluate the benefits of greenhouse gas reductions, and called on the government to change that course when looking at new regulations, from a statement from the Environmental Defense Fund.
- Maybe it got lost in the mail? Federal regulators gave their blessing to low-level radioactive waste from Canada and Mexico that is now buried in Utah, but it seems that Utah "never got the memo," reports the Salt Lake Tribune.
- In a first official acknowledgment of the fact that China could be the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter, a top Chinese official says his nation's output of heat-trapping gases has caught up with the United States, according to this dispatch from Reuters.
- Transmission lines still seem to pose one of the biggest problems in the energy sector, with more evidence for that proposition coming from the opposition Southern California Edison is encountering to a plan for a new line, as reported by the Ventura County Star.
- More controversy over biofuels, as environmentalists express anger over the fact that European biofuels could receive a boost from a change in the way the European Union calculates their impact on the environment, reports Reuters.
In The News
- The Environmental Protection Agency is working on a new rule that would weaken pollution regulations for power plants, allowing them to increase emissions without adding controls, with officials on a fast track to meet a Saturday deadline, reports McClatchy Newspapers.
- Rising carbon dioxide levels in the world's oceans in combination with warmer sea temperatures, could accelerate coral bleaching, destroying some reefs before 2050, says a new Australian study cited in this Reuters dispatch.
- China wants rich countries to commit 1 percent of their economic worth to help poor nations fight global warming, Reuters reports.
- A big energy company has announced it plans to cut back its 2009 wind energy development plans; FPL Energy says it is trying to cut capital expenditures, reports RenewableEnergyWorld.com.
- And the company, it seems, needs the wind to blow harder, according to this posting from the Wall Street Journal's Environmental Capital blog.
- Henry David Thoreau, climate researcher: It's maybe not how he thought of himself but scientists are now using his detailed 19th century notes to discern how the climate has transformed over the decades, writes The New York Times.
- Internet giant Google is increasingly looking to the energy sector as a potential business opportunity, according to this look at the company's plans in The New York Times.
- There might be something else to worry about when it comes to ethanol, aside from the concerns already raised about its effect on food prices and the like: The potential fire hazards posed by its transport, as documented in this article from the Washington Post.
Anyone who can figure out the economy is probably too rich to be reading this, anyway, but a recent survey of reports conducted by a U.S. Department of Energy publication suggests the puzzling, if not downright contradictory nature of the situation, as it relates to the clean energy industry.
"Divergent trends for clean energy investments suggest that some companies may need to tighten their belts, even as they prepare for significant future growth," began the article in EERE Network News.
The item cited a report from New Energy Finance, an international private research company, that found private equity expansion capital had fallen significantly to $1.6 billion in the third quarter of the year. That was down from the previous quarter's $4.5 billion, according to the energy department report.
A press release from the research firm described investment in clean energy firms via public markets as "well down this year," driven down by a number of factors, including plunging oil and gas prices and investors fleeing to other types of stocks.
At the same time, the company found some brighter signs. For instance, it described early-stage venture capital as "buoyant," suggesting that "investors continue to see exciting new technology in the clean energy sector." And it said financing of new capacity, such as wind farms, solar parks and biofuel plants, was at a "high level" during the quarter, at $18 billion, a figure the energy department compared to the second quarter total of $21.9 billion.
In The News
- British scientists report the Arctic ice cap is now shrinking at record rates in the winter as well as summer, adding to evidence of disastrous melting, reports The Times of London.
- It would cost trillions of dollars, but the world could eliminate fossil fuel use by 2090 by turning to renewable energy, according to a new report from renewable energy advocates and environmentalists, according to this Reuters dispatch.
- But the risks of not taking action on climate change far outweigh the turmoil of the global financial crisis, says a leading climate change expert cited in this separate Reuters story.
- New Jersey officials plan to look at various tactics, ranging from higher electricity prices during peak hours to cash incentives to turn off air conditioners, as the state acts on the goals set out by its governor's new master energy plan, reports the Bergen Record.
- A settlement has been reached between homeowners and the developer of an Illinois wind farm, opening the door to construction of the controversial project, according to the Bloomington Pantagraph.
- After three decades without starting a single new plant, the American nuclear power may be resurgent, with 21 companies seeking permission to build more than 30 facilities, as calculated by the International Herald Tribune.
- In more news with an international flavor, the UK's government-funded grant provider Carbon Trust has launched a project to fund research and development into algae-based biofuel, according to New Energy Finance, via Clean Edge News.
- The United Nations has launched what it calls its Green Economic Initiative, a $4 million attempt to shift the global economy toward environmentally friendly investments in order to create jobs and address climate change, according to GreenBiz.com.
- Feeling guilty for driving? Auto-bound commuters between New York and New Jersey can do something about it by buying credits from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to offset their vehicles’ carbon emissions, reports The New York Times.
- The next president could jump-start efforts to combat global warming by relying on a venerable law, the Clean Air Act -- and it looks like a path a President Obama might pursue, according to this commentary in Yale Environment 360.
- Apparently, there's still lots of demand for coal, as evidenced by the rush to build a new rail line to a Montana coal mine, the state's largest railroad project in decades, the Billings Gazette reports.
- Maybe we should look into this climate change thing a little more -- or so seems to say the federal government, with the announcement that officials selected four proposals with a total funding of $7 million, to conduct climate research field studies in 2010, from a statement from the U.S. Department of Energy.
- A planned coal-to-liquid-fuel plant in West Virginia has been shelved, apparently the casualty of the credit crunch, and possibly other reasons, reports the Wall Street Journal's Environmental Capital.
Some newly released data suggests just how difficult will be the battle to control emissions of gases believed to contribute to climate change.
A new analysis from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory found that despite widespread concern about climate change, annual carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels and manufacturing cement have grown 38 percent since 1992. The increase pushed the yearly total from 6.1 billion metric tons of carbon to 8.5 billion metric tons in 2007, according to a statement issued by the lab, an arm of the U.S. Department of Energy.
Rapidly developing countries such as India and China have been the source of much of the increase, suggested the research. Gregg Marland, of the laboratory's environmental sciences division, said in the statement:
"The United States was the largest emitter of CO2 in 1992, followed in order by China, Russia, Japan and India. The most recent estimates suggest that India passed Japan in 2002, China became the largest emitter in 2006, and India is poised to pass Russia to become the third largest emitter, probably this year."
According to the researchers, the three most important human-caused sources of carbon dioxide emissions are burning fossil fuels and cement manufacturing, along with deforestation.
Then, even more recently, according to Reuters, another set of researchers found levels of a potent heat-trapping gas, nitrogen triflouride, were four times as high as previously thought. The gas, described as thousands of times more effective at warming the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, is used in the manufacture of flat-panel monitors, to etch silicon wafers, and, perhaps ironically, in the manufacture of thin film photovoltaic solar cells.
In The News
- In North Carolina, Duke Energy has halved a $100 million plan to place solar panels on hundreds of rooftops after consumer advocates for the state's utility regulators called the proposal too aggressive and expensive, reports the Charlotte Observer.
- Meanwhile, Montana's governor says that with alternative-energy projects on the horizon, the state's colleges need to provide specialized training, according to the Billings Gazette.
- A new nationwide poll, conducted on behalf of environmental groups, shows that Americans oppose mountaintop removal coal mining by a wide margin, the Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette reports.
- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is offering to help in a campaign to fight the proposed closure of Scotland's only wind turbine factory, says this report from The Scotsman.
- European Union governments have given final approval to including aviation in the bloc's emissions trading scheme, according to a dispatch from Reuters.
- Fourteen of the nation’s largest institutional investors have called on federal securities regulators to require improved corporate climate risk disclosure and — for the first time —address a broader range of environmental, social and governance risks, according to a statement from the advocacy group Ceres.
- The reasons are complicated, but the ongoing credit crunch could prove to be a drag on the development of big new solar projects that need financing, despite the recent renewal of tax credits, as worked out by Fortune magazine's Green Wombat blog.
- An environmental group is threatening to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for allegedly failing to update emission standards for hundreds of landfills nationwide, which the organization says are the nation’s second largest source of man made methane pollution, according to a press release from the Environmental Defense Fund, which also includes a link to the letter it sent.
- Major new projects now underway may mean that deep geothermal systems could soon begin making a significant contribution to the world’s energy needs, according to this article in Yale Environment 360.
A series of recent reports and business developments serves to illustrate both the promise and turbulent nature of the renewable energy industry in today's challenging economy.
First, for the promise. The American Wind Energy Association this week reported that the United States is on track to install about 7,500 megawatts worth of new turbines this year. That, according to a statement from the trade association, would be a record significantly surpassing 2007's installations of 5,249 MW.
The wind group also asserted that the industry "is also aggressively expanding its manufacturing base" in the nation even in what it called "a difficult financial climate." The association found eight new turbine component plants had been opened during the year and nine expanded, with announcements of an additional 19 facilities. The expansions mean that about half the components in the new turbines are domestically produced, the association said.
But at the same time, there were some less-positive signs.
A Connecticut project developer sold out of both phases of a planned 159 MW wind project in Michigan, apparently in an effort to raise cash and reduce costs, according to a New Energy Finance report carried by Clean Edge News. Then, the Wall Street Journal's Environmental Capital blog noted a big plunge in stocks for the Spanish turbine maker Gamesa, despite a tripling of profits, apparently because the company also said it would temporarily halt production at some of its plants.
Then, the ongoing concern over transmission capacity again emerged, this time in a new report from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, which oversees the reliability of the continent's bulk power system. The report found a slight increase in transmission lines since 2007 but predicted that additions to generation, such as from wind farms, would significantly outpace the development of new transmission facilities.
Even there, however, there were somewhat mixed signals. There was a report from the Rocky Mountain News that Colorado's two biggest power suppliers have teamed up to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on new transmission lines, which the paper said could serve wind, solar or coal generation.
In The New
- Huge areas of federal land in the West would be open to geothermal energy development under a plan released by the U.S. Interior Department, which identifies acreage nearly twice the size of California for potential development, according to the Los Angeles Times. Find the department's press release and links to official documents, as well as recent Climate Law Update of the government's assessment of the nation's "vast" geothermal potential.
- A big proposed merger in the energy industry -- Exelon’s bid for power plant operator NRG Energy -- could be the start of a new wave of consolidation in the power plant business, even though the deal is not a sure thing, according to the Houston Chronicle.
- From across the pond comes word regarding the growing importance of wind power, including statistics showing that in Scotland, onshore wind projects are now generating more electricity than all the country's hydro plants combined, according to Glasgow's The Herald.
- China is committed to seeking a climate change pact at key talks next year, at least according to Denmark's prime minister, who urged countries not to use the planet's financial turmoil to delay a deal, reports Reuters.
- Maybe some of the things they said were terrifying? At any rate, three climate change activists, advocates for such scary things as wind and solar power, were listed as terrorists for more than a year by police, according to this posting from The New York Times' Dot Earth.
- Political pressure is keeping corn-based ethanol alive, despite the ongoing controversy over the fuel -- and differences among the presidential candidates -- as reported by the Financial Times.
- Anyone who wants to know what lawmakers in California were up to this past year regarding the subject of air quality can find it online, courtesy of the California Air Resources Board.