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22 October 2012

Romney on Yucca Mountain: Let Nevada Decide

On the topic of nuclear waste disposal, it appears Mitt Romney is at odds with his running mate and other Republicans who want to re-open the permit process for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. Here are remarks from Governor Romney speaking in Nevada: “The idea that 49 states can tell Nevada, ‘We want to give you our nuclear waste,’ doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Romney said. “I think …

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19 July 2012

Introducing the European Geoscience Union – Soil Systems Science Division

The European Geoscience Union, a leader in the free dissemination of scientific research, has rolled out its Soil Systems Science Division (SSSD). The SSSD has a blog newsletter with some fine articles and beautiful images about soils and surface geology of Europe. When Editor Jessica Drake (Soilduck) kindly invited me to write a short “why I do soil science” biographical piece, I jumped at the chance. Being that I’m American, …

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11 June 2012

Argonne Lab Shifts Focus to Natural Gas Vehicles

Although natural gas is not yet a big transportation fuel in the United States, there is some steady, quiet progress toward that goal. President Obama stated his committment to natural gas as a transportation fuel during a western road trip: “We’ve got to keep at it. Think about what could happen if we do,” Obama said. “Think about an America where more cars and trucks are running on domestic natural gas than on …

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30 May 2012

Sand Mining Picks Up to Support Hydrofracturing

One of the spinoff industries associated with hydraulic fracturing of shale rock is silica sand mining. During the “fracking” process, sand is mixed with water and chemicals and pumped under high pressure to force open voids in shale. The sand is needed to prop open cracks and release gas, oil and other valuable hydrocarbons collected from the well. When it comes to “fracking,” evidently, not any old sand will do. …

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29 April 2012

Alternative Fuel Vehicle News for April 2012

With the century-long dominance of petroleum-derived fuels in the transportation sector, it’s been tough to bring in and establish alternative technologies for cars and trucks. Here are a few developments from recent articles I’ve found interesting this month: Electric Cars Forbes reports in How One Chevrolet Dealer Is Selling 25 Volts a Month that the key to selling the Volt is understanding the nuances of the product and educating the consumer. …

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16 April 2012

Pennsylvania PUC Schedules AFV Forum

The Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has scheduled a forum next month at Drexel University to focus on promotion and regulation of alternative fuel vehicles (AFV), including natural gas and electric cars. Specifically, the forum will address: The state of development and costs of various technologies; What constraints exist in developing AFVs – both nationwide and in Pennsylvania; What are the appropriate private sector, utility and Commission roles in fostering the …

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13 April 2012

Where are the Natural Gas Vehicles?

Gasoline prices are up, natural gas prices are way down. Vehicles can run on natural gas. So, where are all the natural gas vehicles? A good overview of the feasibility of using natural gas as a vehicle fuel is available in the 2010 International Energy Agency publication “The Contribution of Natural Gas Vehicles to Sustainable Transport“. The advocacy group Natural Gas Vehicles for America reports there are about 112,000 natural …

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4 February 2012

Germany Moving Forward with the Third Industrial Revolution

Despite the high up-front costs of re-building a national power infrastructure, largely decentralized and based on renewable energy sources, Germany remains Europe’s economic powerhouse. In 2007, the European Parliament made a written declaration to establish a Third Industrial Revolution “through partnership with committed regions and cities, SMEs (small and medium-size enterprises) and civil society organizations.”  With all of the financial trouble going on in parts of Europe, and Germany’s central role …

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18 December 2011

Pipelines Galore: The Keystone XL Controversy

The proposed Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL Pipeline has become a political football. The Republican-led House of Representatives insists the pipeline be “fast-tracked.” The Obama administration wants time to study alternative routes and make a final decision in 2013.  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) generally has authority over interstate pipeline projects, however, given the pipeline crosses an international border, the Department of State has to sign off. In addition to sending products from Canadian tar sands, the Keystone …

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28 November 2011

Using Thermogravimetry for Carbon Accounting

Thermogravimetry-Derivative Thermogravimetry (TG/DTG) is a simple and inexpensive method to account for recent soil carbon sequestration. As such, it’s a good choice to be a standardized test in international carbon trading markets. More about TG/DTG shortly, but first, why is this important? Background Here in the United States, clearly, any federal legislation that seeks to reduce carbon emissions, such as by taxation or carbon trading, has no chance of getting through …

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