Rolf E. Westgard
The pressure is on to replace CO2 emitting coal as an electric power fuel, as the PUC tells Xcel to study retiring two units at Xcel’s big Sherco coal plant. A new paper released by James Hansen and a cadre of co-authors reports that even 2 degrees of warming is too much for the earth, and would “subject young people, future generations and nature to irreparable harm.”
Little noticed in recent news was the ongoing battle between the world’s largest iron ore miner, Vale SA of Brazil, and the Jinchuan Group, China’s biggest nickel producer. They were bidding for control of South Africa’s Metorex Ltd, a medium sized producer of high demand non-ferrous metals like copper, nickel and cobalt, a contest finally won by Jinchuan. One reason for this metals demand is their use in renewable energy systems which provide transmission, rechargeable batteries, and wind turbine technology.
On May 24 this year, President Obama visited wind turbine blade manufacturer TPI Composites in Newton, Iowa. There he announced that his “To Do List” for Congress, included extending the wind energy’s Production Tax Credit (PTC). The PTC, which expires at the end of 2012, gives 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour(kwh) to wind energy producers. For all of 2012, U.S. wind farms are expected to provide about 3.5 percent of U.S. electric power, or 145 billion kwh, making wind producers eligible for $3 billion in tax credit subsidies.
A new Massachuesetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study, released May 15, reports that background radiation levels more than 100 times normal background levels show no DNA damage in mice, whose responses to radiation mimic those of humans. Current U.S. regulations require that residents of any area that reaches radiation levels eight times higher than background should be evacuated. However, the financial and emotional cost of such relocation may not be worthwhile, the researchers say.