Energy, energy and more energy

A bunch of stories today from Fellows, and they're all about energy!Two related pieces from Josh Zaffos, writing for the Daily Climate:

Military sees threat, worry in climate change

The U.S. military's elite forces have always pushed the envelope. And this summer will be no exception, as the Navy deploys SEALs with $2 million of new gear on missions to save hostages, combat pirates, and counter terrorism around the world. What sort of next-generation weaponry, armor, or transportation will the funds provide? 

None. 

The cash will pay for solar technology, enabling the SEALs to power up equipment and purify water while on the move, and even refrigerate medical supplies and food. ... Read more.

A tour of the new geopolitics of global warming

Energy security and climate change present massive threats to global security, military planners say, with connections and consequences spanning the world.

Some scientists have linked the Arab Spring uprisings to high food prices caused by the failed Russian wheat crop in 2010, a result of an unparalleled heat wave. The predicted effects of climate change are also expected to hit developing nations particularly hard, raising the importance of supporting humanitarian response efforts and infrastructure improvements.

Here's a look at several geopolitical hotspots that will likely bear the unpredictable and dangerous consequences of climate change and current energy policies... Read more.

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From Heather Scofield with The Durango Herald, a look at the relationship between southwest tribal communities and energy, from a few different angles. (Great photos by Jessica Riehl, who, along with Heather was a Fellow on our most recent Energy Country Institute):

Reservation's remotest corners get light with small-scale, solar-wind systems

Monica Johnson’s mother, Esther, rests outside the family home on the Navajo Nation reservation in New Mexico. A combination solar-wind energy array system works in the background to capture the sun’s energy and convert it to limited electrical power for the family home. The home does not have access to traditional electricity

And yet, children such as Maria, 9, and Erika, 6, and their parents, Monica and Nathanial Johnson, who live on a New Mexico portion of the Navajo reservation, don’t have to imagine it. That’s how they live... Read more.

Tribes power up: Clean energy potential on reservations could be a game-changer for tribes and nation

The United States pays a huge price for its dependence on foreign oil, both in dollars drained from consumers’ pocketbooks and in loss of control of its destiny.

So, for the financial well-being of the nation and in the interest of national security, President Barack Obama has made development of alternative domestic energy sources a cornerstone of his energy policy. That commitment is backed with millions of federal dollars, some of which has gone to many of the hundreds of Native American tribes sitting on resources needed to bring alternative sources of electricity flowing to homes and businesses. 

“Overall, there’s a huge resource on Indian lands all over the country,” said William Brown, of New Mexico-based Sage West consultants & The Climate Reality project... Read more.

Hope for a bright future: Other tribes hope to emulate Southern Ute tribe's energy successes

As tribes around the nation gain momentum in their efforts to develop energy resources on their lands, some industry sources say a new level of power and political influence could emerge for American Indians.

William Brown, with Sage West Consultants & The Climate Reality Project, said there will be non-Native American investors to compete with, however, and accurately predicting how it will shake out is difficult.

“Economics will tell the tale,” Brown said.

At the very least, tribes are moving from passive providers of land to actual energy development, sale and transmission, said Tracey LeBeau, director for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs... Read more.

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And a look at the potential side-effects of transporting coal, from Ashley Ahearn with EarthFix at KUOW in Seattle.

Increased coal train traffic could mean bad news for public health

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Box car after box car full of black rock, settled into the shape of bread loaves in uncovered containers, rumbles along the Bellingham waterfront. This is one of hundreds of communities that have grown up along the railways in the Northwest.

If more coal is exported, that could mean more trains like these coming through towns on their way to export terminals. And that has some concerned about people’s health.

Dr. Frank James is a physician and researcher at the University of Washington. He’s also a member of the Whatcom Docs – a large group of doctors in Whatcom County that are calling for an assessment of the human health impacts of increased coal train traffic.... Read and see more.

In a related post, Ashley talks with Eric de Place, a researcher with Sightline Institute in Seattle, about the future relationship between coal and the Northwest. Also, there are maps!

Coal coming through a community near you?

There’s a lot of coal in the middle of the United States, and China wants it.

That puts the Northwest squarely in the middle of supply and demand. Train routes would take coal from deposits like the Powder River Basin in Wyoming to shipping terminals along the West Coast.

From there, the coal could be delivered by boat to Asian markets.

EarthFix’s Ashley Ahearn turns to Eric de Place, a researcher with Sightline Institute –- a think tank in Seattle... Read, hear, and see more.

 

And, if you're interested in learning more about coal and the Northwest, you can find news updates and information here, at Sightline Daily's project called The Dirt on Coal.