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Most going unchecked. Killing millions of birds and other animals. Never reported by mainstream media. 


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The Dirtiest Pit on the Planet

 

Just for fun, I asked 12 people 
if they ever heard of the Alberta Tar Sands?

One out of the 12 heard about it, but didn't know what or where it was. I then asked if they ever heard of Keystone Pipeline? Five heard about it, but again didn't know exactly where it was. Two of the five heard it would provide jobs and none knew what kind of sludge it would be transporting or where. 

I continued with my probing questions and asked if they ever heard of Dancing With the Stars, the Kardashians? It's always amazing to me, how little we know about the stuff we should, and how much we know about the mindless and the useless. So much for my survey.

Here's some more fun stuff to think about

 The Athabasca River in Canada was one the cleanest rivers in the world, but due to the run off from Alberta's oil sands hardly anything lives in it now because of acidification. The growing levels of acid rain consequentially leading to an increase in water contamination in the area. Acid rain will cause Canada's lakes and rivers to become further acidified. 

These industry-made contaminates now contain 187 billion gallons of sludge that includes phenols, arsenic, mercury, cancer-makers such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and fish-killing naphthenic acids and threaten water quality in the world’s third largest watershed, the Mackenzie River Basin. Their determined accumulation also confirms a genuine state of regulatory neglect in the tar sands, the world’s largest energy project and number one supplier of U.S. oil. 



The size and scale of these leaking ponds are striking. About a dozen “ponds” rise 300 feet above the ground and cover 80 square miles of boreal forest and wetlands.

The findings ran 'contrary to claims made by industry and government in the popular press', and that the sector was 'substantially increasing loadings of toxins' to the river, which is linked to high incidences of embryonic mortality and deformity in fish.



COMMON SENSE

The fact remains that we do not need this oil. The only people who need it are big oil, but especially the Kock brothers. They own over 1 million acres in Alberta's tar sands region. Roughly the size of Delaware. If the Keystone Pipeline is approved they stand to make over 100 billion dollars. The oil will not benefit the U.S. but will be exported to other countries with very little environmental regulations. We will be stuck with the cleanup when the pipeline breaks, and experts have assured us that it will, and some have said it will be largest environment disaster ever.

Does any of this information ever make to mainstream media news? Not hardly. The reason it doesn't is because it's controlled by the same corporations who have a stake in the Keystone pipeline getting completed, and the pit itself. It's unlikely they are going to bite the hand who feeds it.

The Kock brothers are on a crusade to buy congress and it appears they are doing a good job. 25 million dollars in campaign contributions in just the past couple months alone which is a drop in the bucket for what they have planned. 

And we sit by and let them do it, because most of us are riveted to the real TV programs, biting our nails waiting to find out who will win Dancing with the Stars, or who Kim's next husband will be. And that's by design. Dumbing down and keeping viewers clueless is what's considered "fair and balanced" news. And based on the ratings of some of these programs -- it's working.  





Organic by 2020


If you’re a fan of organic food options, here’s cause to celebrate: the organic market is simply exploding! We recently reported that one assessment of the organic food market projected growth of 14 percent through 2018. 

Now, another report, titled Organic Food & Beverages Market Analysis and Segment Forecasts to 2020, projects even more of a growth — a nearly 16 percent skyrocket of the organic food and beverages market by 2020 — meaning organic food sales will reach an estimated U.S. $211.44 billion by that time!

Grand View Research, the originators of the new report, writes, “Growing adoption of organic food & beverages owing to associated health benefits and eco-friendly characteristics is expected to drive demand over the next six years.”

The firm also asserts that “regulatory support for organic farming” is also projected to have a positive impact on the organic food market because both supply and product quality will see gains.

The report posts that all areas of organic products will see growth, from organic tea to non-dairy beverages.


As supporters of true organic food production, we’re thrilled to see such a rise projected. We choose organic whenever possible to save our bodies from ingesting GMOs, pesticides, and unnecessary chemicals — and, whenever you can, we think you should too! http://fooddemocracynow.org

Image source: Hail Merry

California’s Largest-Ever Rally To Ban Fracking


Thousands of environmentalists took to California’s state capitol recently to demand Governor Jerry Brown ban hydraulic fracturing, in what was called the largest anti-fracking mobilization the state has ever seen.

Fracking is a method of extracting fossil fuels that is coveted for its ability to increase the flow of oil or gas from a well. This is done by injecting high-pressure water and chemicals miles deep into the ground into subsurface rock, effectively “fracturing” the rock and allowing more spaces for oil and gas to come through.

The process relies heavily on groundwater by injecting a mixture of chemicals and water into rock formations to release oil and gas deposits. California’s recent drought emergency has prompted some lawmakers to push for a statewide moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, as a recent Ceres report found that 96 percent of California fracking wells are located in the areas experiencing drought and high water stress.

The protest, called Don’t Frack California, also attempted to point out that the oil and gas produced from fracking ultimately contributes to climate change, which leading climate scientists have said is the reason why California’s drought has been so bad in the first place.

California Governor Jerry Brown has been catching flak from environmentalists for his support of fracking, despite his claims that he is dedicated to fighting climate change. Brown, a Demoract, has supported policies including that state’s cap-and-trade law, as well as advocating high-speed rail and renewable energy investments. But last year he also supported SB4, a state bill that went into effect at the start of 2014, and which drew the anger of environmentalists for failing to place a moratorium on fracking.

“Governor Brown likes to think of himself as climate champion,” Jamie Henn, co-founder of 350.org, wrote in the Huffington Post. “But just like President Obama, Brown has refused to stand up to Big Oil.”

So now, Californians are taking the issue into their own hands.

People traveled from all over the state to attend the rally at the State Capitol in Sacramento. Some took the five and a half hour drive from Los Angelos.

Electric Buses Being Tested Around The World


A large, 60-foot electric bus has been running for almost two weeks in Sao Paulo, Brazil where it has transported over 135,000 passengers since hitting the road. The bus joined the city’s already diverse fleet, which includes buses running on biodiesel, ethanol, diesel and electric trolley buses. This is just the latest movement in an international effort to develop electric buses that are quiet, fuel-free, and reducing air and greenhouse gas pollution.

The batteries and recharge system in the Sao Paulo bus were made by Japan-based Mitsubishi while the body and motor were built in Brazil. The bus, which can hold 124 passengers and travel 125 miles without recharging, is winning over local approval for its quietness and international approval for being environmentally friendly. The battery-powered buses do not require cables, as is the basis for the electric trolleybuses that use the city’s grid.

“The bus is super-healthy for the planet and can do its job almost like diesel-fueled models, thanks to its recharge technology and use of energy,” Ivan Regina, manager of the Sao Paulo state government Transport Planning, Technological Development and Environment unit, told Efe.

For the next six months the city will be assessing the bus’s financial viability as compared to a standard, diesel-fueled buses. However, from a climate and environmental perspective, the battery-powered bus is a clear leader.

“The battery-powered bus has all the flexibility of diesel and does not emit greenhouse gases,” said Ivan Regina, the Planning and Projects manager for the EMTU. “It is a dream bus. If the economic requirements are met, society will be very pleased.”

Air pollution is a serious problem in Sao Paulo, and there are plans for the 70,000 or so buses in the state to be replaced with renewable energy-driven models by 2020. With the World Cup coming to Brazil this year, tourists will be descending on Sao Paulo, and it would be noteworthy for them to travel on new, cutting-edge electric buses.

Around the world, transit authorities are experimenting with similar ideas and ideals. In the U.K. buses that charge using underground induction coils positioned at the beginning and end of a route are being tested as part of a five-year trial program. In Vancouver, transit authorities have also been considering employing battery-powered electric buses, however they have found them to still be cost-prohibitive.

“We have certainly done some testing of pure battery buses (without trolley wires),” Coast Mountain Bus Company fleet manager Dave Leicester told 24 Hours Vancouver. “We think they’re promising, but they’re very expensive. It’s going to cost, probably, at least $1 million per bus.”

According to Leicester, diesel and compressed natural gas buses cost about half as much. However, GreenPower Motor Company, also based in Vancouver, is in the final stages of producing an all-electric city transit bus, the EV350, that it says will save transit bus operators between $50,000 – $100,000 a year compared to a traditional diesel bus, based on maintenance, operations and fuel.

“Until recently, battery technologies were not advanced enough to support the long routes and demands required of public transit,” GreenPower’s CEO Phillip Oldridge said in a recent statement. “Our first EV350 incorporates these advanced technologies with outstanding results.”

Upon completion of the bus, GreenPower Motor plans to take it on a North American tour to demonstrate for transit authorities as other major cities are also toying with the idea of all-electric buses. Los Angeles is currently testing an electric bus made by BYD Motors, an electric vehicle manufacturer based in Shenzhen, China. BYD is the largest rechargeable battery manufacturer in the world and the number one electric bus manufacturer in the world — and Warren Buffett, widely regarded for his investment savvy, owns ten percent of the company. BYD also recently unveiled a 60-foot, all-electricity transit bus, this one designed for use in Bogota, Columbia.

Mitsubishi is also working in Japan to test electric buses that employ the company’s MLiX lithium-ion batteries and will recharge using solar power and an advanced energy storage system.

“The buses –- full-size, low-floor models — will operate on high-performance “MLiX” lithium-ion rechargeable batteries,” says a statement from the company. “In combination with a lighter body enabled by the partial adoption of carbon fiber construction, the new buses will be able to operate continuously over dramatically increased distances, providing a quiet and comfortable ride to passengers with zero gas emissions.”

Best Buy Teams Up with Solar City

By Jeff Spross

SolarCity and Best Buy have announced a deal allowing customers to get low-cost and low-hassle solar power for their homes.

It’s what’s called a third party leasing agreement. Rather than purchasing a solar array outright, they lease the system from the provider — SolarCity, in this case. It’s just that the system is installed on the roof of the homeowner. The benefit for the customer is they don’t have to worry about installation and maintenance — the provider handles that — and there are no big upfront costs. The customer just pays the provider a set amount each month for the electricity, and that cost is usually slightly lower than the going market rate.

Meanwhile, as the provider, SolarCity gets a guaranteed revenue stream for whatever period of time the lease agreement covers. Partnering with Best Buy allows SolarCity to make use of the chain’s already-existing network of stores to reach as many customers as possible.

Upfront costs, maintenance, permits, and installation are among the major logistical hurdles that often prevent people from taking advantage of solar power for their homes. A firm with assets and logistical capabilities like SolarCity is much better positioned to take care of those problems, creating a much smoother process for the customer. Many people have the wherewithal to purchase their own solar systems that they own outright, but that model is not for everyone.

While residential solar has grown more slowly than utility-scale installations, its growth has been steady. And third party leasing and deals like this are a big reason why.

Third party leasing is also an example of how innovations in the ways we buy, sell and finance solar are just as important to its widespread adoption as technological innovations. But there are still some blockages. States are still figuring out how to adjust to the arrival of distributed solar, because traditional regulations have locked the market into a specific relationship between utilities and customers, with certain expectations from each. As a result, only a limited number of states currently allow for third party leasing.

That’s why the deal between SolarCity and Best Buy is only available to customers in California, Arizona, New York and Oregon right now. For it to spread further, more states will have to adapt their regulations to allow for freer exchange of energy buyers, sellers, and innovators on their grids.



First Electric School Bus Hits The Road In California

By Andrew Breiner. 
PHOTO CREDIT: Trans Tech/Motiv Power Systems

The first-ever electric school bus, introduced in November, started picking up students in Central California’s Kings Canyon Unified school district this week. And three more should be operating soon, according to a press release from developers Trans Tech and Motiv Power Systems.

The California Air Resources Board was a major factor in getting the first two electric buses on the road, contributing $400,000 to the pilot program in the form of cost-offsetting vouchers. Similar programs in Chicago and New York could contribute to the availability of electric buses there as well. A federal highway program supplied the funding for the third and fourth buses currently on their way.

While the electric buses cost around twice as much as similar gas buses, Jim Castelaz, founder and CEO of Motiv Power Systems, said that was balanced by fuel and maintenance costs. It costs “1/8 as much to fuel and 1/3 as much to maintain,” he said. “In the life of a school bus, 2-3 times the cost of the vehicle is spent on fuel and maintenance.”

Buses are available with 80 or 100 miles of range, and hold 25 students, or 18 students and a wheelchair lift.

Castelaz looked to the air quality benefits of electric buses, saying in a statement, “I hope that by the time my daughter is old enough to go to school clean, zero-emission school buses like this one will be the industry standard.”

Meet The Family The Tar Sands Industry Wants To Keep Quiet


By Emily Atkin
There is an abandoned house in Alberta, Canada, where Alain Labrecque used to live. Tucked in the farming community of Peace River, it is a place brimming with personal history, rooted to his grandfather’s land where his parents and eight aunts and uncles grew up, and where Alain’s own children were born. 

Now, Alain’s property and the surrounding area are primarily home to large, black cylinders of oil. As a family with a rich history of working for and benefiting from the oil industry, never in their wildest dreams did Karla and Alain think they would be the ones fighting this fight.

“You’ve gotta understand, I’ve worked for oil sands, I was a contractor,” Alain said in an interview with ThinkProgress. “I’ve never been negative toward oil. Never thought this would happen.”    READ >

Would Keystone pipeline unload "carbon bomb" or job boom?

If the pipeline is approved and the fuse lit, climate scientist James Hansen says it's: "Game over for climate."

Environmental opponents don't mince words on the Keystone XL pipeline. Some call it the "fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet" because of the carbon emissions from the oil it will carry.

Backers say the Canada-to-U.S. pipeline could lower U.S. dependence on unstable foreign sources of oil and create thousands of jobs. Yes, it could create jobs — but not as many as some claim. The State Department estimates that during construction, the project would create 3,900 one-year construction jobs and 38,200 indirect ones, but during operation, only about 50 jobs. Keystone's owner, Calgary-based TransCanada, says the pipeline would generate about 9,000 construction jobs. But hardly any permanent jobs in the U.S.

The State Department's review says the 1,179-mile pipeline, which would carry heavy oil sands from Hardisty, Alberta, through Montana and South Dakota to Steele City, Neb., would do little to change U.S. gasoline prices or oil imports. The reason: Oil is traded on a global market that adjusts to shifts in supply and demand. So even if North America produces more oil, that doesn't mean it stays here.

"The tar sands are about the dirtiest and most carbon-intensive of the fossil fuels, especially when you consider the damage done and energy used in getting them out of the ground," Hansen writes in an e-mail. He says they contain twice the amount of oil burned in human history and if developed, "it is game over — we will not be able to stabilize climate." 

 
MORE> USA TODAY March 1, 2014