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New Energy Economy Wants Carbon Law Fight Resolved in Court of Appeals

New Energy Economy Wants Carbon Law Fight Resolved in Court of Appeals

New Energy Economy

New Energy Economy filed a motion Sept. 29, in the New Mexico State Court of Appeals seeking to ensure that PNM’s controversial efforts to repeal the state’s landmark carbon pollution reduction law are resolved.

In its filing, New Energy Economy claimed that PNM misled the Court of Appeals in three ways when they requested that the carbon law case be sent back to the Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) for resolution. First, PNM falsely claimed that its appeal to overturn the carbon law was unopposed. Second, PNM falsely claimed that the EIB would continue to hear an existing case, when in fact PNM initiated a new case before the EIB. Third, PNM’s legal maneuvering will not, as they claim, conserve judicial resources. The first of these claims by PNM was rebuked by the State Supreme Court in July with a unanimous decision granting New Energy Economy the right to intervene in PNM’s attempted appeal to overturn the carbon pollution reduction law.

“PNM knows that the scientific and economic facts clearly support the state’s carbon pollution reduction law, so they are trying every trick, including misleading the courts, to undermine the public interest and repeal the law,” said Mariel Nanasi, executive director of New Energy Economy. “PNM’s unusual legal maneuverings shows contempt for the legal process and is an affront to the people of New Mexico.”

The New Mexico Environmental Law Center filed the motion Oct. 4 on behalf of New Energy Economy. In addition to PNM, parties listed in the legal filings include the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, Independent Petroleum Association, El Paso Electric, and Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association.

New Energy Economy led a two-year public process that led to the creation of New Mexico’s landmark carbon pollution reduction law. The law requires facilities that emit more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon pollution per year to reduce emissions by 3 percent per year from 2010 levels, starting in 2013. The law has been lauded by national experts for its capacity to improve New Mexico’s energy security by means of predictability, market-based mechanisms and extensive compliance flexibility. An economic analysis released in February indicated the carbon pollution reduction law has the potential to add 17,500 family-supporting jobs in New Mexico’s electric sector and add more than $2 billion in total added economic value to New Mexico’s families and businesses.

For more information, click here.

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New Energy Economy is a registered 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization established in 2004 to create economic opportunity in New Mexico with less carbon pollution and more clean energy. New Energy Economy works in partnership with diverse allies to encourage job growth, investment and innovation in a more efficient, sustainable and equitable energy sector. New Energy Economy grounds its work in the research and findings of the world’s leading scientific and technological authorities. Learn more at www.newenergyeconomy.org

A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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