Trump Weakens Rules Meant to Prevent Next Deepwater Horizon Spill
Officials announced changes to the Well Control Rule on the Louisiana coast, not far from where the 2010 oil rig explosion killed 11 workers and poured around 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, The Washington Post reported.
The Trump administration today weakened crucial offshore drilling safety standards that were put in place after the… https://t.co/PCi1DrpLLl— NRDC 🌎 (@NRDC 🌎)1556828227.0
"The well control rule was one of the most important actions we took, as a nation, in response to the BP-style disaster at sea," Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Director of Strategic Engagement Bob Deans said in a statement of the original rule. "The rule draws directly from lessons learned from that debacle. It creates tools to help reduce the risk of these dangerous industrial operations at sea."
BSEE Finalizes Improved Blowout Preventer and Well Control Regulations https://t.co/uTGw0nlsKp https://t.co/HdyYJHgyap— BSEE (@BSEE)1556823895.0
The NRDC explained how the Trump's Department of Interior (DOI) was weakening that rule, which was finalized by the Obama administration in 2016:
The agency is walking back components of the well control rule, such as removing requirements for real-time backup monitoring by onshore experts and annual certification of the blowout preventer's integrity by an approved third-party expert. Blowout preventers will now be allowed to simply close, instead of achieving an effective seal, which mirrors standards set by the American Petroleum Institute. (A malfunction of a blowout preventer is what caused the 2010 disaster.) Together, the changes represent a favor to the oil industry and a threat to "workers, waters, and wildlife," Deans says.
In a statement Thursday, Interior Secretary David Berhnardt insisted the change was made with safety in mind.
"Today's final rule puts safety first, both public and environmental safety, in a common sense way," Bernhardt said, as The Washington Post reported. "Incorporating the best available science, best practices and technological innovations of the past decade, the rule eliminates unnecessary regulatory burdens while maintaining safety and environmental protection offshore."
But officials at DOI division the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said the changes would also save the offshore oil and gas industry about a billion dollars over 10 years.
"Given David Bernhardt's close ties to his former clients and friends in the fossil fuel industry, it's no surprise that he's seeking to give them free rein to spoil our coasts and public waters and put workers in harm's way," Sierra Club Lands Protection Program Director Athan Manuel said in a statement. "These safeguards were put in place in response to the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, and with this latest favor for oil and gas companies Bernhardt is putting us at risk of a similar disaster."
The Deepwater Horizon spill had disastrous consequences for the environment and economy of the Gulf of Mexico, The Washington Post reported. Those included:
- $95 million in losses for the Gulf fishing industry just in 2010
- The deaths of one million seabirds
- The deaths of more than 150 whales and dolphins
The deregulation is part of President Donald Trump's overall push to expand offshore oil drilling and "energy dominance," The Huffington Post explained. It comes about a month after a judge blocked Trump's attempt to open up the Arctic ocean to drilling, leading the DOI to likely postpone plans to make more than 90 percent of coastal waters available for oil and gas leasing, NPR reported.
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A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
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More long-finned pilot whales were found stranded today on beaches in Tasmania, Australia. About 500 whales have become stranded, including at least 380 that have died, the AP reported. It is the largest mass stranding in Australia's recorded history.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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