More Imported Oil and Gas in U.S. Energy FutureWASHINGTON, DC,
December 16, 2003 (ENS) - The "Annual Energy Outlook 2004" released today by the federal government's Energy Information Administration (EIA), forecasts an increase in U.S. energy demand of 1.5 percent, in a scenario where the U.S. economy grows at an average annual rate of 3.0 percent.
EIA, the statistical and analytical agency within the U.S. Department of Energy, forecasts that U.S. petroleum demand will become increasingly dependent on imports. Net petroleum imports, including both crude oil and refined products, are expected to account for 70 percent of total petroleum demand by 2025, up from 54 percent in 2002, the agency said.
Coal remains the primary fuel for electricity generation through 2025. The coal share is projected to increase from 50 percent in 2002 to 52 percent in 2025. 112 gigawatts of new coal-fired generating capacity are expected to be constructed between 2002 and 2025.
The EIA forecasts lower natural gas demand and higher natural gas prices than last year's long-run projections.
Conventional onshore natural gas production will be lower because of slower reserve growth, fewer new discoveries, and higher exploration and development costs, the agency says. Offshore natural gas production is also lower because of the tendency to find more oil than natural gas offshore and higher costs than previously anticipated.
Future growth in U.S. natural gas supplies will depend on unconventional domestic production, natural gas from Alaska, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports, the agency forecasts.
Looking ahead to completion of an Alaskan natural gas pipeline in 2018, total Alaskan production is projected to increase from 0.4 trillion cubic feet in 2002 to 2.7 trillion cubic feet in 2025. Total net LNG imports are projected to increase from 0.2 trillion cubic feet in 2002 to 4.8 trillion cubic feet in 2025, more than double the agency's 2003 projection.
Average natural gas prices are projected to increase from $2.95 per thousand cubic feet in 2002 to $4.40 per thousand cubic feet in 2025.
These changes lead to a revised forecast of the mix of fuels that will generate U.S. electricity in the future. Coal is now projected to play a more important role, particularly in the later years of the forecast. Additions of natural gas fired generating capacity are lower, and more additions of coal and renewable generating capacity are projected.
Total renewable electricity generation, including combined heat and power, is projected to increase from 339 to 518 billion kilowatt-hours between 2002 and 2025, an increase of 1.9 percent per year.
Renewable technologies are projected to grow slowly because of the relatively low cost of fossil fuel power generation.
State renewable portfolio standards, which specify a minimum share of generation or sales from renewable sources, are included in the forecast, but no extension of the Federal Production Tax Credit for wind and closed-loop biomass, which under current law expires at the end of 2003, is assumed.
While no new nuclear plants have been built in many years in the United States, existing facilities have improved their performance and reduced operating costs, the agency states. While no new nuclear units are built in 2004, no existing nuclear facilities are retired and 3.4 gigawatts of nuclear power are added via uprates. Uprates either involve enhanced techniques for calculating reactor power, changes to instrumentation settings, or significant modifications to major pieces of plant equipment.
The forecast does not assume future policy actions that might be taken to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide or other gases, the EIA says. Carbon dioxide emissions from energy use are projected to increase from 5,729 to 8,142 million metric tons between 2002 and 2025, an average annual increase of 1.5 percent.
The carbon intensity of the economy, measured as energy related carbon dioxide emissions per dollar of gross domestic product, declines at an average annual rate of 1.5 percent per year through 2025.
Reference case projections from the Annual Energy Outlook 2004 and an overview of the results are online at: http://www.eia.doe,gov/oiaf/aeo/index.html/.
The full report, including projections with differing assumptions on the price of oil, the rate of economic growth, and the characteristics of new technologies, will be released in January 2004, along with regional projections and a report on the major assumptions underlying the projections.
Federal Agencies Would Turn Woody Biomass into EnergyWASHINGTON, DC,
December 16, 2003 (ENS) - A conference to address the barriers to utilization of forest and woodland biomass for energy and small diameter wood products is planned for January. Now that Congress has passed the Bush administration's plan for forest thinning, this conference is designed to find ways to utilize the woody biomass that is removed.
Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton announced today that three federal departments - Interior, Energy and Agriculture together with the Western overnor's Association, the National Association of Counties and the Council of Energy Resource Tribes will meet to discuss bioenergy and wood products January 20-22, 2004, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Denver, Colorado.
In June, the heads of Interior, Energy and Agriculture signed a memo of understanding to encourage utilization of woody biomass by-products that result from forest, woodland, and rangeland restoration and fuel treatments. When forests are thinned to reduce the likelihood of wildfires, instead of burning or other on-site disposal methods, the small wood and brush that is removed could be used to produce energy, the memo provides.
Together the agencies involved in the conference manage more than 1.2 billion acres of U.S. public and private lands. The Agriculture Department is responsible for the management of 192 million acres of National Forest System lands and for assisting in the management of 430 million acres of state and private forest lands. The Interior Department is responsible for the management of 507 million acres of surface lands, of which some 120 million acres are forest and woodlands.
Energy is "a key market for low-value woody biomass," the memo of understanding states, and the Energy and Agriculture Departments fund, support, and/or conduct a major share of the research concerning biomass energy alternatives.
"Woody biomass utilization can help reduce or offset the cost and increase the quality of the restoration or hazardous fuel reduction treatments," the memo states.
Utilization of woody biomass utilization may result in "more diverse forest ecosystems, characterized by native flora and fauna, healthy watersheds, better air quality, improved scenic qualities, more fire resilient landscapes, and reduced wildfire threats to communities, and may provide an alternative waste management strategy," the three agencies agreed in their memo.
The conference includes speakers from industry such as W. Henson Moore who heads the American Forest & Paper Association, and a few representatives of conservation organizations such as Ed Brunson from The Nature Conservancy in Boise, Idaho, who will moderate a panel called Collaborative Efforts to Restore Forest Rangeland Health. Many speakers are state and federal foresters.
The conference will consider some practical methods of developing a sustainable market for woody biomass. According to the three agencies' memo of understanding, the goverment would like to "promote renewable energy marketing strategies to stimulate investments in woody biomass utilization."
The scenario might include an option for retail electric power customers to pay a premium to purchase electricity generated from woody biomass gathered from restoration or hazardous fuels treatments.
Oklahoma's Tar Creek Superfund Mine Waste to Be AddressedWASHINGTON, DC,
December 16, 2003 (ENS) - A multi-million dollar agreement has been reached between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Interior, and two mining companies to coordinate the process of cleaning up mill pond mining waste and large piles of contaminated mine waste known as chat piles at the Tar Creek Superfund site in Oklahoma - one of the nation's largest Superfund sites.
The agreement, signed December 9 and made public Friday, is a legally binding Administrative Order on Consent. It names Blue Tee Corp. and Gold Fields Mining Corporation as "liable" parties, and while the mining companies do not agree with this allegation, they have agreed not to challenge it.
The federal government will initally pay $2.76 million of the assessment costs, and the EPA will perform both a Human Health Baseline Risk Assessment and an Ecological Baseline Risk Assessment as part of the remedial investigation. The two mining companies must support EPA by providing site characterization information and they must perform the assessment or hire contractors to do so.
The EPA says the consent order complements a compact among the federal agencies announced in May to speed up efforts to clean the site, and a plan put forward by U.S. Senator James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, the state of Oklahoma and tribal leaders.
"This agreement marks unprecedented cooperation between federal, state, tribal and local interests to respond to the challenges at Tar Creek. I am confident that working together to build a comprehensive approach is the only way we can accomplish our mission of cleaning up this huge mess," said EPA Regional Administrator Richard Greene.
In May, Inhofe said the inter-agency agreement between EPA, the Interior Department, and the Army Corps of Engineers was "the beginning of a "responsible, cooperative effort" after many years of inter-agency wrangling over which agency was responsible for the mess.
The May memo states that the agencies will “develop a coordinated approach to address the numerous health, safety and environmental issues affecting the Tar Creek Superfund Site." The memo outlines how the agencies will work together on such issues as plugging mine shafts, securing chat piles from unauthorized access, developing a hydro-geologic model, continuing yard remediation and moving forward with comprehensive cleanup.
The Tar Creek Superfund site includes approximately 40 square miles in northern Ottowa County, Oklahoma, where lead and zinc were mined from 1891 until 1970.
About 19,550 people live in the surrounding area in five mining cities, Picher, Cardin, Quapaw, Commerce, and North Miami, and other areas within Ottawa County. Some 18 percent of the land in the mining area is owned by the Quapaw Tribe and its members.
The principal pollutants are lead, cadmium, and zinc, the EPA states. Wet or dry ponds containing mine tailings cover approximately 800 acres.
Some 75 million tons of hazardous waste called chat remain on the surface of the ground. Chat piles are located throughout the communities in close proximity to homes.
The chat piles are heaps of hazardous waste materials made up of lead, zinc and cadmium left near mineshafts and processing centers operated by the mines from the early 1900s to the mid-1970s.
In an October article for "The Cherokee Nation" newspaper, Will Chavez writes, "For years the chat piles were a play area for children and adults and many were poisoned by lead. Lead poisoning can cause cognitive disabilities, decreased growth, hyperactivity, impaired hearing and even death."
Students in the town of Miami live near approximately 75 million tons of chat piles scattered throughout the area. "Some are 150 feet high and loom over the towns of Picher and Cardin," writes Chavez. "Only recently have people in the area been informed of the dangers hidden in the chat."
The EPA says that blood lead levels in area children were "reduced by half as a result of the EPA residential cleanup that began in 1995." Contaminated soil from about 2,000 residential properties, three day care centers and 20 public access areas in five communities has been removed and replaced with clean soil.
Cherokee citizen Rebecca Jim of Vinita, Oklahoma has formed a lead research partnership project with a local hospital and Harvard University to study the affects of lead on children in the Tar Creek area.
More information about Tar Creek is available at: http://www.epa.gov/earth1r6/6sf/pdffiles/tarcreek.pdf. A copy of the agreement and other supporting documents are available at: http://www.epa.gov/region6/6xa/tar_creek_aoc.pdf and http://www.epa.gov/region6/6xa/tar_creek_atch.pdf.
30 Year Legal Fight Over California's Owens River SettledLOS ANGELES, California,
December 16, 2003 (ENS) - A tentative agreement among the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), Inyo County, environmental groups, and state agencies to restore water to a 62 mile stretch of the Owens River drew praise today from Los Angeles Mayor Jim Hahn. The agreement brings the parties closer to settling more than 30 years of legal disputes over the city's groundwater pumping in Inyo County.
The Lower Owens River Project will return a steady flow of water from the Los Angeles Aqueduct to the Owens River below Big Pine and down to the Delta of Owens Lake. The project will create a healthy riparian ecosystem along the river as well as spread additional water into basins to create wetlands habitat for waterfowl and shore birds.
The proposed agreement, which is subject to approval by all parties involved in the current litigation, paves the way for LADWP to go forward with one of the nation's largest river restoration projects. The LADWP Board of Water and Power Commissioners is scheduled to consider the agreement during a closed session on Wednesday.
Elements of the agreement are confidential until it is considered by the governing bodies of all parties. Generally, it sets deadlines for completion of environmental reviews and for the release of water flows to the river, as well as resolves outstanding issues that have stalled settlement discussions. If all parties stipulate to the agreement, it would basically put the litigation on hold while the required actions are carried out.
"This agreement signals the end of years of settlement discussions and begins a new spirit of cooperation that fulfills the city's environmental responsibility in the Owens Valley and demonstrates our commitment to restore and protect the natural resources of the Eastern Sierra watershed," said Mayor Hahn.
The legal disputes date back to 1972, when Inyo County filed a lawsuit against LADWP over the construction and operation of the second Los Angeles Aqueduct, contending that groundwater pumping to fill the aqueduct caused environmental damage and violated state law. The lawsuit called for the city to provide an environmental impact study of increased groundwater pumping under the recently enacted CEQA laws.
After several interim stages, in November 2002, the LADWP and Inyo County released a draft Environmental Impact Report describing details of the Lower Owens River Project.
Since then, LADWP administrators have been working to resolve several outstanding issues with Inyo County and other parties, including the State Lands Commission, the California Department of Fish and Game, the Owens Valley Committee and the Sierra Club.
"We have been diligently working for the past 24 months to resolve these issues so that the project can move forward," said David Wiggs, general manager of LADWP who said the Lower Owens River Project "will return life to the Owens River."
The Lower Owens River Project represents one of the most significant river habitat restoration projects undertaken in the United States, according to Mark Hill, a ecologist whose consulting firm, Ecosystem Sciences, Inc., developed the ecosystem management plan.
Hill said the project is designed to "let nature go to work restoring stream and riparian habitats, using sound flow and land management practices."
Palmdale Water District Must Cut Toxic DisinfectantsLOS ANGELES, California,
December 16, 2003 (ENS) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered the Palmdale Water District of southern California to reduce the levels of disinfection byproducts from its drinking water system. The city, located north of Los Angeles near the Angeles San Gabrial Mountains National Forest, has been named one of the fastest growing communities in the United States.
Twice this past summer, the water district, which serves some 90,000 customers, reported trihalomethane levels above the allowable federal limit. Trihalomethanes are formed when chlorine reacts with natural organic compounds during the treatment process to disinfect drinking water.
After many years of consumption, trihalomethanes may cause liver, kidney or central nervous system problems, and may increase the risk of cancer, the EPA warns.
"Public drinking water systems have a responsibility to comply with national health based drinking water standards," said Alexis Strauss, the U.S. EPA's water division director in the Pacific Southwest region. "Chemical byproducts in treated drinking water need to be monitored, reported and reduced to meet federal health standards."
The order requires the Palmdale Water District to notify the EPA of how it intends to stop trihalomethane violations within 30 days, and gives the water district until April 2004 to comply with disinfection provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act.
The federal drinking water standard for trihalomethanes is 80 parts per billion. Palmdale's systemwide, annual average concentration reached approximately 85 ppb.
The district has already begun reducing these levels and recent sampling indicates that system-wide trihalomethane levels are falling.
The EPA said it took action because of "an absence of state regulations for more stringent control of disinfectants and disinfection byproducts in drinking water."
In 2002, the federal agency began enforcing the new federal disinfectants and disinfection byproducts rule to protect public health from potentially harmful chemicals. This is the third action taken by the EPA in California under the new regulation.
The disinfectants and disinfection byproducts rule currently regulates surface water systems serving 10,000 or more customers. The rule will also apply to smaller surface water systems as well as ground water systems starting in 2004.
Florida Fills in Pieces of Greenway and BluewayTALLAHASSEE, Florida,
December 16, 2003 (ENS) - Governor Jeb Bush and the Florida Cabinet voted today to add 251 acres to the Cross Florida Greenway. Stretching from the St. Johns River to the Gulf of Mexico, the 110 mile greenway covers more than 94,500 acres with some 200 miles of trails.
Today’s acquisition provides a connection to the Ocala National Forest and preserves habitat for the Florida black bear and other rare wildlife, including the fox squirrel, gopher tortoise, scrub jay and the federally listed Etoniah rosemary. Purchase of the 251 acre parcel, part of the Deep Creek floodplain, also protects water quality in the Ocklawaha River, Florida officials said.
“The Cross Florida Greenway is the crown jewel in our statewide greenways and trails system,” said state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Greenways and Trails Director Jena Brooks.
The Etoniah parcel will be managed by DEP’s Office of Greenways and Trails as an addition to the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, which includes America’s first land bridge. Trailheads provide opportunities to hike, bike, horseback ride, off-road cycle and canoe through four counties - Citrus, Levy, Marion and Putnam, Brooks said.
To expand the Northeast Florida Blueway, the governor and cabinet today approved the addition of an 11 acre piece of waterfront land in St. Johns County - one of the few remaining undeveloped waterfront parcels along the Intracoastal Waterway.
Located in a rapidly developing area, state ownership of this property strengthens the ecological connection between the Matanzas State Forest and Moses Creek, state officials said. The state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Division of Forestry will manage the land.
When complete, the Northeast Florida Blueway will connect natural areas to form a continuous land corridor along the First Coast, an area of northeast Florida that calls itself first in history since Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon first arrived in 1513 in search of the Fountain of Youth.
The Blueway is intended to be a chain of undisturbed marshland that will support a recreational and commercial fishery and provide shelter to rare birds, including the great egret, little blue heron and marsh wren.
Both purchases are part of the 10 year, $3 billion Florida Forever program established by Governor Bush to conserve environmentally sensitive land, restore water resources and preserve cultural and historical resources. Nearly 8,700 acres of the Florida Forever conservation project are now in public ownership.
Stanley First Furniture Maker to Win EPA RecognitionMARTINSVILLE, Virginia,
December 16, 2003 (ENS) - The Stanley Furniture Company, one of the largest U.S. furniture manufacturers, today became the first furniture company in the country to be recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a top environmental performer.
The company's Martinsville plant has been named a member of the EPA's prestigious National Environmental Performance Track program, which has honored 300 U.S. companies that consistently exceed environmental regulation requirements and are dedicated to motivating other companies to achieve similar improvements.
"At Stanley, we believe we have a responsibility to protect not just our community, but our environment, from unnecessary pollution," said Jeff Scheffer, Stanley president and CEO.
"This year, for example, our Martinsville facility has recycled 60 tons of paper, cardboard and magazines, thereby saving 990 trees or the equivalent of the trash generated by a family of four in 18 and one-half years. In addition, we have recycled 1,060 tons of processed wood as fuel, saving 118,000 gallons of fuel oil or 17 million cubic feet of natural gas."
Stanley's upper-medium priced dining room, bedroom, home entertainment and home office furniture is sold to furniture specialty stores, department stores and furniture store chains.
"Performance Track facilities represent a new generation of environmental leaders who have the vision to embrace the strategies that will protect the environment for generations to come," says Dan Fiorino, director of the EPA's Performance Incentives Division.
The EPA Performance Track designation carries benefits such as administrative and regulatory incentives which decrease paperwork and increase flexibility in meeting EPA regulations.
The national honor coincides with admittance of the Martinsville facility into the State of Virginia Environmental Excellence E3 Program, for companies with a fully implemented environmental management system, pollution prevention programs and demonstrated performance.
In 2002, Stanley became the first furniture manufacturing company in the nation to successfully implement a proactive environmental program, called Enhancing Furniture's Environmental Culture, created by the American Furniture Manufacturer's Association.
Three years ago, Stanley began a comprehensive recycling program at its Martinsville facility. "We have been recycling wood, metal, paper and cardboard," says Dave Maddox, Stanley's director of Environmental Engineering. "An added benefit has been a significant financial savings. The cost of trash pickup, as well as fuel expenses, has decreased."
Former Interior Secretary Babbitt Endorses Dean for PresidentPHOENIX, Arizona,
December 16, 2003 (ENS) - Democratic Presidential hopeful former Vermont Governor Howard Dean picked up two more high profile Democratic endorsements today, one week after former Vice President Al Gore announced his support. Today, former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and former Ambassador Harriett "Hattie" Babbitt offered their endorsements at a rally in Sun City, Arizona.
Bruce Babbitt, who served as the Secretary of Interior during the Clinton Administration, was the Governor of Arizona from 1978 until 1987. Babbitt is presently of counsel in Latham & Watkins Washington D.C. law office, where his practice focuses on environmental and natural resources matters.
Bruce Babbitt said, "I believe Governor Dean has what it takes - executive experience, vision, knowledge and a burning desire to change the wrongs of society. I know he would carry these same attributes with him to the White House and make this a better country for our citizens. I am pleased to add my voice to those of former Vice President [Al] Gore and others in our support of Governor Dean."
Hattie Babbitt, senior vice president of Hunt Alternatives Fund in Washington, DC, is former deputy administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. From 1993 to 1997, during the Clinton Administration, she was U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States.
Dean's environmental policy statements focus on the dangers of global warming, support for renewable energy generation, and the environment as a health care issue. "Global warming threatens cataclysmic effects on our environment, our economy, and our way of life. Air pollution damages the lungs of our children if they play downwind of the wrong facility. And our cities and suburbs continue to sprawl, eating up farmland and forests," the candidate said.
Environmental policy cannot be separated from other issues such as energy, trade, or economic policy, says Dean, who would elevate the Environmental Protection Agency to cabinet status.
In line with Clinton administration policies, Dean says "a healthy environment and a healthy economy go hand in hand."
"America should lead the way toward international environmental cooperation," Dean states. "In an act of diplomatic and environmental petulance, President Bush gave the back of his hand to the Kyoto Protocol. In doing so, he squandered much of America’s moral authority."
Hattie Babbitt says that particular Dean policy has attracted her support. "My vast experience in international matters has shown me that we need to have a President who understands the importance of rebuilding our alliances and partnerships with other nations in advancing our values and interests around the world. Dr. Dean appreciates our historical relationships and economic interdependency with other nations," she said.
On the campaign trail today in Arizona and New Mexico, Dean said, "I'm proud that Secretary Babbitt and Ambassador Babbitt have decided to join our campaign."
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