Tag Archive for 'Department of Energy'

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  A new Department of Energy study indicates that the universe is running out of electrons, i.e., free electrons not already held within a flashlight battery or an app or an Internet-of-Things application or Youtube cat videos.  “It sounds inconceivable,” MIT professor Dymm Witt said in a recent lecture, “but there are a finite number of particles in our world, as immeasurable as that once seemed to be.  But it takes electrons in motion to, well, respond to billions of constantly working thumbs.  Everyone has two thumbs,” Dr. Witt advised students, “and that adds up to a lot of constant electrical demand.”  Witt said that even wood, old 2x4s in your basement, for example, are now electrically charged, like cell phones, iPads, laptops, and EVs place a premium on any undisputed electron from here to Taurus Afurass, 200 billion light years away.
*  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) made two important announcements this week: one, that upcoming hearings will be in Latin and, second, that commissioners and hearing participants must wear wigs.  “Non inhaero ad furca ad ostium tabernaculi,” Slip op. 10, “whatever the hell that means,” remarked Commissioner Leck Tron, who explained that “we are a legal and formal process; clarity is job number 1 for the Foederati Industria Regulatory Commissione bigas.”  In a press release, FERC said a toupee, no matter what color, will not count as a wig, although it can be worn under the wig or transferred discreetly to a brief-case or purse at the start of a hearing.  In the 200 page ruling, Commissioner Tron said Latin to English translations will not be provided (except for a fee).  He said, “nobody can figure out what we do anyway so why translate from Latin to sine fine particularibus infimis?”  Wigs will be collected after each hearing and given a good shakepostridie parati.
*  You’ve likely seen reference to “cultured meats,” i.e., collections of live animal cells grown within very specific conditions, critical research for food and related to efforts to re-grow human organs. Turns out that a few buckets of this slop were recently delivered to at least one Silicon Valley lab.The reason: venture teams are trying to develop a third arm and hand, something that can be affixed, still to be determined how and where, to a person so that after transplant she/he can use both regular hands and still hold a cell phone.“We’ve had new moms and dads complain that it’s really hard to change a baby and hold a phone,” commented director Lawng Gnudle, “right now, this is early stage.”  Another likely application, Gnudle suggested, might be for people who unload a grocery cart with just one hand because they can’t put their phone down.  Gnudle said this would likely, at first, be a somewhat rudimentary appendage. An “enhanced person,” he said, couldn’t play both parts of a piano duet, for example. Well, maybe both parts of   

Tom Ewing

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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  News from Michigan about two contaminants found in groundwater used for drinking water.  The report forced the anguished question: just how isolated or singular was MI’s struggle with lead, or is lead just one element in a witches brew with other poisons only awaiting discovery?  The contaminants are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), ubiquitous compounds used in everything from carpets to insect baits to dental floss.  Companies are phasing out production but exposure is widespread.  Some good news: recent data indicates declining levels in human blood.  Health effects?  No solid evidence about any one thing.  Last week Michigan DEQ set a drinking water criterion for the compounds: 0.07 μg/L (70 parts per trillion), based on an EPA health advisory.  With a standard in place, the state can now take legal action against polluters.
*  The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced draft guidelines for the use of a “Design Envelope” approach in Construction and Operations Plans (COPs) for offshore wind energy facilities.  BOEM says developers wanted this design approach, standard in some European countries for permitting processes.  The change gives flexibility in certain project-design decisions—e.g., which turbines to use—at a more commercially advantageous time in the development process.  BOEM writes this change results partly from the Administration’s regulatory streamlining work; it could reduce redundant environmental reviews while still maintaining appropriate safeguards.  The agency holds an introductory webinar end of January.
*  Department of Energy (DOE) and many other agencies started to make available their semiannual Unified Agendas of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Agenda), including Regulatory Plans.  The Agendas are a government-wide compilation of upcoming and ongoing regulatory activity, including a brief description of each rulemaking and a timetable for action. The Agendas also include a list of regulatory actions completed since publication of the last Agenda. One important rulemaking under development at DOE is called “Modifying the Energy Conservation Program to Implement a Market-Based Approach.”  Last November, DOE published a request for information on how this idea might work.  Comments are due in February.

Tom Ewing
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U.S. Under Secretary for Energy to Speak at Green Truck Summit

U.S. Under Secretary for Energy Kristina Johnson, Ph.D., will deliver the keynote address at the Green Truck Summit in St. Louis on March 9. Johnson, who is responsible for Department of Energy (DOE) programs in energy efficiency, renewable energy, environmental management, fossil energy, nuclear energy, and energy reliability, will speak on “U.S. Opportunities for Increasing Commercial Truck Productivity.”

Johnson will be welcomed to the podium by U.S. Representative Gary Peters (MI), who is receiving the Green Truck Leadership Award at the event. Peters is the author of the Advanced Vehicle Technology Act of 2009 (H.R. 3246), which contains provisions to benefit organizations that partner with the DOE to design and build the next generation of fuel-efficient commercial trucks. This legislation passed the House in September, and companion legislation is currently pending in the Senate.

The Green Truck Summit is the leading educational conference addressing “green” technology for work trucks, including hybrid and alternative fuels. It is held March 9 and 10 in conjunction with The Work Truck Show®, North America’s largest work truck event, at America’s Center in St. Louis. The Work Truck Show runs March 10-12. It is produced annually by the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA), which jointly produces and manages the Green Truck Summit with CALSTART.

Johnson is internationally recognized for her academic and engineering achievements. She holds 129 U.S. and international patents and patents pending. She has received a number of awards, including the John Fritz Medal, widely considered the highest award in the engineering profession. In addition to her extensive academic career, Johnson also helped found several companies, including ColorLink, Inc., SouthEast Techinventures, and Unyos.

“We are delighted to have a keynote speaker of Dr. Johnson’s caliber at the Green Truck Summit,” says Jim Carney, NTEA executive director. “Our attendees are sure to benefit from the top-level insights she and Congressman Peters can provide into what is happening in Washington that will impact companies manufacturing and using hybrid and alternative fuel work trucks today and into the future.”

For more information and to register for the Green Truck Summit, visit www.ntea.com or call 1-800-441-NTEA (6832).

About the NTEA

Established in 1964, the NTEA is the leading association supporting the $101 billion commercial truck and trailer industry. The Association currently represents nearly 1,600 companies that manufacture, distribute, install, sell and repair commercial trucks, bodies, equipment, trailers and accessories. The Association maintains its administrative headquarters in suburban Detroit and a government relations office in Washington, DC.

About CALSTART

CALSTART is North America’s leading advanced transportation technologies consortium. It is a participant-supported organization of more than 140 firms and organizations worldwide, dedicated to expanding and supporting a high-tech transportation industry that cleans the air, creates jobs and improves energy efficiency. CALSTART serves as a strategic broker to spur advanced transportation technologies, fuels, systems and the companies that make them. For more information about CALSTART, visit www.calstart.org or call (626) 744-5600.