Algae to Energy

30 06 2009
From: The New York Times, 2009

From: The New York Times, 2009

The New York Times wrote a brief article on a new technology being tested and piloted by a company called Algenol. It really sounds like an idealistic dream. The way it will work, is carbon dioxide will be pumped into the water of algae farms and the algae will turn that greenhouse gas into ethanol through a totally natural biological process. The ethanol can then be used either in vehicles as fuel, or in plastics to create a more natural product. Additionally, since algae requires little space, land is not wasted for the creation of fuel (as is the case with corn-based ethanol) meaning we have more land available for food production. It sounds too good to be true. It is even assumed that this ethanol will be fairly cheap to produce! I will look more deeply into this new technology.

A fellow blogger has the Times article posted here: http://100000days.wordpress.com/2009/06/30/algae-farm-aims-to-turn-carbon-dioxide-into-fuel/#comment-39





Toxic Ecuador – The continuing battle between citizens and Chevron

29 06 2009
Rainforest Action Network

Rainforest Action Network

Here is an issue that should be receiving more attention. It is a difficult one which will require me to do a lot more reading and a lot more alalyzing because of it’s lengthy history and its incredible possibility of being totally corrupted by dollars. For now though, I will tell you what I see to be true and will encourage any readers to look into the issue further to draw their own conclusions.

The issue: throughout the 80’s and early 90’s, oil giant, Texaco, had drilling operations in the Ecuadorian Amazon (really they’ve been there since the 60’s). Texaco was partnered (37.5%) with another company, Petroecuador (62.5%), and was certainly partly responsible for taking part in irresponsible drilling practices which subsequently polluted (very heavily) the water for approximately 30 000 Ecuadorians who live in the area. The issue that has arisen is in regards to the pits dug to store the billions of gallons of “production water” used during the operation. Production water, for those who don’t know, is the waste water from a drilling operation, always extremely contaminated. To make it worse, these production water pits were designed to actually drain into the subsidiary streams when they overflow.

A few years back, Texaco was bought by another giant, Chevron, which has now taken the hit for Texaco’s misdeeds in the Amazon. Ecuadorian citizens have launched a class action lawsuit against Chevron for a possible $27.3 billion to compensate for the loss of land and extreme health problems that have plagued the area since the oil started flowing. $9 billion of this lawsuit would go towards environmental clean-up, while another $9 billion would go towards cancer victims. Here lies one problem, cancer is not mentioned in the actual lawsuit. To me, this means Chevron won’t be paying out this $9 billion. This lawsuit bagan 16 years ago when the leaders of the Ecuadorian group travelled to New York with the intentions of suing Texaco. This prompted Texaco to make their largest mistake, they requested that the lawsuit be held in Ecuador thinking that the trail would be dropped and they would be off the hook. This didn’t happen. The lawsuit was brought to Ecuador and will be heard by a single judge in a small courtroom located in a tiny amazon village. Chevron does not expect to win. Since 2007, a U.S. court has continued to dismiss the case and Chevron claims to have cleaned up it’s share of the polluted land. A new report released just this past week shows new evidence that Chevron did not actually clean up it’s 45 contaminated sites in question and that seven Ecuadorian Officials actually aided the Chevron’s lawyers in creating a fake clean-up of the oil sites.  Now where is Petroecuador in all of this? Texaco states that the remainder of all clean-up is 100% the responsibility of Petroecuador. They were the larger stakeholder. Well, in American law, the operator of the site can be charged for and illegal activity. In this case, Texaco was the official operator of the entire operation even though they were not the major stakeholder. Chevron seems to know that they will lose the case in Ecuador, they are already prepared to take the case to the world court in Den Hague, the Netherlands.  This type of thing cannot be allowed to happen again, and the guilty parties must take responsibility for what they have done. Just one more reason to relieve ourselves from our dependence on oil, foreign and domestic.

A CBS investigative Report: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=4988079n

From the LA Times: http://articles.latimes.com/2008/nov/17/world/fg-amazonoil17

Chevron’s own biased takes: http://www.chevron.com/ecuador/

A campaign site against Chevron: http://chevrontoxico.com/

Plenty of updates at: http://amazondefensecoalition.wordpress.com/ 





A Quote…

27 06 2009

“We cannot simply be against our current world, we must be for a better future.”





Burning Alive in Kenya

26 06 2009

Does anyone know that this is even happening? I stumbled upon this article hidden at the bottom of the page on the BBC website. It is about the burning of alleged ‘witches’ in a town in Kenya. The authorities do nothing to stop it. Please read the article. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8119201.stm

Kisii - the location of the burnings

Kisii - the location of the burnings





Climate Change Bill in the U.S.

26 06 2009

So it looks as though a new climate change bill is soon to be passed in the United States – that is as long as farmers let it happen. Here are some concessions that have been made to the bill as per the request of Collin C. Peterson, the Minnesota Representative:

  1. The Department of Agriculture will now be in charge of regulating offsets that can be purchased by big polluters. The department of agriculture you ask? Isn’t there some body more qualified, like…the Environmantal Protection Agency maybe? Not according to Peterson.
  2. The EPA will be disregarding the indirect climate impacts of biofuels, like ethanol, which encourages the clearing of forested land for the production of corn.
  3. This one shouldn’t blame the farmers, but also, renewable energy has been altered to include that provided by the burning of landfill gas. Additionally, states can reduce their renewable energy requirement by improving energy efficiency, which is something that should actually be entirely separate.

For more surrounding this bill check out this editorial from the L.A. Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-ed-climate26-2009jun26,0,5647633.story