bio fuels

Alternative Energy Possibilities and Perspectives

Terra Informa February 15, 2010 -Geothermal, Sustainability Projects, and Oil Sands Part 2 (Download/Listen Online)

This week’s episode brings lots of bonus features and is focused on a loose theme of alternative energy, with segments looking at biofuel transportation, geothermal power generation and a critical look at the Alberta oil sands. First off Steve Anderson did the hosting and Eric Bowling compiled the news summary.

The Alberta government is investing $2 million dollars into what is it describing as a “one stop action center” which will provide advice to municipalities on how to reduce energy costs in their facilities as well as host energy efficiency workshops around the province. The center located at the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association was built with recycled materials and a solar panel, has its own wind turbine and co-generation unit, and several other high efficiency upgrades.(Edmonton Sun Article)

The Alberta government is reducing air and water quality monitoring as part of a 5.4%, or $17.5 million cut in its environmental portfolio, the government says it will focus its environmental monitoring on developing areas, such as the oil sands and Edmonton’s industrial parks. The cuts in the environmental budget also include a slowing of Carbon Capture and Storage development as well as investments in public transportation. Alberta’s Sustainable Resource Development ministry is receiving cutbacks of $42 million, or a 12 per cent cut and has put on hiatus the popular Junior Forest ranger and Aboriginal Forest ranger programs,  made cuts to numerous fish and wildlife programs and eliminating dozens of jobs in its department.

Whole Foods and Bed Bath and Beyond, have included not buying so called “dirty oil” into their own climate change plans and announced that they will not purchase fuel that comes from Alberta’s oil sands. Whole Foods  have asked their suppliers to not provide any diesel or gasoline that has its origins in Alberta. Bed, Bath and Beyond is being a little less strict, stating its policy will be to prefer fuels with less carbon emissions where possible. Both companies are listed in the Fortune 500.

The University of East Anglia in England has ordered a review of its research into climate change. An external body of scientists, selected by the royal society, will re-examine papers produced by the Climate Research Unit that recently came under fire when over a thousand emails were illegally posted to the internet. The University is also funding a separate team of scientists to investigate the CRU’s handling of information, as well as whether it properly followed Britain’s Freedom of Information Laws.

Greenpeace is asking fans and members alike to support two Japanese activists that  were charged in 2008 after taking a box of whale meat from a mail depot and giving it to Japanese state prosecutors.  The box was labelled “cardboard” but contained fifty pounds of salted whale meat. The Japanese prosecution began an investigation into the activists claims, but ended the investigation the same day the activists were arrested and charged with theft and trespass. If convicted, they could face up to ten years in prison. Their trial began on Monday.  Greenpeace has set up a petition in defence of the two activists. Sign the petition and share the link with your friends.

The founders of Driven to sustain, a non-profit project designed to promote global environmental awareness in the media, have been traveling around north America in a van power by waste vegetable oil. This week Cloe and Tyson share some of their experiences with Terra Informa.

Wondering how geothermal works? What opportunities exist in Alberta? or the green jobs potential for geothermal? well good thing you’re listening to Terra Informa because correspondent and blogger Myles Curry interviews the University of Alberta Energy Clubs geothermal expert, Ryan Saunders, about these topics and a whole lot more. So much more that we couldn’t fit it all in. The full interview features a more in depth discussion of all things geothermal along with a conversation about the university of Alberta energy club. The geothermal bonus features don’t end there, On Terra Bloga Myles explores the potential benefits and feasibility of using abandoned wells for geothermal power generation in Alberta as described in an Energy Club report title GeoNow: A novel approach to geothermal energy in Alberta.

Did you know that in order to extract just one barrel of oil, developers of the Oil Sands must use an average of at least 3 barrels of fresh water? Melina Laboucan-Massimo, from Greenpeace and the Lubicon First Nation was one of the panellists of the stakeholder discussion. She mentioned that in some instances the in-situ process has required 18 barrels of fresh water to loosen the sands from the oil, only to produce one barrel of oil. Jade Gregg’s second segment on the University of Alberta Oil Sands Delegation 2010 focuses on the water, air, land and society  in Northern Alberta’s Oil Sands communities. The delegation ran from Jan 30th-31st in Fort McMurray. Last week Jade brought us day one of the delegation which included a presentation and discussion with Suncor on corporate social responsibility. This week we focus in on day two which consisted of a trip to the Oil Sands Discovery Centre and a stakeholder panel discussion at the Redpoll Centre with the United Way. Here are a selection of pictures that Jade took of the delegations trip.

For all of our Edmonton listeners there is an important event sponsored by the Greater Edmonton Alliance on Feb 22 at City Hall in support of local foods. Here is an excerpt of a blog post Myles wrote about the event.

The Greater Edmonton Alliance is calling for citizens to pack Edmonton city hall on February 22 to show support for the final stage of the effort to include a local food system strategy, and increase the sustainability of, Edmonton’s 10 year municipal development plan (MDP). Twice before with great success GEA has called upon the citizens of Edmonton to flood city hall in support of local food initiatives and demonstrate through a tactful form of protest which makes city council accommodate, and acknowledge, to extraordinary ends the passion of Albertans for a healthy local source of food…..We need to pack City Hall once again to send a message to the provincial government that we are not waiting for their leadership to start creating the kinds of communities we need in a future of climate change and peak oil. This is a fight for local foods but it is also a fight for the long term sustainability of Edmonton, this is the perfect opportunity to begin taking action to create the post carbon society we so desperately need. (Closing the Deal for Farmland Protection)

Terra Informa February 15, 2010 -Geothermal, Sustainability Projects, and Oil Sands Part 2 (Download/Listen Online)

A Photo of Oil Sands Extraction Equipment by Jade Gregg while on the UofA Oil Sands Delegation

Elizabeth May Interview and the Battle Over Mountain Top Removal

Terra Informa January 31 2010 (Download/Listen Here)

Photo by Climate Ground Zero (web albums)

This week Zane brought an insightfull look at the past weeks news. Here are those headlines and links.

According to a recent report prepared for Alberta’s Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) department, there are approximately 23 grizzly bears estimated to occupy Alberta’s Swan Hills. This new information brings the total estimated number of grizzlies in Alberta so far to 604. The status of Alberta’s grizzly bear is currently being reviewed. Following the review, Alberta’s Endangered Species Conservation Committee (ESCC) will make a status recommendation to the Minister of Sustainable Resource Development.

Council of the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada represented by Parks Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada signed a long-awaited agreement to cooperatively manage the proposed Gwaii Haanas national marine conservation area. The federal government and the Haida protected the land through a national park reserve and Haida Heritage Site. But the surrounding ocean ecosystem remains largely unprotected, despite a commitment by both governments to also protect it over 20 years ago. The partnership agreement announced today with the Haida is an important step forward for a future Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA). (Article)

The Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled Thursday that a British Columbia mining development can go ahead, even though the court said the project didn’t go through all the required environmental assessments.  The Supreme Court sided with the appellant, MiningWatch Canada & Eco-justice which had argued that the Red Chris mine project did not go through a full federal environmental study. The decision is expected to mean that future large development projects will need to go through full environmental reviews. (Article)

Sea Shepherd Announces Mediterranean Campaign for the Bluefin Tuna. Both Sea Shepherd ships, the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker, will head for the Mediterranean from the Southern Ocean. The objective will be to intercept and oppose the illegal operations of Bluefin tuna poachers. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meets in March to debate banning trade in the Bluefin. Yet in the lead up to the meeting, the European Union has taken the Bluefin off the agenda so as not to offend the fishermen of France, Malta, Italy, and Greece. Sea Shepherd intends to confront the poachers and will not back down to threats and violence from the fishermen. (Article)

Canada has aligned itself with U.S. policy as it gave the United Nations its target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions under the Copenhagen Accord.  Environment Minister Jim Prentice on Saturday said that by 2020 Canada would reduce emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels, the same target the U.S. announced to the UN on Thursday.  Prentice made the announcement in Calgary, a day before the deadline stipulated in the agreement reached in the Danish capital last month. Prentice said his government now wants to work toward achieving a comprehensive and binding international treaty, building on the framework agreement reached in Copenhagen

Environmentalists with an interest in politics have had reason to feel energized since 2006, when veteran Environmental campaigner Elizabeth May was elected to lead the Canadian Green Party. Under her leadership the party took almost a million votes at the 2008 federal election, their best result ever. Prior to entering politics May was a high profile environmental lawyer and executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada. She has written 7 books and has advised federal governments of all political stripes on environmental policy. Last week Elizabeth May spoke to students at the Sierra Youth Sustainable Campuses Conference. Terra Informa’s David Kaczan caught up with Elizabeth after her address, to discuss climate change and the future of the green party.

In the Appalachian Mountains of the eastern US, a battle is raging. Mining companies are blasting away mountain tops to reach underlying coals seams, locals are worried about their health, and environmentalists have had enough. This past week they shut down one of Massey Energy‘s mines with a tree sit that lasted for nine days. Steve talked to a spokesperson for Climate Ground Zero to find out what was going on.

Terra Informa January 31 2010 (Download/Listen Here)