August 5, 2020

Panama’s Hydropower Development Defined By Fierce Resistance and Tough Choices

CHANGUINOLA, Panama – Rain clouds regularly settle atop the 1800-meter (5900-foot) summits of the Cordillera de Talamanca, the mountain spine that separates the Pacific Ocean from the Caribbean in Panama’s Bocas del Toro province. When the mist clears, the full measure of the blue sea, powerful rivers, and splendid forests full of toucans and cacao trees is visible and stunning. In the five centuries since Christopher Columbus alighted on the beaches of Bocas del Toro …

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Warnings — They Are So Easy To Ignore

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Reporting on a righteous disaster, one that unfolds in the various stages of direct impact, colossal damage, rising body counts, and fiercesome cost, always comes with the mandatory account of warnings issued and ignored. Ten days ago a mountain slope collapsed north of Seattle, unleashing a river of mud on a rural community, killing over 20 people and causing an estimated $10 million in damage to property. It is said to be …

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Abu Dhabi Slowly Pursues A Water-Conserving, Cleaner Energy Path

ABU DHABI — Just across an expanse of sand and highway, close to this capital city’s airport, lies a collection of modern buildings promoted here as the example incarnate of what’s possible when a nation fueled by oil decides that the supply of its primary natural and economic resource is finite. It’s a beginning. But just that. A beginning. Masdar City, as it’s called, is a state-sponsored planned development that isn’t yet close to being …

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Ontario Shuts Its Coal Plants

Among the countries tied to coal-fired power is China, which certainly can learn from Ontario’s program to phase the dirtiest fuel out of its generating sector. Here a coal-fired plant operates in Urumqi in western Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Photo/Keith Schneider As recently as 2007, the Energy Information Administration (EIA), a research unit of the U.S. Department of Energy, projected that the fuel mix for producing electricity in the U.S. would persist largely unchanged through …

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Frack Or Not To Frack? That’s Just One Question

At the corner of US 31 and County Line Road in Benzie County, one of the more than 9,000 Antrim Shale natural gas wells drilled in Michigan since the late 1980s. Michigan’s Antrim Shale was among the first natural gas reserves in the U.S. developed from hydrocarbon-bearing shales. Photo/Heather Rousseau BENZONIA, MI — It’s apparent why a great number of Americans wonder about the risks of fracking and whether states and the federal government ought …

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Wind Energy Successes in Michigan

The farm fields and rolling hills near Ludington, Michigan, sport new decoration now: big wind turbines that take advantage of the gales of nearby Lake Michigan. Consumers Energy, Michigan’s statewide utility, is constructing the $235 million, 56-turbine, 100-megawatt Lake Winds Energy Park with Danish-designed Vestas equipment, some of which arrives in Mason County by rail. The winter white towers and turbine blades soar above orchards, forest, and cropland, powerful sentinels of Michigan’s capacity to reckon …

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Beyond Boom and Bust: Report Says Collapsing Federal Support Means More Trouble For U.S. Clean Energy

Late in July 2008, when gas prices broke $4.00 a gallon for the first time and when the “drill baby drill!” chant was first heard at John McCain rallies, I flew to Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago. The mission: to rally support for Obama’s clean energy, good jobs message among the leaders of his media team, who were nervous about the political costs of rising energy prices. At the time I was national communications …

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Mismatch in Barriers: Fossil Fuel (low) vs. Clean Energy (high)

Starting in 1989, a group of wildcatters raced across a 12-county stretch of northern Michigan to drill natural gas wells, and build all the roads, pipelines, pumping stations, and processing facilities to develop the region’s Antrim shale, the first shale gas play tapped in the U.S. For most of that time, until Wyoming’s coalbed-methane reserve development really got rolling in the late-1990s, northern Michigan was the most intensively drilled region of the continent. More than …

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Ohio’s Fossil Fuel Boom Dims Wind and Solar Development

The story of American energy used to be we use too much. There’s not enough. And a technical breakthrough in clean alternatives will save us. How 20th century. The new narrative – really, it’s true — of American energy is this: We’re using less. A national boom in oil and gas production, engulfing 12 states from California to Pennsylvania and North Dakota to Texas, is showing we have much more than we thought. And the …

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Gas, Steel, and Clean Energy in Confrontation in Ohio

Making the complex simpler to understand is one of the guiding missions of my life as a journalist. In the last several years, in reporting from Australia, Europe, Asia, and North America, I’ve devoted much of my time to reporting on global energy issues, particularly the coal production and clean energy surge in China; the gas and oil boom in North America, and the promising rise and troubled fall of clean energy prospects in the …

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