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energy

Activists deliver a petition asking the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to divest from fossil fuels.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

While the world's richest man was meeting with world leaders in Paris at the global climate summit, climate activists marched on his foundation's Seattle headquarters Monday.

Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.
Flickr Photo/Ryan Raffa (CC BY SA 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1iMN9iL

Ross Reynolds talks to Emily Parkhurst, an editor for the Puget Sound Business Journal, about the University of Washington's new deal with Tsinghua University in Beijing to study clean energy technology.

An energy company wants to build a transfer terminal in Longview, Washington that could handle liquefied petroleum gas and crude oil, according to documents reviewed Friday by OPB.

The project is an expansion on an already proposed oil refinery for Longview.

The documents were obtained by Columbia River Keeper through a public records request. They describe an “off-load and transfer terminal” at the Port of Longview that could handle up to two unit trains per day.

What if there were a way to take the waste heat that spews from car tailpipes or power plant chimneys and turn it into electricity? Matt Scullin thinks there is, and he's formed a company to turn that idea into a reality.

The key to Scullin's plans is something called thermoelectrics. "A thermoelectric is a material that turns heat into electricity," he says.

Electric vehicles charging on the state Capitol campus in Olympia, Washington.
Flickr Photo/Washington State House Republicans (CC BY ND 2.0)

David Hyde talks to Mercer Island Mayor Bruce Bassett about why he and others are trying to get Puget Sound Energy to reduce reliance on coal.  

Clark County Judge David Gregerson ruled Friday that port leaders in Vancouver, Washington didn’t violate state laws in 2013 when they negotiated a lease for an oil terminal.

The lease between Tesoro-Savage companies and the port remains in place. If built, the terminal project could ship 360,000 barrels of oil daily from the port to refineries along the West Coast.

Dean Smith, who retired from the NSA, now tracks oil trains. He has gotten more information to the state in one week than oil companies have in three years.
EarthFix/KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

EVERETT, Wash. – Dean Smith, 72, sits in his car by the tracks north of Seattle.

It’s a dark, rainy Tuesday night, and Smith waits for an oil train to come through town. These trains are distinctive: A mile long, they haul 100 or so black, pill-shaped cars that each carry 30,000 gallons of crude oil.

The Clean Energy Governor And The Columbia River Oil Refinery

Jun 7, 2015

A new oil refinery is the last thing you might expect Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's administration to be courting. After all, Inslee has developed a national reputation as a champion of curbing the use of fossil fuels.

U.S. Coast Guard

A new report from The National Transportation Safety Board says poor planning and risk assessment by Shell Oil led to the wreck of the Kulluk oil rig off the coast of Alaska in December 2012.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Protesters of Arctic drilling have run afoul of the ocean environment in their own small way.

In addition to assembling a flotilla of kayaks on Seattle's Elliott Bay last weekend, the activists brought in a construction barge. It's a solar-powered platform for protests against Shell Oil's plans to drill in the Arctic Ocean. But the protesters anchored their solar barge over one of Seattle's most popular sites for scuba diving. 

The Oregon Department of Energy announced $1.5 million in grants Thursday to developers across the state. Of the 17 projects the department funded, all but one involves solar power.

The one exception is a $110,000 hydroelectric project for the Sisters Irrigation District. The solar recipients include a school, two ranches, a theater, a visitors center, and two affordable housing projects.

The biggest awards were $250,000 each for proposals based in Klamath Falls, Sheridan and St. Paul.

As the energy giant Shell moves floating drill rigs from shipyards in Asia to Alaska's north coast, hundreds of kayakers took to the water in a flotilla of protest.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

In some ways, this protest was like any other: banners everywhere, with messages like "Climate Justice" and "Shell No." 

But there were sounds you don't hear at the usual Seattle demonstration: Splashing and clanking sounds as boats moved through downtown waters.

EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

Ross Reynolds talks with King County Executive Dow Constantine about his concerns about coal and what he wants the state to do about it.

Air pollution caused by wood stoves in Washington is in line with federal clean air requirements for the first time in seven years.

Marcie Sillman talks with Houston Chronicle energy policy reporter Jennifer Dlouhy about Shell's plans to explore Arctic oil and gas drilling this summer.

The Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission did not reject a controversial propane export terminal as opponents urged it to do on Tuesday.

Instead, the board voted 6-4 to recommend a zone change and a carbon fee. The recommendation goes to the Portland City Council for final approval.

Why The Nuclear Energy World Is Thinking Small

Mar 13, 2015

In the world of nuclear power, one technology is generating debate: factory-produced reactors that are no bigger than a house.

These "small modular reactors" are designed to produce power on the scale of a single factory or business campus. That’s a big departure from a traditional nuclear plant — the kind that's powerful enough to run an entire metropolis and big enough to be seen from miles away.

Nicaragua produces no oil, but is a land of fierce winds, tropical sun and rumbling volcanoes. In other words, it's a renewable energy paradise — and today the Central American nation is moving quickly to become a green energy powerhouse. Within a few years the vast majority of Nicaragua's electricity will come from hydroelectric dams, geothermal plants and wind farms.

Nicaragua's largest wind farm lies on the shores of giant Lake Nicaragua, which stretches halfway across the country.

An activist in Eugene has created a block-long art installation to protest a proposed natural gas pipeline being proposed for Southern Oregon.

Mary DeMocker constructed a 300-foot-long fake pipeline out of wire and black plastic sheeting. It runs across the yards of six houses near the University of Oregon. Each house is marked with a large banner reading “condemned.”

Oregon Bill Would Eliminate Coal-Fired Power By 2025

Feb 4, 2015

A bill in the Oregon Legislature this session would require electric companies to stop delivering coal-fired power to Oregon customers by 2025.

The replacement power would have to come from sources that are 90 percent cleaner than coal plants.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Tobias Read (D-Beaverton) and Sen. Chris Edwards (D-Eugene), targets coal-fired power coming into Oregon from out of state. Oregon's only coal-fired power plant in Boardman is scheduled to be retired in 2020.

U.S. Coast Guard/Travis Marsh

The Seattle Port Commission decided on Tuesday to let Shell Oil's Arctic drilling fleet use West Seattle as its home port.

Shell's drill rigs and barges would overwinter at the Port of Seattle's Terminal 5 in West Seattle while the terminal is being renovated.

How Canada Will Change In 2015

Jan 7, 2015

Ross Reynolds talks with Vaughn Palmer, columnist with the Vancouver Sun, about upcoming Canadian elections and the devastation wreaked by low oil prices on the economy.

Bill Gates Helps Make Water From Human Waste

Jan 7, 2015
Courtesy of GatesNotes

Bill Gates will put his money where his mouth is when it comes to getting potable water to developing countries.

On his blog, Gates posted a video of a machine that makes “sewage sludge” a renewable resource.  Developed by Sedro-Woolley company Janicki Bioenergy, the project is being funded by the Gates Foundation.

Called the Omniprocessor, the machine burns solid human waste and transforms it into electricity, clean ash and, most importantly, clean drinking water.

So clean that Bill Gates would drink it — and he does.

An oil tanker and a container ship about to cross paths near Seattle.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Oil tankers bring about 15 million gallons of oil every day into Washington state. Starting Jan. 1, those ships are required to have double hulls.

The oil-spill prevention measure has been in the works for decades, ever since Capt. Joseph Hazelwood ran the Exxon Valdez onto Alaska's Bligh Reef in 1989. Eleven million gallons of oil spilled into Prince William Sound, killing thousands of seabirds and sea otters, devastating the region's fisheries and unleashing action in Washington, D.C.

King County has been working on different recycling products for Loop, aka waste treatment biosolids. One Seattle startup thinks biofuel is the answer.
Screen shot from YouTube/Loop biosolids

A Seattle startup hopes that in the near future, every time you flush your toilet you help power your car.

Vitruvian Energy has developed technology that turns biosolids – the dirt-like material left over once sewage has been treated at a plant and the inert water returned to the watershed – into biofuel. Right now the company is crowdfunding to launch their fuel locally.

It takes about 53 pounds of biosolids to make a gallon of EEB, Vitruvian’s biofuel. The biosolids are run through a series of biological and chemical steps to go from a dirt-like material to a clear liquid that has a sweet smell.

Flickr Photo/xxxtoff (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Vaughn Palmer, columnist for the Vancouver Sun, about the return of Avian flu to British Columbia. They also discuss the legal battles of anti-oil pipeline demonstrators.

Ross Reynolds talks with Vaughn Palmer, columnist for the Vancouver Sun, about protests over oil pipelines in Canada, and international Thanksgiving travel.

Canadians Cope With Crushed Keystone XL Dreams

Nov 19, 2014
Protesters of the Keystone Pipeline in San Francisco, Calif., in November 2013.
Flickr Photo/Enviros (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Vaughn Palmer, columnist for the Vancouver Sun, about Canadians' response to the United States Senate's rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline and the results of the Vancouver, B.C. mayoral race.

Two IAEA experts examine recovery work on top of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in April 2013.
Flickr Photo/IAEA Imagebank (CC-BY-NC-ND)

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami crippled Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Physician and anti-nuclear activist Dr. Helen Caldicott calls into question reporting about that event and its aftermath. Her frank assessment of the people who control nuclear power: “Don’t believe anything the nuclear industry says, because they lie.”

What are the effects of the Fukushima meltdowns? In 2013, in response to concerns that media and policy makers were ignoring the impacts, a panel of scientists, engineers and policy experts met in New York to review the aftermath of the disaster. 

A little-known fact about Columbia River dams is that a valuable chunk of the power generated on the U.S. side goes to Canada under an international treaty.

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