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Friday, January 23, 2015

Toyota & Dr. Michio Kaku Open the Door to the Hydrogen Automobile Future - See more at:

One of the updates we covered this week on our main site.  We see hydrogen, though some don't like it because it is fossil fuel, as part of the fuel solution:

The Toyota is opening the door to the hydrogen future, making available thousands of hydrogen fuel cell patents royalty free. Announced today at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, this Toyota initiative will spur development and introduction of innovative fuel cell technologies around the world.

Toyota will invite royalty-free use of approximately 5,680 fuel cell related patents held globally, including critical technologies developed for the new Toyota Mirai.  The list includes approximately 1,970 patents related to fuel cell stacks, 290 associated with high-pressure hydrogen tanks, 3,350 related to fuel cell system software control and 70 patents related to hydrogen production and supply.

“At Toyota, we believe that when good ideas are shared, great things can happen,” said Bob Carter, Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations at Toyota Motor Sales, USA Inc. “The first generation hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, launched between 2015 and 2020, will be critical, requiring a concerted effort and unconventional collaboration between automakers, government regulators, academia and energy providers.  By eliminating traditional corporate boundaries, we can speed the development of new technologies and move into the future of mobility more quickly, effectively and economically.”

Toyota has a long history of opening its intellectual properties through collaboration, and was instrumental in facilitating the widespread adoption of hybrid vehicles by licensing related patents.  Today’s announcement represents the first time that Toyota has made its patents available free of charge and reflects the company’s aggressive support for developing a hydrogen-based society.
This Toyota initiative builds on previous commitments, including substantial financial support for the development of a hydrogen fueling infrastructure in California and the northeastern United States. In May 2014, Toyota announced a $7.3 million loan to FirstElement Fuels to support the operations and maintenance of 19 hydrogen fueling stations across California. In November 2014, Toyota announced a collaboration with Air Liquide to develop and supply a phased network of 12 state-of-the-art hydrogen stations targeted for New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

The hydrogen fuel cell patents will be made available to automakers who will produce and sell fuel cell vehicles, as well as to fuel cell parts suppliers and energy companies who establish and operate fueling stations, through the initial market introduction period, anticipated to last until 2020. Companies working to develop and introduce fuel cell busses and industrial equipment, such as forklifts, are also covered. Requests from parts suppliers and companies looking to adapt fuel cell technology outside of the transportation sector will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

Today’s announcement covers only fuel cell-related patents wholly owned by Toyota.  Patents related to fuel cell vehicles will be available for royalty-free licenses until the end of 2020. Patents for hydrogen production and supply will remain open for an unlimited duration. As part of licensing agreements, Toyota will request, but will not require, that other companies share their fuel cell-related patents with Toyota for similar royalty-free use.
- See more at:

Most fossil fuels are 'unburnable'

According to this article, we have backed ourselves into a carbon corner and have little room to breath.  Now is the turning point in our commitment to building a clean-energy economy.  Leaving fossil fuels unburned in the ground is a gift to the next generation, and paves the way for their good health and success.

Most fossil fuels are 'unburnable'


                                         Getty Images 

 More than four fifths of the world's coal cannot be burned to meet climate targets, according to scientists
Most of the world's fossil fuel reserves will need to stay in the ground if dangerous global warming is to be avoided, modelling work suggests.

Over 80% of coal, 50% of gas and 30% of oil reserves are "unburnable" under the goal to limit global warming to no more than 2C, say scientists.

University College London research, published in Nature journal, rules out drilling in the Arctic.
And it points to heavy restrictions on coal to limit temperature rises.

"We've now got tangible figures of the quantities and locations of fossil fuels that should remain unused in trying to keep within the 2C temperature limit," said lead researcher Dr Christophe McGlade, of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources.

"Policy makers must realise that their instincts to completely use the fossil fuels within their countries are wholly incompatible with their commitments to the 2C goal."
Past research has found that burning all of the world's fossil fuel resources would release three times more carbon than that required to keep warming to no more than 2C.

The new study uses models to estimate how much coal, oil and gas must go unburned up to 2050 and where it can be extracted to stay within the 2C target regarded as the threshold for dangerous climate change.

The uneven distribution of resources raises huge dilemmas for countries seeking to exploit their natural resources amid attempts to strike a global deal on climate change:
The Middle East would need to leave about 40% of its oil and 60% of its gas underground
The majority of the huge coal reserves in China, Russia and the United States would have to remain unused.

Undeveloped resources of unconventional gas, such as shale gas, would be off limits in Africa and the Middle East, and very little could be exploited in India and China.

Unconventional oil, such as Canada's tar sands, would be unviable.

The research also raises questions for fossil fuel companies about investment in future exploration, given there is more in the ground than "we can afford to burn", say the UCL scientists.

"We shouldn't waste a lot of money trying to find fossil fuels which we think are going to be more expensive," co-researcher Prof Paul Ekins told the BBC.

"That almost certainly includes Arctic resources. It will certainly include a lot of the shale gas resources in Europe, which have not really been explored or exploited at all."

Golden age
Carbon capture and storage would have only "a relatively modest effect" on how much fossil fuels can be used because of its expense and late introduction, the scientists added.

Emma Pinchbeck, WWF-UK's head of energy and climate change policy, said the study showed "yet again that the majority of the world's fossil fuel reserves, and coal in particular, must stay in the ground to stay within two degrees of warming".

And Rob Bailey, research director for energy, environment and resources at Chatham House, said the finding that half of natural gas reserves must remain untapped will make uncomfortable reading for governments seeking to replicate the US shale revolution and displace dirtier coal.

"The recently heralded golden age of gas will be short lived if we are to avoid dangerous climate change," he said.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Listen up Beijing

Part of our job is to share practices around the world.  We have a partner and contributor in Beijing and get first hand reports from him on living there dealing with the environmental disaster the City and China has become.

We were back in LA and S. Cal this fall came away convinced that some day they would see the end to dense fog over their beautiful City.  The air quality improvements were very noticeable...and enjoyable.  We spent a fair amount of time on top of buildings and got see hills in the distance.

As pointed out by the writer below, LA and CA are the models for trying to migrate away from a fossil fuel economy to a clean energy one  Through govt, academic, non-profit and corporate collaboration and enthusiasm, good things are happening in their march to offering citizens a healthy, vibrant quality of life.  We, too, hope officials in Beijing and other over developed cities take note and follow.

Listen up Beijing. This is what you can learn from Los Angeles about fighting smog

 By Jaime A. FlorCruz

A sense of humor helps. Beijingers coined the wry phrase '#APEC blue' after authorities used extreme measures to control pollution during November's APEC summit. The smog quickly returned after the summit finished and world leaders had departed. With snow forecast this week in the capital, locals have coined a new weather word: snoggy.
A sense of humor helps. Beijingers coined the wry phrase '#APEC blue' after authorities used extreme measures to control pollution during November's APEC summit. The smog quickly returned after the summit finished and world leaders had departed. With snow forecast this week in the capital, locals have coined a new weather word: snoggy.
Editor's note: CNN's Beijing bureau chief Jaime FlorCruz has lived and worked in China since 1971. He studied Chinese history at Peking University (1977-81) and was TIME Magazine's Beijing correspondent and bureau chief (1982-2000).
Beijing (CNN) -- For years China has been the envy of the world, hailed as the great 'economic miracle' thanks to its sustained double-digit growth.

Of late, however, the Middle Kingdom has also become the poster boy for environmental degradation, a target of ridicule for Beijing's now notorious "airpocalyse."
Even U.S. President Barack Obama could not resist dissing Beijing's bad air.

Seoul's smog problem

"I would just point to one simple example, and that is you would not want your kids growing up in Beijing right now, because they could not breathe," President Obama said while defending his controversial environmental regulation last week.

"And the fact of the matter is that used to be true in Los Angeles -- as recently as 1970. And the reason it changed was because of the Clean Air Act," he added.
Like LA, Beijing sits in a virtual 'bowl.'
Surrounded by mountain ranges, air -- clean or dirty -- typically gets trapped when there's no wind blowing. This similar geography hopefully delivers valuable anti-pollution lessons Beijing can heed.
Speaking at a recent forum held at the Stanford Center in Peking University, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that pollution isn't the result of bad geography alone but "human activity in that bad geography."
Like Beijing today, LA in the last century went through a rapid rise in population and an economic boom.
"With this followed demands for more power, more jobs, and the rising middle class that did things like buy cars and drive them," Garcetti said.
"We grew and are proud of that growth, as you here in Beijing should be too. But it came at a cost."
"Our first smog attack came near World War II, and it was so bad that some thought it was a chemical weapon attack by Japanese forces during the war."
As the LA population grew, smog in the 1950s and 1960s got worse.
"Our economy thrived but our air did not. Like Beijing today, 60 years ago LA was fumed up from oil refineries, power plants, our steel and chemical plants," Garcettie said.
Pollution came at a human cost.
"In the 1970s when I grew up. We breathed the dirtiest air in the world," Garcetti explained. "Kids were kept from playing outside. Emergency rooms were filled with patients."
Three step plan to beating pollution
Garcetti ticked off three effective measures to combat the smog.
Step 1: Face the truth, accept it and own it. When LA was in self-denial, "we used polite words to describe smog, like 'it's just a hazy day' or 'it's overcast'," Garcetti recalled.
Step 2: Build a strong government for enforcement. In 1963, the government passed its first Clean Air Act, which mandated governments at federal and local levels to get involved. In 1970, it passed its first emission standards for cars.
Step 3: Get the public sector and ordinary people involved to make sure that the government's held accountable. Private groups and civil society played important roles as whistle-blowers and watchdogs.
The city did not have to sacrifice growth either, Garcetti said.
"When you pair a regulation with innovation, you get a pro-growth policy," he said.
"Turning to new green energy not only improved LA's pollution problem, it sparked an entirely new clean tech industry that attracted new businesses in our city and employed tens of thousands of people."
"Today, I'm the mayor of a city that has seen the population double at the same time we reduced ozone level by nearly two thirds. We have beautiful sunny days, with clear skies throughout most of the year."
It may be a small consolation for Beijingers to know that when LA was mired in bad air and dirty water, the skies in the Chinese capital were clear.
I fondly remember Beijing in the 1970s and 1980s, when rivers where clean and people fished and swam. Except for the few days when sand storms whipped up from the Gobi desert swept over Beijing, the city's sky was typically blue.
Of course, Beijing then had a few industries, life was spartan, population movement was severely restricted, and most people got around via bicycles, not cars.
The encouraging news is residents and officials in Beijing now agree that China needs to clean its air.
Last month, when Beijing hosted the annual APEC summit meeting, Chinese officials pulled out all the stops to ensure the sky was clear -- forcing factories to close, limiting the number of cars on the road and declaring a six-day holiday to encourage citizens to leave Beijing.
It largely worked. Most of the days turned out to be smog free, prompting people to coin the phrase "APEC blue."
Of course, these are short-term fixes and China needs to make sure long-term measures come to fruition.
China's foreign ministry said in response to a question on President Obama's swipe it hoped that "APEC blue" could last permanently.
Let's hope they're successful because at stake is the health and well-being of millions of Chinese, not to mention China's national pride.

Watch and listen tonight

To our special live coverage of the discussion around energy deregulation and how it impacts consumers:

Show Description:

The cost of electricity continues to grow with some areas in the United States seeing an increase of over 11% in just one year.

Electricity, is of course, a part of the background ‘stuff’ of daily life for homes and businesses. As an operating expense, it is one that is borne by us all, big and small.
But do we know or understand how rates are determined and what, if any, control we or anyone has in limiting rate increases? Entering into the energy arena  are 3rd party suppliers of electricity. Who are they, how do they operate and are they good for the consumer?

In this very special live broadcast we will discuss the following:

  • How the electricity utility is regulated (past & present)
  • Why electric cost have grown
  • Energy deregulation in Rhode Island, PROS & CONS
  • What, and Who, are 3rd Party Electrical Companies?
  • What the consumer needs to know when shopping for a supplier
  • The future role of National Grid
  • The customers rights in a deregulated market
  • Ways both families, and businesses can save on electrical costs

Special Panel Guests:

Paul Roberti, RI Public Utilities Commissioner
Paul Roberti was appointed to the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission for a six-year term expiring March 1, 2015.  Previously, he served 17 years in the Rhode Island Attorney General's Office, most recently as Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the Regulatory Unit.

Commissioner Roberti currently serves as Chairman of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ (NARUC) Subcommittee on Pipeline Safety.  He is a member of the Board of Directors of NARUC and the National Regulatory Research Institute.  
Elizabeth Arangio, National Grid
Elizabeth Arangio is Director of Gas Supply Planning for National Grid. Her area of expertise has to do with the procurement of natural gas, gas availability, pipeline constraints driving up the price of electricity and the future of gas supply in New England.
Larry Chretien, Executive Director PPL
Larry Chretien is the executive director of People’s Power & Light, a nonprofit organization based in Providence with a mission of making energy more affordable and environmentally sustainable.  PP&L operates buyers groups for renewable energy and discount heating oil and it promotes energy efficiency to its members and the general public.  It works directly with consumers and advocates for pro-consumer, pro-environment public policies.
Steve Holland, CEO of Rhody Energy Savings
Steven Holland is the President & CEO of Rhody Energy Savings a trusted advisor, with a strong fundamental understanding of deregulation and the renewable energy markets.  Committed to fully educating our clients, market research and multiple top tier supplier relationships provides RES clients access to extreme market depth and understanding.
Michael Fallquist, CEO of Viridian
Michael Fallquist  started with one boldly simple idea—affordable, higher quality, green energy for everyone—and seasoning it with his characteristic commitment to social responsibility and individual empowerment,. Today that brainchild, Viridian, is a vibrantly healthy, flourishing company that stands at the forefront of the sustainability movement.

Prior to founding Viridian, Michael was CEO of Commerce Energy, a publicly-listed natural gas and electricity retailer, where he was deeply involved in the day-to-day activities of a national energy company,.
- See more at:

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Uranium mining in Greenland

We've had some good stories lately on new technology around using nuclear plants for clean, efficient energy.  It looks as if Greenland might want to provide some of the raw material for those plants.

Uranium mining in Greenland an election year issue

Zion Church, Greenland

The upcoming general elections in Greenland may see the country moving away from the idea of extracting and exploiting uranium, which the government voted in favour of just a year ago.
Uranium mining, the hottest topic in the the cold, Arctic country in recent years, was put on the agenda by former prime minister Aleqa Hammond in 2013, after 25 years with a 'zero tolerance' policy to mining of radioactive substances and oil drilling.

Uranium is a heavy metal which can be both toxic and radioactive, and affect a person's kidney, brain, liver and heart after exposure. It is used as, among other things, fuel for nuclear power plants.
According to Hammond, a Greenlandic mineral and oil venture would add big profits to the country's sluggish economy, which is deeply dependent on fisheries and tourism, and eventually lead to Greenland's independence from Denmark. The tiny nation of around 57,000 citizens is currently deeply depending on a frozen subsidy of 3.4 billion Danish crowns (€457 million) per year.

In October 2013, the Greenlandic government voted in favour of mining radioactive materials after a heated debated by 15-14 votes. But after revelations that Hammond had spent taxpayers' money on expensive flight tickets and vacations for her family, the prime minister was forced to step down after only 18 months in power in September, and the question of uranium has once again taken centre stage in Greenland.

Greenland, a former Danish colony, was granted home rule in 1979. Thirty years later, the Arctic country assumed self-determination with responsibility for judicial affairs, police, and natural resources, but the Danish government is still in charge of foreign affairs, financial and security policies.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Ian Somerhalder Supports Anti-Fracking

Actor and activist, Ian Somerhalder, is criticizing a proposal to set up a fracking well in St. Tammany in his native state of Louisiana.

Ian Somerhalder Supports Anti-Fracking Movement              

 Good to see transplants return home to fight on behalf of their city or town.  Here, ian Somerhalder does just that at his native state, Louisana, contemplates a hydrolic fracturing well. 

This issue brings a lot of emotion with it.  Supporters like domestic energy and the jobs it creates  Opponents don't trust the technology as to long-term environmental and health risks, and the drilling uses millions of gallons of water and risk, we believe, further damage--manmade--to the Earth's core.

What do you think?
by Brianne Hogan                  
Actor and activist, Ian Somerhalder, is criticizing a proposal to set up a fracking well in St. Tammany in his native state of Louisiana.

Somerhalder, who’s originally from Covington, Louisiana, attended attended a public meeting Wednesday at Lakeshore High School (he both Instagrammed and tweeted the event and his support), which allowed the permit hearing to be held on the road and open to the public (normally meetings are held in Baton Rouge). A group called the Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany had asked the state’s Office of Conservation to hold the hearing. 

For those who need a refresher, fracking — or hydraulic fracturing – is the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth. It’s controversial because the process uses huge amounts of water that must be transported to the site at a significant environmental cost. Also, there are concerns that potentially carcinogenic chemicals used may escape and contaminate groundwater around the fracking site.

“The fracking process does not lend itself to being in an environment that is considered a wetland,” Somerhalder told WGNO News.  “The aquifer that feeds this area is the same aquifer that is threatened by hydraulic fracking.”

According to Page Six, during a brief interim to fix feedback on the school’s public address system, Somerhalder even showed teens a poster about fracking. Apparently there were a lot more teens than unexpected at the meeting, thanks to Somerhalder. But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“And I like the fact that these young kids are here,” Rick Franzo, president of the Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany said. “You know why?  Because St Tammany Parish will belong to them in the future.”

Somerhalder, who’s always been extremely vocal for his love of animals, didn’t mind, either.

“These young, incredible individuals are our future,” he said.

Friday, January 16, 2015

NFL Pro Embraces Vegan Lifestyle

Griff Whalen, the wide receiver for the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, is the latest athlete to adopt a vegan diet for optimal health and fitness results.

  Enjoy the game tomorrow              

NFL Pro Embraces Vegan Lifestyle for Top Health and Fitness

by Brianne Hogan
Griff Whalen, the wide receiver for the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, is the latest athlete to adopt a vegan diet for optimal health and fitness results.

The 24-year-old, who is the Colts’ go-to guy for punts and kicks, weighs 190-lbs and apparently has one of the most enviable bodies on his team. Not surprisingly, Whalen adheres to a plant-based diet.

Whalen switched up meat proteins for a vegan diet in the spring after girlfriend Katy Osadetz got him started.

“I feel a lot lighter, faster, quicker on the field,” says Whalen. “There isn’t that heavy feeling, that groggy feeling after I eat.”

To prove his point — and his new culinary skills —  Whalen whips up a veggie meal in front of The Indy Star. He adds sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, zucchini, squash, black beans and garbanzo beans to a frying pan along with cayenne pepper, oregano and garlic. 
Whalen says he didn’t switch up his diet solely for the deliciousness of it, but also for its health benefits.

“It’s been proven,” he says. And it has, multiple times. Even this week, a recent USC study proved that weight loss is best attained via a vegan diet.

Whalen joins “Constantine” star, Charles Halford, as the latest brawny celeb to chalk up his enviable physique to a plant-based diet. He admits that he has received some ribbing from his teammates who don’t quite understand the lifestyle or discounts it as “weird” but Whalen takes it in stride, often tweeting his love for his diet with the hashtag: #plantlove.

“I just know how much better I feel.”