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A tiny Nevada toad at the center of a legal battle over a geothermal project has officially been declared an endangered species. U.S. wildlife officials had temporarily listed it on a rarely used emergency basis last spring. The Fish and Wildlife Service said in a formal rule published Friday that the Dixie Valley toad is at risk of extinction "primarily due to the approval and commencement of geothermal development” about 100 miles east of Reno. Other threats to the quarter-sized amphibian include groundwater pumping, agriculture, climate change, disease and predation from bullfrogs. The temporary listing in April marked only the second time in 20 years the agency had taken such emergency action.

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The nation’s largest public utility is recommending replacing an aging coal burning power plant with natural gas, ignoring calls for the Tennessee Valley Authority to speed its transition to renewable energy. TVA on Friday announced the completion of its environmental impact statement for replacing the Cumberland Fossil Plant near Cumberland City, Tennessee. TVA says in a news release that solar and battery storage would be more costly and time-consuming than gas. The recommendation still needs the approval of TVA President and CEO Jeff Lyash. He has previously spoken in favor of gas. The announcement drew immediate backlash from groups that include the Center for Biological Diversity, which calls the plan “reckless.”

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A former coal-fired power plant in New Jersey was imploded Friday, and its owners announced plans for a new $1 billion venture on the site, where batteries will be deployed to store power from clean energy sources including wind and solar. The move came as New Jersey and other states move aggressively to adopt clean energy to combat climate change. Starwood Energy demolished the former Logan Generating Plant in Logan Township. That site, and a second power plant site in Carneys Point, will host large facilities where batteries will be arrayed to store clean energy and release it to the power grid as needed.

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An army of engineers from Ukraine’s phone companies has mobilized to help the public and policymakers stay in touch during repeated Russian missile and drone strikes. The engineers who typically go unseen and unsung in peacetime often work around the clock to maintain or restore service, sometimes braving minefields to do so. After Russian strikes took out the electricity that cellphone towers usually run on, they revved up diesel generators. A team from Ukrainian telecommunications company Kyivstar offered a glimpse of their new daily routines this week. They checked an app on their own phones to monitor the cell towers in the Kyiv area. One entry read, in English, “Low Fuel.”

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A lawyer for environmental groups suing the Tennessee Valley Authority argues distributors have signed onto what amount to “never-ending” contracts that unfairly tie them to power generated by the nation’s largest public utility. Southern Environmental Law Center lawyer Amanda Garcia made the argument in Memphis federal court. TVA says three environmental groups have no standing to sue after TVA reached long-term agreements with many local power distributors in its seven-state region. The lawsuit alleges the deals will deprive distributors and ratepayers of the opportunity to renegotiate with TVA to obtain cheaper, cleaner electricity.

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The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed increasing ethanol and other biofuels that must be blended into the nation’s fuel supplies over the next three years. Thursday's announcement was welcomed by renewable fuel and farm groups but condemned by environmentalists and oil industry groups. The proposal also includes incentives for the use of biogas from farms and landfills, and biomass such as wood, to generate electricity to charge electric vehicles. It’s the first time the EPA has set biofuel targets on its own instead deferring to Congress. The agency opened a public comment period and will hold a hearing in January.

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The Biden administration is designating the northern long-eared bat as an endangered species. Officials say that the bat's situation has worsened since it was classified as threatened in 2015. The species is among a dozen U.S. bats suffering from white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that causes bats to emerge early during hibernation, sometimes burn up winter fat reserves and starve. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it will work with timber companies and landowners to protect trees where bats nest. The agency will also seek cooperation from the wind energy industry to reduce the likelihood that bats will strike turbines. The bat is found in 37 eastern and north-central states, plus Washington, D.C., and much of Canada.

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Officials say Ukraine could face rolling blackouts through March because Russian airstrikes have caused what they call “colossal” damage to the power grid. To cope in the harsh winter, authorities are urging Ukrainians to stock up on supplies and evacuate hard-hit areas. Russia has been pummeling Ukraine’s power grid and other infrastructure for weeks. That onslaught has caused widespread blackouts and deprived millions of Ukrainians of electricity, heat and water. The head of Ukraine's power grid operator says the attacks have damaged practically every thermal and hydroelectric power plant. In another development, the United States announced $4.5 billion in aid to bolster Ukraine's economic stability and support core government services.

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Ukrainian authorities are evacuating civilians from liberated areas in the southern Kherson and Mykolaiv regions. They fear that infrastructure damage is too severe for people to endure the winter without power, heat and water.  The World Health Organization warned that millions in Ukraine face a “life-threatening” winter.  Also Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his wife made a rare joint public appearance to observe a moment of silence at a Kyiv memorial for those killed in Ukraine's pro-European Union protests in 2014. And the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that shelling of Europe's largest nuclear power planthad not damaged key equipment and identified no nuclear safety concerns.

AP
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Powerful explosions from shelling have hit Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, the site of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. The International Atomic Energy Agency said more than a dozen blasts shook the Russian-occupied facility on Sunday, damaging buildings and equipment. Ukraine blamed Russia, saying it was trying to prevent the plant from partially restarting to deliver electricity to millions of Ukrainians who are without heat, power or water in the freezing cold. The Russians blamed Ukrainian forces. Elsewhere, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said over 400 Russian strikes hit Ukraine's eastern regions on Sunday alone. He also said blackouts were scheduled Sunday night in 15 regions of Ukraine and the city of Kyiv. More blackouts were scheduled for Monday.