Right in the middle of rising gas prices, oil supplies were scheduled to receive another blow as Sunoco prepared to close down its Philadelphia oil refinery that provides 24 percent of the East Coast's capacity. Diesel fuel is expected to be particularly impacted, with one of the refinery's major pipelines running out to the Pittsburgh region. Despite high demand and the high price of gas, Sunoco says it has lost $1 billion on the refinery over the past three years. Two other refineries in the region have closed in the past two years.
More than 100 industries and several states are taking the EPA to Federal District Court in Washington to challenge the science behind the campaign to close down coal plants. Arizona has calculated it would lose billions of dollars if its Navaho Coal Station were forced to shut down. The EPA has promised to streamline permitting for large industries but opposition is still widespread. At the same time, HealthNewsDigest reports that there has been progress in clearing up smog in Log Angeles.
Australia is about to impose cap-and-trade on carbon emissions, facing industries with $7.3 billion in permit fees. In order to get the legislation passed, however, it has been forced to give free permits to the copper and steel industries. European politicians are being urged by environmental groups to withhold some permits in order to improve performance. Europe did report only a slight emission in CO2 in 2011 while US emissions were up 3.3 percent.
A bi-partisan group of state governors are urging President Obama to revive the production tax credit for wind less than two weeks after Congress finally eliminated the 30-year-old subsidy. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has joined Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin in the effort, even though Shumlin is trying to close down Vermont Yankee while Christie is promoting the nuclear alternative. GE has joined JP Morgan in putting $225 million in to a giant Texas wind project and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has give the go-ahead to a 300-kilowatt tidal energy project in Cobscook Bay.
Finally, India has announced plans to build 20 nuclear reactors - although it has had to deport German anti-nuclear activist Sonnteg Reiner Hermann (above), who has been campaigning against the Kudankulam Reactor. Greenpeace also announced a new anti-nuclear initiative - what else is new? - but three Japanese cities have also asked Kansai Electric Power to eliminate nuclear from its portfolio. Meanwhile, Pam Radke Russell of Engineering News-Record asks whether small modular reactors may be the future of nuclear.