It's been two years since the Gulf oil spill and the verdict is still out on the long-term impact. The National Committee on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill gave Congress a "D" on safety revisions and the University of South Florida has found evidence of disease in fish. But the FDA says Gulf seafood is still safe to eat.
Nuclear energy received a huge boost as Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (above) announced that Westinghouse and Ameren, the local utility, will apply for permission to build small modular reactors at the Callaway facility in Fulton. Small reactors are seen by many as the future of the industry but no one has yet proposed a commercial venture. Governor Nixon expressed the hope that a success at Callaway would make Missouri a manufacturing center for the world.
Greenpeace continued its high-profile campaign against major Internet companies by tarring Apple, Microsoft and Amazon with the label of running "dirty cloud." The argument is that their data centers run on coal and nuclear and therefore jack up carbon emissions. Apparently someone hasn't told Greenpeace yet that nuclear has no carbon emissions. Apple immediately expressed contrition by promising to build a 100 percent renewable data center.
Wind energy took another blow as Doosan, the Korean power company, scrapped plans to build a $272 million wind farm off the coast of Scotland. The company cited liquidity issues in Europe and "sapping market confidence" in wind projects. Donald Trump seized the moment to ask the Scots to reconsider another wind project within site of his new golf course. Vestas, the world's leading wind company, has seen its stock descend to half its asset value and Bloomberg suggests it may be ripe for a takeover. But China has placed an order for GE wind turbines and a Seattle company has a proposal for floating windmills in the Great Lakes.
Finally, California continues to lead the way in abandoning fossil fuels and promoting renewable energy. The California Public Service Commission announced it sees no need for new gas plants at this point. The state now relies on gas for 60 percent of its electricity, more than twice the national average. A study by Next 10, a San Francisco non-profit, says the Golden State is leading the nation in both venture capital investment and clean-tech patents. Best of all, the state legislature indicated it may be willing to relent and finally count hydroelectric dams in its portfolios of renewable energy. To date the Sacramento lawmakers have ceded to the insistence of environmentalists that large hydro isn't "clean."