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Covering recreation and environmental issues within California

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Final Oil Shale Rule Issued

Bureau of Land Management Finalizes Rules That Could Add Billions of Barrels of Oil to U.S. SupplyOil shale is a fine-grained sedimentary rock containing organic matter from which oil may be produced.

Oil shale is a fine-grained sedimentary rock containing organic matter from which oil may be produced 

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 17, 2008) -- As part of its ongoing effort to increase and diversify America's energy supply, the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management today published final regulations to establish a commercial oil shale program that could result in the addition of up to 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil from lands in the Western United States.

In keeping with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, the BLM final regulations provide the critical “rules of the road” on which private investors will rely in determining whether to make future financial commitments to prospective oil shale projects. 

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USGS Assessment on Natural Gas Released

Gas Hydrates on Alaska’s North Slope Hold One of Nation’s Largest Deposits of Technically Recoverable Natural Gas Secretary Kempthorne Releases USGS Assessment, Says Gas Hydrates Could Significantly Add to U.S. Energy Mix.  Alaska's North Slope contains an estimated 85.4 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable gas from natural gas hydrates, according to a new assessment from the U.S. Geological Survey. Alaska's North Slope contains an estimated 85.4 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable gas from natural gas hydrates, according to a new assessment from the U.S. Geological Survey.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov 12, 2008) – Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne and U.S. Geological Survey Director Mark Myers today released a USGS assessment estimating that there are 85.4 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable gas from natural gas hydrates on the Alaskan North Slope. This would be enough natural gas to heat more than 100 million average homes for 10 years, according to current usage rates provided by the Energy Information Administration. However, further research, including long-term production tests, still is needed to demonstrate gas hydrates as an economically producible resource.

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Will Fall Bird Migration be Smooth Sailing for All?

Wind Energy: Will Fall Bird Migration be Smooth Sailing for All?

As the seasons change, the skies are filling with the sites and sounds of the fall bird migration. As the United States migrates toward more sustainable and domestically available energy resource options such as wind energy, many are concerned about potential problems for migrating birds.

Even though wind energy provides a clean and affordable domestic energy source, there are environmental concerns about bird mortalities, migratory bird routes, and species habitat disruption. USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center researchers and their partners are developing a model of how birds use important landscapes to help managers selecting sites for wind farm development to understand which areas would better protect migratory bird species, both while on land and in flight. For more information, visit http://nrmsc.usgs.gov/science/feature/wildlife_wind_energy

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Let's Heat Things Up

Geothermal power production could significantly add to the United State's capacity to generate electric power. A new USGS assessment is the first national geothermal-resource estimate in more than 30 years. The results of this assessment show that the United States has an estimated 556,890 megawatts-electric (MWe) of power generation potential from a combination of identified geothermal systems (9,057 MWe), undiscovered geothermal resources (30,033 MWe) and unconventional Enhanced Geothermal Systems resources (517,800 MWe).

Full development of just the conventional, identified systems could expand geothermal power production by approximately 260 percent of the currently installed geothermal total of more than 2500 MWe. Geothermal energy is an extremely important but underutilized domestic, renewable energy resource. To view results of the assessment, visit http://energy.usgs.gov/.

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Perchlorate Contamination Report Released

Perchlorate Contamination of Drinking Water: Regulatory Issues and Legislative Actions
October 16, 2008

Summary:

Perchlorate is the explosive component of solid rocket fuel, fireworks, road flares, and other products. Used heavily by the Department of Defense (DOD) and related industries, perchlorate also occurs naturally and is present in some organic fertilizer. This soluble, persistent compound has been detected in drinking water supplies, especially in California. It also has been found in milk and many foods. Because of this widespread occurrence, concern over the potential health risks of perchlorate exposure has increased, and some states, water utilities, and Members of Congress have urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set a federal drinking water standard for this chemical. Regulatory issues involve the relative health benefits and costs of federal regulation, including environmental cleanup and water treatment costs, both of which are driven by federal and state standards. (California and Massachusetts have set standards.) EPA has spent years assessing perchlorate's health effects and occurrence (including its occurrence in food) to determine whether a national standard is warranted. Interagency disagreements over the risks of perchlorate exposure led several federal agencies to ask the National Research Council (NRC) to evaluate perchlorate's health effects and EPA's risk analyses. In 2005, the NRC issued its report, and EPA adopted the NRC's recommended reference dose (i.e., the expected safe dose) for perchlorate exposure. Subsequent studies raised more concerns about potential effects of low-level exposures, particularly for infants in certain cases. On October 3, 2008, EPA made a preliminary determination not to regulate perchlorate; a final decision is expected in late 2008. This report reviews perchlorate contamination issues and related actions.

Click here to download the complete Congressional Research Service Report

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DOI Releases Geothermal Initiative

Date: Oct. 22, 2008
Kempthorne Launches Initiative to Spur Geothermal Energy and Power Generation on Federal Lands

PHOENIX, Arizona – Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today announced a plan to make more than 190 million acres of Federal land in 12 western states available for development of geothermal energy resources, an initiative that could increase electric generation capacity from geothermal resources ten times over.

“Geothermal energy will play a key role in powering America’s energy future,” Kempthorne said, “and 90 percent of our nation’s geothermal resources are found on Federal lands. Facilitating their leasing and development under environmentally sound regulations is crucial to supplying the secure, clean energy American homes and businesses need.”

Under the development scenario outlined in the plan – known as the Final Geothermal Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement – the initiative could produce 5,540 megawatts of new electric generation capacity from geothermal resources by 2015. That’s enough to meet the power needs of 5.5 million homes. The plan also estimates an additional 6,600 megawatts by 2025 for a total of 12,100 megawatts – enough to power more than 12 million homes.

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