AltUse Update - Gulf Oil Spill Threatens Shore


By James Herron of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Read More 
 
LONDON (Dow Jones)--BP PLC (BP) said Friday it has begun preparing the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida for the arrival of an oil slick as the escalating crisis in the Gulf of Mexico wiped billions of dollars off its market value.
Despite the severity of the incident, several analysts said the fall in BP's value far exceeds what will probably be the company's eventual liability for the disaster, making the current share price a good buying opportunity.
BP said it is mobilizing all resources at its disposal to prevent the oil leak turning into an environmental disaster. "We are doing absolutely everything in our power to eliminate the source of the leak and contain the environmental impact of the spill," said BP Group Chief Executive Tony Hayward.
"The company is today ramping up preparations for a major protection and cleaning effort on the shorelines," BP said in a statement. However, high winds and rough seas were hampering efforts Friday to send crews to lay out booms that will protect the coastline, said a BP spokesman.
Around 5,000 barrels of oil a day is leaking from BP's Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico after the rig working on the well, Transocean Ltd.'s (RIG) Deepwater Horizon, was destroyed in an explosion last week. BP has been unable to stem the flow of oil and will most likely have to drill a relief well to halt the leak, a process that could take two to three months.
BP has already mobilized 32 ships and five aircraft to skim oil from the surface or spray dispersant chemicals at a cost of around $6 million a day. It is also preparing two relief wells at a cost of around $100 million each.
BP's liability for these costs, plus whatever costs are incurred by the U.S. Navy, which is also mobilizing to contain the spill after an order from President Barack Obama, has spooked investors. Since the initial explosion aboard the rig, almost GBP16 billion ($24 billion) has been wiped from BP's market capitalization.
This is way beyond the likely cost of the incident to BP, said Evolution Securities analyst Richard Griffith. The net cost to BP of the cleanup operation so far plus the drilling of two relief wells would be around $845 million, Griffith estimated. "Even if we add in $2.5 billion of punitive damages, similar to the sum for Exxon Valdez agreed in 2006, the numbers do not add up to the market capitalization drop," he said.
In the worst possible scenario for BP, which would include environmental damage to Louisiana fisheries and the Paradise Coast of Florida, BP could be liable for up to $8 billion in costs, estimated analysts from from Bernstein Research.
Overselling driven by fear is a common occurrence in the wake of high profile disasters, said Citigroup analyst Mark Fletcher. "In the six months after the Texas City accident in 2005, BP outperformed both the market and the sector, recovering by 19%. Even following the Valdez spillage in 1989, Exxon managed to outperform in the ensuing six months," Fletcher said.
The consequences of this spill may prove to be less severe than the Valdez disaster, which spilled 260,000 barrels of oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound, was for ExxonMobil Corp. (XOM), said NCB Stockbrokers analyst Peter Hutton.
The location of the current spill is far less remote, the industry has far greater resources at its disposal to combat the oil slick and BP's response has been robust, he said. "While it took Exxon executives six days to comment to the press, BP has been swift in its public reaction and immediately engaged with authorities in combined response," he said.
The oil spilled in the Gulf may also disperse naturally much more quickly than that from the Valdez disaster because it is lighter and the water is warmer, said Bernstein's report.

AltUse Find - Winner of the 2010 Heart of Green Awards



Meet Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Ted Danson, Local Hero Fred Schaeffer and the other winners of The Daily Green's 2010 Heart of Green Awards. Read More

Who he is: The Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated actor, best known for playing Sam Malone on Cheers, and currently starring in three acclaimed shows, Bored to Death and Curb Your Enthusiasm on HBO, and Damages on FX.

Why he's green: In 1987, Ted Danson started an environmental group, American Oceans Campaign, which in 2002 merged with Oceana to become the largest advocacy group of its kind. In 2009, he narrated the documentary The End of the Line, and in 2011, he will publish his first book, about the state of the world's oceans.

What he says: "What do we do to fix the problems? You have to base that on science," he told The Daily Green, which honored him with its Lifetime Achievement Award at the Heart of Green Awards ceremony in New York City April 20. You need a spiritual heart to realize that we are all in this together – literally all of us on this planet, and if we do not see that we're all in this together, that we all matter, that we all have an impact on each other, then this experiment won't work. You really have to rise to your highest level of being human to solve the environmental problems that are facing the world. To me it's an incredible conversation."


photo credit: Amanda Schwab/Starpix

AltUse News - Offshore Atlantic wind farm approved


The Obama administration has approved the Cape Wind wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts, which that state’s energy director Wednesdsay called “the shot heard around the world for renewable energy.” Read More
How much the comments of Ian Bowles, Massachusetts energy director, come true depend on whether or not the Cape Wind project can surmount expected lawsuits from various NIMBYs (who at one time included the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy and former CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite, both now deceased) as well as the higher costs of offshore wind.
But offshore Atlantic ocean wind energy poses a potential threat to the burgeoning wind development in Iowa, Minnesota and the Dakotas and those states’ desire to export their surplus wind (hopefully at a profit) to more populous states east of the Mississippi River.
Bowles and other eastern state energy officials, governor and utility executives have recently become more vocal in their opposition to paying for wind transmission from the Upper Midwest, saying eastern states should chart their own renewable energy course.
Iowa has the nation’s second-largest wind generating capacity, with more than 3,000 megawatts planned or on line. MidAmerican Energy of Des Moines is the nation’s largest investor-owned utility owner of wind generation.
Iowa Utilities Board member Darrell Hanson, who represents Iowa on a committee of Midwestern states regulators, said “in theory, any other wind projects work to Iowa’s disadvantage because it lessens the chances that we’ll have a monopoly on wind.”
But Hanson said that a lot of water, so to speak, has to be crossed before offshore Atlantic wind is a reality.
“They’ll have the same transmission issues for offshore wind that are present with Midwestern energy, and offshore wind is more expensive,” Hanson said.
He added that transmission over and through the highly urbanized eastern coast is a “nightmare” compared to the easier task of stringing lines from the Dakotas and Iowa to the east.
Various proposals have been floated for a 765-kilovolt transmission line that would be built to carry Midwestern wind electricity to the east. The electric reliability organization that includes Iowa and states as far east as Ohio is scheduled to submit a proposal for cost-sharing of such a line, whose construction expense alone has been estimated as high as $20 billion, to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by July 15.

AltUse Find - What is Fair Trade Coffee All About?

The United States consumes one-fifth of all the world's coffee, making it the largest consumer in the world. But few Americans realize that agriculture workers in the coffee industry often toil in what can be described as "sweatshops in the fields." Many small coffee farmers receive prices for their coffee that are less than the costs of production, forcing them into a cycle of poverty and debt. Read More


Fair Trade is a viable solution to this crisis, assuring consumers that the coffee we drink was purchased under fair conditions. To become Fair Trade certified, an importer must meet stringent international criteria; paying a minimum price per pound of $1.26, providing much needed credit to farmers, and providing technical assistance such as help transitioning to organic farming. Fair Trade for coffee farmers means community development, health, education, and environmental stewardship.


Fair Trade means an equitable and fair partnership between consumers in North America and producers in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The chief concern of the Fair Trade movement has been to ensure that the vast majority of the world's coffee farmers (who are small holders) get a fair price for their harvests in order to achieve a decent living wage. Fair Trade guarantees to poor farmers organized in cooperatives around the world: a living wage (minimum price of $1.26/pound regardless of the volatile market); much needed credit at fair prices; and long term relationships. These fair payments are invested in health care, education, environmental stewardship, and economic independence. Fair Trade Certified coffee is the first product being introduced in the United States with an independently monitored system to ensure that it was produced under fair labor conditions; now we need a movement to demand it!! 


Alternative Use Automobile? Nissan Leaf



Nissan Leaf buyers reserve their cars

More than 20% of the all-electric hatchback’s first year of production has been reserved, Nissan says. The car goes on sale in December.

April 23, 2010|By Jerry Hirsch, Los Angeles Times
Nissan Motor Co. said Friday that buyers have already reserved more than 20% of the first year's production of its Leaf electric vehicle.
About 6,600 U.S. consumers have paid the $99 reservation fee, and 3,700 in Japan have done the same. Nissan said it will make about 50,000 Leaf cars the first year. The automaker has said it wants to have about 40% of production reserved by December, when the car goes on sale.

AltUse Find - 25 Wasteful Things You Can Live Without


25 Wasteful Things You Can Live Without

You don't need to use disposable and unnecessarily packaged products. Read More

We produce a lot of waste. In 2008 alone, Americans generated 250 million tons of trash, and though about a third of that was recycled, a lot went into landfills or was incinerated. Our culture is centered around disposability, and only we have the power to change that.
Take stock of the disposable, overly-packaged, and single-use products that you use, and then look for reusable alternatives. Not sure where to start? Here are more than two dozen items that many people use . . . and can easily live without.
  1. Plastic wrap -- Instead, use a container with a lid.
  2. Tin foil -- Use an oven-safe pot or dish with a lid.
  3. Disposable cleaning cloths, dusters, etc. -- Use a microfiber cloth that can be washed.
  4. Paper towels -- Use a tea towel, instead.
  5. Disposable pens -- Buy a good pen that only needs the ink well changed.
  6. Paper plates -- Washing dishes may be an effort, but it's worth it.
  7. Plastic cutlery -- Use the metal stuff.
  8. Disposable razors -- Invest in a razor that only needs the blades changed.
  9. Packaged fruits and vegetables -- Produce does not need to be packaged.
  10. Individually wrapped snacks -- Snacks travel better anyway in a hard container.
  11. Juice boxes -- Put juice in a reusable container (not plastic).
  12. Electric pencil sharpeners -- Use the hand-crank version of days gone by.
  13. Disposable diapers -- Cloth diapers aren't that much more difficult to use.
  14. Disposable cloths -- Fabric cloths can be washed regularly to avoid bacterial or viral build-up.
  15. Paper or plastic single-use grocery bags -- Get a few reusable bags.
  16. Bottled water -- Install a water filter on your tap or pick up a water jug with a filter.
  17. Non-rechargeable batteries -- Make the investment for rechargeable batteries and you'll save money in the long run.
  18. Electric can openers -- Use a little muscle.
  19. Single-serving pudding or yogurt cups -- Buy a large container of yogurt or make your own pudding, and send it in a reusable container.
  20. Plastic cups -- Stick to reusable cups.
  21. Disposable table cloths -- Spills are a reality of life; just clean them up as they happen.
  22. Antibacterial wipes -- If you must, use a gel hand sanitizer.
  23. Facial tissues -- Unless you have a bad cold, a handkerchief will work just fine.
  24. Paper billing -- Switch to e-billing for your bank statement, credit card bill, utility bill, etc.
  25. Plasticized sticky notes -- Use the original paper sticky notes; they can be recycled when you're done with them.

AltUse Find for Earth Day - Aluminium Recycling


Aluminium recycling is the process by which scrap aluminium can be reused in products after its initial production. The process involves simply re-melting the metal, which is far less expensive and energy intensive than creating new aluminium through the electrolysis ofaluminium oxide (Al2O3), which must first be mined from bauxite ore and then refined using the Bayer processRecycling scrap aluminum requires only 5% of the energy used to make new aluminium.[1] For this reason, approximately 31% of all aluminium produced in theUnited States comes from recycled scrap
A common practice since the early 1900s and extensively capitalized during World War II, aluminium recycling is not new. It was, however, a low-profile activity until the late 1960s when the exploding popularity of aluminium beverage cans finally placed recycling into the public consciousness.[3]
Sources for recycled aluminium include aircraftautomobilesbicyclesboatscomputerscookwaregutterssidingwire, and many other products that require a strong light weight material, or a material with high thermal conductivity. As recycling does not damage the metal's structure, aluminium can be recycled indefinitely and still be used to produce any product for which new aluminium could have been used.

Advantages

The recycling of aluminium generally produces significant cost savings over the production of new aluminium even when the cost of collection, separation and recycling are taken into account.[5] Over the long term, even larger national savings are made when the reduction in the capital costs associated with landfills, mines and international shipping of raw aluminium are considered.
The environmental benefits of recycling aluminium are also enormous. Only around 5% of the CO2 is produced during the recycling process compared to producing raw aluminium (and an even smaller percentage when considering the complete cycle of mining and transporting the aluminium).[5] Also, open-cut mining is most often used for obtaining aluminium ore, which destroys large sections of the world's natural land. Producing a can from recycled aluminum requires 95% less energy than it would to produce a can from virgin materials

Process

Aluminium beverage cans are usually recycled in the following basic way:[7]
  1. Cans are first divided from municipal waste, usually through an eddy current separator
  2. Cans are cut into little, equal pieces to lessen the volume and make it easier for the machines which separate them.
  3. Pieces are cleaned chemically/mechanically.
  4. Pieces are blocked to minimise oxidation losses when melted. (The surface of aluminium readily oxidizes back into aluminium oxide when exposed to oxygen.[8])
  5. Blocks are loaded into the furnace and heated to 750 °F ± 400 °C to produce molten aluminium.
  6. Dross is removed and the dissolved hydrogen is degassed. (Molten aluminium readily disassociates hydrogen from water vapor and hydrocarbon contaminants.) This is typically done with chlorine and nitrogen gas. Hexachloroethane tablets are normally used as the source for chlorine. Ammonium perchlorate can also be used, as it decomposes mainly into chlorine, nitrogen, and oxygen when heated.[9]
  7. Samples are taken for spectroscopic analysis. Depending on the final product desired, high purity aluminium, copperzincmanganesesilicon, and/or magnesium is added to alter the molten composition to the proper alloy specification. The top 5 aluminium alloys produced are apparently 6061707511006063, and 2024.[10]
  8. The furnace is tapped, the molten aluminium poured out, and the process is repeated again for the next batch. Depending on the end product it may be cast into ingotsbillets, or rods, formed into large slabs for rolling, atomized into powder, sent to anextruder, or transported in its molten state to manufacturing facilities for further processing

Ingot production using reverberatory furnaces

The scrap aluminium is separated into a range of categories i.e. irony aluminum (engine blocks etc.), alloy wheels, "clean aluminium" Depending on the specification of the required ingot casting will depend on the type of scrap used in the start melt. Generally the scrap is charged to a reverberatory furnace (other methods appear to be either less economical and/ or dangerous) and melted down to form a "bath". the molten metal is tested using spectroscopy on a sample taken from the melt to determine what refinements are needed to produce the final casts. After the refinements have been added the melt may be tested several times to be able to fine tune the batch to the specific standard
Once the correct "recipe" of metal is available the furnace is tapped and poured into ingot moulds, usually via a casting machine. The melt is then left to cool, stacked and sold on as cast silicon aluminium ingot to various industries for re-use.

Secondary aluminium recycling

White dross from primary aluminium production and from secondary recycling operations still contains useful quantities of aluminium which can be extracted industrially.[12] The process produces aluminium billets, together with a highly complex waste material. This waste is difficult to manage. It reacts with water, releasing a mixture of gases (including, among others, hydrogenacetylene, and ammonia) which spontaneously ignites on contact with air[13]; contact with damp air results in the release of copious quantities of ammonia gas. Despite these difficulties, however, the waste has found use as a filler in asphalt and concrete.



AltUse Supports Earth Week - April 16 - April 22 2010


Earth Week, April 16-22, originated in Philadelphia in 1970. It was created by a committee of students (mostly from University of Pennsylvania), professionals, leaders of grass roots organizations and businessmen concerned about the environment and inspired by Senator Gaylord Nelson’s call for a national environmental teach-in. The Earth Week Committee of Philadelphia concluded that devoting only one day to the environment would not provide enough time and space to paint a comprehensive picture of the environmental issues confronting mankind.[6]
Austan Librach, a regional planning graduate student, assumed the role of Committee Chairman and hired Edward Furia, who had just received his City Planning and Law Degrees from University of Pennsylvania, to be Project Director. The core group from Penn was joined in 1970 by students from other area colleges, as well as from other community, church and business groups which, working together, organized scores of educational activities, scientific symposia and major mass media events in the Delaware Valley Region in and around Philadelphia. The Earth Week Committee of 33 members settled on a common objective—to raise public awareness of environmental problems and their potential solutions.[7]
U.S. Senator Edmund Muskie, author of the historic Clean Air Act of 1970 and sponsor of pending landmark water pollution legislation, was the keynote speaker on Earth Day in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia.[8] Other notable attendees included consumer protection activist and presidential candidate Ralph Nader; Landscape Architect Ian McHarg; Nobel prize-winning Harvard Biochemist, George Wald; U.S. Senate Minority Leader, Hugh Scott; and poet, Allen Ginsberg. Forty years later, the Earth Week Committee decided to make rare photos, video and other previously unpublished information about the history of Earth Week 1970 available to the public at EarthWeek.us.
Many cities now extend the observance of Earth Day events to an entire week, usually starting on April 16 and ending on Earth Day, April 22.[9] These events are designed to encourage environmentally-aware behaviors, such as recycling, using energy efficiently, and reducing or reusing disposable items.
Wikipedia®