This week in climate news: coal dollars in California, soot in the air, and wind in the desert.
1. Big Coal Donates to Fiorina Campaign
Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina received $63,000 in donations from out-of-state coal mining interests. About a third of that money is from Murray Energy Corporation in Ohio, the largest privately owned coal producer in the U.S.
California has become a political battleground for out-of state energy interests. Proposition 23, which could freeze the state’s 2006 climate change mitigation law known as AB 32 if passed in November, is getting the lion’s share of its funding from two Texas-based oil companies, Valero and Tesoro. Valero, based in San Antonio, has two California refineries and nearly ubiquitous retail outlets. Tesoro also maintains two refineries here.
2. Study shows that soot is influential in Arctic ice melt
A Stanford study suggests that soot is the second leading cause in global warming. Researcher Mark Jacobson says that “controlling fossil fuel soot is possibly the only method of preventing the runaway loss of the Arctic ice.”
The study finds that curbing soot emissions could reduce Arctic warming by almost 2 degrees Celsius over the next 15 years. And because soot has a short lifetime in the atmosphere, regulation control on emissions would yield quick results. “We may not be able to save the Arctic ice from disappearing but the controlling of soot will reduce the effects on the Arctic the greatest in the next 10 to 15 years,” said Jacobson.
3. Giant wind power station in the Mojave breaks ground
Windmills may not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to producing renewable energy in the Mojave Desert. But on Tuesday, construction began on the multibillion-dollar Alta Wind Energy Center, expected to cover thousands of acres in the Mojave. And like its renewable cousin in the Mojave, Alta Wind is dubbed the largest wind power project in the world. This mega-wind farm 75 miles north of Los Angeles is designed to produce energy for the equivalent of about 600,000 homes. It’s scheduled to be finished in the next decade (Read more at Alta Wind Energy Center, LATimes).