The Grid: Energy, Resources, Environment, Sustainability | Bloomberg

Breaking Bad? Try Breaking Graphite


Using only their wits, a chunk of graphite and standard-issue cellophane tape, two U.K.-based scientists in 2004 discovered a material that could bring dramatic advances to fields as disparate as computing, energy and medicine -- if anybody can make enough of it to see if it really works.

Now, researchers at Penn State University think they've found a shortcut that may lead to production of the stuff in industrial amounts.

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A NASA MODIS Natural-color Oil Slick Image from July 28

Now that a federal judge has ruled that BP acted in “gross negligence” in 2010, when the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico and killed 11 people, it’s a good time to ask: How bad were the environmental damages?

At that time, with news networks reserving a corner of their screens for streaming undersea video of streaming undersea oil, the projections were apocalyptic. President Barack Obama delivered an Oval Office address on June 15, 2010, in which he expressed a sentiment widely felt at the time: “Already, this oil spill is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced.”

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Bloomberg BNA -- PG&E Corp., owner of California's largest utility, should pay $1.4 billion for a deadly 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, in what may be the largest safety-related penalty ever levied by the state's regulators.

The penalty consists of $950 million that would be paid to the state and $450 million in charges and remedies that shareholders would have to pay, according to the proposed decision from two state regulatory judges. The California Public Utilities Commission's five commissioners must still approve the proposal and may offer alternatives, according to an e-mailed statement today.

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Plastic S.O.S: Today's Top Reads

Good afternoon! Here are today's top reads:

  • Trader who scored $100 million payday bets shale is dud (Bloomberg)
  • Intel's CEO reveals the company's plans to build a conflict-free supply chain by 2016 (Fast Company)
  • Burning trash bad for humans and global warming (Scientific American)
  • Reserves and parks not enough to protect nature - David Attenborough (Guardian)
  • When a castaway sends an S.O.S. to the world, where does it go? (Bloomberg)
  • The secret pot-growing operations in America's cornfields (Atlantic)
  • Wind, solar boosting investment in power lines (Climate Central)
  • Wildflower meadow protection plan 'backfires' (BBC)
  • Do tilapia and mangroves hold secrets to desalination (GreenBiz)
  • Ethanol's next generation powers up amid resistance (Daily Climate)

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Plastics in Oceans

The myth of the desert island castaway, kept alive forever in movies, song and frequent New Yorker cartoons, needs a rewrite.

The poor soul scrawls his plea for salvation (conventionally his) with whatever writing instrument and parchment the island allows. He rolls it up, slides it into a bottle, pops in the cork and launches it into the sea.

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Ditch the Dumping: Today's Top Reads

Good afternoon! Here are today's top reads:

  • A mile below Paris, drillers hit hot pools to warm houses (Bloomberg)
  • If two New Yorkers shared a car... (NY Times)
  • Abbot Point port developers to ditch Great Barrier Reef seabed dumping plan (Guardian)
  • Beachfront in the time of climate change (City Lab)
  • Trillions of tiny plastic pieces reside in Arctic ice (Scientific American)
  • Keystone redux haunts Trans Mountain as fight shifts to climate (Bloomberg)
  • Warming in Europe raises risks of tropical diseases (Climate Central)
  • How your sunscreen hurts coral reefs (National Journal)
  • Antarctic coastal waters 'rising faster' (BBC)
  • Why it makes sense to put solar farms on old landfill sites (Fast Company)

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Fossil Fuels

Forget the Senate, as President Obama is trying to do. Pull the plug on the annual United Nations climate negotiations. Maybe it’s time for investors to save the planet.

That idea has received some attention on the left, through the environmental writer and activist Bill McKibben, and from the center-left through a U.K.-based investment think tank called the Carbon Tracker Initiative. (The right, center or otherwise, still won't have any of it.)

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U.S. Auditors Say Obama Climate Math Checks Out -- Government auditors have taken a close look at a disputed calculation used by federal regulators to assess the long-term costs of carbon pollution. Their verdict: It was all done by the book.

The hotly contested economic calculation, known as the "social cost of carbon," or SCC, sailed through a review by the Governmental Accountability Office, whose audits often feature scathing criticisms of the bureaucracy.

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Irreversible Damage: Today's Top Reads

Good afternoon! Here are today's top reads:

  • Irreversible damage seen from climate change in UN leak (Bloomberg)
  • Obama pursing climate accord in lieu of treaty (NY Times)
  • If you have allergies, talk to your doctor about cap and trade (CityLab)
  • Do dams destroy rivers? (Guardian)
  • In Beijing, you can pay for train rides with plastic bottles (Fast Company)
  • Tell me the one about Ebola: How jokes spread awareness (Bloomberg)
  • Whale-watching found to stress out whales (Scientific American)
  • A deadly epidemic of violence against women (Atlantic)
  • Can birds be protected from huge solar plants? (Climate Central)
  • Government auditors say 'social cost of carbon' is by the book (Inside Climate News)

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Bloomberg BNA -- The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a final rule Aug. 26 declaring that continued storage of spent nuclear fuel on the site of a commercial power plant is safe if properly managed.

The rule addresses the storage of used fuel between the end of the reactor's licensed term and its final removal for disposal.

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About The Grid

Nations and companies face rising competition for strategic resources — energy, food, water, materials — and the technologies that make best use of them. That's sustainability. It's about the 21st-century race for wealth, health and long-term security, across the global grid.

Analyses or commentary in this blog are the views of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloomberg News.

Eric Roston, Editor

Tom Randall, Deputy Editor

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