Laura Meyerson

University of Rhode Island, Assistant Professor, Natural Resources Science

Beverly Law

Oregon State University, Professor, Department of Forest Ecosystems & Society

July 31, 2012

"Homegrown" fuels for economy and sustainability

Madhu Khanna

A policy promoting cost-effective, low-carbon "homegrown" fuels as alternatives to oil could benefit the US economy as well as the environment. Madhu Khanna (2009) and her colleagues propose a national Low Carbon Fuel Standard, which would provide flexibility to energy companies to meet national carbon reduction targets using any mix of fuels they want. Recognizing that the scientific consensus on climate change cannot motivate all stakeholders, they highlight the standard as "a major win for American consumers, businesses, and farmers, with large positive effects on our economy and our national security in the long run."

May 14, 2012

Hydraulic fracturing: new wastewater policies needed

Jeanne VanBriesen

photo: Shale gas drilling tower (Ruhrfisch)

Jeanne VanBriesen (2009) and her colleagues have found that wastewater generated by hydraulic fracturing for natural gas production contains potentially harmful pollutants, including salts, heavy metals, organic and inorganic compounds, oil, and grease, as well as naturally occurring radioactive material. They note that current treatment and disposal methods are inadequate to protect human health and the environment. Based on these findings, they recommend policy changes, stressing that stronger safeguards at the state and federal levels could better protect against the risks associated with this waste.

April 28, 2011

Natural gas harms climate more than coal

Robert Howarth

photo: Derek Ramsey

Overall greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas exceed those from coal, in part because of methane release from drilling sites and pipeline leaks, according to a new study co-authored by Bob Howarth. The study also calls for further research and better measurements of emissions, for which data is sparse. Some criticize the study for, among other reasons, the sparsity of data.


April 26, 2011

Human responses affect environmental "tipping points"

David Lodge

photo: Piotr Menducki

Human interventions in the environment can alter the "tipping points" at which slow changes suddenly become qualitatively noticeable, according to an interdisciplinary study co-authored by David Lodge. Scientists previously assumed that biology fixed such tipping points.

February 20, 2011

Biofuel goals cost more than expected

Madhu Khanna

photo: Rodney Burton

Replacing 30% of petroleum energy with biofuels by 2030 will cost about $140 per ton, as estimated in a study co-authored by Madhu Khanna (2009). The Biomass Research and Development Act set these goals in 2000 using current costs of $40-50 per ton.


September 23, 2010

Saving the world's oceans

Robert Richmond

photo: Zsuzsanna Kilian

A new, unified national ocean policy could "untangle the maze of laws and regulations that currently govern everything from reefs to offshore energy resources" if we manage it properly, says Robert Richmond (2004) in an op-ed. More than 40 newspapers and websites have published the op-ed, from the Miami Herald to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

September 14, 2010

Action sought on Asian carp

David Lodge

photo: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Five states have filed a lawsuit seeking to close the connection between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River system, where invasive Asian carp have already decimated local ecosystems. In the first full day of the trial, David Lodge testified that there is "a very imminent risk" of an Asian carp invasion into Lake Michigan that could cause irreversible damage.

July 21, 2010

Contrasting oil spills

Joshua Schimel

photo: John Kepsimelis, US Coast Guard

Despite their similarities, the Gulf oil spill probably won't cause the same shift in national attitudes on the environment that happened after the Santa Barbara oil spill more than 40 years ago, says Joshua Schimel (2006). He reasons that the Gulf coast has oil-industry connections that Santa Barbara lacks and that, 40 years ago, "people were already waking up to pollution and to the damage we were doing to the environment and to its habitability."