Archive for December, 2010

Holiday Cards That Make Us Happy!

Posted on December 21, 2010. Filed under: Recommendations | Tags: , , , , , |

We’ve gotten some great holiday cards this year from our friends all over the place!

Yesterday, a beautiful card came in the mail from Nana Design, showing a cornucopia of fruits and veggies with the message that a portion of Nana’s proceeds are going to S.O.M.E.

And today, we got this fun e-card from 3 Degrees:

However, this video card from the super creative Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, really takes the cake:  

Have you received any particularly cool cards this season?

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Clean Currents and CCAN carbon-offset Virginia Governor’s mansion

Posted on December 16, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Watch the vid here:

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Clean Currents Cycling: DC Velo

Posted on December 16, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

For several years now, Clean Currents has been the title sponsor of the DC Velo cycling team, a leading cycling club in the DC metro area. Here are some pictures of this years team.

Congrats on a great season!

Full Team

Jason and Mark: Winners of the 30+ and 50+ Team Pursuit

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What Our Customers Are Saying About Us

Posted on December 8, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Clean Currents has 500 commercial customers and we continue to sign up new businesses everyday. Many of these companies are spreading the word about wind power through our Affiliate Program. In turn, our affiliates earn rewards when individuals sign-up their homes for Clean Currents wind power.

Want to get your organization involved in this benefit program and help spread the clean energy effect? Contact Kristin Schulz at kschulz@cleancurrents.com for more information.

Here’s what some of our affiliate organizations have been saying about us…

“Possibly the greatest aspect of going with wind power through Clean Currents is that the process took just a few minutes…” Read more here.
 – Green DC Realty

“We just… started purchasing 100% wind power for all our electrical needs. Clean Currents made it so easy, we kick ourselves that we didn’t do it ages ago.”  – TerraLogos Energy Group

“Because of this [Renewable Energy Credit] purchase, we help reduce the demand for coal or nuclear generated power.” – Gilday Renovations
Read more here.

“Together with Clean Currents, Washington GreenHawks  encourages your friends and family to support clean energy, be more energy efficient, adopt green habits, and build environmental stewardship.”
Learn about the Washington Green Hawks basketball team.

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Cut Down Your Christmas Tree – It helps the environment!

Posted on December 2, 2010. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , |

It may seem counter-intuitive (we know), but having a natural Christmas tree in your home will lower your carbon footprint during the holiday season. 

The Nature Conservancy is campaigning for people to use real Christmas trees, not because they’re opposed to artificial trees, but because when you use a natural tree, you’re supporting a stream of other trees down the line. 

Since trees are harvested every 7 to 12 years, farmers need to stagger planting new trees so that each year they have a mature group of trees to cut down for the holiday season.  Fewer than one in 10 farm trees are harvested each year, and for each tree harvested, farmers plant an average of 2-3 trees to replenish the tree used and to keep their farms growing and profitable. 

About 30 million Christmas trees are cut, out of 350 million to 500 million on farms.  The ones that stay provide the benefits.  In addition, most soft woods such pines and furs that are commonly used as Christmas trees can re-sprout and grow new trees from old stumps.  In this way, you can bring your carbon footprint benefit even higher.

Artificial Tree makers, however, disagree.

The American Christmas Tree Association’s website says a study of 6-foot artificial trees compared with real trees indicated the artificial had a smaller carbon footprint.

They say that studies show the best way to reduce your carbon footprint is to buy a fake tree and reuse it for up to 15 years. 

Detractors of natural trees cite multiple reasons for using an artificial tree instead of a natural one:

  1. A real tree drops needles in the house and must be watered to prevent drying out. If not watered properly, they can be a fire hazard.
  2. Natural trees cost a fee each year if bought from a lot
  3. Real trees are usually cut down en masse with tools that consume fossil fuels, further enlarging the carbon footprint from the process

Of course detractors of artificial trees have equally compelling reasons to choose a real tree:

  1. The majority of trees are manufactured and shipped from China (about 85%), so purchasing one does not help U.S. businesses and there is a tremendous fuel cost included in the purchase.
  2. Trees are made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride), a petroleum based product, which is non-renewable. To make them malleable, other chemicals may be used.
  3. Even if you keep your artificial tree for 15 years (or longer!), at some point you’ll have to dispose of it. Since it is not biodegradable, it will remain in the landfill forever. If you try to burn it, dioxins and carcinogens will be released into the atmosphere.

Aside from the debate, the fact that there are far more fun activities inherent in searching for, then finding, and decorating a real tree.  For a family looking to instill tradition in a younger generation, trolling local tree lots for that perfect tree, finding one, and then decorating it can provide memories for years to come for all.

Then there’s the smell of a fresh, natural tree in your living room- something a PVC tree can’t provide.

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New Factsheet on Marcellus Shale Drilling for PA Citizens (and others!)

Posted on December 2, 2010. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

We’ve been following the Marcellus Shale drilling debate as its unfolded in Pennsyvlania. Despite the election of a Republican Governor who has promised no new taxes, its important to continue pushing for stronger regulations on drilling (specifically, fracking) for gas in this region. Fracking certainly has implications beyond Pennsylvania and the Marcellus Shale reaches into the Chespeake Bay watershed.  Below is factsheet for citizens written by Elaine Lapp Esch, a concerned Pennsylvania Citizen. 

**UPDATE 2/2/2011: Check out Elaine’s Op Ed in the Lancaster Times.

Download the factsheet here: PA Marcellus Shale Fact Sheet December 2010 or read below.

A Pennsylvanian’s Fact Sheet: Marcellus Shale Hydraulic Fracturing for Natural Gas

Marcellus Shale gas production is a big deal.  Pennsylvania is sitting on the largest onshore reserve of natural gas in the world.  It is estimated to contain 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, located over a mile underground and trapped within porous shale.  Gas wells have existed in PA for many years but were drilled into much more shallow deposits of gas that didn’t need refinement and could be used onsite.  Many landowners signed mineral rights leases with the old method in mind.  However, the technique used to obtain shale gas is vastly different and has a much greater environmental impact. 

 A well is bored 5,000-8,000 feet down (5,280=one mile) then turned horizontally into the shale and bored up to two miles more.  Holes are blasted in the horizontal pipes and water, sand and chemicals forced through at high pressure to fracture the shale and allow the gas to escape.  This is called hydraulic fracturing or fracking.  Each well can be fracked around 10 times.  Productivity is huge at first (average of 4,300 million cubic feet per day) but drops off about 75% after the first year.  The lifespan of a well is about 8 years.  Wells sit on 5-acre excavated well-pads, and each well-pad can support up to 8 wells. 

Each well requires approximately 1,000 truck trips to complete.  Telescoping well casings must be surrounded by concrete to prevent leakage into ground water and aquifers.  Each frack requires 4-8 million gallons of water, with about 40% of that coming back up as “flowback” – heavily contaminated hazardous waste.  This is stored onsite or piped to “evaporation pits” until moved to an underground injection well, treated and re-used or (vast majority) treated and discharged to surface water.     

The first Marcellus Shale gas well was drilled in 2004.  In 2005, the industry successfully lobbied Congress to have fracking exempted from regulation by the EPA’s Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and Safe Drinking Water Act.  This made it more lucrative.  In 2007, 99 permits were issued in PA, 519 in 2008, 2985 in 2009, and 2108 up to 9/1 in 2010.  Penn State University estimates that 30,000 wells will be drilled within 10 years.  (The map shows wells up to 9/1/10 – about 4736 wells.)

 

COSTS AND DANGERS OF SHALE GAS REMOVAL: 

  • WATER CONSUMPTION:  The Susquehanna River Basin Commission currently has issued approvals for drillers to withdraw 91 million gallons of water per day (MGD) from streams, rivers and lakes – arguably PA’s purest mountain water.  Requests will likely increase as permits increase.  The Ohio River Basin has approved over 48 MGD.  This is considered CONSUMPTIVE use (leaving the water cycle) with about 4 million gallons per frack (10 fracks per well, 30,000 wells) staying underground. 
  • WASTEWATER:  The approximately 2 million gallons of flowback per frack (10 fracks per well, 30,000 wells) cause most of the environmental disasters.  In PA there are 841 documented cases of ground water contamination – mostly flowback and sometimes gas.  Most are caused by leaking evaporation pits, which don’t even work in PA because of our high humidity and rainfall.
  •  MISLEADING INFO:  The Bureau of Gas and Oil Management issued a statement in their 2010 report that they are not aware of fracking impacting freshwater sources.  This is only true in that the shale fracturing itself has not been attributed to any freshwater contamination.  The truth is that in 841 documented cases, some aspect of the shale gas removal process has contaminated ground water.
  • AIR POLLUTION:  Gas is known to be a clean-burning fuel.  This does not take into account the 1,000 truck trips per well, the vapor rising off evaporation pits (which has been documented to contain benzene which is immediately carcinogenic) or the leaks in both wells and pipelines.  In the Texas region of Barnett Shale, emissions from the process were significantly more than the region’s airports and slightly more than on-road mobile emissions. 
  • WASTEWATER TREATMENT:  The flowback that has been treated and discharged to surface water has been found to have high levels of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) – mostly salts from ancient underground sources.  This is not monitored closely and caused the destruction of 26 miles of Dunkard Creek as well as elevated levels in the Monongahela River – showing up in drinking water.  Dilution is the only “treatment”, but if more water is withdrawn from our rivers to dilute what is put into our rivers, it doesn’t make any sense (or work) in the long run. 
  • DESTRUCTION OF LAND:  The excavation and disturbance of ecology required to create well-sites is changing the landscape of our wild lands and farmland.  Projections in Bradford County conclude that there will be one 5-acre well-pad for every square mile of land.  Over 700,000 acres of state land has been leased with projections of 6,500 gas wells on that land, as well as pipelines.
  • POLITICAL PROTECTION OF THE GAS INDUSTRY:  PA does not tax the gas extracted.  We are the only gas-producing state without a tax at a loss of over $500 million for 2011 alone.  Instead, PA taxpayers have and will continue to shoulder the costs of infrastructure and environmental clean-up (such as $12 million for public water in Dimock, PA where well water was contaminated by drillers.) 

 SOLUTIONS TO MANAGE GROWTH AND PROTECT OUR FUTURE

Hydraulic fracturing has been an economic windfall for some residents and areas of PA.  Because of this, a moratorium on drilling is highly unlikely (although it’s been done in NY) but proceeding with caution is necessary.  PA needs to pace itself so that it is not overwhelmed and so that drilling and water use can be monitored thoroughly.  We need to get our act together and plan for the future so that we’re not left with a boom-and-bust ghost town in the long run.  Here are a few reasonable steps:

  • Impose a gas tax of at least 5%.  
  • Uphold the current moratorium on leasing additional state land, and limit the number of wells drilled on state land so that it is not ruined.
  • Restrict water withdrawals from our rivers, lakes and streams – and charge reasonable fees. 
  • Require 100% re-use of flowback water. 
  • Ban evaporation pits and wastewater pipelines. 
  • Enact air quality controls. 
  • Mandate full chemical disclosure and ban the use of benzene and diesel fuel.    
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