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Energy Headlines: Biomass, Fracking, and More

Scotland Bank May Lend $631 Million for Biomass Projects

Britain’s biggest government-owned lender, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, may lend as much as $631 million into clean energy this year with a focus on biomass. The bank is working on about five deals to support plants that will use organic matter to generate electricity. The facilities, to be built from scratch, will each have a capacity of 50 to 150 megawatts. The Department of Energy and Climate Change estimates bioenergy power plants using organic waste to produce power may meet 8 percent to 11 percent of the nation’s primary energy demand within eight years.

Stricter Radiation Monitoring for Fracking Sites

Pennsylvania will step up its monitoring of naturally occurring radiation levels in water and drilling wastes associated with oil and gas development in a yearlong program. The program will also assess radiation levels in the pipes and treatment systems used by the natural gas industry. In 2011, the industry complied with a request from the environmental department to stop taking wastewater to treatment plants that were not equipped to fully treat it though subsequent downstream monitoring of seven rivers found that radioactivity was at or below normal background levels and complied with federal safe drinking water standards.

Court Faults E.P.A.’s Mandate for Biofuels

A federal appeals court has rejected part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s biofuels mandate, saying that it was based on a wishful assessment of how much cellulosic fuel could be produced. So far, producers have had a hard time generating the volume that would be needed to meet the quota set for refiners, which is part of an effort by the Obama administration to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Cellulosic fuel is generated from agricultural waste and even household garbage by using bacteria, catalysts and the digestive juices of microorganisms.

Perry Nuclear to Improve on Worker Safety, but still faces NRC Ultimatum

Federal regulators are giving the Perry nuclear power plant six months to improve its worker safety programs or face even more intensive investigations than it already has endured. A team of special inspectors spent months at the Lake County facility last fall assessing whether the plant had improved the radiation protection protocols that briefly exposed contractors to hard radiation. This incident got the attention of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Perry must have its occupational safety issues resolved to federal satisfaction in a follow-up series of inspections by the end of July, and there can be no other violations of any kind.

 

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