Iowa’s failed wind energy project

Photo by nualabugeye, Flickr

Iowa recently incurred what is being described as the greatest failure of the $100 million Power Fund started by former Governor Chet Culver in 2007. An $8 million project striving to store wind energy underground was abandoned on Thursday. The Des Moines Register reports that tests of the underground structures determined that they are unable to adequately store the air from wind farms:

Backers who spent more than $8 million and worked five years to develop a system to store wind energy underground voted Thursday to abandon their efforts. Continue reading

Flooding around Dubuque County

Photo by cdedbdme, Flickr

A downpour of rain that started Wednesday afternoon has left Dubuque County scrambling to prevent flooding damage. The rain total exceeded 13 inches over the past day, flooding homes and streets. KCRG reports that the rain may continue till the end of Thursday:

City officials report that 13-15 inches of rain has fallen in Dubuque since Wednesday afternoon. Dubuque Public Works Director Don Vogt tells KCRG-TV9 that is in his 36-years in Dubuque, he has never seen flooding of this magnitude. Overnight, the Dubuque Fire Department called in every available employee to help respond to emergency calls, according to fire chief Dan Brown. Chief Brown says that the department’s resources were stretched thin due to the flooding and responding to two fires. Continue reading

Propane autogas looks to break into American auto industry

Photo by Steve Pollock, Flickr

Americans hear about electricity and natural gas powered vehicles almost everyday.  However, there is another fuel used to run cars that is getting a little less airtime in the United States.

Read more from the New York Times below:

Texas tycoon T. Boone Pickens has made himself the face of the natural gas industry. The flamboyant oil man has invested millions in his push to fuel cars with natural gas and is trailed by cameras and microphones during his frequent visits to Capitol Hill.

Pickens’ ability to grab attention for natural gas is much envied by its underdog rival, propane autogas.

Natural gas “is getting all the publicity, and we don’t want to be disadvantaged,” said Stuart Weidie, the leader of the industry group Autogas for America. “We’re not an experimental deal. We’re here, we’re available.”

But propane autogas — a popular fuel in the rest of the world — has yet to catch on in the United States. Weidie’s group is trying to change that but has made little headway with consumers and policymakers so far. Most Americans consider propane as a fuel for a barbecue, not a car, and the industry’s lobbying hasn’t been up to the task of changing that perception. Continue reading

Lawmakers look to reach car mileage deal

Photo by Luis Tamayo, Flickr

Car manufacturers and the White House are looking to come to a conclusion on the new, higher fuel economy standards.

Read more from the New York Times below:

The Obama administration and automakers are nearing an agreement to increase fuel economy standards for vehicles to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, a lower target than the White House had sought.

The administration had earlier proposed a goal of 56.2 miles per gallon, while Detroit automakers and Michigan lawmakers have been pushing for a lower standard. Continue reading

Post-flood redevelopment in Iowa City

Photo by bettysalive, Flickr

The City of Iowa City and the EPA are working together to redevelop an area damaged by the 2008 floods. This area, known as Riverfront Crossings, is bordered by Riverside Drive to the west, Gilbert Street to the east, Highway 6 to the south and Burlington Street to the north. A press release by the City of Iowa City reports that this redevelopment will include a new park, flood mitigating developments and possibly the new University of Iowa School of Music: Continue reading

Solar industry fears loss of federal finances

Photo by Christine, Flickr

The solar energy industry has experienced quite the boom recently.  Their installations doubled in 2010 and have the potential to do the same in 2011.  However, that kind of growth could come to an end should two important federal programs stop providing some crucial financing.

Solve Climate News reports:

U.S. solar energy installations are poised to double in 2011 for the second year in a row, but the industry could fall short of its lofty, long-term goals for growth if two key federal programs dry up, officials say.

“We are in reach of our goal of installing 10 gigawatts of solar annually by 2015. That’s enough to power more than 2 million homes with clean reliable solar energy each and every year,” Tom Kimbis, vice president of strategy and external affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), told reporters on a conference call.

“But to reach that goal, Congress needs to make the right investments in solar energy,” he said.

Around 1,800 megawatts of solar power will be installed in the U.S. this year, up from the 887 megawatts installed in 2010, Shayle Kann, managing director of solar research at GTM Research, said on the call.

“This is going to be a time when we see enormous changes … and everything that comes with the maturation of a sector is going to be compressed into a very short period of time over the next year and a half in the U.S.,” Kann added. Continue reading

Blairstown dairy farm spills manure into Coon Creek

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Last Thursday an estimated 100,000 gallons of manure spilled out of a dairy farm near Blairstown into Coon Creek. This accident occurred when a contractor at Cedar Valley Farms punctured a manure transfer pipe. Although Coon Creek flows into the Iowa River, KCRG reports that it’s unlikely that the river will experience significant contamination:

Paul Sleeper, a DNR fishery biologist, said he will have to wait for the water to clear up more before he can tally up the number of fish killed. But he did visit the area where that creek tributary flows into the Iowa River near Marengo.

“We did go down there this (Friday) morning where it dumps into the Iowa River. At this time, we don’t see any impact. The Iowa River has a pretty good flow right now so we don’t anticipate any problems with that,” Sleeper said. Continue reading