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Adventures on the Frontiers of Carbon Reduction

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04-30-Hamilton.jpgEnvironmentalists in the United States have long pushed for reductions in carbon emissions. Now, it seems the era of carbon regulation may be upon us.

But implementing these complex regulations is complicated and takes place at both the federal and state levels. This was the topic of Fresh Energy science policy director J. Drake Hamilton's Frontiers in the Environment lecture last Wednesday, April 30 on the University of Minnesota's St. Paul campus.

Unfair Air?

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People of color in the U.S. are exposed to 38 percent more nitrogen dioxide air pollution in the neighborhoods in which they live than are white people, according to new research from the University of Minnesota. The exposure they receive results in approximately 7,000 heart-related deaths per year. 

U of M Instititute on the Environment resident fellows Julian Marshall and Dylan Millet and fellow researcher Lara Clark compared U.S. Census data and nitrogen dioxide levels in cities across the country and found that, irrespective of income, nonwhites had higher average exposure to nitrogen dioxide than whites. The findings received extensive coverage in the media this past week. 

"The molecule [nitrogen dioxide] is not racist," said Marshall, responding to a tongue-in-cheek comment from Melissa Harris-Perry on her Sunday, April 20, MSNBC show. "But people do not live in places at random, as people have talked about on your show thus far. On average there are differences in exposure by race."

Marshall says that because this type of pollution comes from burning fuels, such as gas and diesel from motor vehicles and coal from electricity generation, the way to close the "pollution gap" would be to target emission reductions where people are the most exposed. 

Speaking on MSNBC's NewsNation on Monday, April 21, Marshall said the next step will be to determine why there are large differences between cities. 

Julian Marshall is an associate professor in the College of Science and Engineering; Dylan Millet is associate professor in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences; and Lara Clark is a CSE doctoral student. 

Read more about the study on the U of M homepage in "Groundbreaking Study Finds that People of Color Live in Neighborhoods with More Air Pollution than Whites, and check out this YouTube video abstract of the report. Of course, a Google search will yield many more articles about the study.



Photo, "Duality," by Brian Carson (Flickr Creative Commons)

Methane: Black Hat or White Hat in the Green Economy?

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Satellite imagery of the Upper Midwest at night shows a massive cluster of light in western North Dakota, easily dwarfing the metropolitan areas of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Milwaukee or even Chicago.

The source of this apparent high plains metropolis isn't a city at all, but rather the Bakken shale oil field, where producers are flaring as much as 266,000 million cubic feet of natural gas each day

Exploring U.S.-Canadian Energy Connections

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BY KATE KNUTH

I've been studying up on Canadian energy resources. The short summary is that Canada has a lot of resources. The other summary is that the United States (including Minnesota, where I'm from) has a lot of interests in Canadian energy. Like most energy issues, it's complex. It's a collision of our modern economy dependent on electricity at the flip of a switch and travel as easy as hopping in a car, with the impacts of developing increasingly hard-to-get, non-renewable energy resources -- all in an increasingly unstable climate with a whole host of impacts on more localized communities.
 
This week I am going to Canada to learn about energy on a Pan-Praire Energy Tour organized by the Canadian government. The places I'll visit are Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The energy resources: oil sands, uranium, carbon capture and storage (not a resource, but an important stop), large hydro and renewable resources. We'll also be discussing many issues surrounding these resources, including First Nation relationships and climate change.

Evaluating the Benefits of Household Energy Improvements

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02-19-Carter.jpgOutdoor air pollution from factories and automobiles seems to dominate the news. But there's another, just as sinister, form of pollution and it's coming from inside the house.

Ellison Carter, a postdoctoral fellow in energy, air pollution and health at the Institute on the Environment, discussed her research on environmental and health impacts of indoor air pollution at Frontiers in the Environment in February.

Turning Wind Into Fertilizer

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Minnesota farmers spend more than $400 million per year on nitrogen fertilizer. To keep more dollars in the Gopher State and reduce fossil fuel consumption in agriculture, the University of Minnesota's West Central Research and Outreach Center is using wind energy to produce anhydrous ammonia that can be used as fertilizer. The project was funded through an IonE Initiative for Renewable Energy & the Environment grant. 

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and not necessarily of the Institute on the Environment/University of Minnesota.

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