Sunday, April 10, 2011

Producing solar energy relies on toxic processes; judge sustains wolves

The manufacture of photovoltaic technologies creates its own toxicology. Butte is home to REC, where silane gases are produced. An activist inspired by the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition produced a paper spotlighting the real and potential destructive results of these processes:

In the most common form of solar technology, solar panels are constructed primarily of silicon. The process of mining, refining and manufacturing silicon is extremely energy intensive. For example, the process of heating silica in order to make it into silicon rods uses extremely high amounts of energy and produces a lot of waste. According to the SVTC report as much as 80% of the original mined form of silicon is lost in the heating process. Energy is also used to run turbines, furnaces, generators, and pipes throughout manufacturing and assembling processes.
Silica mining is just one more excuse to rip up the Earth. There is an abandoned pit just outside of Basin likely leaching associated heavy metals into the Boulder River:

Industrial sand and gravel, often called "silica," "silica sand," and "quartz sand," includes sands and gravels with high silicon dioxide (SiO2) content. These sands are used in glassmaking; for foundry, abrasive, and hydraulic fracturing (frac) applications; and for many other industrial uses. The specifications for each use vary, but silica resources for most uses are abundant. In almost all cases, silica mining uses open pit or dredging mining methods with standard mining equipment.

Wyoming Public Radio's Open Spaces has a story on spiking ozone levels in the Wind River Range due to natural gas production and one on beetle-killed pine timber.

In Missoula, Judge Donald Molloy struck down an agreement to remove wolves from the Endangered Species list:

In the 24-page decision, Molloy cited the court's lack of authority to put part of an endangered species population under state management and expose that population to hunting, noting, "Congress has clearly determined that animals on the ESA must be protected as such," and the court couldn't "exercise its discretion to allow what Congress forbids."
This article from the Calgary Herald appeared in the Headwaters News feed:

U.S. President Barack Obama should stop sending mixed messages on oilsands and “sign the bloody order” approving the Keystone XL pipeline, Alberta Energy Minister Ron Liepert charged Thursday.
If the Canucks want to sell this crap, why don't they build more refineries in Alberta and distribute fuel from there instead of building a pipeline to the Gulf?

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