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Monthly Archives: June 2020


I use a video in the environmental engineering class that I periodically teach that is an advertisement for DDT.  I recall my grandmother has several of the items shown in the video in her cabin in northern Michigan.  I never saw her use them, but I found it interesting that years after I last saw these items, I found the video.  DDT is still a persistent problem in the world – found everywhere – even in Antarcticca.  But it is not the only “bad guy.”

DDT was banned in the US nearly 40 years ago.  We also banned carbofurans in the US but the manufacturer continued to sell the compound overseas.  Like DDT, carbofuan poisoning in wildlife are on the rise.  Which means it is in our raw water sources.  And who tests for these regularly?  Do they move in groundwater?  Can they taint fish and birds (if they don’t die first).  Scientists find areas in the wilderness with bottles of the stuff “to keep the Jaguars away” as one person said.  The illegal and continued use of pesticides and hazardous chemical like this places us all at risk.  Once illegal, these compounds should not be manufactured any longer.  Its only going to make things better.


The First American Water Works Association Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE) that I went to was in 1994 in New York City – also the first time I had been to New York.  Seems like a long time ago.  I have gone to every ACE since then.   2020 was to be #27, in Orlando -I could stay “home” for ACE.  Alas, coronavirus has killed it.   I guess #27 straight will have to wait until next year….San Diego – let’s hope we can come!


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The 1930s Rural Electrification Administration brought 90% of those in rural America to the electric grid.  The goal of an “electric world” remains elusive, however.  A recent Power engineering magazine notes that while the electric world sounds great, there are certain sectors where electricity remains ill-suited to today’s world – those are primarily transportation and logistics based.  Electric cars sound great (my great grandmother had one of the first in Detroit back in the day), but the infrastructure needs to be built to support electric cars.  OR any hybrid model like hydrogen fuel cells, natural gas, etc.  The biggest barrier to expansion of the transportation industry to w=electric is delivery o f fuel.

The article also noted that certain industrial processes that are power intensive may not be suited for full electrification at present – high heat processes were one.  Energy efficiency is also a challenges in industrial facilities, and a challenge for an electric grid that may require substantial upgrades to accept the added power needed to fuel such facilities.


Despite the federal discourse to the contrary, coal mines are still operating.  Major mining operations are, and will likely continue in Wyoming and Montana (which has 4 major operations).  Much of that coal goes overseas to a declining demand.  Eastern coal, well that is harder to mine and many areas are played out of cost effective coal.  IT is why coal is not coming back

The loss of work is an issue – but the cleanup from old mines, much like the gold and silver mines of the nineteenth century, still need to be cleaned up to protect downstream and adjacent property owners and water users.  If Montana is going to give $107 million to cleanup coal ash, let provide funds to do more cleanup.  And let’s retrain these workers to cleanup these sites and retain others to manufacture and build renewables.  Wouldn’t that put us all in a better place as opposed to trying to prop up a dying industry.  Thankfully concord coach-makers didn’t have a lobby.  We still wouldn’t have cars.

 

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