Archive for environmental friendly

Breaking Oil News: G-8 to fight oil prices with efficiency, tech

AOMORI, Japan (AP) — The world’s top industrialized nations and leading oil consumers pledged Sunday to fight skyrocketing energy prices by increasing efficiency and accelerating investment in new technologies, while urging producers to expand production.

Energy ministers from the Group of Eight countries, joined by China, India and South Korea, voiced concerns over record oil prices and said both producers and consumers would benefit from greater market stability.

Ministers, meeting in the northern Japanese city of Aomori, focused Sunday on how they could diversify their energy sources to both control rising demand for oil and rein in emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

“We simply must increase the level and breadth of investment all around the world,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman. “That means promoting aggressive investment in renewable energy and other alternative energies technologies, as well as the development of tradition hydrocarbon resources.”

The 11 nations, which account for 65% of the world’s energy consumption, grappled with oil prices that have hit record highs. Prices made a massive 8% gain Friday to $138.54 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The G-8 countries — the United States, Russia, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Britain — laid out ways of cutting their dependence on oil in a statement.

They pledged to launch 20 demonstration projects by 2010 on so-called “carbon capture and storage,” which would allow power plants to catch emissions and inject them into underground storage spaces.

While that technology is still in its infancy, proponents say it could eventually allow the expanded exploitation of the world’s abundant supply of cheap coal without polluting the environment and speeding global warming.

There were clear rifts, however, on how to approach the expansion of nuclear energy. The carefully worded joint statement called for assurances on safety and security of nuclear materials, but several nations said they were enthusiastic about building new reactors.

The International Energy Agency, in a report issued last week, estimated the world would have to construct 32 new nuclear power plants each year from now until 2050 as part of an effort to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 50%.

“I think we’re on the verge of a new nuclear age and that will be a positive thing for the world,” said John Hutton, British secretary of state for business enterprise and regulatory reform.

Germany, however, said it would not join the effort. Jochen Homann, Germany’s economics minister, said Berlin was sticking to its decision to phase out nuclear power.

The G-8, China, India and South Korea also established the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation to promote best practices in conserving energy.

While the participants called for more oil production, it could take months to get a response. Production levels have been flat for three years and Chakib Khelil, the president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, has said the group will make no new decision on output until a Sept. 9 meeting in Vienna.

The ministers met amid rising concerns that soaring oil prices could trigger global economic troubles. Fanning such fears, both Japan and the United States have announced higher unemployment rates in recent weeks.

“The situation regarding energy prices is becoming extremely challenging,” warned Akira Amari, Japan’s trade and energy minister. “If left unaddressed, it may well cause a recession in the global economy.”

The Sunday meeting followed a joint statement by five top energy consumers — the U.S., Japan, China, India and South Korea — that warned high prices were a menace to the world economy and more petroleum should be produced to meet rising demand. They argued the unprecedented prices were against the interests of both producers and consumers, and imposed a “heavy burden” on developing countries.

The group, however, diverged over oil subsidies. The International Energy Agency has estimated that oil subsidies in China, India and the Middle East totaled about $55 billion in 2007.

The United States urged countries such as China to lower oil supports, which buoy demand, while poorer developing nations said removing subsidies could trigger political and economic unrest.

 

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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What’s up with oil? (Besides the price …)! Oil Price Rise Effects?

If you’ve picked yourself up off the floor or parked the car for the day (maybe weekend), take time to read some other perspectives on the oil frenzy:

Oil smashes to record above $139 a barrel: Oil roared to a new record on Friday as hedge funds that had bet on a decline in crude prices were forced to exit their short positions. … The rally was also supported by comments from Israel’s transport minister suggesting an attack on Iran’s atomic facilities looked “unavoidable” given the failure of sanctions to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. …

Technical analysis for crude oil – 6/6/2008: I believe that on the short term prices will keep inclining due to the weakness of the dollar if it remains to depreciate but on the longer run prices will have to start falling again due to global slowdown since demand is currently crippled or until economies pick up on growth.

Consumer anger as oil prices soar: Consumers are protesting around the world as oil prices continue rising, with US oil topping $139 a barrel after its biggest-ever one-day increase. The rises come after many goverments were forced to cut fuel subsidies and follow a report on Friday by Morgan Stanley, the US financial services firm, that crude could hit $150 a barrel by July 4. …

U.S. has few options as oil nations tighten grip: Resource nationalism in oil producing countries is cordoning off valuable supplies and the United States has precious few options to battle the trend amid a looming supply crunch. …

Act now to prick the oil price bubble: Bubbles come to an end eventually but there is no guarantee that this will happen soon. The global economy is likely to be forced into a serious crisis if we do not explore the possibility that this is a bubble that needs to be burst quickly. The market can then resume its trend, depending on whatever the fundamentals dictate. …

Why oil prices will tank: High-flying tech stocks crashed. The roaring housing market crumbled. And oil, rest assured, will follow the same path down. …

The oil shock of 2008: Time to reassess the potential for recent oil price increases to contribute to an economic downturn. …

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Do-It-Yourself Warning: Self-Disposing of Oil Tank Can Be a Problem!

For any of a variety of reasons, you may at some point decide to switch from your current oil-fired furnace to one fueled by electricity or natural gas. Part of the changeover process is the removal or abandonment of the old fuel oil tank that supplied raw oil to the furnace, and there are some very strict procedures for dealing with these tanks properly.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not specifically regulate residential oil tanks unless they are leaking, and if you have knowledge that an oil tank is leaking you are required by law to report the situation immediately. Different state Environmental Protection Agencies and some local jurisdictions also have regulation ordinances in place, so your first step following an oil furnace changeover should be to contact your local city or county building department – they can tell you if local ordinances are in effect, and direct you to the proper agency.

While you are not actually required to do anything with a non-leaking tank, aging tanks can present a variety of potential health, environmental, and liability problems, so it’s still in your best interest to permanently and properly abandon the tank as soon as possible – especially if it’s located underground. This process, called “decommissioning,” involves draining any remaining fuel oil from the tank and then either removing the tank from the ground or filling it with sand. This prevents any possible future contamination from a leak as the tank degrades over time, and it also should eliminate the possibility of the ground sinking or even collapsing if the tank were to corrode through completely and collapse. Even if you do not intend to decommission the tank at this time, you should drain any remaining fuel oil to prevent possible soil contamination if the tank should rupture.

You can perform the work yourself, or you can hire it out to a contractor. The cost for decommissioning a fuel-oil tank typically starts at around $500 and goes up from there, depending on what’s involved. If you have a leaking tank that has contaminated the soil, EPA-regulated cleanup can easily run into the thousands.

Another issue with old oil tanks comes up if you are selling your home. Once you become aware of the existence of the tank, most states require that you and your real estate agent disclose its presence to the new buyers. Even at that, under the quirks of some of today’s laws and with the propensity for lawsuits in every conceivable situation, you will probably continue to have some potential liability for cleanup costs in the event of a current or future leak – even long after you’ve sold the house. Also at risk in some situations are any of the previous owners of the house — if the previous owners did not disclose the tank’s presence to you when you bought the house, they often must share liability for leaks, repairs, and cleanup as well.

If you have an oil tank that is no longer in use — whether it’s above or below ground — it is strongly recommended that you talk with your local city or county agencies first to find out about local regulations. If you want to decommission the tank or if you suspect a leak, the next step would then be to contact your local heating oil supplier to get the names of contractors in your area who are licensed for underground tank work, and get them out to take a look.

Once again, if the house is up for sale you need to discuss the situation with your real estate agent – who should, by the way, be fully aware of all laws and liabilities regarding oil tanks and disclosure laws. As a last resort you may also have to discuss things with an attorney if you feel you or the previous owners have some liability. Typically, oil tank situations can be handled with minimum expense and hassle. However, the potential liabilities today can be huge so don’t ignore the situation.

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Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) Ontario’ new regulations for heating oil storage tanks to counter oil spills

This article is a follow-up to our February 2002 edition for Ontario residents, which discussed the dangers of leaking fuel oil tanks, how to avoid problems and how to handle spills and leaks.

Unprotected and neglected storage tanks can potentially ruin a life-long investment. More than one million Canadian homes are heated with oil and over the past few years, there have been a startling number of tank failures – and the trend will grow as traditional steel storage tanks continue to corrode.

Due to condensation, water and sludge accumulating at the bottom, the majority of steel fuel oil tanks rust from the inside out. This damage is not immediately apparent and often presents itself as a catastrophic tank failure. Leaks can also be due to improper maintenance, damp locations and physical damage. Fuel oil leaks have raised insurance claims by 50% over the past few years, with clean-ups often costing more than the property was worth.

New Regulations

The Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) in Ontario has instituted new regulations for heating oil storage tanks to counter oil spills. The rules would require that only licensed installers install and regularly inspection tanks. Tanks would have to be tagged and registered and oil deliveries be made only to tanks that have the registration tag. Therefore, the responsibility for tank maintenance has been divided among the owner, the installer and the oil company.

Insurance Rebates

Insurance companies and governments have recognized that without immediate attention to the problem, leak incidences from residential fuel oil tanks will increase and costs for clean-up will skyrocket. Several insurance companies are now offering refunds to their clients to encourage them to replace their furnace and storage tank systems. Manufacturers are also offering rebates to customers for furnace and tank replacements.

Better Fuel Oil Tanks

Manufacturers of storage tanks have improved their products and warranties. Several new tank products have been marketed during the last few years. Steel tanks have gone to a heavier gauge to mitigate the effect of corrosion and perhaps increase their lifespan. New technologies for non-metallic tanks have emerged so that internal corrosion ceases to be an issue. Glass fiber tanks, in single wall and double wall versions, and the polyethylene tank, secondarily contained in a galvanized steel container, are two examples of new designs which are both proven, tested and ULC listed for the storage of fuel oil.

FICTION: An oil spill won’t cost any more than the deductible amount of a homeowner’s insurance.

FACT: Some insurance policies specifically exclude pollution coverage for leaks or spills from residential heating oil tanks. Homeowners should contact their insurance broker, and review their policy to confirm whether they have pollution coverage, and whether there are any limitations to their coverage.

FICTION: If an oil tank has handles, it’s less than 20 years old.

FACT: The presence or absence of handles is not an accurate indication of age. Only the serial number on the tank ID plate, or a valid date stamp would provide a reliable indication of age.

FICTION: The government says now, that oil tanks have to be changed every 12 years.

FACT: An existing above ground fuel-oil tank is considered approved provided the tank was installed in accordance with the code at the time of installation. As long as the tank is not leaking, there is no age at which the government demands the tank must be replaced.

FICTION: All underground tanks have to be removed immediately.

FACT: New regulations require that all underground tanks to be registered with the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) by May 1, 2002 or fuel oil will not be delivered to the tank. Underground tanks that are 25 years and older, or of an unknown age, and not specially protected from corrosion are required to be removed by October 1, 2006.

FICTION: If a tank has been inspected, there won’t be any trouble getting insurance.

FACT: Insurance companies often reject new applications for coverage of homes with tanks over “X” years of age. Twenty years of age seems to be the most common denominator. Many insurance companies will not provide coverage for underground tanks under any circumstances

FICTION: Oil heating is smelly and expensive.

FACT: Oil furnaces, hot water tanks and storage tanks need not exhibit any odors when properly installed and maintained. Oil heating is a cost-effective alternative to natural gas.

A FEW MORE FACTS FOR ONTARIO RESIDENTS:

Homeowners are required to annually maintain their fuel oil appliances (boilers, furnaces, water heaters, etc.) by having a TSSA certified Oil Burner Technician service and clean the appliance.

Homeowners are required to have their fuel oil appliance installations safety inspected by their fuel oil supplier.

Fuel oil suppliers that find unsafe equipment are required to stop the delivery of fuel oil until the equipment is fixed.

The Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) is an independent, not-for-profit organization responsible for the delivery of a range of safety services. This includes the administration of Ontario’s Technical Standards & Safety Act, 2000 within various industry sectors and the delivery of safety programs to the public.

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Steve Rich & Associates Release Helpful Guidelines To Help Homeowners, Businesses & Municipalities In Tank Related Problems!

Newark, NJ (1888PressRelease) May 27, 2008 – Steve Rich & Associates announced today that they are offering the public a set of guidelines for finding a reputable oil tank removal service. This guidance covers all areas associated with tank removal such as, excavation, cleaning, filling, installation, commercial, residential, contaminated, fuel, aboveground, underground, locating, environmental, contractors, leaking, buried and compliance.

Steve Rich is hoping that by sharing the benefit of his 27 years in the tank removal business, he can help people connect with honest and reputable firms, and steer clear of the rest. The tips are presented in list form for ease of reading.

• Ask questions and expect answers. If you have not received a word of mouth referral, select a few possibilities to get you started and then pick up the phone and call each potential service provider. Find out how long the company has been in business, if they are local, national, international, and if they specialize in one area. Ask for their references, all contact information, as well as an outline of their company policies.

• Do your homework. Research the background of companies that you may be interested in working with. Check their references, their website if they have one, and ensure that you’re dealing with a provider who has current state licenses and certificates. If the business has a store front, go there and check it out.

• Ascertain whether or not their services match your needs. Find out the scale of work the company does. Do they specialize in one area, and does that specialty align with what you’re looking for? If they provide only local service, how far will they travel before increasing fees? It’s also important to find out when your job can be done. If they’re scheduling far in advance, you may have to wait quite awhile.

• Get a quote in writing. Ask to receive a complete price – all fees listed – and have the company commit to a working time frame to do the job. If your tank is beyond repair and requires dismantle and removal, make inquiries to determine if a provider is able to handle the job. You’ll want to find out the following:

• Area of specialization may be underground or above, fuel, chemical, or water tank removal. Ask which of these the company is experienced in.

• Insist on seeing the company’s state licensing. No license should be a sign for you to look elsewhere.

• Find out if they remove the piping, pumps and concrete foundations. If you don’t discover this until after the tank is removed, you may be faced with hiring a different contractor to come and finish the removal process.

• Do they service your sector – homeowner, business, municipality?

• Always get a quote in writing with all fees and work completion date listed. With some due diligence as mentioned above, you can protect yourself as much as possible from unreliable service and unscrupulous individuals.

The public is invited to contact Steve Rich & Associates (http://www.steve-rich.com/) with questions, or for further information.

Contact information:
Steve Rich & Associates, Inc.
One Passaic Street — Unit A
Wood-Ridge, New Jersey 07075
Phone: 973.458.1188
Toll-Free: 1.877.7.DEPEND
Fax: 973.458.1199
info ( @ ) steve-rich dot com
Serving Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset , Sussex , Union, and Warren Counties, including lower New York and Westchester County.

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Americans Feeling Effects of Higher Oil, Gas Prices

Memorial Day, celebrated by Americans on the last Monday of May, marks the unofficial beginning of summer and, for many, the beginning of travel season.

As schools let out for summer, many American families take vacations and most drive to their destinations. The American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates 31.7 million Americans will travel 80 kilometers or more from home over the May 24-May 26 holiday weekend.

But that number is down from 2007: With gas prices at a record high, many Americans are rethinking their travel plans. AAA predicts fewer Americans will travel this Memorial Day weekend compared to last year – the first decrease in travel since shortly after the September 11 attacks.

The high price of gas affects both road and air travel. With the cost of oil rising as high as $135 per barrel, airlines face significantly increased costs for jet fuel and have hiked fares while cutting service.

High gas and oil prices are affecting Americans’ pocketbooks in other ways as well.

AAA estimates that the cost of regular gas is $3.80 a gallon, 19 percent higher than in May 2007 and four times as high as five years ago. The cost of a gallon of diesel fuel, used to run most trucks, is $4.54 a gallon. As it becomes increasingly expensive to fill a truck’s tank, the cost of transporting goods, particularly food, to markets also jumps. This means that as Americans pay more for gas they also are paying more for groceries.

Voters are looking to candidates running for all levels of office for solutions to curb rising gas and food prices.

The presidential candidates, talking to voters concerned about both the future of the economy and the environment, have proposed a number of short- and long-term solutions to lessen the effect of high gas prices.

Both Senator John McCain, the presumed Republican nominee and Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton, in the race for the Democratic nomination, have said that Americans would get some relief if the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal gas tax is suspended during the summer travel season.

Opponents of such a suspension, including Senator Barack Obama, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, say lifting the federal gas tax will save Americans very little money. Obama, who has accused McCain and Clinton of supporting the gas suspension for political purposes, says the plan would save each American only a few dollars at the cost of reducing the funds needed to repair roads.

Each of the presidential candidates has proposed different ways of reducing American’s reliance on foreign oil, which now is about 60 percent of oil used in the United States. These proposals include ways of encouraging companies to develop alternative fuels that would both reduce use of oil and help the environment. (See “Candidates on the Issues: Climate Change ( http://uspolitics.america.gov/uspolitics/elections/issues.html#climate ).”)

Politicians Debate Potential Solutions

With voters frustrated about gas prices, the Senate and House judiciary committees asked executives from the top American oil companies to provide their explanation for the high costs. The executives said the main cause is that global demand for oil is rising while supply remains limited.

Congress recently passed legislation to halt filling the national Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a law it says will increase supply. The reserve, the world’s largest supply of emergency oil, is reportedly 97 percent full.

President Bush, despite his criticism that the legislation will not have an effect on gas prices, signed the bill into law. Filling of the reserve will not resume until oil prices stay at or below $75 per barrel for at least 90 days.

The House of Representatives recently passed a bill calling on the Justice Department to sue the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) for limiting supplies and collaborating to set prices. The Senate has not yet voted on the measure. Bush has threatened to veto the legislation, saying it would spur retaliatory action against the United States. Two-thirds of the House and Senate must vote to override a president’s veto for a vetoed bill to become law.

Even though leaders from both parties helped pass this legislation, Republicans and Democrats disagree on other ways to solve the problem.

Some Democrats propose imposing a new tax on certain profits earned by the five biggest U.S. oil companies unless they use the profits to expand their refineries or develop alternative fuels. Some propose a federal law preventing price gouging, although such laws exist in many states. Opponents say it is unlikely these measures would have any serious effect on prices.

Some Republicans want to allow drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and off the coasts of American shores where drilling currently is prohibited. Opponents say that drilling in these areas will cause environmental damages and would not provide any oil for at least 10 years.

Source: U.S. Department of State

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Google Maps is Going To Be My New Real Estate Search Page

I’ve been wondering for a long time when Google would make a more sophisticated step into the real estate space. We might be seeing the first signs.
Much like Trulia, Zillow, Frontdoor and others, they’ve been quietly suctioning in real estate listings into Google Base over the last year or so (see Trulia Lands the Big One). They first rolled those out into the organic search results when they populated a link on geographic search terms — e.g. portland real estate — to a generic housing search page (see Another Hint at Google Real Estate?).

Now they seem to have quietly pushed that feature up to Google Maps as well (see Google Maps Adds Real Estate Search) and added a search for ‘real estate’ on the main page of that site. To reveal it click on “show search options” and then choose ‘real estate’ from the drop down menu.

Unfortunately, listings (depending on the Metro area) are pretty sparse right and are mostly drawn from 3rd party sources like Postlets. One could imagine how this could quickly fill up should they turn on the firehouse of data they’ve been accumulating from their broker relationships.
Google Maps is a product I find myself using more and more in my real estate searches. Usually when I’ve found a home I’m interested in (whether it’s on Trulia, Zillow or Roost), the very first thing I do is click over to a new tab, Google the address and pull it up on Maps.
From there, I can get a clear view of the street layout (access to freeways etc.), the terrain (how close is it to a park). I love Street View which gives me a first person look at the neighborhood. I start Googling local business to see how far the closest pub, pizza joint, drycleaners, etc. is from the home. I can also pull up instant directions to see how long my commute might be.
Sure I could do some of this on the originating source’s site. But like with all my other Google searches, I love the speed and clean look and feel to Maps. Now if it just had all the listings, I could just cut out the intermediary step (T/Z/R) …
In more Maps news, Google LatLong is reporting that Youtube videos are now showcased on Maps if they are geocoded and/or associated with a local business. From their blog.
Local business owners can easily add YouTube videos along with other content such as business details, photos, and descriptions to their listings. To do so, simply upload your videos to YouTube and ensure that the ‘embed’ option is turned on. Then, associate your video to your business listing through the Local Business Center.
Created a video profile of yourself and your business? Wondering how you can promote it? Here’s a pretty clear step you can take. Make sure you’ve added yourself and your video to the Google Local Business Center.

Roofing ?

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