Oil shortages and climate change may lead to refugee camps even in the U.S. and Europe

[ Will refugee camps be the cities of tomorrow in the U.S. and other developed nations? As oil shortages disrupt supply chains; food shortages grow larger every year from climate change, topsoil erosion, and shortages of natural-gas fertilizer; and rising sea levels displace millions, what other choice besides refugee camps will governments have? 

The alternative is mass migrations overwhelming areas that are still managing to cope, disease, starvation, militias raiding homes and ransacking them for food, and other social disorder. 

Refugee camps, Hoovervilles — call them what you will — are a way to concentrate people in a small area where it is easier to provide food and other aid, and keep other areas not in crisis yet from being overwhelmed by evacuees. 

There are of course, other choices. When Japan saw the U.S. was about to cut off their oil supplies, they started World War II.  When North Korea stopped receiving oil and food aid, they built nuclear weapons to blackmail other nations for aid, and only a small elite lives well while millions have died and tens of millions suffer.  Other ways governments have coped in the past are concentration camps and collective farms.  So however dismal a refugee camp might appear to be, it sure beats the alternatives.

Although the article below is about refugees who have fled their home country,  tomorrow’s refugees will be climate change and energy and natural resource shortage refugees. For example, as heat, drought, lack of water, and a lack of 24 x 7 electricity prevent air-conditioners from working, many in Arizona will flee to other states.  Hurricanes and sea level rise will swamp homes, refineries, nuclear power plants, and electricity generation, sending millions in coastal states inland.

Maybe its time for local governments to plan for permanent refugee camps and  have plenty of birth control pills on hand so that the misery doesn’t continue to grow at a time when everything else is shrinking.

Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts:  KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity , XX2 report ]

Kurt Kohlstedt.  2015-12-1. Cities of Tomorrow: Refugee Camps Require Longer-Term Thinking. weburbanist

refugeeeee

Former mayor of the world’s second-largest refugee camp, humanitarian Kilian Kleinschmidt notes “the average stay today in a camp is 17 years. That’s a generation.” These places need to be recognized as what they are: “cities of tomorrow,” not the temporary spaces we like to imagine. “In the Middle East, we were building camps: storage facilities for people. But the refugees were building a city,” Kleinschmidt said in an interview. Short-term thinking on camp infrastructure leads to perpetually poor conditions, all based on myopic optimism regarding the intended lifespan of these places.

Many refugees may never be able return home, and that reality needs to be realized and incorporated into solutions. Treating their situation as temporary or reversible puts people into a kind of existential limbo; inhabitants of these interstitial places can neither return to their normal routines nor move forward with their lives.. On the one hand, assert experts like Kleinschmidt, planners need build up refugee camps to be durable and sufficient places in their own right. On the other, they also need to move refugee migrants toward countries and regions where they will end up virtuously integrated into struggling economies, including (though controversially): areas of nearby Europe with unused housing and high labor needs.

refugee housing

Beyond providing more thoroughly for essentials, Kleinschmidt sees additional opportunities to enable refugees with new technologies: “With a [3D-printing] Fab Lab people could produce anything they need – a house, a car, a bicycle, generating their own energy, whatever,” he said. Unfortunately, governmental bureaucracies and aid organizations are reluctant to push boundaries and try new approaches. More fundamentally: they frequently fail to recognize the need for robust solutions that help facilitate refugees who are themselves working hard to create real places for living.

refugee housing ikea

“I think we have reached the dead end almost where the humanitarian agencies cannot cope with the crisis,” he said. “We’re doing humanitarian aid as we did 70 years ago after the second world war. Nothing has changed.” Kleinschmidt worked with the United Nations and their High Commission for Refugees for 25 years before starting an independent consultancy that continues to address humanitarian issues around the globe.

Posted in Refugee Camps | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Ugo Bardi: Turn CO2 into ethanol

Ugo Bardi. October 22, 2016. The mother of all promises and how science failed to maintain it. Cassandra’s Legacy.

The latest scientific claim that went viral on the web is about a catalyst able to turn CO2 directly into ethanol. It is likely that many people understood as a miracle that would remove the dreaded CO2 from the air and transform it into something useful at little or no cost.

Yet, if you look at the original article, you will find nothing that suggests that this catalyst is ready for practical, real-world applications. There are no data about how long it can last in operating conditions, nor there are calculations that would tell us how efficient would be the whole process, considering that one has to saturate the electrolyte with CO2. The authors themselves state that “The overpotential (which might be lowered with the proper electrolyte, and by separating the hydrogen production to another catalyst) probably precludes economic viability for this catalyst.” So, we have something that works in the lab, which is fine, of course, but we should never forget that the graveyard of failed inventions is littered with tombstones with the inscription “in the lab, it worked.”

In the discussion that took place on Facebook about this story, some people asked me why I was criticizing this paper so much; after all, they said, it is a legitimate research report. It is true, but the problem is another one. What is the public supposed to think about this?

Most people will see only the press release and they lack the intellectual tools needed to understand and evaluate the original. And from the press release hey will understand that scientists are making a new claim of a further scientific miracle that will solve some important problem at some unspecified moment in the future. And then, they will see that the whole story will be forgotten and the problems of climate, pollution, depletion, etc., will still be there; worse than before.

It is true that the myth of the scientific miracle is stubborn, mainly because it is a comfortable myth: nobody has to do anything except giving some money to our priests in white coats. But that can’t last forever. Science, as all human enterprises, doesn’t live in a vacuum, it lives on its reputation. People believe that science can do something good for them because science has done that in the past. But this reputation is being tarnished a little bit every time some hyped scientific claim falls into oblivion, as it is destined to do. The reserve of trust that science has accumulated in the past is not infinite.

Already today, you can see the decline of the reputation of science with the many people who believe that no man ever never walked on the moon. Even worse, you can see it with those (nearly 50% of the American public) who believe that human-caused climate change is an elaborate hoax created by a cabal of evil scientists who are only interested in their fat research grants.

So, what happens when the reserve of trust in science runs out for good? I don’t know, but wouldn’t it be a good thing for scientists to be a little more humble and stop promising things they know they can’t maintain?

Posted in Far Out, Optimism & Critical Thinking, Ugo Bardi | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Why vultures are so important — and dying off

University of Utah. May 5, 2016. Why vultures matter—and what we lose if they’re gone.

Original paper: Evan R. Buechley et al, The avian scavenger crisis: Looming extinctions, trophic cascades, and loss of critical ecosystem functions, Biological Conservation (2016).Vultures in some parts of the world are in danger of disappearing. And according to a new report from University of Utah biologists, such a loss would have serious consequences for ecosystems and human populations alike.

The primary threat to , according to the report published today in Biological Conservation, is the presence of toxins in the carrion they consume. On many continents, vultures are the unfortunate victims of poisoned carcasses—especially impactful because dozens—or even hundreds—of vultures can feast on a single carcass. Populations of most vulture species around the world are now either declining or on the brink of extinction.Losses of vultures can allow other scavengers to flourish, and proliferation of such scavengers could bring bacteria and viruses from carcasses into human cities.

Risk factors for decline

In 2004, the authors noted that vultures were the single most threatened group of birds. Now, more than a decade later, they have examined factors affecting the extinction risk of more than 100 bird species, including 22 species of vultures, which eat carrion exclusively, and other scavenging birds that have broader diets.  Their results suggest there are several traits that probably contribute to vultures’ extinction risk, including their large body masses, slow reproductive rates and highly specialized diets. The greatest external threat to vultures, however, is poisoning.

Poisoning on three continents

Poisoning is the greatest facing vultures, and impacts 88 percent of threatened vulture species. The poisons come in many forms.

In North America, the California condor, a vulture, experienced sharp declines until only 22 individuals remained by 1982. The leading cause of decline? Toxic lead bullet fragments in the gut piles left behind by hunters after animals had been field-dressed. Intensive conservation efforts helped the species to rebound. The condors now number well over 400, and range over large areas of California, Arizona, Utah and Baja California, Mexico.

In the mid-1990s India experienced a precipitous vulture decline, with more than 95 percent of vultures disappearing by the early 2000s. “That was a massive collapse that led a lot of people to really focus more attention on vultures,” Buechley says. The cause was eventually traced to diclofenac, a veterinary anti-inflammatory drug that relieved pain in cattle, but proved highly toxic to vultures. Hundreds of vultures would flock to each cattle carcass. And if the cow had recently been treated with diclofenac, hundreds of vultures would die. Because of this highly gregarious feeding behavior, less than one percent of cattle carcasses contaminated with diclofenac could account for the steep vulture decline. Fortunately, international cooperation led to a total ban on veterinary diclofenac use. Buechley says the numbers of vultures have stabilized, and are now showing signs of slowly increasing.

Now, the center of the vulture crisis is in sub-Saharan Africa. “In Africa, it’s a lot more challenging,” Buechley says. “It’s a darker story.” Potent newly affordable poisons are used to control predatory pests, such as lions or jackals. The poisons are so toxic that they can cascade through ecosystems: birds, mammals and insects are often found littering the area around these poisoned carcasses. But, as the predominant scavenger, vultures take the brunt of the poisoning and face the largest number of casualties. For example, an elephant carcass poisoned in Namibia in 2007 killed as many as 600 vultures. In other cases, vultures are the victims of poachers who poison carcasses so that vultures do not give away the location of illegally taken animals. “Vultures are taking the hit, indirectly, for a lot of this human-wildlife conflict, as well as the illegal trade in animal parts,” Buechley says. This crisis, unfortunately, is ongoing.Rise of the facultative scavengers

In vultures’ absence, other scavenger populations increase to take advantage of all of the uneaten carrion. By some estimates, in Central America, South America and Africa, vultures eat more meat than all predators combined. Without vultures, animals that eat carrion as a part of their diet (called facultative scavengers, as opposed to vultures, which eat only carrion) proliferate to take advantage of the available nutrients in a dead carcass. “There are a ton of nutrients in carrion that are going to be taken advantage of by something,” Buechley says.

Crows, rats, dogs—any of these species can suddenly become abundant and dominant, to the point of crowding out the remaining vultures. Hundreds of vultures on a carcass can easily frighten away packs of dogs, ?ekercio?lu says. But when only a few vultures are left, the dogs can rule.

Such changes in populations of certain animal groups can upset the balance of food webs. “All these facultative scavengers are also predators, and so they also go out and eat other organisms too,” Buechley says. “You have this cascading effect.”

Human impacts

The impact of vultures’ declines are not limited to the realm of ecology, however. Vultures are highly efficient consumers of carrion, sometimes locating and consuming carcasses within an hour, before other forms of decay can set in. And vultures’ stomachs are highly acidic, killing nearly all bacteria or viruses that may be present in carrion. Combined with the fact that vultures rarely come in contact with humans, vultures serve as a barrier to prevent diseases from proliferating in dead animals and spreading to humans. Other facultative scavengers are not so adapted, and could pass along those diseases into , as many are already fixtures in cities.For example, following the decline of vultures, India experienced a strong uptick in feral dogs —by an estimated seven million. The increase in dogs, potentially feeding on disease-ridden carcasses, is thought to have at least partially caused the rabies outbreak that was estimated to have killed 48,000 people from 1992-2006 in India—deaths that may have been avoided if not for the disappearance of vultures.Members of the Parsi sect of Zoroastrianism experienced a different impact. For thousands of years, the Parsi people have placed their dead on exposed mountaintops or tall towers for vultures to consume. The practice is called “sky burial.”But with few vultures and unable to properly handle their dead, the Parsis experienced a crisis within the faith. Some constructed captive vulture aviaries. Others talked about desiccating bodies using focused solar mirrors. The Parsis’ plight exemplifies the vultures’ role in south Asian society—and the various impacts if the vultures aren’t there.

Learning from the past

Although the vulture crisis in Africa is ongoing, Buechley can predict what the outcome will be, based on previous experiences in India. Crows, gulls, rats and dogs will boom. And the rabies outbreak in India may just be a prologue, because several sub-Saharan Africa countries already have the highest per-capita rabies infection rates in the world. Rabies is only one of the many potential diseases that vultures had helped regulate.Why vultures matter—and what we lose if they’re gone

Buechley notes that the poisoning that is killing vultures is also affecting many other organisms throughout ecosystems. But vultures are the most sensitive canaries in ecological coal mines. The story of the California condor shows that recovery is possible, but at a high cost that countries in the developing world may not be able to pay.”It’s good news and bad news,” ?ekercio?lu says. “It shows that we can bring back these scavengers. But the bad news is that once we get to these numbers, it costs tens of millions of dollars and decades to bring them back. You don’t want to go there. And once you go there, we can afford to save only a few species.”So, Buechley argues, “the better solution is to invest in vulture conservation here and now, in order to stem incalculable damage from trophic cascades and increased human disease burden in the developing world

Posted in Biodiversity Loss | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Steam powered farm tractors

[ Steam engines weren’t very efficient, 10 to 20% at best, which is why they went away beginning around 1920 when oil-powered engines came along.  At the very best steam engines for transportation reached 10 to 20% efficiency. They were almost universally powered by coal, mostly by locomotives and stationary engines in factories. Only in America for a few decades was there so much wood that steam boats and locomotives burned wood rather than coal, until deforestation east of the Mississippi forced coal to be used, and a few decades later around 1920 oil combustion engines became more powerful, efficient, far less dangerous, and cheaper and the steam engines that remain are steam turbines used to generate electricity, not to move vehicles.

Steam turbines to generate electricity are very efficient — the best can be 45%.  But since trucks run on diesel fuel and can’t be electrified with batteries or catenary, and biomass doesn’t scale up enough to produce electricity, I am mainly interested in steam engines burning biomass as a long-term replacement for diesel-engines for trucks in the future.

Biomass won’t scale up for vehicle and factory steam engines in the future for the same reason it didn’t in the past, the wood will run out quickly. Forests can take decades to grow back, since photosynthesis is inefficient, with about  a half percent of new biomass added per year. 

Further limiting biomass steam engines is that post carbon they will depend on horses, like they did in the past, to haul biomass fuel and water to the steam engine. Each horse needs an average of 5 acres to provide its food, land which is now used to produce human food.

Meanwhile, post fossil fuels, wood will also be needed for nearly everything – heating and cooking, homes and buildings, furniture and flooring, tools, roofs, and so on. It will be needed to make charcoal to make iron, bricks, metals, ceramics, and so on.

In fact, biomass depletion (especially deforestation) is one of the main reasons past civilizations have failed for the past 5,000 years (see one of my favorite books: John Perlin’s “A forest journey”.  And not just because there isn’t enough biomass.  When you cut down forests, topsoil blows and washes away, and agricultural production declines. War ships can no longer be built to trade or steal trees elsewhere.

Steam-powered vehicles are so inefficient I wasn’t going to ever cover them.  But after several interviews about my book “When Trucks Stop Running”, several readers commented that we’ll use steam engines in the future.

Which reminded me of that one reason why the energy crisis isn’t feared by anyone is that it’s like Bop-a-mole.  Even if you succeed in convincing someone that solar PV power won’t be able to replace oil because it has a low EROI (too low to replace itself let alone provide power for everything else), is too seasonal, requires too much non-existent energy storage, and so on, most people will reason: but there’s still wind power, hydrogen, geothermal, wave and tidal, hydropower, natural gas and so on.  Given the reduction of news and conversation to ten-second soundbites, the pressure to be optimistic about everything all the time (the scientists will come up with something!), and lack of scientific  education, I don’t expect to ever make a dent in the general ignorance on energy and natural resource matters, but I don’t mind. This site is meant for the very small percent of people who, like me, want to understand reality regardless of how depressing it may be.  An even smaller subset of them will actually make different choices about career and where to live than they might have otherwise, choices that may saves their lives in the bottleneck ahead. So good luck to anyone who has read this far! ]

Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts:  KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity , XX2 report ]

Brandon Knapp. 2000. How Steam Power Revolutionized the Farm in America. Yesterday’s Tractors.

As the American farm entered the 1800s, its main source of power came from three animals-the horse, the mule, or the ox. The average farm worked by horses was 100 acres, and a farmer walked 8 miles per acre to plow his fields (with a walking plow) at the average speed of 1 1/2 mph. With 100 acres, the farmer walked 800 miles to plow his fields. And he still had to plant the crop, and cultivate! For wheat and other crops the grain had to be separated from the chaff with a machine called the thresher. The thresher was powered by a power sweep, which was turned by horses. Everything depended on the strength and durability of humans and horses.

In 1849, things began to change. Some of the first portable steam engines for farm use were built in this year, in Philadelphia. They only provided belt power for machines like the thresher. There were three sizes-4, 10, and 30 horsepower. The 4-hp model sold for $625 and the 30-hp model sold for $2300. That was a lot of money back then! These machines were also heavy; the 4-hp model weighed two tons, or 1000 pounds per horsepower!

These machines were pulled from field to field by horses. The steam engine provided steady power, it didn’t tire after hard work, and it only was “fed” when it worked; instead of all year round, like animals. Yet these machines were still crude, and a low steam pressure of 50 to 90 p.s.i. limited the amount of work that could be done.

Over the next few years, the steam pressure would be steadily increased with better quality material and construction of the boilers. However the greatest change of the steam engine would make it unforgettable for the next 150 years-“Self Propelled” steam engines began their debut in 1855. At first they were just a normal “Portable” engine, with chains or gears connecting the crankshaft and the rear wheels. They couldn’t even steer! They still needed horses to turn. But the self-propelled engine could also pull its thresher behind it.

If a steam engine could pull a thresher, it could also pull another type of load-the plow. In 1855, a “steam plow” was used by its inventor Obed Hussey. In 1858, Joseph Fawkes used his 30-hp engine; named “Lancaster”, for a plowing demonstration at the Illinois State Fair. The engine and plow were then taken to the U.S. Agricultural Society’s contest in Chicago where it won the championship. The steam engine that could be used for plowing, pulling, belt work, or other uses became known as the Steam Traction Engine.

Then, development of the steam engine slowed as the Civil War began. Most industry was used to produce weapons of war. However, the Armies required more food, and the Armies took many men from their farms at the same time. The few men and women left on the farms needed to use technology to keep up with demand. So the small number of steam engines (mostly portable types) became more popular. Yet the war kept farmers from getting the technology they wanted. It would have to wait until after the war…

After the war, steam engines steadily improved in technology and quality. Many different types and manufacturers of engines sprung up. Case, one of the largest manufacturers of steam engines, made its first engine in 1876. Port Huron began in 1882. In 1880, a patent was issued for a steering devise; the steam engine could make itself turn! Then came the invention of the clutch (very high technology!). Steam pressures of 150 p.s.i. became commonplace. Work was easier for the farmer as the steam engine pulled the plow, and turned the belt to thresh the grain.

The steam traction engine’s popularity soared during the 1890s. But, so did the horse’s. Just as the Eli Whitney’s cotton gin needed more slaves; the steam engine required more horses. The steam traction engine could plow, haul huge loads, and power the threshing machine all day. It needed plenty of fuel and water, which was brought by horses. The increased amount of tilled land needed to be planted, and cultivated, which the steam engine was too big to do. Although the steam engine made horses unneeded for some big jobs, more horses were needed for many others.

Groups of farmers formed “threshing rings” in order to pay for the costs of an engine and thresher. It was very expensive; a 110 hp engine from Case could cost over $3000! The farmers began to realize that the steam engine, while useful, still didn’t keep expenses down enough (when you add horses to the bill) to make them useful to the small farmer. Only larger farms could afford them. As the “newfangled” gasoline engines became more reliable, and smaller, they began to cut into the steam engine’s market. From 1900 and on the steam engine became less popular. In 1924 came the Farmall, a gas tractor that could do all the jobs on the farm. It was the final nail in the coffin. Steam production stopped a few years later. A few steam engines worked ’till World War Two. Then many were lost in the scrap drives. Not too many are around today, and you can only see them at antique tractor shows. Yet, when they are there, you notice them. Just look for the plumes of coal/wood smoke, and listen for the whistles. They still are impressive!

Interesting Information

President Abraham Lincoln said in 1859-“The successful application of steampower to farm work is a desideratum-especially a steam plow. To be successful, it must, all things considered, plow better than can be done by animal power. It must do all the work as well, and cheaper, or more rapidly, so as to get through more perfectly in season; or in some way afford an advantage over plowing with animals, else it is no success.”

Horsepower in steam engines was first measured with the formula, 1hp for every 10-14 square feet of boiler surface. But this formula was outdated by the increase of steam pressures in the engines, yet the formula was used until 1911. Then a new measurement-brake horsepower (which was measured on a Prony Brake-type dynamometer). An engine from 1908, which was advertised as 30hp, might be advertised as a 100hp engine in 1912! Some ads had both types of horsepower rating, such as 30-100hp.

Steam engines exploded every day in the U.S. in the early 1900s. For a plain steam traction engine-the boiler holds 52 cubic feet of water, and 26 cubic feet of steam at 150 psi. That 26 cubic feet of steam at 150 psi weighs 9.73 lbs, but holds 1,300,000 foot pounds of energy. The 52 cubic feet of water is at 366° F. It holds 38,000,000 foot pounds of energy. When the boiler fails, it releases enough energy (from the steam and water) to send a one-pound object straight up 7,500 miles (into orbit). Or a 7,500 pound object (the traction engine) one mile up!

Some reader comments:

  • The early farms were not 100 acres in size, most of them were much closer to 40 acres, and probably less than 20 acres was actually plowed under, so the theory of a farmer walking 800 miles just to get the plowing done is a bit far-fetched. A farm of 100 acres would have been quite an operation and would have required several hired men.
  • This was a good report but the dates are misleading. plowing with traction engines did not start until about 1876 when case introduced the first traction engine.

References

Ertel, Patrick W. American Steam Tractors.  1997.

Halberstadt, Hans. Steam Tractors. 1996. Iron Will. Reiman Publications, L.P., 1997.

Letourneau, Peter. Vintage Case Tractors. 1997.

Macmillan, Don., and Jones, Russell. John Deere Tractors and Equipment, Volume One 1837-1959. American Society of Agricultural Engineers, 1988.

Moorhouse, Robert. The Illustrated History of Tractors. Quintet Publishing Limited, 1996.

Norbeck, Jack. Encyclopedia of American Steam Traction Engines. Crestline Publishing Co., 1976.

Posted in Biomass-powered Steam Engines | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Wind and solar need natural gas to balance intermittent, variable, and seasonal power

[ The highest wind states are getting to be enormously dependent on natural gas to balance wind and solar as this EIA article about California below shows.  Yet conventional natural gas has peaked — half our natural gas– and is declining at 5% a year.  Shale “fracked” natural gas is expected to peak by 2020, and can decline by 80% in a few years. Natural gas is not only balancing wind and solar, but it also provides baseload (running most of the time for 24 hours), and medium load (from 7 am to 6 pm on week days). On top of that, natural gas has been replacing coal and nuclear plants, and expected to do so even more in the future.  Add in a growing population and natural gas will be declining at a much faster rate in the future than it is already, and LNG import facilities take years to build and cost many billions of dollars, and make us even more dependent on foreign nations.

Yet the LCOE costs of wind and solar look “cheap” because they don’t include Natural Gas LCOE, yet they rely nearly 100% on natural gas (to a smaller extent balancing can be done with biomass and pumped hydropower, but hydroelectric isn’t considered dispatchable because it’s seasonal and held back for agriculture, drinking water, and ecological needs.

Limits to natural gas mean limits to wind and solar penetration as well, since utility-scale battery storage is far from commercial.

Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts:  KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity]

Energy Information Administration. September 7, 2016.Natural gas generation and electricity imports used to follow load in California

graph of hourly average CAISO electricity production, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, California Independent System Operator (CAISO) as accessed through ABB Velocity Suite

The California Independent System Operator (CAISO), the entity responsible for maintaining the balance between supply and demand for electricity throughout most of the state, where demand peaks in the late afternoon or early evening on summer days. Because of differences in the hourly output of certain electricity generators, some of which are nearly constant (nuclear) and some of which can vary considerably during the day (solar, wind), output from mainly natural gas and electricity imports from other regions are used to balance overall electricity supply and demand in the region.

Thermal generation in CAISO, mostly comes from natural gas, contributes the largest share of electricity generation in CAISO and has the widest range in hourly generation. Based on hourly data in June, July, and August, on the average summer day in 2016, in-region thermal power output ranged between 7.3 gigawatts and 15.2 gigawatts (GW). Over the entire summer, hourly thermal power output was as high as 25.6 GW at 5:00 p.m. on July 27, when total system demand was high, and was as low as 2.6 GW at 9:00 a.m. on June 12, an hour when demand was relatively low and renewables output was relatively high.

The only nuclear facility in CAISO, Diablo Canyon, consistently provided about 2.2 GW of power. Large hydroelectric facilities combined for about 2.3 GW to 4.8 GW of power on a typical day. Hydroelectric facilities, the most flexible renewable sources, were generally dispatched to coincide with electricity demand, meaning output was often highest during hours of peak electricity demand and lowest during times of low electricity demand.

graph of hourly CAISO electricity production by fuel type, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, California Independent System Operator (CAISO) as accessed through ABB Velocity Suite

Some renewable fuels have more variable levels of output, particularly wind and solar. Most of CAISO’s utility-scale solar generation comes from solar photovoltaic systems, whose output is dependent on sunlight during daylight hours. The CAISO area includes a few solar thermal facilities, some of which have energy storage that allows them to produce electricity after the sun has gone down, but these generators make up a relatively small portion of CAISO’s solar output. On an average summer day, utility-scale solar output ranged from 0 GW to 7.6 GW, the largest range among renewable fuels and the only fuel to have many hours without any output.

graph of hourly CAISO electricity production for selected renewable fuels, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, California Independent System Operator (CAISO) as accessed through ABB Velocity Suite

Wind generators provided about 2.2 GW on average, but they ranged from near zero (0.06 GW) to more than 4 GW several times during the summer. Wind output is often at its lowest point during the middle of the day, when solar output is near its highest. Geothermal, biomass, biogas, and small hydroelectric facilities had lower but more consistent output with relatively small differences between their highest and lowest hourly output.

Electricity imports are another option to supplement electricity produced by in-region sources to balance total supply with system load. Data from EIA’s new electric system operating tool show electricity trades among different balancing authorities. CAISO imports electricity from nearby regions such as the Northwest and Southwest. On an average summer day, these imports range between 6.5 GW and 9.4 GW.

 

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The global threat of invasive species to marine biodiversity

Molnar, J. L., et al. 2008. Assessing the global threat of invasive species to marine biodiversity. Frontiers in ecology and the environment #6

Although invasive species are widely recognized as a major threat to marine biodiversity, there has been no quantitative global assessment of their impacts and routes of introduction. Here, we report initial results from the first such global assessment. Drawing from over 350 databases and other sources, we synthesized information on 329 marine invasive species, including their distribution, impacts on biodiversity, and introduction pathways. Initial analyses show that only 16% of marine ecoregions have no reported marine invasions, and even that figure may be inflated due to under-reporting.

International shipping, followed by aquaculture, represent the major means of introduction.

Invasive species have transformed marine habitats around the world. The most harmful of these invaders displace native species, change community structure and food webs, and alter fundamental processes, such as nutrient cycling and sedimentation.

Alien invasives have damaged economies by diminishing fisheries, fouling ships’ hulls, and clogging intake pipes. Some can even directly impact human health by causing disease.

webpanel2-a-alien-species-pathway-frameworkwebpanel2-b-alien-species-pathway-framework

We defined “harmful” invasive species as those having ecological impact scores of 3 or 4 (disrupting multiple species or wider ecosystems). Using this definition, 57% of species in our database are harmful, ranging from 47% of cnidarians to 84% of plants

Our data reveal high levels of invasion in the following ecoregions:

  • Northern California, including San Francisco Bay (n = 85 species, 66% of which are harmful),
  • Hawaiian Islands (73, 42%)
  • North Sea (73, 64%)
  • Levantine Sea in the eastern Mediterranean (72, 50%).

Realms that feature the highest degree of invasion are:

  • Temperate Northern Atlantic (240, 57%)
  • Temperate Northern Pacific (123, 63%)
  • Eastern Indo-Pacific (76, 45%).

The least invaded realms are the Southern and Arctic Oceans (1, 100%, and 9, 56%, respectively).

More than 80% of species were introduced unintentionally. The most common pathway for 60 marine species in the database was shipping (ballast and/or fouling; 228 species, 57% of50which are harmful). Of the 205 species with more detailed shipping pathway information, 39% are known to have been, or are likely to have been transported only by ship fouling, 31% are transported only by ballast,30and 31% are transported by either ship foul ing or ballast. The aquaculture industry is the next most common pathway (13420 species, 64% of which are harmful;

Each invasive species was assigned a score (where data allowed) for the following categories: ecological impact, geographic extent, invasive potential, and management difficulty (Panel 1). The “ecological impact” score measures the severity of the impact of a species on the viability and integrity of native species and natural biodiversity. For example, the green alga, Caulerpa taxifolia, was assigned the highest ecological impact score (4), based on its ability to outcompete native species and reduce overall biodiversity (Jousson et al. 2000). The sea slug, Godiva quadricolor, was conservatively assigned a lower score (2), because its only known impact is feeding on one taxon – other sea slugs – with no wider effects documented (Hewitt et al. 2002). The ecological impact score was assigned globally for each species, not for specific occurrences.

Ecological impact:

  • 4 – Disrupts entire ecosystem processes with wider abiotic influences
  • 3 – Disrupts multiple species, some wider ecosystem function, and/or keystone species or species of high conservation value (eg threatened species)
  • 2 – Disrupts single species with little or no wider ecosystem impact
  • 1 – Little or no disruption
  • U – Unknown or not enough information to determine score

Geographic extent

  • 4 – Multi-ecoregion
  • 3 – Ecoregion
  • 2 – Local ecosystem/sub-ecoregion
  • 1 – Single site
  • U – Unknown or not enough information to determine score

Invasive potential

  • 4 – Currently/recently spreading rapidly (doubling in < 10 years) and/or high potential for future rapid spread
  • 3 – Currently/recently spreading less rapidly and/or potential for future less rapid spread 2 – Established/present, but not currently spreading and high potential for future spread
  • 1 – Established/present, but not currently spreading and/or low potential for future spread U – Unknown or not enough information to determine score

Management difficulty

  • 4 – Irreversible and/or cannot be contained or controlled
  • 3 – Reversible with difficulty and/or can be controlled with significant ongoing management
  • 2 – Reversible with some difficulty and/or can be controlled with periodic management
  • 1 – Easily reversible, with no ongoing management necessary (eradication)
  • U – Unknown or not enough information to determine score

We have compiled information from over 350 data sources. The database now includes 329 marine invasive species, with at least one species documented in 194 ecoregions (84% of the world’s 232 marine ecoregions; Figure 1).

The dominant groups of species in our database are crustaceans (59 species), mollusks (54), algae (46), fish (38), annelids (31), plants (19), and cnidarians (17). We scored all 329 species for ecological impact and geographic extent. The mean ecological impact score was 2.55 (SD = 1.04) – halfway between “disrupts single species with little or no wider ecosystem impact” and “disrupts multiple species, some wider ecosystem function. Most species have been found in multiple ecoregions (mean geographic extent score of 3.98, SD = 0.19). We scored 324 species for invasive potential, with a mean score of 2.05 (SD = 1.03; “established/present…high potential for future spread”). The 268 species scored for management difficulty had a mean of 3.56 (SD = 0.71), indicating that most are difficult if not impossible to remove or control.

Do your own research:

ocean-invasive-links-1 ocean-invasive-links-2

University of Tartu: Benthic Invertebrates www.sea.ee/Sektorid/merebioloogia/MASE/Benthic_invertebrates.htm

USGS’s Florida Integrated Science Center – Gainesville http://cars.er.usgs.gov/Nonindigenous_Species/nonindigenous_species.html

USGS’s Marine Nuisance Species http://woodshole.er.usgs.gov/project-pages/stellwagen/didemnum/

WA State Noxious Weed Control Board’s Information www.nwcb.wa.gov/weed_info/Written_findings/Spartina_anglica.html about common cordgrass (Spartina anglica)

Weed Information Sheet: Hygrophila costata www.portstephens.local-e.nsw.gov.au/files/46654/File/Hygrophila_info_sheet.pdf

Why do jellyfish sting? (author: B Galil) www.ocean.org.il/Eng/Focus/Jellyfish.asp

Posted in Biodiversity Loss, BioInvasion | Tagged , | 1 Comment

The effects of Middle East events on U.S. Energy markets

[ Of note from this U.S. House 2011 hearing:

John Hofmeister, former President of Shell OilMatt Simmons, who passed away this past summer, used to speak of the Straits of Hormuz as, we live one day away from an oil Pearl Harbor [because the] Straits of Hormuz transport between 20% and 25% of daily consumption of global oil, and were they to be shut in, the world would be in a panic overnight if it were not possible to pass oil… The immediate impact on crude oil prices would … double or even triple the current crude oil price… it is such a critical pinch point and so much of that oil goes both east and west that it is not only energy security for the United States, it is energy security for the world’s second largest economy, China. And so the consequence would be dramatic.

While it is great to have a million new vehicles hybrids and battery cars on the roads by 2015, 250 million automobiles and tens of millions of trucks, tractors, planes, boats, buses and other vehicles depend upon a daily supply of crude oil.

[And]  we should not forget that within that 20-million-barrel-per-day demand  is a petrochemical industry that needs crude oil as feedstock [to produce]  the fiber [in] our clothing, pharmaceuticals,  lubricants, and the food that we use to eat in this country.

Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts. Yesterday, this subcommittee held a hearing on Republican legislation that will bar EPA from doing anything further to reduce oil use from cars, trucks, planes, boats or any other source. The legislation might even nullify the progress that has already been made at the EPA in reducing demand for oil from cars and trucksThe Republican bill could result in an increase in our oil dependence of more than 5 million barrels a day by the year 2030, more than we currently import from OPEC [yet] … here we are holding a hearing on the effect of Middle East unrest on the oil market as though the Republican legislation that will dramatically increase our dependence on Middle Eastern oil didn’t even exist.

Mrs. Lois Capps. California… rejected the Koch Brothers’ attempt to remove all the clean air regulations in California by voting down Proposition 23.   We hear from the majority today that the way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil is to drill our way out of the problem. … I think we know that is not true by a long shot.  There is no way we could produce enough to meet our needs domestically. If we had adopted … efficiency standards for our vehicles, homes and appliances in the 1990s [which Democrats and a few Republicans tried to do], we may not have found ourselves in the situation we are in today.

Mr. Pete Olson, Texas. I think you believe as I do that we have to develop all the oil and gas resources that God has given our country. That means the East Coast, the Gulf Coast, the West Coast, Alaska, the public lands, wherever it is, we need to develop that oil.

John Sullivan, Oklahoma.  We have the resources to drill at home and the American people deserve an affordable national energy policy that takes advantage of the fact that we have more energy within our borders than our nation will ever need or want.

Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts:  KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity]

House 112-4. February 10, 2011. The effects of Middle East events on U.S. Energy markets. House of Representatives, subcommittee on energy and power 112th congress. 231 pages

Excerpts:

Source: EIA (data estimates based on APEX tanker data) from House 112-4. February 10, 2011. The effects of middle east events on U.S. Energy markets. House of Representatives hearing

Source: EIA (data estimates based on APEX tanker data) from House 112-4. February 10, 2011. The effects of middle east events on U.S. Energy markets. House of Representatives hearing

ED WHITFIELD, KENTUCKY.   We convene today’s hearing to have a discussion on recent developments in the Middle East and North Africa and their effect on world energy markets.

Violent protests and political uncertainty in Egypt 2 weeks ago caused a sudden spike in oil prices that, over the past few days, has gradually subsided. The price increase was driven by investor fears over the possible shutdown of the Suez Canal and Su-Med Pipeline, which transport up to 3 million barrels of oil per day. Events in the Middle East [show that] political events can play a major role in influencing the price of oil.  Half the world’s oil is produced in OPEC member states and Russia. Some of these nations are politically and economically unstable, and in a tightening market, unreliable sources of oil will prove increasingly detrimental to price stability and international security. Events in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Algeria and Yemen show how uncertain and dangerous this world is. Furthermore, these developments show how the price of oil can bend to the will of protesters thousands of miles away from our shores.

The National Petroleum Council estimates we have upwards of 40 billion barrels of oil locked away in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, on- and offshore Alaska, that are currently off-limits for production.

These 40 billion barrels are double the proven reserves in the United States today. These resources could easily double our domestic production capacity and replace our imports from the Middle East.

Failing to produce domestic energy guarantees environmental harm elsewhere in the world.

John Hofmeister, former President of Shell Oil.  With respect to the choke points, the 3 most serious are the Suez Canal, the Hormuz Straits, which is separating Iran from Yemen— I am sorry—Oman and Iran, and the Straits of Malacca, which is between Malaysia and Indonesia. These choke points carry enormous amounts of crude oil.   Matt Simmons, who passed away this past summer, used to speak of the Straits of Hormuz as, we live one day away from an oil Pearl Harbor [because the] Straits of Hormuz transport between 20% and 25% of daily consumption of global oil, and were they to be shut in, the world would be in a panic overnight if it were not possible to pass oil….The immediate impact on crude oil prices would … double or even triple the current crude oil price… it is such a critical pinch point and so much of that oil goes both east and west that it is not only energy security for the United States, it is energy security for the world’s second largest economy, China. And so the consequence would be dramatic.

The decline in the Gulf of Mexico I believe will be sharper and deeper than what anyone is currently projecting because the decline rate from existing wells, particularly deep water, fall off naturally very quickly, and the reason we had 34 rigs drilling in the Gulf of Mexico was not so much to increase the rate of production but to sustain the rate of production in the Gulf of Mexico. While there may have been some increase, absent drilling, we have made a horrible error as a country. The rest of the world did not discontinue offshore drilling.

Every consumer in this country uses crude oil in one way or another, and we do face the political uncertainties as evidenced most recently by Egypt and the threat to the Suez Canal and the Sumed pipeline. I am reminded that while this Administration has strangled oil production in the Gulf of Mexico for an unpredictable period, China, according to Professor Wenren Jang at the University of Alberta, is going in exactly the opposite direction.

China is planning to build 1.5 million kilometers of highways over the coming decade, and in order to assure a steady crude oil supply to China has loaned the following countries the following amounts of money:

  • Brazil, $10 billion
  • Kazakhstan, $10 billion
  • Venezuela, $20 billion
  • Ghana, $16 billion
  • Democratic Republican of Congo, $7 billion
  • Nigeria, $23 billion
  • Russia, $25 billion

China expects crude oil demand of 18 million barrels a day by the end of the decade. They are currently at about nine. Meanwhile, in the United States, today, tomorrow, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, we will consume about 20 million barrels a day, producing only seven domestically.

As long as the United States produces so limited amount of its own supply, we are vulnerable to whatever happens anywhere in the world. The United States forfeited its energy security over a sustained period of decades by prohibiting drilling on 85% of the Outer Continental Shelf, by prohibiting drilling on 97% of federal land, by standing the way of many infrastructure developments that would otherwise enable enhanced oil production in many parts of old oil fields. While people focus on transportation and the use of oil, we should not forget that within that 20-million-barrel-per-day demand, there is an entire petrochemical industry that needs crude oil as feedstock. That petrochemical industry produces the fiber which we use for clothing and other industrial purposes. It produces the pharmaceuticals, the lubricants, the food that we use to eat in this country. We have many more needs for oil than simply transportation purposes. While it is great to have a million new vehicles hybrids and battery cars on the roads by 2015, the 250 million automobiles and tens of millions of trucks, tractors, planes, boats, buses and other transportation vehicles depend upon a daily supply of crude oil.

BOBBY RUSH, ILLINOIS.  Energy supply and demand are key components to the American economy. They all affect all dimensions of our lives from driving to work, feeding our families to heating and cooling our homes. Notwithstanding energy’s fundamental important, the markets and exchanges on which are energy sources are traded remains extremely volatile and unpredictable. I think I can safely say that a consistent theme we will be hearing throughout this morning is that it is in America’s best strategic and economic interests to become less and less dependent on foreign oil, gas and other fossil fuels in as short a time frame as possible.

The Obama Administration understands this perfectly well, which is why it has set the ambitious goals of, one, putting 1 million electric automobiles on America’s streets and highways and into America’s families’ garages and parking lots by 2012; 2), unleashing a clean energy revolution to double the supply of renewable energy by the end of 2012; 3), doubling America’s exports by the end of 2015; and 4), dramatically decreasing American dependence on traditional fossil fuels so that by 2035 approximately 80% of America’s electricity is sourced by renewables.

Our dependency as individuals, families and businesses on imported energy sources is still far too great.

Today’s hearing should not be used, Mr. Chairman, to criticize EPA’s permitting process to build refineries or to sanction more domestic drilling. In case you have forgotten, let me remind you that EPA’s mission, as it name indicates, is to protect the American environment and the country that we inherit. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you

John Shimkus, Illinois.  I am an Obama skeptic when it comes to energy security. We have the resources available in North American energy supplies to be energy independent when we talk about North American.

HENRY A. WAXMAN, CALIFORNIA. The recent events in Egypt have once again exposed our dependence on foreign oil. Although Egypt isn’t a major producer of oil, the Suez Canal and the Suez-Mediterranean pipeline are crucial shipping links for global oil and gas markets. Instability there has increased oil prices around the world. For decades, the Energy Information Administration projected that U.S. oil consumption would grow year after year, and it did. By 2005, nearly 60% of U.S. fuels were imported. And the future looked bleak: higher oil consumption and more imports far into the future. The solution offered by the Bush Administration was to drill out way out of the problem, and I know we are going to hear this proposed solution again today. We will hear that increased domestic production is the answer. But more U.S. production is never going to be enough to appreciably reduce global oil prices or U.S. imports of foreign oil. We use 25% of the world’s oil but we only have 2% of the world’s oil reserves. So we can double it and we could even triple it, and it is simply not going to affect global oil prices much. The key to making progress is to focus on how much oil we use. Reducing our share of global oil consumption from 25% can have a real impact both on global oil prices and on imports.

As the second chart shows, by requiring improvements in how efficiently we use oil, the Administration has reversed a dangerous trend. The Administration wants to build on this success with stronger standards after model year 2016. And it is also working on standards for trucks and other commercial vehicles. These standards could save even more money at the pump while further reducing our dependence on foreign oil. Incredibly, the new Republican majority in Congress is opposed to these efforts. Chairman Upton and Senator Inhofe have proposed legislation to block EPA from setting new motor vehicle standards.

We need to use oil more efficiently so that we can import less of it, but the Upton-Inhofe bill would take us in exactly the wrong direction. It would block one policy that has proven that it works. The Upton-Inhofe bill is great for oil companies like Koch Industries, which spent millions of dollars electing Republicans. But it is a public health, economic and national security disaster for all the rest of us.

RICHARD G. NEWELL, PH.D., Administrator, Energy Information Administration.  Given Egypt’s small role in the global supply-demand balance for both oil and natural gas, the primary issue for global energy markets is driven by two other concerns. First, there is the concern that unrest could spread to countries with a larger role in supplying world oil markets. There is no doubt that the Middle East and North Africa are a major source of oil supply and other petroleum liquids, supplying about 28% of global liquids consumption.

The EIA has looked at a concern more directly related to Egypt involving the possibility of disruption of the Suez Canal or Sumed pipeline, which together carry about 3 million barrels a day of oil. The canal and pipeline continue to operate normally, and for reasons outlined in my written testimony, we would expect the direct effect of any closures to be manageable, although there would be undoubtedly an adjustment period.

Mr. POMPEO. Dr. Newell, in your analysis, there is the theory of peak oil.

Mr. NEWELL. We are projecting an increase in both U.S. domestic production of crude oil in the next 25 years as well as a significant increase internationally in crude oil, so we at this point in time, for the next 25 years, which is how far our projection goes out, we don’t see a peaking of world oil production capacity.

Gary Mar, Minister- Counselor, government of Alberta, Canada.  For the past 5 years, Canada has and continues to be the largest supplier of imported oil to the United States. In 2009, Canada supplied 23% of America’s oil imports, more than double the imports that come from Saudi Arabia and more than four times the imported oil that comes from Iraq. The lion’s share of Canada’s exports comes from Alberta’s oil sands. If you look at Alberta in isolation, we provide 17% of your total crude oil imports, and that is in volume 1.5 million barrels of oil per day that comes to you from Alberta in a transportation system that doesn’t move called a pipeline.

I should talk about the overall size of the resource of the oil that is in place in Alberta in the oil sands. It is roughly 1.7 trillion barrels of oil of which with current technology and prices about 10% of it is accessible, so roughly 170 billion barrels. So there is certainly ample room to move up our production to the 3.3 million barrels a day. It is a very realistic target.  In terms of the policies of Alberta, there are policies in place to recognize that the upfront costs of developing oil sands are very, very high. There are no exploratory costs to speak of really because we know exactly where it is, but there are enormous costs upfront in terms of capital investment that is required by private sector investment to do that. The government policy permits those who will invest to pay royalties only after payout from their original investment and so that is really the only incentive that is the strongest incentive that the government puts in place to ensure that there is purchases of land leases to develop oil sands.

Chris Busch, Policy and Program Director for the Apollo Alliance. We are a national alliance of labor, business, environmental, and community groups working towards clean energy solutions that also grow the economy and improve American competitiveness.

Every president since Nixon has sought to lessen our dependency on imported oil. Though we have started to turn the corner thanks to policies like the 2010 clean car standards, America still faces this challenge. Nearly 60% of U.S. demand is now met by imported oil. The United States accounts for 22% of the world’s oil consumption but we only possess 1.4% of the world’s proven reserves. Those numbers are slightly different than Mr. Waxman’s but those are according to the EIA’s 2009 data. These numbers tell a simple truth. No matter how deep we will, domestic oil supplies cannot solve this problem. We must put in place policies to address the demand side of the problem.

We have experienced six significant price shocks in the past 40 years. We all remember oil nearing $150 per barrel in 2008. Oil price shocks have been a reality of world oil markets, and surging demand from China and other countries suggests they will become more common, not less.

CHRIS JOHN,  Chairman of Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association. I represent all of the companies that explore, produce, market, transfer from the ground to the tank,  and the fact of the matter is, when we look at energy policy in this country, it cannot be an either/or. The fact of the matter is, we need all drops and all kinds of energy to make America more energy secure. But I think the real factor, the factor that we must keep in focus like a rifle shot as we debate some of these is the energy reality that we have in this country. I think it is very important not to deviate from it because we can talk about assumptions and we can talk about politics and we can look at it from a geographical standpoint. The fact of the matter is that you must be grounded in our conversations about the energy reality in this country, and that is what I would like to spend a little bit of my time on.

The fact of the matter is that 78%—the energy reality today, not tomorrow, not yesterday, but today is that 78% of our fuel needs, our energy needs is going to come from fossil fuels, 78% from fossil fuels. You will have 12% from nuclear, you will have 3% from hybrid, 1% from wind, a half a percent from solar and then it goes down from there. I think that is an important point as we discuss the future of energy policy in this country because even DOE says that 60% of our energy needs over the next 25 years is going to come from fossil fuels. There have been experts that obviously have said higher than that, and I believe it is closer to 80% for the next 50 years that fossil fuels are going to play a very important part in providing energy security for America.

With respect to the choke points, the 3 most serious are the Suez Canal, the Hormuz Straits, which is separating Iran from Oman and Iran, and the Straits of Malacca, which is between Malaysia and Indonesia. These choke points carry enormous amounts of crude oil.   Matt Simmons, who passed away this past summer, used to speak of the Straits of Hormuz as, we live one day away from an oil Pearl Harbor. In other words, those Straits of Hormuz transport between 20 and 25% of daily consumption of global oil, and were they to be shut in, the world would be in a panic overnight if it were not possible to pass oil.

The production curve of what is in the Gulf and what can be produced in the Gulf shows somewhat of a decline. However, it is important to understand that you just don’t turn the switch on and off. In a deep water project where you have a billion-dollar piece of equipment in a floating drill ship from start to finish, by the time you actually lease the property until you explore, then produce, pipeline and it gets into the market is somewhere in the 2- to 5-year range. In fact, the deep water Macondo well, the lease sale of that piece of property was in 2008, so that was a 2-year span and they weren’t in production.

The bottom line is, we can’t afford to not improve the fuel economy standards of the vehicles which we drive. That is our number one weapon against the Middle East. That is where we are teaching them a lesson. That is President Kennedy telling Khrushchev we are putting a man on the moon in 10 years and bringing him back, you are not controlling outer space, we are using our technology to dominate you. That is our message to the Middle East. They have 70% of the oil reserves in the world, the Middle East. We cannot beat them at that game with only 3% of the oil reserves. It is irresponsible to talk about basically tying the hands of the EPA to improve our ability to make ourselves efficient to back out this oil from the Middle East, and next week’s vote if we have it will be a historical one.

There are 33 drill ships. There are 240 people per drill ship that work, full-time equivalent. If you multiply that out, that is about 38,000 people whose job is at risk today. Now, 6 drilling ships are gone, and those drill ships, as I mentioned earlier, a billion-dollar piece of equipment, you don’t just move them one day in an area of the world and move them back 6 months later. They are gone for 3 years to 5 years because that is the contractual obligations that they are insisting on having. Those drill ships are $400,000 a day, a day rate. That is how much they were getting. Some of the companies now negotiated a day rate below 100. How long can they stay? I think we are getting towards the end of that. I think that you see that we have got 27 drill ships that are idled right now kind of waiting to see, but at some point in time, two of which are already in the middle of negotiations, that are going to leave, and when they leave, it is 5 years, and it is about 2,000 jobs per drill ship when you multiply the factor of 4.1 to each job that is created.

Mr. Jay Inslee, Washington. I wanted to explore with Dr. Newell whether or not substantially increased opening of federal lands would have an impact on the price of fuel at the pump, and I want to read your agency’s evaluation of this issue. It is a study called Impact of Limitations on Access to Oil and Natural Gas Resources in the Federal Outer Continental Shelf. It is a study in 2009. Now, a lot of folks would think if we just open up the spigot off the Outer Continental Shelf and other places, problem solved on prices. I want to read what your agency concluded after looking at it. You concluded: ‘‘The average price of imported low-sulfur crude oil in 2030 in 2007 dollars is $1.34 per barrel higher and the average U.S. price of motor gasoline price is 3 cents per gallon higher than in the reference case.’’ Now, as I understand what you are saying, when you looked at this issue and really looked at the economics of this issue, your agency concluded that if we essentially removed all federal restrictions on Outer Continental Shelf drilling. In 2030, after everything had been exploited to the extent the human mind can consider, the price would be 3 cents different in 2030. Now, that is pretty stunning because a lot of people, particularly on the other side of the aisle, figure we will just solve this cost problem by just opening up the spigot everywhere in the United States including Yellowstone National Park and the Mall. But your conclusion seems to suggest that there is a negligible, almost infinitesimal difference of we do that in price. Now, my understanding would be the reason for your conclusion is essentially it is a world market for oil, and since we have such a small amount of the world market at 3% top of the world market, we are not to affect the cost very much no matter where we drill in the United States, Outer Continental Shelf, Arctic, you name it. Secondly, there is a phenomenon that every time we increase our drilling OPEC can decrease theirs to maintain the price that they desire because that is where the oil is in the world. Now, are those the primary reasons that you concluded there would be a negligible, if almost infinitesimal, difference of price or are there others that I have not alluded to?

Mr. NEWELL. I think you have captured some of the main factors that would come into play in analyzing that kind of question.  In the previous analyses that EIA has done, the magnitude of increased production that tends to be associated with some of these actions is measured in the hundreds of thousands of barrels per day, which is a significant magnitude, but in the global scheme of things, it tends to be significantly less than 1% of global oil supply and so therefore in terms of global impacts on price, it tends to be small.

Mr. Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts. Yesterday, this subcommittee held a hearing on Republican legislation that will bar EPA from doing anything further to reduce oil use from cars, trucks, planes, boats or any other source. The legislation might even nullify the progress that has already been made at the EPA in reducing demand for oil from cars and trucks and through the development of homegrown renewable fuels. The Republican bill could result in an increase in our oil dependence of more than 5 million barrels a day by the year 2030, more than we currently import from OPEC [yet] … here we are holding a hearing on the effect of Middle East unrest on the oil market as though the Republican legislation that will dramatically increase our dependence on Middle Eastern oil didn’t even exist. It reminds me a lot of when Monsignor O’Malley used to go up into the pulpit on Sunday and lecture to the congregation that on Wednesday in the church hall, Father Ganney will lecture on the evils of gambling; on Thursday night in the church hall, bingo. Well, yesterday we are lectured on the evils of the EPA. Today, bingo, Egypt, bingo, Iraq, Iran, Tunisia, bingo, bingo, bingo, bingo. So let me ask each of you. Let us go down the list and I would like a yes or no on whether or not you feel it is important for us to stop $162 billion a year going to OPEC, going to Middle Eastern countries that are paid for by American consumers at $90 a barrel so that we are not subsidizing religious fanaticism in Saudi Arabia, we are not subsidizing rockets being constructed in Iran that are then used by Hezbollah and Hamas against Israel and against our country.

Mrs. Lois Capps. California, where do have a strong labor movement, rejected the Koch Brothers’ attempt to remove all the clean air regulations that we have in California by voting down Proposition 23 in the last election.   We hear from the majority today that the way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil is to drill our way out of the problem. … I think we know in our country that that is not true by a long shot. We use so much oil in this country. I think it is actually too precious to waste on energy because of the other products that oil can offer us, lifesaving products. There is no way we could produce enough to meet our needs domestically. If we had adopted what many of us on this side on the dais and some on the other side as well had called for in the 1990s like efficiency standards for our vehicles, homes and appliances, we may not have found ourselves in the situation we are in today. Dr. Busch, the Republican Majority also claims that taking action to reduce carbon pollution would be too expensive, but that is not what you found when you looked at the demand side, and that is what I want to ask you about today. You and your colleagues examined the effects of California’s clean energy law, which will lead to the adoption of more-efficient vehicles and lower carbon fuels. California’s standards will reduce the amount of oil used by cars. Dr. Busch, what impact on oil demand in imports did California’s measures have?

Mr. Busch. Well, we actually built on the analysis of the California Air Resources Board, and so using their numbers, we found that AB 32 policies would lead to a reduction of 75 million barrels per year. About an 18% reduction is the forecasted reduction.

Mrs. Capps. And that is going to save California a little money? About how much?

Mr. Busch. At $114.50 per barrel, that is about $11 billion reduction in the import bill.

Mr. Pete Olson, Texas.   I want to talk about national security and the Middle East. I think you believe as I do that we have to develop all the oil and gas resources that God has given our country. That means the East Coast, the Gulf Coast, the West Coast, Alaska, the public lands, wherever it is, we need to develop that oil. We are very vulnerable geographically particularly with these Straits of Hormuz and with the Suez Canal where most of the oil that our country depends upon flows through, and I was in the Navy for 10 years, flew P-3s and did many, many patrols through the Straits of Hormuz, and it is a very, very, very narrow choke point, about 10, 15 miles wide at its widest, and when we flew through there, we had devices on our aircraft that we were being tracked by fire control radar from the Iranians, and I can guarantee you that they are doing that with the tankers that are coming through. I mean, if they want to cause big, big trouble for the world, take out a tanker right there in the middle of the straits and cut off the whole Persian Gulf to traffic. And so, my point here, we are depending right now—we have got two very unstable nations, Egypt with what is going on there internally and Iran with a leadership who doesn’t live on this planet.

FRED UPTON, Michigan, Chairman.

  • Oil and turmoil coexist in several regions, most significantly the Middle East. The unfolding events in Egypt, coming on the heels of similar unrest in Tunisia and other Middle Eastern and North African nations, is of great importance to us for a number of reasons, but today’s hearing will focus on the implications for the global oil market.
  • Events in that part of the world can disrupt oil production, or in the case of Egypt, jeopardize the transport of that oil to end users. The stronger the global demand for oil, and the smaller the cushion provided by spare capacity, the more likely any actual or threatened disruption of supplies will destabilize markets and elevate prices.
  • It’s simply a reality that the Middle East will remain volatile. Today it is Egypt, tomorrow it may be Iran or Saudi Arabia. Every few months will bring incidents of minor and sometimes major concern. How to deal with this instability is an ongoing challenge.

JOHN SULLIVAN, Oklahoma.  I am concerned with the political unrest in North Africa and the Middle East. From Friday January 28th to Monday January 31st the price of crude oil futures suddenly jumped 6% on the security fears of the Suez Canal which is considered a world oil chokepoint due to the volume of oil traveling through such a narrow route and the Sumed pipeline in Egypt. These events prove once again that our nation’s dependence on OPEC oil is a national and economic security issue. We import 5 million barrels of oil per day from OPEC but yet we continue to restrict domestic oil resources in our country, yet the simple fact is we live in a hydrocarbon economy and we will be one for long into the future. We have the resources to drill at home and the American people deserve an affordable national energy policy that takes advantage of the fact that we have more energy within our borders than our nation will ever need or want.

My concern today is that the U.S. does not have a backup for our demand. We are at the mercy of unstable countries like Yemen, and now, potentially Egypt. If their economies fail, or worse, fail and fall into the hands of terrorists, our energy supply fails as well. The US imports over half of what it consumes, so if Egypt collapses and terrorist forces take hold, they may very well decide to restrict access to the Suez Canal, for example. We are then talking about a severe disruption in the oil supply. Rising prices, which we are experiencing today due to the crisis in Egypt, will be the least of our concerns when the wrong people control the energy supply. Demand for oil and gas is not going away.

Posted in Chokepoints, Energy Policy, Threats to oil supply | Tagged | Leave a comment

Minerals: Natural gas from Ugo Bardi’s “Extracted”

Bardi, Ugo. 2014. Extracted: How the Quest for Mineral Wealth Is Plundering the Planet. Chelsea Green Publishing.

The average EROEI required to run industrial society as we know it is around 8 to 10. Prieto and Hall (2013) found the EROI of solar to be 2.4 in "Spain’s Photovoltaic Revolution. The Energy Return on Investment" and Ferroni and Hopkirk in 2016 to be NEGATIVE .85 in journal "Energy Policy" on May 8

Figure 1. The average EROEI required to run industrial society as we know it is around 8 to 10. Prieto and Hall (2013) found the EROI of solar to be 2.4 in “Spain’s Photovoltaic Revolution. The Energy Return on Investment” and Ferroni and Hopkirk in 2016 to be NEGATIVE .85 in journal “Energy Policy” on May 8

NATURAL GAS.  As figure 1 shows, the average EROEI required to run industrial society as we know it is around 8 to 10.   Shale gas and coal seam gas are both at, or below, that level if their full costs are accounted for, as are shale oil and tar sands.  Thus fracking, in energy terms, will not provide a source on which to develop sustainable global society.

The problem is that storing natural gas requires heavy, expensive pressurized vessels, and transporting it requires complex and expensive infrastructure. On land, gas is transported through a network of pipelines. To travel by sea, gas must undergo cryogenic liquefaction to obtain a sufficiently high-energy-density liquid (liquefied natural gas, or LNG) for transportation in special refrigerated tankers. These methods are far from being satisfactory: pipelines cannot cross oceans, and cryogenic transportation is expensive. So gas remains mainly a regional resource, and it makes little sense to speak of a global production peak for gas in the same way we would for oil. But local gas peaks are possible. Several have been observed, such as the 1971 peak in the United States. However, in recent times the development of technologies to extract gas locked in shale deposits (“shale gas”) has prompted a return to high levels of gas production, especially in the United States. Because of this achievement, some have been speaking of a new era of prosperity based on shale gas. Most likely that is an exaggeration.

Fracking, or more accurately, hydraulic fracturing, is the process of opening up fractures in tight subterranean geological formations by injecting fluid at high pressure. Fracking was initially developed by the oil and gas industry in the late 1940s and has since been widely applied.  Today over 50% of conventional oil and gas wells around the world are fracked.

Conventional oil and gas reservoirs are primarily sandstone or limestone with relatively high porosity and permeability. Fracking in this context is used to improve what are already fairly high flow rates. The process requires relatively small amounts of energy, fluid, and other materials. Non-conventional oil and gas resources, on the other hand, are contained within reservoirs such as shale beds or coal seams, which have much lower porosity and permeability. In both shale and coal seam fracking, the process injects fracturing fluid under high pressure to create the fractures and carry proppant material into the formation to keep the fractures open. In contrast to conventional reservoirs, the tightness of non-conventional reservoirs means that high volumes of fluid injection are required to be successful.

Unlike conventional oil and gas wells, shale beds and coal seams extend over wide areas. These reservoirs lack uniform oil and gas quality and content, so developers will try to access the “sweet spots” first. Typically the quality of the reservoir then deteriorates over time.

However, the greatest production challenge lies in the fact that shale and coal seam gas wells exhibit a “shooting star” production profile. Once fracking has been carried out, production rises rapidly to a peak, but it then declines rapidly, too, often by 80 to 95% over the first three years, as the oil or gas around the fractured area is exhausted. As a result the countryside has to be peppered with wells to maintain the production required to provide a return on investment, often several thousand wells in a single shale play.

 

Posted in EROEI Energy Returned on Energy Invested, Oil & Gas Fracked | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Big Fight: 21 top scientists show why Jacobson and Delucchi’s renewable scheme is a delusional fantasy

[ Seldom have I seen such a vitriolic fight among scientists.  As you’ll see below, I think all of them miss the main problems with trying to create a 100% renewable energy system, though I can only summarize and leave a great deal out, though you can see the details in my book “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer.

Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author of Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts: Practical Prepping, KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity , XX2 report ]

Many authors have been writing for years about why Jacobson and Delucchi’s (J & D) plans for a 100% low-cost renewable energy is a cloud cuckoo-land fantasy (references below).  But never so many, so loudly, and in such a prestigious journal (Clack 2017).

The 21 authors of the PNAS article felt compelled to write this because J & D’s irresponsible fairy tales are starting to influence actual policy and waste money.  If cities and states set renewable goals of 100% and try to achieve them with the J & D plan, their spending will be wasted because the J & D plan leaves out biofuels, grid-scale battery storage, nuclear, and coal energy with CCS.

The most important problems with achieving a 100% renewable system are not even mentioned (Friedemann 2015c).

Renewable contraptions cannot outlast finite fossil fuels, because they are utterly dependent on fossil fuels from birth to death to mine, crush, and smelt the ore, deliver the ore to a blast furnace, fabricate 8,000 wind turbine parts at hundreds of manufacturing plants all over the world, and deliver the parts to the assembly plant.  For each turbine, dozens of trucks are needed to prepare the wind turbine site so that dozens of cement trucks can pour tons of concrete and steel rebar for the platform, deliver pieces of the huge parts of the turbine, and diesel powered cranes to lift the parts hundreds of feet into the air.

In their 2011 paper, the J & D 100% renewable system would be accomplished with 3.8 million 5-MW wind turbines (50% of power), 49,000 solar thermal plants (20%), 40,000 solar PV plants (14%), 1.7 billion rooftop PV systems (6%), 5350 geothermal plants (4%), 900 hydroelectric power plants (4%), and marine hydrokinetic devices (2%).   Their 2015 paper has somewhat different but equally unrealistic numbers.

It is questionable whether there’s enough material on earth to build all these contraptions and continue to do so every 20 years (wind) to 30 years (solar).  Fossil fuels will grow more and more scarce, which means cement, steel, rare (earth) metals, and so on will decline as well.  Keep in mind that a 2 MW turbine uses 1,671 tons of material: 1300 tons concrete, 295 tons steel, 48 tons iron, 24 tons fiberglass, 4 tons copper, .4 tons neodymium, .065 tons dysprosium (Guezuraga 2012, USGS 2011).  The enormous demand for materials would likely drive prices up, and the use of recycled metals cannot be assumed, since downcycling degrades steel, perhaps to less strength than required.

The PNAS authors propose grid-scale batteries, but the only kind of battery for which there are enough materials on earth are Sodium-sulfur NaS batteries (Barnhart 2013).  To store just one day of U.S. electricity generation (and at least 6 to 8 weeks would be needed to cope with the seasonal nature of wind and solar), you would need a 923 square mile, 450 million ton, $40.77 trillion dollar NaS battery that needs replacement every 15 years (DOE/EPRI 2013).  Lead-acid: $8.3 trillion, 271.5 square miles, 15.8 million tons.  Li-ion $11.9 trillion, 345 square miles, 74 million tons.

There are dozens of reasons why wind power will not outlast fossil fuels (Friedemann 2015b), including the scale required, the need to increase installation rates 37-fold in 13 years (Radford 2016), population increasing faster than wind turbines to provide for their needs can be built, wind is seasonal – very little in the entire U.S. in the summer, no commercial wind year round in the South East, a national grid, no commercial energy storage at utility scale in sight, plus a financial crisis or war will likely break the supply chains as companies go out of business.

Okay, drum roll.  The biggest problem is that electricity does not matter. This is a liquid transportation fuels crisis. Trucks can’t run on electricity ( http://energyskeptic.com/category/fastcrash/electric-trucks-impossible/  ).

The Achilles heel of civilization is our dependency on trucks that run on diesel because it is so energy dense. This is why diesel engines are far more powerful than steam, gasoline, electric, battery-driven or any other motive power on earth (Smil 2010).  Billions of trucks and equipment worth trillions of dollars are required to keep the supply chains going over tens of millions of miles of roads, rail, and waterways that every person and business on earth depends on.  Equally if not more important are off-road mining, agriculture, construction, logging, and other trucks.  They not only need to travel on rough ground, but meanwhile push, lift, dig and perform other tasks far from the electric grid or non-oil distribution system.

Trucks must eventually be electrified, because biomass doesn’t scale up and has negative or break-even energy return, coal and natural gas are finite, and hydrogen /hydrogen fuel cells are dependent on a non-existent distribution system and far from commercial. In my book, I show why trucks can’t run on electricity, as well as why a 100% renewable grid is impossible. 

The authors briefly point out that one way to counter wind and solar intermittency is an energy source that can be dispatched when needed.  But they neglected to mention that natural gas plays most of this role now.  But natural gas is finite, and has equally important uses of making fertilizer, feedstock and energy source to make hundreds of millions of chemicals, heating homes and buildings, and so on.  All of these roles will have to be taken on by biomass after fossils are gone, yet another reason why biomass doesn’t scale up.

J & D propose a month of hydrogen storage to power transportation.  But hydrogen boils off within a week since it is the smallest element and can escape through atomic scale imperfections. It is not an energy source, it’s an energy sink from start to finish.  First it takes a tremendous amount of energy to split hydrogen from oxygen.  That’s why 96% of hydrogen comes from finite natural gas.  And a tremendous amount more energy to compress or liquefy it to -423 F and keep it chilled.  It is so destructive of metal that expensive alloys are needed for the steel pipelines and storage containers, making a distribution system too expensive.  A $1.3 million dollar hydrogen fuel cell truck would require a very heavy and inefficient fuel cell with an overall efficiency of just 24.7%: 84% NG upstream and liquefaction * 67% H2 on-board reforming * 54% fuel cell efficiency * 84% electric motor and drivetrain efficiency * 97% aero & rolling resistance efficiency, and even less than that without an expensive 25 kWh li-ion battery to capture regenerative braking (DOE 2011, Friedemann 2016). And far less than 24.7% efficient if the hydrogen were made from water with electrolysis.

J & D propose thermal energy storage in the ground.  The only renewable that has storage are concentrated solar plants, but CSP plants provide just 0.06% of U.S. energy because each plant costs about a billion dollars each (and less than a quarter of them have storge).  Scaled up, CSP would need to use stone, which is much cheaper than molten salt. A 100 MW facility would need 5.1 million tons of rock taking up 2 million cubic meters (Welle 2010). Since stone is a poor heat conductor, the thick insulating walls required might make this unaffordable (IEA 2011b). J & D never mention insulating walls, let alone the energy and cost of building them.  The PNAS paper also says that phase-change material energy storage is far from commercial and still has serious problems to solve such as poor thermal conductivity, corrosion, material degradation, thermal stress durability, and cost-effective mass production methods.

The PNAS authors suggest bioenergy, but this is not feasible. The billions of diesel engines in trucks and equipment can’t burn ethanol, diesohol, or even gasoline.  Most engine warranties don’t allow biodiesel, or up to 20% at most.  Biofuels (and industrial agriculture) destroy topsoil, which in the past was the main or a major reason why all past civilizations failed.  Industrial farming also depletes aquifers that won’t be recharged until after the next ice age.   As I mentioned earlier, biomass simply doesn’t scale up.  Burning it is far more energy efficient than the dozens of steps needed to make biofuels, each step of which takes energy (into a negative energy return if the boundaries are wide). Yet even if we burned every plant plus and their roots in America, the energy produced would be less than the fossil fuel energy consumed that year, and we’d all have to pretend we liked living on Mars for many years after our little experiment. Friedemann (2015a) has many other examples of the scaling up issues, ecological, energy, and other issues with biofuels.

Nuclear is not an option due to peak uranium, and the findings of the National Academy of Sciences about lessons learned from Fukushima. It’s also too expensive, with 37 plants likely to shut down (Cooper 2013).  And leaving thousands of sites with nuclear waste lasting hundreds of thousands of years for our descendants to deal with after fossil fuels are gone in an industrially poisoned world is simply the most evil of all the horrible things we’re doing to the planet (Alley 2013).  And since trucks can’t run on electricity, there’s no point in building them.

The book “Our renewable future” (Heinberg & Fridley 2016) was written to show those who believe in Jacobson and Delucchi’s fairy tales how difficult, if not impossible it would be to make this happen. Though I fear many of their major points were probably ignored or forgotten, with readers deciding that 100% renewables were possible, even if difficult, since the book was too gentle and abstract. For example, they mention that there are no ways to make cement and steel with electricity, because these industries depend on huge blast furnaces that run for 4 to 10 years non-stop because any interruption would cause the brick lining to cool down and damage it.  It is not likely a 100% wind and solar electricity system to be up 24 x 7 x 365.  That’s a real  showstopper.  But the average person believes in infinite human ingenuity assumes that an electric solution can be found, even if it has to overcome the laws of physics…

J & D include wave and tidal devices, but these are far from being commercial and unlikely to ever be due to salt corrosion, storm waves, and dozens of other problems (NRC 2013).

I’m not as concerned about the incorrect J & D calculations for GHG emissions, because we are at or near peak oil and coal, and natural gas.  Many scientists have published peer-reviewed papers that based on realistic reserves of fossil fuels, rather than the unlimited amounts of fossils the IPCC assumes, and there is a consensus that the worst case scenario likely to be reached is RPC 4.5 (Brecha 2008, Capellan-Perez 2016, Chiari 2011, Dale 2012, Doose 2004, Hook 2010, Hook 2013, and 10+ more).

The PNAS authors mention of coal with carbon capture and storage (CCS) won’t work. First, coal is finite (and probably peaking globally now or soon), and carbon capture and storage technology so far from being commercial, and uses up 30 to 40% of the energy contained in the coal, that it’s unlikely to be used when blackouts start to happen more and more often (http://energyskeptic.com/category/energy/coal/carbonstorage/).

We’re running out of time.  Conventional oil peaked in 2005. That’s where 90% of our oil comes from at a Niagra Falls rate.  Tar sands and other non-conventional oil simply can’t be produced at such a high rate.  So it doesn’t matter how much there is, Niagra Falls will slow to a trickle, far less than what we use today.  And since energy is the basis of growth, not money, it is questionable if our credit/debit system can survive, since once peak oil is acknowledged, creditors will know they can’t be repaid.

Also, oil is the master resource that makes all other resources available. We don’t have enough time to  replace billions of diesel engines with something else.  There is nothing else. And 12 years after peak the public is still buying gas guzzlers.

The main PNAS criticisms of J & D are:

  1. J & D used invalid modeling tools, had modeling errors, inappropriate methods, and implausible and inadequate assumptions.
  2. Claimed that a 100% renewable system would be low cost and exceed current electric-utility reliability standards
  3. Their portfolio of options of wind, water, and solar, with no coal, natural gas, bioenergy, or nuclear power is not broad enough.
  4. Wind and solar are variable, so energy storage is essential. But “there are no electric storage systems available today that can affordably and dependably store the vast amounts of energy needed over weeks to reliably satisfy demand using expanded wind and solar power generation alone”.
  5. Parts of the economy are difficult to electrify: airplanes, cement manufacture, etc.
  6. Their solutions include technologies that have not been commercially proven at scale, can provide adequate and reliable energy; be built rapidly enough, and not violate environmental regulations.
  7. Their papers include innovations that don’t exist: hydrogen-powered airplanes and steel, multi-week energy storage systems with a capacity twice the U.S. generating and storage capacity today, underground thermal energy storage (UTES) systems in nearly every community to provide services for every home, business, office building, hospital, school, and factory, yet doesn’t account for the pipes and distribution lines.
  8. They vastly underestimate the cost and environmental impact of expanding hydroelectric dams, scaling up hydrogen production, or a national grid.
  9. J & D assume we can store 1 month of U.S. electricity in hydrogen by using twice as much energy-generating capacity as we have now.
  10. J&D assume that 63% of industries are flexible and can reschedule all energy needs with an 8 hour window of time. My comment: That’s simply not true, many industries can’t be rapidly curtailed, and there are many products made with continuous processes around the clock (refineries, chemical plants, blast furnaces, etc).
  11. J & D assume the capital cost of building all of this renewable energy at 30 to 50% of what most other studies assume.
  12. Hydropower is not a dependable source for always available (dispatchable) power, due to droughts and maintaining a large reservoir to provide water to cities, farms, and fish. Plus there are very few places left to put (pumped) hydropower dams physically and won’t cause ecological harm.
  13. Underground Thermal Energy Storage (UTES) is a central requirement of their vision because energy storage is essential once natural gas is gone. But UTES is far from commercial with just two small-scale demonstration projects for about 300 homes. But only to heat them, yet J & D propose to provide most air-conditioning and half of refrigeration with this (and ice-based systems).  On top of that UTES requires energy for heat pumps but they don’t model this energy requirement.  They don’t provide any reliable figures for how much this would cost, but estimate $37 to $900 billion.  Yet the Drake Landing system costs if scaled up would cost at least $1.8 trillion dollars and leaves out the heating and cooling systems of homes and businesses in new homes.  Retrofits are very costly.  Finally the performance and cost depends on the thermal properties of the soil and total absence of groundwater (which removes the stored heat).   

Other reasons listed in the PNAS paper:

  • Their proposal would require 6% of the continental U.S. for wind turbines, and 100,000 square kilometers to install large-scale centralized solar PV and CSP system (an area the size of Kentucky).
  • 150,000 5 MW turbines would be built offshore
  • lack of electric power system modeling of transmission, reserve margins, and frequency response
  • the climate/weather model used for estimates of wind and solar energy production has not shown the ability to accurately simulate wind speeds or solar insolation at the scales needed to assure the technical reliability of an energy system relying so heavily on intermittent energy sources
  • their numbers in the supporting information of Jacobson (2015a) imply that maximum output from hydroelectric facilities cannot exceed 145.26 GW, which is 50% more than exists in the United States today, but figure 4B of shows hydroelectric output exceeding 1,300 GW
  • There are conflicting and exaggerated figures for the amount of flexible load
  • They don’t explain how we can provide an extreme excess of high power for short periods of time to industrial, commercial, and residences
  • Germany is the most committed of any nation to achieving an 80% renewable energy system and made a huge effort from 2007-2014, which J & D propose we can do 14 times faster than the U.S. average for 55 years and 6 times the peak rate
  • The need of AC grids to cope with power flows and need for a constant frequency. It’s questionable whether the radical changes to grid architecture required by J & D is feasible, and they don’t even attempt to model or analyze transmission capacity , power flow, transmission constraints, operating reserves, logistics, frequency regulation, or operation reliability.
  • They assume perfect predictions of electricity demand and variable wind and solar so they don’t bother to calculate what the reserve requirements would be if their crystal ball isn’t always right, let alone how a drastically expanded grid with a new architecture could cope

The most devastating part of the 21-scientist PNAS critique is in the technical supplement that finds errors line by line (here).

The Jacobson and Delucchi rebuttals of the PNAS article are here and here.

 

Other articles that critique Jacobson and Delucchi:

Best articles about the PNAS paper

References

Posted in ! PEAK EVERYTHING, Alternative Energy, Electric Grid, Electric trucks impossible, Electricity, Infrastructure | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

An invasive green monster that can double in 2 days and impossible to control threatens 20 states

 

Mike Turner sprayed herbicide recently on the weed Salvinia molesta on Caddo Lake near Uncertain, Tex. The weed suffocates all life beneath it. The furry green invader from South America is threatening to smother the labyrinthine waterway, the largest natural lake in the South, covering about 35,000 acres and straddling Texas and Louisiana. Blumenthal, R. July 30, 2007. In East Texas, Residents Take On a Lake-Eating Monster. New York Times. Photo credit: Michael Stravato.

Mike Turner sprayed herbicide recently on the weed Salvinia molesta on Caddo Lake near Uncertain, Tex. The weed suffocates all life beneath it. The furry green invader from South America is threatening to smother the labyrinthine waterway, the largest natural lake in the South, covering about 35,000 acres and straddling Texas and Louisiana. Blumenthal, R. July 30, 2007. In East Texas, Residents Take On a Lake-Eating Monster. New York Times. Photo credit: Michael Stravato.

 

[ The 2011 House of Representatives hearing below is a discussion of how to control salvinia.

We spend about $135 billion on invasive species a year – what will happen when the fossil energy to remove them is no longer available?  It’s likely the carrying capacity of vast regions of the country will be lowered as irrigation canals fill up with giant salvinia and other invasive water plants, fishing in lakes impossible as oxygen levels plummet and kill fish, as well as becoming unnavigable from thick mats of salvinia and other invasive water plants.  Salvinia also provides great habitat for disease-bearing mosquitoes, further lowering carrying capacity.

A quick search of the internet turned up these as some of the most invasive plants and animals: Asian Carp, Asian citrus psyllid, Asian Long-horned beetle, Asian-tiger mosquito, Burmese Python, Canada geese, Cane toad, Cotton Whitefly, Cownose Ray, Emerald ash borer, Eurasian watermilfoil,  Hemlock wooly adelgid, Kudzu, Lionfish, Mountain pine beetles, multiflora rose, Nile perch, Nutria, privet, Rabbits, Rats, Snakehead fish, spiny waterflea, starlings, Sudden oak death, Tamarisk (salt cedar), Tumbleweed, vine mealybugs, Zebra mussels.

For all of the United States 1,230 invasive PLANT species go here, and www.invasive.org has 2,892 species listed

Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts:  KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity]

Summary: why you should be afraid of Giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta):

  1. The United States Geological Survey calls Salvinia molesta one of the world’s most noxious aquatic weeds, with an ability to double in size every two to four days and cover 40 square miles within three months, suffocating all life beneath.
  2. Giant salvinia reduces the oxygen in the water, which increases water treatment requirements and costs. The 1-meter-mats clog waterways and block sunlight from reaching other aquatic plants below the surface, reducing the amount of oxygen in the water. As these plants die and sink to the bottom where decomposer organisms use up even more oxygen in the water. The mats also impede the natural exchange of gases between the water and the atmosphere, which can lead to stagnation of the water body. Ultimately, these processes will kill all plants, aquatic insects, and fish living below the mats. There is also evidence that salvinia mats cause acidification of lakes and ponds. If left untreated, giant salvinia can completely take over and destroy the ecological system of any freshwater body.
  3. Decreases floral and faunal diversity and impacts threatened and endangered species
  4. Increases mosquito breeding habitat for species that are known to transmit encephalitis, dengue fever, malaria, and rural filariasis or elephantiasis.
  5. Water management structures are damaged or rendered useless, water quality is decreased, it threatens property values, boating and commercial navigation is impeded, intakes for municipal drinking water or industrial facilities are clogged, and recreational uses such as fishing, waterfowl hunting, paddling, or swimming are stopped.  It can clog and burn up boat motors.
  6. They’re useless for biofuels because they are 95% water, leaving just 5% of dried out salvinia to use for cellulosic fuels. The economics of harvest are poor – you’re moving a lot of water weight onshore and then transporting it inland to a processing plant. Other countries that have tried to convert aquatic plants to biofuels have been unsuccessful.  It’s hard to even harvest them with mechanical harvesters because the mats are so huge.
  7. It can prevent navigation in slow-moving rivers (but not in fast flowing waterways). For example, the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea is huge, but very slow moving, and covered with salvinia. Whole villages were moved because the people couldn’t get into the river to fish.
  8. Florida water hyacinths pile up against bridges and take them out, it’s possible salvinia will do the same
  9. Hurricanes can spread salvinia widely to new areas
  10. In the United States, it is now found in at least 90 localities and is especially troublesome in southern states including Texas, North and South Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and west into Arizona and California. It is established in at least 11 states, and has the potential to devastate freshwater habitats in 20 states.
  11. Its range is increasing worldwide and is now causing significant problems in over 20 countries including Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Papua, New Guinea, the Ivory Republic, Ghana, Zambia, Kenya, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Madagascar, Columbia, Guyana, and several Caribbean countries (including Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad). This list increases yearly.
  12. Intakes for industrial water or municipal drinking water get clogged. Cross Lake now has giant salvinia in it, and that’s where the City of Shreveport gets their water from.
  13. Habitat is destroyed for air-breathing animals like otters, diving birds, turtles and frogs, which cannot penetrate the mat.
  14. Caddo Lake is one of only 27 wetlands in the United States recognized by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. The bald cypress forests of Caddo Lake, including trees as old as 400 years, host one of the highest breeding populations of wood ducks as well as prothonotary warblers and other neotropical birds. The forests and wetlands of Caddo Lake are critical for migratory bird species within the Central Flyway, including tens of thousands of migrating waterfowl that utilize Caddo Lake (and other nearby lakes) as resting and feeding grounds. Giant Salvinia forms dense floating mats that prevents growth of natural vegetation, a food source for waterfowl, and eliminate open water for waterfowl to rest on.

 

Summar: Why giant salvinia is so hard to kill:

  1. Can live up to a couple of weeks out of water
  2. It’s hard to kill with chemical sprays because of tiny, white hairs that capture herbicides just above the plant’s surface
  3. The best chemical spray is Galleon that kills by saturation and must remain in the water 60 to 90 days. But if it rains or floods, the chemical is diluted and doesn’t work. And it’s expensive — $1,850 per gallon.
  4. The rapid growth rate of salvinia allows it to easily outpace the application of chemicals.
  5. Using chemicals to kill salvinia’s thick 1-meter mats is like peeling an onion. You have to peel off layer after layer after layer after layer. It’s expensive and requires a lot of tenacity to go out and spray the same body of water every two weeks for the rest of your life.
  6. No one knows what effect massive amounts of herbicides will have on wildlife and fish, much less the humans that consume them…and may be as detrimental (or more so) than leaving the plants in place. Chemicals include: diquat, glyphosate, fluridone, carfentrazone-ethyl, penoxsulam and flumioxazin.
  7. Hard to kill with chemicals because of the ability of salvinia to re-grow from small buds or plants that are missed during chemical application, especially in backwater coves where overhanging vegetation can hide small plant populations or where plant growth is dense and underlying layers are protected from surface sprayed herbicides. These plant fragments can be smaller than 1/4 inch. It also hides under water hyacinths, alligatorweed, and hydrilla.
  8. Chemicals might aid salvinia, in that invasive species take advantage of disrupted ecosystems and have a much harder time if every niche is filled with a native species in a healthy ecosystem. Chemicals disrupt ecosystems and degrade habitat, priming the area for even more invasion.
  9. Though susceptible to saltwater, it takes too much to reach the level you need. Before you kill the salvinia, you’ll be killing the cypress trees and the bass and the freshwater fish.
  10. Fish and animals won’t consume giant salvinia because it has a metabolic inhibitor (thiamine inhibitor) that is toxic. So it can’t be used for cattle feed either.
  11. The Brazilian salvinia weevils that can kill/reduce salvinia die in cold weather
  12. Biological control with weevils can take several years and may not be particularly effective in the more northern extreme of salvinia’s distribution
  13. It’s possible that some or all of the chemicals will kill or reduce the weevil population
  14. Salvinia weevils are about the only weevil that doesn’t fly, so someone to hand move them to nearby bodies of water, which is very labor intensive.
  15. But weevils will try to swim to another pond, but in south Louisiana, they’re all consumed by fire ants, another invasive species—and none of the weevils made it more than about 20 feet from the pond.
  16. It spreads easily: it can hitchhike on boats to other lakes and waterways. All it takes is one alligator, one nutria or other wildlife, to move from an infested water body into an area where giant salvinia hasn’t yet taken root, and the spread continues.
  17. Draining or lowering lake levels to dry out salvinia doesn’t work because there are massive deposits of nutrient laden biomass on the lake bottom. When the lake was refilled this decomposing biomass provided a ready source of nutrients to perpetuate the growth of more plants. and scattered the salvinia throughout the water body making treatment even more difficult
  18. Even flamethrowers can’t kill it
  19. Even frozen in ice doesn’t kill it because the mats are so thick the salvinia in the middle survives
  20. It can’t be fenced off or booms deployed until winter comes to kill it off
  21. The only solution is physically harvest and remove the biomass and limit herbicide spraying to only those areas that are not accessible to harvesting.
  22. If Salvinia is pushed over a dam into a river, no harm is done if the river keeps flowing rapidly, but slow moving rivers and oxbows are at risk.
  23. It keeps getting fed by nutrient runoff from agriculture, which also has created 9600 square miles of dead zone in the Gulf
  24. Spraying can be incredibly difficult. Many areas are also inhabited by the iconic cypress tree, making it incredibly difficult for spray crews and their boats to access parts of these infested water bodies. When the tree loses its leaves each year, the debris further fuels the degradation of the aquatic habitat. While we advocate for moderate tree removal, this is both expensive and, at times, unpopular with the public.
  25. Giant salvinia cannot simply be eradicated. This deft plant is far too integrated into our environment to kill off
Giant salvinia (salvinia molesta) range in 2014. A total of 20 states are potential habitat.

Giant salvinia (salvinia molesta) range in 2014. A total of 20 states are potential habitat.

 

House 112-47. June 27, 2011. Giant Salvinia: How do we protect our ecosystems? U.S. House of Representatives.  88 pages.

Excerpts:

JOHN FLEMING, LOUISIANA. The purpose of today’s hearing is to obtain testimony on efforts to control and eradicate one of the worst invasive weeds in the world.  Giant salvinia is a free-floating aquatic fern, native to South America and introduced to the United States by the water garden industry. Since then, giant salvinia has proven to be an aggressive invader that can double in size in four to 10 days under favorable growing conditions, and its expanded mats of vegetation degrade fishing habitat, decrease water quality, create unsafe boating and fishing access and threaten property values. Caddo Lake was first infested with giant salvinia in 2006 and within two years the plant expanded its coverage on the lake from less than two acres to more than 1,000 acres. Efforts conducted to control giant salvinia thus far have yielded moderate success but have not completely eradicated the species from the lake.

Native to Brazil, giant salvinia, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has recently issued a publication that states invasives can kill a lake, and giant salvinia is the worst of the lot. Dr. Randy Westbrooks of the United States Geological Survey has noted that giant salvinia plants do not die quickly. In fact, they can live a few days or even a couple of weeks out of water.

There’s been a comprehensive effort to control and eradicate giant salvinia. These efforts have saved lakes from becoming giant dead zones. The fight to eradicate giant salvinia will be a long and arduous battle. Once an invasive species has become established, it is difficult, if not impossible, to completely remove it. There’s no silver bullet to kill giant salvinia.  We will continue to contain this invasive species by utilizing a number of different strategies, including simple things like making absolutely sure that once a boat is removed from the lake, the boat owner does not allow giant salvinia to hitchhike home.

LOUIE GOHMERT, TEXAS. I was first notified in 2006 that there was a tiny little innocuous- looking plant that had been found that year on Caddo Lake. Maybe if it was a giant blob or something, they would make a movie about it and everybody would get scared, but anything that doubles in size in less than a week is something to be concerned about. Giant salvinia has been discovered in 90 different locations affecting 41 freshwater drainage basins in 12 states. It doesn’t pose the threat apparently in the north because of the cold winters that it does to freshwater bodies here in the south of our country.  It was first discovered in Caddo Lake in May of 2006, and two years after that, it was discovered that this tiny, innocuous plant that started as basically nothing apparently had grown to over a thousand acres in just two years.

A single plant has been found to cover 40 square miles in three months. If left untreated, giant salvinia can completely take over and destroy the ecological system of any freshwater body.

It may live for weeks even when dry and out of the water on a boat trailer, and if it gets back in the water goes right back to reproducing and doubling in less than a week. For those who are concerned in our country with endangered species, it is important to note that 42 percent of all endangered species in our country are mainly threatened or most threatened by non-native invasive species.  I have watched numerous activities on Caddo Lake to remove it mechanically. Australia has tried to eradicate it biologically, chemicals, using weevils, and also with saltwater.

Robert Adley, Louisiana state senator, district 36.  Spraying has been beneficial but depends greatly on the weather for its effectiveness. Spraying requires a specific ratio of water to the sprayed chemical. After spraying, it takes time to establish and begin to kill the salvinia. If much wet weather is encountered after the spraying, the benefit of spraying is reduced due to change in ratio. The plant grows in three layers, and spraying kills only the top layer. Hence the amount of chemical needed is three times the initial amount used. Beetles in giant salvinia were transported to the lake in trucks and put it into the lake at specific points. The use of beetles has met with some success, but they’re greatly diminished during cold winters. Hence, the use of beetles is part of control, but not sufficient by themselves. It’s my understanding that beetles do a much more effective job in Brazil because they can survive the winters that are more moderate there.

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries tried lowering the lake to allow the plants to dry out and die, but that’s been of limited effectiveness.

Gary M. Hanson, Director, Red River Watershed Management Institute, Louisiana State University Shreveport.   I have served as a member of the Louisiana Hypoxia Subcommittee for a number of years.

This group has been tasked with evaluating the massive low oxygen or dead zone that occurs off the coasts of Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi each summer. The dead zone has been increasing over time and is considered a serious threat to our gulf fisheries. Early predictions for this year indicate that the dead zone will cover a record area of over 24,000 km2 or 9300 square miles. The excessive nutrients flowing from Mississippi River tributaries into the Gulf of Mexico each summer is the cause of this worsening situation. This year’s record floods will be a major contributing factor if the anticipated record dead zone forms. The nutrients stimulate excessive plant (phytoplankton) growth, which eventually die and as their biomass is oxidized most of the dissolve oxygen is removed from the water column.

Most experts agree that one key factor that is responsible for Giant Salvinia inundating and taking over fresh water aquatic habitats is the increase in nutrient levels in targeted water bodies (urban and agricultural runoff, leaking septic systems and land disturbance).

The COS has been working diligently to control Giant Salvinia and Hydrilla in Cross Lake, the only source of water for Shreveport and Barksdale Air Force Base. Already this year these plants have advanced to growth stages that are equivalent to late July or August because of the drought and unseasonably high temperatures.

The Lake Bistineau Task Force has also been working relentlessly to control the Giant Salvinia. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries have been trying a spectrum of approaches that includes, introducing Salvinia weevils, spraying large amounts of herbicides, removing cypress trees and draining the lake. The Task Force is considering modifying the dam so that the Giant Salvinia can be floated out of the lake into Loggy Bayou and ultimately the Red River.

There have been some short-term successes. The Task Force has spent about $2 million to date with $400,000 spent for herbicides in one year. Draining the lake leaves massive deposits of nutrient laden biomass on the lake bottom. As the lake is refilled this decomposing biomass provides a ready source of nutrients to perpetuate the growth of more plants. These various strategies and methods that are intended to manage and control Giant Salvinia all have drawbacks and disadvantages. It appears no one knows what affect the massive amounts of herbicides will have on the wildlife and fish, much less humans that consume them, In some cases, the strategies and methods already used may be considered to be as detrimental (or more so) as that of leaving the plants in place.

The draining of the lake should be a desperate last resort which is devastating to the lakes’ ecosystem and only provides temporary control of the spread of the plants. Therefore, the only solution is to use a coordinated holistic approach to physically harvest and remove the biomass in a cost effective manner and thereby limit herbicide spraying to only those areas that are not accessible to current and future harvesting methods.

I am convinced that the only strategy going forward that will work is to cut through the jurisdictional red tape that causes time delays and increases the expense to fight the menace, by bringing in the private sector to work through joint public-private ventures to first, harvest and transport the biomass and then second, find alternative uses for it as biofuel and/or soil amendment, etc. Transportation will be the key cost factor in the future that will affect all aspects of the strategy and methods to harvest and remove the biomass from the water and then move it to commercial users and areas that may use the biomass cost effectively.

The Salvinia could be moved over the top of the existing dam in high water conditions. Hence, much of the Salvinia was removed from the lake last year by flowing Salvinia over the top of the darn. However, in normal weather that will not work because the actual control of water levels is at the bottom of the dam

Additionally, the Wildlife and Fisheries expressed the need to remove some of the trees in the lake that are retarding the movement of the plant towards the channel and retarding the ability to spray more efficiently. To my knowledge, no trees have yet to be removed for various reasons.

When the Salvinia flows from the lake over the dam, it eventually makes its way into the Red River. As long as the Salvinia is flowing within the Red River, it will not establish itself. However, oxbows in the river are at risk. Hence, I withdrew the amendment to fund the restructuring of the dam until the matter can be resolved. As of now, Wildlife and Fisheries tells me they are allowing the lake to fill again and will continue with spraying. Additionally, it is my understanding that they are evaluating so-called skimming methods for the removal of Salvinia.

HENRY L. BURNS, LOUISIANA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.   Lake Bistineau has had a torrid history with invasive plants going back to the 1940s. Some of the types were water hyacinths, alligatorweed, hydrilla, water primrose, and now the giant. Salivinia can double in 3 to 14 days depending on conditions.  Lake Bistineau is the perfect nursery. This shallow, nutrient-rich inland water body spanning over 17,000 acres with over a million acres of watershed that feeds it from rich agricultural land, towns and cities, and industries discharging [waste] water. Half of Lake Bistineau is forested with cypress trees, providing a perfect nursery. What type of impact do we have, whether it’s economic, there’s recreational, hunting, fishing, water sports has been at best the last few years hit and miss. Congressman Fleming, it is the number one complaint that we get. In fact, it’s kind of dangerous sometimes to go to ball games because people’s hunting spot or fishing spot has been hit. And then, of course, there’s property values and broken dreams from people who have bought homes along these scenic river areas wanting to make their retirement there, to a place to bring their grandchildren out to fish.

The biggest question, the number one question I’m asked is when are we going to get our lake back? There are numerous unintended consequences that has taken place, and let me just share a couple of those with you. One, my son’s in-laws live on Lake Bistineau. They went out to have a day of fun and recreation. The motor clogged with all this invasive plant and it burned up the motor, so they struggled to get the boat back to the shoreline. Well, he thought he was in three or four feet of water because with the canopy there, you couldn’t really tell. He jumps out of the back of the boat to push it to the shore, breaks his leg. Now, that’s just from one family’s point of view. A story that’s even more outlining on what unintended consequences, and, Congressman Fleming, you have Shawn that works for you. Her sister Dotie Horton and Gary were out fishing on Bistineau. Their boat got hung up in a lot of aquatic invasive plant material, and he tried to push it in. When they pushed the boat, it finally jettisoned and clipped Dotie on the head, just barely, and Gary pulled his back muscle, so all the attention was given to her husband. Two days later, we were at LSU Medical Center and having lifesaving surgery because of the contusion and the hematoma that was caused from just that slide.

HON. ROBERT BARHAM, SECRETARY, LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES.

We have two congressmen representing two states here. It won’t be long and you’re going to have a whole panel of congressmen that’s going to include Mississippi, Alabama, and certainly Florida. It’s going to happen to us. I wish I could tell you we’re winning this battle. We’re not winning the battle. My budget is just under $8 million.

On the leaves, it’s got these little fibrous hair that protect it from chemical spray, and we just can’t get to it.

One of the effective tools we have is Galleon. It’s a saturation complex that must remain in the water column from 60 to 90 days. Now, we’re in a drought now and it will work in a drought, but if you get a rain event, it dilutes it and it doesn’t work, and Galleon cost over $1,850 a gallon, so you can see with my budget, I don’t have the money to use Galleon everywhere, and it’s not the silver bullet. I could go on and on, but this is a horrific problem, and all the help you can give us, we need it.

The green monster, as some call this plant, works 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In as few as three days, it is capable of doubling its biomass. And in as little as seven days, giant salvinia can double surface coverage of water bodies. It spreads incredibly quickly, devouring the resources and damaging the habitats within water bodies across our state. There is no easy answer to this dilemma. We can’t simply spray every area to kill it. We can only introduce a predator and hope for the best. We can’t fence it off or deploy booms and wait till the winter comes to kill it off. And no matter what efforts we take to prevent the spread, all it takes is one alligator, one nutria or other wildlife, to move from an infested water body into an area where giant salvinia hasn’t yet taken root, and the spread continues.

While this rootless aquatic fern flourishes during the summer months, it is incredibly hardy. Stress, lack of water and cold winters won’t necessarily kill off the plant. And in water bodies like the Barataria and Terrebonne basins, the temperature doesn’t drop nearly enough to produce a large scale kill-off of the plant.

Giant salvinia even comes armed with its own defense mechanism in the tiny, white hairs that capture herbicides just above the plant’s surface, seriously challenging the efficacy of any spray treatment.

For this year through May 31, the Department has utilized 21 spray crews and contractor air boat treatments to control 10,730 acres of giant salvinia. These herbicides provide us with the ability to kill off the plant during the spring and into the warm summer months when it would flourish. However, spraying can be incredibly difficult. Many areas, such as Lake Bistaneau, are also inhabited by the iconic cypress tree. The close proximity of trees can make it incredibly difficult for spray crews and their boats to access parts of these infested water bodies. And as the tree loses its leaves each year, that debris further fuels the degradation of the aquatic habitat. While we advocate for moderate tree removal, this is both expensive and, at times, unpopular with the public.

Spraying is also an incredibly expensive treatment method. For each gallon of Galleon, the herbicide our Department utilizes, it costs us $1,851 per gallon. With more than 25,000 acres infested, simply spraying would be an incredibly expensive and likely ineffective task. And the costs not included in the cost per gallon for herbicide are the manpower costs to the state, the cost of the equipment, the boats and the fuel.

Shallow cypress tree stands have provided refuge for the giant salvinia. Biologists and spray crews are unable to access the plants in shallow areas.

Because this rootless plant can completely cover the surface of water bodies, it severely limits public access for boating and fishing. It can be burden for property owners with waterfront access and it can be unsightly for residents who are used to enjoying the simple pleasure of viewing an uninfested lake.

While we don’t expect the actions of residents and those tourists who enjoy the lakes and rivers across Louisiana to be able to wholly prevent the spread of giant salvinia—a 10 inch rain event can do more damage in a short amount of time.

Let me be clear, giant salvinia cannot simply be eradicated. This deft plant is far too integrated into our environment to kill off. This will be an ongoing issue that will require local, state and federal dedication of funds to battle.

Michael J. Grodowitz, Ph.D., Research Entomologist, Engineer Research and Development Center, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Giant salvinia ( Salvinia molesta), a native of Brazil, is a floating fern introduced into the United States through the aquatic nursery trade. Since its introduction in the middle to late 1990’s, giant salvinia has dispersed naturally and by humans, and in less than 20 years can now be found as far west as the Hawaiian Islands, east into the peninsula of Florida, and north into Virginia. It is one of the world’s worst weeds and is causing manifold problems throughout the sub-tropical and tropical regions of the earth. Impacts are varied and include hindering navigation; disrupting water intake for municipal, agricultural and industrial purposes; degrading water quality; decreasing floral and faunal diversity;

It impacts threatened and endangered species; and increasing mosquito breeding habitat for species that are known to transmit encephalitis, dengue fever, malaria, and rural filariasis or elephantiasis.

Giant salvinia causes significant problems in over 20 other countries including Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Papua, New Guinea, the Ivory Republic, Ghana, Zambia, Kenya, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Madagascar, Columbia, Guyana, and several Caribbean countries (including Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad). This list increases yearly. In the United States, it is now found in at least 90 localities and is especially troublesome in southern states including Texas, North and South Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and west into Arizona, and California.

Giant salvinia reaches damaging infestation levels because of its tremendous growth rate. While it has been shown to only reproduce vegetatively (i.e., viable spores are not produced) this is more than enough to allow it to form surface mats up to 1 meter thick with plant numbers approaching 5000/m2 and biomass production of upwards of 100 tons/ha/year. Even greater production is possible under more favorable conditions. It has been known to double in number in one to eight days, depending on environmental conditions.

Numerous control strategies have been implemented for the management of salvinia. These include the use of traditional methods such as mechanical control (i.e. cutting or plant removal) and chemical applications. Mechanical control options are not particularly effective. They are expensive and often do not produce results needed for even partial management.

The use of chemical technologies can be effective but tend to produce only short-term control and can become expensive, especially when multiple treatments are needed over the course of a growing season. The use of alternative control methods such as biological control is highly promising and has been shown to produce long-term sustainable control. One agent has been approved for release in the United States, the salvinia weevil (Cyrtobagous salviniae), and is the method of choice for management in many overseas locations. While effective, biological control can take several years and there is some concern that it may not be particularly effective in the more northern extreme of salvinia’s distribution.

Other methods employed for salvinia control in the United States include flushing and drawdowns. Increasing water flow to ‘flush’ plants out of a waterbody or drainage can reduce biomass locally but may increase the distribution of salvinia downstream. Drawdowns (which serve to desiccate and kill the plant) do reduce biomass and can isolate the plant into smaller areas allowing easier access for mechanical removal or chemical treatment. However, when water levels increase remaining plants can be scattered throughout the water body making treatment even more difficult.

Currently, chemical control is the most widely used management strategy in the United States for the control of salvinia. A wide variety of products are employed mainly those containing diquat, glyphosate, and to a lesser extent fluridone and carfentrazone-ethyl. Active ingredients recently labeled for aquatic use including penoxsulam and flumioxazin, have been evaluated and are effective but have yet to be used on a wide scale. As indicated earlier, chemical applications can be highly effective, producing dramatic control 90%, in a manner of days or months. However, several factors often dictate the need for repeat applications and diligent post- treatment monitoring. One important factor is the rapid growth rate of salvinia which allows the plant to easily outpace the current application of chemicals.

Probably a more important factor is the ability of salvinia to re-grow from small buds or plants that are missed during chemical application, especially in backwater coves where overhanging vegetation can hide small plant populations or where plant growth is dense and underlying layers are protected from surface sprayed herbicides. These plant fragments can be smaller than 1/4 inch.

In addition, the plant can easily be transported by a variety of human mediated means. Thus, water bodies where salvinia has been eradicated can be easily re-infested. Therefore, the rapid growth rate of salvinia and its excellent dispersal ability necessitates the use of greater amounts of chemicals with increased labor costs for application which leads to a never- ending cycle of chemical use.

It is important to understand and address underlying causative factors allowing the formation of damaging infestations of giant salvinia. One of the more important causative factors is high nutrient levels that allow for increased and explosive plant growth. While it is difficult to minimize nutrient influx into water bodies, several strategies have been used with varying success. These include repairing leaking septic systems or positioning the septic fields away from the water body, implementation of regulations prohibiting fertilization of lawns right up to the water’s edge, and ensuring that sewage treatment plants use tertiary treatment processes to limit nitrogen and phosphorus loading. One potential method is the use of re- vegetation techniques to establish a diverse community of non-invasive native vegetation that will act as nutrient sinks to reduce nitrogen levels thereby limiting plant growth and reducing the chance of new infestations by salvinia as well as other invasive species including water hyacinth, hydrilla, and Eurasian watermilfoil, among others.

Randy Westbrooks, Invasive Species Prevention Specialist, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Department of the Interior.

Giant salvinia is a small, free-floating aquatic fern that is native to southeastern Brazil and northeastern Argentina. It is somewhat similar in appearance to our native duckweed (Lemna minor), but bigger. Its most notable feature is the rows of ‘‘hairs’’ with 4 branches that join in a cage-like tip. The tip traps air that helps the plant float on the water surface. Giant salvinia prefers tropical, sub-tropical, or warm temperatures and grows best in nutrient-rich, slow-moving waters such as ditches, canals, ponds, and lakes. It is a freshwater plant but can tolerate salinity levels in estuaries up to levels of about 10% that of seawater.

It is no exaggeration to say that Giant salvinia is one of the world’s worst weeds. It takes only a fragment of a single plant to multiply vegetatively and produce a thick floating mat of plants on the surface of standing water. The mats clog waterways and block sunlight from reaching other aquatic plants below the surface, reducing the amount of oxygen in the water. As these plants die and sink to the bottom, decomposer organisms use up even more oxygen in the water. The mats also impede the natural exchange of gases between the water and the atmosphere, which can lead to stagnation of the water body. Ultimately, these processes will kill all plants, aquatic insects, and fish living below the mats. The mats also provide ideal conditions for mosquitoes to breed, block access to boat docks and boat ramps, and interfere with navigation.

Despite the success of using weevils to control Giant salvinia in some regions, the Salvinia weevil is not a fully effective control method in every case because it is less tolerant of cold temperatures than Giant salvinia. For this reason, the Salvinia weevil was unsuccessful controlling Giant salvinia in Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory of Australia.

 

SALVINIA CAN’T BE USED FOR BIOFUELS

Dr. GRODOWITZ. Salvinia is 95% water.  The economics of harvest are poor – you’re moving a lot of weight just from the water. So biofuel production, salvinia is not a very good candidate. And other aquatic plants that have been attempted to use for biofuels haven’t worked.   You have to be careful when you try to promote the use of an invasive species because how are people going to use it and if you spread it around you’re going to have problems with it again. So I would rather see some kind of native plant that’s not as invasive as salvinia used for biofuels.

Dr. WESTBROOKS. The idea of getting it back to the land was an issue to begin with in Caddo Lake is when you have mechanical harvesters, they have a huge mass of this plant, how do you get it back to the land. So transportation of it back out to some place where you could actually go process it, unless you could process it there on the lake, if you had a processor on the lake where you’re removing the water and if you’ve just got the biomass of the cellulose left of the plant.

Dr. FLEMING. So if it’s desiccated, then obviously there’s very little fuel left then because the weight is—vast majority is water to begin with.

 

THE PROBLEMS WITH USING SALT WATER TO KILL SALVINIA

Dr. GRODOWITZ. We know for sure that they’re not very tolerant of saltwater. But it can handle  even  higher salt concentrations than recent research that was done in our Dallas facility. And putting saltwater into freshwater will create huge problems, so I’d stay away that if I could.

Mr. BARHAM. It will take too much salt to reach the level you need. Before you kill the salvinia, you’ll be killing the cypress trees and the bass and the freshwater fish.

Dr. SANDERS. If you added salt instead of saltwater, the lethal level of salt for giant salvinia is around six parts per thousand or six pounds of salt for every thousand pounds of water. Water weighs about nine pounds per gallon.  So it would take 750 18-wheeler loads of salt for Caddo lake and kill all your cypress trees.  Over time the water would desalinate if it is a flow-through lake and the saltwater would move downstream or dilute itself out with enough rainfall.

 

EVEN ICE WON’T KILL IT

Dr. WESTBROOKS. When you have a mat—it’s like insulation.   I’ve seen the plant in ice in North Carolina and, of course, that would die. But if you get a mat—plants in the middle survive.   

 

CHEMICALS HELP BUT CAN’T ERADICATE IT

Dr. GRODOWITZ. There are two really broad types of herbicides that are used for salvinia control. Some are contact herbicides. Some you spray on top of the plant. Kills the plant fairly quickly. There’s also contact herbicides that are systemic. 24D is one. It takes a little longer to kill. But what you know about Fluridone and Galleon, as you put it in the water, you have to maintain a certain concentration at a certain length of time to kill the plant, but it’s good because you’re killing plants over a larger area, but very, very expensive and hard to maintain concentrations up there. There are several new registrations, chemical registrations that have come out, penoxulam and flumioxazin, that the Corps of Engineers has been testing right now to look at their effectiveness, especially in combination with the weevils. So if you have weevils out there, you spray these herbicides, what kind of impacts on the weevils, can you maintain weevil populations, will the weevils come back afterwards.

Mr. GOHMERT. We’re dealing with freshwater, in some cases drinking water. What threats do those—whether it’s Galleon, Sonar, 24D, what do they pose to other vegetation or to the freshwater itself? Do we know of any risks.

Dr. GRODOWITZ. Any of those contact herbicides will kill any plant that gets sprayed, so you have to be very careful. Your application techniques are very important. We want to keep hydrilla and water hyacinths because they add some beauty to lakes.

Dr. WESTBROOKS. The EPA would say if there were concerns about drinking water.   I think most of the water you’re talking about is in rivers and lakes and ponds and stuff like that. There wouldn’t be drinking water concerns, I guess, unless you had a well beside the lake.

 

SALVINIA CAN ALSO INVADE SLOW-MOVING RIVERS

Dr. GRODOWITZ. [In response to navigation problems in flowing water]. It won’t accumulate in fast flowing water, but it will in slow-moving waters. For example, the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea is huge, but very slow moving and covered with salvinia. Whole villages were moved because the people couldn’t get into the river to fish.

Dr. WESTBROOKS. In Lake Victoria near Kenya four years ago the mats would get so thick trees would grow in them, so they became floating tree islands. In spring floods these floating mats could clog the backwaters of rivers and cause problems downstream.

Dr. GRODOWITZ. If you start having flooding events with salvinia in the waters, you’re going to have more damage because you’re looking at all this huge biomass in the water being pushed further downriver and cause even more damage.

Dr. WESTBROOKS. I don’t know about salvinia, but I know Florida water hyacinths would pile up against bridges and push the bridges out, so I don’t know if it’s comparable, but it probably could.

 

Mr. GOHMERT. One of the problems that is a result of having all these invasive species, the water hyacinths, hydrilla, and now giant salvinia, this stuff does die and  goes to the bottom. And in the old days a giant flood would sweep all that sediment out and you’d get fresh native growth again. I had one landowner say he bought his property because he liked how deep it was right there at that point in the lake, which means it’s normally more expensive property because it’s deeper, and it was 15 feet right there where he was located, and now it’s seven feet because of all the dead masses that go down and build up.  I’m just curious in either Texas or Louisiana, is there any money that’s been allocated and from the Federal Government toward dredging out some of this old plant mass?

Mr. BURNS. I’m not aware of any dredging for the reason of the plants. Only dredging I’m aware of is for navigational issues.  One of the problems you’ve got, I will say that you’re describing a situation that is striking fear in all of our hearts about losing bodies of water to this plant. One of the areas I’m most concerned with is the Atchafalaya Basin. It’s the largest swamp area in the country—shallow, trees, slow-moving waters.

We just opened the Morganza Spillway. Fortunately we’re not seeing a lot of salvinia at this point. Now, ultimately it’s going to get there because it’s coming out of the Red River. It’s coming down to the Atchafalaya, but that’s the place that it will take. We almost lost Henderson Lake due to water hyacinths. And so we’ve got some real threats from these types of plants in certain environments, these shallow, slow-moving, tree-strewn, nutrient-rich environments across the Deep South.

Dr. WESTBROOKS. To begin with, all we know is that it takes oxygen out of the water and is killing fish and stuff like that, but if this organic matter builds up like peat in the bottom of these lakes, you may have an entirely different problem. It’s going to change the  ecological characteristics of the lake.

 

Dearl Sanders, Edmiston Professor and Resident Coordinator: Bob R. Jones- Idlewild Research Station, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center

With the discovery of giant salvinia near Cameron, La., in 2000, a biological control program was initiated. It is interesting to note that the only effective eradication of giant salvinia in Louisiana was accomplished at the Cameron site by using salt water. The traditional drainage and pumping facilities were temporarily reversed, and the infested canals and associated ponds were filled with high salinity water from the nearby Calcasieu Navigation Channel. After the salvinia had died, the process was reversed, removing the salt water from the system with little, if any, negative effect on the native plant life.

Studies at the Golden Ranch site confirmed reports in the literature from Australia that under ideal growing conditions giant salvinia can approach an 80 percent daily coverage rate, or, stated another way, the giant salvinia can reach a point where it can double the area of water covered every 1.5 days

In southern Louisiana it takes a minimum of two full years for the population to reach a threshold where the weevils consume the salvinia faster than the salvinia can reproduce.

An extensive grass carp biological control trial was conducted at the Golden Ranch site in 2009. The trial confirmed that grass carp will not eat giant salvinia even when it is the only plant material available. This was not unexpected, since grass carp usually do not consume floating plants and giant salvinia contains a metabolic inhibitor (thiamine inhibitor) that if consumed in quantity is toxic to the fish (and other animals).

It should be noted that the salvinia weevil never eradicates giant salvinia. As in its native Brazil, it consumes salvinia to the point it can no longer maintain huge population numbers—allowing some salvinia to survive.

The results of over more than two dozen herbicide trials conducted by the LSU AgCenter since 1999 have identified a number of herbicides that are effective in controlling giant salvinia when applied according to directions. A number of the effective herbicides have obtained federal registration from the EPA and are available for use. These herbicides can be divided into two groups:

Foliar sprays and total water treatments. Diquat (Reward), flumioxazin (Clipper) and glyphosate (numerous trade names) are foliar treatments shown to be effective with multiple applications. Fluridone (numerous trade names) and more recently penoxulam (Galleon) are total water treatment herbicides (the giant salvinia absorbs the herbicide through root uptake) often are effective from a single application, but the contact time (time the plants are exposed to the herbicide) may be as long as 60 days. Exchange of water (rainfall, normal current flow, etc.) with the minimum exposure time negates control.

Even with these herbicides proven to be effective, chemical control of giant salvinia is problematic for several reasons:

  1. All of the foliar applied herbicides require multiple applications to have a significant effect on matted giant salvinia. Multiple applications are expensive and labor intensive.
  2. The total water treatment herbicides require long contact times. This works well in small confined areas (ponds with little watershed area), but it often does not work well in larger water bodies with larger watersheds and does not work at all in areas of moving water.
  3. All of these herbicides are expensive (as high as $1,600 per gallon on the upper end), and state budgets are limited.
  4. With the phenomenal growth rate of giant salvinia (Attachment 1), complete control is difficult to achieve, since only a few surviving plants can repopulate and area in a brief time.

The foliar materials that are out there are effective, but it’s like peeling an onion. You just have to peel off layer after layer after layer after layer. It’s expensive and requires a lot of tenacity to go out and spray the same body of water every two weeks for the rest of your life.

The total water volume treatments that were mentioned, like Galleon, is very expensive, just 500 gallons costs a million dollars, and if you apply it betting it won’t rain for 35 days – that’s a hard bet to make.

Salvinia weevils are about the only weevil that doesn’t fly, so someone to hand move them to nearby bodies of water, which is very labor intensive.

Basically our hope now is to continue with the weevil releases in south Louisiana. We continue to screen herbicides. We’re doing all these other tests that really haven’t amounted to a whole lot. We’ll continue to do it hoping

 

MICHAEL MASSIMI, Invasive Species Coordinator, Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary program

This area is about four million acres between the Mississippi River and the Atchafalaya, roughly triangular, down on the coast, coastal estuaries. We very much appreciate the weevils down there.

It’s an area that has a lot of environmental problems. We’re the fastest disappearing land mass. Everybody knows about Louisiana’s trouble with land loss. The invasive species is no less an issue down there. We have plenty of them.

Since I’ve been there for seven years, we have six new invasive species recorded in the Barataria-Terrebonne. Plenty of salvinia in the coastal estuaries. It’s not just up here in the northern part of the state. After Hurricane Katrina, we started finding giant salvinia in several new locations. The hurricane definitely spread it around, and my fear is that this river flood of 2011 is going to really spread it a lot farther, into the Atchafalaya basin and then, of course, into the Barataria-Terrebonne system as well. It’s found in the Barataria system, the north rim of Barataria Bay, including in Jean Lafitte National Historical Park, and I believe that we’re going to see severe impacts very soon in the Penchant Basin system of Terrebonne. That is where all the Atchafalaya River water eventually went.

The impacts are very severe. Total shade, blocking gas exchange on the surface, no oxygen getting through. As the plant decays, that sucks oxygen out as well, and causes fish kills. We’re seeing that in the southern part of the state.

The mat is so thick that even your air-breathing animals, even big ones like otters, don’t want to go through that. Ducks will relish our native duckweed, which is a similar floating plant, but it’s a thin mat, and ducks can get through it. Ducks will completely avoid a water body covered with giant salvinia.

Water management structures get overwhelmed. Boating is impossible, even sometimes for larger vessels. A mat three feet thick is going to impede a pretty big boat.

Intakes for industrial water or municipal drinking water get clogged. Cross Lake now has giant salvinia in it, and that’s where the City of Shreveport gets their water from.

And speaking just generally about invasive species biology, invasives love to stir up habitats. They have a much harder time invading an area if every niche is filled with a native species and it’s a functioning healthy ecosystem. You do something to disturb that, the invasives come in. They’re great generalists and they’re great pioneers of disturbed habitats. Using chemicals repeatedly knocks back not just your target species, it knocks back a lot of species. You’re degrading the habitat in that way, and so it can be a negative feedback or positive feedback, rather, where a further degraded habitat is now primed for further invasion. And we see this with invasive species helping one another. An invasive actually degrades a habitat, clearing the way for another invasive to come in. Common in invasion biology. So one thing we can do that hasn’t been mentioned is good restoration and restore native vegetation, cut back on the nutrients. That’s going to be part of a comprehensive plan as well.

I’d like to just say that in invasive species management, we’re constantly caught in a reactionary mode, so we’re here today to talk about giant salvinia, but we really should take a much more high altitude view and much more widespread and talk about invasives in particular pro-action rather than reaction. There is a nutria bill. There is a feral hog bill, and maybe there will be some salvinia action at some point, but if we can have stricter regulations on what gets imported into this country to begin with, we might avoid the next giant salvinia.

The invasive floating fern giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta) is possibly the most noxious of all aquatic weeds.

Introduced and spread mainly as an ornamental by the horticulture and pond garden trade, it has become established in tropical and subtropical regions on four continents.

In the US, giant salvinia is established in at least 11 states  has the potential to devastate freshwater habitats in as many as 20 states.

Giant salvinia is currently considered established in at least 15 parishes, mostly in the southeast and northwest of the state, and the river flooding of 2011 will most certainly result in additional introductions. Giant salvinia can thrive in any freshwater area of the state, and I believe that we are, unfortunately, only on the leading edge of the giant salvinia invasion. The growth rate of giant salvinia is exponential. It doubles its coverage area in as little as a week under good growing conditions. A single plant could cover 40 square miles in three months. Waters infested with giant salvinia quickly become covered by a thick mat of vegetation. The mat can be up to three feet thick at the surface, making navigation impossible, even for relatively large boats. The mat is also much denser than other floating plants, blocking sunlight almost completely and greatly inhibiting oxygen exchange at the surface. The decay of plant masses further deoxygenates the water. The result is catastrophe for native flora and fauna. Hypoxic waters can cause fish kills. Submersed native aquatic plants are shaded out and they die. Habitat is destroyed for air-breathing animals like otters, diving birds, turtles and frogs, which cannot penetrate the mat. Ducks, which relish surfaces covered with the much thinner native duckweed, will completely avoid surfaces covered with salvinia.

There is also evidence that prolonged presence of salvinia mats causes gradual acidification of lakes and ponds.

Giant salvinia infestations have severe human impacts too. Water management structures are damaged or rendered useless, boating and commercial navigation is impeded, intakes for municipal drinking water or industrial facilities are clogged, and recreational uses such as fishing, waterfowl hunting, paddling, or swimming are stopped.

Harvesting salvinia mechanically can be effective only in very small infestations; otherwise the sheer weight and volume of the wet plants are unmanageable. Booms and other structures to prevent the movement of salvinia can protect small areas, but often get overwhelmed by the massive mats when pushed by wind or current.

 

KEN WARD, PROJECT MANAGER, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS, CADDO PARISH

1,700,000 gallons of water every day are used to provide quality drinking water to Caddo Parish residents.  But Giant salvinia reduces the oxygen in the water, increasing treatment requirements.

Manpower for spraying is also very limited. Spraying cannot be applied in the rain or high wind conditions. Boat launch barriers have been installed at Caddo Parish’s Earl Williamson Park in Oil City to help assist giant salvinia from entering the boat launch areas. This helps keep the plant from attaching to boat trailers during launch and release, but during high winds, giant salvinia can be blown in the barriers, which mean—which cause problems in the launching areas. Caddo Parish has passed and posted ordinances on the prohibition of transportation and spreading of giant salvinia. Enforcement of such ordinances are very expensive and time consuming.

Caddo Lake is one of only 27 wetlands in the United States recognized by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. The bald cypress forests of Caddo Lake, including trees as old as 400 years, host one of the highest breeding populations of wood ducks as well as prothonotary warblers and other neotropical birds. The forests and wetlands of Caddo Lake are critical for migratory bird species within the Central Flyway, including tens of thousands of migrating waterfowl that utilize Caddo Lake (and other nearby lakes) as resting and feeding grounds. However, these internationally-recognized wetlands are threatened by Giant Salvinia, one of the world’s most noxious aquatic weeds introduced from Brazil as part of the pet industry. Giant Salvinia grows rapidly and spreads across water surfaces, forming dense floating mats that reduce light penetration and result in oxygen depletion of the lake. This prevents growth of natural vegetation, a food source for waterfowl, and the mats of Giant Salvinia also eliminate open water on lake for waterfowl to use for resting purposes.

Invasive species like Giant Salvinia are one of the greatest threats to fish, wildlife, and plant biodiversity facing the United States and disrupt the economy and ecology of our nation. Invasive plants threaten private working lands and publicly protected lands and infest over 100 million acres in the United States. On public and private lands and waters of this country, invasive species negatively impact the natural systems on which we all depend and economic losses are estimated at over $100 billion annually.

 

DAMON E. WAITT, SENIOR DIRECTOR AND BOTANIST, LADY BIRD JOHNSON WILDFLOWER CENTER, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN.

I’ll add to the bulleted list of problems with invasive species, that they reduce habitat for endangered species and also to the cost of $137 billion annually, they’re also the second greatest threat to native biodiversity, second only to habitat destruction.

My experience with Caddo Lake came later in life and was primarily secondhand from a woman who grew up in Karnack, Texas. With her mother dead, her much older brothers gone, and her father running the local general store, there was little time for five-year old Claudia Alta Taylor. As a child, Claudia found solace in nature paddling the dark bayous of Caddo Lake. The sense of place that came from being close to the land never left her. She would devote much of her life to preserving it. It helped define her and started her down a path that led to the White House, Highway Beautification, and the National Wildflower Research Center. That young girl was, of course, Lady Bird Johnson. And when I talked to her about invasive species when she was still alive, she said to me, ‘‘Damon, those are plants that have no socially redeeming value.’’ One of Lady Bird’s most famous quotes goes, ‘‘The environment is where we all meet; where we all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share. It is not only a mirror of ourselves, but a focusing lens on what we can become.’’

 

Dr. SANDERS. After 130 days, the grass carp that had only giant salvinia to eat had—a number of them died, and all of them had lost weight from the time we put them in there. Basically it boils down to two things; one, they don’t like floating plants to start with and, two, something that hasn’t been addressed here is that the giant salvinia contains a metabolic toxin, contains a thiamine inhibitor. The grass carp nibbled on it until they got sick and decided that they would eat mud after that and then die, which is what they did. We cut the stomachs open and simply full of mud. I’ve gotten requests for why can’t we use this for animal feed, cow feed.  Same situation. You have to overcome this thiamine inhibitor problem to keep the cows from getting sick, so it works the same with fish.

Mr. LOWERRE.  In the Caddo Lake watershed we are working with some Federal and state money on a watershed protection plan to get agricultural producers to use better management practices to reduce the extra nutrients that come into the system, since the run off of phosphorus and nitrogen fertilizers helps giant salvinia to grow.

Dr. SANDERS. Weevils actually swim out of the pond trying to seek another batch of salvinia somewhere, and in south Louisiana, they’re all consumed by fire ants, another invasive species—and none of the weevils made it more than about 20 feet from the pond  

 

CYPRESS VALLEY NAVIGATION DISTRICT MARSHALL TEXAS 75661 GIANT SALVINIA RESPONSE PROGRAM PRESENTED TO THE RED RIVER VALLEY ASSOCIATION IN TEXARKANA, JUNE 1st, 2011

Caddo Lake has long had a problem with invasive species. . .namely Water Hyacinth. Some say this problem dates back to the Late 1950’s when Lake of The Pines was impounded. Other invasive species are also present in Caddo, some cause little problem and some are or have the potential to be major problems. The worst offenders include; Giant Salvinia, Hydrilla, and Alligator Weed. Others that tend to be more localized are: Water Millfoil, FanWort, Water Primrose, Elodea Parrot, Feather Pennywort, Frog’s Bit, Spatterdock Duck weed, and  Watermeal . All types of lilies like Egieria Coontail and American Lotus. There are three main control regimes for invasive species: Bio Controls, Herbicide Application, and Containment/Removal of material. The Containment/Removal of Giant Salvinia has been tried on Caddo in recent years. A trial using a barge with a conveyor system was used to remove and transport the material to shore was conducted. The trial was successful in that it removed the material from the shallow stumpy environment without breakdowns, however, the overall process was slow and not cost effective for large areas.

CVND’s efforts on Giant Salvinia started in 2007 when Giant Salvinia was first reported in the Jeems Bayou area of Caddo Lake. A plan was devised to put up a barricade 2 miles long across the middle of the lake to intercept the floating salvinia. The fence was erected and patrolled daily. It was effective on stopping large quantities of salvinia but could not stop it all. The fence was destroyed by winds from Hurricane Ike and was subsequently removed from the lake.

ROSS MELINCHUK, DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT.  For the last ten years, the Department’s annual statewide budget for management of invasive aquatic plants has ranged from several hundred thousand dollars to 1.5 million. A comprehensive plant management program would require in our estimation about $2 million annually to implement, at least $600,000 of which would be targeted at giant salvinia.

Targeted outreach programs can be effective, but they, too, are expensive. The Department spent about $275,000 in 2010 for a one-month media campaign focused on Caddo, Lake Conroe, Toledo Bend, and Sam Rayburn reservoirs. The campaign included radio, television, print ads, online advertising, billboards, ramp buoys, pump station toppers, pretty comprehensive campaign. The boater survey conducted following the campaign showed us that 51% of boat owners had seen advertising or information about giant salvinia and that awareness had increased. Key point, in fact, 96% of boaters surveyed reported that the campaign made them more likely to clean their boat and trailer in the future.

Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences submitted for the record:

  1. Establish, operate and maintain a salvinia weevil rearing facility near Caddo Lake to serve as a ready source of weevils for release on Caddo Lake and also provide a living laboratory and nursery to develop a better knowledge of salvinia weevils and their behavior. So far about 75,000 adult weevils have been released on Caddo Lake into 4 isolated areas from the rearing facility and 250,000 weevil larvae. Larvae are the primary killer of giant salvinia as they bore their way out of the plant after hatching from eggs laid by adult weevils in the stems of the plant, thus seriously damaging the Salvinia
  2. Currently in the process of hiring a private applicator to chemically treat giant salvinia on Caddo Lake in 2011 to support and complement other spraying efforts

Mr. GOHMERT. You’ve talked about 1.3 million weevils costing $35,000 and how you mechanically can move them and all. Who counts those things?

Dr. SANDERS. Another one of these myriad studies, how many weevils are in a pound of salvinia and the first question we tried to answer. There’s actually entomologists came up with a system decades ago that they run a series of plant matter through, it’s called a berlese funnel. What it is is a—just like the name sounds, it’s a funnel with a screen in it. You put a heat source over the top, in this case a fluorescent light bulb, and the heat and the light forces the live insects down through the plant mass, through the neck of the funnel, down the funnel into some type of collection device. We use little plastic bags. But after the plant matter is completely dry, we pull them out, we pour them out, we count the numbers of weevils that are in there. We put a kilo of stuff in, we count however many weevils are at the bottom, and that’s how we make the determination, and we make hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of these determinations.

 

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