The Arizona Republic on the Grand Canyon's uranium mine Brandon Loomis reports on the controversial push to mine uranium in the Grand Canyon, where mining is usually illegal: "Energy Fuels Resources intends to reopen its Canyon Mine despite a 20-year federal ban on new uranium mining, imposed early last year by the Interior Department, that covers 1 million acres near the Canyon." He adds: "The company says the ban doesn’t apply because its rights are grandfathered, and the federal government agrees. Environmentalists and the Havasupai Tribe counter that those rights were granted before science was able to show the full potential impact of uranium mining, which opponents fear will poison water that feeds natural springs in the Canyon."
The New York Times on water conservation in the U.A.E. How do you farm in the Middle East? Sara Hamdan investigates efforts to conserve water and, at the same time, preserve agricultural efforts in the United Arab Emirates. "Saving water is a unique challenge in the United Arab Emirates, not least for farmers trying to produce economically viable crops under innately hostile natural conditions of searing heat, low rainfall and barren desert soil," Hadman writes, adding that the country "considers support for a domestic farming industry to be strategically important in order to protect against any sudden cutoff in supplies as a result of either political or natural causes."
Forbes on the future of coal "Coal's potential transformation might be juxtaposed next to that which occurred in the telecom sector," Ken Silverstein says. "There, rotary phones were replaced with touch tones that are being supplanted by mobiles and internet protocols." He continues: "What does this sea change mean for the future of coal and will it maintain its fix or become a niche? The coal sector burned its bridges, having tried unsuccessfully to defeat the sitting president. But even the Obama administration understands that while coal’s market share is falling, it is likely to remain a lynchpin of this country’s energy and economic foundation."
The Guardian on bribery-based energy policy Michael Hanlon addresses a well-known strategy in which energy companies promise communities certain perks — like badminton courts — in exchange for rights to drill for hidden oil. "Serious countries, with serious governments, have equally serious energy policies to keep the lights on. ... It means taking steps to ensure that if the supply of a particular energy source becomes scarce or prohibitively expensive, then there are alternatives that can be brought on stream quickly. That is the sort of thing a serious country does. What it does not do is come up with a hare-brained scheme to bribe locals into accepting an unproven new technology with "community benefits" that may involve new sports clubs and money off the electricity bill."
The Atlantic Cities on the vulnerability of sewage plants Climate change presents many threats, but one of the least-considered may be its impact on sewage plants. Eric Jaffe explains: "Unlike housing and transportation, which are nice to have near the coast but technically movable, the very function of sewage plants all but requires them to locate near waterways. A low-lying placement lets gravity do some of the work piping waste into plants, and proximity to water makes it easy to flush the plants of treated sewage. When a storm surge arrives, the plants have little choice but to re-route sewage — untreated or only partially treated — directly into the water to avoid flooding. Otherwise the facilities are at risk of flooding from the inside, too, if water builds up in the discharge pipes."