The Washington Post reports that Japan has approved a plan to restart two reactors at the Ohi nuclear plant to avoid potentially crippling blackouts this summer.
Andrew Holland of the American Security Project reviews a new RAND study on biofuels and argues that the report misses the strategic importance of developing alternatives to conventional petroleum fuel.
The New Security Beat cross posts to an article by Kirk Talbott on the Columbia University Earth Institute’s State of the Planet blog on the prospects for improvements in peacebuilding and natural resource governance in Burma.
Blogs of War links to a report from The New York Times on the nuclear negotiations between Iran and other world powers in Moscow.
DOD’s Twitter feed linked to a blog post by Secretary of Commerce John Bryson on the Commerce Department’s website where Secretary Bryson argues the business case for ratifying the Law of the Sea Convention. Secretary Bryson notes that acceding to the convention enables the United States to promote energy security efforts by securing sovereign claims to oil and natural gas on the extended continental shelf.
The Hill’s Energy and Environment blog reports that the Department of Commerce has made a decision to impose new tariffs on imports of Chinese wind energy towers. The report comes at a time when the United States is stepping up pressure on China’s unfair trading practices, especially government subsidies for green technologies, such as solar panels.
Samuel Avro of Consumer Energy Report links to a report in The New York Times’ Wheels blog that says the abundance of cheap natural gas – largely as a result of shale rock exploitation – could make hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles more affordable. However, infrastructure challenges remain a significant hurdle to scaling up the technology, according to the report.
Reuters reports on the international negotiations in Baghdad between Western and Iranian officials over Iran’s nuclear program. According to the report, negotiations appeared to be hindered by Western sanctions against Iranian oil exports. “Iran had served notice that it wanted immediate relief from economic sanctions as part of any deal to stop higher-grade uranium enrichment, a pathway to nuclear arms, whereas Western powers insisted Tehran must first shut it down,” the report says.
The National Journal reports on Wednesday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the national security case for ratifying the Law of the Sea Convention. Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that he would hold off on a vote until after the November elections, suggesting that Congress could have a heated debate on the treaty during the lame-duck session.
The Wall Street Journal reports that on Wednesday Turkmenistan agreed to supply natural gas to both Pakistan and India, a necessary step toward realizing the trans-Afghan pipeline that has been twenty years in the making. Instability in Afghanistan and billions of dollars in investments are the two major roadblocks facing pipeline construction through Afghanistan.
Global INT links to a Reuters report of a major gas find off the coasts of Mozambique and Tanzania that could make East Africa the next major exporter of liquefied natural gas to places like Asia. One of the blocs off the coast of Mozambique is estimated to hold up to 52 trillion cubic feet of gas, enough to meet the gas demands of France, Germany, Britain and Italy for five years, the report notes.
The New York Times reports on recent findings for the U.S. Geological Survey that found that erosion along Hawaii’s iconic beaches could accelerate as a result of sea level rise, imperiling coastal communities. According to one geologist at the University of Hawaii, scientists are encouraging coastal communities to retreat away from the beaches in order to adapt to this changing environment. One has to wonder how easy that is in practice, especially for major installations like the U.S. Navy’s bases in Honolulu and elsewhere.
Circle of Blue links to a story in Reuters that says a new study reports that economic losses from natural disasters will likely outpace economic growth in the world’s low- and middle-income countries. This could have devastating consequences for countries the United States is seeking to develop strategic partnerships with, including Vietnam and others. What is more, one has to wonder where Myanmar fits into this picture, a country that could potentially experience significant economic growth over the next decade through foreign investment and gradual relaxation of western sanctions, but that lies in a natural disaster prone region where more than 70 percent of the workforce relies on agricultural development for their income. (Cyclone Nargis upended agricultural communities in the Irrawaddy valley back in 2008, for example.)
Defense News reports on a forum on the Law of the Sea Convention hosted by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Atlantic Council that featured keynote addresses by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and General Martine Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who both urged the U.S. Senate to ratify the Law of the Sea Convention in order to safeguard American interests and U.S. Armed Forces.
Dr. Fravel links to a story in the Philippine Star that reports that Chinese maritime vessels have imposed fishing restrictions on Filipino fisherman in an area approximately 120-nautical miles off the coast of the Philippine island Luzon, an area that would be considered within the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone.
This is a new feature to highlight the top tweets of the week to hit my Twitter feed (@wmrogers).
The Hill’s Energy and Environment Blog discusses the White House’s announced release of a new National Bioeconomy Blueprint on Thursday that is expected to make a broad push for investments in biotechnology, including renewable biofuels.
Circle of Blue links to a report in Forbes that discusses the growing strategic importance of water in China, driven in part by increasing demand as well as mismanagement of existing resources. According to the report, “The country’s water supply is smaller than that of the U.S., yet it must meet the needs of a population nearly five times as large. Industrialization has taken its toll on this already limited resource. Industrial and biological pollution has contaminated almost 90 percent of the underground water in Chinese cities.”
For those who did not tune in last week, this is a new feature to highlight the top tweets of the week to hit my Twitter feed (@wmrogers). The list is completely subjective, of course, but I hope it is helpful to readers interested in following natural security news a little bit closer.
The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) published a compilation of polls on the environment and energy, highlighting public opinion on a range of issues, from nuclear energy, the Keystone XL pipeline to global climate change. The findings are instructive, but I don’t necessarily agree with the analysis that AEI makes about some of the issues. For example, the report notes that “Global warming doesn’t rank at or near the top of issues people want the president and Congress to address. In January 2012, 25 percent said global warming should be a top priority, ranking at the bottom in terms of top priorities.” But read another way, a quarter of Americans find that global climate change should be the top priority for U.S. policymakers. Given the litany of challenges the country faces, isn’t it still substantial that 25 percent of Americans want action taken to address climate change and consider it a top priority? Regardless, the report is worth a read and you can make up your own mind about what it all means.
Professor Fravel tweets that India will continue to cooperate with Vietnam to exploit energy resources in Vietnam’s East Sea (also known as the South China Sea), despite objections from China. This has been a huge source of tension recently between India and China. China objects to “outsiders” getting engaged in the South China Sea dispute – an area that China claims is its territorial sea. (To learn more, read this post I wrote in September on India’s South China Sea gambit.)
This is a new feature to highlight the top tweets of the week to hit my Twitter feed (@wmrogers). The list is completely subjective, of course, but I hope it is helpful to readers interested in following natural security news a little bit closer.
This is an interesting story to follow given the potential increase in demand for governments to support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions due to climate-related and other natural disasters. Institutions like the U.S. military may be called on to support HA/DR missions in order to help dampen the impact of these natural disasters, which can have knock-on effects for security and stability.
The Hill’s Energy and Environment Blog links to a Wall Street Journal report on a new study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that challenges that assumption the natural gas reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared to other fossil fuels. The study notesthat methane (CH4) leakages throughout the lifecycle production process could offset the greenhouse gas benefits. The study is very important given the recent attention to natural gas production in the United States, largely from shale rock.