The Washington Post on offshore drilling Today is the two-year anniversary of the BP oil spill, and The Washington Post looks at how risky deep-water drilling still is. One needs to look no further than recent headlines to see the dangers: an ongoing natural gas leak in the North Sea, a December oil spill off the coast of Nigeria. How about the U.S.? "The members of the presidential Oil Spill Commission that investigated the BP spill said in a report that they were 'encouraged' by reforms at the Interior Department, which oversees drilling in U.S. waters," reports Steven Mufson. "But they said they are dismayed by the failure of Congress to enact some reforms into law, worried about the prospect of Arctic drilling." Expert fears that whatever regulations are put in place, "incidents are inevitable."
The Guardian on the cost of a dolphin Taking a slightly different approach to BP, The Guardian bring up a curious question circling around the aftermath of the spill: How much does a dolphin cost? Around 700 dead ones are currently soaking in liquid nitrogen, awaiting inspection to determine if oil killed them, while experts who spoke with paper's Suzanne Goldenberg struggle to place a price tag on the dolphins' deaths. But of course, this is, writ small, the ongoing question of BP's liability for the spill's environmental impact: "how much damage was done to the environment as a direct result of the oil spill, and how much the company will have to pay to set things right."
Bloomberg BusinessWeek on covering everything with solar cells A dream of Miles Barr, the MIT Ph.D founder of Ubiquitous Energy? Put solar cells on everyday objects like clothes and windows so that any surface under the sun can be charged up. Barr is an expert on chemical vapor deposition, "a process in which two vapors are piped into a sealed chamber, where they react, creating a thin, solid film around an object inside." He's developed a film that can be safely painted on surfaces that converts light into electricity, currently at only a 2 percent rate (compared to a 10 to 20 percent rate for traditional solar panels), but he's looking to get that number higher. The technology has good implications for the developing world. As John Tozzi reports, it may let "people in remote villages, for instance, easily charge cell phones with the sun."
The New York Times on India's coal needs In theory, India shouldn't have an energy crisis; it has one of the world's largest coal reserves. But so far, the country can't get to the sooty stuff out of the ground. "Clumsy policies, poor management and environmental concerns have hampered the country’s efforts to dig up fuel fast enough to keep up with its growing need for power," writes The Times' Vikas Bajaj. Part of the problem is too few coal plants, but even then, coal "production increased just 1 percent last year while power plant capacity jumped 11 percent." One company, Coal India, controls 80 percent of coal production, giving it monopolistic incentive to withhold coal, while ambiguous regulations hamper mining efforts that it and others try to start.
The Associated Press on Kenya's dairy shortage Glib headline aside (really? a "Got Milk?' joke?), the Associated Press this morning has a good read on drought-induced dairy shortage in Kenya. "Grocery store owners, restaurant managers and customers are annoyed and frustrated that an item as basic is butter is almost impossible to find in what is frequently billed as East Africa's largest economy," writes Jason Straziuso. The culprit is the country's temperamental rains, with dry seasons not giving cows enough water to produce -- and wet seasons creating so much milk is thrown away, creating some now-ironic television footage for Kenyans. But the deeper issue is Kenyan farmers failure of " taking advantage of available technology," like water storage facilities, to manage dry spells. Similarly, the country has faces shortages of sugar and ugali, a staple starch, periodically as well.