Monday, October 22, 2007

News Digest for October 22, 2007

All the links in today’s news digest lead to current stories. Please note that some media organizations update their web sites regularly, which may result in broken links in the future.


Nonchalant • \nahn-shuh-LAHNT\ • adjective – Having an air of easy unconcern or indifference

Derwood hummed a discordant, wandering tune as he strode through the ladies’ department at the local store. Although he was quivering with embarrassment, his promise to his wife to purchase new “foundation” garments drove him to act with utter nonchalance as he discussed the minutia of sizing and fit and laciness with the salesperson that was required by his visit to foreign soil.



Tacoma Public Utilities veteran will lead Tacoma Power (News Tribune, Tacoma)

Congressional Research Reports – Electric Transmission: Approaches for Energizing a Sagging Industry. The electric utility industry is inherently capital-intensive. At the same time, the industry must operate under a changing and sometimes unpredictable regulatory system at both the federal and state level. (These reports are what give most of the Congress their back of envelope understanding of these issues)

Energy transmission a problem in North Dakota – North Dakota wants to be the nation's electricity superstore, but it's having trouble finding a convenient location on the highway. (Bismarck Tribune)

Whatcom County PUD proposes hydro plant for Petersburg, Alaska (Alaska Public Radio)

The Energy Challenge – Fight Against Coal Plants Draws Diverse Partners (NY Times)

Hopes for coal gasification ride on one project (Reuters)

Windstorm tests improvements to Puget Sound Energy (KING-TV, Seattle)

Energy Traders Avoid Scrutiny – As Commodities Market Grows, Oversight Is Slight. One year ago, a 32-year-old trader at a giant hedge fund named Amaranth held huge sway over the price the country paid for natural gas. Trading on unregulated commodity exchanges, he made risky bets that led to the fund's collapse -- and, according to a congressional investigation, higher gas bills for homeowners. But as another winter approaches, lawmakers and federal regulators have yet to set up a system to prevent another big fund from cornering a vital commodity market. (Washington Post)

FERC accepts court decision limiting refund authority over non-public utilities – The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) vacated each of the commission's California refund orders to the extent that they subject non-public utility entities to the commission's refund authority under the Federal Power Act. The action stems from a remand of a prior commission decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. (Utility Automation & Engineering)

Home-Heat Prices Are Flaring Up – Winter's Chill to Bring Higher Bills for Oil, Gas (Washington Post)

Speak your mind on LNG on Monday – The Clatsop County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing Monday to discuss a Houston company's plan to build a liquefied natural gas terminal on the Columbia River. (The Daily News, Longview)

Arkansas – Utilities aim to lighten low-income users’ bills (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

Xcel Energy first utility to use soy oil in transformers (Utility Automation & Engineering)


Idaho – Troubled waters for Craig, Idaho ESA concerns rise amid senator's scandal (Magic Valley Times-News)

Upper Columbia Spring Chinook Salmon and Steelhead Recovery Plan (Links to PDF File at Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, all 352 pages worth!)

Ten-Story Fish Slide To Make Its Way Up The Columbia River (Oregon Public Broadcasting)

Oregon – High river breaches earthen coffer dam. The first high-river flows of the season triggered the last stages of the removal of Marmot Dam on the Sandy River Friday, breaching the earthen coffer dam that held back water during Portland General Electric's demolition activities. (Associated Press)

STEELHEAD SEASON OPENING – For the first time in ten years, a steelhead season on the Wenatchee River opens Monday. The season is made possible by a strong return of steelhead. Doug Ward with the State Department of Fish and Wildlife says the object of the season is to remove hatchery bred steelhead. Rules for the fishery are available on the department's website. (KPQ Radio, Wenatchee)

Out of Stilly, a likely record humpy – The main-stem Stillaguamish reasserted itself as a major salmon producer recently, putting out what will likely prove to be a new state and world record "humpy." (The Everett Herald)

California oyster Farm Sparks Fight Among Environmentalists – An oyster farm may be closed down in a few years because it is located in a potential wilderness area. The dispute is between two different kinds of environmentalists -- those who support pure wilderness, and those who believe the wilderness can be used in a sustainable way. (National Public Radio)

Here’s your tax credit – Bush nature plan for the birds, fish (Seattle Times)

Atlanta may go dry in 90 days (Seattle Times)

The Future Is Drying Up (NY Times)

San Francisco Chronicle Editorial – Dry times ahead - even for the Bay Area. With its mild climate and breathtaking views, it's easy to think the San Francisco Bay Area is immune from California's water problems. But the region faces its own share of water challenges, and its economy and lifestyle are no less reliant on water than any other part of the state. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Inch by Inch, Great Lakes Shrink, and Cargo Carriers Face Losses (NY Times)

Future of artesian well lies with city – Anyone traversing State Avenue in downtown Olympia near the intersection of Adams Street in recent weeks would be hard-pressed to miss the artesian well flowing behind a chain-link fence on a freshly barren lot that belongs to the state Department of Transportation. (The Olympian)


BPA – Regional power supplier plugging into wind energy. The region's largest wholesaler of electrical power is plugging into a new wind-energy project, part of a multi-year plan to substantially increase wind's contribution to the grid. (The Missoulian)

Massachusetts – Cape Cod Commission denies proposed wind farm in Nantucket Sound (Knight Ridder Tribune Business News, via

Solar-Home Designers Say Novelty Has Worn Off (National Public Radio)

Canola's golden promise for biodiesel loses luster – Oregon farmers face obstacles despite government incentives and green buzz (The Oregonian)

Farm Bill Crucial for U.S. Renewable Policy (Renewable Energy Access)


Late start to publicity dims L.A. lights-out conservation event (The Mercury News)

California – Not quite a blackout, but a good turnout for Lights Out event (San Francisco Chronicle)

California – Energy neutral homes urged. The PUC adopts targets emphasizing efficiency for new construction. (Lost Angeles Times),1,743086.story?track=rss&ctrack=1&cset=true

Bismarck Tribune Opinion – Energy use, conservation inseparable


California to sue Bush administration over law to limit emissions (San Francisco Chronicle)

Carbon offsets a budding business – Participation by U.S. companies, individuals is voluntary, but growing (Contra Costa Times)

Who's the greenest of them all? Members of low-carbon-living groups can be tough on each other's choices

Greening Up Baby – For the Eco-Conscious Parent, How to Be Gentle on the Earth and the Wallet. Those cute little feet sure do make a big carbon footprint. (Washington Post)


Grant County PUD, former employee settle lawsuit for $150,000 – The Grant County Public Utility District agreed to pay former employee Steven Beckett $150,000 to settle claims of wrongful termination and a Public Disclosure Act violation. (Columbia Basin Herald)

Yahoo confirms new Bellevue office – Engineering branch leases 115,000 square feet of space (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Software Notebook: Web giants get cozy in Seattle area – Microsoft, Google, Yahoo share supply of engineers. It's official, Seattle: The Web titans have arrived. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

California – Capital's (sic) Wi-Fi hopes hit snag. Consortium chosen to build system seeks additional financing. (Sacramento Bee, may require free registration)

AT&T Is Latest to Sue Vonage Over Patent – The Internet telephone company Vonage Holdings Corporation disclosed yesterday that it was the target of yet another patent lawsuit from a telephone company, in this case AT&T. (NY Times)

New Hampshire – Fiber-optic customers wonder what deal will mean for them. The dazzling TV commercials Verizon has been running for FiOS, its fiber-optic multimedia service, can be painful for New Hampshire residents to watch, since Verizon long ago ditched plans to bring its own version of TV to the state. But for the thousands of people in area communities who have FiOS in their homes for voice and Internet service, the real anxiety comes from seeing commercials about FairPoint’s proposed takeover of Verizon phone service here. (Nashua Telegraph)

Web 2.0 Summit: Big Media Defiant Against Internet Threat – Why be a dinosaur? CBS and Comcast say getting TV clips out to Web users through YouTube or Facebook brings additional viewers to the full-length shows. (InfoWeek)

What’s Online – I Want My Web TV (NY Times)

Ahhh, Semantics – Don’t like Net Neutrality? What about “Structural Separation?” (ZDNet)

E-mail-free Fridays a silly idea (Seattle Times)


Bus vandalism closes schools in Snoqualmie (KOMO-TV, Seattle)

Voters to decide on clinic needs – Voters in Mason County will decide on a Shelton mayor, new school board members, several tax increases and whether to create a second hospital district in the Nov. 6 election. (The Olympian)

Pruning trees helps to keep them upright and saves money in the long run (KNDU-TV, Tri-Cities)

Running Start program is running colleges into red – High school? Who needs it? It turns out that so many high-school students are also taking college classes that it is costing the community-college system nearly $35 million a year. (Seattle Times)

Seattle Times editorial columnist – Stormin' Norman (Catching up with Norm Dicks)

Wenatchee – Changes afoot at KPQ with new ownership. The transition from being a family-owned to corporate-owned media outlet has caused some shake-ups at KPQ radio including relocating the station and abruptly cutting ties Friday with a popular on-air personality. (Wenatchee World)


"Mythbusters" put roaches' radiation resistance to test at Hanford – Can you save yourself by jumping in a falling elevator? Is a penny dropped from the top of the Empire State Building lethal? Would cockroaches survive a nuclear holocaust that killed everything else?

New Zealand Brewer Offers Lifetime Beer Supply For Return Of Laptop

Surgeons Get Sweet On Honey To Heal Wounds – Bee Product Never Spoils, Reduces Inflammation

The wedding's off -- see you in court! Instead of walking down the aisle of a church, a former New York couple will traipse down the aisle of a court room to settle a fight over a $48,800 diamond engagement ring.

Pentagon's record contract: a recording error – The U.S. Defense Department said on Thursday it was awarding what might have been its richest-ever single contract at $24 billion, but it erred by a factor of 1,000.