Weekly Energy News Update-November 26th

I heard a fascinating lecture this week by Anthropologist Daniel Miller about his new project on Global mHealth, which is very much an attempt to be both theoretical and applied. His speech was very critical of anthropology in general, arguing that theory has really become a game of one-upmanship and as done little except to create a hierarchy within the discipline that favors those with the right social and cultural capital (similar to an argument made by Richard Wilk this summer). Miller went a step further by saying anthropologists who spend their career using theory simply to critique the world but choose not to apply their research to make the world a better place are irresponsible. This is an issue near and dear to my heart as my background is in applied anthropology (I’ll give a little plug here for Oregon State University). My current project is quite historical and I have struggled to find an applied angle to my work. Luckily, I work with a fantastic interdisciplinary team at Airborne, some of whom are putting what we learn about air pollution in China into a more applied context .

OK, so now all these personal musings aside, I was very excited this morning to find in my inbox news of a very applied project on energy research that draws from the fields of public health and anthropology. The Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project has been monitoring the health effects of fracking (I like the acronym they use: UOGD or unconventional  oil and gas development) in this region of the US since 2012. However, EHP goes beyond just demonstrating the health effects by providing medical assistance to the affected population, providing the community with legal resources to engage in energy justice and to also get local people involved in the process of collecting scientific information about the health effects of UOGD. EHP has provided many useful resources for those of use engaged in energy justice as well as an impressive model to help an academic enterprise transition towards a more public engagement with energy issues in general. Theory is of course important and not everyone should be expected to apply their research, but critique for the sake of critique is irresponsible. Projects like EHP show us how an engaged anthropology of energy can be relevant and successful. So, browse through their website a bit before you jump into this week’s news:


Work to replace 36,000 streetlights with LEDs in Agra yet to begin (India Times)

Awash in Artificial Light, the World Gets 2 Percent Brighter Each Year (IEEE)


Why Canadian pension plans must divest of fossil fuel investments (Conversation)

Sasol pulls plug on $13-$15 bln US GTL project, to divest from Canadian shale (Reuters)

Total CEO not worried over possible Norway fund capital exit (Reuters)

Gulf Energy raises $733 mln, biggest Thai corporate IPO in over a decade (Reuters)

China’s CEFC set to overtake Trafigura as main Rosneft oil trader in Asia (Reuters)


With artificial intelligence, it’s a brave new world for utilities (UtilityDive)

EU to unveil priority energy projects to improve grid, prepare for Brexit (Reuters)

EU Okays Joint Irish, Northern Irish Power Back-Up Scheme (NYTimes)

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar asks energy department to electrify all villages by December (India Times)

Elon Musk beats deadline for building world’s biggest battery (Phys.org)

Global Storage Market to Double Six Times by 2030 (Bloomberg)

It is getting to the point that I will need to start a new storage category

Subsidizing coal and nuclear power could drive customers off the grid (Conversation)

Rhode Island grid mod plan to focus on renewables integration, cost control (UtilityDive)

A Controversial Oregon Transmission Line Gets The Go-Ahead (NWPR)


South Africa’s NUM union signs three-year wage deal in coal sector (Reuters)

German SPD leader spars with Siemens CEO Kaeser over job cuts (Reuters)

Siemens Restructuring Power And Gas (CompressorTech)


Class action lawsuit targets Eversource, Avangrid over pipeline scheduling (UtilityDive)

TransCanada recovers 44,400 gallons of oil from Keystone pipeline spill site (Reuters)

WTI flips into big backwardation after pipeline spill (Reuters)

South Dakota regulators say they could revoke Keystone permit after spill (Reuters)

Shareholders urge TransCanada to back Keystone XL despite risk (Reuters)

Nebraska Approves Keystone XL Pipeline as Opponents Face Criminalization of Protests (Intercept)

You would think the spill in South Dakota would make them think twice…but no…

Maoists hit agency working on Jagdishpur-Haldia gas pipeline (PTI)

Iraq plans new pipeline exporting Kirkuk oil to Turkey (Reuters)


Whitefish energy company halts work to restore Puerto Rico’s power over unpaid bill (Guardian)

Fluor’s work on Puerto Rico power project halted over safety issue (Reuters)

Still a lot of controversial issues taking place in the reconstruction of Puerto Rico’s energy infrastructure. The nightmare of disaster capitalism is unfolding for local residents on the island.

India to step beyond renewable energy goal with China-scale tenders (Bloomberg)

Public investment in electricity generation – a hot-button issue in Queensland? (Conversation)

Big gas exporter countries blast unilateral sanctions in dig at U.S (Reuters)

Closing energy gap would help poorest countries develop (AP)

China Imposes 4.4%-113.8% Antidumping Duty on Korean-Made Polysilicon (EnergyTrend)

Detained Venezuelan-U.S. Citgo executives to be tried as ‘traitors’ (Reuters)

Time for a global agreement on minerals to fuel the clean energy transition (Conversation)

Russian government approves profit-based oil tax, but launch delayed (Reuters)

U.S. charges two with bribing African officials for China energy firm (Reuters)

Chad later this week denied the allegations.

Total risks entire Iran investment if it pulls out of project (Reuters)


A new way to store thermal energy (MIT News)

Fuel Cells Poised to Replace India’s Diesel Generators (IEEE)


Electric Vehicles Aren’t Taking Over Our Roads as Fast as Hype Artists Claim (IEEE)

Uber to partner with Mahindra to pilot electric vehicles in India (Reuters)

Uber To Buy 24,000 Self-Driving Volvos (IEEE)

Elon Musk’s break-up with Amber Heard was the reason behind Tesla 3 delay (India Times)

I can’t help but share this…seriously, the guy has used this excuse for his shortcomings for months. There were news articles in April that were spewing this nonsense.

Norway puts brakes on plans for ‘Tesla tax’ (AFP)

NITI Aayog, Rocky Mountain Institute release policy to transform India’s mobility system (India Times)

See here and here for the two policy briefs mentioned in this article

Nano to make a comeback with electric model (India Times)

Romeo Power Technology Inaugurates the West Coast’s First Dedicated Electric Vehicle Battery Pack Manufacturing Facility (EnergyTrend)


Turning poop into power: how Kenyans are cooking up a cleaner climate (Reuters)

Wake Up and Smell the Traffic? London Tries Coffee to Power Buses (NYTimes)

Jet fuel from sugarcane? It’s not a flight of fancy (Conversation)

Bio-fuel would boost agriculture, create jobs, cut pollution (PTI)


Infographic: here’s exactly what Adani’s Carmichael mine means for Queensland (Conversation)

Chinese company starts construction of Serbian coal-fired power plant (Reuters)

Owners of Hardin coal-fired power plant announce exit in 2018 (Billings Gazette)

Engie, Mitsui sell Australian coal-fired power plant to Alinta (Reuters)

Texas’ largest power generator sets hundreds of job cuts with closure of plant, coal mine (Houston Business Journal)


Russia warns global gas oversupply could trigger price ‘crisis’ (Reuters)

This may be true for global supply, but in East Asia the gas market is quite tight as China and Korea have purchased everything they can get their hands on.

India rushing to join natural gas boom risks eventual LNG shortage (Reuters)

And it appears that India is also heading in the same direction that East Asia is taking. Lots of mixed messages in the LNG industry right now.

Power companies’ 60,000 Mw thermal generation projects in trouble (PTI)

With a few smart moves, we can relieve the pressure on gas (Conversation)

Exxon joins European oil firms in initiative to limit emissions (Reuters)


Energy-hungry India can neither abandon dams nor build many large ones (India Times)

I heard this argument from a number of scholars who attended the Environmental Asia conference here in Oslo. However, those interested in this topic should also pay attention to the important work being done on the social impacts of small hydropower projects by Human Geographer (and Anthropologist in disguise!) Shikha Lakhanpal at the Ashoka Trust.

A Big Hydro Project in Big Sky Country (IEEE)

China firms sign $3 billion deal to generate hydro power in Nepal (PTI)

Site C completion cost could soar further with threat of First Nations lawsuit (HydroWorld)

Philippines renewable energy investments include four hydropower plants (HydroWorld)


New directory providing technical information on Scottish ports could help marine energy developers (HyrdoWorld)

Atlantis secures riverbed lease for Wyre tidal barrage installation (HydroWorld)


Six Years After Fukushima, Robots Finally Find Reactors’ Melted Uranium Fuel (NYTimes)

Evacuating a nuclear disaster areas is (usually) a waste of time and money, says study (Conversation)

This argument is made only by drawing from the economic concept of “willingness to pay”. I hope there are anthropologists out there working on challenging such assumptions.

Russian nuclear facility denies it is source of high radioactivity levels (Guardian)


A BP North Sea field to test U.S. policy on Iran (Reuters)

How ‘princess’ of Angola lost her oil crown (Reuters)

Environment panel approaches oil companies against sale of petcoke (IANS)

Eni asks for seizure order to be lifted to avoid refinery shutdown (Reuters)

China diesel in rare rally as smog war, tax fears stir supply worries (Reuters)


Turning the promise of solar landfills into reality (UtilityDive)

Officials wrongfully charging duty on solar power panels (India Times)

Bangladesh firms awarded for solar power trade network (IANS)


Germany awards further 1 GW of onshore wind capacity (Reuters)

India to conduct auction for awarding wind power projects of 2,000 Mw capacity (India Times)


Weekly Energy News Update-November 19th

My own schedule has been quite packed as of late, so I think this report about the microeconomies and lifestyles that have sprung up along the coal trucking routes from Mongolia into China will have to suffice as an intro into this week’s update:

Border jam puts Mongolia’s coal lifeline under threat (Reuters)



World Energy Outlook 2017 (IEA)

Perhaps not necessary for readers to go spend €120 on a digital copy, so thought I would share the report summary here. The New York Times wrote an even shorter synopsis here.


Norway’s Wealth Fund Considers Divesting From Oil Shares (NY Times)

Offshore oil service firms dominate North American energy bankruptcies (Reuters)

Ecuador to sign payment deal for Schlumberger debt (Reuters)

Aramco CEO: IPO preparations ongoing, no decision on venue abroad (Reuters)


EDF unions warn of French power blackout risk this winter (Reuters)

What Causes Cascading Power Grid Failures (IEEE)

You can see the full report from Science here. They have a related technical paper up at arxiv as well.

Wave of lawsuits blames PG&E for deadly California fires (Sacramento Bee)

Government to push prepaid, smart meters in universal electrification drive (India Times)

China to launch distributed power trading pilot scheme (Reuters)

Keeping one billion people in the dark costs poor countries dear (Reuters)

A very odd article, they never provide the title of the report they are summarizing and I was unable to find a report with this content on the ODI website.


Nearly 2,000 Siemens employees protest against job cuts (Reuters)

Coal India mulling increase in prices to meet rise in wage costs (India Times)


Dakota Access Pipeline Company Paid Mercenaries to Build Conspiracy Lawsuit Against Environmentalists (Intercept)

Keystone Pipeline Leaks 210,000 Gallons of Oil in South Dakota (NY Times)

Keystone XL opponents make last-gasp effort in Nebraska (Reuters)

Kinder Morgan Canada appeals again over Trans Mountain pipeline (Reuters)


With U.S. Backing, Ukraine Pushes to Privatize Paris Climate Agreement (Intercept)

Why meeting the Paris climate goals is an existential threat to fossil fuel industries (Conversation)

Angolan Leader Ousts Predecessor’s Daughter as Oil Chief (NY Times)

Indonesia unveils plan to roll out 1,000 eco-mosques by 2020 (Reuters)

China’s renewable energy wastage targets may be hard to meet this winter (Reuters)

I remain extremely skeptical that China can end all renewable energy wastage by 2020, but if they can make it happen that would be a very telling sign of significant political change in the country.

Puerto Rico’s bankrupt utility agreed to pay Whitefish Energy double what linemen make, documents show (Washington Post)

Puerto Rico utility head resigns after slow Hurricane Maria response (Reuters)

Canada’s Obsidian Energy settles fraud charges with U.S. regulator (Reuters)

And another corporation allowed to pay their way out of an inevitable prison sentence.


Elon Musk unveils Tesla electric truck – and a surprise new sports car (Guardian)

China’s Richest 2017: Wang Chuanfu Steers EV Leader BYD Deeper Into New Markets (Forbes)

Toyota, Suzuki to introduce electric vehicles in India in 2020 (India Times)

Global oil demand to withstand rise of electric vehicles (Reuters)

This is according to the IEA’s World Energy Outlook…

China Craves Electric Cars, While U.S. Flirts With Ending Tax Credit (NY Times)

Flying-Car Company Terrafugia is Bought by China’s Geely (IEEE)


Nineteen nations say they’ll use more bioenergy to slow climate change (Reuters)

U.S. biofuels policy contributes to global warming (Reuters)


Burning more coal to cut pollution – India’s distressing dilemma (Reuters)

Supreme Court asks states, UTs to consider banning pet coke & furnace oil (PTI)

Record 250 trains rushed coal to power plants on Tuesday (India Times)

Growing number of global insurance firms divesting from fossil fuels (Guardian)

Indonesia amends contracts with 13 coal mining companies (Reuters)

RWE takes 1,500 MW of lignite plants off grid due to protests (Reuters)

Anyone know if these protests were locally organized or somehow related to the CoP 23 in Bonn?

A year after Trump’s election, coal’s future remains bleak (Reuters)


Argentina to extend gas production subsidies to Austral basin (Reuters)

Asian prices rise as Korea Gas Corp buys winter supply (Reuters)

China villagers hail first gas-fired heat for winter, but balk at higher bills (Reuters)

Djibouti signs preliminary deal with China’s POLY-GCL for $4 bln gas project (Reuters)

Dutch court rejects government’s Groningen gas production plan (Reuters)

Bid for Santos puts spotlight on Papua New Guinea’s juicy LNG assets (Reuters)

Sometimes when Reuters staff reporters get excited about energy news it feels as if they are describing a piece of meat…did they forget people live in the PNG? Probably…  🙁


Meetings end without consensus on filling reservoir at 6,000-MW Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (HydroWorld)

Pakistan removes Diamer Bhasha from CPEC consideration (HydroWorld)

Nepal scraps $2.5 billion hydropower plant deal with Chinese company (Reuters)

Meghalaya govt cancels power project pacts with private companies (PTI)

$1.6 billion Canada-New England hydropower project wins key permit (AP)


Metro mayor offers new hope for stalled Liverpool tidal energy project (HydroWorld)


Radioactive leaks at Illinois nuclear power plants (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

US eyes safety rules for small modular reactors, as nuclear touted at UN climate meeting (UtilityDive)

Owner of Finnish nuclear reactor may seek further compensation (Reuters)

Faulty Areva fuel rods sent to nuclear reactors, Swiss plant closed (Reuters)


China’s oil refiners rush to cash in on bumper profits (Reuters)

Rosneft board approves oil deal with China’s CEFC (Reuters)

African-Americans taking brunt of oil industry pollution (Reuters)

Which is exactly what anthropologist Janice Harper has been arguing for years

Turkish, Iraqi officials discuss resuming Kirkuk oil exports (Reuters)

Oil seen as real prize of Iran’s Kurdish adventure (Reuters)

There is still a great deal of tension in this region of the Middle East and 2017’s deadliest earthquake has only made the situation more intense.

Norway environmental lawsuit says Arctic oil plan violates constitution (Reuters)


Croatia eyes solar power in bid to curb energy imports (Reuters)

$100 million Texas solar project on hold as Trump administration threatens tariff (Dallas Morning News)

Jordan switches on world’s largest solar plant in refugee camp (Reuters)


Gujarat wind auction put off again (India Times)

Maine proposes new wind development rules (UtilityDive)

Cfp: The living in the socioecological transition from social controversies to research practices

The living in the socioecological transition from social controversies to research practices
Contributions of Environmental social sciences
Rennes, France, 20-22 june 2018

“The time of the ecological transition” has come, and the expression has already been adopted in the fields of energy and economic policies. In addition to many existing academic works on these subjects, we must acknowledge the growing share of jobs associated with eco-activities (CGDD, 20161) and the management of this ecological transition by public policies and through legislation (e.g. the Energy Transition for Green Growth Act adopted on august 2015 by the French Council for Ecological Transition).
The approach of these transitional dynamics should not be limited to the energy, resource and economic themes. The social and environmental changes that they imply are transverse phenomena that require the mobilization of a variety of methodological tools in order to grasp all their components, be they normative, symbolic or cognitive, in all their dimensions in particular collective and individual. It is therefore all the social sciences of the environment that must contribute to question this transition which presents itself as “the opportunity to relaunch the search for a new articulation between nature and culture and to explore the multiple social phenomena that predict, in a disordered and contradictory way, the future of society ” (Audet, 2015 : 112).
There are different ways to address this transition, the most frequent of which remains focused on the energy theme. This symposium proposes to shift this view in order to question the transformations of the nonhuman living from three angles: the new ways of categorizing the living and the practices associated with them; the transformations of the public space through the publicization of these new categorizations and practices; and our methods to grasp the living in the ecological transition. More generally, the aim of this symposium is to contribute to the analysis of the dynamics of contemporary social transformations of the living by extending the work on social and ecological change developed by social sciences research teams such as the Spaces and Societies team (UMR ESO CNRS) which brings this project.

Three areas of reflection will be specifically addressed:

1. New categorizations of the living and associated practices at the time of the socioecological transition and, more broadly, the evolution of relationships with the living through, for example, the controversy about livestock or the assignment of rights or values to animals, plants or natural entities, such as the status of Invasive Alien Species or the greening of cities;
2. The transformations of the public space related to the role given to the living in the socioecological transition: the way in which these questions are inscribed, shaped, debated and how they recompose the public and private spheres through emotions and collective mobilizations, for instance;
3. The impact of works about the living and public space on research practices, on the analysis of social and environmental change, and on the roles of researchers in society.

1. Transformations of living things
The objective of this axis is to question the socioecological transition in terms of a transformation of the relation to the living. Until the 1960s, this relationship to the living in our occidental and industrialised society was essentially thought in relation with productive activities where the living was known through the wild / domestic dichotomy. Today, this reading grid has gradually faded (Micoud, 20103): controversies over farm animals, hunting practices, the reintroduction of protected species, the multiplication of super-predators, genetic manipulations, made this categorization of the living animal and plant becoming fuzzy and object of social tensions. In addition, we can see through the notions of “critical zones”, the Gaia hypothesis (Latour, 20164) or reflections about the anthropocene, a change in the very conception of our understanding of the living and our interdependencies with it. This axis will allow questioning the new forms of categorization of the living and their related practices, to interrogate the features and the meanings of the status evolution of the living, but also the tensioning of these new categorizations between different social groups. For this purpose, the expected contributions will address :
– Environmental measures (management plan, restoration or control programs, etc.) through which status and roles are assigned to animals and plants referring to new forms of categorization of the living,
– Knowledge mobilized through these new categorizations and how they coexist with other categorizations, between hybridization, appropriation and resistance – how to think the diversity of relationships to the living while the globalization of environmental issues now confronts multiple ways of conceiving this relationship?
– The role of moral or sensitive commitments particularly carried out by activists and mobilized in the recognition of new categorization registers.

2. Transformations of public space
The aim of this axis is to think about the link between the living and the public space in the ecological transition. Studies such as those carried out in the 1990s by P. Lascoumes or M. Janicke5 showed the process by which environmental issues were originated changes in the public policy decision-making process, toward a broader territorialized decision building new interdependencies between actors and territories. At the same time, civil society acquired a legitimacy to make demands in public space, particularly through collective mobilizations, which became an accepted form of expression of citizenship, referring to debates around the emergence of a new democratic model (Bacqué and Sintomer, 20116).
In this perspective, the expected communications will show the contribution of the nonhuman living to this transformation of the public space by focusing on the publicization processes of the stakes related to this nonhuman living. In particular, they will examine the processes by which environmental claims or sensitivities shift from the private sphere to the public sphere and vice versa. We thus expect contributions questioning:
– The gradual process of international, European or national adjustments between the circulation of injunctions and models of action on the living from public actors, and their appropriation by civil society, sometimes with forms of resistance,
– The role of emotions, sensitivities or specific tools, such as digital technologies, in collective mobilizations and, more particularly, their role in the collective construction of claims or public action concerning the living things,
– The material transformations of the public space by the arrival of the non-human living through the vegetalization or the animalization of the city, from the point of view of collective, militant or public actions, as well as those of the inhabitants.

3. Transformation of research practices
The objective of this axis is to qualify and question the effects of these previous developments on the dynamics of research in the social sciences and especially in sociology. The environmental theme and the emergence of new fields such as transitions or environmental humanities, which question the living, overturn the instituted disciplinary categories and the internal logics of the disciplines: it questions both the institutional, cognitive and methodological dynamics of the construction and the legitimization of knowledge.
We will discuss socioecological changes, in their relation to the living, within this process of renewal of scientific practices. This concerns the activity of researchers, increasingly subject to interdisciplinary and citizen science imperatives, but also their interactions with the actors of the social and environmental changes they are studying. It also concerns the formalization and interlinking of their results with the knowledge produced by others, individuals or organizations, both in the context of global knowledge sharing and in the multiplication of local initiatives.
We propose to examine the evolution of research practices within the following themes:
– The contribution of research streams studying the living, such as environmental humanities or transitions studies and their effects on research dynamics, in particular concerning the new hierarchies of disciplines, the research axes in the environmental social sciences and especially the methodologies derived therefrom,
– The transformations of research practices on the living caused by the growing importance of certain unifying themes in the social sciences of the environment, mainly interdisciplinarity, complexity, uncertainty or innovation,
– The new postures of researchers, both in terms of acculturation to the diversity and complexity of the issues they are studying, as well as their involvement in research objects, for example in a logic of “involved” research (Jollivet, 20157),
– The evolution of research process on the living in relation to social and ecological transition, the generalization of participatory approaches and the dynamics of citizen science.

Symposium organization:
– Proposals for oral presentation or poster sessions should be submitted by December 15, 2017, with a length of 8 000 to 10 000 characters. They must be sent to: transvivant@sciencesconf.org
– Contributions will be in French or in English. Selected contributors could send their visual presentation (e.g. slides) two weeks before the symposium for translation in French. The presentation could be whether in French or in English.
– The symposium will take place in three local institutions: at Agrocampus Ouest and in Rennes 1 and Rennes 2 University.

Scientific comity:
– Ridha Abdmouleh, sociologist, University of Sfax, Tunisia
– Anne Atlan, ecologist, CNRS, UMR 6590, ESO-Rennes, France
– René Audet, sociologist, UQAM, Canada
– Rémi Barbier, sociologist, ENGEES, Strasbourg, France
– Guilherme C. Borges, psychosociologist, Fondation Oswaldo Cruz, Brasil
– Philippe Boudes, sociologist, UMR ESO-Rennes, Agrocampus Ouest, France
– Antoine Doré, sociologist, INRA, UMR 1248 Agir, France
– Corinne Gendron, sociologist, UQAM, Canada
– Nathalie Hervé-Fournereau, lawyer, CNRS, UMR 6262 IODE, France
– Marie Jacqué, Sociologist, UMR 151 IRD-AMU, LPED, France
– Fabienne Joliet, Geographer, Agrocampus Ouest, UMR CNRS ESO, France
– Sylvie Ollitrault, political science, CNRS, UMR 6051-ARENE, France
– Florence Rudolf, Sociologist, INSA Strasbourg, EA AMUP, France
– Véronique Van Tilbeurgh, Sociologist, UMR 6590, ESO-Rennes 2, France

Call for abstract open till: December 15, 2017.
– Response to the proposals : February 15, 2018
– The symposium will be held in Rennes, June 20 to 22, 2018.

Website : http://transvivant.sciencesconf.org

Ref. :
1. Commissariat général au développement durable, Service de l’observation et des statistiques, 2016, Chiffres et statistiques, n°755, 4 p.
2. Audet, R., 2015, Pour une sociologie de la transition écologique, Cahiers de recherche sociologique, 58/2015, p. 5-13.
3 Micoud, A., 2010, Sauvage ou domestique, des catégories obsolètes ?, Sociétés, 2/2010 (n° 108), p. 99-107.
4 Latour, B., 2015, Face à Gaïa. Huit conférences sur le Nouveau Régime Climatique, Paris, Les Empêcheurs de penser en rond, La Découverte
5 Lascoumes, P., 1994, L’éco-pouvoir (environnement et politiques), Paris, La Découverte, Jänicke, M., 2008, Ecological modernisation : new perspectives, Journal of Cleaner Production, n°16, p. 557-565
6 Bacqué, M.-H., Sintomer (dir.), Y., 2011, La démocratie participative. Histoires et généalogies, La Découverte, coll. « Recherches ».
7 Jollivet, M., 2015, Pour une transition écologique citoyenne, Paris, ed. Ch. L. Mayer

New book – Frac Sand Mining and the Struggle for Community (Thomas W. Pearson)

When the Hills Are Gone

Frac Sand Mining and the Struggle for Community

Thomas W. Pearson

An overlooked part of fracking’s environmental impact becomes a window into the activists and industrial interests fighting for the future of energy production—and the fate of rural communities

When the Hills Are Gone tells the story of Wisconsin’s sand mining wars. Providing on-the-ground accounts from both the mining industry and the concerned citizens who fought back, Thomas W. Pearson blends social theory, ethnography, stirring journalism, and his own passionate point of view to offer an essential chapter of Wisconsin’s history and an important episode in the national environmental movement.

Fracking is one of the most controversial methods of fossil fuel extraction in the United States, but a great deal about it remains out of the public eye. In Wisconsin it has ignited an unprecedented explosion in the state’s sand mining operations, an essential ingredient in hydraulic fracturing that has shaken local communities to the core.

In When the Hills Are Gone, Thomas W. Pearson reveals the jolting impact of sand mining on Wisconsin’s environment and politics. A source of extraordinary wealth for a lucky few, and the cause of despoiled land for many others, sand mining has raised alarm over air quality, water purity, noise, blasting, depressed tourism, and damage to the local way of life. It has also spurred a backlash in a grassroots effort that has grown into a mature political movement battling a powerful mining industry.

When the Hills Are Gone tells the story of Wisconsin’s sand mining wars. Providing on-the-ground accounts from both the mining industry and the concerned citizens who fought back, Pearson blends social theory, ethnography, stirring journalism, and his own passionate point of view to offer an essential chapter of Wisconsin’s history and an important episode in the national environmental movement. Digging deep into the struggles over place, community, and local democracy that are occurring across the United States, When the Hills Are Gone gives vital insight into America’s environmental battles along the unexpected frontlines of energy development.

Introduction: Magic Mineral
1. Save Our Hills
2. Low-Hanging Fruit
3. Dangers Unseen
4. Where You Live
5. Neighbors
6. In Pursuit of Local Democracy
7. Confronting the Next Boom


Thomas W. Pearson is associate professor of anthropology and assistant director of the Honors College at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. His research has been published in American Anthropologist, Cultural Anthropology, American Ethnologist, Human Organization, and other academic journals. He lives in Menomonie, Wisconsin.


Editor’s webpage: https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/when-the-hills-are-gone

3 Postdoc Fellowship at SESYNC (USA) on Climate & Health / Disaster in a Warming World / Food Waste (Deadline December 1)

New Postdoctoral Fellowship Opportunities at SESYNC


The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) invites applications for three new Postdoctoral Fellowship opportunities: One Postdoc will co-develop a research project to address research gaps on the link between climate change and children’s health, another will study how societies cope with natural disasters, and the third will focus on modeling the environmental impacts of food waste in the U.S. The three opportunities will be for August 2018 through August 2020, and are open to applicants who have completed their PhD in a relevant field within the last four years.

The new Fellowship opportunities include the following:

SESYNC-Georgetown Postdoctoral Fellowship – Ecological Connections: Climate and Health

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) and Georgetown University invite applications for a two-year postdoctoral fellowship opportunity, focused on Ecological Connections: Climate and Health.

The Postdoctoral fellow will co-develop a project designed to address critical research gaps on the relationship between the changing environment and children’s respiratory health by building a model based on the synthesis of multiple data sets and a wide range of variables.

The Postdoctoral Fellow will be based a minimum of three days a week at SESYNC in Annapolis, Maryland and two days a week at Georgetown University, in Washington, D.C and will work with Dr. Laura Anderko of Georgetown as their primary Collaborating Mentor.

Preliminary screening applications are due December 1, 2017 and project proposals with collaborating mentors are due February 1, 2017. More information and application instructions can be found here.


SESYNC-Georgetown Postdoctoral Fellowship: Coping with Disaster in a Warming World

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) and Georgetown University invite applications for a two-year postdoctoral fellowship opportunity, focused on Coping with Disaster in a Warming World.

The Postdoctoral fellow will co-develop a project designed to address critical gaps in our understanding of how societies cope with the sorts of natural disasters that are expected to become more frequent and more devastating in coming decades. Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and strength of extreme weather events. This research program would bring together socio-economic data with meteorological and land use data to build a better picture of how individuals and societies make critical decisions both in anticipation and wake of natural disasters.

The Postdoctoral Fellow will be based a minimum of three days a week at SESYNC in Annapolis, Maryland and two days a week at Georgetown University, in Washington, D.C and will work with Dr. Raphael Calel of Georgetown as their primary collaborating mentor.

Preliminary screening applications are due December 1, 2017 and project proposals with collaborating mentors are due February 1, 2017. More information and application instructions can be found here.


SESYNC-RTI Postdoctoral Fellowship: Modeling the Impacts of Food Waste on the Environment

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) and Research Triangle Institute (RTI) invite applications for a two-year postdoctoral fellowship opportunity, focused on modeling the environmental and ecological impacts of food waste in the United States.

Prior studies have measured the environmental impacts of the food system in general, of food waste specifically, or of changes in food consumption patterns based on the dietary guidelines or other trends. This project will contribute to the existing body of knowledge by defining and modeling the environmental, ecological, and economic impacts of food loss and waste across within the U.S. food system to determine how best to prioritize waste reduction efforts.

The Fellow will work in residence at SESYNC in Annapolis, MD and will work with Dr. Mary Muth of RTI as their primary Collaborating Research Mentor.

Preliminary screening applications are due December 1, 2017 and project proposals with collaborating mentors are due January 15. More information and application instructions can be found here.

The Fellows will join a cohort of Postdoctoral Fellows at SESYNC and will take part in the SESYNC Postdoctoral Immersion Program and other professional development opportunities.

Applications for these opportunities will take place in a two-step process. First, submit a Preliminary Screening Application including a combined PDF of your C.V. and a detailed cover letter. Second, successful applicants will be invited to co-develop a project proposal with a collaborating mentor.

Fourth Energy and Society Conference: Energy transitions in a divided world

Midterm conference of the European Sociological Association Research Network 12 – Environment and Society


3 – 5 September 2018, University of Exeter, UK

The Energy & Society Conferences have been aiming at inspiring and providing networking opportunities for researchers interested in energy and society issues. Following the success of the three previous conferences, we will now be hosting the fourth conference in Exeter. We hope this can be a great occasion for developing the sense of community that has been emerging from these meetings, as well as from the conferences of the European Sociological Association. In order to provide a lively forum for insightful debates, the conference will include other formats besides keynote presentations and sessions for oral presentations. Participants will also be able to present and discuss their research in roundtables and in poster sessions. The conference will also offer workshops proposed and organized by participants. Moreover, participants are invited to propose informal meetings, which will be announced during the conference. We hope that the social events will also contribute to make this a pleasant and friendly conference.

More information about the venue, accommodation, how to reach the venue, excursions and the other social events to follow soon.

Call for papers

The deadline for the submission of abstracts and workshop proposals is January 15 2018.

Read more about keynote speakers, scientific committee and submission process.

The Energy and Society Network

Find out more about the Network and how to become a member.

Weekly Energy News Update-November 11th

Apologies for a lapse in the Weekly Update while I was attending Aquatech Amsterdam 2017 and taking a much needed but brief rest in Prague. This weeks update is a bit longer than usual.

I want to start this week off by sharing a timely article from Dissent written by plant scientist Stan Cox.

Renewables Alone Won’t Save Us (Dissent)

Cox draws on Energy Justice to critique the 100 percent renewables vision that has been promoted, primarily, by the research of Mark Jacobson at Stanford. Previous Energy News Updates have mentioned Jacobson’s research as well as the recently published technical critiques. But Cox’s approach is important because he asks a very tough question: “what are we hoping for?” He argues that if we hope renewables will carry us along at a high-energy economic rate of growth then our expectations are bound to be dashed. But more importantly, that business-as-usual growth only ensures the economic and social inequalities that exist today will continue into the future. The need for an energy revolution provides an opportunity for us to change the way we think not just about technical problems and solutions, but also about our aspirations of a society as a whole. He suggests a pretty heavy handed solution: establish regulatory limits on the total quantity of energy consumed in production and consumption. For some I imagine this will bring to mind words like “planned economy”, an idea which of course comes with some pretty heavy historical baggage. Regardless, his argument deserves critical consideration, particularly as we confront the way the climate negotiations are being manipulated in Bonn this week. Cox is correct to argue that, politically speaking, the Paris negotiations of 2015 seem far away from where we are today. This seems to be further evidenced by a recent Reuters report of how the fossil fuel industry now views issues like Peak Oil.

Peak oil? Majors aren’t buying into the threat from renewables (Reuters)

Overall, I think Cox’s message is that there is still a lot of hard work yet to be done. Maybe the rest of this update stimulates you into action…which is why this week begins with:


Solar XL (350.org)

This idea to install solar panels on the land where a pipeline is planned to be buried seems a pretty savvy way to stay ahead of the discourse promoted by the fossil fuel industry. But we will have to pay attention to how these interventions play out. Alternatively, I suppose you could just go to a Fossil Free House Party ??!! (I wish this was a joke from the Onion…but sadly it is not)


How much energy do those programs save? New tool aims to track and boost efficiency (UtilityDive)


Hedge funds go all-in on oil (Reuters)

With hedge funds now making money off of the expectation of a steady demand for oil consumption what incentive is there for Big Finance to promote investments in renewables over fossil fuels? Of course, if you’d like a less cynical perspective see here

BP, Shell lead plan for blockchain-based platform for energy trading (Reuters)

Canadian dollar loosens close ties with oil on energy investment doubts (Reuters)

China’s CEFC, Rosneft to study South China petrochemical complex (Reuters)

Two interesting things to note: 1) These petrochemical complexes have been the target of protests throughout China since 2007. 2) Hainan has been an extremely popular vacation spot for wealthy Russian tourists for at least the past decade.

U.S. Justice pledges to prosecute activists who damage pipelines (Reuters)

EU plans rule change to snag Russian pipeline (Reuters)

Keystone XL pipe has adequate commercial support (Reuters)

Kinder Morgan Canada denied expedited appeal for oil pipeline (Reuters)

Court lifts stay for Williams Atlantic Sunrise natgas pipe (Reuters)


Peruvian farmer squares up to German power giant in climate lawsuit (Reuters)

A truly fascinating case. Perhaps a glimpse of what lies ahead in terms of climate litigation against fossil fuel corporations?

Lebanese offshore oil and gas licensing round continues despite political crisis (Reuters)

Europe and China to raise global climate ambitions (China Dialogue)

With CoP 23 in full swing some of the comments in this exchange are important. Particularly the way Zou Ji explains Chinese investments in coal fired power plants overseas.

Transocean Oil loses Singapore fuel supply licence in crackdown (Reuters)

There’s a Shady Puerto Rico Contract You Didn’t Hear About (Intercept)

Puerto Rico Cancels Whitefish Energy Contract to Rebuild Power Lines (NYTimes)

This decision was actually made just hours after I published the last News update.  Sadly (but perhaps not surprisingly) power generation went down to 18% yesterday after a transmission line “repaired” by Whitefish went down.

Puerto Rico oversight head urges Congress to reaffirm federal control over PREPA (UtilityDive)

Five things the new government should do to help Kenya meet its energy needs (Conversation)

Ex-BP official received payouts, perks (Washington Times)

U.S. withdraws from extractive industries anti-corruption effort (Reuters)

U.S. energy chief says fossil fuels could help prevent sexual assaults in Africa (Reuters)

Scientists decry Arctic oil expansion in letter to U.S. senators (Reuters)

Icahn subpoenaed by U.S. on biofuels dealing (Reuters)


These New Solar Cells Are Modeled After a Fly’s Eye (Smithsonian)

Very cool to see an article like this in the Smithsonian.

JinkoSolar’s Monocrystalline PERC Solar Cell Efficiency of 23.45% Verified (EnergyTrend)

Enevate Announces 5-Minute Extreme Fast Charge Battery Technology for Electric Vehicles (EnergyTrend)


Honda at fault in complaint over Pakistan gasoline, oil cos say (Reuters)

This Hybrid Electric Jet is Preparing for Takeoff in 2022 (IEEE)

China plans pilot scheme easing foreign auto firms’ ownership limits (Reuters)

Odd-Even Scheme: IGL to issue CNG stickers for vehicles from Friday (India Times)


U.S. sets final anti-subsidy duties on Argentine, Indonesian biodiesel (Reuters)

Ethanol-based fuel becomes top-selling petrol in France on tax break (Reuters)

New bio-fuel policy soon to address Delhi smog like situations (India Times)

Brazil mills eye corn-cane flex plant to extend production cycle (Reuters)


Indian power plant blast death toll climbs to 29 (Reuters)

Duke’s Answer to Saving Coal Power Plants: Let Them Burn Gas (Bloomberg)

Empire plans pivot to wind energy generation: Proposed plan would close Asbury coal plant (Joplin Globe)

China may bankroll Adani’s Carmichael mine, statements show (Guardian)

Don’t protest movement of coal, oppose pollution (India Times)

Michael Bloomberg’s ‘war on coal’ goes global with $50m fund (Guardian)

Italy keeps foot on gas as it calls for early end to coal (Reuters)

Climate activists stage protest at German coal-fired power plant (AP)

US firm Air Products, China’s Yankuang plan to build $3.5 bln coal-to-syngas plant in China (Reuters)


As China faces winter gas crunch, LNG prices soar (Reuters)

Amazing how nearly every article about natural gas for the past week has somehow been connected to the PRC’s shift to the resource for winter heating in the north.

China deal seen as no guarantee for Alaska LNG export project (Reuters)

China Energy Investment signs MOU for $83.7 bln in West Virginia projects (Reuters)

CNPC plans to cut gas supplies to industrial users (Reuters)

Six years after tremors halted fracking, Britain ready to try again (Reuters)


China says will keep talking to Myanmar over stalled dam scheme (Reuters)

Post-Doklam, India, Bhutan hold bilateral development talks (IANS)

BCUC report casts shadow over Site C future (Toronto Metro)

For those interested in the detailed report see here

House acts to boost hydro, simplify licensing process (UtilityDive)

Hydroelectric dams threaten Brazil’s mysterious Pantanal – one of the world’s great wetlands (Conversation)

Honduran authorities define details of planned hydroelectric plants (Hydroworld)

112-MW Gribo-Popoli hydropower project in Western Africa moving forward (Hydroworld)


Marine energy company in Scotland makes plans to further investment towards commercialization (Hydroworld)

OERA announces $1.25 million funding for tidal energy research in Canada (Hydroworld)


Nuclear accident sends ‘harmless’ radioactive cloud over Europe (Guardian)

It is not the radioactive cloud that actually makes me worried, rather it is the fact that no one knows (or will admit) where it came from…

Cameco to suspend production from McArthur River mine, reduce dividend (Reuters)

Iran acquires atomic battery technology (IANS)

Is Zuma’s nuclear gamble still in play? (Daily Maverick)

End may be nearing for Diablo Canyon nuclear plant (San Francisco Chronicle)

French nuclear safety authority to rule on EDF reactor lifespan in 2020-21 (Reuters)

France to take a decade longer to reduced reliance on nuclear (Reuters)


Sri Lanka limits fuel supplies after delay in import shipment (Reuters)

Sri Lanka gets 40,000 tonnes of petrol from UAE amid fuel shortage (Reuters)

Oil turns from Modi’s blessing to burden threatening economy (Bloomberg)

Ghana’s maritime boundary victory to spark crude oil bounty (AFP)

Anger seethes on margins of historic clean-up in Nigeria’s Delta (Reuters)

Exxon Will Pay $2.5 Million for Pollution at Gulf Coast Plants (NYTimes)

Shell Enchilada oil platform in Gulf of Mexico shut after fire (Reuters)

Russia’s Yaroslavl refinery back to normal after fire (Reuters)

Saudi oil supplies to Bahrain resumed after pipeline blast (Reuters)

Kenya offers bigger share of oil revenue to local communities (Reuters)

U.S. oil service firms face hit from Venezuela debt restructuring (Reuters)

Chevron green lights its first Canadian shale development (Reuters)

Shell to hand over Iraq’s Majnoon oilfield by end June 2018 (Reuters)

Iraqi Kurds’ Independence Vote Exposed Risks to Energy Strategy (NYTimes)

Iraq’s Kurdistan makes $100 million monthly payment to oil producers despite crisis (Reuters)


Sterling and Wilson Expands Its Solar EPC Footprint in Australia (EnergyTrend)

Solar scam retrains focus on corruption under Congress’ watch (India Times)

More work needed to widen renewables, solar (IANS)


As Wind Power Sector Grows, Turbine Makers Feel the Squeeze (NYTimes)

Germany’s KfW lends $70 mln for Bosnian wind project (Reuters)

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