Breaking the Bubble (2/15/2023)

Madison Kurtz, Staff Writer


Last Monday a mass shooting killed three Michigan State University students and critically injured five. According to MSU police, 43 year old Anthony Dwayne McRae opened fire on two different parts of campus before he was found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He has no known connections to the university. The police also found a note in McRae’s pocket that suggested he was also a threat to Ewing Public Schools in New Jersey where he has local ties. This shooting is the sixty-seventh in the U.S. since the start of 2023, 12 of which have been at schools. The FBI is currently investigating the history of the shooter in order to try and understand his motivations. What is known about him is his history of mental illness and an arrest in 2019 by Lansing police for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. He also pleaded guilty to possession of a loaded firearm in a vehicle and was discharged from probation in May 2021.

The U.S. EPA submitted its final proposal to the White House of a plan to eliminate interstate soot pollution from the power sector last Tuesday. The plan would require the power industry to stop polluting nitrogen oxides which would stop power plants from worsening air quality even hundreds of miles away from the source itself. The EPA docket has received over 112,000 comments including those of big energy companies who argue that the EPA has wildly underestimated the cost of its plan. Kinder Morgan, Inc. estimates the plan would cost them $4.1 billion in upgrades and retrofits to 950 engines along its pipelines, which carry 40 percent of the natural gas consumed in the country. This estimate is 16 times higher than that of the EPA. The final rule on the plan is expected March 23. 


Cyclone Gabrielle hit New Zealand’s coast last Monday just after unprecedented downpours and flooding that killed four people. A national state of emergency was called which has only occurred on two other occasions in the country’s history: during the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. The weather event has caused so much widespread damage that Australia and the United Kingdom have pledged to help. Millions of people have been without power due to extreme river flooding. The government has blamed this extreme weather event on climate change. 

The European Union’s clean-energy transition plan just received strict regulations for what qualifies as a renewable hydrogen factory in an effort to prevent greenwashing. For a hydrogen factory’s product to be considered renewable, qualify for financial incentives and be used to meet the EU’s renewable-energy targets, they must sign power-supply contracts with renewable power projects no older than three years and be located in the same or an adjoining region of Europe’s electricity market. Additionally, the factory must show the total quantity of product produced along with their clean electricity consumed over a 30 day period. These regulations will shape companies’ costly investments in hydrogen factories for the foreseeable future. By 2030, the EU aims to produce 10 million metric tons of clean fuels which will require 14 percent of the EU’s total electricity in that year. Governments everywhere are looking into the efficacy of a switch from fossil fuels to hydrogen and electricity generation in industrial activities. The United States, Europe and other areas are planning to invest hundreds of billions of dollars on electrically powered hydrogen factories. The U.S. Treasury Department is also determining their own regulations that could allow green hydrogen producers to qualify for billions of dollars in tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act.

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