The Dernogalizer

October 15, 2010

Obama Administration Environmental News

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 10:59 pm
Tags: ,

The Environmental Protection Agency has been kind enough to begin sending out regular e-mail updates with press releases about actions difference agencies in the administration are doing to move us forward on sustainability.  Below are a few highlights from the e-mail.

Climate Change Adaptation Task Force

On October 14, 2010, the Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, co-chaired by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), released its interagency report outlining recommendations to President Obama for how Federal Agency policies and programs can better prepare the United States to respond to the impacts of climate change.  The report recommends that the Federal Government implement actions to expand and strengthen the Nation’s capacity to better understand, prepare for, and respond to climate change.  These recommended actions include:

  • Make adaptation a standard part of Agency planning to ensure that resources are invested wisely and services and operations remain effective in a changing climate.
  • Ensure scientific information about the impacts of climate change is easily accessible so public and private sector decision-makers can build adaptive capacity into their plans and activities.
  • Align Federal efforts to respond to climate impacts that cut across jurisdictions and missions, such as those that threaten water resources, public health, oceans and coasts, and communities.
  • Develop a U.S. strategy to support international adaptation that leverages resources across the Federal Governmentto help developing countries reduce their vulnerability to climate change through programs that are consistent with the core principles and objectives of the President’s new Global Development Policy.
  • Build strong partnerships to support local, state, and tribal decision makers in improving management of places and infrastructure most likely to be affected by climate change.

The Task Force’s work has been guided by a strategic vision of a resilient, healthy, and prosperous Nation in the face of a changing climate.  To achieve this vision, the Task Force identified a set of guiding principles that public and private decision-makers should consider in designing and implementing adaptation strategies.  They include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Adopt Integrated Approaches:  Adaptation should be incorporated into core policies, planning, practices, and programs whenever possible.
  • Prioritize the Most Vulnerable:  Adaptation strategies should help people, places, and infrastructure that are most vulnerable to climate impacts and be designed and implemented with meaningful involvement from all parts of society.
  • Use Best-Available Science:  Adaptation should be grounded in the best-available scientific understanding of climate change risks, impacts, and vulnerabilities.
  • Apply Risk-Management Methods and Tools:  Adaptation planning should incorporate risk-management methods and tools to help identify, assess, and prioritize options to reduce vulnerability to potential environmental, social, and economic implications of climate change.
  • Apply Ecosystem-based Approaches:  Adaptation should, where appropriate, take into account strategies to increase ecosystem resilience and protect critical ecosystem services on which humans depend, to reduce vulnerability of human and natural systems to climate change.

The Task Force will continue to meet over the next year as an interagency forum for discussing the Federal Government’s adaptation approach and to support and monitor the implementation of recommended actions in the Progress Report.  It will prepare another report in October 2011 that documents progress toward implementing its recommendations and provides additional recommendations for refining the Federal approach to adaptation, as appropriate.


The Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Progress Report is available here.


Department of Energy Offers Conditional Commitment for a Loan Guarantee to Support World’s Largest Wind Project

Recovery Act-Supported Loan Will Create Jobs and Avoid Over 1.2 Million Tons of Carbon Pollution Annually


Washington – U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced a conditional commitment to provide a partial guarantee for a $1.3 billion loan in support of the world’s largest wind farm to date.  The loan will finance the Caithness Shepherds Flat wind project, an 845 megawatt wind-powered electrical generating facility in eastern Oregon sponsored by Caithness Energy LLC and General Electric (GE) Energy Financial Services.


“Thanks to the Recovery Act, we are creating the clean energy jobs of the future while positioning the U.S. as a world leader in the production of renewable energy,” said Secretary Chu.  “This project is part of the Administration’s commitment to doubling our renewable energy generation by 2012 while putting Americans to work in communities across the country.”


The Caithness Shepherds Flat wind project consists of 338 wind turbines supplied by GE.  The project will use GE’s 2.5xl turbines, which are designed to provide high efficiency and increased reliability, maintainability and grid integration. The wind farm is the first in North America to deploy these turbines, which have been used in Europe and Asia.  Once completed, the project will sell 100 percent of the power generated to Southern California Edison through 20-year fixed price power purchase agreements.  The wind facility will avoid 1,215,991 tons of carbon dioxide per year, equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 212,141 passenger vehicles. According to Caithness, the project will directly create 400 construction jobs, followed by 35 permanent jobs on site.


The Caithness Shepherds Flat project is the largest project to date to receive an offer of a conditional commitment for a loan guarantee under the Financial Institution Partnership Program (FIPP), a Department of Energy program supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  In a FIPP financing, the Department of Energy guarantees up to 80 percent of a loan provided to a renewable energy project by qualified financial institutions.  The $1.3 billion loan is expected to be funded by a group of institutional investors and commercial banks led by Citi, as lender-applicant and joint lead arranger, and three other joint lead arrangers, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd., RBS Securities and WestLB Securities Inc.


For more information, please visit


EPA Awards $1.5 Million in Environmental Education Grants

WASHINGTON – In an effort to improve environmental literacy and stewardship across the country, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded more than $1.5 million in grants to 14 organizations in 11 states and the District of Columbia.  The organizations will use the money to fund environmental education efforts, which work to inform the public of environmental issues and help them make educated choices on actions they can take to reduce negative environmental impacts.


“Every American community relies on clean air, water and land for their environmental and economic health. We want to help expand awareness on how they can get involved in environmental protection,” EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said. ”These grants will help communities across the country show how a clean environment starts at home.”


The grants help EPA expand the conversation on environmentalism by increasing the number of underserved audiences that participate in the agency’s programs and activities. This year, some of the grant money went toward helping tribal communities set up leadership programs, letting students step outside the classroom in order to learn about the environment, and working to help students understand the importance of water quality, among many other projects. Highlights from this year’s recipients include:


  • The Native Wellness Institute of Portland, Ore. received $102,000 to implement the “Native Youth Environment Warriors” project, which will provide environmental education and leadership training and support to native youth and their community mentors to design and implement environmental projects in their tribal communities.


  • The Island Institute of Rockland, Maine received nearly $124,000 for the “Energy for Maine” project, which includes community discussions and analysis of renewable energy sources. The project is aiming to increase home and school energy efficiency through student/teacher, and family-generated solutions for reducing energy consumption.


The annual awards are given to nonprofit organizations, government agencies, community groups, schools and universities. The recipients of the 2010 competition represent a mix of organizations addressing a variety of environmental issues from climate change to water quality, and dealing with local, regional, or national issues.


EPA awards the funds under the 1990 National Environmental Education Act, which gives the agency the authority to support and create environmental education programs nationwide.


More information about EPA’s environmental education grants recipients:


EPA Awards $1.9 Million in Environmental Justice Grants
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $1.9 million in environmental justice grants to 76 non-profit organizations and local governments working on environmental justice issues nationwide. The grants are designed to help communities understand and address environmental challenges and create self-sustaining, community-based partnerships focused on improving human health and the environment at the local level. The grant program supports Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s priority to expand the conversation on environmentalism and work for environmental justice.

“Through our efforts to support local environmental justice projects, we are advancing EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment in communities overburdened by pollution,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Providing training to develop a skilled green workforce will help communities become more resilient in the face of economic and environmental changes and help build healthy and sustainable communities.”

The principles of environmental justice uphold the idea that all communities overburdened by pollution – particularly minority, low income and indigenous communities – deserve the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, equal access to the decision-making process and a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.

In addition to the traditional criteria, EPA encouraged applications focused on addressing the disproportionate impacts of climate change in communities by emphasizing climate equity, energy efficiency, renewable energy, local green economy, and green jobs capacity building. Grantee projects include trainings for local residents to increase recycling, avoiding heat stroke, improving indoor air quality, reducing carbon emissions through weatherization, and green jobs training programs.

Since 1994, the Environmental Justice Small Grants program has provided more than $21 million in funding to community-based nonprofit organizations and local governments working to address environmental justice issues in more than 1,200 communities. The $1.9 million in grant funding announced today is the largest amount of total funding in one year for environmental justice grants in more than a decade. The grant awards represent EPA’s commitment to promoting community-based actions to address environmental justice issues.

More information on the Environmental Justice Small Grants program and a list of grantees:






December 1, 2009

Topsy Turvy Environmental Awareness Bus Educates Students

A bus with an interesting design(a bus upside down on a bus) that travels the country educating Jewish youth about sustainability stopped by the University of Maryland Campus yesterday.  Here’s the article from the Diamondback, along with a few excerpts below.

“The Topsy Turvy Bus rolled onto the campus yesterday, ready to throw students’ perceptions about energy sources for a loop. The bus is a regular school bus with another upside-down school bus stacked on top. But that’s not its only claim to fame — the bus runs solely on deep-fryer grease.”

“The bus contained a few beds and a long table that held a filtering device used to help run the bus on its unusual fuel. The bus was painted on the sides with the Teva Learning Center emblem along with those of other Jewish environmental groups.

“We collect used oil that’s dirty and still has the breading from whatever was being fried,” campaign team member Baruch Schwadron said. “We have a centrifuge, which is state of the art technology that filters the oil down so we can use it in the main tank.”

“Sarah Levine, a senior Jewish studies major, also enjoyed the tour and saw a deeper meaning in the environmentally friendly bus.

“I think that the Teva bus is a symbol for change towards Jewish environmentalism,” Levine said.

The university was the bus’s 10th stop on its nationwide tour of Jewish communities, which began in March. Stadlin said there are still another 30 stops to go until it reaches its final destination in California.”


September 15, 2009

Engaged University Column

Filed under: University of Maryland — Matt Dernoga @ 1:10 am
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I have a column out today in the Diamondback explaining why the University of Maryland shouldn’t include its Engaged University program in its budget cuts.

Engaged University: Too important to lose

I’ve always been amazed at how the little things in our lives can add up to make a difference. As a runner, when I’m training for a long-distance race, eating a little bit healthier allows me to hit a time I would otherwise barely miss.

The pop quiz I didn’t take seriously ends up being the 1 percent I could’ve used to get a higher grade. The sport or instrument we play can shape us even if it’s just a hobby.

This past summer, I was meeting a friend of mine for lunch, and she asked if we could stop by Engaged University. Apparently Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) was making a visit. I had heard of Engaged University, but really didn’t know what it was or what it did. I had talked to students who volunteered there before, but was never filled in on how important it was until now.

Engaged University, a part of the university’s statewide Cooperative Extension system that is located within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and based in Riverdale, is in danger of losing university funding.

There were three parts of the program that Hoyer visited along with other spectators. First was the Master Peace Community Farm, a garden divided into four segments that includes included an urban farm, family-run plots, and one for youth overseen by local middle and high school students. I found the youth plot the most interesting, as there were some kids working on it during the visit. They were asking Hoyer questions about the value of locally grown food as a fuel-saver because it doesn’t have to be shipped, and asking why their school lunches didn’t include healthy food like they were growing.

The second part was the Renaissance Community Youth Bike Shop, which repairs and refurbishes abandoned bikes from the campus and community. The shop teaches kids how to make these repairs and gives away free bicycles for kids who volunteer their time. It was promoting alternative transportation, exercise, teaching new skills, and teaching the value of reusing and recycling. It would be helpful if more kids had places like Engaged University to go to during the summer and after school. To his credit Hoyer hopped onto a pedal powered electricity generator and lit up light bulbs behind him.

The last stop was a biodiesel fueling station, powered by a small wind turbine and a solar panel. Engaged U makes the biodiesel from waste vegetable oil, and uses it to serve about 30 people in the community who are part of a biodiesel co-op. If this were adopted in more communities on a larger scale, I could see it playing a role in reducing our oil dependence. I watched the visitors drive away. Then it clicked.

The purpose of EU is to provide members of the surrounding community knowledge and resources for improving their quality of life. It’s to serve as a testing ground for solutions to challenges our country faces, put into practice by ordinary people.

There are some things you can’t teach inside a classroom. There are some things you have to see and do to understand their value. These are the intangibles in our society. The little things that add up to make or break us. Don’t throw this one away.

Matt Dernoga is a senior government and politics major. He can be reached at dernoga at umdbk dot com

August 17, 2009

College Students flocking to Sustainability Degrees

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 1:45 pm
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As a college student, I can attest that this is happening at my university, with new majors and minors related to sustainability, the environment, and clean energy are being created.  USA Today has an article which talks about this change and gives a lot of good examples.  I’m reposting below.

College students are flocking to sustainability degrees, careers

By Jillian Berman, USA TODAY

Students interested in pursuing a job in sustainability now can choose from a variety of “green” degree programs.

With an increased interest in the environment and growth in the “green collar” job sector, colleges and universities are beginning to incorporate sustainability into their programs. From MBAs in sustainable-business practices to programs that give students the technical training necessary to operate wind turbines, students have an increasing array of options to choose from.

GOING GREEN: Strikes a chord with colleges

VERMONT: Students dig into organic farming

IN-DEPTH: Get your eco-score, see latest environmental headlines

“Clearly, demand is there for these types of workers,” says Marisa Michaud of Eduventures, a higher-education research and consulting firm. “Colleges are seeing that, and they want to provide appropriate educational programs to meet that demand.”

Concern for the environment is the motivation, says Julian Dautremont-Smith of the Association for Sustainability in Higher Education.

FIND MORE STORIES IN: University of Pennsylvania | The Princeton Review | Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

“The past few years, society as a whole has become increasingly interested in sustainability,” he says. “Higher education has been swept up as well.”

David Soto of The Princeton Review says student interest is driving colleges to create programs that offer training in sustainability. Two-thirds of students surveyed for the company’s recent “College Hopes and Worries” survey said a college’s “environmental commitment” would be a factor in where they applied.

“Students are really savvy shoppers these days, so they’re realizing, with a changing economy and green jobs looking to take a leap within the next couple of years, that they want to be armed with those types of skills,” Soto says.

Green — not greed — is good

One popular program is an MBA that teaches skills for operating sustainable businesses.

A University of Pennsylvania program that started this year lets students earn an MBA and a master’s in environmental studies at the same time.

“There’s an increasing interest among businesses to take the environment seriously,” says Eric Orts, director of the Wharton School‘s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership at Penn.

“Our take is you really need to have the science background and some other approaches that are not normally taught in the business school context,” he says.

Architecture schools are responding to the increased interest in energy-efficient buildings.

Christoph Reinhart, associate professor of architectural technology at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, says the school’s decision last summer to start offering a concentration in sustainable design was driven by interest from students and changes in the field.

“Over the past few years, there has been an increased interest and pressure to provide this knowledge in more depth, whereas before, maybe a class would have been sufficient,” he says. “Now there’s an expectation that more of these skills are being learned.”

Newly minted grads

Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability graduated its first class in May. The school offers a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science in sustainability as well as a graduate degree.

Charles Redman, the director of the School of Sustainability, says the school takes an interdisciplinary approach.

Student Drew Bryck says what drew him to the school was the opportunity to study biology, economics and a variety of other fields.

Bryck says he is “fairly confident” his degree will help him land a job because the need for people with a well-rounded background in sustainability is growing, especially in the private sector.

The program resonates with students, Redman says; 300 undergraduates enrolled the first year it was offered.

Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., will require all students to take at least one class that explores the human connection to the environment.

Dina El-Mogazi, director of the Campus Greening Initiative, says courses in a variety of disciplines will fulfill the requirement.

“We feel that it’s very important, given the current state of the world, that students understand both the way the environment supports human life and the way human decisions” affect the environment’s ability to function.

A growing number of schools, including community colleges, are training students to operate green technology.

Kalamazoo (Mich.) Valley Community College will offer a 26-week program starting in October to train students in operating wind turbines.

Jim DeHaven, vice president for economic and business development at the college, says the school is offering the program to meet the needs of wind farms that are “scrambling” for trained technicians.

“They can really write their own future at this point because they’re needed at all the wind farms,” he says. “They don’t want us to wait and put people through a two-year program or a one-year certification — they want a fast track to employment.”

May 14, 2009

More Hillock Coverage


Im the guy in the middle

I'm the guy in the middle

There’s already been plenty of media coverage involving the Wooded Hillock issue on the University of Maryland campus.  There was another article in the Prince Georges County Gazette today, and I was fortunate enough to be in the picture the photographer took.  I’m going to post the article below.  Just to give an insider’s update, the current issue is still that the university is open to considering other sites, but right now they are moving forward as if they’re going to develop the Hillock.  I have a feel that will change considering the Prince George’s County Council is going to have a thing or two to say regarding the Hillock before they approve the East Campus development.  If you look at the first link I provided, you’ll find a way to contact the council and influence their decision.  A welcome shift in stance would be the university to start looking for an alternate location site on their own, rather than passing the buck to students that are trying to hold them accountable, but don’t have anywheres near the resources available to do a thorough analysis of alternite sites that the university would seriously consider.


Students to meet with UM officials over East Campus debate

School, critics clash over plan to bulldoze nine acres

by David Hill | Staff Writer

Administration officials at the University of Maryland, College Park will meet Wednesday with students concerning the school’s controversial plan to remove nine acres of on-campus forest to make room for its East Campus project.

The university is scheduled to level nine acres of a 22-acre wooded hillock behind Comcast Center to clear space for mailing and vehicle maintenance facilities that will be displaced by the $900 million project, which will bring housing and retail shops to the area on Route 1, across from the campus’ main entrance.

Students, faculty and environmental groups have criticized the move, calling it contradictory to the university’s environmentally-friendly image. On Friday, about 25 students and faculty picketed an on-campus ceremony honoring the school as an arboretum and botanical garden.

“The university’s really being two-faced,” said Phil Hannam, a 22-year-old senior at the school. “Making a statement like that publicly but then in our own backyard chopping down one of the last remaining spots of forest on campus.”

Three of the students who led the protest, Davey Rogner, Joanna Calabrese and Hannam, two days earlier declined to attend a May 6 meeting with Ann Wylie, the university’s vice president of administrative affairs. The three said they sent her a letter on May 1 voicing their concerns but received no reply.

“We wanted to get a response from them before we went,” said Calabrese, 21, senior vice president of the school’s Student Government Association.

University officials defended the plan, saying they appointed a committee that carefully considered 12 sites from 2005 to 2007 before choosing the hillock, which they said offered the best combination of cost, proximity to campus, low visibility and minimal environmental impact.

“What we have done is try to balance a number of very difficult issues and come up with an optimum solution,” said Frank Brewer, the school’s associate vice president of facilities management.

Some critics argued that the university made its decision with little to no student or faculty input and should re-open the selection process, which they believe was incomplete and too heavily driven by cost.

“I think they need to find an alternative to that site … my suggestion is they find a parking lot on which to build those facilities,” said Jack Sullivan, a professor of landscape architecture at the university who attended the May 6 meeting and Friday’s protest.

When Rogner and Calabrese spoke before the College Park City Council April 28, they proposed a series of compromises that the university could make if it chooses to proceed in bulldozing the hillock. These included restoring 18 acres of forest elsewhere in Prince George’s County, improving water quality in on-campus creeks and protecting the remaining 13 acres of wooded hillock.

Wylie said that while she is “doubtful” that a new site will ultimately be selected, she is still inviting the plan’s critics to offer alternate solutions.

“I’m not going to close the door,” Wylie said. “They have to find something this committee did not find.”

E-mail David Hill at

January 22, 2009

Solutions from the Green Economy

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 7:16 pm
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A green non-profit group called Green America has proposed a number of fixes for the economic troubles which I very intelligent and in my opinion exactly what the country should be doing.  I think these suggestions would provide sustainable and just economic growth, and I wanted to repost the short and sweet version of their ideas below, and also to provide this link for great elaboration on each point they make.  Enjoy!


Solutions from the Green Economy
January 15, 2008

Green economyEveryone now understands that the economy is broken.

While many name the mortgage and credit-default-swap crises as culprits, they are only the most recent indicators of an economy with fatal design flaws. Our economy has long been based on what economist Herman Daly calls “uneconomic growth” where increases in the GDP come at an expense in resources and well-being that is worth more than the goods and services provided.  When GNP growth exacerbates social and environmental problems—from sweatshop labor to manufacturing toxic chemicals—every dollar of GNP growth reduces well-being for people and the planet, and we’re all worse off.

Our fatally flawed economy creates economic injustice, poverty, and environmental crises. It doesn’t have to be that way. We can create a green economy: one that serves people and the planet and offers antidotes to the current breakdown.
Here are six green-economy solutions to today’s economic mess.

1. Green Energy—Green Jobs
A crucial starting place to rejuvenate our economy is to focus on energy. It’s time to call in the superheroes of the green energy revolution—energy efficiency, solar and wind power, and plug-in hybrids—and put their synergies to work with rapid, large-scale deployment. This is a powerful way to jumpstart the economy, spur job creation (with jobs that can’t be outsourced), declare energy independence, and claim victory over the climate crisis.

2. Clean Energy Victory Bonds
How are we going to pay for this green energy revolution? We at Green America propose Clean Energy Victory Bonds. Modeled after victory bonds in World War II, Americans would buy these bonds from the federal government to invest in large-scale deployment of green energy projects, with particular emphasis in low-income communities hardest hit by the broken economy. These would be long-term bonds, paying an annual interest rate, based in part on the energy and energy savings that the bonds generate. During WWII, 85 million Americans bought over $185 billion in bonds—that would be almost $2 trillion in today’s dollars.

3. Reduce, Reuse, Rethink
Living lightly on the Earth, saving resources and money, and sharing (jobs, property, ideas, and opportunities) are crucial principles for restructuring our economy. This economic breakdown is, in part, due to living beyond our means—as a nation and as individuals. With the enormous national and consumer debt weighing us down, we won’t be able to spend our way out of this economic problem. Ultimately, we need an economy that’s not dependent on unsustainable growth and consumerism. So it’s time to rethink our over-consumptive lifestyles, and turn to the principles of elegant simplicity, such as planting gardens, conserving energy, and working cooperatively with our neighbors to share resources and build resilient communities.

4. Go Green and Local
When we do buy, it is essential that those purchases benefit the green and local economy—so that every dollar helps solve social and environmental problems, not create them. Our spending choices matter. We can support our local communities by moving dollars away from conventional agribusiness and big-box stores and toward supporting local workers, businesses, and organic farmers.

5. Community Investing
All over the country, community investing banks, credit unions, and loan funds that serve hard-hit communities are strong, while the biggest banks required bailouts. The basic principles of community investing keep such institutions strong: Lenders and borrowers know each other. Lenders invest in the success of their borrowers—with training and technical assistance along with loans. And the people who provide the capital to the lenders expect reasonable, not speculative, returns. If all banks followed these principles, the economy wouldn’t be in the mess it’s in today.

6. Shareowner Activism
When you own stock, you have the right and responsibility to advise management to clean up its act. Had GM listened to shareholders warning that relying on SUVs would be its downfall, it would have invested in greener technologies, and would not have needed a bailout. Had CitiGroup listened to its shareowners, it would have avoided the faulty mortgage practices that brought it to its knees. Engaged shareholders are key to reforming conventional companies for the transition to this new economy – the green economy that we are building together.

It’s time to move from greed to green.

–Alisa Gravitz

January 5, 2009

747 Airline Flown on 50% Biofuels

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 6:43 pm
Tags: , ,

I want to share a neat article in the NY Times about an airline in New Zealand which test ran one of it’s 747’s on 50% biofuels from a plant called the jatropha plant. This plant seems to be one of the more ideal types of biofuels because of how easily it can be grown and how much fuel you can yield from it. I think airlines should be looking at how to reduce their dependency on oil as a top priority since oil prices will go back up. The airline which doesn’t feel that as badly in their bottom line will have a huge advantage in the industry. A lot of passengers would also prefer to fly on the greenest airline so long as the cost is reasonable.

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