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April 06, 2011 - Image 3

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-04-06

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, A pril 6, 2011 - 3A

Congress votes
to repeal part of
healthcare law
Congress sent the White
House its first rollback of last
year's health care law yesterday, a
bipartisan repeal of a burdensome
tax reporting requirement that's
widely unpopular with business-
es. Even President Barack Obama
is eager to see it gone.
The Senate voted 87 to 12 to
repeal the filing requirement,
which would have forced mil-
lions of businesses to file tax
forms for every vendor selling
them more than $600 in goods
each year, starting in 2012. The
filing requirement is unrelated
to health care. However, it would
have been used to pay for part of
the new health law.
Republicans hope it is the first
of many such bills, resulting in
the entire health care law being
scrapped. Democrats say the bill
is part of an inevitable tinkering
that will be needed to improve the
health measure.
QUITO, Ecuador
Equador expels
U.S. ambassador
Ecuador said yesterday it is
expelling the U.S. ambassador
over a diplomatic cable divulged
by WikiLeaks that accuses a
newly retired police chief of a
long history of corruption and
speculates that President Rafael
Correa was aware of it.
Foreign Minister Ricardo
Patino announced Ambassador
Heather Hodges' expulsion at a
news conference.
Patino said the ambassador,
called to his office the previous
afternoon, had not explained
what led her to suggest in the
2009 cable that Correa knew of
"supposed acts of corruption by
members of the police leadership
and more specifically the former
commander of the institution,
Jaime Hurtado Vaca."
Record ozone loss
seen this winter
The depletion of the ozone
layer shielding Earth from dam-
aging ultraviolet rays has reached
an unprecedented low over the
Arctic this spring because of
harmful chemicals and a cold
winter, the U.N. weather agency
said yesterday.
The Earth's fragile ozone layer
in the Arctic region has suffered a
loss of about 40 percent from the
start of winter until late March,
exceeding the previous season-
al loss of about 30 percent, the
World Meteorological Organiza-
tion said.
The Geneva-based agency
blamed the loss on a buildup of
ozone-eating chemicals once
widely used as coolants and fire
retardants in a variety of appli-
ances and on very cold tempera-

tures in the stratosphere, the
second major layer of the Earth's
atmosphere, just above the tropo-

Big House to
get two 4,000-
LED screens

Vice President of Engineering for Luca Technologies Roland DeBruyn, left, and Verlin Danna, the company's vice presi-
dent of operations, stand at a coal-bed methane well near Gillette, Wyoming.
Companies use microbes
to turn coal to gas in Wyo.

Scientists hope to
double or triple gas
New scientific research has a
pair of energy companies betting
that the future of the U.S. natu-
ral gas industry lies in persuad-
ing microorganisms to treat old
coal deposits like all-you-can eat
Coal, researchers have found,
is full of microbes that consume
the fossil fuel and break it down
into methane gas. Two compa-
nies want to take advantage of
this naturally occurring phe-
nomenon on a large scale to cre-
ate vast amounts of natural gas
in energy-rich places like Wyo-
"Once you figure out the rec-
ipe that feeds the bugs and gets
them reactivated, it's pretty
simple," said Bob Cavnar, chief
executive of Luca Technolo-
Luca and Ciris Energy have
begun experimenting with
using this type of microbe-
friendly formula in gas wells
drilled into coal deposits years
ago. The companies have been
spiking the wells with sub-
stances including calcium,
magnesium, phosphate and
glycerol, which encourage the
micro-organisms to reproduce,
feed and release the coveted
methane gas.
The hope is to get old and
nearly tapped-out coal-bed
methane wells to double or per-
haps triple gas production.
The process works on a
smaller scale, said Michael
Urynowicz, a researcher at the
University of Wyoming who has
studied using microbes to turn
coal into methane.
"The question is, at the field
scale, how economically viable it

will be?" he said.
Some worry it will con-
taminate the groundwater
that supplies more than 6,000
area homes. What Luca calls
"nutrients," Jill Morrison of the
Powder River Basin Resource
Council calls "chemicals."
"They make it sound like it's
yogurt and granola or some-
thing. It's not," Morrison said.
"I'm not saying that maybe this
technology doesn't have some
promise at some point. But I
don't think we're there, and we
don't know enough about it."
The experiment comes in the
midst of a natural gas boom that
has seen companies in several
states just begin to tap vast gas
deposits only now being recog-
nized for their enormous poten-
To many, those reserves look
all the more attractive while the
Japanese nuclear crisis raises
worries about nuclear energy
and the Gulf oil spill casts doubt
on tapping the nation's best
remaining oil deposits.
Butdrillingforgas can require
multimillion-dollar investments
to bore thousands of feet into the
ground. Such wells produce a lot
of gas quickly, Cavnar said, but
production falls off before long,
requiring companies to drill
more and more sites to remain
If successful, the microbe
technology could help prolong
the future of Wyoming's gas
industry, which supports tens of
thousands of jobs and provided
$1.1 billion in tax revenue to the
state in 2009.
Luca officials cast aside
environmental concerns, say-
ing its process for tapping into
natural gas is more eco-friend-
ly and efficient than drilling
because the wells, roads and
pipelines already are in place.
Acquiring methane from exist-
ing coal beds requires very

little new infrastructure, Luca
says, and puts to use byproduct
groundwater by pumping the
water back down into the coal-
bed methane wells.
About 30,000 coal-bed meth-
ane wells have been drilled
in the Powder River Basin in
northeastern Wyoming over
the past 15 years. About half are
nearly or completely tapped out.
"We think the source here is
huge for us to be able to go in and
reactivate those wells and start
producing gas again," Cavnar
Thousands of different
microbes - no one knows
exactly how many species are
down there - live in the thick
coal seams several hundred feet
beneath the rolling prairie in
northeast Wyoming.
Luca has been doing DNA
research to identify the fewer
than 100 species which play dif-
ferent roles in breaking down
the complex organic molecules
in coal into a single simple mol-
ecule, said Roland DeBruyn,
the company's vice president of
"The microbes, they're
really working in communi-
ties," DeBruyn said. "They're
kind of taking different pieces
of the chain apart. And in the
end, you're left with the small-
est pieces of the chain, which is
basically methane."
The other company looking
to tap into the new source of
energy, Ciris Energy, got a $4.8
million matching state grant in
2009 to build an above-ground
pilot facility that would employ
microbes to turn coal into meth-
Wyoming has a substantial
interest in such investments:
About 40 percent of the U.S. coal
supply comes from Wyoming,
providing more than $2 billion
in economic benefit to the state
each year.

New scoreboards
to be installed in
Crisler, Yost arenas
Daily StaffReporter
Visitors to the Big House this
fall will view football games on
LED screens that are 40 per-
cent larger and have new custom
scoring systems, the University
Department First seen on
announced -the wire
Two 4,000-square-foot video
screens will be installed in each
end zone of Michigan Stadium.
Though demolition of the cur-
rent screens began last month,
the new scoreboards will be
installed by this August - in
time for Michigan's first game of
the 2011 season against Western
Michigan on Sept. 3.
The project is slated to cost
about $20 million, according to
a communication to the Univer-
sity Board of Regents submit-
ted by Athletic Director David
Brandon in January. The regents
unanimously approved the plan
at their meeting in January.
The Athletic Department
has employed Texas-based TS
Sports/Lighthouse to replace the
scoreboards in the three facili-
ties, Brandon wrote in a press
release issued yesterday.
"We are excited to partner

with TS Sports on new, state-of-
the-artscoreboards forour three
largest venues," Brandon wrote.
"Our goal is to set a new, higher
standard for our fans' viewing
experience and the game day
atmosphere we create in our
venues. These boards will be an
important first step in achieving
that goal."
Video screens will also be
installed at Yost Ice Arena for
the first time, replacing the are-
na's current scoreboards. The
arena will receive nine, center-
hung LED video displays, the
release stated.
A new center-hungscoreboard
made of 14 LED video displays
will also replace the current
13-year-old scoreboard in Crisler
Arena. The new scoreboard will
be part of a $52 million facelift
of the facility, which calls for
a 63,000- square-foot addition
and an overhaul of the building
that is intended to improve the
fan experience, Brandon wrote
in a Jan. 20 press release.
"Our goal is to create a home
court advantage for our teams
while making the fan experience
memorable from the moment
they walk into the arena," Bran-
don wrote.
Crisler Arena's video equip-
ment will also be converted to
high-definition during the con-
struction, and the Michigan
Sports Television Production
Studio will be relocated to Mich-
igan Stadium until the project is
completed in 2013 or 2014.

E-mail bethlb@michigandaily.com

Ghadafi aides
tempted with

NATO airstrikes finanCIa offers

have strong impact
The international aerial
onslaught against Moammar
Gadhafi's forces has destroyed 30
percent of Libya's military capac-
ity, a senior NATO official said
NATO warplanes have flown
851 sorties in the six days since
the alliance took command of
all operations from a U.S.-led
international force that had been
bombing Libya since March 19.
Dutch Brig. Gen. Mark Van
Uhm said Canadian Lt. Gen.
Charles Bouchard, who com-
mands the Libyan operation
from his headquarters in Naples,
briefed NATO's governing body
"(Bouchard's) assessment is
that we have taken out 30 percent
of the military capacity of the
pro-Gadhafi forces," Van Uhm
-Compiled from
Daily wire reports


Critics worry
incentives will set
bad precedent for
LONDON (AP) - It's an offer
that diplomats hope Moam-
mar Gadhafi's family and top
aides can't refuse: If they pub-
licly withdraw support for the
Libyan dictator's regime, the
restrictions on their assets and
travel plans could be made to
The U.S. Treasury and Brit-
ain's Foreign Office have spelled
out the details of the proposal,
and discussions are now under
way at the European Union
ahead of a meeting of foreign
ministers next week. Talks
on the proposed deal will also
take place among U.N. Security
Council members if any of those

named under U.N. sanctions
flee from Libya and renounce
Gadhafi's seven sons, a wife,
his daughter, two cousins and
other allies who have served
him for much of his rule are all
being given a chance to escape
international blacklists and
reclaim billions of dollars of
seized funds.
But some critics recoil atthe
thought, wondering whether
the incentives will set a bad
precedent for giving billions
back to possible plunderers or
even if the measures will work
to oust Gadhafi.
The offer came as Gadhafi's
forces unleashed a withering
bombardment on the rebels
outside a key oil town yes-
terdayy and a U.S. envoy met
with the rebels in the eastern
city of Benghazi in a possible
step toward diplomatic recog- A

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