Germany is taking a big leap toward clean energy and away from the pollution created by fossil fuels. More than the U.S., or any nation, the country has committed to wind and solar power.
The faith community has long been working for social justice, now as it turns its attention to the world-threatening crisis of climate change, a group in Austin has developed a manual designed to help churches, synagogues and houses of worship protect our home on earth.
A bipartisan coalition of governors has written to Congress to plead for the extension of the Production Tax Credit that has helped fuel the development of wind energy in the U.S..
The PTC, set to expire at the end of December, provides wind developers with a tax break that makes the business more profitable. Proponents say it’s needed to level the playing field for new energy, which must compete against subsidized fossil fuel industries like coal and natural gas.
A survey of likely 2012 American voters has found that they overwhelmingly support solar power, with nine out of 10 saying the U.S. should develop more solar power.
The survey, conducted by Hart Research in early September, also found that 85 percent of voters view solar power “favorably” or “very favorably;” and 78 percent said that the government should support the growth of solar power with incentives.
Fast-growing Brazil has been criticized for chopping down rainforests to make way for beef cattle, soy and sugar farms.
But those days may be behind us. Brazil is fast becoming an industrial leader with a growing green conscience, as two reports out this week show.
U.S. wind energy workers are losing their jobs as factories pare back in apparent response to the potential loss of a tax credit that has bolstered wind development.
Losses include layoffs and planned layoffs at wind manufacturing facilities in Tulsa, Okla., West Fargo, N.D., and in Little Rock, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reports.
When will it be possible for the US to be powered mainly by clean, renewable energy?
This simple question, which could tell us so much about our national economic and health prospects, has been treated by many vested interests as nearly unanswerable. The fossil fuel and power industries, our federal and state governments have stressed, at various times and places, that it is ever-so hard to predict when the US could achieve a fully realized clean energy future.
Their characterization of the clean energy landscape as amorphous and unknowable has a basis in reality. The energy revolution faces many obstacles. There’s the fact that the US has three electricity grids (East, West and Texas grids) that will need updating to accept renewables. Accomplish that and you still have to deal with multiple government bodies that must move slinky-like in the same direction. That would be the federal government, the 50 state governments, the dizzying array of local, county and utility boards and entities. Permitting new energy already can be a nightmare even when all parties are trying to facilitate it.
A solar panel topped car port in Charles Town has become largest solar array in West Virginia
The 407-kilowatt system made by Oregon-based Solar World will provide about half the power for the 100,000 square-foot financial center of American Public University System (APUS), an online education provider that serves the military and public service communities
Natural gas is portrayed as the “bridge fuel” that will save the US from uneven electricity supply and prices as we transition off coal and oil on our way toward using renewable biofuels, solar and wind power.
It’s one of those cold, white-bright days of winter. We’ve not had many like it this January. Instead, we’ve been walking around outdoors in our shirt sleeves, sneezing from pollen allergies and having a lot of little conversations about the unusual warm “spell”.
We’re experiencing climate change, of course, and it’s not a spell, but a new norm. Nearly everyone recognizes that something’s going on. Sometimes I feel like a character in Twin Peaks, exchanging knowing glances with the neighbors over these changes we cannot speak of because it’s somehow become radical to openly declare that climate change is happening, even though people in all walks of life can see it plainly. I’m thinking about farmers, landscapers, urban planners, builders, utility managers, insurers, scientists, oceanographers, biologists, botanists, power plant operators….
In Washington, the loudest voices have the biggest pocketbooks. And they’re taking the US on a death march with fossil fuels.
Unlike most advanced nations, where green energy has taken firm root, the US tarries, only half-committed to new energy while guzzling more oil per capita than any other nation. We know this habit is unsustainable. It continues because oil is profitable. And Big Oil peels off some of its largesse to buy acquiescence from Washington.
That’s a crude, but accurate assessment. No pun intended.
If you’re wondering what to worry about in the coming year, look no further than the eco-landscape.
Climate change, species extinctions, ocean acidification, forestry losses, soil erosion and air pollution. We humans, now 7 billion strong, are pushing the planet hard, creating a brew of intractable environmental issues that threaten our way of life, and ultimately our survival.
Grim? It doesn’t get much more so.
There were bright moments in 2011. A sampling:
In recent days, both the wind power and solar power advocates have been protesting the potential expiration of three key tax incentives that have helped drive the expansion of renewable energy in the US, even amid the economic stall out. With Congress and President Obama both seeking ways to trim the federal budget deficit, and the tug of oil and coal money ever-present on Capital Hill, these incentives for clean energy are being considered for the axe.
When the boys and girls of Spirit Lake, Iowa, load their backpacks for classes this fall, each child in grades 5 to 12 will be packing a lap top computer provided by the school district.
This bit of good fortune was funded by a special initiative. But it is not the first time Spirit Lake has stepped up to embrace new technology. In 1993 – when “renewable energy” was not widely discussed — it became the first school district in the nation to install a wind turbine, a move that has saved the district some $200,000 in energy costs.
When that pokey Wind World 250 KW turbine, financed by the state and a federal grant, was paid off, Spirit Lake put up another turbine, this one a hefty 750 KW NEGMicon, in 2001.
America’s need to shake its dependence on foreign oil is one of those issues where people of varied political and philosophical leanings agree: It would be better for the nation if the U.S. imported less oil, particularly from hostile nations. It would stabilize the economy and enhance national security.
And yet, solutions are elusive, and have been for decades. Politicians promise to do something only to be sunk by special interests and the public’s galloping demand for gasoline. Americans torpedo themselves on this matter, driving big cars long after the rest of the world has gone smaller; consuming more oil per capita than any other nationalities.
Speaking at the AREDAY conference in Aspen, Colo., this past weekend, Avatar filmmaker James Cameron addressed a key point on many minds, that with the current vacuum of national leadership, the U.S. appears in danger of slipping behind in the race to a clean energy economy
More importantly, Cameron said we have “just a few years” to begin an aggressive program to mitigate climate change or we risk paying a high price, economically and ecologically, he said, invoking what should be a motivator for everyone: our children’s future.
ASPEN — For four solid days this past week, the historic Hotel Jerome was packed with academics, Forbes list members, Silicon Valley luminaries, government energy leaders and Hollywood activists attending the 7th annual AREDAY conference which brings business, thought leaders and financiers together to wrestle with how the United States can shift to a renewable energy economy.
This brainy jam session at 8,200 feet above sea level takes place far from Washington, and this year, it seemed farther than ever, kicking off just after Congress had split for the summer holiday, with Senate leader Harry Reid announcing that even his scaled down energy bill would not be taken up until after the holiday. This followed the July anti-climatic squelching of the real deal, the once-ambitious Kerry-Lieberman climate/energy bill. So no climate bill, not even a skinny energy bill, and none expected. See ya in September. No, wait, after the election.
Clean energy advocates and labor leaders are calling on the U.S. to step up its commitment to wind energy and wind-related manufacturing — or risk losing thousands of jobs to China, Europe and India.
American wind urgently needs strong supports, such as long-term investment tax credits and a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), to show investors and domestic and global companies that it believes in the sector, the leaders said at a Monday news conference. A RES would signal that the U.S. wants to incubate developing firms and build everything it needs — from wind towers and blades to the highly evolved nacelles that keep the turbines turning.
Well, blow us over, it’s Global Wind Day, a time to celebrate a part of nature that humans have yet to destroy and also the energy potential that rides on the breeze.
This second annual event, begun by the European Wind Energy Association, is being noted in Europe, Asia, Australia and North and South America, where dozens of activities, from workshops to commemorations, are planned.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, and many other environmental groups, are campaigning with renewed vigor for a clean energy bill, in the wake of the ongoing BP oil disaster.
In this NRDC video, longtime conservationist Robert Redford reflects on the oil catastrophe, saying its time to recognize that self-interested oil companies will never want to give up risky oil drilling, if there’s profit to be made.
From Green Right Now Reports
Public Citizen has had a few choice words to describe the Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act unveiled Wednesday.
Energy program coordinator Tyson Slocum called the draft legislation a “nuclear energy-promoting, oil drilling-championing, coal mining-boosting gift to polluters bill.”
Slocum’s blog, posted yesterday is based on a broad outline released just in advance of the final draft of American Power Act. He itemizes what Public Citizen, a champion of citizen’s rights and an advocate for sustainable energy, sees as the APA’s numerous flaws:
Excessive nuclear power incentives that burden taxpayers
By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now
The Reality people have coughed up another clean coal satire, this one directed by the Coen brothers.
It’s not as good as No Country For Old Men, but it’s pretty cute, and it does skewer the concept of “clean coal”.
From Green Right Now Reports:
In a alert released this afternoon, entitled “Congress Gets It Right — Recovery Deal to Spur Clean Energy Economy”, the Natural Resources Defense Council praised the compromise stimulus package hammered out by Congress for the ways it steers the American economy in a greener direction.
“Congress really got it right with this economic recovery package that will deliver jobs and green infrastructure to America. The bill makes smart investments that will jumpstart the economy, help sustain future growth, and meet the challenges of the 21st century,”effused Wesley Warren, director of programs for the NRDC. “We need to put America on a path to a clean-energy economy, and Congress has taken a big step forward in heeding this call.
By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now
Moving to create clean energy jobs, fight climate change and set America on a path to energy independence, Reps. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Todd Platts (R-Pa.) on Wednesday introduced the American Renewable Energy Act, which would require America to generate one-quarter of its energy from “clean energy sources” by 2025.
“With our economy in crisis, renewable energy can create hundreds of thousands of new green jobs, revitalize declining manufacturing sectors and decrease global warming pollution,” said Rep. Markey, chair of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, in a news release.
By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now
The $819 billion economic stimulus plan passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday has been criticized for containing too many short-term measures aimed at stimulating the flagging economy – or too few; for being too focused on green infrastructure – or not focused enough.
Those arguments aside, there are many provisions in the House bill that passed Wednesday that will help individuals and their communities save money and energy, and in doing so, take a swipe at global warming.
“The House bill adopted (yesterday) would make increased energy efficiency a hallmark of the nation’s economic recovery with the infusion of federal funds for efficiency initiatives throughout the economy – to consumers, to businesses, to state and local governments, and more,” said Kateri Callahan, president of the advocacy group, Alliance to Save Energy.
According to the Alliance, which has sifted through the massive bill to pull out the energy-saving components, there are several meaningful ways money will flow from D.C. to help green America. Many of these measures also will create spending, for example, by offering consumers incentives to buy hybrid cars and newer furnaces.