Govenors ask Congress to continue support for wind energy

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.

Vestas Wind announces layoffs — with more to come unless US Congress extends tax support

In an ominous sign that the world economy is dragging on the wind industry, Denmark-based Vestas Wind announced today that it will lay off more than 2,300 employees as part of a reorganization to keep the company competitive.

The lay off of employees — 1,749 in Europe, 182 in the US and 404 in China and elsewhere — will help the company streamline and reduce its fixed costs by more than 150 million Euro, according to a statement.

Climate change more urgent than ever, as Congress cools on taking action

Sadly, as the threat of climate change worsens, U.S. lawmakers move further away from practical solutions.

Last week, NASA reported that 2010 was the second hottest year on record, capping the warmest decade in modern times. Climate change continues, despite our currently frozen fingers as we clear the windshield of ice and snow (these big snowstorms in fact could be part of the pattern of climate change’s more erratic and severe storm systems).

This news of temperatures continue their upward march is no surprise to climate scientists who’ve measured the atmospheric carbon dioxide that’s a key creator of the greenhouse effect here on Earth. Atmospheric CO2 once measured around 250 parts per million before the industrial revolution. Now, after 160 years of burning fossil fuels on an industrial scale, we’re at 390 ppm, well above the comfort zone of 350 ppm and on our way to levels that could be terribly unhealthy for humans. Scientists have set an upper limit of 450 ppm of CO2, above which is a vast unknown and before which, are a series of tipping points that could render the whole discussion moot.

The top 10 energy companies that spend the most lobbying Congress

The Center for American Progress Action Fund published an article this week highlighting the millions that energy and utility companies have spent lobbying Congress.

The article contends that this downpour of money into Washington — half of a billion dollars since 2008 — has been the key factor in stalling climate action by Congress.

The chart above shows that the top fossil fuel industries and electric power companies have spent heavily in Washington. What their lobbyists have been saying is not revealed in the dollar amounts, but CAPAF report outlines how most of these companies are on the record as opposing climate legislation, fees for carbon pollution and EPA regulation of greenhouse gases.

Public health leaders send Congress a message: Let EPA regulate carbon pollution

America’s public health leaders have raised their voices against Congressional waffling over climate action, releasing a letter today signed by 120 top public health groups that urges Congress not to interfere with the EPA’s plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The EPA’s mandate to regulate carbon emissions has been a lightning rod in Washington, with some in Congress saying the agency does not have the authority to set carbon guidelines and penalize violators. States, such as Texas, have sued over the issue, also trying to stop the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases.

Tantalizing clean energy: Ted Turner and others on keeping the U.S. in the game

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.

Climate inaction…again. So what now?

By Asher Miller

Asher Miller, executive director, Post Carbon Institute

Back in December in blisteringly cold Copenhagen, tens of thousands of activists, government workers, lobbyists, and world leaders came together for what many hoped would be a diplomatic breakthrough. Though the weather was cold, conditions seemed ripe: Environmental groups across the globe had worked hard to generate a strong display of public will, culminating in 350.org’s Day of Action earlier in October, which CNN called “the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history.” Bolstered by the announcement that President Obama would attend the talks personally, hopes were high for meaningful engagement on the part of the United States after more than a decade of inaction.

Stimulus plan puts green into green; the details so far…

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.

Automakers bailout should carry improved gas mileage requirements

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Remember when Congress passed legislation one year ago raising the bar on gas mileage? The law they passed required automakers to have a fleet average of 35 mpg by 2020.

Automakers, not just the U.S. Big Three, but Toyota as well, opposed it. They spent millions lobbying against the law, and to find out just how much they spent and whose wheels they tried to grease, see the Huffington Post story Big Three Promise Green Future But Spent Almost $50 Million Since 2007 Lobbying Against It
which dug out the actual dollar figures. (Just as good as the story are some of the bloggers responding, who have some interesting ideas for how to rescue the car industry.)

No Child Left Inside Gaining Momentum

kidsatpark.jpgBy Kelly Rondeau

You’ve heard of No Child Left Behind. Now comes a new program with serious educational goals, but a different approach: No Child Left Inside proposes to re-invigorate environmental education by tapping into kids’ innate curiosity about nature. And communities across America are embracing the fresh, bottom-up concept by holding No Child Left Inside events.