The Skywriter

Weekly roundup 1/14/11: Start your solar engines


Weekly roundup 1/14/11: Start your solar engines


The numbers are in on 2010's final temperature; the EPA makes a great announcement about MTR; President Obama makes a bold move for solar energy and we're putting the best phone applications for climate on your radar.

America or bust

Not long ago, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu spoke to the National Press Club reminding us that this should be our "Sputnik Moment" for research and development in renewable energy. He explained that this is the time to get young people into science and invest in the alternative energy China is working feverishly to develop. We need to stake our claim.

Here's hoping that President Obama's new law with a "Buy American" provision for the Defense Department purchasing of solar panels moves us forward to Steven Chu's goal. Although Chinese President Hu Jintao will be none too pleased with the provision, this might be the first step in ousting China as the world's dominant producer of solar panels. Of the $29 billion market for solar panels, the United States only accounts for $1.6 billion. China accounts for at least half. Meanwhile, the U.S. solar company Evergreen Solar Inc. is having to close factory doors and cut 800 jobs because it can't edge out the Chinese competition.

One hot year

It's official: According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2010 was the hottest year -- tied with 2005 for global temperature. Still nostalgic for yesteryear? Check out a few slides from Christian Science Monitor on the top 10 weather events for 2010.

Veto on MTR

Judy Bonds legacy lived on in a truly powerful way this week. The EPA came out strongly against Mountaintop Removal by announcing their veto for the largest MTR permit in Appalachia. You can find the full text of their ruling here, which was based on on 404 (c) of the Clean Water Act. In the text they explain,

The project, as permitted, will bury 6.6 miles of Pigeonroost Branch, Oldhouse Branch, and their tributaries under excess spoil generated by surface coal mining operations. These streams represent some of the last remaining least-disturbed, high quality stream and riparian resources within the Headwaters Spruce Fork sub-watershed and the Coal River sub-basin and contain important wildlife resources and habitat.

The extensive research and stellar decision comes after several banks announced ending their relationship with MTR projects as a the primary source of funding. PNC Bank kicked MTR to the curb in November. But could we end this section without mentioning Sen. Jay Rockefeller? Of course he was eager to announced his plan to fight the veto.

Your EPA Bonus: A federal court has shut down Texas's third attempt to block greenhouse gas regulation. Isn't it three strikes, you're out?

There's an app for that

Climate Central published a great article about some of the best new ways to keep up on your climate science on the go. Check the rankings on how well your favorite businesses address climate change (Have you picked a new favorite?); Find car shares with other emissions-conscious drivers; Or find out how much wind energy potential your backyard has. Oh yes, there's an app for that.

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