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Clean energy biz: Nebraska's Home Energy Alternatives

12
Aug
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By Ed Toribio, owner of Home Energy Alternatives in Nebraska. This is the second in a series of posts from clean energy business leaders across America.  -- Luis

Last month, as we wrapped-up Independence Day celebrations, I recalled the meaning behind this important holiday, the birthday of our country. The Founders had a clear vision for this country based in the belief that all Americans are entitled to the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Today, our dependency on foreign oil and the effects of global climate change has put these fundamental rights at risk.

At first, it is hard to find a connection between life, liberty, happiness and energy, but if you look closely, the American way of life depends heavily on access to energy sources. With increasing demand for energy, it becomes a challenge to use energy in a responsible manner; therefore, we must consider the impact and negative repercussions of generating electricity burning fossil fuels.

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China shoots for the Moon on clean energy while U.S. lags

12
Aug
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By 1Sky policy fellow Gabe Elsner. -- Luis

Yesterday, China's National Development and Reform Commission announced it would unveil a $739 BILLION "new energy" plan that would develop the country's energy industry.  Although the Commission announced it would include dirty (nuclear) and unproven (coal with carbon capture and sequestration) energy sources, this massive investment eclipses U.S. investment in clean energy.

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Weekly Round-Up 8/13/10: Russia reeling under climate change

13
Aug
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Environmental and climate groups (1Sky included) are gearing up to push for climate action during the congressional recess, even if it means showing up at the office doors of senators who have failed to respond to climate change. Also, advocates will put the pressure on lawmakers to defend the EPA's efforts under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases. Climate advocates are currently battling Senator Jay Rockefeller and his "Dirty Air Act pt2" which will cripple the EPA's ability to regulate pollution for two years. 1Sky is mentioned in the New York Times for our shadowing events.

Russia Feels the Effects of Global Warming

Russia is feeling the burn this summer with temperatures topping 100° Fahrenheit for the first time. When I think about Russia, I think about blizzards and Russian snow hats. However, Russians are actually undergoing such an extreme heat wave that even President Dmitry Medvedev is convinced of climate change. His epiphany was spurred by an extreme heat wave which is blazing into its second month, a drought that has ruined a third of Russia's crops and wildfires that have blanketed half of European Russia. The Prime Minister has even banned grain exports from August 15 to December 31. Even more, numbers of deaths per day in Moscow has doubled to 700 due to this heat wave. I would say that Russians are now pretty convinced. The 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted that Russia could experience a doubling of disastrous droughts, see catastrophic fires and suffer large crop loss in this century. I would say they were pretty accurate in 2007.

Our country has not experienced such a heat wave in the last 50 or even 100 years... Everyone is talking about climate change now... Unfortunately, what is happening now in our central regions is evidence of this global climate change, because we have never in our history faced such weather conditions in the past. This means that we need to change the way we work, change the methods that we used in the past." -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev

His translated speech can be found here.

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The wrong way to pay for Medicaid and teachers' salaries

16
Aug
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By 1Sky intern Amy Plovnick. -- Luis

Last Tuesday House of Representatives took a break from their 6-week recess to pass an emergency state aid bill that provides $16.1 billion in Medicaid funding and $10 billion to pay teachers’ salaries. The bill passed 247 to 161, largely along party lines with the Democrats voting in favor. It is fortunate that House members returned to Washington from their vacations to pass this critical spending measure.

What is not so fortunate is the fact that in order to help pay for the spending, a provision was included in the bill that cuts $1.5 billion in renewable energy loan guarantees. This cut comes in addition to the $2 billion that was cut from the program last summer to pay for the cash-for-clunkers program. Together, the cuts represent over half of the $6 billion that was originally allocated for the Department of Energy (DOE) program, which gives the renewable energy industry the cash flow necessary to bring expensive new projects to the market and hastens the transition to a clean energy economy.

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1Sky Policy Update 8/16/2010 - August shadowing events kick off

16
Aug
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By 1Sky policy fellow Gabe Elsner. -- Ines

1Sky and our allies kicked off a summer of "shadowing" elected officials at events all over the country to express our outrage that the Senate failed to address our climate crisis and our dangerous addiction to fossil fuels. So far we have had a successful presence at events in AR, CO, FL, and MO, with many more to come.

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Senate recess update: Thanking climate champs in Colorado

18
Aug
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By 1Sky organizer Micah Parkin. -- Luis

More than 90 people have signed up through 1Sky and our partners 350.org and Energy Action Coalition to be involved with shadowing Colorado’s senators during the August/September recess. And thanks to the primary elections in Colorado on August 10th, opportunities for shadowing around our beautiful mountain state over the last week have been numerous, and we’ve turned out supporters for at least five events.

Colorado Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet have proven they care about the climate crisis and understand the benefits of transitioning to clean energy. Both voted to protect Clean Air Act authority to regulate carbon emissions (i.e., opposed Sen. Murkowski’s 'Dirty Air Act' resolution) and both expressed their disappointment in written statements for the Senate's failure to pass a comprehensive climate and clean energy bill. Sen. Udall was also pushing hard for inclusion of a national Renewable Energy Standard (RES) through an online petition that garnered over 2,500 signatures. So we’re giving them our thanks for these actions and encouraging them to be even stronger leaders on these issues when they’re back in Washington.

Volunteers (including my daughters pictured below) showed up for a kick-off rally for Sen. Bennet’s 24-hour Colorado tour with signs thanking him for being a climate and clean energy champion and urging him to keep fighting for a real climate bill. As Sen. Bennet emerged from his tour bus, he made a bee line straight for my little ones, gave them hugs, read our signs (we were the only ones there with signs other than the standard campaign signs), and then nodded his acknowledgment.

Micah's daughters

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Senate recess update: Shadowing Florida's Sen. LeMieux

18
Aug
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By 1Sky organizer Andrea Cuccaro. -- Luis

On Monday of last week, in front of the Chamber of Commerce in Palm Beach, Florida, Senator George LeMieux spoke about the need to support small businesses, as Florida is primarily a small business state with no fortune 100 companies housed here. When he was finished, I was the first person to shoot my hand up in the Q&A session. I introduced myself as a representative of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and thanked him for his thoughtfulness on our economy and his support for clean energy initiatives, which he had also mentioned in his speech.

I also asked him if, considering all of his support for clean energy and for small business, he would also support a cap on carbon that would generate revenues from Big Energy and distribute them to clean energy businesses, which are primarily small and growing. The senator talked a long and good game about supporting the Lugar bill and tax breaks for clean energy, but ultimately clarified that he does not support a price on carbon as he has been informed that this would cause a 35 percent increase in energy costs. In his answer, LeMieux also identified himself as a staunch supporter of investing in nuclear power, which he defined as the "cheapest clean energy" source on the market.

While we would not define nuclear as clean from the environmental costs in terms of water and waste, as well as the health costs of Leukemia traced to neighbors of transmission lines and reactors, it's also important to point out that nuclear is actually really expensive. In fact, according to a study from Duke University, solar is less expensive than nuclear now. Solar power has been on a trajectory to become less and less expensive, and 2010 is the year in which finally it surpassed nuclear as a more affordable option.

The most important takeaway from this day was that Senator LeMieux came out publicly against a cap on carbon. This was the first time climate solutions advocates heard the senator take a position. While the senator supports clean energy tax breaks and investments, all of which will jumpstart our green economy and curb carbon emissions, I was disappointed to hear he does not support a cap. A cap on carbon is the only way to ensure we can control cutting greenhouse gases within the timelines we need, in the timeframe outlined by scientists.

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Combating climate change deniers

19
Aug
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By 1Sky blogging working group member Andy Silber. See Andy's bio at the end of this post. -- Ines

It must be difficult to remain a climate change denier and read the news. The headlines are covered with stories that are exactly what the climate models predict:

And that's just within the last week!

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Weekly round-up 8/20/10: Extreme weather hits Pakistan

20
Aug
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U.N. officials and climatologists are now saying that the devastating flood in Pakistan is the worst disaster to date caused by climate change. Scientist at the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva are sure that higher temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean contributed to this flood which is directly connected to climate change. According to the Washington, DC Express Newspaper, a publication of the Washington Post, there is a "global donor fatigue slowing needed aid in flood-ridden Pakistan". This newspaper article points out that there was $742M donated to the Haiti relief but only $45M donated to the recent Pakistan relief in the same time period. With over 20 million Pakistani flood victims, an additional $300 million is still needed. An estimated 6.5 million Pakistanis need shelter, food, clean water and medicine including 500,00 families left homeless in Punjab. More rain is expected to come, while the floodwaters cover a landmass the size of England! Please donate whatever you can to the relief fund. Every little bit counts!

On a brighter note, the deadly heat wave in Russia is finally over, though smoke still lingers in the air. Moscow's temperature plummeted on Thursday to 70-73 Fahrenheit. However, Russia is left with a loss of $14 billion off this year's gross domestic product. Also, air pollution sky-rocketed to four to ten times above the previous amount. Russia was not the only country to "feel the burn" this year. There were 17 countries that broke their previous heat records! This should speak volumes to those climate change deniers. The devastating flood in Pakistan, the deadly heat wave in Russia and the horrible flooding and mud slides in western China are all directly related.

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Time to crack down on toxic coal ash

23
Aug
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Coal power plants are by far the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in this country. Their pollution is making our planet a more dangerous place to live. But these coal plants also produce a by-product waste called "coal ash."  Coal ash contains toxic chemicals like arsenic, mercury and lead that can poison the water supplies of entire communities and are known to cause birth defects and premature deaths.

The Environmental Protection Agency needs to regulate coal ash as "hazardous waste" -- and as you'd expect, Dirty Coal and their allies plan to fight these regulations tooth and nail to protect their profits. The EPA needs to hear from you today. Tell the EPA you support cracking down on Dirty Coal and their dangerous coal ash.

On December 22, 2008, a ruptured ash dike at the Kingston Fossil Plant in Eastern Tennessee released 1.1 billion gallons of coal ash -- enough to fill 1,660 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The spill covered nearly 400 acres of land, causing major property and environmental damage. The sludge contained high levels of heavy metals like arsenic, lead and selenium that can cause cancer and neurological problems. This is exactly the kind of disaster that the EPA needs to prevent in the future with tough regulations.

The EPA will hold hearings in seven cities about these coal ash regulations over the next few weeks, so it's critical that they hear from you right now. If you live near any of the following cities, please sign up to attend an EPA hearing on coal ash regulations near you:

  • Monday, August 30: Arlington, VA at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City
  • Thursday, September 2: Denver, CO at the Grand Hyatt
  • Wednesday, September 8: Dallas, TX at the Hyatt Regency Dallas
  • Tuesday, September 14: Charlotte, NC at the Holiday Inn Charlotte (Airport)
  • Thursday, September 16: Chicago, IL at the Hilton Chicago
  • Tuesday, September 21: Pittsburgh, PA at the Omni Hotel
  • Tuesday, September 28: Louisville, KY at the Seelbach Hilton

The more they hear from concerned citizens like you, the harder it will be for Dirty Coal to block these regulations. Let's protect the health of our families and communities --  send your comments to the EPA today and sign up to attend a hearing near you.

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