BlueGreen Alliance

Good Jobs, Clean Environment, Green Economy

Apr 24

The Green Jobs Source for Thursday, April 24, 2014

THE TOP 10 FOR APRIL 24

Green heroes – Time Magazine releases its list of the 100 most influential people in the world and this year, several heroes in the environmental movement top the list. (Time)

Charleston, WV – A new report confirms the symptoms of those who sought medical care after drinking contaminated water are consistent with MHCM exposure—the chemical that spilled in the water supply in Charleston, WV. (West Virginia Gazette)

Number One – Fresno, California is number one in the state—not for good reasons though—as an area most heavily burdened by pollution. (LA Times)

Hot weather forecast – More and more extremely hot days threaten California’s progress curbing air pollution. (LA Times)

Cape Wind proposal – Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has confirmed the agency is still considering a loan application for a Nantucket Sound wind farm. (Cape Cod Times)

Better protecting workers – Federal regulators in West Virginia announced sweeping reforms to protect mine workers from black lung disease—including introducing new technology to monitor dust levels. (Center for Public Integrity)

Sweet selfie - NASA astronaut Rich Mastracchio takes an out of this world selfie—a picture he took of himself—from the International Space Station. (Time)

Four out of Four – All four candidates for senate who are challenging Senator Hagan don’t believe in climate change. ( The Hill)

Lead threat – Despite increasing awareness about the threat of lead exposure, thousands of Michigan children are still exposed to it in homes everyday. (Michigan Radio)

Good news – Ten years of concerted efforts by conservationists have finally turned the “most polluted river in America" into an environmental success story. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

Dallas Morning-News: Safety agency’s findings don’t address replacement for fertilizer that devastated West

New York Times: Darren Aronofsky on Floods, Fanaticism, the Big Bang, Warming and More

Center for American Progress: Helping the Arctic Council Find Its True North

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Posted In: The Source
Apr 23

Signs of Life for Key Wind Investments in Congress, Will They Continue?

This blog is cross-posted from the Sierra Club's Compass blog and is written by Radha Adhar, Associate Washington Representative. The original post is available online here

image from http://s3.amazonaws.com/hires.aviary.com/k/mr6i2hifk4wxt1dp/14041518/a94abc08-1d9f-4e60-902c-dcd19ee5fbdf.png

The facts are speaking for themselves: wind is winning. But is Congress listening?

Deemed the fastest-growing energy source in the world, wind has created 80,000 jobs at over 550 U.S.-based manufacturing facilities, powered over 15 million homes, and added $105 billion in domestic investments over the last 10 years. In the face of severe weather and extreme climate disruption, wind has offered the U.S. and the world the opportunity to invest in a clean solution to meet our energy demand without exacerbating climate disruption.

But without the support of our legislators, the wind industry could--to the detriment of millions of Americans and our environment--slow its progress.

The Production Tax Credit (PTC) was enacted as a temporary provision over two decades ago as a part of the Energy Policy Act. Despite expiring eight times, the PTC has led to continual progress and job-creation in the wind industry.

More than four months ago, however, the PTC expired once again, leaving the wind industry in the lurch. In a positive move last week, the Senate Finance Committee advanced a package of renewable energy tax credits--including the PTC--marking the first step toward future wind progress. The next step in the process is moving the legislation to the Senate floor where it will likely face staunch opposition from Republican climate deniers.

But the facts don’t lie. Wind energy has created thousands of jobs and invested millions in our economy, and failing to renew the PTC would be economically and environmentally irresponsible.

A recent report released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) reveals that “U.S. wind power deployment through 2020 is sensitive to both the prospective PTC level and market conditions over time.”

The report continues, “a reduction in domestic wind power deployment is likely to have a direct and negative effect on U.S.-based wind turbine manufacturing production and employment. This is notable as the manufacturing sector has been observed to represent a substantial share of wind industry jobs.” If recent history has taught us anything, it is that reductions in demand will rapidly lead to factory closures and job losses.

The report predicts that without a PTC renewal, yearly wind installations will drop to as little as 3-gigawatts a year, though by 2020, experts expect 9.6-gigawatts will be needed per year to help fill the 80 percent energy supply gap left by retiring coal plants. Additionally, the report calls for 38 gigawatts of wind energy to be added each year to completely decarbonize the energy sector by 2030.

Essentially, we won’t be able to meet our clean energy needs without wind and the PTC.

Wind energy has seen development and job creation in over 70 percent of congressional districts. If our members of congress are serious about creating jobs and bolstering our economy, they should support the PTC and invest in a clean energy future for their constituents, our generation, and the generations to come. Click here to take action and tell your member of Congress to extend this critical credit.

--Radha Adhar, Associate Washington Representative

Posted In: Clean Energy, Sierra Club
Apr 23

Preserving and improving America’s education through healthier schools

The following blog is by Will Adams, legislative intern for the BlueGreen Alliance. 

Earlier this month, hundreds of people around the country participated in the 12th annual National Healthy Schools Day to raise awareness about the need for clean and healthy learning environments for our children. The resounding “call to action” that linked participants together was support for Indoor Air and Environmental Quality programs that could be implemented in schools across the nation. This effort comes in the face of a growing trend we can't ignore: asthma and other respiratory conditions are some of the leading causes of missed school days for America's children, and these illnesses are only being made worse by deteriorating air quality due to climate change. 

Kids in a classroom with a teacher

This year, in 40 Healthy Schools Day events all over the country, school officials, teachers, students, facilities staff, communities and NGOs were encouraged to bring their voices together to raise awareness about the growing issue of our nation’s failing school infrastructure and its effects on children and school personnel. 

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, American infrastructure received an overall “D+” in 2013 and an even lower “D” specifically for schools. As our school facilities continue to age and fall further into disrepair, we will be faced with ever-increasing health and safety risks for the 20 percent of Americans who spend their days in a school facility.     

Teacher in a classroom

These dangers are amplified when looking at how some of our schools stood up against recent natural disasters. We’ve already seen increased reports of asthma and other respiratory illnesses in children with preexisting conditions who occupied buildings damaged by Hurricanes Katrina, Irene and Superstorm Sandy, for example. 

Nationally, asthma accounts for approximately 14 million missed schools days a year, and this number will likely only increase if no action is taken. Now is the time to ensure the wellbeing of our students and faculty to protect them against the dangerous and potentially life-long effects of climate change. One of the biggest threats to our children’s education is absenteeism from school. 

Nationally, asthma accounts for approximately 14 million missed schools days a year.

 

Additionally, the BlueGreen Alliance has added its voice to the call for safe and healthy learning spaces for all children in America. Read our Repair America’s Schools statement, which highlights the vital role schools play as components of our everyday infrastructure. This effort is part of the broader Repair America campaign that is aimed at fixing America’s failing infrastructure and better preparing our communities for the effects of climate change. A solid infrastructure is at the root of any healthy and productive environment—especially the learning environment. 

Posted In: Green Schools
Apr 23

Fast and furious

The following blog has been cross-posted from the CWA blog Resistance Growing. The original is available online here.

T&T cities identified for faster internet capacity

AT&T is expanding its ultra-fast fiber network to 100 cities nationwide.

The fiber network will deliver AT&T’s U-verse at broadband speeds of up to 1 Gigabit per second. Just how fast is that? At that speed, in one second, you could download 25 songs. In three seconds, you could download an episode of your favorite TV show. And in 36 seconds, you could download an entire HD movie.

AT&T’s network build-out is “world changing, as more communities come on line with fiber networks that are 100 times faster than what they have today,” said CWA President Larry Cohen.  

“This is what fast means. It will be great for our members and overall employment, will accelerate business and economic development, provide for new and not-yet-realized services, make state-of-the-art television and other services available to consumers, and help the U.S. regain its place as a leader in true high-speed accessibility,” he said.   

For more than eight years, CWA’s “Speed Matters” campaign has pushed for the expansion of true high-speed fiber networks in the U.S. as necessary to keep pace with economic growth, job creation and global competition.  Speed matters on the Internet, and CWA has been calling for policies to promote faster Internet speeds and higher capacity networks. 

Until now, companies have focused their high-speed build outs in smaller metropolitan areas.

AT&T's announcement is a big step towards laying cables that customers need to tap into the Web across the country. We're finally inching closer to national, affordable high-speed Internet access for everyone.

Read more at: http://www.cwa-union.org/blog/entry/fast_and_furious

Posted In: Infrastructure, Communications Workers of America
Apr 23

The Green Jobs Source for Wednesday, April 23, 2014

THE TOP 10 FOR APRIL 23

Safety board findings – U.S. Chemical Safety Board officials conclude one year after the West, Texas disaster that it was “preventable.” (CNN)

March madness – Scientists confirmed that March was the fourth warmest month on record across the globe. (Climate Central)

President’s proposal – President Obama will release a proposal to renew federal transportation spending—the bill called MAP-21. (The Hill)

Neighborhood problem – The California Environmental Protection Agency has released a map identifying neighborhoods most burdened by pollution. (LA Times)

Water rule – The EPA’s water rule, expanding Clean Water Act protections to miles of rivers and streams across the country, draws ire from some. (The Hill)

Waste problem – One North Carolina resident and congressional candidate takes his case against toxic waste in his town to the Supreme Court. (E&E News)

Air quality – San Antonio’s air quality has been getting worse for years. Now funding for the agency charged with regulating air quality is in doubt. (Public Integrity)

Rust belt town goes green – Toledo, Ohio takes steps to “go beyond green” to protect the environment and promote economic growth. (Toledo Blade)

Conservative conservation – ConservAmerica, a conservative organization in favor of environmental protection, struggles to fund its efforts. (NPR)

250 million years – Scientists on Earth Day reflect on what the world looked like millions of years ago and make predictions about 250 million years into the future. (LA Times)

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

The Guardian: Climate change is the fight of our lives – yet we can hardly bear to look at it

New York Times: No Time to Waste: Students Pursue Environmental Progress Instead of Exam Grades

Baltimore Sun: Baltimore, other big cities back EPA in Bay cleanup dispute

Time: Americans Flunk Science—Again

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Apr 22

A New Way to Celebrate This Earth Day

The following blog by David Foster, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance has been cross-posted from the Huffington Post. The original is available online here

Before the Environmental Protection Agency existed, before the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and long before any state had a renewable energy standard on the books, there was Earth Day. It was the precursor -- and one of the drivers -- for those efforts and much more.

In 1970, the first Earth Day marked the beginning of a new consciousness of the toll human actions were having on the environment.  Picture of earth and sky for Earth Day

Together 20 million people from all over the country gathered to protest pollution. The idea for Earth Day originated with Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, who was thinking about how he could harness the energy of the anti-war movement and apply it to another growing problem -- cleaning up the environment. He said, "If we could tap into the environmental concerns of the general public and infuse the student anti-war energy into the environmental cause, we could generate a demonstration that would force the issue onto the national political agenda."

Not surprisingly, it's a sentiment that rings as true today as when Senator Nelson spoke those words 45 years ago. Today, Earth Day is an opportunity to educate and talk with one another about the impact of our actions and to engage communities around possible solutions. It's also a time to draw connections between environmental issues and other social problems that plague our nations. 

Take the issues of climate change and infrastructure, for instance. Despite the growing concern of Americans from all walks of life about the strength and safety of infrastructure in the face of more extreme weather -- such as transportation, pipes, electrical lines, communication systems, and public buildings like our schools and libraries -- Congress has failed to take meaningful action even when it could create jobs and improve public safety.

Most of us do not even notice infrastructure until it stops working. But when a bridge is closed causing us to be late for work, when our levees are tested by extreme weather caused by climate change, when storms cause the power in our neighborhood to go out, or when a water main breaks, which happens every two minutes in our country, we do take notice.

Without action, this will continue to get worse. A study by the Center for American Progress puts the price tag for extreme weather events in 2011 and 2012 at $188 billion. Another example: blackouts cause by weather have doubled since 2003. These are issues that will only get worse as our world continues to warm and bring more extreme weather into our neighborhoods.

By investing now in infrastructure -- from energy to water to communications to transportation to the buildings that serve our communities -- we can cut down on the energy inefficiencies that cause climate change and the costs of disaster relief.

The legacy of the first Earth Day is that we're all empowered to lead the charge on climate action. Let's commemorate this Earth Day -- Tuesday, April 22 -- by finding the impactful solutions like Repairing America that will make the biggest difference for everybody.

Posted In: Climate Change
Apr 21

What it will cost if we don’t save the planet

The following blog is by Ashley Haugo, Climate Policy Advocate for the BlueGreen Alliance. 

The massive and seemingly ambiguous problem that is climate change is, well, still a problem, but it’s also a problem that comes with a solution. The question now—emphasis on now—is whether or not we will choose to pursue those solutions. 

Last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its third of four installments that, together, will constitute the panel’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). This latest edition, the Working Group III report, focuses on mitigation options to combat climate change, a threat that has scientific certainty and poses significant economic, health, safety and environmental risks to communities the world over. picture of the globe

Investing in the Future

The WGIII report clearly states that the critical goal of holding global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius is still within reach. However, doing so will require us to make smart, informed decisions on how we build and maintain our key infrastructure systems; how we develop and deploy new technologies; and how we adjust and realign our behaviors to match the realities of the 21st Century. 

Sounds costly, right? Actually, not as much as you might think. According to the IPCC report, ambitious mitigation action will only reduce current business-as-usual yearly growth by 0.06 percent. In fact, the figures used in the report do not account for the numerous external costs that come with inaction—all of which leave our wallets a little thinner and our economy a little more sluggish. 

Think about the money that pours out of our energy systems through inefficient homes, buildings and appliances. The remedy to that is cost-effective upgrades and the establishment of good codes and standards, all of which help cut our carbon emissions. Or, think about the thousands of vehicles that idle every day in traffic because the design and structure of our transportation systems and our urban areas are outdated. Again, money is wasted on fuel, carbon emissions are poured into the atmosphere, and now add to that the cost of pollution that dirties the air we breathe and makes us ill. 

Examples like these abound, but luckily each also presents us with an opportunity to invest in clean, healthy, job-creating solutions that will put our economy and our planet on a better path forward. 

Economist Ottmar Edenhofer was right when he said “It doesn’t cost the world to save the planet,” but he left out the corollary: it will cost the world if we don’t save the planet. 

Economist Ottmar Edenhofer was right when he said “It doesn’t cost the world to save the planet,” but he left out the corollary: it will cost the world if we don’t save the planet. 

Mustering the Willpower

The final installment of the AR5, a synthesis report of the three working group reports, will be released in October 2014. This will come just on the heels of the much anticipated Climate Summit hosted by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York City in September 2014. 

This international summit is meant to serve as a global call to action for world leaders to bring ambitious mitigation commitments and actions to the table in preparation of key negotiations in Paris in 2015. As the clock ticks ever closer to that time, all eyes will be fixed on nations to see who will step up and lead in the fight against climate change. In that context, Secretary of State John Kerry made a poignant observation about the recent IPCC report: 

"This report makes very clear we face an issue of global willpower, not capacity.”

Posted In: Climate Change
Apr 21

The Green Jobs Source for Monday, April 21

THE TOP 10 FOR APRIL 21

Map it – A new tool allows people to see how climate change is impacting their neighborhood by inputting their zip code. (USA Today)

90,000 acres – That’s the increase in acres burned per year according to a new report on the causes of wildfires. (Time)

Time crunch – Findings in a new report on climate change conclude the world only has 15 years left to make a real impact on reducing emissions. ( NY Times)

Chemicals safety - Attorneys general in 13 states say they are “deeply concerned” about how Congressman Shimkus’ legislation to update the Toxic Substances Control Act would weaken protections. (The Hill)

Road trip – During a stop on Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx’s national tour to highlight infrastructure projects, he holds up a Louisiana highway project as one of many reasons for robust highway funding . (The Hill)

New low – Drought and intake problems for Las Vegas’ Lake Mead have put water levels at the lowest levels in generations, threatening the water supply for two million people. (LA Times)

Quality control – California’s Air Resources board yields to pressure from small trucking firms to relax pollution standards for diesel trucks. (LA Times)

Airpocalypse - New data is shedding light on the full extent of China’s air pollution crisis. (The Atlantic)

Peak travel – A plan to implement congestion pricing for traffic in New York City gains steam. (Capital New York)

Scientists vs. politicians – Wyoming parents and politicians are at odds over how to educate students about climate change. (Washington Post)

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

Wall Street Journal: More Than $1 Billion in Superstorm Sandy Aid Could Leave Region

Environmental Health News: More light, less heat over endocrine disruptors

Mother Nature Network: 'A Fierce Green Fire': The untold story of America's environmental movement

The Nation: My Climate Change Warnings—From 1984

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Posted In: The Source
Apr 17

Will lessons ever turn into action?

A year ago today, the families of 15 people—including 12 volunteer firefighters—in the town of West, Texas started their day not knowing that they had given their last goodbye to their loved ones. The small community of 2,800 was devastated when a fire broke out at a fertilizer plant, leading to an explosion that felt like a 2.1 magnitude earthquake. The blast killed 15, injured hundreds, destroyed 120 homes and damaged 200 dwellings.

Video of the explosion from three different angles from WTSP.

Business owner Bryan Anderson was in his truck with his son Kaden when the explosion occurred near the middle school, he said, “It blew us across the road. The glass and debris and airbags.” He and Kaden were injured but survived. Even today his son is frightened by loud noises and attends therapy weekly. “It’ll never be the same,” said Anderson. “But every time I really do get down I think of all the people that have it way worse than me. I’ve got a bunch of phone numbers in my phone that I can’t call anymore, and I could be one of those. Kaden could be one of those.”

A new study shows that almost 10,000 schools—attended by an estimated 4.6 million children—are located within a mile of a chemical facility.

Many survivors of the blast still struggle today. The human toll of this tragedy is terrible. But, the fact that little to nothing has been done to prevent future events like this is a travesty. The dangers posed to our families by chemical plants are all too real. In fact, a new study showed that almost 10,000 schools—attended by an estimated 4.6 million children—are located within a mile of a chemical facility. In West, Texas, schools and homes were much closer than that. 

While the Obama administration mulls changes, nothing has been done to change fertilizer rules since the explosion. Presidential Executive Order 13650, calling for a federal, interagency report due within a few weeks, is a hopeful beginning but, the devil is in the details, and it yet remains to be seen what concrete steps emerge from that process. Texas Governor Rick Perry says any new rules should wait until after the state completes its investigation. But, in Texas alone, the State Fire Marshall says there are 26 facilities storing large amounts of fertilizer like the plant in West. 

But, without federal leadership and action in states around the nation, we’re—sadly—probably going to see more terrible tragedies like West. But, they won’t be accidents. Because an accident is something you didn’t see coming.

Posted In: Texas, Work, Environment and Public Health
Apr 17

The Green Jobs Source for Thursday, April 17, 2014

THE TOP 10 FOR APRIL 17 

One year after – The community of West, Texas is still recovering a year after a deadly blast at a fertilizer plant killed 15 people and injured hundreds. (Wall Street Journal) 

Scary – In Houston, Texas, nearly 100 schools are near toxic chemical facilities. Nationally, 4.6 million children attend schools near chemical facilities, according to a new study. (Houston Public Media) 

Things are looking up – Clean energy investment is off to a good start this year. Will it be a big year? (Christian Science Monitor) 

Building a better battery – Former Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu and a celebrated battery researcher focus on how utility scale battery technology to store renewable energy will be a game-changer. (The Atlantic) 

Land of Lincoln – Labor and environmental organizations—including the BlueGreen Alliance—held a meeting to discuss clean energy in Illinois. (Peoria Public Radio) 

$4 billion – That’s the amount of investment the Energy Department is offering in loan guarantees to projects that reduce or capture greenhouse gases(The Hill) 

Sustainable energy in the developing world – Take a look at some of the investments and policies needed to bring clean, sustainable energy to the developing world. (Nature) 

Just a bit outside – The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s forecast for the future of renewable energy in the U.S. is really off. (Clean Technica) 

Window is closing – An in depth look at the latest United Nations report says the options for limiting climate change are narrowing. (The Economist) 

Not enough – A commentary says that not enough is being done to avert the next Deepwater Horizon(New York Times) 

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

The Hill: Obama makes new solar energy push

New York Times: It’s the End of the World as We Know It . . . and He Feels Fine

New York Times: ‘Active Cleanup’ of Oil Spill Is Ended on Louisiana Coast

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