BlueGreen Alliance

Good Jobs, Clean Environment, Green Economy

Jul 28

BlueGreen Source for Tuesday, July 28, 2015

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

Florida sea levels edge closer to more and more property, putting it at risk. A new report by the Risky Business Project reveals that by 2030 $69 billion in coastal property is at risk in the state that’s not currently vulnerable to high tide. (Miami Herald)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Call it a triple threat,” said Steven Meyers, a scientist at the University of South Florida about sea-level rise, storm surge and heavy rainfall. “What this shows is that there is an increasing risk of compound flooding, from storm surge and rainfall at the same time.”

WHAT’S TRENDING

Four days left – With just a few days left until federal transportation funding expires, senators made progress on a proposal to renew funding. (The Hill)

Offshore milestone – In Europe offshore wind has been delivering energy to communities since the 1990s. Five turbines off the coast of Block Island in the U.S. will soon be doing same some time next year. (Reuters)

In the mail - In a letter to Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski and ranking member Maria Cantwell, environmental groups including Sierra Club, NRDC and others flagged several provisions they say makes the energy bill unsupportable. (The Hill)

Infrastructure game changers – The American Society of Civil Engineers identifies a series of new infrastructure game changers —new innovative trends and materials that could revolutionize the industry. (The Hill)

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

Atlanta Business Chronicle: Georgia Tech Study: Carbon reductions, lower bills both possible

NBC24: Warm, calm weather causing large algal bloom in western Lake Erie

Washington Post: 40 percent of adults on Earth have never heard of climate change

Think Progress: To Rehear Their Case Against Obama’s Climate Change Rule

That's it for The Source today. Don't forget to tell your friends about this great resource. You can sign up here.

Jul 27

The BlueGreen Source for Monday, July 27, 2015

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton announced her plans to address climate change and grow renewable energy in our country. (CBS News)

QUOTE OF THE DAY 

"It's hard to believe there are people running for president who still refuse to accept the settled science of climate change who would rather remind us they're not scientists than listen to those who are. You don't have to be a scientist to take on this urgent challenge that threatens us all, you just have to be wiling to act,” said Clinton.

WHAT’S TRENDING 

Infrastructure woes – America’s busiest rail corridor has aging infrastructure that’s beginning to fail more and more often. (New York Times)

Businesses stepping up – Thirteen of our country’s largest companies—including Alcoa, General Motors and UPS—are joining President Obama to announce measures they’ll undertake to slash emissions and become more sustainable. (The Hill) 

Alaskan wildfires – Hundreds of wildfires have blazed across Alaska this year and 2015 may be a poster child for how climate change is impacting wildfires. (Washington Post) 

Renewables = robust economy – That’s the takeaway from a new report that highlights the benefits of renewable energy to our overall economic health. (Clean Technica) 

Toxics – More than 80,000 commercially used, man-made chemicals haven’t been tested to see how they impact human health by the EPA. But new grants from the agency will help develop “tissue chips” to see how chemicals impact cells. (Pueblo Chieftain)

BLUEGREEN LINKS

New York Times: Offshore Wind Farm Raises Hopes of U.S. Clean Energy Backers

Los Angeles Times: California needs to fix its freeways. But until it does, let's exploit them

Bloomberg: Trans-Pacific Partnership: Deal or No Deal?

CNN: Dr. James Hansen gives his idea to curb climate change on Fareed Zakaria GPS

Buffalo News (NY): Steelworkers leader sees growth prospects

Albany Times-Union (NY): State plan for clean, high-tech energy ambitious, laudable

That's it for The Source today. Don't forget to tell your friends about this great resource. You cansign up here.

Posted In: The Source
Jul 24

Don’t leave clean energy tax credits blowing in the wind

This week, the Senate Finance Committee approved legislation that would revive some very important clean energy tax credits. It’s welcome progress for a set of measures that Congress has disappointingly allowed to expire. Approval by the Finance Committee is just the beginning though. It’s time for Congress to renew these vitally important incentives—including the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC)—in order to inject market predictability, create jobs, grow renewable energy and reinforce domestic manufacturing.

Without the PTC and ITC, renewable energy growth faces a headwind. These two tax credits alone have helped hundreds of companies and individuals overcome the hurdles they confront during the planning and construction phases of renewable energy projects. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) after Congress failed to renew clean energy tax credits in 2013, installations of new wind farms fell 92 percent and caused a loss of 30,000 jobs that year. Once Congress renewed the PTC, the U.S. wind energy industry added 23,000 jobs the following year.

Energy policies like renewable energy that protect clean air, clean water and maintain and improve environmental standards have bipartisan support, so there is no reason for lawmakers to delay action on renewable energy incentives any longer. According to a bipartisan poll by NRDC, majorities in Maine, New Hampshire, Virginia, Florida and Colorado support an agenda of clean water, clean air, health safeguards and action on climate change.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley recently wrote “Wind energy drives economic growth and higher wages." 

Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley recently wrote “Wind energy drives economic growth and higher wages. Iowa is home not only to an inexhaustible wind supply, but it also serves as a national leader of wind-related manufacturing facilities that produce good-paying jobs in construction, operations, maintenance and support services.”

 

With Congressional approval, clean energy tax credits that grow renewable energy can go far to benefit many more states like Iowa. Renewable energy helps to create local jobs, stimulate domestic manufacturing and limit emissions. State renewable energy mandates are further helping to stimulate demand for renewable energy.

In Michigan for example, the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) has created a demand for renewable energy that's helping stimulate growth in clean energy and manufacturing facilities across the state. Projects such as the Consumers Energy Lake Winds Energy Park have sprung up over the past few years, providing a boost of nearly $10 million for Mason County and the state of Michigan.  

While it is unfortunate clean energy tax credits have been allowed to expire at all, Congress’ renewed interest in putting these incentives back to work creating jobs, increasing efficiency and protecting the environment is an opportunity we must support. 

Posted In: Clean Energy
Jul 24

The BlueGreen Source for Friday, July 24, 2015

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

The construction of the country’s first five offshore wind turbines begins in earnest this week off of the coast of Block Island in Rhode Island. Supporters are calling it the dawn of a new clean energy future. (New York Times)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“While this voluntary program is a step forward, strong EPA standards are where we’ll see real progress in achieving the goal of up to 45 percent reduction in methane pollution by 2025 established by the president earlier this year,” said Kim Glas about EPA’sNatural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program announced yesterday.

WHAT’S TRENDING

Looming showdown – Separate legislative vehicles before the House and Senate in combination with the expiration of highway funding in a week have set the stage for intense debate on transportation spending over the next few days. (The Hill)

Step forward - Yesterday EPA announced a new voluntary partnership where companies can make specific methane emissions reductions pledges and track their progress. (Reuters)

Quietly planning – Despite what some leaders are saying publicly, states like Kentucky are quietly making preparations to comply with proposed emissions limitson existing power plants. (Washington Post)

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

The Hill: Tom Steyer gives presidential candidates climate demand

WAMU: The Chesapeake Bay Is Getting Cleaner, But Advocates Say Not Quickly Enough

Climate Central: How This El Niño Is And Isn’t Like 1997

The Guardian: Pollution isn't colorblind: environmental hazards kill more black Americans

That's it for The Source today. Don't forget to tell your friends about this great resource. You can sign up here.

Jul 23

The BlueGreen Source for Thursday, July 23, 2015

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

The Senate made progress on a six-year transportation funding bill yesterday as the measure was cleared for debate. The legislation is expected to face stiff opposition in the House. (The Hill)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“My goal has been and remains to move a bill out of committee that has support of not only the majority party but the party of our Democratic colleagues as well,” said Senator Murkowski about her energy legislation.

WHAT’S TRENDING

They have a bill – A House subcommittee yesterday approved a comprehensive energy package, with more important debate yet to come in the full committee. (National Journal)

Meanwhile, in the Senate – After months of negotiations, Senators Murkowski and Cantwell yesterday introduced their energy package yesterday in the Senate. (Alaska Dispatch News)

Interagency review – Congressional Republicans call for a full interagency review of the administration’s proposed rule to limit emissions from existing power plants before it is publicly announce this summer. (The Hill)

Making money - The first town in Massachusetts to generate 100 percent of its electricity for public buildings from renewable sources is earning $250,000 annually from the projects. (WATD)

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

The Boston Globe: US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz: A Cabinet star is born

EcoWatch: Renewable Energy Accounts for 70% of New U.S. Generating Capacity in First Half of 2015

The Hill: Poll: Swing-state voters back climate change action, gay marriage

Phys.org: World mayors sign pact to fight climate change

Citizen-Times: NC state lawmaker offers plan to delay action on EPA rules

That's it for The Source today. Don't forget to tell your friends about this great resource. You cansign up here.

Posted In: The Source
Jul 22

From NRDC: Salt Lake City's Private Sector Demonstrates Leadership on Energy Efficiency and Clean Air

The following blog by Kimi Narita Director of Strategic Engagement, City Energy Project, Santa Monica, CA has been cross posted from The Switchboard blog. The original post is available online here

Salt Lake City recently recognized the winners of the 2015 Mayor's Skyline Challenge - a competition between building owners that began in May 2014 with the goal of meeting and exceeding the air quality and energy-saving targets of the Sustainable Salt Lake Plan 2015. During the award ceremony, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, along with Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency for the U.S. Department of Energy and Matthew Dalbey, Director of the Office of Sustainable Communities for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, honored five local leaders that demonstrated remarkable improvements in their buildings' energy savings over the past year.

The following buildings and respective awards were recognized during the ceremony:

  • Basic Research received the Energy Innovator Award
  • Fidelity Investments was honored for its Sustained Excellence
  • The McGillis School took the Most Improved Energy Star Score Award
  • Newmark Grubb ACRES received the Energy Efficiency Leadership Award
  • The Salt Lake School District got the Benchmarking Champion Award

"Salt Lake City is committed to ensuring that our community is a vibrant, healthy and prosperous municipality," said Mayor Becker. "To do this, we must address unhealthy air pollutants, and our buildings can play a significant role in doing so by reducing energy waste. I applaud the leading organizations being recognized--as well as the 20 participants in this first year of competition--for helping to lead the city in reducing energy use and pollution while working to save local taxpayers money and create quality local jobs."

An estimated 40 percent of daily air pollutants during winter in Salt Lake City come from emissions attributable to the power used run buildings throughout the city.

Energy efficiency and air quality improvements in Salt Lake City have been a major focus for Mayor Becker. In 2014, Salt Lake infographic_SLC_Final_web.pngCity was selected as a member of the City Energy Project - a 10-city initiative headed by NRDC and IMT to cut energy waste in large buildings. In February of this year, the Mayor issued anExecutive Order as part of the City's Project Skyline, directing department leaders to develop energy-saving practices in all city buildings. And now, through the recognition of the Mayor's Skyline Challenge winners, the private sector is showing leadership on addressing the intersection of energy use and local air quality. It is clear that everyone needs to do their part to improve the city's air quality and ensuring a more livable, sustainable and resilient Salt Lake.

Improving efficiency in Salt Lake City's buildings would remove over 1 million pounds of pollutants, which is the equivalent to taking more than 32,000 cars off the roads for one year. Energy improvements would also avert approximately 650 million pounds of CO2 emissions from being emitted, conserve enough resources to power 37,000 homes each year, and save the City, local businesses, and residents an estimated $48 million in energy costs annually. Making large buildings more energy efficient leads to cleaner air, increases property values, curbs the effects of climate change, and promotes a strong economy. Through initiatives like Project Skyline and the Mayor's Skyline Challenge, the City is empowering property owners with the information on best practices including, benchmarking building energy use, engaging with that data to learn about building performance, retro-commissioning existing building equipment, and retrofitting spaces with improvements. Benchmarking alone has been shown to drive down energy use by 7 percent in three years based upon buildings that opt-in to a voluntary program. The key to improving Salt Lake City's energy efficiency and air quality going forward will be ensuring that leadership exhibited by the participants and winners of the Mayor's Skyline Challenge on energy efficiency permeate throughout all of the buildings in the city.

This blog post was co-written by Irene Burga, Legal Fellow with the City Energy Project.



Posted In: Natural Resources Defense Council
Jul 22

From UCS: How Do You Cut Carbon Emissions While Creating Jobs and Wealth? Ask the Northeast

The following blog by Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists has been cross posted from The Equation blog. The original post is available online here

Good climate change policies cut the emissions of heat-trapping gases, but the best ones do so at low cost while achieving other benefits at the same time. A new study confirms that the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) falls into the “best” category.

A wind turbine in Boston. The region’s cap and trade program has helped cut carbon emissions and delivered sizeable economic benefits. Photo:  J Pitha

A wind turbine in Boston. The region’s cap and trade program has helped cut carbon emissions and delivered sizeable economic benefits. Photo: J Pitha

As many readers know, RGGI limits carbon pollution from the power plants in nine New England and mid-Atlantic states. It is a “cap and trade” program that establishes an aggregate pool of “allowances” that give power plant owners the right to emit specific amounts of carbon based on the number of allowances they own. It is also an “auction and invest” program, in which the nine state governments auction off the allowances to the highest bidders, and then invest the proceeds to support measures to further reduce carbon emissions, such as through energy efficiency and renewable energy.

A respected consulting firm, The Analysis Group, just completed its second analysis of the RGGI program. This analysis tallied the costs and the benefits of the program for the years 2012-2014. Here are the main conclusions:

  • Carbon emissions from the nine states’ power plants are on track for a 50 percent reduction by 2020 compared to 2005 levels;
  • The reinvestment of auction proceeds to boost efficiency and renewables will save consumers approximately $460 million dollars from now until 2025, largely because energy efficiency investments reduce overall energy use and lower energy bills;
  • Because this region is an energy importer, placing a price on carbon and reinvesting the proceeds in efficiency and renewables allows these states to retain “energy dollars” that would otherwise be exported out of the region. The Analysis Group estimates that about $1.3 billion will be kept locally rather than exported thanks to the last three years of investments in efficiency and renewables from the program’s proceeds.
  • Keeping the energy dollars local also adds about 14,000 job years (the equivalent of 14,000 people having a job for a year), because the proceeds are being used for jobs that cannot be outsourced, such as putting solar panels on schools or retrofitting old leaky buildings.

These findings are consistent with the first Analysis Group study which examined RGGI during 2009-2011. Taken together, the Analysis Group finds that RGGI will add about 2.9billion dollars to the nine states’ economies,  while helping to cutting carbon pollution from power plants in half.

As the former chair of RGGI, I have long touted its potential benefits. So now I’m both happy and proud to note that six years of a well-documented track record is enough to confirm this fundamental fact: RGGI works.

So what is next for this program? In the short run, I expect other states will consider joining RGGI, or establishing similar regional programs of their own, as a cost-effective way to lower their carbon emissions and comply with the new EPA Clean Power Plan, slated to be finalized in the next few weeks.

But beyond that, the documented six-year success of RGGI should jumpstart a conversation about expanding RGGI to cover other high-emitting sectors of the economy, such as transportation.  We know the program works and benefits the regional economy; it is time to build upon that success and expand the program to other economic sectors, as California and Quebec have already done, and as Ontario plans to do.  And by making the program cover emissions throughout the economy (and not just from power plants), the region would also position itself for added benefits by linking with California, Quebec, and Ontario. As RGGI proves, there is strength in numbers.

About the author: Ken Kimmell is president of the Union of Concerned Scientists and has more than 30 years of experience in government, environmental policy, and advocacy. He is a national advocate for clean energy and transportation policies and a driving force behind UCS’s “Power Ahead” campaign to build a large and diverse group of clean energy leadership states. Prior to joining UCS in May 2014, Mr. Kimmell was the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), and served as chairman of the board of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. See Ken's full bio.

Posted In: Union of Concerned Scientists
Jul 22

Enormous, Humongous May Trade Deficit Slows Economy

The following blog by Dave Johnson, Fellow at the Campaign for America's Future has been cross posted from the Campaign for America's Future. The original post is available online here. 

The U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday that the May goods and services trade deficit was an enormous, humongous $40.9 billion, up a bit from an enormous, humongous $40.7 billion in April.

Our enormous, humongous trade deficit is a measure of how many jobs, factories, companies and industries we are losing to our pro-Wall Street trade policies. A trade deficit drains our economy of wealth, jobs and future economic opportunity.

Here’s the AP via The New York Times, “U.S. Trade Deficit Widens in May as Exports Struggle“:

Trade slashed nearly 2 percentage points off growth during the first three months of the year. The big drag from trade combined with an unusually severe winter sent the economy into reverse, contracting at an annual rate of 0.2 percent in the January-March period.

May imports were $230.5 billion, which was $0.3 billion less than April imports, and exports were $188.6 billion, down $1.5 billion from April.

The May goods deficit (factory jobs) was $61.5 billion.

The monthly U.S. goods deficit (factory jobs) with China increased in May to $30.6 billion, from $26.5 billion in April.

The U.S. goods deficit (factory jobs) with Japan was $6.4 billion in May.

The U.S. goods deficit (factory jobs) with South Korea was $2.4 billion in May.

Trade Deficit, Trade Policies Hurting Economy

When you close a factory in the U.S., move the jobs and production to a low-wage, low-democracy country, and bring the same goods back to the U.S. to sell in the same stores this “increases cross-border trade.” But since this trade is going in one direction, it also increases our trade deficit, which hurts our economy. Moving the jobs to places where the workers are exploited means that a few investors and executives can pocket the difference in what is paid in wages and environmental protection costs, while impoverishing the workers and communities on all sides of the trade borders.

And to top it off, the U.S. doesn’t even make these companies pay their taxes, so we literally get nothing back for the lost jobs and wages.

Our trade policies encourage companies to make things outside of the U.S. We have dropped tariffs on goods from countries that exploit workers, which encourages companies to move production to these countries so investors and executives can pocket the resulting wage differential. This makes our democracy into a competitive disadvantage in world markets.

Our tax policies also encourage production to move out of the country. Companies that make profits outside the U.S. can dodge taxes by keeping the profits out of the U.S. This encourages companies to transfer production out of the U.S. and import in ways that make it appear the profit is made elsewhere.

The U.S. also has a strong dollar policy. The U.S. dollar is “strong” which means that things made in the U.S. cost more in international markets than things made in countries with “weak” currencies. A strong dollar is great for those who already have money and want to buy things like imports, but terrible for those who need to make money by selling things.

TPP Will Make It Worse

The upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a huge trade and corporate-rights agreement being negotiated between the U.S. and 11 other countries. One example of the trade effect of this agreement (which is mostly not a trade agreement) is the competition between athletic shoe companies Nike and New Balance. Nike makes shoes outside the U.S. in countries like Vietnam. New Balance is still trying to make some of its shoes in the U.S. If TPP drops a tariff on shoes from countries like Vietnam, Nike’s profits from making things outside the U.S. will increase, putting New Balance at a competitive disadvantage that could force it to stop making shoes in the U.S.

TPP and other upcoming corporate-rights agreements were recently “fast-tracked” by the Congress – even though TPP is still secret. By fast-tracking, Congress agrees in advance not to “meddle” with the corporate-negotiated agreements, meaning that anything called a trade agreement is essentially preapproved, no matter what is in them. Congress cannot amend the agreement, can’t filibuster it, has to abide by limits to the floor debate and must pass the agreements in a limited time, which keeps the public from getting involved.

Word is that TPP negotiations will be completed at the end of July. This could throw it to Congress right in the midst of the Christmas diversion season.

***

This has been reposted from the Campaign for America's Future.

Posted In: Trade/Make it in America
Jul 22

The BlueGreen Source for Wednesday, July 22, 2015

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

Many hurdles remain for a six-year highway bill agreed upon by Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Senator Boxer before funding runs out July 31. Democrats voted against the bill, arguing they have had no time to read it. (The Hill)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“While these clean energy incentives never should have even been allowed to expire in the first place, lawmakers should use this opportunity to bring back the vitally important Production Tax Credit and other incentives,” said Kim Glas, BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director in a statement yesterday about the Senate Finance Committee’s approval of a set of tax extenders.

WHAT’S TRENDING

Congress jumps on energy reform - Members of a House committee yesterday unveiled their version of an energy reform package. Meanwhile, Senator Murkowski is working on her own version of energy reform. The House Energy and Commerce Committee holds a markup on the legislation today. (The Hill)

Meet the Pope - Dozens of city leaders from around the world gathered at the Vatican this week for a two-day conference on climate change. (New York Times)

Awaiting a decision – In Ohio, the Energy Mandates Committee is expected to deliver recommendations to lawmakers regarding the future of the state’s renewable energy mandates. (Columbus Dispatch)

Wind powered – Hewlett-Packard is the latest company to go all in on renewable energy, announcing a 12-year contract to buy 112 megawatts of wind energy. (Christian Science Monitor)

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Dozens of expired tax breaks would get renewed under bill

Wall Street Journal: Paper Makers’ Promotional Campaign Takes Page From Farmers

State Impact: Pa.’s new pipeline task force to meet this week

Reuters: Pope urges U.N. to take strong action on climate change

The Guardian: We’re exposed to hormone-disrupting BPA just by breathing

That's it for The Source today. Don't forget to tell your friends about this great resource. You cansign up here.

Posted In: The Source
Jul 21

The BlueGreen Source for Tuesday, July 21, 2015

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

For years offshore wind projects have encountered road blocks, but Deepwater Wind prepares to “break water” later this week with the delivery of five turbine foundations. (USA today)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Federal action is necessary to ensure that steps to limit methane releases are applied consistently across the industry,” write New Mexico Democrats including Democrats led by Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich—in a letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

WHAT’S TRENDING

Taking the lead – Senate Majority Leader McConnell attempts to move the Senate towards approving a multi-year spending bill for federal transportation projects. Senator Boxer and McConnell have been in negotiations all weekend and hope to release a bill today. (The Hill)

Queen City – Queen City of the Lakes—Buffalo, NY—is beginning to go through a bit of a rebound with the help of renewable energy projects. (New York Times)

New model - The WorX Printing Cooperative is a stepping stone back to a more democratic and local living economic present and future for worker-stakeholders by integrating the best of unions and cooperatives. (1worker1vote.org)

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

AP: Another Month, Another Global Heat Record Broken

On Earth: Lake Bloomers - NOAA is predicting yet another doozy of an algae season for Lake Erie this summer.

Reuters: Natural disasters forced 20 million from their homes in 2014: report

AP: Mayors at Vatican Seek 'Bold Climate Agreement'

Sacramento Bee: California’s sensible evangelism needs to be heard

That's it for The Source today. Don't forget to tell your friends about this great resource. You cansign up here.

Posted In: The Source