BlueGreen Alliance

Good Jobs, Clean Environment, Green Economy

May 21

The BlueGreen Source for Thursday, May 21, 2015

EDITOR’S NOTE: The BlueGreen Source will be off until Tuesday. 

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

Worldwide there were 7.7 million people working in renewable energy jobs in 2014. (CleanTechnica)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

In a press release announcing the Vehicle Innovation Act, the BlueGreen Alliance’s Executive Director Kim Glas said, "Investing in advanced vehicle technology research, innovation, commercialization and manufacturing is critical to position America to lead in a clean, modern, global economy. Enhancing research, development and commercialization of advanced car and truck technology as laid out in today’s bill—together with separate measures to spur manufacturing—will drive growth across the auto manufacturing supply chain, securing current jobs and growing new ones that will continue our manufacturing recovery nationwide. We thank Senators Peters, Alexander and Stabenow for introducing this bill and its contribution to advancing American competitiveness and growth."

WHAT’S TRENDING 

High-risk chemical plants – That’s the focus of a story that looks at high-risk chemical plantsnear a school and other parts of the East St. Louis community. (KSDK) 

$212 million – That’s how much Transocean—the owner of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded in 2010 killing 11 workers and spilling millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico—will pay in a settlement of a lawsuit over its role in the tragedy. (The Hill)

Most efficient city – If you’re wondering what the most energy efficient city in the country is look no further than Boston. The city won out in the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s biennial City Energy Efficiency Scorecard. It’s the second consecutive scorecard from the group that places Boston in the top spot. (Washington Post)

A patch, but what then? – With a two-month patch set to keep the nation’s Highway Trust Fundsolvent set to pass, eyes are looking forward to the potential for a long-term bill from Congress but the two bodies are far apart as to how to pay for it. (Politico) 

Freezing renewables – An effort to freeze North Carolina’s clean energy laws is on the fast track in the state legislature. (WRAL) 

BLUEGREEN LINKS

New York Times: Obama Recasts Climate Change as a Peril With Far-Reaching Effects

The Hill: Federal agencies turn to citizen scientists

CNN: Jeb Bush rails against 'intellectual arrogance' in climate change debate

ABC News: California Farmers Offer to Give up Some Water, Avoid Cuts

EDF Voices: 5 reasons clean energy investments beat expectations

Orlando Sentinel (FL): Shift to clean energy helps Florida's low-income citizens

Alamogordo News (NM: Udall: Clean energy bill would save consumers $25.1 billion

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette (IN): Donnelly warns against fast-track deal

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
May 19

The BlueGreen Source for Tuesday, May 19, 2015

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

Kansas is set to repeal its renewable energy mandate, instead making it voluntary. The measure was passed by the legislature and now goes to the governor’s desk. (The Hill)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“We have received over one million comments, and 87.1 percent of those comments we have counted so far—we are only missing 4,000—are supportive of this rule,” said EPA AdministratorMcCarthy to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in March.

WHAT’S TRENDING

Shrug off – Many governors have expressed reluctance about following Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s call to just say no to the Clean Power Plan. (BNA)

100 speeches - Senator Whitehouse of Rhode Island yesterday gave his 100th speech calling forclimate action. It’s an effort he’s pursued in order to shine a light on the facts about climate change. (WPRI)

Global agreement – California Governor Brown has indicated he plans to sign a new agreement with world leaders to improve cooperation on addressing environmental challenges. (Los Angeles Times)

Do more – That’s the call to action issued by the leaders of Germany and France, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande, on Tuesday in the lead up to the Paris climate talks. (Reuters) 

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

Star Tribune - Al Gore confident in global deal to fight climate change at landmark Paris conference

The Guardian: Renewable energy target calls for 1,000 new wind turbines, inquiry told

Associated Press: Future for warming US: Not just the heat but the humanity

Business Green: Official: EU industrial emissions fall 4.5 per cent in 2014

Mother Jones: 6 Ways to Fix the Climate While Fighting Economic Inequality 

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

Posted In: The Source
May 18

The BlueGreen Source for Monday, May 18, 2015

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

House Republican Rep. Marchant introduced legislation to outright eliminate the Production Tax Credit (PTC), a tax credit that incentivizes the construction of wind energy projects and that's been highly successful. (Clean Technica)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Getting serious about building modern infrastructure has an additional benefit: the chance to drive forward national manufacturing recovery and growth,” writes BlueGreen Alliance Senior Policy Advisor, Zoe Lipman in a New York Times letter to the editor.

WHAT’S TRENDING

Fast Track – House Republicans say they have enough votes to pass Fast-Track Trade Authority in the House later this week. (Yahoo)

Slippery math – The results of the war on workers through right-to-work legislation may vary slightly from state-to-state but the same tired arguments are used every time. (Newsweek)

Trading emissions – German Chancellor Angela Merkel this weekend called for the European Union’s Emissions Trading System to become a global system for cutting emissions. (Reuters)

Have a plan – The editors of the Tampa Tribune urges state leaders to have a plan for sea level rise in the state that would affect 75 percent of its 20 million residents living in coastal counties. (The Tampa Tribune)

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

Associated Press: Storm system pushes east after drenching Plains

Climate Central: May CO2 Peak Shows Trend Is Up, Up, Up

Associated Press: Canada's government plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030

Kennebec Journal: State neglects its duty to get the lead out of children’s environments

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
May 15

Mapping the way forward on preventing powerful methane emissions

What do Boston, New York, Indianapolis and Syracuse all have in common? They’re all cities part of the Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) methane leaks tracking tool. Just this week, EDF unveiled Los Angeles as the latest city to be added to the interactive data map that’s a fascinating bird’s eye view of where the methane leaks are located in a given city. The Google map and data are the latest powerful additions to our arsenal of information better arming cities, states, environmentalists and the utilities and workers—including more than 4,000 members of the Utility Workers Union of America employed at Southern California Gas—doing this work to prevent methane leaks as a potent source of emissions.

Image credit: EDF

What, where and how

Even a cursory look at EDF’s map of Los Angeles quickly reveals methane leaks are all over the city. As this distribution infrastructure ages—especially in the largest and oldest cities across the country—it’s becoming an increasing problem. Uncombusted methane lost through the system, pound for pound, has at least 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide over a 100-year time frame, making it a truly potent contributor to climate change.

The potency of methane in combination with the aging distribution system poses a growing threat, but also an opportunity. The scope of the problem is that the U.S. consumes approximately 25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas annually. Natural gas for consumers and businesses run through approximately 1.25 million miles of distribution pipelines in communities throughout the U.S. Nine percent of our nation’s natural gas distribution pipelines—approximately 112,000 miles worth—are made from leak-prone materials such as cast iron and unprotected steel and in many cases date back beyond World War II.

Why is repair and replacement important?

The opportunities presented by the aging distribution system are both environmental and economic. Repairing and replacing natural gas distribution pipelines has the potential to prevent the emission of 81 million metric tons of climate change pollution—the equivalent of taking 17 million cars off the road for a year. If we’re going to truly make an impact limiting emissions over the next few years to meet both domestic and global emissions commitments, it will be necessary to think creatively about news ways to do that.

Making distribution pipeline repairs and upgrades deliver for the economy by putting people to work. A BlueGreen Alliance report—Interconnected—explores the scenario of moving from 30- to 10-Year pipeline replacement scenario. Accelerating the timeline for repairing leak-prone sections of our nation’s natural gas pipeline distribution system create more than 300,000 good, family-supporting jobs across the economy, save consumers $1.5 billion in charges for lost gas.

Knowing which cities and neighborhoods are seeing the most leaks is one of many steps in preventing emissions in the first place. The EDF’s mapping tool is working to educate and engage a wider audience about this problem. In partnership with EDF, the BlueGreen Alliance is urging the administration to act boldly with supportive policies to achieve emissions reductions and working with partners and allies to develop ways to reap all possible economic impacts.

This important work is a down payment on our commitment to do better where we can.  The economic opportunity and the environmental repercussions are an opportunity that cannot be missed.

Posted In: Infrastructure
May 15

The BlueGreen Source for Friday, May 15, 2015

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

Lawmakers have just days left to act to prevent the Highway Trust Fund from running dry. Lawmakers are working on solutions that could extend the funding anywhere from two months until the end of the year. (The Hill)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Those of us who depend on clean waterways for drinking water and recreation ought to be saying ‘That’s enough!’ to this alarmist blowback about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed ‘Clean Water Rule,’” write the editors of the Minneapolis Star Tribune about the EPA’s proposed Waters of the U.S. rule.

WHAT’S TRENDING

Payoff – Minnesota firefighters’ tireless advocacy to ban flame retardants is as close as they have ever been to paying off. If passed, it could become the most restrictive law on flame retardants in the nation. (Pioneer Press)

Buzz kill – More than 40 percent of the country’s bee colonies have died in the last 12 months according to the Department of Agriculture, continuing an overall trend in bee deaths. (The Hill)

Defeated, for now – Right-to-work legislation in the Illinois state legislature failed to gain enough support to move forward. Advocates of the law saw they hope to revive the measure. (ABC7)

A step back – The Kansas legislature passed a bill repealing the state’s renewable energy standards, replacing it with voluntary goals. (Lawrence Journal-World)

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

Bloomberg: Clean Energy ETFs Are on a Tear

Reuters: India, China commit to work together on climate change

Climate Central:El Niño Gains Momentum, Could Bring Warmest Year

Utility Dive: Maryland Gov. Hogan signs community shared solar bills into law 

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
May 14

Reinvest in America’s aging, overburdened transportation infrastructure

The following blog is by Zoe Lipman, Senior Policy Advisor for the BlueGreen Alliance.

The opinion piece, “Let our Cities Move,” in Wednesday’s New York Times by Mayors Bill DeBlasio of New York City and Mick Cornett of Oklahoma City is bipartisan, inter-regional and compelling. They underscore the critical importance of reinvesting in America’s aging, overburdened transportation infrastructure of all kinds as a critical enabler of individual economic opportunity, and our global economic and business competitiveness. Modern transportation infrastructure can also greatly improve quality of life and environmental performance. The mayors also stressed the strong local support for investing in transportation in communities across the country, and the essential complementary role of long term, federal funding to make these major projects possible.

Getting serious about building the modern infrastructure our country needs has an additional benefit—the chance to drive forward national manufacturing recovery and growth.

Getting serious about building the modern infrastructure our country needs has an additional benefit—the chance to drive forward national manufacturing recovery and growth. The BlueGreen Alliance, working with the Environmental Law and Policy Center, released a report earlier this year in which we mapped the manufacturing supply chain for just one part of this infrastructure: transit and passenger rail (subways, commuter rail, Amtrak). We found more than 200 manufacturing companies in 39 states that manufacture rail cars or major rail components such as propulsion systems, electronics, seating and the like. When we looked in detail in just 10 states, we found another 500 subcomponent manufacturers serving this industry. Were we to look in detail at the remaining 40 states—or, for example, at manufacturers of buses or road construction equipment—we know that we would find hundreds of additional manufacturing companies and many thousands of manufacturing jobs that depend on our national commitment to transportation infrastructure.

These companies are found both local to and far from the transit systems themselves. Rail cars built for Denver’s transit system include major components from seven states including Georgia, Ohio, New Hampshire and Wisconsin. New Amtrak locomotives include parts built by 69 suppliers in 23 states, Workers build wheelsets for the Acela  in central Pennsylvania and subway components in southwestern Missouri and upstate New York, even as they likely depend on our roads and bridges to get to work.  Meanwhile investments in transit can also bring back good manufacturing jobs to city communities.

Image courtesy of Denver RTD

These manufacturing companies and jobs—and the thousands of jobs operating our transit and highway systems—are put at risk by uncertainty and underfunding, but stand to thrive and grow if we make the investment in transportation our economy demands. Every community stands to gain from a national commitment to the next generation of transportation infrastructure.

 

May 14

The BlueGreen Source for Thursday, May 14, 2014

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

Is your city one of the top 50 in the country where the combination of pollen, ozone and climate change are making allergy symptoms especially severe? (Washington Post)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Starving rail of funding will not enable safer train travel,” U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey (D – NY).  

WHAT’S TRENDING

One-fifth – House Republicans last night voted to slash about one-fifth of Amtrak’s budget and fought off attempts to provide money for advanced speed control technology. (Politico)

Wrong – The Pope’s highest advisor says U.S. critics are wrong to say the Pope and the church don’t have a role to play on climate change. (Bloomberg)

All out attack – Senator Capito yesterday introduced a bill attacking the Clean Power Plan. Her legislation would overturn the Obama administration’s landmark climate regulations. (The Hill)

Wrong for Missouri – The Missouri legislature has sent a right-to-work bill to Governor Jay Nixon’s desk. (AP) 

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

CBS News: Antarctica is melting from above and below

Burlington Free Press: Energy bill shifts focus to renewables, electricity

Crain’s Detroit: ITC completes final phase of renewable energy transmission line from Michigan Thumb

The Hill: House committee to markup toxic chemical reform bill

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
May 13

From NWF: Endangered Species Day: Climate Change Threatens Wildlife

Climate change and business as usual could threaten 1 in 6 plant and animal species with extinction. Last month a study published in Science by Mark Urban found an accelerating extinction risk due to climate change. Dr. Urban’s study found that as the Earth’s temperatures increase, species will disappear at an accelerating rate, rising with every degree in temperature increase.

2013 marked the 40th anniversary of the landmark Federal Endangered Species Act. The ESA was devised to protect plant and animal species from extinction. Species are put into two categories, “endangered” and “threatened.”

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as of September 2013, there are a total of 457 animal species and 703 plant species listed as endangered and 173 animal species and 154 plant species listed as threatened. Our region is home to a diverse array of wildlife that are so important to our culture and well-being.  But many of these species will face a bleak future if we do not address climate change. 

A juvenile blue crab. Photo by ChesapeakeBayEO, Flickr Creative Commons.

A juvenile blue crab. Photo by ChesapeakeBayEO, Flickr Creative Commons.

The Chesapeake Bay’s iconic blue crabs will likely be affected by warming water temperatures. Warmer water means a decrease the amount of dissolved oxygen. When coupled with the Bay’s pollution problems, this is particularly problematic. Warmer winter temperatures also mean changes in the crab’s behavior and movement.  More CO2 in the air is causing ocean acidification and impacting the way crabs produce their shells resulting in higher death rates. 

As temperatures continue to rise some species are at risk of running out of suitable habitat. The endangered Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel, the largest variety of tree squirrel in North America, is at high risk from sea-level rise.  Most of its current habitat lies along the coastline of the Chesapeake Bay, an area where sea level has been rising faster than elsewhere along the Atlantic coast. The squirrel relies on mature pine and hardwood forests to provide the food and habitat it needs. Past logging, development and farming have limited the habitat of the species and large losses of habitat could have a serious impact on it.

Rising sea levels threaten to inundate estuaries and coastal wetlands. Extreme weather such as super-storms and droughts also impact wildlife.  2014 was the hottest year on record, and 13 of the 15 hottest years on record have occurred since 2000. Ducks, geese and other waterfowl across the country are changing behaviors and migration patterns.

We know that climate change is a major threat to wildlife. We need to prepare and cope with current and future climate impacts. We also need to take action to head off the worst impacts of climate change so that we aren’t adding more species to the endangered list. The National Wildlife Federation and members of the Maryland Climate Coalition are working to do this by increasing the amount of clean, renewable energy Maryland uses and renewing Maryland’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan.

Follow the Maryland Climate Coalition on Facebook and Twitter to find out what you can do to help.

Posted In: Climate Change, National Wildlife Federation
May 13

From NRDC: New NRDC Study Highlights Huge Potential for Energy Efficiency in Affordable Multifamily Housing

The following blog by Raya Salter, a senior utility advocate in NRDC’s urban solutions and energy programs in New York has been cross-posted from NRDC's Switchboard blog. The original post is available online here

The potential for cost-effective energy savings in the rental apartments where millions of low-income Americans live is substantial -- as much as 32 percent for electricity and 24 percent for natural gas. That's the good news out today in a new analysis NRDC has released with our partners in the Energy Efficiency for All project. In fact, in the states we studied-- Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia -- renters, landlords, utilities and regulators who take advantage of opportunities to save energy can create benefits worth $2.90 to $3.50 for every dollar invested. That's a giant bang for the buck.

These findings are great news for the stakeholders involved but they are also good for the general public in ways you may not realize.

First, the advantage to low-income renters: Many of them spend 20 percent or more of their incomes on energy, often forcing them to choose between paying light or heating bills or for food and medicine. And, often health costs for these residents are higher because drafty rooms and mold from leaking water create unhealthy conditions. Upgrading the energy efficiency of these homes will mean improved health and comfort along with lower bills.

For landlords, boosting the efficiency of their buildings and apartments can help them save big money on one of their largest expenses--energy. And, they can enjoy the pluses that come from having more financially stable tenants.

For utilities and regulators, these potential energy savings also offer major opportunities. Individual measures like switching out inefficient light bulbs, caulking windows and insulating water heaters can save millions collectively. Upgrades in thousands of apartments can help utilities and regulators lessen the strain on electric grids in metropolitan areas where many low-income renters live. For utilities, that, in turn, means lower costs, fewer outages, and happier customers. (Also, more bills paid on time.) And for both utilities and regulators, beefing up the energy efficiency of hundreds of thousands of apartments can help meet the important carbon-pollution reduction targets that are part of the EPA's Clean Power Plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants.

When renters in affordable buildings save money on energy, what we in the field wonkily call non-energy benefits start to accrue to us all. Improved health outcomes for residents, particularly those with asthma and other respiratory diseases, mean significantly fewer taxpayer dollars are spent on healthcare. (Taxpayers cover more than 40 percent of the nation's almost $3 trillion in healthcare bills through programs like Medicare and Medicaid.) We also reduce the number of emergency services calls our fire departments and EMTs receive: When homes are poorly insulated, tenants forced to used stoves and dangerous space heaters to keep their apartments warm sometimes cause fires. Likewise, low-income tenants can face heat stroke and other heat-related health problems if they can't afford to keep their homes cool in the hottest parts of the summer.

Then there are the climate benefits. Less energy used means less carbon pollution. And that means fewer dangerous heat waves, fewer severe hurricanes, fewer lake-parching droughts and fewer out-of-control wildfires. The benefits of all that should be self-evident.

For years, though, when it has come to state- and utility-funded energy efficiency programs, the rental homes where low-income people live have been neglected. For many in the field, it has been much easier to upgrade single-family homes and businesses. But our findings -- released along with a best-practices guide for utilities and regulators -- show that utilities in every service territory in the states we studied can benefit from energy efficiency programs that target the apartment buildings where low-income tenants live.

The savings are out there waiting for us to harvest. Our nation, our renters, our landlords, our utilities and our regulators will reap some amazing benefits when we do.

Posted In: Clean Energy, Natural Resources Defense Council
May 13

From AFL-CIO: Fast Track Fails to Advance in Senate

The following blog by Kenneth Quinnell was originally posted in the AFL-CIO Now Blog. The original post is available online here

 

A bill promoting Fast Track authority for international trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership failed to gather enough votes to advance today. On a largely party-line vote, the measure got 52 votes, eight short of the 60 needed to overcome a possible filibuster and bring the legislation to the floor.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the outcome was a temporary victory:

The Hatch-Wyden-Ryan Fast Track bill is halted—for now. That’s good news for America’s working families, domestic producers and communities. We appreciate those senators who stood with working people today against a bill that would have led to undemocratic trade deals that lower wages and eliminate jobs. This vote sends a message loud and clear.

If Congress is serious about creating jobs, reviving U.S. manufacturing and raising wages, it needs to use its leverage to reshape the terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It must remove special legal privileges for foreign investors, add enforceable rules to prevent currency manipulation, strengthen rules of origin and redouble efforts to ensure workers everywhere—from Hannibal, Mo., to Hanoi, Vietnam—can organize and bargain collectively.

 

Posted In: Trade/Make it in America