BlueGreen Alliance

Good Jobs, Clean Environment, Green Economy

Nov 25

Five hard truths about America’s infrastructure

The sorry state of America’s infrastructure received some well deserved screen time this week on 60 Minutes during a segment called, “Falling Apart: America’s Neglected Infrastructure.” Steve Kroft spoke with leaders including former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR), Amtrak’s president and CEO and former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The consensus amongst everyone was that we can’t afford to continue to uphold the status quo on how we’re currently managing America’s infrastructure.

The I-35 bridge collapse in Minnesota in 2007 to the I-5 Skagit bridge collapse in 2013 in Washington state only begin to tell the story. According to 60 Minutes, one out of every nine bridges is structurally deficient. LaHood called them “dangerous.”

Pictured: The Liberty Bridge in Pittsburgh, PA was built in 1928, at a time when cars and trucks weighed less.

“Our infrastructure is on life support right now. That's what we're on,” said Ray LaHood, former Secretary of Transportation.

In case you missed the segment, we recap for you the top five alarming statements about America’s infrastructure:

  • “Our infrastructure is on life support right now. That's what we're on,” said Ray LaHood, former Secretary of Transportation.
     
  • “There are more than more than 4,000 bridges in metropolitan Pittsburgh and 20 percent of them are structurally deficient, including one of the city's main arteries,” said Andy Hermann,” a past president of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
  • “Every day in Pittsburgh five million people travel across bridges that either need to be replaced or undergo major repairs,” said Andy Hermann, a past president of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
  • “I've actually been trying now for 44 months to at least get a hearing on transportation finance on the Highway Trust Fund that is slowly going bankrupt, and we've not had a single one,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer.
  • “If Congress wants to do something now, build this bridge. It's ready to be done. It's been ready for two years. Build it. It's tangible evidence that they can really get something done,” said Amtrak President and CEO about the Portal Bridge for trains in Hackensack, NJ.

The problems extend well beyond bridges however to all aspects of our infrastructure including airports, ports, water and wastewater management systems and more. The pervasive problems chronic underinvestment in America’s infrastructure have caused led BlueGreen Alliance to begin the Repair America campaign—an effort to modernize the infrastructure systems we rely on every day both to address climate change and to create good jobs. Through this campaign, we’re raising awareness about all of the challenges and opportunities tackling these issues present to us.

Americans can’t afford Congress’ weak resolve on fixing America’s infrastructure—there’s too much at risk. We must do more to protect ourselves and our communities from the disastrous impacts a crumbling infrastructure present to us.

Posted In: Infrastructure
Nov 24

Voters send Congress clear marching orders on climate change

Regardless of the outcome of this year’s midterm elections and the candidates elected, one issue remains. Addressing climate change is still a top issue for Americans. A new post-election poll conducted by Hart Research Associates shows 64 percent of voters in each state polled favor action to address climate change.

A new post-election poll shows 64 percent of voters in each state polled favor action to address climate change.

The poll surveyed 500 voters in North Carolina, Iowa, Colorado, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Michigan and specifically asked for feelings about the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule to limit carbon emissions from power plants—called the Clean Power Plan—and about support for increasing the use of renewable energy.  

The topline results of the poll according to the Sierra Club include the following:

  • At least 64 percent of those surveyed in each state want their Senator to address the effects of climate change­—with a high of 69 percent in Colorado. The same is true of 52 percent of Republicans in Iowa, 50 percent of Republicans in Colorado, and 49 percent (a plurality) of Republicans in North Carolina.
  • The EPA’s plan to limit carbon emissions from power plants is broadly supported, with at least 64 percent of those polled in each state favoring the Clean Power Plan.
  • Those surveyed in each state prefer candidates who support increasing the use of renewable energy, rather than traditional energy. At least 63 percent in each state would back clean energy candidates -- with a high of 73 percent in Iowa.
  • At least 63 percent of those who took the poll in each state favor candidates who accept the scientific consensus on climate disruption over those who do not.

It’s time to stop deliberating on the existence of climate change. It’s a waste of precious time. The message is clear that Americans want climate action, now not later. 

Posted In: Clean Energy, Climate Change, Sierra Club
Nov 24

The BlueGreen Source for Monday, November 24, 2014

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

In October, wind power amounted to two-thirds of new electrical generating capacity, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Projects. (Today’s Energy Solutions)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Our infrastructure's on life support right now,” LaHood said on CBS’s “60 Minutes” piece on America's infrastructure deficiency.

WHAT’S TRENDING

Innovation & investment – President Obama’s senior climate advisor, John Podesta, urges the next president must be a climate hawk if we’re to continue making a difference in controlling carbon emissions. (RTCC)

Icy retreat – In 30 years all of the glaciers in Glacier National Park could be gone due to warming temperatures. (New York Times)

Unavoidable – According to a new report by the World Bank, more needs to be done to prevent the consequences of climate change than slashing greenhouse gas emissions. (The Hill)

Banking on clean air – East Tennessee officials view cleaner air as a way to attract new business to the communities. (Knoxville News-Sentinel)

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

USA Today: Report: Wind power saves $1.2 billion each year

Los Angeles Times: White House threatens to put brakes on alternative fuels

New York Times: Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventional Fuels

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
Nov 21

The BlueGreen Source for Friday, November 21, 2014

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Sierra Club and the Clean Air Task Force release a report showing cutting methane emissions in half is a feasible goal. (The Hill)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Wind energy provides a powerful success story. In 2012, wind was our nation’s fastest-growing source of new electrical capacity. Wind power is a clean, renewable energy source that produces no greenhouse gases or air pollution and consumes virtually no water,” said Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director and Leo Gerard International President of the United Steelworkers in a joint op-ed. (The Hill)

WHAT’S TRENDING

Shortfall – The United Nations Climate Fund fell short of its $10 billion target  to help developing countries adapt to climate change. (ABC News)

Agreement – In climate talks, China and India are said to have taken a dramatic step forward by agreeing to include refrigerants in a new climate treaty. (Bloomberg)

Letter campaign – Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey writes the Obama administration to express support for climate action as well as request special consideration for the energy industry in his state. (The Republic)

Wheeling & dealing – Last week diplomats from all over the world sat up and took notice of the U.S.-China climate agreement. Some experts say this agreement has laid the groundwork for a strong agreement at the Paris negotiations. (Bloomberg)

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

Huffington Post: 10 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint This Thanksgiving

Salon: House Republicans just passed a bill forbidding scientists from advising the EPA on their own research

Cleveland Plain Dealer: The Ohio green-energy jobs report that, shamefully, stayed buried until now: editorial

MPR News: 6 ways Minnesotans can adapt homes for climate change

Washington Post: Why environmentalists think the political tide is turning on climate change

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
Nov 20

The BlueGreen Source for Thursday, November 20, 2014

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

Source: Yale Project on Climate Communication

A new Yale study reveals two-thirds of the public acknowledge climate it change is happening—which is up from last year at this time. However, what many people don’t agree on are the causes of climate change. (Yale)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"My interpretation of 2014 elections is not standing up for things you deeply believe in is not a good idea; not standing up for things you believe in an attempt to protect yourself doesn't seem like a good strategy," said Tom Steyer reflecting about the midterm elections and preparing for his next moves.

WHAT’S TRENDING

29 million homes – Experts predict renewable energy could power 29 million homes by 2030 in U.S. (Click Green)

CA hits pause – Technical difficulties have led officials from the California Air Resources Board to postpone its carbon credits auction. (Sacramento Bee)

Plan of action – After the U.S.-China agreement on climate change, specifics emerge from Chinese leaders about how they plan to diversify their energy mix and lower emissions. (New York Times)

Good odds – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse who recently introduced legislation to put a $42 per ton tax on carbon emissions expressed optimism about the bill’s prospects over the next year. Senator Portman echoed that same optimism on his energy efficiency legislation. (The Hill)

Vulnerable to climate change – Former New Mexico governor and Energy Secretary Bill Richardson explains how the Clean Power Plan offers unique benefits to Native American communities. (Arizona Republic)

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

USA Today: Climate change to increase flood, crop insurance losses

Wired: Amazon Vows to Run on 100 Percent Renewable Energy

Sacramento Business Journal: Report: Sacramento residential solar grew six fold in six years

The Pueblo Chieftain:‘Cli-fi’ flicks fueling eco-festivals

RTCC: Pacific Islands face bleak future as 1.5C warming target slips away

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
Nov 19

Deepwater One Offshore Wind Project Can Create 300 Long Island Jobs, With LIPA's Help

The following blog by Kit Kennedy, Director of Energy and Transportation in New York was originally posted in NRDC’s Switchboard blog. The original post is available online here

Offshore wind power is ready for primetime and poised to make a significant contribution to the economy and to job numbers in the United States and here in New York.

That was the message yesterday, as offshore wind power developer Deepwater Wind joined Long Island labor leaders and the Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone to announce the company’s plan to create 300 direct jobs on Long Island in the offshore wind power industry. “We’re delighted to be partnering with the Building Trades and Long Island Federation of Labor to develop the skilled trades, supply chain and facilities here on Long Island to serve the growing offshore wind industry,” Deepwater Wind’s CEO Jeff Grybowski said at a press conference, where he discussed plans to build a 1,000-megawatt offshore wind power project, located about 30 miles east of Montauk, called Deepwater One. “From engineers to construction workers, our first project would mean a wide range of new jobs for several hundred Long Islanders. We’re anxious to move forward on this path-breaking project.”

Like a lot of promising offshore wind power projects currently on the drawing boards, to move forward, this one needs some support, in this case, from the Long Island Power Authority board. It’s scheduled to decide at its December 17th board meeting whether the initial component of the Deepwater One project (just over 200 megawatts) is on the short list of contract awards for Long Island’s 280-megawatt renewable energy request for proposals. Deepwater One already has abundant support from business and labor leaders across the state, and from a bipartisan group of Long Island elected officials. In fact, 14 of them, State Assembly members from Long Island, recently to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: “Prevalent wind conditions found offshore Long Island present a tremendous opportunity to generate clean, renewable energy at the capacity needed to meet NY State’s renewable and energy efficiency goals, including reaching the 50% carbon emission reduction by 2030 and the 80% reduction by 2050.” NRDC agrees and urges LIPA to include DeepwaterOne on the short list for a renewable energy contract.

The planned Deepwater One project would supply clean electricity to about 120,000 Long Island homes. Just as importantly, it will help solve Long Island’s power supply problems. The area is in what energy planners call a “load pocket” — a significantly constrained electric service area. Because it’s so densely populated, Long Island, like much of the New York metropolitan area, has little room to build new electric generation and transmission infrastructure. Deepwater One’s infrastructure would be located offshore, where room is abundant and infrastructure can be designed to protect important sea life and habitats. (Deepwater Wind has already entered into a precedent-setting agreement to protect highly endangered North Atlantic right whales as it develops this project.) Deepwater One could help solve Long Island’s electric supply problem fast, with pre-construction slated to begin next year, construction in 2017, and commercial operations by 2018.

As the Long Island Assembly members who wrote Governor Cuomo noted, the Long Island coastline is a great place to develop offshore wind power. In fact, the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority, the state’s energy authority, estimates that 2,500 megawatts or more of offshore wind could be built by 2025. Importantly, not only does offshore wind power create more jobs than any other kind of electric generation, it produces the most power when demand is highest — on hot summer afternoons, when high electric demand stresses our electric grid, and on cold winter days and nights, when the use of electricity for heating can skyrocket.

Around the world, offshore wind power is growing fast. In European waters alone, there are currently more than 70 projects supplying more than 73,000 megawatts of electricity. China and Japan are getting in on the action, too. Here in the U.S., we’re playing catch-up, for now. But, as today’s announcement shows, the industry is poised for success, ready to offer good-paying jobs and pollution-free energy.

To make those possibilities a reality, all that needs happen is some smart policies that will get projects like Deepwater One off the drawing boards and into the water.

LIPA, now’s the time to step up.
Posted In: Natural Resources Defense Council
Nov 19

Biden: 'Unions Are the Reason We Have the Best Workers in the World'

Posted In: United Steelworkers
Nov 19

The BlueGreen Source for Wednesday, November 19, 2014

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

Photo source: NOAA

More than half of the U.S. is covered with snow this morning and 80 percent has freezing temperatures. Here’s a cool picture that shows the full extent of that coverage. (Syracuse Post-Standard)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Here we are, weeks away from the 30th anniversary, and it's tragic that so many victims remain unsatisfactorily compensated and the environmental remediation remains incomplete," said Bennett Freeman senior vice-president for Sustainability Research and Policy at Calvert Investments about the Bhopal, India chemical disaster that killed thousands and exposed hundreds of thousands to a toxic chemical.

WHAT’S TRENDING

Won’t back down – Despite threats by Republicans, EPA head Gina McCarthy will continue to pursue efforts that fight climate change and curb carbon emissions. (Washington Post)

By the book – A major textbook publisher in Texas has announced it will drop passages from its books that cast doubt on climate science. (Houston Chronicle)

Anti-EPA agenda – Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX) calls out House Republicans for their anti-health and anti-EPA agenda. (The Hill)

Steps closer to clean power - A closer look at energy efficiency efforts reveals ability of these policies to help states meet targets set in the Clean Power Plan. (E&E News)

Mounting pressure – Responding to pressure to act, French President François Hollande urged countries to cut carbon emissions. (Wall Street Journal)

Lake effect – Ohio leaders consider legislation to set standards limiting water use that would impact other Great Lakes states and Canada. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

Reuters: Exclusive: NRG betting big on rooftop solar in California

New York Times: A Road Test of Alternative Fuel Visions

New York Times: Abu Dhabi Energy Company Aims for Solar-Powered Travel

Think Progress: Over 1,400 Endangered Species Are Threatened By Climate Change, Says New ‘Red List’

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
Nov 18

Let’s push Congress to support good jobs, clean energy

Let’s push Congress to support good jobs, clean energy

Clean energy has grown leaps and bounds because of common sense policies like the Production Tax Credit for wind energy and the Advanced Energy Project Credit. These policies were growing jobs while also protecting our environment.

The gridlock in Congress has ensured these credits weren’t renewed. And, if we’re to build a clean energy economy with good jobs, we need them.

Let’s look at how the Production Tax Credit has grown good jobs already. With the support of the tax credit, the U.S. wind industry has grown significantly. According to the American Wind Energy Association:

  • America has over 550 U.S. manufacturing facilities across 43 states make equipment for the wind energy industry. Just look at the map below.

 

  • The price of wind power has dropped by 43 percent over the past four years, benefiting utilities and consumers, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Annually, the wind energy industry has driven an average of $15 billion of private investment in each of the past five years.
  • Over 70 percent of U.S. Congressional Districts have either a wind project or wind-related manufacturing facility bringing local economic development to the region.

Jobs in the wind industry and the manufacturing sector that benefit from these tax credits are good-paying jobs. They support families. They’re the kind of jobs our country needs and the kind we must continue to fight for. But, when tax policies like this face uncertain futures, companies don’t invest—and that means they aren’t creating jobs.

Similarly, the Advanced Energy Project Credit (48C) is a proven job creator. This tax credit leverages private investment and grows family-sustaining jobs in the manufacturing sector across the country.

Jobs in the wind industry and the manufacturing sector that benefit from these tax credits are good-paying jobs. They support families.

So, who’s against this? Glad you asked. Groups backed by billionaires dedicated to keeping their own tax credits but destroying competition from other energy sources, like the Koch Brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity , are working overtime to make sure the Production Tax Credit and other vital clean energy tax credits don’t get renewed or get taken off the books. Right after the election, Americans for Prosperity started buying ad-blitzes to influence lawmakers to stop efforts to revive these job creating tax credits, telling lawmakers that, “A vote for the [credit] is a vote in support of President Obama’s destructive climate action plan.”

Let’s fight back. Write your member of Congress and tell them that just because they’re in a “lame duck session” doesn’t mean they shouldn’t stand up and fight for important things like these two tax credits.

Click here to tell  Congress that America needs good jobs and clean energy and the Production Tax Credit for wind and the Advanced Energy Project Credit are vital to making that happen.

Posted In: Clean Energy
Nov 18

The BlueGreen Source for Monday, November 18, 2014

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

It’s possible your state bird won’t be around much longer, according to a new report by the National Audubon Society. Of the 588 bird species surveyed, 314 are at risk for losing significant amounts of their habitat to a changing climate. (Time)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“You’ve got a growing general awareness down here that sea-level rise is a now problem, not a future problem. That creates a different atmosphere right across the political spectrum,” said Leonard Berry, former director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton about climate politics in Florida.

WHAT’S TRENDING

Taxing test – A changing political landscape means the Production Tax Credit for clean energy faces a headwind for renewal today and in the next Congress. (Businessweek)

Greening of a president – President Obama is taking steps toward making climate change policies some of the landmark achievements of his presidency. (Politico)

Carbon fee legislation – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) and Senator Brian Schatz (HI) tomorrow will introduce revenue neutral carbon fee legislation. (E&E News)

Infrastructure opportunity – State and local leaders on the president’s climate action task force yesterday presented a 46-page report of recommendations on the new and creative ways communities can be more prepared for storms such as Hurricane Sandy. (Climate Central)

Global climate hurdle – According to some India—not China—is the biggest hurdle in terms of global climate negotiations . (New York Times)

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

Times Union: Editorial: Toxic toys not child's play

National Geographic: Tiny Batteries Could Revolutionize Green Energy

Washington Post: Top Republican bows to scientists on climate change

Los Angeles Times: 40% decline in polar bears in Alaska, western Canada heightens concern

Reuters: U.S. manufacturing expands, but may be losing speed

Reuters: Bottom line on climate change: It’s costing you money

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