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Aug 28

The BlueGreen Source for Friday, August 28, 2015

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: The BlueGreen Source will be on hiatus until Monday, September 14.

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

Yesterday a federal judge in North Dakota blocked Clean Water Act protections just before it was set to take effect. The decision only applies to the 13 states that are a part of the lawsuit. (The Hill)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“We strongly believe that this investment is not, as some would say, an expenditure of money but a true investment that provides a return to the public in the form of economic growth along with the jobs that are created by that growth,” writes Oklahoma’s transportation secretary.

WHAT’S TRENDING

Message of hope – President Obama yesterday traveled to New Orleans yesterday on the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. In a speech he said, “Americans like you—the people of New Orleans . . . you’re what recovery has been all about.” (Washington Post)

Six in 10 – Six in 10 voters support the administration’s final rule limiting carbon pollution fromexisting power plants according to a new poll commissioned by the League of Conservation Voters. (The Hill)

31 percent – In July Californians accomplished the goal of cutting water usage by 31 percent. (Los Angeles Times)

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

St. Louis Public Radio: Focus on 'right to work' gets more intense as legislators consider override attempt

The Guardian: Middle East faces water shortages for the next 25 years, study says

Bloomberg: U.K. to End Small-Scale Renewables Aid in Blow to Solar

Time: These Are the Cities Most Vulnerable to the Next Katrina

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
Aug 27

The BlueGreen Source for Thursday, August 27, 2015

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

Despite the effort by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others to restore sediment and rebuild levees around New Orleans, rising sea levels continue to pose a threat to Louisiana. (Climate Central)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"We don't have time to waste. We don't have time to lose,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a press conference yesterday urging leaders to accelerate climate change negotiations.

WHAT’S TRENDING

Ten years later – President Obama travels to New Orleans today to mark the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. He’s expected to speak about the structural inequalities across the city that contributed to the severity of the destruction. (Reuters)

Under pressure – Water pressure on the site of the Gold King Mine that contaminated the Animas River was never checked, according to an internal Environmental Protection Agency review. (Denver Post)

Sights set – Transportation advocates have set their sights on Republican lawmakers in a radio ad advocating a long-term highway funding plan. (The Hill)

Smart, comprehensive - Reducing leaks in our natural gas distribution networks, along with broader efforts to keep gas in the system throughout the energy sector, offer ways to grow our economy and make it more efficient. (Huffington Post)

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

State Impact: Mayors call for city climate action amid Congressional ‘gridlock’

The Baltimore Sun: Baltimore wins grant to remove health hazards from homes

Washington Post: The troubling reasons why NASA is so focused on studying sea level rise

The Telegraph: Resource development expected topic during Obama trip

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
Aug 26

From AFL-CIO: Worker Wins Update: Union Support and Union Numbers on the Rise

The following post by Anthony DeAngelo has been cross-posted from the AFL-CIO NOW blog. The original post is available online hereWorker Wins Update: Union Support and Union Numbers on the Rise

Workers across the country have stood up in the past month to fight for better wages and working conditions.

More Americans Are Backing Worker Efforts to Speak Out: According to a new Gallup poll released last week, nearly six in 10 Americans stated they approve of labor unions. Efforts by working people to rally around issues ranging from raising wages to improved access to collective bargaining have led to the highest approval rating since 2008. In addition, millennials reported being more pro-union than any other age group, while the number of respondents who want workers to have more influence in public debate has risen 12 points since 2009.

Online Newsmakers Make News with Organizing Wins: The last month has seen significant wins for reporters, especially those whose work is primarily focused online. From The Guardian’s U.S.-based staff, to writers for online giants GawkerVice and Salon, writers have pointed to a greater voice in the workplace, raising wages and increased benefits as reasons for forming unions.

Hoosier Workers Win First Contract Battle: Workers at the Bloomingfoods, a co-op grocery store chain in Bloomington, Ind., ratified their first union contract earlier this month as members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 700. Some 250 workers across the co-op’s five stores pointed to raising wages and a fair process for resolving workplace issues as big wins for their contract.

Department of Energy Workers Win Two and a Half Year Contract Fight: After nearly three years of negotiations, workers for Battelle, a contractor that operates the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington State, have agreed on a new contract. The members of the Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council have cited raising wages and strong benefits as significant victories from the contract.

Sweet Home Raising Wages: The Birmingham, Ala., City Council passed an ordinance last week to increase the city’s minimum wage to $10.10 over the next two years. Alabama does not have a state minimum wage and instead uses the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.  

North Carolina City Approves Significant Raising Wages Victory: By an overwhelming margin, the Greensboro, N.C., City Council voted to raise wages for city employees, citing a high percentage of working people living below the poverty line. The council’s decision will raise wages to $15 by 2020 for city employees and will begin with an initial wage hike to $10 an hour for regular employees and $12 for employees who receive benefits.

Working People Score Major Sick Leave Win in Pittsburgh: Working people rallied the Pittsburgh City Council earlier this month to pass sweeping new paid sick leave legislation. The bill, which passed by an overwhelming margin, requires employers with 15 employees or more to provide as much as 40 hours of paid sick leave per year, while smaller companies must provide up to 24 hours per year. 

Aug 26

From Union of Concerned Scientists: Hurricane Katrina, Ten Years Later: How a Country that Bore Witness Still Plays Business as Usual

The following blog by Erika Spanger-Siegfried, senior analyst, Climate & Energy Program at UCS has been cross-posted from The Equation blog. The original post is available online here

Ten years ago, this country was thunderstruck by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. As the death toll, the damage, the costs, and the human suffering mounted, we promised we would learn from this and never let it happen like this again. So, have we?

Katrina damaged much of the U.S. Gulf Coast and devastated the city of New Orleans. Storm surge as high as 27.8 feet struck Mississippi and Louisiana.

Importantly, the storm was just the beginning of the disaster. The levees that protect New Orleans failed 50 times due to inadequate foundations, erosion, and overtopping. Overall, about 80% of New Orleans flooded, up to depths of 20 feet. It would take 43 days to drain the flood waters. All of this was exacerbated by inadequate planning and preparedness that led to woefully insufficient evacuation, search and rescue, and public safety procedures.

Overall, 1,833 lives were lost in the storm and immediate aftermath. Over 400,000 were displaced. New Orleans lost over half of its population.

katrina-flooded-neighborhood

New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward, post Katrina. Photo: NOAA

10 years since…

By 2014, New Orleans’s population had only rebounded to 76% of its pre-Katrina size. The 2010 census recorded a vacancy rate of 25%, most of which is concentrated in flooded neighborhoods. The National Flood Insurance program paid $16.3 billion in claims, while private insurance paid an additional $41.1 billion. Official federal relief and recovery expenditures total more than $137 billion and damage to the economy totals $148 billion (2012 dollars).

There are bright spots in the story of recovery. In some ways, New Orleans is a more functional city, with better governance and civic engagement including the establishment of professionalized Flood Protection Authorities over the old levee boards. In August 2010, New Orleans completed its Master Plan, and in May 2015 it passed a Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance. Prior to Katrina the city did not have a Master Plan and its Zoning Ordinance lacked teeth, which added to the confusion and controversy during the rebuilding effort after Katrina. Another success is the establishment of the City Assisted Evacuation Plan. Meanwhile, the state of Louisiana has engaged scientists and stakeholders to generate a comprehensive Coastal Master Plan that strives to think long term, and includes sea level rise.

But all the great deltas of the world are under acute threat, and ours, which is both sinking from lack of sediment and facing rising seas, is no exception. We have understandably chosen to dig in and hold on, and good people are working hard to make it work, and to make the right long-term decisions. But there are strong indications that the reality of sea level rise and disaster risk is harder than we’re forcing ourselves to face.

Low-balling sea level rise in a high-risk region

As an example, I must cite again the State of Louisiana’s 2012 Coastal Master Plan—a landmark 50-year plan, praiseworthy in many ways, to restore the coast and reduce risk.

The plan is based in part on what the state calls a “moderate” scenario of sea level rise (SLR), namely a 10-inch increase by 2062 above 2009 levels. The Master Plan looks at local land subsidence (sinking) separately from sea level rise in these projections, so it’s not fair to compare this rate with localized rates from NOAA and the U.S. National Climate Assessment (e.g., 24 inches by just 2050, including subsidence). But if we compare this 10-inch increase to NOAA’s moderate (intermediate high) global SLR projection, we see that a 10-inch increase can be expected globally by 2040, more than two decades earlier.

The Master Plan also includes a “less optimistic” scenario of 17 inches by 2062, which I would characterize as perfectly optimistic, since NOAA’s scenario moderate scenario reaches 17 inches roughly a decade earlier. It makes one wonder how much of a voice Louisiana scientists had in the process.

To be fair, the Master Plan notes that recent science will require them to revisit their projections in the future. But some locals I’ve spoken with are frustrated that the most serious of the three scenarios was left out of state communications about the “hard choices” Louisiana residents must make. So it’s more than fixing what goes into the process; it’s also allowing the results to come out.

NOAA’s intermediate high and high scenarios factor in the loss of land-based ice, at differing rates. None of us like what we see, but we need to work with the best available science. Source: NOAA/Parris et al. 2012

NOAA’s intermediate high and high scenarios factor in the loss of land-based ice, at differing rates. None of us like what we see, but we need to work with the best available science. Source: NOAA/Parris et al. 2012

By 2062, the difference in land lost between the moderate and less optimistic scenarios is nearly 1,000 square miles. And I’m suggesting there are more square miles not accounted for. All of those square miles matter to people. Find them on a map and you’ll see people live there, people who have already been through terrible times. But people on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana would presumably prefer to know (and many of them already do), that even if the Atlantic never brews another hurricane, they’re unlikely to be able to stay indefinitely in their homes.

By 2062, the difference in land lost between the moderate and less optimistic scenarios is more than 1000 square miles. Provided improved sea level rise projections are used, the 2017 Master Plan will identify a substantially larger area of loss. Source: LA 2012 Coastal Master Plan (LINK)

By 2062, the difference in land lost between the moderate and less optimistic scenarios is more than 1000 square miles. Provided improved sea level rise projections are used, the 2017 Master Plan will identify a substantially larger area of loss. Source: LA 2012 Coastal Master Plan

This 50-year plan has a price tag of over $50 billion dollars, which the state will be hard-pressed to pay and with which the federal government will be asked to help. As a country, we must be all for getting down to the business of preparedness, and all for finding ways to pay for it. That’s one of the most important promises we made to ourselves, post-Katrina. But we should insist on serious, lasting preparedness efforts, and investments that are truly viable over time, so we can keep such promises.

Until the Coastal Master Plan reflects best available science, it’s not in a position to deliver on those, and real preparedness for the next storm will continue to elude Louisiana.

Good intentions, bad follow-through, a touch of amnesia

In our lives, when someone close to us dies or suffers serious illness or injury, we promise ourselves that we’ll honor them by doing better. As a nation, our impulse is the same. We want to do better. After 100 people died in 2003 in The Station nightclub fire, for example, the National Fire Protection Association enacted new code provisions and crowd management requirements in similar venues.  It’s our follow-through that, as a nation, is often lacking, though, no matter how devastating the tragedy.

So how have we honored the losses and suffering of Katrina, nationally? The federal government has taken some major and important steps in the last couple of years. As have certain cities and states, perhaps most notably, New York State and NYC, though clearly in the wake of Sandy.

But the default, our reality, is still business as usual along much of our coasts. And business as usual—that is, acting as though the sea hasn’t risen and won’t keep going—is risky business.

Let’s consider New Jersey, which has the memory of Katrina and the punishing first-hand experience of Sandy to guide its coastal decision making. Just last month, New Jersey adopted major changes to its Coastal Zone Management Rules that, according to the New Jersey Association for Floodplain Management, “do not consider the effects of sea level rise; incorporating sea level rise into the permitting process is critical if it is to meet its goal of not putting the inhabitants of the New Jersey shore at risk.” This follows on a trend ofrapid re-development in highly vulnerable places, such as the Barnegat Peninsula.

On the West Coast, one group’s mapping points out the multitude of construction projects proposed for flood-prone land in San Francisco. Reuters reports that Galveston, Texas, approved 81 out of 85 applications to build closer to the beach than allowed by state law, despite its long history of hurricanes and susceptibility to sea level rise.

This kind of analysis has yet to be done for Miami, but on a recent trip there, I heard multiple times that of the more than 40 new major, high-rise constructions already underway—additions that will transform the area skyline—none is being built to account for sea level rise. Whether 40 or 4, this represents magical thinking in the Magic City. The last real devastation Florida saw from a major hurricane was Andrew, in 1992. Thankfully. But in that relative quiet, coastal Florida has gained over a million people. Are the nearly 5 million people living along the Florida seashore prepared for a big storm?

Honoring Katrina

If you’re reading this in a coastal community, chances are you can look out your window and see ways that we are unprepared for sea level rise and unprepared for the next storm. I can. We can’t prepare overnight but we’ve had 10 years since Katrina and not enough progress to show for it. People died in that storm. People endured harrowing days. People’s lives were forever shattered. And people struggle mightily still to recover.

The Atlantic will send more storms our way, and studies suggest they may grow stronger still in the years ahead. Those storms can strike almost anywhere on the Gulf and East Coasts. We should honor the experience of Hurricane Katrina with real adaptation action, and real climate mitigation, and never forget a chief reason: that next storm is coming, and there will be real people in its path.

Hurricane_Katrina_Child-and-Woman-in-Wheelchair

Photo: AP

Posted in: Uncategorized Tags: 

About the author: Erika Spanger-Siegfried is a senior analyst in the Climate & Energy program at UCS. She currently manages UCS’s coastal and Mountain West climate impacts projects, designed to shed light through new research and outreach on ongoing local impacts, current efforts to cope, and the urgency of high-level action. Erika formerly managed the Energy-Water Initiative (EW3) and, prior to that, the Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment, a research effort to explore climate change, impacts, and solutions in the northeastern United States. She holds a master’s degree in energy and environmental analysis from Boston University. See Erika's full bio.

Posted In: Union of Concerned Scientists
Aug 25

The BlueGreen Source for Tuesday, August 25, 2015

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

Solar is the next energy boom in Texas. With the help of $1 billion in investment and improved transmission infrastructure, solar is being seen in a whole new light in the state. (Wall Street Journal)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“We know that water is coming to New Orleans again. It has always come in the past. It was a delusion to think the levees were going to keep it from happening again,” said Mark Davis, who directs the Institute on Water Resources Law & Policy at Tulane University.

WHAT’S TRENDING

Talking energy – President Obama traveled to Nevada to speak at the National Clean Energy Summit. It’s the first stop on his 11-day climate and energy tour. (Washington Post)

Right-to-work repeal – Michigan State House members have introduced a measure to repeal the state’s existing right-to-work status that undercuts workers’ ability to unionize. (Lansing State Journal)

More algae concerns – A blue-green algae bloom in the Ohio River forced a shutdown of water intakes around Wheeling, West Virginia this week. (WV Metro News)

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

Los Angeles Times: The drought's hidden victim: California's native fish

New York Times: Philippines: Typhoon Takes Deadly Toll

The Hill: Energy secretary optimistic for climate pact

The Guardian: The US Congress is finally poised to rethink its outdated chemical laws

Greentech Media: Investment Bankers Think Solar and Wind Will Grow Way Faster Than the IEA Forecast

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Posted In: The Source
Aug 24

The BlueGreen Source for Monday, August 24, 2015

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

An analysis of Massachusetts’ natural gas system shows the pipelines have around 20,000 leaks in the system. The discovery is concerning for public safety and our climate, as well as for ratepayers who are paying for lost gas. (Boston Globe)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“The most important lesson we learned from Katrina was that hurricane protection and coastal restoration must be at the forefront of federal and state government for years to come,” said Chip Kline, who chairs the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.

WHAT’S TRENDING

Clean energy vision – In Nevada, President Obama’s clean energy vision is closer to reality than just about any other state with the help of a growing clean energy market. (Bloomberg)

Next time around – In an ear of rising seas, New Orleans residents need to rely on more than sea walls to protect them from another disaster like Hurricane Katrina. Restoring the area wetlands is crucial to protecting the city for the long term. (Washington Post)

Powerful weapon – The Navy and Marine Corps are expected to add 1.2GW of clean energy to their renewable portfolio this year. (Business Green)

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

Reuters: India says rich world has responsibility to curb climate change

Washington Post: Why the U.S. just summoned firefighters from Australia and New Zealand

Los Angeles Times: The great El Niño of 1997-98, and what it means for the winter to come

USA Today: Hurricane Danny strengthens to Category 3, nears Caribbean

Wall Street Journal: California’s Prop. 39 Is a Winner

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
Aug 21

The BlueGreen Source for Friday, August 21, 2015

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

Breaking a new record, U.S. drivers drove 1.54 trillion miles between January and June of this year, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). This is as Congress continues to struggle to find a long term solution to fund highway and transit investments. (The Hill)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“What we’re seeing is a president that is prioritising the climate issue,” said Jennifer Morgan of Washington, D.C. think tank WRI.

WHAT’S TRENDING

Pulling out all the stops – In the lead up to 200 nations agreeing to and signing an historicclimate pact in Paris at the end of the year, President Obama pushes ambitious climate action forward in the hope of broad agreement. (RTCC)

Twenty percent – Experts estimate that climate change has made California’s drought more intense by 15-20 percent. The current drought started in 2012. (New York Times)

Questions & answers – Senators from western states affected by the Animas Rivercontamination sent a letter to EPA’s inspector general requesting details about the cause of the spill. (The Hill)

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

Washington Post: Greenland’s stunning melting, in 24 unforgettable images

USA Today: Danny becomes first hurricane of 2015 Atlantic season

The Hill: July latest month to break temperature record in 2015

Yahoo News: Brazil and Germany to expand trade and combat climate change

Houston Chronicle: Renewable energy sources challenging assumptions

The Living Product Expo is a groundbreaking new event that will bring together leading minds in the product industry and ignite a revolution in the way materials are designed, manufactured and delivered. Sustainability directors from the world’s leading design firms, prominent manufacturers and designers will gather to learn about game-changing innovations in product design. Find more info at http://www.livingproductexpo.org/ 
Living Product Expo 2015, David L. Lawrence Convention Center 
Pittsburgh, PA, September 16-18, 2015

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
Aug 20

The BlueGreen Source for Thursday, August 20, 2015

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

Renewable energy is the second most utilized form of energy in the world. Globally, solar power has grown at a rate of 44.6 percent per year. (EcoWatch)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"So quality of life, direct exposure to environmental hazards is quite common among the Latino population; we shouldn't be surprised they're concerned about it,” said Gary Segura, co-founder of Latino Decisions.

WHAT’S TRENDING

Ten years later – On the occasion of the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, President Obama will travel to New Orleans to meet with the mayor and city residents. (Washington Post)

Guilty plea – The former head of Freedom Industries, the West Virginia company whose toxic chemicals contaminated the water supply of Charleston area residents last year plead guilty to environmental crimes. (New York Times)

Top issue – A new poll reveals the environment and climate change are a top concern for Latinos. (NPR)

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

New York Times: Losing Water, California Tries to Stay Atop Economic Wave

Bloomberg: China’s Global Warming Pollution Estimates Cut in Harvard Study

Crain’s Business: MacArthur Foundation doles out $50 million toward climate change

The Hill: Poll: Pope’s climate views not well known

National Geographic: Protecting a New Generation of Poisoned Kids After Katrina

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
Aug 19

The BlueGreen Source for Wednesday, August 19, 2015

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, the threat of a similar disaster remains. The combination of more severe weather and flooding and the increasing potential of government flood estimates to be wrong is ever-more dangerous to certain communities. (Politico)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Keeping natural gas in the system is good for the environment and a significant opportunity to put American workers squarely at the forefront of developing, manufacturing, and implementing technologies needed to accomplish this—providing high-quality jobs and stimulating local economies,” said BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Kim Glas about a newly proposedmethane emissions reduction strategy.

WHAT’S TRENDING

Broad push – First of their kind federal regulations on methane emissions were introduced by the administration and Environmental Protection Agency yesterday. The goal of the standards is to significantly reduce methane emissions from new operations in the energy industry. (New York Times)

Worldwide declaration – Muslim leaders and scholars from across the world yesterday called on Muslims and people the world over to take action on climate change. (Washington Post)

Not waiting around – Almost one-third of states have approved measures this year to raise the gas tax or similar measures to fund highway and road repairs in light of ongoing short-term fixesfrom Congress. (Herald-Review)

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

New York Times: Methane Leaks in Natural-Gas Supply Chain Far Exceed Estimates, Study Says

The Hill: Christie, Foxx meeting to discuss NYC rail tunnel

Washington Post: With a stunning 7 million acres burned so far, the U.S. wildfire situation is looking dire

Denver Post: Animas River: Long-term impacts of wastewater spill lie beneath the current

Cincinnati Enquirer: Ohio lawmaker: Now is time for right to work

Environment News Service: 200 Electric Cars Headed for Paris Climate Summit 

The Living Product Expo is a groundbreaking new event that will bring together leading minds in the product industry and ignite a revolution in the way materials are designed, manufactured and delivered. Sustainability directors from the world’s leading design firms, prominent manufacturers and designers will gather to learn about game-changing innovations in product design. Find more info at http://www.livingproductexpo.org/

Living Product Expo 2015, David L. Lawrence Convention Center 
Pittsburgh, PA, September 16-18, 2015

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
Aug 18

The BlueGreen Source for Tuesday, August 18, 2015

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

Today the administration is expected to announce the first-ever plan to reduce methane emissions 40-45 percent by 2025. 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. (Wall Street Journal) 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Even before salt water flooded into the tunnels during Hurricane Sandy nearly three years ago, the tunnels were in trouble. Now the corrosive residue left by the flooding is steadily eating into the concrete and the mechanical and electrical equipment vital to the system,” writes the New York Times Editorial Board.

WHAT’S TRENDING

Algae everywhere – Toxic algal blooms on the West Coast now stretch from California to Alaska and are a growing threat to marine life. (KQED)

Not the last – Contamination to Colorado’s Animas River is not the first—nor will it be the last such event—to take place, according to experts who urge it was a ticking time bomb. (The Guardian)

New opportunity – Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm in an oped calls the Clean Power Plan an “…unprecedented opportunity to strengthen the American economy and usher our energy system into the 21st Century.” (Detroit Free Press)

BLUE-GREEN LINKS

San Diego Union Tribune: Navy signs largest-ever U.S. solar deal

New York Times: Officials: Less Chance of Colorado River Water Cuts in 2017

Bloomberg: SunEdison, Goldman Agree to Form $1 Billion Clean-Power Fund

Yahoo: Climate change: Where the 2016 presidential candidates stand on our global future

Bloomberg: Indian Airport First in World to Be Completely Solar Powered

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Posted In: The Source