New Wind Energy Solutions Sharie Derrickson Honored

Sharie Derrickson, Vice President of New Wind Energy Solutions in Nashville, TN, along with 13 other female military veterans, were recently honored by White House as part of President Obama’s “Winning the Future,” initiative. Fourteen female military veterans were selected that have provided exemplary leadership at the local, state or regional level.

“You are the leaders in our businesses and schools in our communities,” Mrs. Obama said. “You all are part of a long line of women who have broken barriers – defied 882296_10200953878758241_1589722989_oexpectations and served this country with unparalleled courage and determination. And the beautiful thing about our veterans – and this is especially true for our women veterans — is that long after you stop serving this country, you don’t stop serving it after you hang up your uniforms.”

Meeting the president and the first lady in the East Wing of the White House, Derrickson said, was an overwhelming experience. “They are rock stars, but so personable and warm. It is invigorating and re-energizing when you know that my passion of a sustainable world is shared all the way up the chain of command. They treated us like honored guests with the works – champagne, hor d’oeuvres, a military jazz band.”

New Wind President, Stuart Wiston, who attended the event, said he is proud to have Derrickson on his sustainability team. “Our company makes it a priority to hire veterans because they bring so much to the table. Getting Sharie was a stroke of luck. Her dedication to her job is unsurpassed and that is a trait I find in all my former military employees. She is a well-spoken advocate for what we do here and she deserved this recognition from the White House not only as a female veteran but as a spokesman for global sustainability. She works hard to help corporations save money and enhance their communities and not be a burden on them by using best practices. She cares about her clients. It’s not as much a business to her as it is a mission.” Continue reading

UCSB Hosting Summit on Energy Efficiency

UC Santa Barbara’s Institute for Energy Efficiency is hosting the 2013 Summit on Energy Efficiency on May 1-2, 2013. The forum will focus on the latest innovations in materials science and technology for energy generation, energy storage, lighting, and electronics. The event is designed to provide dialogue about how advancements in materials science and technology can meet future energy needs through efficiency improvements.

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 11.40.00 AM“We are all aware of the energy crisis that we as a society are facing. The goal of the Summit is to gather experts and policy leaders, discuss the latest science and technology for energy efficiency and renewable energy, and to stimulate everyone to think in new ways,” said Dr. John Bowers, Director of the Institute for Energy Efficiency.

This year’s summit, held at The Fess Parker Resort in Santa Barbara, is attracting high-profile panelists who are leading major research and development efforts in energy efficiency and materials science. This year’s Summit program emphasizes the theme of “Materials for a Sustainable Energy Future,” featuring an opening keynote on materials science innovations by Steven Chu, outgoing U.S. Secretary of Energy. Featured keynote speakers also include: Michael McQuade of United Technologies Corporation; George Crabtree, Director of the newly established DOE Battery Hub at Argonne National Laboratory; and Kateri Callahan President of the Alliance to Save Energy.

Guest panelists from Soraa, Cree, Intel, Ciena, Pellion Technologies, Southern California Edison, PG&E, U.S. Department of Energy, Ames Research Laboratory, MIT, Yale, and UC Santa Barbara will lead discussions on the following topics: Materials for Energy Technology; Innovations in Solid-State Lighting; Information and Communications Technology; Electrochemical Energy Storage Technology; Utilities discussion on Energy Efficiency; and High Efficiency Power Electronics.

Click here to register and for more information.

Suggestions to Obama to Address Climate Change

PCAST logoThe President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), a group of leading scientists and engineers who make policy recommendations to the White House, has released a detailed report outlining how the Obama Administration could address climate change in the near term. Climate change was a major topic during President Obama’s recent trip to Argonne National Laboratory as well as during his State of the Union.  The letter offers actions that would reduce emissions and better quantify climate-relates risks.

PCAST has called out these actions as “central” in addressing climate change:

  • Focus on national preparedness for climate change
  • Continue efforts to decarbonize the economy
  • Level the playing field for clean energy by removing regulatory obstacles, addressing market failures, adjusting tax policies and providing time-limited subsidies for clean energy when appropriate
  • Sustain research on next-generation clean energy technologies
  • Establish U.S. leadership on climate change internationally
  • Conduct an initial Quadrennial Energy Review (QER)

For each of the concept areas, PCAST offers precise steps on how President Obama can move forward. Example tactics include creating a national commission on climate preparedness, exploring a North American climate change agreement and improving energy efficiency standards using federal loan agencies. Click here to read the full report.

Strong Policies Will Boost Clean Jobs

According to a new report from Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), there were more than 300 clean energy and clean transportation projects in 2012 that created 110,000 jobs. E2 notes that the report comes at a time that groups and lobbyists backed by the fossil fuel industry are currently trying to derail clean energy policies including the Renewable Fuel Standard and state Renewable Portfolio Standards.

E2 Fourth Quarter Job Report“It’s now crystal-clear that clean energy and clean transportation are helping our economy recover,” said Judith Albert, executive director of E2. “The projects and job announcements like we saw in 2012 can continue – as long as we don’t let smart energy policies get hijacked by special interests.”

Albert notes that state policies have done a lot to drive growth in the clean energy industry. “If lawmakers care about creating good, clean energy jobs in their neighborhoods, they should continue supporting those policies. If not, they can sit back and watch these good-paying jobs go elsewhere.”

In 2012, California, North Carolina and Florida led the nation. Illinois, Connecticut, Arizona, New York, Michigan, Texas and Oregon rounded out the Top 10. As a region, the Southeast led the country in manufacturing-related clean energy job announcements, with more than 13,700 jobs announced last year, accounting for about 80 percent of the nation’s total. Solar, advanced vehicles and wind energy were the leading clean energy manufacturing industries in the Southeast. Nationwide, clean transportation projects led the job growth last year, followed by clean power generation, manufacturing and energy efficiency projects.

In the fourth quarter of last year, nearly 16,000 clean energy and clean transportation jobs were announced, up from 10,800 in the third quarter, thanks in large part to a 7,000-job light rail announcement in Charlotte, N.C. Clean transportation jobs aside, several sectors saw sharp declines in the fourth quarter, due in large part to regulatory uncertainty in Congress and during the 2012 election.

“Smart policies and regulatory certainty– at both the federal and state levels – drive economic growth,” added Albert. “If 2012 taught us anything, it’s that if America wants to keep creating good, clean energy jobs, we need good, clean energy policies.”

Marjority of Americans Support Reduction of CO2

Obama on ClimateAccording to a new nationwide survey, 65 percent of American think that climate change is a serious problem and a substantial majority support President Obama using his authority to reduce its main cause, carbon dioxide.  The national poll, conducted on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), surveyed 1,218 registered voters and was conducted immediately following the president’s State of the Union speech – the first snapshot taken specifically on the climate agenda Obama outlines in his address.

The survey found:

  • 65 percent of Americans think that climate change is a serious or very serious problem, including 58 percent of independents.
  • 60 percent of Americans support the president using his authority to reduce dangerous carbon pollution, including 53 percent of independents.
  • 62 percent agree with the president’s statement that “for the sake of our children” and our future, we must do more to combat climate change, including 55 percent of independents.
  • A majority of Americans, 57 percent, agreed with Obama’s promise to make addressing climate change a priority in his second term.
  • 65 percent of Americans think that climate change is already a problem or will become a problem in the near future, including 58 percent of independents.

“The president made it absolutely clear that he will lead the fight against dangerous carbon pollution, and a compelling majority of Americans stand firmly behind that leadership,” said NRDC President Frances Beinecke. “The best way to strike back, as a nation, is to reduce the carbon pollution from our dirtiest power plants, the single greatest threat to our climate’s future. That will take presidential leadership. Americans are counting on bold action – for the sake of our children.”

During his address, Obama said the nation can choose to believe Superstorm Sandy and severe drought and raging wildfires were all just “a freak coincidence” or believe the overwhelming judgment of science that they were climate change related. A majority, 58 percent, said they were the effects of climate change, including 51 percent of independents. In addition, 58 percent said the country should do more to address climate change, including 51 percent of independents, while just 14 percent said we’re doing enough already.

The promise to address climate change struck a chord with Americans according to Margie Alt who is the executive director of Environment America. “Now we’re counting on President Obama to put words into action, by rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, limiting carbon emissions from power plants and advancing clean energy solutions — while protecting the air, water and special places Americans hold dear. By taking these actions the president will help fulfill our obligation to our families and to future generations, and we stand ready to support him at every turn along the way.”

Click here to read the full polling results.

Chasing Methane Advocates at Iowa Capitol

Chasing Methane TeamDFThere is no age requirement to be an advocate for the environment. During the recent Iowa Wind Energy Day, five young advocates from Chasing Methane, ranging in age from 11 to 13, came to the Iowa Capitol to encourage people to support food waste composting. Why? As Joey Titus, a 7th grader at Southeast Junior High in Iowa City, Iowa said, “Right now the food waste coming from restaurants is going to the landfill which is creating methane and methane is a 25 times more damaging at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.”

When talking about greenhouse gases (GHG), carbon dioxide typically stands center stage, but as Titus points out, CO2 is not near as damaging as methane – a gas created through the decomposition of materials in a landfill.

Titus along with his club members, Andrew Burgess, a 5th grader at Borlaug Elementary, his brother Daniel Burgess, a 7th grader at Northwest Junior High and Ethan Trepka, also a 7th grader at Northwest Junior High, all in Iowa City, formed the group back in August of 2012. Titus’s Dad is the manager of Carlos O’Kelly’s in town, one of the restaurants, along with Applebee’s that participated in food waste audits.

When the Chasing Methane team looked through the trash of two restaurants, they found that combined, they were generating about 2 tons of waste every week, and 75 percent of that waste could be composted, said Titus.

Chasing Methane Team with IA Gov Terry BranstadTitus said his group would like to see a statewide composting initiative and even a nationwide initiative because right now this methane is going up and affecting the ozone layer, which is causing global warming, and its effecting all the weather we’re having.

They were on the capitol advocating for a bill that would allow the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to perform audits at restaurants to determine if legislating a statewide restaurant composting program would reduce methane in the environment. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad listened to the pitch right before the team headed down to the capitol refuse center to conduct a waste audit. Hopefully the findings will impact state legislators to be a leading state in passing a methane reduction bill.

As Titus aptly pointed out, not only restaurants create food waste – we create food waste at home as well. With only 50 percent of food that is produced is actually being eaten, he encourages consumers to join the composting revolution. You can do this by composting, joining a composting program and even by becoming a member of Chasing Methane. All ages from all cities around the world are invited to join.

Listen to my full interview with Joey Titus here: Chasing Methane Advocates at Iowa Capitol

See the 2013 Iowa Wind Energy Day Photo Album.

Study Looks at Environmental Benefits of Ethanol

According to a new study performed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, corn grown using no-till methods may sequester larger amounts of carbon than previously believed. The study was published in BioEnergy Research and showed that corn grown over a 10-year period using no-till practices sequesters carbon in the soil to depths as far as 59 inches BioEnergy Research Coverunder the surface. Previous studies only looked at depths of 11 inches and did not take into account carbon sequestration below tillage depths. These past studies arguably missed more than 50 percent of the increase in soil organic carbon below this depth.

With this new information, models used to calculate and predict the environmental benefits or liabilities of corn production will be able to better reflect the actual impact. As the study shows an average annual increase in soil carbon of approximately 1.2 tons of carbon per acre, new models will likely show more accurately how corn-based ethanol offers a tremendous greenhouse gas emissions reduction when compared to petro-fuels. Soil organic carbon and its sequestration are important, because they affect both soil fertility and greenhouse gas fluxes.

“The findings of this study are important in that they demonstrate a previously overlooked environmental benefit of corn production in general and of corn-based ethanol in specific,” said National Corn Growers Association Corn Board member Keith Alverson. “Estimates of the greenhouse gas savings corn offers over petro-fuels will undoubtedly show a more significant savings once data of this nature is factored into the overall analysis. Farmers are working harder every day to produce food, fuel and fiber sustainably as they actually improve the land through their growing practices. As scientists expand the pool of data, the positive impact of the biofuels produced from their crops becomes clearer also.”

The study, also looked at switchgrass, and was the longest on-going effort to look at carbon sequestration by these two crops.

Ceres Awarded Zayed Future Energy Prize

Ceres has been awarded the top prize in the non-governmental organization (NGO) category of the Zayed Future Energy Prize that honors innovative companies who have had a positive impact and shown strong leadership in the renewable energy and sustainability sectors. The award is part of the World Future Energy Summit, and this year’s awards attracted 579 submissions from companies in 88 countries.

Zayed Future Energy Prize“We believe that investing in people is the future of our collective prosperity,” said His Highness General Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, at the awards ceremony. “Through the Prize, we are not only recognizing tremendous achievement, but also providing support to help accelerate promising technologies and fund organizations, schools and individuals committed to impacting communities around the world.”

Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, President of the Republic of Iceland and Chairman of the Zayed Future Energy Prize Jury, noted that the winners show that change is possible and that vision and innovative thinking hold great promise through practical endeavors.

“Ceres is honored to receive a Zayed Future Energy Prize, and we believe it will enable us to have an even greater impact in our work,” added Mindy Lubber, President of Ceres. “In order to tackle the global challenge of climate change, we must expect even bolder action from investors, businesses, and policymakers. We will use the Prize to expand international investor leadership on clean energy and to grow our ongoing work with leading companies that are striving to integrate sustainability into their operations by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving energy efficiency and sourcing renewable energy.”

Third National Climate Assessment Released

Climate Change Photo Joanna SchroederA draft of the Third National Climate Assessment (NCA) has been released by the Climate Assessment Development Advisory Committee (NCADAC).  The committee says this is the most peer-reviewed analysis of climate change impacts on the United States. The assessment was written by 240 scientists and other experts from academia; local, state, and federal government; business; and the non‐profit sector. The public can review the draft and submit comments, and the final draft is expected to be released in early 2014.

Several key findings include new and stronger evidence that global climate is changing, extreme weather and climate events are increasing, and that the increase is related to human activities. In addition, the report finds:

  • Global climate is changing, and this is apparent across the US in a wide range of observations. The climate change of the past 50 years is due primarily to human activities, predominantly the burning of fossil fuels and is expected to accelerate if action is not taken.
  • Some extreme weather and climate events have increased in recent decades, and there is new and stronger evidence that many of these increases are related to human activities.
  • Impacts related to climate change are already evident in many sectors and are expected to become increasingly challenging across the nation throughout this century and beyond.
  • Climate change threatens human health and well-being in many ways, including impacts from increased extreme weather events, wildfire, decreased air quality, diseases transmitted by insects food and water and threats to mental health. Continue reading

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson Steps Down

After nearly four years as the Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Lisa Jackson has announced in a statement that she would be stepping down as President Obama begins his second term. While reports say she gave no specific reason for leaving her position, she said in a statement, “I will leave the EPA confident the ship is sailing in the right direction, and ready in my own life for new challenges, time with my family and new opportunities to make a difference.”

Lisa-Jackson EPAUnder Jackson’s tutelage, the EPA approved the use of E15 in vehicles and light duty trucks manufactured after 2001. She also announced in 2009, during COP15, that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas pollutant, and as such, could be monitored. At the time, both of these decisions caused heated debate that still continues.

In a separate statement, Obama said Jackson has been “an important part of my team.” He thanked her for serving and praised her “unwavering commitment” to the public’s health.

In reaction to her departure, Tom Buis CEO of Growth Energy said, “Administrator Jackson has been a dedicated advocate for the renewable fuels industry and her work to reduce our nation’s addiction to foreign oil, while providing cleaner air and a better environment, should be commended.  As Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, she should be applauded for all she has done to advance biofuels and a cleaner, better environment. Growth Energy wishes her well and thanks her for her tireless work during her time at the EPA.”

Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), added, “Administrator Jackson put into action the Obama Administration’s commitment to ethanol and other biofuels. During her tenure, she cleared the way for E15 giving consumers more choice and savings at the gas pump and she protected the progress that has been made in reducing our dependence of foreign oil by recognizing the importance and inherent flexibility of the RFS. The ethanol industry thanks her for her service and looks forward to working with her successor to continue the growth of America’s domestic renewable fuels industry.”

While Jackson has not announced her next move, there is speculation that she may run for Governor of New Jersey. There has been no announcement of who will take her place.