Battleground States Support Clean Energy

According to new poll results in eight battleground states, there is widespread support for the Clean Power Plan. This week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released final rules. Overall, 58 percent support the plan while 40 percent oppose it after hearing arguments for and against the plan. States polled included Virginia, Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire, Colorado, Nevada, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania.

AUFCLogoWideWebDuring a press conference releasing the poll results held by Americans United for Change who commissioned the research, climate advocates called on Republican Attorney Generals preparing to sue the EPA over the new public health standards and the “do-nothing Republicans in Congress” to stop putting polluters over people and act on climate change.

Among the findings by Tom Jensen, Director of Public Policy Polling, in his summary memo include:

  • There is widespread support for the EPA’s new plan to limit carbon pollution from power plants. Voters in all states, age groups, Democrats and Independents support the Clean Power Plan. Overall, 58% support the plan, while 40% oppose it after hearing arguments for and against the plan.
  • Voters across all 8 swing states and in all age groups consider climate change a serious problem. Democrats (77/22) are very concerned about climate change, with independents (55/44) in agreement. 37% of Republicans consider it serious while 62% don’t. There are more Republicans concerned about climate change than Democrats who are unconcerned.
  • When asked if they agree with Mitch McConnell’s urging the states to ignore the EPA and not develop a plan to cut carbon pollution, the answer was a resounding no: only 31% think states should drag their feet on implementation of new clean power plans; 59% say states should move forward and develop a plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants.
  • Supporting climate change measures isn’t a particularly risky move for members of Congress. 63% say they would either be more likely to support their member or it would make no difference if they supported the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. This holds true in each state surveyed. Even Republicans say they would either be more likely to support their members in the future or it would make no difference: 47% total compared to 43% who would be more likely to oppose.

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EPA Releases Final Clean Power Plan Rules

Final rules for the Clean Power Plan have been released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as announced by President Obama. The plan calls for carbon reduction from the power sector (aka utilities) by 32 percent below 2005 levels in 2030. According to the EPA, power plants are the largest drivers of climate change in the U.S. emitting nearly one-third of all carbon emissions. This legislation is the first of its kind to set limits on carbon emissions for this sector.

During the announcement, the President said, “There is such a thing as being too late when it comes to climate change.”

The goal of the Clean Power Plan, and coupled with other pieces of legislation such as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is to reduce not only carbon emissions, but toxic emissions, from the two largest polluting sectors – power and transportation. By 2030, emissions of sulfur dioxide from power plants will be 90 percent lower and emissions of nitrogen oxides will be 72 percent lower, compared to 2005 levels. EPA said Americans will avoid up to 90,000 asthma attacks and spend up to 300,000 more days in the office or the classroom, instead of sick at home. And up to 3,600 families will be spared the grief of losing a loved one too soon. These statistics will be even better with the reductions from the transportation sector.

CCP infograph“We’re proud to finalize our historic Clean Power Plan. It will give our kids and grandkids the cleaner, safer future they deserve. The United States is leading by example today, showing the world that climate action is an incredible economic opportunity to build a stronger foundation for growth,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “The valuable feedback we received means the final Clean Power Plan is more ambitious yet more achievable, so states can customize plans to achieve their goals in ways that make sense for their communities, businesses and utilities.”

EPA said they received and reviewed more than 4.3 million public comments on the proposal, and participated in hundreds of meetings with stakeholders. The plan, according to the EPA, works by building on strategies states and businesses are already using. Today, the U.S. uses three times more wind and 20 times more solar energy than it did in 2009, and the solar industry added jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy. It safeguards energy reliability by setting common-sense, achievable state-by-state goals that build on a rapidly growing clean energy economy and gives states and utilities the time and flexibility they need to meet their goals.

The final rule establishes guidelines for states to follow in developing and implementing their plans, including requirements that vulnerable communities have a seat at the table with other stakeholders. EPA said it is proposing a model rule states can adopt, as well as a federal plan that they will put in place if a state fails to submit an adequate plan. Both the proposed model rule and federal plan focus on emissions trading mechanisms to make sure utilities have broad flexibility to reach their carbon pollution reduction goals. EPA also finalized standards to limit carbon pollution from new, modified and reconstructed power plants.

There were mixed emotions on the plan but general praise from environmental, health and the renewable energy industries that this was a bold move in a forward direction. Click here to read more about the Clean Power Plan from the White House perspective.

Voters Want Pro Clean Energy Prez Candidates

NextGen Climate has released the results of a survey that finds voters in key presidential swing states support transitioning to at least 50 percent clean energy by 2030. Hart Research conducted the poll in eight battleground states including: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin. In particular, the survey found that young voters (Millennials) are more likely to vote for a candidate who embraces aggressive climate change goals.

The survey also found:

  • 70% of voters had a favorable reaction to a goal of at least 50% clean energy by 2030 — including 69% of independents and 54% of Republicans.
  • 61% of voters said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who embraced this goal, while only 14% say they would be less likely.

“Transitioning to a clean energy economy is an ambitious goal, but one that is necessary and achievable — and politically potent, ” said NextGen Climate President and Founder Tom Steyer. “It’s time for presidential candidates in both parties to produce plans to achieve at least 50% clean energy by 2030 and put us on a path to a completely clean energy economy by 2050—creating millions of jobs across the country and protecting our economy from the most devastating impacts of climate change.”

The survey supports that swing state voters believe achieving at least 50 percent clean energy by 2030 is an “important priority” and “necessary” and favor specific policies and initiatives that will build a clean energy economy. Millennial voters are particularly likely to support the goal, and see it as “inspiring.”

The poll is part of an NextGen Climate initiative to call on leaders to embrace policies that accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy.

Nature Conservancy Looks to Bird Friendly Wind

The Nature Conservancy has installed the first phase of a bird friendly wind power project. The project is taking place in Palmyra, a national wildlife refuge located in Hawaii, where more than a million nesting seabirds call home. With low wind speeds, traditional wind turbines would have low output, plus, says the Conservancy, conventional wind turbines pose a risk of bird strikes. Thus, the group selected INVELOX, a funnel-based wind power technology developed by SheerWind.

Nature Conservancy/ U.S. Fish Wildlife's Palmyra Atoll by A. Purves (PRNewsFoto/SheerWind)

Nature Conservancy/ U.S. Fish Wildlife's Palmyra Atoll by A. Purves (PRNewsFoto/SheerWind)

The custom system is designed to mirror an hourglass laying on its side. Extending 83 feet horizontally with a big wind scoop at one end, an exhaust on the other, a Venturi section in the middle increases wind speed potentially three to six times. Nets over the intake and enclosed blades keep it bird friendly. The first phase of the installation includes a single turbine inside the Venturi, allowing for two additional to be installed.

The first phase of the INVELOX project is successfully charging batteries at night, says The Nature Conservancy, and on cloudy days to supplement the photovoltaic system also installed on Palmyra.

INVELOX on Palmyra Atoll by Cindy Coker (PRNewsFoto/SheerWind)

INVELOX on Palmyra Atoll by Cindy Coker (PRNewsFoto/SheerWind)

“With a goal to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, SheerWind’s INVELOX was the only viable solution for the multiple restrictions including height, wind speeds, and of course bird populations. This solution works and helped bring the goal to reduce fossil fuel use a reality,” said The Nature Conservancy’s David Sellers, who is the driving force behind the design solution and details of the INVELOX installation.

Palmyra Atoll is located 1,000 miles south of Hawaii in the vast equatorial Pacific, and hosts spectacular coral reef and tropical island ecosystems, but is a challenge for humans to inhabit. There are no commercial flights to this remote outpost, which is co-owned and managed as a scientific research station and national wildlife refuge by The Nature Conservancy and The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Until the recent installation of wind and solar, Palmyra was run on diesel fuel generators. These installations reduced its dependence on fossil fuels by 95 percent according to The Nature Conservancy.

“We are grateful for David Sellers and The Nature Conservancy’s commitment to installing the first commercial system in an extremely challenging location. We are pleased we were able to contribute to this important achievement and hope this is an example to be duplicated globally,” added Dr. Daryoush Allaei, founder and CTO of SheerWind.

Pope Francis Advocates for Renewable Energy

Addressing all persons living on the plant, Pope Francis’ LAUDATO SI’, Encyclical Letter calls on mankind to address climate change and heal earth. He writes, “Every effort to protect and improve our world entails profound changes in “lifestyles, models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies”. He stresses throughout the Encyclical, “The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change“.

do908_laudato_si-255x363“I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet,” writes Pope Francis and notes that while efforts have been undertaken, they are not enough. “Regrettably, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis have proved ineffective, not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest.”

Pope Francis’ Encyclical spans six chapters with each section focused on a particular area of importance to climate change discussions and action steps to be undertaken. In chapter 5 he focuses on approach and action as it relates to energy and calls for the end of fossil fuel use.

We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay. Until greater progress is made in developing widely accessible sources of renewable energy, it is legitimate to choose the lesser of two evils or to find short-term solutions,” continues Pope Francis. 

He calls for a worldwide consensus – all countries – to come together to develop “renewable and less polluting forms of energy”. While he acknowledges the work already being done to develop more sustainable, alternative forms of energy, he stresses that countries must come together and take responsibility for paying for the costs of energy transition and that politics and businesses must speed up their pace of acknowledgement and action to curtail climate change.

If only one message were received by those reading LAUDATO SI, it is that humans are at the center of climate change, that none of us is without fault, and it will take all of us to restore earth to a state of health and beauty.

Intel Pilots Micro-Turbine Rooftop Wind Power

Intel is participating in a unique pilot wind power project. The company is installing 58 micro-turbines on the roof to help renewably power their building. According to Marty Sedler, director of global utilities & infrastructure for Intel, the project came about due to their ongoing efforts to find more sustainable ways to use technology. This is why, he said, Intel began piloting one of the world’s largest operating rooftop arrays of wind micro-turbines on the roof of its worldwide headquarters in Santa Clara, California.

Rendering of the planned installation of 58 Wind Micro-Turbines on the rooftop of Intel's global headquarters building in Santa Clara, California. The installation is underway and will be complete in May 2015.  IMAGE SOURCE:  JLM Energy, Inc.

Rendering of the planned installation of 58 Wind Micro-Turbines on the rooftop of Intel’s global headquarters building in Santa Clara, California. The installation is underway and will be complete in May 2015. IMAGE SOURCE: JLM Energy, Inc.

Sedler explained that the micro-turbines are a proof-of-concept project, in which Intel hopes to collect data that could help the company better support green power applications and identify ways to continue evolving its sustainability programs. Intel also hopes the project will inspire other companies and electric users to consider creative new options to conserve energy.

Many companies, such as Intel, are not in a position to install full-scale wind turbines on their property. This is why the company partnered with JLM Energy, a Rocklin, California-based company that built and installed the micro-turbines. Sedler said each micro-turbine is between 6 and 7 feet tall and weighs approximately 30 lbs. The model of micro-turbine that Intel is using is the smallest design available for commercial buildings and is considered the most efficient turbine in its size class. Due to their small size, the micro-turbines are versatile in their potential uses and applications, said Sedler.

Each micro-turbine generates approximately 65 kWh. The array was sized to provide the electricity required for the lighting and general operation of Intel’s Executive Briefing Center. Sedler explained that since the micro-turbines need no fuel other than wind, they produce green power at no additional cost. For every kWh of green electricity the micro-turbines produce, Intel will require one fewer kWh of grid power, therefore reducing the need for power sources that produce much higher levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Continue reading

Catholic Church Becomes Vocal on Climate Change

The United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21) is still 200 days away but organizations are not waiting until the event gets closer to encourage countries to step up their climate change actions and policies. One such organization is the Catholic Church, representing 1.1 billion globally practicing the faith. Recently Pope Francis endorsed a Catholic petition calling for bold climate action after meeting with the newly created Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM). The Pope’s move was a visual sign that the he intends to lead Catholics into an active response to climate change. He is planning on publishing his encyclical on ecology this June.

Pope Francis is informed about the Catholic Climate Petition by GCCM representatives (Tomás Insua from Argentina and Allen Ottaro from Kenya). Credit: Fotografia Felici

Pope Francis is informed about the Catholic Climate Petition by GCCM representatives (Tomás Insua from Argentina and Allen Ottaro from Kenya). Credit: Fotografia Felici

“Pope Francis was very supportive of the work we are doing to engage Catholics around the world in a coordinated response to climate change,” said Tomás Insua, co-founder of the GCCM from Argentina. “The Pope even joked that we were competing against his encyclical. His endorsement of our work is extremely important to raise awareness within Catholic circles globally, and to collect more signatures.”

The idea for the petition came as a response to Pope Francis’ call last December: “On climate change there is a clear, definitive and ineluctable ethical imperative to act.” The signatures will be presented to world leaders in December 2015, when they meet at COP21 in Paris. The Pope has presented GCCM with the book “The Sun’s Energy in the Vatican” as a gift to emphasize the Holy See’s commitment to renewable energy as a means to address the climate change crisis.

“The support of Pope Francis to the petition is very important as climate change is a great and urgent moral issue,” said Allen Ottaro, director of CYNESA based in Kenya and co-founder of GCCM. “Climate change hits the poorest first and hardest, and will leave an unnecessarily dire legacy for future generations. We Catholics need to step up against climate change and raise a strong voice asking political leaders to take action urgently. I encourage all to sign the petition on our website: www.CatholicClimateMovement.global.”

The Catholic Church is becoming increasingly vocal on climate change. Two weeks ago, the Vatican hosted a high-level summit about climate change and released a declaration that stated: “Human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its decisive mitigation is a moral and religious imperative for humanity.”

Navajo Students Wind Schoolyard STEM Lab

Nizhoni Elementary School in Shiprock, New Mexico has been awarded the first-ever Schoolyard STEM Lab from Samsung and the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF). The STEM Lab was donated during the 10th annual National Environmental Education Week.

The Schoolyard STEM Lab is an outdoor classroom space designed to work in any climate for a hands-on, immersive environmental education program that consists of a Growing Dome greenhouse where students can apply the scientific method to cultivation projects. The school’s plan is to have all students take part in exploring such topics as aquatic life, solar power and sustainability, conduct geothermal energy experiments, and conserve native plants and natural resources. Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 10.45.42 AMThe Growing Dome will help students better understand STEM, and will help them make connections between the natural environment and Navajo culture.

“We are excited to award Nizhoni with the Lab. It is a solid resource that they can use to leverage the natural environment to promote critical thinking and problem-solving skills in a way that is relevant to the community,” said Diane Wood, president of NEEF. “We thank Samsung for their financial support and Growing Spaces for its partnership and installation of the Schoolyard STEM Lab.”

Located on Navajo Nation in northern New Mexico, Nizhoni’s school is considered a turnaround school- Nizhoni Elementary went from an F in 2012 to a B in 2013 on the New Mexico Public Education Department’s School Report Cards. The school district is 100 percent Title 1 federally funded due to the high-level poverty within the communities it serves and provides free breakfast and lunch to all of its students. Despite these challenges, the school is committed to equipping its students with the necessary knowledge and skills they will need to succeed in pursuing post-secondary education and early career opportunities.

“Students at Nizhoni are eager to learn,” said Principal Patsy Marquez. “We have been working hard to raise our student’s levels of achievement in areas like math, science and technology. In doing so, we need to make sure that they have access to the tools that they need in order to learn. The Schoolyard STEM Lab is a great tool that we can use to accelerate student learning by introducing all of our students to the scientific inquiry process within the context of the natural environment.”

Jennifer Choate, Nizhoni’s gifted education teacher who submitted the winning application on behalf of the school, added, “The Schoolyard STEM Lab also provides an opportunity for students to harvest their own herbs and vegetables which can be shared with the community and used by the school to prepare more nutritious meals,” added

Farmers Live #EarthDay Every Day

earth-day-2015This year marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day but farmers have been living the spirit of stewardship for natural resources for generations and have been leaders in the generation of renewable energy sources like biofuels, wind and solar.

“For hundreds of years, America’s farmers have been working our land and providing the country and the world with high quality food, feed, fiber and fuel,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. “Today, on Earth Day, we are proud that our industry will keep getting cleaner, keep farming more efficiently and keep discovering new ways to fuel America with biomass and waste products that represent a smarter, cleaner, homegrown alternative to foreign oil.”

MIT Climate CoLab Seeks World Changing Ideas

Earth Day is April 22, 2015 but climate change is on many minds year round. This week Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Climate CoLab announced twenty-two contests that seek high-impact ideas on how to tackle climate change. A project of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, the Climate CoLab is attempting to harness the knowledge and expertise of thousands of experts and non-experts across the world to help solve this issue. The Climate CoLab has a rapidly growing community of over 30,000 members from across the world. Anyone is welcome to join the platform to submit their own ideas, or comment on and show support for other proposals on the site.

Climate CoLab“As systems like Linux and Wikipedia have shown, people from around the world—connected by the Internet—can work together to solve complex problems in very new ways,” said MIT Sloan Professor Thomas Malone, director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence and principal investigator for the Climate CoLab project. “In the Climate CoLab, we’re applying this approach to one of the world’s most difficult problems—climate change.”

The contests cover a broad set of sub-problems that lie at the heart of the climate change challenge including: decarbonizing energy supply, shifting public attitudes and behavior, adapting to climate change, geoengineering, transportation, waste management, reducing consumption, and others.

The popular U.S. Carbon Price contest is returning this year, which seeks innovative policy and political mobilization strategies on how to implement a carbon price in the United States. Serving as Advisors for this contest are Former U.S. Secretary of State, George P. Shultz; former U.S. Representative (R-SC) and current Director of the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, Bob Inglis; and, former U.S. Representative (D-IN) and current President of Resources for the Future, Phil Sharp. Continue reading