|Friday, August 16, 2012|
As drought decimates half the country and wildfires rage in Nebraska and Arizona, it’s all too easy for Americans to see the effects of climate disruption. More than 3,800 temperature records were broken in the first week of July.1 Scientists are calling this extreme weather the new normal.
Tell Congress, we can’t wait. Urge them to support incentives for clean energy today!
Scaling up wind and solar power will not only help reduce our dependence on dirty coal and other fossil fuels that are driving climate disruption and extreme weather; it will also help support tens of thousands of American jobs in the growing clean-energy industry.
The bad news is that Congress is on the verge of letting the wind energy Production Tax Credit expire, jeopardizing tens of thousands of jobs, and forcing America to continue relying on the dirty energy sources that are threatening our climate.
Tell Congress to extend the Production Tax Credit and ensure that a job-creating industry can keep up the fight against climate disruption.
With tens of thousands of jobs, a growing clean-energy industry, and our future on the line, there’s no time to waste.
Thanks for all you do to protect our environment!
Mary Anne Hitt
Myths & Facts About Wind Power Following relentless attacks on the solar industry in the wake of Solyndra‘s bankruptcy, wind power has become the latest target of the right-wing campaign against renewable energy. But contrary to the myths propagated by the conservative media, wind power is safe, increasingly affordable, and has the potential to significantly reduce pollution and U.S. reliance on fossil fuels. Read More
Fox Mangles Data To Claim “The Poor” Are Getting “Richer” Fox’s John Stossel claimed that it’s a “myth” that “the poor are getting poorer” and that they are actually getting “richer.” In fact, incomes for the bottom fifth have shown almost no growth in recent decades, and the numbers Stossel used to support his argument were cherry-picked. Read More
Fox Touts Failed Fiscal Austerity Measures Fox’s Stuart Varney claimed that the result of the French presidential election showed that French voters “want to go backwards” because they are saying “no more austerity.” But experts have said that European austerity measures have not improved the economic situation and have warned against similar measures in the United States. Read More
Fox’s Flawed Solution To The Economy: What Would Reagan Do? Fox has attacked the economic recovery under President Obama by claiming that if Obama just adopted the policies of former President Ronald Reagan, there would be a stronger recovery. But as economists have pointed out, the Reagan recession ended not because of Reagan’s fiscal policies but because the Federal Reserve drastically cut interest rates. Because interest rates are already at zero, such a rate cut is not a possible option now. Read More
Journal Miffed By Bipartisan Support For U.S. Wind Power A Wall Street Journal editorial criticizes Republicans who support extending the federal Production Tax Credit, a key tax break supporting the U.S. wind power industry. The Journal suggests that wind energy will not become competitive with fossil fuels, but energy analysts say wind is approaching that point and that the expiration of the tax credit would slow or halt that progress. Read More
Utilities and other electricity producers are poised to make major new investments in a dangerous, dirty, outdated energy technology: Coal. But a new UCS report shows that spending millions of dollars to retrofit old coal plants or to build new ones just doesn’t make financial sense. Each major retrofit or new plant represents an enormous long-term financial commitment to coal power—and these commitments are exceedingly risky. The truth is that coal is far from cheap, and we can no longer afford the staggering economic, public health, and environmental costs of continued reliance on this outdated energy source. Now is the time to dramatically reduce our coal use and replace it with clean, affordable, and reliable renewable sources of electricity and increase energy efficiency. —Karla
Prevent the expansion of dirty coal mining on public lands
On May 11, the government will begin leasing more public land for coal mining in an area of Wyoming and Montana called the Powder River Basin. But because of regulatory loopholes, this major expansion will happen without weighing the full cost to our air, water, health, and climate. Please urge the government to close these loopholes and stop taxpayers from having to subsidize outdated, dirty coal.
MY Links …
**Wind Power: reliable, clean, and cost-effective. http://action.ucsusa.org/site/R?i=GbVIpCJ2egPYPQiLf3qTfQ..\
** Who’s got the power to choose where YOUR electricity comes from? Take the quiz! http://action.ucsusa.org/site/R?i=oErFj0sZcDGFFa-bB6Anxg..
**Meeting the president’s goal of 80 percent clean energy by 2035. http://action.ucsusa.org/site/R?i=jnKHcV0Uw6wpwaJZqZLesQ..
**CA’s new renewable energy standard is an opportunity to nudge the federal government to boost clean energy nationally. http://action.ucsusa.org/site/R?i=bQtRAoVKBg88H9MsU358NQ..
Ask the Scientist
Barbara Freese, J.D.
Senior Policy Analyst,
Climate & Energy Program
If the United States still generates almost 50 percent of its power from coal, can we realistically retire coal plants and still have enough power to meet our needs?
-S. Young, Glastonbury, CT.
Yes, UCS analysis has shown that we could replace almost all our coal plants over the next 20 years, mainly by increasing our use of renewable energy resources like wind and solar and by increasing energy efficiency. And replacing coal plants with cleaner sources of energy is not only critical for slowing global warming and saving lives, but it would also reduce consumers’ total energy bills! http://action.ucsusa.org/site/R?i=TjTXleTXi9tLfP0TVcHtZw..
This Just In
California passes landmark clean energy law
Last month, the state of California passed a groundbreaking new law requiring utilities to provide at least a third of their electricity from clean, renewable sources like the wind and sun by 2020. This is the most aggressive renewable energy requirement in the country, positioning California as a national leader in clean energy investments and setting an important precedent for other states and the federal government. The law will reduce global warming emissions, clean up our air, and create new jobs. UCS has been a lead group in California advocating for more aggressive renewable energy standards for over a decade. http://action.ucsusa.org/site/R?i=t8W8CtWlYFY2lR3lI1Ed-w..
Upgrading your home air conditioning to a more efficient model could help minimize your contribution to global warming without you having to break a sweat.
**Budget cuts target modern, sustainable agriculture practices. http://action.ucsusa.org/site/R?i=SQLkprajtY_y8CA4fVRzEw..
**Half of supermarket meat contains drug-resistant bacteria. http://action.ucsusa.org/site/R?i=zOTlpjoULBUAJFo_ZzfnaA..
**Engineered grass escapes again. http://action.ucsusa.org/site/R?i=tvZeBfVe3UXBB4cjRcelVw..
**Global warming and other factors push up food prices. http://action.ucsusa.org/site/R?i=GwgTciuLXAoR5v4C3ngicA..
When you press snooze on your alarm clock, toast your morning bagel, or turn on the radio, do you know where that electricity comes from? Is it from the wind turbine you’ve read about in a nearby town or from the dirty coal plant up the street? I’ll be honest—I had to ask one of our energy experts. The truth is, most of us don’t know where our electricity comes from. That’s why UCS is launching a new web quiz to educate all of us about the sometimes outrageous choices utility companies make about how to power our lives. Take the quiz today—you’ll be surprised what you find out! —Karla
Your calls helped secure vital funding for clean energy!
In late December, Congress renewed a critical renewable energy tax credit program. This grant program has been key to the growth of the renewable energy sector and has supported the development of thousands of clean energy jobs over the past two years. Thank you to all UCS supporters who called their members of Congress to support this important clean energy program!
|This Just In|
|Think clean energy is a partisan issue? Think again.
Currently, 29 states and the District of Columbia have in place renewable electricity standards (RES) requiring utilities to produce a certain percent of electricity from renewable sources. Recently, UCS analysts took a look at which political party was in control when each state RES was adopted and found that these clean energy standards are popular with Democrat, Republican, and Independent policy makers alike. As Congress looks to find common ground amid increasingly partisan rhetoric about national energy policy, they’d be wise to start by looking at state renewable electricity standards. MORE
|Ask the Scientist|
Laura Wisland, M.A.
|My senators claim that solar energy won’t work in Georgia implying we are not in the right part of the county to get its benefit. Sounds fishy to me but what does science say? They also support “clean coal.” Is there such a thing?
-D. Schomer, Warner Robins, GA.
You’re right to be skeptical—this is a fishy claim. You don’t have to be in the Mojave Desert to harvest solar energy. Rooftop panels often found on people’s homes these days use photovoltaic (PV) cells to harness energy from the sun. PV cells work across all kinds of climates. In fact, Georgia has the technical potential to produce nearly 30 percent of the electricity the state used in 2008 from solar energy using PV cells. As for “clean coal”, that is really a misnomer and quite a fishy claim as well. MORE
Do you have a question for UCS scientists? Submit your question today.
|Cartoon of the Month|
Click to view larger image
|Coal by the numbers.|
|Science in Action|
|Urge Utility Companies to Make Better Energy Choices
It’s outrageous that utilities choose to import dirty coal from other states and countries instead of making better energy choices like using our own locally produced clean, renewable resources and investing in energy efficiency. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Contact the largest utility company in your state today to find out where your power comes from and urge them to increase investments in renewable energy and efficiency measures.
We just signed an agreement to invest in the development of a backbone transmission project off the Mid-Atlantic coast that offers a solid financial return while helping to accelerate offshore wind development—so it’s both good business and good for the environment. The new project can enable the creation of thousands of jobs, improve consumer access to clean energy sources and increase the reliability of the Mid-Atlantic region‘s existing power grid.
When built out, the Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) backbone will stretch 350 miles off the coast from New Jersey to Virginia and will be able to connect 6,000MW of offshore wind turbines. That’s equivalent to 60% of the wind energy that was installed in the entire country last year and enough to serve approximately 1.9 million households.
The AWC backbone will be built around offshore power hubs that will collect the power from multiple offshore wind farms and deliver it efficiently via sub-sea cables to the strongest, highest capacity parts of the land-based transmission system. This system will act as a superhighway for clean energy. By putting strong, secure transmission in place, the project removes a major barrier to scaling up offshore wind, an industry that despite its potential, only had its first federal lease signed last week and still has no operating projects in the U.S.
Why offshore wind and why the Mid-Atlantic? Many coastal areas in the United States have large population centers on an overstretched grid but limited access to a high-quality land-based wind resource. These coastal states can take advantage of their most promising renewable resource by using larger wind farms with larger turbines that can take advantage of stronger and steadier winds offshore.
The Mid-Atlantic region is ideally suited for offshore wind. It offers more than 60,000 MW of offshore wind potential in relatively shallow waters that extend miles out to sea. These shallow waters make it easier to install turbines 10-15 miles offshore, meaning wind projects can take advantage of stronger winds and are virtually out-of-sight from land. With few other renewable energy options ideally suited for the Atlantic coast, the AWC backbone helps states meet their renewable energy goals and standards (PDF) by enabling a local offshore wind industry to deploy thousands of megawatts of clean, cost-effective wind energy.
The AWC backbone is critical to more rapidly scaling up offshore wind because without it, offshore wind developers would be forced to build individual radial transmission lines from each offshore wind project to the shore, requiring additional time consuming permitting and environmental studies and making balancing the grid more difficult. As those in the Northeast remember from the 2003 blackout, transmission is severely overstretched on the east coast. The AWC project relieves grid congestion in one of two National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors which were deemed to have significant network congestion and need speedy creation of transmission capacity.
The AWC project is led by independent transmission company Trans-Elect and is financed by Google, Good Energies and Marubeni Corporation. We are investing 37.5% of the equity in this initial development stage, with the goal of obtaining all the necessary approvals to finance and begin constructing the line. Although the development stage requires only a small part of the total estimated project budget, it represents a critical stage for the project.
We believe in investing in projects that make good business sense and further the development of renewable energy. We’re willing to take calculated risks on early stage ideas and projects that can have dramatic impacts while offering attractive returns. This willingness to be ahead of the industry and invest in large scale innovative projects is core to our success as a company.
From the Great Plains to the waters off the coast of Northern Europe, windmills churn out clean power that lights our homes and powers our economies. We are pleased to support this investment that will ultimately enable the Mid Atlantic to benefit from the tremendous wind resource off its coast.
Posted by Rick Needham, Green Business Operations Director