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Published: Tue, 12 Dec 2017 03:38:56 +0000

Last Build Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2017 03:38:56 +0000

Copyright: Copyright 2005 - Steal what you want
 



Zinke says energy wasn't involved in Bears Ears decision. Nuclear company documents say otherwise

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 19:56:33 +0000

Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke has made it a point to declare that energy concerns had nothing to do with his recommendation to Pr*sident Trump that Bears Ears National Monument in Utah be cut by 85 percent and the remnant hacked into bits. There’s no mine in Bears Ears, he told reporters after Trump issued two proclamations Tuesday cutting Bears Ears and another national monument in Utah, the Grand Staircase-Escalante. 

(image)
Here’s the whackjob on Bears Ears that the whackjob in the White House proclaimed Tuesday.

But The Washington Post has obtained documents showing there was heavy lobbying in favor of reducing the monument’s acreage by the owner of the nation’s only remaining uranium mill. It sits just outside the boundary of Bears Ears as designated last year by President Obama, but miles away from the new boundary under Trump’s truncated designation.

Juliet Eilperin’s report on the documents shows that Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc., a subsidiary of a Canadian firm, lobbied the Trump regime to shrink the monument—which is rich with scenic beauty and ancient American Indian archeological sites—to make it easier to access deposits of uranium ore: 

In a May 25 letter to the Interior Department, Chief Operating Officer Mark Chalmers wrote that the 1.35 million-acre expanse Obama created “could affect existing and future mill operations.” He later noted, “There are also many other known uranium and vanadium deposits located within the [original boundaries] that could provide valuable energy and mineral resources in the future.” [...]

Energy Fuels Resources did not just weigh in on national monuments through public-comment letters. It hired a team of lobbyists at Faegre Baker Daniels — led by Andrew Wheeler, who is awaiting Senate confirmation as the Environmental Protection Agency’s deputy secretary — to work on the matter and other federal policies affecting the company. It paid the firm $30,000 between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, according to federal lobbying records, for work on this and other priorities.

The company’s vice president of operations, William Paul Goranson, joined Wheeler and two other lobbyists, including former congresswoman Mary Bono (R-Calif.), to discuss Bears Ears in a July 17 meeting with two top Zinke advisers.

Although there are a few rich deposits in the world that are as much as 18 percent uranium, most sources, like those in Utah, are well below 1 percent. A mill uses various techniques to turn the ore into yellowcake—U308, triuranium octoxide. The milling process also leaves behind massive piles of tailings—powdery, slightly radioactive waste. The yellowcake is shipped to processing centers that turn it into uranium hexaflouride, which is then enriched to a level useful as fuel in commercial power reactors, a higher level for test reactors and production of medical isotopes, or to a much higher level for use in making nuclear weapons. 




Government blocks rule to reduce spills of methane, a gas 36 times more potent than carbon dioxide

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 17:01:05 +0000

The Bureau of Land Management is relaxing environmental rules on oil and gas allowing more release of methane, which is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

A notice slated to be published Friday in the Federal Register by the Bureau of Land Management said the agency “has concerns regarding the statutory authority, cost, complexity, feasibility, and other implications” of the 2016 rule, which is set to go fully into effect next month.

Enforcing rules is hard. It takes people who actually check to be sure companies are doing the right thing and … stuff. Much easier to just let oil companies vent excess methane into the atmosphere. Which they will.

Methane is a colorless and odorless gas that is up to 36 times as potent as carbon dioxide in terms of contributing to global warming. As development of oil and gas has increased through hydraulic drilling, or fracking, in shale formations, so have methane emissions.

Unlike the theoretical carbon capture of so-called “clean coal” plants, methane can easily be captured. In fact, methane is captured at every single natural gas well in the world. Methane is natural gas. But oil companies often find it easier to simply release (vent) or burn (flare) methane produced when drilling primarily for oil. And both oil and gas operations are subject to frequent leaks of methane which, because it is odorless and colorless, can become massive before anyone bothers to take action.

But the Trump administration has another very good reason for blocking the rules besides the “it was hard” argument. They also say that there’s little point enforcing them because the rules “may be rescinded or significantly revised in the near future.” Or not.

There’s not much point in changing a rule if it’s not being enforced.




Household Fire Update: Energy Efficent

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 13:59:07 +0000

I’ve bitched here often about the nightmare of a process this all was.

Having been back in my house for two months one thing I was mad about I am now happy about.

I was supposed to get flooring samples. Color ideas. Lighting suggestions. I never got a single suggestion from my contractor. I choose and bought it all down to door knobs. To pat myself on my back, when people learn this and see the house they say I should go into interior design.

Another thing I pushed hard on was the house being energy efficient. Not only is it a “smart” house (contractor fought me here) I wanted the best of the best I could afford with my HVAC. Gas. Insulation. Water heater. When they are all being replaced from scratch, I figured I needed to invest in the house.

I paid a ton of money outside the estimate for what the contractor wanted to put in.

My gosh!

Gotten three bills for power, water, sewer (one bill, all from my city). They range from $95-$98. That is about 75% cheaper than normal. Oh did I mention I live in a five bedroom house.

Gas which I use for heat and stove, under $20/month. That is not an accurate number, since I’ve not really used any heat this year. It has been a low of 35 and then a high into the 60s and 70s most days. I like it cold when I sleep so not even really ran my heat much.

I was sad I couldn’t afford solar. I paid, not from the insurance money, to reroof the house. But solar was just so much darn money. But my house has a 5,000 acre corn field in front of my house. The sun pounds my house into the ground.

Heck I paid a small fortune for “black out” curtains to stop the sun pounding my senses.

If these bills keep coming in at these numbers I will make back everything I paid out-of-pocket in a few years.

When I opened the bill yesterday and saw it was $98.07 and not $175 or $200 I kind of got emotional. I have some financial resources, but I might be looking at saving $100/month. That is really money.




Frack Trump and the GOP: Looting the Treasury, UT National Monument giveaway for development

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 00:47:15 +0000

Obama, as expected, named 1.35 million acres of federal land as the Bears Ears National Monument in late December, just a month before leaving office. Tribes and environmentalists celebrated, but Utah officials were angry. Strategy sessions began with Gov. Gary Herbert, House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, San Juan County commissioners, state lawmakers and the Utah federal delegation to figure out the best approach to prod the incoming administration to act. Some wanted a full rescission of Obama’s new monument while others cautioned it would be best to keep the designation but reduce it dramatically. Trump's plans add up to the largest elimination of protected areas in American history. He is a vandal in our midst, coming in person to lay waste to the land. Trump goes to Utah on Monday to announce more GOP predation on natural resources in favor of mineral exploitation and against the Earth itself. Because Trump is all about undoing Obama’s legacies, and if native peoples are subjugated also, then all the better, because Trump’s codetalking is all about oxymoronic wise use and as recent boorishness reveals, racial animus. President Trump now plans to go to Utah on Monday to decimate the Bears Ears National Monument, public land that's sacred to five tribes of Native Americans. "It is no surprise that the Trump Administration is bowing to special interests, including the oil and mining companies, and these maps show how extreme his plans are for some of the most treasured and culturally significant lands in our nation," said Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society. “President Trump's attempt to splinter and shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante would be the largest rollback of federal land protections ever," said Mark Salvo, vice president of Landscape Conservation at Defenders of Wildlife. Bears Ears in particular features thousands of Native American archaeological and cultural artifacts. "For us, Bears Ears is a homeland. It always has been and still is," the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition said. "The radical idea of breaking up Bears Ears National Monument is a slap in the face to the members of our Tribes and an affront to Indian people all across the country. Any attempt to eliminate or reduce the boundaries of this Monument would be wrong on every count. Such action would be illegal, beyond the reach of presidential authority." www.ecowatch.com/... xInteresting story from @thomaswburr on how Donald Trump Jr. was recruited to fight designation for #BearsEars National Monument.  https://t.co/4EGfDyR8Wp @brcalvert— Nate Carlisle (@natecarlisle) December 3, 2017 xDonald Trump to slash size of national parks in Utah to allow drilling https://t.co/jm5J6okCeJ— Telegraph News (@TelegraphNews) December 3, 2017 President Trump will on Monday announce plans to slash the size of two US national parks (sic), provoking fury from environmentalists, Native American tribes and conservationists. Leaked maps revealed proposals to shrink boundaries at Bears Ears national park from 1.3 million acres to 201,000 acres while Grand Staircase Escalante will be slashed by half to just under one  million acres... The changes will make way for oil and gas drilling, mining and other resource extraction activities in the beauty spot. xThousands of Utahns filled the steps, sidewalks and lawns outside the state Capitol on Saturday, protesting imminent action by President Donald Trump to drastically reduce the size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. https://t.co/UiPKcRqCBX— WI for Public Lands (@WIPublicLands) December 3, 2017 [...]



Arlington, VA to Add Solar on Five Schools, For Largest Such Procurement in the State

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 08:02:22 +0000

© By Will Driscoll, Arlington 350 core group member Arlington has solicited bids to add rooftop solar panel systems on at least five schools by 2020, for the largest solar-on-schools procurement to date in Virginia.  School system staff designed the solicitation to achieve a competitive price for solar, and to avoid financial headaches such as roof repairs down the road. The solicitation is structured to attract competition among bidders, yielding a competitive price, by: Specifying a larger project size of five schools (with an option for more), rather than the two schools initially envisioned; and Reducing the cost of bidding, by providing bidders with ready access to structural and electrical system information for each of the five schools, as well as each roof’s age, type, and warranty information. The resulting bids will be easy to compare on price, because each bidder must set a fixed price at which it will sell solar electricity to the school system over a period of 15 to 25 years.  This contrasts with many existing solar power purchase agreements that specify a starting price and an annual price increase—a more complex approach that is harder to compare across bids.*   The solar-on-schools project has been de-risked in several ways: Firms or teams are only eligible to bid if: 1) they have installed at least five similarly-sized projects; 2) operated and maintained at least five smaller projects; and 3) have appropriate contractor and electrical licenses.   A bidder must state its plan for financing all stages of the project, and provide audited financial statements for the firm (which will be kept confidential). The selected contractor must operate and maintain the solar panel systems.  (This provision is self-enforcing, since the contractor will only receive payment for the electricity that the system generates.) The contractor must specify a method for determining a buy-out price in case the school system chooses to terminate the contract for convenience. Additional provisions address potential roof issues: Ballasted systems are preferred, to eliminate roof penetrations that could leak. The use of ferrous metals, wood or plastic (e.g., in the solar panel racking system) is not permitted. The selected contractor must work with the obligor under any roof warranty to ensure that the warranty remains in effect. The contractor must repair any damage to the school caused by the system, including moisture damage. In the event that roof repair is needed due to aging of the existing roof, the contractor must remove the solar panel system and then replace it once the repair is completed, at no extra charge; the contractor’s price must account for this possibility. Arlington’s solar solicitation follows an amendment to the school system’s purchasing resolution, unanimously approved by Arlington’s school board last spring, to permit the use of power purchase agreements under the requirements of Virginia’s Public-Private Educational Facilities and Infrastructure Act of 2002.  (Members of Arlington 350 advocated for this resolution.)   Proposals are due in March, 2018.  The school system’s purchasing resolution calls for APS to hire “qualified professionals” from outside the APS staff to review all solicited proposals.  These professionals may include an architect, professional engineer, or certified public accountant.   Any rooftop solar offer recommended by the selection committee will be presented at a public hearing, and must be approved by the school board before a contract is signed, per the school system’s  purchasing resolution. Solar installations are to be completed within two years of contract award.  The school system may arrange with the selected offeror for solar on additional schools.  (A draft timeline from last April anticipated the installation of solar PV systems on two schools in summer 2018.) Statewide, Virginia could produce 32 [...]



Western States Petroleum Association expands in-house lobbying team with newest staff addition

Fri, 01 Dec 2017 05:12:03 +0000

SACRAMENTO —The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying group in California, on November 30 announced the addition of Margo Parks to their in house lobbying team. “Margo’s energy, enthusiasm and understanding of California policy and politics will be a great asset to WSPA,” Catherine Reheis-Boyd, WSPA President and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create faux “marine protected areas” in Southern California, said in a statement. “Parks accepted the newly formed position of Manager, California Policy Advocate, where she will work with WSPA’s members, navigating policy and politics to help achieve the organization’s goals in the legislature,” according to Reheis-Boyd. “I’m excited to help tell the oil industry’s story during this pivotal time in California, while legislators are designing policies that both protect our environment and ensure that Californians have the energy they need to power this great state’s economy,” Parks said. Prior to joining WSPA, Parks was an associate lobbyist at Political Solutions,  working on issues ranging from tax policy to agriculture to natural resources. Prior to her time at Political Solutions, she served as the Director of Government Relations for the California Cattlemen’s Association, according to WSPA. She is a former Capitol staffer and Senate Fellow, and a graduate of Scripps College, Claremont. Parks joins a growing staff to promote Big Oil agenda Parks joins a large and expanding staff that promotes the oil industry’s agenda in the West. On October 23, WSPA announced the hiring of international public relations expert Argelia León to the position of Manager of Strategic Partnerships, where she now manages “growing and maintaining WSPA's affiliations in the five western states including California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and Nevada,” according to a WSPA news release. Information: www.dailykos.com/... In March, WSPA hired former Assemblyman Henry Perea (D-Fresno) as Senior Vice President, Policy and Strategic Affairs. Perea advises WSPA on public policy and legislative matters in California: www.dailykos.com/... In addition to Perea, León, and Parks, the organization this year also hired three public relations specialists and an in-house general counsel as the oil industry gears up to further expand its already huge influence and power in California politics. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) bills itself as a “non-profit trade association that represents companies that account for the bulk of petroleum exploration, production, refining, transportation and marketing in the five western states of California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and Nevada.” WSPA and Big Oil are top lobbying spenders in California While state officials and the mainstream media tout California as the nation’s “green leader,” WSPA and Big dominate lobbying expenses in California every legislative session. The oil industry spent more on lobbying in California, $16,360,618, just in the first six months of 2017 than was spent by the industry in all of 2016, $16.0 million. That amounts to an average of $2.7 million per month – $90,000 per day – since Jan. 1, 2017, according to a report compiled and written by William Barrett of the Lung Association in California. Over the past ten years, oil lobbying in California has topped $150 million. Oil industry money ranked #1-3 among all California lobbyist spending from January through June 2017, with Chevron spending $7,130,322, WSPA $3,916,353 and Tesoro $2,452,913. As a result of this gusher of Big Oil lobbying money, every bill opposed by the oil industry with the exception of one has failed to pass out of the Legislature over the past three years. The oil industry used this money to pass Governor Jerry Brown’s c[...]



Warren G. Trump and Tea-Party Dome ... the worst POTUS in history is ready for WWIII

Wed, 29 Nov 2017 21:16:48 +0000

The Teapot Dome Scandal was a bribery incident that took place in the United States from 1921 to 1922, during the administration of President Warren G. Harding. Secretary of the Interior Albert Bacon Fall had leased Navy petroleum reserves at Teapot Dome in Wyoming and two other locations in California to private oil companies at low rates without competitive bidding. In 1922 and 1923, the leases became the subject of a sensational investigation by Senator Thomas J. Walsh. Fall was later convicted of accepting bribes from the oil companies and became the first Cabinet member to go to prison. No person was ever convicted of paying the bribes, however.   Tea-Party Dome, active measures, and a strategy of tension: At issue was a proposal to build dozens of nuclear reactors, billed by its backers as a “Marshall Plan for the Middle East”... of nuclear plants in Saudi Arabia and across the Middle East President Brawndo has now made it an open secret that emoluments were the least important element of trying to foment a “Marshall Plan” to sell nuclear reactors across the Middle East. This whole affair has an ironic component not simply because of the ecological dangers. Then again, climate denial is a prerequisite to making money the GOP way, much like the ‘arms for hostages’ of Iran-Contra, maximizing profit by getting PoC on different continents to annihilate themselves with weapons they purchased, and win an election to boot … sweet! And Mexico will pay for it…. This action, regardless of who profited or will profit, creates more problems for the potential proliferation of nuclear materials in general and the logistical foundations for weapons of mass destruction in a region where sectarian violence and civil war is common.  More critical is that the same WH parties involved in the operation were also “in cahoots” with the same Russians who interfered in the US elections… even as Agent Orange has claimed that #TrumpRussia activity was all a hoax spawned by the person (HRC) least likely to benefit from such interference. xThe Trump administration is holding talks on providing nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia — a move that critics say could upend decades of U.S. policy and lead to an arms race in the Middle East.https://t.co/i7Zy5MrRnB— ProPublica (@ProPublica) November 29, 2017 xNow is a good time to remember this --> Kushner, Bannon & Flynn met with Jordan's King while Flynn was pushing the for-profit deal to partner with Russia to put nuclear plants in Jordan...https://t.co/mYDESlbLDM via @jasonleopold— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) November 28, 2017 xIt was a great honor to be with King Abdullah II of Jordan and his delegation this morning. We had a GREAT bilateral meeting!🇺🇸🇯🇴 pic.twitter.com/6tYDHswKa3— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 20, 2017 xNew nuclear armaments and launch plans could increase the risk of an early resort to nuclear weaponry in a moment of conflict, writes @mklare1 https://t.co/O0WMcuwIBI— BillMoyers.com (@BillMoyers) November 29, 2017 xThe weapons industry tries to get public support by funding hawkish, right-wing think tanks. Think of it as the intellectual version of money laundering -@WilliamHartung https://t.co/QOB3CMYo3G— BillMoyers.com (@BillMoyers) November 28, 2017 [...]



Solar Backpack and Bicycle Back Up

Wed, 29 Nov 2017 17:52:41 +0000

My backpack became a solar backpack when I sewed a $5 solar tail light and a $10 solar headlight to it.  The plastic blister pack is the holder for the headlight.  I've been assembling my own solar backpacks from off the shelf materials for close to a decade and a half now and this is the third version. This Solar headlight (links to sellers are from a search made on 11/26/17 and you should probably check others out even though these are now commodity products made in gross quantities) https://www.gearbest.com/bike-lights/pp_425123.html costs about $10.  I've been using one for a year or two and it works fine.  The on/off button top came off during the first winter but it hasn't affected the switch's performance. The solar light comes with a mini-USB to USB plug so I can supply battery power to another small device. This solar tail light costs about $5 www.newegg.com/... and, again, I've been using two for a year or two, one on the rear fender of my bike and another sewn to my backpack, given one or two away, and they work fine. I have just ordered this bicycle chain charger with battery and USB connection for about $50 https://www.bonanza.com/listings/Bicycle-Chain-Charger-to-USB-Dynamo-1000mAh/164100759 I want to see how that works out. The combination of solar and bicycle power gives anyone essential energy autonomy whatever the state of the grid.  Or the world. The fact of the matter is, for less than $100 dollars you can have a 5, 10, or 20 year, depending upon the quality of the equipment and based upon my experience, supply of basic electricity:  light, phone, radio, batteries, possibly a computer.... Small solar and bicycle power can also be entry level electrical power for the more than 1 billion people who don't now, in 2017, have access to reliable and affordable electricity. This is one reason why I say Solar IS Civil Defense. It is also why I say a Solar Swadeshi (http://solarray.blogspot.com/2005/05/solar-swadeshi-hand-made-electricity.html) is extremely practical and an entry into Gandhian economics, nonviolent economics, and a new sense of independence and self-reliance.   [...]



Thankful for the Millions Moving Beyond Coal Globally

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 21:16:58 +0000

I’ve come back home from the United Nations climate talks (COP23) in Bonn, Germany, with so much to be thankful for - namely, for the inspiration from the many Beyond Coal activists I met from all over the world. Our movement has gone global, and seeing it with my own eyes was life-changing. We have roughly the same amount of coal power on the grid in the US and Europe, and by moving beyond coal to clean energy on both sides of the Atlantic, we actually have a fighting chance to turn the corner on climate change before it’s too late. That’s exactly what we intend to do. From Germany to the US, from Chile to China, people of all ages and from all backgrounds are taking action in their own countries and communities to try to slow climate disruption by moving beyond coal. Here are some of the big moments from my time in Germany and at COP23, the first in a series of posts I’ll be writing about this trans-Atlantic Beyond Coal movement. I joined Beyond Coal senior director Bruce Nilles and lead volunteer Verena Owen (both of whom started the Beyond Coal campaign years ago) to celebrate the launch of Europe Beyond Coal, a coalition of organizations in 28 countries working to phase out coal in Europe. It’s a sister effort to our US Beyond Coal Campaign, and we’ve been comparing notes and strategizing across the Atlantic for a couple of years now. After several days of meeting with local leaders from around the world, I was both inspired by their work, and struck by how similar their campaigns are to our work in the US. The call for entire countries to phase out coal was front and center throughout COP23. On November 4, we marched with 25,000 people in the streets all calling for a coal phase-out. This was the largest climate march in Germany’s history, and Bruce joined other international leaders on the main stage, where he gave a rousing speech (watch a clip in this video) about how we’ll move forward in spite of Trump. The UK and Canada announced a major new diplomatic effort to phase out coal, with 25 partners - including 20 nations! - committing to end their use of coal entirely. The Powering Past Coal Alliance marks a watershed moment in the global effort to move beyond coal, by creating the first-ever diplomatic initiative that’s laser focused on phasing out coal as a first, essential key step to tackling the climate crisis. The launch made headlines around the world. As Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna put it, "I think we can safely say that the response has been overwhelming." Mike Bloomberg traveled to Bonn where he announced a $50 million grant to international work to move beyond coal, important new support for efforts around the world. When he made the announcement at COP23, he encouraged Germans listening to call German chancellor Angela Merkel to demand a coal phase-out in Germany, one of Europe’s biggest coal countries. Bruce Nilles and I presented on the big stage in the US Climate Action pavilion - a space created and funded by Bloomberg and other donors because the US, I’m sad to report, did not have an official presence with the other countries, given Trump’s intention to exit the Paris agreement. We told the Beyond Coal story and explained how a grassroots movement was leading the way for a just transition to clean energy in the US, driving down carbon emissions faster than any other country, and retiring coal plants under Trump just as fast as we did under Obama. Our allies asked us to keep telling our story around the world, so that other countries won’t use Trump as an excuse to slow their progress. For me, sharing our story on such a big stage was a tremendous honor and an unforgettable moment in my life. I took to social media for a fun Facebook Live video interview with Verena Owen, direct from COP23, about all we [...]



Why America Just Doesn't Get Trains Anymore

Sun, 19 Nov 2017 15:00:18 +0000

For reasons I may get to in a subsequent diary, I am more than a little pissed at the state of railroading in America. Once upon a time, America’s rail system was an example for the rest of the world. We weren’t the only ones building railroad empires and developing bigger, faster, better trains, but we were no slouches.  And then we lost it. A number of things contributed to America’s iron horse deficiency, some of then deliberate, some of them unanticipated, but the cumulative result is we simply do not have the rail system we deserve — and need. Steel wheels rolling on steel rails are still one of the most energy efficient means of transportation we have yet devised. (There a saying, a little too true to be funny, that proof of railroad efficiency is its ability to survive railroad management.) Rail technology already available could be used to create a transportation system that would be essentially carbon-free, do much for our energy needs, and boost our economy. The rest of the world gets it — in the Netherlands, their passenger rail system is 100% renewable. But in America, it just doesn’t come up. Why? There are some promising signs that a few places in America are starting to rethink rails. When both Texas and California are pursuing the development of high speed rail, when Florida is getting faster speed rail, what’s wrong with the rest of the country? I came up with a list of reasons that might explain why America continues to derail itself. Most Americans have never ridden a passenger train of any kind, except maybe in an amusement park or on a tourist line — if that much. They have nothing to relate it to in their lives, no experience to gauge what it could do for them. They just don’t see it as something they need. They ‘know’ commuter rail only works in big cities, is too expensive, and ‘those’ people use it. They ‘know’ High Speed Rail is super expensive, tickets will cost too much, no one will use it — and regular passenger rail is too slow. And you’ll never take their cars away from them. Most people have no idea how much of our economy turns on rail transport, or what they get from it. They do know about oil tanker ‘bomb trains’ and horrible accidents though. [Update: And most Americans believe railroads need to have lower ticket prices and pay for themselves, despite having to maintain their rails and pay property taxes on them while competing with airlines that don’t have to pay for airports or air traffic control systems, and highways that are subsidized by everyone.] All of the above means there’s a big dearth of public support for railroads today — which means they are not a priority for most politicians. Where there is interest in rail these days, it’s often because there’s no alternative to meet needs only rail can deliver, or a growing awareness that rail offers untapped possibilities for communities that have exhausted all other avenues. Billionaires spend big bucks on anti-rail messaging and pushing anti-rail policies, because they are anti-government, and anti-tax. They’ll be damned if they’ll allow the kind of public investment that would be needed to transform America’s railroads — and they don’t see a high enough rate of return to invest in it themselves. They also see railroads as one of the few remaining industries that haven’t driven out unions — so again they have an incentive to be anti-rail on general principles.  Billionaires also spend money funding ‘green’ groups that are anti-development and anti-rail to use them for troops fighting pro-rail policies. The rails to trails movement has become an aggressive player in this, now going after working railroads for conversion into trails. NIMBY movements also fight railroads, for obvious reasons. Big[...]



Flynn, Bannon, and Kushner were making money by proliferating nuclear materials in the Middle East

Fri, 24 Nov 2017 08:04:32 +0000

Kushner, Bannon and Flynn secretly promoted a US-Russian Saudi-financed program to build nuclear reactors in the Arab world. With that earlier revelation in September as confirmations, these appear to support the building #TrumpRussia speculation that Flynn may have “flipped”. More interesting is giving the project the ironic moniker of “Marshall Plan”, and as a side hustle, what are the implications of expanding the market for nuclear power in areas less secure.  Middle East states that could have nuclear cooperation agreements  Data from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) indicates that 436 nuclear reactors are presently operating in some 30 countries. However, with more than half of these 436 reactors due for retirement by 2030, countries which export nuclear infrastructure will likely be competing for a bounty of new contracts in the next decade. Indeed, worldwide another 53 nuclear reactors are currently under construction and a further 136 are in the planning stages. Emerging markets in the Middle East are keen to introduce nuclear power into their energy portfolios apjjf.org/... Also, were the recent activities by Kushner in Saudi Arabia and Israel concerning peace plans or simply continuing commercial interests of this type, among others. The difference has been that Flynn’s casual ignorance of operating as a foreign agent seems more exposed to prosecution than the nepotism from which Kushner has benefited.  “According to Alexandra Bell of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, giving a country nuclear power ‘…is like giving a country a nuclear weapons starter kit.’” ...and beaks were getting wet by personal profit deals lasting decades, those arrangements were made to overlap their government service and to use those connections for private gain. Profit precedes proliferation, as the market for new nuclear reactors expands. Information has been released by the House Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committee that Michael Flynn, former Trump appointed National Security Adviser, is confirmed to have attended a meeting between the United States, Russia, and Saudi Arabia regarding building nuclear reactors in the Middle East.  The meeting took place in 2015 when Flynn was working on behalf of U.S. owned oil companies. Flynn failed to disclose this meeting on his application for security clearance after being appointed National Security Adviser – as well as the $25,000 he received for attending the meeting. [...]  Adding fuel to the fire, journalist Anthony Cormier, announced confirmation of a similar meeting attended by Flynn and the king of Jordan – along with Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon on January 5, 2017. a consortium of US, French, Dutch, Russian, Gulf Arab, British, Ukrainian, and Israeli companies to design and build 40 nuclear power reactors. www.google.com/... www.buzzfeed.com/... xMichael Flynn has got the goods on everybody. He knows where all the bodies are buried.He was in meetings with the Russian ambassador, in meetings with Kushner, in meetings with Devin Nunes. This guy is Trump's worst nightmare.— Brian Krassenstein🐬 (@krassenstein) November 24, 2017 [...]



"How free enterprise can solve climate change"

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 03:43:45 +0000

How free enterprise can solve climate change Tuesday, April 25 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm MIT, Building E14-633, 75 Amherst Street, Cambridge Speaker: Bob Inglis Former Congressman Bob Inglis (R-SC) traveled to Antarctica and Greenland as a member of the House Science Committee during his second, three-year term in Congress (2005-10) and became convinced climate change was a problem and needed action. In July 2012, he founded and launched republicEn.org, which is centered on conservative principles and a free-enterprise solution to climate change. Inglis will talk about how free enterprise and a "tax swap" can deliver the innovation to solve our climate change issues and lead the rest of the world. ESI People & the Planet Lecture Series Web site: https://environmentalsolutions.mit.edu/events/ Open to: the general public Cost: free Sponsor(s): Environmental Solutions Initiative For more information, contact:  Hannah Loomis esi@mit.edu  I came across this in my archives and thought I’d bring it out.   Bob Inglis is probably the most outspoken climate realist on the Right.  He and his organization, RepublicEn, are “energy optimists, climate realists.”  I tried to start a conversation with him about Solar IS Civil Defense when last he passed through MIT but haven’t heard anything back. Long ago, back in the 1980s when Reagan had killed the solar boom(let) and gasoline was cheap, some of the national environmental groups talked about “No Regrets” strategies, things people could do that would pay off whatever you thought about energy or the environment.  Nobody ever pushed it that hard, in my estimation, although the ideas of energy efficiency and energy conservation (not necessarily the same thing) have paid off over and over again but still haven’t changed enough minds to shift the deadlocked politics on energy and climate change in the USA. My rough notes from the talk: 4/25/17 MIT Bob Inglis Son made him confront climate change after knee jerk reaction to Gore in 1990s Went to Antarctica and trip made it real and apparent to him Snorkeling on Great Barrier Reef he realized the [scientist] showing him what he was doing was worshipping God Raise wages and cut carbon act proposed in 2009 - revenue neutral carbon tax, border adjustable meaning it applies to imports as well which he thinks will win at WTO He lost his next election to Trey Gowdy RepublicEn has 6 people and $1.2 million annual budget Conservatives are the "indispensable party in the indispensable nation" and need to be won over.  He uses the language of free enterprise and capitalism to explain climate change. The environmental left and eco right Energy optimists and climate realists Conservatives trust their messengers like ExxonMobil and they have, like Inglis, an “optimistic realism” on climate. Gore is also in favor of Inglis' revenue neutral, border adjustable tax proposal Conservatives have a tribal connection to their views.  They want to hear free market abundance and capitalistic solutions. Senator Rob Portman is the best shot at climate change in Republican conference Senator Whitehouse proposed corporate tax reduction as recycling for carbon tax Works on climate because he loves the people of the future When you ask people what should be our nation's priorities the importance of environment is rising on the list Clean Power Plan is the worst way to go about climate change "but they had to do what they had to do" Campaign cash is the wave but voter discontent or interest is the tide He'd like to say to the Kochs "stop socializing your soot" and get Paul Gigot of Wall St Journal editorial page to understand climate change A cause to the Left is a calling on the Right [...]



Republican 'tax bill' seeks to protect oil companies, punish their competitors. Yet again.

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 15:58:37 +0000

Ever since the days of Ronald Reagan, conservative "energy" policy has consisted of granting subsidies to fossil fuel companies on the one hand, and efforts to legislatively cripple their market competitors on the other.

You can speculate as to why this would be, but you don't need to: It's because fossil fuel companies are big donors to conservative causes. It's a simple case of policy whoring. The oil companies pay the most to candidates, so laws are written to protect oil companies. The coal companies cut checks to conservative leaders, so conservative administrations tweak the regulations to allow the companies to more easily dodge safety concerns. If "big solar,” as an industry, started funding conservative campaigns or think tanks, then those politicians would be singing the praises of renewable energy. But new energy startups have only a trickle of money to spend on such prostitutes, while the nation's top oil companies have billions at their disposal, and so here we are.

We all know this, at this point. It is not a secret. There is no ideological consideration that would pair would-be "free market conservatism" with 50 years of whoring for extracting American oil at the greatest possible pace and for the least public good, nor with asinine essays about how we should ignore the human health costs of rampant polluters because the real problem here is that wind turbines are killing off our precious birds. It is all garbage, it is all crooked, and we are at least a decade past the point where any argument can be made to the contrary.

So yes, the Republican-controlled House is as we speak reinventing the tax code to provide subsidies to the industry that has left the most money on the nightstand, while actively punishing those that would compete with those companies. Again. This time, it’s under the ever-dodgy rubric of a "tax bill."




FL-Gov: Gwen Graham (D) Calls For Ending Massive Unfair Utility Taxes In Florida

Tue, 14 Nov 2017 19:26:22 +0000

Received this e-mail today from former Rep. Gwen Graham’s (D. FL) gubernatorial campaign:

For 20 years, the Republican politicians in Tallahassee have turned a blind eye to special interests as they've run roughshod over seniors, small business owners and families.

Florida’s families have been forced to pay “advanced nuclear recovery taxes” for nuclear power plants that were broken or never built -- more than $3 billion since 2006.

And if some Tallahassee politicians have their way, Floridians could be forced to pay a new fracking tax to the tune of $500 million a year for unregulated fracking projects!

Gwen Graham is running for governor to be a consumer advocate for the people of Florida. If elected, she will put an end to these massive utility taxes. Will you add your name to show she has your support?

Gwen is pledging to take action -- and it’s not a moment too soon.

Under Republican control, Florida’s regulatory commissions have sold out to the special interests. This must change. As governor, Gwen will appoint consumer advocates to the Public Service Commission. She will fight to repeal the advanced nuclear recovery tax and to ban utilities from ever charging customers a speculative fracking tax.

Now Gwen wants to hear from you. Will you add your name to let her know you support her plan to end unfair utility taxes?

Thanks,

Team Graham

Click here to add your name.




Doing what White House should be doing, state and local leaders favor climate accord at Bonn summit

Tue, 14 Nov 2017 20:41:35 +0000

Pr*@%!^#t Donald Trump didn’t show up at the Bonn climate summit. For one thing, he was visiting Asia kowtowing to Chinese leaders and making nice with the murderous president of the Philippines. For another, nobody at the summit rolled out the red carpet for him. Without that, he hates going anywhere. The only official presentation from the U.S. in Bonn was to promote the burning of fossil fuels, a move which generated a lot of flak. But there were other prominent Americans at the summit who aren’t part of the lying, climate science-denying brigade. Included in this number were several Democratic governors and many other state and local officials. They were in Germany to let the rest of the world know that even though the Trump regime is scientifically illiterate and ideologically malignant on the subject of climate change, many American state and local authorities are in opposition. They sought to make clear that they are doing what they can to meet the non-binding pledges of the Paris Climate Accord, despite Trump’s declaration that the United States will withdraw from that agreement unless it can get one of the man’s ballyhooed “better deals.” (The U.S. can’t formally withdraw from the Paris agreement until November 2020.)  On Saturday California Gov. Jerry Brown and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched “America’s Pledge on climate change.” This initiative is designed to focus on the actions of states, local governments, and businesses to cut greenhouse gas emissions to meet the goals of the Paris Accord. Joshua S. Hill reports: “When cities and states combine together and then join with powerful corporations, that’s how we get stuff done,” said Governor Brown at today’s event at the US Climate Action Pavilion, a purpose-built exhibition space sponsored by US non-federal leaders at COP23. “We’re here, we’re in and we’re not going away.” “Today we’re sending a clear message to the world that America’s states, cities and businesses are moving forward with our country’s commitments under the Paris Agreement — with or without Washington,” added Governor Brown, who was recently named Special Advisor for States and Regions ahead of the United Nations’ 23rd Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP23). [...] “In the US, emission levels are determined far more by cities, states, and businesses than they are by our federal government — and each of these groups is taking action because it’s in their own best interest,” explained Michael Bloomberg, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change. “Reducing emissions is good for the economy and good for public health. The American government may have pulled out of the Paris Agreement, but American society remains committed to it — and we will redouble our efforts to achieve its goals. We’re already halfway there.” [...]



My (intended) Comments Regarding the IceBreaker Offshore Wind Farm

Fri, 10 Nov 2017 03:02:29 +0000

On Nov. 8, the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) allowed public testimony in support of or opposition against the Icebreaker Wind Facility. For the uninitiated, this is the proposed offshore wind farm being planned in Lake Erie. It will be the first freshwater installation in the U.S., and presents a great opportunity for Ohio to get ahead of the game in the renewable energy industry. I joined the public testimony to voice my strong support for this bill. Fortunately yet unfortunately, so many people turned out to voice their support of this project, that by the time I had my chance to testify, I had to cut my comments considerably shorter due to time considerations. However, I wanted what I originally intended to say to be published for the record, anyways. I present that below, with some edits for readability and to better adapt it to this format: “To the community and to the OPSB, regarding the Icebreaker offshore wind farm: I wanted to take a few minutes to voice my support for this offshore wind farm. Further, I want to press all of our current and future leaders - whether representatives, mayors, governors, senators, councilmen, etc - to support projects like this one in the future. As a physicist, a candidate for Congress in Ohio's 16th district, an environmentalist, and a concerned citizen, I cannot express enough my enthusiasm for and endorsement of this project. The most important reason everyone should get behind this facility is the possible effect it could have on jobs in this region. The turbines used in this project are imported, because only one part of the world has made a concerted effort to develop offshore wind. If we allow this project to continue and use Lake Erie as a proof-of-concept for freshwater wind, we can start a new industry right here in northeastern Ohio. This region is spectacularly well positioned not just to provide a home for these turbines, but to produce them and become the country's primary manufacturer of wind turbines for offshore wind projects. After all: most of the construction is steel, and to establish a demand for these here would be a boon to our steel plants while encouraging development of countless other businesses seeking to capitalize on a new industry. Being able to manufacture the windmills in America, right here in Ohio, will vastly improve the feasibility of future projects both here and across the country.  The second half of the mural inside the room, which I reference in my comments. The second reason I would ask everyone to support this project is because climate change is real, regardless of whether or not you agree. It is happening and we must find a way to combat it. This is a modest way we can signal our intent to tackle the problem. It adds to our nation's overall renewable energy portfolio, while establishing a precedent for the establishment of renewable energy resources wherever they can be built. Additionally, the completion of this project will amplify these effects - while creating more jobs - as more offshore projects are approved. Lastly — this is my first time in this room, and that mural up there... I like it. This project will help us live up to those last few words: let's keep this a city with an enlightened vision, embracing the future and the change it brings. And let us live up to that promise of a civic soul, by doing what we can to leave this city and this region a better place than we found it.  Thank you for the opportunity to testify!” [...]



U.S. now supercalifragilisticexceptionalist as planet's only nation to reject Paris Climate Accord

Tue, 07 Nov 2017 20:41:15 +0000

The world’s second-greatest producer of greenhouse gas emissions (and No.1 historically) has become the only nation on the planet that rejects the Paris Climate Accord. That happened Tuesday when Syrian delegates to the ongoing climate conference in Bonn announced their nation would join the accord. Pr*@%!^#t Donald Trump announced in June that the United States would be withdrawing from the accord even though it cannot formally abandon it until Nov. 4, 2020. 

The 195 nations that signed the accord in 2015 agreed to work cooperatively to keep the Earth from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with an aspiration of keeping it below 1.5 degrees Celsius. There is a widespread view among climate hawks that the accord doesn’t go far enough. But even most critics support it because it’s the only thing we’ve got. The former argument is why Nicaragua originally refused to join. The latter is why government leaders there changed their minds and decided last month to sign the accord.

Responding to the Syrian move, Eric Holthaus at Grist lays it out:

That fact is so shocking it’s worth repeating: The United States is now the only nation on Earth not on board with working together to solve climate change. Even rogue regimes like Syria and North Korea have taken time out from plotting mass murder to acknowledge the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The United States, which originally helped craft the Paris Agreement under President Obama, has historically contributed the most to the problem of climate change. A recent independent analysis of current and pending climate policy placed it as one of the few countries “critically insufficient” to keep warming to safe levels — putting the world further off course and risking lives worldwide.

There are still signs of hope, however: A delegation representing hundreds of American mayors, university presidents, and business leaders have traveled to Bonn to reassure world leaders that at the local level, climate action in the United States is still full speed ahead.




Trump is warping the energy market to help just one supporter—at a cost to climate, health, and jobs

Tue, 07 Nov 2017 18:05:38 +0000

Donald Trump has wrecked America’s standing in the world by unilaterally removing the nation from the Paris agreement, placed millions at risk from climate change by dumping the Clean Power Plan, buried hundreds of miles of streams and rivers with an executive order to remove limits on dumping waste, and cut short the lives of thousands by requiring utilities to keep more polluting power sources in the mix. And all of it, all of it, helps one man.

A proposal by Energy Secretary Rick Perry to alter the nation's electricity markets would provide a windfall for a small group of companies — most strikingly one owned by coal magnate Bob Murray, a prominent backer of President Donald Trump.

The “reliability” standards being pushed by Perry’s Department of Energy explicitly penalize utilities for using wind or solar power and reward providers who keep aging coal power and nuclear plants up and running. Even natural gas-powered plants aren’t allowed to meet the specifications that were specifically drawn to protect coal.

Perry's plan would force consumers to subsidize ailing coal-fired and nuclear power plants with billions of dollars, in what he calls an effort to ensure that the nation’s power network can withstand threats like terrorist attacks or severe weather. But his narrowly written proposal would mostly affect plants in a stretch of the Midwest and Northeast where Murray's mining company, Murray Energy, is the predominant supplier, according to a POLITICO analysis of Energy Department data.

If Trump’s various sections had worked together to specifically punish someone this clearly, it would likely be against the law. But Trump’s team has assembled a stack of regulations designed to perfectly benefit the person who provided Trump not just with over $200,000 in campaign funds, but all those handy coal miners to serve as props during the campaign. So … it’s all good.



Carter Page's testimony provides more bombshells than the Battle of Britain, and more insanity

Tue, 07 Nov 2017 16:24:03 +0000

The days of treating energy consultant Carter Page as the most laughable member of Trump’s campaign team have come to a solid middle, as Page’s jaw-dropping testimony before the House Intelligence Committee reveals the signature brilliance of Trump’s foreign policy adviser.

“I greatly appreciate the opportunity to help set the record straight … following the false evidence, other illegal activities as well as additional extensive lies distributed by the Clinton campaign and their transnational associates. Working in coordination with the Obama administration, their transnational criminal associates, which severely defamed me and many other supporters of the Trump campaign and our democracy in general should hopefully soon gain full exposure.”

No, it’s not all like that. That’s the coherent part, the part that Page had a chance to write in advance. Page’s testimony is peppered with denunciations of the “Clinton/Obama regime” and the many “U.S. cyber operations of wiretap” against him. Even better are the sections where Carter Page plays attorney.

“Whereas I have never done anything wrong in Russia, no documents, records, electronically stored information including email, communication, recordings, data and tangible things could reasonably lead to the discovery of any facts within the investigation’s publicly announced parameters as it relates to actions by the Russian government.” 

Which fits perfectly with this … 

Mr. Schiff: Dr. Page, my question is whether you complied with the subpoena that required you to produce all relevant documents to the committee. Did you comply?

Mr. Page: I pleaded my Fifth Amendment rights, yes.

Because nothing says no document could reasonably lead to anything wrong like refusing to hand over documents. Though how Page gets to his decision to withhold some documents is … pretty amazing. 

And really, you have to look below to see the visual aid that Page brought to the committee.




1st Episode of EV👍OK Vlog

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 04:55:45 +0000

This is the very first video of EV👍 OK. What you will be seeing is the disjointed ramblings of me trying to get over the idea of seeing myself on a video, while trying to explain what this channel is all about. This channel is about electric vehicles (EVs), alternative fuels, alternative energy with a focus on emissions free generation of electricity and more. It will give you more of a historical and economic analysis, and my particular perspective of what is happening and what has happened in the field of alternative fuel and alternative energy. Come and explore this with me.




MIT Energy Hackathon Puerto Rico (Caribbean) Challenge Results

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 03:57:06 +0000

 The MIT Energy Hackathon began on Friday night, November 3 and ended Sunday morning, November 5.  9 energy challenges were presented to about 300 people for 2 minutes each.  After a take-out dinner, each presenter had the chance to talk with individual and small groups of students for an hour and a half and to check back in over the weekend.   I presented my challenge,  Rebuilding Energy Infrastructure in the Caribbean After the Hurricanes (https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/10/29/1710825/-MIT-Energy-Hackathon-Challenge-Rebuilding-Energy-Infrastructure-in-the-Caribbean-After-the-Hurrica), the only one submitted by an individual not a corporation, as best I could.  There were over 40 teams at the Hackathon working on problems with Shell and GM’s and other’ climate goals, beer and other food and beverage waste treatment, drilling fluids, building energy use, and other topics. Three teams took the hurricane reconstruction challenge up.  Each of them concentrated on Puerto Rico although I had specifically reminded them of the situation on Barbuda which was a much smaller scale, about 2000 people rather than more than 3 million.  One team redesigned Puerto Rico’s electrical system as modular micro-grids with energy storage to provide 40% of the island's power from renewables within a reasonable time period.  Hawaii, with a population of about 1.5 million, is planning on 70% of its energy from renewables by 2030.  This team intends to keep working on their proposal for another upcoming hackathon.   The second team proposed an app to identify what areas had electricity and what areas didn't and then link people with energy suppliers and systems, an app which is applicable not only to Puerto Rico but any disaster or emergency aftermath.  The third team would use SolarCoin (https://solarcoin.org/en/node/6), an existing online currency, and blockchain using Mycroft, “an open source Alexa” or Siri, to bootstrap and crowd fund a solar transition for individual and groups as well as community solar installations.  The first team was also thinking of electrical current as currency with blockchain, an authentication or accounting system, something that can lead to what I call a solar swadeshi (http://solarray.blogspot.com/2005/05/solar-swadeshi-hand-made-electricity.html) and, possibly, Gandhian economics (http://hubeventsnotes.blogspot.com/2014/04/inclusive-economics-gandhian-method-and.html). There were nine finalists.  Two of the finalists were teams that took up the challenge of Puerto Rico:  the app team and the SolarCoin team.  Neither won any of the three top prizes but the SolarCoin team won the best in its challenge. This particular challenge, building and rebuilding our energy and communications infrastructure in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and here in the USA, is an ongoing challenge, a problem that won’t go away without a lot of work.   There are other discussions about climate resilience and disaster response ongoing, just as natural disasters and man-made emergencies are.  Here’s another set of design challenges that’s open until November 8, 2017: There are other discussions about climate resilience and disaster response ongoing, just as natural disasters and man-made emergencies are.  Here’s another set of design challenges that’s open until November 8, 2017: https://makershare.com/missions/make-difference-hurricane-relief Design Brief This mission is time sensitive, as people who are affected by these disasters are in immediate nee[...]



Spotlight on green news & views: Climate report reiterates what we know; D.C. still failing P.R.

Wed, 08 Nov 2017 23:21:22 +0000

This is the 530th edition of the Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue) usually appears twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Here is the Nov. 4 Green Spotlight. More than 27,980 environmentally oriented stories have been rescued to appear in this series since 2006. Inclusion of a story in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it. OUTSTANDING GREEN STORIES gmoke writes—MIT Energy Hackathon Puerto Rico (Caribbean) Challenge Results: “The MIT Energy Hackathon began on Friday night, November 3 and ended Sunday morning, November 5.  9 energy challenges were presented to about 300 people for 2 minutes each.  After a take-out dinner, each presenter had the chance to talk with individual and small groups of students for an hour and a half and to check back in over the weekend. I presented my challenge, Rebuilding Energy Infrastructure in the Caribbean After the Hurricanes, the only one submitted by an individual not a corporation, as best I could. There were over 40 teams at the Hackathon working on problems with Shell and GM’s and other’ climate goals, beer and other food and beverage waste treatment, drilling fluids, building energy use, and other topics. Three teams took the hurricane reconstruction challenge up. Each of them concentrated on Puerto Rico although I had specifically reminded them of the situation on Barbuda, which was a much smaller scale, about 2000 people rather than more than 3 million. One team redesigned Puerto Rico’s electrical system as modular micro-grids with energy storage to provide 40% of the island's power from renewables within a reasonable time period. Hawaii, with a population of about 1.5 million, is planning on 70% of its energy from renewables by 2030.  This team intends to keep working on their proposal for another upcoming hackathon.” OhioDem1 writes—A Plan to rebuild Puerto Rico: “Puerto Rico and other storm-ravaged areas in the Caribbean and elsewhere are in great need of big plans, both for the purpose of putting their lives and infrastructure back together, and as a means to protect themselves from future hurricanes, which, due to Global Warming are likely to be both more frequent and far stronger because the warming increases both the temperature of tropical seas and oceans, but the depth of heating provides more energy available to power the storms, making them both more destructive with wind and water from rain and storm surge. The red lines on the map above is a BIG plan to rebuild Puerto Rico.  The red lines are a massive transportation backbone for the island territory of the United States, home to 3.2 million American Citizens, who are suffering because of recent Hurricane Maria and the woefully inadequate humanitarian response of the United States government, which of course is “led” by Donald J. Trump, whose job of play-acting a president is woefully less skillfully done then that by President Reagan two generations ago. So what do the red lines indicate?  Consider a quarter mile wide right-of-way for the installation of passenger and freight rail, highways, a new electrical distribution hub, complete with high reliability long line transmission, substations, and a network of higher elevation storm shelters, all within 10 to 20 miles of every resident of Puerto Rico.  Most of the network will be in the foothills of the mountain range, and well above where it can be damaged by a storm surge[...]



A Synopsis of the GOP Tax Plan from Hell (Updated)

Tue, 07 Nov 2017 13:07:00 +0000

Here is a short summary of the GOP Tax Plan, a plan designed to  - Transfer a massive amount of the nation’s wealth from the poor and middle class to the top 0.1% Balloon the deficit Penalize education, students, universities and families with children Reward the fossil fuel industry and punish the renewable energy sector Hurt residents of blue states New Tax Rates Compared to 2017 Rates Single Filers: Taxable Income 2017 Tax Rate GOP Tax Plan 0 - 9,325 10% 12% 9,325 - 37,950 15% 12% 37,950 - 45,000 25% 12% 45,000 - 91,900 25% 25% 91,900 - 191,650 28% 25% 191,650 - 200,000 33% 25% 200,000 - 416,700 33% 35% 416,700 - 418,400 35% 35% 418,400 - 500,000 39.6% 35% 500,000+ 39.6% 39.6% Married Filing Joint: Taxable Income 2017 Tax Rate GOP Tax Plan 0 - 18,650 10% 12% 18,650 - 75,900 15% 12% 75,900 - 90,000 25% 12% 90,000 - 153,100 25% 25% 153,100 - 233,350 28% 25% 233,350 - 260,000 33% 25% 260,000 - 416,700 33% 35% 416,700 - 470,700 35% 35% 470,700 - 1,000,00 39.6% 35% 1,000,000+ 39.6% 39.6% Note that some of the tax rate reductions are deceptive, since personal exemptions and a lot of deductions have been eliminated. Goodies for the Rich Estate tax — exemption doubled to $11M per individual ($22M for married couple); tax repealed after six years. Step-up cost basis for inherited assets — retained (no capital gains tax on appreciation of assets prior to death) Alternative Minimum Tax — repealed. Corporate tax rate lowered to 20%; lower 25% rate for pass-through entities (often small businesses that report taxes as individuals). Repatriated foreign profits of U.S. companies — one-time tax of 12% rate on cash and a 5% rate on illiquid investments. Write-offs of capital expenditures in one year instead of five. State and local income tax (SALT) deduction elimination does not apply to pass-through business owners and passive investors (confirmed by the Ways and Means committee spox). medium.com/... Carried interest loophole for hedge fund managers — retained. Long-term capital gains and qualified dividends - maximum tax rate retained at 20%. Few Scraps for the Middle Class  Standard deduction increased from $6,350 to $12,000 for individuals and $12,700 to $24,000 for married couples. Child Tax Credit expanded from $1,000 to $1,600; credit of $300 for each parent and non-child dependent. Not indexed to inflation. Family flexibility credit of $300 per person. But both the non-child dependent credit and the family-flexibility credit will be repealed after five years. A partial list of the deductions that will be eliminated or reduced Personal exemptions (currently $4,050 per person, this repeal neutralizes most of the benefit of the increased standard deduction) State and Local Income Taxes (SALT) Medical expenses Mortgage interest (interest on up to $500K loan amount will be deductible, excess amount over $500K will not) Property taxes (now limited to $10K) Classroom costs incurred by teachers ($250) Student loan interest Tuition waivers of graduate assistantships Lifetime Learning Credit, [...]



Surprise! At global warming confab next week in Bonn, Trump regime will push fossil fuels, nukes

Fri, 03 Nov 2017 16:35:36 +0000

You would think it would be better not to show up at all next week in Europe for the 195-nation climate-change conference rather than to come promoting the burning of fossil fuels. But that’s exactly what the Trump regime plans to do at the latest session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn, Germany:  

“It’s embarrassing,” said Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii, a Democrat. “After forfeiting international leadership on climate, the Trump White House is compounding their error with a silly stunt. Fossil fuel companies are not clean energy companies, and no amount of spin will change that.”

The “stunt” is a presentation on Nov. 13 titled “The Role of Cleaner and More Efficient Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Power in Climate Mitigation.” Featured will be speakers from Peabody Energy, previously Peabody Coal; NuScale Power, a nuclear engineering firm; and Tellurian, a liquefied natural gas exporter.

Even though the Environmental Protection Agency Chief Scott Pruitt, the Department of Energy Chief Rick Perry, and Trump himself reject the assessment of the vast majority of climate scientists that human activity is warming the planet, the U.S. message in Bonn isn’t likely to to include a flat-out denial of climate change or openly express the we-don’t-care attitude associated with Pr*@%!^#t Trump’s July trip to Europe. Unless Trump decides some Twitter jackassery is necessary.

These White House science deniers and many other paid and amateur “skeptics” of global warming keep altering the approach of their disinformation campaign. The line they appear to be ready to test in Germany is to concede that we must reduce the burning of fossil fuels but argue that we must accept these will still make up at least 40 percent of world energy use by 2050. Therefore, so their argument goes, we should stop treating them negatively and work to burn them efficiently and cleanly. 

Never mind that the fossil-fuel industry has for decades fought fang-and-claw against every environmental effort to make energy extraction and use more efficient and cleaner.




Rick Perry Explains How Fossil Fuels Prevent Sexual Assault

Thu, 02 Nov 2017 21:24:39 +0000

Energy Secretary Rick Perry was recently talking about the importance of fossil fuels and had some groundbreaking insight to share. When talking about saving lives by bringing power to African villages he noted [for real]: “But also from the standpoint of sexual assault. When the lights are on, when you have light that shines, the righteousness, if you will, on those types of acts.” — - [Here’s the satire part] We reached out to Secretary Perry to ask him to please give us some background on this comment. Here is the statement he released: “I don’t know why ladies are so worked up about this. Everyone knows that when the lights are out, stuff gets funky. In the dark -or as I like to call it, The D@rkk- ghosts are emboldened, mosquitoes exist and dogs dilate. And who needs that, right? Dogs can already be such a chore to care for, why would we want them to take up even more space? I mean, using fossil fuels is plain common sense. And you know what? Just in general, I resent being told that I don’t get lady-stuff. I get harassment, I feel you, girlies. As you may have noticed, I am 1/2 sentient muppet, from my father’s side. So as a member of a minority, not a day goes by without someone remarking on how words my sense don’t make. Or they tell me “ooooh, you don’t use LOGIC… wahhhh, you don’t STAND for anything”. Well, buddy, you’d have a hard time standing for anything if you were made of felt! It’s so hard that sometimes when I fall down I just lay there, collecting dust-bunnies for weeks at a time, in want of a generous human hand to pick me up and put me to some sort of use. Sigh. I guess what I’m trying to say is that streetlights need to be powered and we can’t rely on alternative energy sources for that. Do you want to entrust your safety to the WIND? To the SUN? What are you, a pagan freak? Tell you what, next time Antifa breaks into your house, call a druid, see how that works out for you. I bet it doesn’t go that well, is what I’m saying. In conclusion, we need fossil fuels to watch our back if we want to make the touchdown and win the big game. The state championship is coming in and nobody has time to mess with renewable energies. Expanding the use of fossil fuels will give Americans and the other half of the world the freedom to not get raped. And that’s that. Sincerely, Rickchard Perry Secretary of The Energy of Your United States” — If you enjoyed this you might like some of my other pieces. These seemed to be popular: Spicer Resigns To Spend More Time With Props, Job Prospects For The Mooch, Stephen Miller Inaugurates The Antiheroic Epic, Furniture Resigns From Trump’s Manufacturing Council Protecting White People from Affirmative Action Is Not Enough, 4 Other Places Where David Brooks’ Friend Got Uncomfortable, [...]



Dr. Conway's Climateside Chat, No. 2: A Cloudy Future for U.S. Solar?

Thu, 02 Nov 2017 20:25:53 +0000

Today’s column features special guest co-author Shannon Nichols, and is reposted as always from our Greenpower blog. Happy Reading. While the news is preoccupied by the many gaffes of the Trump administration, the trade petition threatening to unravel the US solar industry continues to develop. As a refresher, US-based solar manufacturer Suniva, Inc filed a petition with the US International Trade Commission (ITC) under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974, claiming that foreign imports of cheap crystalline silicon photovoltaic (CSPV) cells seriously hurt the domestic manufacturing industry. Section 201 allows for short-term blanket tariffs as industry relief in the case that imports are found to have hurt domestic industry. Interestingly, Suniva has found only two allies in their fight: SolarWorld Americas, the largest solar panel manufacturer in the US, and more recently, First Solar, a manufacturer of cadmium telluride thin-film cells. On Sept. 22, the ITC unanimously found that the CSPV imports had caused injury to the domestic industry. Now, the four commissioners on the ITC board have released three separate quota/tariff remedies that will be debated and consolidated into a single proposal that will be sent to President Trump later this month. The President has the final say to approve their remedies, reject them, or tweak them appropriately, although if his remedy is determined to be too different than the final ITC recommendation it will trigger a congressional review. This makes the ITC’s recommendation critically important in determining the remedy that is eventually put into place. So what are the ITC commissioners recommending? The three proposed remedies are similar in structure but range in severity. The middle-of-the-road proposal currently has the most support, being backed by commissioners Irving Williamson and David Johanson. They are requesting a four-year 30% tariff on CSPV imports quantities over 1 GW of capacity, with the tariff decreasing 5% annually and the 1 GW starting quota increasing by 0.2 GW annually. The most solar-friendly remedy comes from commissioner Meredith Broadbent, and would only impose a quota on CSPV imports without tariff. The primary quota would be initially set at 8.9 GW to increase by 1.4 GW annually over four years, with a separate quota of 0.72 GW for Mexico, set to increase 0.12 GW annually. These quotas would be distributed through the sale of import licenses worth more than $100 million, which commissioner Broadbent is recommending be used to support US CSPV manufacturers. The most severe proposal was put forth by chairman Rhonda Schmidtlein and calls for a four-year tariff of 35% (decreasing by 1% annually) on imports over a 0.5 GW quota that would increase by 0.1 GW per year. Unlike the other proposals, Schmidtlein’s remedy would also impose a 10% tariff (decreasing by 0.5% annually) on CSPV imports under the quota. As of yet, we do not know which if any of these proposals the ITC will submit to Trump, but it is notable that none of these three remedies align with requests from either the petitioning companies or the solar trade organization Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Suniva and SolarWorld asked for much higher tariffs (around 100% of the current price of solar cells), price floors, and import quotas that together could more than double the price of solar panel[...]



Rick Perry selling fossil fuel expansion: fossil fuels can help reduce sexual assaults

Thu, 02 Nov 2017 15:58:24 +0000

Not unlike his overlord Donald Trump, Rick Perry can sort of read (maybe?), and he can definitely watch the news on the television set. You know what’s been on the news lately? Allegations of the epidemic-level sexual assaults and harassment perpetrated by powerful men. Rick Perry is the Secretary of Energy in our country and he’s been traveling around trying to figure out ways to promote fossil fuel energy over the cleaner and more forward thinking renewables that most developed nations are moving towards. Hey, he’s from Texas! Politico explains that while in South Africa, Sec. Perry had this bit of important information to share on fossil fuel safety:

Perry, who traveled to South Africa last week to tout the Energy Department’s partnerships there, said he spoke with a young girl who wanted electricity so she could read without relying on the light of a fire “and have those fumes literally killing people. But also from the standpoint of sexual assault.”

“When the lights are on, when you have light that shines — the righteousness, if you will — on those types of acts,” he told an Axios event.

In Rick Perry’s defense, he was trying to argue that there are undeveloped areas of the world where the needs for energy could help save lives.* Of course, like most conservatives, the width of his vision about how to solve problems is restricted by how poorly he diagnoses them. The idea that the majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated in dark alleyways is not simply narrow view of the issue, it’s wrong. The world that Rick Perry is trying to create here consists of South Africans giving up their autonomy so that fossil fuel companies can penetrate the earth, regardless of what the people living on that earth want, and then lord their power over those people while deepening their leverage to do as they please. And when an entire country and continent begins to argue that they are being violated, those fossil fuel companies just respond by saying things like “you wanted it,” “you needed it,” what did you expect?”

*See Puerto Rico.




The Launch of Europe Beyond Coal

Thu, 02 Nov 2017 15:18:22 +0000

  I just arrived in Germany for something remarkable - today’s launch of Europe Beyond Coal, a coalition of groups from across Europe who have been working to move their countries beyond coal to clean energy. It’s a sister effort to our US Beyond Coal Campaign, and these groups are joining forces to take their work to the next level. We’ll be meeting and strategizing together this week, and then traveling to Bonn for the next round of international climate negotiations, where tensions will be high thanks to Trump’s plan to exit the Paris climate agreement -- and where our shared work to move beyond coal will be a critical engine to meet our Paris goals despite Trump. I’ve worked to tackle coal pollution for 15 years, so for me, being part of the launch of the Beyond Coal Campaign in Europe is surreal, humbling, and profoundly inspiring. The fact is, clean air and a safe climate are essential for all of us. Because pollution doesn’t respect borders, neither do the all-too-real health consequences burning dirty coal creates around the world. With news this week that carbon pollution levels are rising rapidly in the atmosphere, we’re in a race against time to bring those emissions down -- and coal plants are the single biggest source of climate pollution. That’s why today, Europe Beyond Coal is launching as a joint effort urging 28 European countries to dramatically accelerate their transition away from coal and toward clean, renewable energy. With the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Finland, France, Italy and Portugal committing to closing their remaining coal plants in the coming decade, Europe Beyond Coal is committed to making this transition to a healthier world as swift as possible. We are so excited to see that the movement to take the world Beyond Coal is growing. So much great work has happened already in Europe ,and this new coalition will build on that success and accelerate its progress and ambition -- with a clear-eyed goal to ensure a coal-free Europe no later than 2030, a goal that lines up with our aim of a coal free US power grid by 2030. We have roughly the same amount of coal remaining online in the US and in Europe, and if we meet our goals on both continents, we’ll have a fighting chance of tackling the climate crisis.   For more information: beyond-coal.eu Coal’s health effects in the U.S. aren’t different from those in Europe. An air pollution-induced asthma attack in the US is the same as one overseas. Coal ash in American rivers and streams is just as poisonous as coal ash in Europe’s waterways. And coal’s carbon pollution is dramatic no matter what country is comes from. Coal is deadly everywhere: Its pollution estimated to have caused 19,500 premature deaths across Europe in 2015 alone and 13,200 deaths in the US in 2009. The tide is turning. In the US , the work of the Beyond Coal Campaign and more than 100 allied groups have helped secure commitments to retire more than half of US coal plants. We are continuing that progress despite Trump’s empty promises to bring back the coal industry. In fact, coal retirements are continuing at the same pace in the Trump years as they did during the Obama Administration. Each year, these efforts save more than 7,000 lives. In Europe, too, people power is making the difference. With the Netherl[...]



Mark Z. Jacobson sues the scientists who debunked him

Wed, 01 Nov 2017 22:14:22 +0000

off The Deep end If you’ve ever heard anyone tell you that 100% renewable energy is possible and feasible, it’s almost certain that she or he got that idea from Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor at Stanford University who has been flogging it for years. Jacobson has been a tireless promoter of the meme that first the US, and then the entire world, could be easily and cheaply powered by what he calls “WWS” — wind, water, and solar power. And Jacobson has also been a tireless promoter of himself, too. He has a slick website with slick graphics. He goes on talk shows. He’s been a darling of the media. Or he was until this past June, when a distinguished group of environmental scientists pointed out a major flaw (and a raft of minor ones) in his most recent paper on the subject. I should note that these debunkers include some of the top names in the field, led by Christopher Clack, and including climatologist Ken Caldiera and energy scientist Dan Kammen. Jacobson’s response was to immediately go on the attack, branding the Clack paper “intentionally scientifically fraudulent with falsified data”. Let me pause here and say that kind of language is really, really unusual in the scientific community. Generally you only hear that kind of rhetoric from hard core climate deniers, creationists, and other off-the-deep-end types.  Today, Jacobson can be officially classified as off the deep end. In a federal lawsuit filed in DC district court, Jacobson has sued Clack and his co-authors, and also the journal that published both of them — the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, or PNAS — for defamation of character, to the tune of $10 million. It is hard to overstate how totally bonkers this lawsuit is. Beyond the obvious — Jacobson calls other people “scientifically fraudulent” and then sues them for defaming his character? — is the simple fact that scientific truth and credibility are not, and cannot be, decided in a court of law. In science, ideas are accepted or rejected on their own merits, and any process that undermines that merit-based approach — including a legal process — won’t change the mind of any principled scientist. “Don’t say I’m wrong or I’ll sue you” is precisely the opposite of the scientific method. If anyone is responsible for trashing Jacobson’s reputation as a scientist it is Jacobson himself, and this lawsuit clinches it. background 1. The original paper by Jacobson et al. was published in PNAS in December 2015 and can be found here. and its supporting information is here. The centerpiece of Jacobson’s paper is a model of the US energy system: it shows how much power is produced by various sources at various times, and balances that against the total US energy demand at those same times.  2. The critique by Clack et al. was published in June 2017, also in PNAS, and can be found here, with supporting information here. The major flaw pointed out by Clack is that while Jacobson’s paper says that the hydroelectric generating capacity in the US is 87.5 GW — about 10% above where it is today — the actual amount generated by hydroelectric power in Jacobson’s model at times exceeded that by almost fifteen times: a whopping 1300 GW. (The total capacity of all generators in the US t[...]



MIT Energy Hackathon Challenge: Rebuilding Energy Infrastructure in the Caribbean After the Hurrica

Sun, 29 Oct 2017 23:06:13 +0000

The content committee for the MIT Energy Hackathon, November 3-5, (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mit-energy-hackathon-2017-tickets-36806884382) has accepted my challenge.  This could be a great opportunity for all those interested in moving from disaster capitalism to disaster resilience through renewables. Here is the challenge proposal I submitted: Challenge:  How do we rebuild the energy systems of Puerto Rico, the American and British Virgin Islands, and the other countries and islands whose infrastructures have been destroyed by this season’s hurricanes so they are subject to less damage the next time a hurricane or other natural disaster comes? This challenge has to think along a variety of different scales and situations.  The island of Barbuda experienced 95% destruction of their infrastructure for their population, around 1800.  The United States Virgin Islands of St Croix, St Thomas, and St John also experienced wide-spread devastation for their population of about 106,000 people.  Puerto Rico with a population of around 3.5 million is in a similar situation compounded by their existing economic debt crisis. Is it useful to think from the individual on up, from small community microgrids that have the ability to stand-alone as well as connect to a larger grid, to start from the existing grid on down, repairing what already existed and changing as little as possible?  What are the options, what are the possibilities, what are we missing as we go about this task which means the survival of many? Background:   Solar Electric Light Fund is helping to distribute solar lights and chargers for Puerto Rico (https://www.generosity.com/emergencies-fundraising/solar-light-and-communications-for-puerto-rico--2).  This is an individual person or family solution.  Can it be integrated into a kind of local microgrid which might also include bicycle chargers for AA, motorcycle, and car batteries? Sunnyside Solar of Brattleboro, VT, a long-time solar installer, is fund-raising for community-scale solar electricity and water supply https://www.gofundme.com/ngwbw-solar-generators-for-puerto-rico The Coastal Marine Resource Center through Resilient Power PR is building mobile solar relief hubs, based upon their experience in NY’s Rockaways after Hurricane Sandy, as phase one of a project that they plan to develop for 100 mobile solar hubs so that each of the 78 communities in Puerto Rico will have at least one solar relief hub available, leading to solar for every home in Puerto Rico http://resilientpowerpr.org/resilientpr/ Tesla (and other renewable energy companies) are helping to restore power and services https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/talkingtech/2017/10/26/tesla-delivers-solar-power-puerto-rico-hospital/802216001/ https://cleantechnica.com/2017/10/25/tesla-sonnen-working-overtime-power-puerto-rico/ https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/10/2/1703392/-Germany-steps-up-to-help-rebuild-power-grid-in-Puerto-Rico-s-emergency-relief-centers https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/the-solar-industry-wants-to-help-puerto-rico Experts are rethinking hurricane disaster response and infrastructure rebuilding, given the technologies now available and their relative costs compared to older energy infrastructure: https://www.li[...]



Wanted: fierce climate hawks running for office

Sun, 29 Oct 2017 17:43:49 +0000

At Climate Hawks Vote, we’re kicking off our 2018 campaign in earnest. We’ve sent survey emails to Climate Hawks Vote members in selected House districts and to the entire state of California, and we’ll do a bit more as retirements are announced, state/local 2017 races end, and the field of candidates settles down. We started off with a list of 98 House races - Red-To-Blue, retirements, deep blue seats where the primary is the de facto general election, interesting races, and intriguing people. From that original list of 98 races, we’ve narrowed it down to eight in a top tier, and an additional 22 in a second tier. And now we’re listening to grassroots activists in districts. Kevin DeLeon signs the pledge not to take oil money Simply put, we’re looking for viable candidates who make climate action a top priority. We don’t have questionnaires or litmus tests - but it sure helps if a candidate signs the pledge not to take fossil fuel money! We do look at viability, because we don’t build political power for the climate movement by supporting unelectable candidates — and I’m a frequent lurker/occasional commenter on the DailyKos Elections digests. I want a Congress that reflects the diversity of America. But a candidate’s commitment to climate action is the top criterion for a Climate Hawks Vote endorsement. I’m pleased to note that 2018 Democratic candidates are more willing to talk about the need for climate action than 2016 and 2014 candidates were (but less pleased to note that many of them settle for stating that “climate change is real” without elaboration). This year has been more complicated, in a mostly good way, than 2016. The huge wave of Democratic enthusiasm is translating into a lot more candidates running for Congress in contested primaries than in prior years. Primary endorsements can be divisive, so some groups will not endorse until the general election. We’re different — we believe that we find the fiercest climate hawk by getting involved in the primary. But we’re also a grassroots organization, which means that we want to hear from people in the district - the people who go to the debates and the coffee meet-and-greets and get a chance to get up close and personal with the candidates. So we’re making more of an effort to get involved early.  Some of the races where we’re doing survey work — and if you live in any of these districts, please vote in our survey! -- CA39: Red to Blue seat, crowded primary. Vote here! -- CO02: deep blue seat with some real climate hawks. Vote here! -- CO06: Red to Blue seat with one DCCC-favored frontrunner and another candidate with impeccable climate credentials. Vote here! -- FL27: Red to Blue seat, everyone says they care about sea level rise in Miami, very crowded primary. Vote here for the candidate who will do more than pay lip service to climate. -- IL06: Red to Blue seat, crowded primary, several candidates with climate credentials and others not so much. Vote here! -- NE02: Red to Blue seat, pro-Keystone XL conservaDem ex-Representative trying to get his job back vs progressive anti-KXL children's advocate. Vote here! -- TX06, uphill Red to Blue (Smokey Joe Barton), crowded primary. Vote here![...]



Italy says it will be coal free by 2025 as the death march for coal continues around the world

Fri, 27 Oct 2017 20:45:36 +0000

The world understands that we must all move away from coal sooner than later. While Trump and the Koch brothers are trying to put coal dinosaurs in charge of our environmental agencies, countries like China are building out their renewable energy infrastructure and closing down coal production. Major cities like Paris are expediting regulations on diesel vehicles in their city and the Wall Street Journal is doing its best impression of Das Reich trying to pretend there’s a meaningful economic upside in our current administration’s attempts to turn back the hands of time. When you produce coal, one of the big ways of making money on that coal is having places to sell that coal. The list of places where the coal industry will be able to sell their wares just narrowed once again by the measurement of a country—Italy. On Tuesday, Italy’s economic development minister said the country will commit to phasing out coal in its energy mix, ending all use by 2025 according to Argus Media. According to Arstechnica, this is no small promise compared with England, France and Canada’s similar pledges. Italy's pledge falls somewhere in between these pledges. The country has a handful of coal-fired plants totaling 8GW of capacity, which account for 15 percent of its electricity generation, according to Argus. But the closure of those plants may have more impact on coal exporters than on Italy's economy. Enel, a major power producer in the country, has experience installing renewable energy plants around the world (including many renewable projects in the US). Assocarboni, the General Association of Coal Operators in Italy, notes that there’s only one coal mine in Italy. About 90 percent of Italy’s coal demand is met by imports shipped from overseas. Those exporting to Italy include Russia, Australia, the US, and South Africa. Trump’s base must be having economic anxiety fatigue with all of this winning. [...]



A Fishy Contract for Puerto Rico

Fri, 27 Oct 2017 12:26:54 +0000

Here is an update on Whitefish Energy, the “Two men with Connections” energy company from Montana, that won a $300M contract to repair power lines in Puerto Rico’s. The contract papers were leaked yesterday and are available for all to read at www.documentcloud.org/... Here is what we know so far about the contract — Shockingly high labor and material rates - xWhitefish Energy relies on subcontractors. Their rates are raising questions. Per CBS: $462 per hour for a supervisor, $319 for a lineman. pic.twitter.com/r1lYg53lh3— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 26, 2017 x$332.41 per person for accommodations *each day*$79.82 per person for food *each day* pic.twitter.com/jX51fRDZWf— Ken Klippenstein (@kenklippenstein) October 27, 2017 No cost review or audit allowed, even though most of the contract is based on time and material - xWhitefish contract states, "In no event shall [government bodies] have the right to audit or review the cost and profit elements." Wow. pic.twitter.com/dIyQXb6AK0— Ken Klippenstein (@kenklippenstein) October 27, 2017 No penalties for delays. Effectively, no penalties for non-completion of work - xIncredible: Whitefish contract states Puerto Rican govt "waives any claim against Contractor related to delayed completion of work." pic.twitter.com/k4wWxrLFq2— Ken Klippenstein (@kenklippenstein) October 27, 2017 FEMA Misrepresentation assets.documentcloud.org/... FEMA says it did not review or approve the contract. Someone is being untruthful. xFEMA says it "has significant concerns" with the PREPA-Whitefish Energy contract for power restoration in Puerto Rico. pic.twitter.com/RGJWatQ8Hq— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) October 27, 2017 Payment Terms Although, there have been statement from PREPA that the financial terms of Whitefish were attractive since it required no up front costs, they paid $3.7 million to Whitefish Energy up-front for mobilization of personnel and equipment. Also, Whitefish is required to deliver weekly invoices and get paid within 10 calendar (not business) days. Late payment interest = 1% per month. That does not sound like some attractive deferred payment plan. Creatures of the Dark. PREPA CEO Ramos says PREPA received bids from a few companies in the lull between Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. The utility, which filed for bankruptcy in July, shortlisted two, including Whitefish. www.npr.org/... Ramos has said that “Just before Hurricane Maria came, one of those two requested a payment guarantee that we thought was a bit onerous, so we decided to mobilize Whitefish". PREPA never asked for mutual aid from the American Public Power Association, and instead it hired Whitefish to handle the job. www.npr.org/... Ramos told E&E News that his bankrupt utility did not reach out to munis on the continental U.S. because he was unsure it could pay them back for assistance. www.utilitydive.com/… "Just a matter of the timing," says Ramos. "Hurricane came, all communications went down, our servers were down." PREPA has a bad reputation in PR - Hiring a company like Whitefish, which relies on subcontractor[...]



Dr. Conway's Climateside Chat, No. 1: Something's Fishy

Thu, 26 Oct 2017 18:08:31 +0000

Good day, Kossacks. Where here used to dwell a list, Dr. Conway has decided to do a deeper dive each week into a topic of particular concern to him. We hope you’ll share his ire about this one. With that, we present the inaugural edition of Dr. Conway’s Climateside Chat (cross-posted from our Greenpower Blog): When I read that a tiny Montana-based utility infrastructure company with little experience and deep ties to the Trump administration had been awarded Puerto Rico’s largest grid rebuilding contract to date without bidding, I thought it smelled worse than low tide after a storm. Was this the story of a plucky small-town business that happened to be in the right place at the right time, or was it one of the more heinous examples of cronyism from the most unabashedly nepotistic administration in modern American history? I try to keep an open mind, but even a casual examination of the Trump administration’s track record seems to push the balance of probability heavily toward the latter. As you can read in the articles linked below, Whitefish Energy Holdings, LLC is a small infrastructure construction company that was recently given a $300 million contract to help rebuild Puerto Rico’s hurricane-devastated electric grid. Despite many shortcomings—including only employing a handful of people, being in operation for less than two years, and having no previous contracts bigger than $1.3 million—they were given the contract without bid or public consideration of other companies. With Whitefish’s (very limited) experience repairing power lines in mountainous areas being the only qualification they have for this monumental task, it should sadly come as no surprise that CEO Andy Techmanski has a personal relationship with a high-ranking Trump official, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Both Techmanski and Zinke deny their relationship had anything to do with Whitefish’s hiring, but my belief in their honesty is yet another unfortunate victim of Trump’s post-truth society. If it looks like a dead, rotting fish and smells like a dead, rotting fish it will take some powerful evidence to convince me that it's not. So let’s ignore the fishmongers for now and look at the facts: 1. Whitefish did not go through a normal bidding process for the contract. Puerto Rico’s grid operator, Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), claims they did not put out requests for proposals to other companies because they did not have the funds, but agreed to pay Whitefish employees and contractors hundreds of dollars per hour. Techmanski told CNN that the deal was made over the phone with PREPA based on Whitefish’s experience working in mountainous areas. Normally, the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA oversee contracts such as these during emergency response, but both claim that PREPA made the award without consulting them. 2. Whitefish is not the most qualified, cheapest, or timeliest option. Whitefish verified they had two employees before Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, and they have been in operation for less than two years. This makes them objectively less qualified than other more experienced grid construction compan[...]



Tesla steps in with top-notch solar grid to get Puerto Rico children’s hospital back in business

Thu, 26 Oct 2017 16:28:34 +0000

Puerto Rico is getting help from people in Germany and companies like Tesla, in the rebuilding of their infrastructure. The top priority on the island is getting their emergency infrastructures up and running. High on that list are places like the Hospital del Nino in the capital of San Juan. A children's hospital in Puerto Rico that was forced to run off generators and ration diesel fuel in the wake of Hurricane Maria now has a solar power system that will supply all of its electricity needs. Tesla and Puerto Rico's governor touted the project yesterday, sending out multiple official tweets and Facebook posts, and officials said today that the system is already providing solar-generated electricity to the hospital. You can see the solar project in a series of photos Tesla sent out on social media. xHospital del Niño is first of many solar+storage projects going live. Grateful to support the recovery of Puerto Rico with @ricardorossello pic.twitter.com/JfAu11UBYg— Tesla (@Tesla) October 24, 2017 The Los Angeles Times has a breakdown of how quickly this came together, starting with a social media conversation between Gov. Ricardo Rossello and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Campaign Action Rossello and Musk began public discussions on Oct. 6, when the governor tweeted at the entrepreneur and suggested that Puerto Rico could be a “flagship project” to “show the world the power and scalability” of Tesla’s technologies. Musk responded that day, saying he would be “happy to talk” and that he hoped Tesla could be helpful. On Tuesday — less than three weeks after their social media rapport began — Tesla tweeted that the project was “going live.” So while Trump and his crew of wealthy wanna-be oligarchs sat around trying to figure out how best to divide of the money pie in Puerto Rico, the rest of humanity tries to help the humans living in Puerto Rico. [...]



Here are the 6 cities in the U.S. running on 100 percent renewable electricity

Thu, 26 Oct 2017 15:57:42 +0000

According to the Sierra Club there are 46 cities, four counties, and one state that have committed to evolving their energy generation into 100 percent renewable forms. This is a part of the Sierra Club’s “Ready for 100 Campaign.” And this is good news, even though we would all feel a lot better if there were 50 states committed. However, there are five places in the United States that have already met the 100 percent goal:

Rock Port, Missouri: Became the first town in the US to reach 100 percent renewable energy goals in 2008.

Rock Port’s 100% wind power status is due to four wind turbines located on agricultural lands within the city limits of Rock Port (Atchison County). The city of Rock Port uses approximately 13 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year. It is predicted that these four turbines will produce 16 million kilowatt hours each year.

Excess wind generated electricity not used by Rock Port homes and businesses is expected to be move onto the transmission lines to be purchased by the Missouri Joint Municipal Utilities for use in other areas.

Greensburg, Kansas: After the town of Greensburg was hit by a catastrophic tornado event in May of 2007, the denizens of Greensburg rallied to rebuild their small farming community, as a community of the future. And by 2009 they had succeeded.




Abbreviated News Roundup - Wet Kisses, Fishy Contracts and Uncivil Wars

Thu, 26 Oct 2017 19:13:22 +0000

Here is a quick partial abbreviated twitter-heavy summary of recent news - Giant Wet Kiss to Wall Street - xWatch @VP Pence & the @SenateGOP give a giant wet kiss to Wall Street late last night while they thought you weren’t looking. pic.twitter.com/RomlEjGl81— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) October 25, 2017 Uncivil War. xSteve Bannon's war on the Republican establishment is creating divisions among the GOP's most powerful donors. https://t.co/h8iTCZEUIu— The Associated Press (@AP) October 25, 2017 True Colors — x1) This is going to be good. McConnell is going to tie Bannon to white supremacists.  https://t.co/huqn5ikw7k— John SCAREavosis (@aravosis) October 26, 2017 Growing divide between Republicans and Democrats. Lots of additional interesting polling data at www.people-press.org/... www.people-press.org/... Negative feedback loop - xUpsetting to see this from @pewresearch. For all its faults (real & imagined), to say higher education negatively impacts USA? Dangerous to let political divisions transform one of our global advantages into domestic liability pic.twitter.com/Qt28mQ1sxf— Samantha Power (@SamanthaJPower) October 25, 2017 Yet Another GOP/Trump Scam - xTax breaks for companies repatriating foreign earnings are a scam—the money is already in the US, funding investment https://t.co/4ckM3rB2mW— Justin Wolfers (@JustinWolfers) October 25, 2017 Fishy Contract After a day of back and forth between PR and Whitefish, the “Two Guys with Connections” Energy company, who got a $300M contract to repair power lines in PR, Whitefish threatened to pull out from PR after Mayor Cruz demanded more transparency, after which the mayor called for the contract to be voided. thehill.com/. The governor of Puerto Rico requested an audit. thehill.com/… Finally, Whitefish went into damage control mode and issued an apology. Number of good diaries on the subject here at DK — www.dailykos.com/…, www.dailykos.com/... xWe’ve got 44 linemen rebuilding power lines in your city & 40 more men just arrived. Do you want us to send them back or keep working?— Whitefish Energy (@WhitefishEnergy) October 25, 2017 Sassy Mayor! xAgain too good not to tweet! pic.twitter.com/xCUtau4gcJ— Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) October 26, 2017 The Makers xSmall teams of #ProjectLoon balloons are being launched from Nevada to deliver emergency connectivity to Puerto Rico. pic.twitter.com/z0jdyaDud9— The Team at X (@Theteamatx) October 20, 2017 American Exceptionalism xBrown University offers free tuition to students from University of Puerto Rico https://t.co/yHiyhOQ6Vc pic.twitter.com/sIcRPideeg— The Hill (@thehill) October 26, 2017 Presidential Insecurity — xTrump at WH departure: "I think the press makes me more uncivil than I am..I went to an Ivy League college.. I'm a very intelligent person."— Jacqueline Alemany (@JaxAlemany) October 25, 2017 xTrump LIED. Agai[...]



Puerto Rico Infrastructure Rebuilding - with Solar Power and Balloons! (Updated)

Wed, 25 Oct 2017 23:35:11 +0000

With Puerto Rico’s power grid and telecommunications network completely knocked off by hurricane Maria, government and private organizations have been busy deploying short-term solutions to get the island back on its feet and planning for long-term solutions such as replacing it’s aging, expensive, fossil-fuel-powered power grid with a modern system optimized for a tropical island like Puerto Rico. Trump administration not withstanding. Here is a partial list of efforts around the island to rebuild its infrastructure. Electricity and Tesla Tesla, a company with 33,000 employees, $7B in revenues and a pioneer in auto, space, solar energy and battery technologies, with a track record of solar system installations powering entire islands is going to Puerto Rico with real solutions, donations, small pilot projects, with visions of modernizing the entire electrical grid using solar energy. xHospital del Niño is first of many solar+storage projects going live. Grateful to support the recovery of Puerto Rico with @ricardorossello pic.twitter.com/JfAu11UBYg— Tesla (@Tesla) October 24, 2017 The facility installed at Hospital del Niño will provide power, with a combination of solar cells and Tesla’s Powerpack commercial energy storage batteries. techcrunch.com/… Tesla solar farm being installed at Hospital del Niño in Puerto Rico. Credit: Tesla Tesla has also been shipping its home Powerwall battery storage units to the island, and Musk has made a personal donation of $250K to support relief efforts.  See earlier diary www.dailykos.com/… on the state of Puerto Rico's crippled power generation systems and distribution grid and some proposed long-term solutions using economical green energy and hurricane resistant designs. x x YouTube Video Telecommunications and Google Alphabet, Google’s parent company, with over 75,000 employees and $90B in annual revenues, has already deployed two balloon based telecommunications systems (floating cellular base stations), with more on the way, to provide wireless voice and Internet services to Puerto Rico. arstechnica.com/... Alastair Westgarth, head of Project Loon, writes —   “Working with AT&T, Project Loon is now supporting basic communication and internet activities like sending text messages and accessing information online for some people with LTE enabled phones. This is the first time we have used our new machine learning powered algorithms to keep balloons clustered over Puerto Rico, so we’re still learning how best to do this. ” With some nifty software and real-time weather updates, the balloons can find and sail on wind currents, travel around the world and hover over a small area. Air is pumped in and out to change altitude and find the right currents. xSmall teams of #ProjectLoon balloons are being launched from Nevada to deliver emergency connectivity to Puerto Rico. pic.twitter.com/z0jdyaDud9— The Team at X (@Theteamatx) October 20, 2017 x x YouTube Video Here is a video on the tec[...]



It's still #TrumpRussia, even if GOP on Intel Committee want to talk HRC uranium... because Niger!

Tue, 24 Oct 2017 21:45:36 +0000

Consigliere Michael Cohen tells nothing to House Intel committee ... who says? Closed session was described as contentious … whodathought Trump’s personal lawyer would be uncooperative? xGOP and Trump have one rule: when all else fails, investigate a Clinton. A coordinated distraction from the Russian role in our election. https://t.co/EmrsCtAx1k— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) October 24, 2017 xNEW: House Intel chair Devin Nunes announces "inquiry into Russia's involvement" in uranium deal from several years ago. pic.twitter.com/kis2wlzLRR— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) October 24, 2017 And what’s the obsession with Clinton and supposed uranium sales to Russia for the House intel committee…. because no one needs to be reminded of US military deaths in Niger…. except… if Nunes and the GOP follow the ridiculous claim they actually get back to Russian resource interests, in which Trump and his crowd have also had a hand — ZOMG. Shades of strategic interests also related to the GWOT in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Iran... xNiger (in Africa) has 2 uranium mines—supply 75% of worlds’ mining output.  Now u tell me abt why we’re there. And how deep 45 is in this. https://t.co/29h2neav3D— Ziva 🔥 (@LilithsCave) October 22, 2017 xAt the UN, 45 met with African leaders & said his friends were making a lot of money in Africa, also implied Africa was a hot investiment— Addison James (@Addi_James) October 22, 2017 xWhy Niger? Because RU bank funds Iran’s nukes and need uranium. Since 2011: https://t.co/98ugEVJVAI— Jeni (@jenijenicat) October 19, 2017 Here are five deeply disturbing events that congressional investigators will surely press Michael Cohen on in their meetings: 1. October 28, 2015: Michael Cohen had Donald Trump, already a presidential candidate, sign a Letter of Intent to build Trump Tower Moscow with Moscow-based developer I.C. Expert Investment Co. 2. November 3, 2015: Michael Cohen received an email from Trump aide and Russian mobster Felix Sater saying of Donald Trump “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,. I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.” 3. January 2016: Michael Cohen emailed Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov asking for help to advance the Trump Tower Moscow Project. 4. June 2016: Michael Cohen, while serving as a top Trump campaign surrogate, was invited by Felix Sater i to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum and was promised introductions to top Russian government officials. 5. January 27, 2017: Michael Cohen, Felix Sater, and Ukrainian politician Andrii Artemenko wrote a plan to resolve the Russia-Ukraine conflict and lift US sanctions on Russia which Cohen reportedly delivered to then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Donald Trump’s first official call to Vladimir Putin as President took place the next day.[...]



This Week in the Environment 10.19.17: Earth Wars

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 17:37:24 +0000

Note to our (few) loyal readers: As it seems this blog hasn’t really caught on in a way that we’d hoped, we’ll be changing up the format starting next week in hopes that Dr. Jon Conway’s informed and important thoughts reach more willing ears. Stay tuned for that, but for now, please enjoy the final installation of This Week in the Environment (cross-posted as always from our blog). Cheers. One thing that has always puzzled me about the people—nearly all white men—who have chosen to damn the world to serve their greed is that they all know that climate change is real and that humans (mostly them) are to blame. They understand the reality of the situation and choose to make it worse. Do they really expect us to stop fighting them? Do they expect us to lie down and let them build their pipelines and coal plants over our bones, to let this beautiful planet rot and die? Don’t they know we fight for so much more than them? They lie, cheat, and steal to get a new yacht, a bigger house, a fancier car; we fight for our lives, our children’s lives, our grandchildren’s lives. We fight for the future of the human species. They have played a clever game—dividing opposition, sowing confusion and doubt—so that they can squeeze the last dirty drops of profit from the home we all share. But what they seem not to realize is that as long as even one of us remains with a conscience and a sense of purpose beyond kleptomania, we’ll keep fighting them. Don’t they understand they are going to lose? —Jon Conway, Ph.D., Greenpower Research Director 5. Republican Mayor Transforms California City Into ‘The Solar Capital of the Universe’ ThinkProgress Lancaster Choice Energy was one of the first Community Choice Energy programs in California, and the first in the state established to serve a single city. Now it’s well on its way to becoming one of the epicenters for solar on the West Coast—all thanks to a Republican. Really, it shouldn’t be as surprising as it is that a pro-business mayor supports renewable energy; solar is just good business. Despite only receiving a fraction of the state and federal subsidies enjoyed by fossil fuels, wind and solar are already more than competitive on the energy market and are some of the biggest job creators in the country. When you remove the toxic and, frankly, insane allegiance to fossil fuels, there is no reason why dirty fuels should be prioritized over better sources of energy. "I think Lancaster is a fantastic story about clean energy and job creation, and it’s a great American story about reinventing. The Republican mayor has reinvented Lancaster as a clean energy capital."JEFF TANNENBAUM, SPOWER CHAIR 4. Shell Acquires NewMotion EV Charging Network Gas2 When one of the biggest oil companies in history begins the transition to support electric vehicles, it’s time to sit up and pay attention. Shell seems to be reading the writing on the wall: the future is electric. Just like the horse and buggy was [...]



Trump's desperate bid to save coal: Raze some regulations, impose others, reward donors

Wed, 25 Oct 2017 19:19:41 +0000

Republicans often claim to be champions of the free market, ready to fight the distorting power of regulation and eager to shake the invisible hand. But when it comes to energy, the Trump White House is taking an approach that actively alters the market explicitly to generate the outcome it wants. It’s choosing winners and losers in the most deliberate way possible, by selectively removing or weakening some regulations and imposing sweeping new constraints that aren't needed to protect either the environment or the infrastructure. As a result Trump’s team is warping the energy market in a way that hurts everyone, especially the people they're claiming to protect.

On one side of the market, Trump is removing environmental rules with no consideration for their effect on the health of individuals and communities. This includes not just rules that were meant to guard against climate change, but regulations that guard water quality and the integrity of rivers. 

On the other side, Trump is adding sweeping new regulations that severely restrict the options for energy producers. Under a pretext of “reliability,” producers are being forced to accept rules requiring them to spend more, and charge customers more, in response to a nonexistent crisis.  

All of this is being done not because it will improve the electrical grid, or even because it will have a serious long-term effect on the shape of the market. Instead it represents a major disruption for purely political purposes—a change that risks thousands of jobs, the health of millions, and even the future of the planet, all in hopes of making one, just one, of Trump's campaign promises come true. 




Major Milestone: America is Halfway to Moving Beyond Coal

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 18:01:26 +0000

This column was co-written by Bruce Nilles, senior director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal campaign. We have big news to close out a remarkable week of highs (Michael Bloomberg re-investing in the Beyond Coal campaign) and lows (Scott Pruitt’s announcement of a Clean Power Plan repeal): half the coal plants in the US are now announced to retire. Today, Luminant Energy announced it will close two of the nation’s largest and dirtiest coal plants in Central Texas, Big Brown and Sandow. That brings the nation to a major milestone - more than half of the coal plants in America have now retired or committed to retire since 2010. With today’s announcement, 262 coal plants have either retired or announced that they will retire, with 261 plants still remaining. Despite a federal administration tripping over itself to pander to a small handful of executives and Wall Street firms that gambled on coal, clean energy like wind and solar is rapidly replacing costly, polluting coal plants across the country as America transitions to a clean energy economy.   These plants are the 13th and 14th coal plants to announce retirement in 2017. As Michael Bloomberg and the Sierra Club’s Michael Brune noted at our press conference on Wednesday, coal plants are retiring during Trump’s administration at the same pace as they were during the Obama administration. Coal is not coming back, which is why we as a nation need to prioritize and support diversifying the economy in coal communities, to provide good twenty-first century jobs in those places that can sustain families and the generations. This watershed moment in clean air and water advocacy across the country is also a milestone for public health. The two plants being announced for retirement today are some of the most polluting in the country - for example, Big Brown is one of the nation’s top five mercury polluters. Nationwide, since 2010, coal retirements secured by the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign and over a hundred allied organizations have prevented  7,029 premature deaths, 10,906 heart attacks and 116,043 asthma attacks every year. This is also an affirmation to the rest of the world that the US will continue to do its part to cut carbon pollution and prevent the worst impacts of climate change. For the past decade, the US has led the world in reducing carbon pollution, primarily by replacing coal plants with clean energy. With today’s announcement we are letting the world know that they should ignore the hot air out of Washington and look at what is actually happening in cities and states across this great country. As storms and fires worsened by climate change relentlessly besiege our country, continuing this progress is more important than ever. We could not have reached this milestone without thousands upon thousands of amazing grassroots activists and organizers nationwide. They continue to boldly act for cleaner air and water, coal industry worker tra[...]



This Week in the Environment 10.12.17: Winners and Losers

Thu, 12 Oct 2017 19:09:06 +0000

What is the role of government in regulating markets? To those who understand the flaws of the modern capitalist adage “privatize profits, externalize costs,” governments have a clear duty to intervene in markets if they intend to maintain a healthy and prosperous citizenry. Businesses and corporations have shown again and again that they are more than willing to pass on as many costs to the public as they can get away with, from slavery in the Antebellum South to the modern-day greenhouse gas pollution that drives climate change. From this historical perspective, it would be difficult to argue that unbiased, carefully crafted regulations are not essential to an equitable and sustainable society. However, capitalists realized early on that the best investments they could make were in politics. I personally view the current presidential administration, staffed by woefully unqualified businessmen and lobbyists hell-bent on aiding their industries at the cost of the world, as the culmination of this effort, along with centuries’ worth of carefully cultivated racism, xenophobia, greed, and apathy for the planet. This hostile takeover has resulted in a federal government that is no longer interested in preserving the health and prosperity of its people, and is instead picking winners that make nearly all of us losers. —Jon Conway, Ph.D., Greenpower Research Director 5. FERC Commissioners and Staff Question DOE’s Push for Cost Recovery for Coal and Nuclear Greentech Media Department of Energy Secretary and climate change denier Rick Perry recently called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to boost the failing US nuclear and coal industries, in defiance of the conclusions from a grid reliability study Perry himself commissioned. Perry justified his request with the claim that “there is no free market in the energy industry,” which, to some extent, is true. But why should dirty, unreliable, uneconomical, and corrupt industries like coal and nuclear be prioritized over better energy sources? How can Perry rationalize dumping billions of taxpayer dollars into such noncompetitive and unsustainable power plants when his own agency’s study found no evidence suggesting that was a good idea? It’s almost as if his decision to fund dirty energy industries was arrived at before the study was complete. "[Puerto Rico’s] grid went down completely and won’t be back for months, because it was essentially destroyed. Fuel on-hand won’t do a damn thing to help, except for large buildings with backup diesel generators. Rooftop solar and batteries, on the other hand, would have allowed communities to recover and retain essential services."MICHAEL O’BOYLE, AMERICA’S POWER PLAN 4. Fukushima Residents Win 500m Yen Payout Over Nuclear Disaster The Guardian Nuclear power is, and has been, a very contentious topic in both popular opinion and the energy industry since its i[...]



Bloomberg Philanthropies, Sierra Club Announce Increased Commitment to Retiring Coal

Wed, 11 Oct 2017 17:57:14 +0000

Take heart, friends – all hope is not lost for our climate, and our clean air and water. Today I was honored to join an event in DC where the Sierra Club and Michael Bloomberg, United Nations Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change and former Mayor of New York, announced we are doubling down once more to continue retiring America’s coal plants and transitioning the US economy to clean energy. On the heels of the Trump administration’s decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan, President Obama’s signature carbon pollution standards, our message is clear - together with dozens of partner organizations, we will continue to advance our nation’s overwhelming commitment to expand clean energy and fight climate disruption, even when the Trump administration chooses denial and inaction. As storms and wildfires worsened by climate change ravage our nation, and as Trump and his Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt again put polluters over public health, the grassroots power of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign and our allies won’t back down. Coal is not coming back, and the renewable energy revolution is here to stay. The pace of coal retirements and renewable energy growth haven’t slowed since the election, and this renewed support from Bloomberg Philanthropies will allow us to ensure that progress continues. Seventeen coal plants have announced their retirement since Election Day 2016 - one plant every 20 days - including some of the nation’s biggest and most polluting coal plants. That’s 9,822 megawatts of dirty power that pollutes our air and water, makes our families sick, and worsens climate change. Tens of thousands of parents, students, public health officials, business owners, Tribal leaders, clergy, community leaders and more have banded together nationwide to get those results by organizing, rallying, contacting their elected officials, and more - and those results are just from the past year. Since the Beyond Coal campaign started focusing on existing coal plants in 2010, our grassroots activists and partners have helped retire 119,417 megawatts of proposed dirty coal power, or 259 coal plants, which means that almost half the coal plants in the US are now slated for retirement. By continuing this progress, we’ll provide the primary engine for meeting the US Paris climate commitment, regardless of Trump In this next chapter of our work, we’re going to keep slashing carbon, build an ever stronger and more powerful movement to move the electric sector to clean energy, and help decarbonize the remaining sectors, giving us a fighting chance to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. It’s also essential that we diversify the economy in communities that have historically relied on coal, like my home state of West Virginia. Our nation must provide the financial resources, political leadership, and other needed support to [...]



EPA chief to sign proposed rule killing Clean Power Plan today, making way for his Dirty Power Plan

Tue, 10 Oct 2017 13:32:07 +0000

Ignoring the future of the planet, the health of the people, and the job growth potential of renewable energy, Environmental Protection Agency-hating EPA chief Scott Pruitt will sign a draft rule Tuesday repealing the Clean Power Plan (CPP)  that was designed by the Obama administration to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s power plants. Pruitt, a climate-science denier, has been—as attorney general of Oklahoma—a leading foe of the CPP even before it was finalized. Replacing the CPP would be what David Doniger at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) quite rightly labels the “Dirty Power Plan.” A plan that will maim and kill people, undermine economic potential, and continue a longstanding assault on the environment. CO2 emissions are a major driver of the worldwide warming that is altering the climate. Cutting those emissions is essential for the U.S. to fulfill its pledge to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Accord. But then, Pr*$#%!^t Trump took the first step in withdrawing the United States from that agreement months ago, so failing to make good on that pledge is a feature, not a bug of his policies. Combining the Paris withdrawal with a bogus Department of Energy plan to subsidize coal operations supposedly to maintain electrical grid reliability, the retrograde repeal of the CPP demonstrates clearly for anyone not yet convinced just how deeply the Trump regime is willing to kowtow to the fossil-fuel industry.  In Pruitt’s announcement delivered Monday in eastern Kentucky—once one of the nation’s leading extractors of coal and now a region with 20 of the nation’s 100 most impoverished counties—he declared, “The war on coal is over.” That’s a soundbite designed to persuade Americans, particularly the ever-dwindling number of coal miners, that the CPP repeal is all about jobs. Rhea Suh, president of the NRDC writes: It’s not. We’ve made real progress cutting fossil fuel pollution over the past seven years, all while the economy’s added nearly 15 million jobs. The shift to cleaner, smarter ways to power our future has been a leading driver of that growth, employing more than three million Americans—nearly triple the workers who produce oil, coal, and gas—in a booming sector set to draw more than $7 trillion in investment worldwide over the next 25 years. [...]



Renewables in the Wake of the Caribbean Hurricanes

Mon, 09 Oct 2017 20:50:52 +0000

I couple of weeks ago, I suggested crowd funding solar lights and chargers for Puerto Rico and the other islands devastated by this year's hurricanes.  One of the groups I sent that piece to was the Solar Electric Light Fund (http://www.SELF.org) and they let me know a few days ago that they have launched a crowd funding campaign for solar lights and chargers, using d.light's S300 mobile charger + solar light, LED Rechargeable Lantern (http://www.dlight.com/solar-lighting-products/multifunction/dlight-s300/).  You can contribute at https://www.generosity.com/emergencies-fundraising/solar-light-and-communications-for-puerto-rico--2 with Catholic Charities USA distributing the systems to those most in need. Rocky Mountain Institute has been working with the Clinton Climate  Initiative (CCI) and the Caribbean Electric Utility Service Corporation (CARILEC) (http://www.carilec.org) on an Islands Energy Program (https://www.rmi.org/our-work/global-energy-transitions/islands-energy-program/) aiming to accelerate the transition to renewables in 10 island Caribbean countries (Anguilla, Aruba, Bahamas, Belize, Colombia (San Andrés and Providencia), Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Turks and Caicos) and The Seychelles, installing 95 megawatts of renewable energy, and leveraging $300 million in financing for island energy projects by 2020.  I'm sure they are adjusting and speeding up their timetable. Gov. Ricardo Rosselló of Puerto Rico and Elon Musk of Tesla had a 25-minute phone conversation Friday night October 6, 2017 discussing relief efforts.  Teams from Tesla and Puerto Rico’s energy sector will continue the talks early next week, Rosselló told USA Today.  “I told him because of the devastation, if there is a silver lining, we can start re-conceptualizing how we want to produce energy here in Puerto Rico and distribute it and do it in a more reliable fashion,” Rosselló said. “It was a very positive first step.” Richard Branson (https://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/hurricane-irma-hurricane-maria) has said, "My thoughts are turning to working with others to help create a long-term Marshall Plan for the BVI, and for the Caribbean to be reconstructed and rejuvenated with clean energy and new jobs." The Solar Energy Industries Association is coordinating efforts by the solar industry to aid relief efforts (https://www.seia.org/disaster-response) and I suspect that there will be a growing recognition of what this new energy industry can do on short notice and for the long term. What is needed is renewable energy at all scales from basic - light, phone, radio, battery charging - to household, business, and enterprise microgrids (hospitals first). Most islands going majority renewable are at the 10 - 15,000 population scale.  Hawaii is planning f[...]



Trump and Pruitt to Scrap Major Climate Action Plan, Endanger American Lives

Mon, 09 Oct 2017 18:18:37 +0000

 As storms and wildfires besiege our nation, Donald Trump and his EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will announce Tuesday their intention to repeal the Clean Power Plan, the critical climate action plan set in motion during the Obama administration that will save lives and money. As yet another hurricane slammed into our country, the spectacle of these robber barons sitting in the White House with their fossil fuel pals and congratulating themselves for making money while people's lives are destroyed is maddening. Repealing the Clean Power Plan is a reckless, dangerous move by an administration that continues to show that it cares more about their fossil fuel CEO cronies than the lives of thousands of people. I have a message for everyone distraught by this news: if we keep working and we don’t give up, we can stop them. As director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, I can assure you that we will meet the targets of the Clean Power Plan by retiring coal plants and replacing them with clean energy, in spite of Trump. Just days before the Trump administration announced this repeal, the utility Luminant announced it will retire its massively polluting Monticello coal plant in Texas. That’s the 259th coal plant to announce retirement since 2010. We’ve retired eleven coal plants under Trump, and none have opened, re-opened, or delayed their retirement. Meanwhile, clean energy continues to skyrocket. The two largest clean energy projects in history were announced this year by AEP and Xcel. Coal use is down to its lowest level in history. And new projections from the International Energy Agency predict solar will account for one-third of all power worldwide in just five years, equal to half the world’s coal power capacity. As a result of all this work and momentum, many states are on track to meet or exceed their 2030 Clean Power Plan emission reduction goals within the next two years, over a decade ahead of schedule. At the same time, we still need the Clean Power Plan, for a lot of reasons. It has been a critically important catalyst for action in continuing this momentum and ensuring the benefits of both reducing pollution and growing clean energy are deployed in an orderly, equitable, and fair manner  across the country. Because of the progress moving toward clean energy and retiring coal, the Clean Power Plan is already a part of most planning by utilities and the Public Utility Commissions that oversee them. That’s why most states will stay on track to achieve their Clean Power Plan goals despite Trump’s steps backward. Without it, there are serious questions of how, when, and where clean energy will deploy, and whether everyone can enjoy the health and financial benefits of reducing dangerous pollution. In many states, without the Clean Power Plan, Trump’s pol[...]



Trump appoints a coal lobbyist to the EPA, while DOE moves to require more power from coal and nukes

Fri, 06 Oct 2017 19:20:11 +0000

Donald Trump is going to make America burn coal. Even if that means more expensive electricity, more pollution, and a less efficient electrical grid. At the EPA, Scott Pruitt—champion of oil and gas fracking and enemy of any regulation for any reason—was already busy overruling scientists and blowing through a million bucks for personal protection and charter flights. Destroying everything the EPA has done to protect the planet since its inception is clearly too much for one person. So Donald Trump is bringing Pruitt some help.

President Trump on Thursday nominated Andrew R. Wheeler, a coal lobbyist with links to outspoken deniers of established science on climate change, to help lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

A climate change denying coal lobbyist … how could Wheeler get even better? He also has “aide to Senator James M. Inhofe” in his CV.

Since 2009, Mr. Wheeler has been a leader in the energy practice of the law firm Faegre Baker Daniels. His clients at the firm have included Murray Energy, one of the nation’s largest coal mining companies. Before joining the firm, he worked on Capitol Hill for more than a decade, much of that time serving under Senator Inhofe as the Oklahoma Republican’s chief counsel and as the staff director for the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Murray Energy would be the company famously featured on John Oliver’s show as an example of both Trump’s insane appeal to coal miners, and for founder Bob Murray’s conversation with a talking squirrel. All in all, it’s hard to think of a more perfect partner for Pruitt. But the EPA is just one part of the one-two punch to force America to burn coal.




Almost two-thirds of new power capacity in the world is clean energy, far exceeding expectations

Fri, 06 Oct 2017 16:04:07 +0000

When unpopular dumb dumb Donald Trump said “solar isn’t working so good” during one of his hateful spews, everyone and anyone who could read beyond a first grade level said to themselves that’s not right. Trump’s statements aped other conservative politicians who continue to lie to their constituents by telling them that the times aren’t changing—coal can still be king. Inside Climate News explains that 2016 shattered many people’s expectations of clean energy’s speedy growth and application around the world. 

In 2016, almost two-thirds of new power capacity came from renewables, bypassing net coal generation growth globally for the first time. Most of the expansion came from a 50 percent growth in solar, much of it in China.

In the U.S., solar power capacity doubled compared to 2015—itself a record-breaking year—with the country adding 14.5 gigawatts of solar power, far outpacing government projections. In the first half of 2017, wind and solar accounted for 10 percent of monthly electricity generation for the first time.

Two reports from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) show that our country’s “predictions” on the growth of solar energy around the world were far too modest.




A New Green Power Grid For Puerto Rico?

Fri, 06 Oct 2017 12:11:08 +0000

With Puerto Rico’s power grid completely knocked off by hurricane Maria, people have been wondering whether PR should rethink whether to restore it’s aging, expensive, fossil-fuel-powered power grid or replace it entirely with a modern system optimized for an island like Puerto Rico. Scott Stapf posed that question in a tweet, to which Elon Musk responded with an offer to solve Puerto Rico's energy crisis using solar energy - xThe Tesla team has done this for many smaller islands around the world, but there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico too. Such a decision would be in the hands of the PR govt, PUC, any commercial stakeholders and, most importantly, the people of PR.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 5, 2017 Which got the attention of Governor Ricardo Rossello - x@elonMusk Let's talk. Do you want to show the world the power and scalability of your #TeslaTechnologies? PR could be that flagship project. https://t.co/McnHKwisqc— Ricardo Rossello (@ricardorossello) October 6, 2017 The ball has been set rolling; stay tuned for further updates.  Updates … Here are some updated exchanges that occurred today - xI would be happy to talk. Hopefully, Tesla can be helpful.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 6, 2017 xSounds good, I look forward to talking later today— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 6, 2017 xGreat initial conversation with @elonmusk tonight. Teams are now talking; exploring opportunities. Next steps soon to follow.— Ricardo Rossello (@ricardorossello) October 7, 2017 In other news ... Tesla is sending to Puerto Rico hundreds of its Powerwall battery systems that can be paired with solar panels. www.bloomberg.com/… Musk is said to have donated $250,000 to relief efforts. www.geekwire.com/… Sonnen GmbH, a German provider of energy-storage systems, is planning to install microgrids to provide electricity for at least 15 emergency relief centers in Puerto Rico. www.bloomberg.com/... The State of Puerto Rico’s Electrical Grid According to earther.com/…, Puerto Rico’s electrical grid was a mess even before the storm. The island’s electrical utility, PREPA has been in financial trouble, trying to operate and maintain an aging, expensive system on a relatively poor island. For an island bathed in sunlight and buffeted by tropical winds, Puerto Rico extracts a ridiculously low amount of power from renewable sources and its inhabitants pay extremely high prices for energy derived from expensive oil. From www.eia.gov/… - In 2016, 47% of Puerto Rico’s electricity came from petroleum, 34% from natural gas, 17% from coal, and 2% from renewable energy. Two wind farms supplied [...]