Author Archives: Jim Marston

A Tale of Two Countries – China’s Betting on Renewable Energy While Trump Dreams of Coal’s Glory Days

solar-panels-1794467_1280That whoosh you just heard was China passing the United States in the race for the 21st century energy economy. Or is it the 21st century jobs race? Or the “world’s only superpower” race? Unfortunately, it might be all three.

Last week, China announced it will invest $361 billion over the next three years in renewable power generation. Compared to the $90 billion dedicated to clean energy in the 2009 stimulus package that was spread over several years, it dwarfs America’s commitment to an industry that nearly every country on Earth agrees will dominate the global energy landscape.

Surely, China’s air quality is playing a role in its government’s planning. The country has a severe air pollution problem – its hazy city skies are as famous as its Great Wall. Still, it would seem strangely out-of-character for China – given its history on environmental issues – to spend three times as much money as the United States on a tree-hugger pipedream.

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Posted in Clean Energy, General| Leave a comment

Could Rick Perry Forego his Special-Interest Past for a Clean Energy Future?

rick-perry-by-gage-skidmore-flickrBy now you may have heard that Rick Perry, former Governor of Texas, is President-elect Trump’s pick for Energy secretary. If appointed, he will be succeeding Samuel Bodman, Doctor of Science in chemical engineering from MIT; Steven Chu, PhD in physics from the University of California, Berkeley; and Ernest Moniz, PhD in theoretical physics from Stanford University.

Since the majority of the budget of the Department of Energy (DOE) is spent on nuclear waste clean-up and very technical research projects, the fact that Gov. Perry doesn’t measure up to his predecessors in his scientific credentials is disappointing. All the more so that his track record is one of unquestioning support of highly polluting interests in his state.

I have written about Perry plenty of times, so it should come as no surprise that I am less than thrilled with the idea of him heading the same department he famously declared he would eliminate.

Put simply: The appointment of Rick Perry is "open season" on the environment, and all who care about the health of their families should be concerned. Time and again, he has put polluters over people for political gain, and leveraged backroom deals with special interests — the rest of the economy and the air be damned. My only hope is that he takes to heart the jobs and economic growth resulting from Texas wind power, and uses it to steer the DOE toward fostering a thriving clean energy economy. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy| Comments are closed

10 Clean Energy Facts to Bring Us Together This Holiday Season

rp_solar-photo-300x173.jpgBeing a democrat in Texas – a historically red state – can sometimes result in tense family gatherings around the holidays.

It’s why many of us agree to simply “not talk politics.” But this approach is exactly what’s gotten us where we are today: a divided nation in which neither side understands the other. If we want to heal this divide, we have to start talking about our conflicting points of view – even if it’s uncomfortable.

One way to do this in a respectful, level-headed way (besides having this conversation before the second or third glass of wine) is to bring some facts to family gatherings. Allow the facts – instead of emotional arguments – to speak for themselves.

We still don’t know exactly what a Trump administration could mean for clean energy and the solar or wind industries. But the president-elect has promised to roll back the Clean Power Plan – the nation’s first-ever limits on carbon pollution – and “bring back coal,” both of which could slow our transition to a clean energy economy.

This isn’t just unfortunate for the future health of our kids and grandkids; it’s flat out not what most people want. Over 80 percent of Americans favor expanding renewable sources like wind and solar to provide electricity. Here are a few reasons why that you can bring to family gatherings this holiday season. If you’re going to have a ten-gallon mouth, you may as well fill it with facts.

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Posted in Clean Energy| Comments are closed

What Trump and Pence Don't Get about Clean Energy Jobs

President-elect Trump's victory tour began in Indiana last week, where he and running mate Mike Pence announced they had cobbled together enough taxpayer cash to convince Carrier – a gas furnace manufacturer that planned to move 2,000 jobs to Mexico – to keep some of its jobs in the state.

But just two years ago, Governor Pence allowed Indiana to become the first state to abandon its energy efficiency standards – a move that Carrier and other companies warned would threaten nearly 1,500 jobs and $500 million a year in local economic investment. Evidently, losing 1,500 jobs wasn't enough to worry about. Yet two years and a presidential election later, saving 1,000 on the backs of taxpayers is held up as proof that Trump is making good on his promise to reinvigorate the American economy.

Politics is theatre, but what worries me about the Carrier announcement is that it underscores how our new president and vice president don't understand the true economic potential of clean, modern energy.

The clean energy industry – everything from wind turbines and solar panels, to home energy storage and energy efficiency – is exploding around the country. In 2014, the U.S. clean energy market grew by 14 percent – at nearly five times the rate of the overall economy – to nearly $200 billion. That's bigger than the U.S. airline industry, and roughly equal to the pharmaceutical business. And this growth is creating millions of quality, homegrown jobs. If Trump wants to be the jobs president he promised he would be, someone needs to brief him on the facts. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Solar Energy, Wind Energy| Comments are closed

Why Clean Energy is Center Stage on International Day of Peace

poster-largeEach year since 1981, the United Nations (UN) recognizes an International Day of Peace on September 21. The day is intended to strengthen peace both within and among nations.

As an environmental advocate, I can’t help but think about the effects of climate change on the current state of global peace. And while there are a few climate deniers out there, those who have looked at the science are saying climate change poses a serious threat to global security and peace.

Fortunately, the UN agrees – which is why they chose to focus this year’s International Peace Day on Sustainable Development Goals. Unanimously adopted by all 193 UN member states, the Sustainable Development Goals are broken down into 17 focus areas and are part of a broader agenda to fight inequality, injustice, and climate change by 2030.

Goal 7 – “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all” – is a hugely important part of fostering global peace. The world needs affordable, reliable electricity to heat, cool, and power our homes, and to encourage economic growth. But we also need this electricity to be clean, modern, and efficient, so it doesn’t pollute our communities and exacerbate climate change.

Here are four ways the U.S. is doing our part to achieve an affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy system for all:

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Posted in California, Data Access, Energy Efficiency, Energy Equity, Energy Financing, Energy-Water Nexus, Grid Modernization, Illinois, New York, Solar Energy, Texas| Comments are closed

Market Forces are Driving Coal’s Demise and Cleaning Up the Grid in Texas

power lines unsplash croppedWhat do economists and environmentalists have in common? When it comes to Texas’ energy future, more than you may think.

According to a new study from the Brattle Group, a reputable, national economics consulting firm with extensive experience in Texas’ electricity sector, market forces are leading to coal’s rapid decline in the Lone Star State. Moreover, rapidly-growing cleaner electricity sources like natural gas and renewable energy will be able to entirely meet Texas’ additional power needs – without increasing electric bills. We couldn’t agree more.

That said, we’re confident the impacts are going to be even more powerful in terms of Texas’ wind, solar, and energy efficiency. And the latest report from Texas’ main grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), continues to support that expectation. Read More »

Posted in Air Quality, Natural Gas, Renewable Energy, Texas| Comments are closed
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