We need to have “the talk” about solar power and equity, because ignoring uncomfortable questions will invite misinformation and bad decisions. We need an informed dialogue about how local solar power can impact low-income communities and communities of color in the U.S. We need to talk about “all the good things, and the bad things, that may be.”
First things first: the price of solar panels has fallen by 80 percent since 2008. This significant decrease in cost, coupled with incentives such as net metering which allow customers to send the energy they produce from their solar systems back to the grid and receive a credit on their bill, and the emergence of new financing models like solar “leasing” programs, has led to an explosion of local solar in the U.S.
We now boast an estimated 20 gigawatts of solar energy nationwide (enough to power more than four million U.S. homes), and the United States added more solar capacity in the past two years than in the previous 30 years combined. In fact, as President Obama highlighted in his State of the Union address, “every three weeks, we bring online as much solar power as we did in all of 2008.”
We already know the innovative program NYC Clean Heat is yielding tremendous results: soot pollution in New York City has fallen by more than 50 percent since 2011, preventing an estimated 800 deaths and 2,000 hospital visits due to lung and cardiovascular diseases annually. That hard work by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the City of New York, and our partners has now been recognized –again.
The Association of Energy Service Professionals has given NYC Clean Heat an award for Outstanding Achievement in Non-Residential Program Design & Implementation. We are honored to receive this award from such a distinguished organization and believe it shows that a program like NYC Clean Heat is both necessary and replicable.
EDF partnered with the City to create NYC Clean Heat in 2012, which forged a diverse coalition of the financial, real estate, and non-profit communities, to launch a $100 million financing program to help phase out dirty heating oils. The program helped 4,000 buildings – half of them affordable housing – convert to cleaner, more efficient heating oils. Read More
When the White House announced ambitious plans to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 45 percent, EDF President Fred Krupp called it a landmark move. And according, to a recent poll, 66 percent of Americans agree that strong federal standards are needed to safeguard our air from methane pollution, which is responsible for about a quarter of today’s warming. The oil and gas industry– the largest industrial source of this climate pollutant–wastes enough unburned methane each year to heat six million homes.
The plan has drawn widespread support among opinion leaders as well as industry experts.
Wyoming has a long history of living with the oil and gas industry that goes back to the nineteenth century, but that doesn’t mean that new drilling projects in new parts of the state don’t get the public’s attention. New neighbors are always a source of local interest and an approach to air quality regulations that includes different requirements for different parts of the state can lead local residents to ask what new oil and gas development will mean for their neighborhoods, for their air, and for their quality of life.
If the robust turnout of several hundred people at two recent public meetings in Laramie and Converse counties is any indication, there is significant interest in how potentially rapid oil and gas development could impact local communities. Read More
There’s not much in Washington these days that Americans can agree on. But a new poll released last week by the American Lung Association found that a large majority of voters would support EPA regulations requiring the oil and natural gas industry to cut methane pollution in half by 2020.
This comes as EPA nears a decision – likely in the coming weeks — on whether to tackle the growing problem of unregulated methane pollution from the oil and gas sector. It’s a big decision. Reducing methane pollution from the oil and gas sector by half would save close to $1 billion a year in wasted energy and, over a 20-year time frame, cut climate pollution equivalent to closing about 90 coal-fired power plants.
The new poll of 1,000 voters, conducted by a bipartisan team of pollsters, also shows that public support for the Environmental Protection Agency and for strong clean air laws are as high as ever. GOP leaders should take note as they take over in Congress: voters believe, by a 3-to-1 margin, that the EPA, not Congress, should be setting pollution standards. That includes a 2-to-1 margin among Republican voters. So while the polluter lobby clamors for more political interference from Congress, the public wants the non-partisan EPA to be left alone to do what it is supposed to do.
The reasons that Americans support these policies are not new. Read More
While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sorts through the more than 1.6 million comments received on its proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP), one group is stepping out to pledge its support of the landmark proposal. 53 Illinois legislators recently signed a letter urging the EPA to finalize the plan, which will set limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants for the first time ever.
Power plants currently account for nearly 40 percent of the nation’s carbon pollution and Illinois’s proposed target would result in a 33 percent reduction in the state’s carbon output by 2030. Fortunately, due to impressive state efforts to invest in clean energy over the past few years, Illinois is well-positioned to meet the challenge.
CPP is an economic opportunity
The Illinois legislators argue the CPP will help the state “achieve even greater cuts in our emissions, health benefits for all our citizens, and will spur further growth in our state’s economy.” The CPP will further the state’s transition to a clean energy economy by attracting investment in innovation, creating more jobs, and keeping electricity prices affordable. Read More