Monthly Archives: December 2013

Texas is a Leader in Clean Energy Jobs. Let’s Keep It that Way.

Source: UCSUSA

Source: UCSUSA

This commentary originally appeared on our Texas Clean Air Matters blog.

Over the past several years, a combination of market forces and targeted policies has brought about enormous growth in clean energy technologies around the United States. A clean energy economy has developed around these new technologies, creating tens of thousands of homegrown jobs each year. Despite the industry’s initial surge, recent economic uncertainty has led to a plateau in clean energy job growth in most, but not all, regions in the U.S.

According to a report released by Environmental Entrepreneurs, the U.S. created 10,800 clean jobs in the third quarter of 2013, down from 37,000 in the previous quarter.

Notably, Texas doesn’t follow the national trend. Texas clean energy companies created over 660 jobs in the fall quarter of 2013 alone, up from less than 500 jobs in the previous quarter, cementing Texas in the list of top 10 states for clean energy jobs. Read More »

Posted in Demand Response, Energy Efficiency, Jobs, Renewable Energy, Texas / Read 1 Response

Fossil Fuel Industry and Koch Brothers Align to Kill Extension of Wind Energy Tax Credits

Jim Marston, Environmental Defense, Austin, TXIt seems that every year, renewable energy advocates are forced to respond to some false claims made by oil or coal interest groups trying to mislead the public and legislators into believing that solar and wind energy are not worth supporting.  Even though wind power is a clean, renewable, homegrown form of energy that is good for people, business and the environment, fossil fuels are simply hardwired into this country’s DNA.  So it is not surprising that fossil fuel companies defend their subsidies and tax breaks and don’t want clean energy competitors to cut into their support.  

Around this time last year, renewable energy advocates were announcing good news – the production tax credit that helped spark remarkable growth in America’s wind energy industry had been extended through 2013.  And it amounted to more than just a one year bump.  Because the extension applied to projects begun in 2013, rather than completed in 2013, the credit could be applied to more projects over a longer period of time.  Read More »

Posted in Climate, Renewable Energy / Tagged , | Read 6 Responses

Old Cities, New Tricks: Sustainability for Economic Revitalization

This commentary originally appeared on our EDF Voices blog by Ben Schneider, EDF Communications Manager

Love Park in Center City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The park is nicknamed Love Park for Robert Indiana's Love sculpture which overlooks the plaza.

Love Park in Center City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The park is nicknamed Love Park for Robert Indiana’s Love sculpture which overlooks the plaza.

Curbing pollution to protect the world now and for future generations is an obvious argument in favor of sustainability. But as organizations and companies throughout the country are demonstrating, sustainability is also big business. So much so, in fact, that some of America’s oldest cities are embracing it as a way to revitalize their economies.

Want proof it can work? Look no further than Philadelphia. It’s a quintessentially historic city – the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence and established the U.S. Constitution there, after all. And if you’ve ever spent any time there, you’ve probably noticed its history is still a central part of its identity. The William Penn statue atop City Hall, Independence Hall, the cobblestone streets – Philadelphia has gone to great lengths to preserve the past as an intrinsic part of its modern character.

Digging a little deeper, it’s clear the city has its eye on the future much more than the past. Greenbuild held their annual conference in Philadelphia last month, and it was abundantly clear public and private entities alike are investing time and resources to aggressively reinvent Philadelphia as a model of 21st century efficiency and sustainability, and they’re not alone.

Hundreds of companies and organizations, and 30,000 attendees, set up shop throughout the city’s Convention Hall to show off their latest work in sustainable building practices. The expo has grown so large it attracted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the key note address, who spoke of the potential for green building to bolster the nation’s economy and help America achieve energy independence.

Philadelphia organizations embraced their time in the green building spotlight and emphasized the city’s progress and intent:

  • The city’s water department is two years into a 25-year plan to implement a groundbreaking, city-wide storm water management plan that will drastically reduce water pollution and reinvent the city’s infrastructure in the process.
  • The Navy Yard — which dates back to 1776, when the United States needed to bolster its navy for the Revolutionary War and was shuttered in the mid-1990s – has been remade into a 1,200 acre business campus where 130 companies now utilize the space for offices, manufacturing, research and development, and more.

These kinds of stories are important to remember as the environmental movement continues to broaden our circle of supporters. Within the traditional base of the environmental movement, calls to preserve the world we leave our kids resonate deeply. But we’ll need more non-traditional allies if we’re going to enact the kind of sweeping reforms needed to fight climate change. Adding the economic and financial benefits of sustainability to the conversation are one way to do that.

Philadelphians embrace their rich heritage as much as any city in America – and as they demonstrate, that’s no reason not to look toward the future with excitement as well.

Posted in General / Tagged | Comments are closed

Is SONGS Haunting Energy’s Past, Present and Future?

This commentary originally appeared on our EDF Voices blog.

Source: Peter Lee/Flickr

Source: Peter Lee/Flickr

Earlier this year, Southern California Edison (SCE) permanently retired the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) after forty years of operation in San Diego County, appearing to put the large-scale power plant firmly in the past. However, much like Ebenezer Scrooge, California is grappling with the specter of SONGS’ past – which may haunt our present and future.

The story of SONGS is not unique to California. As of the end of 2012, 28 nuclear power plants were shut down in the United States – and many more will face the same fate in the near future, as they reach the end of their design life. Thus, a transition to renewables and incentivizing reduced demand– and a refusal to be tied to fossil fuels – is an issue of national importance.

The closure of SONGS has left California at an important crossroads: Continue to lean on fossil fuel energy and build additional combustion power plants– like Marley’s ghost chained to the past – or start shaping the future by using the clean solutions that are available today. Read More »

Posted in California, Climate, Demand Response, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy / Comments are closed

NY Governor Cuomo launches Green Bank in Aggressive Move to Tackle Climate Change

Rory Christian PhotoOne of the worst hit states by last year’s Superstorm Sandy, New York is moving aggressively to avert future climate-related weather events.  Governor Cuomo announced the launch of a Green Bank last week, giving the state a timely and much-needed Christmas gift.

The move shows the state’s strong commitment to the acceleration of a clean, low-carbon energy economy.  New York joins the ranks of several other states, including Connecticut and Hawaii, in addressing a key issue holding clean energy in America back, namely financing.  The Green Bank, which has $210 million in initial funding originating from existing ratepayer and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative funds, targets market barriers to private financing of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. 

Working with private sector financial institutions, the Green Bank will offer financial products such as credit enhancement, loan loss reserves and loan bundling to support securitization (which promotes liquidity in the marketplace) and help build secondary markets.  These products have long-proven successful in stimulating market developments and creating investment-quality, asset-backed securities that can be bought and traded. Read More »

Posted in Energy Efficiency, New York, Renewable Energy / Tagged , , | Read 1 Response

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Reins in State Drilling Laws, Stands Up for Localities

Source: Pennlive

Source: Pennlive

Yesterday the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stood up for the traditional powers of local governments to decide where — and, to a significant extent, how — oil and gas development happens in their communities. In a 4-2 vote, the Court overturned Act 13, a 2012 state law that had stripped localities of some of their power to decide where the industry can operate. For example, Act 13 required that drilling, waste pits and pipelines be allowed in every zoning district, including residential districts, as long as certain buffers are observed.

That provision and others were challenged in a lawsuit filed by seven Pennsylvania localities. The suit was supported by an amicus brief written by lawyers at Earthjustice and signed by EDF and other environmental groups. We congratulate the local governments on this important victory and thank Earthjustice for its leadership.

This is a big win for local governments because it preserves their right to make sensible land use decisions that can impact quality of life. Home to the gas-rich Marcellus shale basin, Pennsylvania has emerged as the nation’s fastest-growing producer of natural gas and now ranks third in the nation, behind only Texas and Louisiana. Pennsylvania accounts for more than 10 percent of the nation’s total natural gas production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Alongside this spike in production, however, serious concerns about air and water quality in the region have also emerged. Read More »

Posted in Natural Gas / Tagged | Read 1 Response