Governor Brian Sandoval vetoed Assembly Bill 374, which would have created a Medicaid buy-in option for all Nevadans. Nevada State Democratic Party Chair William McCurdy II released the following statement:
“Republicans like Senator Heller and Congressman Amodei are actively sabotaging the Affordable Care Act and trying to pass a bill that increases your costs, slashes your coverage, and eliminates key health care protections. Assemblyman Sprinkle’s Nevada Care Plan was motivated by the idea that health care should be a right, and his legislation was the product of diligent work, innovative policy ideas, and bipartisan collaboration. If Governor Sandoval had signed this bill, every Nevadan would have gained the opportunity to buy an affordable plan with Medicaid-like health benefits on the insurance market. Governor Sandoval’s disappointing veto leaves Nevadans more vulnerable to the GOP’s heartless and reckless health care policies in Washington.
Governor Sandoval’s disappointing veto leaves Nevadans more vulnerable to the GOP’s heartless and reckless health care policies in Washington” — NV Dems Chair William McCurdy II
Governor Brian Sandoval also vetoed Assembly Bill 206 to set a standard of getting 40% of our energy from renewable sources by 2030 and Senate Bill 392 to expand solar energy access to more communities including low-income families. Nevada State Democratic Party Chair William McCurdy II released a statement relative to those vetoes as well:
“During this past legislative session, Democrats worked in a bipartisan way to revitalize Nevada’s clean energy economy, and I’m proud of everything we accomplished together in Carson City. Governor Sandoval’s vetoes represent missed opportunities for us to seize the economic opportunity of renewable energy in our communities. Community solar would have helped families who rent and low-income neighborhoods reduce their energy bills through access to solar power, and an ambitious Renewable Portfolio Standard would have created tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in wages right here in Nevada. The fight will continue to build on our state’s clean energy progress and enact these common-sense policies next session.
Governor Sandoval’s vetoes represent missed opportunities for us to seize the economic opportunity of renewable energy in our communities” — NV Dems Chair William McCurdy II
“Aside from provoking a large-scale nuclear war, it is hard to imagine an American president taking an action more harmful to the U.S. than Trump’s effort to accelerate greenhouse gas emissions” — by Nika Knight, staff writer at CommonDreams
President Donald Trump on Tuesday set about aggressively dismantling Obama-era climate policies with an executive order decried as “sheer reckless folly,” which will increase U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the climate crisis.
“Aside from provoking a large-scale nuclear war, it is hard to imagine an American president taking an action more harmful to the U.S. than Trump’s effort to accelerate greenhouse gas emissions,” said David J. Arkush, managing director of Public Citizen’s Climate Program, in a statement.
“This day may be remembered as a low point in human history—a time when the world’s preeminent power could have led the world to a better future but instead moved decisively toward catastrophe,” Arkush added.
The order instructs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to rewrite former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), which would have limited the emissions of coal-powered power plants. It also lifts the moratorium on federal coal leasing, repeals limits on methane emissions from fracking, and directs the agency to reconsider the Social Cost of Carbon and the National Environmental Policy Act guidance on greenhouse gas emissions.
“The EPA’s rollback of basic environmental rules demonstrates that when it comes to the health of our children, our communities, and our climate, this is an administration of lawlessness and disorder,” said Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of the grassroots sustainability group UPROSE, in statement.
“Indigenous peoples will not stand idle as we tell the world the Earth is the source of life to be protected, not merely a resource to be exploited and abused.”
—Tom BK Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network
“For frontline communities, those of us impacted first and worst by the extraction economy, this means an escalation of public health crises, from asthma to cancer. It means an utter disregard for those of us most vulnerable to climate disasters,” Yeampierre added. “It means a world of volatility and exploitation for our children and grandchildren.”
Environmentalists, local and state leaders, and advocacy groups are vowing to resist.
“The best way to fight against these executive orders is to take to the streets,” as 350.org executive director May Boeve put it.
“President Donald Trump tearing apart the CPP is an act of aggression and violence against the sacredness of Mother Earth and Father Sky,” said Tom BK Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, in a statement. “Our indigenous prophecies and teachings tell us that Life as we know it is in danger. The atmosphere and the environment cannot absorb anymore concentration of greenhouse gases. As Indigenous peoples, we still understand our responsibility as guardians and the need to take action as defenders of the Earth. Indigenous peoples will not stand idle as we tell the world the Earth is the source of life to be protected, not merely a resource to be exploited and abused.”
“As a member of the climate justice movement, we stand defiant in the face of these orders and are prepared to hold the line,” Yeampierre said. “We will meet these violent policies with a deeper commitment to a Just Transition away from fossil fuels, toward renewable energy, local resiliency, and a regenerative economy worthy of leaving our children.”
The climate movement has numbers on its side, groups observe. “Millions of Americans have called for strong climate action, submitting more than 8 million commentsasking the EPA to take action to cut carbon pollution from power plants,” noted Environment America. Recent polling confirms that a vast majority of Americans support climate action.
As the federal government gives up its role in the climate fight, many now see local and state leaders taking up the charge.
“The West Coast will be allied with the rest of the world that understands science.” — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee”
[A]s our most successful climate programs face attack on the federal level, it is incumbent on states to double down on their climate commitments,” Environment America wrote. “We are calling on our governors to keep leading the charge and push the progress we need to tackle the climate crisis and get 100 percent renewable energy.”
West Coast politicians are already uniting under the umbrella of the Pacific Coast Collaborative to battle the federal government’s rightward turn on climate.
“As the governors of Washington, Oregon, and California and the mayors of Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles, we speak today in support of the Clean Power Plan,” the Pacific Coast Collaborative wrote in advance of the executive order. “We speak in unified opposition to the idea of any decision by the President to limit our region’s economic opportunities or our commitment to doing what’s right to make our cities and states cleaner and healthier for future generations.”
“The West Coast is going to move forward to beat climate change,” said Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington state, according to Northwest Public Radio. “The West Coast going to move forward to build clean energy jobs. The West Coast will be allied with the rest of the world that understands science.”
“It is up to the American public to move the nation in the right direction on climate and clean energy despite the worst efforts of the so-called leader in the White House.” — David J. Arkush, Public Citizen
“Many states and cities in the West will continue to lead on clean energy because it makes economic sense, and those states that tie their fate to Scott Pruitt’s doomed strategy of delay and deny face an increasingly risky future,” said Bill Corcoran, Western campaign director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.
And despite the frightening actions of the Trump administration, states and cities are already taking strong action to fight climate change. California last week passedthe nation’s strictest methane regulations, and on Monday the Maryland state senate passed a statewide fracking ban. Maryland’s Republican governor has already signaled his support for the ban.
People nationwide are also ready to rise up and march for climate justice.
“Even as Trump dismantles environmental protections to shore up the fossil fuel industry, support for action to stop global warming is at an all-time high,” said 350.org’s Boeve. “Now it’s up to communities to bring our vision of a healthy climate and a just transition to renewable energy to life.”
“From the upcoming congressional recess through the Peoples Climate March and beyond, we’ll be putting pressure on lawmakers to defend the climate and building power to stop the fossil fuel industry for good,” Boeve said.
“Now is the time to come together and build an economy where investments are made to benefit workers, communities of color, women, and low-income folks, not the fossil fuel industry,” said Rae Breaux, lead climate justice organizer for the People’s Action Institute, in a statement.
Public Citizen’s Arkush added: “It is up to the American public to move the nation in the right direction on climate and clean energy despite the worst efforts of the so-called leader in the White House.”
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But independent analysis suggests that Exxon gets as much as $1 billion in oil and gas subsidies.
During former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson’s confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on Wednesday, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) wanted to know how, if confirmed, the former oil executive would work to fulfill a 2009 G20 pledge to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.
“I’m not aware of anything the fossil fuel industry gets that I would characterize as a subsidy,” Tillerson responded. “Rather it’s simply the application of the tax code broadly, tax code that broadly applies to all industry.”
But environmental groups argue that Tillerson’s statements are misleading at best, noting fossil fuel companies like Exxon receive significant benefits from parts of the tax code that apply only to them — and no other industry.
“Rex Tillerson lied under oath today,” Alex Doukas, a senior campaigner with Oil Change International, told ThinkProgress. “Oil, gas, and coal corporations receive big subsidies in the U.S, and definitions used by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, the International Energy Agency, and the International Monetary Fund would all agree on that point,” he said, adding that “these are hardly radically progressive organizations.”
According to analysis by Oil Change International — a research group focused on understanding the true costs of fossil fuels — Exxon receives anywhere from $700 million to $1 billion in government subsidies each year.
Those subsidies are doled out in a number of ways, which are perhaps best highlighted in a 2015 U.S. self-review, submitted to the G20, of the country’s fossil fuel subsidies. Subsidies can come from things like tax breaks, such as deductions for the “intangible drilling costs” or an oil and gas operation, or deductions for manufacturing fossil fuels domestically. They can also come from provisions that allow fossil fuel companies to set aside the costs of certain geological and geophysical expenditures. Under the current tax code, mining companies may deduct 70 percent of domestic exploration and development costs.
The 2015 U.S. review states that there are currently 16 federal fossil fuel production tax provisions that apply only to producers of fossil fuels, and no other industry.
As Exxon CEO, it’s likely Tillerson knew about these tax deductions available to the oil and gas industry, and knew the extent to which Exxon was taking advantage of them. As a company, Exxon has spent millions on lobbying related to fossil fuel subsidies — in 2012, they were the leading force on lobbying surrounding the Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act, which would have repealed several tax breaks for five big oil companies, including Exxon. In 2016, they were the only company to register a lobbying presence with regards to the FAIR Energy Policy Act, which would have also ended certain big tax preferences for fossil fuel companies.
Under Tillerson, Exxon’s political spending greatly increased, growing from a little over $700,000 in 2004 to $1.5 million in 2016. And, according to OpenSecrets, each year, around 90 percent of that money went to Republican candidates, the same candidates more likely to vote against ending fossil fuel subsidies (in 2012, for example, only two Republican senators voted for the Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act).
During Wednesday’s hearing, Tillerson made it clear that he would not support the G20 pledge to revoke fossil fuel subsidies as Secretary of State — a position he shares with President-elect Donald Trump, who has repeatedly called for an increase in fossil fuel production domestically.
“I think as the president-elect has made clear in his views, in his whole objective of his campaign, of putting America first, that he is not going to support anything that would put U.S. industry in any particular sector at a disadvantage to its competitors outside of the U.S., whether it’s automobile manufacturing or steel making or the oil and gas industry,” Tillerson said.
That’s not exactly true, however. Trump has promised to end federal funding for renewable energy development, a decision that would make U.S. industries like solar and wind much less competitive compared to international producers. China, for instance, recently announced that it plans to invest $360 billion in clean energy — a move that would create 13 million jobs by 2020. China already has over 40 percent of all jobs in renewables, globally. The U.S., meanwhile, claims just under 10 percent of the global renewable job share.
“Demand response provides tremendous benefits to our environment, helps consumers save money and makes our electricity grid more reliable,” says Earthjustice. (Photo: Image Catalog/flickr/cc)
In a decision heralded as “great news for consumers and the environment,” the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld a rule meant to incentivize electricity conservation and idle dirty fossil fuel power plants normally used during periods of high demand.
As Timothy Cama explains for The Hill, the court ruled (pdf) that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) “did not exceed the authority Congress gave it when it wrote its ‘demand response’ rule, mandating that electric utilities pay customers to reduce use during peak demand periods.”
In 2011, FERC (the agency that regulates our country’s high voltage electric transmission grid) issued a landmark rule called Order 745, which set compensation for demand response in wholesale energy markets. Under the rule, grid operators are required to pay demand response participants the same rates for reducing energy use as those paid to power suppliers for producing energy from resources like coal, natural gas, and wind and solar power. FERC said the rule reflected the common sense view that “markets function most effectively when both supply and demand resources have appropriate opportunities to participate.”
With its ruling on Monday, the Supreme Court essentially affirmed FERC’s position—and in turn, gave clean energy “a huge boost,” Clements said in a press statement. That’s because, she explained, “[i]f grid operators can count on fast-acting customer responses rather than plants that need more advanced notice to come online, they will have greater flexibility to meet electricity demand in situations when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.”
What’s more, said Sierra Club staff attorney Casey Roberts, “demand response programs make energy cheaper, ensure the reliability of the grid, and protect our air and water from fossil fuel pollution.”
The agency’s win is seen as a big loss for large “baseload” power sources like coal, natural gas and nuclear in the Northeast and parts of the Midwest, which have seen their profits decline over the last several years as electricity consumption has eased and renewables grew. Now they have to compete with industrial customers and others who will at times be paid at market rates to reduce their electricity use without having the costs of operating and maintaining a power plant themselves.
“This is a great day for clean energy and the health of a more affordable, stronger power grid,” added Earthjustice managing attorney of clean energy Jill Tauber on Monday. “Demand response provides tremendous benefits to our environment, helps consumers save money and makes our electricity grid more reliable.”
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Suddenly, it looks like Obama may have ditched his inherently contradictory approach.
“We’ve got to accelerate the transition away from dirty energy,” he asserted during his final State of the Union address. “I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.”
Just three days later, the Obama administration moved in that direction by declaring a three-year moratorium on new leases to mine coal from federal land.
Obama’s speech also cast switching to renewable energy and phasing out fossil fuels in a business-friendly light.
“We’re taking steps to give homeowners the freedom to generate and store their own energy — something environmentalists and tea partiers have teamed up to support,” he said. There’s plenty going on at a larger scale too. Wind and solar energy are generating more than half of the new power that came online last year.
The Republican Party’s obsession with “job creators” should make it a fan of green energy. Nearly 210,000 Americans now work for the solar industry, and some 73,000 are employed in the wind business. Renewable power forged at least 79,000 new jobs between 2008 and 2012 as 50,000 coal jobs vanished.
But the fossil fuel industries and their political allies won’t surrender without a fight. As Obama put it: “There are plenty of entrenched interests who want to protect the status quo.”
To see what he meant, check out what’s up in Nevada.
Right before Christmas, the state’s electric-sector regulators short-circuited policies that rewarded homeowners for investing in their own solar panels. Nevadans may end up paying for the privilege of generating their own electricity while simultaneously padding the profit margins of NV Energy, rather than getting compensated for it.
The Nevada Public Utility Commission, whose three members were all appointed by Republican governor Brian Sandoval, effectively killed demand for rooftop solar power and the jobs that diversifying industry would have created in Nevada—overnight. The new policies also punish consumers who previously bought or leased panels.
This about face prompted companies like SolarCity, Vivint, and Sunrun to shutter their operations in the state. SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive is calling this move an act of “sabotage,” and two Las Vegas residents have already filed a class action lawsuit.
This money ought to support and ramp up the green transition, not delay it. That’s what Obama meant when he asserted: “Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future.”
And although polls have shown that government efforts to expand solar and wind power enjoy bipartisan support, GOP presidential contenders and many Republican leaders dismiss these increasingly competitive industries.
“Why would we want to pass up the chance for American businesses to produce and sell the energy of the future?” asked Obama, raising an excellent question. “The jobs we’ll create, the money we’ll save, and the planet we’ll preserve — that’s the kind of future our kids and grandkids deserve.”
Indeed. Supposedly pro-business politicians who are out to kill the green energy boom make no sense. Neither does an all-of-the-above energy strategy.
Columnist Emily Schwartz Greco is the managing editor of OtherWords, a non-profit national editorial service run by the Institute for Policy Studies. OtherWords.org.
Renewable energy advocates say the move could “destroy the rooftop solar industry in one of the states with the most sunshine.” (Photo: SolarCity Advocacy/Twitter)
Renewable energy advocates in Nevada are outraged by the state’s solar-killing moves, and they’re not going down without a fight.
The state’s Public Utilities Commission considered requests Wednesday from solar company groups, homeowners, activists, and the state consumer advocate to put a stay on a rate hike that took effect January 1.
The Republican-appointed Commission (PUC) in late December voted to increase a fixed monthly fee for solar customers by about 40 percent while simultaneously reducing the amount customers get paid for excess power they sell to the grid. It also made these changes retroactive—a move one solar executive said would “sabotage” consumers’ investments.
Clean energy advocates swiftly decried the changes, which have left the state’s solar sector “in turmoil.”
Lyndon Rive, CEO of SolarCity, said the move would “destroy the residential rooftop solar industry in one of the states with the most sunshine.”
In fact, he added, “the one benefactor of this decision would be NV Energy, whose monopoly will have been protected. The people will have lost choice, jobs and faith in their government.”
According to Bloomberg, SolarCity announced last week plans to fire 550 field and support staff in Nevada and Sunrun Inc. followed a day later with “hundreds” more job cuts.
The PUC’s decision “forces Sunrun to displace our Nevada employees, inflicting enormous pain on hard-working Nevada families,” said Bryan Miller, the company’s senior vice president of public policy and power markets. “Nevada passed incentives to attract residents to go solar. But after baiting homeowners with incentives, the state switched the rules, penalizing solar homeowners to deliver additional profit to NV Energy. This bait and switch hurts Nevada families, many of whom are retirees on fixed incomes, and who use solar savings to meet their monthly budgets.”
Renewable energy advocate Judy Treichel, who serves as executive director of the Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force, belongs to one of those families.
In a guest column for the Las Vegas Sunpublished Tuesday, Treichel explained how “when the price of solar panels for residential installations dropped significantly, we tapped $8,500 from our retirement savings—after taking into account an NV Energy rebate and federal tax credit—and become a solar household. We were solar-powered all of last year, and our annual savings showed our system would pay for itself within 14 years. Moreover, it was right for the environment.”
Now, she said, “we feel financially ambushed,” continuing:
With the new pricing for NEM customers, the value or price of the energy they produce will be vastly reduced. In addition, the flat service charge for NEM customers will rise to three times that charged to nonsolar residential customers, a kind of penalty for producing much of our own electricity. The people with solar on their homes feel cheated; solar businesses are closing or leaving.
Similar arguments were reiterated on Wednesday, when actor-activist Mark Ruffalo joined hundreds of Nevadans calling on the PUC to change course—and for Gov. Brian Sandoval to take a stand against the new rates.
“Today’s decision puts Nevada embarrassingly out of step with the national and international agenda recently set in Paris to save our climate,” said Rt. Rev. Dan T. Edwards, Bishop of the Episcopal Churches of Nevada, following the PUC’s vote in December.
Indeed, squashing solar can be seen as a desperate attempt to hold on to the status quo, as Danny Kennedy, author of the book Rooftop Revolution and co-founder of solar company Sungevity in California, said in an interview with Alternet in 2013:
Solar power represents a change in electricity that has a potentially disruptive impact on power in both the literal sense (meaning how we get electricity) and in the figurative sense of how we distribute wealth and power in our society. Fossil fuels have led to the concentration of power whereas solar’s potential is really to give power over to the hands of people. This shift has huge community benefits while releasing our dependency on the centralized, monopolized capital of the fossil fuel industry. So it’s revolutionary in the technological and political sense.
Of course, while the PUC’s residential solar-killing move directly impacts locals, it comes amid a growing global push for a clean transition to renewable energy.
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Credit: AP Photos / Charlie Neibergall / Dennis Van Tin
From left to right: Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). All three have different plans to fight climate change if elected to the presidency.
When Hillary Clinton released a fact sheet detailing her plan to fight climate change on Sunday night, her presidential campaign characterized it as “bold.” Indeed, the goals outlined in the plan are significant — a 700 percent increase in solar installations by the end of her first term, and enough renewable energy to power every home in the country within 10 years.
But not everyone thought Clinton’s plan was as bold as her campaign made it out to be. That seemingly included the campaign of her Democratic rival, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, which sent an email to reporters titled “What Real Climate Leadership Looks Like” about an hour before Clinton’s plan was scheduled to be released.
What does real climate leadership look like? According to the O’Malley campaign’s email, it looks like having a definitive position on every controversial policy in the environmental space. Arctic drilling, fracking, the Keystone XL pipeline — O’Malley’s climate plan details strong stances on all of those topics. The plan Clinton released on Sunday does not.
Clinton’s plan does include ways to achieve her stated goals in solar energy production, including awarding competitive grants to states that reduce emissions, extending tax breaks to renewable industries like solar and wind, and investing in transmission lines that can take renewable power from where it’s produced to where it’s needed for electricity. She also proposed cutting some tax breaks to fossil fuel companies to pay for her plan, though she hasn’t proposed eliminating them completely like Sanders and O’Malley have. Vox’s Brad Plumer called Clinton’s goals “certainly feasible in principle, but the gritty details will matter a lot.”
Of course, many presidential candidates haven’t fully fleshed out their policy strategies yet — Clinton, for her part, has acknowledged that Sunday’s release represented only the “first pillar” of announcements about climate and energy. By contrast, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) — her main contender for the Democratic nomination — hasn’t formally released a climate policy plan yet. But he haspublicly stated his positions on many of the mosthot-buttonenvironmentalissues, including some that Clinton has not yet addressed.
With all that in mind, here’s a look at what voters can expect from each of those three Democratic presidential candidates when it comes to tackling climate change, based on their public statements and official plans so far.
Credit: Graphic by Dylan Petrohilos
It’s worth noting that this checklist isn’t definitive. Just because Sanders has said he supports many of these policies doesn’t necessarily mean he will include them in his official climate plan when and if he releases one. And just because Clinton hasn’t included some of these issues in her current plan doesn’t mean she won’t (or will) in the future.
It’s also worth mentioning that just because O’Malley has included all of these things in his climate plan doesn’t mean he’ll be able to achieve them. His plan leans steeply to the left of even the Obama administration’s climate strategy, which the Republican-led Congress is fighting tooth-and-nail to dismantle.
That a Democratic presidential nominee might have a difficult time achieving their climate goals, however, can be said about any of the candidates — especially considering the fact that more than 56 percent of current congressional Republicans don’t believe climate change exists at all. For environmentalists and climate hawks, that may mean that the candidate with the most aggressive goals represents the safest option.
Now the Koch brothers are coming after my solar panels.
I had solar panels installed on the roof of our Washington, D.C. home this year. My household took advantage of a generous tax incentive from the District government and a creative leasing deal offered by the solar panel seller.
Our electric bills fell by at least a third. When people make this choice, the regional electric company grows less pressured to spend money to expand generating capacity and the installation business creates good local jobs. Customers who use solar energy also reduce carbon emissions.
Yes, according to ALEC, an organization that specializes in getting the right-wing agenda written into state laws, people like me who invest in energy-efficiency and shrinking our carbon footprints ought to be penalized.
Why does ALEC want us punished? Since it’s bankrolled by, among others, the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, it’s hard not to surmise that they’re worried about a threat to fossil fuels businesses. Koch Industries’ operations include refineries, oil and natural gas pipelines, and petrochemicals
That’s no conspiracy theory. Recently the British newspaper The Guardian wrote about the assault on solar panels as part of a broader exposé on ALEC.
John Eick, the legislative analyst for ALEC’s energy, environment and agriculture program, confirmed to The Guardian that the organization would support making solar panel users pay extra for the electricity they generate. That’s already about to happen in Arizona, where homeowners who use solar panels will pay an average of about $5 extra a month for the privilege, starting in January.
The solar power industry called the new rule a victory only because power companies in the state were demanding assessments of as much as $100 a month — more than high enough to deter families from considering switching to solar.
Making solar energy cost-prohibitive for homeowners and businesses is part of a larger ALEC objective, affirmed at its recent annual meeting, to continue its effort to eliminate state renewable energy mandates.
According to meeting minutes, ALEC has already succeeded in getting legislation introduced in 15 states to “reform, freeze, or repeal their state’s renewable mandate.” ALEC lobbyists are pushing policies through states that will speed up climate change and increase pollution. They’re threatening the renewable energy industry, which is already creating new jobs and saving money for homeowners and businesses.
Without the current policy paralysis in Washington and a lack of bold, creative thinking about how to build a new, green economy at the national level, they wouldn’t be making so much headway.
My organization, Institute for America’s Future — together with the Center for American Progress and the BlueGreen Alliance — recently published a report that shows what’s at stake with ALEC’s destructive agenda.
Our “green industrial revolution” report recommends tying together a series of regional solutions that take advantage of the unique assets of each part of the country, such as the abundance of sun in the West and the wind off the Atlantic coast, into a cohesive whole.
These regional strategies would be supported by smart federal policies, such as establishing a price for carbon emissions and a national clean energy standard, creating certainty and stability in the alternative energy tax credit market, and providing strong support for advanced energy manufacturing.
This is the way to unleash the kind of innovation and job creation our economy — and our rapidly warming planet — desperately needs.
My solar panels are the envy of my block and I wish more of my neighbors will be able to make the same choice I did. But they won’t if fossil-fuel dinosaurs like the Koch brothers and right-wing organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council keep casting their dark clouds on efforts to build a clean energy future.
It’s time for them to step aside and let the sun shine in.
Isaiah J. Poole is the editor of OurFuture.org, the website of the Campaign for America’s Future. OurFuture.org. Photo credit to: Brookhaven National Laboratory/Flickr, Distributed via OtherWords. OtherWords.org
On the Sabotage of Democracy by Bill Moyers "At least let’s name this for what it is, sabotage of the democratic process. Secession by another means. And let’s be clear about where such reckless ambition leads."
At the UN, a Latin American Rebellion by Laura Carlsen "Without a doubt, the 68th UN General Assembly will be remembered as a watershed. What failed to make the headlines, however, could have the longest-term significance of all: the Latin American rebellion."
Libyan Captive Faces Interrogation Aboard Floating US ‘Black Site’ by Sarah Lazare "The detention and interrogation of a Libyan captive and suspected al Qaeda operative aboard a Navy warship in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea is prompting concerns about an Obama administration policy of using floating ‘black sites’ to deny legal rights."
A Rationality Shutdown by Robert C. Koehler "In an agony of stupidity, the government shuts down. Only some of it shuts down, of course. The part that stays open is the part that’s at war."
Supreme Court Hears Case That Could ‘Empower Super-Rich to Buy Elections’ by Andrea Germanos "The outcome of a case dubbed the next Citizens United could bring ‘a rise in corruption both as the public understands the term – meaning the entire political system will shift still more to favor the super-rich – and as the Supreme Court defines it – meaning quid pro quo corruption,’ said Robert Weissman."
by Henry Decker, The National Memo The government shutdown has been a “jaw-dropping” disaster for the Republican Party, leaving it with historically low levels of support, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.
Do you know about “net zero”? That’s the wonky phrase attached to an elegant idea: converting communities to total renewable energy, complete recycling, and a culture of conservation to bring humankind’s carbon footprint into a sustainable balance with a healthy earth.
Now, imagine the last place you’d expect this ideal to take root…and even flourish. How about an Army base? In Texas? Well, astonishingly enough, the Army is pioneering America’s net-zero future. Fort Bliss, a sprawling military base accommodating 35,000 soldiers in El Paso, is one of our armed forces’ leading hotbeds of energy conservation and creativity.
The post already has a 1.4-megawatt solar array and has placed rooftop solar panels on enough base housing to generate 13.4-megawatts of energy. It’s partnering with El Paso Electric to add a 200-acre, 20-megawatt solar farm by 2015. The base’s managers plan to convert its own waste into energy. Oh, and it’s engaged in wind power, geothermal, and conservation projects while promoting energy-efficient vehicles and building bicycle lanes.
The Army! Who knew they cared?
At Fort Bliss, the rank and file, as well as the brass, are committed to achieving the goal of net zero by 2018. By that date, the base is supposed to generate all of the energy it uses — solely relying on renewable alternatives. Fort Hood, in Killeen, Texas, aims to get there by 2020.
The troops have earned their green stripes by planting nearly 15,000 trees and embracing recycling. To encourage the latter, base commander Gen. Dana Pittard has invested the revenue from recycling into skate parks, gyms, and other morale-boosting recreation projects.
“Everybody is getting involved,” he says, noting that the effort is changing behavior and fostering a conservation culture, which he hopes “our soldiers will then take with them when they go on.”
There’s hope for the Earth when even the Army begins to care, take action, and change attitudes.
OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown. OtherWords.org Ribbon-cutting photo from USACE HQ/Flickr