Good news department. Pushed by the need to beat a December 31 deadline for federal subsidies, in 2012 the wind power industry is on track to install more wind turbines than will be added for natural gas generation. By Nov. 30 the installed wind turbine capacity this year was 6,519 megawatts compared to 6,335 megawatts of natural gas additions, and more than double those of coal. Clean energy advocates are hoping that the wind power tax credits will be extended for another four years.
In a move that will protect nearly 11 million acres of important wildlife habitat, on Dec. 19 the Department of Interior today released the Final Environmental Impact Statement for its plan to manage the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska in the western Arctic. The Reserve is the country’s largest and wildest piece of public land and includes many areas vital for wildlife and Native communities. Under the administration’s management plan, oil and gas leasing on 11.8 million acres of the Reserve will be balanced with conservation of important wildlife areas. (more…)
On Dec 20, the day after announcing protection of wildlife in Alaska, the White House announced that President Obama would add nearly 3,000 square miles to the National Marine Sanctuary system, almost tripling the protected area off the California coast. This latest designation — covering the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank along the Sonoma and Mendocino coasts north of San Francisco — will protect this biologically rich area from offshore oil and gas drilling and allow for public uses, such as fishing. The Sierra Club has been working to protect this area for many years. Public comments on the expansion can be submitted HERE.
Following concerns about possible contamination of eastern Texas land, a Texas Court Judge last week issued a temporary restraining order and injunction against TransCanada, the oil company behind the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Other suits in the legal hopper are based on improper land condemnation by TransCanada. In a related action, Susan Rice withdrew from consideration of Secretary of State, thereby removing a possible conflict of issue over her holding of stock in companies backing the Keystone XL. Finally, a Brigadier General blasts the Keystone XL and its diversion of public will away from development of renewable energy sources.
We might believe that solar, wind, and conservation are the best alternatives to burning fossil fuels, but since the Seventies scientists have explored algae as a useful source of energy. Quite simply, oil is squeezed from green algae scum that is scooped off the surface of large ponds. In 2010 a government lab estimated that algae could replace 17 pct of US oil imports. Last week the National Academy of Scientists issued a research report on the sustainability of this energy source. After looking at the land (pond) area required for useful volumes of oil, the amount of energy required, and the use of fertilizers, the sustainability of algal biofuels remains an open question.
If we wish to look beyond coal and to slow the heedless rush to natural gas, then the benefits and cautionary steps needed for the development of alternate and sustainable energy sources need to be properly understood. That is the goal of a set of eight articles on Wind Power published in the Fall 2012 issue of the Pennsylvania Chapter newsletter and now available.
Thinking of replacing that old 25 mpg-on-the-highway car with a plug-in electric vehicle? You might want to check the buyer’s guide to electric cars in the latest issue of the national Sierra Club magazine Sierra. In the article titled ‘Plugged In‘ the pros and cons of six electric vehicles (EVs) are compared, along with those of the Volt and Prius hybrids. Of concern to residents of Western Pennsylvania is whether relying on electricity produced at a coal-fired plant is less damaging to the environment than burning all that gasoline? (more…)
For the first time, customers of Duquesne Light have the option of 100 percent wind and solar sourced electricity under the state-run PAPowerSwitch program. Providing the option is Community Energy, Inc., (CEI) a company founded in 1999 with the mission to ignite the market and build the supply of clean, fuel-free renewable electricity. Among the company’s first institutional customers were Duquesne University and Giant Eagle. To make the switch, click HERE.
Let’s Replace Fracked Gas with Solar Power: Personal Testimonal and Two Solar Site Tours – October 13
Barbara Grover, Chair of the Allegheny Group, relates the following experience of recently installing solar panels on her home in Pittsburgh:
Go SOLAR! For nearly 10 years I’ve been thinking about putting solar panels on my home on Wilkins Avenue in Squirrel Hill. About three times during that period, I actually got as far as talking to someone at a festival about what was involved and the estimated cost. All assured me solar panels would do well in Pittsburgh, but each time the cost was beyond my budget. Last April at the Mt. Lebanon Green Festival, I tried one more time and, low and behold, the cost had decreased to about half the old estimates! (more…)
Please urge US Senator Pat Toomey to extend the wind energy Production Tax Credit for another four years.
On September 27 in Pittsburgh the union and environmental partners in the BlueGreen Alliance called for an American Energy, Infrastructure and Manufacturing (AIM) Jobs Act to promote jobs in a new green-energy based economy. At the beginning of a multi-state bus tour Rep. Mike Doyle and USW President Leo Gerard pointed out the need for investment in renewable energy, manufacturing and transportation jobs. At a later bus stop in Ohio the members of the tour called on Congress to extend the wind power Production Tax Credit.
NOTE: Wind power companies lay off workers due in large part to tax credit uncertainty.
|October 13, 2012|
|11:00 am||to||3:00 pm|
This year’s Solar Open House Tour features sixteen ‘open houses’ in Pittsburgh and at stops in Cranberry, Washington, Westmorland, Beaver, and Fayette Counties.
11:00 am- 4:00 pm, Saturday, October 13
Self-guided tour, with admission fee of $5 for Non-PenFuture members.
You’ll find something spectacular around every corner — new green homes, renovated Pittsburgh classics, backyard solar farms, and farms that use solar power completely — with stops in Cranberry, Washington, Westmoreland, Beaver, and Fayette Counties.
With required registration you will have access to an interactive Google map and Solar Tour Guidebook for your area, as well as a Guidebook App to follow the tour on your smart phone. For more information contact Sharon Pillar at [ pillar atpennfuture.org ].
Send a message urging the PUC maintain their original saving goals.
In August the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) approved moving into the second phase of the energy saving program established under Energy Savings Act of 2008 (Act 129). With this phase each utility now has its own energy savings goal, with a state-wide average of 2.3 pct over a three-year period. Unfortunately, some of the utilities are seeking to lower their goals by as much as 50 pct. Energy efficiency is one of the best ways to save money, cut energy use, and create new jobs. Pennsylvania’s state energy efficiency requirements have already saved bill payers $278 million per year on their electric bills, created over 4,000 new jobs, and greatly reduced toxic air pollution.
Royal Dutch Shell is not having much luck with its efforts to conduct exploratory oil drilling in the Arctic’s Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. Following an accident during testing, on Sept. 17 Shell announced that it will not move forward with plans to drill for oil this year. The recent accident was preceded by one in July. Known as the Polar Bear Seas, these waters are home to the entire US population of polar bears and serve as an important migration route for bowhead and beluga whales. They are also home to some of the most extreme and dangerous conditions on the planet, making drilling a risky proposition. (more…)
While those in Congress opposing extension of the wind energy tax credit may be judged small-minded, others in this world are thinking really big. In a recent paper, scientists in California suggest that “there is enough power in Earth’s winds to be a primary source of near-zero-emission electric power as the global economy continues to grow through the twenty-first century.” Moreover, their modeling showed that all those wind turbines would have only a small effect on the climates of the Earth. Sadly, they conclude with the sentence: “it seems that the future of wind energy will be determined by economic, political and technical constraints, rather than global geophysical limits.”
Click HERE and tell Secretary of State Clinton to include climate impacts in the analysis of Keystone XL project and reject this dangerous tar sands pipeline once and for all.
On September 5 the multinational company that wants to pump toxic oil from the Athabasca tar sand pits in Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico, TransCanada, announced a re-routing of the planned pipeline around the sand Hills of Nebraska. This is the latest step in the company’s effort to get permission from the US State Department to transport the dangerous crude oil across the border. Environmental groups argue that this small modification ignores the more important reasons for abandoning the project.
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