Category Archives: fossil fuels

US Senate says climate change not caused by humans

Thank you SAFE member, Nancy Gilberg, for pointing out this story. It’s disturbing that so many elected officials don’t understand basic science.

From Sean Cockerham, McClatchy Washington Bureau:

The Senate rejected the scientific consensus that humans are causing climate change, days after NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared 2014 the hottest year ever recorded on Earth.

The Republican-controlled Senate defeated a measure Wednesday stating that climate change is real and that human activity significantly contributes to it. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, offered the measure as the Senate debated the Keystone XL pipeline, which would tap the carbon-intensive oil sands in the Canadian province of Alberta.

The Senate voted 50-49 on the measure, which required 60 votes in order to pass.

“Only in the halls of Congress is this a controversial piece of legislation,” Schatz said.

Read more.

Inhofe is greeted by a reporter

JONATHAN ERNST | REUTERS
U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) (C) is greeted by a reporter as he arrives for the weekly Senate Republican caucus luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington January 13, 2015.

 

Obama Just Got Very Good News About His Environmental Policies From A Federal Court

Two bits of good news in the West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency case (where the EPA is being charged with breaking the law when it sought to lower greenhouse gas emissions from coal plants). There is still no guarantee that the EPA will win, but the environmental community was happy to hear that two of the three judges who will hear the case are Democratic appointees. The parties that members of a judicial panel belong to has been shown in other cases to make a great deal of difference, especially for judges on the DC Circuit. EPA opponents also sought a delay, but were not granted it (a delay would have meant the emissions could have gone on for years).

CREDIT: AP PHOap_678899868516-1024x687TO/PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS

“​At the very least, the fact that Democrats enjoy a majority on the West Virginia panel suggests that the EPA rules will not receive the same questionable treatment that Obamacare received in the Halbig case. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the EPA will prevail in the DC Circuit — or that the Supreme Court will not get involved if it does. But the environmental community undoubtedly breathed a sigh of relief when they saw the identity of the judges assigned to this case.​​”

Read more.

Look at this wonderful blog post from the National Wildlife Federation…

The survival of many species has been challenged by climate change. It’s really good news to hear that the National Wildlife Foundation is not only advocating for all the species gone (and all those that still may yet be lost), but also for renewable energy power sources as a possible solution for global warming/species extinction. A replacement by renewable energy sources of fossil fuels could completely change the mix that is destroying our planet.

From National Wildlife Foundation contributor, Amber Hewitt:

On Thursday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker will give his State of the Commonwealth address. He’ll reflect on the successes and challenges of 2015 and lay out his vision for the year ahead. Given the highly anticipated energy debate unfolding on Beacon Hill, we’ll be listening extra closely to his words on the Commonwealth’s energy challenges. There is no shortage of debate surrounding which energy sources should power our economy into the future. Gov. Baker’s words will underscore where his Administration stands in the critical energy conversation underway.

Read more.

national wildlife federation

IS NET METERING REALLY A THREAT FOR UTILITIES?

​This ​blog post is from 2014, but explains in detail why there is currently so much controversy over raising the upper limits on how much the utilities have to pay back to consumers who have solar installations on their homes/companies (“net metering”). Energy from solar power is becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. The utilities claim that this causes them to lose revenue, and to pay for their general expenses, they’ll have to pass higher rates on to consumers who don’t have solar panels. The Koch brothers, Edison Electric, and other groups that represent the industry side of the utility business have gone so far as to say solar homeowners should be taxed for the utilities’ lost revenue. However, this article makes the case for raising the caps on net metering, and thereby incentivize the solar industry to expand even more.

From contributor Evan Leonard​ in​ The Artisan Blog (for Artisan Electric)​, June 23, 2014:

Argument #1: Rooftop solar causes utilities to lose revenue and pass those costs to non-solar ratepayers.

Several studies have come out over the last few years proving this claim to be false. Studies in California, New York, Vermont and Texas all show that utilities actually make money in the long run when their ratepayers install solar, and do not shift costs to non-solar ratepayers even in the short term.

Argument #2: Too much solar creates an unstable grid.

Again, the opposite turns out to be true. In fact, net metering policies create a smoother demand curve for electricity and allow utilities to better manage their peak electricity loads. By encouraging generation near the point of consumption, net metering also reduces the strain on distribution systems and prevents losses in long-distance electricity transmission and distribution.

Read the original blog post.

eversource bidirectional meter

(diagram from Eversource)

Environmental Damage Is Bad Enough To Create A New Geologic Period

There has been scientific debate for more than ten years if the changes humans have been making to the planet actually comprise a new name-worthy geologic time period. A new study indicates that is indeed so.

From ThinkProgress.org contributor Alejandro Davila Fragoso on 1/7/16:

Waters and other authors of the study — which gathered data from multiple other studies — said the amount of data available identifies various so-called signatures that can be found worldwide in a similar time and scale. This makes the case for the Anthropocene and its proposed starting date compelling, some authors said.

“It’s the things like the novel materials we’ve seen in the last 60 years,” said Waters, a principal geologist at the British Geological Survey. “It’s the way that the atmospheric geochemistry, the CO2 and the methane (have) changed dramatically in the last 60 years. It’s the general contamination from nitrates and phosphates, heavy metals, all the things that we looked at seem to show a very dramatic change in the mid 20th century.”

Read more.

climate-timeline7-816x228

Graph based on data from the U.S. Geological Survey. CREDIT: DYLAN PETROHILOS

​Utilities under pressure to fix leaky gas pipes

​This story by Christian M. Wade​,​ Statehouse Reporter​, was printed in the 12/26/15 edition of the Salem News. ​​Representative Lori ​Ehrlich file​d​ ​a ​bill to prevent utilities from passing ​the ​bulk of costs​ of gas leaks​ on to ratepayers​. ​A Harvard University study​ revealed that the cost of these leaks is $90,000,000 a year. Also, the effect of​ natural gas escaping into the atmosphere contributes to climate change, since methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.​

BOSTON — Utilities are under growing pressure from lawmakers and environmental groups to plug tens of thousands of leaks in aging underground gas pipelines, some of which are decades old.
An interactive map of leaks[NOTE: as reported by th​​e​ various​​​ local utilit​ies​ on ​2/26/2015​] throughout the state posted by a Cambridge nonprofit group, the Home Energy Efficiency Team, pinpoints tends of thousands of leaks, some of them major. The map uses data provided by National Grid, Eversource, Columbia Gas and other providers.
A law passed last year requires the utilities to track and grade all gas leaks on a scale of 1 to 3, with 1 being most serious, and immediately repair the most hazardous. The law also requires utilities to share the information with the public.
Read more.

2-26-15 map of gas leaks in Salem MA

The map of leaks in Salem, as reported by th​​e​ local utilit​y​ on ​2/26/2015​. Go to HEET’s website (Home Energy Efficiency Team) for a more detailed look at Salem’s map, and those of other communities.

5 Climate And Clean Energy Charts From 2015 You Need To See

It’s good to finally start hearing some good news about the climate. The big question, of course, is if we can make enough of a difference in time to prevent catastrophic climate change. Note that a few of these charts do not bear good news.

Think Progress contributor Joe Romm, on 

My candidate for the top solutions chart of the year comes from a November DOE report, “Revolution…Now The Future Arrives for Five Clean Energy Technologies.” It shows the stunning progress core clean energy technologies have made in the last several years as accelerated deployment created economies of scale and brought technologies rapidly down the learning curve.

doe-revolutionnow-638x246

See the rest of the charts.

Fossil Fuel Stocks Tumble, Renewable Energy Stocks Soar

From Common Dreams contributor, Lauren McCauley on December 16, 2015; an almost immediate reaction on the Stock Market the day after the climate agreement:

Fossil fuel stocks tumbled while renewable energy soared on Monday, the first day of trading after global leaders cemented their landmark climate pact in Paris.

Under the agreement, countries have pledged to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to keep global warming beneath 1.5 degrees Celsius. And it is clear the fossil fuel industry is feeling the heat…

…“Pace is now the key word for climate,” said 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben after the agreement was finalized. “Not where we’re going, but how fast we’re going there. Pace—velocity, speed, rate, momentum, tempo. That’s what matters from here on in.”

solar_cop21_750

Caption: The first day of trading after global leaders cemented their landmark climate pact in Paris, it is clear the fossil fuel industry is feeling the heat. Photo credit: Pieter Morlion / Flickr

[Read the entire article]

Dolores Jordan, First Lady of Derby Street

SALEM — She’s the “First Lady of Derby Street,” and Derby Street is coming together to celebrate her legacy of protecting and cementing the community’s history in the Witch City.

The Salem Alliance for the Environment (SAFE) will celebrate the legacy of Dolores Jordan on Tuesday, Nov. 10 at the Hawthorne Hotel ballroom.

Jordan, 86, is a lifelong Salem resident, born and raised in the home she lives in at the corner of Derby and White streets.

When she was born, Derby was home to the city’s Polish community, Jordan said. Today, it’s a busy throughway connecting downtown Salem to Route 1A with vibrant wharves, impressive views of the ocean and a rich awareness of its maritime history.

The First Lady of Derby Street played a heavy hand in that, even if the Derby Street she knew as a child no longer exists.

Born and raised in Polish Salem

“My parents bought this house in 1912,” Jordan said, sitting out on a back porch overlooking her garden. “I was born a few years after that, and our family has lived here up to now.”

Jordan was born to Polish parents; in fact, her father owned a store that much of the city’s Polish community centered around.

It was a hard-working community, one that didn’t have access to things such as transportation to get to work, according to Jordan. Read more.

Obama Announces Carbon Regs to Address Climate Change

Skystacky Today, President Obama released his Clean Power Plan, a first-of-its-kind plan to cut carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants. The effort to limit carbon from power plants was lead by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who lead a similar effort in Massachusetts that forced the clean up of Massachusetts coal plants.

According to the Center for American Progress:

The Clean Power Plan is the most ambitious action yet taken in the United States to slow global warming, and is a key part of the president’s strategy in the global fight against climate change. A draft version of the plan was released last summer and the final version responds to more than 4.3 million comments from states, utilities, communities, and more. Here are a few key things to know about the finalized rule:

  • 40 percent: Carbon-dioxide pollution is the leading contributor to climate change and power plants produce the largest amount of carbon-dioxide emissions in the United States, making up about 40 percent of all carbon pollution in the country.
  • 32 percent: Under the finalized version of the Clean Power Plan, states will be required to reduce carbon pollution by 32 percent from 2005 levels—a nine percent increase from the previous target.
  • $93 billion: The projected benefits far outweigh the costs of implementing the plan. The Clean Power Plan will lead to climate and health benefits of up to $93 billion by 2030.
  • $85: The average American family will see annual savings of $85 on their energy bill in 2030, and between 2020 and 2030 consumers will save a total of $155 billion.
  • 3,600: By 2030, the reduction in power plant pollution will prevent up to 3,600 premature deaths a year.
  • 870 million: When the Clean Power Plan is fully in place in 2030, there will be 870 million tons less carbon pollution—that is the equivalent of the annual emissions of more than 166 million cars, or 70 percent of cars in the country.

Read the full Center for American Progress analysis here.