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Big Victory for Public Health – Court Upholds Mercury, Toxic Air Pollution Protections

On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld limits on dangerous emissions of mercury and toxic air pollution from power plants. This was a big victory for clean air, clean water, and the health of our families. The court decision keeps in place the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2012 Mercury and Air Toxics (MATS) standard, which is on track to eliminate as much as 90 percent of the mercury and air toxics currently released into our air by coal-fired power plants. As the mom of a young daughter, I know that mercury pollution is of special …

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Top Five Earth Day Presents

What do you get Mother Earth on her big day (reminder: it’s April 22nd!)? She’s just so hard to shop for and, after all, she already has everything. She might appreciate one of those self-help books, although few moms want a gift that implies they are fat or “polluted”, but aren’t her kids the reason she might be feeling worn out and depleted in the first place? Well, here are the Top Five Tips to help you pick out something in her size and color that might just brighten her coming year: 5. A new U.S. Congress. OK, so you’ll …

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A Big Question for ‘Solar Choice’

future of solar policy ILSR 2014-0409 copy

Two weeks ago, Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission ratified the first-ever statewide policy for setting a fair and transparent price on solar energy. This week, a coalition of companies that provide leasing contracts for solar to home and business customers declared war on this “value of solar” policy, and pretty much every financial model for compensating solar energy producers that isn’t net metering. As I’ll outline below, this position by “The Alliance for Solar Choice (a.k.a. solar leasing companies like SolarCity)” leaves one enormous unanswered question. What’s Happening Right Now Distributed solar power production is under fire. In nearly 1 of …

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More protests against Peabody Coal from students and frontline communities

Students at Washington University in St. Louis are in day three of a sit in to protest their University’s relationship with Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private sector coal company. Caroline Burney, a Senior at Washington University, explains in Why we’re sitting in at WashU (And we’re not leaving): In St. Louis, Peabody ingratiates itself to the local community by posing as a benefactor of the arts, charitable corporate ‘citizen,’ and hero tackling “energy poverty.” It all sounds pretty good until you realize that Peabody Energy is the world’s largest private sector coal corporation whose business model propagates climate change …

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World Wind Power Poised to Bounce Back after Slowing in 2013

By J. Matthew Roney At the end of 2013, the wind farms installed in more than 85 countries had a combined generating capacity of 318,000 megawatts, which would be enough to meet the residential electricity needs of the European Union’s 506 million people. New data from the Global Wind Energy Council show that wind developers built 35,000 megawatts of new generating capacity worldwide in 2013. This was down from 45,000 megawatts installed in 2012—marking only the second time in 25 years that installed capacity increased by less than it did the year before. The principal reason for the decline in …

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Can a Fair Price for Solar Energy Win Over Utilities?

Solar panels in Minnesota
Michael Hicks

In March 2014, Minnesota became the first state to adopt a “value of solar” policy to set a fair, transparent price on solar energy. It may serve as a national precedent and fundamentally change the financial relationship between electric utilities and their energy-producing customers. So what will value of solar mean for utility customers producing power with solar? The Value Of Solar Concept The basic concept behind value of solar is that utilities should pay a transparent and market-based price for solar energy. The value of solar energy is based on: Avoiding the purchase of energy from other, polluting sources …

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Citi takes energy efficiency all the way to the bank

citibank
Shutterstock

Disclosure: I used to crawl under trailers in poor parts of Western Colorado in a suit made from air-mail envelope material. I wasn’t being a weirdo, at least not intentionally. I had a job as a “weatherization technician,” making these homes more energy efficient, working for the government’s catastrophically acronymed LIHEAP program (for Low Income Household Energy Assistance Program, but still, guys, come on). It was hard work. We had little funding. And the program is now defunct. And yet, that very work is exactly what we ought to be undertaking at huge scale to help solve climate change.

Well, 20 years after I worked those trenches, I have some good news to deliver. Quietly, in the recesses of the financial machine, we've begun to do just that. Few know about it. But you should.

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Can You “Reduce Methane Emissions” with an “All of the Above” Strategy?

The short answer: no. On March 28th the White House released a 15-page document entitled, “Climate Action Plan – Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions.” Here’s the first paragraph: “Reducing methane emissions is a powerful way to take action on climate change [true]; and putting methane to use can support local economies with a source of clean energy [false; it’s not clean] that generates revenue, spurs investment, improves safety and leads to cleaner air [“cleaner” but not “clean”]. President Obama directed the Administration to develop a comprehensive interagency strategy to cut methane emissions.” It’s a good thing that there is some …

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The Democratizing Promise of Energy Storage

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Pete Slater

While energy storage is a small fraction of total power generation capacity, promising examples suggest that distributed energy storage could change the electricity system during the next decade as fundamentally as distributed renewable energy has in the last decade. Right now, 95% of energy storage in the U.S. is water pumped uphill into in reservoirs, but there are at least four applications that show how energy storage can complement renewables and offer more local control of the energy system. Where Storage and Renewables Meet As highlighted in a new report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, there are four areas …

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Climate Change Cowards

Overheard at the water cooler this week: Tom: Sally, did you know we can solve climate change for as little as $35 per person? Sally: I’m afraid that’s a waste of my money, Tom. Tom: But what if a polluter gave you the $35 and you could buy things like LED lights that saved you hundreds of dollars over the next decade? Sally: But Tom, I’d be afraid of looking like a fool when we discover that climate change isn’t real. Tom: So in summary, you’re not interested in saving money and making the world more sustainable …because you’re afraid? …

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