Skip to content Skip to site navigation

Contributors

Comments

Buying Local Solar Makes Florida City a World Leader

“It’s the only time I’ve done a rate increase when nobody was opposed,” says Ed Regan of the Gainesville utility’s feed-in tariff for solar power.  The program, launched in 2009, has resulted in nearly 15 megawatts of new, local solar energy generation on or near buildings in the northeast Florida town, enough to make it one of the leading communities in per capita solar worldwide.  The program is open to participation by anyone in Gainesville, with the utility buying all solar energy in the program on a fixed price, 20-year contract. It all started about ten years ago, when Pegeen …

Read more: Uncategorized

Comments

U.S. bike-sharing fleet more than doubles in 2013

Today's opening of the San Francisco Bay Area bikeshare brings the combined fleet of shared bikes in the United States above 18,000, more than a doubling since the start of the year. The United States is now home to 34 modern bike-sharing programs that allow riders to easily make short trips on two wheels without having to own a bicycle. With a number of new programs in the works and planned expansions of existing programs, the U.S. fleet is set to double again by the end of 2014, at which point nearly 37,000 publicly shared bicycles will roll the streets.

U.S. Bike-Sharing Fleet, 2012-2014The largest bikeshare in the United States is in New York City, where some 6,000 bicycles are available at 332 stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The program opened at the end of May 2013, and in less than three months hit 2 million trips. On busy days, each bike gets checked out seven times or more, a remarkably high borrowing rate. The city ultimately hopes to expand the program to other boroughs and grow to 10,000 bikes.

Comments

I have a great world dream

Filed under: federal, Climate Change, home When I visit Washington, DC my favorite place to hang out is the Lincoln Memorial.  With the great statue of Lincoln overlooking the mall, his great words inscribed into the walls on either side, it is one of the capital’s most inspiring places. Great words have been spoken there too, none more memorable than Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech to the 1963 March on Washington 50 years ago today. King dared to hold out a higher aspiration when he said, “I have a dream that one day this nation will …

Read more: Uncategorized

Comments

Drill next door: Here’s what it looks like when fracking moves in

When my wife and I pulled into a relative’s subdivision in Frederick, Colo., after a wedding on a recent weekend, it was a surprise to suddenly find a 142-foot-tall drill rig in the backyard, parked in the narrow strip of land between there and the next subdivision to the east. It had appeared in the two days we'd been gone.

The 142 foot derrick looms over homes in Eagle Valley.
Erik Hoffner

This couple hundred grassy acres, thick with meadowlarks and bisected by a creek crowded with cattail, bulrush, willow, and raccoon tracks, sits atop the DJ Basin shale deposit. Our folks hadn't known that when they bought the property last year, nor did they recall any useful notice that this new industrial neighbor was moving in.

We witnessed the increasing phenomenon of rigs popping up in suburban neighborhoods like mushrooms overnight. The craze of the gas rush means that companies won't hesitate to drill wherever shale deposits lie -- even if they're under a school or a subdivision. The message to homeowners in towns big and small alike seems to be: You are on notice. The ills of fracking that were once viewed as a rural concern — contamination of air and water, noise pollution, reduced safety on roads jammed with heavy trucks -- are coming to your backyard, too.

Comments

Marching on DC for Voting Rights, Racial Justice and Climate Action

On April 4, 1967, exactly a year before he was killed, Dr. King named ‘materialism’ as one of the deadly triplets afflicting America: ‘When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.’ “At that point, he did not yet know how deadly to all of Earth materialist greed would become—the materialist greed of giant corporations selling fossil fuels the way a cabal of drug lords would sell their deadly drugs. And, like other drug lords, using their wealth and power to …

Read more: Uncategorized

Comments

Non-panel costs make a bigger difference as solar energy gets cheap

Last week’s graphic on the impact of local permitting on the cost of solar power was a big hit, so here’s a follow-up on “soft costs,” the expenses in a solar installation (including permitting) that are not the solar module.  The chart compares the soft costs in the U.S. to Germany (thanks to LBNL’s analysis), where these cost are much lower.  The soft costs reductions attributable to the much larger solar market in Germany have already been accounted for and the chart shows those that are the result of other factors.

Read more: Uncategorized

Comments

Rising Temperature, Rising Food Prices

By Lester R. Brown Agriculture as it exists today developed over 11,000 years of rather remarkable climate stability. It has evolved to maximize production within that climate system. Now, suddenly, the climate is changing. With each passing year, the agricultural system is becoming more out of sync with the climate system. In generations past, when there was an extreme weather event, such as a monsoon failure in India, a severe drought in Russia, or an intense heat wave in the U.S. Corn Belt, we knew that things would shortly return to normal. But today there is no “normal” to return …

Read more: Uncategorized

Comments

Do frightened grasshoppers increase carbon storage in grasslands?

Filed under: grasslands, NBI, biocarbon, carbon, natural systems Do frightened grasshoppers increase carbon storage in grasslands?  It appears the answer is yes, according to Yale Forestry School research that shows grasslands where grasshoppers are afraid of being eaten by spiders retain more carbon. But the reason for this phenomenon might not be what you think. The Yale team examined carbon storage in controlled settings where grasshoppers were alone, and others in which they had to contend with spiders. The researchers reported in a recent Proceedings of the National Academies of Science article that “up to 1.4-fold more carbon is retained in …

Read more: Uncategorized

Comments

Local Permitting Makes a Bigger Difference as Solar Gets Cheap

Going solar keeps getting cheaper, but most of the cost savings have come from less expensive solar panels.  “Soft costs,” like permitting and inspections, are a rising share of the cost of a solar installation.  Several years ago, these permits could increase the cost of a residential solar project (then around $8.00 per Watt) by 5-10% , highlighted in a 2010 study by Sunrun. But as solar gets cheaper, permitting is going to be a much bigger problem. A recent analysis by Lawrence Berkeley Labs [pdf] illustrates the benefits of streamlining solar permitting rules: it can cut the cost of …

Read more: Uncategorized

Comments

Environmental Justice Activists Look to Close Big Polluter’s Loopholes

A loophole is a polluter's best friend -- and today, community activists from fenceline communities traveled to Washington, D.C., to try and close one of them. These concerned citizens were in Washington to talk to the Obama administration about updates to the so-called "startup, shutdown, malfunction" rule for industrial facilities, including coal plants and refineries. Existing loopholes in many states allow big polluters to skirt responsibility for huge blasts of toxic emissions that sometimes happen when a facility is starting up, shutting down, or experiencing a malfunction. For polluters that put the bottom line before the well-being of neighboring communities, …

Read more: Uncategorized