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8 Vivid Charts – 8 Reasons for a Solar Energy Standard in Minnesota

A conference committee is resolving differences between House and (much weaker) Senate versions of a solar energy standard in Minnesota today. Here's 8 graphic reasons why the state should go for solar as aggressively as it can. 8 Vivid Charts – 8 Reasons for a Solar Energy Standard in Minnesota from John Farrell

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Keystone Pipeline Not a Big Deal — Say Interests Supported By Oil and Gas Industry

Last week, the Washington DC publication National Journal gave us the scoop, in an article entitled, "What People Close to Obama Think About the Keystone XL Pipeline": Obama-connected environmental experts "are now saying publicly what many Democratic energy and climate advisers have said more privately over the past couple of years: The Keystone XL pipeline is not that big of a deal." The National Journal article seems designed to persuade the DC policy community of the inevitability -- and maybe even the correctness -- of a decision by the Obama Administration to allow the controversial pipeline to go forward. In other words, …

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Appalachian Families Denied Clean Water Travel to Washington to Demand Action

Appalachian activists gather outside the Washington, D.C., Environmental Protection Agency office to demand an end to mountaintop removal coal mining. Elaine Tanner and her partner Jimmy Hall have both experienced, up close and personal, the destruction caused by mountaintop removal coal mining. The Kentucky natives are fighting a coal company they claim poisoned their well water. One of the company's mountaintop removal sites is right next to their home in Letcher County. "They destroyed our water," said Jimmy. "The Kentucky Department of Water tested the water of many wells in our area and found a toxic soup. They said the …

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Full Planet, Empty Plates: Chapter 2. The Ecology of Population Growth

Throughout most of human existence, population growth has been so slow as to be imperceptible within a single generation. Reaching a global population of 1 billion in 1804 required the entire time since modern humans appeared on the scene. To add the second billion, it took until 1927, just over a century. Thirty-three years later, in 1960, world population reached 3 billion. Then the pace sped up, as we added another billion every 13 years or so until we hit 7 billion in late 2011. One of the consequences of this explosive growth in human numbers is that  human demands …

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Appalachians Make Toxic Water Delivery to EPA

Over 100 people, primarily Appalachia residents, took action today at the headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C., calling for the EPA to use its powers to end mountaintop removal. 15 people, including a couple of youth no older than 10, risked arrest by sitting in front of a main entrance to EPA. They sat next to about 75 one-gallon containers of dirty and toxic water brought to DC by Appalachian residents, the kind of water produced by mountaintop removal operations. Appalachia Rising, the coalition of groups which organized the action, demanded that the EPA “sign for our …

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Will cities ever get smart about water use?

city water
wagaboodlemum

If the definition of insanity is making the same mistakes over and over, then many cities have taken a certifiable approach to securing their water supplies -- and they need some radical therapy before taking the big economic, ecological, and human hits that come with a permanent state of thirst.

Hot and Bothered - small x  200
Susie Cagle

That’s the conclusion from a new study in the journal Water Policy, whose authors compared the water supply histories of four cities -- San Diego, Phoenix, San Antonio, and Adelaide, Australia. Among the lessons learned? Urban water conservation, recycling, and desalination aren't silver bullets. In fact, the best solution may lie upstream with farmers -- saving just 5-10 percent of agricultural irrigation in upstream watersheds could satisfy a city’s entire water needs.

But the time to act is now, argues Brian Richter, a senior freshwater scientist at The Nature Conservancy and the study’s lead author -- he says a global urban water crisis is already here. Below, Richter tells us more about what cities need to do to say on the right side of dry.

Q. Many cities take a similar pattern of water development, according to your research -- going from exhausting local surface and groundwater supplies to importing water to implementing water conservation to finally recycling water or desalination. Why is this pattern unsustainable?

A. When we overuse a freshwater source, we set ourselves up for disaster. Each of the cities we reviewed in our study has contributed to the drying of a major river or important groundwater spring. That has obvious ecological impacts and social consequences -- it affects livelihoods and human health by compromising fish production, concentrating pollution, or curtailing recreational activities.

Our research is revealing that water scarcity also causes severe economic losses by limiting or disrupting agricultural, industrial, and energy production. Texas lost nearly $8 billion in agriculture last year due to water shortages; electricity generation from hydropower dams on the Colorado River in 2010 dropped by 20 percent due to water shortages. Some estimates suggest that China may be losing $39 billion each year due to crop damage and lessened industrial production, and hundreds of thousands of people around the globe are being forced to move due to water shortages.

Because these impacts are so pervasive and damaging, we need to begin investing in water supply approaches that don’t just minimize these adverse impacts but instead begin to reverse them.

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Top 5 Green Gifts for Mother’s Day

We wouldn’t be here without her. We’ll never fully appreciate the sacrifices she makes every day for our well-being. Yes, it will take a very special gift to really say “I love you, mom” to our Mother Earth. Here are the top 5 green Mother’s Day gifts that our favorite planet has recently received and which may provide you a few shopping ideas for the other moms in your life. 1.    Green energy. The town of Saint Gouéno, France, just gave Mother Earth a new Enercon 850kW wind turbine, the first of seven and the result of a clever investment …

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The Making of a New Midwestern Solar Energy Standard

Last week, a solar energy standard moved one step closer to passage in the Minnesota state legislature, with an innovative new approach to financing solar power.  It’s a powerful first step for what would be one of the more robust policies to support distributed, local solar power in the country. The policy has three key pieces, outlined below. A Solar Standard Following in the steps of 16 other states, the House version of the Minnesota bill sets a timeline for (investor-owned) utilities to add solar to their electricity mix: 0.5% of electricity sales by 2016 2.0% of electricity sales by …

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More Than One Million Actions for Climate and Clean Energy in 100 Days

This week marked six months since Superstorm Sandy, and it was also the end of our 100 Days of Action for Climate and Clean Energy, which we kicked off when President Obama began his second term. In those 100 days, more than one million Americans from across the country attended large-scale rallies and local events, signed petitions, sent letters to decision-makers and used social media to engage friends and neighbors in fighting climate disruption. I'll let Aura Vasquez, a fantastic Beyond Coal organizer in Los Angeles, tell you more in this great video about the 100 days of action. Of …

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Farmer- and family-owned wind power rises in Iowa

Iowa ranks third in installed wind power capacity in the U.S., it's 5,500 megawatts behind only Texas and California (and much higher per capita).  But like many windy places, the turbines sprouting from the Iowa prairie are often owned by multinational corporations, taking advantage of the local resource and sending the electricity revenue out of state. Iowa farmer Randy Caviness saw an opportunity to keep the value of Iowa wind local and he's helped to develop eight utility-scale wind turbines with community ownership, providing clean, local and locally owned power to municipal and rural electric utilities in southwestern Iowa. Listen …

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