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ALEC Agenda Reveals Anti-Renewable Energy Strategies for December Summit
For the first time, ALEC posted an online agenda for its Energy, Environment and Agriculture (EEA) task force, which will meet at the States and Nation Policy Summit Dec. 4-6 in Washington D.C. The agenda is seemingly filled with resolutions aimed at slowing the growth of key elements within the renewable energy sector.
First, the group, whose members consist of natural gas companies like Koch Industries and Exxon Mobil, will consider a resolution that would encourage legislators across the country to enforce utility payments on residents who generate their own electricity and interconnect to the grid. ALEC believes those who use solar and other distributed generation (DG) systems have an unfair advantage because they get credit for energy generation through net metering.
"When net-metered customers are credited for the full retail cost of electricity, they effectively avoid paying the grid costs, and these costs for maintaining the grid then are shifted to those customers without rooftop solar or other DG systems through higher utility bills," the resolution reads.
Though a recent report from ProgressNow details failed attempts by ALEC to eliminate renewable portfolio standards throughout 2013, ALEC is calling on states to update net metering policies so that anyone who uses the grid in any way—even adding energy to it—would have to pay a fixed charge or some other rate mechanism.
The agenda also includes two resolutions with updated language to reiterate ALEC's desire to halt the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed greenhouse gas emission standards for new and existing power plants and the agency's plan to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.
"These two draft resolutions are the newest in ALEC’s ongoing work to block policy solutions to climate change, mainly by slowing down the inevitable phaseout of carbon pollution from coal plants," said Greenpeace researcher Connor Gibson. "[The emission standards resolution] includes more specific references to EPA’s New Source Performance Standards and the development of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology. ALEC member utilities will likely argue behind the scenes over this language at next month’s meeting since some ALEC members are already developing CCS, and the ALEC resolution lambasts the technology."
ALEC notes on the agenda that model policies are not official until passing its Commerce Task Force and national board of directors. Both groups have sessions scheduled before the EEA meets.
ALEC will introduce a new member on the final day of the event, America's Natarual Gas Alliance, which was partly founded by former Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon. Chesapeake Energy is also an ALEC member and known as one of the country's largest fracking companies.
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Farms with just one or a handful of different crops encourage fewer species of pollinating and pest-controlling insects to linger, ultimately winnowing away crop yields, according to a new study.
Up to half of the detrimental impacts of the "landscape simplification" that monocropping entails come as a result of a diminished mix of ecosystem service-providing insects, a team of scientists reported Oct. 16 in the journal Science Advances.
Monocrop palm oil plantation Honduras.
SHARE Foundation / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0
"Our study shows that biodiversity is essential to ensure the provision of ecosystem services and to maintain a high and stable agricultural production," Matteo Dainese, the study's lead author and a biologist at Eurac Research in Bolzano, Italy, said in a statement.
It stands to reason that, with declines in the sheer numbers of insects that ferry pollen from plant to plant and keep crop-eating pests under control, these services will wane as well. But until now, it hasn't been clear how monocultures affect the number and mix of these species or how crop yields might change as a result.
Aiming to solve these questions, Dainese and his colleagues pulled together data from 89 studies cutting across a variety of landscapes, from the tropics of Asia and Africa to the higher latitudes of northern Europe. They tabulated the number of pollinating and pest-controlling insects at these sites — both the absolute number of individuals and the number of species — along with an assessment of the ecosystem services the insects provided.
In almost all of the studies they looked at, the team found that a more diverse pool of these species translated into more pollination and greater pest control. They also showed that simplified landscapes supported fewer species of service-providing insects, which ultimately led to lower crop yields.
The researchers also looked at a third measure of the makeup of insect populations — what they called "evenness." In natural ecosystems, a handful of dominant species with many more individuals typically live alongside a higher number of rarer species. The team found as landscapes became less diverse, dominant species numbers dwindled and rare species gained ground. This resulting, more equitable mix led to less pollination (though it didn't end up affecting pest control).
"Our study provides strong empirical support for the potential benefits of new pathways to sustainable agriculture that aim to reconcile the protection of biodiversity and the production of food for increasing human populations," Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, one of the study's authors and an animal ecologist at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in the statement.
The scientists figure that the richness of pollinator species explains around a third of the harmful impacts of less diverse landscapes, while the richness of pest-controlling species accounts for about half of the same measure. In their view, the results of their research point to the need to protect biodiversity on and around crops in an uncertain future.
"Under future conditions with ongoing global change and more frequent extreme climate events, the value of farmland biodiversity ensuring resilience against environmental disturbances will become even more important," Steffan-Dewenter said.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.
Ivory Coast's rainforests have been decimated by cocoa production and what is left is put in peril by a new law that will remove legal protections for thousands of square miles of forests, according to The Guardian.
By Karin Kirk
Greenland had quite the summer. It rose from peaceful obscurity to global headliner as ice melted so swiftly and massively that many were left grasping for adjectives. Then, Greenland's profile was further boosted, albeit not to its delight, when President Trump expressed interest in buying it, only to be summarily dismissed by the Danish prime minister.
During that time I happened to be in East Greenland, both as an observer of the stark effects of climate change and as a witness to local dialogue about presidential real estate aspirations, polar bear migrations and Greenland's sudden emergence as a trending topic.
Heavy metals that may damage a developing brain are present in 95 percent of baby foods on the market. Cirou Frederic / PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections / Getty Images
Heavy metals that may damage a developing brain are present in 95 percent of baby foods on the market, according to new research from the advocacy organization Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF), which bills itself as an alliance of scientists, nonprofit organizations and donors trying to reduce exposures to neurotoxic chemicals during the first three years of development.
By Kerstin Palme
Creepy-crawlies are among the oldest life forms on this planet. Before dinosaurs ever walked the earth, insects were certainly already there. Some estimates date their origins to 400 million years ago. They're also extremely successful. Of the 7 to 8 million species documented on Earth, around three quarters are likely bugs.
But several insect species could disappear for good in the next few decades and that would have serious consequences for humans.
Volvo introduced its first-ever all-electric vehicle this week, kicking off an ambitious plan to slash emissions and phase out solely gas-powered vehicles starting this year.
The report, released Wednesday, found that almost every European who lives in a city is exposed to unhealthy air, Reuters reported.