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Attention Jeb Bush: America's Transition to a Renewable Energy Economy Is Already Underway

Politics

During a town hall meeting on Thursday, former Governor of the Sunshine State and presidential candidate Jeb Bush acknowledged that “I do think we’re going to get to a renewable energy economy” but that we were still waiting on “the disruptive technologies” to be invented to get us there.

Bush went on say that "there’s someone in a garage somewhere … there’s someone in a dorm in a college that’s about ready to say I’m bored to tears and I’m going to go reinvent the wheel. There is someone that is preparing to disrupt the old order in energy.”

Watch the video here:

What Bush fails to recognize is the fact that Americans are already feeling the impacts of climate change and Citigroup estimates that failing to address climate change would cost the global economy as much as $44 trillion by 2060.

Fortunately, the transition to a clean energy economy is already underway—and we don’t have to wait for a man in a garage or a college student in a dorm to build our clean energy future.

Nationally, we are seeing clean energy starting to compete head-to-head with fossil fuels—and win. In the first half of 2015, renewable energy accounts for more than two-thirds of new electricity generation capacity across the U.S. In the key presidential state of Iowa, wind already supplies more than 28 percent of the state's electricity—and data shows that the state could increase to more than 40 percent in the next five years.

All across this country the clean energy revolution is already happening. The fact is the tens of thousands of people who work in wind and solar know that we don’t have to wait for clean energy technology to be invented. The American people and business are doing their part—now we need leaders like Jeb Bush to step up and embrace the solutions that we know already exist and will accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy.

Increasing renewable energy is translating to real savings for consumers. According to a recent analysis by DBL Investors, the average retail electricity price in leading renewables states is 5 percent lower than the price in the states that are furthest behind. The solar expansion has spread beyond the usual suspects, with states like North Carolina and Texas, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York included among the 10 states with the most solar installations last year. Likewise, Midwestern states like Iowa and South Dakota are leading the nation in wind generation market share, getting more than 25 percent of their in-state energy from wind. As renewables approach cost parity with fossil fuels, and in many cases become less expensive, electric utilities are learning how to integrate more and more clean sources into regular operations. For example, in 2015 Austin Energy recorded the lowest bids ever seen for a utility solar solicitation when it received 1,200 megawatts of solar bids for less than 4 cents/kilowatt hour.

NextGen Climate is calling on Bush to acknowledge that the transition to clean energy is already underway and lay out a concrete plan to accelerate this transition and achieve more than 50 percent clean energy by 2030.

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

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At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.