Business Leaders Urge Congress to Extend Renewable Energy Tax Credit
On Sept. 18, 19 companies, including major consumer brands and several Fortune 500 firms, wrote to Congressional leaders encouraging them to extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC), a key provision supporting renewable energy.
The PTC provides a tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of renewable power generated and, if lawmakers fail to act, is set to expire in 2012. Originally signed into law by George H.W. Bush, the tax credit has helped to strengthen energy diversity, reduce reliance on fossil fuels and keep electricity costs low for homes and businesses across the country.
“For consumers of wind electricity, the economic benefits of the PTC are tremendous. The PTC has enabled the industry to slash wind energy costs—90 percent since 1980—a big reason why companies like ours are buying increasing amounts of renewable energy,” the companies wrote in their letter. “Extending the PTC lowers prices for all consumers, keeps America competitive in a global marketplace and creates homegrown American jobs.”
The signatories of the letter demonstrate how a broad cross-section of U.S. companies are increasingly relying on inexpensive and abundant American wind energy to power their businesses. The signers include: Akamai Technologies; Annie’s, Inc.; Aspen Skiing Company; Ben & Jerry’s; Clif Bar; Johnson & Johnson; Jones Lang LaSalle; Levi Strauss & Co; New Belgium Brewing; The North Face; Pitney Bowes; the Portland Trail Blazers; Seventh Generation; Sprint; Starbucks; Stonyfield Farm; Symantec; Timberland, and Yahoo!. Many of these firms are members of Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP), a project of Ceres.
Sprint, a national top 50 green power purchaser, highlighted the PTC’s importance to meeting its renewable energy goals:
“Sprint has committed to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and increase its use of renewable energy sources for electricity,” said Amy Hargroves, manager, corporate social responsibility at Sprint. “That’s why we have been actively working to meet our goal to secure 10 percent of our total electricity through renewable energy sources by 2017. We support the extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind because it has enabled companies like Sprint to make the shift to abundant, clean, and homegrown wind energy.”
Members of BICEP like New Belgium Brewing also expressed strong support for the PTC:
“New Belgium Brewing has made investing in renewable power a strategic priority because it's the right thing to do for the environment, for our business, and for clean energy employment,” said Jenn Vervier, director, strategic development and sustainability at New Belgium Brewing. “Over the past several years, we've seen clean energy job growth in our home state of Colorado and a vision for building a more resilient power grid by integrating renewables. Extending the Production Tax Credit will help to ensure that those positive trends continue across the nation.”
“The Production Tax Credit helps every business that purchases renewable power: It’s just that simple,” said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, which coordinates BICEP. “Letting the PTC expire now would increase energy costs for homes and businesses at exactly the wrong time. For Congress, the message from business leaders is clear: Extend the PTC and help us build the economy.”
Navigant Consulting estimates that extending the PTC for four additional years would result in 95,000 wind-supported jobs and $16.3 billion in investment by 2016. However, failing to immediately extend the PTC would result in the loss of more than 37,000 American jobs and $10 billion in investment in 2013.
Bolstered by the PTC, wind energy accounted for 35 percent of new electrical generation capacity installed in the past five years, and now supplies 20 percent of electricity in states like Iowa and South Dakota. From 2004 through 2011, non-hydroelectric renewable energy more than doubled and now accounts for nearly 5 percent of electricity generation in the U.S.
Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.
BICEP is an advocacy coalition of businesses committed to working with policy makers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation enabling a rapid transition to a low-carbon, 21st century economy—an economy that will create new jobs and stimulate economic growth while stabilizing our planet’s fragile climate. BICEP is a project of Ceres.
Ceres is an advocate for sustainability leadership. Ceres mobilizes a powerful coalition of investors, companies and public interest groups to accelerate and expand the adoption of sustainable business practices and solutions to build a healthy global economy. Ceres also directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a network of 100 institutional investors with collective assets totaling more than $10 trillion.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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