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Clean Energy Proponents Fight Rollbacks in Renewable Energy Policies
By Brian Foley
Earlier this year, the Louisiana Public Service Commission (PSC) abandoned new energy efficiency rules in a bid to rollback progress on clean energy and efficiency. Not only did the commission scrap a program that will help citizens across the state—they did it without hearing public comments.
Now the Sierra Club, with the help of the Alliance for Affordable Energy, Louisiana Environmental Action Network and the League of Women Voters of Louisiana, is fighting back, suing the PSC for refusing to allow public testimony before voting to ditch the energy efficiency rules—a vote that barely passed.
The PSC's questionable judgment didn't stop there. Late last month, the commission got an earful from grassroots activists and entrepreneurs when it weighed the idea of overturning the state's solar net metering. The commission promptly passed on the ill-advised idea.
"Louisiana has the best solar tax credits program in the country," said Jordan Macha, Sierra Club Louisiana representative. "The Sierra Club, the Alliance for Affordable Energy and other industry and consumer groups generated 750 calls and letters in one week to commissioners. The support for net metering was overwhelming and the commissioner who wanted it overturned backed off and decided to hold off on the vote."
Later in the week, the focus turned to New Orleans, where the city council hosted a public hearing on their proposed Integrated Resource Management Plan, which develops a long-term energy strategy for the city under the purview Entergy New Orleans, the city's only energy utility provider.
"The plan seriously lacked energy efficiency and renewables as part of the city's long-term energy portfolio. The council should prioritize the access to energy efficiency for all, as well as including cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels," said Macha.
The coalition helped push a turnout of nearly 80 people with 45 people commenting to the city council about the need for more renewables.
"What we’re seeing is a surge in support for clean energy, not just among environmentalists, but also business leaders, the faith community, and families who'd rather get energy from clean sources that are cost effective instead of dirty fuels that make people sick," Macha said.
Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.
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By Jake Johnson
As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.
Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.
AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
The last four members of an embattled wolf pack were killed in Washington State Friday, hours before the court order that could have saved them.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.
By Randi Spivak
Slashing two national monuments in Utah may have received the most attention, but Trump's Interior Department and U.S. Forest Service have been quietly, systematically ceding control of America's public lands to fossil fuel, mining, timber and livestock interests since the day he took office.
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By Sue Branford and Thais Borges
Ola Elvestrun, Norway's environment minister, announced Thursday that it is freezing its contributions to the Amazon Fund, and will no longer be transferring €300 million ($33.2 million) to Brazil. In a press release, the Norwegian embassy in Brazil stated:
Gina Lopez, a former Philippine environment secretary, philanthropist and eco-warrior, died on Aug. 19 from brain cancer. She was 65.