Over the past decade, the fossil fuel industry has mounted a coordinated campaign to discredit renewable energy and hinder its growth, according to a new report released today by the Sierra Club.
The report, Clean Energy Under Siege, reveals how the fossil fuel industry is using tactics such as financial contributions to political campaigns, faux “think tanks,” phony intellectuals, and astroturf groups to shift public opinion and discredit renewable energy.
This misinformation campaign is currently evident in the struggle to renew the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy. The PTC helps support the more than 75,000 jobs in the wind industry, but if the tax credit is not renewed before the end of this year, as many as half those jobs could be lost.
"From California to Pennsylvania, clean energy jobs are under attack by fossil fuel interest groups – yet many in Congress are sitting on their hands while tens of thousands of American jobs hang in the balance," said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. "It seems these members of Congress prefer serving the interests of the big polluters that bankrolled their campaigns over the interests of working families. That needs to end now. Congress must stand up for the tens of thousands of Americans whose jobs are on the line and renew the Production Tax Credit."
The Sierra Club’s report follows the trail of money from big polluters to politicians and non-profit front groups. For example, the oil and gas industry spent more than $146 million on lobbying alone in 2011, while Big Oil tycoons David and Charles Koch gave at least $85 million to 85 right-wing “think tanks” and advocacy groups over the past decade and a half. Meanwhile, organizations like the Manhattan Institute and the Heartland Institute that defend oil subsidies while attacking renewable energy have received upwards of $600,000 each since 1998 from the oil company Exxon.
Wind power is a clean, competitive energy source that has seen strong momentum over the past few years. Already, states like Iowa and South Dakota generate 20 percent of their electricity from wind power, and the wind industry is on track to produce 20 percent of America’s electricity by 2030. More than 400 American manufacturing plants build wind components, keeping jobs close to home.
California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.
High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.
Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.
California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.
As reported by AccuWeather:
In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.
For a deeper dive:
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- 10 Wildfires Ignite Around Los Angeles in Unseasonable Wind and ... ›
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By Monir Ghaedi
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep most of Europe on pause, the EU aims for a breakthrough in its space program. The continent is seeking more than just a self-sufficient space industry competitive with China and the U.S.; the industry must also fit into the European Green Deal.
European satellites continue to provide data on climate change.