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By Jessica Corbett
"As a nation we face three converging crises: the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic recession; the climate emergency; and extreme inequality."
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
There's a lot of good news about wind energy these days.
1. Texas<p>Wow. Everything really is bigger in Texas. The Lone Star State produces and consumes more energy overall than any other state in the country — in fact, <a href="https://www.eia.gov/electricity/state/" target="_blank">its electricity production</a> is double that of Florida, the next closest <a target="_blank">state.</a></p><p>Still, it's beyond impressive to see that the state accounted for more than <a href="https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=39772" target="_blank">25 percent of the country's wind electricity generation in each of the past three years</a>.</p><p>Wind also generated <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/25/us/texas-wind-energy-trnd/index.html" target="_blank">22 percent of the state's electrical needs as of July 2019</a>: notably, edging out coal (21 percent, <a target="_blank">as of July 2019</a>, of the state's power). And just to show how quickly energy transition can happen with the right policies, this is a far cry from 2003 when wind made up just 0.8 percent of the Lone Star state's power.</p><p>Plus, Texas ranks first in the country for both installed and under-construction wind capacity — and <a href="https://www.awea.org/Awea/media/Resources/StateFactSheets/Texas.pdf" target="_blank">supports more than 25,000 wind-related jobs</a>.</p>
2. Oklahoma<p>Way to go, Oklahoma! The bulk of Oklahoma's power generation for decades was from natural gas and coal, but in <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/12/24/climate/how-electricity-generation-changed-in-your-state.html" target="_blank">2016 wind surpassed coal-fired generation in the state for the first time</a>. And in 2018, wind energy provided <a target="_blank">31.7 percent </a>of all in-state electricity production.</p><p>Plus, Oklahoma's incredible wind resource also provides economic development — it supported more than <a href="https://www.awea.org/Awea/media/Resources/StateFactSheets/Oklahoma.pdf" target="_blank">7,000 direct jobs in 2018</a>.</p>
3. Iowa<p>Iowa's also a big FAN of wind energy (get it? We're so sorry). In fact the Hawkeye State <a href="https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=39772" target="_blank">has almost doubled its wind generation since 2011</a>. Wind provided 34 percent of total electricity generation in Iowa in 2018, putting the state second in the nation for wind energy as a share of total electricity generation. It produces more power than it consumes, and sends a surplus to nearby states.</p><p>Iowa also ranks second in the nation for installed capacity with more than 10,100 MW of wind online, And as of 2018, Iowa is home to more than <a href="https://www.awea.org/Awea/media/Resources/StateFactSheets/Iowa.pdf" target="_blank">9,000 wind industry jobs</a>.</p>
4. Kansas<p>Rounding out the list is Kansas. Wind turbines accounted for <a href="https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=39772" target="_blank">36 percent of the electricity generated in Kansas in 2018</a> — a larger share than any other state — reflecting a fivefold increase since just 2010. Wind energy is also only just slightly lagging behind <a target="_blank">coal</a>, which makes up 39 percent of generated electricity in the state.</p><p>In 2018, developers installed <a href="https://infogram.com/wind-growth-in-2018-mw-1h7j4dj8xpzx4nr" target="_blank">543 megawatts of new wind generation</a> in Kansas, according to a new U.S. Department of Energy study.</p>
What You Can Do<p>Are you looking for ways to make a difference and be part of the movement for renewable energy?</p><p>Our upcoming <a href="http://climaterealityproject.org/training" target="_blank">Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in San Antonio, Texas</a> (the top producer of wind energy in the country!), is a good place to start. As a Climate Reality Leader, you'll join a network of more than 20,000 like-minded activists working to share the science of what's happening to our planet and secure the safe, sustainable tomorrow we all deserve.</p><p>We can't remain silent in the fight against the climate crisis. <a href="http://climaterealityproject.org/training" target="_blank">Learn more about a training today.</a></p><p>As we like to say: Give us three days. We'll give you the tools to change the world.</p>
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Americans like wind turbines as neighbors, at least when compared with the alternatives.
By Paul Brown
The latest science shows how the pace of sea level rise is speeding up, fueling fears that not only millions of homes will be under threat, but that vulnerable installations like docks and power plants will be overwhelmed by the waves.
Hard to Tell<p>The agency's report says estimates of sea level rise by 2100 vary, with an upper limit of one meter generally accepted, but up to 2.5 meters predicted by some scientists. The latest <a href="https://www.dtu.dk/english/news/Nyhed?id=B2B4A1A9-AACA-4ACE-8FDD-645A8ED219CC" target="_blank">research by Danish scientists</a> suggests judiciously that with the speed of sea level rise continuing to accelerate, it is impossible to be sure.</p><p><a href="http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/NuClearNewsNo122.pdf" target="_blank">A report by campaigners</a> who oppose building nuclear power stations on Britain's vulnerable coast expresses extreme alarm, saying both nuclear regulators and the giant French energy company EDF are too complacent about the problem.</p><p>The report said: "Polar ice caps appear to be melting faster than expected, and what is particularly worrying is that the rate of melting seems to be increasing. Some researchers say sea levels could rise by as much as six meters or more by 2100, even if the 2°C Paris target is met.</p><p>"But it's not just the height of the rise in sea level that is important for the protection of nuclear facilities, it's also the likely increase in storm surges. An increase in sea level of 50cm would mean the storm that used to come every thousand years will now come every 100 years. If you increase that to a meter, then that millennial storm is <a href="https://climatenewsnetwork.net/extreme-sea-level-events-will-hit-once-a-year-by-2050/" target="_blank">likely to come once a decade</a>.</p><p>"Bearing in mind that there will probably be nuclear waste on <a href="https://www.edfenergy.com/energy/nuclear-new-build-projects/hinkley-point-c" target="_blank">the Hinkley Point C site</a> [home to the new twin reactors being built by EDF in the West of England] until at least 2150, the question neither the <a href="http://www.onr.org.uk/" target="_blank">Office of Nuclear Regulation</a> nor EDF seem to be asking is whether further flood protection measures can be put in place fast enough to deal with unexpected and unpredicted storm surges."</p>
By Carla Ruas
The American Petroleum Institute has rolled out a multibillion-dollar public relations campaign stating that oil and gas can help to solve climate change. The association is claiming that expanding the use of fossil fuels can lower climate emissions that are trapping heat on our planet.
The Federal Government Has the Industry's Back<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjc2NzYzMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MjQxNDA4Nn0.Qu9phx0-eKvPREoclvRs7ECj8QOiZX6KC5h19WK1mxY/img.jpg?width=980" id="6f3f7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5a3fdcc821bb97b7f9406e711f04ba6c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
The federal government has been supportive of the oil and gas industry. Mason Cummings / The Wilderness Society<p>As fossil fuel companies attempt to rebrand themselves as "clean" to expand operations, the federal government has been giving them full support. So far, the Trump administration has offered 461 million acres of American public lands and waters for the development of oil and gas — an area technically bigger than the state of Alaska.</p><p>Catering public lands to fossil fuel extraction is highly irresponsible. They already contribute greatly to the climate change problem: Over 20 percent of total U.S. climate emissions come from oil, gas and coal extracted on those lands.</p><p>But from the very beginning, the Trump administration has managed public lands on behalf of corporate interests instead of the public. They have been offering sites to the industry at below-market rates and have <a href="https://www.wilderness.org/trumpemissions" target="_blank">purposely hidden the climate impact</a> of fossil fuel developments.</p><p>As the world strives to solve the climate crisis, we seem to be going in the wrong direction. The results could be catastrophic — especially for lower-income and communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by extreme weather events including hurricanes, floods and wildfires.</p>
The Real Solution: Healthy Lands<p>Instead of putting a band-aid on a bullet wound by investing in dirty energy to solve climate change, we need a long-term plan to reduce climate emissions.</p><p>We can start right here in our backyard: our shared public lands.</p><p>The federal government can easily reduce emissions stemming from public lands. They just have to reinstate limits on methane pollution, restrict the number of acres available for the oil and gas industry and charge a fair price for the land that is leased.</p><p>It gets better.</p><p>We can use this land to build <a href="https://www.wilderness.org/articles/blog/we-need-transition-dirty-clean-energy-heres-why" target="_blank">responsible renewable energy projects</a> such as wind turbines and solar panels. You know, the type that's actually clean. We can also foster natural carbon sinks—magical landscapes like the <a href="https://www.wilderness.org/articles/blog/why-its-important-keep-wildest-forests-free-roads-and-logging" target="_blank">Tongass National Forest in Alaska</a> that have the power to absorb carbon emissions. With this recipe, we can reach net-zero emissions on public lands and waters by 2030.</p><p>What's more, this approach is good for both the environment and people.</p><p>Less fossil fuel development on public lands will reduce air and visual pollution that so often burden local communities. Responsible renewable energy projects will put people to work. And healthy landscapes will strengthen climate resiliency for all and preserve our shared air, lands and waters.</p>
The Tongass National Forest is a natural carbon sink. Nelson Guda / The Wilderness Society<p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://www.wilderness.org/articles/blog/report-oil-and-gas-drilling-definitely-fueling-climate-change" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Wilderness Society</a></em></p>
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In April, he claimed they caused cancer, and he sued to stop an offshore wind farm that was scheduled to go up near land he had purchased for a golf course in Aberdeenshire in Scotland. He lost that fight, and now the Trump Organization has agreed to pay the Scottish government $290,000 to cover its legal fees, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
Offshore Wind Power Could Produce More Electricity Than World Uses, says International Energy Agency
By Eoin Higgins
A new report from the International Energy Agency released Friday claims that wind power could be a $1 trillion business by 2040 and that the power provided by the green technology has the potential to outstrip global energy needs.
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By Alexa Peters
October is a time for bats. As the crisp fall air descends, plastic bats swing from trees and confectioners make treats in their little winged shapes. The little spooky creatures even have an entire week leading up to Halloween dedicated to them: International Bat Week. Yet they remain largely misunderstood.
1. Educate About Bats, and Start Young<p>Saving bats and preserving the multitude of benefits they bring has to start with the narrative we tell about them.</p><p>First we need to understand what they are—and what aren't. Many see bats as flying rodents, when in fact these dog-faced mammals are closely related to humans. Their wings, in fact, are a variation on the <a href="http://blogs.bu.edu/biolocomotion/2011/10/16/bats-the-only-flying-mammal/" target="_blank">human hand</a>.</p><p>We tend to avoid bats because we fear them – or at least fear what they might be carrying: rabies. Yet, Dr. Thomas Rodhouse, lead researcher on the Oregon State study, says the risk of rabies is <a href="http://www.batcon.org/resources/for-specific-issues/bats-human-health" target="_blank">lower than you might </a>think, especially if you learn the proper, respectful bat-handling <a href="http://www.batcon.org/resources/for-specific-issues/bats-human-health" target="_blank">techniques</a>.</p><p>A disproportionate fear of bats can also be addressed in how we educate children about them. With this in mind, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife provides <a href="https://batslive.pwnet.org/edubat/" target="_blank">education trunks</a> that teachers and parents can rent.</p><p>"We have actual specimens of bats preserved for kids to see up close," says Rachel Blomker, communications manager in public affairs for the department. "We've got bat skeletons, and it's interesting a lot of folks think bats are like flying mice, but actually bats are more related to humans than to rodents. It's really cool then to get kids thinking about the importance of bats and just keeping an eye out and being more aware of the need for bats."</p>
2. Recover and Preserve Bat Habitat<p>Bats love river valleys, where the insects on which they feast are the most plentiful. As a result, preserving the habitat there can be key for strengthening bat resiliency, Rodhouse says.</p><p>"If there's one thing we could do to help hoary bats, it's plant and preserve big cottonwoods along river valleys. That's a habitat strategy that could be considered a mitigation to offset the kinds of losses going on," Rodhouse said.</p><p>Another suggestion to aiding bats is retaining the snags in wooded areas, Rodhouse said. Bats roost in the sloughed bark of these hollow, decaying trees and will often raise their babies there during the summer—so, leave those dead limbs in your yard if you can.</p>
3. Plan Bat-Friendly Urban Spaces<p>Bats have learned how to use urban areas to their advantage. This is why we often encounter them using spaces in our homes and around other man-made structures such as bridges. But by building awareness, we can accommodate bats in ways that help them thrive while also preventing an unexpected encounter.</p><p>At home, installing <a href="https://batweek.org/install-bat-house/" target="_blank">bat boxes</a> or small wooden bat houses, deters bats from entering your home. Unfortunately, hoary bats don't use these, but for species in the area such as the little brown bat, they can be a great way to promote peaceful coexistence.</p>
4. Report Bat Sightings<p>Bats are elusive and hard to study. Species in Pacific Northwest tend to hibernate in smaller groups than those in the east—making them difficult to locate, Blomker says.</p><p>She suggests that one of the most helpful things a person can do is help track and monitor bats—especially if they are roosting in spaces on your private property. That way, biologists can come out, check on the colonies and better understand how they live.</p><p>"We have an <a href="https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/diseases/bat-white-nose" target="_blank">online reporting tool</a> ... that has helped us quite a bit; we had our first case of WNS found east of the cascades in Washington just last month," Blomker said.</p><p>A private land owner had reported a colony of 750 bats in his barn in addition to some dead ones that tested positive for White Nose Syndrome, a devastating, cold-loving fungus that eats away bat wings as they hibernate, wakes them up early from torpor, weakens bats and causes them to starve to death.</p>
5. Support the Efforts of Conservation Groups<p>Dr. Winifred Frick, chief scientist with Bat Conservation International suggests people seeking to help preserve the population look for opportunities to fund such work.</p><p>By becoming a member of <a href="http://www.batcon.org/?gclid=CjwKCAjwldHsBRAoEiwAd0JybTsx09NemhtPi3As5APS6h09bGnwMmgf1RcimloiQ8j4sMviyyvTrRoCnQYQAvD_BwE" target="_blank">Bat Conservation International</a>, for example, you help scientists address threats like turbines and the mysterious White Nose Syndrome. White Nose Syndrome is a particular concern because it has killed an estimated <a href="https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/bat_crisis_white-nose_syndrome/Q_and_A.html" target="_blank">6.7 billion bats since 2009</a>, and scientists are still unsure how the fungus that causes the disease spreads and whether it can be eradicated.</p><p>A donation also helps fund bat educational programs, habitat restoration, and further bat research. In the Pacific Northwest, a nonprofit called <a href="http://www.batsnorthwest.org/" target="_blank">Bats Northwest</a>, works to educate the public about bats, teams up with government biologists to protect them, and promotes responsible actions in human-bat conflict.</p><p>Conservation groups like these also ally with industry groups to promote corporate accountability. The bat conservation group has been working closely with the wind energy industry for more than 15 years, especially after <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/43267494?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents" target="_blank">2011 data</a> revealed that about 450,000 bat fatalities per year occurred at wind facilities, with hoary bats accounting for 50% of the fatalities.</p><p>"We've done a lot of work trying to identify different solutions including determining if it's possible to change the wind and wind turbine blade spin to reduce the number of fatalities," Frick said. "And technological solutions like acoustic deterrents that could potentially deter bats from flying near the turbine blades" in the first place.</p>
By Cullen Howe
When Governor Cuomo signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) into law in July 2019, it cemented New York State as a national leader in ramping up clean energy and the broader fight against climate change. In addition to reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and 85 percent by 2050, the law requires that the state obtain 70 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030 (and that it be emissions-free by 2040). No state has a more aggressive emissions reduction target.
1. The PSC Should Act on NYSERDA’s Petition to Boost Local Solar<p>Even before the CLCPA's passage, New York was a leader in making <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/tag/solar">solar</a> more accessible to homeowners and businesses. In 2014, Governor Cuomo established <a href="https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/NY-Sun" target="_blank">NY-Sun</a>, a New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)-administered program that seeks to add 3,000 MW of installed solar capacity by 2023. The program works by establishing cash incentives for developers that decline over time as solar installations increase in different parts of the state.</p><p>The results have been impressive: Almost 1,000 MW of NY-Sun supported projects have been installed, with another 1,000 MW in the pipeline. Just this week, <a href="https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/About/Newsroom/2019-Announcements/2019-12-17-NYSERDA-Announces-Milestone-of-Two-Gigawatts-of-Solar-Capacity-Installed-in-New-York" target="_blank">NYSERDA announced</a> New York has surpassed 2,000 MW of installed solar generation (including non-NY Sun projects), enough to power almost 250,000 homes.</p><p>In addition to the 2,000 MW of solar that's been installed, another 1,262 MW of solar is under development, including 351 <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/samantha-wilt/community-solar-comes-new-york" target="_blank">community solar projects</a> (this week, the Public Service Commission (PSC) approved consolidated billing for these projects, which should spur <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/cullen-howe/new-york-state-greenlights-boost-community-solar" target="_blank">their deployment in the state</a>).</p><p>In November, NYSERDA filed a <a href="http://documents.dps.ny.gov/public/MatterManagement/CaseMaster.aspx?MatterCaseNo=14-M-0094" target="_blank">petition</a> with the PSC seeking $573 million in additional funds to extend the NY-Sun program through 2025. If approved, approximately half of the funds would be added to existing cash incentives to support an additional 1,800 MW of solar projects. About a quarter of the money would be used to replenish "community adder" incentives for community solar projects in certain utility territories, providing additional compensation for these projects. </p><p>Importantly, NYSERDA proposes using $135 million of the additional funds to expand NY-Sun programs focused on low-to-moderate income (LMI) customers, as part of a new Framework for Solar Energy Equity. Among other things, the Framework envisions an expansion of its <a href="https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/NY-Sun/Solar-for-Your-Home/Community-Solar/Solar-for-All" target="_blank">Solar for All</a> program, which provides no-cost community solar to low-income households. It also provides incentives for projects sited on affordable housing, LMI homeowners who install rooftop solar, and projects that pair solar with energy storage. Combining solar and energy storage provides resiliency benefits and can also reduce local air pollutants from fossil fuel peaking units, which are often located in environmental justice communities.</p><p>The PSC hasn't yet acted on NYSERDA's petition, which sets forth a roadmap for meeting the state's 6,000 MW goal by 2025.</p>
2. The PSC Needs to Move Quickly to Decarbonize the Power Sector<p>Achieving 70 percent renewable energy in the power sector by 2030 won't be easy. Currently, New York gets <a href="https://www.eia.gov/state/analysis.php?sid=NY" target="_blank">28 percent of its total electricity</a> from renewable sources, and the vast majority of this (about 80 percent) comes from legacy large hydropower facilities <a href="https://www.nypa.gov/power/generation/generation-overview" target="_blank">owned and operated by the New York Power Authority</a>. Scaling up renewables to hit 70 percent in 10 years will require a massive amount of new clean generation to come online. </p><p>The first step to make this happen is commencing a proceeding to establish how this process will work, which the CLCPA requires by 2021. There is little time to waste. NRDC, along with a number of other environmental organizations and clean energy industry partners, last week <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6586462-E93F0201-61A9-4C53-A36D-EAE5C4AE6E04.html" target="_blank">filed a list of eight principles</a> we believe should guide the state through this process. The principles include establishing a full procurement schedule to get to 70 percent renewables by 2030, the creation of new tiers of renewable energy credits for existing renewable energy facilities, and a PSC final implementation order by the end of 2020. This deadline is especially important because it takes approximately four years between the approval of contracts for large-scale renewable projects and their completion and operation (thus, the state will need to approve contracts no later than 2026 for projects to be up and running by 2030).</p>
3. NY Needs to Improve the Siting Process and Ensure Adequate Transmission<p>Reaching the state's 70 by 30 goal will require that renewables projects are sited quickly and that there is enough transmission to transport this power to where it is needed. Unfortunately, the processes for both need fixing. </p><p>The siting process, known as <a href="http://www3.dps.ny.gov/W/PSCWeb.nsf/W/PSCWeb.nsf/All/D12E078BF7A746FF85257A70004EF402?OpenDocument" target="_blank">Article 10</a>, establishes a procedure for approving energy production facilities over 25 MW. However, it has not worked well for renewable energy sources like solar and wind. Major delays within the Article 10 process have resulted in a bottleneck <a href="https://buffalonews.com/2019/04/22/environmental-groups-demand-clean-energy-action-from-nys-we-cant-afford-to-wait/" target="_blank">jeopardizing over 8,000 gigawatt-hours per year of land-based wind and solar projects</a> pending before the state's Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment (known as the "Siting Board"), which considers these applications. For example, although the Article 10 process should take approximately 24 months, most of the pending renewable projects have taken much longer and most are still waiting for approval or have been withdrawn. </p><p>There are a number of steps the Department of Public Service (DPS) can take to improve Article 10, including enforcing application deadlines, completing compliance reviews on a fixed timeline, and reducing reliance on paper by expanding the use of digital technologies. To its credit, DPS has increased its staff to process these applications, and last week the Siting Board approved the <a href="http://www.calpine.com/operations/power-operations/our-fleet/new-york/bluestone" target="_blank">Bluestone Wind Farm</a>, a 124 MW project located in upstate New York, in the process overruling a local law that had placed a moratorium on wind turbines. This follows <a href="http://www3.dps.ny.gov/W/PSCWeb.nsf/All/763B187DD5A792DE8525847400667D6B?OpenDocument" target="_blank">approval of three other renewable projects in the last four months</a> after only one had been approved since 2011. While these approvals are encouraging, the pace of the approval process must be dramatically increased to meet our 2030 goal.</p>
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