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Solar Industry Thanks Obama for SOTU Shout Out

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Solar Industry Thanks Obama for SOTU Shout Out

After announcing that its employment growth rate was 10 times better than the national average, a shout out from President Barack Obama made the solar industry's week even better.

"Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar, every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can’t be outsourced," Obama said during Tuesday night's State of the Union address. "Let’s continue that progress with a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries that don’t need it, so that we can invest more in fuels of the future that do."

President Barack Obama's 2014 State of the Union Speech. Photo credit: C-SPAN

To the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), that kind of praise provides great momentum to the U.S. solar market, which is fresh off a record-setting year.

"On behalf of the 143,000 Americans who work in the U.S. solar industry—and the tens of millions of people who support it—the best way to thank the president for his leadership is to go out and prove him right," SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch said in a statement. "Today, we’re well on our way to doing that, with solar now the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in America, pumping tens of billions of dollars into the U.S. economy. But despite this milestone, we believe the best is yet to come."

Environment America was a little more critical, but still generally pleased with Obama's acknowledgment of clean energy.

"We applaud the president’s commitment to cutting carbon pollution from power plants—the largest sources—as well as his leadership in cutting carbon pollution from cars and doubling the production of wind and solar power," Environment America said in its statement Tuesday night. "However, we are disappointed that the president’s and the nation’s continued embrace of oil and gas ensure that we will continue to create global warming pollution."

SEIA estimates that 13 gigawatts of solar currently installed in the U.S., which is enough to power more than 2 million American homes or all single homes in a state the size of Colorado.

"Like the president, we see 2014 as a year of action, a year of progress and a year in which more and more Americans turn to solar to save money, help meet their energy needs and improve our environment,” Resch said.

Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

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:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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