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Why Support Renewable Energy?

Energy
Why Support Renewable Energy?

Natural Resources Defense Council

By Bob Keefe

Used with permission of NRDC – Switchboard

Fossil fuel lobbyists and their allies in Congress continue to dispute the need to support development of more renewable energy in America.

Never mind that more than 90 percent of Americans say developing renewable energy should be a national priority.

Never mind that renewable energy, led by the solar industry, is among the fastest-growing and most promising job sectors in our economy.

Never mind that with every solar panel or wind turbine we install, we reduce emissions from coal, oil and other fossil fuels that pollute our air, warm our planet and in turn, foster more climate-related disasters.

Need more reasons for why we need to support development of renewable energy in America?

Scan the headlines—like these from just the past few days:

From the New York Times:
Iran Threatens to Block Oil Shipments, as U.S. Prepares Sanctions

WASHINGTON—A senior Iranian official on Tuesday delivered a sharp threat in response to economic sanctions being readied by the United States, saying his country would retaliate against any crackdown by blocking all oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz, a vital artery for transporting about one-fifth of the world’s oil supply.

From the Associated Press:
Nigerian Offshore Oil Spill Covers 115 miles

LAGOS, Nigeria—An oil spill near the coast of Nigeria is probably the worst to hit those waters in a decade, a government official said Thursday, as slicks from the Royal Dutch Shell PLC spill approached the country's southern shoreline.

The slick from Shell's Bonga field has affected 115 miles of ocean near Nigeria's coast, Peter Idabor, who leads the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, told the Associated Press. Idabor said the slick continued to move toward shore Thursday night, putting at risk birds, fish and other wildlife in the area.

From the Los Angeles Times:
Gasoline Prices Set December Record

The most expensive year ever for gasoline purchases in the U.S. is heading to a close—but not without another dig at motorists' wallets.

Pain levels at the pump rose again over the last week in California and across most of the nation, assuring that 2011 will mark the second year in a row that prices have posted record December highs.

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in California hit $3.576, up 2 cents since Dec. 19, according to the Energy Department's weekly survey of service stations. That shattered—by 28.9 cents—the old record of $3.287 a gallon set in December 2007 and was tied in December 2010.

Nationally, the numbers told a similar story. The U.S. average for a gallon of regular gasoline rose 2.9 cents over the last week to $3.258. That was 20.6 cents a gallon higher than a year earlier and 20.5 cents higher than the record high set in December 2007.

Three more reasons, taken from just a few days' worth of news, why America needs to keep pressing forward on renewable energy development.

Iran can’t block the sun from shining on solar panels or the wind from blowing on turbines in America. Cars that get better mileage or run on renewable fuels mean we save money at the pump. Less dependence on fossil fuels means fewer environmental disasters like those in Nigeria or in the Gulf of Mexico.

Some say we don’t need to support development of more renewable energy in America. Why?

For more information, click here.

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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