By Zahra Hirji for Inside Climate News. California cities are leading the nation in eliminating one of the biggest hurdles to the growth of residential solar: lengthy and confusing permitting. Spurred by a recent state law, hundreds of California communities have streamlined their permit process for small residential solar systems over the past year, some bringing it down to a single day. Some cities have also fast-tracked inspections to within a few days of permit approvals. The outcome? The state’s biggest cities are now processing and signing off on hundreds of these solar projects each month. San Jose, for example, streamlined its permit review and approval process last August and has since approved more than 4,500 residential rooftop solar permits. That’s a nearly 600 percent increase over the previous year, when San Jose, California’s third-largest city, permitted a mere 661.
By Staff of GJEP – Twenty six civil society society groups worldwide have sent an Open Letter to E.On , demanding that the energy corporation scraps plans to convert a mothballed coal power station in Gardanne, southern France, to burning wood pellets. Groups warn that burning over 800,000 tonnes of wood pellets a year in the power station poses a serious threat to forests. Residents, environmental campaigners and local authorities in southern France have been protesting against E.On’s biomass plans since they were first published several years ago.
By Mark Hand for Counter Punch – The name of her new book is Frackopoly, but author Wenonah Hauter tackles issues beyond hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking. She writes about energy spats past and present, explaining why she believes the energy industry won most of these fights and succeeded in monopolizing U.S. energy policy-making over the past 100 years. But momentum, she notes, has shifted slightly toward the people over the past half-dozen years.
By Staff of Beyond Extreme Energy – Recently, Wyoming has been in the news regarding the negative health impacts of fracking on people in the state. In April, for example, scientists found dangerous levels of chemicals in the groundwater of Pavillion, a town in central Wyoming. The scientists reported that the town’s 230 residents were drinking water that contained levels of benzene 50 times above the allowable limit. The source of this contamination–fracking. Similarly, just last week, the Coming Clean coalition released a report showing how volatile organic compounds from fracking near Pavillion have been absorbed by residents.
By Staff of Nelson County Times – A grassroots alliance of 57 groups chided Gov. Terry McAuliffe Wednesday for, in their view, turning a deaf ear to the concerns of communities facing impacts from natural gas pipelines, offshore drilling, coal ash, climate change and other potential threats to human health, property rights and the environment. The allied groups and supporters plan to take their message directly to McAuliffe in Richmond during a “March on the Mansion” scheduled for July 23 and billed as “the biggest rally for climate justice and clean energy Virginia has ever seen.”
By Harvey Wasserman for EcoWatch. A rising tsunami of U.S. nuke shut-downs may soon include California’s infamous Diablo Canyon double reactors. But it depends on citizen action, including a statewide petition. Five U.S. reactor closures have been announced within the past month. A green regulatory decision on California’s environmental standards could push the number to seven. The focus is now on a critical June 28 California State Lands Commission meeting. Set for Sacramento, the hearing could help make the Golden State totally nuke free, ending the catastrophic radioactive and global warming impacts caused by these failing plants. A public simulcast of the Sacramento meeting is expected to gather a large crowd at the Morro Bay Community Center near the reactor site.
By Justin Mikulka for Desmog – “We’re certainly not advocating any strategy for reducing hydrocarbon emissions by keeping oil in the ground…that’s not a position.” This was the response of Christopher A. Smith when he was asked what he thought of the “growing movement of keeping oil in the ground” at the 2016 Columbia Global Energy Summit in April. Since Chris Smith worked for more than a decade for Chevron and Texaco, this answer should not surprise anyone.
By David J. Unger for Inside Climate News – Up to now, these highly localized versions of power plants, which serve mainly hospitals, military bases and colleges, have been more micro than grid because they don’t work well with each other. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology Ph.D. student and four colleagues were creating one at Stone Edge Farm in Sonoma, Calif., last year when they stumbled on a way to make them communicate more effectively.
By Eleanor Goldfield for Occupy – This week: Break Free from fossil fuels, rebel against the fracking infrastructure, glean some inspiration from our European anti-corporate coup comrades and join the fight against lame ducks and their sneaky deals. Finally, Raed Jarrar has lived our Middle East policy and is now working to change it. But first, lunacy’s loop: god and war.
By Peter Diamandis for The Huffington Post – In the next 20 years, between 50 percent to 100 percent of the world’s energy production could come from solar. Today, the global oil and natural gas industry is about a $4 trillion business. It’s big money, and in the U.S., 67 percent of the electricity generated in 2015 was from fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and petroleum). This is about to change.
By Bruce Henderson for The Charlotte Observer – Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good faced advocates Thursday at a shareholder meeting that has become an annual debate over the company’s environmental policies. Shareholder voting took care of most of the meeting’s official business, including re-election of 12 directors (four more retired) and approval of top executives’ pay. A shareholder proposal to let simple majority votes apply in more situations passed, while a proposal that Duke disclose more about its lobbying activities failed.
By Greg Sawtell for United Workers. Baltimore, MD – The Goldman Environmental Foundation today announced the six recipients of the 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize, the world’s largest award for grassroots environmental activists. Awarded annually to environmental heroes from each of the world’s six inhabited continental regions, the Goldman Prize recognizes fearless grassroots activists for significant achievements in protecting the environment and their communities. Baltimore youth leader, Destiny Watford, is one of the six global winners, for her work to spearhead efforts to stop the nation’s largest trash burning incinerator from being built less than a mile from her public high school in Curtis Bay.
By Steve Gorelick for Local Futures. It seems that a transition to renewable energy might not be as transformative as some people hope. Or to put it more bluntly, renewable energy changes nothing about corporate capitalism. Which brings me to the new film, This Changes Everything, based on Naomi Klein’s best-selling book and directed by her husband, Avi Lewis. I saw the film recently at a screening hosted by local climate activists and renewable energy developers, and was at first hopeful that the film would go even further than the book in, as Klein puts it, “connecting the dots between the carbon in the air and the economic system that put it there.” But by film’s end one is left with the impression that a transition from fossil fuels to renewables is pretty much all that’s needed – not only to address climate change but to transform the economy and solve all the other problems we face.
By Staff of Eco Watch – In the first 2016 issue of its monthly Energy Infrastructure Update report, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) notes that five new “units” of wind (468 megawatts) and six new units of solar (145 megawatts) accounted for 100 percent of new electrical generation brought into service in January. No new capacity for nuclear, coal, gas or oil was reported. Renewables now account for 17.93 percent of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.: hydropower (8.56 percent), wind (6.37 percent), biomass (1.43 percent), solar (1.24 percent) and geothermal (0.33 percent). In fact, installed capacity for non-hydro renewables…