By Greg Yost in Beyond Extreme Energy – The trouble with FERC is that it is staffed and run through a revolving door with the industry it’s supposed to regulate. FERC is essentially unable to resist giving the gas industry anything it wants. This means billions of dollars are being spent on new infrastructure which will lock in fossil fuel dependence for another generation. At the precise time we need to be using our limited financial resources to transition to a new kind of economy based on clean energy, the gas and oil companies want us ratepayers to underwrite their efforts to squeeze the last remaining profits from their dirty and outdated businesses. So that’s why Beyond Extreme Energy is organizing a water-only Fast For No New Permits in front of FERC from September 8th–25th. Participants will gather in DC where some will fast for the entire period while others will join it as they are able. The fast coincides with Pope Francis’ visit to the United States and his address to the Congress and the United Nations.
By Derek Markham in Tree Hugger – It’s a tiny power plant for a tiny home! This forthcoming ebook promises to help you build a standalone solar power station for hyperlocal clean energy generation. Home solar power is rapidly becoming a reality for many, thanks to great financial incentives, creative financing options, and increasingly affordable components, and the coming solar revolution shows no signs of slowing down. But you don’t necessarily have to invest in a whole-house grid-tied solar array to take advantage of clean energy, and you may not even want to if you’re looking to electrify an off-grid location or build an emergency power supply. One potential option for the DIY crowd is to build your own standalone solar energysystem, complete with battery storage, which can power a tiny home, act as a backyard power station, or serve as a small step toward energy independence.
By World Nuclear Industry Status Report – Japan without nuclear power for a full calendar year for the first time since the first commercial nuclear power plant started up in the country 50 years ago. Nuclear plant construction starts plunge from fifteen in 2010 to three in 2014. 62 reactors under construction—five fewer than a year ago—of which at least three- quarters delayed. In 10 of the 14 building countries all projects are delayed, often by years. Five units have been listed as “under construction” for over 30 years. Share of nuclear power in global electricity mix stable at less than 11% for a third year in a row. AREVA, technically bankrupt, downgraded to “junk” by Standard & Poor’s, sees its share value plunge to a new historic low on 9 July 2015—a value loss of 90 percent since 2007.
By Amy He for the China Daily – The US Commerce Department is imposing higher tariffs on Chinese solar products imported to the US marketplace. Commerce had indicated that Chinese companies may be entitled to lower rates, but the decision announced on Wednesday to impose tariffs of 238.95 percent reverses that. The department had conducted a review of whether solar manufacturing companies in China had received subsidies from the government between March 2012 and November 2013. Manufacturers now face anti-dumping and anti-subsidy rates of about 31 percent on products made in China. “The Department of Commerce chose against lowering the tax on solar imports. Keeping these stiff tariffs in place makes solar power less affordable, slows job growth and prevents more American homes, businesses and utilities from switching to clean solar energy,” Shah said in a statement released in response to the review’s results. “Despite booming solar employment, economically counterproductive tariffs have artificially made solar panels prices in the United States the most expensive in the world. This decision does nothing to correct this imbalance,” Jigar Shah, president of the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energ added.
By Meaghan LaSala, Emma McCumber and Will Bennington for Rising Tide VT. Champlain Valley – Hundreds of people participated today in a coordinated series of actions across the Champlain valley — including a blockade and lake flotilla — demanding an end to extreme energy extraction and transport. Rallying behind the slogan “Not by truck, not by rail, not by pipeline,” participants denounced industry attempts to turn the Champlain valley into an energy corridor for fracked gas, oil, and tar sands which are driving climate change. In Addison County, Vermont, over forty organizers with TWAC (Trans* and/or Women’s Action Camp) blocked trucks carrying fracked gas from making deliveries at the International Paper mill, resulting in five arrests. In Ticonderoga, New York, over 150 people participated in a symbolic oil train blockade and flotilla highlighting threats to the lake posed by the trains.
By TelesurTV. Canada – Organizers say the weekend’s events represent the most diverse climate mobilization in Canada’s history, with the participation of trade unions, including a large private sector union representing fossil fuel workers, indigenous communities, who have continually been on the front lines of environmental struggles, as well as migrant justice advocates, anti-extractive industry activists, faith communities, and more. “What you’re seeing are the first steps toward a new kind of climate movement,” said Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything, at an event downtown Toronto last month announcing the upcoming mobilization. “It’s a climate movement that recognizes that time is too short to allow our divisions to keep us from building the kind of coalitions that will safeguard life on earth.”
By Steven Winter for Clean Energy Action. Recently, there was a huge victory for energy freedom and rural renewable power on the Western Slope of Colorado. We’ll explain what happened – and why is it so exciting. Delta-Montrose Electric Association (Delta-Montrose), a rural electric co-operative serving 35,000 customers, sought to purchase cheap, reliable and renewable power from a small hydroelectric dam on an irrigation canal in Montrose. That seems simple enough – provide your customers with affordable, clean power that’s right in your backyard – why not? What was standing in Delta-Montrose’s way? What stood in Delta-Montrose’s way was a contract with its wholesale power supplier, Tri-State Generation and Transmission, restricting their freedom to access clean energy. Delta-Montrose buys power from the large utility Tri-State and then sells that power to its members. Tri-State’s contract confined Delta-Montrose, and the 44 other rural electric co-ops it serves, to buying 95% of their electricity from Tri-State. Even if affordable renewables were available literally right next door, these rural electric utilities couldn’t buy them.
By Christian Poirier, Amazon Watch & Brent Millikan, International Rivers. When Brazilian energy planners proposed to choke the Amazon’s Tapajós River and its tributaries with dozens of large hydroelectric dams, they underrated a formidable foe: the Munduruku people. The largest indigenous group in the Tapajós Basin, the Munduruku are proving to be sophisticated adversaries who are throwing a wrench in the dam industry’s plans. The tribe has frequently caught the Brazilian government off guard with their tactics. They have a flair for the theatrical – they staged a series of dramatic protests in Brasilia, including a “die-in” at the Ministry of Mines and Energy – and the practical. In January, they delivered a protocol to government officials demanding a culturally-appropriate process of free, prior and informed consultation and consent (FPIC). While enshrined in Brazil’s constitution and integral to ILO Convention 169, the indigenous right to FPIC has been systematically ignored in Brazil.
By Joel Yudken in The Economic Policy Institute – The Obama administration is considering whether to divest all or part of the federally owned Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) as a means to pay down the U.S. debt. The selling off of all or part of the TVA to private ownership would have far-reaching consequences, especially for the 9 million people in the 80,000-square-mile region—encompassing parts of Tennessee, northern Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia—to whom the TVA provides electricity and other services. The proposal has sparked a debate about the benefits and problems that divestiture might bring. Conservatives have long opposed the TVA on the grounds that it is an illegitimate government intrusion into the marketplace.
By Emerson Urry in EnviroNews – The Obama Administration has finally done it. They have approved an even bigger carbon bomb than what would be created by the bitumen that would flow through the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline should it be ultimately approved. More Powder River Basin coal. Lots more. Although it’s debatable on how much carbon could be ultimately released if Alberta’s tar sands were exploited to the max, it would be hard for them to get 16.9 billion metric tons of that carbon south, down the Keystone XL pipeline and through America. That’s how much carbon-release was just okayed by the Bureau of Land Management in a recent move — 16.9 billion tons — the equivalency of about 1/33 the amount of CO2 released by humans since the dawn of the industrial age.
By Joshua Krause in Activist Post – Robin Speronis had been living in an off-grid home for many years without incident, until she was interviewed by a local FOX affiliate in November of 2013. Shortly thereafter, the city of Cape Coral tagged a “notice to vacate” on her property, due to multiple code violations, all of which stem from the fact that her home isn’t connected to water, sewage, or the electrical grid. The city has tried to argue that she is in violation of the International Property Maintenance Code for relying on rainwater and solar panels, instead of utilities. Since that time, Speronis has been fighting the courts for her right live off the grid. Magistrate Harold Eskins recently ruled that she can live without using water or electricity, but she still has to be connected to these utilities no matter what.
Climate change is going on. Extreme weather conditions, storms, floodings, landslides, droughts and ice melting are reported ever more regularly from many parts of the world. Millions of people are losing their livelihood, their homes, their jobs – and many also their lives. The successive reports of the United Nation Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have increasingly called for urgent action in order to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. However, after having negotiated for 20 years, our political leaders have failed to take necessary action. The result is that emissions are increasing rather than decreasing (61 percent increase from 1990 to 2013). Temperature increase is on course for 4-6oC rather than maximum 1,5-2.0oC, something which will mean climate catastrophe.
The authors say that large-scale solar installations are needed to curb our carbon emissions in the future, but the only way to get more and better solar is for it to be more cost effective and that will come down to better investments and government subsidies. Currently, solar receives far fewer subsidies than fossil fuels, but a shift in those policies could transform the energy mix of the U.S. Meanwhile, greater investments would help to develop technologies that cost less to produce and install like thin-film wafers. The other major hurdle is funding technologies that would ease the integration of solar power into the grid, like smart grid infrastructure and energy storage technologies that could provide clean energy during peak demand hours and at times when the sun wasn’t shining. The good news is that current solar resources dwarf current and projected future electricity demand. If we can remove the roadblocks, especially fossil-fuel-leaning government policies, solar is ready for prime time now.
The small Scandinavian country of Denmark doesn’t hold many minerals in its soil. Its supply of oil from the North Sea that has long contributed to the country’s economy – not least thanks to the high taxes imposed on it – is slowly depleting. But one resource is in abundance here: wind. And the Danes are now busier than ever harnessing it. Production of wind energy is taking a bigger and bigger share of the country’s economy, as the export of wind turbines, technology, expertise and electricity has become one of the biggest Danish export industries. Denmark has turned itself into something of a showroom for the market; in the first quarter of this year, wind power contributed to 44 percent of the country’s total electricity production, up from 39 percent in the same period last year.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, gas, and oil. FERC also reviews proposals to build liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and interstate natural gas pipelines as well as licensing hydro-power projects. Since 1935 when it first became an independent regulatory agency it has done little to protect citizens from exploitation. Instead, the agency uses its vast powers to facilitate the expansion of dirty and deadly extraction for export to international markets. FERC ensures that toxic energy projects create greater profits for rich developers while leaving poisoned communities with the lie of so-called U.S. energy independence through fossil fuels.