WTO Ruling Against India’s Solar Push Threatens Clean Energy

India's ambitious solar program was rebuked by the WTO in a decision that climate advocates say shows the potential damage of deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. (Photo: Knut-Erik Helle/flickr/cc)

By Nadia Prupis in Common Dreams – The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Wednesday ruled against India over its national solar energy program in a case brought by the U.S. government, sparking outrage from labor and environmental advocates. As power demands grow in India, the country’s government put forth a plan to create 100,000 megawatts of energy from solar cells and modules, and included incentives to domestic manufacturers to use locally-developed equipment. According to Indian news outlets, the WTO ruled that India had discriminated against American manufacturers by providing such incentives, which violates global trade rules, and struck down those policies—siding with the U.S. government in a case that the Sierra Club said demonstrates the environmentally and economically destructive power of pro-corporate deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

TransCanada Opts To 'Drill First, Ask Later' In Bay Of Fundy

Canada Bay of Fundy

The Tree reports – TransCanada is taking New Brunswickers by surprise this week, drilling boreholes in the Bay of Fundy for a pipeline project that hasn’t been approved yet. The energy giant is overseeing the Energy East project, a proposed cross-country pipeline that would pump bitumen from Canada’s tar sands all the way to eastern seaports. The National Energy Board, Canada’s regulatory body on energy projects, hasn’t granted TransCanada approval to build the pipeline yet, Canadian media outlet Ricochet received confirmation Thursday that the company will begin conducting tests near the proposed export terminal site.Meme Bay of Fundy According to a report published by the Conservation Council of New Brunswick last week, construction related to the Energy East pipeline would stress endangered whales and sea life in the Bay of Fundy

DC Shocked Everyone By Denying Big Merger Over Clean Energy

Kenny Nails, working for Pepco, fixes downed wires in 2010.

By Ryan Koronowski in Think Progress – In a move that shocked both industry observers and grassroots clean energy advocates, the Public Service Commission of Washington, D.C. unanimously rejected a proposed merger between Exelon and Pepco. Together, they would have created the nation’s largest utility. The commission wrote in its official summary, released Tuesday, that Exelon and Pepco “have not met their burden of persuading this Commission that the Proposed Merger is in the public interest.” Why? The summary listed several points but a central conflict was over how renewable energy would fare. “We are also concerned about the inherent conflict of interest that might inhibit our local distribution company from moving forward to embrace a cleaner and greener environment,” the Commission wrote in its summary.

FANG Locks Themselves To Gate Of Fracked Gas Facility

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By Bill Rappleye in Turn To 10 – Two protesters were cut from a gate in Burrillville early Thursday morning and charged with trespass and disorderly conduct. The two environmentalists were trying to disrupt construction on the Algonquin pipeline, owned by Spectra Energy. One is a physics professor at the University of Rhode Island, Peter Nightingale. He said there has to be more of a commitment to alternative energy and that burning natural gas is dooming our planet. “We are destroying the environment, for our generation and for future generations,” Nightingale said. He was arrested before protesting outside the office of U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. His fellow protester is Dr. Curtis Nordgaard.

Beyond Extreme Energy’s “Fast For No New Permits”

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By Moral Action Climate – Beyond Extreme Energy will be conducting a fast at FERC that will run from Tuesday September 8 until Friday the 25th, which is the day after the Pope’s speech to Congress. Those fasting in DC will spend the day in front of FERC at 888 1st St. NE. On September 25th we are calling upon people to join us at FERC as we end our fast and try to deliver copies of Laudato Si’ to the five FERC Commissioners. Our rationale for undertaking this action can be found at http://beyondextremeenergy.org. As we say there, “Beyond Extreme Energy has decided to organize a long-term, water-only “Fast for No New Permits” this September in front of FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. We also encourage people to fast individually where they live and/or to organize local solidarity fasts during this same time period.

The Big Reason Why America Is Turning To Renewable Energy

Evell Meade of Kermit, W.Va., Greg Dotson of Parkersburg, W.Va. and Mark Hunt of Charleston, W.Va., from left to right, carry a solar panel into a doctor’s office in Williamson, W.Va. A group devoted to creating alternative energy jobs in Central Appalachia is building a first for West Virginia’s southern coalfields region this week:  a rooftop solar array, assembled by unemployed and underemployed coal miners and contractors. Photo: Jeff Gentner/AP

By Tara Lohan in Alternet – Deborah Lawrence had been watching a once-empty parking lot near Midland-Odessa, Texas, fill up with idled drilling rigs usually at work plumbing for oil in the nearby Permian Basin. In January she noticed 10 rigs, then 17 a few weeks later. As winter turned to spring, the number climbed to 35. That trend has continued across the country. By the end of July, the nationwide rig count had slipped 54 percent since the same time a year ago, indicating distress in the oil and gas industry. The most obvious culprit is the precipitous drop in crude prices. But the trouble goes deeper, as Lawrence knows — and she isn’t just a casual observer. Lawrence is a former Wall Street financial consultant who now runs the Energy Policy Forum, helping to identify and analyze trends in the industry. Right now, our fossil-fueled energy path has us on a roller-coaster ride and we are plunging, white knuckled.

The U.S. Wind Energy Boom Couldn’t Be Coming At A Better Time

Wind energy is booming as oil and gas prices drop. (Ron Antonelli/Bloomberg)

By Chris Mooney in The Washington Post – The Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, released last week, requires the country to use a lot more renewable energy by the year 2030 — and a lot less coal. And right on time, two new reports published Monday by the Department of Energy find that one key renewable sector — wind — is booming, a development that can only help matters when it comes to reducing carbon emissions. The reports being released — including the 2014 Wind Technologies Market Report, published by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory — suggest that wind is being installed at a rapid rate, that its costs are plummeting, that its technologies are advancing, and that it is creating a growing number of jobs to boot. Wind energy in the U.S. is now at 66 gigawatts of installed capacity, according to the report — providing roughly 5 percent of total U.S. electricity demand. 66 gigawatts is enough electricity to power 17.5 million homes (a gigawatt is a billion watts).

Iraq Cabinet Approves Reforms In Response To Mass Protests

Iraq protests 2015 Reuters

By Associated Press – Iraq’s cabinet approved a wide-ranging reform plan on Sunday that would abolish the three vice-presidential posts as well as the office of deputy prime minister in order to slash spending and improve the government’s performance in the face of mass protests. Prime minister Haider al-Abadi’s plan, which still requires parliamentary approval, would effectively sack his predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki, who begrudgingly stepped aside a year ago and was appointed to the largely symbolic role of vice president. Al-Maliki is widely alleged to have undermined his successor in a bid to eventually return to power, charges he denies. Al-Abadi’s seven-point plan would also require that a number of government posts be filled with political independents, a move aimed at combatting endemic corruption in Iraq’s political system, in which many senior appointments are determined by party patronage and sectarian loyalties.

Thousands Of Iraqis Protest Against Corruption And Power Cuts

Iraq protest 2015

By Agency France Press -Thousands of people demonstrated in Baghdad against rampant corruption and the abysmal electricity services that plague Iraq, calling for officials to be held to account. “All of you together to the court, all of you are thieves,” chanted protesters gathered at Tahrir Square and carrying Iraqi flags. “Friday after Friday, we’ll get the corrupt out.” Protesters also turned out in Nasiriyah, south of Baghdad, to air similar grievances, an AFP journalist said. Baghdad and other cities have seen weeks of protests against the poor quality of services, especially power cuts that leave Iraqis with only a few hours of electricity per day as temperatures top 50C.

Why I Will Be Fasting For No New Permits (And How You Can, Too)

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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.

Ebook Offers Plans For Fast & Scalable DIY Solar-Plus-Battery System

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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.

There Is No Nuclear Energy Renaissance

his March 21, 2011 file photo shows an aerial view of the Columbia Generating Station, a nuclear power plant inside the Hanford nuclear site beside the Columbia River in Hanford, Washington state. (AFP Photo/Mark Ralston)

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.

Obama Administration Moves To Make Solar More Expensive

Chinese solar factory workers from Chinatopix.

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.

Day Of Action To Stop Extreme Energy Transport

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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.

The Fight For Jobs, Justice And The Climate

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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.”