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…
By Suzanne Goldenberg for The Guardian – A US government agency says it has attained the “holy grail” of energy – the next-generation system of battery storage, that has been hotly pursued by the likes of Bill Gates and Elon Musk. Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (Arpa-E) – a branch of the Department of Energy – says it achieved its breakthrough technology in seven years. Ellen Williams, Arpa-E’s director, said: “I think we have reached some holy grails in batteries – just in the sense of demonstrating that we can create a totally new approach to battery technology, make it work, make it commercially viable, and get it out there to let it do its thing,”
By Sandra Steingraber for The Ithacan – Last December, I attended the U.N. climate talks in Paris as a science journalist. Equipped with a press pass, I had extraordinary access to the goings-on and witnessed a climate change agreement drafted, finalized and approved by virtually all of the world’s nations. Many stars aligned to make possible the success of this 21st attempt at a climate change treaty — not the least of which was the introduction of a process that compelled each of the parties to submit, in advance of negotiations, a proposal for cutting emissions that was specific to its own nation.
By Zoe Loftus-Farren for Earth Island Journal. Northwestern United States – After more than a decade of negotiating, and waiting, and negotiating again, it looks like four dams on the lower Klamath River may finally be removed. On February 2, a coalition of state governments, the US Department of the Interior, and dam-owner PacifiCorp reached a tentative agreement to demolish the dams, which are located in Oregon and Northern California. The group has set February 29 as the target date for signing the “agreement in principle.” The new agreement in principle comes after years of congressional delay on an earlier set of agreements, which addressed not only dam demolition, but also water allocation and habitat restoration along the Klamath.
By Mike Ewall of Energy Justice Network. Washington, DC – The effort by nuclear utility giant, Exelon, to swallow up our local electric utility (Pepco) was just DENIED again today by DC’s Public Service Commission (PSC)! This merger would have formed the nation’s largest electric utility, raised rates for DC residents, and would have harmed renewable energy efforts while helping subsidize ailing nuclear power plants elsewhere in the country. This is a great victory, as Mayor Bowser sought to overturn the PSC’s previous rejection of the merger with some serious arm-twisting and a settlement that failed to address the underlying problems with the merger.
By Steve Horn for Counter Punch – As the U.S. presidential race dominates the media, it is easy to forget that both chambers of the U.S. Congress are currently in session. The U.S. Senate has put a major energy bill on the table, the first of its sort since 2007. The 237-page bill introduced by U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) —S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 — includes provisions that would expedite the liquefied natural gas (LNG) export permitting process, heap subsidies on coal technology, and fund research geared toward discovering a way to tap into methane hydrate reserves.
By Karen Vale for Cape Cod Bay Watch. Plymouth, MA – Seventy-three year old Paul Rifkin of Mashpee, Mass. was on trial February 2 at Plymouth District Court. The charge was trespassing at Entergy’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station on Mother’s Day in 2015 during a rally with 40 other protestors. Two people were arrested, and it was Rifkin’s third arrest at Pilgrim. Rifkin refused to plead guilty or accept a deal with the prosecution because his actions last May, he stated, “deserved commendation, not condemnation.” He chose to have a jury trial with the possibility of jail time. A jury of six was selected and Rifkin represented himself.
By JLSTEWCT for Beyond Extreme Energy – Every third Thursday, the morning bustle of Washington, DC’s Union Station plays host to a monthly prelude. Small tables are haphazardly pulled together and the 8am ritual commences. Gathered in a circle and passing around food and coffee, we plan our next round of unwelcome Truth Injections. The objective–to crack a little known but terribly powerful entity near the heart of the Fracked Gas Empire. This entity is frightening, but it houses no monsters. Instead, it houses something far more grotesque–a form of unacknowledged violence persisting under a bureaucratic veneer.
By Staff of Our Power Campaign. Below is a storify of the national day of action against the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan which people see as rhetorical cover for expanding the use of methane gas, which is usually fracked gas, incinerators to burn waste and nuclear power. On Tuesday January 19th, activists with the Climate Justice Alliance’s (CJA) Our Power Campaign met with EPA administrators and held rallies outside of EPA offices in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas, Kansas City, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, and Seattle. Our Power Campaign, Climate Justice Alliance The actions called for stronger safeguards for frontline communities and a “just transition” to a clean energy future. The called for community-based solutions and transition to a clean energy future. Clean energy does not include methane gas, incinerators or nuclear energy
By Staff of Buck Local News – The Spence family is one of many traveling to Harrisburg for a “Farms, Not Fracking” rally at the opening of the Pennsylvania Farm Show on Saturday, January 9 in Harrisburg. Farmers from across the state, joined by supporters such as the Spences, will converge to bring attention to the negative impact fracking is having on the $2.35 billion a year agriculture industry in Pennsylvania. The Farms Not Fracking rally is being organized by Pennsylvanians Against Fracking, a statewide coalition working to stop fracking.
By Deirdre Fulton for Common Dreams – Renewable energy advocates in Nevada are outraged by the state’s solar-killing moves, and they’re not going down without a fight. The state’s Public Utilities Commission considered requests Wednesday from solar company groups, homeowners, activists, and the state consumer advocate to put a stay on a rate hike that took effect January 1. The Republican-appointed Commission (PUC) in late December voted to increase a fixed monthly fee for solar customers by about 40 percent while simultaneously reducing the amount customers get paid for excess power they sell to the grid.
By Jim Warren of NC WARN. Durham, NC – Duke Energy responded to our insistence for careful examination of the need for a large gas-fired power plant near Asheville by pressing the NC Utilities Commission to fast-track its approval of the controversial project. The project would add nearly 800 megawatts of gas-fired generation capacity to service the western parts of both Carolinas. Duke has committed to closing two coal-fired units at the site, which provided power totaling 174 MW in 2014. NC WARN and The Climate Times has responded by reminding the Commission that it is required to carefully examine the project by conducting evidentiary hearings that allow expert testimony and cross-examination of Duke officials.
By Shane Ferro for The Huffington Post – Solar is the energy employer of the future — or at least that’s how the numbers look today. A new report on the state of the solar industry out Tuesday from the nonprofit Solar Foundation shows that the number of jobs in the United States in the solar industry outpaced those in the oil and gas industries for the first time ever. As of November 2015 there were almost 209,000 people who worked in the solar industry, 90 percent of whom only work on solar-related projects, according to the report. There were only about 185,000 people working in oil and gas in the United States in December 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.