In 2014, Stanley Sturgill traveled 1,300 miles from his home in Harlan County, Kentucky, to Denver, where the Environmental Protection Agency held one of four public hearings and 11 listening sessions on new rules to limit pollution from power plants. The retired coal miner ― diagnosed with black lung and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease from his years toiling underground ― begged the agency for help: “We’re dying, literally dying for you to help us.”On Tuesday, Sturgill, 72, drove three hours to Charleston, West Virginia, for the EPA’s only public hearing on the Trump administration’s proposal to repeal the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. Hunched in front of a microphone at a rounded wooden table in the Senate Judiciary Committee Room of the West Virginia Legislature, he made his plea once again: “We’re still dying ― we’re still literally dying ― for you to help us.”“Just how many people must pay the supreme price of death for a few rich, greedy people to bank a few dollars?” Sturgill said. He noted how long he and his wife, Sharon, had trekked just to speak for a few minutes. “We may be old, but we still love living.”His testimony, about 90 minutes into the 9-to-5 hearing, punctuated a morning packed with fawning praise for President Donald Trump, back-patting Republican lawmakers, and exhausted public health advocates who’ve spent years repeating the same statistics on climate change and asthma.“Do I really think that this administration cares what this old, worn-out coal miner has to say? Well, I don’t know. I really doubt it. But I had to be here,” Sturgill said, “as long as I can draw breath.” The EPA estimates the social cost of carbon ― climate-change related damages to property, human health, economic growth and agriculture ― to be between $11 and $105 per ton of carbon dioxide pollution. But the real cost could be 129 times higher, according to a study released this month from Purdue University, which found that existing models relied on decades-old agricultural data.
In a filing with the state Public Service Commission, Ameren said its Renewable Choice Program would enable certain customers to “subscribe” to wind energy for up to 100 percent of their average energy needs. The move comes on the heels of the utility’s September announcement that it will invest $1 billion in new wind generation — its biggest commitment yet to renewable energy.
The cost of renewables is plunging faster than forecasters anticipated just a few years ago as as technologies like gigantic wind turbines arrive on the market. That’s the conclusion of Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), whose founder Michael Liebreich estimated that clean energy will reap 86 percent of the $10.2 trillion likely to be invested in power generation by 2040.In a presentation to the research group’s conference in London on Tuesday, Liebreich said technology that’s slashing the costs of wind and solar farms makes it inevitable that clean energy will become more economical than fossil fuels for utilities in many places. The most visible advance is in the scale of wind turbines. “The first is when new wind and solar become cheaper than anything else,” Liebreich said. The slide below from his presentation indicates that in Japan by 2025 it will be cheaper to build a new PV plant than a coal-fired power generator. That milestone will be passed in India for wind power by 2030.
Illinois has invested billions in electricity grid infrastructure, and now ranks 2nd nationally on grid modernization, but are these bulky efforts actually paying off nearly six years into the state’s initiative? State utilities have markedly improved reliability and operational efficiency through innovative smart grid technologies, but Illinois’ ambitious goal of adding more than 4 gigawatts (GW) of new wind and solar requires more than a modern grid - it requires more flexibility from customers.Fortunately, realistic policy solutions are within reach. By removing market barriers to expand “real-time” power pricing options and maximize the benefits of smart meter investments, Illinois citizens could save billions and create a flexible grid capable of handling a massive expected influx of renewable energy by 2030.
Throughout 2017, Wisconsinites kept hearing an old argument: jobs versus the environment. We must choose, we are told, between a healthy environment and a strong economy. Nonsense.In fact, during this age of global warming, one of the best ways to build a robust economy is to protect the environment and promote clean energy. And ignoring the effects of climate change hurts our economy. According to the group Clean Jobs Midwest, Wisconsin ranks dead last among Midwestern states in its percentage of clean-energy jobs — 0.85 percent, compared to an average of 1.8 percent. If Wisconsin had just the average rate of Midwestern states, we would have around 30,000 more jobs.These clean-energy jobs do not depend on handing taxpayer money to foreign corporations. They do not involve sacrificing environmental protections. They would be situated throughout the state and could not be outsourced. And, all the while, they would help protect our economy from the increasing ravages of global warming.
The Midland County Board of Commissioners had the opportunity this week to receive unbiased information regarding wind turbines. At its regularly scheduled meeting, the board welcomed Sarah Mills, who presented the "Pros and Cons of Wind farms." Funded by the C.S. Mott Foundation, Mills conducted a 2016 survey "on the public acceptance of wind turbines in the communities surrounding 10 of Michigan's utility-scale farms." Those wind farms were located on the Garden Peninsula in Delta County of the Upper Peninsula; two were around the city of McBain; and the remaining seven were located in Huron County. The survey was an expansion of Mills' original 2014 pilot study of farmland owners in these communities."In the course of the survey, I surveyed a lot of township board members, and planning commission members. They told me it is very hard to get non-biased information. You can get one side or the other, but not both," Mills said. The article repors the opinions of people in the region.
Grants for solar energy manufacturing and arrays are being offered again in Pennsylvania. The Wolf administration announced this week that it had added back grants to the Solar Energy Program, which is designed to help finance solar energy projects and manufacturing in the state. The program is an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Commonwealth Financing Authority. The program will now allow for grants of up to $5,000 or loans of up to $40,000 for each solar-manufacturing job created over three years for companies that make solar panels and equipment. It would also provide loans for companies that install solar energy projects for their own use. The funding is available to businesses, economic development organizations, cities, counties or school districts.
Using wood pellets for home heating fuel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than half over fossil fuels and natural gas, according to new research from the NH Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of New Hampshire. “Wood pellet heat is a new and growing heating alternative in the U.S. and has been proposed as a climate-beneficial energy source to replace fossil fuels. However, little work has been done to assess this claim,” the researchers said. “The opportunity for switching to wood pellet heat is particularly great for the Northern Forest region of northern Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York, which is home to more than two million people who live in rural communities, larger towns, and small cities surrounded by the largest intact forest in the eastern United States.”
A new University of Wisconsin-Madison study says cropland expansion in the United States as a result of the Renewable Fuel Standard, led to expanded carbon emissions from 2008 to 2012, resulting in about 115 million tons of releases. The study points the finger at the expansion of biofuels production leading to an expansion of cropland between 2008 and 2012, as the driver behind those emissions."Consequently, emissions from clearing land to accommodate biofuel production could significantly undermine the carbon savings that biofuels seek to attain
In September 2017, the Chinese government announced a new nationwide ethanol mandate (NEA 2017) that expands the mandatory use of E10 fuel (gasoline containing 10 percent ethanol) from 11 trial provinces to the entire country by 2020. This measure would require ethanol consumption in China, the largest motor vehicle market in the world, to at least quadruple within the next three years. For US producers, this recent development fuels interest in whether China is going to import ethanol and/or corn (the main feedstock for ethanol production in China) to meet the mandate.