Saturday, December 12, 2009

Thousands Rally at U.N. Climate Conference

Sea of lights in Copenhagen as 100,000 supporters of climate action rally for a real deal
It is the most inspiring thing I have ever seen. A stream of lights for as far as the eye can see is weaving through the streets of Copenhagen, as the participants of the largest climate march and rally in history hold candles to remind world leaders of their hope for a real deal to solve climate change. The march and rally caps off a a globe spanning day of over 3,000 marches, rallies, and vigils. [photo courtesy of Zoe Caron]
Read the full report by Richard Graves here.

Protests and Talks Intensify in Copenhagen

COPENHAGEN — It was a raucous day on the streets as protesters from around the world — with a dizzying array of causes, from “no nukes” to “climate debt” — marched from the old city center to the Bella Center.

Behind lines of police, negotiators worked through the day trying, in theory at least, to find common ground among 192 countries on steps to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, share the costs of doing so and limit exposure of poor places to climate hazards. I shot the following video around the main march, which saw little of the violence that erupted elsewhere in the city tonight between police and more radical elements, nicknamed the “black masks.”
Read the full report by Andrew Revkin and see his video here.

COP15 – day 6 roundup
Environmentalists and activists rallied worldwide Saturday in favor of a global climate agreement. In Copenhagen [photo below], host city of the ongoing UN negotiations, a six-kilometer march from the parliament building to the conference venue gathered an estimated 50,000 people.
Read the full report here.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

White House hosts Young Leaders

The President and his Administration invited a group of young leaders to the White House on December 2nd for a Clean Energy Economy Forum. The event brought together emerging leaders from non-profits, businesses, and community groups along with experts from federal agencies, members of the Cabinet, and White House officials.

Presenters included EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, and Cabinet Members Steven Chu (Energy), Ken Salizar (Interior), and Hilda Solis (Labor). The meeting was webcast live and included an online discussion open to all.

The Video of the forum is below:

FYI: the guy wearing glasses in the lower right of the video image above happens to be my son, Jason Kowalski, Policy Coordinator at

A link to a video of the online forum is here. One of my favorite online comments that the moderators selected to read was from Meg Boyle who wrote: "Let's see this as a good first meeting. At the next one, I'd like to see student leaders present and admin folks ask questions."
Great comment! I hope that the White House takes it seriously and acts on it.

For a report on the Forum and insights to its significance for young leaders see: "Youth Climate Movement Grows Up… In a Good Way"

CandleLight Vigil for the Climate

[click image to enlarge]

Monday, November 30, 2009

Youth Clean Energy Forum at White House

From: Whit Jones, Acting Field Director, Energy Action Coalition

Last week we announced two exciting victories: Just one week before President Obama attends the Copenhagen climate negotiations, the White House is hosting a Youth Clean Energy Forum to hear from leaders like you.

This is an incredible accomplishment and opportunity. Just two years ago the only people the Bush Administration would speak to about energy policy were the CEOs and lobbyists of Dirty Coal and Big Oil. Now, the Obama Administration is inviting us into the White House, and we need to make sure we are present and heard.

One way to be sure you're heard is to host a viewing party to watch the LIVE webcast of the forum in your area and engage in the LIVE discussion. Throughout the forum, the White House is going to take questions and comments off of the Facebook Live Chat.

This is our opportunity to discuss strengthening emissions targets, ending mountaintop removal, investing in green jobs and pathways out of poverty, and revitalizing our economy. We have to let Obama's team know where we stand before he heads to Copenhagen.

Viewing parties are fun and simple. All you need to do is find a space, invite your friends or a couple of campus organizations, and turn on the live webcast. You can host a meeting in conjunction with it, invite local media so they can hear your responses to the forum, and blog or tweet about it.

Sign-up to Host a Viewing Party. RSVP if you're watching alone so we can keep track of participation.

Here are the details about the forum:

  • WHAT: You, a couple of friends, a few campus organizations watching the webcast of the White House Youth Clean Energy Forum

  • WHO: Top White House officials, including Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Energy Secretary Steven Chu & the EPA's Lisa Jackson

  • WHEN: Dec. 2nd from 4 pm - 7 pm ET

Don't miss it and be sure to host or attend a viewing party!

Energy Action Coalition is a youth-led coalition of 50 organizations working together to fight for a clean, just and renewable energy future. Join the new Local Community and get your neighborhood involved in the national push for a future powered by clean energy and not by dirty politics.

For a list of Energy Action Coalition partners, please visit our
Energy Action Partners page.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

McKibben to Obama: Stop Climate Spin -- Feel the Heat

Mother Jones
Mr. President: Time to Quit Fibbing and Spinning
By Bill McKibben | Monday, November 16, 2009
The real tip-off of Obama’s unwillingness to lead, however, has been the endless spinning of his climate negotiators. For 12 months they have been fibbing about the science—reiterating over and over again that their goal is the “scientific standard” of 450 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere. That’s no longer scientifically accurate—in the last two years, since the rapid Arctic melt in the summer of 2007, scientists have made it clear that a treaty that aimed at 450 ppm would be a treaty that left the planet free of ice, a planet where many current nations would disappear beneath the waves. We’re at 390 now—we’re already too high.
Read the full report here.Washington Post
Obama needs to Feel the Heat
By Bill McKibben | Sunday, November 22, 2009

As one of the U.S. spokesmen put it, "There was an assessment by the leaders that it is unrealistic to expect a full, internationally legally binding agreement could be negotiated between now and Copenhagen, which starts in 22 days."

This is not just spin, it's pathetic spin. Copenhagen has been on the calendar for years -- it's not a surprise that someone sprung on the president, who shortly after last year's election declared: "Once I take office, you can be sure that the United States will once again engage vigorously in these negotiations and help lead the world toward a new era of global cooperation on climate change. Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all. Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response. The stakes are too high." [emphasis added]
Read the full report here.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

DOE Funds Wind Turbine Innovation

There is change in the wind. It's a revolution that won't be driven simply by putting up more conventional windmill farms to generate clean energy. It's about innovation -- radical design changes that will increase efficiency and reduce the cost and size of wind turbines.

“FloDesign Wind Turbine Corporation is going to revolutionize the way we capture energy from the wind,” says CEO Stanley Kowalski III. “Our wind turbine will produce more wind energy with less impact on the environment. Our turbines are smaller, can function in a variety of climates, and can work closer to the ground.”

Kowalski [no relation to me] says his company's turbine design resembles a jet engine, an approach that allows it to capture much more wind energy while taking up less space than traditional turbines. The turbine draws on its jet engine expertise from parent company, aerospace engineering firm FloDesign. The blades are much smaller than those of existing windmills and they are surrounded by a shroud, resembling a jet engine. Wind hitting the turbine flows through the blades as well as around the shroud to create a rapid-mixing vortex, extracting 3 to 4 times as much energy from the wind as traditional turbines.

The turbine spins efficiently at lower wind speeds, and can also sustain higher speeds than conventional turbines. A fin directs the turbine to face the direction of the wind without motorized alignment and maximizes the amount of energy it receives. The smaller size of FloDesign turbine design will lower the shipping costs compared to traditional turbines and permit more turbines in a given area of land.

Watch this informative video to see the innovative design features in action (very cool!):

FloDesign Wind Turbine Corporation has built a small prototype for wind tunnel tests. On October 26, 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on awarded $8.3 million to the company. FloDesign's proposal was among 37 nationwide to receive funding totaling $151 million from DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, who's mission is to develop potential breakthrough energy technologies.

Kowalski said the company currently employs about 20 people and expects to expand to more than 75 by the end of 2010. The jobs to be added will primarily be engineering jobs, he said. “The next newsworthy event for us is the installation of our prototype, somewhere in Western Massachusetts we hope. We’re evaluating sites right now,” he said.

The Massachusetts-based company is hunting for another $25 million to deploy full scale test rigs. Last year, it landed two start-up awards from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, including cash grants of $300,000. The company also received $6 million in venture capital in an initial funding round in 2008.

If everything goes according to plan, the company will start taking orders and build wind turbines that generate one megawatt.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act

The Senate climate bill, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, was released by sponsoring Senators Kerry and Boxer on September 30, 2009. This is an independent version of the House of Representatives climate bill, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which was passed earlier this year. If the Senate bill is passed, the Senate and House will then reconcile their versions, vote, and if that version is passed, Congress will send it on to President Obama.

The White House is running its own climate campaign, meeting with more than half the Senate, making calls to almost 100 mayors, and meeting with many governors. Their goal, according to Carol Browner, the president's assistant for energy and climate change, "is to get the bill moving and keep it moving." However, Ms. Browner is not optimisic about the bill being passed before the December's UN conference in Copenhagen.

President Obama welcomed a Senate bill to cut carbon emissions and said he was "deeply committed" to passing it even as the White House played down chances that it would happen this year. Obama, whose international credibility on global warming is largely tied to the Senate's effort, called the draft bill a major step forward in his plans to revamp U.S. energy policy.

Subsequent to the above events, President Obama was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize
for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Nobel Committee has attached special importance to Obama's vision of, and work for, a world without nuclear weapons. Also, "Thanks to Obama's initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened", as stated in the announcement from the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

On the Senate climate bill, you can read an overview, a summary, a section by section summary, or the full bill. Also available is a description of the Pollution Reduction and Investment Mechanism of the bill. The files are available here.

An analysis of the Senate climate bill done by Jason Kowalski at 1Sky is available here.

[UPDATES: Sunday, Oct.11, 2009]
NY Times Op-Ed
Yes We Can (Pass Climate Change Legislation)
John Kerry is a Democratic senator from Massachusetts. Lindsey Graham is a Republican senator from South Carolina.

Republican senator backs climate-change effort

By Andy Sullivan | Reuters
Sunday, October 11, 2009; 3:35 PM
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Prospects for climate-change legislation in Congress improved on Sunday when a Republican senator broke ranks with his party to outline a compromise with a leading Democrat on the issue.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

U.S. funds CO2 Capture and Storage

The Obama administration is continuing research that began more than ten years ago on capturing the emissions from burning coal and storing the CO2 underground. Some environmentalists remain skeptical about the outcome, and uncertainties still exist as to the industrial feasibility, economic cost and legal aspects.

Secretary Chu Announces First Awards from $1.4 Billion for Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage Projects
Washington, DC (10/2/2009) — U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the first round of funding from $1.4 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the selection of 12 projects that will capture carbon dioxide from industrial sources for storage or beneficial use. The first phase of these projects will include $21.6 million in Recovery Act funding and $22.5 million in private funding for a total initial investment of $44.1 million. The remaining Recovery Act funding will be awarded to the most promising projects during a competitive phase two selection process.

The successful development of advanced technologies and innovative concepts that reduce emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is a key objective of the Obama Administration’s effort to help mitigate the effects of climate change. Carbon dioxide is a major greenhouse gas and contributor to global climate change.

The full report, including a list of large-scale industrial carbon capture and storage selections announced, is here.

A special issue of Science magazine
(September 25, 2009) contains background information and scientific reports on carbon capture and sequestration. The scientific articles are preceded by the Editorial below:

Editorial: Carbon Capture and Sequestration
By Steven Chu, U.S. Secretary of Energy and Nobel Laureate in Physics
Overwhelming scientific evidence shows that CO2 emissions from fossil fuels have caused the climate to change, and a dramatic reduction of these emissions is essential to reduce the risk of future devastating effects. On the other hand, access to energy is the basis of much of the current and future prosperity of the world. Eighty percent of this energy is derived from fossil fuel. The world has abundant fossil fuel reserves, particularly coal. The United States possesses one-quarter of the known coal supply, and the United States, Russia, China, and India account for two-thirds of the reserves. Coal accounts for roughly 25% of the world energy supply and 40% of the carbon emissions. It is highly unlikely that any of these countries will turn their back on coal any time soon, and for this reason, the capture and storage of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel power plants must be aggressively pursued.
Read more here...

For more information, see the Dept. of Energy Web site.

There are other sides to CCS, as indicated in the articles below:

Refitted to Bury Emissions, Plant Draws Attention
The technology is certain to devour a substantial amount of the plant’s energy output — optimists say 15 percent, and skeptics, 30 percent. Some energy experts argue that it could prove even more expensive than solar or nuclear power.

And as with any new technology, even the engineers are unsure how well it will work: will all of the carbon dioxide stay put?

Environmentalists who oppose coal mining and coal energy of any kind worry that sequestration could simply trade one problem, global warming, for another one, the pollution of water supplies. Should the carbon dioxide mix with water underground and form carbonic acid, they say, it could leach poisonous materials from rock deep underground that could then seep out. Read the full report in the NY Times.

Clean coal? Obama making $2.4 billion bet

More funding for controversial ‘carbon capture and storage’ research
Read more here.

Carbon capture and storage -- Trouble in store
Politicians are pinning their hopes for delivery from global warming on a technology that is not quite airtight. See the report in the Economist, here.

Blackout: Heinberg on dwindling coal reserves and the siren song of “clean coal”

There isn’t nearly as much coal left as most people think. “Clean coal” will run down limited reserves even faster. If humanity doesn’t begin massive, sustained investment in renewable power sources immediately, civilization could be at risk before the end of the century. And that’s without considering the impacts of climate change.

Right now the U.S. is on the verge of a momentous gamble, as reflected in the ACES bill: betting that long-term emission reductions can be achieved via carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). ACES postpones serious domestic reductions for over a decade on the assumption (hope?) that CCS technology will mature and drop in price enough to enable the indefinite use of coal. See the report at Grist.

Carbon Recycling - An alternative to carbon capture and storage
Legally, there are concerns over whether CO2 transport and long-term storage present human or ecosystem related risks and who is ultimately responsible if a leak occurs. While progress is underway in some countries, no country has yet developed the comprehensive, detailed legal and regulatory framework that is necessary to effectively govern the use of CCS.

So why expensively transport and store the CO2 underground when it could be profitably recycled post-capture? Read more here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sign on for a Clean Energy Future

US battles for credibility on climate change - 9/18/2009

WASHINGTON (AP) — With Congress moving slowly on a measure to curb industrial greenhouse gas emissions, the United States may find itself with little sway at the coming international conference to construct a new pact aimed at easing global warming.

In less than three months, 120 countries convene in Copenhagen for action on a successor agreement to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

That meeting, a U.N. summit on climate change next week and the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh days later are pressuring and imposing deadlines on Congress and the Obama administration, which has made work against climate change a top agenda issue.

The House passed a bill this year that would set the United States' first federal mandatory limits on greenhouse gases. Factories, power plants and other sources would be required to cut emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and by 83 percent by mid-century. By comparison, Japan is committed to cut its emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.

But with the Senate bogged down in the fight over reforming the health care system, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said this week that the senators might not move on climate legislation until next year.

That was too much for John Bruton, head of the European Union delegation in Washington. He issued a statement that pointed out that by the time the Senate acted, the climate change conference would have been ended, the delegates gone home.

"The United States is just one of the 190 countries coming to this conference," Bruton said, "but the United States emits 25 percent of all the greenhouse gases that the conference is trying to reduce. The full report is here.

Arctic could be free of summer sea ice by 2030
- 9/17/2009

 Framm Strait, Arctic — As the minimum area of summer Arctic sea-ice extent was today reported to have plummeted to the third-lowest level ever in recorded history according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise is hosting world-class sea ice expert Dr. Peter Wadhams, on a mission to conduct research into sea-ice loss in the Arctic Ocean, off the northeast coast of Greenland.

“We’re entering a new epoch of sea ice melt in the Arctic Ocean due to climate change,” said Dr. Peter Wadhams. “In five years’ time most of the sea-ice could be gone in summer with just an ‘Alamo of ice’ remaining north of Ellesmere Island. In 20 years’ time, that will also be gone, leaving the Arctic Ocean completely ice-free in summer. It’s clear we can’t rely on current models of prediction for sea-ice melt, as they have been constantly outpaced since the 1980s.”

Sea-ice extent has been in decline for the last 30 years, but the speed of that decline has accelerated in the last decade and especially so in the last four years, outpacing scientific predictions. In 2007, the area of summer sea-ice extent reached a level that was not predicted to occur until 2080, with 2008 coming in a close second. While this year’s low sea-ice extent did not surpass those of 2007 and 2008, it does suggest another significant acceleration of sea-ice melt in the Arctic Ocean.

“This puts U.S. policy on very thin ice,” said Damon Moglen, Global Warming Campaign Director for Greenpeace in the U.S. “With global warming advancing even more quickly than expected, President Obama needs to lead a far more ambitious, science-based response to the climate crisis.”
The full report from Greenpeace is here.

Obama Promise of Future Includes Clean Energy Revolution - 9/17/2009
President speaks at a rally at the University of Maryland, College Park
President Obama reiterated his promise to build a better future. While health care reform remained the topic of the day, Obama emphasized that the promise includes a clean energy revolution.

Good idea, Prez...Now let's DO IT!

Take action. Call for urgent Congressional approval of a comprehensive clean energy and climate plan that delivers clean energy jobs, less pollution, and a more secure America. Sign on to the CONSEQUENCE Campaign: Clean Energy Jobs NOW...or PAY LATER! Click here and Sign On for a clean energy future.

Just in case you're thinkin', ahhhhh, forget Congress. Let's just wait for the EPA to take care of this the article below, think again, and Sign On!

Energy Industry Stall Tactic: Embrace EPA - 9/18/2009
Groups That Decried EPA Regulation During Senate Climate Change Debate Now See an Opportunity

The EPA’s regulatory process is by nature slow and deliberate, with each regulation taking months to put in place. Once the regulatory process is completed, rules are often held up in years of litigation. And even if a regulation survives that, it can be reversed by a future administration. On the Clean Air Act specifically, the technologies necessary to meet the obligations of the law don’t yet exist for carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, though many did hope at one time for a climate bill this year, one that would give them more long-term certainty about carbon pricing, the House-passed Waxman-Markey climate bill is tougher than what many in the energy industry have lobbied to pass into law. Thus, the prospect of EPA regulations — once so feared by many in polluting industries — is now being welcomed as a stall tactic.

Read the full report by Kate Sheppard here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tar Sands Oil Protest at Niagara Falls

Activists from the group Rainforest Action Network hung a 70-foot banner over the U.S./Canadian border at Niagara Falls on Tuesday in an effort to pressure President Obama, who will host Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper tomorrow, to declare our northern neighbor's low-grade crude oil too dirty to import.[click photo to enlarge]

Canada supplies almost a fifth of U.S. oil imports, more than half of which now comes from the Alberta tar sands, making that region the largest single source of U.S. oil imports. Harper has lobbied hard for maintaining, and even increasing, those numbers.

Obama, in an earlier visit to Canada, signaled some skepticism.
Obama said: "We are very grateful for the relationship that we have with Canada, and Canada being our largest energy supplier, but I think that increasingly we have to take into account that the issue of climate change and greenhouse gases is something that's going to have an impact on all of us and as two relatively wealthy countries, it's important for us to show leadership."
Rightly so. Tar sands are just that—dirt with bitumen mixed in. It requires massive amounts of energy (and, as a result, three times the greenhouse gas emissions) to convert the stuff to crude, and processing it is also dirtier than refining standard petroleum. Read more  here.

A local report published in The Buffalo News is here.

Clean Energy WORKS!

Clean Energy Works is a diverse coalition of more than 60 grassroots organizations representing more than 12 million Americans. They are calling for urgent Congressional action on a comprehensive clean energy and climate plan that delivers clean energy jobs, less pollution, and a more secure America. 

Passing comprehensive energy and climate legislation will:
  • Create and protect millions of good American jobs by spurring investment in the nation's growing clean energy economy
  • Improve our national security by enhancing America's energy independence reducing our dependence on foreign oil and getting America running on clean energy
  • Reduce the carbon pollution that's harming our air and water, and endangering the health of the planet
Clean Energy Works  is a grassroots coalition that includes faith, labor, veterans, environmental, sportsmen, farm, business, youth, and community organizations.

Watch a TV ad from Clean Energy Works promoting strong, clean energy legislation:

The Clean Energy Works Web site is here.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Van Jones leaves White House

White House Adviser Van Jones Resigns Amid Controversy Over Past Activism

Washington Post (Sept. 6, 2009 ) -- White House environmental adviser Van Jones resigned Saturday after weeks of controversy stemming from his past activism.

"On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me," Jones, special adviser for green jobs at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said in a statement announcing his resignation just after midnight Saturday. "They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide."

He continued: "I have been inundated with calls -- from across the political spectrum -- urging me to 'stay and fight.' But I came here to fight for others, not for myself. I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past. We need all hands on deck, fighting for the future."

Jones issued two public apologies in recent days, one for signing a petition that questioned whether Bush administration officials "may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war" and the other for using a crude term to describe Republicans in a speech he gave before joining the administration.

Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) called on Jones to resign Friday, saying in a statement, "His extremist views and coarse rhetoric have no place in this administration or the public debate."

Senator Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.) urged Congress to investigate Jones's "fitness" for the position, writing in an open letter, "Can the American people trust a senior White House official that is so cavalier in his association with such radical and repugnant sentiments?" On Saturday, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, wrote on his Twitter account, "Van Jones has to go."

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday that Jones "continues to work for the administration" -- but he did not state that the adviser enjoys the full support of President Obama, instead referring questions to the environmental council where he worked.

Jones, a towering figure in the environmental movement, had worked for the White House Council on Environmental Quality since March. He was a civil-rights activist in California before turning his focus to environmental and energy issues, and he won wide praise before joining the Obama administration for articulating a broad vision of a green economy Democrats could embrace.


Van Jones has left the White House and will be back in action amongst the people. This will only create new and better opportunities for this great American and marvelous human being. Watch, listen and learn as he speaks about the climate crisis, the economic crisis, environmental justice, and Green jobs.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

We need a Clean Energy Revolution

Excerpts from a post at Grist by Senator Bernie Sanders

The United States today spends some $400 billion a year importing oil from countries like Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Mexico, Russia, and Venezuela. Think for a moment what an incredible impact that same $400 billion a year could have on our country if that money were invested here and not abroad, in such areas as weatherization, energy efficiency, sustainable energies like wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, public transportation and automobiles that are energy efficient or don’t use fossil fuels at all.

What we are talking about is an energy revolution that leads us toward energy independence, the cessation of support for foreign dictatorships and the ability to avoid Mideast wars fought over oil. What we are talking about is an energy revolution that will substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enable us to address the global warming crisis that threatens our planet with increases in floods, drought, extreme weather conditions, disease and wars fought over limited natural resources. What we are talking about is an energy revolution that will result in cleaner air, water and food and make us a healthier nation.

And, as our nation struggles to recover from the worst economic times since the Great Depression, what we also are talking about is an energy revolution that has the capability of creating millions of good-paying green jobs.

I see a future where by 2025, we are producing a quarter or more of our electricity from clean, sustainable energy sources. I see a revitalized American manufacturing base where instead of importing 90 percent of the batteries used in hybrid vehicles, 46 percent of solar photovoltaic cells and modules, and half of all wind turbines used in the U.S., those product are made right here at home. I see a future where American companies lead the world in the production of hybrid-plug in cars and electric vehicles.

I see a future where instead of creating 330 jobs to build yet another fossil-fuel power plant, we create 4,000 jobs building a solar thermal plant that has no carbon dioxide emissions and does not pollute our air because the only fuel is endlessly renewed, no-cost sunlight. These plants, according to the Interior Department secretary, could provide up to 29 percent of the electrical needs of our country.

The bad news is that if we do not act boldly to address the global warming crisis, the consequences for our planet and future generations will be dire. The good news is that we have the knowledge and technology today, which will only improve in the future, to address that crisis. Yes, we can dramatically cut greenhouse gas emission. Yes, we can create an energy independent nation. Yes, we can create millions of good paying green jobs in the process. Let’s do it! The full post is here.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Economy in Shambles, Midwest Goes Green

The U.S. Midwest finally has recognized that the industries that once powered its economy will never return. Now leaders in the region are looking to renewable energy manufacturing and technologies as key to the heartland’s renaissance.

Mariah Power manufactures distinctive vertical axis wind generating turbines and displayed them at the Michigan Energy Fair in Onekama, Mich. Four years ago, when the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association chose this tiny Lake Michigan town to host an annual display of the latest in alternative energy technology, most residents thought of climate change and clean energy with the same disregard as lawmakers in Washington.

This year, however, the Michigan Energy Fair attracted 5,000 visitors over three days. And today Manistee County is home to Mariah Power, which builds its Windspire turbines in a new manufacturing plant that employs more than 40 people now and 100 people by the end of the year.

Mariah, which exports most of its residential-scale windmills to Europe, is the first new manufacturing facility in Manistee County in a generation. It
also is one of the more than 30 clean energy manufacturers — spanning wind, solar, geothermal, and the energy conservation and efficiency sectors — that have established new production facilities in Michigan in the last 20 months, generating more than 3,000 new jobs.

Largely guided by the region’s governors, Republican and Democrat alike, the Midwestern states independently developed new economic strategies that transcended politics. Between 2006 and 2008, all of the Upper Great Lakes states except Indiana approved renewable energy standards that required utilities to generate a portion of their power from alternative sources of energy.

Ohio and Michigan produced new multi-billion dollar bond programs to encourage entrepreneurs and help existing manufacturers retool, not only to produce equipment to meet the new standards but also to build clean vehicles, energy-efficient appliances, and other durable clean-energy goods. Wisconsin and Illinois focused on new research and economic development strategies to leverage their agriculture industries to produce clean biofuels. The Midwestern states also are providing support to community colleges for green-collar job training and encouraging universities to collaborate on clean energy projects.

Read the full article by Keith Schneider here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

News Briefs -- 7.17.2009

Obama airs plan to prepare for new jobs - 7/15/2009
WARREN, Mich. (AP) — Conceding unemployment will get worse before it shrinks, President Obama on Tuesday unveiled a $12 billion plan to help community colleges prepare millions of people for a new generation of jobs. Challenging critics, he said he welcomed the task of turning around the economy.

Obama proposed an “American Graduation Initiative” to bolster the two-year community college field that serves millions of students as a launching point for careers or a step toward expanded higher education. The idea is to train people for jobs, such as those expected in the clean energy industry, when the economy turns around and begins to create jobs again. Read the full report here.

Senate must improve House version of climate bill - 7/16/2009
Another Voice / Global warming / By Lauren Schuster
A major bone of contention is the question of how the bill should limit fossil fuel pollution without hurting the average consumer. The energy industry argues that requiring companies to pay for the right to pollute will drive up their costs, which will be passed down to consumers.

Fortunately, there is a more equitable way to insulate consumers against increased energy costs. Originally, President Obama called for a cap-and-trade system that auctioned off 100 percent of pollution allowances. The revenue generated from the auction process would then be returned directly and equally to every American, about $1,000 per person each year, to help offset the increased cost of energy. Read the full report here.

Thomas L. Friedman: Pass this awful legislation - 7/2/2009
The cap-and-trade bill is a mess; here's why Congress must approve it
"There is much in the House cap-and-trade energy bill that just passed that I absolutely hate."

"Now let's get it passed in the Senate and make it law."

"Why? Because, for all its flaws, this bill is the first comprehensive attempt by America to mitigate climate change by putting a price on carbon emissions. Rejecting this bill would be read in the world as America voting against the reality and urgency of climate change and would undermine clean energy initiatives everywhere." Read the full report here.

DC Hill update: Senate committee action set for September
- 7/13/2009

Much work remains to be done to gain support for a strong climate bill. Strong grassroots pressure will be key for supporting strong policy proposed by climate champions, as well as for preventing serious weakening.

Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has recently shifted the release of a discussion draft and mark up to September. The new schedule for Senate energy and climate bill mark up is at

Pickens’ energy campaign sputters as fuel prices drop - 7/12/2009
NEW YORK (AP) — The past year has been tough on T. Boone Pickens and his $60 million mission to wean America off of foreign oil. Over the past 12 months, Pickens pressed the public to rethink its use of energy. His “Pickens Plan” called for a number of changes such as investing in wind and solar energy, rebuilding the country’s electrical grid and replacing gasoline with natural gas in cars and trucks.

But Pickens plan has run into some sizable hurdles, most notably a crash in energy prices. Pickens said that federal support for natural gas vehicles would give his energy plan a true victory. So would energy legislation that installs a cap-and- trade system. Read the full report here.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Jason Kowalski: Clean Energy & Climate Bill

Jason Kowalski, Policy Analyst for in Washington DC, discusses the recently-passed American Clean Energy and Security bill and its implications for a global emissions agreement and creating new jobs in a TV news interview shown below and here (mobile phone link).

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Clean Energy Economy

Opening the Door to a Clean Energy Economy
President Obama praised historic energy legislation passed by the House of Representatives on Friday. The legislation will help America create green jobs, ensure clean air for our children, move towards energy independence and combat climate change. Watch his Weekly Address in the video below or here:

Portions of the transcript of the President's address:
"Make no mistake: this is a jobs bill. We’re already seeing why this is true in the clean energy investments we’re making through the Recovery Act. In California, 3000 people will be employed to build a new solar plant that will create 1000 permanent jobs. In Michigan, investment in wind turbines and wind technology is expected to create over 2,600 jobs. In Florida, three new solar projects are expected to employ 1400 people."

"The list goes on and on, but the point is this: this legislation will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy. That will lead to the creation of new businesses and entire new industries. And that will lead to American jobs that pay well and cannot be outsourced. I have often talked about the need to build a new foundation for economic growth so that we do not return to the endless cycle of bubble and bust that led us to this recession. Clean energy and the jobs it creates will be absolutely critical to this new foundation."

"This legislation has also been written carefully to address the concerns that many have expressed in the past. Instead of increasing the deficit, it is paid for by the polluters who currently emit dangerous carbon emissions. It provides assistance to businesses and families as they make the gradual transition to clean energy technologies. It gives rural communities and farmers the opportunity to participate in climate solutions and generate new income. And above all, it will protect consumers from the costs of this transition, so that in a decade, the price to the average American will be just about a postage stamp a day."

The full transcript is here.

To see how Congress members across the country voted on the bill, view an interactive map of the US and lists of votes at The NY Times.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Clean Energy SAVES Money

Climate 2030: A National Blueprint for a Clean Energy Economy
A New Analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists

The United States has many reasons to make the transition to a clean energy economy:
Reducing oil dependence. Strengthening energy security. Creating jobs. Tackling global warming. Addressing air pollution. Improving our health.

What we need is a comprehensive set of smart policies to jump-start this transition without delay and maximize the benefits to our environment and economy.
Climate 2030: A National Blueprint for a Clean Energy Economy (“the Blueprint”) answers that need.

Under the Blueprint, every region of the country stands to save billions. Households and businesses—even in coal-dependent regions—will share in these savings.

Net Consumer and Business Savings (by Census Region in 2030)

A link to the full report by the Union of Concerned Scientists is here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

World Business meets on Climate Change

Six months prior to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen, the World Business Summit on Climate Change brings together CEOs, government representatives, scientists and thought leaders to put forward recommendations for the next global treaty on climate change.

At the Summit, global leaders, through workshops and debates, will learn about and develop the latest low-carbon solutions as well as present the most advanced and innovative business strategies to combat climate change.

The goal of the Summit is to demonstrate how policy, coupled with innovative business models, can drive a sustainable transformation of the economy and stimulate job creation and low-carbon solutions.

World Business Summit on Climate Change is going on now in Copenhagen.
The Website link is here. A link to videos, including a fine keynote speech by Al Gore, is here.

UPDATE, May 26:
Gore, Ban urge business leaders to help reduce greenhouse gases.
Despite the global financial crisis, both Ban and Gore said there was no time for delay in hashing out the specifics of how to cut greenhouse gases that contribute to warming the planet.
“We have to do it this year. Not next year. This year,” Gore said. “The clock is ticking, because Mother Nature does not do bailouts.” The full AP report is here.

UPDATE, May 27:
The Copenhagen Call
Global business leaders at the World Business Summit on Climate Change call on political leaders to agree an ambitious and effective global climate treaty at COP15 in Copenhagen. Sustainable economic progress requires stabilizing and then reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Success at COP15 will remove uncertainty, unleash additional investment, and bolster current efforts to revive growth in a sustainable way. The full document is here.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Energy & Climate Bill passes Committee

Energy and Commerce Committee Passes Clean Energy Legislation
The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved "The American Clean Energy and Security Act" (ACES Act, H.R. 2454) by a vote of 33 to 25 on May 21, 2009. According to co-sponsors Henry Waxman and Ed Markey, the bill charts a new course towards a clean energy economy. It imposes the first nationwide limits to greenhouse gas emissions. The bill was called 'historic' by President Obama.

The ACES Act proposes to create millions of new clean energy jobs, save consumers hundreds of billions of dollars in energy costs, enhance America's energy independence, and cut global warming pollution. Passage of such legislation this year is said to be crucial to demonstrate U.S. leadership on limiting greenhouse gas emissions prior to the international meeting in Copenhagen in December. Read more about the bill here.

Landmark Climate Bill Supported By Industry Giants and Enviros
According to the Energy Committee, supporters of the bill include BP America, Caterpillar, Conoco, Dow Chemical, GE, Johnson & Johnson, Shell and Siemens. Among community and environmental groups, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, American Lung Association and Center for American Progress have given their support, as reported here.

Has anyone actually read the entire ACES bill?
Don't have time to read the nearly 1000 page ACES bill? No problem. has read it and has provided a preliminary analysis. The analysis is condensed in tabular form for easy reading, and can be obtained here. Contact Jason Kowalski at with any questions or comments.

Greens take sides on the ACES bill
Longtime climate crusader Al Gore says we should do all we can to get the legislation passed, while top climate scientist James Hansen says we should demand a different, better bill, according to Lisa Hymas, Grist's senior editor.

Gore says the bill is a good starting point, and that efforts to reach compromise on it have boosted its chances of passing both the House and the Senate. He believes that he key role of the legislation is to begin that shift to lower emissions.

According to James Hansen, “The revised Waxman-Markey climate bill is too watered down to qualify as a positive step for avoiding catastrophic climate disruption.

Activists and environmental groups are picking sides or staking out positions in the middle, is viewed to be in the middle, along with goups such as NRDC, Sierra Club, Apollo Alliance, Earthjustice, League of Conservation Voters, and many others.

Jesse Jenkins, of the Breakthrough Institute, believes that to drive the transition and jump-start a new energy economy we must, “make clean energy the profitable kind of energy,” as President Obama has said. The gap in price between our traditional sources of energy and new, clean energy sources, like wind, solar power and biofuels, must be closed, and this can be done in two ways. We can make conventional, dirtier energy sources more expensive. Or we can make new, clean energy sources more affordable. Jesse Jenkins worries that as currently drafted, the ACES bill will fail to effectively utilize either option, and therefore prove unable to reduce emissions or truly build a new clean energy economy.

But it ain't over, 'till it's over
The ACES bill still has quite a ways to go before passage by the full House. According to Grist's political reporter, Kate Sheppard, at least six other House committees have jurisdiction over some portion of this bill, including the Ways and Means Committee, which oversees legislation pertaining to taxes and other revenue sources. In that committee, John Larson (D-Conn.) has offered a carbon-tax bill and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) has proposed a cap-and-dividend bill. Kate Sheppard writes that they will want to play a role in shaping the final legislation.

Follow the ACES Bill Debate and Updates on Twitter at Grist

Sunday, May 3, 2009

350: A Number to Hang a Carbon Cap On

A team of scientists, led by NASA climatologist Dr. James Hansen, has determined that 350 parts per million (ppm) is the safe level of heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) which we must get below in order to preserve climates similar to which life on Earth is adapted. The level now is 387 ppm, and is increasing at least by 2 ppm per year. We need to start now and reduce the level of CO2 below 350 ppm.

Scientists studying Antarctic ice cores that include more than 650,000 years of past climate history have never found CO2 levels even close to those of the present ones. Pre-Industrial Revolution levels, i.e., before the extensive burning of fossil fuels, were at 275 ppm, far below the current level of 387 ppm.

The CO2 level recorded prior to industrial fossil-fuel burning is that which trapped enough heat to maintain global temperatures to which life on Earth adapted. At the current elevated level of heat-trapping CO2, the Earth is showing signs of a planetary "fever".

Arctic sea is melting, sea levels are rising, and climate patterns around the globe are changing. Glaciers, the source of drinking water for hundreds of millions of people, are melting and disappearing. Disease-carrying mosquitoes that thrive in a warmer world are spreading to new places including south Texas. Drought is becoming more common, making food crops harder to grow in many regions.

Environmentalist and author, Bill McKibben, thinks that 350 is the most important number on Earth. In fact, he founded an international movement called simply 350, aiming to inform people around the world that 350 ppm is the level scientists have identified as the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere. Hopefully, this will help move international climate negotiations closer to science than they’ve been in the past.

McKibben aims to create a world-wide grassroots movement connected by the internet and to hold decision-makers accountable to producing a climate treaty that is strong, equitable, and grounded in the latest science, the science of 350. On October 24, is holding a Global Day of Climate Action to do just this. “We hope it represents a climactic moment in the climate movement to show that people around the world are watching the outcome in Copenhagen,” says May Boeve, an international 350 coordinator. “We need a strong treaty to get us to a safe level. We are ultimately building toward that point.”

So how do we reduce the CO2 level below 350?
  • No more new coal plants, because although the world still has immense amounts of coal, it's immensely dirty.
  • A cap on the amount of carbon the country can produce, with permits paid for by the upstream producer who mines, imports, or sells the fossil fuel .
  • An international agreement, including China and India, to do the same thing around the world.
If the global 350 movement succeeds, McKibben has hope that we can get the world back to climate safety. It won't be easy, because the planet is already developing a fever, and prompt action is necessary. Visit to learn more about how you can help.

This weekend there were two conferences focused on that single number, 350. "Getting to 350" was held at Middlebury College in Vermont, and "The 350 Climate Conference" was held at Columbia University in New York. James Hansen spoke at Columbia and via video conference at Middlebury. Bill McKibben spoke at Middlebury via video conference from the other side of the planet in New Zealand, where he is spreading the word about the most important number on Earth.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Soot/Black Carbon: Quick Climate Fix?

The chief culprit in global warming is carbon dioxide. But recent studies show that black carbon - microscopic airborne particles commonly known as soot - is also a big factor. According to a recent study, black carbon may account for as much as half of Arctic warming. Along with deep cuts in CO2, curbing black carbon is crucial for slowing Arctic and global warming, and for averting catastrophic tipping points such as the melting of sea ice and the Greenland ice sheet.

Black carbon comes from diesel engines, industrial smokestacks and residential cooking and heating stoves. Most black carbon that falls in the Arctic comes from North America, Europe and Asia. Because black carbon air pollution is also a leading cause of respiratory illness and death, controlling emissions will save lives and improve health around the world. In India alone, black carbon-laden indoor smoke is responsible for over 400,000 premature deaths annually, mostly of women and children.

The direct absorption of sunlight by black carbon heats the atmosphere. When black carbon falls on snow and ice, it reduces reflectivity and speeds up melting. The good news: Because black carbon stays in the atmosphere for only days or weeks, moving quickly to expand existing technology can be an effective rapid response to slow warming, buying critical time to achieve reductions in CO2.

Starting April 28, the nations of the Arctic Council, including the United States, will meet in Tromso, Norway, where action to slow Arctic warming such as reducing black carbon will be a major focus. The U.S. and Europe must lead on this issue by committing to stricter standards at home for diesel engines and other sources of black carbon pollution, and by committing to increased financial and technological assistance to the developing world to reduce black carbon pollution from diesel, home cooking and heating and other sources.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will send a team to represent the United States at Tromso. While she was still in the Senate, she co-sponsored a bill on black carbon and visited the Arctic to see the devastating effects of climate change first hand. Now, as her team prepares for the Arctic Council Ministerial, we must let her and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson know we understand how important it is for the United States to lead the way.

Take action to Stop Soot. To send an e-mail message to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, click on the "STOP SOOT" tab at

Sunday, April 5, 2009

News Briefs -- 4.5.2009

Kansas Coal Plant Bill: Legislature OKs, But Veto by Gov Likely
AP -- 4/3/2009
A bill allowing two coal-fired power plants in southwest Kansas won final legislative approval Friday, but supporters failed again to generate the support they need to override an expected veto by the governor.

The bill goes next to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who objects to provisions that would overturn an October 2007 decision by her administration that prevented Sunflower Electric Power Corp. from building the plants in Finney County.

Rod Bremby, Sebelius' Secretary of Health and Environment, denied Sunflower an air-quality permit, citing the plants' potential carbon dioxide emissions. Sebelius also opposes provisions limiting the Secretary's power to regulate greenhouse gases linked by many scientists to global warming and preventing the secretary from using emergency powers to deny an air-quality permit in the name of protecting the environment or public health.

Those provisions are tied to others designed to encourage the development of wind farms and other renewable energy sources. The full report is here.

Obama climate plans face long route for passage
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Senate vote this week rejected an effort to put climate-change legislation on a fast track, making it harder for Congress to put limits on greenhouse gas emissions this year.

Democratic leaders and the Obama administration had floated the idea of using the federal budget to move cap-and-trade legislation through Congress. Making the plan part of the budget would enable it to pass with a simple majority.

But the Senate on Wednesday voted 67-to-31 in favor of a measure blocking lawmakers from attaching a cap-and-trade bill to the federal budget.

Democrats now will need 60 votes in the Senate to end a potential filibuster of any bill to create a system limiting greenhouse gas emissions and requiring industry to buy permits to release gasses blamed for global warming. The full report is here.

Discussion Draft of New Clean Energy Legislation Released
Chairman Henry A. Waxman of the Energy and Commerce Committee and Chairman Edward J. Markey of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee released a draft of clean energy legislation. The American Clean Energy and Security Act will create millions of new clean energy jobs, save consumers hundreds of billions of dollars in energy costs, enhance America’s energy independence, and cut global warming pollution. To meet these goals, the legislation has four titles:
  • A clean energy title that promotes renewable sources of energy, carbon capture and sequestration technologies, low-carbon fuels, clean electric vehicles, and the smart grid and electricity transmission;
  • An energy efficiency title that increases energy efficiency across all sectors of the economy, including buildings, appliances, transportation, and industry;
  • A global warming title that places limits on emissions of heat-trapping pollutants; and
  • A transitioning title that protects U.S. consumers and industry and promotes green jobs during the transition to a clean energy economy.
Link Waxman's Website is here.

DC Climate Bills Blooming like Cherry Blossoms
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) had a different idea on what to do about climate, and particularly with all the money the government might raise by putting a price on carbon.

Van Hollen has proposed a "cap and dividend" scheme. It's noteworthy because he's assistant to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and no slouch on energy and environmental issues, as co-chair of a House renewable energy caucus.

The emission targets vary slightly from the Waxman-Markey draft bill, but where Van Hollen's plan is different is that he would have the government give back to consumers the millions and billions raised by auctioning off credits or rights to emit limited quantities of greenhouse gases.

Under Obama's plan, roughly two thirds of the money raised through those carbon auctions would be returned in tax breaks. But Van Hollen's proposing to give all of it back, returning 100% of auction proceeds in the form of a monthly Consumer Dividend to every lawful resident of the United States with a valid Social Security number. See the full report at the Baltimore Sun blog.

Wind turbines could more than meet U.S. electricity needs
The Interior Department report, which looks at the potential of wind turbines off the U.S. coast, is part of the government's process to chart a course for offshore energy development.
Los Angeles Times -- 4/3/2009
Arlington, Va. -- Wind turbines off U.S. coastlines could potentially supply more than enough electricity to meet the nation's current demand, the Interior Department reported Thursday.

Simply harnessing the wind in relatively shallow waters -- the most accessible and technically feasible sites for offshore turbines -- could produce at least 20% of the power demand for most coastal states, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said, unveiling a report by the Minerals Management Service that details the potential for oil, gas and renewable development on the outer continental shelf.

The biggest wind potential lies off the nation's Atlantic coast, which the Interior report estimates could produce 1,000 gigawatts of electricity -- enough to meet a quarter of the national demand. The full report is here.

Offshore windpower is also feasible within the U.S. on the Great Lakes. Video discussing the possibility of Offshore Windpower on Lake Erie in Buffalo is here, presented by Dave Bradley.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Senator Boxer: Global Warming Action

On March 19th, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, delivered remarks on the path forward for addressing global warming, including legislation and other actions. Included in her speech were the following prinicples:

The primary goals of this legislation would be to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid dangerous global warming while promoting economic growth and energy independence. To achieve these goals, legislation to cut global warming pollution shall:

1. Reduce emissions to levels guided by science to avoid dangerous global warming.

2. Set short and long term emissions targets that are certain and enforceable, with periodic review of the climate science and adjustments to targets and policies as necessary to meet emissions reduction targets.

3. Ensure that state and local entities continue pioneering efforts to address global warming.

4. Establish a transparent and accountable market-based system that efficiently reduces carbon emissions.

5. Use revenues from the carbon market to:

- Keep consumers whole as our nation transitions to clean energy;
- Invest in clean energy technologies and energy efficiency measures;
- Assist states, localities and tribes in addressing and adapting to global warming impacts;
- Assist workers, businesses and communities, including manufacturing states, in the transition to a clean energy economy;
- Support efforts to conserve wildlife and natural systems threatened by global warming; and
-Work with the international community, including faith leaders, to provide support to developing nations in responding and adapting to global warming. In addition to other benefits, these actions will help avoid the threats to international stability and national security posed by global warming.

6. Ensure a level global playing field, by providing incentives for emission reductions and effective deterrents so that countries contribute their fair share to the international effort to combat global warming.

A video of her speech, and the transcript are here.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

PowerShift: Climate-Energy Legislation Now

The Power Shift '09 Lobby Day on March 2nd was the largest lobby day on climate and energy in our nation's history. Power Shift '09 called on the United States Congress to pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation in 2009 that adheres to the following principles:

1. Cut Carbon Dramatically and Immediately
  • Reduce global warming pollution by the targets science tells us are necessary: 25%-40% below 1990 levels by 2020; and 80%-95% below 1990 levels by 2050.
  • Set an aggressive cap on carbon immediately. If a cap-and-auction mechanism is chosen, 100% of pollution allowances must be auctioned. Any revenue generated from this cap must be used to address the climate crisis in a just and equitable way; none of this money should go to polluting industries.
  • Conserve and restore the world’s forests, ecosystems, and carbon sinks, which are the best natural defense in a warming world.

2. Invest in a Green Economy

  • Create 5 million new jobs through investments in clean energy
  • Develop a “Clean Energy Corps” to create service, training, and job opportunities in the clean energy economy
  • Train a generation of workers and volunteers to build our clean energy future and help communities adapt to the already changing climate

3. Power our Future With Clean Energy, not Dirty Fuels

  • We see a future powered by clean, renewable energy like wind, solar, and geothermal; 100% of our electricity should come from these sources, and we should invest in sustainable transit and energy efficiency
  • End our dependence on dirty energy by enacting a moratorium on financing and development of new coal and nuclear plants, and oil shale and tar sands infrastructure
  • Immediately begin phasing out dirty and dangerous energy sources and methods of extraction, while also ensuring a just transition for affected workers and communities

4. Lead the World to a Clean and Equitable Energy Future

  • Work with other nations to reach a strong new global climate treaty in Copenhagen that puts us on track to reduce carbon below 350 parts per million
  • Assist vulnerable communities and developing countries in the transition to low-carbon economies and with adaptation to the changing climate

The future of the young people hangs in the balance of Congressional decisions. There is no waiting. There is no higher priority. As such, young citizens who support the Power Shift '09 principles demand the passage of bold climate and energy legislation in 2009.

The full document is at Power Shift '09 Lobby Day article about Power Shift '09: Environmentalism, Millennial-Style

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Liberty, Justice & Clean Energy for All

The Capitol Climate Action, a protest held in Washington DC at the U.S. Capitol Power Plant on March 2nd, was a huge success. This was a non-violent protest and no one was arrested. Around 2,000 people showed up, despite a freak snow storm and cold weather in DC.

The protest was about generating energy by burning coal, the largest single contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change. We heard from NASA's Dr. James Hansen, climate change guru. We also heard from Bill McKibben, environmentalist author of The End of Nature (1989), the first book on global warming for a general audience. But the protest was about more than global warming. Young people, whose futures are on the line, were shouting exuberant chants such as:
Tell me what Democracy looks like,
THIS is what Democracy looks like!

Many of these young adults had attended the PowerShift '09 conference, and were in DC to lobby Congress for a clean energy future with green jobs and environmental justice.

We saw all sorts of placards: Coal stinks! Coal is dirty! Coal makes us sick! Stop Coal!

We heard from indigenous peoples speaking with the utmost respect for the environment and "Mother Earth", and who view the seams of underground coal as her "liver". These people are being pushed off their land in the southwest to make way for coal strip mines. Others can't eat the fish from their waterways because of mercury contamination from burning coal.

We heard from a local resident who lives one block from the Capitol Power Plant who told of getting "rained on" by power plant emissions that later had to be removed her car windshield with an ice scrapper. She also told of a high cancer incidence on her street, in people and in dogs.

A woman from Australia where coal and uranium are mined for export said, "We are dying to give the world energy!"

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. gave a rousing speech, saying that coal companies could not survive in the marketplace if they had to pay their own freight, referring to the heavy government subsidies that taxpayers provide to keep coal "cheap". He also talked about the negative impact on public health of mercury pollution and particulates from coal-fired power plants, and the environmental devastation of coal mining by mountaintop removal.
Below is a brief video interview about the protest with R.F.K.Jr. just before the march to the power plant:

There were many other luminaries, celebrities and concerned citizens who spoke. Here's a sampling of the Capitol Power Plant protest NEWS:
UPDATE, March 4th: Protest video from Capitol Climate Action: