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).