Category Archives: Energy

Nassau County Executive Candidates Curran, Martins Address Environmental Issues in NYLCV Forum

Eric Alexander of Vision Long Island; Adrienne Esposito of Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment; Nick Sifuentes of Tri-State Transportation Campaign; Marcia Bystryn, President of New York League of Conservation Voters; Kathleen Watchorn, coordinator of projects and programs for Adelphi University organized a Nassau County Executive Candidates Forum on Environment & Sustainability © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund hosted the 2017 Nassau County Executive Candidate Forum on Environment & Sustainability at Adelphi University in Garden City on October 15. The format was a panel of three posing questions to the candidates individually and separately, first to Laura Curran, the Democratic candidate, then, in a second session, posing the same questions to the Republican candidate, Jack Martins. With the Trump Administration and Republican Congress pulling back on environmental protection and climate action, the stand that localities take becomes more significant. What follows is a loosely edited transcription, putting the candidates’ replies together after each question—Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Opening Statements:

Laura Curran, Democratic candidate for Nassau County Executive at the New York League of Conservation Voters Nassau County Executive Candidates Forum on Environment & Sustainability © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Laura Curran: I never planned to get involved in politics. I wanted to help my schools, my community, succeed. That sparked my interest to step up and serve the community in a bigger way – I have been in the Nassau County Legislature for four years, I am proud to have worked across the aisle when it was the right thing to do for the people I represent –For example, I was able to restore 10 bus routes that were cut.

As a legislator, I have had a front row seat to the corruption, the mismanagement [of county government]. I know how hard people work, the high taxes we pay. I believe we deserve a government that lives up to us. When I hear about indictments, it’s clear that the machine is breaking down, is not accountable to the people.

Jack Martins: I believe strongly in the Kenyan proverb, we don’t inherit the land from our parents we borrow it from our children. That is motivating. It hasn’t always been the case – water quality, the way we have treated sole-source aquifer historically, the lack of comprehensive sewering, nitrogen outflow to bays and and Sound, have significant environmental issues that is our responsibility to take care of and not simply kick the can down the road. Options for us – priorities, investments in infrastructure – I have had a history of working across the aisle – with Schimel in Assembly – But if there is a critical issue for us here in Long Island it’s water. Environmental sensitivity, wind energy, opportunities for our economy, need to expand bus service.

Jack Martins, Republican candidate for Nassau County Executive at the New York League of Conservation Voters Nassau County Executive Candidates Forum on Environment & Sustainability © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Addressing Nitrogen Loading

 Adrienne Esposito, Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment: You know the first question: nitrogen. The Bay Park sewage treatment plant is responsible for 85% of the nitrogen loading into the western bays and the western bays are dying – depleted fish, closed shellfish beds, wetlands degrading. The solution is to combine Long Beach with Bay Park, take treated effluent, use the water viaduct currently in place, and discharge out the Cedar Creek ocean outfall pipe. Will you expedite the process of hooking up Long Beach to Bay Park to the existing pipe to the ocean outflow pipe – so bays can be restored and thrive? 

Curran: This is a very exciting project. The county was trying to get outflow pipe for bay…. It’s expensive. The county wasn’t able to get (funding?) from the state, federal government. [But] this is an example of how government works well: smart guys had a eureka moment: they realized there is a viaduct under Sunrise Highway,100 years old from an old waterworks, so big, a grown man could stand up in it .What if we bring water up to the viaduct, out to Cedar Creek, 6-7 miles, then there is 2 mile outflow pipe already in Cedar Creek? Altogether it would be half the cost. A viability study showed the plan is viable – they would put a  polymer sleeve inside.

The key is expediting [the plan]. We have to work closely with towns and villages because we’ve got to get the treated effluent from Bay Park up the viaduct and back down. We’ve got to work with communities on either side, so we have to make sure they understand and have buy in –we  don’t want to shove it down people’s throats. It will reduce the amount of nitrogen into the bays immediately, restore the shellfish. It doesn’t take long before nature will rebound. It would be good for economy, too. A win- win.

Jack Martins: There is a critical need on Long Island, how we discharge effluent into South Bay. Right now, both Long Beach and Bay Park go to Reynolds Channel and we know the effect. Someone came up with the ingenious proposal to connect via existing viaduct – the most complicated part is how to connect from Bay Park to the water viaduct…The viaduct is viable, we can move forward immediately…There are a couple of different options. The sooner we close Long Beach sewer treatment plant …Connect Cedar Creek – lateral to plant to outflow – and discharged 3 miles out. It’s important because of nitrogen loading [which] killed the shellfish industry, killed coastal wetlands. We realized after Sandy that those coastal wetlands protect against tidal surge during these 100-year storms. That’s my commitment, that’s what we will do.

Complete Streets 

Eric Alexander of Vision Long Island © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Eric Alexander, Vision Long Island: This issue is on human level: Nassau County has some of most dangerous roads in NYS for pedestrian, bikers, – restaurants, downtowns, growing 55-plus population, growing number of young people who don’t want to drive – what will you do to encourage walkability, ‘Complete Streets’. 

Curran – I often talk about how transit oriented development [TOD] will be what saves us as a region – it keeps young people, empty nesters, creates a tax base, jobs. But [existing] infrastructure doesn’t quite support TOD. There are places where we have to reengineer what already have.

I live in Baldwin in the town of Hempstead. We  won $5 million in funding for a Complete Streets project to redo our main road, Grand Ave, to make it more navigable for bikers, walkers, cars and buses. This is called a “road diet“:  taking two lanes in each direction and turning them into one lane in each for the part of the road that’s in the plan. There is [often] a lot of resistance because people are concerned about change, that it will take longer. But [delays are mitigated by] engineering traffic lights, making turn lanes that fan out so drivers can get to lights in time – that will make it more navigable. But when people can walk around, ride bikes, have alternatives to using a car, people tend to spend more money – they want to stop, shop – which is good for economic development. We’re built up in Nassau County, so we need to reengineer what we already have. That’s what we are doing in Baldwin. I am looking forward to working with zoning municipalities.

Martins: As we consider the next generation of downtown residents, transit oriented development, how we get around safely. I supported Safe Streets legislation in Albany – it made a requirement that when we reengineer streets, we do so in a way that is safe for cars but also pedestrians and cyclists. For us, it’s a question of who we are as a county. We have to have every option for transit – bicycles, pedestrians. We need to make sure we keep roads safe. I represented one of the most dangerous areas in New York State – Hempstead Turnpike – more fatalities – Complete Streets have to be integral to what we do. The county has hundreds of miles of county roads, some of the most heavily traveled in the country. As roads are redesigned, maintained, [we need to be] using Complete Streets [strategies]. That is my commitment. As we stress the need for transit-oriented development, Complete Streets are more important [including] connectivity to train stations.

Improving Public Transportation 

Nick Sifuentes of Tri-State Transportation Campaign © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Nick Sifuentes, Tri-State Transportation Campaign: Transit oriented development requires good transit – something that is slipping. Governor Cuomo announced an advisory council to address dual crises: congestion in/out of New York City, and lack of funding for MTA (including Long Island Railroad). As the future leader of Nassau County what are the policies and proposals you would like to see?

Curran: I would make sure we have strong advocate on the council – Suffolk has a strong guy, Nassau, we don’t even know who it is. I am happy that the third track is on track, because we need to ease getting on/off the island – how trains operate. I would also look to buses and encourage more people to ride the bus even if they don’t have to [instead of driving]. The more choice bus riders, the better we will be. There are interesting examples all over the country: ideas include creating smaller, more flexible routes, more app-based routes to make an appointment to catch a bus. I am excited to pursue these: for every $1 spent on bus transit generates many more dollars in economic activity. It’s not just poor people who need to use buses. It is obviously important for people to take buses to doctors appointments, university, jobs. That’s economic development… Also ride-sharing –I’m glad it’s [now] legal in Nassau County – young people aren’t driving as much.

Martins: Make mass transit more affordable. Use it to make LIRR more affordable, encourage people to leave their cars. As a parent, when I take my children into the city, I have to take out a loan to pay the roundtrip fare. We shouldn’t have that consideration instead of taking car. [Transit] has to be affordable . if they do something with congestion pricing, make it affordable for Nassau County.

Climate Change & Sustainable Development 

Adrienne Esposito of Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Adrienne Esposito: Climate change is real. There is no debate. And Long Island is at the forefront of impacts. New York State set a goal of 50% renewals by 2030 but we can’t get there unless offshore wind is part of the [energy] portfolio. Will you support offshore wind (with site-specific environmental assessment)? 

Curran:  Absolutely. We have to look for renewable energy. Wind is a gift and we should be harnessing it and anything we can do to harness wind. Also renewables are a growing industry, and I don’t want to be on the losing end. I fought against the LNG [Liquified Natural Gas] port off Long Beach.

Solar panels have a really hard time with permitting – people have to deal with towns, villages, all with different permits that expire differently. We have to work hard with partners –because that is right to do for the environment and the economy.

Climate change. I am concerned with the rhetoric of the president that [the US] will be getting out of the Paris Climate Accord– especially being a coastal community, we see the ravages [of superstorms, sealevel rise]. I am heartened that governors and mayors around the country say they will stick to the Paris Agreement, and I have vowed as county executive to do the same.

Trump has said it is no longer necessary to [require that tax money used for infrastructure must take climate change resiliency into account]. I would insure that every penny would be used [would take] climate change [into account, that is, sustainable development].

Martins:  Absolutely. Curious at [the goal of] 50% [renewable] by 2030. I visited Portugal a couple of years ago – toured their renewable portfolio. Portugal gets 60% of their energy from renewable – hydro, wind, solar, voltaics. We should too. I’m a big believer in offshore wind, a great resource for us – the corridor for offshore wind runs from Block Island to south Jersey. We’re in a great position to benefit from cheap energy from wind. I also understand great strides are being made in developing battery technology to store energy at Brookhaven National Labs. That would be an economic boost for us. Right now, the largest project in New York, the east end off Long Island is being staged from Rhode Island. That means jobs are in Rhode Island, economic development is in Rhode Island. It needs to be here on Long Island. If we make a commitment to offshore wind as energy, we should make a commitment to have those jobs here. We live on an island, we have a maritime history. Embrace it, make offshore wind industry here -manufacturing blades, turbines, opportunities for engineering next generation of offshore wind.

IDA Tax Incentives 

Eric Alexander: Sustainability and smart growth, but also economic development. To focus growth in downtowns, the Nassau County IDA over the last 7 years provided tax incentives to thousands of units of affordable housing, mixed-use development by train stations… In an election year, attacking IDA incentives is politically popular but they have been anchors of revitalization efforts such as in Farmingdale’s affordable housing component. Will you continue that policy?

Curran: Farmingdale is a perfect example of transit oriented development.. The biggest problem now is you can’t get parking on a Saturday night. IDAs play a serious role, but are subject to attack because if you have nine self-storage facilities getting tax breaks, they aren’t economic drivers that create jobs. But when done right, [IDA tax incentives] can be real motivator, bring the right kind of development into Nassau County. That involves land use planning, that when we do a deal with a developer or business, that real jobs are being created or real taxes being generated from an enterprise, so the investment of taxpayers is returned. We need more transparency in the IDA – open up meetings to the public, let the public give input. When I talk about getting community buy-in for projects, that’s the way. You can’t force things on communities.

IDA is a real asset but must be used properly and if a developer or business doesn’t do what was promised, that there be a muscular way of addressing that.

Martins: My experience as mayor of Mineola, master plan, transit oriented development, overlay district –I  see the effects when a community comes together – the commitment it has to expand housing stock, providing affordability for senior, next generation housing. The role for county government: it needs to work with local communities to identify areas where TOD makes sense – Hicksville, Farmingdale, Westbury, Glen Cove ….  We as a county could expedite and incentivize. What I would do differently would be to make sure developers who are seeking tax (rebates) make sure they tell communities. Communities feel let down. Developers come before zoning boards and say they need greater density, etc, and then will have the ability to build this, and the community makes a decision to support that request, gives a variance they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. [The community] expects a revenue stream and a tax base that comes back to community. But the first thing is [the developer] goes to the IDA and gets tax credits which undermines what the community expects. So there needs to be transparency, part of the discussion before the decision, not after, that causes so much friction we see.

Generating Revenue for NICE Bus 

Nick Sifuentes: How would you create additional revenue for the NICE bus?

Curran: I have suggested pots where money could come from:  there is money that was borrowed 8 and 10 years ago that hasn’t been spent (that is a one-shot); the fund balance has way more than needs to be (also a one-shot). You are talking about recurring revenue. I propose that a small piece of ride-sharing money, Uber or Lyft – say 25 cents or 50 cents a ride – to go to buses. It makes sense because all are part of transportation. We could use a small portion of MTA tax and put that toward buses. And red light cameras are $12 million over budget – use some of that for buses. That’s also within the theme of transportation.

Laura Curran, Democratic candidate for Nassau County Executive addresses issues of environment and sustainability © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Martins: One of the first things I did in in the senate in 2010 and 2011 – I was identified as one of 50 most influential people on Long Island – my efforts to secure funding for Long Island bus was underpinning – NICE bus has a $130 million budget, $66 million from New York State, $45-50 from the fare box, the county puts in $6 million and the rest from ancillary fees, etc. – unbelievable the County only provides $6 million for a system that is so critical to the economy, when years ago, the county paid $20 million. Our responsibility is to put money in place because most who take bus have no other option – we want them to leave the car home – going to work, school, doctors appointments, that they have access to vibrant bus service. I suggested that for ride hailing, we have a surcharge – Uber, Lyft – that surcharge go toward bus. 10-11 million rides a year, 50c surcharge, would put $5-6 million directly into buses. A 50c surcharge is not only appropriate, but would provide a dedicated, steady revenue for buses.

Protecting Drinking Water 

Audience Question: What is the most Important environmental issue facing the county and how would you address it?

Curran: The aquifer. We get our drinking water from one place: underground. I am concerned New York City is looking to open 70 wells in Queens. We don’t get another source of water but the city does [upstate reservoirs]. They are concerned about flooding basements so they want to bring down the watertable, but the consequences for us could be disastrous: saltwater intrusion, and could cause Grumman and Lake Success plumes [of contamination] to shift [direction. The Grumman plume is 4 miles by 2 miles and 800 feet deep, almost reaching Massapequa. I am glad to see Cngressmen King and Suozzi working together to [get the federal government] to clean it up. The fact this has gone on this long and the Navy and Grumman are not held accountable for decades….

Martins: The most critical issue facing us as a region, Nassau County, is water supply, making sure we protect our sole-source aquifer against all comers. We live on an island, and the aquifer is tied to Suffolk, Queens & Brooklyn. Our responsibility is to protect it. New York City has other options to get water from upstate reservoirs. Our only plan, A to Z is the sole-source aquifer. We haven’t treated it well over the years, with industrial and manufacturing years post World War II, a lot of damage done – Lake Success, Bethpage. We’ve seen the water supply under constant attack. We have great water providers – we do a good job in maintaining water supply –it is as clean as you get from bottled water- but we have a responsibility to do more – responsibility to surface water – protect our coastal waterways, make sure we enhance sewer systems, sewer treatment plants, make sure that years and decades of nitrogen charging, loading into bays are a thing of the past.

Preserving Open Space

Audience Question: How would you preserve open space in Nassau County from development?

Curran: A Great question because pretty much [all of Nassau] is developed. We have to keep what we have green – that is good to recharge the aquifer. We have to use space we have more wisely – in-fill. You sometimes see suburban sprawl – there is already concrete – you can in-fill with transit oriented development, with the buy-in of the community. There is a lot of new technology now. For example, the boat basin parking lot was redone with permeable pavement – that’s expensive, so you can only do it in small places but I hope it will become less expensive down the road. But in this way, it also keeps water coming into the aquifer.

Something I am excited about – with all the potential – is to look to a resiliency officer [for the county] to coordinate all these things, work with Public Works, the IDA, and other departments to coordinate efforts for environment.

Martins: The good news in Nassau County: we don’t have farms any more. We don’t have the kinds of open space issues that perhaps they have out east. We do have open space, it has to be preserved. Most of our development going forward – transit oriented – is reusing space already used, and taking and reassembling parcels. We have seen it in communities with TOD has been predicated on assembling parcels downtown – see it in Westbury, Farmingdale – we are mature communities. That development will take place not on existing open space but existing used space that is being recalibrated and brought into 21st century – to meet energy, parking, density requirements – so we have a more robust selection of housing than we have currently. Nassau County doesn’t have the housing stock, the variety, it needs – a lot will take place in downtowns around train stations to be most effective. Protect open space that exists, protect parks, invest in them, make sure are as good as ever have been.

Future of Renewables in Nassau County

Audience Question: What do see as the future of Nassau County when it comes to solar, wind, charging stations for electric vehicles? 

Curran: We should have charging stations for electric cars. We have a county employee who plugs in and was written a letter to ‘cease and desist’ from the county attorney for ‘stealing county property’. We should start by the county using electric vehicles.

Jack Martins, Republican candidate for Nassau County Executive addresses issues of environment and sustainability © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Martins: Charging stations, infrastructure wise, is easy. If we made a commitment to have more readily available – we can see best practices in other states, countries, where they have taken the initiative so we have more robust use because people trust infrastructure to be there to recharge. We haven’t done it. There is need need for a full array of renewable energy resources. We should look at the entire portfolio and see where it makes sense – voltaic cells as car canopies in parking lots – why aren’t we? Acres and acres of asphalt we can use to create energy and electricity now through EV. We have a corridor of offshore wind east of Long Island. I spoke to Deepwater Wind, no one better positioned than Long Island to build, maintain, develop that offshore wind corridor. Shame on us, New York State, if they aren’t going to prioritize those turbines, and those blades aren’t built here on Long Island. If we are going to spend billions of dollars for commitment to offshore wind, I want to make sure it is here in Nassau County economy.

Communities Impacted by Climate Change

Do you support legislation to provide for equitable distribution of resources to communities impacted by climate change specifically communities of color often left out?

Curran: We have to make sure all communities treated fairly. See the effects of climate change. The south shore still has zombie houses because of Sandy. They didn’t have an adequate advocate to help them rebuild. As legislator, I helped them connect to NY Rising, get small business funds, to get resources to rebuild.

Martins:  Tax money, investment. We have to look at how dealing with county that is predominantly viewed as affluent while understanding we have areas of significant poverty – in places you wouldn’t necessarily think of – people have a home but are struggling to pay mortgage, taxes, raise families because the high cost of living isn’t an accident. We have among highest costs, so we have people relatively wealthy given their home, but still living with challenges. How we take resources, distribute, whether having to do with infrastructure improvements, access to cheap renewable energy, water safety quality, we have that synergy. I have never seen in my experience certain areas cut out of resources that way, but we have to be sensitive to it.

Recycle Treated Effluent

Why not recycle sewage and turn into drinkable rather than dispose into the ocean?

Curran: That’s not so crazy – people who run sewage treatment plants are working on a project – try to explain in not-boring way –to  treat sewage so it looks like water – Sewage treatment plants use hundreds thousands gallons of water a day to do the work of cooling, etc. – Now, they draw that out of the aquifer. Wouldn’t it be better to take treated effluent, treat a little more and use that to do the work of sewage treatment plant, instead of drawing water out of aquifer? We are close to make this happen.

Martins: It’s an interesting point. I was happy to participate in Great Neck Water Pollution Control District – state of art facility – where they treat to a level where potable. I said, ‘You first.’

I had an opportunity to deal with different groups, where sewage can be treated and used for irrigation, plant maintenance and different things where not wasting potable water, can be reused for different purposes –  not quite ‘there’ for drinking water… But if we send [effluent out to ocean] 3 miles – dilution rate for effluent – it will have negligible effect on ocean – it is coastal wetlands that are impacted if released right there – like Reynolds Channel. I would like to see part reused – whether for irrigation. We have to focus on continuing the current process of getting it as far from shore as possible so not to impact coastal wetlands, coastal environment, coastal economy. 

Closing Statements 

Curran:  I want to make Long Island environmentally sound, safe, healthy. I moved to Nassau County 20 years ago before we had kids. I came for the Long Island dream:  single family house, great school down the block, parks, beaches. We knew we would pay high taxes, but that was part of the deal. As a taxpayer, resident, it is frustrating to see money spent on nepotism, bloated contracts when it could be used to develop technology. Your money is being wasted. I’m in this race because want to restore trust in government, make sure I hire people based on what they know, not who they know, that your money is not part of my reelection campaign. I am eager to get to work. Elect me to give Nassau County the fresh start it so richly deserves.

Martins: There are a lot of issues at play in this year’s election . I encourage you to do your homework, read up on candidates. Whether challenges are environment,t economy – up to county to pay for own budget. For 17 years, we have been under NIFA, not elected – make decisions, affects ability for us to make decisions for ourselves. We need to take control of own finances, pay bills, balance budget – get rid of NIFA so we can commit resources ourselves – whether environment, infrastructure, TOD, creating jobs we all want – so our children have the ability to come home, find jobs, rent apartment and stay here. The best years for the county are ahead, but contingent upon us making decisions about taking control of own county – an  idea we haven’t been able to do, so should be shameful to all of us, myself included. Write that check and make that commitment going forward.

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Texas Catastrophe Points to Need to Prioritize Climate Action, Re-Prioritize Federal Budget (Mother Nature Can Be A Real Bitch)

The climate catastrophe in Texas should be a wake-up call to prod Trump Administration, Scott Pruitt of the EPA and Congress to prioritize climate action, not a border wall, in the federal budget © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

With Harvey reaping its terror and Hurricane Irma warming up for its debut, Texas’ climate catastrophe is the latest example of how tragically foolish it is to invest billions to combat ISIS (hardly an existential threat), $70 billion to build a wall along the Mexico border, $1 trillion to rebuild the nuclear weapons arsenal, yet deny the reality of climate change with the attendant costs in the multi-billions of every single one of these climate catastrophes – the cost to the Treasury and taxpayers to rebuild infrastructure, to pay for public health consequences, to lose the productivity of the workforce.

“This is the costliest and worst natural disaster in American history,” Dr. Joel N. Myers, founder, president and chairman of AccuWeather, stated. “AccuWeather has raised its estimate of the impact to the nation’s gross national produce, or GDP, to $190 billion or a full one percent, which exceeds totals of economic impact of Katrina and Sandy combined. The GDP is $19 trillion currently. Business leaders and the Federal Reserve, major banks, insurance companies, etc. should begin to factor in the negative impact this catastrophe will have on business, corporate earnings and employment. The disaster is just beginning in certain areas. Parts of Houston, the United States’ fourth largest city will be uninhabitable for weeks and possibly months due to water damage, mold, disease-ridden water and all that will follow this 1,000-year flood.”

Meanwhile, around the globe there are even greater flooding disasters –1,200 have died so far and 900,000 homes destroyed in floods in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, taking with it farms and crops that will lead to the next climate catastrophe, famine.

Now Congress will soon take up a budget that proposes to slash the EPA into nothing (Scott Pruitt has already scrubbed any research and mention of climate change from the website and is doing his level best to stop any data collection), cuts to FEMA that was already $25 billion in debt before Harvey, cuts to Health & Human Services and every other social safety net. But Trump threatens to shut down government if he doesn’t get nearly $2 billion (a downpayment on $70 billion) for his border wall with Mexico.

Dozens of Long Islanders, constituents of Congressman Peter King turned out for a rally at his Massapequa office to demand he reject cuts to the EPA budget.

Which has posed more of a national security threat to Americans? Climate disasters or ISIS? The wrong-headed approach to national security came to a head with a rally that drew about 60 people on short notice on Thursday, August 31 at the Massapequa, Long Island office of Congressman Peter King, who makes a great show of concern for protecting national security but drops the ball on the national security implications of climate change.  (See story)

You only have to compare the horrid waste of blood and treasure because of a disdain for addressing the realities of climate change to the results of the efforts of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) consisting of New York State along with eight other Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states (not New Jersey because Governor Chris Christie thought it would better position him to become the GOP presidential candidate if he withdrew from RGGI and denied the reality of climate change). Founded in 2005, the RGGI, the nation’s first program to use an innovative market-based mechanism to cap and cost-effectively reduce the carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change, is updating its goal to lower carbon pollution by reducing the cap on power plant emissions an additional 30% below 2020 levels by 2030. With this change, the regional cap in 2030 will be 65% below the 2009 starting level.

RGGI has already contributed to a 50% percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from affected power plants in New York, and a 90% reduction in coal-fired power generation in the state. To date, New York has generated more than $1 billion in RGGI proceeds, which are applied to fund energy efficiency, clean energy and emission reduction programs.

RGGI continues to exceed expectations and has provided more than $2 billion in regional economic benefits and $5.7 billion in public health benefits while reducing emissions in excess of the declining cap’s requirements. Analysis by Abt Associates – found participating member states had 16,000 avoided respiratory illnesses, as many as 390 avoided heart attacks, and 300 to 830 avoided deaths by reducing pollution. The health benefits in New York alone are estimated to have exceeded $1.7 billion in avoided costs and other economic benefits.

And contrary to the lie that clean, renewable energy and sustainable development will hurt the economy and increase consumer costs, the economies of RGGI states are outpacing the rest of the country and regional electricity prices have fallen even as prices in other states have increased. So even as the RGGI states reduced their carbon emissions by 16% more than other states, they are experiencing 3.6% more in economic growth. Each of the three-year control periods contributed approximately 4,500 job years to New York’s economy and 14,000 to 16,000 job years region-wide.

Meanwhile, New York consumers who have participated in RGGI-supported projects through December 2016 will realize $3.7 billion in cumulative energy bill savings over the lifetime of the projects, according to New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

New York is actively promoting clean energy innovation through its Reforming the Energy Vision strategy and initiatives. Additionally, programs including the Clean Energy Fund, $1 billion NY-Sun Initiative, $1 billion NY Green Bank, $40 million NY-Prize competition for community microgrids, and others, ensure that progress toward reducing emissions will be accelerated.

New York has devised a host of programs to incentivize local projects aimed at developing clean, renewable energy and sustainability. Most recently, NYSERDA has developed a Solar PILOT Toolkit to assist municipalities in negotiating payment-in-lieu-of taxes (PILOT) agreements for solar projects larger than 1 MW, including community solar projects.

How ironic is the climate catastrophe in Texas, the leading proponent of fossil fuels and opponent of programs incentivizing the transition to clean, renewable energy (and the localized independence that wind, solar and geothermal bring), that Harvey has damaged its oil refining infrastructure, which is already resulting in higher gas prices, not to mention taxpayer money that will be channeled to rebuild the devastation. None of those private, profit-making companies which have gouged and inflicted public health horrors should get funding from taxpayers.

Now Texas will be coming to Congress for billions in aid.

Congress should pass a law: no federal help for states that deny climate change (Florida and North Carolina actually have legislation banning the use of the term) and therefore do nothing to mitigate the consequences, and which deny altogether the concept of a federal, “one nation” government to collect taxes and provide services on behalf of all. Texas, which has cheered the notion of secession, continually supports policies intended to shrink the federal government to a size it can be flushed down a toilet, including dismantling the Environmental Protection Administration and ending environmental regulations. So let them see what that actually means. Let’s also be reminded the Texas’ Republican delegation obstructed federal aid to New York and New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy.

Destruction at Breezy Point, New York after Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Texas Congressmen voted against giving aid, now will seek tens of billions to rebuild after Harvey. But the Trump Administration and Congress fail to learn the lessons, reflected in policy and budgeting, that would mitigate such costly climate catastrophes © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Too harsh? The climate deniers are dooming the entire nation and the planet to such tragic, devastating and costly climate catastrophes. Hundreds of thousands of Texans will emerge from Harvey with their homes, retirement, college funds decimated, very possibly their jobs flushed away along with the floodwaters. Tens of thousands will become climate refugees – just a small fraction of the estimated 200 million worldwide who will be forced to flee flooded coasts as sea levels continue to rise, and storms continue to ravage.

But, since Trump is so keen to dish out taxpayer billions to those he considers his base (one wonders what would happen if and when California is hit with an earthquake), Congress should impose conditions on the billions that will be sent to Texas to rebuild its infrastructure and housing: Texas should do what every other community has done that underwent such devastation: rebuild and transition to clean, renewable energy sources and sustainable, climate-friendly, low-carbon emitting structures.

Congress, which Trump just dared to defy on his tax “reform” (that is, giveaway to the wealthiest 1% and corporations while starving federal government of funding), should make sure that EPA has the people and resources it needs, that climate action is a priority, that the Interior Department does not give away Americans’ legacy (and property) for environment-destroying development, that FEMA and Housing & Human Services (now in the command of a man who dismisses poverty and bad things that happen to some dereliction of personal responsibility) are properly funded and staffed.

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Trump’s Infrastructure Agenda Would Send US Back to 19th Century, End Global Leadership

The Pittsburgh skyline is visible today; a century ago, when steel and coal reigned supreme, the city would have been shrouded in cloud of pollution. Trump, pulling the US out of the Paris Climate Accord, said he represented the people of Pittsburgh, not Paris, but 75% of Pittsburghers voted for Hillary Clinton © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

My return visit to Pittsburgh for my second Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Sojourn bike tour on the Great Allegheny Passage reaffirmed for me the stupidity of Donald Trump’s justification for abandoning the Paris Climate Agreement, that he was elected by the people of Pittsburgh, not the people of Paris, and that what Pittsburghers want more than anything is to roll back time a century to the days when coal was king and steel mills were belching putrid smoke and men died prematurely in horrid working conditions, their lives under the thumb of Robber Barons who controlled industry and politics. Indeed, the people of Pittsburgh voted 75% for Hillary Clinton’s agenda and vision of America’s future.

But Trump’s entire agenda, beginning with a budget that would similarly reverse course on the very infrastructure and technology developments that would insure America’s leadership in the 21st century, rather than put us back a century.

We get a glimpse of what that is like on the outskirts of the city, in Clairton, where a huge mound of coal dwarfs a tractor truck, and across the bridge over the rail lines, is a chemical plant emitting a foul smell that penetrates the modest residential neighborhood across the street.

The city of Pittsburgh, itself, has risen anew, with glistening office towers and a new economy based on finance, health care, academics, robotics and technology. Its waterfront, once dominated by dirty industrial plants, is now a gorgeous bike path, which you can see so spectacularly from Mount Washington, the place from which George Washington surveyed to find a location to put a fort to protect British colonial interests, but from which in those bad ol’ days, the city would have been shrouded in haze.

Outside the city, where we start our bike tour near the beginning of the 150-mile long multi-purpose railtrail, in the state which built its economy on oil, coal and gas, there are windmills on the hilltops and solar farms in fields. Where we camp one night, in Confluence below the Youghiogheny River Reservoir dam built in 1944 to control flooding, the outflow has been tapped for hydroelectric power.

The biketrail – representing 150 of some 23,000 miles of similarly repurposed railtrails across the country – is a new lifeline for small towns like Meyersdale, which once supported six hotels, an elementary school and a high school, now all shuttered, and Dunbar, once a center for glassmaking and coal production. In Confluence, where the population today is 700, we add 200 to that roll during our stay.

The Trump agenda – and his budget to back it up – would cancel out the line for funding such repurposing projects that has existed since 1991, while eliminating incentives that helped jumpstart America’s fledgling clean, renewable energy industry where jobs are growing at a rate 12 times faster than the rest of the economy. The 374,000 now employed in solar eclipse the 74,000 people working as coal miners, indeed, exceed all the workers in oil, gas and coal combined; while wind energy employed 100,000. Worldwide – and places like Europe which are legions ahead of the US in wind and solar –  some 10 million people are employed in clean renewable energy jobs.

At the same time, the Trump Administration – EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke – are sloping the playing field back in favor of climate-destroying fossil fuel industry, rolling back regulations that would allow coal mining companies to pollute water, removing protections on drilling and mining on federal lands, opening up exports of natural gas and oil, creating financial incentives for new nuclear plants, and ending tax credits for renewable energy, among a long, long list. Trump wants to really stick it to climate activists.

Trump’s promise to invest $1 trillion in America’s aging, decaying and obsolete infrastructure is also a sham – as evidenced by his Transportation director exiting the New York-New Jersey Hudson Gateway Tunnel project, and a budget that would rescind funding to rebuild the century-old tunnel.

One contrasts this myopia from the guy who boasted of being a “builder” with the bicentennial of the building of the Erie Canal, in 1817, a bold vision and engineering marvel, which quite literally made New York City the financial capital of the world by connecting the port of New York to the Midwest’s resources and markets with Europe. Even then, globalization, not isolation, is what made the United States a world power.

It’s not just the belching, choking pollution that Trump would like to go back to. In climate policy, energy policy, health care, tax reform, and now infrastructure, Trump envisions exacerbating the divide between rich and poor – and therefore political power as campaign finance and special interests increasingly determine who gets the “ear” in policy. His budget affirms his bias against transitioning away from a climate-destroying carbon energy economy in favor of clean, renewable, decentralized (and cheaper, less monopolistic) energy. His regulatory policy reverses the incentives as well as the progress. The Republican health care policy is as much a mechanism to cement power in the hands of the “haves” versus the have-nots – who are unlikely to challenge abusive employers if they are afraid of losing their health insurance; unable to join protest marches and rallies if they are in pain or suffering; and unable to have their concerns acted on by lawmakers if they don’t have the funds to contribute to campaigns.

Infrastructure, energy policy, the environment, technological innovation and prospects for economic growth, prosperity, social mobility and yes, political power are all connected. Climate justice, social justice, economic justice, political justice are all intertwined.

Trump would have us go back a century or two and cost the United States its global leadership.

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

As Trump Signs EOs Overturning Obama Climate Actions, Thousands Mobilize for People’s Climate March, April 29

A taste of what is to come during People’s Climate March, April 29: Long Island activists protest to protect the planet © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Here’s the backdrop for the People’s Climate March, which took place April 29, on the 100th day of Trump’s occupation of the Oval Office: the administration withdrew its challenge in the court paving the way for Obama’s signature Clean Power Plan, regulating coal-powered plants and the essence for how the US would meet its commitment under the Paris Climate Agreement, to be overturned by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who as Oklahoma AG, was one of the states challenging the plan in court.

And, two days before the climate march, Trump signed an Executive Order, effectively opening up all the protected marine sanctuaries through to the Continental shelf to new oil and gas drilling and exploitation. What is more, Trump’s goal is not just under the banner of American First Energy Independence, he sees the US as the major new supplier of fossil fuel energy to “allies”, which would necessitate building and converting infrastructure designed for import to export.

Most of the so-called “accomplishments” Trump has touted for his first 100 days have been reflexively overturning and reversing President Obama’s climate actions and environmental protections (with anti-women’s health and reproductive rights thrown in). It’s now okay for mining companies to throw their toxic waste into streams.

At the signing “ceremony” for the “Executive Order on an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy,” Trump declared,This is a great day for American workers and families, and today we’re unleashing American energy and clearing the way for thousands and thousands of high-paying American energy jobs.  Our country is blessed with incredible natural resources, including abundant offshore oil and natural gas reserves.  But the federal government has kept 94 percent of these offshore areas closed for exploration and production.  And when they say closed, they mean closed.

“This deprives our country of potentially thousands and thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in wealth.  I pledged to take action, and today I am keeping that promise.

“This executive order starts the process of opening offshore areas to job-creating energy exploration.  It reverses the previous administration’s Arctic leasing ban.  So hear that:  It reverses the previous administration’s Arctic leasing ban, and directs Secretary Zinke to allow responsible development of offshore areas that will bring revenue to our Treasury and jobs to our workers.  (Applause.)  In addition, Secretary Zinke will be reconsidering burdensome regulations that slow job creation.

“Finally, this order will enable better scientific study of our offshore resources and research that has blocked everything from happening for far too long.  You notice it doesn’t get blocked for other nations.  It only gets blocked for our nation.

“Renewed offshore energy production will reduce the cost of energy, create countless good jobs, and make America more secure and far more energy independent.  This action is another historic step toward future development and future — with a future — a real future.  And I have to say that’s a real future with greater prosperity and security for all Americans, which is what we want,” Trump said during the signing ceremony.”

The day before, at a press availability, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said, “94% of outer continental shelf is off limits for possible development – as of Mar 1 2007, only 16 million acres on the outer continental shelf out of 1.7 billion acres were under lease for oil & gas development; more than 97% of current leases are in Gulf of Mexico.”

In 2008, revenues of $18 billion came from offshore; in 2016, that amount dropped $15 billion to $2.8 billion, he noted.

Zinke added, “We like export to other countries – energy security is not only to provide for ourselves but supply allies – oil and gas exports to Asian basin is all part of it. A lot requires infrastructure – this country set up for importing energy, looking at ways to reverse that – a lot is infrastructure, we are behind. We want to supply our allies with affordable energy.”

Asked whether melting ice caps in the Arctic Circle has made for new opportunities (and have any companies specifically asked for leases), he said he had not thought about climate change shifting geographical requirements.

EarthJustice greeted the EO with promises of a lawsuit: “We won’t let this administration destroy these essential protections at a time when they’re so critically needed. In response, we’re preparing to file a lawsuit immediately to challenge this order,” writes Trip Van Noppen, President.

“Tomorrow, people from Washington, D.C., to Oakland, CA, will march in the streets to show this new administration that if the next four years are anything like the first 100 days, we’ll be here, fighting back every step of the way.”

The Peoples Climate March on Saturday, April 29 will begin near the Capitol, travel up Pennsylvania Avenue, and then surround the entire White House Grounds from 15th Street in the East to 17th Street in the West, and Pennsylvania Avenue in the North to Constitution Avenue in the South. The march will close with a post march rally, concert and gathering at the Washington Monument.

Events also are being held in hundreds of communities around the country.

For more information on the April 29th Peoples Climate Mobilization, visit peoplesclimate.org
Follow us on Twitter @Peoples_Climate and
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/peoplesclimate

Here is the White House Fact Sheet touting their America First Energy Independence Plan:

President Donald J. Trump to Open Up America’s Energy Potential

“I am going to lift the restrictions on American energy, and allow this wealth to pour into our communities.” – Donald J. Trump

AMERICA’S ENERGY RESOURCES ARE LOCKED AWAY: Under the previous administrations, America’s offshore resources were blocked from responsible development.

  • Ninety-four percent of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf’s (OCS’s) 1.7 billion acres are either off-limits to or not considered for oil and gas exploration and development under the current (2017-2022) leasing program.

o   Days before leaving office on January 17, 2017, the Obama Administration approved the latest schedule for oil and gas lease sales that would last for five years until 2022.

o   There are hundreds of millions of acres of federal waters in the Arctic Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, and Gulf of Mexico.

  • The OCS is expected to contain 90 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered technically recoverable natural gas.
  • In FY 2016, Federal revenues from the OCS were $2.8 billion; the actual sales value of the oil and gas resources was $26 billion and generated $55 billion in total spending in the economy.  These expenditures supported approximately 315,000 American jobs.
  • Alaska has seen a number of nearby OCS areas closed off to development and now has the second highest unemployment in the country, as its resource sectors, particularly oil and gas, have lost thousands of jobs.

o   At least one energy company has announced it would withdraw from all but one of its OCS leases in Alaska because of uncertain federal regulations.

  • Revenue to the Federal Government from leasing the OCS has fallen by over 80 percent, from $18 billion in 2008 to $2.8 billion in 2016. On average, OCS energy development generates $10-12 billion annually.

FREEING AMERICA’S ENERGY POTENTIAL: President Donald J. Trump is removing restrictions on the OCS that locked away America’s energy potential.

  • President Trump signed an Executive Order today to direct the Secretary of Interior and Secretary of Commerce to take action on OCS restrictions.
  • The Secretary of the Interior will review areas closed off by the current five-year plan for sale of oil and gas leases in the OCS, without disrupting scheduled lease sales. These planning areas include:

o   Western and Central Gulf of Mexico

o   Chukchi Sea

o   Beaufort Sea

o   Cook Inlet

o   Mid and South Atlantic

  • The Secretary of the Interior will review four rules and regulations put in place last year that could reduce exploration and development in the OCS. These include:

o   Notice to Lessees and Operators of Federal Oil and Gas, and Sulfur Leases, and Holders of Pipeline Right-of-Way and Right-of-Use and Easement Grants in the Outer Continental Shelf

o   Oil and Gas and Sulfur Operations in the Outer Continental Shelf-Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control

o   Air Quality Control, Reporting, and Compliance

o   Oil and Gas and Sulfur Operations on the Outer Continental Shelf—Requirements for Exploratory Drilling on the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf

  • The Secretary of Commerce is directed to refrain from designating or expanding National Marine Sanctuaries unless the proposal includes “a timely, full accounting from the Department of the Interior of any energy or mineral resource potential”—including offshore energy from wind, oil, natural gas, and other sources—within the designated area and the potential impact the proposed designation or expansion will have on the development of those resources.
  • The Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of the Interior will work together to develop a streamlined permitting approach for privately funded seismic data research and collection to expeditiously determine the offshore resource potential of the United States.

FOLLOWING THROUGH ON HIS PROMISE TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE: President Trump is following through on the energy development policies he promised to the American people.

  • Then-Candidate Trump:

o   “We need an America-First energy plan. This means opening Federal lands for oil and gas production; opening offshore areas; and revoking policies that are imposing unnecessary restrictions on innovative new exploration technologies.”

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at  www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Trump Issues ‘Energy Independence Policy’ Dismantling Obama’s Clean Power Plan

Black smoke spews from burner. Donald Trump announced “Energy Independence Policy” aimed at reversing the transition to clean, renewable energy in favor of fossil fuels © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Today, Donald Trump took steps to dismantle President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, aimed at reducing climate-changing carbon emissions that are warming the planet, resulting in melting icecaps at the Arctic and Antarctic, rising sea levels that are making island nations and coastal communities uninhabitable, contributing to catastrophic weather events that are producing floods and famine and triggering millions of climate refugees, and was incentivizing a transition to a clean, renewable energy economy and away from a society run on fossil fuel. Trump claimed it would save money and reinvigorate the coal industry, restoring jobs to coal miners. But you pay now or later in terms of repairing infrastructure, not to mention the public health impacts of air and water pollution, wildfires, heat exhaustion, and so forth. Trump is pitching it as “energy independence policy” but the US already is becoming energy independent and there are far more people permanently employed in an emerging clean energy industry than there are coal miners.

In the announcement, the White House made sure to emphasize how Trump is fulfilling a campaign promise, giving the beleaguered Donald a “win.” But instead of it being an American Energy Independence Policy, it is an American Dependence on Fossil Fuel Energy Policy. It will be up to states like California and New York, whose governors’ announced a commitment to continuing to meet or exceed the Clean Power Plan targets.

Here are the details from the White House on Trump’s “Energy Independence Policy.” – Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

“I am going to lift the restrictions on American energy, and allow this wealth to pour into our communities.” – Donald J. Trump

 MUCH NEEDED REFORM: The past Administration burdened Americans with costly regulations that harmed American jobs and energy production.

  • The previous Administration’s Clean Power Plan could cost up to $39 billion a year and increase electricity prices in 41 States by at least ten percent, according to NERA Economic Consulting.
  • The Clean Power Plan would cause coal production to fall by 242 million tons, according to the National Mining Association.
  • 27 states, 24 trade associations, 37 rural electric co-ops, and 3 labor unions are challenging the Clean Power Plan in Federal court.

 AMERICAN ENERGY INDEPENDENCE: President Donald J. Trump’s Energy Independence Policy Executive Order reverses the regulations on American jobs and energy production.

  • President Trump’s Executive Order directs the Environmental Protection Agency to suspend, revise, or rescind four actions related to the Clean Power Plan that would stifle the American energy industry.

o   President Trump’s Executive Order directs the Attorney General to seek appropriate relief from the courts over pending litigation related to the Clean Power Plan.

  • President Trump’s Executive Order rescinds Executive and Agency actions centered on the previous administration’s climate change agenda that have acted as a road block to energy independence.

o   President Trump’s Executive Order lifts the ban on Federal leasing for coal production.

o   President Trump’s Executive Order lifts job-killing restrictions on the production of oil, natural gas, and shale energy.

  • President Trump’s Executive Order directs all agencies to conduct a review of existing actions that harm domestic energy production and suspend, revise, or rescind actions that are not mandated by law.

o   Within 180 days, agencies must finalize their plans.

  • President Trump’ Executive Order directs agencies to use the best available science and economics in regulatory analysis, which was not utilized by the previous administration.

o   It disbands the Interagency Working Group (IWG) on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases.

  • By revisiting the federal overreach on energy regulation, President Trump is returning power to the states – where it belongs.

FREEING AMERICA’S POTENTIAL: President Trump has worked tirelessly to free American industry and ingenuity from the constraints of Government overreach.

  • President Trump has signed four pieces of legislation to clear burdensome and costly regulations on energy production from the previous Administration.
  • President Trump has required that for every new Federal regulation, two existing regulations be eliminated.
  • President Trump has directed each agency to establish a Regulatory Reform Task Force to identify costly and unnecessary regulations in need of modification or repeal.
  • President Trump has directed the Department of Commerce to streamline Federal permitting processes for domestic manufacturing and to reduce regulatory burdens on domestic manufacturers.
  • President Trump signed legislation, House Joint Resolution 38, to prevent the burdensome “Stream Protection Rule” from causing further harm to the coal industry.
  • President Trump ordered the review of the “Clean Water Rule: Definition of Waters of the United States,” known as the WOTUS rule, to evaluate whether it is stifling economic growth or job creation.
  • President Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum and gave a Presidential permit to clear roadblocks to construct the Keystone XL Pipeline.
  • President Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum declaring that the Dakota Access Pipeline serves the national interest and initiating the process to complete its construction.

FULFILLING HIS PROMISE: By taking action on the Clean Power Plan, President Trump is fulfilling his promise to the American people.

  • As a candidate, Mr. Trump promised “we will eliminate… the Clean Power Plan—these unilateral plans will increase monthly electric bills by double-digits without any measurable improvement in the climate.”

 

NYS, California Governors Reaffirm Commitment to Exceed Clean Power Plan Targets as Trump Moves to Dismantle

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo standing by plan to create largest offshore wind farm in the US. Cuomo and California Governor Edmund G. Brown reaffirmed commitment to exceeding President Obama’s Clean Power Plan targets in face of Trump’s plan to dismantle the regulations, in order to reinvigorate the coal industry © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

With the announcement that the United States will begin to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued the following statement reaffirming their ongoing commitment to exceed the targets of the Clean Power Plan and curb carbon pollution:

“Dismantling the Clean Power Plan and other critical climate programs is profoundly misguided and shockingly ignores basic science. With this move, the Administration will endanger public health, our environment and our economic prosperity.
 
“Climate change is real and will not be wished away by rhetoric or denial. We stand together with a majority of the American people in supporting bold actions to protect our communities from the dire consequences of climate change.
 
“Together, California and New York represent approximately 60 million people – nearly one-in-five Americans – and 20 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. With or without Washington, we will work with our partners throughout the world to aggressively fight climate change and protect our future.”

New York and California lead the nation in ground-breaking policies to combat climate change. Both states – which account for roughly 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States – have adopted advanced energy efficiency and renewable energy programs to meet and exceed the requirements of the Clean Power Plan and have set some of the most aggressive greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in North America – 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. New York and California will continue to work closely together – and with other states – to help fill the void left by the federal government.

New York’s Climate Leadership

Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions: Established ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets to reduce emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. These targets have made New York a leader across the country in fighting climate change.

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI): Spearheaded the formation of the successful RGGI cap-and-trade program between northeast and mid-Atlantic states, led effort to reduce RGGI’s carbon emission cap by 45 percent in 2014, and recently called for an additional cap reduction of at least 30 percent between 2020 and 2030.

Reforming the Energy Vision: Established a comprehensive energy strategy to make the vision for a clean, resilient, and affordable energy system a reality, while actively spurring energy innovation, attracting new jobs, and improving consumer choice.

Clean Energy Standard: Established the most comprehensive and ambitious clean energy mandate in the state’s history, requiring that 50 percent of electricity in New York come from renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2030.

Clean Energy Fund: Established a $5 billion fund that is jump-starting clean-tech innovation, mobilizing private investment, capitalizing the nation’s largest Green Bank, and helping eliminate market barriers to make clean energy scalable and affordable for all New Yorkers.

Coal-Free New York: Committed to close or repower all coal-burning power plants in New York to cleaner fuel sources by 2020.

Offshore Wind: Approved the nation’s largest wind energy project off the Long Island coast in 2017 and made an unprecedented commitment to develop up to 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030.

Governor Andrew Cuomo with Long Island Power Authority CEO Tom Falcone. LIPA is moving forward with its first offshore wind project © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

California’s Climate Leadership

Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions: Established ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets to reduce emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. These targets have made California a leader across the country in fighting climate change.

Cap-and-Trade: Established the most comprehensive carbon market in North America, investing more than $2.6 billion from the Cap-and-Trade program in programs and projects that reduce emissions and support communities disadvantaged by pollution.

Renewable Energy: Established landmark targets that require at least 33 percent of California’s electricity comes from renewable energy sources by 2020, and 50 percent by 2030.

Energy Efficiency: Established targets that double the rate of energy efficiency savings in California buildings and require residential buildings to be Zero Net Energy by 2020, and all commercial buildings to be Zero Net Energy by 2030.

Super Pollutant Reduction: Established the nation’s toughest restrictions on destructive super pollutants, such as methane, black carbon, and hydrofluorocarbon gases.

Low Carbon Fuel Standard: Established requirements for producers of petroleum-based fuels to reduce the carbon intensity of their products, helping drive the replacement of fossil fuels with renewable natural gas and diesel, low-carbon ethanol, and clean electricity, giving consumers more clean fuel choices while driving significant clean fuel investment and creating new economic opportunities.

Zero Emission Vehicles: Established a program requiring increased sales of zero emission vehicles – a policy adopted by 10 states – resulting in more than 30 new models of clean and affordable vehicles that are reducing consumer gasoline and diesel costs. California also adopted North America’s first greenhouse gas emission car standards – later adopted as a national program – and adopted the nation’s first heavy-duty vehicle and trailer greenhouse gas emission reduction requirements, which led to similar national requirements.

These efforts complement New York and California’s ongoing efforts to broaden collaboration among subnational leaders on climate change, including through the Under2 Coalition – a pact among cities, states and countries around the world to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius in order to avoid potentially catastrophic consequences. New York and California are among the Under2 Coalition’s 167 jurisdictions representing more than one billion people and $25.9 trillion in combined GDP – more than one-third of the global economy.

NYS Governor Gives His Support for Long Island to Sign Deal for Offshore Windpower

Long Island activists rally for offshore windpower at LI Power Authority.
Long Island activists rally for offshore windpower at LI Power Authority.

 

Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

On January 25, activists who have been fighting for decades for clean, renewable energy in order to end our society’s dangerous addiction to fossil fuels, are hoping they will finally be able to pop the champagne corks when the Long Island Power Authority Board approves a power purchase agreement for off-shore wind power for the East End.

Indeed, just a week after the Block Island Wind Farm began producing power, New York labor unions, civic and environmental organizations and elected officials hosted a rally outside of Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) praising LIPA for expressing support of offshore wind power and its anticipated vote on Jan. 25 to move forward on the nation’s largest offshore wind project. Over 100 gathered in front of LIPA, in the largest show of Long Island’s support for offshore wind to date.

Located off the east end of Long Island, Deepwater Wind’s 90-megawatt, 15-turbine project will produce enough energy to power about 50,000 Long Island homes by 2022. This pivotal decision, opening a new era for Long Island’s energy economy, would eliminate the need for LIPA to build a new fossil fuel-fired plant to meet the region’s energy needs. Keep in mind that Long Island officials keep saying the impediment to businesses coming here are the high energy costs.

Now the activists are calling on LIPA to move forward on the Island-Wide renewable energy Request for Proposal in early 2017 which could include another 210 MW of offshore wind off of Long Island’s south fork. (Europe already generates 12,100 megawatts of off-shore wind energy).

Meanwhile, in the waning days of the Obama Administration (and not a moment too soon), the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), awarded Statoil Wind US LLC, a private company from Norway that specializes in oil and gas, the lease to develop an off-shore wind farm on 80,000 acres some 12 miles off of Long Island’s south shore. Statoil’s $42.5 million bid beat out NYSERDA, the New York State energy research development agency, which had wanted to win so it could be the lead agency and expedite development of off-shore windpower for New York.

The project could provide 800 megawatts of offshore wind power in an area 17 miles south of the Rockaway Peninsula.

Now that it will be the domain of a private company, New York customers- like LIPA and Con Ed – will likely have to compete with New Jersey and others. LIPA needs to lock in supply, with a Power Purchase Agreement and details on where the company can run its cables on to shore, and do so before the Trumpsters try to overturn the lease altogether. Recall this is the same area where a private company wanted to site the Port Ambrose Liquified Natural Gas facility, which would have shut down the possibility of any wind farm.

The incoming Trump Administration’s determination to reverse course on a transition to clean, renewable energy, and return us to dependency on fossil fuels – no matter the impact on climate, the environment and ecology, no matter how it basically indentures residents and businesses to ever higher prices for energy, no matter how it endangers national security –  means it will be up to the states to continue progress.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has set a goal of producing 50% of New York’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and 80% by 2050, with an ultimate goal of 100%. Developing offshore wind power – and a wholly new industry for Long Island – is essential for achieving those targets, along with solar, geothermal and hydro power sources (East Hampton has passed legislation that it would get 100 percent of its electricity from clean, renewable sources.)

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State address at SUNY Farmingdale, Long Island, declares his support to develop offshore windpower, beginning with 90 megawatts to serve the East End, and ultimately 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind power in the Atlantic Ocean by 2030 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State address at SUNY Farmingdale, Long Island, declares his support to develop offshore windpower, beginning with 90 megawatts to serve the East End, and ultimately 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind power in the Atlantic Ocean by 2030 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Cuomo made major news during his State of the State message at SUNY Farmingdale on Long Island, announced that New York is committed to building 2,400 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind power by 2030 – enough to power 1.25 million homes. The Governor also pledged his support for New York’s first, and the nation’s largest, offshore wind project off the east end of Long Island.

“We have to start to do some big things, we have to do big things in renewable energy to get that cost to power down on Long Island,” he stated. “And we have wind power, we’ve had wind power for years. Offshore wind farms work. They can be done right, they can be done correctly, they don’t have to be an eyesore.

“I’m calling on LIPA to approve a 90 megawatt wind farm. It’s enough to support 50,000 homes. They will not be visible from the beach. They will be 30 miles southeast of Montauk. Not even Superman standing on Montauk Point could see these wind farms. But the upside is tremendous. It will be the largest offshore wind project in our nation’s history, not just in existence. It’s jobs. It’s clean energy and it’s inexpensive energy which then drives the economy. And we are not going to stop there. We have a mandate of 50 percent renewable power by the year 2030. We want to get 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030 and we are not going to stop until we reach 100 percent renewable because that’s what a sustainable New York is really all about.”

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State address at SUNY Farmingdale, Long Island says the ultimate goal is generating 100% of the state’s energy needs from renewable sources © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State address at SUNY Farmingdale, Long Island says the ultimate goal is generating 100% of the state’s energy needs from renewable sources © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Offshore wind power is especially important in light of Cuomo’s pronouncement in his State of the State address that the Indian Point nuclear plant, which theoretically generates 2000 megawatts of energy, will be shut down by 2021.

The Atlantic waters off Long Island has some of the best conditions for off-shore windpower production in North America, if not the world. Dubbed the “Saudi Arabia of offshore wind” we could be the epicenter for a new American energy industry, already $20 billion globally. Scientists and engineers at SUNY Stony Brook are developing new battery storage systems and monitoring controls. Wind turbines need to be manufactured, installed, monitored and maintained, producing thousands of everlasting jobs along with the wind power.

And unlike fossil fuels, where the prices are unpredictable except they almost always go up (oil and gas, after all, are finite resources, costly to develop, process and deliver), wind power is a predictable, stable price that is on a trajectory to come down, not up.

“It’s been a marathon of work and effort to bring wind power to Long Island, but we are at the last mile and moving closer to the finish line,” Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment said at the Dec. 20 rally. “Long Islanders are ready for offshore wind. We have assessed the science, the economics and the societal benefits and we concluded that wind works as an important mainstream energy source. We can longer be fossil fools and deny the consequences of climate change.”

“With Donald Trump about to occupy the White House, it’s essential that states like New York take the lead in transitioning from dirty fossil fuels to renewable energy,” Eric Weltman, Senior Organizer, Food & Water Watch stated. “Climate change could be catastrophic to New York, but with the fossil fuel industry poised to set federal energy policy, we need Governor Cuomo to lead a clean energy revolution. Having banned fracking, a next crucial step is for New York to move forward with the nation’s largest offshore wind farm.”

Come out to the LIPA board meeting on January 25 to show your support.

If they build it, we will come.

To learn more about Reforming the Energy Vision, including the Governor’s $5 billion investment in clean energy technology and innovation, visit www.ny.gov/REV4NY and follow @Rev4NY.

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at  www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

 

Obama Administration Implements New Actions to Bring Clean Energy Savings to All Americans

Solar energy array, Greece. Even as President Obama works to make clean, renewable energy readily available for all Americans, the incoming Trump Administration is likely to reverse course in favor of boosting fossil fuels. © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Solar energy array, Greece. Even as President Obama works to make clean, renewable energy readily available for all Americans, the incoming Trump Administration is likely to reverse course in favor of boosting fossil fuels. © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Even as President Obama works frantically in the closing days of his administration to facilitate a transition to clean, renewable energy in order to address the climate change crisis, the incoming occupier Donald Trump has called Climate Change a hoax perpetrated by China to weaken the US economy, and has promised to ease the way for domestic oil and gas production and coal mining. 

The news that the largest domestic oil & gas field in US history has just been unearthed in Texas by the US Geological Survey – 20 billion gallons ($900B worth) – means that, with Trump controlling energy policy, the US is doomed to global-warming carbon economy for the foreseeable future, or until earth is rendered uninhabitable by climate change. What do you bet Trump will cancel any incentive to clean energy?

Meanwhile, Obama has been working frantically to raise the threshold of clean, renewable energy. Here is the latest (possibly final) initiative. One wonders whether Trump will reverse it, just because he can. 

This fact sheet is from the White House (and should stand as a reminder of all that we are about to lose):

FACT SHEET: OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES NEW ACTIONS TO BRING CLEAN ENERGY SAVINGS TO ALL AMERICANS

Through President Obama’s Clean Energy Savings for All Initiative and beyond, we are making progress opening up opportunities for all American’s to go solar and retrofit their homes and businesses to be more energy efficient. Since President Obama took office, the amount of electricity we generate from the sun has increased more than 30 fold, we added solar jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the economy, and we’ve cut the price of residential solar energy systems more than 50 percent. In fact, earlier this week the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot program announced a new target to cut the cost of solar in half by 2030. At the same time, energy consumption in 2015 was 1.5 percent lower than it was in 2008, while the economy grew by 10 percent over the same period. And we have improved the energy efficiency of more than one million low and moderate income homes.

Today, in coordination with a White House Clean Energy Savings for All Summit in Baltimore, Maryland hosted by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Labor Secretary Tom Perez, the Obama Administration is taking the following new actions:

Launching a Challenge to Bring Solar Energy to Dozens of Low and Moderate Income Communities: The U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative is launching a new Solar In Your Community challenge to expand solar access to Americans who have been left out of the growing solar market, including low- and moderate-income (LMI) households, state, local and tribal governments, and non-profit organizations. One hundred teams across the country will compete for cash prizes and technical assistance as they demonstrate innovative business and financial models that expand solar access to under-served groups. The teams with the most scalable, replicable solar business models will be eligible to win $1 million in final prizes, including a $500,000 grand prize. This challenge will reduce market barriers to solar deployment by spurring dozens of projects across the nation, with an emphasis on new and emerging solar markets. The challenge will help to achieve President Obama’s goal to bring 1 gigawatt (GW) of solar to low and moderate income families by 2020, test new business models that expand solar access, build local capacity to support community-scale solar projects, and establish resources that will aid in expanding solar access to underserved communities.

Growing the Reach And Impact of the Obama Administration’s National Community Solar Partnership: Last July, the Administration launched the National Community Solar Partnership—a collaborative effort between DOE, HUD, USDA, EPA, representatives from solar companies, NGOs, and state and community leaders —which works to unlock access to solar for the nearly 50 percent of households and businesses that are renters or do not have adequate roof space to install solar systems, in particular, for low- and moderate- income communities. Since we launched the partnership last year, more than 150 companies, organizations, and universities that represent 36 states have joined the effort to increase access to community solar, growing the number of members to 155, including the following 27 new partners joining today:

  • C2 Special Situations Group – New York
  • Center for Sustainable Communities – Georgia
  • Clean Energy States Alliance – Vermont
  • Connexus Energy – Minnesota
  • Elemental Energy, Inc. – Oregon
  • Energy Alabama – Alabama
  • Energy Outreach Colorado – Colorado
  • Energy Solidarity Cooperative – California
  • Environment Georgia – Georgia
  • Great Plains Institute – Minnesota
  • ICAST – Colorado
  • Imani Energy, Inc. – Delaware
  • Metropolitan Area Planning Council – Massachusetts
  • Minnesota Department of Commerce – Minnesota
  • MN Community Solar – Minnesota
  • Monadnock Sustainability Network – New Hampshire
  • Nebraskans for Solar – Nebraska
  • North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center – North Carolina
  • Novel Energy Solutions – Minnesota
  • Placer Consulting Services LLC – Tennessee
  • Reneu Energy – New York
  • Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources – Rhode Island
  • Rural Communities Housing Development Corporation – California
  • Solar Site Design – Tennessee
  • Sunvestment Group, LLC – New York
  • Tralee Capital Partners – Colorado
  • West Virginia Solar Systems – West Virginia

Issuing Best Practices for Promoting the Development of Smart Residential PACE Financing Programs that ProtectConsumers: Today, DOE is releasing updated Best Practice Guidelines for Residential PACE Financing Programs. The guidelines provide best practices that can help state and local governments, PACE program administrators, and their partners to plan and implement programs that effectively deliver clean energy, water efficiency, and related upgrades to consumers. The updated best practices reflect input gained from over 200 comments on draft guidelines released for public review earlier this summer. The new guidelines include additional protections for consumers who voluntarily opt into PACE programs and lenders who hold mortgages on properties with PACE assessments. DOE also provides additional guidelines and program design recommendations to help ensure PACE financing is used appropriately and at the lowest cost for low-income households that otherwise meet program eligibility criteria. DOE will continue supporting state and local governments in incorporating the guidelines into PACE statutes and regulations as they are developed and modified. Additional information about PACE financing and technical assistance available at DOE can be found at their State and Local Solution Center. The best practices build on the PACE financing guidance issued by the Federal Housing Administration and Department of Veterans Affairs this summer.

Announcing a New Partnership to Help Improve Energy Efficiency in HUD-Assisted and Public Housing: This summer, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development began partnering with EDF Climate Corps fellows to promote utility benchmarking of HUD-Assisted and Public Housing.  The fellows will be embedded with organizations across the country to offer assistance in analyzing and documenting portfolio-wide energy usage and developing strategies to improve energy performance and reduce operating costs.

Creating a Clean Energy Compact between the Department of Energy and Historically Black Colleges and Universities to Forge a Workforce and Community Investment Program: As the energy industry continues to transform, the U.S. Department of Energy is working with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to establish the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Clean Energy Coalition (HBCU-CEC).  The goal is to strategically engage the nation’s HBCUs in the adoption of energy efficiency, solar and other renewable energies on campus and within the communities where HBCUs are located, primarily populated by low and moderate income individuals and families.  Collectively, the coalition, with technical assistance from the Department of Energy, led by the Energy Jobs Strategy Council and the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity, will forge a workforce and community investment program focusing on energy education and awareness, low and moderate income solar deployment, building energy efficiency, job creation, jobs skills training, utility costs savings, and reduction in environmental impacts.  These efforts will help to position HBCUs as demonstrated leaders in deploying clean energy in low and moderate income communities while insuring the community benefits from resultant economic and social opportunities.

 

Dueling Candidates: Hillary Clinton Sees Energy Policy as Climate Action, Donald Trump Touts ‘America First Energy Plan’

Dueling candidates: Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton have diametrically opposed energy plans © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Dueling candidates: Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton have diametrically opposed energy plans © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The contrast between the candidates’ ideas for energy could not be starker. Hillary Clinton recognizes that energy policy is critical climate action (saving the planet and human habitability), seeing the potential for economic revolution and jobs creation through making the US the world leader in the emerging clean, renewable energy industry. Donald Trump, who never mentions climate change except to say it is a “hoax” perpetrated by China, frames his “America First Energy Plan” as unleashing production of fossil fuels – properly presenting it as “USA, USA and the rest of the planet be damned.” Keep in mind, the US is 5% of the world’s population but is responsible for 25% of the planet’s carbon emissions that are already rendering island nations virtually uninhabitable. China may be close, but it also has four times the population and, in face of choking, debilitating air pollution, is already implementing its agreement to reduce emissions. Here are their campaigns’ own statements about their plans. – Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features.

Clinton Has A Plan To Combat Climate Change

Hillary Clinton, first woman to head the Democratic ticket for President, takes a victory lap at a rally in Westbury, Long Island following a triumphant first debate, at Hofstra © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Hillary Clinton, first woman to head the Democratic ticket for President, takes a victory lap at a rally in Westbury, Long Island following a triumphant first debate, at Hofstra © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Hillary Clinton believes climate change is an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time. That’s why she’s released a bold plan to make the United States the clean energy superpower of the 21st Century, create millions of good-paying jobs across the country, save families money on their energy bills, and ensure that no community is left out or left behind in the clean energy economy, from coal country to Indian country to our inner cities.

Her strategy calls for three goals to achieve within ten years of taking office:

  • Generate half of our electricity from clean sources, with half a billion solar panels installed by the end of her first term.
  • Cut energy waste in American homes, schools, hospitals and offices by a third and make American manufacturing the cleanest and most efficient in the world.
  • Reduce American oil consumption by a third through cleaner fuels and more efficient cars, boilers, ships and trucks.

Clinton has long fought for clean energy and measures to curb climate change:

  • As Secretary of State, she built an unprecedented global effort to combat climate change, making it a key U.S. foreign policy priority, and with President Obama achievedthe key diplomatic breakthrough that yielded the first international climate agreement in which major developing countries like China, India, and Brazil committed to reduce their GHG pollution.
  • She has praised the Paris climate agreement, calling it a “testament to America’s ability to lead the world in building a clean energy future where no one is left out or left behind.”
  • TIME op-ed: America Must Lead at Paris Climate Talks — “As Secretary of State, I put combating climate change on the agenda for my first trip to Beijing and kept it there over the next four years. I appointed the first high-level special envoy for climate change and led an international effort to launch the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to reduce so-called “super pollutants” that make up just a fraction of emissions, but drive a disproportionate share of warming. As President, I will protect and build on the progress President Obama has made at home.”
  • As Senator, she twiceintroduced the Strategic Energy Fund Act to prioritize investment in smarter energy and extend tax credits for ethanol, wind, and other renewable energy sources. The Strategic Energy Fund Act would have eliminated key tax breaks for oil and gas companies. She also introduced a measure that was signed into law requiring the Pentagon to address the risks of climate change in its strategic planning.
  • She worked with Senate colleagues of all stripes to confront these challenges, teaming upwith Bernie Sanders to create job training opportunities in the clean energy industry, and working with Jim Inhofe to expand alternative energy use in federal buildings.
  • She worked with Senator Chuck Schumer on legislation calling for the study and potential creation of a national heritage area surrounding Niagara Falls. Following the release of the study, the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area was established in 2008. She workedwith Carl Levin to safeguard wildlife and promote sound water management in the Great Lakes region, and she consistently fought against opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

While Clinton believes the U.S. must act to tackle climate change, Donald Trump is burying his head in the sand by claiming it’s a hoax.

DONALD J. TRUMP’S AMERICA FIRST ENERGY PLAN

Donald Trump addresses New York State Conservative Party in New York City © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Donald Trump addresses New York State Conservative Party in New York City © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Donald J. Trump’s Vision On Energy

Mr. Trump’s America First Energy Plan will make America energy independent, create millions of new jobs, and protect clean air and clean water. We will conserve our natural habitats, reserves and resources. And we will unleash an energy revolution that will bring vast new wealth to our country.

We must make American energy dominance a strategic economic and foreign policy goal of the United States. President Obama’s anti-energy orders have weakened our security, by keeping us reliant on foreign sources of energy. Every dollar of energy we don’t explore here, is a dollar of energy that makes someone else rich over there. Imagine a world in which our foes, and the oil cartels, can no longer use energy as a weapon.

America will become, and stay, totally independent of any need to import energy from the OPEC cartel or any nations hostile to our interests. And at the same time, we will work with our Gulf allies to develop a positive energy relationship as part of our anti-terrorism strategy.

Mr. Trump’s plan is an “all of the above” energy plan that encourages the use of natural gas and other American energy resources. It reduces emissions, the price of energy, and increases our economic output. In addition, we will decrease residential and transportation energy costs, leaving more money for American families as they pay less each month on power bills and gasoline for cars. Electricity will be more affordable for U.S. manufacturers, which will help our companies create jobs, and heaper energy will boost American agriculture.

An America First Energy plan will make the choice of sharing in our great American energy wealth, over sharing in the poverty promised by Hillary Clinton. We will engage in energy exploration which will create a resurgence in American manufacturing, dramatically reducing both our trade deficit and our budget deficit. The Trump plan will end the war on the American worker, putting our coal miners and steel workers back to work.

This new direction will end all job-destroying Obama executive actions as well as reduce and eliminate all barriers to responsible energy production. We must support coal production, safe hydraulic fracturing, and allow energy production on federal lands in appropriate areas. It is also time to open up vast areas of our offshore energy resources for safe production.

The Trump plan will use the revenues from energy production to reduce our debt, rebuild our inner cities, roads, schools, bridges and public infrastructure. It will ensure a reliable, streamlined regulatory and permitting process for energy infrastructure projects to be completed on time and on budget. We commit to solving real environmental problems in our communities like the need for clean and safe drinking water. Most importantly, American workers will be the ones building this new infrastructure.

Mr. Trump’s 100-Day Action Plan

Mr. Trump will rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions including the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule.

Mr. Trump will ask TransCanada to renew its permit application for the Keystone Pipeline.

Mr. Trump will lift moratoriums on energy production in federal areas

Mr. Trump will revoke policies that impose unwarranted restrictions on new drilling technologies. These technologies will create millions of jobs with a smaller footprint than ever before.

Mr. Trump will cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.

Any regulation that is outdated, unnecessary, bad for workers, or contrary to the national interest will be scrapped. Mr. Trump will also eliminate duplication, provide regulatory certainty, and trust local officials and local residents.

Any future regulation will go through a simple test: Is this regulation good for the American worker? If it doesn’t pass this test, the rule will not be approved.

 

Obama Administration Announces Clean Energy Savings for All Americans Initiative

 

 

Solar panels are ubiquitous to generate hot water… in Albania, where 70% of electricity comes from hydroelectric power © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Solar panels are ubiquitous to generate hot water… in Albania, where 70% of electricity comes from hydroelectric power © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Even as the Clean Energy Revolution March gets underway on Sunday, July 24 just ahead of the Democratic National Convention, the White House released a fact sheet describing the Clean Energy Savings for All Americans Initiative. The March is to win support – from Democrats (since Republicans unabashedly  deny Climate Change and hold in their platform the elevation of coal and fossil fuels while impeding clean, renewable energy – to ban fracking and to achieve 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030, without the fiction of natural gas or even worse, nuclear, as a “bridge” or transition fuel. The demands of the march are simple and bold:

  • Ban fracking now
  • Keep fossil fuels in the ground
  • Stop dirty energy
  • Environmental justice for all
  • A quick and justly transition to 100 percent renewable energy

Details about the march are available on the official march website:  www.cleanenergymarch.org.

Meanwhile, here is the Fact Sheet presented by the White House on “clean Energy Savings for All Americans” Initiative.

(Click HERE to view a video on Access to Solar Panels featuring President Obama)

President Obama is committed to ensuring that every American family can choose to go solar and to cut their energy bills – and that every American community has the tools they need to tackle local air pollution and global climate change.

Since President Obama took office, solar electricity generation has increased 30 fold and solar jobs are growing 12 times faster than the rest of the economy. Last year, we announced a set of actions to increase access to solar and create a more inclusive workforce, but there is still more work to do. That is why, today, the Obama Administration is announcing a new cross government partnership – the Clean Energy Savings For All Initiative – between the Departments of Energy (DOE), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Agriculture (USDA), Health and Human Services (HHS), Veteran’s Affairs (VA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to increase access to solar energy and promote energy efficiency across the United States and, in particular in low- and moderate- income communities.

Through the Clean Energy Savings for All Initiative, the Administration will work to ensure that every household has options to choose to go solar and put in place additional measures to promote energy efficiency. To continue along this track, the Administration, in collaboration with state agencies, is announcing a new catalytic goal to bring 1 gigawatt (GW) of solar to low- and moderate- income families by 2020. This goal is a 10 fold increase and an expansion of the initial target President Obama set in his Climate Action Plan to install 100 MW of renewable energy on federally-assisted affordable housing by 2020.  The Clean Energy Savings for All Initiative will help achieve the goal by promoting innovative financing mechanisms, bolstering technical assistance for states and communities, driving innovation, scaling up workforce training to make sure low- and moderate-income Americans can take advantage of the jobs that come with a transition to clean energy, convening stakeholders, and working with the private and philanthropic sectors. The key components of the initiative that the Administration is announcing today are:

  • HUD and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are releasing new guidance to unlock residential Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing by outlining how properties with PACE assessments can be purchased and refinanced with Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insurance and by welcoming the use of PACE financing for Veterans Affairs (VA)-insured mortgages. In addition, DOE is releasing a draft of their updated Best Practices Guidelines for Residential PACE Financing for public comment. PACE is a tool that allows American homeowners, including low- and moderate- income households and veterans, to finance solar and energy efficiency improvements at no upfront cost and to pay back the cost over time through their property tax bill;
  • DOE is developing a Community Solar Challenge that will award teams in dozens of communities up to $100,000, in cash prizes and technical assistance, to develop innovative models to increase solar deployment and cut communities’ energy bills, in particular in low income communities;
  • HHS and DOE are making it easier to use hundreds of millions of dollars for energy efficiency improvements by providing technical assistance to Low Income Housing Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) grantees on their ability to access 15 – 25 percent of their annual LIHEAP funding for low cost energy efficiency improvements, including renewable energy;
  • DOE is making sure low- and moderate-income Americans can take advantage of the jobs that come with a transition to clean energy by launching the Solar Training Network, which will help create a more inclusive workforce by connecting solar workforce trainers, solar employers, and individuals interested in working in the solar industry;
  • EPA, DOE, and HUD are bringing people together to share best practices on how to finance and overcome barriers to creating healthier communities; and
  • More than 120 housing authorities, rural electric co-ops, power companies, and organizations in more than 36 states across the country are committing to investing $287 million and putting in place more than 280 megawatts (MW) of solar energy projects, including projects to help low- and moderate- income communities save on their energy bills and further the deployment of community solar.

The announcements today will result in lower energy bills, more empowered consumers, and cleaner communities.

EXECUTIVE ACTIONS TO SCALE UP SOLAR AND REDUCE ENERGY BILLS

To continue supporting all American communities in deploying renewable energy while creating jobs and reducing carbon pollution, the Administration is announcing the following actions:

Supporting the Scale Up of Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing:  Since 2009, the Obama Administration has been working to provide homeowners the opportunity to finance solar and energy efficiency improvements at no upfront cost through a mechanism called PACE, including through the Middle Class Taskforce and by releasing aPolicy Framework for PACE Financing Programs. Today, the Obama Administration is taking a number of new actions to allow American homeowners, including low- and moderate- income households and veterans to use PACE financing.  This innovative financing mechanism allows homeowners to benefit from energy improvements immediately and pay back the cost over time through their property taxes. If the property is sold, including through foreclosure, the remaining PACE assessment will stay with the more energy efficient property and the next owner will become responsible for the remaining PACE assessment. The PACE initiatives announced today will unlock alternative sources of capital for low- and moderate- income Americans and veterans to scale up solar, promote energy and water efficiency retrofits, and create more resilient homes, leading to reduced energy bills, more empowered consumers, and cleaner communities.

Ø  Issuing Guidance on how to Use FHA Mortgage Insurance with PACE Financing: For more than 80 years, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has provided low- and moderate- income households and underserved communities access to safe and affordable housing through FHA mortgage insurance. Each day, more than 3,000 people close on a home for which the mortgage is insured by FHA. Today, FHA is releasing guidance outlining how properties with PACE assessments can be purchased and refinanced with an FHA-insured mortgage. This action is intended to support renewable energy and energy efficiency investments in single family housing, support retrofits that boost resilience to climate risks, and remove existing barriers to using PACE financing. The key requirements outlined in FHA’s guidance are: the PACE assessment does not take first lien position ahead of the mortgage and the assessment transfers from one property owner to the next, including through a foreclosure sale. The guidance also requires appraisers to analyze and report on the impact of PACE-related improvements to the value of the property.

Ø  Unlocking PACE Financing for Veterans: Today, in support of the Administration’s longstanding commitment to create a clean-energy economy and help Americans take advantage of clean energy technologies, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is issuing policy guidance on PACE-financed homes.   Today’s guidance will clarify the circumstances under which Veterans are able to take advantage of PACE programs in conjunction with their VA Home Loan Guaranty benefit, providing a new opportunity for veterans to participate in the clean energy economy and save on their energy bills.

Ø  Providing Best Practices for New and Existing Residential PACE Programs throughout the Country: DOE is releasing a draft of their updated Best Practices Guidelines for Residential PACE Financing for public comment from stakeholders, including consumer advocates, public policy leaders, and industry. This public comment period is critical to ensuring the highest levels of consumer and lender protections. Across the nation, fifteen states have already adopted residential PACE-enabling legislation. Overall, nearly 100,000 households have utilized PACE programs to finance over $2 billion in energy saving improvements to their homes. The updated guidelines reflect the evolving structure of the PACE market and incorporate lessons learned from various PACE programs that have been successfully implemented since the original guidelines were issued. They provide best practices for residential PACE programs, including protections to both consumers who voluntarily opt into PACE programs, and to lenders who hold mortgages on properties with PACE assessments. The guidelines can also be used by PACE program administrators, contractors and consumers to plan, develop and implement programs and improvements that effectively deliver home energy and related upgrades. DOE’s updated Best Practice Guidelines for Residential PACE Financing rely upon important progress that the Department has made in a critical partnership with industry, including a formal partnership with the Appraisal Foundation to develop guidance on valuation of energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings that was launched in 2011. DOE is also partnering with the Appraisal Institute to integrate energy efficiency into appraisals and real estate transactions and deliver education and training to appraisers through the Better Buildings Home Energy Information Accelerator, where they have enlisted the support of the Real Estate Standards Organization, the Council of MLS, Homes.com, and National Association of Realtors. 

Ø  Providing Technical Assistance to Make it Easier for States and Communities to Stand Up Smart PACE Programs: DOE will provide technical assistance to support the design and implementation of effective PACE programs, including conducting a series of webinars and online workshops to facilitate peer exchange and provide access to PACE experts; conducting research on the lessons learned from state and local residential PACE programs , including analysis of the impact of PACE on community adoption rates of energy efficiency improvements and per household energy consumption, and various program design strategies, and effectiveness of PACE relative to other financing mechanisms. DOE is also working with State Energy Offices, local government representatives, residential PACE industry representatives, and subject matter experts to focus on residential PACE program design (including consumer protection options) and the development and dissemination of detailed program best practices.

Developing a Community Solar Challenge: To help meet the Administration’s 1 GW goal, DOE is announcing the development of aCommunity Solar Challenge that will award teams in dozens of communities up to $100,000 to develop innovative models to increase solar deployment and cut communities’ energy bills, in particular in low-income communities. Today, the DOE SunShot Initiative is releasing a request for information to gather feedback and information on the structure of challenge. Shared solar systems of 2 megawatts (MW) or less with 40 percent low- and moderate- income subscribers, solar systems that benefit low-income families, and solar for community assets, e.g., hospitals, schools, food banks, and health clinics will be eligible. This challenge will reduce market barriers to solar deployment by spurring the deployment of dozens of projects across the nation, with an emphasis on new and emerging solar markets.

Making it Easier for Low Income Households to Access Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in Funding for Renewable Energy Investments:The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides, on average more than $3 billion a year to communities across the country and includes a provision that allows LIHEAP grantees to access 15 – 25 percent of their annual funding for low cost weatherization and energy efficiency improvements. Today, we are announcing technical assistance to LIHEAP grantees to increase their ability to use this funding to support the deployment of renewable energy.

Tracking the Deployment of Solar on Low- and Moderate Income Households: DOE, in collaboration with HUD and GTM Research, will work with the national labs to track progress on the deployment of solar energy for low- and moderate- income households, in particular to reach the Administration’s 1 GW goal.

Providing Technical Assistance to Make it Easier for More Americans to Participate in the Clean Energy Economy: Today, the Administration is announcing three actions to ensure all communities have the information they need to participate in the clean energy economy.

Ø  Creating a Resource Hub to Promote Energy Access: DOE is creating a cross-agency digital hub on the Solar Powering America website so that communities, businesses, organizations and state and local governments can learn about federal resources to help low- and moderate-income Americans go solar.

Ø  Providing Resources to Bring Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to Low-Income Communities: In the coming months, the EPA will provide additional informational resources to help state and local energy, environmental, housing, and social services agencies, non-profits, and utilities understand successful models they can use to bring energy efficiency and renewable energy to low-income communities. Current resources available on the EPA’s website include five case studies and profiles, recordings from three webinars, and a guide to EPA programs.

Ø  Providing Technical Assistance to Remote Communities: DOE’s Office of Indian Energy (IE) is announcing $7 million in funding to establish an inter-tribal technical assistance energy providers’ network. This program will provide Alaska Native communities assistance to develop energy experts that provide technical energy assistance and informational resources to their member Alaska Native villages.

Bringing People Together to Share Best Practices on how to Finance and Overcome Barriers to Creating Healthier Communities: Today, the Obama Administration is announcing we will host a series of convenings across the country to expand access to financing for community solar and develop new partnerships to create healthier communities:

Ø  Convening Banks and Regulators to Expand Access to Financing for Community Solar Projects for Low- and Moderate- Income Households: DOE is announcing its plans to convene local and regional banks and their regulators for a summit to identify strategies to improve and expand community solar project financing, with an emphasis on serving low- and moderate-income households. The summit will provide the most recent information on the potential market opportunities for community solar, underwriting best practices, and updates on regulatory guidance.

Ø  Convening a Series of Clean Energy Savings for All Summits Across the Country: Working with national and regional partners, the White House, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will convene a series of Clean Energy Savings for All Summits in communities across the United States, beginning with a Summit on August 9, 2016 in Spartanburg, South Carolina. These events will provide local and state officials, advocates, community organizations, and interested members of the public an opportunity to develop new partnerships and learn about ways we can further reduce air pollution, deploy clean energy and energy efficiency, and build an inclusive clean energy economy for all Americans.

Ø  Hosting a National Funding Resources and Training Summit for Vulnerable Communities: On October 25-26, 2016, the EPA will host The National Funding Resources and Training Summit for Vulnerable Communities in Washington, DC to enhance collaboration around environmental, health and economic concerns and ensure vulnerable populations have access to information, services, and data for increased resilience, engagement, and sustainability. The summit themes will include: just transition workforce development, financial resources and entrepreneurship development, and health and environmental training and outreach.

Building an Inclusive Solar Energy Workforce: Since the President took office, we have trained more than 50,000 workers to enter the solar industry, bringing us closer reaching our goal of training 75,000 workers to enter the solar industry by 2020. To continue enhancing employment opportunities for all Americans, including low-income and minority communities, and make sure workers can take advantage of the jobs that come with a transition to clean energy:

Ø  DOE is Launching the Solar Training Network: The Solar Training Network will support the development of a well-trained and inclusive workforce by connecting trainers, solar employers, and individuals interested in working in the solar industry. The Solar Foundation will administer the program and will create a centralized clearinghouse for solar workforce tools and resources, including the establishment of a Solar Jobs Strategy Commission to foster an exchange of resources and knowledge between training providers and the solar industry. The Solar Foundation will also conduct research and analysis to enhance the understanding of the solar industry’s workforce and training supply, demand, costs, and needs.

Ø  DOE is Announcing a Community and Workforce Investment Program in Baltimore, Maryland: Today, DOE’s Job Strategy Council launched a community and workforce investment program to both create new employment opportunities and train low income residents in West Baltimore for jobs in the solar industry. DOE’s Initiative will  explore options to expand access to solar for renters and local individuals in the Baltimore area, investigate the possibility of installing solar panels on public housing units, and in collaboration with the Morgan Community Mile Solar Installation Project, a partnership with Morgan State University, Baltimore’s Sustainability Office, GRID Alternatives, Civic Works and the local communities, weatherize and install solar panels on 33 low income homes in the Morgan Community Mile neighborhood of Baltimore. Today, DOE, the City of Baltimore and the Maryland Clean Energy Center signed a Memorandum of Understanding intended to accelerate the growth of and access to solar and renewable energy jobs and to prepare a roadmap for rapid demonstration and deployment.

STATE AND PRIVATE SECTOR COMMITMENTS TO INCREASE SOLAR ENERGY AND CUT ENERGY BILLS IN COMMUNITIES ACROSS AMERICA

To help us achieve our new goal to bring 1 GW of solar energy to low- and moderate- income families by 2020, today, the Administration is announcing more than 120 new commitments from the private, state, local, and philanthropic sectors in 36 states to support the deployment of solar energy in low-and moderate income communities and promote community solar and energy efficiency. Today’s new commitments represent $287 million in investment, and nearly 280 MW of community solar and low-and moderate income solar deployment. They bring the total amount of commitments secured to more than $800 million in investment and more than 491 MW of solar power.  These announcements include:

Growing The Reach And Impact Of The National Community Solar Partnership by 6 Fold: Last July, the Administration launched the National Community Solar Partnership—a collaborative effort between the DOE, HUD, USDA, EPA, representatives from solar companies, NGOs, and state and community leaders —which works to unlock access to solar for the nearly 50 percent of households and businesses that are renters or do not have adequate roof space to install solar systems, in particular, for low- and moderate- income communities. Since we launched the partnership last year, more than 110 companies, organizations, and universities that represent 25 states have joined the effort to increase access to community solar, growing the number of members by six fold to 135, including the following 67 new partners joining today:

  • All Energy Solar – Minnesota
  • Altus Power America – Oklahoma
  • Banner Solar – Idaho
  • Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition – New York
  • Bonneville Environmental Foundation – Oregon
  • Boston Community Capital – Massachusetts
  • Building Science Innovators, LLC – Louisiana
  • Cadmus – Colorado
  • Center for Resource Solutions – California
  • Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board – New York
  • Clean Energy Economy Minnesota – Minnesota
  • Coalition for Community Solar Access – District of Columbia
  • CohnReznick, LLP – Maryland
  • Community Energy, Inc. – Pennsylvania
  • Community Green Energy – Wisconsin
  • Community Housing Works – California
  • Community Power Network – District of Columbia
  • Community Purchasing Alliance – District of Columbia
  • Co-op Power – Massachusetts
  • Cooperative Community Energy – California
  • Cooperative Energy Futures – Minnesota
  • County of Erie, NY – New York
  • Encore Renewable Energy – Vermont
  • Energy Outreach Colorado – Colorado
  • Enterprise Community Partners – District of Columbia
  • Environmental Law and Policy Center – Illinois
  • Ethical Electric – District of Columbia
  • Eutectics, LLC – Minnesota
  • Extensible Energy, LLC – California
  • Great Plains Institute – Minnesota
  • Green Long Island, Inc. – New  York
  • GreenMark Solar – Minnesota
  • Hannah Solar – Georgia
  • kWh Analytics – California
  • Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority – California
  • Lotus Engineering and Sustainability – Colorado
  • Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments – District of Columbia
  • Michigan Energy Options – Michigan
  • Microgrid Institute – Minnesota
  • Minnesota Renewable Energy Society – Minnesota
  • Navigant Consulting – District of Columbia
  • Nexamp – Massachusetts
  • Northern Virginia Regional Commission – Virginia
  • Nuance Energy Group Inc. – California
  • ProjectEconomics – New York
  • Renewable Energy Districts – New York
  • Renewable Energy Partners – Delaware
  • Renewable Energy Services – Hawaii
  • Savannah River National Laboratory – South Carolina
  • Seminole Financial Services – Florida
  • Solar Holler – West Virginia
  • Solar Land Solutions LLC – North Carolina
  • Solarize NoVA – Virginia
  • Sun Valley Institute for Resilience – Idaho
  • SunPower Corporation – California
  • Sunswarm Community Solar – California
  • Syncarpha Capital – New York
  • United States Solar Corporation – Connecticut
  • Upepo Group – Maryland
  • Utah Clean Energy – Utah
  • Vermont Community Solar, LLC – Vermont
  • Vivint Solar – Utah
  • West Monroe Partners – Illinois
  • Winn Companies – Massachusetts
  • Yeloha – Massachusetts
  • YSG Solar – New York
  • Zolargo Energy – California 

25 Members of the Administration’s National Community Solar Partnership are announcing new commitments to deploy nearly 145 MW of community solar, including projects to scale up solar for low- and moderate- income households These commitments represent over $187 million in investment.

  • Arcadia Power commits to deploying 5 megawatts of community solar by the end of 2016. This commitment builds on the 30 kilowatts in community solar projects the company has built.
  • BARC Electric Cooperative announces that a 550 kilowatt community solar project – the first in the Commonwealth of Virginia –will be completed in early summer 2016.
  • Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition and its partners announce at least six new community and shared solar projects over the next two years that will serve more than 100 low- and moderate-income customers in southern New York.
  • Black Rock Solar commits to developing 1 MW of solar for low-income communities in Nevada in 2016. This commitment builds on the 6.5 megawatts of solar the company has already built for non-profits, schools, rural areas, Native American tribes, and low-income housing in Nevada.
  • Capitol Assets Solar Development commits to deploying 250 kilowatts of low-income solar in Houston, TX by 2020.
  • Clean Energy Collective commits to develop 50 megawatts of projects in the next two years in New York, representing a $100 million investment in the state, and reaching up to 15,000 residential customers. This builds on CEC’s 160 megawatts of installed community solar in 12 states with 26 utility partners.
  • Community Green Energy commits to developing 10 megawatts of community solar in the state of New York over the course of the next 18 months, with several projects to serve the New York City region.
  • Community Housing Works has committed to install 2.8 megawatts of solar energy that offsets both common area and tenant loads of electricity in low-income communities.  This endeavor impacts a total of 14 properties and approximately 1500 units.  This project provides the tenants with a real economic benefit of about $150,000 per year.
  • Community Owned Shared Renewables Working Group announces a goal to facilitate community-owned development of at least four new solar projects in New York State.
  • Co-op Power commits to developing 3 MWs of community solar over the next two years in Massachusetts and New York. In Massachusetts, the organization will expand its offerings in urban and rural off-site solar. In New York City, Co-op Power is announcing a new partnership with Solar One to bring on-site community solar to 400 units of cooperative and low-income housing in 2016. This builds on current successes in developing a 600 kilowatts low-income accessible, community-owned solar system in western Massachusetts.
  • Extensible Energy and Smart Electric Power Alliance commit to working with at least eight utilities in the western United States to help them with the design of over 4 MW of community solar in the next year.
  • Green Long Island in partnership with Empower Solar announces their commitment to deploy 5 megawatts of community solar in Long Island, New York over the next three years.
  • GRID Alternatives with support from The JPB Foundation, commits to provide no-cost technical assistance to help multifamily affordable housing managers, owners and developers add solar to their buildings, which will support HUD’s Renew 300 initiative under the President’s Climate Action plan, which targets the deployment of 300 MW of renewables for low-and-moderate income housing by 2020. Since 2006, GRID Alternatives has had the support of AmeriCorps VISTA. Due to capacity building support of the AmeriCorps VISTA members, GRID Alternatives went from 37 successful installations for low-income families per year in California in 2006 to over 1250 statewide in 2012.
  • Groundswell commits to develop five community solar projects in the next 12 months to demonstrate a scalable and replicable model for delivering affordable clean power to low- and moderate- income households. Groundswell will partner with faith based organizations, schools, and other local anchor institutions to complete five megawatts of community solar projects that will serve 1000 low- and moderate- income families in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. Developed in collaboration with Sustainable Capital Advisors, this expansion of our commitment builds on Groundswell’s successful pre-development efforts towards our first equitable community solar project, which will be constructed in Baltimore.
  • The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) commits to develop an innovative community solar program for all of its capital projects.  This aggressive new program will bring solar energy to communities throughout the LA region, and will represent a significant investment in communities and renewable energy over the near and long term. Metro is the first public transportation agency to pursue a community solar program, which builds on its success of deploying approximately 7 megawatts of renewable energy by the end of fiscal year 2017, with a goal of 66 percent renewable energy use by 2020.
  • Michigan Energy Options announces a new commitment to deploy 600 kilowatts of community solar in Michigan over the next year.
  • Nexamp announces 17 new community solar projects, to be completed by the end of 2016. Combined, these 35 megawatts of projects will serve nearly 2,000 Massachusetts households and non-profits, and represent an investment of $87 million in private capital. Nexamp also commits to an additional 15 megawatts of community solar projects for 2017.
  • RE-volv announces the newest cohort of Solar Ambassadors. Over the next year, RE-volv will train 40 college students at 7 universities to spearhead solar crowdfunding campaigns in their communities. This cohort of Solar Ambassadors include students at Coastal Carolina University, Swarthmore College, University of Connecticut, University of Dayton, University of New England, University of Wisconsin, Madison, and University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.
  • Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) announces a commitment to deploy 500 kilowatts of low-income solar in the Upper Midwest region of the United States over the next 18 months and 100MW for solar for communities of all incomes by 2020.
  • Solar Land Solutions LLC announces its commitment to acquire 15 sites for potential community solar projects in the state of New York.  This builds on success in helping clients acquire the rights to develop over 40 MW of community solar projects through the US.
  • Solarize NoVA announces its commitment to launch four new solarize campaigns in northern Virginia over the next year—in Alexandria, Vienna, Falls Church, and Loudon County. The group has already enabled 569 kilowatts of solar for 77 households, representing $2 million in investment.
  • The University of Maine announces plans to launch a new, interactive public database of the more than 5,000 community solar projects operating across the country. With support from the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, this web-based database will allow anyone to search and learn from existing community solar projects around the country.
  • Urban Ingenuity announces the completion of two unique community-focused solar projects financed with PACE. A critical member of the U.S. Department of Energy-funded CivicPACE program, Urban Ingenuity has closed on nearly 200 kW of solar across a church’s sanctuary, and food bank in Northeast Washington, DC as well as 30 kW of solar on a nearby public charter school. With the November 2015 solar closing on a mixed-finance affordable housing redevelopment, these new projects bring Urban Ingenuity to three unique solar plus PACE financings on non-profit properties.
  • YSG Solar announces its commitment to deploy 15 megawatts of community solar in the New York City region over the next 10 months.

19 New Affordable Housing Providers and Low Income Solar Developers are Committing to Deploy Solar, Putting Us On Track to Exceed the Administration’s Renew300 Goal To Install 300 Megawatts Of Renewable Energy in Federally Subsidized Housing:  In the past two years, in response to the Administration’s call to action, 70 affordable housing providers and nonprofits have committed to install solar, including 19 new commitments being announced today to install 124 MW of solar energy. Today’s commitments, when combined with previous commitments, put us on track to install 344 MW of solar by 2020, exceeding our updated 2020 goal, and far surpassing the President’s target in the Climate Action Plan to install 100 megawatts (MW) of solar and other types of renewable energy in Federally subsidized housing by 2020.

  • Affirmed Housing Group, California
  • Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation, Massachusetts
  • Essex Plaza Management Company, New Jersey
  • Harmony Neighborhood Development, Louisiana
  • Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles, California
  • National Community Renaissance of California, California
  • New Bedford Housing Authority, Massachusetts
  • The New York City Housing Authority-25 Megawatt Commitment, New York
  • Saint Paul Housing Authority, Minnesota
  • Corporation for Better Housing, California
  • Coachella Valley Housing Corporation, California
  • Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara, California
  • Levy Affiliated, California
  • Many Mansions, California
  • MidPen Housing, California
  • Palm Communities, California
  • People’s Self Help Housing, California
  • San Diego Youth Services, California
  • The Chicago Housing Authority, Illinois 

New Partners Join DOE’s Clean Energy for Low Income Communities Accelerator.  The Clean Energy for Low Income Communities Accelerator aims to lower energy bills in low income communities through expanded installation of energy efficiency and distributed renewables. Low income households spend an average of 15 to 20 percent of their income on energy bills, whereas energy burdens above 6 percent are typically considered unaffordable. This Acceleratorencourages the development of partnerships and replicable models and will work to identify funding options that a state-level agency, local government, or utility program could use to provide energy efficiency and renewable energy access to communities that need them most. Today, 13 new partners are announcing their participation, building on the 24 founding partners:

  • BlocPower
  • District of Columbia
  • Holland, MI
  • Orlando, FL;
  • Hawkeye Area Community Action Program (HACAP), Iowa
  • Couleecap Community Action Agency, Wisconsin
  • Community Action Program of Evansville and Vanderburgh County
  • EEtility
  • New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)
  • State of Missouri
  • Opportunity Council
  • State of Washington
  • Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)

More than 90 member-owned, not-for-profit rural electric cooperativesin 16 states across the country are committing to install community solar projects by the end of 2017.  This builds on the nearly 60 co-ops in 25 states that have already brought online community solar projects in the last year. In fact, today, Pedernales Electric Cooperative is announcing a commitment to deploy up to 15 megawatts of community solar throughout its service territory, with construction beginning in late 2016.

Banc of California is announcing a $100 million investment in a new tax equity fund financing residential solar systems primarily to low- and moderate- income consumers and communities in California with a goal of expanding the investment to over $1 billion within 5 years. Historically, low- and moderate- income residents have not been able to obtain financing for solar systems thus this new fund will expand solar to these underserved communities lowering household electricity costs and making housing more affordable.

Google is expanding its solar mapping technology, Project Sunroof, to Washington, D.C. today, making it easier for anyone to understand and access solar power on their rooftop. Sunlight striking the earth’s surface in just one hour delivers enough energy to power the world economy for an entire year, yet only 1 percent of the U.S. energy comes from solar. Project Sunroof, an online solar assessment tool, leverages the 3D rooftop geometry data behind Google Earth to calculate the solar potential and financial benefits of solar power for 43 million American buildings across 42 states. This technology is intended to increase access to solar for all Americans. Sunroof is expanding to Washington, D.C. because Google sees great potential for residential rooftop solar: tens of thousands of D.C. rooftops have the potential to see a positive payback with solar and if only 20 percent of D.C. rooftops were to collectively switch to solar, this could unlock a total of $56 million in electricity savings over 20 years. In addition, Google’s Project Sunroof is starting to work with organizations such as HUD to explore applications of Sunroof technology for low-income and multi-family housing occupants, who could benefit from the cost-saving and efficiency of solar energy for residential use.