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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.)
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.”
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.
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 ANNOUNCESNEW ACTIONS TO BRING CLEAN ENERGY SAVINGSTO 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.
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 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 consistentlyfoughtagainst opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
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.
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
Meanwhile, here is the Fact Sheet presented by the White House on “clean Energy Savings for All Americans” Initiative.
(ClickHEREto 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 ENERGYBILLS
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 Networkwill 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 ENERGYAND 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 Alternativeswith 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.
Nexampannounces 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-volvannounces 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 Ingenuityannounces 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’sRenew300Goal 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:
District of Columbia
Hawkeye Area Community Action Program (HACAP), Iowa
Couleecap Community Action Agency, Wisconsin
Community Action Program of Evansville and Vanderburgh County
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)
State of Missouri
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.
Ahead of the April 19 New York State Primary, the gloves came off between the two contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, former Secretary of State and New York Senator Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, at what is being called “The Brooklyn Brawl” – the Democratic Debate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
The confrontation was the most contentious to date, but still substantive with both candidates making strong arguments on major issues.
Here are annotated highlights from the “Brooklyn Brawl” – the debate between Democratic contenders for the nomination for president, former Secretary of State and New York State Senator Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, based on a transcript provided by CNN, the news organization that hosted the debate, April 14.
In this section, the candidates discuss climate change, energy and the environment:
Climate Change, Energy & the Environment
In yet another question framed around a Sanders attack, Blitzer asks, “Secretary Clinton, Senator Sanders has said you are in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry. You say you’re sick and tired of him lying about your record. What are his lies?”
CLINTON: Well, let me start by saying we need to talk about this issue and we should talk about it in terms of the extraordinary threats that climate change pose to our country and our world. And that’s why for the last many years, both in the Senate and as secretary of State, it’s been a big part of my commitment to see what could be done.
“But there has never been any doubt that when I was a senator, I tried — I joined with others to try to get rid of the subsidies for big oil. And I have proposed that again, because that’s what I think needs to be done as we transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. And everyone who’s looked at this independently, “The Washington Post” and others, who give us both hard times when called for on facts, have said that this is absolutely an incorrect false charge.
“So, we both have relatively small amounts of contributions from people who work for fossil fuel companies. Best we can tell from the reports that are done. But, that is not being supported by big oil, and I think it’s important to distinguish that. And, let’s talk about what each of us has proposed to try to combat greenhouse gas emissions and put us on the fastest track possible to clean energy.”
SANDERS: Now, what I think is when we look at climate change now, we have got to realize that this is a global environmental crisis of unprecedented urgency. (APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)
“And, it is not good enough. You know, if we, God forbid, were attacked tomorrow the whole country would rise up and say we got an enemy out there and we got to do something about it. That was what 9/11 was about.
“We have an enemy out there, and that enemy is going to cause drought and floods and extreme weather disturbances. There’s going to be international conflict. (APPLAUSE) I am proud, Wolf, that I have introduced the most comprehensive climate change legislation including a tax on carbon. Something I don’t believe Secretary Clinton supports.”
CLINTON: Well, let’s talk about the global environmental crisis. Starting in 2009 as your Secretary of State, I worked with President Obama to bring China and India to the table for the very first time, to get a commitment out of them that they would begin to address their own greenhouse gas emissions. (APPLAUSE)
“I continued to work on that throughout the four years as Secretary of State, and I was very proud that President Obama and America led the way to the agreement that was finally reached in Paris with 195 nations committing to take steps to actually make a difference in climate change. (APPLAUSE)
“And, I was surprised and disappointed when Senator Sanders attacked the agreement, said it was not enough, it didn’t go far enough. You know, at some point putting together 195 countries, I know a little bit about that, was a major accomplishment (APPLAUSE CHEERING) and, our President led the effort to protect our world and he deserve our appreciation, not our criticism.”
SANDERS: Let’s talk about that. When you were Secretary of State, you also worked hard to expand fracking to countries all over the world. (CHEERING)
“The issue here — of course the agreement is a step forward, but you know agreements and I know agreements, there’s a lot of paper there. We’ve got to get beyond paper right now. We have got to lead the world in transforming our energy system, not tomorrow, but yesterday. (APPLAUSE) And, what that means, Wolf, it means having the guts to take on the fossil fuel industry. Now, I am on board legislation that says, you know what, we ain’t going to excavate for fossil fuel on public land. That’s not Secretary Clinton’s position.
Let us support a tax on carbon.”
CLINTON: Well, I’m a little bewildered about how to respond when you have an agreement which gives you the framework to actually take the action that would have only come about because under the Obama administration in the face of implacable hostility from the Republicans in Congress, President Obama moved forward on gas mileage, he moved forward on the clean power plant. He has moved forward on so many of the fronts that he could given the executive actions that he was able to take. (APPLAUSE)
“And, you know, I am getting a little bit — I’m getting a little bit concerned here because, you know, I really believe that the President has done an incredible job against great odds and deserves to be supported. (APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)
“Now, it’s easy to diagnose the problem. It’s harder to do something about the problem.” (APPLAUSE)
LOUIS: Secretary Clinton, as secretary of state, you also pioneered a program to promote fracking around the world, as you described. Fracking, of course, a way of extracting natural gas. Now as a candidate for president, you say that by the time you’re done with all your rules and regulations, fracking will be restricted in many places around the country. Why have you changed your view on fracking?
CLINTON: No, well, I don’t think I’ve changed my view on what we need to do to go from where we are, where the world is heavily dependent on coal and oil, but principally coal, to where we need to be, which is clean renewable energy, and one of the bridge fuels is natural gas.
“And so for both economic and environmental and strategic reasons, it was American policy to try to help countries get out from under the constant use of coal, building coal plants all the time, also to get out from under, especially if they were in Europe, the pressure from Russia, which has been incredibly intense. So we did say natural gas is a bridge. We want to cross that bridge as quickly as possible, because in order to deal with climate change, we have got to move as rapidly as we can.
“That’s why I’ve set big goals. I want to see us deploy a half a billion more solar panels by the end of my first term and enough clean energy to provide electricity to every home in America within 10 years. (APPLAUSE)
“So I have big, bold goals, but I know in order to get from where we are, where the world is still burning way too much coal, where the world is still too intimidated by countries and providers like Russia, we have got to make a very firm but decisive move in the direction of clean energy.”
SANDERS: This is a difference between understanding that we have a crisis of historical consequence here, and incrementalism and those little steps are not enough. (APPLAUSE)
“Not right now. Not on climate change. Now, the truth is, as secretary of state, Secretary Clinton actively supported fracking technology around the world. Second of all, right now, we have got to tell the fossil fuel industry that their short-term profits are not more important than the future of this planet. (APPLAUSE)
“And that means — and I would ask you to respond. Are you in favor of a tax on carbon so that we can transit away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy at the level and speed we need to do?” (APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: You know, I have laid out a set of actions that build on what President Obama was able to accomplish, building on the clean power plan, which is currently under attack by fossil fuels and the right in the Supreme Court, which is one of the reasons why we need to get the Supreme Court justice that President Obama has nominated to be confirmed so that we can actually continue to make progress.
“I don’t take a back seat to your legislation that you’ve introduced that you haven’t been able to get passed. I want to do what we can do to actually make progress in dealing with the crisis. That’s exactly what I have proposed. And my approach I think is going to get us there faster without tying us up into political knots with a Congress that still would not support what you are proposing.”
LOUIS: I have a question for you, Senator. You’ve said that climate change is the greatest threat to our nation’s security. You’ve called for a nationwide ban on fracking. You’ve also called for phasing out all nuclear power in the U.S. But wouldn’t those proposals drive the country back to coal and oil, and actually undermine your fight against global warming?
SANDERS: No, they wouldn’t. Look, here’s where we are. Let me reiterate. We have a global crisis. Pope Francis reminded us that we are on a suicide course. Our legislation understands, Errol, that there will be economic dislocation. It is absolutely true. There will be some people who lose their job. And we build into our legislation an enormous amount of money to protect those workers. It is not their fault that fossil fuels are destroying our climate. But we have got to stand up and say right now, as we would if we were attacked by some military force, we have got to move urgency — urgently and boldly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jobs are one thing, but with less than 6 percent of all U.S. energy coming from solar, wind and geothermal, and 20 percent of U.S. power coming from nuclear, if you phase out all of that,how do you make up that difference?
SANDERS: Well, you don’t phase it all out tomorrow. And you certainly don’t phase nuclear out tomorrow. What you do do is say that we are going to have a massive program — and I had introduced — introduced legislation for 10 million solar rooftops. We can put probably millions of people to work retrofitting and weatherizing buildings all over this country. (CHEERING) Saving — rebuilding our rail system. (APPLAUSE) Our mass transit system. (APPLAUSE)
“If we approach this, Errol, as if we were literally at a war…that is exactly the kind of approach we need right now.”
The fact that nearly 200 countries–representing nearly the entire population of Earthlings–have signed on to the Paris Climate Agreement, pledging to take climate action is, as President Obama said, “a turning point for the world.”
“Together, we’ve shown what’s possible when the world stands as one,” he said in a statement from the White House, December 12:
“Today, the American people can be proud — because this historic agreement is a tribute to American leadership. Over the past seven years, we’ve transformed the United States into the global leader in fighting climate change. In 2009, we helped salvage a chaotic Copenhagen Summit and established the principle that all countries had a role to play in combating climate change. We then led by example, with historic investments in growing industries like wind and solar, creating a new and steady stream of middle-class jobs. We’ve set the first-ever nationwide standards to limit the amount of carbon pollution power plants can dump into the air our children breathe. From Alaska to the Gulf Coast to the Great Plains, we’ve partnered with local leaders who are working to help their communities protect themselves from some of the most immediate impacts of a changing climate.”
And doing it all while breaking all records for the longest streak of private sector job creation. “We’ve driven our economic output to all-time highs while driving our carbon pollution down to its lowest level in nearly two decades,” Obama said.
Speaking to detractors are both sides – climate activists who said the agreement does not go far enough, and climate deniers who would reject any action at all, he said, “Now, no agreement is perfect, including this one. Negotiations that involve nearly 200 nations are always challenging. Even if all the initial targets set in Paris are met, we’ll only be part of the way there when it comes to reducing carbon from the atmosphere. So we cannot be complacent because of today’s agreement. The problem is not solved because of this accord. But make no mistake, the Paris agreement establishes the enduring framework the world needs to solve the climate crisis. It creates the mechanism, the architecture, for us to continually tackle this problem in an effective way.
“This agreement is ambitious, with every nation setting and committing to their own specific targets, even as we take into account differences among nations. We’ll have a strong system of transparency, including periodic reviews and independent assessments, to help hold every country accountable for meeting its commitments. As technology advances, this agreement allows progress to pave the way for even more ambitious targets over time. And we have secured a broader commitment to support the most vulnerable countries as they pursue cleaner economic growth.
“In short, this agreement will mean less of the carbon pollution that threatens our planet, and more of the jobs and economic growth driven by low-carbon investment. Full implementation of this agreement will help delay or avoid some of the worst consequences of climate change, and will pave the way for even more progress, in successive stages, over the coming years.
“Moreover, this agreement sends a powerful signal that the world is firmly committed to a low-carbon future. And that has the potential to unleash investment and innovation in clean energy at a scale we have never seen before. The targets we’ve set are bold. And by empowering businesses, scientists, engineers, workers, and the private sector — investors — to work together, this agreement represents the best chance we’ve had to save the one planet that we’ve got.
“So I believe this moment can be a turning point for the world. We’ve shown that the world has both the will and the ability to take on this challenge. It won’t be easy. Progress won’t always come quick. “We cannot be complacent. While our generation will see some of the benefits of building a clean energy economy — jobs created and money saved — we may not live to see the full realization of our achievement. But that’s okay. What matters is that today we can be more confident that this planet is going to be in better shape for the next generation. And that’s what I care about…..our work today prevented an alternate future that could have been grim; that our work, here and now, gave future generations cleaner air, and cleaner water, and a more sustainable planet. And what could be more important than that?
“Today, thanks to strong, principled, American leadership, that’s the world that we’ll leave to our children — a world that is safer and more secure, more prosperous, and more free. And that is our most important mission in our short time here on this Earth.
Significantly, the United States, whose Republican rightwingers are the smallest, tiniest minority of 7 billion souls, opted for language – “should” rather than “shall” – in order to bypass the need for Senate ratification of an actual treaty. We’ve seen how treaties, as benign as making America’s standards for disabled people, have been rejected, and the GOP Majority made it clear they would do everything possible – even shutting down the government – to make sure the United States does not do its part. It is notable that the United States represents a mere 5% of the world’s population, but is responsible for 25% of the emissions that are causing climate change. China, the second largest emitter, has four times the population but during the Paris talks, had to issue its first ever Red Alert because air quality was too dangerous due largely to emissions from coal-fired plants.
Without missing a beat, Republican Congressional leaders said they would block whatever action Obama promised, based on the idea that the President “made promises he can’t keep.”
But as Secretary of State John Kerry responded, 195 countries in the world have signed on to this historic agreement, bringing their own strategies and solutions to the table so they are more likely to follow through (much as the Obama Administration allowed states to develop their own Clean Power Plan solutions, and their own Affordable Care Act solutions). Essentially he is saying that the Republicans are on the wrong side of history, or just plain wrong.
This was the genius of Obama’s strategy, going back to forging a historic joint announcement with China last year that “showed it was possible to bridge the old divides between developed and developing nations that had stymied global progress for so long,” the President said. “That accomplishment encouraged dozens and dozens of other nations to set their own ambitious climate targets. And that was the foundation for success in Paris. Because no nation, not even one as powerful as ours, can solve this challenge alone. And no country, no matter how small, can sit on the sidelines. All of us had to solve it together.”
He also has managed to bring along many of the world’s most influential companies (not Koch Industries, of course), and billionaires (not the Koch Brothers, of course, who are spending their billions buying sycophant politicians), who are pledged to invest in climate action strategies including developing clean, renewable energy technologies that will shift our economy from its dependence on burning dirty fossil fuels (that’s what has the Koch brothers really worried).
But now, it is key that the vast majority of us who want climate action push for Congress (that means getting the GOP to stop blocking) to reauthorize the tax credits for renewable energy industries – solar and wind, in particular – to get a foothold. Solar industry is the fastest growing in the US. This is jobs creation. This is giving households more disposable income by bringing down the cost being extorted for fossil fuels (is anyone giving Obama credit for the fact that gas prices are likely to fall below $2 a gallon for the first time since 2007, as they blamed him when gas prices rose to nearly $5?). This is making communities more energy independent.
You would think that Republicans, whose singular economic policy consists of cutting taxes, especially corporate taxes and taxes that go to the wealthy, would be in favor of tax credits to spur a fledgling industry. But this is clean, renewable energy that threatens the profits and the power of the Old Fossils.
Current legislation could extend the renewable energy production tax credit for wind energy that expired a year ago. Environmentalists are also pushing for the extension of the solar investment tax credit which is set to be significantly reduced next year. And for those GOPers who suggest that the federal government “shouldn’t pick winners and losers” – they refuse to rescind the billions of dollars in subsidies that still flow to fossil fuels (or for that matter, the legislative advantages that are given, in terms of licensing and liability), despite the fact these are some of the most profitable companies in the history of humankind. Here’s a compromise: they should condition those subsidies to Exxon-Mobil, etc. on only what they spend to develop and implement clean, renewable fuels (and not natural gas, which is their big new product).
“Subsidies to fossil fuels do not expire. Neither should incentives for clean energy. Clean energy is one of America’s fastest growing industries, creating homegrown, well-paying jobs across the country—but failure to extend these tax credits could seriously set back that progress,” stated Heather Shelby Action Network Manager for Environmental Defense Fund Action.
EDF is urging people to contact Congress and urge they support for:
* An extension of the renewable energy production tax credit for wind and other renewable energy technologies, which expired at the end of 2014.
* An extension of the tax incentives for residential and commercial energy-efficient construction, which expired at the end of 2014.
* An extension of the solar investment tax credit for residential and commercial properties, which will be greatly reduced in 2017.
So what’s in the Paris Agreement? The White House produced a Fact Sheet, breaking it down
FACT SHEET: U.S. Leadership and the Historic Paris Agreement to Combat Climate Change
Today, more than 190 countries came together to adopt the most ambitious climate change agreement in history. The Paris Agreement establishes a long term, durable global framework to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. For the first time, all countries commit to putting forward successive and ambitious, nationally determined climate targets and reporting on their progress towards them using a rigorous, standardized process of review.
The Agreement provides strong assurance to developing countries that they will be supported as they pursue clean and climate resilient growth. The deal builds on the unprecedented participation of 187 countries that submitted post-2020 climate action targets in advance of the meeting, and establishes a framework to ratchet up ambition by driving down global emissions in the decades to come.
This new global framework lays the foundation for countries to work together to put the world on a path to keeping global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius and sets an ambitious vision to go even farther than that. This Agreement sends a strong signal to the private sector that the global economy is moving towards clean energy, and that through innovation and ingenuity, we can achieve our climate objectives while creating new jobs, raising standards of living and lifting millions out of poverty.
The Paris Agreement is also the culmination of a broader effort by nations, businesses, cities, and citizens to reorient the global economy to a path of low-carbon growth – progress that will accelerate as a result of the Agreement’s provisions on mitigation ambition, transparency, and climate finance.
An Ambitious Agreement
The Paris Agreement sets forward an ambitious vision for tackling climate change globally. This includes:
Strengthening long-term ambition:The Agreement sets a goal of keeping warming well below 2 degrees Celsius and for the first time agrees to pursue efforts to limit the increase in temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius. It also acknowledges that in order to meet that target, countries should aim to peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.
Establishing a universal approach for all countries:The Agreement moves beyond dividing the world into outdated categories of developed and developing countries and instead directs all parties to prepare, communicate and maintain successive and ambitious nationally determined climate targets. This approach – where countries set non-binding targets for themselves – paved the way for 187 mitigation contributions this year and will form the basis for a long-term, durable system to ratchet down emissions.
Locking in five year target cycles:Under the Agreement, all countries will communicate their climate targets every five years, starting in 2020. Targets must be submitted 9-12 months before they are finalized, creating time for other countries and civil society to seek clarity about the targets submitted.
Ratcheting up ambition over time:Each target should reflect progress from the prior one, reflecting the highest possible ambition that each country can achieve. This durable, long term framework will drive greater climate ambition as technologies improve and circumstances change.
Rigorous assessment of global climate action:To help inform further domestic and global efforts, the Agreement puts in place a mechanism to assess collective progress on global mitigation action using the best available science. This process will begin in 2018 and occur every five years to help inform countries’ future targets and strategies.
Sending a market signal on innovation and technology:The mitigation components of the Agreement, combined with a broad push on innovation and technology, will help significantly scale up energy investments over the coming years – investments that will accelerate cost reductions for renewable energy and other low-carbon solutions. This set of actions will create a mutually reinforcing cycle in which enhanced mitigation increases investment and enhanced investment allows additional mitigation by driving down costs.
A Transparent and Accountable Agreement
The Paris Agreement establishes a robust transparency system to help make sure that all countries are living up to their commitments. This will send a market signal to the private sector and investors that countries are serious about meeting the targets they have set. These steps include:
Putting in place an enhanced transparency system for all countries:A critical component of the Agreement, the transparency framework agreed to by parties ensures that all countries are on a level playing field with the United States with flexibility for those developing countries with less capacity.
Requiring countries to report on greenhouse gas inventories: For the first time, the Agreement requires all countries to report on national inventories of emissions by source. This breakthrough will give unprecedented clarity to the public’s understanding of emissions and pollution in countries throughout the world.
Requiring countries to report on mitigation progress:Also for the first time, countries are required to report on information necessary to track progress made in implementing and achieving the targets and strategies countries have put forward.
Establishing a technical review process with agreed upon standards:To help ensure countries are meeting transparency requirements, countries are subject to a comprehensive technical expert review process that analyzes whether reporting is in line with the standards adopted. Countries will also engage in a multilateral review with their peers to share their experiences and lessons learned.
An Agreement for a Low-Carbon Future
Tackling climate change will require shifting global investment flows towards clean energy, forest protection, and climate-resilient infrastructure. Developing countries, particularly the most vulnerable, will need support from the global community as they pursue clean and resilient growth. The Paris Agreement makes real progress on this front by:
Providing a strong, long-term market signal that the world is locking in a low-carbon future:The submission of ambitious national targets in five-year cycles gives investors and technology innovators a clear signal that the world will demand clean power plants, energy efficient factories and buildings, and low-carbon transportation not just in the short-term but in the decades to come. This will make it far easier to draw in the largest pools of capital that need long-term certainty in order to invest in clean technologies.
Giving confidence that existing financial commitments will be met:Many developing countries, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable, came to Paris seeking reassurance that a global climate deal is not just about the big emitters but also supports their transition to a low-carbon growth path. In this regard, we are already making strong progress towards meeting the existing goal to mobilize $100 billion from a wide variety of sources, including both public and private, by 2020. The Paris outcome provides further confidence that this goal will be met and that climate finance will continue to flow. For the first time, the Agreement recognizes the reality that countries like China are already joining the base of donor countries contributing to climate finance and encourages developing countries to contribute to climate finance, while reaffirming that the United States and other developed economies should continue to take the lead.
These components of the Agreement build on steps the United States took in Paris to demonstrate its commitment to mobilizing finance from public and private sources for both mitigation and adaptation activities in developing countries. These steps include:
Launching Mission Innovation:On the first day of the conference, President Obama joined other world leaders to launch Mission Innovation, a landmark commitment to accelerate public and private global clean energy innovation, and dramatically expand the new technologies that will define a clean, affordable, and reliable global power mix. Twenty countries representing around 80% of global clean energy research and development (R&D) funding base committed to double their R&D investments over five years. In addition, a coalition of 28 global investors led by Bill Gates committed to support early-stage breakthrough energy technologies in countries that have joined Mission Innovation.
Doubling U.S. grant-based public finance for adaptation by 2020: Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the United States will double its grant-based, public climate finance for adaptation by 2020. As of 2014, the United States invested more than $400 million per year of grant-based resources for climate adaptation in developing countries. These investments provide vulnerable countries with support – through both bilateral and multilateral channels – to reduce climate risks in key areas, including infrastructure, agriculture, health and water services.
An Agreement Complemented by Subnational, Private Sector and Citizen Action
Because the Agreement should serve as a floor for future ambitious climate action, complementary actions outside of the Agreement by sub-national governments, enterprising businesses, investors and entrepreneurs, and an enlightened global public are important complements to the Paris Agreement. As part of these global efforts, Americans have demonstrated their dedication to climate action through a wide variety of commitments.
Compact of Mayors:117 United States mayors have signed onto the Compact of Mayors pledge. The Compact establishes a common platform to capture the impact of cities’ collective actions through standardized measurement of emissions and climate risk, and consistent, public reporting of their efforts.
Under-2 MOU:States including California, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and New York have signed onto the Under-2 MOU. The MOU commits signatories to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80-95% below 1990 levels, share technology and scientific research, expand zero-emission vehicles, improve air quality by reducing short-lived climate pollutants and assess projected impacts of climate change on communities.
American Business Act on Climate Pledge:154 companies have signed the White House’s American Business Act on Climate Pledge. These companies have operations in all 50 states, employ nearly 11 million people, represent more than $4.2 trillion in annual revenue and have a combined market capitalization of over $7 trillion. As part of this initiative, each company expressed support for an ambitious Paris Agreement and announced significant pledges to reduce their emissions, increase low-carbon investments, deploy more clean energy and take other actions to build more sustainable businesses and tackle climate change.
American Campuses Act on Climate Pledge:311 colleges and universities representing over 4 million students have demonstrated their commitment to climate action by joining the American Campuses Act on Climate Pledge.