Tar Sands in the Atlantic-Company Behind Keystone XL is Back

This is a guest post was written by Joshua Axelrod, Policy Analyst for the Canada Project of Natural Resources Defense Council, and originally ran on July 26th on the NRDC blog here.

In November 2015, President Obama announced the rejection of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The announcement ended a six year fight between environmentalists, Alberta’s oil industry, and pro-oil lawmakers that brought the spotlight onto tar sands oil and the threat it poses to our shared climate and environment. For TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL proposal, the pipeline’s rejection was a blow. But now they’re back with an even bigger, even riskier proposal that could threaten more people and more resources than even the Keystone XL behemoth would have.

TransCanada’s latest scheme—known as the Energy East pipeline—is 35% larger than Keystone XL and is designed to carry up to 1.1 million barrels per day of tar sands oil from Northern Alberta to refineries in Quebec and a seaport in Saint John, New Brunswick. From there, nearly 300 oil supertankers would be loaded every year for transit along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts in order to reach refineries in Louisiana and Texas. And while the concept of Energy East has been around since at least 2013, TransCanada did not submit its full project application to Canadian regulators until nearly the same moment it sued the U.S. government for $15 billion under NAFTA for prospective damages related to the Keystone XL rejection. Read more…

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National Park Service Performs Major Disservice for Anti-Wind Power Activists

National Park Service Sound Levels United States Map

National Park Service Sound Levels United States Map

The National Park Service just did a major disservice to anti-wind energy activists.

NPS recently published a new map showing the estimated sound levels for the entire country. NPS developed the map as part of its efforts to protect natural sounds for both ecosystem health, as well as visitor experience. Overall, NPS’s map shows that significant portions of the country fall within 40-45 decibel sound levels.

That’s bad news for anti-wind energy activists.

Local and even state-level wind energy regulations have been enacted regarding wind farm sound levels. Anti-wind energy activists have repeatedly used sound level regulations as a means to halt wind farm development. For example, a bill was introduced in North Carolina that would have prohibited wind farms that “create an ambient noise measurement exceeding 35 decibels”.  That sound level is lower than the wind itself, or a bird chirping.  Read more…

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Where the 2016 Candidates Stand on Energy Issues: Donald Trump

This post is the first in a series of blogs examining where 2016 candidates for President or Governor of North Carolina stand on key energy issues.  SACE Staffer Angela Garrone co-authored this blog post. Note: The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy does not support or oppose candidates or political parties. Links to reports, candidate websites and outside sources are provided as citizen education tools. 

As the Republican National Convention wrapped up in Cleveland last night, Donald Trump officially became the Republican party’s nominee for President of the United States. Since the moment Mr. Trump announced his candidacy, a hurricane-like media storm surrounding his campaign made it difficult to determine what policy changes, if any, Mr. Trump would support as President. While this blog is not meant to be a comprehensive assessment of Mr. Trump’s stance on energy policies, we hope it provides a general overview for evaluating where Mr. Trump may stand on issues of interest to energy-focused voters: coal, climate change, renewables, efficiency, natural gas, nuclear and drilling.

In May, Mr. Trump outlined his “America First Energy Plan,” noting that “we can pursue all forms of energy” to make the United States energy independent and that “America’s incredible energy potential remains untapped.” While his energy plan has not resulted in a coherent energy policy platform, Mr. Trump urges voters to “believe me” in his promises that his proposal ”will make America Wealthy Again” through these key actions:

  • We’re going to rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions including the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule.
  • We’re going to save the coal industry and other industries threatened by Hillary Clinton’s extremist agenda.
  • I’m going to ask Trans Canada to renew its permit application for the Keystone Pipeline.
  • We’re going to lift moratoriums on energy production in federal areas.
  • We’re going to revoke policies that impose unwarranted restrictions on new drilling technologies. These technologies create millions of jobs with a smaller footprint than ever before.
  • We’re going to 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. We 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. Read more…

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Green Spirit Awards: Windy Category

This is the sixth post in our Green Spirit Awards monthly blog series, highlighting breweries, wineries and distilleries in the Southeast using clean energy to create tasty, sustainable beverages. You can read the other blogs in this series by clicking here. Cheers! 

Wind-powered libations are greatly changing the meaning of the phrase “Drink Responsibly.” Businesses are recognizing the importance of producing products with a low carbon footprint. By installing wind turbines, companies are lowering energy consumption and lowering their power bills. Below are a few wineries, breweries, and distilleries that are taking advantage of wind power:

Credit: Outer Banks Brewing Station

Outer Banks Brewing Station:

Kill Devil Hills, NC –  In North Carolina, the Outer Banks Brewing Station in Kill Devil Hills was the first wind-powered brewery in the United States, providing a unique attraction for the town. Built in 2008, this wind turbine saves the brewing station $150-$250 per month on their electric bill and will offset approximately 1.2 tons of air pollutants and 250 tons of greenhouse gases over its operating life. Additionally, the restaurant hopes to provide educational benefits for the customers and the community. Inside the restaurant, customers can view information on the turbine and the amount of energy it generates. On top of the turbine there is a weather station that contains research equipment that sends data to multiple North Carolina universities.

Read more…

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Good ideas trump partisanship

This is a guest blog written by Greg Alvarez with the American Wind Energy Association. The original post can be viewed here.

It seems if an idea makes sense, political persuasion isn’t all that important.

Just a few days ago, we reported that increasing numbers of Republicans support wind power. Now, two new studies quantify just how much that support has grown in recent years.

Lazard Ltd., a financial advisory and asset management firm, just released a survey showing strong support for renewable energy from voters on both sides of the aisle. The change in attitudes among self-described conservatives is particularly striking.

Today, only 18 percent of conservatives think that transitioning toward a clean energy economy isn’t important. In 2012, that number was 46 percent. Likewise, 52 percent of conservatives elevate this to an issue of “most concern,” up 17 points from when the survey was last conducted four years ago.

And conservatives increasingly support legislative action to help this transition happen. 58 percent of those surveyed support legislative initiatives that would require companies to generate some of their electricity from renewable sources. That’s almost 20 percent higher than 2012.

Read more…

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Where Are They Now: Joshua Galperin

This blog was written by SACE’s Communications Intern, Kailie Melchior. It is the third post in a series that interviews former SACE employees or partners and highlights where they are now in their careers. To follow this series and read other interviews, click here.

What was your position at SACE, and what did that entail?

I was a policy analyst and research attorney. When Steve hired me he asked what title I would like to have, so I’m pretty confident that I was the first “policy analyst and research attorney” in SACE history!

I had the opportunity to work on a number of different projects, but the vast majority of my responsibility was to launch and run the coal plant retirement campaign. For years Steve had been thinking about the age and vulnerability of the TVA coal fleet, so when I came aboard I started to really dig in to that. I looked at the technical, economic, and environmental issues that could help us prioritize plants for retirement. That meant looking at the plants that were least valuable to TVA, but also thinking about which had the most legal vulnerability from, for example, environmental violations like irresponsible coal ash disposal. We combined that analysis with legal, grassroots, and direct negotiating campaigns, and we were very lucky that our efforts had a big impact on TVA’s Clean Air Act Settlement in April 2014. That settlement called for retirement of a significant portion of the coal fleet, and mimicked the case that we had been making for which plants should retire. After getting a hang of the process in the TVA territory, we carried out similar efforts in the rest of the Southeast, and just as I was leaving we began a particularly interesting and diverse collaborative campaign in Alabama.

Read more…

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Guest Post: 9 facts about solar in the Southeast

This is guest post originally written by Kathie Zipp with Solar Power World. The original post can be viewed here. Slides and content were taken from a presentation given at the 2016 Intersolar North America conference by SACE staffer Alissa Jean Schafer.

The Southeastern states are known to be sunny, but due to many factors, including lack of solar plans and policies, they lag behind the solar development of the Northeast. Solar communications and policy manager at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) Alissa Jean Schafer, spoke on this “Wild West” part of the solar market at Intersolar NA 2016. Here are a few facts that summarize the information she shared in her presentation.

1. Policies and planning are important. North Carolina is the only Southeastern state with an RPS. Schafer calls it the “star of the Southeast,” because even though Florida gets more sun, North Carolina ranks third in installed solar capacity. This demonstrates how important deliberate action and the state regulatory environment are to solar.

 

 

Read more…

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Guest Post: FPL Sued Over Turkey Point Crisis By Environmental Groups In Federal Clean Water Act Lawsuit

This is a guest post written by Alan Farago with Friends of the Everglades, who has joined SACE and Tropical Audubon in filing a federal Clean Water Act lawsuit against Florida Power and Light. The original post can be viewed here.

Last week environmental groups — Southern Alliance For Clean Energy, Tropical Audubon Society, and Friends of the Everglades — filed a Clean Water Act lawsuit against FPL in federal court. The company responded predictably, calling the lawsuit a “publicity stunt.”

In fact, fresh water resources belonging to the people of Florida are being drained from the Biscayne aquifer in emergency steps to cool FPL’s nuclear reactors. FPL claims it will spend $50 million this year to remediate the problem, but the steps it proposes are speculative, risky, and unproven.A lot of ratepayer money goes into newspaper and television ads painting Florida Power and Light as a good citizen. In contrast, FPL has been covering up escalating problems in the operation of two aged nuclear reactors for many years; specifically, its open cooling canal system — a massive loop of unlined canals dug into coral bedrock. The state should have required the corporation to make costly changes to Turkey Point’s operation long ago.Miami-Dade elected officials, county commissioners and mayor, could have rejected local zoning changes until FPL was forthcoming on science and data about its pollution to the east and west of its boundaries. Never happened.The problems extend beyond the boundaries of FPL Turkey Point. An additional 20,000 acres of lands adjacent to FPL Turkey Point should be filtering clean, fresh water to restore the Everglades ecosystem and Biscayne National Park. This area, called the Model Lands, is being desert-ified by FPL cooling needs for the nuclear reactors.FPL has played outside the lines of its binding legal commitments to protect our waters, including a national park, critical to South Florida. For years, the westward march of aquifer contamination has been traced by the radioactive isotope, tritium. FPL lobbyists obstructed, blocked, and frustrated all efforts to hold the company accountable. Now, the eastward migration of a contamination plume is also being traced as though it was “new information.”
Read more…

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Where Are They Now: Odette Mucha

This blog was written by SACE’s Communications Intern, Kailie Melchior. It is the second post in a series that interviews former SACE employees or partners and highlights where they are now in their careers. To follow this series and read other interviews, click here.

What is your connection with SACE?

I never actually worked as an employee for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. However, I did work with Green Corps, which is a one year training program in environmental organizing. They train you on how to run grassroots campaigns. I spent four months in Knoxville, and thankfully Steve Smith, SACE’s Executive Director, let me and my partner have a desk at the SACE Knoxville office. We worked on a project with a group called Clear The Air, gathering support for climate legislation. We organized events all across Tennessee.

What is your current position, and what do you work on?

It has been about 10 years since my work with Greencorps. After that, I worked in several environment and energy related jobs. I worked for the Sierra Club, and then went back to graduate school to study international clean energy policy.

I’ve now worked for the Federal government for 6 years.  I’m currently at the US Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Tech Office, or the SunShot Initiative. We work to make solar faster, cheaper and more accessible.

What do the next five years hold for environmental policy?

The Sunshot Initiative’s goal is to bring the cost of solar power down to the cost of traditional power sources by 2020. Solar is going to be very affordable in the next five years. There are a lot of innovative technologies moving forward regarding transportation and energy. I think we’ll see continued exponential growth in solar every year.

Read more…

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Southeast Green Interview: Dr. Stephen A. Smith talks Solar Wars in Florida

This interview originally ran on Southeast Green’s website and is accessible here.

The Sun Shines in Florida, so Why so Little Solar?

Southeast Green’s Beth Bond recently talked with Southern energy expert Stephen A. Smith, DVM who is the Executive Director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE). Dr. Stephen A. Smith has 30 years of experience effecting change for the environment and has been leading SACE since 1993. SACE is a not-for-profit working to promote responsible energy choices that create global climate change solutions and ensure clean, safe and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. SACE has grown to be a premier voice for energy efficiency and renewable energy issues in the region.

SACE is very involved in promoting good solar policy in Florida. Hear a re-cap of this effort below:

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