clean energy

Sat, 2012-01-07 14:38Mike Casey
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Introducing: Deep Accountability

This is the first in a series of occasional posts I’m writing to grow an idea I’m calling “Deep Accountability.”

Currently, fossil fuel industry lobbyists, flacks, allied pundits, and government officials are far too comfortable dismissing concerns about what their pollution does to other people. In their minds, it’s a big country, there’s plenty to use, and pollution is no big deal as long as it creates problems forother people. Permanently contaminate water tables with gas drilling’s fracking fluids? Just cart in water for those other people.

The problem is, we really don’t have a big enough country to trash it like we’ve been doing. In fact, we can’t afford to trash it much more at all. But fossil guys operating with a time horizon of a quarterly earnings report or an election cycle can still nurse the illusion that the status quo is OK. That’s because the effects are still falling on just a few other people. They think anyone who speaks up about the problem must be silly, wimpy, unpatriotic, or not living in “the real world.”

With global pollutions trend lines escalating in the wrong direction, it’s pretty clear that by the time the fossil guys wake up to the realities of what they’re doing to the rest of us, it will very likely be too late to reverse the damage. According to some experts, it might be already.

Simply put, it’s been too easy for the pro-pollution crowd to ignore the realities of what they are advocating. The accountability-free zone needs to end.

Wed, 2011-05-11 16:07Laurel Whitney
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New Coal Cares™ Campaign Targeting Link Between Coal And Asthma Leaves Viewers Breathless

Peabody Energy seemed to have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day yesterday as they started to receive curious phone calls from consumers asking just how many Justin Beiber inhalers they were planning on giving away, and how courageous it was that a coal company was stepping up to acknowledge the role that pollution from their coal plants makes people sick, especially kids with asthma. Alas, the PR team at Peabody was quite confused on both accounts.

Around 9:00 am eastern time, a new “market-friendly public health initiative” hit journalists’ email inboxes announcing the launch of Coal Cares™, a campaign from Peabody Energy that would give away free novelty-themed inhaler actuators and also generously offer a $10-off coupon for the actual asthma medication, but only if you lived within 200 miles of a coal plant (news flash, you probably do).

Fri, 2011-04-15 17:32Laurel Whitney
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Power Shift 2011- Youth Leaders Flock to DC

This weekend in Washington DC, thousands will descend upon the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for Power Shift 2011. A veritable boot camp of movement building, it will bring together the leaders of the so-called “youth” movement to converge on finding solutions to effectively fight climate change, ensure a clean energy future, and finally displace the entrenched dirty energy industries.

The jam-packed agenda includes keynote addresses from Al Gore, Bill McKibben, and EPA administrator Lisa Jackson along with a plethora of workshops, meetings, and trainings planned from morning until night each day of the conference, culminating in a day of action on Monday the 18th in which attendees will take direct action against major polluters and also participate in citizen visits to Congressional offices.

With climate threats posed by hydrofracking and unconventional gas production booming across the US, the Canadian tar sands  and dangerous proposed pipelines, and the coal and oil industries stubbornly fighting to keep their dirty energy subsidies, we definitely have our work cut out for us.

Wed, 2011-04-13 17:20Mike Casey
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Gambling when we don’t have to

Two weeks ago, I visited the office of a friend of mine, a partner at a top cleantech Silicon Valley law firm. He and I shared a concern about the increasingly hostile, anti-clean energy propaganda from dirty energy-funded critics who are trying to position clean energy as expensive, subsidy-dependent, and “not ready.” The good news, my friend said, was that he’s increasingly hearing from cleantech executives and investors concerned about these growing attacks on their investments. The bad news was that many of those concerned don’t connect the attacks with the dirty energy money that’s funding them.

Now what cleantech needs to hear is, ‘No more Mr. Nice Guy’,” he told me. “These [dirty energy] guys are out to kick our butts, and they will if we let them.”

I think my friend is right. However, after attending last week’s Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit, I think there’s a ways to go before enough cleantech players see that dirty energy is using media and government to protect its capital investments and decades-long feeding at the public trough.

Sun, 2011-02-06 02:48Mike Casey
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How the Other Guys Play

Americans want deficits cut , and there is a new set of leaders in Congress who committed themselves last year to cutting wasteful government spending. And, while over 70 percent of Americans are unaware how much of their money is given in welfare checks to highly profitable dirty energy companies, when they find out, only 8 percent want it to stay that way.

After President Obama’s State of the Union address calling for a modest cut of just $4 billion in welfare for oil companies, the focus on this insanely wasteful spending has intensified. It’s the right proposal, but one that will encounter very stiff resistance for entrenched interests that still very much enjoy their century-long stay in the government incubator of tax breaks, subsidies, cheap access to public property, forgiveness for wrecking that property, and little meaningful oversight.

Tue, 2011-01-25 16:32Emma Pullman
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Industry Groups Fight Dirty Against Oscar-Nominated Hydraulic Fracturing Documentary "Gasland"

In the United States and beyond, governments are praising the “clean, plentiful fuel” that is natural gas, and tout it as a viable alternative to oil and coal.  According to Abrahm Lustgarten at ProPublica, its advocates are calling natural gas a step toward a greener energy future due to the fact, they assert, that natural gas produces 50 percent less greenhouse gases than coal. 

Josh Fox’s critically-acclaimed documentary Gasland tells quite a different story about the natural gas industry and its extraction process, called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.  As he journeys across the United States, he discovers the devastating environmental and health impacts of humans and animals in close proximity to gas wells, and realizes that the so-called “Saudi Arabia of natural gas” is causing more pain than it is worth.

After the release of Fox’s documentary, an oil and gas lobby group calling itself “Energy In-Depth” launched a public relations offensive against the film (apparently they didn’t like the footage of people lighting their tap water on fire).  As it turns out, the website of the lobby group was registered to a Washington, DC public relations firm called FD Americas Public Affairs (formerly FD Dittus Communications) whose clients included oil and gas lobby groups including the American Energy Alliance, run by former Republican staffers Eric Creighton, Kevin Kennedy and Laura Henderson.

Today, when Fox’s documentary was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary feature, a major energy trade association weighed in on Gasland’s nomination.  The industry group, the America’s Natural Gas Alliance argues on its website that “for our nation’s economy” we must make greater use of the “Saudi Arabia of Natural Gas” for the sake of the environment and economy.

Mon, 2011-01-24 10:41Chris Mooney
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Will the State of the Union Address the State of the Planet?

It’s freezing out in the northeast—and to hear some pundits and strategists tell it, global warming may be largely frozen out of President Obama’s pending State of the Union address.

In other words, if waiting for the president to say “climate change” is your drinking game strategy for tomorrow night, you may wind up painfully sober by the end of the speech.

As Joe Romm notes, even those pre-speech analysts who do intimately understand the climate issue (and most do not) want the president to talk about energy innovation, not how much of a risk we’re running from ongoing warming. And at a time when the unswerving focus is the economy and jobs, and the president has just named the CEO of a clean energy company, General Electric, to head his new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, you have to figure they’re on to something.

After all, even in the last State of the Union Obama only mentioned climate change twice. And he only did so to quickly reframe it as a clean energy issue:

Thu, 2011-01-13 09:58Mike Casey
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Job for the New Congress: Read the Latest Review of Wasteful Welfare for Dirty Energy

The new Congress roared into Washington this week with what it sees as a mandate to cut government spending. Required reading for all its new members should be Washington Monthly’s excellent new piece, “Get the Energy Sector off the Dole.” And, if you work in, invest in, or support scaling the clean economy, this important piece is worth your time to read as well.

America’s clean energy advancements are under a concerted propaganda and lobbying attack, underwritten by the dirty energy lobby, which wants Americans to think that clean energy is too “expensive,” or “dependent on subsidies.” Cleantech needs your help to get the laugh track going on such claims, and this article can equip with you the foundation for doing that.

Fri, 2010-12-10 11:10Bill Hewitt
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PART TWO: The Paradox of Canada’s Tar Sands and America’s Drive to Substantially Decarbonize Energy

(Cont’d from Part 1) As far as the credibility of the U.S. and Canada in international climate negotiations, the Sierra Club’s Kate Colarulli thinks that continued tar sands oil production and consumption hurts both countries badly.  Canada’s reputation is particularly poor in this context.

Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, the director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s International Program, feels the same way.  Canada, in her view, has been completely discredited at the table as a direct consequence of the tar sands.

In Cancún, Canada has been an extremely visible target because of the tar sands.  Protesters there have made the salient point that Canada is dragging its feet on robust greenhouse gas reduction targets because of their desire to continue and radically expand the tar sands extraction.

Canada was also being tarred in Cancún – pun intended – by being the recipient of three “Fossil of the Day” awards, as voted by over 400 international organizations.  Canada was similarly dishonored at the Copenhagen Conference of the Parties for “…years of delay, obstruction and total inaction.”

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