clean energy

Under Trump, Watching U.S. Momentum on Clean Energy and Climate Slow But Not Stop

Someone at a rally holding a sign reading 'Trump digs coal'

By Joel Stronberg

I don’t doubt the nation’s transition to a clean energy economy will continue after Donald Trump is inaugurated in January. Economics, a rapidly growing number of companies owning responsibility for their carbon emissions, and ordinary people acting on behalf of future generations underpin the trend towards environmental sustainability.

How far and fast the transition will occur is in part dependent on the actions of the federal government.

These 5 Companies Are Showing Trump, a Climate Denier, the Value of Investing in the Climate

Ben and Jerry's ice cream van

By Brooke Cary

Since reaching the historic Paris climate agreement in 2015, global leaders have stressed the need to make even stronger commitments to limit the impacts of climate change. And while U.S. President-elect Donald Trump is making promises to bring back coal jobs and “unleash” fossil fuel production., U.S. businesses are forging the kind of low-carbon economy envisioned in the Paris Agreement.

Hundreds (yes, hundreds) of U.S. corporations and investors have made their own commitments to uphold the international climate accord.  

Follow the Money Behind Attacks on Clean Energy in Ohio

Welcome to Ohio sign.

By Dave Anderson

Fossil fuel and utility interests have used lobbyists and 2016 campaign contributions to influence state legislators in Ohio, and drive renewed attacks on clean energy policies in the Buckeye State.

State legislators will soon vote on companion bills — SB 320 and HB 554 — that would effectively continue the controversial freeze on Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards until 2020.

There has been no shortage of public support for unfreezing Ohio’s clean energy standards, but behind the scenes, fossil fuel and utility interests have been using money to influence the debate in Columbus. 

Drain the Swamp? Mike McKenna, Head of Trump Energy Team, Began Lobbying Career with Ethics Scandal

Mike McKenna, named to head the U.S. Department of Energy transition team for President-Elect Donald Trump, began his lobbying career in the aftermath of an ethics scandal in Virginia.

Before resigning from the administration of Virginia's then-Governor George Allen in 1997, McKenna was implicated in the authorship and distribution of what the Associated Press called a “dirty tricks” memo written in response to a report published by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC), which had critiqued the Department of Environmental Quality for which McKenna had then served as policy director and spokesman.

McKenna now works as a lobbyist for a firm he founded named MWR Strategies

U.S. Electricity Generation From Renewables Has Broken Records Every Month in 2016

Electricity generation from wind, solar, and other renewable energy technologies have set monthly records every month so far in 2016, based on data through June released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration yesterday.

“Both hydroelectric and nonhydroelectric renewables have contributed to this trend, but in different ways. After a lengthy West Coast drought, hydro generation has increased and is now closer to historical levels. Nonhydro renewable generation continues to increase year-over-year and has exceeded hydro generation in each month since February 2016,” the EIA said in a statement.

California Climate Policies a $48 Billion Boon for State’s Economy, Analysis Finds

A new analysis by a non-partisan business group finds that California’s climate policies have been a boon for the state’s economy.

Assembly Bill 32, also known as AB 32 or the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, requires California to reduce climate-cooking greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 — which meant cutting emissions about 25 percent from where they were at in 2006, when AB 32 was passed by the California State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

According to the analysis from Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2analysis, AB 32 and related climate policies have pumped some $48 billion into the state economy over the past decade while helping create about 500,000 jobs.

CERES Report Reveals Which Electric Utilities Recognize the Clean Energy Future We Need

Electric utilities tend to take a lot of heat for clouding public understanding of climate change and standing in the way of energy resources that won’t cook the planet.

A number of utilities, for instance, have spent hundreds of millions over the past few years lobbying against the Clean Power Plan. Likewise, the Edison Electric Institute, the trade association representing the investor-owned utilities (IOUs) that serve nearly 70-percent of electric customers in the United States, has developed and is executing a multi-million dollar fight against rooftop solar.

It is, of course, unfair to lump all electric utilities together. A couple of recently published reports — including one released Tuesday by Ceres — reveal which investor-owned utilities are climate laggards and clean energy obstructionists, and which are working to transition to the clean, renewable energy future that the atmosphere demands. (Or at least are begrudgingly accepting said transition.)  

The Ceres report looks at actual renewable energy deployment. In Benchmarking Utility Clean Energy Deployment: 2016, the report's authors analyze and rank investor-owned utilities — which serve over two-thirds of American electric customers — for how much clean energy and energy efficiency they deliver to customers.

Renewable Energy Jobs Keep Growing While Fossil Fuel Jobs Keep Shrinking

More than 8.1 million people are now employed by the renewable energy industry worldwide, an increase of five percent over last year, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

The number of renewable energy jobs worldwide went up in 2015 while jobs in the broader energy sector fell. In the United States, for example, renewable energy jobs increased six percent, but employment in oil and gas fell 18 percent.

That’s perhaps not surprising, as renewable energy continues to break records. According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), utility-scale electrical generation from renewable sources like solar and wind hit an all-time high of 16.89 percent of the country’s total electricity generation in the first quarter of 2016. During the same time period in 2015, renewable energy's share of net generation was just 14 percent. Distributed solar photovoltaic and wind energy have also continue to grow quickly, the EIA found.

As Oil and Gas Revenues Drop by 90 Per Cent, Alberta Budget Paves Way For Clean Energy Sector to Emerge

A renewable energy economy may emerge from the heart of Canada’s oil industry thanks to announcements made in Alberta’s provincial budget last week. The budget promises spending $51.5 billion in 2016 despite resource royalties projected to be as low as $1.4 billion, representing a 90 per cent drop.
 
The province pledged $2.2 billion for clean infrastructure, $645 million for energy efficiency and unveiled an expanded carbon levy that the government estimates will generate $3.4 billion for renewable energy development. An additional $195 million has been set aside to help First Nations communities transition off coal and onto cleaner sources of energy.
 
“We’re very proud of our climate leadership plan as a progressive way to bend the curve on carbon,” Finance Minister Joe Ceci said in a press conference Thursday.
 
Sara Hastings-Simon, director of the clean economy program at the Pembina Institute, commended the province’s decision to expand the carbon levy to beyond industrial emitters.
 
“We know it is the most efficient way to reduce emissions in the province,” she said.

Calls For Permanent Closure of Aliso Canyon NatGas Storage Facility As Californians Face Blackouts

Last week, California regulators and Southern California Gas Company, which operates the Aliso Canyon Storage Facility, issued a report warning that a continued shutdown of the facility, the site of the worst methane leak in state history, would lead to blackouts throughout the summer.

The regulators and the company have proposed restarting gas injections into the Aliso Canyon facility in the coming weeks, but Porter Ranch area residents — 1,800 of whom had to be evacuated due to health impacts of the methane leak — are challenging the report’s findings and calling for permanent closure of Aliso Canyon, one of the largest gas storage facilities in the US.

Aliso Canyon has been shut down since January. The leak started in October of last year. Two and a half months later, Governor Jerry Brown finally declared a state of emergency, but it would take SoCalGas, as the company is known, another month and a half to finally stop the leak.

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