Author Archives: Helen Deffenbacher

Midlands Voices: Creighton president among Catholic institutions to sign climate declaration


By president of Creighton University
Omaha World-Herald

Days before I began my presidency at Creighton University, on June 18, 2015, Pope Francis released his groundbreaking encyclical on ecology. In Laudato Si’ he affirmed nearly 30 years of Catholic teaching that human-caused climate change is an urgent moral issue which damages the earth, threatens human life and dignity and unjustly burdens the poor.

To celebrate the third anniversary of Laudato Si’, I am proud to join 600 other U.S. Catholic educators and leaders as a signatory to the Catholic Climate Declaration. The declaration calls on President Donald Trump to remain in the Paris climate agreement and announces that the U.S. Catholic community is “still in” on actions to meet the goals of the agreement. Read more here.

Photo: Creighton University

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

  • Nearly 600 institutions back Catholic Climate Declaration, National Catholic Reporter
    The covenant’s Climate Energies program has lined up nearly $10 million in projects to help dioceses, parishes and Catholic organizations install energy-efficient and renewable energy projects. Jesuit Fr. Daniel Hendrickson, president of Creighton University, told reporters June 18 that the Omaha, Nebraska-based school has decreased its greenhouse gas emissions from electricity by nearly 25 percent, a savings of $2 million, and remains committed to its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
  • Download Laudato Si’  here.
  • The Pope Is Not Alone!, NRDC Archived Post
  • Religious Statements on Climate Change, Interfaith Power & Light

We Are Still In Website
Mayors, county executives, governors, tribal leaders, college and university leaders, businesses, faith groups, and investors are joining forces  to continue to support climate action to meet the Paris Agreement.

NEBRASKA STATE CLIMATE OFFICE

  • The Nebraska State Climate Office (NSCO) is an organization dedicated to delivering science-based climate services at the local and state level. NSCO’s focus is on weather and climate monitoring, climate services, and stakeholder engagement. NSCO’s office includes operation of the Nebraska Mesonet, a state-wide weather observation network with nearly 70 locations across Nebraska that assess local conditions.

NSCO’s Links to More Information

New York backs plan to put solar panels on rooftops, parking lots

By Thomas C. Zambito, The Journal News / LoHud

“By incentivizing solar development on landfills, brownfield sites, rooftops and parking lots, and at affordable housing facilities, developers will be encouraged to install solar in locations that are most appropriate and do not already have a higher and better use,” said Manna Jo Greene, Clearwater’s environmental director. “Solar in these areas also promotes resiliency, if storage is incorporated to create 24-hour reliability.” Greene said by including affordable housing in the mix, the program will allow those who otherwise couldn’t afford solar power reap its benefits while creating green jobs in their neighborhoods. Read more here.

Photo: Telesis Inc’s net zero energy complex in Lincoln, Nebraska’s Haymarket. Credit: J-Tech Solar

Seven U.S. cities to power municipal operations with renewables

In this op-ed for pv magazine, Will Driscoll outlines the plans of several large U.S. cities
to power government buildings entirely with renewable energy.

Chicago, which has committed to power its 900 municipal buildings with 100 percent renewable electricity by 2025, has joined a seven-city collaboration to request price estimates for renewable electricity. The collaboration, led by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, also includes Los Angeles, Houston, Portland, OR, Orlando, FL, and Evanston, IL. The cities expect to issue a single request for information (RFI) to renewable developers later this summer. Mayor Walsh, who co-chairs the Climate Mayors network of more than 400 cities, has invited other cities to join in the RFI by submitting their “energy demand data.”  Click here to read more.

Climate Mayors Website

Will Driscoll, MPA, JD, is an energy and environmental policy analyst who has worked primarily for the U.S. EPA via the contractor ICF Consulting. His recent work is at SaveTheClimate.us.

MORE U.S. NEWS

GLOBAL NEWS

Is India’s 225 GW renewables target achievable?

Fort Calhoun area will be home to OPPD’s first community solar array

By Aaron Sanderford, Omaha World-Herald

The Fort Calhoun area, home to a nuclear power plant that is being shuttered, is poised for another role producing power in eastern Nebraska. The Omaha Public Power District and its private partner, NextEra Energy Resources, chose a city-owned field just east of Fort Calhoun to host OPPD’s first community solar power array. NextEra is building the 35-acre,  5-megawatt solar array there and has contracted to sell OPPD the power it produces for at least 20 years.
Continue here to learn more.

Photo: Lincoln Electric System’s 5-megawatt community solar facility was Nebraska’s first utility-scale solar installation. The solar farm is located on a portion of a 46-acre site near Northwest 75th and Holdrege Streets.

Solar energy deserves a place on public lands: Prioritizing oil and gas over renewables ignores market forces and climate concerns

Opinion written by Rose McKinney-James, High Country News

Rose McKinney-James is a contributor to Writers on the Range, the opinion service of High Country News. She is the managing principal of Energy Works LLC, a public policy and advocacy firm based in Las Vegas, Nevada, and is also board chair for the American Association for Blacks in Energy.

When the Trump administration initiated an “energy dominance” agenda one year ago, it did so under the premise that removing barriers to oil and gas development on public lands would “bring true prosperity and wealth to our people.” It was an empty promise.

In reality, this approach opened the doors to increased pollution, greater restrictions on access to public lands and damage to vital wildlife habitat. What benefited was the bottom line of a few private oil and gas companies. The emphasis on developing oil and gas on public lands also reduced opportunities for developing clean energy resources. Read more here.

About the American Association for Blacks in Energy (AABE)

The purposes of AABE are the following:

  • To serve as a resource for policy discussion of the economic, social and political impact of environmental and energy policies on African Americans and other minorities.
  • To ensure involvement of African Americans in governmental energy policymaking by recommending capable sensitive and informed personnel to appropriate officials.
  • To encourage both the public and private sectors to be responsive to the problems, goals and aspirations of African Americans in energy-related fields.
  • To encourage African American students to pursue careers in energy-related fields and to provide scholarships and other financial aid for such students.

AABE: www.aabe.org

Install Inequality: Nearly half of U.S. residential rooftop solar potential is currently out of reach

By Chris Crowell, Solar Builder Magazine

One of the largest barriers to solar adoption on a wide scale is the wealth gap, and it will require more problem-solving than a mandate to overcome it. A new report released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) shows that nearly half (42 percent) of all the United States’ residential rooftop solar technical potential (see pg. 15 for definition) is on the dwellings of low-to-moderate income (LMI) households, representing 330 GW of potential solar capacity — a number the researchers admitted was much higher than they expected at the outset.

“Understanding the potential size of the LMI market in detail offers new insights and opportunities to serve these communities,” said David Mooney, executive director, Institutional Planning, Integration and Development for NREL. “The potential electric bill savings from the adoption of rooftop solar would have a greater material impact on low-income households compared to their high-income counterparts.” Read more here.

NREL Photo: PV installed on low-income housing development in Denver, Colorado

RELATED SOLAR BUILDER MAGAZINE ARTICLE
Solar for All: How to incentivize community solar projects to benefit low-, middle-income customers

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ALSO IN THE NEWS

Climate Change: In Midlands, warming means coping with extremes

By Nancy Gaarder, Omaha World-Herald

And the warming is continuing to accelerate. Federal researchers calculate that –- absent reductions in greenhouses gases –- the Great Plains and Midwest have a realistic change of averaging 5 degrees warmer by midcentury, and 9 degrees warmer by the end of the century,

The changes that are occurring are unprecedented, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln concludes in a 2014 analysis of climate change –- and the most authoritative study to date at a statewide level. The effects of warming are reaching into every corner of life, from the farm to the garden, from the doctor’s office to the jogging track, according to those interviewed by The World-Herald and the Associated Press. Read more here. Digital subscription required.

Pixabay Photo

The Nebraska State Climate Office (NSCO) is an organization dedicated to delivering science-based climate services at the local and state level. NSCO’s focus is on weather and climate monitoring, climate services, and stakeholder engagement. NSCO’s office includes operation of the Nebraska Mesonet, a state-wide weather observation network with nearly 70 locations across Nebraska that assess local conditions.

NSCO’s Links to More Information

Saving the monarch of the prairie

By Jason Kuiper and Joe Comstock, The Wire, OPPD Blog
June 18 is National Pollinator Week

In April and May, groups of volunteers from OPPD helped spread seed mix at a “Prairie in Progress” site being restored near the utility’s Nebraska City Station (NCS). At the OPPD Arboretum in the heart of Omaha, 2,000 pollinator plant plugs were also installed for a pollinator garden. OPPD is also restoring parcels of land at the decommissioning Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station (FCS). Along with habitat being planted at NCS and the plugs at the OPPD Arboretum, others restorations are planned on OPPD-owned land near 142nd and State streets and an additional 70-acres of prairie land at FCS. In all, OPPD plans on converting 260 acres into natural butterfly habitat but will continue looking at other locations that could also be converted into prairie beyond what has already been identified. The project is a joint effort between OPPD’s Environmental Affairs and Facilities Operation & Maintenance departments and the Save Our Monarchs Foundation. Read the entire article here.

Save Our Monarchs Foundation

Creative Commons Stock Photo

Nine ways to make a difference on climate change

Omaha World-Herald Press Services

Carbon dioxide is the climate’s worst enemy, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. It’s released when oil, coal and other fossil fuels are burned for energy — the energy we use to power our homes, cars and smartphones. By using less of it, we can curb our own contribution to climate change while also saving money. Continue here to read about ways you can make a difference.

Also published in today’s Omaha World-Herald

Additional recommended reading:

  • Nearly 600 institutions back Catholic Climate Declaration, National Catholic Reporter
    The covenant’s Climate Energies program has lined up nearly $10 million in projects to help dioceses, parishes and Catholic organizations install energy-efficient and renewable energy projects. Jesuit Fr. Daniel Hendrickson, president of Creighton University, told reporters June 18 that the Omaha, Nebraska-based school has decreased its greenhouse gas emissions from electricity by nearly 25 percent, a savings of $2 million, and remains committed to its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
  • The Pope Is Not Alone!, NRDC Archived Post
    When it comes to climate change, Pope Francis and many other world religious leaders are cut from the same cloth.
  • Religious Statements on Climate Change, Interfaith Power & Light
    Most religious communities have released statements on Climate Change and the need to care for Creation. The following list (organized alphabetically first by religion, then by denomination) demonstrates the unity within the religious community on these important issues.

Viewpoint: Solar energy preserves farmlands and boosts economic growth

By Gary Haynes, Lansing State Journal

Gary Haynes is a fifth generation Michigan farmer with fields in three counties, including Eaton County, which is considering whether solar panels will be allowed on farmland.

My family has farmed for five generations in mid-Michigan. Today I grow corn, wheat and soybeans in Eaton, Ingham and Jackson Counties. Like anyone in agriculture, I believe farmland should be preserved for the future and that we should do all we can to protect our air, land and water for future generations. In addition, we should seek opportunities to bring new jobs and new investment to rural communities throughout Michigan. Solar energy is one way to fulfill all of those goals. Right now, Eaton County is considering whether solar panels will be allowed on farmland in the county, and for multiple reasons, this is simply the right thing to do. First, solar energy and farmland preservation go hand in hand. Click here to continue reading.

Photo by Rob Davis, Fresh Energy

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

More Than 5,000 US Schools Have Solar Power Installations