Tag Archives: climate action

Ricketts’ order on 30-by-30 conservation effort is short on actual roadblocks

By Martha Stoddard, Omaha World-Herald

LINCOLN — In his battle against the federal government, Gov. Pete Ricketts has directed state agencies to take “any necessary step” to resist a federal initiative to conserve 30% of American land and waters by 2030. He signed the executive order last month, in the leafy shade of the garden at the Governor’s Mansion, flanked by allies from rural county governments and agricultural organizations.

Ricketts said his order is aimed at stopping implementation of what he calls “the 30×30 land grab.” But a closer look at the order shows it to be long on education and information-gathering and short on steps that would block the expansion of conservation efforts. Read more here.

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES

Working with Individual Landowners on Conservation

The USDA provides voluntary, incentive-based conservation to landowners through local field offices in nearly every county of the nation. USDA helped landowners develop conservation plans and enrolled a record number of acres of private working lands in conservation programs, working with more than 500,000 farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that clean the air we breathe, conserve and clean the water we drink, prevent soil erosion and create and protect wildlife habitat. USDA support – leveraged with historic outside investments – helped support producer incomes and reward them for their good work.

Learn more about USDA’s conservation programs.

CENTER FOR AGRICULTURAL PROFITABILITY AT UNL

The interdisciplinary Center for Agricultural Profitability, which was approved March 11, 2021, facilitates faculty research, conducts outreach related to agricultural profitability and trains undergraduate and graduate students — all to support informed decision-making in agriculture through applied research and education.

Center for Agricultural Profitability Webinars – Archived & Upcoming

Analyzing the Proposed 30×30 Conservation Plan, July 22, 2021
With: Dave Aiken, Professor and Agricultural Law & Water Specialist, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

On Jan. 27, President Biden signed his climate action executive order, pledging, among other things, to conserve at least 30% of U.S. land and water by 2030. On May 6, an interagency report to the president provided some detail for implementing the 30×30 plan. The report pledges to honor private property rights and to honor existing voluntary stewardship efforts of private landowners as well as building on existing land and water conservation programs. Aiken describes the proposed 30×30 program and discusses how the U.S. may be closer to reaching 30% land protection than most realize.

Conservation Program Opportunities for Producers and Landowners, July 8, 2021
With Brad Lubben, Extension Associate Professor and Policy Specialist, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Agricultural Economics; Doug Klein, Conservation and Price Support Programs Chief, USDA FSA Nebraska State Office; and Brad Soncksen, Assistant State Conservationist, USDA NRCS State Office.

369 Mayors from All 50 States Urge Congress to Pass Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, Stress Implementation Priorities

Washington, D.C. – Today, 369 mayors – including Republicans, Democrats and Independents from all 50 states and the District of Columbia – sent a letter to Congress urging them to take immediate action on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework announced by President Biden and a group of Republican and Democratic Senators on June 24th.

In their letter, the mayors write, “This framework would be the largest long-term investment in our nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century – $1.2 trillion over eight years – to help make our economy more sustainable, resilient, and just.” Continue reading here.

The signers include Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird. The full text of the letter with all signatures can be found here.

About the United States Conference of Mayors
The United States Conference of Mayors is the official non-partisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are over 1,400 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

CNBC’S ANNUAL “AMERICA’S TOP STATES FOR BUSINESS” RATINGS

America’s Top States for Business 2021
To rank America’s Top States for Business in 2021, CNBC scored all 50 states on 85 metrics in 10 broad categories of competitiveness.

These are America’s 10 best states for infrastructure

  • The national debate over an infrastructure plan has highlighted the importance of everything from roads and bridges to electricity and broadband.
  • Some states are already setting the pace with innovative policies that could be models for the rest of the country.
  • CNBC’s annual America’s Top States for Business study rates the states on multiple infrastructure components.

 

Nebraska’s Overall Ranking 13 / Infrastructure 33

 


DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY 

Secretary Granholm Announces New Goal to Cut Costs of Long Duration Energy Storage by 90 Percent

WASHINGTON, D.C.
 — U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm today announced the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s new goal to reduce the cost of grid-scale, long duration energy storage by 90% within the decade. The second target within DOE’s Energy Earthshot Initiative, “Long Duration Storage Shot” sets bold goals to accelerate breakthroughs that store clean electricity to make it available anytime, anywhere and support more abundant, affordable, and reliable clean energy solutions.

“We’re going to bring hundreds of gigawatts of clean energy onto the grid over the next few years, and we need to be able to use that energy wherever and whenever it’s needed,” said Secretary Granholm.

Previously Posted 

Second Catholic climate conference looks to build more momentum among US church

By Brian Roewe, Earth Beat:
Stories of climate crisis, faith and action

The Public Is Invited 

Have Catholics in the United States made any progress in responding to environmental challenges? Have new pathways of cooperation opened up between the church and the White House under President Joe Biden? And how much enthusiasm is there across the country to join the Vatican’s ambitious push toward total sustainability this decade?

All these questions will be topics of discussion at the “Laudato Si’ and the U.S. Catholic Church” conference being held virtually July 13-15.

The conference is the second of three biennial gatherings organized and co-hosted by Catholic Climate Covenant and Creighton University. The series aims to raise ambition and action within the U.S. Catholic Church in responding to Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.” Read more here.

Links to More Information

Also Written by Brian Roewe: Review of US bishops’ investment guidelines is underway

Midlands Voices: Voluntary programs are the key tools to promote Nebraska conservation

By Anne Hubbard, Jim Armitage, Richard Fruehling and Ron Schaefer,
The Nature Conservancy

We are writing in support of the 30-by-30 plan for conservation of American’s land and water, also referred to as “America the Beautiful.” The Board of Trustees for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is committed to advancing conservation practices on private lands; Nebraska is, of course, a private lands state, and to fulfill this mission, we rely on the leadership of ranchers and farmers.

Many of our staff members, trustees, families and friends work in agriculture, and as Nebraskans, none of us are far removed from the farm or the ranch. TNC proudly works alongside private landowners, landowner-led conservation associations, agribusinesses, and Tribal, state and federal partners to provide conservation tools to landowners through voluntary programs. It is this type of collaboration that ultimately leads to success. Read more here.

Dr. Anne Hubbard, board chair emeritus, and Dr. Jim Armitage, Dr. Richard Fruehling and Ron Schaefer wrote this essay on behalf of the executive committee of The Nature Conservancy’s Board of Trustees. The Nature Conservancy is a conservation organization and private landowner in Nebraska with more than 5,000 member-households.

Related Reading: Saving 30 By 2030, The Nature Conservancy 

Image Credit: The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska Facebook Photos

The Nature Conservancy In Nebraska

MORE ABOUT AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL

America the Beautiful, U.S. Department of the Interior
As directed by President Biden’s Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, the Department of the Interior has partnered with the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce, National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, and the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality to develop initial recommendations on how to advance an inclusive and collaborative conservation vision. 

President Biden has issued a call to action that we work together to conserve, connect, and restore 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030 for the sake of our economy, our health, and our well-being. 

To meet the moment, the Biden-Harris administration has launched “America the Beautiful,” a decade-long challenge to pursue a locally led and voluntary, nationwide effort to conserve, connect, and restore the lands, waters, and wildlife upon which we all depend. A recent report outlines the key principles that will guide our conservation efforts, including: 

America The Beautiful (PDF)

USDA’S CONSERVATION RESERVE PROGRAM

 

 

 

 

 

USDA Announces New Initiative to Quantify Climate Benefits of Conservation Reserve Program
Proposals for CRP Climate Change Mitigation Assessment Initiative Due July 2, 2021.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) has launched an initiative to quantify the climate benefits of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts. This multi-year effort will enable USDA to better target CRP toward climate outcomes and improve existing models and conservation planning tools while supporting USDA’s goal of putting American agriculture and forestry at the center of climate-smart solutions to address climate change. “CRP is a powerful tool for implementing voluntary, measurable conservation outcomes to mitigate the impacts of climate change,” said FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux.

Links to More Information

In April, the USDA announced updates to CRP including higher payment rates, new incentives for environmental practices and a more targeted focus on the program’s role in climate change mitigation Download USDA’s “What’s New” fact sheet to learn more about program updates.

New USDA Publication: USDA Launches Resource Guide to Help America’s Rural Workforce Build Back Better

Congressional Bills

Climate versus jobs? Not in this heartland state.

By Stephanie Hanes, Christian Science Monitor

For five generations, Andrew Bowman’s family has worked the land in Oneida, population 700-ish – a flat and fertile swath of Illinois his father always said was good for growing crops and kids. Today, he farms soybeans and corn, as well as specialty popcorn, which he sells under the label Pilot Knob Comforts. Mr. Bowman hopes to have a new resource to harvest soon, as well: wind.

This past year, Mr. Bowman took a lead representing local landowners in negotiating witOrion Renewable Energy Group, one of the many companies installing wind farms across Illinois, to build a new 100-turbinproject in his part of Knox County. Clean energy would not only help keep the local school open and support the fire department and library, he says, but would also offer a new income stream to farmers who agree to lease some of their land for the project – some $30 million over 25 years, according to the proposal. Continue reading here.

Photo by Orion Renewable Energy Group

CLIMATE ACTION TOOLS FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

Local Governments Can Use Their Power to Combat Climate Change, Bloomberg Law


Cities are nimbler than Congress and more capable of implementing climate policy through local laws and policy initiatives, says Jillian Blanchard, director of the climate change program at Lawyers for Good Government. She lays out some of the tools local governments can use to shift to renewable energy and the legal considerations.

 

WYOMING

It’s past time to prepare for coal country’s future, contributed opinion by Bob LeResche, Casper Star Tribune

Believe what you will about climate change or a “war on coal,” the simple fact is coal is no longer cost competitive with renewable energy or natural gas. Coal will keep losing market share, more coal power plants will close, and those that are left will burn less coal.

Bob LeResche is a former Commissioner of Natural Resources of Alaska, energy executive and investment banker. He and his wife Carol own a ranch and heirloom vegetable farm near Clearmont, Wyoming. He is a board member of the Powder River Basin Resource Council and the Western Organization of Resource Councils.

XCEL’S RECORD-LOW-PRICE PROCUREMENT

Xcel’s record-low-price procurement highlights benefits of all-source competitive solicitations, Utility Dive

Xcel’s [all-source competitive solicitation] returned a $0.017/kWh bid for wind, a $0.023/kWh bid for solar, and a $0.03/kWh bid for solar-plus-storage, according to a February 2021 Xcel presentation to Michigan regulators. These prices, compared to Colorado’s average January 2021 residential electricity price of $0.126/kWh, have other utilities asking how they can use this procurement approach.

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

SOLAR ON FORMER COAL MINEFIELDS

Former coal mine land to be transformed into solar energy sites in Wise County


WISE COUNTY, Va. (WJHL) – Collaborating groups in Southwest Virginia plan to repurpose land previously used for coal mining and convert it into sites for solar development. Five different sites in Wise County are designated to become utility-scale solar farms over the next few years. The project was initiated by the Nature Conservancy, a global environmental organization that has had a conservation program in Southwest Virginia since the early 1990s. Image Credit: Sun Tribe

Additional information on land use and utility-scale solar is available here: 

NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL

Five Wins for Clean Energy Innovation in Biden’s Budget, by Arjun Krishnaswami &  Sasha Stashwick

The Biden administration’s 2022 budget released on Friday includes major funding increases for important Department of Energy (DOE) programs to drive clean energy innovation, address the climate crisis, and build a strong and equitable economy. These funding increases complement the investments proposed in the President’s American Jobs Plan (AJP). Now it’s up to Congress to pass AJP and write a government funding bill that reflects the President’s proposals. 

RECYCLING WIND TURBINE BLADES

World’s largest offshore wind farm developer to recover, reuse or recycle turbine blades, CNBC

Denmark’s Orsted said Thursday it would “reuse, recycle, or recover” all turbine blades in its worldwide portfolio of wind farms once they’re decommissioned.  


Ørsted In Nebraska – Previously Posted 

EPA Reboots Climate Change Website

News Release, Environmental Protection Agency

WASHINGTON (March 18, 2021) — As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to action on climate change and restoring science, EPA is taking the first step in a relaunch of its climate change website. For the first time in four years, EPA now has a webpage to guide the public to a range of information, including greenhouse gas emissions data, climate change impacts, scientific reports, and existing climate programs within EPA and across the federal government.

“Climate facts are back on EPA’s website where they should be,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Considering the urgency of this crisis, it’s critical that Americans have access to information and resources so that we can all play a role in protecting our environment, our health, and vulnerable communities. Trustworthy, science-based information is at the foundation of strong, achievable solutions.” Continue reading here.

EPA Links

Conservancy charts a solar showcase on the coalfields of Central Appalachia

By Elizabeth McGowen, Energy News Network

When Danny Van Clief chose a career in solar energy, he wasn’t seeking a turbulence-free glide path. Instead, the CEO of Sun Tribe Development wanted the freedom to jump with both feet into formidable challenges — ones that might spook other developers.

That pluck has landed his Charlottesville company the opportunity to be the first to generate large-scale renewable power on the coalfields of Central Appalachia. If the bold venture announced this week comes to fruition, roughly 550 acres of deforested minelands sprinkled across an expansive Nature Conservancy preserve will generate up to 75 megawatts of solar energy within two to three years. Continue reading here.

Photo Credit: Brad Kreps / The Nature Conservancy

THE NATURE CONSERVANCY IN NEBRASKA

Featured Resources
Nebraska’s Climate Solutions: See how The Nature Conservancy is finding hope for the future in all corners of Nebraska.

Photo: Nature Conservancy’s 50-kilowatt off-grid solar system at the Niobrara Valley Preserve, one of the Conservancy’s largest in the U.S. The Nebraska Environmental Trust awarded a grant for the project  It was designed by Morrissey Engineering of Omaha and installed by SWT Energy in collaboration with Sentry Electric of Lincoln, Nebraska.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

About The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries and territories: 38 by direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit: www.nature.org

FREE CERES & IIGCC WEBINAR 

The Role of Natural Climate Solutions in Corporate Climate Commitments: A Spotlight on Investor Engagement

This webinar on May 18 at 10 a.m. will launch a new publication by Ceres and IIGCC, “The Role of Natural Climate Solutions in Corporate Climate Commitments: A Brief for Investors.” Developed in collaboration with investors, the brief provides asset owners and managers with guidance for engaging portfolio companies on the use of NCS in their climate commitments.

Website Links

Solar Jobs Support 231,000 Families, Must Grow 4X to Reach Biden’s Clean Energy Target

SEIA News Release, May 6, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. solar industry employed 231,474 workers in 2020, a 6.7% drop from 2019 due to pandemic restrictions and increased labor productivity, according to the National Solar Jobs Census 2020 released today by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), The Solar Foundation, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), and BW Research.

The solar industry continues to support hundreds of thousands of jobs across all 50 states, and even during a pandemic, our companies largely were able to keep workers on the job,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA. “We now have an opportunity to quadruple our workforce, adding diversity and supporting underserved communities by taking policy steps that incentivize solar and storage deployment and provide long-term certainty for solar businesses.” Read more here.

Download the report, view the interactive charts and explore the state map.
Nebraska
Solar Jobs: 1,246 (ranks #32)
Solar Jobs Per Capita: 1:1,576 (ranks #16)
Installed Solar Capacity: 62.96 MW (ranks #46)

ACP News Release

New study: Transmission policy would unlock clean energy growth, by Jesse Broehl,  American Clean  Power Association

Building just 22 high-voltage transmission lines that are currently on hold in the U.S. could increase national wind and solar generation by 50 percent and create approximately 1.2 million jobs, according to a new study from Americans for a Clean Energy Grid (ACEG).

The report, titled Transmission Projects Ready to Go: Plugging into America’s Untapped Renewable Resources, identifies 22 projects currently stalled because the nation lacks the right policies to recover costs of the large-scale interregional transmission needed at the national scale. These shovel-ready projects would unlock roughly 60,000 megawatts (MW) of new renewable energy capacity, but policies relating to how long-range transmission is planned, paid for, and permitted are needed for these to move ahead. Click on this link to access the full report.

 ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

A New Program Like FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps Could Help the Nation Fight Climate Change and Transition to Renewable Energy

By Judy Fahys, Inside Climate News

President Joe Biden has been talking about the idea since before he took office. A week into his presidency, he directed the secretary of the interior to lead development of a strategy to mobilize a Civilian Climate Corps—“the next generation of conservation and resilience workers”—to help address the climate crisis. Then he called for spending $10 billion on the updated CCC in the $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan he proposed earlier this month.

“It’s reached a level of seriousness and intention that I have never seen before,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, president and CEO of the Corps Network, a national association representing the nation’s 135 existing conservation corps, mostly private-public partnerships that have adopted the corps model for job training and community service. Read more here.

Civilian Climate Corps Act

Image Credit: The Corps Network

Additional Recommended Reading

Student Conservation Association News Release

Young Americans Believe Climate Change is Real – and Want to Do More to Stop It
Eighty-six percent of young Americans believe the world’s climate is changing and 71% conclude human activities are the cause, but youth are struggling to identify individual practices they can take to improve global sustainability, according to a new nationwide poll.

Released by the Student Conservation Association (SCA)The SCA Climate Survey reveals the perspectives of 15-25 year olds on climate change, environmental justice, and related public policy initiatives. The poll shows that although nearly 40% of respondents view climate change as a “crisis,” 83% believe there is still time to prevent its worst effects. Youth are split, however, on whether that goal is achievable.

About the Student Conservation Association
The Student Conservation Association (SCA) is America’s oldest and largest youth conservation organization. SCA conserves lands and transforms lives by empowering young people of all backgrounds to plan, act, and lead while they protect and restore our natural and cultural resources. Founded in 1957, SCA’s mission is to build the next generation of conservation leaders, and seven in 10 of alumni worldwide are employed or studying in conservation-related fields. For more, visit www.thesca.org.

Additional Climate Resource

Climate Science 101, Covering Climate Now 
Climate scientist Dr. Katharine Hayhoe explains the basics of climate change for beginners and those in need of a refresher.

About Covering Climate Now

Mindful of the media’s responsibility to inform the public and hold power to account, we advise newsrooms, share best practices, and provide reporting resources that help journalists ground their coverage in science while producing stories that resonate with audiences. Co-founded by the Columbia Journalism Review and The Nation in association with The Guardian and WNYC in 2019, CCNow’s 460-plus partners include some of the biggest names in news, and some of the smallest, because this story needs everyone.

OPPD Board of Directors Seeking Public Input On Utility’s Environmental Stewardship Goals

OPPD News Release

The Omaha Public Power District Board of Directors is seeking public input on a proposed amendment to its strategic directive (SD) on environmental stewardship, recognizing the threats posed by climate change. Environmental Stewardship (SD-7) is among 15 strategic directives the board has provided the utility to give it clear and transparent direction, on behalf of its customer-owners. These policies guide OPPD’s strategic and operational planning efforts to address current and future trends, mitigate risks, pursue strategic opportunities, and prioritize resources. OPPD is aligned, across the district, to be accountable to performance expectations related to the various directives.

A proposed amendment to SD-7 would add the following verbiage: The OPPD Board of Directors recognizes the scientific consensus that climate change is occurring and that greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide, from human activity contribute to climate change impacts. The last time the directive was revised was in November of 2019.

The full context to the proposed change to SD-7, as well as a comment form, are viewable on OPPDCommunityConnect.com. The public may offer comment on the proposed change until May 14, 2021. Read the entire news release here.

OPPD’S “PATHWAYS TO DECARBONIZATION” WORKSHOPS

OPPD’s first Pathways to Decarbonization Energy Portfolio workshop “Decarbonization Pathways Planning 101” was held virtually on Wednesday, April 7. The recording of the meeting, as well as registration for the next three workshops, are now available here: OPPDCommunityConnect.com.

  • Workshop #2: Multi-Sectoral Modeling, April 28, 4–6 p.m.
  • Workshop #3: Developing Key Assumptions and Scenarios, May 12, 4–6 p.m.
  • Workshop #4: Developing Modeling Approach, May 26, 4–6 p.m.

THE WIRE POSTS

Program making a difference one home at a time

Initial solar contract inked for OPPD’s Power with Purpose

OPPD offering Energy Star certification