Wind turbines have become a familiar part of the landscape in the rural Midwest, and with them have come jobs, income for farmers and tax revenue for communities. They’re one sign of how the clean energy transition is helping to transform areas that sometimes struggle to attract jobs and investment.
A new reportfrom the Natural Resources Defense Council shows the extent to which clean energy is contributing jobs to the rural economies of 12 Midwestern states. It also reflects what the rural Midwest stands to lose from Trump administration actions that harm clean energy, such as its recent call to eliminate subsidiesfor renewable energy, its tariffson solar energy equipment, and its plan to weaken the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. The authors say the numbers underscore the need in the Midwest for government policies that are supportive of clean energy instead. Read more here.
Dan Gearino covers the U.S. Midwest, part of Inside Climate News’ National Environment Reporting Network. His coverage deals with the business side of the clean-energy transition, and he writes Inside Climate News’ Clean Economy WeeklyNewsletter.
In response to what it sees as increasing efforts to undermine the teaching of climate science, the nation’s largest science teachers association took the unusual step Thursday of issuing a formal position statement in support of climate science education. In its position statement, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) calls on science teachers from kindergarten through high school to emphasize to students that “no scientific controversy exists regarding the basic facts of climate change.”
“Given the solid scientific foundation on which climate change science rests, any controversies regarding climate change and human-caused contributions to climate change that are based on social, economic, or political arguments—rather than scientific arguments—should not be part of a science curriculum,” it says. It also urges teachers to “reject pressures to eliminate or de-emphasize” climate science in their curriculum. And it urges school administrators to provide science teachers with professional development opportunities to strengthen their understanding of climate science. Read morehere.
“With or without this new proposal, solar will continue to grow, power the economy and provide the clean energy that consumers want and the grid needs. When you combine low-cost and low-carbon with technology that continues to get smarter, you can compete in any market and under any regulatory regime. We pledge to work constructively with the administration to develop policies that help American consumers, add American jobs and protect the planet.” – Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association on the Trump administration’s proposal to revise the Clean Power Plan.
EPA’s Clean Power Plan replacement unlikely to have much impact on clean energy, PV Magazine. “All the trends are that we are seeing new demand for and investment in renewable energy, energy storage and distributed energy resources,” Advanced Energy Economy’s General Counsel for Regulatory Affairs Jeff Dennis told pv magazine. “One of the flaws in this rule is that it tends to ignore those trends.”
Utilities are decarbonizing. Will Trump rule change that?, E&E News “Market forces are moving the industry away from coal regardless of the Trump administration’s efforts to bolster the coal industry,” said Amanda Garcia, a staff attorney in the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Nashville, Tenn., office. For the states or electric utilities that have been planning shifts to cleaner generation sources, the Trump’s plan is “putting a thumb on the scale that would not be there otherwise,” despite the administration’s claim that it is not picking winners and losers, Garcia said in an interview with E&E News.
By Dick Munson, Director of Midwest clean energy for the Environmental Defense Fund, Guest Opinion, Midwest Energy News
Each fall, Chicago throws a Humanities Festival to promote “the lifelong exploration of what it means to be human,” attracting thoughtful authors and expressive performers. Two lectures on a recent Saturday afternoon provided fresh perspectives on how environmentalists combat pollution and envision a healthier planet.
For me, those discussions revealed how we can tap different threads — specifically faith and literature — to make our cases more effectively.
[Those] hoping that oil companies will flock to the refuge—and that revenues raised can help offset some of the deficit created by the tax bill—might be sorely disappointed, said Bud Coote, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center. “In the current economic environment, it’ll be a tough sell,” he said . . . In late October, a poll conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Communication found that 70 percent of Americans oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and that only 18 percent of Republicans “strongly support” it. [Sen. Maria Cantwell], who is the ranking member on Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, said that those who want to protect the refuge will capitalize on the public support going forward. Read More Here.
An esoteric smart-grid technology is gaining prominence as expanded solar capacity poses new challenges to utilities and grid operators. Advanced inverters, or smart inverters, are sophisticated versions of the devices long used to convert the direct current output of solar panels into the alternating current used by consumers across the electrical grid. Whereas traditional inverters are programmed to shut off during disturbances on the electrical grid, advanced inverters can continue to operate and even assist in smoothing out an increasingly variable grid. Only a handful of U.S. states make significant use of this emerging technology, but that’s changing as electricity standards and procedures are updated to reflect a modernizing industry. Learn more here.
Photo: A worker installs an inverter on a solar project in Lakewood, California. Many inverters already have “smart” functionality installed but switched off by default. Credit: Michelle Gerdes / Creative Commons
Abigail Swann makes a point of telling students what she’s doing to reduce her own carbon footprint when teaching about potential climate change solutions—such as biking to work or eating less meat. Swann, an assistant professor of atmospheric science and biology at the University of Washington in Seattle, said the strategy is just common sense, because “it certainly resonates with students when you show … you make decisions in your own life that are consistent” with what she’s teaching. A study published [on June 16th] in the peer-reviewed journal Climatic Change confirms Swann’s instinct and concludes that climate researchers with low carbon footprints are seen as more credible than those who use a lot of energy in their personal and professional lives. Read more.
The largest public pension fund in Washington, D.C. has purged its $6.4 billion fund of all direct holdings in fossil fuels, city council members and climate activists announced Monday . . . While other American cities including San Francisco have pledged to clear their pension funds of fossil fuels, Washington D.C. may be the largest fund in the nation to complete this step, though the amount divested was small. The DCRB joins more than 500 cities, philanthropies, universities and other organizations worldwide, withassets totaling more than $3.4 trillion, that have divested from at least some fossil fuels or pledged to do so. Read more.
Photo Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images
List of Divestment Commitments by Faith-Based Groups, Foundations, Governmental Organizations, Pension Funds, NGOs, For-Profit Corporations, Health Organizations, Colleges, Universities and Schools: http://gofossilfree.org/commitments/
Solar Energy Will Thrive, New York Times Opinion, by David Sandalaw, the inaugural fellow at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, and a former under secretary of energy and assistant secretary for policy and international affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy.
Energy Department Announces $25 Million to Accelerate Integration of Solar Energy into Nation’s Electrical Grid, Energy.Gov Blog
The Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to finalize the rules on carbon emissions from power plants are still several months away. But most states, even those challenging the agency in court, are already investigating ways to comply.
The EPA expects 49 states to submit plans once the rules are finalized. The non-partisan group Great Plains Institute for Sustainable Development, which has been organizing talks in the Midwest on the Clean Power Plan, says 41 states have joined regional groups exploring options to comply with the rule.