Tag Archives: Inside Climate News

Middle America’s Low-Hanging Carbon: The Search for Greenhouse Gas Cuts from the Grid, Agriculture and Transportation

Reporters in 14 newsrooms across the Midwest teamed up with InsideClimate News to explore local solutions to climate change.

By John H. Cushman Jr., InsideClimate News

The American Midwest is at a turning point as it confronts the global climate crisis. It’s a landscape of opportunity, where investment is starting to pour into renewable energy, farmers are turning to climate-friendly practices, and automakers are introducing new electric vehicles. But its path forward is still cluttered with obstacles.

The region is already feeling the environmental and economic tremors of climate change. It’s still a rare day when Chicago’s thermometers hit 100—hot enough to be deadly. But the latest science predicts that by mid-century heat waves will routinely strike the region with temperatures much hotter than was common just a few decades ago. Summers will warm faster in the Midwest than in any other American region, according to the National Climate Assessment. Continue reading here.

To read the stories in this series, click here.

 ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Commentary: Now is the time to pass the next Illinois clean energy bill, by Andrew Barbeau and Christie Hicks, Environmental Defense Fund. It has been just over two years since Illinois enacted the groundbreaking Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), which set bold new goals for solar, wind and energy efficiency. Already, substantial gains from FEJA are being seen across the state. But, a just-completed lottery for renewable energy credits demonstrates that there is a voracious demand for solar and wind energy in Illinois that far exceeds current capacity. 

Missouri solar installer making strides recruiting and hiring military veterans, by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network. Missouri Sun Solar far exceeds the industry average for veteran employment — and its founder isn’t done hiring.

Indiana utilities are in midst of identity crisis as customers take power into own hands, Indianapolis Star. Until recently, virtually all residents in Indiana, and many states across the country, had little say in where their electricity came from or how it was produced. Bills arrived in the mail — whether from one of the big, investor-owned utilities or a smaller municipal or rural cooperative — and customers paid them. But Indiana utilities no longer hold a monopoly on energy generation in the state.

Ohio regulator approves two solar-powered facilities, Kallinish Energy
The Ohio Power Siting Board has approved construction on two solar-powered electric-generating facilities: one in Hardin County and one in Highland County, Kallansh Energy reports. Hardin Solar Energy Center II in northwest Ohio will be capable of generating up to 170 megawatts. It will include a lithium-ion battery storage system with a capacity of up to 60 MW. It would be one of the first such storage systems in the Midwest.

Midwest Flooding Exposes Another Oil Pipeline Risk — on Keystone XL’s Route

By Neela Banerjee, Inside Climate News

Rushing rivers have exposed once-buried pipelines before, leading to oil spills. With climate change exacerbating flood risks, Keystone XL critics see dangers ahead.

NAPER, Nebraska — Standing on the banks of the Keya Paha River where it cuts through his farm, Bob Allpress points across a flat expanse of sand to where a critical shut-off valve is supposed to rise from the Keystone XL pipeline once it’s buried in his land. The Keya Paha flooded several weeks ago, and when it did, the rush of newly melted water drove debris, sand and huge chunks of ice deep inland, mowing down trees and depositing a long wall of ice 6 feet high and 30 feet wide across Allpress’s property.  “It would’ve taken out their shut-off valve,” Allpress said of the river flooding. “Right where they propose to put it at. And it wouldn’t have been a good thing.” Read more here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

What the historic Midwest floods look like from space — and from the ground, by Vox. “This really is the most devastating flooding we’ve probably ever had in our state’s history,” Nebraska’s governor said.

12 excuses for climate inaction and how to refute them, by Eliza Barclay & Jag Bhalla, Vox
There’s a reason why the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has successfully goaded powerful politicians into long-overdue climate action in just six months. Fortunately, Thunberg is just one of many great minds helping us summon moral clarity to address the tricky problem of framing the climate crisis.

Rural Jobs: A Big Reason Midwest Should Love Clean Energy

By Dan Gearino, Inside Climate News

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 report from 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 subsidies for renewable energy, its tariffs on 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 Weekly Newsletter.

Image: Pixabay / Public Domain

RESOURCES: SOLAR & WIND ENERGY JOBS

National Teachers Group Confronts Climate Denial: Keep the Politics Out of Science Class

By Phil McKenna, Inside Climate News

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 more here.

Examples of NSTA-Recommended Resources

For Science Educators

For Parents and Community Members

SEIA Raises Doubts About Trump Administration’s Proposed Climate Rule

Solar Energy Industries Association Media Release 

“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.

Read the entire release here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Commentary: To fight climate change, we must change our vocabulary

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.

Read more here.

 

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

Congress Opens Arctic Wildlife Refuge to Drilling, But Do Companies Want In?

By Sabrina Shankman, Inside Climate News

[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.

ALSO PUBLISHED BY INSIDE CLIMATE NEWS

How an obscure piece of technology will help put more solar on the grid

Written by David J. Unger, Midwest Energy News
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
$1 billion wind project boost for Franklin County, Mason City Globe Gazette / The Courier
Vestas & EDF Renewable Energy Team Up For 160 MW Wind Farm In United States, CleanTechnica
Plans for 130-megawatt Illinois wind farm revived with project sale, Springfield State Journal-Register
Solar farms near Paynesville, Atwater part of state’s largest project of its kind, West Central Tribune, Willmar, Minnesota
USA Electric Car Sales Up 48% in July, CleanTechnica
FERC Gives Nod To Apple Petition For Selling Electricity, Planetsave
In Corporate March to Clean Energy, Utilities Not Required, Inside Climate News
A low-income St. Paul neighborhood has an ambitious energy plan, Midwest Energy News
Bay State storage: New law could give Massachusetts 3rd US energy storage mandate. Massachusetts was already a top state for energy storage. A new law could bolster that position with a mandate and utility ownership, Utility Dive
Software-Driven Community  SolarUtility Dive, Sponsored Content by Clean Energy Collective
Mosaic Energy raises $220 million for solar loansMosaic provides financing to homeowners for the purchase of rooftop solar systems through a network of over 250 solar companies, Utility Dive

Climate Scientists’ Personal Carbon Footprints Come Under Scrutiny

By Lisa Song, Inside Climate News

FRANCE-CLIMATE-WARMING-COP21-UN

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.

Click title to link to the study, published in the journal, Climatic ChangeStatements about climate researchers’ carbon footprints affect their credibility and the impact of their advice

Photo by Miguel Medina, Getty Images

Washington D.C. Pension Fund Announces Full Fossil Fuel Divestment

By Zahra Hirji, Inside Climate News

Interior Secretary Jewell Launches National Parks BioBlitz Washington DC

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, with assets 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

Episcopal Diocese of NE
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/

Photo Credit: Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska