Tag Archives: Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

There’s new momentum in Congress for a climate bill, but a lot of questions on what it could include

By Ella Nilsen and Lauren Fox, CNN

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has cracked open the door for negotiations on a slimmed-down version of President Joe Biden’s climate and economic bill following months of little progress on the issue. Manchin outlined his counteroffer this week, confirming that climate and clean energy provisions will be some of the few original pieces of Biden’s original Build Back Better bill he wants to pass through a Democrat-only bill. Manchin is also calling for Democrats to raise taxes on corporations and America’s wealthy and use that revenue to reduce the budget deficit and spend on new climate programs. Read more here.

Watch the following brief video at the same above link: CNN asks West Virginia residents about climate change. 

Previously Posted

NEW FROM THE WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING ROOM

ENERGY SAVER.GOV NEWS & RESOURCES

  • Energy Saver 101 Infographic: Home Energy Audits
    A home energy assessment is the first step to saving energy and money. Sometimes called an energy audit, a home energy assessment helps you learn how you use energy, determine where it’s being wasted, and prioritize efficiency upgrades. Making energy efficiency upgrades identified in a home energy assessment can save 5-30 percent on your monthly energy bill while also ensuring the health and safety of your house.
  • New Plug-in Electric Vehicle Sales in the United States Nearly Doubled from 2020 to 2021
    Sales of new light-duty plug-in electric vehicles, including all-electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), nearly doubled from 308,000 in 2020 to 608,000 in 2021.

Related Links

Making corporate net zero rhetoric real in 2022

Contributed Utility Dive article by Chris Deri, a senior managing director at Teneo, a global CEO consulting and advisory firm, and Sasha Mackler, executive director of the Energy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. 

Despite an unending global pandemic, increased geopolitical tensions, and ongoing domestic political disorder, 2021 delivered encouraging progress to address climate change. In the U.S., the bipartisan infrastructure legislation unleashed massive new energy and climate programs. Globally, the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow solidified many new government commitments and public-private partnerships. Investors poured more than $120 billion into environmental, social and governance (ESG) funds, on a trajectory to reach $1 trillion by 2025. And now 600 of the largest 2,000 publicly traded global companies have announced net zero targets. Continue reading here.

FROM THE WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING ROOM

Today, on the one-year anniversary of President Biden’s executive order, seven cabinet agencies published reports identifying key weaknesses in some of the nation’s most crucial supply chains, and devising multi-year strategies to address those weaknesses. The White House also published a capstone report that provides an overview of the key actions the Biden-Harris Administration has taken over the past year to reduce the vulnerability of U.S. supply chains across a range of key sectors. And in the coming months, a number of federal departments and agencies, including the Department of Commerce and the Department of Labor (DOL), will host regional summits that will bring together stakeholders to discuss opportunities to align regional economic development strategies with the national supply chain strategy.

BUILD BACK BETTER

IBEW, NRDC Call on Congress to Pass Build Back Better, NRDC News Release

WASHINGTON – International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) sent a letter to members of Congress this week urging swift passage of the Build Back Better Act. The joint letter, signed by the president of each organization, is a clear demonstration of the pressure building for this legislation, which will create high-quality union jobs while making much-needed investments in clean energy.

DOE leverages new and existing authorities to spur transmission development key to energy transition

By Ethan Howland, Senior Reporter, Utility Dive

The Department of Energy has developed a plan for reducing barriers to high-voltage transmission projects that includes public-private partnerships, permitting and planning support, and about $20 billion in financing. The move comes as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, another key player in the transmission arena, is preparing to propose changes to its rules for transmission planning, determining who pays for the infrastucture and connecting power facilities to the grid. Continue reading here.

Department of Energy News Release: DOE Launches New Initiative From President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law To Modernize National Grid

MORE INDUSTRY NEWS

Previously Posted

NFS Note: SB 1024 is working its way through the Florida Legislature’s Regulated Industries committee.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

The Myth of the Solar “Cost Shift” and the True Value of Solar (PDF), Solar United Neighbors

Monopoly electric utilities are waging a well-documented campaign against rooftop solar. They see it as a threat to their outmoded business model of selling more and more electricity in order to increase their profits. They are lobbying across the country to make it more expensive and difficult for people to go solar. The utilities’ primary claim is that non-solar customers are subsidizing solar owners. They describe this using the terms “cost-shift” or “cross-subsidization.” Their logic goes like this:

‘Build Back Better’ Hit a Wall, but Climate Action Could Move Forward

By Coral Davenport and Lisa Friedman, New York Times

The climate portion of Build Back Better includes about $555 billion aimed at moving the American economy away from its 150-year-old reliance on fossil fuels and toward clean energy sources. Instead of penalties to punish polluters, the bill offers incentives for industries, utilities and individuals to shift from burning oil, gas and coal for energy and transportation to using wind, solar and other forms of power that do not emit carbon dioxide, the most plentiful of the greenhouse gases that are warming the world.

It would provide about $320 billion in tax credits for producers and buyers of wind, solar and nuclear power. Buyers of electric vehicles would receive up to $12,500 in tax credits. It would extend existing tax credits to lower costs for homeowners of installing solar panels, geothermal pumps and small wind turbines, covering up to 30 percent of the bills. Read more here.

APPA FACT SHEET OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

The Need for Direct Payment Of Refundable Tax Credits for Public Power

APPA believes that if Congress intends to create incentives in pursuit of national energy and climate goals, it should realize that tax-based incentives will not have the market-wide reach of direct grants and other incentives. As a result, the association believes that tax-based incentives should be drafted to accommodate tax-exempt entities, including public power utilities. 

UTILITY DIVE SERIES

2022 Outlook: FERC expected to prioritize transmission, power markets and gas infrastructure, by Ethan Howland, Senior Reporter

This is the third part of Utility Dive’s 2022 Outlook Series.

With its oversight of interstate transmission and wholesale power markets, FERC, an independent agency, has a major role in the energy transition. “FERC’s regulation is central to the resilient, reliable future grid that’s already developing,” John Moore, director of the Sustainable FERC Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said.

Potential changes to the transmission system are driven by the growth of renewable energy, especially in areas that are far from major population centers, according to Moore. Other developments that are driving a focus on transmission planning include the development of offshore wind farms and the shift away from fossil fuels for cars, trucks and buildings, which will drive up electricity use, Moore said.

Referenced in the article: FERC’s new Office of Public Participation
Upcoming Resources for the Future Webinar: Policy Leadership Series with FERC Commissioner Allison Clements, January 25, 2022 at 10 a.m. Central Time


Fourth Part of Utility Dive’s 2022 Series 

2022 Outlook: US solar and wind boom continues despite supply chain woes, Build Back Better uncertainty,  by Iulia Gheorghiu

 

INTERIOR DEPARTMENT NEWS

Interior’s 2022 energy strategy: 3 things to watch, E&E News

Interior’s efforts will include authorizing solar energy in Western deserts and leasing waters in the Atlantic Ocean to offshore wind developers, as well as reexamining the rules that govern decommissioning offshore pipelines, drilling for oil and digging for federal coal . . . Meanwhile, renewables are about to get a boost on public lands.

Additional Recommended Reading: Offshore wind: a key to unlocking the American transition to a clean, reliable and affordable energy future, American Clean Power Association

USDA NEWS RELEASES

USDA’s Office of Tribal Relations Highlights 2021 Accomplishments to Advance Equity and Opportunity for Tribal Nations and Communities

“USDA and the federal government have a distinct relationship with tribal nations,” said USDA Office of Tribal Relations Director Heather Dawn Thompson. “We are embarking on new initiatives to reframe approaches to how USDA serves Indian Country and promotes government-to-government relationships with tribal nations.” 

MIDAMERICAN ENERGY NEWS RELEASE

MidAmerican Energy proposes $3.9 billion “Wind PRIME” renewable energy project

In a filing with the Iowa Utilities Board, MidAmerican’s proposed project, called Wind PRIME, would add 2,042 megawatts of wind generation and 50 megawatts of solar generation. The company also proposed conducting feasibility studies focused on other clean generation technologies, including carbon capture, energy storage and small modular nuclear reactors.

FEATURED EDUCATIONAL ORGANIZATION

The Zero Energy Project is a non-profit educational organization whose goal is to help home buyers, builders, designers, and real estate professionals take meaningful steps towards radically reducing carbon emissions and energy bills by building zero net energy homes and near zero energy homes.

We envision the day when positive energy homes, which produce more energy than they consume, will power electric vehicles as well as homes, so that everyone can live well with less expense and without fear of energy price spikes, while greatly reducing our carbon emissions.

Zero Energy Project’s Directory of Zero Energy Building Professionals
Recent Blog Post: Net-Zero vs Passive House: What are the Similarities and Differences?

DOE BETTER BUILDINGS WEBINAR

PV Valuation: How Solar PV Adds Value to Your Assets, February 1, 2022, 10 a.m. CT

Rooftop solar is a common renewable energy strategy, and owners and operators are now exploring potential financial benefits to the value of commercial and industrial properties. Learn from several building owners and managers on how they made the business case for solar PV and found increased asset value during appraisal or at the time of sale. This webinar will highlight multiple building types and financial models for solar PV.

USDA Seeks Public Input to Help Create a New Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program

WASHINGTON, April 1, 2021 — Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it is requesting public input from interested parties, including potential customers and interested stakeholders, to help create a new Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program. To ensure a diverse group of voices are heard, USDA is seeking written comments and will host a public listening session on April 22, 2021.

“When we invest in creating new sources of renewable energy, we invest in rebuilding the middle class by creating good-paying jobs in rural America,” USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson said. “To meet this goal, we must put rural communities at the heart of climate action and climate-smart solutions, and that begins with getting feedback from a broad, diverse set of voices from the start.” Continue reading here.

For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

FOOD AND AGRICULTURE CLIMATE ALLIANCE REPORT

Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance Expands Membership, Drills Down on Policy Recommendations, National Farmers Union News Release

[In February] the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA) announced expanding membership and new policy working groups focused on developing a set of more specific policy proposals that drill down on the 40+ recommendations released by FACA in November 2020. FACA’s eight founding members — American Farm Bureau Federation (co-chair), Environmental Defense Fund (co-chair), FMI – The Food Industry Association, National Alliance of Forest Owners, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (co-chair), National Farmers Union (co-chair) and The Nature Conservancy — welcomed 14 new groups to the Steering Committee. FACA’s original 40+ recommendations cover six areas of focus: soil health, livestock and dairy, forests and wood products, energy, research, and food loss and waste. They are outlined in a 50-page report [PDF] and summarized in a hand-out [PDF].

UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA-LINCOLN NEWS & RESOURCES

ENVIRONMENTAL ENTREPRENEURS REGENERATIVE AG REPORT

Healthy Soils and the Climate Connection: A Path to Economic Recovery on America’s Farms
 provides a roadmap for how climate-smart agriculture policies could provide profit boosts for farmers and climate wins for advocates.

Most initiatives to fight climate change today focus on reducing fossil fuel emissions from electricity generation, transportation, and buildings. But to avoid the worst impacts of climate change we must also significantly reduce the atmospheric carbon that has already been emitted. While efforts are underway to develop new and high tech mechanisms to accomplish this, there is an immediately available and economically viable pathway for atmospheric carbon removal—one that provides a compelling new value proposition for farmers to revitalize their soils and get paid for doing it.

E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs) is a national, nonpartisan group of business leaders, investors, and professionals from every sector of the economy who advocate for smart policies that are good for the economy and good for the environment. Our members have founded or funded more than 2,500 companies, created more than 600,000 jobs, and manage more than $100 billion in venture and private equity capital.

Previously Posted
Biden to Engage Farmers & Build Climate Resilience, NRDC
What Biden’s Climate Plan Means For Regenerative Ag, Rodale Institute

Buyer’s Guides
A Buyer’s Guide To Regenerative Food, Rodale Institute
RegeNErate Nebraska Resource Guide

Recommended Books 

 

Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land, by Leah Penniman

 

 

 

Dirt to Soil: One Family’s Journey into Regenerative Farming, by Gabe Brown

Ag Leaders Unite Around Racial Equity and Climate Progress

By David Wallinga, MD and Allison Johnson,
Natural Resources Defense Council

Leaders in the Senate and House Agriculture Committees sent a clear message last week: they are committed to righting racist policies that have denied farmers of color their lands and a farming livelihood, and to ensuring as well that small, diversified farms have the tools they need to survive, now and into the future. Continue reading here.

Previously Posted: Biden to Engage Farmers & Build Climate Resilience, by Allison Johnson and Claire O’Connor, NRDC

NRDC’s Regenerative Agriculture Series

Regenerative Agriculture Part 4: The Benefits, by Arohi Sharma, Lara Bryant, Ellen Lee, Claire O’Connor

This is the last installment of our regenerative agriculture blog series. The first blog introduced the philosophy of regenerative agriculture, the second blog covered its principles, the third blog delved into regenerative practices, and this one describes the benefits of regenerative agriculture.

Additional Recommended Reading 

What Biden’s Climate Plan Means For Regenerative Ag, Rodale Institute

Buyer’s Guides

Books 

Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land, by Leah Penniman

In 1920, 14 percent of all land-owning US farmers were black. Today less than 2 percent of farms are controlled by black people—a loss of over 14 million acres and the result of discrimination and dispossession. While farm management is among the whitest of professions, farm labor is predominantly brown and exploited, and people of color disproportionately live in “food apartheid” neighborhoods and suffer from diet-related illness. The system is built on stolen land and stolen labor and needs a redesign.

Farming While Black is the first comprehensive “how to” guide for aspiring African-heritage growers to reclaim their dignity as agriculturists and for all farmers to understand the distinct, technical contributions of African-heritage people to sustainable agriculture. At Soul Fire Farm, author Leah Penniman co-created the Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion (BLFI) program as a container for new farmers to share growing skills in a culturally relevant and supportive environment led by people of color. Farming While Black organizes and expands upon the curriculum of the BLFI to provide readers with a concise guide to all aspects of small-scale farming, from business planning to preserving the harvest. – Chelsea Green Publishing

Dirt to Soil: One Family’s Journey into Regenerative Farming, by Gabe Brown

Gabe Brown didn’t set out to change the world when he first started working alongside his father-in-law on the family farm in North Dakota. But as a series of weather-related crop disasters put Brown and his wife, Shelly, in desperate financial straits, they started making bold changes to their farm. Brown—in an effort to simply survive—began experimenting with new practices he’d learned about from reading and talking with innovative researchers and ranchers. As he and his family struggled to keep the farm viable, they found themselves on an amazing journey into a new type of farming: regenerative agriculture. – Chelsea Green Publishing.

See Gabe Brown in the documentary, Kiss the Ground. 

Ending Carbon Pollution: The Energy Efficiency Imperative

By Ralph Cavanagh, Energy Co-Director, Climate & Clean Energy Program,
Natural Resources Defense Council

A recommendation for America to “invest in energy efficiency and productivity” leads a new blueprint for “Accelerating Decarbonization of the U.S. Energy System” by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. This is the latest confirmation of a resounding consensus that energy efficiency improvements are at the heart of any plausible plan for halting the carbon pollution fueling the climate crisis.

Recent reports also by the International Energy Agency, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), and Evolved Energy all agree: Affordable, equitable, and reliable electricity service in an economy reducing carbon emissions depends vitally on harnessing the full capacity of cost-effective energy efficiency. In fact, ACEEE concluded that “energy efficiency can slash U.S. energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by about 50% by 2050, getting us halfway to our national climate goals . . . ” Continue reading here.

Interactive Online Map: ACEEE State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. Nebraska’s ACEEE Scorecard Rank: 41. As the map shows, several states in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) have ACEEE scorecard rankings in the 40’s, with Wyoming at 51. States also scoring in the 40’s: North Dakota 48, South Dakota 45, Kansas 47, Louisiana 45.

Nebraska’s low ranking highlights our state’s need for a comprehensive energy plan that includes energy efficiency.

Minnesota’s Outstanding Leadership

Minnesota, with a Scorecard of 9 (tying with Oregon), ranks the highest among Southwest Power Pool member states and provides an excellent national model for states, municipalities, utilities and other entities with zero-emission goals.

Driven by strong energy savings goals established under the state’s 2007 Next Generation Energy Act, Minnesota continues to rank among the top energy-efficient states in the nation. The state has also invested in policies and programs to drive efficiency in other sectors, including activities to ensure energy code compliance and through lead by example policies that set energy conservation requirements for state owned resources. Minnesota continues to explore opportunities to advance efficiency in other ways to promote building electrification and encourage adoption of electric vehicles. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is also pursuing a rulemaking to adopt California’s low- and zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) standards. – ACEEE State Energy Efficiency Scorecard

SPP Resources

Rep. Delgado Selected Chair of House Agriculture Subcommittee

  Office of U.S. Congressman Antonio Delgado News Release,
February 8, 2021


RHINEBECK, NY – Today, U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado (NY-19) was selected to serve as the Chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit (CEEC). The CEEC Subcommittee oversees all policies relating to commodity exchanges, agricultural credit, rural development, energy, and rural electrification.

Read more here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

The Green Act

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Expert Blog

Parks and Public Lands Poised for Justice, by Marissa Ramirez. Coauthored with Dr. Erica Holloman-Hill (West Atlanta Watershed Alliance), Mona Wang (Low Income Investment Fund), and Darryl Haddock (West Atlanta Watershed Alliance)

We are encouraged by and fully support several of the Biden Administration priorities that align with ours, including:

    • Investing $1.7 trillion in climate and environmental justice and conserving 30 percent of U.S. lands, oceans and inland waters (“30×30”) over the next 10 years.
    • Creating a Civilian Climate Corps
    • Advancing racial equity across the economy

A Catalyst for the Midwest’s Clean Energy Transition

By Brian Palmer, Natural Resources Defense Council

When you discuss clean energy with senior energy economist Ashok Gupta, everything seems so obvious. Make it cheap; use it smartly. What’s all the fuss about? Don’t let the simplicity of his vision fool you, though. Gupta understands the economics and politics of energy better than anyone working in the United States today. He has devoted his nearly 30-year career at NRDC to transforming the American power sector and to converting cities into clean energy laboratories.

From 2004 to 2013, he served on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Sustainability Advisory Board and Energy Policy Task Force, which created knowledge centers for carbon reduction and efficiency that served as models for other cities. In 2012, he moved to Kansas City, Missouri, and shifted his focus to the clean energy future of the Midwest, helping Missouri, Kansas, and their biggest cities to embrace efficiency and capitalize on the region’s dropping price of wind and solar power. Read more here.

Previously Posted: The Clean Power Plan and the Midwest’s Winds of Change, by Ashok Gupta, NRDC

RENEWABLE ENERGY GIANTS

The New Energy Giants Are Renewable Companies, Bloomberg
Meet the clean supermajors. They have the clout and financial might of the energy behemoths that plumbed the world over for oil and gas before them. But instead of digging mines and drilling wells, they’re leading the race to electrify the global economy.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

DISTRIBUTED WIND & GREEN AMMONIA

The Renewable Energy Cows Come Home, Now With Green Ammonia, CleanTechnica
US farmers have been on the front lines of the renewable energy revolution, and they are in the vanguard of yet another clean tech trend that could finally help the distributed wind industry get the attention it deserves. If all goes according to plan, farms across the country will sprout wind turbines attached to devices that spit out green ammonia for fertilizer and zero emission fuel.

NEW APPRENTICE PROGRAM

McCarthy Partnering with Adaptive Construction Solutions in Support of Veterans, McCarthy News Release

McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. announces a new partnership with Adaptive Construction Solutions, Inc. (ACS) to recruit and train veterans for careers in the construction trades, addressing a national workforce shortage. Together, the two organizations will identify and enroll veterans with military occupational specialties in an apprenticeship program that can lead to full-time employment with McCarthy. As a leading renewable energy builder, McCarthy will pilot the ACS program on its utility-scale solar and renewable energy projects.

The McCarthy Renewable Energy & Storage group focuses on utility-scale solar installation projects as well as other renewable energy projects across the U.S. In 2021, the firm will be constructing more than 1.8 GW of clean energy projects across the nation and expects to hire nearly 1,000 craft professionals for the construction of the projects that year alone. The renewable energy sector is one of the fastest growing in the world and is anticipated to provide new and developing career opportunities for years to come.

Established in 1864, McCarthy Building Companies, Inc has office locations in 17 cities, including Omaha.

U.N. VIRTUAL CLIMATE SUMMIT

UN calls on humanity to end ‘war on nature,’ go carbon-free, ABC News
With new reports highlighting 2020’s record-breaking weather and growing fossil fuels extraction that triggers global warming, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivered yet another urgent appeal to curb climate change. It was tinged with optimism but delivered dire warnings, as the UN gears up for a Dec. 12 virtual climate summit in France on the 5th anniversary of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement.

SPI Sneak Preview: Expanding the U.S. Solar Manufacturing Base

By John Smirnow, SEIA Blog

A strong U.S. supply chain for solar and other clean energy products will facilitate an equitable and inclusive transition to a clean energy economy, moving us to renewable energy sources while promoting economic growth. The solar industry alone is poised to add more than 350,000 jobs over the next decade, increasing our manufacturing base will ensure those jobs are available in all 50 states and for Americans of every background.

To make this happen, SEIA is putting a renewed focus on manufacturing at all levels. We’ve launched a new manufacturing division for our members, which will serve as a forum to collect and develop ideas and proposals for spurring new manufacturing across the country. While trade wars and tariffs have dominated national news, there are many ways to support manufacturing at the local, state and federal levels, and we’ll work with our members and other stakeholders to bring the best ideas forward.
Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading