Tag Archives: The Nature Conservancy

AFBF President Zippy Duvall Testimony for House Agriculture Committee

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, my name is Zippy Duvall. I am a third-generation farmer and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, and I am pleased to offer this testimony, on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation and Farm Bureau members across this country.  America’s farmers and ranchers play a leading role in promoting soil health, conserving water, enhancing wildlife, efficiently using nutrients, and caring for their animals. For decades they have embraced innovation thanks to investments in agricultural research and adopted climate-smart practices to improve productivity, enhance sustainability, and provide clean and renewable energy. Continue reading here. 

Additional Recommended Reading

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

WASHINGTON – The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA) today 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 one-page hand-out [PDF].

Photo Credit: Thomas Lin on Pexels / CC0

Biden Chooses Virginia Ag Commissioner For Deputy Secretary At USDA

By Chuck Abbott, Successful Farming

Two days before his inauguration, President-elect Biden selected Jewel Bronaugh, the Virginia state agriculture commissioner, as his nominee for deputy agriculture secretary, the No. 2 post at USDA. Bronaugh was among five women who were announced on Monday for deputy secretaries of federal departments and would be the first Black deputy secretary at USDA. The National Black Farmers Association said selection of Bronaugh was “an historic moment” for USDA. “We hope she will use her knowledge of the department to level the playing field for NBFA members as well as other minority and small-scale farmers and to end the culture of discrimination at the USDA,” said NBFA president John Boyd. Read more here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Biden’s Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Meets With Black Farmers, Black Enterprise

According to the Guardian, there are only about 45,000 Black farmers today. In 1920, there were more than one million. During the meeting, Vilsack affirmed his commitment to forging and establishing strong partnerships with organizations that provide assistance and support to Black farmers. Vilsack also wanted to ensure that Black farming organizations have a seat at the table while he is serving . . . If confirmed, Vilsack will take over the USDA at a time when Trump’s trade war with China has made things worse for U.S. farmers, especially small farmers. Bankruptcies have increased for small farmers, even with record levels of federal assistance.

Nebraska Chapter 12 Bankruptcies

Carbon Markets for Farmers

Indianapolis Star articles by Sarah Bowman and London Gibson

  • There is a lot of money on the table with carbon markets. But farmers are skeptical.
    As more greenhouse gases enter the atmosphere and more companies pledge to go carbon neutral, interest in creating a market for carbon capture through agriculture is growing. Agriculture is now being seen by many as an untapped resource, and carbon markets the way to tap it.  “I think the potential is boundless, really,” said Mobley of The Nature Conservancy. “If it can work in Indiana, it can work anywhere in the country — politically, programmatically, with on-the-ground implementation, all of it.”
  • 5 things you need to know about what Biden’s plan for a carbon market means for farmers
    The incoming administration is proposing to create a carbon bank at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which would buy credits from farmers and then sell them to corporations for offsets. Several other private carbon market programs have popped up, both from companies and non-profit organizations that are developing their own platforms. 

RegeNErate Nebraska

RegeNErate Nebraska is a network of farmers and ranchers, tribes, urban farmers, supporting businesses, organizations, food consumers, and communities who are committed to a shift away from extractive industrial food production in favor of an ethical and regenerative food system. Lying in the middle of the nation, Nebraska is the heart of our nation, and the culture and principles found here serve as a lifeblood for a well-functioning country. RegeNErate Nebraska’s mission is to redevelop and strengthen our communities from the soil up. This starts with building strong communities. RegeNErate Nebraska Resource Guide

Rural Energy for America Program Grants & Loans

The USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) seeks applications for loan guarantees and grants for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvement projects. The grant terms for renewable energy systems are $2,500 minimum to $500,000 maximum and for energy efficiency grants, $1,500 to $250,000. The next deadline is March 31, 2021 for REAP grants. Guaranteed Loans are accepted on a continuous application cycle. Click the above link to see additional requirements. Program Fact Sheet

For more information contact Nebraska Energy Coordinator Jeff Carpenter at 402-437-5554 or jeff.carpenter@usda.gov.

Federal Investment Tax Credit 

The Solar Investment Tax Credit, Solar Energy Industries Association
Congress passed a multi-year extension of the ITC in 2020:


Jeff Bezos announces nearly $800 million in grants to 16 groups fighting climate change

By Allen Kim, CNN

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced Monday that he will give $791 million in grants as part of his Bezos Earth Fund to 16 organizations that are working to protect the environment. The fund is part of the CEO’s $10 billion pledge to support scientists, activists, NGOs and organizations working to protect the environment. The full list of grantees are a mix of big name NGOs, labs, reforestation and climate justice groups.

They include: The Climate and Clean Energy Equity Fund, ClimateWorks Foundation, Dream Corps Green For All, Eden Reforestation Projects, Energy Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, The Hive Fund for Climate and Gender Justice, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy, NDN Collective, Rocky Mountain Institute, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, The Solutions Project, Union of Concerned Scientists, World Resources Institute and World Wildlife Fund. Read more here.

U.S. CLIMATE ALLIANCE 

U.S. Climate Alliance Urges Federal Action on the Climate Crisis, News Release
The Executive Director of the bipartisan United States Climate Alliance today issued the following statement regarding the Alliance’s continued commitment to address climate change and how the election outcome has created an opportunity for the U.S. federal government, in close partnership with states, to restore national climate leadership: 

Our states will continue to act on climate change, doing so with increased urgency and ambition, in line with science.  We will embrace the significant economic opportunities presented by our climate leadership, focusing on an equitable and just transition while investing in community- and family-sustaining clean energy jobs.  And we will continue to cooperate through the U.S. Climate Alliance – a bipartisan coalition of 25 governors – because together we move further and faster. 

CLIMATE MAYORS

Climate Mayors Announces New Chair, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, News Release
Today, Climate Mayors, the network of 468 U.S. mayors across the country committed to leading bold climate action and upholding the Paris Climate Agreement, announced that Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh will become the next Chair of the nationwide coalition. In this role, Mayor Walsh will help catalyze climate-forward actions taken at the local level, provide an example of climate action for leaders at all levels of government, and advocate for an economic recovery founded in equity and environmental stewardship.

OCEAN-BASED CLIMATE SOLUTIONS BILL

Congress Takes Up Ocean Climate Action, Expert Blog by Valerie Cleland, NRDC
The House Natural Resources Committee has begun tackling the monumental Ocean-Based Climate Solutions bill (H.R. 8632). The first of its kind to address the ocean side of climate changethe bill sets a truly exciting precedent for ocean climate action legislationThe hearing addressed blue carbon, the ban on offshore drilling, the need for marine protected areas, the pathway for expanding offshore wind, and more.

SOLSMART

Since 2016, the SolSmart program has provided in-depth technical assistance to hundreds of local governments nationwide and has awarded over 380 cities, towns, counties, and regional organizations with SolSmart designations for their solar achievements. 

Solar Energy: SolSmart’s Toolkit for Local Governments
This toolkit helps local governments and community stakeholders in cities, counties, and small towns design and implement plans to encourage solar energy development.

Learn More  About SolSmart Here.

Opportunity for Solar to Dot the Coalfields of Southwest Virginia

Contributed by Chelsea Barnes, Solar Industry

[In April Governor Ralph Northam signed the Solar Freedom Act and the Virginia
Clean Economy Act into law]. The new laws set up enormous opportunity for solar developers in Virginia’s coalfields. To boost the potential even more, eight local governments in the region achieved SolSmart designation in 2019, setting themselves up to more readily facilitate solar development. Over the past four years, the Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia has readied the region for solar energy development through education, collaboration and advocacy, but its efforts were stymied by policy inequities and regulatory barriers. Now, the new laws mean solar developers can walk through the region’s door of opportunity and deliver the solar services so many people are seeking. Read more here.

Chelsea Barnes is the New Economy Program Manager for Appalachian Voices, a regional environmental advocacy nonprofit. Photo Credit: Appalachian Voices

Previously Posted

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

NEW INDIANA COALITION

Farmer-focused renewable energy coalition formed, AgriNews
The Indiana Agriculture Coalition for Renewable Energy announced its formation across the state following two informational conference calls in March and April. The conference calls convened farmers, landowners, renewable energy developers, nonprofits and corporations to discuss knowledge and resource gaps related to the intersection of renewable energy and agriculture in Indiana.

GREEN CAMPUSES

MISO NEWS

MISO deploys GridUnity platform to streamline electric generation interconnection, GridUnity News Release, PR Newswire

The GridUnity platform has been deployed by utilities and ISO/RTOs across 17 U.S. states to date. Learn more at https://gridunity.com.

Prior to the GridUnity solution, MISO engineers were manually reviewing each application in detail. With the new GridUnity tool, applicants receive immediate, automated feedback if an entry is incomplete, ensuring all submitted applications meet established standards. MISO staff will now be able to review and respond to submitted applications in a fraction of the time that was previously required, providing guidance throughout the rest of the interconnection process. This will create a fully transparent and near-real-time interconnection queue, freeing engineers to spend their time addressing the higher-value needs of their customers.

WOODEN WIND TURBINE TOWERS

Wooden Turbine Towers Promise To Push Wind Industry To Greater Heights, contributed by Mike Scott, Forbes. A new design for wind turbine towers could see them made from wood rather than steel, soaring to ever-greater heights and producing more power, if a new trial proves successful.

FORECASTING THE WIND

Thanks To Renewables And Machine Learning, Google Now Forecasts The Wind, by Jeff McMahon, Senior Contributor, Forbes

Google and the Google-owned Artificial Intelligence firm DeepMind combined weather data with power data from 700 megawatts of wind energy that Google sources in the Central United States. Using machine learning, they have been able to better predict wind production, better predict electricity supply and demand, and as a result, reduce operating costs.  In a Deepmind blog post, they outline how they boosted profits for Google’s wind farms in the Southwest Power Pool, an energy market that stretches across the plains from the Canadian border to north Texas:

EV CHARGING

Retail co-location may prove key to sustainable funding for EV charging, panel finds, Utility Dive Adding charging facilities at retail and restaurant locations is one of the most profitable ways to increase EV infrastructure, a senior project manager at Atlas Public Policy said during a Wednesday webinar hosted by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions that also featured representatives from Georgia Power and EVgo.

RECOMMENDED KIDS’ BOOKS

Stop the Summer Reading Slide With Eco-Themed Kids’ Books

Municipal aggregation savings ‘shattering expectations’ in Massachusetts

By  Sarah Shemkus, Energy News Network

The growing number of Massachusetts cities and towns that have negotiated community-wide rates for green energy have saved millions of dollars while also shrinking their carbon footprints, according to a new report released last week.

“The data shows we’re kind of shattering expectations,” said Larry Chretien, executive director of the Green Energy Consumers Alliance, the nonprofit group that put out the report. “You can add green power and still provide consumers with an opportunity to save money.” Read more here. 

Photo Credit:  Robert Laliberte / Flickr / Creative Commons

GREEN MUNICIPAL AGGREGATION 


Also known as community choice aggregation (CCA), this model allows cities and towns in MA & RI to take real climate action by greening up residents’ electricity supply.

 

MORE MASSACHUSETTS NEWS STORIES BY SARAH SHEMKUS

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

MORE CAMPUS ADVOCACY FOR 100% RENEWABLES 

FSU Students push for commitment to 100% renewable energy on FSU campus, Florida State University News. “Students across the country are vocalizing support for transitioning to 100% renewable energy sources,” said Ryann Lynn, Clean Energy Advocate for Environment Florida. “Thirty-six colleges have already committed to that evolution, but FSU could be the first university in Florida.”

ENVIRONMENT AMERICA RESOURCES

Renewable Energy 101: Ten Tools for Moving Your Campus to 100% Clean Energy
Environment America designed a series of 10 fact sheets as a resource for students, faculty and administrators interested in moving their campus toward sustainability. The fact sheets have been crafted to illustrate the importance, challenges and opportunities of 10 important and distinct tools associated with building a 100 percent clean, renewable energy system. Each fact sheet includes two case studies of effective action on college campuses, as well as a list of resources.

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

Brouillette: 100% renewables may be possible, E&E News
Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette suggested [on Friday] it could one day be possible for the United States to reach 100% renewable energy, a goal of climate change activists. Testifying before a House Appropriations energy subcommittee, Brouillette said the Department of Energy is committed to developing large-scale battery storage to increase the use of renewable energy. Brouillette noted that the Trump administration’s 2021 DOE budget request calls for more money for an “Energy Storage Grand Challenge” to develop battery capacity. Many environmental advocates want Congress to push the country to 100% clean energy within a decade, a goal that Republicans have greeted with skepticism.

INSTITUTIONAL INVESTORS GROWING THE ENERGY STORAGE MARKET

Energy storage projects reach ‘investment-grade’ with esVolta’s $140 million debt facility, PV Magazine. It’s energy storage projects as investment-grade finance tools for institutional investors that will grow the energy storage market to $546 billion in annual revenue by 2035, as predicted by Lux Research or grow the business tenfold from 2018 to 2023, rising to $5 billion annually, according to Wood Mackenzie.

BIFACIAL SOLAR PANELS

Trina unveils two 500-watt bifacial solar modules, PV Magazine
The panels are equipped with glass-glass or glass-backsheet frames. Both offer a reported 21% efficiency. Trina plans to have a combined 5 GW of annual production capacity for the products this year.

NREL MULTI-YEAR STUDY

Bifacial Solar Advances with the Times—and the Sun: Multi-Year Study Evaluates Two-Sided Tracking Systems for More Efficient Solar Power Generation

In May 2019, a team at NREL kicked off a three-year study to evaluate bifacial modules that collect light on both sides of a panel while also following the sun throughout the day. To determine how much more power such panels can produce, the team needed data, so they are gathering it. Some of their data are already publicly available—an industry first for a study of this scale.