Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe Invited to Join People’s Climate March on Sunday

September 19th, 2014

The following letter has been sent to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, inviting him to join with tens of thousands of others in New York City this Sunday for the People’s Climate March.

September 18, 2014

The Honorable Terry McAuliffe
Governor, Commonwealth of Virginia
P.O. Box 1475
Richmond, VA 23218

Dear Governor McAuliffe:

As you are well aware, climate change is a crisis that requires urgent and effective action. Earlier this year, the authoritative National Climate Assessment (NCA) found “unambiguous” evidence that human activities – particularly the burning of coal, oil and natural gas – are causing climate change. And, although it might feel cool and pleasant in Virginia right now, according to data from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, last month was the hottest ever recorded worldwide.  Clearly, with the threat of surging seas on the Virginia coast, stronger storms, more intense heat waves, and many other problems, this is an issue we no longer have the luxury of ignoring.

Fortunately, we are starting to see action. In June, as you know, the Environmental Protection Agency issued much-needed draft rules on carbon pollution, rules that will require Virginia and other states to develop compliance plans in coming months. This represents a tremendous economic opportunity for states like Virginia, with its abundant offshore wind resources, and tremendous opportunities for energy efficiency, distributed solar power and cleantech innovation generally. We presume that we are preaching to the converted on this, as your own 2009 gubernatorial campaign’s energy plan laid out a vision for requiring Virginia power companies to generate 25% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025. The fact is, from a business and economic perspective, this is a win-win-win proposition for Virginia and for the country as a whole. As your friend, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, recently argued, ”If we come together to make the hard choices, the smart investment in infrastructure, technology and environmental protection, America can be the clean energy superpower for the 21st century.” We couldn’t agree more.

In addition to action by government agencies and politicians, we are also excited to see a powerful grassroots movement pushing for immediate action to combat global warming. A superb example of this will take place on Sunday, September 21 in New York City, with the largest climate march in history — tens of thousands of people participating in the People’s Climate March. This historic event will include representatives from the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition, the Virginia Tech University Environmental Coalition, the Sierra Club, 350.org, and many others.

Given that you will be in New York this weekend, we invite you to join us at the march. You can show true leadership and add your voice as we demand immediate, strong action to combat climate change. As Hillary Clinton explained earlier this month, global warming constitutes “the most consequential, urgent, sweeping collection of challenges we face.”  She’s absolutely right, of course. Now it’s time for action.

Thank you very much.

Best,

350 Loudoun
Alliance for Progressive Values
Chesapeake Climate Action Network
Climate Action Alliance of the Valley
Climate Action Society at the University of Virginia
Coalition for Smarter Growth
eNRG – Energizing Renewable Growth in Holston Valley
Environment Virginia
Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions
James Madison University Earth Club
Organizing for Action VA
Old Dominion University EcoReps
Old Dominion University Social Entrepreneurs Council
Old Dominion Environmental Health and Safety Department
Our Task, Inc.
People’s Climate March Students of the College of William and Mary
Piedmont Environmental Council
Sierra Club Mt Vernon Group
Sierra Club Shenandoah Group
Sierra Club Virginia Chapter
Sierra Club Great Falls Group
Sierra Club York River Group
VCU Environmental Coalition
Virginia Organizing
Virginia Student Environmental Coalition
Wild Virginia

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (9/19/14)

September 19th, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (9/19/14).

  1. At the NRDC Switchboard blog, David Doniger discusses “A One-Two Punch to Curb Powerful Climate Pollutants — Carbon Dioxide from the Power Sector and Methane from the Oil and Gas Industry.”
  2. A new report by the Center for American Progress finds, “By investing $200B/yr in efficiency & renewables, US can cut 40% CO2 while generating ~3M new jobs.”
  3. The Wall Street Journal reports, “Keystone Pipeline Cost Expected to Double, TransCanada CEO Says.”
  4. The White House issues a fact sheet detailing new “Executive Actions and Commitments from Across the Country to Advance Solar Deployment and Energy Efficiency.”
  5. RenewEconomy reports, “Just two months after Australia’s Abbott government achieved the dubious honour of becoming the first in the world to abolish a national carbon pricing scheme, more than 350 global institutional investors representing around $24 trillion in assets have called on government leaders across the globe to put a price on carbon, to help redirect investment on the scale required to combat climate change.

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (9/18/14)

September 18th, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (9/18/14).

  1. The NRDC Switchboard blog reports: “Today, from the U.S. Department of Energy and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory released Tracking the Sun VII—the seventh Tracking the Sun report since 2009…Tracking documents how incredibly fast solar is growing here in the U.S. And it also reinforces just how important pro-solar policies are to that growth—creating a huge number of jobs, helping mitigate climate change, and giving our kids cleaner air to breathe.”
  2. According to the Financial Times, “Large wind farms and solar plants are now cost-competitive with gas-fired power in many parts of the US even without subsidy, according to Lazard, raising the prospect of a fundamental shift in the country’s energy market.”
  3. The Hill reports, “The Obama administration unveiled a slew of actions Thursday aimed at improving energy efficiency and increasing the use of solar power in homes and businesses, including $68 million in spending.”
  4. Mother Jones investigates China’s “Great Frack Forward,” noting that China’s “coal addiction threatens the planet,” and wondering whether it can “handle a natural gas revolution.”
  5. Scientific American report: “Last month, General Electric (GE) consulting presented the results of a U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) sponsored study testing if wind turbines can be controlled to manage the stability of the electric grid. The authors found that wind turbines might actually be a valuable tool for controlling and stabilizing the grid in the future, disputing the conventional notion that wind energy doesn’t play well with the grid.”

“Better Growth, Better Climate” Report Says “Next 15 Years Are Crucial” for Switch to Clean Energy

September 18th, 2014

A new report by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate is well worth reading. Entitled “Better Growth, Better Climate,” its bottom-line conclusion is a powerful and compelling one:: “Investments to help fight climate change can also spur economic growth, rather than slow it as widely feared, but time is running short for a trillion-dollar shift to transform cities and energy use.”  A few more key points are:

  • The next 15 years are crucial – and require urgent action – for transforming the world’s energy system in order to head off disastrous global warming. These 15 years “could be an era of great progress and growth.”
  • “We have the technological, financial and human resources to raise living standards across the world.” Now we just need good policies to make that happen.
  • “US$45 trillion will be required in 2015–2030 for key categories of energy infrastructure. How that money is spent is critically important: it can help build robust, flexible energy systems that will serve countries well for decades to come, or it can lock in an energy infrastructure that exposes countries to future market volatility, air pollution, and other environmental and social stresses.”
  • “Much of the needed investment in low-carbon infrastructure can be handled through existing structures and mechanisms, with the help of effective policy, regulation and market signals. But for some investments – most notably a low-carbon transition in the power sector – creating efficient finance structures and attracting finance is more challenging and may require dedicated policy.”
  • Among the key recommendations are things we’ve been advocating for years: “Phase out subsidies for fossil fuels;” “Scale up innovation in key low-carbon and climate-resilient technologies and remove barriers to entrepreneurship and creativity;” and “aim for a global phase-out of  unabated fossil fuel power generation by 2050.”

Given the plummeting cost of clean, renewable energy, these goals are now more doable than ever. The big question is: how long fossil fuel industries will keep national and state-level governments in their grip, slowing and otherwise impeding progress towards the vision laid out in this excellent new report?

NRG President David Crane Calls on Young People to Demand Clean Energy Future

September 18th, 2014

by Mark Sokolove, Executive Vice President of Tigercomm

We recently wrote about how NRG President and CEO David Crane is one utility executive who “gets it” when it comes to the inevitability of a transition from dirty to clean energy. As Crane said, far from trying to fight what’s coming, his belief is that utilities need to be “looking toward the future, with solar, energy retailers and electric vehicle networks all under the corporate umbrella…ready for a new energy landscape that is vastly different.”  Which, of course, is exactly the right attitude to have, for reasons of pure economic self interest no doubt, but also for the future of the planet.

Now, David Crane has written a piece specifically with future generations in mind. Addressed to students and young people in general, Crane writes:

The irony is that an old guy like me thinks about 2050 every day. Perhaps even more worth considering is that every day decisions are being made by me and people like me that will deeply impact you in 2050. Decisions are being made to build multi-billion dollar power generation facilities and related infrastructure—some clean, some not so clean—that will still be fulfilling your energy needs in 2050 and, while you will certainly enjoy the fruits of our labor, you also will have to live with any negative side effects. We can invest now to mitigate against the future systemic risk of climate change or we can keep doing what we are doing and kick the can down the road to you.

See that’s the thing.

Whether it be carbon capture, distributed solar, smart thermostats or electric vehicles, the technology exists now to bring about a clean energy economy and a sustainable society. But it is always easier in an established society to perpetuate the status quo than it is to effect change. What we need is for you to demand control over your own energy choices so that you can make the choices that are right for you and your generation.

Crane concludes with a call to action, which seems particularly appropriate with the People’s Climate March and other important, climate-related events coming up next week. With tens of thousands of young people converging on New York City to make their desire for a clean and sustainable energy future loud and clear, and with far-sighted utility industry leaders on their side, the chances of victory appear greater than ever.  Let’s make sure we seize this opportunity and not let the dying-yet-still-politically-powerful fossil fuel industries, who are growing more anxious by the minute over the financial threat clean energy poses to their profitability and even viability, snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.