Archive for September, 2010

Will Coal’s Appalachian Legacy be Repeated in Developing Nations?

Posted By admin on September 29th, 2010

Mountain Top Removal (MTR) is the “nuclear option” of mining, providing the heavily subsidized likes of Massey Energy Company cheap access to the dirtiest fuel on earth.

MTR obliterates streams and wildlife, salts the surrounding lands with dirt and rock, and poisons local communities and their residents. It does all this, while shrinking mining jobs and killing whatever economy coal mining can legitimately create.

One might ask at this point, how is it that something this destructive, this wasteful, can be sanctioned by our government?

In Washington, D.C. Monday morning, hundreds of protestors organized by Appalachia Rising, a grassroots movement dedicated to stopping MTR, gathered to ask this question and demand answers.

Appalachia Rising protestors gather in D.C. on Monday morning.

I watched from the sidewalk as this group of retired coal miners, Appalachia residents and supporters gathered in their hiking boots and tank tops. They carried signs with names of mountains that should only be found on hiking trail maps. Instead their names are painted in bright paint on cardboard gravestones that read: ‘RIP King Mountain: -2009.’ An Appalachia memorial for mountains gone forever in the name of cheap coal.

This group of brave souls gathered in Freedom Square – right smack in between the White House and the offices of the Environmental Protection Agency on Pennsylvania Avenue.

They cheered, they sang and they marched against something that is so unfathomable and irreparable, it shouldn’t be subsidized, it should be illegal.

Climate scientist Dr. James Hansen addresses the crowd during the Appalachia Rising protest.

“We need to see though the lies of the monied interests,” climate scientist Dr. James Hansen yelled to the crowd before marching to the White House to be arrested, along with dozens of other demonstrators, for his non-violent protest. “As long as fossil fuels are the cheapest energy sources, we will suffer from the addiction.”

Ah, yes, The Addiction.

Even the most successful fossil fuel magnets understand, and publicly admit, that Americans are addicted to fossil fuels in terrible and profound ways. Ironically, just as this protest was capturing news attention around the country, along comes the latest propaganda line from the dirty energy lobbyists. Now, coal lobbyists are concerned – concerned! – about the world’s poor. They want to address the “Energy Poverty” through more…. Coal.

“I submit that the greatest crisis we confront in the 21st century is not an environmental crisis predicted by computer models, but a human crisis fully within our power to solve,” said Gregory Boyce, chairman of U.S.-based Peabody Energy Corp., in a recent speech at the World Energy Congress

According to Shawn McCarthy of CTV News.com, Mr. Boyce’s language “is being echoed throughout the fossil-fuel industry, in speeches, conventions and editorial board meetings. Executives from coal and oil companies clearly see an opportunity to turn the debate from their own emissions problems to addressing ‘energy poverty.’ In doing so, they’re looking to put themselves on the side of the angels, in contrast to demonization from environmental groups.”

Besieged by groups such as Appalachia Rising and a growing public uncertainty about fossil fuels, Big Coal is looking for some breathing room. Just as Big Tobacco pushed its cancer-producing products out to poor and under-educated populations as developed nations began regulating their drug, Big Coal wants to tap the same emerging markets. They want to bring to the world’s poor the long-term consequences of coal are widespread and irrevocable.

Before the developing world buys this disastrous status quo, they should listen to the people of Appalachia.

Margaret, a poet from Louisville, KY, holds up a sign protesting Mountain Top Removal.

“It breaks my heart what we’re doing to the land and the people and the future,” said Appalachia Rising protestor Margaret, a poet from Louisville, KY. “I’ve been hopeful for a long time and I thought it would change by now. But other movements take a long time and you don’t see the results as the incremental change take place.”

Incremental change might sound like a plausible plan to those “working” in their EPA and White House offices. But it is an unpardonable defense for the blown up mountains whose remains are dumped in Appalachian valleys, away from public view.

And that’s just as Big Coal wants it.

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WSJ Shows its Bias Against Renewables Again

Posted By mikec on September 23rd, 2010

Even by its own, basement-floor standard on hypocrisy and selective omission, the recent Wall Street Journal editorial tisk-tisking Senator Harry Reid for raising money from renewable energy companies is laughable. The WSJ can’t say enough bad things about smart pro-renewable policies, but completely omits the hundreds of billions of dollars given to highly profitable, mature dirty energy companies – by politicians who raise money from those industries.

The WSJ hasn’t lately called out all politicians for their energy company ties, such as the $1.4 million dollars Big Oil and Big Gas companies have given to Representative Joe Barton? Or the $2.6 million they have funneled to Senator John McCain? (Unfortunately for the American citizen, that list of relationships goes on and on….)

Perhaps they (read Rubert Murdoch) have their own relationship with Big Oil and Big Gas?

If we’re going to sing the free markets mantra, then can’t we muster the outrage at giving ExxonMobil our tax money? The Wall Street Journal editorial page’s ideological soul mate, the Cato Institute, can’t seem to do that in its online book on government waste. We just got done reading it and despite railing against pro-renewable policies, there’s not a word about kicking oil and coal companies off welfare.

Why? Maybe it’s because, well, the Cato Institute is a front group used by dirty energy companies for propaganda help. It makes sense then that the same PR firms doing work for the dirty energy lobbyists would coax the Wall Street Journal into the same line that somehow government support is an indication of maturity.

If that’s the case, then when (as we’ve asked before) do oil and coal grow up, and lose the teenage acne? They’ve only been around for over a hundred years.

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Taking Action to Grow Solar

Posted By admin on September 20th, 2010

Americans love solar energy and 92 percent of them are demanding greater access to it.

It’s hard to get that many Americans to agree on anything – let alone something as politically charged as energy. And yet, solar energy generates that kind of support.

Americans understand that solar is a solution to many of the problems facing us today. Solar reduces pollution. It reduces our use of finite energy sources. And it reduces our dependence on foreign sources of oil.

Despite these real and immediate benefits, the solar industry continues to face restrictions on its growth. Some local governments have enacted time-consuming and/or expensive solar installation procedures. Yet other limitations are imposed by neighborhood associations who are supposedly concerned with solar “aesthetics,” while completely ignoring the dozens of power lines lining their streets.

While these types of regulations are counterproductive to solar’s growth, the biggest obstacle to the solar industry is the billions of dollars in subsidies Big Oil and Big Coal continue to receive from the federal government.

For almost a century, dirty fuel companies have used tax credits and other public funds to grow their coffers and political reach. But today, the finite resources they’ve been pulling from beneath the earth are diminishing as quickly as their toxic carbon footprint is growing. As this year’s mining and drilling accidents have shown us, the past and present course of tax subsidies, aggressive digging and unintended environmental consequences have now reached a very scary point.

A shift must be made.

The solar industry recognizes this and is ready with needed solutions. The Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) has launched the Solar Bill of Rights Campaign, a grassroots movement working to educate Americans about solar energy and provide the answers to our energy needs.

Driven by frustration created by the climate bill collapse and the continued pressure by dirty energy industry lobbyists, Americans are no longer remaining silent. Over 30,000 of us have signed the Solar Bill of Rights in the past few weeks, creating a growing movement for energy change. Later this fall, SEIA’s president, Rhone Resch, will march the Solar Bill of Rights into the halls of Congress and demand the roadblocks to solar’s growth be lifted.

Be a part of this important moment and add you name to the Solar Bill of Rights today. Help change the destructive course we are on and create the kind of future we deserve.

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SPG’s Tom Rooney mounts the right defense of solar from way-off WSJ ed page

Posted By mikec on September 1st, 2010

Wall Street Journal editorial page stands in line of pundits and editorial pages to talk about how renewables and solar are “costly” and “not ready.” This nonsense comes from the heavily subsidized and destructive coal and oil industries.

Tom Rooney of SPG Solar pushes back with a great piece on Renewable Energy World:

“Solar is not a cause, it is a business with real benefits for its customers … Today, around the world, more than a million people work in the wind and solar business.”

We think Mr. Rooney is dead-on, and said so at REW and here:

I look forward to these same pundits, all of whom have long-expressed concerns about government spending, vigorously calling for ending the hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies, tax breaks, pollution forgiveness, and research grants that coal and oil annually enjoy in the U.S. and abroad.

Those century-old energy sources are comprised of some of the most profitable corporations in the history of the world. Do they really need our tax money to get by, especially when Americans want deficits cut and renewable energy supported?

And, if government support is a sign of supposed “immaturity,” at what point do the coal and oil companies lose the teenage acne and grow up?

Let’s kick Massey Energy and ExxonMobil off government welfare, then have a conversation about whose technology is “costly.”

We need a lot more people in solar companies aggressively pushing back against dirty energy propaganda, which directly affects the market positioning and sales environment for solar.

Solar Fred has called for much the same thing.

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