Three Graphs from New GMU/Yale Survey Show Overwhelming Support for Climate Action, Clean Energy

November 19th, 2014

A new survey from George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication and Yale’s Project on Climate Change Communication has some encouraging results about U.S. public opinion on climate change and clean energy. Here are three graphs we thought were well worth sharing  The key points are: 1) 67% of Americans support what is, essentially, the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan to limit carbon pollution from existing, coal-fired power plants; 2) Americans overwhelmingly support policies – like Renewable Portfolio Standards, R&D, tax rebates – to promote clean energy; and 3) only 16% of Americans actively refuse to believe the science on climate change. Now, we just need policymakers to translate the wishes of the American people into action.

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (11/19/14)

November 19th, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (11/19/14).

  1. Climate Progress reports, “The U.S. Senate has narrowly rejected a bill to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, the controversial project that would carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast of the United States.”
  2. RenewEconomy explains “How Australian utilities will cope with solar and storage.”
  3. Greentech Media has “5 Slides That Show Why SunEdison Bought First Wind.”
  4. The Checks and Balances Project asks, “Is Virginia Tech’s Coal Center Director Evading Questions to Shield Donors?”
  5. Politico reports: “Never mind the cliffhanger defeat for the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Even if the Senate had passed the bill Tuesday, hints are mounting that President Barack Obama has hardened his stance against the $8 billion project and would veto any legislation greenlighting it, whether it comes from the current Democratic Senate or next year’s Republican Senate.”

New Poll Finds Maryland Voters Support Solar by More than 4:1; Oppose Coal

November 19th, 2014

Another day, another poll showing overwhelming support for clean energy. This time it’s a poll of Maryland voters, commissioned by Ethical Electric. Also note that Maryland voters have a highly favorable view of wind, and a net unfavorable view of coal. Hopefully, Maryland’s new governor will keep all this in mind as he formulates Maryland’s energy policy in coming years.

Maryland voters support solar energy by a more than four to one ratio, say it’s the top energy technology they’d support if they were in charge of state policy, and want the state to be a solar leader, according to a new poll commissioned by Ethical Electric.

Solar is the most popular form of renewable energy in Maryland. 64% of voters have a favorable opinion of it, compared to just 13% who have an unfavorable opinion of the zero emission technology. All other forms of renewable energy performed well, including wind (57% favorable, 21% unfavorable), geothermal (56% favorable, 11% unfavorable), and hydropower (63% favorable, 8% unfavorable).

“The message is clear: solar power is incredibly popular with Maryland’s voters and they want their government to help it grow across the state,” said Tom Matzzie, CEO of Ethical Electric. “Solar’s a winner with Democrats and Republicans – Governor-elect Larry Hogan should keep this mandate in mind as he assembles his administration and begins to shape policy.”

And if the average Maryland voter were governor for a day, solar power would shine. 37% would provide financial support to solar if they were in charge of the state’s energy policy and could choose one technology to support. No other form of energy came close – natural gas (14%) and wind power (13%) were the only other energy sources with double-digit support.

64% of voters also say it’s important for Maryland to be a solar leader – a concerning result considering Maryland is outside the top ten in the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s cumulative installed solar capacity ranking and the Solar Energy Industries Association’s state ranking for solar installed in 2014. Indeed, 43% of voters say state government is not involved enough in solar power promotion.

While voters also support natural gas (69% favorable, 9% unfavorable), a majority of voters are against coal (37% favorable, 41% unfavorable), and oil is supported by less than half of all voters (44% favorable, 29% unfavorable). Nuclear power is also supported by less than half of all voters (43% favorable, 31% unfavorable), highlighting a clear trend against energy technologies that create large amounts of carbon pollution or pose major environmental threats.

Solar support is consistent across party lines. 63% of Democrats, 59% of Republicans, and 62% of Independents view it favorably.

    Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (11/18/14)

    November 18th, 2014

    Here are five recommended reads for today (11/18/14).

    1. Greentech Media reports: “SunEdison and its YieldCo TerraForm just acquired wind developer First Wind for $2.4 billion. It means SunEdison is in the wind business and can now add wind projects to the solar project pipeline of its YieldCo, TerraForm. The purchase price was comprised of $1.9 billion in an upfront payment and a $510 million earn-out.”
    2. According to Renewable Energy World: “The new era in Congress may mean trouble for some old tax breaks. The wind energy tax credit, championed by environmentalists, Democrats, a few Republicans and companies including General Electric Co. and Siemens AG, may be imperiled as its most important backers in Congress lose clout.”
    3. The Washington Post reports, “The U.S. Forest Service has backed off a proposal to ban fracking in the George Washington National Forest, a move likely to upset conservationists who oppose the controversial drilling practice.”
    4. According to the Washington Post’s Wonkblog, “Another reason to be outraged over Congress’ Keystone bill: It gives one company special treatment.”
    5. The New York Times reports: “In detailed proposals submitted in May and August, the public relations firm Edelman outlined a plan to investigate groups that had opposed Energy East, a pipeline in development by TransCanada. Edelman urged TransCanada to develop its own sympathetic supporters and spread any unflattering findings about the opposition.”

    Study Shows Clean Energy Creates Lots of Jobs; Fossil Fuel Industry Allies Hide It

    November 18th, 2014

    Clearly, fossil fuel forces will go to great lengths to denigrate renewable energy. For instance, we’ve seen them hype false “scandals,” like Solyndra, which turned out to be untrue on every level.  We’ve also heard their repeated refrains about how clean energy supposedly requires heavy subsidies (in fact, fossil fuels receive many times the subsidies that clean energy get) to be competitive with fossil fuels, even as the costs of solar and wind plummet, to the point where they’re now cheaper than new coal or nuclear power plants.

    In fact, according to a recent Deutsche Bank projection, solar power will reach “grid parity in 50 U.S. states by 2016… setting the scene for a dramatic increase in the uptake in household and commercial rooftop solar.” Which is, of course, exactly what the fossil fuel industry is afraid of: that solar, wind, energy efficiency, and other forms of clean energy are poised to out-compete them and ultimately drive them out of business.

    It’s in that context that we read this article by the Columbus Dispatch.

    A state agency paid almost $435,000 for a survey to tally clean-energy jobs in Ohio but never released the results.

    The Ohio Development Services Agency says the study went unused because it was based on dubious methods and came to flawed conclusions.

    Others, including experts in survey methods, disagree with this assessment and are perplexed by the criticism.

    The report, not seen by the public until today, sat on a shelf at a time when its subject matter was relevant to a heated legislative debate about whether to change standards for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

    As it turns out, the shelved study found encouraging news for renewable energy jobs in Ohio. For instance, the state “had 31,322 jobs in the state’s ‘alternative energy economy’ as of 2012, a number that is larger than other commonly cited studies.” Why does this matter? The  Columbus Dispatch explains.

    Each one of those points could have been relevant in the recent debate over Senate Bill 310, signed by Gov. John Kasich in June. The measure puts a two-year freeze on state standards for renewable energy and energy efficiency, and it makes a variety of other changes that critics say will damage the state’s green economy.

    During the debate over the bill, opponents repeatedly said that 25,000 jobs were at stake, a statistic from a 2012 study commissioned by a trade group for green-energy companies. The opponents did not know that the state had paid for a survey that says the industry is 25 percent larger.

    What all this demonstrates it that the fossil fuel industry, and the politicians they fund, are nothing if not audacious.  Other words for their behavior would be “shameless” and “dishonest.” In this case, the fossil fuel folks’ claim that clean energy doesn’t create many jobs was proven totally false, apparently causing their allies to scramble to hide evidence showing the exact opposite. Does that sound like an industry confident in its arguments — or, for that matter, in its very future?