Battery Bat Houses for Hydroelectric Projects

Bat Houses from scrap volt battery casesEagle Scout Matthew Netherland has developed a creative way to help bats who live near hydroelectric projects. Using discarded scrap Volt battery covers donated by GM, Netherland built 22 bat houses for Consumers Energy to install in their energy properties.

“This project connects a lot of environmental dots,” said Rich Castle, Consumers Energy’s natural resource manager for hydro generation. “Hydro dams generate clean electricity, and cars that run on electricity are a cleaner form of transportation. The battery covers from the electric-powered vehicles are being kept out of landfills, and by being utilized as bat homes they allow biodiversity to thrive along the river habitats that produce renewable energy.”

About 100 or more bats can live in each bat box, which includes five chambers. Netherland, a friend and two adult mentors helped build the bat boxes in about two months that will be installed by Consumers Energy.

“I’m thankful that GM had the perfect shell for the bat box plans, and that Consumers Energy has great locations to place the boxes,” said Netherland from Boy Scout Troop 185 from Clarkston, Michigan. “Both companies have been great to work with, very encouraging and generous.”

Emily McDonald, environmental engineer for GM who coordinated with Netherland on his project, added, “I’m so impressed by Matthew’s energy and dedication to this project. We’ve worked with renowned bat experts on our bat house design and are grateful that we can partner with others who share our passion for conservation and will help us make a lasting impact. The Volt covers are made with durable material and will result in wildlife nesting opportunities for a long time.”

CGI America Launches Feed-Out Program

The world is about to see the first market-based, fixed-price funding program for solar and renewable technologies through a Feed-Out Program. The program, the brain-child of the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) and Demeter Power Group, has a goal of helping modernize the nation’s power grid with distributed energy.

Clinton Global Initiative logo“The Feed-Out Program will bring together independent power producers and financiers to enable the lowest-cost, fixed-price offering for renewable energy,” said Michael Wallander, Demeter Power Group founder and president. “But unlike other similar ‘feed-in-tariff’ programs, the energy will be used on the customer-side of the meter.”

According to CGI, $1 trillion a year – a total of $36 trillion – is needed for investment in sustainable energy infrastructure to successfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2050. The Program will help tackle this challenge focusing primarily on funding for solar energy while also enabling cost-effective investment in energy storage, fuel cells and electrical vehicle car charging stations.

Yann Brandt, Demeter Co-Founder and EVP of Development noted, “What retail tenant or business owner would not want to save money on their energy bills while offering customers and employees the ability to shade their cars and power up with solar energy? We enable funding for solar-powered carports with electric vehicle charging stations at a net-negative cost to the customer.”

Demeter Power Group logoDemeter is contributing its finance mechanism – PACE3P – to help overcome credit-related challenges that have prevented scalable finance programs in the past. Demeter explained that PACE3P ties services fees to the buildings where the energy is used through a voluntary assessment on property tax bills.

Initially the Program will make financing available to commercial properties located in Northern California communities participating in the California FIRST property assessed clean energy (PACE) Program offered through the California Statewide Community Development Authority. Interested participants must register with Demeter to participate in the platform, which is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2015.

U.S. Mayors Expand Climate Protection Agreement

U.S. Mayors have signed a revised climate protection agreement that for the first time focuses on local actions to adapt cities to changing climate conditions. The agreement is also aims to build grassroots support for local conversation efforts. The action took place during the 82nd Annual U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) meeting where one area of focus was climate change and the role energy efficiency and renewable energy could play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon.

14307537950_ca123598fd_zThe Agreement also urges federal and state governments to enact bipartisan legislation, policies and programs to assist mayors in their efforts to lead the nation toward energy independence. Following the signing ceremony, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Environmental Protection Administrator Gina McCarthy congratulated the Conference on their work and engaged in an interactive discussion with mayors from the audience.

USCM President Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said mayors have been leaders on climate protection, whether it’s cutting carbon emissions or preparing their communities for the effects of climate change. “In the 3.0 era, mayors are innovating, working with the best and the brightest, to lead on climate. Mayors are getting smart about sustainability. We’re moving from fossil fuels to alternative fuels, from waste to reuse. Mayors are using technology and innovation to do what we couldn’t do ten years ago. We’re boosting our economies and protecting our climate at the same time.”

The climate initiative was first launched 10 years ago in February of 2005 and at the time the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement was a landmark pledge by mayors from all across the country to take local action to reduce carbon emissions from city operation and by the community at large, consistent with the goals of the Kyoto Protocol. More than 1060 mayors signed the Agreement, mostly representing larger cities. Since then, USCM has been recognizing mayors for their successful efforts through its annual Mayors’ Climate Protection Awards.

USCM Energy independence and Climate Protection Task Force Co-Chair and Bridgeport, CT Mayor Bill Finch noted, “This is not a cause for mayors. This is a pragmatic problem that requires pragmatic solutions. Mayors across the country are investing in the future by tackling climate change head on. And, those who have signed onto the U.S. Conference of Mayors agreement have made more progress on beating back climate change in their cities than those who have not. Continue reading

Book Review: A Bird on Water Street

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to wake up, walk outside and there were no animals, livingA Bird on Water Street things others than humans and nothing was green but all brown? Well this is the world of Jack, growing up in a Southern Appalachian copper mining town. The environment is so bad that the air eats through a pair of pantyhose in a matter of minutes. “A Bird on Water Street” is a young adult (and adult) story about the environmental turn-around of Tennessee town, “Coppertown”.

Based on a true story, author Elizabeth O. Dulemba explores the relationship between the environmental devastation due to copper mining and how the efforts of one boy, Jake, can turn a city around and make a difference.

Bird on Water Street explores several key environment and advocacy issues including:

  • Issues around copper mining and the devastating effects it has on the local environment.
  • How taking small actions to better our surroundings can make a big difference.
  • The challenges that many young people face, including bullying, death, pregnancy, and drugs and how they can navigate the issues.
  • Why having a sense of community is so important, especially for the growth and development of the community’s youngest members.

It’s hard to imagine living in a world with a “dead” environment, wide-spread disease, death and other health issues, but through the voice of Jack, you not only imagine it, you are both sad for him, his friends and his town. And you can’t help but cheer for him when he begins to discover elements of the environment that he realizes he is missing and he takes small steps to make change: growing a garden and planting a tree. Eventually, the whole town, after a strike and the closing of the mine, bands together on reclamation efforts and a new town is “reborn”.

I enjoyed the book and the authenticity of the voices of Jack and his friends and families. For parents who are looking for ways to encourage their children to become an active player in environmental efforts or young adults looking for inspiration and ideas, this is a great book to begin that journey.

Using the Sun to Save Sea Turtles

Researchers in Panama are using the sun to save sea turtles. A new state-of-the-art clean solar energy system, installed and designed by FTL Global Solutions, is helping Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) protect Leatherback hatchlingsendangered turtles at its new research station on Soropta Beach, Panama. The rugged solar system provides electricity for lighting, security, water and cooking needs as STC biologists work throughout the night protecting endangered leatherback turtles and their hatchlings at one of the most important nesting beaches for this species in the Atlantic.

Soropta Beach, a remote black-sand beach on Panama’s Caribbean coast, is home to a large nesting colony of leatherback sea turtles. Unfortunately, for years Soropta’s leatherbacks and their nests have been illegally harvested by poachers who kill the turtles for their meat and raid nests to steal the eggs. STC’s conservation program is helping prevent poaching by protecting nests, monitoring nesting activity, and building support for turtle conservation with the local community. The work takes place out of a rustic station, where the lack of electricity made the work extremely challenging – until now.

“The new solar energy system installed by FTL New FTL Solar Energy Panels Global Solutions is making our conservation efforts more effective and safe,” said STC executive director David Godfrey.

STC’s conservation efforts began in 2013 when it acquired an old farm house and began upgrading it to FTL Solar Energy Panels at STCaccommodate a year-round turtle protection program. Part of the upgrades included LED lighting designed not to disorient the turtles. STC then hired and trained local community members to assist with the research and conservation work. However, without a year-round conservation presence at Soropta, poachers would move back in and threaten the survival of the turtles.

“Acquiring solar energy at a remote place like STC Staff at the Soropta Station Soropta Beach could not have been done without the expert advice and assistance of FTL,” added Godfrey. “Their team guided us through the process; helped deliver the system to our remote station and even sent an expert to install the system and train our staff in its use and maintenance.”

The FTL solar energy system now provides critical power needs to the station’s various buildings where staff members live, work and eat. Running water is now supplied to a restroom and shower facility, and the station compound and dock now have security lighting in place.

Las Vegas & Gresham OR Win Climate Protection Award

The 82nd annual United States Conference of Mayors is underway in Dallas, Texas and Las Vegas, Nevada (NV) Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Gresham, Oregon (OR) Mayor Shane Bemis were awarded the 2014 Mayors’ Climate Protection Awards. The climate protection award is an initiative sponsored by The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) and Walmart, and recognizes mayors for innovative programs that increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. An independent panel of judges selected the winners from a pool of applicants.

“Mayor Goodman and Mayor Bemis are changing the energy future of their cities and the nation, showing how local innovation can offer solutions to our growing climate challenges,” said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, president of The U.S. Conference of Mayors. “Mayoral leadership and successful local initiatives are a crucial part of our nation’s arsenal in combating climate-harming emissions.”

U.S. CONFERENCE OF MAYORS LOGOCindi Marsiglio, Walmart’s vice president of U.S. Manufacturing and Sourcing, added, “We are proud to join with the Conference in honoring these cities and their mayors for their leadership in curbing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the quality of life for their citizens,” said “These local initiatives cut energy use, clean the air, reduce emissions, and save money, all of which helps build stronger communities and a stronger economy.

Las Vegas, Nevada won for its net zero initiative in the Large City Category. The City of Las Vegas is challenging itself to become the nation’s first net-zero energy, water, and waste municipality. This net zero initiative has seen the construction of more than 1 million square feet of municipal green buildings. Additionally, more than 80 percent of the city’s 50,000 streetlights have been upgraded to LEDs. The city now has more than 5.25 Megawatts of solar photovoltaic at 30 facilities. These systems have reduced city energy consumption by approximately 15 percent, saving the city more than $1 million dollars annually. Comingled recycling at all city facilities has raised recycling rates to 55 percent, up from 20 percent five years ago. The city has reduced its municipal water consumption by 27 percent since 2008, through turf conversions, xeriscaping, and equipment installations throughout city facilities.

“We are proud of our net zero initiative and the progress we are making,” said Las Vegas Carolyn Goodman. “What is happening here in Las Vegas on energy innovation shouldn’t just stay here. All cities, as well as the nation, can benefit from net zero initiatives.” Continue reading

SEIA Releases Cutting Carbon Report

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) recently released a report, “Cutting Carbon Emissions Under §111(d): The case for expanding solar energy in America”. The report, which was released to coincide with the Clean Power Plan, offers a detailed case as to why states should take advantage of clean solar energy as part of their efforts to comply with §111(d) of the Clean Air Act. This year alone, solar is expected to generate enough electricity to effectively offset 13.8 metric tons of CO2 emissions.

Once the new EPA emission standards are in place, each state will be required to create a compliance plan that must be approved by federal regulators. Failure to do so could result in a more restrictive EPA-mandated plan.

“For many states struggling to reduce their carbon emissions, solar can be a real game changer,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. “We have a very simple message to SEIA Cutting Carbon Emissionsstate regulators: Do the math. When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, the 13 GW of solar currently installed in the United States generates enough pollution-free electricity to displace 14.2 billion pounds of coal or 1.5 billion gallons of gasoline. Put another way, it’s the equivalent of taking 2.7 million passenger cars off U.S. highways each year.”

According to the report, which was prepared by SEIA staff in consultation with member companies, solar has already proven to be a key part of many states’ energy mix – as demonstrated on March 8 when solar provided a record 18 percent of California’s 22,700 megawatt (MW) demand.

“Today, solar is the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in the United States, employing 143,00 Americans and accounting for nearly 30 percent of all new electric generation capacity installed in 2013 – second only to natural gas,” Resch continued. “All totaled, solar is now generating enough clean, reliable and affordable electricity to effectively power nearly 2.5 million homes. We’re doing our part to help fight climate change, but we can do a lot more in the future – and that’s something we will be stressing to state regulators once the new carbon rules for power plants are announced.”

Resch also noted that solar energy’s rapidly falling prices and rapidly growing generating capacity, as well as the volatility of fossil fuel prices, give solar energy the potential to transform compliance with both new carbon emission requirements and other existing requirements under the Clean Air Act.

The report notes, “Historically, air pollution emission reduction from the electric sector has been achieved primarily through pollution control equipment at power plants. Today, the EPA and states recognize that the reduction of carbon emissions from the electric sector requires a new approach that treats the production and delivery of electric power as a broad system, in which power plant modifications, demand side reductions and renewable energy all contribute to emission reductions.

“Solar contributes to a balanced portfolio of energy resources, and can help achieve an optimal long-term strategy for each state’s economy and environment,” the report continues. “By including solar energy as part of their §111(d) compliance plan, states can cost-effectively meet their Clean Air Act requirements while reaping a wide range of additional benefits.”

Fight Over Clean Power Plan Gets Dirty

I’ve written a bit about the Clean Power Plan – the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed plan to reduce carbon emissions from utility plants by 30 percent by 2030. The plan has caused hope and consternation and both environmental groups and the utility industry is weighing in.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has cited a new disinformation campaign has been waged by “Big Polluters” who they say are intent on subverting the country’s first ever carbon pollution standards (aka, Clean Power Plan. In response, NRDC has launched a campaign of it’s own in response to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Study and National Mining Association (NMA) who say that putting limits on carbon will increase electricity prices. However, both the Washington Post and Denver Post have fact checked the study and claims and found some of them to be false.

“The real truth is: We need to cut the carbon pollution spewing out of power plants to protect our health and future generations. We can do this, and save people money on their electric bills even as we invest in energy efficiency that creates hundreds of thousands of new jobs,” said Peter Altman, director of NRDC’s Climate and Clean Air Campaign.

NRDC launched the ad on national television outlets and digital platforms to challenge critics of carbon pollution standards proposed on June 2 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The standards, when finalized says NRDC, can reduce carbon pollution at least 30 percent by 2030 by empowering states and utility companies to work together to make reductions in the most cost-effective way for each state.

In addition to debunking opponents’ claims, the NRDC ad goes after Big Polluters’ efforts to undermine energy efficiency initiatives in a number of states. For example, utility and fossil fuel-funded front groups peddled disinformation to attempt a freeze on Ohio’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) and Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) in 2014.

But ramping up energy efficiency, NRDC has shown, can help accomplish the goals of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, and help consumers. NRDC recently released an analysis showing that strong limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants could save Americans $37 billion on their electric bills and create a net 274,000 jobs. These jobs, growing mostly through investments in energy efficiency and renewables, can put to work electricians, roofers, carpenters, insulation workers, heating/air conditioning installers and heavy equipment operators, among others.

GRFA: UN Sustainable Goals Must Include Biofuels

This week the 12th session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals began at the United Nations in New York City. In response to the meeting, the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) is encouraging participants to include specific targets for biofuels developments as part of UN’s sustainability goals. In addition, GRFA stressed to delegates that the use of sustainable biofuels as a replacement for crude-based grfa_logo1transportation fuels significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions while diving investments in agriculture.

“As participants continue to set new UN Development Goals for the next fifteen years they must keep in mind the positive affects that the global biofuels industry has on agriculture, the environment and the energy sector,” said Bliss Baker, spokesperson for the GRFA.

According to GRFA, the global ethanol industry alone this year will produce 90.38 billion litres of ethanol which will help the environment by reducing GHG emissions by 106.4 million tonnes. This year’s production record will reduce global GHG emissions by over 291,000 tonnes per day. This is equal to 21,279,808 cars being removed from the world’s roads in 2014 OR removing more than all of the vehicles registered in Malaysia off the road each year.

“Global biofuel production and use leads to a more sustainable environment because ethanol use is the largest single contributor to GHG reductions in transportation and the only commercially available alternative to crude oil,” added Baker.

The agriculture sector has also benefited from biofuels production over the years as developing countries adopt biofuel-friendly policies, said Baker. According to a recent publication of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO), “Increased agricultural productivity and output has ensured that the global supply of crops available forUN FAO Biofuels and the Sustainability Challenge non-biofuel uses has continued to grow over the long term.” Additionally, for every tonne of cereals used for ethanol production, on average one-third re-enters the food chain as animal feed. The UN FAO confirmed this in its report “Biofuels and the Sustainability Challenge,” stating that “the by-products of biofuel production can be useful sources of food”.

“In short, the global biofuels industry has increased the amount of food available for human consumption and feed available to farmers for livestock around the world,” said Baker.

The creation of sustainable green jobs going forward has become a priority for governments around the world. In 2012 the GRFA released a report that found that in 2010, global ethanol production supported nearly 1.4 million jobs in all sectors worldwide and contributed over $273 million to the global economy. A recent IRENA commissioned report confirmed that the global biofuels industry has grown, finding that in 2013, 1.45 million jobs were supported by the global liquid biofuels industry.

“It’s clear that because of the global biofuel industry’s ability to reduce our reliance on crude oil, reduce GHG emissions, increase agricultural productivity and create millions of jobs, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals post 2015 must encourage further growth of the global biofuels industry,” concluded Baker.

Mosaic Launches New National Solar Tech Platform

Mosiac is going national. The first solar company to ever use crowdsourcing investments to finance solar projects has just launched another first of its kind technology platform: Mosaic Places. The technology will enable the nation to go solar one location at a time.

So how does it work? The public can nominate community centers, schools, libraries and places of worship as well as local businesses to go solar. The site already contains nearly 300,000 places across the U.S.

I went to Mosaic Places and checked to see if my friend’s Join Mosaic Put Solar On Western Hills Magnet Centerschool was listed. It wasn’t yet so I nominated Western Hills Magnet Center, an Omaha, Nebraska elementary school for solar energy. The building was built in 1952 and has had no upgrades since. In fact, some rooms have no air conditioning (no, a 100 degree room is not a good learning environment for children). With solar, the school can save money on energy and invest the funds back into the kids. And, it gives these students the opportunity to learn about solar first-hand. This is a perfect example of engaging kids in science, technology, engineering in math (STEM) that our schools need so much more of.

Now that I have my school in the system, it asks for as little as a petition – people just click support (which I already have) to participate. However, serious money can be raised to put solar on a place as Mosaic matches supporters with dollars.

Mosaic Places was born out of a successful New Years pledge launched by Mosaic and actor Mark Ruffalo asking people to #PutSolarOnIt in 2014. While a solar installation was installed, on average, every four minutes in the U.S. in 2013, the nation has put solar on less than 1 percent of the homes and commercial buildings that would financially benefit from solar on their roofs. With thousands of incoming pledges for the #PutSolarOnIt campaign, Mosaic built a platform that would help people achieve their commitments. The product launch comes days before the first national #PutSolarOnIt Day of Action this June 21st, the Summer Solstice and longest day of the year.

Put Solar On It“We have been dreaming about this product for years,” said Mosaic President, Billy Parish. “It’s based on our belief that every building can go solar if the community is behind it. Mosaic has built a product that enables everyone to participate in transitioning the country to 100% clean energy.”

The funds raised are designed to bridge the gap for community buildings whose solar installations may need a few thousand dollars to be financeable by conventional means. For every 50 people that click “support” on a Place’s page, Mosaic will donate $100 to put solar on it. In addition, homeowners who go solar through a Mosaic Place’s page will be eligible to receive a $500 gift, which they can donate to put solar on that place.

Any individual can use Mosaic Places by going to www.putsolaronit.com, finding or adding a Place and sharing their chosen Place with their friends to get supporters and raise funds to put solar on it. Schools, places of worship and other community groups can fundraise to put solar on their buildings by asking their community members to support their Place’s page and put solar on their homes through their Place’s page.

So I want to #PutSolarOnIt on Western Hills Magnet Center. Where do you want to put solar on it?

FIFA World Cup to Feature Biofuels & Solar

FIFA World Cup BrasilThe FIFA World Cup 2014 is underway in Brazil and this year’s event features several renewable energy and sustainable measures never before seen during the event.

Sugar Cane Industry Association (UNICA) is supplying the governing body of the football fleet (known as soccer to those living in the U.S.) with ethanol. Flex-fuel cars from Hyundai, Model HB20 Edition FIFA World Cup, are running the streets and roads of Brazil powered with fuel from cane sugar.

The adoption of ethanol is one of the measures to avoid, reduce and offset emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) released dioxide in the atmosphere, the ‘Football for the Planet,’ according to FIFA’s official environmental program that aims to reduce the negative impact of their activities on the environment. In Brazil, FIFA and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the 2014 World Cup are putting in place projects that address key areas such as waste, water, energy, transport, logistics and climate change.

Kids play football on the beach as Brazil prepare for the World Cup on June 11, 2014 in Maceio, Brazil. (Photo by Alex Livesey - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Kids play football on the beach as Brazil prepare for the World Cup on June 11, 2014 in Maceio, Brazil. (Photo by Alex Livesey – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

For the consultant Emissions and Technology of Sugar Cane Industry Association (UNICA), Alfred Szwarc, the initiative of the FIFA program is extremely appropriate as sugarcane ethanol compared with gasoline. He cites sugar-based ethanol reduces 90 percent of greenhouse gases that cause climate change when compared to straight gasoline. Reducing global warming is one of focuses of the “Football for the Planet” FIFA campaign.

In addition to biofuels, Yingli Green Energy has provided dozens of solar panels to various operations involved with FIFA and this year the company plans to offset all carbon emissions arising from its promotional activities in Brazil to make the FIFA World Cup Brazil the greenest in history. The company’s efforts included all solar powered stadiums, commercial displays, customer hospitality, media activities, and employee travel and accommodation. To achieve carbon neutrality, Yingli has:

  • Supplied over 5,000 Yingli solar panels and nearly 30 off-grid solar energy systems to help power matches at multiple FIFA World Cup stadiums;
  • Partnered with ClimatePartner, an independent, certified environmental agency, to accurately calculate and verify emissions data for the duration of Yingli’s sponsorship activation in Brazil;
  • Committed to investing in carbon emission reduction certificates that are generated by a local Brazilian project, and that are certified by the Bureau Veritas Certification Holding SAS.

“By becoming history’s first carbon neutral sponsor of the FIFA World Cup, Yingli is honoring its commitment to our environment and to our planet,” noted Mr. Liansheng Miao, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Yingli Green Energy. “As a company whose products and mission are deeply intertwined with sustainability issues, we are dedicated to reducing the ecological impact of all aspects of our business operations, including our highly visible and pervasive marketing activities.”

Argonne Scientists Blast EWG Corn Ethanol GHG Report

A recent Environmental Work Group corn ethanol greenhouse gas report has caused lifecycle analysis experts and economist from Argonne National Laboratory and three universities to lash out and what they call “erroneous conclusions”.

The experts isEWG report Ethanols broken promisesued a scathing 13-page response to EWG’s May report titled “Ethanol’s Broken Promise.” EWG “confused parameters” and “misunderstood” previous modeling results, according to experts from Argonne, North Carolina State University, Purdue University and University of Illinois-Chicago. “…based on an analysis of the methodology EWG used and a comparison of their results to those in the literature, from models, and from other data sets, EWG appears to have overestimated the amount of land converted for corn farming between 2008 and 2012. Second, EWG used emission factors that appear too high.”

More specifically, the experts found the following problems—among many others—with EWG’s report:

  • “EWG confused parameters in GREET with those in an economic model, the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP).”
  • “EWG misunderstood EPA’s GHG emissions for years 2012 and 2017.”
  • “In their report, EWG picked the EPA 2012 GHG emissions for corn ethanol and applied them to the EPA-proposed reduced volume for corn ethanol in 2014 to make the erroneous conclusion that the proposal resulted in 3 million tonnes of CO2 reduction in 2014.”
  • “…the emission factors they applied are high compared to those in other reports and studies that take into account important variations in initial and final land states.”
  • The satellite data set used by EWG is “…explicitly not designed to be used for pixel-by-pixel or localized analyses.”
  • The land use change data used by EWG is “…based on data that is decades old, reflecting wetland conversion over a much longer time horizon.”
  • The report “…overestimated wetland conversion, especially for the conversion of wetlands to corn farms.” Wetlands and grasslands conversion estimates are “…too high when compared with estimates in other studies and data sources.”

The authors also point out that EWG is stuck in the past when it comes to lifecycle analysis. They write, “Since 2009, when EPA conducted corn ethanol LUC GHG modeling…, significant efforts have been made to improve economic models and soil carbon models to better estimate biofuel LUC GHG emissions. EPA and other federal agencies should consider updating RFS LUC modeling so that up-to-date LUC results can be used for biofuel policy making.”

EPA Officially Releases Clean Power Plan Proposal

In what could be an unprecedented move by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agency has released a proposed plan to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants by 30 percent nationwide below 2005 levels by 2030. The Clean Power Plan is the first proposed policy that would cut CO2 from existing power plants – the single largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S. Possible solutions to cutting carbon include integrating renewable power to the grid from sources such as geothermal, solar, wind and bioenergy (biomass or pellets derived from waste).

According to the EPA, power plants account for nearly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Although there are current limits in place for the level of arsenic, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particle pollution that power plants can emit, there are currently no national limits on carbon pollution levels.

EPA Gina McCarthy“Climate change, fueled by carbon pollution, supercharges risks to our health, our economy, and our way of life,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “EPA is delivering on a vital piece of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan by proposing a Clean Power Plan that will cut harmful carbon pollution from our largest source–power plants.”

“By leveraging cleaner energy sources and cutting energy waste, this plan will clean the air we breathe while helping slow climate change so we can leave a safe and healthy future for our kids. We don’t have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment–our action will sharpen America’s competitive edge, spur innovation, and create jobs,” added McCarthy.

Building upon trends already underway to reduce GHG emissions (including carbon) in other industry sectors including the transportation sector (cars, planes, etc.) as well as working along side states who have already put carbon policies in place for their utility sectors, the goal is to create a nationwide plan to cut pollution while make power plants more energy efficient. In addition, the plan fits within the steps laid out in President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and his June 2013 Presidential Memorandum.

In 2009, the EPA determined that greenhouse gas pollution threatens Americans’ health and welfare by leading to long lasting changes in our climate that can have a range of negative effects on human health and the environment. By 2030, The Clean Power Plan specifically calls for:

  • Cutting carbon emission from the power sector by 30 percent nationwide below 2005 levels, which is equal to the emissions from powering more than half the homes in the United States for one year;
  • Cutting particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 percent as a co-benefit;
  • Avoiding up to 6,600 premature deaths, up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children, and up to 490,000 missed work or school days—providing up to $93 billion in climate and public health benefits; and
  • Shrink electricity bills roughly 8 percent by increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand in the electricity system.

Continue reading

Forecast for Greater GHG Reduction from Ethanol

A new report forecasts global ethanol consumption will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions this year by over 106 million tons.

global-rfaThe Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA), in cooperation with (S&T)2 Consultants Inc., released their Global Green House Gas (GHG) Emissions Reduction Forecast for 2014 as the International Transport Forum Summit begins today in Germany.

The annual report shows the reduction in global GHG emissions from global ethanol production is increasing. This year’s figure reveals that 90.38 billion litres of global ethanol production and use in 2014 will reduce global GHG emissions by over 291,000 tonnes per day. Compared to 2013, this is an increase of over 7000 tonnes per day in GHG emission savings.

According to GRFA, the 106.4 million ton GHG emissions reduction is equal to over 21 million cars being removed from the world’s roads in 2014, about 58,000 per day.

“We believe International Transport Forum Summit participants should call for an increase in ethanol production and use given the significant contribution ethanol is making to reducing global GHG emissions today,” said GRFA spokesman Bliss Baker. This year’s theme for the International Transport Forum Summit is “Transport for a Changing World”.

Another Day, Another Oil Spill

An oil pipeline ruptured in Los Angeles on LA Street yesterday and in response Americans United For Change said, “Like oil spills? You’ll love what happens after dismantling the Renewable Fuel Standard. 50,000 gallons of crude oil spilled out onto the streets and in some areas the crude oil was knee-high.

Photo: LA Times

Photo: LA Times

Jeremy Funk, spokesperson for pro renewable energy and pro Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) group Americans United for Change, said of the crude oil spill, “Whether you live in the Gulf Coast community, near a railroad in Lynchburg, VA, a farm in North Dakota, or in the middle of a major metropolis like Los Angeles, it seems nowhere in America is out of reach from the messes big oil leaves behind.”

“Headlines about oil industry spills and explosions and derailments have become a ‘dog bites man’ story,” Funk continued who stressed that the alarming rate of environmental disasters associated with oil should give the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) serious pause before deciding whether or not to roll back the RFS. The EPA is expected to publish its final 2014 RFS rules around June 1 and there is concern they will move forward with lower renewable fuel gallons than what is called for in legislation.

“Consider that ethanol makes up 10% of the U.S. gasoline supply, and that for every gallon of ethanol produced domestically it means one less gallon sold of gasoline derived from dirty crude oil from unstable regions. That’s why the oil industry wants the EPA to help put out of business their safer, cleaner, cheaper renewable fuels competition. But if the EPA give big oil what they want and drastically cuts down the amount ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply, there’s no way to avoid a corresponding increase in demand for crude oil and an increase in the number of disasters related to transporting it.” Funk added, “So if you like oil spills — you’ll love what happens if the RFS is watered down.”