The Dernogalizer

December 8, 2009

New Cash for Caulkers Program Officially a Go!

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 11:56 pm
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I wrote a few weeks ago that a “Cash for Caulkers” program was being considered as part of a jobs bill that the Obama Administration would push in early 2010.  Not only is Cash for Caulkers officially a centerpiece of the jobs bill, but so is clean energy investment.  Below is the entire article.

President Obama proposed a new program Tuesday that would reimburse homeowners for energy-efficient appliances and insulation, part of a broader plan to stimulate the economy.

The administration didn’t provide immediate details, but said it would work with Congress on crafting legislation. Steve Nadel, director at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, who’s helping write the bill, said a homeowner could receive up to $12,000 in rebates.

The proposal is part of the President’s larger spending plan, which also includes money for small businesses, renewable energy manufacturing, and infrastructure.

We know energy efficiency “creates jobs, saves money for families, and reduces the pollution that threatens our environment,” Obama said. “With additional resources, in areas like advanced manufacturing of wind turbines and solar panels, for instance, we can help turn good ideas into good private-sector jobs.”

The program contains two parts: money for homeowners for efficiency projects, and money for companies in the renewable energy and efficiency space.

The plan will likely create a new program where private contractors conduct home energy audits, buy the necessary gear and install it, according to a staffer on the Senate Energy Committee and Nadel at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Big-ticket items like air conditioners, heating systems, washing machines, refrigerators, windows and insulation would likely be covered, Nadel said.

Consumers might be eligible for a 50% rebate on both the price of the equipment and the installation, up to $12,000, said Nadel. So far, there is no income restriction on who is eligible. That would mean a household could spend as much as $24,000 on upgrades and get half back.

Homes that take full advantage of the program could see their energy bills drop as much as 20%, he said. The program is expected to cost in the $10 billion range.

It’s not clear how the home efficiency plan would be administered – the government may issue rebates to consumers directly, homeowners might get a tax credit, or the program could be run via state agencies.

If consumers have to spend a lot of money up front to get the credit, it could throw a wrench in the works, David Kreutzer, an energy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, told CNN.

“This will not be something that’s attractive to people who are having trouble already making their budget payments month to month or week to week,” he said.

To keep consumers from having to spend thousands of dollars before getting reimbursed, Nadel said, one idea is to have contractors or big box retailers pay part of the cost up front.

Fraud issues could also come up, Kreutzer said.

“Any program that is going to run through a third party and is going to distribute billions of dollars needs to have lots of checks and balances to make sure there’s not abuse,” he said.

Nadel noted that as a way to guard against fraud, contractors would have to be certified to participate.

Energy company boost

Obama’s new spending plan also calls for renewable energy companies to get additional support. That could come in the form of loan guarantees – basically, money the government uses to secure loans for startups.

In the original stimulus bill passed earlier this year, $6 billion was earmarked for such loan guarantees. But then lawmakers took away $2 billion to fund Cash for Clunkers – the popular program that paid people to turn in their old cars.

The $4 billion from the original bill has funded about $40 billion in loans, said the staffer on the Senate Energy Committee. Meanwhile, firms are hoping for another $4 billion in loan guarantees, since they have another $40 billion worth of projects that need funding.

A bill on energy efficiency reimbursements already has supporters in the Senate.

“Not only will [such legislation] increase our energy security and transform our energy infrastructure to a modern, clean and efficient one,” Senate Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., wrote in a recent op-ed column in the Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper. “But it also will position the United States to lead in the development of clean energy technologies.”

October 24, 2009

Obama Speech to MIT

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 12:16 am
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Yeah Obama!  Great messaging for clean energy legislation.  Here is the speech.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Please, have a seat. Thank you. Thank you, MIT. (Applause.) I am — I am hugely honored to be here. It’s always been a dream of mine to visit the most prestigious school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Applause.) Hold on a second — certainly the most prestigious school in this part of Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Laughter.) And I’ll probably be here for a while — I understand a bunch of engineering students put my motorcade on top of Building 10. (Laughter.)

This tells you something about MIT — everybody hands out periodic tables. (Laughter.) What’s up with that? (Laughter.)

I want I want to thank all of you for the warm welcome and for the work all of you are doing to generate and test new ideas that hold so much promise for our economy and for our lives. And in particular, I want to thank two outstanding MIT professors, Eric Lander, a person you just heard from, Ernie Moniz, for their service on my council of advisors on science and technology. And they have been hugely helpful to us already on looking at, for example, how the federal government can most effectively respond to the threat of the H1N1 virus. So I’m very grateful to them.

We’ve got some other special guests here I just want to acknowledge very briefly. First of all, my great friend and a champion of science and technology here in the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts, my friend Deval Patrick is here. (Applause.) Our Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray is here. (Applause.) Attorney General Martha Coakley is here. (Applause.) Auditor of the Commonwealth, Joe DeNucci is here. (Applause.) The Mayor of the great City of Cambridge, Denise Simmons is in the house. (Applause.) The Mayor of Boston, Tom Menino, is not here, but he met me at the airport and he is doing great; he sends best wishes.

Somebody who really has been an all-star in Capitol Hill over the last 20 years, but certainly over the last year, on a whole range of issues — everything from Afghanistan to clean energy — a great friend, John Kerry. Please give John Kerry a round of applause. (Applause.)

And a wonderful member of Congress — I believe this is your district, is that correct, Mike? Mike Capuano. Please give Mike a big round of applause. (Applause.)

Now, Dr. Moniz is also the Director of MIT’s Energy Initiative, called MITEI. And he and President Hockfield just showed me some of the extraordinary energy research being conducted at this institute: windows that generate electricity by directing light to solar cells; light-weight, high-power batteries that aren’t built, but are grown — that was neat stuff; engineering viruses to create — to create batteries; more efficient lighting systems that rely on nanotechnology; innovative engineering that will make it possible for offshore wind power plants to deliver electricity even when the air is still.

And it’s a reminder that all of you are heirs to a legacy of innovation — not just here but across America — that has improved our health and our wellbeing and helped us achieve unparalleled prosperity. I was telling John and Deval on the ride over here, you just get excited being here and seeing these extraordinary young people and the extraordinary leadership of Professor Hockfield because it taps into something essential about America — it’s the legacy of daring men and women who put their talents and their efforts into the pursuit of discovery. And it’s the legacy of a nation that supported those intrepid few willing to take risks on an idea that might fail — but might also change the world.

Even in the darkest of times this nation has seen, it has always sought a brighter horizon. Think about it. In the middle of the Civil War, President Lincoln designated a system of land grant colleges, including MIT, which helped open the doors of higher education to millions of people. A year — a full year before the end of World War II, President Roosevelt signed the GI Bill which helped unleash a wave of strong and broadly shared economic growth. And after the Soviet launch of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth, the United States went about winning the Space Race by investing in science and technology, leading not only to small steps on the moon but also to tremendous economic benefits here on Earth.

So the truth is, we have always been about innovation, we have always been about discovery. That’s in our DNA. The truth is we also face more complex challenges than generations past. A medical system that holds the promise of unlocking new cures is attached to a health care system that has the potential to bankrupt families and businesses and our government. A global marketplace that links the trader on Wall Street to the homeowner on Main Street to the factory worker in China — an economy in which we all share opportunity is also an economy in which we all share crisis. We face threats to our security that seek — there are threats to our security that are based on those who would seek to exploit the very interconnectedness and openness that’s so essential to our prosperity. The system of energy that powers our economy also undermines our security and endangers our planet.

Now, while the challenges today are different, we have to draw on the same spirit of innovation that’s always been central to our success. And that’s especially true when it comes to energy. There may be plenty of room for debate as to how we transition from fossil fuels to renewable fuels — we all understand there’s no silver bullet to do it. There’s going to be a lot of debate about how we move from an economy that’s importing oil to one that’s exporting clean energy technology; how we harness the innovative potential on display here at MIT to create millions of new jobs; and how we will lead the world to prevent the worst consequences of climate change. There are going to be all sorts of debates, both in the laboratory and on Capitol Hill. But there’s no question that we must do all these things.

Countries on every corner of this Earth now recognize that energy supplies are growing scarcer, energy demands are growing larger, and rising energy use imperils the planet we will leave to future generations. And that’s why the world is now engaged in a peaceful competition to determine the technologies that will power the 21st century. From China to India, from Japan to Germany, nations everywhere are racing to develop new ways to producing and use energy. The nation that wins this competition will be the nation that leads the global economy. I am convinced of that. And I want America to be that nation. It’s that simple. (Applause.)

That’s why the Recovery Act that we passed back in January makes the largest investment in clean energy in history, not just to help end this recession, but to lay a new foundation for lasting prosperity. The Recovery Act includes $80 billion to put tens of thousands of Americans to work developing new battery technologies for hybrid vehicles; modernizing the electric grid; making our homes and businesses more energy efficient; doubling our capacity to generate renewable electricity. These are creating private-sector jobs weatherizing homes; manufacturing cars and trucks; upgrading to smart electric meters; installing solar panels; assembling wind turbines; building new facilities and factories and laboratories all across America. And, by the way, helping to finance extraordinary research.

In fact, in just a few weeks, right here in Boston, workers will break ground on a new Wind Technology Testing Center, a project made possible through a $25 million Recovery Act investment as well as through the support of Massachusetts and its partners. And I want everybody to understand — Governor Patrick’s leadership and vision made this happen. He was bragging about Massachusetts on the way over here — I told him, you don’t have to be a booster, I already love the state. (Applause.) But he helped make this happen.

Hundreds of people will be put to work building this new testing facility, but the benefits will extend far beyond these jobs. For the first time, researchers in the United States will be able to test the world’s newest and largest wind turbine blades — blades roughly the length of a football field — and that in turn will make it possible for American businesses to develop more efficient and effective turbines, and to lead a market estimated at more than $2 trillion over the next two decades.

This grant follows other Recovery Act investments right here in Massachusetts that will help create clean energy jobs in this commonwealth and across the country. And this only builds on the work of your governor, who has endeavored to make Massachusetts a clean energy leader — from increasing the supply of renewable electricity, to quadrupling solar capacity, to tripling the commonwealth’s investment in energy efficiency, all of which helps to draw new jobs and new industries. (Applause.) That’s worth applause.

Now, even as we’re investing in technologies that exist today, we’re also investing in the science that will produce the technologies of tomorrow. The Recovery Act provides the largest single boost in scientific research in history. Let me repeat that: The Recovery Act, the stimulus bill represents the largest single boost in scientific research in history. (Applause.) An increase — that’s an increase in funding that’s already making a difference right here on this campus. And my budget also makes the research and experimentation tax credit permanent — a tax credit that spurs innovation and jobs, adding $2 to the economy for every dollar that it costs.

And all of this must culminate in the passage of comprehensive legislation that will finally make renewable energy the profitable kind of energy in America. John Kerry is working on this legislation right now, and he’s doing a terrific job reaching out across the other side of the aisle because this should not be a partisan issue. Everybody in America should have a stake — (applause) — everybody in America should have a stake in legislation that can transform our energy system into one that’s far more efficient, far cleaner, and provide energy independence for America — making the best use of resources we have in abundance, everything from figuring out how to use the fossil fuels that inevitably we are going to be using for several decades, things like coal and oil and natural gas; figuring out how we use those as cleanly and efficiently as possible; creating safe nuclear power; sustainable — sustainably grown biofuels; and then the energy that we can harness from wind and the waves and the sun. It is a transformation that will be made as swiftly and as carefully as possible, to ensure that we are doing what it takes to grow this economy in the short, medium, and long term. And I do believe that a consensus is growing to achieve exactly that.

The Pentagon has declared our dependence on fossil fuels a security threat. Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are traveling the country as part of Operation Free, campaigning to end our dependence on oil — (applause) — we have a few of these folks here today, right there. (Applause.) The young people of this country — that I’ve met all across America — they understand that this is the challenge of their generation.

Leaders in the business community are standing with leaders in the environmental community to protect the economy and the planet we leave for our children. The House of Representatives has already passed historic legislation, due in large part to the efforts of Massachusetts’ own Ed Markey, he deserves a big round of applause. (Applause.) We’re now seeing prominent Republicans like Senator Lindsey Graham joining forces with long-time leaders John Kerry on this issue, to swiftly pass a bill through the Senate as well. In fact, the Energy Committee, thanks to the work of its Chair, Senator Jeff Bingaman, has already passed key provisions of comprehensive legislation.

So we are seeing a convergence. The naysayers, the folks who would pretend that this is not an issue, they are being marginalized. But I think it’s important to understand that the closer we get, the harder the opposition will fight and the more we’ll hear from those whose interest or ideology run counter to the much needed action that we’re engaged in. There are those who will suggest that moving toward clean energy will destroy our economy — when it’s the system we currently have that endangers our prosperity and prevents us from creating millions of new jobs. There are going to be those who cynically claim — make cynical claims that contradict the overwhelming scientific evidence when it comes to climate change, claims whose only purpose is to defeat or delay the change that we know is necessary.

So we’re going to have to work on those folks. But understand there’s also another myth that we have to dispel, and this one is far more dangerous because we’re all somewhat complicit in it. It’s far more dangerous than any attack made by those who wish to stand in the way progress — and that’s the idea that there is nothing or little that we can do. It’s pessimism. It’s the pessimistic notion that our politics are too broken and our people too unwilling to make hard choices for us to actually deal with this energy issue that we’re facing. And implicit in this argument is the sense that somehow we’ve lost something important — that fighting American spirit, that willingness to tackle hard challenges, that determination to see those challenges to the end, that we can solve problems, that we can act collectively, that somehow that is something of the past.

I reject that argument. I reject it because of what I’ve seen here at MIT. Because of what I have seen across America. Because of what we know we are capable of achieving when called upon to achieve it. This is the nation that harnessed electricity and the energy contained in the atom, that developed the steamboat and the modern solar cell. This is the nation that pushed westward and looked skyward. We have always sought out new frontiers and this generation is no different.

Today’s frontiers can’t be found on a map. They’re being explored in our classrooms and our laboratories, in our start-ups and our factories. And today’s pioneers are not traveling to some far flung place. These pioneers are all around us — the entrepreneurs and the inventors, the researchers, the engineers — helping to lead us into the future, just as they have in the past. This is the nation that has led the world for two centuries in the pursuit of discovery. This is the nation that will lead the clean energy economy of tomorrow, so long as all of us remember what we have achieved in the past and we use that to inspire us to achieve even more in the future.

I am confident that’s what’s happening right here at this extraordinary institution. And if you will join us in what is sure to be a difficult fight in the months and years ahead, I am confident that all of America is going to be pulling in one direction to make sure that we are the energy leader that we need to be.

Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

May 6, 2009

Washington Post Climate Column

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 12:43 am
Tags: , , ,

I’ve been blogging about the Markey-Waxman climate bill that’s in Congress quite a bit.  Since this is the most important piece of legislation in quite a long time, I plan on continuing to provide updates and commentary for as long as it’s being debated.  Today there was a great op-ed by two people dealing more in the economics and business of climate change than the science.  They talk about why passing a climate bill will not be the kind of burden on businesses that opponents make it out to be.  Here is the link.  Notable excerpts are posted below.

“The real cost of carbon emissions is far from zero. Each new scientific report brings proof of a changing climate that promises to disrupt agricultural patterns, set off a scramble for dwindling resources, raise sea levels, propel population shifts and require massive emergency spending as we try to react to the growing crises. These are the costs of inaction.”

“Ultimately, households and businesses care more about their total energy bill than costs per gallon or per kilowatt hour. Gas at $4 per gallon is cheaper in a car that gets 40 miles per gallon than $3-a-gallon gas in a clunker that gets 20 mpg. American entrepreneurial and research genius can move us to far greater energy efficiency quickly, using mostly existing technologies, when a carbon price rewards the effort.”

The cost of inaction is high and could be catastrophic. But, contrary to claims, the cost of switching to cleaner energy and dramatically lower emissions will spur competitive gains, cost far less and come much more quickly once we have set our goals, adjusted our incentives and corrected the market’s false signals.”

Kristen Sheeran is executive director of the Economics for Equity and the Environment Network, a nationwide group of economists focused on environmental policy. Mindy Lubber is president of Ceres, a national coalition of investors, environmentalists and public interest groups working with companies to address sustainability challenges.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            *Update*  Here is an article about some of these businesses including Nike threatening the Chamber of Commerce to stop opposing climate legislation.    

May 5, 2009

Column: Need for Climate Bill


Before the clock strikes midnight

Before the clock strikes midnight


Here is my column today on why now is the perfect time to pass a climate change bill to help the economy.  Enjoy!


Clean energy: Make the case before it’s too late


Issue date: 5/5/09 Section: Opinion

I’ve found over the years that timing is not the strong suit of environmentalists. There’s a joke that whenever there’s a global warming rally, it’s probably going to snow. Just a couple of weeks ago, Earth Day became rain day. The earth has been playing coy, saying, “If you want to save me, you’re going to have to work for it.” 

When it comes to clean energy, the economy has been dragging its feet as well. Right when we get a Congress and president capable of passing a strong climate change bill, the economy is jumping off a cliff with a bungee cord made of defaulted bank notes. You can always depend on detractors of regulating carbon emissions, such as the oil, coal, gas and utility companies, to insist this just isn’t the right time. We can’t be burdened by job losses and higher energy prices during a severe recession. By sheer coincidence, I’m sure, opponents use the same argument when the economy is thriving.

This is interesting, considering our policy of not putting a price on pollution in the name of saving manufacturing. From 2000-2008, the U.S. workforce saw a loss of over 4 million manufacturing jobs. Auto companies kicked and screamed at fuel-economy standards for decades, only to witness Japanese carmakers with more fuel-efficient cars come in and take their jobs. Electricity prices rose sharply in many parts of the country without carbon regulation. Oil companies benefited from billions of dollars in tax breaks while claiming regulation would hurt American families at the pump – kind of like what happened last summer with obscene gas prices and no viable substitutes.

We would do well to observe these trends and recognize there needs to be a different way of producing energy in this country. Our economy needs to be transformed and retooled for the global markets of the 21st century. Energy needs to be affordable, abundant and clean. The green provisions of the stimulus bill were a nice spark. We need a lightning bolt. We need a strong climate bill to rescue the economy, and now is the perfect time.

Manufacturing has caught on to this opportunity. Turns out wind turbines are made of steel. Labor groups, such as the United Steelworkers and the Communications Workers of America have teamed up with environmental groups to form the Blue Green Alliance. By investing $100 billion generated from a climate bill into retrofitting buildings, mass transit, a smart eletric grid, wind and solar power and advanced biofuels, 2 million jobs can be created in the next two years.

The reality is the only burden special interest groups are concerned about is their own balance sheets. The question isn’t whether we can afford to pass a climate bill. It’s whether we can afford not to. The truth is, regulating carbon will put our fast-emerging industries at an advantage over foreign competitors. 

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is coming to the campus May 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the Baltimore Room in Stamp Student Union for a Clean Energy Town Hall Meeting. There’s a climate bill with a serious chance of passing, which will start getting marked up in the Energy and Commerce Committee the same day. How’s that for timing? This is your chance to weigh in. Don’t miss it for the world. 

Matt Dernoga is a junior government and politics major and the political liason for UMD for Clean Energy, one of the groups hosting Rep. Hoyer. He can be reached at

April 20, 2009

Opinion Column Cherry-picks

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 3:37 pm
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I was shown a very tricky opinion column today written by Brady Yauch of “The Big Money”, a financial news and analysis website.   At the center of Yauch’s column is the notion that maybe green jobs aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.  That they won’t pay well, will be outsourced, are heavily subsidized, and that green companies fight unionization etc.  Yauch draws his facts from a report called “Good Jobs First” which was written by the Sierra Club, the Laborers International Union of North America, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.  I was very interested in where Yauch was getting his facts, I thought it might be from an anti-green think tank, but it wasn’t.  This caused me to actually read the report Yauch was referencing to see how much legitimacy there was to his numbers.  

It turns out Yauch misrepresented this report in some ways.  The point of the report’s authors was to say that while they want green jobs, they think there needs to be investment in green jobs, and that green jobs will benefit the American economy…that we need to be diligent in ensuring that all the new green jobs we are creating are also humane and fair jobs, because there are some examples in green companies not treating their employees well.  This is an important conversation to have, and a very good report to reference.  We do need to make sure we don’t get caught up in the numbers of how many green jobs we are creating, but also to ensure that their quality makes them preferable to other jobs.  Fair and just green jobs are a key piece of making the clean energy economy appeal more to workers than the traditional exploitative fossil fuel based one.  

The issue I take with Yauch is that he ignores averages and medians.  Instead, he pulls the most extreme examples out of the data, otherwards known as statistical outliers.  Let me give you a few examples.  

Yauch says “The report by the D.C.-based labor think tank notes that it’s not uncommon for workers in the green field to earn as little as $8.25 an hour. Wages at a number of wind and solar manufacturers are far lower than those at their more traditional counterparts — falling well below the income levels needed to support a single adult with one child.”

What the report says on pg 4/46…  ” the lowest wage we found was $8.25 an hour at a recycling processing plant”.  Instead of “uncommon” try “lowest”.  This is obviously a problem, and the report notes it as such…that some jobs don’t pay as much as they should.  Yauch of course neglects the next page where the report talks about the brighter side of things… 


We found examples of solid, middle-class jobs across all three industries where significant green job growth is anticipated.   These include:

• Production workers in a Salem, Oregon solar plant where the average hourly wage is $22.

• Union plumbers who earn $36 an hour plus full benefits in Portland, Oregon.

• Workers organized by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters who start at $20 an hour in a cutting-edge San Francisco recycling facility.


Or take this…Yauch says…. “The green jobs initiative gets even stickier when it comes to unions — a major supporter of the Obama administration and his fellow Democrats. The Good Jobs First report noted that few workers at wind and solar jobs were backed by collective bargaining agreements. And in at least two cases, the company leaders were found to have run aggressive anti-union campaigns, aided by union-busting consultants.”

The report acknowledges this, but also says “While many green employers oppose unionization, several of the companies profiled in the report have taken a collaborative approach. Executives for a leading wind energy manufacturer (Gamesa), green developer (Gerding Edlen), and recycler (Norcal) all believe that partnerships with unions have added value and positioned the companies to grow in a green economy that will require new skills and approaches.”  There is no acknowledgement of this by Yauch.

Here’s one last example.  Yauch says of subsidies… “Take United Solar Ovonic as an example. After receiving generous government subsidies amounting to $277,000 for every new job created, the company refused to meet the prevailing wage rule in Battle Creek, Mich., and pay $16 an hour.”  This creates the impression that $277,000 is the norm.  In reality…

“On a per job basis, most of the subsidies range from$10,000 to $60,000, which is not out of line with common economic development practices.  Here are some outliers. United Solar Ovonic’s deal in Battle Creek is not only the largest in absolute terms but its $277,000 per projected job is the second highest on the list by that measure.”  

I highly encourage people to check out the report and compare it to the column.  Yauch makes it sound as though this report is made to dismiss the idea that we should create millions of green jobs.  In reality, the report’s authors explicitly state that this is something we need to do, and it’s something that’s good for business and labor, but only if we make sure it’s done right.  They make a lot of suggestions of how to make sure are jobs are not only green…but also good.  

Yauch needs to show both sides to be considered an honest writer in my book.  He cherry-picked, and I think it’s because of an underlying motive.

April 16, 2009

Great Green Jobs Ad

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 11:52 am
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The Environmental Defense Action Fund, the United Steelworkers, and the Blue-Green Alliance have started a new website called the cap solution.  The main idea behind this campaign is to deliver the message to the American people that regulating and capping carbon is good for the economy.  Businesses are saying this, not just environmentalists.  This ad is being shown because the climate bill is being heavily debated in Washington, and in a little over a month, the noise will be deafening.  Expect to see a lot more ads like this, but also some dishonest ones like this from the polluters.  Enjoy the video below.

January 30, 2009

Now More Wind Jobs than Coal

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 8:04 pm
Tags: ,


I wanted to cross post from a blog I found with information regarding the recent job figures in regards to the wind and the coal industry.  The link to the blog post is here:

Here’s a talking point in the green jobs debate: The wind industry now employs more people than coal mining in the United States.

Wind industry jobs jumped to 85,000 in 2008, a 70% increase from the previous year, according to a report released Tuesday from the American Wind Energy Association. In contrast, the coal industry employs about 81,000 workers. (Those figures are from a 2007 U.S. Department of Energy report but coal employment has remained steady in recent years though it’s down by nearly 50% since 1986.) Wind industry employment includes 13,000 manufacturing jobs concentrated in regions of the country hard hit by the deindustrialization of the past two decades.

The big spike in wind jobs was a result of a record-setting 50% increase in installed wind capacity, with 8,358 megawatts coming online in 2008 (enough to power some 2 million homes).  That’s a third of the nation’s total 25,170 megawatts of wind power generation. Wind farms generating more than 4,000 megawatts of electricity were completed in the last three months of 2008 alone.

Another sign that wind power is no longer a niche green energy play: Wind accounted for 42% of all new electricity generation installed last year in the U.S. Power, literally, is shifting from the east to west, to the wind belt of the Midwest, west Texas and the West Coast. Texas continues to lead the country, with 7,116 megawatts of wind capacity but Iowa in 2008 overtook California for the No. 2 spot, with 2,790 megawatts of wind generation. Other new wind powers include Oregon, Minnesota, Colorado and Washington state.

But last year’s record is unlikely to be repeated in 2009 as the global credit crisis delays or scuttles new projects because developers are unable to secure financing for wind farms. Layoffs have already hit turbine makers like Clipper Windpower and Gamesa as well as companies that produce turbine towers, blades and other components.

The Obama administration’s $825 billion stimulus package includes a three-year extension of a key production tax credit that has spurred the wind industry’s expansion. But given the dearth of investors with tax liabilities willing to invest in wind projects in exchange for the credits, the stimulus is unlikely to be stimulating to the industry unless the tax credit is made refundable to developers.

The U.S. wind industry is dominated by European wind developers and turbine makers – General Electric (GE) and Clipper are the only two domestic turbine manufacturers – and those companies’ fortunes rise and fall with the global economy.  As the U.S. market has boomed, European companies have been moving production close to their customers – the percentage of domestically manufactured wind turbine components rose from 30% to 50% between 2005 and 2008, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

My general feeling on all of this is that sooner rather than later the wind industry is going to be far more important than the coal industry when it comes to jobs, and therefore hold a lot more clout with the economic argument of increasing usage of altenative energy.  Coal’s sun is setting.

**Update 5/10/09**  Here is a newer article talking about US wind growth, China’s wind boom, and new global wind capacity.

January 22, 2009

Solutions from the Green Economy

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 7:16 pm
Tags: , ,

A green non-profit group called Green America has proposed a number of fixes for the economic troubles which I very intelligent and in my opinion exactly what the country should be doing.  I think these suggestions would provide sustainable and just economic growth, and I wanted to repost the short and sweet version of their ideas below, and also to provide this link for great elaboration on each point they make.  Enjoy!


Solutions from the Green Economy
January 15, 2008

Green economyEveryone now understands that the economy is broken.

While many name the mortgage and credit-default-swap crises as culprits, they are only the most recent indicators of an economy with fatal design flaws. Our economy has long been based on what economist Herman Daly calls “uneconomic growth” where increases in the GDP come at an expense in resources and well-being that is worth more than the goods and services provided.  When GNP growth exacerbates social and environmental problems—from sweatshop labor to manufacturing toxic chemicals—every dollar of GNP growth reduces well-being for people and the planet, and we’re all worse off.

Our fatally flawed economy creates economic injustice, poverty, and environmental crises. It doesn’t have to be that way. We can create a green economy: one that serves people and the planet and offers antidotes to the current breakdown.
Here are six green-economy solutions to today’s economic mess.

1. Green Energy—Green Jobs
A crucial starting place to rejuvenate our economy is to focus on energy. It’s time to call in the superheroes of the green energy revolution—energy efficiency, solar and wind power, and plug-in hybrids—and put their synergies to work with rapid, large-scale deployment. This is a powerful way to jumpstart the economy, spur job creation (with jobs that can’t be outsourced), declare energy independence, and claim victory over the climate crisis.

2. Clean Energy Victory Bonds
How are we going to pay for this green energy revolution? We at Green America propose Clean Energy Victory Bonds. Modeled after victory bonds in World War II, Americans would buy these bonds from the federal government to invest in large-scale deployment of green energy projects, with particular emphasis in low-income communities hardest hit by the broken economy. These would be long-term bonds, paying an annual interest rate, based in part on the energy and energy savings that the bonds generate. During WWII, 85 million Americans bought over $185 billion in bonds—that would be almost $2 trillion in today’s dollars.

3. Reduce, Reuse, Rethink
Living lightly on the Earth, saving resources and money, and sharing (jobs, property, ideas, and opportunities) are crucial principles for restructuring our economy. This economic breakdown is, in part, due to living beyond our means—as a nation and as individuals. With the enormous national and consumer debt weighing us down, we won’t be able to spend our way out of this economic problem. Ultimately, we need an economy that’s not dependent on unsustainable growth and consumerism. So it’s time to rethink our over-consumptive lifestyles, and turn to the principles of elegant simplicity, such as planting gardens, conserving energy, and working cooperatively with our neighbors to share resources and build resilient communities.

4. Go Green and Local
When we do buy, it is essential that those purchases benefit the green and local economy—so that every dollar helps solve social and environmental problems, not create them. Our spending choices matter. We can support our local communities by moving dollars away from conventional agribusiness and big-box stores and toward supporting local workers, businesses, and organic farmers.

5. Community Investing
All over the country, community investing banks, credit unions, and loan funds that serve hard-hit communities are strong, while the biggest banks required bailouts. The basic principles of community investing keep such institutions strong: Lenders and borrowers know each other. Lenders invest in the success of their borrowers—with training and technical assistance along with loans. And the people who provide the capital to the lenders expect reasonable, not speculative, returns. If all banks followed these principles, the economy wouldn’t be in the mess it’s in today.

6. Shareowner Activism
When you own stock, you have the right and responsibility to advise management to clean up its act. Had GM listened to shareholders warning that relying on SUVs would be its downfall, it would have invested in greener technologies, and would not have needed a bailout. Had CitiGroup listened to its shareowners, it would have avoided the faulty mortgage practices that brought it to its knees. Engaged shareholders are key to reforming conventional companies for the transition to this new economy – the green economy that we are building together.

It’s time to move from greed to green.

–Alisa Gravitz

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