Tag: "obama"

03/14/16

  03:07:00 pm, by Laurel Hamilton   , 407 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Climate Change

US and Canada Commit to Clean Energy!

Obama and TrudeauCanada’s new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, ventured south of the border last week to visit the White House, marking the first official Canadian Prime Minister visit in 19 years! What are Trudeau and Obama palling around about? You guessed it… collaboration on a North American transition to renewable energy! The leaders announced a joint strategy to move coordinated climate action even beyond their respective commitments at COP21 in Paris last December.

Trudeau has been much more willing to implement climate change policies than his predecessor, Stephen Harper, who opposed cutting greenhouse gases to the point that he pulled Canada out of the Kyoto Protocol. In the joint announcement they emphasized the special relationship between the two countries and the importance of collaboration on energy development, environmental protection, as well as Arctic leadership.

In the joint press conference they remarked that Paris was a turning point in the global effort to take action on climate and anchor economic growth in a clean energy transformation. One important outcome in Paris was the launch of Mission Innovation. Mission Innovation is a global initiative including 20 countries commiting to double their governments’ clean energy research and development investments over the next five years. Indeed Obama’s 2017 budget is seeking $7.7 billion in discretionary funding to boost clean energy research. (Hopefully those R&D dreams won’t be dashed by Congress.) Last month, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico also signed a memorandum of understanding seeking to expand our countries’ cooperation to include climate change and energy collaboration activities. Building on these and other multilateral agreements, last Thursday the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to working together to:

“strengthen North American energy security, phase out fossil fuel subsidies, accelerate clean energy development to address climate change and to foster sustainable energy development and economic growth.”

Specifics regarding the clean energy highlights of the joint pledge include:

  • Facilitate broader integration of renewable energy onto our interconnected grids.
  • Expand the Energy Star program aligning energy efficiency standards and shared labeling.
  • Strengthen clean energy research and development of: cutting methane emissions, improving electrical grids, accelerating electric vehicle development, carbon capture use and storage, and new innovative technologies.
  • Strengthen the security and resilience of the US-Canadian electricity grid against the threat of climate change impacts and cyber-attacks.

Few further details were included but the leaders’ focus on the need to accelerate clean energy innovation and a transition to renewables is a giant step in the right direction!

Check out the full press conference here: 

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03/07/16

  02:40:00 pm, by Laurel Hamilton   , 648 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Climate Change, Solar Policy

Clean Power Plan Drama In a Nutshell

On August 3, 2015, President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the Clean Power Plan (CPP) – an exciting, historic and truly critical step in tackling climate change. Advocates say its policies will create jobs, make our grid more reliable, and our economies more resilient while helping protect all of us against climate change’s worst impacts. The CPP is the heart of Obama’s effort to uphold commitments agreed upon at the Paris COP21 climate conference last December.

What Does the Clean Power Plan Entail?

Cut CO2 Pollution from Power Plants Nationally

Power plants are the largest polluters in the US. They account for one third of all greenhouse gas emissions! We wrote about the controversial carbon standards for NEW power plants put forth by the EPA in December 2014. Obama’s Clean Power Plan takes it a giant step further by forcing all EXISTING coal-fired power plants to cut carbon emissions by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030.  

A few points on the controversial rules:

  1. States have plenty of time to comply. Final state plans are not due until 2018 and power plants are not required to comply before 2022.
  2. States decide how to meet their energy goals by developing their own individualized plans.
  3. Inter-state emissions cap and trade systems offer a market-based option for compliance. Trade systems create financial incentives to reduce emissions where the costs of doing so are the lowest and gives clean energy investment the highest leverage.
  4. Flexible, market-based compliance options - including inter-state trading - mean that states can design plans around any anticipated reliability issues. This approach will fuel job growth in renewable energy and other innovative efficient technologies.
  5. States can develop their energy mix while saving money by taking advantage of ever-decreasing renewable energy costs.
  6. Three federal agencies will work together to analyze and coordinate oversight. The EPA does not hold the sole responsibility of oversight. 
  7. States can modify plans if necessary. 

Despite the seemingly fair and flexible terms of the Clean Power Plan, vested interests (including coal and mining groups and a coalition of Republican states) fiercely opposed, stating the regulations are an overreach of the EPA’s power. On February 9th the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to stay implementation of the CPP until the litigation challenging the Clean Power Plan is addressed. Justice Scalia’s passing doesn’t change anything since a 4-4 vote also stays the implementation until the Federal District Appeals Court makes a decision likely in late 2016.

Experts are confident that the CPP’s contents are on solid legal ground and courts will ultimately uphold it. However, a final decision is unlikely before June 2017 or even into 2018 (depending on when the Supreme Court makes their final ruling after going through the DC Court). These delays only make global progress more and more difficult as all eyes are on the US to set an example by honoring our Paris climate commitments.

While 27 states filed the petition to delay the CPP implementation, eighteen state governors - both Democratic and Republican - have announced an accord to move forward on clean energy solutions regardless. The governors declared that “we recognize that now is the time to embrace a bold vision of the nation’s energy future,” and that their states “are once again prepared to lead.”

“As the world gets hotter and closer to irreversible climate change, these justices appear tone-deaf as they fiddle with procedural niceties. This arbitrary roadblock does incalculable damage and undermines America’s climate leadership. But make no mistake, this won’t stop California continuing to do its part under the Clean Power Plan.” – California Gov. Jerry Brown

Its leaders like these governors, and many large private businesses who have come out in favor of upholding the Clean Power plan, who seem to understand the gravity of climate change and the many benefits that moving to a clean energy future brings. We hope the alliance of leaders in politics and the private sector continues to grow and soon will outnumber those that back the interests of dirty energy!

11/04/12

  10:21:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 771 words  
Categories: Climate Change, Ranting

Why Sandy Matters

It's Global Warming, Stupid!In 2008, then Senator Barack Obama and his Republican rival, Senator John McCain, did not agree on much but they did agree on this:
Global Warming was real, the activities of human beings were the likely cause, and serious measures - most likely some form of cap-and-trade regime - were needed to deal with the problem.

After all, the science about Global Warming was settled, with 97% of all scientists in the field having concluded the same facts that the presidential candidates acknowledged, and cap-and-trade was a fundamentally conservative, market-based mechanism for regulating emissions which had already been proven successful in addressing the problem of Acid Rain.

Going into the 2008 election it seemed pretty clear: those of us who had been waiting for action on this issue were about to see political will get behind scientific reality.  And not a moment too soon.

Once elected, President Obama and his Democratic allies in the Nancy Pelosi lead House of Representatives turned to making cap-and-trade the law of the land.  The House passed the Waxman-Markey bill in June of 2009, but in the sausage factory that is the U.S. Congress, the bill became larded down with concessions that converted a simple concept into a 1,200 page leviathan that was (almost) as easily opposed from the Left as it was from the Right.

But not quite - the opposition on the Right was well-funded by fossil fuel industry groups that knew that ultimately a tax on carbon emissions, in whatever form, would ultimately lead to the demise of their industry.  Attacks on the science - often headed by the same folks who brought us the denialist attacks from Big Tobacco - were systematic and coordinated at an AstroTurf level.  So-called Climategate soon followed and suddenly Global Warming - or its more malleable cousin, Climate Change - had become an epithet, with prominent Republican Senator James Inhofe labeling it “The Greatest Hoax."  The bill died in the Senate.

Fast forward to the present presidential campaign when it became a matter of faith for all of the contending Republican primary challengers to swear allegiance to the Denialist creed.  We saw that reach its peak during the Republican Convention this summer in Tampa (ironically delayed by a day due to hurricane Isaac), when the newly chosen Republican Presidential Nominee, Mitt Romney, used the idea of sea-level rise from Global Warming as a punch line in his acceptance speech, to the delight of his partisan audience:

Today, no one is laughing.

Hurricane Sandy roared ashore amidst the most densely populated section of the U.S. coastline.  Strengthened by ocean temperatures five degrees above normal and diverted by a high-pressure region believed to have been created over a relatively ice-free Arctic ocean, Sandy caused almost unimaginable destruction: at least 110 deaths over nine states, nearly 8 million people without power, massive flooding in New York (including subways and tunnels never before flooded in the history of the city), New Jersey and Connecticut, and total property damage expected to exceed $50 billion.

After mocking President Obama’s efforts to “reduce sea-level rise and heal the planet,” Sandy revealed Mr. Romney’s misguided taunt for what all denialist memes are - a  colossal policy failure that threatens our ability to exist in coastal zones.  Governors from New Jersey’s staunch Republican Chris Christie (a Romney surrogate and keynote speaker at the RNC) to New York’s Democratic Andrew Cuomo were confronted with the “new normal” of a world experiencing Global Warming, brought home by Sandy.  And New York City’s Independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg - who had vowed to stay neutral in this year’s Presidential contest - found himself compelled to endorse President Obama, citing it as a “Vote for a President to Lead on Climate Change.”

We agree.

Hurricane Sandy should finally, once and for all, bring an end to the debate over Global Warming.  It is here, now, and it is going to get worse.  We need to change what we can, and mitigate what we cannot.  It is going to be incredibly expensive, but to continue denying the impacts of Global Warming will only make things far, far worse.  Sandy was our wake-up call.  Pity that it had to cost over a hundred lives, billions in damage and tremendous pain and suffering for millions.  But we as a Nation are finally awake and the deniers will be tolerated no more.  It is just too costly, too deadly, to follow their lead.

That is why Sandy matters.  It will be remembered as the turning point in our effort to combat Global Warming. Now, finally, it is time to move Forward and tackle this problem with the intensity and focus that its consequences demand.  Your vote on Tuesday should reflect that reality.

10/05/10

  09:52:34 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 308 words  
Categories: Solar Economics, Solar News

Solar Power to Return to the White House

President Obama and Energy Secretary Chu announced today that solar power - both in the form of solar electricity and solar hot water - will be returning to the White House after a long absence. First installed during the Carter Administration - but subsequently removed when Ronald Reagan became President - this new installation of solar power “reflects President Obama’s strong commitment to U.S. leadership in solar energy and the jobs it will create here at home,” said Secretary Chu. “Deploying solar energy technologies across the country will help America lead the global economy for years to come.”

The Solar Industry - which had been pressing hard for President Obama to take this step - reacted with excitement to the news:

“Putting solar on the roof of the nation’s most important home is a powerful symbol calling on all Americans to rethink how we create energy,” said Rhone Resch, President of the Solar Energy Industry Association. “It’s an example of how each one of us can improve energy security, employ Americans and cut energy costs. I can speak from personal experience that taxpayers will benefit. In the four years since I’ve had solar on my house, I’ve gotten a better return on my solar system than on my 401(k).”

At Run on Sun we are excited by the news as well.  That is why we are announcing our first ever solar sale - the White House Solar Sale, to be precise.  In honor of this great leadership moment, we are offering special discounts on solar power systems from now until Election Day - November 2, 2010.  If you sign a contract with Run on Sun between now and then, we will take $500 off the price of a Residential system (3.0 kW or larger) and $1,500 off the price of a Commercial system (20.0 kW or larger).  To get the ball rolling, please sign up at our White House Solar Sale page!

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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