Almost everyone on Earth breathes unhealthy air. That’s the alarming conclusion from the latest update of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) air quality database, which drew on data from more than 6,000 cities in 117 countries. The organization argued that the figures were another argument in favor of phasing out the use of fossil fuels. “Current energy concerns highlight the importance of speeding up the transition to cleaner, healthier energy systems,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press release. “High fossil fuel prices, energy security, and the urgency of addressing the twin health challenges of air pollution and climate change, underscore the pressing need to move faster towards a world that is much less dependent on fossil fuels.”
A news release includes some almost hidden news. The lede: “Southern California Edison, one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, has completed its West of Devers transmission lines.” The company said the deal was important because it added more power, renewable and battery energy storage to serve Southern California. And, as Kevin Payne, the utility’s president put it, the new lines will make it easier to distribute “energy resources like rooftop solar and battery energy storage” and “will contribute to decarbonizing our electric infrastructure, large-scale generation and reliable delivery of renewable energy will be vital to achieving California’s ambitious climate goals.” OK so far. Reading further down it’s clear that a tribe is involved with the project.
The world is threatened with environmental disaster and capitalists hope to make a killing off of it. Fossil fuel (FF) companies claim they are “environmentally friendly.” Other corporations promote nuclear energy, hydro-power (dams), and solar and wind power as the best energy alternatives. Yet environmentalists have known for decades that reduction of useless and harmful energy is the “greenest” form of energy available. Over 50 years ago, the first Earth Day recognized this with the slogan “Reduce; Reuse; Recycle.” Today, corporate “environmentalism” chants “Recycle; Occasionally Reuse; and, Never Utter ‘Reduce.’” Even mentioning the word “reduce” can be met with howls of derision that “Reduction means ‘austerity,’” as if any type of collective self-control would plunge the world into depths of suffering.
People the world over are opposing fossil fuel extraction in an incalculable number of ways. It is now clear that burning fossil fuels threatens millions of Life forms and could be laying the foundation for the extermination of Humanity. But what about “alternative” energy? As progressives stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those rejecting fossil fuels and nuclear power, should we despise, ignore, or commend those who challenge the menace to their homes and their communities from solar, wind and hydro-power (dams)? The Gateway Green Alliance gave its answer with unanimous approval of a version of the statement below in May, 2021. The monumental increase in the use of energy is provoking conflicts across the Earth. We express our solidarity with those struggling against extraction, including these examples.
Over the course of my career, I have been humbled by what the people in the Ohio River Valley have given to me. I recall those community members who kindly served me coffee made with bottled water because their wells had been compromised by the then-new fracking industry; gifts of home-grown fruit that ripened despite the adjacent coal ash disposal area blowing a thick dust over all adjoining properties; and donuts shared with retired mine workers as we stood in the cold demanding the benefits they earned putting their bodies on the line to line the pockets of their corporate bosses. What I know to be true about the region is that the depth of character, work ethic, and commitment to community here is unparalleled, and it is time to give back to a region that has given us all so much.
When Aroldo Garcia learned that the operations base for a major offshore wind project was coming to his Brooklyn neighborhood, he thought about the jobs it could provide for his family members and friends who worked as handymen and contractors, and for others who didn’t have work at all. The project promised to bring more than a thousand new jobs to a waterfront site in Sunset Park, a largely immigrant, working-class community where many residents have struggled to keep up with the rising cost of living. It was, he thought, exactly the type of development people had been waiting for. “These are not service type jobs that pay low wages,” Garcia said. “These are going to be technical jobs that pay good wages. And I think the community needs that.”
The activist investor leading a proxy fight to reshape Exxon Mobil Corp on Monday named the four directors it wants shareholders to remove at the oil company’s upcoming annual general meeting. The investor, Engine No. 1, is a small fund that last year took on the top U.S. oil producer for what it said was poor financial returns and a lagging approach to cleaner fuels. Exxon since has vowed to cut its debt, invest more in low-carbon initiatives, and improve returns. The fund singled out for removal three former chief executives of prominent U.S. companies and the former head of Malaysia’s state-run oil firm who joined the board last month. Its nominees for the board include a former U.S. Energy Department official and an executive at a wind turbine developer-manufacturer.
What began three years ago as a campaign to stop the spraying of weedkiller under power lines near homes in the Appalachian mountains of northeast Tennessee, has become an example of a more democratic process at electric cooperatives across the country. Member-owners of the Powell Valley Rural Electric Cooperative earned the right to opt-out of spraying, and persuaded their co-op board to let them attend board meetings in ways that were previously prohibited. Some members of Powell Valley have also begun to ask for a program to help members finance energy efficiency measures to save money. These were small steps toward a more transparent and responsive electricity provider, but small steps can lead to bigger ones, said Bill Kornrich, a retired arts administrator who, with friends and neighbors, is part of Powell Valley Electric Co-op Member Voices, a group that’s been behind the reforms.
In early December hundreds of Syrians gathered to protest the Israeli company Energix as it began construction of massive wind turbines in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Energix is also facing growing community opposition across Virginia as it lobbies to secure permits to build solar energy utilities on mostly agricultural parcels with cultural, forest and natural land designations. In Golan Heights, Energix freely wields the power of Israeli police and courts to transcend community opposition. In Virginia, Energix steamrolls community opponents empowered by massive federal and state subsidies and a curious state agency – the Virginia Israel Advisory Board – that exclusively promotes Israeli business ventures.
A state appeals court affirmed Friday that communities concerned about air quality and climate pollution have the right to challenge natural gas-fired and thermal power plants in the lower courts, not just in the Supreme Court, which has historically refused to take up these challenges. The decision marks a win after about seven years of litigation by the Center for Biological Diversity, Earthjustice and Communities for a Better Environment, who argued that jurisdictional laws effectively and unconstitutionally blocked Californians from challenging power plant permits issued by the California Energy Commission.
The tide has shifted on dams. Once a monument to our engineering prowess, there’s now widespread acknowledgment that dam-building comes with a long list of harms. Some of those can be reversed, as shown by the 1,200 dam removals in the past 20 years. But the future of our existing dams, including 2,500 hydroelectric facilities, is a complicated issue in the age of climate change. Dams have altered river flows, changed aquatic habitat, decimated fish populations, and curtailed cultural and treaty resources for tribes. But does the low-carbon power dams produce have a role in our energy transition?
Newark, NJ - New Jersey Transit has backed off a plan to build a gas-fired power plant in northern New Jersey that drew opposition from environmental groups and surrounding towns. The agency announced at its board meeting Wednesday night that it will repurpose the project to focus on renewable energy sources. NJ Transit’s board approved the hiring of a renewable energy consultant and up to $3 million in stipends to project bidders. NJ Transit President and CEO Kevin Corbett called the project “a critical resiliency project that ensures we can maintain limited, but vital, rail service for our customers in the event of local and regional power interruptions.”
I spend just about every day talking to the researchers, entrepreneurs and advocates behind the transition to clean energy. Their enthusiasm, plus the evidence of their progress, makes me feel like I'm covering the story of our lifetimes. Don't get me wrong. I'm not hand-waving and talking about how markets and innovation will solve everything, although both of these things are crucial. And I'm not minimizing the reality that the U.S. and most countries are way behind in cutting emissions enough to stave off the worst effects of climate change, or the fact that there are many bad actors. The negative indicators, from melting arctic ice to the wide-ranging effects of extreme heat, are often terrifying. But I'm optimistic, largely because of the big changes happening in the ways we produce and consume energy.
Once a world leader in the technology and manufacture of solar panels, Europe now lags far behind China and other Asian countries. It faces shortages of supplies and disruption to them, according to the annual PV status report of the European Commission’s Science Hub. The report says the installation rate of panels has to increase “drastically” − more than five times by 2025, and double that again if Europe is to convert to electric cars and fuels like hydrogen.
Ten years after the publication of their first plan for powering the world with wind, water, and solar, researchers offer an updated vision of the steps that 143 countries around the world can take to attain 100% clean, renewable energy by the year 2050. The new roadmaps, publishing December 20 in the journal One Earth, follow up on previous work that formed the basis for the energy portion of the U.S. Green New Deal and other state, city, and business commitments to 100% clean, renewable energy around the globe—and use the latest energy data available in each country to offer more precise guidance on how to reach those commitments.