Anti-Fracking Protest Shuts Down Traffic At Energy Companies’ Offices

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By Julia Conley for Common Dreams – The protesters set up two tripod structures in the middle fn a main intersection leading to Southpointe, a 589-acre property in suburban Washington County, Pennsylvania—home to companies including Halliburton, Chesapeake Energy, and Range Resources, all of which participate in fracking and mining. Two community members climbed onto the tripods while three others sat between them with their arms in lockboxes for about four hours before police broke up the demonstration, according to Rising Tide North America, a grassroots environmental group. A woman who was seated between the structures said the companies that operate at Southpointe are “impacting our lives every day in our communities. I’ve been run off the road twice because of truck traffic. I have to wonder about the health of my daughter every day living within a half mile of gas wells.” She added that “the coal operator here is also destroying our only state park,” referring to the efforts of Consol Energy, another company at Southpointe, to obtain a mining permit for Ryerson Station State Park. A community member named Patrick Young said that the disruption of traffic into the office park can’t be compared to the damage being done by the companies.

West Virginia Signs Investment Pact With China Energy

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By Staff for Associated Press – West Virginia officials announced an agreement on Thursday with China Energy Investment Corp. Ltd. for the company to invest $83.7 billion in shale gas development and chemical manufacturing in West Virginia over 20 years. State Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher and China Energy President Ling Wen signed the memorandum in Beijing as part of the U.S.-China trade mission and an overall $250 billion of planned Chinese investments in the U.S. It during President Trump’s visit to Beijing. West Virginia commerce officials said project planning is already underway and will focus on power generation, chemical manufacturing and underground storage of natural gas liquids and derivatives. The state was chosen for its position as an energy producer and its large underground shale gas reserves. “West Virginia has actively sought direct foreign investment to strengthen and diversify our economy,” Thrasher said. Toyota, Hino Motors, Gestamp, Sogefi and other corporations with international parent companies have created jobs and generated income in the state, and they expect China Energy to bring mutual benefits, he said. West Virginia University since 2002 has been jointly researching coal liquefaction with mining company Shenhua Group, which merged with energy company Guodian Group to form China Energy.

Newsletter - People Act Where US Fails On Climate

Protesters march during a demonstration against the Dakota Access Pipeline on March 10, 2017 in Washington D.C. Thousands of protesters and members of Native nations marched in Washington D.C. to oppose the construction of the proposed 1,172 Dakota Access Pipeline that runs within a half-mile of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota. 
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. The climate crisis is upon us. It seems that every report on climate conditions has one thing in common: things are worse than predicted. The World Meteorological Report from the end of October shows that Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) are rising at a rapid rate and have passed 400 parts per million. According to Dr. Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, “the changes we’re making today are occurring in 100 years, whereas in nature they occur in 10,000 years.” The United States is experiencing a wide range of climate impacts from major hurricanes in the South to unprecedented numbers of wildfires in the West to crop-destroying drought in the Mid-West.

Taking Back Power: Public Power As A Vehicle Towards Energy Democracy

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By Johanna Bozuwa for The Next System Project – “We would line up all of our inhalers in a row on the benches before we would go run, just in case,” recounts Kristen Ethridge; an Indiana resident near some of the most polluting power plants in the country. Asthma rates are so bad from the toxic emissions that many students cannot make it through gym class without their inhalers. Cancer and infant mortality rates in the area are through the roof. These plants are owned by some of the biggest names in the utility business including groups like Duke Energy and AEP. Gibson Power Plant, the worst of them all, emits 2.9 million pounds of toxic compounds and 16.3 million metric tons of greenhouse gases a year. What’s more, most of the energy generated in these plants is transported out of state, leaving Indiana with all the emissions and very little gain. Indiana’s power plants provide a window into how our current electrical system works. It is a system dominated by a small number of large powerful companies, called investor-owned utilities. Their centralized fossil fuel plants are at the heart of our aging electricity grid—a core contributor to rapidly-accelerating climate change. The carbon emissions associated with these power providers are but one symptom of larger systemic issues in the sector. Investor-owned utilities are traditionally profit-oriented corporations whose structures are based on an paradigm of extraction.

Newsletter - From Neoliberal Injustice To Economic Democracy

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By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers. This week, we will focus on positive work that people are doing to change current systems in ways that reduce the wealth divide, meet basic needs, build peace and sustainability and provide greater control over our lives. The work to transform society involves two parallel paths: resisting harmful systems and institutions and creating new systems and institutions to replace them. Throughout US history, resistance movements have coincided with the growth of economic democracy alternatives such as worker cooperatives, mutual aid and credit unions.

Investigation Links Berta Cáceres’s Assassination To Execs At Honduran Dam Company

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By Staff of Democracy Now – We look at shocking revelations released Tuesday that link the assassination of renowned Honduran indigenous environmental leader Berta Cáceres to the highest levels of the company whose hydroelectric dam project she and her indigenous Lenca community were protesting. We speak with New York Times reporter Elisabeth Malkin, who has read the new report by a team of five international lawyers who found evidence that the plot to kill Cáceres went up to the top of the Honduran energy company behind the dam, Desarrollos Energéticos, known as “DESA.” The lawyers were selected by Cáceres’s daughter Bertha Zúniga and are independent of the Honduran government’s ongoing official investigation. They examined some 40,000 pages of text messages. The investigation also revealed DESA exercised control over security forces in the area, issuing directives and paying for police units’ room, board and equipment

4 Energy Cooperatives Leading The Way To A Sustainable Future

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By Lynn Benander, Diego Angarita Horowitz, Isaac Baker for Island Press – In the early 2000s in the northeastern United States, a perfect storm was brewing in which the electric utilities were about to be deregulated, activists were organizing to fight climate change, and entrepreneurs were experimenting with various renewable energy technologies. Consumers had few sustainable energy choices. Solar systems installed in the 1970s sat idle, with few solar companies still in operation able to get them back up and running. People in the Northeast have a tradition of direct democracy in governing their towns through town meetings, and barn raisings are commonly known as events where people come together to build a barn. Though communities are largely segregated by class and race, there are many places where people come together across class and race and get things done. It’s also a part of the United States where climate change is having a noticeable impact, not only on the weather, but on the forests, too. Co-op Power, launched in 2004, is a multiracial, multiclass cooperative movement. It’s a consumer-owned energy cooperative working for a just and sustainable energy future. It is also a decentralized network of community energy cooperatives in New England and New York dedicated to working together as agents of social, economic, and environmental change in their region…

100% Renewables: ‘Wishful Thinking’ Or An Imperative Goal?

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By David Schwartzman for Insurge Intelligence – The Military Industrial (Fossil Fuel Nuclear State Terror and Surveillance) Complex (“MIC” for short) is the main obstacle to making this rapid shift to 100% renewable energy possible. As I have long argued in my papers, and most recently in Schwartzman (2016), the MIC’s perpetual wars driven by a neo-imperial agenda, fuelling the vicious cycle of conflict between state terror and its non-state terrorist antagonists, is perhaps the most fundamental obstacle to constructive action on climate change. Hence, a path towards the dissolution of the MIC is essential for the world to have any remaining chance to keep warming below the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal by 2100, coupled with bringing down the atmospheric carbon dioxide level below 350 ppm. A Global Green New Deal is such a path (Schwartzman, 2011), as argued by Felix FitzRoy in his outstanding contribution to this symposium “How the renewable energy transition could usher in an economic revolution”. In this vein, the underlying structural obstacle to transition is the presently existing political economy of neoliberal capitalism, and not the alleged technical problems cited by Cox — which are misleadingly used as ammunition against the feasibility of the imperative need to facilitate a rapid 100% global renewable wind/solar energy transition.

Taking Back Power: Public Power As A Vehicle Towards Energy Democracy

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By Johanna Bozuwa for The Next System Project – “We would line up all of our inhalers in a row on the benches before we would go run, just in case,” recounts Kristen Ethridge; an Indiana resident near some of the most polluting power plants in the country. Asthma rates are so bad from the toxic emissions that many students cannot make it through gym class without their inhalers. Cancer and infant mortality rates in the area are through the roof. These plants are owned by some of the biggest names in the utility business including groups like Duke Energy and AEP. Gibson Power Plant, the worst of them all, emits 2.9 million pounds of toxic compounds and 16.3 million metric tons of greenhouse gases a year. What’s more, most of the energy generated in these plants is transported out of state, leaving Indiana with all the emissions and very little gain. Indiana’s power plants provide a window into how our current electrical system works. It is a system dominated by a small number of large powerful companies, called investor-owned utilities. Their centralized fossil fuel plants are at the heart of our aging electricity grid—a core contributor to rapidly-accelerating climate change. The carbon emissions associated with these power providers are but one symptom of larger systemic issues in the sector.

Newsletter - Mobilize For System Change

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By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. Decades of neo-liberal economic policies in the United States and debt, which is required by the bottom 90% to survive, have fanned political unrest and the call for revolution, rather than reform. Just as Obama and the Democrat’s populist façade disintegrated under a growing wealth divide, worsening climate change and militarization of our communities and woke many self-described progressives up to the need for systemic changes, the Trump presidency could have similar effects on conservatives. Voters who thought they were ending the status quo, “draining the swamp,” by voting for Trump may find that loss of health care, trade deals that drive a race to the bottom and tax cuts for the wealthy move them to be open to solutions they may have once rejected.

Energy Forecast Sees Global Emissions Growing, Thwarting Paris Climate Accord

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By John H. Cuahman JR. for Inside Climate News – The U.S. government’s energy forecasting branch issued its formal international prognosis on Thursday, and it paints a picture of a world still so addicted to fossil fuels that emissions of global warming pollution continue to increase for the foreseeable future. The Energy Information Agency (EIA) projected that worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels would grow 16 percent by the year 2040 from the levels of 2015, the year that the nations of the world agreed to the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change that is intended to reverse the trend. Absent any policy changes, the business-as-usual “reference case” findings at the heart of the agency’s International Energy Outlook 2017 report can’t be squared with the ambitions of Paris, which demand quick action to bring emissions down sharply and avoid the worst risks of a warming planet. The EIA, despite being part of the U.S. Department of Energy, conducts its analyses without regard to the policy agenda of the administration that happens to be in office. In this case, that’s the Trump administration, which the report noted has announced its intention to quit the Paris accord, has jettisoned the emission pledge presented by the Obama administration during the treaty negotiations, and has announced that it wants to rewrite the centerpiece of federal climate policy, the Clean Power Plan, which is being challenged in court by the fossil fuel industry and its mainly Republican political allies.

DOE Officially Marks SunShot’s $1 Per Watt Goal For Utility-Scale Solar

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By Julia Pyper for GTM – It’s official. The solar industry has met the 2020 utility-scale solar cost target set by the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative — three years early. The DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released new research today that shows the average price of utility-scale solar is now under $1 per watt and below 6 cents per kilowatt-hour. That’s higher than the record-breaking project bids we’ve seen in the U.S. and abroad in recent years. But that’s because DOE calculations for levelized cost of energy (LCOE) do not include subsidies — such as the federal Investment Tax Credit — and are based on the average climate in Kansas City, Missouri. (Note: GTM documented the sub-$1 per watt milestone earlier this year, but the department is using its own metrics.) “Our mission is to make solar affordable for all Americans, and so our goals are defined for average U.S. climates. We use Kansas City as that example,” said Becca Jones-Albertus, acting deputy director of the SunShot Initiative. “Hitting a 6 cents per kilowatt-hour target for Kansas is a more significant metric than hitting 6 cents in sunnier parts of the country.” GTM Research reported that U.S. utility-scale fixed-tilt system pricing fell below $1.00 per watt earlier this year using a different methodology.

Utilities Plot Ways To Prep Grid For Coming EV Boom

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By Herman K. Trabish for Utility Drive. California – Electrifying the transportation sector is no easy task. But, as with many innovations occurring in the power sector, California is leading the way. The California Public Utilities Commission recently approved two rounds of pilot proposals to electrify transportation from the state’s investor-owned utilities (IOUs). These pilots will cost a combined $1.3 billion and go beyond Gov. Jerry Brown (D)’s plan to have 1.5 million zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) on the road by 2025. The pilot projects would cover the gamut of possible ways to boost electric vehicle deployment including rate designs, smart charger buildout, public education efforts, and help utilities avoid upgrade costs, said Jim Lazar, senior advisor for the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP).

Trump’s New FERC Commissioner Rob Powelson Accepted Gifts From Energy Industry

Screen shot of Robert Powelson during his FERC nomination hearing. Credit: U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, public domain

By Itai Vardi for Desmog Blog – Robert Powelson, President Donald Trump’s newly appointed commissioner to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), received both gifts and reimbursements for travel, lodging, and hospitality from the energy and utility sectors in his previous position as a state regulator. He will now regulate those sectors at the federal level. Powelson, a Republican, began his tenure at FERC last week. Documents and emails recently uncovered by the Energy & Policy Institute, a watchdog monitoring attacks on renewable energy, indicate that he maintained a close relationship with industry groups as a member of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. In addition, earlier this year, Powelson said pipeline opponents are engaged in “jihad,” a statement which drew criticism from activists and further solidified his pro-industry image. NFL Game and Industry Conferences. DeSmog has found that according to Powelson’s financial interest disclosures at the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission, in September 2013 he accepted two tickets from NRG Energy to attend a football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and San Diego Chargers. Each ticket cost $105. Powelson attended the game with James Steffes, a senior vice president at NRG Energy, a large energy company operating numerous power generating stations throughout the U.S.

How Electricity Cooperatives In The US Are Paving The Way For A Renewable Future

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By Kevin Stark for Shareable – That’s exactly how the cooperative system is supposed to work, he added. It’s an example of a core tenant of electricity cooperatives: sharing ideas. “It’s a mission. It’s time for us to learn from them and do what they are doing.” Woolery said. Wynn signs on to this philosophy too. In 2017, he wrote an open invitation for any other co-op to copy the program. “It is really hard to argue against energy efficiency,” Woolery says, adding that it’s all about economic development. “We want to create jobs and opportunity and wealth that stays in Appalachia, because so much has been extracted from it.” So far, How$martKY has funneled $2.5 million to local contractors for performing efficiency upgrades on homes, but the program hasn’t reached the same scale as in Roanoke. Still, he’s worked with organizations from California to Arkansas to develop similar programs. He testified on behalf of the program at the Kentucky state legislature in the city of Frankfort. Most recently, Woolery went to the Lausitz region of Eastern Germany for a summit on how coal communities can transition to renewable energy.