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Business Leaders Urge Congress to Extend Renewable Energy Tax Credit — Ceres

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Today, 19 companies, including major consumer brands and several Fortune 500 firms, wrote to Congressional leaders encouraging them to extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC), a key provision supporting renewable energy.

The PTC provides a tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of renewable power generated and, if lawmakers fail to act, is set to expire in 2012. Originally signed into law by George H.W. Bush, the tax credit has helped to strengthen energy diversity, reduce reliance on fossil fuels and keep electricity costs low for homes and businesses across the country.

“For consumers of wind electricity, the economic benefits of the PTC are tremendous. The PTC has enabled the industry to slash wind energy costs – 90% since 1980 – a big reason why companies like ours are buying increasing amounts of renewable energy,” the companies wrote in their letter. “Extending the PTC lowers prices for all consumers, keeps America competitive in a global marketplace and creates homegrown American jobs.”

The signatories of the letter demonstrate how a broad cross-section of U.S. companies are increasingly relying on inexpensive and abundant American wind energy to power their businesses. The signers include:  Akamai Technologies; Annie’s, Inc.; Aspen Skiing Company; Ben & Jerry’s; Clif Bar; Johnson & Johnson; Jones Lang LaSalle; Levi Strauss & Co; New Belgium Brewing; The North Face; Pitney Bowes; the Portland Trail Blazers; Seventh Generation; Sprint; Starbucks; Stonyfield Farm; Symantec; Timberland; and Yahoo!. Many of these firms are members of Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP), a project of Ceres.

Sprint, a national top 50 green power purchaser, highlighted the PTC’s importance to meeting its renewable energy goals:

“Sprint has committed to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and increase its use of renewable energy sources for electricity,” said Amy Hargroves, manager, corporate social responsibility at Sprint. “That’s why we have been actively working to meet our goal to secure 10 percent of our total electricity through renewable energy sources by 2017.  We support the extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind because it has enabled companies like Sprint to make the shift to abundant, clean, and homegrown wind energy.”

Members of BICEP like New Belgium Brewing also expressed strong support for the PTC:

“New Belgium Brewing has made investing in renewable power a strategic priority because it’s the right thing to do for the environment, for our business, and for clean energy employment,” said Jenn Vervier, director, strategic development and sustainability at New Belgium Brewing. “Over the past several years, we’ve seen clean energy job growth in our home state of Colorado and a vision for building a more resilient power grid by integrating renewables. Extending the Production Tax Credit will help to ensure that those positive trends continue across the nation.”

“The Production Tax Credit helps every business that purchases renewable power: It’s just that simple,” said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, which coordinates BICEP. “Letting the PTC expire now would increase energy costs for homes and businesses at exactly the wrong time. For Congress, the message from business leaders is clear: Extend the PTC and help us build the economy.”

Navigant Consulting estimates that extending the PTC for four additional years would result in 95,000 wind-supported jobs and $16.3 billion in investment by 2016. However, failing to immediately extend the PTC would result in the loss of more than 37,000 American jobs and $10 billion in investment in 2013.

Bolstered by the PTC, wind energy accounted for 35% of new electrical generation capacity installed in the past five years, and now supplies 20% of electricity in states like Iowa and South Dakota. From 2004 through 2011, non-hydroelectric renewable energy more than doubled and now accounts for nearly 5% of electricity generation in the U.S.

BICEP is an advocacy coalition of businesses committed to working with policy makers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation enabling a rapid transition to a low-carbon, 21st century economy – an economy that will create new jobs and stimulate economic growth while stabilizing our planet’s fragile climate. BICEP is a project of Ceres. www.ceres.org/bicep

Ceres is an advocate for sustainability leadership.  Ceres mobilizes a powerful coalition of investors, companies and public interest groups to accelerate and expand the adoption of sustainable business practices and solutions to build a healthy global economy. Ceres also directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a network of 100 institutional investors with collective assets totaling more than $10 trillion.

Our Congress is choking on 2.2 cents per kW-hr but has no problem with much larger breaks for the coal companies…

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tweetingdonal:

We’ve been watching this situation with a sort of grim determination.

The determination is to know the truth, the somber attitude because we know what the truth implies about the future of our civilization.

There is far more to be concerned about in those two images (above) than anything the Romans faced when the Visigoth‘s rebelled.

All those projections, about what’s going to happen in 2050?  Those were based on theories about how we would act to stop Climate change. Well, we just broke the 2007 melt record, and we’re still melting.

The theories were too optimistic. There was always a worry about sounding an alarm, losing credibility. Well  Climate Change is only a “theory” in the sense that “The Theory of Gravity” is a theory. Calling it a theory doesn’t invalidate it’s effects. If you let go of something, it still falls. Climate change is here, it’s real, and it’s happening right on top of you no matter what you call it.

The melting of the Arctic Sea Ice isn’t just about sea level rise. It means record heat, droughts, floods, it means rain when you don’t want it and none when you need it. It means winters without snow, and springs that happen too soon.  That Sea Ice is part of the engine that drives the world’s weather, and losing it means our world must change along with it.

We know the cause, we know how to start fixing it, and we can easily do it. But we have to show enough sense, and enough care for each other to actually step up.

The time to step up is now. We best start steppin, or real soon there won’t be anywhere to go.

Originally posted on Climate Denial Crock of the Week:

National Snow and Ice Data Center:

Arctic sea ice appears to have broken the 2007 record daily extent and is now the lowest in the satellite era. With two to three more weeks left in the melt season, sea ice continues to track below 2007 daily extents.

Please note that this is not an announcement of the sea ice minimum extent for 2012. NSIDC will release numbers for the 2012 daily minimum extent when it occurs. A full analysis of the melt season will be published in early October, once monthly data are available for September.

Arctic sea ice extent fell to 4.10 million square kilometers (1.58 million square miles) on August 26, 2012. This was 70,000 square kilometers (27,000 square miles) below the September 18, 2007 daily extent of 4.17 million square kilometers (1.61 million square miles).

Including this year, the six lowest ice extents in the satellite record…

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Keep Shell Out of the Arctic! | Save BioGems

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For years, Shell has been vying for one environmental jewel that has remained off-limits to the company’s drill rigs: the Polar Bear Seas off the northern coast of Alaska, including the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Polar bear mother and cub
Exxon Valdez oil spill, Alaska

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.The Obama Administration has just given Shell a tentative go-ahead to begin drilling this summer off the coastline of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—the polar bear’s most important denning ground in Alaska. An oil spill is all but assured if the company moves forward with full-scale oil production. Even worse, the oil industry has no proven method for cleaning up oil in the Arctic‘s ice-filled waters. So the death toll of oil-soaked and poisoned polar bears, whales and seals would be unimaginable.

-Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., NRDC Senior Attorney

Looks like Shell Oil, you know, Royal Dutch Shell?, is finally going to get their way in the Arctic. Despite the fact that they don’t have a plan to handle a spill, don’t have effective technology to handle an accident, and our government lacks technology or money to handle a problem, we’ve given them a shot at creating another Deepwater Horizon for the Arctic. Oh, and to make a lot of money exporting petroleum.

In case you think this drilling will cut your gas bill, guess again. Our number 1 export last year was, wait for it, Gasoline! (“Gas, other fuels are top U.S. export – USATODAY.com” http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/energy/story/2011-12-31/united-state… ) We’re using less gas, so they’re selling it offshore to South America rather than cut prices. They won’t cut prices, they’ll keep them high and sell whatever we don’t use offshore and pocket the profits.

Which is why they want to drill in the Arctic so badly. Not to reduce our energy dependence on foreign oil. Just to make more money while soaking your wallet.

I do, indeed, have a problem with this. If you do too, have a look at the attached.

KEEP SHELL OUT OF THE ARCTIC! http://www.savebiogems.org/stop-shell/

U.S. should lead the way to halt climate change

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The following editorial appeared in the Miami Herald on Friday, Dec. 2:

The U.N. Climate Summit opened over the weekend in Durban, South Africa, amid still more evidence of dangerous changes in extreme weather patterns. The drought in Texas and across the southern United States, along with record flooding in parts of Africa and Asia, are signs of an ominous trend supported by recent reports based on scientific data:

-Thirteen of the world’s hottest years on record have all occurred in the last 15 years. As if to put an exclamation point on this alarming pattern, this year was also the hottest ever to coincide with the cooling effect of La Nina, the weather system in the Pacific that is supposed to reduce global temperatures.

-This year was the 10th hottest year since 1850, when accurate measurements began. This phenomenon brought higher temperatures all over the globe. In northern Russia, October temperatures were 7 degrees above average. Next-door Finland had the hottest summer in 200 years.

-Closer to home, sea ice in the Arctic shrank to its second lowest surface area after 2007, with measurements at record levels of thin ice. In the coming weeks, another scientific report is expected to declare that the risk posed by undeniably increasing levels in the ocean raises the prospect of destroying low-lying coastal areas of the Northern Hemisphere – including parts of Florida.

These findings were disclosed by credible, science-based groups, including the World Meteorological Organization and Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in separate but complementary reports that support what most climate experts have been saying for decades: The world is warming, and the warming is due to the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that can be attributed to human activity and exploding carbon levels.

Climate skeptics will doubtless brush this aside as the work of forces that want to impose government controls on carbon emissions and every conceivable human activity that affects the air we breathe, but it’s harder to brush aside the conversion of one of the most prominent skeptics in academia, Richard Muller, a respected physicist at UC-Berkeley.

“Global warming is real,” he wrote in The Wall Street Journal last October. Mr. Muller said the findings of his own research team confirmed the accepted conventional wisdom that he and others once scorned as the product of “activist frenzy” within the scientific community.

All of this lends a new level of urgency to the meeting in Durban, where politics and ideology threaten to obstruct progress toward concerted action by the world community to halt, or even reverse, the global warming trend. Organizations like the Sierra Club and the Union of Concerned Scientists say the Obama administration has failed to live up to the president’s promise as a candidate to lead the way to decisive action on climate change.

Specifically, the administration has been dragging its feet on the issue of what to do with the Kyoto Treaty – which focuses on emission reductions – when it expires next year. Instead of holding off until 2020 before any new treaty can take effect, as the administration has proposed, it should work to achieve consensus to strengthen the treaty before any more damage is done.

The point is rapidly approaching, scientists say, when global warming becomes irreversible. Action should be taken today to save the world of a devastating tomorrow.

These short summaries are showing up everywhere. Is anyone reading them?

I can’t tell.

MinnPost – Don Shelby: A video of Rep. Don Young every American should see

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A video of Rep. Don Young every American should see

By Don Shelby | Published Tue, Nov 22 2011 10:55 am

On Nov. 18 the celebrated historian, Dr. Douglas Brinkley, testified before the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee. The committee was taking testimony on another congressional effort to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil exploration and drilling.

Brinkley was there to suggest that the ANWR be designated a national monument, preserved and protected. Brinkley knows about conservation. Among his award-winning publications and best-selling books is “Wilderness Warrior” about Theodore Roosevelt’s environmental policies. His most recent book, “The Quiet World,” traces the history of Alaska’s wilderness. He’s currently writing a new history on the conservation movement in America.

After Brinkley delivered his testimony, Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, walked into the hearing late. Please watch this short clip of what happened:

By way of full disclosure, Dr. Brinkley is a friend of mine, but had Dr. Brinkley been a stranger to me, I would still be mortified that a United States congressman would treat a guest of the House in such a fashion. I hope this piece of video is seen by as many Americans as possible. I shouldn’t like people in other countries to see it. We still have an image to uphold in the world. Young makes it look like the most powerful nation on earth is run by the inmates of the asylum.

You may also notice that Dr. Brinkley doesn’t suffer fools gladly. I talked to him about the confrontation. He told me: “I felt like I needed to hold my own against them. I feel good about it.”

He continued: “I’m a historian and I read a lot of testimony. It is important to me to have an accurate record. I thought I needed to set the record straight for CongressmanYoung. My name is not Dr. Rice, it is Dr. Brinkley.”

That is certainly part of it. It is likely, as well, that Brinkley had studied the history of Congressman Young before he arrived at the hearing. Brinkley told me he knew that Congressman Young, at another hearing, had waved a walrus penis bone at Mollie Beattie, the incoming chief of the Fish and Wildlife Service. Brinkley may have read the Rolling Stone article about Young that quotes the congressman as saying, “Environmentalists are a self-centered bunch of waffle-stomping, Harvard-graduating, intellectual idiots.” The quote continues, “[They] are not Americans, never have been Americans and never will be Americans.”

I don’t think Congressman Young would have dared say such a thing to Teddy Roosevelt’s face.

Missed votes
Brinkley should not have been surprised that Congressman Young showed up late and missed the bulk of the historian’s testimony. Young is often cited as the congressman missing more votes than any other member of the House. Brinkley would have known that Young was the co-sponsor, with discredited Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, of the bill to pay for the infamous “bridge to nowhere.”

Brinkley told me: “Everyone knows that Young is just a menacing blowhard. He has a history of being rude, he browbeats and he’s snotty toward anyone who cares about the environment.”

I asked Brinkley if he was surprised that Committee Chair Doc Hastings took Young’s side and continued lecturing the historian. “No,” said Brinkley. “They are tied together at the hip. They are both oil company factotums. They are a tag team.”

Had Young been in the room for Brinkley’s testimony, he would have heard an interesting history lesson. Brinkley told those present that President Dwight D. Eisenhower had set aside the ANWR, and protected it the same way Ike had protected Antarctica. Brinkley is proposing that President Obama set aside the ANWR as a national monument using the 1906 Antiquities Act.

Dr. Douglas Brinkley

Dr. Douglas Brinkley

“Eisenhower created it as a refuge,” Brinkley said.

So Brinkley suggests a new name and new status for ANWR. “I think it should be called the Dwight Eisenhower National Monument,” he said.

But what about the oil?

According to the United States Geological Survey, there is a good deal of oil beneath the coastal plains of the ANWR. But there is, in relative terms, very little when compared to world demand. Pump it dry and it would be emptied in less than a year.

Another Republican congressman, Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland, always votes against drilling the ANWR. It makes him unpopular in the caucus room. But the old biology teacher-turned congressman doesn’t object to drilling on environmental grounds. Bartlett told me that he votes against draining it now. He thinks it is smarter to save it for future generations who might need it, and use it more efficiently.

Bartlett doesn’t think it is wise to pump the ANWR dry just to consume it in highly inefficient cars and trucks. Bartlett drives a Prius, which is another thing that drives the caucus a little crazy.

Same argument
Young chided Brinkley by saying that no one ever goes to the ANWR. Brinkley told me, “They used the same argument when considering whether to set aside the Grand Canyon. ‘Nobody ever goes there,’ they said.”

The Grand Canyon is back up for debate, by the same forces who wish to open the ANWR for oil drilling. Congress is considering bills to open up areas near the Grand Canyon for uranium mining. It was being rushed through until someone noticed that the company doing the mining was from Russia, and no one had checked whether there were any safeguards preventing Grand Canyon uranium from going into Iranian nukes.

“Our park lands, our treasured areas are under attack,” Brinkley told me. “We fought hard to protect these wild places and that makes the United States unique. China is destroying its landscape. We have a history of preserving ours.”

Brinkley believes Young and his ilk have another reasons for going into the ANWR, and it has nothing to do with oil. “I think they believe,” he said, “if they can open up the ANWR, molest it piece by piece, they will demoralize the whole environmental movement.”

Brinkley believes, as Young has made clear, there are members of Congress who see people who would protect wild places as the enemy of the country. “The Coastal Plain of the ANWR has an unbelievably rich marine environment,” Brinkley said. “It is where the caribou calve. It is where the polar bear den.”

To Congressman Don Young’s ears, such talk borders on treason.

Brinkley has a ready response. “Congressman Don Young is a low-grade Joseph McCarthy.”

Rep Young, the old fool, keeps getting reelected by the money machine in Alaska. I suspect that Alaska is the only place he could keep getting re-elected, since he’d be dumped by any electorate that actually cared who represented them.

Alaska has the fortunate distinction of remaining a frontier, which means that moneyed interests have huge legislative influence, and for most folks, if the law leaves them alone, they’re happy.

I suspect most Alaskans (I only know a few) are pretty blase about politics until it gets in their way, like most frontier cultures. It’s a position I understand, and used to support.

However, a penchant for ignoring politicians also means that sometimes they’re in the chicken coop and are making plans to steal the barn before you know they’re even there. And since they’ll do it “all legal and proper”, the sheriff is on their side, when he’d rather be on yours.

Dirtbag Don continues to go after a teeny puddle of oil that will have no long term effect on oil prices, because he’s blinded by the dollar signs in his eyes, not because he’s out for the good of Alaskans. He remains stuck on oil, when there are tremendous opportunities for Alaska business and citizens in the future technologies, not the expiring one he’s so desperate to pursue.

Unfortunately, he’ll probably still be around long after petroleum is viable, doing everything in his power to hold Alaska back while claiming he’s looking out for the state and it’s people.

He can’t see what is in front of him, understand what the future holds, a task he was sent to DC to perform. So he will doom his state to long term poverty by sticking to a dying industry. The oil dividends to Alaska’s citizens won’t last forever. And “Get Rich Quick” Don Young just wants to please the Oil Lobby in his state, instead of figuring out how to make the future of its people viable.

“Such is the way of fools.”

A Call to Arms on Climate Change

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I found this in Forbes, to my personal surprise. Perhaps I’ve become too jaundiced from the insanity that now passes for “reality” inside Washington D.C.‘s Beltway these days. I no longer expected a prestigious magazine like Forbes to permit a truly balanced comment. I must thank William Pentland for posting this in such an elite publication, and thank Senator Whitehouse for taking a strong and informed stand, where so many have lacked the moral substance, or just the plain backbone to say what needed to be said.  I hope he does not end up retreating or recanting, and I hope the people of Rhode Island see fit to re-elect someone who is so clearly a leader.

Enough of my babble, first the comments from Mr. Pentland, and then the Senator’s statement. Ooooorah! Senator!


I  explain my allegiance with Al Gore the way John F. Kennedy explained his relationship with the Vatican.

“I don’t speak for Al Gore and Al Gore doesn’t speak for me.”

I would not say the same about Rhode Island’s Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.

Sheldon Whitehouse

Image via Wikipedia

In a speech delivered before the U.S. Congress a few days ago, Sheldon argued that America has a duty to respond to the risks posed by global warming.  Sheldon concluded:

Right now I must come before the Chamber and remind this body that we are failing in that duty. The men and women in this Chamber are indeed catastrophically failing in that duty. We are earning the scorn and condemnation of history — not this week, perhaps, and not next week. The spin doctors can see to that. But ultimately and assuredly, the harsh judgment that it is history’s power to inflict on wrong will fall upon us . . .

It is magical thinking to imagine that somehow we will be spared the plain and foreseeable consequences of our failure of duty. There is no wizard’s hat and wand with which to wish this away. These laws of nature are known; the Earth’s message to us is clear; our failure is blameworthy; its consequences are profound; and the costs will be very high.

I have posted the entire transcript of Sheldon’s speech below.

Thank you, Senator.

Semper Fi.

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Pale Blue Dot

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Part of Image:Planetary society.jpg Original c...

Image via Wikipedia

Most of you will know that the name of this blog comes from the reference to Carl Sagan‘s observation about the Earth when viewed from space… since I recently found someone had uploaded the clip itself, it seemed to be a good thing to reference here.

Cropped from ‘Pale Blue Dot’, see below.

Image via Wikipedia

If you watch this video, try to keep in mind what Carl was saying. We’re here, not somewhere else. We are tiny to the point of insignificance as far as the rest of the universe is concerned. And our pale blue dot is fragile.

Many times life has nearly been wiped from the surface of this tiny blue dot. One of the worst was the Permian Mass Extinction, which killed 95% of all species on the planet. If you haven’t heard of it, try watching this video from the BBC. This clip is the 5th of 5 parts of a show called “The Day the Earth Nearly Died”.

I’ve recently learned that the majority of humans don’t really react to things until something is in their faces, so I suspect the majority of people reading this will give it the “so what” treatment. So if you’re in that 95% majority then please do continue. For those of you who are being willy nilly dragged toward the brink of extinction by the other 95%, here’s some things to take a look at:

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