Tag Archive: Clean Energy

Gobernador Christie Va A Mexico – Part IV

In an ideal trade mission agreements are worked out in advance and the actual visit consists of a signing ceremony between the two leaders. Governor Christie can now check off one of the boxes in his “to do” list. He met with President Nieto Peña at the President’s residence yesterday. El Universal newspaper reports a brief, vague communique from the president’s office indicating they discussed opportunities to increase business, investments, and educational interchanges. Separately Christie signed a student exchange agreement to to increase the number of Mexicans who will study in the US.

Christie insists his job there is to “listen and learn,” but so far he has little bacon to bring home to New Jersey. A trade mission like his without pre-agreements might necessitate months or even years to yield results, so he will likely be long gone before anyone can tally up the benefits. Only two of eight Mexico City newspapers wrote briefly about Christie today and only regarding the communique. So far he has seemed restrained and even boring and has ignored questions about immigration.

Those of us in New Jersey and presidential race watchers in the US are still waiting to analyze political results. He has a scheduled press conference today in Puebla which might yield interesting results. Also today Hillary Clinton will arrive in Mexico City to attend  a charity event hosted by the telecom magnate (and second wealthiest billionaire) Carlos Slim. Yesterday she spoke to a “clean energy” group in Las Vegas while Christie appealed to oil and gas developers. The charity event will also include Mark Zuckerberg and soccer star Ronaldinho. Now that will attract some attention.  

Anatomy of Christie-Era Unemployment: Clean Energy

Yesterday, we had the first installment of “Anatomy of Christie-Era Unemployment” in response to the Star Ledger Editorial saying not to blame Christie.

Following yesterday’s focus on the jobs that the Star Ledger themselves say would have been created from the ARC tunnel project Christie canceled, today we move onto clean energy.  Flashback to this editorial from the Star Ledger on Feb 26, 2012: (Emphasis Mine)

He has proposed grabbing $210 million from the state’s Clean Energy Fund, strangling a program that is devoted mostly to conservation efforts.

This money comes from electricity consumers who pay a surcharge on their bills each month. It pays for green workers to install insulation at hospitals and town halls across the state. It helps subsidize retrofits to homes. Some of it helps subsidize green-energy projects.

Cutting money for workers to actually have a job and additional money for projects that would put people to work. That sounds like Christie had a pretty direct impact on unemployment. The editorial continued: (Emphasis mine)

So let’s summarize: Christie’s money grab would increase energy costs, kill green jobs and lead to more air pollution.

And then Deciminyan noted in a previous diary that Christie’s Inaction has cost thousands jobs in South Jersey:

Governor Christie’s refusal to move forward the process for wind energy has cost several thousand jobs in South Jersey while maintaining further dependence on dirty energy. So those 2,000 people can blame the governor.

Just more examples of Christie era unemployment, but again how is he not to blame for unemployment?

Negawatts save Megabucks

The Newark Star Ledger reported (here) that Public Service Electric and Gas, PSE&G is installing a the UMDNJ is installing a  2,700-ton chiller as part of an $11.4 million investment in negawatts. The Star Ledger reported that UMDNJ will save $1.3 million per year on energy costs.What’s the payback? An $11.4 million investment will save $1.3 million per year. That means the system will pay for itself in about 8 years 9 months, assuming the price of energy remains constant.  I think it’s a much more reasonable to assume that the price of energy will go up.

The system will work long after it is paid for. It will save at least $13 Million over the next 10 years and $26 Million over the next 20 years – assuming electricity costs are constant, assuming electricity costs are constant.  Assuming electricity costs increase an average of 5% per year, this will save $16.35 Million over the next 10 years, and $42.99 over the next 20 years.

  • Projected Savings of $11.4 Million investment.
  • After 1 Year: $1.3 Million. 11.4%
  • After 5 Years: $7.18 Million (63%) with a 5% annual increases in cost of energy.
  • After 10 Years: $16.35 M (143.4%).
  • After 15 Years: $28.05 M (246%)
  • After 20 Years: $42.99 M (377%).

We have Governor Corzine to thank. as well as Governors Whitman, McGreevey, Codey, and Christie.

New Jersey – The Green & Clean Garden State

Christine’s on staff at Sierra Club-NJ – Rosi

What is the future of New Jersey?  Will New Jersey continue to be the polluted view that people get from the Turnpike?  Or will it be a clean, bright and innovative future that will make New Jerseyans proud.  Governor Christie addressed this very topic in last week’s State of the State.  The  governor referred to the “New Jersey of our youth”, “setting a national example” and a “step in a very new direction”.  Now it us up to the governor and New Jerseyans ensure that is the right direction.

The Garden State’s past has been checkered with pollution and dirty industry.  [more below the fold]

Oyster Creek or Wind and Solar Power

Gov. Christie wants Excelon to build new cooling towers at Oyster Creek.  He’s right because thermal pollution from the power plant is adversely effecting the health of Barnegat Bay. Excelon says “We’d rather close the nuclear power plant than build cooling towers.” That would be ok too.

Oyster Creek is a 645 MW plant – when it’s operating.

it could be replaced with 645 MW of wind and solar in less than 3 years …

NJ Clean Energy Program and Energy Master Plan

Anybody else going to this? What other ideas are being brought forward? – promoted by Rosi

Friday, Sept 24, at citizens, business groups, and representatives from the Board of Public Utilities and the electric utilities will speak in an open forum on New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan, or EMP.  As it stands today the EMP calls for NJ to generate 22.5% of the electricity we use from clean renewable sources – solar and wind – by 2021.

Details below the fold…

Congressional Candidates’ Views on Clean Energy, Climate Change: NJ-03

promoted by Rosi

This is the second article in a continuing series by the NRDC Action Fund on the environmental stances of candidates in key races around the country.  

Today we’re looking at New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District, stretching from the Philadelphia suburbs in the west, across the undeveloped Pine Barrens (the country’s first National Reserve) to the Jersey Shore. In 2008, longtime state Senator John Adler was elected to his first term in Congress, winning the seat vacated by retiring 12-term Republican Congressman Jim Saxton. In November, Adler will be challenged by Republican Jon Runyan, a former offensive lineman for the Philadelphia Eagles.

A number of current and former New Jersey Republican Congressmen have been environmental champions – including Jim Saxton – but Runyan seems unlikely to follow in their footsteps. Despite playing for one of the greenest teams in professional sports, Runyan has been taking anti-environmental stands on the campaign trail. He has voiced support for drilling off of New Jersey’s shore, echoing Sarah Palin’sall-of-the-above” approach to energy policy. He has been repeating the right-wing Heritage Foundation’s fuzzy math about the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES). Runyan claims that ACES will cost “$1,870 for a family of four,” when in truth, according to the nonpartisan, unbiased experts at the Congressional Budget Office, it will cost “about $175 per household.”

Rep. Adler, on the other hand, has a long history as an environmental champion. In the New Jersey Senate, he sponsored the state’s Clean Cars Act and co-sponsored its landmark Global Warming Response Act.

In his first year in Congress, Adler received an impressive 93% rating from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), which means he voted the right way at nearly every opportunity. Most notably, Adler voted for the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) calling it “historic legislation” that will “spur the development of new sources of energy while confronting the threat of carbon pollution.”  He added, ACES “will lower energy costs and create new jobs for New Jersey families and small businesses….This bill will make America safer. It is time that we stop sending money to Middle Eastern countries that fund terrorist activities. Furthermore, by preserving God’s earth, our children and grandchildren can continue to fish, enjoy the outdoors and breathe clean air.”

The NRDC Action Fund believes that it is important for the public in general, and the voters of specific Congressional districts, be aware of this information as they weigh their choices for November.

My Kids Are Losers: Commentary on the Climate Debate

The climate bill blame game has begun. When I first started writing this post about the so-called death of the climate bill, I literally pointed the finger at just about everyone, including myself. The anger poured out, and I was frank in my assessment as well as unforgiving in the motives behind this latest setback.

After I was done with my self-loathing tantrum, the kids ran in the door from camp and I was swept up in the lovely reality of my family's banter. It is summer, so the pace in our home is a bit more relaxed in the evening. We aren't quite as quick to rush through dinner, toss the kids in a bath, and then march them off to bed. Ice cream and extra cuddles are relished, and I am reminded each year at this time why I do this job.

Later, after progeny were tucked in, I went back to my draft blog post to spruce it up. I reread my rage, disappointment, and irrational ramblings and was embarrassed. And I asked myself “What good is all this blame going to do?”

At the end of the day, it is my kids – and your kids – who lose when we implode. If you think kids have a lot to say about their parents now on Dr. Phil, can you imagine what our children will say in 50 years should we fail to get our act together?

The country should be ready for this. The facts are on our side. As we witness the worst industry-caused environmental catastrophe in our history, the worst coal mining disaster in 40 years, and sweat through the hottest first 6 months of any year on record, it is clear that there's never been a more urgent time to move forward with a smart clean energy and climate plan.

Unfortunately, the politicians just aren't there. At every juncture during this debate, a minority, led by the Republican leadership and supported by a few impressionable (I might say pathetic) Democrats, has obstructed the opportunity to solve America's energy problems, preferring to leave the worst polluters and the big petro-dictators in control of our energy policy, while tax-payers are forced to pay for their messes.

Oopsy… there goes that blame again. Let's focus on what we can do next.

Hope is not lost. Of course, the closer we get to the midterm elections, the more challenging passing a bill becomes. Still, it's not impossible. In fact, the Senate has passed almost every single bedrock environmental law in the fall of an election year or in the “lame duck” session following an election. Here are just a few examples:

o Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) – 1996 Amendments: 8/6/96

o Food Quality Protection Act: 8/3/96

o Energy Policy Act of 1992: 10/24/92

o Clean Air Act of 1990: 11/15/90

o SDWA – 1986 Amendments: 6/19/86

o CERCLA (Superfund): House 9/23/80, Senate 11/24/80, POTUS 12/11/80

o Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA): 10/21/76

o Toxic Substances & Control Act (TSCA): 10/11/76

o SDWA: 12/16/74

o Clean Water Act: 10/18/72

o Establishment of the EPA: first proposed 7/9/70, established 12/2/70

o National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): 1/1/70

o The Wilderness Act: 9/3/64

As this list demonstrates, the Senate and the environmental movement are no strangers to passing major legislation right before – or just after – an election.

I don't want to overpromise success. This is an uphill battle. But if you and I show up to every town hall, rally, spaghetti dinner, and other rituals of election year and fight for our kids… fight for our country… fight for our America… we can turn the tide. Without that kind of passion, we will all lose. That's an outcome we must try hard to avoid, on behalf of people, communities, large and small businesses – oh, and our kids, sleeping peacefully or playing happily around the country.

In the meantime, we must also protect what we already have, like a plethora of state laws and the federal Clean Air Act. I recommend reading David Doniger's blog on Switchboard today that really outlines how we can make progress with the tools we have right now.

In coming weeks and months, we must continue to push forward for a strong, clean energy and climate bill, just like we have done countless times in the past. I am done with blame. History is on our side. Are you?

Take action today for a cleaner, stronger, and more sustainable future. Join NRDC Action Fund on Facebook and Twitter and stay up-to-date on the latest environmental issues and actions you can take to help protect our planet.

No, Senator Klobuchar, More Corn Ethanol is NOT the Answer!

According to The Hill newspaper, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) “is introducing legislation to expand use of renewable electricity and transportation fuels that she says is a way to increase political support for broad energy legislation among farm-state lawmakers.” Reuters adds that Klobuchar's legislation would promote “a long-term extension of biofuel tax breaks.”  Klobuchar says, “it is time to look at home-grown energy and that includes biofuels and they should be part of this.”

At first glance, that all sounds innocuous enough, but there's a major problem: Sen. Klobuchar is (cleverly) baiting the hook with a strong Renewable Energy Standard, which most environmentalists support, but at the same time she's also including the worst of the worst biofuels proposals – corn ethanol.  For instance, as Nathanael Greene of NRDC points out, Klobuchar's proposal includes a 5-year extension of the corn ethanol tax credit, at a cost to taxpayers of more than $30 billion.  Klobuchar's legislation also appears to redefine old-growth forests as “biomass,” potentially promoting deforestation.   And Klobuchar's legislation would harm the development of truly advanced biofuels, in favor of corn ethanol.   There's more, but that's sufficient to give you a good idea of how misguided and potentially harmful this bill happens to be.

More broadly, the problem is that promoting corn ethanol actually would set us backwards on our climate and clean energy goals.   NRDC has written a great deal about corn-based ethanol, most of which is not flattering.

*From an NRDC article published in March 2010, we learn that “the current corn ethanol tax credit is effectively costing tax payers $4.18 per gallon and is driving up grain prices.”  The author, Nathanael Greene, concludes that “[w]e don't need an additional 1.4 billion gallons of corn ethanol, or the higher prices for grains and more deforestation that come with it…It's time to transition from corn ethanol's pollution and pork to a new generation of more sustainable biofuels that brings us closer to real energy independence.”

*From this NRDC article published in January 2010, it turns out that “The old, dirty ethanol industry is dominated by big companies like Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Poet.” The author, Roland Hwang, adds, “It’s baffling why an industry that benefits from $4 billion a year in government subsidies can’t find a way to compete on environmental merits.”

*As Nathanael Greene points out here, “the nitrogen runoff from corn grown all along the Mississippi causes a huge dead zone in the Gulf every summer.”  And, “[w]ith about a third of the corn crop going to make corn ethanol, it should be clear that more corn ethanol is not a real solution.”

In addition to NRDC, Barack Obama also weighed in during the 2008 presidential campaign, declaring that “we're going to have a transition from corn-based ethanol to cellulosic ethanol, not using food crops as the source of energy.”

Last but not least, Earth Policy Institute founder Lester Brown and Clean Air Task Force Jonathan Lewis, writing in April 2008, explained in devastating terms why corn ethanol is so problematic:

It is now abundantly clear that food-to-fuel mandates are leading to increased environmental damage. First, producing ethanol requires huge amounts of energy — most of which comes from coal.

Second, the production process creates a number of hazardous byproducts, and some production facilities are reportedly dumping these in local water sources.

Third, food-to-fuel mandates are helping drive up the price of agricultural staples, leading to significant changes in land use with major environmental harm.

Most troubling, though, is that the higher food prices caused in large part by food-to-fuel mandates create incentives for global deforestation, including in the Amazon basin. As Time magazine reported this month, huge swaths of forest are being cleared for agricultural development. The result is devastating: We lose an ecological treasure and critical habitat for endangered species, as well as the world's largest “carbon sink…”

Meanwhile, the mandates are not reducing our dependence on foreign oil. Last year, the United States burned about a quarter of its national corn supply as fuel — and this led to only a 1 percent reduction in the country's oil consumption.

In short, the problem is that while “biofuels” sounds as benign as apple pie, corn ethanol – the main biofuel available today – is actually bad for the environment both in the U.S. and abroad, bad for the poor, and bad for the American taxpayer.

Just to be clear, ethanol from cellulosic material is a completely different – and far superior – story from other, advanced biofuels (e.g., cellulosic), but advanced biofuels are not what Senator Klobuchar's talking about here.  To the contrary, Senator Klobuchar is using this once-in-a-generation chance for comprehensive, clean energy and climate legislation, to push through a big agribusiness, corn ethanol boondoggle that will harm the environment, do nothing to reduce U.S. dependence on oil or to help strengthen U.S. national security.

Yes, we want increased production of renewable energy like wind and solar. Yes, biofuels done the right way could be an important part of the U.S. energy mix.  But no, Sen. Klobuchar's approach – promoting dirty, old corn ethanol – is simply not the correct approach to the energy and environmental challenges we are facing.