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Weekly Clean Energy Roundup: February 25, 2009

TESTINGPresident Obama Calls for Carbon Cap, More Clean Energy Investment DOE to Expedite Disbursement of Funds Received via Stimulus Act Northwest Food Processors Aim to Reduce Energy Intensity by 25% Interior Department to Develop Plan for Offshore Renewable Energy Federal Regulators Allow Transmission Lines Funded by Wind Developers Report Highights Need for Rapid Action to Minimize Climate Change President Obama Calls for Carbon Cap, More Clean Energy Investment Naming energy as one of the three areas of investment "that are absolutely critical to our economic future," President Barack Obama called last night for a greater investment in clean energy technologies and a cap on carbon emissions. "We have known for decades that our survival depends on finding new sources of energy, yet we import more oil today than ever before," noted the president in his address to Congress. He said the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provides a key investment that will save or create 3.5 million jobs, including jobs "constructing wind turbines and solar panels … and expanding mass transit." He also noted that the ARRA will double the U.S. supply of renewable energy in the next three years. Claiming that "the country that harnesses the power of […]

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Podcast: Green Week in Review – February 20, 2009

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TESTINGThe Green Week in Review is a podcast, hosted by SustainableBusiness.com News Editor Bart King. It’s posted every Friday morning and is about 15 minutes long. You can listen to it through your browser or download it to a portable MP3 player. Sign up for our General News RSS Feed and it will be automatically downloaded to your computer’s media player each week. In this week’s show… President Obama signed the economic stimulus package into law, containing $92 billion in cleantech spending. It also includes $8 billion for the development of high-speed trains, which could prove to be a signature project for the administration. The administration also announced its support for a global treaty to phase out the industrial use of toxic mercury and a decision by the EPA to review whether or not greenhouse gas emissions are dangerous to human health. The President also travelled to Canada on Thursday, where he faces a major test in addressing the destructive oil sand being developed in Alberta. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack expressed his support for increasing ethanol blending levels in an effort to boost the industry. But a new issue over food safety has come to light concerning a genetically engineered […]

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Editorial: Healthcare and Sustainability

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TESTINGBy Bart King The stimulus package signed into law on Tuesday by President Obama was created in an effort to juice the stalled economy and reverse the growing unemployment rate in America. However, lost jobs—particularly in the middle class—would be a crisis of lesser size, if healthcare were affordable to individuals. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad the new legislation prioritizes job creation through renewable energy, public transportation, energy efficiency and other green initiatives. But a wider view of the nation’s sustainability—the “triple bottom line” of not only environmental needs, but also the needs of the economy and society—reveals the health care situation is nearly as burdensome as our dependence on fossil fuels. An entrepreneurial spirit is arguably the greatest and most defining characteristic of American culture. I’d be willing to bet three out of five American adults (and maybe kids, too) have a business idea that incorporates some aspect of their personal interests or experiences. But this ingenuity is suppressed, to the detriment of the nation’s economic and societal potential, by a fear of inflated healthcare costs. Many skilled workers with a severance package in hand would likely take the opportunity to pursue the dream of self-employment. Except in […]

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Cleantech Provisions: American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009

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TESTINGPresident Obama will sign the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 into law today. The massive $787 billion bill supports national strategies in efficiency and renewable energy, smart grid, transmission, advanced vehicles, and many other aspects of the environment and climate change. The final economic recovery package invests $92 billion in cleantech, including $32.80 billion in clean energy, $26.86 billion in energy efficiency, and $18.95 billion in green transportation. That’s less than the House Bill ($100 billion) but more than the Senate bill ($86 billion). We’re happy the $50 billion in guarantees for nuclear and liquid coal was removed from the Bill. The Alliance to Save Energy estimates the energy efficiency measures alone can create over 100,000 green jobs over the next two years and, over the life of the measures, reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 200 million metric tons. They commend Congress for extending, expanding, and simplifying federal income tax credits for homeowners who make energy efficiency home improvements and for breaking new ground on utility regulatory reform and stronger energy building codes. "This is a bold first step in moving our nation from the ‘dark ages’ of excessive energy use, in which we currently are […]

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Weekly Clean Energy Roundup: February 18, 2008

TESTINGEconomic Stimulus Act Provides $16.8 Billion for EERE Programs Renewable Energy and Smart Grids Spurred by Economic Stimulus Act Economic Stimulus Act to Result in Greener Federal Buildings and Fleets High-Speed Rail and Transit Boosted by Economic Stimulus Act Economic Stimulus Act Extends Renewable Energy Tax Credits Stimulus Act Expands Clean Energy Tax Credits for Homes and Businesses Clean Energy Bonds Expanded by the Economic Stimulus Act Economic Stimulus Act Provides $16.8 Billion for EERE Programs President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Act) yesterday, and the measure includes $16.8 billion for the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). The funding is a nearly tenfold increase for EERE, which received $1.7 billion in fiscal year 2008. While the bulk of the new EERE funding is supporting direct grants and rebates, $2.5 billion will support EERE’s applied research, development, and deployment activities, including $800 million for the Biomass Program, $400 million for the Geothermal Technologies Program, and $50 million for efforts to increase the energy efficiency of information and communications technologies. An additional $400 million will support efforts to add electric technologies to vehicles. And separate from the EERE budget, $400 million will […]

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Viva La Revolución Energética

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TESTINGTake the "Renewable Energy and Energy Education Tour" to Cuba from March 8 – 15, sponsored by Solar Energy International and Global Exchange. Contact Leslie Balog By Laurie Guevara-Stone What nation is the most sustainable in the world? If you guessed Sweden or Denmark, you would be wrong. Instead, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has declared Cuba as the only country on the planet that is approaching sustainable development. Key to this designation is the island’s Revolución Energética, an energy conservation effort launched only two years ago. The WWF’s Living Planet Report 2006 assesses sustainable development using the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Index (HDI) and the ecological footprint. The index is calculated using life expectancy, literacy and education, and per capita GDP. The UNDP considers an HDI value of more than 0.8 to be high human development. According to the ecological footprint, a measure of human demand on the biosphere, 1.8 global hectares per person or less denotes sustainability. The only country in the world that meets both of the above criteria is Cuba. From Blackouts to Efficiency Just a few years ago, Cuba’s energy situation was bleak. This communist nation of 11 million people had 11 […]

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Forest Stewardship on Family Forests

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TESTINGOne of the obstacles in certifying forests as sustainably managed has been making it affordable and accessible to small forest owners, which constitute the majority of forest lands around the world. A solution that’s catching on is to combine thousands of individual parcels into a large group, which is then certified as a whole. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) recently announced they completed its first large-scale certification of family forests in the world – more than 2 million acres of Wisconsin’s privately owned forestlands. The Wisconsin Group Certificate brings 41,000 parcels and 31,000 landowners into the FSC system. That huge amount of acreage would never have achieved certification if each owner had to apply separately. Under the Wisconsin Managed Forest Law, the state provides tax benefits and technical assistance to participating landowners in exchange for their commitment to sustainable forest management practices. Only 2% of eligible landowners opted out FSC certification, a strong indication that they clearly understand the benefits of being certified. Forestry and forestry-related businesses account for 1 in 7 manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin and generate over $20 billion a year in revenue. "The certification of private forest lands enrolled in the Managed Forests program is significant economically […]

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Podcast: Green Week in Review – February 13, 2009

TESTINGThe Green Week in Review is a podcast, hosted by SustainableBusiness.com News Editor Bart King. It’s posted every Friday morning and is about 15 minutes long. You can listen to it through your browser or download it to a portable MP3 player. Sign up for our General News RSS Feed and it will be automatically downloaded to your computer’s media player each week. In this week’s show… White House Watch — President Obama orders the DOE to speed the development of higher efficiency standards for appliances. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar delay’s Bush’s offshore oil and gas plan to develop a comprehensive offshore energy plan that includes renewables. And the EPA delay’s Bush’s reworked version of New Source Review for power plant emissions. The House and Senate reach a compromise on the economic stimulus package, settling differences in proposed cleantech spending. Google releases a prototype web application called PowerMeter to display home energy information from smart metetrs. The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) works to developed detailed wind forecasts for wind farms. Plus, as always, a quick review of top cleantech stories from the week. ++++ Email comments or questions to bart@sustainablebusiness.com.

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Editorial: Google Your Neighbor's Smart Meter

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TESTINGBy Bart King Internet giant Google this week introduced a prototype web application that displays real-time data about a home’s energy use. In theory, if you have a smart meter on your house or business, PowerMeter can track how much electricity your appliances use—and at what cost—for display on your homepage, right beside your weather forecast or stock quotes. Research shows that providing consumers with detailed information about their electricity usage triggers a reduction in electricity demand. But I don’t think the do-gooders at Google have gone far enough. I don’t just want to know how much electricity I’m using; I want to see how much my neighbors are using, too—and let’s throw in water and gas while we’re at it. Sure, there are privacy issues involved—so we’ll probably have to let people opt in. But the idea is to get a little friendly competition going. An interesting report published last fall by an Oxford cultural anthropologist asserted that greater visibility of community habits is a key to persuading individuals to adopt less energy intensive lifestyles. The author, Dr. P. Chenevix Trench, suggests this approach is more effective than environmental education campaigns, which she claims are creating a backlash and […]

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Weekly Clean Energy Roundup: February 11, 2009

TESTINGPresident Obama Orders Swift Action on Appliance Efficiency Standards DOE Awards $40M for Industrial Use of Alternative Fuels, CHP Ausra Backs Off on Large CSP Projects, Focuses on Industries U.S. Wind Capacity Vaults to Top Spot Supercar Manufacturer Unveils All-Electric Powertrain Gasoline Prices Climb Slowly, Natural Gas Stays Low President Obama Orders Swift Action on Appliance Efficiency Standards President Barack Obama issued a memorandum last week that instructs DOE to take all necessary steps to finalize new appliance efficiency standards as quickly as possible. As noted by the president, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA) set deadlines for DOE to set energy efficiency standards for a broad class of residential and commercial products, and in 2005, DOE was sued for allegedly failing to meet the deadlines and other requirements of the EPCA. In November 2006, DOE entered into a consent decree, under which DOE agreed to publish the final rules for 22 product categories by specific deadlines, the latest of which is June 30, 2011. In addition, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) directed DOE to establish energy standard for additional product categories. Although DOE has made progress on meeting its consent decree, the […]

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