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Judith Schwartz: Energy Literacy Essential to Maximizing Smart Grid Adoption, Benefits

How About the Fossil Fuel Companies Reimburse Taxpayers for Climate-Change-Related Disaster Spending?

According to a new report by the Center for American Progress

Geothermal Energy Association Study Finds Large "Externality" Benefits to Geothermal Power

We've written repeatedly about the enormous negative "externalities" associated with fossil fuel production, processing and consumption. For instance, we interviewed Professor Michael Hendryx of West Virginia University, whose research found that "mountaintop removal mining’s economic cost to Appalachian communities totaled roughly $42 billion per year in lost health and lives."  Hendryx also co-authored a Harvard study, which found that the full “lifecycle cost” of coal to the U.S. public is actually upwards of $500 billion a year. And recently, we highlighted a study by the IMF which estimated global fossil fuel subsidies at an astounding $1.9 trillion, counting both direct subsidies and also “negative externalities from energy consumption,” in 2011 alone. The point is, the true costs of fossil fuels are not incorporated into their price, while the true benefits of clean energy are not given a proper, monetary value in the market.

Cancer-Causing Chemical Found in Lake Conway; ExxonMobil Claims It's Not Really There

News stories like this one don't exactly give us a warm and fuzzy feeling about ExxonMobil specifically, or about the oil industry in general:

"Degradable Plastic Bag" Manufacturer Makes False Claims About Product

Recently, our dog chewed up our 10-years-old family compost bin. The new, metal bin we purchased came with "degradable" (e.g., not "BIOdegradable") bags by a company called Norpro. The Norpro bags claim to be safe to throw into your compost pile, where they degrade. But degrade into what exactly? Won't the bag simply break down into small plastic particles that then contaminate the compost, which in turn we use to fertilize the vegetables we eventually eat? Or are we missing something here?

So, we contacted Norpro to see what we could find out. First, we called the company's customer service line (877-879-1360), and were told that we needed to contact their corporate number (800-722-0202). We called them at that number and asked the same question. We were told that they weren't able to answer the question, and that we should email their sales department.

Before we did that, we checked Norpro's website, where the company presents its bags as being "[m]ade of 100% degradable and compostable material" and "[e]ndorsed by ISAB and OPI" (note: there's no indication on the Norpro website what ISAB and OPI might be, exactly). We then emailed the company, told them our understanding is that degradable plastics are still petroleum based, and asked whether these plastics wouldn't still pollute the environment and potentially harm our health, especially if used for composting purposes?

In response, we received a page of information on Norpro's degradable compost bags. Among the claims made on this sheet were a couple that seemed dubious:

Judith Schwartz: Smart Grid Offers Tremendous Benefits to Businesses and the General Public

Sign the "Stop the Koch Brothers" Petition, Support Fair Reporting

The other day, we wrote about the Koch brothers' interest in buying the Tribune Company’s eight regional newspapers, including The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune. As we pointed out, this should be of concern to all of us who support clean tech and a sustainable future, as the Koch brothers have funded a massive campaign against renewable energy for several years now.  Owning a major newspaper company will only help them further their pro-fossil-fuel, anti-clean-energy agenda. If you agree with us, we encourage you to sign Free Press' "Stop the Koch Brothers" petition, which says:

New Report by Harvard Finds "Legal Fractures in Chemical Disclosure Laws"

Why are we not surprised by this news story?

Plains & Energy Transmission Line Would Help U.S. Tap Into "Saudi Arabia of Wind"

This is exactly what we need to really hyper-charge wind power production in a part of the country that's been correctly called the "Saudi Arabia of wind."

EPA: State Dept. Keystone XL Analysis "Insufficient" on Greenhouse Gases, Alternative Pipeline and Rail Routes, Pipeline Safety

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has weighed in on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline analysis done by the State Department, and it's not impressed. At all. A few key problems, in EPA's view?

Tribune Company Owners Should Reject Koch Brothers' Offer, No Matter How High They Bid

According to this New York Times article, "Koch Industries, the sprawling private company of which Charles G. Koch serves as chairman and chief executive, is exploring a bid to buy the Tribune Company’s eight regional newspapers, including The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, The Orlando Sentinel and The Hartford Courant." This should be of concern to all of us who support clean tech and a sustainable future, as the Koch brothers have funded a massive campaign against renewable energy for several years now.  Owning a major newspaper company will only help them further their pro-fossil-fuel, anti-clean-energy agenda.

Illinois Wind Industry Awaits Outcome of State Energy Policy Dispute Resolution

According to an article in Chicago Grid, "Broadwind Energy, an industrial and wind energy gear company based in Cicero, exemplifies Illinois’ choppy wind power landscape." Among that choppiness is uncertainty regarding Illinois' state energy policy.

Major Investigative Report Reveals: "What BP Doesn’t Want You to Know About the 2010 Gulf Spill"

Today is the third anniversary of BP's Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, and according to a major new investigate piece by Mark Hertsgaard, it was even worse than we knew at the time.  A few major points from the article bear emphasis:

Analysis: Media Coverage of Keystone XL Has Been Wildly Biased in Favor of the Pipeline

MediaMatters for America has looked at coverage of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, and not surprisingly (but sadly), they find that "the media continue to largely ignore the risk of an oil spill, while promoting the economic benefits of the project." A few key findings from MediaMatters' research:

WSJ: China Now Leading Destination for Clean Energy Investment; US Falling Behind

According to the Wall Street Journal:

IEA: Governments Need to Act More Aggressively to Unleash Clean Energy Potential

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has just published its "third comprehensive tracking of progress in clean energy technology," and the conclusions should be a wake-up call for policymakers in governments around the world. According to IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven:

Fox Fails Again on Renewable Energy, This Time Erroneously Cherry Picking GAO Report

As Media Matters explains, Fox News continues its war on clean energy, and fails at it yet again.

Members with Ties to Monsanto Stay on GMO Panel; Dietician with Concerns Booted Off

So, let's get this straight, it's ok for an academic with ties to GMO (genetically modified organism) manufacturer Monsanto  to write the report for a GMO advisory panel, but it's not ok for a dietician with concerns about these types of conflicts to stay on the panel?

Edison Electric Institute Study: Distributed Renewable Energy Poses Mortal Threat to U.S. Utilities' Business Model

As usual, David Roberts of Grist is on top of important developments in the energy industry that the traditional media has mostly ignored. In this case, it's a new study by the Edison Electric Institute - the industry group which represent 70% of the U.S. electric power industry - titled "Disruptive Challenges: Financial Implications and Strategic Responses to a Changing Retail Electric Business." If that sounds dry, how about we go with David Roberts' more exciting headline: "Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities." And no, this is not - as Roberts explains - "wild-eyed hippie talk," but "the assessment of the utilities themselves." And, Roberts adds: "It is one of the most prescient and brutally frank things I’ve ever read about the power sector. It is a rare thing to hear an industry tell the tale of its own incipient obsolescence."

What's the Matter With Kansas When It Comes to Clean Energy?

Several years ago, a popular book called "What's the Matter with Kansas?", by Thomas Frank, explored "the rise of populist anti-elitist conservatism in the United States, centering on the experience of Kansas, Frank's native state." Among other things, Frank explored how people can be persuaded by politicians - in the case of Kansas, overwhelmingly those politicians are Republicans - to vote against their own economic self interest.

Experts on Fossil Fuel Subsidies Agree: We Need to Eliminate Them As Rapidly as Possible

Earlier today, I was on a conference call with leading world experts on fossil fuel subsidies, an issue we've written a lot about here at Scaling Green. I thought it would be worth reviewing the key points made.

CA Public Utilities Commission President Rebuts "Absurd" Wall Street Journal Editorial

We all know that the Wall Street Journal editorial board, including relentlessly pro-fossil-fuel and anti-clean-energy board member Stephen Moore, is no friend of renewable power.  That was certainly the case with the newspaper's recent editorial, "California's Coming Green-outs," which is filled with one untruth and distortion after another.  Fortunately, Michael R. Peevey, President of the California Public Utilities Commission, has done a superb job rebutting this "absurd" Wall Street Journal editorial. Here's an excerpt:

The Fossil Fuel Industry's Pattern of Anti-democratic Skullduggery

In our view, the following news items constitute a pattern of disdain by the fossil fuel industry for the public interest, as well as for the free flow of information in a democracy. Put these items together, and you can see why the public is suspicious of the fossil fuel industry, despite the enormous amount of time and money that industry spends portraying itself as a positive, benign force in our country.

Margaret Thatcher's Call for Action on Climate Change, Transition to Clean Energy

Courtesy of the Margaret Thatcher Foundation, note that we're highlighting this speech - by someone we're not fans of in many ways - to demonstrate that understanding the urgent need for a transition to clean energy should not be, and certainly has not always been, politically polarized.

But the threat to our world comes not only from tyrants and their tanks. It can be more insidious though less visible. The danger of global warming is as yet unseen, but real enough for us to make changes and sacrifices, so that we do not live at the expense of future generations.

Our ability to come together to stop or limit damage to the world's environment will be perhaps the greatest test of how far we can act as a world community. No-one should under-estimate the imagination that will be required, nor the scientific effort, nor the unprecedented co-operation we shall have to show. We shall need statesmanship of a rare order...

We have become more and more aware of the growing imbalance between our species and other species, between population and resources, between humankind and the natural order of which we are part.

In recent years, we have been playing with the conditions of the life we know on the surface of our planet. We have cared too little for our seas, our forests and our land. We have treated the air and the oceans like a dustbin. We have come to realise that man's activities and numbers threaten to upset the biological balance which we have taken for granted and on which human life depends.

We must remember our duty to Nature before it is too late...

Lots more on the "flip," including her praise of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and specifically its report on climate change, as a "remarkable achievement."

Vestas Senior VP: Wind Industry Must "step up our game" Against Absurd, Anti-Wind Claims

Morten Albæk, group senior vice-president of marketing, communications and corporate relations at Vestas, has written an important article that everyone rooting for wind power's success should read.  Here are a few key points, bolding added by us for emphasis:

Yet Another Advantage for Solar Power: It Doesn't Require a "No-Fly Zone"

We all know how much political clout the oil industry wields. For instance, DeSmogBlog reported earlier this week.

Video: Aerial Footage of the Arkansas Tar Sands Oil Spill


Not a pretty picture, and this was a relatively small pipeline - the Keystone XL would be much, much larger.

Greentech Media Webinar Highlights "The Networked Grid 150" Report

I just got off a Greentech Media webinar on their new report, "The Networked Grid 150." Here's a brief overview of what the webinar covered:

And the Taxpayer-Funded Fossil Fuel Welfare Train Chugs Along...

In our continuing series on wasteful subsidies to dirty energy companies, here's yet another one.

Yale/GMU Survey of Republicans Shows Strong Support for Expanding Clean Energy

A brand new survey by Yale and George Mason Universities looks at the attitudes of Republicans and "Republican-leaning Independent" voters towards energy and climate change. The results are highly encouraging for those of us who support a rapid transition towards clean energy and away from carbon-based fuels. Here are a few highlights.

NY Times: "Rumors of a Cheap-Energy Jobs Boom Remain Just That"

There's been a great deal of talk in recent years about how the boom in natural gas production in the United States, combined with the low price of U.S .natural gas, could lead to a manufacturing - and possibly broader economic - renaissance in our country.  Except for one problem: according to this New York Times article, it's probably not going to happen. Why not?

China's Economy, Health Being Severely Harmed by Fossil Fuels

What happens when a country depends far too heavily on fossil fuels and far too little on energy efficiency and renewable power? Basically, you get this.

Washington Post: "Every country in the world would benefit from the honest pricing of energy"

Halt the pixels -- the Washington Post editorial page talks forcefully about dirty energy welfare!