U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday the United States could potentially unlock a $6 trillion energy market by revamping the country’s fractured electricity grid, a move that he said would boost the competitiveness of renewable energy. Kerry addressed the opening event of Climate Week NYC, a day before over 120 heads of state were due at the United Nations to address a summit on climate change and national plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions. While Kerry lauded progress on addressing climate change by the Obama administration, he said the country has a huge opportunity to scale up the use of cleaner energy by modernizing what he called its inefficient electricity infrastructure.
The 2011 meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant — the premise of a new Brookings report — served as the backdrop to Friday’s discussion as each expert detailed how both countries had incorporated green energy in a nuclear-energy-hesitant atmosphere. “Germany has remarkable consensus on the overall objectives they want to achieve,” said John Banks, one of the authors of the report.
Engineers at one university have the chance to make a big difference in the wind energy industry. According to a media release, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded engineers at Iowa State University $1 million to study how high-strength concrete can be used to build taller wind turbine towers.
Kerry’s comments at the opening of Climate Week events here were his second in as many days pledging that the United States is moving ahead domestically and pushing others to do more. He touted the Obama administration’s plans to regulate power plant emissions and claimed the United States has done more to cut carbon in the past five years than in the past 20 combined. “It doesn’t cost more to deal with climate change. It costs more to ignore it and put our head in the sand and continue down this road of obfuscation and avoidance. And we need to make it clear to the people of this country,” Kerry said.
Calif. pension fund vows to increase clean energy investments 150%, calls for price on carbon emissions
The California State Teachers’ Retirement System announced Friday that it would increase its investments in low-carbon generation and technologies to $3.7 billion within five years, up from $1.4 billion today. The investment could grow to several times that amount if a price on carbon is established, fund executives said. CalSTRS, as it is known, is the world’s largest educator-only pension fund, with roughly $188 billion in investments. It provides pensions and other benefits to California’s 868,000 public school teachers and their families.
In recent years, 180 institutions — including philanthropies, religious organizations, pension funds and local governments — as well as hundreds of wealthy individual investors have pledged to sell assets tied to fossil fuel companies from their portfolios and to invest in cleaner alternatives. In all, the groups have pledged to divest assets worth more than $50 billion from portfolios, and the individuals more than $1 billion, according to Arabella Advisors, a firm that consults with philanthropists and investors to use their resources to achieve social goals.
A group of House Democrats yesterday introduced a bill to reinstate more than a dozen expired clean energy tax breaks and to expand the eligibility of an existing credit that primarily benefits solar energy. The bill, H.R. 5559, from Reps. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, Dave Loebsack of Iowa and 16 other Democrats, largely mirrors energy provisions in S. 2260, the existing “tax extenders” bill that is awaiting Senate action during the lame-duck session to renew a variety of business and individual tax incentives that expired last year. House Republicans have not been eager to extend the energy tax breaks, especially as the production tax credit (PTC) has become a huge target of conservative activists and elements of the nuclear and fossil fuel industries. But negotiations between the House and Senate are not expected to begin in earnest until lawmakers return after the November elections.
Within the CR itself are very few changes to existing appropriations law. It makes a few tweaks to keep weather satellite programs funding and allow for continued collection of certain park fees but otherwise maintains spending at an overall annual level of $1.02 trillion through Dec. 11 and keeps in place all existing policy riders. Both chambers adjourned yesterday and will not return until Nov. 12.
Top Obama administration officials touted a new program to install solar power in low-income Washington, D.C., homes today as the White House announced a new suite of executive actions to advance solar deployment and boost energy efficiency. U.S. EPA chief Gina McCarthy joined Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Council on Environmental Quality acting Chairman Mike Boots, and White House energy and climate adviser Dan Utech in the Ivy City neighborhood of northeast D.C. this morning to view new solar installations by the nonprofit GRID Alternatives on affordable homes developed by Habitat for Humanity.
Bill Ruckelshaus isn’t afraid of chest-pounding politicians. He’s famous for standing up to Richard Nixon. In October 1973, then-Deputy Attorney General Ruckelshaus resigned after refusing the president’s order to fire the Watergate special prosecutor in an episode known as the Saturday Night Massacre. And now, the legendary two-time U.S. EPA chief speaks freely about his disdain for his longtime political home, the Republican Party, what he sees as a pathetic Congress, and the reluctance of U.S. pols and policymakers to act decisively on global warming.