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[1THING] Blog: Archive for May, 2014

[ Texas Wind Energy Continues to Blow Us Away ]

Texas Wind Energy Continues to Blow Us Away

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katsrcool/Flickr

 

Guest post by Marita Mirzatuny, project manager for Environmental Defense Fund’s US Climate and Energy Program

 

We have a lot to celebrate this Global Wind Day (June 15). Across the nation, wind energy accounted for almost one-third of new power capacity over the past five years and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) estimates that wind energy has the potential to double over the next few years.

Nowhere is the growth in wind energy more evident than in Texas, the nation’s top wind producing state. Texas’ wind energy generation grew by 13% in 2013 and more than 60% of all wind projects under construction in the first part of the year were in Texas.

This success has been aided by the Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), a modest tax credit for new facilities good for ten years after the wind farm’s start date. Like those received by the oil, gas, and nuclear industries, tax incentives help ignite growth in the market. EDF has strongly advocated for this incentive over the past few years.

Unfortunately, the breaks that oil and gas have received over the last 100 years are often (conveniently) ignored by those wanting to maintain the status quo, making the PTC a point of debate among politicians.

In 2012, the PTC’s renewal came down to a last minute vote in Congress, creating uncertainty for developers waiting to determine the future of their job-creating projects. Ultimately, it was extended, but in 2013 Congress stalled again and the extension was allowed to expire in January. In the meantime, wind developers sit by cautiously waiting for clear direction. AWEA estimates that this uncertainty has led to the loss of 30,000 jobs.

 

 

People and businesses want wind power

 

The wind industry is a boon for Texas’ economy though, and more companies are investing in wind’s cheap energy prices and Texans are benefitting from cheaper electricity and job growth.

Google, BBVA Compass, and Microsoft already take advantage of Texas’ abundant wind power. And Mars Candy is now buying in with a 200-megawatt (MW) wind farm to power its 37 factories and 70 offices. New Generation Power Texas also signed a contract with General Electric, the largest manufacture of wind turbines in the U.S., to supply 235 wind turbines and related services for its 400 MW Texas Wind Project.

Furthermore, AWEA found that “American consumers in the top wind energy-producing states have seen their electricity prices actually decrease by 0.37 percent over the last 5 years, while all other states have seen their electricity prices increase by 7.79 percent over that time period.” These states have seen great gains in jobs, too. Texas, again leading the nation, reported an increase of 8,000 to 9,000 direct and indirect jobs in 2013.

As we face the consequences of climate disturbance, including droughts that are ravaging states like Texas and California, it is imperative that we view (and support) renewable energy as part of the solution to a sustainable future. According to AWEA: “Operational wind energy projects and those under construction will avoid 115 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, while avoiding the consumption of over 36 billion gallons of water each year, because wind turbines use virtually no water in operation.”

That’s why EDF is working with Texas policymakers, investors, and entrepreneurs to see that Texas seizes opportunities and drives innovation in the new energy economy.

To learn more about EDF’s work in Texas, visit their website.   

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[ Dedication Ceremony Highlights Wilderness Leadership by Rep. Benishek and Sen. Levin on Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan ]

Michael Reinemer

As the Sleeping Bear Dunes Wilderness is officially dedicated today, The Wilderness Society praised Michigan Representative Dan Benishek and Senator Carl Levin for championing the bipartisan legislation that now protects this incredible place – the first wilderness area to be approved by C

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[ A win for wilderness: Sleeping Bear Dunes is now official! ]

The bipartisan bill to designate more than 32,500 acres of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as wilderness passed the House of Representatives in March 2014, conferring the highest possible level of public land protection on an area known as “

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[ Photo: Einstein tours fossilized trees at Petrified Forest National Park ]

This particular photo was taken on a trip in 1931.

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[ New bill seeks to connect kids with nature ]

Kids don’t spend as much time outside as they used to, to the detriment of their health, happiness and overall connection with nature. Now, Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Sen.

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[ Oil Drillers’ Burning of Natural Gas Costs U.S. Millions in Revenue ]

The flaring of waste natural gas from drilling operations is costing taxpayers millions every year.

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[ New bill aims to get kids outside and healthy ]

AlexanderSeyb

Healthy kids needs healthy lands – The Wilderness Society

A new bill from Senator Mark Udall and Rep. Ron Kind aims to get kids (and their parents) back outside to improve their health and their connections to the great outdoors. 

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[ Report: climate change puts U.S. monuments and landmarks at risk ]

According to new analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists, notable historic, cultural and natural sites around the country could be damaged or d

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[ Top Ten Bicycle Stories of 2014 (so far) ]

Top Ten Bicycle Stories of 2014 (so far)

Itakethetrain

itakethetrain/Flickr

 

“America's cities are preparing for a great revival,” said Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard in his testimony before the US Senate in March 2014. “New urban dwellers want to be connected to their neighborhood and their city through means other than a car.”

Increasingly, that alternate mean is a bicycle. Mayor Ballard’s city is a national leader when it comes to advancing bike lanes, but communities around the US are catching on too. In case there’s any doubt that the biking revolution is here, we’ve gathered the top 10 US bicycle stories of 2014. Happy Bike Month!

 

1. Biking to work increases 60% in past decade – In May, the US Census Bureau found that bicycling rates are rising faster than any other commuting modes tracked. From 2008-2012, about 786,000 Americans commuted by bicycle, not only in well-known hubs like Davis, CA and San Francisco, but in communities of all sizes across the country.

2. How One Suburb Made School Buses Obsolete – When it comes to its schools, the Cleveland suburb of Lakewood, Ohio, does things the old-fashioned way. The city doesn't have a bus system for its 5,800 students, because it doesn’t need one. Its ten schools are all within walking or biking distance of the children they serve.

3. The Next Breakthrough for American Bike Lanes: Protected Intersections – As protected bike lanes become more widespread in the United States, creating physical separation from motor vehicle traffic that makes more people comfortable cycling on city streets, advocates are starting to push for even safer bikeway designs.

4. Philadelphia to enter bike share realm – Mayor Michael A. Nutter recently announced the city would be implementing a long-anticipated bike share system in spring 2015. With 60 stations and 600 bikes, the system will help Philadelphians reach destinations that the rest of the transit system doesn’t.

5. Two Wheel Valet’s plans to revolutionize bike parking in DC – Two Wheel Valet may be the first mobile bike valet business in the US. The company’s motto is “We rack up events!” And since its launch in December, Two Wheel Valet has already handled six.

6. Anthony Foxx Kicks Off Nationwide Project for Better Bike Lanes – Staring down a highway trust fund that he described as “teetering toward insolvency” by August or September, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said that better bike infrastructure projects are part of the solution.

7. Google Just Added An Awesome New Maps Feature For Bikers – Google Maps just added a sweet new elevation feature that will help bikers better choose between routes by showing them where they'll hit steep hills.

8. Bicycle Friendly Communities Winners announced – Every year, the League of American Bicyclists bestows the coveted honor on those cities that have made the most progress for cyclists. Among the recently inducted are Las Vegas, NV and Akron, OH. See the full list here.

9. Bikes Get Blessed in New York City – Before a popular annual Five Boro Bike Tour in New York, cyclists pulled into the Cathedral of St. John the Divine to get a special blessing from Rev. Canon Julia Whitworth.

10. Biking, Walking Projects to Help Make Rochester, Minn., International Wellness Community -  As part of Rochester’s plan to become a global destination for medical care, they’re expanding the existing 100 miles of bike trails, 23 miles of on-street bike lanes and 514 miles of sidewalks. More hospitals are encouraging bicycling as part of a focus on wellness.

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[ The fascinating stories behind Wilderness namesakes ]

Since the Wilderness Act was passed in 1964, public lands accorded the federal government’s highest level of protection have ranged across 44 states (and Puerto Rico) and covered close to 110 million acres.

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