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.
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.
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.
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
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 “
“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.
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.
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.
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.