Tag Archives: clean energy

A Syrian refugee camp got solar power for the first time.

Steph Speirs thinks about solar the way one might think about a community garden. Why go through the trouble of planting panels on your roof when you could instead plug into a shared neighborhood resource? Through her company, called Solstice, Speirs and cofounder Steve Moilanen roll out community solar gardens that allow people who don’t own their properties — or who don’t have the means or interest in installing a home setup — to tap into a local solar project and save a few bucks on electricity.

Solstice identifies locations for new community projects, works with local developers to arrange financing and installation, and ensures subscribers see credits on their electricity bills. Speirs’ company has earned seed funding from Echoing Green, a social entrepreneurship fellowship, and was recently picked for the selective Techstars startup accelerator. Solstice currently has solar gardens scattered around Massachusetts and intends to expand nationwide.

Community solar isn’t a new idea, but Speirs and her team are working hard to make it more accessible. Example: In 2015, the First Parish Unitarian Church in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, couldn’t install panels on its roof because of its status as a historic building. Last year, the church leadership became aware of Solstice and its existing community solar program in Bridgewater. The congregation voted to plug into the project, thus saving 10 percent on its electricity bill and putting its sustainable values into practice. Better yet, individual parishioners followed the church’s lead and signed up, too. “We’re proud that these are typical stories at Solstice,” Speirs says.


Meet all the fixers on this year’s Grist 50.

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A Syrian refugee camp got solar power for the first time.

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Trump’s budget is a declaration of war on the environment

The Trump team wants to dramatically shrink much of the federal government, but you know what it wants to shrink most of all? Environmental programs. Under the budget plan released by the White House on Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency would take a bigger percentage hit than any other cabinet-level department: Its funding would be slashed by almost a third. That means many of the agency’s programs would experience crippling budget cuts, while others would get wiped out entirely. Environmental programs in other departments would come under the ax as well.

President Trump claims he wants to focus on clean air and water instead of climate change, but this new “skinny budget” proposal suggests otherwise. It not only eliminates climate initiatives, but cuts air and water programs, too.

Here are 13 of the most critical proposed budget cuts:

 Slashed: EPA’s budget would be cut by 31 percent, from $8.2 billion to $5.7 billion — its lowest level in four decades, accounting for inflation.
 Slashed: EPA’s staff would be cut by about 21 percent, taking the workforce from around 15,000 people down to some 11,800.
Eliminated: International climate change programs run by the State Department and the EPA would end, including payments the U.S. had pledged to make to United Nations climate efforts.
Eliminated: President Obama’s signature Clean Power Plan, designed to reduce CO2 emissions from power plants, would have all of its funding zeroed out. (Trump is soon expected to issue an executive order calling for the Clean Power Plan to be rewritten.)
Eliminated: Restoration programs for the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay would be completely wiped out.
Eliminated: Energy Star, a popular voluntary labeling program for efficient appliances and devices, would lose all federal funding.
Slashed: The Superfund program for cleanup of contaminated sites would have its funding cut from about $1.1 billion to $762 million. (EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt reportedly pushed to maintain funding for toxic site cleanups, but lost that battle.)
Eliminated: There would be no more funding for long-distance Amtrak trains; federal funds would be focused on Amtrak’s regional service, like in the Northeast Corridor.
Eliminated: The Department of Agriculture’s water and waste disposal loan and grant program, which gives money to rural governments and tribal nations to improve drinking water systems, would end.
Eliminated: All funding would be erased for National Historic Sites, which are managed by the National Park Service.
Eliminated: No funds would go to the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program, which improves the energy efficiency of low-income families’ homes, helping them save money on utility bills and prevent carbon pollution.
Eliminated: The Department of Energy would lose all funding for its Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which helps to get innovative energy technologies off the ground, and for the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, which works to develop more advanced, efficient cars.
Slashed: NASA’s climate research programs would get hit hard, with several missions that study climate change getting the ax.

There’s lots more where that came from. If you want to dig deeper into Trump’s budget plans, the Washington Post has an excellent rundown.

Keep in mind, though: Congress gets to write federal budgets, not the president. Trump has now put forward his proposal, but the House and Senate will do their own thing. Even many Republicans are unnerved by Trump’s proposed cuts, environmental and otherwise. Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, chair of the subcommittee that writes EPA’s budget, said she “cannot support” many of the cuts. And Rep. Leonard Lance, a New Jersey Republican, argued that some of the cuts “are penny wise but pound foolish.” That’s putting it mildly.

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Trump’s budget is a declaration of war on the environment

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Who installs more solar power? Republicans and Democrats are pretty much tied.

On Thursday, TransCanada, the corporation behind the infamous project, resubmitted an application to the State Department for permission to build the pipeline across the U.S.-Canada border.

Just two days earlier, President Donald Trump had signed a presidential memorandum formally inviting the company to give the pipeline another go. Apparently, TransCanada got right down to work.

“This privately funded infrastructure project will help meet America’s growing energy needs,” said TransCanada CEO Russ Girling, “as well as create tens of thousands of well-paying jobs.” A 2013 State Department report found the pipeline would create 28,000 jobs, but just 35 would be permanent.

Barack Obama rejected the pipeline plan in 2015, after indigenous groups and environmentalists fought it for nearly a decade. Now that a new application has been submitted, the project needs to be OK’d by both the State Department and Trump to proceed. Nebraska also needs to review and approve the project, which it’s expected to do.

Last June, TransCanada took advantage of the North American Free Trade Agreement — a deal Trump disdains — to file a $15 billion claim against the U.S. government for rejecting its Keystone proposal. Oh, what a tangled web we weave.

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Who installs more solar power? Republicans and Democrats are pretty much tied.

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Now you can use Google to organize your neighbors around solar.

Following an exceptionally dry winter in 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown mandated that cities cut back on water use by 25 percent. Californians responded by letting their grass turn brown, or replacing it with artificial turf and less thirsty plants.

Sod suppliers, landscapers, and conservation activists now say that lawns are coming back into fashion, the Guardian reports. California did away with mandatory water restrictions in June, which may have sent the wrong message to residents. In August, urban water consumption had risen nearly 10 percent from the previous year.

Before it dropped these restrictions, the state spent $350 million on rebates for those who tore out their water-sucking grass. Anti-lawn campaigns emerged, such as “Brown is the new green,” and the media drought shamed those who maintained lush, grassy expanses.

It seemed like these efforts were working: One major lawn supplier saw orders plunge from 500 per day to 80 during the height of drought shaming.

The orders have now crept into the hundreds — despite the severe drought conditions that persist. Another dusty winter would send California into its sixth straight year of drought.

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Now you can use Google to organize your neighbors around solar.

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Water Out of the Tailpipe: A New Class of Electric Car Gains Traction

In California, state subsidies for hydrogen filling stations are encouraging clean-energy advocates to try fuel-cell vehicles. Read More:   Water Out of the Tailpipe: A New Class of Electric Car Gains Traction ; ; ;

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Water Out of the Tailpipe: A New Class of Electric Car Gains Traction

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