Where progressives and conservatives agree on clean energy

April 9, 2021 by  
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Where progressives and conservatives agree on clean energy Sarah Golden Fri, 04/09/2021 – 01:45 From an ideological perspective, it’s curious that clean energy became a partisan issue. Looking at it as a technology, there is a ton to like about renewables across the political spectrum.  This hasn’t escaped political conservatives outside the beltway. A number of conservative groups champion clean energy, from the Conservative Energy Network (CEN) and Young Conservatives for Energy Reform (YCER) to the Christian Coalition for America .  As the federal government considers a massive infrastructure bill that would spur clean energy growth and decarbonize the economy, it’s worth looking at where the conservative and progressive ideologies align on clean energy, and where they diverge.  CONVERGENCE: Energy independence Nothing should be more on-brand for conservatives than owning and controlling your own power. Solar panels could be rebranded as “don’t-take-my-gun-away energy.” Perhaps this is why CEN calls subscribers “energy patriots.” When millions lost power during Texas’ deadly energy crisis in February, former governor Rick Perry expressed this sentiment of rugged individualism — even if it came at the expense of grid resilience.  “Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business,” Perry said.  Of course, independence and resilience shouldn’t be a tradeoff, and no one is advocating it should be. The point is that the concept of energy independence — be it from other nations or your own government — is an attractive idea across the political spectrum.  From a national security perspective, clean energy also allows the U.S. to become less reliant on foreign oil states. The Military Advisory Board, a group of retired high-level officers from the U.S. Armed Forces, sees getting off foreign oil and getting onto clean energy as a top national security concern — both in terms of the threats that emerge from climate change and the resources the U.S. expends to secure foreign oil interests.  “As new energy options emerge to meet global demand, nations that lead stand to gain; should the U.S. sit on the sidelines, it does so at considerable risk to our national security,” writes the group on its website .  CONVERGENCE: Local empowerment Some rural communities are beginning to reap economic development benefits from renewables, warming locals to the solar and wind industries. A report from RMI, ” Seeds of Opportunity ,” says that by 2030, annual revenues from wind and solar projects could exceed $60 billion. That’s on par with the expected revenues from corn, soy and beef combined, America’s top three agricultural commodities. In Texas, renewable energy projects are expected to generate upwards of $5.7 billion in tax revenue for communities and $7.3 billion directly to landowners in lease payments over the life of the projects. This is a welcome revenue stream for farmers trying to make ends meet and communities historically dependent on oil and gas.  “The cows love wind turbines; they walk around them all day and follow the shadows that they cast,” said Louis Brooks Jr. of Nolan County, a Texas rancher, in a report . “We now have good roads on our land [because of the wind farm] that make it easier to take care of our cattle. It has been super. … It is not perfect, but I wish we had more of them on our land.” In Wyoming, towns previously reliant on fossil fuels have seen local budgets grow thanks to wind tax revenue, including Cheyenne and Rawlins . The local potential of clean energy is key to some progressive clean energy organizations’ agendas, as well. The Solutions Project , for example, funds 100 local organizations designed to bring the benefits of clean energy to marginalized communities. BlocPower works to bring advanced energy technologies to low-income homes in urban settings.  At the core of these initiatives: owning and controlling energy supports local economies.  CONVERGENCE: American competitiveness America has a proud history of innovation. But the nation has fallen behind in clean energy investment and risks missing out on growing markets. The U.S. ranks fourth , behind Japan, China and the European Union, on research and development for energy technologies as a share of GDP. President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill includes investments to make American companies competitive in the race to develop affordable clean energy technologies. The goal would be to grow the economy and create millions of jobs. For example, China is dominating in battery innovation and manufacturing globally. Through Biden’s proposed $174 billion investment in the electric vehicle market , the administration sees a path to a domestic supply chain that would keep the economic benefits in America — and position manufacturers to sell abroad.  America’s innovative spirit fits nicely into conservative ideology, as summarized in this quote from Tyler Duvelius, CEN’s director of external affairs (and YCER alum): “America gave the world flight, we put man on the moon and harnessed electricity. Clean energy is the next great frontier of American innovation.” Of course, conservatives also have balked at the idea of the government picking winners, and they point to past clean energy failures as a sign of government overreach. The poster child for this is Solyndra , a solar company that received federal grant money from the 2009 stimulus bill and later went bankrupt.  Progressives point to these investments as an important part of spurring forward other burgeoning technologies, from smartphones to natural gas and the internet.  “You have to step up to the plate and take a swing in order to hit the ball, and sometimes you swing and you miss,” U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm to the New York Times . “But if you never swing, you will never hit the ball, and you’ll never get a run. So the overall benefits of the Obama-era clean energy investments were overwhelmingly a net positive.” DIVERGENCE: Equating social justice and clean energy policy Over the years, the fight for racial justice and climate actions have merged in some progressive circles. They are different sides of the same fight, so it is impossible to systematically address one without the others. As a candidate, Biden’s climate platform featured addressing environmental racism as one of its five planks. Today, the infrastructure bill features provisions focused on fighting racial and economic inequities.  According to reports, Republicans scoff at those provisions, calling them a “Trojan horse” of liberal policies. The CEN website echoes the idea that the infrastructure proposal is too sweeping in its focus on racial justice. “We cannot afford to wrap a costly political wishlist into a broader infrastructure package,” wrote CEN’s director of policy and advocacy, Landon Stevens, in an op-ed on the organization’s website. Of course, conservatives can see the economic potential of embracing clean energy without supporting the social justice elements. But this ideological divergence touches such polarizing topics, it seems to inspire everyone to dig in their heels.  DIVERGENCE: The role of fossil fuels in the transition Most progressive organizations, using climate science as a guide, advocate for the quick transition away from all fossil fuels.  Language from conservative clean energy advocates instead talks about “market-based” transitions for encouraging alternatives.  “Our solutions are simple yet effective,” wrote a group of Republican members of Congress in an op-ed last month, including Rep. Dan Newhouse (Washington) and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (California). “Where many Democrats want to shut down, ban and overregulate, we want to incentivize, innovate and progress through market-based solutions.” Those guided by climate science point to the need to rapidly transition — faster than market forces can act. They also note that decades-long disinformation campaigns from fossil fuels companies mean we’re decades behind on the transition and that delaying action is the latest incarnation of climate denial.  Rewiring America, an organization that has mapped out how to combat climate change through electrification that leans progressive, argues that policy mandate is the only way to reach our climate goals.  “The invisible hand of markets is definitely not fast enough; it typically takes decades for a new technology to become dominant by market forces alone as it slowly increases its market share each year,” the Rewiring America handbook says. “A carbon tax isn’t fast enough, either. Market subsidies are not fast enough.” While there are certainly differences in the conservative and progressive approach to America’s clean energy future, it’s possible we’re closer to agreement than we think. And that, perhaps, the points of divergence (which are truly important and shouldn’t be ignored), don’t need to stand in the way of progress where it can be made. Especially at a moment when two-thirds of Americans think the government should do more on climate. Want more great analysis of the clean energy transition? Sign up for Energy Weekly , our free email newsletter. Topics Energy & Climate Policy & Politics Featured Column Power Points Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Lightspring Close Authorship

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Where progressives and conservatives agree on clean energy

For a clean, resilient grid, look to EV infrastructure

March 24, 2021 by  
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For a clean, resilient grid, look to EV infrastructure Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 03/24/2021 – 00:30 Electric vehicle charging infrastructure could provide a major benefit — boosting both clean energy and resiliency — for the power grid. On Monday, automaker BMW and northern California utility PG&E announced a new expanded program that could help incentivize 3,000 BMW drivers to shift the charging of their vehicles to times of day when clean energy (namely solar power) is abundant. The program could also nudge drivers to curb EV charging during times when the grid is really congested.  “We see smart charging as a way to make EVs more sustainable,” said Adam Langton, energy services manager for connected e-mobility for BMW of North America, in an interview with GreenBiz. BMW previously offered two smaller pilot programs with PG&E and found that smart charging services paired with clean energy could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Northern California by 32 percent. “Some customers were very motivated to use more clean energy for charging. Using digital tools, we can provide them with that clean energy,” Langton said. Some customers were very motivated to use more clean energy for charging. While the latest effort is still just a pilot program right now, here are five reasons I think this initiative is particularly interesting: Utilities and automakers need to collaborate. To build a grid — with an abundance of clean energy and electric vehicles — that operates well, utilities and automakers will need to create strong partnerships. Currently not many have these relationships in place. BMW’s Langton said this pilot is the only example he knows of where a utility is providing an automaker with clean energy generation projection data. I would think sharing this type of data would be extremely important and valuable to all players across the EV infrastructure and hardware ecosystem. It’s all about data. To enable this type of dynamic smart-charging ecosystem, the automakers, utilities, tech providers, charging companies and drivers need data to optimize the systems. They need clean energy projections, but also predictions about user behavior, dynamic electricity rates, weather prediction data, etc. Data will be the key — the currency — that underlies all of these programs. Design experience will be required. The way these programs are designed, and taking into consideration how users drive and want to drive their EVs, will be extremely important in ensuring that drivers volunteer to take part in them. Negative experiences around programs being difficult to use, complicated, not flexible or just not worth the extra effort to be enrolled will greatly affect the rollout. The teams creating these programs need strong expertise in consumer behavior.  This could be a stepping stone to V2G. Utilities and automakers need to get these smart-charging programs right in order to move to the next stage where they’re looking at projects around enabling vehicle-to-grid capabilities. That’s where EVs can discharge electricity back onto the power grid in an exchange with utilities. V2G has long been overhyped and underdeployed, but to kick it into the next gear will require these smart charging baby steps first.  This is a big year for infrastructure. These types of EV smart-charging pilot programs will become even more important as the federal government is expected to spend potentially trillions of dollars on a stimulus plan this year that could include $1 trillion for infrastructure such as roads, bridges, rails, EV charging and grid gear. Getting the steps right on a micro-level — 3,000 EV drivers in California — will help inform how and where EV infrastructure spending should be deployed.  Want more great analysis of electric and sustainable transport? Sign up for Transport Weekly , our free email newsletter. Pull Quote Some customers were very motivated to use more clean energy for charging. Topics Transportation & Mobility EV Charging Electricity Grid Resilience Featured Column Driving Change Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Biden’s new executive order cuts fossil fuel subsidies

February 1, 2021 by  
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In a recent executive order, President Joe Biden has directed federal agencies to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. The agencies are to find new opportunities that will “spur innovation, commercialization, and deployment of clean energy technology.” While the news has caused jitters among big oil corporations, conservation groups welcome the move toward clean energy . Cutting fossil fuel subsidies is a crucial step in reaching clean energy goals. After all, continuing such subsidies in a country that aims to go green means that the U.S. is essentially paying fossil fuel companies to pollute the air. According to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, there are several direct and indirect tax subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. In the U.S., direct subsidies to the oil industry reach a total of over $20 billion per year. Many of these subsidies intend to help American fossil fuel producers compete with producers in parts of the world where fuel production is cheaper. Among the direct subsidies is the Intangible Drilling Cost Deduction, which deducts costs incurred for drilling in the United States. The Percentage Depletion subsidy reduces taxable amounts, while the Credit for Clean Coal Investment offers tax credits for energy investments. Besides these direct subsidies, the U.S. also offers indirect subsidies for tax relief and foreign tax credits. According to a  Reuters  report, some fossil fuel industry leaders are not taking the new directives well. Before the ink dried on the order, the Western Energy Alliance filed a lawsuit challenging it. Specifically, Western Energy Alliance wants the order to reverse fossil fuel leasing on federal land declared unlawful by the courts.  This lawsuit represents some of the opposition against the country’s move toward clean energy. Some industry leaders have already lamented that the decision will make the U.S. reliant on foreign energy, alleging that this may put the country in a tricky economic position. “With a stroke of a pen, the administration is shifting America’s bright energy future into reverse and setting us on a path toward greater reliance on foreign energy produced with lower environmental standards,” Mike Sommers, president of the American Petroleum Institute, said in a statement. Despite complaints from the fossil fuel industry, environmental activists have outlined just how important this executive order is in addressing the climate crisis. As Angela Anderson, director of the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in a statement, “ Climate change is not a distant crisis but rather one that has already reached our doorstep and can no longer be ignored.” Anderson also explained that “Black, brown, Indigenous and low-income communities are among the most devastated by the climate crisis. The executive order takes steps to remedy this unfair burden by incorporating equity and justice throughout the climate agenda.” Via CleanTechnica Lead image via Center for American Progress

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Biden and the future of clean energy politics

January 22, 2021 by  
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Biden and the future of clean energy politics Sarah Golden Fri, 01/22/2021 – 01:00 Have you heard about the clean energy triangle?  The theory goes that in order to rapidly deploy clean energy, you need three elements: technology; policy; and finance. When these components are integrated, we’re able to thoughtfully accelerate the speed and scale of clean technologies. The technology is there and is getting better. The finance is following as investors see there’s money to be made. The only missing piece, before this week, has been policy.  The inauguration of Joe Biden as president is the dawn of a new political era; for the first time, the stars are aligning for the clean energy sector to unleash its full potential.  Biden’s position on clean energy is as diametrically opposed to his predecessor as this analyst can fathom. On his first day, the new president signed executive orders killing the controversial Keystone XL pipeline and recommitting the United States to the Paris climate accord. As a candidate, Biden called for 100 percent clean energy in the U.S. by 2035. He’s integrating climate experts across all departments in “the largest team ever assembled inside the White House to tackle global warming.” The political sea change is larger than the whims of a single politician. It’s a reflection of the growing, influential force of the clean energy sector itself that will be difficult for serious politicians to ignore forevermore.  How clean energy pros helped POTUS land his new job Biden didn’t always make clean energy his issue. He responded to the public’s growing concerns about climate change and listened to experts about its immense economic potential.  That didn’t happen by accident. The clean energy sector has been growing and maturing for years, and in this election cycle, it helped Biden land his dream job thanks in part to the all-volunteer organization Clean Energy for Biden (CE4B) .  “I’m not just hopeful, I’m pretty convinced [clean energy professionals were politically influential],” Dan Reicher, CE4B co-chair and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy, told me in a phone conversation. “They’ve shown themselves to be very capable in President Biden’s victory and made a real difference.” CE4B brought together more than 13,000 individuals in all 50 states, including 40 regional affinity groups in key locations across the county. It raised $3.2 million through more than 100 fundraisers and held hundreds of phone banks to get out the vote. The effort brought together impressive, diverse and passionate professionals  excited about leaders who understand clean energy. (Full disclosure: I’m a volunteer for CE4B.) The success of the CE4B’s organizing and campaign efforts inspired organizers to spin out a newly formed nonprofit, Clean Energy for America, which will support candidates and policies that will accelerate the clean energy transition at the state and national levels.  “Clean Energy for America is a recognition that the transformation that we need to address our clean energy challenges and opportunities needs to happen up and down the ballot,” Reicher said. “It’s not enough to work on a presidential campaign and then close up shop. We’ve got to continue on a variety of races on the national level, but we have to get really focused on state and local races as well.” It’s also a recognition that clean energy professionals are realizing their power and are here to stay. As clean energy continues to disrupt dirty energy incumbents, the sector will grow in numbers and power. It also means those in power today will decide the policy levers that shape our energy future; who benefits and in what way.  Clean Energy for America is continuing with the key tenets of CE4B, organizing around the principles of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion to ensure that the clean energy transition is a just transition for all. The long road to Clean Energy for America  Before Clean Energy for Biden, there was CleanTech for Hillary. Before that, there was CleanTech for Obama.  The evolution of the name — from cleantech to clean energy — is a reflection of the industry itself.  “We treated it as a technology play, not ready for prime time,” said Reicher, who was involved in each organization. “We now call it clean energy. We had decided we had become mainstream; we were no longer a large tech sector backed by venture capital communities. It is a large, mainstream energy sector backed by large investment firms around the U.S. and world.” Today, millions work in clean energy (about  3.4 million before the start of the pandemic), and those numbers translated into a larger network.  “We still marvel today at how fast [CE4B] grew to 13,000 people,” Reicher said. “We never saw that level of growth in the other organizations.” With the birth of Clean Energy for America, the group is poised to continue to mobilize in races quickly. That, combined with the virtuous cycle that promises millions more Americans will be employed by clean energy in the coming decades, plants a clean energy flag in the sand.  Topics Renewable Energy Energy & Climate Jobs & Careers Wind Power Solar Featured Column Power Points Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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Scotland to become first country to test 100% green hydrogen

December 4, 2020 by  
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The U.K. has moved one step closer towards its net-zero carbon target by unveiling a plan to test 100% green hydrogen for cooking and heating in 300 Scottish homes, making Scotland the first country to do so. Ofgem, the U.K.’s energy regulator, announced this plan on Monday. According to Ofgem, Scottish gas company SGN will be responsible for fitting houses with hydrogen heating systems. SGN plans to start fitting houses in Fife with free hydrogen systems that families will use over the next three to four years. The ambitious project is a trial begun by the U.K. government to monitor the viability of using carbon-free hydrogen generated through electrolysis. Ofgem funded the project with $24 million as part of an innovation competition aimed at finding new green energy sources. The group also chipped in $17 million for tests on using the available natural gas pipes to safely transport hydrogen gas over long distances. According to Antony Green, the head of the National Grid, the U.K. must embrace green alternatives such as this carbon-free hydrogen. “If we truly want to reach a net zero de-carbonized future, we need to replace methane with green alternatives like hydrogen,” Green said. “Sectors such as heat are difficult to de-carbonize, and the importance of the gas networks to the UK’s current energy supply means projects like this are crucial if we are to deliver low carbon energy, reliably and safely to all consumers.” While hydrogen is a safe gas, it comes with its fair share of challenges. For instance, electrolysis is only 80% effective. This means that the hydrogen generation process wastes about 20% of the energy used. Even so, the U.K. considers hydrogen a viable energy alternative for the 85% of the U.K. homes still using a gas furnace for heating. As the U.K. explores hydrogen-based energy, automobile and appliance industries are also testing this gas. For example, Toyota recently released news of the second generation Mirai, a car that runs on hydrogen. + Engadget Image via Pixabay

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Apex Clean Energy’s Mark Goodwin on how to reach escalating renewable energy demands

November 23, 2020 by  
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Apex Clean Energy’s Mark Goodwin on how to reach escalating renewable energy demands This video is sponsored by Apex Clean Energy. “One of the best ways to do that is to procure utility scale electricity from wind and solar so what’s needed in order to keep the momentum going is to ensure the ability of companies like Apex to deliver those projects.” Sarah Golden, senior energy analyst & VERGE energy chair at GreenBiz, interviewed Mark Goodwin, president & CEO of Apex Clean Energy, during the VERGE 20 virtual event (October 26-30, 2020). View archived videos from the conference here: https://bit.ly/3kMjeXt . taylor flores Sun, 11/22/2020 – 19:34 Featured Off

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Wartsila’s Risto Paldanius on the pathways to 100% clean energy

November 23, 2020 by  
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Wartsila’s Risto Paldanius on the pathways to 100% clean energy This video is sponsored by Wartsila. “Right now the industry grid scale energy storage is dominated by lithium-ion technology as restoring waste thanks to the EV car and battery development and the costs coming down, but I think we’ll be seeing more and more longer duration batteries in different view formats which we might even not know yet.” Sarah Golden, senior energy analyst & VERGE energy chair at GreenBiz, interviewed Risto Paldanius, vice president of Wartsila Americas, during the VERGE 20 virtual event (October 26-30, 2020). View archived videos from the conference here: https://bit.ly/3kMjeXt . taylor flores Sun, 11/22/2020 – 19:14 Featured Off

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LevelTen’s Bryce Smith on the state of the renewable procurement market during the pandemic

November 23, 2020 by  
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LevelTen’s Bryce Smith on the state of the renewable procurement market during the pandemic This video is sponsored by LevelTen. “It is clear that that corporate commitment to renewables is very strong remains strong and in in some ways maybe even stronger than it was at the end of the year.” Sarah Golden, senior energy analyst & VERGE energy chair at GreenBiz, interviewed Bryce Smith, CEO of LevelTen, during the VERGE 20 virtual event (October 26-30, 2020). View archived videos from the conference here: https://bit.ly/3kMjeXt . taylor flores Sun, 11/22/2020 – 18:57 Featured Off

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LevelTen’s Bryce Smith on the state of the renewable procurement market during the pandemic

Episode 242: Responsible mining, the politics of clean energy

October 23, 2020 by  
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Episode 242: Responsible mining, the politics of clean energy Heather Clancy Fri, 10/23/2020 – 02:00 Week in Review Stories discussed this week (7:25). Microsoft, Tiffany help carve out new responsible mining standard Green 2.0: Corporate advocacy and the environmental movement’s racial justice reckoning How big-time investors think about deforestation: Q&A with investment manager Lauren Compere Features 5 questions with renewable fuels company Neste (20:40)   Jeremy Baines took on his role as president of Neste U.S. a little more than a year ago. He joins us to answer five questions about the organization’s strategy. The clean energy voting bloc (27:50)   GreenBiz senior energy analyst Sarah Golden offers an inside view to Clean Energy for Biden, which is raising visibility for the economic potential of clean energy industries ahead of the presidential election.  *Music in this episode by Lee Rosevere: “More On That Later,” “Night Caves,” “New Day,” “Curiosity” and “Sad Marimba Planet” *This episode was sponsored by WestRock and MCE, and features VERGE 20 sponsor Neste. Resources galore Lessons in resilience from the produce industry. Subject matter experts from Kwik Lok, Walmart and Second Harvest Food Bank join us at 1 p.m. EST Nov. 10 to discuss responding to disruption and how to balance food safety and security to minimize food waste. Behavior change and the circular economy. How innovation and new business models alter people’s relationship with waste. Join the discussion at 8 p.m. EST Nov. 12.  Do we have a newsletter for you! We produce six weekly newsletters: GreenBuzz by Executive Editor Joel Makower (Monday); Transport Weekly by Senior Writer and Analyst Katie Fehrenbacher (Tuesday); VERGE Weekly by Executive Director Shana Rappaport and Editorial Director Heather Clancy (Wednesday); Energy Weekly by Senior Energy Analyst Sarah Golden (Thursday); Food Weekly by Carbon and Food Analyst Jim Giles (Thursday); and Circular Weekly by Director and Senior Analyst Lauren Phipps (Friday). You must subscribe to each newsletter in order to receive it. Please visit this page to choose which you want to receive. The GreenBiz Intelligence Panel is the survey body we poll regularly throughout the year on key trends and developments in sustainability. To become part of the panel, click here . Enrolling is free and should take two minutes. Stay connected To make sure you don’t miss the newest episodes of GreenBiz 350, subscribe on iTunes . Have a question or suggestion for a future segment? E-mail us at 350@greenbiz.com . Contributors Joel Makower Sarah Golden Topics Podcast Renewable Energy Supply Chain Policy & Politics Mining Collective Insight GreenBiz 350 Podcast Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 37:26 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Close Authorship

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Episode 242: Responsible mining, the politics of clean energy

A vote for clean energy

October 16, 2020 by  
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A vote for clean energy Sarah Golden Fri, 10/16/2020 – 01:45 I recently joined the most impressive group of clean energy leaders I’ve known, and it happens to have come together in support of Joe Biden for president. The network: Clean Energy for Biden (CE4B).  It includes more than 9,500 clean energy professionals in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. There are entrepreneurs, engineers, policymakers, technicians and investors. There are thought leaders I’ve long admired and business leaders that have made clean energy more accessible to all people. Clean energy professionals as a voting bloc CE4B is evidence that the clean energy sector is, perhaps for the first time, a significant voting bloc in the United States.  Before the start of the COVID crisis, the clean energy sector employed nearly 3.4 million Americans in all 50 states. In 42 states, more people are included in clean energy than in the fossil fuel industry. If mobilized, these millions of Americans could have a major impact in this and future elections.  CE4B shows that support for clean energy as a voting issue is already widespread. The self-organizing, all-volunteer effort has more than 25 active state teams and organized more than 100 grassroots events, which collectively have raised more than $2.6 million on behalf of the Biden campaign.  The executive council is more than 50 industry leaders, including household names (for energy nerds) and representation from major companies, including Kate Brandt of Google, Jigar Shah of Generate Capital, Kate Gordon of California’s Office of Planning and Research and Jon Wellinghoff, former chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Why get political now? We don’t write about politics much at GreenBiz (although I’m sure regular Energy Weeklyians have a sense of my personal politics).  Much about this presidential contest is outside of the purview of my job as an energy analyst. But when it comes to accelerating the adoption of clean energy, I would be remiss to not call attention to what may be the starkest difference in energy platforms in American history.  If I may simplify the two men’s stances, Donald Trump’s energy policy looks backward to the energy that powered our past, and Biden is looking forward to the fuels of the future. I’m not going to dive into either candidate’s specific platform; others already have written much on the topic. Rather, I’m here to highlight that candidates who support clean energy policy are also supporting economic, climate and social justice policies.  Clean energy policy is economic policy As the economic fallout of the COVID pandemic is coming into focus and the job creation is leveling off, the clean energy transition represents an opportunity to put Americans back to work.  First, clean energy is more jobs-rich than fossil fuels, meaning more people are employed per unit of energy created. A 2010 study found that for every $1 million invested, oil and gas would create roughly five jobs, while wind and solar would create 13 or 14 jobs.  Second, clean energy jobs are distributed. While dirty energy is usually centralized — think coal miners in West Virginia or roughnecks in North Dakota — clean energy manufacturers, technicians and installers are needed in every community, and provide options at every skill level. According to E2, all but two of America’s 3,007 counties are home to clean energy jobs.  Third, prioritizing clean energy gives America a chance to be a global leaders in advanced energy technologies. Getting ahead of the innovation curve means the country could be exporting technologies as other nations race to meet climate goals. Which I find a lot more exciting than trying to prop up dinosaur industries.  My two cents: if you are worried about the economy, supporting candidates that understand the jobs potential in the clean energy sector is a smart move.  Clean energy policy is climate policy  Scientists agree that the next decade will be critical to addressing climate change and avoiding the worst of its economic impacts and human toll.  So it makes sense that voters are beginning to see climate as a voting issue. A recent poll from Pew Research shows that 68 percent of likely voters rank climate as “very” or “somewhat” important, up from 44 percent in 2009. Luckily, the same policies that will create clean energy jobs will curb energy-related emissions. While energy is not the only source of climate-changing emissions, it is a sector that has carbon-free solutions today, meaning it must rapidly decarbonize to give us a chance at a safe climate future.  We’re already seeing the economic impacts of extreme weather across the country and world. Politicians that work to curb the worst impacts of climate change are working to curb the human and economic tolls.  Clean energy policy is social justice policy Like so many other issues, those most affected by pollution from dirty energy are low-income communities and communities of color.  If you’re Black in America, you have higher rates of lung cancer and asthma, and are more likely to have (and die from) heart disease, all linked to living with dirty air. Nearly one in two Latinx people in the U.S. live in counties where the air doesn’t meet EPA smog standards. People of color are more likely to live near highways, airports, power plants and refineries.  That all takes a toll on health, economic potential and quality of life. Supporting a just energy transition is synonymous with supporting marginalized communities to become more resilient, prosperous and healthy.  Clean energy technologies — the same that uplift the economy and address climate change — can help all communities thrive. Politicians who understand that are taking the realities of environmental racism seriously.  Vote Clean energy is a rare issue that is win-win-win: it uplifts the economy, creates jobs and helps curb climate change. The only downside is incumbent energy powers need to get out of the way.  Of course, the sector isn’t perfect. Clean energy advocates are working hard to not replicate the same inequities or unintended consequences as the old, dirty energy sources. But I, for one, am ready for political debates about how to best create energy systems for the future, rather than debate if we should stay in the past.  And, no matter what your political ideology is, if you’re a U.S. reader, vote in whatever way you can. It’s what being American is all about.  This essay first appeared in GreenBiz’s newsletter Energy Weekly, running Thursdays. Subscribe here . Topics Energy & Climate Policy & Politics Social Justice Clean Energy Featured Column Power Points Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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