Friday, March 30, 2012

One State's View of new EPA Regs/WRPI News

We touched on this yesterday and gave our assent to Obama's crackdown on coal-fired plant emissions.  RI, according to WRPI News, has similar praise:

AG praises EPA on new greenhouse regs

Regulations will limit greenhouse gas emissions

Updated: Thursday, 29 Mar 2012, 5:20 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 29 Mar 2012, 5:19 PM EDT
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin says he's happy with the newly proposed limit on greenhouse gas emissions by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA's goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of new coal-fired power plants by roughly 50 percent over the plant's life.
“Addressing the threat posed by climate change is one of the most important challenges of our time – one that demands attention, leadership and action at all levels of government and by the private sector," said Kilmartin, calling the new regulations "common-sense" and "cost-effective".
The EPA’s action is in response to litigation filed by a number of state and local government groups involving Rhode Island, which asked the environmental group to comply with the federal Clean Air Act limiting power plant pollutants.
Copyright WPRI
In this case, the Feds are following the States' lead in attacking our greenhouse gases.  Better, still, would be to, ultimately, take this coal-fired plants totally off line, while invested heavily in clean energy.  The financial returns would be fantastic.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Obama's line in the sand on global warming‏

In case you did not see this previously:

When the coal companies get going on this it is going to be brutal.   

Yesterday, President Obama drew a historic line in the sand with an EPA proposal that puts strong limits on the power plant pollution that causes global warming. This is the pollution that leads to worse air pollution, more devastating floods, and more extreme weather — with low-lying coastal states like Rhode Island especially vulnerable. Join us in showing your support for the first-ever nationwide limits on carbon pollution from new power plants.

This action is a huge step toward tackling this huge problem. But now comes the hard part. 

The coal companies, utilities, and other special interests are furious that these rules could force them to stop spewing unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into our air — and they're sure to launch a well-funded and ruthless campaign to force President Obama to back down. They'll spend millions on lobbying and run paid ads saying that the science isn't settled, that cutting carbon pollution will completely destroy our economy, and that the sun sets in the east.  

As we gear up for what could be the year's biggest fight, I know that there's only one force strong enough to defeat industry dollars: People power. That's why I need to know — will you join us today and add your name in support of these historic standards?...

If you'd like to read more, click on the embedded links.

We'd like to hear your comments on this.  We believe a transformation to cleaner domestic energy production, absolutely, away from coal, is one of the best investments we can make into our future economic growth and environmental protection.  Combine that with transforming over to EV's, using cleaner domestic energy production, and we'll bring money, jobs and clean air back to our nation...and help the world balance as well.

What do you think?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pawtucket, RI

As many of you know, we started our 12 City tour in Pawtucket with four great shows.  This week, on Thursday, we film the next 4 in Woonsocket.

We hope you've had a chance to watch the opening four shows.  With an amazing history and, we found, a very bright future, Pawtucket became the perfect launching pad to the series.

Interestingly, right after our shows aired, The Providence Journal, a major newspaper in town, focused--from a different perspective--on the same city and story.  Here's the link to their video:

Don't forget, too, we have followed up our great success broadcasting the compost conference with a media sponsorship of the upcoming Grow Smart Summit in Providence.  Take a look at the video promoting the event here on our blog, and please make sure to come if you are close by.

Let us know what you think on the Journal video.  And listen to our radio show tomorrow, 12-1p, EST, on WARL 1320 AM.

We ran this last year and had a great response

This from Nature's Conservancy:  
  • ou're Invited: Picnic for the Planet‏

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Picnic for the Planet - Earth Day 2011 - Join the Earth Day Celebration!

You’re invited to celebrate with us on Earth Day, Sunday April 22! Attend a picnic, host one of your own or find other ways to join in the fun.

Get Involved
You’re invited to Picnic for the Planet — our global Earth Day celebration!

On the weekend of Earth Day, April 22, people in Rhode Island and around the world will celebrate the planet we live on, the food that it provides and the people with whom we share it.

There are many ways to participate: 

We want to make this the world's largest picnic celebration, so let us know if you are planning to join or host a Picnic for the Planet! Be sure to R.S.V.P. today.

Please follow @allhandsonearth on Twitter and Facebook to get the latest news about Picnic for the Planet.

We just finished writing a closing for our show that we shot in Boston at Carbon Day.  The mission of Carbon Day is to get everyone, everyone, to contribute towards a reduction of our collective carbon footprint.  We know this has to be a collective effort.

If you can treat everyday as Earth Day, do something to create less waste, use less energy, support companies and organizations that are making a difference, you win, we win and both the environment and economy takes one step closer to sustainability.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Thanks to Barbara Seeley

For sending us an excellent article on RI (but it could be any state) standing in the way of destructive, devastating weather as the environment changes around us.  This from the Warwick Beacon:

Environmentalist warns RI 'in path of storm'
The sun has been shining and the birds have been chirping in the unseasonably high March temperatures, but environmentalists see this season as a possible effect of global warming. Channing Jones, field associate with Environment Rhode Island Research and Policy Center, said yesterday at a press conference that pollution and emissions have a direct correlation to natural disasters, and if action isn’t taken now to reduce our collective carbon footprint, the state can look forward to many more floods, hurricanes and hefty cleanup bills.

According to Federal Emergency Management Agency data, every county in Rhode Island has experienced a weather-related federally declared disaster between 2006 and 2011. Kent County has experienced two in the last two years: the floods of 2010, and the wrath of Irene in 2011.

“The entire state of Rhode Island has seen the effects of weather-related disasters and the great threat they pose to Rhode Island’s safety and economy,” said Jones at a press conference yesterday...

The link to the balance of the story:

Take a look at that last line:  "...the great threat they pose to Rhode Island’s safety and economy,"  That is the key:  our economy, across the world, depends heavily on our management of the environment and our natural resources.  We pay a huge financial price for creating waste, pollution and failing to safeguard earth's gifts.  And, that relates to everyone of us--not just businesses and governments.

Our investments in clean companies, technology and restoring ecological balance clearly, then, have a huge, and sustaining, ROI.  Make the investment.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thank you to Mark Learn

For a great update, from Technology Review, on some amazing advances in the solar cell production process:

Startup Aims to Cut the Cost of Solar Cells in Half

A new process uses a high-energy ion accelerator to make thin silicon solar cells.
  • TUESDAY, MARCH 13, 2012

Twin Creeks Technologies—a startup that has been operating in secret until today—has developed a way to make thin wafers of crystalline silicon that it says could cut the cost of making silicon solar cells in half. It has demonstrated the technology in a small, 25-megawatt-per-year solar-cell factory it built in Senatobia, Mississippi.
Siva Sivaram, the CEO of Twin Creeks, says the company's technology both reduces the amount of silicon needed and the cost of the manufacturing equipment. He claims the company can produce solar cells for about 40 cents per watt, which compares to roughly 80 cents for the cheapest solar cells now. Twin Creeks has raised $93 million in venture capital, plus loans from the state of Mississippi and other sources that it used to build its solar factory...."
Here's the link for the balance of the story:
The long-term health of the renewable energy industry will depend on lowering production costs and being able, based on that and other factors, to deliver competitive products, with good ROI's, that don't depend on government subsidies or credits.  This kind of innovation will push them much closer to that goal.
Yesterday, on our radio show (WARL 1320AM, Wed's, 12-1P, EST), we talked to Winston, from the Conservation Law Foundation, about our collective need to get off fossil fuel, particularly imported oil and gas. The reasons span every kind of environmental and economic benefit.  We hope companies like this, funded to create technology that balances the financial scale, will succeed and quickly.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Grow Smart's Power of Place Summit Highlights

We are thrilled to be one of the media partners to this year's Summit, and are happy to post some highlights below.  Also, take a look at the video we have posted on our site as well:

Keynote Presentation:

How 21st century development trends can be a competitive advantage for Rhode Island

Demand for more walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods is growing across the United States. However, the challenges associated with financing and permitting these developments are allowing much of this demand to go unmet. There's demographic evidence; there's consumer research evidence; there’s economic evidence, but probably the most compelling evidence is the price premium people are willing to pay to live and work in a walkable urban place.  Hear from one of the nation’s leading thinkers and doers about adapting to these demographic trends and economic forces and reaping the economic and community benefits of doing so.

Rhode Island Smart Growth Progress Report

Hear from officials in Rhode Island who are among the leading change agents shaping Rhode Island’s quality of place and economic future.

Kevin M. Flynn, Associate Director, Rhode Island Division of Planning (Moderator)
Keith Stokes, Executive Director, Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation
Janet Coit, Director, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management
Michael P. Lewis, Director, Rhode Island Department of Transportation  

Workshop Presentations:  (this is a sampling of the more than 20 panel presentations)

10:45 a.m. - Noon
Game-Changing Project in Action: Warwick Station Development District:
The vision for Warwick Station calls for transforming the area between TF Green Airport and the newly constructed InterLink into a 1.5 million square feet mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly, transit-oriented growth center. Leveraging the existing public investment in the InterLink, the plan aims to develop a sustainable, attractive, live/work environment, generate new economic activity, 3,000 new jobs and a fourfold increase in the tax base.  Learn how a partnership was formed between the City, RIEDC, RIDOT, Federal Highway, and the Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce to advance the plan.  Get an overview of the project, its status and gain insight into the remaining hurdles that officials are working to clear in order to accelerate economic and community benefits.

The Honorable Scott Avedisian, Mayor of Warwick (Moderator)
William DePasquale, AICP, Director of Planning, City of Warwick                               
Jack C. Hobbs, FAIA, CEO, Collaborative Partners, Boston
Keith Stokes, Executive Director, RIEDC
Michael P. Lewis, Director, RIDOT

1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
Game-Changing Project in Action: The Providence Knowledge District
The Knowledge District is a 360-acre area of Downtown Providence that includes the Jewelry District (the former world-capital of jewelry manufacturing), the Hospital District, and surplus land freed up by the relocation of I-195. It is home to Rhode Island’s largest general hospital and multiple Brown University life-science research and development facilities. Building on existing industry clustering and recent institutional expansion in the District, the City is seeking to create jobs and drive innovation and entrepreneurship in a way that builds an urban neighborhood with a real sense of place, improves sustainability, and enhances quality of life.

Colin Kane, Chairman, I-195 Redevelopment District Commission (Moderator)
Thom Deller, Director of Planning and Development, City of Providence
Michael McCormick, Assistant VP, Planning & Design, Brown University
Christopher Placco, VP, Facilities Management, Johnson & Wales University

3:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Game-Changing Project in Action: East Providence Waterfront District
The East Providence Waterfront District was created by special State Enabling Law in 2003. Much of the approximately 300 acres within the District is vacant or underutilized and many challenges were present for its redevelopment including poor access, outdated infrastructure and environmental contamination. The Waterfront District Enabling Law established a Waterfront District Commission that was charged with redevelopment and was given a unique set of tools including expedited permitting authority and the ability to use economic development approaches such as Tax Increment Financing. This session will highlight two major projects, Tockwotton Home and Village on the Waterfront, which have been able to successfully proceed towards development.

William J. Fazioli, Acting Chairman, East Providence Waterfront District Commission (Moderator)
Jeanne M. Boyle, Director of Planning, City of East Providence
Kevin McKay, Executive Director, Tockwotton Home
Michael Hennessey, Managing Member, Village on The Waterfront, LLC


Smart Growth Awards


§         Arnold “Buff” and Johnnie Chace
§         Rep. Jeremiah O’Grady

Outstanding Smart Growth Projects:

§         Hope Artiste Village, Pawtucket
§         Moran Shipping Agencies HQ, Providence
§         Sandywoods Farm Affordable Housing, Tiverton
§         Stillwater Mill Redevelopment, Burrillville
§         The Mercantile Block, Providence

Outstanding Smart Growth Policies/Plans:

§         Aquidneck Island Transportation Plan
§         Town of North Kingstown / QDC Development Agreement
§         Pawtucket Downtown Design Plan
§         Warwick Station Development District Plan

Monday, March 19, 2012

Is a great site, filled with good stories and cool videos.

Here's a recent story:
Climate Leadership Awards

Vote for the best climate leadership work from colleges and universities!

Submit Your Idea NowPlanet Forward is excited to partner with Second Nature to present the Climate Leadership Awards, which recognize some of the best climate leadership work being done by colleges and universities across the country. Now that we’ve selected this year’s finalists, its up to you to decide who this year’s winners will be.
All of the finalists have been asked to create a 1-3 minute video highlighting their innovation featured in their nomination forms. All videos are due by March 10th, but you can already vote for your favorites today!
Voting ends at midnight on April 14. The winners you voted for will be featured at our GW Moving the Planet Forward conference this April. All institutions that submit videos also have the chance to be featured in our blog posts on The Huffington Post and National Geographic’s Great Energy Challenge blog, in our pieces on television, in our webisodes, or in other public outreach opportunities.
We hope some of the winners do a great job of combining ecological improvements with commerce and job creation.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

RIC (Rhode Island College) is getting greener and greener.

Which is good to see as they are a sponsor/partner, and we love to see our Renewable Now family walking the walk when it comes to positive environmental changes.

Here's a report from their Director of Dinning Services:

"In response to your March 8th letter, and our subsequent discussion on DDC greening.

It is our intent to reduce the non-biodegradable paper good "footprint" within the Dining Center and where possible, at the Café and Galley.

Our phase - in plan is as follows:

1. TRAYS: We will place signage near our tray area encouraging patrons to consider the environment when choosing to take a tray. This will be in place March 18, 2012.Please note that many guests choose not to take a tray while others do so as a convenience, to assist them as they traverse the various stations.

2. Reduction of Disposable Plates: Two of our busiest areas are the Deli and Grill Stations. We are currently in the process of identifying products which would allow us to wrap our sandwiches at both stations and an environmentally friendly “boat” for our French fries. These products should be in house by mid April and will replace the plates in these areas.

3. Reusable Plates and Flatware: We are also planning on providing a washable plate at all stations along with forks and knives. This will allow patrons two options, (A) reusable plates and cutlery for in house consumption and (B) Environmentally friendly disposable products for items they wish to leave with.

4. Beverages/Soup Station: We are also evaluating environmentally friendly disposable products to replace existing products at our soup and beverage stations"

What steps did you or your organization take this weekend to get greener?  Send them to us and we will publish.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Automakers Offering Bi-Fuel Pickups

From EcoGeek
Written by Philip Proefrockon  

Going forward, as you look at replacing/upgrading cars, keep in mind we have many alternatives on fuel that we can use, including bio-fuels and natural gas.  Here's a recent article from EcoGeek on this:

"Natural gas is going to be a fuel option available for some Chevrolet and GMC pickups beginning late this year. These will be bi-fuel vehicles, like the present flex-fuel vehicles (that can run on either gasoline or ethanol) but in this case, the fuel choices are gasoline and compressed natural gas (CNG). Chrysler has alsoannounced similar plans for its Ram pickup.

There are many utilities and service companies that have pilot fleets of CNG vehicles, and the Honda Civic Natural Gas was this named this past year's Green Car of the Year. But these are all dedicated CNG vehicles. The newly announced pickups will be able to run on either gasoline or CNG.

Economics is certainly a factor in this. The cost of CNG fuel is about one third less than an equivalent amount of gasoline. But the bi-fuel option is several thousand dollars of additional cost over the base vehicle. The numbers for these vehicles are rather meager, with GM planning to build 2,500 of these pickups in the fourth quarter and Chrysler planning to build 2,000 of its trucks this year.

Overall, it's only a small step, and not without its downside. While seeing new markets for cheap CNG will have some cheering the use of this cleaner burning fuel, there are also environmental consequences lurking at the corners of the gas fracking boom that make us think this is a mixed development at best.

However, wider adoption of natural gas vehicles could lead the way to wider distribution infrastructure. While the use of fossil natural gas is still problematic in terms of CO2 emissions, methane is fairly easy to synthesize compared to gasoline, and several solar and microbial fuel processes could potentially produce gas that could be used for more vehicles in the future."

Economics, of course, play a role in everything...a pivotal role. All of these vehicles need to find their niche market and capture sustained dollars from a segment of the consuming public.  They need to deliver good performance and value.

Those benchmarks will come before their environmental score card,  and will ultimate dictate their success or failure.

Don't forget to watch the show tomorrow. We will post an ad for it before then.