September 19, 2011
More than two weeks after closing its doors, the solar firm Solyndra continues to be a major story in clean energy news. Solyndra was given a $535 million dollar loan from the U.S. government that has come under question in recent days. As this development is investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI) and Congress, it has been noted by some that in order for the United States to have a globally competitive industry, our government must continue to support innovative new technologies from American companies in America. Also amplified is the concern that this investigation into Solyndra will inhibit our long-term energy future. We must ensure that this investigation does not slow our move to lower-carbon energy investments. For more information about the Solyndra story and support for the solar industry click here.
Amidst the Solyndra debate, solar supporters welcomed some encouraging news on Thursday. The average cost of going solar in the U.S. decreased significantly in 2010 and through the first half of 2011, according to a report released by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Solar advocates applauded the “Tracking the Sun IV” report as the latest indicator that solar is ready to power America’s new energy economy. Key findings included that the average pre-incentive cost of residential and commercial solar PV systems decreased 17 percent in 2010 and another 11 percent in the first half of 2011. Reductions in the costs of installation labor, balance of systems, overhead, and other non-module costs fell 18 percent from 2009 to 2010. The report also found that U.S. solar incentives are delivering an increasing return on investment. “The impressive cost reductions highlighted in this report did not happen by accident. It took business innovation and market-building policies at all levels of government to achieve the necessary economies of scale. There has never been a better time for customers or utilities to harness the sun for power. It’s time to double down on our nation’s investment in this job-creating, homegrown energy resource,” said Adam Browning, Executive Director of the Vote Solar Initiative.
As we reported a few weeks ago, House Majority Leader Cantor (R-VA) released a Pollution Agenda for the fall. His plan won’t help the economy, but will cost tens of thousands of lives. The vast majority of rollbacks discussed in Cantor’s memo would block or gut public health safeguards, leading to more harmful pollution that causes asthma, heart attacks, and even death. Since the beginning of the current Congress in January, the House of Representatives has passed 125 bills that undermine environmental protection. Representative Henry A. Waxman, Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, unveiled a new searchable database of anti-environment votes by the 112th Congress. The database details the 125 anti-environmental votes taken to date. This week the House is expected to vote on the TRAIN act, a bill that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from going forward with Mercury and Air Toxics standards for power plants and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. The EPA estimates that these two standards will have a net impact of creating over 9,000 jobs, with health benefits that will save Americans hundreds of billions of dollars each year once fully implemented. For more information on the TRAIN act and other dirty air initiatives please see our weekly Clean Air Act Digest.
In other Clean Air Act news, the EPA has been taking reasonable steps to reduce dangerous carbon pollution from new or expanded power plants and oil refineries by issuing New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) which will require these industries to take available and affordable steps to minimize their emissions. The proposed standards were slated to be released September 30th and issued in final form by May 26, 2012. Unfortunately, administrator Lisa Jackson has announced that they will not meet the end of the month deadline. The EPA has not yet laid out a new deadline but we will keep you posted.
Also last week the Climate Reality Project aired its “24 Hours of Reality.” The live broadcasts began in Mexico City and proceeded westward around the globe, with around-the-clock snapshots of the global climate crisis. People living with the impacts of climate change every day told their story as presenters from the Climate Reality Project connected the dots between our changing climate and extreme weather events. The final presentation, hosted by former Vice President Al Gore, in New York City ended successfully with 8.6 million total views for the 24-hour live streaming event. If you missed the presentations you can check out Climate Reality Project’s comprehensive video library to watch highlights from each time zone.
This fall promises to be an active one as another global event, Moving Planet, is gearing up to get started in just a few days. Moving Planet is a worldwide rally to demand solutions to the climate crisis. This global day of action’s goal is to get the globe moving beyond fossil fuels—both symbolically by pouring into the streets in the thousands on foot, bicycle, and other means of sustainable movement, and politically by bringing powerful demands to leaders September 24th to move beyond fossil fuels to a 350ppm world. More information can be found in the action alert below.
Written by Marie Risalvato, Communications Coordinator
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