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OBAMA’S STIMULUS PACKAGE REWARDS LONG SUFFERING GREENS

Posted in Alternative Energy, Alternative Fuel Vehicles, Clean Energy, Eco -Chic, Global Warming, News Brief, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Energy, Sustainable Living, Will Wonders Never Cease Department on February 16th, 2009

PACKAGE CONTAINS OVER 60 BILLION IN DIRECT SPENDING ON GREEN INITIATIVES AND ANOTHER 20 BILLION EARMARKED FOR GREEN TAX INCENTIVES

The final stimulus package which President Obama is expected to sign into law today, President’s Day, contains many victories for environmentalists with over $6o billion in direct spending on green initiatives and another $20 billion earmarked for green tax incentives.

While this package is by no means a cure-all, it is a vital he first step into a new green age and is necessary to combat the ever-worsening effects of Global Warming.

That being said, here in no particular order is the breakdown:

$11 billion for the construction of an advanced Digital Smart Grid and $7.5 billion for renewable energy and transmission-line construction, which will enable the renewable energy to be moved from the rural areas that best lend themselves to wind, solar and thermal installations, to the cities where the power is needed;

$2.5 billion for energy efficiency and renewable-energy research;

$6.3 billion for local government energy-efficiency grants;

$400 million for the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Project Agency for Energy for the development of alternative energy sources;

$500 million for green jobs programs through the Workforce Investment Act;

$5 billion to weatherize old buildings;

$4.5 billion to boost the energy efficiency of federal buildings;

$2.25 billion for the HOME Investment Partners Program to fund energy-efficiency retrofits for low-income housing;

$5 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program to fund the retrofits of 1 million modest-income homes, saving the families living there an average $350 a year;

$6.3 billion to improve federally backed and public housing projects with new insulation, windows and furnaces. For every dollar spent, such programs are expected to produce about $3 in electricity savings. The legislation also provides tax breaks for higher-income households making similar improvements;

$1.2 billion to fund the Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental cleanup programs, including the long neglected Superfund;

$510 million for energy-efficiency retrofits for Native American housing programs;

$420 million for energy-efficiency improvements at the Department of Defense;

$300 million for Department of Defense research on energy efficiency at military installations;

$6 billion for cleaning up toxins on former military sites;

$6 billion for new loan guarantees for wind and solar;

The package also extends tax credits for wind-energy production for three years where previously they had to be renewed year to year. But more importantly, the legislation allows renewable-energy developers to get cash grants in exchange for the tax credits, which is crucial in light of the current economic downturn and the fact that many companies engaged in renewable-energy haven’t had the profits against which to take a tax credit;

Over $17 billion for public transportation;

$8.4 billion for transit capital assistance programs;

$9.3 billion for high-speed rail, intercity rail and Amtrak;

$27.5 billion for highways though some of that highway money could be redirected to fund public transit, if states and municipalities decide it should;

$300 million in grants and loans for technologies that reduce highly toxic diesel emissions;

$6 billion for improvements to drinking-water systems;

A tax credit of up to $7,500 for families that buy plug-in hybrids;

The new bill also allocates $300 million for a federal fleet of hybrid vehicles.

But perhaps the best of all is what was left out of the final draft of the stimulus package: the $50 billion in federal loan guarantees to the nuclear industry, as well as all money for coal and for the farce that is clean coal.

Denis

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NEWS WATCH! CALIFORNIA SAYS A BIG YES TO SOLAR ENERGY

Posted in Alternative Energy, Clean Energy, Eco -Chic, News Brief, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Living on August 15th, 2008

GOLDEN STATE WILL BUILD TWO SOLAR ARRAYS CAPABLE OF GENERATING AS MUCH ELECTRICITY AS A LARGE COAL-BURNING POWER PLANT OR A SMALL NUCLEAR PLANT

solarfarm2.jpegPlans have just been announced to build two solar power installations here in our home state of California, which during peak hours on a sunny day will generate more than 800 megawatts of power, or 12 times as much electricity as the largest solar farm does today.

The two solar farms, which will cover an estimated 12.5 square miles of San Luis Obispo County in Central California, are expected to generate enough electricity to supply 239,000 homes. Viewed another way, this is as much power as is generated by a large coal-burning plant or a small nuclear plant, without the obvious environmental devastation both of these energy sources creates.

Two California companies will split the task with Hayward, California-based OptiSolar Inc., building the larger of the two installations. Plans call for the privately held company’s Topaz Solar Farm to generate 550 MW of solar power when it is fully operational in 2013. The company plans to utilize amorphous silicon solar panels, which are less costly than the traditional silicon-based panels that dominate the market.

Joining OptiSolar Inc in the massive task is San Jose-based SunPower Inc., which will build a 250 MW solar ranch, also in Central California. SunPower’s silicon-based solar cells are among the most efficient in the industry at transforming sunlight into electricity. The latter project is expected to be fully operational in 2012.

Both deals, however, are contingent upon the extension of key federal tax credits the renewal of which is tied up in the congressional fight over offshore drilling.

Plans are for both companies to sell the electricity generated to Pacific Gas & Electric, to help the utility meet a state mandate that 20 percent of its electricity comes from renewable sources by 2010.

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NEWS WATCH! CLEAN GREEN RETRO MASS TRANSIT RE-EMERGES

Posted in Alternative Fuel Vehicles, Clean Energy, Conscious Actions, Eco -Chic, Global Warming, News Brief, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Transportation on August 15th, 2008

OVER 40 US CITIES CONSIDER RESTORING STREETCAR LINES AS SMOG -FREE MASS TRANSIT ALTERNATIVE.

seattle-streetcar-opening-d.jpgMost of us are too young to remember streetcars; those early twentieth century train/bus hybrid vehicles powered by overhead electric lines that ran on rails flush with the pavement, stopping frequently to pick up and disgorge passengers from entrance/exits on both sides.

Well it appears that this novel, fun means of early twentieth century transportation is just what the doctor ordered to help relieve deadlock in today’s overcrowded clean-energy conscious world.

Citing reasons including spurring economic development, easing traffic congestion and as a way to draw hip young professionals and empty-nest baby boomers back from the suburbs, over forty US cities are considering reactivating streetcars, which for the most part fell victim in the late 1940’s through mid 1950’s to aggressive automobile and oil industry lobbying.

More than a dozen US cities already have existing streetcar lines, including New Orleans, Portland, Seattle, Tacoma and San Francisco, while Denver, Houston, Cincinnati, Salt Lake City and Charlotte, N.C., either have already introduced, or are planning to introduce streetcars.

At a cost of about $3 million dollars per streetcar and an average capacity of 130 passengers per car, it seems that this is a bargain that cities can not afford to let pass them by, particularly with all of the uncertainty surrounding future fuel prices and the crap that our country has to put up with from oil producing nations.

Now if we could only get the electricity to power the streetcars from clean renewable sources, it would be a win-win for everyone.

- – Denis

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NEWS WATCH! RETAILERS LOVE AFFAIR WITH SOLAR POWER BLOSSOMS

Posted in Alternative Energy, Clean Energy, Cool Products, Corporate Responsibility, Eco -Chic on August 12th, 2008

WAL-MART STORES, KOHL’S, SAFEWAY AND WHOLE FOODS MARKET AMONG CHAINS RACING TO JUMP ON THE SOLAR BANDWAGON

a-wind-turbine.jpgSolar power is coming to the nation’s retail sector in a big way with Kohl’s stores announcing plans to add solar panels to 85 stores in addition to the 43 that already have them. Macy’s, similarly, plans to install the energy harvesting devices atop 40 more stores this year for a total of 58 stores where at least part of the energy used comes from the sun.

Also wading into the renewable energy fray is supermarket chain, Safeway, where plans call for installing panels atop 23 stores. These retailers are not alone in moving to solar energy. Other chains, including Whole Foods Market, BJ’s Wholesale Club, REI and Wal-Mart, are planning solar projects of their own.

While analysts, according to the New York Times, are not sure how much power the rooftop projects could ultimately produce, the initial estimate is that the solar panels will generate between 10 and 40 percent of the power a store needs, a significant reduction in energy demand in many communities where big box retailers use a disproportionate amount of the available energy.

Not surprisingly, most of the solar conversions to date are centered in California, New Jersey and Connecticut, states where generous incentives are offered for renewable energy projects.

For this phenomena to mainstream nationwide two things must happen. First, the federal government must reauthorize the renewable energy tax credit currently bogged down in the Congressional deadlock over offshore oil drilling and slated to expire at the end of this year. Second, the individual states need to come up with their own incentive plans the way California, New Jersey and Connecticut have.

Whether or not this will come to pass at anytime soon is unknown. What is known is that far too many states still have a vested interest in, and love affair with, coal, even though, we all know that it is among the dirtiest and most toxic of all the energy sources available.

But this is not a battle that can be won with logic. Nor is it one that can be won today. In the interim, the environmental movement should relish it’s victories – - and the move by the major retail players to embrace solar, for whatever their reasons – - is a major victory.

And while the temptation is there to force the issue of incentive plans on a state by state basis, it is not the best use of the green movements time or limited financial resources. Better to leave this battle to the Wal-Marts and Macy’s of the world, as they are better suited to the challenge.

Just know, that when these retailers see the savings that renewable energy will eventually bring to their bottom line, they will lead the fight for local incentives in a manner that the environmental movement could only dream of.

In the meantime, let’s just hope that this mainstream acceptance of solar will one day soon broaden to include wind power as well. There are currently on the market, numerous low profile wind turbines (such as the one featured in the image above) manufactured with city dwellers in mind that offer the benefits of this clean renewable energy source without the drawback of those ugly fifty feet tall spinning propeller turbines.

Perhaps by combining both sources of renewable energy, the day will come when these retail giants will be entirely off the grid, which would eliminate much of the CO2 currently discharged into our atmosphere.

One can only hope.

- – Denis

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NEWS WATCH! WHOLE FOODS MARKET REFOCUSES – - STRESSES VALUE

Posted in Cool Products, Corporate Responsibility, Eco -Chic, Ethical Business, Healthy Food, News Brief, Sustainable Food on August 3rd, 2008

COMPANY MAKING “A STRONG EFFORT” TO CHALLENGE ITS COMPETITORS ON PRICE

wholefoodsa1.jpegThe sketchy economy, high cost of fuel and skittish job market are taking their toll on Whole Foods Markets, as once loyal customers look elsewhere in search of deep discounts on necessary food and household items.

To combat the losses, the extent of which are unclear, Whole Foods has announced a line of lower-priced generic products, a staple of traditional supermarkets, together with deep discounts on many existing items. The goal here is to make the chain synonymous with value, a tough task after years of being known for upscale gourmet items.

Only time will tell how this works out. Hopefully company management finds a way to serve both masters effectively without destroying what it is that makes the Whole Foods experience special.

Read On

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COMMENTARY: GREEN ENERGY’S LATEST FAIR WEATHER FRIEND

Posted in Alternative Energy, Clean Energy, Eco -Chic, Global Warming, News Brief on July 24th, 2008

OILMAN, T. BOONE PICKENS, ISSUES TEN YEAR PLAN TO PROMOTE WIND ENERGY AND REDUCE AMERICA’S DEPENDENCE ON FOREIGN OIL.

180px-turbine_aalborg.jpgLifelong oilman and deep pockets Republican money guy, T. Boone Pickens, has a new Beltway posse, and for once, there is hardly a Republican in sight.

To better understand the strange turn of events which has made Pickens a pariah among his one-time friends, one needs only to look at the Texas entrepreneur’s latest business venture promoting wind energy as a replacement for oil, and his controversial plans to build sufficient wind turbines throughout the country so that we will be able to draw as much as 20% of our power needs from wind by 2018. According to Pickens, reaching this goal would have the added benefit of reducing our dependence on foreign oil by at least a third in the same time frame.

To promote his plan, the outspoken Texas oil billionaire has launched a 58 million dollar, self-funded television and radio advertising campaign, the goal of which is to make Americans aware that not only is our energy situation critical, but contrary to Bush Administration and oil industry assurances, this is “one crisis that we cannot drill our way out of”.

It is this statement more than anything else that has caused Pickens’s the most grief from onetime friends and allies in big oil and on the political right. Of course, intelligent people can make the case that Pickens is better off without this bunch, as we all would be, for that matter.

Speaking of that which would make America better, seeing Pickens’s old friends being forced to “perp walk” for their part in the trashing of the American dream would definitely bring a smile to my face. Though the the pragmatist in me is forced to acknowledge that it is unlikely that the Democrats currently serving in Congress have what it takes to make this, or anything else relevant happen. This saddens me to no end, as so much about our country does these days.


BEWARE OF THE OILMAN BEARING GIFTS

One needs to remember that T. Pickens is an oil man used to buying and selling politicians and everything else in pursuit of the golden ring. In other words, beware of the billionaire bearing gifts. He is not your friend and will only appear to be so as long as you are doing his bidding.

In their rush to embrace Pickens, I can only hope that Democrats stand back for a moment and remember that the very same guy who is their hero of the moment, – Mr. Wind Energy – was the cash behind 2004’s infamous Swift Boat attack ads that attempted – with a certain degree of success – to destroy the hero status and character of Democratic Presidential Candidate, John Kerry, by lying over and over again about Kerry’s war record, sometimes going so far as to label the Vietnam war hero a coward and to insist that he fraudulently received his battlefield medals.

Much as he did at the time of the Swift Boat incident, Pickens claims his motives for promoting wind energy “are patriotic”, telling Vimal Patel of the Los Angeles Times that “I only have one enemy, and that’s foreign oil, I’m first an American, and second an oilman.”

I am sure that the people who authorized the internment of Japanese American citizens in the California desert during World War II had similar opinions about themselves.

- Denis


Read More about T. Boone Pickens’s, Pickens Plan

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NEWS WATCH! LA METRO AREA EMITS LESS CARBON PER CAPITA THAN ANY BIG CITY EXCEPT HONOLULU

Posted in Clean Energy, Conscious Actions, Eco -Chic, Health Watch, News Brief on May 31st, 2008

UNFORTUNATELY, THESE NUMBERS DO NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THAT MUCH OF LA’S ELECTRICITY IS FROM COAL-FIRED PLANTS

hollywoodsign_1.jpgThe good news is that the Los Angeles metropolitan area emits less planet-warming carbon per capita than any big city except Honolulu. This is according to a new study from the Brookings Institution, a prestigious Beltway think tank.

Per the Booking’s people, Los Angeles is “greener than New York”, with its network of ecowise subways; “more virtuous than Portland, Ore., with its smartgrowth greenbelt”, and, yes, even better than San Francisco, “its eco-vain rival.”

Balancing all of this good news is the little fact that LA draws most of it’s electricity from horribly polluting coal-fired power plants, which essentially zero out all of the good that it’s citizens do conserving energy and reducing their carbon footprint.

But what do you expect, it is a Beltway study, after all, and we all know how horribly skewed those things can be.

To all of my California neighbors, forget Washington’s numbers and continue to do the work to make this place the stunning jewel of a city that it once was and always should be.

-LIB

Continue Reading…

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NEWS WATCH! RENAULT – NISSAN TO INVEST OVER HALF BIL. IN SWAPPABLE-BATTERY ELECTRIC CARS

Posted in Alternative Energy, Alternative Fuel Vehicles, Clean Energy, Eco -Chic, News Brief on May 13th, 2008

PARTNERS WITH ISRAELI-BACKED ELECTRIC CAR PROJECT

2007-09-19-national_debt.jpgThe head of an Israeli-backed electric car project estimated on Sunday that its partner, the Renault-Nissan alliance, would likely invest $500 million to $1 billion in the swappable-battery electric cars.

“This is the cost for a three-year car program,” Shai Agassi, the founder and chief executive of California-based Project Better Place, said on the sidelines of a news conference to introduce the electric car prototype.

Renault and Nissan signed a deal with Better Place in January to begin mass producing electric cars as a part of a project to develop alternative energy sources and slash oil dependency.

Better Place will build the first electric grids in Israel and Denmark, with initial deployment slated for 2010.

Denmark’s DONG Energy recently signed a letter of intent with Better Place to introduce the electric cars to the Scandinavian country, where the batteries will be charged using wind power.

DONG Energy is the world’s largest offshore wind power operator, with several wind farms in Denmark and Britain.

CONTINUE READING

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NEWS WATCH! HOUSE MEMBERS FORCED TO GIVE UP GAS GUZZLERS

Posted in Clean Energy, Eco -Chic, News Brief on May 1st, 2008

LAST YEAR’S ENERGY BILL REQUIRES HOUSE MEMBERS WITH TAXPAYER LEASED VEHICLES TO DRIVE LOW GREENHOUSE GAS CARS

altfuelcars.jpg

The requirement was sought by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (D-Mo.), who figured that if his colleagues were serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and U.S. dependence on foreign oil, they ought to put their foot where their mouth is.

Cleaver does. His taxpayer-funded Ford Econoline, a recycled airport shuttle he uses as a mobile office, runs on cooking grease. But he’s heard grumbling from colleagues.

“They want their Lexuses and their Cadillacs,” he said. “I just think it’s a poor example for us to spend so much time talking about energy independence and global warming and presenting to the people an image of fat cats living the fat life.”

Twenty-one of California’s 53 House members lease vehicles, among them Reps. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles) and Laura Richardson (D-Long Beach ), who get around in Lincoln Town Cars, and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles), who uses a Prius.

CONTINUE READING

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QUERY! WHY ISN’T EVERY DAY EARTH DAY?

Posted in Conscious Media, Eco -Chic on April 22nd, 2008

WILL THIS BE THE YEAR THAT WHAT IS GOOD FOR THE EARTH BECOMES THE PRIORITY OF ALL OF THE EARTH’S PEOPLE?

globetemperature2033.jpgWith her recent ascension to the throne atop LA’s City Beat newspaper, regular friend of this site and our sister site, The Recovering Liberal, , Rebecca Schoenkopf, better known to fan and foe as “Commie Girl” has put together a fantastic, fitting earth day issue, the lead story of which I have linked to below.

Written by investigative journalist, Jim Washburn, formerly of the award winning Orange County Weekly, as was Ms. Schoenkopf, this posting says neatly and concisely much of what I would be touching on today, if this was not also my birthday and I didn’t have other plans. But rest assured, with Jim and Rebecca, you are in good hands.

See you all tomorrow.

-LIB

HEADIN’ FOR THE TAR PITS, ONE AND ALL
by Jim Washburn,
LA City Beat

“Mother Earth is pregnant for the third time …”
– Come on, you know the words, intone along –
“… for y’all have knocked her up,
I have tasted the maggots in the mind of the universe,
I was not offended,
For I knew I had to rise above it all,
Or drown in my own shit.”

That’s the intro to “Maggot Brain” by Funkadelic, in case you were absent when American History stopped dead as 10 minutes of Negro fuzztone lamentation washed over it in 1971. “What the truckful of fuck was that?” you might have asked then, for this was not progressive supergroup fuzz guitar; it was a raw cry, Funkadelic guitarist Eddie Hazel operating under first-take instructions from George Clinton to play as if he’d just heard his mother had died. Clinton didn’t tell him it was Mother Earth. That’s where that was coming from.

CONTINUE READING:

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