Thursday, June 30, 2011
New Jersey has become the first state to pass a bill to ban the hydraulic fracturing method. Otherwise called fracking, the highly destructive technique is used to extract natural gas from rock formations called shales. Gas companies have been accused of contaminating the water supply with the use of toxic chemicals.
All the legislation needs now is the signature of Governor Chris Christie to become law. The vote in the state senate was 31-1 and the assembly was 56-11.
State senator Bob Gordon (D-Bergen) said New Jersey has now "sent a strong message to surrounding states and to the nation that a ban on fracking is necessary to protect public health."
"Any benefits of gas production simply do not justify the many potential dangers associated with fracking such as pollution to our lakes, streams and drinking water supplies, and the release of airborne pollutants. We should not wait until our natural resources are destroyed to act."
Posted by Josh Marks at 12:38 PM
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Leave it to the Europeans to thoroughly document a glorious chapter in American history -- the comprehensive energy policy of the Carter Administration and the decision in 1979 to install solar panels on the roof of the White House.
In "A Road Not Taken," Swiss filmmakers Christina Hemauer and Roman Keller, working on a next-to-nothing budget, take their camera from Maine to D.C. to Atlanta to explain the history of the installation and sadly the later removal of the solar panels by Ronald Reagan.
While President Obama has yet to install solar panels on the roof of the White House again as he promised, the film does end somewhat happily as they deliver one of the original solar panels, which had been stored at Unity College in Maine, to the American History Museum in Washington for permanent storage as an important artifact of American history.
Here is the trailer:
Posted by Josh Marks at 8:21 AM
Monday, June 27, 2011
Director Chris Paine's highly anticipated follow up to "Who Killed the Electric Car?" screened at the AFI Silver Theatre in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland last Saturday night as part of the SilverDocs Documentary Festival.
Audiences were treated to a sneak preview of "Revenge of the Electric Car," which will be released nationwide this fall, and a Q&A with Paine following the screening. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive. As the credits rolled at the end of the movie there were two rounds of enthusiastic applause.
But will the film, and for that matter, electric cars, achieve mainstream success this time around?
Perhaps Gadget put it best. He was featured in the film and runs an independent electric car conversion company called Left Coast Electric in Los Angeles, California. His trials and tribulations were poignantly documented as he had to rebuild his business after a fire destroyed his workshop.
Gadget flew to D.C. from L.A. to participate in the Q&A and had the following sage words to those of us who are anxiously hoping the electric car succeeds this time around in replacing gas-powered cars.
"You can be a car enthusiast and love electric cars. There's nothing wrong with that," said Gadget.
Paine added later in the conversation that the real reason the oil companies want to kill the electric car is because once someone test drives one they never want to go back to an internal combustion engine ever again. Personally I can attest to that having test driven an electric vehicle recently. They are pure joy to drive.
In the film, Paine gains unprecedented access to former GM Chief Bob Lutz, who underwent a heartfelt conversion to electric cars after resisting them for years. The camera follows him around as he helps guide the development of the Chevy Volt -- GM's new electric car with a gas-powered generator to overcome range anxiety.
The film also follows Tesla CEO Elon Musk as he brings the Silicon Valley electric car maker back from the brink of failure following the 2008 economic collapse. Also profiled is Nissan Chief Carlos Ghosn and his ambitious plans to put everything on the line with the Nissan LEAF -- a zero emissions, 100% electric vehicle that gets 100 miles to a charge.
Will the electric car get its revenge? Will there be a million EVs zipping around America and a million charging stations to juice up at by 2015? The story is still being written. For the sake of humanity and the planet I hope it is a happy ending.
Here is the film trailer:
Posted by Josh Marks at 8:33 AM
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
The White House missed their rooftop solar panel installation deadline, but the Department of Energy is more than making up for this disappointment with today's announcement of the largest solar rooftop project in the history of the United States.
The $1.4 billion loan guarantee to Project Amp will go towards installing solar panels on industrial buildings nationwide. According to the DOE press release, the project will pump 733 megawatts of solar energy into the electricity grid and create at least one thousand jobs over a four year period.
“This unprecedented solar project will not only produce clean, renewable energy to power the grid in states across the country, but it will help us meet the SunShot goal of achieving cost competitive solar power with other forms of energy by the end of the decade,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “In addition, Project Amp will create at least a thousand jobs across the U.S. and increase our global competitiveness in the clean energy race.”
Posted by Josh Marks at 11:31 AM
Monday, June 20, 2011
Last October, President Obama made a pledge to install solar panels on the White House roof by the end of spring. Well, the last day of spring was yesterday and the sun is still not providing clean, renewable energy to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
President Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu are testing the patience of the American people. The public overwhelmingly supports clean, renewable energy and there is no more potent symbol of our transition off dirty fossil fuels and into a bright clean energy future than installing solar panels and a solar water heater on the roof of the White House.
Why the foot dragging?
President Obama is ignoring the will of the American people at his own peril. If he doesn't invest more in the jobs of the future -- solar, wind, geothermal, biofuels, hydro -- then he will pay at the polls in 2012.
Millions of Americans were hoping to see solar panels on the roof of the White House this past spring. That pledge has been broken, so this summer will have to do.
Posted by Josh Marks at 2:52 PM
Thursday, June 9, 2011
It was only a matter of time before people started realizing geothermal energy is not just some cute geyser spouting heaps of water and steam from the earth at Yellowstone National Park. In reality, geothermal energy has the ability to provide a steady source of clean energy to America for the next 30,000 years. According to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the amount of geothermal energy available to us is "effectively unlimited."
That's why the Department of Energy announced this week a $350 million loan guarantee to fund a geothermal project in Nevada that will help Ormat Technologies build three power plants totaling 121 MW. DOE also announced $70 million to support technologies that speed up geothermal energy generation across the United States.
Exciting times for geothermal energy, which along with algae fuel, is the most promising clean energy source to eventually replace coal, oil and gas.
Posted by Josh Marks at 4:27 PM
Friday, June 3, 2011
|This is the real choice we have that the oil, natural gas and coal companies don't want the American people to know about -- wind turbines creating jobs and providing our energy needs like this Google rendering of the Coal River Wind Project.|
"The Last Mountain," which had its D.C. premiere tonight at the Landmark E Street Cinema, exposes the lie that the coal industry helps the economy. In fact, quite the opposite. Not only is Appalachian coal the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and bears responsibility for poisoning the water and air and making the community sick by blowing up mountains, but companies like Massey Energy have a track record of union busting and mechanizing labor, thereby laying off workers while record profits go into the pockets of top executives.
But as environmental crusader Robert Kennedy Jr. so eloquently points out in the film, it is not a false choice between creating dirty energy jobs or protecting the environment. To the contrary, clean energy can create just as many jobs as the fossil fuel industry, but clean energy jobs are more sustainable and don't damage the environment for future generations. The film takes a look at how one West Virginia community is fighting the Mountain Top Removal of the Coal River Valley. Instead of blowing it up, these forward-thinking residents want to preserve their mountain by installing wind turbines on top of it. The area they live in is considered a Category 5 for wind, which is the best it can be.
Will they succeed in saving the mountain and their quality of life by moving forward with wind power, or will Big Coal destroy their mountain and endanger the public health of the community?
You will have to see the movie to find out.
Here is a trailer for the film. The people in this film will inspire you. They are fighting for their very lives against Big Coal, and at the same time are fighting the bigger fight for all of us. A world with clean, renewable power; clean air; clean water; good jobs for the American people; a brighter future for generations to come.
Posted by Josh Marks at 11:20 PM