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King Coal’s Stages of Grief, Part 1: Facing the Facts

Coming from a coal mining family, I’m well aware of the seemingly vast coal resource underground and how extracting that resource has helped boost local economies, including the one where I grew up. As the reality of climate change sets in, however, and the impacts of burning fossil fuels become all too real, it’s clear that the status quo is not sustainable. Looking at the recent incredible growth in wind and solar, the boom in shale gas from fracking, and headline after headline full of bad news for the coal industry, I began wondering, How does it feel to be a coal miner right now? And more importantly, how do we ensure the future is hopeful for them as well? It’s a deeply personal question to me. Read More

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Look Ahead Minnesota: There’s Reason for Optimism about Your Clean Energy Future

Minnesota’s legislature might have missed an opportunity to advance the state’s clean energy future during this year’s session, but with Governor Dayton’s support for clean energy and leadership from state agencies, there’s still plenty to be optimistic about. Read More

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Summer, Solar, and an Iceberg of Excuses: Why I Don’t Have Rooftop Solar (and Why I’m Wrong)

I’ve got a confession to make: For all the talking I do about solar and the solar revolution underway, I haven’t thrown my hat in the solar ring. An iceberg-sized collection of excuses stands between me and Solardom, and my homeowner-ship is hesitant to steam past them. But here’s why my excuses might just be hogwash, and how that iceberg might just melt away under the summer sun. Read More

Categories: Energy  

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The Pope Is an Energy Wonk. Engineers Agree with His Assessment.

From the Papal encyclical: “In some places, cooperatives are being developed to exploit renewable sources of energy which ensure local self-sufficiency and even the sale of surplus energy. This simple example shows that, while the existing world order proves powerless to assume its responsibilities, local individuals and groups can make a real difference.” Read More

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UCS Goes Fossil Free

When you work for the Union of Concerned Scientists, you learn quickly that we walk the walk when it comes to caring for the environment. Our offices are all energy efficient. We not only recycle our paper products but compost our leftovers at lunch. And every month feels like “Bike to Work Month.” Above all, we believe it’s important to follow our own advice.

So in 2013, when our Board of Directors realized that our investment portfolio included some holdings in fossil fuel companies, we knew we had to act. Read More

Categories: Energy, Fossil Fuels, Global Warming  

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Missouri and the Clean Power Plan: Comprehensive State Energy Plan Should Support Compliance

Like many U.S. states, Missouri is on the cusp of an energy transformation. Missouri has been long dependent on electricity generated predominantly from coal-fired power plants, but a suite of market and political factors are slowly beginning to shift the Show-Me state toward cleaner, lower carbon energy sources. Read More

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New Flawed Study of the Clean Power Plan: How the MISI Study Gets It So Wrong

An op-ed in yesterday’s Investor’s Business Daily uses a new study to make unsubstantiated claims about the economic impacts of the proposed Clean Power Plan on vulnerable communities. Since the op-ed didn’t provide a link to the actual analysis, we hunted it down and took a look behind the headlines. And when we did, we found that the foundations of this new “analysis” are shaky indeed. Read More

Categories: Energy, Global Warming  

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Remembering Jay Fay

In my first year at UCS, I learned that several extraordinary individuals have left unmistakable and enduring marks on this organization. James “Jay” Fay, a long-time member of the UCS Board of Directors, was one of them. He died last week at age 91. Read More

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Is Fracking Safe Now? What the EPA’s Fracking and Drinking Water Study Really Says

Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its long-awaited (and heavily scrutinized) report on drinking water impacts from hydraulic fracturing. The report has made headlines, but anyone following the science around fracking impacts shouldn’t be surprised by the results—that hydraulic fracturing has had adverse effects on drinking water sources in several cases, and that risk for future contamination of drinking water exists through several pathways.  Yet, yesterday’s headlines read very differently. Read More

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EIA Analysis Shows the EPA’s Clean Power Plan Is Affordable, Renewable Energy Makes a Key Contribution

A new Energy Information Administration (EIA) analysis shows that renewable energy sources make the biggest contribution to achieving the EPA’s proposed emission reduction targets for existing power plants across a wide range of scenarios, while avoiding an overreliance on natural gas. Despite using pessimistic and outdated assumptions for energy efficiency and many renewables, EIA’s analysis also shows that the EPA’s emission reduction targets can be achieved at modest costs. Updating these assumptions and accounting for the public health and environment benefits of reducing carbon and other emissions would result in net savings and support even stronger emission reduction targets. Read More

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