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How One State Cut its Carbon and Created Jobs

Last week I started as the new President of UCS, and this week I’m starting as our newest blogger. I couldn’t be more excited. I spent the last seven years as a public official in Massachusetts, including the last three as the commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. So it is only natural that my “inaugural” blog will focus on my experience in Massachusetts and, in particular, my state’s remarkable success in cutting carbon and growing a clean energy economy at the same time. Our track record in Massachusetts holds important lessons for the nation. Read More

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Half the Oil, Not Crude-by-Rail: Lynchburg Oil-Train Accident is Fifth in Ten Months

The CSX train carrying crude oil that derailed and burned in Lynchburg, Virginia on April 30 was the fifth major oil-train accident in the last ten months. At the same time that the world’s leading climate scientists are warning that we need to leave the vast majority of fossil fuels reserves in the ground, the shale oil boom has dramatically boosted shipments of crude oil by rail, most of it from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to faraway pipelines and refineries. While 9,500 tank cars of crude were carried by North American railways in 2008, that number jumped to nearly 234,000 in 2012 and an estimated 400,000 in 2013. This increase went relatively unnoticed until July of last year, when a catastrophic accident in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec killed more than forty people. Read More

Categories: Energy, Fossil Fuels, Vehicles  

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The National Climate Assessment and Opportunities to Cut U.S. Emissions

Today the U.S. Global Change Research Program released the third National Climate Assessment. While the report serves as a sobering stock-taking of how climate change is already affecting our lives and raising future risks, it is also an opportunity to point out that we still have choices in how we respond. Read More

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The Koch Brothers Can’t Switch Off Renewable Electricity

Despite relentless legislative attacks funded by the Koch Brothers and other fossil fuel special interest groups, state renewable electricity standards are holding their own and continue to drive investments in clean energy resources. And as long as legislators remain committed to well-informed policies that represent the will of the people instead of a few powerful special interests, renewable energy can continue to look forward to a bright future in the U.S. Read More

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How Much Could Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs) Lower the Cost of Renewable Energy Projects?

Allowing renewable energy technologies to be eligible for MLPs would expand the investor base and lower the cost of financing projects by 40 percent or more, according to a new analysis prepared for UCS by Meister Consulting, Inc. (see paper and presentation here).  Read More

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Michigan Needs a Stronger Renewable Energy Standard

Guest Bogger

Dr. John Patten
Professor and Chair, Department of Manufacturing Engineering, and Director, Manufacturing Research Center, Western Michigan University

Kalamazoo, MI

The idea of switching over to renewable energy really came together for me during the oil embargoes of the 1970s, while I was in college and working at General Motors. I could not get gas for my car and we could not get enough oil for lubricants, cutting fluids and hydraulics at work. These events put me on a 40-year career path working in clean energy, starting with studying solar energy at the University of Florida and Oakland University, to working as an energy engineer, and I’ve been practicing and implementing what I learned ever since. Read More

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Supreme Court Decision in Favor of the Cross State Air Pollution Rule Is a Major Win for Public Health

Today’s Supreme Court ruling reinstating limits on sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) from coal-fired power plants, as required by the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), is a significant victory for our public health. Read More

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Earth Day Ideas: Looking for Air Leaks in all the Right Places

Still looking for an impactful Earth Day activity? You could do a lot worse than enlisting the family to spend a few hours finding and sealing up air leaks in and around your home. While often considered a fall-time endeavor, air sealing now can make a discernible difference with the hot summer months right around the corner. It’s one of the quickest, easiest, and most cost-effective ways to lower your carbon emissions and get a little Cooler and Smarter in the process. Here’s the why and how. Read More

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Power Outages, Extreme Weather, and Climate Change: How Smart Energy Choices Will Help Keep the Lights On

Our nation’s aging electricity system is increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather events — including flooding, extreme heat, drought, and wildfires — which often cause power outages. Today UCS released a new report called Power Failure, which describes how extreme weather events are likely to increase in the future as global temperatures continue to rise, with major consequences for the electricity sector. Read More

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Which Costs More? Transmission Lines for 10x More Renewable Energy, or Pipelines for 2x More Natural Gas

Two recent reports make clear that long-distance gas pipeline infrastructure will cost more than the transmission investment needed for achieving 80% renewable electricity. The Keystone XL pipeline is just one new pipeline – let’s think about the energy system we are building. Read More

Categories: Energy, Fossil Fuels, Global Warming  

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