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Steering Toward Sustainability: How California’s New Groundwater Law Can Help Us From Driving Off a Cliff

According to new research by NASA, many of the world’s biggest aquifers are being depleted at a much faster rate than they can be replenished, and California’s Central Valley is among the worst. As we all know, California is in the fourth year of an exceptional drought. When surface water supplies are scarce, we turn to groundwater. Unfortunately, our combined groundwater uses have led to chronic overdraft in many places. Like a bank account, overdraft means we are withdrawing more than we are replacing. Together, this exceptional drought along with the undesirable condition of many groundwater basins, led California to pass the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act last year. The Act is a big deal since it represents the first statewide effort to comprehensively measure and manage groundwater.

Now that the dust is settling, water users and managers are wondering: what does the Act mean for us? Read More

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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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Bad Policies Should Not Get a Free “Ride” on Spending Bills

I try hard not to be cynical about Congress. I believe that in the House and Senate, many men and women of good will and their staffs work hard to advance policies that they believe will benefit the people they represent. Our elected representatives may disagree about what the best solutions are. But they are motivated by the desire to do good, not ill.

That sentiment is being tested as the House and Senate vote on a series of spending bills to pay for government agencies and other expenses in the coming fiscal year. 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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Big Rigs, Big Benefits; How Strong Rules Will Clean Up the Road

Tractor trailers go about six miles on a gallon of diesel, a number that has barely budged since the 1970’s. This shocked me the first time I heard it, and I imagine that many of you have the same reaction. After all, so many other products—passenger cars, light bulbs, refrigerators—are so much more efficient now, why not trucks? The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Read More

Categories: Global Warming, Vehicles  

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What Does the Pope’s Climate Encyclical Mean?

Pope Francis released his much-anticipated encyclical on humans’ stewardship of our planet earlier today. While my colleagues and I spend most of our time talking about science and policy, the pope’s message has given us an opportunity to reflect on our own moral reasoning around climate and energy issues as well as the intersection of faith and science.

Update, June 23: My colleague Mike Jacobs, a senior energy analyst, added his thoughts in a separate post about Pope Francis’s plug for electric co-cops and other clean energy issues in the encyclical. 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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Was There No Global Warming Slowdown? A New Paper Challenges the Theory

NOAA scientists released a study last week in Science magazine detailing how new updates on observations show there has been no global warming slowdown.

In science we are always looking for more data to validate results. It is a bit like being a detective: the more information you have, the better the case. For global warming it is meteorological stations overland and buoys and ship data over the ocean. 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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