Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sun Goes Green

Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash has never been known for fashion, especially when it comes to his odd choices in haircuts. But the two-time NBA MVP is helping set a new standard in footwear with a small (environmental) footprint:
The environmentally conscious Phoenix Suns star unveiled his new Nike "Trash Talk" shoe at this weekend's all-star game, and it's made entirely of manufactured scraps.

"I think it's a great project," Nash said. "I think it's great for creating awareness, and whether this shoe goes a long way toward curbing global warming or not, it's the idea, it's a step in the right direction if you will, and I'm excited about that."
Unfortunately it doesn't look like the shoe is all that easy to buy, only available in a few Foot Locker locations.

As for Nash, his social conscience first made headlines in 2003, when he
opposed the Iraq War. The Steve Nash Foundation is definitely worth checking out, taking special interests in helping kids, promoting fitness, and preserving the environment.

UPDATE 11:36am - And I just saw this:

When he's not on the court trying to lead his team to the NBA championship, Phoenix Suns star Steve Nash will assist the state's largest electric utility in its efforts to make Arizona the solar energy capital of the world.

Arizona Public Service and Nash have entered into an agreement for the two-time league Most Valuable Player to promote the company's solar and renewable energy initiatives. Nash joins the APS team as it announced plans this week for the Solana Generating Station, which will generate enough clean, renewable energy for 70,000 customers. Expected to be operational in 2011, the plant will be built near Gila Bend, Ariz., about 70 miles southwest of Phoenix. If in service today, Solana would be the largest solar plant in the world.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What's More Important, Global Warming or Louis Farrakhan's Endorsement?

Yesterday I wrote on Raising Kaine:
Voters don't care about global warming, so the candidates don't talk about it, so it doesn't come up at the debates.

Right? That's what the Conventional Wisdom is in Washington. And of course, the Conventional Wisdom is never wrong.

But what if it actually works the other way around? Let's try the conventional wisdom backwards. The coal industry sponsors the debates, so global warming doesn't come up. The candidates don't get a chance to talk about it, so it's not on the minds of voters.

There have been five presidential debates on CNN this year, all sponsored by the coal industry. Total number of climate questions asked? Zero. And the Sunday morning talk show hosts aren't doing much better. Sounds like the coal industry is getting what it's paid for.

Will tonight's debate on MSNBC be any different? We'll see.

Did Tim Russert and Brian Williams ask about global warming? Or renewable energy? Or anything even vaguely related to the environment?

No, no, and no. But they were busy talking about other critical issues of national importance, like who Louis Farrakhan endorsed.

So it was up to the candidates to sneak in a few planks from their climate action platforms. From Hillary Clinton:
I helped to pass legislation to begin a training program for green collar jobs. I want to see people throughout Ohio being trained to do the work that will put solar panels on roofs, install wind turbines, do geothermal, take advantage of biofuels, and I know that if we had put $5 billion into the stimulus package to really invest in the training and the tax incentives that would have created those jobs as the Democrats wanted, as I originally proposed, we would be on the way to creating those.

You know, take a country like Germany. They made a big bet on solar power. They have a smaller economy and population than ours.

They've created several hundred thousand new jobs, and these are jobs that can't be outsourced. These are jobs that have to be done in Youngstown, in Dayton, in Cincinnati. These are jobs that we can create here with the right combination of tax incentives, training, and a commitment to following through.
And from Barack Obama:
We have to look at energy and the potential for creating green jobs that can not just save on our energy costs but, more importantly, can create jobs in building windmills that will produce manufacturing jobs here in Ohio, can put rural communities back on their feet by working on alternative fuels, making buildings more energy efficient. We can hire young people who are out of work and put them to work in the trade.
But hey, I shouldn't be too hard on the mainstream media. If they did their jobs and properly covered the environment, why would you need to read The Green Miles? So in that case, thank you, Tim Russert and Brian Williams, for refusing to talk about global warming!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Tale of Two States: Arizona's Solar vs. Virginia's Coal

Check out this huge new solar project just announced for Arizona:
Abengoa Solar, which has plants in Spain, northern Africa and other parts of the U.S., could begin construction as early as next year on the 280-megawatt plant in Gila Bend -- a small, dusty town 50 miles southeast of Phoenix. [...]

Arizona regulators are requiring utilities to get 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025, with annual increases of roughly 1 percent.
So if Arizona can become "the Persian Gulf of solar energy" as Gov. Janet Napolitano predicts, why can't Virginia do the same with its wind power potential? Because our elected officials have repeatedly rejected mandatory clean energy standards, so Virginia is losing out on our share of the clean energy boom - billions in investment and tens of thousands of jobs nationwide.

Instead, our governor and General Assembly are clinging to coal, trying to spend $1.8 billion on a coal-fired power plant in Wise County to bring 800 construction jobs and about 50 permanent full-time jobs. Meanwhile, the Arizona solar plant will not only cost about half as much, it'll create twice as many construction jobs and 85 full-time jobs.

Please tell Gov. Kaine right now that it's not too late to do the right thing.

Cross-posted from Raising Kaine

UPDATE: Where does this comparison stand in 2011?

Monday, February 25, 2008

When Is a Recycling Bin Not a Recycling Bin?

Last month I gave the Verizon Center credit for having at least a couple of recycling bins. Then the last time I was at a game, I saw this:

A recycling bin with the "recycling" sign pointed at the wall isn't a recycling bin. It's a trash can. Weak.

Friday, February 22, 2008

CNN: Global Warming "a Largely Unscientific Hoax"

The Green Miles' roommate, while liberal, tends not to be overtly political. He's a journalist, so he see things more in shades of gray than black and white. Also, he's not overtly anything. It's just not his style.

So when he burst into the living room in anger after he overheard Mary Matalin on CNN, she must have said something pretty outrageous:
BLITZER: (reading Matalin quote) "I don't think he [Sen. John McCain] rests comfortably anywhere that conservatives would call home today. If it was true yesterday, it's not true for tomorrow's issues. The ones that he has chosen to take a lead on are the ones that conservatives either don't prioritize or flat-out loathe."

MATALIN: Like --

BLITZER: Like what?

MATALIN: -- some global warming issues. But he's going --

BLITZER: They loathe that?

MATALIN: Because it's a largely unscientific hoax. And it's a political concoction.

BLITZER: But he believes with [Sen.] Joe Lieberman [I-CT] -- he's co-sponsoring legislation on that.

MATALIN: He's going to have to put together an energy policy that has elements of conservation but productivity, and reduces our dependence on oil. He has said that. Some of the other issues, though --

BLITZER: But on global warming he's a true believer.

he's not going to prioritize that, because that's not where the country is right now. And you haven't heard him prioritizing that.
"Unscientific hoax?!" my roommate shouted at the television. "Are you insane?!"

Media Matters details, it's not the first time a CNN analyst has asserted blatant falsehoods when it comes to global warming.

When it comes to the science of global warming, there is no debate about whether it's happening or whether our greenhouse gas emissions are to blame. There's debate about the degree to which we'll warm, how fast, and what we can do to cure the planet's fever.

There's confusion in the public's mind only because conservative pundits keep making stuff up about climate science and networks like CNN keep giving them free air time to do it. For the straight science, check out

As for whether McCain will "prioritize that," it's a bit of a puzzle. While he co-sponsored climate legislation with Sen. Joe Lieberman, he says he won't support the current version of the bill, the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, unless it includes more subsidies for nuclear power. If his ultimate goal is to cut carbon emissions, why is he prioritizing the nuclear industry over climate action? Odd.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pennsylvania Sportsmen Demand Congressional Action on Climate Change

The Green Miles was up in Harrisburg, PA yesterday for a news conference on the National Wildlife Federation's Sportsmen's Letter on Climate Change.

Note to self - don't sit in front row next time, giant head blocks view of podium.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Green Miles Tries Green Deodorant

Let me state something at the outset: This post will not get into the details of The Green Miles' bouquet, before or after this test. I'll stay vague. Promise.

I've always heard talk that modern antiperspirants and deodorants may not be good for you long-term. There's ongoing research into the potential effects of aluminum chloride, the main ingredient commonly used in antiperspirants. There are also questions about the effect of parabens, which are preservatives used in deodorants and antiperspirants.

I wondered if it would be possible to move away from aluminum-based antiperspirants without smelling like Kevin McHale at the end of the day. So I decided to compare three different offerings:
  • My usual Gillette, containing aluminum and various other scary-sounding stuff like "dimethicone"
  • A type of Degree deodorant, no aluminum but still chemical-based
  • Arm & Hammer's "Essentials," which contains no aluminum and no parabens, relying on baking soda and natural plant oils
The results? I definitely noticed neither the Degree nor the Arm & Hammer Essentials had the antiperspirant effect. And the Arm & Hammer deodorant effect only lasted about 10 hours before fading.

Would I get rid of the aluminum-based deodorant altogether? Without some better confirmation of its ill effects, no. I'm fine with the Degree and Arm & Hammer for my usual office setting, but I'd want to keep some of the aluminum-based stuff as needed. If I was going to be out and about on a muggy DC summer day with just the natural deodorant, things might get ugly.

For more recommendations on natural deodorants, check out

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Solar-Powered Beer: Greener Than Organic?

I stopped by the vaunted Wall of Beer at Westover Market over the weekend to stock up the fridge. One of the six-packs I grabbed was the Winter Solstice Ale from California's Anderson Valley Brewing.

It wasn't until I got it off the rack that I noticed a little sun on the cap reading "
Solar Powered Brewery":
(February 6, 2006 - Boonville CA) After a final inspection by PG&E, we were at last able to put the finishing touch on our $860,000 state-of-the-art photovoltaic project - Throwing the switch and making our own juice (the electric kind). Yep! We're finally up and running, and those 768 beautiful solar panels (almost 12,160 square feet of them) are creating enough juice to cut the brewery's entire electrical bill almost in half! Now whenever you savor a Boonville Beer, you can savor the fact that you're drinking a solar powered beer and helping protect the environment.
Treehugger said it best: "We don't need another reason to feel good while drinking beer, but we approve of this project nonetheless."

What's the most environmentally-friendly type of beer? Let's quickly review three basic categories:

  • Local -- Beer that didn't guzzle gas in a truck before it arrived in your 'hood so you could guzzle it out of your mug. Examples (for DC residents): Dominion (brewed in Ashburn, VA), Shenandoah (brewed in Alexandria, VA).

  • Low-Carbon -- Breweries that reduce their carbon footprints through steps like renewable energy and green buildings. Examples: Anderson Valley, New Belgium.

  • Organic -- Beer brewed with hops and malt grown without the use of chemicals or genetic modification. Examples: Wolaver, Peak.
So which is the best? I don't mean this to sound like a dodge (because, let's face it, it is), but if you're drinking a beer that fits into any of the three categories above, you're ahead of 99% of your fellow beer drinkers, minimizing the environmental impact of your night out. Have another one for me.

One last thing to keep in mind -- if you're out and about, draft beer is generally greener than bottled beer. While pint glasses and kegs get re-used, most bars and restaurants don't recycle bottles (or anything else, for that matter).

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Is It True What They Say About Green M&Ms?

For Valentine's Day, The Green Girlfriend got The Green Miles a bag of green M&Ms. The Green Miles did not get it.

I had no idea green M&Ms are allegedly an aphrodisiac. Apparently, I have been living under a rock. Or at least, just taking my candy at face value. Silly me., the best urban legends website around, explains:
Mars Company of Hackettstown, New Jersey (now M&M/MARS), has been producing M&M Chocolate Candies since 1941. (The peanut variety was introduced in 1954.) Various rumors have since been attached to different colors of the candy: the green ones are an aphrodisiac; if the last candy out of a bag is red, make a wish and it will come true; if the last candy out of a bag is yellow, you should call in sick and stay home; orange M&Ms are good luck, but brown ones are bad luck. M&M/MARS notes that all these rumors were developed by consumers, not the company.

The rumor that these green candies are an aphrodisiac apparently started or first gained prominence in the 1970s, when students reportedly picked the green ones out of packages to feed to the objects of their desires. (At that time, an average of 10% of plain M&Ms and 20% of peanut M&Ms were green.) Why the green M&Ms were attributed with this power is unknown — perhaps it was because the color green has always been associated with healing and fertility. (The company itself routinely states that they "cannot explain any extraordinary 'powers' attributed to [green M&Ms], either scientifically or medically.") The same "powers" have also been claimed of other candies, such as green jelly beans and gummi bears.
Is it true? I can't say yet. But I plan to test out this theory in what I'm calling the Best Science Experiment ever.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Why Biofuels? Because the Sun Can't Vote.

Politicians love them some biofuel. Helps farmers! Promotes energy independence! Cuts our greenhouse gas emissions!

Except the evidence is piling up that the last part just isn't true. In fact, most of today's generation of biofuels are actually increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Why? While biofuels emit less CO2 when they're burned, it's their production that's the problem:

Together the two studies offer sweeping conclusions: It does not matter if it is rain forest or scrubland that is cleared, the greenhouse gas contribution is significant. More important, they discovered that, taken globally, the production of almost all biofuels resulted, directly or indirectly, intentionally or not, in new lands being cleared, either for food or fuel.

“When you take this into account, most of the biofuel that people are using or planning to use would probably increase greenhouse gasses substantially,” said Timothy Searchinger, lead author of one of the studies and a researcher in environment and economics at Princeton University. “Previously there’s been an accounting error: land use change has been left out of prior analysis.”

These plant-based fuels were originally billed as better than fossil fuels because the carbon released when they were burned was balanced by the carbon absorbed when the plants grew. But even that equation proved overly simplistic because the process of turning plants into fuels causes its own emissions — for refining and transport, for example.

The clearance of grassland releases 93 times the amount of greenhouse gas that would be saved by the fuel made annually on that land, said Joseph Fargione, lead author of the second paper, and a scientist at the Nature Conservancy.
Why do we even need biofuels? Why can't we just focus on solar, wind and tidal power and make every car a plug-in hybrid, all using technology that's already available?

Oh, right. Politicians don't pander to the planet because the sun, wind and water can't vote. Farmers can. So we get policies that benefit farmers at the cost of the planet.

Sheraton Hotels Go Smokefree

Great news in the fight for clean air:
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Sheraton Hotels & Resorts and Four Points by Sheraton Hotel brands will ban smoking at more than 300 hotels and resorts throughout the U.S., Caribbean and Canada.

The new policy follows one implemented at Westin Hotels & Resorts, which became smoke-free in 2006. Westin and Sheraton are both owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

Some 8,000 rooms at the hotels will be cleaned, including treatments for air conditioning, walls, rugs, upholstery and hard surfaces.

Smoking will also be banned in public areas in the hotels but there will be a designated outdoor area at each property for guests who smoke.
Will Virginia legislators clear our state's air this year? They'll get another opportunity today.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sportsmen Target Global Warming

The Green Miles spent Tuesday on Capitol Hill, where the National Wildlife Federation released its Sportsmen's Letter asking Congress to confront climate change.

More than 670 groups signed on in all. Sportsmen from as far away as Alaska came to DC to join us for the letter release and to lobby their members of Congress to support climate action.

You can read all about it on Daily Kos!

¿Habla usted verde?

Because I know you were wondering:
Environment = Medio Ambiente

Global Warming = Calentamiento Global

Sunday, February 10, 2008

EnviroCAB Photo Contest: We Have a Winner!

Didn't take long to get a winner in The Green Miles' enviroCAB Photo Contest. From Steve over at CommuterPageBlog:
Here's my photo of the EnviroCab waiting at the taxi stand at East Falls Church:

Today I caught one at the Ballston Metro. Look on the CommuterPage blog for a posting about it in the next couple of days.
Steve wins a "Dominion: Global Warming Starts Here" bumper sticker. Congratulations!

If you want to call an enviroCAB, call
703-920-3333. To learn more about enviroCAB, you can check out their formal launch event on Monday:
enviroCAB, Nation’s First ‘Green’ Taxi Fleet, To Launch Service in Greater Washington, D.C. Area on Monday, February 11

Inspired by Arlington County’s Fresh AIRE Initiative, enviroCAB Offers Environmentally-Friendly Taxi Service That ‘Cleans The Air For the Same Fare’

WHO: enviroCAB founders, Hans Hess and Cord Thomas
Arlington County leaders, staff and citizens

WHAT: enviroCAB (, the nation’s first all-hybrid taxicab fleet is kicking off its operations in the greater Washington, DC. The fleet of hybrid Toyota Priuses, Camrys, Highlanders and Ford Escapes guarantees passengers environmentally-friendly taxicab service at no additional cost (standard taxicab fares apply).

WHEN: Monday, February 11, 2008, 10 a.m.

WHERE: Courthouse Plaza, 2100 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington, VA

WHY: enviroCAB is the first carbon-negative taxicab company in the world. Inspired by Arlington County’s Fresh AIRE initiative, enviroCAB is:

· the first taxicab company within the Washington, D.C., region to put a fleet on the roads comprised entirely of fuel-efficient, low-emission hybrid vehicles.

· the first taxicab company in the U.S. to completely offset its own emissions by purchasing “clean-source” offset credits.

· the world’s first carbon-negative taxicab service through additionally offsetting the emissions of 100 of the 655 non-hybrid taxis operating in Arlington,VA.
I can't make the event because I have to, like, go to work. Stupid career, always taking time away from my blog! If you go, email me and let me know how it went.

Friday, February 8, 2008

This is Awkward. Umm ... Your Roots are Showing.

Last Sunday, The Green Girlfriend and I headed down to Potomac Overlook Regional Park for a pre-Super Bowl hike. And yes, as a Patriots fan, the hike was definitely the highlight of the day. We got there early, which turned out to be a good idea -- while the air was warming up, the still-muddy trails were frozen, so no worries about slipping.

Donaldson Run was obviously still hurting from the record-breaking rain two days prior. New channels were carved down some hillsides and several trees along Donaldson Run, already in precarious positions, looked to be ready to tumble into the stream. The huge tree to the right is barely holding on at this point, leaning up against a smaller tree with more secure roots.

It's a problem that has already cost the county more than a million dollars to address upstream -- intense flows triggered by more runoff all the new pavement in nearby neighborhoods. Communities can help lower the damage by using permeable pavement, but here in America we tend to do things the cheapest possible way for that year's budget, so it's been slow to catch on.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Bush: Polar Bears Disappearing? Sell Their Homes to Big Oil!

Few species are as threatened by climate change as the polar bear:
Polar bears are considered marine mammals because they depend on sea ice for hunting seals, but they den on land. As sea ice has retreated, polar bears must swim farther and expend more energy to reach it.

A U.S. Geological Survey study issued this summer found that in the next 50 years, shrinking sea ice will leave only a small population of polar bears in the islands of the Canadian Arctic. Two-thirds of the world's polar bears, including those along the coasts of Alaska and Russia, are projected to disappear.
So when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was faced with a January 9th deadline to on whether to list polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, it took swift action, right?

Of course not. This is the Bush administration. That's not how they roll.

The Fish and Wildlife Service postponed the decision for a month -- in an amazing coincidence, just enough time for the Minerals Management Service to sneak in yesterday's oil and gas lease sale in prime polar bear habitat:
The Interior Department yesterday announced $2.6 billion in winning bids from companies seeking to drill for oil and gas in Alaska's Chukchi Sea despite protests from environmental groups and members of Congress that oil and gas exploration would endanger polar bears.

Companies made 667 bids for 448 tracts in the 29 million-acre area north of Point Barrow. The winning bids included a record-breaking $105.3 million offer by Shell Oil for one three-by-three-mile leasehold, almost twice as much as the previous high bid for a single offshore U.S. tract.
Now that those leases are all squared away, the Fish and Wildlife Service will likely make a decision on the polar bear in the next few days.

You can tell the Bush administration you're
outraged about the decision, but honestly, what good will it do? The Bush administration long ago decided to leave a legacy of using its public office to line the pockets of friends and thwart any efforts to hold it accountable, while passing problems like Iraq, the national debt, and climate change on to the next administration.

Tornadoes in February: Welcome to Your New Climate

Having grown up just down the street from Fenway Park as a diehard Boston Red Sox fan, The Green Miles can find a baseball metaphor for anything.

I compare the relationship between weather and climate to an individual baseball game and an the results of an entire season. If the Red Sox are playing the Tampa Bay Rays, even though the Red Sox are far superior in talent this year, the Red Sox only have about a 60% chance of winning any given game. But I can tell you with a great degree of certainty that the Red Sox will finish ahead of the Rays in the final standings. (Yes, they're now just the Rays, as in rays of sunshine, instead of the Devil Rays. And you thought they couldn't be any less compelling. Wrong!)

That's why I usually don't make a big deal out of individual weather events. Just because I saw
Bob Zupcic hit a game-tying grand slam once didn't mean I wanted him to be our starting right fielder for a full season, and just because it's cold one day in June doesn't mean global warming isn't happening.

But I can't let today slide. February tornadoes in the south kill 48? Severe thunderstorm warnings in DC? New record highs before 11am?

I just got this email from our office's facilities staff:
Please note that due to today's unusually warm temperatures outside that it will become quite warm inside by this afternoon. During the winter season we do not have a/c and rely on the outside air to cool the building. Currently it is 70 degrees outside and we are limited to that for cooling. Storms are predicted for this afternoon which will raise the internal humidity and make it feel warmer.
Are we going to have to start leaving the air conditioning on in the winter time?

Yes, global warming threatens polar bears and glaciers. But it's also about a second winter in a row with hardly any snow here in DC. No matter where you are, your climate is changing.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Tonight: Town Hall Meeting on Coal and Clean Energy

Just as Dominion starts some new shenanigans trying to keep Virginia hooked on coal, climate activists will gather in Alexandria tonight to talk about moving Virginia forward:
Join Congressman Jim Moran and Alexandria Vice Mayor Del Pepper on Tuesday, February 5th for a town hall meeting to discuss the antiquated use of coal in Virginia and our clean energy future. The event will focus on the connection between two coal-fired power plants in Virginia — the Mirant Plant in Alexandria and the proposed Dominion power plant in Wise County — and our connection to mountaintop removal coal mining.

There is a better way to provide Virginians with energy that doesn’t pollute our air and water, that doesn’t destroy our mountains, and that doesn’t contribute to global warming. Come to the town hall meeting to hear about the consequences of Virginia’s reliance on coal, our clean energy future, and how you can be part of the solution.

Hear experts, politicians and activists talk about Virginia coal and clean energy. The talk is to be directly followed by a question and answer session to let you speak your mind about coal, global warming, and renewable energy.

DATE: Tues., Feb. 5th, 7pm-9pm (tabling & schmoozing from 6:30pm-7pm)

LOCATION: Lyles Crouch Elementary School, 530 South Saint Asaph Street, Alexandria, VA

COST: Free!

Speakers Include:
* Alexandria Vice Mayor Del Pepper
* Rep. Jim Moran, 8th District of Virginia
* Kathy Selvage, Vice President, Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards
* Ana Prados, Sierra Club Mt. Vernon Group, Air Quality Issues Chair
* Rev. Dr. Janet Parker, Pastor, Parish Life Rock Spring

Event Sponsors:
The Chesapeake Climate Action Network, The Sierra Club, NOTICe, Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment, GWIPL, VIPL, PDA, Green Sanctuary Task Force of Mt. Vernon Unitarian Church, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology Environmental Impact Club
I have to get to the CRM Monthly Meetup in Shirlington tonight, but I'll be at this Town Hall Meeting for the schmoozing early on. Look for me in this t-shirt. Hope to see you there!

Monday, February 4, 2008

The High Economic Cost of Virginia's Clean Energy Inaction

Why does Virginia's inaction on clean energy get me so riled up? Because of articles like this detailing how in states with renewable portfolio standards the wind industry can't train new workers fast enough:
The American Wind Energy Association, a Washington, D.C-based trade group, estimates the industry employs about 20,000 people, not including those making turbines or other equipment. [...]

At Columbia Gorge Community College in The Dalles, Ore., seven wind companies are working with the school as academic advisers. Several of the companies are also supporting the college financially, including a three-year $150,000 grant from PPM Energy and donated equipment from Arlington, Va.-based wind developer AES Corp.

"They are all just crammed to the gills with students," said Jeremy Norton, operations, maintenance and training manager for PPM Energy.

So why is a company based in Virginia sending six figures in grant money all the way out to Oregon? Because Oregon has set a state renewable portfolio standard of 25% by 2025, establishing a guaranteed demand and providing investors with market certainty. Virginia currently only has a voluntary goal of 12% by 2022, established as part of last year's Dominion re-regulation legislation.

That's why it's so critical on Monday afternoon for the Virginia Senate's Commerce and Labor Committee to pass the Clean Energy Future Act (SB446), which would establish both a 20% RPS and funding for green collar job training. Please email your legislator right now to ask them to support the Clean Energy Future Act, especially if your senator is on the committee.

As for the coal industry, there's a need for new workers there, as well. Why? According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1,500 miners die each year from black lung disease.

Cross-posted from Raising Kaine

Saturday, February 2, 2008

FutureGen: The Bush Administration's Version of Morgan from "Good Will Hunting"

After five years of proclaiming its FutureGen demonstration plant in Illinois would show the world that "clean coal" wasn't just greenwashing, the Bush administration pulled a 180 this week and suddenly shelved the plans:
Deputy Energy Secretary Clay Sell said the administration was dropping the FutureGen Alliance project because costs for the planned 275-megawatt coal-fired plant had risen to $1.8 billion and because of advances in technology. Instead, the department said it would be willing to pay the cost of adding carbon capture and storage technology to new or existing coal plants bigger than 300 megawatts. Sell said that would lead to multiple projects and more sequestration. [...]

As recently as December, administration officials were calling it a "centerpiece" of their strategy for clean coal technologies.
Let me put this in bold letters: There is no such thing as clean coal. Virginia's proposed Wise County coal-fired power plant, with the latest emissions-reducing technology, would still emit more than 12,500 tons of pollution each year, including nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide, the latter a cause of serious breathing problems for people with respiratory illnesses. There is no method of affordable carbon capture and storage currently available. Even the energy industry admits affordable CCS is, at best, decades away.

But I gotta tell you, I did get a laugh out of the headline of the press release:

DOE Announces Restructured FutureGen Approach to Demonstrate Carbon Capture and Storage Technology at Multiple Clean Coal Plants

Covering up the fiasco by calling the plans "restructured" reminded me of the scene in Good Will Hunting where Casey Affleck's character explains how he got fired from a janitorial job:
MORGAN: Management was restructurin'.

BILLY: Yeah, restructurin' the amount of retahhds they had workin' for 'em.
Fortunately for us, the White House is due for a similar restructuring on January 20.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Have You Seen This Cab?

I heard the first enviroCABs have started hitting the streets of Arlington. Has anyone seen one yet?

The first person to email me a picture of an enviroCAB in action wins a "Dominion: Global Warming Starts Here" bumper sticker.