1. Coastal community members travel to D.C.
On October 21st and 22nd, SACE staff led a diverse coalition of clean energy business owners, decision makers, faith leaders and academics from coastal North Carolina and Florida to our nation’s capitol to carry a message of urgency to act on climate change. These community leaders visited with Senators Hagan, Burr, LeMieux, Nelson as well as Congressional Representatives from Florida and North Carolina’s vulnerable coastal communities.
While the economic, environmental and moral imperatives of addressing global warming delivered by our coalition were well received by Congressional offices, no commitments of support were made for clean energy and climate legislation currently making its way through various Senate committees.
The participants who joined SACE in D.C. represent a much larger groundswell of citizens and community leaders throughout the Southeast who are demanding action from our federal elected officials to protect coastal communities from the perils of global warming. Each office we visited received a copy of a letter signed by more than 100 coastal businesses, citizens and organizations involved in the Southeast Coastal Climate Network calling for decisive and meaningful action on climate change.
With climate talks in Copenhagen and a potential international agreement coming up in December, we have an important opportunity to address this challenge now. Reigning in global warming pollution and harnessing energy efficiency and real renewable energy will safeguard our natural heritage by unleashing a new era of clean technology that our coastal communities can benefit from.
Through our work with the Southeast Coastal Climate Network and the Florida Climate Alliance, SACE will keep our members actively engaged in the climate debate through action alerts, sign-on letters, webinars, and potentially future visits to DC. Many thanks to all of those who joined us – your voices truly drive our work home in ways that nothing else can. For more information or to get involved, email Toni Reale at email@example.com.
2. Citizens Oppose Plant Washington at public hearing
On October 20th more than 300 Georgia citizens from across the state gathered in Sandersville to voice their opposition to a new coal-fired power plant proposal. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) hosted this hearing regarding Plant Washington’s air and water permits.
Plant Washington is coal-fired power plant being proposed for Washington County, Georgia by a consortium of Electric Membership Cooperatives (EMCs) called Power4Georgians. If built, it would be the first coal plant constructed in the state in 20 years.
An overwhelming majority of those who attended were in clear opposition to the coal plant — over 50 spoke out against the plant and less than 15 spoke in favor. Citizens expressed concern on a range of issues related to the building of a new coal-fired power plant, including but not limited to, potential damage to local farm land, mercury impacts on fish and pregnant women, contribution to respiratory diseases, and global warming.
Other topics were also addressed including the impact the plant could have on the local economy and property values. Citizens are concerned that a coal plant will negatively affect the ability to bring new jobs and industries to Washington County if air and water quality declines.
SACE staff presented our official comments as well as transcripts from citizen hearings that we helped host on October 6th across the state to allow individuals to provide comments. These hearings were organized in response to EPD holding only one hearing on October 20th regarding all of these critical air and water permits, despite over 1,000 requests for EPD to hold multiple statewide hearings.
SACE will continue to challenge these permits in every way possible. We believe EPD is misguided if it approves permits for Plant Washington. It’s time for Georgia to embrace a clean energy future and join those bold agencies around the country that say ‘no more’ to dirty coal. If you would like to learn more about how you can get involved, contact Mary Carr at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. International Day of Climate Action
On October 24th, citizens and SACE supporters from the Southeast joined activists from 181 countries around the world for the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet’s history. More than 5,200 community events and rallies were held to raise awareness of the need for urgent action on climate change. The day of action was organized by 350.org, an international climate campaign focused on the number 350 as a symbol for the clean energy future of the planet. The number 350 is important because it represents a safe upper limit, agreed upon by scientists, for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. SACE staff and supporters in Asheville, N.C. attended a 350.org event in front of City Hall and staged a photograph with attendees forming the number ‘350’ before the City steps. Greenpeace and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy hosted a 350.org event in Nashville, Tenn. at the state’s Capitol to show the world how much Tennessee cares about protecting the earth from the impacts of climate change. It is our hope that the October 24th events will impact our leaders as we approach the important UN Climate Negotiations in Copenhagen in December 2009. As our world leaders consider climate policy, it should include strong science-based climate goals for reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases, aimed at safe levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
The outcome of the talks in Copenhagen could determine whether or not we get the planet out of the climate crisis, and our actions helped leaders realize we need a real solution that sets science-based targets and gets us on track to 350.
4. Knoxville Solar Fair
The world’s largest grassroots solar event, the American Solar Energy Society NationalSolar Tour, was held in different locations across the country on Saturday, October 3rd. The event offered participants the opportunity to tour innovative green homes and buildings to see how you can use solar energy, energy efficiency, and other sustainable technologies to reduce monthly utility bills and help tackle climate change. More than 150,000 participants visited over 5,000 green buildings in 3,000 communities across the U.S. SACE was an official organization of the City of Knoxville’s Solar Tour and Fair in which was held all day at Krutch Park located on Gay Street in Downtown Knoxville and also featured a self-guided tour of 15 photovoltaic installations in the area. Our Executive Director’s family featured their home as a part of the demonstration and had more than 60 visitors on the day of the tour. The Smith’s created a residential solar home in early 2009 and have since made additional improvements to bring the home closer to net zero energy. As of September 17, Knoxville Utility Board (KUB) has credited the Smiths account $971.00 for solar generation because they are producing more energy than they consume. Just this month, the Smith family added a geoexchange heating and cooling system to their residence, which uses heat pump technology to tap the solar energy in the earth’s surface to drive the home’s heating and air conditioning system. Click here to learn more.
5. Upcoming events
November 11: Wind Power Educational Forum. Asheville, N.C.
Presenters will discuss the economic opportunity and environmental implications of developing wind energy in Western North Carolina. A question and answer period will follow the event being held at UNCA’s Owen Hall starting at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Presenters will include Dean Beam, Penland Bailey Wind Project; Phillip Frye, North Carolina State Representative; Paul Quinlan, North Carolina Sustainable Energy Assoc.; Ray Rapp, North Carolina State Representative; Dr. Dennis Scanlin, ASU Technology Professor. For more information, visit mountainvalleysrcd.org or call 828-649-3313 x5. November 12: Wind Power Educational Forum. Spruce Pine, N.C.
Presenters will discuss the economic opportunity and environmental implications of developing wind energy in Western North Carolina. A question and answer period will follow the event being held at Mayland Community College starting at 6p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Presenters will include Dean Beam, Penland Bailey Wind Project; Phillip Frye, North Carolina State Representative; Paul Quinlan, North Carolina Sustainable Energy Assoc.; Ray Rapp, North Carolina State Representative; Dr. Dennis Scanlin, ASU Technology Professor. For more information, visit mountainvalleysrcd.org or call 828-649-3313 x5.
November 14 – 15: Enviro Expo USA. Atlanta, Ga.
Enviro Expo USA will cover a broad forum on going green and will feature new technologies, products, services and organizations that will ensure a more sustainable lifestyle for all Georgians. The event will be held at the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta. Click here for more information.