1. 2009 in rewind
American citizens have witnessed remarkable achievements and movement towards climate action. In 2009, we witnessed the swearing in of a new president who cited climate change in his inaugural address, and — for the first time in history – the U.S. House of Representatives debated and passed a climate bill that would curb greenhouse gas emissions. As we enter a new decade and a new era for climate and energy, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) looks back on 2009 and acknowledges some of our best moments:
December 2009 – SACE traveled to the Copenhagen Conference of the Parties in December to represent SACE members and the Southeast region during the international climate talks. Our staff reported live from Copenhagen by publishing numerous blogs, offering updates on Twitter, producing and sharing YouTube style videos, and hosting a webinar for SACE members.
November 2009 – SACE launched a week-long radio campaign (listen here) informing Florida citizens of a vote that would allow utilities to bill in advance for its nuclear plants. More citizens contacted the Florida Public Service Commission during the week and 51 comments were recorded, all opposing the approval of cost recovery.
October 2009 – The first annual Summit for Campus Sustainability Conference brought students and officials from across the region to Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) to share success and best practices on campus sustainability.
September 2009 – The Department of Energy approved Governor Bredesen’s proposed Volunteer State Solar Initiative, which marks a big step forward for Tennessee’s clean energy future and set the stage for SACE’s participation in a very successful Solar Home Tour in Knoxville, Tenn.
August 2009 – SACE embarked on a tour of North Carolina’s coast to meet business owners, citizens and local decision makers and involve them in SACE’s regional climate and energy work.
July 2009 – SACE celebrated the grand opening of a new biodiesel production facility during a ribbon cutting ceremony held earlier this month at the University of Tennessee’s agricultural campus.
June 2009 – SACE announced the improved Save-A-Watt proposal would reduce electricity demand by almost three times the amount Duke Energy of North Carolina originally proposed to achieve with the program.
May 2009 – Four of the ten Georgia Electric Municipal Coop’s proposing the construction of a new coal-fired plant in Georgia pulled out of the plan, demonstrating a huge success for SACE and the campaign.
April 2009 – SACE supported the Earth Day Cliffside Climate Action to protest Duke Energy and their proposed expansion at the Cliffside coal plant. It was the largest gathering of its kind in the Southeast and attracted 250 – 300 protestors.
March 2009 – SACE delivered the “Economist statement” to Congress, which demonstrated why Congress must auction 100 percent of the pollution credits from a proposed cap-and-trade program. SACE garnered three times the amount of signatories we anticipated; 600 experts from across the political spectrum signed on.
February 2009 – SACE released its influential report “Yes We Can: Southern Solutions for a National Renewable Energy Standard,” which confirmed that the Southeast has sufficient renewable energy resources to fulfill an aggressive national mandate for renewable energy.
January 2009 – SACE officially launched the newly redesigned www.cleanenergy.org website, which built the capacity to communicate effectively about solutions to climate change. Shortly after, SACE launched a new blog to continue supporting its online community of climate and energy activists.
The path to a clean energy future lies ahead. THANK YOU for the support and participation of all of our members and we look forward to new accomplishments for clean energy in 2010!
2. SACE is carbon neutral
SACE is officially certified as "carbon neutral" after working to lower our carbon footprint and offset 100% of our carbon emissions. SACE’s first priority is to invest in office energy efficiency improvements, make healthy travel choices, and to operate extensive recycling programs in our offices in order to minimize our total carbon impact as much as feasible. However, to compensate for unavoidable organizational activities that create carbon emissions, SACE voluntarily purchases carbon offsets on an annual basis.
A carbon offset represents a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that are created through financial support of projects that either eliminate emissions or avoid their creation. SACE worked in partnership with Versus Carbon Neutral, a Georgia-based company that specializes in auditing carbon footprints and providing carbon offsets from the Chicago Climate Exchange.
For SACE, purchasing carbon offsets is not a substitute for being conscientious of energy use. Buying offsets is only part of the complete picture for being responsible for our carbon footprint. Through the carbon offset process, SACE reduced our impact on the environment similar to taking 43 cars off the road for a year! Click here to learn more about how SACE calculated our emissions and worked to become carbon neutral.
3. Show your love for Florida’s coastline
SACE is raising funds to stand up to the oil industry’s push to end decades of protection from offshore drilling along Florida’s coasts. We’ve created an online auction site where participants are protecting Florida’s most precious resources by bidding on items online.
Show your love this Valentine’s Day for Florida’s coastline by bidding on exciting trips such as Sailing in Panama City, a week’s stay in Riomaggiore, Italy, or Jimmy Buffet tickets. But you have to hurry! The auction to fight offshore drilling ends February 11.Click here for a full list of auction items. Proceeds from the auction will advance clean energy solutions and stand up to the effort to open Florida’s coastline to oil and gas exploration.
4. SACE climate videos translated to Spanish
Earlier this month, SACE re-released two of our compelling global warming videos with Spanish subtitles. The goal of the translation project is to expand outreach and education to Latino communities about coastal vulnerability from global warming.This first video we translated, Treasured Places in Peril: Everglades, takes viewers on a journey through the Florida Keys and Everglades National Park, interviewing concerned citizens and scientists who are already seeing and feeling the effects of global warming. The second video, Sea Level Rise Impacts to Florida, puts a human face on global warming. It uses striking images produced by Architecture2030 and Google Earth to depict how populous cities such as Miami and Tampa could be drastically altered by global warming impacts including sea level rise and storm surges if action is not taken now. SACE recognizes that there are a variety of existing global warming resources that have not been made available to Spanish speaking audiences. We worked to increase the amount of educational materials available and to enable a greater diversity of interested citizens to join the movement to address the climate crisis. All citizens are needed to raise their voices in calling for action at the local, state and federal levels, joining the millions at the forefront of the fight to stop global warming. Click here to learn more about the video translation project.
5. EPA’s new sulfur dioxide proposal
In December 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed new rules to limit sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions from power plants and other sources. If these new rules are implemented, it will be the first time in 38 years that EPA has acted to strengthen the limit on these emissions.
In the United States, coal-fired power plants are the largest single source of sulfur dioxide. Coal naturally contains sulfur that combines with oxygen when burned to produce SO2. Sulfur dioxide can cause significant health problems to the upper respiratory system especially to people living in areas near coal plants or industrial facilities. In addition, sulfur dioxide contributes to acid rain, which can cause damage to fish and other aquatic species, soil and vegetation.
The strictest standard proposed would create a 1-hour standard of 50 parts per billion (ppb). The current standard is a 24-hour standard at 140ppb. EPA and the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), an independent panel of expert scientists, physicians, and researchers, both agree that the current standard fails to protect public health. According to the American Lung Association, limiting SO2 emissions to 50 ppb would reduce pollution by a million tons per year and could save between 4,700 to 12,000 premature deaths each year, by 2020. On January 5, EPA hosted their one and only public hearing on this standard in Atlanta. SACE delivered public comments supporting the strictest standard of 50 ppb. Our comments can be found under position statements on our website www.cleanenergy.org.
If you would like to make your voice heard on this matter, written comments may be submitted online through February 8 at www.regulations.gov, Docket No.: EPA-HQ-OAR-2007-0352. For more information, contact Mary Carr Bendeck.
6. Major Florida coal plant canceled
Seminole Electric Cooperative announced in December that it would “not go forward with construction and operation” of a proposed 750 MW coal-fired power plant in Palatka, Florida. The decision to cancel the plant represents a step in the right direction for Florida and opens the door for new clean energy projects, instead of continuing on with dirty coal.Coal plants have an extremely large environmental footprint and perpetuate serious problems in the way we produce and consume energy. The power plant, Seminole Unit 3, would have emitted 6.5 million tons of global warming pollution per year and a host of other pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfuric acid, and the neurotoxin, mercury, that affect public health. SACE and its allies intervened against the Seminole plant as a party in cases before the Florida First District Court of Appeals and the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings to challenge the approval of air permits for the proposed power plant. Our goal is to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency and prevent new coal plants from being constructed in the Southeast. Seminole Unit 3 has been legally challenged numerous times since it was first proposed in 2006 and its rocky and controversial history includes an administrative denial of the air permit by Governor Crist when he first took office in January 2007. In the end, the decision to halt plans for the Seminole plant was a victory for the environment, the state of Florida, and the Southeast region as we make the transition to a clean energy future.
7. Upcoming events
February 16: 2010 Georgia Legislative Breakfast. Atlanta, Ga.
Join fellow environmental advocates at the 2010 Legislative Breakfast from 7:30-9:00 a.m. at Georgia Railroad Freight Depot – Blue Room, 65 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. (just Northwest of the Capitol). Please sign up to attend and invite your legislators! Click here to register.
February 22: Reducing Diesel Emissions in Georgia. Athens, Ga.
A workshop, "Reducing Diesel Emissions in Georgia," will be held February 22, 2010 from 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education at the University of Georgia in Athens. The workshop will spotlight Athens-Clarke County and attendees will learn about how to reduce diesel pollution in the community and efforts to install pollution filters on government vehicles in Athens-Clarke County and Washington County. Click here for more information.
March 10-13: Power Up 2010 Energy Conference. Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
The Gulf Coast Energy Network’s Power Up 2010 Energy Conference & Expo provides an unmatched opportunity to connect with other energy industry experts, influential business leaders, policy makers, conservationists, and green building enthusiast. Attendees will hear presentations and panel discussions across all energy sectors including wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, ocean, and bioenergy. Click here for more information.
Check out our blog, blog.cleanenergy.org, and follow SACE on Twitter!