1. Calling on the Senate to support clean energy
SACE kicked off a 72-hour call-in campaign on March 2 to ensure the United States Senate heard support for energy and climate policies that will put us on a path towards energy independence and a clean energy economy. It is important that the Senate now follow the lead of the US House of Representatives in passing a comprehensive climate and clean energy bill. The call-in campaign successfully generated more than 300,000 verified calls from around the country in just three days! SACE helped produce calls from the Southeast region in partnership with our allies at 1Sky by encouraging clean energy advocates to place calls using 1Sky’s Click-to-Call system. The campaign generated so many calls that the Senate reportedly shut the phones down in some offices and a staffer was quoted as saying "this was exactly what we needed to make this issue rise back to the top." In addition to the calls placed, reports from D.C. showed that 7 million emails were received in Senate offices that week – shutting down the servers for at least 12 different offices. All of the partners involved in the campaign recognize that investing in a clean energy future can create millions of jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and tackle climate change — all at the same time. It’s time to ensure that our elected leaders recognize this, too. Click here to learn more about what you can do to take action and support climate and energy policies.
2. Efforts to weaken the Clean Air Act
The public concern and outrage that led to the nation’s first Earth Day in 1970 culminated in the passage of the Clean Air Act (1970) and later the Clean Water Act (1972). Despite the vast improvements to air quality through enforcement of this law, millions of urban dwellers still live in cities with high pollution levels and suffer adverse health impacts as a result. It is, therefore, shocking to think that on the 40th anniversary of both Earth Day and this seminal environmental law, some members of Congress are poised to weaken this cornerstone of health and environmental policies. Starting in 2009, members in both the U.S. House and Senate began introducing resolutions and bills that would restrict our ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions with the Clean Air Act. From the Northwest (Sen. Lisa Murkowski – AK) to the Southeast (Rep. Marsha Blackburn – TN), increasing numbers of congressional leaders have given their support to one or more of these “Dirty Air Acts.” Some would overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s scientific findings that global warming pollution is dangerous to public health while others would reverse the Supreme Court’s landmark 2007 global warming decision by declaring that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are not air pollutants. These “Dirty Air Acts” are little more than political attempts to gut the most important tool we currently have to reduce these harmful air emissions. Attempts to weaken the Clean Air Act will only serve to give the nation’s largest polluters like coal and oil companies a free pass to continue releasing global warming emissions that endanger public health and our rapidly warming environment. There is no clear timeline for when Sen. Murkowski or other leaders may bring any of these bills or resolutions up for consideration, but it is essential that Congress understands that Americans support protection of the Clean Air Act and expect our senators to draft proactive legislation that complements and strengthens recently passed climate laws and jumpstarts a clean energy economy. To read more about these efforts, please visit SACE’s “Dirty Air Acts” page.
3. SACE hosts Florida Citizen Action Day
On March 22 and 23, SACE hosted a Florida Citizen Action Day to educate state leaders about climate and energy issues. Thirty-five citizens representing the Florida Climate Alliance (FCA) and other organizations attended this day of action in Tallahassee to discuss concerns and share information with representatives about climate, renewable energy, and offshore oil drilling in the state. During the event, hosted in partnership with the Florida Wildlife Federation, Audubon, Sierra Club, Environment Florida, and Hands Across the Sand, participants visited 40 offices and held more than 30 individual meetings with decision makers responsible for developing clean energy policies. Citizens also attended Committee meetings to experience the discussions happening at the State Capitol about climate and energy issues first-hand. A diverse group of citizens attended the action day ranging in age from 20 – 70 years old and visiting from districts all across Florida. School teachers, lawyers, musicians, advocates, business owners, and engineers, each traveled to Tallahassee to discuss critical questions with their state representatives, including:
- Why would we risk Florida’s pristine coastline and tourism economy for drilling when we have so may alternatives? Responsibly developed clean energy policies would negate any need to drill.
- With Florida approaching 12% unemployment, renewable energy is poised to be a job creator – but we need state policy that encourages renewable energy investment. Renewable energy is a stable, low risk investment – but we have all our eggs in the fossil fuel basket!
- We have 7% of America’s total biomass resources in Florida and our solar resources are only second in the nation to the desert Southwest!
These citizens were also part of an important leadership recognition ceremony held on March 22, where elected officials of Florida were honored for their achievements as heroes, champions, and pioneers of clean energy and climate change in the state. More than 50 people attended this special event. Contact Toni Reale to get involved.
4. North Carolina utilities consider future energy plans
The North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) considered the future energy plans of Duke Energy, Progress Energy and Dominion Power during hearings held in March. Each year, North Carolina utilities are required to update their 15-year energy plans known as an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).An IRP explains how each utility will serve its customer’s electricity needs with the lowest cost mix of resources, which can include existing and new power plants, renewable energy facilities, and energy efficiency. SACE intervened in the proceedings with representation from Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and in partnership with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Sierra Club. SACE’s Research Director John Wilson, gave testimony that addressed the strength of utility-led energy efficiency efforts on March 16, 2009. Wilson advised the Commission that up to 15% of North Carolina’s energy demand could be met through efficiency – about five times more than the state’s utilities currently forecast. His testimony mainly focused on energy savings benefits to customers and encouraged a long term commitment from utilities to meet customer’s needs with efficiency rather than new generation. SACE also worked with David Schlissel, an expert consultant on electric utility engineering and economics, to address the risk to customers of operating coal-fired power plants in the face of new or more stringent federal regulations on pollution. The testimony encouraged the commission to require utilities to include a discussion of the expected new pollution control standards and a demonstration of how the utility is factoring the financial risk of these standards into its IRP. SACE welcomed the public to submit comments at the hearing on March 15 and helped prepare talking points to help citizen’s share their thoughts. To learn more about the IRP intervention and to view SACE’s testimony, read a recent SACE blog post detailing the hearing.
5. Opposing Obama’s new reactors in Savannah
President Obama came to Savannah in early March to discuss jobs and other issues. At the top of the minds of many was the $8.3 billion in conditional loan guarantees he recently announced for two new nuclear reactors at Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle in Georgia. SACE responded to the loan guarantee announcement on our blog and in the street. SACE and the Southern Energy Network joined Friends of the Earth, Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions and the Sierra Club to greet the President, voice our opposition to his support for new reactors and rally for a Carbon Free and Nuclear Free future. Participants held signs and delivered messages such as, “No nuclear pork! Without our money, nukes don’t stand a chance.” Click here to read a recent blog post by the Southern Energy Network’s Mandy Hancock on the issue.
6. Upcoming events
April 6. Coastal Georgia Regional Water Planning Council Meeting.
As part of the ongoing Comprehensive State-Wide Water Management Implementation Plan, the Coastal Council will hold a meeting, from 9 am to 4pm, at the Coastal Electrical Cooperative. A variety of issues will be discussed, including energy forecasting. For more information, click here.April 8. The Earth Week Street Fair Celebration at Georgia State University. Atlanta, GA
This fair is an opportunity to introduce the Georgia State University community and student body, who have an interest in sustainability and the environment, to a variety of local environmental organizations and businesses. April 10. SACE Annual Meeting. Knoxville, Tenn.
Click here for more information on SACE’s annual meeting. April 10. Coastal Issues Forum. Richmond Hill, GA
Climate, energy and water issues will be discussed, from 9am to 4pm, at this free annual event hosted by Center for a Sustainable Coast, Sierra Club, and Clean Coast at the John W. Stevens Wetlands Education Center. RSVP at 912-239-9663 or www.cleancoast.org.April 12. League of Women Voters Meeting on EMC Elections. Marietta, GA
The League of Women Voters will be hosting an informational meeting on the Cobb EMC elections. Mary Bendeck from SACE will be presenting on how the EMC elections will effect the development of a new coal fired power plant in Georgia. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. April 12. Diesel Impacts and Solutions presentation, NPU-W. Atlanta, GA
SACE and Mothers and Others for Clean Air will host a presentation and discussion about the environmental and health impacts of diesel pollution, available solutions, and opportunities for citizens to promote clean diesel policies.April 16-17. "Greening the Southeast" Regional Summit. Savannah, GA
Exciting regional summit covering many issues such as climate change, energy, water and more hosted by the SoGreen Network at the Coastal Georgia Center. For more information visit http://www.makingthechangetogreenconference.org/ or call 912-495-0591. April 17-18, Sweetwater 420 Festival–Planet 420. Atlanta, GA
Sweetwater 420 Fest is a free annual Earth Day festival with live music, food, vendor booths and more. Planet 420 is a special section of the festival that provides an opportunity for sustainability and environmentally focused organizations and vendors to connect with festival goers. The festival slogan for this year, "We are here for a good time. She is here for a long time." For more information, please email email@example.com.April 27-30. 35th Annual National Association of Environmental Professionals Conference. Atlanta, GA
The 35th annual NAEP conference will cover a wide array of topics, including energy, climate change, and more. For more information, click here. Registration and fee required.