Groves Woods in Trumbull County, Ohio, — in the northern area of the Utica hotbed of shale drilling — is among dozens of natural area preserves owned by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History because of its ecological habitats. (Photo by Kathiann M. Kowalski)
Conservation experts say fracking and other shale gas activities can add to the dangers faced by Ohio’s rare species.
Yet as the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) allows more and more natural gas activities in the state, its natural heritage program remains dramatically scaled back. That limits ODNR’s ability to identify and protect important habitats in sparsely surveyed areas.
Additionally, Ohio law exempts oil and natural gas activities from certain environmental requirements. It also allows massive water withdrawals for fracking and other activities. These and other factors can compound conservation threats.
Last Friday, experts at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s annual conservation symposium spoke about a wide range of threats faced by birds, bats, butterflies, mussels and amphibians — one hundred years after the last known passenger pigeon died in Ohio.
People in Iowa, which leads the Midwest in wind energy, are the least likely to believe that wind turbines impact human health, according to a recent survey. (Photo by tumblingrun via Creative Commons)
Science has frequently rejected arguments that wind turbines pose a threat to human health. And now the verdict is in both in the courts of legal and public opinion on the matter, according to a recent study and poll.
A bipartisan poll on energy issues released earlier this week found that in six Midwestern states — Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin — only 14 percent of respondents believe wind turbines harm human health.
The survey of 2,477 voters was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and FM3 on behalf of RE-AMP, which publishes Midwest Energy News.
Among the states surveyed, the lowest percentage of people who believe wind turbines cause health problems (7 percent) was in Iowa, a state that leads the nation in proportion of energy from wind.
(image via C2ES, click to go to original version)
Compared to other regions of the country, the upper Midwest is one of the pacesetters nationwide for reducing energy use.
As a result, according to new calculations, the states clustered around the Great Lakes will be relatively well-positioned to meet the carbon standards now being developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state governments.
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions recently published a map with calculations of how much each state reduced its electricity use in 2012 as a result of efficiency measures, and how that stacks up against the efficiency goal proposed as part of the EPA’s developing new limits on emissions of carbon dioxide.
[Story updated 3:02 p.m. with PUC decision]
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously today to further study whether to adopt the Environmental Protection Agency’s social cost of carbon calculation.
The state’s Department of Commerce and Pollution Control Agency have both supported adopting the federal carbon price. Currently, the PUC uses carbon cost numbers established in 1997, years prior to new research that suggests the impact of carbon is much greater than previously thought, said J. Drake Hamilton, science policy director for Fresh Energy, the St. Paul nonprofit where Midwest Energy News is based.
However, commissioners raised concerns about adopting a metric from an outside agency without further deliberation. Today’s vote means the issue will go to the Office of Administrative Hearings to be argued before a judge.
This transparent solar collector is the latest in a string of technology breakthroughs in Michigan, a state that advocates say still lags on solar policy. (Photo via Michigan State University)
Last month, researchers at two Michigan universities announced innovations tackling aesthetic and intermittency obstacles for solar energy systems.
At a third university here, researchers are using a centuries-old Japanese art form to address what is perhaps the biggest barrier to solar development: cost.
These efforts, together with what some regard as pioneering solar technology from the private, Michigan-based company Dow Chemical Co., suggest that Michigan is on the front lines of the evolution and growth of solar technology.
However, deployment of solar innovations still lags statewide, which some experts say is a public policy problem, not one of technology. These newly engineered products, at various stages of development, are emerging into a marketplace that has plenty of room for expansion.
Iowa state Sen. Rob Hogg speaks at an event in Cedar Rapids in September, 2013. (Photo by 350.org via Creative Commons)
Rob Hogg is an Iowa state senator who spent much of August campaigning throughout the Midwest to bring attention to the changing climate.
Now serving his second term in the Iowa Senate, Hogg has advocated for several years for renewable energy and for action to forestall and minimize climate change.
In 2013, he released his first book, America’s Climate Century: What Climate Change Means for America in the 21st Century and What Americans Can Do About It, at a ceremony at the state Capitol.
Since 2011, he has helped to coordinate an advocacy group called Iowa Climate Advocates, aimed at educating the public about the dangers of climate change.
“We need for more Americans to speak up about the need for climate action,” he said in a recent interview.
While utilities in the Midwest and elsewhere have often been resistant to the incursion of rooftop solar and other distributed energy sources, a new survey shows their customers have a very different view.
A recent bipartisan poll of Midwest voters found that an overwhelming majority — 93 percent — say they should be allowed put solar panels on their property and to pay for them as they choose. Asked whether utilities should be allowed to block customers from installing solar panels, energy storage systems and the like on their property, only 9 percent agreed.
The team of Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican-affiliated firm, and FM3, a Democratic pollster, conducted a telephone survey of 2,477 voters between July 26 and Aug. 3 in six states: Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. The consultants also conducted focus groups in July with swing voters in the suburbs of Milwaukee and Detroit.
Tim Johnson, pastor of Cherokee Park United Church in St. Paul, says visitors frequently inquire about the church’s solar array. (Photo by Ken Paulman / Midwest Energy News)
Bethel Evangelical Lutheran and Minnesota Community Solar came together earlier this year to promote a solar garden that will sit atop the roof of the Minneapolis church.
Without a panel yet installed, the 40-kilowatt (kW) solar garden attracted enough support from the church’s members and surrounding Bancroft neighborhood to be fully subscribed. The project encapsulated for Rev. Brenda L. Froisland a deeper spiritual tug that speaks to her faith and the teachings of Christianity.
“Part of our vision is that in gratitude, Bethel amplifies God’s grace, nourishes God’s creation, reaches out and builds community,” she said. “This is very much a manifestation of those points and our vision. “We’re noting this incredible resource called solar energy God gives us, and we’re nourishing God’s creation by reducing our carbon footprint and consuming less coal — all that’s connected to global warming, sustainability and simplicity.”
(Photo by SaskPower via Creative Commons)
In an ideal world, smart meters paired with sophisticated sensors and software programs in homes across the country would allow people to constantly shift their habits and alter their energy use to save money and reduce carbon emissions.
But even as utilities are increasingly installing smart meters and providing customers with data about usage, advocates say they are not generally offering the data quickly enough — or in as much detail as needed — for maximum energy conservation.
At the core of this issue is the question of who “owns” a household’s energy use data – the utility or the customer themselves. Also, whether and how the data can be automatically passed on to a third party – namely a company that will use the data help customers save energy.
(Photo by CeeDave via Creative Commons)
Cross-posted from Greentech Media with permission
By Martin LaMonica
Utility industry pros often say Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla would recognize today’s electric grid because the basic architecture has changed so little over the past 100 years. The same could be said for electricity pricing.
And that’s a problem if distributed energy is to be deeply integrated in today’s power grid, according to a report from the Electricity Innovation Lab.
The paper, released on Tuesday, seeks to offer a way forward for electricity pricing, an arcane issue for most consumers but vitally important to how several emerging distributed technologies are valued. That includes solar, storage, demand response, efficiency, microgrids and home automation.