Students in South Dakota, like those in 13 other states and the District of Columbia, will be taught about climate change in public schools subsequent to a unanimous vote by the state’s board of education this week.
The South Dakota Board of Education on Monday adopted several curriculum changes including science standards that are based on the Next Generation Science Standards. A couple of those standards pertain to the science of climate change.
And starting in 2018, students will be required to answer questions about climate science on a statewide standardized test.
John Friedrich, a senior campaigner for the non-profit Climate Parents, put the policy change into perspective.
“For first time, every student in middle and high school will be expected to learn the basic facts about climate change — and that’s a sea change. Before NextGen, it would typically be only kids in earth-science class, or kids in an elective. Most kids would learn nothing about it in school.” →
Michigan Democrats introduced legislation Thursday to double the state’s efficiency and renewable energy standards by 2022.
The “Powering Michigan’s Future” bill package, announced by a bicameral group of Democratic lawmakers in Lansing, heads to committee in both Republican-controlled chambers where it faces an uncertain future.
Michigan Republicans are looking to abandon the renewable energy standard (PA 295) that passed with bipartisan support in 2008.
When the 10 percent renewable energy standard levels off at the end of the year, both Republican chairs of energy committees want to move to an Integrated Resource Plan process, saying that could drive utilities to pursue renewable and efficiency efforts if it makes sense financially and to comply with federal emission regulations.
Clean-energy advocates have said the IRP process isn’t an effective substitute for standards, which they say provide a clearer market signal to utilities and developers. →
Andrew Revkin at a climate march in Copenhagen in 2009. (via Creative Commons)
Environmental writer Andrew Revkin has worked for over 30 years as an author, reporter, columnist, instructor and songwriter.
His travels have taken him around the globe, covering topics from the murder of an environmental advocate in the Amazon rainforest to interference in science communication at the White House. But his start in covering global warming in the early ’90s was the basis for an overall theme of his sustainability coverage — how we as a species will survive on earth as population surges amid finite resources.
That is the context in which Revkin started his widely read Dot Earth blog while reporting for the New York Times, which he still updates regularly. About five years ago, Revkin transitioned to the paper’s editorial pages and has also moved to academia, where he is teaching the next generation of reporters as Pace University’s Senior Fellow for Environmental Understanding.
Revkin was the keynote speaker at the Michigan State University Environmental Science and Policy Program’s “Fate of the Earth” symposium April 1. The conference schedule was filled with leading researchers on sustainability issues who all addressed the same theme that Revkin explores in his blog: How will the human race sustain itself on a planet with dwindling resources? →
(Photo by Michigan Municipal League via Creative Commons)
Michigan Republicans announced this week that they do not support higher renewable energy targets and that they will seek to eliminate energy efficiency standards from state law.
Separate comprehensive energy packages emerging from the House and Senate — both of which have Republican majorities — differ on some topics, including electric choice, but committee chairs from both chambers are intent on removing efficiency standards that were adopted seven years ago. Neither packages call for a higher renewable portfolio standard, while one House Republican introduced a stand-alone bill Thursday to repeal the RPS.
State Rep. Aric Nesbitt and state Sen. Mike Nofs, the Republican chairs of the Legislature’s energy committees, say they don’t support mandates in energy policy and want to pursue a market-driven, “all-of-the-above” portfolio without targets.
Both say they support developing renewables and energy efficiency if it’s cost-effective for ratepayers through Integrated Resource Plans, which in other states are a years-long projection by utilities of their resource and capacity needs. →
Larry Ward is the executive director of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum.
Larry Ward, executive director of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum, says he’s always been fascinated by the idea that “somehow Republicans can’t be in line” with renewable energy.
As a consultant and former political director for the state’s Republican party, Ward is experienced in statewide politics, and is well aware that the issue has become hyper-partisan. But he doesn’t think it should be. After all, he says, energy policy affects everyone who pays an electric bill.
“I’m just always mystified that we as a political party have let it get that bad,” he said.
So in late 2013, Ward launched the MCEF as a way to give Republicans a voice on clean-energy issues — an opportunity for those in the party to speak up on the merits of the issue without being lumped in with (and cast away as) liberals, he said. The group includes some of the state’s most prominent conservative activists.
While the MCEF publicly supports an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy that includes natural gas and nuclear alongside renewables, Ward sees the benefits that the state’s 10 percent renewable energy standard has had economically. He supports removing state and utility barriers to entry for solar generation. →
Locals think barges are bringing piles of petcoke from the BP Whiting oil refinery. (Photo by Kari Lydersen / Midwest Energy News)
A few days before today’s municipal election in Chicago, there was big news about the controversial piles of petroleum coke, or petcoke, owned by a Koch Industries subsidiary and stored on the city’s Southeast Side.
“KCBX to eliminate coal and petroleum coke piles,” said the headline on a Feb. 19 press release from the company. For almost two years, local residents have been complaining about black dust blowing off the piles and asking elected officials to ban or place a moratorium on petcoke in the city.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and local Alderman John Pope have made strong statements opposing petcoke pollution. But residents are unhappy that the city has not done more to limit the operation, and that KCBX has asked for exceptions from city regulations.
The announcement would appear to mean that residents’ pleas have finally been heard and that city officials succeeded in taking action. However upon closer inspection, the headline-grabbing announcement largely just consists of the company saying it will comply with city regulations instituted a year ago. →
Bob inglis is a former U.S. Representative from South Carolina.
By Bob Inglis
There’s still a long way to go, but conservatives may have begun to move on climate change.
Fifteen Republican U.S. Senators voted on January 21st for a Republican-offered amendment that said “human activity contributes to climate change.” Five Republican U.S. Senators were willing to go further that day, voting for an amendment that says “human activity significantly contributes to climate change.” Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk was a leader among the fifteen and the five.
Perhaps it’s the dawn of the 2016 presidential cycle and the facing of an expanded electorate. Perhaps it’s the 2016 Senate reelection map that’s home to large swaths of that expanded electorate, some of it in places like Chicago. Or maybe it’s that we’re beginning to see the back of the Great Recession, and the great and immediate fears of that dark time are receding. →
Get consumer-brand companies, investors and state lawmakers from both sides of the aisle together in a room to talk about clean energy, and watch what happens.
Common sense prevails, and clean energy investments and policies come out on top.
At the recent NASEO Energy Outlook Conference in Washington D.C., Ceres and NASEO (the National Association of State Energy Officials) offered state energy officials a rare opportunity to connect with consumer brands and investors to discuss renewable energy and energy efficiency and the implications for state energy policies.
The response was overwhelming. Over two dozen representatives from 18 states, including Oklahoma, Utah, Minnesota, Michigan, and Missouri, packed the room. Unlike our national representatives in Washington, these state officials—representing red, blue, and purple states alike—managed to reach some key areas of agreement. →
Investments dropped dramatically when Ohio lawmakers proposed major cutbacks to the state’s clean energy standards. Chart from “Clean Economy Rising: Manufacturing powers clean energy in Ohio,” courtesy of Pew Charitable Trusts. (click to enlarge)
A drop in investments in Ohio’s clean energy industry could cost the state jobs, say industry experts. Matters could be made worse by continuing uncertainty about the future of Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards.
Last week the Pew Charitable Trusts released a report documenting the huge growth in investments in Ohio’s clean energy industry in the years following adoption of those standards in 2008.
That same report also shows a huge drop after state lawmakers began debating changes to those standards in 2013. The study’s authors expect investment levels will stay low through at least 2017. →
Wisconsin regulators approve Wisconsin Energy/Integrys deal • Coalition pushes for stronger oversight of Straits of Mackinac pipelines • Detroit suburb to install wind turbines in brownfield site • Minnesota regulators approve off-peak rates for electric vehicle charging