Chicago neighborhood activists say Mayor Rahm Emanuel is taking too much credit for the closure of the Fisk and Crawford coal plants. (Photo by Daniel X. O’Neill via Creative Commons)
Even though they closed in 2012, Chicago’s controversial Fisk and Crawford coal plants are making an encore appearance in this year’s municipal elections, to be held Feb. 24.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s first televised campaign ad featured the mayor on a park bench talking with Kim Wasserman, one of the community leaders who worked for more than a decade to try to force the coal plants to clean up or shut down.
The ad portrays Wasserman giving Emanuel credit for brokering a deal that shut down the Chicago plants, which immediately sparked outcry from many of the community activists who had been working on the issue since the early 2000s. They said they resented Emanuel taking credit for the plants’ closing. And they pointed out that the plants were likely to close anyway – and did close well before Emanuel’s deadline – because of competition from cheap natural gas. Additionally, the deal Emanuel brokered included the dropping of a lawsuit against the company Midwest Generation’s other Illinois coal plants.
Atlanta Tea Party activist Debbie Dooley is a founder of the Green Tea Coalition.
By Debbie Dooley
I was recently invited to visit Wisconsin by the state’s local chapter of the Solar Energy Industries Association. I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve always had a close affinity with Wisconsin, due to the grand tradition of football stars from the University of Alabama—my alma mater—playing for the Green Bay Packers. (Namely Eddie Lacy, one of the team’s star running backs.)
The other connection I have with Wisconsin? Gale Klappa, chairman and CEO of Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Energy Corporation and chairman, president, and chief executive of Wisconsin Energy’s principal utility, We Energies. Prior to these posts, Klappa was Vice-President of Atlanta-based Southern Company, the parent company of Georgia Power – Georgia’s largest electric utility.
Enjoying two beautiful fall days, I spent most of my time in the Waukesha area, but also made a trip north to visit a renewable energy company in Chilton, Wisconsin, which is just south of Green Bay. Here’s what I saw on my trip.
Members of National Nurses United protest petroleum coke storage in Chicago in May. (Photo by Bob Simpson via Creative Commons)
“Whatever it is a nurse can do, I probably have done it,” says Beverly Van Buren, an operating room nurse at St. Louis University Hospital who has also worked in nursing homes, podiatry, the military reserves and other posts in her nearly four-decade career.
“And I have loved it – it has been a fantastic journey,” she said.
The latest stage of Van Buren’s journey features a growing mission among nurses nationwide: the pursuit of environmental justice, fueled by a growing awareness of the environmental factors that could be linked to, causing or exacerbating the cancers, respiratory ailments or other conditions that affect their patients.
Nurses have individually become increasingly aware of the role of the environment in health, and over the past two years the National Nurses United labor union has launched a concerted campaign to mobilize on environmental justice issues — including the role of fossil fuels in both local pollution and climate change.
In this 2013 file photo, Debbie Dooley speaks at a hearing before a Senate Rules Committee in Atlanta. Long a political activist, Dooley is now extolling the conservative virtues of distributed renewable energy. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story misstated Dooley’s itinerary.
Debbie Dooley is not a tree-hugger – in fact she bills herself as a radical right-wing grandmother, and she is a founding member of the national Tea Party and a leader of the Atlanta Tea Party.
But Dooley is also an outspoken proponent of distributed solar generation and other forms of renewable distributed energy. Dooley will be the featured speaker next week at the Wisconsin Solar Energy Industries Association’s Solar Social Speakers series – as advocates in the state say solar is under attack by elected officials, regulators and major utilities.
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.
Matt Neumann, president of the Wisconsin Solar Energy Industries Association. (Photo via ClimateWire/Wisconsin Solar Energy Industries Association)
©2014 E&E Publishing, LLC
Republished with permission
By Evan Lehmann
Four years ago, a Wisconsin Republican urged his party to overcome its fear of environmental action, saying that a conservative green movement could strengthen both the economy and GOP candidates. Then he got clobbered.
Now his son is taking a turn. Matt Neumann hopes to convince state officials that Wisconsin needs a big expansion of solar power. Among his audience are members of the Republican Party including friends of his father, former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann, who was later defeated in back-to-back primaries, first for governor in 2010 and then for the Senate two years later.
The younger Neumann resembles his dad, a former math teacher, both in looks and in his conspicuous conservatism. They both promote the environment, and they hope to make money conserving it. They do have one big difference: “Politics drives me nuts,” Matt Neumann said.
Instead of running for public office, he’s making his energy pitch as president of the Wisconsin Solar Energy Industries Association and as the co-owner of a solar installation business that he runs with his father.
Bob Inglis. (Photo by Canada 2020 via Creative Commons)
Former South Carolina Congressman Bob Inglis served two six-year stints in the House of Representatives, with a spell doing real estate law in between.
As Congress was considering the Waxman-Markey bill that would have instituted a cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon emissions, Inglis proposed an alternate approach – a “revenue-neutral” tax on carbon that would be paired with cuts in other taxes.
His acknowledgement of climate change and other moderate positions alienated him from Tea Party-aligned factions, and he lost in the 2010 Republican primary. In 2011 he spent a semester as a Resident Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University, and launched the Energy & Enterprise Initiative (E&EI), a non-profit organization based at George Mason University aimed at promoting his carbon plan.
During a recent Chicago visit, Inglis talked with Midwest Energy News.
Blue Creek Wind Farm in Ohio. (Courtesy Iberdrola Renewables)
With little discussion or fanfare, Ohio legislators have essentially put a stop to new wind farms in the state, industry experts say.
Governor John Kasich signed House Bill 483 on Monday, just days after signing another bill that freezes and alters Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards. HB 483 includes revised setback provisions that will likely make new projects economically unfeasible.
The bill “basically zones new wind projects out of Ohio,” says Eric Thumma, Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs for Iberdrola Renewables, Inc.
Iberdrola’s Ohio wind farm projects include the 304 MW Blue Creek Wind Farm in Van Wert and Paulding County. About ten of its Ohio projects are fully permitted, but not yet constructed. The new law lets already-permitted projects continue, but only if no amendments to the permit become necessary.
The Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. (Photo by Mike King via Creative Commons)
Critics showed up in force this week as Ohio’s House of Representatives began hearings on a bill that would dramatically alter the state’s clean energy laws.
The Public Utilities Committee for the Ohio House could vote on the bill as early as next week. If Senate Bill 310 becomes law, it could hurt both consumers and businesses, say opponents.
As passed by the state Senate last week, SB 310 would freeze Ohio’s energy efficiency and renewable energy standards for two years, pushing final targets from 2025 to 2027. Meanwhile, a study commission would review the law’s mandates.
However, last-minute changes made to the bill would also dramatically change both standards.
“They essentially gutted the standards, so that when they do come back they’ll be essentially meaningless,” says Ted Ford, president of Ohio Advanced Energy Economy.