State legislatures across the United States have introduced bills that would curtail or even criminalize our constitutional right to protest injustice.
The permit is one step towards eroding the principles of the Clean Water Act.
Community Healthy Air Act Would Require MDE to Assess Air Pollution from Factory Farms
As news reports proliferate about the Trump administration suppressing science, it is crucial to understand that muzzling federal scientists isn’t
new—and that science itself is not the solution to our political problems.
What is wrong with Trump’s infrastructure plan? Look no further than the corporate water scam in Rockland County, New York, where residents are being forced to pay millions for a desalination plant that was never built.
Trump’s choice to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat spells more trouble for our food and water.
“Pruitt is Wholly Unfit and Unqualified to Lead the EPA”
Whether it is reports of melting artic sea ice, sea level rise, draught, famine or forest fires, every day there is a reminder that we need to rapidly get off fossil fuels and transition to a true renewable energy future. Despite these dire warnings, there are forces that are resisting these changes. There has been a ton of media attention on the Trump Administration, which is filled with people that deny the clear scientific evidence that burning fossil fuels is causing the climate to change, but little coverage is given to the attacks on renewable energy at the state level. From purple mountains of Montana to the New York islands, these attacks are happening, led by the same forces that will benefit from an Environmental Protection Agency administrator and head of the Department of Energy who deny climate change and are fulfilling the profit-driven destruction of our climate.
In Montana there are several bills that will roll back incentives for renewable energy by weakening net metering standards. (Net metering is a billing arrangement where the owner of a distributed system, like home solar panels, can export excess electricity into the grid and receive credit for it on their electricity bill.) They do everything from reducing rates paid to rooftop solar to requiring solar producers to install expensive and unnecessary equipment. There is even a bill that would require utilities, the very entities pushing the roll backs, to provide the state with data showing that net metering is a hindrance to the state's energy development. This is despite several studies in other states that show the benefit that net metering has to ratepayers and to avoided energy and capacity costs; decreased or deferred generation, distribution, and transmission investments; avoided line losses; and reduced price and supply risks.
A Nevada study estimates a total benefit of net metering systems to non-participating ratepayers of $36 million during the systems’ lifetimes. An analysis from Mississippi shows that net metered solar rooftop would result in $27 per MWh of net benefits to the state. A Societal Cost Test benefit‐cost analysis was not performed in Mississippi. Were these benefits included, the benefit‐to‐cost ratio would be even greater.
In New York, the state is planning to abandon net metering all together, include surcharges and allow biomass and agricultural waste to receive any benefits that roof top solar providers might receive under the confusing and convoluted system New York is proposing to "encourage" solar development.
The Maine Public Utilities Commission is considering amendments to Maine's net metering law, which we expect to be released in early 2017. The Public Utilities Commission draft plan proposes the elimination of net metering in Maine by depreciating the amount rooftop solar providers receive for energy they send back to the grid by 10% a year for 10 years. They also are proposing a tax on behind the meter solar energy production.
There is legislation moving in Missouri to enact fees on those who use net metering, a move that would stifle net metering development despite a study the state conducted that concluded that net metering is beneficial to all utility customers, even those who don't have rooftop solar.
These proposals to roll back net metering will discourage residential and community solar projects that benefit homeowners, small business owners, renters and those who live in buildings without access to space adjacent to their homes for siting renewable energy sources. This will result in fewer renewable energy projects and a loss in all the benefits that go along with them.
The attack on net metering also led SolarCity and Sunrun to stop operating in a Nevada in 2016. Vivint, the second largest installer of rooftop solar in the United States, announced in July 2015 that it was going to establish a presence in Nevada, but about one month later they reversed that decision when uncertainty in the market place was created through discussions of rolling back Nevada's net metering law. Eventually solar customers in Nevada who had relied on net metering to offset the cost of their panels found that rates they were paid for energy generation would be cut from 11 cents per kilowatt-hour to 2.6 cents — while the monthly service fee nearly tripled, from $12.75 to $38.51. These changes regarding Nevada’s net metering law made the state less attractive to solar installers, and caused solar installation to grind to a halt in Nevada. The elimination of retail net metering in Hawaii led to a loss of 35% of solar jobs, precipitated by a 13% reduction in solar permit applications in the state.
In Wyoming, the attacks on renewable energy are even more alarming. Legislation was introduced that would prevent utilities from selling energy generated by wind and solar farm, and actually fine them $10 per megawatt sold. Wyoming has a tremendous potential for wind energy, but it is stifled by efforts like this. In fact, Wyoming already charges a tax on wind produced in the state.
We have our work cut out for us fighting the Trump administration, but we cannot abandon the state and local struggles for clean energy. In addition to fighting to protect the gains we have made in solar, we must continue to push forward for state energy plans that will bring us to a 100% renewable energy.
At Food & Water Watch, we have the tools to help volunteers make their voices heard. Join us to call your Senator today to block Scott Pruitt!
A little over seven years ago, I started working for Food & Water Watch as the New Jersey Campaign Manager. Now, I'm excited to work on a new project organizing to help bring about a clean energy future, one community at a time, building on our successful model of working with communities to secure our access to safe food and clean water.
Before applying for a job at Food & Water Watch, I had never heard of the organization, but was excited to see it was taking on issues of water privatization, something that nobody in New Jersey seemed to be interested in addressing.
Jim Walsh, Renewable Energy Policy Analyst
A few months after joining Food & Water Watch, I was knee deep in a fight to stop a plan to sell Trenton's water system to American Water. With a little over $30,000 in donations raised through yard sales and in-kind contributions of computer equipment, we defeated American Water's $1,000,000 campaign and kept Trenton's water in public hands.
Following this fight, I went on to become a regional director, overseeing campaigns from Maryland to Maine, and even worked on a campaign in Hawaii to stop factory fish farming. In this capacity, I worked with organizers and volunteers to fight against Nestlé water bottling operations in Maine, ban the use of triclosan in soaps nationally, fight factory farms in Pennsylvania and Maryland, label GMOs in New Jersey, stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), oppose numerous pipelines and LNG facilities, and ban fracking and fracking waste dumping everywhere.
Like the fight to keep Trenton's water public, many of these fights were successful and against tremendous odds. Of all of these ongoing fights, the fight to end our use of fossil fuels is more important than ever.
Working as a movement, I believe we will ban fracking everywhere like we did in New York, and in hundreds of communities across the country. I believe this because the alternative is death: Death for those living on the front lines who have poisoned air and water, death for those who live next to refineries and breathe toxic air, and death to those who are having their lives destroyed by climate change induced drought, sea level rise, and starvation. But banning fracking is not enough; we need to build a political system and energy system that puts human rights and environmental protection above the interests of corporate greed.
That is why I am excited to take on a new position at Food & Water Watch to build out a renewable energy program that will aggressively push for 100% renewable energy, and put our energy future in the hands of a people powered movement that values human rights and environmental protection above profits.
Using Our Successful Model to Demand Clean Energy
We will be pushing for stronger net metering policies, which will ensure that people who put solar power on their homes will be able to sell that energy to utilities at the same rate the utility charges them. We will work to establish and strengthen community solar programs that will allow local organizations, businesses and neighbors to establish solar farms to power their community. We will work to increase public financing of renewable energy to make it more affordable. Finally, we will work to establish strong benchmarks for renewable energy development to ensure utilities have a clear and accountable plan to end their use of fossil fuels and ensure a rapid transition to a clean energy future.
The odds in this fight look like they are stacked against us when you consider that a Trump cabinet is poised to be filled with climate deniers, former oil executives, and people who have trampled on civil rights. We must continue to resist what will certainly be significant attacks on the gains we have made, but in addition to resisting the Trump administration, we can win real victories for clean energy at the state and local level. These victories will help us chart a path for new administration to follow for a sustainable future.
These victories will come from our ability to continue building on the campaigns we have mobilized in the past. This means building broad-based coalitions for renewable energy, calling our neighbors to action, holding elected officials accountable, and creating a strong uncompromising vision for the world we want to live in.
A real clean energy future is something that will benefit everyone; the farmer in Michigan who has had his crops devastated by leaks from an oil pipeline has as much to gain from a real clean energy plan as the mother in Los Angeles who has children growing up with respiratory problems due to fracking rigs, refineries and power plants in her community. The family in the New Jersey suburbs who has a risky and unnecessary gas pipeline proposed to run through their neighborhood needs a real clean energy plan as much as the families in New Orleans who had their neighborhood destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The unemployed worker can gain as much from a real clean energy future as the homeowner who is seeing their energy bills increase.
We can mobilize in our communities by volunteering to set up tables at farmers markets or showing a documentary film in a local library. Social media can also be a powerful platform for reaching our friends and neighbors with important actions they can take to help create a real clean energy future. You can contact a local Food & Water Watch office and ask one of our community organizers how you can help build the movement.
Most importantly, we can continue to create a vision for the world we want to live in. When Food & Water Watch became the first national organization to call for a ban on fracking, we were criticized by people who were our allies on many issues, who told us we were being unrealistic and unstrategic. But since we launched that effort, we have banned fracking in New York, had a leading presidential candidate make a ban on fracking central to his energy vision, and built a movement with over 900 organizations in all 50 states. We can do that for renewable energy and we can start today.
I am looking forward to leading the Clean Energy Revolution forward with all of you. Onward!