Saturday, June 27, 2009

Clean Energy and Climate Bill Passes House

The House of Representatives passed key legislation on Friday to move the nation towards a clean energy economy that will put Americans back to work, protect our environment and help preserve national security. The bill is a landmark first step by Congress to curb climate change by limiting emissions of the heat-trapping gases which cause global warming.

The "American Clean Energy and Security Act" passed by a simple majority, 219-212 (3 members did not vote). Western New York Congress members Higgins (D-Buffalo, NY-27) and Slaughter (D-Fairport, NY-28) voted for passage, while Lee (R-Clarence, NY-26) and Massa (D-Corning, NY-29) voted against the bill.

The bill proposes to save billions of dollars in energy costs, cutting waste for consumers and businesses through investment in energy efficiency for vehicles, buildings, appliances and industrial processes. Consumer rebates allow the majority of Americans to achieve energy cost savings, and clean energy investments will reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Incentives for clean energy technology will spur innovation, create new jobs and ultimately reduce carbon emissions.

The bill proposes a cap-and-trade system to limit emissions of global warming pollution and allows the emitting industries to trade pollution permits. The emission cap would be lowered over time, increasing the cost and moving industries towards clean energy sources or new technology.

Opposition to the bill focused on fear of the possibilities that it would lead to higher energy prices for consumers as well as loss of jobs. However, independent studies from the Pew Charitable Trust and the Union of Concerned Scientists showed that the clean energy proposal would result in cost savings and job growth. Also another analysis from the Congressional Budget Office showed that the bill would reduce budget deficits, or increase future surpluses, by about $24 billion over the 2010-2019 period.

President Obama also expressed a very different view from that of the opposition. He said, "Instead of increasing the deficit, it is paid for by the polluters who currently emit dangerous carbon emissions. It provides assistance to businesses and families as they make the gradual transition to clean energy technologies. It gives rural communities and farmers the opportunity to participate in climate solutions and generate new income. And above all, it will protect consumers from the costs of this transition, so that in a decade, the price to the average American will be just about a postage stamp a day."

A video of the President's address on the bill's passage, a link to the transcript, and a U.S. map showing how Congress members voted are here.

Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope said, "This bill sets the stage for the dawn of the clean energy future. While imperfect, it sets forth a set of goals America must achieve—and exceed”.

Next, the bill will move on to the Senate for further consideration.

Climate bill survives with narrow passage - 06/27/09

House accepts plan to limit emissions
WASHINGTON — For the first time ever, the House on Friday passed a plan to combat climate change, a top priority of President Obama’s that Rep. Brian Higgins said could rescue the Western New York economy. Read the full article by Jerry Zremski, News Washington Bureau Chief, in The Buffalo News.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Clean Energy Economy = Job Growth

Report by The Pew Charitable Trusts
The number of jobs in America’s emerging Clean Energy Economy grew nearly 2.5 times faster than overall jobs between 1998 and 2007, according to a report by The Pew Charitable Trusts. As defined by Pew, "a clean energy economy generates jobs, businesses and investments while expanding clean energy production, increasing energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, waste and pollution, and conserving water and other natural resources.

The emerging clean energy economy is creating well-paying jobs in every state for people of all skill levels and educational backgrounds. This emerging sector is poised to expand significantly, driven by increasing consumer demand, venture capital infusions, and federal and state policy reforms.

“The clean energy economy is poised for explosive growth,” said Lori Grange, interim deputy director of the Pew Center on the States. “These jobs are driving economic growth and environmental sustainability at a time when America needs both. There is a potential competitive advantage for federal and state policy leaders who act now to spur jobs, businesses and investments in the clean energy sector." The Pew web article is here, and their full "Clean Energy Economy" report is here [PDF].

New Opportunity Summit in Buffalo
A conference will be held to discuss new job opportunities and ways for re-thinking the way that federal stimulus dollars are spent in older industrial cities of the Great Lakes region. The conference, entitled "Great Lakes Metros and the New Opportunity Summit", will be held on June 18-19 at Buffalo State College. The conference website is here, and links to various aspects of the conference are listed in the right-side panel, here -->

Business Gets Green: June 18th
NYS Senator Antoine M. Thompson is keenly interested in growing green jobs in WNY and is continuing the Business Gets Green series in order to provide information and opportunities for synergy for green businesses and businesses that are going green in Western New York. All are welcome and admission is Free. For more information on the June 18th meeting, click here.

Related Blog Posts
New opportunities for green jobs in an environmentally-sustainable, clean energy economy were the topic of a number of earlier posts on this blog and can be found here.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

JOBS: Buffalo's Blues, DC's Green Hope

Buffalo, the third-poorest city in the nation, has the blue-collar blues, due to more lost jobs as described in today's Buffalo News commentary and business reports below.

However, there is hope for Buffalo and other cities willing to invest in going Green and taking bold steps towards creating a clean energy economy. Hope springs from Washington DC, as conveyed by Van Jones, White House Special Advisor on Green Jobs, in a video interview below.

GM’s decline is sobering at the corner bar
- 6/7/2009

"I stopped in to chat about the GM bankruptcy—the Tonawanda plant was saved, but layoffs will hack the work force to barely 600. It is a skeletal remnant of the 4,350 who toiled there 20 years ago, overspilling into neighborhood bars and businesses.", writes Don Esmond.
"Technology and cheap Third World labor and miserable management and outdated union rules hacked away the plant’s jobs and buckled the neighborhood businesses that fed off of the behemoth. The left-behind feeling lingers like a bad aftertaste. Around here, GM’s bankruptcy merely confirmed the obvious." Read the full commentary in The Buffalo News.

Economy’s new math doesn’t add up
- 6/7/2009

We're losing Old Economy jobs faster than we're gaining New Economy jobs

"The news that bankrupt General Motors Corp. would cut upwards of 260 jobs at its Tonawanda Engine Plant—as much as 30 percent of its remaining work force—was further evidence that the loss of 20th Century jobs continues unabated.", writes David Robinson.
"We’ve lost 2 percent of our service jobs over the last year, while 4.5 percent of our factory jobs have vanished. That equates to losing an average of 50 manufacturing jobs a week over the last year." Read the full report in The Buffalo News.

Local auto parts suppliers shift gears
- 6/7/2009
Parts makers are cutting back, trying to find new customers
"The General Motors Corp. bankruptcy filing last week sent shock waves through the web of Western New York companies that supply the auto maker with parts and services.", writes Matt Glynn. Some 75-85 % of every GM automobile consists of components made by company suppliers, and these suppliers are equally dependent on GM. Read the full report in The Buffalo News.

Got Hope?

The writing is on the wall, and it is carved in stone. It is time for a permanent change in the way we do business...a Big Change, a Transformation.

We can manufacture fuel-efficient vehicles, hybrid cars and future electric cars here in America. We can manufacture parts for wind turbines, solar panels, geothermal systems and we can install these power sources to provide clean, renewable energy. We can upgrade our long-neglected railroad infrastructure (high-speed rail to NYC?). We can construct and retrofit homes and buildings to be more energy efficient. We can waste less, and save money. We can pollute less, and protect public health and the planet. Doing all of this will require new jobs that are good for both the economy and the environment, spark innovation, lift people out of poverty and put Americans back to work.

Van Jones has Hope
about new jobs. He is now the White House Special Advisor on Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. Jones' hope is supported by President Obama's promise to create 5 million Green-collar jobs over the next 10 years, pledging $60 billion from the $800 billion stimulus package to invest in clean energy and research for environmentally-friendly technologies, $5 billion to weatherize homes and save energy, and $500 million for green-job training.
Watch and listen to a video interview with Van Jones about Green Jobs that was aired recently on PBS:

Business Gets Green: June 18th

Business Gets Green is a networking series for green businesses and businesses that want to explore going green. All are welcome and admission is Free.

The next session will be held on Thursday, June 18, from 5:30-7:30pm at a NEW VENUE, the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society

Please arrive early, as sessions start promptly at 5:30pm. Sessions close at 7:30pm, leaving time for networking.

1. An introduction period where each business will have 30 seconds to introduce themselves. See VIDEO here.

2. Presentations will include the following Green Business rising stars:
  • Martin Casstevens, UB-STOR Directed Energy project See VIDEO here.
  • David Miller, Clean Air Technologies - which has developed mobile emission monitoring equipment whose growth potential is explosive in the context of coming carbon cap. See VIDEO here.
  • United Materials Limited - a company that is working with composites and other materials that are key to some important developments in the wind industry.
3. A review of the successful Green Expo on May 9th and the Solar 2009 conference that ASES held in Buffalo the following week.

NYS Senator Antoine M. Thompson is keenly interested in growing green jobs in WNY and is continuing the Business Gets Green series in order to provide information and opportunities for synergy for green businesses and businesses that are going green in Western New York.

Senator Thompson is the Chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, and he recently was key to freeing up $120 Million for the Upstate Regional Blueprint Fund
. Applications to Empire State Development Corporation for this fund are due by June 15th.

Questions? Please e-mail Bill Nowak, Director of Policy Research for NYS Sen.Thompson.

Please note the change in venue to the Historical Society.

Celebrate Boundary Waters Treaty: June 12

Friday, June 12, 5pm-11pm, Central Warf, Buffalo River

[click image to enlarge]

For more information about the Boundary Waters Treaty, read the article at
Buffalo Rising and visit the website for Our Shared Waters.