Better Business for Iowa

The stance taken by the US Chamber of Commerce on climate change is damaging the confidence Americans have in business’ ability to respond to current challenges. The Chamber has been fighting climate change legislation tooth and nail on behalf of the US coal industry that makes up a very small segment of their membership. Other business have taken notice, as the list of companies leaving the Chamber is growing. The Chamber chose to entrench its stance on the lead up to the Copenhagen climate conference and this resulted in the departure of Exelon Corp, Pacific Gas & Electric, PNM Resources, Mohawk Fine Papers, and Apple.

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Nuclear power not the answer to global warming

Environment Iowa posted an important statement here today, and I encourage you to click over and read the whole thing. I want to highlight a few passages:

   *       To avoid the most catastrophic impacts of global warming, the U.S. needs to cut power plant emissions roughly in half over the next 10 years.

   *       Nuclear power is too slow to contribute to this effort. No new reactors are now under construction and building a single reactor could take 10 years or longer, while costing billions of dollars.

   *       Even if the nuclear industry somehow managed to build 100 new nuclear reactors by 2030, nuclear power could reduce total U.S. emissions over the next 20 years by only 12 percent. […]

In contrast to building new nuclear plants, efficiency and renewable energy can immediately and significantly reduce electricity consumption and carbon emissions. The report found that:

   *       Efficiency programs are already cutting electricity consumption by 1-2 percent annually in leading states, and the wind industry is already building the equivalent of three nuclear reactors per year in wind farms, many of which are in Iowa.

   *       Building 100 new reactors would require an up-front investment on the order of $600 billion dollars – money which could cut at least twice as much carbon pollution by 2030 if invested in clean energy. Taking into account the ongoing costs of running the nuclear plants, clean energy could deliver 5 times more pollution-cutting progress per dollar.

   *       Nuclear power is not necessary to provide carbon-free electricity for the long haul. The need for base-load power is exaggerated and small-scale, local energy solutions can actually enhance the reliability of the electric grid.

Click here to download “Generating Failure: How Building Nuclear Power Plants Would Set America Back in the Race Against Global Warming.” Other excerpts from the executive summary:

Nuclear power is expensive and will divert resources from more cost-effective energy strategies.

   * Building 100 new nuclear reactors would require an up-front capital investment on the order of $600 billion (with a possible range of $250 billion to $1 trillion), diverting money away from cleaner and cheaper solutions. Any up-front investment in nuclear power would lock in additional expenditures over time.

   * Over the life of a new reactor, the electricity it produces could cost in the range of 12 to 20 cents per kilowatt-hour, or more. In contrast, a capital investment in energy efficiency actually pays us back several times over with ongoing savings on electricity bills, and an investment in renewable power can deliver electricity for much less cost.

   * Per dollar spent over the lifetime of the technology, energy efficiency and biomass co-firing are five times more effective at preventing carbon dioxide pollution, and combined heat and power (in which a power plant generates both electricity and heat for a building or industrial application) is greater than three times more effective. In 2018, biomass and land-based wind energy will be more than twice as effective, and offshore wind power will be on the order of 30 percent more effective per dollar of investment, even without the benefit of the renewable energy production tax credit. (See Figure ES-2.)

   * By 2018, and possibly sooner, solar photovoltaic power should be comparable to a new nuclear reactor in terms of its per-dollar ability to prevent global warming pollution. Some analyses imply that thin film solar photovoltaic power is already more cost-effective than a new reactor. And solar power is rapidly growing cheaper, while nuclear costs are not likely to decline.

Please send this link to friends who believe we must expand nuclear power in order to meet our electricity needs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has also concluded that “the U.S. does not need to significantly expand its reliance on nuclear power to make dramatic cuts in power plant carbon emissions through 2030-and that doing so would be uneconomical.”

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Environmental Law & Policy Center Hosting a "Copenhagen Closing Party"

The Iowa Global Warming Campaign’s Copenhagen Closing Party 

When:  4pm to 6pm, Friday December 18th 

Where: Office of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, 505 5th Avenue, Suite 333, Des Moines 

Who: The Iowa Global Warming Campaign, and dozens of area residents interested in climate change and clean energy. 

(Des Moines) – World leaders have been meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark to negotiate an international treaty to fight climate change. The Environmental Law & Policy Center’s Iowa Global Warming Campaign will be hosting a “Copenhagen Closing Party” this Friday. This is a good opportunity for a local story about the President and other leaders’ attendance at the Copenhagen summit. 

We will watch President Obama and other world leaders as they address the world about the importance of an international accord to reduce greenhouse gases. Des Moines area residents will also be writing Christmas cards to Senator Grassley asking for his support of a Renewable Electricity Standard to increase clean energy production and jobs. 

“What’s been happening half a world away in Copenhagen has an effect on our actions to fight climate change and power our economy right here in Iowa” said Andrew Snow, Director of the Iowa Global Warming Campaign.

Food and Drinks will be on hand, come out and help us enjoy the last day of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.

More information please contact Christian at 515-244-3113 or cucles@iowaglobalwarming.org

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Accept it in Oslo, Earn it in Copenhagen

( - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Today is “Young and Future Generations Day” here at the International Climate Negotiations in Copenhagen, and I'm here with my wife Wahleah and our two-year-old daughter Tohaana. Along with thousands of other young people, we're doing everything in our power to convince world leaders to commit to a fair, ambitious, and legally binding international agreement based on a target of 350 parts per million (ppm), which is the safe upper limit of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Less than 400 miles away in Oslo, Norway, President Obama is accepting the Nobel Peace Prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” If ever there was a time and place to live up to that honor, now, in Copenhagen is it.

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Lots of links for a snowy day

Many Iowans will be leaving work or school early today, or perhaps not going in at all, as the season’s first big winter blast rolls in. Here’s plenty of reading to keep you busy if you are stuck at home.

Global news first: The United National Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen opened yesterday. To follow news from the proceedings, I’m reading the team of Mother Jones bloggers in Copenhagen. The Open Left blog will also post regular updates from Natasha Chart and Friends of the Earth staff who are on the ground. If you prefer a mainstream media perspective, check out The Climate Pool on Facebook, which is a collaboration among major news organizations.

Also on Monday, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson signed off on two findings that will pave the way to regulate carbon dioxide emissions under the Clean Air Act. This action follows from a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA. More background and details can be found on the EPA’s site. Environment Iowa explains the significance of the EPA’s action here. An expert panel surveyed by Grist disagreed on whether the EPA’s “endangerment finding” would affect the Copenhagen talks.

The most important reason I oppose the current draft bills on climate change kicking around Congress is that they would revoke the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon dioxide. Chris Bowers explains why that would be disastrous here.

Uganda is considering a horrific law that would subject homosexuals to long prison terms or even the death penalty. One Iowa is collecting signatures on a petition to Senator Chuck Grassley, asking him to speak out against this law. Grassley’s never going to be a gay rights advocate, but he should agree that criminalizing homosexuality is wrong. Grassley is involved with “The Family,” which is connected to the proposed bill in Uganda.

On the economic front, President Obama is expected to announce plans to use about $200 billion allocated for the Wall Street bailout to fund a jobs bill Congress will consider soon.. The Hill previewed some of the measures that may end up in that bill.

Some economists who met with Governor Chet Culver yesterday think Iowa has already reached the bottom of this recession. I hope they are right, but either way, policy-makers should listen to their ideas for reforming Iowa’s budget process. I’ll write a separate post on this important development soon. Here is the short take:

The state could base its spending on a multi-year average, such as the previous three years, or five years or seven years, said Jon Muller, president of Muller Consulting Inc., a public policy and business development consulting firm based in Des Moines.

“The way it’s always worked, when times are really good, we increase spending and we cut taxes,” Muller said. “And when times are bad, there’s pressure to increase taxes and decrease spending. And that all happens when the demand for government is at its highest,” Muller said.

The multi-year idea would flip, he said.

“In good times you would be squirreling money at way a little at a time. And in bad times, you could continue to increase spending to service the growing demands of a recession.”

It would require state lawmakers to not touch the reserves, even in times of plenty. But it would also reduce the need to tap into reserves just to get by during rainy days, the advisers said.

Regarding budget cuts, the Newton Independent reports here on a “plan to reorganize the Iowa Department of Human Services operations under two deputy directors, six rather than nine divisions, five rather than eight service areas, more part-time offices and the elimination of 78 currently vacant positions” (hat tip to Iowa Independent). Click this link for more details about the proposed restructuring.

On the political front, John Deeth analyzes possible changes the Democratic National Committee is considering for the presidential nomination process. Jerome Armstrong had a good idea the DNC won’t implement: ban caucuses everywhere but Iowa. No other state derives the party-building benefits of caucuses, but just about every state that uses caucuses for presidential selection has lower voter participation than would occur in a primary.

I haven’t written much on health care reform lately, because recent developments are so depressing. Our best hope was using the budget reconciliation process to pass a strong bill in the Senate with 51 votes (or 50 plus Joe Biden). Now that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has taken reconciliation off the table, we’re left with a variety of bad compromises to get to 60 votes in the Senate. I am not convinced the final product will be any improvement over the status quo. It will certainly be worse for millions of Americans required to buy overpriced private health insurance. If there’s a quicker way to neutralize the Democrats’ advantage with young voters, I don’t know what it is.

Speaking of health care reform, Steve Benen wrote a good piece about Grassley’s latest grandstanding on the issue.

Speaking of things that are depressing, John Lennon was shot dead 29 years ago today.  Daily Kos user noweasels remembers him and that night. Although Paul’s always been my favorite Beatle, I love a lot of John’s work too. Here’s one of his all-time best:

Share any relevant thoughts or your own favorite Lennon songs in the comments.

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Why We Fight

We fight, even against insurmountable odds, because sometimes we win.

As I get ready to head to Copenhagen this Saturday for the international climate negotiations, I'm thrilled to see the success of The Leadership Campaign and their efforts to have Massachusetts use 100% clean electricity by 2020.

On Monday, Representative William Brownsberger will file their bill, An Act to Re-power Massachusetts, in the Massachusetts House, calling on Gov. Deval Patrick to create a task force to formulate a plan to get Massachusetts to100% clean electricity by 2020.

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