Category Archives: Green Energy

High Design Leading to Green Jobs

Amazing New ‘Empowerhouse’ Proves That Green Doesn’t Have To Mean Expensive

By Jared Green
Beaver County Blue via The Grist

Lakiya Culley, an administrative assistant at the U.S. State Department and mother of three, just moved into one of the most innovative, energy-efficient houses in the U.S. – in a rather unlikely location.

Culley lives in Deanwood, a working class, primarily African American neighborhood of Washington, D.C., that has recently struggled with foreclosures. She is now the proud owner of an Empowerhouse, a home that produces all of its own energy, a feat made simpler by the fact that it consumes 90 percent less energy for heating and cooling than a conventional home.

Empowerhouse, which uses “passive house” technologies, was designed by students at the New School and Stevens Institute of Technology as part of the Solar Decathlon design competition, which was held on the National Mall in 2011. Developed in partnership with Habitat for Humanity and the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development, the house marks the first time in the Solar Decathlon’s history that a team partnered with civic and government organizations to make a house a reality in the District.

Solar Decathlon organizers added a new category so that teams could earn points for affordability after some criticism that homes were getting out-of-control-pricey and therefore weren’t realistic real-world models. A home from Germany, for example, cost upwards of $2 million. Each unit of the actual Empowerhouse in Deanwood (there are two apartments in the mini-complex), cost just $250,000, making it affordable in that neighborhood, according to a spokesperson at New School. The model, which was built by Habitat for Humanity volunteers, has been such a hit that six more are being planned for Ivy City, another inner-city neighborhood in the District.

Continue reading High Design Leading to Green Jobs

Solid Arguments for the Green New Deal

Wind and Solar Power Paired with Storage Could Power Grid 99.9 Percent Of The Time

By Science News via Sciencedaily.Com

Dec. 10, 2012 — Renewable Energy Could Fully Power A Large Electric Grid 99.9 Percent Of The Time By 2030 At Costs Comparable To Today’s Electricity Expenses, According To New Research By The University Of Delaware And Delaware Technical Community College.

A Well-Designed Combination Of Wind Power, Solar Power And Storage In Batteries And Fuel Cells Would Nearly Always Exceed Electricity Demands While Keeping Costs Low, The Scientists Found.

"These Results Break The Conventional Wisdom That Renewable Energy Is Too Unreliable And Expensive," Said Co-Author Willett Kempton, Professor In The School Of Marine Science And Policy In Ud’s College Of Earth, Ocean, And Environment. "The Key Is To Get The Right Combination Of Electricity Sources And Storage — Which We Did By An Exhaustive Search — And To Calculate Costs Correctly."

Continue reading Solid Arguments for the Green New Deal

Exporting Gas And Oil Will Not Erase The Trade Deficit

Western PA as a Case in Point

US trade deficit 2012

By EMS News
Beaver County Blue via Culture of Life News

The US continues the program of selling commodity raw materials while importing manufactured goods.  This futile trade deal is also not working because always, the value-added labor that goes into production is lost when a country trades this way.  If a country has a small population and lots of raw materials, it can get rich doing this but not a country with 350 million people.  Even Saudi Arabia, due to making birth control illegal, has a rapidly growing population that is eating into oil export values and soon will erase it entirely.  Japan, with half the population of the US, is seeing its trade decline, too.  While importing energy due to Fukushima.

The trade deficit was hardly mentioned during the last election.  It is as if it doesn’t exist.  Even though it is the core problem within our economy, one that has been papered over, literally, by the US printing trillions of extra dollars.  Inflation has been kept down due entirely to trade partners holding excess US dollars in FOREX accounts overseas.  But the US is desperate to generate some funds to cover the river of red ink flowing through our economy so of course, we do this by exporting lumber, gasoline, gas and oil as well as other primitive commodity products.

Naturally, this doesn’t plug the giant hole in our economy! Nonetheless, DC pundits and politicians tell us gravely, we must do this more and more and eventually it will fix things. Here is the latest delusional story from DC misleading people about the trade deficit: Natural gas exports: A boon to the economy – The Washington Post

Continue reading Exporting Gas And Oil Will Not Erase The Trade Deficit

Fracking Fukushima, Batman—Is that a Natural Gas Well Making Undergrounds Explosions Near a Nuclear Power Plant?

The Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station in Shippingport, Pennsylvania.

By Paul E McGinniss
Beaver County Blue via EcoWatch

On Oct. 3, Chesapeake Energy was issued a permit by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to drill for natural gas by fracking one mile from the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station in Shippingport, Pennsylvania. 

This is disturbing news considering in January evidence proved that Ohio earthquakes were caused by a fracking wastewater injection well.

Shockingly, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) regulation and oversight rules do not cover any related activity off site, including wastewater injection wells, oil and gas drilling—including fracking—or any other types of projects that are in near proximity to nuclear power plants.

So who oversees how drilling for oil and natural gas and related activity might affect the safety of nuclear power plants? Apparently no one.

According to Shale Reporter, an indendent website that provides an unbiased presentation of information about Marcellus Shale issues:

Continue reading Fracking Fukushima, Batman—Is that a Natural Gas Well Making Undergrounds Explosions Near a Nuclear Power Plant?

PA Gamesa Worker on Tour Calling on Congress to Save Clean Energy Jobs

Area Leaders Join Touring Worker Facing Furloughs to Call for Renewal of the Production Tax Credit to Save 37,000 American Jobs, Ensure U.S. Can Compete in Global Clean Energy Industry

By Blue-Green Alliance

PITTSBURGH (September 25, 2012) Local labor and environmental leaders today joined a furloughed worker from wind turbine-maker Gamesa at the Energy Innovation Center in Pittsburgh to call on Congress to support an immediate extension of the Production Tax Credit. The lack of action on the 2.2-cent per kilowatt-hour tax incentive for wind energy — set to expire at the end of the year — was directly blamed by Gamesa for their decision to institute furloughs at two plants in Pennsylvania, including the plant of Ryan Motel, a United Steelworkers Local 2635 member who is currently on furlough.

“My job is at stake, but so are the jobs of many others,” said Motel. “If companies aren’t building wind farms because they’re not sure what their return on their investment will be, they aren’t buying our blades. My message to Congress is simple: end this uncertainty, save my job, and save the jobs of thousands of people like me across the country.”

Gamesa employs approximately 900 workers in the U.S., with 800 of those jobs in the state of Pennsylvania. Earlier this summer, 165 workers at two plants — in Fairless Hills in Bucks County and Ebensberg in Central Pennsylvania — were given notice that they were being furloughed due to lack of demand and the company attributed that directly to lack of certainty on the fate of the Production Tax Credit

Motel will join other workers in the wind industry in Ohio, Virginia and Michigan to call on Congressional leadership to bring the Production Tax Credit up for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The American Wind Energy Association estimates that the Production Tax Credit will allow the wind industry to grow from the current 75,000 jobs to 500,000 jobs by 2030. Extending the Production Tax Credit through 2016 would increase total wind-supported jobs to 95,000, with total wind investment growing to $16.3 billion. However, without an extension, America stands to lose 37,000 jobs.

Continue reading PA Gamesa Worker on Tour Calling on Congress to Save Clean Energy Jobs

Romney’s Green Energy Job Destruction Plan: Hurting GOP Governors to Hurt Obama

Wind Subsidies Raise a Storm in Heartland States

By Jim Malewitz via PEW’s Stateline

Across the plains of Iowa, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas and South Dakota, tall turbines with sleek blades dot once-clear horizons, churning out carbon-free energy to add to the nation’s power grid. The blades seem to wave a greeting, on windy days at least, to whoever drives across those open spaces.

The wind industry’s rapid growth has been cause for excitement among both Republican and Democratic policymakers in the heartland states. They welcome the jobs that come with it. In South Dakota, which has the capacity to generate almost a quarter of its energy from the turbines, “wind is not a partisan issue,” says Hunter Roberts, the state’s energy director.

But it is a controversial issue in Washington these days, threatening to stop the turbine boom before it progresses much further. Fiscal hawks in Congress — those who don’t represent wind states — question whether Congress can still afford to dole out the generous tax credit that has helped fuel the industry’s rise. Wind energy credits are just one of several renewable energy incentives set to expire at year’s end.

Wind-state governors, most of them Republicans, have loudly called for the credit’s renewal, writing letters to Congress and speaking through the media. But with the expiration deadline looming, the governors have grown curiously quiet on the issue. That’s since Mitt Romney voiced his opposition to the subsidy, shortly before releasing an energy plan that is heavy on oil and natural gas investments and light on wind and other renewables.

Continue reading Romney’s Green Energy Job Destruction Plan: Hurting GOP Governors to Hurt Obama

Shayna Metz and Beaver County’s Marcellus Awareness Committee Defending Our Water!

Shayna Metz, Center, at Protest

Industry Woman Cycles Against Fracking Current

By Bill Utterback
Beaver County Times

August 4, 2012 – On a cross-country cycling trip created to promote clean water as a priority over Marcellus shale drilling, Shayna Metz of Industry waded into the Youghiogheny River. She was moved to poetry.

“I push against the current … I wade deeper and stand and fight,” she wrote in an online blog.

Metz, a Geneva College graduate, pushed against the surging current of natural gas drilling by serving as project coordinator for the Tour de Frack, a bicycle trip that began July 14 in Butler County and ended July 28-29 on the lawn of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. The cyclists, and a bus full of supporters from western Pennsylvania who joined them, participated in the "Stop the Frack Attack" rally, labeled the first national anti-fracking event.

Continue reading Shayna Metz and Beaver County’s Marcellus Awareness Committee Defending Our Water!

‘Fracking’: Myth Meets Realties


A natural gas rig side by side with homes in Washington County, PA | B. Mark Schmerling

Fractured Lives

Detritus of Pennsylvania’s Shale Gas Boom

By Edward Humes

Progressive America Rising via Sierra Club

The supple hills of southwestern Pennsylvania, once known for their grassy woodlands, red barns, and one-stoplight villages, bristle with new landmarks these days: drilling rigs, dark green condensate tanks, fields of iron conduits lumped with hissing valves, and long, flat rectangles carved into hilltops like overgrown swimming pools, brimming with umber wastewater.

Tall metal methane flaring stacks periodically fill the night with fiery glares and jet engine roars. Roadbeds of crushed rock, guarded by No Trespassing signs, lie like fresh sutures across hayfields, deer trails, and backyards, admitting fleets of tanker trucks to the wellheads of America’s latest energy revolution.

This is the new face of Washington County, the leading edge of the nation’s breakneck shale gas boom. Natural gas boosters, President Barack Obama among them, have lauded it as a must-have, 100-year supply of clean, cheap energy that we cannot afford to pass up. However, recent data suggest that supplies of shale gas may last for only 11 years and that the extreme measures needed to recover it may make it a dirtier fuel than coal. But that hasn’t slowed the dramatic transformation of gas-rich regions from rural Pennsylvania to urban Fort Worth, Texas.

Driving this juggernaut is the amalgam of industrial technologies collectively known as "hydraulic fracturing," or "fracking," which releases the gases (the main component of which is methane) hidden deep within layers of ancient, splintery shale. With five major shale "plays" concentrated in eight states, and more under development, America has been transformed from a net importer of natural gas into a potential exporter.

Perched atop the 7,000-foot-deep Marcellus Shale formation, which undergirds most of Appalachia, Washington County not only boasts enormous reserves of methane but also leads the state in producing far more frack-worthy "wet gas" products: propane, butane, ethane, and other valuable chemicals that can mean the difference between a money pit and a money gusher. Although central Pennsylvania has more wells, this wet gas makes Washington County, in industry parlance, a "honeypot."

The lure of million-dollar payouts has led many farmers, homeowners, school boards, and town commissions to lease out their subterranean energy wealth. Royalty payments on leases so far have topped half a billion dollars statewide–money that, for some, is literally saving the farm.

"An unprecedented economic impact," Matt Pitzarella has called it. He’s spokesman for the leading driller in this part of the state, Texas-based Range Resources, which in 2004 fracked the first successful Marcellus Shale wells–at the time a shot in the dark and now believed to be tapping the second-largest natural gas field in the world. Pitzarella ticks off stories of poor families who hit the gas-lease lottery and are now able to afford college tuition, new cars, and home makeovers.

But unlocking half-billion-year-old hydrocarbon deposits carries a price, and not everyone shares in the bonanza. For every new shale well, 4 million to 8 million gallons of water, laced with potentially poisonous chemicals, are pumped into the ground under explosive pressure–a violent geological assault. And once unleashed, the gas requires a vast industrial architecture to be processed and moved from the wells to the world. Imagine the pipes, compressors, ponds, pits, refineries, and meters each shale well in Pennsylvania demands, planted next to horse farms, cornfields, houses, and schools. Then multiply by 5,000.

Continue reading ‘Fracking’: Myth Meets Realties

More Worries and Battles, Our Air as well as Our Water

Three of Dirtiest Coal-Fired Plants

in Western Pa., one in Beaver County

By Don Hopey
Beaver County Blue via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Dec 8, 2011 – Three of the 10 dirtiest coal-fired power plants in the nation are located in Western Pennsylvania, according to a new report that also ranks the state first overall in emissions of toxic air pollutants like arsenic, chromium, hydrochloric acid, lead and mercury.

The report was issued Wednesday by the Environmental Integrity Project, Earthjustice and the Sierra Club, and was based on the self-reported industry emissions in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 Toxics Release Inventory.

The report ranked Genon’s Shawville Power Plant in Clearfield County third dirtiest in the nation, followed by EME’s Homer City Power Plant in Indiana County (seventh) and FirstEnergy’s Bruce Mansfield Power Plant in Beaver County (ninth).

States ranking behind Pennsylvania for worst overall power plant emissions are, in order, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Texas. Pennsylvania is downwind from all but Texas.

Pennsylvania leads the nation in emissions of lead and arsenic, and has increased its arsenic emissions over the last decade, from 15,861 pounds in 2001 to 17,666 pounds in 2010.

The EPA proposed the first national standards to control toxic pollution from power plants — mainly mercury, fine particles, heavy metals and acid gases — in March 2011 but delayed promulgating them in September. The EPA is poised to adopt them later this month.

Read more: