Category Archives: Green Jobs

A Closer Look at Climate Accord–and Our Congressman

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By Tom Prigg
TribLive Op-Ed

July 14, 2017 – This is in response to Keith Rothfus’ recent op-ed, “A better ‘climate’ for America,” and honestly, it’s difficult to know where to begin.

In reference to the Paris accord, Rothfus claimed, “The American people would never approve of a deal so harmful to their security and prosperity.”

Yet, as The Atlantic reported, 70 percent of Americans want the United States to remain in the Paris accord.

Rothfus argued that during the 2014 polar vortex, natural gas failed to provide energy to capacity while coal and nuclear energy did just fine.

However, PJM Vice President Craig Glazer stated at the time that coal generation was stymied by “frozen coal or wet coal, frozen limestone, frozen condensate lines, frozen fly ash transfer equipment, cooling tower basin freezing, and freezing of injection water systems for emissions control equipment.”

Rothfus suggest the coal industry’s recent woes are due to President Obama’s policies. While some policies may have affected the coal industry output, the real driving force has been its own market forces.

Charles Bayless, former chief executive of Tucson Electric Co. and Illinois Power, said, “A gas plant is much cheaper to build than a coal plant and it is much simpler to run.”

Continue reading A Closer Look at Climate Accord–and Our Congressman

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Green Jobs and the Ohio: A Bold New Vision for Restoring America’s Most Polluted River

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The Ohio is the archetype of a “working river.” Its near-thousand-mile course connects cities like Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Louisville and is lined with industrial facilities and power plants. In this February 2016 photo, a coal barge pushes past the industrial town of Marietta, Ohio. Photo: Mike Tewkesbury via Flickr

By Kara Holsopple

AlleghenyFront.org

October 21, 2016 – In many ways, the Ohio River is an unsung resource for the region it serves. The Ohio’s near-thousand-mile course flows through Pennsylvania and five other states before emptying into the Mississippi. It’s a source of drinking water for more than five million people. But its long legacy as a “working river” has also made it the most polluted in the country. Today, many cities and towns along the Ohio are rethinking their relationship to the river—and weighing how a large-scale restoration effort could be critical to the region’s future. But just how do we get there? As part of our Headwaters series, we talked with the National Wildlife Federation’s Collin O’Mara, who’s hoping to ignite a new way of thinking about one of the region’s most vital natural resources. (Photo: Shannon Tompkins via Flickr)

The Allegheny Front: So tell us why the National Wildlife Federation is turning its attention to the Ohio River.

Collin O’Mara: One of the things that we’re seeing is that there have been amazing investments made in the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay. But these investments tend to be in places that are seen as destinations: Folks plan vacations or retire or have second homes in some of these places. But we’re not seeing the same level of investments in what I would consider the “working waterways”—places like the Allegheny River leading into the Ohio River Valley, or places like the Delaware River. But 25 million people live in the Ohio River Valley Basin—that’s almost a tenth of the country. And yet we’ve seen virtually no investment of federal resources in trying to clean up the legacy pollution. The Ohio is still the most polluted waterway in the entire country. Over the last 50 years, between the Clean Water Act and reducing the direct discharge of pollutants into the water, there has been some progress. But folks don’t plan fishing vacations around going to the Allegheny, even though cities are seeing investments in their riverfronts as a way to revitalize their downtowns. So the next thing is having that investment not stop at the river’s edge—literally. We can have the water itself become a place you can swim, fish, recreate and enjoy the benefits that come from that.

AF: There have been some efforts to cooperate around water in this region, but they have largely stalled. So what can be done to move that effort forward?

CO: We’ve been working with some of the mayors and different advocacy groups in the region, trying to just begin talking about the Ohio River as a system and [develop] a vision for the entire watershed. There’s been some good work in places like the Beaver River; there are a bunch of groups in Kentucky working on the Green or the Cumberland. So we’re trying to unite those voices under a common vision. This has been done in places like the Chesapeake or the Great Lakes. So it’s really about trying to have a vision so folks are as excited about restoring these iconic waterways that, in many ways, help build our country.

AF: Well, it seems like the most exciting thing happening on the Ohio recently is the ethane cracker facility that Shell is planning to build near Pittsburgh. People are excited about the jobs and the economic development around that. How do you strike a balance between restoration and economic development?

CO: So often, in places that are working waterways, we basically treat these water bodies as simply a support for larger industrial facilities. And you see it with crackers or refineries, and you have many of those across the entire basin. Those jobs are important, but we don’t value the economic loss when you degrade these waterways. Right now across America, the outdoor economy is about a $646 billion economy. It employs more than six million people. And that puts it on par with many of the largest industries in the country. A lot of those jobs are water-dependent jobs related to fishing or swimming or outdoor activities. So one of the cases we’re trying to make is that it doesn’t have to be “either/or.” The technologies exist now that we can actually have some industrial facilities and still not have to contaminate the waterway. The old dichotomy of having to choose between the economy or the environment really isn’t true, and there are places in the country that are making those choices that they want both. What we’re trying to figure out is how do we work with leaders across the region to prioritize this. The cities are already making investments. In Pittsburgh, for instance, there’s obviously a focus on the fact that the water is what separates Pittsburgh from other cities in the region. So the question is, how do you take the next step?

AF: So do you imagine a scenario where Pittsburgh is more like the Chesapeake Bay—where it’s more of a recreational hub and that becomes a viable alternative to more industry?

CO: I absolutely do. Obviously, you have PCBs and dioxins and other things we have to get out of the water column that are legacy pollution. It’s not cheap, but it can be done. But there are amazing opportunities. (Continued)

Continue reading Green Jobs and the Ohio: A Bold New Vision for Restoring America’s Most Polluted River

A Step Forward on Green Jobs, But Will the GOP Block It?

Montgomery Locks and Dam on Beaver County: Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Dan Jones said locks and dams funding on the Ohio River in Pennsylvania and West Virginia will receive nearly $47.97 million based on President Barack Obama’s proposed numbers. The Montgomery Locks and Dam in Potter Township could be among those receiving funding.

Locks and dams funding increases for southwestern Pennsylvania

By David Taube

Beaver County Times

Feb 3 , 2015 – WASHINGTON, D.C. – An Army Corps of Engineers spokesman said the president’s proposed budget calls for significant increased spending on the Ohio River.

Spokesman Dan Jones said locks and dams funding on the Ohio River in Pennsylvania and West Virginia will receive nearly $47.97 million based on President Barack Obama’s proposed numbers. Typically, Jones added, those figures do not change drastically from what’s approved by Congress.

That compares to a previous budget of $30.8 million, he said.

The federal government also will invest $58 million in unallocated dollars to locks and dams in western Pennsylvania, which involves funding already approved by Congress and the administration, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said in a statement Monday.

The unallocated money relates to the current 2015 federal fiscal year, which began Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30. The president’s budget is for the upcoming 2016 federal fiscal year, which begins this fall.

Casey had asked federal staff for that other investment so a lower Monongahela River project could begin constructing a river chamber portion and support existing contracts, he wrote in a letter to Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for civil works.

It was not immediately clear if or how that $58 million change could benefit other locks and dams projects in the state as Casey’s press office stated it would.

‘Moral Mondays’ Launched in Western PA

Protesters Rally for Officials to ‘Do the Right Thing’

People gather at the Beaver County Courthouse to raise awareness of several social and economic issues.

By Kirstin Kennedy

Beaver County Times

Oct 28, 2014 – BEAVER — Everyone knows the First Amendment gives citizens the right to assemble. Few regularly exercise it.

But that wasn’t the case Monday evening on the steps of the Beaver County Courthouse, when over 30 people gathered with signs and chants.

Willie Sallis, president of the NAACP in Beaver County, said he helped to gather the protest to pressure elected officials to "just do the right thing."

"What is the moral thing to do? … That’s what we’re trying to keep alive with the union and the civil rights leaders," he said. Sallis paired with several other organizations — including members of local labor unions — for the rally, with the hope of raising awareness of several social and economic issues.

Inspired by a recent lecture given locally by the Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, Sallis dubbed the rally Moral Monday.

"What’s the right thing to do for the poor?" Sallis said. "What’s the right thing to do for health benefits? What’s the right thing to do when it comes to jobs? What’s the right thing to do when it comes to minimum wages? All we’re saying is, ‘Look, do the right thing.’"

On the courthouse lawn, participants chanted, "Keep it fair; we care."

Continue reading ‘Moral Mondays’ Launched in Western PA

One Small Step Nearby Giving Us a Glimpse of a Green Future

Example of solar charger in Sofia, Bulgaria

Mall at Robinson to debut solar car-charging stations

Tim Schooley
Beaver County Blue via Pittsburgh Business Times

The Mall at Robinson on July 24 will unveil new electric car-charging stations powered by solar panels located above the entrance of the mall’s food court.

With the chargers donated by Wesco and Eaton, the new stations are a partnership between the mall’s owner — Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises — Green Roads Energy LLC and Day & Night Solar.

The charging stations are free to use for mall guests.

A kiosk will be installed in the food court within the next week so shoppers can monitor the energy created by the solar panels, according to a release issued by Forest City Enterprises.

The mall also expects to offer loyalty promotions to shoppers who use the chargers, including the chance to earn a $25 gift card for using the station ten times.

The unveiling of the station is scheduled for Thursday, July 24, at 11:30 a.m.

New Castle Firm Takes the Green High Road

 

 

Battery technology grows to meet demands of renewable energy

By Michael Sanserino
Beaver County Blue via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

June 24, 2014 – Those skeptical of renewable energy as a viable power source often note that the wind doesn’t always blow nor does the sun always shine.

But advancements in battery technology are helping keep energy flowing on those dark, windless days.

“It’s happening at a record pace,” said Lisa Salley, vice president and general manager of energy and power technologies at Underwriter Laboratories, a Northbrook, Ill.-based independent safety consulting and certification organization.

The goal is to increase the usability of renewable energy, which currently accounts for 21 percent of all electricity generated worldwide but just 11 percent of consumption, according to the Energy Information Administration.

“One of the areas that’s been neglected in the past has been the storage component of renewable energy sources, and that includes wind and solar, of course,” said Tom Granville, CEO of Axion Power International.

That, however, is changing. Power, chemical and material science companies, locally and elsewhere, are investing heavily in battery technology. Some are improving existing technology while others are developing new chemistry to create entirely new battery structures.

Continue reading New Castle Firm Takes the Green High Road

Ohio Senate Republicans Launch Attack On State’s Renewable Energy Law

Will Pennsylvania Be Next in the ALEC Crosshairs?

Despite Fracking, PA has made some progress on renewable energy.

Wind farm in Paulding County, Ohio.

Wind farm in Paulding County, Ohio. CREDIT: Shutterstock

By Matt Kasper

Beaver county Blue via Climate Progress

March 31, 2014 – After multiple failed attempts to roll back Ohio’s clean energy and energy efficiency standards, Republicans in the state senate aren’t giving up, releasing another bill on Friday that takes aim at the law. The measure stems from a previous bill pushed by Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), member of the corporate-funded, anti-clean energy group the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Seitz’s legislation, S.B. 58, would have completely repealed the standards but the bill never made it out of the Senate Public Utilities Committee.

Republican leadership took the debate out of Seitz’s hands and drafted new legislation. The proposed bill, S.B. 310, sponsored by Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville), would freeze the clean energy and energy efficiency standards at 2014 levels while a committee, established by the legislation, studies how much the existing standards cost customers and what the costs would be if the state resumed the standards.

The law establishing Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards, S.B. 221, passed both the House and Senate by a wide margin and was signed into law by Gov. Ted Strickland in 2008. The measure requires investor-owned utilities to provide 25 percent of their electricity supply from alternative energy resources by 2025. The definition of alternative energy resources includes clean coal, advanced nuclear power, distributed combined heat and power, and certain solid waste conversion technologies.

Continue reading Ohio Senate Republicans Launch Attack On State’s Renewable Energy Law