Monday, January 11, 2010
Crain’s Chicago Business examines the prospects for offshore wind power in Lake Michigan. ELPC Executive Director Howard Learner says that wind farms near Chicago would trigger public opposition. ”There’s a reason lakefront property is so valuable in Chicago,” said Learner.
Offshore wind farms in the Great Lakes are less likely to be built because the Midwest has excellent sites for wind power available on land, where wind power development is much cheaper than offshore. Read the article in Crain’s Chicago Business.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
The following is a statement by Howard Learner, ELPC’s executive director, following the hearing today of the Senate Ag Committee on how climate legislation affects agriculture.
We agree with the USDA’s recent study showing that actions to reduce greenhouse gas pollution can produce long-term gains for farmers. It’s time for strong energy and climate legislation that will boost farm income and reduce the risk of global warming.
The costs of inaction are high—farmers and agricultural industries are particularly vulnerable to changes in temperature, rainfall patterns and pests that will result from unchecked climate change. Federal climate solutions and clean energy legislation can help farmers and foresters tap into growing markets in carbon offsets, renewable energy generation, advanced biofuels and energy efficiency savings.
The USDA study, among others, shows that minimal short-term costs to farmers will soon be outpaced by significant long-term gains in income, job creation, and other rural development opportunities.
With a strong climate bill, including new investments in farm-based energy and conservation, the agricultural community can help lead efforts to protect and improve our health and environment while fueling our clean energy economy.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Clean Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency
Learn more about global warming
and how you can make a difference
at GlobalWarmingsolutions.org, our
comprehensive website focused on
climate change in the Midwest.
Clean Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency
About one-third of our country’s global warming pollution comes from generating electric power. How we produce that power, and how much we generate, has a profound impact on global warming. ELPC is a leader in the Midwest working to:
- Create Markets for Renewable Energy. Renewable energy resources such as wind and solar are the fuel of the future, and passage of renewable portfolio standards (RPS) in every Midwestern state is a critical step to building a clean energy future.
- Clean Up Dirty Coal Plants. The Midwest still depends on coal-fired power plants for more than 75% of its electrical power. Coal plants are among the dirtiest sources of power. ELPC is working to bring these older plants up to modern pollution control standards.
- Promote Farm Energy. Producing energy from biofuels, biogas, wind power, and solar energy can reduce our demand for foreign oil, create jobs in America’s heartland, and reduce carbon pollution.
Motor vehicles consume almost 75% of the oil we use and produce about 26% of our global warming pollution. ELPC is a leader in the Midwest working to:
- Advance High-Speed Rail. High-speed trains in the Midwest would be three times as energy efficient as cars and six times as energy efficient as planes. Choosing rail travel over driving or flying will decrease our dependence on foreign oil and reduce air pollution that causes global warming and harms public health.
- Create a Market for Cleaner Cars and Electric Cars. Under new federal standards, average fuel economy for passenger cars will increase from 27.5 mpg in 2009 to 37.8 mpg by 2016 to 54.5 mpg by 2025. What’s more, electric vehicles are next generation clean cars — with smart strategies and the right locations, these vehicles present an exciting opportunity to reduce air pollution, save drivers up to $1,200 per year on gasoline, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
- Oppose Wasteful Highway Spending. ELPC partners with local environmental groups to oppose unnecessary highway projects, such as I-69 in Indiana, which promote sprawl and encourage more fuel consumption.
Heating, cooling, and lighting buildings is a major source of global warming pollution. ELPC is a leader in the Midwest working to:
- Implement Energy Efficient Building Codes. Doing energy efficiency “right” at the new construction and major rehab stage is by far the most cost-effective time to make these pro-environmental and energy cost reduction investments. ELPC was instrumental in getting a commercial energy efficiency building code passed in Illinois in 2004 and a residential energy efficient building code in Illinois in 2009. In 2012, ELPC negotiated language with the Homebuilders’ Association that preserved the Code’s automatic 3-year update cycle and ensured that Illinois will be among the first states in the nation to adopt the 2012 International Energy Efficiency Code.
- Demonstrate Modern, Sustainable Green Design. In 2010, ELPC moved into a state-of-the-art green office that combines open design and modern technology. It features efficient lighting, plumbing, heating and cooling, and toxic-free paints and adhesives. ELPC also chose affordable, off-the-shelf products that help demonstrate the practicality of green offices.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
On July 7, the US Senate Committee on Appropriations voted to boost funding for farm energy programs that will create more clean energy and new income for rural Americans.
The committee voted to increase fiscal year 2010 funding for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) from $60 million to $128 million. The REAP program helps farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses build their own clean energy projects.
The committee also voted to increase funding for the Biorefinery Assistance program, by $17 million.
Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl, Chair of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, was a key supporter of the funding increase. “Our nation faces historic challenges for our economy, our environment and our energy security,” Kohl said. “Farmers in Wisconsin and across the nation have much at stake and want to be part of the solution. These funds will help lead the way toward greener energy independence.”
Read ELPC’s press release here
Learn more about farm energy programs at FarmEnergy.org
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is seeking public input on a program that aims to increase the amount of electricity generated by small renewable energy projects, known as distributed generation.
ELPC recently helped South Dakota enact interconnection standards, the rules necessary to help small energy producers connect to the grid. ELPC Policy Advocate Matt McLarty said that gathering public input on its Small Renewable Energy Initiative is a ”critically important step.”
“If South Dakota is going to see its potential fully develop, especially in wind, this is a critical step to layer businesses, as well as small producers, to start a dialogue and get this going,” McLarty said.
Read coverage of the initiative in the Argus Leader
the public can comment on the initiative through this website
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Great news! Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed historic global warming solutions legislation, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (219-212). This was no easy victory – it was achieved in part through constituents’ many letters and phone calls asking legislators to vote “Yes” on the Waxman-Markey Bill. ELPC and our many partners are now turning our strategic attention to the Senate.
Read Grist story quoting ELPC Executive Director Howard Learner on the passage of the bill. “Today’s vote creates momentum for our country to reduce global warming pollution and advance clean energy solutions,” said Howard A. Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “We appreciate the Midwest and Great Plains legislators who stood up for the future and voted in favor of this vital legislation.”
Friday, June 26, 2009
With a close vote expected on historic climate and energy legislation, Wisconsin’s Lieutenant Governor Lawton wrote to the Wisconsin congressional delegation urging representatives to vote for the Waxman-Markey bill. Read Lt. Governor Lawton’s letter here.
Call from individuals may be the best way to influence this important vote. Call your legislators today and ask them to vote yes on the the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill.
Friday, June 19, 2009
ELPC Government Relations Specialist Mindi Grieve, in ELPC’s Jamestown, North Dakota office, has an OpEd in the June 20th Grand Forks Herald. The opinion piece touts North Dakota’s strong clean energy resources and the state’s potential to benefit from clean energy legislation:
“Transitioning to a new clean-energy economy will create a bright economic future for North Dakota. In fact, the transition is already under way…North Dakota stands to gain a great deal from clean energy legislation. Our state has a huge potential for wind energy, clean biofuels and other energy sources.”
Read the full OpEd.
Friday, June 12, 2009
ELPC helped create interconnection standards in South Dakota that will make it easier for renewable energy producers to connect to the grid. Those rules were officially approved on June 9, 2009 and will be effective at the end of this month. The rules will pave the way for South Dakota to take advantage of its renewable energy potential.
Read the front page story about the new rules in the Argus Leader.
Friday, May 29, 2009
On May 28, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved new state rules to simplify the connection of wind turbines, solar panels, and other clean energy systems to the electric grid. The standards create a consistent statewide process for connecting smaller renewable energy projects and avoid the uncertainty and costs associated with the previous patchwork of regulations.
ELPC has worked to put interconnection standards in place in several Midwestern states including Illinois, Iowa and Michigan, as part of its mission to create economic development and environmental progress together. The new rules must be approved by a legislative committee before becoming final.