September 26, 2013
by Robert Friedman
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Time For A Power Shift!

Robert Friedman, Youth Engagement Coordinator, New York City
What does it take to get over 10,000 young people from all across the country together in one place around one cause? No, not Miley Cyrus twerking. Building a movement to make… Continue reading

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September 25, 2013
by Elizabeth Shope
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TransCanada’s Energy East tar sands pipeline faces major hurdles

Elizabeth Shope, Advocate, Washington, D.C.
This blog was jointly written with Shelley Kath, Senior Consultant to NRDC and Joshua Axelrod, NRDC Legal Intern
In April 2013, Calgary-based pipeline company TransCanada – the same comp… Continue reading

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September 24, 2013
by Elizabeth Shope
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President Obama and Secretary Kerry should consider tar sands impacts on water when making decision about Keystone XL pipeline

Elizabeth Shope, Advocate, Washington, D.C.
Today, NRDC, Environmental Defence Canada, 350.org, Forest Ethics, and the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation released a new report Reality Check: Water and the Tar Sands which details the serio… Continue reading

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September 24, 2013
by Melissa Lin Perrella
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Five Year Anniversary of the Port of LA’s Clean Truck Program

Melissa Lin Perrella, Staff Attorney, Southern California Air Project, Santa Monica
Nearly five years ago, in October 2008, the Port of Los Angeles began banning old, polluting trucks from doing business at the Port.  The Port&rsqu… Continue reading

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September 19, 2013
by Grace Gill
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India Green News: India resists US efforts for HFC phase-outs, garners support from BASIC nations

Grace Gill, Program Assistant, CMI/India/Climate Center, New York
September 12-18, 2013
India Green News is a selection of news highlights about environmental and energy issues in India
Clean Energy
Oscar Fernandes defends opposition to… Continue reading

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September 18, 2013
by Max Baumhefner
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California Helps Drivers Plug-in and Replace Clunkers with Cleaner Cars

Max Baumhefner, Attorney, Clean Vehicles & Fuels, San Francisco

To transform the vehicle fleet, you need to work on both ends — accelerating the purchase of cleaner new vehicles and the retirement of old clunkers. The California legislature is sending a package of bills to Governor Brown’s desk that does just that. Taken as a whole, these policies will ensure Californians at all income levels enjoy the environmental, public health, and financial benefits of cleaner, more efficient vehicles.

Assembly Bill 8, authored by Henry Perea (a companion to Senate Bill 11, authored by Fran Pavley) extends funding for the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, which, amongst other things, provides rebates for new low and zero emission light, medium, and heavy duty vehicles. The bill was co-sponsored by the American Lung Association in California, CALSTART, and the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association, and was supported by a broad-based coalition including NRDC. Senate Bill 359, authored by Ellen Corbett, provides supplementary funding needed to meet growing market demand for the same rebate programs. Together, these bills will ensure California remains the nation’s largest market for plug-in electric vehicles, with almost all of the nation’s medium and heavy duty electric trucks and about a third of the nation’s 130,000 modern plug-in cars (see green line below).

PEV Sales.png

Meanwhile, Senator Corbett’s “Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Open Access Act” (Senate Bill 454) will help ensure the Californian’s driving those vehicles will have a place to plug them in when they’re not enjoying the convenience of re-fueling at home at a price that’s equivalent to dollar-a-gallon gasoline.  Likewise, Marc Levine’s Assembly Bill 1092 will help improve access to charging stations for drivers who live in multi-family buildings. 

Transforming the state’s vehicle market isn’t just about getting more clean cars off dealers lots, but also about taking the dirtiest vehicles off the streets. Senate Bill 459, authored by Fran Pavley, aims to reform the state’s Enhanced Fleet Modernization Program, which provides drivers with cash incentives to retire older, higher polluting vehicles and replace them with cleaner cars and trucks. It’s estimated that three-quarters of vehicular pollution in the state comes from one quarter of the cars and trucks on the road.  While the state has had some success in helping people retire those older vehicles, the portion of the program which provides vouchers for consumers to replace those clunkers with cleaner vehicles has yet to be successfully implemented.

Senate Bill 459 will reform the program to help Californians, especially lower income Californians, both retire their old clunkers and replace them with more efficient cars and trucks. This will not only clean our air, but help families that spend a disproportionate share of household income on transportation expenses.  Replacing old vehicles with even moderately more efficient vehicles can provide significant savings; upgrading to a 25 mile per gallon vehicle from a 15 mile per gallon vehicle would save a California driver approximately $1,600 every year.

It’s worth noting that about 95 percent of vehicle parts are recycled, so the package of policies described above will literally be turning old clunkers into cleaner, safer new cars and trucks, accelerating the transformation of the vehicle fleet, cleaning our air, and easing pain at the pump.

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September 18, 2013
by Peter Lehner
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Date Labels on Food Are Unrelated to Food Safety and Lead to Massive Waste

Peter Lehner, Executive Director, New York City
Forty percent of the food we produce in this country never gets eaten. That’s nearly half our food, wasted–not just on our plates, but in our refrigerators and pantries, in our groc… Continue reading

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September 16, 2013
by Denée Reaves
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Latin America Green News: renewable energy benefits in Chile, greenhouse gas reductions in Costa Rica, endangered species conservation in Mexico and the degradation of the Amazon

Denée Reaves, Program Assistant, International, Washington, D.C.

Latin America Green News is a selection of weekly news highlights about environmental and energy issues in Latin America.

September 9-15, 2013 

Chile

The Chilean government is revisiting its approach to the distribution of thermal power plants across the country. The Ministry of Energy is carrying out a land use zoning analysis to relaunch the Piñera administration’s initiative to identify those zones in which construction of the plants will generate the least impact on the environment and on the communities living there. (El Mercurio 9/9/2013)

A study launched by Acera, PricewaterhouseCoopers and NRDC has determined that, though reaching Chile’s 20% non-conventional renewable energy (ERNC) target will require greater investments in capital, these costs will be compensated for by the savings in fuel.  By 2028, according to the study, the net benefit for the Chilean economy will be USD $1.6 billion. Increasing the proportion of ERNC in Chile’s energy sector is also expected to generate higher employment and contribute more to Chile’s GDP in the long term. (Pulso 9/13/2013)

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is seeking to decrease its greenhouse gas emissions by exploring agricultural techniques that require less chemical fertilizer. Chemical fertilizers emit high amounts of nitrous oxide, which has a global warming potential much higher than carbon dioxide. In recent years, Costa Rica has used almost double the amount of these fertilizers as some of its Central American neighbors, making agriculture a top contributor (40%) to national greenhouse gas emissions.  (La Nación 9/9/2013)

A decree was signed this week to facilitate the creation of a Carbon Council, an interdisciplinary team that will coordinate the local carbon market. The decree is effectively a green light for the formation of a carbon market in Costa Rica, which will allow those companies that comply with the national carbon neutrality declaration to buy credits for the emissions that they are unable to reduce. (El Financiero 9/10/2013)

Mexico

In response to reports of crocodile overpopulation and multiple crocodile attacks, the Mexican Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) authorized the commercial exploitation of crocodiles in the state of Colima. The permits will be granted to ejidos and cooperatives associated with fisheries in Colima and, according to the Colima’s delegate from SEMARNAT, are intended to enable a controlled exploitation of the crocodile population for the purpose of protecting the public. (Vanguardia 9/11/2013)

Over 700 endangered loggerhead sea turtles were stranded along thirty miles of Mexico’s Baja California coastline so far this year. Though teams of both American and Mexican scientists have identified bycatch in fishing nets as the principle cause, the Mexican government claims that bycatch accounted for only 1% of the deaths. Under existing legislation, the United States has the authority to enact certain sanctions against countries that fail to uphold wildlife protection treaties. The Mexican administration could find itself under a United States trade embargo if it fails to protect loggerheads from unsustainable fishing practices. (Center for Biological Diversity 9/11/2013)

The United Nations Environment Programme awarded the “Champions of the Earth” Prize to Martha Isabel Ruiz Corzo, a Mexican environmentalist, for her conservation work in the Mexican state of Querétaro.  Ms. Ruiz Corzo directs the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, the most biodiverse natural protected area in the country – “protected” because she herself led the activist group that convinced the Mexican government in 1997 to grant the Sierra Gorda its Biosphere Reserve status.  The Sierra Gorda is one of the country’s few examples of nature reserves born of social initiative, hence the awarding of Ms. Ruiz Corzo’s prize in the category of “Inspiration and Action”.  (El Milenio 9/11/2013)

Regional

A new study suggests that climate change, in the form of rising temperatures and decreasing rainfall, will transform part of the Brazilian Amazon into a savannah.  In addition to causing biodiversity loss and increases in greenhouse gas emissions, this transformation is expected to affect the land and water resources that Brazilian agriculture depends on.  (El País 9/13/2013)

In the Peruvian amazon primary forests, or forests that have not been significantly disturbed by humans, are facing increasing threats from palm oil plantations. In addition to four new projects proposed by Peru’s Grupo Palmas that would require more than 23,000 hectares of primary forest deforestation, foreign companies are also pursuing approval to establish palm oil plantations in Peru, putting the Amazon in further danger. (IDL-Reporteros  9/12/2013)

For more news on the issues we care about visit our Latin America Green News archive or read our other International blogs.

 

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September 16, 2013
by Kate Poole
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Try as They Might, the Natural Resources Agency Can’t Debunk the Portfolio Approach to Resolving Threats to the Delta

Kate Poole, Senior Attorney, San Francisco
Last week our Natural Resources Agency, the umbrella agency responsible for protecting California’s coast, ocean, wildlife and forests and for managing our water, released a deeply f… Continue reading

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September 13, 2013
by Peter Miller
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Clean Energy Research, Development, and Demonstration Program Approved

Peter Miller, Senior Scientist, San Francisco
The California Legislature just voted to establish a $162 million annual clean energy research, development, and demonstration program, allowing the newly minted Electric Program Investment … Continue reading

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September 13, 2013
by MoreRecycling
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Changes in Saturn’s moon Titan’s surface brightness point to cryovolcanism

Changes in surface brightness on Titan observed over four years by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft have added to evidence that cryovolcanism is active on Saturn’s largest Moon. Astronomers compared many volcanic-like features, such as flows, calderas and craters, with similar geological features found on Earth to study the possibility of cryovolcanic activity within regions observed close to Titan’s equator. Continue reading

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September 12, 2013
by Kaid Benfield
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Washington Post misses the point on suburban roads

Kaid Benfield, Special Counsel for Urban Solutions, Washington, DC
 
Loudoun County was once one of the most beautiful in Virginia.  It was characterized by rolling hills, horse farms, other working lands, historic towns and … Continue reading

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September 11, 2013
by Kimi Narita
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Chicago City Council Passes Energy Use Benchmarking Ordinance, Aldermen Show Impressive Leadership

Kimi Narita, MAP Energy Fellow , Chicago
Today, Chicago’s City Council passed the Energy Use Benchmarking Ordinance by a vote of 32-17.  We thank the City Council for recognizing the importance of addressing energy efficien… Continue reading

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September 9, 2013
by Denée Reaves
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Latin America Green News: Chile’s inefficient buildings, energy in Costa Rica, green building in Mexico, unauthorized palm plantations in Peruvian Amazon

Denée Reaves, Program Assistant, International, Washington, D.C.

Latin America Green News is a selection of weekly news highlights about environmental and energy issues in Latin America.

September 1-7, 2013

Chile

Specialists in the Sustainable Design Group at the Universidad Católica’s Architecture Faculty found the buildings—especially those built recently—are very inefficient in their use of energy. Since buildings use approximately 20-25% of the country’s total energy consumption, the specialists find it worrying that the construction and design of the buildings does not include plans to reduce their energy usage, and cite glass buildings at the new Costanera Center as examples of buildings that have international energy certifications but are in fact very energy inefficient. (El Mercurio 9/6/2013)

The Chilean parliament passed a law to incentivize the development of non-conventional renewable energies (NCREs), setting a target to reach 20% NCREs by 2050.  The Minister of Energy, Jorge Bunster, emphasized that the law does not contain subsidies for NCREs; rather, it aims to ensure that they can compete fairly in the energy market. Companies will commit to introducing NCREs incrementally, in annual increases varying from 0.5% to 2%. (Diario Financiero 9/4/2013)

E-CL, one of the main energy generation companies in the north of Chile, submitted its environmental impact documents for a new 300 MW solar plant called “Pampa Camarones.” The $620 million investment would be built in eight six-month phases, and would be located 50 kilometers from Arica. (Diario Financiero 9/6/2013)

Costa Rica

The Costa Rican General Comptroller has endorsed financing of the Reventazón Hydropower Project, finally enabling completion of a 305.5 MW hydropower plant on the Reventazón River in the province of Limón. Construction of the plant, under the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), is currently about 60% complete and expected to be in operation by the end of 2016. (La Nación 9/4/2013)

The Costa Rican Petroleum Refinery (RECOPE) will seek out third party opinions from Petrobrás, Pemex, Incae and other regional experts on the feasibility studies carried out on its proposed refinery expansion plan to assess if any of the studies can be salvaged. The expansion plan, a joint venture between RECOPE and China National Petroleum Company (CNPC), was halted earlier this year when the office of the Comptroller found irregularities in the proposal’s feasibility plan. The Comptroller instructed RECOPE that it could not rely on the plan because it was produced by a company affiliated with CNPC.  While the third party experts review the plan, RECOPE is developing new terms of reference to contract a new study if necessary. (La Nación 09/06/2013)

Mexico

In order to reach its goal to increase renewable energy production by 20% by 2024, Mexico will have to invest $2 billion in renewables each year, according to a representative of the Mexican Ministry of Energy. This increase will require a quadrupling of Mexican renewable energy investment by 2024. As over 80% of Mexico’s energy consumption is currently from fossil fuels, analysts are demanding that reform of the Mexican energy sector include major incentives for renewable energy production. (CNN Expansión 9/4/2013)

Mexico Power Group and Mexico Volkswagen have signed a 20-year agreement under which Mexico Volkswagen will purchase 130 MW of renewable energy from the wind park, La Bufa, which is currently in development in Zacatecas, Mexico. The energy will be employed in two of Mexico Volkswagen’s automobile factories, including one that is the largest automobile factory in North America. Utilizing this energy will save the company 3.6 million dollars in electric costs and reduce CO2 emissions by 140 thousand tons annually. (Uniradio Informa 9/4/2013).

The Ministry of Economy has published a new voluntary standard on green building and materials, that will come into effect within the next 60 days. The new green building standard establishes minimum environmental criteria and requirements to ensure occupant welfare, environmental impact mitigation and sustainable use of natural resources.  Currently the manufacturing and constructions sectors emit 11.3 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gases, or 56.74 million tons of CO2e. Mexico’s National Development Plan and National Climate Change Strategy recognize that sustainable buildings are a key pillar of urban sustainability. (El Precursor 9/4/2013).

Regional

A joint report between USAID and GIZ on the climate change vulnerability of coastal marine systems in the Central American Caribbean suggests that between 60% and 80% of the systems are medium to highly vulnerable. As Caribbean communities heavily depend on the ecosystem services that these systems provide, such as fisheries, tourism, and the mitigation of damage from tropical cyclones, the reports’ results show that special attention must be paid in coming years to the adaptive capacity of these coastal regions. (El Financiero 9/5/2013)

Remote sensing satellite imagery has revealed a 1,000 hectare oil palm plantation “hidden” in the Peruvian Amazon. Located in the Loreto region of northern Peru, the planation was not authorized nor granted a logging concession according to the local Regional Program Director of Forest Management and Wildlife. Officials first learned of the illegal planation through news reports in local media and will now launch an investigation. Palm oil plantations require business plans, environmental impact assessments and soil surveys before they can be authorized to proceed. (Mongabay09/06/2013)

The first lawsuit was filed challenging the constitutionality of oil exploitation in Yasuní Nation Park. Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa, who recently put an end to the proposed Yausní-ITT initiative to keep oil underground in the Ecuadorian Amazon, is now calling for oil projects to move forward. Indigenous communities and environmentalist have already called for a public consultation on the matter. The new lawsuit argues protection of the Yasuní is guaranteed by the constitution and neither a public consultation nor constitutional reform could permit oil exploitation in the national park. (El País 09/03/2013)

 

For more news on the issues we care about visit our Latin America Green News archive or read our other International blogs.

 

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September 6, 2013
by Rebecca Stanfield
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Clearing the Air: Chicago’s Condominium Community Will Benefit from Proposed Benchmarking Ordinance

Rebecca Stanfield, Deputy Director for Policy, Midwest Program, Chicago
Back in late July, a dozen Chicago aldermen moved to defer the vote on the Chicago Energy Use Benchmarking Ordinance for six weeks, citing the need to inf… Continue reading

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September 6, 2013
by Becky Hammer
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New York’s Plan for Post-Sandy Wastewater Infrastructure Projects Doesn’t Go Far Enough to Promote Resilience

Becky Hammer, Project Attorney, Water Program, Washington, DC
New York State is currently considering public input on its draft plan for how the state will spend $340 million on disaster resilience for wastewater infrastructure that was… Continue reading

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September 6, 2013
by Elizabeth Shope
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World Water Week – Water Cooperation, Building Partnerships: Some Reflections

Elizabeth Shope, Advocate, Washington, D.C.
I spent the last week in Stockholm, Sweden at World Water Week, an international water conference held annually in Stockholm which brings together a wide ranging group of individuals from doze… Continue reading

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September 5, 2013
by Pamela Rivera
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Florida is Drowning in Flood Insurance Risk

Pamela Rivera, Latino Engagement Associate / Program Assistant, Washington, D.C.
Water is one of Florida’s greatest assets and attractions but soon it could become one of our worst nightmares! Growing up in the sunshine state, you… Continue reading

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August 30, 2013
by Johanna Dyer
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GMO labeling takes center stage in New York

Johanna Dyer, Attorney, New York
After years of debate and study, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in foods have been even more in the spotlight recently. Last year, California’s highly-publicized GMO labeling ballot initiati… Continue reading

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August 29, 2013
by Greenlaw from NRDC China
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China Environmental News Alert

Greenlaw from NRDC China, NRDC China Program, Beijing
NRDC has been working in China for over fifteen years on such issues as energy efficiency, green buildings, clean energy technologies, environmental law, and green supply chain issue… Continue reading

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