Here is a link to an opinion piece by Tom Martin, President and CEO of the American Forest Foundation. It appears in Agri-Pulse and is addressed to newly confirmed U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
Some key points:
Currently, U.S. forests and forest products sequester and store roughly 15% of the country’s annual carbon emissions, representing our single largest natural carbon sink. More importantly, studies suggest this could be nearly doubled with the right actions.
Family forest owners represent 1 in 4 rural Americans…They want their land to remain as a forest into the future and improve its health today, both key climate mitigation strategies.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture… can help small family forest owners access carbon markets, which would leverage billions in private funding to help finance climate action.
Carbon markets provide small forest owners with an avenue for generating income from their land that they can put back into the trees. Carbon markets also encourage landowners to create forest plans and work with professional foresters – critical steps to long-term care of our forests.
Presently, carbon markets are inaccessible to small forest owners. In fact, 98% of the properties in existing carbon projects are large industrial tracts of 5,000 acres or more. Less than 1% are on acreages between 20 and 1,000— the size range of the majority of family-owned properties in the U.S.
Inside Clean Energy newsletter reporter Dan Gearino does a great job of summarizing the good and bad lessons that can be learned from Texas’ massive power outage during the winter of 2021. These lessons are applicable for all electric power systems.
“Overhead power lines Texas” by shannonpatrick17 is licensed under CC BY 2.0
the Secretary of the Interior, in collaboration with the Secretary of Agriculture and the heads of other relevant agencies, shall submit a strategy to the Task Force within 90 days of the date of this order for creating a Civilian Climate Corps Initiative…to mobilize the next generation of conservation and resilience workers and maximize the creation of accessible training opportunities and good jobs.
“Civilian Conservation Corps” by Olivander is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
The new CCC shall :
aim to conserve and restore public lands and waters, bolster community resilience, increase reforestation, increase carbon sequestration in the agricultural sector, protect biodiversity, improve access to recreation, and address the changing climate.
According to a December survey from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, some 85 percent of Americans support reestablishing the Civilian Conservation Corps, though that survey didn’t mention anything about the climate. A different poll from Data for Progress last May found that nearly 70 percent of the public supports the idea of a new, climate-focused corps. Even a majority of Republican voters, 62 percent, liked the idea.
The site adds that the original CCC:
employed 3 million men from 1933, in the depth of the Great Depression, to 1942, after the country had joined World War II. Lasting reminders of the CCC are all around us. Go into a state park or national park anywhere in the country, and you’ll likely see buildings, trails, and hiking shelters built by the program’s volunteers.
One helpful example from the webinar: Our 400 plus New Hampshire legislators have no staff. They rely on outside information to make decisions. So your courteous, well reasoned input actually might have some weight.
Clean Energy New Hampshire has information on bills it is tracking including which it supports and which it opposes. It’s a good way to keep abreast of climate related bills in front of the legislature and legislative committees.
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The long-delayed Vineyard Wind offshore project has been put back on track by the Biden administration.
Offshore Wind Farm photo by howzey is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The story adds:
Vineyard Wind, a joint venture of Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, was to be the first major offshore wind farm in the United States. It would be financed through contracts with three major Massachusetts electric utilities.
“We applaud (Biden appointee Amanda Lefton, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management), for hitting the ground running and moving President Biden’s offshore wind agenda forward as we move swiftly ahead to harness the 83,000 American jobs and $25 billion in annual investments this untapped energy source represents for the U.S. by the end of this decade. There is no time to waste.”
There are three main sources of planet warming greenhouse gases in the U.S. economy…you have to drastically cut each one of these…pollution from cars. That is a number one contributor to greenhouse gases in the U.S. It’s a little over a third. Number two, pollution from power plants, how we turn on the lights, and number three, weird, but it’s a big deal is leaking methane emissions from oil and gas wells.
She says that cutting pollution from vehicles, given that auto makers are coming on board, will probably be Biden’s greatest legacy in reducing climate change.
Closing coal fired power plants via policy changes is a lot more iffy and the administration, probably without congressional support, is still trying to figure out a path forward.
On the methane and leaky oil and gas wells issue, Obama put into place an executive order to plug up the leaks, then Trump rescinded it. Davenport says:
it’s almost cut and paste. The Biden people can go back in, take that Obama rule, and put it back. It’ll probably take a year or two before it is implemented, but the expectation is there’s a pretty clear path to do it, and it won’t be too hard.
Davenport says Biden’s plan is:
…exactly in line with what scientists say is required to avoid the most devastating effects of a warming planet…
You can listen to the Daily story or download its transcript here.
A variety of groups are ramping up efforts to open up the multi-billion dollar carbon offset market to small forest landowners. They want their efforts to financially boost small landowners while also enlisting more corporate polluters to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change on the nation’s most forested state.
General Motors said Thursday that it would phase out petroleum-powered cars and trucks and sell only vehicles that have zero tailpipe emissions by 2035, a seismic shift by one of the world’s largest automakers that makes billions of dollars today from gas-guzzling pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles.
GM plans to become carbon neutral in its global products and operations by 2040 and has committed to setting science-based targets to achieve carbon neutrality. (Photo by Steve Fecht for General Motors)
The announcement is likely to put pressure on automakers around the world to make similar commitments.
The article adds:
The company plans to spend $27 billion over the next five years to introduce 30 electric vehicles, including an electric Hummer pickup truck that it expects to start delivering to customers this year. Currently its main fully electric offering in the United States is the Chevy Bolt, a small car. The company sells several electric models in China.
There were several climate friendly provisions in the Covid-19 relief bill that Congress passed in December, 2020, including extending tax credits for solar and wind power projects and plenty of research and development (R&D) funding.
The 2020 spending bill extends the solar ITC at its current level of 26% for two additional years, through the end of 2022, before decreasing to 22% in 2023 and disappearing for residential properties in 2024. The spending bill maintains the 10% ITC for solar on commercial & industrial properties after it sunsets for residential properties.
The bill contains about $35 billion in funding over the next five years across Energy Department programs, through a collection of programs…Solar power will get $1.5 billion for programs to improve solar PV energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness, boost solar panel manufacturing and recycling, and better integrate solar power into the grid. Wind power will get $625 million to fund materials and design research, manufacturing and deployment efficiency improvements, and technologies to integrate wind power at the transmission grid and distribution grid scale. Geothermal energy research will get $850 million, and hydropower and marine power will get $933 million.
Along with these RD&D funds, the act will direct the Interior Department to set a target of at least 25 gigawatts of solar, wind and geothermal production on public lands by 2025, according to the summary.
Energy storage will receive $1.08 billion over five years in funding for the research and commercialization of a range of technologies needed to integrate intermittent renewables into the grid.