Obama orders fed gov’t to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, more emphasis on renewable energy


President Obama recently signed an executive order calling for the federal government to reduce grennhouse gas emissions while putting more emphasis on renewable energy sources. (Steve Jurvetson/Flickr)
President Obama recently signed an executive order calling for the federal government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while putting more emphasis on renewable energy sources. (Steve Jurvetson/Flickr)

Nick Fetty | March 20, 2015

President Obama signed an executive order on Thursday calling for the federal government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent compared to 2008 levels over the next decade. The order also calls for renewable energy sources to make up 30 percent of total electricity consumption over the same period. The plan is expected to save taxpayers $18 million in electricity costs.

“We thought it was important for us to lead by example,” Obama said in an interview with the Associated Press. “These are ambitious goals, but we know they’re achievable goals.”

The Obama administration hopes that this decision will serve as a model for encouraging other nations to deal with the effects of climate change. Other nations are expected to set similar carbon emission and renewable energy goals as part of a global climate treaty to be finalized in December.

According to the most recent data available, the federal government contributed to less than one percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2013. Obama also lauded efforts made by private sector companies such as General Electric, IBM, and Northrup Grumman which have taken voluntary steps at mitigating the effects of climate change.

This announcement comes on the heels of last month’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2015 which calls for a 7 percent increase in funding for clean energy and $4 billion to encourage further reduction in power plant emissions.

$48 million donation aims to assist states with reducing emissions


Emissions billow from the smokestacks of a facility in Heilbronn, Germany (dmytrok/Flickr)
Emissions billow from the smokestacks of a facility in Heilbronn, Germany (dmytrok/Flickr)

Nick Fetty | January 23, 2015

Two charitable groups have donated $48 million so that in can be used in helping states reduce carbon emissions over the next three years.

The plans were announced earlier this week with half the money coming from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the other half from the Heising-Simons family, a California couple devoted to reducing the impact of climate change. This project will provide technical assistance, economic forecasting, and legal analysis to a dozen or so states pursuing clean-energy initiatives. The money will not go directly to the states – which are each responsible for developing their own emissions reduction plans – and will instead go to groups like Environmental Defense Fund and Natural Resources Defense Council which will advise states on strategies for cutting emissions.

“The science on climate change makes it abundantly clear that carbon pollution poses a deep threat to society, to agriculture, and to nature—and that early action is required to avoid these threats,” Mark Heising said in a press release. “New technologies ensure that the solutions to climate change can be cost-effective.  This initiative is designed to accelerate those solutions.”

The money is expected to be used to help create renewable energy systems which cause less pollution in the land, air, and water and therefore can improve public health. This donation coincides with President Obama’s Clean Power Plan which he announced in June of 2014 and which allows each state to set its own standards for reducing emissions from fossil fuels

Iowa’s biodiesel and wind energy sectors expected to benefit from recently passed tax breaks


Iowa generated 27 percent of its electricity from wind energy last year which ranked highest in the country. (Samir Luther/Flickr)
Iowa generated 27 percent of its electricity from wind energy last year which ranked highest in the country. (Samir Luther/Flickr)

Nick Fetty | December 18, 2014

A $41-billion package of tax breaks passed by the U.S. Senate earlier this week is expected to benefit Iowa’s biodiesel and wind energy industries.

The House passed the legislation (378 to 46) earlier this month with bipartisan support and after the Senate’s approval (76 to 16) it now awaits President Obama’s signature. Congress was unable to agree upon a two-year deal so the Tax Increase Prevention Act will extend 55 different tax credits and extensions through 2015.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) – who also serves as chairman for Senate Finance Committee – was critical of Congress for not passing the legislation sooner citing it does not provide “nearly enough time for the important provisions in this package to catalyze growth among businesses or to support families in a meaningful way. It’s not enough time to put a dent in veterans’ unemployment, to start a clean energy project and hire new workers, or to help a student who’s on the fence about whether to enroll in college next semester.”

Both of Iowa’s senator’s – Chuck Grassley (R) and the retiring Tom Harkin (D) – signed the legislation though Grassley also expressed disapproval with its “last minute approach.” With Republicans taking control of the senate for the upcoming session, Grassley said “My only hope is that in the new Congress we can make strides toward putting some certainty back in the tax code.”

President Obama is expected to sign the legislation later this week.

New climate plan asks for cooperation from states


Nick Fetty | June 3, 2014
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Photo via Matt; Flickr

A new plan proposed by President Obama to cut carbon pollution will rely on states to set and meet their own emissions standards.

The plan aims to “cut carbon pollution from power plans by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.” Similar to the President’s health care initiative, individual states will be responsible for devising unique plans to meet the standard set by the federal government.

The article cites that farmers in Iowa and Minnesota currently generate up to 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources – such as solar and wind – while states in the southeast utilize nuclear energy. Critics say the new proposal will eliminate jobs and raise utility costs.

For more information, visit the EPA’s website. Also check out this infographic released by the White House.

What Iowans can do to prepare for climate change


Photo by Philippe 2009; Flickr

Focusing on farming, soil management, and wind energy, this piece by the Des Moines Register goes into three things that Iowans can do to better prepare for, and reduce the impact of climate change.

Mosquitoes and Climate Change


Photo by edans; Flickr

According to Dr. Yogesh Shah, associate dean for global health at Des Moines University, every increase in temperature by one degree can increase the mosquito population by almost eight- to 10-fold. Continue reading

Midwest green jobs continue to grow


Growth in Aggregate Clean Economy by state. Map courtesy of Midwest Energy News.

The Midwest currently holds 23 percent of the “clean jobs” in the country as the nation created about a half million of the positions from 2003 to 2010.

Read the Midwest Energy News report here:

When President Obama promised green jobs, he probably had bigger ideas in mind; ideas that relied on regulations, new standards, and policy initiatives that would lead to innovation. Still, despite the serious political roadblocks to feeding a green economy, a new report by the Brookings Institution, in collaboration with development company Battelle, reveals that green jobs grew at an annual rate of 3.4 percent (or by half a million jobs) between 2003 and 2010. Continue reading