Los Angeles Pledges Support for Clean Air Act

The city of Los Angeles, Calif., has joined the Center for Biological Diversity’s Clean Air Cities campaign, which the environmental organization launched to rally support for the Clean Air Act nationwide. The Center believes that the Clean Air Act is the nation’s greatest hope for mitigating the effects of climate change. However, big polluters and proponents of fossil fuel, including members of Congress, are trying to weaken the Clean Air Act and stop further environmental protections from being enforced under the law.

In expressing its support for the Clean Air Act, Los Angeles has joined 27 other United States cities in 16 states in stressing to national leaders the importance of addressing climate change and environmental issues. As a major world leader and one of the world’s biggest polluters, the United States should take an active and visible role in fighting climate change and reducing its effects at home and around the world. To assume this leadership role, the United States must stand up for its citizens and protect its population, its environment, and its wildlife from climate change. National leaders, including Congress representatives, must fight to protect the Clean Air Act and add new provisions to the law that will strengthen protections for the environment.

Southern California public radio station KPCC News reported that Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz said, “Our city has been a leader in the fight against climate change, and we’re proud to back federal efforts to reduce global warming hazards.”

Rose Braz, director of the Clean Air Cities campaign, said, “L.A.’s leaders recognize that climate change will cause serious harm to California’s environment and public health, and they support a key solution in the Clean Air Act,” she said. “Cities around the country, from Seattle to Pittsburgh – and now Los Angeles – are sending an urgent message to our president and other national leaders: To avert a climate catastrophe, we need to act now.”

The Center for Biological Diversity says, “the Center is calling on volunteers from coast to coast to urge their local elected officials to pass resolutions in support of the EPA using the Clean Air Act to reduce carbon in our atmosphere to no more than 350 parts per million — the level scientists say is needed to avoid catastrophic climate change. So far, we’ve earned resolutions from 28 cities.”

President Nixon passed the Clean Air Act in 1970, and since then, it has prevented hundreds of thousands of premature deaths related to air pollution and has reduced air pollution from the country’s six largest polluters. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) predicts that the Clean Air Act will prevent 230,000 premature deaths and save the national economy $2 trillion in the year 2020 alone. In the same year, the law will also prevent millions of missed school and work days due to respiratory pollution-related illnesses, and hundreds of thousands of cases of diseases such as bronchitis, heart disease, and asthma, as well as emergency room visits that accompany these illnesses. Because the law cost $65 billion to implement, its benefits greatly outweigh its initial investment costs.

In the past four decades, air quality in major U.S. cities has improved, but there is still room for improvement in the law. To encourage your city to pledge its support for the Clean Air Act and join the national fight against climate change, urge city leaders to obtain resources from the Center for Biological Diversity’s website. The Center has provided examples of a city resolution and other materials that civilians can send to cities to encourage local government officials to express support for the Clean Air Act. 

Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/channone/2621081911

New York City’s “Vision 2020” Waterfront Plan

Did you know that, New York City has more miles of waterfront than San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, and Portland combined? New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced a new vision for the city’s 520 mile shoreline. The new comprehensive waterfront plan aims to integrate the waterfront into the daily lives of New Yorkers. The new 3.3 billion dollar, New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan or “Vision 2020” is the culmination of years of planning. The main goal of the plan is to open the waterfront for parks, economic and housing development, waterways for transportation, recreational activities, and natural habitats. The new 10 year plan highlights a vision of the future for New York City, implementing both new citywide policies and specific recommendations. The plan hopes to achieve its goals by the year 2020.

The plan consists of the city achieving 8 specific goals. The first goal is to expand public access to the waterfront and waterways on both public and private property for all New Yorkers and visitors. For many New Yorkers the waterways are their main connection to the natural world– providing a getaway from the daily urban jungle. The second goal is to enliven the waterfront within the means of the adjacent communities. This may include, creating new various historical sites or attractions creating both new jobs and housing within the city. The third goal is to support the working waterfront development by means of expanding the capacity of port facilities while still protecting the neighboring habitat environment, harbors, and reducing air emissions.

The forth goal is to improve the city’s overall water quality by identifying pollutants. The new green infrastructure and other sources of control will greatly aid in capturing rainfall, reducing sewer overflows, and other environmentally harmful discharges. The public will be asked to improve individual monitoring and aid in keeping the waterfront clean. The fifth goal is to restore degraded natural waterfront areas while still protecting wetlands and shore front habitats. The city hopes to do this through increasing scientific understanding, public awareness, and aid from locally based community groups near natural ecosystems.

The sixth goal is to enhance the city’s Blue Network or public experiences of the waterways surrounding New York. The city will provide water for recreational activities such as swimming, snorkeling, windsurfing, fishing, and city boat tours. The waterways will be used once again for education to explore New York’s history, environmental issues, climate change, and aquatic habitat. While, still looking to advance marine based alternative energy in the tides, offshore wind power, and aqua-thermal heating and cooling. The seventh goal is to improve governmental regulation, coordination, and oversight of the waterfront and waterways by means of environmental regulatory processes. The eighth and final goal is to identify and pursue strategies to increase the city’s resilience to climate change and sea level rise. This will be done through a citywide strategic planning process in which climate change projections will aid in planning for citywide emergency preparedness.

India Solar Energy Summit

March 17, 2011 – Jen Noelken

New Delhi played host to the India Solar Energy Summit held at Crowne Plaza from February 17-18.  Backed by the World Institute of Sustainable Energy (WISE) and by Energy Alternative India (EAI), the summit hoped to outline productive solar energy use.  India receives 3000 hours of sun annually, which equates to over 5000 trillion kilowatts (kWh).  With an ability to harness sunlight energy, India has potential to become the largest solar energy market in the world.  With such high solar energy potential, the Indian Government created Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM).  The mission promises to fulfill the biggest energy opportunity of the 21st century.

The Summit brought in over 100 attendants including senior officials, PV manufacturers and solution support.  Collaboration efforts by the attendees focused on evolving government policies, breakthrough technologies and investment strategies.  According to the India Solar Energy Summit event page, seven key issues were addressed:  1. key trends in India’s solar energy sector, 2. opportunities for different areas of the industry, 3. updates on JNNSM, 4. new opportunities and associated risks of key industrial partners, 5. strategies for financing and investment, 6. expectancy for future solar energy use in India and 7. lessons learned from Europe were discussed. 

Day one of the summit was opened by Chairperson of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) of India, Dr. Pramod Deo.  Dr. Deo spoke about the role regulators in solar energy can play in society.  He also touched on how such projects can ease barriers in the field.  Day one featured several other key speakers including Director of EAI Narasimhan Santhanam and Senior Project Manager at KfW Bank in India Andreas Thermann. 

Narasimhan Santhanam focused floor time on potential opportunities for small and medium business ventures “along the PV and CSP value chain in the current solar energy boom in India.”  Santhanam continued on by stating how solar energy production would mean overall industrial production for other areas of labor and trade.  Andreas Thermann provided a means for projects to begin by stating the German-funded KfW Bank will supply financial support as long as feed-in-tariffs through power purchase agreements are intact and the project developer has solid experience.

Several major concerns were also addressed during talks.  Director General of WISE Dr. G.M. Pillai, noted Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission’s target goals are inadequate to meet the Indian National Action Plan on Climate Change’s overall goal of 15% renewable energy.  Deputy General Manager, TATA BP Solar Ltd Anil Patni also brought attention to unrealistically low bids by companies to build plants.  Patni explained bidders do not realize the cost of needed technology.  He continued by recommending the government to select bids closet to actual cost, weeding out unrealistic options.  General Manager of Schott Solar AG Amit Barve added the Indian government needs to adjust the IEC-61215 standard certification.  He thinks the current standard misses critical aspects such as consistency of manufacturing, checks on supplier quality, manpower skills, manufacture’s quality procedures and a lack of quality testing.

Day two of the Summit focused on Concentrated Solar Power (CSP).  Presented by Mott MacDonald’s Lokesh Jain, developers are focusing on Gujarat and Rajasthan for CSP development.  Both areas’ barren terrain provides ideal conditions for solar irradiation.  Jain stated site selections are of utmost important.  Factors such as climate conditions, terrain, grid vicinity and water network availability must be taken into account for proper structures to develop.

India’s CSP will have major hurdles to overcome for proper implementation.  A few touched on during discussions including a challenging time frame of two years, infrastructure development issues, lack of data on Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI) radiation.  DNI affects productivity of thermal power plants.  The Indian government is working to install 50 radiation measurement centers.  Unfortunately, reliable data will take time to collect.

The Summit provided productive talks for solar energy in India.  With strong backing by major organizations and innovative ideas from the panel India has taken the first steps to a more sustainable country.    

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