Pages tagged "renewables"


The True Cost of Coal

(Photo: Emrah Gurel, AP) This week a double tragedy has struck the coal mining industry.

On Monday night in West Virginia, a coal outburst at a Patriot-operated mine killed two miners. And on Tuesday an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Western Turkey  killed at least 245, with hundreds more still missing.

Our hearts and minds are with the miners and their families.

These disasters underscore the horrific cost of “cheap” and dirty energy.  Miners’ deaths such as these are preventable. We call on coal companies to immediately improve labor conditions, and on the governments of Turkey and the United States to strengthen their regulatory oversight of the coal industry.

At the same time, here at Rainforest Action Network, we are reflecting on the less noticed human cost of coal.  Every year, more than one million people die of the air pollution that comes from burning coal. 150,000 more die from the extreme weather events aggravated by climate change–and coal is the single biggest driver of global warming.

All of this points to an obvious conclusion. We must not continue to make these sacrifices in order to produce energy from such a dirty and unsustainable source. Coal is a dangerous and outdated fuel, and in the 21st century we should not be using it to power our homes, schools, hospitals and businesses. It is past time for us to shift our energy production to clean, safe renewable power.


Energy Co-Ops: Generating All Kinds of Green for Local Communities

With all of the panic surrounding stocks, I’m clearly not the only one wondering where I should put my money for the long term. I want to know that my money will support the good, not just pad a CEO’s already fat pocket. I think I’ve found a solution, nestled in northern England. The Baywind Energy Co-operative is pioneering an incredibly smart model. Local residents invest money in a locally run renewable energy company, putting money right back into their community while ending their reliance on polluting fossil fuels. Talk about improved quality of life. Baywind's wind farm co-operative started in 1996, when they offered shares to community members, with a low minimum stock purchase to make it financially feasible for as many as possible. Using the capital they raised from 1,350 shareholders (approx. 2 million pounds), the Baywind co-op purchased their first three wind turbines. A board of directors, elected by the shareholders, runs the day-to day operations. Hyper-focused on community involvement, Baywind uses only local contractors for site development, maintenance, and support. Hurray for local green jobs! Baywind Energy Co-Op As for the investment part, shareholders receive annual dividends amounting to 5-10%. The industry average is 9%. Though co-op members may receive a few less annual dividends, they get clean energy that keeps their air and water free of pollutants while keeping their investment in their community. This sort of ROI goes beyond dollars and cents. The leadership at Baywind also focuses heavily on education, which they see as absolutely key for progress. They invite local schools and adults alike to visit the wind farm and read their educational materials. Think about how inspiring it is for a young child to see the possibilities of renewable energy right in their backyard! Through Baywind's development organization, Energy4All, communities can have assistance with recreating this type of renewable energy co-op in their own parts of the world. Energy4All assists communities in planning, building and maintening a wind farm co-op. Over the past nine years, Energy4All has succeeded in sharing their model with seven different communities throughout England and Scotland. Let's hope this renewable energy co-op model spreads far and wide, so that all of us can participate in locally-run, clean, sustainable energy generation that keep jobs, revenue and resources right where they belong.

VIDEO: Danes And The Third Industrial Revolution

Wind_mills_in_fanoe_Island_july_29_2009_by_fotos_de_jctopfotoRAN has been ramping up the dialogue against coal, calling for an end to new coal-fired power plants and for existing coal plants to be retired (these currently make up over 45% of total US energy generation). The coal industry argues that coal technology is already available while renewable energy technology is a pipe-dream that hasn’t yet been developed enough to supply energy en masse. Well, let’s not forget an important point — renewable energy is already being utilized. And not only on a small scale. Take, for example, the Thisted municipality in Denmark, which uses 100% renewable resources for its electricity demands and 85% renewable energy for heating demands to supply over 46,000 residents. Thisted’s success can largely be attributed to the community's focus on the local economic benefits of shifts to renewable energy, the constant re-evaluation of its programs to achieve continual improvement, and inclusion of local leadership. [vimeo 1754867 550] Thisted is situated in Northern Jutland, an ideal location for utilizing windmills because of its strong, constant wind almost year round. Thisted has 226 windmills throughout the municipality that generate 103 GwH hours of energy each year. Thisted is also home to Denmark’s first geothermal facility, which produces another 10% of electricity needs. Another significant source of Thisted’s electricity is provided by biomass — a combination of landfill incineration (which RAN acknowledges can have detrimental impacts on local communities, see GAIA to learn more) and straw burning plants. As an example of the constant inclusion of locals and an expanding business plan, the municipality purchases the 8700 tons of straw it burns each year from the farmers, who otherwise would have discarded the straw as waste. Since Thisted’s switch to lower carbon energy sources, customers have seen their energy bills fall by two-thirds. Movements such as Thisted’s are being referred to as the “Third Industrial Revolution,” the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. Community-led initiatives offer a better environment to live in by leaving nature in tact as much as possible, while always keeping sight of the financial benefits for the local society. The people of Thisted did not wait for large grants, corporations, or subsidies to start their conversion. Thisted wants to keep the bar of energy achievement high. The municipality has pledged to further reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 3% each year, until 2025. The largest project being considered is a network that will connect district farmers who are producing more than enough energy to run their respective farms, to a municipal grid where the farmers can sell their surplus energy. Thisted is a reminder that small steps, perseverance, and local commitment can lead to larger, sustainable change. Their commitment to forward thinking and proactive measures are a beautiful example of community action and decision-making.

Wise Up Dominion!

The Beginning We woke up at 3:30 am, but few of us had slept the night before. You'd think we'd be groggy, but the adrenaline and excitement propelled us into action. By 5:30am two trucks holding steel barrels reading "good jobs, healthy communities: we deserve a clean energy future" and "prosperity without poison" pulled into the rendezvous point. My heart was pounding as I pulled a van full of concerned citizens and young activists to meet them, two more cars trailing me. A half hour later we all jumped out at the entrance to Dominion's new $1.8 Billion coal-fired power plant in Wise County VA. Within seconds we had a blockade. Nine people were connected to concrete-filled barrels, two of which donned six large solar panels illuminating the sun in the background of a large banner reading "Renewable Jobs to Renew Appalachia." Two more chained themselves to gates, keeping them closed. Our solar lit banner stretched out above the rosy smiles of visionaries young and old. It was a true privilege to work with such skilled organizers and help coordinate one of the most fluid, tight, and positive Nonviolent Direct Actions I've ever been a part of. We watched the sun rise together. CHECK OUT OUR VIDEO HERE:

Solidarity I'm not from Appalachia. I'm here because I've been deeply inspired by coal-field residents who have spent their lives standing up for clean air and water, good green jobs and a better future for their families. And it's made them subject to intense harassment and intimidation. Wise County citizens have been fighting this Dominion plant for over two years; they've spoken out at every public hearing, filed ever paper and lawsuit possible, and gotten 45,000 people to sign a "mile long" petition to the governor. And now many took the next step and invited friends from around the region and country to join them in solidarity for the first ever protest at this plant. Nonviolent Direct Action is about risking one's own personal safety for the greater good. It is an act of courage that can come with some severe consequences. That people travel from all around to support this local struggle is emblematic of the world we are fighting for - one in which we look out for one another and support each other, even when that comes at personal cost. 11 of the activists today were arrested and are currently navigating their way through the labyrinth that is the U.S. legal system. We have a prayer vigil setting up for them as I type this. Intergenerational Alongside those who chose to put their bodies on the line, came a contingent of intergenerational cheering protesters, including a nun, veterans, schoolteachers, and students. The positive energy was infectious: there was a sense of agency and empowerment shared among all of us, even as we choreographed an elaborate and potentially dangerous dance between police and Dominion employees. The action was courteous, respectful, and residents who were new to this type of action kept remarking about how it was a "class act." The words "classy," "beautiful," "reasonable," and "respectful" were constantly heard both from Wise County residents, passers-by in cars and trucks, and even the police. It's no surprise people were ready to take such a step - and to take it so seriously. Wise County has already had 25% of its historic mountain ranges destroyed forever to mountaintop removal mining. We're not just talking about saving the environment here, we're talking about cultural survival for one of the poorest regions of the country. Vision Our action was visually striking. Our banners said things like: "Rise Above Dirty Energy," "Jobs or Clean Water? We Deserve Both!" and many of us wore shirts saying "Invest in Appalachia, Don't Destroy It. Today's Destruction is not Tomorrow's Prosperity." Our positive energy and solution-oriented approach clearly had resonance, demonstrating that we were in the overwhelming majority. Most cars on the highway visibly reacted to our scene, and in a community so divided over such a controversial topic, over 85% of the reactions were enthusiastic and supportive. A record by most standards for demonstrations of any kind. Solidarity was clearly a theme of a day. Not only did people from surrounding communities come together to take a stand, but there were actions in support organized from Coast (NYC) to Coast (CA). In San Francisco more Rainforest Action Network activists infiltrated the Bank of America annual investors' conference and managed to secretly swap out Dominion CEO Thomas F. Farrell's presentation with our own - full of photos from this morning's Virginia action. It stayed up for fifteen minutes, much to his dismay. Strategy So many of us chose to engage in this action because it made good movement-sense. Beyond the campaign itself, actions like this help move the coal conversation forward - locally, regionally, and nationally, shifting the spectrum of the political debate. Local groups declared that actions like this offer them bargaining chips - upping the ante in negotiations on a wide range of coal fights, compelling other residents to action, and most importantly raising the profile and visibility of people who are often unseen in the rest of the United States. Locals sent a clear message: we will not be silent. All of this within an international context in which a recent landmark court case determined that Climate Change was so urgent that it justified breaking the law. It's only been a few hours since we left Dominion, and there is already a steady stream of media - one sure to grow as the day progresses. For such a small-town action, with the nearest media outlets over an hour away, in addition to front page articles in all the local papers, we've already had articles in: The Associated Press (AP) Wire Washington Post National Public Radio (NPR) The Richmond Times Dispatch Democracy Now! Kingsport Times News WAVY TV 10 Bristol Herald Courier Virginia News WTOP News Daily Press WJZ DC Indymedia Guerrilla News Network Mobile News Network SpinWatch WSLS 10 And that's just the beginning! This was the first action of RAN's ACTION TANK, a project to incubate new strategies for change.

Wise Up Dominion!

The Beginning We woke up at 3:30 am, but few of us had slept the night before. You'd think we'd be groggy, but the adrenaline and excitement propelled us into action. By 5:30am two trucks holding steel barrels reading "good jobs, healthy communities: we deserve a clean energy future" and "prosperity without poison" pulled into the rendezvous point. My heart was pounding as I pulled a van full of concerned citizens and young activists to meet them, two more cars trailing me. A half hour later we all jumped out at the entrance to Dominion's new $1.8 Billion coal-fired power plant in Wise County VA. Within seconds we had a blockade. Nine people were connected to concrete-filled barrels, two of which donned six large solar panels illuminating the sun in the background of a large banner reading "Renewable Jobs to Renew Appalachia." Two more chained themselves to gates, keeping them closed. Our solar lit banner stretched out above the rosy smiles of visionaries young and old. It was a true privilege to work with such skilled organizers and help coordinate one of the most fluid, tight, and positive Nonviolent Direct Actions I've ever been a part of. We watched the sun rise together. CHECK OUT OUR VIDEO HERE:

Solidarity I'm not from Appalachia. I'm here because I've been deeply inspired by coal-field residents who have spent their lives standing up for clean air and water, good green jobs and a better future for their families. And it's made them subject to intense harassment and intimidation. Wise County citizens have been fighting this Dominion plant for over two years; they've spoken out at every public hearing, filed ever paper and lawsuit possible, and gotten 45,000 people to sign a "mile long" petition to the governor. And now many took the next step and invited friends from around the region and country to join them in solidarity for the first ever protest at this plant. Nonviolent Direct Action is about risking one's own personal safety for the greater good. It is an act of courage that can come with some severe consequences. That people travel from all around to support this local struggle is emblematic of the world we are fighting for - one in which we look out for one another and support each other, even when that comes at personal cost. 11 of the activists today were arrested and are currently navigating their way through the labyrinth that is the U.S. legal system. We have a prayer vigil setting up for them as I type this. Intergenerational Alongside those who chose to put their bodies on the line, came a contingent of intergenerational cheering protesters, including a nun, veterans, schoolteachers, and students. The positive energy was infectious: there was a sense of agency and empowerment shared among all of us, even as we choreographed an elaborate and potentially dangerous dance between police and Dominion employees. The action was courteous, respectful, and residents who were new to this type of action kept remarking about how it was a "class act." The words "classy," "beautiful," "reasonable," and "respectful" were constantly heard both from Wise County residents, passers-by in cars and trucks, and even the police. It's no surprise people were ready to take such a step - and to take it so seriously. Wise County has already had 25% of its historic mountain ranges destroyed forever to mountaintop removal mining. We're not just talking about saving the environment here, we're talking about cultural survival for one of the poorest regions of the country. Vision Our action was visually striking. Our banners said things like: "Rise Above Dirty Energy," "Jobs or Clean Water? We Deserve Both!" and many of us wore shirts saying "Invest in Appalachia, Don't Destroy It. Today's Destruction is not Tomorrow's Prosperity." Our positive energy and solution-oriented approach clearly had resonance, demonstrating that we were in the overwhelming majority. Most cars on the highway visibly reacted to our scene, and in a community so divided over such a controversial topic, over 85% of the reactions were enthusiastic and supportive. A record by most standards for demonstrations of any kind. Solidarity was clearly a theme of a day. Not only did people from surrounding communities come together to take a stand, but there were actions in support organized from Coast (NYC) to Coast (CA). In San Francisco more Rainforest Action Network activists infiltrated the Bank of America annual investors' conference and managed to secretly swap out Dominion CEO Thomas F. Farrell's presentation with our own - full of photos from this morning's Virginia action. It stayed up for fifteen minutes, much to his dismay. Strategy So many of us chose to engage in this action because it made good movement-sense. Beyond the campaign itself, actions like this help move the coal conversation forward - locally, regionally, and nationally, shifting the spectrum of the political debate. Local groups declared that actions like this offer them bargaining chips - upping the ante in negotiations on a wide range of coal fights, compelling other residents to action, and most importantly raising the profile and visibility of people who are often unseen in the rest of the United States. Locals sent a clear message: we will not be silent. All of this within an international context in which a recent landmark court case determined that Climate Change was so urgent that it justified breaking the law. It's only been a few hours since we left Dominion, and there is already a steady stream of media - one sure to grow as the day progresses. For such a small-town action, with the nearest media outlets over an hour away, in addition to front page articles in all the local papers, we've already had articles in: The Associated Press (AP) Wire Washington Post National Public Radio (NPR) The Richmond Times Dispatch Democracy Now! Kingsport Times News WAVY TV 10 Bristol Herald Courier Virginia News WTOP News Daily Press WJZ DC Indymedia Guerrilla News Network Mobile News Network SpinWatch WSLS 10 And that's just the beginning! This was the first action of RAN's ACTION TANK, a project to incubate new strategies for change.

Wise Up Dominion!

The Beginning We woke up at 3:30 am, but few of us had slept the night before. You'd think we'd be groggy, but the adrenaline and excitement propelled us into action. By 5:30am two trucks holding steel barrels reading "good jobs, healthy communities: we deserve a clean energy future" and "prosperity without poison" pulled into the rendezvous point. My heart was pounding as I pulled a van full of concerned citizens and young activists to meet them, two more cars trailing me. A half hour later we all jumped out at the entrance to Dominion's new $1.8 Billion coal-fired power plant in Wise County VA. Within seconds we had a blockade. Nine people were connected to concrete-filled barrels, two of which donned six large solar panels illuminating the sun in the background of a large banner reading "Renewable Jobs to Renew Appalachia." Two more chained themselves to gates, keeping them closed. Our solar lit banner stretched out above the rosy smiles of visionaries young and old. It was a true privilege to work with such skilled organizers and help coordinate one of the most fluid, tight, and positive Nonviolent Direct Actions I've ever been a part of. We watched the sun rise together. CHECK OUT OUR VIDEO HERE:

Solidarity I'm not from Appalachia. I'm here because I've been deeply inspired by coal-field residents who have spent their lives standing up for clean air and water, good green jobs and a better future for their families. And it's made them subject to intense harassment and intimidation. Wise County citizens have been fighting this Dominion plant for over two years; they've spoken out at every public hearing, filed ever paper and lawsuit possible, and gotten 45,000 people to sign a "mile long" petition to the governor. And now many took the next step and invited friends from around the region and country to join them in solidarity for the first ever protest at this plant. Nonviolent Direct Action is about risking one's own personal safety for the greater good. It is an act of courage that can come with some severe consequences. That people travel from all around to support this local struggle is emblematic of the world we are fighting for - one in which we look out for one another and support each other, even when that comes at personal cost. 11 of the activists today were arrested and are currently navigating their way through the labyrinth that is the U.S. legal system. We have a prayer vigil setting up for them as I type this. Intergenerational Alongside those who chose to put their bodies on the line, came a contingent of intergenerational cheering protesters, including a nun, veterans, schoolteachers, and students. The positive energy was infectious: there was a sense of agency and empowerment shared among all of us, even as we choreographed an elaborate and potentially dangerous dance between police and Dominion employees. The action was courteous, respectful, and residents who were new to this type of action kept remarking about how it was a "class act." The words "classy," "beautiful," "reasonable," and "respectful" were constantly heard both from Wise County residents, passers-by in cars and trucks, and even the police. It's no surprise people were ready to take such a step - and to take it so seriously. Wise County has already had 25% of its historic mountain ranges destroyed forever to mountaintop removal mining. We're not just talking about saving the environment here, we're talking about cultural survival for one of the poorest regions of the country. Vision Our action was visually striking. Our banners said things like: "Rise Above Dirty Energy," "Jobs or Clean Water? We Deserve Both!" and many of us wore shirts saying "Invest in Appalachia, Don't Destroy It. Today's Destruction is not Tomorrow's Prosperity." Our positive energy and solution-oriented approach clearly had resonance, demonstrating that we were in the overwhelming majority. Most cars on the highway visibly reacted to our scene, and in a community so divided over such a controversial topic, over 85% of the reactions were enthusiastic and supportive. A record by most standards for demonstrations of any kind. Solidarity was clearly a theme of a day. Not only did people from surrounding communities come together to take a stand, but there were actions in support organized from Coast (NYC) to Coast (CA). In San Francisco more Rainforest Action Network activists infiltrated the Bank of America annual investors' conference and managed to secretly swap out Dominion CEO Thomas F. Farrell's presentation with our own - full of photos from this morning's Virginia action. It stayed up for fifteen minutes, much to his dismay. Strategy So many of us chose to engage in this action because it made good movement-sense. Beyond the campaign itself, actions like this help move the coal conversation forward - locally, regionally, and nationally, shifting the spectrum of the political debate. Local groups declared that actions like this offer them bargaining chips - upping the ante in negotiations on a wide range of coal fights, compelling other residents to action, and most importantly raising the profile and visibility of people who are often unseen in the rest of the United States. Locals sent a clear message: we will not be silent. All of this within an international context in which a recent landmark court case determined that Climate Change was so urgent that it justified breaking the law. It's only been a few hours since we left Dominion, and there is already a steady stream of media - one sure to grow as the day progresses. For such a small-town action, with the nearest media outlets over an hour away, in addition to front page articles in all the local papers, we've already had articles in: The Associated Press (AP) Wire Washington Post National Public Radio (NPR) The Richmond Times Dispatch Democracy Now! Kingsport Times News WAVY TV 10 Bristol Herald Courier Virginia News WTOP News Daily Press WJZ DC Indymedia Guerrilla News Network Mobile News Network SpinWatch WSLS 10 And that's just the beginning! This was the first action of RAN's ACTION TANK, a project to incubate new strategies for change.