New report depicts potential and pathway to a renewable energy future for U.S.

Turbines capture some of America’s vast wind energy potential. (Photo credit: NREL)

A new report from Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group paints a picture of a nation with a remarkable opportunity. We Have the Power: Reaching America’s potential for clean, renewable energy finds that America has the resources and know-how to reimagine our energy system to run on clean and renewable energy. If we take that opportunity, we’ll have cleaner air, healthier communities and a liveable future to show for it. Such a transformation would impact all of our lives for the better, and I’m excited to share some key takeaways from the research:

1. Transitioning to clean…

Policy signed by Gov. Charlie Baker includes key steps toward renewable energy

Environment Massachusetts Director Ben Hellerstein and supporters of a 100 percent clean energy commitment at the Massachusetts State House. (Photo credit: Environment Massachusetts)

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill into law last month that will move the commonwealth toward a cleaner, more efficient future powered by renewables. While this legislation alone won’t bring Massachusetts all the way to the finish line for 100 percent renewable energy, it does represent several big strides coming out of the starting blocks.

The newly enacted climate bill is especially exciting in three areas: its requirements for more renewable electricity, increased commitment to offshore wind and new energy efficiency standards. …

There’s never been a better moment for state leadership on clean energy

Wind turbines (Photo credit: Karsten Würth)

On Monday, Environment America launched its 2021 100% Renewable campaign in 13 states. To some, it may seem like an odd time to launch a multi-state campaign for 100 percent renewable energy. Sure, it’s still early in the New Year, and many groups are rolling out their plans and ambitions for 2021. But we’re also in the midst of the first 30 days of a new presidential administration, and the Biden team has been busy with a flurry of climate and energy actions that will impact the energy future of our entire nation. …

What does Democratic control of the U. S. Congress and presidency mean for the future of clean energy?

Many of my friends, family members and colleagues are wondering if the new federal political climate means that the winds of change will be a-blowing in the direction of clean and renewable energy.

Earlier this month, Georgia voters elected two Democrats to the U.S. Senate, shifting the balance of power from barely red to even-more-barely blue. With President Joe Biden’s inauguration, we welcomed a new administration that has been publicly supportive of a clean energy future. With this combination, the same question has popped up on Zoom meetings and phone calls with friends and family alike all month: What will be possible in this new federal political climate? Specifically, since I’m surrounded by energy wonks and organizers, what will the coming years mean for the future of clean energy?

My take in short…

With so many energy targets out there, what should we really be aiming for?

On- and off-shore wind energy can play a key role in a clean and renewable energy future. (Photo credit: Karsten Würth, Unsplash)

In August, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards established a statewide goal of net-zero carbon emissions by midcentury. His executive order represents Louisiana’s first state-level target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and that is undoubtedly an historic step in the right direction and worthy of applause. Unsurprisingly, environmental advocates throughout the community, myself included, have shown their support.

That said, Gov. Edwards’ commitment is also the latest addition to a long-standing debate around an important question: What goal is actually best for reshaping our energy system toward a cleaner, healthier future?

It’s well-established that we must transform the way we produce…

A brief history and a look ahead

Swarthmore College; credit: Halkin/Mason Photography

In late 2016 and early 2017, Environment America was getting the ball rolling on a nationwide campaign to convince states and cities to commit to 100 percent renewable energy.

Given Environment America’s partnership with the Student PIRGs — a network of campus chapters dedicated to providing the training, professional support and resources students need to tackle issues like climate change and revitalizing our democracy — and its long history of working with young people, we wanted college campuses to be part of the movement as well. …

Every recovery dollar we spend should serve to build the future we need

(Photo by Sgt. Cody Lemons, courtesy of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.)

I remember one Halloween night when I was probably about 5 years old and dressed as Raggedy Ann. I was on my way up to one of those very popular, well-decorated houses with a short driveway and good candy. I put my little plastic pumpkin down by the front steps, did the trick-or-treat thing, and came back to find all the candy I had painstakingly collected from my neighbors was gone. The culprit was some high school bully who took advantage of my unattended basket to fill his own gigantic candy sack. …

A recent report from the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis builds on state and local action

Led by U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, leaders on the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis released a comprehensive report on June 30, 2020, laying out a framework to tackle climate change at the federal level. The core recommendation of the report is a nationwide transition to 100 percent clean electricity, coupled with a significant build out of renewable energy technologies.

At the time of the report’s release (just like now), the nation and the world was reeling from the public health and economic crises posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. …

Finding a sense of community in this new reality

Virtual meetings and webinars have become the new office meetings and conferences, as many Americans transition to working from home. Photo: Emma Searson.

There’s no doubt that the last few weeks have been bizarre. The vast majority of us across the country are now home-bound, and we’re all doing our best to protect our neighbors and the many heroic healthcare, grocery store and other essential workers who are holding our society together through this crisis. That means doing our best to keep our distance (and sanity).

While I’m grateful that I can hunker down and work from the safety of my home throughout the COVID-19 epidemic, it’s still easy to feel far removed from colleagues, allies and other sources of hope. …

As more states consider bold energy commitments, who will be next to make the leap?

In this age of a global pandemic, uncertainty surrounds everything — including the future of energy. How quickly states are able to continue the renewable energy progress of the past decade post-COVID19 remains to be seen, and may depend largely on how thoughtfully our governments respond to the challenges this virus has posed. Nevertheless, the remarkable gains of the last decade and unwavering enthusiasm in states across the country should offer hope for continued success.

Just in the last ten years, we’ve seen a 40-fold expansion of solar in the U.S. In addition, America has more than tripled the amount…

Emma Searson

100% Renewable Campaign Director with Environment America, working to deliver a bold vision for 100% renewable energy. NC native, WUSTL alumna, now in Boston.

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