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Earth Policy Institute;
For years now, many members of Congress have insisted that cutting carbon emissions was difficult, if not impossible. It is not. During the two years since 2007, carbon emissions have dropped 9 percent. While part of this drop is from the recession, part of it is also from efficiency gains and from replacing coal with natural gas, wind, solar, and geothermal energy.
The United States has ended a century of rising carbon emissions and has now entered a new energy era, one of declining emissions. Peak carbon is now history. What had appeared to be hopelessly difficult is happening at amazing speed.
For a country where oil and coal use have been growing for more than a century, the fall since 2007 is startling. In 2008, oil use dropped 5 percent, coal 1 percent, and carbon emissions by 3 percent. Estimates for 2009, based on U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) data for the first nine months, show oil use down by another 5 percent. Coal is set to fall by 10 percent. Carbon emissions from burning all fossil fuels dropped 9 percent over the two years.
Beyond the cuts already made, there are further massive reductions in the policy pipeline. Prominent among them are stronger automobile fuel-economy standards, higher appliance efficiency standards, and financial incentives supporting the large-scale development of wind, solar, and geothermal energy. (See data at www.earthpolicy.org.)
Efforts to reduce fossil fuel use are under way at every level of government -- national, state, and city -- as well as in corporations, utilities, and universities. And millions of climate-conscious, cost-cutting Americans are altering their lifestyles to reduce energy use.
For its part, the federal government -- the largest U.S. energy consumer, with some 500,000 buildings and 600,000 vehicles -- announced in early October 2009 that it is setting its own carbon-cutting goals. These include reducing vehicle fleet fuel use 30 percent by 2020, recycling at least 50 percent of waste by 2015, and buying environmentally responsible products.
Electricity use is falling partly because of gains in efficiency. The potential for further cuts is evident in the wide variation in energy efficiency among states. The Rocky Mountain Institute calculates that if the 40 least-efficient states were to reach the electrical efficiency of the 10 most-efficient ones, national electricity use would be reduced by one third. This would allow the equivalent of 62 percent of the country's 617 coal-fired power plants to be closed.
Actions are being taken to realize this potential. For several years DOE failed to write the regulations needed to implement appliance efficiency legislation that Congress had already passed. Within days of taking office, President Obama instructed the agency to write the regulations needed to realize these potentially vast efficiency gains as soon as possible.
The energy efficiency revolution that is now under way will transform everything from lighting to transportation. With lighting, for example, shifting from incandescent bulbs to the newer light-emitting diodes (LEDs), combined with motion sensors to turn lights off in unoccupied spaces, can cut electricity use by more than 90 percent. Los Angeles, for example, is replacing its 140,000 street lights with LEDs -- and cutting electricity and maintenance costs by $10 million per year.
The carbon-cutting movement is gaining momentum on many fronts. In July, the Sierra Club -- coordinator of the national anti-coal campaign -- announced the hundredth cancellation of a proposed plant since 2001. This battle is leading to a de facto moratorium on new coal plants. Despite the coal industry's $45-million annual budget to promote "clean coal," utilities are giving up on coal and starting to close plants. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), with 11 coal plants (average age 47 years) and a court order to install over $1 billion worth of pollution controls, is considering closing its plant near Rogersville, Tennessee, along with the six oldest units out of eight in its Stevenson, Alabama, plant.
TVA is not alone. Altogether, some 22 coal-fired power plants in 12 states are being replaced by wind farms, natural gas plants, wood chip plants, or efficiency gains. Many more are likely to close as public pressure to clean up the air and to cut carbon emissions intensifies. Shifting from coal to natural gas cuts carbon emissions by roughly half. Shifting to wind, solar, and geothermal energy drops them to zero.
State governments are getting behind renewables big time. Thirty-four states have adopted renewable portfolio standards to produce a larger share of their electricity from renewable sources over the next decade or so. Among the more populous states, the renewable standard is 24 percent in New York, 25 percent in Illinois, and 33 percent in California.
While coal plants are closing, wind farms are multiplying. In 2008, a total of 102 wind farms came online, providing more than 8,400 megawatts of generating capacity. Forty-nine wind farms were completed in the first half of 2009 and 57 more are under construction. More important, some 300,000 megawatts of wind projects (think 300 coal plants) are awaiting access to the grid.
U.S. solar cell installations are growing at 40 percent a year. With new incentives, this rapid growth in rooftop installations on homes, shopping malls, and factories should continue. In addition, some 15 large solar thermal power plants that use mirrors to concentrate sunlight and generate electricity are planned in California, Arizona, and Nevada. A new heat-storage technology that enables the plants to continue generating power for up to six hours past sundown helps explain this boom.
For many years, U.S. geothermal energy was confined largely to the huge Geysers project north of San Francisco, with 850 megawatts of generating capacity. Now the United States, with 132 geothermal power plants under development, is experiencing a geothermal renaissance.
After their century-long love-affair with the car, Americans are turning to mass transit. There is hardly a U.S. city that is not either building new light rail, subways, or express bus lines or upgrading and expanding existing ones.
As motorists turn to public transit, and also to bicycles, the U.S. car fleet is shrinking. The estimated scrappage of 14 million cars in 2009 will exceed new sales of 10 million by 4 million, shrinking the fleet 2 percent in one year. This shrinkage will likely continue for a few years.
Oil use and imports are both declining. This will continue as the new fuel economy standards raise the fuel efficiency of new cars 42 percent and light trucks 25 percent by 2016. And since 42 percent of the diesel fuel burned in the rail freight sector is used to haul coal, falling coal use means falling diesel fuel use.
But the big gains in fuel efficiency will come with the shift to plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars. Not only are electric motors three times more efficient than gasoline engines, but they also enable cars to run on wind power at a gasoline-equivalent cost of 75-cents a gallon. Almost every major car maker will soon be selling plug-in hybrids, electric cars, or both.
In this new energy era carbon emissions are declining and they will likely continue to do so because of policies already on the books. We are headed in the right direction. We do not yet know how much we can cut carbon emissions because we are just beginning to make a serious effort. Whether we can move fast enough to avoid catastrophic climate change remains to be seen.
# # #
Lester R. Brown is President of the Earth Policy Institute and author of Plan B 4.0:
Mobilizing to Save Civilization
Data and additional resources at www.earthpolicy.org
Reah Janise Kauffman
Tel: (202) 496-9290 x12
E-mail: rji (at) earthpolicy.org
Tel: (202) 496-9290 x14
E-mail: jlarsen (at) earthpolicy.org
Earth Policy Institute
1350 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 403
Washington, DC 20036
In 2008, Lumina asked SPEC Associates (SPEC) to evaluate the foundation's grant making aimed at improving the productivity of higher education through statewide policy and program change. The initiative was initially known as Making Opportunity Affordable and later became known more broadly as Lumina's higher education productivity initiative. Eleven states received planning grants in 2008 and a year later seven of these states received multi-year grants to implement their productivity plans. In 2009, Lumina published Four Steps to Finishing First in Higher Education to frame the content of its productivity work. In 2010, the foundation, working with HCM Strategists, launched the Strategy Labs Network to deliver just-in-time technical assistance, engagement, informationsharing and convenings to states. Lumina engaged SPEC to evaluate these productivity investments in the seven states through exploring this over-arching question: What public will building, advocacy, public policy changes, and system or statewide practices are likely to impact higher education productivity for whom and in what circumstances, and which of these are likely to be sustainable, transferable, and/or scalable?
As a nation, we now face a serious threat to the very nature of our democracy, and the core American belief that wide electoral participation by as many eligible voters as possible is central to our prosperity and success. With salacious and often unfounded allegations of efforts to vote by non-citizens, the deceased, felons and even pets, partisans, fringe organizations, and opinion makers of all kinds have pressed for strict new voter identification requirements. But the facts do not warrant these extreme proposals. All available evidence suggests that voter fraud is exceedingly rare. The few substantiated instances of actual voter fraud in recent elections involved absentee voting, fraudulent voter registration applications, and erroneous voting by those ineligible to cast a ballot--none of which would have been prevented by requiring photo ID in order to vote. Courts have recently enjoined photo ID laws passed in Georgia, Missouri and Arizona. Just as the proposals don't stop the problems, these laws also risk preventing upwards of 20 million Americans without government-issued identification from meeting the most fundamental responsibility of citizenship--exercising the right to vote.
National Institute on Money in State Politics;
Public funding is often lauded for breaking the connection between campaign finances and special interests. Under the Arizona system, candidates who collect public funds receive very little private money and it must come from individuals. More than one-third of the 90 legislators elected in Arizona in 2006 participated in the state's Clean Elections program, as well as the governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state mine inspector, superintendent of public instruction, and one member of the corporation commission. This report analyzes money raised by Arizona candidates during the 2006 elections.
Arizona's legislative winners had the smallest fund raising advantage since 2000 over general-election losers.The 2006 election cycle was the first in which both major-party general-election candidates participated in Arizona's public funding program.
National Institute on Money in State Politics;
Immigration issues have inspired hot debates in recent years. This was true in 2008, as four states -- Florida, Missouri, Oregon and Arizona -- had immigrant-related measures on their ballots. Only Oregon and Arizona had committees relating to these ballot measures. Take a look at who supported and who opposed these measures.
In Arizona, committees concerned with a business-backed 2008 ballot measure that would have made changes to the state's laws regarding the hiring of illegal immigrants garnered $1,141,546, over $1 million of which was raised in support of the measure.The committee supporting Arizona's business-backed Proposition 202 in 2008 raised $22,492 from individuals, or 2.2 percent of its $1 million total. The committee opposing the measure raised $28,260 from individuals, or 20.1 percent of its $140,350 total.The committee supporting Arizona's Proposition 202 in 2008, which would have made various changes to the state's laws on the hiring of illegal immigrants, raised more than $1 million. $879,634 came from the General Business sector, mostly from a $802,634 sum from an organization of business leaders called Wake Up Arizona!
Feeding America (formerly America's Second Harvest);
This report presents information on the clients and agencies served by The United Food Bank. The information is drawn from a national study, Hunger in America 2010, conducted in 2009 for Feeding America (FA) (formerly America's Second Harvest), the nation's largest organization of emergency food providers. The national study is based on completed in-person interviews with more than 62,000 clients served by the FA national network, as well as on completed questionnaires from more than 37,000 FA agencies. The study summarized below focuses on emergency food providers and their clients who are supplied with food by food banks in the FA network.
The FA system served by The United Food Bank provides emergency food for an estimated 179,800 different people annually.48% of the members of households served by The United Food Bank are children under 18 years old (Table 5.3.2).49% of households include at least one employed adult (Table 5.7.1).Among households with children, 86% are food insecure and 26% are food insecure with very low food security (Table 18.104.22.168).50% of clients served by The United Food Bank report having to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities or heating fuel (Table 6.5.1). 27% had to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care (Table 6.5.1).29% of households served by The United Food Bank report having at least one household member in poor health (Table 8.1.1)The United Food Bank included approximately 207 agencies at the administration of this survey, of which 158 have responded to the agency survey. Of the responding agencies, 128 had at least one food pantry, soup kitchen, or shelter.50% of pantries, 25% of kitchens, and 22% of shelters are run by faith-based agencies affiliated with churches, mosques, synagogues, and other religious organizations (Table 10.6.1).Among programs that existed in 2006, 83% of pantries, 44% of kitchens, and 51% of shelters of The United Food Bank reported that there had been an increase since 2006 in the number of clients who come to their emergency food program sites (Table 10.8.1).Food banks are by far the single most important source of food for agencies with emergency food providers, accounting for 78% of the food distributed by pantries, 43% of the food distributed by kitchens, and 24% of the food distributed by shelters (Table 13.1.1).As many as 87% of pantries, 88% of kitchens, and 73% of shelters in The United Food Bank use volunteers (Table 13.2.1).
Feeding America (formerly America's Second Harvest);
This report presents information on the clients and agencies served by St Mary's Food Bank Alliance. The information is drawn from a national study, Hunger in America 2010, conducted in 2009 for Feeding America (FA) (formerly America's Second Harvest), the nation's largest organization of emergency food providers. The national study is based on completed inperson interviews with more than 62,000 clients served by the FA national network, as well as on completed questionnaires from more than 37,000 FA agencies. The study summarized below focuses on emergency food providers and their clients who are supplied with food by food banks in the FA network.
The FA system served by St Mary's Food Bank Alliance provides emergency food for an estimated 477,500 different people annually.50% of the members of households served by St Mary's Food Bank Alliance are children under 18 years old (Table 5.3.2).41% of households include at least one employed adult (Table 5.7.1).Among households with children, 89% are food insecure and 38% are food insecure with very low food security (Table 22.214.171.124).51% of clients served by St Mary's Food Bank Alliance report having to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities or heating fuel (Table 6.5.1).27% had to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care (Table 6.5.1).28% of households served by St Mary's Food Bank Alliance report having at least one household member in poor health (Table 8.1.1)St Mary's Food Bank Alliance included approximately 264 agencies at the administration of this survey, of which 187 have responded to the agency survey. Of the responding agencies, 144 had at least one food pantry, soup kitchen, or shelter.47% of pantries, 31% of kitchens, and 23% of shelters are run by faith-based agencies affiliated with churches, mosques, synagogues, and other religious organizations (Table 10.6.1).Among programs that existed in 2006, 81% of pantries, 66% of kitchens, and 70% of shelters of St Mary's Food Bank Alliance reported that there had been an increase since 2006 in the number of clients who come to their emergency food program sites (Table 10.8.1).Food banks are by far the single most important source of food for agencies with emergency food providers, accounting for 71% of the food distributed by pantries, 52% of the food distributed by kitchens, and 36% of the food distributed by shelters (Table 13.1.1).As many as 90% of pantries, 88% of kitchens, and 84% of shelters in St Mary's Food Bank Alliance use volunteers (Table 13.2.1).
University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute;
Why is there so much difference in the health of residents in one county compared to other counties in the same state? In this report, the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program explores how wide gaps are throughout Arizona and what is driving those differences. This information can help Arizona state leaders as they identify ways for everyone to have a fair chance to lead the healthiest life possible. Specifically, this document can help state leaders understand: 1. What health gaps are and why they matter 2. The size and nature of the health gaps among counties within Arizona 3. What factors are influencing the health of residents, and 4. What state and local communities can do to address health gaps..
As scholarship has become increasingly narrow and disconnected from public life, Kettering research has documented an intense sense of malaise in higher education, what Harry Boyte has called a loss of civic agency. Surprisingly, however, faculty at a few campuses have begun to self-organize to integrate civic work into their teaching and research. This study, by Blase Scarnati and Romand Coles, documents such efforts at Northern Arizona University. Rather than making civic engagement a specific project of one or two faculty, what makes this campus special is that civic engagement has taken hold across the university. Building on research by KerryAnn O'Meara, this working paper shows that civic engagement is not only fulfilling to faculty at an individual level but is starting to impact the civic culture of their institutions.
Center for Community Change;
This case study investigates the history and accomplishments of one organization that is making considerable strides in advancing the values and political interests of the Latino community. Beginning in 2010, Promise Arizona (PAZ) and Promise Arizona in Action (PAZ en Acción) work to empower Latinos and the immigrant community to flex their civic muscle through community organizing and political action. This case study provides a snapshot of the organization's formation, growth, and organizing initiatives and explores what strategies have been central to its success. It is one model of how grassroots organizing can contribute to achieving immigration rights.