Michigan’s Cap on Net Metering

Net metering is the cheapest way for anyone to install solar panels on their house. Net metering means that, whenever the solar panels are producing more power than the house is using, the excess electricity is fed into the local energy distribution grid, and the meter on that house runs in reverse during that time.

It’s great for the individual owner, because the owner not only uses electricity produced without paying the electric company for it but also gets credit for any surplus electricity produced. The owner does not need to provide batteries or any sort of storage for electricity proc=duced during the daytime in order to have electricity at night. At night, the house simply uses electricity off of the grid, exactly like houses without solar panels. Continue reading

The Ethics of the Dakota Access Pipeline

Hi everyone,

This was my final paper in my ethics class this past semester & I just thought I’d share my thoughts on this issue.

*Note* I know this does not encompass this entire issue, it was a 6-8 page paper, and I had to write this within some guidelines.

 

THE ETHICS OF THE DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE

Jennifer V. Kurland

Water hoses being sprayed on peaceful protests was a game changer for the Civil Rights Movement when those images were broadcast to the public on TV. When similar, yet more brutal tactics were used on water protectors protesting construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the media was missing in action. Native people in the United States are victims of genocide from the onset of our country’s founding, and still today struggle for the basic human rights supposedly guaranteed to all people under the Constitution. The Dakota Access Pipeline’s construction against the wishes of the Standing Rock Sioux is just one more injustice piled on to this sordid history. There is no ethical justification that would allow this pipeline to continue decimating the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s ancestral burial grounds and treaty territory.

Continue reading

The Republican Carbon Tax Plan

A group of Reagan and Bush era Republicans, publishing in the name of a newly formed “Climate Leadership Council,” have proposed a national carbon tax and dividend coupled with a “significant rollback” of environmental regulations which seek to limit carbon dioxide emissions. If you want to read their publication directly, it can be downloaded from their website.

The poison pill in this plan is the elimination of environmental regulations. Apparently, it is not enough for them that the American oil and gas industry is exempt from the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking water Act and several other federal laws. (See http://www.frackfreecolorado.com/oil–gas-exemptions-from-federal-laws.html) They also want to eliminate controls on emissions from coal-powered generating plants, mileage requirements for vehicles, and anything else that regulates emissions directly.

They would like to sell us on the notion that the carbon tax can accomplish the task all by itself. In theory, it can, provided the tax is high enough, is applied strictly and with absolutely no exemptions for the military or other government agency, absolutely no exemptions for any nation and absolutely no exemptions for any company or industry. Their publication of course does not mention the possibility of any such exemption.

The possibility of exemptions still exists. Mentioning it would not help sell their idea of “rollback” (i.e., elimination) of environmental regualations. Therefore, it is not mentioned.

There is no actual need to eliminate specific environmental regulations in order to have a carbon tax. There’s nothing inherently incompatible between the two ways of controlling emissions.

For instance, a carbon tax and mileage requirements for vehicles both push in the same direction. A carbon tax and limits on smokestack emissions for coal-burning power plants both push in the same direction. If the carbon tax has compelled automakers to exceed minimum mileage requirements and has forced utilities to shut down coal-burning plants, that’s not really a problem for the goal of reducing emissions.

Let’s picture the situation if environmental regulations have been eliminated, and then there’s a financial/economic crisis similar to to the one that happened in 2008. It did happen in 2008, and restrictions on banking intended to prevent a recurrence are being dismantled, so it’s certainly a possibility that a similar crisis will repeat.

Oh, no! Layoffs! Unemployment! Major companies losing profits and going bankrupt! Stock market crash! We have to take whatever measures are needed to revive the economy immediately! Let’s eliminate the carbon tax! it’s clearly a big drag on the economy!

Hey, there’s a crisis, so this is no time to talk about bringing back environmental regulations. Besides, the agencies that used to do inspection and enforcement have been closed down, technical experts have found different jobs, enabling laws repealed, laws repealed … it’s just impossible to put environmental regulations in place quickly.

In other words, in Phase 1, eliminate environmental regulations because with a carbon tax, they are “not needed.” Then, for Phase 2, eliminate the carbon tax. Mission accomplished.

That is, in my opinion, the intention of the Republican carbon tax plan. A carbon tax is great idea if it is in addition to environmental regulation. It’s a terrible idea if it’s just an excuse to eliminate them.

If anything in current environmental law should be rolled back, it’s  exemptions granted the oil and gas industries.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Climate Denial on the Right and the Left

Climate change denial has several forms. Some are not as easy to recognize as Donald Trump’s. With the Donald, denial is obvious and even overt. “It’s just a Chinese hoax!” is, if not an exact quote, at least a very accurate paraphrase. Whether the other Republicans all blame the Chinese or not, many of them say they do not “believe in” climate change, or at least do not believe that it is caused by the actions of mankind.

There’s also a form that does not outright deny climate change, but ends up with exactly the same policy prescriptions as outright deniers. A good example of this is Rex Tillerson, current Chair of Exxon-Mobil and possibly the next United States Secretary of State. At the 2015 shareholder’s meeting, he explained his take on climate. He said that he did not think the results of climate models were sufficiently reliable for policy making and, in any case, his view is that technical and engineering solutions will be found to overcome all impacts, as has been the case in the past. In other words, with simple faith in scientific progress for the future, we can simply ignore climate change in the present. It’s not direct denial, it’s indirect. We can study the subject, but there’s no need to come to any conclusion or take any action based on that study. Continue reading

The Flint Water Crisis

The Flint Water Crisis is still ongoing, and is a shameful stain on our state.  In January 2016, I decided to research the crisis and create a documentary for my radio show The Offensive Feminist with Jenny K.  My initial thought of a 15 minute video slowly turned into just over an hour’s worth of information.  Little did I realize when I started looking into this crisis the depth of public information that shows not only that our government knew Flint’s treatment plant could not properly treat water, but that it was spelled out as early as 2009 in the initial planning report of the KWA pipeline.  Both Republicans and Democrats have blood on their hands in Flint.  Please watch, share, and help end the misinformation still being spread and reported about the Flint Water Crisis.  The people of Flint still need our help.

Click here to view the documentary

Click here to view all documents used as sources

White House petititon to provide citizenship to all undocumented people living in Flint since the Crisis began

Click here to follow the show on Facebook

In solidarity,

Jenny K

Jennifer V. Kurland

more than just the election

By now we have all seen multiple absurd, fantastic and incomprehensible explanations for the recent Presidential election results. There’s been an astounding amount of unsupportable excuses from the losing side and an equally astounding amount of bloviating smugness from the “winners.” One thing that’s clear is that both the Donald and the Hillary were extremely disliked, extremely detached from ordinary Americans and extremely unlikely to change the society or the economy for the better.

I’ve come across a few articles that offer substantial insight into the election. This is one of them: http://cassandralegacy.blogspot.com/2016/12/the-peak-oil-election.html

I roughly agree with this line of analysis. I especially agree with the idea that most people trying to analyze the election are not even familiar with peak oil and therefore do not understand, for instance, why it means the political policies of the New Deal will not restore prosperity to the American economy. Neither will “free trade” as exemplified by a series of trade treaties. Neither will restoration of punitive tariffs as proposed by Trump. Whether you think America was great during Roosevelt’s administration or Reagan’s or Bill Clinton’s, the prosperity that was possible with ample resources for all human needs is simply no longer possible because essential resources are no longer ample. Continue reading

Arcadia Power Makes Green Energy Easy

How about we take a brief break from all the politics to talk about something near and dear to our Green hearts – clean energy? My wife and I own a little mom and pop jewelry store in Lowell. We have been here since 2002. Nothing would make me happier that to have a solar array or a couple wind generators on the roof of our 3 story building – built in 1868. That is simply not in the cards right now.

However, I am pleased to tell you that our building is now a Certified Clean Energy Partner with Arcadia Power. We are basically buying RECs (Renewable Energy Certificates) from Arcadia to offset the amount of energy we use in an average month. Arcadia looked at the past 12 month of bills and came up with a monthly average of kilowatts used. Then they gave us an amount that represents the difference we would pay to have our electric be provided directly by a wind farm. For us it works out to $10 a month. Continue reading