That Which Doesn’t Kill Us…

Great post-election message from the Sierra Club.

“It’s no secret what’s going on here: The same people who are poisoning our air and our water are also poisoning our democracy.”

~ Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director

Coming Clean: The blog of Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune

Nov 7, 2014

That Which Doesn’t Kill Us…

Michael Brune Follow me on Twitter and Facebook. View my blog.

Yes, the election hurt. We feared it would be bad — and it was worse. By now we’ve all heard the Wednesday-morning quarterback analyses of how and why the Democratic Party gave up control of the Senate and lost a bunch of other races around the country. For the Sierra Club, it’s especially painful to know that in far too many places we have lost long-standing, hard-working champions for clean energy, for the climate, and for the environment. And believe me, it’s not going to be easy to see climate-denier James Inhofe chairing the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and Big Oil booster Lisa Murkowski picking up the gavel at the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Not to mention Kentucky coal senator Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader — that’s a dirty-fuel dream team right there.

I could go on. But the fact is that losing elections is part of having a democracy. I may not be happy about it when good candidates lose, but I can accept it and move on. There’s one troubling aspect of this election, though, that none of us should accept: an attack of democracy itself.

Without question, a rash of discriminatory voter-suppression laws in 21 states kept millions of Americans from voting in this election. Did these new voting and registration laws affect the outcome of this election? It’s definitely possible. The New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Social Justice has already made a strong case that in at least four states (Virginia, Kansas, Florida, and North Carolina) enough votes were suppressed to make a difference in specific close races.

It’s no secret what’s going on here: The same people who are poisoning our air and our water are also poisoning our democracy. This erosion of voting rights affects all of the work that we care about: clean energy, conservation legislation, climate legislation. The Sierra Club, along with a coalition of environmental groups, workers’ groups, and civil rights organizations, and others, will redouble our efforts to stop this assault on our democracy.

Even without voter suppression, though, this would have been a disappointing election for people who care about clean energy and the environment. But that doesn’t mean that there weren’t any bright spots. Here are a few things to keep in mind as we dust ourselves off and prepare for what will be a challenging couple of years.

First, this election marked a huge turning point for climate change as an issue. Two successful senate candidates, Gary Peters in Michigan and Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire, leaned in hard on clean energy and climate. Perhaps even more telling, we’re starting to see Republican candidates back away from outright climate denial — at least rhetorically. That’s why Colorado’s Cory Gardner ran an ad claiming — falsely — that he supports wind energy.

Poll after poll has shown that the public wants clean air, clean water, and climate action. They want an end to tax breaks for oil companies and they want more investments in clean energy now. It’s extremely unlikely they’ll get progress from Congress on those issues during the next two years — instead they will almost certainly see them attacked. You can bet that will be a big issue in 2016.

Second, although the oil and gas industries saw plenty of their candidates succeed, they were by no means invincible. In Nebraska, eight-term congressman Lee Terry, an ardent climate denier and proponent of the Keystone XL pipeline, was defeated. In cities and counties in Ohio, California, and (for the first time ever) Texas, activists succeeded in getting fracking bans passed — despite being massively outspent. And in the refinery town of Richmond, CA, Chevron failed miserably in its attempt to defeat a slate of pro-environment and clean energy candidates, even after it spent at least $3 million (that’s $72 per registered voter) on negative ads.

Third, the most important clean energy and climate champion of all is still in office. President Obama has made fighting climate change a priority, especially during the past two years, and there’s no reason to doubt that he will stay that course. He has significant authority to speed up the transition to clean energy and to establish an even stronger climate and environmental legacy. He’s also got plenty of ink left in his veto pen.

Another thing to remember: We’ve been here before, more times than we care to remember, and the political outlook was as bleak or bleaker than it is today. If we look back at what happened, though, progress didn’t stop — in fact, we came out stronger. The most successful activist campaign in Sierra Club history — Move Beyond Coal — began and flourished under Bush/Cheney. When Ronald Reagan put James “mine more, drill more, cut more” Watt in charge of the Interior Department, it inspired a generation of activists who are fighting for wilderness, wildlife protection, and clean energy to this day. Sure, we’re probably going to be playing more defense during the next couple of years. But guess what? We are really good at playing defense. After all, we have something that’s actually worth defending.

Our job now is to sharpen our insights, strengthen our programs, and find new and even more-effective ways to make the clean energy future a reality. As we do that, we’ll see a new wave of voters becoming engaged in the political process who know that protecting nature and replacing dirty fuels with clean energy not only makes air and water cleaner and helps to stabilize our climate but also saves money and creates jobs at the same time. That will be a winning ticket all the way.

Make Duke Energy Pay

Isn’t it time to make Duke Energy pay? Would you like to to make Duke pay to help you save money, energy and protect our air, water and health? You betcha’!!!

Duke Energy is required by law to offer Energy Efficiency (EE) programs to rate payers. Image if everyone took advantage of these offers and cut our energy use by qt least 20%! We could avoid paying for expensive new power plants, decrease our Mountain Top Removal coal use, save tons of water, and clean up our air and water. 

I just place my order for 3 types of bulbs:

2 x Philips PAR20 Flood – Retail $22.95, Store price $17.95, Duke incentive $7.00 = My cost $10.95

10 x TCP G25 Globe – Retail $5.50, Store price $3.00, Duke incentive $1.70 = My cost $1.30

15X CREE LED A Lamp 9.5W – Retail $9.97, Store price $9.87, Duke incentive $7.00 = My cost $2.97

Total retail cost $250.45, My cost $79.45 (plus zero tax and free shipping!)

And I plan to make Duke Energy pay more!

Here are some of the Energy Efficiency programs that Duke Energy is offering (click on images for more information).

Home Energy House Call

Make Duke pay for a $180 home energy assessment – check your home for air leaks, examine your insulation levels, check your appliances and more. Plus you’ll get a free energy efficiency starter kit (free CFLs, showerhead and more), valued at $30, to help you start saving right away.

Duke EE House Call

LED Lightbulbs

Make Duke pay you to replace even your CFLs with LEDs – see the chart below about why this is a good idea and how to select your bulbs.

Duke EE Lightbulbs

Duke EE LED bulbs

LED vs CFL vs Incandescent Bulbs

LED vs CFL vs Incandescent Bulbs

Appliance Recycling

Make Duke pay you $50 to pick up and recycle your outdated, energy hog old frig!

Duke EE Appliance Recycling

 Smart $aver

The  home improvement rebate programs help you make your home more comfortable. You can improve the air quality in your home, fix uneven temperature spots and make sure your equipment is running efficiently. These changes help you reduce your energy usage and save on your monthly bill!

Make Duke Energy pay you to save energy, save money and reduce your carbon footprint.

Duke EE Smart Saver

Duke EE Smart Saver List

Save Energy and Money Programs and Information

Get a free customized report that will show you how your home uses energy — and other specific recommendations to reduce your energy use. Get answers to your energy questions and learn how to make simple low cost changes that result in big savings.

Duke EE Save Energy and Money

If you are a formewr Progress Energy customers there are similar but sightly different programs. Check the Duke Energy website for details.

After the Elections: Pollution Has Consequences

Yes,  time to fight harder!

Pollution Has Consequences

Mary Anne Hitt, Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign

November 6, 2014

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Elections have consequences—that’s a common political trope we hear after every election, and it’s true. It’s also true that pollution has consequences, and those hit Americans right where they live, from kids with asthma, to rivers fouled with coal pollution, to the farmer in the grip of an unending drought made worse by climate change.

pollutionelection
Pollution will still have consequences. Decisions about energy will continue to be made at the local and state level, by utility commissions and state regulators who are usually far less partisan and polarized than their federal counterparts—and those are venues where every one of us can and should get engaged.

As the new report by the world’s leading scientists makes clear, the effect of climate pollution released over the next two years will be far more lasting and irrevocable than anything that happens in the 114th Congress. So now is not the time for despair—it’s time for us to double down and do the most effective, strategic work of our lives.

While Americans showed their anger and frustration at the voting booth and sent new leadership to Congress this week, they did not vote for dirty air, dirty water or dirty energy. However, unless we do our work very well, that is just what they will get. In the next two years we will need to defend the progress that has been made to address climate change, shift away from fossil fuels to clean energy, and safeguard public health from dangerous air and water pollution.

Federally, climate deniers are poised to take the reins in several key U.S. Senate committees, and they clearly intend to take aim at a whole host of air, water and climate safeguards, especially the Clean Power Plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standard to reduce carbon pollution from power plants.

Meanwhile, in statehouses across the nation, polluters are teeing up a wave of anti-environmental measures, including making it harder for homeowners to go solar, rolling back state clean energy standards and blocking states from reducing their carbon pollution under the Clean Power Plan.

At the same time, when it comes to our progress moving the U.S. beyond coal, we’re not going backwards. No new coal plants are being built in the U.S. right now, our existing coal plants aren’t getting any younger, and clean energy is being installed at such skyrocketing rates that wind and solar are as cheap as fossil fuels in a growing number of states around the country.

Pollution will still have consequences. Decisions about energy will continue to be made at the local and state level, by utility commissions and state regulators who are usually far less partisan and polarized than their federal counterparts—and those are venues where every one of us can and should get engaged.

Poll after poll has shown that the public wants clean air, clean water and action to tackle the climate crisis. We want more investments in clean energy now. Local concerns about public health, air pollution, and clean water will still be the most powerful arguments in the room. And regular people, fighting for their families and their communities, will still be the most powerful force shaping America’s energy future.

I’ll leave you with a couple of pieces of advice that seem very fitting this week, from two strong Appalachian women who I count among my heroes. When Judy Bonds, a leader and legend in the fight to end mountaintop removal, was in failing health, she told her friends and supporters that the best way to honor her legacy was simple: “Fight harder.” And to paraphrase legendary labor organizer Mother Jones, “Don’t whine—organize!”

Nov 20 Discussion with Annie Leonard: Renewable Energy and Education

Have followed Annie Leonard’s journey. Can’t wait to meet and hear from her on these topics.

Annie L in Charlotte

Discussion with Annie Leonard: Renewable Energy and Education

Thursday, November 20, 2014
6:00pm – 8:00pm

Midwood International Auditorium
1817 Central Ave, Charlotte, NC 28205

Join “Story of Stuff” creator, and Greenpeace executive director, Annie Leonard for an interactive discussion of the local and global implications of energy choices. The renewable energy revolution is sweeping the nation and Charlotte can help lead the charge. Mingling and free pizza followed by a Annie’s keynote and lessons from NC solar schools.

HOSTED BY GREENPEACE

Sustainable Commute Challenge – Win $50

Do you walk, bike, or ride transit in Charlotte? Sustain Charlotte’s Transportation Choices Alliance is giving away $50 every weekday in November to the contestant whose photo attracts the most ‘Likes’ in our Sustainable Commute Challenge! Everyone in the Charlotte region is eligible to enter: www.movecharlottesmarter.org/challenge

TCA Challenge

The Moral Imperative to Act on Climate – Nov 13th Program

Make plans to attend this informative and inspiring program! Bring a friend and share the announcement on your Facebook. It’s time to take action!

The Moral Imperative to Act on Climate

Thursday, November 13, 3014, from 6:30pm-8pm
International House, 1817 Central Ave, Suite 215, Charlotte, NC 28205

A Charlotte Interfaith Coalition would like to invite you to join us for a panel discussion about climate change, environmental stewardship and creation care in our respective faiths. The panel will discuss the moral imperative to act.

Panelists include:
Pastor David Jordan – Providence Baptist Church
Imam Atif Chaudhry – Islamic Society of Greater Charlotte
Reverend Nancy Allison – Holy Covenant United Church of Christ
Priest Swaminath Sastrigal – Hindu Priest of Charlotte
Moderator – Susannah Tuttle – North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light

Partners and Supporters:
Being There
Mecklenburg Ministries
Charlotte Cooperation Circle
Greenpeace Charlotte
North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light
National Religious Coalition for Creation Care
Sierra Club Central Piedmont Group
United Religions Initiative
Universal Institute for Successful Aging of Carolinas

Moral Imperative ClimateThe Moral Imperative Flyer