The following radio reports are done in partnership with Public News Service. Please click on the headline to read the entire article or on the highlighted “HERE” to listen to the report.

After Granholm meeting, ND renewable-energy officials talk vision

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 By Mike Moen

October 19, 2021   

BELCOURT, N.D. — Renewable-energy advocates in North Dakota are hoping for more federal support to advance projects, after a key meeting with a Biden cabinet member this month.

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm took part in a roundtable discussion last week, hosted by the governor, who along with fossil-fuel leaders promoted practices such as carbon storage in adapting fuel technology.

Other stakeholders pushed for more focus on helping North Dakota pursue avenues such as wind, solar and geothermal heating.

Wes Davis, director of facilities and sustainability at Turtle Mountain Community College, wants more federal resources to educate tribal communities about clean energy infrastructure. “If we’re able to develop curriculum to train these people at tribal colleges, then we can create trades,” Davis explained.

Gov. Newsom signs $15 billion climate-change package but does not address fossil fuel issue

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By Suzanne Potter

September 24, 2021   

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Climate activists are praising Gov. Gavin Newsom for signing a $15 billion climate action package Thursday, but argued he should go one step further, and declare an official “climate emergency” in California.

The bills will fund projects to build up wildfire resilience and combat the drought.

Heidi Harmon, former mayor of San Luis Obispo, said the state needs to think even bigger.

“People in the state of California and everywhere will not do small things for small goals, but they will do big things for big goals,” Harmon asserted. “And California is a big vision state.”

CA groups push for progress for Sea Otter protection

CA groups push for progress for Sea Otter protection

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By Suzanne Potter

September 20, 2021   

MONTEREY BAY, Calif. – This week, conservation groups are celebrating Sea Otter Awareness Week with online and in-person events across the state.

Historically, the Pacific Rim supported between 150,000 and 300,000 sea otters, but the population is now estimated at about 106,000.

Andrew Johnson, California representative with the nonprofit Defenders of Wildlife, said 16,000 endangered southern sea otters once roamed the California coast. Now, only about 3,000 animals are left, mostly between Santa Barbara and San Francisco.

“But they’re still struggling,” said Johnson. “Their numbers are stagnant. They aren’t expanding their range north or south, and haven’t for the last two decades.”

Great white sharks are a threat to the sea otter. But Johnson said human activity does more harm, especially the pollutants and agricultural runoff that end up in the ocean. You can check out the list of sea otter events this week online, at ‘Defenders.org.’

Sea otters were all but wiped out from Northern California waters during the fur trade of the 1800 and 1900s.

California is ground zero in wake of IPCC, U.N. Climate Report

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August 10, 2021

By Suzanne Potter, Public News Service (CA)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Advocates contended a new United Nations report Climate change report United Nations 08/09/2021 waving red flags on climate change is particularly critical for California, where megafires and persistent drought already are becoming the norm.

The report also predicts up to a foot of sea-level rise by mid-century.

Mary Creasman, CEO of the California League of Conservation Voters, said the way forward is to wean our transportation and buildings off of oil and gas, and stop using single use-plastics, made from petroleum. “We need a government that is going to mandate and regulate corporate polluters, fossil-fuel industries, carbon emissions, to get to the change we need by 2030. That’s the solution,” Creasman asserted.

Nonetheless, this year California lawmakers have stalled or killed bills to require new buildings be all-electric, hold corporate polluters accountable and ban new fracking permits.

What PA, Appalachia Can Learn from Natural Gas Boom’s Failure

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July 21, 2021   

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A new report demonstrates why the last decade’s natural-gas boom in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia fell below expectations and did not generate a large growth in jobs or incomes throughout the region.

companion report examines a model in Washington state from which local leaders in the region can learn to help transition their economies.

Sean O’Leary, senior researcher at the Ohio River Valley Institute, which produced both reports, said as the mining sector increased and local GDP skyrocketed, jobs in the so-called “Frackalachia” area increased by just 1.6%, combined with a population loss of 37,000. “It means that not only has the natural gas industry not produced jobs and prosperity to a significant degree so far, but that it is structurally incapable of doing so in the future as well,” O’Leary asserted.

Measure to Reduce Single-Use Plastic Qualifies for CA 2022 Ballot

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July 21, 2021

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A groundbreaking measure to reduce plastic waste has just qualified for the 2022 ballot.

The proposal would give companies a big incentive to reduce plastic packaging by taxing each item by one penny. It would also make producers meet certain goals for recycling and reuse.

Jennifer Fearing, legislative advocate in Sacramento for the nonprofit Oceana, said the program would raise about a billion dollars a year. “That would go to funding local governments, so they can upgrade waste and recycling systems, to support state and local governments in broader waste recycling and composting, and then the final 30% would go to environmental mitigation,” Fearing outlined.

The American Chemistry Council opposes the measure, proposing instead a more lenient national plan to require all plastic packaging to be made of 30% recycled material by 2030.

Groups call for $10 Billion from congress to bolster CA shorelines against sea-level rise

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By Suzanne Potter 

June 24, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO – Sea levels in California are projected to rise up to 55 inches by the end of the century, so climate advocates are calling on Congress to fund coastal restoration projects to mitigate potential flooding.

More than 100 groups signed a letter calling on lawmakers to include $10 billion for such projects nationwide in the proposed infrastructure bill.

Seventeen-year-old Amelia Fortgang, chair of the Bay Area Youth Climate Summit and youth leadership council member at Earth Echo, said the time for action is now. “At the same time that the skies turn orange from wildfires, our coasts are moving inward,” said Fortgang. “And this is a major issue because in California 85% of our residents live and work in coastal counties.”

AZ Conservationists, Civic Leaders Back Creation of Civilian Climate Corps

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June 15, 2021

PHOENIX — An idea from the past could soon return to Arizona and other states to battle the ravages of climate change.

Groups such as the Sierra Club, Arizona Interfaith Power and Light and others are endorsing the potential of the Civilian Climate Corps, a part of President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan, modeled after the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps.

The original CCC, as it was known, deployed millions of young people in the 1930s to build and maintain infrastructure in national parks and on public lands.

Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter, said a Civilian Climate Corps could protect parks as big as the Grand Canyon or as small as a neighborhood playground.

“It’s a key provision that really helps to put some focus where we need it, which is on climate and on investing in actions to build resiliency,” Bahr asserted. “As we’ve seen in Arizona, climate change is not something in the future. It is happening now.”

Connecticut advocates: Transportation Climate Bill needs vote in special session

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June 14, 2021

HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut environment and health advocates are pushing for the Transportation and Climate Initiative to get a vote in the General Assembly’s special session, which starts Wednesday.

The Initiative is a cap-and-invest program for vehicles in order to curb pollution, and encourage use of clean-energy transit and fuels. It would require companies to pay states when they surpass the cap, then half the money would be invested into communities near transportation corridors.

Lori Brown, executive director of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, is one of many advocates concerned about the bill stalling out this session. “Transportation accounts for 38% of our greenhouse-gas emissions in our state and our region,” Brown noted. “And anything you can do to reduce those emissions takes a big step forward. This is a solution. It’s ready-made.”

OR needs to breach the dam to protect endangered salmon as climate change drought continues

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June 9, 2021

PORTLAND, Ore. – There are signs this summer could be a bad one for the native salmon of the Northwest.

Already, drought has gripped the region, causing low river flows that could be hard for fish to navigate or spawn in. That’s bad news for species already teetering on extinction, especially in the Columbia River Basin.

Betsy Emery, advocacy and campaign manager for the Association of Northwest Steelheaders, said a study this year from the Nez Perce Tribe predicted 77% of Snake River Chinook salmon will be nearly extinct in four years if current trends hold. “Our salmon runs cannot afford one catastrophic event that can really devastate the potential for salmon recovery,” she said, “and so far, we’re seeing a lot of red flags that indicate we could see a catastrophic event like that this summer.”

Pipeline 3 opponents ramp up efforts along MN construction route

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June 8, 2021

BEMIDJI, Minn. — Scores of protesters have gathered in northern Minnesota in hopes of halting the Line 3 oil pipeline project. Native American activists and their allies want to stop construction as the work nears a final phase.

In what’s being billed as a Treaty People Gathering, opponents this week rallied at the headwaters of the Mississippi River before marching to an area where the pipeline and river meet. Protesters say they’re engaging in civil disobedience, including attempts to block a pumping station.

Tara Houska, tribal attorney and environmental and Indigenous rights advocate, livestreamed from some of the events, noting the movement centers around protecting natural resources for tribal communities. “What’s really important to us is our water, our lives, our children, our futures, the animals, the plants, the sacred all around us,” Houska asserted.

Organizers expected crowds of at least 1,500. The latest opposition efforts come amid an expected court ruling this month on a challenge to the state’s approval of Line 3.

Climate change, extreme heat pose challenges for water utilities

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June 4, 2021

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. — The calendar indicates it is June, which means if you live in Arizona, it’s only going to get hotter. And while you can compensate with air conditioning, water utilities are increasingly challenged to deal with problems brought on by the extremes of climate change.

A new report from the Water Utility Climate Alliance details the enormous toll extreme heat takes, both on a utility’s workers and infrastructure, making it more difficult to deliver water.

Mohammed Mahmoud, senior policy analyst for the Central Arizona Project, explained there is a cumulative effect to climate warming that can’t help but change the conditions in which they operate. “Not only are the peak temperatures within the summer season increasing, but also the frequency of days where we are in that higher band of temperatures, certainly above 100 degrees, and even more so above 110 degrees. Those days are increasing,” Mahmoud observed.

Maryland AG: Strike down Trump’s low vehicle-emissions standards

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June 4, 2021

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a public hearing this week to reconsider letting states decide their own vehicle-emissions standards, and Maryland’s attorney general supports the change.

The Trump administration ended the federal Clean Air Act waiver, which allowed California and other states to adopt stricter greenhouse-gas standards for cars and trucks than federal standards. President Joe Biden is pushing to strike down Trump’s rule to reduce emissions that contribute to climate change.

Brian Frosh, Maryland Attorney General, pointed out Maryland is particularly vulnerable to sea-level rise from climate change, and said it’s urgent that courts let other states adopt California’s stricter rules. “The Chesapeake Bay literally runs down the middle of our state; we have more than 3,100 miles of coastline. We have more floods, with more damage, every year.”

With VA Clean Economy Act renewable jobs expand – offshore wind predicted to be huge benefit

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June 4, 2021

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — One year after Virginia adopted its Clean Economy Act, workforce development and new jobs in clean energy are booming in the state, as its economy expands into renewable-energy industries.

Shawn Avery, president and CEO of the Hampton Roads Workforce Council, said wind power, especially, has taken off in the Virginia Beach area. The Council partners with training programs and community colleges to place workers in wind and solar jobs.

He noted the jobs are popular with young people who want to make a difference, and also attract workers moving from coal and manufacturing jobs. “In many of the jobs that are going to be needed offshore, a lot of the skill sets are very much the same, from welding to electronics,” Avery explained. “So, there’s a real correspondence to the jobs in manufacturing, to also the jobs in the clean-energy economy.”

As toxic algae, other issues bloom, FL Environmental Secretary resigns

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June 4, 2021

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today marks the last day on the job for Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) secretary, who turned in his resignation nearly a month before the agency acknowledged the change.

Noah Valenstein turned in his resignation letter May 8, but no public notice was given until reporters started asking questions. The news came as a shock to many in the environmental community, including those who regarded Valenstein for doing his best against the odds.

Aliki Moncrief, executive director of Florida Conservation Voters, said the agency has a lot of challenges ahead. “The person inheriting this, and I know it’s going to be, in the interim, Shawn Hamilton, but whoever ultimately becomes secretary of DEP is inheriting a lot of undone, unfinished business, serious business, and it’s not going to be an easy job,” Moncrief contended.

Red tide and blue-green algae blooms, which killed around 200 tons of marine life three years ago, are already resurfacing in parts of Florida. And there’s ongoing litigation from the April discharge of 215 million gallons of polluted water from the Piney Point phosphate plant into Tampa Bay.

Wildlife crossings reduce collisions, impact of roads in natural areas

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June 3, 2021

Charleston, W.Va. – Wildlife crossings such as green bridges or other structures that allow animals to cross roadways safely have been shown to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions.

Lawmakers, including Sen. Shelley Moore Capito – R-WV, have allocated $350 million toward a pilot wildlife-crossings program as part of the recently unveiled Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act.

Mike Leahy, director of wildlife hunting and fishing policy with the National Wildlife Federation, said West Virginia consistently ranks as one of the top states for collisions between wildlife and vehicles.

He said most of the funding will be used to support projects in rural areas. “Wildlife crossings and other strategies like underpasses and fencing,” said Leahy, “proven really good for keeping wildlife populations moving.”

Big vote today in battle over San Fransisco Bay area air quality

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June 2, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO – A long battle to clean up the air around oil refineries comes to a vote today before the board of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. At issue is whether to require oil refineries to install technology to scrub the air they release and remove harmful pollutants.

Richard Gray, a longtime advocate with the group 350 Bay Area, said the asthma rate in Richmond, near the refineries, is 25% – almost twice the asthma rate statewide. “So, there’s really bad asthma, heart disease; there’s lung disease, low birth weight, dementia, cancer,” he said. “All of these health issues are caused by inhaling particulate matter.”

The board will decide whether to require the Chevron and PBF refineries to add what is known as wet gas-scrubbing technology to their fluid catalytic cracking units or “cat crackers.” The technology would reduce the amount of particulate matter emitted by 70%. The federal government already required the Valero Refinery to install the equipment.

Biden Administration greenlights offshore wind for NC

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May 26, 2021

RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina is ramping up plans to lease offshore wind-energy areas to developers, as the Biden administration expresses support for those efforts.

The green light comes one year before a decade-long Trump-era moratorium on offshore development is slated to go into effect – on July 1, 2022. Despite the pending moratorium, which includes wind energy, U.S. Rep. Deborah Ross, D-N.C., said the state is poised to be a leader in offshore power generation and manufacturing.

“And,” she said, “with a bipartisan effort in our delegation to seek the ability to harness the best offshore wind in the country – and associated research and technology that will go with it – it will benefit North Carolina for decades to come.”

Elected Officials to Protect America backs federal bill to reduce plastic pollution

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May 20, 2021

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Conservation groups are calling for passage of a bill to phase out single-use plastics.

The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act would hold companies accountable for the full life cycle of their products and packaging and expand reuse and refill programs.

Heidi Harmon, mayor of San Luis Obispo and co-chair of the California chapter of Elected Officials to Protect America, said less than 10% of plastic has ever been recycled. Most of it goes from our recycling bins to the incinerator, the landfill and ultimately the oceans. “The industry conned us into believing that plastics were being recycled,” Harmon asserted. “And as a result, since 2005 our plastic waste has doubled. At this rate, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, by weight, by 2050, which is crazy.”

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