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energy & environment
10 Ideas for Energy and Environment
Summer 2009 National Director Hilary Doe Chair of the Editorial Board Gracye Cheng Director of Center for Energy and Environment Riley Wyman Alumni Advisor and Contributing Editor AJ Singletary Senior Fellows Dan Blue Cory Connolly National Editorial Board Clayton Ferrara Frank Lin Fay Pappas Melanie Wright Yunwen Zhang
The Roosevelt Institute Campus Network A division of the Roosevelt Institute 2100 M St NW Suite 610 Washington, DC 20037 Copyright 2009 by the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute. All rights reserved. The opinions and statements expressed herein are the sole view of the authors and do not reflect the views of the national organization, its chapters, or affiliates.
This series was made possible by the generosity of Mr. Stephan Loewentheil.
Table of Contents
Using Anaerobic Digestors to Meet Rural Renewable Standards James Hobbs Incentivizing Alternatives to Chemical Fertilizer Alex Greenspan Moving Waste Management to the Future Malin Dartnell and Shanell Davis Endowment Investment in Energy-Saving Retrofits Paul Burger Revolving Loan Funds for Campus Sustainability Projects Alex Wall and Naomi Harris Weatherizing Rental Properties John Deisinger, Abigail Homans, Erin Kilburn, Dia Kirby, Adam Marshall, Anne McShane, Emily Rhodes, and Will Skora Utilizing Renewable Energy through a Community-Based Model Cory Connolly, Olivia Cohn, Daniel Blue Expanding the Weatherization Assistance Program Sarah Collins and Valerie Bieberich Proactive Conservation Policy for Offshore Wind Projects Daniel Blue Disposable Shopping Bag Tax Elizabeth Miller The Next Big Thing: Water Crisis Riley Wyman
8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28
p Letter from the Editor
arlier this year, the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network adopted Think Impact, a model that re-emphasized our organization’s founding goals of looking to young people for ideas and action, twin forces necessary in the pursuit of change. The ideas you will read about in this year’s first 10 Ideas series are the result of the admirable creativity, hard work, and scholarship of Roosevelters. These publications—on Defense and Diplomacy, Economic Development, Education, Energy & the Environment, Equal Justice, and Health—are also a testament to these authors’ engagement with the world. In environments that can be insular, Roosevelters show a willingness to look outwards, to think critically about problems on a local, state, and national level. But, to this end, these publications should only serve as a starting point of a greater process. Roosevelters must be willing to act in the communities where these ideas can most effect positive change. For concepts that you find inspiring, we hope that you are motivated to leverage them for the benefit of your own campus, city or state, and that you seek out channels and movements through which to bring these ideas to fruition. And, in instances where you disagree, we hope that you are challenged to see how you might improve on or adapt an idea. Gracye Cheng Chair of the National Editorial Board
Strategist’s Note P
nergy and the environment are in vogue. Polar bears pull at heart strings and hybrid cars inundate the streets of LA. But beneath marketing tactics lays a budding movement of innovative ideas transforming the face of America’s landscape and economy. Many of the challenges facing the energy and environmental movement are not unique— limited funds, vocal opposition, and fragmented messaging all pose obstacles. The economic downturn hits this field particularly hard, even though environmental and economic concerns are hardly mutually exclusive. They are codependent solutions. While energy and environmental policy face the same obstacles as many other fields, the unique nature of potential policy mechanisms provides its own set of challenges. National climate change legislation has passed, but much of the needed policy must occur at more local levels. Questions of authority continue to plague policymakers, as university, city, state, regional, and federal interests rarely align in easily definable ways. Moreover, because so much technology is still missing, policy must both create solutions and develop infrastructure. In a field requiring significant technological and scientific background, it is difficult for policy to maintain a realistic and functional scope. Many of these authors have done more than put pen to paper — they are bringing their ideas to fruition. Alex Wall and Naomi Harris from Northwestern have worked with their school to create a revolving loan fund (RLF) on their campus, while simultaneously working with students from other schools to provide models and suggestions for further development. Cory Connolly and Dan Blue, Senior Fellows, have worked with Van Jones, national “Green Jobs Czar” in the Obama Administration, on developing feed-in-tariffs and wind energy in Michigan. These are just two examples of how students are partaking in a new kind of student activism — identifying problems, conducting research, and then engaging the policy process with pragmatic and innovative solutions. With the goal of developing both functional, progressive policy and innovative, thoughtful leaders, the Energy and Environment Center has had a fantastic level of success this year. With events in Chicago, Washington D.C, and East Lansing, with three journals—The Catalyst, Growing a Green Midwestern Economy, and 10 Ideas for Change—and with growing membership and participation, the students in this Center have brought passion to paper and to the doors of policymakers. This is the generation that will inherit today’s challenges. An empowered group of creative and inspired youth, these students are the next generation of public leaders. Riley Wyman Lead Strategist for Energy and the Environment
Using Anaerobic Digestors to Meet Rural Renewable Standards
James Hobbs, Colorado College States with high potential for anaerobic digestion should tailor their Renewable Portfolio Standards to benefit rural communities, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create stable diversified sources of renewable energy. In an anaerobic digestion (AD) facility, organic waste is processed to produce methane and carbon dioxide biogas which can be burned to generate heat or electrical energy. Livestock manure is an input fuel, but it remains underutilized in current manure management systems. In fact, the same biochemical processes which could produce biogas instead release methane, a greenhouse gas roughly 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Nationwide, AD could prevent the release of 96 billion ft3/year, while generating 6.3 million MWh/year. The environmental and ecological benefits of AD are widely accepted. Methane emissions are mitigated, odors are reduced, and reliable renewable energy is produced. Rural and agricultural states should recognize the potential energy which is languishing on their farms and mandate the development of this resource through strong and specific Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS).
• AD technology prevented the release of over 700,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent in 2008 and the EPA estimates it could eventually prevent over fifty times this amount. • In Iowa and North Carolina alone, AD could produce 1.4 million Megawatt hours per year.
Current support for AD is patchwork at best. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) AgSTAR initiative, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and various state programs have not created broad implementation. States should turn to one of their new tools in climate change legislation, the RPS. Legislation mandating that state utilities generate a percentage of their electricity from renewable sources exists in twenty-nine states, and five others have voluntary goals. States that have high AD potential such as Iowa, North Carolina, Minnesota, and California, should tailor their RPS and require a small percentage of electricity in the state to be generated at these facilities. Modest numbers, based on the EPA’s estimates for individual state potential could be used to set realistic goals. The specific tailoring of state RPS is already in use. Nevada and Colorado have tailored their RPS to require utilities to use solar energy to meet 5% and 4% of their demand respectively. States are not alike and they should implement policies which encourage the development of their own abundant resources. This legislation will ensure a diversified energy portfolio while benefitting the rural communities of individual states.
Analysis The goal of this policy is to reduce the release of destructive methane, generate renewable electricity, and boost rural economies. The EPA estimates that over 6000 livestock facilities in the United States could run a digester profitably, but the EPA identifies less than 150 such digesters which were in operation in February, 2009. Mandating the use of this technology through RPS would provide a policy force, but it would not independently meet the economic costs of digesters. At Gordondale Farms in Nelsonville, Wisconsin capital expenditures were $748,000, but the facility recouped those costs in roughly 6 years, a period of time which is fairly consistent in AD literature. For a small farm, the cost and risk of this investment are high. This would not be that case for a large public utility, where the break-even point would come much sooner than investment in a coal or nuclear plant. RPS mandates effectively shift the original capital costs to utility companies. However, the gross capital investment is relatively small for large corporations, and these investments have been shown to operate profitably. Opportunities This policy has the ability to create Talking Points a new and lasting coalition in a new • AD can reduce potent greenhouse gas energy economy. AD will not create emissions while creating renewable enan immense source of energy, but it ergy and boosting rural economies. can reduce greenhouse gas emissions • States should recognize their unique rewhile providing growth and stable innewable strengths, and utilize their RPS come to rural areas. Certain changes to develop the energy sources which are to RPS law could make this more palmost prevalent and which will most benatable for utilities as well. Any power efit their citizens. generated by a digester, but used on the farm or used to power the digester itself, should be counted towards the overall percentage of renewable energy that the utility must provide. Even though this power never reaches the grid, it reduces demand and cuts methane emissions. Next Steps This policy should move through state legislatures, hopefully with bipartisan sponsorship. It will be expedient to focus on amending and modifying these relatively new laws as they are debated and developed so that specific, state energy sources can be utilized without stand-alone legislation. Sources
“Annual Emission Reductions: CO2 Equivalent,” chart, The EPA AgSTAR program, http://www.epa.gov/agstar/ accomplish.html (accessed April 10, 2009). EPA. Market Opportunities for Biogas Recovery Systems: A Guide to Identifying Candidates for On-Farm and Centralized Systems. http://www.epa.gov/agstar/pdf/biogas%20 recovery%20systemsscreenres.pdf (ac cessed April 10, 2009). Martin, John H., Jr. An Evaluation of a Mesophilic, Modified Plug Flow Anaerobic Digester for Dairy Cattle Manure. http://www.focusonenergy.com/data/common/ dmsFiles/ W_RW_REFR_GordondaleFeasReport. pdf (accessed April 10, 2009). “Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS),” map, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, http://www.pewclimate. org/what_s_being_done/in_the_states/rps.cfm (accessed April 10, 2009).
Incentivizing Alternatives to Chemical Fertilizer
Alex Greenspan, University of Colorado - Boulder Agricultural reliance on chemical nitrogen fertilizer is environmentally damaging and increases crop price volatility. The USDA can encourage adoption of organic alternatives to chemical fertilizer through expansion of the Conservation Stewardship Program. The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) provides technical and financial assistance to farmers for eligible conservation practices (Lehrer, 2008). The CSP was created in the 2008 Farm Bill from the previous Conservation Security Program, established in 2002. Within its first six years, development of the program re-mained limited by budget caps and appropriations delays. As of 2008, approximately 2.1 millions acres of farmland across the United States have contracts with the CSP. However, the 2008 Farm Bill authorizes funds for the expansion of the program Key Facts by 12 million acres per • Chemical nitrogen fertilizer production is responsible for year over the next 1 to 2 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions (Jensthree years, at an esen and Hauggard-Nielsen, 2004). timated cost of 18 dol• From 2000 to 2006, a 17 percent reduction in natural gas lars per acre (Lehrer, supplies doubled fertilizer prices (Huang, 2007). 2008). All contracts • 24-32 percent of all nitrogen fertilizer applied in the USA from CSP’s predecesis unnecessary (Trachtenberg and Ogg, 1994). sor have been trans• Manure can provide 7.5 percent of the United State’s ferred to the new nitrogen requirements Economic Research Service, program, but because 2005). this is the new CSP’s • Nitrogen fixing cover crops can provide 72-158 pounds of first year in existence, nitrogen per acre at 32 to 51 dollars per acre, compared the program has not with 138 pounds of nitrogen at 36 dollars per acre of corn started enrolling new (Managing Cover Crops Profitably, 2007). land. • Cover crops reduce nitrogen runoff by 15 to 30 percent (Jensen and Hauggaard-Nielsen, 2004). The agricultural ap• Cover crops reduce a farm’s total energy requirements plication of chemical by as much as 20 percent (Jensen and Hauggaard-Nielsfertilizer constitutes en, 2004). the single largest contribution to watershed pollution in the United States (Booth and Campbell, 2007). Nitrogen runoff from the Mississippi River Delta causes the annual formation of the 15,000 km2 Gulf of Mexico “dead zone” incapable of supporting marine life. Additionally, the production of chemical fertilizer is dependent on natural gas consumption, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and crop-price volatility. Furthermore, American farmers, on average, apply between 24 and 32 percent more fertilizer than what is needed for maximum crop yields (Trachtenberg and Ogg, 1994).
The CSP provides financial and technical assistance to farmers for management practices that replace chemical fertilizer with environmentally safe alternatives and minimize nitrogen runoff. Such practices include conservative applications of chemical fertilizer, the use of manure as a nitrogen source, and use of nitrogen fixing cover crops (Lehrer, 2008). The two main criticisms against U.S. agricultural subsidies is that they give competitive economic advantage to American farmers over those in developing countries and encourage environ-mentally reckless crop production. CSP payments avoid these stakeholder concerns by providing financial support compensating farmers for the costs of environmentally conservative management practices rather than for the amount of a commodity produced. Next Steps The Conservation Stewardship Program is the USDA organization best established to address chemical fertilizer dependency in the status quo. However, the CSP currently provides financial assistance to farmers for conservation activities in eight Talking Points different categories of “Enhancement • Runoff from nitrogen fertilizer is the single activity.” Fertilizer use is included dilargest contributor to watershed contamirectly or indirectly in the categories nation in the United States. of Soil Quality and Water Quality. • Production of nitrogen fertilizer contribIn order to more effectively address utes more to greenhouse gas emissions fertilizer use, the CSP should crethan any other agricultural source. ate a ninth category solely and spe• Reliance on chemical fertilizer increases cifically tailored to reduce the use crop price volatility. of chemical fertilizers. Fur-thermore, • Current nitrogen fertilizer application is future legislation could mandate that largely unnecessary. a minimum percentage of CSP con• Organic alternatives to chemical fertilizer tracts fall under this new “fertilizer can reduce costs without impacting crop enhancement.” yields.
Booth, Mary. and Campbell, Chris. 2007. Spring Nitrate Flux in the Mississippi River Basin: A Landscape Model with Conservation Applications. Environmental Science and Technology. 41(15): 5410 -5418. Economic Research Service(US). Nitrogen used on corn, rate per fertilized acre receiving nitrogen, selected states [Internet]. US Fertilizer Use and Price Data Set: United States Department of Ag-riculture; 2007, Oct. Available from: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/FertilizerUse/ Economic Research Service (US). Population, income, education, and employment [Internet]. United States Department of Agriculture; 2009, May. Available from: http://www.ers.usda.gov/StateFacts/US.htm Huang, Wen-yuan. 2007. Economic Research Service (US). Impact of rising natural gas price on U.S. ammonia supply. United States Department of Agriculture. Outlook report no. WRS 0702. Available from http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/WRS0702/ Jensen, Erik. and Hauggaard-Nielsen, Henrik. 2004. How can increased use of biological N2 fixa-tion in agriculture benefit the environment? Plant and Soil. 252(1): 177-186. Lehrer, Nadine. 2008. Negotiating a political path to agroforestry through the Conservation Secutiry Program. Agroforest Systems: 73:103-116. Managing Cover Crops Profitably (3rd ed.). 2007. Beltsville, MD: Sustainable Agriculture Network. Sheriff, Glen. 2005. Efficient waste? Why farmers over-apply nutrients and the implications for policy design. Review of Agricultural Economics 27(4): 542-557. Trachtenberg, Eric. and Ogg, Clayton. 1994. Potential for reducing nitrogen pollution through im-proved agronomic practices. Journal of the Ameri can Water Resources Association. 30(6): 1109-1118.
Moving Waste Management to the Future: Implementing a Facultative Bioreactor
Malin Dartnell and Shanell Davis, The University of Georgia The installation of a faculative bioreactor in Athens-Clarke County will provide an efficient waste management method and will generate renewable and environmentally sustainable energy for the University of Georgia. Bioreactors are a type of waste treatment facility. They differ from traditional dry-tomb landfills in that leachate, moisture generated within the landfill, and sometimes oxygen are circulated through the landfill in an effort to break down waste more efficiently. As organic waste breaks down, methane gas is released, which can then be captured and used for energy. The increased rate of biodegration increases the vertical space of a landfill in a shorter timespan, creating more room as waste breaks down. Currently, Athens-Clarke County (ACC) has a permitted Subtitle D landfill that will reach capacity within the next 5 years. The Waste Reduction Committee, chaired by Commissioners Kelly Girtz and Doug Lowry, will determine the best course of action for future waste disposal. In July 2008, ACC purchased 79 acres adjoining the current landfill site. If this land is approved, it could be used as a site for a new landfill or bioreactor.
• Landfill gas emissions account for a total of 34% of US methane emission into the earth’s atmosphere. • Bioreactors can increase vertical space of a landfill by 15-30% within 5-10 years • Methane is 21 times more persistant in the atmosphere and has a greater radiative force than carbon dioxide.
The University of Georgia generates the majority of its energy from burning coal, but supplements this source with natural gas and biodiesel. In five years, the University of Georgia will have to reapply for a permit for the coal-fired boiler that was installed in 1965. With the current tightening of environmental regulations, it is unlikely that the outdated boiler will be approved for use, therefore the university will have to turn to an alternative source of energy. Biodiesel is not cost-effective at this time, and if it becomes cost-effective in the future, this will not devalue the use of gas. Natural gas is not a reliable source of energy because Georgia Natural Gas reallocates the resource when necessary. Costs and Benefits It has been observed that due to its increased capability to trap heat in the atmosphere, methane gas is 20 times more detrimental compared to carbon dioxide. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), landfills are one of the largest sources of anthropogenic methane emission in the US. They account for a total of 34% of US methane emissions into the earth’s atmosphere, which in 2007 was 6,327 Gg. The next two anthropogenic sources, natural gas systems and coal mining emissions, which in 2007 were 4,985 and 2,744 Gg respectively, do not come close to landfill emissions. Within the
next decade, ACC LFG emissions will be too high to allow it to be released freely into the atmosphere, as it will reach the EPA designated limit of 50 Mg/year. Stakeholders When the landfill gas is sold, ACC waste ratepayers will benefit financially as sale of the gas will prevent tipping fees from rising. Alternatively, the revenue could finance other waste-reduction efforts. The operational and long-term landfill maintenance costs will be reduced, eventually decreasing the cost of curbside pick-up. The lifespan of the landfill will be extended, and the new program will create jobs that will boost the local economy. By tapping the gas that will otherwise be released into the atmosphere, the program will improve air quality in the surrounding area.
Next Steps With the support and sponsorship of Commissioner Kelly Girtz, this proposal will be brought before the Waste Reduction Committee. This committee was commissioned by Mayor Heidi Davison in February of 2009 to evaluate the best avenues to take concerning Athens-Clarke County’s waste disposal. If accepted by the Waste Reduction Committee as a feasible course of action to increase the lifespan of the new cell, they will make a formal recommendation to the full body Mayor and Commission. At the same time, the University-County Relations Committee, the communication body between the University of Georgia and ACC, will also deliberate the feasibility of this proposal and make their formal recommendations to their respective full bodies. Finally, they would draft a formal agreement, and the policy would be enacted.
• The Athens-Clarke County landfill will reach capacity within 5 years. • The University of Georgia will have to replace their coal boiler within the next 5 years. • UGA consumes approximately 10-15 million pounds of coal per year, producing approximately 44lbs of oxide emissions per ton of coal burned. According to EPA regulations, it isn’t required to measure methane emissions at this time. • A bioreactor could potentially solve the waste-disposal problem while providing a renewable source of energy for UGA.
Bioreactor.org, “Florida Bioreactor Landfill Demonstration Project-Executive Summary,” Hinkley Center for Solid and Hazardous Waste Management, http://www.bioreactor.org/publications.htm (accessed 13 Novem ber 2008). Bioreactor.org, “Information,” Hinkley Center for Solid and Hazardous Waste Management, http://www.biore actor.org/info.htm (accessed 13 November 2008). Corley, Jim. Interviewed by Malin Dartnell and Shanell Davis. Athens, Georgia, 17 February 2009. Crowe, Ken. Interviewed by Malin Dartnell and Shanell Davis. Athens, Georgia, 1 March 2009. United States Environmental Protection Agency, “2009 Draft U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report,” US EPA, http://epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html (accessed 13 March 2009). United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Fact Sheet: Final Air Regulations for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills,” US EPA,http://epa.gov/ttn/atw/landfill/mswfact.pdf (accessed 11 December 2008). United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Methane,” US EPA, http://www.epa.gov/methane/ (accessed 11 December 2008).
Endowment Investment in Energy-Saving Retrofits
Paul Burger, Michigan State University Publicly funded universities should allocate a percentage of their total unrestricted endowment funds to green retrofitting projects for campus buildings. Climate change is upon us, and it threatens our future. Many broad spectrum technological solutions are not feasible at this time, yet we must take immediate action to slow the environmental degradation that is occurring. Our current economic situation necessitates sustainability solutions that are financially feasible; one such option is to retrofit our buildings with energy efficient technologies. Green retrofitting is simply the exchange of existing technology for more energy-efficient options within a building. It can come in the form of improved building insulation, more efficient climate control systems, low-flow showerheads, motion-sensor lighting, or any other alternative technology that performs the same function as do current methods at a fraction of the energy use. Many universities around the country have already implemented energy-saving retrofitting programs on their campuses with much success: • Stanford University’s Energy Retrofit Program (ERP) invested more than $10M over 15 years. Stanford expects to save $4.2M per year. • The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign invested a total of $4.2M on a lighting retrofit initiative, and expects to save $900,000 per year. • The University at Buffalo Invested $11M on a campus-wide retrofit program and expects to save $1.2M per year. Retrofitting for energy efficiency is essentially an investment with a slow, albeit nearly guaranteed return. If sufficient time is allowed for the energy savings to recover the initial capital and maintenance costs, barring any unforeseen externalities, the investment will pay for itself and continue to accrue savings in the long run. The only variable is the rate of return, which depends on specific retrofitting strategies as well as energy price fluctuations.
• Buildings consume 70 percent of the electricity load in the U.S. • In 2007, 90 percent of electricity in the U.S. was generated using non-renewable sources. • Enrollment in degree-granting institutions increased by 23 percent between 1995 and 2005. • Ten of eleven Big 10 universities held over $1 billion in total endowments in 2007.
Universities provide an ideal economic setting for green retrofitting to take place. As nonprofits with stable financial models, degree-granting institutions have the ability to recover over longer periods of time, and do not run a high risk of bankruptcy. Furthermore, they are prime targets for retrofitting because they often rely primarily on nonrenewable, high-pollution energy.
Stakeholders Many public universities have large endowment funds fed by private donations. These funds are invested in diversified holdings with an aim towards long-term gains. While some of these funds are restricted for use in scholarships or other programs, millions of dollars are left to endowment managers to invest in anything from private equity to commodity futures at their discretion. Publicly funded universities should allocate a percentage of their total unrestricted endowment funds to green retrofitting projects for campus buildings. By shifting these endowment funds into retrofitting initiatives, universities can guarantee capital gains, while directly benefiting the campus atmosphere and the environment as a whole. Using these funds for retrofitting programs will help solve many of the common problems that universities face regarding their endowment funds. With our current market conditions, the return-rate on most investments options is low or negative. Retrofitting return rates, on the other hand, are based upon energy prices and energy savings, creating a low-risk investment with a return rate likely to improve. Also, universities commonly face pressure to invest in socially responsible ways, often leading to non-transparency regarding these investments to avoid public outcry. Retrofitting is not only socially responsible, but it can be marketed to benefit the university’s reputation in the eyes of stakeholders. Not only would a retrofitting program help the institution reduce its energy costs, it would also create social benefits on both local and global levels. For example, retrofitting programs will require planning, construction and maintenance professionals to ensure proper functioning, thus creating jobs, a trained workforce and boosting the local economy. By investing these funds locally, a portion of each dollar spent will be ‘injected’ into the local economy as a whole, resulting in some level of social improvement. Next Steps The benefits of building efficiency retrofits will surely outweigh the costs in the long run. The current economic situation provides a unique opportunity for technological investments, and universities are in a position to successfully take advantage. Given careful planning and ample recovery time, energy-saving retrofits will reap monetary as well as environmental benefits for universities for years to come.
U.S. Green Building Council. “Press Releases.” Retrieved February 25, 2009, from http://www.usgbc.org/News/PressReleaseDetails.aspx?ID=3124 Energy Information Administration. “Electric Power Annual - Summary Statistics for the United States.” Retrieved February 25, 2009, from http:// www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epa/epates.html#_ftn3 U.S. Department of Education - Institute of Education Sciences. “Fast Facts.” Retrieved February 25, 2009, from http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/dis play.asp?id=98 NACUBO. “2007 NACUBO Endowment Study.” Retrieved February 25, 2009, from http://www.nacubo.org/Images/All%20Institutions%20 Listed%20by%20FY%202007%20Market%20Value%20of%20Endowment%20Assets_2007%20NES.pdf Stanford University. “Sustainable Stanford - Energy Initiatives.” Retrieved February 25, 2009, from http://sustainablestanford.stanford.edu/energy_ initiatives University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2008, December 2). “Campus Lighting Retrofits.” Retrieved February 25, 2009, from www.istc.illinois. edu/about/SeminarPresentations/2008-12-02-Sweeney.ppt UB News Center. “As Energy Costs Soar, UB Takes Steps to Save.” Retrieved February 25, 2009, from http://www.buffalo.edu/news/fast-execute. cgi/article-page.html?article=75990009
Revolving Loan Funds for Campus Sustainability Projects
Alex Wall and Naomi Harris, Northwestern University Colleges and universities should establish revolving loan funds as a way to finance projects that increase campus sustainability. Revolving loan funds provide schools with an opportunity to promote sustainability, reduce energy and resource consumption, limit project-inhibiting up-front costs, and encourage student entrepreneurship and innovation. In light of the current economic recession, colleges and universities have become increasingly limited in the amount of capital they can devote to projects that retrofit campus infrastructure and increase sustainability. Since the middle of last year, many colleges and universities in the Midwest have seen their endowments shrink considerably. Between June and December of 2008, the University of Michigan estimates it lost 20-30% of its endowment, while Northwestern University’s endowment has taken a 20 to 25% hit since last August. Yet, by establishing revolving loan funds (RLFs) these schools can contineu to invest in sustainability projects without facing significant project-inhibiting up-front costs. Revolving Loan Funds (RLFs) grant small loans to members of the campus community whose proposals for specific sustainability projects on campus have been approved by a managing board. The fund will be financed by grants, alumni and corporate donations, campus fundraising efforts, and student fees. The savings generated by energy efficiency are paid back into the fund over time until the project is paid for, thus providing a revolving source of capital. RLFs can set up a payback system that allows for growth by setting a target payback percentage greater than the original loan.
• Harsh economic conditions and depreciating endowments make it difficult for colleges and universities to invest in campus sustainability projects. • Revolving loan funds are proven mechanisms that allow academic institutions to finance sustainability projects while limiting up-front costs. • Projects financed by Harvard University’s Green Loan Fund reduced campus emissions by 33,227 metric tons of CO2 and saved 15.5 million gallons of water between 2001 and 2007.
By establishing RLFs, Midwestern colleges and universities can simultaneously practice environmental and fiscal responsibility, while providing vital educational opportunities for students. Furthermore, RLFs will foster a stronger sense of campus community if students, faculty, staff, and administrators are all represented on the fund’s board. Costs and Benefits A few schools have already established RLFs and achieved tremendous benefits. Between 2001 and 2007, Harvard University’s Green Loan Fund financed 147 projects that reduced emissions by 33,227 metric tons of CO2 and saved 15.5 million gallons of water.
Its projected annual savings of over $3 million and an average project return on investment of 26% for 2007, demonstrate its outstanding economic viability. Former Harvard President and U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers went so far as to claim that “the best investment in the University is not the endowment, but the Green Loan Fund.” Student initiated funds with smaller budgets, such as the Macalester College Clean Energy Revolving Fund (CERF), are also capable of making vital contributions to campus sustainability. Macalester’s CERF has received over $97,000 in grants since its establishment in 2006, and is large enough to finance projects that retrofit inefficient buildings on a smaller scale. Critics might argue that potential grant money for an RLF could directly fund a project. However, RLFs offer significant benefits that isolated projects are unlikely to provide. The establishment of an RLF will attract donations specifically geared toward environmental issues. Additionally, the RLF board will ensure greater project visibility by marketing to potential donors and project applicants. Next Steps A working group composed of students, faculty, staff, and administra• Despite current financial limitations, coltors must create a charter that deleges can use Revolving Loan Funds to termines how the fund will operate invest in sustainability projects without within the university structure. The facing project-inhibiting up-front costs. charter should establish a board to operate the fund, requirements for project proposals, and guidelines for loan disbursement and payback. Once the charter is created, the working group should seek approval from the administration. In order for an RLF to succeed, the university must give it the authority to evaluate and approve sustainability projects.
Teams in charge of RLFs must obtain upfront capital to establish the fund. If the fund is set up to be cost-neutral for the university, board members must solicit funding from outside sources such as grants, student fees, and donations from alumni and corporations. Additionally, the board should seek university funding from academic departments and university grants. University money will have a greater impact through an RLF, because it will cycle through multiple projects rather than fund single initiatives.
The Michigan Daily, http://www.michigandaily.com/content/2008-12-08/%E2%80%98u%E2%80%99estimates-endowment-losses-20-30-percent-end-june, and The Daily Northwestern, http://media.www. dailynorthwestern.com/media/storage/paper853/news/2009/01/21/Campus/Endowment.Losing.Value. In.Markets-3591041.shtml. Green Campus Loan Fund: Harvard Office of Sustainability, http://www.greencampus.harvard.edu/gclf/ achievements.php. Green Campus Loan Fund: Harvard Office of Sustainability, http://www.greencampus.harvard.edu/gclf/.Macal ester College Clean Energy Revolving Fund, http://www.macalester.edu/cerf/financing.htm. http://www.greencampus.harvard.edu/gclf/documents/gclf_case_study_100-05_hbs-shad_lighting.pdf
Weatherizing Rental Properties in Kalamazoo, Michigan
John Deisinger, Abigail Homans, Erin Kilburn, Dia Kirby, Adam Marshall, Anne McShane, Emily Rhodes, and Will Skora, Kalamazoo College Create a monetary incentive for rental households to decrease environmental impact of their carbon emissions and to improve the standard of living in the City of Kalamazoo. Households make up about 22% of energy consumption in the United States. Proper and effective weatherization can decrease carbon emissions per household up to 20,074 lb. CO2 annually. Household utility use and payments provides the best measuring device for an individual household’s carbon emissions. Currently, low-income households pay a disproportionate amount of their income toward utility bills due to poorly weatherized units. The U.S. Department of Energy states, “Low-income households typically spend 16% of their total annual income on residential energy costs, compared with 5% for median-income households.” In order to first help those with the greatest needs, rental properties should be prioritized for residential weatherization incentives. Tax incentives, housing grants, and abatements will entice landlords to weatherize, update, and improve rental properties, while also contributing to local efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
• The average utility cost for a home in Kalamazoo is $1406, per home, annually. • For every $1,000,000 invested, weatherization is said to create 52 direct jobs and 23 indirect jobs. • 70% of America’s 7 million lowest-income renters put more than half their incomes toward housing.
Economic Impact The weatherization of a low-income house represents a long term investment. A 2002 weatherization study analyzed the cost of specific measures and their effects on CO2 emissions and energy costs. The report found that the several measures that can be taken to reduce both energy costs and CO2—including air sealing, wrapping water heaters, installing programmable thermostats, insulating attics and walls, installing low-flow showerheads, and switching to compact-fluorescent bulbs—cost, for a low-income house (including overhead) approximately $2,388. Furthermore, not all of the measures need be implemented concurrently. According to the report, the most effective measures to save energy and reduce fuel costs are air sealing (save $119/yr), attic insulation ($55), and wall insulation ($171). These three measures (including overhead costs) would cost approximately $2,112 dollars, saving the house $345/year in energy costs. Environmental Impact As part of the national and global effort to reduce carbon emissions, low-income housing weatherization can substantially reduce carbon output by using less energy. The 2002 DOE study concluded that, after implementing the $2,388 weatherization program, a typical Midwest house could reduce emissions by almost 8,000 lbs of carbon dioxide per
year. Among the possible measures, the most effective were increasing wall-insulation (saving 3,110 pounds/yr), air sealing (2170 pounds/yr), and increasing attic insulation (1010 pounds/yr). By simply applying these three measures to all rental units (approximately 32,000 in Kalamazoo as of 2000), the city could reduce its carbon output by more than 100,000 tons per year. Social Justice Impact For many low-income families, renting is the only housing option. Within the KalamazooBattle Creek area, 25.2% of renter households live below the poverty level; many of these renters experience difficulty paying for basic living expenses. A government survey of low-income residents in Kalamazoo concluded that nearly four in ten could not pay rent at least once during the last year, and 36% had their utilities shut off. Next Steps Renters are characterized by higher levels of • The weatherization of a low-inpoverty than homeowners, and thus have less come house can be adapted to ability to invest in weatherization projects. fit various economic situations— The City of Kalamazoo should provide moneand represents a long term intary incentives to landlords to weatherize their vestment. rental properties. Kalamazoo’s Sustainability • Housing weatherization can subCommission has already highlighted the envistantially reduce carbon output ronmental impact of household energy use by by using less energy. creating a 5-year sustainability plan. However, the plan currently lacks policy on “Land Use, Housing and Planning Policies,” which should be elaborated to include the policy proposed here. Moreover, monetary incentives do not necessarily need to come from tax-payers; funding is already allotted for urban development. For example, the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) under the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) “provides annual grants…to develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment, and by expanding economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons.” Kalamazoo qualifies as a metropolitan area large enough to receive funding through the CDBG and may also be eligible for funding from a similar grant program called the HUD HOME Investment Partnership.
“America’s Rental Housing: Homes for a Diverse Nation.” Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University 2006. 14 Feb. 2009 <http://www. jchs.harvard.edu/publications/rental/rh06_americas_rental_housing.pdf>. Kalamazoo County Health and Services Department. “Community Assessments and Reports: Poverty Report 2008.” Community Action Bureau. 2008. 16 Feb. 2009 <http://www.kalcounty.com/hcs/careps.htm>. National Low-Income Housing Coalition. Local Area Low Income Housing Database. Feb. 2004. 25 Feb. 2008 <https://www2398.ssldomain.com/ nlihc/detail/article.cfm?article_id=3079&id=21>. Schweitzer, Martin, and Joel Eisenberg. “Meeting the Challenge: The Prospect of Achieving 30 Percent Energy Savings Through the Weatheriza tion Assistance Program .” Oak Ridge National Laboratory (May 2002). 20 Feb. 2009 <http://www.cee1.org/eval/db_pdf/309.pdf>. United Sates Department of Energy. “Detail of Whole House Annual Energy Use .” Home Energy Saver. 6 Apr. 2009 <http://hes3.lbl.gov/hes/Zip Carbon.taf?f=ZipCarbon&session_id=1336434>. United States Census Bureau. “Quick Tables: Kalamazoo, MI.” 2000 Census. 22 Feb. 2009 <http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/QT Table?_bm=y&-geo_id=05000US26077&-qr_name=DEC_2000_SF1_U_DP1&-qr_name=DEC_2000_SF1_U_QTH1&-ds_name=DEC_2000_SF1_U&lang=en&redoLog=false&-CONTEXT=qt>. United States Department of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “Program Areas.” Weatherization Assistance Program. Mar. 2009 17 Feb. 2009 <http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/wip/block_grants.cfm>. United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. “Community Development Block Grant Entitlement Communities.” Community Planning and Development. Mar. 2009. 14 Mar. 2009 <http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/communitydevelopment/programs/entitlement/>. - - -. Community Planning and Development. Feb. 2009. HOME Investment Partnerships Program. 6 Feb. 2009 <http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/ affordablehousing/programs/home/>.
Utilizing Renewable Energy through A Community-Based Model
Cory Connolly, Olivia Cohn, and Dan Blue, Michigan State University The cooperative ownership of renewable energy production, coupled with state feed-in tariff (FiT) policies, would increase the level of clean energy generation in any state. The combination can diffuse start-up costs, provide a profit to small communities and cooperatives, and create a stepping-stone to more comprehensive energy policy. Cooperatives can lessen the costs of a project that would otherwise appear daunting for individual investors. A cooperative is a civil association that functions under the concept of shared ownership in order to minimize the costs of a specific enterprise. Electric cooperatives exist throughout the U.S. but primarily utilize fossil fuels. In this model, a cooperative would be composed of residents in a community that want to generate renewable energy with a profit. Through cooperative ownership of a wind turbine or a set of solar panels, costs such as installation, site assessment, and maintenance are shared. FiTs then guarantee a profit for community investors. FiTs mandate that energy rates paid to clean energy generators are set above the market electricity rate per kilowatt-hour of energy produced. A profit is guaranteed for all renewable energy generators; across the country, utilities are currently guaranteed a profit, but use almost all fossil fuels instead of clean energy. This tariff rate for clean energy is spread across the entire consumer base under the program, making the increased average cost minimal.
• In Michigan, the Renewable Portfolio Standard mandates that 10% of energy production originate from renewables by the year 2015. • In one year, Germany offset 97 million tons of CO2 emissions through the employment of renewable energy. • Increases in energy pricing are negligible; average increases in electricity prices would be less than $2.00 to $3.00.
A limited FiT program should be established for clean energy cooperatives that are owned by a minimum of 10 members with no single member owning more than 15% share in the project. The program would guarantee a profitable tariff rate from the local utility for the energy that the project generates. The set rate would be differentiated based on the size of the project, type of technology, and availability of the resource. Focused FiT policies, combined with energy cooperatives, would maximize community sustainability, encourage disaggregated clean energy generation, and provide a stepping stone to future, more comprehensive energy policy. Existing Programs and Recommendations In Germany, effective FiT systems have been used for over five years, with over fifteen years of policy stepping-stones. Since the program amendments of 2004, over 250,000 jobs have been created.1 In 2006 alone, 97 million tons of CO2 emissions were avoided
through the FiT clean energy system.2 These benefits have been achieved while increases in energy pricing were negligible; the average increase in electricity cost in Germany was between $2.00 and $3.00.3 Broad FiT policies have been proposed in six U.S. states, including Michigan.4 Minnesota established a state program called Community Based Energy Development (C-BED) in 2007. This program uses net-metering, guaranteeing energy credits for clean energy produced. This is a less effective clean energy policy than FiTs, as the renewable energy producer is only granted credits, not a profit, for energy that is produced. In Michigan, Representative Valentine introduced HB 4023 in January 2009 under the C-BED title.5 This proposal is almost identical to the current system in Minneosta, which uses net-metering and front-loaded rates. We recommend that instead of using net-metering, the legislation should use a cooperative based FiT system that would guarantee a profit for communities generating clean energy. We also recommend that eligibility is more selectively defined within the legislation and that it should focus on energy cooperatives and community based projects. Currently, the legislation is written in a way that allows far broader eligibility, which is one reason that the legislation has lacked political momentum. Conclusion Much of the opposition for FiTs originates from the potential for increased energy prices and incredulity about program success. Energy prices are unlikely to rise at any significant amount because the project is limited in scope to community-cooperative models. Moreover, even less focused, more comprehensive programs have led to negligible price rises of $2.00 to $3.00. Community-based FiTs allow for exploration of the program with little risk. While this policy would not maximize production of renewable energy like a broad FiT might, it would prove the success of FiTs on a small scale, providing a stepping-stone for future, more comprehensive policy. A FiT program with a community-based structure alleviates political opposition and sets the groundwork for a clean energy future.
 “Feed in Tariffs” SolarCentury, <http://www.actionrenewables.org/uploads_documents/SolarcenturyFeed Tariffguide.pdf>  Büsgen, Uwe, et al. “Feed-In Tariffs – A guide to one of the world’s best environmental policies, Boosting Energy for our Future.” World Future Council, 2007.  Energy Federation of New Zealand ||| Index Home. 25 Apr. 2009 <http://www.energyfed.org.nz/FClark. pdf>  Rickerson, Wilson, James Bradbury, and Florian Beenhold. “The Outlook for Feed-in Tariffs in the United States of America.” World Wind Energy Conference (2008).  State of Michigan House of Representatives. House Bill Number 4023, Introduced 22 Jan. 2009, Repre sentative Mary Valentine, referred to the Committee on Energy and Technology.
Expanding the Weatherization Assistance Program
Sarah Collins and Valerie Bieberich, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) must be expanded to reach more families, increase its educational programming, and make houses more efficient by including renewable energy technology. The recently passed stimulus bill H.R. 1 expanded the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) by $5 billion. Since its inception, the Weatherization Assistance Program has improved over five million low-income homes through methods such as weather-proofing, installing insulation, and sealing unnecessary openings. In addition to weatherizing homes, WAP also encourages the installation of energy efficient products approved by Energy Star, a government-backed program that recommends products meeting Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy efficiency standards. Because WAP’s funding has been significantly increased, Key Facts its programs must be expanded in the • On average, WAP saves low-income most effective way possible. families $358 (in 2007 dollars) in reduced first year energy costs. The activities of WAP should be ex• At FY 2007 funding levels, it would take panded to include more families while 151 years for the 13 million qualifying maintaining emphasis on families sufhouseholds to be weatherized. fering from poverty. For low-income • If all these homes were weatherized, alfamilies, WAP should not only permost 2.75 million jobs would be created. form weatherization and install more In addition, savings per year would balenergy-efficient appliances to lower ance costs within 8 years. energy costs, but actively outfit qualify• Through efficiency gains, renewable and ing households with renewable energy efficiency energy standards and buildtechnologies, especially wind, geothering codes could save consumers $200 mal, biomass, and solar technologies. billion per year by 2030. Investment rebates should subsidize the costs of these technologies and lower the prohibitively high installation costs of these energy sources. WAP can provide the means for average families to overcome these high upfront costs, and these families may then save money with decreased energy usage. The amount sent back to the purchaser can be determined on a sliding scale for income, with higher-income individuals getting less of the costs reimbursed. These rebates should be phased out over time as the industry grows and the private market takes over, increasing competition and driving down prices. For middleto higher-income families, WAP can focus on disseminating information about renewable energy opportunities, including how they may be incorporated into daily energy use now. H.R. 1 contains a provision on tax incentives for increased energy efficiency in homes; WAP should also ensure that people know about these and similar benefits while aiding middle- and higher-income households in meeting efficiency standards.
This expansion in activity can be funded in part by H.R. 1, because many of the proposed reforms merely alter the scope of existing programs. The majority of both the public and policymakers perceive renewable energy technologies to be unavailable and difficult to integrate into the average home. This is incorrect: the technology for these energy forms is developed and available, and its reliability and cost-effectiveness is sure to grow with expanded use. In any comprehensive solution to the energy situation, we need renew• Current energy providers may even pay ables and we need improvements households if their renewable energy gento the grid for the transportation eration outstrips traditional fuel use. of energy from renewable sources. • Wind, geothermal, biomass and solar enProposals are currently underway ergy technologies release fewer emissions in Congress to address the needs of than traditional fuels while potentially prorenewable energies on the grid and viding more power. direct action at the federal level. Although building a new electricity circulatory system equipped to handle to volume of energy being produced could cost upwards of $100 billion, this cost could be spread out over several years and millions of people, making the project less daunting. In order for small-scale renewable energies to be both feasible and successful, this cost is necessary. The larger system must be modernized.
Next Steps The federal government should require that WAP expands its activities to more households and incorporate renewable energies, and offer any additional assistance needed for it to do so. WAP should adopt the program before the stimulus funding is spent, and could test it on a regional basis, maintaining its community-based focus.
Schweitzer, Martin & Tonn, Bruce. “Nonenergy Benefits From the Weatherization Assistance Program: A summary of findings from the recent literature.” Prepared by Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy, 2002. http://www.osti.gov/energycitations/purl.cover. jsp?purl=/814309-YTc0vO/native/, Accessed 7 February, 2008. U.S. EPA and U.S. DOE. “Energy Star.” http://www.energystar.gov. United States Department of Energy. “Weatherization Assistance Program Overview.” Weatherization Assistance Program. http://www.waptac.org/ sp.asp?id=1437, Accessed 6 March, 2008. United States Department of Energy. “Weatherization Assistance Program: Program Funding.” Weatherization Assistance Program. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2008. United States Department of Energy. “Weatherization Assistance Program: Program Overview.” Weatherization Assistance Program. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2008. U.S. Department of Energy. “Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.” Weatherization Assistance Program. http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/weather ization/, Accessed 25 September, 2008. United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. “Ongoing Research.” http://www.huduser.org/research/tech.html, Accessed 6 March, 2008. “Renewable Energy Standard May Save $200B In Annual Energy.” Environmental Leader. 2009. http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/05/21/ renewable-energy-standard-may-save-200b-in-annual-energy/, Acessed 26 May, 2009. Rascoe, Ayesha.“US Senate to tackle renewable energy grid in weeks.” Reuters UK. http://uk.reuters.com/article/emailidUKN2333732420090223, Accessed May 26, 2009. Smith, Rebecca. “New Grid for Renewable Energy Could be Costly.” The Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article_email/ SB123414242155761829-lMyQjAxMDI5MzI0NTEyNDUyWj.html. Accessed May 26, 2009. Wald, Matthew L. “Wind Energy Bumps into Power Grid’s Limits.” The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/27/business/27grid. html?pagewanted=2&emc=eta1. Accessed May 26, 2009. Talbot, David. “Lifeline for Renewable Power.” MIT Technology Review. http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/21747/page1/. Accessed May 26, 2009.
Proactive Conservation Policy for Offshore Wind Projects
Dan Blue, Michigan State University The Great Lakes Fishery Commission should 1) conduct a full study of the five lakes to pre-designate areas in the Great Lakes waters that are critical to the recreational fishing industry and ecological biodiversity, and 2) establish succinct, science-driven criteria for local and state governments to use to evaluate permits for offshore wind projects that ensure the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem and fishing industries. Political support for a national carbon market is growing and effective clean energy policies like feed-in tariffs are on the horizon. For the states surrounding the Great Lakes, offshore wind will eventually be the chief source of clean energy. Wind resources are extremely abundant offshore and thus, more efficient. The Great Lakes region will harvest much of its clean energy from offshore wind, but these energy projects come with a host of additional complications, including disrupting fishery populations. Government approval processes should consider impacts on the ecological system and recreational fishing—a two billion dollar industry in Michigan alone, with countless linkages. Policymakers and officials in charge of permit processes are not aware of the potential impact of offshore farms on fisheries and migration patterns. Historically, similar conservation issues tend to be ignored and then policymakers react only after it is too late to prevent destruction. A continual and distinct challenge for environmental protection surrounding the Great Lakes is jurisdictional complexities. Eight states in America—Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York—all have Great Lakes shoreline, not to mention the international presence of Canada to the north. Moreover, native fishers have a different set of regulations and rights to the fishery resource, typically including using nets, which are prohibited for most fishers. The host of stakeholders who have rights and responsibilities to the highly connected lakes present a problem for comprehensive lake management. In 1955, in order better coordinate fishery management, the Canadian and US governments created the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC), funded by both governments and led by an eight-person board with four members from each nation. The ecological systems and waterways of the Great Lakes are all connected. Fishery migration patterns are complex and require serious scientific investigation to truly understand. Generally, fish are highly sensitive to environmental perturbations and any small change in the climate or habitat of one species by a wind turbine could drastically impact the fish’s spawning and migration patterns, impacting the river systems and inland recreational fishing. In the past, a relatively minor change in weather or habitat in the Great Lakes has altered the migration patterns of steelhead trout in the inland rivers in Michigan. Anglers come from across the country to fish steelhead in Michigan rivers and the state cannot afford
to lose the economic activity that these migration patterns generate. The governors of the eight Great Lakes states, starting with Michigan’s Governor Jennifer Granholm, should request that the commission do two things: 1) conduct a full study of the five lakes to pre-designate areas in the Great Lakes waters that are critical to the recreational fishing industry and ecological biodiversity and 2) establish succinct, science driven criteria for local and state governments to use to evaluate permits for offshore wind projects that ensure the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem and fishing industries. The pre-designation would pre-empt the conflicts that utilities and developers will ultimately have. The areas could become de facto preserves, simply through GLFC designation and spreading the information contained in the report. The set of criterion for local and state governments could be included in the permit approval processes for any offshore wind farm in the Great Lakes. The criterion would include the pre-designation of areas of fishery importance as well as take into account the disruptions to the system involved with the installation of the lines and transmission of the electricity. The Departments of Natural Resources and Fisheries and Wildlife in each of the states would also provide resources to the commission, under the direction of the respective Talking Points Governor. • Offshore wind resources in the Great Lakes are among the highest in the naThe administrative costs associated tion. with mandates are avoided through • The Great Lakes ecosystem and involvthe optional nature of the approval ing waterways are highly connected. criteria and pre-designation. Local • The recreational fishing industry is a maand state governments will be able jor source of economic activity and tourto use the information and criterion ism for Great Lakes states. to craft and re-write their own permit processes over the next few years.
Next Steps Wind development is likely to happen very quickly in the lakes once effective policy is enacted. Developers and utilities will prioritize their developments and some will push for ignoring the impacts on fisheries. Historically, conservation issues and their economic impact tend to be ignored by policymakers until it is too late. With a pro-active policy, we can pre-empt conflicts and save our waterways and our fish. Sources
Michigan annual average wind power, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, http://rredc.nrel.gov/wind/ pubs/atlas/maps/chap3/3-17m.html Snyder, Brian and Kaiser, Mark. Ecological and economic cost-benefit analysis of offshore wind energy. Renew able Energy: An International, Volume 34, Issue 6, June 2009, p 1567-1578 Sportfishing in America, American Sportfishing Association, 2002 Sharp, Eric. “Steelhead activity rises with temps” Detroit Free Press. March 26 2009. <http://www.freep.com/ article/20090326/SPORTS10/903260383/1058/Steelhead+activity+rises+with+temps> Governor Granholm has shown regional leadership on the issue, demonstrated by the recent establishment of the Great Lakes Wind Council in February 2009. The State of Washington’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife’s wind power guidelines from March 2009 could be used a reference point.
Disposable Shopping Bag Tax: Curbing Dependency on Oil & Plastic
Elizabeth Miller, Northwestern University By implementing a twenty-cent tax on paper and plastic bags, cities would generate temporary revenue for local governments, help businesses cut down on costs, and take steps to reverse the ecological damage inflicted by disposable shopping bags. In America, nearly every retail transaction ends with the placement of purchased goods into a disposable shopping bag. However, these symbols of modern convenience are detrimental to the environment in a multitude of ways. The biggest problem with plastic bags is the fact that approximately 12 million barrels of oil go into the production of the 100 billion plastic bags used annually in America.1 Contrary to popular belief, paper bags are no more Key Facts ecologically beneficial than • In the Pacific Ocean, a floating mass of garbage their plastic counterparts. twice the size of Texas has accumulated, much of The manufacture of paper which is comprised of buoyant plastic products.3 bags requires nearly five • According to the World Resources Institute, more times more energy — 2511 than 80 percent of the Earth’s natural forests have BTUs vs. 594 BTUs — than been lost to deforestation. the production of plastic • Every year, Americans use 100 billion plastic bags ones. Furthermore, 14 miland 10 billion paper bags. lion trees are cut down to make the 10 billion paper bags used every year in the United States, which has contributed to the fact that 80 percent of the earth’s natural forests have been lost to deforestation.4 Finally, plastic bags cost approximately one cent per bag and paper bags cost about five cents each, so large grocery stores such as those in Evanston, Illinois spend substantial sums of money to purchase thousands of bags every year.5 In recent years, three policies have emerged as ways to decrease usage of disposable shopping bags: bans, recycling programs, and taxes. When San Francisco implemented a plastic bag ban, consumers merely switched to using paper bags instead of beginning to use reusable ones. Bag recycling programs, another option, are not economically feasible. It costs $4000 to process and recycle one ton of plastic bags, which can be sold on the commodities market for $32.6 Furthermore, it takes 1444 BTUs to recycle a single paper bag.7 While New York City passed a bill in January 2008 requiring all businesses who give out free plastic bags to also collect them for recycling, Mayor Bloomberg has since proposed implementing a six-cent tax on plastic bags.8 This third alternative, taxation of disposable shopping bags, has been proven to be the most effective in changing consumer habits and decreasing usage of disposable shop-
ping bags. Ireland’s tax on plastic bags led to a 90% drop in consumption and raised the equivalent of 9.6 million dollars in its first year alone.9 Even more importantly, it has changed consumer habits. According to The New York Times, carrying plastic bags in Ireland has become “socially unacceptable”.10 In July of 2008, Seattle also passed a twentycent tax on paper and plastic bags, which is predicted to decrease consumption by at least 70%.11 Next Steps Customers of retailers defined by • In Ireland, a 20-cent tax on plastic bags dethe city code as grocery stores, creased consumption by 90% in the first convenience stores, and combinayear after implementation and raised miltion drug/grocery stores would pay lions of Euros for the government. a 20 cent tax on every disposable • Implementing a tax on paper and plastic shopping bag used. Officials in shopping bags in the city of Evanston, IlSeattle determined through their linois would decrease packaging costs for research that 20 cents would be businesses and generate revenue for the costly enough to create a meancity government until disposable bags are ingful impact on shoppers but not no longer used. too high to simply cause outrage instead of consideration, so it would be an appropriate amount to charge in all cities implementing this program.12 To avoid hurting low-income individuals, people who are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) will be exempt from this tax.
1. The Numbers…Believe It or Not. Reusablebags.com. http://www.reusablebags.com/facts.php?id=4 2. Plastic-Bag Ban Full of Holes. USA Today. http://sks.sirs.com/ 3. Garbage Mass is Growing in the Pacific. National Public Radio. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story. php?storyId=89099470 4. Paper Bags Are Better than Plastic, Right? Reusablebags.com. http://www.reusablebags.com/facts.php?id=7, and Forest Holocaust. National Geographic. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/eye/deforestation/effect. html 5. Plastic-Bag Ban Full of Holes. USA Today. http://sks.sirs.com/ 6. Recycling Can Fix This, Right? Reusablebags.com. http://www.reusablebags.com/facts.php?id=5 7. Paper Bags Are Better than Plastic, Right? Reusablebags.com. http://www.reusablebags.com/facts.php?id=7 8. City Council Passes Bill for Recycling of Plastic Bags. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes. com/2008/01/10/nyregion/10bags.html, and In Mayor’s Plan, the Plastic Bag Will Carry a Fee. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/07/nyregion/07bags.html?pagewanted=2 9. The PlasTax - about Ireland’s Plastic Bag Tax. Reusablebags.com. http://www.reusablebags.com/facts php?id=20 10. Motivated by a Tax, Irish Spurn Plastic Bags. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/02/ world/europe/02bags.html?pagewanted=1&_r=211 11. Seattle Mayor Nickels Proposes Green Fee on Shopping Bags to Curb Environmental Impacts. U.S. Mayor (April 2008): http://www.usmayors.org/climateprotection/documents/COM_040708_00_00_011_b.pdf, and “Green Plastic Bag Fee to go before Seattle Voters. Seattlepi.com. http://www.seattlepi.com/local/404422_ bags30.html 12. Disposable Bag Fee and Foam Ban FAQ. Seattle.gov. http://www.seattle.gov/mayor/issues/bringYourBag/ docs/disposable_bag_fee_&_foam_ban_FAQ.pdf
The Next Big Thing: Water Crisis
Riley Wyman, Colorado College n a planet covered 70 percent in water, in bodies that are made up of 60 percent water, and with showers, sinks, toilets, and sprinklers everywhere we turn, it is no surprise that water scarcity is not an issue at the forefront of many minds. While many expect cheap water to be continuously and readily available, “renewable” water resources are depleting. Amidst increasing waste and climate change impacts such as reduced runoff, earlier snowmelt, and increased evapotranspiration, the world is nearing a crisis point. Without addressing the main issues facing water resources today—energy, conservation, and quality—we cannot even being to imagine the consequences. Water and Energy The “energy crisis” of today is forgetting an important element: the precious commodities of each oil and water might soon debilitate the use of the other. In order to generate electricity, we consume incredible amounts of water, and in order to deliver clean water, we consume incredible amounts of energy. Water and energy are inextricably linked. Water consumption does not occur only when running faucets or watering the lawn…it is used when turning on lights and plugging in the toaster. The power used to generate electricity comes from a number of sources in the United States—nuclear, coal, hydroelectric, and more. Thermoelectric (coal) power generation facilities demand significant volumes of freshwater to function, and account for 40 percent of the nation’s freshwater withdrawal and about 3 percent of the nation’s freshwater consumption. This is second only to agricultural irrigation. Nuclear plants, on the other hand, consume 40 percent more water, and natural gas combined cycle plants consume 60 percent less. With changes on the horizon in the types of energy we use, water concerns must be at the forefront of those decision making processes. “Clean coal” technology will demand an estimated 4 to 6 billion gallons of water more a day, not to mention the potential impacts on water quality. Carbon sequestration technology could more than double the amount of water consumed per unit of electricity generated. Wind energy requires very little water, while solar plants require significant amounts of water. Solar plants use as much, if not more, water as nuclear power plants, which poses a significant problem for states like Arizona, who have a lot of solar potential, but very little water. And the transportation sector brings in another whole set of problems—with electric cars requiring 10 times as much water as gasoline and biofuels demanding 20 times as much, shifting the way we fuel our cars can have major implications. The question of the amount of water needed in both current and upcoming methods of power generation is an important one. Worries about water consumption in the attempt to drive energy away from dependence on foreign oil must be considered. A decrease in dependence on foreign oil will lead to a dependence on domestic water, and the implications of this are widespread. Solving the paradox of the oil-water link requires integrated policy, management, and technologies to help enhance one resource without depleting the other.
Water Conservation Instead of simple continued development of new water projects, water conservation mechanisms are important to creating sustainable practices and responsible use of what is often a finite resource. Aquifers are being depleted faster than they can be recharged by the natural water cycle, and many areas rely on piping in water from afar, as local surface water resources are frequently limited. Conservation is not just about turning the water off when brushing your teeth—it is about policies and programs that standardize incentives for both consumers and municipalities to use less. Pricing, reuse, and storage are just three mechanisms that are becoming very important to the world of water conservation. In many areas across the country, especially around the West, water prices are artificially low relative to the cost of providing the water (piping systems, reservoirs, purification, etc.) and the externalities associated (excess effluent, recreation, environmental, etc.). Economic principles suggest that anything scarce and in demand commands a price, and as such, water pricing is becoming a more and more acceptable policy instrument. There are many mechanisms for doing this—selective metering, block pricing, water-use charges, pollution charges, effluence charges, and many more. Regardless of the mechanisms, movement towards pricing structures that more adequately reflect the price of the commodity is necessary towards incentivizing conservation and encouraging awareness among consumers. This is especially important at the agricultural level, where prices are heavily subsidized and use is exceptionally high. The funds accrued from such activities are also important towards investment in water infrastructure, maintenance of existing systems, and developing new technology. Though not fully accepted by the public yet, as technology emerges for the reuse of water, states and local governments are finding more ways to conserve. Water reuse can be very effective, especially in the industrial and agricultural sectors, as issues of water quality are not as stringent. Additionally, as technology catches up in wastewater treatment, health and quality concerns are minimized and “toilet to tap” becomes an increasingly viable and cost-effective option for meeting demand. Pubic education is important here, as there is a natural distaste for the reuse of water for consumption. Legal changes, too, are important, as experimentation and treatment standards change the need for protective legal codes and as downstream water rights complicate matters. Many Western states have effective regulations towards attempting to encourage water reuse, while simultaneously monitoring health and safety issues. Ensuring that laws are reflective of current technology, costs are manageable, and that the public is on board is important and provides outlets for pollution abatement and wastewater disposal. Conserved water during non-drought periods can be effectively stored underground and accessed later when water supplies are less readily available. As public acceptability of surface storage such as dams and reservoirs decreases, the importance of groundwater storage grows. The interconnection between surface and groundwater in water storage helps recharge aquifers, increase capacity of lowered and over drafted water tables, and allows the augmentation of water supplies in an environmentally friendly way. This also provides an outlet for effective conservation measures by having a safe way to protect the conserved water. Ultimately, water storage can provide a buffer against water scarcity 29
and variability, though its overuse could potentially create difficulties in regulated supply. Various legal barriers still exist to the full implementation of water storage projects and must be anticipated and addressed. Water Quality Between urban development, increased agricultural land use, and climate change, water quality concerns are no longer just for developing countries. Without access to clean water resources, preexisting water scarcity is magnified and health concerns become increasingly significant. As cities grow and urban sprawl increases, water supplies face contamination due to impervious areas and careless development techniques. Cement sidewalk, roads, and buildings prevent water from being reabsorbed into the water table, causing increased runoff. The water then carries with it the many pollutants and chemicals of city life, which eventually makes its way back into water supplies. Urban runoff in conjunction with problematic home septic systems have been shown to cause pharmaceutical contamination of water supplies, which poses an even more significant problem because much of the contamination is not filtered through water treatment. Urban contaminants pose a unique type of threat, as municipal water supplies are already stretched. Increased development will only perpetuate these dangers. Perhaps one of the biggest factors impacting water quality, especially in the West, is irresponsible agricultural practice. Irrigation not only puts a burden on already scare water resources, but it also creates heavy salt loading in the water supply. Irrigation causes salts to be leached from underlying soils as the water moves through the subsurface, resulting in a 150% increase in salinity. This causes severe problems not only for crops and water in the area, but especially for supplies downstream where salt levels already tend to be higher. Crop production falls with increases in salinity levels, household water appliances corrode and clog sooner, and water treatment costs go up. Water from the Colorado River alone undergoes around $376million dollars per year on reclamation from salt loading. Furthermore, when combined with pesticide use, irrigation and rain cause chemical runoff that endangers the groundwater supply, increases surface acidity, and can have more widespread impacts like coastal eutrophication and disruptions in the water cycle. The biggest factor impacting water quality in the near future will be rising temperatures from climate change. As temperatures rise, oxygen levels decrease. As streamflow and lake levels fall, pollutants face less dilution. Climate change causes the increase in the frequency and intensity of rainfall, thus producing more pollution and sedimentation due to runoff. The flow magnitudes also increase, which can carry more contaminants through water supplies and overload storm and wastewater systems. As sea levels rise, the increase in salinity of coastal rivers and bays would lead to saltwater intrusion, causing the destruction of groundwater resources in coastal areas. Drinking water supplies are the most important to preserve amidst severe climate change impacts, however, the recreational uses are important considerations too as water quality affects fishing, ecosystems, swimming, and more. To see how this topic develops, join the Center for Energy & the Environment at www.roosevelt.campusnetwork.org
For more information, visit these sources: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-future-of-fuel&page=5 http://www.netl.doe.gov/technologies/coalpower/ewr/pubs/2008_Water_Needs_Analy sis-Final_10-2-2008.pdf http://www.congressional.energy.gov/documents/3-10-09_Final_Testimony_(Bauer)_ (NETL).pdf http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/310/5756/1944 http://www.oecdobserver.org/news/fullstory.php/aid/939/Pricing_water.html
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