clean energy

USDA announces grants for underutilized renewable technology

The USDA will offer $144 million in grants to help farmers install under-utilized renewable energy technology, such as small-scale windmills, announced Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday. The clean energy equipment could reduce costs and increase income, said the USDA.

After years of losses, rural population is growing slowly

Rural America, home to one in seven Americans, “is growing again after a decade of overall population loss” and is now home to 46 million people, said the USDA’s “Rural America at a Glance” report on Wednesday. Rural employment has recovered from the job losses of the pandemic, and 1 percent of rural workers hold clean energy jobs, about the same number as are employed in fossil fuels.

Opinion: How farmers can be at the forefront of the climate solution

More than a half century after the first Earth Day, with our planet in worse shape than it’s ever been, the challenge of slowing global warming and the environmental, economic and social devastation underway can sometimes feel like too much — too expensive, too complicated and too politically divisive to overcome. But when we wake up every morning in rural Marion County, Iowa, we aren’t filled with despair. We’re filled with hope in a revolutionary idea: that farmers will help mitigate climate damage that farmers will help mitigate climate damage if we pay them to make their operations more resilient and sustainable. (No paywall)

Big increases for rural power, WIC, ag research in Biden proposal

Most of the increased spending proposed by President Biden for USDA's so-called discretionary accounts would go to three things: Rural electricity, WIC and agricultural research. If approved by Congress, the money would accelerate the shift to cleaner electricity, help low-income families put food on the table and, as part of climate mitigation, find ways to verify carbon sequestration and greenhouse-gas reduction on the farm, said the White House.

Biden links climate change, jobs and environmental justice

Introducing his climate team, President-elect Biden said his administration would respond to the existential threat of climate change "by building a modern, climate-resilient infrastructure and a clean energy future" that would put millions of Americans to work. "And we are committed to facing climate change by delivering environmental justice." 

Organic Valley starts project to run on renewable energy only

Wisconsin-based Organic Valley, the largest U.S. cooperative for organic farmers, launched a project to become the largest food company in the world to get all of its electricity from renewable sources. The co-op will be part of a "community solar partnership" that will install 12 megawatts of solar power in the state.

EPA announces it will scrap Clean Power Plan

The EPA intends to repeal the Clean Power Plan — an Obama-era effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 — according to a document circulated within the agency’s Regulatory Screening Agency.

U.S. to close international climate change office

The Energy Department announced it would be disbanding the Office of International Climate and Technology, which was established in 2010 to help foreign countries lower their greenhouse gas emissions.

Trump says a decision ‘very soon’ on Paris climate treaty

During brief exchanges with reporters, President Trump said he would announce "very soon" whether he would withdraw the United States from the Paris climate treaty, adding, "I’m hearing from a lot of people, both ways." There were widespread reports that the White House has decided on withdrawal.

China set to replace U.S. as global leader in climate-change policy

In the past it’s been the U.S. pushing China to clean up its energy portfolio and lower emissions, but under Trump the tables could turn, says The New York Times. China has publicly called on all signatories, including the U.S., of the Paris climate treaty to respect the pact. Trump has said he will back out of the deal and this week signed an executive order to reverse the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which lowered carbon emissions from coal plants.

Trump expected to roll back Obama’s clean-power plan on Tuesday

President Trump will sign an executive order this week to undo President Obama’s 2015 clean-power plan, EPA secretary Scott Pruitt revealed in an interview with ABC’s This Week. The plan was designed to reduce carbon emissions in the U.S. by 30 percent from 2005 levels before 2030, in part by targeting carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Donald Trump has several ways he can outmaneuver greens

If Donald Trump pushes ahead with his promises to dismantle President Obama’s climate-change policies, he’ll face tough fights from environmental groups. But Trump has a few tactics he can use to outmaneuver the opposition, reports The New York Times.

With Trump in office, will China become world’s hope for confronting climate change?

Under a Trump administration, China could become the world champion for climate change reform, says Reuters: “China worked closely with the administration of outgoing President Barack Obama to build momentum ahead of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. The partnership of the two biggest greenhouse gas emitters helped get nearly 200 countries to support the pact at the historic meet in France's capital.”

USDA releases $300 million for rural energy efficiency

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $300 million in loans and grants to help small businesses switch to more energy efficient equipment and renewable energy sources such as solar panels. "Cutting energy waste is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways to help families save money on their energy bills while reducing carbon pollution," said Vilsack.

Democratic platform boosts family farms, stewardship, clean energy

At its presidential convention opening today, the Democratic Party will adopt a platform that vows to support family farms, "provide a focused safety net" and encourage development of clean fuels. "We believe that in order to be effective in keeping our air and water clean and combatting climate change, we must enlist farmers as partners in promoting conservation and stewardship," says the 55-page draft.

Chemist who developed artificial photosynthesis gets ‘genius’ grant

Plants convert energy from the sun into chemical energy through photosynthesis. Chemist Peidong Yang, of U-California, spent about 10 years accomplishing "a similar feat with the help of semiconductor nanowires and bacteria," says the Los Angeles Times.

As ethanol use rises, energy content of gasoline dips

The Energy Department says with ethanol and other oxygenates comprising 10 percent of the fuel supply for cars and light trucks, the energy content of gasoline has fallen by 3 percent over a 20-year period.