Environmental and Natural Resources Preservation and Protection


Markets, States, and the Green Transition
The American Prospect | Fred Block 
“… [U]nder-appreciated state involvement is true of many new technologies and sectors, but it emphatically describes the necessary transition to renewable energy. Private entrepreneurs contemplating investment in green energy face a chicken-and-egg problem. Technologies either do not yet exist, or they do not exist at a competitive price … Unless government intervenes on the supply side—to promote the innovation that is too risky for private entrepreneurs—and on the demand side—to accelerate creation of mass markets for green sources of energy—private industry cannot get the job done.”

Corporations Could Soon Advertise in Our National Parks
In The Public Interest | May 26, 2016
“The Grand Canyon, brought to you by Budweiser. Verizon signs throughout Yellowstone. The thought of advertising in our national parks is nauseating. But it could happen … Anything from sponsoring a bench to designing, building, and even operating a park building would be allowed.”

Yosemite, sponsored by Starbucks? National Parks to start selling some naming rights
Washington Post | May 9, 2016
The policy says park superintendents must perform a number of fundraising duties, said John Garder, budget and appropriations director for the National Parks Conservation Association, the nonprofit advocacy group that lobbies for the parks.

“Does that become a major part of the job?” Garder asked. “Can the Park Service say, ‘This person’s doing an awesome job protecting bison, but they’re not raising enough money?’ ”

Thomas A. Mariani, Jr., Steven O’Rourke and Sarah Himmelhoch | Department of Justice
Service to America Medals
“Secured a record $20.8 billion legal settlement against BP for the devastating 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, providing funds to help a five-state region recover from massive environmental disaster.”

Background: U.S., BP Finalize $20.8 Billion Deepwater Oil Spill Settlement | WSJ

Joseph J. Mueller Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Service to America Medals

“Prevented the collapse of a major dam that threatened the lives and property of thousands of residents and business owners downstream, and could have disrupted New York City’s water supply.”

Background: Water Recedes and Anxiety Rises After Hole Opens Near Upstate New York Dam | NY Times

David A. Hindin |Environmental Protection Agency
Service to America Medals

“Spearheaded the EPA’s use of advanced pollution monitoring technology to increase compliance with federal environmental laws, provide more public transparency and reduce harmful pollutants in our air and waterways.”

Background: EPA adopts rules to limit oil refineries’ emissions into neighborhoods | LA Times

Kathleen B. Hogan | Department of Energy
Service to America Medals

“Developed and expanded a series of pivotal national energy efficiency initiatives that have greatly reduced greenhouse gas emissions and saved American consumers and businesses billions of dollars.”

Background: Better Buildings Challenge Energy Savings Exceed $1.3B | Facility Executive

ALEC calls for penalties on ‘freerider’ homeowners in assault on clean energy
The Guardian | December 4, 2013
“An alliance of corporations and conservative activists is mobilising to penalise homeowners who install their own solar panels – casting them as “freeriders” – in a sweeping new offensive against renewable energy…[T]he American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)…promote[s] legislation with goals ranging from penalising individual homeowners and weakening state clean energy regulations, to blocking the Environmental Protection Agency, which is Barack Obama’s main channel for climate action…In November [2013], Arizona became the first state to charge customers for installing solar panels.”

Supporters want to know why solar tax credit extension was vetoed
The NM Political Report | April 15, 2015
“In April 2015, New Mexico New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez vetoed an extension of the Solar Market Development Tax Credit, set to expire in 2016. “The tax credit provides up to ten percent of the cost of solar photovoltaic or solar thermal systems for residential and small business customers.” The reason for her veto was not made public but she had also “vetoed House Bill 296, which would have extended the solar market development tax credit for residential and small businesses to leased systems.”

Solar blowback hits Reid’s Nevada
Politico | December 22, 2015
“In December 2015, Nevada “dealt a lethal blow…to rooftop solar power – the latest skirmish of a nationwide green energy battle…” The Nevada Public Utilities Commission, “responding to a law signed last spring by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, voted to slash the payments that Buffett-owned NV Energy must pay to homeowners whose rooftop solar panels feed electricity into the grid…NV Energy can also charge rooftop solar owners a fee for allowing them to sell power to the grid.”

Nevada’s Solar Bait-and-Switch
The New York Times | February 1, 2016
“The Nevada Public Utilities commission, “justified its decision by citing grid construction and maintenance costs that rooftop solar users haven’t been charged for, but circumstantial evidence suggests that other factors played a role…Numerous studies suggest that rooftop solar’s impact on the grid is at best beneficial, at worst slightly negative — in either case, not a justification for substantially raising solar users’ rates … All three commission members were appointed or reappointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, whose two election campaigns have received a total of $20,000, the maximum allowed donation under Nevada law, from NV Energy, the Berkshire Hathaway-owned utility that is a major beneficiary of the rate changes.”

Freedom to Harm
Public Goods Post 
This Post is about the erasure of regulations that is taking place outside of the media spotlight. It takes its title from a 2013 book by Thomas McGarity, who wrote about the consequences of eliminating regulations that protect people and the planet, thereby giving corporations the “freedom to harm.”

Underway today, if out of sight, is the “deconstruction of the administrative state” promised by the Trump White House. This deconstruction is aggressive and violent: it means the demolition of the capacity of our government to protect the safety and health of Americans, to repair and maintain our basic physical infrastructure, to protect the environment and to provide myriad essential public goods and services. Read more…

The Quiet Revolution and a Submerged Para-state
Public Goods Post 
Under normal circumstance, it would be safe to assume that “public goods” are delivered by public agencies.  But current circumstances are far from normal.  Over the last several decades, more and more public goods have been delivered by a para-state, a privatized government virtually hidden from view. We taxpayers still pay, but our money goes to a growing army of corporations on the public payroll.

Private corporations operate programs, deliver services and even manage other contractors. Some citizens receiving public services encounter only private contract workers, so are unaware that they are receiving a government service. While some forms of contract procurement have been in place since the nation’s birth, the very nature of contracting has changed as it has grown in scope. Basic governmental functions are now outsourced to for-profit corporations. Read more…