It’s the Fourth of July and you just ate a red pepper to cool down from the heat. Well, maybe there are better ways to cool down, but without a doubt it’s going to be hot on the Fourth. This year’s holiday will differ from previous years, with less of the usual trappings of parades, fireworks displays, concerts and picnics because of the pandemic, but as usual, you can count on scorching heat. Read more.
In the few weeks since the death of George Floyd, environmental advocacy groups have been checking their mission statements and action plans for any hints of racial insensitivity and to examine how best to support movements such as Black Lives Matter and unite against injustice in environment and race.
The phrase “I can’t breathe” is the link that joins the environment and the racial justice movements. That was George Floyd’s and Eric Garner’s plea and also the cry of people of color whose health problems are associated with air pollution and other toxicities that disproportionally surround their lives. Garner, after all, lived in a neighborhood that received an F grade from the American Lung Association’s 2018 State of the Air report.
In the wake of Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis, several nonprofit environmental organizations were quick to issue strong statements opposing police brutality and promise a period of self-reflection and rededication to principles of diversity and racial equity.
UPDATED — Alabama regulators voted today to give the go-ahead to Alabama Power Company’s request to add almost 2 million megawatts of energy from natural gas sources to its capacity to generate electricity. The plan, proposed last year, would include a new 726-megawatt gas unit at its Plant Barry near Mobile.
The commission also voted to delay consideration of Alabama Power’s additional request to add 400 megawatts in solar-plus-storage generation to its inventory.
Combined, the requests are estimated to cost Alabama Power $1.1 billion, which ultimately would be paid by its customers. Read more.
Alabama Power Company’s parent organization told shareholders it will reduce its greenhouse carbon emissions to “net zero” by 2050 for all its electric and gas operations, replacing its 2018 commitment to a “low-to-no carbon” future for all.
The company will, however, continue to use fossil fuels to generate most of its energy and depend on carbon-reduction technology and energy-efficiency, tree-planting and other programs to offset its use of natural gas and coal to generate energy.
Southern’s CEO, Tom Fanning, also said the company may be able achieve 50% of its goal by as early as 2025.
Public drinking water is safe, and one thing Alabama residents don’t need to worry about, as the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the state, the director of the Alabama Department of Environment said.
“With so many things Alabamians have to worry about – their jobs, social distancing, the welfare of loved ones, gathering food and other necessities — the safety of their drinking water shouldn’t be one of them,” ADEM Director Lance LeFleur said. “The water they get from their tap, whether it’s from a large municipal system or a small, rural utility, is 100 percent safe due to the proven safety requirements they are required to follow and that ADEM enforces. Read more.
News of warmer water under a huge western Antarctic glacier should catch the attention of folks along coastal Alabama, a UAB polar scientist said this week.
Last week scientists announced that sea water under the Florida-sized Thwaites Glacier is 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than expected. That’s a finding that UAB polar scientist James B. McClintock expects will push expected sea level rise toward the upper range of the 0.9 to 3.6 feet predicted last year by the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change.
“This is something we care about in Alabama, because it’s going to increase the calculations for sea level rise on the Gulf Coast. It’s going to be important to you if you’re living in especially low-lying areas like Bayou la Batre or the western side of Dauphin Island, for example,” McClintock said.
McClintock, a UAB Endowed University Professor of Polar and Marine Biology, is scheduled to deliver talks Thursday to the Cahaba River Society annual meeting and Saturday during a community dialogue of the Citizens’ Climate Education-Birmingham. Read more.
A fight over ABC Coke’s air pollution in Birmingham and Tarrant entered federal court Tuesday as groups charged that a consent decree agreement approved last spring is too weak to guarantee that unlawful discharges of the cancer-causing chemical benzene will stop. The action came in response to a government motion two weeks ago to finalize the consent decree. The Jefferson County Department of Health said today that it supported making the decree final. Read more.
The most efficient way to combat climate change is to make fossil fuel use more expensive, an International Monetary Fund study found last October. The IMF also said sending the money from a tax or fee on coal and oil straight to citizens would blunt the economic disruption of that strategy. Read more.
A Feb. 8 event at the McWane Science Center on how to deal with the changing climate is scheduled to draw participants from multiple points of view, including energy industry heavyweight Seth Hammett, UAB polar researcher James McClintock and atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University.
“Faith Meets Business: Climate Solutions for the Common Good” is billed as a community dialogue and will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. It is sponsored by the nonprofit Citizens’ Climate Education-Birmingham. Read more.
Reporters from Southeastern newsrooms hold leaders in their communities accountable for reducing carbon emissions and preparing for climate change-related emergencies.
Like hundreds of other cities, Louisville, Kentucky, is searching for a path to address climate change.
Mayor Greg Fischer has declared a climate emergency, proposed a climate action plan and set a goal of reducing citywide carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050.
To get there, however, Fischer needs the cooperation of the region’s electric utility, Louisville Gas and Electric Co., which depends on coal and, with its related companies, has committed only to cutting carbon emissions 70 percent from 2010 levels by 2050.
Even that more modest commitment, though, is now in doubt, based on recent comments by LG&E’s chief operating officer, Lonnie Bellar, at an energy conference last fall, dominated by coal interests. In discussing his company’s own carbon reduction plan, Bellar declined to make any promises about a clean energy future.
At the fall meeting of the Southern States Energy Board, an organization of Southern governors and lawmakers, Bellar said his company was planning for different carbon reduction options, “free of commitments.”
”We want to continue to provide energy to our customers at a low reasonable cost,” he said. “If that means coal it means coal. If that means some other resource, it means some other resource.”
Louisville illustrates a fairly common obstacle: communities with little control over the monopoly electric utilities that serve them.
Today, in Caught Off Guard, InsideClimate News and nine newsrooms across seven Southeastern states are publishing stories on the progress and problems their communities face in relation to climate change. The region lags behind others in renewable electricity and faces some of the biggest global warming threats in the nation.
In reporting their stories, the journalists found communities struggling with funding, or with a lack of political will, and the need for technological breakthroughs to meet climate change head on. Read more.