Tag Archives: climate change

“Stop Fracking Our Future!” 9/29 Broomfield

           Clean Energy Action is thrilled to join 350 Colorado for:                “Stop Fracking Our Future!”

When: Sunday, Sept. 29, 4-7pm

Where: Anthem Community Park at Siena Reservoir (15663 Sheridan Pkwy, Broomfield, CO 80020)

What to bring: Water bottle, a drought-resistant native, edible or pollinator plant, bush or fruit/nut tree, planting tools, an old pair of children’s shoes (for an art project showing the # of children impacted by fracking), and lots of friends and family! (Please carpool or take public transit if possible.)

RSVP here! And please spread the word on Facebook here! Want to volunteer? Email volunteer@350colorado.org

Neighborhood fracking is poisoning Colorado communities and accelerating the climate crisis. From methane leaks speeding up climate change to devastating health impacts on frontline communities and the entire region’s F-grade air quality – it is time we put an end to fracking in Colorado. 

Please join us to show your support! This will be an exciting action culminating the Climate Strike Action Week, with a range of activities for everyone! 

***Live Music by Tierro Band Trio with Bridget Law (of Elephant Revival)***

***Face painting and other activities for kids***

***Food & Drinks***

***Build a community garden to absorb carbon and create a positive alternative vision for our future***

***Sign petitions calling for no new fossil fuel infrastructure, including stopping permits for fracking, and a rapid transition to 100% renewable energy***

***Help educate and activate community members about the dangers of fracking and an alternative renewable energy future***

Please also join us for another Climate Strike Action Week frack event: Sept. 25, 8:30 Youth Press Conference, Rally & COGCC hearing. All events happening Sept. 20-29 can be found at www.ClimateStrikeActionWeek.co

Thanks and see you there!

Community Choice Aggregation: A Legislative Path to Energy Freedom

Community Choice Aggregation is an energy freedom program that permits a community to directly access the competitive market to procure power from the energy supplier they choose. This is in contrast to much of Colorado’s current situation in which a monopoly utility (in Boulder this is Xcel) is granted exclusive rights as a region’s energy supplier by the state. The benefits of a free energy market are many; competitive markets can lead to lower rates, the ability to choose sustainably generated power, and the ability to invest in local solutions which create jobs and keeps money in the local economy. CEA endorses policies for energy freedom, and fortunately, local legislators and non-profits like Energy Freedom Colorado are working to make a path to energy freedom for Colorado.

To give you a better understanding of how it works, let’s begin with the power grid. The three main components of a power grid are energy generation, transmission (of electricity over long distances from power plants to local substations), and distribution (of electricity from a substation to the consumer). Community choice aggregation (CCA) is a cooperation between municipal utilities and investor-owned utilities (IOU) in which the municipal CCA purchases power independently, but the transmission, distribution, and customer interface are maintained by the local IOU as shown below. CCAs served about 3.3 million people in 2016 and are growing rapidly in the eight states where they have been legalized, allowing municipalities in these states to choose their power sources in a way that reflects the values of their community, which include factors like cost, environmental impact, and supporting local energy businesses.

Graphic from National Renewable Energy Labs website

To implement CCA in Colorado, our legislature would need to enact CCA legislation, and the Public Utility Commission (PUC) would need to adopt corresponding rules and regulations. Several structural aspects of Colorado’s electricity grid could make this process more complicated than it has been for other states. For example, most states with CCA had already restructured their IOU to make separate companies for power generation and delivery, which simplifies the process of transitioning to municipally controlled power generation. Further, Colorado is not part of a Regional Transmission Organization (RTO), which is an independent, non-profit operator of a large, integrated transmission grid. Instead, each region’s transmission lines are controlled by the local utility, which complicates the task of transporting power from the generation site across a number of independently owned transmission systems to the municipality. Despite the challenges, we can overcome these obstacles and make the change. If you would like to learn more or help move Colorado forward, here are some links for you:

For general background information:
NREL: https://www.nrel.gov/state-local-tribal/blog/posts/community-choice-aggregation-cca-helping-communities-reach-renewable-energy-goals.html
LEAN: http://leanenergyus.org/cca-by-state/
EPA: https://www.epa.gov/greenpower/community-choice-aggregation

For Colorado specific information and/or to get involved in Colorado’s policy efforts:
EFC: http://energyfreedomco.org/

What We Are Watching: Atmospheric Trust Doctrine in the 9th Circuit

Three judges in the 9th Circuit are poised to rule on the leading question in environmental litigation: the legal right to a livable climate. 

Unlike the early decades of U.S. climate action, which focused on legislation and federal agencies, environmental advocates in recent years have increasingly had to rely on states and the courts to demand progress. The 2005 court ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA recognized that sea level rise injures coastal states and required the EPA to regulate greenhouse gasses as pollutants. More recently, cities like New York and Boulder filed suit against Exxon Mobil for their role in the climate crisis. In 2015, youth petitioners brought what may become the flagship climate case of our time against the President and government of the United States. Juliana v. United States alleges that government inaction is denying young people their right to an inhabitable planet. Juliana relies on a long history of public trust doctrine that requires the state to responsibly manage resources held in trust for the public, and advances a new field of “atmospheric trust” litigation. Colorado-based youth climate organization and CEA ally Earth Guardians is a lead plaintiff in the case. 

Thus far, the government has filed numerous procedural challenges seeking to have the District Court throw out the case, or for higher courts to intervene. The case has cleared most of these procedural roadblocks, and the higher courts, although expressing some skepticism about its overall viability, have allowed the case to proceed. 

Most recently, the government filed an appeal to the 9th Circuit to review the plaintiffs’ standing to bring a case. The question of standing often determines the fate of environmental litigation. For example, one of the key hurdles states cleared in Massachusetts v. EPA  was the lack of direct injury due to the small amount of state-owned land that would be affected (the Supreme Court ultimately found that climate change represented a sufficient threat to state sovereignty to give them a claim to injury). In this case, the question of standing challenges the core of atmospheric trust doctrine as the basis for a legal claim. Oral arguments were heard on June 4th

Now the nation and the world waits to see whether the 9th Circuit will allow the case to proceed to trial by affirming Judge Aiken’s conclusion that the youth of this country have a cognizable legal right to a climate capable of sustaining human life.

Further reading: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2954661

Leadership from Below: Climate Coalitions State Intentions in Bonn and Make Demands in Denver

Decision-making in economic and political systems tends to flow from purpose-built leadership positions. Large, unwieldy organizational systems typically endow key leaders, be they CEOs, senior appointees, or committee chairs, with the authority, the resources, and the messaging microphone required to steer the organization with relative ease. However, there are times when the entire organizational system requires an overhaul, and these times often demand that those outside of natural leadership positions take the wheel. Sometimes, when an entrenched organizational scheme requires top-to-bottom overhaul, rather than gentle guidance, those intended to lead must themselves be led. The world of energy finds itself in one such moment today, as seen at both the state and international levels.

Last week international leaders met at COP23, the second “conference of the parties” since the signing of the Paris Agreement. They were meeting to discuss what global climate policy will look like both before and after 2020, when the Agreement officially goes into effect. President Donald Trump’s announcement earlier this year that he plans to withdraw the United States from the Agreement set the tone of the discussions for the official US delegation. The message coming from the intended leaders was that the United States is drawing back from international climate obligations.

However, they were not the only Americans present in Bonn. An unofficial delegation of citizens traveled to the conference, also to represent the United States and to deliver a simple message to the rest of the world: we are still in.

Acitvists gather in Bonn ahead of COP23 summit

This second delegation delivered the America’s Pledge Phase 1 report, detailing the efforts of committed citizens to uphold the standards agreed to in Paris in 2015, in spite of the federal government’s withdrawal. This comprehensive report discusses the success of the U.S. Climate Alliance (of which Colorado is a member and CEA is a proud supporter) and other coalitions that are dedicated to picking up the banner of climate action where the Trump administration has let it fall. This We Are Still In delegation, collectively representing more than half of America’s economy, detailed the steps they have taken to begin working from the bottom up to achieve the 2025 U.S. emissions outcomes asked for by the Paris Accords, and promised additional analysis in a Phase 2 report to be published in 2018. The members of this second delegation may have represented leaders within their respective organizations (mayors, governors, CEOs, board presidents and others), but when it comes to expressing the intentions of the American people as a whole, they are now required to lead from the outside.

As US climate leaders declared their intentions in Bonn, a smaller group of local activists met in Denver to deliver a petition to Xcel Energy at their local headquarters, asking the utility to take the next step towards the post-fossil fuel world.  This group was led by 350 Colorado and the Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate, which represents Clean Energy Action and 22 community, faith, and environmental organizations from around Colorado. Our requests included

  • the closure of all Xcel coal plants by 2030
  • the closure of all fracking gas plants by 2035
  • a commitment to convert to at least 80% renewable sources of electricity by 2030
  • completion of a study by the end of 2018 that explores how to achieve 100% renewable electricity in Colorado by 2030

Micah Parkin delivers the petition to Xcel corporate HQ at 1800 Larimer Streeet

The CCLC represents more than 100,00 Coloradans, and speaks to the expressed desires of many more. This petition represents the work of climate warriors across the state who believe that now is the time for Xcel to end their lifelong reliance on coal and natural gas. “Xcel Energy has a great opportunity to move away from fossil fuels and provide customers with the affordable, clean energy they’re demanding,” said Kevin Cross, a member of the Fort Collins Sustainability Group and a leader of CCLC. As American leaders announce our renewed commitment to the Paris Agreement in Germany, there is no better time for our electric utility to step up its commitment to providing cleaner, cheaper energy for our state.

These petitioners may represent many of Xcel’s ratepayers and workers, but they do not hold the reins of Colorado’s grid infrastructure. The petitioners are not the PUC commissioners, corporate officers, or shareholder representatives; they are not the intended guardians of the state’s power grid. Nonetheless, the failure of the intended leadership to responsibly weigh the consequences of our collective decisions requires us, like the representatives of the We Are Still In delegation, to lead from without.

On the same day, separated by an ocean and thousands of miles, two coalitions delivered two statements to which Clean Energy Action was a party. We recently asked our supporters to sign a petition to Governor Hickenlooper to bring Colorado into the US Climate Alliance, and we see the effects of those signatures in Bonn where Colorado is one of nine states fully committed to the coalition. More recently we asked our supporters to affix their names to the CCLC’s petition to Xcel, and our voices were heard loud and clear in Denver last week demanding a greener, more efficient future.  Both efforts demonstrate that it is not only possible to exercise leadership from outside traditional positions of power, but sometimes it is necessary.

We thank the Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate, the We Are Still Coalition, and the US Climate Alliance, but most of all we thank all of you who provide the citizen power that carries us forward.

For further reading, check out the articles by Climate Action and the Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate.

OCTOBER 23: UTILITIES KNEW ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE

Clean Energy Action invites you to join us for a talk by

DAVID POMERANTZ

Executive Director of the Energy & Policy Institute and co-author of Utilities Knew: Documenting Electric Utilities’ Early Knowledge and Ongoing Deception on Climate Change from 1968-2017

MONDAY 10⋅23⋅17

6:30 pm: Light Refreshments

7:00 pm: Presentation

BUTCHER AUDITORIUM

SE Corner of JSCBB Biotech, 3415 Colorado Avenue, Boulder CO 80303

David Pomerantz will be speaking about the shocking story of electric utilities’ knowledge and cover-up of climate change beginning half a century ago.  Clean Energy Action believes that it is critical that the public hear what Mr. Pomerantz has to say, so this event is free and open to the public. Please join us and invite others!