Let ‘Em Know!

Lots going on (or trying to!) in Albany and beyond on environmental issues. Here are just a few links to support important legislation being considered:

Solar Energy
This week the State legislature approved new tax incentives to encourage the installation of more solar electric (photovoltaic) panels in New York. This is great news, but the lack of opportunity for net metering (selling excess power back to the grid) remains been one of the biggest impediments to the growth of solar in New York State. Under current laws, home solar systems have limited net metering abilities and commercial installations have NONE. This is a huge lost opportunity to ease strain on our electrical grid and prevent power outages during the summer, since the peak demand for power (particularly in NYC) occurs at the time when solar panels are at their most effective: in the middle of the day. What can you do?
Send a message to Albany to loosen restrictions on net metering!

  • UPDATE from Vote Solar: New York is on a roll. The state also just passed legislation to update its net metering standard, from a claustrophobic 10 kW cap for solar installations, limited to residential only, up to a gold-standard 2 MW, open to all customer classes. This significantly opens the market for large scale solar in New York, and is a critical step towards building a major solar market in the Empire State.

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
Under the RGGI, New York will make dirty power plants clean up their act by requiring them to cut carbon dioxide emissions and pay a price for any remaining pollution. Polluter Pays… what a concept!
Tell the Department of Environmental Conservation that you support the RGGI

Bigger Better Bottle Bill
A favorite at Sustainable Flatbush (see here and here), this bill passed the State Assembly on June 11th, and must now pass the Republican-controlled Senate. The bill would add 5-cent deposits to non-carbonated beverages such as bottled water, iced tea, and sports drinks, whose market share was nonexistent when our current bottle bill was enacted in 1982. According to NYPIRG, “nearly 3 billion non-carbonated beverage bottles and cans end up in the trash or polluting our state’s rivers, beaches, and neighborhoods each year because they don’t have a deposit”… so the bill’s potential to reduce litter and increase recycling is huge. I don’t have a link to email your Senator, but will update the post if I find one.

Okay, this one is federal, but also very important:
Green Jobs Act and “Green Block Grant” Program
Activist Van Jones (if you don’t know him yet, check him out!) has this to say about the legislation:

A fully funded Green Jobs Act will distribute $125 million per year to identify needed skills, develop training programs, and train workers for jobs in a range of green industries. That’s enough money to train 30,000 people in green trades – every year. It targets a broad range of populations for eligibility, but it has a special focus on creating “green pathways out of poverty.” In other words, this Act can connect the people who MOST need work – to the work that MOST needs to get done.

A fully funded Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program will distribute $2 billion per year to cities and local governments for energy conservation, energy audits, fuel conservation programs, and the use of renewable energy. These “Green” block grants could create tens of thousands of green-collar jobs – accessible to low-income city residents who most need opportunities and careers.

Urge your Congressperson and Senators to support these programs!

Now go have a beer!

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