IEEFA Energy Finance 2016: Utility Companies Are Fighting Tooth and Nail Against Rooftop Solar

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Panelists at Energy Finance 2016 this afternoon described how utility companies are battling frantically to stop the spread of rooftop solar.George Cavros of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy said solar proponents nonetheless have attracted a broad coalition of supporters that cross traditional political lines.Cavros said a ballot initiative in Florida to protect rooftop net-metering—which allows homeowners and businesses to be less reliant on the electricity grid—includes large retailers, environmentalists, Christian groups and Tea Party activists.“The media was entranced by the fact that conservatives were supporting solar power … but conservatives come at it from the position that no one can tell me what I can do on my roof. It’s very much an anti-monopoly movement. It’s a pretty formidable coalition.”Karl Rabago, director of the Pace Energy and Climate Center, said utility companies are arguing for never-ending commitments by ratepayers that leave them as captive customers.“They’re saying I installed a pole for you and you can’t stop using it.”Panelists said utility companies have responded to net metering with ballot initiatives of their own and with tainted public policy research and think-tank studies meant to spread disinformation.Thad Culler, an energy-industry lawyer with Keys Fox & Wiedman, said “this messaging has worked for regulators, but customers want something different.”He said substantial rooftop solar rights movements have taken root in 40 states since 2013, and the issue, once regional, has become national.Rabago said rooftop solar rights resonate in the “sharing economy,” in which business models like Uber, Zipcar, and AirBnB have gained huge traction.The issue, he said, “is in vital need of common-sense communication.” IEEFA Energy Finance 2016: Utility Companies Are Fighting Tooth and Nail Against Rooftop Solarlast_img read more

Colombia Fights Environmental Damage of Drug Trade

first_img The damage caused by illegal crops is “frighteningly large, because one hectare of illicit crops can destroy three hectares of rain forest in Colombia, for example,” an official at Colombia’s Ministry of Environmental Affairs, Housing and Development said. “Additionally, the raw chemical materials that are used in processing cocaine hydrochloride destroy indigenous plant cover, ecological niches, and food chains, the microflora and microfauna, and they dramatically alter the rain and climate patterns.” Cocaine hydrochloride is a fine, crystalline powder similar in appearance to confectioner’s sugar. According to estimates by the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), “one hectare yields enough cocaine to produce 4,600 grams of cocaine hydrochloride. This means that in order to produce one gram of cocaine hydrochloride, drug traffickers destroy approximately 6.5 square meters (70 square feet) of forest area.” An official with the Ministry of Environmental Affairs emphasized, however, that “the impact of illicit crops on the environment cannot be measured only in terms of how many hectares or square kilometers are affected.” “Processing drugs like cocaine and heroin has a significant impact on the environment, that is, both coca and poppies are heavily cultivated in a process that involves deforestation, planting the crops and the use of pesticides against weeds, insects and disease causing organisms,” said the official, who did not want to be named in the article. The same source said that “all of these activities can have a considerable adverse effect on human health and the environment, as well as a significant impact on biodiversity, similar to the impact caused by deforestation.” “Although the total surface area of the land used for these activities is relatively small, a high portion of the illicit crop cultivation and drug production occurs in remote areas that are close by or part of critical biodiversity areas, such as the Andean zone,” the source said. Processing damage Colombian officials defended the practice of crop dusting to destroy illegal coca plants. “At this time, the likelihood of accidentally crop dusting unintended sites is low, since we estimate that this only happens in 1% of the eradication efforts,” said an official at the Ministry of Environmental Affairs. “Specifically, the glysophate used in eradication programs is stationary in the environment, and it quickly becomes strongly fixed when it comes into contact with soil and aquatic sediments,” the official said. “It is also biologically active for only a short time in the soil and the water, and does not become biomagnified. It does not move through the food chain and does not filter down the underground water.” Scientifically speaking, according to experts at the Ministry of Environmental Affairs, “land where coca is cultivated has a tendency towards erosion because perennial plants are not as effective as a rain forest in absorbing water and keeping soil in place. “In addition, the tree canopy lessens the impact of raindrops that would otherwise remove particulates from the soil, which would increase the probability of erosion,” said the official at the Ministry of Environmental Affairs. “The practice of repeatedly planting in such fragile soil could quickly lead to deterioration in the environment and depletion of natural resources, especially soil erosion and the loss of topsoil and sediment downstream,” the Ministry official said. “The very process of refining coca leaves into cocaine causes serious environmental damage due to irresponsible disposal of the toxic chemicals that are used in the process,” officials at the Ministry of Environmental Affairs said in a written statement. “The disposal of chemicals used in cultivating and manufacturing narcotics also has devastating effects on rain forest ecosystems.” “Usually, when drug manufacturers dispose of toxic waste, they indiscriminately dump it into the nearest stream of water, where the damage increases significantly,” the official at the Ministry of Environmental Affairs told Diálogo. Likewise, “they dump these chemicals on the soil, and the chemicals can then filter through to underground water. Substances used to excess in the fields can also be washed away by the rain to the local water basin,” the official said. At several recent gatherings, scientists have demonstrated that the global drug problem ─ in particular drug processing and manufacturing ─ is damaging the flora and fauna of some of the world’s most environmentally sensitive areas. Colombia is one of the countries most affected by the drug trade, but it also treasures its biodiversity more than almost any other country in the world, Colombian military officials said. “An essential element of this war is our common and shared responsibilities, which means that we must focus our attention on the link in the production chain where the impact will be the greatest, whether that is the production, trafficking or use of the drugs,” said a source at the Ministry of Defense. “In order to deal with this problem, we must have clearly defined comprehensive and balanced strategies that attack each and every part of this phenomenon, and put a stop to its adverse impact on the environment,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous. To that end, the government of Colombia “has sponsored specific initiatives on this subject, and seeks to show the rest of the world the negative effects that drugs have on the environment and on our nation’s communities where these drugs are grown,” the source said. “Online and print pamphlets, photo exhibits, and children’s ad campaigns have been developed to raise the target audience’s awareness about the impact drug use has on the environment, and about the damage suffered by the communities located in the production areas,” the source at the Ministry of Defense said. The Colombian government is also taking the message to the region’s political leaders. At the 12th Summit of the Tuxtla Mechanism for Dialogue and Cooperation held Oct. 24-26 at Cartagena de Indias, President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón called for “a consistent response in the war on drugs and the war against climate change.” In addition to Colombia’s leader, the gathering included heads of state and government officials from Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Luis Alberto Moreno attended the meeting, along with other representatives of international organizations. Created in 1991, the Tuxtla Mechanism holds annual summits that address political, economic, trade, and other issues. Fixing the mess center_img By Dialogo December 28, 2010 Planting damage Drug damage It’s not going to be easy or quick to fix the damage caused by illicit drug production in Colombia’s forests and jungles. “Because their actions involve indiscriminate use of pesticides, fertilizers and corrective measures by those cultivating the crops, these actions alter the physiochemical properties of the soil. On top of that, we must consider the practice of burning rain forest to gain land for crops, and reductions in the flora and microfauna in the soil such as symbiotic bacteria, larvae, etc. Based on this, we can say that it takes a very long time to recover from and repair the damages caused by these processes,” the environmental official said. “In addition,” the expert continued, “the soil is a source of nutrients and as such it is intimately related to the vegetation. Therefore, there will be similar delays, possibly for years, in recovery for the vegetation and later, successive processes if we do not take action to restore the ecological balance and speed up the recovery in the affected areas.” In a report on the impact of drug chemicals in the environment, the Ministry of Environment listed four major concerns: 1. Toxicity, because the effects of the compounds on humans and mammals can range from allergies to acute pain to death. 2. Bioaccumulation, because many pesticides that are used in cultivating illicit crops can accumulate in one type of tissue or another. Lymphophilic pesticides remain in fishes’ fatty tissues, while other pesticides are digested and excreted as waste. 3. Affinity, because the compounds may be attracted to the solid materials in the soil, to the liquids in bodies of water, or they may be volatile. 4. Lastly we have persistence, because a compound may biodegrade in just a few months or it may take years. Most modern pesticides have a half life as long as the amount of time it takes to control the pests. The Ministry of Environmental Affairs added, in conclusion, that “the most difficult type of damage to repair is the ecological imbalance created by contamination in different ecosystems.” “Furthermore, the emissions from refineries used to process the illicit crops increase the concentrations of CO2 and other greenhouses gases in the atmosphere…Consequently, we have identified deforestation, burning of forests, and displacement of natural flora and fauna as the greatest environmental dangers caused by the presence of illicit crops.”last_img read more