I talked with Jeff Ordower, the North American director for 350.org, about how the climate movement can pivot from blocking things to helping clean energy infrastructure get built.
Great to hear this conversation... Also, fwiw, living in the land of Aloha (where it's 8:35 AM as I write this), I gotta say love the smell of a fresh podcast episode from David Roberts and Volts in the morning... ;-)
I’ve been thinking a lot about this episode, and all the reasons I found it so discouraging to listen to. The natural environment and the people who care about it are a part of the solution to climate change, not the barrier.
Yes, like everyone else, sometimes environmentalists can be selfish and confused and short-sighted. But the solution is not to destroy the environment in order to save it. That’s not a message to win people over, and it’s not an approach that actually works.
I am in the process of trying to get my local school to transition facilities and fleet to clean and renewable. I'm in GA and here the Facilities Management, Administration, individual schools and School Board are all siloed and there is no one whose job it is to be innovative in updating how the institution operates. The parents ,the schools, the community all very much want solar and EV buses but they don't have any agency in getting the institution to change there process of fleet or facilities and the people who's jobs that is is to run the district are not interested in learning a new process and tend to tell the Superintendent that is is not economically or process viable to make these changes. We even have an incredible funding mechanism: an Educational Special Local Option Sales Tax that is voted on about every five year and always passes giving the district about 130,000,000 over a five year period to update buildings. I have learned that there is no committee or input on the build list. It is generated exclusively by the ESPLOST administration and build office and gets a cursory vote of approval from the school board who doesn't even weigh in on projects. We had to back up create a Clean and Renewable energy resolution for the school board to adopt with action items (which they haven't yet) to give them some leverage to weigh in on making an institutional change. We have spent hours explaining all the benefits both economically and for marginalized and at risk populations in our community. I've got a pretty dedicated crew working on this and we hope by the end of this year we can get the resolution adopted that will begin a two year process of exploration on a path of funding and process that will lead to about five years to begin to adopt fleet changes (hopefully within the window of IRA funds) and begins to, at least on new builds, to have solar as part of plan and buses to replace back up generators on campuses. While we've been working on this it seems people still very much consider this a wealthy "problem" and even armed with data we struggle to make it relevant to uplifting families and curriculum - but I mean we are not gonna stop so if we crack the code I'll let you know.....
Actually, I'm not impressed. It sounds like 350 intends to be yet another consumer advocate harping about the cost of cheap American electricity (and gas?, wasn't clear) rates. And, like the other enviro/progressives, wanting to focus on rooftop and "community" solar and efficiency retrofits. Maybe support "utility solar and wind" but the "red line" is if some indigenous activist pipes up about who knows what on so-called traditional land or waters. "Cultural resources" seems to be the catch-all for the Yakama in David's home state.
I'm constantly pissed at my local utility (Xcel Colorado), but we do community GHG inventories and the only thing going down is the GHG pollution from our electricity supply, almost all due to utility wind and solar. Though young woke Denver journalists gotta go find "victims and villains" stories about the downtrodden rural folks. (I did like learning that the anti-wind power activist spread her flyers on windshields at the NRA meeting. There's some savvy organizing.)
Nationwide, the long-term "community" utilities of rural co-ops and municipal utilities have not generally been in the forefront of clean power. With some major exceptions.
I was amazed looking at the pics from recent climate protests in NYC. Despite being the epicenter of a battle royale over offshore wind from Maine to Virginia, I saw a sea of signs "stop/end/etc.," w/ a smattering of "justice," but nada in support of this. In the pod, it sounds like 350 has no trouble fighting rich beachfront homeowners about this, but the windpower opponents trot out fisherman, whale watchers, mayors of small towns against the big bad utilities and multinational builders/owners.
Somewhere I read that schools are already the commercial/institutional building type most likely to have roof top solar by some huge margin. Our high school does. To make it pencil out, despite net metering in Colorado, I think they sell the RECs back to Xcel ("Solar Rewards"), but still point to "their" clean power supply.
I was very inspired to work on State of Washington legislation to limit Public Utilities from using rate-payer money to fund lobbying. Great to hear that this passed in three States. I read that FERC is considering this but I could not find their conclusion.
Thanks again. A great ad for 350.org, a group that is building the most power in the correct, difficult and intelligent direction for ultimate climate progress.