Sunday, April 17, 2011

Is It Summer Yet? Sunday April 17, 2011

Big Bay Point Lighthouse
Big Bay Point Lighthouse, Lake Superior, built in 1896. Close your eyes and whisper "It will be summer again, it will be summer again, it will be summer again" over and over and make this cold wind go away...

When the headlines follow your thoughts. I uttered this sentiment to an industry professional just the other day...

  • "Clean energy race falls to states, private sector as Congress puts up roadblocks" reads the Freep this morning. The green revolution is going to have to come from the bottom up, at least for the next year and a half. Maybe longer, who knows - but it is coming, and states like California with its shiny new 33% RPS by 2020, and cities like Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor with their renewable energy targets are leading the way. Make no mistake, the loss of federal policy/funding is going to hurt, but hopefully this is just a short pause in the progress.

  • Continued press will help with the effort, too. The Freep is featuring the 2011 Michigan Green Leaders awards today, with stories from businesses and the political world that highlight how far we have come. Follow that link to see the winners.

  • The world itself paused on clean energy efforts in the 1Q of 2011 as investment overall dropped 34%. Ouch. Part of the reason is cutbacks on incentives in Europe, part of it was a "hangover" from a flurry of investment in the 4Q of 2010. Look for it to bounce back again, especially if oil prices continue to climb.

  • Chrysler has announced they will offer a consumer line of natural gas powered vehicles starting in 2017. Hard to tell if this will catch on or not. If it does, it certainly will make for a cluttered infrastructure of gas, electric, and natural gas fueling stations.

  • Speaking of those stations, Kalamazoo now has a public electric car charging station downtown, its second in the city. Once again, thank you Consumers Energy.

  • Auto critic Mark Phelan of the Freep spends a week with the Volt. He's impressed. Another good "everyday life" review.

  • One thing overlooked about electric cars - they don't pay the gasoline taxes that go to fix the roads. And other things. Oops, never thought about that. Oregon has though, and they are considering a road usage tax per mile to make up the difference. Washington (state) is considering a flat yearly fee. This is something that everyone is going to need to consider eventually.

  • The Great Lakes Bay Economic Development Partnership isn't waiting on MEDC to go after the new GE solar panel plant; they are submitting a proposal soon. Good for them.

  • On the environmental front, the NY Times points out that the new batch of Republican governors are turning back the clock on environmental protections for their respective states. How sad. Do we have to set the rivers on fire again before we learn this lesson? And, after the budget deal that announced cuts to Great Lakes Restoration, out comes a report that invasive mussels are doing a number on the ecosystem that surrounds us - and it's happening faster than we know. Fingers crossed we wake up and take care of the world around us, because we will pay the price if we don't...

  • ... and on the flipside of that, we have companies and consumers taking the initiative to preserve the planet, which is a great thing. Chicago-based Green Planet Bottling is making 100% plant-based water bottles, and Oakland Community College has introduced the product on campus. The bottles are reusable, and compost within 80 days. Let's hope they catch on. Coke went to a formula with 30% organic material in 2009, so we are getting there.

    That's it for This Week in Green. Much better than budget battles, isn't it? Have a great day everyone.