U.S. Shift Toward Renewables Is Most Evident in GOP States

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Michael Biesecker for the Associated Press:Wind turbines and solar panels accounted for more than two-thirds of all new electric generation capacity added to the nation’s grid in 2015, according to a recent analysis by the U.S. Department of Energy. The remaining third was largely new power plants fueled by natural gas, which has become cheap and plentiful as a result of hydraulic fracturing.It was the second straight year U.S. investment in renewable energy projects has outpaced that of fossil fuels. Robust growth is once again predicted for this year.And while Republican lawmakers in Washington have fought to protect coal-fired power plants, opposing President Barack Obama’s efforts to curtail climate-warming carbon emissions, data show their home states are often the ones benefiting most from the nation’s accelerating shift to renewable energy.Leading the way in new wind projects are GOP strongholds Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, home to some of the leading critics of climate science and renewable energy incentives in Congress. Republican-dominated North Carolina trails only California in new solar farms, thanks largely to pro-renewables polices enacted years ago under a Democratic legislature.The most dramatic change has been seen in the plummeting cost of emissions-free wind energy, which has declined by two-thirds in the last six years thanks to the availability of cheaper, more efficient turbines. An annual analysis by the investment firm Lazard determined that wind energy is now the lowest-cost energy source, even before federal green-energy tax incentives are factored in.Billions of dollars in private equity are going to construct massive new renewables projects, especially in the Sun Belt and Great Plains. Thousands of miles of new high-voltage transmission lines are also under construction to send power from the wind and sun from the sparsely populated areas where it is collected to the urban centers where it’s needed.Even with the surge in new projects, energy from such renewable sources as wind, solar and water accounted for only about a tenth of total U.S. power generation last year.Still, the U.S. leads the world in wind energy with about 48,800 utility-scale turbines operating across the country, generating enough electricity to power about 20 million homes. By 2030, the Energy Department estimates wind will provide a fifth of the nation’s electricity.“Wind energy is very low-cost and not subject to the fuel price risk that both natural gas and coal face,” said Michael Goggin, senior director of research at the American Wind Energy Association, an industry trade group. “Adding wind is cheaper than new gas or new coal. It is by far the lowest-cost resource.”Coal has dropped over the last decade from providing half of all U.S. electricity to about one-third.While new clean-air regulations and tax incentives for renewables are having a negative impact on coal, the plummeting cost of cleaner-burning natural gas made possible by fracking is largely driving the closure of many old coal-fired power plants. Exports of coal to foreign customers such as China also are down.“We didn’t see the decline coming this fast and this deep,” said Luke Popovich, spokesman for the National Mining Association, an industry trade group.Meanwhile, the long-promised potential of Clean Coal technology has yet to be realized. A model power plant in Mississippi designed to capture the carbon dioxide generated from burning coal has encountered repeated delays and multibillion-dollar cost overruns.Closures mean America’s coal mines now employ about only about 56,700 people, down from a peak of more than 10 times that. By contrast, the fast-growing solar industry now employs more than 210,000 workers. Wind energy accounts for another 77,000 by federal estimates.Political giving by the big coal companies and their executives has declined, but the industry still spends heavily to protect its interests in Washington. Pro-coal interests spent at least $11 million to influence the 2014 Congressional midterm elections, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. More than 95 percent of that went to support Republican candidates.Among them is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who rarely misses an opportunity to blame Obama’s “War on Coal” for killing mining jobs. Nearly all of the 27 states that have sued to stop the administration’s carbon emissions-cutting Clean Power Plan have GOP governors.For Republicans from areas benefiting from renewable energy, the political calculus can be complicated. An increasing number of them try to balance criticizing Obama’s environmental efforts with quietly supporting the federal tax incentives helping drive investment in renewables.GOP leaders compromised with Democrats and a growing number of pro-renewables Republicans to include a five-year extension of tax breaks for wind and solar projects as part of a federal budget agreement approved in December.Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, among the earliest boosters of government support for wind power, points out that fossil fuels and nuclear plants have long benefited from tax credits. Last month, MidAmerican Energy announced plans to invest another $3.6 billion to add new turbines in Iowa, which already gets about a third of its electricity from the wind.“We’ve seen the economic success story behind renewables up close and personal,” Grassley said as the new project was announced. “There are more than 6,000 good wind jobs in Iowa.”Full article: GOP states benefiting from shift to wind and solar energy U.S. Shift Toward Renewables Is Most Evident in GOP Stateslast_img read more

Brazilian Army Takes Part in Patrol Competition with Partner Nations

first_imgBy Andréa Barretto/Diálogo August 02, 2018 The Chilean Army celebrated the 138th anniversary of the Assault and Capture of Cape Arica June 7th with an international competition. Chilean, Brazilian, and Argentinian service members took part in the International Patrol Competition May 31–June 1, 2018. Chile invited partner nations to take part in the yearly event in the Atacama Desert, the northernmost part of Chile, for the first time. An Argentinian Army team and a Brazilian Army team (EB, in Portuguese), with nine service members each, joined six Chilean teams in the competition. The Chilean Army’s Ground Operations Command organized the event, which was carried out by the First Cuirassiers Armored Brigade, in the Pampa Chaca training field in Arica. The mission: cover 80 kilometers in the desert while completing various tasks within 48 hours—first aid, fire and movement combat target reconnaissance, daytime and nighttime navigation, and more. The competition assessed military skills, leadership, and physical ability of patrols, according to the international military standards of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Each Tests were scored based on teams’ performance and level of success. “Hydration, because there was no water refills on the first day, and patrol orientation, due to lack of reference points, demanded our greatest attention,” said EB Second Lieutenant João Gabriel dos Santos Freitas, attached to the 12th Light Infantry Brigade. For EB Sergeant Geovane Miguel dos Santos, another team member, the sandy terrain and long-distance walk added to the challenge. Service members carried about 8 liters of water each. According to the rules of the competition, the total weight of participants’ backpack, including water, had to be 35 kilograms. The mandatory equipment included a 3-kg assault rifle, as well as communication and navigation tools, such as a compass, binoculars, and radio. The use of GPS was prohibited. Unique experience Chilean, Brazilian, and Argentinian patrols gathered at the First Cuirassiers Armored Brigade’s military camp in Arica for a short training and briefing prior to the competition. When the competition started June 1st, teams proceeded separately. Teams took off at intervals based on a lottery. First, two deployments from Chile and one from Argentina departed. The remaining teams left in a second round. Upon reaching the village of Caleta Vítor, teams were transported via helicopter back to the city of Arica to finish the last phase of the competition: march to the top of the steep hill of Morro de Arica. The competition ended June 3rd, with the Chilean Army’s Sixth Division taking the lead. “The teams scored points in activities throughout the competition. We ended in third place with 60 to 75 points, earning a Participation Medal. None of the teams scored more than 85 points to win the first place medal,” Sgt. Geovane said. Looking back on the feat of the Brazilian patrol, 2nd Lt. Freitas remembered the daily 27-hour walks with 15-minute breaks every 5 km. “I think that our group did really well. With the experience we had in the first year, we will be better prepared for future competitions,” he said. Preparation EB selected candidates for the International Patrol Competition among service members of divisions under the 12th Light Infantry Brigade. Candidates were tested in situations similar to those they would encounter during the Chilean competition. They completed a long-distance march, an obstacle course, as well as marksmanship, navigation, and swimming evaluations. The nine service members selected immediately underwent 12 weeks of training to develop their physical and psychological abilities, based on guidelines from the Chilean Army. “This was a great learning experience because it was a quest for improvement, looking to place the Brazilian Army in a prominent position with partner nations,” said Sgt. Geovane. Based in São Paulo and operating throughout Brazil, the 12th Light Infantry Brigade focuses on combat and reconnaissance patrols.last_img read more