Efficiency Vermont was named the 2011 Energy Star Partner of the Year award winner in the ‘Energy Efficiency Program Delivery for New Homes’ category.Sponsored annually by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the nationalawards recognize organizations, manufacturers and retailers that successfully promote and deliver Energy Star qualified products and services, saving consumers money and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Award winners were selected from more than 9,000 organizations that participate in the Energy Star program.‘Efficiency Vermont is a leader in showing its customers how they can help protect our environment while saving energy and money,’ said Elizabeth Craig, acting director of the EPA’s Office of Atmospheric Programs. ‘Efficiency Vermont’s creative solutions are a model for fighting climate change through greater energy efficiency. We look to these winners to provide us energy efficiency leadership now and in the years to come.’Efficiency Vermont representatives attended the EPA awards recognition ceremony in Washington, D.C., on April 12.‘This award recognizes not only Efficiency Vermont and the Vermont Energy Star Homes (VESH) program, but the entire building community in Vermont,’ said Chris Gordon, residential new construction manager from Efficiency Vermont. ‘Our program co-sponsors, including, Vermont Gas Systems and Washington Electric Cooperative, as well as our partners, the individual builders around the state, are always striving to achieve greater energy efficiency.’In 2010, the average Energy Star home built in Vermont was 40 percent more energy efficient than a home built to the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code.Efficiency Vermont was created by the Vermont Legislature and the Vermont Public Service Board to help all Vermonters reduce energy costs, strengthen the economy, and protect Vermont’s environment. Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC) operates Efficiency Vermont under an appointment by the Vermont Public Service Board. VEIC is a Vermont-based nonprofit organization founded in 1986. Source: Efficiency Vermont.
• Clean energy companies spoke out against racism after the police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd: Now, to turn words into action, they have to figure out how to actually combat racism inside and outside company ranks. Emma Foehringer Merchant at Green Tech Media writes:So far, the clean energy industry has largely embraced a “rising tide lifts all boats” approach: If renewables companies help clean up the grid, that will naturally reduce pollution for the communities of color who experience it most acutely. But data on the industry — such as the number of opportunities for Black employees in the industry and the availability of rooftop solar to majority-nonwhite neighborhoods — shows that that approach has fallen flat in challenging the legacy of systemic racism within clean energy.“At its core, the idea of moving forward clean energy, whether it’s solar or wind, has been good,” said Jacqui Patterson, director of the NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice Program. But overall, Patterson said, the industry’s approach to anti-racism efforts has been lackluster, even after she’s advised companies on best practices.• Six House Democrats oppose Forest Service plan to relax oil and gas drilling regulations in national forests: Democratic Rep. Mike Levin of California and five other House Democrats sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen Monday objecting to a proposed Forest Service rule, according to E&E News. The deadline for public comment on the proposal passed Monday.”If this proposal is adopted, oil and gas developers would be gifted lax rules in our National Forests while transparency and critical environmental reviews would be curtailed,” the lawmakers wrote. If approved, the proposed rule would allow the Forest Service to rubber-stamp surface-use plans for oil and gas drilling without public notice or environmental review. This is part of the Trump regime’s effort to boost resource extraction from public lands by streamlining rule changes. The Environmental Protection Network blasted streamlining and made recommendations about it this summer. Wolf tracks in northwestern Colorado.By an extremely narrow margin, voters approved Colorado Proposition 114 that mandates Colorado Parks and Wildlife to come up with a plan to reintroduce gray wolves onto public lands. Backed by the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund, the reintroduction, advocates say, is needed to rebalance ecosystems harmed by the eradication of wolves in the 1920s and ‘30s when government bounties were paid for their pelts. Federal reintroduction of gray wolves in next-door Yellowstone National Park and Idaho 25 years ago encountered vigorous organized opposition, and that was reflected in the closeness of the Colorado vote. Foes of the proposition included ranchers, farmers, sportsmen, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Farm Bureau, and Coloradans Protecting Wildlife, as well as some counties. Some critics say the law is unnecessary because wolves have already returned to Colorado. But wildlife experts say the animals are unlikely to sustain a permanent presence without more wolves being reintroduced into the state. The last wolves in Colorado were killed in the 1940s. On Oct. 29, the Department of Interior removed the gray wolf from the roster of endangered species it had been added to in 1975. There are today perhaps 11,000 gray wolves in Alaska, the only state where they were not extirpated. An estimated 6,000 now live in the lower 48 states. • Across the nation, voters approved $3.7 billion in new funding for parks, public lands, and climate resilience: In its survey of voting results, the Trust for Public Land found that there were 49 conservation-oriented ballot measures in 19 states. The trust had endorsed 26 of these in 11 states, all of which gained majority voter approval. Some examples of what passed: Oakland, California: a $735 million school bond that will, among other things, fund green or “living” schoolyards throughout the school district.Portland, Oregon: A five-year property tax levy authorities hope will bring in $293 million in investments in parks to “increase access in recreation opportunities for communities of color, refugees and immigrants, and families experiencing poverty.”Denver: A quarter-cent “climate sales tax” to generate $800 million over the next 20 years for climate-related programs, with a mandate that “funding should maximize investments in communities of color, under resourced communities, and communities most vulnerable to climate change.”Michigan: Constitutional amendment lifts the cap on how much revenue the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund can take in to allow for an increase in oil, gas, and mining industry royalties used to create and protect state parks.Montana: Two measures legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana are anticipated to generate $360 million for land conservation over the next 20 years. – Advertisement – • Denmark will kill all 17 million of its farmed mink because of coronavirus mutation: The mutated virus has spread from five minks to 12 humans, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced Wednesday. Authorities found new strains were less susceptible to antibodies, causing worries the new mutation could make any future vaccine less effective. Denmark is the world’s number one supplier of farmed mink. The Netherlands, Spain, and Utah have all culled thousands of their own mink because the virus had spread to farmed populations. But these were not mutated versions. Dr. Joanna Swabe, the Humane Society International/Europe’s senior director of public affairs, praised Denmark’s decision. “Denmark is one of the largest fur producers on the planet, so a total shutdown of all Danish mink fur farms amid spiraling COVID-19 infections is a significant development,” Swabe told The Guardian. “Although not a ban on fur farming, this move signals the end of suffering for millions of animals confined to small wire cages on Danish fur farms solely for the purposes of a trivial fur fashion that no one needs.”• Biden will, if elected, move to rejoin the Paris climate agreement early on in his administration: But fulfilling any pledge to cut emissions likely will encounter trouble at home. Biden has vowed that he would move immediately to rejoin the Paris Agreement officially abandoned with a sneer by the Trump regime Wednesday. Biden said he will “use every tool of American foreign policy to push the rest of the world to raise their ambitions alongside with the United States.” “Being out formally obviously hurts the U.S. reputation,” former Obama administration climate official Andrew Light told BBC News. “This will be the second time that the United States has been the primary force behind negotiating a new climate deal—with the Kyoto Protocol we never ratified it, in the case of the Paris Agreement, we left it. So, I think it’s obviously a problem.” To rejoin, the United States must come up with a credible pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in what are called nationally determined contributions. Expectations of other world leaders as well as climate hawks at home are that the U.S. must make an ambitious NDC pledge. But while Biden can make such a pledge, obstacles to making it happen are rife. Among them, of course, is Congress, where the Democratic House majority will be smaller in 2021 and Republicans may still dominate the Senate. Even if Democrats manage to win the Senate majority, the Supreme Court, with three Donald Trump-appointed justices since Biden was vice president, will undoubtedly be less friendly to climate-related regulations. “I think that the Supreme Court, even with [Justice Ruth Bader] Ginsburg was going to be a pretty tough place for EPA,” Jeffrey Holmstead, a partner at Bracewell LLP, told Jean Chemnick at E&E News. “But I think that’s even more clear now.” Not everyone is pessmistic. Said Light, “I think that [Biden] will dig in deep, learn the lessons of what the Obama crew learned from trying to get these existing authority measures through and the legal hurdles they encountered, and he goes full bore.” • Variability of renewable energy sources means managing them on the electric grid, and because that’s challenging, there are costs to that: But how much? Philip Heptonstall and Robert Gross of Imperial College London decided to find the answer. They dug into hundreds of studies. Their key conclusion: even at the high end of the estimates, the added costs of renewables still leave them competitive with carbon-emitting sources. Those extra costs vary tremendously depending on location and other factors.- Advertisement – – Advertisement –
Jun 30, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – The First International Conference on Avian Influenza in Humans held in Paris this week brought reports on a possible new treatment for avian flu symptoms, the potential global economic impact of a pandemic, and plans for a task force to coordinate Europe’s response to the disease.Experts at the 2-day meeting at the Pasteur Institute said the world is doing a better job of preparing for the threat of a flu pandemic stemming from avian flu than it has done in the face of previous health threats, according to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report yesterday.But the experts said there are too many gaps in science’s understanding of how wild birds spread the virus and how it might become contagious among humans, among other questions, AFP reported. The conference began yesterday and ended today.Could statins reduce avian flu deaths?David Fedson, MD, an internationally known vaccine expert, said cholesterol-lowering statin drugs may have the potential to mitigate symptoms of avian influenza. He called for research on the drugs’ effects on people and animals infected flu.Fedson’s hypothesis, which he shared at the conference yesterday, was reported in a Bloomberg news article today. Based in France, Fedson is a former professor of medicine at the University of Virginia and former director of European medical affairs for Sanofi-Aventis.The anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects of statin drugs could decrease respiratory distress and the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients who have avian flu, Fedson told the audience. He said observational studies suggest that statin drugs may reduce death rates in patients who have sepsis or pneumonia. Fedson also published his hypothesis in the July issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases.Given the wide distribution of statin drugs, the treatment may offer hope for patients in countries with scant supplies of antiviral medications or vaccines, wrote Fedson in CID. “If epidemiological, laboratory, and clinical studies confirm the benefits of statins for treatment of influenza, physicians everywhere will have something to offer their patients for the pandemic,” he wrote.Treatment with statin drugs would also offer a cost advantage over antiviral agents, Fedson noted. A 5-day course of the antiviral drug oseltamivir costs about $60 to $90, while a 5-day course of generic simvastatin costs as little as $1.75, he said.”The scientific rationale for considering statins for treatment and prophylaxis of pandemic influenza is persuasive, but the public health rationale is overwhelmingly compelling,” Fedson wrote.World Bank weighs in on economic impactMilan Brahmbhatt, lead economist for the World Bank’s East Asia sector, addressing the conference yesterday, outlined the projected economic impact of an avian flu pandemic. World Bank modeling suggests that a severe pandemic—with a 1% mortality rate, or about 70 million deaths—would shrink the world’s gross domestic product by about 3.1%, or about $1.25 to $2 trillion, he said.Economic losses in developing countries would be double those in developed countries, because of higher mortality rates, Brahmbhatt said. The text of his speech was posted on the World Bank’s Web site.So far, the economic impact of avian flu has been limited because poultry production is a relatively small portion of the world’s economy, he said. However, the impact on the poultry industry in outbreak areas has been severe.Brahmbhatt said the strong recovery of Thailand’s poultry industry underscores the benefits of good policy responses. The country experienced a 40% drop in poultry exports because of foreign import restrictions on uncooked poultry products in response to avian flu. “Together with Vietnam, strong control measures have resulted in no new outbreaks of the virus for the past 6 months,” he said. Producers quickly switched to cooked export products, which didn’t face trade restrictions, and exports rebounded, along with domestic consumer confidence.The funding component of policy actions to combat avian influenza is producing results, Brahmbhatt said. Of $1.9 billion pledged at last January’s International Pledging Conference in Beijing, $1.15 billion has been committed and $331 million has been disbursed.Task force to guide European responseEurope is setting up a task force to coordinate the continent’s efforts against avian flu, a European virologist reported at the conference. According to an AFP report, Albert Osterhaus, a professor at the National Influenza Centre and Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, said the task force will be established in September or October and will likely include scientists, doctors, and animal health experts who would monitor the latest information and advise governments.He said the task force would be located at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in Stockholm.Osterhaus called for setting up a global equivalent of the task force, saying the world’s response has featured much talk, little action, and a disturbing lack of coordination among scientists, governments, and international agencies, according to AFP.”There’s not a pandemic of flu, there’s a pandemic of flu meetings,” he was quoted as saying.See also:Fedson DS. Pandemic influenza: a potential role for statins in treatment and prophylaxis. Clin Infect Dis 2006 Jul 15;43(2):199-205 [Full text]Brahmbhatt speech: “Economic Impacts of Avian Influenza Propagation”