Solar power is clean, affordable and popular with the American people. Since 2010, Ameri- ca’s solar energy capacity has grown more than four-fold, generating increasing amounts of clean energy at increasingly affordable prices.
America’s solar progress is largely the result of bold, forward-thinking public policies that have created a strong solar industry while putting solar energy within the financial reach of millions more Americans.
Behind the scenes, however, electric utilities, fossil fuel interests and powerful industry front groups have begun chipping away at the key poli- cies that have put solar energy on the map in the United States – often in the face of strong objec- tions from a supportive public.
This report documents 12 fossil fuel backed groups and electric utilities that are running some of the most aggressive campaigns to slow the growth of solar energy in the United States. Citizens and policy- makers must be aware of the tools self-interested parties are using to undermine solar energy across America – and redouble their commitment to strong policies that move the nation toward a clean energy future.
Clean water is at the heart of summertime fun for many New Yorkers. We swim at a favorite creek, fish in a nearby river, sail or kayak on the lake, or simply hike along a beautiful stream. As the summer draws to a close, Environment New York Research & Policy Center’s second annual Summer Fun Index provides a numerical snapshot of people engaging in water activities.
Solar energy is on the rise in the United States. At the end of the first quarter of 2015, more than 21,300 megawatts of cumulative solar electric capacity had been installed around the country, enough to power more than 4.3 million homes. The rapid growth of solar energy in the United States is the result of forward-looking policies that are helping the nation reduce its contribution to global warming and expand its use of local renewable energy sources.
One policy in particular, net energy metering, has been instrumental in the growth of solar energy, particularly on homes and businesses. Net energy metering enables solar panel owners to earn fair compensation for benefits they provide to other users of the electricity grid, and makes “going solar” an affordable option for more people. Net energy metering works by providing customers a credit on their electric bill that offsets charges for energy consumption. As solar energy has taken off in recent years, however, utilities and other special interests have increasingly attacked net metering as an unjustified “subsidy” to solar users.
In the summer of 1993, residents of the American Midwest experienced the most costly flood in the history of the United States. By the end of that summer, the Mississippi River in St. Louis was 20 feet above flood stage, and levee breaks in Illinois led to the inundation of thousands of acres of land. The flood claimed 48 lives and caused nearly $20 billion in damage.
In the aftermath of the flood, numerous studies were conducted to examine what had gone wrong and what could be done to prevent another flood of this scale. The conclusion: the decades spent building levees and dams to control Mississippi river flooding had actually debilitated our first line of defense against flooding – wetlands.
Scientists now know that wetlands are critical to the global water cycle. They are the kidneys of our national water system, cleaning out sediment and water pollution. They are home to numerous plant and animal species, supporting our nation’s biodiversity. They are also able to store vast amounts of water and are thus an important tool to protect America’s cities and towns from flooding.
Environment New York Research and Policy Center is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.