In the early 1970s, many American rivers and streams were environmental basket cases – lined with industrial facilities dumping toxic pollution virtually unchecked, choked with untreated sewage and trash, and, in many cases, devoid of aquatic life.
In 2014, 42 years after the passage of the Clean Water Act, many of these formerly degraded waterways are returning to health. From Puget Sound to Boston Harbor and from Monterey Bay to the Chattahoochee River, the Clean Water Act has played an essential role in restoring America’s rivers, lakes and coastal waters as sources of recreation, engines of economic development, and critical habitat for wildlife.
As solar power installers, manufacturers, designers, aggregators, product suppliers, and consultants, we welcome the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s unveiling of the Clean Power Plan, the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants. Power plants account for 40 percent of America’s carbon pollution. The solar industry offers a wide range of technologies to generate energy pollution-free from the sun and reduce the need for polluting sources of energy. This plan is a critical step toward transforming our energy system to one that protects our health and environment, and that of our children.
As international leaders prepare for the United Nations Climate Summit next week in New York, a new study shows America’s power plants dump as much carbon pollution into the air any other country’s entire economy except China. Environment North Carolina Research & Policy Center pointed to the report as evidence for why the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal for the nation’s first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants is a critical step in the international fight against global warming.
Solar energy is on the rise. Over the course of the last decade, the amount of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in the United States has increased more than 120-fold, from 97 megawatts in 2003 to more than 12,000 megawatts at the end of 2013. In the first quarter of 2014, solar energy accounted for 74 percent of all the new electric generation capacity installed in the United States. The cost of solar energy is declining, and each year tens of thousands more Americans begin to reap the benefits of clean energy from the sun, including energy generated right on the rooftops of their homes or places of business.
America’s solar energy revolution has been led by 10 states that have the greatest amount of solar energy capacity installed per capita. These 10 states have opened the door for solar energy and are reaping the rewards as a result.
The Atlantic coastline is at the epicenter of America’s energy and environmental challenges, with state leaders currently facing critical decisions to meet the region’s growing energy demands and protect our communities and wildlife from the impacts of climate change. The cities, metropolitan areas, and sprawling suburbs that stretch along the East Coast have a massive, pollution-free energy source ready to meet these challenges –– offshore wind.
Environment North Carolina 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.