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Fairfield County Edition

involved throughout the process, including the California Energy Commission and the Sierra Club. “We really tried to bring together an entire spectrum of people and groups with different perspectives and expertise to build a consensus,” says David Walls, executive director of the California Building Standards Commission. “If we were going to put something in the code, we wanted to make sure it was right.” (See Tinyurl.com/ CALGreen-Home.) Renewable Portfolio Standard: Texas leads the country in electricity generated from wind power. One complex, in Roscoe, features 627 turbines on 100,000 acres that cost $1 billion to build. Much of the rapid growth of the state’s wind industry can be credited to Texas’ Renewable Portfolio Standard, legislation passed in 1999 that mandated construction of renewable energy, including solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, biomass and landfill gas, in addition to wind. It further mandated that utilities generate 2,000 megawatts of additional renewable energy by 2009, then 5,880 MW by 2015 and 10,000 MW by 2025. The 10-year goal was met in six years, and Texas has added many green jobs, increased tax revenues and provided security against blackouts, which is critical in the event of extreme heat or drought (see Tinyurl. com/TexasStandard). Edison Innovation Green Growth Fund: Clean technology is booming despite the economic recession and attracting serious investment funds. According to a report by Clean Edge, Inc., venture capital investments in clean technologies increased 30 percent between 2010 and 2011, from $5.1 billion to $6.6 billion. New Jersey entrepreneurs are upping their state’s potential in this arena with the Edison Innovation Green Growth Fund. The program proffers loans of up to $2 million for companies, research facilities and nonprofits engaged in producing clean energy technologies, ranging from energy efficiency products such as LED lighting to

natural awakenings

solar, wind, tidal, biomass and methane capture. A condition of the loan is that a project must employ 75 percent of its workforce from New Jersey, or commit to growing 10 high-paying jobs (minimum $75,000 annually) over two years (see Tinyurl.com/NewJersey-EDA).

Grassroots Leadership

Elinor Ostrom, the political economist who won a Nobel Prize in economics but passed on just before the start of the Rio conference, dedicated her last blog post to considering the event’s impact. Titled “Green from the Grassroots,” the post stressed the priority of a multifaceted approach to curbing emissions. “Decades of research demonstrate that a variety of overlapping policies at city, subnational, national and international levels is more likely to succeed than single, overarching, binding agreements,” Ostrom remarked. “Such an evolutionary approach to policy provides essential safety nets should one or more policies fail. The good news is that evolutionary policymaking is already happening organically. In the absence of effective national and international legislation to curb greenhouse gases, a growing number of city leaders are acting to protect their citizens and economies.” She reported that even in the absence of federally mandated emissions targets, 30 U.S. states have passed their own climate plans and more than 900 mayors signed a climate protection agreement essentially agreeing to reach the Kyoto Protocol goals the federal government refused to sanction. Rio+20 built upon such bottom-up commitments and pushed states and businesses to go further than they’d ever imagined. “There was an incredible amount of energized activity,” concludes Scherr. “Many people came away feeling empowered and encouraged, because they saw that the sustainability movement is truly worldwide. That’s going to be the legacy of Rio.” Brita Belli, the editor of E-The Environmental Magazine, reports for Natural Awakenings.

Natural Awakenings Fairfield County October 2012  
Natural Awakenings Fairfield County October 2012