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Sleuthing for truth during power outages
February 26, 2021

Sleuthing the truth about renewables and widespread winter power outages

In the wake of massive winter storms that blanketed much of the continental US in snow and ice, some clean energy skeptics were quick to seize upon the image of an ice-coated Texas wind turbine as supposed evidence that the rise of renewables were to blame for widespread power outages. However, statements from utilities and independent research have thoroughly refuted that assertion, instead pointing to a huge demand spike due to the low temperatures, overdependence on fossil gas for power generation, and insufficient winter weather planning by power companies and fossil gas utilities. 

More climate champions join the Biden-Harris administration

The Biden-Harris administration’s appointees for cabinet-level positions vital to addressing the climate crisis are on track to receive Senate confirmation. Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm received Senate confirmation this week for her appointed role as Secretary of Energy. Meanwhile, US Representative Deb Haaland (NM) appears to be on-track for confirmation as the first-ever Native American Secretary of the Interior. 

Growing evidence that a clean power grid is mandatory to achieve net-zero carbon emissions

Deep decarbonization studies investigate the technical details of how states and other jurisdictions can achieve 100% clean and carbon-free status, a critical step toward addressing the climate crisis. A recently-released deep decarbonization report adds to this growing body of research, asserting that an electrical grid powered by 100% clean energy sources is the ‘linchpin’ for meeting our national climate goals. 

That’s particularly good news for states and jurisdictions already committed to 100% clean energy. The state of Hawai’i recently announced that they’re actually ahead of schedule in its plan for achieving its 100% clean energy goals.

“Natural” gas fights to remain relevant as renewables rise

While the meteoric rise in renewable energy projects has been blunted by the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, market growth predictions in the clean energy sector remain solid. Across the US, the fossil fuel industry—particularly gas utilities—are going on the offensive, launching anti-climate front groups, lobbying state legislatures to pass laws blocking cities and local jurisdictions from enacting 100% clean energy policies, and even falsely asserting that “natural” gas has a role in addressing the climate crisis, in a last-ditch effort to salvage their fortunes and maintaining our dependence on their products.

Climate advocates from across the country are contending with the fossil fuel industry’s lobbying and PR blitz, including right here in the Northwest. The city council of Eugene, Oregon recently voted against renewing its contract with NW Natural, a move staunchly opposed by gas utility NW Natural and the “Partnership for Energy Progress,” an anti-climate front group funded by the fossil fuel industry. 

More reading:

Honor Black History Month: Our friends over at Stand.earth have compiled an excellent list of things you can do from home to recognize Black History Month

Learn about Black environmentalists: The San Francisco Department of the Environment has compiled a list of prominent Black environmentalists past and present. Due to the ongoing effects of systemic racism, many of their accomplishments receive less attention than those of their white peers, but we and our work today still stand on their shoulders

One thing you can do

Donate to support your local Black Lives Matter organization.

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Author Bio

Jonathan Lee (formerly Gates; pronouns: he/him) has over seven years of experience in nonprofit communications strategy, print and web content creation, public policy advocacy, and promoting equity, diversity and social justice. He believes in making positive change by asking sincere questions, building meaningful relationships, and collaborating equitably toward shared goals.

Jonathan has a Bachelor's degree in Sociology and American Ethnic Studies from Willamette University. He spends his free time reading, volunteering, hiking, and listening to jazz music, often with his partner Rachel and their three dogs.