While patently was one of the worst environmentally for Americans what with the BP oil spill, the largest in history, in the Gulf Coast, the year 2011 may go down as one of the worst environmentally across the globe.
Loss of life and overall devastation foremost, ecosystems were also disrupted in many ways as we witnessed record-level floods, tornados, tsunamis, earthquakes, and hurricanes as well as a number of smaller oil spills and the Fukushima nuclear power plant melt down in Japan.
Fortunately, there were a few glimmers of eco-friendliness taking root this year that may make a difference long term, if not immediately:
• Globally: The United Nations Climate Change Conference delivered the breakthrough adoption of a universal legal agreement among delegates from 194 countries to negotiate a treaty on emissions limits as soon as possible, and no later than 2015. An agreement is not yet action, of course. Action awaits.
• In the U.S.: An environmental “Occupy”-type movement of protestors temporarily stopped the Keystone XL Pipeline which would allow export of dirty tar sands oil from Canada to Texas and points in between, although in November Congress reawakened the issue with a 90-day deadline for President Obama to rule it “not in the national interest” to put it to rest. Action awaits.
• The new federal: Light bulb rules went into effect Sunday, Jan. 1, requiring that light bulbs be at least 25 percent more efficient. Although efficiency standards apply immediately to all manufacturing and importing of bulbs, they apply to the sale only of traditional 100-watt incandescents for now (they will apply to the 75-watt bulb in January 2013 and 40- and 60-watt bulbs in January 2014). Action taken, awaiting more.
Since this column centers around this little “patch” of land here on Long Island, let’s consider a few positive “green” activities closer to home:
• In New York State: The Power NY Act of 2011 was enacted reinstating the statewide power plant siting law, known as Article X, an environmentally friendly regulations apply. The law also required that the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) prepare a study analyzing ways to increase the deployment of solar power in New York. Uh….Action awaits.
• In the Town of Hempstead: “Green” initiatives in 2011 included the grant funded installation of Long Island's first hydrogen fuel station to power town vehicles and a wind turbine to power the system that generates the hydrogen for the fuel cells, as well a 60-kilowatt solar field, two solar trackers, a solar-powered carport, and a geothermal energy project. Action taken.
• Across Long Island: Renewable energy increased its carbon foothold as never before with a record total of 4,800 residential and commercial solar electric (PV) installations and hundreds of solar hot water, geothermal and wind energy projects completed to date. Individual actions taken.
• The Long Island: Solar Farm Project was commissioned at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory in Yaphank, the largest photovoltaic array in the eastern U.S., which will provide up to 32 megawatts of energy, enough for 4,500 homes. LIPA will buy power from the solar farm, located near a LIPA substation. The project required removing about 40,000 trees from the undeveloped land at the federal property, but a Memorandum of Understanding urged by the Pine Barrens Society obligates LIPA to in the pine barrens to compensate for the woodlands eliminated. Action... reaction... action taken.
• Also on Long Island: This year, LIPA and the Nassau and Suffolk County Planning Commissions advocated that Long Island’s 13 townships adopt a “” as part of the Long Island Unified Solar Permitting Initiative (LIUSPI) which would streamline permits for solar installations by requiring only minimal application fees and providing permit determinations within 14 days of submittal of a completed application. Still in the works for some towns as of this writing: action awaits.
Your comments and additions to these “green” activities are welcome.
Over and Out, But Back Soon
This column has been discontinued, but a different discussion is about to begin! Please look for my upcoming "Local Voices" blog about energy, a blog I hope will entertain and inform, a blog about energy in general.
If you think about it, everything is energy and energy is everything -- personal energy we expend, choices we make or experiences we may have related to the energy in our lives, homes, maybe even the universe.
Happy green New Year to you and to Planet Earth, and I hope I may count on you to come on back here to see the new blog soon!
Editor’s Note: The author, among other jobs as a freelance writing and promotion consultant, heads up marketing at Built Well Solar Corp., Bellmore’s well known residential and commercial solar energy design and installation company.