A Green and Dirty Gift

(Image: Engineering for Change / Flickr)

(Image: Engineering for Change / Flickr)

As lawmakers scurried to keep the government open and head home for the holidays, they wrapped spending and tax deals into a costly measure that highlighted our nation’s mismatched energy policies.

Specifically, this monster bill extended and restored tax incentives for wind and solar power while lifting a ban on crude oil exports that began during Jimmy Carter’s presidency.

On the one hand, the private sector can keep generating a growing share of the nation’s electricity from renewable, free, and non-polluting resources. On the other hand, some oil that might have stayed in the ground just became more likely to be extracted and burned.

But the deal’s contradictory compromises won’t cancel each other out. Ultimately, the Republican-led Congress — which largely pledges its allegiance to Big Oil — wasted no time in helping the United States adhere to its commitments under the global accord sealed in Paris.

As more homeowners, drivers, industries, and utilities draw their power from the sun and the wind, catastrophic climate change will become less likely. And the long-term climate benefits of boosting wind and solar power for five more years will outweigh the potential climate pollution from allowing crude exports, Council on Foreign Relations energy expertMichael Levi predicts.

Currently, oil prices are so depressed due to a global glut that there’s little demand elsewhere for U.S. crude. If oil markets bounce back, the long-term climate consequences of this largely symbolic victory for Big Oil will probably be small.

Stretching renewable-energy credits out for another five years, however, will deliver major relief to the wind industry. The Production Tax Credit, its primary source of federal support, had been in limbo for most of the past two years.

Then there’s the solar energy Investment Tax Credit. Without the new tax deal, it would have expired at the end of 2016. Now it’s assured through 2022.

Wait. Many Republican lawmakers scoff at the notion of climate action and are trying to sabotage President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan. Why would they buttress renewable energy right after the Paris deal?

There are plenty of reasons.

Take job creation. The solar industry alone already employs 200,000 workers and anticipates bringing another 140,000 on board because of the tax credit’s extension. It also goes out of its way to hire veterans and plans on hiring 50,000 of them by 2020.

“These jobs are stable, well-paying, and cannot be exported overseas,” observed Solar Energy Industries Association CEO and President Rhone Resch.

There’s also the shockingly good results of government support for these industries through the tax code, which in recent years has coincided with technological breakthroughs that are now slashing costs for turbines and solar panels.

Over the first three quarters of 2015, wind and solar energy constituted more than 60 percent of the nation’s new energy capacity. The United States is undergoing a renewable energy boom that’s leaving coal and nuclear power in the dust and overshadowing what until recently appeared to be unstoppable growth for natural gas-fired power stations.

Then, there’s vigorous public support for wind and solar energy, which is nearly as strong among Republicans as Democrats.

While letting solar tax credits lapse wouldn’t have short-circuited that part of the renewable boom outright, Rhone’s solar trade group predicted that it would have slowed things down, including the pace of job and investment growth.

Likewise, the wind industry — despite boasting about $ 20 billion worth of wind farms now under construction — feared falling off an “economic cliff” had Congress failed to restore the Production Tax Credit for multiple years.

Now the forecast for renewable energy looks sunny and bright, thanks to this green and dirty gift from Congress.

The post A Green and Dirty Gift appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Emily Schwartz Greco is the managing editor of OtherWords, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies.

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Reagan’s Lasting Gift to Immigrant Families

mother contemplative with child in hammock

(Image: Flickr / Kazyel)

This Mother’s Day, I can hug my mother tightly and celebrate with her. I’d like to thank our 40th president for that.

Seriously: As a progressive young Latina from a working-class background, whose parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico without papers, I’m actually thankful for something Ronald Reagan did.

He signed into law legislation that’s allowed me to share this special day with my mom every year without the worry of it being our last one together.

My parents legalized their status after Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986. They had green cards by the time I was born four years later and became citizens before I started kindergarten.

That landmark law granted them the right to get driver’s licenses, become homeowners, and vote in elections. This, in turn, empowered them to establish their own businesses, make investments, and afford out-of-pocket payments for health insurance.

These changes opened a new world of opportunity not just for them, but also for me and my brother. It gave us a worry-free and “normal” childhood that my friends with undocumented parents who arrived a few years later didn’t get.

Unlike those friends and classmates, I never had nightmares about my mom being taken away from me — or of coming home to find her already gone. For people I knew growing up, that wasn’t just a nightmare. It was reality.

My worries were of the more stereotypical teen variety: what to wear, how to do my makeup, and whether to swap my latest celebrity crush for another one.

My mom always drove me and my friends to the movies, to the mall, or anywhere we needed to go, no matter the distance. She reliably carpooled for years of softball and basketball games and supplied the team’s snacks.

When I got my license at 17, I didn’t need to drive my parents to their jobs, doctors’ appointments, and my own school events to reduce their risk of deportation. I would have gladly done it, but unlike my friends whose parents lack papers after living here for years, I didn’t need to.

In short, I’m lucky that my parents were present throughout my childhood and adolescence. And I never had to worry that they wouldn’t be.

This isn’t the case for 4.5 million children and young adults who live in fear of seeing their parents deported.

President Barack Obama has tried to provide some relief to these undocumented parents and their citizen or permanent resident children.

His program, known as DAPA, wouldn’t go as far as Reagan’s immigration reform. But by granting applicants a two-year renewable work permit and reprieve from deportation, it would provide them the ability to obtain driver’s licenses, credit cards, better paying jobs, and a shot at a more stable life.

My friends whose parents qualify would no longer have to stay up late to make sure their parents got home safely. They wouldn’t have to worry that an unexpected police encounter or parking ticket could lead to the separation of their families. They could say goodbye to their parents before going to school knowing that they’ll be there when they get home.

Over 60 percent of Americans support Obama’s effort to bring immigrants out of the shadows and give them a chance to fully contribute to this country. But anti-immigrant forces have filed lawsuits to block it, leaving many hardworking American immigrants and their families in limbo.

The courts have the power to break this impasse. This Mother’s Day, that would mean giving millions of immigrant moms — and their children — plenty to celebrate.

The post Reagan’s Lasting Gift to Immigrant Families appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Cecilia Velasco is the New Mexico Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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For buy-local fans, area shops are a gift – Boston Globe


Boston Globe
For buy-local fans, area shops are a gift
Boston Globe
They also get “a connection to how things are made, the spirit of the art,” Bergman said, rather than a corporate product made in some distant location and possibly under sweatshop conditions. The profusion of craft brewers in Massachusetts suggests

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Gift sale connects holiday spending and social justice – Your Niskayuna (blog)


Your Niskayuna (blog)
Gift sale connects holiday spending and social justice
Your Niskayuna (blog)
Many mass-produced items like clothing and toys, for example, are created in factories where working conditions are dangerous and child labor is not regulated. “This is going on all over the world,” she said. “Producers are being exploited.” Members of

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Gift sale connects holiday spending and social justice – Your Niskayuna (blog)


Your Niskayuna (blog)
Gift sale connects holiday spending and social justice
Your Niskayuna (blog)
Many mass-produced items like clothing and toys, for example, are created in factories where working conditions are dangerous and child labor is not regulated. “This is going on all over the world,” she said. “Producers are being exploited.” Members of

|||||||http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&ct2=us&usg=AFQjCNFIogeitKDuCa-FmEWAIYy32lraaQ&clid=c3a7d30bb8a4878e06b80cf16b898331&ei=Y0RoVLj8CKiHwQH0n4H4Ag&url=http://yourniskayuna.com/blog/2014/11/05/gift-sale-holiday-spending-social-justice/

Special Gift for Left-Behind Children in Henan – Women of China


Women of China
Special Gift for Left-Behind Children in Henan
Women of China
Tongxu County is a typical labor-exporting county, a huge number of children are left-behind children, meaning that their parents have travelled to far off locations in search for work, they are a group that cannot be ignored. In order to allow

and more »

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Online recycling the gift that keeps on giving – Daily Life


Daily Life
Online recycling the gift that keeps on giving
Daily Life
One of the big ideas is so-called ''collaborative consumption'' – the notion that we can share resources, rather than having to own them individually. And this is where Freecycle comes in. Freecycle is an international network of online hyper-local

and more »

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A clever gift idea for cooks – KPLU News for Seattle and the Northwest

A clever gift idea for cooks
KPLU News for Seattle and the Northwest
Saffron is very labor-intensive to harvest. Saffron is made from the stigmas of the crocus sativus. With just three of those little threads per flower it takes between 50 and 75 thousand of them to make just one pound of saffron. And each one of those

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Your Christmas all Wrapped-up: Ivo’s Ethical Gift Guide (part one) – ivo.org (blog)


ivo.org (blog)
Your Christmas all Wrapped-up: Ivo's Ethical Gift Guide (part one)
ivo.org (blog)
Children are unusual in that they often know exactly what they want for Christmas– unlike those of us who simply know what we definitely don't want. But don't despair; there are a number of ethical yet extremely fun alternatives to the plastic

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