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TC Energy Cancels Keystone XL Pipeline

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More than a decade ago, TC Energy, which at the time was called TransCanada, began planning for the Keystone XL pipeline to bring oil from the Alberta tar sands to Steele City, Nebraska where it would be trans-shipped to various US refineries, many of them along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. If built, the pipeline would have carried more than 35 million gallons a day of the foulest, dirtiest oil to be found anywhere in the galaxy.

On his first day in office, President Joe Biden did two things — he rejoined the Paris climate treaty and cancelled the permit that allowed the Keystone XL pipeline to cross the US border, saying if allowed to proceed , the pipeline “would not be consistent with my administration’s economic and climate imperatives.” Canadian government protested long and loudly but to no avail. The project that was supposed to cost under $5 billion had ballooned to nearly double that amount, thanks to determined opposition from environmental groups and Indigenous communities.

The reaction from politicians was predictable. Senator John Barasso of Wyoming huffed,  “President Biden killed the Keystone XL Pipeline and with it, thousands of good-paying American jobs,” reports the Associated Press. “It’s unfortunate that political obstructionism led to the termination of the Keystone XL Pipeline,” Robin Rorick, vice president of midstream and industry operations at the American Petroleum Institute, told CNN. “This is a blow to U.S. energy security and a blow to the thousands of good paying union jobs this project would have supported.”

The attorneys general of 21 Republican controlled states sued the administration for cancelling the cross-border permit. Now that suit has been rendered moot as TC Energy has thrown in the towel.

Profits, Jobs, And The Environment

The Keystone XL pipeline illustrates the tension between business and environment. The political leaders of Alberta have staked that province’s economic future on developing its tar sands, the dirtiest oil on Earth. “We remain disappointed and frustrated with the circumstances surrounding the Keystone XL project, including the cancellation of the presidential permit for the pipeline’s border crossing,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said in a statement.

Nobody wants to see people lose their jobs but do corporations have the right to pollute the environment and make hundreds of thousands of people sick in pursuit of profits? Surely the people who build pipelines can build other things, like wind turbines and solar farms, no?

A second TC Energy pipeline network, known simply as Keystone, has been delivering crude from Canada’s oil sands since 2010. The company says on its website that pipeline has moved more than 3 billion barrels of crude from Alberta to an oil distribution site in Cushing, Oklahoma.

The Earth Breathes A Sigh Of Relief

“The cancellation of Keystone XL is a reminder that this project was never needed and never in the public interest, and that it is time for the fossil fuel era to rapidly come to a close,” David Turnbull, strategic communications director with Oil Change International, said in a statement.

There could be knock on effects from the collapse of the Keystone XL pipeline. “The termination of this zombie pipeline sets precedent for President Biden and polluters to stop Line 3, Dakota Access, and all fossil fuel projects,” Kendall Mackey, campaign manager of 350.org’s Keep It in the Ground campaign, said in a statement.

The demise of Keystone XL coupled with the drubbing taken by Big Oil in court and in investment circles recently all suggest that fossil fuels are on the down slope worldwide … and not a moment too soon.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/06/09/tc-energy-cancels-keystone-xl-pipeline/

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The True War On Christmas

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A new front has opened in the War On Christmas: extreme heat and drought fueled by climate change. The record-shattering heatwave that baked the Pacific Northwest last month took a potentially devastating toll on Christmas tree farms in the region. “The second day of the heat, it was 116. I came in the driveway that night and seen the trees were basically cooking. Burnt down to nothing,” Jacob Hemphill, a tree farmer in Oregon City told Reuters. He estimates he lost over $100,000 worth of trees. The heat, combined with the brutal drought, has caused unprecedented damage to myriad crops in the region.

Sources: ReutersVice News; Climate Signals background: June 2021 PNW heatwaveDrought

This is a quick news brief from Nexus Media.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/24/the-true-war-on-christmas/

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Sandy Munro Experiences Tesla’s FSD Beta V9 — “I’m pretty happy with what I see in the way of progress here.”

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YouTuber DirtyTesla, aka Chris, recently picked up Sandy Munro and took him for a ride to show Munro Tesla FSD version 9, which was released earlier this month. To start, though, the video below is a behind-the-scenes look at Sandy Munro Live — Chris got to have a tour of Sandy’s work and the recording area where Sandy recently compared a teardown of a Tesla Model Y with a Ford Mustang Mach-E. Sandy Munro’s take on Tesla FSD version 9 is further down.

Behind The Scenes

Sandy quickly gave him a tour of the studio and showed him the second Model 3 he tore down. Sandy noted that compared to it, the Model Y was definitely an improvement. On a table was a side-by-side comparison of Tesla’s Hardware 3 and Hardware 2.5 chips for the Model 3 and the Model Y. Sandy explained that the Model Y has the new Tesla chips (HW3) on them while the Model 3 has Nvidia chips on them (HW2.5). The Model Y has two chips while the Model 3 has 3.

Sandy thinks the chip in the Plaid Model S will be different again. “I think the one that’s going to be in the Plaid is going to look different than that. I have a suspicion, anyway.”

He moved over to the Model Y frame and pointed out that this was made from a giant chunk where before Tesla would use two pieces. He explained that this vehicle would give the owner a ride that was more stable and didn’t have noise, vibration, or harshness.

Sandy Munro’s Thoughts On FSD Beta V9

Dirty Tesla didn’t show the drive itself and instead asked Sandy what he thought afterward. (Sandy’s video of the drive is further down.)

“This is my second time in a beta vehicle, but this is really, really nice. I was really impressed. It did everything that the beta 7 did. We never tried, like, 160-degree turns in the beta 7 unit that I was in before. This one handled beautifully.

“No issues, no complaints, no nothing. So I’m pretty happy with what I see in the way of progress here. I’ve been a big advocate of self-driving because, quite frankly, I think this is going to save more lives than seatbelts. I really do. This is the right way to go. If the car can take over in a bad situation most people aren’t really prepared for, how can we possibly go wrong? So I’m very excited about it.”

Recap Of The Drive

Dirty Tesla shared a super quick recap of the drive with Munro and noted that it was a lot of fun. “We did a pretty simple drive. We basically went into a neighborhood and came back.”

He noted that Sandy will have his experience on his channel. “The drive was pretty much flawless. Zero disengagements. I had to intervene, I think, one time. I just hit the accelerator because it wasn’t moving through a blinking yellow, but it did very well. We had some sharp left and right turns. Everybody there was incredibly nice, so thank you again to everyone there who was part of the filming and making of the video. They showed me around the whole shop — a lot of fun.”

The Drive From Sandy’s Perspective

The first thing Sandy mentioned once they were inside Chris’s Dirty Tesla was that the screen looked different — it was not like his Model 3’s screen. Sandy, upon finding out that Chris’s Tesla was a Model Y, said:

“This is the only electric vehicle I’ve ever recommended. Period. I based all of that on the fact that it’s got the castings in the back and I knew that this is going to be a much more positive kind of ride than anything you’re going to get. And the Model 3 is good — not bad. But this is the one that I said, ‘You know what? If you’re going to buy an electric car, I’d try and buy this one.’”

The Drive

Once they picked their destinations, Chris explained that it wasn’t ready for parking lots yet, and even Tesla hasn’t advertised that it was ready for parking lots. The vehicle navigated out of the lot and onto the street, stopping at a red light. Sandy asked Chris what has been the most exciting part of being a beta tester for Tesla’s FSD.

“The Beta — it’s just nice to see the progress, and I know you said earlier that I’m one of the lucky few. I’m rooting for it to come to everybody, I really am. I want it to get pushed out, but I want it to be safe. Just seeing the progress and, you know, there’s still a lot to be done. It does make mistakes pretty often.

“I’m sure you’ll see a few in this video, but the progress has been noticeable. I mean, it is getting better. There’s no doubt. I actually track the interventions per mile that I get and they have been going down, especially with this version.”

Sandy noted that the car did move faster than normal speed and Chris explained that he set that up in the settings — it goes 10 mph over. He also pointed out that driving through neighborhoods is more of a challenge for FSD compared to the highway.

“The real big trick here is driving in cramped quarters. So this has done really well I think.”

The next thing Sandy wanted to know is if Chris had experienced anything that was shocking or scary.

“I wouldn’t put it that way, but it definitely makes mistakes, and it is a good idea — I mean, Tesla tells you in the release notes that you always have to pay attention. Keep your hands on the wheel, of course. Sometimes, like that lane change we had back then without a turn signal, it’ll kind of make quick moves like that.

“It’s a lot freer than the public build of Autopilot that’s kind of stuck in its lane. If it thinks it needs to, you know, move on the center line to get out of a bicyclist’s way, it’ll do it. And you have to kind of be prepared for when it does that when it’s not supposed to. So, I wouldn’t say anything has scared me, but yeah, there’s definitely times I take over because it’s getting too close to a wall or maybe too close to some barrels or something like that. But I’ve never been scared by it.

You can watch both videos here and here.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/24/sandy-munro-experiences-teslas-fsd-beta-v9-im-pretty-happy-with-what-i-see-in-the-way-of-progress-here/

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30 Million Solar Homes Initiative Promises 1.77 Million Jobs

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A coalition composed of the Institute For Local Self-Reliance, Solar United Neighbors Action, the Initiative For Energy Justice, and Solar United Neighbors has created a white paper urging the federal government to create policy and funding initiatives that would support the addition of rooftop solar to 30 million US homes.

The proposal claims the 30 Million Solar plan would create 1.77 million new jobs and save $69 billion in energy costs in the first 6 years. Thereafter, it would reduce the nation’s energy bills by $30 billion a year. In addition, the amount of carbon dioxide kept out of American skies would be equivalent to shuttering 48 coal-fired generating plants for an entire year or taking 42 million conventional gasoline and diesel powered vehicles off the road. 

That last part gets a Wow! from us here at CleanTechnica. Imagine how long it is going to take to get 42 million cars off the road at the current rate of EV adoption.

Policy Help & Financial Assistance

A big part of the 30 Million Solar initiative is convincing Congress to expand and extend the federal investment tax credits available for solar projects, many of which are scheduled to shrink in the near future before expiring altogether. The plan calls for bumping those credits back up to 30% and extending them for an additional 10 years. The critical elements include:

  • Restoration, extension, and democratization of the Investment Tax Credit to provide a direct pay option for distributed solar projects and a 30% credit.
  • Substantially increased investment in energy assistance and weatherization programs to permanently reduce energy burdens, especially with rooftop and community solar.
  • New financing programs, including a national green bank and Clean Energy Victory Bonds.
  • Substantial expansion of federal matching grants and loan guarantees for schools, rural homes and businesses, tribal communities, and equitable community solar projects.
  • Loan loss reserves, especially to support clean energy portfolios within community development financial institutions.
  • Virtual permitting, a national solar marketplace, rules supporting net metering and community solar requirements, and other market-boosting policies.
  • Support for solar workers and small business owners from underrepresented groups.
  • Measures to make sure federal programs and agencies are accountable to communities.

The Executive Summary of the plan reads as follows:

“The 30 Million Solar Homes policies leverage federal power to spark investment that can serve more than 30 million households with rooftop or community solar over the next five years. This decentralized approach to reaching one in four households with solar maximizes and disperses the economic benefits of expanding clean energy in the fight against climate change, directly benefiting as many Americans as possible.

“More than three quarters of total federal investment benefits marginalized communities, including low and moderate income communities, environmental justice communities, and solar deserts. Over 300 advocacy organizations, solar businesses, and faith communities have signed on in support of 30 Million Solar Homes.”

Two Thirds Of Benefits Will Flow To Underserved Communities

As of the end of the first quarter of this year, the U.S. solar industry had installed 102.8 GW of capacity, enough to power roughly 18.6 million homes. Adding rooftop solar to 30 million homes would equate to 151 GW in new solar capacity — 50% more than all the solar capacity currently in place.

Along with job creation, installing solar on 30 million homes would lead to 100 GW of the 151 GW of proposed capacity being installed in marginalized communities, helping to improve access equity to solar and easing the historic economic imbalance of the resource. The benefits of local solar are particularly important for these communities as many have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and face a slow economic recovery. Specific proposals that would benefit underserved communities include:

  • A bonus 10% tax credit for commercial projects that provide Davis-Bacon prevailing wages and benefits.
  • A 10% bonus credits to commercial projects primarily serving marginalized communities, or that provide resilience by combining solar and energy storage.
  • A 10% bonus credits to residential projects also serving marginalized communities or providing resilience.
  • Modifications to prioritize projects that provide a direct financial benefit to residents through electricity bill credits and other benefits.

The proposal also calls for:

  • DOE loan guarantees for equitable community solar projects.
  • Reauthorizing clean energy block grants for state, tribal, territorial, and local governments.
  • Establishing solar plus storage grants for resiliency in marginalized communities.
  • Instituting solar grants for schools to reinvest energy savings into operations.
  • Establishing grants for developing residential and community solar in marginalized communities.

Speeding Up Solar Permitting

The so-called soft costs associated with rooftop solar can add a third to the cost of a system. The Solar Automated Permit Processing platform from the US Department of Energy hopes to speed up the permitting process and lower costs. It provides a standard portal for local governments to process permit applications that automatically checks codes to ensure safety while generating a standardized inspection checklist installers and inspectors can use to verify compliance in the field.

The DOE piloted the SolarAPP+ program in Tucson and Pima County in Arizona, and Menifee and Pleasant Valley in the California. “In Tucson, for example, SolarAPP+ reduced permitting reviews from approximately 20 business days to zero,” according to DOE.

“We have 3 million households today that have solar on their roofs, but the potential is so much greater,” DOE’s solar energy director told Reuters. “Having streamlined processes and an automated permitting platform that can make it faster, easier and cheaper for homeowners to go solar promises to really help expand the residential solar sector.”

Local governments and installers can now sign up to get started with the app or attend webinars listed on the DOE’s blog. It’s all part of the its Summer of Solar campaign aimed at lowering soft costs — design, siting, permitting, installation, and so forth — associated with rooftop solar power.

The Takeaway

The distinguishing feature of rooftop solar is it typically is not something done by traditional utility companies. They love solar because the cost of fuel is effectively zero. But they hate to see electricity democratized. There are a few progressive utility companies out there, but most of them take the position that, “It’s our electricity, dammit, and we alone will decide who gets it and how much you pay for it.” It’s a natural consequence of the monopoly model that has been the standard of the industry for over a century.

The 30 Million Solar plan would explode that status quo. Utility industry lobbyist are salivating over the prospect of driving a stake through the heart of this proposal.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/24/30-million-solar-homes-initiative-promises-1-77-million-jobs/

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From the Sublime to the Ludicrous

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By David Waterworth

Back in 2014 I took a Tesla Model S for a test drive. The salesperson sat beside me, he put it in Ludicrous mode and Autopilot.  I drove out to the motorway and he said: “Floor it!” Then, “Take your hands off the wheel.” As my body pressed back into the driver’s seat, I knew there was no way I could take my hands off the wheel. It was a back-to-the-future, out-of-body experience.

My wife and grandson were in the backseat. “Wow,” they said. “Do it again, grandad,” said Oscar. 

Unfortunately, I did not have the funds to buy a Tesla at that time. Six years later and I was able to make the stretch to a Model 3 SR+.

In the meantime I had purchased a lovely old Wolseley. Built by BMC in 1964, he was the poor man’s Rolls. Elegant wood — glowing burr walnut — and leather trim. And power brakes for safety. Soft, high-riding suspension for comfort. According to the brochure, the Australian 6 cylinder Blue Streak engine gives a “really vivacious performance.” Luxury for a reasonable price.

I used to joke that I could do 0–100 km/h in 4.7 weeks.

From old BMC Wolseley Mark II brochure.

Now I drive a Tesla. Tess is not as soft to drive as George T. Wolseley — I have to slow down for the speed bumps. But she is faster, safer, and has tech to the eyeballs. I have not lost my love of the old marques and still appreciate the engineering of the “old days,” but nothing can compare dragging of a motor bike at the traffic lights.

I don’t miss filling up with petrol, checking the oil, and waiting for the next thing to break — fan belt, radiator hose, tappet cover gasket.

The internal combustion engine has been a great asset to civilization — transport being only one of its many uses. Its time is now passing and we are able to go from traveling in the sublime luxury of six-cylinder car comfort to the ludicrous nature of Tesla.

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He owns 50 shares of Tesla.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/24/from-the-sublime-to-the-ludicrous/

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