Wind was the #2 power source in the US on March 29

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On this Earth Day 2022, there is something of a milestone to note. The US Department of Energy says wind turbines generated the second-largest amount of electricity for the country as of March 29. Natural gas was still the No. 1 by a wide margin, but in that one day wind overtook coal, nuclear and hydroelectric power.

The Department of Energy notes that spring often provides the best winds for wind turbines, just as the winter thaw creates river and lake levels that produce much hydroelectric power.

Wind power sometimes outperforms nuclear and sometimes coal, but this was the first time it outperformed both at the same time.

The hill states:

The milestone comes as the Biden administration has made increasing wind turbines a central part of its agenda to halve U.S. carbon emissions by the end of the decade. The Department of the Interior has signed a number of offshore wind projects, most recently the first wind power lease off the Carolinas in late March. The Biden administration has set a goal of leasing 30 gigawatts worth of offshore wind power.

I’ve looked at the latest DOE data on renewable electricity generation and it clearly shows that while renewables are growing, they still meet far less national energy needs than fossil fuel sources, primarily natural gas. Fossil fuels provide about 80% of America’s energy. Natural gas provides about a third of America’s electricity.

(US Department of Energy)

But you can see that of all renewable energy sources, wind energy is growing faster than any other.

(US Department of Energy)

Of all renewable sources, wind provides twice as many kilowatt hours of electricity as solar. But again, I refer you to the first chart to help you remember that all of these sources combined generate one-tenth of the nation’s energy needs each day.

(US Department of Energy)

Grist, who works on climate issues, says many more renewable energy projects could feed the grid, but there’s a huge and growing backlog that needs to be approved.

This entire period between the first application on the grid and the operation of a functioning utility-scale power plant is referred to as the “connection queue” and is currently rush hour congested. The study found that as of 2021, the average energy project spent 4 years on hold, compared to just 2.1 years in the decade prior to 2010. The number of projects pulling out of the whole process each year appears to be increasing, to.

The number of applications is indeed overwhelming. If all proposed projects queued in late 2021 were built tomorrow, the US would meet Biden’s goal of an 80 percent clean power grid eight years earlier, according to the Department of Energy. It’s not just that renewable energy applications have increased relative to fossil fuels. The total amount of power capacity tied up in the queue is now about three times what it was ten years ago.

This is important because to combat climate change, not only do we need to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, we also need to generate a lot more electricity. The switch to electric vehicles and the replacement of gas-powered household appliances with electric heaters and stoves could increase electricity demand in the US by 40 percent by 2050.

With winter weather hitting millions of Americans again this week, I wondered where people are spending the most per capita on energy. The Department of Energy also retains this data, although it is somewhat outdated.

A Mexican gray wolf is seen at the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, Missouri on Monday, May 20, 2019 (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

On this Earth Day, I wanted to see what’s new in endangered species. The global list is more than depressing.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has a library of resources to help you become more familiar with endangered species locally.

Here are some links how many and what types…

The National Wildlife Federation says about 42% of threatened or endangered species are endangered by invasive species.

The Home Office says invasive grasses contribute to wildfires:

There is a feedback mechanism between invasive species and fire. For example, in the west, this is primarily a function of fire-tolerant invasive grasses spreading into landscapes that were previously much less susceptible to burns; where native plants did not provide a continuous bed of fine fuels, but native plants did not.

There are so many groups and agencies working on specific problems. Here are some of them:

And there are also success stories to highlight.

Two visitors walk under a canopy of live oak trees in historic downtown Savannah in this January 29, 2014 file photo. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, file)

In the early days, cynics called people celebrating Earth Day “tree huggers.” So let’s hug some trees by looking at your city’s tree canopy with MIT’s Treepedia.

Treepedia uses Google Street View photos and an algorithm to count the trees on the streets of 27 cities worldwide. I was surprised to see that Tampa has the most street trees at about 36%. There is some debate over this, however, as the US Forest Service estimates New York City’s tree canopy at 39%, compared to Treepedia’s estimate of 16.6%. Treepedia didn’t count Central Park, but instead looked at trees over city streets.

See if your city is enforcing arbor laws as cities explode with new construction. Fresno, California just announced a plan to plant a thousand trees a year in the city’s neediest areas. The Fresno Bee reports:

The “City of Fresno Tree Policy,” introduced by Fresno City Council Vice President Tyler Maxwell, would require the city to plant at least 1,000 drought-tolerant trees on public lands each year by 2035 and create youth jobs in tree care and maintenance, as well as the creation of a rebate program to encourage home and business owners to plant more trees.

Research shows that trees play an important role in keeping neighborhoods cool during heatwaves, in addition to the physical and mental health benefits. Some neighborhoods, particularly those with fewer trees, see fewer benefits from trees.

An analysis by nonprofit conservation group American Forests found that whiter, more affluent communities in cities across the country, including Fresno, tend to have more trees, while lower-income neighborhoods and communities of color tend to have fewer.

Additionally, research on the urban heat island effect — urban areas that are hotter than their surroundings due to a lack of green space and parks — shows that people living in the hottest parts of a city are more likely to be poor.

The Maine Legislature is about to mail 850,000 $850 Mainers checks after the state was inundated with federal spending and a robust tax year. The money should end up in bank accounts in June, and it doesn’t end there. Gov. Janet Mills signed the bill into law, which also provides $20 million to pay for two years of free community college for Maine’s 2020-2023 class of high school graduates. And older and low-income Mainers get a property tax break.

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