by December 31, 2012 at 12:00 pm 1,676 0

"Environmental "

Top 10 Environmental News-makers of 2012. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From John Shannon who writes about green energy, sustainable development and economics. Email him at john[AT]

Good day, Borderstan readers, and please let me take this opportunity to wish you a safe, prosperous and happy New Year!

Well Borderstanis, it has been a spectacular year for progress on the green energy front and for the awareness of citizens around the world on the need to care for and conserve our shared planet.

With those sentiments in mind, I offer you my:

Top 10 Environmental Newsmakers for 2012

  1. President Barack Obama makes a huge commitment to renewable energy, dramatically changing energy policy – which will make the U.S. energy self-sufficient and the world’s largest oil producer and exporter by 2017.
  2. China approves legislation to spend more than $438 billion dollars over the next 3 years on conservation, utility-scale wind and solar power plants, mitigation of pollution by airborne particulates (soot) plus, a highly-successful NOx-reduction program. See: overview and here and here also.
  3. China has decided to install 40 Gigawatts of solar power by 2015 (eight times more than it’s initial 2015 target, set back in 2010).
  4. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany has set firm policies and targets for renewable energy use in a nation which has been termed, “the world’s first major renewable energy economy“. Renewable electricity will supply 80% of German needs by 2050, for just one example.
  5. India passed legislation to allow building owners to lease their rooftop space to utility companies to install solar panels, for the purposes of selling power to the Indian electrical grid. For general info on the Indian grid, click here.
  6. India is building a solar power plant (not half-completed at this point) but is already the largest working solar power plant in the world at 214 megawatts, on its way to a Phase l total of 500 megawatts – ramping up to 1000 megawatts once Phase ll is completed.
  7. Saudi Arabia plans to spend $109 billion dollars on solar and nuclear power by 2016 — thereby allowing much more of its oil to be exported to the West.
  8. Under Dubai’s ‘Green Economy for Sustainable Development’ plan, that city will complete construction of a 1000 megawatt solar power plant by 2030. (The plant is already producing electricity and as more panels are installed, each bloc of panels are connected to the grid). This is in addition to other green energy power projects the United Arab Emirates are building.
  9. The African Development Bank Group approved $800 million earlier this year to increase solar and wind power production in Morocco. The eventual goal is to help Morocco raise it’s installed renewable energy capacity to 42% by 2020, setting the stage for electricity exports to Europe.
  10. Denmark will have all of it’s energy needs met by renewable sources by 2050 and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 34 percent (compared to 1990 levels) before 2020. They have already met their 2020 solar power goals and are on-track to surpass others. Fully half of Denmark’s energy will come from wind turbines installed offshore.

And that isn’t even the half of it! There are so many ‘good-news’ green energy and sustainable development stories out there, that it is a full-time job to stay abreast of them.

On a personal note, it has been my pleasure to inform you about developments in the green energy sector over the past months. I warmly welcome comments and suggestions for future topics that you might like to see covered here at Borderstan.

Happy New Year to you!

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by December 3, 2012 at 10:00 am 1,523 1 Comment


Letter from The White House. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From John Shannon who writes about green energy, sustainable development and economics. Email him at john[AT]

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama sent me a letter outlining the Administration‘s energy goals. In it, he laid out his ambitious plans to decrease dependence on foreign oil imports, increase oil and gas exploration and extraction, lower the fuel prices paid by consumers and set historic fuel-efficiency standards for U.S. cars and trucks. Below is a short excerpt of the letter which you can read in full at

 March 21, 2012

Dear John:

Thank you for writing.  I appreciate hearing from you, and I share the vision of millions of Americans who want to take control of our Nation’s energy future.  My Administration’s all-of-the-above energy strategy is about developing every source of American energy–a strategy aimed at saving families and businesses money at the pump by reducing our reliance on foreign oil, expanding oil and gas production, and positioning the United States as the global leader in clean energy.

The hard truth is there are no overnight solutions to our energy challenges.  The only way to deal with this problem is through a sustained, serious, all-of-the-above approach.  Under my Administration, American oil production is at its highest level in 8 years, and we are now less reliant on foreign oil than in any of the past 16 years.  We have more working oil and gas rigs than the rest of the world combined, and we have opened up millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration where appropriate and where it can be done safely.  My Administration has also approved dozens of new pipelines to move oil around, including from Canada, which will help create jobs and encourage more energy production.  Thanks to our Nation’s booming oil production, more efficient vehicles, and a world-class refining sector that last year was a net exporter for the first time in 60 years, we cut net imports by 10 percent–or a million barrels a day–in the last year alone.

Only eight months later, on November 12th, the International Energy Agency reported that the United States had suddenly moved from a country historically dependent on foreign oil, to a net exporter. But that is just the beginning. According to the IEA the United States will become the world’s largest oil producer by 2017 — surpassing even Saudi Arabia. Reuters said the IEA annual long-term report surprised top IEA analysts:

Energy developments in the United States are profound and their effect will be felt well beyond North America – and the energy sector”

“The recent rebound in US oil and gas production, driven by upstream technologies that are unlocking light tight oil and shale gas resources, is spurring economic activity – with less expensive gas and electricity prices giving industry a competitive edge.”

“The United States, which currently imports around 20 percent of its total energy needs, becomes all but self-sufficient in net terms – a dramatic reversal of the trend seen in most other energy importing countries.”

“The Chief Economist for the IEA said the US would far surpass Russia as the world’s largest gas producer by 2015 and become the world’s largest oil producer by 2017.”

Former President George W. Bush was completely right when he declared, “America, is addicted to oil.” Sadly, that has not changed. But instead of staying with the status-quo (perilously dependent on foreign oil) the Obama Administration decided early-on to keep billions of dollars of oil & gas investment, jobs, profits and other related economic activity here for the benefit of North Americans. And that, my friends — is historic change for the better.

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