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Energy and the Environment: Myths and Facts

Believing that prudent policies require a well-informed citizenry—one well versed in the facts—a survey research conducted by Zogby Associates, to determine what Americans believe about energy and environmental issues and the extent of their knowledge has been released.

Building on similar research from 2006, the second edition reports the January 2009 responses of 1,000 Americans, chosen to be representative of public opinion generally, on matters such as the sources energy, the extent of the oil supply, the rate of global warming, the safety of nuclear power, and the promise of renewable energy sources.

The survey found that the views that many Americans hold about a wide range of these issues remain, in key ways, inaccurate. For example:

• Forty-nine percent of respondents believe Saudi Arabia exports the most oil to the U.S., while just 13% correctly identified Canada as our top foreign supplier. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the U.S. imported 58.2% of its petroleum (including crude oil) in 2007, but only 16.1% of all imports came from Persian Gulf countries.
• More than 67% believe we can meet future energy demand through conservation and efficiency. Historically, in contrast, energy demand actually increases alongside efficiency gains. And because energy use is not static, conservation leads to only marginal reductions in demand. the EIA projects global energy consumption to increase 50% from 2005 to 2030 and U.S. energy use to increase 11.2% from 2007 to 2030.
• Just 37% correctly answered that no one has ever died from the actual generation of nuclear power in the U.S.  though the U.S. has not built a nuclear-power reactor since the nuclear meltdown at three Mile Island in 1979, 104 active reactors safely generate roughly one-fifth of our nation’s electricity.
• Sixty-three percent of those surveyed believe that human activity is the greatest source of green- house gases. In fact, such emissions are significantly smaller than natural emissions. the burning of fossil fuels is responsible for just 3.27% of the carbon dioxide that enters the atmosphere each year, while the biosphere and oceans account for 55.28% and 41.46%, respectively.
• Less than 28% correctly believe that U.S. air quality has improved since 1970. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the six most common air pollutants have decreased by more than 50%; air toxins from large industrial sources have fallen nearly 70%; new cars are more than 90% cleaner, in terms of their emissions; and production of most ozone-depleting chemicals has ceased.  These reductions have occurred despite the fact that during the same period, gross domestic product tripled, energy consumption increased 50%, and motor vehicle use increased almost 200%.

Click here to download a copy of Energy and the Environment: Myths and Facts

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Cumulative Impacts of Large-Scale Renewable Energy Development in the Western Mojave

Cumulative Impacts of Large-Scale Renewable Energy Development in the Western Mojave: Theoretical Effects on Physical Connectivity, Gene Flow, and Habitat Fragmentation


To help slow our contribution to climate change, California’s Governor has issued an executive order requiring an unprecedented one-third of statewide electricity production to come from renewable sources by 2020. California’s West Mojave Desert contains ample renewable energy resources and undeveloped expanses, thus many large-scale renewable projects have been proposed for the region. Such renewable energy development, however, will have ecological consequences of its own, including fragmentation of sensitive ecosystems, and barriers to species movement and gene flow.

This project examines the cumulative impacts of large-scale renewable energy development, urban expansion, and climate change on two of the Mojave’s flagship species: the bighorn sheep and desert tortoise. The results indicate that climate change impacts to species connectivity can be compounded by renewable energy developments, which decrease core and highly suitable habitat and can act as major obstacles to migration and gene flow. To help maintain connectivity within the West Mojave, renewable energy planners can reconsider developing projects within critical or highly suitable habitat, within connectivity pathways, and surrounding important source populations and climate refugia for the bighorn sheep metapopulation. Conservation organizations can prioritize existing landholdings important to connectivity, consider purchasing additional land or easements to protect connectivity, and support planning efforts by providing expertise to conduct additional connectivity analyses.

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Interior Releases Updated Roadmap for Solar Energy Development

Supplement to Draft Solar PEIS offers solid foundation for landscape-level planning in six western states

WASHINGTON (Oct 27, 2011) – As part of President Obama’s commitment to developing  our domestic energy portfolio, including our clean energy resources, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today made public a supplement to the federal plan to facilitate responsible utility-scale solar development on public lands in six western states – Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.

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Fast-Track for Solar Energy Development on Western Lands

Secretary Salazar, Senator Reid Announce ‘Fast-Track’ Initiatives for Solar Energy Development on Western Lands

LAS VEGAS, NV (Jun 29, 2009) – Under initiatives announced today by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), federal agencies will work with western leaders to designate tracts of U.S. public lands in the West as prime zones for utility-scale solar energy development, fund environmental studies, open new solar energy permitting offices and speed reviews of industry proposals.

“President Obama’s comprehensive energy strategy calls for rapid development of renewable energy, especially on America’s public lands,” said Secretary Salazar.  “This environmentally-sensitive plan will identify appropriate Interior-managed lands that have excellent solar energy potential and limited conflicts with wildlife, other natural resources or land users.  The two dozen areas we are evaluating could generate nearly 100,000 megawatts of solar electricity.  With coordinated environmental studies, good land-use planning and zoning and priority processing, we can accelerate responsible solar energy production that will help build a clean-energy economy for the 21st century.” 

“I want to thank Secretary Salazar for his commitment to renewable energy, and for being here in Nevada today,” said Reid.  "This is the Secretary's second visit to Nevada to announce key renewable energy initiatives that will help make Nevada the blueprint for everything that’s right about the future of our nation’s energy policy. We’ve got sunny skies, strong winds, and land that when used properly, will allow us to lead the nation’s children into a cleaner, more efficient, and more profitable tomorrow.”

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