Local Communities Lead Way to New Energy Future

Local communities across the United States are driving America's environmental agenda. Three hundred city mayors in 46 states have signed an agreement to reduce the industrial greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming. Twenty-eight states have climate action plans. Support for a new energy future is gathering momentum in Washington as well, but it's outside the halls of Congress.

On a grassy patch of land in the middle of the University of the District of Columbia campus stand a solar array, a wind turbine and a water tank. While they don't power anything on this sunny and windy day, they are a symbol of things to come like the new visitor's center planned for this very spot.

The center will generate energy from wind turbines, solar voltaic panels and other clean technologies. With that dream less than a year away, UDC's Samuel Lakeou motions to the water tank behind him. He says the 3,028-liter tank with submersible pump can draw water from a depth of about 61 meters. Lakeou, director of the school's Center for Excellence in Renewable Energy,  says this is an affordable system that can have an impact far beyond the UDC campus. "In other countries, a combination like this can provide clean potable water for a community of almost 5,000 people. And, the impact that it has on reducing poverty is tremendous."

Joining Lakeou in the shadow of the water tank is Kate Johnson, spokesperson for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a grassroots advocacy organization. Johnson is here to support UDC's renewable energy program and to promote U.S. PIRG's national energy-saving campaign. Juggling an armload of environmentally friendly home products, she delivers her consumer message. She says saving energy can start with something as simple as changing a light bulb. "Lighting consumption accounts for 9% of the electricity used in American homes. If every American home replaced its standard incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient light bulbs like these compact fluorescents, we could cut the electricity we use to light our homes in half."

Johnson dispenses other energy-saving advice. "We can easily use weather sealant tape to insulate doors and windows, and we could also install programmable thermostats that save energy by automatically turning off heat and air conditioning when you are not home."

Just days before U.S. Congressional elections, U.S. PIRG is campaigning for a new energy future. Its 4-point agenda calls for candidates to support policies that reduce oil consumption, save energy, increase renewable energy and invest in energy saving and renewable technology. The group's legislative director Anna Aurilio says the campaign is gaining momentum and signatures across America. "So far 156 federal candidates in more than 27 states have committed to the goals of a new energy future."

Two hundred eighty organizations have also endorsed the plan. Among them is Republicans for Environmental Protection, which - as its name implies - campaigns to keep or put Republicans with a pro-environmental record in Congress.

Government affairs director David Jenkins says its mission is to rise above special interests to refocus the Republican Party on its historic environmental roots where, he says, "stewardship and conservation were hallmarks of a Republican identity."

Jenkins says the group is pragmatic in its approach to environmental protection. "These Republicans that are good on these issues are the very people that can make that happen," he says and advises voters to re-elect them. "If you sweep them out and you make this issue more polarized, you are not doing long-term good for our environment. We need good people on both sides. Pick and choose your candidates. There are Republicans that are good on these issues and we need those people to help bring the rest of the party along."

U.S. PIRG's Anna Aurilio agrees. She hopes that concern over environmental issues will get voters to the polls next week to put the renewable energy commitment already in place in institutions like UDC, into the halls of Congress.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video In Cambodian Capital, Political Motives Seen Behind Canceled Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle reports from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs