While pollution mitigation and control is vital to the environment, scientists are finding more and more problems for the humans that live near polluting corporate sites. Unfortunately in the name of jobs and profit, companies have produced pollution while ignoring or hiding the human health from their work, often producing what is known as "sacrifice zones" -- areas where the pollution is dangerous for people who often cannot leave. The Environmental Health Project has taken on the difficult job of using health science discern the short and long term effects of gas fracking and plastic production on local populations. On this podcast episode, we welcome Alison Steele, who tells us the good, the bad and the ugly of trying to help communities protect their health from the perils of corporate practices that could affect these communities for generations.
Alison L. Steele, MBA, is the Executive Director of The Environmental Health Project (EHP), a nonprofit public health organization that assists and supports residents of Southwestern Pennsylvania and beyond who believe their health has been, or could be, impacted by shale gas development and other polluting industries in the area.. Alison earned her undergraduate degree in physics from Drew University in Madison, NJ and her MBA in Sustainable Business Practices from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. As part of her graduate work, Alison studied sustainability tools and practices used by leading companies in Europe, performed consulting services for large Pittsburgh-area companies, and published research on organizational behavior techniques used to aid adoption of sustainability initiatives. Prior to starting at EHP, she led policy and education efforts at Conservation Consultants, Inc. and developed the company's flagship grassroots community engagement program, which focused on advancing home health and energy efficiency in low-income Pittsburgh neighborhoods. She joined EHP at the beginning of 2020, and since then, she and her team have been taking advantage of our increasingly virtual world to extend their reach as they work to defend public health in the face of shale gas development.
Some links for further reading:
Ever wonder what will happen to all those EV, home, and main batteries will go after they start to wear out? Most people don't think about how big a job it will be to recycle or repurpose them and reuse their materials. Dr. Singh has started a new company, Relyion, to help solve that problem.
Dr. Surinder Singh’s distinguished career has focused on advancing and incubating technologies that address climate emergency with a focus on fundamentals of science, systems engineering, and business models. He is spearheading Relyion Energy Inc’s strategic business development to create second-life sustainable solutions for Lithium-ion batteries.
Previously, Dr. Singh worked as Director of Engineering and Center of Excellence Leader for NICE America Research (that’s the National Institute for Clean and Low-Carbon Energy), an incubator for China Energy (CE), and a program leader at General Electric.
China Energy is the world’s largest overall power producer and renewable power producer by assets. He utilizes system-level thinking to address climate change via clean energy technology developments. He has led initiatives funded by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Department of Energy, General Electric, NICE, and others on low-carbon technologies such as alternative fuel production for transportation with low greenhouse gas emissions; carbon capture and storage (CCS) including direct air capture and Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage for decarbonizing the power sector, biofuels and biochar production, fuel cells, hydrogen, and energy storage. He has led multi-million-dollar programs, developed partnerships with renowned universities and technology developers, and developed calls for proposals for funding programs.
Dr. Singh is mentoring startups in Climate and Energy at Breakthrough Energy, Third Derivative/New Energy Nexus, On Deck, and STEP-TIET Venture Capital and Private Equity Principals Mentor. He has led multiple cross-functional and cross-organizational teams with chemical, mechanical, electrical, electrochemical, chemists, and material scientists backgrounds. He is a seasoned executive who has authored and co-authored 11 publications, 1 book chapter, and more than 100 technical reports and holds more than 40 patents granted and pending in ClimateTech. His scientific work has been extensively cited. He is also an editor for a renowned scientific journal Sustainable Materials and Technologies. He has a Ph.D. from University of California at Riverside and BE from Thapar Institute. He is cited in Fortune ' s “Unstoppable World’s Business Minds” and “Are Second Life EV Batteries Game Changers for Microgrid Owners and the Grid?”
In 2005, he co-founded The Nakwatsvewat Institute, Inc., a Native American nonprofit organization that provides alternative dispute resolution services and support for tribal governance, justice, and educational institutions. His book Railtown on the history of the modern Los Angeles Metro Rail system was published by University of California Press in January 2014. Ethan is also a regular host of the weekly call-in radio show “State of the Bay” on the San Francisco NPR affiliate KALW 91.7 FM, airing Monday nights at 6pm PT.
This episode is focused on the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which was passed at roughly the same time the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). They were signed by Republican icons Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon respectively. Mr. Elkind speaks on topics including:
Climate Money Watchdog founders Dina Rasor and Greg Williams recap our first twenty episodes. We started this podcast before most of the federal and state climate money began to flow by interviewing people who have looked for fraud in government spending for years. Then we have interviewed people who have scientific or political organizing background to hear their stories on what will or won't work in this race for climate and environmental mitigation. We are going to start moving in the direction of helping inside sources bring forward their knowledge of ongoing fraud. If you know about fraud in a climate program, please contact us. If you know about fraud in a climate program, please contact us safely at our website! If you have a topic you would like us to cover in a podcast episode, please send us an email. In the past 20 podcast episodes, we have covered such issues as:
Today we’re joined by Jenn Tenny, Communications Manager for the MCE (originally Marin Clean Energy), a relatively new kind of government organization called a CCA, which stands for Community Choice Aggregation. CCA’s allow individual consumers to choose where they get their electricity, even if it’s delivered over transmission lines that are owned by a single, monopoly utility company.
As a journalist and am MCE customer, Dina Rasor followed MCE's progress for many years, including writing an article about them in Truthout in 2014.
As MCE’s Communications Manager, Jenna works to share messages of MCE’s mission and achievements in the community through various public engagement and press opportunities. These initiatives include not only making renewable energy more available to consumers, but also providing assistance to individuals installing more efficient appliances such as heat pumps and LED lighting, as well as reducing power usage during peak demand hours through their 4 to 9 program.
Prior to her time with MCE, Jenna worked at the California Academy of Sciences and the Bronx Zoo as a public educator. Jenna has a B.S. in Marine Biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz and an M.A. in Climate and Society from Columbia University.
Dr. Charles Harvey is a professor of environmental engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Kurt House is the chief executive officer of KoBold Metals, a metals exploration company. On August 16th, they challenged the prevailing wisdom that carbon capture and storage (CCS) is key to fighting climate change in a New York Times guest essay titled, Every Dollar Spent on This Climate Technology Is a Waste.
Doctors Harvey and House opinion is driven by their own direct experience starting the first privately funded company to make use of CCS in 2008. Back then, solar and wind energy were vastly more expensive than generating electricity by burning fossil fuel, even if you added the high cost of capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the exhaust. Now, with clean renewable energy cheaper than burning coal, “it’s clear that we were wrong, and that every dollar invested in renewable energy — instead of C.C.S. power — will eliminate far more carbon emissions.” New York times, August 16, 2022
Dr. Brittany Trang recently made New York Times headlines with an experimental but extraordinarily promising method for turning dangerous "forever" chemicals called PFAS into different, harmless chemicals.
Dr. Trang is a 2022-2023 Sharon Begley Science Reporting Fellow at STAT News. Previously, she covered health and science at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Mass Media Fellow. Her freelance work has been published places like Chemistry World, Chemical & Engineering News, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
She has a bachelor’s in English and chemistry from the Ohio State University and a PhD in chemistry from Northwestern University, where she worked with Prof. William Dichtel to develop per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) remediation methods.
PFAS, a class of “forever” chemicals that don’t break down in the environment, are a common problem on military bases and other places where firefighting foam is heavily used. As part of Climate Money Watchdog’s mission to investigate spending on environmental protection as well as climate change mitigation, we are tracking the $10 billion the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has $10 billion has allocated to addressing the PFAS problem, including $1 billion for advanced research.
Elliott Negin, Senior Writer at the Union of Concerned Scientists, was UCS media director from 2007 through 2011 and now writes about UCS-related topics for a range of news organizations including:. A contributing writer at HuffPost from 2011 through 2017, he has also written articles and columns for Alternet, The Atlantic, Columbia Journalism Review, EcoWatch, The Hill, Live Science, Mother Earth News, The Nation, The Progressive, Roll Call, Salon, Scientific American, The Washington Post and other publications. Prior to joining UCS, Elliott was the Washington communications director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, a foreign news editor at National Public Radio, the managing editor of American Journalism Review, and the editor of Nuclear Times and Public Citizen magazines. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.
We have invited Elliott to talk about two recent articles – one on ALEC and its funding and one on the long history of Charles Koch funding climate denial and climate disinformation efforts and how this impacts the ability to fund necessary climate change.
In the course of the episode, Elliott encourages listeners to learn more by reading the following works, or about the following topics:
Recent climate policy discussions on how to rapidly reduce carbon have taken on an all-of-the-above attitude that the world, and especially the US, must include all technical solutions, including carbon capture, extracting more fossil fuel, and keeping nuclear plants running as a bridge to carbon reduction. The most recent climate funding, including the new infrastructure law and the soon to be passed new climate bill, have been allocating money to these bridge efforts as well as funding clean renewable energy. There is a push by the fossil fuel industries to insist that more fossil fuel must be extracted and carbon capture technology must be used to burn the extracted fuel in order to not run out of energy while waiting for renewable energy sources to catch up. This puts more carbon in the air, does not stop the air pollution that kills about seven million people a year worldwide, and carbon capture requires a very large infrastructure base, including moving the carbon through a massive pipeline system.
Dr. Mark Z. Jacobson and his team at Stanford University has been modeling the requirements and technology that will be needed to meet world wide carbon goals for years for 145 countries and have found a startling result. His new study found that all 145 countries can meet international carbon reduction by simply by electrifying everything and using renewable energy technologies-- off and on shore wind electricity, solar panels for rooftops and power plants, concentrated solar power, solar heat, geothermal electricity and heat, hydroelectricity, and small amounts of tidal and wave electricity. In this podcast episode, he discusses how the other bridge practices and technologies are much more infrastructure heavy and don't reduce carbon as cheaply and quickly as these renewable technologies.
This worldwide model raises many questions about how climate money should be used for the climate emergency, especially since the technology of carbon capture has yet to be proven to be usable on a large scale. This podcast episode answers many questions about the current technology path on carbon.
Mark Z. Jacobson is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University. Some describe him as the architect of the U.S. Green New Deal. He has authored books, textbooks and articles on transitioning to renewable energy. Recently co-authored the study, “Low-Cost Solutions to Global Warming, Air Pollution, and Energy Insecurity for 145 Countries.
Professor Jacobson came to our attention via his opinion piece in The Hill, “No miracle tech needed: How to switch to renewables now and lower costs doing it.”, which draws heavily on this report. His credentials are impressive:
Director and co-founder, Atmosphere/Energy Program (link), Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, 2004-present.
Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment (link), January 2008-present
Senior Fellow, Precourt Institute for Energy (link), January 1, 2010-present
Co-founder, The Solutions Project (link), July 10, 2011-present.
B. S., with distinction, Stanford University, Civil Engineering, 1988
B. A., with distinction, Stanford University, Economics, 1988
M. S., Stanford University, Environmental Engineering, 1988
M. S., UCLA, Atmospheric Sciences, 1991
Ph. D., UCLA, Atmospheric Sciences, 1994
Have you ever dreamed of an approach to carbon capture and sequestration that can be deployed anywhere, and has many years of demonstrated success? It turns out farmers have been employers using this technology – plants – for thousands of years. Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) is a hot topic in the climate world right now but there is a huge difference between engineering CCS versus natural CCS. The infrastructure law has set aside $12 billion to do expensive engineering CCS demonstration plants that will require complex technology to trap the carbon coming from a polluting plant, hundreds of miles of possibly dangerous CO2 pipelines to transport it to the sequestration sites, and looking for underground sites to store the carbon forever.
Dr. Jeff Creque and others have spent years finding out that there are many potential areas in farming that can be used as permanent and natural cycling of carbon while lowering pollution and improving the soil so that it will absorb more CO2 that current farming practices. He outlines it in this podcast episode and his work with excellent graphics can be found at the Carbon Cycle Institute.
Dr. Jeff Creque is a co-founder of the Marin Carbon Project and the Carbon Cycle Institute, where he serves as Director of Rangeland and Agroecosystem Management. Jeff provides senior leadership on carbon farming and land management, informed by thirty-five years of applied experience and theoretical training. He is an agricultural and rangeland consultant and a Natural Resources Conservation Service certified nutrient management planning specialist and technical service provider.
Jeff’s organizational affiliations include: Founding Board Member, Alliance for Local Sustainable Agriculture (Marin); Co-Founder, Bolinas-Stinson Beach Resource Recovery Project; Agricultural Director, Apple Tree International; Co-Founder, West Marin Compost Coalition.
Jeff holds a PhD in Rangeland Ecology from Utah State University, and is a California State Board of Forestry Certified Professional in Rangeland Management.