Some environmentalists said the law extending California’s cap and trade system to 2030 is a sellout to the oil industry, and that it shortchanges disadvantaged communities that breathe the dirtiest air. How do California’s climate moves play into national politics and policy? Will climate and energy play a meaningful role in the upcoming midterm elections? Will companies make energy policy more of a priority? We look back at how Gov. Schwarzenegger set the tone and how his past leadership continues to influence California’s policies today.  


Project Drawdown's Climate Change Solutions

Apr 17, 2017

In agriculture, building, urban design transportation, energy production and use and more, there are steps already being taken to keep carbon out of the atmosphere. And according to a serious new book, scaling up those actions—all of them—could be a pathway to reversing global warming.

Many of the 100 climate change solutions examined by Project Drawdown have interlocking effects. Editor Paul Hawken says their analyses work scrupulously to keep their projected benefits separate.

Manufacturing Efficiency Boosted with Clean Energy

Sep 27, 2016

Increased use of clean power would boost manufacturing in California, not hurt it, according to a pair of new studies. Suzanne Potter has details.

Food and Water Watch

The subtitle of Wenonah Hauter’s new book is, “The Battle for the Future of Energy and the Environment.” Its subject is fracking.

Setting the stage for her indictment of fracking, Food and Water Watch founder and CEO Wehnonah Hauter devotes the opening chapters of Frackopoly to a concise, critical history of the industry that promotes it.

Living Through the Peak of Industrial Civilization

May 27, 2016

  From genetic predisposition to flawed cultural assumptions, humankind’s history is getting in the way of preparing for a very different future. So says Nate Hagens, a writer, educator and energy analyst who will speak in Sebastopol Wednesday night.

A more rational and comprehensive way of thinking about and measuring all forms of energy consumption, Hagens suggests, would be to focus on calories, which offers a stark contrast between what is needed and what is actually used.

Microbes "scrub" winemaking wastewater

Nov 16, 2015
Bruce Robinson, KRCB

Naturally occurring bacteria are being tested as agents that can clean up waste water from winemaking, and generate a little energy in the process.

The bacteria that are being used in these tests may behave in some unusual ways, but they are naturally occurring and easy to find, says SSU Biology Professor Michael Cohen.

  They are called "electrogenic" microbes due to a bio-chemical process through which they can create a small electric current. Cohen explains how that happens.

California Continues to Grow Green Jobs

Sep 4, 2015

  California's continued employment growth includes a significant number of "green jobs." Suzanne Potter has the numbers.

Energy Efficiency Boosts California Economy

Aug 21, 2015

Reducing the energy used by buildings and appliances across California has saved consumers billions, while also creating jobs and stimulating other sectors of the economy. But there’s still more that needs to be done for the state to meet its long-term goals.

Preparing for Life Beyond Coal, Oil and Gas

Jul 27, 2015

  Remaining oil, gas and coal reserves are dirtier and harder to extract. So why aren’t we being more protective of these dwindling resources? That’s what Richard Heinberg wants to know, as Bruce Robinson’s interview with him continues.

See Richard Heinberg elaborate on what he calls “The Great Burning,” in the video below:

100% Renewable Energy, is it Possible?

Mar 30, 2015
Flickr user Baron Reznik/Creative Commons

Energy: civilization can’t run without it. But the way we use energy – depending mostly on fossil fuel – can’t go on for long, say analysts worried about the rising impacts of climate change. Elena Krieger director of Oakland-based energy think tank PSE Healthy Energy has a plan for boosting renewable energy. 

Trevi Systems: Out to Cut the Cost of Desalination

Jan 7, 2015

  The biggest obstacle to turning salt water into fresh water is the considerable energy that’s required. A new Petaluma- based company believes it has found a way to cut those costs by more than 80%, and is now out to prove it.

    Beyond the promise the new Trevi Systems technology holds for desalinating seawater, CEO John Webley says there may be even greater potential in cleaning up municipal wastewater.

Developing Solar Power on Agricultural Lands

Aug 22, 2014
West County Union High School District

  Sonoma County has opened the door  for the construction of  new solar arrays that could feed Sonoma Clean Power, on agricultural lands and elsewhere. But local environmentalists are keeping a wary eye on where those developments might be located.

  Sonoma Clean Power’s new PRO-Fit program is open to 14 kinds of renewable energy generation projects, including biomass, tidal current, geothermal and small hydroelectric. But for now, says COE Geof Syphers, most proposals are expected to be solar installations.

Community Power Faces Legislative Roadblock

Jun 16, 2014

  PG&E’s ballot measure to block Community-based green energy operations, such as those in Sonoma and Marin Counties, was rejected by voters in 2010. Now the utility is trying again, through a measure in the state legislature, where they have lined up some influential union support behind it.

Five Years of Boosting Energy Efficiency

Apr 17, 2014

  In an early bid to combat greenhouse gas emissions and conserve energy, the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program was set up back in 2009. It just passed its five year anniversary date, which provides an opportunity to review the program's effectiveness.

SCEIP is also co-hosting an Energy Action Forum today at Paradise Ridge Winery  in Santa Rosa, from 4-7 pm,  to honor six local Energy Champions.  They are:

§       Santa Rosa Plaza – Simon Properties, Santa Rosa

§       Sonoma Veterinary Clinic – Dr. Howard Rosner, Sonoma

Cost breakthrough for water desalination

Mar 19, 2014
Water FX

  In California’s Central Valley, a small water district is pioneering the use of solar energy to power water desalination through distillation. An extensive article on the pilot project in yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle reported that this approach cuts the power requirements for desalination by as much as three-fourths, which is a breakthrough in cost-effectiveness. We learn more in this conversation with the article’s author.

Tougher Energy Standards Coming for New Construction

Mar 4, 2014

California’s green building codes are already some of the strictest in the nation. And there are sweeping further changes on the way.

    The theme of the educational program at the Construction Technology Expo is “High Performance Buildings—Where We Are Going and How We Get There.” Architect Pete Gage says one part of the answer will be a heightened emphasis on including renewable energy generation in new buildings.

Generating Clean Power in Sonoma County

Feb 12, 2014

Sonoma Clean Power is about more than providing electricity—they’re also imagining a new energy future for the region, with public participation in the creation of that vision.

Debunking Fracking

Oct 1, 2013

Fracking is not the fossil fuel panacea the oil industry paints it as, says skeptic and peak oil analyst Richard Heinberg. He calls those claims “Snake Oil.”

Rolling Out Sonoma Clean Power

Sep 1, 2013

  The organization and governance of Sonoma Clean Power has been finalized; now the new green electricity provider is moving into the specialized realm of buying and selling sustainably created electrons. 

Even before the specific rates have been established, Geof Syphers, Chief Sustainability Officer for Sonoma Clean Power, is confidently predicting that their pricing will hew close to what utility customers are currently paying.


Sonoma Clean Power Prepares to Get Going

Jul 1, 2013

Electricity will be greener, if not immediately cheaper, when Sonoma Clean Power inaugurates its service early next year. Backers of the new local utility are hoping Santa Rosa, Sebastopol and Sonoma will choose to be part of the project, but say none of those votes are make or break decisions.

What Sonoma Clean Power Can do for Your Business

Apr 25, 2013
Image courtesy BoDean

Starting in January 2014 Sonoma County residents and business will have a choice in where they buy electricity. The county is forming a local public power agency to purchase energy from renewable sources, at prices competitive to PG&E. Danielle Venton reports that could be a big boon to local business. Business opportunities within Sonoma Clean Power will be featured at the 2013 Sustainable Enterprise Conference in Rohnert Park this Friday. 

Sonoma's Biochar Initiative

Mar 14, 2013

It cleans water, sequesters carbon underground, and boosts agricultural production. Yet the material known as biochar is just beginning to be appreciated and used in the 21st century. Bruce Robinson chats with an advocate.

More information  about the Sonoma Biochar Initiatve, including how to join, can be found here.

Peter Hirst of New England Biochar explains how the stuff is made in this video.