Clean Energy Is America’s Next Frontier & Path to a Safer Climate

This is part of a series of blogs on NRDC’s new report, “America’s Clean Energy Frontier: The Pathway to a Safer Climate Future

NRDC’s new report, America’s Clean Energy Frontier: The Pathway to a Safer Climate Future, shows how the United States can meet our short- and long-term climate goals relying primarily on today’s proven clean energy solutions—and with tremendous climate and health benefits that far surpass the cost.

We can do it with a bold and rapid, but achievable, expansion of energy efficiency, renewable energy, electric vehicles and decarbonized buildings, all supported by a modernized grid. Plus, we don’t need to wait for breakthroughs—we can achieve our goals with the tools we already have.

By taking advantage of our nation’s vast renewable resources and reducing energy waste across the U.S. economy, we can slash our reliance on imported and dirty fossil fuels by at least 70 percent. And our ambitious, but feasible, build-out of clean energy also decreases our reliance on riskier or more costly strategies like nuclear power and biomass. The benefits of NRDC’s approach vastly outweigh the costs by 7 to 1—so we need to keep pushing forward—hard—on renewable, efficient, and electric technologies.


What we found

NRDC teamed with the internationally recognized Energy + Environmental Economics (E3) consulting firm to model how the U.S. can reduce total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80 percent by 2050. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has concluded that developed countries, like the United States, will need to reduce national GHG emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050 to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

Working with E3, NRDC carried out rigorous and complex modeling that can be directly compared with the results of E3’s previous analysis of U.S. emissions reductions potential, presented to the United Nations. NRDC also conducted additional in-house study to further examine and distill the modeling results, and both unpack the broader implications and develop near-term policies and priorities.

While different approaches have been suggested for America to achieve its “80 x 50” climate goal, NRDC’s pathway is unique because it relies only on proven clean energy technologies, which can achieve our climate goal most cost-effectively. Energy efficiency cuts waste, slashes our energy consumption, and saves households and businesses money. A high level of increasingly price-competitive renewable power allows us to affordably clean up our buildings and cars. And modernizing our electricity grid, which needs upgrades anyway, will connect all our clean energy resources together.   

NRDC’s pathway relies on four critical pollution-reduction strategies:

  1. Energy efficiency investments, along with electric cars and appliances, cut U.S. energy demand in half compared to our “no-action” reference case by 2050, avoiding significant amounts of power plant pollution. Multiple authorities, ranging from the respected National Academies to well-known consultancy McKinsey to expert energy-efficiency think-tanks conclude this level of energy savings is feasible, with top-performing companies and utilities already achieving them. Invisible Energy, by our colleague David Goldstein, describes efficiency’s nearly limitless potential.  Despite much progress on efficiency, however, almost 70 percent of all raw energy is still wasted in the United States. By eliminating that waste from where it’s produced to how it’s transmitted to how it’s used in our homes, buildings, cars and factories, the United States can use less, spend less, waste less, and pollute less.
  2. Wind and solar grow to provide at least 70 percent of our electricity supply in 2050, a roughly 13-fold increase from today. Including hydropower and geothermal, renewable electricity is 80 percent. This expansion is feasible and achievable. Renewable energy is already our country’s dominant source of new energy, thanks to continuing price declines and increasing industry experience with these technologies. We view our model results as showing a floor, not a ceiling. Much more renewables growth is possible. For instance, for technical reasons, our model doesn’t incorporate the fast-growing area of rooftop solar generation.
  3. Using clean electricity, our model directly displaces fossil fuels from our cars, homes, offices and factories. NRDC prioritizes electrification where it’s the most cost-effective way to reduce carbon, as with electric cars and electric heat pumps.
  4. For some of the remaining, limited harder-to-electrify niche uses, like airplanes or long-haul trucks, our model uses lower-emission fuels, such as sustainable biomass, synthetic gas derived from renewable electricity, and some carbon capture and storage, to reduce emissions.

To enable this clean energy transition, we need a modernized electricity grid. That will enable us to reliably integrate renewables and other clean technologies, to provide more clean electricity for America’s homes and businesses.

Particularly by maximizing energy efficiency—the cheapest, fastest, cleanest clean energy solution—our approach is less costly than virtually all comparable studies. Between 2015 and 2050, our energy system costs in our scenario are only 1 percent more than in the scenario where no action is taken, but it delivers climate and health benefits 7 times greater than these incremental costs. And in 2050, our approach actually costs less than business-as-usual. Although upfront capital investments in more efficient and electric appliance, buildings, and vehicles are needed, these smart energy-saving investments will yield enormous fuel savings in later years. While not modeled, our scenario is also likely the cheapest option after 2050 thanks to continuing fuel savings.

Our report also includes policy recommendations to move us forward at the federal, state and local levels. Our NRDC colleagues will explore these in the coming days as part of this series on our report’s implications.

Does NRDC’s pathway sound challenging? It will require a massive effort, but it’s all feasible, and states and cities across the nation already are taking the bold action needed. Besides, taking on such grand challenges is in America’s DNA.

The prize is clear: a truly 21st century energy system, more well-paying clean energy jobs, protection of our communities and outstanding natural resources, and renewed U.S. leadership on the global stage in next-generation energy technology. And a safer climate future.

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Toys R Us Learns That The Free Market Isn’t All Fun And Games

Competition: Almost exactly 20 years ago, a federal judge ruled Toys R Us had illegally used its market muscle to keep toy prices high. Today the company is filing for bankruptcy protection. In a free and open market, dominance yesterday guarantees nothing tomorrow.

Toys R Us once seemed like an unstoppable force. The number of stores in the U.S. more than doubled from 1987 to 1995, when it accounted for 20% of all toy sales in the country. People complained that it was driving mom-and-pop toy stores out of business.

It was seen as an international threat. In 1993, the Independent fretted that “in the eight years since the American-owned group transplanted its behemoths from the prairie to the U.K., Toys R Us has gobbled up more than 20% of Britain’s toy market.”

At the start of 1994, it announced plans to open 115 in the U.S. and abroad. The New York Times said it was “Building a Toy Empire.”

Then came the court ruling, and an order from the Federal Trade Commission to “stop engaging in illegal practices that keep toy prices higher and reduce choice for consumers.”

According to the FTC, the company had monopoly power in many local markets and “used its dominant position as a toy distributor to extract agreements from and among toy manufacturers to stop selling to warehouse clubs the same toys that they sold to other toy distributors.”

Despite all the government’s fretting about dominance and monopolies, the toy chain’s ability to control the toy market was always exaggerated. As University of Chicago business economics professor Dennis Carlton explained in a 1999 paper, “there are few, if any, barriers to entry or expansion in toy retailing. In addition, any number of retailers — including warehouse clubs — can, and do, rapidly expand their toy departments in response to fluctuations in demand.”

This is, of course, the case with most other so-called monopolists, whose grip on the market is wildly exaggerated, and who usually fall from grace right about the time that pundits and government bureaucrats decide they’ve gotten too big and too powerful. Think IBM (IBM) and Microsoft (MSFT). (In fact, the only enduring monopolies in the U.S. are those protected by government.)

In the case of Toys R Us, its size ended up being a disadvantage. It couldn’t, or didn’t bother to, respond to shifts in consumer spending. It’s customer service suffered and in-store experience grew stale. It was a laggard on the web.

Consumers increasingly bought toys from Wal-Mart (WMT) or other big box stores — often at lower prices than Toys R Us was offering — where they could also buy discount groceries and household items. The rise of (AMZN) didn’t help, either.

Plus, what kids want to play with these days has changed, moving toward gaming and electronics and away from model airplanes and action figures.

So on Monday, buried in about $5 billion in debt, Toys R Us filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It says it will close some underperforming stores and revamp others.

CEO Dave Brandon said this would “ensure that the iconic Toys R Us and Babies R Us brands live on for many generations.”

Maybe he’s right. But Toys R Us will only live on if it can keep pace with an endlessly changing retail landscape and cope with the unrelenting pressure to meet customers’ increasingly exacting needs.

It’s not much fun. But it’s how the free market keeps making things better and cheaper for everyone.


Ignore the Critics, The Amazon/Whole Foods Deal Is Good for Consumers 

Sears, Other Retailers Reel From Gales Of ‘Creative Destruction’

The Death Of Retailing As We Know It?

Check out all of IBD’s Political coverage, including the award-winning editorial page.

New to investing? Start here with IBD University.

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New Release of Software Expands Design to Cost Capabilities Helping Engineers Identify Manufacturability Issues Early

the leading provider of automated product cost management (PCM) software
solutions today announced that a new version of the company’s flagship
aPriori Professional software is generally available. This new version
of the software is designated as aPriori Professional 2017 R1.

aPriori Professional 2017 R1 provides manufacturability and cost
driver guidance for additional manufacturing processes and expands the
guidance available for those processes already available
. Extended
manufacturability and cost driver guidance helps engineers during the
design phase understand the manufacturing impact of tolerances, identify
areas of the design that may present manufacturability issues and
evaluate features that are expensive / time consuming to make. Listed
below are some of the key Design
to Cost
(DTC) highlights featured in the new version of the software:

  • DTC views are now available for Die Castings, Sand Castings,
    soft-tooled Sheet Metal components, and machined components analyzed
    in the 2-Model Machining process group.
  • The DTC view for Plastic Injection Molded parts has been enhanced
    significantly to identify many additional manufacturability issues and
    cost drivers.
  • The DTC view for Stock Machining also has been enhanced to provide
    additional guidance related to potential manufacturability issues that
    inflate product cost.

aPriori Professional 2017 R1 also includes support for new processes
and routings commonly found in the
and defense
industry verticals. Cost models have been
added to simulate 3-Roller-Bending and 4-Roller-Bending processes, and
the selection of roller-bending machines available in Regional Data
Libraries. This will help customers accommodate estimating the cost for
very large rolled parts such as airplane wing and fuselage section
skins. This new release also provides fully mechanistic process cost
models for Anodizing Types I, IB, IC, II, IIB (“thin sulfuric”
anodizing), and III (“hard coat” anodizing).

aPriori Professional 2017 R1 features new capabilities for improved
user management
that extends our integration with corporate
information technology user management systems. The objective is to make
the administration process of setting up and managing users easier and
more automated. This update is based upon a growing trend by
multinational customers to deploy product cost management strategies and
systems for their facilities and programs located across the globe. And
finally, the software now ships with out of the box user and usage
tracking reports in Cost Insight Report to support deployment and usage

“This latest release of aPriori represents a significant step forward in
our efforts to provide cost and manufacturability guidance for product
designers and engineers,” reported Julie Driscoll, Vice President of
Strategic Marketing and Product Management. “We have discovered through
numerous conversations with our customers that while generating a quick,
detailed cost estimate is important, engineering teams also want a way
to easily identify and eliminate the cost drivers that are increasing
the cost of a product.

aPriori is designed to provide real-time cost information on parts and
complete products. The software leverages
CAD and intelligent cost models
to quickly determine feasible
manufacturing methods and product costs while generating detailed
manufacturing analysis and cost estimates that quantify the impact of
changes to product design, materials, manufacturing processes, volumes
and location in real time. aPriori also enables manufacturers to
leverage product cost data hosted in other enterprise applications to
communicate product cost information between all functional
organizations involved in product definition and delivery. This includes
the import of complex engineering Bills of Materials (BOMs) from ERP,
PLM and other enterprise applications. aPriori also incorporates
enterprise quality business intelligence capabilities that provide
intuitive, role-based insights for design, engineering, manufacturing,
value-engineering and sourcing executives and managers.

About aPriori
aPriori software and services generate
hard-dollar product cost savings for discrete manufacturing and product
innovation companies. Using aPriori’s real-time
product cost assessments
, employees in engineering, sourcing and
manufacturing make more-informed decisions that drive costs out of
products pre- and post-production. With aPriori, manufacturers launch
products at cost targets, maximize savings in re-work projects and avoid
overpaying for sourced parts. To learn more about aPriori and its
product cost management solutions and services, visit
or call 1.978.371.2006. To see an overview demonstration of aPriori, click

aPriori on Twitter
aPriori on LinkedIn
Product Costing Blog

aPriori and aPriori Technologies are registered trademarks of aPriori
Technologies Inc. All other trademarks, registered trademarks or service
marks belong to their respective holders.

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Darwin Simpson retiring from Spartanburg Downtown Airport

Darwin Simpson’s fascination with aircraft began as a child, fashioning model planes out of small sticks.

Simpson, now 74, has been flying airplanes for 53 years, including the one he keeps in a hangar at the Spartanburg Downtown Memorial Airport.

Nearly nine years ago, the retired U.S. Army general and former chemical company executive was approached about serving as the airport’s director.

His answer was simple – yes, because there wasn’t anyone else willing to improve it.

“I knew a lot about flying, and I knew a lot about government bureaucracy from my experience in the military, but I had really never run an airport,” he said. “I was sent to the airport to fix it.”

Simpson agreed to lead the airport for $1 annually in 2009.

At the end of this month, Simpson will retire from the post where he has worked tirelessly on projects to grow the airport as an economic asset in the city of Spartanburg.

Opened in 1927, the downtown airport was the first airport in South Carolina. Today, nearly 90 percent of airport operations relate to business, with about 10 percent relating to recreational flying, Simpson said.

As a general aviation airport, the downtown site caters to corporate jets, emergency medical transports, organ transplant program flights and cargo and military aircraft. The airport also assists with traffic watch, law enforcement operations, search-and-rescue missions and wildlife and forestry monitoring.

“I cannot emphasize enough how big of an economic machine that this airport is,” Simpson said.

When Simpson took on the role of airport director, there hadn’t been much investment or improvement of the site for about 50 years, he said.

Knowing it would be hard to find another location for a downtown airport and a large task to build the infrastructure from scratch, Simpson set his eyes on projects that would breathe new life into the facility. To date, he’s taken on around 80 projects there.

The largest airport project to date is the runway expansion that launched in March 2016. That project also includes resurfacing the existing runway and upgrading airport navigational and lighting systems.

Simpson said he was able to secure around $35 million from the Federal Aviation Administration for the project.

“It’s been more than 35 years since that runway was resurfaced. Landing here, the runway is pretty rough and has a lot of bumps in it,” he said. “When the runway extension and resurfacing is complete, we will have one of the finest general aviation runways of any airport in the country.”

Other highlights during his tenure as director include renovating the airport terminal building.

Without a single cent to fund the building’s renovations, Simpson said he worked closely with city leaders to secure money for the improvements, which totaled around $5 million and were finished in late 2011.

But Simpson isn’t one to take all the credit.

“There were a lot of community leaders, a lot of people at the city, consultant firms, architects and a host of people and organizations that really helped in the resurrection of the airport,” he said. “The city has a lot of skin in the game as far as supporting the airport.”

Spartanburg City Manager Ed Memmott said during Simpson’s time as airport director, he has selflessly served the community and set a public asset with unrealized potential on a steady course of improvement.

“The Spartanburg Downtown Memorial Airport has been transformed into one of Spartanburg’s key economic development engines under his leadership,” Memmott said. “The expanded runway and safety zones now under construction will serve larger aircraft and will significantly broaden the airport’s impact.”

Spartanburg Mayor Junie White called Simpson a tremendous leader and someone the city will miss working at the airport.

“Darwin has been a real push down at the airport and made a lot of things happen. He took charge and he’s done a terrific job,” White said. “You hate to see people like him retire; he’s served this community well.”

Looking ahead, Simpson said the biggest obstacle the airport faces is having enough space to store aircraft.

There are more than 40 people on the waiting list for a T-hangar (a hangar for smaller aircraft), and there’s a demand for community hangars to accommodate larger aircraft, he said.

“There are all these people that want to bring their aircraft to Spartanburg and base them here, but we don’t have any hangars here to put them in,” Simpson said. “If that little piece of the puzzle is completed, then the economic impact for the city and county is really going to be tremendous.”

Simpson said it’s been an interesting journey as airport director and that he’s ready to hand over the reins to a new leader.

“Management, after a while, no matter how good you are, you often get stale or locked in to certain ways, and I think it’s healthy to keep bringing in new blood,” he said. “New people and younger people have ideas and are usually pretty productive.”

As for Simpson’s retirement plans, he’ll be working on his golf game and still be a familiar face at the downtown airport when he wants to hop in his plane and go for a flight. He also said he intends to stay active in other community projects.

“Darwin Simpson is a public servant in a true sense of the word. He’s served our city well for several years,” said Spartanburg City Councilman Sterling Anderson, who is a close friend of Simpson’s and who represents the district where the airport is located. “He’s laid the foundation for the future of Spartanburg. His influence and wisdom are unmatched and unparalleled by anyone, and we’re so grateful for his service to the city.”

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Not all sailors need a sea

BULLHEAD CITY — Bullhead City resident Gary Terrell is looking for people interested in land sailing — a sport in which a lightweight vehicle with wheels and a sail is pushed by wind.

It’s similar to driving a go-cart or sailing a small boat — or combining the two.

It not only has steering to turn but also has a sail control that can be adjusted to slow down or speed up.

“It’s a lot of fun and it doesn’t take long to learn,” said Terrell, a retired Mohave High School teacher who started land surfing about three years ago. 

He used to windsurf but got tired of a hobby that left him cold and wet. Land sailing, called land or sand yachting more often in the past, turned out to be a warmer and drier alternative. 

The first land sailing day at Rotary Park is scheduled on Oct. 8, with a start time of 3 p.m. near the park area where people fly model airplanes. The start time is based on normal outdoor conditions here during the early fall. For example, the wind is better in the afternoons than the mornings, Terrell explained.

“We’re hoping people will show up with their carts,” he said. “We want to entice them to come out.”

Weather conditions should be right for land sailing within the next couple of weeks.

“It’s been too hot so far,” Terrell said. “It’s too uncomfortable in the summer to sail here, but the weather should be right for it soon.”

Parking lots without vehicles in them are just some of the places where a person can land sail. Group members go to other locations to ride during the year. Airfields and beaches also provide good riding conditions. There will likely be a foray to Smith Creek in Austin, Nev., which is several hours away. But Red Lake dry lake bed north of Kingman and Ivanpah Dry Lake Bed near Primm, Nev., are nearby spots frequented by land sailors.

Ivanpah is also where the national championships are held in March, Terrell said.

Terrell and a handful of other enthusiasts are eager to expand their group of hobbyists and racers. More locals becoming involved not only adds to the fun during meet-ups at Rotary Park. Larger numbers of people going on trips to ride elsewhere enhances camaraderie because group members get the chance to really get to know each other better during these excursions.

And longer distance routes at these out-of-town sites allow these vehicles to move at high speeds — up to three times that of the wind speed.

And the land sailing vehicles they use, Blokarts, aren’t that heavy or cumbersome to take on a road trip. They weight about 50 pounds and fit in cases that are 5 feet long, 3 feet wide and 1-1/2 feet thick and easy to reassemble.

People who weigh no more than about 200 pounds seem to be more comfortable in these vehicles than larger riders.

“But it doesn’t mean someone a little larger can’t enjoy it,”  he stressed.

Contact Terrell at 928-234-0700 for details about this land sailing group or simply to learn more about the sport.

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Enthusiasts gather for high-flying model competition

The Southern Indiana Flying Eagles Academy of Model Aeronautics Club 2868 played host to one of the model aviation world’s biggest national events this past week at Seymour.

While two hurricanes may have kept some competitors from making the trip to the west side of Freeman Field Municipal Airport, the U.S. Scale Masters Championships went off with no major glitches.

The club had hoped to have as many as 60 flyers coming from the four corners of the country to compete in the championships, said club President Steve Ort.

“We didn’t have quite as many as we had hoped for, but that just made the event more manageable,” Ort said.

Club member Justin Drake of Clearspring attributed the lower turnout to Hurricane Irma in early September and Hurricane Harvey that hit Texas and Louisiana at the end of August.

“We didn’t see any of the fliers from Florida and some of the other southern states and with the hurricanes down there, that’s no surprise,” Drake said.

The championships is the culmination of efforts by remote-controlled airplane enthusiasts from across the country to be the best. They qualify by doing well at regional competitions.

“This is the end of the season for the contestants, so this is the big one,” Ort said of the event described by some as “the Olympics of the RC plane world.”

Although there’s no prize money associated with it, there is bragging rights and prestige.

The Academy of Model Aeronautics, which promotes aeromodeling, also produces several publications and bi-monthly videos highlighting winners and the sport, Ort said.

Bob Sneberger of Seymour was the only local person to compete in the event, held at the Southern Indiana Flying Eagles field on the west side of Freeman Municipal Airport.

“I started building model planes 20 years ago, then stopped for about 19 years before deciding to pick it back up again this last year,” said Sneberger, as he stood next to his scale model Spacewalker. Sneberger built the plane that was more common among amateur fliers and builders in the past.

“I like to build things and work with my hands, and it’s nice to get out and socialize with people interested in the same hobby,” said Sneberger, who also is a crop duster flying out of Freeman Field.

Sneberger competed in several other events this past year and has flown the remote-controlled plane about 70 times. He even managed to place first in his class and third overall at the AMA National Championships in Muncie.

Sneberger said he was “glad to be back in Seymour with such an active and friendly club.”

Judging for the event was broken down into two parts.

The first was static judging to determine how accurate the model is compared to the real plane.

“There are historian model builders out there who have their plane narrowed down to a single plane and know everything about the plane, the pilot, his record, total kills or flights, then we have people who just build to represent a type of plane like a J3 Cub and there’s everything in between,” Ort said.

The planes, which have wingspans from three feet to nearly 10 feet, ranged from models of World War I, World War II, aerobatic planes, home built and even several modern recreational planes.

Contestants provide judges with documentation on the plane, everything from blueprints to pictures, drawings and history which the judges use to examine the model’s color and markings, outline and the craftsmanship that went into the model.

After that, contestants are judged on flying.

One of the contestants competed and qualified for the championships with only a year and a half of training.

Brady Ornat, 12, of Wakarusa flew his plane Saturday, and the event was only the third he has ever entered.

“He got a model plane for his birthday a little over a year ago and taught himself to fly in the backyard,” said Ornat’s father, Glen Ornat.

While many learn from a mentor, Brady Ornat learned on a smaller scale model before working his way up to a 25-pound model British Spitfire capable of reaching 100 mph.

The goal of the flying is to perform a set series of five required maneuvers and five optional maneuvers, with the intent of flying the model in the same manner that the real plane would fly.

“There’s a lot of difference,” Ort said. “A World War I plane is slower, more stable but lighter so a model has to fly the same. World War II planes were faster, more maneuverable.”

Sneberger said he feels like his real-life flying skills play into it.

“I’m more attuned to how the wind will affect my flight,” he said.

But flying skills aren’t the only trait that makes good remote-controlled fliers as many contestants have never flown a real plane before in their life.

“My favorite movie is Battle of Britain if that tells you anything,” Brady Ornat said. “There is a difference between what the smaller ones can take and what the larger models can take. The big ones you can’t turn as sharp or corner as hard.”

For some, building the plane is just as important as the flying.

“They’re just really fun to build,” Sneberger said. “The possibilities are endless.”

Sneberger said now that he has gotten back into the hobby, he has a few models in mind he would like to build.

Ort said the club was really happy to have the championships in Seymour.

“The level of the planes you see is just topnotch,” he said. “It’s just a great event and you can come out and see excellent aircraft and excellent pilots.”

The field is one of several in the running to be one of four permanent homes for the Scale Master Championships. The event will be rotated among the sites, which are located in different sections of the country.

“It would be great if we were selected,” he said. “That would mean we could see the championships again in 2020.”

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Photos: Today in History, September 17 – Meriden Record

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