blogger: Jon Brockopp
Our trip began with a gourmet breakfast of eggs benedict, asparagus and French toast, cooked by Joyce and Dave – thanks so much to them and to their friends, Laurie and Caroline, who put up all our riders. We deeply enjoyed the luxury of beds and showers. A ride like this does focus a person on the true necessities of life!
Joyce and Dave then guided us over to the brand new Poolesville solar array – a one megawatt facility with over 400 solar panels. It covers all the electricity needs of the water treatment plant, other municipal buildings, and then some. Interestingly, the town put up no money up front. Rather, the array was financed by a third party that picks up the tax credits and solar credits, basically guaranteeing that Poolesville’s electricity costs will be the same or lower than they had been.
This is the sort of creative financing arrangement that Maryland facilitates through progressive legislation, and one of the things we’ll be asking for on Capitol Hill today is similar: a production tax credit and an investment tax credit to help organizations across the country to make these investments. Yes, taxes are boring, but this is the kind of nitty gritty issue that can make a real difference and just might get passed. Our other “ask” is to simply allow the EPA to continue its regulation of carbon pollution standards for power plants.*
Our next stop was Adat Shalom Congregation in Bethesda, where Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb and Kathy Bloomfield were waiting to greet us as we rolled in. They had prepared a great spread of munchies and drinks for us and generously gave us a tour of their amazing building – it’s a real model of living lightly on the earth. Rabbi Fred was particularly proud of Adat Shalom’s pilot of a new project with IPL and National Wildlife Federation called “Sacred Grounds.” It helps congregations turn large swaths of grass into productive natural areas that can support a wide array of wildlife. (You’ll want to check out their food-gardening, too!)
From there, it was an easy ride down a rails-to-trails corridor (the Capitol Crescent) into DC. We took our time, enjoying the gorgeous day, snapping photos and enjoying an ice cream by the carousel. Finally, we made our way to Gallaudet where we met up with Cricket, Rabbi Daniel Swartz (PA IPL board president) and other friends.
Now, I’ve got to run and prepare for our Hill visits – wish us luck in this, perhaps our most important day!
Jon (and Jason, Janet, Bob, Ed, Dorothy and Molly)
*MORE INFO: the EPA is currently working on 2 major undertakings on carbon pollution. The first is historic because it will be our very first nationwide attempt to address carbon pollution specifically. That set should be finalized next month, and it introduces maximum carbon pollution levels for not-yet-built, not yet permitted power plants.
The next group is the one that will actually cut our current levels of pollution: it sets carbon pollution standards for existing power plants — the source of nearly 40% of our national emissions! The existing-source standards should be released in draft form in the next year, kicking off the series of hearings and reviews followed for any new set of safeguards. There will be opportunities for public testimony and comment, and we’ll be sure to let you know when and where. Power plant experts and scientists testify, but also people who see the effects of carbon pollution: doctors, public health officials, municipalities, community members, and faith leaders, each drawing on their own expertise (and typically limited to 3 minutes each!).