Wednesday, August 26, 2009

EPA Administrator Speaks at Blacks In Government Conference

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson spoke at the Blacks in Government 31stAnnual onference on August 25th.

The Administrator announced the creation of a new position at EPA - Associate Assistant Administrator for Outreach, Diversity and Collaboration – to:

“spearhead and coordinate diversity initiatives across the entire agency.”

The announcement reflects the Administrator’s commitment to “diversify the voices of those calling forenvironmental change – even if they don’t call themselvesenvironmentalists.”



Monday, August 24, 2009

Obama Admin Seeks to Increase Access to Contracting: Opportunities for Minority-Owned, Small Businesses

The Obama Administration reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring that minority-owned and small businesses, including women- and veteran-owned businesses, have greater access to federal government contracting opportunities. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, left, and Small Business Administrator (SBA) Karen Mills, right, announced a government-wide plan that includes federal agency procurement officials holding or participating in more than 200 events over the next 90 days to share information on government contracting opportunities, including those available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The Federal Government is seeking to meet or exceed the goal of 23 percent of prime contracts for small businesses.

According to an SBA report cited by The Wall Street Journal (8/21/09), federal agencies awarded 21.5% of their contracts worth just over $93 billion to small businesses in fiscal 2008, which ran from Oct. 1, 2007 through Sept. 30, 2008, falling short of its 23% goal set by law. The federal agencies awarded 6.8% of their contracts to small "disadvantaged" businesses exceeding the 5% target, and up from 6.6% during the previous fiscal year. Over the past 40 years, minority-owned businesses have grown from 300,000 to nearly 4 million today.

As part of the Commerce-SBA initiative, over the next 90 days:

* Federal agency procurement officials will hold or participate in more than 200 events to share information on government contracting opportunities, including those available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

* SBA and Commerce will expand their outreach to fellow contracting officials across the federal government, passing along best practices for outreach and education to every agency to ensure they have the tools they need to meet their annual contracting goals.

* Locke and Mills will promote small business contracting opportunities in remarks, events and discussions with small business groups across the country, including minority, women and veteran groups.

Beyond the next 90 days, Commerce and SBA will support, monitor and track the impact of these efforts going forward to help ensure the Administration is maximizing opportunities for small businesses.

Small business owners can find out about federal contracting opportunities by visiting Local Commerce and SBA officials are also available in local offices across the country to assist small businesses interested in contracting opportunities. Contact information for local offices can be found and

Saturday, August 22, 2009

$100M Dept of Labor Funding Energy Training Partnership

Applications are due on September 4, 2009


The purpose of the Energy Training Partnerships SGA is to: (1) Provide training and placement services in energy efficiency (EE) and renewable energy (RE) industries; and (2) Prepare workers for emerging careers in the green economy.

Eligible Applicants

Eligible applicants are private not-for-profit organizations (2 categories):

National, not-for-profit labor management organizations, such as a training fund, with joint participation of business and labor organizations on executive board or governing body
Must fund sub-grants or sub-contracts to local affiliates.

Statewide or local not-for-profit entities

May not receive a sub-grant or sub-contract from a national labor-management organization under this SGA.

All applicants must involve required partners:

Labor organizations; Employers or industry organizations; Local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs); and One-Stop Career Centers.


Up to $100M nationwide
$2M to $5M per project (smaller awards possible)
20 to 30 projects
$25M reserved for projects serving counties impacted by automotive related restructuring
- For a list of counties, visit:

Participants to be Served

Priority must be given to:

Workers impacted by national energy/environmental policy; Individuals in need of updated training related to EE and RE; Unemployed workers; Veterans and their eligible spouses, or former or present members of Armed Forces reserves.

Projects may also serve:

Workers impacted by national energy/environmental policy; Individuals in need of updated training related to EE and RE; Unemployed workers; Veterans and their eligible spouses, or former or present members of Armed Forces reserves.

Proposed Activities

All projects must incorporate training activities that:

Address skills and competencies of the targeted industries.
Support advancement on a defined career path (if one exists in the targeted industries)
Take place at times and locations that are convenient and easily accessible for the targeted populations (Distance Learning or Technology Based Learning are acceptable)
Integrate supportive services to ensure participants have the necessary support to overcome barriers to employment
(As appropriate) Include paid work experience activities which lead to permanent employment in the targeted industry
(As appropriate) Result in a pre-existing industry-recognized degree or certificate
Grant funds may not be used for wage subsidies

Monday, August 17, 2009

Types of Mercury Lamps

Mercury is used in a variety of light bulbs. Mercury is useful in lighting because it contributes to the bulbs' efficient operation and life expectancy. Fluorescent and other mercury-added bulbs are generally more energy efficient and last longer than incandescent and other equivalent forms of lighting. While the bulbs are being used, the mercury within them poses no health risk.

Fluorescent lamps operate at a very low gas pressure. They produce light when an electric current passes between two electrodes (also called cathodes) in a tube filled with low-pressure mercury vapor and inert gases, such as argon and krypton. The electric current excites the mercury vapor in the tube, generating radiant energy, primarily in the ultraviolet (UV) range. The energy causes a phosphor coating on the inside of the tube to "fluoresce," converting the UV light into visible light. Changing the composition of the phosphor powder inside fluorescent tubes changes the spectrum of light produced. Mercury is present in the lamp in both the phosphor powder and in the vapor.

Figure 1
Figure 1: Illustration of the components of a fluorescent lamp and how they work
Photo Source: Northeast Lamp Recycling, Inc.

Fluorescent lamps require a ballast, which is a device used to provide and control the voltage in the lamp, and stabilize the current in the circuit. Fluorescent lamps are more energy efficient than incandescent light bulbs of an equivalent brightness because more of the energy input is converted to usable light and less is converted to heat. They also have a longer lamp life.

Depending on the type of fluorescent lamp, they can contain a wide range of mercury, from greater than 0 up to 100 milligrams (mg). According to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), about half of the fluorescent lamps manufactured by their members and sold in the U.S. contain 5 to 10 mg of mercury; while a quarter contain 10 to 50 mg.

The typical types of fluorescent lamps include: linear (straight), U-tube (bent), and circline (circular) fluorescent lamps/tubes; bug zappers; tanning lamps; black lights; germicidal lamps; high output lamps; cold-cathode fluorescent lamps; and compact fluorescent lamps.

Compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) use the same basic technology as linear fluorescent lamps, but are folded or spiraled in order to approximate the physical volume of an incandescent bulb. Screw-based CFLs typically use "premium" phosphors for good color, come with an integral ballast, and can be installed in nearly any table lamp or lighting fixture that accepts an incandescent bulb. Pin-based CFLs do not employ integral ballasts and are designed to be used in fixtures that have a separate ballast. Both screw-based and pin-based CFLs are used in commercial buildings. Residential use of these types of bulbs is growing because of their energy efficiency and long life.

Individual CFLs generally contain less than 10 mg of mercury, with a significant portion (two-thirds) containing less than 5 mg. A small percentage of CFLs contains between 10 and 50 mg of mercury.

(Source: NEWMOA, Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Remarks to the National Asssociation of Black Journalists

Monday, August 10, 2009


Will the millions of green and clean energy jobs being promised reach the black community? And the answer to that question is, “Yes – they have and they will.”

One of my African American colleagues told me about how, every year as winter was coming, his grandmother would get up on a chair and put up plastic sheeting over the windows.

She didn’t say she was “greening her home.”
She didn’t say she was “weatherizing the house.”
She didn’t call herself an “environmentalist.”

From her perspective, she was just keeping out the cold and saving money on the oil bill. But the issues that we label “environmentalism” were an important part of her life. This disconnect is a significant challenge. But it’s also one of our greatest opportunities.

Today, the inauguration of the first African American president, and my confirmation as the first African American Administrator of this Agency, has begun the process of changing the face of environmentalism in our country.


Saturday, August 08, 2009

Remembering Congressman Mickey Leland - 20 Years Later

Reprinted courtesy Alison Leland, State Senator Rodney Ellis & Houston Chronicle
Aug. 6, 2009

"20 Years After Death, Let’s Remember Leland’s Legacy"

Twenty years ago our city, our nation and much of the world waited for word on the fate of the missing delegation led by Congressman Mickey Leland. The delegation was on the way to oversee the delivery and distribution of essential supplies to famine-stricken Ethiopia. After an international search effort, we learned that his plane had crashed, killing the congressman, congressional staff members, USAID staff and American and Ethiopian supporters.

Today, as he is missed and remembered, many of his passions and causes live on.

Although he loved Houston, Leland's efforts, vision and the size of his heart could not be confined to the boundaries of his congressional district or this nation. Leland understood that the struggle for basic human rights — food, clothing, shelter and health care — was necessarily a global one. Leland dedicated his life to giving back; championing the causes of the poor and disempowered.

As an activist, long before he ran for elected office, Leland set up free health clinics in areas of Houston where residents previously had little to no access to health care. He continued the fight in the Texas Legislature and in Washington for those less privileged, on issues such as alleviating hunger and poverty, protecting civil rights and expanding access to health care. We are still fighting all these battles today

One of the issues most associated with Leland is the often neglected issue of hunger. He pushed for the creation of, and eventually chaired, the Select Committee on Hunger in Congress. But he always linked hunger and health care as basic human rights.

He passed a bill in the Texas House to give access to generic drugs to low-income people. He fought for universal access to health care before most considered it a serious possibility. And now, as President Obama has put health care reform on the top of his legislative agenda, there is the possibility to achieve one of Leland's greatest goals: universal health coverage.

Nobody should be forced to make the difficult choice of paying bills or taking a sick child to the doctor. And yet one in four Texans — Texas has the highest rate of uninsured in the nation — must routinely make that choice. Leland desperately wanted us to understand that in a nation of abundance, people should not be turned away from medical treatment simply because they are less privileged. He fought until the end, against incredible odds, because he believed that working together for a just cause, we can all make a difference. His untimely death robbed us of a friend and champion, but his purpose and legacy endure.

As we commemorate Leland's life on the 20th anniversary of his passing, let us rededicate ourselves to the values of compassion, courage, and advocacy that he exemplified. Let us resolve that we will push for a health care system that provides quality and affordable health care to all Americans.

We can think of no better way to honor Leland's life and legacy.

Alison Leland is a professor of political science at the University of Houston and widow of former Congressman Mickey Leland. Ellis, a Democrat, represents Senate District 13 in Houston and served as Leland's chief of staff. (Houston Chronicle, 9/8/09, Photo Courtesy Houston Chronicle)

Note: AAEA President Norris McDonald organized the first Energy Braintrust for the Congressional Black Caucus on behalf of the late Congressman Mickey Leland in 1982. Photo below.

Univ Maryland Eastern Shore Goes Photovoltaic For Power

The University of Maryland Eastern Shore, right, is building 20 acres worth of photovoltaic panels, the largest solar farm in the state. The 2.1-megawatt system, to be built by Beltsville-based SunEdison on the 745-acre campus, will generate electricity for the 4,100-student campus. The solar farm, about the size of 22 football fields, should help stabilize electricity costs for the historically black university. The photovoltaic system should furnish about 10 percent to 15 percent of the university's electricity, might give the school leverage in negotiating a better deal for the rest of its power.

Getting electricity from the sun should displace more than 100 million pounds of climate-warming carbon dioxide over the next 20 years that a coal-burning power plant would otherwise emit to keep the lights on on campus. The university project will nearly double the state's solar generating capacity of about 3 megawatts. The next largest is a roughly 1 megawatt photovoltaic system installed by Constellation Energy last year on the roof of McCormick & Co.'s mill and distribution center in Hunt Valley.

The university's annual electricity expenses increased by more than $1 million a couple of years ago when rates shot up by 50 percent, so they began negotiating with SunEdison. A 2-megawatt solar farm normally would cost about $12 million to build, but the company offered to finance it so the university would not have to pay anything upfront. In return, the school signed a 20-year agreement to pay SunEdison for the electricity generated at a fixed but gradually rising price. School officials say it's a good deal for them. The initial rate is 8.75 cents per kilowatt-hour, well below the 9.9 cents the university now pays. After the first year, the charge will rise 2 percent annually, but that escalation is reasonable because electricity costs historically have been rising 5 percent a year in the state.

Such no-money-down "power purchase agreements" have helped overcome the intimidating costs of installing solar systems. The company is able to do it with the help of federal tax credits worth up to 30 percent of the construction cost. Solar projects get a boost in states like Maryland, where they're able to sell "renewable energy credits" to power companies, which are required to generate a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources like wind, solar and hydropower.

Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas boasts the largest photovoltaic system in the nation for now, a 14-megawatt array spread across 140 arid Nevada acres. A batch of much larger ones are in the works. (Balt Sun, 9/8/09)

Friday, August 07, 2009

WASA Chief Jerry Johnson Picked To Head WSSC

Jerry N. Johnson, left, former general manager of the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority (WASA), was chosen to be the general manager of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) in July. The six-member board of the WSSC, which supplies water and sewer service to 1.8 million people in Montgomery and Prince George's counties, voted unanimously to offer Johnson the job. Johnson, WASA's general manager for 12 years, resigned from that agency July 2. Johnson oversaw WASA when high levels of lead were found in the city's tap water. (Wash Post)