The landmark arch in St. Louis Missouri.
Missouri recently ranked near the bottom for
energy efficiency in a report issued from the
American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy
(Photo: Jason Sibert / NLN)

ST. LOUIS — October 15, 2012. Why does the state of Missouri rank so low on energy efficiency?

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy’s sixth annual energy efficiency report card recently ranked Missouri 43rd among states in energy efficiency. The report is compiled on the basis of the efficiency of utility programs, energy codes, transportation policies, the amount of energy produced by co-generation, state government initiative and appliance and equipment standards, said ACEEE Utilities Program Director Dan York.

Sierra Club Missouri Chapter President John Hickey said building codes and energy efficiency programs make a difference on the stateâ??s rankings on energy efficiency. Missouri has no state wide building codes, like the neighboring state of Illinois and most states in the union. In addition, most states update codes every three years, Hickey said. Missouri allows individual cities to set their own codes and some donâ??t update with any regular frequency.

Also, most states have energy efficiency programs that encourage thrift by requiring increases in efficiency on a yearly basis and Missouri fails to follow the same practices, Hickey said. Hickey also said coal plays an influence on the energy efficiency debate, as St. Louis area residents breath coal induced pollution from local plants while much of the coal burned in Missouri is mined out of state in Wyoming.

“We’re importing pollution and exporting jobs,” Hickey said. “We also pay the price in increased health costs from the coal pollution.”

Also, 25 percent of the energy produced by Ameren Missouri, a utility company which supplies the St. Louis area, is exported to areas outside of Ameren’s service area, said Hickey. The Missouri Sierra Club head said increases in energy efficiency could decrease coal pollution by allowing for some coal plants to be closed. In addition, energy efficiency would increase the health of local economy, as energy efficiency jobs are local jobs because local labor will be used to do such things as upgrade lights and replace old lights with new ones.

Ameren Missouri has committed to a three-year energy efficiency program which is scheduled to start in January of 2013, said Hickey. Ameren will invest 147 million in the new program, according to an Ameren press release. The press release also said the investment in efficiency represents the biggest in the state’s history. Ameren Communications Executive Lisa Manzo said all of the details of the program have not been released from to the public yet but that the program will have 11 different components aimed at both businesses and residential areas. She also said utility customers will be given an incentive to conserve and rebates will be available. Customers interested in the program can look for updates at

Hickey said that Ameren has made commitments to efficiency before, but the programs haven’t been continuous. He hopes the new program will lead to a permanent investment in energy efficiency.


NEW YORK — October 9, 2012. A new film, featuring some NLN footage, and documenting voting rights in the U.S. — or lack thereof — will will be shown tomorrow at NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice.

Led by the NAACP, protesters took to the streets on December 10, 2011 to “Stand For Freedom.” This event was documented by NLN and found its way into Mridu Chandra’s new film, Electoral Dysfunction. The film will be shown tomorrow at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU’s School of Law. A panel discussion will follow the screening. Chandra is an educator and filmmaker whose documentaries have aired at the Sundance Film Festival, SXSW and PBS. For more information on Electoral Dysfunction visit the Brennan Center website.


Protesters “Standing For Freedom” in 2011
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

(Photo: Time Life Pictures / Getty Images [ ] )

Environmental advocate, presidential candidate and former Washington University professor Barry Commoner passed away on September 30 in New York City.

Commoner was 95 and lived in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood. A product of New York City, he was raised in Brooklyn and was trained as a biologist, earning a bachelor’s degree from Columbia and master’s and doctoral degrees from Harvard.

After his service as a Navy officer in World War II, Commoner taught at Washington University from 1947 to 1981. In 1966 he founded the Biology of Natural Systems at WU and moved the institution to New York’s Queens College in 1981. He served as its head until 2000.

Commoner believed science should be used to empower the community. His work on the effects of radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons testing from the United States and Soviet Union contributed to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963. In the same year as that landmark treaty he and Margaret Mead founded the Scientists Institute for Public Information, which served as a tool the scientific community used to educate the public. Commoner penned books like “Science and Survival” (1966), “The Closing Circle: Man, Nature and Technology” (1971), and “The Politics of Energy” (1979) that are considered classics of the environmental movement.

Commoner’s biographer Michael Egan said that Barry was less of an environmentalist than “someone who was committed to improving society as a whole.”

St. Louis resident Dr. Danny Kohl studied under Commoner at WU as a graduate student and also served as an assistant professor in the botany department.

“I think his greatest legacy is that change doesn’t occur through whispering in the ears of the powerful,” Kohl said. “He wanted to get scientific information out to the public and let citizen’s groups organize for change. He felt social change came from social movements.”

Also among Commoner’s accomplishments are formulating four laws of ecology now covered in many textbooks: everything is related to everything else, everything must go somewhere, nature knows best, and there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Commoner blamed environmental degradation on capitalist economics in industry, agriculture, energy and transportation. He felt capitalist systems promoted profits and technological progress with no concern for environmental impact.

The scientist/activist took a journey into electoral politics in 1980 when he ran for the presidency on the Citizens Party ticket against Republican Ronald Reagan, Democrat Jimmy Carter and Independent John Anderson. The Citizens party stressed environmental issues. American Indian Civil Rights Activist LaDonna Harris was Commoner’s running mate. Harris remembers the rigors of running on a third party ticket. When she and Commoner travelled around the country campaigning in the 1980 election they often stayed in the homes of Citizens Party members. She said the party was started by citizens who were tired of the two-party monopoly in American politics.

“He [ Commoner ] taught me so much about the environment,” Harris said. “Like the things we’re doing to the environment that we don’t even realize. Barry had a real global perspective.”

(Photo: Sally Jones / PASI)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — October 3, 2012. On the eve of the Romney-Obama debate anti-war protesters gathered outside the offices of Congressman Michael Grimm.

Anticipating the 11th anniversary of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, Peace Action Staten Island (PASI) members met Wednesday night to protest the continued presence there of 68,000 U.S. military troops – despite the recent withdrawal of the 33,000 “surge” troops sent in 2010. The gathering was peaceful but spirited, and passersby received hand-out information and invitations to more observances this weekend. Response from the public was primarily supportive, with motorists signaling support .


(Photo: Sally Jones / PASI)

Continued violence and loss of life – 51 troops this year alone from so-called “green on blue” attacks, and countless Afghan civilians including women and children – must end. Afghanistan, since the killing of Osama bin Laden, has been largely ignored in campaign speeches but the huge expenditure of funds for war continues.


(Photo: Sally Jones / PASI)