2013 Broke Records For New Solar Jobs In America

2013 Broke Records For New Solar Jobs In America

By Joanna M. Foster on January 27, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Over 23,600 new solar-related jobs were added in 2013.

Over 23,600 new solar-related jobs were added in 2013.

CREDIT: Shutterstock

The U.S. economy added over 23,600 solar energy related jobs last year, bringing the total number of solar jobs in the nation to 142,698. The figures were released Monday by The Solar Foundation (TSF) in its fourth annual National Solar Jobs Census.

According to TSF, U.S. solar jobs grew by almost 20 percent in 2013 — far exceeding expectations — or roughly ten times faster than the national employment rate of just 1.9 percent.

“This is the fourth year in a row that the industry has grown,” said Andrea Luecke, executive Director of the Solar Foundation in a press call. “Solar continues to consistently put people back to work. Since we first started tracking solar jobs in 2010, it has grown by an astounding 53 percent, creating nearly 50,000 new jobs. Importantly, these jobs have remained well paid and attract highly skilled workers.”

Luecke added that the vast majority of these jobs — about 90 percent — were new jobs, not existing jobs with added solar responsibilities. Two-thirds of the new jobs, in fact, were in the installation sector.

“The solar industry is one of the fastest growing industries in America,” said Luecke. “One in every 142 new jobs in the U.S. last year was created by the solar industry. Every day in 2013, an average of 56 new jobs were added.”

solarjobschart

The data for the study were collected from 15,000 employers across the country and included numbers from a wide variety of sectors including manufacturing, installation, project development, and sales. For the first time ever, the survey also assessed the solar-related jobs that were created in academia, nonprofits, and the government.

Looking forward to 2014, TSF expects that jobs in the solar industry will continue to grow, although perhaps at a reduced rate from the phenomenal growth seen last year. TSF is forecasting a 15.6 percent growth rate in 2014, or an additional 22,000 jobs. Luecke attributes the slower predicted growth rate to labor efficiencies in the installation sector.

“2013 was a very exciting year for us,” said Lyndon Rive, Chief Executive Officer at SolarCity. “We added over 2,000 jobs, bringing our total employees to just under 4,500 in the U.S. Something that is unique about solar is that there isn’t a central hub. It’s not like finance in New York, or entertainment in southern California. Solar jobs are spread across the entire country. We work in 14 states, and saw growth double in all of those states.”

Rive added that one of the most exciting developments of 2013 was seeing solar thrive despite the end of state-based incentives.

“Cost has come down so much that we are starting to work without state-based incentives.” said Rive. “Incentives in many states like California and Arizona have essentially disappeared, and yet the adoption has never been higher.”

A more detailed, state-by-state breakdown of the solar jobs market will be released next month.

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Louisiana Quietly Attempts To Regulate Abortion Clinics Out Of Existence

Louisiana Quietly Attempts To Regulate Abortion Clinics Out Of Existence

By Tara Culp-Ressler on January 28, 2014 at 12:26 pm

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CREDIT: Shutterstock

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) is currently in process of finalizing new regulations on abortion clinics. The complicated rules, which are more than 20 pages long, could end up closing all five of Louisiana’s abortion clinics — effectively banning the procedure in the state.

DHH first enacted the rules at the end of November, and has scheduled a public hearing for the beginning of February to finalize them. State officials, who likely intended to slip the new regulations under the radar, have already attempted to diffuse media attention. After media outlets began reporting on one provision in the new regulations that would require a 30-day waiting period before women could proceed with an abortion, DHH officials said they would rescind that particular rule.

Even without the proposed waiting period, however, the new regulations still represent an alarming threat to abortion access in Louisiana.

“They rescinded the 30-day requirement after getting so much press attention yesterday, but there are other things in the regulations that need to be addressed as well,” Amy Irvin, a founding board member of the New Orleans Abortion Fund, told ThinkProgress. “Essentially, it’s a complete overhaul of the regulations governing abortion services in Louisiana. They’re medically unnecessary, they’re prohibitively expensive to implement, and it’s going to be nearly impossible for clinics to care for patients.”

For instance, one of the most concerning aspects of the new rules involves a new licensing procedure for clinics. Each abortion clinic will need to apply for a “certificate of need” in order to renovate its facility, to build a new clinic, or even to transfer ownership of a clinic. The state’s health department has complete power over accepting or denying these certificates. Meanwhile, providers will lose the right to appeal potential citations to outside parties. Essentially, DHH is endowed with the ultimate authority over clinics, and could choose to close facilities at whim.

Another new requirement stipulates that an abortion can’t be performed until 24 hours after a woman’s blood work has been processed and entered into her chart. For the clinics that don’t have the capacity to do blood work, and typically send out samples to be analyzed elsewhere, that will ultimately require them to delay abortion procedures.

Ellie Schilling, a New Orleans attorney representing the state’s clinics, told the Nation that the new requirements were introduced extremely secretively. “What it amounts to is a back-door abortion ban,” Schilling noted. “The public definitely doesn’t know what’s going on.”

The abortion providers in the state are now attempting to change that. “Once ally organizations realized how crazy and ridiculous these regulations are, we started to put the word out,” Irvin explained to ThinkProgress. “Even if the regulations close just one or two clinics, it will drastically affect women in the community.”

The situation in the Gulf Coast isn’t unique. Across the country, lawmakers are specifically targeting abortion clinics for closure, enacting medically unnecessary regulations intended to force them out of business. These type of restrictions often fly under the radar because they don’t seem outrageous on the surface. They’re often disguised in terms of new building codes that force clinics to upgrade their water fountains, widen their hallways, and enlarge their parking lots. These laws are gaining political momentum — indeed, Louisiana’s new regulations appear to use boilerplate language that’s modeled after similar regulations in other states — and they have forced an increasing number of clinics to close over the past several years.

The impact that this type of legislation has on women’s health and safety is well-documented. In Texas, where state lawmakers recently enacted sweeping abortion restrictions that are forcing dozens of clinics to close, low-income women are resorting to desperate measures to end unwanted pregnancies. Abortion providers report that an increasing number of women are crossing the border to Mexico to buy illegal abortion-inducing drugs on the black market. Under the new state law, an estimated 22,000 Texans will lack access to safe and legal abortion services this year.

Irvin is already starting to see the same thing happen in Louisiana. “There’s anecdotal evidence that even here in New Orleans, people are selling pills on the street — they’re telling women it’s the abortion pill, but who’s to say if that’s really what it is,” she said. “There’s already starting to be this black market. It’s very scary… Women are saying that if the clinic is closed, they’ll resort to illegal means or home remedies.”

And if more clinics close in Louisiana, it will ultimately end up affecting women who live beyond the state’s borders. Irvin’s organization, which is one of nearly 100 local affiliates of the National Network of Abortion Funds, serves the broader Gulf Coast area. Since Louisiana is surrounded by some of the states that have enacted the harshest abortion laws in the nation — like Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas — many women in the region turn to the clinics in the New Orleans area.

“Already, we’re seeing women having to come from other parts of the country,” Irvin noted. “We already get calls from women in Mississippi, who choose to come here instead of going to the clinic in Jackson. Certainly after what happened in Texas, clinics here started receiving calls from women in Texas.”

The new rules are coming on top of a host of abortion restrictions that Louisiana has already implemented. The state currently has a 24-hour waiting period, mandatory counseling and ultrasound laws, a parental consent requirement, and a 20-week abortion ban. Clinics are already navigating significant red tape — including directing each patient to a state website entitled “Women’s Right To Know” that includes biased information about abortion alternatives and advertises crisis pregnancy centers.

Nonetheless, this may only be the beginning of several upcoming attacks on reproductive rights in Louisiana. The state’s legislative session starts in March, and Irvin is worried about the new bills that may be coming down the pipeline. “We anticipate the same laws that were proposed and passed in Texas,” she said, ” and women are already under siege.”

7 Ways Obama Can Actually Get Something Done

7 Ways Obama Can Actually Get Something Done

By Igor Volsky

president-obama

CREDIT: Shutterstock

During his fifth State of the Union address, President Obama will announce an executive action to increase the minimum wage for the half-million service employees who work in federal facilities, one of several actions the administration plans to take in the face of the least productive Congress in history. As Obama explained earlier this month, “We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help they need. I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone.” In that spirit, here are seven other steps the Obama administration can take to advance its agenda:

1. Protect LGBT Americans from discrimination.

LGBT activists are pressuring the Obama administration to issue an executive order preventing discrimination by federal contractors based on sexual orientation or gender identity. But the White House has taken to describing the order as “hypothetical” and is pressuring Congress to take legislative action and pass the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA). Reports have indicated that the order has been drafted and has has been delayed for over a year ago. During the 2008 campaign, Obama promised to sign the order, which could protect 16 million people.

2. Reduce fracking emissions on public lands.

A recent report from the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University rebuked the Obama administration’s emphasis on an “all of the above” energy strategy and urged the administration to rely on an analysis that includes “counting the full costs of various energy choices, including pollution and health care costs that have been ‘externalized’ in the past.” The energy experts specifically recommended that the Bureau of Land Management — which oversees energy development on federal lands — requires natural gas producers to “use and demonstrate the best available technologies and practices on federal lands” and work closely with states to develop a “nationwide methane reduction strategy.” Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas and traps more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

3. Ease rules on marijuana to allow for its medical use.

Scientists, medical marijuana advocates, and at least two governors have petitioned the Obama administration to change that rules that classify marijuana as more harmful than cocaine and methamphetamine or a Schedule 1 dangerous substance with no currently accepted medical value. And while the Department of Justice has committed to reducing overly harsh sentences through a number of law enforcement policies, the existing classification leaves growers and distributors vulnerable to prosecution, complicates access to a legal supply of marijuana for medical research, and prohibits pharmacies from prescribing the drug.

4. Penalize states that don’t submit records into the existing background check system.

Though Obama has already taken executive action to advance gun safety, activists are urging him to strengthen reporting guidelines and require gun dealers to report multiple sales of rifles and shotguns to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) (existing federal law already requires the reporting of individual purchases of two or more handguns in a five-day period). The Attorney General could also use his authority to withhold a portion of Justice Assistant Grant money to states that are non-compliant in providing mental health records into the gun background check system. Currently, more than a million records are still missing and 15 states have submitted fewer than 100 mental-health records.

5. Promote green purchasing in the federal government.

Obama has already issued an executive order requiring “95 percent of new government purchasing contracts to be for products that are energy-efficient or otherwise ‘environmentally preferable.’” But as Mother Jones points out, “Obama’s order doesn’t require agencies to consider the carbon footprint of a product’s manufacture and supply chain.”

6. Re-examine undue hardship in student loan bankruptcy cases.

Obama could direct the U.S. Justice Department to examine and propose a new definition for undue hardship in student loan bankruptcy cases — the legal standard that would allow students to discharge their student loans. Currently, the standard and its application vary widely and a 2009 a federal appeals court made it much harder for put-upon borrowers to get out from under the cost of their degrees. The definition could be revisited to incorporate borrowers’ gainful employment prospects and the specific characteristics of their loans.

7. Promote apprenticeships.

To expand job opportunities for Americans, Obama can increase the adoption of apprenticeships — or a job in which an individual is “paid to learn a set of skills through on-the-job training” — by American businesses, create a national apprenticeship website, collect voluntary commitments from businesses to hire high school graduates into apprenticeships, and apprenticeships in the federal workforce. Apprenticeships are not widely used by American businesses — just 358,000 Americans had active registered apprentices in 2012 or 7 percent of the number of apprenticeships in England — but they could fill America’s shortage of skilled workers to meet the nation’s future economic needs and offer workers higher wages and better employment outcomes. Research shows that apprenticeships lead to an increase “in lifetime earnings and benefits of up to $300,000 for workers.”

Obama Goes Full Feminist: ‘Time To Do Away With Workplace Policies That Belong In A ‘Mad Men’ Episode’

Obama Goes Full Feminist: ‘Time To Do Away With Workplace Policies That Belong In A ‘Mad Men’ Episode’

Obama Goes Full Feminist: ‘Time To Do Away With Workplace Policies That Belong In A ‘Mad Men’ Episode’

By Annie-Rose Strasser on January 28, 2014 at 10:27 pm

Obama Goes Full Feminist: ‘Time To Do Away With Workplace Policies That Belong In A ‘Mad Men’ Episode’

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President Obama let his feminist flag fly during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night. Citing pay disparity and paid leave policy, he argued — to loud applause — that women are still unequal in the United States, and that there are policies that can change that:

Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work. She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship – and you know what, a father does, too. It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men” episode. Let’s work together – Congress, the White House, and businesses from Wall Street to Main Street – to give every woman the opportunity she deserves. Because I believe when women succeed, America succeeds.

Watch it:

The President’s ‘Mad Men’-era assessment is apt. Women earn less than their male counterparts in the United States no matter their job, industry, or education. Nationally, women earn 77 cents on a man’s dollar — and that number is not getting better. It affects women right out of college and women at the tops of their fields. While the President kicked off his time in office way back in 2008 with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay act, additional protections against the gender wage gap — namely the Paycheck Fairness Act — have remained in a holding pattern in Congress.

Obama is right to call out leave policy, as well, as an issue that keeps women on unequal footing in the workforce. The U.S. is one of the few developed nations without any requirement for paid maternity leave. Over 40 percent of women are forced to take unpaid leave from their jobs when they get pregnant, while about 25 percent quit or are forced out. When it comes to paid sick leave, the situation is even worse. While some states and municipalities are pushing for sick leave on their own, there is absolutely no national mandate to provide paid sick leave. Paid sick laws can be a huge help for women, particularly those responsible for child care who are forced to take unpaid leave if their kid gets sick.

 

Atlanta’s Hell Commute Is Still Going On

Atlanta’s Hell Commute Is Still Going On

#PrayForDean

The stories coming out of Atlanta are crazy — people are abandoning their vehicles on the road, a baby was born in a car stuck in traffic, and 800 kids are stranded in schools as snow completely paralyzes the city.

The scene resembles the giant traffic jam depicted on “The Walking Dead” after Atlanta is taken over by zombies.

One to two inches of snow fell on Atlanta Tuesday, bringing traffic in the area to a near standstill. Atlanta’s mayor has told people to stay off the icy roads, but thousands of people are still stuck. The dangerous road conditions have already caused hundreds of accidents.

The roads are so bad that schools in the area have suspended bus service. Parents are having a hard time getting to schools to pick up their kids, so hundreds of students might have to stay overnight.

Here are some photos of the insane gridlock:

 

Richard Sherman’s Dad Still Wakes Up At 3:45 AM To Drive A Trash Truck, Refuses To Live Off His Son

Richard Sherman’s Dad Still Wakes Up At 3:45 AM To Drive A Trash Truck, Refuses To Live Off His Son Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/richard-shermans-dad-drive-trash-truck-2014-1#ixzz2rht1qAsK

While Richard Sherman grew up in Compton, he did have the advantage of two hardworking parents.

Sam Farmer of the LA Times has a great story about Kevin Sherman, Richard’s dad, and his refusal to give up his job as a sanitation worker now that Richard hit it big.

richard sherman dad

Kevin has been driving a trash truck for 26 years. He wakes up at 3:45 a.m., and works holidays because of the overtime.

“It’s a job that I don’t too much like, but I’ve done it all my life,” he told NFL Films in a piece earlier this season. “The only goal for my son was education, so that he got more education than I got.”

He told Farmer that he’s too close to retirement to let his son pay for everything:

“People say, ‘Let your son take care of you.’ Yeah, but I’ve got a few years left until I retire. Why would I mess up my own retirement? Why should my son have to foot everything? I have a medical plan that will cover me. Why should my son have to pay my medical bills? It doesn’t make sense to me.”

Richard told NFL Films that his dad left his house early on Christmas in 2012 so that he could go back to L.A. and work the next day.

“That kind of hard work, that kind of blue collar mentality is what got me where I am,” he said.

To make thing even tougher, Kevin Sherman lost his right eye in a go-kart explosion at age 14:

richard sherman dad

Sherman’s mom, Beverley, works with disabled inner-city children.

Here they are at his Stanford graduation:

richard sherman stanford

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Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/richard-shermans-dad-drive-trash-truck-2014-1#ixzz2rht5sBu

CEO OF BITCOIN EXCHANGE ARRESTED

CEO OF BITCOIN EXCHANGE ARRESTED

The CEO of BitInstant, a Bitcoin exchange, has been arrested at JFK airport and charged with money laundering.

Charlie Shrem, along with a co-conspirator, is accused of selling over $1 million in bitcoins to Silk Road users, who would then use them to buy drugs and other illicit items.

According to the criminal complaint, Shrem himself bought drugs on Silk Road.

“Hiding behind their computers, both defendants are charged with knowingly contributing to and facilitating anonymous drug sales, earning substantial profits along the way,” DEA agent James Hunt said in a release. 

Shrem is a vice chairman at the Bitcoin Foundation. He is listed as a speaker at a Bitcoin conference in Miami that ended Sunday.

Shrem is believed to own a substantial amount of bitcoins.

BitInstant, which is backed by the Winklevoss twins, is currently offline. It was recently the subject of a class-action suit alleging misrepresentation of its services.

The arrest comes on the eve of a two-day state hearing about the future of Bitcoin in New York.

Here’s the full release from the Justice Department. An embed of the full criminal complaint follows.

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