That's the conclusion of energy scientist Jack L. Kerfoot in this, the third in a series of podcasts exploring climate change progress in five states in the southwest.
Episode one, focusing on four Northeastern states, and the second episode, analyzing five Midwestern states, are now streaming on YouTube and major podcast channels. This episode moves to Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.
Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert and author of the book Fueling America an Insider's Journey. He's the principal of JL Kerfoot Energy Services and blogs on his website, Our Energy Conundrum at JackKerfoot.com.
Q. How do we differentiate between states that are making real progress at reducing greenhouse gas emissions versus states that are “paper tigers” at addressing climate change?
Kerfoot:We should look at these factors:1. Renewable Energy Potential.2. Environmental Standards.3. Eliminating Barriers.4. Eliminating Coal.5. Pollution.6. Economics.7. Climate Change.8. Resilient Power Grid.
State Analysis:ARKANSAS – Natural StateArkansas has a diverse range of renewable energy resources including hydropower, solar, biomass, and wind. However, only a small portion of Arkansas’ renewable energy resources have been developed by state utilities. Verdict – Paper Tiger
COLORADO – Centennial StateColorado has significant wind energy resources on the eastern plains and mountain crests of the state. Colorado also has substantial solar, hydropower, and biomass renewable energy resources. However, only a small portion of Colorado’s vast renewable energy resources have been developed by state utilities. Verdict – Some progress, more action needed.
NEW MEXICO – Land Of EnchantmentIn 2002, New Mexico enacted a Renewables Portfolio Standard, mandating all utilities sell 40% of their electricity from renewables by 2025 and 80% by 2040. legislators overwhelmingly approved the Energy Transition Act, requiring utilities to sell 100% of their electricity from zero-carbon sources (renewables or nuclear) by 2045.Verdict – Progress
OKLAHOMA – Sooner StateIn 2010, Oklahoma enacted a Renewable Energy Goal for all utilities to sell 15% of the electricity from renewable sources by 2015. In 2010, Oklahoma used coal to generate 48% of the state’s electricity. In April 2023, only 2% of Oklahoma’s electricity was generated from coal. In 2021, 3,521 people were employed in renewable energy power plants, compared to 1,331 in the lone coal mine and coal-fueled power plants. Verdict – Progress
SOUTH DAKOTA – Mount Rushmore StateIn 2008, South Dakota asked investor-owned, municipal, and cooperative utilities to sell 10% of their electricity from renewable energy by 2015.In 2010, South Dakota used coal-fueled power plants to generate 35% of the state’s electricity, but that dropped to 5% in April 2023. In 2021, 2,536 people were employed in renewable energy power plants, compared to 168 in natural gas power plants, and 88 in the state's lone coal power plant. Verdict – Progress
Q. What can we learn from the energy policies of these five states in the Southwest?
Two states, Colorado and New Mexico have mandated renewable energy standards. Two states, Oklahoma and South Dakota only had nonbinding, renewable energy goals or objectives. Arkansas, has neither a renewable energy standard nor a goal. The states that have made the most progress at reducing greenhouse gas emissions are South Dakota, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.
Question:How would you summarize the progress of Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and South Dakota at reducing GHG emissions and addressing climate change?
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ColorClimate Change Progress: The Southwest
[00:00:00] Bob Gatty: Hey guys, this is the third of several podcasts with scientist and energy expert Jack Kerfoot exploring which states are making real and timely progress at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the factors that can contribute to their success. Episode one, focusing on four northeastern states, and the second episode, which analyzes five Midwestern states. They're now streaming on YouTube and major podcast channels. Today's episode moves to the southwest, where we'll check five states to see how they're doing, so stay with us.
[00:00:41] The type and power potential of renewable energy, resources, wind, solar, hydropower, et cetera, vary significantly across our nation.
[00:00:52] States in the Great Plains have very strong and consistent winds, while states in the Southwest have an abundance of sunny days. Environmental philosophies and policies also vary from state to state. Identifying which states are making real and timely progress at reducing greenhouse gas emissions is best done by comparing states in the same region of the country, which have similar renewable resource potential.
[00:01:23] Today we'll contrast and compare five different states in the southwest. Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. Each of these states have developed environmental policies that have produced very different results at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Our guest expert, Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert and author of the book Fueling America, an Insider's Journey.
[00:01:54] He began his career in the energy industry in 1976 when America was paralyzed by an oil embargo. He's the principal of JL Kerfoot Energy Services and blogs on his website, Our Energy firstname.lastname@example.org. Jack's a strong advocate for renewable energy as the solution for combating climate change.
[00:02:20] I. Jack, welcome back to the Lean to the Left Podcast.
[00:02:23] Jack Kerfoot: Bob, it's always a pleasure to be on your program.
[00:02:26] Bob Gatty: Thank you my friend. How do we differentiate between states that are making real progress at reducing greenhouse gas emissions against states that are paper tigers at addressing climate change?
[00:02:39] Jack Kerfoot: In my opinion, Bob, I think we have to look at, or what I specifically do is look at five factors in making our assessment. First is, what is the renewable energy potential for the state or for the region? As you mentioned. The Great Plains or the Southwest have an abundance of strong and consistent winds, whereas regions like the Southeast have an abundance of sunny days.
[00:03:05] So the amount of renewable energy and the renewable energy resource potential is a very significant factor. The second is number two, what is the environmental standards? What is the state doing to support the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions? Has the state established a renewable energy standard for the electric utilities, and if so, are the utilities meeting these standards?
[00:03:33] Unfortunately, when I look at the states across the US, I occasionally find states that have enacted standards and utilities have failed to meet these standards and are still generating a disproportionate high level of greenhouse gas emissions, which is primarily CO2. The third item is eliminating barriers, and this perhaps is far more significant than many people realize.
[00:03:59] What is the state doing to remove any barriers for the development of new renewable energy projects? Some states have restrictive land, excess laws and or bureaucratic permitting processes. As a result of that, some of these states, it may take well over 10 years just to get the state approvals to develop and build a renewable energy project, whether it's wind or solar.
[00:04:27] This is above and beyond the federal regulations that are already in place. Usually the federal takes 18 to 24 months, but the states can take as little as one year or two years, and as long as I have seen in some cases up to 20 years. The fourth item is eliminating coal, and I think it's important to recognize why that is so important.
[00:04:51] First of all, we have to realize that coal generates 40 to 45% more greenhouse gas emissions than natural gas, which is also a fossil fuel. So what we wanna do is what is the state doing to really reduce the greatest generator of greenhouse gas or c o two emissions? The next one is pollution. Coal ash, which is the product when you burn coal, has with it byproducts that include arsenic, mercury, and also lead, which are highly toxic.
[00:05:25] In 2019, coal ash was documented to have leaked into the groundwater. In 241 coal-fired power plants across the United States. Some were still operating, some have been closed down, and what that means is not only is that high toxicity in the groundwater, very hazardous to people that are drinking the water, especially the elderly and babies, but also it leeches into or impacts the produce that the farmers are growing and also the animals that may be eating from the well water or drinking from the well water as well.
[00:06:03] And finally, economics. If you aren't concerned about the environment, I always like to ask, do you like to save money? The reason I ask that is the cost to generate electricity is two to three times more expensive than power generated from wind and solar. So, when you have states that are turning their nose up on move to renewable energy, what they're really saying is they don't care about the environment.
[00:06:30] They don't care about the climate, and they don't care about the taxpayers pocketbook. So usually we can get someone to agree with one, if not all of those factors being important. The last item that I look at is what is the state doing to make the power grid, the regional power grid resilient. We have to realize that when we talk about climate change, we sometimes think about melting ice caps or the water temperatures getting warmer.
[00:06:59] But actually what, when we really talk about climate change, the greatest threat quite candidly is the dramatic increase in severe weather. Floods, droughts, heat waves, blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes . On a global study that UN has done and US studies have done as well for the US as well. What they looked at is the number of severe weather between 1980 and 2000, and then 2001 to 2021, and what they saw was a 80% increase in the frequency of this severe weather.
[00:07:36] We're also seeing too, is dramatic increases in the intensity. The temperatures are breaking new highs, and we're seeing low temperatures that originally would've been called a hundred year storm, are now at occurring at every five or 10 year periods of time, and we have this type of severe climate change.
[00:07:57] What we're talking about is a dramatic increase of fatalities to humanity. From our standpoint, we should all be focused on looking for ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change. So those are the factors that I look at when I try and assess is a state making real progress or are they a paper tiger?
[00:08:19] Bob Gatty: Okay, Jack. That's great. Let's move to the assessments of Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. To determine which of these states are making real progress and addressing climate change.
[00:08:34] Jack Kerfoot: Alright let's, if we start with Arkansas going alphabetically the nickname for the state of Arkansas is the natural state, which I think you'll find ironic when we look at how they're doing.
[00:08:47] Arkansas has a diverse range of renewable energy resources, including hydropower, solar, biomass, and wind. However, only a small portion of these resources have been developed by the utilities. Two. Arkansas is one of only 13 states with no, with neither a renewable energy standard, or even a renewable energy goal.
[00:09:11] So in other words, utilities have no obligation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or from an economic standpoint to save taxpayers voters money. In 2010, Arkansas used coal to generate 50% of their electricity, and this year they're running about 15% of their power from coal.
However, the utilities, the only thing they did was really just move from coal to natural gas because of economics, because natural gas at the time was very inexpensive. Right now in many states, you'll hear advocates for coal or natural gas generation. They'll say, oh, it's we're saving jobs. The reality is, in a state like Arkansas, which used renewables to generate only 12% of their electricity in 2021, almost 1500 people were employed in renewable energy power plants, wind and solar, or hydro, 920 in nuclear power plants, 890 that were in natural gas plants and only 300 coal fire power plants.
So what we actually see is when we move from coal and natural gas, not only is it cheaper, but actually creates more jobs. So, when we look at what Arkansas has achieved, quite candidly, they have undeveloped, they have significantly not developed the renewable energy resources. They have shown minimal to no interest in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
[00:10:48] So when we look at it from this standpoint, they've shown no concern to their customers or to their voters, concerns about pollution, concerns about the environment, or concerns about the customers pocketbook and saving them money. So it may be the natural state, but unfortunately the state is a very unnatural or paper tiger kind of result.
[00:11:12] Bob Gatty: Alright so that was that was Arkansas. So what about Colorado?
[00:11:18] Jack Kerfoot: Colorado, which is the centennial state, I always find it interesting to look at sort the state names. It does have significant wind resources, particularly on the eastern plains and the mountain crest of the state. It also has substantial solar, hydropower and biomass.
[00:11:37] However, only a small portion of Colorado's wind resources have actually been developed by the state utilities. In 2004, Colorado did enact renewable energy standard requiring investor-owned utilities to sell 30% of their electricity from renewable resources by 2030. So they put a standard there.
[00:11:59] Unfortunately, what we, what I've seen is that when a standard is put in place, sometimes the utility or utilities will look at as that's something we have to achieve in seven, eight years down the road. And so we're going to slowly move toward this goal. And that's when I see time and time again in some of the states with the renewable energy standards Now, In 2021, Colorado did initiate a greenhouse gas pollution reduction roadmap.
[00:12:29] Now, there they wanna reduce emissions by 26% by 2005 and also reduce 50% by 2030. Now that's a far more significant greenhouse gas reduction step forward than the initial redu the initial Energy Standard Act. Now they have moved from 72% of the state's electricity from coal in 2010 to 28%, or about 30% in this year.
[00:12:59] So they have cut the consumption of coal in Colorado by more than 50%. Colorado has a history of coal mining. They began mining in 1859 and in 2021 Colorado had eight operating coal mines. But when we talk about jobs, if we look at the number of jobs in the coal industry, which includes the coal mines in Colorado, and also the coal fuel power plants in Colorado, that generated about 3,500 jobs.
[00:13:30] In 2021, the same year there were over almost 17,000 people employed in wind and solar renewable energy industry. So again, we're seeing not only is it cheaper, it saves the taxpayer and the consumer money, but it also creates jobs. So from that standpoint, in 2023, we look at how Colorado is doing. 55% of their power was from fossil fuels, which is natural gas and coal, and 45% from renewables.
[00:14:01] Now you can stand back and say they've had very positive states of reducing coal. They have deve started to develop their renewable energy. They've also put in place a renewable energy standard and a plan to try and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. So you would say progress has been made.
[00:14:20] But when you compare them to three other states, we're going to address next, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and South Dakota, you would have to say it made progress, but much more action is required, especially for a state with so much renewable energy resource potential, and also sparsely populated like Colorado.
[00:14:41] Bob Gatty: That's enchanting. So let's go to the Land of Enchantment. New Mexico.
[00:14:46] Jack Kerfoot: New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment. And from my standpoint, it is an enchanting story. New Mexico has been an, has had a history over a hundred years of coal mining and oil and gas exploration. In fact, many of the indigenous native populations were actually mining coal as far back as the 16 hundreds because they saw it as a fuel source.
[00:15:10] So this is a state that has a long history of well over a hundred years of fossil fuel generation and in their economy. Now New Mexico, like Colorado has strong winds and they're very consistent across the entire state. They also have solar and geothermal resource potential. In 2023, Colorado enacted a renewable portfolio standard, and they want the utility to sell at least 40% of their electricity from renewables by 2025 and 80% by 2040.
[00:15:44] So when we talk about New Mexico compared to Colorado, we can see the standards that New Mexico has put in place is far more onerous or stringent on the utilities than Colorado. In 2010, New Mexico used coal to generate 74% of their electricity, and this year only 2% of their electricity was from coal.
[00:16:06] That is a dramatic cut in the use of coal. More importantly, in 2023, 65% of their electricity was generated from renewables, wind and solar, compared to 35% from fossil fuels, which is primarily natural gas in the small amount of coal. So we've gone from a state that was predominantly 15, 16, 17 years ago, a fossil fuel economy that was exporting fossil fuels and also powering their grid, to a state now that's predominantly green in their electricity generating. More importantly, what they're actually doing is expanding their grid to develop major high power transmission lines so they can bring in more renewable energy, and also to start developing this for export of green energy power to adjoining states, potentially as far west as California. So when we look at the history of New Mexico and recognize that they have transitioned, or are transitioning, from fossil fuel economy to a green energy economy, the renewable energy standard, where they are at 65% of their power is from renewable energy. This is a state that's made remarkable progress, and I would actually hold it up as an example to states like Kentucky and West Virginia that think that you have to maintain that fossil fuel economy regardless for jobs, because the jobs are in renewables.
[00:17:34] They're not in coal or natural gas or oil because when the field, the coal mine is mined out, no longer economic, it's closed. As long as the wind is blowing and the sun is shining, you've got power generation and you've got jobs for people, for life.
[00:17:51] Bob Gatty: Jack, all of this research that you've been doing time and again shows that it's renewables where the jobs are not coal any longer.
[00:18:00] Jack Kerfoot: Absolutely. And we have to realize that no fossil fuel is there's a finite amount of fossil fuel. So that's what we're seeing around the world is when those coal mines close down, because they're no longer economic, that's the end of the jobs. And you can look at that in West Virginia and in Kentucky.
[00:18:19] Many years ago, I worked on a geophysical crew doing a survey in West Virginia. And when that, when the coal mine closed down the economy, there was no economy and it was devastated the town and the community completely. So coal has had a role in the history of establishing the industrial revolution, but now it's time to move on to the next opportunity that we can generate an even better economy with green energy.
[00:18:49] Bob Gatty: Now Jack, both of us are baseball fans.
[00:18:53] Jack Kerfoot: Yes, we are.
[00:18:54] Bob Gatty: All right. And I know you're a Yankee fan and you know I'm a Baltimore Orioles fan.
[00:18:59] Jack Kerfoot: That's right.
[00:19:00] Bob Gatty: All right. But I will have to admit that one of Oklahoma's favorite sons, Mickey Mantle, was one of the greatest baseball players ever to play the game.
[00:19:11] I know that he's a kind of a hero of yours. So tell me, how are things going in Oklahoma, Mickey Mantle state?
[00:19:21] Jack Kerfoot: The nickname for Oklahoma is the Sooner State. And that actually goes back to the days when it was Indian territory and they opened up the Indian territory for land runs.
[00:19:32] And so the military would come out, the calvary would come up, they'd line people out, and they would fire a cannon. Then people would go off on their horse or in their covered wagon and stake out land and then they'd go and file it. But people that crossed the line ahead of the start were called Sooners.
[00:19:50] So you could actually say the Sooner state is really saying we're a bunch of crooks. But that. That's another story for another day. But yes.
[00:19:58] Bob Gatty: I was wondering I've always wondered why were they the Sooners and not the Laters,
[00:20:03] Jack Kerfoot: but I yeah. Yeah. I wouldn't have picked that name myself. But then there's a lot of history with the state both good and bad, like anything, but is the Sooners state.
[00:20:12] Bob Gatty: So how are things going in Oklahoma pal?
[00:20:15] Jack Kerfoot: You have to realize that Oklahoma has strong, consistent winds across the entire state. You hear the City of Chicago call the windy city. I used to laugh about that because the average wind speed in Chicago is around 14 miles an hour. The average wind speeds for Oklahoma City or. Norman, Oklahoma, where the University of Oklahoma is almost 15 miles an hour. So whether you're in the western part, in the panhandle or the northeastern part, or the central part of the state, you have wind. It is strong and it is consistent, right? It also has significant solar, also hydropower and some biomass potential as well.
[00:20:53] So in 2010, they enacted a renewable energy goal to sell 15%, which is not mandatory whatsoever and no incentive all for the utilities. However, what Oklahoma has is some very innovative utilities that understand the energy market and what they saw was an opportunity to generate an industry from wind and ultimate then moving into solar.
[00:21:20] So what we actually see is, Coal mining was also there. Oil and gas was there as the 1880s and 1890s before statehood wells were being drilled for gas and oil. But oil primarily is, like I said, the 1880s and 1890s. But the first com commercial coal mine actually began in 1873. In 2021, Oklahoma had only one operating coal mine and employed only one person.
[00:21:50] So really what it says, there's a small volume of coal that the operator of that mine thinks is still economic, but one person is obviously not a full-time job, but when we look at the coal mining and we look at renewables in Oklahoma, what we find is renewable energy right now employs more than 3,500 people compared to 1,300 people for the loan coal mine.
[00:22:15] And the coal powered power plants in Oklahoma. So, Oklahoma is clearly making a move from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Now, in April of this year, Oklahoma generated 58% of their electricity from renewables, primarily wind, and 42% from fossil fuels, primarily natural gas. They only generate 2% of their electricity, like New Mexico from coal.
[00:22:40] So coal has effectively become phased out in Oklahoma and we're moving from natural gas to renewable energy. And I think it's impressive that both New Mexico and Oklahoma are both fossil fuel economies now, are now making this dramatic move. And transforming their economy. Now, admittedly it's just a goal. It's not onerous at all or pushing the utilities, but when you realize that the amount of renewable energy from the state is 58% when the goal is 15%, that tells you that the people in the state of Oklahoma see the economic advantages of wind. What they see it is from the farmers.
[00:23:22] What they see is an opportunity. They get a royalty. They also see taxes that go to the state governments and to the schools, and they also see very cheap, inexpensive electricity. Their cost of electricity is around 10 cents per kilowatt hour, whereas the average cost of electricity across the US right now is around 16 cents per kilowatt hour.
[00:23:45] Here's a state that sees an economic opportunity. They understand energy, and so they're moving from oil and gas and coal to renewable energy. So to me, that's progress.
[00:23:55] Bob Gatty: Okay. Now we're gonna move to South Dakota, which is the Mount Rushmore state.
[00:24:02] Jack Kerfoot: That's correct.
[00:24:03] Bob Gatty: And Donald Trump apparently thinks he should be on Mount Rushmore.
[00:24:09] I've seen photos where he was photoshopped in there and. It cracked me up anyway. I don't know why I said that. 'cause it has nothing to do with what we're talking about, but
[00:24:21] Jack Kerfoot: let's talk we're talking about wind, so I think perhaps that's the way we can look at
[00:24:26] Bob Gatty: wind. All right, go ahead.
[00:24:28] Let's hear what you have to say about South Dakota.
[00:24:30] Jack Kerfoot: In 2008, South Dakota enacted a renewable energy. Recycle and conservation energy objective, which is like a goal, and it was to basically say we want the utilities to sell, encourage the utilities to sell 10% of its electricity from renewable energy.
[00:24:50] But what happened in South Dakota is a lot like Oklahoma, the utilities in that region saw the resource of wind. They went about aggressively developing it. Now also from a coal standpoint, in 2010, 35% of the power in South Dakota was from coal. But in 2023, only 5%. So if anything, what we find is the agricultural community, ranches, the farms have basically seen a significant concern about coal mining and particularly generating power from coal, and again, the production of coal ash toxicity into the groundwater and the impact on the livestock and the crops. Now we have to realize that in April of this year, 86% of South Dakota's electricity was from renewable energy.
[00:25:48] Only 14% from fossil fuel, which was primarily natural gas. So what you've seen is a state see this opportunity, the agricultural community and the farmers and the landowners have welcomed the development of the wind and also solar parks as well. And they've seen the benefit not only from economic benefit for royalties, but also reduction of the use of coal. But now they also are seeing the real advantages of what's called agrivoltaic. What that means is in some areas with farmlands, they oppose the development of solar parks because they say it's taking up valuable farmland. But on agrivoltaic means that when they put the solar panels out there, they also are planting specific types of plants that were encouraged pollinators, bees and butterflies. Now, pollinators have been on a steady decline and the people at the Department of Agriculture has been concerned about that as they are about the loss of pollinators in Europe and other places around the world, because without those, it see says that your production from the crops actually diminishes over time.
[00:26:59] So as they've seen in the US and Europe, they've seen that agrivoltaic has increased the productivity of the actual lands around there. So they are supportive of the solar projects, they're support of wind, and I expect that South Dakota will be at or very near a hundred percent renewable energy for all their power generation by 2030.
[00:27:22] So to me that's real progress.
[00:27:25] Bob Gatty: That's for sure. Now, what can we learn Jack from the energy policies of these five states in the southwest?
[00:27:33] Jack Kerfoot: You see these five states I find are very interesting in the fact that we had two states, Colorado and New Mexico, that have mandated renewable energy standards.
[00:27:43] Two states, Oklahoma and South Dakota only had renewable energy goals. And Arkansas had nothing. They had neither a goal nor even an objective. So what we can say is the states have made the most progress, which would be South Dakota, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Really only one of those had a standard. The other two had goals..
[00:28:05] So the one with the standard is making progress, but the reality is the driving force in those three states are the utilities. There's a lot of competition in those areas to generate and take advantage of this renewable energy resource and turn it into a booming economy selling green energy. You have to realize that a state, let's say like California imports over 25% of its power out of state.
[00:28:31] Some from Mexico, from Oregon, from Washington, some from Montana, and now the other states are looking at an opportunity to sell this green energy, power to California and other states, lower cost, and also generate a booming economy for their state as well. Now, When we look at Oklahoma and South Dakota, what we see is just renewable energy objectives.
[00:28:56] But we see in utilities and also the agricultural community and the landowners have welcomed the economic opportunities from renewable energy. So some people think that you need a renewable energy standard to make real progress. The reality is that will work in some cases. But when you've got entrepreneurial, energetic utilities and competition that can sometimes accelerate the move faster than even a standard.
[00:29:25] Bob Gatty: Jack, how would you summarize the progress in these states at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and addressing climate change? How are they doing?
[00:29:33] Jack Kerfoot: Well, and let's start with Arkansas and what I have to say is neither Arkansas legislators nor the utilities have shown any interest at saving taxpayers money, reducing pollution, or addressing climate change. So if I'm in Arkansas and I'm voting with the election, I'm gonna be paying close attention to who wants to see who can save me money, who can reduce pollution, and who can address climate change.
[00:30:02] And if they're not interested, then I'm gonna look for someone else. When we look at Colorado, I can say that they have made real progress in moving from to renewables, but compared to New Mexico, South Dakota and Oklahoma, they haven't developed the resources in their state to the degree that those three states have.
[00:30:24] So from my standpoint, they've made progress, but they can certainly accelerate that progress given the resource potential for the state. Now for New Mexico and Oklahoma, I think that's a special progress label for one reason that they're moving from fossil fuel economy to a renewal energy economy at a very rapid pace.
[00:30:47] And so from that standpoint, I think sometimes states or regions can be held up by resistance to change. They've welcomed the change and they're making real progress for the climate, the environment, and for the people there saving their money. In the case of South Dakota, all I can say is well done. I think there'll be a hundred percent or very close to it within the next six or seven years of green energy, and they've done a remarkable job.
[00:31:12] And other states should look to South Dakota as an example of what to do.
[00:31:18] Bob Gatty: That's incredible. So what are your final thoughts about all of this, Jack?
[00:31:24] Jack Kerfoot: From my standpoint, it is easy to hear a lot of noise and say we don't like this. We don't like this. I hear some people say, I like solar, but I don't like wind.
[00:31:33] Or I like wind and I don't like solar. I don't like this. I don't like that. My comment would be the clock is ticking to address climate change. So it's important that we look at how do we make the most significant impact at reducing the total greenhouse gas emission so we don't continue to see this dramatic increase in severe weather and the loss of life that we're seeing from the severe weather.
[00:31:58] Whether it's forest fires, whether it's blizzards, whether it's heat domes. We need to take action and we need to take action now. And my last comment would be, I hope your followers will tune in and when we take a look at the southeastern US with some other interesting examples of five different states.
[00:32:18] Bob Gatty: Okay, great. Jack, I just wanted to ask you this. We are seeing now this horrible, devastating situation that's occurred in Hawaii. What does that tell us in terms of what's going on with respect to greenhouse gases and climate change?
[00:32:41] Jack Kerfoot: It's interesting is if you talk to arborists around the world, and we have quite a few history in Pacific Northwest with timber and lumber from that standpoint.
[00:32:53] But when I talk to arborists, what they tell me, Is the temperature changes that we're seeing and the changing in precipitation that trees that they would've recommended planting 20 years ago or 30 years ago, they wouldn't recommend. They need more trees that can survive in extreme weather conditions.
[00:33:14] So what we're having now is periods of extended drought or extended periods with no rainfall at all, which means that you are more susceptible to forest fires. There are major forest fires that they have now in Australia, which have never seen before. Now we're seeing in Hawaii, which is almost unheard of, you think of Hawaii, you think, oh, it's tropical.
[00:33:35] It'll be raining in. The only thing I have to worry about is when I go to Hawaii is whether to find a time when it's not raining. No, we're seeing more extremes from that standpoint. We're seeing unprecedented floods in China. We're seeing unprecedented floods in Eastern Europe and in Europe as well, and also in droughts in Africa.
[00:33:57] So what we're seeing is extreme changes in climate that's impacting the fauna that we have, and also means it's more susceptible to forest fires, which is also another threat from from humanity.
[00:34:11] Bob Gatty: A minute ago you said the clock is ticking. Does this situation in Hawaii illustrate that?
[00:34:20] Jack Kerfoot: I think it does, and like I say, if you look at the change in the severe weather intensity and frequency of 40 years ago and compare it to the 20 year period today, what you're seeing is what before would've been a considered a hundred year storm or a 200 year storm is now becoming a regular occurrence. Wow. And so I think we have to recognize that what we're seeing in Hawaii is we're going to see elsewhere.
[00:34:49] The US Weather Bureau has actually put out a wonderful YouTube perhaps wonderful, it's not the best word, but a very useful video to illustrate the impact of forest fires in California. They've gone back, map of California starting at 1900, and they're showing the frequency and the intensity of these forest in California.
[00:35:12] Those first fires in California in 1900 were primarily in the south and southwest. And over time, going all the way up to 2021, they increase in frequency, they increase in intensity, and they start to move further and further north as well. So that's showing an indication of the impact as we get drier climate, we're more susceptible to forest fires, even though some actions can be taken. Some things when it comes to dry dry weather and the plants and they become very susceptible. And all it takes is a spark. It can be lightning or it can be something as a person not paying attention and throwing a cigarette or a lit match to create a fire and it will take off extremely quickly.
[00:35:57] The loss of life in Hawaii, I think, illustrates that we aren't really prepared for the new normal that we have today. And the devastation and the loss of life is very much a substantial risk.
[00:36:11] Bob Gatty: Okay, Jack. Thank you very much. That's very insightful. I appreciate it. To find out when our next episodes with Jack Kerfoot will be streaming, just check podcast. Lean to the left.net, and you'll find the schedule of all episodes coming up there. And then you can mark 'em down on your calendar so you can know when to find 'em. So Jack, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
[00:36:42] Jack Kerfoot: My pleasure.
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