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Energy Officials Endorse Efficient Light Bulbs and Other Environmental Steps

March 18, 2007 — Water and energy officials gathered Sunday evening to discuss cost-effective, practical local strategies to save energy, save money and help the environment at a meeting in Sunny Isle Shopping Center's new amphitheater.
It was the V.I. Energy Education Week kickoff event, and directors of the Water and Power Authority, the Waste Management Authority and the Energy Office joined other local experts. They gave public presentations outlining the key problems facing the territory and their agencies' ongoing conservation efforts.
WMA Director May Cornwall introduced the keynote speaker, global-warming specialist Tim Greeff of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Greeff spoke about fossil fuels, global warming and measures from the local to the national level he argued would help.
Greeff and local-government officials both repeatedly urged every citizen to switch to compact-fluorescent light bulbs to save energy, citing figures showing the move to have the potential to save a lot of fuel and money in the territory and the world.
"Compact-fluorescent lights pay for themselves in a week here. After that they keep paying you week after week for years," said Bevan Smith, director of the Energy Office. The speakers also enthusiastically endorsed wind power, solar electricity and hot-water production. Smith trumpeted the Energy Office's program giving grants to set up a number of small, one-kilowatt home and business solar-electric systems. With the newly approved ability to sell any extra power generated back to WAPA under net metering, Smith said these systems can become an important part of the territory's energy strategy.
Gregory Rhymer, acting as executive director in Bruno Vega's absence, spoke of the importance of conservation, as well as WAPA's need to get more efficient and bring new, more-renewable and more-modern electricity generation online to replace oil-fired generators.
When Greeff began the main presentation, he first addressed whether scientists dispute conclusions about the connection between fossil fuels and global warming.
"A recent study took a random sample of 928 peer-reviewed scientific journal reports out of nearly 10,000 related to global warming published over the period, and found not a single one disagreeing with the basic facts of global warming," said Greeff, who consulted with former Vice President Al Gore on the Oscar-winning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth."
"Zero disagreement among scientists putting their work up to peer review," he said. "But in the popular media, in news magazines and newspapers, another recent study found 53 percent of articles expressed doubt on the issue." Greeff went on to lay out some of the compelling evidence for global warming caused by human burning of fossil fuels.
To hammer home his message, Greeff interspersed graphs showing how carbon-dioxide measurements track temperatures consistently over decades with images of glaciers around the world vanishing over the decades. Greeff proposed working to improve auto fuel efficiency; moving to more-efficient electrical appliances, such as compact fluorescent lights, under the federal Energy Star label; developing renewable energy sources such as biofuels; and processing fossil fuels to scrub out carbon emissions.
Several screenings of "An Inconvenient Truth" will take place around the territory over the next week as part of Energy Education Week. It is showing at 8 p.m. Friday in St. Thomas' Pistarckle Theater; at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Chase Auditorium on the St. Thomas campus of the University of the Virgin Islands; and at 5 p.m. Sunday in St. Croix's Caribbean Community Theater.
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