FERC: Regulatory or Rogue?

The protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline last year rocked the United States in an already rocky election season, and shined a small light on a fraction of the injustices that native peoples in America face. However, many people were left wondering: with all the negative attention the pipeline received as it was being built, how in the heck did it get approval in the first place?

It turns out that all pipeline propositions go through the same approval venue, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The only problem is, the FERC hardly ever blocks a pipeline project from going forward. In fact, in the past three decades, it’s only happened twice (and during that time received hundreds of proposals).

That doesn’t sound very “regulatory” to us. The FERC gives these pipeline construction companies “eminent domain” which allows them to bypass landowner cooperation. This is supposed to be in the public’s own good, but officials from FERC met with energy company representatives 93 times between June 2010-2016, and yet only took 17 meetings with environmental groups during that time. This shows a clear bias.

Congress has requested and formally petitioned that the FERC create an Office of Public Participation in the interest of transparency, an idea that’s been around since 1979, but the FERC has not done so. Often when appeals are brought forth on pipeline approvals, the FERC delays hearing them until gas is already flowing in the pipes; this has happened 7 times in the past 2 years. When a commission is able to behave in such a flagrantly self-serving way, we have to wonder: who regulates the regulators?

Kauai’s Impressive Energy Strategy

For most of us right now, the future of renewable energy and sustainability is just an imagined dream. Sure, we all know how it should go, but we don’t have an example of a functioning system to replicate. That is, until now. While the rest of the world has been trying to wrap their heads around this emminent transition, the small Hawaiian island of Kauai has been implementing it – to great effect!

Using a diversified process that involves everything from diesel to solar panels, renewable powerhouse Tesla and goats and sheep (really!), the island has been able to go from just THIS to THIS percent renewable energy in just a decade! The first step was large solar farms, as well as personalized ones on individual homes and restaurants. This is something we’re all familiar with, and it’s a good move in sun-drenched Hawaii.

However, solar panels only are so effective, partially because the sun is only out for so long, and partially because Hawaii is so verdant that the panels quickly get covered with plants if not attentively tended to. Tesla, the company known mostly for luxury electric cars, helped with the first part. Their large industrial batteries allow the island to store the energy they gather from the sun and store it for use at night and in the mornings. And the goats? Well they help with the plant maintenance, of course!

Kauai is a unique example because of it’s nature as an island and it’s geographic location, but that doesn’t mean this process can’t be replicated the world over, with some minor tweaks! Perhaps this small tropical island is lighting the way to our renewable future!

Tips To Improve Your Home Office

When you are working from home, there are ways to make your office a comfortable and productive place. These tips will help you with the transformation.

Color

Instead of forcing yourself to work in a bland environment, choose colorful accessories to liven up the space. Pops of color amid an all-white interior. The space, designed by the firm Garcia Tamjidi, includes beautifully-shaped desks and tables decorated with shades of aqua and spicy reds.

Light

If you can, use natural light. If you don’t have large windows in your home office space, choose incandescent lighting instead of fluorescent.

Paint

Choosing colors that are too relaxing or too stimulating can be counterproductive. Pick lighter shades if your office is small in order to open it up. If your office is large, on the other hand, medium to dark hues can make it feel cozier.

Furniture

Functional, ergonomic furniture will keep you from being forced to deal with sore muscles and a stiff neck at the end of the day. Look for chairs that are supportive to the back and desks that are built to the proper height for the task at hand.

Life

If you don’t have any life in your home office other than yourself, consider adding plants or fresh cut flowers. If you don’t have enough natural light to support flowers, consider installing an aquarium or even a pet Beta fish for your desk.

Your office doesn’t have to sap your energy. If you pay attention to how you decorate, your office can easily be transformed into a place that you love to spend time in. Following the tips above are guaranteed to make your space a more productive place to be.

Improve Your Lifestyle…Take A Break From Technology!

 

Technology is deeply integrated into all aspects of our lives. Prior to smartphones for instance, the line between our work and our personal lives was very clear. Once you got off work, work was pretty much over. Fast forward to today and technology has helped blurred that line. At work, we’re communicating with our phones and laptops, and after work we’re still using our devices to communicate. Your boss might send you that after work email or text, or you might get a text from a friend, so you have to have your phone with you at all times right?

Charlotte Lieberman thought the same thing, but she challenged herself to see how her life would look like if she tried to balance her tech usage with her physical life. She experimented in three different areas.

Sleeping

Most people get in bed and pull out their phones to do a little late night catching up. This includes checking social media, email, browsing the web, etc. Rather than do this until she was ready to sleep, Lieberman tried setting up a physical alarm clock so that she could use that alarm rather than the one on her phone. She then proceeded to place her phone far away from her bed, erasing the temptation to look at her phone before bed, allowing her to sleep better

Eating

Rather than watching TV or checking her phone, Lieberman elected to eat without looking at any screens. It was unsettling at first, but she found that she didn’t scarf down her food as quickly as usual, and was able to enjoy her meals more.

Moving

Lieberman decided that she would take all of her calls walking, rather than sitting at a desk or on her computer. She also decided that she would take a walk during the afternoon without her phone. Overall, this was a tough experiment for Lieberman, but it was also enlightening. We depend on our phones so much that it’s hard to deliberately leave them out of our lives. Decreasing this dependence is a good way to achieve a better work-life balance.  

The Simple Way To Find Happiness At Work

Did you know that the average American is working nearly fifty hour weeks? It seems every year, the average American work week drifts further and further away from long-held standard of the forty hours. Nowadays, many people see conventional jobs as fluorescently lit prisons, and longer work weeks certainly contribute to these sentiments. Many people hope to work in careers that provide fulfillment that isn’t just monetary, but they rarely ever have a clear idea of what would make them happy.

Finding happiness in your line of work is all about determining what really matters to you. When we are at different stages in life, we have unique ideas and perspectives. In our early 20s, we’re pursuing our college majors, and looking forward to landing the perfect job with great potential benefits. At around age 40, some people are looking at getting their PhDs, beginning a family, or even traveling the world. By the time, the general population is sixty, most of us want to be in a position to retire and spend time with our grandchildren. As a result, job satisfaction tends to resemble a U shape in relation to age and satisfaction. Earlier on in life, people are grateful to just land a job with earning potential. Overtime, they are less satisfied as responsibilities and expenses build up. Towards one’s late fifties, they become more satisfied, as they’ve hopefully reached a point where they can work less and have money saved up.

So what contributes to satisfaction for work? For most people, it’s a combination of having a life outside of work, and having money. If you look at where people are the most satisfied with their work life, it’s either when they are young enough to have a life outside of work, or old enough to have already accumulated a good amount of money, and can afford to work a lot less. If you find yourself unsatisfied with your current work/life balance, finding a job that allows you to have a life outside of work and a good amount of money can help improve your happiness.