Author Archives: Tim O'Connor

Court Discharges Case against California Climate Law

More than two years after a suit was filed to stop California’s cap-and-trade program, a San Francisco superior court yesterday approved the state’s recently submitted environmental impact analysis, confirming that California has adequately studied options for how to meet its climate goals.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) got a thumbs up on its AB 32 Scoping Plan that features more than 70 pollution-reducing measures including a cap-and-trade regulation that will establish North America's largest carbon market. These measures will work in concert to cut climate pollution to 1990 levels by 2020.

Although the overall litigation on the Scoping Plan is not over (pending resolution of the appeals process), the question of whether CARB’s new analysis satisfies the court’s initial concerns is settled.  This decision removes what was once a major obstacle to adopting the state’s greenhouse gas reduction plan and gives the state another green light to start enforcing cap-and-trade in 2013.

Yesterday’s decision is the latest ruling in a suit that was filed in 2009, shortly after the state adopted the Scoping Plan, a blueprint for reducing climate change pollution.  The suit claimed among other things that California hadn’t properly analyzed the full range of options for reducing pollution. In an earlier decision this past May, the trial judge affirmed CARB’s authority to pursue a market-based program, but said the level of detail in the required alternatives analysis needed improvement. CARB followed that by preparing an expanded analysis submitted to the court in October.  Yesterday’s action was the court's approval of that newly submitted analysis. 

Parties looking to undermine California’s leadership in fighting climate change may still use the courts to try to stop the state’s landmark cap-and-trade regulation over the next year. EDF remains confident that California’s progress towards a low-carbon economy can and will remain on course.




Posted in Climate, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32, Litigation | Comments closed

California Victory: Court of Appeals Backs Improved Pollution Standards for Cars

Earlier today, a federal court rejected a legal attack on new clean car standards that will help protect our air quality and our pocketbooks.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C. ruled in favor of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) green light for clean car standards adopted by California and 13 other states and the District of Columbia.

Environmental Defense Fund intervened in defense of EPA's action, supporting California's pioneering leadership.

“This is a major victory not only for California but for the millions of Americans who are working together to unleash smart policies that will save families money at the gas pump, reduce dangerous pollution and break our dependence on imported oil,” said EDF president Fred Krupp.

California adopted the new standards in 2004. They were later adopted by Arizona, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

The federal government, the involved states, the U.S. auto industry and the United Auto Workers Union reached an agreement on the standards last year. The EPA finalized a national clean car program on April 1, 2010 that built on the foundation forged by the state clean car standards, creating integrated national standards to provide benefits across the country.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Automobile Dealers Association sued to to block EPA's green light for the California clean car standards but the court ruled that neither have legal standing to challenge EPA’s action.

According to the Court’s decision, "[b]ecause the Chamber has not identified a single member who was or would be injured by EPA's waiver decision, it lacks standing to raise this challenge.”

The Court also relied on the overarching national standards, writing, “[e]ven if EPA's decision to grant California a waiver for its emission standards once posed an imminent threat of injury to the petitioners — which is far from clear — the agency's subsequent adoption of federal standards has eliminated any independent threat that may have existed."

“It is time for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to stop obstructing made in America clean air solutions that are a trifecta for saving money, energy security, and a safer environment,” Krupp added.

“This is a major victory for Americans who are tired of pouring out their hard-earned money at the gas pump,” said Vickie Patton, EDF’s General Counsel. “Cleaner cars will save their owners money – as much as $3000 over the life of their vehicles. Cleaner cars also reduce dangerous air pollution, and help break our nation's dependence on imported oil.”

Posted in Climate, Transportation | Comments closed

California’s clean energy policies will grow economy in jobless recovery, report shows

A comprehensive analysis of the jobs impact and training needs resulting from California energy-related policies and program has found that the programs will provide significant numbers of jobs, even in today’s tough economy times.

The report, “California Workforce Education and Training Needs Assessment for Energy Efficiency, Demand Response and Distributed Generation,” completed by the University of California, Berkeley, forecasts that the public and private sectors will invest $11.2 billion in energy efficiency measures in California by 2020, which will create about 211,000 jobs through the economy.

It is the first study of the job impacts and workforce preparation issues related to state and federal policies and programs that are designed to improve energy efficiency, reduce peak energy demand, and develop localized renewable energy generation in California.

Most of the new energy efficiency jobs that will be created and will require training are mostly in traditional construction trades; the remaining ones requiring training will be clean energy jobs such as solar and wind turbine installers.

California has more than 1,000 training programs that provide basic to advanced training for the most in-demand occupations. Programs are offered at four-year and community colleges, state-certified apprenticeship schools, community-based organizations, high school career technical offices and elsewhere.

The report recommended specific actions that California can take to meets its energy efficiency goals and help create jobs, including:

  • Continue and expand policies and programs to improve energy efficiency, reduce peak demand and develop localized distributed energy generation;
  • Support state-certified apprenticeships and improve coordination between community college programs and apprenticeships; and
  • Support strong entry ways into professional jobs and apprenticeships for individuals from disadvantaged communities through career technical education and pre-apprenticeship programs in high-school and community colleges.

This positive news will accelerate California’s growing green economy, which is the largest in the country, based on jobs, companies and clean tech investments.

Anyone interested in learning more about the job requirements for energy efficiency and hundreds of other types of green jobs can reference EDF’s Green Jobs Guidebook. The downloadable guide features:

  • Profiles of 200 green jobs in California
  • Details on 45 job types for high school grads, many paying more than $25 per hour
  • Information on job training and placement programs
  • Listings of valuable apprenticeship programs

EDF’s Green Jobs California site lists training programs in the Los Angeles regions and other resources to help people envision and begin pursuing a green career.

California is a renowned clean energy leader with a track record of energy policies that create jobs and grow our economy. This latest report is the latest proof that California’s economic growth and environmental protection policies go hand in hand.

Posted in Clean Energy, Jobs | Comments closed

Clean Air Act Benefits Exceed Costs More Than 30-to-1

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just released a report on the Clean Air Act that would make any investor proud. It shows that for every dollar spent on regulations to cut air pollution over the last 30 years, we’ve earned more than $30 in savings to go along with tremendous public health benefits.

Members of Congress have spent much of the last two months trying to roll back clean air protections. They’ve argued that the Clean Air Act is bad for the economy. This report shows otherwise. As EDF’s president Fred Krupp notes, “If anyone still doubts that America can afford to do the right thing, this report should settle the matter. Cleaner air will unquestionably improve our health, our economy, and our lives.”

California still ranks among the states with the worst air pollution. Just this week, Forbes released a list of the ten most toxic cities in America. Four of them are California cities: Bakersfield (2nd place), Fresno (3rd place), Los Angeles (6th place) and Riverside-San Bernardino (10th). Poor air quality was a major reason they qualified.

Ironically, all of those cities have improved their air quality in the last decade. The trouble is that they’ve also grown dramatically, which has only added to the number of vehicles and other sources of pollution. Can you imagine how much pollution—and lung disease—we’d have in those cities and around the country if tailpipe and power plant pollution controls had not been in place these last 30 years?

California needs the Clean Air Act for many reasons, but the economic benefits particularly stand out. An earlier peer-reviewed study found that dirty air in the Los Angeles Air Basin costs local residents nearly $22 billion a year in health costs, premature death, lost days at work and lost days at school. In the San Joaquin Valley, the annual costs amount to about $6 billion.

Think about it: that’s $28 billion in costs each and every year—nearly as much as it would take to resolve the state’s budget deficit this year.

Now add EPA’s new study showing that we get $30 worth of value on every dollar invested in clean air and another thing becomes clear: those who are working to weaken the Clean Air Act and reduce EPA’s authority are effectively selling an investment that’s returned billions of dollars to our economy.

A  poll released last month by the American Lung Association found that three out of four Americans support the EPA setting tougher standards on specific air pollutants, including mercury, smog and carbon dioxide. It also found that 68 percent of voters oppose Congressional action that impedes the EPA from updating clean air standards generally and 64 percent oppose Congressional efforts to stop the EPA from updating standards on carbon dioxide.  If you want to protect these economic benefits and help prevent putting tens of thousands of lives at risk, you can voice your support for the Clean Air Act and the EPA by clicking here.

Posted in Climate, Politics | Comments closed