Four Things You May Not Know About the Heat Wave

Photo by: Julie Falk

This post first appeared on EDF Voices

The National Weather Service issued extreme heat warnings for a large swath of central United States this week, drawing comparisons to the dangerous heat events of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s.

The combination of extreme heat and humidity in large Midwestern cities such as St Louis and Chicago will likely lead to a range of human health impacts, including the potential for fatalities. Naturally, some will question whether this heat wave is the result of human-caused climate change.

Here are four things to consider as we sort that out:

1. Temperature is only part of the story

While it is unclear at this time if daily temperature records will be broken during this event, it doesn’t necessarily matter. , especially if these conditions persist for more than two days, as is expected for this event.

We now know that the increase in global mean temperature as the result of greenhouse gas emissions is pushing us into a new climate reality where extreme heat events are much more likely.

As if heat isn’t enough, increasing atmospheric temperature has also boosted global evaporation. This has led to an increase in global atmospheric moisture content over the last several decades, and by extension a propensity for stronger heat indices.

2. Thermometers don’t matter

The metric used to quantify the combined temperature and humidity impacts on humans, the heat index, is what makes a day feel like 110 degrees even if the thermometer only shows 96 degrees – much the same way a wind chill feels colder than the mercury suggests.

With the heat index already above 105 Fahrenheit for two days straight and then rising as high as 115 F  in many Midwestern locales, health officials are urging millions of Americans to stay hydrated and indoors.

3. Day 3 of a heat wave is critical

The third day is also critical for the human body. That’s when people who remain exposed to extreme heat can often no longer cope and fatalities historically rise, especially if temperatures remain high at night and keep people from resting.

With the heat building over the eastern half of the U.S. and expected to last into the weekend, even President Obama weighed in via Twitter this week, urging citizens to “drink water, stay out of the sun and check on your neighbors.”

4. Natural cycles may play a part, as with Dust Bowl 

There are always natural climate cycles at play and they can conspire to temporarily enhance or detract from the continually increasing climate change signal.

These cycles are usually expressed through changes in the surface temperature of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and have fancy names such as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the El Niño Southern Oscillation.

But their impact is really quite simple: Because the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are so large, these natural cycles can heat large areas of the atmosphere from underneath, much like a stove heats a pot of boiling water. When aligned like they are right now, they can contribute to extreme heat and drought in the central part of the country.

It’s happened before. The conditions that kicked off the 1930s catastrophic Dust Bowl in central U.S. are widely reckoned to have originated from a combination of these natural cycles.

To be sure, the events in the 1930s also had a human cause, including poor land management and agricultural practices that led to a large-scale depletion of soil moisture. It warmed the land surface over the Great Plains and Midwest, exacerbating a persistent and large high-pressure system already in place.

Is it climate change? Science will tell.

Of course, our impact on the climate is much different today.

With monthly and annual temperature records being smashed month after month and year after year – recently pushing global atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations past 400 parts per million – it’s likely that human-caused global warming is playing a large role in this week’s heat wave.

Also different today is that the science of linking climate change to large-scale extreme heat wave events has advanced rapidly over the last decade, helping us know when to attribute extreme weather events to global warming.

So stay tuned as this week’s “heat dome” unfolds. The climate science community will be rolling up their sleeves, once again, and go to work to understand the various forces at play.

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3 Keys for the American Petroleum Institute’s New Climate Task Force

AdobeStock_56840116By Ben Ratner, Director, EDF's Corporate Partnerships Program

The climate change discussion is percolating even in surprising places. The latest sign: the American Petroleum Institute’s recent formation of an internal task force on climate change. Reportedly the new task force’s mandate is to revisit API’s approach to this crucial issue, going into an election year and with ever greater scrutiny on fossil fuels.

It is too soon to know whether the task force will rubber stamp a business-as-usual approach defined by glossing over climate concerns and attacking policy measures, or chart a new path instead.

But if the task force is serious about a fresh look at the issue, here are three keys for the task force to consider as it ponders the future of API on climate.

Face the Facts

The oil and gas industry must be responsive to growing pressures from its investors, corporate customers, and Americans affected by oil and gas operations – from local pollution to climate change.

The historic global climate agreement reached in Paris, supported by nearly 200 countries including powerhouses like the United States and China, was also supported by a wide cross-section of American businesses – including PG&E, which as a natural gas distribution company and power generator is a user of API members’ products and a face to climate-conscious consumers.

Last April, over 400 investors representing more than $24 trillion in assets under management urged stronger leadership and more ambitious policies to lessen risk to investment and retirement savings of millions of Americans. Since then, the 2016 investor shareholder resolution season yielded a record breaking number of resolutions – 94 – addressing climate change, many levied as challenges to large oil companies.

And American public concern on global warming is reaching an eight year high, with nearly two-thirds of adults saying they worry about global warming a “great deal” or “a fair amount”, according to Gallup.

Facing all the facts, not cherry-picking them, can ground the task force’s work in today’s dynamic environment and enable an effective response in a changing world.

Solve Methane

While understanding and concern on the methane challenge has snowballed, API’s response has severely lagged.

But it doesn’t have to.

The methane emissions from the U.S. oil and natural gas industry account for the climate damage over a 20-year timeframe equivalent to roughly 240 coal fired power plants. And yet, when the Environmental Protection Agency issued rules earlier this year requiring operators to implement basic safeguards to detect and prevent emissions, API’s public response was to decry new environmental rules as “unreasonable and burdensome”.

Months prior, API’s combative regulatory filing questioned the authority of EPA even to regulate methane emissions, resisted twice-a-year inspections for accidental leaks and urged inspection exemptions that ignore insights on leak unpredictability.

The next round of methane rules is around the corner, and better late than never for API to embrace the United States’ goal of a 45% reduction in methane emissions from the oil and gas sector and to support effective national methane rules grounded in science and economics. Supporting a level playing field to address the invisible but undeniable methane problem would increase investor confidence and keep more product in the pipelines working for the economy, not against the climate. And it just might help build public trust in an industry that according to Edelman lags only the pharmaceutical and financial services industries in that category.

Truth be told, new regulations and compliance are not cost-free, but neither are exploration and drilling. Investing in effective rules will provide climate and environmental safeguards – a needed advancement responsive to legitimate pressure that is only rising.

Support Carbon Pricing

Implementing a market based approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions is widely thought to be the ultimate key to achieving U.S. climate goals including cutting emissions 80% by 2050. Geographies from northeastern states and California to South Africa and the EU have implemented various forms of carbon pricing. A number of mostly European API members have publicly supported pricing carbon, for example BP recognizing “that carbon pricing by governments is the most comprehensive and economically efficient policy to limit greenhouse gas emissions.”

And yet, some prominent API members have to date withheld support for carbon pricing, or provided lukewarm quasi-endorsements but not lobbying muscle.

The oil and gas industry has survived through evolving, and it’s time to evolve on carbon pricing. An economically rational policy can provide the investment clarity companies want, while delivering the greenhouse gas reductions that societies, supply chains, and ecosystems need.

API is a large organization with diverse views represented, and the climate task force’s job won’t be easy. But the time for change couldn’t be better.

This post first appeared on the EDF + Business Blog

Posted in Economics, Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Jobs| 1 Response

EPA Updates Standards to Reduce Methane Pollution from Landfills

Landfill Gas Extraction — photo by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

(This post was co-written by EDF’s Tomás Carbonell)

This morning the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized long-overdue revisions to national emission standards and emission guidelines for new and existing municipal solid waste landfills.

These standards will reduce harmful air pollution from landfills, which are our nation’s third largest source of climate-destabilizing methane pollution and also discharge other deleterious pollutants.

In 2025, EPA estimates that the final standards and emission guidelines will reduce methane emissions by an estimated 334,000 metric tons and non-methane organic compounds by more than 2,000 metric tons, primarily by expanding the application of landfill gas capture technology.

Today’s announcement updates standards and guidelines for existing sources that have not been substantially changed since they were first issued in 1996. Over the last two decades, technology and practices have evolved to enable better and more efficient control of landfill emissions — both from new and existing sources. For instance, leading landfill operators and industry experts have identified and implemented a number of best practices for achieving further reductions in landfill emissions, including: installing gas collection systems early in the life cycle of the landfill; using proper landfill covers and rigorously monitoring the integrity of those covers; using landfill gas as an energy source to replace fossil fuels; and developing alternatives to landfilling, including recycling and composting of organic waste.

Despite these advances, some have argued that EPA is not authorized to update emission guidelines for existing sources and instead must maintain requirements that are now more than 20 years out of date. EPA’s authority to review and revise emission guidelines for existing landfills, however, is firmly grounded in the text and purpose of the Clean Air Act and consistent with bedrock principles of administrative law.

Section 111 of the Clean Air Act, which authorizes these standards and guidelines for landfills, requires standards for new and existing sources alike to reflect the “best system of emission reduction,” taking into account cost and other factors.

Courts have consistently held that this provision of the Clean Air Act is manifestly forward-looking, enabling EPA to:

look toward what may fairly be projected for the regulated future, rather than the state of the art at present (National Asphalt Pavement Association v. Train, F.2d 775, 785, D.C. Circuit 1976 — quoting Portland Cement Association v. Ruckelshaus, 286 F.2d 375, 391, D.C. Cir. 1973)

If EPA is to fulfill this statutory obligation, it must have the ability to ensure that guidelines for existing sources are updated over time – just as the agency does for new sources — to reflect the latest advances and improvements in systems of emission reduction.

More broadly, EPA’s authority to update guidelines for existing sources flows inexorably from the fabric of the Clean Air Act, which recognizes the importance of EPA assessing new information about air pollution threats, incentivizing development of new technologies, and enabling their swift application.

In amending the Clean Air Act in 1977 Congress explicitly noted the importance of providing for continuous development and updating of standards:

Throughout this bill there is a philosophy of encouragement of technology development. It is an encouragement to induce, to stimulate, and to augment the innovative character of industry in reaching for more effective, less-costly systems to control air pollution. (S. Rep. No. 95-127 at *18, 1977)

Indeed, EPA periodically revisits the nation’s health-based standards for various pollutants in light of new scientific information and has revised standards for sources ranging from cars to power plants as new technologies have enabled more efficient and protective approaches. This process of regular review and improvement is consistent with firmly established principles of administrative law, which have long held that agencies have authority to revisit and update their regulations over time.

As the Supreme Court held in a landmark case:

Regulatory agencies do not establish rules of conduct to last forever; they are supposed … to adapt their rules and practices to the Nation's needs in a volatile, changing economy. They are neither required nor supposed to regulate the present and the future within the inflexible limits of yesterday. (American Trucking Associations, Inc., et al v. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe RR Co., et al., 387 U.S. 397; 87 S. Ct. 1608, 1967)

Although EPA’s final landfills standards secure important benefits for climate and public health, there remain significant opportunities to achieve cost-effective emission reductions from municipal solid waste landfills. EPA’s decision to revise its landfill standards, however, is firmly consistent with the Clean Air Act’s long history grounded in innovation and cost effective pollution reductions. It can help to ensure these requirements remain vibrant over time and spur development of these and other new technologies to reduce landfill pollution.

Posted in Clean Air Act, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News, Policy| Read 2 Responses

Clean Trucks: Much Needed and Ready to Deliver

There was some good news from the U.S. Energy Information Agency recently. It found that the Clean Trucks program, which is expected to be jointly finalized this summer by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT), will deliver huge carbon emission reductions.

"Kenworth truck" by Lisa M. Macias, U.S. Air Force via Wikipedia

The Clean Trucks program is designed to improve fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas pollution from the freight trucks that transport the products we buy every day, as well as buses, heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, and garbage trucks. The program’s first performance standards went into effect in 2014. The EPA and DOT are currently developing a second phase of performance standards. Strong standards can help keep Americans safe from climate change and from unhealthy air pollution, reduce our country’s reliance on imported oil, and save money for both truckers and consumers.

Without the Clean Trucks program, big trucks are on pace to increase emissions more than nearly any other end-use source of emissions between 2014 and 2040.

The proposed program charts a new course. The overall impact is 1.5 billion metric tons avoided (including upstream) through 2040.

The final program, which is currently being reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget, is expected to be announced this summer. EDF and a broad collation of clean air advocates, consumer groups, equipment manufacturers, trucking fleets, and freight shippers have called for the EPA and DOT to finalize strong standards.

Traffic Light TrucksIt is well documented that fuel saving solutions for heavy trucks exist today and can be cost-effectively deployed over the coming decade. Moreover, making trucks more fuel efficient will reduce lifecycle costs for truckers, freight shippers and consumers. We understand that stringent long-term fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards are necessary to overcome a range of barriers that prevent cost-effective solutions from reaching scale.

We are hopeful that the overall emissions savings from the Clean Trucks program will be even greater than expected benefits modeled in EIA’s analysis. EDF and others have called on the agencies to reduce new truck fuel consumption by 40 percent by model year 2025 beyond 2010 levels. This would increase annual emission reductions by an additional 40 million tons annually in 2035.

Others see the potential for greater efficiency levels, too:

The proposed Clean Truck program is a critical milestone on the journey to the truly transformative emission reductions we need from the freight sector. As we noted in 2013, trucks were on the path to account for 80 percent of the growth of freight emissions by 2040. The Clean Trucks program is set to offset this growth and start us on the long-term path towards substantial emission reductions.

This is indeed an achievement worthy of celebrating.

Posted in Cars and Pollution, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Policy| Read 1 Response

En Banc Review of the Clean Power Plan — What the Court Order Means, and Doesn’t Mean

rp_Gavel-and-earth-from-Flickr-300x199.jpgThe litigation over the historic Clean Power Plan will now be heard on the merits by the full complement of active judges on our nation’s second highest court.

Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued an order providing for litigation about the Clean Power Plan to be reviewed en banc by the active members of the court. A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit was originally assigned to hear the case.

The order also rescheduled oral argument to September 27 of this year (the three-judge panel had originally planned to hear the case on June 2).

The Clean Power Plan sets the nation’s first standards to reduce harmful, climate-destabilizing carbon pollution from existing power plants. At stake in this litigation are critical protections for climate and public health – clean air standards that will save thousands of lives per year, leave our children with a safer and healthier climate, reduce energy bills for businesses and families, and create new economic opportunities as the nation transitions to cleaner sources of energy.

What the Court Order Means – and Doesn’t Mean

  • The order will streamline the court’s review of the legal challenges. The parties to the litigation would likely have asked the full court to review the case after issuance of the three judge panel’s decision ­– even without this new order. By proceeding directly to full court review of the Clean Power Plan and bypassing review by the three-judge panel, this new order avoids the need for a second round of briefing and oral argument. The court’s order enables the court to resolve the legal challenges to the Clean Power Plan in a more expeditious manner that may speed final resolution of the case.
  • En banc review is rare but not unusual major cases. En banc review of major cases is not unusual in the D.C. Circuit, and in recent years the full court has granted en banc review an average of once per year. It is rare, but also not unprecedented, for the full court to review a case on its own initiative and without any party having requested it.
  • The order has no bearing on how the court views the merits of the case. Although the order was not accompanied by an explanation, it likely reflects the court’s recognition that this case raises issues of great importance that warrant the consideration of all of the active judges. As noted above, the court may also have concluded that it would be more efficient to proceed directly to en banc review due to the likelihood that the court would eventually receive requests for such review. However, in spite of rampant speculation, the order does not signal how the judges will rule.
  • The order allows for consideration by all of the court’s active judges. Chief Judge Merrick Garland and Judge Cornelia Pillard recused themselves from the order. If both judges remain recused, the en banc panel will be comprised of the remaining nine active judges. However, the order does not prevent Chief Judge Garland and Judge Pillard from joining the oral argument on September 27 if there is a change in circumstances.

The Current Status of the Case

The Clean Power Plan’s flexible, common-sense approach to reducing harmful pollution has drawn nationwide support.

  • A broad and diverse coalition is defending the Clean Power Plan in Court. States, communities, businesses, and citizens across our nation recognize the urgent need to reduce climate pollution, and have stepped up to defend the Clean Power in court. The coalition includes: eighteen states; six municipalities and the District of Columbia; large power companies that own or operate almost ten percent of the nation’s generating capacity; trade associations representing thousands of companies in America’s $200 billion advanced energy industry; and numerous public health and environmental groups, including EDF and the American Lung Association.
  • Hundreds of additional organizations, businesses, and leaders across America have filed amicus, or “friend of the court,” briefs supporting the Clean Power Plan. They include: Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Ikea, Mars Inc., Adobe, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts; 54 cities, counties and mayors whose constituents are experiencing the impacts of climate change firsthand; Consumers Union and other ratepayer and consumer organizations; 193 current Members of Congress; national security experts including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta; two former Republican EPA Administrators who served under Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Nixon; a broad cross-section of religious and small business organizations; leading health and medical associations; former state officials, including energy and environmental regulators from many of the states challenging the Clean Power Plan; and many of the nation’s leading experts on the electric grid, the Clean Air Act, and climate science.

Citizens and Businesses Across America Support the Clean Power Plan

The usual opponents of climate and clean air protections, including the coal industry, major polluters and allied attorneys general, have been waging a massive litigation campaign to stop The Clean Power Plan. The lawsuits against it began before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) even finished writing it. Among those opponents is a group of attorneys general – but they are not representative of the views of many of their own citizens, much less those of Americans at large.

  • In the states whose attorneys general are challenging the Clean Power Plan, sixty-one percent of residents support these vital standards. Nationwide, even larger majorities recognize the urgency of addressing climate change and reducing carbon pollution from existing power plants.
  • There are numerous cities defending the Clean Power Plan – including Salt Lake City, Houston, Boise, Grand Rapids and Reno – that are located in states with Attorneys General attacking it.

Large parts of the nation’s business community also recognize that the Clean Power Plan will make the economy stronger by speeding the transition to affordable, cleaner energy sources – and by and protecting against the serious risks of uncontrolled climate change.

  • In April, more than 100 of the nation’s most successful and admired businesses – including Adidas, DuPont, EBay, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Johnson & Johnson, Nestle, Nike, Starbucks, and Unilever – signed a powerful statement urging “swift implementation of the Clean Power Plan” and declaring that “failure to build a low carbon economy could put America’s prosperity at risk.”

A Cleaner Power Sector is Within Reach

The emission reduction targets in the Clean Power Plan build on current trends in the nation’s power sector, and are eminently achievable.

Just last week, an analysis by the Energy Information Administration found that power sector emissions in 2015 fell to 20 percent below 2005 levels — already two-thirds of the way towards the 2030 emission reduction goals of the Clean Power Plan —  thanks in large part to the plummeting cost of natural gas and renewables.

In 2016, renewable energy is expected to represent nearly two-thirds of the new electric generating capacity built in the United States, with the latest projections indicating as much as 100 gigawatts of new renewable capacity will be built before 2020.

Each week seems to bring news confirming that the Clean Power Plan targets are completely reasonable, and that states and power companies recognize that low-carbon energy is the future. Here are some examples:

  • The state of Arkansas – which is litigating against the Clean Power Plan – announced last week that it has already met the 2030 emission targets in the standards by moving to cleaner and more affordable sources of energy.
  • Xcel Energy recently announced plans to build Colorado’s largest wind farm, a 600 megawatt facility that will save hundreds of millions of dollars for Colorado consumers and utilize wind turbines manufactured in the state. EnergyWire reports that, “Georgia is on track to surpass an initial goal to reduce carbon emissions from its power sector, a state air official said at a January stakeholder meeting.”
  • The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says the state can comply with the federal Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions without changing anything until at least 2025.
  • Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said, “We shouldn’t need a federal edict to understand how vital it is that we keep doing everything in our collective powers to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency, and advance Minnesota’s clean energy economy.”
  • Oklahoma’s two largest utilities, PSO and OG&E, both say they’re on a path to compliance with the Clean Power Plan by the 2030 deadline.
  • SNL Energy reported last week that eight of the major power companies challenging the Clean Power Plan have significantly reduced their coal-fired generation and emissions in recent years. American Electric Power, for example, has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 39 percent since 2000, and Southern Company has reduced its carbon emissions to 20 percent below 2005 levels.

You can find a list of all the supporters of the Clean Power Plan in court, and all the briefs in the case, on our website.

Posted in Clean Power Plan, EPA litgation, News, Policy| Read 1 Response

San Antonio Leadership Puts People over Politics by Supporting Clean Power Plan

By: John Hall, Texas state director, clean energy, and Colin Leyden, senior manager, state regulatory & legislative affairs – natural gas. This post originally appeared on our Texas Clean Air Matters blog.

san antonio riverwalk pixabayWhen it comes to clean air and clean energy, Texas cities – and their encompassing counties – know what’s good for them.

San Antonio’s Bexar County Commissioners, for example, recently approved a resolution supporting the nation’s first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants, the Clean Power Plan.

Bexar County includes the City of San Antonio and adjoining areas. By endorsing the plan, the broader San Antonio community joins Texas’ largest cities Houston and Dallas, whose mayors are also supporting the sensible, cost-effective clean air measure. (In fact, Houston and Dallas filed an amicus brief together with a large coalition of cities to support the Clean Power Plan in court).

All of this comes in the face of staunch opposition from Texas state leaders, who have used taxpayers’ money to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over these safeguards. Meanwhile, Bexar County Judge Nelson W. Wolff and commissioners passed the resolution unanimously, meaning members from both sides of the aisle put politics aside and voted for healthier air for our communities and families.

In addition to serving as a testament to bipartisan leadership on reducing climate-altering carbon emissions, Bexar County’s support for the Clean Power Plan is a reflection of San Antonio’s clean energy leadership and could help the city meet our nation’s health-based ground-level ozone (more commonly known as smog) standard.

San Antonio climbing clean energy ranks

Since the Clean Power Plan will encourage investment in cleaner energy sources, it should come as no surprise that San Antonio’s Bexar County backs the effort – the city is already a leader in that area. San Antonio was recently ranked 7th in terms of solar energy capacity in the Shining Cities Report – the only Texas city to make the top 10. And that ranking didn’t even include the solar power that CPS Energy, San Antonio’s municipal utility that serves Bexar County, draws from outside city limits.

CPS has also taken a progressive approach to advancing the low-carbon energy future through its New Energy Economy initiative. Launched nearly five years ago, the program aims to increase the use of clean energy resources while investing in the economy of San Antonio. In order to focus on lower-carbon sources, the shift resulted in the decision to shut down a large coal-fired power plant by 2018, about 15 years earlier than expected. Additionally, the New Energy Economy plan encouraged clean energy and innovative technology companies to relocate to the city. As a result, partners like OCI Solar Power, Silver Spring Networks, and Landis+Gyr have landed in the Alamo City, creating more than 840 jobs and $947 million in annual economic impact.

Clean Power Plan will have clean air rewards for the children of Bexar County

San Antonio’s air quality has been at a tipping point for many years, with smog levels just narrowly hovering beneath national health-based standards. The standards, anchored in extensive medical studies, establish the acceptable smog concentrations to ensure healthy air quality, but recent air monitoring data show San Antonio is poised to be designated in “nonattainment” by October 2017. In other words, on many days the air pollution levels are unhealthy and the city and surrounding areas will most likely not meet the standards.

Fortunately, CPS Energy’s New Energy Economy efforts, in addition to reducing harmful carbon pollution, will contribute to San Antonio’s efforts to meet the health-based smog standard. That’s because coal-fired power plants generate substantial amounts of pollutants that lead to the creation of smog. Therefore, replacing power generated by coal plants with power from cleaner sources will lower carbon emissions and smog contributors. And that is very good news for Bexar County’s children, the elderly, and individuals with lung and heart diseases – populations facing serious health threats from unhealthy air.

With both the County Judge and city utility supporting the Clean Power Plan, San Antonio should be on a path to cleaner air. However, many ozone-causing pollutants are drifting from surrounding areas in the state. In fact, recent air quality modeling shows that on some bad air quality days, more than 60 percent of the smog can be attributed to outside sources – including emissions from nearby oil and gas development in the Eagle Ford shale. To address the region’s air quality challenges, perhaps the county commissioners’ bipartisan leadership on clean energy can be an effective voice in urging state leaders to put in place polices that would incentivize surrounding areas to reduce their contribution. It will take many different strategies to reduce smog levels in Bexar County and a truly regional approach will be needed.

It makes sense for Texas to embrace the Clean Power Plan: The plan will maximize our state’s plentiful clean energy resources, leading to public health benefits and water savings. City Council member Ray Lopez put it best when he said, “We know here in San Antonio that clean power means clean air, a healthy planet, and a strong economy.” While our state decision-makers use our hard-earned taxpayer dollars to obstruct clean air safeguards, our cities are leading the way in protecting our communities and families from unhealthy air pollution and forging a strong clean energy economy.

Posted in Clean Power Plan, News, Partners for Change| Comments are closed
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