Climate 411

California Accelerates Toward Zero-Emission Vehicle Standards That Will Save Lives, Save Money, Create Jobs

California just moved further down the road toward cleaner cars and vital air pollution reductions.

The state’s Air Resources Board hosted a public workshop on the development of its Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC II) program last week, where it announced that it intends to propose multipollutant standards that will ensure all new cars sold in California are zero-emitting vehicles by 2035.

At the workshop, the Air Resources Board for the first time laid out a proposed trajectory for the ACC II program, charting a course for ensuring 60% of new vehicles sold in 2030 are zero-emitting and 100% of new vehicles sold by 2035 are zero-emitting.

Slide from Air Resources Board workshop presentation, available here

The ACC II program will build from California’s long history of advancing vehicle pollution reductions under Clean Air Act authority. If adopted, the draft standards described at the workshop will reduce health-harming pollution and climate emissions from new passenger vehicles beyond the 2025 model year and increase the number of zero-emission vehicles for sale. They will also reduce climate pollution, deliver jobs, save Californians’ money, and – most important – save lives.

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Posted in California, Cars and Pollution, Cities and states, Green Jobs, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Health, Jobs, News, Policy / Leave a comment

Connecticut can take the lead on creating a cleaner transportation system that cuts climate pollution

Connecticut state capitol building. Photo credit: Avala.

Connecticut is poised to lead the way on creating a cleaner and healthier transportation system – if legislators seize the moment to act. This past March, Connecticut Governor Lamont and 11 co-sponsors in the legislature introduced Senate Bill 884, which would give Connecticut the greenlight to implement a major multi-state program aimed at reducing climate pollution from the transportation sector: the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program (TCI-P).

The stakes are high. Passing this bill would make Connecticut among the first states to place a binding limit on climate pollution from transportation, which accounts for 40% of Connecticut’s greenhouse gas emissions. This is critical as EDF analysis found that Connecticut is off track for meeting its statutory 2030 climate target – and will need more policy action.

And beyond making Connecticut a national leader, TCI-P will bring major economic, public health and equity gains to the state.

Here is why Connecticut legislators should waste no time in putting the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program into action.

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Maximizing the historic job creation opportunity waiting in our nation’s old and leaking oil and gas wells

By Adam Peltz, Senior Attorney, Energy

After over 150 years of boom and bust oil and gas development, there are over a million inactive, unplugged oil and gas wells across the country. A new study published in the journal Elementa describes how, when not properly plugged, these wells can contaminate groundwater and emit methane as well as harmful chemicals into the atmosphere that endanger the economy and public health in communities where they are found. It also provides suggestions for how to maximize the environmental benefits of efforts to plug these wells.

There are 57,000 documented “orphan” wells across the country, meaning they have no owner of record, at least not one that’s still in business, and hundreds of thousands more orphan wells that are not documented. State, federal and tribal governments are left with the responsibility of plugging these wells – some of which have been abandoned for decades.

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Climate action is a top priority in the 21st Century Latino Agenda

By: Sindy Benavides, CEO of LULAC, and Esther Sosa, Project Manager at EDF

In the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic exposed inequities in nearly every aspect of life, illustrating the frustrating reality that today, national crises affect everyone but do not impact everyone equally. Similarly, climate change poses a more devastating threat to Latino families. Threats are already felt and cannot be ignored: hurricanes displaced millions in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, fieldworkers face job and food insecurity due to historic droughts, extreme climatic conditions pose a threat to our archaic energy system. In Texas, a winter storm left millions without power and clean water. These climate disasters disproportionately impact the wellbeing, health, and future of Latino families.

As the Biden-Harris Administration works with Congress to rebuild our economy, they must prioritize policies that address the health, economic, and environmental needs of the Latino community. That is why our organizations – the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) – recently joined forces with Corazón Latino, Hispanic Access Foundation, Hispanic Federation, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, and GreenLatinos to host one of a series of conversations to help us build a 21st Century Latino Agenda.

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How climate change is worsening drought

Spring is in full swing across the U.S. – flowers are blooming, pollen is blowing – and this means that the 2021 heat wave, hurricane, and wildfire seasons are just around the corner.

After the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season produced a record number of named storms and record-breaking wildfires ravaged the Western U.S., vulnerable communities are bracing for more. However, another extreme weather event linked to climate change has been quietly afflicting the U.S. year-round with no signs of letting up and at risk of becoming permanent – widespread drought.

Drought conditions have been ongoing since early summer 2020 – and have persisted, worsened, and expanded dramatically – across vast portions of the continental U.S. Since October 2020, almost all of the High Plains and Western regions and more than half of the South have been experiencing some level of drought. More than 50% of Western drought conditions are categorized as either extreme or exceptional drought. Even more drastically, extreme and exceptional drought have comprised more than 75% of drought conditions across the Four Corners region (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico) since late autumn.

NOAA predicts that these widespread dry conditions are likely to continue and spread throughout the spring, especially in the Southwest. This poses major threats to the region, including increased risks of wildfires, parched rangelands, stressed irrigation systems, and crop failures.

Just as climate change has worsened many extreme weather events, it has also impacted droughts. The excess heat now trapped in the climate system draws out more moisture from soils, thereby worsening drought conditions. Reduced snowpack volumes, earlier snowmelt, and changing precipitation patterns – also linked to climate change – exacerbate the water stress induced by droughts. And for numerous individual events across the world, scientists have attributed the increased likelihood and severity of droughts to human-driven climate change.

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Posted in Agriculture, California, Cities and states, Economics, Extreme Weather, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News, Science / Read 2 Responses

Driving the electric vehicle transition: auto companies and states step up to lead

If you watched any major televised sporting events this year, from the NCAA Final Four to the Super Bowl, you saw ad after ad showcasing American auto companies’ new electric cars. It’s proof that electric vehicles (EVs) are ready for a mainstream market – you don’t pay Will Ferrell and LeBron James to promote your car just to niche buyers.

Momentum is clearly building. Companies are prepared to capitalize on the economic benefits of EVs, for both consumers and autoworkers, as well as the climate and health benefits that all Americans will see.

In the last three months, some of the largest automakers in the U.S. and the world have committed to dramatically expanding their EV lineup. They have announced plans to invest billions of dollars in EV development, and plans to transition to an all-electric future by 2035 or earlier.

The Biden administration made a commitment last week to reduce U.S. climate pollution by at least 50 percent by 2030 – a commitment that was supported by major automakers and that will require significant emission reductions from the transportation sector.

States are also playing a leading role in driving progress. Last week, a bipartisan group of 12 governors detailed the important role that states have played in deploying zero-emitting vehicles and urged the Biden administration to move forward with ambitious standards that would eliminate pollution from all motor vehicles. And next week, the California Air Resources Board will hold a workshop related to its development of Advanced Clean Car II standards – standards that are expected to help the state ensure all new vehicles sold in California are zero-emitting by 2035.

The transportation sector is responsible for over a quarter of U.S. climate pollution – more than any other sector. The transportation sector also emits a slew of health-harming pollutants, including oxides of nitrogen and particulate pollution. The transportation sector is key to meaningful climate action.

To achieve meaningful reductions in transportation pollution, it will be key for the administration follow automakers’ commitments and state leadership with bold, decisive air pollution standards that put the U.S. on a path to ensure all new vehicles are zero-emitting no later than 2035 for passenger cars and trucks, and no later than 2040 for freight trucks and buses.

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Posted in Cars and Pollution, Economics, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Health, Jobs, Policy / Comments are closed