Climate 411

Wheeler expected to weaken the Clean Power Plan even as pollution reduction costs are dropping

EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler is reportedly taking steps to nix the Clean Power Plan– America’s only national limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants – in favor of a weak substitute that does almost nothing to protect us from climate change and would increase harmful pollution that contributes to soot and smog.

There are many reasons why rolling back these life-saving protections makes no sense, but chief among them is that the opportunities to reduce carbon pollution are even greater – and cheaper – now than when the Clean Power Plan was finalized in 2015.

EPA is required to determine the “best system of emission reduction” when regulating pollution under the Clean Air Act, and select an approach that reflects the maximum feasible level of control. A look at the evidence overwhelmingly shows that a legitimate Clean Power Plan replacement would adopt emission reduction targets more ambitious than those in the Clean Power Plan, not less.

Here’s why:

1. Power sector trends have made the Clean Power Plan even more achievable and cost-effective than originally estimated

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Posted in Clean Air Act, Clean Power Plan, Economics, Policy / Leave a comment

EPA Administrator Wheeler prepares to gut Clean Power Plan, increasing pollution and harming health

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is reportedly planning to all but abolish one of America’s most important climate protections: the Clean Power Plan, our only nation-wide limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants.

Though Wheeler might claim that he is offering a Clean Power Plan “replacement,” his reported plan would forfeit the tremendous benefits of the Clean Power Plan—and instead provide little to no reduction in climate pollution.

Even as impacts of climate change are ravaging our nation and world, the reported proposal would exacerbate the harms our families are facing—harms like severe heat waves, deadly wildfires, coastal flooding, and violent storms.

Astoundingly, Wheeler might issue this new proposal just weeks after his proposal to roll back America’s Clean Car Standards—a disastrous action that would increase climate pollution by over two billion tons through 2040, and cause owners of cars and trucks to pay as much as $8,000 more for gas over the lifetime of their vehicles.

If Wheeler finalizes these proposals, he would leave our families and communities more vulnerable than ever to the harmful impacts of climate change. And he would flout EPA’s clear legal obligation—upheld three times by the Supreme Court—to protect Americans from dangerous climate pollution.  Read More »

Posted in Cars and Pollution, Clean Air Act, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Policy / 1 Response

Administration Cooks the Books to Justify Rollback of the Clean Car Standards

This post was written by EDF consultant Chester France, who served as a Senior Executive at EPA and led the development of vehicle standards at the agency

 

The Trump administration is now trying to roll back the Clean Car Standards – a proven American success story created with a mountain of evidence to support it.

From 2009 through 2016, the U.S. government published 10,000 pages of information proving that the Clean Car standards are feasible and cost effective. That’s the most comprehensive and rigorous U.S. automotive technology analysis ever conducted.

Rather than building on that massive technical record, the proposal released on Thursday indicates that the Trump administration has embraced shoddy and biased analysis to support its desired eight-year freeze of the Clean Car Standards at essentially 2018 levels through 2026.

The analysis attempting to justify the proposed rollback is a stunning 180-degree reversal of what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) had found over the last decade. For instance:

  • As recently as 2016, EPA and DOT found that the standards through 2025 would have net societal benefits of almost $100 billion.
  • Now, the administration wants us to believe the same standards will have net societal costs of $200 billion.

That’s a change of almost $300 billion.

The only way to achieve such a massive analytical flip-flop is to “cook the books” – by manipulating design elements and input assumptions in the modeling tool – until the Trump administration arrived at the answers that it wants.

And it’s clear the Trump administration had answers it wanted from the beginning. EDF uncovered an email proving that a long-standing climate denier within the Trump administration had – at the urging of the White House – directed EPA staff to immediately roll back the Clean Car Standards on February 7, 2017. That email reflects a purely political decision within weeks of the President’s inauguration in 2017 – before anyone could have conducted any analysis of the benefits of the program. The facts had no bearing then, and clearly still do not now.

Our experts have identified scores of changes improperly biased in the direction of weakening the standards and making them appear less cost effective. Here are just a few of the most egregious examples:

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Trump breaks his “jobs” promise in proposal to gut Clean Car Standards

U.S. Air Force photo/Don Branum

In March 2017, President Trump held a high-profile event in Ypsilanti, Michigan to announce that his administration was re-opening the mid-term evaluation of America’s Clean Car Standards. He was joined at the event by the CEO’s of General Motors, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, and Ford among others.

His action that day kicked-off a process that culminated in today’s release of a proposal that would eviscerate those successful standards.

The Trump administration’s attack on the Clean Car Standards threatens our health and environment, will raise costs on American families, is at odds with the technical progress the industry is making to reduce vehicle pollution, contains attacks on state-authority that are flatly illegal, undermines our safety, and is based on a deeply flawed and biased analysis.

The attack also goes against the purported rationale the President gave in March 2017.

President Trump wanted us to believe that this action was all about jobs. He mentioned “jobs” 14 times in his speech, noting:

“If the standards threatened auto jobs, then commonsense changes could have and should have been made.”

He also said:

“We are going to ensure that any regulations we have protect and defend your jobs.”

The odd thing is that the Trump administration’s own analysis finds that its proposal is a job loser.

That’s right: the administration’s own assessment found that its proposal would cost at least 60,000 jobs (Table VII-5; page 784 and 785).

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Posted in Cars and Pollution, Clean Air Act, Economics, Jobs, News, Policy / Read 1 Response

Connecting indigenous growers with buyers helps save forests and lift up communities

Hugo and Jose, cacao, Mexico, Original Beans

Indigenous farmers Hugo and Jose of Agrofloresta examine cacao saplings to be planted in Mexico. Photo credit: Anders Prien Saxbol of Original Beans

Economic development while also conserving forests is not easy. Building infrastructure and increasing production often entails forest degradation or destruction. But at Environmental Defense Fund, our mantra “Finding the ways that work” challenges us to solve even the most intractable problems. And so over the last five years, one way we made economic development and forest conservation “work” is by partnering with indigenous organizations that sustainably grow coffee and cacao in some of the most remote parts of the world, and bringing to them buyers from the United States and Europe.

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Posted in Agriculture, Forest protection, Indigenous People / Comments are closed

International trading of emissions reductions could greatly increase global climate ambition

The Arc de Triomphe following the signing of the Paris Agreement. Each party set a Nationally Determined Contribution for emissions reductions.

This post was authored by Gabriela Leslie, Pedro Piris-Cabezas and Ruben Lubowski

Carbon pricing is steadily growing worldwide and increasingly recognized as a way to achieve emissions reductions at lower cost than with standard regulations. A recent economic analysis from Environmental Defense Fund found that these cost savings from international trading of emissions could translate into direct gains for the atmosphere – and could produce nearly double the climate ambition at the same overall cost as countries’ complying with their Paris Agreement targets without international markets.

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Posted in Carbon Markets, News, REDD+ / Comments are closed