Author Archives: Fred Krupp

The Clean Power Plan: A ticket to the top

(This post originally appeared on EDF Voices)

Paxson Woelber

With the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan now final, the era of unlimited carbon pollution from America’s power plants is finally coming to an end.

That’s excellent news, because climate change has put us in the race of our lives – and the countries that move the fastest toward clean energy will be the most competitive, create the most jobs and have the healthiest air. It’s a race to the top, and the Clean Power Plan gives the United States a better chance of winning.

Below are excerpts from an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal where I lay out the opportunities this groundbreaking initiative will bring to our nation.

It will put power in consumers’ hands

Photo: Save the Ozarks

“States should use this watershed moment to remove existingbarriers to energy freedom and consumer choice. Outmoded rules in many states make it harder for homeowners to install solar panels – and Americans across the political spectrum have made it clear that they want more control over the electricity they use.

It ramps up the clean energy market

“Driving down carbon emissions will ramp up the energy transformation that is already happening across America. What once seemed exotic electric cars, highly efficient appliances, competitively priced clean energy is becoming commonplace.

“In 2014, the clean-energy market in the U.S. expanded by 14 percent, to almost $200 billion. That is bigger than the domestic airline industry.

It builds a more prosperous future

Photo: Duke Energy

“The EPA’s plan gives companies the incentive to make investment decisions that focus on cleaner energy. For the customer in states that lower emissions by creating opportunities for more efficient use of energy, the plan will mean that home electric bills will be lower and individual control of electricity use will be higher.

“Bill Gates recently said, ‘If we create the right environment for innovation, we can accelerate the pace of progress, develop and deploy new solutions, and eventually provide everyone with reliable, affordable energy that is carbon free.’

I believe that the Clean Power Plan will help establish that environment for innovation and lead us to a cleaner, healthier and more prosperous future.”

Posted in Clean Power Plan, News| Comments are closed

New Carbon Pollution Standards Will Protect Health, Drive Innovation

Source: The Guardian

(This post originally appeared on EDF Voices)

The Environmental Protection Agency announced the nation’s first-ever carbon pollution standards for new power plants this morning—a major victory in the fight against climate change. Right now, there are no limits at all on carbon pollution from power plants, the single largest source of this pollution in the United States.

These standards are a necessary, common sense step that will ensure cleaner power generation that helps protect our children from dangerous smog and our communities from extreme weather. They will also drive innovation, so that America can continue to lead the world in the race to develop cleaner, safer power technologies.

Anticipated direct health consequences of climate change include injury and death from extreme weather events and natural disasters, increase in climate-sensitive infectious disease, increases in air pollution-related illness, and more heat related, potentially fatal, illness. Within all of these categories, children have increased vulnerability compared with other groups.

Scientists warn that the buildup of greenhouse gases and the climate changes caused by it will create conditions, including warmer temperatures, which will increase the risk of unhealthful ambient ozone levels. Higher temperatures can enhance the conditions for ozone formation. Even with the steps that are in place to reduce ozone, evidence warns that changes in climate are likely to increase ozone levels in the future in large parts of the United States.

If physicians want evidence of climate change, they may well find it in their own offices. Patients are presenting with illnesses that once happened only in warmer areas. Chronic conditions are becoming aggravated by more frequent and extended heat waves. Allergy and asthma seasons are getting longer. . . . Rising air and water temperatures and rising ocean levels since the late 1960s have increased the severity of weather, including hurricanes and droughts, and the production of ground-level ozone. That means more asthma and respiratory illnesses, more heat stroke and exhaustion, and exacerbation of chronic conditions such as heart disease.

Cost-effective, low-carbon energy solutions are already helping spur the economy, create good jobs and reduce harmful pollution in red and blue states across the country. Industries are recognizing that these smart power solutions are not only good for people and the environment, but also very good for business.

Many major power companies have recognized the need to address carbon. When these standards were initially proposed, the CEO of PSEG, Ralph Izzo, said, “[t]he Agency’s action establishes a logical and modest standard for new electric power plants and provides the industry with much needed regulatory certainty. The EPA provides a framework for the industry to confront this problem in a cost effective manner.” And the CEO of American Electric Power, Nick Akins, said in June that the new Climate Action Plan can be carried out “without a major impact to customers or the economy.”

Wind topped all new power deployed in 2012, with especially strong growth in Kansas, Texas, Iowa, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota and Oklahoma.  So-called “microgrids”—local generation networks that can run independent of the grid—are unlocking on-site clean power that expands clean energy choices for communities and consumers. And new financing models are driving more efficient use of energy at scale, cutting pollution while saving businesses and families money.

We know we must act now.

The costs of climate inaction are hitting home across the country as extreme weather events batter our communities. From the recent heartbreaking severe floods in Colorado to last year’s devastation from Superstorm Sandy in the Northeast, from crippling drought to terrible wildfires in the West, extreme weather is here and made worse by rising temperatures. The two million Americans who supported the EPA’s initial proposal last year know that doing nothing about climate change is not free. We are paying costs now and will inflict even greater costs on our children and future generations if we do not begin taking aggressive action to reduce carbon emissions.

As Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said earlier this week, “every ton we emit you can check it off against our children and grandchildren.” The naysayers, as always, are out in force and will do everything they can to derail action on climate. Please join Americans across our nation and lend your voice of support during this crucial time. Together with health and environmental groups, businesses, parents and states – red and blue – we can work together to meet this challenge.

Posted in Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Jobs, Policy| Comments are closed

The President takes the lead on climate change

(This post first appeared on Tuesday, June 25th on EDF Voices)


Today President Obama took an important step toward meeting the promise of his inaugural address to “respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”

In a Climate Action Plan announced at Georgetown University, the President laid out his vision for putting in place common sense policies that will cut carbon pollution while driving innovation, cutting energy waste and energy bills, creating jobs, and protecting public health. The President’s Plan pledged to:

  • Cut carbon pollution in the United States by putting in place tough carbon pollution standards for new and existing power plants, accelerating investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and innovative technologies, reducing emissions of highly potent greenhouse gases such as methane and HFCs, and putting in place fuel-saving standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks;
  • Work with local communities and vulnerable sectors of the economy to prepare for climate impacts that can no longer be avoided; and
  • Couple action at home with leadership internationally to forge a truly global solution to this global challenge. (Read more about the international aspects of the plan on ourClimate Talks blog.)

The President’s decision to focus his administration on addressing the serious problem of methane’s contribution to climate change is an additional, welcome part of his announcement.

He is in step with most Americans, who have moved past the old debates about climate change and are now dealing with the impacts. Reducing carbon pollution will help drought-stricken farmers in the Midwest, coastal residents from Florida to Connecticut rebuilding after storms, communities ravaged by wildfire in the West, children suffering from asthma, and taxpayers everywhere who have to foot the bill for the impacts of climate change.

Most Americans would be shocked to know that there are no current limits on carbon pollution from power plants. By setting the first standards in history for carbon pollution from power plants in the United States – which produce 2 billion tons of this pollution each year, or about 40% of the nation’s total – the President will help modernize our power system, ensuring that our electricity is reliable, affordable, healthy and clean. He can do so in a way that can give industry the flexibility it needs to make cost-effective investments in clean energy technologies.

I’m seeing plenty of reasons for hope these days. California recently put in place nearly economy-wide limits on carbon pollution – in the ninth largest economy in the world. Two weeks ago, the United States and China agreed to work together to reduce powerful greenhouse gases known as HFCs. And last week in the city of Shenzhen, the Chinese launched the first of seven emissions trading pilot programs.

But U.S. leadership is needed to help build on this progress and secure the reductions in carbon pollution scientists tell us we need at home and around the world. And the President today showed leadership, aligning common sense action with a vision of the future that will create a stronger America for our children and grandchildren.

We expect Members of Congress to strongly support the President. We know the usual naysayers will soon be claiming that we can’t afford to deal with this problem. The truth is we can’t afford not to. Those who oppose the President’s actions today apparently want no limits at all on carbon pollution. That’s a highly irresponsible position in the face of a scientifically established threat. In fact, failure to act now will only saddle our children’s generation with huge additional costs. Those who say they are concerned about the burden of fiscal deficits on coming generations should also worry about the enormous, and growing, costs of climate change.

Thanks to the President, the days of silence and inaction on climate are over. This plan could become an important part of his legacy.

We still have a long way to go. Now it’s up to all of us to join with the President in confronting the defining challenge of our time.

Posted in Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News, Policy| Comments are closed

New Report: Ambition Is the Key to Reaching Climate Goals

Ambition matters.

We all know this, because America is a nation of strivers — innovative, creative people who understand that ambition and drive can make the difference between success and failure. It's true in business. It's true in life.  And it's true in environmental protection.

Today the World Resources Institute (WRI) released a report that shows how crucial national ambition is when it comes to charting an effective pathway for climate action.

The report — Can the U.S. Get There From Here?is a searching examination of the potential for reducing carbon pollution under existing federal laws and with state leadership.

It finds that, with ambitious action by the federal government and the states to curb carbon pollution, the United States can cut its emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

That hopeful news comes not a moment too soon, because the bad news about climate change is all around us.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently announced that 2012 was the tenth warmest year on record for the planet, continuing the trend of rising global temperatures in which each decade has been hotter than the one before.

In the continental United States, 2012 was the warmest year on record, with the second most extreme weather — record-breaking high temperatures, the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, widespread drought, rising corn prices, and grim wildfires. Eleven weather disasters in 2012 carried a greater than $1 billion price tag, with the recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy expected to top $60 billion. And while our cities are flooding, crops are dying, and forests are burning, Congress is fiddling.

So let's look more closely at WRI’s hopeful news about what we can achieve under existing laws.

The new report finds that progress in four key areas will be essential:

  1. Implementing rigorous federal carbon pollution standards for new and existing power plants, transitioning the power sector towards a cleaner, more modern, and more resilient electricity generation system
  2. Eliminating use and emissions of hydrofluorocarbons, extremely potent heat-trapping gases
  3. Developing comprehensive federal emission standards to stop the methane leaks in oil and gas extraction and transport processes
  4. Improving the energy efficiency of our economy

Leadership by states to cut emissions and invest in clean energy and efficiency will be needed to compliment and amplify action at the federal level.

The analysis also demonstrates that no matter how rigorous our nation is in carrying out existing laws to cut carbon pollution, we will need new legislation to achieve the deeper emission reductions climate science demands by mid-century.

In the meantime, there is much that we can do. Now. And with these actions, we can start to transform our aging energy infrastructure and forge a prosperous clean energy, low-carbon future.

This is my favorite sentence of the report:

[T]he single most important factor influencing emissions reductions is political and policy ambition.

Ambition matters. So let’s be ambitious here, where it matters so very much to our future, our children’s futures, and our planet’s future.

Posted in Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Partners for Change, Policy, What Others are Saying| Read 1 Response

A Great Day for Clean Air: Court Upholds EPA Actions to Reduce Climate Pollution

Today is a great day for climate progress in America.

Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a unanimous, strong and clear opinion affirming the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) historic measures to reduce harmful climate pollution. 

The court’s opinion held that EPA’s climate protections are firmly rooted in science and the law, and grounded in more than 18,000 peer-reviewed scientific publications.  

The court didn’t mince words. The decision says:

EPA’s interpretation of the governing CAA provisions is unambiguously correct.

Even sharper was this part of the decision, in which the court noted that EPA properly relied on comprehensive scientific assessments by authorities such as the National Academies of Science and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: 

This is how science works. EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question.

(Read more on EDF’s website, in our press release and our highlights page, and in our Texas Clean Air Matters blog)

But even in the wake of a compelling court opinion, some continue to focus on the politics of delay, deny and obstruct.  

Responding to the court’s decision, a representative of the National Association of Manufacturers indicated today that it will continue to invest in lawyers and lobbyists to block clean air progress, telling AP:

[w]e will be considering all of our legal options when it comes to halting these devastating regulations.

Fortunately, there are many more who are investing in America’s future. Business leaders, numerous states, and policy makers are working together to reduce harmful carbon pollution. 

America’s automakers defended EPA’s common sense measures to make our cars more efficient, which will save families' hard-earned money at the gas pump, help break our addiction to imported oil, and reduce climate pollution.

In filings in federal court, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers have characterized these important standards as:

valid, mandated by law, and non-controversial.

Similarly, a dozen states – California, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington – have intervened in defense of EPA’s clean car standards. 

And small business voices spoke out today in support of EPA’s clean air measures, saying these measures:

are strongly supported by small business owners because they will boost their bottom lines and help secure our nation’s position in the emerging clean energy economy. 

The court’s decision today reaffirms that a strong, diverse set of voices stand ready to work together, building from the bedrock foundation of this historic decision to reduce climate pollution and build a stronger America.

Our EDF experts are poring through all 82 pages of the decision. Stay tuned for more in-depth analysis about what it means, and where we go next.

But for right now, we should all take a moment to celebrate this great news.

Posted in Clean Air Act, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News, Policy, Science, What Others are Saying| Comments are closed

EPA's Historic Proposal to Limit Carbon Pollution from Power Plants

Today we are making history. 

Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the first-ever nationwide emission standards to limit dangerous carbon pollution from new coal- and gas-burning power plants. 

Today we take the first critically important step towards addressing the climate-destabilizing pollution emitted by power plants. 

Today we take a vital step towards protecting Americans’ health and strengthening our economy.

With these standards and EPA's landmark clean car standards, we’re beginning to address the clear and present danger of carbon pollution from the two largest emission sources in our nation.

Power plants are responsible for 40 percent of the carbon pollution emitted in America. U.S. power plants are one of the largest sources of carbon pollution in the world. 

Power plants are responsible for 40% of carbon pollution emitted in the U.S.

We have the technology and the know-how to change this.

The carbon pollution emission standards proposed by EPA today would halve the carbon emissions from a new coal-fired power plant over its lifetime. 

These standards will help further the progress we are making towards a cleaner, more secure future for energy in America. We will use our nation's electricity resources more efficiently to cut energy costs for families and businesses, mobilize Made in the USA technologies and fuels for cleaner energy generation, and ensure that America will lead the global race to a clean energy economy.

States, communities and businesses across our nation are already leading the way:

  • 29 states have adopted policies to expand reliance on cost-effective clean energy resources.
  • States including Washington, Montana, Oregon, Minnesota, New York and California have adopted (or are now putting in place) limits on dangerous carbon pollution from fossil-fueled power plants.
  • A McKinsey & Company report found that we could meet our nation's growing electricity needs by using existing resources more wisely — and could cut energy costs for American families and businesses at the same time.
  • Innovative businesses like Solar City are creating new solutions and technologies to deliver cleaner, safer energy. Solar City, founded in 2006, is installing solar systems that lower utility bills with no upfront investment by the customer. Solar City has 20,000 projects in 14 states that are either completed or underway– including a one billion dollar project to put solar systems on military housing.
  • Hundreds of U.S. companies are capitalizing on new, multibillion-dollar market opportunities to make our electric grid as smart, flexible, and innovative as the internet — enabling a wholesale shirt to clean, community-based energy resources.

There are also fundamental shifts in the energy market that are driving a change in our electricity supply.

Much has been written about the structural market shift to natural gas, which has been enabled by new drilling technologies. Some have tried to deny this market shift and claim that EPA’s clean air protections are stopping new coal plants, but the truth is that basic economics — low natural gas prices— are driving these decisions.  But don't take our word for it. Check out these quotes.

  • Jim Rogers is the CEO of Duke Energy, which provides electricity to the Carolinas, Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. He told the National Journal:

The new climate rule is in line with market forces anyway. We're not going to build any coal plants in any event. You’re going to choose to build gas plants every time, regardless of what the rule is.

  • Thomas Fanning, CEO of Southern Company, recently told investors on an earnings call on January 25, 2012:

Four years ago…we were about 70% of our energy from coal and about, I don’t know, 16% from nuclear, about 12% from gas and the balance from hydro.  In the fourth quarter — this was really surprising to me, maybe not surprising considering how cheap gas is now – our energy production was 40% coal, 39% gas. … Now moving forward, given where gas prices are, we will continue to see much more gas production.

Inexpensive natural gas is the biggest threat to coal. Nothing else even comes close.

The immense natural gas resources recently made commercially accessible in the United States must be developed responsibly if we are to protect our water and ecosystems, and prevent wasteful leakage that will undermine the carbon pollution advantages of natural gas.  But America can meet this urgent challenge.

We also know how to harness the power of the wind, the sun, and geothermal resources. By making the energy foundation of our economy cleaner and more diverse, we will improve our national security, improve public health, and protect our climate.  Today we took a big step down that road.

The stakes are high.

Climate impacts are already affecting American communities, and scientists tell us that the impacts will intensify as atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions rise.

The United States Global Change Research Program has determined that if carbon pollution emissions are not reduced, it is likely that American communities will experience increasingly severe impacts, including:

  • Rising levels of dangerous smog in cities — which will lead to an increased risk of respiratory infections, more asthma attacks, and more premature deaths
  • Increased risk of illness and death due to extreme heat
  • More intense hurricanes and storm surges
  • Increased frequency and severity of flooding
  • Increases in insect pests and in the prevalence of diseases transmitted by food, water and insects
  • Reduced precipitation and runoff in the arid West
  • Reduced crop yields and livestock productivity
  • More wildfires and increasingly frequent and severe droughts in some regions

I mentioned earlier that American states, communities and businesses are already taking steps to address these threats. Starting today, they don’t have to do it alone. With today’s announcement, our entire country will fight the widespread and varied threats we face from climate change.

I think EPA deserves a standing ovation for that.  

Please join me in supporting EPA’s efforts to protect our families, our communities, and our economy from these threats. 

The resistance to these standards by entrenched fossil fuel-dependent industries will likely be fierce, but together our voices can move these vitally important policies forward. 

Posted in Clean Air Act, Economics, Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Health, News, Policy| Read 1 Response
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