Category Archives: Partners for Change

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.

Also posted in Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Policy, What Others are Saying | 1 Response, comments now closed

Our Newest Clean Air Ally – Actress Julianne Moore

Those of us following the debate over clean air regulations are used to hearing frequent comments from key players – power plant executives, politicians, environmentalists, doctors.

But every once in a while, we get a truly original point of view. 

Like today – in this animated video from actress Julianne Moore.

Moore taped the video for Moms Clean Air Force (MCAF), a nonpartisan group of moms (and dads, and grandparents, and others) who want cleaner and healthier air for their kids.  

Moore is a well-known actress, children’s book author, and activist for a variety of children’s causes. She narrates the new video with the help of the cartoon-character stars of her Freckleface Strawberry books.

In a blog post on the MCAF website, Moore writes:

Sometimes being a good mom means being an active citizen. That’s why I joined Moms Clean Air Force. Moms are banding together. We are making our voices stronger. We are fighting for our children. Together, we are telling politicians to protect our right to clean air.

Moms Clean Air Force was launched last summer and now has almost 50,000 members. (EDF has worked with them from the beginning).

Since the launch, MCAF has gotten other celebrities – including Blythe Danner, Laila Ali, and Jessica Capshaw – to join. Danner and actresses Maya Rudolph and Christina Applegate have also taped video for the group.

Also posted in Clean Air Act, News | Comments closed

In Defense of Unlikely Partnerships

Jigar Shah's blog post about The Climate War made me sad. Not because he missed the point of my book or had unkind things to say about people I admire — the man is entitled to his opinion. The piece saddened me because it gave voice to an incredibly damaging green stereotype: the notion that we enviros are ideological purists more interested in being right than being successful, and that we can’t work with anyone who doesn’t meet our high standards.

I'd thought Shah knew better. After all, he runs an NGO that works with industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions–and he and I have even discussed the need to reach out to corporations if we're going to turn the carbon tide. (I call it the Willie Sutton rule: If you want to cut pollution, you have to talk to polluters.) That's certainly the approach of Environmental Defense Fund, which Shah disparages in his post. EDF has always embraced the power of unlikely partnerships, including the one with Duke Energy that so annoys Shah.

Shah criticizes EDF and its president, Fred Krupp, for working with Duke CEO Jim Rogers in the fight to pass climate legislation, and "for not holding Rogers to a high enough standard before giving him a seal of approval." Shah writes that Krupp was "charmed" by Rogers and blind to Duke's environmental record. To make that demonstrably inaccurate argument, Shah ignores all of the times EDF has gone into battle against Duke. Here are just a few:

  • EDF sued Duke Energy to force it to install pollution scrubbers on old power plants when it refurbished them. EDF took the case all the way to the Supreme Court and won in a 9-0 ruling handed down in 2007. The case, Environmental Defense, et al. v. Duke Energy Corp, is a landmark of environmental law. Shah doesn't mention it.
  • When Duke proposed to build two massive new coal units in North Carolina, EDF and its partners challenged the need for the plants before the North Carolina Utilities Commission pointing to cleaner and more cost-effective alternatives. We secured a landmark decision in which the Commission denied Duke's request for one of the two units.  
  • EDF and its allies sued Duke again over its plan to build the Cliffside Unit 6 power plant, the remaining coal unit, without first determining whether the plant would meet Clean Air Act standards. EDF won again, and the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld this victory.
  • When Duke sued to block federal clean air standards requiring far-reaching pollution reductions from eastern coal plants, EDF stepped in. And we successfully reversed the court decision halting the implementation of these vital clean air protections while EPA took corrective action. 
  • Shah writes that Duke fought a proposed renewable portfolio standard in North Carolina and backed off “under heavy pressure.” He doesn’t mention that much of that pressure came from EDF, which was a leader in passing the renewable standard.

EDF, in other words, is more than willing to stand up to polluters–but it will also sit down with them if there's a chance to make progress on key goals. That's why, in the middle of these courtroom battles, Krupp and Rogers began working together to pass comprehensive climate legislation. Duke joined EDF in a coalition called the United States Climate Action Partnership, or USCAP. In The Climate War, I describe their uneasy alliance–squaring off during tough negotiations over the contours of the bill, collaborating on ad campaigns and opinion pieces, jawboning senators and congressmen in a multi-year effort to cap carbon. Along the way, Duke even resigned from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity and the National Association of Manufacturers because those two groups were devoted to killing climate legislation.

Shah doesn't acknowledge that Rogers' support was crucial to passing climate legislation in the House, and he never mentions the real opponents of the bill or the myriad social and political forces that were allied against us. He claims that Rogers was “only involved in climate legislation efforts to make sure that new laws enrich his shareholders."

That's a simplistic view of a complicated figure. And if Shah is waiting for power bosses like Rogers to support legislation out of the goodness of their hearts, he's going to be waiting a long time. Altruism is not going to get this done. The whole point of climate legislation is to give polluters a reason to clean up — to create incentives for doing the right thing instead of the wrong thing. Fred Krupp never held any illusions that Rogers or other the members of USCAP were trying for sainthood. These companies fought for climate legislation because they saw it as vital to their long-term economic well-being. That’s the point.

Of course Duke's environmental record is mixed. My book lays out those facts in great detail. For Shah, that’s reason enough to shun Rogers. The title of his piece asks whether enviros should work with their “enemies”– and since Duke is not always on our side, he believes that makes it an enemy. That approach –“you’re either with us or you’re against us”– has failed us too often. It’s time we retired it for good. Environmentalists should not be an elite fraternity that refuses to consort with those who are less enlightened.

The people at EDF understand that. They deal with the world as it is, not as they wish it to be. That's why, when I decided to leave journalism and join the environmental movement, EDF is where I chose to hang my hat. I've been here less than a month, and in that time we've launched tough actions against American Electric Power, which is trying to delay new air pollution standards, and United and Continental airlines, which have been greenwashing while opposing common sense rules to reduce pollution. We're calling out corporations who delay progress while cooperating with those willing to clean up. We're interested in working with anyone who wants to march down the path to a clean energy future. But we never have, and never will, demand that they march in lockstep.

Also posted in Climate Change Legislation, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Policy | Comments closed

Hall of Fame Goalie Mike Richter Calls for Action on Climate Change

A new voice has joined the chorus demanding action on climate change — one that will be familiar to any winter sports fans reading this.

Hockey legend Mike Richter says he worries that future generations of children won't be able to skate on frozen ponds the way he did when he was young.

The Hall of Fame goalie, who led the New York Rangers to a Stanley Cup victory in 1994 and helped the U.S. Olympic team win a silver medal in Salt Lake City in 2002, just wrote an op ed about climate change that ran in the Buffalo News, the Pittsburgh Tribune Review and the Juneau Empire, among other papers.

In it, he says:

I wish we could turn back the clock. I want my boy's generation to enjoy the same rich opportunities as I had. I worry for the future of the game that I love. I worry for the future of our economy, our national security and our planet.

Richter, who has spoken out about other environmental issues in the past, has also talked about climate change in radio interviews he did during this year's Winter Olympics. You can hear some of his comments on Philadelphia's WPEN radio.

Richter was also a guest speaker at a recent Business Advocacy Day, when 200 small business leaders from around the country came to Washington to lobby for a strong clean energy and climate bill. Check out this picture of Richter talking to the audience of business pioneers (and EDF staffers who worked on the event).

Also posted in What Others are Saying | Comments closed

Two Vets' Groups Speak Out: Climate Change is a National Security Issue

Two groups of American veterans, military and national security leaders are calling on Congress to take action on clean energy legislation.

Last week we told you about Partnership for a Secure America — a new group that's calling for a climate bill for the sake of our national security. Now the group has released a signed statement calling for "a clear, comprehensive, realistic and broadly bipartisan plan to address our role in the climate change crisis."

The statement is signed by 32 heavy-hitters from national politics and the military, and from all over the political spectrum.

At the same time, our friends at Vote Vets are launching a new national TV ad campaign. From their website:

Featuring Iraq War Veterans, (the ad) makes the case that oil profits to the Middle East fund the same terrorists we’re fighting, and closes with the line that “It’s not just a question of American energy, it’s a question of American power."

Vote Vets has also sent more than one hundred veterans to Washington D.C. this week to push for passage of a bill. They are working with a coalition of other veterans and security groups called Operation Free.

Also posted in Climate Change Legislation | 1 Response, comments now closed

America's Veterans Speak Up for Clean Energy

America's military leaders and veterans have been telling us for a while that developing clean energy is key to our national security. Now there's a new voice that's spreading that message.

The Partnership for a Secure America will host an event next Tuesday in Washington, DC, to call for bipartisan action and a “unified American strategy” on climate change, energy and national security. Here are the event details, and more about who's involved.

Posted in Partners for Change | 1 Response, comments now closed

Three Ways to Support Clean Energy Today

For the last few weeks, Senators and Congressmen have been back in their home states, listening to voters' concerns and priorities. August is winding down, and they will soon head back to Washington to make laws.

This is your last chance to make sure they hear your voice. Here's how:

  • Make a call.  The Environmental Defense Action Network just launched  a new tool that makes it easy to call your Senators. The Senate needs to hear from you, so call and ask your friends to do the same!
  • Check the calendar. Town hall meetings are winding down, but you might still have a chance to speak up for clean energy. Find a town hall meeting in your state (scroll to the bottom of the page).
  • Raise a ruckus online. Don't let the small but loud opposition drown out the support for clean energy! Make your voice heard on the social networks.

And looking ahead to September, those of you in and near New York City can check out NYC's Climate Week, a series of events planned to build momentum building up to the U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen.

Posted in Partners for Change | Comments closed

First Shot Fizzles in the "Economic War on the Midwest"

Indiana Representative Mike Pence famously called the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 an example of the East and West Coasts "declaring economic war on the Midwest."

So you'd think that now that the bill has passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Americans in the heartland would be up in arms. But…not so much.

In fact, some of the largest and most respected media outlets in the Midwest and other traditional coal and oil states are accepting of the bill, even happy with it. Here are a few  highlights from the last week:

"Gov. Mitch Daniels and U.S. Reps. Mike Pence and Steve Buyer have some significant non-allies in their vehement opposition to the carbon reduction legislation now moving through Congress. Among them are most of the Midwest's governors, who already have signed a regional cap-and-trade agreement; and Indiana's largest electric utility, whose boss accepts the need for congressional action and insists it will benefit rather than punish this coal-dependent region – if the region's leadership pulls up to the table."
Indianapolis Star editorial, May 28, 2009

"Each generation is asked to generate new ideas that will make our nation a world leader. Clean energy could be our next big discovery…Our nation can stick with the status quo and continue to fall prey to $4-a-gallon gas – the straw that broke the economy's back – and environmental disasters such as the Kingston Fossil Fuel Plant spill, or change directions and move toward cleaner energy."
Daily News Journal (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) editorial, May 28, 2009

"Climate change imposes very real costs on all of us, on our children and on our grandchildren. We are subsidizing current energy prices at the expense of our progeny. The longer we defer payment, the higher those costs will be … It's as if we are financing our lifestyle with an interest-only mortgage. There's a big balloon payment looming in our future, but we've refused to set anything aside to pay it … the cap-and-trade bill represents an important advance because it has a realistic chance of being approved. If we do not start reducing our global warming liabilities now, we will be overwhelmed with the debt later."
St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial, May 28, 2009

"The American Clean Energy and Security Act unveiled this week is not perfect, but it's a smart step toward reducing carbon emissions without destroying American industry and jobs … The Waxman-Markey bill is a plan the Congress should accept."
Bristol (Tenn.) Herald-Courier editorial, May 22, 2009

"While the do-nothing crowd stews on the sidelines, those committed to doing something about climate change are fully engaged … it's not just tree-hugging environmentalists. It's not just Democrats. It's not just climatologists. It's leaders of many stripes answering the call on the biggest issue facing our planet … Texas being the nation's petrochemical capital, it can't sit on the sidelines when guidelines are written."
Waco Tribune-Herald editorial, May 22, 2009

"If done properly, cap and trade would be a responsible compromise as the federal government attacks the problem of global warming. Obama and the Democratic leadership must stand firm during debate on the cap and trade policy. The final bill ought to contain strict, fair rules on who should pay to reduce greenhouse gases and how much it could cost."
Kansas City Star editorial, May 20, 2009

Also posted in What Others are Saying | Comments closed

Man of Steel Comes to Washington

Today, I am heading to Capitol Hill with John Fetterman, mayor of Braddock, Pa.  Mayor Fetterman recently lent his voice to Environmental Defense Action Fund’s "Carbon Caps=Hard Hats" ad campaign, which calls on Congress to pass climate change legislation.

On this Earth Day, the House Energy and Commerce Committee is holding hearings centered around the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES), and they asked the mayor to come talk about jobs.

Braddock used to be a booming steel town. When the steel manufacturing sector left in the 1970s, Braddock gradually slumped, falling from a population of 20,000 to 2,000.

When John Fetterman first came to Braddock, he saw potential, thinking not as an environmentalist, but as a citizen wanting to revitalize a community. He sees Braddock, and other cities that depend on steel (like Akron, Ohio, and Detroit, Mich.,), ready for economic growth. He has a vision of restoring jobs that left with the steel industry. And what can trigger that growth is a cap on carbon.

So today, the mayor is on Capitol Hill to tell Congress that there are jobs in renewable energy and steel, and if they pass a carbon cap, there will be jobs in Braddock, Pa.

Also posted in Climate Change Legislation, News | 2 Responses, comments now closed

EDF Puts Faces On Climate Action

Cap Carbon photo contestEDF launched a photo contest today inviting concerned citizens to submit photos of themselves, their family, even their pets wearing their favorite hat and holding a sign calling for a national cap on carbon pollution.

This is a fun way to deliver a serious message: Our planet is in crisis and we need to act now.

A select group of photos will be incorporated into EDF's annual Earth Day video.   Anyone can submit a photo.  Here's how.

The deadline for photo submissions is April 14th.

 

Also posted in News | Comments closed
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