Climate 411

Pennsylvania has cost-effective opportunities to reduce carbon pollution – new report

Six states could see significant opportunity and low costs if they put in place protections against carbon pollution from the electricity sector, according to a new report.

The report, by Resources for the Future, looked at Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan.

It found that taking two steps – setting a binding, declining limit on power sector carbon pollution, and creating a flexible, market-based mechanism to achieve that limit – could reduce cumulative carbon pollution by 25 percent in the next decade at low cost. The findings also suggest that even greater ambition is feasible for the six states.

Thirteen states not covered by the report already have – or are about to have – regulations that limit carbon pollution from their electricity sector. Other states, including Pennsylvania, are actively seeking opportunities to reduce emissions and deploy clean energy.

The new report has three key takeaways for Pennsylvania:

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Also posted in Carbon Markets, Cities and states, Energy, Policy / Comments are closed

Latest EPA climate pollution data shows disturbing lack of progress

Greenhouse gas emission trends since 1990. Click to expand

The Environmental Protection Agency yesterday reported that that the US made essentially no progress on climate pollution — an insignificant drop of 0.5% — even as scientists warn that without major reductions in emissions, global temperatures are on a dangerous track to increase well above 2 degrees Celsius.

Other data indicates that since 2017, the last year covered by this report, emissions have actually begun to rise. The Energy Information Agency and Rhodium Group estimate that in 2018 climate pollution from energy combustion rose 2.8 and 3.4%, respectively.

As climate pollution remains stubbornly high, the Trump administration has worked to undermine limits on carbon pollution, roll back rules on highly potent methane emissions and ducked international obligations to deal with climate change. This new report is another sign that without bold action, climate pollution will cause worsening impacts on our economy, health and future.

The dismal national climate pollution numbers contrast with pollution reductions underway in many states that have put in place aggressive policies to limit emissions and move towards clean energy even while the federal government sits on the sidelines. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Air Act, Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Policy, Science / Comments are closed

Andrew Wheeler takes the helm at EPA. What’s next for crucial safeguards?

Just last week, the Senate confirmed Andrew Wheeler as EPA administrator. His installation signals a broader pivot point in defending EPA safeguards.

Over the last two years, the Trump administration’s efforts to categorically suspend crucial safeguards without public notice or comment failed across the board.

Looking ahead, Wheeler has almost two years to build on his troubling record by finalizing numerous deeply harmful major rollbacks. These rollbacks, if successful, risk thousands of premature deaths, hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks, and billions of tons of additional climate-destabilizing pollution.

We need to be making more, faster progress towards a clean energy and transportation future – not tearing down the safeguards we have in place.

Here’s a look at where we stand on three major issues — the opportunities we could seize, as well as the challenges ahead.  Read More »

Also posted in Cars and Pollution, Cities and states, Clean Air Act, Clean Power Plan, Energy, EPA litgation, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Health, Jobs, News, Policy / Read 2 Responses

A growing call for environmental integrity

The recent introduction of bipartisan carbon fee legislation is demonstrating an important pattern taking hold as policymakers focus on climate change solutions. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, like the MARKET CHOICE Act introduced earlier this year by Republican Rep. Curbelo, recognizes that any carbon fee aimed at meeting the challenge of climate change must be designed with environmental performance in mind.

The new legislation is the first time in a decade that lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have come together to put forth serious climate policy. And like the MARKET CHOICE Act, it uses a fee to reduce pollution across the economy and includes “environmental integrity mechanisms” (EIMs) — provisions that tie a carbon fee to clear, measurable pollution reduction goals and keep us on track to meet those goals. EIMs are still a relatively new concept on the climate policy scene, but leading thinkers have begun to pay them significantly more attention, and it is clear they are emerging as a critical component of any serious carbon fee proposal: and with good reason.

A carbon fee – which sets a price per unit of pollution – prompts the economy to respond by providing powerful incentives to reduce that pollution, but it cannot guarantee the environmental result. While energy and economic modeling tools can provide critical insight into possible or likely outcomes, they cannot provide certainty over the magnitude of the impact. That’s why it is critical to include EIMs designed to provide greater assurances that a fee will deliver on its pollution reduction potential. Read More »

Also posted in Carbon Markets, Cars and Pollution, Climate Change Legislation, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Policy / Comments are closed

Bad news and good news on cutting climate pollution

Climate change is an urgent threat and we must overcome significant hurdles to address it — beginning with the reckless polices of the Trump administration.

Some countries are on track to meet their commitments under the Paris agreement, some are falling behind, and many will not start in earnest until compliance rules are agreed to at the UN climate conference in Poland.

The climate action story so far is a mix of positive and negative trends. As has been well-covered in the media, the US is trying to pull out of the Paris Agreement and global emissions rose in 2018. Those hard facts cannot be dismissed. But there are also larger market and technology trends which, combined with the actions of responsible governments, are creating some positive indications, too. Which side wins out will depend on the action of political leaders, investors, engineers, voters, and activists.

The positive examples below are not simply individual bits of good news, but signs of a world economy in the midst of transition: Read More »

Also posted in Clean Air Act, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News, Paris Agreement, Setting the Facts Straight / Comments are closed

Colorado Decides Whether to Adopt State Clean Car Standards – Here’s What You Should Know

This post was co-authored by EDF legal fellow Laura Shields.

Colorado will decide this week whether to join 13 other states and implement protective state clean car standards.

The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission will hold public meetings tomorrow and Friday – and then they’ll vote on whether the Centennial State will adopt standards to protect people from climate pollution and other dangerous pollution from cars.

The proposed standards follow current Governor John Hickenlooper’s executive order directing the state Air Pollution Control Division to establish a clean car program. Newly elected Governor Jared Polis has also expressed his strong support for the state clean car standards.

Here are a few more things you should know before this week’s vote:

Colorado can drive health, environmental and economic protections forward – while the Trump administration takes the nation in reverse

State leadership on climate security and public health initiatives has never been more important.

The Trump administration has proposed to roll back our national Clean Car Standards, but Colorado’s adoption of state clean car standards will protect important environmental and economic benefits in the state.

In joining the coalition of states that have adopted more protective programs, Colorado can also help other states take up state clean car standards, thus catalyzing the important leadership of states all across the country who are protecting climate and clean air safeguards in the wake of damaging Trump administration rollbacks.

The coalition of states implementing state clean car standards currently covers more than a third of the new car market. As this coalition grows, states can ensure the health, environmental, and economic benefits of cleaner cars for their residents even in the absence of a protective national program.

State clean car standards will secure significant air pollution reductions in Colorado

EDF analysis indicates that Colorado’s adoption of the state clean car standards will bring significant climate and health benefits to the state, securing statewide climate pollution reductions of more two million metric tons annually in 2030, and more than four million metric tons annually in 2040.

The standards will also  secure important reductions in smog-forming volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides. Smog causes serious health problems, including asthma attacks, long-term lung damage, and premature death.

The Regional Air Quality Council, which is responsible for air quality planning in the Denver Metro–North Front Range region, voiced strong support for Colorado’s adoption of clean car standards to guard against impacts of the Trump administration’s proposed national Clean Cars rollback, saying:

“Any increase in future automobile emissions that impact local air quality and/or our climate is unacceptable.”

Colorado’s adoption of state clean car standards will also move the state closer to achieving its climate pollution reduction goals, which is now more important than ever.

State clean car standards will bring massive cost savings to all Coloradans 

Colorado’s adoption of the state clean car standards will protect the fuel cost savings Coloradans would realize under the national Clean Car Standards.

An analysis by MJ Bradley & Associates shows that the average Colorado family could save more than $2,300 in net cost savings over the first six years of car ownership – or almost $400 each year – at the gas pump. The extensive fuel cost savings far offset increased technology costs.

Colorado’s lower-income families stand to gain even more from the state’s adoption of a state clean car program. Additional analysis shows that under the current national standards lower-income households save a higher percentage of their annual income compared to higher-income households. Adoption of the state clean car standards will protect these cost savings and ensure that Colorado’s lower-income families are not disproportionately impacted by the Trump administration’s damaging rollback.

Colorado clean car standards have broad support

Colorado’s proposed adoption of a state clean car program has received broad support from a diverse set of stakeholders.

A local government coalition of ten cities and counties – including the City and County of Denver, Jefferson County Public Health, the City of Fort Collins, and the County of Pueblo – has urged adoption of the standards:

“Many Colorado communities are already experiencing the impacts of a warming climate in the form of reduced snowpack, earlier snowmelt, increased risk of high-intensity wildfires and their associated air pollution, extreme weather events, and an increased number of ‘high heat’ days. Far from being a problem of the future, climate change is impacting Coloradans now in a number of ways … Continuing a clean car program that includes the most stringent reductions possible is critical to achieving Colorado’s climate commitments.”

The American Lung Association expressed strong support for Colorado’s adoption of state clean car standards in the face of the Trump administration’s proposed rollback:

“As the federal government takes steps to weaken our national vehicle emissions programs, adopting stronger vehicle standards provides assurances that our residents will be protected to the greatest extent possible under the Clean Air Act – even if the federal standards move backwards.”

A coalition of Colorado businesses commented in support of Colorado’s adoption of low-emission vehicle and zero-emission vehicle standards, noting the positive impact a state clean car program will have on the Colorado’s business community:

“[Electric vehicles] have lower maintenance costs and both [zero-emission vehicles] and [low-emissions vehicles] have lower fuel costs, reducing the risks associated with fuel cost and supply volatility. These savings benefit not just our bottom line, but also our commuting employees and customers.”

The Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association (MECA) applauded Colorado’s commitment to state clean car standards:

“MECA commends the Colorado [Air Quality Control Commission] for taking important steps through this proposed rulemaking to reduce criteria pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions from light-duty vehicles in the state.”

Colorado’s adoption of state clean car standards will bring immense benefits to residents of the state, and will position Colorado as a leader in implementing policies that improve climate security, protect human health, and save our families hard-earned money.

Also posted in Cars and Pollution, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News, Partners for Change, Policy / Comments are closed