Climate 411

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

Experts condemn the Trump administration’s attack on strong Clean Car Standards

Americans are already speaking out in droves against the Trump Administration’s proposal to roll back America’s Clean Car Standards.

The proposal, if finalized, would increase pollution by billions of tons, cost consumers hundreds of billions of hard-earned dollars at the gas pump, and attack long-standing state leadership on clean cars.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are now accepting public comments (you can write to them here) and they’ll hold three public hearings in September – in Fresno, California; Dearborn, Michigan; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (The administration had originally announced hearings in Los Angeles, Detroit and Washington D.C. – then abruptly cancelled them with no explanation.)

But right from the beginning, before the public comment period even started, people across the country were voicing their concerns about rolling back these critical protections. Automakers themselves, including Ford and Honda, have disavowed the path the Trump administration is taking.

Here are a few of the more recent statements:

Read More »

Also posted in Cars and Pollution, Clean Air Act, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Health, Jobs, News, Partners for Change, Policy / Read 1 Response

The Trump-Wheeler Polluting Power Plan: Five Key Takeaways

(Ben Levitan and Rama Zakaria co-authored this post)

The Trump Administration just released another proposal with a title that would floor George Orwell himself.

Less than a month after releasing the Safer and More Affordable Fuel Efficient Vehicles Rule to make our cars less safe and less fuel efficient, Trump and Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler unveiled the Affordable Clean Energy proposal – a plan that is neither clean nor affordable.

This new Trump-Wheeler proposal, ostensibly a replacement for the Clean Power Plan, is actually a major retreat from securing clean and affordable energy for Americans. It would subject our nation to more soot and smog and would vastly increase climate pollution – harming our health in the near term and exacerbating climate damage for generations to come.

Here are five things you should know:

1. The Trump-Wheeler plan would increase pollution and cost American lives.

EPA’s own numbers show the Trump-Wheeler proposal could lead to more than 1,000 annual premature deaths in 2030, compared to leaving the Clean Power Plan in place.

EPA map showing concentrations of additional premature deaths from soot and smog, compared to America under the Clean Power Plan. The areas in red will suffer most. See the Regulatory Impact Analysis, page 4-39.

It could also cause tens of thousands of childhood asthma attacks and more than 100,000 missed school and work days annually.

In 2030, the annual increase in health-harming pollution from the Trump-Wheeler proposal (compared to the Clean Power Plan) would be:

  • Up to 72,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, which contributes to dangerous soot pollution
  • Up to 53,000 tons of nitrogen oxides, which play a major role in smog formation

Read More »

Also posted in Clean Air Act, Clean Power Plan, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Health, News, Policy / Read 1 Response

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

Read More »

Also posted in Clean Air Act, Clean Power Plan, Policy / Comments are closed

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).

Read More »

Also posted in Cars and Pollution, Clean Air Act, Jobs, News, Policy / Read 1 Response