Climate 411

Important climate rulemaking kicks off in Oregon: What we’re watching

Oregon Capitol

Oregon Capitol. PC: Zehn Katzen 

Yesterday kicked off the official start of the “Climate Protection Plan” rulemaking in Oregon, a process that is likely to answer whether Oregon will follow through on meeting its strong commitments to climate action. The stakes for this critical rulemaking are high: Oregon had one of its most destructive wildfire seasons on record last year and faces far more devastating climate impacts in the coming decades, if climate-warming pollution continues unchecked.

While Governor Brown’s climate executive order from last year provides reasons for hope, there are already some red flags appearing as Oregon’s lead environmental agency dives into this rulemaking. EDF analysis provided here reveals how the pace and scale of Oregon’s policy action will impact total emissions this decade— and ultimately determine long-term climate damages.

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Measuring the true impact of Colorado’s climate delay: Minding the emissions gap (Part 2)

After Colorado legislators passed landmark climate legislation in 2019, which included a statutory mandate directing the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) to adopt rules and regulations to reduce statewide emissions, the state has yet to even propose a policy framework capable of getting the job done. This three-part series explores the impact of Colorado’s delay, analyzing the impact on total emissions and the state’s ability to meet its own climate targets.

Hayden Generating Station

Hayden Generating Station (Hayden Station), a coal-fired power plant near Hayden, Colorado. PC: Jeffrey Beall.

This year started with promising climate news in Colorado: The state’s largest electric utility, Xcel Energy, announced it will close two of its coal-fired units sooner than planned and support plant workers through retraining and retirement opportunities. While this is a step in the right direction for Colorado’s clean energy future, much more policy action will be needed to meet the state’s statutory emissions goals.

In Part 1 of this series, EDF analysis uncovered the cumulative impact of the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission’s (AQCC) inaction on greenhouse gas emission reductions. Delays will have profound consequences for the total pollution that the state emits over the next decade, which could mean more severe long-term climate damages for Colorado communities and ecosystems. The AQCC’s refusal to seriously evaluate policy mechanisms for much faster and deeper reductions flies in the face of what Colorado legislators mandated in 2019. They set a clear timeline for the AQCC to swiftly propose regulations and reduce statewide emissions 26% by 2025, 50% by 2030 and 90% by 2050, all relative to 2005 emissions.

In Part 2 of this series, we dive into a recent EDF report and analyses released by both the state and other researchers that reveal how Colorado is far off track from achieving these upcoming 2025 and 2030 statutory targets under current policies. The state’s glaring ‘emissions gaps’ underscore the need for transformative leadership on a policy framework capable of securing the reductions consistent with our goals and protecting Coloradans for generations to come.

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Measuring the true impact of Colorado’s climate delay: Total pollution in the next decade (Part 1)

After Colorado legislators passed landmark climate legislation in 2019, which included a statutory mandate directing the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) to adopt rules and regulations to reduce statewide emissions, the state has yet to adopt a policy framework capable of getting the job done. This three-part series explores the impact of Colorado’s delay, analyzing the impact on total emissions and the state’s ability to meet its own climate targets.

Comanche coal power plant in Pueblo, Colorado.

When it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Colorado—like many other states with leading science-based climate commitments—has a disconnect between rhetoric and reality. Colorado is far from where it needs to be to meet its climate goals, and state regulators just recently slammed on the brakes on a small but important step forward.

After initially voting to accelerate three coal plant retirements as part of a Regional Haze rulemaking in November, state Air Quality Control Commissioners reversed their decision under pressure from the Polis administration to revert back to the later coal plant retirement dates volunteered by industry.

Yet new analyses from EDF, and those released by both the state and other researchers, underscore that Colorado can’t afford a cavalier approach to curbing climate-warming pollution. The state is still far from having a policy framework in place capable of cutting greenhouse gas emissions at the pace and scale required—and Colorado’s first emissions target is right around the corner in 2025.

EDF’s analysis on the impact that these delays will have on total emissions this decade—which will translate into long-term climate damages—underscores why Colorado urgently needs a policy framework that will deliver the ambitious emission reductions that science—and state law—demand.

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It’s time to unite behind next-generation clean car standards

The broad coalition defending America’s clean car standards is gaining key allies as Americans unite to build a pollution-free transportation future.

Led by Ford, automakers representing nearly half of the U.S. market have committed to working with California and the incoming Biden-Harris administration to enact ambitious policies that will create high-quality domestic jobs, protect our health, and confront the climate crisis. This is a good start, but we need all automakers to ditch the Trump administration’s clean cars rollback and advocate for next-generation standards that will make new light duty vehicles 100% pollution-free by 2035.

America’s clean car standards are among our most effective policies for reducing pollution exposure, cutting climate emissions, and creating good jobs. By driving innovation and cutting fuel costs, the model year 2017-to-2025 Clean Car Standards were projected to add hundreds of thousands of jobs and save Americans tens of billions of dollars at the gas pump each year. But the Trump administration rolled back the national standards and undermined longstanding state authority to set more protective standards. The Trump administration’s rollback would cost jobs and have devastating public health and environmental impacts, including an additional 18,500 premature deaths, 250,000 asthma attacks, and 1.5 billion tons of climate pollution — as much as running 68 coal plants for five years — by mid-century.

This is not what Americans want. A recent Pew Research Center poll showed that 71% of Americans support strengthening vehicle standards, not rolling them back.

EDF has joined a broad coalition of businesses, states, cities, experts, and environmental and public health groups in defending our clean car standards in court. We filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s attack on state authority and a second suit challenging its rollback of the national standards. (You can find all the legal briefs in the clean cars cases on our website.)  Leading transportation companies such as Lyft, Tesla, and Rivian have formed a key part of our coalition. But some automakers, including Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, GM, and Nissan, entered the litigation on the Trump administration’s side.

GM and Nissan have recently withdrawn their support of the administration’s attack on state authority, and GM has expressed its support for President-elect Biden’s vision of a zero emission transportation future. This is a welcome development, but it’s just a start. We need the entire industry to embrace ambitious policies, such as next-generation clean car standards that will create a million jobs and equitably transition the U.S. to 100% pollution-free new cars by 2035. These policies must prioritize eliminating pollution in environmental justice communities, and ensure that pollution-free vehicles and charging infrastructure are available to people of all colors and income levels.

And the automakers who are still backing Trump’s attack on state authority — looking at you, Toyota and Fiat Chrysler — need to follow their peers’ lead, for the sake of the climate, their customers, their employees, and their bottom line. Customer opinions of Toyota have dropped sharply in response to its stance on the clean car standards. This could have a big impact on sales if the company doesn’t shift out of reverse soon. Over 200 state and local officials from 26 states, and over 285,000 petitioners, have called on Toyota and Fiat Chrysler to do just that by investing in clean transport innovation, not litigation trying to prop up the Trump administration’s rollback.

If automakers need an example to follow, they should look no further than Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, BMW, and Volvo, who have been out in front supporting strong clean car standards and states’ authority to adopt them. In August, these five manufacturers entered bilateral agreements with California that recognize the state’s clean car authority and will prevent hundreds of millions of tons of climate pollution. The agreements earned the highest possible rating in EDF’s new Climate Authenticity Meter. One company that has taken its commitment a step further is Ford, which recently supported California’s bold commitment to make all new cars sold in the state zero-emitting by 2035.

As the growing support for transformative clean car standards shows, we face an incredible opportunity. Together, we can put a million Americans to work building the pollution-free cars that will make our air safer to breathe and steer us away from the climate cliff. We hope that all automakers will join us in pursuit of these shared goals.

Also posted in California, Cars and Pollution, Cities and states, Economics, EPA litgation, Green Jobs, Health, Jobs, Partners for Change, Policy / Read 1 Response

How the Biden-Harris administration can restore and strengthen U.S. climate leadership

After winning on the strongest climate platform of any major party presidential nominee in history, the Biden-Harris administration has a mandate to confront the existential crisis of climate change. This blog series will explore what it will take to restore and strengthen climate leadership both across the country and on the global stage.

Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

The leaders that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have selected for key positions send a clear, encouraging and necessary signal that climate action will be an embedded priority across the administration. This is promising news, as the mandate to address the climate crisis demands a “whole-of-government” approach that can improve public health and create jobs in communities from coast-to-coast, and launch a new era of consequential climate diplomacy with partners around the world.

A recent UN report underscores there is not a moment to lose: The world is on a dangerous path, heading toward a temperature rise in excess of 3°C this century. This projection comes as Americans have increasingly experienced the rising costs of climate change this year — from a record hurricane season in the Atlantic to wildfires that ravaged the West at an unprecedented scale.

This historic election made it clear that Americans want leadership that can tackle the biggest challenges of our time: the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recovery, racial justice and climate change. The new administration can achieve the most transformative progress by championing solutions that address the interconnectedness of these urgent priorities. Ambitious climate solutions are particularly well-suited to also help deliver on critical promises to jumpstart the economy and advance equity and justice. But how exactly should the new administration and new Congress get started? Action in three key areas will be critical to restoring and strengthening climate leadership.

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Analysis: North Carolina is off course for achieving a key emissions goal

As flooding, extreme heat and stronger hurricanes increasingly strain North Carolina’s communities and economy, new analysis from EDF shows that the state’s current policies are not enough to curb the worst climate impacts to come. Despite Governor Cooper’s commitments to slash climate-warming pollution, the analysis finds that the state is off course for bringing emissions down consistent with a key, science-based target for 2030. However, the state can still close its “emission gap” and get on track with a strong policy toolkit that includes placing enforceable limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

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