Selected category: Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Clean Power Plan: Opponents Have Already Conceded that EPA Has Authority to Regulate

(EDF Attorney Ben Levitan co-authored this post)

rp_Gavel-and-earth-from-Flickr-300x199.jpgTwo weeks from today, on September 27th, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will hear oral argument on the Clean Power Plan — our nation’s first-ever limits on dangerous, climate-destabilizing carbon pollution from power plants. Fossil fuel power plants are the country’s single largest source of this pollution, and among the world’s largest contributors to climate change.

As we’ve noted before, the Clean Power Plan has a solid legal foundation and is supported by many of the nation’s leading legal experts. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued similarly flexible, cost-effective pollution limits for decades under Republican and Democratic administrations alike, resulting in generations of healthier Americans and enormous economic benefits. Nevertheless, opponents of the Clean Power Plan — the coal industry, coal-intensive power companies and allied states — will almost certainly claim on September 27 that EPA has overstepped its bounds.

One particular claim you can expect to hear is that EPA does not have the authority to regulate carbon pollution from existing power plants under section 111 of the Clean Air Act because EPA has already regulated those same power plants — for entirely separate toxic substances like mercury, arsenic, acid gases and other hazardous air pollutants — under section 112 of the Clean Air Act. This bizarre theory is akin to arguing that a restaurant that has complied with health standards can’t be subject to the fire code.

This “pick your poison” legal theory is antithetical to the public health foundations of the Clean Air Act and utterly self-serving to the interests of polluters. Under this reading of the Clean Air Act, some dangerous pollution could be emitted in unlimited quantities no matter how much harm it inflicts upon our health and environment.

But opponents of the Clean Power Plan haven’t always sung this same tune. There are several prominent examples of Clean Power Plan opponents conceding EPA’s authority to regulate carbon pollution from existing power plants — sometimes even citing section 111 of the Clean Air Act, the very statutory provision that is the basis for the Clean Power Plan.

Here are some instances in which the Clean Power Plan opponents and their legal counsel have manifestly conceded EPA’s authority to limit the carbon pollution from existing power plants:

  • Concession #1: Attorney Peter Keisler, Representing Coal-Based Power Companies Before the U.S. Supreme Court, Concedes EPA’s Authority to Regulate Carbon Pollution from Existing Power Plants under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act

In American Electric Power v. Connecticut (2011), several states and land trusts sought to limit climate pollution from several power companies under federal common law. In the Supreme Court, the power companies successfully argued that action under common law was unwarranted because Congress had already given EPA the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under section 111.

During oral argument in the case, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked Peter Keisler — an attorney who represented the power companies in American Electric Power v. Connecticut and who is slated to present oral argument in the Clean Power Plan case — whether EPA had the authority to regulate climate pollution from existing power plants. Keisler responded that EPA did have authority — under the very same section that opponents of the Clean Power Plan now claim prohibits EPA from regulating those emissions.

We believe that the EPA can consider, as it’s undertaking to do, regulating existing nonmodified sources under section 111 of the Clean Air Act, and that’s the process that’s engaged in now. It’s announced that it will propose standards in the summer and complete a rulemaking by May. Obviously, at the close of that process there could be [Administrative Procedure Act] challenges on a variety of grounds, but we do believe that they have the authority to consider standards under section 111. (Attorney Peter Keisler, from transcript of oral argument in American Electric Power v. Connecticut, 564 U.S. 410 (2011) (No. 10-174), page 15, emphasis added)

Three years later, Keisler again appeared before the Supreme Court representing coal companies and coal-based power companies. This time he was challenging EPA’s authority to require limits on the climate pollution under a separate Clean Air Act program.  During oral argument in this case, Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, Justice Ginsburg asked Keisler to identify which sections of the Clean Air Act provide EPA with authority to regulate climate pollution. Keisler responded by citing the Court’s discussion of section 111 in American Electric Power v. Connecticut, where the central question was the regulation of climate pollution from existing power plants.

I think most critically, Your Honor, it includes the new source performance standards program of Section 111 that this Court discussed in Connecticut v. AEP. And this is a very important point, because [Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA] is not about whether EPA can regulate greenhouse gases from stationary sources. This Court held that it could under this program in Section [1]11. (Attorney Peter Keisler, from transcript of oral argument in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, 134 S. Ct. 2427 (2014) (No. 12-1146), page 18, emphasis added)

Crucially, this exchange occurred in February 2014 — more than two years after EPA issued the emission standards for mercury and air toxics that opponents now claim deprive EPA of the authority to issue the Clean Power Plan.

  • Concession #2: American Public Power Association and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

The American Public Power Association and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association — current petitioners against the Clean Power Plan — expressly supported Keisler’s position in American Electric Power v. Connecticut. Their amicus brief in that case specifically cited section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act — the same section under which EPA issued the Clean Power Plan — as a source of EPA’s authority to regulate the carbon pollution from existing power plants.

[The Clean Air Act] authorizes EPA to list categories of ‘stationary sources’ — i.e., non-mobile emissions sources, such as power plants — that ‘cause[ ], or contribute[ ] significantly to, air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare,’ and to establish federal performance standards for new or modified sources that fall within the listed category.  [Clean Air Act] § [1]11(b)(1)(A), (B). It requires states to issue performance standards for existing stationary sources in some circumstances, subject to EPA-promulgated guidelines. Id. § [1]11(d). (Brief of Amici Curiae Edison Electric Institute, American Public Power Association, and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in American Electric Power v. Connecticut, 564 U.S. 410 (2011), pages 6 and 7, emphasis added)

The brief goes on to note that section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act requires the establishment of emission standards for:

air pollutants that are not regulated under other provisions of the Clean Air Act, such as [greenhouse gases] (Brief of Amici Curiae Edison Electric Institute, American Public Power Association, and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in American Electric Power v. Connecticut, 564 U.S. 410 (2011), page 9)

This is directly contrary to the position these same opponents have taken in the Clean Power Plan litigation, in which they have written that EPA lacks authority to regulate carbon pollution even though that pollution is not regulated under other Clean Air Act programs.

  • Concession #3: Hunton & Williams’s “Clean Air Handbook”

The law firm Hunton & Williams has long represented coal-related interests that are currently challenging the Clean Power Plan. In recent legal filings, Hunton & Williams attorneys have made the same argument — that EPA lacks the authority to regulate carbon pollution from power plants because it already regulated those power plants for mercury and other hazardous air pollutants under section 112.

But in late 2014 — almost three years after EPA had issued its section 112 regulations, and two years before the recent legal filings — Hunton & Williams released a new edition of its “Clean Air Handbook” which correctly explained that EPA could regulate the same pollution source under both sections 111 and 112.

Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act governs the regulation of emissions from existing sources of air pollutants that are not listed as criteria air pollutants pursuant to section 108 of the Act or listed as hazardous air pollutants under section 112. (Hunton & Williams, Clean Air Handbook 4th ed., page 211, (2014) emphasis added)

Hunton & Williams’s explanation in its 2014 Handbook is entirely consistent with EPA’s approach — their explanation indisputably permits the Clean Power Plan’s limits on carbon emissions from power plants, which aren’t listed under sections 108 or 112.  Yet an attorney from Hunton & Williams is expected to present the exact opposite position at the Clean Power Plan oral argument, claiming that EPA can’t regulate the same source under sections 111 and 112.

In Hunton & Williams’ 2014 Handbook, this notion was relegated only to an endnote and described as an alternative “legal argument [that] exists.” (page 222, endnote 230 of the handbook)

  • Concession #4: Clean Power Plan Opponent Peabody and Its Attorney Laurence Tribe Endorsed EPA’s Expertise in Regulating Carbon Pollution from Existing Power Plants

Despite EPA’s long, successful history of regulating pollution from power plants, Clean Power Plan opponents argue in their briefs that EPA lacks the expertise to make the policy decisions that went into the Clean Power Plan. Yet previously, in American Electric Power v. Connecticut, the same industry litigants urged the courts themselves not to set climate pollution limits for power plants under the federal common law, arguing vigorously that EPA was more qualified to do so.

Peabody Energy Corporation’s brief in American Electric Power v. Connecticut, written by Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, explained that the Supreme Court had recognized EPA’s regulatory expertise:

This Court has opined, in recognizing EPA’s regulatory jurisdiction, that the judiciary has ‘neither the expertise nor the authority to evaluate [climate change] policy judgments …’ Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497, 533 (2007). (Brief of Amici Curiae Peabody Energy Corporation, Consumer Energy Alliance, and others in American Electric Power v. Connecticut, 564 U.S. 410 (2011), page 11, emphasis added, brackets in brief.)  

Tribe ultimately removed his name from that brief, but he continues to represent Peabody in litigation against the Clean Power Plan.

  • Concession #5: Peter Keisler Again

Peter Keisler, the attorney for the coal-based power companies, stated at oral argument for American Electric Power v. Connecticut that Congress created an orderly statutory framework under the Clean Air Act for EPA to regulate carbon pollution from power plants.

[T]here’s a reason that this issue is so fraught and difficult in international negotiations and at the EPA and in the halls of Congress, and that’s because it requires policymakers to allocate burdens among critical social goods in favor of important environmental considerations … [I]n a big intractable issue like this, Congress can often create an orderly framework for consideration within a statutory context, which it has done in part by enacting the Clean Air Act. [The Clean Air Act is implemented by EPA.] (Attorney Peter Keisler, from transcript of oral argument in American Electric Power v. Connecticut, 564 U.S. 410 (2011) (No. 10-174), page 64 and 65, bracketed sentence added)

What do all these contradictory statements reveal? Opponents of climate progress will tie themselves in knots coming up with legal arguments to oppose any limit on carbon pollution. Their opposition isn’t just to the Clean Power Plan, but to any required reductions in climate-harming pollution from existing fossil fuel power plants.

As communities across America confront tragic flooding, heat waves, rising sea levels, and other grim impacts of climate change, we need to overcome this obstructionism and work together to forge solutions. We need the Clean Power Plan to help protect our families and communities from the clear and present danger of climate change — we do not need a legalistic shell game to evade accountability and avoid common-sense solutions.

Also posted in Clean Air Act, Clean Power Plan, EPA litgation, News, Policy| Comments are closed

We just had five 1,000-year floods in less than a year. What's going on?

A 1,000-year flood is supposed to be extremely rare. Its chance of occurring in a given year: 0.1 percent.

So how do we explain that in the span of just five months, the United States logged no fewer than four deadly 1,000-year floods in states as widespread as Texas, West Virginia, Maryland and Louisiana – following a 1,000-year-flood that ravaged South Carolina last October.

It appears that the calculation of a 1,000-year event may no longer be the most accurate statistic. It was based, as are our increasingly common 100-year natural disaster events, on data from the past. We may, in other words, already have shifted so far into a new climate regime that probabilities have been turned on their head.

Climate change “supercharges” normal weather

Like any climate scientist will tell you, there is more to the story than what you see on the surface.

All climate and weather events are influenced to some degree by both natural climate variations and human-made climate change. The amount that each of these influences can exert on a particular event can theoretically range from 0 to 100 percent.

Rigorous scientific analysis has found that the extreme rainfall that caused a Texas flooding in May of 2015, for example, was caused by a fairly typical rainfall pattern associated with that year’s El Niño, a naturally occurring climate cycle, which had been supercharged by human-made climate change.

Working in tandem, these two phenomena together produced one of the largest multi-day flooding events Texas has ever experienced.

Recent floods continue the trend

But what about more recent floods like the one in Baton Rouge or Ellicott City, Maryland?

Attributing short-term extreme weather events to climate change is not a trivial exercise, even as the science of climate attribution has advanced rapidly over the last decade.

Using high-powered models and complex statistical analysisof observations, credible scientific statements can now be made about how climate change affect the frequency or intensity of a specific weather event.

There is an inevitable time delay between the occurrence of an event and the complete dissection of its various causes. This is why we cannot yet say with certainty that last month’s flooding in Baton Rouge, or the flash flood that devastated Ellicott City in July, were due to climate change.

71% more heavy rain since the 1950s

If you’re anything like me you don’t enjoy waiting for answers. So while it’s certainly wise to await the scientific analysis that is sure to be coming down the pike, we can still think about these events in the climate change context.

We know that as the global average temperature rises, more water evaporates from the oceans. This, in turn, increases the amount of atmospheric moisture that is available for storms to process into rainfall.

Increases in heavy downpours by region 1958-2012. Source: NCA

In fact, observations over the last 60 years indicate that over the United States, the amount of water falling in heavy rain events has increased substantially, and an astonishing 71 percent over portions of the mid-Atlantic and northeastern U.S.

In other words, if there were two storms with an identical structure over Boston, Massachusetts – one in 1955 and one in 2016 – the one in 2016 would, on average, produce 71 percent more rainfall.

Bottom line is that the heavy rainfall and disastrous flooding events that we continue to experience are certainly consistent with what the science tells us about the impacts from increasing global temperatures.

These floods are another reminder that we must change that trajectory.

Photo source: Flickr

Posted in Greenhouse Gas Emissions| Comments are closed

Praise for the New Standards for Cleaner Freight Trucks

Earlier this week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation announced new greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, and they’ve been winning praise and support ever since.

The extraordinary and far-reaching support for the new Clean Truck standards ranges from leading public health organizations to the companies and workers who manufacture these vehicles, the businesses that depend on fleets of these vehicles, and the consumers who rely on goods and services delivered by these fleets.

Here are a few examples:

The continued focus on improving fuel efficiency will unlock new innovations that protect our environment and spur economic growth… The steps we have taken to boost the efficiency of our fleet across PepsiCo have significantly reduced emissions while lowering our operating costs, and we are committed to doing much more. We thank the Administration for its leadership on this issue and believe these new standards set the stage for continued progress.

– Indra K. Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo.

In our opinion, the phase two standards are balanced, with the EPA and NHTSA having done an excellent job of incorporating feedback from multiple stakeholders including manufacturers, fleet operators, private operators and environmental NGOs.

– Frito-Lay North America supply chain senior director Michael O’Connell (Frito Lay is a division of PepsiCo)

This new set of regulations will encourage innovation and has the potential to spur domestic economic growth … In the long-run, these regulations will make trucking operations in the United States stronger by reducing its dependence on oil and making our economy less vulnerable to the fluctuations of a single global commodity.

– Mike Britt, Director of Advanced Engineering for United Parcel Service (UPS) and Chair of the CALSTART Board of Directors

Eaton recognizes the importance of providing environmentally responsible solutions, so we are pleased with the new Phase II standards for medium and heavy duty commercial vehicles which will deliver significant fuel consumption and emissions reductions … These new standards ensure that we both satisfy customers and protect the environment.

– Craig Arnold, Eaton chairman and CEO

What the rule does is it brings clarity to the entire industry. … It helps us pace and justify our investments, an investment we are doing anyway.

– Mihai Dorobantu, director of technology planning and government affairs for Eaton

Our goal in this process was to work collaboratively with the agencies to simplify compliance while maximizing environmental benefits and overall cost savings for the fleets. I think we’ve achieved that.

– Dick Giromini, President and CEO of Wabash National

We’ve long supported standards that reduce emissions and improve the environment, particularly in the communities where we operate. That’s why we support the new Phase II standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks. It’s a win-win for our industry, our customers and communities – reducing emissions and saving fuel and money.

– David Steiner, CEO, Waste Management

[The standards] provide a long-term road map to make sure we develop the technology we’ll need in the marketplace … That’s a positive for us.

– Brian Mormino, Cummins executive director of environmental strategy and compliance

Many businesses view the term ‘good regulation’ as the ultimate oxymoron. But the latest fuel efficiency standards are a good example of government and industry working together to address a critical societal challenge.

– Alex Stark, Kane is Able, Modern Marketing Expert | Supply Chain Collaboration Evangelist

This is great news for the trucking industry and companies that are concerned about reducing their shipping costs. Because these vehicles are so large, even small improvements in fuel economy yield significant cost-savings through reduced oil use. This is yet another area where stronger environmental performance is better for businesses and the economy, too.

– Carol Lee Rawn, director of Ceres Transportation Program

We applaud the EPA, NHTSA and CARB for listening to public and industry input and raising the GHG emissions standards. This new rule will spur continued innovation in the transportation sector. We've seen again and again that regulation is useful – perhaps even essential – to drive the industry to embrace innovative technology to improve fuel economy, reduce petroleum consumption, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

–  David Johnson, president and CEO, Achates Power 

The vehicle efficiency standards released today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are a critical move forward in the fight for healthy air … We thank President Obama, the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for this important step to save lives and safeguard Americans’ health.

American Lung Association

The new rules are long-term, technology- and product-neutral, address the needs of consumers and industry, and promote healthy competition that benefits consumers, manufacturers and the economy overall. The trucking industry will benefit. Consumers will save. And the economy will thrive. It’s a win-win-win.

– Mark Cooper, Director of Research for the Consumer Federation of America

Under these vehicle standards, working in concert with sound manufacturing policy, American companies and workers are demonstrating that the nation can lead in combating climate change while creating American jobs and making America’s auto sector one of the most technologically advanced and competitive in the world. We are committed to seeing this trajectory continue.

– Kim Glas, Executive Director of Blue Green Alliance

There's no doubt the whole world will look at these standards and use them as a benchmark.

– Nic Lutsey, International Council on Clean Transportation

Also posted in Cars and Pollution, Policy| Comments are closed

Five things you need to know before the Clean Power Plan oral argument

alternative-21581_640The Clean Power Plan oral argument is coming up soon. On September 27, attorneys will present their arguments in front of the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

EPA and the many supporters of the Clean Power Plan have already filed their written arguments – and so has the coalition of coal companies and their allies that are challenging the rule. (You can read all their submissions here.) And just yesterday, the D.C. Circuit released the final order on the argument’s format and duration.

The Clean Power Plan is America’s first-ever nationwide program to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. It sets eminently achievable carbon emission targets that phase in gradually, in line with current power sector trends, while giving states and power companies tremendous flexibility to determine how best to meet these goals.

As we approach September 27, here are five key facts to keep in mind:

  1. The Clean Power Plan has supporters across the country.

Power companies and state and local officials in forty-one states are supporting the Clean Power Plan in court – either through their state attorney general, a local power company, or a municipality. And there are a lot more supporters as well.

The final submitted briefs reflect a wide array of important perspectives in our society. Supporters of the Clean Power Plan in court include:

  • Leading businesses. Power companies that produce about 10 percent of our nation’s electricity as well as prominent, iconic businesses including Adobe, Amazon, Apple, Google, IKEA, Mars, and Microsoft
  • States and municipalities. 18 states and 60 cities, including major cities in states that are litigating against these protections – like Houston, Grand Rapids, and Miami
  • Consumers Union and other organizations addressing the economic benefits for consumers and low income ratepayers from expansive, low cost clean energy solutions
  • 41 faith communities including the National Council of Churches and the Catholic Climate Covenant
  • Numerous renewable energy companies that are members of the Advanced Energy Economy, American Wind Energy Association, and Solar Energy Industries Association, which together represent more than 3,000 companies in the advanced energy sector, a $200 billion industry in the United States
  • 25 business associations including American Sustainable Business Council, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., as well as state associations from West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio, among others
  • Current and former members of Congress, including 36 sitting Senators and 157 sitting members of the House
  • Leading public health associations such as the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics
  • National security experts including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta
  1. The legal and technical foundation of the Clean Power Plan is rock solid.

The Supreme Court has affirmed EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act three times since 2007. In American Electric Power v. Connecticut (2011), the Supreme Court specifically held that section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act – the provision that underlies the Clean Power Plan – “speaks directly” to the regulation of carbon pollution from existing power plants.

EPA exhaustively analyzed the Clean Power Plan to ensure that it was based on the best available technical information and would not compromise the affordability or reliability of our electricity supply. EPA also reviewed millions of comments, received on every aspect of the proposed version.

A range of renowned experts have affirmed the robust legal and technical bases for the Clean Power Plan in amicus brief submissions to the D.C. Circuit, including:

  • The Institute for Policy Integrity — represented by New York University Law Dean Emeritus Richard Revesz
  • Former EPA Administrators William Ruckelshaus and William Reilly, who served under Presidents Nixon, Reagan and George H.W. Bush — represented by Harvard Law School’s Jody Freeman and Richard Lazarus
  • Leon Billings and Tom Jorling — the principal drafters of the 1970 Clean Air Act
  • Former state energy and environmental officials — including Larry Soward, Commissioner at the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality under Texas Governor Rick Perry
  • Premier electric grid experts, who affirmed that EPA’s approach is fully in line with on-going power sector trends
  • Top climate scientists, who articulated the latest research on observed and projected impacts from our changing climate
  1. The tremendous pace of clean energy development further reinforces the Clean Power Plan’s reasonableness.

The cost of renewable energy is falling at an extraordinary rate, spurring dramatic expansion in its use. The cost of new wind power has dropped 60 percent — and the cost of new solar by 80 percent — since just 2009.

Renewable energy is anticipated to make up approximately 63 percent of new capacity additions in 2016. In fact, the amount of new renewable energy capacity developed in the first three months of 2016 exceeded new natural gas by a factor of more than seventy to one. Almost 100 gigawatts of additional new renewable energy resources are now projected in the United States by 2020, and annual investment in energy efficiency has quadrupled in the last decade.

America’s powerful clean energy trends further buttress the feasibility of the Clean Power Plan’s targets. But you don’t have to take our word for it — because power companies have said so themselves.

In their Clean Power Plan filing, major power producers emphasized their strong support for the Clean Power Plan, highlighting that it “harnesses existing trends within the electricity sector” and was set “with ample margin and attention to what is practically attainable.”

As the companies noted, both they and the power sector in general have “have successfully reduced emissions within their generation portfolios without compromising reliability and will continue to do so” under the Clean Power Plan.

Dominion Resources, an owner of several large coal-fired power plants in the Mid-Atlantic, affirmed the feasibility of compliance in a lengthy amicus brief submitted in support of the Clean Power Plan.

  1. States and power companies are charging ahead.

On February 9, 2016, the Supreme Court stayed enforcement of the Clean Power Plan in an unprecedented order. Nonetheless, states and power companies are voluntarily moving ahead, in recognition of the tremendous value in following the Clean Power Plan’s flexible, sensible approach to achieving emissions reductions.

More than half of states are continuing to assess planning options under the Clean Power Plan. 14 states across the country have explicitly requested that EPA continue providing information and guidance to help them make informed decisions about potential Clean Power Plan obligations as they continue moving forward. California developed its proposed Clean Power Plan state plan in a year and released it for public comment earlier this month. State officials across the country have voiced support for sensible continued planning — as one Wyoming state legislator put it, “Wyoming should be prepared.” (See a full compilation of state statements on the Clean Power Plan here.)

Power companies across the country have expressed similar sentiments. A representative from Mid-American Energy highlighted that they “wish” the stay hadn’t happened, because of the resulting uncertainty. American Electric Power, a major producer of coal-fired electricity, said that the Supreme Court stay “doesn’t change our focus on the diversification of our generation fleet,” and those diversification plans include more gas and renewables. Power companies are already investing in clean energy in response to the market and their customers — for these companies, any delay in planning creates needless risk and uncertainty.

  1. This record-breaking summer highlights just how urgently we need sensible climate protections.

It’s challenging to encapsulate all the extreme weather we’ve witnessed in 2016. Just in the U.S., we’ve experienced a series of dangerous heat waves, deadly floods, and extreme storms. This week’s flooding in Louisiana is just the latest heart-rending example — with lives tragically lost and upended across the state. Yesterday, NASA announced that July 2016 was the warmest month ever in 136 years of modern record-keeping. According to the World Meteorological Organization, 2016 is firmly on track to be the warmest year yet. The Weather Channel noted all of these wild weather events from the first six months of 2016 together here, in a website on 2016’s “Weirdest Weather.” All these events are fully in line with the hotter, more extreme weather that’s predicted under a changing climate.

Meanwhile, new research only underscores the human health costs of climate change. Mitigating the human health impacts of climate change will add to the Clean Power Plan’s substantial health benefits from reducing soot and smog pollutants. EPA estimates that once the Clean Power Plan is fully implemented, these reductions will — every year — avoid 3,600 premature deaths, 1,700 heart attacks, 90,000 asthma attacks, and 300,000 missed workdays and schooldays.

These climate risks and essential health benefits highlight the importance of having a mandatory framework to ensure emissions reductions. Clean energy trends are already charging ahead, but investors need the certainty that the Clean Power Plan provides — and all Americans’ health and well-being are depending on it.

Also posted in Clean Air Act, Clean Power Plan, Economics, Energy, EPA litgation, Green Jobs, Health, Jobs, Policy| Comments are closed

New Standards for Cleaner Freight Trucks – By the Numbers

rp_Pepsi-truck-300x225.jpgThe Clean Truck standards are here!

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) just announced new greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

These are the second phase of EPA and DOT’s joint program for heavy-duty trucks.

They will apply to the freight trucks that transport the products we buy every day, as well as to buses and school buses, tractor-trailers, heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, and garbage trucks for model years 2018 to 2027.

These standards will have widespread benefits. They’ll help ensure that our nation’s fleet of trucks uses dramatically less fuel, will cut climate and other harmful pollution, and will save both truckers and consumers money. EPA and DOT estimate they will yield $230 billion in net societal benefits over the life of the program.

Here’s a bit more on the benefits of the new Clean Truck standards, by the numbers:

Cutting Pollution

  • 1.1 billion tons of carbon pollution: EPA projects the standards will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.1 billion tons over the lifetime of vehicles sold under the program.
  • 550,000 tons of nitrous oxides and 32,000 tons of particulate matter: EPA projects that the standards will have multi-pollutant benefits and result in significant reductions of nitrous oxides and particulate matter — harmful air pollutants associated with respiratory ailments and premature death.

Saving Fuel

  • 2 billion barrels of oil: EPA estimates that the standards will save two billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of vehicles sold under the program.

Saving Money

  • $170 billion: EPA estimates that over the lifetime of the program, the standards will save vehicle owners fuel costs of about $170 billion.
  • 2 years: The typical buyer of a new long-haul truck in 2027 could recoup the cost of modernizing with advanced low-emitting technologies in less than two years through fuel savings.
  • $250: The program will also benefit con­sumers by reducing the costs for shipping goods. The Consumer Federation of America found that rigorous fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards could save American households $250 annually in the near term and $400 annually by 2035.

Broad Support

  • 300 Companies: More than 300 companies called for strong final standards during the rulemaking process, including PepsiCo and Walmart (two of the largest trucking fleets in the U.S.), mid-size trucking companies RFX Global and Dillon Transport, and large customers of trucking services General Mills, Campbell’s Soup, and IKEA. Innovative manufacturers, equipment manufacturers, and freight shippers have also called for strong standards.

Strong Clean Truck standards are also supported by national security and veterans groups, labor, consumer, and health groups, and clean air advocates (including EDF). 

Beyond the numbers, they are a testament to the fact that when we work together we can secure commonsense standards that protect public health while driving innovation and helping to create more efficient trucks for the future.

(This post was co-written by EDF Legal Fellow Alice Henderson)

Also posted in Cars and Pollution, Clean Air Act, News, Partners for Change, Policy| Comments are closed

New Clean Trucks program: Business, Consumers and the Planet all Win

(This post originally appeared on EDF+Business)

Across America, companies have reason today to celebrate an important step to drive cost and emissions out of their supply chain. The U.S. EPA and U.S. Department of Transportation unveiled new fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for heavy trucks. Once fully implemented, the new standards will cut over a billion tons of climate pollution and save hundreds of millions of dollars by 2035.

Every business in America stands to benefit.

Why? Because every business in America relies, in some form, on trucking services. Product manufacturers need trucks to get goods to market. Service and knowledge companies depend on trucks to deliver equipment and supplies. Retailers utilize trucks in distribution.

One of Walmart's aerodynamic trucks

One of Walmart's aerodynamic trucks

Retailers and consumer brands are among the top winners of strong fuel efficiency standards, as these companies account for a lot of freight movement. Companies that have undertaken detailed carbon footprint analysis often find, as Ben & Jerry’s did, that freight transportation can account for upwards of 17 percent of their total impact.

The new fuel standard means continued progress in tackling this significant source of emissions. This progress will reveal itself in lower carbon footprints for every product brought to market. It will be apparent through lower freight and fuel surcharge fees – saving large consumer brands millions annually.

The standards will be increased in 2024 and 2027, resulting in final standards that will require new tractor-trailer units to emit 25 percent less climate pollution in 2027 than in 2017. Long-haul truck drivers will see the new efficiency technology pay back in under two years.

The new standards will drive market uptake of a number of proven fuel saving technologies. Through the Super Truck program of the U.S. Department of Energy, for example, a Daimler team developed a 12.2 MPG trucks and a Cummins and Peterbilt team developed a 10.7 MPG truck. As a group of leading technology innovators noted early this year, “clear, stringent, long-term fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards” are critical to scaling emerging solutions “by creating certainty that high-quality, effective innovations will be rewarded in the marketplace.”

With the certainty of long-term standards, manufacturers will make the needed investments to introduce new engine platforms, better integrate powertrains, and take advantage of other cost-effective choices. In fact, this is just what has happened during an earlier phase of the clean truck program.

PepsiCo, Walmart, General Mills and a number of other leading companies played a critical role in securing the robust, final standards. They were drawn to advocate for strong standards because of the clean truck program’s combination of significant environmental and cost savings, and its ability to bring forward market-ready solutions.

It’s telling that these companies, which are leaders in adopting voluntary green freight best practices, were motivated to advocate for federal greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards too. They recognize that freight movement, which accounts for around 10 percent of U.S. greenhouse gases, has a critical role to play in cutting our emissions.

Making heavy trucks more fuel efficient is the single most important step to reducing freight emissions. The program announced will be crucial to build a low-carbon future that enables the free flow of freight. That is an outcome every business should celebrate.

Also posted in Cars and Pollution, Economics, News, Partners for Change, Policy| Comments are closed
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