Category Archives: Jobs

Energy Efficiency and Carbon Pollution Standards: Double Dividends for Climate and Consumers

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has embarked on a vital effort — accompanied by extensive outreach to states, power companies, environmental organizations, and other stakeholders, including you — to establish the nation’s first limits on carbon pollution from fossil fuel-fired power plants.

EPA was directed to take this critical step for public health and the environment in the President’s Climate Action Plan that was released last summer. Protective and well-designed Carbon Pollution Standards will provide important benefits for all Americans.

Fossil fuel-fired power plants emit 40 percent of the nation’s carbon pollution, as well as significant amounts of mercury, acid gases, and pollutants that contribute to smog and particulates.

That’s why it is critical to get these rules right, and to mobilize common sense solutions proven in red and blue states alike in reducing carbon pollution from the power sector.

Of all the available ways to reduce carbon pollution, one of the most cost-effective and time-tested approaches is to reduce demand for fossil fuel electricity through end-use energy efficiency (EE).

EE measures encompass countless improvements, large and small, in the ways we use electricity in our offices, factories, and homes. All of those improvements can add up to big savings, not only in our monthly energy bills but in the total amount of fossil generation needed to power our society.

Dozens of states and power companies are already investing heavily in EE, and have built up decades of experience in measuring and verifying the many benefits it can yield for consumers and for the environment.

Incredible Potential to Cut Emissions and Save Money by Reducing Wasted Electricity

States and power companies around the country have been implementing EE programs for decades, and have increased their efforts in recent years as experience with the benefits of EE has grown.

26 states in diverse regions of the country, from Arizona and Colorado in the Southwest to industrial Midwest states like Ohio and Illinois, now have “energy efficiency resource standards” or similar policies that require utilities to achieve a certain amount of energy savings each year.

State spending on EE programs increased by 28 percent between 2010 and 2012.

As EE policies and investments have grown, so have energy savings.

In 2011, state EE programs saved a total of 22.9 million megawatt-hours — roughly equivalent to the entire annual output of seven 500 megawatt coal-fired power plants.

These savings increased 22 percent since 2010 and, importantly, count only those savings achieved in the first year these EE measures are in place.

Because most EE measures continue to yield energy savings years or even decades after they are installed, the cumulative savings from these state EE programs are much larger.

A recent study by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy found that EE programs and policies are a key reason why residential and commercial electricity demand has remained stable since 2007.

As impressive as these developments are, they only scratch the surface of what could be achieved if we were to fully unlock the potential for EE to save energy and reduce emissions.

An exhaustive 2009 analysis by McKinsey & Company, for example, found that rigorous investment in cost-effective EE could reduce the country’s total energy consumption by 23 percent in 2020.

Energy savings on this scale would yield massive emission reductions — about 700 million metric tons of carbon dioxidein 2020 alone (more than 30 percent of power sector emissions today) – and at a cost per kilowatt-hour saved that is about 85 percent less than the average retail price of electricity.

The report also estimated that realizing these energy savings would create about 600,000 to 900,000 jobs through 2020.

Other national and regional studies have similarly found that EE represents a tremendous “win-win” opportunity for our climate, for families and consumers, and for the economy as a whole.

In 2012, for example, the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) issued a report focusing on the potential benefits of scaling-up EE programs in six Southwestern states (Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming).

Based on the track record of “best practice” EE programs around the country, SWEEP found that these six states could reduce their electricity demand in 2020 by more than 20 percent while achieving net benefits of about $20 billion – amounting to $2,650 for every household in the region (largely in the form of lower energy bills).

Investments in EE at this scale would also create about 30,000 additional jobs in the region by 2020, and increase wages and salaries by more than $1 billion.

At the same time, these EE measures would reduce carbon pollution by more than 30 million metric tons in 2020, (a 16% reduction relative to expected emissions in 2020), while also reducing thousands of tons of pollutants that contribute to smog, acid rain, and harmful particulate pollution.

EE and the Carbon Pollution Standards

If you’ve read my colleague Megan Ceronsky’s earlier blog, you’ve already heard about section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act.

That section provides bedrock authority for EPA to issue Carbon Pollution Standards for existing power plants.  It also provides a broad, flexible framework for states and companies to deploy EE and other flexible approaches to reducing carbon pollution from the power sector.

Under section 111(d), EPA and the states will work together to reduce emissions from existing power plants.  EPA will issue “emission guidelines” that identify the “best system of emission reduction” for carbon pollution from existing power plants and the emission reductions achievable using that system.  The states then have the responsibility to develop plans that implement standards consistent with those guidelines.

Just a few weeks ago, Kate Konschnik, Policy Director of the Environmental Law Program at Harvard Law School, released a report that makes a strong legal case for considering EE as part of the “best system of emission reduction” that underpins EPA’s emission guidelines.

As Konschnik argues, the Clean Air Act grants EPA broad authority to consider flexible measures such as EE as a part of the best system of emission reduction for carbon pollution:

[B]ecause it is adequately demonstrated and cost-effective, imposes minimal environmental costs, and reduces overall energy requirements.

Moreover, as Konschnik points out, methods for quantifying and verifying EE-related energy savings and emission reductions are well-developed.

Over the last two decades, at least 35 states and two regional transmission organizations have adopted protocols for measuring and verifying energy savings from EE projects. These savings are now widely used as the basis for critical regulatory proceedings and market functions, including establishing utility rates, compensating EE in regional capacity markets, and carrying out long-term regional resource planning.

In addition, EPA has already allowed several states to credit emission reductions resulting from EE and renewable energy towards compliance with national air quality standards. EPA has also issued detailed guidance to the states on analytical approaches and tools that could be used for future programs.

Ensuring Smooth Implementation of EE in the Carbon Pollution Standards

Under traditional emissions trading programs such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) or California’s cap-and-trade system, the emission reduction benefits of EE are readily observed as emissions from power plants drop.

Under these programs, no separate system for tracking emission reductions from EE is necessary.  As a recent report by RGGI confirms, these programs are also funding significant investments in EE programs that have already helped 815,000 families.

However, some states may choose to directly incentivize EE through policies that credit individual projects and programs for their impacts on energy savings and emissions.

For this reason, EDF has worked with experts in the field to study how measurement and verification for such EE crediting systems could work in a way that is environmentally rigorous and administratively streamlined, and that builds on extensive state and regional experience with existing EE programs.

We recently submitted a report to EPA, developed by the Analysis Group, that lays out one possible framework for ensuring both desirable outcomes:

  • Rigorous measurement and verification of EE projects, and
  • Consistent methods for determining emission reductions that are attributable to EE projects

This framework recognizes the diverse approaches to measurement and verification of EE that are in use around the country. But in developing this framework, we were also struck by the significant progress that a number of organizations have made in developing best practices and consensus protocols for evaluating EE projects.

One example is the Department of Energy’s Uniform Methods Project (UMP), which has organized a multi-stakeholder process to develop rigorous yet streamlined measurement and verification protocols for different types of EE projects.

To date, UMP has released protocols addressing seven major EE project types and five “cross-cutting” evaluation issues. Eight more protocols are expected to be finalized in the coming months.

Other notable efforts to develop and encourage best practices in the field include:

EE: Ready for Prime Time

EE represents a historic opportunity to achieve extensive reductions in emissions of carbon pollution and other power sector pollutants that directly harm public health and the environment.

In many cases, EE measures will actually save families and businesses money over time and help strengthen the economy.

Decades of state and utility experience in designing and implementing EE programs have demonstrated that the benefits of EE are real, and that the policies and tools needed to incentivize EE and measure its effects are available.

EPA should fully mobilize the potential of EE by exercising its authority to consider EE in the design of the Carbon Pollution Standards, and by providing guidance to the states to facilitate the inclusion of EE in state plans implementing those standards.

Also posted in Clean Air Act, Economics, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Policy | 2 Responses, comments now closed

New Carbon Pollution Standards Will Protect Health, Drive Innovation

Source: The Guardian

(This post originally appeared on EDF Voices)

The Environmental Protection Agency announced the nation’s first-ever carbon pollution standards for new power plants this morning—a major victory in the fight against climate change. Right now, there are no limits at all on carbon pollution from power plants, the single largest source of this pollution in the United States.

These standards are a necessary, common sense step that will ensure cleaner power generation that helps protect our children from dangerous smog and our communities from extreme weather. They will also drive innovation, so that America can continue to lead the world in the race to develop cleaner, safer power technologies.

Anticipated direct health consequences of climate change include injury and death from extreme weather events and natural disasters, increase in climate-sensitive infectious disease, increases in air pollution-related illness, and more heat related, potentially fatal, illness. Within all of these categories, children have increased vulnerability compared with other groups.

Scientists warn that the buildup of greenhouse gases and the climate changes caused by it will create conditions, including warmer temperatures, which will increase the risk of unhealthful ambient ozone levels. Higher temperatures can enhance the conditions for ozone formation. Even with the steps that are in place to reduce ozone, evidence warns that changes in climate are likely to increase ozone levels in the future in large parts of the United States.

If physicians want evidence of climate change, they may well find it in their own offices. Patients are presenting with illnesses that once happened only in warmer areas. Chronic conditions are becoming aggravated by more frequent and extended heat waves. Allergy and asthma seasons are getting longer. . . . Rising air and water temperatures and rising ocean levels since the late 1960s have increased the severity of weather, including hurricanes and droughts, and the production of ground-level ozone. That means more asthma and respiratory illnesses, more heat stroke and exhaustion, and exacerbation of chronic conditions such as heart disease.

Cost-effective, low-carbon energy solutions are already helping spur the economy, create good jobs and reduce harmful pollution in red and blue states across the country. Industries are recognizing that these smart power solutions are not only good for people and the environment, but also very good for business.

Many major power companies have recognized the need to address carbon. When these standards were initially proposed, the CEO of PSEG, Ralph Izzo, said, “[t]he Agency’s action establishes a logical and modest standard for new electric power plants and provides the industry with much needed regulatory certainty. The EPA provides a framework for the industry to confront this problem in a cost effective manner.” And the CEO of American Electric Power, Nick Akins, said in June that the new Climate Action Plan can be carried out “without a major impact to customers or the economy.”

Wind topped all new power deployed in 2012, with especially strong growth in Kansas, Texas, Iowa, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota and Oklahoma.  So-called “microgrids”—local generation networks that can run independent of the grid—are unlocking on-site clean power that expands clean energy choices for communities and consumers. And new financing models are driving more efficient use of energy at scale, cutting pollution while saving businesses and families money.

We know we must act now.

The costs of climate inaction are hitting home across the country as extreme weather events batter our communities. From the recent heartbreaking severe floods in Colorado to last year’s devastation from Superstorm Sandy in the Northeast, from crippling drought to terrible wildfires in the West, extreme weather is here and made worse by rising temperatures. The two million Americans who supported the EPA’s initial proposal last year know that doing nothing about climate change is not free. We are paying costs now and will inflict even greater costs on our children and future generations if we do not begin taking aggressive action to reduce carbon emissions.

As Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said earlier this week, “every ton we emit you can check it off against our children and grandchildren.” The naysayers, as always, are out in force and will do everything they can to derail action on climate. Please join Americans across our nation and lend your voice of support during this crucial time. Together with health and environmental groups, businesses, parents and states – red and blue – we can work together to meet this challenge.

Also posted in Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Policy | Comments closed

Growing Jobs, One Auto Supplier at a Time

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) jointly announced new clean car standards that will benefit America’s economy and our environment.

The standards mean that by 2025 new cars on U.S. roads will average an unprecedented 54.5 miles per gallon.

Those same clean cars will also reduce the levels of dangerous climate pollution from auto emissions.  

Businesses in the auto supply chain are applauding.  According to Fred Keller, Chairman and CEO of Cascade Engineering

The new fuel economy requirements are an example of good regulation developed in the right way. By working with both industry and environmental interests, regulators were able to come up with standards that provide the right incentives and get the right results without putting an undue burden on industry. What’s more, the resulting incentives are positive, as they will encourage manufacturers to develop lighter-weight vehicles and reduce demand for fossil fuels. I recognize it is not always easy to develop regulation in this way, but this should serve as a model for how to do it effectively in the future.

Cascade Engineering has a growing automotive solutions group that focuses on acoustic insulators, chassis & powertrain components, and interior/exterior trim.  

Other companies are praising the new standards as well.

Nam Thai-Tang, Co-Founder and Executive Vice President of ALTe, said this:

ALTe applauds any effort to drive towards greater fuel efficiency in the transportation industry. We are encouraged by the new standards and expect that they will help companies like ours that are developing advance hybrid powertrain technologies for America’s vehicles. 

ALTe manufactures electric vehicle powertrains which are used to increase fuel efficiency and lower emissions.

The new clean car standards follow closely after the first-ever national standards for passenger vehicles, which applied to vehicles in model years 2012 to 2016.

The Administration says that, in total, its national program to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions will save consumers more than $1.7 trillion at the gas pump and reduce U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion barrels.

A joint ACEEE-BlueGreen Alliance report found the standards also would create more than a half million jobs by 2030, including 50,000 jobs in auto manufacturing. (These projections are not surprising. Since the restructuring, auto companies have added 250,000 jobs.)

Fuel economy standards benefit American auto companies and the myriad of suppliers because they create certainty, establish the U.S. as leader in fuel efficiency, and provide incentives for innovation.

Unlike many other industries, the auto sector and its many suppliers can plan for the future knowing the regulatory playing field until 2025.

The new clean car standards stand as among the most progressive in the world, driving the U.S. to a leadership position in fuel-efficient vehicles and technologies–  and toward the opportunity to export everything from parts to final assembled vehicles. 

These rules reward innovation in every facet of auto technologies — from changes to traditional combustion engines such as new materials, electronics, engine re-design, and recirculation of exhaust gas to development of a new generation of electric vehicles, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles. 

Seifi Ghasemi is chairman and chief executive of Rockwood Holdings, the world’s largest producer of lithium and lithium compounds.

He responded to the announcement by noting that:

Rockwood believes that the US can be the world leader in a game-changing technological leap forward by making electric vehicles the cars of the future. 

Mr. Ghasemi further described how Rockwood is already expanding and adding jobs:

For the auto industry and battery makers to adopt this technology, they must have a secure and reliable supply of lithium compounds for advanced electric vehicles. To meet the need for these compounds, Rockwood recently invested more than $75 million in two expansion projects that expands the output of our Silver Peak, Nevada, and Kings Mountain, North Carolina, production facilities.  We expanded our Silver Peak site, which is the only US source of lithium raw materials, and we built and recently opened a state of the art battery grade lithium hydroxide manufacturing plant in Kings Mountain.  In addition, we completed a new Global Technical Center at Kings Mountain that will bring together engineers and scientists to perfect and commercialize advanced battery materials.  These investments provide several economic benefits, including the addition of more than 100 new manufacturing and research and development jobs.  These expansions also reinforce our long-term competitiveness in a vital, growing technology.

As the auto sector continues to demonstrate, strong environmental standards can work in concert with a vision for growth in industries across America.

Also posted in Cars and Pollution, Clean Air Act, Economics, Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News, Policy, What Others are Saying | 1 Response, comments now closed

Why It Matters: the Senate Vote on a Toxic Resolution

When the Senate voted down  S.J Res. 37 by a margin of 53 to 46 yesterday, we at EDF cheered.

The measure would have nixed the new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards that were just finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Those new standards are one of the most important steps EPA has ever taken to clean up our air and protect public health.

EDF’s own Fred Krupp summed up the bipartisan vote this way:

[They] voted against S. J. Res 37. That means they voted for cleaner, healthier, safer air for all Americans. They voted to let EPA do its job, and reduce the mercury and other toxic pollution emitted from power plants into the air we breathe. They voted to save up to 11,000 lives each year, to help prevent neurological damage in babies, and to make it safer to eat fish caught in American waters.

But there’s a lot more to say about why this vote was so critical – and why these standards are so important.

First, let’s look at the standards themselves.  

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards limit the amount of mercury, arsenic, acid gases, and other noxious toxins that can be emitted by power plants.

The kinds of pollution covered by the standards are all extremely hazardous to human health. Mercury, for instance, impairs brain and neurological development in babies – including those exposed before birth.

The main way people are exposed to mercury is through eating contaminated fish. All 50 states have mercury fish consumption advisories, meaning that mercury has gotten into waterbodies like lakes and ponds and made the fish in those waters potentially unsafe for humans to eat.

That’s why pregnant women are warned about eating certain kinds of fish. But still, one in ten American women of child-bearing age have potentially dangerous levels of mercury in their bloodstream, and about 400,000 babies are born here every year who were exposed to unsafe levels of mercury in the womb. 

The power sector is the largest source of many toxic emissions, including mercury. Coal-fired power plants emit 50% of all the mercury pollution in our air, as well as 77% of all acid gases, and 62% of all arsenic.

Other sectors have long since reduced emissions of toxic pollutants like mercury. Cost-effective (and American made) pollution-control measures, like scrubbers, are available for power plants too.

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards have been in the works for 20 years. Once they’re finally in effect, the standards will ensure that approximately 90% of the mercury in coal burned by power plants is not emitted to our air.

The standards will also:

  • Prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths—every year
  • Prevent 130,000 childhood asthma attacks every year
  • Prevent 5,700 hospital visits every year
  • Prevent thousands of heart attacks every year
  • Prevent thousands of bronchitis cases every year

But S.J. Res 37 would not only have nixed the new standards, it would also have prevented EPA from issuing a rule that is “substantially the same” in the future.

Fred called it a “scorched earth” policy.

It was certainly drastic — a resolution that would jeopardize EPA’s ability to ever protect Americans from the mercury and other toxic air pollution emitted by power plants.

And it was unnecessary. The main arguments against the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards were not grounded in reality. 

Opponents said the standards would cost too much and would kill jobs. Actually, the benefits of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards are expected to outweigh the costs by at least 3 to 1, and as much as 9 to 1.

And the new standards are estimated to create up to 117,000 jobs between now and 2015.

Opponents also claimed the standards would threaten America’s electrical supply. Wrong again.

Independent analyses by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Congressional Research Service confirm that industry can comply with the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards while maintaining the reliability of our electric system. And EPA’s compliance framework establishes a clear and orderly process for securing an extended compliance pathway where needed and will allow utilities to make a smooth transition to cleaner generation.

In fact, numerous power companies have already indicated they can comply with the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards on time. In a December opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, the leaders of PG&E, Calpine, NextEra, Public Service Enterprise Group, National Grid USA, Exelon, Constellation Energy Group, and Austin Energy explained how they, and many companies, have long prepared for these clean air standards.

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards received a monumental level of public support: 

  • More than 800,000 Americans submitted comments to EPA in support of these new life-saving protections.
  • The U.S. Conference of Mayors unanimously adopted a resolution supporting the standards, saying that “clean, healthy air and water are fundamental American rights.”
  • Scientists support the standards – including dozens from Ohio universities who sent a letter to their state’s congressional delegation opposing S.J. Res 37.
  • Other organizations publicly supporting the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards include: faith, public health, and clean energy groups; power companies; the NAACP; environmental organizations; and groups representing sportsmen, mothers and fathers, Latinos, small businesses, and consumers.

If S.J. Res 37 had passed, it would have been disastrous for both public health and the environment. Fortunately, a group of 53 Senators from both parties stood up to be counted for clean air yesterday. We should all be grateful to them for their vote.

Also posted in Clean Air Act, Economics, Health, Policy | Comments closed

New Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Will Protect Children and Save Lives

This is one of the best weeks I’ve had in a long time.

Right on the heels of today’s landmark court decision upholding European laws to reduce airplane pollution, we got another historic moment for the environment and public health.

Today, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson unveiled the new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which will place our country’s first-ever national limits on mercury and other toxic air pollution from coal- and oil-fired power plants.

Every decade or so, the United States takes a giant step forward on the road to cleaner, healthier air. Getting the lead out of gasoline was one. Reducing acid rain was another.

Today’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, 21 years in the making, are a new giant step forward.

Power plants are responsible for half of all manmade mercury emissions, as well as 75 percent of acid gases, and 60 percent of arsenic.

Mercury exposure can cause brain damage in infants, and can affect children’s ability to walk, talk, read and learn. Experts estimate that hundreds of thousands of babies are born each year with potentially unsafe levels of mercury in their blood.

Many of the other toxic pollutants also controlled by the new rules — such as chromium, arsenic, dioxin and acid gases — are known or probable carcinogens and can attack the brain, lungs, liver, and kidneys.

Cost-effective and tested technology solutions are available to reduce mercury pollution and other toxic air contaminants from power plants by more than 90 percent. Many states have already led the way in adopting policies to control mercury emissions, helping to drive investment in technology solutions, but this is the first time we’ll have a national standard.

According to EPA, the new rules will:

  • Prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths each year
  • Prevent up to 4,700 heart attacks each year
  • Prevent up to 130,000 asthma attacks each year
  • Prevent up to 5,700 hospital and emergency room visits each year
  • Prevent up to 540,000 missed work or school days each year

The rules will also provide employment for thousands. The updating of older power plants with modern air pollution control technology will support:

  • 46,000 new short-term construction jobs
  • 8,000 long-term utility jobs

The value of the air quality improvements for human health alone will be as much as $90 billion each year.

I can’t overstate the importance of these new standards. We should all thank President Obama, Administrator Jackson, and everyone at EPA for protecting our air – and our health.

This is the perfect holiday gift for America.

Also posted in Clean Air Act, Health, News, Policy | Comments closed

Let’s Clear the Air: EPA Pollution Standards Will Create New Jobs While Protecting Public Health

Opponents of the Clean Air Act have been yelling that this law’s life-saving health protections are “job killers.”

Just for a moment, let’s ignore the fact that these regulations improve public health and safety and save our lives. It is untrue that these regulations kill jobs.

In fact, just two small parts of the Clean Air Act — EPA’s Cross-state Air Pollution and Mercury and Air Toxics rules — would together create nearly 1.5 million jobs over the next five years driven by new investments.

EPA’s new air pollution standards would limit sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury and other unhealthy pollutants that are in the air we breathe. Meeting the new standards, and lowering our air pollution levels, will result in investments in new pollution control equipment and power plants. It will also result in jobs for skilled professionals to do the work of installing and operating that equipment. That means jobs for electricians, plumbers, pipefitters, boilermakers, millwrights, iron workers and engineers – among others.

Among the economic beneficiaries would be the American companies that make pollution control equipment like scrubbers, dry sorbent injectors, and selective catalytic reducers. Take a look at this map:

Pollution Abatement Materials Companies

 

Click to view full-size map

The map is  by no means comprehensive, but it shows some of the companies in the eastern half of the U.S. that are poised to benefit under EPA’s rules.

A Case Study in Job Creation from Installing Pollution Control Equipment

Alstom Power’s James Yann testified before the U.S. Senate’s Subcommittee on Clean Air and Jobs in March of this year.

He described some of the jobs created from just one example of a pollution control technology – a wet flue gas desulfurization “scrubber” that is commonly used to remove sulfur and other air pollutants.

Dependent on the number of scrubbers ultimately installed, Alstom estimates that these clean air regulations will create a total of more than 150,000 jobs over the next five to six years of compliance work. That’s just for direct jobs. In addition, tens of thousands of additional jobs would be created along the supply chain.

Here’s more details to show how it works: 

  • Scrubbers consist of a large number of components including pumps, electrical equipment and wiring, controls, and emission monitors (among many others). Almost all of this equipment can be procured from sources in the United States.
  • Erecting a typical scrubber requires more than 2,000 tons of fabricated steel delivered to the site. This steel represents more than 40,000 man-hours of production.
  • Assembly of the scrubber requires the most man power and a wide variety of trade crafts, typically lasting up to 30 months and employing an average of 700 craft people during that period.
  • In total, a typical wet flue gas desulfurization project will provide the equivalent of about 775 full time jobs over the life of the installation project, not including jobs provided for all the equipment suppliers and delivery services involved in delivering materials and equipment to the site.
  • Scrubber systems require ongoing supplies to operate including ammonia, lime, limestone and activated carbon. Companies making these supplies will need to create additional jobs to meet the increased demand as a result of EPA’s clean air rules.

Also posted in Clean Air Act, Economics, Energy | Comments closed

Green Jobs: California's Economic Bright Spot

One of the strongest arguments for passing a climate and clean energy bill is that it will boost the economy and create jobs.

Here's more evidence to support that claim: an updated map compiled by Environmental Defense Fund that shows more than 3,500 "green" businesses in California alone.  

EDF's Tim Connor wrote about the map on our California Dream 2.0 blog. He says:

Naysayers often claim that we should slow down our progress on clean energy and clean air because the overall economy is struggling.  The truth is that the green economy is a bright spot, generating jobs, investment and business growth.

This map may focus on California — but that statement applies to all of America.

Also posted in Economics, Green Jobs, News | Comments closed

Five Denier Myths about the Climate & Energy Bill

Originally appeared on Huffington Post

Like the summer weather outside, the fight over a strong climate bill is heating up. The next three weeks will reveal which Senators are serious about fixing the world's biggest crisis, and which are worried about short-term political advantage.

At stake is whether the Senate will consider a strong bill that caps America's carbon pollution and ends our over-dependence on oil and other fossil fuels. Or whether the Senate will pass yet another energy-only bill that won't solve the problem.

Predictably, the "No Can Do" climate action naysayers continue to oppose to setting hard limits on America's climate pollution. And they're trotting out the same worn-out old arguments they've been using to oppose action for the last decade.

As we approach the Senate endgame, we want to use this opportunity to respond forcefully and directly to these scare tactics. Here are five reasons climate action opponents are wrong:

1) They claim a strong cap on America's carbon pollution will wreck our economy.

FALSE: This is the bogeyman of every effort over the last century to protect our environment and defend public health and safety. Power companies said limits on acid rain pollution would wreck the economy. Oil refineries said taking lead out of gasoline would wreck the economy. Car manufacturers said installing seat belts would, you guessed it, wreck the economy. History has shown that in every case, America's economy has not only survived but thrived under tougher environmental and public health and safety standards.

On this one, our opponents aren't just wrong. They're dead wrong. A cap on carbon didn't cause the current economic disaster. A cap on carbon didn't lead to one billion dollars a day going overseas to oil exporters. A cap on carbon didn't raise electricity rates for the average American home 42% or increase the average cost for a gallon of regular gasoline 138% over the last 20 years. A cap on carbon didn't slash American manufacturing jobs over the last half century.

It's the status quo that got us into this mess.  The best way out is to jumpstart the new green economy by ending our addiction to oil and other fossil fuels with a strong limit on carbon pollution.

2) They claim a strong cap on America's carbon pollution will undermine our economic recovery.

FALSE: They've got it backwards. Many notable economists, including Nobel Prize-winning New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and White House Economic Council Director Larry Summers, argue that strong climate action is the key for promoting economic recovery. It will encourage economic and entrepreneurial innovation and finally clarify how America will proceed with carbon limits. Without strong legislation, the uncertainty of EPA regulation and the threat of litigation will continue to freeze much-needed investments to modernize our energy infrastructure.

If you don't believe these economists, remember this: even if we pass a strong cap on carbon pollution this year, it won't go into effect for a couple years. That's how long it will take before the regulatory rules are written. This is one of the most compelling reasons for passing a bill now so we can set the regulations and begin cutting emissions in time to meet the 2020 limits.

We should also note that most short-term emission cuts will come from the "low hanging fruit" of promoting energy efficiency and investing in carbon offsets. Indeed, the House-passed climate and energy bill earned the support of a wide range of businesses, including several power companies, because it made environmental and economic sense.

3) They claim that America can transition to a cleaner energy future without limiting carbon pollution simply by passing an energy-only bill.

FALSE: This is the popular, easy-out position for politicians — just throw money at the problem. But, there are several major flaws with an energy-only bill.

Congress has passed 10 energy bills over the last 40 years, and none of them have even come close to launching the energy revolution we need to end our over-dependence on fossil fuels and transform our energy economy.

The math simply doesn't add up. Unleashing our clean energy future will require trillions of dollars in new investment in our energy infrastructure and technologies over many years. Such a large-scale transition will only be possible when private investors are given a clear market signal that the days of treating our atmosphere like an open sewer for unlimited carbon pollution are over. Without a strong cap on carbon pollution, we will remain addicted to the dirty energy of the past.

Finally, those in favor of promoting clean energy technologies without a carbon cap typically support taxpayer investments in handpicked energy technologies and programs. There are two main problems with this approach:

1) There is no way we can subsidize our way out of this problem — we are already running huge deficits, but even if we could find billions of dollars in taxpayer funds for clean energy subsidies, it will not come close to transforming our energy economy; and

2) This is a top-down, command-and-control, federal-government-picks-winners-and-losers approach that many legislators object to, and it will fail to achieve the most efficient clean energy investments.  A carbon cap will unleash the ingenuity of America's entrepreneurs, and they will find the most cost-effective technologies for reducing global warming pollution.

4) They claim this is nothing but an energy tax that will limit freedom in America.

FALSE: A cap on carbon is a pollution limit, not a tax. It is a proven way to ratchet down pollution in a cost-effective, efficient, sensible way. As pollution levels decline and we begin to end our addiction to fossil fuels, new, cleaner, more efficient technologies will fill the void.

Think of it this way — let's say you're a smoker. One way to help you end your tobacco addiction would be to tax cigarettes and increase the cost of smoking. If smoking cigarettes gets more expensive, you may smoke less. Then again, you may just pay the extra amount and find other ways to save money. This is how a carbon tax would work, and it's not what we're advocating.

A better way to ensure that you stop smoking would be to set a declining limit on number of cigarettes you can smoke each day so that over time you gradually kick the habit. This is how a cap on carbon would work.

As for limiting freedom in America, this may be a popular claim by Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and the Tea Party crowd. But this flips the issue on its head.

Right now, we import nearly 60% of our oil and are beholden to the whims of the petro-dictators. We sit on only about 2% of the world's proven oil reserves, but we consume nearly 20% of the world's oil. Drill Baby Drill won't change the basic math in this equation.

What freedom-loving American would choose to be dependent on Middle Eastern oil or while relying on the finite and dwindling resources of the world's fossil fuels?

5) They claim that the environmental threat from climate change is overstated.

FALSE!: This one needs an exclamation point. The National Academy of Sciences and the science advisors to the last four presidents of both parties have looked at the data and are unequivocal in their warnings that global climate change is a potentially catastrophic environmental threat to the planet.

The next time someone questions the science of global warming, ask whether he denies that carbon dioxide is a heat-trapping gas. Or whether she denies we are emitting billions of tons of it into our atmosphere every year. Or whether atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide are higher today than at any time in at least the last 2.1 million years. Or that we just completed the warmest decade on record and that 2010 is on pace to shatter the record as the warmest year.

Each of these facts are measurable, verifiable, and not in dispute.

As a result of our 100 years of unlimited carbon pollution, we are witnessing the first symptoms of a planet that is transforming before our eyes. And what we have already seen should be enough to demand action.  Polar sea ice melting at alarming rates, seasons coming earlier, migration patterns shifting, the oceans acidifying, corals bleaching, glaciers retreating, wildfires raging out of control, mega-floods and severe droughts – these early symptoms are becoming the norm.

And this is merely the opening act. Over the coming decades, the planet will get warmer and warmer and warmer. Without a strong cap on carbon, there is no reversing this devastating trend.

On these and many other claims, the "No Can Do" folks are just plain wrong. The time for a strong climate and energy action is now. Please email your Senators today and urge them to support the strongest possible bill.

Also posted in Climate Change Legislation, Economics | 3 Responses, comments now closed

July 6th, 2010 – The voices of a new clean energy future

Kansas City StarGrowing Green Jobs: A Conversation with Mark Izeman

Greening the economy – and creating new green jobs – is absolutely critical to successfully tacking climate change and many other global environmental crises we face. And these new jobs can at the same time jumpstart our economy and address our distressing unemployment rates around the country, especially in low-income communities. So, hopefully in 40 years, green jobs will be such an integral part of our economy that we won't even need to label such jobs as "green."

Indianapolis Star – Seize the moment to embrace clean energy

By Shaun Donovan, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

At HUD, we recognize that homes are responsible for 20 percent of America's carbon emissions, and that the long distances families have to drive to get to work and schools contributes to our dangerous dependence on oil. That's why we're coordinating with the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce our carbon footprint at the same time we connect where we live to where we work.

The Huffington Post“July 4th: Hope and Freedom in America”

By Representative Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon

While we have not yet achieved freedom from our addiction to oil, the dramatic BP spill in the Gulf coupled with unprecedented investments in conservation and alternative energy make it more likely that we have a sustainable path for the future.

The House passed historic legislation to combat global warming and survey after survey show a majority of Americans still support comprehensive climate legislation. We all still have hope for the Senate.

The Voices of a New Clean Energy Future is a series from individuals who understand the importance of passing comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation – business leaders, politicians, policy experts, and concerned citizens like you. EDF is proud to highlight their voices and contributions to the climate and energy debate.

Also posted in Climate Change Legislation, Economics, News | Comments closed

Clean Energy Pioneers: Building a Stronger Western Economy

This post was written by Dan Grossman, Rocky Mountain Regional Director and Senior Counsel to the Land Conservation and Wildlife Program at the Environmental Defense Fund.

Westerners are pioneering a new frontier of economic opportunity through homegrown clean energy solutions. The Clean Energy Pioneers website chronicles the people, businesses and communities across the intermountain West who are laying the foundation for the nation’s clean energy economy.

A new publication out this week, Clean Energy Pioneers: Building a Stronger Western Economy [PDF], compiles some of these stories. Here are just a few:

The release of these inspiring stories coincides with the Western Governors’ Association annual meeting this weekend, where the governors will be gathering to celebrate “100 Years of Common Ground” in working together to protect the region’s natural resources.

Not only will clean energy conserve our natural resources and improve our air quality, it will also boost our local economies and strengthen our energy security.  According to Rich O’Connell, Director of the Logan County, Colo. Economic Development Corp and one of the pioneers quoted in the report, “Wind energy generates income for families and it grows the tax base to build roads, bridges, schools and social services.”

The West is investing in its future by establishing clean energy education and training programs at community colleges to help create the workforce of tomorrow.  New Mexico and Colorado are each home to over a half dozen of such educational centers.

As Tyson Ramseier, a pioneer featured in the report who will graduate in May 2011 from the Wind Energy Technician program at Colorado’s Northeastern Junior College, so cogently put it,

“[Renewable energy] will not only improve the economy by generating cleaner and cheaper electricity, but it also provides jobs as well.”

Clean Energy Pioneers:  Building a Stronger Western Economy complements the Clean Energy Pioneers multimedia project documented by the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Western Resource Advocates and Environmental Defense Fund.

Download Clean Energy Pioneers: Building a Stronger Western Economy [PDF].

Also posted in Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News | Comments closed
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