Category Archives: What Others are Saying

Litigation by Coal Interests Attacks EPA’s Landmark Clean Car Standards

Yesterday, coal interests petitioned the United States Supreme Court to review and overturn the nation’s landmark climate pollution standards for passenger cars and trucks.

These Clean Car standards are already reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while driving down our dependence on foreign oil and saving American families money at the gas pump.

They are broadly supported by the U.S. auto manufacturers, the United Auto Workers, national security experts, the Consumers Union, and numerous states.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously upheld these common-sense standards on June 26, 2012. But some coal interests want to turn back the clock on actions that the courts have already deemed “unambiguously correct.”

Yesterday, in its petition to the High Court, the “Coalition for Responsible Regulation” attacked the foundation of our nation’s Clean Car standards. (You can read more about this industry group here)

These seriously misguided legal claims attack the critical societal benefits of the Clean Car standards for model years 2012 to 2016 and a second round of Clean Car standards for model years 2017 to 2025.

Together, the Clean Car standards will almost double the current fuel economy performance of cars on American roads – to an unprecedented fleet wide average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

That increase in fuel economy will be a huge financial benefit for American families. They’ll save an average of more than $8,000 in fuel costs over the life of a new car and ensure our country will see $1.7 trillion dollars in fuel savings.

For families purchasing a model year 2025 vehicle, this will be equivalent to lowering the price of gas by approximately $1 a gallon.

The Clean Car standards will also reduce carbon dioxide pollution by more than 6 billion metric tons over the life of the program – comparable to the total emissions from the United States in 2010.

These standards will reduce oil consumption by an estimated 2 million barrels a day in 2025 – as much as half of what we import from OPEC each day.

But we won’t have to wait until 2025. We’re already seeing significant efficiency improvements.

EPA’s preliminary data for model year 2012 cars shows the largest annual fuel economy improvements since EPA first began tracking this kind of data back in 1975. And in March 2013, the average fuel-economy sticker value of new vehicles sold in the U.S. was a record-high 24.6 mpg.

All of this is happening without loss of consumer choice, as more SUVs, minivans, and pickups beat the 20 mile per gallon benchmark, and new technologies such as hybrids are more commonly available.

In other words, our automotive industry can — and is — meeting the challenging of providing fuel efficient, low emitting passenger cars that consumers want to buy.

That’s why automakers are not appealing the case.

In fact, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers – an association of 12 vehicle manufacturers including Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors – supports the clean cars standards.

Here’s what their spokeswoman, Gloria Bergquist, said when EPA’s greenhouse gas rules were upheld last summer:

Automakers are already producing almost 300 highly fuel-efficient models, so we have made a huge investment in technologies and want to sell these models in high numbers.

It’s time for these obstructionist coal interests to end the litigation. America is moving forward, together, with innovation that will strengthen our nation’s security, our economy and our environment.

(EDF's Peter Zalzal contributed to this post)

Also posted in Cars and Pollution, Clean Air Act, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News, Policy| 8 Responses, comments now closed

Tier 3: What It Means and Why It Matters

By now, you’ve probably seen lots of news headlines talking about the proposed updated Tier 3 standards.

Tier 3 is the shorthand term for national vehicle emissions and fuel standards that will help us make big strides towards cleaner, healthier air. They are designed to reduce the soot, smog and other types of dangerous pollution that come from the tailpipes of our cars and trucks.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just announced the proposed standards to enthusiastic responses from everyone from health advocates to automakers (including EDF, of course).

What exactly are the Tier 3 standards, and why are they so important? Here are answers to some common questions:

What’s the story behind the Tier 3 standards?

Cars and trucks are one of the biggest sources of air pollution in America. For years, EPA has been looking for ways to reduce the pollution associated with those motor vehicles.

In 2000, they created standards that would attack the air pollution problem at two of its sources at the same time – by reducing impurities in gasoline, so what you put into your car is cleaner, and by improving cars’ emission systems, so what comes out of your car is cleaner.

They called these standards Tier 2.

Now, EPA is proposing to update the standards. The new, improved version – called Tier 3 – will keep the proven approach of treating vehicles and fuels as an integrated system.

Starting in 2017, the new proposal would strengthen the earlier standards in order to reduce the pollutants from both gasoline and auto emissions standards in the most cost-efficient ways possible.

The proposed Tier 3 standards are also designed to work in harmony with America’ new clean car standards, which will improve fleet-wide fuel efficiency in new cars to 54.5 miles per gallon by the year 2025, and with California’s state standards, which are already stricter than the national average.

How exactly would the Tier 3 standards work? 

Cars and light trucks are the second largest emitters of oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds in the U.S. Those are the primary pollutants that form ozone.

According to EPA, the proposed Tier 3 standards would slash the level of those pollutants by 80 percent.

The proposed Tier 3 standards would also establish a 70 percent tighter particulate matter standard. Particulate matter, more commonly known as soot, is one of the most dangerous types of air pollution. It has been linked to asthma attacks, bronchitis, heart attacks and other types of heart and lung diseases.

The proposed Tier 3 standards would reduce other noxious types of air pollution as well, including carbon monoxide, benzene and butadiene. They would reduce fuel vapor emissions to near zero.

At the same time, the proposed Tier 3 standards would reduce the amount of sulfur in gasoline by more than 60 percent, to no more than 10 parts per million of sulfur on an annual average basis by 2017.

Lower sulfur levels in gasoline will allow vehicles to run more efficiently.

It also means we’ll see immediate benefits once the proposed standards go into effect in the year 2017. That’s because older cars that are already on our roads will emit less tailpipe pollution –right away — thanks to the cleaner gasoline. (The cleaner emissions systems will be built into new cars, and we’ll see those additional benefits emerge more gradually as Americans buy those cars to replace their old ones).

What are the benefits of Tier 3?

Tier 3 would be good for public health and for the economy

By the year 2030, EPA estimates that Tier 3 would:

  • Prevent up to 2,400 premature deaths every year
  • Prevent 3,200 hospital admissions and asthma-related emergency room visits every year
  • Prevent tens of thousands of cases of respiratory illnesses in children every year

EPA also estimates that by 2030, Tier 3 would prevent 1.8 million lost school or work days each year, and would provide total health-related benefits worth up to $23 billion per year.

How much will Tier 3 cost?

We can reduce tailpipe pollution and provide healthier, longer lives for millions of Americans for less than a penny per gallon of gas.

How will America’s gasoline standard compare to other countries?

The proposed Tier 3 standards for sulfur levels in gasoline are similar to levels that are already required – and being achieved – in Europe, Japan, South Korea, and several other countries (as well as California, here in the U.S.).

Do businesses support Tier 3?

Many businesses do support updating the standards, including automakers and the emissions control industry.

Tier 3 would provide greater regulatory certainty for automakers; a national standard means the auto industry can build a car that can be sold anywhere in the country.

On the day the proposed standards were announced, Michael Stanton, president and CEO of the Association of Global Automakers said:

We have been anxiously awaiting this rulemaking because it is good for the environment and will help harmonize the federal and California programs for both vehicles and fuel …  With 15 million new vehicle sales a year, automakers need predictable national fuel quality at the retail pump. Ultra-low sulfur gasoline is already available in California, Europe, and Japan and will enable automakers to use a broader range of technologies to meet the significant environmental challenges facing the industry.

Gloria Bergquist, Spokeswoman for Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said:

This is a big step forward for this country to catch up to the clean fuels available in other industrialized nations. Automakers have already reduced vehicle emissions by 99 percent, and we’re working to go further while also delivering high quality, affordable vehicles to our customers.

And the United Auto Workers said:

This is one of the most cost-effective ways for us to get cleaner and healthier air while strengthening our domestic auto sector and creating thousands of new jobs … The proposed rule is a win for our economy and a win for public health.

Who else supports Tier 3?

Even before EPA unveiled its proposal, state and local officials, national recreation groups, health groups and the public – as well as the automakers and the emissions control industry — all announced their support for updating the standards.

EPA has compiled a list of what all those supporters are saying. It’s a very long list. You can read it here.

What happens next?

EPA will hold two public hearings about the proposed Tier 3 standards, the first on April 24th in Philadelphia and the second on April 29th in Chicago.

EDF will be sending experts to testify at both those hearings, and we’ll report back from them. EPA will also begin accepting public comments soon.

Where can I learn more?

Check out EPA’s website. And check back here for updates.

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

New Report: Ambition Is the Key to Reaching Climate Goals

Ambition matters.

We all know this, because America is a nation of strivers — innovative, creative people who understand that ambition and drive can make the difference between success and failure. It's true in business. It's true in life.  And it's true in environmental protection.

Today the World Resources Institute (WRI) released a report that shows how crucial national ambition is when it comes to charting an effective pathway for climate action.

The report — Can the U.S. Get There From Here?is a searching examination of the potential for reducing carbon pollution under existing federal laws and with state leadership.

It finds that, with ambitious action by the federal government and the states to curb carbon pollution, the United States can cut its emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

That hopeful news comes not a moment too soon, because the bad news about climate change is all around us.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently announced that 2012 was the tenth warmest year on record for the planet, continuing the trend of rising global temperatures in which each decade has been hotter than the one before.

In the continental United States, 2012 was the warmest year on record, with the second most extreme weather — record-breaking high temperatures, the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, widespread drought, rising corn prices, and grim wildfires. Eleven weather disasters in 2012 carried a greater than $1 billion price tag, with the recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy expected to top $60 billion. And while our cities are flooding, crops are dying, and forests are burning, Congress is fiddling.

So let's look more closely at WRI’s hopeful news about what we can achieve under existing laws.

The new report finds that progress in four key areas will be essential:

  1. Implementing rigorous federal carbon pollution standards for new and existing power plants, transitioning the power sector towards a cleaner, more modern, and more resilient electricity generation system
  2. Eliminating use and emissions of hydrofluorocarbons, extremely potent heat-trapping gases
  3. Developing comprehensive federal emission standards to stop the methane leaks in oil and gas extraction and transport processes
  4. Improving the energy efficiency of our economy

Leadership by states to cut emissions and invest in clean energy and efficiency will be needed to compliment and amplify action at the federal level.

The analysis also demonstrates that no matter how rigorous our nation is in carrying out existing laws to cut carbon pollution, we will need new legislation to achieve the deeper emission reductions climate science demands by mid-century.

In the meantime, there is much that we can do. Now. And with these actions, we can start to transform our aging energy infrastructure and forge a prosperous clean energy, low-carbon future.

This is my favorite sentence of the report:

[T]he single most important factor influencing emissions reductions is political and policy ambition.

Ambition matters. So let’s be ambitious here, where it matters so very much to our future, our children’s futures, and our planet’s future.

Also posted in Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Partners for Change, Policy| 1 Response, comments now closed

EDF Congratulates the President on Re-Election Amid Increased Need for Climate Action

EDF would like to congratulate President Obama on his re-election. In the wake of super storm Sandy and with the election campaigns behind us, it is more important than ever for the president and elected officials to address the increasing threats from climate change, a pivotal issue of our time.

In a statement, EDF President Fred Krupp said:

“Congratulations to President Obama on his re-election to a second term, and to all of those who will be serving in the 113th Congress. We look forward to working with them to solve our country’s most pressing environmental problems, including global climate change. As the President declared last night, ‘we want our children to live in an America … that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.’

"Exit polls confirm that for millions of American voters, Hurricane Sandy and climate change were decisive factors in this election. As the historic storm just reminded us, we have no time to waste; we must get serious about climate solutions in order to protect our loved ones and communities from terrible impacts — extreme weather disasters, droughts, heat waves, and other dangerous consequences of global warming. Especially in the wake of Sandy, which demonstrated that doing nothing about climate change is much costlier than taking action, this issue clearly should be a top priority for our leaders in government.”

Earlier this week EDF VP Nat Keohane discussed the pressing challenges and priorities for the next president in regard to climate action in Bloomberg Businessweek.

He said:

“…The magnitude and urgency of the challenge have not diminished. If we needed any reminder of that fact, Hurricane Sandy should have provided it—especially coming on the heels of devastating drought, record-breaking temperatures through the spring and summer, and a record low in the extent of Arctic sea ice.

"…Addressing global warming will be politically challenging—but presidents are not elected to do the easy things, and political realities are not set in stone. The first step to tackling climate change is to start talking about it, not just once in a while but routinely, as a fact of life rather than a special-interest issue.

"The next president must build public understanding of the issue, connecting the dots between our own actions and the extreme weather we are already seeing. He must engage folks from across the political spectrum on the possible solutions. And he must be willing to spend political capital to get something done.”

See Keohane’s full Bloomberg Businessweek article for specific steps the president could take to address the growing threat of climate change.

Also posted in Climate Change Legislation, News, 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, Jobs, News, Policy| 1 Response, comments now closed

One Step Closer to Breathing Easier: We Reach a Key Deadline for Reducing Soot

Many of us have just returned from our last summer road trips over the Labor Day weekend, and now we're settling back into work. So here’s some good news for the unofficial start of fall:

We can all breathe a little easier knowing that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is one step closer to finalizing new limits on soot.

The comment period on EPA’s proposal to strengthen the national limits on soot closed last Friday.

Soot — also known as particulate matter — is a deadly pollutant that contributes to asthma attacks, heart attacks, and a host of other respiratory problems.

The more we have learned about soot, the more we have become aware that our national standards are not strong enough to protect our health. That’s why EPA has proposed updated standards – and the deadline for comments means we’re moving toward the moment when final, tougher standards go into effect.

So if, like roughly 30 million other Americans, you drove somewhere last weekend, you can take some comfort in knowing that the big rig in front of you emitting black plumes of smoke may eventually be a thing of the past.

Soot is emitted largely by power plants and diesel vehicles and equipment (including some of those older big rigs). But many highly cost-effective, American-made technologies exist for power plants and diesel engines that will help states meet new, better soot standards.

We've already made some progress. The brand-new diesel trucks that are rolling off the assembly lines today are meeting rigorous modern emission standards for soot, nitrogen oxides and other pollutants. They'll help states meet more protective air quality protections as the newly manufactured diesel trucks replace those on the road today.

Plus, last year the Administration enacted new fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles like semis, buses and garbage trucks. Those new fuel efficiency standards will save truck owners money – which is why they have garnered broad industry support.

But we still have more to do, and the proposed new soot standards will help us finish the job.

A broad coalition of health, environmental, moms, and environmental justice groups support the proposed new standards. They wrote a letter urging EPA to strengthen standards for soot, based on the latest science:

Strengthening the particulate matter health standards as demanded by science could prevent thousands of premature deaths, heart attacks, and visits to the hospital and emergency room each year.

Hundreds of physicians and health professionals also sent a letter in support of stronger standards to EPA on Friday.

These proposed new soot standards are more important than ever in light of a recent decision by a U.S. Court of Appeals panel to send the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule back to EPA.

The Cross-State Rule would have helped lower soot and ozone pollution from power plants significantly compared to the policy currently in place. New, strong soot standards are vital to providing lasting clean air protections.

New, strong soot standards will also get states moving to reduce this deadly pollutant. That means we all have a stake in strong new soot standards – so that all Americans can breathe easier.

Also posted in Cars and Pollution, Clean Air Act, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Health, News, Policy| Comments closed
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    Megan CeronskyMegan Ceronsky
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