Selected category: What Others are Saying

Widespread Support for Proposed New Carbon Pollution Limits on Power Plants

On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its historic standards to limit carbon pollution from new power plants, helping ensure cleaner power for the future that will help us meet our climate goals.

These proposed standards will serve as the first ever national limit on carbon pollution from the nation’s largest source of emissions.

The reality of climate change has driven broad and diverse constituencies to raise their voices in support of action to reduce carbon pollution. Health groups, power companies, environmental justice groups, Latino groups, businesses, labor, moms, environmental groups, investors, and the NAACP have expressed support for EPA’s carbon pollution standards for new power plants.

Here is a round-up of just a few statements made on last week’s historic announcement:

Addressing carbon pollution will help protect public health. Higher temperatures can enhance the conditions for ozone (smog) formation. Even with the steps that are in place to reduce smog, evidence warns that changes in climate are likely to increase the risk of unhealthy smog levels in the future in large parts of the United States. More smog means more childhood asthma attacks and complications for others with lung disease.

These updated standards to limit carbon pollution from new power plants will help fight climate change; spur our economy to innovate and move to cleaner, renewable sources of energy; and help the American economy become more energy efficient in the years to come. The rules are an important part of President Obama’s comprehensive plan for responding to the threat of climate change that will create and maintain jobs all across the economy.

…Calpine supports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) efforts to regulate GHG emissions as mandated under the Clean Air Act. The newly proposed GHG New Source Performance Standard for new electric generating plants is an important first step in the EPA’s plans to address climate change.

Climate change could add as much as 10% to portfolio-wide risk in the next two decades, putting trillions of dollars of institutional investors’ assets at risk…These new standards will reinforce what forward-looking investors already know: that climate change poses real financial risks and opportunities and that the future of the electric power sector depends on investing in cleaner technologies and more efficient resources – investments that create jobs and economic benefits.

This is another major step forward to protect future generations from deadly pollution… Forty percent of all energy-related emissions of greenhouse gases in 2012 came from power plants, and most of that came from coal-burning power plants. This pollution has the most harmful effect on low-income communities and communities of color.

Generations of Latino ranchers, farmers and farmworkers have played a fundamental role in our agricultural economy… As farmers and ranchers, we have experienced the ravages of climate change first-hand. Droughts and floods have devastated our crops and land, threatening our livelihoods and our ability to continue to provide healthy fruits and vegetables to households across the U.S… The EPA’s announcement today is a first step in combatting the real consequences of climate change that are impacting our communities and we are ready to be a part of the solution.

While we would have preferred that Congress enact legislation limiting greenhouse gas emissions, today's action by EPA takes an important first step in establishing standards for new electric power plants that will provide certainty for the industry and the framework for Agency action on existing plants.

The new standards will reinforce what forward-looking companies already know: that climate change poses real financial risks and opportunities and that the future of the electric power sector depends on investing in cleaner technologies and more efficient resources – investments that create jobs and economic benefits.

The far-reaching effects of climate change will be felt throughout our society, in our economy and day-to-day lives.

The health impacts of climate change are apparent as temperatures rise. Higher temperatures mean more deadly ozone pollution.

The costs of extreme weather, from Hurricane Sandy to recent flooding in Colorado, provide a glimpse of the threat to human life and the economic costs associated with these events — which are more likely to occur and be worsened by climate change.

It is clear that the human and economic costs of climate change are growing.

Please send a note to EPA supporting these new historic standards.

Also posted in Clean Air Act, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News, Policy| Comments are closed

The Tier 3 Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Standards: Benefits from Day One

The comment period for the Tier 3 vehicle and fuel emission standards has now closed and hundreds of thousands of Americans have weighed in to support these important, lifesaving clean air standards.

Many, many thanks to the almost 336,000 of you who submitted comments through EDF's website or through our friends and colleagues' websites.

Those friends and colleagues include numerous groups representing health care, the environment, faith, business, labor, and moms — and they've all stated their support of the Tier 3 standards.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) now has to get to work reviewing and responding to the comments and crafting the final standards.

We expect EPA will finalize the standards by the end of the year, enabling automakers to gear up to meet the standards.

Organizations representing domestic and international automobile interests were among the many groups I mentioned that submitted comments to EPA. Their comments demonstrate the ability of the industry to meet strong vehicle and fuel emission standards.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers also commented on the benefits of strong Tier 3 standards — benefits that begin from day one:

“Sulfur inhibits the catalytic converter’s ability to reduce vehicle emissions, so lower sulfur at the pump means fewer exhaust emissions in the air. And because lower sulfur reduces emissions from all vehicles, the proposed sulfur reductions would achieve Day One benefits, immediately reducing emissions from every gasoline-powered vehicle on our roads, no matter how old.”

Labor groups like the United Auto Workers also weighed in:

“[Tier 3] standards will create jobs and are estimated to prevent thousands of deaths each year, in turn providing billions of dollars in public healthcare savings …We call for an immediate finalization of the proposed Tier 3 rules and the use of similar widely-beneficial regulations to ensure our commitment to creating the next generation of clean and efficient vehicles.”

A broad coalition of health organizations — including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the American Public Health Association, the American Thoracic Society, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Trust for America’s Health, Healthcare Without Harm, and the National Association of City and County Health Officials – had this to say:

“These standards are urgently needed and will help protect the health of millions of Americans who continue to breathe unsafe air … Abundant scientific evidence exists on the health effects of ozone, particulate matter and other pollutants from tailpipe exhaust. Tier 3 standards will be effective tools to reduce such pollution and improve air quality.”

The broad support for these common-sense standards demonstrates, once again, the unique intersection of clean air as a value for diverse American citizens, communities and businesses – a value that will have benefits for all, from day one.

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

The Not-So-Strange Bedfellows on Tier 3 Clean Car Standards

Most Americans rely on cars every day — cars that transport us to work and school, but that emit harmful soot, smog, and other dangerous air pollutants that impact human health.

We’ve posted before about a new way to clean up that pollution – the Tier 3 standards.

EPA has introduced these modern clean air standards to reduce harmful emissions from two sources — new cars and gasoline.

These complementary standards will ensure healthier, longer lives for millions of Americans – all for less than a penny a gallon.

Like so many other clean air issues, this one has brought together a strong, diverse coalition of groups in support of the updated, common-sense standards.

Supporters include car companies, manufacturers, environmental justice groups, health groups and medical professionals, labor, states, environmental groups, faith groups, and advocates for consumers.

EPA recently held two public hearings about the Tier 3 standards, in Philadelphia and Chicago.

We posted earlier about strong support for these clean air standards in Philadelphia. And EDF’s Graham McCahan testified on our behalf in Chicago, and said the turnout and support for Tier 3 was impressive there too. (You can read Graham’s testimony here).

Representatives of many of those other diverse organizations testified at the public hearings as well, in support of the Tier 3 clean air protections for Americans.

Here are a few quotes from the testimony:

Tier 3…is yet another example of the auto industry working with the Federal government, the state of California and other stakeholders to develop a harmonized approach that benefits all fifty states. It builds upon the successes we’ve had in the 2012­­–2016 and 2017­–2025 national greenhouse gas and fuel economy programs. It stays true to the simple principle of providing the cleanest vehicles to everyone throughout this great country.

The emission reductions that would result from the Tier 3 program proposed by EPA will benefit the citizens in every state and locality across the country…State and local air pollution agencies are relying on EPA to adopt the Tier 3 rule.

Low sulfur gasoline not only enables advanced technologies to achieve intended emission benefits, it has an immediate and significant effect on the 250 million vehicles on the road today, lowering emissions and helping states achieve attainment of ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).

  • Chrysler Group LLC

Our analysis estimates that by 2030, these standards under consideration today will prevent more than 2,500 premature deaths and more than 15,000 asthma attacks each year.

Building cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars creates jobs by sending money otherwise spent on fuel back into the U.S. economy, and also through the development and production of new, more efficient vehicle components. The Tier 3 standards will only bolster the auto industry’s ability to meet a strong fuel efficiency standard and generate these net positive economic outcomes.

These compelling testimonials are just a few of the comments made in favor of the Tier 3 standards.

If you didn’t have a chance to testify, you can still make your voice heard by sending an email to EPA. EDF has created a website to make it easy for you to stand up for the Tier 3 standards.

When America works together, we can achieve vital public health protections for our families and our communities – and create a stronger nation.

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

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| Read 8 Responses

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 are 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| Read 1 Response
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