Category Archives: What Others are Saying

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

A Great Day for Science Too: More on the Court Decision Affirming Historic Climate Protections

On good days, the facts prevail — and Tuesday was one of those very good days.

As Fred wrote, on Tuesday the U.S. Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C. issued a unanimous, historic decision upholding EPA’s actions to reduce climate pollution.

In our press release, Fred called it a good day for the “thin layer of atmosphere that sustains life on Earth.”

He’s right of course. But our planet wasn’t the only big winner. It was also a great day for science.

The court roundly rejected challenges to EPA’s science-based finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare (commonly called the Endangerment Finding).

In the process, the court reaffirmed the importance of having rigorous, independent science as the bedrock of efforts to protect our health and environment.

The court’s eloquent statement speaks for itself:    

EPA simply did here what it and other decision-makers often must do to make a science-based judgment:  it sought out and revised existing scientific evidence to determine whether a particular finding was warranted.  It makes no difference that much of the scientific evidence in large part consisted of “syntheses” of individual studies and research.  . . .  This is how science works.  EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question.

(That’s from page 27 of the ruling. I added the emphasis.)

The court dismissed the challenges to the Endangerment Finding as without “merit”, noting that EPA relied upon an “ocean of evidence” including 18,000 peer-reviewed studies. (You can find those quotes on pages 26, 34 and 38 of the decision.)  

In dismissing this challenge the court acted in concert with our long history of relying on science-based evidence — not only to shape our health and environmental protections, but as the foundation of American innovation and ingenuity. 

EPA’s Endangerment Finding is based on an extensive review of climate change research, including assessments of climate research prepared by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, the United States Global Change Research Program, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The creation of these assessment reports involved thousands of scientists, reviewing thousands of articles from peer-reviewed research journals.

This massive body of research documents the effects that rising atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping emissions are having on our climate. It also documents the harm that climate impacts cause to human health and welfare. 

Affirming EPA's reliance on state-of-the-art climate science, the court discussed the substantial evidence supporting EPA’s Endangerment Finding on page 30 of the decision:

To recap, EPA had before it substantial record evidence that anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases “very likely” caused warming of the climate over the last several decades. . .  Relying again upon substantial scientific evidence, EPA determined that anthropogenically induced climate change threatens both public health and public welfare.  It found that extreme weather events, changes in air quality, increases in food- and water-borne pathogens, and increases in temperatures are likely to have adverse health effects … The record also supports EPA’s conclusion that climate change endangers human welfare by creating risk to food production and agriculture, forestry, energy, infrastructure, ecosystems, and wildlife. 

The call from scientists worldwide urging swift action to curb climate-destabilizing emissions has been heard. 

EPA’s efforts to fulfill its statutory responsibility to protect human health and the environment from dangerous pollution have been resoundingly affirmed.   

It is a good day to be a scientist, and an American.

(You can read more about the court cases on our website and in my colleague Megan Ceronsky’s earlier blog on the subject. And stay tuned for more analysis of the historic decisions.)

Also posted in Basic Science of Global Warming, Clean Air Act, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Policy, Science | 1 Response, comments now closed

A Great Day for Clean Air: Court Upholds EPA Actions to Reduce Climate Pollution

Today is a great day for climate progress in America.

Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a unanimous, strong and clear opinion affirming the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) historic measures to reduce harmful climate pollution. 

The court’s opinion held that EPA’s climate protections are firmly rooted in science and the law, and grounded in more than 18,000 peer-reviewed scientific publications.  

The court didn’t mince words. The decision says:

EPA’s interpretation of the governing CAA provisions is unambiguously correct.

Even sharper was this part of the decision, in which the court noted that EPA properly relied on comprehensive scientific assessments by authorities such as the National Academies of Science and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: 

This is how science works. EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question.

(Read more on EDF’s website, in our press release and our highlights page, and in our Texas Clean Air Matters blog)

But even in the wake of a compelling court opinion, some continue to focus on the politics of delay, deny and obstruct.  

Responding to the court’s decision, a representative of the National Association of Manufacturers indicated today that it will continue to invest in lawyers and lobbyists to block clean air progress, telling AP:

[w]e will be considering all of our legal options when it comes to halting these devastating regulations.

Fortunately, there are many more who are investing in America’s future. Business leaders, numerous states, and policy makers are working together to reduce harmful carbon pollution. 

America’s automakers defended EPA’s common sense measures to make our cars more efficient, which will save families' hard-earned money at the gas pump, help break our addiction to imported oil, and reduce climate pollution.

In filings in federal court, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers have characterized these important standards as:

valid, mandated by law, and non-controversial.

Similarly, a dozen states – California, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington – have intervened in defense of EPA’s clean car standards. 

And small business voices spoke out today in support of EPA’s clean air measures, saying these measures:

are strongly supported by small business owners because they will boost their bottom lines and help secure our nation’s position in the emerging clean energy economy. 

The court’s decision today reaffirms that a strong, diverse set of voices stand ready to work together, building from the bedrock foundation of this historic decision to reduce climate pollution and build a stronger America.

Our EDF experts are poring through all 82 pages of the decision. Stay tuned for more in-depth analysis about what it means, and where we go next.

But for right now, we should all take a moment to celebrate this great news.

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

Credible Sources Agree: EPA’s Rules will have Modest Economic Impacts

We’ve posted so many stories like this that sometimes it’s hard to keep count, but here is yet another slew of reputable sources finding the EPA rules will not destroy the economy.  In fact, it may just be the boost it needs.  The Director of Regulatory Policy Research at the Economic Policy Institute just wrote a piece that sums it up nicely.  Here are some facts he rounded up on the air toxics rule:

  • Economic Policy Institute (EPI)- forecast to have a modest, positive net impact on overall employment—likely leading to the creation of 84,500 to 117,000 jobs between now and 2015
  • Congressional Research Service (CRS)- The benefits are also large, according to EPA, ranging from $37 billion to $90 billion annually.  The benefits mostly reflect the monetized value of avoiding up to 11,000 premature deaths annually.
  • Congressional Budget Office (CBO)- “On balance, CBO expects that delaying or eliminating those [EPA air] regulations regarding emissions would reduce investment and output during the next few years.”

Read the full article here: http://www.epi.org/blog/toxics-other-epa-rules-economic-effect/.

Also posted in Clean Air Act, Climate Change Legislation, Economics, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News | Comments closed

Revenge of the Climate Scientists: 38 Experts Set the WSJ Straight

Two days ago, I wrote about a flawed global warming analysis in the Wall Street Journal.

The paper published an opinion piece, No Need to Panic About Global Warming, written by a small group of scientists and engineers who are global warming skeptics.

Today, the other side was heard from.

The Wall Street Journal published a sharp rebuttal from 38 experts – all of them respected climatologists — who call the authors of the first piece:

[T]he climate-science equivalent of dentists practicing cardiology.

Today's piece points out that most of the authors of the first analysis have no expertise in climate science, although they are accomplished in their own respective fields.

But, as the large group of climate scientists writes today:                   

The National Academy of Sciences of the U.S. (set up by President Abraham Lincoln to advise on scientific issues), as well as major national academies of science around the world and every other authoritative body of scientists active in climate research have stated that the science is clear: The world is heating up and humans are primarily responsible … Research shows that more than 97% of scientists actively publishing in the field agree that climate change is real and human caused. It would be an act of recklessness for any political leader to disregard the weight of evidence and ignore the enormous risks that climate change clearly poses.

I couldn’t agree more.

Also posted in Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News, Science | Comments closed

Hall of Fame Goalie Mike Richter Calls for Action on Climate Change

A new voice has joined the chorus demanding action on climate change — one that will be familiar to any winter sports fans reading this.

Hockey legend Mike Richter says he worries that future generations of children won't be able to skate on frozen ponds the way he did when he was young.

The Hall of Fame goalie, who led the New York Rangers to a Stanley Cup victory in 1994 and helped the U.S. Olympic team win a silver medal in Salt Lake City in 2002, just wrote an op ed about climate change that ran in the Buffalo News, the Pittsburgh Tribune Review and the Juneau Empire, among other papers.

In it, he says:

I wish we could turn back the clock. I want my boy's generation to enjoy the same rich opportunities as I had. I worry for the future of the game that I love. I worry for the future of our economy, our national security and our planet.

Richter, who has spoken out about other environmental issues in the past, has also talked about climate change in radio interviews he did during this year's Winter Olympics. You can hear some of his comments on Philadelphia's WPEN radio.

Richter was also a guest speaker at a recent Business Advocacy Day, when 200 small business leaders from around the country came to Washington to lobby for a strong clean energy and climate bill. Check out this picture of Richter talking to the audience of business pioneers (and EDF staffers who worked on the event).

Also posted in Partners for Change | Comments closed

Rolling Stone Calls out "The Climate Killers"

YouIdiotsThe latest cover of Rolling Stone magazine didn't feature an indie star or up-and-coming talent.  Instead, a simple black background pushed forward the words "YOU IDIOTS: meet the planet's worst enemies" and drew readers' attention to climate change.

The 13-page article went through the latest chapter in climate legislation, without pulling any punches.  It called out every major obstacle to climate legislation from the Heritage Foundation's disinformation to the "17 polluters and deniers who are derailing efforts to curb global warming."  (Two EDF experts were quoted in the piece as well: our president, Fred Krupp, and chief economist, Dan Dudek.)

While Rolling Stone writer Tim Dickinson captures a lot of the frustration felt in the climate campaign, he misses the mark when it comes to his closing. "The battle over global warming may already be over," he writes. "Where are the crowds marching the streets?" he asks.

We are here.

Well, we may not always be in the streets — but we are in the halls of Congress, pushing for action.  And the front lines are packed with some unusual allies — steel-town mayor John Fettterman, companies and labor unions, EDF climate activists (add your voice!), and many more. This week, President Obama, too, reminded Congress that they are not done.

This fight is far from over.

Also posted in News | Comments closed

Dueling Op-Eds on Copenhagen Talks

Let's start with the good news first: Environmental Defense Fund president Fred Krupp wrote an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal outlining the need for the Copenhagen talks to make progress toward an effective verification and compliance system in a final agreement.

Fred says:

The road to a serious global agreement goes through the U.S. Congress… The task, then, for U.S. negotiators and their counterparts, is to focus on establishing the fundamental building blocks for an effective treaty that can be finalized in 2010.

He then lists those building blocks as:

  • Inclusiveness
  • Financing
  • Verifiability and compliance

Read the whole piece for insight into each point.

Now the bad news: Sarah Palin wrote an op-ed in today's Washington Post that purports to be about Copenhagen, but really just rehashes "climate-gate." The piece tries to paint global warming as purely political issue and dismisses the underlying science. Read at your own risk. Media Matters has posted a thorough fact-check of the piece.

Also posted in International | 7 Responses, comments now closed

Recommended Reading: Good Op-Ed About Copenhagen

If you're following the Copenhagen climate talks and you're looking for some interesting reading, we recommend Paul Krugman's latest op-ed in the New York Times, "An Affordable Truth". In Krugman's words:

If things go well in Copenhagen, the usual suspects will go wild. We’ll hear cries … that climate-change policies will destroy jobs and growth.  The truth, however, is that cutting greenhouse gas emissions is affordable as well as essential.

Posted in What Others are Saying | 5 Responses, comments now closed

New Date for Obama's Copenhagen Trip

The White House just announced an updated schedule for President Obama's trip to the international climate change talks in Copenhagen.

The President will now go to Copenhagen on December 18th. That means he'll be there for the final day of negotiations – and will have a chance to ensure the talks make progress toward an effective treaty that can be negotiated and adopted after Senate action on a bill to cap U.S. carbon pollution.

AP says the President is:

.. hoping to capitalize on steps by India and China and build a more meaningful political accord.

The Chicago Tribune's The Swamp, meanwhile, says the White House decision:

… immediately raises expectations anew for some type of climate agreement to result from the talks.

Here's the official White House statement in full.

Also posted in International | Comments closed
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