Climate 411

Four Reasons Petitions for Supreme Court Review of Climate Pollution Standards for Power Plants Should Fail

This coming Monday, the Supreme Court will consider hundreds of petitions for review, which ask the Court to take up cases for full consideration during its new term. Among the petitions for review are four from coal companies and states asking the Court to review the D.C. Circuit decision overturning the Trump administration’s rule weakening regulations of carbon pollution from power plants. For multiple reasons the four petitions lack merit.

The Clean Power Plan, adopted in 2015, established the first-ever national limits on climate pollution from existing power plants. In 2019, the Trump administration adopted regulations to repeal the Clean Power Plan and replace it with the “ACE” rule – which did virtually nothing to limit pollution.

This January the D.C. Circuit struck down this attempt, issuing a narrow opinion that explained how ACE misinterpreted specific language in section 111 of the Clean Air Act.

In the months since the D.C. Circuit’s decision, neither the Clean Power Plan nor the Trump administration’s weak replacement rule has been in effect, meaning that no power plants or operators have experienced harm under either rule. Additionally, EPA has been working from a clean slate on new safeguards that will reflect current information about our rapidly changing power sector. Despite this, and the fact that no one is subject to any compliance obligations under the Clean Power Plan or ACE, coal companies and 21 states are asking the Supreme Court to reverse the D.C. Circuit opinion and issue a statutory interpretation that limits EPA’s ability under the Clean Air Act to protect the public from climate pollution.

Effectively, they are asking the Court for an “advisory” opinion — a free-floating legal opinion untethered to any current dispute but intended to constrain future behavior. EDF is part of a coalition of environmental organizations that – along with almost two dozen states and cities, power companies and business associations – opposes this challenge.

Rather than take up this case in order to consider legal theories in the abstract, the appropriate course would be for the Court to allow EPA to complete its new rulemaking, which will be subject to judicial review once finalized. At that time, reviewing courts will be able to assess EPA’s actual application of its Clean Air Act authority in the context of real compliance obligations and a factual record that reflects current realities.

Here are four key reasons that the petitioners’ pleas for Supreme Court review should fail:

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Also posted in Clean Air Act, Clean Power Plan, Energy, EPA litgation, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Partners for Change, Policy / Leave a comment

What We’re Watching in Reconciliation: Regular Updates from EDF

Photo Credit: John Williams

Through the process known as budget reconciliation, Congress is now crafting a bill that could include significant investments in climate action that will drive economic and job growth. There are going to be a lot of moving parts over the next few weeks, which is why EDF will be weighing in regularly in this space to help break down what’s happening, and why it matters.

Want a primer on the key issues EDF will be watching? Read all about them here. Read More »

Also posted in Cars and Pollution, Climate Change Legislation, Economics, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Health, Policy / Comments are closed

Carbon removal tech could help us draw down historic pollution and go beyond net-zero. But it needs the right policy.

This blog was co-authored by Maureen Lackner, Manager for Economics & Policy at EDF.

This EDF working paper explores policy tools that federal policymakers could use to quickly and responsibly begin deployment of Direct Air Capture facilities, one of several possible carbon removal approaches that could help get the U.S. to net-negative emissions, alongside essential measures to slash pollution.

Carbon Engineering's direct air capture pilot plant.

Carbon Engineering’s direct air capture pilot plant. Photo Credit: Carbon Engineering

The latest report from the IPCC underlined what many already know: action is failing to keep pace with the accelerating climate crisis. A rapid, global transition to net-zero emissions is mission critical since every fraction of a degree in warming could worsen the climate damages we’re already experiencing.

Directly cutting U.S. emissions by moving toward clean energy sources will be the unquestionable priority this decade. But the report also makes clear that we need to scale up carbon dioxide removal (CDR) to reduce the likelihood of the most catastrophic impacts beyond 1.5C warming. The unforgiving math means we will need to harness scientifically-robust ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere through nature — such as managing healthy forests — and through emerging technologies.

One technology-based solution receiving considerable attention is Direct Air Capture with dedicated geologic storage (called DACCS), where carbon is pulled from the air and permanently and safely stored underground.

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Also posted in Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Policy / Read 1 Response

With the Climate Crisis Act, California can lock in a safer pathway to net-zero emissions

The new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes clear what Californians already know: the climate crisis is upon us. Impacts like ever-more-extreme wildfires, intensifying drought, and the growing threat of sea-level rise are accelerating, and the widespread damage are only going to intensify unless we take bold, swift action to slash greenhouse gas emissions.

In California, no person or region will be immune, and the harms from climate change are felt first and worst by communities that historically have borne a disproportionate burden of California’s pollution: communities of people with low wealth, people of color, indigenous people, and farmworkers, among others.

California urgently needs to get on track to meet the state’s 2030 goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below the 1990 level by 2030; it has the slate of policies needed to succeed but must maximize near-term climate ambition. At the same time, it is essential for California to have a long-term vision and ensure that policy decisions made with an eye toward 2030 are consistent with the need to achieve net-zero emissions as swiftly as possible, and no later than 2045.

That’s why it is crucial for California to adopt the new Climate Crisis Act (AB 1395), co-authored by Assembly Members Al Muratsuchi and Cristina Garcia, to dramatically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. This bill will cement California’s commitment to a safer pathway — a pathway that aligns with the science and achieves net-zero emissions — while also providing crucial guidelines that can maximize reductions, preserve environmental integrity and safeguard communities. Here’s why CA lawmakers should back this bill.

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Posted in News / Comments are closed

Climate change threatens Louisiana’s future, but the state is taking bold action to increase its resilience

Louisiana has lost 2,000 square miles of coastal wetlands in less than a century, threatening communities from sea level rise and more intense hurricanes. Photo: Leslie Von Pless, EDF

Louisiana represents the paradox of a modern state shaped by a history of fossil fuel-supported development and structural racism that is now dealing with the climate-driven and social impacts of those choices.

As it attempts to do so, it has become a center of climate adaptation and resilience practices, and more recently, climate mitigation efforts, while seeking the right balance for its people, economy and environment.

The results so far look like this:

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Also posted in Basic Science of Global Warming, Cities and states, Extreme Weather, Science / Comments are closed

New study: Four signs of a growing U.S. supply chain for zero-emissions trucks and buses

Transitioning to zero-emissions trucks and buses is necessary for both climate stability and to protect communities from air pollution. With nearly 23 million diesel-fueled medium and heavy duty trucks and buses operating on roads today in the U.S., moving to zero-emissions technology will result in significant investments in manufacturing, infrastructure, operations and maintenance training, research and development and midlife vehicle businesses.

According to a new analysis conducted by EDF and the consulting firm PwC, a significant amount of investments in the electric truck and bus supply chain has already taken place – yielding a strong and growing domestic supply chain for zero-emissions medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Amidst the findings by EDF and PwC, four indicators stand out most:

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Also posted in Cars and Pollution, Jobs, Policy / Read 2 Responses