Energy Exchange

Congress should act now to accelerate the transition to zero-emission trucks

Every mode of freight transportation – from planes and trains, to trucks and ships — has a significant pollution footprint that dirties the air in communities near freight facilities and highways, while contributing to the climate crisis.

Yet, reducing pollution from the freight movement is not primarily a technology matter. It is a matter of political will.

Today, I hope to convey this message before two House Transportation & Infrastructure subcommittees at an important hearing on the economic, environmental and societal impacts of freight transportation. I also hope that my testimony — and that of others at the hearing — will help the House develop a 2020 transportation bill that builds on the Senate’s version of the Highway Reauthorization Bill approved earlier this year.

With Congressional leadership, we can make tremendous strides in reducing the nearly 11,000 premature deaths annually occurring from exposure to freight pollution in this country and put the sector on a path to contribute to a 100% clean economy by 2050.

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Also posted in Electric Vehicles / Comments are closed

New study finds elevated health risks due to pollution from oil and gas activity in Colorado

By Ananya Roy and Tammy Thompson

As production of oil and gas in the United States has expanded, it’s no longer uncommon to see rigs and well pads nestled in communities. For example, Weld County in Colorado ranked fourth in the nation for population growth in 2017, and has issued thousands of new permits for oil and gas extraction in the past few years. Emissions from the intensive energy development sprouting along highways, in fields and within sight of homes, playgrounds and school yards has led to concerns about rising pollution from this industry and the subsequent health risks.

Communities are concerned about all of the emissions from these operations but focus on the brew of volatile organic compounds that include benzene, toluene and ethyl benzene, since some are known carcinogens or have established impacts on the brain, lungs and blood. VOC emissions, however, vary considerably between different processes. Well sites and changing weather conditions either spread or concentrate the pollution over different distances and directions, suggesting that intermittent measurement campaigns are inadequate to capture population exposures and risks.

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Also posted in Colorado, Methane / Comments are closed

How companies are using electric trucks to reduce air pollution and save money

Earlier this year, Amazon announced it would purchase 100,000 electric trucks like this one as part of its efforts to reduce the company’s carbon footprint.

What do Amazon, Goodwill and PepsiCo have in common? They’re all investing in heavy-duty electric trucks. It’s a move that’s making great strides to reduce air pollution and save money.

Fortunately for these companies, making the switch to electric fleets is about to get a whole lot easier. The California Air Resources Board has just proposed a new standard that will require heavy-duty automotive manufacturers to produce more electric, zero-emission vehicles. Beginning in 2024, there could be thousands more new electric fleet vehicles on the market in California.

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Also posted in California, Electric Vehicles / Comments are closed

Illinois PUC decision may signal changing tide for natural gas utilities

While economic and environmental concerns have driven significant electric sector improvements, climate impacts of continued reliance on natural gas for heating and cooking has gone largely unchecked. A recent decision by the Illinois Commerce Commission sends a signal that natural gas utilities will not be permitted to invest customer dollars unchecked.

State public utilities commissions regulate natural gas distribution utilities and set their rates of return, one component of which is “return on equity.” These regulators thus have a tremendous influence on the long-term profitability of utilities and their investment decisions. Higher rates of return incentivize greater system buildout — the more the utility builds, the greater their profit.

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Also posted in Illinois, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

California fires, electricity outages need not be “the new normal”

A dire, almost defeatist thread has been running through social media and other commentary around the California wildfires and the widespread, preemptive electricity outages across the state. The sense of urgency about catastrophic side effects of climate change is right on. And it is true that fixing our electric grid will be a long and mighty task.

But we do not —and should not — have to accept this as “the new normal.”

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Also posted in California, Grid Modernization, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Methane regulations can help transform Mexico’s energy sector

One year ago this week, Mexico took an immense step forward by passing the world’s most comprehensive regulations to reduce oil and gas methane emissions. Since then, oil and gas companies and the Mexican government have been collaborating to develop concrete plans to make this happen and to ensure that the country is on track to deliver on its climate goals. In June 2016 Mexico, along with the US and Canada, committed to reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40-45% by 2025, a target that is in line with the stated goals of the United Nations’ Convention on Climate Change.

But, is this enough? That is a question Mexico’s government and its national oil company, Pemex, should be asking today, because the country deserves more.

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Also posted in Methane, Methane regulatons, Texas / Comments are closed