Climate 411

Governor Inslee is leading the race against climate change. Other governors should keep up.

This post was co-authored by Katelyn Roedner Sutter, Senior Manager, U.S. Climate at EDF

Washington state just officially became the country’s frontrunner on climate action. On Monday, Governor Inslee signed a landmark cap-and-invest bill, called the Climate Commitment Act, which sets the most ambitious limit on climate pollution of any state in the nation. The bill will rapidly drive down emissions in line with Washington’s science-based, climate goals: 45% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 95% by 2050. And in addition to putting the state on the path to a safer climate, the Climate Commitment Act makes crucial steps toward improving local air quality.

Washington’s game-changing legislation arrives at a critical moment for the climate crisis. President Biden has just pledged to cut national emissions 50-52% by 2030, recapturing U.S. climate leadership on the global stage ahead of a major UN climate convening at the end of the year. But it will take serious work to meet this national commitment — a sharp and unwavering focus on putting a policy framework in place that is capable of fully ensuring that pollution declines at the pace and scale required. Washington state is showing exactly how that is done.

The role of state-led action on climate remains vital in meeting this collective challenge too. While Washington state is one of many states to make climate pledges over the past four years, it is one of the few states that is actually delivering policy action to meet them. With the Climate Commitment Act now signed into law, this legislation should serve as a model for other states and for federal policymakers in crafting strong climate policy that 1) meets the urgency of the climate crisis and 2) is designed to make progress in addressing the disproportionate burden of pollution.

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The introduction of Ford’s electric F-150 pickup truck is a big milestone in the race to zero-emission vehicles

We’re about to get a glimpse of what Ford Motor Company envisions for the future.

Ford is planning to reveal its electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck tomorrow. President Biden will visit the Ford Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn Michigan ahead of the announcement.

The unveiling of the F-150 Lightning is the latest in a steady drumbeat of announcements about investments in electric vehicle production and new model offerings – by Ford and nearly every other automaker.

Environmental Defense Fund has sponsored the development of an Electric Vehicles Market Report by MJ Bradley and Associates to track the dynamic landscape around vehicle electrification in the U.S. and globally. In the report’s April 2021 update, the authors found that the number of electric models available to U.S. consumers would increase from 64 to 81 between 2021 and 2023, and that globally, automakers had committed to spending $268 billion through 2030 to develop zero-emitting solutions. Announcements in the last month, since the report came out, have further increased those numbers. For instance, at the end of last week Hyundai announced plans to invest $7.4 billion in the U.S. in electric vehicle manufacturing by 2025.

But in this veritable sea of announcements, the electric F-150 Lightning stands out. Ford CEO Jim Farley has compared the significance of the vehicle to the Model T, the Mustang, the Prius and the Tesla Model 3. For good reason. The F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in the United States for the last 40 years and it has generated more revenue than companies like Nike and Coca-Cola.

And it is a truck. Nothing could more completely shatter any remaining misconceptions about what electric vehicles were in the past, and make clear what they are today:

  • More capable – Ford has said the electric F-150 will be its most powerful in the series and able to power a home during an electrical outage
  • Less costly – EDF analysis shows that someone who purchases a new battery electric vehicle in 2027 will save $5,300 over its lifetime compared to a gasoline vehicle
  • Zero-polluting – These vehicles will eliminate harmful tailpipe emissions that destabilize the climate and harm public health

Ford’s announcement is also an important step toward a future where we have eliminated harmful pollution from cars and trucks. It comes at a pivotal moment when we urgently need ambitious action to protect our climate and public health, to save consumers money, and to safeguard and strengthen the American auto industry.

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Pennsylvania just reached a critical milestone on the path to a clean energy future

Somerset Wind Farm

Four of the wind turbines on the Somerset Wind Farm, in Somerset, Pennsylvania. PC: Jeff Kubina.

This week, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) released its final rule to link the state with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) to reduce carbon pollution from the state’s power plants starting in 2022. This is a momentous step, not only for Pennsylvania, but for the country’s fight against climate change: The Keystone state has the fourth dirtiest power sector in the nation in terms of carbon pollution. With this action, Governor Tom Wolf is showing much-needed leadership on cutting carbon pollution from the power sector, which is a critical piece of achieving the state’s climate goals along with a strong and comprehensive rule to cut methane emissions from existing sources of oil and gas infrastructure in the state.

The final rule stems from a 2019 Executive Order issued by Governor Wolf that came after years of inaction by the legislature to address the substantial air pollution coming from the state’s power sector. The next major step is for the rule to be approved by the Environmental Quality Board in the third quarter of this year and it will then move through the final steps necessary before publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Despite misleading criticisms levied at the program, there is strong support in Pennsylvania for moving forward with limits on carbon, with 79% of Pennsylvanians supporting strict limits on carbon pollution.

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California Accelerates Toward Zero-Emission Vehicle Standards That Will Save Lives, Save Money, Create Jobs

California just moved further down the road toward cleaner cars and vital air pollution reductions.

The state’s Air Resources Board hosted a public workshop on the development of its Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC II) program last week, where it announced that it intends to propose multipollutant standards that will ensure all new cars sold in California are zero-emitting vehicles by 2035.

At the workshop, the Air Resources Board for the first time laid out a proposed trajectory for the ACC II program, charting a course for ensuring 60% of new vehicles sold in 2030 are zero-emitting and 100% of new vehicles sold by 2035 are zero-emitting.

Slide from Air Resources Board workshop presentation, available here

The ACC II program will build from California’s long history of advancing vehicle pollution reductions under Clean Air Act authority. If adopted, the draft standards described at the workshop will reduce health-harming pollution and climate emissions from new passenger vehicles beyond the 2025 model year and increase the number of zero-emission vehicles for sale. They will also reduce climate pollution, deliver jobs, save Californians’ money, and – most important – save lives.

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Posted in California, Cars and Pollution, Cities and states, Green Jobs, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Health, Jobs, News, Policy / Comments are closed

Connecticut can take the lead on creating a cleaner transportation system that cuts climate pollution

Connecticut state capitol building. Photo credit: Avala.

Connecticut is poised to lead the way on creating a cleaner and healthier transportation system – if legislators seize the moment to act. This past March, Connecticut Governor Lamont and 11 co-sponsors in the legislature introduced Senate Bill 884, which would give Connecticut the greenlight to implement a major multi-state program aimed at reducing climate pollution from the transportation sector: the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program (TCI-P).

The stakes are high. Passing this bill would make Connecticut among the first states to place a binding limit on climate pollution from transportation, which accounts for 40% of Connecticut’s greenhouse gas emissions. This is critical as EDF analysis found that Connecticut is off track for meeting its statutory 2030 climate target – and will need more policy action.

And beyond making Connecticut a national leader, TCI-P will bring major economic, public health and equity gains to the state.

Here is why Connecticut legislators should waste no time in putting the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program into action.

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Posted in Cities and states, Greenhouse Gas Emissions / Comments are closed

Maximizing the historic job creation opportunity waiting in our nation’s old and leaking oil and gas wells

By Adam Peltz, Senior Attorney, Energy

After over 150 years of boom and bust oil and gas development, there are over a million inactive, unplugged oil and gas wells across the country. A new study published in the journal Elementa describes how, when not properly plugged, these wells can contaminate groundwater and emit methane as well as harmful chemicals into the atmosphere that endanger the economy and public health in communities where they are found. It also provides suggestions for how to maximize the environmental benefits of efforts to plug these wells.

There are 57,000 documented “orphan” wells across the country, meaning they have no owner of record, at least not one that’s still in business, and hundreds of thousands more orphan wells that are not documented. State, federal and tribal governments are left with the responsibility of plugging these wells – some of which have been abandoned for decades.

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