Monthly Archives: September 2012

I’m Pro-Climate and I Vote

The climate isn’t interested in political stump speeches. And, sadly, too many politicians and media elites don’t seem to care that much about the climate – at least based on the miniscule attention this monumental issue has garnered so far on the campaign trail.

We need to change that dynamic, and this election season gives us an important opportunity to speak out.

Regardless of your political leanings, one fact should be obvious – if we are ever going to pass strong, lasting national climate and energy legislation to slash America’s global warming pollution, we need to work with liberals, conservatives, and moderates to build sustainable public support.

The good news is that the vast majority of Americans agree that climate change is an important issue and that our leaders should address it. We should leverage this and put pressure on political candidates about the need to seriously confront the climate crisis.

Between now and November 6th, in every community across the country, there will be political rallies, townhalls, campaign events, voter registration drives, get-out-the-vote canvassing, election phone-banking, and more. Take advantage. Participate in these events and talk with your neighbors – and, when possible, directly with political candidates – about the importance of addressing climate change in a serious, comprehensive way.

Whether your elected officials are climate deniers or climate action advocates, they need to hear from you. Because, one thing is certain, in politics, the squeakiest wheels get the environmentally friendly, biodegradable lubricant.

Let’s be squeaky wheels. Let’s declare ourselves Pro-Climate Voters. And let’s commit to using this political campaign to get our message across.

Here are some ways you can help get the message out:

  1. Get involved in your local campaigns. Every city and town in the country has some way to connect with political parties and get involved in local campaign events. And the internet makes it extremely easy to connect locally and sign up to volunteer.
  2. Do your homework. Find out where your candidates stand on climate change and incorporate that into your conversations, i.e. “I really like candidate ___. But I wish he/she understood the importance of climate action.” Or, “I’m really pleased that candidate ___ is such a strong supporter of climate action.”
  3. Speak out. As you engage with people on the campaign trail, talk about the fact that you are a Pro-Climate Voter. Regardless of your positions on other issues, make this part of your conversations with your neighbors.
  4. Strength in numbers. If you have the opportunity to attend a campaign rally or event, make a handheld sign declaring yourself a Pro-Climate Voter. It helps if you can drag friends and family to events to stand next to you with their own Pro-Climate Voter signs.
  5. Use social media. Echo your support for climate action via online social media by commenting on political candidates’ Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and other online channels. Believe us, these comments are closely monitored by campaign staff. With enough comments, we will get their attention.
  6. Keep it simple. You don’t have to be a climate scientist to understand the basics. Carbon dioxide is a heat-trapping gas. We emit CO2 into the atmosphere with every gallon of gas guzzled or pound of coal burned. CO2 has increased in our atmosphere by about a third since the Industrial Revolution. The planet is getting hotter and will continue to warm unless we substantially reduce carbon (and other greenhouse gases). Not one of these statements is in dispute.
  7. Be respectful. People of many different backgrounds may agree or disagree with you on climate change. It serves no purpose to get into a shouting match. An easy standby if you encounter a climate denier is to ask simply, “What if you’re wrong? What if climate change is as bad as the scientists project? What then? Maybe we should think about that too?”

Finally, keep in mind, we won’t win this issue unless and until we win over some folks who are skeptical and get others who are apathetic to at least start engaging. You’re never going to convince everyone, but through respectful dialogue, we can buttress climate action champions and perhaps begin to make changes across the spectrum.

One way or the other, 2013 will be a very important year for climate action. By doing our part, we can apply political pressure on the campaign trail and increase the odds of breakthrough action.

Posted in News / Read 1 Response

Growing Jobs, One Auto Supplier at a Time

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) jointly announced new clean car standards that will benefit America’s economy and our environment.

The standards mean that by 2025 new cars on U.S. roads will average an unprecedented 54.5 miles per gallon.

Those same clean cars will also reduce the levels of dangerous climate pollution from auto emissions.  

Businesses in the auto supply chain are applauding.  According to Fred Keller, Chairman and CEO of Cascade Engineering

The new fuel economy requirements are an example of good regulation developed in the right way. By working with both industry and environmental interests, regulators were able to come up with standards that provide the right incentives and get the right results without putting an undue burden on industry. What’s more, the resulting incentives are positive, as they will encourage manufacturers to develop lighter-weight vehicles and reduce demand for fossil fuels. I recognize it is not always easy to develop regulation in this way, but this should serve as a model for how to do it effectively in the future.

Cascade Engineering has a growing automotive solutions group that focuses on acoustic insulators, chassis & powertrain components, and interior/exterior trim.  

Other companies are praising the new standards as well.

Nam Thai-Tang, Co-Founder and Executive Vice President of ALTe, said this:

ALTe applauds any effort to drive towards greater fuel efficiency in the transportation industry. We are encouraged by the new standards and expect that they will help companies like ours that are developing advance hybrid powertrain technologies for America’s vehicles. 

ALTe manufactures electric vehicle powertrains which are used to increase fuel efficiency and lower emissions.

The new clean car standards follow closely after the first-ever national standards for passenger vehicles, which applied to vehicles in model years 2012 to 2016.

The Administration says that, in total, its national program to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions will save consumers more than $1.7 trillion at the gas pump and reduce U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion barrels.

A joint ACEEE-BlueGreen Alliance report found the standards also would create more than a half million jobs by 2030, including 50,000 jobs in auto manufacturing. (These projections are not surprising. Since the restructuring, auto companies have added 250,000 jobs.)

Fuel economy standards benefit American auto companies and the myriad of suppliers because they create certainty, establish the U.S. as leader in fuel efficiency, and provide incentives for innovation.

Unlike many other industries, the auto sector and its many suppliers can plan for the future knowing the regulatory playing field until 2025.

The new clean car standards stand as among the most progressive in the world, driving the U.S. to a leadership position in fuel-efficient vehicles and technologies–  and toward the opportunity to export everything from parts to final assembled vehicles. 

These rules reward innovation in every facet of auto technologies — from changes to traditional combustion engines such as new materials, electronics, engine re-design, and recirculation of exhaust gas to development of a new generation of electric vehicles, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles. 

Seifi Ghasemi is chairman and chief executive of Rockwood Holdings, the world’s largest producer of lithium and lithium compounds.

He responded to the announcement by noting that:

Rockwood believes that the US can be the world leader in a game-changing technological leap forward by making electric vehicles the cars of the future. 

Mr. Ghasemi further described how Rockwood is already expanding and adding jobs:

For the auto industry and battery makers to adopt this technology, they must have a secure and reliable supply of lithium compounds for advanced electric vehicles. To meet the need for these compounds, Rockwood recently invested more than $75 million in two expansion projects that expands the output of our Silver Peak, Nevada, and Kings Mountain, North Carolina, production facilities.  We expanded our Silver Peak site, which is the only US source of lithium raw materials, and we built and recently opened a state of the art battery grade lithium hydroxide manufacturing plant in Kings Mountain.  In addition, we completed a new Global Technical Center at Kings Mountain that will bring together engineers and scientists to perfect and commercialize advanced battery materials.  These investments provide several economic benefits, including the addition of more than 100 new manufacturing and research and development jobs.  These expansions also reinforce our long-term competitiveness in a vital, growing technology.

As the auto sector continues to demonstrate, strong environmental standards can work in concert with a vision for growth in industries across America.

Posted in Cars and Pollution, Clean Air Act, Economics, Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Jobs, News, Policy, What Others are Saying / Read 1 Response

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.

Posted in Cars and Pollution, Clean Air Act, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Health, News, Policy, What Others are Saying / Comments are closed