Climate 411

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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Climate action is a top priority in the 21st Century Latino Agenda

By: Sindy Benavides, CEO of LULAC, and Esther Sosa, Project Manager at EDF

In the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic exposed inequities in nearly every aspect of life, illustrating the frustrating reality that today, national crises affect everyone but do not impact everyone equally. Similarly, climate change poses a more devastating threat to Latino families. Threats are already felt and cannot be ignored: hurricanes displaced millions in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, fieldworkers face job and food insecurity due to historic droughts, extreme climatic conditions pose a threat to our archaic energy system. In Texas, a winter storm left millions without power and clean water. These climate disasters disproportionately impact the wellbeing, health, and future of Latino families.

As the Biden-Harris Administration works with Congress to rebuild our economy, they must prioritize policies that address the health, economic, and environmental needs of the Latino community. That is why our organizations – the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) – recently joined forces with Corazón Latino, Hispanic Access Foundation, Hispanic Federation, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, and GreenLatinos to host one of a series of conversations to help us build a 21st Century Latino Agenda.

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Senators Manchin, Stabenow and Daines lay out plan to boost manufacturing and innovation

By Toby Short, Associate Vice President, Federal Affairs

My father and grandparents worked in the textile mills in North Carolina. When those mills closed, the once vibrant towns that housed the mills began to shut down as well. My father, being young at the time, ended up moving to find work. But my grandparents stayed because that was the life and the community they knew. And we’ve seen this same story all across America.

A bipartisan group of senators – including Joe Manchin, Debbie Stabenow and Steve Daines – is trying to reverse that trend.

America’s domestic manufacturing once formed the backbone of our country and was the envy of the world. Towns and cities flourished as manufacturing increased, not only lifting up the people that worked in these factories, but the local economies as well. Read More »

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A teachable moment: Zero-emission school buses are a winning proposition

By Larissa Koehler

Every pre-COVID school day, approximately 480,000 school buses carry more than 25 million children to school across the United States. Most of them run on diesel fuel and spew pollution that causes cancer, triggers asthma attacks and makes climate change worse. Indeed, of the over 40,000 school buses registered in the U.S. in 2019, only 240 were zero-emission (and only about 1% of school buses are electric). This picture will not improve without intervention — barring additional measures, only 27,000 of the projected 560,000 school buses that will be built in the next 10 years will be electric.

Luckily, that intervention is starting to arrive. Today Senator Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Senator Murray (D-WA) and Representatives Cardenas (D-CA)  and Hayes (D-CT) introduced the Clean School Bus Act a groundbreaking piece of legislation that will provide grants for infrastructure and vehicles, with an emphasis on deploying them in communities hardest hit by health-impacting air pollution.

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Posted in Cars and Pollution, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Health / Read 2 Responses

Five things to know about the Texas blackouts

1. Our first priority must be to help Texas families

Millions in Texas were without power and drinkable water for days on end, and families across the state are still working to find food and assess the damage from burst pipes. Helping them must be our first priority.

2. Climate change means all of our infrastructure may be more vulnerable to extreme weather. But Texas’ grid wasn’t ready for extreme cold and winter storms.  

While there will be much finger pointing in the days to come, it’s becoming clear that the biggest problem is that ERCOT, the state’s grid operator, as well as the Texas Public Utility Commission that oversees it, haven’t prepared the state’s electricity grid for more extreme weather, including winter storms which may become more common with climate change.

Leaders at all levels should make sure not only power facilities, but all of our infrastructure, is built with resilience in mind & factor climate change impacts in planning. We need policies from the state to ensure Texas is ready.

As the Texas Tribune said, “Texas officials knew winter storms could leave the state’s power grid vulnerable, but they left the choice to prepare for harsh weather up to the power companies — many of which opted against the costly upgrades.”

3. Fossil fuel lobbyists are trying to spin the truth, but natural gas and coal were the biggest part of the problem.
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Eleven facts about clean vehicles to counter gas guzzling lobbyists

The average American household spends about $175 a month on gasoline. That means billions of dollars to oil companies, refiners, and others — and a huge incentive for them to block policies that move America to clean, zero-emissions electric vehicles.

We’re already seeing a coordinated push to stop our leaders from boosting American clean cars, trucks and buses — even though these policies will create jobs and a more just and equitable economy, clean the air, and are popular with the public.

EDF experts have assembled these facts to counter the lobbyists who want to make sure Americans keep paying at the pump.

1. Moving to clean electric vehicles will help America win the race for good jobs today and tomorrow. 

The question isn’t electric vehicles versus gas-powered vehicles — the global industry is already moving to EVs, and spending at least $257 billion this decade to make the switch. The issue is whether American workers will get these jobs. We can build these vehicles in places like Hamtramck, MI and Spartanburg, SC or have them shipped to us from Hamburg and Shanghai. Switching to zero-emissions electric trucks, buses, and cars will create jobs today and help us compete with Europe and China in this rapidly expanding market. Read More »

Posted in Cars and Pollution, Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News, Policy, Setting the Facts Straight / Comments are closed