Climate 411

Why linking carbon markets boosts climate and economic benefits for US states

This post was co-authored by Natalie Hurd, Western states climate policy intern at EDF.

photo of a smokestack at sunset

Photo Credit: Pexels

The Supreme Court’s recent ruling to constrain EPA’s ability to limit climate pollution from existing power plants took away a critical tool to fight climate change at the federal level, making state-level action more important than ever. On the West Coast of the U.S., where states have been stepping up as climate leaders, the impacts of climate change are ever more severe and apparent, with scientists warning of a global wildfire crisis and finding that the West’s current megadrought is the worst in over 1,200 years. It is painfully apparent that states need to use – and strengthen – every tool at their disposal to reduce climate pollution now. 

Even states that have put – or are in the process of putting – in place economy-wide pollution limits alongside a price on carbon, like California and Washington state, can scale up action by linking their programs with other states or jurisdictions. Here’s how states can make the most of linking their programs – and the major benefits it can bring.

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Also posted in Carbon Markets, News / Read 1 Response

With the final Healthy Climate Plan, Michigan has the chance to lead on climate – but it must turn commitments into action

Detroit, Michigan

Detroit, Michigan. Photo credit: Pixabay.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the coal industry and its allies to curtail the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to tackle climate pollution from existing fossil fuel power plants. This setback makes action in Michigan and in states across the country – where governors and regulators have powerful tools to deliver meaningful climate action – more important than ever.

Fortunately, Michigan already has a head-start on several other states because in April, the state released the final version of the MI Healthy Climate Plan, an important next step in turning Governor Whitmer’s climate commitments into action. As the governor highlighted in the plan release, communities across Michigan have already been hit by a range of climate change impacts, “from a polar vortex and historic floods to dam breaks and week-long power outages,” and those threats will worsen without strong action.

Where does Michigan stand on climate progress now that it’s published this new Plan? Here are the major advances in the Plan, as well as areas where critical additional work is needed.

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Posted in Cities and states / Comments are closed

How RGGI cuts carbon and costs

This summer, electricity bills across the U.S. are poised to climb higher as a consequence of volatile fossil fuel costs and climate change impacts like extreme heat.

Rising natural gas prices, affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, are expected to drive up costs in the U.S., including in places like Pennsylvania and Virginia where a significant number of households and businesses are reliant on natural gas for electricity. On top of this, extreme heat around the country is expected to drive up demand as people work to cool down with more air-conditioning use while heat, storms and other climate change-fueled impacts continue to increase the risk of blackouts.

In short, this summer is showing us the value of moving toward a clean, reliable and resilient power sector. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a market-based, multi-state climate program throughout the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, has been driving progress on a cleaner power sector for over a decade now. Since the program began in 2008, RGGI states have reduced carbon pollution from power plants by over 50% and increased renewable energy generation by 73%.

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Also posted in Carbon Markets, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News / Read 2 Responses

The scoop on the Scoping Plan: California’s draft plan misses the opportunity for greater climate ambition (Part 1)

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

solar array in California

Photo Credit: Tom Brewster photography for the Bureau of Land Management.

In May, the California Air Resources Board released the draft 2022 Climate Change Scoping Plan, a roadmap that will guide the state toward meeting its 2030 emissions target and achieving net-zero emissions no later than 2045. This four-part series will unpack several key aspects of the plan and evaluate whether they raise California’s climate ambition to the levels needed to protect communities from the worst climate impacts.

California has long been known as a global climate leader, but that title has to be constantly re-earned as the climate crisis accelerates and new leaders raise the bar. The state’s Scoping Plan, which is updated every five years, presents a major opportunity to re-evaluate its strategies to drive down climate pollution based on the latest science, policy and technological developments.

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Also posted in California, Carbon Markets / Read 1 Response

Mercury pollution from coal plants is still a danger to Americans. We need stronger standards to protect us.

Mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants is extremely dangerous — it causes brain damage in babies and is associated with heart disease and many other serious health issues.

Fortunately, mercury pollution has fallen significantly since EPA finalized the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards in 2012. However, despite the success of the standards in reducing pollution as a significantly lower than projected cost, many power plants continue to emit mercury and other dangerous air pollutants in large quantities. That means stronger safeguards are needed to protect the health of Americans across the country.

The top 30 power plants for mercury pollution

Coal-fired power plants continue to be the largest source of mercury pollution in the United States, accounting for approximately 8,800 pounds of mercury emissions in 2017 alone. Mercury is emitted in the combustion process of coal and other fossil fuels. Coal has much higher mercury concentrations than other fossil fuels, which explains why coal-fired power plants often emit larger quantities of mercury pollution than do power plants that burn other fossil fuels.

Mercury pollution from coal plants is particularly severe in certain parts of the country. EDF just published the above map, based on estimates calculated using publicly available data from 2020. It shows the top 30 power plants emitting the highest amount of mercury pollution in the country.

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Also posted in Clean Air Act, Health, News, Policy / Comments are closed

Protective pollution safeguards can dramatically increase deployment of zero-emission freight trucks and buses

Photo: Scharfsinn86

A new study developed by Roush Industries for EDF shows rapidly declining costs for zero-emission freight trucks and buses, underscoring the feasibility of rapidly deploying these vehicles that will help us save money, have healthier air, and address the climate crisis.

The study, Medium- and Heavy-Duty Electrification Cost Evaluation, analyzes the cost of electrifying vehicles in several medium and heavy-duty market segments, including transit and school buses, shuttle and delivery vehicles, and garbage trucks – vehicles that typically operate in cities where average trip distances are short and the health and pollution effects of transportation pollution are of particular concern. It projects the upfront costs of buying an electric vehicle instead of a diesel vehicle, and the total cost of ownership for electric vehicles in model years 2027 to 2030.

The study finds that a rapid transition to electric freight trucks and buses makes economic sense when considering both the upfront purchase cost and the total cost of ownership.

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Also posted in Cars and Pollution, Clean Air Act, Economics, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Health, News, Policy / Comments are closed