Climate 411

New analysis: Americans across the country suffered from high ozone pollution levels of this summer

In addition to checking the temperature and the chance of rain before leaving home, many people have been forced to add a new indicator to their daily weather check – air quality.

Ground-level ozone pollution – more commonly known as smog – reached dangerous levels across the U.S. this summer. EDF’s new analysis found that almost every state experienced unhealthy levels of it, with millions of Americans exposed to dangerous air pollution.

The current national standard for ground-level ozone pollution is 70 parts per billion. As you can see from the maps above, 45 states had at least one day between March and August with levels that exceeded that limit.

However, there is a substantial and growing body of scientific evidence that shows serious health effects from ground-level ozone exposure at levels below the current standard. When the data is expanded to consider ground-level ozone levels greater than 60 parts per billion, which would be a health-based standard more consistent with the scientific evidence, the picture of summer ozone levels is even more concerning – all but one state (Hawaii) had at least one day with levels that exceeded that amount.

Our analysis also found:

  • The Western U.S. experienced the worst ozone levels in the country this summer. California, Arizona and Colorado experienced the most high-ozone days between March and August.
  • 343 counties recorded at least one high-ozone day. San Bernardino, California recorded the most exceedances – 112 high-ozone days between March and August, including almost every day in July and August.
  • More than 31 million people live in the 24 counties that had more than 20 high-ozone days between March and August, including Denver County in Colorado, Maricopa County in Arizona, and Los Angeles County in California.
  • If you use the more health-protective standard of 60 parts per billion, a majority of days between March and April had unhealthy ozone levels across the Western U.S.
  • In Arizona, under the 60 parts per billion standard, 89% of days between March and August had unhealthy ozone levels somewhere in the state.

(See the full analysis here)

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Also posted in Cities and states, News, Policy, Smog / Leave a comment

What We’re Watching in Reconciliation: Regular Updates from EDF

Photo Credit: John Williams

Through the process known as budget reconciliation, Congress is now crafting a bill that could include significant investments in climate action that will drive economic and job growth. There are going to be a lot of moving parts over the next few weeks, which is why EDF will be weighing in regularly in this space to help break down what’s happening, and why it matters.

Want a primer on the key issues EDF will be watching? Read all about them here. Read More »

Also posted in Cars and Pollution, Climate Change Legislation, Economics, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News, Policy / Comments are closed

What We’re Watching in Reconciliation

Photo Credit: Wally Gobetz

Through the process known as budget reconciliation, Congress is now considering significant investments in climate action that could supercharge economic and job growth. With so many moving pieces, it can be difficult to know what to watch for, which is why we’ve homed in on four key questions to ask as the process unfolds.

EDF staff will also be weighing in on key developments as they happen, and you can read those comments in a new, regularly updated blog post you can read here. Read More »

Also posted in Cars and Pollution, Energy, Green Jobs, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Jobs / Comments are closed

EPA Expected to Act Soon on Mercury and Air Toxics Standards

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards have slashed dangerous pollution and prevented thousands of premature deaths since their creation in 2012.

 

Despite this success, the Trump administration undermined the legal foundation for the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards in 2020. But the Environmental Protection Agency is soon expected to release a proposal that would restore the legal basis for limiting hazardous air pollution from coal-fired power plants under the Clean Air Act.

 

It’s critical for the health of American families that EPA does so — and that EPA then further strengthens the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.

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

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

Driving the electric vehicle transition: auto companies and states step up to lead

If you watched any major televised sporting events this year, from the NCAA Final Four to the Super Bowl, you saw ad after ad showcasing American auto companies’ new electric cars. It’s proof that electric vehicles (EVs) are ready for a mainstream market – you don’t pay Will Ferrell and LeBron James to promote your car just to niche buyers.

Momentum is clearly building. Companies are prepared to capitalize on the economic benefits of EVs, for both consumers and autoworkers, as well as the climate and health benefits that all Americans will see.

In the last three months, some of the largest automakers in the U.S. and the world have committed to dramatically expanding their EV lineup. They have announced plans to invest billions of dollars in EV development, and plans to transition to an all-electric future by 2035 or earlier.

The Biden administration made a commitment last week to reduce U.S. climate pollution by at least 50 percent by 2030 – a commitment that was supported by major automakers and that will require significant emission reductions from the transportation sector.

States are also playing a leading role in driving progress. Last week, a bipartisan group of 12 governors detailed the important role that states have played in deploying zero-emitting vehicles and urged the Biden administration to move forward with ambitious standards that would eliminate pollution from all motor vehicles. And next week, the California Air Resources Board will hold a workshop related to its development of Advanced Clean Car II standards – standards that are expected to help the state ensure all new vehicles sold in California are zero-emitting by 2035.

The transportation sector is responsible for over a quarter of U.S. climate pollution – more than any other sector. The transportation sector also emits a slew of health-harming pollutants, including oxides of nitrogen and particulate pollution. The transportation sector is key to meaningful climate action.

To achieve meaningful reductions in transportation pollution, it will be key for the administration follow automakers’ commitments and state leadership with bold, decisive air pollution standards that put the U.S. on a path to ensure all new vehicles are zero-emitting no later than 2035 for passenger cars and trucks, and no later than 2040 for freight trucks and buses.

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Also posted in Cars and Pollution, Economics, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Jobs, Policy / Comments are closed