Climate 411

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, Health, News / Comments are closed

Four Reasons Petitions for Supreme Court Review of Climate Pollution Standards for Power Plants Should Fail

This coming Monday, the Supreme Court will consider hundreds of petitions for review, which ask the Court to take up cases for full consideration during its new term. Among the petitions for review are four from coal companies and states asking the Court to review the D.C. Circuit decision overturning the Trump administration’s rule weakening regulations of carbon pollution from power plants. For multiple reasons the four petitions lack merit.

The Clean Power Plan, adopted in 2015, established the first-ever national limits on climate pollution from existing power plants. In 2019, the Trump administration adopted regulations to repeal the Clean Power Plan and replace it with the “ACE” rule – which did virtually nothing to limit pollution.

This January the D.C. Circuit struck down this attempt, issuing a narrow opinion that explained how ACE misinterpreted specific language in section 111 of the Clean Air Act.

In the months since the D.C. Circuit’s decision, neither the Clean Power Plan nor the Trump administration’s weak replacement rule has been in effect, meaning that no power plants or operators have experienced harm under either rule. Additionally, EPA has been working from a clean slate on new safeguards that will reflect current information about our rapidly changing power sector. Despite this, and the fact that no one is subject to any compliance obligations under the Clean Power Plan or ACE, coal companies and 21 states are asking the Supreme Court to reverse the D.C. Circuit opinion and issue a statutory interpretation that limits EPA’s ability under the Clean Air Act to protect the public from climate pollution.

Effectively, they are asking the Court for an “advisory” opinion — a free-floating legal opinion untethered to any current dispute but intended to constrain future behavior. EDF is part of a coalition of environmental organizations that – along with almost two dozen states and cities, power companies and business associations – opposes this challenge.

Rather than take up this case in order to consider legal theories in the abstract, the appropriate course would be for the Court to allow EPA to complete its new rulemaking, which will be subject to judicial review once finalized. At that time, reviewing courts will be able to assess EPA’s actual application of its Clean Air Act authority in the context of real compliance obligations and a factual record that reflects current realities.

Here are four key reasons that the petitioners’ pleas for Supreme Court review should fail:

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Also posted in Clean Air Act, Clean Power Plan, Energy, EPA litgation, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News, Partners for Change / Comments are closed

We need to go big to solve the climate crisis

Johnny Lye. iStock

The environmental integrity of emissions reductions depends on scale and systemic changes, not on sector of origin of the emissions

We urgently need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions far beyond current climate pledges, even if these were fully attained. But there’s a completely doable way to make major progress, near to hand.

Natural climate solutions can provide 20% of all the emissions reductions we need by 2050 to keep average global warming under 2 C. Stopping tropical deforestation, allowing tropical forests to regenerate and restoring degraded lands are the most important methods, particularly in the next decade. Letting countries or companies that exceed ambitious targets trade their surplus emissions reductions to those who fall short would permit much greater global emissions reductions than not trading. Countries could reach their targets more quickly, and trading would create more incentive to protect and restore land.

Some researchers and policy makers have held that nature-based solutions, such as stopping deforestation, are too risky. A forest you protect today could burn down tomorrow. But in fact, this problem exists with all emissions reductions, not only those based in terrestrial carbon. And nature-based solutions are worth considering as many of the highest quality and highest value emissions reductions that are feasible in the coming years.

A new article in Environmental Research Letters by scientists and economists from the Environmental Defense Fund and Princeton University shows that the best way to execute emissions reductions – whether they are from protecting forests or cutting down on fossil fuel –is to go big.

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Also posted in Brazil, Carbon Markets, Forest protection, International, REDD+ / Comments are closed

Congress: It’s Time for Ambitious Action on Climate Change

Photo Credit: BeyondDC

Congress is building momentum toward bold clean energy policies that will create millions of jobs, accelerate clean energy and fight climate change. The bipartisan infrastructure deal the Senate passed in August was a positive and necessary first step. And now, we are looking forward to ambitious action that will help tackle the broad scope of the climate change crisis we all face.

We are focused on ensuring Congress does not miss this historic opportunity to drive down emissions in the power and transportation sectors, particularly in ways that advance environmental justice. Read More »

Also posted in Climate Change Legislation / 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, Health / Comments are closed

Carbon removal tech could help us draw down historic pollution and go beyond net-zero. But it needs the right policy.

This blog was co-authored by Maureen Lackner, Manager for Economics & Policy at EDF.

This EDF working paper explores policy tools that federal policymakers could use to quickly and responsibly begin deployment of Direct Air Capture facilities, one of several possible carbon removal approaches that could help get the U.S. to net-negative emissions, alongside essential measures to slash pollution.

Carbon Engineering's direct air capture pilot plant.

Carbon Engineering’s direct air capture pilot plant. Photo Credit: Carbon Engineering

The latest report from the IPCC underlined what many already know: action is failing to keep pace with the accelerating climate crisis. A rapid, global transition to net-zero emissions is mission critical since every fraction of a degree in warming could worsen the climate damages we’re already experiencing.

Directly cutting U.S. emissions by moving toward clean energy sources will be the unquestionable priority this decade. But the report also makes clear that we need to scale up carbon dioxide removal (CDR) to reduce the likelihood of the most catastrophic impacts beyond 1.5C warming. The unforgiving math means we will need to harness scientifically-robust ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere through nature — such as managing healthy forests — and through emerging technologies.

One technology-based solution receiving considerable attention is Direct Air Capture with dedicated geologic storage (called DACCS), where carbon is pulled from the air and permanently and safely stored underground.

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Also posted in Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News / Read 1 Response