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- Moms and Parents Gather in Sacramento to Show Support for Climate and Clean Energy Action
By Loni Russell
Who among us has not felt the power of a mom? My mom was one of the hardest-working women I’ve ever known, yet she still found the time to do so much for me. So when moms take on the role of advocates and activists, watch out.
Last week, moms in California showed up big time. And as the lead organizer for that event, I’m here to give you a birds-eye view of what happens when moms decide to raise their voices.
On Thursday, May 21, over 40 mothers, parents, grandparents, and supporters from across California gathered in Sacramento at the state capitol building for our Mamma Summit California. The Mamma Summit is part of a series of events hosted by Moms Clean Air Force (MCAF), an organization which encourages and enables moms and parents to advocate for climate action for the health and future of their families. We at MCAF teamed up with Environmental Defense Fund, Climate Parents, the American Lung Association in California, The Greenlining Institute, and California Interfaith Power and Light to put together a full day of advocacy for participants.
Our group of moms, motivated to make their voices heard, showed up bright and early to the Capitol. They came to tell lawmakers that they expect California to continue to lead on fighting climate change and supporting clean energy to protect their air and keep their kids healthy and thriving. We were honored that the Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León, architect of this year’s Senate climate package on which the Summit’s advocacy was based, greeted us first thing in the morning to thank the parents for their resolve. Senators Fran Pavley, mother in her own right of California’s climate leadership, and Richard Pan, staunch defender of children’s health, also came by to thank us for being there and reinforce the importance of our presence.
Breaking into smaller groups for legislative office visits, MCAF representatives shared with 25 elected representatives and their staff why issues of clean air, clean energy, and climate action are important to them, their families, and their communities. And, the MCAF representatives highlighted how some pending bills on climate pollution and energy can make a lasting difference. In the Senate, SB 350 (De León, Leno) and SB 32 (Pavley) together set an overarching greenhouse gas pollution reduction target of 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 and call for a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use, 50 percent renewable energy target, and a 50 percent increase in energy efficiency in existing buildings. In the Assembly, Speaker Toni Atkins is leading her chamber with AB 1288, a bill which also recognizes the importance of long-term targets for California’s cap-and-trade program. Further, Natural Resources Committee Chair Das Williams is advancing AB 645 to strengthen the state’s renewable portfolio standard to 50 percent by 2030. Finally, the MCAF folks made sure to thank California’s leaders for their amazing work to protect California families on these issues.
After the meetings everyone reconvened for a great lunch hosted by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez – a strong advocate for families and mother of two in San Diego. During the lunchtime program, speakers offered unique perspectives on why we need to continue to fight for the health of our families and communities through climate action. Will Barrett of American Lung Association in California presented the progress made in air quality as well as the work still needed to make air everywhere healthy to breath. Sekita Grant from The Greenlining Institute reminded us of the vitality of making our climate and clean energy solutions equitable and available to all communities, especially low and moderate income communities and communities of color. And then the honorable Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez shared her vision of a future that balances different priorities such as climate, jobs, and equity. But there was one connecting thread: Moms make a difference, are powerful advocates for change, and they’re going to continue to do everything they can to protect the health of our children and keep polluters accountable.
As Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez remarked, “Nobody is stronger or more passionate for what they want to see in the future than moms.” And from my perspective, even though it’s my job to live and breathe MCAF almost every day, I never, ever fail to get truly inspired by all the passionate moms, parents, grandparents, and supporters who rally together to link the issue of fighting climate change to fighting for the future of our families. Their strong and consistent voices shed a light of hope that we can tackle these problems and make a better future for those who come after us, especially our kids, and I’m glad those voices were heard in California.Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: May 27, 2015 - 9:32 pm
- World’s carbon markets case studies highlight different models of emissions tradingRead more »May 27, 2015Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: May 27, 2015 - 9:16 pm
- Texas Takes Positive Step toward Realizing Its Solar PotentialRead more »May 27, 2015Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: May 27, 2015 - 6:29 pm
- Don't Let Congress Send America's Fisheries BackwardDon't let Congress send America's fisheries back to the brink. C4.Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: May 27, 2015 - 5:38 pm
- Those Who Forget History in Texas are Doomed to Repeat It
Recently, the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office announced plans to challenge the US EPA’s clean power plan. A few days afterwards, Texas Governor and former state attorney general Greg Abbott pledged support for McConnell’s Just Say No campaign.
Apparently Texas has a short memory. Just a couple of years ago, Texas lost a series of challenges to EPA regarding GHG permitting. Texas refused to issue GHG permits to new and modified large industrial sources of greenhouse gas emissions, resulting in the establishment of a dual permitting system, where these industrial facilities, like power plants and refineries, needed to apply to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for some air permits and separately to EPA for the portion of their permit addressing greenhouse gases. Ultimately, however, Texas industry urged the state to issue the greenhouse gas portion of these air quality permits as well, and in an about face, and after spending millions of taxpayer dollars fighting common sense regulations, the state of Texas now issues the state’s GHG permits.
Those who forget history in Texas are doomed to repeat it.
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And of course the state’s most recent loss, an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to rehear a case that continued to challenge these measures to reduce climate pollution.
So why should Texas support a clean power plan? Here are 10 great reasons:
- There are currently no national limits on carbon pollution from power plants. Texas is home to some of the highest polluting power plants in the country.
- Power plants account for almost 40 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from energy. Texas’s Martin Lake plant is one of the country’s 10 highest polluting plants.
- In 2011, carbon pollution from the U.S. power sector exceeded total pollution levels from all nations except the U.S. and China.
- The worst-offending power plant in the United States produced more than 21 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2011 – more than the total energy-related emissions of eight states and 120 countries. The Clean Power Plan will reduce this harmful pollution, providing states with a great deal of flexibility to craft plans that leverage low- and zero-carbon emitting sources like renewable generation and energy efficiency.
- Between 2011 and 2013, wind generation in the United States increased by 40 percent. Texas ranks number one in the nation for wind energy capacity.
- Between 2010 and 2011, green jobs grew four times as fast as other jobs. Texas ranks second nationally for employment in the renewable energy industry.
- Every dollar invested into clean energy creates approximately three times as many jobs as the same dollar invested into fossil fuels.
- In 2012, rooftop solar panels cost approximately one percent of what they did 35 years earlier.
- In 2010, Americans using ENERGY STAR products and retrofits saved the energy equivalent of approximately 45 power plants — preventing 195 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, and saving more than $20 billion in their energy bills.
- More than 64 percent of Americans support establishing carbon dioxide emission limits on existing power plants.
Wake up, Texas leadership. Wouldn’t it be better to leverage our innovation and renewable riches toward a clean energy future, instead of remaining in the dark ages?Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: May 27, 2015 - 5:24 pm
- Latest Mississippi River Delta News: May 27, 2015
Coastal restoration group details progress made with wetlandsRead more »
*features Kim Reyher, CRCL
By Bridget Mire, Daily Comet. May 26, 2015
"One of the approaches we're really supportive of is the use of sediment diversion," she said. "The basic idea is to put the (Mississippi) River back to work building land. The river's been constrained behind levees for so long, and we're not using the tool that we have.” (Read More)
On the Bayou: Front Lines of Climate Change
By Gabe Schwartzman, Daily Yonder. May 26, 2015
"Southern Louisiana, faced with increasingly powerful storms, disappearing swamps, sinking land, and now, rising seas, has become the American test case for dealing with climate change. And if Katrina was the precedent for an urban climate crisis, Louisiana’s bayous have become the pilot site for dealing with climate change in rural American. This means working on mitigation, resiliency, and relocation.” (Read More)Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: May 27, 2015 - 3:20 pm
- Feds call for cooperative conservation on sage grouse, states deliver
By Eric Holst
Last week, leaders of the four federal agencies dealing most closely with issues surrounding the greater sage-grouse delivered a strong public message: As long as stakeholders continue to work together, we can save this bird and preclude the need for listing.
The message was powerful – not just because it was endorsed by four of our nation’s top thinkers on conservation, but because it was optimistic.
“We have seen what’s possible when we all pull our oars in the same direction,” they wrote.
This is a fundamental turning of the tides in the conversation around sage grouse. Previously, the dialogue has been pointed, with industry interests, agriculture interests and wildlife interests caught in crosshairs. But the discourse has changed, and it’s because the situation on the ground has changed.
A sagebrush sea change
Across the West, groups of stakeholders are working together to develop habitat exchanges – voluntary market-based programs that offer advanced mitigation for sage grouse and other species by supporting strong and consistent standards.
If you were to go out to sage grouse country in Nevada, you would find a pilot project underway in which a rancher is managing his land to enhance grouse habitat. These habitat improvements may eventually be sold as a conservation credit under the Nevada Conservation Credit System – a habitat exchange recently adopted by the state of Nevada. The project is currently in the field data collection phase to determine conservation outcomes that can help to inform future projects.
Earlier this month, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper issued an executive order encouraging energy and other developers in the state to pursue sage grouse mitigation through the Colorado Habitat Exchange.
A multi-stakeholder effort is underway in Wyoming to build a version of habitat exchanges – the Wyoming Conservation Exchange – to voluntarily enroll farmers and ranchers in conservation commitments as soon as this summer.
In May, Montana passed legislation designating $10 million to sage grouse conservation efforts. You guessed it – the legislation recognized market-based habitat exchanges as a mechanism to provide conservation.
Need more on board
At least four of the 11 sage grouse states have answered the federal call for cooperative conservation with habitat exchange programs that have the potential to deliver big for this bird. But the job isn’t done yet.
We need to continue building momentum – in the form of conservation dollars and regulatory assurances for market participants – to reach full market potential.
Now is the time to step up. We need to continue pulling our oars in the same direction.Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: May 27, 2015 - 2:55 pm
- New research helps farmers set targets for reducing emissions
The easiest way to tackle fertilizer pollution is to lower the amount of nitrogen applied to crops, thereby reducing nutrient losses into the air and water. The problem is, reducing fertilizer rates can also shrink crop yields, which means less income for farmers and less food on our plates.
So here’s the question: how can we slash nitrous oxide emissions from agriculture without sacrificing productivity?
To meet this challenge, scientists need to understand the relationship between “nitrogen surplus” (the amount of applied nitrogen fertilizer not taken up by the plant), “nutrient use efficiency” (the ratio of how much yield you get from each pound of fertilizer applied) and nitrous oxide emissions that contribute to climate change. The more nitrogen a plant absorbs, the less it releases into the air in the form of nitrous oxide and into the water where it can contribute to harmful algal blooms.
Until now, the only option for farmers wanting to reduce nitrous oxide emissions has been to reduce their fertilizer rate and risk impacting yield. But new research by EDF’s Trevor Anderson suggests that nitrous oxide emissions can be reduced by shifting the balance between fertilizer rate and crop yield in ways that can actually increase farm income.
Emissions tipping points
Trevor examined interactions between these measures of fertilizer use and found that reductions in nitrogen surplus levels and associated increases in nutrient use efficiency rates can reduce greenhouse gases – but only up until a certain threshold of emissions is reached:
- When the nitrogen surplus amount is less than 50 kilograms per hectare, greenhouse gas emissions stay stable. But if more than 50 kilograms of nitrogen per hectare is left in the soil after application, nitrous oxide emissions start to skyrocket.
- When it comes to nutrient use efficiency, farmers who produced at least 60 kilograms of grain per one kilogram of fertilizer applied saw emissions reductions. But beyond this tipping point, increases in efficiency rate no longer have a significant effect on reducing emissions.
These findings allow farmers to set specific targets for nutrient applications and emissions reductions – and to measure avoided GHG emissions. These data can help facilitate their participation in new carbon markets for agriculture that will soon be on the horizon.
Farmers looking to gather data on their operations can do two things to help determine nutrient optimization: use a soil test to measure the amount of nitrogen leftover in the soil at harvest time, and/or they can calculate the nitrogen surplus amount by using their nitrogen application rate and their yield.
More data needed
Trevor examined 13 peer-reviewed studies from seven locations across the U.S., and conducted a meta-analysis of nearly 300 emissions data points.
“We tried to focus our research in the Midwest, but there weren’t enough data,” noted Trevor. “So we examined a broader swath of the U.S. and focused on continuous corn and corn-soybean crop rotations.”
What we do know is that reducing nitrogen surplus can improve or increase nutrient use efficiency. And we now know that there are tipping points beyond which efficiencies don’t have a significant effect on nitrous oxide emissions.
Trevor’s research also pointed out that the best way to reduce emissions while maintaining yields is to maximize “nitrogen uptake,” the amount of nitrogen that is absorbed by plants. But we don’t know enough about how to do this. That’s our next research challenge.Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: May 26, 2015 - 8:22 pm
- Federal Appeals Court Backs EPA Plan to Reduce Air Pollution from Power Plants in KansasRead more »May 26, 2015Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: May 26, 2015 - 7:06 pm
- The Who What Why and How of Safer Chemicals
This installment of our Pillars of Leadership series explores Supply Chain Transparency.
You can’t act on what you don’t know. And if you can’t take informed action, you can’t innovate in smart and sustainable ways. A key step toward achieving industry leadership on chemicals is to gain a full understanding of the chemical supply chain.
Supply Chain Transparency informs a company’s decisions to effectively mitigate risk of current or pending chemical regulations (see here) and to efficiently allocate resources towards product innovation (see here). It also improves the data-set for product life cycle assessments, thereby yielding more firm-specific results. Above all, Supply Chain Transparency helps a company define and understand its starting point and its goals.
What does Supply Chain Transparency mean explicitly? EDF defines true transparency leadership as knowing the What, How Much, Why, and Who of the chemicals in one’s products.
- What are the chemical ingredients: Companies should strive for full transparency at the product level. This means knowing all the intentionally added chemicals, including those in chemical mixtures like fragrances, as well as known contaminants that occur in the making of the product. As shown in our recent case study series, Seventh Generation moved to a different surfactant in its cleaning products to prevent contamination from 1,4 dioxane, a common residual contaminant in surfactant chemistries, recognized as a probable human carcinogen.
Achieving full transparency of the product prepares a company to respond to the changing regulatory landscape as well as shifting consumer demands. Consider, for example, that many jurisdictions have begun restricting or banning the use of certain types of phthalates commonly used in fragrance mixtures. It makes good business sense to have a full picture of product composition.
Obtaining generic chemical names is a start to knowing what’s in products, but the unique numerical identifier given to each chemical substance – the CAS number, or CASRN – pinpoints exact chemical identity and helps avoid confusion when some chemicals are referred to by multiple generic names. The “What” is the linchpin of leadership on Supply Chain Transparency.
- How much is used: It is critical to know the concentration of chemicals in a product to understand potential exposure. Per-product data better informs the potential risk from the use of one product. Concentration information at the product category and portfolio level aid in assessing aggregate exposure, the risk of exposure to a single chemical via all possible exposure routes and sources. When dealing with How Much, EDF recommends that companies avoid concentration thresholds, or de minimis levels, that allow small amounts of purposefully added chemicals to go undisclosed. If a chemical is part of a product formula, it needs to be known.
- Why is an ingredient used: Understanding why a chemical is used in a product is about knowing its functional value. A chemical may be added as a preservative to prevent microbial growth, as a fragrance for scent, as a dye to impart color, and so on. Knowing this information also helps to identify those areas, such as product preservation, where diversity of safer ingredient options may be lacking. This in turn can spur research and development of new alternatives that can meet the functional requirements with reduced human or environmental health impacts. A company should gather functional data on all ingredients present in the final product.
- Who makes the ingredients: While a company’s direct suppliers, or Tier One suppliers, provide the first level of transparency into a product, they may not know the full formulation of a particular ingredient, such as a preservative or fragrance mixture. In addition, a product may contain chemicals of concern that occur as contaminants, such as 1,4 dioxane, mentioned above. To be fully knowledgeable, a company often needs to go beyond its immediate suppliers to secondary and tertiary sources, sometimes even to raw material suppliers. Building relationships with suppliers can improve ingredient transparency along the supply chain and facilitate innovative changes to formulations.
Overcoming hurdles on the path to leadership
Data management: Ingredient data management can be a laborious task, as companies often maintain complex product portfolios and large supply chains. An effective management process captures, stores, updates, verifies, and analyzes ingredient information. Paper-based data management continues to be a common initial step, particularly when financial resources are low or transparency initiatives are just getting off the ground, but it can be slow, tedious, and susceptible to human error. Fortunately, there are a number of software-based data entry and analysis systems available for managing ingredient data. Existing systems come in various forms and levels of complexity. When making data management decisions, a company needs to be diligent in mapping its requirements against the available systems. If a suite of internal and/or external management tools will be used, care should be taken to boost interoperability and connectivity. In a later publication, we will provide an overview of available systems, from those that inventory products and check regulatory compliance (e.g. WercSMART, SAP, IMDS) to those that also aid in toxicity analysis (e.g. SciVera Lens, Material IQ).
Trust: Companies want to protect their intellectual property (IP). In some sectors, chemical make-up can be a company’s primary IP. So, naturally, ingredient transparency requests can cause trepidation. When seeking to lead on Supply Chain Transparency, a retailer or a brand must navigate how to gain access to the information it needs to understand and mitigate its business risks while assuring suppliers that legitimate IP is protected. Third-party software-based data management systems featuring data security protocols can be useful tools in mitigating trust issues.
Participation along the supply chain: Getting timely participation from the full supply chain can be challenging, particularly the further upstream a company needs to go to collect the necessary data. It can often take time and persistence. When a company is not a large purchaser, convincing suppliers to divulge ingredient details can be tough, especially if the request is optional. Suppliers can also be overwhelmed by separate requests from different companies that ask for data in slightly different ways. The good news is that as more and more companies are seeing the business value in transparency, supplier requests for ingredient disclosure are becoming a common business practice. As more suppliers face multiple requests for information, a greater emphasis is being placed on creating data uniformity that can benefit the entire supply chain (e.g. IPC-1752A, HPD, NSF 355).
At first blush, leadership on Supply Chain Transparency might seem daunting. But with a growing list of available resources, more companies can join the ranks of Method, Apple, Ford and Herman Miller who have paved the way. In the coming months, we will share more detailed guidance on how to successfully attain industry leadership on Supply Chain Transparency, including an exploration of some of the available tools and database systems.
Next up in our Pillars of Leadership blog series is Informed Consumers.Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: May 26, 2015 - 6:08 pm