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- D.C. Circuit Issues Procedural Order in Litigation over Carbon Pollution Standards for New Power PlantsRead more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: June 24, 2016 - 4:00 am
- Take On the Bulk of the Oil and Gas Pollution ProblemThese emissions has the same near-term climate impact as more than 200 coal plants, and there are currently no national limits in place to cut this hazardous pollution.Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: June 23, 2016 - 5:42 pm
- Why investments in agricultural carbon markets make good business sense
By Sara Kroopf
Over the past decade, private investment in conservation has more than doubled, with sustainable forestry and agriculture investments as the main drivers of growth. This unprecedented expansion in “impact investing” or “conservation finance” has occurred as investors seek ROI that can also benefit the environment. According to Credit Suisse, sustainable agriculture is particularly appealing to investors as it offers a wider array of risk mitigation approaches than sectors such as energy and transportation.
Yet despite this boom, there has been very little investment from private capital in emerging ecosystems markets, especially in the agricultural sector.
We’ve blogged before about the benefits growers – and the environment – realize from participating in agricultural carbon markets or habitat exchanges. But here’s why the private sector, food companies and retailers should invest in agricultural carbon markets.
1. Markets are up and running
The American Carbon Registry and the Climate Action Reserve, both voluntary carbon registries, have developed 10 working lands protocols over the past six years that relate to agriculture. These protocols address issues such as grasslands conversion, methane emissions from farming, fertilizer efficiency, and wetland degradation.
The protocols enable farmers who reduce their environmental impacts to earn carbon credits that can be sold through either voluntary or compliance markets, such as California’s cap and trade system. And growers are jumping at this opportunity. With the rice protocol, for example, growers spanning 22,000 acres have expressed interest in just the first year of the protocol.
Environmental Defense Fund also received two Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grants to catalyze the market for agricultural offsets from nitrogen fertilizer optimization and grasslands protection. Both aim to provide attractive new investment options for companies looking to buy carbon credits.
2. Opportunities for investment
The opportunities for investment are plentiful and increasing. Currently, companies can purchase voluntary or compliance credits generated through agricultural offset projects. A small number of investment funds also allow private, public, and corporate investors to provide upfront capital for growers to implement and scale pilot projects that demonstrate the real potential of GHG reductions from agriculture.
The initial stages of market formation and establishment are risky and complex, and despite support from NGOs in establishing the infrastructure for nascent markets, many barriers must be overcome to create the first pilot projects. Private and foundation investment is essential to paving the way for a market to function independently.
Experts within the Conservation Finance Network, a collaboration of investors and environmental professionals (EDF included) working to leverage capital to achieve conservation goals, emphasized the importance of demand in driving a successful market. Companies play a critical role in signaling interest in credits produced through offset markets, thus providing financial support for projects.
3. Meet corporate sustainability goals
The Paris climate agreement accelerated corporate commitments to reduce GHG emissions, and/or go “carbon neutral.” To turn these promises into action, companies will need to reduce emissions within their supply chains – but they can also purchase offset credits generated directly from working landowners.
For example, as Agri-Pulse reported in 2014, “Chevrolet's first purchase of third-party verified carbon credits generated on working ranch grasslands is part of its commitment to reduce 8 million tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted, according to [General Motors].”
Investing in sustainable agriculture also reduces the risk of supply chain disruptions from extreme weather events, and can protect our food supply. Not to mention the environmental benefits of reducing pollution, avoiding regulations, and preserving important habitats, thereby avoiding endangered species listings that can hinder development.Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: June 23, 2016 - 1:31 pm
- NOAA’s Inadequate Monitoring Program Furthers New England Fishery CrisisRead more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: June 23, 2016 - 4:00 am
- North Carolina Senate deals a damaging blow to state’s waterways and wildlifeRead more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: June 23, 2016 - 4:00 am
- What an honor
Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Lead Senior Scientist.
After 30 years in Washington, maybe I should be more jaded, but today was a big day. Not only did I have the incredible honor this morning of meeting with President Obama, but it was just prior to getting to witness his signing of a bill that I think is going to make a big difference in our lives.
When I started working on and with the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) some 15 years ago and began trying to help build the case for its reform, never in a million years did I contemplate such an honor, let alone being able to work so closely on and then witness the historic signing of this strong new law.
The small group that met with the President included not only people in Washington who worked for this reform but also those who have been impacted by our broken law or stand to benefit the most from the new law: Young adults and parents of children who have had chronic diseases and conditions like cancer and autism for which there is growing concern about the contribution of chemical exposures.
Having been in the weeds and minutiae of TSCA reform for so long, it was very moving that the President chose to meet directly with people that this whole reform effort is most about: The millions of Americans who worry about whether the products they use are safe for them and their families, and those left to wonder whether chemical exposures are to blame for a disease or condition they or their loved ones contract.
I came to work on TSCA somewhat indirectly. I spent a lot of the 1990s working with consumer product companies trying to develop tools their formulators could use assess the health and environmental impacts of the chemicals they were using or considering using in their products. Repeatedly we found that the data they needed to make better choices were almost always lacking. That’s when I started realizing that our weak chemical safety law bore much of the blame for the lack of information available in the market about most chemicals.
I also came to believe that, in part because of a broken TSCA that never required a government review of chemicals, product companies lacked incentives to ensure the safety of the chemicals in their products by developing data on potential chronic health concerns. (Short-term concerns are typically considered because of product liability.)
One of my main hopes with the revised law is that it will shift the incentive structure companies face towards one that rewards affirmative evidence of safety instead of ignorance (a theme that goes back to EDF’s 1997 report, Toxic Ignorance). And, in turn, that the public will be better protected from the long-term health impacts of untested and unregulated chemicals.
As we all now turn to the challenging task of implementing this new law, I am optimistic that we’ve turned a corner as a nation and are embarking on a new path to better protecting the health of this and future generations. And I’m humbled to have been able to thank the President on behalf of the hundreds of friends and colleagues with whom I’ve worked on this effort over the years.Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: June 22, 2016 - 7:41 pm
- With Chemical Safety Reform Passed, What’s Next for Companies?
History was made this week. Major environmental legislation was signed into law for the first time in nearly 25 years, updating the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the primary U.S. chemical safety law, and putting in place a new foundation of federal oversight for chemicals being used in the marketplace. It took the right conditions and a lot of hard work – including bold action from the retail and manufacturing sectors to answer consumers’ call for safer products – to get here.
Now, as this new law gets implemented, industry is headed for a new status quo on how chemicals are evaluated and approved for use. What does that mean for those companies already on the safer chemicals journey?
Fertile Ground for Safer Products
This new piece of legislation –The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act – amends for the first time the core provisions of TSCA, originally passed in 1976. It requires new chemicals to clear a safety bar before entering the market, and mandates safety reviews of all existing chemicals by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Many consumers assume this has been occurring all along. If a product has reached a retailer’s shelves, someone must have reviewed its chemical ingredients for safety, right? But this hasn’t been the case. When TSCA was signed into law, it grandfathered in the 64,000 chemicals then in use as “safe.” The law didn’t mandate review of new chemicals entering the market, either. And it put the entire burden on EPA to find evidence of harm in order to restrict market entry. The updated law will for the first time give EPA the authority and resources to review both new and existing chemicals and make affirmative decisions about their safety, along with new authority to more easily obtain information necessary for conducting these reviews.
Under the Lautenberg Act, EPA will first focus on “high priority” chemicals, such as those classified as known human carcinogens, highly toxic, persistent in the environment or bioaccumlative (able to build up in the bodies of animals). In assessing the safety of chemicals, EPA must consider risks to vulnerable populations such as children and pregnant women. EPA can only consider the health and environmental impacts of the chemical—leaving consideration of costs or availability of alternatives to the next step when EPA is determining how to manage a chemical’s risks. The law also puts strong new limits on what information can qualify as ‘confidential business information,’ striking a balance between the public’s right to know about chemicals to which they may be exposed, and proprietary interests in chemical information important, for example, to innovation.
Accelerating a Company’s Safer Chemicals Journey
These changes will increase corporate incentives to document the safety of chemicals, good news for businesses committed to safer chemicals leadership. More information will better position companies to make informed decisions about what chemicals to use and not to use in their products.
With tens of thousands of chemicals currently on the market, change won’t come overnight. On the other hand, consumer expectations for chemical safety and transparency will continue to rise. Product companies and retailers demanding more evidence of safety and access to more information they can use to go beyond compliance will help drive the whole system, which helps raise the floor.
Businesses leading on safer chemicals are already a step ahead #TSCA
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Companies Must Still Lead the Way
By going beyond compliance and continuing to place a premium on finding ever-safer alternatives, leading companies can distinguish themselves among consumers and help raise the ceiling. With regulatory certainty, companies are better positioned to define and implement progressive chemical policies.
Passage of the Lautenberg Act is an important step on the safer chemicals journey; the government will finally be able to do a better job of protecting consumers. But companies remain a much-needed partner in making safer products the new status quo. The question leaders will strive to answer is, “How do we continue to make our products safer, affordable, and more sustainable?”
Consumers will be watching carefully to see which brands offer products that are better for them and their families. Now that the regulatory bar for safer chemicals is set higher, companies need to seek out new ways to innovate if they want to differentiate themselves, stay competitive in the marketplace and continue to earn consumers’ loyalty.Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: June 22, 2016 - 3:46 pm
- A strong new TSCA
Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Lead Senior Scientist.
Those are four words that I thought I might never get to say and see over the many years I’ve worked on this. But today, at a ceremony to be held at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, President Obama will sign the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.
The Lautenberg Act amends the core provisions of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), our nation’s main chemical safety law, for the first time since its passage 40 years ago. Those amendments are extensive, reaching into nearly every aspect of TSCA – reflecting the need for a top-to-bottom overhaul.
I’ve already blogged recently about both how this was made possible and why it is so significant (see here and here). And I’ve developed some resources for those wanting to understand what the Lautenberg Act does and how it changes TSCA for the better.
The path leading to today’s historic Presidential signing opened up just over 3 years ago, when two Senators who couldn’t have been more different politically – the late Sen. Lautenberg and Sen. David Vitter – came together to introduce the first bipartisan TSCA reform legislation. At that time, I and others here at EDF had a tough decision to make: lend our support to give momentum to a bill that we knew had serious flaws, or withhold that support – lest it give momentum to such a bill.
We took the calculated risk – and it was a big one – to support the bill for four reasons.
First, we believed Sen. Lautenberg, our community’s longtime champion on this issue, deserved our support. Second, the bill, despite its flaws, held the seeds of many of the reforms we sought even as it had many provisions we did not support. Third, we were concerned that, were there to be no support from our community, the bill would be unlikely to advance and we would lose yet another opportunity to reform TSCA. Fourth, we believed that the best way to fix the serious problems with the bill was to help get it moving through the legislative process, work diligently to find solutions to those problems that could still retain bipartisan support, and encourage the engagement of additional lawmakers to make those changes in exchange for their support for the bill.
I fully recognize and respect that others in our community chose a different approach, didn’t support EDF in our decision, and maybe still don’t. To that, I’ll quote a song from the 1960s I still love: “Different strokes for different folks.” There’s simply no way we would have passed this law – and this strong a law – without multiple actors taking multiple approaches to getting it done.
The path by which this new law wended its way through Congress over the past three years has been likened to climbing a very high mountain. You can’t do it all in one climb; you can’t begin to think about doing it by yourself; and you need to establish and attain multiple base camps on the way up. (I could torture the analogy further: watch out for avalanches and sudden storms that can sweep you away at any moment; expect to suffer repeatedly from exhaustion and shortness of breath; don’t hurry and stick close to the ropes; and so on.)
Before I get carried away, let me close by restating something I said in a recent perspective piece:
Of course, now the real work begins—implementing the law. Which brings me to my last point: A fervent hope that stakeholders will give this new law every chance to work. … I realize it’s a tall order to expect stakeholders with strong interests in certain outcomes not to use every possible avenue to influence every step the EPA takes under the new law. But it’s vital that its implementation lead to improved public health protection as well as a restoration of public confidence, after decades of erosion of that confidence under a badly broken chemical safety system. That means the EPA needs to be given some breathing room, to get a new system up and running, and to get some points on the board early that demonstrate its ability to make decisions and take needed actions.
Meanwhile, I’ll say those four words again: A strong new TSCA. That sounds really great, doesn’t it?Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: June 22, 2016 - 12:11 pm
- North Carolina legislation jeopardizes rivers, streams and jobsRead more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: June 22, 2016 - 4:00 am
- EDF Applauds President Obama’s Historic Signing of Strong New Toxic Chemicals LawRead more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: June 22, 2016 - 4:00 am