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  • 8 Benefits of Distributed Solar that Prove it’s Worth More than Dollars and Cents

    By Guest Author

    ga_washington-dc-2By Bret Fanshaw, Solar Program Coordinator, Environment America

    This week, Environment America Research & Policy Center is showcasing Shining Rewards, a new review of 16 value-of-solar studies from around the country. The report shows what we already know intuitively: Solar panels provide pollution-free energy that delivers far reaching benefits to people, the environment, the economy, and the electric grid.

    Powering homes and businesses with rooftop solar can help communities avoid greenhouse gas emissions, reduce air pollution that’s harmful to public health, and avoid the cost of increasingly expensive fossil fuels.

    In our report, we found at least 8 key benefits of rooftop solar, all of which have real value that can be measured by regulators, policymakers, and utilities as the conversation around the future of distributed energy – solutions like rooftop and community solar – evolves.

    1. Reduced waste

    Solar energy systems produce clean, renewable electricity on-site, reducing the amount of power utilities must generate or purchase from fossil fuel-fired power plants. In addition, distributed solar-systems reduce the amount of energy lost in generation, long-distance transmission, and distribution, which cost Americans about $21 billion in 2014.

    1. Lower cost

    By reducing overall demand for electricity during daytime hours that form the peak period for most utilities, solar energy production helps customers and utilities avoid investments in new power plants.

    1. Less risk

    Because the price of solar energy tends to be stable over time, whereas the price of fossil fuels can fluctuate sharply, integrating more solar energy into the grid reduces consumers’ exposure to volatile electricity prices. Also, by reducing demand for energy from the grid, home and business solar systems reduce the overall price of electricity, saving money for all customers.

    1. Stronger grid

    Distributed energy decentralizes the grid, potentially safeguarding people in one region from other areas that are experiencing problems, like blackouts. Emerging technologies, including smart meters and small-scale battery storage systems, will enhance this value.

    8 Benefits of Distributed Solar that Prove it’s Worth More than Dollars and Cents
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    1. Clean electricity

    Increasing solar energy capacity helps utilities avoid the costs of meeting renewable energy requirements or installing new technologies to clean-up fossil fuel-fired power plants. It also helps avoid the cost of emission allowances where pollution is capped, like in California and New York.

    1. Reduced greenhouse gases

    In 2014, the electricity sector was the largest source of global warming emissions — responsible for 30 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas pollution. Generating energy from the sun provides a renewable source of energy that produces little to no greenhouse gas emissions. In 2015, distributed solar energy alone – just solar panels on households and businesses – averted approximately 8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

    1. Improved public health

    Solar can help us reduce health costs. According to the American Lung Association, 52 percent of Americans live in a place where pollution often reaches dangerous levels. As described in a recent blog post, a National Research Council study in 2005 found that health-impacting pollutants from coal- and gas-fired power plants, respectively, cost society 3.2 cents and 0.16 cents per unit of generated electricity (kilowatt-hour). With an average household in the United States using about 11,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, the health cost associated with that electricity consumption would be about $350 per year if it all came from a coal plant.

    1. Economic growth

    The American solar industry is growing rapidly, creating new jobs and businesses across the nation. In 2015, the solar industry added jobs at a rate 12 times that of the overall economy, and as of November 2015, employed more than 208,000 people.

    Solar value leads electricity policy               

    Our report also shows that solar panels on homes, schools, and businesses often provide more benefits than they receive through programs like net metering, which credits solar panel owners when they generate more power than they use, providing electricity for other customers. This “credit” is based on a fixed rate – often the retail price of electricity – for providing excess power to the grid, similar to rollover minutes on a cell phone plan.

    Net metering has helped solar energy skyrocket in recent years, but some utilities oppose it, arguing net metering is a subsidy for solar owners. For example, in Nevada, utility NV Energy urged regulators to end the state’s net metering program.

    Our report tells a different story. It shows that nationwide, the dollar and cents value of solar that homes and businesses send back to the grid is often higher than the credit utilities provide to customers.

    In other words, the study shows that utilities are likely often underpaying solar panel owners, not subsidizing them. Of the 16 studies reviewed, 12 found that the value of solar energy was higher than the average local residential retail electricity rate. The median value of rooftop solar energy across all 16 studies was 16.35 cents per kWh, while the average residential retail electricity rate in included states was of 13.05 cents per kWh.

    The 2016 Shining Rewards report equips electricity regulators and policy makers with peer-reviewed data that shows solar users deliver net benefits to society and the electric grid; benefits with value reflected closely under policies like net metering, which we hope will continue to drive the growth of solar power.

    Photo source: GRID Alternatives

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  • Aliso Canyon Disaster One Year Later: Some Progress, But More Action Needed

    By Tim O'Connor

    When the gusher of methane pouring out of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field was discovered last October 23, it almost instantly transformed the sleepy Los Angeles suburb of Porter Ranch into the site of one of the biggest environmental disasters in recent history. It would ultimately take four months to stop the massive underground leak.

    Now, a year later, the question: What’s been done to fix the problem, and to prevent future blowouts – either at Aliso Canyon, or the 400 similar facilities in more than 30 states? The answer is, while there’s been some progress, it’s not nearly enough.

    Crumbling Infrastructure, Weak or Non-Existent Rules

    These sites aren’t just a health and safety risk to their neighbors. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, with 84 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over 20 years. Old age only makes problems more likely – and more expensive when they occur.

    The 60-year-old Aliso Canyon facility is one of the largest of its kind, and it was not in good shape when one of its wells started leaking uncontrollably. There weren’t sufficient state or national rules requiring operators to check equipment for damage, or to make timely repairs. Owner SoCalGas has since spent over $700 million on cleanup, and multiple lawsuits have been filed claiming millions more in damages. But even now, because of lax or non-existent policies, it’s unclear whether any laws were actually broken.

    That’s because as it stands, there are still no federal safety or environmental rules covering gas storage facilities. Where state regulations do exist, they vary widely in quality and effectiveness. Last week, a federal task force that was convened after Aliso Canyon to look at these problems issued 44 recommendations to bring national policy into the 21st century. That’s an important step, but the trick is turning that list into action.

    Patching Holes in the Safety Net

    To get the job done, we need concrete state and federal standards, with regulators at both levels working together to fix the safety net. (We also need a set market reforms that reduce the nation’s dependence on gas and gas storage.) Here’s a list of steps that ought to come next:

    1. The federal Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), one of the agencies on the task force report, is crafting rules regulating gas storage facilities for the first time. It’s imperative that they get the first phase done by the end of the year. (The agency itself recognizes these first steps won’t be enough, and that more robust action is necessary, but it’s vital to get moving now).
    2. As a starting point, PHMSA plans to base its rules on guidelines developed by industry. However, these were never designed to act as regulations, or to cover everything that needs to be done at gas storage facilities. For this effort to become anything more than industry self-policing, PHMSA must couple that guidance with active oversight and stronger standards of its own.
    3. While federal rules for underground gas storage will be a first, all states enforce basic well construction principles (some have also had specialized storage rules for years) that neither the industry's gas storage guidance nor PHMSA are yet addressing. It is important that PHMSA make use of this state expertise and that it not disrupt the basic state requirements.
    4. PHMSA also needs to develop regulatory capacity that it currently lacks. For any new policy to be effective, the agency will need increased resources and additional staff who understand the complexities of gas well engineering, construction and operation.
    5. States should enhance their gas storage rules with help from a forthcoming Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and Groundwater Protection Council guidance document with regulatory considerations on the topic.

    There’s plenty for California in particular to do at the state level, and that process is also well under way. Although drafts of permanent regulations we’ve seen so far leave room for improvement, the state’s proposed new rules are still likely to be the most comprehensive in the nation, and we expect California's rules to exceed PHMSA's in many areas when they come out early next year.

    The agency in charge in California is the Division of Oil, Gas, & Geothermal Resources, known as DOGGR, part of the Department of Conservation. That includes deciding when (or whether) Aliso Canyon can reopen. SoCalGas is reportedly finishing required safety testing of the Aliso Canyon storage wells, and is expected to file for that permission soon. DOGGR needs to take every precaution before allowing injection and production to resume.

    The agency has promised to put all data related to the restart decision online; EDF and many others will be watching closely.

    While we hope the PHMSA rule is good news for gas storage-related safety and environment around the country, it's going to be a multiyear process to get the federal rule up to the quality level that Americans deserve. In the meantime states and PHMSA will need to work together closely to minimize gaps in coverage, especially on basic but critical topics like well drilling, casing, and cementing – the best way to prevent well leaks is to build wells right in the first place.

    There’s been a lot of progress since Aliso Canyon, but there’s still a long way to go before we can rest easy – and there is always room for improvement. Porter Ranch was not the first community hit by this kind of disaster. With a lot of effort and a little luck, we hope to make it the last.

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  • 19th Annual Wild Things Festival

    By Samantha Carter, Senior Outreach Coordinator, Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition

    On October 15, outreach staff from Restore the Mississippi River Delta attended the 19th Annual Wild Things Festival in Lacombe, LA. The fun-filled day included nature walks, a wildlife youth art show, live animal exhibits, and much more.

    To encourage spending time outside and creating backyard wildlife habitats at home, our team worked with hundreds of children and families to make bird feeder tree ornaments out of easy-to-find household snacks.

    Staff also led discussions and answered questions about coastal restoration in Louisiana and distributed information about restoration solutions and upcoming public meetings on the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan. While we can’t guarantee that all the ornaments made it home without being consumed by their makers, we can guarantee that a good time was had by all. Wild Things is hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Bayou Lacombe Center on the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain.

    National Wildlife Federation and Louisiana Wildlife Federation tables and activities at the Bayou Lacombe Center during Wild Things.

    National Wildlife Federation and Louisiana Wildlife Federation tables and activities at the Bayou Lacombe Center during Wild Things.

    While nutria as a species can be quite destructive to wetland habitats – our furry nutria friend was happy to share the tent and tables with our coaltion staff.

    While nutria as a species can be quite destructive to wetland habitats – our furry nutria friend was happy to share the tent and tables with our coaltion staff.

    Outreach Coordinator Helen Rose Patterson helps kids string bird snacks onto pipe cleaners.

    Outreach Coordinator Helen Rose Patterson helps kids string bird snacks onto pipe cleaners.

    Sam the bobcat hanging out with Sam Carter the Outreach Coordinator.

    Sam the bobcat hanging out with Sam Carter the Outreach Coordinator.

    Kids busy stringing bird snacks and making ornaments to decorate their back yard trees. There were many great debates about whether birds or squirrels would feast on their creations.

    Kids busy stringing bird snacks and making ornaments to decorate their back yard trees. There were many great debates about whether birds or squirrels would feast on their creations.

    These two caused a big stink about Louisiana’s disappearing coast. They think that we should all do everything we can to get large-scale restoration underway as soon as possible.

    These two caused a big stink about Louisiana’s disappearing coast. They think that we should all do everything we can to get large-scale restoration underway as soon as possible.


    As Senior Outreach Coordinator, Samantha Carter works to develop and implement outreach and engagement strategies to advance the priorities of the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Program for the National Wildlife Federation. Focusing on the Greater New Orleans area, she educates and engages community leaders and other key stakeholders, including elected officials and neighborhood associations, to address the alarming loss of coastal wetlands in Louisiana. Additionally, Samantha helps coordinate the MRGO Must Go Coalition – a group of 17 environmental, community, and social justice organizations working to restore the degraded wetland ecosystem that protects the Greater New Orleans area from storm surge.


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  • Louisiana Oil Spill Trustees Fund $22.3 Million in Restoration Projects


    Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781,
    Jacques Hebert, National Audubon Society, 504.264.6849,
    Elizabeth Van Cleve, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543,  
    Jimmy Frederick, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, 225.317.2046,
    John Lopez, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, 504.421.7348,

    Louisiana Oil Spill Trustees Fund $22.3 Million in Restoration Projects

    Draft plan advances key restoration projects, sets stage for future sediment diversions

    (New Orleans — Oct. 20, 2016) Today, Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), along with the other state and federal agencies comprising the Louisiana Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Trustee Implementation Group, announced the release of its first Draft Restoration Plan. This plan proposes $22.3 million in restoration projects in Louisiana to address environmental damages resulting from the 2010 Gulf oil disaster and lays out a vision for future investments. It is the first natural resource restoration plan to be released since the NRDA settlement was approved in April 2016.

    In response to this announcement on the NRDA draft plan, Restore the Mississippi River Delta – which includes Environmental Defense Fund, the National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation – released the following statement:

    “Six years after the Gulf oil disaster wreaked havoc on our coast and ecosystems, today’s release of the NRDA Trustees’ first draft restoration plan is an important step on the path toward repairing this damage and restoring our coast. The plan wisely recognizes sediment diversions as a crucial cornerstone to restoring coastal Louisiana, and we’re encouraged to see the Trustees acknowledge this fact by setting the stage for funding construction of sediment diversions in the future. We also applaud the Trustees for funding projects now that are included in CPRA’s Coastal Master Plan or address specific resources injured by the Gulf oil disaster.

    “With funding from the historic BP settlement, Louisiana has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to address systemic issues plaguing its coast and ecosystems, worsened by the Gulf oil disaster. This plan prioritizes leveraging resources, coordination and transparency across agencies and state entities, including the RESTORE Council, National Fish & Wildlife Foundation and the state of Louisiana, to ensure that these funds do as much good as possible — and quickly. That is a win for the people, wildlife and industries of Louisiana.”


    Restore the Mississippi River Delta is working to protect people, wildlife and jobs by reconnecting the river with its wetlands. As our region faces the crisis of threatening land loss, we offer science-based solutions through a comprehensive approach to restoration. Composed of conservation, policy, science and outreach experts from Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Federation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, we are located in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Washington, D.C.; and around the United States. Learn more at

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  • Managing the Rising Risk of Methane, What Investors Can Do

    By Sean Wright

    sean-headshotIn a recent blog post, I discussed three ways investors can have a positive impact on the environment.  One of those levers is engagement, or using your influence with the companies you invest in to help ensure those companies are being managed both profitably and sustainably.

    Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) is a recognized global authority on how investors can engage with companies to manage environmental risks. Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is partnering with PRI to release a new how-to guide for engaging with oil and gas companies globally on methane emissions.

    As investor scrutiny ramps up on all forms of climate risk, investors globally are becoming more aware of and concerned about the material risks that methane poses to portfolios, detailed in EDF’s Rising Risk report.  That report found methane poses a series of reputational, regulatory and financial risks to operators and their investors.  Methane, 84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, is a potent form of carbon risk, and left unmanaged it can literally leak away shareholder value.

    Methane is a potent carbon risk, left unmanaged it can literally leak away shareholder value.
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    An Investor’s Guide to Methane responds to growing demand from investors globally for practical guidance on how to not only manage these risks through company engagement, but surface opportunities as well.  Investors want to understand how companies should measure their emissions, what they should be reporting, and what kinds of best management practices they should adopt to keep more product in the pipeline.  This guide provides details on what leading methane management looks like.

    Just as investors use quarterly earnings to understand who the most profitable companies are, investors can use the performance benchmarking framework included in the guide to help differentiate relative methane performance.  Because methane management is such a powerful proxy for operational excellence, understanding relative performance on the issue can be a helpful insight for investment decision-making. As such, early-engagers will have a first-mover advantage. This framework is also designed to help identify concrete next steps companies can take to improve management, such as using additional emissions reductions technologies or adopting methane reporting metrics.

    summary-performance-assessment-toolThe guide also provides detailed questions to help support constructive dialogue.  For example, EDF’s Rising Risk report found that as of early 2016, zero of the leading 65 companies in the US had disclosed a methane reduction target. The guide includes questions such as “What form of a quantitative methane reduction target would work best for your company?” that can help an operator think through how to best set an ambitious but achievable target.

    As part of their engagement, investors should expect all operators to measure, report and reduce their emissions:

    Measure – We’ve all heard the phrase “what gets measured, gets managed.” Getting accurate information on a company’s methane emissions is the first step in understanding the extent of the problem, uncovering hidden risks, and identifying opportunities to bring more product to the bottom line.  The more accurate the information, the better positioned companies will be to effectively reduce emissions. Expert level methane management requires companies to utilize robust direct measurement, or the process of getting out into the field to measure emissions, as this is more accurate than desk-top estimates.

    Report – Investors require actionable methane information in order to understand the relative performance of operators, and leading companies will demonstrate how they are managing methane risk.  Operators should set and disclose a methane reduction target, and report how they plan to meet that target. For example, expert level operators will report the frequency, scope and methodology for their leak detection and repair (LDAR) programs as one best practice to limit emissions.

    Reduce – Minimizing methane emissions is highly cost effective, and can be done using proven, off the shelf technologies.  Because methane is both pollutant and product, many of these technologies have a positive payback. Investors should feel confident in encouraging companies to reduce emissions knowing they can do so in a shareholder-friendly manner.  Leading operators will show a declining trend in emissions, frequently inspect assets for leaks, join global voluntary initiatives like the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership, and support regulations to reduce emissions.

    The key points from these three buckets, as well as related engagement discussion questions, are summarized in a 2-page cheat sheet summary investors can take to meetings with them.

    managing methane riskMethane is the next frontier for investor engagement on climate and carbon risk. Unmanaged emissions of methane can directly undermine the natural gas’ ability to play a role in a lower-carbon energy economy, impair social license to operate and be a proxy for operational inefficiency.   Conversely, active methane management can inspire investor and stakeholder confidence, keep product in the pipeline and prepare companies to operate in an increasingly carbon-constrained, regulated world.

    Investors should utilize their influence, and this guide, to ensure companies are proactively managing methane risks and leveraging opportunities.

    Download An Investor's Guide to Methane

    Follow Sean Wright on Twitter, @SeanWright23

    Additional reading: Why energy investors need to manage methane as a Rising Risk


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  • New EPA Guidelines Will Help Oil And Gas Communities Breathe Easier

    By Felice Stadler

    8622279579_a15f44c77a_zWhile air quality as a whole has been improving across the United States over the past few decades, many areas that are ground zero for the nation’s expanding oil and gas industry have shown an increase in dangerous pollutants. In fact, states with substantial drilling activities saw worsening air quality recently, according to the American Lung Association’s last State of the Air report.

    That’s because the oil and gas industry is the largest industrial source of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which mix with NOX and sunlight to form ground-level ozone, also known as smog. Additionally, existing oil and gas sources do not face comprehensive nationwide limits for this type of pollution.

    This smog has tangible effects, though. In late September, the Clean Air Task Force released a report detailing that the amount of smog forming emissions from the oil and gas sector could lead to as many as 750,000 asthma attacks.  The report, called “Gasping for Breath,” similarly documents that these emissions could lead to more than 500,000 days of school missed and 2,000 asthma-related emergency room visits. Accompanying the report is an interactive map, developed by Earthworks, which displays data about the location of active oil and gas wells, and areas of threats to public health.

    This week, in a move forward, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized emission reduction guidelines for states to address ozone smog emissions from oil and gas operations, known as Control Technique Guidelines. While this may seem like a small technical step, the Guidelines will bring urgently needed health protections to citizens living adjacent to or downwind of oil and gas operations.

    Once fully implemented by states, the Guidelines are estimated to reduce VOC emissions by about 80,000 tons per year, methane emissions by about 200,000 tons per year, and other hazardous air pollutants by about 3,000 tons per year. The Guidelines include recommendations for storage tanks, controllers and pumps, and compressors, and include leak detection and repair requirements, utilizing available technologies and common-sense approaches that help save natural gas that otherwise would go to waste.

    Standards like these to reduce smog pollution can have a big impact. In Wyoming, for instance, a key oil and gas region started to experience poor air quality as drilling expanded. However, after that part of the state adopted common sense protections to reduce air pollution from the oil and gas industry, smog levels started to improve, providing health benefits to nearby communities.

    When the prevalence of smog in a given area exceeds national health-based standards, states are required to submit a plan to EPA on how it will bring the area’s air quality back to healthy levels. That’s why the new Guidelines, which build on lessons learned from leading states including Colorado and Wyoming, are so important.

    In their plans to cut air pollution from the oil and gas industry, States can use the ready-to-adopt, cost-effective blueprint laid out in the new Guidelines to achieve required emission reductions and protect the health of communities and families.

    These Guidelines, which apply to areas with moderate and severe smog pollution, will especially benefit communities in Pennsylvania and Texas , where ozone pollution is endangering communities and state regulations haven’t kept pace with the rapid growth in oil and gas development.

    The Guidelines are a good and important step forward to protect communities from smog-forming pollution, but there are key additional steps EPA can take in the near-term to strengthen the guidelines and improve the measures at states’ disposal to improve air quality.

    For example, in its draft Guidelines, EPA proposed exempting lower-producing wells, which account for over 70% of existing wells and can be associated with substantial emissions. Fortunately, the agency declined to finalize this exemption.  In the final guidelines EPA has sought additional information on how best to address these sources, and we urge the agency to move forward expeditiously to close the harmful pollution loophole to protect the health of our communities and families.

    Over 12 million Americans live within a half-mile from oil and gas facilities, and many more live downwind from the smog caused by these operations. These communities urgently need the clean air protections that these new Control Technique Guidelines will begin to deliver.  Even so, they are just one piece of the clean-air puzzle, and we must move forward toward final, comprehensive standards that address both new and existing sources of pollution, without exceptions.

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  • What would it mean for Los Angeles to go 100% renewable?

    By Irene Burga

    10182500174_6070b2f074_kThe Los Angeles City Council recently passed a unanimous resolution requiring Los Angeles Department of Water and Power – the largest municipally-owned utility in the country — to study how the city can achieve a 100% clean energy future. With help from research partners, including academic institutions, the U.S. Department of Energy, and environmental and consumer groups, the study has the potential to become a foundational roadmap for running the utility on only clean and renewable energy.

    California currently has a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, with half of the state’s energy supply powered by renewable electricity by 2030. To achieve these targets, it is imperative for the state to look seriously at how to get off of fossil fuel dependency for our energy needs. Utilities and cities can be the key to reaching those climate goals.

    Mayor Garcetti’s LA Sustainability pLAn, sets even more stringent emission reduction targets than that of the state, calling on Los Angeles to reduce emissions by 45% by 2025, 60% by 2035, and 80% by 2050, all against a 1990 baseline. As one of eighteen U.S. cities committing to a clean energy future, L.A. is demonstrating tremendous leadership for others to follow suit.

    Getting off of Natural Gas

    California utilities currently rely on a massive amount of natural gas to generate electricity for millions of homes and businesses. The main component of natural gas is methane — a strong climate pollutant that has 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide in the short-term. As the second largest natural gas consumer in the country, California’s methane pollution from natural gas transmission, distribution, and production is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

    In 2014, the state’s oil and gas industry emitted approximately 270,000 tons of methane, nearly three times as much as was released by the Aliso Canyon storage facility in the recent disaster. This pollution has the same climate impact over the first 20 years after release as driving over 4.5 million cars for a year.

    Real Public Health Concerns

    There are also pressing public health concerns with the current energy system. Methane and volatile organic compound leaks from oil and gas facilities directly increase ozone smog levels, which aggravate asthma and other cardiac and respiratory ailments. And for three years straight, Los Angeles has been ranked the number one most contaminated city in the country for ozone pollution.

    Low-income communities, and communities of color are burdened with outsized health and climate impacts associated with both oil and gas industry activities, and from the massive combustion of natural gas to make electricity. In Los Angeles, nearly half a million Latinos live within a half mile of an oil and gas facility, and all live in an air basin where nearly 17 separate power plants combust gas to supply electricity. Latino children suffer thousands of asthma attacks and missed school days due to the methane pollution and ozone smog resulting from these far ranging oil and gas activities.

    Moving toward non-polluting renewable sources of energy means our most overburdened and vulnerable neighbors will benefit tremendously.

    The Clean Energy Opportunity is Ripe in the City of Angels

    LADWP delivers electricity and water to four million customers, supplying about a quarter of the electricity used in the state. Currently, only a quarter of Los Angeles is powered by renewable energy, mainly wind power, while the rest is powered by coal and natural gas.

    With last month’s announcement of the study — along with the new direction coming from the Los Angeles city council and statewide legislation by way of SB 350 and SB 32 — we now have a real opportunity to upgrade LADWP’s 100-year old system.

    The biggest obstacles to achieving the renewable energy  goals revolve around how to effectively make a switch as fast as possible, while maintaining energy reliability and keeping customer bills manageable.  In order to get the city’s renewable energy portfolio to 100%, there will need to be a significant increase in the rapid deployment of renewable technology, and it must be done so in a way that minimizes costs.

    LADWP is already committed to getting off of coal completely by 2025. Now, as the renewable energy portfolio gets built up in Los Angeles, the same kind of commitment needs to happen for natural gas. The good news is that the clean technology currently does exist, and continues to advance at lightning speed.

    Despite these challenges it is clear that switching to clean energy is vital for reducing anthropogenic climate impacts, as well as alleviating community health impacts. If the second largest city in the country can successfully transition into a full green economy, then Los Angeles will set a clear example of what steps must be taken to achieve this outcome in other metropolises. Our climate and our communities need this kind of leadership now.

    Photosource: Flickr, allanjder

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  • West Coast Fisherman Brad Pettinger Honored at White House as ‘Champion of Change for Sustainable Seafood’

    By Shems Jud

    brad-pettingerOn October 7, in a first-of-its-kind event honoring Champions of Change for Sustainable Seafood, our friend Brad Pettinger was honored for helping to turn around a fishery that was declared a federal disaster in 2000. Brad serves as director of the Oregon Trawl Commission and was a driving force behind the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) landmark 2014 certification of the West Coast groundfish trawl fishery as well managed and sustainable.

    Brad’s recognition as a Champion of Change is an acknowledgement of the tough times that he and many other West Coast fishermen endured as their fishery failed and they struggled to bring it back. Brad often recalls when it hit rock bottom, and his wife suggested one day that maybe it was time to sell their boat. “Honey, I said to her, there’s nobody to sell the boat to!” remembers Brad. “You see, nobody wanted to buy the boats, because they couldn’t see a future for the fishery. It was a rough, rough time for everyone involved.”

    From that point forward Brad put his shoulder to the wheel, attending every meeting of the Pacific Fishery Management Council for years, helping to hammer out the framework for a catch share fishery management program. That program – which launched in January of 2011 – allocated specific annual quota amounts to trawl fisherman based on their catch history, eliminated the “race for fish” culture of the groundfish fleet, dramatically reduced bycatch, and ushered in a new era of accountability and cooperation among fishermen and regulators.

    Although the historic nature of MSC’s June 2014 announcement may be lost on people who aren’t fish wonks, its opening lines bear repeating:

    “The most diverse, complex fishery ever to enter assessment against the MSC standard anywhere in the world today was awarded MSC certification as a sustainable and well-managed fishery, following an independent, scientific assessment and significant stakeholder involvement.”

    That certification – and the dramatic turnaround of the fishery over the past 15 years – owes much to the leadership of Brad Pettinger. While there is more work to be done in ensuring these sustainability gains translate to stable and profitable markets for West Coast fishermen, the Champions of Change event was a great reminder of how far the fishery has come.

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  • Conservation Groups Say White House’s New Guidance Will Help Fast Track Gulf Restoration



    Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781,
    Jacques Hebert, National Audubon Society, 504.264.6849,
    Elizabeth Van Cleve, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543,  
    Rachel Guillory, Ocean Conservancy, 504.208.5816,
    Andrew Blejwas, The Nature Conservancy, 617.785.7047, 

    Conservation Groups Say White House’s New Guidance Will Help Fast Track Gulf Restoration

    Obama administration prioritizes Gulf restoration by enabling coordination among agencies and programs

    (Washington, D.C. – Thursday, October 20, 2016) Today, the Office of Management and Budget and the White House Council on Environmental Quality released guidelines for federal agencies to use in the review and permitting of restoration projects for the Gulf Coast. These guidelines will be used as a blueprint for the Gulf Coast Interagency Environmental Working Group, which is the coordinating body for federal agencies working on restoration and responsible for overseeing restoration efforts funded by the penalties BP paid for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

    Conservation groups working on Gulf restoration — Environmental Defense Fund, the National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, Ocean Conservancy and The Nature Conservancy issued the following joint statement:

    “The White House’s new guidance will help fast track Gulf restoration. Their emphasis on restoring the Gulf ecosystem, coordination between agencies, timely review and transparency will keep the restoration process on the right track.

    “This is a signal from the Obama administration that Gulf restoration is a high priority that should move swiftly.  Getting restoration projects on the ground quickly should be a federal priority, as the people of the Gulf Coast are relying on a strong ecosystem to keep their homes, businesses and communities safe.”

    # # #

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  • Oil and Gas Methane Emissions Pose Risks to Investors (US)
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