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Boston Office
617-406-1821

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Marketing Communications Coordinator, EDF+Business
New York Office
212-616-1396

Amy Morse email

Marketing Communications Coordinator, EDF+Business
Washington, DC Office
202-572-3357

 

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  • Louisiana’s Roseau Cane: Why It’s Important and What’s Eating It Away

    I was kicking up mud as we skimmed over a newly created mudflat just downstream from the West Bay Diversion. New land with vibrant flora and fauna spread in every direction, a product of diverting sediment-laden river water and strategically depositing dredged material from navigation channels of the Mississippi River. My two passengers with the Plaquemines Association of Business and Industry (PABI), Bobby Thomas and Mike Van Haverbeke, were pleasantly surprised at industrial development and coastal stewardship colliding to create ...

    The post Louisiana’s Roseau Cane: Why It’s Important and What’s Eating It Away appeared first on Restore the Mississippi River Delta.

    Read more »
  • Cleaning the air saves lives and creates an engine for job growth

    By Mandy Warner

    The Clean Air Act has a long, well-documented history of reducing pollution, and thus improving – and often even saving – lives in America.

    This bedrock law represents one of the greatest environmental and health success stories in the world. Gross Domestic Product in the U.S. has grown 246 percent over the life of the Clean Air Act while at the same time pollutants have been reduced 71 percent.

    The Clean Air Act has led to enormous innovation in technology

    The Clean Air Act has helped launch innovation in technologies that reduce pollution –technologies which in many cases can be exported around the world.

    We know from previous experience with standards we adopted to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants in 1971 and 1979 that pollution standards can reduce emissions substantially, and that the more the technology is deployed to meet the standards the more costs go down. The Clean Air Act helped create a market demand for various pollution control technologies by creating standards for pollutants, including for sulfur dioxide. (Read more from technology experts who filed a legal brief in support of carbon standards for power plants.)

    America’s homegrown environmental protection industry

    The U.S. is the single largest producer of environmental technologies in the world, capturing 29 percent of the world’s $1.05 trillion market.

    In 2015, there were an estimated 1.73 million jobs in the U.S. environmental industry, with projected growth of 3 to 4 percent over the next several years.

    According to the U.S. government, 99 percent of the businesses in this industry were small to medium-sized. U.S. environmental companies exported about $48 billion in goods in 2013. At the same time, 2005 data from U.S. manufacturers indicate that their expenses for reducing pollution account for less than one percent of the value of the goods they ship.

    Environmental protection standards can drive jobs in a myriad of sectors including manufacturing, engineering, construction, operations, and more.

    Some examples of jobs and industries created by specific EPA clean air protections include the following:

    • Approximately 200,000 person-years of jobs from implementation of the Clean Air Interstate Rule to reduce soot and smog pollution.
    • The vehicle emissions control industry provides about 70,000 jobs in North America.
    • Analysis by MJ Bradley & Associates shows that the Clean Power Plan could reduce electricity bills by up to 20 percent in 2030. At the same time, analysis by the Economic Policy Institute found that the Clean Power Plan will create a net 360,000 jobs in 2020.
    • Compliance with the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards was expected to create a net 84,500 jobs in the utility sector and as a result of pollution abatement and control investments.

    Cleaning the air saves lives and creates an engine for job growth
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    Clean air saves lives and improves productivity

    Cleaner air saves lives and protects the health of American families.

    According to a landmark analysis, in 2010 alone the Clean Air Act prevented 160,000 deaths.

    It also prevented 13 million lost workdays and 3.2 million lost school days because of illnesses and diseases caused or exacerbated by air pollution. The value of avoiding those lost work and school days in 2010 was approximately $2 billion.

    That same landmark analysis estimates that the central benefits of the Clean Air Act outweigh costs by more than 30 to one.

    The evidence is clear – environmental protections that promote clean energy help improve lives and give way to economic growth.

    This post originally appeared on our Climate 411 blog.

    Read more »
  • Texas should listen to its own scientific task force about methane

    By Colin Leyden

    Map of Texas oil and gas wells that would have been covered under recently-delayed EPA methane rules.

    This post originally appeared on TribTalk.org.

    new report from the Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST) Shale Task Force underscores the problem of methane emissions from Texas’ oil and gas industry.

    When burned, natural gas has about half the CO2 emissions of coal (that’s good!), but the release of methane into the atmosphere can greatly erode that benefit. TAMEST explains that methane leak rates can greatly impact the overall greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas and reduce the benefit of burning natural gas versus coal. As TAMEST puts it, “Although the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas combustion is lower than the footprint associated with coal or petroleum combustion, emissions along the supply chain of natural gas can change this footprint.”

    The report notes that when industry emits methane, it also emits other hazardous air pollutants that could jeopardize public health — and calls for more research to better understand how these emissions could be harming communities near oil and gas developments.

    But the report, written by a task force that consisted of oil and gas experts from academia, industry and non-governmental organizations, also examines the solutions for reducing these harmful emissions. According to the experts, “recent federal and state regulations have reduced emissions from multiple types of emission sources” and the report authors go on to predict that these emissions will continue to decrease under our nation’s current methane policies.

    Under normal circumstances, this observation would be considered good news. But with the Trump Administration placing a two-year pause on methane controls, air pollution is expected to get worse, not better. As the number one source of oil and gas methane pollution in the country — Texas is about to bare the biggest brunt of this proposed rule suspension. EDF estimates that, without national methane reduction policies, Texas companies could pump up to nearly 10,000 tons of methane and another 100 tons of hazardous air pollutants into the atmosphere.

    Regrettably, when it comes to climate and air, Texas’ political, regulatory and industry leadership are openly hostile toward any efforts aimed at solving the negative trade-offs associated with oil and gas. The Texas Railroad Commission and the Texas Oil and Gas Association are among some of the entities suing the Environmental Protection Agency over commonsense pollution controls — effectively using taxpayer dollars to argue in favor of more pollution.

    According to the TAMEST report:

    In 2016, under the Obama administration, the EPA began collecting information from oil and gas operators to inform potential future [methane] standards for oil and gas production sources. In March 2017, under the (then) new Trump administration, the EPA officially withdrew the information collection request.

    This EPA information request was in preparation for future methane rules to address pollution from existing oil and gas sources — especially important in Texas, since as TAMEST points out, “existing well sources in Texas far outnumber newly created wells…” Guess who led the charge to petition the Trump administration to withdraw this EPA information collection request? Yep, the state of Texas.

    These unfortunate decisions by Texas policy makers will directly impact Texans and go against the findings of the state’s own oil and gas experts. The very emission decreases cited in the TAMEST report are now in jeopardy.

    Texas’ actions prove many of our state leaders are turning blind eyes to some of the biggest health and environmental risks associated with oil and gas development — fighting tooth and nail against existing protections and efforts to learn more to inform future protections.

    We should praise the good work of the TAMEST Shale Task Force. At the same time, we need to hold our government leadership and the industry’s worst actors accountable for ignoring what their own experts are telling them.

    Disclosure: The Environmental Defense Fund has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

    Read more »
  • Texas should listen to its own scientific task force about methane

    By Colin Leyden

    Map of Texas oil and gas wells that would have been covered under recently-delayed EPA methane rules.

    This post originally appeared on TribTalk.org

    new report from the Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST) Shale Task Force underscores the problem of methane emissions from Texas’ oil and gas industry.

    When burned, natural gas has about half the CO2 emissions of coal (that’s good!), but the release of methane into the atmosphere can greatly erode that benefit. TAMEST explains that methane leak rates can greatly impact the overall greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas and reduce the benefit of burning natural gas versus coal. As TAMEST puts it, “Although the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas combustion is lower than the footprint associated with coal or petroleum combustion, emissions along the supply chain of natural gas can change this footprint.”

    The report notes that when industry emits methane, it also emits other hazardous air pollutants that could jeopardize public health — and calls for more research to better understand how these emissions could be harming communities near oil and gas developments.

    But the report, written by a task force that consisted of oil and gas experts from academia, industry and non-governmental organizations, also examines the solutions for reducing these harmful emissions. According to the experts, “recent federal and state regulations have reduced emissions from multiple types of emission sources” and the report authors go on to predict that these emissions will continue to decrease under our nation’s current methane policies.

    Under normal circumstances, this observation would be considered good news. But with the Trump Administration placing a two-year pause on methane controls, air pollution is expected to get worse, not better. As the number one source of oil and gas methane pollution in the country — Texas is about to bare the biggest brunt of this proposed rule suspension. EDF estimates that, without national methane reduction policies, Texas companies could pump up to nearly 10,000 tons of methane and another 100 tons of hazardous air pollutants into the atmosphere.

    Regrettably, when it comes to climate and air, Texas’ political, regulatory and industry leadership are openly hostile toward any efforts aimed at solving the negative trade-offs associated with oil and gas. The Texas Railroad Commission and the Texas Oil and Gas Association are among some of the entities suing the Environmental Protection Agency over commonsense pollution controls — effectively using taxpayer dollars to argue in favor of more pollution.

    According to the TAMEST report:

    In 2016, under the Obama administration, the EPA began collecting information from oil and gas operators to inform potential future [methane] standards for oil and gas production sources. In March 2017, under the (then) new Trump administration, the EPA officially withdrew the information collection request.

    This EPA information request was in preparation for future methane rules to address pollution from existing oil and gas sources — especially important in Texas, since as TAMEST points out, “existing well sources in Texas far outnumber newly created wells…” Guess who led the charge to petition the Trump administration to withdraw this EPA information collection request? Yep, the state of Texas.

    These unfortunate decisions by Texas policy makers will directly impact Texans and go against the findings of the state’s own oil and gas experts. The very emission decreases cited in the TAMEST report are now in jeopardy.

    Texas’ actions prove many of our state leaders are turning blind eyes to some of the biggest health and environmental risks associated with oil and gas development — fighting tooth and nail against existing protections and efforts to learn more to inform future protections.

    We should praise the good work of the TAMEST Shale Task Force. At the same time, we need to hold our government leadership and the industry’s worst actors accountable for ignoring what their own experts are telling them.

    Disclosure: The Environmental Defense Fund has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

    Read more »
  • President Trump’s budget would put communities living near oil and gas at risk

    By Felice Stadler

    The Trump Administration and EPA Administer Pruitt recently released a proposed budget targeting the health and well-being of all Americans. Alarmingly, by stripping funding for critical safeguards, this budget would be especially detrimental to the over 15 million Americans living near oil and gas industry operations across the country.

    Communities depend on EPA for air monitoring

    The oil and gas industry releases methane and toxic and smog-forming pollution like benzene, from drilling wells all across the country. This has unfortunately led to declining air quality in communities living near these operations, and reports of health impacts such as nose bleeds and headaches.

    Americans in areas from rural Utah to urban Los Angeles and beyond rely on a network of air monitors to give them accurate and up to date information on air quality conditions. However 30 percent of the cost of these monitors is funded by an EPA program which would see significant reductions under President Trump’s budget. And less vital pollution data could sadly mean more asthma attacks and more school and work days lost.

    The potentially drastic cuts to the nation’s air monitoring networks are compounded by EPA Administrator Pruitt’s efforts to delay and potentially weaken rules to reduce smog pollution, rules his allies in the oil and gas industry, including the American Petroleum Institute, have been tirelessly fighting.

    Less enforcement would let polluters off the hook

    The proposed budget also cuts EPA’s enforcement work – the cop on the public health beat – by 25 percent. A strong oversight program ensures polluters are held responsible for their pollution. Without strong enforcement programs, it is virtually impossible to protect communities by holding industry accountable for their operations.

    Oil and gas companies that have illegally released pollution into our air, land, and water are responsible for a significant amount of the oversight actions taken by the EPA in recent years. This includes an almost $1 million fine to Sunoco for an oil pipeline spill in Ohio and a $2 million penalty from Slawson Exploration Company for illegally releasing hazardous and smog-forming pollution into the air in North Dakota.

    Even before these budget cuts, there is evidence that EPA Administrator Pruitt has started relaxing and rolling back enforcement. The a New York Times report that Devon Energy is no longer planning to pay a six-figure settlement agreement for illegal pollution. However as demonstrated by a recent spill of oil sludge into an Ohio wetland, and a large methane leak detected in Eastern Utah, we need more oversight and enforcement to protect our communities, not less.

    Axing incentives for companies to clean up their act

    There are some oil and gas companies demonstrating leadership by implementing efficient practices to reduce pollution such as regularly looking for leaks, installing low-emitting equipment and more.

    However, rather than rewarding these companies and trying to make these actions the norm, the proposed budget would entirely eliminate Natural Gas STAR, the leading voluntary pollution-reduction program in the industry. With this cut, companies across the oil and gas supply chain would lose an opportunity for transparency and accountability and have less motivation to innovate and clean up their acts.

    Tying the hands of leading states

    While the future of federal efforts to reduce pollution from the oil and gas industry is in question, states continue to be a bright spot. This includes Ohio, which recently finalized new permit requirements that will reduce methane and other air pollution from natural gas compressor stations; California, where the strongest methane rules in the country were adopted earlier this year; Wyoming, where the state moved to cut air pollution in key oil and gas drilling areas; and Colorado, which was the first state to enact comprehensive methane reforms.

    However state efforts to protect clean air and clean water may also be in jeopardy if President Trump’s proposed budget cuts become reality, since states depend on significant resources and technical assistance from the federal government to do their job. For example, EPA funds one-third of the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment’s budget and up to 60 percent of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality’s budget.

    Location shouldn’t determine the air you breathe

    Americans living in states that have not adopted measures to reduce oil and gas pollution depend on a strong EPA to protect them from the health consequences of increasing energy development. To these communities, budget cuts to pollution and enforcement programs would be an additional health burden, on top of efforts by the Trump Administration to delay crucial methane and clean air standards.

    The Trump administration has touted the need for more American to make the nation "energy dominant." Unfortunately if their proposed budget comes to pass, it would pose increasing and unnecessary risk to the communities on the front lines this development. As leading states and companies have shown, however, we can protect the health and welfare of American communities while keeping a strong energy economy; we don’t need to pick.

    Read more »
  • Cleaning the air saves lives and creates an engine for job growth

    By Mandy Warner

    The Clean Air Act has a long, well-documented history of reducing pollution, and thus improving – and often even saving – lives in America.

    This bedrock law represents one of the greatest environmental and health success stories in the world. Gross Domestic Product in the U.S. has grown 246 percent over the life of the Clean Air Act while at the same time pollutants have been reduced 71 percent.

    The Clean Air Act has led to enormous innovation in technology

    The Clean Air Act has helped launch innovation in technologies that reduce pollution –technologies which in many cases can be exported around the world.

    We know from previous experience with standards we adopted to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants in 1971 and 1979 that pollution standards can reduce emissions substantially, and that the more the technology is deployed to meet the standards the more costs go down. The Clean Air Act helped create a market demand for various pollution control technologies by creating standards for pollutants, including for sulfur dioxide. (Read more from technology experts who filed a legal brief in support of carbon standards for power plants)

    The 1970 Clean Air Act drove the necessary market demand by creating national air quality standards for multiple pollutants, including sulfur dioxide, and the 1979 standard further stimulated demand by imposing an even stricter sulfur dioxide reduction requirement (70 to 90 percent) on new sources.

    Source: The Effect of Government Actions on Technological Innovation for SO2 Control. The EPA/DOE/EPRI Mega Symposium, August 20-23, 2001.

    America’s homegrown environmental protection industry

    The U.S. is the single largest producer of environmental technologies in the world, capturing 29 percent of the world’s $1.05 trillion market.

    In 2015, there were an estimated 1.73 million jobs in the U.S. environmental industry, with projected growth of 3 to 4 percent over the next several years.

    According to the U.S. government, 99 percent of the businesses in this industry were small to medium-sized. U.S. environmental companies exported about $48 billion in goods in 2013. At the same time, 2005 data from U.S. manufacturers indicate that their expenses for reducing pollution account for less than one percent of the value of the goods they ship.

    Environmental protection standards can drive jobs in a myriad of sectors including manufacturing, engineering, construction, operations, and more.

    Some examples of jobs and industries created by specific EPA clean air protections include:

    • Approximately 200,000 person-years of jobs from implementation of the Clean Air Interstate Rule to reduce soot and smog pollution.
    • The vehicle emissions control industry provides about 70,000 jobs in North America.
    • Analysis by MJ Bradley & Associates shows that the Clean Power Plan could reduce electricity bills by up to 20 percent in 2030. At the same time, analysis by the Economic Policy Institute found that the Clean Power Plan will create a net 360,000 jobs in 2020.
    • Compliance with the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards was expected to create a net 84,500 jobs in the utility sector and as a result of pollution abatement and control investments.

    Clean air saves lives and improves productivity

    Cleaner air saves lives and protects the health of American families.

    According to a landmark analysis, in 2010 alone the Clean Air Act prevented 160,000 deaths.

    It also prevented 13 million lost workdays and 3.2 million lost school days because of illnesses and diseases caused or exacerbated by air pollution. The value of avoiding those lost work and school days in 2010 was approximately $2 billion.

    That same landmark analysis estimates that the central benefits of the Clean Air Act outweigh costs by more than 30 to one.

    The evidence is clear – environmental protection helps improves lives and grow the economy.

    Read more »
  • Trump's Budget Puts the Gulf Coast At Risk
    Restoring the Gulf Coast is critical to the safety, jobs, and economies of the people who call it home. The President's budget puts it all at risk. C4.
    Read more »
  • Tell Congress: Protect Our Beaches. Protect the EPA.
    The President's proposed budget is putting America's beaches at risk--but you can fight back. C4.
    Read more »
  • Help Texas Make Best Use of Volkswagen Settlement Funds

    The Texas Clean Air Working Group (TCAWG) and the city of Austin will hold a workshop on Monday (June 26th) to discuss how Texas can use funding from the Volkswagen settlement to reduce smog-forming pollution and increase the use of zero-emission, all-electric vehicles. More information and registration instructions available here.

    In July 2016, Volkswagen agreed to pay $14.7 billion in penalties to resolve a decade-long case stemming from a scheme to cheat on diesel emissions tests. The automaker had imported almost 600,000 vehicles that emitted illegal levels of harmful pollutants.

    The agreement, coupled with a May 2017 settlement, will provide almost $5 billion for projects that promote cleaner air and the development of zero-emissions vehicles and infrastructure.

    As its portion of the agreements, Texas is eligible to receive $209 million for projects that reduce smog-forming nitrogen oxides over the next decade. The state also is eligible to receive a share of $1.2 billion that was set aside for zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure.

    To access these funds, Texas must submit a plan that describes how it would spend the money and reduce emissions. The state also must show how it would engage the public when choosing projects.

    Accordingly, TCAWG and the city of Austin will hold a workshop for all interested stakeholders. The session will provide participants with the opportunity to learn more about available and emerging technologies and to discuss the benefits of several potential projects.

    With careful and strategic planning, Texas has the opportunity to maximize these dollars to transform transportation in the state while creating jobs and reducing pollution.

    The workshop will be June 26, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Austin Convention Center, 500 E. Cesar Chavez, in conjunction with the Smart Cities Connect Conference.

    Admission is free, but registration is required. The full agenda and registration instructions are available here.

    Read more »
  • Local government must lead zero-deforestation efforts at jurisdictional levels

    By Chris Meyer

    Véu de Noiva Waterfall in the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil | Photo credit:Robert L. Dona via Wikipedia comms

    Major consumer goods companies that have pledged to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains need support from their local governments to accelerate and scale up the implementation of their commitments, according to analysis from Environmental Defense Fund published in the latest journal from the European Tropical Forest Research Network (ETFRN).

    Deforestation is a major contributor to climate change, and hundreds of consumer goods companies that purchase soy, palm oil, timber & pulp, and beef—the big four commodities that contribute significantly to deforestation—committed to eliminating deforestation from their supply chains.

    But a vast majority haven’t yet acted on their zero-deforestation commitments or reported their progress—and leadership from local government can help.

    Why local government leadership is needed

    One way companies are trying to reduce deforestation in their supply chains is by using global certification processes. But because the processes didn’t include local governments when designing their certifications, the certifications have not solved the underlying governance issues at the heart of deforestation. 

    Global certification processes have not solved the underlying governance issues at the heart of deforestation

    A more inclusive and comprehensive solution to illegal deforestation focuses on resolving deforestation from all activities located in a state, province, or within national boundaries, i.e. a “jurisdiction”, instead of focusing solely on the supply chain of one commodity or company. This means the local government leads a multi-stakeholder process including producers, purchasers, civil society, and other relevant actors.

    Leading multinational private sector companies such as Unilever, Marks & Spencer, and Mondelez have adopted the jurisdictional approach to implement their zero-deforestation commitments.

    Mato Grosso: an example of local government leadership

    Mato Grosso’s jurisdictional approach, known as Produce, Conserve, and Include (PCI), provides a good example of how local governments can take the lead.

    Launched in 2016, the initiative encapsulates the state government’s ambition to decrease deforestation while increasing agricultural production. The government is collaborating with local soy and beef producer associations, soy buyer Amaggi, beef packer Marfrig, and civil society organizations to grow the agricultural economy, improve incomes and services for the state’s small farmer families and maintain the 60% of the state under native vegetation cover.

    While economic and political turmoil have slowed progress on implementing the ambitious strategy, it may nonetheless already be making a contribution to reducing deforestation: in 2016, deforestation decreased by 6% in Mato Grosso, while Brazil’s national deforestation increased by 29%.

    How a jurisdictional approach should be implemented

    In the analysis, EDF proposes a blueprint of how a jurisdictional approach should be implemented. Specifically, it provides guidance on:

    1. Which actors need to be involved and their roles
    2. Important definitions to be decided upon such as what is deforestation in the local context
    3. Process infrastructure needed such as a robust multi-stakeholder platform
    4. Where to find the funding for implementation

    To move forward with zero-deforestation efforts, companies must build on the existing platform of global certification processes and speed up local governance solutions. Local governments must be involved and lead the process to tackle deforestation.

    The new ETFRN journal serves as a timely guidebook for companies to work together with local governments and other stakeholders to accelerate and scale up the implementation of zero deforestation commitments. EDF will continue to work with our corporate and government partners to implement these lessons.

    Read more »