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- Making Strides on Companies’ Chemical Footprints
As we’ve written here before, public commitment is one of the essential pillars of leadership on safer chemicals. When a company leads in public commitment, it communicates not just its initial goal-setting, but its full safer chemicals journey publicly and honestly.
That’s no small task. The rise of shareholder resolutions across a wide range of sectors shows that investors and purchaser communities are becoming increasingly interested in how companies manage chemicals and mitigate risk. With the release of its inaugural report, one organization is throwing a spotlight on companies that are not just making, but following through on, those commitments.
Ingredients for measuring your (chemical) footprint
The Chemical Footprint Project (CFP) recognizes companies that have effectively demonstrated public commitment to improved chemicals management. A joint effort launched in June 2015 by Clean Production Action, Pure Strategies and the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, the CFP was created as a simple way for investors and purchasers to assess these critical aspects of corporate value.
The CFP’s evaluation system was designed to be flexible and can be used for any business sector, from personal care products to toys. Using a twenty question survey, the CFP assesses companies’ performance in four areas:
- Chemicals management strategy (i.e. corporate chemicals policies),
- Chemical inventory (i.e. knowing the chemicals used in products, manufacturing processes and supply chains),
- Chemical footprint measurement (i.e. knowing the mass of chemicals of high concern in a company’s products and packaging, processes, and supply chain and tracking progress toward safer alternatives), and
- Public disclosure and verification.
A company’s performance is scored on a 100-point scale, with a bonus for verification – respondents receive up to 4 points for independent validation of reported data.
Breaking down CFP’s findings
Last week, the CFP released its inaugural report, with 24 companies from seven sectors participating. Though individual company scores are presented without identification, CFP’s initial report reveals many interesting themes:
- Of the four key performance areas, participating companies scored highest on chemical inventory, followed by footprint measurement, management strategy, and lastly, disclosure & verification.
- Company scores ranged from 12 to 89. The CFP revealed that companies receiving high scores have chemicals policies and integrate them into their business strategies, showing the importance of senior management engagement.
- 90% of participating companies have corporate chemicals policies focused on removing chemicals of concern; however, only two-thirds of those companies have policies that explicitly address the use of safer alternatives.
- Many companies do not publicly disclose information on their chemicals policies and management systems, even when they have active systems in place.
A potent new tool for measuring chemicals management
The CFP has the potential to become a useful barometer of progress towards safer chemicals in the same way that CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) have for tracking companies’ progress on other aspects of environmental sustainability, like greenhouse gas emissions and water usage. The CFP has already amassed signatories representing $2.3 trillion in asset management and $70 billion in purchasing power.
Participating in The Chemical Footprint Project is one way a company can share progress on chemical management and gain recognition along its path to leadership from employees, suppliers, consumers and/or health advocates. EDF is pleased to see the CFP make visible in a meaningful way – one that can be shared with investors – the importance of corporate chemical management as an indicator of a company’s long-term value.
Disclosure: Sarah Vogel, Vice President at Environmental Defense Fund, is on the Steering Committee of the Chemical Footprint Project.
Also of interest:
- How Institutional Commitment Translates to Safer Products
- Behind the Label: Safer Chemicals in the Marketplace
- It’s a Bird, it’s a Plane, it's Energy Savings for New York!
Superheroes are all the rage these days. Whether at the theater or on our TV screens, we are surrounded by stories of powerful men and women working to make the world a better place.
And what would a good superhero be without a thriving metropolis to defend? If you want a great setting for your hero, look no further than New York. Known by a variety of names in the comics (Gotham, etc.), New York is where heroes go to prove themselves and save the day.
But what if I were to tell you that superheroes are not only real, they are being placed in public and private organizations around New York this summer to work towards making our city and state more energy efficient?
This summer, EDF Climate Corps – a fellowship program run by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) that embeds trained graduate students in companies, cities, schools, and public institutions across the U.S. to accelerate clean energy projects – will place 33 fellows throughout New York to help meet the ambitious energy goals set by Mayor Bill DeBlasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo. The size of this cohort is unprecedented – it’s almost a quarter of the entire Climate Corps’ fellows 2016 class – and will provide hands-on support for a variety of building-level projects, such as on-site distributed power generation (e.g. rooftop solar and energy storage), energy efficiency upgrades, and commercial demand response.
It’s a Bird, it’s a Plane, it's Energy Savings for New York!
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Their mission? To help companies and the government achieve established goals to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050, and the Governor’s state-level target to draw half of the state’s power from renewable energy sources by 2031.
EDF Climate Corps is providing critical boots-on-the-ground support that will ultimately help accelerate and execute on New York’s clean energy goals.
To meet these ambitious targets, both the public and private sectors need to mobilize, identify, and execute broad scale solutions that improve building performance and implementation of distributed energy resources. EDF Climate Corps is providing critical boots-on-the-ground support that will ultimately help accelerate and execute on New York’s clean energy goals. The deployment of fellows in multiple sectors will help building owners and operators turn smart energy policy into reality.
In addition to working with commercial real estate companies, such as Shorenstein Properties, and other green, iconic buildings, Climate Corps will have a strong presence in the public sector. Seventeen fellows will be working with city agencies, including the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services, NYC Department of Education, and New York City Housing Authority.
So, you see? Superheroes do walk among us, and they are helping make New York a national leader in clean energy policy.Read more »
- Initial analyses of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act
Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Lead Senior Scientist.
Based on the text of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act posted today, I have prepared the following analyses of the bill:
- a description of: (a) How the Lautenberg Act amends the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 and (b) changes made since House and Senate bill passage to reconcile the bills; and
- a description of what is and is not preempted under the Lautenberg Act.
I hope these analyses are useful to those interested in understanding this complex piece of legislation.
- Historic deal on TSCA reform reached, setting stage for a new law after 40 years of waiting
Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Lead Senior Scientist.
House and Senate negotiators have reached agreement on a final reconciled bill to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), our nation’s badly broken chemical safety law. The final text of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act was posted today, and is set to be voted on by the full House tomorrow, with Senate consideration expected to follow later this week.
Negotiations to reconcile the two chambers’ quite different reform bills, both passed last year, reached a feverish pace in the last few weeks, leading to today’s historic breakthrough.
The result is a final bill that, while a compromise, is a substantial improvement over current law. The bill adopts the comprehensive approach taken by the Senate bill, while sticking closer to the structure of current TSCA, as did the House bill. Negotiators adopted the House bill’s construct of risk evaluations over the Senate’s safety assessments and determinations, while largely adopting the Senate approach to reforming TSCA’s new chemicals program, establishing a prioritization process applicable to all chemicals, and updating the inventory of chemicals active in commerce. The bill’s chemical testing provision is more of an amalgam of the two bills and negotiators agreed to leave several sections of TSCA (e.g., exports and imports) largely untouched, as the House bill had done.
Overall, the new bill makes significant improvements to all of TSCA’s core provisions. Among its main features, the bill:
- Mandates safety reviews for chemicals in active commerce.
- Requires a safety finding before new chemicals are allowed on the market.
- Replaces TSCA’s burdensome safety standard – which prevented EPA even from banning asbestos – with a pure, health-based standard.
- Explicitly requires protection of vulnerable populations, like children and pregnant women.
- Enhances EPA’s authority to require testing of both new and existing chemicals.
- Sets aggressive, judicially enforceable deadlines for EPA decisions and compliance with restrictions.
- Makes more information about chemicals available, by limiting companies’ ability to claim information as confidential, and by giving states and health and environmental professionals access to confidential information they need to do their jobs.
- Requires EPA to reduce and replace animal testing where scientifically reliable alternatives exist that would generate equivalent or better information.
- Requires EPA to prioritize chemicals that are persistent and bioaccumulative, and that are known human carcinogens and have high toxicity.
- Preserves a significant role for states in assuring chemical safety.
The bill is the fruit of several years of negotiations, initially in the Senate, that started with the introduction in 2013 of the first bipartisan reform proposal by the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Sen. David Vitter. Extensive negotiations led by Sen. Tom Udall and Sen. Vitter resulted in a significantly revised bill introduced a year ago, named in honor of Sen. Lautenberg. Further negotiated changes attracted significant bipartisan support in committee, and additional revisions were sufficient to attract 60 co-sponsors by the time of its passage in December by unanimous voice vote. Sens. Jim Inhofe, Barbara Boxer, Tom Carper, Sheldon Whitehouse, Jeff Merkley, Cory Booker, Ed Markey and Dick Durbin each played significant roles in improving the bill keeping up momentum toward its passage.
The House process was much quicker but equally bipartisan, with a bill introduced in May and passed in June of last year, by the remarkable margin of 398-1. Representatives Fred Upton, Frank Pallone, John Shimkus, Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Diana DeGette and Gene Green shepherded and supported moving the bill through the House and the bicameral negotiations.
This bill gives no one everything they wanted – neither Republicans nor Democrats swept the table. For EDF’s part, there are certainly provisions we don’t like that are aspects of the final compromise that was struck to secure passage. But we are very pleased that we can say that each major section of the final bill offers real improvements, and taken together, the final bill is a major improvement over current law. At long last, EPA will have stronger tools to protect Americans from toxic chemicals that impact the health of millions of Americans.
The bill has significant support in the health, environmental, animal welfare and labor communities, endorsed by these groups that represent 26 million Americans:
- Environmental Defense Fund
- The Humane Society of the United States
- International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
- March of Dimes
- Moms Clean Air Force
- National Wildlife Federation
- North America's Building Trades Unions
- Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
- New Hampshire Just Doubled Its Solar Net Metering Cap – And It Already Needs More
By EDF Blogs
By: Roger Stephenson, EDF’s Senior Advisor for New Hampshire Affairs
New Hampshire’s solar industry has an opportunity to stand as an example of the economic gains and consumer savings that are possible when lawmakers reach across the aisle.
But the state’s public utilities commission must act quickly and responsibly.
Earlier this year, Republican and Democrat state lawmakers reached across the aisle to move forward on clean energy “net metering” legislation allowing the solar industry to continue growing in the state. (As many readers of this blog know, net metering is a policy that allows solar-equipped businesses and homes to sell their unused solar energy back to the grid.)
As it has in many other states, the solar industry in New Hampshire has seen tremendous growth in recent years. There are more than 73 solar related companies in New Hampshire, employing about 770 people. Last year, more than $45 million was invested in solar installation in the Granite State. But also, like other states, New Hampshire remained handcuffed by policies that stacked the deck in favor of legacy utilities and kept solar energy from truly taking off.
In April, a broad cross section of New Hampshire leaders came together to remove the shackles. Getting to this point required a lot of work among leaders in the legislature and clean energy advocates, as well as negotiations with the utilities and solar installers. Environmental Defense Fund, NH Sustainable Energy Association, the state Nature Conservancy chapter, and other environmental stakeholders were at the table.
The decision reached doubles the statewide net metering program cap, from 50 MW to 100 MW. In other words, the total amount of solar energy residential and commercial customers could sell back to the grid in New Hampshire had doubled.
New Hampshire Just Doubled Its Solar Net Metering Cap – And It Already Needs More
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But now, just weeks after the bill was signed, solar providers are already nearing the increased net metering cap for larger solar projects, at least in the Eversource service area (Eversource serves about 70 percent of electricity customers in New Hampshire). While the bill signed into law is unquestionably a big step in the right direction, a problem many stakeholders foresaw in the negotiations is being realized: New Hampshire solar needs a cap higher than 100MW.
New Hampshire’s legislature did their part by lifting the cap on an interim basis. Now the cap is being considered by the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission, and it is up to them to use the regulatory process to ensure net metering provides a reasonable, reliable, and consistent clean energy choice for businesses and residents. The Commission now has ten months to complete its work, but in the interim, solar in New Hampshire is once again hitting an artificially low ceiling.
New Hampshire solar needs a cap higher than 100MW.
The Granite State has a lot to be proud of, especially compared to some other states. In Nevada and Arizona, the old utilities are pushing for rules that would run the solar industry out of town. In Florida, outdated policies side with big utilities and limit the opportunity for businesses and homeowners to go solar.
In New Hampshire, at least, lawmakers, clean energy advocates, and solar installers are embracing a robust, clean energy future with strong economic growth and savings for all who want them. Now it’s up to the Public Utilities Commission to move the state a step closer to this reality.
Photo credit: Fred Greenhalgh/FlickrRead more »