Broad Support for a Strong EPA and Other Hot Pubs
Water Works: Green for All, in partnership with the Economic Policy Institute, Pacific Institute and American Rivers, published a new report this month estimating the economic impact and job creating potential of major new investment in US water infrastructure. Water Works: Rebuilding Infrastructure, Creating Jobs, Greening the Environment found that “an investment of $188.4 billion spread equally over the next five years would generate $265.6 billion in economic activity and create close to 1.9 million jobs.” The report posits that investment in green infrastructure that mimics natural solutions, would result in substantial workforce opportunities and analyzes a representative set of occupations in water infrastructure-related industries. Green for All’s research found that annual “sewer overflows contaminate U.S. waters with 860 billion gallons of untreated sewage, an amount that could fill 1.3 million Olympic-size swimming pools or cover the entire state of Pennsylvania with one inch of sewage.”
Danger in the Air: Environment America released a report last month ranking the nation’s smoggiest metropolitan areas. Danger in the Air: Unhealthy Air Days in 2010 and 2011 found that “because the national health standard for smog pollution set in 2008 was set at a level that scientists agree is not protective of public health, people across the country have been exposed to days of poor air quality each summer without even knowing it.” Of large metropolitan areas, Riverside-San Bernardino, California endured the worst smog pollution in 2010, followed by Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA; Baltimore, MD; Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, PA. The report makes several policy recommendations based on its findings, including that the EPA “set a National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ground-level ozone within the range of 60 to 70 parts per billion averaged over eight hours,” and that Congress eliminate subsidies that keep our nation dependent on fossil fuels.
Growing Meat Consumption: A Worldwatch Institute report, published in the nonprofit’s Vital Signs Online research service as part of its “Nourishing the Planet” project, found that global meat production “increased by 2.6 percent in 2010 to 290.6 million tons, an increase from the 0.8 percent growth rate of 2009.” The increases in global meat production and consumption found in the report are putting numerous strains on the climate since raising livestock accounts for about “23 percent of all global water use in agriculture” and livestock themselves account for roughly “18 percent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, producing 40 percent of the world’s methane and 65 percent of the world’s nitrous oxide.” A summary of the Worldwatch report can be found here. Subscription to Vital Signs Online is required to view the entire publication.
Department of Defense Clean Energy Investments: The Pew Project on National Security, Energy, and Climate released a report on the Department of Defense’s (DOD) work on clean-energy innovation. From Barracks to the Battlefield: Clean Energy Innovation and America’s Armed Forces finds that the DoD’s clean energy investments increased 200 percent between 2006 and 2009, from $400 million to $1.2 billion, and that they are projected to move beyond $10 billion annually by 2030. Director of the Pew Clean Energy Program, Phyllis Cuttino, explained that the “DoD’s efforts to harness clean energy will save lives, save money and enhance the nation’s energy and economic future. Its work is also helping to spur industry growth and demonstrate technological feasibility.”
A Strong EPA Protects Our Health: On October 6, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), released the EPW Committee Majority Staff Report. A Strong EPA Protects Our Health and Promotes Economic Growth focuses on the invaluable protections provided by the EPA and major environmental laws which have not only protected public health but also promoted economic growth. Based on the benefits of legislation like the Clean Air Act, the annual benefits of which are expected to prevent 230,000 premature deaths by 2020 and provide about $2 trillion per year with continued enforcement, the report concludes that the EPA’s major “environmental laws are critical to a stronger, healthier, and more productive workforce – they are integral to our quality of life and support a strong economy.”
Support for Solar Industry Grant Program: The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and EuPD Research released a report this week analyzing the economic impact of extending the Treasury Grant Program (TGP), originally created to address the “shortage of tax equity to renewable energy projects” due to the financial collapse. Economic Impact of Extending the Section 1603 Treasury Program found that extending the TGP would significantly accelerate the growth of the U.S. solar market, with a one-year extension through 2012 poised to have the “greatest impact on economic activity in 2012 and 2013, as well as enable growth through 2016 as projects complete construction and come online.” The report concluded that this one-year continuation would result in an additional 37,000 jobs…a 12 percent increase over baseline.”
Coal Ash Safeguards and Employment: In response to the Utility Solid Waste Activities Group (USWAG) claim that the EPA’s potential coal ash disposal safeguards could lead to the loss of over 300,000 jobs, economist Frank Ackerman of the Stockholm Environmental Institute conducted a new analysis of the regulation’s potential effects on employment. Employment Effects of Coal Ash Regulation, released this month, found that the industry study provides “no explanation for more than 50,000 of the supposedly lost jobs; they result either from unreported assumptions or from errors in calculation.” Ackerman’s analysis reevaluated the job-impact analysis of coal ash regulation, comparing the employment costs to employment benefits, to show that “the effect of the new spending required by strict regulation of coal ash…would be a net gain of 28,000 jobs.”
Pipe Dreams: A report released last month by the Cornell University Global Labor Institute, in association with the ILR School and Global Labor Institute, found that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline could destroy more American jobs than it creates. Pipe Dreams? Jobs Gained, Jobs Lost by the Construction of Keystone XL, examines claims made by TransCanada Corporation and the American Petroleum Institute regarding the job-creating potential of the new pipeline. New economic analysis cited in the report found that the oil industry’s US jobs claims are “linked to a $7 billion [budget for the project]” and yet the pipeline’s budget “that will have bearing on US jobs figures is dramatically lower—only around $3 to $4 billion,” meaning fewer jobs. The research also concluded that the industry’s claim Keystone XL will create 119,000 total jobs “is based on a flawed and poorly documented study commissioned by TransCanada.”
Long-Term Global CO2 Trends: A 2011 report by the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and JRC European Commission, Long-Term Trend in Global CO2 Emissions found that growth in global CO2 emissions is continuing a long-term trend. Despite a 1 percent decline in emissions in 2009, carbon dioxide emissions across the globe increased more than 5 percent in 2010, an unprecedented increase in the “last two decades, but similar to the increase in 1976 when the global economy was recovering from the first oil crisis and subsequent stock market crash.” The report stressed the need for a large, joint effort for mitigating climate change, as it found that the main reasons for a 5.8 percent increase in 2010 global CO2 emission were continued growth in developing nations and economic recovery in the industrialized countries.
Rainforest Drought and CO2 Emissions: A recent study by NASA researchers and published in the latest issue of Environmental Research Letters found that the 2010 drought in the Amazon rainforest caused an 1.8 billion extra metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, a total nearly equaling the annual CO2 emissions from deforestation and forest fires combined. The scientists behind the findings input satellite data showing a dramatic decline in forest health into a computer model to estimate monthly changes in CO2 output, concluding that “the amount of CO2 absorbed from the atmosphere by vegetation declined by an average of 7 percent in 2010 compared to 2008…” equating to the significant increase in CO2 emissions.
Wetland Losses Linked to Climate Change: A new report released last week by the Department of Interior, in collaboration with the Fish and Wildlife Service, found that there has been an overall loss of wetland habitat since 2004, a loss which experts say is associated with climate change. Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Conterminous United States 2004 to 2009 found that despite a 17 percent increase in the rate of wetland reestablishment and creation, “the estimated wetland loss rate increased 140 percent during the same time period and, as a consequence, national wetland losses have outdistanced gains.”
BP Spill’s Impact on Gulf Ecosystem: A study published late last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examined the effect of the BP oil spill on killifish, also known as bull minnows, in the Gulf. Genomic and Physiological Footprint of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on Resident Marsh Fishes chose to research the killifish because of its critical role in the Gulf’s food chain and its sensitivity to the effects of toxic pollution. The research found that the killifish’s cellular function “coincides with contaminating oil and is consistent with genome responses…indicative of physiological and reproductive impairment” and concluded that crude oil from the BP spill “imparts significant biological impacts in sensitive Louisiana marshes, some of which remain for over 2 [months] following initial exposures.
Hunger Index: The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), in conjunction with the German nonprofit Welthungerhilfe and Ireland’s Concern Worldwide, published its Hunger Index Report this month which concluded the use of biofuels, price speculation, and climate change are the top three causes of food price fluctuations and hunger in the developing world. The Challenge of Hunger: Taming Price Spikes and Excessive Food Price Volatility did show a decline in global hunger since 1990, but not a major one as global hunger remains at a “serious” level. The report stressed that addressing food price volatility and price increases will require “revising biofuel policies, regulating financial activity on food markets, and adapting to and mitigating climate change.”
Clean Energy Cons: ThinkProgress released a report this month revealing that dozens of Republicans did, at one point, support clean energy projects in their districts before beginning the current all-out assault on clean energy and green jobs. The special report shows that a total of 62 Republicans from the House and Senate were once proponents of clean energy investments, and sent letters asking for clean energy-related loan guarantees and grants for their districts. Copies of these letters can be accessed in the report.
Voter Disapproval of Clean Air Attacks: A new national poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling and released this week by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the League of Women Voters (LWV), and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) found disapproval of President Obama’s decision to block stronger smog protections among Americans, including Latino and suburban women. Responses indicate that roughly 79 percent of women and 71 percent of Latino women nationwide disapproved of the President’s decision on ozone. The polling also found that 69 percent of Americans “agree with health experts who support reducing toxic air pollution from industrial sources” and 69 percent are “in favor of the EPA limiting the amount of carbon pollution that power plants and industrial facilities can release.”
EPA Pollution Rule Support: A new nationwide poll, conducted by Hart Research Associates and GS Strategy Group and released by Ceres this week found that voters “overwhelmingly support” the EPA’s new rules that would limit dangerous air pollution from coal-fired power plants and “strongly disagree” with Congressional attempts to prevent the regulations from going into effect. Responses from 1,400 voters surveyed found 67 percent in support of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), which would require major reductions in emissions from electric power plants, and 77 percent in support of the proposed Mercury and Air Toxics Rule, which would require power plants to significantly reduce their mercury, lead, arsenic, and toxic gas emissions. The poll also found that 75 percent of voters believe that the EPA, not Congress, “should determine whether stricter limits are needed on air pollution from electric power plants,” a view supported across the political spectrum.
Small Business Concerns: A new U.S. Chamber poll released this month shows that Regulation is not a top concern for small business owners. The Small Business Outlook Survey found that the majority, 52 percent, of small businesses’ top concern is the general economic climate over recent legislation and over-regulation. The survey also found strong support for greenhouse gas regulations among small businesses, with 76 percent responding in favor of regulations to reduce carbon emissions. This support also remained strong among business owners in large manufacturing states such as Ohio.
Voters on Federal Regulation: The latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll reported this month that while a majority of American voters are concerned about too much government regulation of business hurting the economy, they also remain reluctant to block several of the major rules congressional Republicans want reversed. The poll, conducted just after the nearly unanimous vote by House Republicans in September to block EPA regulations for coal-fired power plants, found that 55 percent of adults believe government regulation of business has been a “major factor” in the “current economic slowdown.” However, when asked whether Congress should block EPA rules meant to “limit emissions of mercury, sulfur dioxide, and other pollutants from power plants,” 47 percent of respondents said Congress should allow the rules to go into effect, while 40 percent said it should block the regulations. When asked about pending EPA regulations meant to “limit emissions of CO2 and other gases that scientists have linked to global climate change,” 52 percent said Congress should allow the rules to take effect while only 39 percent believed that should be blocked.
Support for EPA and Electability: A Bloomberg National Poll conducted last month examined voter sentiment on a variety of national issues and GOP candidate positions, including the matter of climate change and the existence of the EPA. Based on results from 997 respondents, the poll found that 45 percent of respondents said they would be “less likely to vote for someone who questions global warming” versus 25 percent who felt the opposite. 65 percent of respondents said that they would be “less likely to vote for someone who wants to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency, versus 19 percent who said the opposite.”
More Americans Believe World is Warming: A Reuters/Ipsos survey released in late September found that, compared to 2010, more Americans believe the world is getting warmer. Americans who believe the Earth is warming rose to 83 percent, an 8 point increase from 75 percent last year when the poll was conducted. Stanford University political science professor and university fellow at the Resources for the Future think tank Jon Krosnick stressed that global warming could be an important issue in the 2012 election “because some 15 percent of voters see it as their primary concern.”