Evaluating Ingenuitive Pathways to a Sustainable Future and Other Hot Pubs
Truck Fuel Economy Standards: On August 18, 2011, the National Wildlife Federation released a report: “Trucks That Work: How New Fuel Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Standards Will Deliver Better, Cleaner, Cheaper-to-Operate Trucks —– and Why it Matters for Truck Owners, Wildlife and the U.S. Economy.” The report focuses on the first ever standards to increase the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for medium and heavy duty trucks. This report reviews the proposed heavy duty truck standard, with a particular emphasis on the work pickup trucks used in outdoor and natural resource businesses and recreation. According to the report, when both car and light truck, and medium- and heavy-duty standards are considered, the combined fuel savings and carbon emission reductions would result in: a cut of 639 million metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution annually by 2030, or about 10% of total US carbon pollution today and a reduction in America’s oil consumption by more than 1.2 billion barrels of oil a year, or 3.4 million barrels of oil every single day, more than the U.S. currently imports from Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Venezuela combined.”
Expansion of Auto Industry: On August 18, 2011 National Wildlife Federation and UAW joined with the Natural Resources Defense Council to release “Supplying Ingenuity”. The report detailed how U.S. suppliers of clean, fuel efficient vehicle technologies can play a key role in the expansion of the auto industry in America and foster significant job growth. Currently, the automotive industry directly employs nearly 700,000 U.S. workers, more than 427,000 of whom are employed in the automotive supply sector — companies that design, engineer, and manufacture the parts that are eventually assembled into cars and light trucks. The study finds that 300 companies in 43 states and the District of Columbia that create clean and efficient vehicle technologies for the automotive supply. These suppliers of clean, efficiency-oriented vehicle components are responsible for employing 150,000 workers directly and hundreds of thousands indirectly. Strong standards will put automotive engineers and production workers on the job, supplying ingenuity for cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Coal Ash: On August 17, Earthjustice and Appalachian Mountain Advocates released a report: “State of Failure: How States Fail to Protect Our Health and Drinking Water from Toxic Coal Ash.” The study finds that state regulations regarding coal ash disposal are inadequate to protect public health and drinking water supplies for nearby communities. Of the 37 states examined, which together comprise over 98 percent of all coal ash generated nationally, the study highlights the lack of state-based regulations for coal ash disposal and names the 12 worst states when it comes to coal ash dumping. Of the 37 states examined: 3 states require composite liners for all new coal ash ponds; 5 states require composite liners for all new coal ash landfills; 2 states require groundwater monitoring of all coal ash ponds; 4 states require groundwater monitoring of all coal ash landfills; 6 states prohibit siting of coal ash ponds into the water table; and 17 states require regulatory inspections of the structural integrity of coal ash ponds. Lisa Evans, senior legislative counsel at Earthjustice and a co-author of the study states, “Strong, federally enforceable safeguards are needed to guarantee that our drinking water remains free of arsenic, lead, mercury and other toxic metals found in coal ash. The myth that states are doing a good job protecting Americans from coal ash is busted.”
Power Plant Impacts: On August 8, 2011, Sierra Club recently released a report: “Giant Fish Blenders: How Power Plants Kill Fish And Damage Our Waterways (and What Can Be Done To Stop Them).” A power plant with once-through cooling draws hundreds of millions, in some cases billions, of gallons of water each day from the closest lake, river or ocean and indiscriminately sucks in whatever aquatic life is near the intake pipe. It is estimated that billions of fish and other aquatic organisms at all stages of life are killed each year by power plants’ water-intake systems. This report looks at the impact of once-through cooling systems on some of the nation’s most iconic waterways: the Great Lakes; the Gulf of Mexico; the Mississippi River; the Hudson River, New York Harbor and Long Island Sound; the California Coast; and the Chesapeake Bay. Almost 40 years after Congress identified cooling water intake as a threat to our waterways and the life sustained by them, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has failed to force the owners of power plants—the nation’s largest water users—to reduce their destructive impact. This report highlights why the EPA must move quickly to strengthen proposed regulations and phase out the most destructive water-cooling practices by putting in place common-sense protections for fisheries and waterways across the United States.
Food Security: On August 3, 2011, Oxfam released a report: “Briefing on the Horn of Africa Drought: Climate Change and Future Impacts on Food Security.” Across Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya, 12 million people are in dire need of food, clean water, and basic sanitation. If nothing is done, climate change will in future make a bad situation worse. Urgent action is required at global and local levels if today’s food crisis is not to be a grim foretaste of future hunger and suffering. The current pledges of emission reductions made by governments must be increased. Developed countries must lead by raising their current targets to at least 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, and start to mobilize the $100 billion per year committed for climate action in developing countries. An adequate response to the current crisis must not only meet urgent humanitarian needs, but also address these underlying problems in the face of a changing climate to ensure the food security of the region’s people in the years and decades to come.
Climate-Induced Weather Extremes: On August 3, 2011, the National Wildlife Federation released a joint report titled “Facing The Storm: Indian Tribes, Climate-Induced Weather Extremes, And The Future For Indian Country.” The report highlights the high dependence of Tribes upon their lands and natural resources to sustain their economic, cultural, and spiritual practices. It finds Tribes are disproportionately impacted by climate change, often due to their marginal nature, poor infrastructure, and lack of financial and technical resources to recover from climate induced disasters. Prompt and decisive action is needed to secure resources to address the impacts of climate change and to implement programs that help prepare Tribes, federal and state governments and agencies, and local communities to adapt to changes in climate. Indian Tribes have an opportunity to build on their close connection to the land, traditions of sustainability, and resilience to navigate a way forward through the changes of the coming decades.
Fuel Economy & Jobs: On July 28, 2011, while the Obama Administration and State of California were developing higher Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, Ceres released a report: “More Jobs Per Gallon: How Strong Fuel Economy/Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Standards Will Fuel American Jobs.” Since light-duty vehicles account for more than 40 percent of U.S. oil consumption, and nearly 60 percent of mobile source GHGs, the upcoming rules have important implications for energy security, protection from oil price spikes, and reducing global warming pollution. The report draws upon three reasons why it is in the consumer’s interest to adopt strong fuel economy/GHG standards: stronger standards are good for the auto industry, especially U.S. automakers, voters want better mileage and GHG standards, and dramatically higher mileage is technologically feasible. This Ceres report focuses on the economic impacts of strengthening fuel economy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards for passenger vehicles sold in the United States. The analysis finds that stronger standards—more miles and fewer emissions per gallon—would lead to greater economic and job growth, both within the auto industry and in the broader economy as a whole.
Uranium Mining: On July 26, 2011, Environment America has released a report: “Grand Canyon At Risk: Uranium Mining Doesn’t Belong Near Our National Treasures.” After several decades of reduced activity due to depressed prices, uranium mining is making a comeback—including on the edges of one of our nation’s most treasured wild places, the Grand Canyon. Many uranium mines operated in the United States has required some degree of toxic waste cleanup. The worst have sickened dozens of people, contaminated miles of rivers and streams, and required the cleanup of hundreds of acres of land. The report provides three possible solutions to preserve the Grand Canyon: extend the moratorium on new mining claims near the Grand Canyon, reform mining laws to allow regulators to deny permission to mine where significant natural places or human health are at risk, and require uranium mining companies to clean up contamination.
Coal Power Plants: On July 2011, Natural Resource Defense Council released a study: “How Power Plants Contaminate Our Air And States.” This report analyzes publicly available data from Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). The report provides fact sheets on the “toxic twenty” states throughout America by electric sector emissions. In 2009, coal- and oil-fired power plants accounted for nearly fifty percent of all reported toxic pollution from industrial sources. The next largest sector, chemical processing and manufacturing, emitted less than one third of the electric sector’s total. Power plants are the leading source of industrial toxic air pollution in twenty eight states and the District of Columbia.
Smog: On August 18, 2011, the Center for American Progress released a study, “Big Oil’s Smoggy Notions Proved False (Again..).” The report comes out as the White House reviews the Environmental Protection Agency’s updated ground level ozone standard. According to a Natural Resource Defense Council analysis, there have been 2,012 Code Orange days in 252 cities, suburbs, and national parks from January 1, 2011 through August 8, 2011. Center for American Progress analysis of economic data found that industry predictions about the potential economic havoc that would occur after the passing of the 1997 ozone standard did not occur. In fact, their analysis revealed the areas with smog levels exceeding the health standards for the first time experienced very similar economic growth to the nation as a whole. Employment rates were very similar to the national rate. Thus, this suggests that recent similar attacks on the pending ozone standard also lack credibility.
Green Economy: On July 13, 2011, The Brookings Institute recently released a report titled “Sizing The Clean Economy.” The report claims that the clean economy defined as “the sector of the economy that produces goods and services with an environmental benefit—remains at once a compelling aspiration and an enigma.” Clean economy has remained elusive in part because, in the absence of standard definitions and data, strikingly little is known about its nature, size, and growth at the regional level. Debates about the so-called “green” economyand “green jobs” have frequently been short on facts and long on speculation, assertion, and partisanship. Although the green economy has been depressed by significant policy problems and uncertainties, the study draws the conclusion, “the clean economy, which employs some 2.7 million workers, encompasses a significant number of jobs in establishments spread across a diverse group of industries.” The clean economy employs more workers than the fossil fuel industry. Roughly 64 percent of all current clean economy jobs and 75 percent of its newer jobs created from 2003 to 2010 congregate in the nation’s 100 largest metro areas
Climatic Heat Stress: On August 8, 2011, The American Academy Of Pediatrics released a report “Climatic Heat Stress and Exercising Children And Adolescents.” Despite popular belief, youth do not have less effective thermoregulatory ability, insufficient cardiovascular capacity, or lower physical exertion tolerance compared with adults during exercise in the heat when adequate hydration is maintained. Additionally, during hot days, children should wear weather appropriate clothes and be given appropriate amount of time to rest in between training and sports competition sessions. With preparation, modifications, and monitoring most children should be free to engage in outdoor activities during hot climatic conditions.
California & the Environment: On July 2011, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) conducted a survey titled: “Californians and The Environment.” This was the 11th annual PPIC Statewide Survey on environmental issues since 2000. The survey, which sampled more than 2,500 people, covered subjects such as Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, global warming, carbon tax, nuclear energy, air pollution, and offshore drilling. This survey gauges public opinion on environmental issues in the face of ongoing economic challenges and examines attitudes toward the roles of local, state, and federal leadership. Additionally, the survey measures views on this policy and tracks opinions on expanding nuclear power in the wake of the recent nuclear crisis in Japan and on expanding oil drilling off California’s coast. Many Californians are strongly supportive of policies that encourage fuel efficiency and renewable energy. State residents agree that automakers should be required to improve fuel efficiency standards (90% Democrats, 81% independents, and 76% Republicans). While 79% favor greenhouse gas regulations, they are split between a cap and trade system (54% in favor) and a carbon tax (60% in favor). 66% percent of Californians consider air pollution “a big problem” but are divided when asked whether pollution is a more serious health threat in lower-income areas than in other areas in their region (50% yes, 45% no). On the other hand, 75% view global warming as a threat to the economy and 61% believe the effects of global warming have already begun.
Mountaintop Removal: From July 18 to 20, CNN and ORC International conducted a poll where they questioned 1,009 people on whether or not they support mountain top coal removal. Fifty-seven percent of respondents say they oppose the controversial mining process, in which a mountain is blasted apart and the debris deposited in nearby valleys. Thirty six percent believe that the anti top coal removal correspondents have no relation to coal mining and seven percent offered no opinion. Roughly one third of West Virginia’s coal is mined through mountaintop coal removal. West Virginia University associate professor Michael Hendryx conducted a study which found evidence that proves coal mining can induce “higher rates of cancer, chronic heart disease, heart attacks, and lung disease like (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), kidney disease.” Of course, there are some refute Professor Hendryx’s statement and claim the study as false through the correlation versus causation argument. Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association and a lobbyist for the coal industry also brings into attention the fact that “mountaintop mining is authorized by federal law, has been for years.”