CLIMATE CHANGE

Trump Administration’s New Clean Car Proposal is Like Putting Lipstick on a Pig

By Ann Mesnikoff

The Trump administration’s rollback of Clean Car Standards is officially out for public comment. The administration’s preference for stalling standards is a shameful effort to undermine the biggest single step the U.S. can take to curb climate pollution and make new cars and trucks go further on a gallon of gas. Calling this the “The Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule” is at best putting lipstick on a pig balancing on a house of cards.

For some context, just six years ago, in August of 2012, the Obama administration’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency, along with California, announced Clean Car Standards to ensure that new cars, minivans and pickups sold between 2017 and 2025 would continually improve – using less gasoline to travel a mile and emitting less climate pollution out of the tailpipe. If fully implemented, they would save families up to $122 billion at the pump, save more than 12 billion barrels of oil and keep 6 billion metric tons of dangerous carbon pollution out of the atmosphere. Across the Midwest we’d save approximately 55 billion gallons of oil through 2030. Rather than letting these standards continue in place, the current administration is proposing to freeze them at 2020 levels through 2026.

Stalling standards could cost the average American family as much as $500 per year at the gas pump, and low income drivers and those who need to drive long distances would be the hardest hit. Rather than cutting carbon pollution, we would see over 2.2 billion metric tons of cumulative additional carbon pollution by 2040 (as much carbon pollution as 480 million average American cars emit in a year), and nearly 200 billion gallons of cumulative additional gasoline consumption by 2040.

Almost daily, we are seeing the arguments underpinning the Trump proposal come apart – from flawed analysis about how much it costs to put technology to work to cut oil use and pollution, to faulty claims about vehicle safety. They grossly exaggerated claims about how much driving owners of new more efficient cars would do because of savings at the pump, or how many miles people would drive older, less efficient cars. The problems with this proposal run so deep that experts at EPA called aspects of DOT’s model “indefensible.” Further, EPA’s internal analysis suggested that freezing the standards would increase fatalities, cost jobs, and overall cost $83 billion. Emails show EPA experts did not even want EPA’s logo to appear on the analysis that accompanies the plan to freeze standards.

The fact is that Clean Car standards are driving innovation and job growth in the clean car sector. Across the Midwest, there are a total of 151,714 jobs in 480 facilities associated with making cleaner vehicles. ELPC has made clear that strong Clean Car Standards matter in the Midwest. They are a key policy in reducing the threats climate change poses to the Great Lakes and the region and important for achieving clean air to breathe. It seems the only winner with a freeze is Big Oil – even the Trump administration admits their plan would increase oil consumption by 500,000 barrels of oil every day!

It’s time to gear up for the fight. Look out for information on how you can help us tell EPA and DOT that this plan is a wrong turn for America.

 

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PRESS RELEASE: US EPA’s Repeat Midterm Review of Clean Car Standards is Misguided and Flawed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                             Contact: Judith Nemes

April 2, 2018                                                                           (312) 795-3706

JNemes@elpc.org

US EPA’s Repeat Midterm Review of Clean Car Standards is Misguided and Flawed

Keeping the common sense clean car standards will save people money at the gas pump, reduce  pollution, and advance America’s technological innovation leadership and global competitiveness

STATEMENT BY HOWARD A. LEARNER

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ENVIRONMENTAL LAW & POLICY CENTER

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that its pollution reduction standards for vehicle Model Years 2022-2025 in coordination with U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) fuel economy standards are no longer “appropriate.” In response, ELPC Executive Director Howard Learner said:

“The EPA’s misguided decision threatens to shift America into reverse and put U.S. automakers behind in the global competition for cleaner, more fuel efficient cars. The standards that EPA and DOT issued in 2012 were grounded in extensive analysis and remain sound.

“Weakening the standards will undermine innovation and the American auto industry’s competitiveness, stall job creation in the Midwest and lead to more trips to the gas pump for many Americans. The Pruitt EPA should have confirmed the work that US EPA completed in 2017 and move forward with US DOT to ensure that standards stay strong through 2025.”

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ClimateWire: Midwest Went From a Climate Leader to a Trump Bulwark

Midwest Went From a Climate Leader to a Trump Bulwark

By Benjamin Storrow

Climate hawks thought they’d scored a major victory in 2007 when six Midwestern states and the Canadian province of Manitoba agreed to an economywide carbon cap-and-trade program. It was seen by many as a precursor to federal action.

More than a decade later, the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord has come to represent just the opposite.

Cap and trade failed in Congress and was never implemented in the Midwest. Onetime Republican boosters, like former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, recanted their support. Instead of implementing a regional emissions reduction program, Republican lawmakers and governors elected in the GOP wave of 2010 went on to fight the Clean Power Plan, former President Obama’s initiative to curb carbon emissions from power plants.

Even former supporters admit the idea of a Midwestern cap-and-trade program now seems far-fetched.

“I think we’re probably a long way of getting back to that point,” said former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat who led efforts to implement the regional climate program.

The Midwest’s reversal on cap and trade demonstrates the wider challenges facing U.S. climate hawks. While states on the East and West coasts seek to take up the mantle of climate action during the Trump administration, plans for curbing emissions in the Midwest are notably scarce. Minnesota is the only Midwestern member of the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of 16 states and Puerto Rico seeking to meet the targets of the Paris climate accord. (It is also the only state in the country that requires utilities to estimate the damage of carbon pollution.)

Yet the Midwest represents a large slice of America’s emissions pie. Coal and manufacturing, while diminished, remain crucial cogs in the region’s economy and major emitters of greenhouse gases. Four of America’s top 10 carbon-emitting states hailed from the region in 2015, according to the most recent federal figures.

Politics explain much of the region’s climate complacency.

“All the governors, except Gov. [Mark] Dayton in Minnesota, are all Republicans who appear to be caught up in the wave of denying climate realities and climate action,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center in Chicago.

It wasn’t always that way. Carbon reduction strategies like cap and trade once enjoyed broad bipartisan appeal. Two Republican governors, George Pataki of New York and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, spearheaded the creation of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade program covering the power sector in 10 Northeastern states. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) endorsed the idea during his 2008 presidential campaign. When Doyle proposed the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord, one of his chief allies was Pawlenty.

The idea was an extension of efforts to curtail acid rain decades earlier, when emission trading programs for pollutants like nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide were incorporated into the Clean Air Act.

“Everyone acted like it was some big, new idea,” Doyle said. “It didn’t seem that different from sulphur dioxide or nitrogen oxide.”

A combination of political and economic factors ultimately eroded Republican support for the idea. The recession hit, hollowing out the Midwest’s industrial base. Political leaders from both parties became apprehensive about any measure that could increase electricity costs and hamper the region’s recovery. At the same time, fossil fuel interests pumped money into Republican campaigns, promoting the idea that climate change was a hoax and stoking fears about government overreach.

“They’ve definitely poisoned the well in the short term,” Doyle said.

Another motivating factor also disappeared: the prospects for federal action. Much of the support for the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord was premised on the idea that it was merely a precursor for federal action, said Doug Scott, who took part in the negotiations as director of the Illinois EPA.

“One of the goals was, if we think this is coming, we can try and devise a state program,” said Scott, now the vice president for strategic initiatives at the Great Plains Institute.

Instead, cap and trade died in Congress and Democrats endured a shellacking at the ballot box in 2010. In the Midwest, Doyle retired, then-Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm was term-limited and former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius went to Washington to serve in the Obama administration. Her successor, Mark Parkinson, was defeated in 2010, as was Iowa Gov. Chet Culver. Rod Blagojevich, Illinois’ governor, soon became ensnared in a corruption scandal, and Democrats lost control of the corner office in Springfield to Republican Bruce Rauner in 2014.

Pawlenty, for his part, renounced his support for cap and trade as part of an unsuccessful presidential bid in 2012, calling the idea “ham-fisted” and “misguided.”

“I would argue that one of the other things that limited the MGGRA and a lot of state climate policy is that the embrace was largely by an individual governor,” said Barry Rabe, a professor of public policy at the University of Michigan. “There wasn’t the resiliency or the durability of a Legislature really engaging.”

If the region has taken a step back on the political front, climate hawks are quick to point out a change in attitude among Midwestern utilities. Power companies across the region have continued to close coal plants and embrace renewables, even after President Trump took office.

The two largest utilities in Michigan have pledged to cut carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050, largely by shuttering coal plants. In November, We Energies announced plans to shut its Pleasant Prairie coal-fired power plant outside Kenosha, Wis., and bring 350 megawatts of solar online.

Wind now accounts for 36 percent of Iowa’s electricity generation and almost 30 percent of Kansas’ power production, according to industry statistics. Minnesota-based Xcel Energy Inc. expects wind will generate the majority of its electricity across the utility’s eight-state service territory by 2021.

Those trends have produced a drop in carbon emissions. Estimates by the Environmental Law and Policy Center show that Illinois is 81 percent of the way toward meeting its targets under the Clean Power Plan, even though the regulation was killed by the Trump administration. In Michigan, the group estimates that figure is 91 percent.

It could also herald a political change. Arguing for renewables is easier when the costs of wind and solar are on the decline, greens said.

“The market forces are pretty compelling now,” said Stanley “Skip” Pruss, who led Michigan’s Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth under Granholm. “With the absence of political leadership, we need to harness and leverage the business community to make them advocates for clean energy. That is our best vehicle moving forward.”

Still, political leadership matters, which is why Pruss and other greens look longingly toward a series of competitive gubernatorial races in the Midwest this year.

But even those races illustrate the region’s evolving position on climate. Renewables have a broad base of political support because they provide local economic benefits in addition to cutting pollution, greens said. While opposition over siting remains, many said they expect Democratic candidates to promote renewables as a chance to foster a homegrown energy industry in a region where fossil fuel extraction is scarce.

As for mentions of cap and trade on the campaign stump? Don’t bet on hearing many.

“The policy experts acknowledge that putting a price on carbon is one of the most efficient ways to make the transition to renewables faster,” said Kate Madigan, deputy policy director for the Michigan Environmental Council. “I don’t know if it’s something that people who don’t think about climate change all the time follow.”

 

ELPC Joins Environmental Advocacy Groups Call for Pruitt’s Recusal from Clean Power Plan Rulemaking Process

(Washington, D.C. – January 29, 2018) Environmental and legal advocates today submitted a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calling for EPA to withdraw the proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan and for Administrator Scott Pruitt to recuse himself from any further Clean Power Plan proceedings.

Environmental Law & Policy Center together with a coalition including the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Law Foundation, Earthjustice, Sierra Club, and Union of Concerned Scientists sent the letter, which lists evidence that shows Pruitt has predetermined the outcome of the process:

“Administrator Pruitt’s comments about the Clean Power Plan make it clear that the deck is stacked and, unfortunately, his mind is closed,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “Fortunately, federal clean air standards can’t be arbitrarily repealed, but require rigorous, impartial analysis and a decision maker with an open mind who has the interests of all Americans at heart. Administrator Pruitt’s mind appears unalterably closed in this case, and he should be recused from this EPA decision.”

The Clean Power Plan — America’s only nationwide limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants — is the most significant step our nation has taken to tackle dangerous climate change. Once fully implemented, the Clean Power Plan would prevent up to 4,500 premature deaths a year, according to a recent analysis issued by Pruitt’s EPA.

On October 16, 2017, EPA released a proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan. If finalized, a repeal would leave the U.S. unprotected from our largest stationary source of carbon pollution — even as the urgent threat of climate change becomes ever clearer.

“As the letter documents, Administrator Pruitt’s statements reveal a firmly closed mind on the Clean Power Plan; he has described the CPP’s repeal in ways flatly incompatible with the Clean Air Act’s requirements for a meaningful public process before a final decision is made,” said Sean H. Donahue, counsel for EDF.

The Due Process Clause forbids an official from presiding over a rulemaking when the official has an “unalterably closed mind” about the subject matter, and the Clean Air Act requires a transparent rulemaking process where a final decision is issued only after careful consideration of the law, science, and public comments.

“Scott Pruitt’s tenure as EPA administrator is rife with conflicts of interest. As Oklahoma attorney general, he played a leading role in litigating the EPA’s Clean Power Plan on behalf of his fossil fuel industry campaign contributors. He cannot serve in the conflicting roles of lawyer for one side, judge and jury, and executioner of the Clean Power Plan,” said Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “It is a clear violation of law for Scott Pruitt to participate in this matter, and it deprives the American public of an open-minded decisionmaker. If Administrator Pruitt really wants to keep his promise to restore ’the rule of law’ at the EPA, he must recuse himself immediately.”

Administrator Pruitt has also publicly repudiated the legal authority for the Clean Power Plan and described the rulemaking process in ways that make clear that he has no intention of considering options other than repeal.

The groups’ letter says Pruitt “has departed egregiously from constitutional and statutory norms meant to protect the public’s ability meaningfully to participate in rulemakings and safeguard the integrity of the administrative process.”

“Pruitt was dancing on the grave of the Clean Power Plan before the rulemaking process had even begun,” said Vera Pardee, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s clear Pruitt is hell-bent on killing this crucial climate protection for his friends in the fossil fuel industry, no matter how many lives the rule would save.”

“Scott Pruitt is not fit to participate in any rulemaking process to withdraw the Clean Power Plan. His shrill and steadfast hostility to this critical climate safeguard, as well as his cozy ties to corporate polluters, make clear that he cannot be an impartial decision maker in these matters,” said Joanne Spalding, Deputy Legal Director and Chief Climate Counsel for Sierra Club. “The law therefore requires his recusal from EPA’s misbegotten effort to rescind the Clean Power Plan, and we call upon him to step aside immediately.”

Numerous states have also called on Pruitt to recuse himself from the Clean Power Plan repeal rulemaking and for the current proposal to be withdrawn.

WBEZ Worldview: Howard Learner discusses what cities can do to fight climate change

“New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio authorized a lawsuit against five major oil companies yesterday, hoping to recoup the costs imposed on the city by climate change. In 2012 New York’s streets and subways flooded during Hurricane Sandy, and rising sea levels have strained ocean infrastructure around the city.

‘Sandy taught us how destructive weather events exacerbated by climate change can be,’ a statement from de Blasio’s office said. The city is also divesting pension funds from the fossil fuel industry.

While climate change’s acute effects like rising sea levels aren’t as immediately threatening to Chicago, we’re going to see what the city can do to fight climate change with Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. We’ll also discuss President Trump’s statements yesterday on U.S. dependence on fossil fuels.”

Click Here to listen to the full segment. 

OpEd Des Moines Register: Iowa Cities Can Drive Climate Action with Paris Accord in Flux

Iowa Cities can Drive Climate Action with Paris Accord in Flux
by Howard A. Learner

While President Trump steps back from climate reality by withdrawing the United States from the landmark Paris Climate Accord, mayors in Iowa and across our country are stepping up to fill the void.

The recent North American Climate Summit brought together 50-plus mayors to sign the Chicago Climate Charter, committing to take initiatives to help meet the Paris Climate Agreement’s pollution reduction goals.

Now is the time for these municipal declarations of support to become real solutions to climate change problems. In short, take effective actions to reduce carbon pollution in ways that achieve environmental and economic development goals together.

Des Moines, Dubuque, Fairfield, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and other municipalities have pledged to seize opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. Growing local solar energy, storage and energy efficiency creates jobs, saves money, attracts investment and avoids carbon pollution. Local energy production keeps energy dollars in our communities, instead of paying to import electricity generated by coal, gas and uranium. Clean electric vehicles and buses in municipal fleets reduce fuel and maintenance costs, and avoid pollution. Improving energy efficiency in city buildings saves taxpayer money, reduces pollution and lessens maintenance costs.

The Environmental Law & Policy Center is proud that many Iowa cities are saying they want to be part of global climate change solutions. We will work with cities to adopt high-value actions to reduce carbon pollution in ways that are tailored to Iowans and set strong goals. Here are three ways that Iowa cities can transform their public commitments into meaningful climate actions:

Achieve 100 percent renewable energy for municipal electricity needs by 2022: Iowa is a wind power champion, and solar energy and energy storage capacity are accelerating as prices fall while technologies improve. Iowa cities can achieve 100 percent renewable energy by using locally produced wind power and solar energy plus storage, purchasing clean renewable energy from third parties, and securing renewable energy credits from new wind and solar projects.

Clean up municipal fleets: All new purchases should be electric vehicles (except in special cases). Our nation’s transportation sector now produces more greenhouse gas pollution than the electric power sector, which is finally moving on a cleaner path. Iowa cities should buy electric vehicles (EV) or other zero-emission vehicles for non-emergency fleets. Cities can create demand to drive the EV market forward while reducing pollution. EVs have fewer moving parts and lower maintenance costs than internal combustion engine vehicles. EV operating costs are lower and more predictable. Using wind and solar energy to power EV charging stations accelerates a cleaner transportation system.

Rapidly improve municipal building energy efficiency: Smart energy efficiency investments produce cost savings and less pollution. Why wait? Many payback periods are short and the savings come fast. Replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs is a no-brainer cost-saver and pollution-reducer. Antiquated HVAC systems and old appliances waste money and allow more pollution. Smart energy efficiency products, technologies and controls are available. The time has never been better for cities to reduce their energy bills and cut pollution through energy efficiency improvements.

Iowa cities are leading by saying that they’ll step up with climate actions. The hard and most important work now comes next: transforming these declarations and sincere aspirations into real actions that reduce carbon pollution.

Cities can seize climate action opportunities by moving forward with these three specific initiatives for clean energy, clean transportation and energy efficiency that will produce significant pollution reduction results. Let’s work together to turn words into deeds, achieve economic and environmental benefits together, and help advance the Paris Climate Accord goals.

READ MORE

 

Howard Learner in Lansing State Journal: Michigan Cities Can Lead on Climate

December 17, 2017

Michigan Cities Can Be Agents Of Change On Climate

By Howard A. Learner

While President Trump stepped back by withdrawing the United States from the landmark Paris Climate Accord, mayors in Michigan and across our country have committed to step up and fill the void. Now is the time for these municipal declarations of support for the Paris Accord to become real solutions to climate change problems. In short, take effective actions to reduce carbon pollution in ways that achieve environmental and economic development goals together.

Ann Arbor, Detroit, East Lansing, Flint, Grand Rapids and other Michigan municipalities have pledged to fill the void left by President Trump and seize opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.  Growing local solar energy, storage and energy efficiency creates jobs, saves money, attracts investment and avoids carbon pollution. Local energy production keeps energy dollars in our communities, instead of paying to import electricity generated by coal, gas and uranium. Clean electric vehicles and buses in municipal fleets reduce fuel and maintenance costs, and avoid pollution. Improving energy efficiency in city buildings saves taxpayer money, reduces pollution and lessens maintenance costs.

The Environmental Law & Policy Center is proud that many Michigan cities are saying they want to be part of global climate change solutions.  We will work with cities to adopt high-value actions to reduce carbon pollution in ways that are tailored to Michigan and set strong goals. Here are three ways that all of our cities can transform their public commitments into meaningful climate actions:

  • Achieve 100 Percent Renewable Energy for Municipal Electricity Needs by 2022. The Midwest has abundant wind power, and solar energy and energy storage capacity are accelerating as prices fall while technologies improve. Michigan cities can achieve 100 percent renewable energy by using locally produced solar energy plus storage and wind power, purchasing clean renewable energy from third parties, and securing renewable energy credits from new wind and solar projects.
  • Clean Up Municipal Fleets – All New Purchases Should Be Electric Vehicles (except in special cases).  Michigan has always driven our transportation sector and can help lead in reducing greenhouse gas pollution from cars and trucks.  Michigan cities should buy electric vehicles (EV) or other zero-emission vehicles for non-emergency fleets.  Cities can create demand to drive the EV market forward while reducing pollution. EVs have fewer moving parts and lower maintenance costs than internal combustion engine vehicles. EV operating costs are lower and more predictable. Using wind and solar energy to power EV charging stations accelerates a cleaner transportation system.  Ann Arbor has joined 29 other cities to jointly explore purchasing 114,000 EVs.
  • Rapidly Improve Municipal Building Energy Efficiency. Smart energy efficiency investments produce cost savings and less pollution. Why wait – many payback periods are short and the savings come fast.  Replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs is a no-brainer cost-saver and pollution-reducer.  Antiquated HVAC systems and old appliances waste money and allow more pollution. Smart energy efficiency products, technologies and controls are available. The time has never been better for cities to reduce their energy bills and cut pollution through energy efficiency improvements.

Michigan cities are leading by saying that they’ll step up with climate actions while President Trump moves backward and isolates our nation from global solutions. Cities can seize climate action opportunities by moving forward with these three specific initiatives for clean energy, clean transportation and energy efficiency that will produce significant pollution reduction results. Let’s work together to turn words into deeds, achieve economic and environmental benefits together, and help advance the Paris Climate Accord goals.

Howard Learner is the executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, the Midwest’s leading environmental progress and economic development organization.

http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/opinion/contributors/viewpoints/2017/12/17/learner-michigan-cities-can-agents-change-climate/955768001/

Howard’s Crain’s Chicago Op-Ed: Chicago Can Lead the Climate Change Fight

December 08, 2017

OPINION

4 Ways Chicago Can Lead the Climate Change Fight

By: HOWARD A. LEARNER

President Donald Trump has walked away from climate change reality. But, fortunately for all of us, American cities like Chicago are stepping up. The recent North American Climate Summit here brought together 50-plus mayors to sign the Chicago Climate Charter, committing to take initiatives to help meet the Paris Climate Agreement’s pollution reduction goals.

As former President Barack Obama said at the event, cities, states, businesses and nonprofits have emerged as the new face of American leadership on climate change. Chicago’s climate action plan calls for reducing greenhouse gas pollution by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, and new clean technologies provide even more opportunities for progress.

But the hard and most important work comes next: transforming these declarations and sincere aspirations into real actions that reduce carbon pollution in ways that achieve environmental and economic development together. Sooner, not later.

At the summit, Chicago shined brightly under Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s leadership. Here are four ways that Chicago can advance its leadership and transform its public commitments into meaningful and measurable climate actions that benefit all Chicagoans, join with other large cities and set a model for small and midsize cities to replicate.

First, the city of Chicago should procure 100 percent renewable energy for municipal electricity needs by 2022, not wait until 2025. The Midwest has abundant wind power, and solar energy and energy storage capacity is accelerating as prices fall while technologies improve. Chicago and other Illinois cities can work together on coordinated purchases from new Illinois clean renewable projects. Both our environment and Illinois’ 450-plus clean energy supply chain businesses should benefit.

Second, clean up municipal fleets. All new purchases should be electric vehicles except in special cases. Our nation’s transportation sector now produces more carbon pollution than the electric power sector. Cities can create demand to drive the EV market forward while reducing pollution. EVs have fewer moving parts and lower operating maintenance costs than internal combustion engine vehicles. Using wind and solar energy to power EV charging stations accelerates a cleaner transportation system. Chicago and 29 other cities are exploring joint EV procurement. Let’s clean up CTA buses and Illinois school buses, too. Chicago’s on the path—do it now.

Third, use cleaner fuels for existing diesel trucks and buses. At the summit, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee touted how the city and county fleets have switched to renewable biodiesel fuel to reduce carbon pollution. Cleaner fuels warrant a serious look here. Let’s tap the expertise of Chicago’s universities, national labs and engineering firms. These are big pollution savings opportunities for Chicago and other Midwest cities.

Fourth, energy efficiency is the best, fastest and cheapest climate change solution. The Retrofit Chicago program, which focuses on improving buildings’ efficiency, won a C40 Cities Bloomberg award at the summit. (Home court advantage acknowledged.) Let’s accelerate and max out. Why wait? The time has never been better for cities to reduce their energy bills and cut pollution through energy efficiency improvements. What’s more, efficiency creates installation jobs, produces cost savings, keeps money in our neighborhoods and avoids pollution.

What’s the time frame? Soon—climate change is taking its toll with more extreme weather events. Let’s implement these municipal declarations through rapid effective actions to reduce carbon pollution in ways that achieve environmental and economic development goals together. And let’s work together to turn words into tangible actions, accelerate measurable progress and help advance the Paris Climate Agreement goals. Chicago and partner cities can lead while Trump lags.

 Howard A. Learner is president and executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

 

WVIK (NPR) INDIANA: ELPC’s Janet McCabe Part of Indiana Climate Leadership Summit

WVIK 90.3 FM  Indiana (NPR)

Public Officials, Environmental Advocates Talk Climate Change

By Nick Janzen

Mayors and public officials from 18 Indiana communities, as well as environmental advocates, business leaders, and young people met in Indianapolis Wednesday to talk about ways Indiana can adapt to impacts from climate change at the second annual Climate Leadership Summit.

Jim Poyser, the executive director of Earth Charter Indiana and the event’s organizer, says he sees bipartisan support on the local level for action on climate change.

“Now, that makes me happy, because I’m tired of thinking about party. I’m tired of wondering what somebody’s ideology is,” says Poyser.

Poyser says since the first Climate Leadership Summit last year, three Indiana towns have passed youth-led climate resolutions: Carmel and Lawrence, which have Republican mayors, and Indianapolis.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett says how well cities prepare for climate change will determine their future success.

“We are not exempt from the impacts our changing climate bring,” Hogsett says. “No one is.”

Scientists from Purdue and Indiana Universities said during presentations that those impacts include the number of days Indiana experiences above 90 degrees jumping from 20 to 74 by 2050; and that the Indiana climate could look more similar to that of east Texas by 2070.

Sixteen-year-old Cora Gordon helped pass the Indianapolis climate resolution, which calls for carbon neutrality in the city by 2050. She says the climate resolutions adopted around the state are a message directly from Hoosiers.

“Once we go up higher, once we talk to state people and show them that all these cities have passed climate resolutions, what the people of the state want, it’s what the people of the country want, and so I think that’s definitely something that politicians should keep in mind,” Gordon says.

Logansport Mayor Dave Kitchell says unlike Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, many small communities in Indiana don’t have the resources to invest in big, climate-friendly projects.

“We’re the crossroads of America,” Kitchell says. “But until we’re going to be the crossroads of fiscal sustainability and climate sustainability, we’re not going to convince the majority of the people in this state that this is what we have to do.”

Janet McCabe, a senior law fellow at the Environmental Law and Policy Center and a former Environmental Protection Agency assistant administrator under President Barack Obama, says clean energy and energy efficiency are two areas where municipalities can get the most bang for their buck on climate investments.

“It makes your houses more comfortable, it increases their value, it creates local job opportunities that can’t be imported,” she says.

READ MORE

Huffington Post: Howard Learner on FEMA Funding in Wake of Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey Should Be A Wake-Up Call To Trump’s Disaster Relief Budget
By Howard Learner

August 27, 2017

While President Trump declared Texas an emergency disaster area from the Hurricane Harvey impacts, the Trump Administration’s FY 2018 budget blueprint for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is “penny wise and pound foolish”:

· Cuts $667 million from FEMA state and local grant funding for programs that include disaster preparedness and response. For example: The Homeland Security Grant Program “plays an important role in the implementation of the National Preparedness System by supporting the building, sustainment, and delivery of core capabilities essential to achieving the National Preparedness Goal of a secure and resilient Nation.”

· Cuts about $90 million from FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program funding to local communities. In other words, reducing funding for prevention and resilience actions that can mitigate harms to people and property to better withstand the impact of hurricanes and coastal storms. And save money by preventing more damages later. This program is authorized under Section 203 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act in order to “reduce overall risk to the population and structures from future hazard events, while also reducing reliance on Federal funding in future disasters.”

· Eliminates all $190 million of funding for the National Flood Insurance Program’s Flood Hazard Mapping and Risk Analysis Program efforts to improve and redraw the nation’s flood maps to align with current topological and hydrological realities. That’s important for communities to better understand climate risks and take protective measures that reduce harms and save money in the future.

It’s been reported that out of all 50 states, Texas, California and Oklahoma have the most disaster declarations from FEMA. This is an area of strong potential bipartisan policy alignment, especially in the Midwest and Great Lakes states.

Let’s see whether the Congressional debates on funding for Texas disaster relief lead to some common sense budget solutions focused on better prevention and resilience actions and better disaster preparedness and relief for people and our communities.

READ HERE

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