Press Releases

Press Release: Five-year Anniversary of Fuel Economy & Pollution Reduction Standards Affirms Rules Still Sound and Sensible

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Five-year Anniversary of Fuel Economy and Pollution Reduction Standards Affirms Rules Still Sound and Sensible

Recent EPA announcement to re-open review of common sense pollution reduction standards could cost people more at the gas pump, increase pollution harming health, and reduce America’s technological innovation leadership and global competitiveness 

STATEMENT BY HOWARD A. LEARNER         

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ENVIRONMENTAL LAW & POLICY CENTER

Howard Learner, ELPC’s Executive Director, said in connection to the five-year anniversary of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation establishing joint fuel economy and pollution reduction standards for vehicle Model Years 2017-2025:

“Five years ago, the EPA and U.S. Department of Transportation issued fuel economy and pollution reduction standards for American automakers that are still sound and sensible today,” Learner said. “The standards EPA and DOT rolled out in 2012 ensure that America’s new cars and light trucks will use less oil and emit fewer greenhouse gases through 2025.

“Despite the success of Clean Car standards, the Trump administration is working to roll them back. Earlier this year, EPA determined its standards remained achievable and cost effective, but the agency has now taken the misguided step of reopening that review. DOT is also working to weaken its fuel efficiency standards. A rollback of the joint standards threaten to shift America into reverse and put U.S. car manufacturers behind in the global competition for cleaner, fuel efficient cars.

“Keeping the joint standards in place that were set five years ago will continue to drive innovation, maintain the American auto industry’s competitiveness, boost jobs in the Midwest, and save Americans money at the gas pump. Across the Midwest there are more than 150,000 jobs in 480 facilities engaged in making cleaner vehicles. Let’s keep the cleaner car job sector growing.”

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PRESS RELEASE: Trump’s Clean Power Plan Repeal & Replace Falls Flat

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:
Judith Nemes, ELPC | 312-795-3706 or JNemes@elpc.org
David Miller, Ohio Environmental Council | 614-487-7506 or dmiller@theoec.org
Jennifer Caddick, Alliance for the Great Lakes | 312-445-9760 or jcaddick@greatlakes.org

Midwest Environmentalists’ Statement: Trump’s Clean Power Plan Repeal & Replace Falls Flat
Clean Energy Economy Moving Forward, Climate Change Solutions Vital

STATEMENT BY HOWARD A. LEARNER, Executive Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center; HEATHER TAYLOR-MIESLE, Executive Director, The Ohio Environmental Council; and JOEL BRAMMEIER, President & CEO, Alliance for the Great Lakes.

Today U.S. EPA proposed to repeal and weaken the Clean Power Plan. This proposal, which will be filed in the Federal Register on Tuesday, would apparently limit the reductions that owners of old coal must make to actions strictly within the “fence line” of the plants. That would result in less pollution reductions and missed opportunities for progress. Below, find statements from Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC); Heather Taylor-Miesle, Executive Director, Ohio Environmental Council; and Joel Brammeier, President & CEO, Alliance for the Great Lakes.

Howard Learner, Executive Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center

“The Trump Administration’s climate action repeal and replace proposal is a public subsidy for old coal plants to emit more pollution. It misses sensible opportunities to boost clean energy and avoid pollution in ways that make economic sense.

“The economics of avoiding carbon pollution through wind power, solar energy and energy efficiency are stronger than ever. Clean energy technology is advancing and moving forward.

“Across the Midwest, ELPC is working with local stakeholders to help create jobs generating clean power while cutting carbon pollution, improve air and water quality, and protect public health and defend the Great Lakes from the growing threats of climate change.

“It’s time for Midwest governors and mayors act and accelerate real climate change solutions. The benefits of the clean, modern economy are too good to pass up and too important to delay even as the Trump Administration bypasses the economic benefits of the clean energy future.”

 

Heather Taylor-Miesle, Executive Director, Ohio Environmental Council

“With the decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan, the Trump Administration just put the health, safety, and security of all Americans at risk from worsening air pollution as a result of climate change. Keeping the Clean Power Plan makes sense for the environment and the economy. President Trump’s short-sighted decision means we will lose out on a $2.1 billion GDP increase and 20,000 jobs in Ohio.

“This brazen decision to dismantle our first and only federal limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants will result in dirtier air in Ohio, putting our children’s health at risk. With Lake Erie currently covered by a toxic algae bloom the size of 250,000 football fields, we don’t need our efforts to protect the health of Ohioans undermined by the Trump Administration.

“Refusing to address climate change is not an option. Storms are getting worse. Temperatures are on the rise. Algal blooms on Lake Erie and the Ohio River are getting larger. Rolling back the Clean Power Plan is the wrong decision. Now is the time for real solutions to this very real threat.”

 

Joel Brammeier, President & CEO, Alliance for the Great Lakes

“Climate change is making bad Great Lakes problems worse every day. A warming planet means more green slime and toxic algae in our lakes, more extreme storms that flood sewers and damage people’s property, and more habitat for pernicious invasive species. Cleaner energy is a critical contributor to leaving our Great Lakes protected for generations to come.”

Press Release: Senate Bill on Autonomous Vehicles Wisely Includes Study of Transportation Infrastructure & Environmental Impacts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 4, 2017

 

Senate Bill on Autonomous Vehicles Wisely Includes Study of Transportation Infrastructure & Environmental Impacts

ELPC commends leadership of Senators Duckworth and Schatz for co-sponsoring study amendment to bill 

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee today adopted an amendment on safety standards for autonomous vehicles that requires the U.S. Department of Transportation to conduct a much-needed study on how autonomous vehicles will impact transportation infrastructure and the environment.  Senators Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Brian Schatz of Hawaii co-sponsored the amendment.

“Let’s better understand how driverless vehicles can be designed and deployed to help solve highway congestion and air pollution problems, and guide policy actions,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Chicago-based nonprofit.  “The Environmental Law & Policy Center commends Senators Duckworth and Schatz for their leadership on the amendment providing for a thorough study of the impacts of autonomous vehicles on our transportation, environment and energy systems.”

“I’m proud the Senate Commerce Committee unanimously passed our amendment to educate the public about how self-driving vehicles will impact traffic congestion, pollution levels and the environment,” said Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL). “This legislation will help pave the way for safer, smarter, more efficient transportation systems in America.”

“A U.S. Department of Transportation study will soon begin to address the broad array of policy challenges and opportunities presented by autonomous vehicles,” said Learner.

The study will include a broad look at how autonomous vehicles will impact a wide range of issues including the transportation infrastructure, the environment, energy needs, congestion, vehicle miles traveled and land use. The amendment calls for launching the study within 60 days of the bill’s passage into law.

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Senate Bill to Safely Test Autonomous Vehicles: Vital First Step to Adoption

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Judith Nemes

Senate Bill to Safely Test Autonomous Vehicles: Vital First Step to Adoption
ELPC calling for study to explore impact on roads, public transportation, land use and the environment

Statement by Howard A. Learner

Executive Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center

Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, said in response to a U.S. Senate bill introduced to develop safety standards and testing for automated vehicles:

“Testing autonomous vehicles for safety is a vital first step,” said Learner. “Self-driving vehicle technology will be transformative and that requires a smart implementation strategy beyond just safety considerations.

“ELPC believes a comprehensive study is needed to analyze how the deployment of autonomous vehicles will impact our highways, urban streets, public transportation, land use, energy consumption and the environment. We need to be looking ahead so money isn’t spent on infrastructure that isn’t needed or fixing problems that could be avoided.

“Understanding and addressing these issues now can advance a better and smarter deployment of self-driving vehicles that fulfill the vision for this technology.”

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Press Release: ELPC Commends Full Funding for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEPTEMBER 14, 2017

ELPC Commends Full Funding for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative 

House Rejects Trump Administration’s Zeroing Out FY 2018 Budget for this Successful Program 

 

STATEMENT BY HOWARD A. LEARNER

Executive Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center

 

CHICAGO – Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, said in response to the U.S. House of Representatives’ approval of full funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) as part of the fiscal year 2018 budget:

“The Environmental Law & Policy Center commends the bipartisan legislators who worked together to reject the Trump Administration’s cuts and provide full funding of $300 million for the successful Great Lakes Restoration Initiative,” Learner said. “This program has supported more than 3,000 sensible projects to protect and restore the Great Lakes since 2011. That’s great value for all of us who live, work and play in the Great Lakes. We urge the U.S. Senate to include full funding as it considers the budget.”

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Press Release: AEP Ohio Settlement Plan Includes $10 Million Electric Vehicle Charging Station Rebate Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                              

August 28, 2017                                                                                         

                                                                                            

 

 AEP Ohio Settlement Plan includes $10 Million Electric Vehicle Charging Station Rebate Program 

ELPC and other enviro groups say program could boost EV car sales, encourage more U.S. investment in electric car technologies and reduce charging rates 

Columbus, Ohio — AEP Ohio late Friday filed a settlement plan with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio that includes a $10 million electric vehicle charging station rebate program that will strengthen the charging infrastructure needed to get more EVs on the road.

“Installing hundreds of charging stations through the settlement plan has the potential to put Columbus on the map as a leader in bringing more electric vehicles to the Midwest,” said Robert Kelter, Senior Attorney with the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “Getting more electric vehicles on the road will reduce air pollution, encourage American companies to invest more in EV technologies, and reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels.”

AEP Ohio will create and operate the rebate incentive program, which will cover costs for up to 300 Level 2 charging stations and 75 DC Fast charging stations. This program supports the Smart Columbus Initiative.

“This settlement is great news and a great opportunity for everyone in AEP’s service territory,” Clean Fuels Ohio Executive Director Sam Spofforth said.  “This is a strong first step but it’s only a first step.  This program will provide everyone, including the PUCO, the opportunity to see what works here in Ohio.

At least 10% of both the Level 2 and DC Fast charging stations will be set aside for low-income geographic areas. In addition, charging stations will be allocated to public locations, workplace charging, and multi-unit dwellings.

The settlement plan calls for three or more hardware and software charging station companies to participate in the program.

“We hope having more charging station companies in the program will jumpstart competition and lead to a competitive market where charging prices are driven down,” said ELPC’s Kelter.

AEP filed this case to extend its current “Electric Security Plan” for providing service to Ohio customers through 2024. The plan could be approved by late 2017 or early 2018.

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PRESS RELEASE: EPA Re-Opening Vehicle Pollution Reduction Standards’ Midterm Review Is Misguided & Wastes Taxpayer Money

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Judith Nemes

EPA Re-Opening Vehicle Pollution Reduction Standards’ Midterm Review Is Misguided & Wastes Taxpayer Money
Repeat review of common sense pollution reduction standards could cost people more at the gas pump, increase pollution harming health, and reduce America’s technological innovation leadership and global competitiveness

Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, said in response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement that it will reopen the midterm review process for the pollution reduction standards that the agency established for vehicle Model Years 2022-2025 in coordination with U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) fuel economy standards:

“The EPA’s misguided decision to reopen the review process is shifting America into reverse and threatens to put U.S. automakers behind in the global competition for cleaner, fuel efficient cars,” Learner said. “The standards EPA and DOT issued in 2012 ensure that America’s cars and light trucks will use less oil and emit fewer greenhouse gases through 2025.

“The EPA’s assessment found that cost-effective technology exists for U.S. automakers to hit the 2025 targets. Keeping the standards will continue to drive innovation, maintain the American auto industry’s competitiveness, and save Americans money at the gas pump.

“If fully implemented, the EPA and DOT’s standards 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. EPA is now threatening to reverse progress.  That moves our nation backwards instead of forwards. That rollback would boost dependence on oil, increase pollution, require more trips to the gas pump and take money away from millions of American families and small businesses.

“The completed review involved a long and thorough process that engaged all stakeholders. Instead of redoing the review process, EPA should confirm the work it completed in 2017 and move forward with DOT to ensure that standards stay strong through 2025. Taxpayer money would be better spent focusing on ensuring continued progress beyond 2025.”

PRESS RELEASE: ELPC Calls for Structural Actions Now to Stop Threat of Asian Carp in the Great Lakes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Judith Nemes

ELPC Calls for Structural Actions Now to Stop Threat of Asian Carp in the Great Lakes
U.S. Army Corps’ Asian carp long-delayed report must be followed with swift structural measures

ELPC Executive Director Howard Learner said in response to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ release of its Brandon Road Lock & Dam report on recommendations to protect the Great Lakes from the Asian carp threat:

“The Army Corps report makes clear that it’s time for serious preventative actions to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes,” said Learner. “The ecological and economic costs of further delays are not sensible or acceptable. Serious people need to take serious action to address this serious problem.

“The federal government must move quickly to build stronger control points in the Chicago Area Waterway System to keep the Asian carp from entering our Great Lakes. The Asian carp have no natural predators in the Great Lakes and will disrupt the $62 billion economy based on fishing, boating and recreational activities.

”We cannot let the Trump Administration’s War on the Great Lakes involve insufficient actions to prevent the Asian carp from threatening our fresh water system. We commend the bipartisan Congressional supporters for advancing actions necessary to prevent Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes that 42 million people rely upon for safe clean drinking water.”

Press Release: Smart Thermostat program Features Record Rebate to Help Consumers Cut Cooling Costs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 25, 2017

Contact: David Jakubiak

CONSUMER ALERT: YOU COULD BE WASTING MONEY COOLING AN EMPTY HOME
SMART THERMOSTAT PROGRAM FEATURES RECORD REBATE TO HELP CONSUMERS CUT COOLING COSTS BY 10-20%

CHICAGO (July 25, 2017) – Amid the hottest time of the year, consumer advocates joined with Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) and the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) Tuesday to make Chicago-area consumers aware that cooling an empty home, while they are away at work or on vacation, can cause summer energy bills to soar.

Smart thermostats provide the easy solution to high seasonal bills, and this summer, northern Illinois consumers can take advantage of unprecedented rebates as part of one of the largest thermostat rebate programs in the country.

The “One Million Smart Thermostats” initiative, launched in October 2015, is a partnership between the utilities and the advocacy groups Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) and Citizens Utility Board (CUB). Under this initiative, smart thermostats are eligible for up to $150 in rebates offered by ComEd and other Illinois gas utilities for customers with WiFi, central air and a furnace. The rebates can help cut the cost of some of these smart devices by more than 50 percent and give more control to northern Illinois consumers to save money by reducing wasteful energy use.

The goal of the program this year is to double the adoption to 100,000 smart thermostats in households across Illinois. To help create awareness and boost adoption, ComEd has launched an educational campaign and a new instant discount option for customers.

“ComEd’s smart thermostat rebate initiative is one of the largest and most active programs in the nation, reducing up-front costs for our customers on a product that gives them more control and even greater savings over time.  With just a few taps on a smart thermostat app, customers can manage their household temperature while away from home avoiding unnecessary energy use and costs,” said ComEd President & CEO Anne Pramaggiore.

Smart thermostats are WiFi-enabled devices that allow residents to easily control the heating and air conditioning settings through their smartphones, tablets, and computers.  The technology is smart because it learns or adapts to user behavior over time and can generate energy savings with very little effort. Residents remain comfortable when home and save money on heating and cooling energy costs while away at work or on vacation.

“Smart thermostats do the work for you – they adjust the temperature automatically when you’re not home,” said Rob Kelter, senior attorney for ELPC. “We want even more customers to take advantage of the great technological innovation of smart thermostats and keep more money in their pockets.”

CUB Executive Director David Kolata said smart thermostats can help consumers cut their cooling costs by an estimated 10 to 20 percent. “Smart thermostats prove just how easy and effective energy efficiency can be,” Kolata said. “The savings from these easy-to-use devices could be substantial—potentially cutting northern Illinois electric bills by millions of dollars. We urge ComEd customers to take advantage of the unprecedented discounts – available online and in stores- to buy a smart thermostat this summer.”

“The best way for consumers to control their electric bills, and help the environment, is to reduce consumption,” said Brien J. Sheahan, Chairman of the ICC. “Smart thermostats give consumers greater control of, and visibility into, their energy use which promotes conservation and helps save money.”

To make it easier for customers to redeem rebates, ComEd launched a new website, ComEdMarketplace.com, where customers can shop for smart thermostats and other top-rated energy products and take advantage of online instant rebates that reduce purchase costs.

ComEd officials said the smart thermostat program is part of one of the nation’s best-performing energy efficiency programs, saving consumers some $2.5 billion. The ComEd Energy Efficiency Program is about to get even better, thanks to the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), a bipartisan bill that passed the Illinois General Assembly late in 2016 and was signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

In June, ComEd filed with the ICC a new Energy Efficiency Program, under FEJA. The law will double customer savings and reduce electricity use in Illinois by 21 percent by 2030.

 

 

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About ComEd

Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), the nation’s leading competitive energy provider, with approximately 10 million customers. ComEd provides service to approximately 3.9 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population. For more information visit ComEd.com, and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube

About ELPC

The Environmental Law & Policy Center is the Midwest’s leading public interest environmental legal advocacy and eco-business innovation organization. We develop and lead successful strategic advocacy campaigns to improve environmental quality and protect our natural resources. We are public interest environmental entrepreneurs who engage in creative business deal making with diverse interests to put into practice our belief that environmental progress and economic development can be achieved together. 

About Citizen’s Utility Board

Created by the Illinois Legislature, CUB opened its doors in 1984 to represent the interests of residential and small-business utility customers. Since then, the nonprofit utility watchdog group has saved consumers more than $20 billion by helping to block rate hikes and secure refunds. For more details, call CUB’s Consumer Hotline, 1-800-669-5556, or visit CUB’s award-winning website, www.CitizensUtilityBoard.org

About ecobee

ecobee Inc. introduced the world’s first smart wi-fi smart thermostat to help millions of customers save money, conserve energy and seamlessly bring home automation into their lives. The company’s first flagship consumer device – ecobee3 – introduced pioneering room sensor technology to deliver comfort in the rooms that matter most, leading it to become a top-selling smart thermostat on the market and achieve a No. 1 ranking on Navigant’s Smart Thermostat Leaderboard. Learn more about ecobee and its smart home technologies at www.ecobee.com.

About Nest

Nest’s mission is to create a home that’s thoughtful – one that takes care of the people inside it and the world around it. The company focuses on simple, beautiful and delightful hardware, software and services. The Nest Learning Thermostat™ and Nest Energy Services keep you comfortable and address home energy consumption. The Nest Protect™ smoke and carbon monoxide alarm helps keep you safe and Nest Safety Rewards lets you save money through participating home insurance providers, while Nest Cam™ keeps an eye on what matters most inside and outside your home. For more information, visit www.nest.com.

PRESS RELEASE: Environmental Groups Sue EPA for Rubber-stamping Ohio EPA’s Refusal to Call Open Waters of Lake Erie “Impaired”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                          Contact: Judith Nemes

July 18, 2017                                                                                                                                                                               

 Environmental Groups Sue EPA for Rubber-stamping Ohio EPA’s Refusal to Call Open Waters of Lake Erie “Impaired”

 ELPC warns nutrient pollution reduction won’t occur without comprehensive approach to algal bloom problem

Toledo, OH – Today, the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) and co-plaintiffs Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie (ACLE), Susan Matz, and Michael Ferner sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a federal court in Ohio to challenge its decision to approve Ohio EPA’s refusal to assess whether the open waters of Lake Erie are “impaired” under the Clean Water Act.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in Toledo against the EPA, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, and Acting Regional Administrator Robert Kaplan. The environmental groups charge the open waters of Lake Erie should be designated impaired under the Clean Water Act because harmful algal blooms that form there most years are preventing those waters from meeting basic state water quality standards.

Meanwhile, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has already designated the entire neighboring portion of Lake Erie within its boundaries as “impaired” by the same algal blooms.

“U.S. EPA illegally gave Ohio a pass on its obligation to recognize that harmful algal blooms are impacting more than just a few limited areas of Lake Erie,” said Madeline Fleisher, ELPC’s staff attorney in Columbus, Ohio. “The impairment designation is a key first step in the Clean Water Act’s process for addressing serious water quality issues. Without the impairment designation, Ohio is likely to continue relying on unenforceable, voluntary measures to reduce phosphorus pollution that won’t do enough to fix the problem.”

Ohio EPA recognized that algal bloom problems are impairing Lake Erie’s shoreline and areas which are used as a source of public drinking water. However, the agency refused to address the algal blooms’ effects on the full extent of the lake’s waters even though it’s a single water body.

The blooms can produce toxins that make people and pets seriously ill when ingested, and can also harm aquatic species by poisoning water or using up oxygen to create “dead zones” in the lake. The algal blooms are caused by phosphorus pollution that primarily comes from manure and fertilizer running off of agricultural land.

“The lake isn’t ‘sort of’ impaired in a couple places — it’s impaired throughout the western basin,” said Mike Ferner, ACLE coordinator. “Public officials need to acknowledge it will take mandatory steps to get Lake Erie back to health. Toledo spent tens of millions of dollars on chemicals and new facilities to decontaminate our drinking water after hundreds of factory farms in the watershed use it as their toilet.”

Earlier this year, Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Administration released an action plan for reducing nutrient pollution in Lake Erie, which contributes to toxic algae blooms that can endanger drinking water and make it unsafe for recreation. The plan was criticized for proposing very little action beyond voluntary measures that aren’t enough to achieve Ohio’s 40% phosphorus reduction commitment under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement intended to clean up the Great Lakes.

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