Given his appointment of Scott Pruitt as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – a man with a long history of challenging health-based environmental regulations in court – President Trump’s Energy Independence Executive Order, released today, is not unexpected.
Cloaked in a patriotic narrative, President Trump’s executive order does more to threaten our nation’s energy independence than support it. Renewable energy has a critical role to play in strengthening our country’s energy independence, yet this executive order is aimed at weakening our ability to incorporate more clean energy resources into our national energy portfolio.
It also doubles down on the false claim that the coal industry can be saved by dialing back public health regulations. In truth, coal is being beaten in the free market by cheaper natural gas and cheap renewable energy.
Today’s executive order – coupled with the President’s recently proposed large budget cuts to the EPA and Department of Energy (DOE) clean energy, smart grid and storage technology research programs – makes it clear that this Administration is not serious about protecting our health, our climate or our national security.
On November 29th, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, you can join others around the country and encourage spending with a purpose. Be part of the movement to change the way we produce and consume energy in the Southeast by supporting the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
Today, the historic Paris Agreement, our first global agreement to limit carbon emissions and keep the global average temperature increase below 20C, officially became international law. Happy Friday, Earth!
192 countries signed the historic agreement, including the United States, agreeing to reduce carbon pollution at the 2015 gathering of countries engaged in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris. To date, 97 countries have formally joined the Paris accord, or ratified the agreement, with more countries expected to officially jump on board in the coming weeks and months.
Southeastern states may soon have an added incentive for developing energy efficiency and renewable energy resources that directly benefit low-income communities and utility customers. These potential new incentives come in the form of draft federal regulatory language, which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working to finalize as part of the entire rulemaking process for the Clean Power Plan (CPP).
This program, known as the Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP), is an early-action, voluntary piece of the larger CPP aimed at ensuring communities who suffered the negative effects of fossil-fuel energy generation and economically disadvantaged communities see real benefits from increased clean energy development. Although utilities, state agencies, industry, and the general public have all weighed in on pieces of the CEIP in previous CPP related comment period, the current EPA document open for comment will become the official design details for the CEIP. Comments can be sent directly to EPA (info on how to do that here) and are due by 11:59pm, Monday, August 29th.
Despite the setback delivered by the Supreme Court’s stay, action around the Clean Power Plan has not disappeared. Instead, the Environmental Protection Agency’s historic regulation is on the verge of another public input period and is also the focus of a recent Harvard study.
What’s more, EPA has a new proposal out and an upcoming public comment period related to the voluntary early-action piece of the Clean Power Plan, known as the Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP). After hearing from stakeholders during a previous public comment period that ended in mid-December 2015, EPA has made some significant changes to the proposed CEIP. Most importantly, EPA has expanded the range of projects eligible for CEIP participation to include solar projects implemented to serve low-income communities.
As hurricane season kicks off today along the Atlantic coast, it’s a good time to think about the connection between hurricanes and climate change. Just as we prepare for yet another hurricane season with basic emergency preparedness, we should also press for meaningful action on climate change to minimize future catastrophe.
If climate change deniers see it as a threat to their efforts to stymie climate action, then you know it’s a powerful tool. Clean Air Act Section 115 is the latest EPA statute targeted by those working to keep America from becoming a true leader in the global effort to reduce carbon emissions and stave off some of the worst impacts of climate change.
In early February 2016, Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa) introduced legislation that would repeal Section 115, but provides no basis, at least in the text of the bill, for why the Section is improper. In his accompanying statement, Rep. Perry makes the worn-out argument of EPA overreach as well as the seemingly baseless claim that any action under Section 115 would “threaten the reliability and viability of our nation’s energy sector.”
Section 115, previously enacted by Congress as part of the larger statute, gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to compel states to reduce air emissions that “contribute to health or welfare problems in other countries” as long as those countries are also enacting regulations to limit said air emissions.
The Clean Power Plan and the transition to the clean energy economy more broadly are creating immense opportunities for community engagement in helping shape our states’ energy futures. Environmental justice champion, Reverend Leo Woodberry, who we profiled in our Black History Month blog series last year, is therefore focusing on bringing people together to find common ground in acting on climate change.
America’s first regulation aimed at reigning in carbon pollution from our nation’s power sector may avoid some of the increasing politicization of our legal system in part due to the sudden and unexpected death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. A staunch conservative who sided more often with industry plaintiffs than with environmental advocates, Justice Scalia left a lasting legacy in environmental cases by offering strict interpretations for what constitutes “legal standing” and “harm.”
In today’s world of heightened political theatre, it’s hard to be surprised anymore. Yesterday, however, the Supreme Court surprised many by agreeing to stay implementation of the Clean Power Plan before the review by the federal appeals court on the merits of the case.
The Supreme Court’s decision comes after a January 21st decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to deny the request for a stay by the coal industry and coal-dependent states. What’s most surprising is that the Supreme Court has never before halted implementation and compliance efforts for a regulation that is still awaiting review by a federal appeals court. Ultimately, the movement towards creating a cleaner electric generating sector will continue as utilities respond to market realities and customer demand for cheaper, cleaner energy sources.