Another Congressional Attack on Clean Air
By Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign
Why should you care about the Cross State Air Pollution Rule? Because it could save your life, or the life of someone you love. Congress is continuing its attacks on clean air this week, and the latest target in their crosshairs is the life-saving Cross State Air Pollution Rule.
This clean air safeguard would require 27 states in the eastern half of the U.S. to improve air quality by addressing dangerous pollution from coal-fired power plants that crosses state lines. It's an update of a system that has been in place in the eastern U.S. for decades and has successfully—and cost-effectively—cleaned up some of our worst sources of air pollution.
Unfortunately, some dirty coal plants have still not cleaned up, which is why these new protections are critical for improving our health. Coal utilities have known this update was coming for years, and they have had plenty of time to prepare.
Now Sen. Rand Paul is hoping to void this public health protection through a Congressional Review Act resolution (S.J. Res. 27), a fancy piece of Congressional maneuvering that would stop these much-needed, common-sense protections in their tracks. It's likely to come up for a vote Nov. 10.
The Cross State safeguard is estimated to provide $120 to $280 billion in annual benefits for the U.S., and is forecast to prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 nonfatal heart attacks and 400,000 cases of aggravated asthma every year.
We don't have to choose between public health and jobs. That's a false choice, as the White House pointed out Nov. 8 in their blog about this emerging threat.
The excuses of the Cross State Air Pollution Rule opponents are nothing more than thinly-veiled attempts to hide their intentions of sacrificing public and environmental health in the name of enriching and protecting generous corporate polluters. Thankfully, President Barack Obama has said he will veto this measure if it reaches his desk. (PDF)
Sen. Paul's resolution would pick winners and losers among utility companies—those that have spent money to clean up pollution while this protection was in the making would lose out, while those that disregarded forthcoming laws and kept polluting would win.
Sen. Paul's resolution would be disastrous for our health, our air and the economy. The Cross State Air Pollution Rule is a much needed, long-overdue safeguard and any attempt to block or delay implementation should be opposed.
Congress needs to get out of the way and let the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) do its job. This week EPA also sent its planned mercury and carbon pollution safeguards to the Office of Management and Budget for final approval.
The EPA and Administrator Lisa Jackson are trying to protect our health and the environment. Americans want clean air and water. These new protections will save money and save lives. So why does Congress keep trying to block public health safeguards?
Contact your senator and tell her/him to defend the Cross State Air Pollution Rule.
For more information, click here.
A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
More long-finned pilot whales were found stranded today on beaches in Tasmania, Australia. About 500 whales have become stranded, including at least 380 that have died, the AP reported. It is the largest mass stranding in Australia's recorded history.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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