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EPA Report: Vehicle C02 Emissions Are at a Record Low
For new cars and trucks released in 2017, carbon dioxide emissions reached a record low, and mileage per gallon reached an all time high, according an U.S. Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) report released Wednesday.
The findings are leading many environmental advocates to ask, if Obama-era fuel economy standards seem to be working, why roll them back, as Trump's EPA has proposed?
"The EPA's report demonstrates that standards are working to bring us cleaner, more efficient cars," Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Clean Vehicles and Fuels Group Director Luke Tonachel wrote. "There's no reason to turn back. The Trump administration's plan to rollback the standards will cost Americans more at the pump and make us all suffer from increased vehicle pollution. We should keep the current strong standards and look forward to more positive progress reports in the future."
The EPA data shows that the average real world carbon dioxide emissions rate for new vehicles released in model year 2017 fell by 3 grams per mile (g/mi) to a record low of 357 g/mi. Fuel efficiency climbed 0.2 miles per gallon (mpg) to 24.9. Since 2004, both fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions have improved in 11 out of 13 years.
Manufacturers expect to do even better in 2018, lowering emissions to 348 g/mi and raising fuel economy to 25.4 mpg.
Estimated emissions and fuel economy for model years since 1975. 2018 projections are shown with the red dots.EPA
The EPA's data also acknowledged that both fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions had improved significantly since tougher standards were put in place in 2012. In that five year period, the industry lowered emissions by 21 g/mi and improved fuel economy by 1.3 mpg. That amounts to saving customers more than $65 billion in gas money and keeping 325 million metric tons of climate-change causing carbon out of the atmosphere, NRDC reported.
EPA data also shows how individual manufacturers performed in that five year period. Subaru led the industry in reducing emissions and improving fuel efficiency over the entire five years, while Honda performed the best in most metrics in 2017.
How major car makers performed in terms of reducing emissions and improving fuel economy from 2012 to 2017EPA
Despite the apparent success of fuel efficiency standards, newly-confirmed EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler still used the report to justify his plans to lower them. That is because most manufacturers used credits from over-complying in previous years, along with technological innovation, to comply with standards in 2017.
"Today's report shows that while the auto industry continues to increase fuel economy, there are legitimate concerns about the ability to cost-effectively achieve the Obama administration's standards in the near future," Wheeler said in a news release reported by Bloomberg.
Automakers will be entering the 2018 model year with more than 249 million metric tons (MMT) of CO2 credits, thanks to doing better than required in previous years. While they've had to use some of these credits again this year, the industry used less than last year (18 MMT worth vs 30 MMT). That's because automakers improved their fleets in 2017 at a rate greater than required, which helps illustrate the year-to-year variance in model updates and the way in which banked credits are planned as apart of an overall compliance strategy.
To put that 249 MMT of banked credits in context, manufacturers could actually do absolutely nothing to improve the efficiency of their vehicles until 2020 and still continue to comply with the standards.
Both Cooke and Tonachel argued that lowering standards would hurt innovation. Cooke said that the report showed that most companies had only invested in a few of the possible technologies to improve their fuel efficiency, indicating that there was ample room for improvement. If fuel efficiency standards are maintained, gas-powered vehicles could reach an average of 36 mpg on by 2025 using existing technologies, Tonachel wrote.
"Rolling back the standards will only disrupt innovation and leave drivers with higher fuel bills," he said.
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Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.
The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.