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By Ilissa Ocko
The world's oceans are heating up. Scientists have found that 2018 was the hottest year ever recorded for our oceans, and that they are warming even faster than previously thought.
When documenting global warming trends, we often focus on air temperature. But the oceans actually absorb more than 90 percent of the excess heat trapped by human emissions of greenhouse gases. So if we really want to know how much our planet is warming up, we look to the oceans.
Walmart Joins Ranks of Retailers Pulling Toxic Paint Strippers From Shelves – When Will EPA Follow Suit?
By Sarah Vogel
Monday, Walmart announced that it will stop selling paint strippers containing methylene chloride or N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP) in stores by February 2019—making it the first general merchandise retailer to take such action. Walmart's announcement follows the strong leadership demonstrated by Lowes, Home Depot and Sherwin Williams, all of which have committed not to sell methylene chloride- and NMP-based paint stripping products by the end of the year. Importantly, Walmart's action goes beyond its U.S. stores, including those in Mexico, Canada and Central America, as well as their online store.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Richard Denison
In June 2016, Congress had the rare success of passing bipartisan legislation to update our nation's badly broken chemical safety system. It finally gave the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the power to strengthen health protections for American families.
Fast-forward 22 months and the implementation of that law is now in jeopardy.
By Keith Gaby
Given the tenuous hold Scott Pruitt has on his job leading the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), attention has now turned to the pending nomination of coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to become the embattled agency's deputy administrator.
In the event Pruitt were forced from office by the avalanche of scandals swirling around him, Wheeler—if confirmed as the agency's number two—would suddenly be running the EPA.
By Tom Murray
As the Trump administration rolls back environmental protections that could harm human health for decades, it's increasingly up to businesses to lead the way, charting the course to a future that includes both a thriving economy and a thriving planet.
Leading the way requires first setting ambitious, public targets like the more than 340 companies taking science-based climate action and 90 that have approved science-based targets; collaborating with partners across the value chain for maximum scale and impact—Walmart's Project Gigaton, a collaborative effort to reduce 1 billion tons for emissions, is a powerful example; and, supporting smart climate and energy policy
By Rama Zakaria and Graham McCahan
A newly-updated report is shedding light on what President Trump's solar trade tariffs may mean for one state—and underscoring a tremendous opportunity to move forward toward clean energy, with all the benefits it can bring.
Xcel Energy filed its 30-day bid report update with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission on March 1. The update follows Xcel's filing at the end of last year, in response to an "all-source solicitation," as part of its Electric Resource Plan and its proposed Colorado Energy Plan.
By Tom Neltner
On March 12, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be leading the U.S. delegation in the Netherlands proposing that the Codex Alimentarius Commission adopt a maximum lead limit of 40 parts per billion (ppb) in grape juice. The current limit, set by Codex in the 1980s, is 50 ppb. While it's a small step in the right direction, FDA's proposal falls woefully short of adequately protecting children from lead.
The monarch butterfly has a new chance at recovery, thanks to an innovative program seeking to crowdsource funding and habitat for the beloved species at an unprecedented scale and pace.
"The Monarch Butterfly Habitat Exchange is a market-based solution for restoring and conserving high-quality monarch habitat on America's private working lands," said David Wolfe, director of conservation strategy and habitat markets at Environmental Defense Fund. "We like to call it an 'Airbnb for butterflies' because it's the only program of its kind that can open the vast untapped potential of large-scale farms and ranches to make habitat available for monarchs, fast."
As investors increasingly focus on the risk of climate change in their portfolios, a new report from Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) shows some oil and gas companies are exposing themselves to scrutiny by failing to adequately disclose meaningful information on emissions of methane, the heat-trapping pollutant that is drawing increased attention from the public.
By Jason Mathers
Electric vehicles (EVs) are poised to take off. We've just closed a year of record demand and investment. It's no longer a question of whether EVs—will arrive, it's how: How big of a role will EVs play, how soon and how clean will they be?
Popularizing EVs will depend on tackling key challenges. We're seeing progress on several fronts.
1. Bringing Down the Cost of Batteries
Battery packs account for a third of the upfront cost of full EVs. Driving these costs down expands the number of EV models that are price-competitive with conventional vehicles. There is tremendous progress here.
The price of lithium ion batteries dropped 73 percent between 2010 and 2016, according to research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Numerous analyses point to battery costs of $100 per kilowatt hour (kWh) as the mark where full EVs become as affordable as traditional cars. General Motors' battery costs are $145 per kWh, and the company expects that number to drop under $100 per kWh by 2021.
2. Ramping Up Automaker Investment for New, Improved Models
Automakers are bringing electric cars and trucks to market with ever-better batteries and driving range. Ford Motor Co.'s plan to double its investments in EVs to $11 billion is just the latest example.
Globally, automakers have announced investments of more than $90 billion in EVs. Automakers still need to reveal more about their plans, detailing specific models, timing of release and availability in various markets.
3. Making Charging Stations More Widely Available
People are more likely to invest in plug-in cars once they feel confident they'll always find a place to recharge their batteries away from home, and fast. In fact, the availability of public charging infrastructure is a leading factor in EV adoption.
While the vast majority of charging occurs at home, public charging stations enable EV drivers to take extended trips. They also facilitate EV ownership by households reliant on on-street parking.
A recent assessment found the need for 600,000 public "level 2" (240 volt) plugs and 27,500 fast-charging plugs nationwide by 2030. By mid-2017, there were 36,000 public level 2 plugs and 3,300 fast-charging plugs in the U.S. So, there is a long way to go on this front.
Growth will continue over the next year as states deploy funds from the Volkswagen diesel emissions settlement to support EV charging infrastructure. Beyond the settlement, California recently approved a utility effort to expand access to charging in the light, medium and heavy-duty sectors, with more long-term, broader projects pending. More states should follow California's lead.
The time it takes to recharge will need to be improved, too. Helpfully, efforts are underway to deploy a next generation of fast-charging stations capable of adding 250 miles in a 15-minute fuel stop.
4. Shifting to Clean Energy for Charging
To get the most out of EVs, we need more renewable energy on the electric grid and drivers who charge vehicles when the grid is its cleanest. States play a vital role.
For example, New York's Reforming the Energy Vision aims to decentralize the electric grid, while aligning utility earnings with public policy needs and marketplace innovations. The program focuses on making it easier—and financially attractive—for customers to help improve the electric system by opting for EVs, rooftop solar and other energy investments.
By encouraging customers to charge EVs at times when renewable energy is readily available and affordable, New York is ensuring that EVs will benefit the grid and the environment.
5. Strengthening and Extending Emission Standards
Well-designed emission standards are critical to scaling clean vehicle solutions, such as EVs. With the certainty of long-term standards in place, manufacturers invest. This dynamic can be seen across the globe, as policy measures from China to California are driving EV investments.
Unfortunately, we are at risk of impairing this critical tool in the U.S. At a time when we should be challenging ourselves to set a new round of protective standards, the Trump administration is reconsidering standards that were set long ago.
The automotive industry has been complicit in this effort, despite its previous embrace of the same standards. To avoid undercutting their own investments in the long-term success of EVs, it is critical that automakers work proactively to strengthen and extend vehicle emission standards.
We're at a Crossroads
Over the next decade EVs can become a major part of our fleet with benefits for our health, economy and environment. We can create a future that drives down global oil demand and cuts nearly 2 billion tons of climate pollution a year.
Technical innovation has opened up this path. We now must muster the conviction to take it.
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has obtained emails indicating U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt's personal involvement in efforts to remove information about climate change from EPA's website.
EDF obtained the emails from EPA in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. We have posted the files for easy public access.