Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Wood Smoke Lobby Wins Sooty Victory in Congress... What's Next?

In case you missed it, while big environmental groups were focused on the Paris climate summit, the wood smoke lobby won a sooty victory last week in the House of Representatives.  This is a breath-taking defeat for the public.  But the fight isn't over yet.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Guest Post: Apple Makes Clean Power Pledge in China


[The upcoming Paris climate summit provides a good opportunity to look at what some leading companies are doing about climate change.  This guest post is from Beth Kelly.]

Current research indicates that consumer concerns over climate change are on the rise. Because the demand for consumer goods plays such a significant role in the generation of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, the steps taken by massive retailers to decrease their carbon footprint are highly impactful.  From here on out, all businesses should commit to sustainable operations and clean energy solutions whenever possible.  

The EPA has stated that the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. is created by the burning fossil fuels for heat, electricity and transportation. Therefore, a critical first step in lowering a company’s emissions is finding out how just how much carbon it produces from office buildings, data centers, factories and transportation fleets along the supply chain. Many large technology companies have been first in line to “commit” to environmentally-friendly business practices, with Apple making apparent efforts to spearhead the movement. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

EPA Proposes to Update "Good Neighbor" Power Plant Standards... But It Falls Short

Dear friends,

You are probably aware that the US EPA today is proposing to update its so-called “good neighbor” power plant requirements, to reduce smog-forming nitrogen oxides emissions that blow from one state into others http://www2.epa.gov/airmarkets/proposed-cross-state-air-pollution-update-rule

This is a step in the right direction, but it is not enough.  This proposal would in effect be a tool to help downwind states meet national clean air standards for ozone. 

Well and good.  But it would help them meet the already outdated 2008 ozone standard set during the more recent Bush era.  So EPA must do more in the future to help downwind states meet the new ozone standard set earlier this year. Anything less than that will fail to adequately protect public health.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Guest Post: Four for the Future: Clean Sources of Renewable Electricity


[Clean Air Watch periodically accepts guest posts of general interest.  Today's guest post is from Sarah Smith.  Editor's note: as the link below notes. biomass is a topic of genuine controversy.]

The world’s appetite for electricity grows bigger every day, and the global oil supply and reservoirs that provide hydroelectric power are beginning to show the strain. And while decreasing energy resources would be reason enough to look into types of renewable energy, there’s also the fact that many of the ways we currently generate electricity are harmful to our planet.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Buyer Beware: Car “Safety” Bill Contains Trojan Horse Provisions that Could Ruin California, Federal Clean-Car Programs

Dear Friends, 


We are not going to claim the draft legislation we are about to discuss came from the pens of Volkswagen lobbyists… but, as in the case of that cheater company, there is some real deception here.  And it also involves emission controls.

Tomorrow, a House panel http://1.usa.gov/1OG2gYp will hold a hearing on a draft bill ostensibly designed to promote better car safety.  Well and good — or so it would seem on the surface.

But buried deep within the legislation are Trojan Horse provisions that could not only kill California’s effective and trend-setting clean-car program, but could also erode the U.S. EPA’s authority over greenhouse gas emissions, to the likely favor of car companies. 

As explained in a description of the proposed legislation http://1.usa.gov/1LlIXjm it would promote various safety measures in high-tech motor vehicles.

One inducement to safer vehicles is buried deep within the draft legislation: see Title V, Sections 201-203  http://1.usa.gov/1XhmCsn

Under these provisions, car makers would receive “credits” towards meeting their greenhouse gas reduction obligations if they install certain safety features.  

And here is where this stealth attack gets interesting: Section 502 of the legislation would also amend the Clean Air Act to require that “a State” which receives a waiver to set its own greenhouse gas standards under the law must revise its rules within 30 days — or lose its waiver entirely.  (If you think states can revise major rules within 30 days, you must be living on another planet!)

This is a secret reference to California, since California is the only state permitted under law to set its own motor vehicle standards.  A dozen other states have adopted California’s standards http://www.calcleancars.org/learnMore-state.html and this dynamic has not only led to zero-emission vehicles and other emission improvements, but driven tougher national motor vehicle standards as well.  

Not surprisingly, for decades, car companies have tried to eliminate California’s ability to set tougher standards. For some background, note http://www.4cleanair.org/FinalBrochure-April05.pdf  

This latest gambit looks like one more sneaky attempt to do that. It could put the brakes on laudable efforts to put more zero-emission vehicles on the road and transform our passenger vehicle fleet to one that has far less impact on the planet. 

The legislation would also undermine the U.S. EPA’s authority by giving the U.S. Department of Transportation the final say in dispersing greenhouse gas “credits” in the future.  As those of us who have followed this issue for years well know, the car companies believe they have more influence shaping things at DOT. 

Implicit in this legislation is the notion that there has to be a tradeoff between auto safety and environmental standards.  We believe that is a false choice.


Friday, October 02, 2015

Northeast States to EPA: Give Us Better Big-Rig Pollution Standards to Help Us Make Progress with Ozone

As you are all too well aware, despite EPA’s shockingly weak new ozone standard, the big polluter lobbies continue to rail. (As one corporate guy put it to me, “protocol dictates we bitch.”) And now there’s even talk of going to Congress to try for the umpteenth time to relax the Clean Air Act itself.  Well, the lobbyists do have to create work for themselves, I suppose. And don’t forget the various members of Congress who want those campaign contributions to keep on coming...

What I want to flag for you this morning is a positive opportunity to make further reductions in ozone: stronger emission standards for smog-forming nitrogen oxides from new big-rig trucks.  This is an excellent counter to the polluter arguments that nothing more can be done to reduce air pollution. 

The smog-riddled state of California has already identified better truck standards as a clean-up strategy and has begun pressing the US EPA to set better standards: http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/tech/techreport/diesel_tech_report.pdf

That call to action has now been amplified by Northeastern states in new comments to EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas standards for big trucks.   See at  http://www.nescaum.org/documents/nescaum-heavy-duty-prop-rule-phase-2-comments-20151001-final.pdf

As the Northeastern states put it:

EPA should address the potential for further NOx reductions at the earliest possible date.
Heavy-duty trucks represent the second largest source of NOx emissions in the NESCAUM region, and our states remain very concerned about the need to further control NOx emissions from this sector. We thank the agencies for acknowledging the challenge that states continue to face in this regard, and we urge EPA to begin a rulemaking without delay to ensure that the next generation of trucks is not only more fuel efficient but also much less of a contributor to states’ air quality and public health problems. 

So you might want to keep your eyes on this issue moving forward.  The ball would seem to be in EPA’s court.  

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Clean Air Watch Reaction to EPA Smog Decision

From our standpoint, disappointing is probably too mild a term.  The big polluters won this time, for the most part. 

EPA has taken a baby step, when what was really needed is a giant stride to protect people’s health from dirty air.  It is really a missed opportunity. 

EPA’s own analysis underscores that thousands of people will die prematurely because of this weak, polluter-friendly approach. Many others will be left vulnerable to asthma attacks, hospital emergency room visits and days missed from school and work.  Not the best outcome, to put it mildly.  

Indeed, EPA’s own science advisers warned that an ozone standard of 70 would be too weak  http://www.cleanairwatch.org/2015/09/is-smog-standard-of-70-really-good.html .


No matter how the EPA tries to spin it, this is truly a blemish on the President’s environmental legacy.  


Despite this defeat, clean air defenders will now wearily trudge to Capitol Hill, with a deep sense of irony, to defend against any attempts by polluters to weaken the Clean Air Act.  Because the law itself is fine. What’s wrong here is its timid enforcement by people entrusted to carry it out faithfully.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

American Lung Assn. on VW: Recall those Dirty Cars and Demand Environmental Compensation

The American Lung Association has written the following letter about the Volkswagen cheater scandal to relevant federal and California authorities.  Clean Air Watch applauds the Lung Association's initiative and apologizes for any formatting glitches.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Quick Thoughts on the EPA Enforcement Action Against Volkswagen

By now you may have seen and read the EPA/California announcement of an enforcement action against Volkswagen: 


We applaud EPA and the state of California for moving aggressively to enforce the Clean Air Act.  Enforcement is critical to the quest for cleaner air.  Emission reductions must happen in the real world — not just on paper.

The charges here are truly appalling: that Volkswagen knowingly installed software that produced much higher smog-forming emissions from diesel vehicles in the real world than in pre-sale tests.  In the process, it was cheating not just car buyers but the breathing public.  Indeed, EPA asserts that the vehicles actually may be polluting “40 times” the permissible level!  This is unacceptable and really undercuts all the “clean diesel” rhetoric.

This case is sadly reminiscent of the “cheater truck” scandal of the 1990s that some of us remember all too well:  

Let’s hope VW moves swiftly to clean up its act.  

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Throwback Thursday: EPA Risk Report Noted That Dirty Air under an Ozone Standard of 70 Could Kill More People Than Would a Tougher Standard

The little chart below is from the 2014 EPA "Risk Assessment" which evaluated the health risks of dirty air under various possible ozone standards.  The report is at summary of EPA ozone risk assessment

EPA experts sought to apply several hypothetical standards to the 12 major specific cities noted below.

As you can see, more people risk death at an ozone level of 70 than at lower levels.  (EPA's assessment went down as far as 60 -- the standard supported by public health groups.)

The report examines other health risks as well.  In all cases, an ozone standard of 70 provides less public health protection than would a more restrictive standard.



Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Is A Smog Standard of 70 Really Good Enough? Here's What EPA's Science Advisers Said About the Need for a Tougher Smog Standard

...Although a level of 70 ppb is more protective of public health than the current standard [of 75], it may not meet the statutory requirement to protect public health with an adequate margin of safety.
In this regard, the CASAC deliberated at length regarding advice on other levels that might be considered to be protective of public health with an adequate margin of safety. For example, the recommended lower bound of 60 ppb would certainly offer more public health protection than levels of 70 ppb or 65 ppb and would provide an adequate margin of safety. Thus, our policy advice is to set the level of the standard lower than 70 ppb within a range down to 60 ppb 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Guest Post: Green Heating and Cooling Technologies

[Clean Air Watch from time to time accepts guest posts that we think are of general interest. Today's post on Green Heating and Cooling Technologies is from Sarah Smith.  We were particularly intrigued because we had to look up one of them! Hope you find this interesting.]


Wind Power

A wind-powered water heater does not function like a traditional water heater because it doesn’t use heating elements. 

On a windy day, wind enters the device and activates the turbine. Then, many magnets rotate on a metal plate. While the magnets spin, the temperature of the plate rises. At this point, water heats up as it travels through copper coils.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Important study: further cuts in NOx emissions could pay off big for smog control

Here is an interesting new study which just came my way.  It is technical, but it is quite on point as EPA considers what to do about the ozone standard.  

Study refutes concept of diminishing returns for smog control

Basically, it has been the “conventional wisdom” that once you hit a certain point with air quality improvements, the “marginal benefit” [the added benefit] of more pollution control drops, while the cost rises.  

This study challenges that “wisdom” directly.  It argues that as NOx emissions drop “each additional ton of NOx reduction carries larger benefits than the previous ton.”  And this is especially true in the case of mobile sources.  (And it is quite possible to make huge further reductions in NOx emissions by setting much tougher NOx emission standards for new trucks.)

I believe the EPA and the White House should take a close look at this study as we reach the crunch time on the ozone issue.  It refutes the arguments of those who claim it would cost too much to set a more protective smog standard.  

Friday, July 31, 2015

Guest Post: How Green are Green Vehicles? Why Fuel Efficiency Isn’t the Only Factor

(Clean Air Watch periodically accepts guest posts of general interest.  Today's provocative post is from Jon Wikstrom)


In 2013, the Motor Trend Car of the Year award was given to a surprising new company that promised to change the way we perceived cars forever. 
The car was awarded for being the quickest four-door in the country, and for being the most agile and responsive vehicle around. But what made this car special wasn’t how fast and nimble or even good looking it was, but rather how it worked. This surprising winner was the Tesla Model S, an all-electric car made in California.
The sleek design, super-fast pick up and remarkable features convinced many that the electric engine is here to stay. In fact, the trend of combustion engines being replaced by electric motors has just begun. Tesla distributes its electric cars in 4 countries, but they aren’t the only ones - many other well-established names, such as BMW and Toyota, are trying to get in on the action. 
Every single car manufacturer is at least entertaining the notion of building electric or hybrid cars. It seems the demand for a green vehicle is substantial. As the world battles environmental issues and consumers become more aware of their own impact on the planet, the need for green means of transport is only set to grow. 
But exactly how green are these electric and hybrid vehicles? A look into the factories of some of the key players in this revolution may reveal some dirty little secrets.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Guest Post: Pope Francis' “Climate Change Encyclical” Could Change the Game

[Clean Air Watch periodically accepts guest posts that we think would be of interest to readers.  Today's guest post is from Beth Kelly.]

When Pope Francis issued his “environmental” encyclical document, entitled "Laudato Si", he undoubtedly sought to push world leaders towards meaningful action ahead of the Paris Climate Summit later this year. The central theme of Francis' powerful address is that humanity stands alone in its responsibility for past, present, and future climate-related issues facing the planet. 
Francis’ remarks call for nothing short of a "bold cultural revolution" in how humanity interacts with the environment. For him, this will begin with a radical shift in how we produce and consume energy. He continues in the piece however, condemning a myriad of other aspects of modern culture that he believes are contributing to climate change - including consumerism and an unhealthy obsession with new technology.

By going further than any prior Pope on the topic, Francis has invited controversy from those on either side of the “debate.” Even before it was released to the public many were aware of the fact that it contained contentious, even inflammatory, content. Francis reserved his harshest criticism for conservative economic principles that have played a role in preventing serious action to stop climate change. He dismissed free market solutions to the problem, called trickle-down economics "crude" and "naïve," and criticized the economic culture that prizes profits over human welfare. Francis also wagged his finger at big business and energy companies for their role in contributing to climate change, as well as the pollution of the earth's air and water.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

What Has to Happen Before Electric Cars Replace Standard Cars?

[Clean Air Watch periodically accepts guest posts that we find interesting.  Today's guest is Jaclyn Lambert]


The advances in battery and hybrid vehicle technology over the past two decades have been so amazing that it causes one to wonder if there could be a world where traditional cars with gasoline engines no longer exist. After all, cars powered entirely by electricity are no longer a far-fetched idea, with high performance supercars coming out now that are capable of reaching incredible speeds.

There are, however, still significant barriers that stand in the way of electric cars becoming the new standard for everyday transportation. Let’s take a look at the biggest ones.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Guest Post: Alternative Energy Vehicles and the Environment


[Clean Air Watch periodically accepts guest posts to this space. The attached piece from Nik Donovic -- which highlights the benefits of hybrid vehicles -- struck a particular cord. We hope you find it interesting.]


It’s not tough to make an argument on why alternative fuel vehicles are the right choice for the environment and the American people. Choosing the right car can help in reducing your carbon footprint, as well as serve to cut down on our reliance of foreign petroleum. Hybrid cars are a good middle ground if you are not fully ready to purchase an electric car. Hybrids run on two fuels or energy sources – the traditional gasoline engine, and an alternative fuel source such as hydrogen-run motors or an electric engine. Hybrids produce 80% less harmful pollutants and greenhouse gases, making them a great alternative for breathing cleaner air.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Threat for clean air: Congressional spending panels take dead aim at ozone and other big clean air and water standards


I know many of you inside the Beltway are aware of today’s developments, but I do want to put out this alert for those outside the Beltway.  And for those of you inside, please take note: this isn’t just the run-of-the mill hearing or bill introduction.  This is a real threat to clean air.

Clean air protections are under a real cloud because of back-door attacks in both House and Senate appropriation legislation.  Today the House appropriations panel, on a party-line vote, endorsed a spending bill with a series of amendments, or “riders” that would block key environmental safeguards.  Among those was an amendment offered by West Virginia Republican Rep. Evan Jenkins, which would prohibit the EPA from tightening the smog standards until at least 85 percent of counties are able to meet the existing standard of 75 parts per billion.  It may sound innocuous, but this is a despicable ploy to block tougher smog standards.  In effect, it would deny all Americans the right to breathe safe air until the most polluted cities like Los Angeles and Houston have clean air – something that could take many years.

Later today, a Senate spending panel also endorsed a delay in the smog standards.  These lawmakers appear to be trying to set up a game of chicken with the President.  Could there be another government shutdown over this festival of dirty air and water amendments?  Or will they ask the President to negotiate – to choose which of his environmental priorities to salvage, and which to write off?  Stay tuned.

We expect more trouble tomorrow from newly elected Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) who says he will release a letter from other doctors calling for retaining the current standard.  To contrast with this, I comment to your attention recent letters from 1,000 medical professionals and from major health and medical groups, all of which called for tougher standards to provide better health protection. Here are links:




 

 

 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Guest Post: Tesla’s Powerwall – Fueling a Cleaner Future?


[Periodically we publish guest posts that we believe are of general interest.  The item below is from Beth Kelly]:

Affordable solar power has been a dream of the environmental movement for years. The digital revolution—which has seen computing become remarkably smaller, faster, and cheaper with each passing year—had, until now, outpaced all other industries in terms of dramatic breakthroughs. But with solar technology progressing at the rate it is today, some believe that the clean tech industry is less than 20 years away from meeting all of the world’s energy needs.

Of course, the world’s energy needs will keep increasing, so these estimates are something of a moving target. But several factors are spurring a wider accessibility of solar power, coming together to deliver cost-effective solar energy solutions to ordinary, everyday people. Elon Musk, the bold multi-hyphenate entrepreneur who has already made his mark in the e-payment and space exploration industries, is also devoting a large percentage of attention to the business of “renewables” and clean power. His grand visions of a new world of energy have brought a new battery storage unit out of the shadows of developmental research and into the wider consumer landscape.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Big Oil, Big Lies (an encore post)

[editor's note: This encore post was prepared three years ago, but it perhaps has new resonance topical given the oil industry's latest pr nonsense about smog]
 
The American Petroleum Institute's Campaign to Stop Life Saving Clean Air Protections

Big Oil, Big Lies

 
API is nothing if not consistent.  On February 10, 2012 Howard Feldman, API’s Director of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs, stated that forthcoming EPA clean air measures “could constitute a veritable tsunami of added requirements that could put some refineries out of business.”[1]  This is not the first time API has opposed cleaner air for America, and here, as with countless past health protections, API has employed the same model: issue outlandish, groundless statements predicting certain economic harm to industry while completely discounting the actual harms to human health and the environment that its obstructionism would perpetuate.   

History, however, shows the exact opposite to be true: EPA’s rules have proven beneficial for both our environment and our economy.  Indeed, EPA estimates that the 1990 Amendments will have prevented over 230,000 premature deaths and led to economic benefits of approximately $2.0 trillion by 2020.  API’s obstructionist strategies stand in stark contrast to these important public health and environmental benefits, and, if successful, these strategies represent an unmitigated disaster for American families.      

Don't be bamboozled by latest oil industry attack on proposed smog standards


Dear friends,

 I know a lot of you have not been on the job as long as some of us.  But I do want to make sure you have some context over the latest pricey oil industry effort to attack EPA’s proposed smog standards.  Please don’t be bamboozled.
 
Here is the reality – and there are a few brief citations below:  For the past 45 years, the oil industry has consistently opposed tougher clean air standards. Industry has generally made the same broken-record type arguments which basically boil down to claiming the air is clean enough, we are already making progress, yada yada yada.   

But industry has consistently lost these battles.  Check the record for yourself – the oil industry fought against the Clean Air Act in 1970, which provided the basis for smog standards. (Industry also argued against taking lead out of gasoline—something it doesn’t like to talk about much now!)  It fought against smog standards in 1979 (even though the EPA at the time was weakening earlier standards).  It fought against smog standards set in 1997.  And it fiercely opposed smog standards set in 2008 – the very standards industry appears to brag about today. 

Yes, we have made progress, but it’s been in spite of industry opposition.  

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Great Letter from Anti-Hunger and Environmental Groups About the Folly of the Corn Ethanol Mandate


May 13, 2015
The Honorable Michael Bennet
United States Senate
261 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Bennet,
 
Recently, you signed a letter urging Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy to “craft targets for domestic biofuels that reflect Congress’ intended goals for the RFS”. In 2007, Congress expanded the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) with the expressed goals of increasing the production of “clean renewable fuels” and “protect[ing] consumers.”
 
Respectfully, the organizations below are concerned that the RFS has thus far failed to deliver on its most basic goals, and in the process triggered consequences that have negatively impacted our environment, American consumers, and people around the world.
 
To date, the RFS has primarily incentivized increased production of corn ethanol. In fact, corn ethanol accounted for 83% of the overall volume mandate finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2013, the most recent year in which final renewable volume obligations were issued by EPA.1 The remainder was mostly comprised of imported sugarcane ethanol and domestically produced biodiesel.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Will NAM Ever Publish Comments Critical of its Smog-Loving Nonsense?

The polluter crowd at NAM has put up a new blog posting underscoring its opposition to tougher new smog standards.

http://www.shopfloor.org/2015/05/house-hearing-underscores-broad-impact-of-ozone-rule/33740?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+shopfloor%2FTDOl+%28Shopfloor%29

Our friend, NRDC's John Walke, has put up a few salient comments, but at this point, they are still awaiting "moderation." So here they are:


Incredibly, your leading Wyoming example ignores high smog levels in WY’s Upper Green River Basin due to oil & gas activities. See http://www.eenews.net/greenwire/stories/1060016205.

Second, the post contradicts NAM’s own VP, who admits smog levels will be cut to below 70 ppb just by following already-adopted measures. See http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/jwalke/the_national_association_of_ma.html

Third, currently unknown technologies may be necessary to meet safer smog health standards in some counties facing bigger challenges, but it is utterly false to contend this will be required “throughout the country.” (NAM’s VP admits “all but nine counties” nationwide will have smog levels “at or below 70 parts per billion by 2025″ just be carrying out adopted measures.)

History shows that better technologies have developed to deliver safe air quality to Americans. And even these more challenged counties will have as long as *twenty-two* years to meet tighter standards.

NAM is opposing safe air for all Americans. NAM is opposing the unanimous conclusion by independent medical and scientific advisors to EPA who understand that the current smog standard is unprotective. These advisors have unanimously concluded this unprotective standard needs to be strengthened to between 60 and 70 ppb to protect all Americans. No surprise that there is no mention of any of that in this post.


Monday, March 30, 2015

Pop Quiz: Test Your Knowledge of Harvard Professor Laurence Tribe



OK, Kids,

Spring break is about over, and it’s time to take up your pencil for this quiz about Harvard Professor Laurence Tribe. He’s been in the news a lot lately because he has been moonlighting for Peabody Energy, which seeks to gut clean air and climate standards. Let’s learn a little more about him.

The quiz is multiple choice, so it shouldn’t be too hard. The correct answers are below. We are on the honor system here, so no cheating! If you get every question right, let us know and you win a valuable free #ff from @Cleanairfrank.

So, let’s start the quiz!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Professor Tribe, the Polluters' Hired Gun, Once Called Justice Sotomayor a "Bully" and Questioned her Intelligence!

As the Supreme Court considers the various cases in which Harvard Professor Tribe represents some of the planet's most vile polluters, it is remarkable to note that "Larry" once told President Obama that Justice Sotomayor is a "bully" and "not as smart as she seems to think she is."

I am sure she will rise above such petty comments while considering the arguments of The Professor's clients.



Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Peabody Hired Gun Laurence Tribe also Working for Coal Giant to Kill Life-Saving Mercury/Toxic Standards



Of course, there has been much written in the past week and earlier about Harvard Prof. Laurence Tribe’s attack on the Obama EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Working as a hired gun for Peabody Energy Co., Tribe used a lot of highfaluting arguments involving the Constitution. (As you may know, some of the other expert Harvard profs. have refuted him.)

Perhaps less known is that Professor Tribe also represented Peabody in a case being argued tomorrow before the Supreme Court – an attempt to kill EPA’s life-saving mercury/toxic pollution standards for power plants. See below the cover sheet of his “amicus” brief, in which, by the way, he does not invoke highfaluting constitutional arguments. This looks like a pure Have Gun, Will Travel type of thing.

Tribe has disclosed this activity, as well as his ongoing work for two other notorious polluter lobbies, the American Petroleum Institute and the National Association of Manufacturers. https://helios.law.harvard.edu/public/ConflictOfInterestReport.aspx?id=10899

In reading through his fairly extensive client list, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that Harvard isn’t paying the professor enough. Perhaps we could convince Harvard to pay him more – and spend more time working with students rather than big polluter groups?










Thursday, February 26, 2015

Quick Thoughts About NAM's Hyperbolic Report on Smog

I know few of us are thinking about smog on a day like this. But I see that the good people of NAM are – out with yet another hyperbolic report about the alleged impact of cleaning up the air. http://www.nam.org/ozone/

Here are a couple of very quick thoughts to put these scare tactics into perspective:

As you can see, NAM has produced a very florid map purporting to show areas of the country that would be out of compliance with an ozone standard of 65 parts per billion, down from the current level of 75. (As I am sure you know, this is the most extreme outcome of EPA’s proposal, which was a range of 65-70).

But this map appears to be based on old information – data from 2011-2013. It apparently does not factor in one basic reality – that the air will be cleaner a decade from now than it is today because of various in-the-works pollution controls such as the Tier 3 clean-car, clean-gasoline standards.

EPA’s own projections conclude that outside California, only 9 counties in the entire country would be out of compliance with a standard of 70 in 2025, and that an additional 59 counties would fall short of a 65 standard. http://www.epa.gov/glo/pdfs/20141126-2025datatable.pdf

By the way, I believe many if not most of these counties would meet a standard of 65 if EPA adopted tougher standards to reduce smog-forming nitrogen oxides from new big-rig trucks. California is looking at exactly such a strategy. (Parts of California might not have to meet a new standard until as late as 2037.)

Another huge flaw in NAM’s logic: the business lobby contends that tougher air quality standards equate to “no growth.” All you have to do refute this notion is look at the facts:

IF NAM were correct, there would be “no growth” today in current dirty-air areas such as Texas and California. I offer for your consideration the most recent data on economic growth from the U.S. Department of Commerce http://1.usa.gov/1MUYZlf Growth was very high in such “nonattainment” states as Texas – and was pretty strong even in California!!

Perhaps NAM has decided to appropriate a line from Groucho Marx: “Are you going to believe me, or what you see with your own eyes?” http://quotations.about.com/od/funnymovieandtvquotes/a/grouchomarx1.htm


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Clean Air Watch to EPA on Smog: We Deserve the Right to Know When the Air is Unsafe to Breathe

Testimony of Frank O’Donnell, President, Clean Air Watch
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hearing on ozone, Arlington, TX
January 29, 2015

GOOD MORNING.

I AM FRANK O’DONNELL, PRESIDENT OF CLEAN AIR WATCH, A NATIONAL NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION DEDICATED TO PROMOTING CLEANER AIR AND BETTER PUBLIC HEALTH CHIEFLY THROUGH EDUCATION.

THANK YOU FOR ALLOWING ME TO SPEAK TODAY ON EPA’S PROPOSAL TO UPDATE AIR QUALITY STANDARDS FOR OZONE, COMMONLY REFERRED TO AS SMOG.

AS YOU KNOW, THE AIR QUALITY STANDARDS ARE THE HEART – AND THE LUNGS – OF THE CLEAN AIR ACT. THESE STANDARDS HAVE HELPED BRING CLEANER AIR TO NORTH TEXAS AND THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY. BUT CLEANER IS NOT THE SAME AS CLEAN.

I AM HERE TO TELL YOU THE CURRENT SMOG STANDARDS ARE TOO WEAK TO PROTECT OUR HEALTH. THEY ARE TOO WEAK TO PROTECT CHILDREN, TOO WEAK TO PROTECT SENIORS, TOO WEAK TO PROTECT THE VULNERABLE, INCLUDING MILLIONS WITH ASTHMA.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Six Things That Green Companies Do Differently; The Everyday Practices That Set Them Apart

Clean Air Watch periodically accepts guest submissions of pieces we think might be of general interest.  Today's article is by Jon Wikstrom


Every green company strives to help the environment. They consider it as a sense of responsibility to do their bit in saving the planet. But what sets them apart from normal companies and manufacturers?
We compiled a list of six such practices that green companies follow on a daily basis that distinguishes them from any average company.