economy

US Air Quality Improving but White House Looking to Reverse That Progress

Smokestacks emitting pollution

The American Lung Association (ALA) released its “State of the Air” report last week, and the organization found that air quality in U.S. cities has improved in the time period from 2012–2014. The ALA report specifically cites the increased air quality protections and emission reduction programs that first began popping up in the U.S. to improve air quality in the 1970s.

While overall air quality improved in the major cities studied in the report, the ALA did note that short periods of increased air particulate contamination existed in many areas. Furthermore, the ALA added that at least 166 million Americans are currently living in areas where the level of air contaminants exceeds safe limits.

The timing of this report is very important, as the group is hoping to use this information to convince the Trump administration not to repeal or otherwise weaken air quality standards enacted by the Obama administration.

Federal Report: Environmental Safeguards Provide Billions In Economic Benefits

piles of money

Very quietly over the holidays, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a long-overdue draft report on the economic impacts of environmental regulations and safeguards for the fiscal year 2015, which covers October 2014 to September 2015.

In the report, 2016 Draft Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations and Agency Compliance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act, the OMB looked at the cost of environmental regulations and compared to them to the economic benefits, both those seen during the 12 month period and the estimated long-term benefits. Their results showed very clearly that these safeguards are providing an exponentially greater economic benefit than they are costing.

Gutting The EPA Will Put Millions Of Lives, And The Economy, At Risk

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has made it clear that his administration is going to be hostile towards his predecessor’s environmental policies, going as far as to promise a massive roll back of current environmental protections.

This is all  under the guise of reducing bureaucratic red tape that is supposedly hindering energy development. While there are plenty of studies available that refute the “excessive regulations hurt businesses” talking points, those studies haven’t seemed to penetrate the climate denial shield that some politicians have surrounded themselves in, so a different approach is called for.

Donald Trump’s Anti-Environment Agenda Could Tank US Economy

United States President-elect Donald Trump has already made it clear that his administration will be far more friendly to fossil fuel companies than it will be to the environment, both with his appointment of noted climate change denier Myron Ebell to head up the EPA transition team, and with his stated desire to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

While Ebell’s appointment spells environmental disaster, it is Trump’s desire to withdraw from the Paris Agreement that could cripple the United States both environmentally and economically. And it is that second point – the economic impacts – that might actually have a chance of resonating with the American public.

California Climate Policies a $48 Billion Boon for State’s Economy, Analysis Finds

A new analysis by a non-partisan business group finds that California’s climate policies have been a boon for the state’s economy.

Assembly Bill 32, also known as AB 32 or the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, requires California to reduce climate-cooking greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 — which meant cutting emissions about 25 percent from where they were at in 2006, when AB 32 was passed by the California State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

According to the analysis from Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2analysis, AB 32 and related climate policies have pumped some $48 billion into the state economy over the past decade while helping create about 500,000 jobs.

Renewable Energy Jobs Keep Growing While Fossil Fuel Jobs Keep Shrinking

More than 8.1 million people are now employed by the renewable energy industry worldwide, an increase of five percent over last year, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

The number of renewable energy jobs worldwide went up in 2015 while jobs in the broader energy sector fell. In the United States, for example, renewable energy jobs increased six percent, but employment in oil and gas fell 18 percent.

That’s perhaps not surprising, as renewable energy continues to break records. According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), utility-scale electrical generation from renewable sources like solar and wind hit an all-time high of 16.89 percent of the country’s total electricity generation in the first quarter of 2016. During the same time period in 2015, renewable energy's share of net generation was just 14 percent. Distributed solar photovoltaic and wind energy have also continue to grow quickly, the EIA found.

Democratic Senator Believes His Party “In Denial” About Fossil Fuel Importance

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia has always been at odds with the majority of his fellow Democrats in terms of environmental protection, but his statements a few weeks ago show that he might have actually become an enemy to the environment.
 
In early April, Manchin told The Wall Street Journal that while Republicans have plenty of “deniers” on their side who refuse to admit that climate change is real, the Democratic Party has plenty of “deniers”, too. According to Manchin, those “deniers” are the ones who believe that the United States can move to a fossil fuel-free society.
 
In his own words:  “Even worse than that, we have deniers that believe we’re going to run this country or run this world without fossil…That’s a worse denier, thinking they’re just going to just shift it and everything’s going to be hunky-dory.”

Hillary Clinton Suddenly Backs Off Her Strongest Environmental Proposal

The biggest criticism lobbed at President Obama from the environmental movement is that he speaks out of both sides of his mouth. While he has always accepted that climate change is real and needs to be addressed, his proposals have always been countered by some sort of gift to the fossil fuel industry — leasing new lands for offshore drilling, expanding coal leases, increasing domestic oil exploration, lifting the crude oil export ban, etc.
 
So last November, when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that she would do away with the coal industry if elected president, environmentally conscious voters applauded her actions. Her proposal was broad, ambitious, and would have made a serious impact on the amount of carbon that the United States was producing while at the same time protecting both the economy and the environment.

Hillary Clinton’s Plan To Silence The “War On Coal” For Good

In the run-up to the 2012 U.S. Presidential elections, the “war on coal” talking point was used incessantly by the Republican Party. It wasn’t until nearly a year after those elections that the coal industry publicly admitted that the war on coal never existed in the first place, but that hasn’t stopped politicians from using that phrase when they want to attack the EPA or plans to limit U.S. carbon emissions.

The argument, according to the politicians who carry water for the coal industry, is that reducing carbon emissions will lead to a reduction in coal industry jobs, thus harming the U.S. economy. While reports show that the EPA’s carbon emissions rules will actually create more jobs than would be lost, the claim is still used to strike fear into the hearts of the people who depend on those dangerous jobs for their livelihood.

So how can you fight a battle that doesn’t exist while simultaneously easing the fears of American workers? Hillary Clinton has the answer.

Ignorance for a Price: How The Fossil Fuel Industry Pays Politicians To Doubt Science

One year ago, 68% of American citizens believed that climate change was real. Today, that number has jumped to 76%, according to a new poll by UT Energy. That shift is not surprising, considering the record-breaking temperatures and widespread droughts and weather disruptions that have occurred in the last 12 months.

But what is most surprising about this new poll is the shift in attitudes of Republican voters.

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