74% Of Voters Back EPA Power Plant Emissions Regulation

by Silvio Marcacci

LCV EPA regulations poll results
EPA regulations poll results chart via LCV/Huffington Post

Fighting emissions regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency must be a winning national electoral issue, right? Otherwise why would so many politicians fight so hard to allow power plants to keep spewing pollution into the air?

Um, not so much. An overwhelming majority of voters in swing states across the country support EPA action to limit the amount of carbon power plants can emit, according to a new survey from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV).

By wide margins, voters in 11 states considered in play for 2014 Senate elections not only support emissions regulation, but trust EPA to administer the policy and say they’re less likely to vote for candidates who either oppose EPA’s proposal or deny climate change.

Wide Support For EPA Across State & Party Lines

74% of voters support EPA’s proposals to limit power plant emissions. That support cuts across states Barack Obama (73%) and Mitt Romney (73%) as well as party identification for Democrats (92%), independents (72%), and Republicans (58%). “The anti-environmental message is a losing argument with the American people,” blogged Gene Karpinski, LCV President.

The LCV poll derived these findings from telephone interviews on October 9-13 with 1,113 likely voters in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Virginia.

It’s also probably not surprising to learn the public wants EPA to regulate emissions, not Congress. At the height of the government shutdown, voters preferred EPA regulation to Congressional action by a 5-to-1 margin, 66% to 12%

Anti-EPA Stance & Climate Denial Cost Votes

In fact, EPA opposition may actually turn out to be a harmful policy position for 2014 candidates. Nearly half (48%) of all voters said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who opposed emissions regulation, while only 17% said they’d be more likely to vote for that candidate. By comparison, 44% of voters said they’d be more likely to vote for a candidate who supported power plant emissions regulations by EPA.

When presented with both sides of the argument (war on coal, higher electricity prices, and job killer were used against regulation while climate change, public health, and protecting the planet were used for regulation), 64% of voters said they wanted their senator to support EPA’s proposal.

Those same trends translate to voter perceptions about the threat of climate change. 65% of voters say climate change is a serious problem nationwide, and surprisingly say so at a higher rate in Romney states (67%) compared to Obama states (64%).

And if candidates deny climate change, they may be shooting their campaigns in the foot. 63% of voters said hearing their Senate candidate deny climate change would make them view the candidate less favorably than one recognizing basic science.

Pro-Climate Trends Taking Shape One Year Out

Election Day 2014 could be a major turning point for clean energy and climate policy – if Republicans keep the House of Representatives and take control of the Senate, action would grind to a halt for the rest of Obama’s term. However, if Democrats cut into the GOP’s House majority and hold the Senate, Obama could cement his progressive legacy by pushing through renewables support and emissions reduction goals.

LCV’s latest survey tracks with a bipartisan poll from July 2013 that found young voters “intensely supportive” of action to fight climate change, and willing to punish those who ignore the problem. Now that those trends are showing up across the wider US population, on broader policy fronts, it might just be time to scrap that climate-denier, anti-EPA playbook.

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This article, 74% Of Voters Back EPA Power Plant Emissions Regulation, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Silvio Marcacci Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate-focused public relations company based in Washington, D.C.

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Wind Power Has Dramatically Cut Global Warming Pollution In The U.S.

by Zachary Shahan

As required by Congress, the EPA recently released annual greenhouse gas data “detailing carbon pollution emissions and trends broken down by industrial sector, greenhouse gas, geographic region, and individual facility.”

Interestingly, in 2012, coal-fired electricity generation increased while natural gas generation decreased considerably. This is counter to all the talk about the shale gas revolution (“bridge,” if you’re optimistic), including a line right in the first paragraph of the EPA press release.

“The data, required to be collected annually by Congress, highlight a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions as more utilities switch to cleaner burning natural gas.”

Despite coal generation increasing, natural gas generation decreased so much that overall fossil fuel generation fell by 36.4 million MWh. Here’s a table with more details:

fossil fuel generation

So, what made up for that electricity generation drop?

First and foremost, reiterating a recent statement by the International Energy Agency, it seems that energy efficiency and energy conservation did. However, the other main contributor to the cut in global warming pollution was clearly renewable energy generation, especially generation from wind energy. Wind power plants contributed a significant 17.7 million MWh of additional electricity generation in 2012.

wind energy generation boost

If you are under the odd impression that more wind power doesn’t equal less global warming pollution, please use some common sense and also check out a recent study we reported on that shows how little backup power is actually needed for wind power, even at relatively high penetration levels. In other words, accept the fact that wind power is extremely effective at cutting global warming pollution.

As REVE notes: “What lesson can we draw from this data? While some of the emissions reductions noted by the EPA are fleeting, wind energy is a key contributor to the long-lasting strategy for reducing U.S. carbon emissions.

If you’re wondering what’s up with the EPA’s statement that the switch to natural gas has resulted in a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, the statement is based on generation change over the course of two years (2011 and 2012), not just 2012.

“The 2012 data show that in the two years since reporting began, emissions from power plants have decreased 10 percent. This is due to a switch from coal to natural gas for electricity generation and a slight decrease in electricity production.”

Spin natural gas however you want, but please stop ignoring the fact that increasing renewable energy generation has a very strong, lasting impact on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Also, let’s just hope that methane leaks from using natural gas aren’t considerably greater than projected (I can’t say I’m optimistic about that), and that, if natural gas really is notably greener, that natural gas rebounds and cuts coal generation considerably again… as we ramp up renewable energy faster and faster, since that is the only long-term solution in this sector anyway.

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This article, Wind Power Has Dramatically Cut Global Warming Pollution In The U.S., is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

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About the Author

Zachary Shahan is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he’s the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.

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Why are Environmentalists excited about the Natural Gas boom?

Why are Environmentalists excited about the Natural Gas boom? | 18/03/13
by John Brian Shannon John Brian Shannon

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, which is the cleanest fossil fuel of all?

You guessed it! Natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel – and by significant margins as data from the Environmental Protection Agency illustrates in the chart below.

Fossil Fuel Emission Levels in pounds per billion Btu of energy input. Source: EPA Natural Gas Issues and Trends 1998
Fossil Fuel Emission Levels in pounds per billion Btu of energy input. Source: EPA Natural Gas Issues and Trends 1998

Natural gas, as the cleanest of the fossil fuels, can be used in many ways to help reduce the emission of pollutants into the atmosphere.

Burning natural gas in the place of other fossil fuels emits fewer harmful pollutants, and an increased reliance on natural gas can potentially reduce the emissions of many of the most harmful pollutants. — naturalgas.org

After investigating the externalities associated with conventional sources of energy and cognizant of their commitments towards clean air, many nations have begun to embrace natural gas as a stepping stone towards a cleaner energy future.

In the U.S.A., as far back as 2003 when coal supplied more than 50% of America’s electrical power, coal-fired plants have been retired more quickly than new ones have come online. By 2012, coal supplied only 38% of U.S. electricity.

Nine gigawatts of U.S. coal-fired power generation was shut-down in 2012 alone, and replaced by an almost equal amount of natural gas power generation. Emission levels from those comparably-sized replacement natural gas power plants are less than half of those retired coal-fired plants!

Many more U.S. coal-fired power plants are scheduled for complete shutdown, or conversion to natural gas over the next few years totalling 35 GigaWatts (GW) according to the experts.

Chart courtesy of the U.S. Energy Information Administration — shows carbon emissions dropping as a result of switching from coal to natural gas,  2005-2012.

U.S. Carbon Emissions by Sector. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration
U.S. Carbon Emissions by Sector. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Carbon emissions of all end-use Sectors have decreased since 2005 in the United States.

The largest reductions appear to be due to the Electric Power and Transportation sector’s emissions, followed by the Industrial, Residential and Commercial sectors.

[Of all sectors] “the largest reduction to carbon emissions is due to coal-to-natural gas ‘fuels switching’ and construction of higher efficiency power plants. 

Expansion of renewable power, overwhelmingly due to expanded wind power, has been the second largest factor to reduced Power Sector carbon emissions.” – theenergycollective.com

Many expert studies show CO2 emissions dropping as a result of the combined effects of many countries switching from coal to natural gas and/or renewables, 1990-2100.

Chart depicts probable CO2 levels, depending on the choices we make. Image courtesy of Royal Dutch Shell 'New Lens Scenarios'
Chart depicts probable CO2 levels, depending on the energy choices we make. Image courtesy of Royal Dutch Shell ‘New Lens Scenarios’

The change-up to renewable energy will vary by country as OECD nations continue to take the lead in renewable energy between now and 2100. Even so, total worldwide emissions will drop dramatically and the switch from coal to natural gas is one big step towards a cleaner environment.

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DC SEU Wins EPA Sustained Excellence Award

EPA RECOGNIZES DC SEU AND NORTHEAST ENERGY EFFICIENCY INITIATIVE WITH 2013 ENERGY STAR® SUSTAINED EXCELLENCE AWARD

The DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DC SEU) in partnership with Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships earns award for protecting the environment through energy efficiency.

Press Release March 5, 2013 (Washington, DC) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded the DC Sustainable Energy Utility a 2013 ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence Award as part of the Northeast Retail Products Initiative in recognition of its continued leadership in protecting our environment through energy efficiency. The initiative, facilitated by Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) and made up of utilities and energy efficiency program administrators in New England, New York, and Washington D.C., will be recognized at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on March 26, 2013.

In 2012, the DC SEU sold more than 43,000 compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs). This year, the DC SEU has already sold more than 80,000 CFLs and now offers rebates for ENERGY STAR qualified light-emitting diodes (LEDs), clothes washers, and refrigerators.

“Working with local retailers, the DC SEU is committed to ensuring energy-efficient products are available to all District residents throughout the city.” — Ted Trabue, Managing Director of the DC SEU.

An ENERGY STAR Partner since 2000, the Northeast Retail Products Initiative will be honored for its long-term commitment to energy efficiency. During the last thirteen years, the Initiative has won 14 awards including six Excellence Awards.

“Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships is committed to speeding the adoption of high efficiency products in the region through our partnership with the DC SEU in the Retail Products Initiative.

By leveraging our resources, our initiative, which collectively serves over fifteen million households, [DC SEU] is able to yield more energy and cost savings for families and businesses than through individual program efforts.

We are very proud of the DC SEU for their tremendous efforts in helping to make the Northeast a sustained leader in energy efficiency.

Our success for the region is a direct result of the commitment they dedicate to accelerating energy efficiency for our environment, our economy, and our communities.” — Sue Coakley, Executive Director of NEEP.

For over 20 years, with help from ENERGY STAR, American families and businesses have saved more than $230 billion on utility bills and prevented more than 1.8 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

The 2013 Sustained Excellence Awards are given to a select group of organizations that have exhibited outstanding leadership year after year. These winners have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by setting and achieving aggressive goals, employing innovative approaches, and showing others what can be achieved through energy efficiency. Award winners are selected from about 20,000 organizations that participate in the ENERGY STAR program.

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ABOUT the DC SEU

Created by the City Council as part of the Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008 (CAEA), the DC SEU is managed by the Sustainable Energy Partnership under contract to the District Department of the Environment (DDOE).

For more information on the DC SEU, visit: www.dcseu.com 

ABOUT NEEP

NEEP is a regional non-profit whose mission is to serve the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic to accelerate energy efficiency in the building sector through public policy, program strategies and education. NEEP’s Market Strategies team supports the collaboration of energy efficiency program administrators and other key stakeholders in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to achieve long-term cost-effective energy savings by broadening the market availability and consumer demand for high quality, energy efficient products and services.

Visit www.neep.org for more details.

JOHN BRIAN SHANNON

To follow John Brian Shannon on social media – place a check-mark beside your choice of Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn: FullyFollowMe/johnbrianshannon

How to Buy a Car and get Free Fuel

by John Brian Shannon

What if you could buy a car and (except for the normal taxes, insurance, maintenance and parking stall fees, etc.) you could drive it around for free? What I’m talking about is fuel, which for most people is a major cost these days.

Steve: In Los Angeles, the gas price is hovering around $4.00 per gallon. At that price, ‘Steve’ uses about $21.00 of gas (5.3 gallons) to travel 96 miles every weekday. He is likely to spend $106. per week in mixed driving, totalling about $425. per month.

The question is; What would ‘Steve’ rather do with $5100. per year?

If you want an easy way to calculate vehicle fuel costs, miles per dollar (MPD) works as good as anything – and for this hypothetical SUV it costs about $0.22 per mile to drive in mixed traffic. (Maintenance, taxes, registration, parking, etc.… not included in these figures.)

Suzy: HerHybrid Prius also does a lot of stop and go city driving. Her EPA sticker says she should get 48 MPG city driving and 45 MPG highway driving. At $4.00 per gallon for gas, she uses $8.00 of gas (2 gallons) to travel 96 miles. Her cost per mile? Suzy’s Prius costs about $0.08 per mile to drive in mixed traffic. (Maintenance, taxes, registration, parking, etc.… not included in these figures.)

Ken: He drives a Nissan LEAF, which doesn’t even have a gas tank — because it is an electric vehicle, but the EPA sticker on the car when it was new advertised an equivalent of 95 MPG, which is expressed as 95 MPG-e.

Scenario A) If Ken charges his car’s battery pack at home, he pays for the electricity to charge it resulting in an electricity cost of $0.04 per mile. Depending on how Ken drives and his electricity rate, each $1.00 of stored electricity could get him up to 25 miles.

Scenario B) If Ken uses the many available and free fast-chargers placed around the city to recharge his EV battery pack, he doesn’t pay anything per mile — as most 30 minute fast-chargers for electric vehicles are free to use in the U.S.A. In which case, his cost is $0.00 per mile. Buy the car, drive it for free! (Maintenance, taxes, registration, parking, etc.… not included in these figures.)

It may interest you to know that there are over 11,500 EV chargers in the U.S.A. as of Jan 2013, with more are being added every month. They are easily located via smartphone app and are conveniently located in almost every U.S. city.

Now, what to do with that extra $5100. each and every year?

These numbers are hypothetical examples, your costs and/or savings will be determined by your city’s gas prices and your vehicle mileage. Your electricity rate only matters if you choose to charge your EV at home — instead of at a 30 minute fast-charging station, where you can fully charge it for free!

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