Trump Rolls Back Environmental Rules & Regulations

Much of President Trump’s campaign was based on de-regulating the failing fossil fuel industry – and 10 months into his presidency, it’s clear that he has made good on those promises. Below are the 52 environmental rules that have been overturned, are in the works to be overturned, and the regulations whose status are unclear due to delays/court proceedings.

Much of President Trump’s campaign was based on de-regulating the failing fossil fuel industry – and 10 months into his presidency, it’s clear that he has made good on those promises. Below are the 52 environmental rules that have been overturned, are in the works to be overturned, and the regulations whose status are unclear due to delays/court proceedings.

25 RULES OVERTURNED

1. Flood building standards

2. Proposed ban on a potentially harmful pesticide

3. Freeze on new coal leases on public lands

4. Methane reporting requirement

5. Anti-dumping rule for coal companies

6. Decision on Keystone XL pipeline

7. Decision on Dakota Access pipeline

8. Third-party settlement funds

9. Offshore drilling ban in the Atlantic and Arctic

10. Ban on seismic air gun testing in the Atlantic

11. Northern Bering Sea climate resilience plan

12. Royalty regulations for oil, gas and coal

13. Inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions in environmental reviews

14. Permit-issuing process for new infrastructure projects

15. Green Climate Fund contributions

16. Mining restrictions in Bristol Bay, Alaska

17. Grizzly bear listing as endangered species

18. Hunting ban on wolves and grizzly bears in Alaska

19. Protection of whales and sea turtles

20. Reusable water bottles rule for national parks

21. National parks climate order

22. Environmental mitigation for federal projects

23. Calculation for “social cost” of carbon

24. Planning rule for public lands

25. Copper filter cake listing as hazardous waste

24. Flood building standards

25. Proposed ban on a potentially harmful pesticide

 

3 RULES OVERTURNED AND THEN REINSTATED

1. Delayed by one year a compliance deadline for new ozone pollution standards, but later reversed course. Scott Pruitt, head of EPA, initially delayed the compliance deadline for a 2015 national ozone standard, but reversed course after 15 states and the District of Columbia sued.

2. Delayed publishing efficiency standards for household appliances. After being sued by a number of states and environmental groups for failing to publish efficiency standards for appliances including heaters, air conditioners and refrigerators, the Trump administration released its rules on May 26.

3. Reinstated rule limiting the discharge of mercury by dental offices into municipal sewers. The EPA reinstated an Obama-era rule that regulated the disposal of dental amalgam, a filling material that contains mercury and other toxic metals. The agency initially put the rule on hold as part of a broad regulatory freeze, but environmental groups sued. 

19 RULES IN THE PROCESS OF BEING OVERTURNED

1. Clean Power Plan

2. Paris climate agreement

3. Wetland and tributary protections

4. Car and truck fuel-efficiency standards

5. Status of 10 national monuments

6. Status of 12 marine areas

7. Limits on toxic discharge from power plants

8. Coal ash discharge regulation

9. Emissions standards for new, modified, and reconstructed power plants

10. Emissions rules for power plan start-up and shutdown

11. Sage grouse habitat protections

12. Fracking regulations on public lands

13. Regulations on oil and gas drilling in some national parks

14. Regulations for offshore oil and gas exploration by floating vessels

15. Exploratory drilling in Arctic Wildlife Refuge

16. Hunting method regulations in Alaska

17. Requirement for tracking emissions on federal highways

18. Oil rig safety regulations

19. Emissions standards for trailers and glider kits

 

8 RULES CURRENTLY IN LIMBO

1. Methane emission limits at new oil and gas wells

2. Limits on landfill emissions

3. Limits on methane emissions on public lands

4. Mercury emission limits for power plants

5. Hazardous chemical facility regulations

6. Groundwater protections for uranium mines

13. Regulations on oil and gas drilling in some national parks

14. Regulations for offshore oil and gas exploration by floating vessels

15. Exploratory drilling in Arctic Wildlife Refuge

16. Hunting method regulations in Alaska

17. Requirement for tracking emissions on federal highways

18. Oil rig safety regulations

19. Emissions standards for trailers and glider kits


President Trump is doing whatever he can to attack important and fundamental environmental protection regulations and bolster the fossil fuel industry. Oil and coal are finite resources and are neither sustainable nor a viable option moving forward.  By de-regulating these industries, irreparable damage is being done to the environment that will affect future generations. It's up to the States and environmental groups to push back and keep filing these lawsuits, so call your representative, let them know that you believe in environmental protection laws, and support an environmental group by donating

You can stay updated on environmental rollbacks here and here

For more information on the impact these regulations have on the environment and to read the original article, click here.

CA Solar Bill - Updates

The U.S. environmental policy has suffered several blows under the Trump Administration. As a result, many states have decided to strengthen their own legislation while President Trump attempts to diminish it nationally. Proudly, California is leading by example. Here's an update on upcoming California solar legislation. 

SB 100 (De León) -- Will accelerate the state’s current 50% Renewables Portfolio Program (RPS) requirement to 2025, raise the RPS to 60% in 2030, and establish a goal for the state to satisfy 100% of its electricity needs from carbon-free resources by 2045. That’s right – it’d mean one of the world’s largest economies would be 100% powered with clean energy! Status: Passed out of the Senate earlier this year and Assembly policy committees this week, and has been referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee.

AB 1184 (Ting) – Will create a pathway to achieving the state’s goals of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) on the road by 2025 and 5 million vehicles ZEV by 2030, by establishing a reliable, long-term incentive program for electric vehicles. As we bring more solar onto California’s grid, EVs can help us match power demand with supply, using all that mid-afternoon sunshine to clean up our air. Status: Passed out of the Assembly earlier this year and Senate policy committees, and has been referred to Senate Appropriations Committee.

SB 520 (Mitchell) — Seeks to allow non-profits a more level playing field at the California Independent System Operator and the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission, by authorizing a new intervenor compensation program that will allow for recovery of advocacy expenses. Status: Passed out of the Senate earlier this year, approved in Assembly policy committee and referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee.

SB 242 (Skinner) -- Will strengthen Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing in California by building upon its existing consumer protections. Status:  Passed out of the Senate earlier this year, and now set to be heard in Assembly Banking and Finance Committee on Tuesday July 18.

SB 366 (Leyva) – Aims to make the IOU’s existing community shared renewables programs affordable for low-income customers and get more shared renewables projects built in disadvantaged communities. Has been made into a two-year bill.

SB 71 (Wiener) — Would direct the California Energy Commission to use building codes to require cost-effective rooftop solar to be built into new residential construction.  Status: Has been made into a two-year bill.

SB 700 (Wiener)— Seeks to create a well-planned incentive structure for customer-side energy storage, in much in the same way that the California Solar Initiative helped bring down costs for rooftop solar. Status: Has been made into a two-year bill.

Read the original article here.

Al Gore: The Future of Climate Change Lies in Cities and Solar

Former Vice President Al Gore gives some insight on An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, climate change, and our current political climate. 

It’s been 17 years since Democratic nominee Al Gore lost the 2000 presidential election. Since then, the previous TN Senator has found a new life’s mission, with the name Gore becoming synonymous with environmentalism. Though many know him as the face of An Inconvenient Truth (2006), he has actually been a key leader educating the public about global warming and encouraging government leaders to adopt earth friendly policies.

Gore has not only trained thousands of climate leader (who are now spreading awareness on global warming), but he has worked with multiple government leaders as they navigated their countries’ energy economies from fossil fuels to renewable energies. In the second installment of An Inconvenient Truth, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (2017), Filmmakers Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk follow Gore as he travels the world documenting the stark realities of global warming and climate change. When asked what this sequel has to offer former Vice President Gore says that an An Inconvenient Sequel stresses one particular fact: we need to act on climate change immediately.

Scientific American interviewed Gore on the movie release, climate change, and our current political climate. Their edited transcript follows:

Why did you feel the need for a sequel to An Inconvenient Truth?

The 10-year anniversary of the first movie seemed like a good time to come back and tell the audience what’s new. There have been two huge changes in the last decade. Number one: climate-related extreme weather events have become far more serious and frequent, validating the predictions of the scientific community. [We wanted to give] people a visceral understanding of how these changes are affecting people all over the world, including throughout the United States. The scientific community has tremendous credibility, but it turns out Mother Nature is more persuasive than any of us.

The second big change: the solutions are here now. A decade ago they were visible on the horizon, but we had to rely on technology experts to reassure us they were coming. Now the stunning cost reductions for solar electricity, wind electricity, batteries, electric vehicles and hundreds of impressive efficiency improvements are all dramatically improving our ability to reduce emissions and become far more efficient.

We are now in the early stages of a global sustainability revolution, which has the magnitude of the industrial revolution and the speed of the digital revolution. Global emissions have stabilized in the last three years, giving hope that emissions will start reducing significantly very soon, as they have already done in the U.S., Europe and China.

What message do you hope people will take away from the film?

The directors of the second film, Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, have a cinema verité style, which is a different style from Davis Guggenheim’s [who directed An Inconvenient Truth]. It gives people a chance to see the action firsthand. They followed me around for two years and left a thousand times as much film on the cutting room floor as what they selected for the final version of the movie. It does leave audiences extremely hopeful, but with an increased sense of urgency. I’m very happy they’ve succeeded in doing both of those things.

Given the Trump administration’s actions, do you see U.S. politics as an effective way to address climate change? If not, what is the more powerful force?

American democracy has been hacked by big money and lobbyists for polluters long before Putin hacked our democracy. But people are beginning to react to what Trump is doing, validating the law of physics, which says that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That is a phenomenon that sometimes plays out in politics. We saw it when the entire world reacted to Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris agreement by immediately doubling down on their commitments. India just announced two months ago that, in the wake of Trump’s decision, within 13 years 100 percent of its new cars and trucks will have to be electric vehicles. Both India and China are closing hundreds of coal-burning plants and rapidly expanding their solar and wind facilities. We’re seeing the beginnings of a radical transformation of the world’s energy system, particularly in developing countries.

The political system here in the U.S. is still slow to respond—but the reaction to Trump here in the U.S. is also impressive and encouraging. After Trump’s announcement on Paris, governors, mayors and business leaders stepped up to fill the gap. I have been encouraged at how many cities have announced the goal of 100 percent renewable energy. In the movie the mayor of a very conservative Republican city in Texas has already achieved that goal. Atlanta and Pittsburgh have just announced that they’re going 100 percent renewable. If Atlanta and Pittsburgh can do it, any city can do it.

It has to be noted that even with all of the commitments in Paris put together, it’s still not enough. It’s an impressive foundation upon which to build stronger efforts at emissions reductions, and we could move faster if the U.S. president would provide leadership. But since he is in the grips of carbon polluters, we have to rely on state and local governments and business leaders to step up their actions.

What is the greatest obstacle to making progress on climate change? And what can be done about it?

The large carbon polluters have taken the playbook written by the tobacco industry, which responded to the scientific consensus linking cigarettes and lung and heart diseases by hiring actors, dressing them up as doctors and putting them in front of cameras to falsely reassure people that there were no consequences to smoking cigarettes. In my home state of Tennessee there’s an old saying that if you see a turtle on a fence post, you can be pretty sure it didn’t get there by itself. When we see a persistent level of climate denial, we can be pretty sure it didn’t occur spontaneously. The large carbon polluters have spent between one [billion and] two billion dollars putting out pseudoscience and creating false doubts.

But people are seeing through this now, partly because of the extreme weather events connected to the climate crisis. Just yesterday, seven inches of rain fell in Miami in two hours. The once-in-a-thousand-year events are occurring [much more frequently] now. Even people who don’t want to use the phrase “global warming” or “climate crisis” are finding new ways to express what they feel with their own senses, and they’re responding to political leaders who are using facts as a basis for new policies. In the meantime many contracts are being signed for electricity from solar energy at less than half the price of electricity from fossil fuels, even on an unsubsidized basis.

So I’m encouraged—but it is a race against time.

Read the full article here.

Take Action! Check Out These Two Critical Solar Bills

The Assembly Energy Committee is going to hold hearings on two solar/renewable energy bills with the potential to shake up solar law in California and we need you to Take Action!

CA_Solar

California is considered one the world’s largest economies in the world & is often considered a front runner in renewable and climate policy/action. True to their reputation in the renewable energy racket, CA lawmakers are working on new legislation that would grow low-income community solar and commit to being 100% renewable electricity by 2045, respectively. SB-366 and SB-100 have been passed in the Senate and it’s now up to the Assembly Energy Committee to take lead and push these projects forward.

According to VoteSolar.org, SB-366 would grow low-income community solar, expand community solar options for low-income families, and ensure that those same communities now have the opportunity toi participate in and benefit from our growing clean energy economy. The bill would require Public Utility Commissions to increase the 600-megawatt statewide limitation up to 800 megawatts, to the extent necessary to accommodate participation by low-income customers and projects located in disadvantaged communities. .

SB-100 would “set the bold but achievable goal of powering California with 100% renewable electricity by 2045, creating jobs and improving health and wellbeing in communities statewide”. SB-100, also known as the California Renewable Portfolio Standard Program, would set goals to A) achieve a 50% renewable resources target by December 31, 2026 B) achieve a 60% target by December 31, 2030 and C) for all electricity sold at retail to be from zero-carbon resources by December 31, 2045. Thebill would also require that retail sellers and local publicly owned electric utilities procure a minimum quantity of electricity products from eligible renewable energy resources so that the total kilowatt-hours of those products sold to their retail end-use customers achieve  A) 45% of retail sales by December 31, 2023, B) 50% by December 31, 2026 and C) 60% by December 31, 2030.

You can help push these bills forward by telling Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon that we need California to keep leading the way on clean energy and climate and to put CA on a path to 100% clean energy that works for all!

Do your part & support the bills here.

CA Lawmakers Hope to Pass Electric Car Program Similar to Solar Initiative

A group of lawmakers in California are working on a bill to boost electric car sales based on the wildly successful California Solar Initiative (CSI).

A group of lawmakers in California are working on a bill to boost electric car sales based on the wildly successful California Solar Initiative (CSI).

The Clean Energy Vehicle Initiative intends to increase the amount on electric cars on California roads to 1.5 million by 2025 and potentially 5 million by 2030. There are currently approximately 300,000 electric cars on the road right now, meaning the bill would aim to quintuple that number in 8 years. The bill would model itself after

Though an existing bill offers $7,500 of federal rebates and approximately $2,500 in State rebates, many advocates and lawmakers argue that that simply isn’t enough incentive. The newlegislation, AB 1184, would boost that rebate amount several thousand dollars – a huge help given that the price difference between General Motor’s Bolt and an equivalent gas-powered car is around $15,000.

The Clean Energy Vehicle Initiative would be modeled after the very successful California Solar Initiative that was implemented in 2007. The program, that had an initial goal of 2 gigawatts of solar to be installed by 2016, reached its goal years ahead of schedule. As a result, hundreds more megawatts were installed by the scheduled deadline.

Electric vehicles have all the safety and feature of a regular gas car, but with additional benefits, including lower maintenance costs and lower fuel costs – making electric vehicles cheaper to own over their lifetime than comparable gasoline vehicles. EV’s have been proven to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to cut down on air pollution. As if the aforementioned perks weren’t enough, EV drivers are offered preferential parking, insurance discounts, access to carpool/HOV lanes, and the existing rebates.

More information on AB 1184: here.

Source Article: here.

Project Sunroof - Shedding Light on Solar Potential

With the price of solar dropping, more homeowners have questions about the viability of rooftop solar on their homes. Project Sunroof is an essential first resource for those entertaining the idea of rooftop solar. 

Project Sunroof is a Google venture dedicated to providing property owners information on the viability of residential solar. By using imagery from Google Maps, Google Earth, 3D modeling, and data comparison, Project Sunroof can estimate solar production, potential shading issues, and even rebate and tax credit savings that may be available to a homeowner interested in rooftop solar. 60 million buildings have been analyzed thus far and it's helping potential solar owners determine if solar "make sense" on their roof.

The collated data is also producing helpful reports on solar viability on a larger, nationwide scale. With the data recorded from the analyzed rooftops, Project Sunroof has determined that:

  • 79% of all rooftops analyzed are viable for solar
  • 90% of homes in Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico are viable
  • 60% of homes in states like Pennsylvania, Maine, and Minnesota are viable
  • Houston, TX has the most solar potential of any US city (with an estimated 18,940 gigawatt-hours of rooftop solar generation potential per year)

To put rooftop solar into perspective, if the above mentioned top ten cities reached their solar potential, they would produce enough energy to power 8 million homes across the US. 

Check out Project Sunroof here

Barefoot College Solar Trainees Tackle Climate Change and Gender Injustices

Amarmani Oraon, an indigenous woman from the conflict zone of Chhattisgarh in India, learns to make a circuit for a solar lantern. Photo credit: Stella Paul/IPS

Amarmani Oraon, an indigenous woman from the conflict zone of Chhattisgarh in India, learns to make a circuit for a solar lantern. Photo credit: Stella Paul/IPS

In 2002, Magan Kawar left her village for a job – resulting in her being ex-communicated by her in-laws.  

“Women never stepped out of the house alone to go outside of the village and work in the office alongside men was a disgrace. My parents-in-law said I had brought them that disgrace.”

Eight years later, though her formal education never extended past 3rd grade, she is now one of India’s top renewable energy experts and lead instructor at Barefoot College in Tilonia, India – where rural women from across India and the world are trained in solar technology and installation.

The Barefoot College of Tilonia was established by an educationist and environmentalist named Bunker Roy. Roy wanted to build a place where women with little or no formal education could learn livelihood skills and play a leadership role in their communities. The College courses feature many different programs, including sewing, welding, and carpentry, but the most notable is a six-month bi-annual course in solar technology.

The solar program accepts women of 35 years or older mostly from economically or socially underprivileged communities living in area that may have little to no electricity.  Each solar trainee is selected by her own community and sent to the college by their respective governments where they are provided a fellowship by the government of India. This covers their cost of their stay at the college campus, including food and accommodation.

The current group of 30 solar trainees includes women from India, Myanmar, Syria, Mali, Sierra Leone, and Botswana and will be graduating on March 15, 2017. After completing the course, trainees receive $700 to use as seed money for starting their own solar business in their home countries.

Many of the women taking part in the training come from conflictzones and countries with social and economic injustices. Hala Naseef and Azhar Sarhan are from Damascus, Syria – where power outages are frequent and many live in fear of a grid collapse. Solar is not popular there, but it is possible that it will become the only source of power if the war does not end soon. “I miss home and the food…but to see other women who have come from difficult places, we forget our own struggle,” says Naseef.

As for Magan Kawar, who was disowned by her in-laws and went on to become a core teacher at the Barefoot College, she invited her in-laws to visit the college in person. “They came, saw me teaching and my mother-in-law said, ‘but it is just women educating each other!’ That day, she welcomed me back into the family”.

The City of Lancaster Passes "Zero Net Energy Ordinance"

 

The city of Lancaster, CA recently passed the Zero Net Energy Ordinance - an ordinance requiring all new homes to be built with rooftop solar systems already in place. 

Previously, a bill passed in 2014 requiring all new homes to feature small scale rooftop PV systems. Lancaster, a city well known for being a pioneer in the solar industry, decided to set the bar even higher than before by requiring new residences to be built with a solar rooftop system capable of generating 2 watts per square foot. 

“The Zero Net Energy Home Ordinance expands upon Lancaster’s residential solar ordinance so that new homes built in Lancaster now will not only be environmentally friendly, but have a zero net impact on our environment, while reducing energy costs for the homeowners,” said Republican Mayor R. Rex Parris in a statement. “This is a great stride in Lancaster’s journey to become a Zero Net City.”

Before the Zero Net Energy Home Ordinance takes effect, there are a couple hurdles to jump. First, a feasibility study, projected to close in April, must conclude. Second, Lancaster will seek approval from the CA Energy Commission. Pending the success of those two projects, the ordinance is scheduled to take effect before the close of 2017.

The advantage of the ordinance? The price of the system is included in the price of the home. A homeowner’s monthly mortgage would increase slightly, but the system would pay for itself without the hassle of dealing with the research, price comparisons, warranties, contractors, inspectors, etc.

The city of Lancaster is instrumental in making renewable energy more accessible to home owners and the general population – in line with the legislation that was filed in the state of California that mandates 50% of its energy be from renewable sources by 2025 (and 100% by 2045).  Sponsors of the pending law claim that the current legislation, which calls for 50% of all energy be renewable by 2030, is not enough. The passing of this law would make CA one of the most ambitious climate conscious states in the nation.

What can you do to help encourage CA in our mission to be a pioneer in the solar and renewable energy industry? Call your state representative and tell them you are in support of Bill SB584 & that climate change and renewable energy is an important issue to Californians.  

Find your local representative here.

Read the original article here.

Highlights from The Solar Jobs Census 2016

The Solar Foundation's National Solar Jobs Census is considered one of the most credible reviews of the solar workforce in the U.S. The report focuses on current employment, trends, and projected growth in the U.S. solar industry. Check below for report highlights!

  • One out of every 50 new jobs added in the United States in 2016 was created by the solar industry, representing 2% of all new jobs.
  • Solar jobs in the United States have increased at least 20% per year for the last four years, and have nearly tripled since the first Solar Jobs Census was released in 2010.
  • Over the next 12 months, employers surveyed expect to see total solar industry employment increase by 10% to 286,335 solar workers.
  • In 2016, the five states with the most solar jobs were California, Massachusetts, Texas, Nevada, and Florida. 

Read the original article and get the full report here.

Instead of Building A Wall, Let's Build A Solar Border!

President Trump claims he will build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, in order to keep illegal immigrants out. Concerns have been raised over what exactly that would accomplish. Is it the wisest use of our tax dollars? What effect will it have on relations between us and our neighbor country?

Homero Aridjis, poet and environmentalist, and James Ramey, professor at Metropolitan Autonomous University and documentary producer are asking another question: what if instead of building a wall, we built a “solar border”? What if the solar border could provide solar to both countries at an affordable rate, could alleviate environmental burdens, safen borders, and repair possibly damaged relations between the US and Mexico? Some reasoning on their concept:

-         Sunlight in the northern deserts of Mexico is more intense than in the US due to lower latitude and better cloud formations.

-         Construction and maintenance costs for solar are substantially cheaper in Mexico.

-         Power generated from these plants could power cities on both sides faster and more cheaply than similar arrays built north of the border.

-         The U.S./Mexico border is almost 2000 miles long

- Solar plants planted on the southern border could immediately benefit San Diego, Tijuana, Mexicali, Tucson, Phoenix, El Paso, Ciudad Juarez, San Antonio, Monterrey, etc.

- Depending on quantity of arrays, it’s plausible to expect sufficient energy would be produced to also supply Los Angeles, La Vegas, Albuquerque, Dallas, and Houston.

-         Given the recent news that solar energy is already being generated at lower prices than those of coal, this would be an excellent way to produce cheaper and cleaner energy than many others.

-         The grid could extend to the coasts, where energy produced could power desalination plants to produce fresh water, which could be pumped inland and to the CA central coast. Funneling water to the California Central Coast (where much of U.S. produce is grown) would alleviate drought effects, which has affected the area for many years.  

-         A solar “border” would also provide security to the areas around the solar plant, making it more difficult to traffick drugs, arms, and people in the area.

-         The plant would create construction and tech jobs for both countries, which could absorb a significant number of migrant workers.

In short, investing in solar along the US/Mexico border would be an investment in our future with great benefit to both countries and indeed the global battle against climate change. Here's to hoping we can approach more ideas like this with an open mind!

Read the original article here.