When EPA Is Under Threat, So Is Business: Two Key Examples

By EDF Blogs

(This post first appeared on EDF+Business. It was written by EDF’s Liz Delaney)

American businesses benefit tremendously from the robust voluntary and regulatory programs of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These programs are now under threat of massive budget cuts and regulatory rollbacks.  In the coming weeks and months, the experts at EDF+Business will examine what a weakened EPA means for business. 

While some politicians may question the reality of climate change, most CEOs do not. So it’s no surprise that while Congress has been stuck, business has been busy addressing the problem. Luckily, they’ve had a helpful partner by their side: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Contrary to now head of the EPA Scott Pruitt’s claim that business has been subjected to “regulatory uncertainty”—stated during this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference—the Agency has administered a number of voluntary and regulatory programs that help corporations respond to the challenge of climate change. For companies, future planning is simply good business. This is why many in  Corporate America—having long accepted that climate change is real— are continuing to transition towards low-carbon energy options and work with the EPA to move forward in a sensible, cost-effective manner.

But with the recent announcement on Pruitt’s plans to cut the EPA’s budget by a reported 24 percent—roughly $6 billion, its lowest since the mid-1980’s–it may be up to the business community to defend the instrumental role of the Agency in helping business thrive while protecting the environment.

Here’s a look at just two of the many EPA programs that have helped business transition to a clean energy future.

Forging a smart economic future with the Clean Power Plan

Many in the business community strongly supported the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP)—the first-ever national limits on carbon pollution from power plants. The argument? Dirty sources of energy generation are becoming a growing concern for corporate America. These energy sources are increasingly uneconomic. Fortune 500 companies routinely set renewable energy and emissions reduction goals, but find roadblocks in many energy markets around the country.

Fortunately, the CPP can open new opportunities for businesses interested in operating in a clean energy economy. The rule’s flexible framework puts states in the driver’s seat to set plans that call for the most appropriate and cost-effective solutions for meeting pollution reduction targets while spurring innovation. If you ask me, this satisfies Pruitt’s call to “restore federalism” by giving states more of a say in regulations. The plans provide clarity on the energy options available to businesses in different regions, helping to inform their long-term carbon reduction strategies and eventually increase access to cost-effective low-carbon energy.

This explains why last year major innovators including Mars, IKEA, Apple, Google, and Microsoft filed legal briefs in federal court supporting the EPA’s Plan. And more recently, leading executives from over 760 companies and investors—many of them Fortune 500 firms—called upon the new Administration to move ahead with policies to address climate change, like the Clean Power Plan.

The CPP is positioned to:

  • Generate $155 billion in consumer savings between 2020-2030
  • Create 3x as many jobs per $1 invested in clean energy as compared to $1 invested in fossil fuels
  • Lead to climate and health benefits worth an estimated $54 billion, including avoiding 3,600 premature deaths in 2030

The Green Power Partnership

The Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program launched by the EPA to increase the use of renewable electricity in the U.S. Under the program, businesses are armed with resources and provided technical support to identify the types of green power products that best meet their goals. Since its inception, the Partnership has made notable progress in addressing market barriers to green power procurement.

Through the Partnership, companies can reduce their carbon footprints, increase cost savings, and demonstrate civic leadership, which further drives customer, investor and stakeholder loyalty. Take Colgate-Palmolive for example: as one of the Green Power Partnership’s national top 100, the consumer products giant has generated close to 2 billion kWh of annual green power through wind power alone. This represents 80% of the company’s total electricity use.

Today, hundreds of Partner organizations rely on billions of kWh of green power annually. At the end of 2015, over 1,300 Partners were collectively using more than 30 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually, equivalent to the electricity use of more than three million average American homes.

Pruitt has ratified the belief that we can “grow jobs, grow the economy while being good stewards of the environment”–and he’s right. The renewable energy industry is now outpacing the rest of the U.S. in job creation; which is good news for business and the economy at large. American wind power now supports more than 100,000 jobs—an increase of 32% in just one year—and solar employs more people in U.S. electricity generation than oil, coal and gas combined.

Long-term economics versus short-term politics

We don’t know what will happen in Washington over the next few years. But many businesses are moving forward. Rather than shift course, corporations are increasing investments in clean, reliable power, a move that is consistent with sound business practices.

But business can’t do it alone. The EPA supports responsible companies who have committed to reducing their carbon footprints while safeguarding our planet. It’s time for business to not just leverage their scale and buying power to help accelerate the transition to a clean energy future, but to speak up in favor of maintaining a well-funded agency that continues to make decisions based on sound science and the law.

In his first address to the EPA, Scott Pruitt said, “you can’t lead unless you listen.” Let’s make sure he hears from the businesses that are focused on a future where both the economy and the environment can thrive.

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Trump’s interior secretary reverses ban on lead ammo on national wildlife refuges as his first official act

Hunters and anglers deposit tens of thousands of tons of lead in our environment, and it is estimated that between 10 and 20 million birds and other animals die each year from lead poisoning.  Above, an eastern screech owl with lead poisoning being cared for at one of our wildlife care centers.

Hunters and anglers deposit tens of thousands of tons of lead in our environment, and it is estimated that between 10 and 20 million birds and other animals die each year from lead poisoning. Above, an eastern screech owl with lead poisoning being cared for at one of our wildlife care centers. Photo by Cassie Langtry/The HSUS

So much for sober-minded consultation, careful study of the data, and thoughtful analysis from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists and other experts on his staff. Before the chair in his office was even warm, and just after he dismounted from his horse, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke undid a director’s order to phase out the . . . 

The post Trump’s interior secretary reverses ban on lead ammo on national wildlife refuges as his first official act appeared first on A Humane Nation.

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Keeping America Great: Smart Rules Can Help The Economy And Nature Prosper

By Diane Regas

Barely a month after his inauguration, President Trump is proceeding with plans to dismantle protections under the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.  The targets include limiting pollution into streams and wetlands that flow into drinking water for a hundred million Americans, automobile fuel economy standards that cut tailpipe pollution, and performance standards under the Clean Power Plan that would boost renewable power and fight climate change.  Trump and his EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, have drawn up reckless plans to slash EPA’s budget—greeted with derision even by some Republicans in Congress.  With the tragic story of Flint still fresh in people’s minds, the President is betraying the demands of his own supporters — fully 64% of Trump voters want to maintain or increase spending on environmental protection.

These actions are a tragic wrong turn for the country — and not just because they threaten to roll back decades of progress on air and water pollution, and the recent steps forward on climate change.

What I especially worry about are the lost opportunities for economic growth, new jobs, and the competitiveness of American companies — at a time when China and others are stepping up.

I think we can all agree that America is great in part because of our huge capacity for innovation — from Henry Ford to Elon Musk. But sadly, the new administration fails to understand that affirmative government policy has a crucial role to play in keeping the engine of innovation healthy and humming. In fact, during my decades of working under six different EPA administrators, almost all of them Republicans, I’ve seen first-hand the ability of smart regulations to unleash the enormous power of American ingenuity and entrepreneurship.

Keeping America Great: Smart Rules Can Help The Economy And Nature Prosper
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Smart rules — focused on results, not process — stimulate new ideas, create new markets and jobs, and raise living standards for all Americans. The limits imposed on pollution spewing from auto exhaust pipes not only cleaned the air and improved health, for example, they also spurred new technologies that increase fuel efficiency. As a result, Americans save money every time they pull up to the gas pump (though these benefits are threatened by the plans to roll back fuel economy standards). Similarly, protecting the ozone layer drove the development of new refrigerants, bringing higher profits for the innovative companies that paved the way to the new products.

But don’t take my word for it.

Clean states

“I refused to gamble on the energy diversity options.” — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner

Listen instead to Bruce Rauner, the Republican governor of Illinois. Rauner recently signed a bipartisan bill that requires utilities in the state to generate 25% of their electricity from clean renewable sources like wind and solar by 2025 and to significantly boost the efficiency of energy use in homes and businesses. The mandates are good for the planet, of course, because they will cut the state’s emissions of climate change-causing greenhouse gases even more than would be required under Obama’s Clean Power Plan. And far from killing the economy, they will entice more than $10 billion in new investment dollars into the state and save people money on their electric bills. “I refused to gamble on thousands of good-paying jobs, and I refused to gamble on the energy diversity options for the people of Illinois,” Rauner told the Chicago Sun-Times. “That’s why I fought to make this bill happen.”

Clean grid

These regulations are stimulating the economy by creating high-paying jobs in construction and in manufacturing.

Or consider a seemingly arcane change in rules by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) about how transmission grid operators are paid to manage power fluctuations on the grid. The rule change has already spurred competition and made it cheaper (and more effective) to rely on batteries instead of ramping up gas generators — and helped fuel a whole new business in large-scale battery storage. Now, that industry is being truly kick-started by regulatory mandates, first in California, then in Oregon and Massachusetts, requiring that hundreds of megawatts of storage be added to the grid. This support in the early phase will help make battery storage competitive everywhere. These regulations are crucial weapons in the fight against climate change. But just as important, they are stimulating the economy by creating high-paying jobs in construction and in manufacturing facilities like Tesla’s battery gigafactory. As California Governor Jerry Brown says: “Regulation inspires innovation.

Clean cars

I’ve been fortunate to personally benefit from such innovations. Pacific Gas and Electric is paying me to use my electric car as flexible power storage on their grid. PG&E and BMW have teamed up in a pilot project to test how to use plugged-in electric vehicles to meet short spikes in the supply of clean power. The utility saves money on power plants, can build-in more renewables, and will pay owners like me up to $900 over the two-year program. I’m also thrilled by the many advantages of the car itself: peppy acceleration, whisper-quiet operation, and low maintenance costs.

Clean tech

Breathtaking innovation in sensors, artificial intelligence, and advanced materials can thrive because the US creates the right environment. But an ideologically blinded attack on all government funding and regulation will create uncertainty and smother innovation that we desperately need. More than ever, we urgently need to protect the environment and slow climate change with smart investments and standards that also increase prosperity for all Americans. “The key is designing policies that point the way forward while creating a wide playing field for innovators to develop the best solutions,” says Anthony (Tony) F. Earley, Jr., Executive Chair of the Board of PG&E Corporation.

Global momentum

China is creating the world’s largest carbon emissions trading system.

Other countries understand this urgency. China is creating the world’s largest carbon emissions trading system, harnessing the power of the free market to fuel innovation and find the cheapest and best approaches to cutting carbon pollution.  In a powerful symbolic move, China just announced a competition to develop key market infrastructure — on the Friday before the National People’s Congress.

Countries like Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway are already far ahead of us in shares of renewable power or electric cars and are reaping the resulting economic benefits from their homegrown innovations and world-leading companies. Eliminating the rules that have been successful in stimulating clean energy advances here in America will only put us further behind.

With the right smart regulations and policies, we can protect our cherished clean air and clean water and stabilize the climate. And at the same time, we will also keep America great.

This article originally appeared on Forbes.

Photo source: Grid Alternatives

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