Cockfighters defy the law, and on national television no less

It’s a felony to fight birds, to transport birds for fighting purposes, to possess birds for fighting, to sell cockfighting implements, and to bring a minor to a cockfight. It’s a federal misdemeanor to be a spectator at an animal fight.

It’s a felony to fight birds, to transport birds for fighting purposes, to possess birds for fighting, to sell cockfighting implements, and to bring a minor to a cockfight. It’s a federal misdemeanor to be a spectator at an animal fight. Photo by Meredith Lee/The HSUS

I am used to the nattering and claptrap of people who try to justify or excuse their acts of animal cruelty. They may dress it up as some kind of tradition, a personal right or freedom, a sort of social norm, or even an economic necessity. In addition to offering up their particular set of . . . 

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My interview with conservative thought leader Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute

Never make your first point about economic efficiency or consumer choice; make it about our ethical responsibilities to live well and avoid causing unnecessary pain to vulnerable creatures, says Arthur Brooks.

Never make your first point about economic efficiency or consumer choice; make it about our ethical responsibilities to live well and avoid causing unnecessary pain to vulnerable creatures, says Arthur Brooks. Photo by iStockphoto

On this blog, I write about urgent battles for animals, answer the critics and adversaries of animal protection, and comment on trends and major news in the world of animal protection. But I also see this as a platform for big thinkers who associate themselves with animal protection and the values that undergird it. On . . . 

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California-Quebec carbon market participants appear to wait for future auctions and more information

By Erica Morehouse

California cap and trade, renewable energy

California’s Alta Wind Energy Center, Image Source: flickr

Carbon auction results released today show low demand for California’s carbon allowances in the first carbon auction of 2017, with only 18% of allowances selling.

The results say more about the many milestones that are ahead for the cap-and-trade program rather than anything about the cap-and-trade program’s core function of reducing overall emissions.

Results from the February 22 auction show:

  • The auction offered more than 65 million current vintage allowances (available for 2016 or later compliance) and sold about 11.6 million. Most of these allowances were utility-held allowances and some were from the province of Quebec. No ARB current allowances sold.
  • Almost 10 million future allowances were offered that will not be available for use until 2020 or later; a little over 600,000 of those allowances sold.
  • This means only about $8 million was raised for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.

Why cap and trade is working

Auction results themselves cannot tell us whether cap-and-trade is “working.” Though selling most allowances offered at stable prices at or above the minimum or floor price is generally a good sign, the reverse does not necessarily indicate that something went wrong with the cap-and-trade program itself. Disappointing auction result could simply be a product of the market’s expectation that more information on which to make an investment decision and plenty of allowances will be available in the future.

The best indicator is whether greenhouse gas emissions are declining.

The best indicator of whether California’s climate policies, including cap and trade, are working is whether greenhouse gas emissions are declining. As we reported in November’s auction blog, all indications suggest California’s policies are reducing emissions.

Another important factor is whether California’s economy continues to thrive as the state implements some of the most ambitious climate policies in the world. Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in 2016, California continued to add jobs faster than the national average, as it has in every year that cap and trade has been in place.

So what explains current low demand

Outstanding litigation brought by the California Chamber of Commerce and others challenging California’s cap-and-trade program design is likely still hampering sales of allowances and negatively affecting the auction, as many participants may be waiting to see how the Court of Appeals rules on the legality of carbon market auctions. Oral Arguments were held in late January and a decision is likely by the end of April.

At the same time, Governor Brown in January asked the Legislature to extend the cap and trade program beyond 2020 with a two-thirds vote; the supermajority vote, also recommended by the independent Legislative Analyst’s Office, could insulate the cap-and-trade program from legal challenges like the one brought by the Chamber. Two bills currently in the Assembly – AB 378 (C. Garcia) and AB 151 (Burke) – could both facilitate the extension of cap and trade and be passed with a two-thirds vote. But we are still early in this process and the market is clearly still waiting to see how the Legislation plays out.

What we can understand from California’s February carbon auction

  • Regulated businesses under the cap-and-trade program will have to purchase a large portion of available allowances in order to comply with the cap-and-trade program requirements. It appears they have just decided to deploy the wait-and-see strategy they utilized in May and August, perhaps hoping for more information perhaps in advance of the next auction.
  • One thing that is different between this auction and the May auction that also saw similarly low demand, allowances prices on the secondary market were quite close to the current floor price of $13.57. This means that entities are still valuing carbon allowances close to the floor price, showing expectations of a steady market in the future, there just wasn’t quite enough demand to soak up all the supply in this auction.
  • The November auction when 88% of allowances sold was the last time participants were able to buy allowances for $12.73 at auction instead of the 2017 floor price of $13.57.  This opportunity for lower cost allowances seems to explain the higher demand in November.
  • Importantly, the ARB allowances that went unsold represent a temporary tightening of the cap. They will not be offered again until two auctions have fully sold all available current allowances. This is an important self-regulating design feature of the cap-and-trade program that helps stabilize prices in the face of inevitable market fluctuations in supply and demand.

What to expect from 2017 auctions

Two major developments this spring may provide more certainty about the post-2020 cap-and-trade program, which we’ve noted before could significantly increase auction demand. First, there will likely be a decision from the appeals court on the California Chamber of Commerce case. There could also be more clarity on the bill or package of bills that could move through the Legislature this year.

The core functions of the cap-and-trade program are operating as intended, reducing carbon emissions while the economy thrives.  But it remains to be seen whether the Legislature will be able to act to provide the highest level of certainty for the cap-and-trade market.

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Running for Your Life: Another Bull Attempts Escape


Queenie over 16 years ago and her great escape – painting by Sue Coe


Maxine thankfully was also roped after only light sedation and again she was run into a yard and had the ability to calm down. She was also much smaller.


Darted and roped- this was done right! Photo by Robert Stridiron


Frank Roped to a tree- already darted twice- and in the end darted 3 times. Photo by Robert Stridiron


Photo by Ellis Kaplan of the recent escapee being chased – already darted too many times.

Running for Your Life: Another Bull Attempts Escape

Last week, yet another bull escaped from a New York City live market — the third in less than 13 months. And people are outraged.

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From left to right: Queenie (rescued August 2000), Maxine (rescued September 2007), Freddie of Skylands Animal Sanctuary and Rescue (rescued January 2016), and Frank (rescued April 2016).

And this bull had a place lined up to go — a chance not only to survive, but to actually live out his life with other cattle and a new family. Upon learning of this bull in need, Mike Stura of New Jersey-based Skylands Animal Sanctuary and Rescue immediately set out for the city, but sadly, this sweet boy — one of millions killed every year for food — was already gone.

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Freddie enjoying life as a free man at Skylands — loving his people and his hay.

For the sake of statistics, more than 18,000 cattle are slaughtered in the U.S. each day. So why is this bull so special? Because he got loose — he was free, and people were rooting for him. People saw him. There are likely others in the same facility — but we saw him, and watched him try. But he still died, and now, for many people shocked and upset by the loss, there seems to be the need to blame someone — in many cases, the police — but is that really fair?

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The most handsome face of the now sweetest boy, Frank. Although he attempted to hurt people during his escape, he has been a perfect gentleman since his arrival at Farm Sanctuary.

I, too, watched the live video online and did the same thing: I screamed at the computer — “Stop chasing him!” “They hit him too many times with the darts!” “You’re going to kill him!” 

And they did. But even a bull as young as this one was could easily have
killed someone else — because he was running for his life. The police are not hired to protect and serve cattle — many will eat a burger after work. They are hired to protect people.

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Queenie is one of our smallest cows and was an adult when she arrived — although she was the size of a calf. Here, she demonstrates that even an 800-pound girl like herself can cause damage — serious damage.

So are the police officers who tranquilized him alone to blame? Should all 32,000 potential police officers in New York City be trained to properly tranquilize bulls? Again — they are hired to protect people.

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One of my favorite things about those who have escaped slaughter is that they are drawn to each other. Here, Queenie and Cinci Freedom spend time together enjoying sanctuary life. 

Cattle are prey animals, and they have a fight-or-flight response. Bulls and cows brought to the live markets are originally from farms, where they
spend their time with their bovine family and herd outside grazing. A very
few of them are shipped into New York live markets; most are sold at auctions and slaughtered elsewhere. 

This bull was likely not the only bull,
cow, sheep, goat, chicken, duck, etc., who died that day in a Queens slaughterhouse. And he was scared. Even when we have to sedate our friendliest, calmest steers at sanctuary, we walk away after the sedative drugs are given — we don’t chase them or even hang out around them, so that they will feel safe and go to sleep.

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Maxine disguising herself as a powdered doughnut. 

So let’s look at other cases in which animals lost their lives in recent years. Many animal lovers placed the blame on those whose decisions, in the end, led to the animals losing their lives. But are they really to blame?

1. Many blamed the zookeepers and the mother of the child who fell into the exhibit in the 2016 case that ended tragically with the death of the magnificent gorilla Harambe at the Cincinnati Zoo. But was the blame only theirs? Again, I don’t think so.

2. I vividly remember the 2011 case of Ohio resident Terry Thompson, who threw open the cages of his private exotic animal collection before committing suicide. Police, having no method to tranquilize these animals, ended up killing 48 of them. There was an outcry against the officers, who were accused of being trigger-happy — but was that really the cause of this tragedy?

3. In 2010, a very pregnant Holstein cow in a birthing tent, where visitors to the California State Fair can witness the miracle of birth, escaped. Because she was unable to be knocked down with tranquilizers, she was shot and killed.

4. Just last year, another fairground-escapee bovine ran over a police officer and a teenager, and was shot and killed.

5. And then there are these cases of escaped cattle killed who were not even given a chance, and were instead shot:

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The Queen — our first live-market escapee, Queenie, is still with us more than 16 years after her dash for freedom.

Multiple times each year, cattle are shot down to avoid injury to people in areas where they escape. And just a few weeks ago, a steer escaped, but was recaptured. This happens, too, and the ending is far worse for the animal: being returned to the slaughterhouse. 

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Cinci Freedom was always aware when humans were near, and like so many escapees, did not ever fully become comfortable with humans.  

So when thinking about this most recent case, as in the endless other cases, perhaps stepping back and looking at the big picture is the only way to fairly assess why these beings died.

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Frank’s first week in the herd.  

The bottom line is this: Gorillas should not be captive in zoos — they
should live in their jungle homes with their families. They are in zoos because people pay money to
come and see them.  

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Big girl Maxine with her people. The one in the right rear is Queenie.  

Private citizens should not be allowed to obtain exotic cats and dangerous wild animals. A small Ohio town (or any town) is not equipped to rescue that many loose and potentially deadly animals in one night.  

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Frank and his new family — and new best friends. From front to back: Frank, Nik, Dennis, and Chandini.

And animals should not be put on display — especially a vulnerable, pregnant mother ready to give birth. Of course she ran — she was afraid. 

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The beautiful Maxine! Although she has never become close to people, she loves her cattle family. 

And the bottom line in this sad case: This bull should not have been in the
city. We mourn the loss of this and all beings whose lives are cut short, who go unnoticed and who never get the chance to really live. R.I.P., sweet boy. 

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Stateside shelters help attack mass euthanasia, other animal problems in Puerto Rico

The stateside partners in the Sister Shelter Project will visit shelters in Puerto Rico to lift them up and professionalize their operations. Above, a rescued cat at Canita Sanctuary in Guayama, Puerto Rico.

The stateside partners in the Sister Shelter Project will visit shelters in Puerto Rico to lift them up and professionalize their operations. Above, a rescued cat at Canita Sanctuary in Guayama, Puerto Rico. Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo/AP Images for The HSUS

We launched our Humane Puerto Rico program two years ago because animals are in crisis in this long-neglected, populous part of the United States. One fact, among all others, stared us in the face: some shelters in the Commonwealth had a euthanasia rate of 95 percent. There was a broad recognition that if an animal . . . 

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EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory Makes Progress but Misses Forest for Trees

By David Lyon

In its draft 2017 GHG inventory, published this week, the EPA estimates methane emissions from the oil and gas industry were lower than their previous estimate in the 2016 inventory.

The vast majority of the decrease comes from methodological changes in how EPA does these estimates and does not represent actual reductions from improved industry practices. We expect to see fluctuation in EPA estimates in future inventories as the agency continues to revise their accounting methods; this inventory should be viewed as the final answer. But, to see the actual trend in emissions, you should compare 2015 emissions to their updated estimate of 2014 emissions, not the estimate from last year’s inventory. EPA estimates a mere 2% reduction in actual emissions, largely attributable to reduced drilling activity and well completions, which is a result of lower oil and gas prices in 2015. This points to the importance of recently enacted regulations, like the EPA NSPS and BLM rule, to drive the much greater reductions needed to minimize waste and the climate impacts of oil and gas.

What about super-emitters?

While the draft inventory represents progress in that EPA is continuing the process of incorporating new data such as the EPA Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, much work remains to be done.  For example, the inventory still largely ignores “super-emitters,” which science has shown to be a major source of emissions. EPA has made an important step by including emissions from the Aliso Canyon blowout, but they exclude other transmission and storage super-emitters, which an EDF/CSU study found to account for almost a quarter of the T&S sector’s emissions. They also have started to account for production super-emitters by including estimates of emissions from stuck dump valves, but the underlying data for this source are flawed and likely greatly underestimate emissions. EPA’s current estimate of production super-emitters only account for 0.2% of production sector emissions.

In contrast, our recent paper in Nature Communications found that super-emitters account for one-third of well pad emissions in the Barnett Shale. Although the science supports some of EPA’s revisions that emissions from individual sources like processing plants have lower emissions than previously estimated, if they had fully accounted for super-emitters, those emissions would have more than offset the paper reductions reflected in the current draft. It is important to see the forest for the trees: emissions may be lower for some sources, but you’re not seeing the true magnitude of total emissions if you ignore the biggest emitters.

What’s next?

In order for EPA to continue their progress in updating the inventory, it is critical that they are allowed to rely on the best science without political interference. We must not be misled by interest groups who claim that the updated inventory is the final answer because it gives the false impression of a large emissions decrease. As a start, EPA should continue collecting data from the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program and Information Collection Request, assure the data is publicly available, and make scientifically supported changes to the GHGRP to increase the accuracy of reported emissions. EPA should also review existing and forthcoming studies that evaluate the contribution of super-emitters and determine the best approach for fully incorporating super-emitters into the inventory.

EPA is accepting comments on the draft inventory until March 17 and plans to release a final inventory by April 15.

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Lowering Desalination’s Energy Footprint: Lessons from Israel

By Kate Zerrenner

Kate Zerrenner and Leon Kaye of Triple Pundit tasting desalinated water at Sorek.

There’s an old expression that whisky is for drinking and water is for fighting over. The Legislative Session is upon us again in Texas, and count on water being an issue, as it always is in this drought and flood-prone state.

To start, this Session will see the approval of the 2017 State Water Plan (SWP), which is done in five-year cycles. In the five years since the last plan, Texas has gone from the throes of a devastating drought to historic flooding, which resulted in some reservoirs being full for the first time in 15 years.

Moreover, as more people move to Texas and climate change advances, there will be greater strain on the state’s water supplies. According to the SWP, Texas is already in a tighter situation than it was just five years ago: Surface water and groundwater availability will be 5 percent lower in 2060 compared to predictions in the 2012 plan, and existing water supplies are expected to drop by 11 percent between 2020 and 2070. Where are we supposed to get the water we need?

One place we could look to for ideas is Israel, which relies heavily on desalination – or the process of removing salt from water – to meet its needs. During Session, there will likely be calls to implement and fund desalination projects in Texas, which can help ensure water supplies in the future. But we need to take a page from Israel’s book, and create plans and policies that are thoughtful about reducing the technology’s energy footprint.

Cutting desal costs in Israel

Sixty percent of Israel is desert, and the rest is semiarid. (Texas, in comparison, is about 10 percent desert.) The harsh, dry climate means ensuring water supplies is a top priority, and as a result Israel gets up to 75 percent of its potable water from desalination. To put that into perspective, the entire state of Texas currently produces about 123 million gallons per day with desalination, or roughly 465,606 cubic meters per day. The Sorek Desalination Plant outside Tel Aviv, one of many in the country, alone produces about 624,000 cubic meters per day/ 164 MGD.


Lowering Desalination’s Energy Footprint: Lessons from Israel
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I recently toured the Sorek plant, the largest desal plant in the world, which provides about 20 percent of Israel’s potable water. One of the things that struck me, other than the sheer size, was how energy was a front-and-center concern. Since desal plants need constant power – and a lot of it – energy is by far the most expensive part of running the plant. Groundwater desal is highly energy-intensive, and seawater even more so – power is estimated at about half of seawater desal plants’ entire operating costs.

Kate Zerrenner and Leon Kaye of Triple Pundit standing in a desalination pipe at Sorek.

Three tactics help ease these costs and maintain plant reliability:

  • On-site power generation: Two of the other biggest plants in Israel are located next to power plants, which means less energy lost during transmission and distribution, as well as greater reliability. One of those, Hadera, is located near a gas-fired power plant, which requires significantly less water than coal. Israel could further cut desal’s water footprint by installing no-water resources like wind turbines or solar panels on-site, as Texas is trying to do.
  • Energy efficiency: Israel is home to the two most energy-efficient desal facilities in the world: Hadera and Sorek, respectively. Sorek looks to reduce its energy consumption at every step of the process, like its energy recovery system, which captures energy from the brine stream that would have otherwise been wasted and uses it to power pumps. Unfortunately, U.S. desal plants tend to be behind the tech curve because the approval process takes so long. With a robust, more streamlined approvals process and newer technology, American plants could maximize efficiency as Israel does.
  • Taking advantage of smart pricing: Israel has variable electricity rates, meaning they change depending on the season, day of the week, and time of day. Sorek negotiated a lower electricity rate in exchange for participating in the demand response program – in this case, agreeing to do the most production at night when both electric demand and prices are lower. In fact, Sorek was built to be responsive to peak demand: It can change its operating capacity from 30 to 120-percent production in less than five minutes, in response to the electricity rate. Moreover, by enabling customers to alter their energy-use based on peak demand and pricing, Israel’s entire electric grid benefits from greater stability. Leveraging demand response could help desalination in Texas and other states that deal with drought, like California, be more energy- and water-efficient.

Desal in Texas

So, what does all this mean for Texas? In his recent book, Let There Be Water, Seth M. Siegel writes about how native Texan Lyndon B. Johnson shared former Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s approach to water. Ben-Gurion saw the promise of desal and LBJ seemed to view the technology as the future for ensuring America’s water supplies, especially in dry areas like his own beloved Texas Hill Country. Today, Texas is home to the largest inland desal facility in the world, the Kay Bailey Hutchison Desalination Plant

“Desalination is turning the water issue from a zero-sum game to a win-win.”

LBJ may have been the first Texas proponent of desal, but he certainly is not the last. IDE, the company behind Sorek (and the new Carlsbad facility in San Diego), opened an office in Austin a few years ago to look for potential sites in the state. Further, Governor Greg Abbott, recently paid a visit to Sorek, and many legislators who understand the importance of safeguarding water supplies are supportive of desal.

In the SWP 2017, about 2.7 percent of the proposed supply strategies are for desalination. That’s a relatively small percentage, but it translates to a giant energy footprint. When it comes to desal, Texas leaders need to understand that using low-water energy sources like solar and wind is important, energy efficiency is critical, and having smart energy policy that supports a more flexible grid – like Israel’s variable pricing – rounds it out.

As Texas embarks on another round of figuring out how to solve our water woes, we could take a lesson from Israel. The country has figured out how to maximize desalination’s potential, while minimizing its energy footprint. As Uri Ginott of EcoPeace Middle East said, “Desalination is turning the water issue from a zero-sum game to a win-win. Every drop doesn’t have to come at the expense of another.” When we live in a typically dry place that’s only expected to get drier, being comprehensive about our water solutions sets us all up to win.

Editor’s note: Kate was a guest of Vibe Israel, a non-profit organization leading a tour called Vibe Eco Impact in December 2016, which explores sustainability initiatives in Israel.

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EPA Has the Responsibility and the Tools to Address Climate Pollution Under the Clean Air Act

By Tomas Carbonell

(EDF Attorney Ben Levitan co-authored this post)

It’s barely a week since Scott Pruitt was confirmed as EPA Administrator, and he has already provided yet another indication of why he has no business leading the agency.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Pruitt says he wants to undertake a “careful review” as to whether EPA has the “tools” to address climate change under the Clean Air Act. Pruitt further states that EPA should withdraw the Clean Power Plan – a vital climate and public health measure to reduce carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants – and instead wait for Congress to act on the issue of climate change.

Those statements are contrary to the law and disconnected from reality. As Pruitt surely knows, the federal courts – including three separate decisions of the Supreme Court – have made it abundantly clear that the Clean Air Act requires EPA to protect the public from dangerous pollutants that are disrupting our climate. The courts have repeatedly rejected Pruitt’s theory that climate pollution is an issue that only Congress can address through new legislation.

Over the last eight years, EPA has demonstrated that the Clean Air Act is an effective tool for addressing the threat of climate change — by putting in place common sense, highly cost-effective measures to reduce climate pollution from cars and trucks, power plants, oil and gas facilities, and other sources. These actions under the Clean Air Act are saving lives, strengthening the American economy, and yielding healthier air and a safer climate for our children.

Pruitt’s casual willingness to abandon that progress based on a discredited legal theory demonstrates deep contempt for the laws he is charged with administering and the mission of the agency he now leads.

EPA Is Legally Obligated to Address Climate Pollution

The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that EPA clearly has the authority and responsibility to address climate pollution under the Clean Air Act:

  • In Massachusetts v. EPA (549 U.S. 497, 2007), the Supreme Court held that climate pollutants plainly fall within the broad definition of “air pollutants” covered by the Clean Air Act. The Court ordered EPA to make a science-based determination as to whether those pollutants endanger public health and welfare (a determination that EPA ultimately made in 2009, and that has been upheld by the federal courts).
  • In American Electric Power v. Connecticut (564 U.S. 410, 2011), the Supreme Court held that the Clean Air Act “speaks directly” to the problem of climate pollution from power plants.
  • In Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA (134 S. Ct. 2427, 2014), the Supreme Court held that the Clean Air Act obligated EPA to address climate pollution from new and modified industrial facilities.

In Massachusetts v. EPA, the Bush Administration’s EPA made — and the Supreme Court rejected —Pruitt’s same argument that EPA lacks the authority and tools to address climate pollution.

The Supreme Court said in no uncertain terms that:

The statutory text forecloses EPA’s reading … Because greenhouse gases fit well within the Clean Air Act’s capacious definition of ‘air pollutant,’ we hold that EPA has the statutory authority to regulate the emission of such gases from new motor vehicles. (emphasis added)

The Supreme Court went on to explain that – contrary to what Pruitt is now saying – Congress intended to provide EPA with the tools it needed to address new air pollution challenges, including climate change:

While the Congresses that drafted [the Clean Air Act] might not have appreciated the possibility that burning fossil fuels could lead to global warming, they did understand that without regulatory flexibility, changing circumstances and scientific developments would soon render the Clean Air Act obsolete. The broad language [of the Act] reflects an intentional effort to confer the flexibility necessary to forestall such obsolescence. (emphasis added)

The Court also found that nothing about climate pollution distinguishes it from other forms of air pollution long regulated under the Clean Air Act. It rejected the Bush Administration’s attempt to argue that climate pollution is somehow “different,” saying that theory was a “plainly unreasonable” reading of the Clean Air Act and “finds no support in the text of the statute.”

That was the law under the Bush Administration – and it remains the law today. It is a binding, rock-solid precedent regardless of who is running EPA at any given time.

Pruitt ought to know all this, because he was one of the Attorneys General who joined polluters and their allies in challenging EPA’s determination that climate pollution endangers public health and welfare.

That 2009 determination was in response to Massachusetts v. EPA, and it was based on an immense body of authoritative scientific literature as well as consideration of more than 380,000 public comments. Yet in their legal challenge to the determination, Pruitt and his allies again argued that EPA should have declined to make an endangerment finding based on the supposed difficulty of regulating climate pollution under the Clean Air Act.

A unanimous panel of the D.C. Circuit rejected those claims, finding that:

These contentions are foreclosed by the language of the statute and the Supreme Court’s decision in Massachusetts v. EPA … the additional exercises [state and industry challengers] would have EPA undertake … do not inform the ‘scientific judgment’ that [the Clean Air Act] requires of EPA … the Supreme Court has already held that EPA indeed wields the authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the CAA. (Coalition for Responsible Regulation v. EPA, 684 F.3d 102, D.C. Cir. 2012, emphasis added)

The Supreme Court did not even regard further challenges to the endangerment finding as worthy of its review. (See Order Denying Certiorari, Sub Nom Virginia v. EPA, 134 S.Ct. 418, 2013)

Pruitt’s suggestion that EPA should stop applying the Clean Air Act’s protections to an important category of pollutants – greenhouse gases – amounts to a repeal of Congress’s core judgment that all air pollutants that cause hazards to human health and the environment need to be addressed under the Clean Air Act. It is an audacious and aggressive effort to alter the Clean Air Act in a way that Congress has never done (and has specifically declined to do when such weakening amendments have been proposed).

EPA Has Established a Strong Record of Successful Climate Protections

Pruitt’s statements also ignore the pragmatic way in which EPA has carried out its legal obligations to address climate pollution. Since Massachusetts v. EPA was decided, EPA has issued common sense, cost-effective measures for major sources of climate pollution – including power plants; cars and trucks; the oil and gas sector; and municipal solid waste landfills.

These actions demonstrate that Pruitt is flatly wrong to suggest that EPA lacks the “tools” to address climate change under the Clean Air Act. They include:

  • The Clean Power Plan will reduce carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, while providing states and power companies with the flexibility to meet their targets through highly cost-effective measures – including shifting to cleaner sources of generation and using consumer-friendly energy efficiency programs that would reduce average household electricity bills by $85 per year. The Clean Power Plan will protect public health too, resulting in 90,000 fewer childhood asthma attacks, 300,000 fewer missed school and work days, and 3,600 fewer premature deaths every year by 2030. The value of these health benefits alone exceeds the costs by a factor of four, and the climate benefits are roughly as large.
  • EPA’s standards for cars and other light-duty vehicles, will save the average American family $8,000 over the lifetime of a new vehicle through reduced fuel costs – while saving 12 billion barrels of oil and avoiding 6 billion metric tons of carbon pollution. A recent analysis by EPA and the U.S. Department of Transportation found that manufacturers are reaching these standards ahead of schedule and at a lower cost than originally anticipated.
  • The most recent Clean Truck Standards, which were finalized in August 2016, will save truck owners a total of $170 billion in lower fuel costs, ultimately resulting in $400 in annual household savings by 2035 – while also reducing carbon pollution by 1.1 billion tons over the life of the program. These benefits are one reason why the Clean Truck Standards have broad support from manufacturers, truck operators, fleet owners and shippers.
  • EPA’s methane emission standards for new and modified oil and gas facilities, finalized in June 2016, will generate climate benefits equivalent to taking 8.5 million vehicles off the nation’s roads – while having minimal impact on industry.

When Scott Pruitt suggests that the Clean Air Act is a poor fit for regulating climate pollution, he overlooks the clear command of the statute, as confirmed repeatedly by the Supreme Court. He also ignores EPA’s successful history of issuing regulations that protect the environment while promoting significant health and economic benefits.

Pruitt might try to distort the truth in an effort to wipe climate protections off the books — subjecting our children and grandchildren to the dire health, security and economic effects of unlimited climate pollution in the process. But the law and the facts are not on his side.

EPA must address climate pollution under the Clean Air Act, and it has the tools to do so effectively.

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