ACTION ALERT: Stop Trump from Gutting Climate Efforts, Clean Car Standards, Solar Energy, Net Energy Metering, Solar Roofs . . .
November 19, 2017
Union of Concerned Scientists & NRDC & Rainforest Action Network & Food and Water Watch
Tell Scott Pruitt to do his job to protect our health and stop ignoring the growing risks from climate change. Push back against Trump's efforts to kill clean car standards that would double the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks. Pressure two of the biggest banks on Wall St. -- JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo -- to say NO to the Keystone XL pipeline. Bombard Trump's Department of Energy with support for solar power.
ACTION ALERT: Tell Scott Pruitt:
We Need Climate Solutions Not Climate Denial
Union of Concerned Scientists
You Can't Delete Climate Change
Climate change is one of the most pressing challenge of our time, yet the newest strategic plan from the EPA doesn't even mention it. Tell EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt that you won't stand by while he ignores the risks from climate change.
This has been a tragic year for extreme weather events. In just the last few months, powerful hurricanes have devastated the Caribbean and the East and Gulf Coasts, and disastrous wildfires and record heat waves have engulfed the American West.
In the aftermath of these disasters, many of you have been asking if global warming is worsening these types of events. The short answer is yes. Warmer oceans can increase hurricane power, warmer air can hold more moisture and cause heavier rainfall, and sea level rise can increase the destructive reach of storm surges. Meanwhile, hotter drier periods in the western United States are contributing to longer, more intense wildfire seasons and heat waves.
Despite the growing risks and costs from climate-related extreme weather events, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt continues to deny the science about human-caused climate change and undermine policies to cut climate emissions, such as the Clean Power Plan and vehicle efficiency and emissions standards.
In fact, the EPA just released a draft of its new strategic plan for FY 2018-2022 and failed to mention climate change even once! How can the EPA plan for the threat of climate change if it won't even say the words? How can Administrator Pruitt claim to be carrying out the mission of his agency -- to protect human health and the environment -- when he ignores one of the most pressing threats to both?
The draft strategic plan is open for public comment through Tuesday, October 31, so please ask Administrator Pruitt these questions directly.
Climate impacts like heat waves, hurricanes, flooding, and wildfires are only expected to intensify in the coming decades. Yet Administrator Pruitt continues to deny scientific facts about human-caused climate change and is attempting to reverse our hard-won national climate policies one by one.
ACTION: Write today to tell Scott Pruitt that leaving climate change out of his strategy is no strategy at all.
Since its inception in 1970, the US Environmental Protection Agency has served a critical role in safeguarding public health for generations of Americans.
In your recent draft of the FY 2018-2022 EPA Strategic Plan, you express a desire to refocus the agency back to its core mission. That mission, as you well know, is to protect human health and the environment.
It is therefore deeply discouraging that in the 38-page draft strategic plan you and your agency have released, there are exactly zero mentions of the words "climate change," "greenhouse gas emissions," or "carbon dioxide."
EPA's own research shows that the earth's climate is changing, extreme climate events -- such as heavy rainfall and heatwaves -- are already occurring, and they are linked to rising global warming emissions from human activities.
In just the last few months, millions of Americans have suffered impacts from a powerful Atlantic hurricane season and widespread wildfires in the American West. To ignore the growing risks from climate change displays a total abdication of leadership in your role as EPA administrator and a failure to carry out the mission of your agency.
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS), founded in 1863 by Congress and President Lincoln to "provid[e] independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology," has stated that "Scientists know that recent climate change is largely caused by human activities."
I demand that you listen to the NAS and your own agency, and that you revise the strategic plan to take climate change science, and the urgent need for climate change action, into account.
Submit your comment to the EPA draft strategic plan today.
ACTION: Keep Clean Car Standards
Stop Trump Administration Rollbacks of
Action Against Climate Pollution from Transportation
Deron Lovaas / NRDC
(November 5, 2017) -- Thousands of NRDC members and activists have been taking action in recent months, pushing back against President Trump's efforts to kill ground-breaking clean car standards. These standards would double the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks and help reduce air pollution and climate-busting emissions.
Note: The deadline for comments has passed. Public comments were due to the DOT by midnight on Monday, November 6th.
Now, the Trump administration is going after an innovative rule under a transportation law called MAP-21. This rule would require transportation agencies to consider how their plans -- building roads, highways, rail-lines, airports, etc. -- would help, or hurt, our climate.
Why are policies like these important? Transportation -- from cars and trucks, to ships, planes and trains -- is now the single largest source of climate change pollution in the U.S. It even surpasses pollution from power plants.
So we need your help again to defend clean transportation action. Tell the Department of Transportation that we need smart programs like the MAP-21 rule so we know how much climate pollution comes from cars, trucks, buses, and trains -- and can plan to curb it.
Tackling pollution from transportation couldn't be more important as we experience an uptick in climate-driven extreme weather, deadly wildfires, and record heat waves. (Fans of the Houston Astros and the L.A. Dodgers even suffered through the hottest World Series game on record!)
Smarter, data-driven transportation not only reduces pollution, but it also helps drive innovation in America. It keeps commuters out of congested traffic, shortens drive-times, gives public transit and cycling a much-needed boost, and even creates new jobs in the growing transportation sector.
But the MAP-21 rule fell victim to President Trump's broader attack on environmental protection and climate action. So NRDC and our partners took the Trump administration to court. In response to our lawsuit, the administration reinstated the rule -- for now.
But now,Trump has a new strategy: repeal the rule altogether, leaving the law toothless to address climate pollution from transportation.
NRDC's legal team is watching closely and is prepared to go to court once again if the Trump administration follows through with its repeal. And our transportation advocacy team is working overtime to stop the DOT from trashing MAP-21.
That's where you come in. The DOT is now accepting public comments on their plans, so we need to flood the agency with emails and letters from people like you concerned about climate change.
From trying to kill clean car standards and the Clean Power Plan, to pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement and trying to force through the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, the Trump administration's attack on climate action runs broad and deep. Weakening MAP-21 is just their latest salvo.
Dear Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao:
I support the MAP-21 requirement that transportation projects supported by the federal government account for climate change pollution. I am very concerned about climate change and its devastating impacts on our environment and the health of families and children. MAP-21 is an important tool for addressing climate change because transportation is now the largest source of climate pollution in America.
I urge you to ensure the Department of Transportation does its part in our country’s effort to address climate change by keeping greenhouse gas measurement and planning requirements in MAP-21 regulations.
So stand up now to curb dangerous carbon pollution from America's cars and trucks, planes, trains, and ships by defending these climate-saving regulations.
Thank you for being a part of this fight,
Deron Lovaas is the Senior Policy Adviser for Urban Solutions at the NRDC.
ACTION ALERT: Don't Bank on Oil
Rainforest Action Network
We have a chance right now to pressure two of the biggest banks on Wall St. to say NO to the Keystone XL pipeline -- JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.
Tar sands oil is one of the dirtiest on the planet -- yet Wall Street banks, like JPMorgan Chase, continue to pour billions into this extreme fossil fuel. This December, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and 17 other major global banks face a crucial choice on Keystone XL, tar sands, Indigenous rights and the climate.
On Dec. 15, two credit facilities totaling $1.5 billion will expire. This is the credit that would allow TransCanada to build the Keystone XL pipeline. It’s up to these banks, with JPMorgan Chase in the lead, to decide whether or not to renew this critical funding.
JPMorgan Chase and the other big banks have a huge decision to make: Will they continue to profit off climate chaos? Will they continue to pour billions into the toxic tar sands oil sector? Will they continue to support projects that trample on Indigenous rights?
Or will they finally do the right thing and say NO to Keystone XL?
Indigenous nations, ranchers, farmers, grassroots leaders and individuals -- from the epicenter of tar sands extraction and along the pipeline route -- have united in opposition to Keystone XL.
The time to turn up the pressure on JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo is now! A crucial decision from the Nebraska Public Service Commission is imminent -- and that could determine the fate of the pipeline. There are three possible scenarios. The commission could reject, reroute or approve the pipeline. But even if the commission rejects the pipeline, TransCanada is likely to appeal. Regardless, TransCanada will need funds to construct KXL.
JPMorgan Chase and Wall Street banks don’t want to be bothered with the inconvenient fact that funding Keystone XL means funding climate chaos and abuse of Indigenous rights. We need to tell them loud and clear: ”Business as usual” created this climate crisis -- and “business as usual” is over!
We need to send a clear message to banks like Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase that the funding of extreme fossil fuels like tar sands is no longer acceptable. We will not tolerate threats to our climate, health, land, and water.
At this year’s international climate conference in Bonn, Germany, countries and corporations are discussing how to put the Paris climate accord into practice. Stopping finance for expansion of tar sands oil would start to put big banks into alignment with climate stability.
Continued funding of extreme fossil fuels means extreme weather. Climate change is not a threat of the future, but a critical challenge that is causing catastrophic impacts around the world and requires immediate action now.
ACTION: Add Your Voice. Tell JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and 17 other global banks to say NO to Keystone XL on December 15.
For Indigenous rights and a climate stable future.
ACTION ALERT: Stop Trump's War on Solar Energy
Food and Water Watch
(October 25, 2017) -- The Trump administration is attacking solar energy. One of the most successful solar policies we've ever seen -- net metering -- is on the chopping block. It's outrageous. Let's bombard Trump's Department of Energy with support for solar. They can't get away with this attack without us putting up fight.
The Department of Energy (DOE) is attacking solar energy through a study aimed at undermining net metering.
Net metering is a commonsense way to make renewable energy more affordable for people to install on or near their homes. It's what allows rooftop solar owners to send energy they don't use back to the grid -- and it's crucial to the growth of solar power in the United States.
As we work to stop disastrous climate change, our government should be doing everything in its power to move this country to 100% renewable energy instead of undercutting the very policies we need to help make that transition possible.
Net metering is a simple, proven way to move the United States in the right direction on energy -- we need to strengthen policies that support solar energy installation, not weaken them.
The fossil fuel industry won't give up without a fight.
Across the country, the Koch Brothers and their allies have worked hard to weaken state net metering laws and continue our ruinous reliance on fossil fuels. We've fought them at the state level, and now we'll take them on nationally.
We need real policies like net metering to keep us moving toward 100% renewable energy.
ACTION: Tell the Department of Energy to stop its attack on solar energy and demand that Trump stops playing politics with solar energy.
Make it clear to the Department of Energy that the era of rampant fossil fuels is over. Help bombard the DoE with comments in support of net metering from people across the country. (Note: Official deadline for public comments was October 30.)
I am writing in response to the DOE Request for Information on the Costs and Benefits of Net Energy Metering, Docket # EERE-2017-OT-0056.
Net metering is an innovative policy that has helped to fuel the recent growth in solar energy by making it more affordable to install.
As the Department of Energy develops policy recommendations on net metering, it is important you use taxpayer money wisely by ensuring robust policy analysis, not biased studies that serve fossil fuel interests.
Any study must take into account net metering's benefits, including the financial, social, public health and environmental benefits of encouraging a rapid transition to renewable energy. The Department should also include an analysis of the ways that net metering policies can help increase access to affordable clean energy in low-income communities.
Excluding these factors in a study of net metering, as the Department of Energy is attempting to do, will not provide an accurate picture of our energy system and will not be helpful in charting the best path forward for our energy future.
Given the anti-renewable energy bias repeatedly shown by the current administration, it is hard not to view this study as an attempt to justify policies to roll back net metering in the United States, and to undermine the growth and benefits of renewable energy. I sincerely hope this is not the case.
Jim Walsh is the Renewable Energy Policy Analyst for Food & Water Watch
Sign-on Letter to Defend Rooftop Solar
The Honorable Rick Perry
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20585
Costs and Benefits of Net Energy Metering: Request for Information; Notice of request for information (RFI)
Dear Secretary Perry:
As the Department of Energy continues to develop policy recommendations, it is important it use taxpayer money wisely by ensuring robust policy analysis, not biased studies that serve the interest of fossil fuel interests, ALEC, and the Koch Brothers.
Given the anti-renewable energy bias shown by the current administration, we view this proposed study as an attempt to undermine the growth and benefits of clean, renewable energy by rolling back net metering in the United States. We hope this is not the case.
Net metering has made it economically possible for homeowners and communities to invest in a more robust distributed solar energy system, while saving money on energy needs. This innovative public policy has helped fuel the acceleration of rooftop solar; if structured properly, it can also foster equitable and rapid development of clean renewable energy. Public policies that support net metering at the retail rate are essential to continuing progress towards a clean energy future.
As the Department makes policy recommendations for net metering, or any matter of our energy future, it must consider avoided costs of climate change and related public health impacts.
The Department should also include an analysis of the ways that net metering policies can help increase access to affordable clean energy in low-income communities. Excluding these factors in a study of net metering, as the Department of Energy is attempting to do, will fail to provide an accurate picture of our energy system.
The Department must include costs and benefits of distributed solar generation beyond distributed solar's impact on net metering, as well as indirect cost/benefits (e.g., societal impacts, network effects) that go beyond what is included in existing analyses.
Limiting the scope of the study in this way, as the Department proposes, will assure that the results are skewed towards policy decisions that will undermine progress toward a renewable energy future and will harm US citizens in years to come.
Distributed generation can reduce cost of energy grids by reducing the need to make costly upgrades to expensive and damaging energy distribution systems. The rise of distributed solar can also “significantly increase the resiliency of the electricity system” according to the Department’s own analysis.
Rooftop solar provides reliable power during the peak, late afternoon demand periods when utilities need it most, reducing the need for costly capacity upgrades and reliance on dirtier fossil fuel “peaker” power plants.
Limitations on Net Metering Hinder Solar Development
Limitations on net metering have throttled the development of renewable energy. In Massachusetts, $78 million in potential solar energy is not being developed because of caps on net metering. In Hawaii, imposition of fixed costs, as well as decreasing rates energy producers receive, resulted in steep declines in solar energy development.
The Nevada Public Utility Commission (PUC) allowed utilities to triple rooftop solar fees, but also cut the price paid to homeowners for surplus electricity by two-thirds. This led to a massive reduction in solar installations, creating significant job loss, before the policy was reversed.
Reduce Energy Generation Costs
The cost of solar panels and accompanying batteries are dropping rapidly, due to economies of scale and technological breakthroughs.
Despite the downward trend in cost, the upfront cost of solar panels and batteries can put them out of reach for many people. Net metering has helped offset the cost of financing solar panels and batteries, reducing the payback period and incentivizing conservation.
More than half the costs of rooftop solar are not the panels themselves but installation, permitting, financing and other business costs. Today, a typical rooftop solar array can cost about $20,000 to install -- still $14,000 after federal tax rebates.
Purchasing rooftop solar may make the most financial sense, but these upfront costs force most people to take out loans, while solar companies also offer to finance rooftop panels that homeowners either lease or pay a monthly fee for lower-cost solar power.
Net metering is not a subsidy, but rather a way for distributed solar energy producers to get a fair price for the energy they generate. If distributed solar energy producers are reimbursed at less than the retail electricity rate, then the electricity they generate can serve as a subsidy for the utilities that will sell this power for more than they pay the party who generated the energy.
Not only will utilities unduly profit from underpaying solar electricity suppliers, but any fair study of net metering must also consider the ongoing, direct subsidies to the fossil fuel companies. When evaluating costs of renewable energy, it is important to consider the cost of subsidies of energy and not just the cost at the customer’s meter.
The United States subsidizes the use of fossil fuels at an estimated $20 billion per year. This does not include avoided costs of health, or costs associated with the military’s role in securing fossil fuel delivery networks. Taking avoided cost into account, the International Monetary Fund estimates that global subsidies for fossil fuels are at around $1.6 trillion.
Making these panels more affordable for all
Despite dropping prices for solar panels and battery storage, upfront cost can make solar economically inaccessible for many lower-income households. Nationally, families earning under $40,000 annually (about two-fifths of all households) account for less than 5 percent of rooftop solar panels.
Arizona, New Jersey and Missouri have had more families buying rooftop solar, with the majority installed in modest, median-income neighborhoods. But more innovative and targeted policies are needed to ensure that all homeowners can access rooftop solar.
The California Multi Family Affordable Solar Housing program provides fixed, up front, capacity-based incentives for qualifying solar energy systems. In Minnesota, the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance helps make solar affordable through programs targeted at low-income communities.
The Roanoke Rural Electric Cooperative in North Carolina is utilizing Pay As You Save and Inclusive Financing to help expand net metering benefits to low-income households, including low-income families who are not homeowners.
Net metering, alongside programs like these, can help ensure low-income communities are able to access the benefit of clean, renewable energy.
Net metering can help support community solar projects, which expand access to clean renewable energy to people who otherwise would not have access to clean energy. Renters, people with low-incomes and people with property limitations for solar panels can join these projects, which allow community members to build solar farms to share the benefits of net metering.
As the Department proceeds with this study, it must take into account the full picture of net metering’s benefits, including the financial, social, public health and environmental benefits of promoting and encouraging a rapid transition to clean, renewable energy sources. Any study that fails to do so would be an abdication of the Department’s legal obligation.
Furthermore, limiting the scope of the study will only lead to poor policy choices that benefit outmoded sources of electric power generation, and threaten the transition to the clean, renewable energy which our nation needs, and our citizens deserve.