The scoop In June 2020, the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis unveiled a 547-page, sweeping climate plan that aims to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and net-negative emissions thereafter.
Why it matters The plan seeks to uplift Americans and support front-line and low-income communities that are disproportionately impacted by climate change. Driven by science and economics, it also centers around environmental justice, with an opening paragraph alluding to the passing of George Floyd.
Bottom line The report is the most ambitious proposal to combat climate change we've seen from Democrats. Energy Innovation, an independent policy modeling company, projects that the plan would achieve a 37% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2048. If implemented, it would also save 62,000 lives annually by 2050 and $8 trillion in health and climate costs.
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What to know With the fate of the Clean Water Act hanging in the balance, the Supreme Court delivered a momentous verdict on County of Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund on Thursday, April 23.
The case centers on the County of Maui’s belief that the CWA only covers direct pollution discharge, not pollution that travels through groundwater. Because the county didn’t dump their wastewater directly into the ocean, they viewed any punishment as completely unjustified. The Trump administration decided to go against 40 years of EPA precedent and sided with the County of Maui.
Why it matters The decision sets a precedent for regulating indirect sources of pollution. Past decisions will need to be re-evaluated, like the 2018 appellate court rulings that ruled against requiring permits for coal ash impoundments.
Bottom line We are privileged to live in a country with a justice system that enables an environmental group to overrule a government-run wastewater treatment plant. Behind the scenes, groups like Earthjustice fight daily to represent our interests and protect the planet.
We must continue to educate ourselves on the nuances of the environmental laws that exist to protect us.
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Why it matters Changes made now can pave the way for a new and dangerous status quo in environmental regulation that could severely impact the environment.
The big picture The EPA’s policies work to protect our environment and our health. Rolling them back can have grave consequences for both.
- A New York Times analysis revealed how the Trump Administration rolled back nearly 100 environmental rules and regulations since 2016.
- Proponents of radical changes like the Green New Deal are still the overwhelming minority in Congress.
What actually happened The Federal Government proposed rolling back 6 major pieces of EPA rules and regulations including:
- Weakening the National Environmental Policy Act
- Successfully allowing final environmental impact statements for projects with federal funding to effectively exclude climate change considerations. Unscrewing tight policy measures will give a free pass to pollute on major infrastructure projects, like oil & gas pipelines.
- Suspending EPA Enforcement
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decided to indefinitely suspend enforcement of its rules and regulations due to COVID-19. Companies will self-regulate their own air and water pollution (sort of). The rule was applied on March 13th.
- Opening a national park to resource extraction
- The Trump administration recently pushed through a final environmental impact statement for a 211-mile road in Alaska that would bisect a national park and open up an area rich in copper, zinc, and other minerals.
- Reducing regulation for a major slaughterhouse
- The Department of Agriculture confirmed a waiver that allowed a private company to inspect a Tyson Foods slaughterhouse in lieu of the EPA.
- Reducing the impact of fuel efficiency standards
- Last week, the Trump administration rolled back Obama-era vehicle efficiency standards through 2026. Those standards, which passed in 2012, mandated 5% annual increases in fuel economy. The new standards will require less stringent 1.5% annual increases.
- Trying to bail out Big Oil:
- When drafting legislation for the coronavirus stimulus package, the Trump administration intended to buy millions of barrels of oil from struggling producers. Luckily, the measure was nixed in the final legislation due to a lack of funding.
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