emissions

Earth Month Tip: Reduce food waste

Thirteen percent of carbon pollution emissions in the United States are associated with the growing, manufacturing, transporting, and disposing of food. More food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in municipal solid waste. In 2012 alone, more than 36 million tons of food waste was generated, with only five percent diverted from landfills and incinerators for composting. Reducing the amount of food wasted has significant economic, social & environmental benefits – including the reduction of carbon pollution.

Reducing food waste reduces methane and other greenhouse gas emissions and improves sanitation, public safety, and overall health. By reducing the amount of food we waste, we can reduce carbon pollution and improve quality of life for Americans.

Learn more: http://www2.epa.gov/recycle/reducing-wasted-food-basics

More tips: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Earth Month Tip: Think about the life cycle

Forty two percent of carbon pollution emissions in the U.S. are associated with the energy used to produce, process, transport, and dispose of the food we eat and the goods we use. In every one of these stages of the life cycle, we can reduce our impact.

Find out what you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and learn how to reduce your impact at every stage of the life cycle.

More tips: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Earth Month Tip: Drive Smart

A series of daily tips throughout April.

To improve your fuel economy and reduce carbon pollution, go easy on the brakes and gas pedal, avoid hard accelerations, reduce your time spent idling (no more than 30 seconds), and unload unnecessary items in your trunk to reduce weight. If you have a removable roof rack that is not in use, take it off to improve your fuel economy. Use cruise control if you have it, and for vehicles with selectable four-wheel drive, consider operating in two-wheel drive mode when road conditions make it safe to do so.

For more information, take a look at these tips for driving more efficiently. Check out www.fueleconomy.gov, to find the best, most comprehensive information on vehicle emissions and fuel economy.

More tips: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Empowering the Public through Power Plant Emissions Data

We’ve all heard that “Knowledge is Power.” I think about this phrase a lot in my work here in the Office of Air and Radiation because having access to good, scientifically robust, and relevant data is essential to our work. And because science and transparency are two of our core values, EPA is committed to providing the public with access to reliable data.

So, it is always gratifying to highlight good data on the EPA web site that is both accessible and useful. I encourage you all to check out our newly redesigned and interactive Power Plant Emission Trends page.  On this page you’ll find the most recent 2013 sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOX) and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions data from power plants, as well as emission data from previous years.

These data show how power plant emissions have changed over time and where those changes have occurred, both geographically and at what power plants. For example, in 2013 SO2 emissions decreased by two percent, NOX emissions were unchanged, and CO2 increased by one percent from 2012 levels, while electricity generation remained generally stable. More

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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A Bike-Friendly EPA Headquarters

By Ed Fendley

It’s awesome to be part of an agency that’s helped clean America’s air and water and is working to reduce emissions of deadly mercury. Now I’ve got a new – and local – reason to appreciate the EPA: outdoor bicycle racks here at our headquarters buildings.

Recently, four sets of modern bike racks were installed outside at the Federal Triangle campus in Washington, D.C., as part of a broader EPA plan to welcome bicycling by employees and visitors. (We already have bike parking in our basement garages.)

Giving people choices in how to get around is a great thing. Studies show that if people can conveniently walk, bike, or take transit, many of them will choose to drive less – reducing traffic and cleaning the air.

And that fits neatly into our mission at EPA. According to EPA’s Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2009 (April 2011), roughly 17 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions come from passenger vehicles. Investing in public transit and other transportation options, like biking, make it easier for people to drive less, lowering greenhouse gas emissions. These approaches can also help reduce carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and other pollutants emitted by motor vehicles.

As EPA Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld recently wrote, there are lots of good reasons to ride a bike – including pure joy. I can relate: my kids and I ride a lot. They bike to school and we often tool around on the weekends together. I’ve also ridden to work for 20 years now. It’s exciting to see that bicycling rates are increasing rapidly across the country.

Building design is part of that. Convenient bike parking, as well as showers and lockers, get more people riding. Placing racks within 50 feet of building entrances is recommended as it helps visitors who may not have access to the parking garage. It also helps employees like me who bike during the day to meetings around town.

As more employees and visitors choose to ride, EPA will need to make further improvements. But for the moment, I’ll pause to celebrate as I park my bike and stroll into my office.

About the author: Ed Fendley is a senior policy analyst with the Office of Sustainable Communities.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Climate Leadership Provides Inspiration – and a Cleaner Environment 

Intel, a 2013 Climate Leadership Winner, has multiple solar arrays on its corporate campuses in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Oregon. This photo shows a solar support structure at the company’s parking lot in Arizona.

Intel, a 2013 Climate Leadership Winner, has multiple solar arrays on its corporate campuses in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Oregon. This photo shows a solar support structure at the company’s parking lot in Arizona.

By Melissa Klein

Part of my job is helping organize EPA’s annual Climate Leadership Awards. Through this work, I’ve been greatly inspired to learn about and highlight the steps companies are taking voluntarily to manage and reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Earlier this year, we honored 23 corporations, public agencies, and individuals for their exemplary leadership in reducing carbon pollution and addressing climate change. The winners demonstrated their commitment to conducting operations in a more sustainable way – diversifying their energy supply, mitigating fuel cost risk, and cutting their energy-related emissions.

Their forward-thinking actions to reduce GHG emissions can have exciting ripple effects. For instance, when a business takes action on climate, the whole supply chain often improves, encompassing efficiency related to operations – from purchased goods and transportation – to distribution and product use. The ripple effects result not only in cleaner air and water and improved public health, but also in money savings on energy costs and economic growth.

It’s encouraging and inspirational that four of the five top winners were local governments, who often face budget and staffing constraints, but still made incredible progress. Sonoma County Water Agency in California, The Port of San Diego, City of Austin, Texas, and Boulder County, Colorado, have all taken impressive and meaningful steps toward carbon-neutral operations and have mobilized large networks of partners to enable change. Check out the full list of award winners here to see if your hometown made the list.

Planning for the third annual awards in 2014 is underway and the application period is open until September 13, 2013. We, in collaboration with our co-sponsors – the Association of Climate Change Officers, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, and The Climate Registry – are challenging organizations to think creatively and comprehensively to cut GHG emissions. For more information on the awards, please visit

About the Author: Melissa Klein, MPH, is the communications director for the Center for Corporate Climate Leadership within the Climate Protection Partnerships Division at the U.S. EPA.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Have a Green Summer!

Several links below exit EPA Exit EPA Disclaimer

By Lina Younes

I was reviewing my electric bill recently. I noticed that there was an increase in the amount of energy used at home this year in comparison to last year. While we are already taken steps at home to be more energy efficient, we still can do more to save energy and money at home. So, I decided to share some tips  on how you can also be greener this summer.

  • Turn off the lights when you leave the room! Pretty simple, right? But, I have to remind my daughter and other family members to do so frequently!
  • Unplug phone and computer chargers when you’re not using them.
  • Change home air filters regularly! This improves the efficiency of your A/C and saves you money in the short term and costly repairs in the long term.
  • Also, consider using ceiling fans. With the fans, you can raise the temperature of the A/C and still feel comfortable during the summer heat.
  • Seal and insulate your home.
  • Are you planning to update one of your appliances? Purchase an Energy Star product when buying new appliances and electronics for your home.
  • Do you have a leaky faucet? Fix it! Did you know that more than 1 trillion gallons of water are wasted from leaks in U.S. homes each year?
  • If you are planning to refurbish your kitchen or bathroom, get WaterSense labeled fixtures to save water and money.
  • Do you use a sprinker to water your lawn? Inspect it to make sure there aren’t any leaks or broken sprinkler heads. Set the sprinkler for early in the morning. And definitely don’t turn it one if has rained in your area!
  • Planning a family gathering this weekend? Make sure to use reusable plates and containers. Remember your three R’s  during the summer months!
  • Planning a summer day trip? Well, you should also consider getting your car ready for the journey. A well maintained vehicle with properly inflated tires will save you a lot of money in fuel and maintenance costs and will also reduce gas emissions.

Do you have other suggestions as to how we can be greener this summer? As always, we appreciate your input. Love to hear from you.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Fueling our Future

By Bob Perciasepe, Acting Administrator

This month EPA took an important next step to ensure that the cars of the future are not only the most fuel efficient, environmentally friendly and cost-effective cars to hit America’s roads – but they’re also the healthiest.

The new tailpipe standards we proposed, which are currently out for public comment, will protect millions of Americans from breathing polluted, potentially harmful air. These standards for tailpipe emissions are called “Tier 3” and include a combination of lowering sulfur content in gasoline and enhancing emission controls in automobiles – a systematic approach that has proven successful in the past as an efficient and cost effective program. That, in turn, will lead to significant public health benefits: Our research indicates that, by 2030, Tier 3 standards would annually prevent up to 2,400 premature deaths, 23,000 cases of respiratory symptoms in children, and 1.8 million sick days home from work or school.

Tier 3 tailpipe emission standards are designed to work in concert with vehicle fuel economy and green house gas standards the Obama Administration finalized last summer. When fully implemented, this comprehensive approach will save thousands of lives and protect the health of millions – all while strengthening our energy security, cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and saving drivers money at the pump.  Reducing our dependence on oil, and foreign oil in particular, is an important part of the all-of-the-above approach to energy President Obama has long championed. So, even as we are increasing the amount of oil produced on our shores annually, we are also working to ensure the cars Americans will be driving are far more fuel efficient.  The fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards finalized last summer will phase in each year and ultimately double the fuel economy of motor vehicles by 2025, cutting oil consumption by 12 billion barrels in the process. Less oil consumed means substantially less greenhouse gas pollution, a leading driver of climate change. It also means fewer dollars spent filling up gas tanks – an estimated 1.7 trillion fewer dollars in total. Much has been made of the small – less than a penny – estimated increase in the cost of gasoline from Tier 3, but when you look at the full program and improved fuel economy and the tremendous savings of using half the gasoline for the same drive, consumers win – big time.

Much like the standards from last summer, the proposed Tier 3 tailpipe emission standards are already seeing widespread support from the auto industry. Clear, national standards allow manufacturers to sell the same vehicles in all 50 states. They also give automakers the market confidence they need to invest in the cleaner, more efficient technologies of the future. That’s why Gloria Berquist, vice president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, this month called Tier 3 “a positive step forward,” explaining that the industry has wanted a “road map” to simplify regulations nationwide. When coupled with the fuel economy standards, these comprehensive approach fuel and tailpipe standards will provide the clear signal for increased investment and jobs in the automobile industry.

State and local officials support Tier 3 tailpipe standards, too. Stronger emissions standards make it easier for local governments to meet their Clean Air Act responsibilities and ensure residents are able to enjoy the clean, healthier air they expect and deserve.

Cleaner air rarely comes for free, but we often find that costs are dwarfed by the benefits clean air provides. This case is no exception. By 2030, EPA estimates that the monetized health benefits of the proposed Tier 3 tailpipe standards would be somewhere between $8 and $23 billion each year. That’s up to $7 in health benefits for every $1 invested in meeting the new standards. When combined with the thousands of dollars every driver will save at the pump thanks to last summer’s updated fuel economy standards, American drivers will be paying a lot less for gasoline over the next decade.

That is the beauty of the comprehensive approach now made possible by the proposed Tier 3 tailpipe standards: significant air pollution reductions with up to $23 billion in health benefits and modern fuels for modern automobile technology that is creating investment and jobs, doubling fuel economy, cutting gasoline bills in half on average and reducing green house gases.

For more than four years, this administration has worked to ensure the next generation of vehicles will offer all of the choices drivers have today. But those vehicles will also be more technologically advanced than ever before. They will be more efficient and much cheaper to power. And they will leave our communities cleaner and healthier than they have been in decades.

About the author: Bob Perciasepe is acting administrator of the U.S. EPA.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Reducing Emissions Can Be Habit Forming

By Karen Dante

Every day, there are dozens of things we do without even thinking. When we wake up, we brush our teeth. Before we eat, we wash our hands. When we leave home, we lock the door. These habits, like fastening our seatbelts or looking both ways before we cross the street, keep us healthier and safer.

It’s not such a big step to build similar habits that reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. There are lots of simple habits you can acquire to reduce emissions and protect the climate. If everyone does their part, small simple steps add up to big changes.

Here are some easy ways to incorporate habits to protect the climate –

  • Turn off the lights when you leave the room.
  • Check your tire pressure regularly.
  • Recycle bottles, instead of throwing them out.
  • Print double sided, instead of single sided.
  • Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth.
  • When a light burns out, replace it with an ENERGY STAR light.
  • Get in the habit of unplugging electronics not in use. Consumer electronics account for 15% of household electricity.
  • Give your car a break. Bike, walk, carpool or take public transportation. This action not only reduces your carbon footprint, but also promotes an active and healthy lifestyle.
  • Turn your thermostat a few degrees cooler in the winter, and warmer in the summer.
  • Calculate your household’s carbon footprint and learn ways to reduce emissions, energy use and waste disposal costs.

Other easy things to do that can be slightly bigger investments –

  • Look for the ENERGY STAR label when buying appliances/ office equipment. The typical household spends more than $2,100 a year on energy bills. With ENERGY STAR, you can save over one-third or more than $700 on your household energy bills.

If you keep following the simple steps, you can make reducing climate change a daily habit – as easy as brushing your teeth!

Click here to learn more about other ways to protect the climate, reduce air pollution and save money.

About the author: Karen Dante is an ORISE Fellow supporting the communications team in the Climate Change Division within the Office of Air and Radiation. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in biology and psychology from Queen’s University and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Environmental Science and Policy at John’s Hopkins University.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Celebrating Six Years of RAD Partnership

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By Gene Rodrigues

They say that you can judge a person by the company he or she keeps. That’s true for businesses as well, and it’s why we’re so proud to be one of 50 utilities, retailers, manufacturers and states that have a strong commitment to appliance recycling – among other energy efficiency programs — that will lead the country to its great green future. Today we celebrate the sixth anniversary of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) program.

California utilities were on the forefront of appliance recycling programs more than 20 years ago (we’ve been a RAD partner since 2006), and in May, Southern California Edison customers recycled their 1 millionth refrigerator or freezer.

Through this program, everybody wins. The customer’s electric bills are lowered when they replace an old, inefficient refrigerator with an ENERGY STAR-qualified one that doesn’t have to work as hard to keep food cool. The utility wins because the cheapest kilowatt hour is the one you never use. And the environment wins because there are fewer greenhouse gases and other pollutants that enter the atmosphere, as well as less material that’s sent to landfills. Consider that SCE customers saved a total of 7.9 billion kilowatt-hours when they recycled their 1 millionth refrigerator. That is equivalent to avoiding emissions of 1.1 million cars for a year, planting 140 million trees, and saving enough energy to power 13.5 million homes for a month. And of course, collectively, those customers saved around $1 billion.

There are more opportunities than ever to become energy efficient, no matter who you are – homeowner or renter or business, country or city dweller. Take the first step today and visit your utility’s website to find out how you can contribute to America’s great green future.

About the author: Gene Rodrigues is Director of Customer Energy Efficiency & Solar for Southern California Edison. Gene serves on the boards of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the Consortium for Energy Efficiency, the China-US Energy Efficiency Alliance and California’s Low Income Oversight Board. He also serves on the advisory board of USC’s Center for Sustainable Cities, the strategy committee for the Edison Foundation’s Institute for Energy Efficiency and the steering committee for the Alliance to Save Energy’s Global Action Network for Energy Efficiency Education. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency presented Gene with its 2012 Climate Leadership Award for individuals.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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