fuel

Working Together to Implement the Clean Power Plan

By Gina McCarthy

This summer, EPA issued our historic Clean Power Plan, one of the largest steps America has ever taken to combat climate change and protect future generations. The Plan puts the U.S. on track to significantly cut carbon pollution from power plants – our nation’s biggest single contributor to climate change.

Because greenhouse gas pollution threatens public health and welfare, EPA is using its authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate sources of these pollutants, including in the power sector. Along with the many other actions we’re taking under President Obama’s leadership, the Clean Power Plan will translate to major health benefits and cost savings for American families.

The Clean Power Plan is grounded firmly in science and the law. Science clearly shows that carbon dioxide fuels a changing climate, which in turn poses threats to our health and to the environment that sustains us all. The Plan is fully consistent with the Clean Air Act, and relies on the same time-tested state-federal partnership that, since 1970, has reduced harmful air pollution by 70 percent, while the U.S. economy has tripled.

What makes the Plan so effective is that it reflects the voices of those who are closest to the issues on the ground. Extensive input from states, industry representatives, energy regulators, health and environmental groups, and individual members of the public helped us get to a plan that we know works for everyone.  In fact, we considered over 4.3 million comments received in response to our initial proposal.

And we listened.

It was feedback from utilities that made sure our plan mirrors how electricity moves around the grid, so that we could open up opportunities. It was input from states that made sure we set fair and consistent standards across the country. And it was comments from many folks that told us that we needed to extend the timeframe for mandatory cuts by two years, until 2022. States and utilities told us they needed more time, and we listened.

As a result of this unprecedented amount of outreach, the Plan is fair, flexible, affordable, and designed to reflect the fast-growing trend toward cleaner American energy.

With strong but achievable standards for power plants, and customized goals for states to cut the carbon pollution that is driving climate change, the Clean Power Plan provides national consistency, accountability, and a level playing field while reflecting each state’s energy mix.

But our engagement hasn’t stopped with the signing of the rule. Since issuing the Clean Power Plan in August, we’ve reached out to all 50 states, making sure every state has multiple opportunities to hear from us and to ask questions.

We’ve also held dozens in-person meetings and calls with states, tribes, communities, industry representatives, and elected officials, and we’ve held or participated in a number of widely-attended conferences about the Plan.

Staff at each of EPA’s 10 regional offices and our headquarters have responded to hundreds of questions about the final rule, and questions continue to come in through meetings, our website, and other venues.

We’ve seen firsthand that when diverse voices are brought to the table, environmental protection works. For nearly 45 years, our interactions and engagement with states and stakeholders has resulted in tremendous progress to cut down air pollution and protect Americans’ health – including tangible benefits for communities, families, and kids.

We are committed to helping everyone better understand the Clean Power Plan and have been impressed – but certainly not surprised – by the remarkable level of constructive engagement across the board. Conversations are happening across the country. And we’re encouraged to see that many states are beginning their own planning processes because that means they’re preparing to take action.

We have every interest in helping states succeed, and every confidence that the Clean Power Plan provides states the options, time and flexibility to develop plans that meet their unique needs and goals.

We look forward to continuing our work with states, the energy sector, and many other groups to follow the science, implement the law, and build a healthy future for our kids and grandkids – together.

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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American Innovators are Cracking the Code to Solve Environmental Problems

Two weeks ago, I visited the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, which is across the street from my office here at EPA. Its new American Enterprise exhibition in the museum’s recently opened Innovators wing is packed with breakthroughs of the last few centuries. From the light bulb to medical and farm devices to personal computers you’re struck by how creativity and ingenuity played a role in our country’s history and progress.

The same is proving to be true for environmental progress. American innovation is playing a pivotal role in helping us solve environmental issues such as climate change, limited water resources, waste and chemical safety, turning these problems into business opportunities and spurring investment.

Today we’re announcing the winners of the 20th Annual Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards, another opportunity to celebrate the power of American innovation and entrepreneurs that bring these technologies to the marketplace.

Take a look at the 2015 innovative winning technologies and pictures from the award ceremony!

Developing Safer Floors, Wood Furniture and Foam Insulation. Hybrid Coating Technologies/Nanotech Industries (Daly City, California) developed a safer polyurethane that isn’t made with isocyanates, which causes skin and breathing problems and workplace asthma. Isocyanates have always been used in making polyurethane, most often a flexible plastic material used in many consumer products, and last year the U.S. produced 5.5 billion pounds of it. So, this is clearly a breakthrough technology. The technology is also reducing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and manufacturing costs and making the end products safer for people and the environment.

Producing Safer Additives for Car Lubricants and Gasoline. SOLTEX (Synthetic Oils and Lubricants of Texas, Houston, Texas) has developed a technology that, if widely used, could eliminate millions of gallons of wastewater per year and reduce the use of a hazardous chemical by 50 percent. The technology has the potential to improve the production of other products such as caulks, adhesives, and personal care products.

Using Waste Gas to Create Products.
LanzaTech (Skokie, Illinois) is using waste gas from steel plants to create fuels and chemicals while reducing the carbon footprint. A facility captures and converts the gas, which would otherwise be emitted into the air, into a substance with commercial value. Two facilities already use the technology to produce 100,000 gallons per year of ethanol. This technology is an excellent example of creating valuable fuel from waste.

Creating Fuel from Algae
Algenol (Fort Myers, Florida) developed a blue-green algae that can be used to create valuable fuel. The technology combines sunlight with waste carbon dioxide from air or industrial emitters to create fuel while dramatically reducing costs, water usage, and carbon footprint. The ethanol and green crude produced are substitutes for petroleum-derived fuels and chemicals.

Using Consumer and Municipal Trash to Make Products. Renmatix (King of Prussia, Pennsylvania) developed a cost-effective process using high temperature and high pressure water to break down woody biomass, plant material, and even some municipal waste into sugars to make plant-based chemicals and fuels. Production can be set up with whatever plant-based material is available. The production also can be set up anywhere, which makes the technology easy to replicate regionally and globally. The technology could significantly reduce dependence on petroleum-based chemicals and fuels.

Using Plants to Make Plastics, Chemicals and Fuels. Professor Eugene Chen of Colorado State University developed a process that uses plant-based materials in the production of renewable chemicals and liquid fuels. This new technology is waste-free and metal-free. It offers significant potential for the production of renewable chemicals, fuels, and bioplastics that can be used in a wide range of safer industrial and consumer products.

I am confident that these types of innovative technologies will be showcased in future exhibits highlighting American innovation. The winners have great scientific expertise and keen business sense. Their innovative technologies have the potential to be “game changers” to solve important environmental problems and show that we can innovate towards a sustainable economy.

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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Planes, Trains And Automobiles — And Safely Storing The Fuel That Moves Them  

This blog is not about a remake of the 1987 movie, Planes, Trains and Automobiles.  But, it’s about safely storing the vitally important fuel that moves planes, trains, and automobiles – as well as trucks, boats, and other vehicles.

Underground tanks are in every community: at gas stations and other non-retail facilities, such as school district bus fuel stations, police and fire stations, marinas, taxi fleet facilities, postal and delivery service facilities, and federal facilities such as military bases.

Did you know that even a small amount of petroleum released from underground storage tanks can contaminate land as well as groundwater?  And, groundwater is a source of drinking water for approximately 50 percent of United States’ citizens.

Because underground storage tanks are in every community, it’s important to ensure tanks don’t leak.  That’s why on Monday we issued revised regulations that will better prevent and detect underground storage tank releases. These revised underground storage tank regulations will ensure all tanks in the United States meet the same release protection standards.

The revised underground storage tank regulations improve EPA’s original 1988 tank regulation by closing some regulatory gaps, accommodating new technologies, and focusing on properly operating and maintaining existing underground storage tank systems. Many state tank programs already have some of these revised requirements in place.

For more about how we’re protecting our environment from underground storage tank leaks and the revised tank regulations, see our underground storage tank website www.epa.gov/oust

About the author:  Mathy Stanislaus is the Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.

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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Driving toward a cleaner future

Today, EPA issued its second annual Manufacturer Performance Report on progress toward meeting the greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and light trucks. This is essentially a detailed report card telling us how the industry and individual manufacturers are doing in complying with the standards for the 2013 model year. I’m pleased to say that, for the second year of the program, the auto industry is ahead of the curve.

Because the ultimate destination for this road trip is to nearly double fuel economy by 2025, a strong start is great news for the environment and public health, family budgets and America’s energy security. When EPA and the Department of Transportation announced the standards, the program was called a “Win-Win-Win.” A win for the environment and our health because it reduces the emissions that contribute to the greatest environmental threat of our time…. climate change. In fact we expect it to cut 6 billion metric tons of GHGs. A win for consumers because the fuel efficiency goals will save families money at the pump, adding up to more than $1.7 trillion in saved fuel costs over the life of the program. And finally, a win for energy independence. The policy is expected to reduce America’s dependence on oil by more than 2 million barrels per day by 2025.

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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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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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Choosing A New Car For A Longer Commute

By Lina Younes

My son started a new job recently. While we’re all very excited about his new job opportunity, there’s a drawback. The new job entails a longer commute. Therefore, my son is seriously considering buying a more fuel efficient car to make the long commute less painful at the pump.

While he has some preferred models in mind, I recommended that he do his homework before even venturing into a car showroom. I told him about EPA’s new Fuel Economy Guide for 2014 which has the fuel estimates for over one thousand vehicles. With this online guide, he’ll be able to compare which models have the best fuel efficiency according to his driving habits and commute. He’ll be able to plug in the information according to the type of car he’s looking for, if he drives in city traffic or on highways, etc. He can even compare the vehicles according to price range. Furthermore, he can see which cars are better for the environment given the green rating they’ve received due to the amount of green house gases they emit. The guide even provides data for hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles.

In fact, the fuel economy website includes the MPG ratings for both new and used cars. So you’ll have the information readily at hand to make the best choice for your pocket and the environment, even if you choose an older model. Make your own EPA’s new MPG label on used cars.

As a mom, I feel that I wouldn’t be doing my job well if I didn’t mention another good site that he should visit before buying a new vehicle. It’s www.safercar.gov which provides safety ratings for vehicles. Not only do I want him to save his hard earned money, but I also want him to be safe.

Are you considering purchasing a new or used vehicle? Do you want to calculate your fuel savings? Check out this tool  and tell us what you think.

 About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual 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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Take the Bus – Save the Planet!

By Christine Koester

It’s that time of year again. Hard to believe but summer is quickly coming to a close as students head back to school. Between classroom visits to meet the teacher and buying new school supplies, you’ve probably noticed yellow buses driving around the neighborhood. This year, school buses will provide rides to more than 25 million students and travel about four billion miles – that’s enough to go to the sun and back about 20 times! Whether you wait at the stop each morning with your children or you have memories of frantic dashes down the sidewalk to catch it, the school bus has been a big part of American education for generations.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, school buses are by far the safest way for kids to get to school. The buses’ size and design, and the drivers’ training, help them avoid accidents. Buses also do great things to decrease fuel consumption and traffic congestion. In the US, buses use 2.3 billion gallons less fuel every year than if everyone drove their children to school.

School districts, bus manufacturers, and government are working to make school buses even better. New school buses pollute much less than they used to, and devices added to older buses cut their exhaust. Many school districts also have rules against idling to further reduce children’s exposure to bus pollution. We’re helping with all of this: EPA has provided grants over the last five years to replace buses or reduce pollution from more than 20,000 buses. Last year, we also gave out rebates through a lottery. The winners – 28 communities across the country – will have 80 new clean technology buses to take children to school this fall, cutting pollution and saving fuel.

Every time students take the bus, they are getting a safe, clean, and environmentally friendly ride, and parents have peace of mind (and a bonus: they spend less on gas). Best of luck to all students on the upcoming school year!

To learn more about EPA’s Clean School Bus program, please visit

About the author: Christine Koester has been part of the EPA since 2010 and currently works as an environmental protection specialist in the Office of Transportation and Air Quality.

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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A Peanut Fueled World

A few days ago, I stumbled across the EPA’s YouTube Channel, and learned about peanuts. Yea, I know. What could the peanut surprise us with now?

Well, two college students have found a way of producing peanut shell briquettes to replace wood as a cooking fuel in rural Gambia in Africa. Gambia is facing significant deforestation, so wood is scarce.  However, peanut shells may be the answer.

Want to know how?  Watch their video demonstration at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqHqdrW6U_U&feature=plcp&context=C49bba42VDvjVQa1PpcFPdEiR2Xqqsvb0l5CWjfB8rYVRgIVpF3qM%3D

Yvonne Gonzalez is a SCEP intern with the Air and Radiation Division in Region 5.  She recently received a dual graduate degree from DePaul 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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About That Commute

By Eric Nelson

Four-thirty on a Thursday afternoon and I’m Cape Cod bound on a commuter bus, inching away from Boston in rush-hour traffic. I look out at the cars slowly passing us, or being passed, and the drivers all look familiar. I’ve been commuting for too long. The faces in the bus look familiar, too. We’ve all been doing this for years.

I examine the faces of the car commuters more closely. Most look hypnotized, or somber. Some drivers are talking on the phone, or texting. No-one seems especially pleased with their situation. On the bus, most commuters sit quietly while the day-trippers chat. Fortunately, there are mostly commuters. They normally read, or sleep, or stare at some electronic device. I always try to write or read, but often drift off to sleep, which is a pleasant option only when not behind the wheel.

Traffic delays are usually just due to heavy volume. Our bus holds 55 passengers, and it’s normally close to full. Sometimes, when neighboring passengers are coughing and sneezing – obviously sick – I’d rather be in a car by myself than this mobile petri dish. But mostly I’m quite content to ride the bus. Besides, the average diesel bus gets approximately 6 mpg so it takes about 10 gallons of fuel to get 55 passengers 60 miles to Cape Cod. The vast majority of cars around us are holding just one person each. Even if they all get 30 mpg, it would take about 2 gallons of gas per car, or 110 gallons total, to transport the same number of persons to Cape Cod. And the longer the delay, the more fuel used and greenhouse gases spewed.

We normally get to our destination about around the same time each evening and I, for one, feel rested and relaxed. By taking the bus there is less pollution emitted and fuel consumed, no stress and time to read or reflect. Sometimes it’s easy being green.

About the author: Eric Nelson works in the Ocean and Coastal Protection Unit of EPA New England in Boston, but prefers being underwater with the fishes. He lives in a cape on Cape Cod with his wife and two daughters, and likes pesto on anything.

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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