Air
Greenhouse Gasses Declining Globally, But In U.S., Air Pollution Not Down As Much

Greenhouse Gasses Declining Globally, But In U.S., Air Pollution Not Down As Much

A study published yesterday in the journal Nature Climate Change found that greenhouse gas emissions are down by 17% globally compared to 2019 levels thanks to strict coronavirus lockdowns, which could result in as much as a 7% decline in emissions for the year. 

Why This Matters:  We need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 4-7% each year globally for the foreseeable future to keep global temperature increases in check.

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Will We Ensure Environmental Justice in the COVID-19 Recovery?

For many who live near refineries, incinerators, and other heavy industry, lockdowns and shelter in place orders like we have all experienced lately are a far too common occurrence.  The New York Times took a closer look at these communities to show why the residents are so vulnerable to the disease. 

Why This Matters:  Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali explained to put the COVID deaths into context, “we know more than 100,000 people die prematurely in the U.S. every year because of air pollution.”

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Is Public Transit Going to Be Able To Recover From COVID?

Is Public Transit Going to Be Able To Recover From COVID?

Public transportation nationwide is taking a huge hit from coronavirus — in California, for example, ridership is down by 90% or more and each week, public transportation systems are losing millions due to social distancing and shelter in place orders. 

Why This Matters:  Public transportation is vital and it is also key for the automobile emissions reductions that we need to combat climate change and air pollution generally.

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The EPA Relaxes Rule on Mercury Pollution By Greatly Tipping Scales to Favor Polluters

The EPA Relaxes Rule on Mercury Pollution By Greatly Tipping Scales to Favor Polluters

On Thursday, the Trump Administration continued its environmental armageddon by changing the way costs and benefits of rules are calculated in favor of polluters and thus fundamentally weakening current regulatory protections from mercury and other toxic metals emitted by oil and coal-fired power plants.

Why This Matters:  The polluters win again – President Trump continues to deliver for his big donors.

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EPA Refuses to Tighten Air Quality Standard, Overruling Agency Scientists’ Recommendation

EPA Refuses to Tighten Air Quality Standard, Overruling Agency Scientists’ Recommendation

On Tuesday, the Trump administration proposed to leave in place the national ambient air quality standards for Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) or soot, even though the Agency’s science staff recommended tightening it, saying that a tougher standard would save 12,000 lives each year.

Why This Matters:  Industry groups such as the American Petroleum Institute and the Chamber of Commerce “cheered” the decision saying the air in the U.S. is clean enough.

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New Study Shows People In Areas With Bad Air Pollution Are More Likely to Die

New Study Shows People In Areas With Bad Air Pollution Are More Likely to Die

Harvard researchers looked at the death rates for people who have had long term exposure to high levels of soot pollution (particulate matter or PM that comes from coal plants and older cars) and found they are higher than the death rates for people who lived in areas with cleaner air. 

Why This Matters:  This study should be raised every time the Republicans (or anyone) says that a stimulus measure tied to reducing air pollution is unrelated to recovery from COVID-19.  That is just flat out wrong.  Long term exposure to air pollution by its victims makes this virus more deadly.

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The Impact of the Oil Price War On Methane Flaring Is Uncertain

With oil prices plummeting to 18-year lows, oil and gas companies are scaling back by cutting workers, halting infrastructure investments, and drastically reducing oil and gas production. But will the natural gas industry finally get their outrageous methane leaks under control?

Why This Matters:  Methane is the most potent greenhouse gas in terms of its short term impact.  The Trump Administration made flaring methane even easier.

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Amid the Coronavirus Crisis, Trump Administration Finds Time to Roll Back Fuel Efficiency Standards

Amid the Coronavirus Crisis, Trump Administration Finds Time to Roll Back Fuel Efficiency Standards

As the United States is in throes of the COVID-19 pandemic and is desperately looking for federal leadership, the Trump Administration is expected to finalize its rollback President Obama’s fuel efficiency standards. A move that could see billions of tons of additional emissions from cars over their lifetimes. What The Rollbacks Achieve: As the New […]

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Tesla and other US Car Companies Suspend EV Plants — GM Will Make Ventilators and Masks

Tesla and other US Car Companies Suspend EV Plants — GM Will Make Ventilators and Masks

The President late on Friday finally used his Defense Production Act authority to order General Motors to begin to make ventilators, and the CEO Elon Musk of Tesla said the company’s New York electric vehicle factory will reopen in order to make ventilators and will also purchase and donate devices to the New York hospitals.

Why This Matters:  EV manufacturing shutdowns particularly impact the next wave of EVs that were about to start to roll off the assembly line – such as Volkswagen’s ID.3 and Tesla’s Model Y.

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Happiness in the Age of COVID-19

Happiness in the Age of COVID-19

By Beth Allgood,  U.S. Country Director, IFAW In 2013, the United Nations (UN) marked March 20th as the International Day of Happiness to recognize the importance of happiness and well-being in the lives of people around the world. Last year, I attended the launch of the annual UN World Happiness Report in New York. This […]

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One Less Thing: China’s Air Pollution Thanks to Coronavirus Shutdowns

One Less Thing: China’s Air Pollution Thanks to Coronavirus Shutdowns

NASA released satellite images yesterday that make apparent the impact of the coronavirus on air pollution in China — and the good news is that the factory shutdowns made the air across the entire country of China — particularly over Wuhan — much cleaner.  NASA released a statement explaining that the maps above show concentrations […]

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Emissions from Oil and Gas Operations Emit Much More Methane Than Previously Thought

Emissions from Oil and Gas Operations Emit Much More Methane Than Previously Thought

CNN and The Guardian reported late last week on a new study published in the journal Nature that concludes that methane emissions from fossil fuels are between 25% and 40% larger than past research had estimated, which means that oil and gas production is contributing roughly half of all greenhouse gas emissions — “far more” to climate change than previously estimated.

Why This Matters:  Methane is about 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide when looked at over a 20-year period.

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