This week, President Biden announced that Lael Brainard, the vice chair of the Federal Reserve who is known for citing the financial risks posed by climate change, would become his top economic adviser.
Her appointment follows that of Richard Revesz, an environmental lawyer and an academic who is known for defending climate regulations, who last month became head of the White House’s top regulatory office — a place that has historically been viewed as the place where environmental controls go to die.
The appointments to two of the most powerful posts in the White House underscore how Mr. Biden has pursued an “all-of-government” approach to climate change, appointing people with backgrounds in climate policy to senior positions across federal agencies. It also illustrates his intent to use executive action to address global warming in the last two years of this term.
Citizens for Responsible Solar is part of a growing backlash against renewable energy in rural communities across the United States. The group, which was started in 2019 and appears to use strategies honed by other activists in campaigns against the wind industry,has helpedlocal groups fighting solar projects in at least 10 states including Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania, according to its website.
“I think for years, there has been this sense that this is not all coincidence. That local groups are popping up in different places, saying the same things, using the same online campaign materials,” says Michael Burger, executive director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University.
Citizens for Responsible Solar seems to be a well-mobilized “national effort to foment local opposition to renewable energy,” Burger adds. “What that reflects is the unfortunate politicization of climate change, the politicization of energy, and, unfortunately, the political nature of the energy transition, which is really just a necessary response to an environmental reality.”
The Biden administration is about to undertake one of its most complicated international initiatives, installing a new leader at the World Bank who can steer the organization toward a sweeping climate change agenda.
Bank President David Malpass’s abrupt announcement that he will step down from his post a year early opens the way for President Joe Biden to choose someone who embraces the new goal of fundamentally overhauling the bank’s work to focus more on climate and other global challenges.
The Environmental Protection Agency will take control of the response to the Ohio train derailment disaster and order rail company Norfolk Southern to clean up the contamination, the agency said Tuesday, the Biden administration’s strongest response yet to the crisis.
Rather than clean up the toxic wreck voluntarily, as it has done so far, Norfolk Southern will be required to do so under a plan approved by the EPA, which will also take over certain aspects of the response from Ohio. Norfolk Southern will also have to pay the remediation costs — as well as pay for cleaning services that the agency will offer to residents and businesses, participate in public meetings and share information publicly, according to the EPA.
The EPA’s step comes 18 days after the Feb. 3 train crash, which released toxic chemicals and fumes over a wide area. In the two weeks since evacuated residents were allowed to return to their homes, national attention on East Palestine has intensified, as many residents remain angry and fearful about potential contamination and health effects.
The plans, set to be announced by EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan in East Palestine on Tuesday afternoon, will give the federal government oversight of the massive cleanup through a legally binding order. Regan’s visit to East Palestine, his second in a week, comes amid pressure on the federal government from some lawmakers and residents to step up its response.
Balloons regularly carry physics experiments, collect atmospheric data, and test new pieces of scientific equipment. It remains to be seen whether that research will be disrupted following the Chinese balloon furor, but many scientists involved with the work are bracing for change.
Less than two weeks after train cars filled with hazardous chemicals derailed in Ohio and caught fire, a truck carrying nitric acid crashed on a major highway outside Tucson, Arizona, killing the driver and releasing toxic chemicals into the air.
The Arizona hazmat disaster shut down Interstate 10, a major cross-country highway, and forced evacuations in surrounding neighborhoods.
But the highway crash didn’t draw national attention the way the train derailment did, or trigger a flood of calls for more trucking regulation like the U.S. is seeing for train regulation. Truck crashes tend to be local and less dramatic than a pile of derailed train cars on fire, even if they’re deadlier.
At one time, rail and water were the only options for transporting chemicals and other potentially dangerous materials. The emergence of the automobile and subsequent construction of the interstate highway system changed that, and hazardous materials shipments by road steadily increased.
Today, trucks carry the largest percentage of hazardous materials shipped in the U.S. – about twice as much as trains when measured in ton-miles, according to the Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ latest data, for 2017. A ton-mile is one ton shipped for one mile.
While truck incidents involving hazardous materials don’t look as dramatic as train derailments and are not as widely covered by news media, federal data shows they represent more fatalities and property damage, and there are thousands more of them every year.
Truck-related hazardous materials incidents caused over 16 times more fatalities from 1975 to 2021 – 380 for truck, compared with 23 for rail, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The difference is more pronounced in the last decade, when U.S. rail transportation of hazardous materials caused zero fatalities and truck incidents were responsible for 83.
Trucks have also caused nearly three times as much property damage as rail incidents since 2000. That might seem surprising since derailments can involve several cars with hazardous materials. But most rail events take place in remote areas, limiting their human impact, while trucks travel on highways with other drivers around and often in busy urban areas.
The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks spurred a vast expansion of regulation over movement of hazardous materials. Many cities now have hazardous materials routes for trucks that circumvent city centers to reduce the potential risk to high-population areas.
With the Ohio train derailment now making national news, lawmakers are focusing on regulations specifically for rail.
Ohio’s governor wants rail companies to be required to notify states of all hazardous shipments. This knee-jerk reaction to a major event would appear to be a responsible demand with relatively low costs, but it would have no impact whatsoever on prevention of hazmat events.
Activists are calling for more expensive investments, including requirements for heat sensors on train bearings, which appeared to have been involved in the Ohio derailment, and the restoration of a rule requiring advanced braking systems for trains carrying hazardous materials. Both would raise the cost of rail shipping and could wind up putting more hazardous materials shipments on U.S. roads. The Trump administration repealed the braking system requirement in 2017, arguing that the costs outweighed the benefits.
Rail is still more economical and better for the environment than trucks for longer distances, but with ever-increasing regulations, rail transport can be economically and logistically discouraged – chasing more traffic to far more dangerous roadways.
If the concern is the public’s exposure to hazardous materials, regulation on road-based hazardous materials transportation should expand as well.
Lasting mitigation of carbon is critical for keeping emissions within the temperature goals set in the Paris Agreement. Backed by the IPCC, Science Based Target Initiative, and the United Nations’ Race to Zero Campaign, carbon removals pose a huge opportunity to meet the crucial 1.5 degrees or less global warming trajectory. These initiatives mandate corporations’ use of carbon removal to address remaining emissions in their climate target year and to contribute to global decarbonization on their path to net zero.
For the voluntary carbon markets to meet the growing demand for carbon removals, rapid progress must be made to expand the supply. The carbon removal market is nascent and many unanswered questions exist around project-level criteria, methodologies, and scalability. New innovative pathways for removing and storing carbon are emerging constantly and standards bodies are still shaping methodologies for these types of projects.
With so little concrete guidance, how can organizations help build a prosperous carbon removals market that will meet the demands of a net zero economy? In this webinar, “Carbon Removals: How Your Company Can Help Scale the Market”, we will start to answer that question.
Join this webinar to learn more about:
The current carbon removals market
Possible carbon removal procurement pathways
Key considerations and screening criteria for corporate carbon removal buyers
Actions that scale up the supply for carbon removals
Nethra Rajendran, Net Zero Analyst, GreenBiz Group
The job market and growth for sustainability careers or green jobs has grown rapidly in recent years due to increasing public and corporate interest in addressing environmental and social issues. According to the World Economic Forum, in 2015, the ratio of US oil and gas jobs to renewables and environment jobs was 5:1, but by 2020 this ratio had inched closer to 2:1. The WEF predicts that renewables and sustainability professions could actually outnumber oil and gas in total jobs on their platform within the next couple of years, a major pendulum shift towards green jobs in a relatively short period.
Approximately 875,000 Americans already hold jobs related to sustainability, renewable energy, and conservation. Over the next decade, the number of green jobs in the U.S. is expected to grow by another 114,000, or 9%. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA), the renewable energy sector employed 11 million people globally in 2021. The solar photovoltaic (PV) industry alone employed 3.4 million people. In the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the fastest-growing occupation from 2019 to 2029 is expected to be wind turbine service technicians, with a growth rate of 61%.
Some of the fastest-growing sustainability jobs include:
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