Category: Public policy

Supporting the Nation’s Coal Workers and Communities in a Changing Energy Landscape

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Analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) finds that, not only it is possible to support coal workers in the shift to a low-carbon economy, but these comprehensive policies are affordable.

UCS and UWUA estimated the number of coal miners and coal-fired power plant workers at risk of losing jobs before reaching age 65 as the coal industry declines, and identified the number of US counties at risk due to their direct link to coal.

Comprehensive support for these workers would include five years of wage replacement, health coverage, continued employer contributions to retirement funds or pension plans, and tuition and job placement assistance.

In total, the analysis finds these supports would cost roughly between $33 billion over 25 years and $83 billion over 15 years—a fraction of the trillions of dollars of needed investments in the energy system in coming decades as we shift to a low-carbon economy.

As the energy mix changes—rather than offer false hope for reinvigorated coal markets—we must plan thoughtfully and offer support to the workers and communities that have sacrificed so much to build this country.

The fight to define what ‘clean’ energy means

Read the full story at Gizmodo.

After four years of backsliding under former President Donald Trump, the U.S. is back to increasing its climate ambitions. But there’s a fight brewing over what exactly constitutes zero-carbon energy, showing that challenges decarbonization faces.

President Joe Biden has proposed a clean electricity standard to reduce emissions, and various proposals and bills would create one for the U.S. On Wednesday, though, 650 organizations including Climate Justice Alliance, Greenpeace, Food and Water Watch, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Friends of the Earth sent an open letter to Congress asking it to eschew the clean electricity standard proposals and take another route to clean energy, known as a renewable electricity standard, instead.

Scientists in State Politics

Addressing almost any issue – from facial recognition usage and automated vehicles to wildfires, superstorms and the many ramifications of pandemics – requires policymakers at all levels of government to quickly make critical decisions that are informed by increasingly complex scientific data and understanding.

With this database, the Eagleton Science and Politics Initiative presents the first iteration of a publicly accessible national inventory of elected state legislators with scientific, engineering and healthcare training.

Rutgers’ Eagleton Institute of Politics launches first public database of scientists in state politics

Read the full story from Rutgers University.

The Science and Politics Initiative at Rutgers’ Eagleton Institute of Politics has launched the first publicly accessible national database of elected state legislators with scientific, engineering and health care training.

Climate rules built to last

Read the full story on the Climate Law Blog.

President Biden, National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy and many others in the administration leadership have touted its highly ambitious, whole-government approach to taking the climate crisis. In the administration’s first three months, we have already seen this begin to take shape. Yet, even as global leaders convene for President Biden’s Earth Day climate summit to make major announcements about new climate pledges, the international community, still recovering from four years of Donald Trump’s climate denial and disengagement, has begun to push back, at least in places, against the idea of U.S. leadership in the climate policy space. The question they raise is a good one: Can Biden’s climate policies last, even if an anti-regulation, anti-science, anti-environment president once again sits in the White House?

Progressives formally reintroduce the Green New Deal

Read the full story at Politico.

Progressive lawmakers, led by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), on Tuesday formally revived their push for a Green New Deal, leaning into the framework to swiftly transition off fossil fuels that’s become a prominent foil for conservatives.

Buttigieg defends climate elements of American Jobs plan

Read the full story in Construction Dive.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee at a hearing Tuesday that measures to prevent climate change were integral to the success of the infrastructure projects in President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan. 

In his opening statement to the committee, Buttigieg noted that some critics of the climate elements of the plan said the spending proposal should address only assets like roads and bridges but pushed back against that opinion by comparing it to “drawing up plans for a new restaurant with no consideration for health, safety or cleanliness. The truth is that every infrastructure decision is already, inevitably a climate decision as well.”

Buttigieg also told the committee that the plan is the biggest jobs investment since World War II and that 40% of the plan’s climate investments would go to “overburdened and underserved communities, who often bear a disproportionate burden of transportation pollution.”

Energy policy Simulator

The Energy Policy Simulator (EPS) is an open-source model for estimating the environmental, economic, and human health impacts of hundreds of climate and energy policies. EPS offers unparalleled accessibility to the model through an easy-to-use web interface that allows non-technical users to model their own policy scenarios. In partnership with Energy Innovation, RMI is developing state-level versions of the EPS to make robust modeling tools and insights freely available to a diverse group of stakeholders including advocates, policymakers, and researchers.

In each state where the EPS becomes available, RMI and Energy Innovation publish insights and conduct stakeholder engagement to support use of the tool and drive focus on the highest impact policies that can bring emissions down in line with limiting atmospheric warming to 1.5°C. To date, the EPS is available in five states.

Read more about the Rocky Mountain Institute’s State Policy Analysis and Modeling initiative.

Climate Roadmap for U.S. Financial Regulation

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This report, prepared with the input of dozens of experts, provides a detailed “playbook” for financial regulators to integrate climate risk into their oversight responsibilities. It is organized in three broad parts: the first focuses on personnel, staffing, and agency organization across the U.S. financial regulatory system; the second on supervision and prudential regulation; and the third on capital markets regulation. These recommendations were prepared in the lead-up to the Biden Administration taking office and were shared during the transition process.

States Adopting ZEV Standards from California May Mean Automakers Have More Cars than Buyers

Read the full story at Environment + Energy Leader.

Across state capitols, the 2021 legislative session has seen the introduction of numerous pieces of legislation related to electric vehicles (EVs). While a significant number of these bills deal with the advancement of electric vehicle studies, rebates and charging infrastructure, a handful of states have introduced bills aimed at the adoption of California’s Advanced Clean Car Program zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) standards. The California ZEV standard requires automakers to deliver increasing percentages of ZEV vehicles, and California has signaled that it is committed to reaching a ZEV standard of 100% by 2035.

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