Category Archives: Climate Change

Trump Administration Repeals Obama-era Fracking Rules

The Trump Administration’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published in the Federal Registry on December 29, 2017 a revision to reverse a 2015 rule that contained strict standards for how one performs hydraulic fracking on public lands.

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/12/29/2017-28211/oil-and-gas-hydraulic-fracturing-on-federal-and-indian-lands-rescission-of-a-2015-rule

For the Administration, this is part of their ongoing effort to rollback regulations and to encourage domestic energy production that will reduce energy costs for businesses.
This final rule is a rescission of most of the Obama-era rule whose effective date was June 24, 2015, which contained standards for fracking operations on public lands, including identifying the chemicals and the nature of the mixture of water, sand and chemicals injected to loosen shale oil and gas from rocks where it has adhered. It also contains standards to reduce the chance of contact between the mixture and underground supplies of drinking water.
This brings the debate about fracking back to the fore.

While oil and gas companies and their supporters want greater freedom to perform fracking operations, environmentalists were split. Some wanted an absolute ban on fracking, as they desire a carbon-free future and have an energy future dominated by renewable energy. Others understood that promoting natural gas, which emits greenhouse gases at about half the rate of coal, and enabling it to be plentiful and cheap in order to displace coal, leading to progress in meeting climate change goals and eventually be replaced by renewables as its costs decline in the future. Obama Administration leaders took this latter tack, encouraging fracking to reduce energy prices, yet protecting the environment and public health, too.

In opposition to this, oil and gas developers argued their fracking processes were continually improving over time and there was little evidence of harming drinking water supplies. These groups sued to stop the 2015 fracking regulation without success. With the new administration more sympathetic to oil and gas company concerns, it was a matter of time until the Obama rule would be repealed or altered. Oil and gas companies understood that many states had its own regulations protecting drinking water supply and the local environment, and were willing to comply with each state’s rules as they work in those states.

CCES has the experts to keep you up-to-date with technical interpretations of federal and state and city rules on energy and make sure you get the best information. Marc Karell, P.E., Principal of CCES will speak about recent new New York City energy rules at the New York State Bar Association Annual Meeting on Thurs., Jan. 25 at 9:20 am. See http://www.nysba.org/am2018/ for more details.

Upcoming Trends In The LED Market

The use of more energy efficient LED lights to replace incandescents and fluorescent lights has reduced total carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 570 million tons in 2017, according to a report issued by IHS Markit, or by 1.5%.

LEDs achieve this because they are more efficient than current light sources, using, on average, 40% less electricity for the same amount of light compared to fluorescents and about 80% less electricity than incandescents. An incandescent filament source needs about 7 watts to produce about 100 lumens of light. A fluorescent source needs about 2 watts to produce the same light. Metal halides and high-pressure sodium bulbs about 1 watt. LEDs, however, can produce this same amount of light using just 0.5 watt. Given this differential at many thousands of facilities, encompassing hundreds of thousands of light sources, that is many megawatts of power not needed and, therefore, all the more oil or gas or coal that needs to be combusted to make that power. Thus the major reduction in CO2 emissions.

Although LED lights are more expensive than current light sources, these electrical reductions make converting to LED lights quite economical, “low hanging fruit”.
Initially, there was objection to LED lighting based on their inability to be dimmed or the quality of light not being complementary to certain uses. But in time, these issues have been resolved, and LED lights today are dimmable and can have its intensity altered.

Upcoming Trends

Case studies have shown that spaces lit by the right LEDs have a whiter or higher quality of light, resulting in better worker productivity and better school performance. More vendors are specializing in such LEDs that will more likely result in better performance as their way of separating themselves from the pack.

Another item that has been driving the LED market is government or utility incentives. Such organizations have paid some of the upfront cost to building owners willing to change out large quantities of lights because this represents a relief to a stressed utility infrastructure. However, as LED light prices have been coming down, these organizations realize that the pure economic benefit of a building upgrading their lighting with LEDs is great enough; incentives will not add that much to the fine payback LEDs result in. The trend in utilities is to use incentive funds for other, more expensive energy-saving technologies and less for LEDs.

Finally, LEDs were initially more popular in states like NY, NJ, CT, MA, and CA, partially because energy-saving and greenhouse gas-reducing is part of their cultures, but also because the economics were better there because electric rates are higher in those states than in others. However, with more competition and the further drop in LED prices, even in other US states where electric usage rates are lower, converting to LEDs makes a lot of sense financially. Expect to see sales rise in the Midwest and the South.

CCES has the experts to help you assess whether now is the time to convert to LEDs for your commercial space. We can evaluate potential savings, payback, and IRR for you to determine if this is the right time. If you go ahead with a conversion, CCES can manage the project for you, saving you time to concentrate on other things, while ensuring that anticipated cost savings and other benefits are achieved. You reduce cost without the hassle. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

Climate Change News End of Year – 2017

Trump Administration Reiterates Objection to Paris Climate Agreement

The big US climate change news of the year is President Trump’s announcement that the US will pull out of the Paris Climate Accord because developing nations would get to play by a different set of rules from those of the US. The Paris Accord is voluntary, however, as each country would determine how much greenhouse gas emissions it can reduce. At the time the Accord was signed, the Obama Administration said it would decrease US GHG emissions by 28% by 2025. The U.S. is already about halfway to meeting the goal due to large turnover of coal-fired power plants to natural gas and other changes, triggered by market forces. Meanwhile, China said that its GHG emissions would rise before tapering off around 2030 because of power plants already operating. As a developing country, China would be permitted to prioritize growth, even though it is the world’s largest GHG emitter. In addition, the richer nations will contribute to a $100 billion fund, seen as an investment, to help developing nations reduce GHGs. These areas are what the current administration object to, although the US would be the only nation in the world not to be part of the Accord if it pulls out.

While President Trump, despite discussions with world leaders, reiterated his desire for the US to pull out of the Paris accord late in the year. However, a series of horrific disasters (several major hurricanes and rain events and wildfires in California) in the second half of this year have widely been analyzed as having been worsened by climate change. As a result, public opinion polls indicate a solid majority of Americans (even conservatives) believe that climate change is real and harmful, and a majority believe the government should do something about it. Whether that will cause President Trump to reverse course and stay in the Paris Accord is unknown.

In the meantime, a number of US states and cities have stated that they will pursue policies that would reduce GHG emissions in alignment with those required of the Paris Accord. California is perhaps the most resistant to the federal rejection of the global agreement, and is looking to forge an agreement with other nations and provinces to establish a market-based system to encourage major GHG emitters to decrease emissions by global standards. Massachusetts has confirmed its goals initially formed through their Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008, an 80% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050. Both New York State and New York City have active plans to achieve the same goals.

EIA Projects 0.6% Annual Growth in GHG Emissions

The US Energy Information Administration projects that growth in global GHG emissions from energy-related sources will drop to 0.6%/year through 2040 despite increased energy consumption. See https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/ieo/. GHG emissions rose by about 1.8% per year from 1990 to 2015.

The EIA says that this decrease is/will be caused by the continued switch to renewable sources of energy, estimated to rise in use by an average 2.3% per year between 2015 and 2040. Nuclear power consumption is estimated to increase by 1.5% per year over that period. The small rise in GHG emissions is still projected despite these advances because of increases in energy-using processes due to projected business growth.

The EIA projects the average growth in commercial energy use of 1.2% per year from 2015 to 2040, with the highest rates of growth in developing nations.

US Supreme Court To Rule on Solar Power Growth and Regulation

On December 1, the US Supreme Court announced it would hear a case about whether a utility can charge ratepayers a fee for having solar panels. SolarCity initially sued Salt River Project, an Arizona utility, over its 2015 decision to charge a fee for solar power systems operated by individuals. SolarCity argued that these fees were implemented in order to make rooftop solar systems too expensive to be competitive, in violation of federal antitrust laws. Salt River Project argued that they had the right to levy this fee as part of its statutory pricing process, exempting it from federal antitrust laws.

A district court and circuit court made different rulings. The US Supreme Court expressed interest in deciding whether utilities are exempt from antitrust laws in its decision and rate and fee-setting process. The Court’s decision, expected in June 2018, will be closely watched by the solar power industry for its future ramifications.

CCES has the technical experts to help your entity (company or municipality) remain knowledgeable about changes in climate change rules and policies throughout the US, and about changes in technologies to help you assess the right policy and GHG emission reduction goal that is right for you. And to enable you to maximize financial benefits from addressing climate change. Contact us today at karell@CCESworld.com or at 914-584-6720.

Interest In New Gensets Is Growing

The number of facilities choosing to generate their own electricity using generators or “gensets” is growing. Companies are recognizing that the physical and business impacts of even one severe storm can undo all the planning a business does and even wipe out or severely hurt the business. In addition, with the acceptance of climate change as real the chances of a severe storm impacting a facility will rise in the future. A facility having its own secure source of electricity independent of the grid and its wires and vulnerable infrastructure can better ensure that basic functions can be maintained in a storm, saving personnel and processes and having electricity to maintain operations during such events. As a result, the genset market has been growing.

Part of this growth is due to another phenomenon, some utilities provide financial incentives for facilities to procure and operate gensets to relieve them as they are unsure of reliable power and don’t want to hurt key users in their area. In addition, several such programs require the genset operator to go off the utility’s grid and operate the genset for distinct periods during peak demand periods (hot weather) to relieve pressure on the grid. These programs, often called “Demand Response” or DR, can be lucrative for facilities. The utility pays most of the capital cost of the genset, the facility fully owns it, and they get paid a fee each time a DR event occurs and a genset is used.

One complication of such programs, however, is environmental. The federal Clean Air Act, followed by nearly all states, specifically exempts from permitting and meeting emission standards gensets that are used only in emergencies (this includes the necessary regular exercising of a unit). However, once a facility uses a genset in a DR program, this exemption goes away. Therefore, facilities entertaining joining a DR program must set aside budget and effort to obtain the proper air permit (or modify its existing one) and comply with any applicable emission standard. Nitrogen oxide (NOx) is the most common pollutant that is regulated. If the NOx emissions of your genset exceeds the regulatory standard, it may be necessary to retrofit the unit with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) or equivalent technology. The cost of such a retrofit can approach 6 figures. The USEPA designates models as meeting certain “tiered” standards. Tier 4 gensets are the most advanced and will likely currently meet all applicable emission regulations. Tier 3 gensets probably meet most of them. Tier 2 units probably do not meet many of them, again, if applicable. So if you are procuring a new genset, look to invest in a Tier 4 which should meet all applicable NOx emission standards. Particulate matter (PM) is sometimes regulated, too. A sure way to meet any PM standard is to combust natural gas, not to mention it is currently cheaper than oil. Natural gas-fired gensets are particularly selling well these days.

Finally, another variation of the genset that many facilities are considering is combined heat and power or CHP, where both steam and electricity are produced by the unit. The improvement in efficiency can save significant fuel costs. It is important for an experienced engineer to evaluate whether your demand for both steam and electricity and when the demand occurs will make CHP a good investment.

CCES can help your firm determine whether a genset or a CHP can be beneficial for you, as well as manage its procurement, installation, testing, and use to maximize the financial benefits. We can determine likely financial costs and savings. We can perform the needed environmental permitting and determine whether it meets existing applicable emission limits. Contact us today at karell@CCESworld.com or at 914-584-6720.

U.S. Climate Change News October 2017

Trump Administration Takes Steps To Repeal the Clean Power Plan. On October 10, 2017, USEPA Administrator Scott Pruitt submitted to the Federal Register proposed legislation to repeal the Clean Power Plan, President Obama’s signature legislation to significantly reduce U.S. greenhouse gases (GHG) by developing stringent GHG emission standards for power production. As coal-fired power plants cannot reasonably meet these emission standards. The USEPA believes it is unfair to have legislation to target a particular fuel type, and began the repeal process to encourage growth in coal usage from U.S. mines. This is quite controversial as coal, a high emitter of GHGs, as well as other and toxic compounds, is still a major source of energy in the U.S. electric industry. By encouraging coal production and use, the U.S. would be hard-pressed to meet the Paris Climate Accord goals, although President Trump has already announced that the U.S. will leave the Accord anyway. In addition, much has been written that this move may make little difference, as other economic factors makes coal a non-ideal choice as a fuel for a utility (see below), such as the declining cost of building and operating a renewable plant. The public has 60 days from initial publication in the Federal Register to comment after which the USEPA must respond before making the repeal official.

States, Cities And Private Businesses Put U.S. Halfway To Paris Climate Accord Goal. According to a study released on September 25 by New Climate Institute and the Climate Group, efforts to address climate change by states, cities and corporations have already put the U.S. halfway toward its Paris Accord climate goal despite the current Administration’s attempt to reverse recent federal efforts. The study estimated that such efforts will cause GHG emissions to drop by 12-14% below the 2005 baseline by 2025. The study, based on certified data from the Carbon Disclosure Project, found that U.S. private sector commitments were the biggest factor in reducing GHG emissions. The decline in emissions are being caused mainly by these commitments of switching from fossil fuel combustion to renewable power.

First State-Wide, Economy-Wide Carbon Tax Is Proposed. Earlier this year, a bill was introduced in the Massachusetts House and another in the Senate that would establish a tax on fossil fuels with the goals to reduce GHG emissions and return the proceeds to consumers and businesses. https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H1726. Both bills would impose an initial tax of $10 or $20 per ton of CO2 emissions, rising to $40 per ton in the future. Several years ago, the USEPA estimated that the cost of a ton of GHG emissions was about $42 per ton, which was why they chose this endpoint. It was understood it needed to be approached gradually. Both bills require refunding of some or all of the tax proceeds to households and businesses.
It is estimated that should either bill become law the price of gasoline and heating fuel in Massachusetts would eventually rise by about 35 cents per gallon. The bills contain rebate programs to incentivize energy efficiency, rewarding businesses or households that reduce energy usage per employee (or member), not just energy usage as a whole.

Currently, Massachusetts enforces GHG reduction rules targeted to power plants. However, with electric generation comprising just 28% of GHG emissions in Massachusetts, legislators felt it was time to regulate other sectors, as well, particularly, the transportation sector, which accounts for about 30% of statewide GHG emissions.

While certain business groups are concerned about competitiveness and disproportionate impacts, the bills have many co-sponsors. Therefore, it is likely that some such bill will pass and with a sympathetic governor, a carbon tax would become law in Massachusetts, perhaps signed in 2018, going into initial effect in 2019.

CCES has the technical experts to help you assess your energy needs and help you be more energy efficient, which has many financial benefits, including preparing for future carbon taxes or monetization of GHG emission credits. Contact us today and we can help at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

Future of the Clean Power Plan Under Pruitt

September 2017

It is well known in this first year of the Trump Administration that many existing rules – particularly those promulgated during the Obama Administration – are being weakened, delayed, or repealed. One example is the Clean Power Plan, meant to regulate emissions from coal-fired power plants. The Obama era rule is being litigated in court. USEPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has used this as justification to state that the agency would not object to any state delaying its implementation of the Clean Power Plan and not follow any part of the schedule stated in the promulgated Plan. A number of state attorneys general have issued a letter warning Pruitt that these actions are ill-advised and potentially illegal. This matter is heading to court. After all, Congress has not amended the rule, no court has not called the Plan unconstitutional, and the US Supreme Court continues to cite greenhouse gases as legitimate pollutants that the USEPA must regulate. A presidential executive order earlier this year for the government to not enforce the law apparently has no legal standing.

The Clean Power Plan would require reductions in CO2 emissions from 2005 levels by 32% by 2030. Ironically, the US is already about half way there, independent of the rule, mainly because of market forces encouraging many power plants to switch from coal to natural gas as its fuel; gas combustion results in much lower CO2 emissions than coal.

The US Court of Appeals last year upheld the objections of some parties to the Plan, and subsequently allowed the delay of some aspects of it. But that court substantiated that the Plan is still the rule of law and only some deadlines can be bypassed.

In addition to a number of states objecting to the delays in administering the Clean Power Plan, a number are also promulgating their own new rules and standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and from other sources in response to the Trump Administration announcement that it would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. They are using Paris goals for their own new rules. Many Fortune 500 companies are also creating and implementing their own plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, understanding the financial benefits from doing so. With the states and major corporations together achieving major greenhouse gas emission reductions, it may not matter what the courts rule about the validity of the Clean Power Plan, the US involvement in the Paris Agreement, and other climate change rules.

Please note that this article is not meant in any way as a legal briefing or discussion. Please do your own research in terms of the future of climate change or any environmental legislation. CCES can help your company reduce your “carbon footprint”, achieve long-lasting greenhouse gas emission reductions, and do so in ways to benefit you financially, from reduced utility bills to improved productivity to reduced maintenance costs to higher asset values. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

It Is Not Only Climate Change; Evidence That U.S. Toxic Air Pollution Still Harms Many

Of course, Climate Change is a big news item. How can it not be? The entire scientific community is in agreement that mechanisms are in place that will cause drastic changes to our climate and, therefore, our whole economy and way of life in a relatively short time. And President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement has heightened the concern. Many in the media, when addressing Climate Change, show pictures of people walking around with masks over the faces and or stacks with large quantities of colored smoke escaping into the atmosphere. That has little to do with Climate Change. In fact, what it represents is a different, serious problem, and that is emissions of toxic air pollutants which can affect the health of people downwind of a source. While the U.S. has made great strides in the last 40 years of bringing down the ambient levels of many toxic compounds, a June 2017 study in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that toxic air pollution is still a major problem, and leads to the premature deaths of thousands of Americans each year. See: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1702747. This is particularly true for the pollutants ozone and PM-10 (fine particulate matter).

The study estimates that about 12,000 lives can be prolonged annually by reducing the ambient level of fine particulate matter by 1 microgram per cubic meter below the current USEPA standards. The Clean Air Act requires the USEPA to revisit emission standards of criteria pollutants every 5 years, and adjust them accordingly based on the latest scientific knowledge. A House Committee recently passed a bill slowing down the oversight to once every 10 years.

A recent article in Scientific American (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-other-reason-to-shift-away-from-coal-air-pollution-that-kills-thousands-every-year/) discusses this in detail, and recommends continuing the movement to shift away from coal-fired power plants to natural gas. This trend has been touted as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, thus, addressing Climate Change. However, the article points out that these benefits are actually minor because increased digging for natural gas and other leaks leads to greater methane emissions, which is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. The article points out that replacing coal-fired with natural gas-fired power plants would be more effective extending live, reducing hospitalizations, which would save the US economy tens of billions of dollars each year in hospital costs and productivity gains.

Yes, let’s focus on Climate Change because of the extreme, irreversible changes that are likely to occur if not properly addressed. But let’s remember that while the U.S. has made progress, there is still a ways to go to further protect public health in the U.S. and worldwide due to toxic compounds that are emitted from the same sources.

CCES has the experience to assess your emissions inventory and to develop a cost-effective plan to reduce emissions to meet regulatory requirements and improve your impacts. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com.

Future of Renewable Energy Investments

The young Trump Administration and the House of Representatives have published preliminary tax reform plans that will likely have an adverse effect on the future growth of renewable energy in the US. If enacted, these may be a dis-investment for new projects. While exact details are unknown, as this is published, the fear of future dis-incentives to build or finance a project itself has a chilling effect.

One matter that has not been discussed openly is the future of renewable energy tax credits. Currently, investments in solar and wind projects are eligible for an investment tax credit. However, over the next few years the credit, used for many solar projects, is scheduled to decrease to and remain at 10% beginning in 2022. The production tax credit for producing power from wind will phase out entirely in 2020. Might the Trump Administration accelerate the decrease in these incentives or eliminate them sooner? During his confirmation hearings, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said that he does not intend to accelerate the phase-out of the production tax credit.

Note that the current renewable energy credit programs result in tax credits that can only be used to offset taxes (not increase a refund). With the proposed major reduction in corporate and individual income tax rates and accelerated write-offs for business expenses, the value of renewable energy credits would therefore be sharply reduced (lower taxes to offset with credits from a renewable energy project). This could take away the financial incentive to invest in large-scale renewable energy projects.
The Trump Administration’s proposed tax reform also includes a border adjustment tax, raising the cost of imported material and equipment. Since many solar and wind farms components come from China, this could add to the cost of new projects, if adopted.

In another tax-related item concerning energy, 22 US Senators recently introduced a bill containing a proposed extension of EPAct (Section 179D of the IRS Code) until 2019 and beyond. EPAct allows a building owner (or significant contributor for tax-exempt buildings) to earn tax deductions for successful energy efficiency projects. EPAct has expired and is currently not in effect. The proposed bill contains changes to the old language, including new technology-neutral tax incentives for clean energy. If this version of the bill is enacted, the maximum deduction for energy efficiency projects would increase to $4.75/sq.ft., based on achieving a minimum of $1.00/sq.ft. deduction for achieving a 25% reduction against the ASHRAE 90.1-2016 standard, and an additional $0.25/sq.ft. for every additional 5% reduction above that. The proposed bill also contains a new provision, entitling building owners to achieve a tax deduction of up to $9.25/sq.ft. for comprehensive energy upgrades that exceed energy saving targets. While the old 179D allows minor deductions for small upgrades, the proposed version would reward a building owner that exceeds robust energy goals. It is unsure whether this new version of 179D will pass Congress and, if so, when.

In summary, while details are unknown, the proposed new tax reforms of the new Administration may potentially hurt renewable energy projects. At this early stage, it is unknown whether these proposals will be enacted and in what form. Might the changes be enacted and the renewable energy industry in the US be hurt in order to raise revenue to offset the many tax rate reductions the reform plan currently proposes or as a way to discourage renewable energy and encourage growth of fossil fuel plants? The answers are unknown, but the implications should be part of any company’s planning.

This is meant as a general overview based on publicly published material. Discuss specific implications for your business with your accounting or tax professional. CCES is here to help you with technical assessments of your energy usage and systems. We can present sound technical strategies to reduce your energy use and peak demand and save you considerable cost and provide other tangible, financial advantages, as well. Contact us today at karell@CCESworld.com or at 914-584-6720.

Some Thoughts About the U.S. Leaving the Paris Climate Accord

June 2017

Of course, this blog and newsletter stays away from politics. But I will make a rare exception here just because the name of our firm, Climate Change & Environmental Services, is so close to the news at hand: President Trump decided that the U.S. should pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement. I wish to share some thoughts about it. Please feel free to comment, in agreement or disagreement. Respectful comments are what our democracy is about.

First of all, the withdrawal was no surprise. While I am not a professional psychologist nor have ever met President Trump, it is pretty obvious that he is a narcissist. He thinks of himself and raising he ego first, second, and at all times. Part of that is he not a team player. He thinks of himself first with others to be used and tossed away, even his most loyal supporters, whether they be contractors working on his projects or his own government professionals who he has embarrassed by changing his story. Thus, he would never have accepted being part of a deal where he represented only one of 195 countries, even if it were the most powerful. He does not know how to abide by rules and compromise meant for many. And especially in a topic he knows little about and probably fed falsehoods by some advisors. Nobody should have been surprised.

That said, I have my problems with the Paris Climate Agreement, in line with many critics (and Trump supporters): that it has no punitive actions for countries that do not succeed in their GHG emission reduction goals. This is no different from the previous Kyoto Accord. For example, Canada not only did not reduce GHG emissions by its goal in that Accord, but raised theirs significantly due to its discovery in the ‘90’s of the tar sands in Alberta. With the windfall Canadian companies made from that, even punitives would not have hurt Canada. How much might they have been fined? And who would collect it? And this went on for other countries, too. Same thing with the Paris Climate Agreement. Who would have the nerve and ability to “fine” a country for not making its goals and how much? Billions? However, that said, an agreement is an agreement and even one with flaws is better – given the Climate Change crisis facing us all – than business as usual. So it was important to work through this framework, and a missed opportunity for the U.S. to lead in Climate Change response and technology.

I am heartened, however, by the response to President Trump’s withdrawal by leaders in the U.S.: mayors, governors, and many business leaders. They have said they will re-double their efforts to reduce GHG emissions and use renewable power. They see the many business advantages of doing so, and will continue to do so. Let’s hope that their efforts will help the many, many small businesses and smaller governments in the U.S. to have the motivation to move forward and to help make such technologies affordable to them. If this momentum can grow and people see the advantages of addressing Climate Change issues, then this withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement may turn out – unexpectedly – to be a positive for the U.S. after all.

CCES has the experts to help you be on the right side of things when it comes to a Climate Change program and to help your company or entity get the greatest economic benefits from doing the right thing concerning GHG emission reductions with the lease disruption in your operations. Contact us today for a free discussion at karell@CCESworld.com or at 914-584-6720.

Be Careful Of What We Say In Environmental Communications

There has been a lot of talk and concern about the lack of scientific thought in many of the pronouncements of the Trump Administration. Scientific facts are discarded and simplistic non-truths are becoming the backbone of some decisions in the energy, environmental, and health areas. I don’t mean to play politics here, but this seems to be predominantly the doing of the “Tea Party” and other right-wing groups, trying to deny the validity of climate change and the importance of environmental stewardship, all in the name of “small” government or short-term economic and jobs growth.

As an engineer and citizen, I feel this is terrible. But, this has been well-covered, and I don’t wish to “pile on” here. I do want to note that this is not unique to the right wing of the US political spectrum. I have seen examples of scare tactics and lack of reasoning from the left wing environmental community, also. We need to be vigilant and hold all sides accountable. Everyone (right or left) is entitled to their opinions, but not their facts.

What brings this to mind is an environmental group local to where I live (which shall remain nameless) which puts out many misleading emails and articles, that a common situation is so untenable, that it will lead to public health or environmental disaster. The other thing they do is attack a certain facility or process, demanding it be shut down without discussing what would replace it.

I know the person who runs the organization. She’s smart and has quite a personal story. I have tremendous respect for her. But she has only superficial knowledge of environmental matters, and, again, feels that everything is a tragedy about to happen.

A few years ago, we both gave presentations at a local environmental event. I gave an overview for the general public about what climate change is and what scientists know about it. In explaining greenhouse gases, I stated the fact that GHGs are not in and of themselves toxic even at elevated concentrations, but cause the trapping of radiation to conserve energy from leaving into outer space. We have lived in balance with a certain GHG concentration in the atmosphere, but now are affecting it adversely. Afterwards, she took me aside and berated me for saying anything “positive” about GHGs. They were the bad guys, in her view, and needed to be seen as such. I challenged her to find any published article that states that GHGs have direct toxic effects and I’ll personally apologize to the event organizer and reach out to every attendee with a correction. She never did (of course). I told her the only way we can fight climate change effectively is for the public to fully understand the topic. It is not simple (“good guy” vs. “bad guy”) with a simple solution if only governments understood as she does.

Her organization is sponsoring a movie about zero waste and she put out an email about it and advocating the shutdown of our county’s waste-to-energy facility. It releases toxic compounds, she wrote, affecting all our health. We are in a dangerous area with high ozone and particulate levels. We must shut down the facility ASAP.

There are so many holes to her arguments. Zero waste is a great concept; I am for it. However, cities (San Francisco comes to mind) have had this as a formal goal and spent millions to research and implement and has failed. This is not something that will be achieved overnight. Even if the techniques and technologies are developed to do so, there is always the implementation by cities, counties, etc. and the willingness of the public to use them (many don’t like change or an added expense). As for the waste-to-energy facility, yes, it is certainly not emissions-free, but it operates under a Title V Permit which mandates compliance with several state and federal air quality rules specific for such facilities, developed with public health in mind. It has continuous emission monitors and does annual testing to ensure these emission standards are met.

The county that the facility is in (as well as where the movie is being shown) was recently moved from severe to moderate ozone non-attainment, and has not had an exceedance in nearly 3 years. Besides, it has been demonstrated that most of the ozone forerunners come from sources many miles upwind of our county. This facility is not the cause of the current ozone non-attainment, nor would shutting it down solve this. The county meets the particulate attainment standard (why did they say it does not?).

Finally, the statement from the group demands the immediate shut down of the facility. Fine. But what would one do with the garbage? The alternative is to truck it to a landfill, hundreds of miles away. Given the size of the facility, that would mean hundreds of trucks traveling this distance daily, combusting diesel fuel oil. The use of any fossil fuel is another frequent target of their attack. So they are indirectly promoting a solution they oppose. Conveniently not mentioned in the email! Not to mention this alternative would require many workers to be in contact with the waste, risking their health. And not to mention the methane gas and other pollutants potentially emitted from the landfill. Methane is 21 times more potent than the CO2 emitted from the waste-to-energy facility.

So, we in the environmental community also need to be careful what we say in our writings. That what we say and write is scientifically grounded, thorough, and accurate; is not wishful thinking nor simplistic; and that alternative scenarios are thought through.

I am curious your thoughts and experiences. Please let me know what you think of this.

CCES can help your company develop a science-based, effective environmental and energy program that can meet achievable goals and can help you communicate this with the public and with regulators. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at karell@CCESworld.com