Some things to know about the Clean Power Plan

August 5, 2015

Its here!

Yesterday President Obama and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy revealed the Clean Power Plan. As McCarthy put it, it was “an incredibly wicked cool moment.” But what does it mean?

In short, the plan aims to reduce carbon pollution nation wide by 32% by 2030 by putting limits on how much carbon can be put into the atmosphere by power plants. This is the first time such limits have ever been set, truly a “wicked cool moment.” But I’m sure you want more than the short of it.

To help answer the question I’ve compiled information from a few great articles and sources (all at the bottom) from the internet for you. If you have others you like feel free to post in the comments or tweet at us, @ORsierraclub:

The Plan will cut carbon pollution that is fueling Climate Change:McCarthyvideostill

Power Plants are the largest emitters of carbon pollution in the United States. They total about one third of all the emissions we generate. When fully implemented in 2030 the Clean Power Plan will reduce our carbon pollution by 870 million tons. That’s 166 million cars or 70% of our passenger vehicles off the road.

It will protect6a00d83451b96069e201a3fd38a3db970b our health:

By 2030, each year there will be 3600 fewer premature deaths, 90,000 asthma attacks, 1700 heart attacks, and 300,000 missed days of school and work. That’s because when we limit carbon emissions we are also limiting 318,000 tons of sulfur dioxide and 282,000 tons of nitrogen dioxide. Both gases contribute to soot and smog that make people sick.

 

It will help protect low income communities and communities of color:

The impacts of burning dirty fuels are disproportionately felt by low income communities and communities of color. Van Jones put it best in his CNN piece about the Plan: “The clean power plan will massively help minorities and low-income Americans. After all, one in six black kids and one in nine Latino children has asthma. Seventy-eight percent of African-Americans live within 30 miles of a dirty, polluting coal plant. African-Americans are also more likely to live in coastal areas and die during heat waves.” You should read his entire blog linked in the notes.

It will save us money on our utility bills:

When you total up the health and climate related benefits of the Clean Power Plan we’re looking at upwards of $45 billion of savings when fully implemented. That’s a lot of money that could be going to a lot of other great causes and issues. Bottom line, by 2030 the average American household can expect save around $7 a month on their utility bills. That’s not chump change.

It puts our state in the driver’s seat:

The Clean Power Plan sets carbon pollution standards for power plants across the country, but sets individual state goals based on each state’s current energy mix and what unique opportunities exist in each state. To make is easy the EPA has even created a model rule that states can adopt that guarantees their compliance with the Plan. If they don’t like that plan they can cut carbon pollution anyway they want as long as they meet the goals. This mean big opportunities to be leaders for states like Oregon.

We’ve got a good start to build from in Oregon:

Its Oregon’s time shine. We are already doing some things to move the energy sector to a fossil fuel free future and are on our way to meeting our goals in the Clean Power Plan, but there is a great deal more that needs to be done.

Renewable energy production in Oregon has grown 159% since 2008 and Oregon has a renewable portfolio standard that require utilities to generate 25% of their electricity with renewable sources by 2025. Our only coal fired power plant is already scheduled to go offline. Many Oregon cities and counties have climate plans of their own. Our Low Carbon Fuel Standard will reduce carbon pollution from our transportation sector.

More to do:beyond-coal-campaign-sierra-club-logo-large

Did you know that Oregon already has goals to reduce our carbon pollution 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Unfortunately those are just goals and aren’t enforceable in any sector. We could challenge the nation and lead by making these goals rules rather than aspirations. Leading this way will spur clean energy and efficiency development and create a center for innovation here in Oregon and the economic benefits that come with it.

Utilities are also looking to replace their coal fired energy production with natural gas fired power plants instead of clean renewable energy. We must move away from fossil fuels, not toward them. Gas is not clean and added are the impacts of fracking and methane releases from wells. Natural gas is not a long term solution. We need our utilities to be planning for a fossil fuel free future.

Multinational corporations are also hoping that Oregon and the Pacific Northwest will be a tap for dirty fuels on the global market. We need our elected officials and state agencies to stand up and say “no way.”  We have to decide if we want to talk about climate leadership or really show what that leadership looks like. We can’t talk about reducing our own carbon pollution while allowing big oil, gas, and coal to ship their dirty fuels around the globe for others to burn.

It is equally important that as we begin to comply with the Clean Power Plan and take further climate action that our changes are not burdens to low income communities or communities of color. These communities disproportionately  are impacted by the negative consequences of our current energy system, both from climate change and pollution. Our Climate Action Plan should serve as a means to lessen those impacts on those most in need of relief, not add to them. In addition the benefits of clean energy should be shared equally and not go to further these inequalities and benefit some more than others.

I fully applaud the President and Administrator McCarthy for their leadership and for producing the Clean Power Plan. I also call on our elected officials to not rest here, to continue to lead and push for further carbon reductions and an end to the fossil fuel era. I also call on you to make sure elected officials are accountable for their actions or lack of action when it comes to climate. As the President said yesterday in his announcement “If we don’t do it nobody will.”

Notes:

EPA Blog post: Six things every American Should Know about the Clean Power Plan

Oregonian: Oregon Already on a path to meet Obama’s new clean power goals

CNN: Busted: Three Myths About Obama’s Climate Plan by Van Jones

EPA: Clean Power Plan State Specific Fact Sheets

Whitehouse: What the Clean Power Plan Means for America

Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club’s Statement on the Clean Power Plan

 


The Adverse Effects of Climate Change in Oregon

September 23, 2013

Climate change is gradually unveiling itself throughout the Pacific Northwest in a variety of ways, including alterations in precipitation and temperature that will ultimately affect numerous industries in the state of Oregon. More specifically, agriculture, skiing, forestry, and salmon will all be impacted by Oregon’s changing climate. Salmon are often identified as an iconic species for the Pacific Northwest, as well as a keystone species in many ecosystems, thus their endangerment as a result of warming temperatures is an extremely significant issue. Warmer temperatures in Oregon will result in more rain precipitation and less snowfall, which will cause overall smaller annual snow-packs and consequently altered stream-flow times. An increase in precipitation could potentially cause frequent floods, therefore increasing mortality rates among salmon eggs due to gravel aggravation. The salmon life cycle may also be affected as a result of snow-pack melting earlier in the spring, hence disrupting the normal migration patterns for sea-bound fish.  Additionally, warmer river temperatures bring an influx of problems for developing salmon, such as providing ideal habitat for other fish species that pose as competitors or predators of salmon, thus lowering their survival rates. Warm water temperatures may also provide insufficient nutrients and resources for developing salmon.

Sockeye Salmon

Sockeye Salmon

Evidently, salmon will be negatively affected by climate change in countless ways, thus the management and restoration of salmon habitat has the utmost importance when dealing with global warming in the Pacific Northwest. Salmon are also crucial to the livelihoods of many Native American tribes of the Northwest, which is another incentive to protect and restore their delicate habitats. The Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition is a large group of organizations devoted to the protection and restoration of native salmon species in the Columbia and Snake river basins. Visit their page to learn more about their efforts in the Northwest!

While salmon will undoubtedly be adversely impacted by warming temperatures, there are other consequences of climate change in Oregon that also hold significance, such as agriculture. More frequent droughts could reduce water supply needed for sufficient irrigation, growing seasons could be altered, and an invasion of pests may arrive due to warmer temperatures. All of these concerns may jeopardize the stability of Oregon’s agriculture industry. Health distresses may also become significant if Oregon begins to see increased smog as a result of higher temperatures. Pollen seasons could be longer as well, posing additional threats to people with allergies or asthma. Economically, many industries in Oregon will most likely be affected because of a disruption in BPA hydroelectric power, due to a lower water supply in the summer months. Moreover, the skiing industry could disappear altogether if winter snow-pack is dramatically reduced. Frequent droughts in the summertime will bring recurrent and heightened wildfires, so the timber industry could likewise be adversely affected. Clearly, Oregon is already seeing the effects of a changing climate, but many unforeseen consequences are possible in the near future, which is why Oregonians need to use mitigation and management to alleviate these impending costs.  To learn more about climate change in Oregon, visit this OEC page for details regarding climate impacts, protection, solutions, and more!

The list of ways in which Oregon is affected by global warming is innumerable as well as unpredictable. Unfortunately, climate change is already underway, so many of these consequences are most likely irreversible. However, putting a stop to CO2 emissions could possibly help slow down the warming of our planet, thus discontinuing dirty oil and coal drilling could help to alleviate our problems. This is why climate change in Oregon can directly be related to oil exploration in the Arctic, because increased drilling would only increase our reliance on nonrenewable energy sources, hence furthering emissions and enhancing global warming. The Oregon Chapter of Sierra Club is working diligently to fight against Arctic oil development in the Chill the Drills campaign to help alleviate climate impacts not only in the Arctic, but in Oregon as well.


Oregon Chapter takes on Chill the Drills Campaign

July 8, 2013

Protecting America’s Arctic from oil development is a prominent issue that demands nationwide support, which is why the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club is finally taking charge to stop additional oil drilling in Alaska.

Chill the Drills CampaignAlaska is home to America’s greatest wilderness that encompasses a wide range of refuges and habitats, including the coastal plains of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the pristine Brooks Range Mountains and the vast Chukchi Sea. Protecting these areas from oil development has the utmost importance because they’re home to numerous endangered species, including the famed polar bear. While the Arctic is under the spotlight for oil development, it’s also a region that could potentially be hardest hit by the side effects of global warming. The combined pressures of both climate change and oil drilling completely jeopardize the health and beauty of Alaska’s wilderness, which is why Oregonians need to step up and let our politicians know our stance on the issue of oil drilling.

Coal mining and oil drilling in the Arctic will continue America’s reliance on dirty, nonrenewable energy sources which will further the negative consequences of global warming. By protecting the migratory corridors between wilderness areas and refuges in Alaska, wildlife will have easier access to move when pressures from global warming and oil development transpire.

The Sierra Club, including the Oregon Chapter, is now working with the Obama Administration as well as Congress, to pass legislature to permanently protect the numerous wilderness areas in Alaska. In addition, the Sierra Club is also working with Alaskan Native communities to protect their subsistence livelihoods from resource depletion by oil companies. An Arctic Conservation Plan is also in the works to organize a comprehensive preservation strategy to permanently protect the coastal areas of the Arctic Refuge and the Arctic Ocean.

Oregonians can play their part in the Chill the Drills campaign  by contacting Senator Wyden and asking him to advocate for permanent protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.


In Oregon, Student Governments Call for a Future Beyond Coal

June 1, 2010

It began in January, when Portland General Electric (PGE) made a big announcement: the major Oregon utility, partial owner and sole operator of the Boardman Coal Plant, proposed a possible timeline for phasing out reliance on Boardman.  That was the good news: after months of work on the part of climate activists, PGE had finally acknowledged the risks of associated with their coal-fired coal plant.  The bad news?  The soonest transition date proposed by PGE fell woefully short of what’s needed to protect Oregon’s environment, our economy, and ratepayers being subjected to the risks of coal dependency.  Under PGE’s proposed “2020 Plan,” the Boardman Plant would remain open for a minimum of ten more years.

Media outlets in the Northwest were a-flurry with the news that PGE wanted to decommission its coal plant.  Laudatory news articles and editorials poured in, the vast majority framing the issue as one of the PGE responding to public concerns by doing the right thing for the environment.  Unfortunately, few stories in the mainstream media probed deeply into the validity of claims PGE made to justify their preferred timetable.  Most news sources accepted PGE’s arguments at face value, never asking the essential question of whether a private utility that answers to Wall Street investors should be trusted to essentially regulate itself.  Read the rest of this entry »


Oregon Board of Forestry announces Sept. 9 meeting on state forests – more logging while failing to protect and restore rivers and streams

August 26, 2009

LittleNorthForkWilsonWhy is the Kulongoski administration failing to protect Oregon’s Tillamook and Clatsop state Forests?

At its meeting on Wednesday, September 9, the Oregon Board of Forestry plans to move forward with a proposal to significantly reduce environmental protection across the 500,000 acre Tillamook and Clatsop state forests in NW Oregon, at the expense of wild salmon, clean water, a healthy climate and recreation.

In its plans to run state forests more like industrial tree farms, the Board, with assistance from the Oregon Department of Forestry, will also begin revising the Greatest Permanent Value (GPV) mandate that governs these state lands in order to put a greater focus on timber production instead of other values like recreation, clean water, carbon sequestration and fish and wildlife habitat.

Unfortunately, Governor Kulongoski has shown strong support for efforts to shift state forest management to a ‘timber first’ approach.

Please contact Governor Kulongoski today and urge him to:

  • Support a strong salmon protection plan by opposing clearcuting in Salmon Anchor Habitats
  • Support the creation of long term and permanent conservation areas
  • Reduce conflicts of interest on the Board of Forestry by appointing more conservation advocates and scientists
  • Support a state forest management plan that restores watersheds damaged by past logging and enhances values like recreation, wild salmon, carbon sequestration and clean water .

The Board of Forestry meeting, which is open to the public, is scheduled for Wednesday, September 9 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Oregon Garden hotel, 895 W. Main St., Silverton. Join the Sierra Club and other conservation advocates in showing your support for more environmental protection on our state lands.

Background:

At its June 3 meeting, the Oregon Board of  Forestry – in a controversial decision opposed by fishing and conservation groups – decided to move forward with plans to dramatically increase clearcut logging on the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests between the Portland area and the Coast. This started the ball rolling on a plan to open up tens of thousands of acres of older forests on state lands to new logging in coming years, despite strong evidence this logging increase will lead to damaged rivers, streams and fisheries. Based on flawed assumptions that increased logging will create jobs in the timber industry during extremely weak demand for lumber and a depressed housing market, the timber-centric Board of Forestry has chosen to prioritize logging over all other important values in these state forests, including the growing recreation economy, carbon sequestration and healthy fisheries.

How you can make a difference:

The Oregon Board of Forestry is planning a public meeting on Wednesday, September 9  from 8 am to 4pm in Silverton (note change from the regularly Salem location). It is at this meeting that they will decide how to move forward with their misguided logging plans, as well as whether to fundamentally alter the ‘greatest permanent value’ rule which currently  requires that logging be balanced with other non-timber values on these state forests.

If you care about protecting our state forests from unsustainable logging, please consider attending the Sept. 9 Board meeting in Silverton and testifying to your opposition to their June 3 decision. At a minimum, please visit Governor Kulongoski’s comment website to register your opposition to the Board’s pro-timber bias and failure to protect watershed health, recreation and non-timber values on our state lands. The Governor is currently backing the Board’s decision to prioritize logging above other values such as healthy fish runs, clean water, recreation and carbon sequestration.


Oregon Legislative Update – Protecting Our Environment

March 23, 2009

A quick update from the Oregon Legislature. There’s only a little more than one month left for bills to pass out of their committee of origin before they either die or make it to the next level. We’ve got write ups with up-to-date information on some of the key bills we are tracking at http://www.oregon.sierraclub.org/tracker.

We have three ‘action alerts’ set up to make it easy for you to send emails to your legislator on these bills. The one on HB 2534 is brand new, in advance of a public hearing on Tuesday, March 24. The three action alerts are:

Cap and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Pollution – Supporter SB 80 and HB 2186

Stopping LNG terminals and pipelines – Support HB 2015

Pass the Oregon Environmental Quality Act – Yes on HB 2534

Please consider sending an email to your Rep. and the House Environment and Water Committee in support of HB 2534 in advance of the Tuesday hearing.


LNG Public Protection Act Introduced!

March 6, 2009

The LNG Public Protection Act, HB 2015, has been introduced. Click here to send an email to your legislator.

This bill would protect Oregon from the multiple LNG terminals and hundreds of miles of pipelines that threaten Oregon’s rivers and streams, farmland, and forests.  Find our more information on the threats that LNG poses to Oregon here.


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