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Trump has reheated debate with US withdrawal from Paris Agreement, former UN climate chief says

Speaking on sidelines of three-day World Sustainable Built Environment Conference in Hong Kong, Christiana Figueres insisted the global shift towards reducing carbon emissions would not be shaken.

The United Nations’ former climate chief has struck a defiant note against US President Donald Trump [1]’s pullout from the landmark Paris accord, insisting the global shift towards reducing carbon emissions will not be shaken.

In an interview with the Post, Christiana Figueres, who formerly headed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, even “thanked” Trump for effectively reinvigorating the discussion over global warming and making it headline news again. But she admitted it was sad to see the US give up its leading role.

“The announcement was a political message that Mr Trump wanted to give out, geared toward his political base,” said Figueres, who headed the negotiations leading to the Paris agreement in 2015 [3]

“Most of the US economy, most cities, states and corporations, will continue because they know its in their own interest.”

She was speaking on the sidelines of the three-day World Sustainable Built Environment Conference in Hong Kong on Monday, the city’s largest ever conference on sustainable buildings and urban development. Tackling climate change [4] in the face of rapid urbanisation is the key theme.

Trump’s politically-motivated gesture, Figueres said, would have limited impact on America, given that more than 175 US mayors, a growing number of states and more than 1,000 corporations had pledged to continue upholding commitments to the Paris Agreement.

“It is the White House which stepped out of [Paris], not the US economy,” she said. “That’s actually a sad statement to make as under normal conditions, a president should speak for the economy and the majority.”

Figueres brushed off Trump’s announcement as one riddled with inaccuracies, not least because there was no legal basis for it – no country can withdraw from the accord until three years after ratification – and his claims of bringing back coal industry jobs.

“It is not feasible and Mr Trump knows it,” she said, adding that most coal jobs had already been killed by cheap natural gas as a result of the recent shale revolution, and mining jobs had been taken over by mechanisation and automation.

“It will be increasingly difficult for other heads of state to take Mr Trump seriously,” she added, suggesting that Trump had undermined his country’s credibility.

Figueres said it would be inevitable that China – the world’s biggest carbon emitter – continued the charge as its leaders recognised decarbonisation was “good for their economy”.

Figueres, who now vice-chairs the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, said built-up environments contributed to one-fifth of global emissions. The conference was being held in Hong Kong as it was a gateway to Asia, she said.

“Asia marks whether the world is going to succeed in climate change actions or not.”

Tobacco To Fossil Fuels: Tracing the Roots of Trump’s Claims on Paris Climate Deal

To understand why President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the global Paris climate agreement, we might start by looking at the sources he relied on to justify his decision.

https://www.desmogblog.com/2017/06/01/tobacco-fossil-fuels-tracing-roots-trump-s-claims-paris-climate-deal

But we’re not going to start there, but we will end there.

Instead, let’s go back to the early 1990s. The tobacco industry was facing multiple bans on advertising its products in countries around the world.

So the tobacco industry took ownership of a study that reviewed a bunch of other studies about the claimed impacts of tobacco advertising on actual tobacco consumption.

In short, the study, handed to Phillip Morris International, concluded there was no real link between tobacco advertising and smoking levels. Studies that had found a link were probably flawed, the report claimed.

The reports, the letters, and the memos back and forth, are all buried away in the Tobacco Industry Documents Archive at the University of California – San Francisco.

Clearly, the report would help the tobacco industry to argue there was no need to regulate the advertising of its products, because that advertising didn’t make a difference to smoking levels one way or the other.

National Economic Research Associates

The company that carried out that tobacco study was National Economic Research Associates.

Why is this relevant to Donald Trump and his decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement?

When Trump spoke of the “onerous energy restrictions” he claimed the Paris deal placed on the United States, he cited figures from a report by the very same National Economic Research Associates (NERA).

According to the NERA study, the Paris agreement would cut coal and gas production, and “cost” America 2.7 million jobs.

Fossil Fuel Interests

Two groups, namely the American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF) and the U.S Chamber of Commerce, sponsored the NERA report (incidentally, a New York Times investigation described the chamber as Big Tobacco’s Staunch Friend in Washington, due to its advocacy for the industry).

NERA has also produced reports supporting the LNG industry and the coal industry.

The ACCF has, over the years, accepted funds from a string of major corporations and industry groups, including ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute and foundations linked to the billionaire petrochemical brothers Charles and David Koch.

As a fact check by the Associated Press on the part of Trump’s speech citing the NERA study published points out:

“The study makes worst-case assumptions that may inflate the cost of meeting U.S. targets under the Paris accord while largely ignoring the economic benefits to U.S. businesses from building and operating renewable energy projects.

Academic studies have found that increased environmental regulation doesn’t actually have much impact on employment. Jobs lost at polluting companies tend to be offset by new jobs in green technology.”

A separate team of economists and scientists has also checked the claims made in the NERA report, which has previously been cited by failed Republican Presidential candidate (and climate science denier) Ted Cruz. They come to similarly unflattering conclusions to the AP fact check.

So in the end, we have President Trump relying on a questionable report paid for by groups with a clear vested interest in undermining the Paris agreement.

Cigarette, Anyone?

When reporters were being briefed in the hours before Trump walked out to the White House Rose Garden, it was Trump’s energy aide Mike Catanzaro making the calls.

As DeSmog’s Steve Horn has pointed out, Catanzaro is a former fossil fuel and energy lobbyist with a history of attacking climate science.

He also spent time working with Senator James Inhofe – the Republican who claims global warming is the greatest hoax ever. Catanzaro is just one of a parade of former industry lobbyists now in top positions in the Trump administration.

The Paris climate deal, struck in late 2015, was rightly declared a historic moment.

No doubt too, Trump’s declaration that he will join Nicaragua and Syria outside the deal will also be seen as historic.

It was a decision to delay action to regulate an industry, based on tired old propaganda techniques and the self-serving analysis of a polluting industry under attack.

Cigarette, anyone?

Donald Trump will scrap Barack Obama’s plan to halt global warming, reveals EPA chief Scott Pruitt

Activists have vowed to fight the president’s new order

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/donald-trump-barack-obama-global-warming-plan-undo-epa-scott-pruitt-paris-talks-environment-a7652386.html

Environmentalists have denounced a plan by Donald Trump – who has said climate change is a hoax – to sign an executive order that will take apart his predecessor’s efforts to try and slow the warming of the planet.

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt, said the order will undo Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, an environmental regulation that restricted greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired power plants. The 2015 regulation has been on hold since last year while a federal court hears an appeal filed by Republican-controlled states and more than 100 companies.

Over the weekend, Mr Pruitt said Mr Trump’s plan would help create jobs and lower the cost of electricity.

“We’ve penalised ourselves through lost jobs while China and India didn’t take steps to address the issue internationally,” he told ABC News.

But environmentalists have condemned the proposal, saying the move will not only undo more than an a decade of fighting climate change, but will also not provide the sort of jobs Mr Trump has said he will create.

“Trump’s trying to undo more than a decade of progress in fighting climate change and protecting public health,” said David Doniger, director

“But nobody voted to abandon America’s leadership in climate action and the clean-energy revolution. This radical retreat will meet a great wall of opposition.”

Bloomberg News said Mr Trump’s plan involved some measures that would be undertaken immediately and said that could take years to be completed.

The order will compel federal agencies to quickly identify any actions that could burden the production or use of domestic energy resources, including nuclear power, and then work to suspend, revise or rescind the policies unless they are legally mandated, it said.

Climate Science Denier Myron Ebell Explains How the Trump Team Will Gut the EPA, Abandon the Paris Agreement

https://www.desmogblog.com/2017/01/31/myron-ebell-epa-transition-how-trump-gut-epa-abandon-paris-agreement

As senators get set to vote Wednesday on the confirmation of President Donald Trump’s nominee to run the EPA, the man who was charged with leading the Environmental Protection Agency’s transition team gave some clues as to how it might be run.

Myron Ebell is one of the country’s most prominent climate science deniers, is the Director of Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), and until inauguration day was leading the EPA transition team at the behest of the then president-elect.

At a press event in London on Monday, attended and covered by DeSmog UK’s Mat Hope, Ebell admitted that he had never actually spoken to Trump, and that he was recruited to the transition team by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

What did Ebell’s transition team actually do?

“We did produce an action plan and an advisory document,” he said, but refused to discuss the contents of the “confidential” document. Coincidentally, in December, the CEI released a set of policy proposals called “Free to Prosper: A Pro-growth agenda for the 155th Congress,” which included a 26-page chapter on energy and the environment, though there is no way of knowing for sure if there is any overlap between the CEI proposal and Ebell’s action plan.

Although Ebell is no longer involved with the administration in any way, he made bold predictions and spoke confidently about how the Trump team would work to dismantle the EPA and pull out of the Paris Agreement, while finding plenty of time to bash the “climate industrial complex” and deny the consensus of climate scientists.

“The people of America have rejected the ‘expertariat’ about one thing after another including climate policy… climate scientists are in this for the glamour and the fame.”

“If we’re going to have some warming it should have started… it has been vastly exaggerated.”

Ebell indicated that Trump’s trust in Steve Bannon, the controversial former manager of Breitbart News who is now one of Trump’s closest advisors, was proof enough that Trump’s administration would take a torch to international climate action.

When pressed by reporters on the Paris Agreement, who brought up the fact that Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson said in his confirmation hearing that “it’s important that the U.S. maintains its seat at the table,” Ebell seemed confident that Tillerson wouldn’t get his way. “If Rex Tillerson disagrees with the president — who will win that? The president was elected and Rex Tillerson was appointed. I’d say the president was odds on to win.”

He also said that even if the U.S. wasn’t able to ditch the Paris Agreement immediately, the “cleanest” way to abandon the deal would be to “withdraw from the framework convention” entirely. Ebell was referring to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the body that holds the annual climate conferences and serves as the overarching body under which all international climate diplomacy is conducted.

Speaking specifically about the EPA, Ebell suggested that after Pruitt is confirmed, the agency will make a priority of stripping “harmful” air and water pollution regulations, and that the web of climate-related rules and actions would be systematically dismantled. Of the Climate Action Plan in particular, Ebell said, “There are numerous grounds that it should be undone and I hope that it will be undone.”

Ebell did not mention, however, that the EPA’s climate regulations stem from a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that held that greenhouse gases are air pollutants that should be covered by the Clean Air Act.

Ebell was speaking as a man no longer serving in the administration, as he resigned when Trump took office and presumably wasn’t asked to stay on board to lead the “beachhead” teams that are now lining the agency up for Pruitt’s likely arrival.

Some are speculating that Ebell’s move away is a sign that the Trump team is shifting away from the extreme climate deniers of the far right, and replacing them with personnel, like Tillerson, who at least publicly acknowledge the existence of manmade climate change. Regardless, it will be critical to track the early actions of the EPA after Pruitt presumably takes the helm, to see how they align with proposals that CEI put forth in December. For his part, Ebell is back at the fossil fuel industry–funded CEI full time.

The surprising link between air pollution and Alzheimer’s disease

http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-air-pollution-alzheimers-20170131-story.html

With environmental regulations expected to come under heavy fire from the Trump administration, new research offers powerful evidence of a link between air pollution and dementia risk.

For older women, breathing air that is heavily polluted by vehicle exhaust and other sources of fine particulates nearly doubles the likelihood of developing dementia, finds a study published Tuesday. And the cognitive effects of air pollution are dramatically more pronounced in women who carry a genetic variant, known as APOE-e4, which puts them at higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.

In a nationwide study that tracked the cognitive health of women between the ages of 65 and 79 for 10 years, those who had the APOE-e4 variant were nearly three times more likely to develop dementia if they were exposed to high levels of air pollution than APOE-e4 carriers who were not.

Among carriers of that gene, older women exposed to heavy air pollution were close to four times likelier than those who breathed mostly clean air to develop “global cognitive decline” — a measurable loss of memory and reasoning skills short of dementia.

While scientists have long tallied the health costs of air pollution in asthma, lung disease and cardiovascular disease, the impact of air pollutants on brain health has only begun to come to light. This study gleans new insights into how, and how powerfully, a key component of urban smog scrambles the aging brain.

Published Tuesday in the journal Translational Psychiatry, the research looks at a large population of American women, at lab mice, and at brain tissue in petri dishes to establish a link between serious cognitive decline and the very fine particles of pollution emitted by motor vehicles, power plants and the burning of biomass products such as wood.

All three of these biomedical research methods suggest that exposure to high levels of fine air pollutants increases both dementia’s classic behavioral signs of disorientation and memory loss as well as its less obvious hallmarks. These include amyloid beta protein clumps in the brain and the die-off of cells in the brain’s hippocampus, a key center for memory formation.

Using air pollution standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, researchers found significant differences on all those measures between those who breathed clean air and those exposed to pollution levels deemed unsafe.

In lab mice, breathing air collected over the 10 Freeway in Los Angeles led to brain concentrations of amyloid protein that were more dense and more likely to form dangerous clumps than breathing air that satisfied EPA standards before 2012. When lab mice were bred with a strong predisposition to develop dementia and its hallmarks, the brain differences between pollution-breathing animals and those that breathed clean air were starker.

In 2011, a study in the journal Lancet found that those who lived close to densely trafficked roads were at a far higher risk of stroke and dementia than those who lived farther away. A year later, a team led by Alzheimer’s disease researcher Dr. Samuel Gandy at Mt. Sinai in New York first established that air pollutants induced inflammation, cell death and the buildup of amyloid protein in the brains of mice.

The new study extends those findings.

Authored by geriatric and environmental health specialists at USC, the new study estimates that before the EPA set new air pollution standards in 2012, some 21% of new cases of dementia and of accelerated cognitive decline could likely have been attributed to air pollution.

There is potential legal significance to the researchers’ finding that women (and mice) who carried a genetic predisposition to developing Alzheimer’s disease were far more sensitive to air pollution’s effects. In devising pollution standards, the EPA is currently required to consider their health impact on “vulnerable populations.” The agency is also required to use its regulatory authority to take steps to protect those populations.

Air pollution has been declining steadily since the EPA promulgated new standards in 2012. But Dr. Jiu-Chiuan Chen, an environmental health specialist at USC’s Keck School of Medicine and the study’s senior author, said it’s not clear that even current standards are safe for aging brains, or for brains that are genetically vulnerable to Alzheimer’s.

The Trump administration has signaled it will look to scrap or substantially rewrite Obama administration regulations that tightened emissions from power plants and established tougher fuel efficiency standards for cars in an effort to curb climate change and reduce air pollution.

“If people in the current administration are trying to reduce the cost of treating diseases, including dementia, then they should know that relaxing the Clean Air Act regulations will do the opposite,” Chen said.

Canada pressed to make clean environment a constitutional right

https://www.yahoo.com/news/canada-pressed-clean-environment-constitutional-162936015.html

A pioneering conservationist called on Canada this week to make clean environments a constitutional right — an idea forged decades ago and widely adopted but with mixed success around the world.

Canadian academic, science broadcaster and environmentalist David Suzuki said these protections must be enshrined in Canada’s bill of rights to prevent their degradation at the hands of less environmentally oriented governments that periodically come to power.

In an interview with AFP, he pointed to former Tory prime minister Stephen Harper, who during a decade in office (2006-2015) “began to dismantle a lot of our environmental laws,” and to the US President-elect Donald Trump who has called global warming a hoax.

“We’ve now seen a monumental earthquake kind of change in the United States with the election of Donald Trump,” said Suzuki, who turns 80 in March.

“In one election we could see the overturning of decades of environmental legislation that worked.”

The idea of clean air, potable water and healthy food free from heavy metals, pesticides, and other pollutants as a human right emerged in the mid-1970s.

The collapse of fascist, colonial and communist regimes led to an unprecedented wave of constitution making; more than half of the world’s constitutions in fact were written during this period.

This, combined with awareness of environmental degradation and the inadequacy of state responses, lead to more than 80 nations enacting some form of constitutional protection for the environment.

Yet ecological sustainability remains elusive for most.

Regardless, Suzuki lamented having to fight over and over the same battles of the last 35 years to prevent oil drilling in sensitive areas, the construction of hydroelectric dams requiring extensive flooding, or supertanker traffic along Canada’s pristine Pacific coast.

“We thought we won 30, 35 years ago,” he said. “Now we’re having to fight the same battles over again.”

“We can’t keep doing this. We have to change the way we have a relationship to the world.”

Canada, he said, needs hard rules not subject to political oscillations. “We need to enshrine these rights in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” he told AFP.

– Hottest year on record –

Constitutional change does not come easy in Canada.

The constitution was patriated from colonial masters in Britain in 1982, but with the support of only nine of Canada’s 10 provinces.

Quebec, then under separatist leadership, refused to sign the document. Subsequent attempts to officially bring the French-speaking province under Canada’s wing provoked infighting that threatened to break up the nation.

Failing a constitutional amendment, Suzuki called for activists to redouble their efforts in the face of growing threats to past achievements.

“You’ve got to fight like mad,” he said. “You’ve got to be eco-warriors.”

To Americans musing about moving to Canada, he offered a stern message: “I’m not interested in rats deserting a sinking ship.”

“Now is the time for you to work your ass off to make sure that (the next four years) are going to be as good for the environment as possible, and work toward the next election,” he said.

On Wednesday, business and political leaders meeting in Marrakesh urged Trump not to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on fighting global warming.

It sets the goal of limiting average global warming to 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels by cutting greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels. On Monday the UN said average temperatures were already up 1.2 degrees Celsius.

Countries including the United States have pledged to curb emissions under the deal by moving to renewable energy sources.

But Trump has vowed to boost oil, gas and coal.

Suzuki praised Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for championing the Paris accord, but questioned Ottawa’s paradoxical support for the construction of new pipelines to move Canadian oil to tidewater in order to reach new overseas markets.

“Why are we even talking about pipelines,” he said.

“If we’re serious about the Paris agreement, we have to get off the fossil fuels very, very rapidly. And in order to recover the cost of building a pipeline, you have to use it for 30, 35 years.”

AGW Denialist and lobbyist Myron Ebell tapped to head the EPA

Myron Ebell was just tapped to head the EPA .

This is a short summary about him .

Choosing Myron Ebell means Trump plans to drastically reshape climate policies

Ebell is a well-known and polarizing figure in the energy and environment realm. His participation in the EPA transition signals that the Trump team is looking to drastically reshape the climate policies the agency has pursued under the Obama administration. Ebell’s role is likely to infuriate environmentalists and Democrats but buoy critics of Obama’s climate rules.

Ebell’s views appear to square with Trump’s when it comes to EPA’s agenda. Trump has called global warming “bullshit” and he has said he would “cancel” the Paris global warming accord and roll back President Obama’s executive actions on climate change (ClimateWire, May 27).

His lobbying clients in 2016 include Koch Companies Public Sector LLC, Southern Company Services, Dow Chemical Co. and Competitive Power Ventures Inc., according to public disclosures.

and

Tobbacco industry

The tobacco company Phillip Morris hired Ebell in the 1990s as Policy Director to mount a campaign to make regulating the tobacco industry “politically unpalatable”, and to advocate for acceptance of “safer cigarettes.”[12] As part of its “Control Abuse of Power” (CAP) project,[13] Ebell launched lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the 1998 tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), respectively.

Media appearances

In 2001, Ebell stated his belief that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the EU and the rest of the world to harm America’s economy. He justified the allegation with a quote from European Commissioner Margot Wallström in her response to Bush’s withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol.[14] Ebell also called the UK’s Chief Scientist David King “an alarmist with ridiculous views who knows nothing about climate change”; he added that since all scientists in Europe and in other countries outside the USA were funded by governments, none of them could be seen as independent

This really is the end of the world as we know it. 2 degrees increase is already baked in. This is going to make it worse for all of us.

Global community must unite against Trump to avoid climate catastrophe

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
9 November 2016
Contact:
Climate Justice Info Service
climatejustinfo@gmail.com

Global community must unite against Trump to avoid climate catastrophe

As news of Donald Trump’s victory in the US Presidential Election reached Marrakech, civil society groups gathered at the COP22 United Nations annual climate change talks reacted:

“Whilst the election of a climate denier into the White House sends the wrong signal globally. The grassroots movements for climate justice – native american communities, people of color, working people – those that are at this moment defending water rights in Dakota, ending fossil fuel pollution, divesting from the fossil fuel industry, standing with communities who are losing their homes and livelihoods from extreme weather devastation to creating a renewable energy transformation – are the real beating heart of the movement for change. We will redouble our efforts, grow stronger and remain committed to stand with those on the frontline of climate injustice at home and abroad.. In the absence of leadership from our government, the international community must come together redouble their effort to prevent climate disaster,” said Jesse Bragg, from Boston-based Corporate Accountability International.

“For communities in the global south, the U.S. citizens’ choice to elect Donald Trump seems like a death sentence. Already we are suffering the effects of climate change after years of inaction by rich countries like the U.S., and with an unhinged climate change denier now in the White House, the relatively small progress made is under threat. The international community must not allow itself to be dragged into a race to the bottom. Other developed countries like Europe, Canada, Australia, and Japan must increase their pledges for pollution cuts and increase their financial support for our communities,” said Wilfred D’Costa from the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development.

“The Paris Agreement was signed and ratified not by a President, but by the United States itself. One man alone, especially in the twenty-first century, should not strip the globe of the climate progress that it has made and should continue to make. As a matter of international law, and as a matter of human survival, the nations of the world can, must, and will hold the United States to its climate commitments. And it’s incumbent upon U.S. communities to unite and push forth progressive climate policies on a state and local level, where federal policy does not reign,” said
Jean Su from California-based Center for Biological Diversity.

“As a young woman and first-time voter I will not tolerate Trump’s denialism of the action needed for climate justice. Our country must undergo a systemic change and just transition away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy within my lifetime. The next four years are critical for getting on the right pathway, and the disastrous election of Trump serves as a solemn reminder of the path ahead of us. As young people and as climate justice movements we will be demanding real action on climate for the sake of our brothers and sisters around the world and for all future generations,” said Becky Chung from the youth network SustainUS.

“Africa is already burning. The election of Trump is a disaster for our continent. The United States, if it follows through on its new President’s rash words about withdrawing from the international climate regime, will become a pariah state in global efforts for climate action. This is a moment where the rest of the world must not waver and must redouble commitments to tackle dangerous climate change,” said Geoffrey Kamese from Friends of the Earth Africa.

Detroit Incinerator Is Hotspot for Health Problems, Environmentalists Claim

The country’s biggest trash-burning facility has been issued with a notice to sue, with local residents complaining of the bad smell and pollution it produces

http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/39851-detroit-incinerator-is-hotspot-for-health-problems-environmentalists-claim

At the intersection of two highways just outside downtown Detroit, a hulking relic of the city’s past looms over the skyline: the largest municipal trash incinerator in the US. It’s a facility that has raised concerns of nearby residents since its construction in the 1980s.

And some days, it stinks.

“The odors, if you ride I-94, you get this foul, rotten egg smell,” said Sandra Turner-Handy, who lives about three miles from the facility.

The 59-year-old said her son used to work a block away from the incinerator and said the smell was “constant”. Her granddaughter developed asthma while attending a school near the incinerator, but hasn’t used an inhaler since she graduated and moved away.

The persistent odor and emission of other polluting substances are among 40 alleged Clean Air Act and state violations that have been logged against the company that owns the facility, Detroit Renewable Energy, since March 2015, according to a notice to sue by the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center.

“It’s the things that you can’t smell that are the most harmful,” said Turner-Handy. “And how do residents report something that they can’t smell?”

In 2015, the incinerator burned more than 650,000 tons of garbage, according to the notice. And since the beginning of that year, the incinerator has been fined for persistently violating an earlier agreement with the state for alleged state violations.

The law center also said in the filing that the incinerator presents a clear example of an environmental justice problem, as a majority of the trash burnt at the facility is imported from outlying communities, which pay $10 a ton less than Detroit to dispose of garbage.

“In short, Detroit is subsidizing other communities throughout the State of Michigan, the Midwest, and Canada to dispose of its garbage at the Incinerator,” the filing said, with the incinerator “located in a neighborhood that is composed mostly of low-income people of color and is heavily overburdened by air pollution”.

There’s a long-running debate over whether incineration is better for the environment than landfills. But communities located near incinerators have long lamented that they bear the brunt of its adverse impacts on air quality.

Citing statistics from the EPA, the center said 7,280 residents live within one mile of the incinerator, of whom 60% live below the federal poverty line and 87% are people of color. An EPA report also found that the area is a “hotspot for respiratory related health impacts when compared to other Michigan communities”, according to the law center.

The notice to sue also names Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, along with the state and federal environment agencies. The agencies have 60 days to commence an enforcement action, the law center said, and if neither pursues any, a lawsuit may be filed on behalf of residents to enforce the Clean Air Act.

Detroit Renewable Energy, which says the facility provides energy to more than 140 buildings in the downtown and midtown neighborhoods, downplayed the litany of claims in the notice of intent.

In a statement, the company said that it has invested approximately $6m over the last few years to “improve odor management” at the facility. The company said it employs nearly 300 residents, operates a “sophisticated” waste-to-energy facility, and “places the highest priority on complying with the strict and complex requirements established by the EPA and the state environmental department.

“In short, we have done our part,” the company said. “Any claim to the contrary would simply be false.”

The law center says otherwise.

Beyond odor, the notice of intent to sue also highlights an additional 19 violations for emitting carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter above legal thresholds. The incinerator creates a “significant amount” of particulate matter, said Nick Schroeck, executive director of the center, which “can get lodged in people’s lungs”.

The incinerator can’t be directly linked to cases of asthma, but the filing said “particulate matter emissions have been shown to trigger asthma incidents, particularly amongst children”.

Activists are pushing for a ballot initiative for November 2017 to close down the facility in favor of cleaner-energy-producing methods.

“We initially approached this topic sort of by looking at what it was we could do that would be effective within the confines of city law, of state law, and how a ballot initiative could actually rectify a problem in the city,” said Mac Farr, treasurer and spokesman for Sustainable Detroit. “And we could take a policy change and use it to both unify the city and also make the lives of Detroiters better. This was the topic that we settled on.”

Farr said the group’s motivations for the ballot initiative stem from the “public health ramifications” of the incinerator.

“We have some of the highest rates of asthma [in Detroit], the highest that are clustered directly downwind of this incinerator,” he said. “It’s four to five times the statewide average, and there’s a public health dimension to this that needs to be addressed.”

Farr said the group hopes the ballot petition will force city officials to examine the issue, but it has no clear solution for how Detroit should dispose of waste without an incinerator. He suggested a more “robust, citywide recycling program” could “divert a lot of material out of the waste stream if we were to shut off incineration as a method of disposal”.

Officials estimated earlier this year that only 11% of households in the city are recycling.

Dr Abdul El-Sayed, executive director and health officer at the Detroit health department, said issues surrounding the incinerator hadn’t been on his department’s radar until recently, but it’s now “very squarely on my plate”.

“I think it’s obvious that when you burn anything, it’s going to produce material that goes up into the air. That material can do a number of hazardous things,” El-Sayed said. “I think it’s clear that those things are not good for the lungs, and the eyes and some of the other organs … the heart. It’s, generally, not the cleanest, most efficient way of addressing the problem with garbage.”

EPA ruling on aircraft emissions paves way for new regulations

US agency’s declaration that jet engine exhaust endangers public health represents key milestone, reports Climate Central

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/26/epa-ruling-on-aircraft-emissions-paves-way-for-new-regulations

The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday declared that jet engine exhaust endangers public health by contributing to climate change, a key milestone as it works to develop regulations that will cut carbon emissions from commercial aircraft.

Large commercial jets account for 11% of all emissions from the global transportation sector. Aircraft emissions are expected to grow by 50% by 2050 as demand for air travel increases.

Regulating aircraft emissions is part of the Obama administration’s goal under the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by up to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025. The international pact aims to to keep global warming from exceeding 2°C (3.6°F).

“Addressing pollution from aircraft is an important element of US efforts to address climate change,” Janet McCabe, the EPA’s acting assistant administrator for air and radiation, said in a statement. “EPA has already set effective GHG standards for cars and trucks and any future aircraft engine standards will also provide important climate and public health benefits.”

Both the EPA and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), are developing regulations that will cut carbon emissions from commercial aircraft. The ICAO is expected to finalise its emissions standards in 2017, but the EPA could not proceed with developing its own standards in the US until it concluded that jet engine exhaust poses a public health threat.

Jet engine exhaust emits carbon dioxide, which drives climate change by warming the atmosphere, leading to increasing global temperatures, rising seas and extreme weather. Public health will suffer as heatwaves become more frequent and intense, rising seas inundate coastal cities, extreme storms lead to more deaths and catastrophic wildfires burn more forests and reduce air quality.

“The endangerment finding is key because it obligates the EPA to take regulatory action to cut carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft – it triggers a legal mandate,” said Drew Kodjak, executive director of the International Council on Clean Transportation.

New emissions standards may become more important as climate change affects the atmosphere. Studies show that climate change will increase wind speeds in some areas of the globe, forcing airplanes flying through them to burn more fuel.
Total global carbon dioxide emissions could see a boost as flight times increase in the stronger winds.

The proposed ICAO standards, supported by the US and 22 other countries, call for a 4% reduction in fuel consumption in new commercial aircraft built after 2028 and from aircraft currently in production delivered after 2023.

Airplane makers are already building more fuel efficient aircraft, such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350, and they are expected to already meet the proposed ICAO emissions standards.

Kodjak said the ICAO’s proposed standards will not sufficiently cut airplane emissions to reduce their climate impact, and the EPA’s process for developing new standards for US airplanes could be an opportunity to make emissions cuts even stricter.

US-based aircraft are responsible for 29% of all greenhouse gas emissions from commercial aircraft worldwide, according to the EPA.