The following radio reports are done in partnership with Public News Service. Please click on the headline to read the entire article or on the highlighted “HERE” to listen to the report.

On heels of midterms, a populist surge in West Virginia

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November 29, 2022   

Local candidates that signed onto a no-corporate-money pledge made midterm election gains in Charleston.

Katie Lauer, co-chair of West Virginia Can’t Wait, said the organization now has two dozen bipartisan elected officials – including Republicans, Democrats and independents in public office across the state. She said the wins signal Mountain State voters are paying less attention to politics and more on the issues affecting their lives.

“Our goal for this cycle was to double that number to get 22 elected officials into office, and we not only met that goal, but surpassed it. So we now have 24 elected officials across the state,” Lauer said. Some are on city council, some are on school boards, some are on county commissions.”

Advocates: State Must Do More on School Bus Electrification

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November 7, 2022   

With the Inflation Reduction Act supporting the beginning of a transition to clean school buses, elected officials in Florida are calling for quicker action.

The Miami-Dade County Public School System has ordered 10 electric school buses, with delivery expected next summer.

While it’s well known that electric school buses will reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, a less talked about issue is kids’ and bus drivers’ long-term exposure to diesel exhaust.

The National Institutes of Health says exposure to diesel exhaust particulates is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.

Research indicates the amount of fine particulates inside a school bus can be 5 to 10 times higher than the surrounding atmosphere, and it’s worse when buses sit still at idle.

Former Mayor of Pinecrest and former Florida state Rep. Cindy Lerner – who is currently on the national leadership council of Elected Officials to Protect America – said the transition to electric buses has advocates excited.

“We are really very excited about it,” said Lerner, “not only because of the reduction in the greenhouse-gas emissions, but the significant health hazards to lung development – and even to brain development – in children by sitting on the school bus twice a day 5 days a week.”

Advocates press for changes to CA Lead Pipe Replacement Program

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October 28, 2022   

October has been Children’s Environmental Health Month and this week is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, so groups in California that advocate for children’s health are asking for changes to the state’s 10-year plan to replace lead pipes.

California could get up to $1.25 billion from the infrastructure bill to replace old lead water lines.

Kelly Hardy, senior managing director of health and research for the group Children Now, said a coalition of health and environmental groups has written a letter asking the California State Water Resources Control Board to “get the lead out.”

“We’re pushing that they use all the available funds to replace all of the pipes and to add filters, so that there’s not an increase in lead in the water when the pipes are being replaced,” she said, “and also, provide for systematic sampling of the water.”

New federal funding helps CT get electric school buses

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October 28, 2022   

Connecticut school districts and bus companies will be receiving more than $8 million in federal funding for electric school buses.

The grant is being awarded through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus Program, as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law. While many are embracing the push to electric buses, there are concerns about whether they will perform as well as diesel-powered buses.

Tyron Harris, chairman of the board of education for East Hartford Public Schools, described what is needed to ensure parents understand the truth about the new buses.

“Explaining to them, ‘You’re going to hear that electric buses are expensive, they take too long to charge, driving range of buses is less, that battery electric buses are not good,’ ” Harris outlined. “But helping them to understand that a lot of this is urban myth and the technology has expanded, and there’s more opportunities and more efficiency now.”

Clean Water Act subject of SCOTUS Case

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October 28 2022   

As the Clean Water Act turns 50 this month, parts of it are the subject of a U-S Supreme Court case. Sackett versus E-P-A might let factories, hog farms and wastewater plants pollute waterways in states that lack strong water-quality protections.

A decision in favor of the plaintiffs in the case has the potential to remove the Clean Water Act’s protections for about half the nation’s streams and wetlands. Jim Murphy Jim Murphy, director of legal advocacy at the National Wildlife Federation, said the case could have sweeping repercussions across the U-S.

“Could potentially, depending on how the court rules, remove important federal protections from pollution and destruction for up to half of the nation’s wetlands and maybe 60% to 70% of the nation’s streams,” Murphy said,” including many streams that could provide the source waters for people’s drinking supplies. “

NY receives 470 million in federal funding for electric school buses

October 27, 2022   

School districts across New York will be receiving almost $70 million in federal funding for electric school buses, via a grant awarded through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Bus rebate competition. It is part of a $1 billion investment from the bipartisan infrastructure law.

New York state has made commitments to having all electric school buses by 2035. One challenge with climate-change initiatives is the initial investment in the new technology.

William Reinhardt, Albany County legislator and former project manager at the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, said this isn’t new territory, especially as solar paved the way.

“We’re already seeing this with batteries, and we’ve already seen it over the last ten years with solar,” Reinhardt pointed out. “The cost per watt of an installed solar has gone way down, way down. And it’s much more economical than most people realize now, ’cause their mind is still back ten years ago when it was really expensive.”

NorthWestern Energy among utilities appearing not to live up to climate promises

NorthWestern Energy among utilities appearing not to live up to climate promises

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October 24, 2022   

Utilities across the country are making climate pledges – but they’re not necessarily backing them up, according to a new report.

The Sierra Club graded utilities based on their commitments to clean up their power grids. While NorthWestern Energy in Montana wasn’t included in the report, it finds itself in a similar position to other utilities.

This year, the company unveiled its plan to be ‘net zero’ by 2050. Caitlin Piserchia, interim director of the Montana chapter of the Sierra Club, said her organization is skeptical.

“Their net-zero plan envisions them using their gas plants well beyond that, but purchasing carbon offsets to negate the associated emissions,” said Piserchia. “So, it’s not what it appears to be, and we are definitely concerned that it is not nearly ambitious enough.”

CA Local elected officials call for windfall Tax on companies that overcharge for gas

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October 18, 2022   

Gas prices have soared in recent months, and local officials are speaking out in support of a windfall tax on companies engaging in price gouging.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has called a special legislative session on the topic for Dec. 5.

Eduardo Martinez, vice mayor of the city of Richmond, home to a Chevron refinery, said he supports a windfall tax and a drilling tax similar to one charged by the state of Alaska.

“It’s apparent that this situation is the consequence of the five big oil refiners in California who make 97% of the gasoline – controlling the supply to artificially drive up prices,” Martinez said. “A windfall profits tax solution that takes excessive profits out of the hands of oil corporations and puts money back into the hands of consumers surely deserves a special session.”

Study: Most Folks Underestimate Support for Climate Mitigation Policies

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October 13, 2022

The political divide over climate change seems well entrenched, but a recent study suggests the conventional wisdom is wrong.

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, showed support for policies to curb climate change is much higher than most people believe. An average Michigan resident, for example, might guess support for climate action is around 43%, but researchers say the actual support level is between 66% and 80%.

Barry Lyons, an anthropologist at Wayne State University, said he is not surprised by the disconnect.

“It’s not surprising to me because I have long believed — that especially,” Lyons said. “Let’s say, in conservative communities, there is a lot of sort of hidden, or socially suppressed or closeted, climate concern.”

MA offshore wind generates clean energy for communities that historically harvested dirty energy

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October 10, 2022   

With many states working on becoming more carbon-neutral, Massachusetts is looking to offshore wind for its sustainable future.

According to a 2021 report, Massachusetts has the largest capability for offshore wind energy generation capacity.

While the state, and the U.S., move toward more energy independence, there has been some worry about how offshore wind might affect the fishing industry. Massachusetts is home to New Bedford, the busiest commercial fishing hub in the country, and residents are worried about how changes might paralyze the town’s economy.

Cobi Frongillo, a town council member in Franklin and a member of Elected Officials to Protect America, a group working to address climate change, said there were plenty of questions to be answered first.

“What are the seasons of building that are going to impact you the least? How large do our fishing lanes need to be, and that’s been a huge beast; having large fishing lanes. Where are your biggest fishing areas, and can we avoid those as much as possible?” Frongillo outlined. “Those are really, really critical conversations and the earlier you have them, the better.”

Study: Methane Worse for Climate, Health Than Earlier Estimated

Study: Methane Worse for Climate, Health Than Earlier Estimated

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October 10, 2022

Environmental advocates anticipating new rules from the Environmental Protection Agency to cut methane pollution caused by the oil and gas industry hope it means an end to routine flaring.

While the industry has maintained flaring is 98% effective at reducing methane, a new study showed the rate is actually closer to 91%.

Kayley Shoup, community organizer for Citizens Caring for the Future, said the findings came as no surprise. She lives on the New Mexico side of the Permian Basin and stressed the new data confirms what she has seen on the front lines.

“Because if you drive around the Permian and you see the flares that are burning, they’re kind of dirty with the smoke coming off of them,” Shoup observed. “And then you see that the common rate of efficiency that they think flares destroy methane is 98%, you go, ‘I don’t think that’s correct.’ “

Exposure to high levels of methane can result in numerous health issues. The report, from the Environmental Defense Fund and University of Michigan researchers, estimated the oil and gas industry releases 16 million metric tons of methane into the atmosphere each year.

Report: oil-field flaring emits more methane than previously known

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October 7, 2022   

Ahead of revised methane regulations expected from the federal government, a new study shows that gas flaring in oil-producing states such as Texas could be more harmful than previously thought.

The industry has maintained that flaring at oil and gas fields is 98% effective at reducing methane. The study, however, showed that the rate is closer to 91%.

“And you don’t even have to be an expert with a flare camera to see unlit flares and smoking flares at any given moment,” said Sheila Serna, climate science and policy director at the Rio Grande International Study Center, who previously worked as an air investigator in Texas.

High levels of methane can reduce the amount of oxygen people get from the air, resulting in multiple health problems. The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release its supplemental proposal for regulating methane pollution sometime this month.

Elected Officials seek more offshore wind farms to combat climate crisis and grow economy

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October 6, 2022   

Offshore wind is becoming an increasingly popular way for coastal communities to hit their carbon-neutral goals.

According to a report from the U.S. Department of Energy, state policies could procure more than 39,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2040.

Because of the demand, more than 340 elected officials are asking the federal government to increase national offshore wind goals and accelerate the permitting process. Some cities also are looking to the lucrative wind-turbine manufacturing business as a way to recoup some lost industry.

Mary Lupin, vice president of the Rochester City Council, feels it could be a match for Western New York.

“Industry has left. We used to be a huge manufacturing city, and we still have many of the bones of factories and industrial areas that could be built back up to support this industry,” Lupin contended. “I think we still have a lot of work to do in terms of doing the studies to understand exactly what it takes.”

She added it would greatly benefit to Rochester because, in addition to new jobs, it makes wind turbine parts more easily accessible to the city.

CT begins transition to electric vehicles

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October 3, 2022   

The United States is seeing a national push from the federal government and car companies to pivot toward electric vehicles, and Connecticut is riding the trend.

The Inflation Reduction Act includes incentives for buyers of electric vehicles, and elected officials are taking this call to action in stride. Connecticut passed its own Clean Air Act, which requires all state vehicles to be electric by 2030. It also offers incentives for anyone to buy zero-emission vehicles.

Sen. William Haskell, D-Westport, who worked on the bill, feels it was born of the necessity to rid Connecticut of harmful carbon emissions.

“My state saw 21 days of unhealthy levels of ozone in 2021,” Haskell reported. “That was the highest in New England, and five of our eight counties got ‘F’ grades from the American Lung Association. The American Lung Association weighs in because worse air pollution can create aggravated, serious lung conditions, including asthma and emphysema.”

Local elected officials call on Feds to adopt CA clean-car standards

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September 29, 2022   

Local officials concerned about climate change are calling on the Biden Environmental Protection Agency to adopt strict national clean car standards – like the ones the Golden State has already embraced.

The California Air Resources Board recently adopted new rules that will phase out the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035.

Alex Walker-Griffin, the vice mayor of the town of Hercules in the Bay Area, said California’s new rules are intended to cut vehicle pollution 60% by 2030. By 2026,” said Walker-Griffin, “car dealerships have to have a plan for the phasing of electric, hydrogen, and hybrid vehicles into their fleets that they sell.”

More than 600 local officials from across the country, part of a group called Elected Officials to Protect America, have signed a letter asking the EPA to start the rulemaking process for stringent clean-car standards.

WA Lummi Nation totem pole travels U.S. for ‘just’ clean energy transition

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September 26, 2022   

A totem pole from the Lummi Nation in northwest Washington is traveling across the country as part of a bid to call for clean energy and environmental justice.

The pole left the Lummi Reservation in mid-September and has made stops along the way, including in Seattle, George Floyd Plaza in Minneapolis, and in Pittsburgh – which hosted a ministerial meeting on clean energy last week.

Douglas James is a member of the Lummi Nation’s House of Tears Carvers – which crafted the 14-foot totem pole – and he is traveling with it across the country.

“We’re just standing up for those that don’t have a voice,” said James, “like the birds, the frogs, the salmon, the orcas.”

The totem pole is scheduled to reach Washington, D.C. this week.

Colorado groups petition leaders to halt Suncor Line 1 Oil Pipeline

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September 26, 2022   

More than 40 environmental groups are urging federal regulators and Colorado’s Congressional delegation to put a pause on a pipeline project under way in Weld County, called Line 1, which would nearly triple the current capacity to deliver crude oil to the Suncor refinery in Commerce City.

Patricia Garcia-Nelson, Colorado fossil fuel just transition advocate for the group Green Latinos, said if officials allow the extension of Line 1 to continue, they essentially will be rewarding bad behavior.

“Suncor has a history of being a problematic operator,” Garcia-Nelson asserted. “They have violated pollution limits. They had been operating under an expired permit since 2011.”

Clean-energy investments from IRA and Infrastructure law to boost PA economy

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September 26, 2022   

Renewable energy has the possibility to boost the economy and benefit workers and the environment in the Keystone State. That was the message at the Global Clean Energy Action Forum that just wrapped up in Pittsburgh.

Clean energy will be essential to improving air quality and health, reducing the state’s carbon footprint and fighting climate change, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Pittsburgh City Council member Erika Strassburger said the transition to cleaner energy sources also means more energy workforce opportunities.

“We know that there are already jobs to be had, and jobs that have been created in truly clean energy production,” said Strassburger, “whether it’s wind power, solar power, geothermal, hydroelectric – and even increasing the energy efficiency of vehicles and of buildings, and retrofitting homes and buildings.”

Meanwhile, House Bill 1161 made it through the Pennsylvania House in June and was just heard last week by a Senate Committee.

New maps expose methane ‘super-emitter’ sites

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September 20, 2022 

new study mapping methane pollution across five oil and gas production basins in states including Colorado and New Mexico found a small number of sites account for a disproportionately high level of overall pollution.

Jon Goldstein, senior director of regulatory and legislative affairs for the Environmental Defense Fund, one group behind the study, said nearly 40% of emissions are coming from what are sometimes referred to as “super emitter” sites.

“So these are big leaks, these are big problems,” Goldstein asserted. “What that means, though is that if we can find them and fix them, we can get a handle on this problem pretty quickly.”

Elected officials condemn Sen. Manchin proposal to fast-track energy permits

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September 12, 2022   

Local officials concerned about climate change are urging Democrats to scuttle a deal reached with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to pass a bill to fast-track permitting for energy projects.

Some 445 officials from across the country are asking the Democratic National Committee to support a resolution condemning the proposed bill before the committee’s summer meeting ends tomorrow.

Devin Murphy, mayor pro-tem of the City of Pinole, north of San Francisco, said Democratic leaders promised to support the proposal in exchange for Manchin’s vote on the Inflation Reduction Act.

Murphy thinks the plan runs counter to what is happening in the Golden State.

“The deal that Sen. Manchin made would undo many of the new gains that this legislature just enacted,” Murphy asserted. “It really turns back the clock, and we can’t afford that here in California.”

Indian Youth Services Corps offers jobs in conservation, preservation

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September 12, 2022   

Indigenous youths have been enlisted in the Southwest, including New Mexico, to help conserve natural and cultural resources on tribal lands as part of the Indian Youth Service Corps.

Authorized in 2019, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland launched the program over the summer with a goal of offering employment and training opportunities to Native American and Alaska Native youths.

According to Will Shafroth, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation, it’s designed for young people seeking a path to good-paying jobs while working in a program that also tackles the climate crisis.

“To do projects in and around national parks that mostly have relevancy around the experience of tribes,” said Shafroth. “And so it could be stewardship of the land by the tribes in the area that could specially connect tribal youths to their homelands in a lot of ways.”

Inflation Reduction Act provides hope for Michigan’s climate-change policies

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August 23, 2022   

With the Inflation Reduction Act now law, many states are beginning to bring their climate goals to fruition.

In the last decade, Michigan has seen rapid increases in flooding and other drastic weather events. According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, Michigan’s declining ice cover could result in greater shoreline erosion, making the state vulnerable to greater flooding.

Gary Schlack, a city council member in Allen Park, feels a climate emergency needs to be declared on top of the money from the new law. He recognizes political fights over climate change are detracting from accomplishing certain climate-oriented goals.

“We only have so much time,” Schlack stressed. “As stewards of our planet, we have to reach now, and not continue letting the other side drive our language. And, if we continue to do so, we’ll just move a step back, and fossil fuels will take advantage of that. When you have the momentum, use it.”

Inflation Reduction Act is law yet climate future still murky

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August 17, 2022   

Although President Joe Biden has signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law, many are hoping he will declare a climate emergency to provide further funding. It would allow for additional provisions to fight the effects of climate change and reduce fossil-fuel usage in the U.S.

New York State has been seeing the effects of climate change firsthand since 45 counties, or three quarters of the state, are currently under a drought watch. Although this is the mildest of the four drought advisories, there are concerns climate change might only exacerbate future drought conditions in the state.

Dominic Frongillo, executive director of Elected Officials to Protect America, believes declaring a climate emergency is a major necessity.

“What declaring a climate emergency will allow President Biden to do is to halt crude exports for crude oil, stop offshore oil and gas drilling, restrict international investment in fossil fuels, and to be able to accelerate the manufacturing and the homegrown jobs here in the United States in an investment to ramp up renewable-energy production,” Frongillo outlined.

EOPA and Tribes praise IRA, call for Climate Emergency Declaration

Alex Cornell du Houx on left, Phillip Williams and Dereck Wood all veterans who are elected officials spoke at the press conference in Washington D.C. on the Inflation Reduction Act and the need for a Climate Emergency Declaration on Aug. !5, 2022

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August 16, 2022   

As President Joe Biden gets ready to sign the Inflation Reduction Act into law, California conservation groups are hailing it as the country’s largest-ever investment in the battle against climate change.

The bill puts $369 billion into projects to reduce carbon emissions, boost clean energy, mitigate damage from climate change, and more.

Phillip Williams, Councilmember for the Yurok Tribe in Northern California, said the money could supercharge his tribe’s effort to restore their land after 150 years of environmental degradation.

“It’s a great start to help fix the environmental damage that has been done on the Yurok territory,” Williams outlined. “From gold mining, clear-cut logging of our redwood trees, and then damming of our rivers.”

Offshore wind backers: Long-term benefits outweigh initial costs

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July 29, 2022   

As part of New York state’s climate goals, Gov. Kathy Hochul has announced the third competitive solicitation of offshore wind projects, with the hope of powering 1.5 million homes. This comes after Hochul committed $500 million to offshore wind development earlier this year.

The state’s goal is to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035. However, it isn’t without cost to local communities, said John Polimeni, an associate professor of economics at Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

“With any new initiative, it is expensive to develop the ports,” he said. “If your port is not currently prepared for wind energy, you need to do some changes to the port to make it accessible and proper for wind energy.”

Inaction on climate change called an “unprecedented failure”

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By Mary Schuermann Kuhlman

July 28, 2022   

Calling it a “clear and present danger,” President Joe Biden announced new measures last week to make communities more resilient against climate change.

Environmental groups want the administration to declare a National Climate Emergency.

Tracy Sabetta, Ohio state field coordinator for Moms Clean Air Force, said the emergency declaration would allow Biden to use executive powers to combat climate change. “It’s an unprecedented failure to not invest in a safe and healthy Future for our kids,” Sabetta asserted. “The Biden administration must use every tool at their disposal to reduce climate pollution that is directly threatening our children’s health.”

Actions could include halting crude oil exports to reduce emissions and directing federal investments toward renewable energy projects.

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