* Great News! – Court upholds EPA’s greenhouse gas rules


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Contact: Eitan Bencuya: 202-495-3047, eitan.bencuya@sierraclub.org

D.C. Court of Appeals Upholds Environmental Protection Agency Greenhouse Gas Standards

WASHINGTON D.C. — Today, in a sweeping victory for public health and clean air, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued decisions in four challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) historic climate and clean air protections. Major industrial polluters joined with states like Texas to challenge these safeguards, which will protect Americans’ health, improve vehicle efficiency, and reduce greenhouse gas pollution. The Sierra Club rallied tens of thousands of people across the country to support the standards, and the Sierra Club legal team joined our allies in a landmark legal defense of the protections, when they were challenged.

The four rules upheld today were:

  • The Climate Pollution Endangerment Finding, in which, after an extensive review of scientific research and peer-reviewed studies, the EPA found that six greenhouse gasses endanger human health and welfare.
  • The Clean Car Standards, in which the EPA established cost-saving fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards for passenger cars and light trucks sold from 2012-2016. These safeguards will save consumers an estimated $3,000 at the pump over the life of the vehicle, reduce reliance on foreign oil by 1.8 billion barrels over the life of the vehicle, and will reduce greenhouse gas pollution by 960 million tons. The standards are supported by U.S. automakers and the United Auto Workers union, among others, and the automakers and a dozen states intervened in defense of the standards.
  • The Timing and Tailoring Rules, in which the EPA phased in carbon pollution permits for the biggest industrial pollution sources, while protecting small businesses. The Court determined that none of the challengers were injured by these regulatory relief decisions.

In response, Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club issued the following statement:

“Today’s decision is a huge victory for American families and everyone concerned about protecting the air we breathe and the health of our children. The role of the Clean Air Act in protecting our families from dangerous carbon pollution and climate disruption should never have been in doubt, and this decision is a big step forward in putting the well-being of Americans before the boundless profits of big polluters.

“Carbon pollution is dangerous to our planet and our health. The Environmental Protection Agency has the right and the duty to keep our communities healthy and now the path is clear for them to curb this dangerous pollution, which threatens our families and planet. We applaud the court’s decision and stand with the EPA as they continue to fight for the health of American families.”


* NC Legislature and Costal Towns Attempting to “Repeal” Climate Change

OK, this is one that will:

(a) Make you shake your head in disblief

(b) Make you ashamed that you have leaders like this in NC

(c) Get you really pissed off and want to do something about it

(d) All of the above

Coastal N.C. counties fighting sea-level rise prediction

Science panel predicts 1-meter sea-level rise by 2100; counties say that could harm economic development

May 25, 2012 by Charlotte Observer reporter Bruce Henderson

State lawmakers are considering a measure that would limit how North Carolina prepares for sea-level rise, which many scientists consider one of the surest results of climate change. Federal authorities say the North Carolina coast is vulnerable because of its low, flat land and thin fringe of barrier islands. A state-appointed science panel has reported that a 1-meter rise is likely by 2100. The calculation, prepared for the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission, was intended to help the state plan for rising water that could threaten 2,000 square miles.

A coastal economic development group called NC-20 attacked the report, insisting the scientific research it cited is flawed. The science panel last month confirmed its findings, recommending that they be reassessed every five years. But NC-20, named for the 20 coastal counties, appears to be winning its campaign to undermine them.

When the General Assembly convened this month, Republican legislators went further. They circulated a bill that authorizes only the coastal commission to calculate how fast the sea is rising. It said the calculations must be based only on historic trends, leaving out the accelerated rise that climate scientists widely expect this century if warming increases and glaciers melt.

Longtime East Carolina University geologist Stan Riggs, a science panel member who studies the evolution of the coast, said the 1-meter estimate is squarely within the mainstream of research. “We’re throwing this science out completely, and what’s proposed is just crazy for a state that used to be a leader in marine science,” he said of the proposed legislation. “You can’t legislate the ocean, and you can’t legislate storms.”

NC-20 Chairman Tom Thompson, economic development director in Beaufort County, said his members – many of them county managers and other economic development officials – are convinced that climate changes and sea-level rises are part of natural cycles. Climate scientists who say otherwise, he believes, are wrong.

Read the entire article here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/05/25/3265614/coastal-nc-counties-fighting-sea.html

Check out the map and background information at  Interactive: Sea levels rising on Carolina coast


* Join the Virtual Rally for Clean Air

Send a message today!


Join the Virtual Rally for Clean Air and Stand Up for Children’s Health!

Join the Rally!

rally button

Hundreds of activists are speaking out in Chicago and Washington, D.C. to support the EPA’s new proposal to clean up our air and protect our health. They’re testifying at hearings about the EPA’s first ever standards that limit life-threatening carbon pollution from coal plants.

We know most Americans can’t make it to the hearings, so we’re holding a Virtual Rally for Clean Air on Facebook and Twitter to make sure everyone gets the chance to show their support for limits on carbon pollution from power plants.

Join the activists who are speaking out in Chicago and D.C. by participating in our Virtual Rally for Clean Air. Let the EPA know you support safeguards to keep our air clean and our kids healthy!

The EPA’s proposal to limit carbon pollution could not be more critical. Carbon pollution is linked not only to climate disruption but also to the smog that causes asthma attacks. Every year, power plants in the United States pump 2.3 billion tons of it and other toxics into the air.1

Doctors, scientists, and nurses say this pollution is dangerous for children since climate disruption’s rising temperatures are likely to make smog pollution worse — triggering asthma attacks and permanently damaging children’s lungs.

Volunteers are spending hours in line and some are even missing work to testify at the hearings to make sure the EPA gets the message. They’re fighting for you, me, and all Americans who want a strong carbon pollution standard to protect our children’s health.

Support their efforts by being part of the Virtual Rally for Clean Air. Together we’ll fill Facebook and Twitter with posts that show the EPA that people from Boston to Honolulu want carbon pollution protections!

Over one million people have already submitted comments to the EPA supporting the safeguards but Big Polluters and their climate denying allies aren’t giving up. Recently,the Heartland Institute commissioned billboards along Illinois highways that compare concerned Americans who believe in climate disruption to psychopaths like Charles Manson and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski.2 Our opposition is getting desperate and will do anything to challenge all efforts to address the climate crisis.

Fortunately, today we can fight back! Be part of the Virtual Rally for Clean Air and push back on Big Polluters’ unacceptable attacks.

Thanks for all you do to protect our environment!


Mary Anne Hitt Beyond Coal Campaign Sierra Club

P.S. Not on Facebook or Twitter? Send a message to the EPA through our handy action alert system.

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[1] “EPA Facility Level GHG Emissions Data.” Environmental Protection Agency. May 24, 2012.

[2] Nuwer, Rachel. “Heartland Pulls Billboard on Global Warming.” NYTimes.com. May 4, 2012.

* Charlotte Chamber Pushing for Polluted Air in NC

If it’s up to the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, the future of air quality in Charlotte will be hazy.

The Chamber has just issued a legislative update that makes their position clearer than our air – they are opposed to EPA regulations that would clean up and protect our air. The facts about our impaired air quality are clear. We need regulations that will protect citizen health and safety.

Isn’t it time to reach out to Chamber members that you know and ask them to speak out and work to change this policy? Maybe it’s time for them to consider if their Chamber membership fees should go to lobby against clean air? Maybe it’s time for them to join companies like Apple that recently resigned from the Chamber over their environmental policies (Apple Quits U.S. Chamber Over Environmental Policies).

We’ll be addressing some of these claims in the near future. Until then, call a Chamber member and let they know what their dues are supporting. Ask them to speak out and protect Charlotte air and the health and safety of our citizens.

Charlotte Chamber website:

The clout of the EPA remains hazy

For businesses in NC, the regulatory climate produced some victorious reforms this past year including the Regulatory Reform Act of 2011 which balanced job creation and environmental protection.  Yet, upcoming EPA regulation which could be detrimental to job growth and stability in NC still remains a pressing concern for the business community.  The Utility Maximum Achievement Control Technology rule (MACT) alone is estimated to have $10 billion in compliance costs and is being considered by the EPA.  Coupled with the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule,  47,000 NC jobs stand on the chopping block should both rules pass as legislation.  This uncertainty stemming from the EPA’s vast rulemaking will only hinder job creation and economic growth.

Legislative Update – December 16, 2011

As we approach the end of the year, the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County have undergone several changes in members as well as leadership. See our blog for updated roles in the School Board, County Commission, and City Council.

We are keeping the following topics on our radar as they have a high potential for impacting the NC business community: EPA regulation, unemployment insurance, and a Congressional Act requiring Executive branch scrutiny.  The North Carolina Department of Transportation is now accepting submissions for candidate transportation projects for the Mobility Fund.  There is approximately $45 million remaining in the Mobility Fund for qualifying projects in the State Fiscal Year 13 (July 1, 2012-June 30, 2013), and $58 million each year thereafter.  Minimum eligibility requirements and additional details are listed on our blog.

Visit blog.

* 300th Post – Global Climate Crisis

This is the 300th post on the Sierra Club Central Piedmont group website! To commemorate this milestone I can think of no topic of greater importance than the Global Climate Crisis. We need to address our collective impact on planet Earth at the local, state, national and global levels. We need to stop pissing off Mother Nature. We need to take individual action and we need to work together!

Here’s some information for those that want to make a difference (see below):

  1. September 14th – 24 Hours of Reality by The Climate Reality Project
  2. September 24th – Moving Planet by 350.org
  3. Today -Ten Things You Can Do to Help Curb Global Warming by the Sierra Club

Ten Things You Can Do to Help Curb Global Warming

Responsible Choices
The choices we make and the products we buy test our commitment to maintain a healthy planet. When we burn fossil fuels—such as oil, coal, and natural gas—to run our cars and light our homes, we pump carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air. This thickens the heat-trapping blanket that surrounds the planet, causing global warming.

Choosing modern technology can reduce our use of fossil fuels and help protect the planet. These ten steps will help curb global warming, save you money, and create a safer environment for the future.

oneDrive Smart!
A well-tuned car with properly inflated tires burns less gasoline—cutting pollution and saving you money at the pump. If you have two cars, drive the one with better gas mileage whenever possible. Better yet, skip the drive and take public transit, walk, or bicycle when you can.

oneBuy Local and Organic
Did you know the average American meal travels more than 1,500 miles from the farm to your plate? Think of all the energy wasted and pollution added to the atmosphere—not to mention all the pesticides and chemicals used to grow most produce! So go to your local organic farmer to get your fruits and veggies.

oneSupport clean, renewable energy.
Renewable energy solutions, such as wind and solar power, can reduce our reliance on coal-burning power plants, the largest source of global warming pollution in the United States. Call your local utility and sign up for renewable energy. If they don’t offer it, ask them why not?

oneReplace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs.
Especially those that burn the longest each day. Compact fluorescents produce the same amount of light as normal bulbs, but use about a quarter of the electricity and last ten times as long. Each switch you make helps clean the air today, curb global warming, and save you money on your electricity bill.

oneSaving energy at home is good for the environment and for your wallet.
Start with caulking and weather-stripping on doorways and windows. Then adjust your thermostat and start saving. For each degree you lower your thermostat in the winter, you can cut your energy bills by three percent. Finally, ask your utility company to do a free energy audit of your home to show you how to save even more money.

oneBecome a smart water consumer.
Install low-flow showerheads and faucets and you’ll use half the water without decreasing performance. Then turn your hot water heater down to 120°F and see hot-water costs go down by as much as 50 percent.

oneBuy energy-efficient electronics and appliances.
Replacing an old refrigerator or an air conditioner with an energy-efficient model will save you money on your electricity bill and cut global warming pollution. Look for the Energy Star label on new appliances or visit their website at www.energystar.gov to find the most energy-efficient products.

onePlant a Tree, protect a forest.
Protecting forests is a big step on the road to curbing global warming. Trees “breathe in” carbon dioxide, but slash-and-burn farming practices, intensive livestock production, and logging have destroyed 90 percent of the native forests in the United States. And you can take action in your own backyard—planting shade trees around your house will absorb CO2, and slash your summer air-conditioning bills.

oneReduce! Reuse! Recycle!
Producing new paper, glass, and metal products from recycled materials saves 70 to 90 percent of the energy and pollution, including CO2, that would result if the product came from virgin materials. Recycling a stack of newspapers only four feet high will save a good-sized tree. Please… buy recycled products!

oneMount a local campaign against global warming.
Educate your community about how it can cut global warming pollution. Support measures at the national, state, and local level that:

  • Make automobiles go further on a gallon of gas;
  • Accelerate the use of clean, renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind;
  • Increase energy efficiency and conservation; and
  • Preserve forests around the world.

Clean Energy Solutions: Ten Things You Can Do to Help Curb Global Warming


* Char-Meck Has a Long Road to Becoming a Green and Sustainable Leader

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has just produced a report, the US and Canada Green City Index, comparing 27 major cities in nine categories for sustainability – CO2 emissions, energy, land use, buildings, transport, water, waste, air quality and environmental governance. Charlotte was included in the analysis and report.

So how did we do? Number 20 out of 27 major US and Canadian cities in sustainability. That’s where we stand. And that’s why we need to work together to impact policy and to call upon our elected officials and City and County staff to bring about much needed change.

Sustain Charlotte has issued a press release, ” New Ranking Shows Charlotte Trailing the Pack in Sustainability “, about the results. Read it and weep…

SusChar Green Index Report Press Release 06_30_11

And thanks to Susan Stabley of the Charlotte Business Journal for her reporting on this! Here’s her report:

Study: Charlotte has ‘numerous environmental weaknesses to address’

Charlotte Business Journal – by Susan Stabley

June 30, 2011

When it comes to green cities, Charlotte is not yet one of them.

Charlotte ranked 20 out of 27 top United States and Canadian cities, according to a comprehensive sustainability study commissioned by Siemens Corp. that was released today. The Green City Index measured 31 indicators in nine categories — energy, water, air, land use, green buildings, transportation, waste disposal, carbon emissions and environmental governance.

There was some good news: Charlotte scored 9th place for water and land use and 11th for environmental governance. But the Queen City was weak when it came to the remaining categories.

The Siemens study noted Charlotte’s environmental efforts have ramped up because of funding from an $8.5 million stimulus grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy , “suggesting that its overall rank may improve in coming years.”

“Nevertheless, there are still numerous environmental weaknesses to address,” the report stated. “Public transit supply in Charlotte is one of the lowest in the index, for example, as is the proportion of municipal waste the city recycles.”

Charlotte is considered the third most prosperous area in the Green City Index, with a gross domestic product per capita of $57,700. The study noted that the city’s electricity consumption is high in relation to its GDP. As a result, Charlotte ranked 21st in the energy category.

“While the city earns points for progress on developing its own green energy projects, Charlotte’s score in this category is hindered by omissions in the area of clean and efficient policies,” the report states. “It is one of only five cities in the Index that do not promote the use of green energy for businesses and homes.”

Charlotte’s worst rankings (25th) were for buildings and transportation

The study noted that Charlotte had one of the lowest numbers for LEED-certified buildings, its index score was 0.6 per 100,000 people, compared with the average of 6.4.

“The city’s score is further weighed down by the relative weakness of its buildings policies: it is one of just four cities that do not require new buildings to meet energy efficiency standards,” the study says,

Charlotte was also dinged for having the third shortest public transport networks in the index — 0.09 miles per square mile of area, versus an index average of 1.1 miles — and for a lack of specific air quality targets and above-average particulate emissions (the “dirt” that comes out of vehicle tailpipes.)

Charlotte’s recycling efforts were the lowest performing among high-income cities in the study.The city recycles 12 percent compared to an index average of 26 percent, according to the report.

Charlotte received recognition in the study for protecting green space and redeveloping brownfields and for its water efficiency and treatment policies. And it got a shout-out for hiring its first energy and sustainability manager.

The greenest city overall? San Francisco, according to the study, which was followed by New York, Seattle, Denver and Boston.

Some background in the index: Siemens, a subsidiary of Siemens AG (NYSE:SI), hired the Economist Intelligence Unit to conduct the study. The Green City Index eyed the largest 20 statistical areas in the U.S. and top five Canadian metro areas according to its census.

The study added Miami and Phoenix to the mix because of their population and growth rates. Portland, Ore., did not meet the ranking criteria but is mentioned in the Siemens report. For more details, click here.


You can read the Charlotte section here


or the full report here

northamerican-gci-report Full

* Duke Energy Cliffside Unit 6 – A Major Source of Hazardous Air Pollutants

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in the form of an opinion that confirms Duke may not construct or operate Cliffside Unit 6 without first complying with the Clean Air Act’s highly protective standards for hazardous air pollutants.  Compliance may be through the minor source permit (a distinction that EPA’s proposed rule will nullify once it becomes final) or by undergoing a maximum achievable control technology (MACT) determination and obtaining MACT limits. These limits help to regulate emissions of the  188 hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) from particular industrial sources such as coal-fired power plants.

This decision affirms the Sierra Club and other plaintiff’s district court victory in the citizen enforcement action against Duke Energy for its construction of Cliffside Unit 6 without a hazardous air pollutant determination. The decision is particularly significant because it affirms Judge Thornburg’s determination that Duke was subject from the beginning to CAA section 112 for its construction of Unit 6, even though it obtained its permit and commenced construction under CAMR. As a result, if it is determined that Unit 6 is a major HAP source, it should be subject to the much stronger new source MACT standards rather than the existing source standards under EPA’s recent proposal.

The decision also specifically upholds the district court’s award of attorney’s fees and costs of over $470,000.

Plaintiffs in the case include the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (http://www.cleanenergy.org/), the Environmental Defense Fund (http://www.edf.org/), National Parks Conservation Association (http://www.npca.org/), Natural Resource Defense Council (http://www.nrdc.org/), and the Sierra Club (http://sierraclub.org/).

See http://pacer.ca4.uscourts.gov/opinion.pdf/082370.P.pdf for a copy of the ruling.

For additional information contact:

John Suttles

Southern Environmental Law Center

601 West Rosemary Street, Suite 220

Chapel Hill, NC 27516-2356

phone  (919) 967-1450

fax  (919) 929-9421

email:  jsuttles@selcnc.org

web:  www.SouthernEnvironment.org