Sustainability Reads: February 8- February 14

Some surprising news this week on the climate change action front as the U.S. Supreme Court places a hold on President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan would require states and utilities to use less coal and more wind, solar and natural gas-fired power to reduce carbon emissions cuts 32 % by 2030 from 2005 levels.The stay will take effect until the Washington DC circuit court of appeals hears challenges from 29, mainly Republican-led states that filed appeals against the regulation. This means that the Supreme Court won’t hear the case until at least January, after President Obama leaves office. Officials familiar with the Clean Power Plan rules say it is designed to deal with such delays, as states do not have to submit their final plans until 2018, and the rules do not come into force until 2022. However, with this article, Bloomberg shines some positive media in light of the Supreme Court’s blow:

Obama’s Clean Power Plan May Be on Hold, Coal’s Fate Is Not
The U.S. use of coal at power plants is at a record low and even though the Clean Power Plan may be on hold, various energy and utility companies are still continuing to diversify their energy mix by including more renewable energy. Low natural gas prices are also helping the transition away from coal, making coal less financially attractive. Some states have already signaled that they will still come up with a plan to reduce their emissions and cut coal from utilities, regardless of the Supreme Court stay. By Mark Chediak at Bloomberg Business.

Unsafe Lead Levels in Tap Water Not Limited to Flint
This article unravels the story of polluted drinking water in the U.S. For starters, the polluted, harmful water in Flint, Michigan is not as rare as you think. One of the main problems is old lead pipes, which although were banned thirty years ago, still exist and can threaten health. There are also loop holes in the policies that are supposed to ensure that drinking water is free of lead and other contaminants. There are also more contaminates and types of waterways (tributaries and wetlands) that aren’t even regulated.”The EPA says streams tapped by water utilities serving a third of the population are not yet covered by clean-water laws that limit levels of toxic pollutants.” At the same time, the EPA drinking water budget has decreased and similar cutbacks have taken place at the state/local level. Legislation to enable the EPA to regulate tributaries and wetlands has been shot down multiple times over the years, but a slow-moving momentum makes renewed efforts to address likely for 2017. By Michael Wines and John Schwartz on New York Times.

7 Smarter Ways to Talk About Climate Change
There are at least things we can always do in our everyday life to move forward addressing environmental issues, including talking about climate change to over people. In a non-overwhelming way. We enjoyed this article based on an interview with Norwegian psychologist and economist Per Espen Stoknes that aligns with how we think about climate change and can help others communicate about the topic as well. Here are the 7 key takeaways, but the article is short and worth a read:

  1. Don’t use the word “denier”
  2. Pick a good frame for the story — like human health
  3. Appeal to self-interest
  4. Acknowledge our positive past relationship with fossil fuels — and then break up
  5. Paint an appealing picture of the future
  6. Emphasize hope instead of optimism
  7. Remember that no one knows what the future holds — and that’s a good thing

Based on interview with Stoknes, article by Amelia Urry

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