By Jennifer Ailor, Climate Change Committee Chair

We all suffer from climate change burnout. Thankfully, you can read some positive news in the summer 2023 issue of the Environmental Defense Fund’s Solutions newsletter. Specifically, the Environmental Protection Agency has finalized its Good Neighbor Plan for clean air protection; it has proposed new rules for tackling transportation pollution; and the farm bill working its way through Congress includes significant climate provisions. Here’s a recap:

EPA’s Good Neighbor Plan – This plan regulates nitrogen oxide pollution from power plants and other industrial sources. Under the Clean Air Act, permits are supposed to be denied in states where significant amounts of NOx drift across state lines. Twenty-three states have failed to submit acceptable plans to EPA. Now EPA is enforcing pollution cuts. 

The plan is expected to reduce ozone season NOx from power plants by 50% from 2021 levels within four years.

Clean vehicles – Twenty-eight percent of all U.S. climate pollution comes from transportation. In the next 10 years, two-thirds of all new cars could be electric, thanks to EPA’s proposed tailpipe pollution standards. The proposals also could drive electrification of almost half of new commercial vehicles and up to a third of new 18-wheelers. Finally, EPA has approved California’s new truck standards requiring manufacturers to sell more zero-emission freight trucks and buses through 2035.  Trucks and buses are responsible for more than half of transportation’s pollution. Seven states have already moved to adopt the California rule.

Farm bill – The massive $1.4 trillion farm bill being negotiated this summer includes more money for conservation programs such as installing anerobic digesters to capture methane from manure; planting cover crops to protect soil and the carbon it stores; reducing fertilizer use; and preserving unplowed areas on farms. In addition, EDF and other like-minded organizations successfully advocated for passage of the Growing Climate Solutions Act, which will help farmers navigate agricultural carbon markets. 

Of course, the farm bill is far from being approved. Consider contacting your representatives and senators to support funding in the bill for agricultural conservation.

Other climate legislation – Some $88 billion from the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act are helping manufacturers produce electric vehicles, preserve existing jobs and create new ones. In fact, since the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed, 94,000+ EV jobs have been created. The law also provided $7.5 billion for 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations and $5 billion for clean school buses.