Category Archive: Public Policy

The Cost of a Carbon-Free Economy

Many Americans understand that shifting our economy to a net-zero carbon standard would not be free. But many probably don’t understand just how much it could cost us as individuals. A new report from Bjorn Lonborg, an environmental advocate writing in the Wall Street Journal, reveals that environmentalists have been drastically underestimating just how much a carbon-neutral economy will cost Americans. Moreover, they’ve significantly overestimated how much Americans are willing to pay for these eco-friendly changes.  A recent survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Washington Post found that half of Americans wouldn’t even vote to implement an annual tax of...

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New Study Highlights Possibility of Net-Zero-Emission Plastics

Because plastics are made from oils, it’s easy to assume the production of plastic will always produce excess greenhouse gas emissions. But that might not be the case. A new study published in Science by researchers from Aachen University revealed there is a cycle in which plastic can be created and recycled with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. The process utilizes three already existing technologies that can be implemented in concert to reduce waste and emissions.  The foundation of the net-zero emission cycle is recycling. Using as little virgin plastic as possible will drastically lower emissions. Of course, this level of recycling will...

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Why Are Experts Predicting a Global Power Shortage This Winter?

Winter always puts added pressure on a region’s power supply as longer, chillier nights require more heat and light than other seasons. But this year, some experts are warning that the planet may be hurtling toward a global power shortage that could leave families in the cold.  The shortages have already started in some parts of the world.  In China, an unexpected power outage in the city of Jilin left many in the dark. Cars piled up as traffic lights dimmed and families were forced to climb dozens of flights of stairs without functioning elevators. One state-owned provider sent a message to...

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Is Natural Gas Clean Energy?

The latest Congressional budget debate sparked an interesting question: Should natural gas be considered clean energy?  The debate was triggered by the Clean Energy Payment Program (CEPP), which will provide incentives for energy suppliers to increase the proportion of their energy that comes from clean energy sources. The CEPP aims at having the U.S. achieve a nationwide average of 80 percent clean energy by 2030, but it is not binding and companies can choose not to participate in the goal. The idea is that CEPP is a fair way to incentivize growth for all energy providers without punishing those who are...

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The Hippie Conundrum: Weed Requires Fossil Fuels

Hippie environmentalists recently made a sobering realization: Growing weed is not carbon neutral. Not at all.  Recreational marijuana is some version of legal in several states, which has resulted in the mass production of cannabis. Unlike corn or tobacco, weed is not grown with sunshine and rain from Mother Earth. Instead, it is grown indoors under massive lamps that consume up to 2,000 watts of electricity per square meter--nearly 40 times the energy needed to grow lettuce indoors.  According to a report from Politico, the marijuana industry accounts for as much as 1 percent of all electricity consumed in the states where...

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Fishing for Facts About Ocean Plastic

The Netflix documentary Seaspiracy reveals a surprising fact: The war on single-use plastics isn’t actually helping the oceans. Seaspiracy reveals that the real culprit is abandoned fishing gear, also known as “ghost gear.” That may come as a surprise to environmentalists who have pushed for bans on single-use items in more than 25 states, all in the name of protecting the oceans. The filmmakers pointed to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a zone in the central North Pacific spanning 1.6 million square kilometers—nearly double the size of Texas and triple the size of France—where currents create garbage accumulation. Often portrayed as an...

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Pipeline Hack Leads to Long Gas Lines

Half of the East Coast’s gasoline and jet fuel supply is at a standstill after a malware attack forced the shutdown of Colonial Pipelines.  Colonial Pipelines, a private firm that supplies gasoline to most of the cities from the Gulf Coast to Boston, was targeted by the Russian hacking group DarkSide. According to the FBI, DarkSide intended to only freeze Colonial’s data as part of an extortion scheme, but it ended up cutting off the East Coast’s oil supply in the process. The hack was aimed at the office end of Colonial’s operation, not the control systems of the pipeline. Still,...

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Earth Day Environmental Myths

Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 as a way to reflect on the beauty of the planet while also planning on how to best protect it. In the more than four decades that followed, individuals, corporations, and governments have all taken steps to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions to better protect the planet.  Along the way, however, some myths have developed that must be dispelled. Here are six common environmental myths that belong in the trash:  Myth #1: All plastic can really be recycled. Many types of plastic cannot be recycled via the common “blue bin” curbside recycling programs. Most curbside...

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California Potholes May Soon Be Repaired With Recycled Plastic

While environmentalists often see plastic as a problem, some lawmakers in California are starting to see the versatile material as a solution.  The California State Senate Committee on Transportation unanimously voted to fund a study analyzing how recycled plastic can be used to make new roads. The roads would be paved with asphalt made from recycled plastic. Recycled plastic asphalt has already been used to repair roads in Vancouver, Canada, and Rotterdam in the Netherlands. There was also a small trial of recycled plastic asphalt in the United States at the University of California in San Diego. That small stretch of road,...

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California Lawmakers Take Fracking Ban to Next Level

Last year, California Gov. Gavin Newsom called for some restrictions on hydraulic fracking. This year, the state legislature responded with a plan that significantly expands the restrictions Newsom requested.  Newsom had requested a ban on hydraulic fracking and asked lawmakers to consider implementing a buffer zone restricting fracking from taking place near schools. In response, lawmakers drafted a bill that will completely outlaw fracking and several other forms of oil extraction by 2027. It also forbids operations from working within 2,500 feet of homes, schools, or medical facilities by the beginning of next year.  Democratic lawmakers have been pressuring Newsom to support...

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