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Energy for & Environment
10 Ideas for Energy and The Environment
National Director Taylor Jo Isenberg Field Director Winston Lofton Policy Director Reese Neader Program Director Alan Smith Chapter Services Coordinator Dante Barry Student Editors David Weinberger, Regina Smedinghoff Alumni Editors Nick Santos, Cory Connolly Olivia Cohn, Sarah Pfeifer
The Roosevelt Institute Campus Network A division of the Roosevelt Institute 570 Lexington Avenue, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10022
Copyright (c) 2012 by the Roosevelt Institute. All rights reserved. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors. They do not express the views or opinions of the Roosevelt Institute, its officers or its directors.
Energy and The Environment
Congratulations to David Weinberger, author of City2City: Direct Urban Diplomacy to Combat Climate Change Nominee for Policy of the Year
Inside the Issue
Using the Sun to Make Brownfields Green Isaac Alpert and Alicia White Powering Energy Efficiency in Sonoma County Mark Anderson How to Bring Offshore Wind Power to Utility-Scale Stewart Boss Bringing E-Waste Management to College Campuses Tehmina Brohi et al Cash for Clunkers: Smart Appliance Edition Erin Hiatt Keep Our Children Safe By Banning Bisphenol-A Janisa Mahaparn Smart Growth in Action: Transfer of Development Rights in Ithaca James Underberg City2City: Direct Urban Diplomacy to Combat Climate Change David Weinberger An Economic Analysis Supporting Stricter EPA Ozone Regulation Michael Wodka Toll-Based Congestion Pricing Can Fix Chicago’s Traffic Woes Vitas Zukowski
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p Letter from New York City
Where do groundbreaking ideas come from? How do they take shape? How do they
fundamentally shift the way we see our world? It almost always takes the confluence of a seemingly intractable problem, people of intentional purpose, and a certain boldness to overcome. It’s a potent mix that can be seen in the advancements in workers rights spurred by Frances Perkins’s forward thinking labor policies to the environmental movement inspired by Rachel Carson’s revealing work on the damaging effects of pesticides. Ideas have real impact when there is the realization that we need to do better combined with the people who are bold enough to ultimately do something. The Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network provides a way for young people to tap into this process, a platform for them to unlock the potential to drive progressive change. We received a record number of submissions to our premiere publication series this year from hundreds of students who invested the time and energy to research, write, and design actionable policy solutions for their communities. The 84 authors ultimately selected for the 2012 10 Ideas represent a generation of young people who recognize that it is because of, not in spite of, their age that they are uniquely capable of tackling some of our most entrenched challenges. With a thirst for action, many of these students will use these ideas to build coalitions, gather resources, and recruit supporters to create real, sustainable impact. Among this group of thinkers, visionaries, and doers, I encourage you to look for the future Frances Perkins and Rachel Carson, leaders who are already combating the injustices of our prison system, reimagining how we use energy, and solving the obesity crisis. We are proud to present the 2012 10 Ideas series, an inspiring exemplar of our generation’s unique propensity to engage with and accept the responsibility of today’s complex and interconnected challenges. Each one of these pieces represents a powerful reminder that this generation is not only willing to build a better future, but has already begun. Taylor Jo Isenberg National Director Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network
Policy Director’s Note P
Welcome and thank you for reading the fourth edition of the Roosevelt Institute |
Campus Network “10 Ideas Series”, our annual flagship publication. This series, encompassing six journals produced from our six student policy centers, represents the most innovative, game-changing ideas coming from our network.
Our country needs a new narrative for how to address the problems we face: skyrocketing inequality, rising health care costs, unsustainable deficit spending, climate change, the list goes on. Defeating these challenges will require broad support from our citizens. And yet across the political spectrum the majority of the voting public has expressed strong dissatisfaction with their relationship with government. They feel that they don’t have a voice in how decisions are made. The work of the Campus Network, and our “10 Ideas Series” demonstrates that there is an alternative way forward-grassroots policymaking-and that young people across the country are blazing a trail forward. Each idea in these journals represents the work of a student who independently took up the challenge of addressing our country’s problems. They worked at local nonprofits and visited community centers to identify the issues that mattered most to their constituents. They reached out to community leaders, professors, and government officials to identify resources that could address those issues. And along with writing the policy memos included in this journal they’ve developed public campaigns to attract funding and popular support for their causes. With this new model of engagement our students are bringing government back to “We the People”. We’re inviting you to join us. Reese Neader Policy Director Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network
Using the Sun to Make Brownfields Green
Isaac Alpert and Alicia White, Northwestern University Cities should offer PACE financing to owners of brownfields to construct solar arrays on the unused sites. Brownfields represent a serious economic problem because potenKey Facts tially productive land sits empty, • The United States has 450,000 barren brownfields.4 releasing toxic waste and decreas• The annual solar power potential of Amering adjacent property values. Deica is 206,000 gigawatts, compared to the terred by the initial cost of renovattotal summer electricity demand in 2010 ing these unused and contaminated of 763.06 gigawatts.5 commercial properties, landown• High cleanup costs currently prevent the ers opt to leave such fallow sites widespread redevelopment of brownuntouched. Further, the extent of fields. contamination on brownfields is • Commercial PACE financing accounts for hard to gauge prior to refurbishing. $9.7 million in renewable energy projects.6 Cleanup efforts on heavily contaminated sites can cost $150,000 per acre, leaving even large commercial redevelopers fearful of brownfield restoration.1 The advent of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) funding, a unique form of municipal government financing, can encourage the redevelopment of brownfields with renewable energy projects. Through PACE, a property owner can receive financing from a city to install renewable energy infrastructure. Solar panels are ideal for brownfields because they fit nearly any sized property. The preliminary funding is repaid through an assessment, or lien, on the owner’s property taxes and future profits from their new energy technology.2 Because the lien is assessed on the property, the loan is not attached to the original owner, regardless of ownership changes. Local governments already encourage the installation of solar panels on brownfields. In 2009, the City of Chicago partnered with a utility, Exelon, to develop the nation’s largest solar array on a former brownfield.3 For brownfield restoration to have lasting impact, a permanent system must help small developers. PACE removes financial barriers to constructing solar arrays, turning abandoned land into profitable sources of electricity; by spreading installation costs over the panels’ lifetime, property owners would not fear bankruptcy during renovations.
Given that brownfields bring in neither revenue nor private sector activity, municipalities should develop them as assets instead. An often under-utilized resource due to prohibitive cost, solar panels provide a solution. The nation’s 2010 summer net electricity demand (763 gigawatts)7 was 0.4 percent of the energy potentially collected by photovoltaic arrays (206,000 gigawatts).8 While the sun offers abundant energy, solar power generates only 0.08 percent of America’s energy.
In this proposal, a property owner works with a municipally-approved contractor to submit an application for cleanup and solar array construction. The municipality issues a lien on the property and gives the owner financing to begin cleanup and construction. Once the arrays are operational, the owner sells energy back to the grid. One square foot of solar panels averages 16.5 kilo• Talking Points • The redevelopment of brownfields watt-hours per year.9 An average browncreates jobs, increases home values, field is 6.5 acres10, meaning its solar array and deepens communities. could produce 700,000 kilowatt-hours • ●Through a simple application, municiper year. By selling back electricity at the palities would give funding and supaverage national rate of 12 cents per kiloport to brownfield property owners watt-hours11, it would make $86,000 per who need financial assistance to install year. For reference, a 2003 brownfield solar arrays. cleanup in Denver, CO, cost $80,000.12 • A solar/brownfield PACE financing Additionally, as manufacturing costs program gives cities the necessary tools to invest in clean energy and urof solar panels decrease, solar energy ban renewal. may cost $1 per watt by 2013. Although cleanup and solar installation costs vary by brownfield, a property owner could feasibly pay back a PACE loan and cover future maintenance costs using energy profits.
PACE funding for brownfield revitalization solves the issues of funding and open space, which are two of the biggest roadblocks preventing implementation of solar panels on a large-scale. Receiving backing from PACE, landowners could not only redevelop harmfully unproductive land, but also rejuvenate entire communities through the presence of green zones in industrial areas. Unfortunately, due to a ruling on the part of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the federal government has put PACE funding on hold. Before this policy can be executed, the FHFA’s ruling against PACE financing must be overturned.
1. “Cities Use Brownfields to Go Solar,” American Society of Landscape Architects, 2011, <http://dirt.asla.org/2011/04/13/ cities-use-brownfields-to-go-solar/> 2. “PACE Frequently Asked Questions,” PACE Now, 2012, <http://pacenow.org/blog/> 3. “Exelon City Solar,” Exelon, 2011, <http://www.exeloncorp.com/PowerPlants/exeloncitysolar/Pages/profile.aspx> 4. “Design for Brownfield Redevelopment and Land Revitalization,” United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2011, <http://epa.gov/brownfields/publichealth/index.html> 5. “Electrical Power Annual,” U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2010, <http://22.214.171.124/electricity/annual/> 6. “Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing: Update on Commercial Programs,” Clinton Climate Initiative, 2011. <http://www.eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/reports/pace-pb-032311.pdf> 7. “Electrical Power Annual,” U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2010, <http://126.96.36.199/electricity/annual/> 8. “EIA International Energy Outlook 2010,” U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2010, <http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/ archive/ieo10/index.html> 9. “Solar and Wind Calculations: The (Very) Basics,” Energy Matters, 2012, <http://www.solar-estimate.org/?page=solarcalculations> 10. “Spotlighting Best Practices in America’s Cities,” United States Conference of Mayors, 2011, <www.usmayors.org/ brownfields/> 11. “Electric Power Monthly,” U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2012, <http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/> 12. “Spotlighting Best Practices in America’s Cities,” United States Conference of Mayors, 2011, <www.usmayors.org/ brownfields/>
Powering Energy Efficiency in Sonoma County
Mark Anderson; Wheaton College Sonoma County should effectively subsidize the installation of solar water heaters to promote energy efficiency and reduce the region’s carbon footprint. The County of Sonoma’s effort to implement a community choice aggregation program that would limit the amount of fossil fuels released onto the power grid can be bolstered by a plan that encourages the utilization of sustainable, renewable energy projects. The first step in Sonoma’s community choice aggregation effort should be to limit energy use and increase efficiency—an objective that can be solved in part via solar water heating. A program of installing solar water heaters will be a pragmatic response to the rhetorical demands of Sonoma County’s call for energy independence. The thermosphony solar water heater is the most cost-effective way of harnessing energy from the sun and is a proven method to reduce the user’s carbon footprint while decreasing the amount of water consumed. First developed in the early 1900s, the system’s popularity peaked in the early 1980s following the Carter era oil crisis1. The system lost its appeal as oil prices fell in the late 1980s and early 1990s; but recently solar water heaters have made a comeback. The use of solar water is very popular in China, Germany, and Australia; Israel and Spain have even mandated that all new buildings install the system.
• Californian residents are already able to access rebates of up to 30 percent of the upfront cost of solar water heaters. • Power purchasing agreements are a cost-effective way to finance renewable energy projects that save taxpayers millions of dollars. • The county of Sonoma can create the perfect environment for a public-private partnership by sponsoring the risk assumed by homeowners.
California residents are already able to receive rebates for up to 30 percent of the upfront cost of solar water heaters; a power purchasing agreement could close the gap needed to fund the system.1 For local governments throughout California, lack of funding is a bitter reality. One plan is to formulate a public-private partnership in which a local bank or investor would participate in the process. Private sources sponsor many power-purchasing agreements throughout the country with a governmental body sponsoring the risk. For example, through Honeywell’s ESCO project, hundreds of publicly owned buildings throughout the country have undergone energy efficiency retrofits that have cost taxpayers nothing and saved schools and military bases millions of dollars in energy costs.4 The widespread installation of solar water heaters will contribute to major decreases in emissions levels for Sonoma County. Installation of solar water heaters on a national scale could reduce carbon dioxide emissions up to 3 percent from current levels.5 Such an impact will fit positively in Sonoma County’s agenda to dramatically improve its carbon footprint.
Affordable solar water heaters can be made available to citizens of Sonoma County. The greatest obstacle in the way of effective implementation of renewable energy systems is the risk that is imposed by users. Sonoma County’s government can sponsor the risk for homeowners to convert to energy efficient water heaters, enabling funding opportunities from private independent sources and give users access clean and efficient energy. Essentially, the County should create the framework for a public-private partnership that fosters energy efficiency retrofits. This partnership should be in the form of a power purchasing agreement. Such a contract would exist between the user and financer where the financer pays for the initial costs of a solar water heater and the user pays off the financer with interest over time.6 Given that many solar water heater users find that their system pays for itself between three and five years, cost efficiencies, combined with a low-interest loan created by the power purchasing agreement, should take about the same amount of time to pay off. Public subsidies available on top of a relatively short buy-back period will ensure that the purchasing power agreement can be paid off quickly.
1. “California to Subsidize Solar Water Heaters - NYTimes.com.” Energy and Environment - Green Blog - NYTimes.com. January 21, 2010. Accessed November 14, 2011. http://green.blogs.nytimes. com/2010/01/21/solar-water-heaters-get-a-boost-in-california/?scp=1. 2. “Energy Savers: Solar Water Heaters.” EERE: Energy Savers Home Page. February 9, 2011. Accessed November 30, 2011. http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=12850. 3. Erickson, Dave, Aldon Feldon, and Ann Hancock. “Sonoma Country Community Climate Action Plan.” Community Climate Action Plan. October 2008. Accessed November 14, 2011. http://coolplan.org/. 4. Craig, Steven. “Honeywell International ESCO Qualification Sheet DOE Super ESPC.” Eere.energy.gov. Accessed November 30, 2011. http://www1.eere.energy.gov/femp/pdfs/honeywell_escoqual.pdf. 5. P. Denholm, “The Technical Potential of Solar Water Heating to Reduce Fossil Fuel Use and Greenhouse Gass Emissions in the United States”, nrel.gov, http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy07osti/41157.pdf 6. “Solar Power Purchase Agreements | Green Power Partnership | US EPA.” US Environmental Protection Agency. August 17, 2011. Accessed November 30, 2011. http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/buygp/ solarpower.htm.
How To Bring Offshore Wind Power To Utility-Scale
Stewart Boss, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill State governments with strong offshore wind potential should issue competitive requests for proposals to develop utility-scale offshore wind energy. In North Carolina, where the shallow-water coastline is ideally suited for offshore wind development, an innovative legislative proposal introduced in 2011 can serve as a useful policy model for how states could encourage offshore wind development. North Carolina’s Senate Bill 747, the Offshore Wind Jobs and Economic Development Act, proposed a state-managed competitive request for proposals (RFP) process to develop 2,500 megawatts of Key Facts offshore wind energy starting in 2017.1 If the state • ●The U.S. has 4,150 gigawatts of determines that an industry bid has a positive potential wind turbine namenet economic impact, then investor-owned utiliplate capacity from offshore ties would be required to sign 20-year contracts wind resources, more than 2 to purchase power. Incremental costs or savings four times the nation’s total for ratepayers would appear on customers’ utilielectricity-generating capacty bills, with limits on the impact of rate increases ity. to large consumers. If the state fails to determine • In 2010, North Carolina utilithat 2,500 megawatts of offshore wind energy ties spent a total of roughly $2.5 billion on fossil fuel imwould result in a net economic benefit, then ports from outside the state, there would be no obligation to grant a contract. To enhance industry support, SB 747 also gives utility companies the option to co-invest or purchase an ownership interest of up to 50 percent in the projects.3 While the bill does not require any direct government spending, it also extends an existing manufacturing tax credit for wind through 2020 to help attract manufacturing jobs. This policy creates a practical path forward for offshore wind energy.
mostly on coal, while offshore wind offers the opportunity to manufacture homegrown renewable energy. • Over 20 years, developing 1,000 megawatts of offshore wind energy would bring $1.1 billion into North Carolina, creating 1,628 new construction jobs and 243 long-term jobs.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates that the U.S. has 4,150 gigawatts of total potential wind turbine nameplate capacity from offshore wind resources around the country.4 For perspective, the nation’s total electric generating capacity from all sources was 1,010 gigawatts in 2008. There are currently no installed offshore wind projects in the U.S. Developing utility-scale offshore wind projects would raise consumer electricity rates, but these costs will likely be offset by a host of economic benefits. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, if the state installed 1,000 megawatts of new wind power, the construction phase alone would create 1,628 new jobs and bring $188.5 million into local economies.5 The first 20 years of operation for these wind turbines would sustain 243
new long-term jobs and bring $21.2 million annually to local economies. Investing in clean energy projects typically creates three times more jobs than the same level of spending on fossil fuel industries.6 Developing 1,000 megawatts of wind power would also deliver 2.9 million tons of annual carbon dioxide reductions and 1,558 million gallons of annual water savings. The environmental, climate, and public health benefits of shifting from coal to cleaner forms of energy like wind are well-documented; a recent Harvard study found that “the life cycle effects of coal […] are costing the U.S. public a third to over one-half of a trillion dollars annually.”7
Under this proposed policy, state • Talking Points • The price stability of wind power would poagencies would evaluate RFPs based sition it strongly against the volatile and rison a wide variety of criteria, including prices of fossil fuels. ing, but not limited to, the impacts on • Developing offshore wind energy will bolratepayers, jobs and economic acster state economies by reducing the tivity, tax revenue, system reliability, amount of money being spent out-of-state climate change, public health, export to fulfill energy needs. opportunities, system reliability, and • Without creating a wind energy mandate or existing industries. In order to level directly spending taxpayer dollars, a statethe playing field, this policy will efmanaged competitive RFP process can allow states to evaluate the best available fectively eliminate cost disadvanindustry proposals without financial risk. tages for offshore wind by requiring the government agencies reviewing industry proposals to fully account for the externalized environmental and public health costs associated with continuing to rely on coal and other fossil fuel alternatives for electricity. States with substantial coastal wind resources should adopt this policy framework to move forward with developing offshore wind energy.
1. Senators Hartsell, Stein, Bingham; Rouzer and Vaughan. “Senate Bill 747: Offshore Wind Jobs and Economic Development.” April 20, 2011. Accessed November 29, 2011. http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2011/Bills/Senate/PDF/ S747v1.pdf 2. “SB 747 Fact Sheet.” Accessed November 29, 2011. http://www.ncipl.org/Documents/SB747factsheet.pdf 3. Todd Griset. “ANALYSIS: Ambitious NC Offshore Wind Bill Focuses On Economic Growth.” Offshore Wind Wire. May 5, 2011. Accessed November 29, 2011. http://offshorewindwire.com/2011/05/05/analysis-nc-bill-econ-growth/ 4. Marc Schwartz, Donna Heimiller, Steve Haymes, and Walt Musia. “Assessment of Offshore Wind Energy Resources for the United States.” National Renewable Energy Laboratory. June 2010. Accessed November 29, 2011. http://www.nrel. gov/docs/fy10osti/45889.pdf 5. “Economic Benefits, Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Emissions Reductions, and Water Conservation Benefits from 1,000 Megawatts (MW) of New Wind Power in North Carolina.” U.S. Department of Energy. March 2009. Accessed November 29, 2011. http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov/pdfs/economic_development/2009/nc_wind_benefits_factsheet.pdf 6. Robert Pollin, et al. “The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy.” Center for American Progress. June 2009. Accessed January 25, 2012. http://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/other_publication_types/green_economics/economic_benefits/economic_benefits.PDF 7. Leslie Glustrom, et al. “Full Cost Accounting For The Life Cycle of Coal.” Annals Of The New York Academy Of Sciences 1219.1 (2011): 73-98. February 15, 2011. Accessed January 25, 2012. http://solar.gwu.edu/index_files/Resources_ files/epstein_full%20cost%20of%20coal.pdf
Bringing E-Waste Management to College Campuses
Tehmina Brohi, Azikiwe Calhoun, Ingrid V. Muro, Maria Stern, and Adam Atia City College of New York To minimize the negative impacts of irresponsible electronics disposal, City College of New York (CCNY) should initiate a more inclusive campus-wide e-waste collections and management program.
Effective January 1, 2007, cell phone retailers in New York City were required to take back old wireless phones from consumers for reuse or recycling. Starting April 1, 2011 New York State law requires all manufacturers to take back old, out-of-use electronics from consumers. Though New York has implemented these laws, there is little done in the way of raising awareness and making responsible disposal more accessible. Key Facts Quite a few universities nation-wide have implemented campus-wide electronics recycling initiatives. Examples range from the University of Louisville’s campus-wide rechargeable battery collection and recycling program to the University of Utah’s awareness campaign around the disposing of household electronic waste.1 Among The City University of New York (CUNY) campuses, Lehman College has been the most progressive with regards to electronic waste by implementing an initiative requiring the refurbishment and re-use of college-owned electronics containing hazardous waste, such as heavy metals.2
• Only 10 percent of the 140.3 million cell phones retired in the United States in 2007 were recycled. • If Americans recycled all of the cell phones retired each year, they would save enough energy to power 18,500 homes for a year. • Of the 2.25 million tons of electronics (televisions, cell phones, computers, etc) retired in America in 2007, 82 percent were discarded, mostly to landfills. • Two thirds of the roughly 304 million electronics disposed of by U.S. households in 2005 still worked.
To reduce the amount of hazardous materials in landfills or incinerators, CCNY should implement a campus-wide initiative, allowing students and faculty to bring old cell phones, household rechargeable batteries and cell phone chargers to designated areas on campus for disposal. These collected appliances would be responsibly disposed of along with the rest of the campus’ e-waste. This would have a significant impact, because the campus would be a point of e-waste collection and disposal for students and faculty members, not just for the electronics the college uses.
Electronic waste is considered the fastest growing piece of the nation’s municipal waste stream. CCNY, in particular, throws away computers and printers that end up in the regular waste stream. With a total enrollment of nearly 10,000 students in fall 2010, CCNY will be able to make a severe dent in the harmful impacts of improper electronic waste disposal in New York City According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, electronic waste accounts for about 70 percent of the heavy metals found in municipal
landfills (including lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium) that can leach into water supplies. Some of these electronics end up at an incinerator in Newark, which burns city trash, sending a toxic fumes into the region’s air. By making the campus a collection point for electronic waste, universities of the same size and capacity in the New York metropolitan area will not only be able raise awareness about the topic (via a campaign around the project), but will also make it much easier for private individuals to dispose of their old electronics. There will be no additional cost to CCNY as all the e-waste collected can be added to CCNY waste management’s existing e-waste stream, which currently only processes electronics used on campus by the college.
The first step in implementing such an idea • Talking Points would be to acquire knowledge of the ex• E-waste recycling initiatives on camisting e-waste management program on the pus will channel the environmental CCNY campus. This would give project consciousness many young students managers an idea of the improvements that already possess into action. could be made and the impact the project • Since college campuses have a sigwould have. The second step would be to nificant presence, initiatives such co-ordinate with CCNY Green – the existas this one will make a considerable ing environmental sustainability departimpact on re-directing hazardous ment on campus. Where such departments waste away from landfills. exist on other campuses, ideally, the environmental sustainability program would already have some ideas on the capacity and size of the institution and how feasible the project would be at the given campus. Depending upon feasibility, the next step would be to coordinate with the waste management or facilities department and inform them of the initiative and find out the locations where e-waste disposal bins could be placed for students and faculty to dispose of electronics. Each location should also clearly indicate which electronics will be accepted for disposal. Coinciding with this would be an awareness campaign informing students and faculty of the accessibility of e-waste disposal on campus.
1. “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle,” University of Louisville, accessed November 20, 2011, http://louisville.edu/ physicalplant/recycling 2. “CCNY Fast Facts 2010 Revised,” City College of New York, accessed November 20, 2011, http://www1. ccny.cuny.edu/facultystaff/ir/upload/CCNY_Fast_Facts_2010_REVISED.pdf
Cash for Clunkers: Smart Appliance Edition
Erin Hiatt, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill The United States Department of Energy should administer a Cash for Clunkers program to encourage consumers to purchase smart appliances.
The household appliance has never been better equipped to help decrease the United States’ dependence on fossil fuels and improve waste management practices. The electric power industry relies on fossil fuels for 77 percent of its energy generation, making it the single largest contributor to U.S. carbon dioxide (39.8 percent), sulfur dioxide (67 percent), and nitrous oxide (23 percent) emissions.1 Residences use one fourth of all energy generated, and of a household’s electricity bill, 40 percent of the energy is consumed by standard appliances.2 Many of these appliances contain greenhouse gases, ozone-depleting chemicals, oil, PCBs, and mercury. When those so-called “white goods” are improperly disposed of, those substances can not only pose a pollution threat, but the highly recyclable steel that makes up 75 percent of a typical appliance goes wasted.3 However, with smart appliances entering the market, there is an opportunity to put sophisticated energy saving technology in the American home while ensuring proper disposal of the appliance being replaced.
Thanks to the Car Allowance Rebate System (“Cash for Clunkers”) – a 2009 Key Facts federal program which gave rebates to • ●The automobile Cash for Clunkers procar buyers trading in light motor vehicles gram provided a net boost of 220,000 vehicle sales in both July and August as rated at 18 miles per gallon or less for a well as at least 40,000 yearlong jobs.4 new car or truck with better mileage – the • ●The United States electric power inautomobile industry saw a net increase dustry relies on fossil fuels for 77 perof over 210,000 vehicle sales in June cent of its energy generation, making through August of 2009, at least 40,000 it the single largest contributor to U.S. yearlong jobs, and a boost in GDP.4 That carbon dioxide (39.8 precent), sulfur strong response was followed by a State dioxide (67 percent), and nitrous oxide Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Pro(23 percent) emissions.1 gram funded by the American Recovery • ●Whirlpool received $19.3 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment and Reinvestment Act, through which Act funds to support the manufacturing fifty state and six territories estaband commercialization of smart applilished “Cash for Appliances” programs ances.9 in hopes of seeing similar benefits for energy efficient white goods.5 Major federal efficiency standards for appliances are periodically passed as technology improves, meaning any white good manufactured before a certain year (i.e. 2006 for clothes washers and dishwashers)5 would be better off replaced with an Energy Star model.6 However, results varied greatly with some states running out of all their rebates within a few days while others had to expand the length of the program and eligible appliances to convince people to participate.7 These results point to the need for key adjustments leading to a new and better program. A return to a federally administered program is better suited to integrate a sexier, superior product – the smart appliance.
The Association of Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) defines a smart appliance as “a modernization of the electricity usage system of a home appliance so that it monitors, protects and automatically adjusts its operation to the needs of its owner”. A variety of features are offered with a smart appliance to save the owner money by responding to utility pricing information. This intelligence can contribute to an online home energy management system and allow power usage shifting in order to accommodate renewable energy production times.8 With smart appliances, you add intelligence and customizability to the efficiency of an Energy Star model and see more savings in energy and water bills.
• ●Utilities all over the country are developing smart grids, and smart appliances help to take full advantage of these more sophisticated grids’ capabilities. • ●Stimulating smart appliance purchases right at the point of sale both establishes the product to begin immediate energy savings as well as encourages utilities to hasten their smart grid programs so that consumers may take full advantage of these new products. • ●Establishing a federal rebate for smart appliances creates a standard policy design that can be informed by the best and worst state “Cash for Appliances” programs.
• Talking Points
The time for this program is coming fast. Utilities all over the country are developing smart grids, and smart appliances help to fully take advantage of these more sophisticated grids’ capabilities to save consumers money. This should please environmentalists and consumer advocates who recognize the added benefits of proper white good recycling and efficient appliance availability. The added demand would stimulate the appliance market and appeal to politicians, as it could create new jobs just as the automobile Cash for Clunkers did. For example, Whirlpool could further expand production given the $19.3 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds awarded to them to support the manufacture and commercialization of smart appliances.9 Once many smart grid appliance models have begun to enter the market from different manufacturers, appropriate rebate amounts need to be proposed in relation to product cost and efficiency gains. Next, there would need to be proper coordination with states and white goods recycling facilities, and most importantly, an education campaign would be necessary to articulate consumer benefits since the benefits of efficient appliances are harder to communicate than those of fuel-efficient cars.
1. Energy Information Administration. 2010. Effects of Energy Generation. 2. Energy Information Administration. 2005. U.S. Household Electricity Report. http://www.eia.gov/emeu/reps/enduse/er01_us.html 3. Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. 2002. Appliance Recycling Information Center. http://www.aham.org/ht/a/ GetDocumentAction/i/5363 4. Executive Office of the President Council of Economic Advisors. 2009. Economic Analysis of the Car Allowance Rebate System ‘Cash for Clunkers’. 5. U.S. Department of Energy. 4/21/2011. Appliances and Commercial Equipment Standards: Laws and Regulations. http://www1.eere.energy. gov/buildings/appliance_standards/laws_regs.html 6. U.S. Department of Energy. 2/9/2011. Energy Efficiency Standards for Residential Appliances. 7. Scott Case. GreenBiz.com July 21, 2010. Did the Cash for Appliances Program Work? http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2010/07/21/did-cashappliances-program-work?page=0%2C2 8. Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. 2009. Smart Grid White Paper: The Home Appliance Industry’s Principles & Requirements for Achieving a Widely Accepted Smart Grid. 9. U.S. Department of Energy. 2010. Recovery Act Selections for Smart Grid Investment Grant Awards. http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/edg/ media/SGIGSelections_Category.pdf
Keep Our Children Safe By Banning Bisphenol-A
Janisa Mahaparn, Cornell University Bisphenol-A (BPA) is an endocrine disrupting chemical commonly used in the production of polycarbonate plastics such as those of child-care products. Shown to cause numerous adverse effects in child development, banning BPA in child-care products would protect young children from the physiological dangers of the chemical. BPA was first produced as a synthetic hormone, but is now one of the most commonly used chemicals in industrial manufacturing. It is used in the production of polycarbonate plastics including baby bottles, children’s toys, and other child-care products. Because of its unstable chemical bonds, the BPA in plastics degrades under mild conditions • Key Facts such as increased temperature and presence • Bisphenol-A is an endocrine disof, or saturation in, saliva. This leeching allows rupting chemical that produces the chemical to enter the body orally through adverse developmental effects. liquids contained in plastics or through direct • BPA can be leached into the 1 oral contact to the material. BPA is one of the body orally. most frequently detected industrial chemicals • BPA can also contaminate in ground water and can therefore, contaminate drinking water when leeched in drinking water when BPA-containing products a landfill. leech in a landfill.2,3 Once in the body, BPA mimics estrogen, producing many adverse reproductive, developmental, and metabolic effects.4 These effects result from the fact that estrogen, a steroid hormone, can cross the blood-brain barrier, bind to receptors, and cause changes in gene expression that influence the cues for sexual differentiation.5 Consequently, BPA has been shown to cause disruptions in reproductive cycles that are associated with impaired learning and memory.6 The Center for Disease Control reports that 95 percent of Americans have detectable levels of BPA in their bodies.7 Children are highly vulnerable to the effects of BPA due to their smaller size, habits such as hand-to-mouth touching, and physiological functioning such as the reduced capacity for detoxification.8 Babies, with this reduced capacity to metabolize BPA, can have up to eleven times higher levels of this endocrine disrupting chemical in their bodies. Pre-natal and neonatal exposure to BPA has been linked to male and female reproductive disorders including reduced sperm count, prostate disease, early puberty, and thyroid hormone action that can lead to breast cancer and other cancers later on in life.9,10 In women, studies show that low doses of BPA are associated with miscarriages and polycystic ovarian disease. In addition, emerging studies have shown that even low doses of BPA accumulate more rapidly in the body than previously thought and can lead to hormonal changes that contribute to childhood and adult obesity.11,12 Despite these known adverse effects of BPA, the chemical is still widely used in child-care products and toys.
Banning Bisphenol-A in child-care products would drastically lower the exposure of children to the dangerous effects of the chemical and therefore promote healthy develop18
ment and lower the risk for related health problems later in life. Thus, this elimination of BPA would incur savings in medical costs associated with the negative developmental effects of the chemical. In addition, banning BPA in child-care products would alleviate much of the environmental stress of toxic BPA containing plastics in landfills by encouraging the use of safe and reusable containers. There are many safe materials that could be used in the production of child-care products, including glass and stainless steel, Tritan Copolyester™, high density polyethylene, polypropylene, and polyethylene terephthalate, that could safely replace BPA.13
• Banning BPA would lessen the exposure of developing children to the dangerous chemical. • Many corporations are already creating BPA-free products due to growing consumer concerns.
• Talking Points
While opponents of this bill might argue that BPA-free products are too expensive, potential increases in product costs will be offset by reductions in medical costs and outweighed by its myriad health benefits. Furthermore, large corporations such as Wal-mart and plastic bottle producer Nalgene, have already begun to eliminate use of BPA and voluntarily manufacture BPA-free products to alleviate increasing consumer concerns.14
Legislation should be implemented that prohibits the sale of food and beverage containers containing BPA that are marketed for children under the age of three in the United States. Banning the products most likely to leech BPA through oral contact would lessen the exposure of developing children to the harmful chemical.
1. Sattler, Barbara, Brenda Afzal, and Cal Baier-Anderson. “Title: Report on Public Health Concerns - Phthalates and Bisphenol A.” Umaryland.edu. University of Maryland. Web. 6 Nov. 2011. <http://www.umaryland.edu/bin/y/h/Phthalates_and_BPA_FINAL.pdf>. 2. “Bisphenol A Action Plan.” Epa.gov. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 29 Mar. 2010. Web. 6 Nov. 2011. <http://www.epa.gov/ opptintr/existingchemicals/pubs/actionplans/bpa_action_plan.pdf>. 3. http://www.leg.state.vt.us/DOCS/2010/ACTS/ACT112.PDF 4. Sattler, Barbara, Brenda Afzal, and Cal Baier-Anderson. “Title: Report on Public Health Concerns - Phthalates and Bisphenol A.” Umaryland.edu. University of Maryland. Web. 6 Nov. 2011. <http://www.umaryland.edu/bin/y/h/Phthalates_and_BPA_FINAL.pdf>. 5. Watson, Neil V., and Mark R. Rosenzweig. “Hormones and the Brain.” Biological Psychology. By S. Mark Breedlove. 6th ed. Sunderland: Sinauer Associates, 2010. 124-26. Print. 6. Sattler, Barbara, Brenda Afzal, and Cal Baier-Anderson. “Title: Report on Public Health Concerns - Phthalates and Bisphenol A.” Umaryland.edu. University of Maryland. Web. 6 Nov. 2011. <http://www.umaryland.edu/bin/y/h/Phthalates_and_BPA_FINAL.pdf>. 7. Sattler, Barbara, Brenda Afzal, and Cal Baier-Anderson. “Title: Report on Public Health Concerns - Phthalates and Bisphenol A.” Umaryland.edu. University of Maryland. Web. 6 Nov. 2011. <http://www.umaryland.edu/bin/y/h/Phthalates_and_BPA_FINAL.pdf>. 8. Sattler, Barbara, Brenda Afzal, and Cal Baier-Anderson. “Title: Report on Public Health Concerns - Phthalates and Bisphenol A.” Umaryland.edu. University of Maryland. Web. 6 Nov. 2011. <http://www.umaryland.edu/bin/y/h/Phthalates_and_BPA_FINAL.pdf>. 9. Guerra, Letty. “Bisphenol-A and its Harmful Effects on Human Development.” Sustainable Development Law & Policy, Spring 2006, 54, 78. 10. http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S3296G-2009 11. “Exposure to BPA Has Been Underestimated, New MU Research Says.” Munews.missouri.edu. University of Missouri. Web. 6 June. 2011 12. Wyatt, Brantley Nelson, “The effects of bisphenol A on adipose tissue development, metabolism, and endocrine function and the role it may play in the development of obesity. “ Master’s Thesis, University of Tennessee, 2011. http://trace.tennessee.edu/ utk_gradthes/926 13. “Safer Alternatives to Bisphenol A (BPA).” Oeconline.org. Oregon Environmental Council. Web. 6 Nov. 2011. <http://www.oeconline.org/our-work/healthier-lives/tinyfootprints/toxic-prevention/safer-alternatives-to-bisphenol-a-bpa>. 14. Goldstein, Jacob. “Wal-Mart, Nalgene Move Away From Bisphenol A - Health Blog - WSJ.” WSJ Blogs - WSJ. The Wall Street Journal, 18 Apr. 2008. Web. 06 Nov. 2011. <http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2008/04/18/wal-mart-nalgene-move-away-from-bisphenol-a/>.
Smart Growth in Action: Transfer of Development Rights in Ithaca
James Underberg, Cornell University A Transfer of Development Rights Program in the City and Town of Ithaca will balance urban growth with rural preservation to promote smart growth development and prevent urban sprawl. In 1999, the Town of Ithaca targeted 2,800 acres of agricultural land for preservation. As the Town of Ithaca has tried with only modest success to preserve rural land, the City of Ithaca, an independent municipality that lies within the Town borders, has begun to consider modifications to its waterfront zoning laws to promote higher density development on and around Inlet Island.1 While developers have actively supported the proposal, other local residents have expressed strong opposition.2 The Ithaca Common Council, in collaboration with the Town of Ithaca, has a rare opportunity to pursue both goals – rural preservation and targeted growth – through a Transfer of Development Rights program (TDR).
• Of 2,800 acres of agricultural land designated for preservation, Ithaca’s PDR program has only preserved 40. • The Ithaca Common Council is currently considering a revision of its waterfront zoning to accommodate higher density development.
• Key Facts
Though TDR markets have been established throughout the country, this proposal primarily models its recommendations off TDR programs implemented in Warwick, PA, and Warwick, NY. Since 1991, Warwick, PA’s TDR program has preserved over 1,300 acres of farmland.3
TDR programs leverage market forces to promote development in designated growth areas while preserving agricultural or open space land in key preservation areas. Landowners in the preservation areas, or sending areas, can sell their development rights on the market, and developers with property in the growth areas, or receiving areas, can buy these development rights to exempt them from certain zoning restrictions such as height or density limits. Increases in density in the receiving areas, then, are balanced by land preservation in the sending areas. The sending area would consist of the land designated by the Town of Ithaca as “Target Areas for Purchase of Agricultural Easements.” Landowners within these areas would have the opportunity to sell their development rights in perpetuity. One credit would be awarded for every two acres of farmland or open space. Credit prices would be determined between the seller and the buyer. This design is modeled after the successful TDR program active in Warwick, PA.4 In TDR programs throughout the country, the biggest obstacles to success generally involve a failure to determine TDR credit prices, or a lack of demand for TDR credits in the
receiving areas. By letting the market determine TDR prices, this proposal negates the former concern; and, given the existing demand for increased height limits on Inlet Island, there should be sufficient demand for TDR credits in the receiving areas. Furthermore, through its PDR program, the Town of Ithaca has already acquired the development rights for 40 acres of land.5 By selling these acquired easements on the TDR market, the Town could earn revenue to replenish its land acquisition fund or to finance other agricultural land and open space preservation efforts.
• A TDR would take advantage of market forces to balance economic development with agricultural land preservation. • While some existing TDRs have been unable to stimulate demand for development rights, by designating Inlet Island as one receiving area, Ithaca could ensure a base level of demand.
• Talking Points
In accordance with § 284 of New York State Town Law, the City of Ithaca can enter into an agreement with the Town of Ithaca to implement this joint TDR program by transferring rights from Town sending areas to City receiving areas. The Town Zoning Board would be responsible for reviewing and approving credit sales and would notify the City Zoning Board of all sales. Such a TDR market would grant developers greater zoning flexibility while preserving hundreds of acres of land, placating opponents of the new Waterfront Zoning plans, and placing Ithaca on the national map as a pioneer in the nascent TDR movement.
1. Murtagh, Joseph. “Zoning changes being considered for Ithaca’s waterfront to spur development.” Ithaca Times, January 6, 2011. http://www.ithaca.com/news/local_news/article_a5f0bef7-8b0a-5e49-a6e1a92f15808f73.html (accessed November 20, 2011). 2. Ithaca Journal, “Neighbors distressed by waterfront plan ,” June 30, 2011, sec. Viewpoints. http://www. theithacajournal.com/article/20110830/VIEWPOINTS03/108300304/Neighbors-distressed-by-waterfront-plan.html (accessed November 20, 2011). 3. “Warwick Township: TDR Program.” Warwick Township (Lancaster County, PA). http://www.warwicktownship.org/warwick/cwp/view.asp?a=3&q=565106 (accessed November 15, 2011). 4. Township of Warwick Code, Chapters 340- 45. 5. Mike Smith, phone interview 9/30/11
City2City: Direct Urban Diplomacy to Combat Climate Change
David Weinberger, Hunter College To ensure that the world’s cities are all equally equipped to adapt to climate change, the United Nations should create a multilateral platform for direct, urban diplomacy and aid. The United Nations (UN) has made climate change adaptation a priority, and has deployed the resources of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-HABITAT, to promote local action. UN-HABITAT runs a number of forums for nations looking to enhance their cities’ capacities to adapt. Any interaction that takes place between urban policy-makers is mediated by their cities’ • Key Facts mother countries, which are often trapped in • The UN predicts that, by 2050, 70 percent of the global populapolitical gridlock on issues related to sustaintion will live in cities. able development and climate. Still, UN-HAB• Over 600 municipalities in the ITAT does not have an official funding mechaU.S. alone participate in a sisnism to activate the projects discussed within ter cities program. 70 percent these forums. The Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) works with the C40 Cities Initiative, a platform for multilateral and bilateral partnerships between cities that fosters exchanges of best practices and discussions on setting measurable climate goals. CCI deploys assistance—financial, technical, and project management—to aid cities in reaching these goals. Because it facilitates inter-city planning and funds projects to achieve shared goals, the CCI and C40 represent an exemplary approach to urban diplomacy. The UN currently lacks avenues to link intercity dialogue on climate to adaptation projects with potential for immediate impact. Meanwhile, sister city relationships have become popular in the past half-century, with over 600 American cities now taking part.1 These relationships provide direct, bilateral transfers of information, expertise, and capital between cities. Sister city programs ordinarily lack any significant funding, and are primarily symbolic in nature. Still, this kind of direct engagement between cities could yield exactly the kind of efficiency that cities need to face the rising tides.
report seeing benefits in economic development that can be attributed to the kind of direct engagement that the sister cities program facilitates. • According to CCI, 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions now come from cities.2
A program of direct “urban diplomacy” would inject funds into and expand on existing sister city partnerships, coordinate city-to-city direct aid, and help to attract private foreign direct investment in adaptation programs. Funds to execute these plans are more widely available to cities in the developed world. Without the help of direct aid and expertise exchange, there will be a significant
security gap between cities in the developed world and cities in the developing and least developed countries. The diplomatic architecture of the UN, with its hefty funding contributions and wide array of state representation, positions it very well to establish mechanisms to support urban climate change adaptation programs around the world. By integrating components of the CCI-C40 paradigm for urban climate diplomacy with the long-term approach to bilateral partnerships that Sister Cities programs promote, • Talking Points the UN can spark and maintain an ongoing • For any international framedialogue between cities and facilitating investwork to successfully engage in ment in adaptation projects. In this way, the climate change adaptation on UN can have a profound impact on the number a global scale, it must employ of cities in both the developing and developed the financial and diplomatic reworld that are well prepared for the effects of sources of the UN to support climate change. and share the progress already
With the effects of climate change already being seen in many SIDS, the UN must act fast. In June of 2012, nations of the world will gather in Rio de Janeiro as a part of the so-called “Rio+20″ UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD). Included among the agreed-upon themes of the convention is a commitment to building an “institutional framework for sustainable development” on a global scale.3 A movement that encompasses environmentalists, urban developers, policymakers, and citizens’ organizations in cities around the world should advocate for this program at the 2012 conference.
being made by cities. • Adapting to the coming tide is a herculean feat, and cities will require access to the full resources of their parent states and each other in executing these projects.
1. “Sister Cities International Statistics,” Sister Cities International, accessed November 22, 2011, http:// www.sister-cities.org/about/statistics.cfm. 2. “Hot Cities: Battle-Ground for Climate Change,” UN-HABITAT Global Report on Human Settlement 2011, March 2011, http://www.unhabitat.org/downloads/docs/GRHS2011/P1HotCities.pdf. 3. “Objectives and Themes,” Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, accessed September 5, 2011, http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.php?menu=61.
An Economic Analysis Supporting Stricter EPA Ozone Regulations
Michael Wodka, Cornell University Implementing stricter Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) smog regulations will protect Americans from ozone’s dangerous health effects, lower long-term health care costs, and spark new investment in green jobs. On September 2, 2011, President Obama rejected a proposed rule by the EPA to reduce ground level ozone from the 2008 standard of 0.75 parts per million to a range between 0.6 and 0.7 part per million. The new rule would have thrown hundreds of counties out of compliance and required state and local governments to implement stricter enforcement protocols. The Obama Administration states that it will enforce the 2008 rule until a scheduled reevaluation of acceptable ozone limits in 2013. Ground level ozone is formed primarily from photochemical reactions between two major classes of air pollutants, volatile organic compounds (VOC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). These reactions depend upon the presence of heat and sunlight, resulting in higher ambient ozone concentrations in the summer months. Ozone contributes to what we typically experience as smog or haze.1
The EPA cites that “breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation, and congestion. It can worsen bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. Ground-level ozone also can reduce lung function and inflame the linings of the lungs and repeated exposure may permanently scar lung tissue.”2 Moreover, the EPA reports that if the stricter smog standard is not implemented, 17,000 Americans will die prematurely, 11,000 people would have heart attacks and 120,000 children would experience asthma attacks every year.3 Opponents of the new EPA rule claim that a 0.6 part per million ozone standard would cost as much as $1 trillion to implement and eliminate 7.2 million jobs by 2020.4 However, this economic analysis is largely exaggerated and fails to take into account lower healthcare costs and new investment in green jobs.
• On September 2, 2011, President Obama rejected a proposed rule from the EPA to reduce ground level ozone from the 2008 standard of 0.75 ppm to a range between 0.6 and 0.7 ppm. • Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation, and congestion. It can also worsen bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. Moreover, breathing ozone can reduce lung function and repeated exposure may permanently scar lung tissue.
• Key Facts
Since the Clean Air Act’s enactment in 1970, U.S. GDP has increased by 210 percent and air pollution has decreased by 60 percent. This statistic shows that the U.S. economy has grown significantly since the Clean Air Act was enacted. Even after 1997 (when ozone standards were previously reduced), economic data has consistently shown that EPA ozone regulations have had little to no effect on the U.S.
economy. According to a study by the Center for American Progress, economies in heavily ozone polluted regions subject to EPA ozone standards grew at a rate of 0.07 percent from 2004 to 2008 compared to 0.87 percent for the country overall. This difference was not found to be statistically significant. Moreover, unemployment in the areas subject to restrictions rose by a smaller amount than the country overall: 2.21 percent versus 2.3 percent.5 The stricter EPA ozone regulation will also lower long term health care costs. The EPA reported that its proposed regulation could save up to $100 billion in • Talking Points healthcare expenditures by 2020.6 In
• If the stricter ozone standard is not imaddition, stricter environmental reguplemented, 17,000 Americans will die lations have consistently been shown prematurely, 11,000 people would have to promote job growth. In August 2011, heart attacks and 120,000 children would the Northeast States for Coordinatexperience asthma attacks every year. ed Air Use Management found that • This ozone regulation could save up to emissions standards compliance and $100 billion in healthcare expenditures by 2020. clean vehicle research and develop• Stricter environmental regulations have ment have already been responsible consistently been shown to promote job for creating 155,000 jobs at 504 fagrowth. cilities across the country. The report concluded that 119,000 of those jobs were created in the industry since 2009.7 According to a study from the University of Massachusetts, requiring coal utilities to run cleaner would actually create 1.5 million new jobs each year for five years after the regulation took effect.8
Unfortunately, due to the upcoming election season, supporters will have to wait until the 2013 reevaluation period to push for enactment of this stricter ozone regulation. In the meantime, constituents can lobby their elected representative on this issue. Most importantly, electing a pro-EPA President in 2012 will be vital. The EPA has already made plans to implement this new standard. However, to gain broader support, the agency should research new ways to lower the cost of implementation.
1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Health Effects of Ozone in the General Population,” January 2010, accessed September 27, 2011, http://www.epa.gov/apti/ozonehealth/ population.html. 2. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Ground-Level Ozone: Health,” July 2011, accessed September 27, 2011, http://www.epa.gov/glo/ health.html. 3. Hargreaves, Steve, “Does a healthy environment harm jobs?” CNNMoney. 1-3. September 8, 2011, accessed September 27, 2011, http:// money.cnn.com/2011/09/08/news/economy/ environment_jobs/index.htm. 4. Pyle, Thomas, “EPA’s Proposed Ozone Regulation Could Cost $1 Trillion,” U.S. News & World Report: Politics. August 25, 2011, accessed September 27, 2011, http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/energy-intelligence/2011/08/25/epas-proposed-ozone-regulation-could-cost1-trillion. 5. Steve Hargreaves, “Does a healthy,” 2. 6. MSNBC.com, “Obama halts tighter smog rule, citing ‘regulatory burdens’,” Environment at MSNBC.com. September 2, 2011, accessed September 27, 2011 http://www.msnbc.msn. com/id/44372992/ns/us_news-environment/t/obama-halts-tighter-smog-rule-citing-regulatory-burdens/. 7. Royal Society of Chemistry, “US job concerns hamper environmental rules.” September 16, 2011, accessed September 27, 2011, http://www. rsc.org/chemistryworld/News/2011/ September/16091101.asp. 8. Steve Hargreaves, “Does a healthy,” 3.
Toll-Based Congestion Pricing Can Fix Chicago’s Traffic Woes
Vitas Zukowski, University of Chicago By adding a congestion fee to driving, Chicago can significantly reduce the economic and environmental costs of congestion, in addition to encouraging more sustainable methods of commuting and providing a revenue stream for enhancing alternative transportation options. According to the 2011 Urban Mobility Report, the lost time and extra fuel consumption caused by traffic congestion cost the American economy $101 billion in 2010. In the Chicago metropolitan area alone, this cost amounted to $8.2 billion, giving Chicago the distinction of having the highest percommuter cost in the nation. These costs are only expected to grow in the future as the amount of cars on the road continues to increase. Unfortunately the historical solution of simply expanding roadways to address congestion is prohibitively expensive during this time of fiscal austerity, and, in densely built up cities like Chicago, oftentimes physically impossible. In order to address congestion in these situations, the demand placed on roadways needs to decrease to levels where traffic can flow efficiently again.
• Congestion cost Chicago $8.2 billion in 2010 through lost time and wasted fuel. • Chicago ranks second nationally for time wasted (71 hours), and first for financial cost ($1,568) attributed to congestion annually per auto commuter. • High costs and dense surrounding development inhibit the possibility of simply expanding roads to address congestion. • The DoT found that international congestion pricing schemes on average reduced traffic by 10-30 percent, at times “virtually eliminating” congestion.
• Key Facts
Congestion pricing at its core is simply adding a fee to driving within a certain area at a certain time. By making driving more expensive, many commuters will opt for alternative means of transportation, taking their cars off the road, thereby reducing congestion. Internationally, many cities have adopted congestion pricing schemes to great positive effect. Singapore implemented the world’s first major congestion pricing scheme in 1975. Since then, other major cities such London and Stockholm have all implemented similar schemes, each accomplishing its stated goal of significantly reducing congestion within the pricing zone. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) found that on average congestion pricing reduced traffic by 10-30 percent, “virtually eliminating” congestion in certain instances. Additionally, the levels of air pollutants such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulates all declined by up to 27 percent. Each of these systems has also been a significant revenue generator for its respective city. Although the 2012 Budget Options Report from the Chicago Inspector General’s Office contained a detailed outline of a toll-based congestion pricing scheme for central Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel choose not to include this recommendation in his budget plan. Rather he opted to implement a “congestion fee” levied as a tax on downtown
parking garage rates. The effectiveness of this plan is questionable though, as Chicago already has the fourth-highest median daily parking rate in the nation, and no other successful congestion pricing scheme has used similar measures to accomplish its goals.
By using the bare costs of congestion in lost time and wasted fuel, and assuming a decline • Talking Points of traffic between 10 to 30 percent, mirror• Congestion pricing schemes internationally have had great sucing the average observed internationally, the cess in reducing congestion and implementation of congestion pricing would improving air quality. lower the annual economic cost of congestion • The costs of setting up a congesby between $600 million and $1.8 billion in Chition pricing scheme will be fully cago. This figure is a significant underestimate, covered after only a few years of as it does not include the additional benefits operation. realized by reducing emissions and the other • The revenues from congestion negative externalities associated with driving. fees can be used to improve and According to the congestion pricing system expand alternative transportation options, compounding its outlined in the Inspector General’s Report, inieffects. tial capital costs would be about $300 million. Assuming a 20 percent reduction in vehicle volume, with a quarter of all vehicles exempt from the congestion fee, then annual revenue would be about $375 million.
The City of Chicago should perform studies to determine what the elasticity of driving is and what prices are necessary to achieve specific declines in driving. Concurrently, the optimal decline in vehicle volume necessary to eliminate or significantly reduce congestion should be determined. Additionally, the City of Chicago should petition the State of Illinois for permission to implement tolls on interstates and state highways within Chicago. Once the optimal congestion fee is known and permission to toll on state roads is granted, a yearlong trial congestion pricing program should be initiated (as in Stockholm) to record real-time data and gauge success. After the trail period, the congestion pricing program should be tweaked to iron out any issues that emerged, and should then be implemented on a permanent basis.
1. City of Chicago, “Mayor Rahm Emanuel Outlines 2012 Budget Proposal to Secure Chicago’s Future.” Accessed December 1, 2011. http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/mayor/Press Room/ Press Releases/2011/October/10.12.11BUDGET.pdf. 2. City of Chicago - Office of the Inspector General, “2012 Budget Options for the City of 3. Chicago.” Accessed December 1, 2011. http://chicagoinspectorgeneral.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/ IGO-2011-Budget-Options-September-27-2011-Final.pdf. 4. Texas Transportation Institute, “2011 Urban Mobility Report.” Accessed December 1, 2011. http://tti.tamu. edu/documents/mobility-report-2011.pdf. 5. Texas Transportation Institute, “Performance Measure Summary - Chicago IL-IN, 2011 Urban Mobility Report.” Accessed December 1, 2011. http://mobility.tamu.edu/files/2011/09/chica.pdf. 6. U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, “Lessons Learned From International Experience in Congestion Pricing.” Accessed December 1, 2011. http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/fhwahop08047/Intl_CPLessons.pdf.
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