Protecting Our Atmosphere the Reagan Way

Protecting Our Atmosphere the Reagan Way

Way back in 1987, President Ronald Reagan pushed through an international treaty to phase out the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), chemicals that scientists suspected of eroding the earth’s protective ozone layer. That treaty, called the Montreal Protocol, has been the most successful environmental treaty in history. In fact, because of Reagan’s leadership, the ozone hole over Antarctica is healing. According to NASA, the hole should completely vanish in about 50 years. Today, however, we now know that the chemicals developed to replace CFC-based refrigerants, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) harm the atmosphere in a different way. They are extremely potent greenhouse gases. The most commonly used HFC is 3,790 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Back in December (2020), a funding bill passed by Congress included a bipartisan climate agreement to phase-down production and consumption of HFC super-pollutants. That legislation, which authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to slash HFC emissions, passed and was signed into law by then President Trump. Now the Biden administration is following through on that. Its new EPA rule seeks to decrease U.S. production and use of HFCs by 85% over the next 15 years. That is real progress, but HFCs and our warming climate are global problems, not simply something we can solve alone. Other countries must follow our lead—and that is where Reagan’s Montreal Protocol comes back into play. Kigali Amendment In 2016, the United States and other protocol signatories drafted and approved the Kigali Amendment. The Kigali Amendment is a global pact under the Montreal Protocol that focuses on the phase out of climate warming HFCs. The United States signed the amendment in 2016...
Lake Okeechobee – More Than Just Your Average Lake

Lake Okeechobee – More Than Just Your Average Lake

Most people probably imagine the surrounding ocean when they think of Florida’s great water assets. Lake Okeechobee, though, is the third largest freshwater lake in the nation. To say this lake is massive is an understatement. The lake itself has a 135-mile shoreline, a surface area of 730 square miles, and contains several islands. Lake Okeechobee—surrounded by towns like Belle Glade, Okeechobee, Pahokee, and South Bay—is a hub for tourism and attracts many outdoor and boating aficionados. The lake itself is an excellent fishery with some of the best bass fishing in in the world. Whether you live in Florida or just come for a visit, Lake Okeechobee has a lot to offer. For South Florida, Lake Okeechobee is a vital economic and ecological resource. It brings in huge amounts of revenue to the region while providing critical habitat for birds, fish, and many other wild creatures. The lake also plays a key role in flood control and the water supply of South Florida. It is an essential water source for nearby farms, residents, businesses, and wildlife. Florida may be nicknamed the “Sunshine State”, but the state also gets its share of storm events that bring heavy rain. Whether this comes from typically afternoon thunderstorms or tropical storms and hurricanes, flooding is an issue that many Florida cities face yearly. The ability of Lake Okeechobee and its surrounding wetlands to collect and hold water provides essential flood protection for the area. Recent years have shown a decline in the overall health of the lake. Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has classified Lake Okeechobee as a Class I drinking...
Every Breath Matters: Pollution & COVID-19

Every Breath Matters: Pollution & COVID-19

Nothing quite sharpens one’s focus on the importance of clean air quite like a respiratory illness that exploits lungs damaged—and made more vulnerable—by pollution. A recent study out of Harvard found that even a small increase in long-term exposure to air pollution significantly increases one’s risk of dying from COVID-19. The study focuses specifically on exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5), which includes the visible air pollution from vehicle exhaust and coal-fired power plants. These tiny particles of pollution are able to travel deep into one’s respiratory tract and reach the lungs. Exposure to PM2.5 is already known to cause inflammation and cellular damage. Evidence suggests that it may also suppress early immune response to infection. This pollution has been linked to many of the pre-existing conditions that increase mortality among those with COVID-19. The Harvard study, which analyzed 3,080 counties across the U.S., found that coronavirus patients in areas that had high levels of air pollution before the pandemic are more likely to die from the infection than patients in parts of the country with cleaner air. This should be a huge wake-up call to all of us, especially those who have not previously been concerned all that much about air pollution and how it affects their health. The study gives added urgency to expanding our use of renewable energy and electric vehicles (EVs). Having cheap, reliable, and clean electricity is important in the best of times, but it becomes most critical in times like these, where we face fear, uncertainty, and economic hardship. The energy market has changed dramatically in recent years, with solar energy emerging as...
Trampling on Reagan’s Clean Air Legacy

Trampling on Reagan’s Clean Air Legacy

The Trump administration’s recent move to revoke California’s ability to set tougher emissions standards for cars sold in the state is not aimed at rolling back Obama policy, it seeks to reverse a waiver that then governor Ronald Reagan secured for the state more than 50 years ago. Governor Reagan was very committed to cleaning up California’s notorious smog problem, which was largely due to auto emissions. Not only did he support stronger pollution limits, in 1967 he established the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and appointed a scientist—an expert on smog—to lead the agency. That same year, Congress was considering the Air Quality Act of 1967. Reagan wanted assurance that any new federal law would not threaten California’s strong tailpipe pollution standards. He worked with his allies in the California congressional delegation to secure a waiver that allowed the state to set its own, more stringent, pollution limits. Shortly thereafter, Reagan signed a state bill into law curbing auto emissions significantly more than was required by the new federal standards. Reagan was very proud of his smog-fighting efforts, and as president, he made them the topic of a 1984 radio address to the nation. Listen Here: https://www.conservativestewards.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Reagan-Radio-Address1.mp3   This Trump administration move to strip California of its longstanding waiver not only threatens more smog, it represents a strike against states’ rights, and it tramples on Reagan’s legacy by seeking to eliminate one of his signature achievements. Revoking the waiver is part of a broader administration rollback of automobile fuel economy standards that is so illogical even auto manufacturers, including Ford, General Motors, Honda, and Toyota, are opposed. They...
CRS Applauds Shell for Opposing Pollution Rollbacks

CRS Applauds Shell for Opposing Pollution Rollbacks

Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship’s president, David Jenkins, issued the following statement in response to Royal Dutch Shell’s recently announced opposition to the Trump administration’s proposed rollback of methane rules: “We applaud Shell’s very commendable stance against the Trump administration’s proposed rollback of common-sense methane pollution standards. This is what being a good corporate citizen and good steward of our planet looks like,” said CRS president David Jenkins. “The administration would do well to take its cues from responsible companies like Shell, and abandon reckless policy proposals that cater only to bad actors.” “Shell deserves enormous kudos for its approach to methane pollution, and not only for opposing the administrations proposed rollbacks, but also for setting its own company standards to be protective of our atmosphere,” Jenkins added CRS has worked hard in opposing Trump administration plans to scrap existing rules that require oil and gas companies to minimize the release of methane, which is a powerful greenhouse gas, through leaks and excessive flaring. Such releases not only pollute the air and waste natural gas, it also costs taxpayers millions of dollars in lost royalty...

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