BlueGreen Alliance

Good Jobs, Clean Environment, Green Economy

Posts About Natural Resources Defense Council

Today, the White House finalized cleaner car standards that will increase fuel efficiency to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg for cars and light-duty trucks by 2025. Achieving this would nearly double the fuel efficiency of cars and pickup trucks on the road today and cut carbon emissions per vehicle mile traveled nearly in half.

Below is the BlueGreen Alliance statement from our Executive Director David Foster:

These cleaner car standards will create 570,000 new jobs here in the U.S.—50,000 in parts manufacturing and vehicle assembly of light-duty vehicles alone—and add a net increase of about $75 billion in annual Gross Domestic Product by 2030 to the U.S. economy. Fuel savings consumers will see from these cleaner, more efficient cars and light trucks will far outweigh slightly higher costs for these advanced vehicles—benefiting workers, their families, and the economy as a whole. 

“These standards are an incredible victory. Already, Americans are flocking to these more fuel-efficient cars, creating jobs here at home and reducing carbon pollution and our nation’s dependence on foreign oil. 

“Supported by automakers, union members, environmental organizations, consumer groups and citizens across the country, this is truly an American success story—and a model for how government and industry can work together to achieve goals that benefit our economy and environment. “


We weren't the only ones who were excited about this important event. Our labor and environmental partners also praised this effort by the Obama adminsitration to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and greenhouse gas emissions, while creating good jobs for American workers. Below are excerpts from statements from some of our partners:

United Autoworkers President Bob King

UAW President Bob King said, “These new standards will help propel the auto industry forward by giving American families long-term relief from volatile fuel prices. Lowering the total cost of driving will make automobiles more affordable and expand the market for new vehicles.”

“The standards will also provide certainty for manufacturers in planning their investments and creating jobs in the auto industry as they add more fuel-saving technology to their vehicles. Bringing this additional content to market requires more engineers and more factory workers, expanding employment in the industry,” King added. A 2012 study by the BlueGreen Alliance, “Gearing Up,” found that the standards finalized today will lead to the creation of 570,000 new jobs by 2030, largely because consumers will spend less on fuel and more on other goods and services.

“This new standard caps off a remarkable set of achievements by President Obama to save the domestic auto industry and put it on a path to long-term prosperity,” said King. “Cleaner vehicles that significantly reduce our nation’s oil consumption are good for the auto industry and its workers, good for the environment and good for our nation’s economy.”


Natural Resources Defense Council
 President Frances Beinecke

These standards will save consumers $1.7 trillion at the gas pump and cut our oil imports by one-third. They also represent the biggest step America has taken to reduce carbon pollution and combat climate change.

Building cleaner cars is already helping regain something America lost over the last few decades. Detroit once led the world in auto design and engineering prowess, but innovations stalled and foreign competitors passed us by. Driving used to be a symbol of American freedom and mobility, but soaring gas prices resulted in costly commutes and staycations.

We can reignite America’s love affair with the open road and our patriotic pride in American ingenuity. If U.S. engineers made it possible for every new car to include a computer more powerful than the one that sent a man to the moon, then surely they can produce cars that go farther on a gallon of gas.

They can, and they are.


National Wildlife Federation
 President and CEO Larry Schweiger

“New fuel efficiency rules are a win across the board – drivers will save money with more efficient vehicles, automakers will get the regulatory certainty they need, and all Americans will benefit from cleaner air, a stronger economy, and greater energy security. This administration deserves credit for finding common ground among a broad range of stakeholders, showing government can work for Americans to solve our biggest environmental and economic problems.


Union of Concerned Scientists
Director of Clean Vehicles program Michelle Robinson

“This is truly a watershed moment. Twenty years from now we’ll be looking back on this as the day we chose innovation over stagnation,” said Michelle Robinson, director of UCS’s Clean Vehicles program. “These standards will protect consumers from high gas prices, curb global warming pollution, cut our oil use, and create new jobs in the American auto industry and around the nation.”


Sierra Club
Executive Director Michael Brune

"With June and July registering as the hottest months on record, and droughts ravaging America’s heartland, these standards are a major victory for our planet and our families. They will also save families thousands of dollars at the pump and create more than half a million new jobs.

"American automakers are roaring back as leaders of the global market because they are delivering what consumers want -- vehicles that use less gas, emit less pollution, and save families more money at the pump. Today Sierra Club, automakers, and autoworkers stand together to celebrate success for American industry, jobs, and the environment.” 

Posted In: Auto, Union of Concerned Scientists, United Auto Workers, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation

New Chart and Graphic Shows State-By-State Breakdown of Jobs Created, Gasoline Saved, Net Savings to Consumers and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction 

With the imminent Obama Administration announcement of historic fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles (54.5 miles per gallon, on average, by 2025), the BlueGreen Alliance and the Natural Resources Defense Council have assembled a detailed accounting of the huge benefits that are projected to accrue by the year 2030. 

The data include a state-by-state breakdown of the 570,000 jobs that could be created in the United States by 2030 — as well as other benefits from the standard. In addition to the jobs created, the country will save nearly 23 billion of gasoline in 2030 alone, resulting in $54 billion in net savings to consumers and the reduction of 270 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution, which helps cause global warming. 

The upcoming 54.5 mpg standards promise to bolster the strong automobile recovery we are seeing today. The chart and graphics with state-by-state numbers can be found below. Click them to see the larger version.

2030 State Benefits of Achieving 54.5 mpg-equivalent Fleet Average in Model Year 2025 

Sources: Natural Resources Defense Council and BlueGreen Alliance

  • State fuel and pollution savings are from analysis by NRDC. These figures update and augment similar tables provided in NRDC’s “Relieving Pain at the Pump” publication from April 2012. Main adjustments include updates to fuel prices and vehicle miles traveled per the latest forecasts in the Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook 2012.
  • State jobs figures are from BlueGreen Alliance’s analysis for “Gearing Up: Smart Standards Create Good Jobs Building Cleaner Cars”, June 2012. 

Table 1: Jobs Created and Annual Consumer Savings of Model Year 2017 to 2025 Standards in 2030

State

Jobs Created by 2030

Fuel Savings (million gallons)

Fuel Savings

($ millions)

Net Savings = Fuel Savings Minus Incremental Cost of Fuel-saving Technologies ($ millions)

Carbon Pollution Reduction (Thousands of metric tons of CO2-equivalent)

Alabama

11,000

380

$1,615

$1,010

4,510

Alaska

1,200

45

$200

$105

555

Arizona

11,000

685

$2,920

$1,730

8,055

Arkansas

6,200

255

$1,055

$665

3,015

California

62,000

2,435

$10,405

$5,470

28,610

Colorado

8,500

385

$1,640

$935

4,530

Connecticut

6,600

235

$1,025

$580

2,760

Delaware

1,400

70

$295

$175

830

District of Columbia

470

30

$145

$85

405

Florida

31,000

2,095

$8,795

$5,345

24,585

Georgia

21,000

810

$3,410

$2,045

9,535

Hawaii

1,800

75

$320

$165

885

Idaho

2,600

120

$525

$305

1,450

Illinois

21,000

700

$2,945

$1,395

8,210

Indiana

12,000

365

$1,550

$740

4,325

Iowa

6,300

185

$790

$415

2,210

Kansas

5,300

180

$775

$420

2,160

Kentucky

9,900

360

$1,520

$960

4,250

Louisiana

10,000

360

$1,485

$925

4,250

Maine

2,800

95

$415

$235

1,120

Maryland

13,000

480

$2,030

$1,220

5,675

Massachusetts

12,000

450

$1,960

$1,115

5,280

Michigan

20,000

570

$2,415

$1,145

6,730

Minnesota

10,000

395

$1,660

$905

4,630

Mississippi

6,800

225

$965

$615

2,695

Missouri

14,000

410

$1,725

$940

4,810

Montana

2,000

70

$305

$170

840

Nebraska

3,500

115

$485

$260

1,350

Nevada

4,400

275

$1,185

$705

3,265

New Hampshire

2,900

105

$455

$265

1,235

New Jersey

18,000

520

$2,220

$1,120

6,100

New Mexico

3,900

135

$575

$330

1,585

New York

24,000

1,055

$4,505

$2,285

12,380

North Carolina

18,000

875

$3,675

$2,235

10,280

North Dakota

1,500

35

$165

$85

460

Ohio

21,000

635

$2,685

$1,245

7,475

Oklahoma

7,700

310

$1,270

$795

3,635

Oregon

6,400

290

$1,240

$665

3,415

Pennsylvania

21,000

720

$3,085

$1,540

8,485

Rhode Island

1,600

70

$325

$185

875

South Carolina

12,000

360

$1,520

$910

4,250

South Dakota

1,600

50

$210

$110

585

Tennessee

13,000

585

$2,460

$1,565

6,865

Texas

52,000

2,405

$9,865

$6,260

28,215

Utah

4,500

185

$805

$460

2,220

Vermont

1,400

45

$200

$115

550

Virginia

17,000

690

$2,895

$1,735

8,095

Washington

11,000

510

$2,190

$1,165

6,025

West Virginia

3,500

125

$540

$320

1,510

Wisconsin

10,000

335

$1,415

$670

3,950

Wyoming

1,400

35

$150

$80

415

U.S. Aggregate

570,000

22,930

$97,010

$54,920

270,130

For additional background information on the new fuel efficiency standards, see http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/plehner/obama_administration_set_to_fi.html

Posted In: California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Kansas, Jobs21!, Energy Efficiency, Transportation, Natural Resources Defense Council

This blog is cross-posted from Peter Lehner's NRDC SwitchBoard blog.

t's been a long, hot, and largely unproductive summer in Washington. Members of Congress head home this month, leaving behind plenty of unfinished business and an ideological divide that remains as wide as the Potomac. The Obama administration, however, is about to pull off a major feat of governance, based on the sort of constructive compromise that seems to have eluded this Congress. In the next few weeks, President Obama will sign off on stronger fuel efficiency standards, created in conjunction with U.S. automakers and environmental groups, that will save consumers big money at the gas pump, create half a million American jobs and dramatically improve our environment.

The administration is finalizing the details of a program that will raise the average fuel efficiency of our new passenger vehicle fleet to the equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. On average, our new cars will go nearly twice as far on a gallon of gas than ever before, providing drivers with much-needed relief from pain at the pump and protection from the volatility of gas prices. In total, the new fuel efficiency standards, when combined with the first phase of higher standards implemented in 2012, will put $1.7 trillion back into consumers' pockets over the life of the program.

We're already seeing results from the first phase of improved fuel efficiency standards issued under this administration, and their benefits have exceeded expectations. In the three years since the standards were announced, automakers have doubled the number of gas-sipping models on the market, according to automotive analysts Baum & Associates, giving car buyers twice as many fuel efficient cars to choose from. And according to Consumer Reports, this is exactly what consumers want: a May 2012 survey found that fuel efficiency--traditionally not a strength of American cars--is by far the top concern for car buyers. According to Automotive News, carmakers are better prepared to meet this demand now, thanks to the certainty provided by fuel-efficiency rules, which has encouraged automakers to make the long-term investments necessary to bring new technologies to market. The article states: “Many automakers believe that the work they've done since the last big price surge, and in anticipation of higher government fuel-economy standards, leaves them better prepared this time, with stables of more competitive small cars and crossovers."

The standards set an average; not every car will have to attain 54.5 mpg.  Minivans, pickups, sports cars and other vehicle classes will still be on the market, delivering the same features as earlier models, but with significant improvements in fuel efficiency. Consumers will still have plenty of choice, and get more bang for their bucks.

In addition to delivering consumer choice, the standards, just as we've seen withenvironmental safeguards in the past, can have a powerful and beneficial effect on the market by driving innovation and creating new opportunities for American workers and companies. Auto sales and profits are up this year, while the first half of 2012 has set the record for the highest-ever fuel efficiency for new vehicles in American automotive history. Auto industry jobs have grown by 24 percent since 2009, adding 150,000 jobs in motor vehicle and parts manufacturing, according to official Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Finalizing the 54.5 mpg standards will lead to even more jobs, as the auto industry, encouraged by the certainty provided by the new standards, continues its push to develop innovative technologies and manufacture new, efficient products. As my colleague Roland Hwang points out, “America no longer has to cede fuel-sipping technological manufacturing to the European and Japanese markets.” Car companies are even moving production of hybrids, battery packs, and components like start/stop engine starters back to the United States in a remarkable "onshoring" trend.

Last, and certainly not least, the environmental benefits of this rule are impressive. The gas savings we will achieve as a nation by 2030 will allow us to cut oil imports by one-third, and reduce carbon pollution equal to the emissions from 90 million cars.

Compare this striking accomplishment with what the House Republicans have done this week, in the same arena. The House just passed a sweeping, radical bill that would block mileage standards from going forward for years. The bill would impose a moratorium on new standards of any kind -- even if they will create jobs and are supported by industry. Fortunately, that bill won’t become law, but its passage provides a telling contrast in approaches to governance: rather than forging agreements that result in widespread benefits to the nation as a whole, members of the House appear to be working toward a goal of shutting down the government's ability to accomplish anything.  

By embracing fuel efficiency, the administration has found common ground between many disparate groups. About a year ago, I attended a White House ceremony announcing the new standards, where the president spoke alongside members of United Auto Workers, the heads of Detroit's Big Three, EPA officials, state legislators and members of Congress. All these groups put their shoulders to the wheel and decided to do what's best for the country, now and for the future. The results of this historic agreement are already proving to be a win for consumers, for the auto industry, for American workers and for the environment. We will be seeing the benefits of this historic rule for decades to come.


Posted In: Auto, Natural Resources Defense Council

This blog was written by Natasha Patel, communications intern for the BlueGreen Alliance.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that the controversial chemical found in plastics known as bisphenol A (BPA) is now banned for use in baby bottles and sippy cups.

The American Chemistry Council pushed for the move back in October to alleviate any concerns from consumers regarding the negative effects of BPA resins found in infant products such as bottles, sippy cups, lids, and closures.

BPA has had a negative history with consumer advocacy groups due to studies that highlight the possible linkage between hormone disruption and cancer, obesity, reproductive, and developmental problems in children and adults.

While an impressive move by the FDA, BPA remains legal in most food packaging products. The decision to remove it or not is with the companies who use it in their packing; some companies — such as canned food manufactures — have completely removed BPA from their lining, other companies still widely use it.

According to a news release from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) — a BlueGreen Alliance partner — by Dr. Sarah Jannsen, this ban will offer only “limited protections” against the chemical. She calls the attempt by the FDA “half-hearted” and urges them to ban BPA from all food packaging to fully protect the health of both children and adults. 

Posted In: Work, Environment and Public Health, Natural Resources Defense Council

This post is cross-posted from the NRDC's Switchboard blog.

There’s a great story in Bloomberg News about how the new fuel-efficient Dodge Dart is bringing 6,000 jobs to Belvidere, IL.  However, a key point missing from the story is the basic fact that the Dart returns Chrysler back to competitiveness in the all-important fuel efficient compact car segment.  Yes, it’s fuel efficiency that is driving increased demand for cars among American consumers, as recent sales figures and consumer surveys have shown. 

But first, let’s review the positive news out of Belvidere:

Chrysler, under the control of Italy’s Fiat SpA (F), has surged back to health since its 2009 bankruptcy and government bailout, and it’s bringing Belvidere along for the ride. The factory completes hiring for a third crew this month, which will bring it to 4,500 workers cranking out vehicles 120 hours a week. It employed as few as 200 people three years ago… Chrysler's investment will bring total employment by the automaker and its suppliers in the region to 6,000, according to the area's economic development group.

The surge of hiring in Belvidere is a direct result of Chrysler’s expectations of major sales growth in fuel-efficient compact cars. The Dodge Dart represents Chrysler’s opening bid to capture market share in this hotly-contested segment.  With an EPA-rated maximum of 39 miles per gallon highway (including an expected 41 MPG for the optional Aero package) the Dart ranks with the mileage leaders in the compact, or C segment.

Consumers have clearly expressed their desire for fuel efficient cars, with a recentConsumer Reports survey showing that consumers rank fuel efficiency as their #1 priority when purchasing a new vehicle.  A shift in priorities is taking place among American car buyers, and automakers are responding with ever-more fuel efficient products to meet that demand.

This new bumper crop of fuel-efficient cars and surging consumers for fuel sippers clearly demonstrates the wisdom of setting long-term fuel efficiency standards.  Model year 2012 is the first year of the new carbon pollution and fuel-efficiency standard program that was originally agreed to in 2009 and requires the average fuel efficiency to gradually increase until it hits 35.5 mpg in 2016.

These new standards are doing exactly what they are supposed to do: deliver the fuel-efficient cars that consumers clearly want. The fuel-efficiency product pipeline will continue because this August, the Obama Administration is expected to finalize the second phase of the rule that will double the fuel efficiency of today’s car to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg. 

With a heated competition among auto manufacturers to claim the “most efficient” title in the compact car segment underway, consumers and manufacturers alike benefit, and our nation can look forward to more win-win job creation stories like this one out of Belvidere.


Posted In: Auto, Natural Resources Defense Council

This blog is cross-posted from the Natural Resource Defence Council (NRDC) Switchboard.

Henry Ford blew away the competition--and arguably changed the world--when his company developed an assembly line to build Model T cars. By making his operations more efficient, Ford and his engineers cut production time down from 12.5 hours to 1.5 hours for each car, dramatically boosting output. Efficiency brought down the price of a car so fast that within a few years, the automobile was no longer a toy for the wealthy, but within the reach of Ford's assembly line workers.

Today, cars everywhere are still built on assembly lines, and efficiency continues to be a critical strategy for manufacturers. Efficiency is also a smart strategy for our nation as a whole, helping us conserve valuable resources, reduce costs for consumers and businesses, and strengthen our economy. That's why the Department of Energy recently announced $54 million in grants for projects that enhance energy efficiency in the manufacturing sector.

Many of the energy efficiency strategies we hear about--like better light bulbs or fuel-efficient cars--target consumer products. But industrial production consumes about one-third of all the energy produced in the United States; so becoming more efficient in the way we build those products is also critical. Efficient manufacturing not only saves energy for the entire country, it reduces costs for manufacturers and makes them more competitive--helping them keep more manufacturing jobs at home.

Several of the 13 projects awarded DOE funding have applications in the vehicle industry, such as GM's new process for manufacturing car doors. Normally this is a multi-step process, involving multiple components and several machines that roll out, cut, stamp and mold carbon steel. GM has been developing a new, integrated process that uses a lightweight magnesium alloy to make doors. The streamlined process uses half the energy of the conventional method. On top of that, it makes car doors that are 60 percent lighter, helping GM's fleet meet federal fuel efficiency standards. (These fuel efficiency standards alone will help cut gas costs in half for drivers, while generating as much as $300 billion in revenue for Detroit's automakers.)

Efficiency is a smart investment from which any business can profit. Fifteen years ago, NRDC worked with Dow Chemical to improve operations in its Midland, Michigan, facility, reducing pollution 43 percent and saving the company $5 million annually. Today, we're working with the fashion industry to improve textile manufacturing in China, helping manufacturers save fuel, water, and raw materials while reducing pollution. The Redbud Textile Company in Changshu, China, adopted just three of NRDC's recommended strategies, with a one-time cost of $72,000, and is now saving nearly $840,000 per year.

In some cases, finding efficiency might be as simple as replacing a leaky valve. But in more modern industries, a big efficiency gain might require a game-changing manufacturing leap--like an entirely new way of making car doors. We don’t know where the next innovation is going to come from, so providing incentives across a number of industries is key. The Department of Energy has just done that, selecting  projects that could have applications in the manufacturing of aircraft and vehicles, lighting and electronics, plastics and petrochemicals, iron and steel, paper and batteries, to name a few. Other projects have benefits across many industries, such as a process that uses bacteria to turn factory wastes into electricity and other useful products, which is expected to save 40 trillion BtUs of energy and offset 6 million tons of global warming pollution each year.   

Manufacturing and innovation have long been America’s strengths. Programs like these, which provide critical support for American entrepreneurs, play to our strengths and help keep American industry competitive in today’s globalized world. If we can provide the nudge that leads to the next great leap in industrial innovation, the payoff will be well worth it.


Posted In: Trade/Make it in America, Energy Efficiency, Natural Resources Defense Council

If sunscreen, beach towels, and bathing suits are the only items on your beach vacation check list, you’re still missing something. A wealth of information detailed in a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Testing the Waters report is a must-read before you head to the beach this summer. 

Findings by NRDC revealed that the number of beach closings and advisory days in 2011 reached the third highest level in 22 years of tracking this data, totaling 23,481 days up which is up 3 percent from the previous year. These were all closings due to elevated bacteria levels in beachwater from human or animal waste in the water.  As gross as that sounds, arming yourself with information before you leave for the beach or get in the water is the best strategy!

Polluted beaches can cause very serious health side effects, especially in children, including stomach flu, skin rashes, pinkeye, respiratory infections, meningitis, and hepatitis. Apart from the harm they do to public health and the environment, they hurt the economy also costing jobs and economic growth.

Know the facts:

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that up to 3.5 million people become ill from contact with raw sewage from sanitary sewer overflows each year.
  • The largest known source of pollution was stormwater runoff (47%, compared with 36% last year). 
  • According to a 2009 report by the National Ocean Economics Program, the nation's shoreline-adjacent counties contributed $5.7 trillion to the nation's gross domestic product and 48.6 million jobs.

Before you head to the beach this summer with your family, find out here if your beach is as safe and clean as you think it will be. After you’ve checked that off your list, don’t forget the sunscreen!

Posted In: Natural Resources Defense Council

7th place ribbonThe Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a member of the BlueGreen Alliance, last week released a scorecard ranking the use of renewable energy in the G20 countries, and it doesn’t make the United States looks good.

Looking at the percentage of energy that comes from renewable sources, America ranked in seventh place, and when looking at the amount of growth in renewable energy production since 2002, the United States ranked eleventh (although the report does credit us with a 341 percent increase).

7th and 11th place? Is that really where we America wants to rank?

Posted In: Clean Energy, Natural Resources Defense Council

This blog is cross-posted from the NRCD's Switchboard.

At a hearing today before a subcommittee of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee leading individuals and groups came out strongly opposed to bills that would undermine the U.S. Lacey Act – a key law to help stop global deforestation by combating illegal logging.  Musicians including Dave Matthews Band, Willie Nelson, David Crosby, Bonnie Rait, Jack Johnson, Maroon 5, and Bob Weir released a statement in strong support of the Lacey Act and against efforts to undermine the law by some Members of Congress and industry.  This statement joins the strong chorus of supporters for the law, including from the forestry industry, labor unions, and environmental groups who also testified at the hearing in support of the law.

The musician statement was released by Adam Gardner the frontman of the band Guster and founder of Reverb when he testified at the hearing.  These musicians stated (see full statement below):

“Widespread illegal logging is placing at risk the wood we treasure in our musical instruments, and thus the future of music as we know it… We will not buy a new instrument without asking where the wood comes from and if it was harvested legally and sustainably…We support the Lacey Act and other laws that prohibit trade in illegally sourced wood and we oppose the efforts currently underway to weaken the Lacey Act.”  

The full list of musicians endorsing this statement are: Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews Band, David Crosby, Bonnie Rait, Maroon 5, Bob Weir, Barenaked Ladies, The Cab, Patrick Simmons (of the Doobie Brothers), Brad Corrigan (of Dispatch), Jason Mraz, Ray Benson (of Asleep At The Wheel), Of A Revolution (O.A.R), Ryan Dobrowski and Israel Nebeker (of Blind Pilot), Jack Antonoff of F.U.N., Guster, Reverb, Razia Said, Rob Larkin, Brett Dennen, and My Morning Jacket.

As Stefan Lessard, founding member and bassist for Dave Matthews Band, explained:

“Dave Matthews Band has been putting forth many efforts to reduce the environmental impact of our touring for over a decade.  There are no other products more directly connected to our music than the instruments we use to play it.  We need to keep the laws that are in place to help ensure the wood for these instruments is sourced in a legal and environmentally sound way.”

The Lacey Act is a critical tool in combating global deforestation.  The premise behind the amendment to the Lacey Act is pretty straightforward – it is illegal to import and trade in illegal timber.  Companies importing wood and wood products into the U.S. must verify that they are buying that material from legal sources.  So if a company imports wood from Brazil that wood must be cut, produced, manufactured, etc according to Brazilian law or it would be deemed illegal according to the Lacey Act.

The Lacey Act doesn’t cover every law in the exporting country.  The Act’s specific language, and legal precedent (this Act has a 111 year old track record), focus on “conservation” laws.  The law is also based on the premise that importing companies need to ensure that their supply chain meets the requirements of the Act.  So if you are IKEA, Home Depot, WalMart, or a maker of musical instruments that imports wood and wood products into the U.S. you must take the necessary steps to ensure that your suppliers are complying with the law in the country where the wood is sourced.  That is just common sense as no company wants to encourage illegal activity.

Recent controversy has been used by some Members of Congress and industry to try to gut the law. The Lacey Act, last amended in 2008, is drawing fresh debate because federal agents this past summer raided Gibson Guitar Corp., factories in Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee to investigate whether the firm used illegally imported wood from India, which would be a violation of the act.  Gibson also is under investigation for allegedly importing illegally logged wood from Madagascar in 2009.

The committee is hearing from the sponsors of two bills that would gut this critical law and make it much harder to address illegal logging.  The first bill – RELIEF ACT – from Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), and Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) would be devastating to U.S. efforts to combat illegal logging and deforestation (see analysis of the implications of this bill).  And it would be destructive to U.S. companies and workers as the industry recently stated:

“Illegal logging and the threat it poses to U.S. jobs and forest resources throughout the world is being addressed by the Lacey Act.”

As Adam Gardner of the band Guster said:

“In effect H.R. 3210 only provides “relief” to illegal loggers while leaving musicians and other consumers of wood products with burdensome doubt about the legality and sustainability of the wood products we use.  By contrast, the Lacey Act provides comforting assurance to conscientious consumers like myself that the wood I am buying in my instruments or elsewhere is legally sound.”

The second bill from Rep. Broun (R-GA) with a similar bill in the Senate from Sen. Paul (R-KY)— the FOCUS Act —would be even more far reaching by stripping away the requirements that U.S. imports come from legal sources.  It would only make it illegal to use wood that was illegally cut within the borders of the U.S., making it completely legal to illegally log overseas.  And it would go much, much further in gutting the Lacey Act and other conservation laws.

There is strong opposition to bills that seek to gut this critical law, including from:environmental and conservation organizations (e.g., NRDC, Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, League of Conservation Voters, Rainforest Action Network, The Nature Conservancy, and Environmental Investigation Agency), timber industry (e.g., American Forest and Paper Association, Hardwood Federation, and National Wood Flooring Association), labor unions (e.g., United Steelworkers which represents the pulp and paper labor union and the Blue Green Alliance), and wood product users (e.g., United States Green Building Council and Sound & Fair).  [See environmental and labor letter’s in opposition to the RELIEF Act and forestry industry’s letter of opposition.]

It is time to stand up against illegal logging and for American business, musicians that want instruments that are untainted, American workers, and communities around the world devastated by deforestation.  These bills would severely undermine this critical law at a time when important progress is being made on addressing deforestation.

So Members of Congress, companies, and musicians: it is time to take a stand.  Are you for illegal logging or want to stand up against its destruction? 

--------------------------

Full musician statement:

“Widespread illegal logging is placing at risk the wood we treasure in our musical instruments, and thus the future of music as we know it. As musicians dedicated to our art and to protecting the earth’s natural resources, we call on everyone involved in the sourcing, crafting and production of musical instruments to join us in our commitment to eliminate all trade in illegally logged timber and forest products. We will not buy a new instrument without asking where the wood comes from and if it was harvested legally and sustainably.

We support the Lacey Act and other laws that prohibit trade in illegally sourced wood and we oppose the efforts currently underway to weaken the Lacey Act.  We urge lawmakers, suppliers and craftsmen to ensure that our art has a positive impact on the environment rather than contributing to forest destruction. We call on our fellow musicians to do the same.

Please lend your voice to help protect rainforests from illegal logging”

--------------------------

* Updated with link to the musician statement on the Reverb site.

** Updated 5/9/12 with quotes from Stefan Lessard from Dave Matthews Band and Adam Gardner frontman of Guster.

Posted In: Trade/Make it in America, Natural Resources Defense Council

This blog is cross-posted from the NRDC's Switchboard Blog.

New York City has demonstrated its continued leadership on sustainability and addressing climate change with the adoption of “Zone Green”, an amendment to New York City's zoning resolution that will make it easier to build new green buildings, as well as retrofit older buildings to be green.  The City Planning Commission unanimously approved the Zone Green text amendment on March 23rd, followed by the New York City Council’s unanimous approval of the proposed amendment yesterday.   We commend the Department of City Planning for putting forward this proposal, which not only represents an important step forward in achieving the City’s greenhouse gas reduction and energy goals, but will also result in lower energy costs for consumers, the creation of much-needed jobs, fewer emissions of harmful pollutants, and increased reliability of our electric grid.

Buildings represent an important and necessary opportunity for reducing the city’s carbon footprint, as nearly 80% of the City’s greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings.  It is also critical that we address existing buildings, as 85% of the buildings that will exist in 2030 are currently standing.  Zone Green follows the groundbreaking efforts the City has already been taking in this area, including its Greener, Greater Buildings plan, as well as its initiatives to address barriers to greater efficiency, including its work to promote energy-aligned leases and to facilitate financing of energy efficiency retrofits through the New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation.  Energy efficiency is an important resource and is the cheapest, easiest and fastest way to meet New York City’s energy needs while reducing harmful pollution and saving money. 

The Zone Green amendments build upon a number of the recommendations of the City’s Green Codes Task Force, an effort led by Urban Green Council at the request of Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Quinn to comprehensively review New York City codes for impediments to and opportunities for encouraging sustainability in buildings.  Zone Green will remove zoning barriers to making New York City buildings greener, providing building owners with greater flexibility to implement sensible measures that save energy and money, such as insulating building walls for increased efficiency.  In fact, the City estimates the potential for up to $800 million per year in energy savings through this proposal, which is quite significant.  The proposal will also make it easier for people to install clean, renewable energy technologies, such as solar and rooftop wind, so we’re not only empowered to use less energy, but also to generate what we do use in the cleanest way possible.  It will provide numerous other benefits, as well, including helping to encourage local food production and facilitate rooftop stormwater retention.  As with the City’s other efforts to promote green buildings, this proposal will not only help New Yorkers save money, but it will also help to create jobs – jobs that cannot be outsourced elsewhere. 

We commend the City for continuing to be a leader on the issue of green buildings, and applaud the City Planning Commission and City Council for adopting the Zone Green text amendment to remove the zoning barriers that currently exist.  Doing so will not only help us move towards a more sustainable city, but it will also help New Yorkers save money and enjoy a healthier environment.

Posted In: New York, Clean Energy, Climate Change, Energy Efficiency, Natural Resources Defense Council
Show Newer Posts » « Show Older Posts