Environment Committee Initiatives

Coal Ash Initiative

Coal ash is the toxic byproduct of burning coal for energy. Containing arsenic, lead, and mercury, it poses a substantial threat to human health, primarily in rural communities. Lack of regulation has led to environmental disasters such as the 2008 Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash spill, ranked alongside the Exxon Valdez oil spill and Love Canal as one of America’s top ten manmade disasters. Just five years later 39,000 tons of coal ash from the Duke Energy facility in Eden, North Carolina, broke its dam and flowed into the Dan River.

EFA is proud to support our grantee partners who seek to hold utilities responsible for their waste stream through litigation, advocacy, and policy work.

For example, EFA’s grantee partners rallied to bring media attention, legal scrutiny, and advocacy to shine light on Duke’s negligence. One year later, Duke was charged with criminal negligence and settled a $102 million payment.

Who we’re working with:

Southern Environmental Law Center
3 year grant to litigate against Duke Energy and ensure clean up of coal ash ponds in the Southeast.

3 year grant to establish national regulations for coal ash disposal.

Environmental Integrity Project
3 year grant to establish national guidelines for coal ash discharge into waterways.

Prairie Rivers Network
3 year grant to establish state standards for coal ash in Illinois.

In the news:

Duke Energy settles Dan River spill for $102 million: http://www.wsj.com/articles/duke-energy-to-pay-102-2-million-to-resolve-coal-ash-spill-violations-1424472309

EPA promulgates first ever rules for coal ash disposal: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/20/us/epa-issues-new-rules-on-disposal-of-coal-ash.html

Results, 2011-2014
Please click here for EFA’s logic model outlining expected results from the original coal ash grants 2011-2014.

Please click here for an infographic summarizing outcomes from coal ash work by multiple partners from 2011-2014. EFA is proud to be one of several contributors to this work.

Ocean Acidification Initiative

In 2005, shellfish growers in the Pacific Northwest began experiencing die-offs of their oyster spat—baby oysters—under mysterious circumstances. It took marine scientists three years to diagnose the problem as ocean acidification, a condition with the same underlying cause as climate change: too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Excess carbon dioxide is absorbed by the ocean, which lowers pH and can prevent development and eventually erode the shells of oysters, mollusks, and other important marine species. EFA’s grantees are working to address the key cause of ocean acidification—excess carbon dioxide— by gathering evidence and to share with decision makers in key states to illustrate the economic need for policy action on climate change.

Who we’re working with:

The Ocean Conservancy

The Ocean Foundation

Alaska Marine Conservation Council

Oregon State University

In the news:

The Guardian, March 2015: Oysters, clams and scallops face high risk from ocean acidification, new study finds: http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/feb/23/climate-change-pollution-shellfish-ocean-acidification?CMP=share_btn_link

Sea Change series in Seattle times: http://apps.seattletimes.com/reports/sea-change/2013/sep/11/pacific-ocean-perilous-turn-overview/

Carbon Pricing Initiative

In 2008, British Columbia established a “revenue neutral” carbon tax. With a revenue neutral tax, all revenue collected by the government is returned in the form of tax breaks—the government doesn’t get to keep any of it. As a result, British Columbia now has Canada’s lowest personal income tax rate and one of the lowest corporate income tax rates in North America. Fuel use per capita has dropped 14% since 2008, compared to a 3% rise in the rest of Canada.

Initiated in 2014, the EFA Carbon Pricing Initiative seeks to replicate British Columbia’s success by funding coalitions in Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts and Vermont to pass a price on carbon at the state level. Carbon pricing is often referred to by economists as an “elegant” solution to climate change.

Who we’re working with:

Oregon Environmental Council (coalition: Renew Oregon)

Washington Environmental Council (coalition: Washington Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy)

Clean Water Action of Massachusetts (coalition: Massachusetts Campaign for Clean Energy Future)

Vermont Public Interest and Research Group (coalition: Energy Independent Vermont)

In the news:

12/17/14: New York Times: Washington Governor Proposes Carbon Pollution Cap: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2014/12/17/us/ap-us-inslee-climate-change.html?_r=1

July 2014: The Economist: The Evidence Mounts http://www.economist.com/blogs/americasview/2014/07/british-columbias-carbon-tax