Environment Committee

Overview:

The Environmental Grantmaking Program at EFA seeks to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. To do this, we focus on economic and political incentives for transitioning to a clean energy economy. Currently, the Environmental Grantmaking Program has three initiatives through which we pursue these goals:

  • The Coal Ash Initiative increases the cost of dirty energy by forcing utilities to internalize externalities and pay the true cost of burning coal.
  • The Ocean Acidification Initiative provides evidence of the economic impact of climate change—an important political tool that debunks the tradeoff between jobs and the environment.
  • The Carbon Pricing Initiative positions clean energy as a cheaper alternative to fossil fuels and provides an “elegant solution” to climate change.

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.
Earthjustice
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.

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

When the Educational Foundation of America (EFA) began funding work for ocean acidification in 2008, the term was a relatively new one for much of the world, including policy makers. Thanks to the work of many organizations including those with whom EFA has partnered, ocean acidification (OA) is now increasingly part of the common lexicon, recognized as a byproduct of excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In the United States, we are seeing greater scientific understanding of OA’s impacts, states adopting new regulations and policies to address OA, and increased funding allocated from the federal government to address this critical issue.

This is not to say the work is completed, but EFA is proud to have invested over $3 million in grants over the last eight years to increase awareness of OA and advance scientific research to better understand its impacts. Today, EFA’s Environment Committee has decided to focus all of our efforts on the direct reduction of global carbon dioxide emissions. This transition, which will be complete by the end of 2017, will focus will address the drivers of ocean acidification as well as global climate change.

We are heartened by progress to date, cognizant of how much is left to be done. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners to address OA over the next 18 months and welcome your suggestions and comments on this transition.

Please feel free to provide input through our ideas portal on potential focal areas.

Who we’re working with:

The Ocean Conservancy
The Ocean Foundation
Alaska Marine Conservation Council
Oregon State University

Carbon Pricing Initiative

Greenhouse gas emissions create externalities that are not fully accounted for in most business models. A price on carbon (along with other greenhouse gases, including methane) would correct this market failure and ensure that polluters pay the true cost of their emissions. In the absence of federal action, states are poised to take the lead on pricing carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions. Initiated in 2014, the EFA Carbon Pricing Initiative seeks to implement a price on carbon at the state level, and currently funds coalitions working in Oregon, Vermont, and Massachusetts.

Who we’re working with:

Oregon Environmental Council (coalition: Renew Oregon)
Clean Water Action of Massachusetts (coalition: Massachusetts Campaign for Clean Energy Future)
Vermont Public Interest and Research Group (coalition: Energy Independent Vermont)

To view a complete list of past and current grantee partners, please refer to EFA’s Annual Reports.

Have an idea for us?

The mission of EFA’s Environment Committee is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. We are interested in innovative ideas that require collaboration and we want to hear your ideas.

In particular, we are interested in ideas that would reduce methane emissions, further climate-smart agriculture, or increase uptake of solar power in the United States.

Click here to submit an idea. Or click here to be added to our mailing list for future requests for proposals.

All submissions will be automatically confirmed, and a member of the EFA team will reach out to you if there is alignment with the work of the Environment Committee.