Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rules for U.S. Trucks Would Cut Emissions, Oil Consumption

Washington — For the first time in U.S. history, the government is proposing fuel-efficiency standards for trucks and buses, starting with vehicles that hit the market in 2013.

The new rules, if made final, would save 500 million barrels of oil for vehicles of the model years 2014 through 2018, and 250 tons of greenhouse gas emissions during the lifetime of the trucks, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told reporters October 25. With the targeted vehicles responsible for 20 percent of all emissions from the U.S. transportation sector, the proposed rules are a “win-win-win,” LaHood said, because they will benefit American industry, truckers and consumers as well as the environment.

“We have more work to do, but we’re making progress,” he said. “This represents another step forward.”

Earlier this year, the Department of Transportation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the nation’s first greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and sport-utility vehicles, and new rules aimed at limiting emissions from factories are expected to go into effect next year. President Obama has said that lessening the nation’s dependency on foreign oil and reducing the country’s contribution to greenhouse gases that cause climate change are top priorities for his administration.

So even though Congress has yet to pass comprehensive climate legislation, federal agencies are pushing a series of regulations that, over time, will have a significant impact on emissions and should help the United States meet its goal of slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020, officials say.

The 1970 Clean Air Act gives the EPA authority to protect U.S. air quality. A 2007 Supreme Court ruling held that as part of that responsibility, the agency has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, setting in motion a number of initiatives in the past year.

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Photo caption: The Obama administration is extending fuel-efficiency rules to trucks.
Photo copyright AP Images.

Democracies promote environment, health, per capita income

The Legatum Institute just released a global study that confirms what many democracy advocates already believe: Democracies are good to their citizens. The study, which took into account per capita income, health, and environment among other factors, ranked the United States as the tenth most prosperous country. Where did your country place? Go to

Friday, October 22, 2010

Upcoming Webchat: Adapting to a Changing Climate

Even if the world manages to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to slow the rise in global temperatures, change is inevitable. In fact, many parts of the world are already experiencing droughts, floods, disease outbreaks and other challenges aggravated by climate change.

In an October 27 webchat with students and participants worldwide,’s guest Jennifer Kurz of the U.S. Climate Action Network will discuss how countries and communities can prepare and adjust to new living conditions in a challenging environment.

The webchat, “Adapting to a Changing Climate” is the fourth program in this season’s webchat series, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State to build a dialogue and spread knowledge about climate change – an issue that affects people worldwide.’s online conversations allow people on every continent to interact with climate change experts and activists from the government, the nonprofit sector, and from grassroot organizations in the United States and beyond.

Ms. Kurz will discuss how climate change is forcing people in many countries to rethink how they grow crops, build their homes and manage their natural resources – but also how people and governments are joining forces to help them cope.

As the outreach director for the U.S. Climate Action Network, the largest coalition of U.S. climate advocacy groups, Ms. Kurz focuses on bringing people together for a common cause. Before joining the network, she worked on the Sierra Club’s Global Warming and Energy Team and political action committee. She also ran the environmental group’s population and sustainability program.

If you’d like to participate, please go to . No registration is needed. Simply choose Enter as a Guest, type in your preferred screen name and join the discussion. We accept questions and comments in advance of, and at any time during, the program.