Clean Air Task Force

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Waste Not: Common sense ways to reduce methane pollution from the oil and natural gas industry
(December 2014) Report to be released in early December. Technical Appendix and Summary are available now.
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Waste Not: Common sense ways to reduce methane pollution from the oil and natural gas industry - Report Summary
(November 2014) CATF and other leading public advocates have released their strategy for EPA to cut methane pollution in half in just a few years.
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The Last Climate Frontier: Leveraging the Arctic Council to make Progress on Black Carbon and Methane
(October 2014) The Arctic Council is the international body charged with fostering cooperation among Arctic nations and indigenous peoples. Made up of the littoral Arctic states (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States), the Council is able to address regional issues of shared interest that extend beyond the borders of individual nations. Because of its mission, geographic focus, and membership, the Council is uniquely positioned to address regional emissions of short-lived climate pollutants. Protecting the Arctic is an important part of the Council's mission, but the direct threat that climate change poses to the region presents the opportunity for this intergovernmental body to take a lead role in addressing the threat.
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Quantifying Cost-effectiveness of Systematic Leak Detection and Repair Program Using Infrared Cameras
(March 2014) Methane is a potent climate pollutant: it is the second most important greenhouse gas behind CO2 and, pound-for-pound, it is dozens of times more potent than CO2. The oil and gas industry is the biggest emitter of methane in the US, and leaks from components like connectors and valves account for nearly 30% of these emissions. These leaks warm the climate at least as much as all of the power plant CO2 from New England, New York, and New Jersey. These figures are based on EPA estimates of leaks from oil and gas facilities, and numerous independent studies have shown that EPA's figures are significantly too low. This study shows that finding and fixing these leaks is a cost-effective way to reduce methane pollution.
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Power Switch: An Effective, Affordable Approach to Reducing Carbon Pollution from Existing Fossil-Fueled Power Plants
(February 2014) Power Switch, proposes a common sense, highly cost-effective approach for reducing carbon pollution from existing power plants. Simply by setting performance standards that result in displacing electricity generated by high emission rate coal-fired power plants with generation from existing currently underutilized, efficient natural-gas power plants, the U.S. can realize significant, near-term reductions in carbon pollution at a minimal cost.
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Alternative Approaches for Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Existing Power Plants under the Clean Air Act: Practical Pathways to Meaningful Reductions
(February 2014) During the fall of 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began stakeholder engagement and regulatory processes to develop a proposed rule to regulate greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act (CAA). This study presents a taxonomy of alternative policy designs, discusses their benefits, weaknesses and tradeoffs and provides an economic analysis for the most promising alternatives.
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Carbon Limits Leaks Interim Report (Prepublication Draft)
(December 2013) An examination of the cost-effectiveness of conducing leak detection and repair programs at natural gas facilities
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Reducing black carbon emissions from kerosene lighting sources offers climate mitigation benefits
(November 2013) With roughly 1.3 billion people worldwide lacking access to electricity, kerosene lamps are used widely in many parts of the world. These lamps emit significant amounts of black carbon, far greater than previously estimated. Eliminating current annual black carbon emissions would provide a climate benefit equivalent to at least five gigatons of carbon dioxide reductions over the next 20 years. Efforts to replace kerosene lamps are comparatively cheap and easy, and viable alternative lighting sources exist. Moreover, in addition to mitigating climate change, there are significant health and development co-benefits. Many existing initiatives already aim to upgrade lighting sources from kerosene, either through increasing electricity access with grid expansion or by promoting and making available,e modern off-grid lighting alternatives. A CATF-commissioned report, undertaken by Ecologic Institute, examines how the new data on black carbon emissions can add value to current lighting upgrade efforts to motivate more lighting turnover. It also examines what it might take to develop a Initiative within the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC).
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Putting Energy Innovation First: Recommendations to Refocus, Reform, and Restructure the U.S. Department of Energy
(April 2013) With the departure of the private sector from many aspects of basic and applied energy research, many have looked to the Department of Energy's national laboratories to fill the void. As policymakers debate the appropriate role for government in support of innovation, questions often arise about the basic capabilities of the Department of Energy (DOE) and its laboratories. This paper explores DOE's role and structure and the opportunity to fundamentally reshape the department in ways that could significantly improve its effectiveness.
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Methane Emissions from the Oil and Gas Sector: Barriers to abatement and technologies for emission reductions
(March 2013) Methane emissions persist throughout the world, including the United States, because of a number of barriers to emissions prevention or capture. These barriers, some real and some perceived, are described in terms of the author's experience worldwide. The question, what can and should be done to mitigate methane emissions and the climate-forcing changes that methane is believed to cause in the atmosphere is addressed at the end with a number of conclusions about what creates these barriers and recommendations to overcome these barriers. The point is made in this paper that, like a clock spring, the worldwide economic and political structure is wound tight over the past century. Therefore, most of the recommendations will take time to sell, to implement, to perfect, to unwind those barriers against methane mitigation. The good news is that a program called the "Global Methane Initiative" has already attracted the membership of 39 countries in the world, representing virtually all of the Americas, Europe and Asia, but not yet significant participation in Africa or the Middle East. Worldwide cooperation is necessary, and has to be a prime objective of any strategy to mitigate methane emissions, and as the most powerful GHG over the next 20 years, impact climate change.
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Geologic carbon storage through enhanced oil recovery
(February 2013) EOR provides a readily available pathway to large volume storage though oil production offsetting major capital costs of capture facility and pipeline construction, boosting public acceptance through experience and community benefits. Moreover, after completion of EOR operations, sequestration activities can be continued via maximizing CO2 storage in the depleted field, and by injection into qualified and associated brine formations.
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Best Practices for Reduction of Methane and Black Carbon from Arctic Oil and Gas Production
(July 2012, revised March 2013) Methane and black carbon are important short-term climate pollutants. Changing technology and climate change itself have increased the amount of oil and gas production activities in the Arctic region and this trend is expected to accelerate, with the potential for yet more methane and black carbon emissions from this activity. The Arctic holds one-fifth of the world's undiscovered, recoverable oil and natural gas and yet it is particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts. If oil and gas is to be developed in the Arctic we must ensure that both methane and black carbon emissions are held to a bare minimum, something that is readily achievable with current technologies.
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Energy Innovation at the Department of Defense: Assessing the Opportunities
(March 2012) CATF and Arizona State University's Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes have teamed up again to take a deep investigative look inside the U.S. Department of Defense at how the Pentagon develops and implements clean energy innovations, and if these learnings might result in real-world applications in the search for low and zero-carbon solutions to global climate change.
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The Nuclear Decarbonization Option: Profiles of Selected Advanced Reactor Technologies
(March 2012) In order to assess the impact that advanced technologies could play in the development and deployment of new nuclear reactor designs, Clean Air Task Force asked several national leaders in nuclear technology to give us their perspectives on three promising reactor types: small, modular light water reactors (smLWRs), high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs) and fluoride molten salt reactors (called FHRs). The advantages these advanced reactor designs offer could be profound, but bringing these concepts to commercial reality will require sustained development, especially for the more advanced concepts. We hope these papers will help to inform the debate about how governments and the private sector should support that development.
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Clean Diesel versus CNG Buses: Cost, Air Quality, & Climate Impacts
(February 2012) This memo summarizes the results of an analysis which compares the economic, and the air quality and climate impacts, resulting from the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) transit buses to those from modern diesel buses
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Brick Kilns Performance Assessment: A Roadmap for Cleaner Brick Production in India
(January 2012, revised April 2012) This study is one of two research components aimed at developing strategies for the introduction and promotion of cleaner walling materials in India.
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Sick of Soot: How the EPA Can Save Lives by Cleaning Up Fine Particle Air Pollution
(November 2011) Sick of Soot was prepared by the american lung association, clean air task force and earthjustice. It summarizes the findings of Health Benefits of Alternative PM2.5 Standards, a technical report that was prepared for the American Lung Association, Clean Air Task Force and EarthJustice by Donald Mccubbin, Ph.D. Dr. McCubbin has analyzed the health benefits of the Clean Air Act, major regulations such as the Heavy-Duty Diesel Rule and the Clean Air Interstate Rule, and the impacts of power plants, motor vehicles and other pollution sources. He received the EPA's Level 1 Science and Technological Achievement Award for work on the health benefits of alternative ozone standards and he received Abt Associates' Daniel Bell Award for the development of the Environmental Benefits Mapping and Analysis Program (BenMAP).
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Reliability-Only Dispatch: Protecting Lives & Human Health While Ensuring System Reliability
(October 2011) In this report, a prominent energy expert has outlined how and why EPA's Air Toxics and Mercury Standard (also known as Utility MACT) must be implemented by 2015 to maximize protections to public health and safety. In particular the report describes how any delay in rule implementation will prolong significant impacts to human health from uncontrolled coal-fired power plant operations. The report also describes why, in the unlikely event of an implementation extension for specific plants, the most health protective approach is to place operating limits on those plants. This approach would therefore limit permitted operations only to those essential to maintain electricity service and only for the period required to meet the federal standards.
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The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source
(September 2010) In this newly updated study, CATF examines the progress towards cleaning up one of the nation's leading sources of pollution. The report finds that over 13,000 deaths each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. power plants. This is almost half the impact that our 2004 study found and is reflective of the impact that state and federal actions have had in reducing power plant emissions by roughly half. However, much more still needs to be done.
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Perspectives on Monitoring of Saline and EOR Geologic Carbon Injection and Sequestration Sites
(September 2010) Geologic carbon sequestration offers both the potential to provide a permanent sink for industrial CO2 emissions, and added value to tertiary enhanced oil and gas recovery (EOR).
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The Carbon Capture and Storage Imperative: Recommendations to the Obama Administration’s Interagency Carbon Capture and Storage Task Force
(July 2010) This report summarizes CATF's recommendations to the Obama Administration's Interagency Carbon Capture and Storage Task Force. The report draws upon CATF's experience working with developers of CCS projects in the US and China, review of state and federal incentive programs, R & D needs, and coal fleet modeling in the US. The report offers 19 specific recommendations to build a CCS industry.
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Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool
(July 2010) In this study Abt Associates updates its previous analyses of the health impacts of power plant fine particle pollution. This work is summarized in CATF's Toll From Coal report and in our interactive Toll From Coal website. The Abt paper includes a detailed discussion of the methodology for estimating the impacts of fine particle pollution.
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Four Policy Principles for Energy Innovation & Climate Change: A Synthesis
(June 2010) There is now little doubt that reducing global carbon dioxide emissions to address climate change at a societally acceptable cost will require substantial innovation in energy systems and technologies over the coming decades. We do not appear to be on that innovation path, however.
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Using Reverse Auctions in a Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) Deployment Program
(May 2010) This paper reviews the concept of a reverse auction, how reverse auctions are currently used in the public and private sectors, how they can be applied to a CCS deployment program, and the benefits of using them in that manner.
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Health Impacts of Diesel, Based on Data from the National Scale Air Toxics Assessment (NATA)
(October 2009) Diesel particles cause widespread damage to human health. This report estimates the impact of onroad and offroad sources of diesel particles.
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Innovation Policy for Climate Change: A Report to the Nation
(September 2009) The results of this study offer a fundamentally new perspective on orienting government and the private sector toward near-term gains in the development of technologies to serve the public good of a decarbonized energy system.
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Coal Without Carbon: An Investment Plan for Federal Action
(September 2009) Expert reports on research, development, and demonstration for affordable carbon capture and sequestration.
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The Carbon Dioxide-Equivalent Benefits of Reducing Black Carbon Emissions from U.S. Class 8 Trucks Using Diesel Particulate Filters: A Preliminary Analysis
(July 2009, revised September 2009) Clean Air Task Force outlines a simple method to quantify the CO2-equivalent climate benefits of removing black carbon from the diesel exhaust emissions of tractor-trailer trucks using diesel particulate filters (DPFs).
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Agricultural Fires and Arctic Climate Change
(May 2009) Agricultural fires, intended to remove crop residues for new planting or clear brush for grazing, contribute a significant portion of the black carbon from biomass burning that reaches the Arctic in spring. Though generally smaller and shorter in duration than forest fires, these burns result in transport and deposition to the Arctic during the most vulnerable period for sea ice melt; moreover, lower burn temperatures smolder, emitting higher concentrations of the products of incomplete carbon combustion. Concentrations of black carbon from agricultural burning are highest in areas across Eurasia-from Eastern Europe, through southern and Siberian Russia, into Northeastern China, and in the northern part of North America's grain belt. Regulations on agricultural burning have a poor rate of enforcement in many countries. However, these fires present a clear target for mitigation.
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Leaping Before They Looked: Lessons from Europe's Experience with the 2003 Biofuels Directive
(October 2007) After a thorough review of the European Union's biofuels directive mandating use of biofuels in part to reduce greenhouse gases, this report finds that Congress should slow down and consider the potential adverse consequences before it rushes ahead with a plan to dramatically increase mandated use of biofuels. The report finds that the E.U. strategy backfired, leading to increased greenhouse gases, tropical deforestation, and biodiversity loss as well as increased competition for food, water, land, and other resources in developed and developing countries. It notes that while tropical deforestation is occurring at a staggering rate in many countries seeking to produce biofuels for the new and growing markets, the destruction of boggy peat lands in Southeast Asia now represents one of the leading sources of global warming emissions worldwide. The conversion from peat lands to palm oil plantations releases the equivalent of 8% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel use, making Indonesia the 3rd ranking emitter of CO2, behind only the U.S. and China. These unintended consequences - though not all unanticipated - highlight the need for updated, comprehensive tools to analyze the true net impacts of policies that increase biofuels use, the report concludes. The report notes that current life-cycle analyses do not account for greenhouse gas emissions and other global warming impacts that may be caused by changes in land use; food, fuel, and materials markets; and impacts and demand for natural resources such as water.
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Impacts of Water Quality from Placement of Coal Combustion Waste in Pennsylvania Coal Mines
(July 2007) After four years of exhaustive study, the Task Force is releasing this comprehensive examination of monitoring data from 15 coal surface coal mines in Pennsylvania that have received large volumes of coal ash. Despite persistent claims by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection that there is no evidence that coal ash has ever contaminated water in a coal mine in Pennsylvania, this Study finds plenty of evidence from monitoring data that ash is contaminating groundwaters and surface waters in ten of the fifteen mines with levels of lead, cadmium, arsenic, chromium, nickel, zinc, copper, and other pollutants exceeding drinking water standards and water quality standards often by many times. This contamination is posing a threat to humans and the environment and local organizations such as the Mahanoy Creek Watershed Association are already using the data in the study to call for EPA intervention under Superfund to address contamination at the largest minefill studied by the Task Force. The study catalogs basic and serious deficiencies in the permits for these minefills and recommends enforceable safeguards in regulations to isolate the ash, monitor it properly and cleanup the pollution it is causing.
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No Escape From Diesel Exhaust: How to Reduce Commuter Exposure
(February 2007) Every day, Americans are needlessly sickened from exposure to air pollution in the form of fine particles. Overall, health researchers estimate that fine particles, such as those found in diesel exhaust, shorten the lives of 70,000 Americans each year. Legions of published, peer-reviewed studies have documented the increased exposure and resultant health risk from particles in and around nearby roadways. When during our day are we exposed to these particles? According to the California Air Resources Board, although we spend only about six percent of our day commuting to and from work, it is during that time when we receive over half of our exposure. Using comparable instruments and research techniques as those employed by health researchers at major universities, Clean Air Task Force (CATF) investigated the exposure to diesel particles during typical commutes in four cities: Austin, Texas, Boston, Massachusetts, New York City, and Columbus, Ohio. In addition, CATF tested the air quality benefits due to emission control retrofits of transit buses in Boston and transit buses and garbage trucks in New York City. CATF's investigation demonstrated that whether you commute by car, bus, ferry, train, or on foot, you may be exposed to high levels of diesel particles.
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CATF Special Report 2007-1: A Multi-City Investigation of Exposure to Diesel Exhaust in Multiple Commuting Modes
(February 2007) CATF white paper providing the methodology behind the "No Escape" report including additional findings on commuter exposures in car, rail, bus, ferry, subway and pedestrian commutes.
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Water Quality Impacts from Remediating Acid Mine Drainage with Alkaline Addition
(October 2005) This paper documents increases in arsenic concentrations in acid mine drainage at mine sites where coal combustion waste was used as an alkaline agent. The paper was submitted to the National Academy of Science's Committee on Mine Placement of Coal Combustion Wastes in July 2005.
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A Preliminary Evaluation of the Potential for Surface Water Quality Impacts from Fly Ash Disposal at the Navajo Mine, New Mexico
(May 2005) This report examines the evidence of groundwater contamination from coal ash disposal in the Navajo Mine, adjacent to the Four Corners Power Plant on the Navajo Reservation in Farmington, New Mexico. This paper is one of several reports documenting the contamination of groundwater and surface water from coal combustion waste placed in mines.
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Water Quality Impacts of Coal Combustion Waste Disposal in Two West Virginia Coal Mines
(April 2005) This report documents very high selenium and thallium in surface waters, and high levels of selenium and arsenic in groundwaters downstream from the Stacks Run Refuse Site and Albright Site, respectively, two West Virginia coal combustion waste disposal areas in surface mines.
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Diesel and Health in America: The Lingering Threat
(February 2005) For the first time, using EPA's methodology, Abt Associates for the Clean Air Task Force, estimates that diesels are responsible for heart attacks, cancer and over 20,000 premature deaths. Between now and 2030, 100,000 premature deaths could be avoided by an aggressive but feasible national program to clean up today's dirty diesels.
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CATF School Bus Particulate Matter Study
(January 2005) A Multi-City Investigation of the Effectiveness of Retrofit Emissions Controls in Reducing Exposures to Particulate Matter in School Buses.
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Dirty Air, Dirty Power: Mortality and Health Damage Due to Air Pollution from Power Plants
(June 2004) Update of mortality and health damage due to power plant particle pollution. Comparison of leading clean up proposals.
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Power Plant Emissions: Particulate Matter-Related Health Damages and the Benefits of Alternative Emission Reduction Scenarios
(June 2004) This report estimates the avoidable health effects of each of a series of alternative regulatory scenarios for power plants, focusing on the adverse human health effects due to exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5, which are particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter).
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Not in My Lifetime: The Fight for Clean Water in Town of Pines, Indiana
(April 2004) The story of the Town of Pines teaches us the lesson of failed environmental policies at both the state and federal level. It is a story meant to inspire action, not just in Town of Pines, but nationally, to ensure responsible and environmentally safe disposal practices, particularly for toxic coal combustion wastes.
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Wounded Waters: The Hidden Side of Power Plant Pollution
(February 2004) Power plants - well known for their impact on air quality - are also major water users. On a national scale, the environmental damage from water intake and discharge for power production is large, warranting serious attention from citizens and government alike.
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Minefill Practices for Power Plant Waste: An Initial Review and Assessment of the Pennsylvania System
(May 2003, revised August 2003) A review and assessment of minefill practices - successes and failures - in Pennsylvania.
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Mercury and Midwest Power Plants
(February 2003) Residents in the Midwest share a rich tradition of outdoor recreation. We also share a common threat to these traditions - mercury from coal-fired power plants.
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Nitrogen Oxide Emissions and Midwest Power Plants
(January 2003)
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Air of Injustice: African Americans and Power Plant Pollution
(October 2002) Presented in conjunction with the Black Leadership Forum, the Southern Organizing Committee for Economic and Social Justice and the Georgia Coalition for The Peoples' Agenda shows that African Americans are disproportionately affected by power plant pollution.
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A Preliminary Analysis of the Benefits and Costs of Current New Source Review Litigation
(June 2002) Follow up to Power to Kill report (2001) describing how the benefits of NSR enforcement outweigh the annual costs of pollution controls.
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Children at Risk: How Air Pollution from Power Plants Threatens the Health of America's Children
(May 2002)
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Health Impacts of Air Pollution from Washington DC Area Power Plants
(May 2002)
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The Last Straw: Water Use by Power Plants in the Arid West
(April 2002) While power plants can have a significant impact on water quality and quantity, there are practical opportunities to significantly reduce both types of impacts.
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Climate Change and Midwest Power Plants
(February 2002)
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Scraping the "Bottom of the Barrel" for Power: Why there is No Need to Relax Clean Air Safeguards on Dirty Power Plants to "Keep the Lights On"
(November 2001) A Rebuttal to the National Coal Council's Electricity Availability Report.
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Unfinished Business: Why the Acid Rain Problem is not Solved
(October 2001)
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Sulfur Emissions and Midwest Power Plants
(August 2001)
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Power to Kill: Death and Disease from Power Plants Charged with Violating the Clean Air Act
(July 2001)
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Cradle to Grave: The Environmental Impacts from Coal
(June 2001)
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Out of Sight: Haze in our National Parks
(September 2000)
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Casting Doubt: Mercury, Power Plants and the Fish We Eat
(August 2000)
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Out of Sight: The Science and Economics of Visibility Impairment
(August 2000) Technical document behind September 2000 Out of Sight advocacy report by Clean Air Task Force and Clear the Air estimating benefits of eliminating power plant-related haze in our national parks and wilderness.
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Laid to Waste: The Dirty Secret of Combustion Waste from America's Power Plants
(March 2000)
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Out of Breath: Health Effects from Ozone in the Eastern United States
(October 1999)
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No Escape: Can You Really Ever "Get Away" from the Smog? A Midsummer Look at Ozone Smog in 1999