(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.
(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.
(July 2012) 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.
(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.
(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.
(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
(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.
(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).
(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.
(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).
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(October 2009) Diesel particles cause widespread damage to human health. This report estimates the impact of onroad and offroad sources of diesel particles.
(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.
(September 2009) Expert reports on research, development, and demonstration for affordable carbon capture and sequestration.
(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).
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(January 2005) A Multi-City Investigation of the Effectiveness of Retrofit Emissions Controls in Reducing Exposures to Particulate Matter in School Buses.
(June 2004) Update of mortality and health damage due to power plant particle pollution. Comparison of leading clean up proposals.
(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).
(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.
(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.
(May 2003, revised August 2003) A review and assessment of minefill practices - successes and failures - in Pennsylvania.
(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.
(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.
(June 2002) Follow up to Power to Kill report (2001) describing how the benefits of NSR enforcement outweigh the annual costs of pollution controls.
(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.
(November 2001) A Rebuttal to the National Coal Council's Electricity Availability Report.
(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.