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The Mountain Valley Pipeline, a controversial natural gas pipeline, has received the required permits and authorisations following the passage of the Fiscal Responsibility Act. The pipeline is projected to cover 303 miles (488km) from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia. 

The Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) received the federal government’s backing after the US Congress voted for a debt-ceiling deal that covered fast-tracking approvals for the pipeline. 

Although the pipeline – which will cost an estimated US$6.6 billion – has been denied multiple permits by courts due to concerns about water quality and environmental justice, the new bill requires the US Army Corps of Engineers to issue all remaining permits within 21 days and prohibits all judicial view of the permits. 

The development of the MVP has divided politicians hailing from the two states most heavily impacted by the project. Whereas West Virginia’s congressional delegation has strongly supported the pipeline, Virginia’s senators have opposed it. 

mountain valley pipeline

The Mountain Valley Pipeline, cutting across the fabled Appalachian Trail, would deliver natural gas from northern West Virginia to southern Virginia, connecting with another interstate pipeline that extends from Texas to New York. Image: Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).

Senator Tim Kaine, who proposed an ultimately unsuccessful amendment to remove the pipeline provision from the overarching bill, expressed concern over the ability to review the pipeline. Following the bill’s passage, all challenges will be heard in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which is more favourable to the pipeline, instead of the US 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, where most legal challenges have been heard. 

“My Virginians just want to be sure that if this pipeline is built, it has met the requisite standards of review agencies, both state and federal, and it has withstood any court challenges,” said Kaine. 

“Most people would be embarrassed to ask for that. ‘I lost, I’m unhappy, why don’t I get Congress to rewrite the rules of federal jurisdiction and take this case away from the court that’s maybe unhappy and put it in another court.’”

As part of its defence of the MVP, the White House has claimed that the pipeline is necessary for the country’s energy security. On the other hand, environmental groups have criticised the approval of the pipeline, arguing that it is largely unrelated to the debt ceiling. 

“Singling out the Mountain Valley Pipeline for the approval in a vote about our nation’s credit limit is an egregious act,” Peter Anderson, Virginia policy director of environmental organisation Appalachian Voices, said in a statement. 

“By attempting to suspend the rules for a pipeline company that has repeatedly polluted communities’ water and flouted the conditions in its permits, the president and Congress would deny basic legal protections, procedural fairness and environmental justice to communities along the pipeline’s path.”

Critics have also noted the significant environmental costs inflicted by the pipeline, challenging claims that the pipeline “will reduce carbon emissions and facilitate the energy transition”. 

Analysis by environmental group Oil Change International revealed that the MVP would emit more than 89 million metric tons of carbon, equal to the emissions of 26 coal plants. 

Other groups have raised environmental justice concerns about the MVP. Local landowners have claimed that the pipeline’s route infringes on the environmental justice rights of low-income and minority communities in both states. Residents of rural areas covered by the pipeline would also lack the resources to deal with severe malfunctions, such as an explosion. 

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Leading animal welfare and conservation non-profit Born Free USA has recently launched Thrill Kill: Recreational Animal Slaughter in the US, a shocking new investigation into the dark and disturbing world of animal “thrill killing.”

The report Thrill Kill: Recreational Animal Slaughter in the US released on May 23, 2023, covers a series of troubling practices including killing contests, where hunters compete for huge cash prizes by killing as many animals as possible; trophy hunting, where individuals pay thousands of dollars to kill caged, critically endangered African wildlife on Texas ranches; rattlesnake roundups, where snakes are tormented, killed, and skinned in front of paying audiences; and helicopter hunting, where hunters use fully automatic weapons and crossbows to mass kill feral pigs and coyotes.

Showing a complete disregard for sentient lives, thousands of animals are killed by sport hunters in these ways each year. Texas’ laissez-faire regulations enable these egregious forms of hunting, making it the epicenter of thrill killing in the United States. The report focuses on the Lone Star State as a case study and reminds readers that many of these practices occur across the nation.

The investigation uncovered:

Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup. Photo: Born Free USA

Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup. Photo: Born Free USA.

“This new investigation lays bare the abject and deliberate cruelty inherent in these pastimes and the joy taken in torturing and killing living beings,” said Born Free USA CEO Angela Grimes. “The animal suffering that we uncovered is on a scale that is difficult to comprehend and impossible to condone. This is not about population management or predator control, this is killing for the fun of it, plain and simple, and it must be stopped.”

As a result of the investigation’s findings, Born Free USA is calling for multiple reforms including statewide bans on killing contests across the country; a reconfiguring of rattlesnake roundups to promote kindness and respect for animals; removal of legal loopholes allowing helicopter hunting “experiences” to be sold to inexperienced hunters; and a re-listing on the Endangered Species Act of species most impacting by US-based trophy hunting.

You can read the full report here.

Featured image: Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup. Photo: Born Free USA.

More by Born Free USA: Animal Captivity Is A Dangerous Distraction from Real Conservation Efforts

On Monday, the US states of Arizona, Nevada, and California signed a landmark deal that entails cutting water consumption by 3 million acre-feet in order to prevent water shortages amongst states that border the Colorado River. 

From now until 2026, the states bordering the Colorado River – Arizona, Nevada, and California – will collectively have to cut their water use by more than 3 million acre-feet (approx. 370046 hectare-meter) as a part of a landmark deal reached on Monday.

In the context of the deal, the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will help cities and irrigation districts in the three “Lower Basin” states roughly US$1.2 billion in exchange for using less water. 

But this is merely a short-term fix. Many farmers consider the restrictions an insult to their industry because the agreement does not address long-term water sustainability concerns in the area. Government officials of the three aforesaid states must pay farmers more per acre-foot of water than they would have earned from selling crops on a specific field in order to persuade them to plant fewer crops. This stems from the fact that the deal is actively urging farmers to produce drought-resistant crops,effectively reducing the total number of crops they can grow and thereby also reducing potential profits. 

Farmers in California’s Imperial Valley have resisted accepting money to leave their fields unplanted, especially since vegetable prices have remained as high as they already were due to overall inflation in the American economy. Irrigation officials have compensated growers to invest in technologies aimed at making their farms more efficient – such as precision irrigation, drought-resistant crops, and soil moisture sensors. 

The Imperial Valley programme is one of the two main initiatives undertaken by the federal government. It focuses on improving water efficiency and reducing demands for water supply by the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) – a public agency that provides water and energy supply services to California Imperial Valley and one of the biggest consumers of Colorado River water. Aside from the IID, the other main consumers of Colorado River water are the states of California and Arizona. 

A second programme, which focuses on water management in parts of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, is the Upper Basin pilot programme. Both programmes get considerable reimbursement from the Biden administration for their conservation efforts.

The federal government gave the river states an ultimatum last summer, forcing them to reduce their water usage by between 2 and 4 million acre-feet, or as much as one-third of the river’s typical annual flow, by coming up with a plan by 2023. This sparked the competition among the 7 bordering states of the Colorado River –Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. If these states fail to agree on their own, the administration threatened to impose unilateral water cuts

Although California and Arizona, combined, were blamed by the Upper Basin states of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico for taking up a majority of the Colorado River water. However, Californian representatives urged that Arizona take accountability for the excessive water usage.

At the root of this impending doom of a water crisis in the region is the mega-drought that has affected the Western US for nearly two decades. Rising temperatures caused Lake Mead (located in southeastern Nevada and partially in northwestern Arizona) and Lake Powell (northern Arizona and partially in southern Utah) to reach their lowest levels ever in 2022. These record lows prompted the first-ever Tier 1 Water Shortage declaration for the reservoir, which has been in effect since early 2022. 

To lessen the risks of worsening water insecurity in Colorado, in 2015, then-governor John Hickenlooper signed the state’s first water plan. It includes goals such as reaching 400,000 acre-feet (approx. 45,000 hectare-meters) of local and industrial water conservation by 2050 and having 75% of Coloradans incorporate water-saving land-use planning by 2025. While this plan was temporarily efficient, the territory still lacks a long-term plan.

Water levels at Lake Powell and Lake Mead are projected to stabilise this summer thanks to the melting of the Rocky Mountains’ snowpack, making it slightly easier for states to implement the deal. Nonetheless, a $4 billion tranche for the facilitation of drought response was negotiated by Arizona’s Senator Kyrsten Sinema in order to finalise the agreement for the next three years. 

What will happen when the conservation agreement ends at the end of 2026 as states and tribes come together to discuss the river’s long-term future remains the biggest concern at this point. For now, issues such as who should use less water and how the government may compensate tribal groups who still lack access to water remain unresolved. 

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The new EPA rules come almost a year after the Supreme Court struck down an earlier effort to cut emissions from power plants.

The Biden administration on Thursday unveiled a proposal to limit greenhouse gas emissions from coal and gas-fired plants, marking the first time the US government has directly regulated carbon dioxide emissions from existing plants.

The proposal, more than 18 months in the making, would impose a set of emissions limits on both existing and new plants that vary according to the type of plant, how it is used, and when it is scheduled to shut down. In order to meet the new standards, power companies would need to install carbon capture and sequestration technologies, shift to low-emission hydrogen as a fuel, or to renewable sources such as wind and solar.

Experts and environmental advocates welcomed the proposal, arguing that limiting emissions from power plants is a crucial move to curb global warming. The US is the world’s second-largest GHG emitter after China. Its power industry alone is responsible for about one-quarter of the country’s greenhouse gases, which mainly come from the combustion of coal and natural gas. 

Speaking to students at the University of Maryland on Thursday, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michal Regan said the new rules “will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel power plants, protecting health and protecting our planet.” 

US director of the World Resources Institute Dan Lashof said the announcement marks “a day for the history books, as the United States locks into the path toward a prosperous, clean and equitable future,” adding that “the era of unlimited carbon pollution is over.”

According to EPA predictions, the power industry will spend over US$10 billion to comply with the new rules, though subsidies available in the Inflation Reduction Act, the largest climate law in the country’s history, will help. The EPA also expects around $85 billion in health and climate benefits and 1,300 fewer premature deaths in 2030 alone, partly owing to an expected reduction in diseases associated with the spread of pollutants like particulate matter. 

According to the Agency, the move would help avoid about 617 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions between 2028 and 2042, the equivalent of removing 137 million passenger vehicles from the road. This, however, is still less than half the 1.5 billion tonnes emitted by the electric power sector in 2022 alone.

The proposal comes less than a year after the US Supreme Court curbed the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate carbon emissions from existing coal- and gas-fired power plants under the landmark Clean Air Act anti-pollution law, arguing the Agency had overstepped its authority. The West Virginia v. EPA case was brought by coal companies and Republican-led states who claimed the Agency did not have the authority to regulate carbon emissions.

Thursday’s proposal reflects constraints imposed on the EPA by the Supreme Court last July, which US President Joe Biden condemned as a “devastating decision that aims to take our country backwards.” Despite losing its ability to impose a system-wide shift from planet-warming fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy sources, the EPA can still regulate plants by setting technology-based standards applied on-site. Regan said the new rules followed the “traditional approach” and would not trigger the same legal issues.

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Nine workers were sent to a hospital after a fire erupted at a chemical plant in the Houston area last Friday. Texas officials and Shell reassured that the huge plume of smoke, visible for miles, does not pose serious health risks. 

The three-day fire at Shell’s Deer Park chemical plant in Texas, which began shortly before 3 p.m. on Friday and prompted the evacuation of all employees, poses minimal health risks, state officials and Shell reassured.

The blaze, reignited over the weekend after being previously extinguished, igniting toxic fuels that sent black plumes of smoke over the Houston area. The smoke was visible for miles and even from space, according to Houston meteorologists. 

Nine contractors were sent to the hospital over the weekend with minor injuries due to exposure to chemicals burned in the fire but have since been resealed.

In a statement on social media on Monday, Shell Deer Park Chemicals said the re-ignited fire had been successfully extinguished and wastewater discharge was no longer being directed to the Houston Ship Channel – where it was initially discharged at a rate of 11,000 gallons a minute – but was instead added to nearby retention ponds, as it was still used to cool equipment. 

The company also reassured worried residents that the fire did not pose any health risks. 

“Air monitoring is ongoing and has not detected any harmful levels of chemicals affecting neighboring communities. There is no danger to the nearby community, but residents may continue to see intermittent flaring from the facility.”

Texas officials, including the state environmental regulator, joined Shell in stating that neither air nor water pollution levels were a concern. ​​Kelly Cook, a deputy director at the Texas Council on Environmental Quality, said that “detections [on air emissions] were very low and certainly well below any levels of concern.”

Despite the reassurance, advocates and residents remain worried. 

According to Bloomberg, the blaze originated in a section of the plant where several chemicals used to make plastics and other products like detergent and rubber are produced, leading to the ignition of cracked heavy and light gasoil as well as gasoline, all fuels associated with respiratory issues, cancer, foetal abnormalities, and toxic to aquatic animals. 

The cause of the fire at the petrochemical plant will be the “subject of a future investigation,” Shell said on Saturday, adding that the priority was to continue with the response and ensure that the fire did not reignite.

Featured image: Roy Luck/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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The Biden administration is expected to move forward with an EPA proposal to impose limits on emissions from coal- and gas-powered power plants and install carbon capture technologies. This comes days after Biden announced a $1 billion contribution to the UN-led Green Climate Fund and $500 billion to halt deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon.

In a virtual meeting with big economies last Thursday, US President Joe Biden announced plans to increase funding to support climate resilience and clean energy projects in developing countries and curb deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest.

Speaking at the meeting of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, attended by countries that together account for about 80% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and global gross domestic product, Biden urged his counterparts to set more ambitious emission reduction goals to meet the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C.

“Together … we can keep the goal of limiting warming to just no more than 1.5 degrees.  It’s within our reach if we make progress on the four key things that we have to discuss today: decarbonization, decarbonizing energy; ending deforestation; reducing non-carbon greenhouse gas emissions; and improving carbon management,” Biden said in his speech, during which he announced $1 billion in funds to the UN Green Climate Fund (GCF).

Established by 194 governments in 2010, the GFC aims to limit greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries and support vulnerable societies in climate change adaptation and mitigation practices.

Biden also promised $500 million over five years to fund projects aimed at tackling deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, which, however, would require approval from the US Congress, a big challenge, considered Republicans’ previous attempts to block Biden’s plans to boost the country’s international climate funding.

Despite President Lula’s efforts to protect forest land and end illegal logging in the country, deforestation in the Amazon – the world’s largest rainforest and one of the biggest carbon sinks – is still rampant, amounting to 1.5 million hectares each year, the equivalent of about 40% of the global tropical deforestation.

The White House is also in the final stages of reviewing a proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to impose emissions limits on new and existing gas and coal power plants, the country’s second-biggest source of emissions today. The best way for existing plants to meet the new pollution requirements would be to add carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology or substitute cleaner hydrogen for natural gas as a combustion source.

This is the EPA’s second attempt to crack down on carbon dioxide generated from power plants after the Supreme Court curbed the Agency’s ability to regulate emissions of power plants’ planet-warming pollution under the landmark Clean Air Act last July, claiming it had overstepped its authority.

The EPA is expected to unveil details of the draft proposal as soon as this week.

Featured image: Wikimedia Commons

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A recent study determined that the seagrass meadows in an inlet of the Gulf of Maine had declined by more than half during a four-year period from 2018-2022. Seagrass is one of the most productive ecosystems in the world, forming the backbone of coastal ecosystems. Their decline, a serious consequence of anthropogenic global warming, represents a worldwide problem.

What Is Happening?

A recent study conducted for Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection found that the eelgrass meadows, a common species of seagrass that can form expansive, underwater meadows, declined by more than half during a four-year period. From 2018-2022, coverage in Casco Bay, an inlet of the Gulf of Maine along the southern coast of Maine, dropped from 5,012 to 2,286 acres.

 “We were aware of the decline in eelgrass, but we thought we had some time to think about this. But we lost 54% of eelgrass in the last four years. The time to act was yesterday,” said Ivy Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper for the environmental group Friends of Casco Bay.

The decline is not limited to the bay. The trend is particularly worrisome along the eastern shores of North America, especially in the Gulf of Maine where water temperatures are increasing at a disturbing rate. Last year was the second-warmest on record for the Gulf of Maine, almost four degrees above the long-term average. According to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, the average annual sea surface temperature was 53.66F (12C). In fact, the Gulf is warming faster than any other body of water on the planet except for an area northeast of Japan. 

While many people are aware of global warming, not many know about what is happening to seagrass, why these consequences are of concern, or even what seagrass is. 

What Is Seagrass?

Seagrass, also known as eelgrass, is the only flowering perennial that grows in marine environments. Seaweeds, unlike seagrasses, are algae and not flowering plants. Seaweeds grow in soft substrates like mud and sand. They are found in both areas that are exposed at low tide and those that are 23 feet (7 meters) in depth. 

There are 72 species of seagrass with Zostera marina being the most commonly found species in the Northern Hemisphere. Seagrasses can form dense underwater meadows, some of which are large enough to be seen from space

Eelgrass originated in the Pacific Ocean between ten to five million years ago and “spread to the Atlantic Ocean starting around 3.5 million years ago before the most recent ice age hit and ice sheets separated the two oceans.” 

Scientists have studied the similarities and differences between eelgrass living in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Eelgrass ecosystems in the latter are characterised by sparsely populated meadows with meter-high plants. In the Atlantic, seagrass meadows are denser with shorter grasses. The most striking difference is that the “eelgrass ecosystems in the Atlantic have far less genetic diversity than in the Pacific…Atlantic eelgrass’s lack of genetic diversity might be bad news for its ability to survive climate change.”  Emmett Duffy, an ecologist at the Smithsonian Institution, and an international team of scientists suspect that over time, Atlantic eelgrass might eventually evolve to have a comparative level of diversity to that in the Pacific. However, the pressures of climate change are occurring far faster than is required for evolutionary adaptation.. 

The different species of seagrass come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some look like traditional grass blades, some like tree leaves, while others are long and narrow. Seagrasses can be found in the shallow seas along the continental shelf of all continents except Antarctica. The key factor for seagrass growth is the availability of light. Indeed, seagrasses need sunlight for photosynthesis, a chemical process where sunlight is transformed into food energy. 

Why is Seagrass Important?

Seagrass is one of the most productive ecosystems in the world and plays a number of vitally important roles. The US designated them as “Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) and a Habitat of Particular Concern” under the 1996 Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

For a start, eelgrass is the foundation of a highly productive marine food web. Their degradation results in increased coastal erosion, wave action, and ocean acidification as well as declines in commercially important fish and shellfish species, water quality, and carbon storage contributing to further effects of global warming. They act as an effective carbon sink and serve as feeding grounds and nurseries for a host of vertebrate and invertebrate animals. 

Eelgrass meadows “protect the coast, store carbon, and support a host of organisms, from economically important herring, sea bass, and lobsters to vulnerable species such as sea turtles and dugongs.”

While smaller organisms such as algae and tiny invertebrates can be found living on blades of seagrass. 

Seagrass meadows are being lost at a rate of around 7% annually, equivalent to two football fields every hour. This loss is attributed to many variables, including climate change, coastal development, pollution, overfishing, and other anthropogenic factors. However, “poor water quality (particularly high levels of nutrients) caused by pollution is the biggest threat to seagrasses around the world.”

Issues of water quality problems are particularly serious in rapidly growing countries. This is exacerbated when there are few laws that regulate pollution or encourage seagrass protection. 

Warming waters also impact seagrasses. They lead to algae blooms that cloud the water, making it difficult for seagrass to get sufficient sunlight required for photosynthesis. Other impacts of warming water temperature are that they favour the development of invasive green crabs. The young crab eats the seagrass and the adults pull it up by the roots, hunting for soft-shell clams.

In the Gulf of Maine in 2021, the largest puffin colony had only a 6% of puffin hatchlings survival rate compared to the typical survival rate of 75%. The young birds starved due to the lack of availability of fish. 

What Can We Do?

Across the globe, people are working to understand the problem of declining seagrass meadows and find ways to assist in its restoration. Nicole Kollars, an ecologist at Northeastern University in Massachusetts, suggests “moving seeds and plants around to increase gene flow or by using eelgrass nurseries to support restoration efforts.” 

Attempts to rebuild and restore seagrass beds have been undertaken “by planting seeds or seedlings grown in aquaria, or transplanting adult seagrasses from other healthy meadows.” Successful restoration has occurred in the Chesapeake Bay and coastal areas of Virginia. Through 2014, the Institute of Marine Science seeded more than 450 acres with nearly eight million seagrass seeds. In Tampa Bay, Florida, seagrass restoration has resulted in improvements to water quality and fish communities.

In Maine, Glenn Page, an interdisciplinary conservation scientist/practitioner with nearly three decades of experience building coastal and marine ecosystem stewardship, is taking a broader approach. He launched a bioregional movement.  His Team Zostera is hosting a meeting in July in Portland, Maine to think about regional ways to address the multiple challenges that are impacting seagrass meadows. Page believes that “seagrass meadows are the ‘canaries in our coal mine’ and have a big story to tell if we are able to listen.”

Whether the focus of restoration is on local seagrass beds or more broadly encompasses a  region, the bottom line is that seagrass populations across the globe are in trouble. Individuals can exert their own agency. Avoid littering and dumping hazardous materials down the drain. Limit the use of fertiliser and pesticides. When boating, avoid shallow areas, reduce wake near land, and avoid dragging an anchor in seagrass. 

You might also like: ​​Changing Tides: How Does Ocean Acidification Affect Marine Life?

This year’s most sustainable companies according to Corporate Knights has been released in January. The  annual ranking, now in its 19th year, is based on an assessment of more than 6,000 public companies that report more than US$1 billion in revenues. In the 2023 list, one-fifth of the most sustainable corporations are based in the US and 11% in Canada. Europe still leads the way with 44%, while 22% are located in the Asia Pacific region. 

50 of the World’s Most Sustainable Companies in 2023

  1. Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc (US) – A+
  2. Vestas Wind Systems A/S (Denmark) – A
  3. Brambles Ltd (Australia) – A
  4. Brookfield Renewable Partners LP (Bermuda) – A
  5. Autodesk Inc (US) – A
  6. Evoqua Water Technologies Corp (US) – A
  7. Stantec Inc (Canada) – A-
  8. Schneider Electric SE (France) – A-
  9. Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy SA (Spain) – A-
  10. Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (Taiwan) – A-
  11. Dassault Systemes SE (France) – A-
  12. Xinyi Solar Holdings Ltd (China) – A-
  13. Orsted A/S (Denmark) – A-
  14. Sims Ltd (Australia) – A-
  15. Banco do Brasil SA (Brazil) – A-
  16. Rockwool A/S (Denmark) – A-
  17. Johnson Controls International PLC (Ireland) – A-
  18. Chr Hansen Holding A/S (Denmark) – B+
  19. Kone Oyj (Finland) – B+
  20. Cascades Inc (Canada) – B+
  21. Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure PLC (UK) – B+
  22. McCormick & Company Inc (US) – B+
  23. Novozymes A/S (Denmark) – B+
  24. Iberdrola SA (Spain) – B+
  25. BT Group PLC (UK) – B+
  26. Alphabet Inc (US) – B+
  27. Vitasoy International Holdings Ltd (Hong Kong) – B+
  28. City Developments Ltd (Singapore) – B+
  29. Neste Oyj (Finland) – B+
  30. Ecolab Inc (US) – B+
  31. Kering SA (France) – B
  32. Beijing Enterprises Water Group Ltd (Hong Kong) – B
  33. ASM International NV (Netherlands) – B
  34. StarHub Ltd (Singapore) – B
  35. SunPower Corp (US) – B
  36. Xerox Holdings Corp (US) – B
  37. Telus Corp (Canada) – B
  38. Unilever PLC (UK) – B
  39. HP Inc (US) – B
  40. VMware Inc (US) – B
  41. SAP SE (Germany) – B
  42. BCE Inc (Canada) – B
  43. Coloplast A/S (Denmark) – B
  44. Koninklijke KPN NV (Netherlands) – B
  45. Cogeco Communications Inc (Canada) – B
  46. First Solar Inc (US) – B-
  47. Puma SE (Germany) – B-
  48. Cisco Systems Inc (US) – B-
  49. Atea ASA (Norway) – B-
  50. Konica Minolta Inc (Japan) – B-

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More energy companies than ever are investing in new technologies and techniques to fight climate change and source energy responsibly. These sustainable energy companies are blazing new trails and leading by example.

Many energy companies have recognised the necessity of, and increased demand for, sustainable energy. By transitioning to greener technologies in solar, wind, biofuel, geothermal, and hydroelectric, the following four energy companies have successfully started leading society toward energy independence.

4 Most Sustainable Energy Companies

1. Element Solar

Element Solar installs residential, commercial and utility solar panels. Offering a personalised experience using AI technology, customers can decide where they send their power while reducing costs from their electric utility bills.

Although AI technology in solar panel systems is not operable at night, daytime sun absorption and solar batteries can provide enough energy to power a household until morning.

This type of solar technology has started to become far more commonplace in recent years. For example, the US has seen an impressive uptick in solar panel installations, with over US$25 billion in private industry investments in 2020 alone. The increased interest in solar power has reduced the costs of installing solar panels by 70% over the past 10 years.

In addition to offering a fully customised solar experience, Element Solar is paving the way for solutions-based renewable energy research and sustainable education with their parent corporation, Element Renewables Group (ERG).

ERG is broken down into three different subsidiaries with individual sustainability missions:

What’s more, Element Solar donates 250 watts of clean energy for every solar panel system installed in developing countries. Other projects include mass tree planting of over 30,000 hectares and building a hybrid renewable energy system to provide power to 570 homes in the Philippines.

2. Ørsted

Based in Denmark, Ørsted has been named the world’s most sustainable energy company for three consecutive years. Ørsted’s investments in offshore wind farms and bioenergy and thermal heat power plants have made it the largest renewable energy development company with a target of going carbon neutral by 2025.

To reach its goal of carbon neutrality, Ørsted intends to implement the following strategies:

After nearly three decades in the business, Ørsted has earned its top ranking as a renewable energy trailblazer while helping to transform the energy market and spark interest in large-scale green technologies.

In 2021, Ørsted installed its 1,000th offshore wind turbine in the United Kingdom. The company has also helped reduce the costs of wind turbines by 63% in Europe since 2012.

Even though wind power is growing in popularity as a renewable energy source, lower-than-average wind speeds, cost inflation and supply chain issues have caused widespread problems for companies that produce wind turbine technologies.

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3. Iberdrola

Headquartered in Bilbao, Spain, Iberdrola’s combined energy generation makes it one of the world’s largest electric utility companies and suppliers of wind power.

The company is involved in the manufacturing, distribution, trading and marketing of electricity and operates out of Spain, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Brazil. Currently, Iberdrola delivers electricity and natural gas to over 2 million customers in New York and Maine.

In the Renewable Energy Companies and Human Rights report published by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) in 2021, Iberdrola scored above its energy competitors in identifying and preventing impacts on human rights.

More recently, Iberdrola expanded its solar energy portfolio by signing onto 17 solar projects — equivalent to 800 megawatts of capacity — in the United Kingdom. By 2025, the project aims to power 220,000 households, enabling Iberdrola to achieve its carbon neutrality goals in Europe by 2030.

sustainable energy companies, next energy inc

4. NextEra Energy, Inc.

NextEra Energy is a US-based utility company and the largest wind and solar power supplier. Although still a producer of oil, natural gas and nuclear power plants, it has helped reduce US reliance on foreign oil by 98% since 2001.

NextEra Energy subsidiaries include Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), Gulf Power Company and NextEra Energy Resources, LLC.

In its 2021 Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) report, the company highlighted the following sustainability and renewable energy initiatives:

Building a Sustainable Future

As global drivers in creating more significant renewable energy, these four sustainable energy corporations have laid the blueprint for other companies to follow suit in 2022. Some of the strategies include:

Renewable Energy Is Good for Business

Energy companies are working hard to stay ahead of emissions-reducing regulations, find sustainable solutions for energy resilience and improve the environment. With more sustainable energy projects on the horizon, reduced costs will lead to even more investment opportunities and a brighter tomorrow for the energy sector.

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The EPA proposed emissions limits so tough they will compel automakers to ensure that two out of every three cars sold in the US by 2032 are all-electric.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday proposed new, stringent tailpipe emissions limits that would require as much as 67% of all new cars and light trucks sold in the US by 2032 to be all-electric, a nearly tenfold increase over current sales.

The proposed regulation, the country’s most aggressive pollution standard to date, would surpass the limit previously set by President Joe Biden to have electric vehicles (EVs) make up about half of all cars sold by 2030.

Instead of directly requiring that 67% of new vehicles be zero-emissions by 2032, the new regulation sets standards for emissions based on the size and type of vehicle being built. However, the requirements are so stringent that they will likely push companies to produce at least two out of all three zero-emission vehicles to meet them.

The move, which EPA administrator Michael Regan called “the most ambitious pollution standards ever for cars and trucks,” aims at significantly boosting EVs share of new vehicles. The Agency would also impose strict penalties on companies that do not transition to electric cars quickly enough.

EV sales in the US increased in recent years, making the US the world’s third-largest EV market behind only China and Europe. And yet, they still account for a small portion of all new vehicle sales. Indeed, of the 13.8 million vehicles sold last year, only 5.8% were electric. 

The proposed rule would limit tailpipe emissions across all vehicle models built starting in 2027 through to 2032, forcing automakers to manufacture a larger number of battery-powered vehicles, and would also curb air pollution. If the new rules are enacted, the US could eliminate the equivalent of carbon dioxide emissions generated over two years by all sectors of its economy, moving one step closer to achieving its pledge to lower emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by 2050. 

The transportation sector is by far the country’s largest source of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, the majority of which – nearly 60% – come from the 250 million passenger cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks.

“If you’re serious about dealing with climate change problems, then you need to address the transportation sector,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

So far, seven US states, including California and New York, have passed legislation to ban sales of fossil fuel-powered vehicles by 2035. New York’s transportation emissions per capita are about 27% below the national average, the second-lowest of any other US state. Despite ranking quite favourably at the national level, in 2020, the two states together still accounted for 18% of the 103.8 million registered passenger vehicles in the US. 

The new emissions limits present a series of challenges for automakers, who are already investing billions in factories and battery technology to support the transition to electric vehicles. Scaling up the EV market would indeed require a more widespread and reliable charging infrastructure as well as the expansion of domestic critical mineral supply chains.

“The question isn’t can this be done, it’s how fast can it be done, and how fast will depend almost exclusively on having the right policies and market conditions in place to achieve the shared goal of a net zero carbon automotive future,” said John Bonzella, CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade association representing major automakers.

Another challenge would be to make electric vehicles more affordable, which are still more expensive than fossil fuel-powered ones. Under last year’s Inflation Reduction Act, the biggest climate bill in the country’s history, car buyers are eligible for tax credits of up to US$7,500. In February, the Treasury Department announced it was expanding the definition of SUVs, a decision that effectively allows more such vehicles to qualify for the consumer tax credit.

Featured image by Dusan Ilic, US Customs and Border Protection via Flickr.

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