The Path Forward

Our plan to protect and defend a healthy planet

Americans support strong environmental protections. We want clean air, clean water, clean energy, and action on climate. We want good jobs and a growing economy. We want an opportunity agenda that leverages innovation and puts people to work building out a clean energy infrastructure for the 21st century.

In the face of new political challenges, we are charting our Path Forward—a bold, forward-looking plan of action with key strategic objectives to guide our work.

We urge all Americans who care about unleashing clean energy innovation and a safer climate future to join us to protect and defend a healthy planet.

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Step 1: Hold EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt accountable

New EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt built his political career representing the interests of the fossil fuel industry, which poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into his campaign coffers.

As Oklahoma Attorney General, Pruitt sued 14 times to block bedrock EPA clean air and water safeguards, including protections against toxic mercury pollution and dangerous smog emissions—as well as common-sense climate pollution limits for America's power plants. He zeroed out his office's environmental enforcement unit. And during his confirmation process, he declined to identify a single clean air safeguard he supports.

This is a man whose radical anti-environmental views make him the point person for fulfilling President Trump's campaign promise to dismantle EPA, putting the health of communities and families at risk. Our first priority is to hold Pruitt accountable and to defend the EPA—America's most important environmental enforcement agency. It's called the Environmental Protection Agency, not the POLLUTER Protection Agency.

Please take action: Tell Administrator Pruitt you expect him to protect the American people and support strong clean air, clean water, and climate pollution limits.

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Step 2: Defend our core clean air, clean water, and climate protections

America's clean air and water standards have transformed clogged, choking skies and spoiled, flammable waterways into safer air and water. They've saved trillions of dollars in health care costs and prevented hundreds of thousands of premature deaths.

It's no wonder these bedrock pollution safeguards are extremely popular among Americans of all political backgrounds. No one wants dirty air or unsafe water, and everyone cares about their kids.

During the Obama administration, the EPA took historic, life-saving actions to protect Americans from dangerous pollution by:

  • Curbing mercury, arsenic and other toxic air pollution from our power plants.
  • Reducing pollution that crosses state lines in 27 eastern states, providing up to $280 billion in health benefits and reducing smog pollution, which worsens asthma and can lead to premature death.

These and other core standards could be under attack like never before. We will have to fight even harder to defend our hard-won progress and stand up for science and reality-based public health standards.

Please take action: Urge your members of Congress to support our core clean air and clean water safeguards.

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Step 3: Defend the Landmark Clean Power Plan

More than 8 million Americans (including more than 500,000 EDF Members and Activists) submitted public comments supporting carbon standards and the Clean Power Plan, which sets the first national limits on climate pollution from America's power plants—more public comments than have ever been submitted for or against any previous national standard on any issue.

That is why it is particularly tragic and misguided that the Trump Administration has begun the process to rescind the rule—without offering any plans to replace it.

The Clean Power Plan will reduce carbon pollution from power plants by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. When fully implemented, it's estimated to yield up to $54 billion in annual climate and health benefits and save up to 3,600 lives each year. Meanwhile, this progress is powering our clean energy economy. Already, more than twice as many Americans work in energy efficiency, solar, and wind careers than are employed through fossil fuel generation.

These pollution-reduction targets are very achievable: In 2015, emissions were already 21 percent below 2005 levels. That's almost two-thirds of the way toward the 2030 targets.

And states like Illinois, Texas, Kansas, Arkansas, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Colorado, California, and many others are already on track or ahead of the pollution reduction pace set in the Clean Power Plan. Defending this progress is central to our work.

Please take action today to oppose President Trump’s disastrous effort to rescind the Clean Power Plan without any replacement.

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Step 4: Accelerate our transition to the clean energy economy of the 21st century

The 21st century will be a clean energy century—and the country that most aggressively unleashes clean energy innovation will gain a tremendous advantage.

Over 80 percent of Americans want to boost clean energy. But we need smart policies and a modern energy system to unlock the clean energy future. This is about giving people more choice and control over how they use energy to power their homes, while reducing pollution and protecting our children's health.

We are working with states across the country to drive investments into clean energy and to establish firm carbon pollution reduction plans for their power sectors. By rewriting old rules that stack the deck against conservation and clean energy, we modernize the electric grid and spur private investment in energy efficiency and renewables.

Here are some of our priority initiatives:

  • California has led the way with their economy-wide cap and trade program to reduce carbon emissions, and now stands poised to become the engine of a future North American carbon market. The California legislature will consider a bill to extend the program, and we are working to make this the strongest possible bill.
  • We recently supported passage of the Future Energy Jobs Bill in Illinois, which will fix their Renewable Portfolio Standard and significantly expand the state's successful energy efficiency programs, lowering harmful pollution and customers' electric bills.
  • Ohio Gov. John Kasich recently vetoed legislation that would have stymied energy investments in Ohio—a major victory for healthier air and clean energy jobs. A study by EDF and The Nature Conservancy found that a solid mix of energy efficiency and clean energy in Ohio will create jobs and grow the economy, while saving customers money and generating health benefits.

The costs for wind and solar are falling and clean energy jobs are booming. The wind blows and the sun shines whether we harness the energy or not. Let's harness it.

Take Action: Tell your Governor and state legislators you support clean energy innovation in your state.

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Step 5: Defend the Paris Climate Agreement and support reductions in global climate emissions

The Obama Administration helped lead the world to the first global agreement to reduce climate pollution and toward a safer planet. But on the campaign trail, then-candidate Trump vowed to “cancel” the Paris Climate Agreement. This would be a disaster for America and our global environment.

The Paris Agreement is now international law. It would require a lengthy process to withdraw, and doing so would risk international backlash and tariffs on American exports.

The agreement has broad support from the American people and is backed by a wide range of sectors, including businesses, investors, faith communities, doctors, and trade unions. And pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement will leave a huge opening for the Chinese and Europeans to dominate clean energy industries, endangering hundreds of thousands of American jobs.

As we oppose any effort to pull out of or undermine the Paris Agreement, we are building a Coalition of Carbon Markets comprised of countries willing to reduce carbon pollution even more. This coalition can spur faster, deeper cuts in global climate pollution. Carbon markets are now underway in over fifty jurisdictions around the world that are home to over 1 billion people.

Now more than ever, our work to reduce deforestation in Brazil is critical. Deforestation in tropical countries is responsible for nearly 15 percent of the global emissions of carbon dioxide, roughly equivalent to the emissions from all the cars and trucks in the world combined.

And we will expand pollution reduction efforts in China by helping them deploy their national carbon trading system.

Step 6: Drive and support corporate actions to reduce climate emissions

Smart business leaders understand that a thriving economy depends on a thriving environment. That's why 22 of the Fortune 100 companies have committed to procuring 100 percent of their energy from renewables, and 71 have a public target for sustainability or renewable energy.

EDF is urging businesses to stay on course towards a cleaner and more competitive economy by standing up for strong environmental protections and action on climate change; reducing impacts and emissions in their operations and supply chains; and investing in the future by influencing well-designed regulatory and policy changes needed to address climate change.

An example of the kind of progress we can make on this front: Walmart recently doubled down on its commitment to sustainability with a new set of 2025 goals, which includes a commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from its operations by 18 percent, sourcing 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources, expanding its sourcing of commodities produced with zero net deforestation, and cutting a billion tons of emissions from its global supply chain—more than Germany's annual emissions.

We will also continue our Climate Corps work, a summer fellowship program that trains and embeds graduate students inside leading companies and public institutions to accelerate clean energy and energy efficiency projects. Now nearly a decade old, Climate Corps fellows have identified over $1.5 billion in energy savings for projects with the potential to reduce carbon dioxide pollution by 2 million metric tons per year, the equivalent to taking more than 430,000 cars off the road.

EDF and eight other NGOs are also partnering with over 600 businesses in the Business Backs Low-Carbon USA initiative. Our goal is to build loud and clear business and investor support to inspire President Trump and Congress to invest in the low-carbon economy, support low-carbon policies, and implement the Paris Climate Agreement.

We don't take any money from our corporate partners—we rely entirely on the generous support of our members to fund this vital work.


Step 7: Defend methane pollution standards and drive reductions by expanding work globally

Methane is a powerful climate pollutant, 84 times more potent in trapping heat in the earth's atmosphere than carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after it's released.

The EPA methane pollution standards for new oil and gas wells on private land and the BLM methane pollution standards for new and existing wells on public lands are finalized. But while they are under serious attack, we achieved our first major environmental victory in early May, when an attempt to roll back the Bureau of Land Management's crucial limits on the amount of dangerous methane pollution the oil and gas industry can vent, leak, and flare on public and tribal lands failed by a nail-bitingly close 51-49 vote thanks to the tireless work of over 100,000 EDF Action supporters.

While threats against these crucial protections from the Trump Administration and the courts remain—and we'll be counting on you to help us fight them—we are working with states to advance state pollution standards. States like Colorado and Pennsylvania are moving forward on methane and can serve as models for other major natural gas producing states.

While we fight to defend standards in the U.S., we will work to make progress in Canada and particularly Mexico, the next linchpin in our global methane reduction strategy. Mexico needs technical assistance and ongoing political advocacy—and EDF is a key partner on both.

We will also continue to make progress in our Methane Mapping Project, a unique partnership with Google Earth Outreach to measure methane leaks from local natural gas supply lines.

Action taken!

Step 8: Defend and strengthen pollution and fuel economy standards for transportation

Transportation is one of the largest sources of climate pollution in the United States. Our cars, trucks, ships and other vehicles also emit particulate pollution when they burn gasoline and diesel—leading to dangerous soot and smog.

EDF Members and Activists have delivered hundreds of thousands of actions to support stronger fuel efficiency standards over many years. And we've made a lot of progress. In 2012, the Obama administration finalized new standards to cut harmful climate pollution from new cars and other passenger vehicles by doubling the fuel efficiency standards by 2025. These standards will save consumers $1.7 trillion at the pump over the life of the program and will save 12 billion barrels of oil.

Last year, the EPA and Department of Transportation finalized fuel efficiency standards for America's heavy trucks, which will save 2 billion barrels of oil, cut 1.1 billion metric tons of climate pollution, and save truckers $170 billion in fuel costs—but the Trump Administration has already announced plans to roll back these crucial protections.

We've also secured standards to reduce soot, smog, and other types of dangerous pollution that come from the tailpipes of our cars and trucks by reducing sulfur levels in gasoline and improving vehicle emission systems. And we've worked to advance a goal of zero emissions from freight transportation, particularly at hubs like ports, by promoting new technologies, including the demonstration of hybrid electric hydrogen fuel cell freight trucks in Houston.

While we defend the gains we've made in advancing fuel economy and pollution reduction standards, we'll fight for the next round of clean car standards, to protect our air, our climate and our pocketbooks—and to make sure American vehicles stay at the forefront of innovation. We're also building coalitions to support the development of infrastructure for the next generation of zero emission vehicles and to include the transportation sector in carbon markets.

Step 9: Promote rebuilding America's infrastructure for a clean energy future

Despite deep political divides on a wide variety of issues, there is emerging bipartisan consensus that America is long overdue for major infrastructure investments. We must seize every opportunity to ensure that updating our old, frayed electricity system is central to a federal infrastructure bill.

A clean energy infrastructure isn't just a nice thing to have—it's a major job creator and an opportunity to spur economic growth. Solar jobs have increased more than 20 percent each of the last four years. Wind is huge in Texas and Iowa, solar is booming in North Carolina and Arizona. The advanced clean energy market was worth $200 billion in 2015—that's bigger than the U.S. airline industry and equal to the pharmaceutical business.

Some of our priorities to advance efficiency and carbon reductions in America's infrastructure include:

  • Optimizing efficiency in our electric grid and promoting smart grid technologies to empower consumers and give them the tools they need to waste less energy and save money.
  • Advancing electric vehicle charging stations to help bolster our transition to cleaner electric vehicles.
  • Repairing and replacing pipelines to prevent leaks and spills.
  • Promoting energy efficiency in American industry to reduce costs, improve competitiveness, and strengthen job creation.

The question of how to fund a major infrastructure bill could also provide a new opportunity to secure a price on carbon through tax reform or other mechanisms. This would both raise revenue and be an efficient way to reduce pollution and spur clean energy investments.

Investing in a cleaner, more efficient infrastructure can help us win the economy of the future—it's an opportunity we squander at our peril.

Please take action to let your members of Congress know you support infrastructure investments to bolster clean energy and energy efficiency.

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Step 10: Expand and mobilize grassroots efforts to fight and win tough political battles

EDF is a growing community of more than two million Members and Activists. Since our founding 50 years ago, we have always relied on the support of ordinary Americans who have stepped up to support our work with financial contributions and with grassroots support.

In this new political era, our community will be tested like never before. To meet the new challenges of the Trump era, we will be investing in recruiting new online activists and developing higher level action opportunities for those who are more engaged. You can help right now by sharing this page on your social networks (see buttons below).

While we expand our base throughout the country, we will strategically increase our grassroots presence in target swing states. We will leverage these growing networks to build success stories that highlight the benefits of a growing clean energy economy—not only for the environment, but also for workers and the economy.

Thousands of EDF supporters marched side-by-side with staff and 200,000 other environmentalists at the People's Climate March on April 29th. We will continue to participate in other big mobilization opportunities, and we will use all the traditional tools of grassroots organizing—online action alerts, phone-banking, letter-writing, lobby visits, social media promotions, and person-to-person engagements.

We will also beef up our cadre of staff experts, attorneys, economists, political affairs, and grassroots organizing staff to hold the Trump administration accountable in the courts and through various public comment and policy engagement opportunities.

Help us mobilize concerned citizens and spread the word by sharing our Path Forward plan over your social networks:

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With your support, we can protect our hard-fought victories and still make forward progress. Your tax-deductible gift will fund EDF's collaborative work with state and local governments, business leaders, and countries like China to tackle on the climate crisis.

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