A recent report by the National Resources Defense Council titled “Powering Toward 100% Clean Power by 2035” studies whether we can achieve this. Thanks to a history of environmental regulation and recent funding from the Biden Administration, the US can reach 100% clean power by 2023. This means we can meet our national commitment for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the Paris Agreement, too.
Diverse partners will need to work together. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) needs to develop and enforce clean power plant regulations. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission needs to address transmission and infrastructure issues. The Biden Administration needs to properly spend the $370 billion in the Inflation Reduction Act. Finally, states need to advance climate action at the regional and local levels.
This 47-page report details the policies that have led up to this moment and the specific actions that distinct agencies must act on. Many of them relate to the problems that BuildingLens is trying to solve.
In section two, the report discussed “Air Quality Rules to Protect Public Health.” While EPA has made some progress on regulatory rulemaking, they are behind schedule on 9 out of 10 efforts. EPA has promised to strengthen PM2.5 (particulate matter of 2.5 microns (very tiny!) or less), which can make it difficult to breathe, cause lung and heart disease, and premature death. But they only plan to change the annual standard. Going against their own science, they are now proposing to leave the daily standard at the same level.
On mercury, arsenic, benzene, and cadmium, which can increase heart attack risk, harm immune function and damage fetuses. EPA had been doing a good job in reductions. At one point, they were able to reduce these emissions by 90%, but legal challenges during the Trump Administration caused a setback in many states. EPA needs to recover from these legal challenges and reinstate and expand these standards.
The Good Neighbor law regulates power plant emissions of ozone within and across state lines, but only in 27 eastern states. Many states are left without protections. Biden currently proposes spreading this to another 23 states.
Finally, the Regional Haze Rule regulates visibility for 156 national parks and wilderness areas. This addresses root causes of smog, but it doesn’t ensure visibility outside of national parks and wilderness areas.
The US Government’s multi-partner approach is a sound one. It does need to regulate power plants and provide funding for the clean energy economy. But it’s operating in a highly politicized space. It’s moving too slow and in ways and places that are too limited.
If, as this report asserts, clean power is the easiest way to reach our international climate change commitments, then it can’t only be addressed on supply/power side. BuildingLens generates a great volume of data on the demand side that utilities can use to control building demand and manage the grid better. BuildingLens collects this data while monitoring and managing buildings for human health and saving energy.
Many people think of environmental regulations as limiting pollution and they do, but they do it by issuing a permit to pollute. The EPA is always balancing what pollution it will allow in the environment against what is cost effective to do at the time. We think a better option is real time monitoring and response.
The air quality aspect of BuildingLens (AirLens) will protect people by assessing what is in the air and responding to air quality threats that protect the people inside the buildings right away. Our software as a service will be cost effective for all sorts of businesses occupying small and medium sized buildings. We manage their air quality and energy, so they can get on with their own business.