Daniel Bourgault Senior Editor Loyola University of Chicago School of Law, JD 2022 In 2020, Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) reached a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s office as to a federal investigation into the utility company for bribing a high-level elected official. In the agreement, ComEd agreed to pay a fine of $200 …
Set against the backdrop of climate change and a growing global push for sustainability, more people than ever before are turning toward Electric Vehicles (EVs) as a simple swap to reduce their carbon footprint – but are EVs really more sustainable? Although they might seem more sustainable, the long-term impacts of EVs on the environment are still not entirely known. While EVs reduce fossil fuel consumption now, what happens to the battery in an EV when it dies? Can it be recycled? How are the batteries produced? All these factors contribute to an uncertainty around EVs that has governments and scientists thinking of ways to improve the sustainability of the EV industry.
The United States currently stands ready to make energy decisions that will impact every U.S. citizen alive today and generations moving forward. President Joe Biden committed to fighting climate change in his campaign for President and has continued in this vein by making goals to halve U.S. carbon emissions by 2030 and further, to create a net-zero carbon economy by 2050. The key to this plan is the not-so-simple issue of electricity generation.
For the past few weeks, world leaders have been discussing climate action and how to tackle the growing problem at COP26. They recently reached an agreement that pushes countries to strengthen climate targets that can be achieved in the near future and limit fossil fuel use, but they are still facing criticism from scientists who say it is not enough. While they did come up with language urging countries to move away from fossil fuels, there are few concrete goals written leaving it largely up to the countries themselves to decide how to meet those goals.
When you think about what things harm the environment, your mind likely goes to gas-guzzling cars, single-use plastics, and cow farts. But when you’re considering your carbon footprint, the environmental impact of data storage is likely something you’ve left out. While the shows we stream, documents we download, and pictures we upload to social media may not take up storage space on our devices, the data must be stored somewhere, and that storage does not come without a cost.
“A building is only built once.”
So writes Ellen Vaughan, Policy Director at the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (“EESI”), and Jim Turner, former Chief Counsel at the EESI. The consequences of new construction can last for the entire life of that building and beyond. Just how and with what materials a building is constructed impacts energy, environment, resilience, and safety as well as cost effectiveness, functionality, accessibility, productivity, and overall sustainability. The how of building is an incredibly important part of the life of residential and commercial builds which can only be affected prior to the start of the entire process.
The International Code Council (ICC) originally adopted the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) in 2000. The 2021 IECC addresses energy efficiency on several fronts including cost, energy usage, use of natural resources, and the impact of energy usage on the environment. As of June 2019, Illinois has adopted a statewide commercial and residential building code based off the 2018 IECC. This Illinois Energy Conservation Code (Illinois Energy Code) was implemented with the belief that buildings built in compliance with these energy performance standards would see annual energy costs reduced by approximately thirty percent.
In his proposed American Jobs Plan, President Biden has stated that if the United States wants to achieve its decarbonization targets and get climate change under control, cutting off government support to the fossil fuel industry is a crucial first step. Eliminating government subsidies for fossil fuels is the most logical step in fighting back against climate change, but Biden is facing an uphill battle to get his American Jobs Plan passed through Congress.
As a compliance deadline set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) for the fracking industry approaches on June 23, 2021, both the industry and the workers employed by it are seeing benefits. Created by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, OSHA sets out regulations meant to protect employees from work conditions that threaten their health and monitors and enforces compliance with those standards.
William Baker Associate Editor Loyola University Chicago School of Law, JD 2022 The oil and gas industry recently announced plans to end gas flaring by 2030. Flaring involves the controlled release of excess gas from natural gas wells. While this practice is commonplace in the oil and gas industry, it nevertheless harms the environment …