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Ken Kimmell

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About the author: Ken Kimmell is president of the Union of Concerned Scientists and has more than 30 years of experience in government, environmental policy, and advocacy. He is a national advocate for clean energy and transportation policies and a driving force behind UCS’s “Power Ahead” campaign to build a large and diverse group of clean energy leadership states. Prior to joining UCS in May 2014, Mr. Kimmell was the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), and served as chairman of the board of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. See Ken's full bio.

Natural Gas: A Runaway Train or a Helping Hand?

The United States stands at an energy crossroads. Coal-fired power plants generated about half of our electricity as recently as 2007, but are now being retired at a record rate due to age, cost, and the need to cut carbon pollution. Aging nuclear power plants, which generate about twenty percent of our electricity, are also heading towards retirement, and few new plants are being built.

What will replace them? There are two paths forward. Read More

Categories: Energy, Fossil Fuels, Global Warming  

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How Bold Skepticism of “The Impossible” Can Help Drive The Future

According to Margo Oge, a former high-ranking official of the EPA, the future of climate-friendly transportation is filled with potential: driverless cars that pick you up “on demand,” car batteries that also help power your home, next generation vehicles that get the equivalent of 243 mpg—the equivalent of 10 gallons of gas to get from Los Angeles to New York City. In her new book Driving the Future, Oge shares an inspiring vision of our transportation future, and as the head of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality at the Environmental Protection Agency for more than 18 years, she knows as much as anyone about what this future looks like and how to get there. Read More

Categories: Vehicles  

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Hair-Trigger Alert: Some Risks are Not Worth Taking

We all take calculated risks, and justifiably so, when we judge the benefits of our action to outweigh the risks. I ride a bike to work when I can, for example. Sure, there’s a risk of injury but, to me, it is outweighed by the health, economic, and environmental benefits.

But the picture changes when we take risks with no real benefits. And when our political leaders do this, we have a duty to speak out and demand change. Read More

Categories: Nuclear Weapons  

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Busting the Myth of “Job-Killing EPA Regulations”

Earlier this month, when EPA proposed a new health-protective air quality standard for the pollutants that form “ozone,” some critics predictably pounced on it as another example of a long string of “job-killing EPA regulations.” Yet last week, we learned that the U.S. economy created about 320,000 new jobs in November, and average wages are starting to rise as the labor market tightens.

If you spot some dissonance here, you’re not alone. The claim that EPA regulations kill jobs is belied by the record. Read More

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Could Lima Mark a Climate Turning Point? What to Look For

With the historic climate march in New York, and pledges by the world’s three largest emitters—China, the United States, and the 28 countries of the European Union—to cap or cut emissions, I’m already on record as suggesting that the fall of 2014 could be a turning point in the international effort to address global warming.

The momentum seems to be building.  Read More

Categories: Energy, Fossil Fuels, Global Warming  

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Good News for the Climate: U.S. & China Agree to Cut Emissions (Finally!)

One day, when historians look back to pick the time when the world finally woke up and decided to address global warming, that time may well be the fall of 2014. First, the march in New York drew 400,000 people and many thousands more across the globe to demand that our leaders take action on climate change. And today, the United States and China announced a truly historic agreement to cut emissions of carbon dioxide.
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The Day After: What the Mid-Terms Mean and How To Move Forward

While this morning’s headlines naturally focus on the change in leadership in the U.S. Senate, nothing in the results should change anyone’s mind on these clear truths: we know Americans trust science, support cutting global warming emissions, and want help for communities struggling with the very real consequences of climate change.   Read More

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So Sweet it’s Spooky: Get Special Interests out of School Lunches

In Washington, DC—and some state capitals as well—special interest politics have a way of grinding down good ideas. This almost happened to the Affordable Care Act, and it could happen to a less well known but highly important law—the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Read More

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EPA Clean Power Plan: We Must Do Better, We Can Do Better

Today, UCS unveiled a proposal to strengthen a laudable but modest U.S. EPA rule to cut carbon dioxide emissions from our nation’s power plants by increasing renewable energy use.

We make this proposal because of the urgent need to dramatically lower the emissions of this heat trapping gas, and because power plants are 40 percent of the problem and offer the most cost-effective option we have to cut carbon. Implementing our approach to expand the role of renewable energy could increase total power sector carbon reductions under the rule to nearly 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, or 220 million metric tons more reduction than proposed by the EPA. Read More

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Cap and Trade: Alive and Well

After reading his obituary, Mark Twain famously remarked that “the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” When a national climate bill failed in 2010, a lot of people said that so-called cap and trade programs to cut heat-trapping gases were dead. The claim was exaggerated then, and proven wrong now. Recent results in the northeast and California show that cap and trade is alive and well, and poised to expand in the next several years. Read More

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