Posts tagged: unplugged

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Everyone has The Right To Breathe clean air. Watch a video featuring Earthjustice Attorney Jim Pew and two Pennsylvanians—Marti Blake and Martin Garrigan—who know firsthand what it means to live in the shadow of a coal plant's smokestack, breathing in daily lungfuls of toxic air for more than two decades.

Coal Ash Contaminates Our Lives. Coal ash is the hazardous waste that remains after coal is burned. Dumped into unlined ponds or mines, the toxins readily leach into drinking water supplies. Watch the video above and take action to support federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal.


unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders.

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View Tim Ballo's blog posts
25 June 2013, 12:31 PM
First step towards giving Earth a break is in president's hands
(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Image by Reto Stöckli)

Tucked into the climate plan that President Obama unveiled today is an incomprehensibly large number that deserves some attention.

The president has set a goal that energy efficiency standards for appliances and federal buildings set in his first and second terms combined will reduce carbon pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030. Three billion metric tons is equivalent to the entire world’s carbon emissions over 35 days (at humanity’s current rate of generating 1 million metric tons of carbon pollution about every 17 minutes). The president’s plan would effectively give the planet a month’s vacation from all carbon pollution.

1 Comment   /  
View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
19 April 2013, 12:22 PM
DOE releases new distribution transformer standards
Although the electricity used by any one transformer is small, the losses add up on a national scale.  (iStockphoto)

In 2007, we filed a lawsuit challenging the Bush administration's weak energy efficiency standards for electricity distribution transformers, those gray boxes mounted on utility poles that power all our homes and businesses. The results of that lawsuit are new standards from the U.S. Department of Energy that were published in the Federal Register on Thursday. The standards were updated as part of an agreement settling that lawsuit. Along with Earthjustice, parties to the suit include the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and several states.

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View Jonathan Wiener's blog posts
11 March 2013, 12:48 PM
Your dryer is burning holes in your pockets
The average dryer costs more than $1,500 to run over its lifetime.  (DOE)

Few household appliances use as much energy or get replaced as rarely as clothes dryers. And unlike with most other household appliances, you won’t learn this when you are shopping for a new model.

The typical dryer uses more energy than the typical refrigerator, clothes washer, or dishwasher. But unlike all three of those products, dryers do not have to display yellow-and-black Energy Guide labels disclosing their energy costs.

Earthjustice is pushing to change this. Last week, we filed comments with the Federal Trade Commission calling for labels on clothes dryers.

FTC does not require labels for dryers because it decided years ago that most models tended to use roughly the same amount of energy. But that is no longer the case. An electric dryer costs more than twice as much to run as a gas dryer, enough to quickly wipe out the difference in purchase price. Even just among electric dryers, features like an automatic shut-off that accurately senses when the clothes are dry can lead to meaningful efficiency differences. And that’s before we consider the “heat-pump” models headed to the U.S. market.

View Jonathan Wiener's blog posts
07 March 2013, 9:01 AM
EnergyGuide and ENERGY STAR labels obscure impact of configurations and features
The addition of a through-the-door ice dispenser can make a big difference in a refrigerator's energy usage.

Would you give ENERGY STAR to a sport-utility vehicle? What about a sport-utility refrigerator?

As with fuel economy for cars, the most important factors affecting a refrigerator’s energy usage include size, design and features. Specifically, the location of the freezer section, the addition of an automatic icemaker, and the addition of a through-the-door ice dispenser can all make a big difference in a model’s energy usage. But the labeling programs designed to promote energy-efficient models instead hide these impacts.

Today’s Energy Guide labels for refrigerators compare energy use only among models that have the exact same configuration and features. ENERGY STAR works the same way, allowing products to carry the mark even if they have the least efficient combination of configurations and features.

View Jonathan Wiener's blog posts
04 January 2013, 10:53 AM
Online shoppers should more easily find energy efficiency information

If you are one of the millions of American consumers who shop or browse online for major appliances and would like to know the environmental impact your new purchase will have, we’ve got some good news. The Federal Trade Commission has finally updated its newly named Energy Labeling Rule to make it easier for you to compare models and to know the energy consumption (and operating cost) of new products.

Under the old rule, consumers had to fish around in unlikely places and hope to get lucky looking for this information. Now retailers will display it right next to the product photo and purchase price (like in the example at left), and manufacturers will also make it available on their own websites.

View Jonathan Wiener's blog posts
03 December 2012, 2:21 PM
DOE brings hammer down on Chinese manufacturer
The Kenmore chest freezer model 19502 is among the products in violation.

The Department of Energy on Thursday levied the biggest penalty in the 37-year history of the appliance energy efficiency standards program. It fined China-based Midea Corp. $4.5 million because of hundreds of thousands of inefficient compact freezers the company made.

Most of the violations are for products sold under Sears’ Kenmore brand, including chest freezers with model numbers 19502 and 19702. Testing by the Department revealed that those two models use 28 and 55 percent more energy, respectively, than the federal standards for their designs. Compliant compact refrigerators and freezers already use more energy per cubic foot than their full-grown relatives, and their lifetime energy costs often exceed the purchase price of the product.

In this case, consumers could buy a Midea-made freezer for less than $160, and wind up paying around a third of that each year just to leave it plugged in.

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View Jonathan Wiener's blog posts
13 November 2012, 10:12 AM
Outgoing budget chief sings praises of efficiency standards OMB mothballed
"Regulatory Czar" Cass Sunstein. Half-a-dozen efficiency standards are still stuck at OMB.  (White House)

Either he has finally seen the light, or he just has a lot of nerve.

In a Sunday New York Times editorial about the impact of Hurricane Sandy and steps the U.S. should take to address climate change, former White House “regulatory czar” Cass Sunstein argues, quite rightly, that cost-benefit analysis frequently justifies aggressive steps to combat climate change and other environmental harms.

He will get no argument on that here. But the examples he chose to illustrate his point—fuel efficiency standards for cars and appliances—ought to raise a few eyebrows.

3 Comments   /  
View Jonathan Wiener's blog posts
24 August 2012, 8:34 AM
Earthjustice urges customs to act on noncompliant imports

In June of 1976, the country had not yet marked its bicentennial. Gerald Ford was still president, Wings’ “Silly Love Songs” was topping the charts, and the customs service had not yet been transferred to the Department of Homeland Security. Point is: June 1976 was a really long time ago. 

And yet, one thing that had happened is that customs had already blown a deadline imposed by Congress to pass rules ensuring that imported products comply with energy efficiency standards and labeling requirements.
In the intervening years, as manufacturing moved overseas and the standards and labeling programs grew to cover more types of products, evidence mounted that some foreign companies are shipping products that lack required labels and waste more energy than they’re legally allowed to. This undercuts domestic companies that play by the rules and results in higher energy bills for U.S. business and consumers, and more air pollution for everyone. While nobody knows the full extent of the problem, it affects products ranging from light bulbs to window-mounted air conditioner units to the motors in farm equipment.

View Tim Ballo's blog posts
16 August 2012, 11:13 AM
New electric motor standards will save energy and simplify enforcement
Earthjustice and a coalition of energy efficiency advocates and motor manufacturers are recommending stronger new efficiency standards for the types of electric motors used in commercial and industrial applications. (Image of conveyor via Shutterstock)

If you say the word “motor” to most people, they would probably think first of the motor in their car. Many people understandably take a great interest in the gasoline or diesel engine that gets them around. But while amateur mechanics across the country may spend their weekends fussing over these motors, I’ve yet to see grease-covered enthusiasts gathered in a garage discussing the horsepower of their washing machines.

Yet, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, electric motors consume more than half of all electricity used in the U.S. each year. These motors are embedded in seemingly everything, from the tiny cooling fans in laptop computers, to the larger motors that drive household refrigerators and air-conditioners, and the much larger motors running conveyor belts in factories.

Improving the energy efficiency of these motors can have huge benefits by reducing the demand for electricity and the air pollution from power plants.

View Jonathan Wiener's blog posts
01 August 2012, 6:27 AM
Study after study finds labels are missing from products in retail stores
EnergyGuide labels were hidden, out-of-date, falling (or fallen) off, or otherwise noncompliant. (Andy Melton)

When the Government Accountability Office studied energy efficiency labeling in 2007, it found a surprising number of products on display in appliance stores were missing required labels. A year later, the Federal Trade Commission conducted a similar study. It likewise found that significant numbers of products were missing labels. In both cases, labels for many products on display were hard to find, difficult to read, or detached from the product.

To find out whether recent changes to the labeling rules had improved things, we conducted our own investigation over the last year, and the results were not encouraging. Nearly a quarter of the 3,000 or so products we saw were missing labels entirely. Another third of products had labels that were hidden, out-of-date, falling (or fallen) off, or otherwise noncompliant. We also found products that claimed to be Energy Star certified even though they no longer met the criteria to make such a claim.