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Current Climate: Cracking Down On Deadly Air Pollution

This week’s Current Climate, which every Monday brings you the latest news about the business of sustainability. Sign up to get it in your inbox every week.

The Environmental Protection Agency significantly tightened limits on deadly air pollution for the first time in over a decade. The new rule lowers the annual standard for soot and other fine particulate matter to 9 micrograms per cubic meter from the current standard of 12 micrograms. The pollution – which is linked to asthma, heart attacks and strokes – comes from factories, cement plants, oil refineries and other industrial facilities, as well as from wildfires. The EPA says the new rules will prevent up to 4,500 premature deaths and yield up to $46 billion in net health benefits in 2032. Business groups immediately raised objections, arguing that the new standard would increase costs and hurt manufacturers. In an election year, the new rules could also have political implications: The Washington Post reported that seven swing states—Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin—were below the new tougher soot standards, potentially putting a lid on new manufacturing there.

The Big Read

Kickstarting A Geologic Hydrogen Industry

Hydrogen’s flexibility — it can be used to cut carbon emissions from steel, in chemical and ammonia production, oil refining, power vehicles and store or make electricity — makes it a compelling clean fuel. But extracting it from natural gas emits CO2 and making it from water and other non-fossil fuel sources remains costly. Geologic hydrogen is particularly attractive because it promises to be the lowest-cost form of the fuel and utilizes drilling techniques long mastered by the oil and gas industry. The Energy Department is kickstarting the market for it with $20 million in research grants to top U.S. laboratories, universities and private companies including Koloma, a startup backed by Bill Gates that has quickly become the new industry’s most prominent. The company also just raised $246 million, putting it well ahead of rivals in the race to drill for hydrogen.

Read more here and here.

Hot Topic

NZero CEO Adam Kramer On A Carbon-Free Energy Super Bowl

What does NZero do?

We were hired by the Las Vegas Raiders just over a year ago to help them track emissions. Every hour of the day, we track the energy consumption of Allegiant Stadium, whether it’s a Super Bowl, a football game or a Taylor Swift concert. We look at the generation mix of the local utility grid to show what their carbon footprint is.

Where does its power come from?

[The stadium] entered into an agreement a couple years ago that took effect in 2023 that guarantees them 100% renewable energy from solar and battery storage from the grid.

How much power does the Super Bowl need?

28 megawatt-hours. It’s the biggest event at the stadium in terms of total electricity consumption for any event that they’ve had. Just for Usher in the halftime show it’s using megawatts of electricity above and beyond that normal usage.

What Else We’re Reading

Allegiant Stadium uses carbon-free power but Super Bowl weekend is still terrible for the climate.

Global temperatures may have already passed a critical climate threshold and could exceed another by the end of the decade, according to a new report.

Electric vehicles are vital to curbing automotive exhaust and CO2 emissions but threaten Africa’s platinum mines.

The climate fund created by billionaire Laurene Powell Jobs has more than $3 billion — and a deadline to spend it all by 2035.

Cork isn’t just for wine bottles anymore. It’s finding a new market as a sustainable alternative to plastics.

Can rooftop vineyards make airports more environmentally friendly?

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