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Defending the Clean Air Act

Dave Hawkins, Director of Climate Programs, Washington, D.C.

Dave Hawkins

I’ve only had a couple of jobs in my lifetime. First, I was a schoolteacher in New York City. Then, after law school in the late 1960s, the first thing I did was apply for a job with a new group that would be a law firm for the environment. They told me to come back in a year and see if they were still around and whether they had any money to pay me.

So, after one year at a small public interest firm, I joined the nascent NRDC, and I’ve been here ever since, except from 1977 to 1981 when President Carter appointed me assistant administrator for Air, Noise and Radiation at the Environmental Protection Agency. Don’t ask me about the noise part.

I came back to NRDC after Carter left office, and worked throughout the next decade primarily on reauthorizing the Clean Air Act.

In 2001, NRDC made a bold step in creating our Climate Center, and I am its founding director. Our goal: a comprehensive limit on heat-trapping greenhouse gases to avoid the worst consequences of global warming. I hope to use this blog to explain some of my ideas on how to make that happen.

Recent Posts

Big Coal's War on Itself

Posted July 31, 2015 by Dave Hawkins

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Comments (5)

Co-authored by Andrew Stevenson, independent financial analyst. Over the past year the Big 3 of the US coal industry (Peabody Energy, Arch Coal, and Alpha Natural) have seen their combined market cap fall from $6bln to $350mln and their...continued

Setting State Carbon Pollution Targets

Posted July 22, 2014 by Dave Hawkins

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In June, EPA proposed  the first-ever carbon pollution standards for fossil-fuel power plants.  Since then, a bevy of pundits have been busy finding fault with various aspects of the proposal.  For the most part, these critiques are off-base, failing to...continued

Unpacking EPA's Carbon Pollution Proposal

Posted June 5, 2014 by Dave Hawkins

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Comments (12)

Let me start by saying I am not going to be talking in this blog about the most important issue presented by EPA’s proposal to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants.  That key issue is how much will the rule...continued

ExxonMobil to Humanity: "Drop Dead (but keep your motors running)"

Posted April 3, 2014 by Dave Hawkins

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Running a major oil company means not having to say you’re sorry.  Or at least that’s what ExxonMobil’s managers seem to believe.  Earlier this week the oil giant posted a report on how it plans to reconcile the need to sharply...continued

Can ExxonMobil Protect Climate & its Bottom Line?

Posted March 21, 2014 by Dave Hawkins


Comments (1)

It’s big news that ExxonMobil (XOM) has agreed to report on the risks to its fossil fuel assets in a world that comes to terms with the reality of climate disruption.  Many investors and others will check out what XOM...continued

Another Assault on Clean Air

Posted March 4, 2014 by Dave Hawkins

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Just before Halloween, Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) circulated a draft bill that would block EPA from issuing standards that would cut health-threatening carbon pollution from new coal power plants and repeal EPA's authority to apply...continued

Read My Lips: No Tax Credit Polluter Havens

Posted November 23, 2013 by Dave Hawkins

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Last week I blogged here about the letter from four House members claiming that EPA's proposed carbon pollution rule for new coal plants violated the 2005 Energy Policy Act (EPACT).  EPACT includes grants and tax credits for certain coal power projects.  The...continued

Smoke from Capitol Hill

Posted November 18, 2013 by Dave Hawkins

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  “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” is a great song but a lousy way to read the Clean Air Act.  The latest coal smoke from Congress is a letter from four House members claiming that a 2005 energy law blocks...continued

Whitfield Bill Puts Big Coal in Charge of Carbon Pollution Standards

Posted October 29, 2013 by Dave Hawkins

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Comments (4)

Trick or treat! There is a new anti-EPA bill knocking at our door, courtesy of Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY).  The authors know its aim is so deeply unpopular that they have outfitted it with a smiling mask to hide what it...continued

CCS: Ready or Not?

Posted October 18, 2013 by Dave Hawkins

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Now that EPA has proposed carbon pollution standards for new coal plants that would end the era of pollution without limits for these monster carbon polluters, coal industry reps are busy proclaiming that cleaning up coal plants is impossible.  They...continued

What New Coal Plants?

Posted December 12, 2011 by Dave Hawkins

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Comments (2)

As EPA prepares the first-ever national standards for carbon pollution from new fossil fuel powerplants, the coal industry is embarking, predictably, on its latest dis-information campaign to try to block these desperately needed public health and climate safeguards.  New coal...continued

Scott Brown's Attack on the Truth

Posted May 5, 2011 by Dave Hawkins


Comments (5)

I haven’t met Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown and I am sure he is a nice man but he is definitely on the wrong track in attacking EPA and now the League of Women Voters.  Back in April, Senator Brown voted...continued

A Vote to Remember

Posted March 30, 2011 by Dave Hawkins


Today the Senate is scheduled to vote on a handful of shameful amendments to the Clean Air Act. While the details differ, all these amendments have one thing in common – they aim to block or eliminate parts of the...continued

Clean Air Act Phobia

Posted March 17, 2011 by Dave Hawkins

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Comments (3)

It’s a sad state of affairs when members on both sides of the aisle in Congress seem to think it is a good idea to attack the Clean Air Act – the landmark law that Richard Nixon signed and George...continued

Dirty Air Extremism

Posted February 9, 2011 by Dave Hawkins

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Barry Goldwater famously said, “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.”  Maybe so, but extremism in the defense of fantasy is a tougher sell.  Still, that doesn’t stop some members of Congress from trying. Exhibit A this week...continued


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