Despite much progress in reducing levels of air pollution in the U.S., millions of Americans are exposed to unhealthy levels of pollution every year. Ozone and small particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5), among other pollutants, are widespread in the U.S. and have serious health effects.
Currently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers safe and acceptable levels of air pollution that many American public health groups and international agencies consider unhealthy.
This report examines EPA air quality data from 2020 and shows how often Americans living in large urban areas, small urban areas and rural counties were exposed to air pollution that could damage their health.2 Fossil fuel combustion is the primary human-caused source of air pollution – and the main driver of global warming, which threatens to make air quality even worse in the years to come. Policymakers must move quickly to reduce air pollution, including by electrifying every sector of the economy and transitioning to clean, renewable sources of electricity
Rooftop solar power is an essential tool for California to meet its ambitious climate and clean energy goals. California has become the nation’s solar energy leader by adopting policies that have nurtured and grown the state’s market for distributed solar panels on homes and businesses consistently, year after year.
Today, however, utilities and their allies are pushing for major rollbacks to the state’s key policy for compensating solar panel owners for the surplus energy they share back to the electric grid – called “net metering.” Such a rollback would likely slow down rooftop solar adoption dramatically, threatening California’s continued clean energy progress.
California has long been a global leader in environmental protection. California’s pioneering actions to reduce air pollution, safeguard natural areas, and protect vulnerable species have set a high standard for the United States and beyond.
Today, California faces its biggest environmental challenge: climate change. Over the next several decades, California will need to repower its economy with clean, renewable energy – and do so with as little impact as possible on wildlife and wild places.
Rooftop solar power is a key tool in the fight against climate change. Solar energy on homes, schools, farms and other buildings can be deployed at the speed and scale required to meet the climate crisis, and it can do so while contributing to a resilient, ecologically vibrant future for California.
Rooftop solar power has changed California’s energy landscape, giving people the ability to transform their homes to be clean energy producers instead of dirty energy consumers. But instead of embracing this success story, utilities and other special interests are getting together to undermine rooftop solar by making it more expensive — just as it is proving its importance to our clean energy future.
It is time for America to move beyond fossil fuels. Coal, oil and gas are responsible for a rapidly warming planet, for hundreds of thousands of deaths in the U.S. each year from air pollution, and for untold environmental damage. A shift to emission-free energy from the wind, sun and other renewable sources can solve many of America’s most pressing environmental and public health challenges.
America has the power to build an energy system in which our energy comes from clean, renewable sources like the wind and sun. There are many potential paths America can take to build on our abundant clean energy potential and help America rapidly achieve a renewable energy system.
Environment California Research and Policy Center is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.