An Environmental Eval: What’s going RIGHT and what’s going WRONG

Photo by Mike Burke on Unsplash

By Jason Middleton

The EPA Post-Pruitt

Recently retired (disgraced?) commissioner of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, set the wheels in motion for a significant roll back of greenhouse gas emission regulations along with fuel efficiency standards, most, but not all, set during the Obama Administration.

With Pruitt no longer in charge, these changes are continuing, despite some informed and organized push back — some even from the new EPA administration itself.

This week, in our first segment, we have one of the engineers and policy advisors who put together the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) regulations, as they’re known.

Jeff Alson was a senior engineer and policy advisor for the U.S. EPA Office of Transportation and Air Quality for 40 years, retiring in Spring 2018. He dedicated his career to making the transportation sector more sustainable.

And if you have an alt-fuel car, like an electric, you owe him a thanks: In 1997, he first proposed the federal vehicle income tax credit that was initially adopted for hybrid and diesel vehicles, and now in place for electric plug-in and fuel cell vehicles.   

Alson is also actively concerned about California’s exemption that helps set an international standard for fuel economy and air quality.

Fresh Catch — Changing Fishing for the Better

In the summer of 2017, we hosted a two-person entrepreneurial team to get the story behind Fresh Catch, a sustainable, fresh-fish delivery service that stemmed from, basically, an urge to try and save the ocean.

Austin Klein and Jessica Ryan attended UC Santa Cruz (until they didn’t) and started Fresh Catch once Ryan had picked up some motivation from her time at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

This week, in segment two, the two “co-flounders” give us a status report on their positive growth, impact and expanding network of like-minded small, sustainability-focused businesses. And we’re also tracking down more news from Salt Point Seaweed too!

Klein and Ryan created Fresh Catch because they wanted to do something — to solve what they see, and actually is, a crisis in not only sustainable fish but also the health of our planet, overall. In a phrase: seeking solutions. So, that’s teed up our next topic: solution journalism.

Closing the “Hope Gap”

In May 2018, Yale University published an academic paper and report titled “Media Contributing to ‘Hope Gap’ on Climate Change.” The hope gap is when an issue seems larger than any possible fix — which can actually interfere with a person’s ability to go through the problem solving process of acknowledgement, assessment etc.

The United Nations is also addressing sustainability (and the hope gap, in a way) during its Sustainable Development Goals conference. It’s better to be informed rather than shy away from current events, but when the headlines feel more bombarding than informative, it’s nice to take a break.

Recently, in a small but laudable way, Google has tried to address the hope gap via its Google Assistant. A new feature is rolling out that delivers some “good news” when you ask for it. Just say: “Hey Google, tell me something good” to your Google Assistant. Google is surfacing 20-second clips of what’s called “solution journalism” — real news about people trying to make the world a better place. Now, if only Google can find a way to provide Gmail users a link from those stories for follow up information, perhaps then passive attention will more likely become active.

Flying Cars!

In segment three, we have another check-in, this time with an automotive industry and tech expert, Charlie Vogelheim. Vogelheim also hosts a show and broadcast here on KGO on Saturday mornings at 9 a.m. titled The Flying Car.”

We get in the weeds with Vogelheim about alternative fuels, the state of Tesla and his upcoming car conference.

Please click through any of the above links for more information. Visit our show page to view all our podcasts (see this week’s segments mentioned in the article below) or find them on iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play.

Have great weeks, everybody!


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