Renewable EnergyIncreasing the use of energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy is one of the quickest ways Americans can reduce air pollution and carbon emissions fueling climate change.
North Carolina is now a market leader in solar energy, ranking third nationally in 2016 for solar capacity behind California and Arizona. In part due to the passage of the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard in 2007 which jump-started our homegrown industry and state and federal tax credits, North Carolina now boasts approximately 2.03 Gigawatts of solar photovoltaic (for electricity) energy systems powering North Carolina.
The above map was compiled by our partners at the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association to show where the power of the sun is helping power our communities. Over 350 firms work in the solar industry in our state employing 5,541 people in 2015.
North Carolina is also fortunate to have the strongest off-shore wind capacity on the East Coast due to the geography of our coast. Over 85 businesses are engaged in promoting and generating wind energy in the state. The federal Bureau of Ocean Management identified three sites off the coast that contain up to 3,740 megawatts of wind energy potential which is nearly twice as much solar energy we produced in 2015.
Clean Air Carolina strongly supports the use of energy efficiency and renewable energy to address air pollution and climate change. We advocate for policies at the local, state and federal levels that advance clean energy solutions. As a member of the Repower Our Schools coalition we urge school boards to adopt policies committing to a goal of 100% renewable energy.
Our main challenge is protecting the policies that have enabled renewable energy to grow in North Carolina. We need your help to advocate at the state and local level to keep this clean air solution moving forward.
Clean ConstructionDiesel powered construction equipment has long been a major source of air pollution on construction sites.
As one of the fastest growing states in the country, the construction sector in North Carolina is seeing an increase in their business especially in the growth of hospitals and health care facilities. Because of the highly toxic nature of diesel exhaust Clean Air Carolina is focusing our outreach to healthcare systems to protect the health of patients, visitors, staff and construction workers. Clean construction projects take steps to reduce diesel emissions on construction sites by prioritizing the use of new equipment with particulate filters and enforcing an anti-idling policy.
Before 1996, diesel construction equipment had no emissions standards. The EPA adopted standards for diesel engines to reduce particle pollution by 90%. These standards have been phased in through 2015. While new engines meet the clean air standards there are still thousands of pieces of old equipment operating throughout North Carolina. But hospitals can include language in their bid contracts requiring cleaner equipment with modern pollution controls be used on site and limit unnecessary idling.
Transportation ChoicesAs our major cities in North Carolina see unprecedented growth resulting in congested roads and freeways, air pollution is a major source of urban air pollution.
Local governments struggle to create a variety of transportation choices which would allow residents to leave their cars at home as they move around the city.
Clean Air Carolina advocates for stronger regional land use and transportation planning, and against development of new highways that promote single use roadways and sprawl. We are urging local governments to embrace a common vision – to make every community in North Carolina less car-dependent and provide a full range of mobility options, including bicycle accommodations, city-wide greenways, light rail, commuter rail, and low-emission buses.
Clean Air Carolina is working directly with partners and staff to codify the Complete Streets Guidelines in our largest communities and at the state level to ensure that roadways are safe places for all forms of transportation and protects its most vulnerable users. We are also working to ensure the funding sources and the prioritization process represents fully the needs of our transportation system which includes facilities for bikes and pedestrians. A clean air solution we continue to prioritize is providing safe and sustainable transportation options that contribute to reducing our average miles traveled per vehicle and their emissions.
Strategic Transportation Partnerships
Environmental JusticeHistorically, people of color and those living in poverty have borne the greatest burden of exposure to environmental hazards in their communities, homes, workplaces and schools.
Such exposures come from landfills, industrial activities, and heavily-trafficked roadways that are built in low-income and minority communities. Protective amenities such as sidewalks and parks tend to be less available in these communities which exist in isolation from wealthier, white neighborhoods due to the history of institutionalized segregation.
Furthermore, climate change will more seriously affect the health of communities that are least likely to cope with, resist, and recover from the impacts of extreme weather events and potential increases in air pollution compared to the rest of the population. They are likely to be more seriously harmed by the economic shocks associated with climate change both in price increases for basic necessities (i.e., water, energy, and food) and by threats of job loss due to economic and climatic shifts that affect industries such as agriculture and tourism.
In 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared that “no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, governmental and commercial operations or policies.”
Clean Air Carolina agrees with the EPA. We are working to raise awareness of environmental justice issues and partnering with other organizations to address environmental justice impacts in policies affecting air quality and climate.