Visiting Scholar, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, University of California, Berkeley
As we begin a new year, I am struck by the incredible power and potential of a decade. Ten years ago, I joined PSE Healthy Energy to lead as its first executive director. At that time, our team of three scientists were inspired to build upon the cutting-edge research of our founders, which had helped draw attention to methane’s role in climate change.
Over the past decade, the urgency of climate change has made the need for clear, actionable research on energy systems impacts greater than ever. I am proud to say that PSE is rising to meet the challenge. Today, our fast-growing team includes over 25 scientists who hail from the nation’s leading research institutions and bring diverse expertise in climate, public health, engineering, environmental science, and medicine.
Our commitment to bring science to energy policy has helped shape energy systems throughout the United States. In 2022 alone, PSE research:
- Informed California’s nation-leading 3,200 foot setback between communities and oil and gas wells. The landmark legislation was drawn from the recommendations of a team of national health experts, including PSE scientists, and based on a large body of scientific research.
- Contributed analysis that helped lead to a landmark settlement with a Michigan utility, whose final Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) eliminated three of four proposed gas plant acquisitions and retired two coal plants five years earlier than planned. According to our analysis, each year that the coal plants are not operating will save 40-90 lives and $430-$972 million. PSE researchers also collaborated in drafting updated filing requirements, approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission in October, which will ensure that similar health and equity analysis is included in future IRPs.
- Alerted thousands of Americans to the health risks associated with natural gas leaks from gas stoves after studies from PSE researchers gained significant national media coverage, including in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, and CBS News.
Climate science has shown that our children’s future will be written by the collective actions of the next decade. Ten years can feel dauntingly short, yet I remain inspired by the power of a few to change the minds of many. As we look ahead, I believe with our unique mission—to generate science-based energy and climate solutions that protect public health and the environment—and our proven experience bringing science to energy policy, we will continue to increase our impact.
I’d like to sincerely thank our collaborators, funders, colleagues and everyone else who uses our work to bring science to energy policy.
Seth B.C. Shonkoff, PhD, MPH