Posts Tagged ‘EPA’

Associated Press: Youths across US are suing states, federal government to force action against climate change

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

SEATTLE (AP) — They can’t vote yet, but dozens of young people want a say in the planet’s future, so minors nationwide have been suing states and the federal government in recent years to push action on climate change.

They say their generation will bear the brunt of global warming and that government at every level has an obligation to protect natural resources, including the atmosphere, as a “public trust” for future generations.

The Oregon-based nonprofit Our Children’s Trust has been leading efforts to file lawsuits or administrative petitions in every state and against the federal government. Some of the youth-led cases have been dismissed, while others are pending in states including Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Oregon.

“None of them have gotten to the finish line,” said Michael Gerrard, a professor and director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. “It’s an uphill climb. The U.S. courts have so far not wanted to set climate policy.”

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Chicago Tribune: Smart thermostat program could cut energy bills

Friday, October 9th, 2015

Looking to move energy savings beyond light bulbs, a coalition of utilities, environmental groups and government agencies announced a new Chicago-area heating and cooling program Thursday that they said could lower some electricity and gas bills by more than $100 a year.

The initiative hinges on residential customers buying so-called “smart” thermostats, which are Wi-Fi-enabled devices that automatically adjust heating and air conditioning when people are at home or away. They also allow homeowners to change settings remotely through cellphones and other devices.

“This is a game changer,” Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center in Chicago, said at a media event to launch the program. “The leap from traditional, manual thermostats to smart thermostats like this is akin to going from telegraphs to 4G. It’s like going from a Model T to a Tesla.”

Learner was joined by consumer advocates, utility executives and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, who has been promoting the Obama administration’s recent actions to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases blamed for warming the world’s climate.

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Time: EPA Proposes New Rules to Cut Climate Change-Causing Methane Emissions

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed Tuesday dramatic cuts to methane gas emissions from the country’s oil and gas industry, part of a broader White House push to address climate change. The regulations, the first ever of their kind, play a key role in the Obama administration’s goal of cutting overall methane emissions by 40 to 45% over the next decade from 2012 levels.

The proposed rule will directly lead to a 20 to 30% reduction in methane emissions from the energy industry, Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, said on a conference call for journalists. The EPA did not specify how the U.S. plans to make the further methane cuts needed to reach Obama’s 40 to 45% goal.

Methane, the key component of natural gas, is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted by human activity, and pound for pound, has more than 25 times greater an effect on climate change than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. (Over the long term, the differences between the two gases narrow, because CO2 remains in the atmosphere much longer than methane.) Leaks from the oil and natural gas industry make up nearly 30% of methane emissions in the United States, with the rest coming from agriculture and landfills, among other sources.

In recent years, the rapid increase in hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, has fed concern over methane emissions. Oil and gas producers emit methane gas as a byproduct in the fracking process, as well as through leaky pikes and other faults in the energy supply chain. A number of recent studies have suggested that the oil and gas industry releases more methane into the environment than previously recognized, four times as much by some accounts. Natural gas gathering and processing facilities leak about 100 billion cubic feet of natural gas annually, according to a study released Tuesday.

The EPA announcement calls for new standards at fracking wells, natural gas processing sites and other spots subject to leaks.

“Today, through our cost-effective proposed standards, we are underscoring our commitment to reducing the pollution fueling climate change and protecting public health while supporting responsible energy development, transparency and accountability,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in a statement.

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Inside Climate News: 49 States Making Plans for EPA Carbon Rule—Even the Ones That Hate It

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

The Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to finalize the rules on carbon emissions from power plants are still several months away. But most states, even those challenging the agency in court, are already investigating ways to comply.

The EPA expects 49 states to submit plans once the rules are finalized. The non-partisan group Great Plains Institute for Sustainable Development, which has been organizing talks in the Midwest on the Clean Power Plan, says 41 states have joined regional groups exploring options to comply with the rule.

“My guess would be all 49 are,” said Doug Scott, a vice president at the Great Plains Institute. “Whether they’re part of formalized groups or not, all the states are trying to figure out what the best options are.”

Many of these states have been staunchly opposed to the rule. Twelve have sued the EPA, claiming the rule is unlawful and amounts to a federal power grab. And at least half a dozen other states have set up legislative hurdles for the environmental agencies in charge of putting together a compliance plan.

Yet, the vast majority of state agencies charged with drafting a compliance plan have sidestepped these political fights and begun work on plans that might meet the EPA’s carbon reduction targets.

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Bloomberg Business: EPA Nears Decision on Aircraft Emissions’ Risk to Climate

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has proposed carbon dioxide limits on coal-fired power plants, is nearing a decision on whether to regulate aircraft emissions in response to global warming.

The federal agency is scheduled to issue a determination this month on burning jet fuel and its potential danger to human health by increasing the risks of climate change.

Such a finding “may open the door for meaningful regulation,” said Joel Finkelstein, a spokesman for Climate Advisers, a Washington-based group that advocates for carbon limits. He said a decision could come as soon as this week and he believes the agency will conclude that aircraft emissions endanger the climate.

Environmental groups such as Oceana, Friends of the Earth, the Center for Biological Diversity and Earthjustice petitioned the agency in 2007 to take action. The EPA issued a finding in 2009 that greenhouse gases were a danger to public health, part of the agency’s effort to establish fuel-economy standards for automobiles and trucks. The same finding was used last year in proposing regulations for power-plant emissions.

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