Posts Tagged ‘EPA’

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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For EPA’s Global Warming Rules, Will ‘Next Year’ Mean ‘Never’?

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

EPA’s new budget plan says the agency hopes to make critical—and controversial—decisions about its effort to regulate greenhouse gases by the end of fiscal 2015.

Specifically, the budget says the agency hopes to determine whether it should craft carbon-emissions standards for several big industrial pollution sources—notably refineries, but also pulp and paper facilities, iron and steel production, and few other categories.

But if the pledges about expanding climate rules sounds familiar to EPA-watchers, they should: The fiscal 2014 plan said the same thing about a decision on the rules, and the fact that the agency has now moved these decisions to its 2015 budget suggests that determinations in 2014 are probably not in the cards.

Now, with the clock winding down on the Obama administration, experts say it’s unclear whether EPA will craft carbon-emissions standards for any big stationary pollution sources beyond power plants—or even if it has enough time or resources left to do so.

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How the U.S. Exports Global Warming

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

The greening of American energy is both real and profound. Since President Obama took office, the nation’s solar capacity has increased more than tenfold. Wind power has more than doubled, to 60,000 megawatts – enough to power nearly 20 million homes. Thanks to aggressive new fuel-efficiency standards, the nation’s drivers are burning nearly 5 billion fewer gallons of gasoline a year than in 2008. The boom in cheap natural gas, meanwhile, has disrupted the coal industry. Coal-power generation, though still the nation’s top source of electricity, is off nearly 20 percent since 2008. More than 150 coal plants have already been shuttered, and the EPA is expected to issue regulations in June that will limit emissions from existing coal facilities. These rules should accelerate the shift to natural gas, which – fracking’s risks to groundwater aside – generates half the greenhouse pollution of coal.

But there’s a flip side to this American success story. Even as our nation is pivoting toward a more sustainable energy future, America’s oil and coal corporations are racing to position the country as the planet’s dirty-energy dealer – supplying the developing world with cut-rate, high-polluting, climate-damaging fuels. Much like tobacco companies did in the 1990s – when new taxes, regulations and rising consumer awareness undercut domestic demand – Big Carbon is turning to lucrative new markets in booming Asian economies where regulations are looser. Worse, the White House has quietly championed this dirty-energy trade.

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