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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Cap & Trade Should Not Be Designed To Raise Prices

There is speculation among economists and some energy experts that free allocation of allowances will still lead to an increase in energy prices. Of course, external factors could also affect energy prices. The price of oil is rising again and that can affect the prices of other energy types and services. Regardless, the cap and trade program should be designed to achieve efficiencies without unduly raising energy prices. The Center supports the production of abundant supplies of energy distributed at reasonable prices. The point of the program should be to reduce greenhouse gases, but hopefully not by using price to force reductions. The program should spur innovation in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In the legislative version that passed the House energy committee, lawmakers give away 85 percent of the emissions permits in the early years of the cap-and-trade program. The remaining 15 percent of permits will be auctioned.

The largest share of the free permits, 35 percent, goes to the electric utility industry in 2012 and 2013. More specifically, 30 percent is given to local companies that distribute power to residences and businesses. The sector's free permit portion shrinks every few years after. The allowances phase out completely between 2026 and 2030.

Another 16 percent of the free allowances goes to R & D for renewables.

The next biggest share of free permits, 15 percent, goes to energy-intensive industries with international competition, including steel, paper and cement makers. Those free allowances start in 2014 and drop by about 2 percent per year, ending in 2025.

Natural gas distribution companies get 9 percent of the allowances in the early years, with allowances ending between 2026 and 2030.

The smallest and shortest-lived number of allowances goes to oil refiners, who get 2 percent starting in 2014. Their allowances end in 2016.

The rest of the free allowances are divided among the auto industry, efforts to capture and sequester carbon emissions, clean energy efforts, work to prevent deforestation, and adaptation programs.

EPA believes that price pressure could be lessened if businesses chose to buy green offsets instead of allowances to emit carbon. However, it is not clear how many offsets will be available or whether Congress or EPA will restrict their use.

Anyone should be allowed to hold and trade allowances as is the case in the Acid Rain Program.

(NYT, 5/29/09)

Green The Capitol Initiative

The Green the Capitol Iniative described in a Final Report submitted to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on June 21, 2007 recommends that the House adopt three goals for future operations:

1) Operate the House in a carbon-neutral manner by the end of the 110th Congress

2) Reduce the carbon footprint of the House by cutting energy consumption by 50% in 10 years

3) Make House operations a model of sustainability
Total Energy Use for House
Buildings by End Use
Total 2006 Carbon Dioxide-Equivalent
Emissions for House Buildings

Using data developed by the Government Accountability Office, and reviewed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, it is estimated that the operation of the House complex was responsible for approximately 91,000 tons1 of CO2-e emissions in fiscal year 2006. This value is equivalent to the annual CO2-e emissions of 17,200 cars.2 The pie chart shows the sources for the CO2-e emissions for the House buildings by fuel type. Electricity is purchased from the local utility and provided directly to the buildings. Heating and cooling for the buildings is provided by the Capitol Power Plant (CPP), located on site. The CPP no longer produces electricity.

Three strategies are recommended to achieve carbon neutrality for the House buildings:

1. Purchase electricity generated from renewable sources

2. Switch from using coal, oil, and natural gas at the CPP to natural gas only

3. Purchase offsets for the remaining carbon emissions

Although the plans are admirable, we believe they are unattainable (except for purchasing carbon offsets). Unfortunately the Speaker announced that she was suspending such purchases.

Center suggestion: Build a separate hydrogen fuel cell-powered plant and use the fossil plant as emergency backup.

Light Bulbs: Incandescents, Fluorescents & LEDs

Thomas Edison introduced his incandescent bulb in 1879. It is highly inefficient, generating 90% heat and 10% light. It has been said that "The only thing worse is a candle flame." The spiral-shaped compact fluorescent produces the same amount of light as the incandescent with one-quarter the energy. The incandescent lasts for years, provides light in an array of hues, and, by lowering electricity bills, pays for itself in about seven months. The light-emitting diode, costs even more but lasts far longer than compact fluorescents. LED bulbs have been used mostly for consumer electronics and in commercial applications. The LED is eclipsing the compact fluorescent as the cutting-edge bulb. Wal-Mart Stores has started selling a consumer LED bulb that uses just seven watts of electricity and claims to last for more than 13 years. It costs around $35.

Lighting accounts for some 20% of residential electricity use in the U.S., yet about 80% of all bulbs sold to U.S. consumers are incandescents, which often cost less than 25 cents apiece, about one-tenth the price of a compact fluorescent. Most people buy the cheapest bulb because they may not be cheap in the long run, but they are cheap for what people have in their wallets and purses. A recent federal law [Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007] will ban incandescent bulbs for most uses by 2014. It requires roughly 25 percent greater efficiency for light bulbs, phased in from 2012 through 2014. This effectively bans the sale of most current incandescent light bulbs.

Some want to use high electricity prices as a tool to force consumers to purchase the more efficient bulbs. We disagree. Innovation can occur without hurting the family budget. For instance, the national interest was served by using legislation to force the innovation. (WSJ, 5/29/09)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Vilsack Issues Temporary Order on "Roadless" Areas

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has issued a temporary order governing development in "roadless" areas of national forests, requiring all new projects to be approved by him personally. The directive provides decision-making authority to the Secretary over proposed forest management or road construction projects in inventoried roadless areas. The U.S. Forest Service is a division of USDA. The Obama administration and Congress will now try to create a permanent policy on roadless regions.

The U.S. Forest Service, with jurisdiction over the National Forests and Grasslands, makes decisions about what projects can take place on those lands. In simultaneously upholding and overturning the 2001 Clinton roadless rule, the courts have created confusion and made it difficult for the U.S. Forest Service to do its job. The directive will ensure that USDA can carefully consider activities in these inventoried roadless areas while long term roadless policy is developed and relevant court cases move forward.

This interim directive changes procedural requirements for Forest Service projects in inventoried roadless areas. It does not prevent the Secretary from either approving projects that he believes are in the interest of forest stewardship or prohibiting projects he believes are not. The Secretary will work closely with the US Forest Service to implement this interim directive. (Wash Post, 5/29/09, Dept of Agri)

President Obama Nominates Paul Anastas For EPA ORD

Paul Anastas, right, nominee for Assistant Administrator of the Office of Research and Development, is recognized nationally and internationally for his contributions to science and the environment – and has been called the "Father of Green Chemistry." He is the Director of the Yale Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering, and has served previously as Assistant Director for Environment in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President and Chief of the Industrial Chemistry Branch in EPA's Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. Throughout his career, Paul has published numerous scholarly articles and authored and edited ten books on the subject of science for environmental protection.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Constellation's Nuclear Power Ball Gamble on CC3

The New York Times points out the trouble Constellation Energy's partner Areva is having building a new nuclear plant in Finland in an article entitled, "In Finland, Nuclear Renaissance Runs Into Trouble." As the only environmental organization in the nation that openly supports nuclear power, we found the coverage 'intriguing.'

The Center supports a third reactor at Calvert Cliffs (CC3), but completely understands the war that is to come in order to get it built. If Constellation and Electricite de France/Areva do not adequately prepare for this war, not only will a third reactor not be built, it could be the death knell for the predicted nuclear renaissance. The article points out:

"After four years of construction and thousands of defects and deficiencies, the reactor’s 3 billion euro price tag, about $4.2 billion, has climbed at least 50 percent. And while the reactor was originally meant to be completed this summer, Areva, the French company building it, and the utility that ordered it, are no longer willing to make certain predictions on when it will go online."
Antinuclear activists will attack the foreign ownership (49.9%) and the fact that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has not yet approved the European (Evolutionary) Power Reactor (EPR) design under construction in Finland, which is the reactor type to be built at Calvert Cliffs. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley will also face a blistering assault for supporting CC3. We just wonder whether he will sustain his support. Our guess is that he will not if the withering attacks start to threaten his reelection. We also doubt that the industry knows how to fight this kind of ground war.

The times have changed significantly since we first came out in support for nuclear power in 2001. It is ironic that Calvert Cliffs was the first nuclear power plant in America to get its license renewed without much attention or controversy, but will now find itself on the front line in the battle for a nuclear renaissance .

NRC PROPOSED FY 2010 BUDGET OF $1.07 BILLION SENT TO CONGRESS

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has released its proposed Fiscal Year 2010 budget to Congress, requesting $1.07 billion to effectively regulate nuclear power plants and other users of nuclear materials in order to protect people and the environment. Details of the budget are available in NUREG-1100, Vol. 25, on NRC’s Web site at the Budget and Performance link at the bottom left-hand corner.

The budget includes $800 million for nuclear reactor safety, $205 million for nuclear materials and waste safety; $56 million for the high-level waste repository, and $10 million for the Inspector General. Compared to the FY 2009 budget, resources in FY 2010 for reactor safety increased by 1.5 percent and materials and waste safety increased by 6 percent. The budget breakdown is as follows:

Nuclear Reactor Safety - $248.3
Licensing Tasks - $237.4
License Renewal - $35.7
International Activities - 15.1
Reactor Oversight - $242.1
Incident Response - 21.1
Fuel Facilities - $49.5
Nuclear Material Users - $90.6
Decommissioning and Low-Level Waste - $37.3
Spent Fuel Storage & Transportation - $27.8
High-Level Waste Repository - $56.0

By law, the NRC recovers approximately 90 percent of its budget from user fees less an appropriation from the Nuclear Waste Fund (NWF) and other activities which are not fee recoverable. As a result the NRC’s FY 2010 budget request will be financed with approximately $887.2 million from user fees and the NWF, resulting in a net appropriation of approximately $183.9 million. This is an increase of $9 million over FY 2009.

Budget highlights are available in slides on NRC’s Web site. A hard copy of the detailed budget –sometimes called “The Green Book”– is available from the Office of Public Affairs, by calling (301) 415-8200 or e-mailing (Source: NRC)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pelosi Meets With China President Hu Jintao

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with President Hu Jintao, left, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Pelosi's China tour was to seek China's cooperation at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in December, which is expected to yield a new pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol in fighting global warming and climate change.

Center China Director Zhang Xiaoping
See Also Center China

Methane to Markets Partnership Still Effective For Climate

A molecule of methane
The Methane to Markets (M2M) partnership is comprised of more than 900 public and private sector organizations, as well as countries, including the European Commission. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that is more than 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide attrapping heat in the earth’s atmosphere. EPA estimates that within 10 years the Methane to Markets partnership program has the potential to reduce annual methane emissions by more than 180 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, approximately the annual emissions from 50 million cars.

EPA is co-hosting the second Methane to Markets Partnership Expo, to be held March 2-5, 2010, in New Delhi, India, along with the Government of India and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. The expo’s “International Methane Capture Marketplace” is the premier international forum devoted to the promotion of project opportunities and technologies related to methane recoveryand use. The call for presentations for this conference has just opened.

Methane to Markets promotes methane capture and use projects internationally through coordination with country partners, the privatesector, and non-governmental organizations, focusing on promotingmethane capture and use from four sources of methane: Agriculture(animal waste management), coal mines, landfills, and oil and gassystems. More information More information on the expo

$467 Million in Recovery Act Funding for Geothermal & Solar

President Obama and Department of Energy Secretary Stephen Chu today announced over $467 million from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to expand and accelerate the development, deployment, and use of geothermal and solar energy throughout the U.S. The funding represents a substantial down payment that will help the solar and geothermal industries overcome technical barriers, demonstrate new technologies, and provide support for clean energy jobs for years to come.

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy is a clean source of renewable energy that harnesses heat from the Earth for heating applications and electricity generation; geothermal plants can operate around the clock to provide significant uninterrupted "base load" electricity, or the minimum amount a power utility must provide to its customers.

The Recovery Act makes a $350 million new investment in this technology, dwarfing previous government commitments. Recovery Act funding will support projects in four crucial areas: geothermal demonstration projects; Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) research and development; innovative exploration techniques; and a National Geothermal Data System, Resource Assessment and Classification System.

Geothermal Demonstration Projects ($140 Million)

Funding will support demonstrations of cutting-edge technologies to advance geothermal energy in new geographic areas, as well as geothermal energy production from oil and natural gas fields, geopressured fields, and low to moderate temperature geothermal resources.

Enhanced Geothermal Systems Technology R & D ($80 Million)

Funding will support research of EGS technology to allow geothermal power generation across the country. Conventional geothermal energy systems must be located near easily-accessible geothermal water resources, limiting its nationwide use. EGS makes use of available heat resources through engineered reservoirs, which can then be tapped to produce electricity.

Innovative Exploration Techniques ($100 Million)

Funding will support projects that include exploration, siting, drilling, and characterization of a series of exploration wells utilizing innovative exploration techniques. Exploration of geothermal energy resources can carry a high upfront risk. By investing in and validating innovative exploration technologies and methods, DOE can help reduce the level of upfront risk for the private sector, allowing for increased investment and discovery of new geothermal resources.

National Geothermal Data System, Resource Assessment, and Classification System ($30 Million)

The long-term success of geothermal energy technologies depends upon a detailed characterization of geothermal energy resources nationwide.

Solar Energy

DOE will provide $117.6 million in Recovery Act funding to accelerate widespread commercialization of clean solar energy technologies across America. These activities will leverage partnerships that include DOE's national laboratories, universities, local government, and the private sector, to strengthen the U.S. solar industry and make it a leader in international markets.

Photovoltaic Technology Development ($51.5 Million)

DOE will expand investment in advanced photovoltaic concepts and high impact technologies, with the aim of making solar energy cost-competitive with conventional sources of electricity and to strengthen the competitiveness and capabilities of domestic manufacturers.

Solar Energy Deployment ($40.5 Million)

Projects in this area will focus on non-technical barriers to solar energy deployment, including grid connection, market barriers to solar energy adoption in cities, and the shortage of trained solar energy installers.

Concentrating Solar Power R & D ($25.6 Million)

This work will focus on improving the reliability of concentrating solar power technologies and enhancing the capabilities of DOE National Laboratories to provide test and evaluation support to the solar industry.

For information on these and other Funding Opportunities under the Recovery Act, visit the U.S. Department of Energy's Recovery And Reinvestment Act page on Funding Opportunities.

DOE

Interesting House CO2 Allowance Allocation Proposal

Emission allowances will be allocated to accomplish three primary goals:

(1) to protect consumers from energy price increases;
(2) to assist industry in the transition to a clean energy economy; and
(3) to spur energy efficiency and the development and deployment of clean energy technology.

A small amount of allowances will be allocated to prevent deforestation and support national and international adaptation efforts and for other purposes.

Consumer Protection

Protection from Electricity Price Increases: The electricity sector will receive 35% of the allowances, representing 90% of current utility emissions. Local electric distribution companies, whose rates are regulated by the states, will receive 30% of the allowances, which they must use to protect consumers from electricity price increases. Merchant coal and long-term power purchase agreements will receive 5% of the allowances. These allowances will be distributed according to a formula recommended by the utility industry and will phase out over a five-year period from 2026 through 2030.

Protection from Natural Gas Price Increases: Local natural gas distribution companies, whose rates are regulated by the states, will receive 9% of allowances, which they must use to protect consumers from natural gas price increases. These allowances will phase out over a five-year period from 2026 through 2030.

Protection from Home Heating Oil Price Increases: States will receive 1.5% of allowances for programs to benefit users of home heating oil and propane. These allowances will phase out over a five-year period from 2026 through 2030.

Protection of Low- and Moderate-Income Households: 15% of allowances will be auctioned each year and the proceeds of these allowances will be distributed to low- and moderate-income families to protect them from other energy cost increases. These allowances will be distributed through tax credits, direct payments, and electronic benefit payments and will not phase out.

Transition Assistance for Industry

Protection for Energy-Intensive, Trade-Exposed Industries: Pursuant to the Inslee-Doyle program, energy-intensive, trade-exposed industries will receive allowances to cover their increased costs from the global warming protection program. The number of allowances set aside for this program will equal 15% of the allowances in 2014 and then decrease based on the percent reductions in the emissions targets. These allowances will phase out after 2025 unless the President decides the program is still needed.

Protection for Domestic Energy Production: Oil refiners will receive 2% of allowances starting in 2014 and ending in 2026.

Energy Efficiency and Clean Energy Technology

Investments in Carbon Capture and Sequestration: 2% of allowances from 2014 through 2017 and 5% of allowances in 2018 and subsequent years will be allocated to help electric utilities cover the costs of installing and operating carbon capture and sequestration technologies.

Investments in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency: States will receive 10% of allowances from 2012 through 2015; 7.5% of allowances in 2016 and 2017; 6.5% of allowances from 2018 through 2021; and 5% of allowances thereafter for investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. (The 5% of allowances from 2022 through 2025 will include some future year allowances.)

Investments in Advanced Automobile Technology: 3% of allowances through 2017 and 1% from 2018 through 2025 will be allocated for investments in electric vehicles and other advanced automobile technology and deployment.

Investments in Research and Development: 1% of allowances will be allocated to “Clean Energy Innovation Centers” at research universities and institutions for applied research and development on clean energy technologies.

Other Public Purposes

Supplemental Reductions from Preventing Tropical Deforestation: 5% of allowances will be allocated from 2012 through 2025 to prevent tropical deforestation and build capacity to generate international deforestation offsets. By 2020, this program will achieve additional emission reductions equivalent to 10% of U.S. emissions in 2005. From 2026 through 2030, 3% of allowances will be allocated to this program. In 2031 and thereafter, 2% will be allocated to this program.

Domestic Adaptation: From 2012 through 2021, 2% of allowances will be allocated for domestic adaptation purposes. The amount of allowances allocated for domestic adaptation will increase to 4% from 2022 through 2026 and to 8% in 2027 and thereafter. Half of these allowances will be used for wildlife and natural resource protection and half for other domestic adaptation purposes, including public health.

International Adaptation and Clean Technology Transfer: From 2012 through 2021, 2% of allowances will be allocated for international adaptation and clean technology transfer. The amount of allowances allocated for these purposes will increase to 4% from 2022 through 2026 and to 8% in 2027 and thereafter. Half of these allowances will be used for adaptation and half for clean technology transfer.

Worker Assistance and Job Training: 0.5% of allowances will be allocated for worker assistance and job training from 2012 through 2021. This amount will increase to 1% thereafter.

Unallocated Allowances

Some of the unallocated allowances will be auctioned to ensure budget neutrality. The remainder will be used for consumer protection
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Proposed Allowance Allocation, Chairman Henry A. Waxman and Chairman Edward J. Markey, May 14, 2009, [Chart: WSJ, 5/27/09]

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Poneman, Sandalow, Johnson, Koonin, Harris, & Triay

CONFIRMED The Senate confirmed six DOE nominees, including Deputy Secretary Daniel Poneman, Under Secretary for Energy Kristina Johnson, and Under Secretary for Science Steven Koonin. Also confirmed this week were Scott Blake Harris, General Counsel; David Sandalow, Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs; and Ines Triay, Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management.

Since 2001, Daniel B. Poneman was a Principal of The Scowcroft Group, an international business advisory firm based in Washington, D.C.

Kristina M. Johnson was previously the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs of Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Steven E. Koonin was previously Chief Scientist for BP, plc, where he was responsible for guiding the company's long-range technology strategy, particularly in alternative and renewable energy sources.

Scott Blake Harris was Managing Partner of Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP, a Washington, D.C. law firm with nationally known telecommunications, litigation, and appellate practices.

David Sandalow was most recently Energy & Environment Scholar and a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies Program of the Brookings Institution.

Dr. Ines Triay spent 14 years at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico before moving to the Department of Energy, first in the Carlsbad field office and then in the Washington, DC headquarters.

DOE

The Obama Administration and Car Batteries

Lithium-ion battery pack in CalCars'
EnergyCS/EDrive converted Prius
The Obama administration's Energy Department (DOE) has been soliciting applications for $2.4 billion in funding aimed at turning the U.S. into a battery-manufacturing leader. DOE received 165 applications. Some of the companies and states: General Motors, Dow Chemical, Johnson Controls, A123 Systems, Ener1, Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana and Massachusetts.

A 2008 study by researchers at Alliance Bernstein forecast the current $9 billion-a-year auto-battery market, based on lead-acid batteries, could reach more than $150 billion by 2030.
The companies and state governments are proposing sites for plants that will make lithium-ion batteries, the technology that has emerged as the leading choice to power future electric cars. The world-wide market for these types of power cells is now dominated by Sony, Panasonic and Toyota. Car makers currently use another technology -- nickel-metal-hydride batteries -- in hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Prius because they aren't as prone to fire as lithium-ion batteries are. Lithium-ion batteries are lighter and more powerful than lead or nickel-metal hydride batteries.

Massachusetts has a chance of landing federal funding because it has several in-state battery makers such as Boston Power Company. (WSJ, 5/26/09)

EPA To Hold Public Hearing on Fuels Standard

The EPA will hold a public hearing at the Dupont Hotel in Washington, DC on June 9 to take comment on the changes in the Renewable Fuels Standards.

The proposed changes will require an increased blend of ethanol or other biofuels to reach 36 billion gallons in the US transportation fuel mix by 2022, including 16 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuels, 4 billion gallons of advanced biofuels and 1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel.

Advanced biofuels, such as cellulosic ethanol, must also have lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions at least 50% lower than conventional fuels, and conventional biofuels from new production facilities must have 20% lover lifecycle emissions. Both of those issues drew howls from the ethanol industry and its supporters. Information about the hearings and a copy of the proposal (

Center Ready For Cap & Trade with own Trading House

Click on picture below to enter

Judge Sonia Sotomayor on the Environment & Energy

Judge Sonia Sotomayor, left, wrote an opinion in Riverkeeper v. EPA, 475 F.3d 83 (2d Cir. 2007), that the EPA was not permitted to engage in a cost-benefit analysis to determine “best technology available”; instead, it could consider cost only to determine “what technology can be ‘reasonably borne’ by the industry” and whether the proposed technology was “cost-effective” - which, she concluded, requires the EPA in turn to determine whether the technology at issue is “a less expensive technology that achieves essentially the same results” as the best technology that the industry could reasonably bear.

The case was a challenge to an EPA rule regulating cooling-water intake structures at power plants. To minimize the adverse impact on aquatic life (which could otherwise be trapped against the intake structure or, if small enough, sucked into the pipes themselves), the Clean Water Act requires the intake structures to use the “best technology available,” without specifying what factors the EPA should consider in determining what constitutes the “best technology available.”

Judge Sotomayor explained:


“assuming the EPA has determined that power plants governed by the Phase II Rule can reasonably bear the price of technology that saves between 100-105 fish, the EPA, given a choice between a technology that costs $100 to save 99-101 fish and one that costs $150 to save 100-103 fish. . . could appropriately choose the cheaper technology on cost-effectiveness grounds.”
On this issue, Sotomayor remanded to the EPA, finding it “unclear” how the EPA had arrived at its conclusions and, in particular, whether the EPA had improperly weighed costs and benefits.

Sotomayor also held that the EPA could not consider restoration measures - such as restocking fish to compensate for fish killed by an intake system - when determining the best technology available for a particular power plant. Sotomayor wrote that “[r]estoration measures are not part of the location, design, construction, or capacity of cooling water intake structures, and a rule permitting compliance with the statute through restoration measures allows facilities to avoid adopting any cooling water intake structure technology at all, in contravention of the Act’s clear language as well as its technology-forcing principle.” Finally, Sotomayor also determined that, at a minimum, EPA’s determination that the CWA provision at issue applies to existing and new facilities was a reasonable interpretation of the statute.

The industry plaintiffs filed petitions for certiorari, which the Supreme Court granted in April 2008 to review the cost-benefit issue. The Center attended the December 2 Oral Arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court. By a vote of 6-3, the Court reversed. In an opinion by Justice Scalia, the majority deemed “[i]t . . . eminently reasonable to conclude that” the CWA’s silence with regard to determining the best technology available “is meant to convey nothing more than a refusal to tie the agency’s hands as to whether cost-benefit analysis should be used, and if so to what degree.” [Source: Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) Blog], (Photo: Pace University)

More-Larry West, Larry's Environmental Issues Blog

Environment News Service

Monday, May 25, 2009

House Energy & Commerce Committee Passes Climate Bill

Henry Waxman
The Energy and Commerce Committee approved H.R. 2454, "The American Clean Energy and Security Act," by a vote of 33 to 25.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act will create millions of new clean energy jobs, save consumers hundreds of billions of dollars in energy costs, enhance America's energy independence, and cut global warming pollution. To meet these goals, the legislation has four titles:

1) A clean energy title that promotes renewable sources of energy, carbon capture and sequestration technologies, clean electric vehicles, and the smart grid and electricity transmission.
2) An energy efficiency title that increases energy efficiency across all sectors of the economy, including buildings, appliances, transportation, and industry.
3) A global warming title that places limits on emissions of heat-trapping pollutants. This legislation would cut global warming pollution by 17% compared to 2005 levels in 2020, by 42% in 2030, and by 83% in 2050.

4) A title that protects U.S. consumers and industry and promotes green jobs during the transition to a clean energy economy.
The legislation has received wide support from electric utilities; energy companies; manufacturing, industry, and corporate companies; labor unions; and community and environmental organizations. The Center supports the bill.

Copy of the bill and supporting documents

Summary of the May 18 markup

Summary of the May 19 markup

Summary of the May 20 markup

Summary of the May 21 markup

Zoi and Brinkman For DOE & Castle For Dept of Interior

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources is considering the following nominations this week:

Catherine Radford Zoi, of California, to be Assistant Secretary for Energy, Efficiency, and Renewable Energy, Department of Energy. Zoi is currently the Chief Executive Officer, Alliance for Climate Protection, formerly: Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Sustainable Energy Development Authority, Chief of Staff At the Council On Environmental Quality, Clinton-Gore Chief of Staff On Environmental Policy in the Administration of Clinton-Gore, Group Executive. M.S., Engineering Sciences, Dartmouth. B.S., Geology, Duke University.

William F. Brinkman, of New Jersey, to be Director of the Office of Science, Department of Energy. Currently a Senior Research Physicist in the Physics Department at Princeton University. He retired as Vice President, Research from Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies, Murray Hill, NJ. In that position his responsibilities included the direction of all research to enable the advancement of the technology underlying Lucent Technologies’ products. Previous to this position he was Physical Sciences Research Vice President and Vice President of Research at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, NM. William received his BS and Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Missouri in 1960 and 1965, respectively.

Anne Castle, of Colorado, to be Assistant Secretary of the Interior. Ms. Castle joined Holland & Hart LLP as a lawyer in 1981 and became a partner in 1987. She is a practitioner in water rights and water quality law, and has over twenty-five years of experience in water rights practice. She has represented a wide variety of clients in water court litigation, including adjudications of water rights, changes in water rights and plans for augmentation, and appeals. University of Colorado School of Law, J.D. 1981, University of Colorado, B.S. 1973.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

CAFE Does Not Serve Ethanol, But Are You Confused?

PRESIDENT'S CORNER

By Norris McDonald

Are you confused about the mileage standards you have been reading and hearing about in the news? Well don't feel special. We cover this stuff and the numbers are all over the map from various sources (including us). First, CAFE stands for Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards and automakers are required to average 27.5 mpg in the auto fleets they sell.

The confusion comes with the Obama Adminstration's announcement of moving up the target date established in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 from 2020 to 2016. They want us at, and here is where all kinds of numbers have been reported, 35.5 mpg by 2016. Yet we have seen quotes of 42 mpg and 39 mpg. The White House says 35.5 mpg so we will stick with that figure.

It is interesting that California is still leveraging its waiver request to set higher standards. California claims they will not seek to raise their standards above the national standard if they are granted a waiver to do so under the Clean Air Act. We think the governator 'will be back' with the higher standard after EPA gives them the waiver.

Rod Serling would be right at home with air and climate issues.

Calif Still Wants Waiver But Accepts National Standard

California agreed it would defer to the national standard and would not establish its own tougher emissions rule if it receives the waiver under the Clean Air Act that it's been seeking from the Environmental Protection Agency. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger attended The White House press announcing the movement of the target for achieving Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards from 2020 to 2016. The EPA hasn't made a final decision about the waiver.

Much of the reduction of gases that trap heat in the atmosphere would come from better fuel efficiency. Burning less fuel means a vehicle emits less carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. But improvements in cars mandated in the new standards also will reduce three other gases causing global warming - methane, nitrous oxide and hydrofluorocarbons.

The improvements will add several hundred dollars to the cost per vehicle but consumers will see savings in reduced fuel use, and people who buy cars on a 60-month loan might end up finding the slight increase in the monthly cost is made up in fuel savings, the official said, briefing reporters under White House rules that required anonymity.

According to the Obama administration, the program will save 900 million metric tons of greenhouse gases through 2016, the equivalent of shutting down 194 coal plants. The new standards will require all cars get cleaner. Previous CAFE standards allowed companies to offset less efficient cars by making some that were more efficient. The agreement came out of talks between automakers, California, the EPA and the Department of Transportation. The Bush administration denied the waiver to California, and the state remained adamant in seeking it. (KansasCity.com, 5/18/09)

U.S. DOE Decides on Calvert Cliffs 3 for Due Diligence

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has selected Constellation Energy for final due diligence and detailed negotiations for a proposed new nuclear facility at the company's Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Plant site in southern Maryland. This review is the first step in leading to a conditional commitment for a portion of $18.5 billion in federal loan guarantees. DOE's decision moves UniStar Nuclear Energy, a joint venture between Constellation Energy and Electricite de France (EdF), one step closer to developing an advanced nuclear reactor at Calvert Cliffs, creating thousands of jobs and emission-free electricity for Maryland and the region.

A new 1,600-megawatt reactor at Calvert Cliffs would represent one of the largest economic and industrial development projects in Maryland's history, and would provide enough clean, safe, reliable and emission-free electricity to power 1.3 million Maryland homes. It would play a meaningful role in helping to stimulate the region's economy and manufacturing sector through the addition of 4,000 construction, engineering and craft jobs and approximately 400 permanent positions. Finally, a new reactor at Calvert Cliffs would help Maryland and the nation meet environmental targets while adding needed round-the-clock capacity to meet growing demand for carbon-free energy. (TradingMarkets.com, 5/19/09)

President Obama Names Perciasepe & Fulton to EPA

President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals today: Robert Perciasepe, Nominee for Deputy Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency

Bob Perciasepe, right, has over 30 years of experience in environmental and Natural resources management, legislative and governmental affairs and creative problem solving. Perciasepe joined Audubon as Senior Vice President for Public Policy and head of the Washington, DC office in 2001. In 2004,he was named COO of Audubon, and in that capacity, he has been responsible for coordinating programs and support services throughout Audubon's national and state offices.

Prior to joining Audubon, Bob served as Assistant Administrator for the EPA, first serving as Assistant Administrator for Water, then Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation. From 1990 to 1993, Bob was Secretary of Environment and directed pollution control and environmental protection for the state of Maryland. Previously, he was Baltimore's Assistant Director of Planning, where he oversaw environmental and infrastructure planning and managed the capital budget for the city. Perciasepe holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resources from Cornell University and master's degree in planning and public administration from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University.

Colin Scott Fulton, Nominee for General Counsel, Environmental Protection Agency

On February 4, 2009, President Obama designated Colin Scott Fulton, left, to serve as Acting Deputy Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. In the 1980's, Fulton served as an environmental prosecutor and Assistant Chief in the Environment Division of the United States Department of Justice. From 1990 to 1995, Fulton held leadership positions in EPA's enforcement program, first as Director of Civil Enforcement and subsequently as Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator. From 1995 to 1999, he served as EPA's Principal Deputy General Counsel. From 1999 to 2007, he served as a Judge on EPA's Environmental Appeals Board. From August of 2007 until his designation as Acting Deputy Administrator, Fulton served as the Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of International Affairs. As such, he led EPA's international environmental policy development and program implementation and represented the United States in various international settings.

Fulton has served on an extended acting basis at the Assistant Administrator level or higher on four occasions, and has received the top two honor awards available to recognize excellence in federal Senior Executives - the Meritorious Presidential Rank Award and the Distinguished Presidential Rank Award.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Compromise Climate Bill Pleases Some While Miffing Others

The Waxman/Markey Climate Energy bill pleases President Obama, Virginia coal country Congressman Rick Boucher, most environmental groups, utilities, coal companies and other industry groups. There is still 11th hour wrangling over whether reductions should be 20%, 17% or 14% by 2020, but the House might just have legislation it can pass by its self-imposed Memorial Day deadline. President Obama wants to achieve an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050.

The Center can support this legislation even if the bar is eventually lowered to a 14% reduction. Although groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have already condemned the legislation, getting any climate legislation through Congress is almost a miracle. We are delighted that Waxman/Markey also took our advice and abandoned auctioning the allowances. This will keep utilitly bills from increasing and copies the successful Acid Rain Program, which allocated allowances free to utilities. We need to get started somewhere and the Waxman/Markey compromise is as good a place as any. The Senate will be a major mountain to climb. The Center's EDR Program is the way to go anyway and we hope some visionary in the Congress will read it and see its wisdom.

Center EDR is Best Carbon Capture Plan: Message To Chu

Although most of the Department of Energy's $2.4 billion in R&D funding for carbon capture and storage projects is useful, but President Obama , Secretary Chu, and Congress should heed our call for the establishment of Energy Defense Reservations (EDR) as the comprehensive answer to carbon dioxide capture and reuse.

The Department is posting Notices of Intent to issue this funding, supporting the following initiatives:

Clean Coal Power Initiative: $800 million will be used to expand DOE’s Clean Coal Power Initiative.

Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage: $1.52 billion for a two-part competitive solicitation for large-scale CCS from industrial sources.
Ramgen Modification ($20 million): industrial-sized scale-up and testing of an existing advanced CO2 compression project

Arizona Public Services Modification ($70.6 million): funding will permit the existing algae-based carbon mitigation project to expand testing with a coal-based gasification system.

Geologic Sequestration Site Characterization: $50 million to characterize a minimum of 10 geologic formations throughout the U.S.

Geologic Sequestration Training and Research: $20 million will be used to educate and train a future generation of geologists, scientists, and engineers.

All of these projects, except the geologic sequestration, complement our proposed EDR Program.

DOE Press Release

President Adjusts Timeline For Increasing CAFE Standards

President Obama wants to move up the timeline for raising the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards from the current 27.5 miles per gallon (mpg) to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 increase of 35.5 mpg from 2020 to 2016. In essence, the president's national restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles will move the date of efficiency compliance up by 4 years.

The new standards, covering model years 2012-2016, and ultimately requiring an average fuel economy standard of 35.5 mpg in 2016, are projected to save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the life of the program with a fuel economy gain averaging more than 5 percent per year and a reduction of approximately 900 million metric tons in greenhouse gas emissions. This would surpass the CAFE law passed by Congress in 2007 required an average fuel economy of 35 mpg in 2020. As a result of this agreement, it is projected that the nation will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of the vehicles sold in the next five years. (EPA)

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 provision:

TITLE I--ENERGY SECURITY THROUGH IMPROVED VEHICLE FUEL ECONOMY

Subtitle A--Increased Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards

SEC. 101. SHORT TITLE.

This subtitle may be cited as the ‘Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Act’.

SEC. 102. AVERAGE FUEL ECONOMY STANDARDS FOR AUTOMOBILES AND CERTAIN OTHER VEHICLES.

(a) Increased Standards- Section 32902 of title 49, United States Code, is amended--

(1) in subsection (a)--

(A) by striking ‘Non-Passenger Automobiles- ’ and inserting ‘Prescription of Standards by Regulation- ’;

(B) by striking ‘(except passenger automobiles)’ in subsection (a); and

(C) by striking the last sentence;

(2) by striking subsection (b) and inserting the following:

‘(b) Standards for Automobiles and Certain Other Vehicles-

‘(1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary of Transportation, after consultation with the Secretary of Energy and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, shall prescribe separate average fuel economy standards for--

‘(A) passenger automobiles manufactured by manufacturers in each model year beginning with model year 2011 in accordance with this subsection;

‘(B) non-passenger automobiles manufactured by manufacturers in each model year beginning with model year 2011 in accordance with this subsection; and

‘(C) work trucks and commercial medium-duty or heavy-duty on-highway vehicles in accordance with subsection (k).

‘(2) FUEL ECONOMY STANDARDS FOR AUTOMOBILES-

‘(A) AUTOMOBILE FUEL ECONOMY AVERAGE FOR MODEL YEARS 2011 THROUGH 2020- The Secretary shall prescribe a separate average fuel economy standard for passenger automobiles and a separate average fuel economy standard for non-passenger automobiles for each model year beginning with model year 2011 to achieve a combined fuel economy average for model year 2020 of at least 35 miles per gallon for the total fleet of passenger and non-passenger automobiles manufactured for sale in the United States for that model year.

This plan would also serve to appease California's desire to raise its standards beyond the 35 mpg range to meet its ambitious carbon dioxide emissions reductions. Moving the target date up should appeal to California, particularly since the automobile industry is struggling right now. CAFE standards were passed by Congress in 1975 in response to the 73/74 energy crisis and led to establishing the 27.5 mpg stardard for cars and 20.7 mpg for light trucks.

CEQ Announces Another Green Jobs Advisor - Jason Bordoff

White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chair Nancy Sutley announced today that Jason Bordoff, right, will serve as Associate Director for Climate Change at CEQ.

Prior to joining CEQ, Jason was the Policy Director of the Hamilton Project, an economic policy initiative housed at the Brookings Institution. Jason has written on a broad range of economic policy matters, with a focus on climate and energy, trade and globalization, and tax policy. During the Clinton Administration, Jason served as an advisor to the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School, holds an MLitt degree from Oxford University, and a Bachelor’s Degree from Brown University. (CEQ)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Obama Designates Gregory Jaczko Chairman of NRC

President Obama designated Gregory Jaczko, left, to be the new Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on May 13. He was first sworn in as a Commissioner on Jan. 21, 2005, and his term runs through June 2013. As Chairman, Dr. Jaczko is the principal executive officer of the NRC and its official spokesperson.

Dr. Jaczko replaces Dr. Dale E. Klein, right, as chairman. Dr. Klein was sworn into the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission July 2006. He was appointed Chairman by President George W. Bush and served in that role from July 1, 2006, to May 13, 2009. He is currently serving as a Commissioner.

Immediately prior to assuming the post of Commissioner, Dr. Jaczko served as appropriations director for U.S. Sen. Harry Reid and also served as the Senator's science policy advisor. He began his Washington, D.C., career as a congressional science fellow in the office of U.S. Rep. Edward Markey. In addition, he has been an adjunct professor at Georgetown University teaching science and policy. Born in Pennsylvania and raised in upstate New York, Dr. Jaczko earned a bachelor's degree in physics and philosophy from Cornell University, and a doctorate in physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Jaczko is married and resides in Washington, D.C.

Obama Nominates Moreno Assist AG for the Environment

President Barack Obama has nominated Ignacia S. Moreno, right, to be Assistant Attorney for the Environment and Natural Resources Division in the Department of Justice. Moreno is currently the corporate environmental counsel for General Electric.

She was general counsel for that Justice Department during the Clinton administration from 1994 until 2001 . Prior to joining GE in 2006, Moreno worked at the Washington law firm Spriggs & Hollingsworth, where she specialized in environmental and mass tort litigation. She began her career at Hogan & Hartson LLP, where she practiced with the firm's environmental and litigation groups.

The Center supports the nomination.

(Think Progress, NYT, 5/15/09)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

EPA's Jackson to Tour Wyoming Energy Sites with Governor

U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson is scheduled to join Governor Dave Freudenthal in a tour of several major energy production regions in Wyoming from May 20 through May 21.

Governor Freudenthal invited Administrator Jackson to the region and will show the Administrator a wind farm near Cheyenne, the Black Thunder Coal Mine in the Powder River Basin, and a natural-gas drilling operation in Pinedale.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

EPA's Jackson & Congressional Delegation To Tour Water Systems in the Netherlands

U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, members of Congress, state and local officials and others will go on a three day tour of the Netherlands’ comprehensive flood control system from May 26-28. EPA does work through several programs, such as smart growth and wetlands preservation, that focuse on flood mitigation.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 Amsterdam: Site visit and briefings.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 The Hague: Briefings

Thursday, May 28, 2009 Rotterdam: Site visits and briefings.

UPDATE (May 27, 2009)

May 27, 2009) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson is scheduled to co-lead the U.S. delegation at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) meeting. The OECD’s joint high level meeting of the Development Assistance Committee and the Environment Policy Committee will take place on May 28 and 29 in Paris, France. Administrator Jackson will share the U.S. lead with USAID Acting Administrator Alonzo Fulgham.

On Friday, May 29, Administrator Jackson will be a lead speaker in a discussion on low-carbon development and strategies for achieving a solution to climate change while reducing poverty and spurring economic development.

Senate Confirms DePass, Giles and Stanislaus for EPA

The U.S. Senate passed confirmations [5/12/09] for the following nominees at EPA:

Michelle DePass as Assistant Administrator for International Affairs,

Cynthia Giles as Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, and

Mathy Stanislaus for Assistant Administrator for Solid Waste and Emergency Response.

Congratulations all. The Center supported the nominations.

President Obama Nominates Craig E. Hooks for EPA OARM

President Obama announced his intent to nominate Craig E. Hooks to the post of Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resource Management (OARM). Craig Hooks has worked at EPA for 21 years. He has served in a wide variety of capacities, most recently as Acting Assistant Administrator for OARM.

Hooks is currently serving as the Acting Assistant Administrator for the OARM at EPA. OARM is responsible for governing the agency’s resources management including grants and contracts, human resources and facilities management. Other positions he has held at EPA include Director of the Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds within the Office of Water where he served as Chairman of the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force Coordinating Committee and EPA representative on the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, which is responsible for preservation and protection of coral reef ecosystems. Hooks has served as the Acting Principal Assistant Administrator in the Office of Environmental Information and the Director of the Federal Facilities Enforcement Office within the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance . Before joining EPA, Hooks worked at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as a physical scientist. Hooks received a Masters degree in Oceanography from the Texas A&M University and a Bachelor's degree in Zoology from the University of Florida.

EPA Takes Over Fly Ash Clean Up: Other Ponds Examined

On December 22, 2008, a fly ash retention pond earthen wall collapsed at the Kingston Fossil Plant spilling 1.2 billion gallons [5.4 million cubic yards] of wet coal sludge into the Emory and Clinch Rivers and 300 acres of nearby residential farmland. Waste ash generated at the plant in 2005 alone totaled 408,000 tons.

This week, the U.S. EPA took over cleanup of the Kingston spill under the Superfund law.

But Kingston isn’t the largest coal-waste producer among TVA’s coal plants. It came in fourth. TVA’s plant near Nashville produced 1.6 million tons of waste in 2005, while a Kentucky plant had more than 1 million tons and a plant in Alabama had just under 1 million tons. TVA's utility waste totals amount to less than 5 percent of the nation’s 126.3 million tons of coal waste.

The Tennessee Valley Authority has 11 coal-fired power plants that produce almost 6 million tons a year of coal waste and most of it has been stored in waste ponds or landfills.

State regulatory agencies, including the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, control how utilities dispose of coal ash from power plants, and the wastes have been treated as non-hazardous. In Tennessee, the spill has prompted the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to examine the landfills:

Cumberland Fossil Plant, northwest of Nashville, produced 1.6 million tons of coal waste in 2005. 83 percent of the waste was sold — mostly as gypsum for wallboard — and only 9.6 percent was landfilled. In Kingston, less than 1 percent of the waste was sold.

TVA's Paradise plant in Paradise, Kentucky, produced a little more than 1 million tons of coal waste in 2005 and reported selling 33 percent of it — again mostly gypsum.

The Widows Creek plant in Stevenson, Alabama, reported 955,500 tons of waste, but sold less than 1 percent. Widows Creek also was the site of a coal sludge spill this year, just three weeks after the Kingston spill.

One of the dangers of coal ash is the heavy metal contamination found in it, including: arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, lead, manganese, mercury and antimony.

According to published reports, TVA has spent in excess of $68 million in cleanup and $11 million in property acquisitions, to date, with total costs estimated at about $845 million, not including litigation, penalties and settlements. Assignment of the catastrophic spill under the Superfund law could actually protect the TVA from litigation. Although the spill site has not yet been officially added to the Superfund, the EPA move means that the fly ash spill clean up will occur under the auspices of Superfund regulations. The Superfund law—The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA)—federally bans legal challenges in such environmental cleanups. An environmental impact statement is required for cleanups under CERCLA. (Chattanooga Times, 5/13/09, NewsInferno, 5/13/09)

EPA & Japan Environment Ministry Hold Climate Workshop

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Japan’s Ministry of Environment (MOEJ) and Japan’s Institute for Global Environmental Strategies met May 11-12 to exchange information and expand collaboration on key climate change issues. The two-day workshop brought together representatives from EPA, MOEJ, and the U.S. State Department, as well as a number of non-governmental organizations, to review and discuss important approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Topics included greenhouse gas inventories and emissions forecasts, greenhouse gas reporting systems, greenhouse gas trading, economic modeling, land use and land use change and forestry, and addressing emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases.

The workshop also focused on identifying areas of future collaboration between EPA and MOEJ, with the two agencies agreeing to enhance collaboration on the Methane to Markets Partnership and on capacity building for greenhouse gas inventories. More information on climate change. More information on the Methane to Markets Partnership.

Waxman Still Wrong on Climate Allowance Auction

The Center supports cap and trade but believes the allowances should be allocated free just as they were in the very successful Acid Rain Program. President Obama wants 100% of the allowances sold to carbon dioxide (CO2) emitters. The president's 'sell plan' will never fly though because it is the utility equivalent of increasing the gasoline tax--the 3rd rail in Congressional politics. So House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, left, according to The Wall Street Journal:
"...has agreed to give away to electric utilities 35% of the emissions permits that would be created by the bill, at least initially, rather than require them to pay for the permits...auto makers initially would receive 3% of the permits free, and that certain trade-sensitive industries, such as aluminum, glass and steelmakers, initially would get 15% free."
This proposal is woefully inadequate. The 35% figure is way too low. All of the allowances should be allocated free, except for about 2% in order to evaluate the market for allowances, as was done in the Acid Rain Program. The auto proposal has it absolutely backwards too.

EPA Administrator Testifies In Senate on FY 2010 EPA Budget

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on the agency's FY 2010 Budget. Administrator Jackson stated:

"Madam Chairman [Barbara Boxer, right] and Members of the Committee, the FY 2010 budget request sets EPA on a clear path to accomplishing the important work Americans support to address the pressing environmental challenges facing our nation. We are honored to have the job of protecting human health and the environment. And, we are proud that this $10.5 billion funds investments in both our environmental and economic future."
[Full Statement]

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

OMB Director Corrects Media Accounts on EPA CO2 Finding

By Peter R. Orszag, Director

Media reports today are suggesting that OMB has found fault with EPA’s proposed finding that emissions of greenhouse gases from motor vehicles contribute to air pollution that endangers public health and welfare. Any reports suggesting that OMB was opposed to the finding are unfounded.

The quotations circulating in the press are from a document in which OMB simply collated and collected disparate comments from various agencies during the inter-agency review process of the proposed finding. These collected comments were not necessarily internally consistent, since they came from multiple sources, and they do not necessarily represent the views of either OMB or the Administration. In other words, we simply receive comments from various agencies and pass them along to EPA for consideration, regardless of the substantive merit of those comments. In general, passing along these types of comments to an agency proposing a finding often helps to improve the quality of the notice.

Perhaps more importantly, OMB concluded review of the preliminary finding several weeks ago, which then allowed EPA to move forward with the proposed finding. As I wrote on this blog on April 17, the "proposed finding is carefully rooted in both law and science." I also noted: "By itself, the EPA’s proposed finding imposes no regulation. (Indeed, by itself, it requires nothing at all.) If and when the endangerment finding is made final, the EPA will turn to the question whether and how to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new automobiles."

The bottom line is that OMB would have not concluded review, which allows the finding to move forward, if we had concerns about whether EPA’s finding was consistent with either the law or the underlying science. The press reports to the contrary are simply false. (OMB Blog)

Monday, May 11, 2009

President Requests $882 Million for Fossil Energy Programs

President Obama’s FY 2010 budget seeks $881.6 million for the Office of Fossil Energy (FE) to support improved energy security and rapid development of climate-oriented technology. The request includes $617.6 million for Fossil Energy Research and Development, $229.0 million for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, $11.3 million for the Northeast Heating Oil Reserve and $23.6 million for the Naval Petroleum Reserves.

Go to FY 2010 Fossil Energy Budget Chart

Additionally, the FE R&D program will be complemented by $3.4 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. These funds will be used to advance research, development and deployment of carbon capture and storage technologies.

The Office of Fossil Energy’s programs support the President’s top initiatives for climate change mitigation, advanced coal research, and energy security. Specifically, the Office of Fossil Energy will:

Partner with industry and others to advance efficient and near-zero emissions fossil energy technologies for widespread deployment and commercialization;
Manage and carry out research that reduces market barriers to the reliable, efficient, and environmentally sound use of fossil fuels for power generation and conversion to other fuels, including hydrogen; and
Maintain the strength and viability of U.S. petroleum reserves – in particular, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve – to provide energy security in the event of a severe supply disruption.

[DOE - Fossil Energy]

EPA Rolls Out Renewable Fuel Standard, Lifecycle Analysis

EPA's Lisa Jackson, joined by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and Energy Secretary Stephen Chu, proposed its strategy for increasing the supply of renewable fuels, poised to reach 36 billion gallons by 2022, as mandated by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Several issues include, for the first time, some renewable fuels must achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions compared to the gasoline and diesel fuels they displace. Refiners must meet the requirements to receive credit toward meeting the new standards. The thresholds for new categories would be 20% less greenhouse gas emissions for renewable fuels produced from new facilities, 50% less for biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuels and 60% less for cellulosic biofuels.

EPA also will conduct peer-reviews on the lifecycle analysis of the four renewable fuel categories. Lifecycle GHG emissions are the aggregate quantity of GHGs related to the full fuel cycle, including all stages of fuel and feedstock production and distribution, from feedstock generation and extraction through distribution and delivery and use of the finished fuel. The lifecycle GHG emissions of the renewable fuel are compared to the lifecycle GHG emissions for gasoline or diesel (whichever is being replaced by the renewable fuel) sold or distributed as transportation fuel in 2005.

One thing EPA did not address was increasing the ethanol blend, currently limited at 10%. Ethanol proponents had asked that to increase from anywhere between 11-20%. Refiners continue to raise concerns about commercial viability, product liability and the lack of adequate scientific review with regard to mandated increased quantities of ethanol remain unresolved. They added that the comment period should shed more light on these problems. They also encourage EPA to seriously and transparently consider the concerns raised by fuel, public health, environmental, and engine manufacturing interests as it proceeds toward finalizing guidelines for RFS implementation.

One area ethanol advocates will engage EPA is over the issue of lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions related to the production and use of ethanol, especially EPA's calculation of indirect emissions that occur as a result of purported land use changes. Ethanol proponents say the science of market-mediated, secondary impacts is very young and needs more reliance on verifiable data, and less reliance on unproven assumptions. The 60-day comment period on this proposal will begin when it appears in the Federal Register. During the comment period EPA will hold a public workshop on lifecycle analysis to assure full understanding of the analyses conducted, the issues addressed and the options that are discussed. (More)

[Source: Frank Maisano]

Calvert Cliffs 3 Nuclear Project [Update 1]

The Center will provide periodic updates on the Calvert Cliffs 3 Nuclear Project, LLC and UniStar Nuclear Operating Services, LLC (Calvert Cliffs 3 or CC-3) because it is probably the most feasible project for getting the first new nuclear power plant built in the United States within the next ten years.

1) The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) traveled to the site on Feb 24-25, 2009 to tour the facility, meet with applicant's staff and to examine key geological features of the site.

2) On April 17, 2009, the NRC held a Category 1 public meeting to discuss intake structure relocation, geotechnical issues and seismic analysis issues.

3) On May 8, NRC held a Category 1 public meeting to discuss the alternative siting process for the proposed CC-3 Combined License (COL) application.

In September 2005, Constellation Energy and AREVA, Inc. launched UniStar Nuclear, LLC – a joint enterprise formed to introduce the advanced design Evolutionary Power Reactor (or European Pressurized Reactor) (EPR) to the U.S. market.

In July 2007, Electricite de France (EdF) signed an agreement with the US energy company Constellation Energy to create, UniStar Nuclear Energy, a 50/50 joint-venture. This joint-venture will provide the framework to enable the joint development, deployment, ownership and operation fo nuclear power plants in the USA. EdF is currently awaiting final approval from the Maryland Public Service Commission for the purchase of 49.9% of Constellation's nuclear unit. The Center supports the acquisition and the construction of CC-3.

In 2004, ten electricity generators, including EDF, created Nustart. The objective of this company is to complete the engineering designs for new nuclear reactors, and to obtain a combined construction and operation licence for the USA. The eight companies comprising Nustart include: 1) DTE Energy, 2) Duke Energy, 3) EDF, 4) Entergy, 5) Exelon, 5) FPL Group, 6) Progress Energy, 7) SCANA Corporation, 9) Southern Company, & 10) TVA.

EDF, headquartered in Paris, is the main electricity generation and distribution company in France. EDF is one of the world's largest producers of electricity. In 2003 it produced 22% of the European Union's electricity, primarily from nuclear power: nuclear: 74.5%, hydroc: 16.2%, thermal: 9.2%, wind power and other renewable sources: 0.1%. Its 58 active nuclear reactors (in 2004) are spread out over 20 sites (nuclear power plants). Until November 19, 2004, it was a government corporation, but it is now a limited-liability corporation under private law (société anonyme). The French government partially floated shares of the company on the Paris Stock Exchange in November 2005, although it retains almost 85% ownership as of the end of 2008. (Wiki)

AREVA is headquartered in Paris, France with its U.S. headquarters located in Bethesda, Maryland. AREVA has 75,000 employees worldwide with 5,000 in the United States in 40 locations. AREVA is a French public multinational industrial conglomerate that is mainly known for nuclear power. It was created on September 3, 2001, by the merger of Framatome and Cogema (now AREVA NC). Its main shareholder is the French owned company CEA, but the German company Siemens also retains 34% of the shares of AREVA's subsidiary, AREVA NP, in charge of building the European Pressurized Reactor. The parent company is incorporated under French law as a public corporation and is also recognized as a corporation in American jurisdictions. The French State owns more than 90%. (Wiki)