Loading...

Monday, January 31, 2011

EPA Proposes To Retain Carbon Monoxide Standard

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to keep the current national air quality standards for carbon monoxide (CO). EPA has preliminarily concluded that the current standards will protect people, especially those susceptible to health problems associated with breathing CO from the outdoor air. CO can cause harmful health effects by reducing oxygen delivery to the body’s organs (like the heart and brain) and tissues. At extremely high levels, CO can cause death.

The current health standards are 9 parts per million (ppm) measured over 8 hours, and 35 ppm measured over 1 hour. The proposed changes would require a more focused monitoring network with CO monitors placed near highly trafficked roads in urban areas with populations of 1 million or more. The data from these sites would be available for scientific studies that could help inform future reviews of the standard.

EPA estimates that the proposal would require approximately 77 CO monitors in 53 urban areas. EPA expects that states would not need to purchase new monitoring equipment. They could relocate some of their existing CO monitors to the near-road monitoring stations already required in connection with the revised nitrogen dioxide standards issued in January 2010. CO monitors at the new locations would be required to be operational by January 1, 2013.

CO is a colorless, odorless gas emitted from combustion processes. Nationally and, particularly in urban areas, the majority of CO emissions come from motor vehicles.

EPA will accept comments for 60 days after the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register. If requested, the agency will hold a public hearing on the proposed rule on Feb. 18, 2011. EPA will take final action by Aug. 12, 2011.

More information

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Life Force: Body Balance with SeaNine

PRESIDENT'S CORNER

By Norris McDonald

I met Karen Jones when I was on a scoping visit to Santa Catalina Island. In chatting about my asthma, she mentioned a liquid food supplement that she said could possibly help in mitigating my asthmatic condition.  When she contacted me, I decided to try the supplement.  Interestingly, it evidently helped in significantly improving my asthma.  I no longer have to take a theophylline tablet every day (for the past 20 years). Of course, I've been walking 4 miles a day and doing 100 stomach crunches a day too.  What interested me about the supplement was the implication of 'drinking' aloe vera.  I already knew about the external uses of the plant, but the thought of drinking it never occurred to me.  Drinking the sea vegetables appealed to me too. Anyway, the results have been good enough for me to personally recommend the product.

Body Balance with SeaNine: a phytonutrient-rich blend of aloe vera and nine sea vegetables: Fucus vesiculosus, Chondrus crispus, Ascophyllum nodosum, Laminaria digitata, Porphyra yezoensis, Palmaria palmata, Ulva lactuca, Alaria esculenta, Gigartina chamissoi.  Other ingredients include honey, citric acid, Potassium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate (to preserve freshness) and purified Stevia Extract (leaf).  (Lifeforce)

Friday, January 28, 2011

EPA To Hold 5 Listening Sessions on Power Plants, Refineries

EPA to Hold Five Listening Sessions on Updating the Clean Air Act’s Pollution Standards for Power Plants, Refineries

Sessions seek input to design common-sense, cost-effective greenhouse gas standards for largest polluters

Center Note: The sessions will provide additional input before a court order forces EPA to finalize regs

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold five listening sessions to help the agency update the Clean Air Act pollution standards to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution from fossil fuel power plants and petroleum refineries. The listening sessions will be open to the public and will help EPA develop a common-sense approach to reduce GHGs from two of the largest industrial pollution sources, which are responsible for nearly 40 percent of the GHG pollution in the United States. Reducing greenhouse gas pollution can also result in reductions to other harmful air pollutants emitted by these facilities.

The agency is in the process of gathering information and seeking important input and, as part of a settlement agreement announced December 23, 2010, will propose GHG standards based on existing technologies for power plants in July 2011 and for refineries in December 2011. The agency will issue final standards in May 2012 and November 2012, respectively.

In addition to these GHG New Source Performance Standards the agency is also addressing other pollutants, including mercury and particle pollution, in separate, coordinated actions.

The feedback from these sessions will play an important role in helping EPA develop smart, cost-effective and protective standards that reflect the latest and best information available. The agency will solicit additional public comment during the usual notice and comment period – including the opportunity for a formal public hearing – after the proposals have been published and before they go into effect.

Each listening session is scheduled to last two hours and will feature a facilitated round table discussion among stakeholder representatives who have been identified and selected for their expertise in the Clean Air Act standard-setting process. The agency has asked key stakeholder groups to identify these round table participants.

Registration is not required to attend the sessions. There will be a short period of time at the end of each session for the public to provide comments. The March 4 session will allow additional time for the public to provide feedback. To speak during these times, please notify EPA when signing in to the session. If you do not have the opportunity to speak during these times or you cannot make it to the sessions, written comments on these planned rulemakings may also be submitted. The agency requests that written comments be submitted by March 18, 2011.

For interested persons who are not able to attend the sessions, each session will be webcast and recorded for later viewing via the EPA website.

More information and instructions for submitting written comments

Listening Sessions

Session 1: Electric Power Industry Representatives
Date: Feb. 4
Time: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Session Location: Washington, D.C.

EPA Ariel Rios East Building
1301 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Room 1153
Washington, D.C.

Session 2: Environmental and Environmental Justice Organization Representatives
Date: Feb. 15
Time: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Session Location: Atlanta, Ga.
Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center
61 Forsyth Street, S.W.
Atlanta/Augusta Room
Atlanta, Ga.

Session 3: State and Tribal Representatives
Date: Feb. 17
Time: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Session Location: Chicago, Ill.
Ralph Metcalfe Federal Building
77 West Jackson Blvd.
Lake Michigan Room
Chicago, Ill.

Session 4: Coalition Group Representatives
Date: Feb. 23
Time: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Session Location: Washington, D.C.
EPA Ariel Rios East Building
1301 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Room 1153
Washington, D.C.

Session 5: Petroleum Refinery Industry Representatives
Date: March 4
Time: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and public comments 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Session Location: Washington, D.C.
EPA Ariel Rios East Building
1301 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Room 1153
Washington, D.C.

(EPA)

Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference


Now in its fourth year, the 2011 Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference — February 8-10 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. — is a forum for sharing ideas and strategies to build a green economy that creates good jobs, reduces global warming and confronts other environmental problems, and preserves America’s economic and environmental security.

The 2011 Conference — brought together thousands of labor, environmental, business, elected and community leaders — and focused putting into practice the ideas and strategies for a new green economy — and creating good green jobs — around the country.

This year’s Conference featured plenary sessions focused on generating a clean energy agenda that creates good jobs and revitalizes the middle class, building the movement between union members and environmentalists, and securing safe, clean and sustainable cities and communities across America.

Speakers include EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison, National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, Vice President Biden’s Chief Economic and Economic Advisor Jared Bernstein, Center for American Progress President and CEO John Podesta, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker, National Radio Talk Show Host and Author Bill Press, and WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi.

The Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference is presented by the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation, a non-profit, 501 (c)(3) organization that conducts research and educates the public and media about solutions to environmental challenges that create economic opportunities for the American people.

The BlueGreen Alliance Foundation works with the BlueGreen Alliance — a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations dedicated to expanding the number and quality of jobs in the green economy — to achieve its mission. More information about the BlueGreen Alliance.

Cheniere Energy Partners To Export Liquefied Natural Gas

Cheniere Energy Partners, L.P. subsidiary, Sabine Pass Liquefaction, LLC

Charif Souki, the chairman and chief executive of Cheniere Energy is investing $3 billion in upgrades at his liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in Lousiana to export it in its liquid form. He is betting that he can profitably export cheap American natural gas to Europe and Asia, where prices are roughly twice as high. Cheniere plans to install two to four giant refrigeration units capable of cooling methane gas into liquid for shipment on giant cargo ships. Currently, only one American terminal, built in Alaska 30 years ago, can do that. Mr. Souki plans to start exporting gas as early as 2015.

He predicts he will eventually be able to export two billion cubic feet of liquefied natural gas a day from his facility, or about 3 percent of current domestic gas production. So far, investors like his ideas and have  rewarded Cheniere’s stock with a modest purchases. At today’s prices, companies would be able to buy American gas at $4.35 per million British thermal units, and then sell the same gas in Europe or Asia for roughly double that price, since long-term contracts globally are still largely tied to high benchmark oil prices.

New drilling techniques [hydraulic fracturing] have opened up vast shale rock fields to gas prospecting over the last few years, bolstering domestic production and adding significant reserves. That has made the import terminal a disappointment. Meant to receive 30 tankers a month, it only received a dozen all of last year. Much of that business was simply temporarily storing gas for re-export.

Morgan Stanley, ENN Energy of China, Gas Natural Fenosa of Spain, Sumitomo of Japan and EDF Trading of France have entered into memorandums of understanding with Cheniere to reserve processing capacity for export. Some influential investors, like the Blackstone Group, which invested $250 million in the form of a convertible debt security in the company in 2008, one of its largest share owners. (NYT, 1/27/2011)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Casey Trees Sustainable Sites Initiative

New White House Press Secretary: Jay Carney

Jay Carney
President Obama has appointed former journalist Jay Carney to replace White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.  The White House will also name two new deputy chiefs of staff: Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the Office of Health Reform, and Alyssa Mastromonaco, White House director of scheduling and advance.

Carney, now the communications director for Vice President Biden, came to the White House in 2009 after a long career in journalism that included serving as Washington bureau chief of Time magazine.  Gibbs will open his own consulting firm, appear on television as a prominent surrogate for the president and be involved in Obama's reelection bid.

Sierra Club Moving Uptown In Washington, DC

According to the Washington Business Journal, the Sierra Club signed a 10-year deal for 27,238 square feet at 50 F St. NW and plans to move in May from current offices at 408 C St. NE and 555 11th St. NW.  So the Sierra Club is leaving Capitol Hill (Senate side) to take up residence in the heart of downtown Washington, DC.  Must be nice.  Lots of room too. Oh, and we're sure it is a 'green' building too.(Washington Business Journal, 1/27/2011)

Graham and Reilly Report to Congress on Deepwater Horizon




The Co-Chairs of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling (Bob Graham & William Reilly) testified (attachments) before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday, January 26 at 9:30 a.m. to discuss the Commission Report, which concluded that:

 The explosive loss of the Macondo well could have been prevented.

 The immediate causes of the Macondo well blowout can be traced to a series of identifiable mistakes made by BP, Halliburton, and Transocean that reveal such systematic failures in risk management that they place in doubt the safety culture of the entire industry.

 Deepwater energy exploration and production, particularly at the frontiers of experience, involve risks for which neither industry nor government has been adequately prepared, but for which they can and must be prepared in the future.

 To assure human safety and environmental protection, regulatory oversight of leasing, energy exploration, and production require reforms even beyond those significant reforms already initiated since the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Fundamental reform will be needed in both the structure of those in charge of regulatory oversight and their internal decision-making process to ensure their political autonomy, technical expertise, and their full consideration of environmental protection concerns.

 Because regulatory oversight alone will not be sufficient to ensure adequate safety, the oil and gas industry will need to take its own, unilateral steps to increase dramatically safety throughout the industry, including self-policing mechanisms that supplement governmental enforcement.

 The technology, laws and regulations, and practices for containing, responding to, and cleaning up spills lag behind the real risks associated with deepwater drilling into large, high-pressure reservoirs of oil and gas located far offshore and thousands of feet below the ocean’s surface. Government must close the existing gap and industry must support rather than resist that effort.

 Scientific understanding of environmental conditions in sensitive environments in deep Gulf waters, along the region’s coastal habitats, and in areas proposed for more drilling, such as the Arctic, is inadequate. The same is true of the human and natural impacts of oil spills.
 
The purpose of the hearing was to review the report and recommendations, including any recommendations for legislative action, issued by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.  The hearing was held in Room 325 of the Russell Senate Office Building. (U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources).
 
View Senate Archive Webcast
 
They testified before the House Natural Resources Committee (1324 Longworth HOB) at 2 p.m.
 
View House Archive Webcast

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Environment America Report Says Mercury Is Big Threat

Mercury Pollution from Power Plants a Major Threat to Americans’ Health, Environment

Power plants in America emitted 134, 365 pounds of mercury pollution in 2009, according to the new Environment America report, Dirty Energy’s Assault on our Health: Mercury. The report found that power plants in just four states—Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia—are responsible for over 35 percent of all mercury pollution from power plants in the United States. The report comes as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is set to propose a standard by March to limit mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants.

Coal-fired power plants, which are the largest source of mercury pollution in the United States, emit mercury into our air. The mercury then falls into our waterways from rain or snow, where it builds up in fish then the animals—and people—that consume the fish. Even very small amounts of mercury can have significant impacts -- studies suggest that a gram-sized drop of mercury can contaminate an entire 20 acre lake.

Environment America’s research found that:
· Mercury pollution is a widespread health risk. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that one in six women of childbearing age has enough mercury in her bloodstream to put her child at risk from the health effects of mercury pollution, including learning disabilities, developmental disorders, and lower IQs, should she become pregnant. This means that more than 689,000 of the 4.1 million babies born every year could be exposed to dangerous levels of mercury pollution.

· Mercury pollution harms our environment. Fish, and animals that consume fish, suffer from reproductive failure and mortality as a result of mercury pollution. More U.S. waters are closed to fishing because of mercury contamination than because of any other toxic contamination problem. The EPA has found that large parts of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers are contaminated by mercury which poisons fish in those waterways.

· Power plants in the United States are responsible for 134,365 pounds of mercury spewed into our air and water in 2009. The top 25 worst polluters, out of 451 power plants, were responsible for nearly 28 percent of all mercury pollution from power plants.
The report comes as the EPA is set to propose a standard to limit mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants in March, with a plan to finalize the standard by November. Environment America was joined by the American Nurses Association in calling on the EPA to issue a strong standard that will significantly reduce these harmful pollutants from power plants, and specifically cut mercury pollution by more than 90%.

Unfortunately, while the EPA is undertaking this rulemaking, Congress and industry lobbyists are working to prevent the EPA from doing its job, by threatening to introduce legislation to block this and other rules from limiting dangerous air pollution. (EPA)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

President Obama's State of the Union

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 25, 2011

Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
State of the Union Address
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Washington, DC

As Prepared for Delivery

FULL SPEEECH

Excerpts:

At the California Institute of Technology, they’re developing a way to turn sunlight and water into fuel for our cars. At Oak Ridge National Laboratory, they’re using supercomputers to get a lot more power out of our nuclear facilities. With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.

Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they’re selling. So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: by 2035, 80% of America’s electricity will come from clean energy sources. Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all – and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen.
(The White House)


Gingrich Calls For Replacing EPA

Newt Gingrich
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called Tuesday for the elimination of the Environmental Protection Agency. Gingrich wants to replace EPA with a new organization that would work more closely with businesses and be more aggressive in using science and technology. He made this recommendation during comments in Iowa before the Renewable Fuels Association.  Iowa is traditionally the state that holds the first primary.  Iowa's next presidential caucus is Feb. 6, 2012.


Gingrich believes that the EPA was founded on sound ideas but has become a traditional Washington bureaucracy. This was the first time he had proposed eliminating EPA. Gingrich noted that:

"We need to have an agency that is first of all limited, but cooperates with the 50 states," Gingrich said. "The EPA is based on bureaucrats centered in Washington issuing regulations and litigation and basically opposing things.   I think you have an agency which would get up every morning, very much like the National Institutes for Health or the National Science Foundation, and try to figure out what do we need to do today to get a better environment that also gets us a better economy.  There's a whole new emerging technology that allows you to build smaller nuclear plants, but all of our rules were designed for very complex, very expensive systems."

Gingrich denied his proposal would result in environmental damage, saying he would replace the EPA with what he called the Environmental Solution Agency. Gingrich also said his proposed agency would pursue the development of a clean coal and rewrite regulations governing the development of small nuclear plants. (AP)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Center Responds To PEER Critique of EPA Science Integrity

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) Issued the Press Release Below:

See Center Response to PEER Press Release below the release:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
WILL EPA SIT OUT SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY RULE-MAKING?
Memo Implies EPA Will Not Clarify Scientists’ Right to Publish or Speak with Media

Washington, DC — Despite a White House directive that federal agencies strengthen their procedures for ensuring scientific integrity and transparency, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is apparently planning no changes, according to an internal EPA e-mail released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). As a result, EPA scientists will continue to lack consistent rules for publishing studies, speaking at scientific conferences or answering questions from the media.
On December, 17, 2010, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a memo directing all agencies to “develop and implement policies” to address a set of issues including scientists’ right to speak and publish, interactions with scientific societies and the media, as well as a ban against alteration of technical documents for political reasons. In spite of the fact that EPA has no clear policies addressing these topics, Administrator Lisa Jackson, in a December 21, 2010 e-mail to staff circulating the OSTP memo, suggested that her agency needed to do nothing further because:

“I am proud that we have maintained our commitment to scientific integrity. Our ongoing work to uphold scientific integrity is part of our progress as One EPA and should continue to set the standard for federal government agencies.”

“Far from setting the standard for scientific integrity, EPA daily subjects its scientists to the murky backwaters of arbitrary ad hoc decision-making,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, pointing out that other agencies, especially the Department of Interior, are moving ahead with precedent-setting open science policies. “The area where EPA does seem to set the standard is undeserved self-congratulation.”

In a letter sent today, PEER urged Ms. Jackson to consult its staff scientists in an earnest effort to promulgate enforceable open science protocols. PEER cites recent instances where EPA has –
Prevented one of its top experts on sea level rise from publishing papers;

Impeded scientists from making invited presentations at scientific conferences; and

Failed to issue promised guidance on when scientists may speak with Congress or the press
EPA also does not have policies on the ability of its scientists to protect against inappropriate alterations of their work, to participate in scientific societies or to freely communicate with outside experts, among other topics contained in the OSTP memo. Nonetheless, Ms. Jackson’s e-mail distinctly implies that she has no plans to promulgate such policies (nor is there any announced schedule of activity to do so) even though her agency is supposed to report its progress back to the White House by mid-April.

“Within EPA management there is a culture of disrespect for its scientists, an upstairs-downstairs mentality where scientific acumen carries little weight,” added Ruch, arguing that EPA should be in dialogue with its scientists and unions right now if it intends to have new rules in place by the spring. “If agencies such as EPA stand pat, the entire Obama scientific integrity initiative may produce little more than pious promises.”

In January 2009, shortly after she was sworn in, PEER wrote to Administrator Jackson pressing her to follow through on her confirmation commitments to promote “scientific integrity,” “rule of law” and “transparency” by outlawing gag orders, securing the right to publish and reaching out to agency scientists to hear their views. PEER has yet to receive an answer to that letter.

See Lisa Jackson’s memo on scientific integrity
Read PEER protest letter

Look at sea level rise material EPA is suppressing
View EPA’s murky “fishbowl” policy and the unanswered 2009 PEER letter

Review White House directive to agencies on scientific integrity and transparency

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

CENTER RESPONSE

While understanding the need for 'chain of command' within any business or institution, we understand PEER's motivation to include more 'freedom of expression' from agency scientists.  The question is one of balance.  How to balance the need for scientific integrity and transparency with the agenda of the adminstration.  Too much independence can lead to chaos and too much control can lead to stifling independent thought.

Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo comes to mind.  Her career at EPA was ended for whistleblowing about mining practices in a foreign country.  If a mechanism had been in place to address her concerns, she might not have taken EPA to court [where the agency was convicted of discrimination] and she would not have been pressed into getting a law passed [NO FEAR ACT] to addresss the agency response problems.

EPA should address the legitimate concerns raised by PEER.  PEER should also understand that without appropriate controls on the agency message, chaos could rule.  Thus the need for an institutionalized mechanism to address the need for agency scientists to dissent, while maintaining management 'command and control' of the ageny's messages to the public.  A middle ground is possible.

Court Tells EPA To Finalize Flawed Boiler MACT Rule

The Federal District Court in DC told the EPA that they have to complete their Boiler MACT rule by February 23, 2011. EPA had asked for a new timeline in order to propose an entire new rule (or fix the existing proposed rule) because the current proposal is inadequate - - by EPA's own description, it will be difficult for sources to meet. Following a flood of comments outlining major flaws in the proposed rule, EPA realized it needed more time to fix the problems with the rule. However, environmental groups protested and the court refused to grant EPA's request.

The Council of Industrial Boiler Operators are disappointed that the Court denied EPA's request for the time it needs to address critical problems with the proposed Boiler MACT rule. CIBO believes EPA will have to finalize a rule that is based on a fundamentally-flawed proposed rule, which EPA will have difficulty defending in court. In the meantime, all of industry, universities and district energy providers will have to spend tens of millions of dollars to prepare to meet the new standards. CIBO believes it would make much more sense, especially given our nation's present economic challenges, for EPA and all stakeholders to take the time up front to get the rule right." Here is a link to the CIBO study focused on the job impacts of EPA's tougher Boiler MACT rule. (Frank Maisano)

In a letter to the EPA administrator, the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy concludes:
Advocacy advises EPA to request more time to complete the rulemakings required by the settlement agreement. Advocacy believes that the seven months provided for the EGU proposed rule and 11 months provided for the refineries proposed rule are not sufficient to allow for full compliance with the procedures required...to ensure that the Administrator, in exercising her policy discretion, can benefit from the agency’s understanding of both rulemakings’ economic impact on small entities. Further, Advocacy welcomes a broader discussion with EPA on negotiated deadlines in settlement agreements and consent decrees. (SBA)

Helix Inks Agreements For Deepwater Gulf Containment System

Helix Producer I
 Helix Energy Solutions Group has executed agreements for its Helix Fast Response System (HFRS) as a spill response resource for the U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GOM). HFRS will be a key part of response plans submitted by oil and gas producers with state and federal authorities. The HFRS centers on two vessels, the Helix Producer I and the Q4000, both of which played a key role in the BP Macondo spill response and are presently operating in the GOM. Helix signed an agreement with Clean Gulf Associates (CGA), a non-profit industry group, making the HFRS available for a two-year term to CGA participants in the event of a GOM well blow out incident in exchange for a retainer fee.

Q4000

Evergreen Burner
In addition to the agreement with CGA, Helix also has signed separate utilization agreements with 19 CGA participant member companies to date specifying the day rates to be charged should the solution be deployed. The system has been endorsed by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) Director Michael Bromwich. The industry firmly believes that this proven, industry-led solution is critical to establishing confidence in the industry’s ability to respond to potential blow out incidents in the region. Helix is an international offshore energy company that provides development solutions and other key life of field services to the energy market as well as to our own oil and gas business unit. They provided on-site engineering and were key to containing the BP spill last summer. (Frank Maisano)

EPA, DOT & California Align Fuel Economy and GHG Standards

EPA, DOT & Calif Align Timeframe for Proposing Standards for Next Generation of Clean Cars


The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the state of California today announced a single timeframe for proposing fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for model year 2017-2025 cars and light-duty trucks. Proposing the new standards on the same timeframe - by September 1, 2011 - signals continued collaboration that could lead to an extension of the current National Clean Car Program, providing automakers certainty as they work to build the next generation of clean, fuel efficient cars. Improving fuel efficiency will save consumers money at the pump, reduce America's dependence on foreign oil and cut emissions of harmful pollutants.

In April 2010, DOT and EPA established greenhouse gas emission and fuel economy standards for model year 2012-2016 light-duty cars and trucks. In the fall of 2010, California accepted compliance with these federal GHG standards as meeting similar state standards as adopted in 2004, resulting in the first coordinated national program. The standards require these vehicles to meet an estimated combined average emissions level of 250 grams of carbon dioxide per mile in model year 2016, which is equivalent to 35.5 miles per gallon.

In May 2010, President Obama announced that EPA, DOT and California would begin working together to assess the performance and costs of a variety of technologies that could be available in model years 2017-2025 as the first step in possibly extending the current national emission and fuel economy standards. The three agencies completed an interim technology assessment and have since funded additional research critical to future rulemaking.

With today's announcement, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is committing to continue its collaboration with DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and EPA in an effort to establish standards that will provide manufacturers with the regulatory certainty needed to invest today in the kind of new technologies that will provide consumers a full range of efficient clean vehicle choices.

Prior to today's announcement, CARB announced its intention to propose greenhouse gas emission standards for model years 2017 to 2025 in March of this year, while EPA and NHTSA were working on an end of September timeline for proposal. Today's announcement ensures that both proposals will come out simultaneously after a thorough, joint review of all data available when the proposals are issued. (EPA)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Upton Sets New Rules For Energy & Commerce Committee

Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI), right, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee has set out new rules and practices to guide the Committee in the 112th Congress.

The adoption of Committee rules and unveiling of the new "Chairman's Policies" came during the panel's official organizing meeting for the 112th Congress, which included the adoption of Subcommittee jurisdictions and the formal appointment of Subcommittee leadership and full member rosters.

Changes to the Committee's rules include:

• Advance notice of at least three days before any committee meeting

• Availability of legislative text in advance of a markup

• Codifying the committee practice of posting record votes and information within 24 hours

• Permitting, but not requiring, the use of “stacked” or “rolled” votes

• Limiting the number of opening statements at hearings in order to increase the focus on, and time for, witness testimony and questioning

(House Energy & Commerce Committee)

Shareholder Groups Want Assurances on Hydraulic Fracturing

Shareholder groups have filed resolutions with major oil and gas companies urging them to disclose their plans for managing water pollution and financial risks associated with hydraulic fracturing (fracking), a technique used to extract natural gas from shale. Resolutions have been filed with companies such as Chevron and Exxon Mobil.  The resolutions are taking aim at the hydraulic fracturign practice that has been blamed for polluting water supplies and land with chemicals.

The Center has developed Hydraulic Fracturing Evaluation Criteria to rate projects.  The Hydraulic Fracturing issue does not lend itself to taking a blanket position 'for' or 'against' the practice. As such, the Center has developed criteria for project by project determinations.  The Center criteria are fairly rigorous, but if a company adheres to them, we believe it will go far in satisfying shareholder groups.  In fact, some of our criteria include some of the same items included in the resolutions.

The shareholder groups include the New York state pension fund, Domini Social Investments, Trillium Asset Management and the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. The resolutions called on the companies to recycle waste water, disclose the type of chemicals used in the operations and lessen their toxicity.

Fracking utilizes high-pressure water, chemicals and particles are injected deep underground to break up shale formations and release natural gas. Companies are turning to fracking because more-accessible deposits of natural gas have dwindled.

Hydraulic fracturing has caught the attention of regulators and politicians. EPA is conducting a new study of the practice and its effects on groundwater. The Center presented a statement at the EPA hearings on hydraulic fracturing in April 2010. New York state placed a temporary moratorium on new fracking permits and lawsuits have been filed against operations in Pennsylvania. (Wash Post, 1/22/2011)

EPA Grants E15 Waiver For 2001-2006 Cars & Light Trucks

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has waived a limitation on selling gasoline that contains more than 10 percent ethanol for model year (MY) 2001 through 2006 passenger vehicles, including cars, SUVs, and light pickup trucks. The waiver applies to fuel that contains up to 15 percent ethanol – known as E15. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson made the decision after a review of the Department of Energy’s thorough testing and other available data on E15’s effect on emissions from MY 2001 through 2006 cars and light trucks.

On October 13, 2010, EPA approved a waiver allowing the use of E15 for MY 2007 and newer cars and light trucks. At that time, EPA denied a request to allow the use of E15 for MY 2000 and older vehicles and postponed its decision on the use of E15 in MY 2001 to 2006 cars and light trucks until DOE completed additional testing for those model years.

The Agency also announced that no waiver is being granted this year for E15 use in any motorcycles, heavy-duty vehicles, or non-road engines because current testing data does not support such a waiver.

These waivers represent one of a number of actions that are needed from federal, state and industry to commercialize E15 gasoline blends. Also, EPA is developing requirements to ensure that E15 is properly labeled at the gas pump. The label will be designed to prevent refueling into vehicles, engines, and equipment not currently approved for the higher ethanol blend.

Ethanol is an alcohol that can be mixed with gasoline to result in a cleaner-burning fuel. E15 is a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline. The primary source of ethanol is corn, but other grains or biomass sources may be used such as corn cobs, cornstalks, and switchgrass.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandated an increase in the overall volume of renewable fuels into the marketplace, reaching a 36 billion gallon total in 2022. Ethanol is considered a renewable fuel because it is produced from plant products or wastes and not from fossil fuels. Ethanol is blended with gasoline for use in most areas across the country.

EPA granted the waiver after considering the E15 petition submitted by Growth Energy and 54 ethanol manufacturers in March 2009. In April 2009, EPA sought public comment on the petition and received about 78,000 comments.

The petition was submitted under a Clean Air Act provision that allows EPA to waive the act’s prohibition against the sale of a significantly altered fuel if the petitioner shows that the new fuel will not cause or contribute to the failure of engine and other emission-related parts that ensure compliance with emission standards. (EPA)

More information

Friday, January 21, 2011

Center Establishes Green Electric

GE

The Center has established Green Electric (GE) to produce electricity.  The Center's first project will be a biomass electricity plant in Mississsippi that converts woodchips into methane (natural gas) that is burned in a massive turbine to produce electricity.  Several scoping visits led to locating a site for the biomass plant, which is near an electricity substation in Port Gibson, Mississippi.  Green Electric is currently negotiating a lease for land to construct the power plant. GE intends to initiate a feasibility study with the local utility in the second quarter of 2011.  Once the feasibility study is completed, GE will negotiate interconnection and power purchase agreements with Entergy and will begin construction of the plant.

Green Electric envisions a ten megawatt, wood chip/sawdust syngas turbine power plant that will operate as a base load unit. We expect a capacity factor of above 70-80 percent. It is anticipated that the plant will consume approximately ten tons of wood chips per hour. GE expects the plant construction and engineering services costs to be approximately $15 million. The plant will need a Clean Air Act permit and a Clean Water Act permit.  GE has a Letter Of Intent from the City of Port Gibson and approval from the Claiborne County Board of Supervisers to proceed with development of the project.  AREVA has agreed to serve as construction manager for the project.

Mississippi

Scoping Visit 1

Scoping Visit 2

Scoping Visit 3

Scoping Visit 4

Catalina Island

Scoping Visit 1

Scoping Visit 2: Agency Outreach

Kenya

Kogelo, Kenya

EPA's Jackson to Speak at 2011 Green Jobs Conference

The 2011 Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference — February 8-10 at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, D.C. — will bring together thousands of union members, environmentalists, community and business leaders from all over the country to share ideas and strategies to build a sustainable economy that creates good jobs and protects our environment for future generations.

And now, an exciting speaker has been added to the agenda.

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, right, will speak at the morning plenary on Tuesday, February 8 [her birthday--birthday of our Center president too]. In addition, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood will speak Wednesday morning, February 9, followed by a discussion on sustainable communities, moderated by WAMU's Kojo Nnamdi and featuring U.S. Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota.

Also, don’t forget about the extensive and informative workshops available during the Conference. In The Global Clean Energy Race: Policy Matters, listen and participate as leaders in the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries talk about the Pew Environmental Group’s latest report projecting global clean energy investments.

Find out how federal policies can create good jobs in energy efficiency in Capturing Building Energy Efficiency Potential: Creating New Jobs and Markets through Federal Policies.

Register today for the 2011 Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference — the leading forum for sharing ideas and strategies on how to create good, green jobs across the United States.

Updates

Staff Changes at the U.S. EPA

Pete Silva will leave the EPA on February 12 and plans to return to his home and family in California. During his tenure, Pete has led a wide range of important actions to help protect the water we drink and safeguard the health of millions of Americans. Upon Pete’s departure, Nancy Stoner, deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Water will serve as acting assistant administrator.

Bicky Corman
Bicky Corman has been appointed as the deputy associate administrator for the Office of Policy. Bicky has handled environmental and policy issues at the local and federal levels and previously served at the EPA, the Department of Justice, the U.S. Senate and the District of Columbia Department of the Environment. Bicky I. Corman joins our Agency from the District of Columbia’s Department of the Environment, where she served as the General Counsel. Prior to working for the City, Bicky was a trial attorney for the Environment & Natural Resources Division/Environmental Enforcement Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, and earlier, staffed Senator Frank Lautenberg’s Hazardous Waste Subcommittee. Bicky began her career at EPA as the Assistant Regional Counsel for Region 2 and as a staff attorney for the Office of Enforcement & Compliance Assurance. Bicky graduated from Suffolk University Law School in Boston and completed her undergraduate education at the Sophie Newcomb College of Tulane University.

Joel Beauvais will join the EPA as senior advisor in the Office of General Counsel. Most recently, Joel served on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Environment. He has a strong background in environmental law and research and has worked in private practice, the public sector and nonprofit organizations. Joel C. Beauvais joins our Agency after serving as the lead advisor for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Energy and Environment and the Select Committee on Energy and Global Warming. Prior to working for the House of Representatives, Joel was an associate at Latham and Watkins where he advised leading industry clients on Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and other environmental law issues. Early in his career Joel served as a law clerk for the Honorable Sandra Day O’Connor. He also did a post-graduate fellowship at the New York University School of Law Center for Environmental and Land Use Law. Joel graduated summa cum laude from the NYU School of Law and magna cum laude from Yale University with a degree in Political Science.

Michael Goo has been appointed as associate administrator for the EPA's Office of Policy. Michael starts on January 31 and has extensive experience in the public and private sectors. Most recently, he was with the House of Representatives, where he served as staff director and chief counsel of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. During his tenure he played a key role in drafting and negotiating the Waxman-Markey clean energy legislation passed by the House. Before serving on the House Select Committee, Michael was the climate legislative director for the Natural Resources Defense Council and worked with the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. During the Clinton Administration, Michael was appointed special assistant to the general counsel here at the EPA and transitioned to a career position in the Office of the General Counsel's Air and Radiation Law Office.  Michael graduated from Washington University School of Law and earned cum laude honors during his undergraduate studies at Vassar College. (EPA)

EPA Grant Solicitation For Children's Environmental Health

EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection has announced the release of a solicitation for grant proposals to address children's environmental health in underserved communities by building capacity for these communities to reduce environmental exposures in child-occupied settings (e.g. homes, schools and child care centers). Funds available for award are expected to total approximately $1.5 million, and EPA intends to award approximately 15-20 awards, each for an amount not to exceed $100,000. The due date for initial proposals is February 18, 2011.

Assistance under this competition is available to:

States or state agencies, territories, city or township governments, county governments, the District of Columbia, federally recognized American Indian Tribes, possessions of the U.S, public and private universities and colleges, hospitals, laboratories, other public or private nonprofit institutions, and 501(c)(3) organizations.

Complete information regarding this Request for Initial Proposals

Hu Jintao Had A Great State Visit. Now What?

PRESIDENT'S CORNER

By Norris McDonald


Chinese President Hu Jintao, right, is an impressive man.  And he is the leader of a very impressive country.  From the time he arrived at Andrews Air Force Base (about 4 miles from my house) until he left Chicago, his visit was impressive.  The state visit is important because it is crucial for President Obama and President Hu to harmonize our two economies.  We need to create at least 200,000 jobs per month in the United States to significantly reduce the unemployment rate.  China needs those employed Americans to buy their stuff at WalMart.  So China needs to help to create jobs in America.

The Center visited China in 2007 and we will return this year to help in creating these jobs.  We want to bring Chinese investment to the United States.  It was widely reported that President Hu facilitated deals for aircraft and other heavy machinery, agricultural products and software that could be worth $45 billion for U.S. firms. China also indicated that it would give U.S. companies better treatment and do more to protect their intellectual property. Fine.  We need the Chinese, who have a healthy national treasury, to invest in many smaller projects too.  We will be promoting such investments and assisting China in innovating in America.  So have a good flight back to China from Chicago, President Hu.  We are not far behind you.

Obama Appoints Jeffrey Immelt to Head Jobs Council

Jeffrey Immelt
President Barack Obama has appointed Jeffrey Immelt, chief executive of General Electric Company to head the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The new White House board is aimed at finding ways to foster private-sector job growth and replaces an existing panel called the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, led by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker.  The name of the new panel stresses competitiveness and job creation.  Mr. Immelt also served on the previous panel. Mr. Volcker will not join the new council.

The board led by Mr. Volcker, an economist, was created with a two-year mandate that expires on February 6. It was charged with crafting the administration's response to the financial crisis. Today, President Obama and Mr. Immelt are scheduled to tour the GE plant in Schenectady, N.Y., home to the company's largest energy division and the future home of GE's advanced battery manufacturing facility. (WSJ, 1/21/2010)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Herman Cain on Environment and Energy

Herman Cain
 Herman Cain is a conservative Republican candidate running to be president of the United States.

The Center will be covering the environmental and energy positions of all of the presidential candidates. The Center stands ready to provide information on energy and environmental issues whenever Mr. Cain contacts us.  He has established a Presidential Exploratory Committee.

On energy, he advocates maximizing use of America's natural resources and pursuing renewable fuel technologies.

Asked [The Hill-Ballot Box] if there's one issue he thinks makes him stand out from the rest of the potential field, Cain said it's the comprehensive energy plan he intends to champion:
"We have a path to energy independence in this country and it just baffles me as to why the leadership of either party in Congress or the White House doesn't pursue it," said Cain. "We simply need to remove the regulatory barriers and stop overreacting to the concerns of the environmentalists."
According to Conservative Features.com, "Conseravtives In Their Own Words," Cain noted:
"Energy independence: Real energy independence starts with removing a lot of the regulatory constraints that keeping us from exploring all of the natural resources that we have here. We have tons and tons and tons of resources that are just being choked off because of the “environmental wackos” quite frankly. They are not going to be happy until they totally strangle this country and there isn’t one gasoline company or oil company left in America. They’ve already driven away most of them. Their headquarters somewhere else."
According to Grist and Penn Alternative Fuels and Energy, Cain is a climate change denier.  Their evidence is an archived website, which included the following quote:
It is outrageous that the head of the United Nations, the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Obama Administration are all dismissing these revelations [the manufactured “Climategate” scandal] as they push onward with their political agenda in the face of scientifically manufactured results.
This is no longer a controversy. This is conclusive. And once again, liberals choose to ignore the facts.
It’s a scam.
Herman Cain was born on December 13, 1945 and is an American newspaper columnist, businessman, politician, and radio talk-show host from Georgia. He is best known as the former chairman and CEO of Godfather's Pizza. Cain's newspaper column is distributed by North Star Writers Group. He currently lives in the Atlanta suburbs.

Cain holds a bachelor of science degree in mathematics from Morehouse College, and a master's degree in computer science from Purdue University. (Wiki, World Net Daily)

EPA Seeks Applications for Community Environmental Grants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is making $2 million available in 2011 to reduce pollution at the local level through the Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) program. CARE is a community-based program that works with county and local governments, tribes, non-profit organizations and universities to help the public understand and reduce toxic risks from numerous sources to protect
people’s health.

EPA will award CARE cooperative agreements in two levels. Level I awards range from $75,000 to $100,000 and will help establish community-based partnerships to develop local environmental priorities.
Level II awards, ranging from $150,000 to $300,000 each, will support communities that have established broad-based partnerships, identified the priority toxic risks in their communities, and are prepared to
measure results, implement risk-reduction activities and become self-sustaining.

In 2010, EPA’s CARE program distributed $2 million throughout 14 communities. Among the grant recipients, projects included tackling drinking water and stormwater pollution, solid waste, and toxics issues
in Cordova, Alaska; addressing air and water pollution sources, municipal solid waste collection and chemical releases in Ashland, Ky.; targeting pest and solid waste issues in New York, N.Y.; tackling air
pollution and land use issues in Detroit, Mich.; focusing on threats from lead in paint, mold, and hazardous household products in Gary, Ind.; and addressing air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, water
pollution, and poor waste management in Kansas City, Kan.

Since 2005, 81 communities in 39 states and territories have used CARE rants to help reduce pollution and protect people’s health. A recent evaluation by the National Association of Public Administrators (NAPA)
recognized the CARE program as a solid tested framework for engaging communities and other stakeholders.

Applications for the CARE grants are due March 22, 2011, 4:00 p.m. EST. EPA will conduct three webcasts to answer questions from prospective applicants about the application process on February 8, February 23, and March 2 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

More information about the grants and webcasts

National Harbor Transition: Gas Station To Support Residences

Site Construction

The Center, through our outreach arm (AAEA), was the only environmental group in the United States that supported the National Harbor proposal.  We also supported the nearby Woodrow Wilson Bridge replacement and its accompanying highway exchange improvements.

We note this because while we are very proud of the Gaylord/National Harbor development, we are disappointed that the office complex originally envisioned for the 'peanut' section along the Indian Head Highway offramp is not going to be constructed.  Instead 2,500 new homes are being put in place of the office complex.  The Oxon Hill/Fort Washington section of Prince George's County, Maryland is already a 'bedroom community.'  It does not need more housing; it needs office buildings that will provide lunchtime restaurant crowds that will make upscale dining establishments viable.

National Harbor's developer, The Peterson Companies, has plans to move forward with building the Oxon Hill site's first gas station, representing the project's transition from an entertainment destination into a residential center. What happened to Disney?  The proposed 6.15-acre gas station will be in an undeveloped area referred to as the "peanut." [See photo above] The developer is also looking into putting a bank, a fast-food restaurant and a sit-down restaurant in the peanut.

We are sure that Milt Peterson did his best in attracting office development to the site.  Absent such office development, we support his gas station plan.

The Peterson Companies is presenting a plan to the Prince George's County Planning Board to implement a Sunoco gas station on the western side of National Harbor. In December, The Peterson Companies announced it would be building a 350-unit apartment complex in National Harbor with Greenbelt's The Bozzuto Group, the long-term plan calling for 2,500 housing units in National Harbor. There are currently 300 to 400 occupied housing units. The new lots will be the first geared toward renters. (Gazette, 1/20/2011)
Main Gaylord/National Harbor Site

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Interior Dept Finalizing New Offshore Oil Drilling Bureaus

Ken Salazar
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) Director Michael R. Bromwich today announced the structures and responsibilities of two new, independent agencies that will carry out the offshore energy management and enforcement functions once assigned to the former Minerals Management Service (MMS).
Michael Bromwich

Salazar and Bromwich also announced that they are establishing a permanent advisory body through which the nation’s leading scientific, engineering, and technical experts will provide input on improving offshore drilling safety, well containment, and spill response. Secretary Salazar has asked former Sandia National Laboratory Director Tom Hunter to lead the body, which will be called the Offshore Energy Safety Advisory Committee (Safety Committee).

On May 19, 2010, Secretary Salazar signed a Secretarial Order that divided the three conflicting missions of MMS into separate entities with independent missions. MMS was renamed BOEMRE in mid-June as Director Bromwich was sworn-in, to more accurately describe the scope of the organization’s oversight. On October 1, 2010, the revenue collection arm of the former MMS became the Office of Natural Resources Revenue.

The two bureaus that will separately house: 1) the resource development and energy management functions of BOEMRE, and 2) the safety and enforcement functions of BOEMRE.

The new Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is responsible for managing development of the nation’s offshore resources in an environmentally and economically responsible way. Functions will include: Leasing, Plan Administration, Environmental Studies, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Analysis, Resource Evaluation, Economic Analysis and the Renewable Energy Program.

The new Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) will enforce safety and environmental regulations. Functions will include: All field operations including Permitting and Research, Inspections, Offshore Regulatory Programs, Oil Spill Response, and newly formed Training and Environmental Compliance functions.

Secretary Salazar and Director Bromwich said that the reforms announced today strengthen the role of environmental review and analysis in both BSEE and BOEM through various structural and organizational mechanisms. Those include:
• The creation of a first-ever Chief Environmental Officer in BOEM;

• Separating Environmental reviews from Leasing in the regions in BOEM;

• The development of a new Environmental Compliance and enforcement function in BSEE; and

• More prominent Oil Spill Response Plan review and enforcement in BSEE.
The Department plans to have the re-organization fully implemented by October 1, 2011.

Separate and apart from the two independent bureaus BSEE and BOEM, the Offshore Energy Safety Advisory Committee (Safety Committee) will advise the Director and the Secretary on a variety of issues related to offshore energy safety, including drilling and workplace safety, well intervention and containment, and oil spill response. The Safety Committee also will facilitate collaborative research and development, training and execution in these and other areas relating to offshore energy safety.

Tom Hunter
The Committee will have 13 members representing federal agencies, industry, academia, national labs, and various research organizations.

Former Sandia National Laboratory Director Dr. Tom Hunter, who Secretary Salazar has asked to serve as Chairman of the Advisory Committee, was a critical member of the scientific team deployed to assist with the containment and capping of the Macondo well.

A federal register notice soliciting nominations will be published soon. (U.S. Dept of the Interior Press Release, 1/19/2011)