Loading...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wireless Smart Grid

With real-time, two-way communications across the grid, energy suppliers can revolutionize power generation and distribution, improve diagnostics and forecasting and serve more consumers with less energy. Deploying communications intelligence under glass in residential meters will create billions of new smart grid entry points and begin unlocking the full potential of smart grid efficiencies.  There are many options for delivering the smart grid to your neighborhood, but a growing number of energy suppliers are turning to cellular wireless wide-area networks (WWAN).   Machine-to-machine (M2M) cellular communications in the utilities sector will reach 1.5 billion connections by 2020, mostly because of smart metering.

Cellular infrastructures also lower installation costs, allowing utilities to configure meters remotely instead of having to dispatch skilled technicians on-site to millions of homes. With mobile operators seeking to capture their share of the growing M2M market, cellular data rates are more competitive than ever.  From a deployment perspective, cellular is also fast. Using an existing, public wireless network instead of building one from scratch can cut months or years from a smart metering project timeline.  Cellular networks extend virtually everywhere, covering 99 percent of the addressable population for smart metering, including remote areas.

Plenty of reasons exist to consider cellular technology. But what goes into a successful WWAN metering infrastructure? Any viable, cellular metering solution should provide:

• Reliability. Smart meters and their communications technologies should be able to stay online for 10, 15 or even 20 years without requiring components be replaced or need any on-site maintenance. Cellular metering solutions should, therefore, be built to industrial-grade specifications to meet extreme environmental conditions of shock, corrosion, temperature, vibration and humidity. For some applications, they also must meet Class I, Division 2 code standards to operate safely in hazardous environments.

• Remote configuration. During the 10- to 20-year life span of a smart meter, the communication module’s firmware likely will be upgraded, for example, to enhance security or comply with changing wireless standards. Utilities must be able to remotely manage, configure, test, validate and upgrade firmware over the air. Cellular solutions also should support patch upgrades so utilities don’t have to transmit the entire firmware package every time they make a minor update.

• Security. Cellular metering solutions must include strong authentication and encryption to protect consumer privacy and data integrity and maintain continuity of service. They should provide jamming detection to recognize deliberate network attacks. And they must be able to continue operating autonomously if they lose connectivity with the cellular network.

Satellite Systems

Satellite systems have broadband capabilities and tend to be reliable and ideal for long-range backhaul applications. Nevertheless, satellite systems are very costly to deploy and have monthly recurring costs. These costs add burdens to operating budgets.

Satellite systems can be deployed almost anywhere. They are, however, a nonprivate system with shared bandwidth. Plus, system maintenance—repairs in the event of an outage—are not in the control of the user. Only the system provider has access to rectify outage events, perform maintenance or add to system throughput with more infrastructures.

Cellular

Cellular systems function similarly to satellite systems. They use an existing public network of communication infrastructure and devices that have monthly charges. Using a cellular network for distribution automation has several advantages. There is no need for the user to craft a tower infrastructure plan. For the most part, a technician turns on the cell modem and a link is created. The network design is far simpler than unlicensed or licensed radio systems.

Copper or Fiber (by comparison)

Distribution automation applications between distribution automation devices and substations and network operations centers can be far apart. Copper or fiber solutions can provide much more throughput, but these long distances often make either technology impractical because of cost and other issues such as right-of-way. If cost and right-of-way are not issues for the utility, these options, especially fiber, are compelling choices. No other technology discussed will provide speeds and reliability of fiber.   (Electric Light & Power, Jul/Aug 2011, Electric Light & Power, Jul/Aug 2011)

Department of Energy Loans

The Department of Energy’s Loan Programs enable the DOE to work with private companies and lenders to mitigate the financing risks associated with clean energy projects, thereby encouraging their development on a broader and much-needed scale. LPO is one of the largest and most productive energy project finance operations in the world and has committed nearly $31 billion to support 29 clean energy projects. These projects create or save more than 62,000 jobs across 21 states.

LPO has issued conditional commitments to 13 power generation projects with cumulative project costs of more than $27 billion. This represents a greater investment in clean energy generation projects than the entire private sector made in 2009 ($10.6 billion), and almost as much as was invested in such projects in 2008, the peak financing year to date ($22.6 billion).

In 2010 alone, LPO offered loans and conditional commitments for loan guarantees to 14 projects, including:

• Abengoa Solar Inc. and BrightSource Energy Inc., two of the world’s largest solar thermal projects,
• Georgia Power Co.’s Vogtle project, a 2,200-MW nuclear power plant—the nation’s first in three decades, and
• Caithness Shepherds Flat, the world’s largest wind farm with generating capacity of 845 MW.

Loan Programs Office Projects, According to DOE
Current Totals
Loans: $30.7 billion
Jobs: 62,350

[Go To Link For Better View of Chart]
(Electric Light & Power, July/Aug 2011)

EPA Regulations & Coal

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a series of new air, water and solid waste regulations that particularly will impact coal-fired power generation plants.

Owners of electric generation assets are confronting a series of decisions on how to optimize the value of their existing assets in the face of regulatory uncertainty. These new regulations will impact the economic viability of these assets. In many cases, the prospect of early retirement might be a better decision than facing the cost of environmental retrofits.

The environmental issues most coal plants face fall into two categories:

1.Near-term air quality regulations that are poised to take effect in the next five years, and

2.Upgrades or conversions of water and waste management systems by the end of the decade, as well as lingering uncertainty related to potential future greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations.

Here is a bullet list of new EPA regulations affecting coal generation assets:

• Utility MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) rules to reduce emissions of hazardous air pollutants such as mercury,

• Clean Air Transport Rule to reduce ozone and particulate levels via control of nitrogen oxides (NOX) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions,

• Regional haze standards to improve visibility via reduction in NOX, SO2 and particulates;

• National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) with stricter revised standards for NOX, SO2, carbon monoxide, ozone and fine particulates,

• Designation of combustion residues (ash) as either solid or hazardous waste,

• Cooling water intake design and wastewater discharge standards, and

• Greenhouse gas cap-and-trade: “if-and-when.”

(Electric Light & Power, Jul/Aug 2011)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

5th Anniversary of Center Blog

The Center Blog posted its first article on August 29, 2006.  The article, "Center Only Environmental Group Supporting Nuclear Power," described our unique support for fission energy production.

After publishing thousands of articles, the Center Blog continues to be one of the most informative outlets for disseminating information about energy and environmental issues.  We hope to be around for another 5 years.

Hooray.  Five years and counting.

Center Gives Pepco 'Excellent' Rating on Hurricane Irene

THANK YOU.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Japan To Create Separate Nuclear Reg & Promotion Agencies

The Japanese government has unveiled plans to reform the country’s nuclear regulatory agency, separating it from the ministry in charge of promoting nuclear power. The separation plan is a move to restore public confidence in nuclear power.  The new regulatory body, tentatively named the Nuclear Safety and Security Agency (NSSA), will be placed under the jurisdiction of theEnvironment Ministry, where the government says it is better suited to communicate during a crisis under the guidance of a cabinet minister.

Japan has decided against creating an independent agency to enforce safety, akin to the nuclear watchdogs in the United States and France. Instead, the new agency. However, the Environment Ministry has a history of favoring nuclear power, which it sees as a tool for meeting carbon dioxide emissions targets. (Wash Post, 8/29/2011)

Parker Liautaud: North Pole & Climate Change Pioneer

Parker Liautaud
In some ways Parker Liautaud seems like a typical teen. He is on Twitter and Foursquare. Lately he has been busy thinking about where to go to college. Don’t be fooled. There is nothing typical about Parker.

At 17, he has already walked to the North Pole. Twice. (At 15, he became the first person to “check in” to the North Pole on Foursquare.) And that is not all. He’s also a motivational speaker and an environmental campaigner. (You can read more about his campaign at The Last Degree).

This week, Parker, who was born in California and now lives in London, will be returning to One Young World, the global forum for young leaders. Here, he talks about the Arctic, older folks, and the real meaning of his expeditions.

The Center wishes Parker well on his exploits.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Electrical Plugs and Electrical Sockets

Type B Plug
The Type B electrical plug has two flat parallel blades like the Type A, but also has a round grounding or earth pin that grounds the device before the power is connected. The neutral blade is wider than the live blade to ensure proper insertion.  The technical name for the Type B is NEMA 5-15 (North American 15 A/125 V ground ed). It is also called the North American 3-pin. The ground pin is longer than the live and neutral blades, so the device is grounded before the power is connected. The Type B outlet has a ground at the bottom, the neutral slot to the left, and the live slot to the right.

Type A and Type B plugs are used for 120 volts. Type A has been phased out, but rarely seen. Type B plugs are in all new buildings and houses since the 1970's.

Type A Plug
The Type A electrical plug, or flat blade attachment plug, uses two flat parallel pins or blades. this simple plug has two flat parallel pins, or blades. Early designs allowed the blades to be inserted either way, but more modern plugs make the neutral blade wider than the live blade so that a polarized plug can only be inserted one way. New polarized Type A plugs will not fit in old Type A sockets, but both old and new Type A plugs will fit into new Type A and Type B sockets.

Two vs. three contacts

Each commonly-used power receptacle has two or three distinct wired contacts. The contacts may be steel or brass, and may be plated with zinc, tin, or nickel. Since alternating current (AC) is predominantly used in energy distribution networks, both live and neutral contacts typically carry current from the source to the load and from the load to the source, changing direction 60 times per second. However only the neutral contact remains at or very near the voltage potential of the earth, while the potential of the live contact changes sinusoidally, for example -125 V to +125 V (peak-to-peak). The Type B plug has two flat parallel blades like Type A, but also adds a round or U-shaped grounding prong (American standard NEMA 5-15/CSA 22.2, No.42).[11] It is rated for 15 amperes at 125 volts.

Polarization

Polarized plugs and sockets are those designed to connect only in one orientation, so the live and neutral conductors of the outlet are connected (respectively) to the live and neutral poles of the appliance. Polarization is maintained by the shape, size, or position of plug pins and socket holes to ensure that a plug fits only one way into a socket. The switch of the appliance is then connected in series with the live wire. If the neutral wire were interrupted instead, the device would be deactivated but its internal wiring would still remain live. This is a shock hazard; if the energized parts are touched, current travels to earth through the body. Devices that especially present this hazard include toasters and other appliances with exposed heating elements, which with reversed polarity can remain live even when they are cool to the touch.

Many receptacles and plugs also include a third contact for a connection to earth ground, intended to protect against insulation failure of the connected device. A common approach is for electrical sockets to have three holes, which can accommodate either 3-pin earthed or 2-pin non-earthed plugs.

The different sized slots were developed to allow outlets to be polarized as a safety enhancement. The larger slot connects the common wire in the outlet to the common wire in a device. The smaller slot connects the "hot" wires. By forcing the smaller blade of the plug to always connect the hot wires, the outlet is polarized. Devices, such as a table lamp, are designed to minimize the risk of electric shock by keeping the hot wire as short as possible by wiring directly to the switch. The rest of the internal wiring connects to the neutral wire. While this system does not eliminate the possibility of electrocution, fire and electrical faults, it reduces the risk by limiting the path of live current.

What does the ground do?

Another improvement in safety came with the addition of a ground wire to the outlet. This serves as an alternative return path for electricity and is referred to as the equipment ground. Ordinarily current flows from the hot wire and returns via the common wire to ground. However, if the hot wire comes in contact with a metal part of a device, the outer cabinet housing of a washing machine for instance, current could flow through you to ground. The ground wire in a device connects to the housing and provides a return path. The current could still travel through you, but the ground wire probably has lower resistance and so chooses that path over through you.




The standard U.S. household wiring design has two 120 volt "hot" wires and a neutral which is at ground potential. The two 120 volt wires are obtained by grounding the centertap of the transformer supplying the house so that when one hot wire is swinging positive with respect to ground, the other is swinging negative. This versatile design allows the use of either hot wire to supply the standard 120 volt household circuits. For higher power applications like clothes dryers, electric ranges, air conditioners, etc. , both hot wires can be used to produce a 240 volt circuit.



The high voltage (about 120 volts effective, 60 Hz AC) is supplied to the smaller prong of the standard polarized U.S. receptacle. It is commonly called the "hot wire". If an appliance is plugged into the receptacle, then electric current will flow through the appliance and then back to the wider prong, the neutral. The neutral wire carries the current back to the electrical panel and from there to the earth (ground). The ground wire is not a part of the electrical circuit, but is desirable for prevention of electric shock.


The two receptacles in a common "duplex" receptacle receive power from the same circuit leading from the main electrical supply panel. They are wired in parallel so that two appliances which are plugged into the receptacle receive the same voltage, but can draw different amounts of electric current. Parallel wiring is the standard for 120 volt circuits in the entire house, making possible the independent use of all appliances, supplied by the same voltage.



The wider prong on the polarized plug will permit it to be plugged in only with the correct polarity. The narrower prong is the "hot" lead and the switch to the appliance is placed in that lead, gauranteeing that no voltage will reach the appliance when it is switched off. A non-polarized plug may have the switch in the neutral leg and thus be a shock hazard even when it is switched off.






(Electrical Outlet.org, Wikipedia, ACME How To, Hyperphysics)

Sensible Accounting To Value Energy Act

Senator Michael Bennet
The "Sensible Accounting to Value Energy Act," or SAVE Act, expected to be introduced this fall by Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), would require federal loan agencies to include projected energy costs when financing a house, essentially offering better mortgage values on properties that are more energy efficient.

The Center has promoted a similar program for years called Energy Back Securities (EBS). EBS would work the same way Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac promote homeownership and make money. They make money on the difference between loans they buy and their borrowing costs, guarantee fees charged to lenders on mortgage-backed securities sold to investors and returns on the sale of mortgage-backed securities. Put another way: as wholesalers for the mortgage industry, Fannie and Freddie borrow money from investors to buy mortgages from lenders. They also repackage mortgages into securities for sale to investors, adding their own guarantee that investors will receive the promised principal and interest. They charge lenders a fee for that service.

The Center's EBS has a Secondary Energy Mortgage Market mechanism and a Credit Trading Market mechanism. (Read More)

Currently, property appraisers consider identically sized residences the same, regardless of whether one might offer significant savings on energy bills. Appraisers don't know how to evaluate the energy efficiency of a home because it's not something they can feel and touch.  According to some estimates, the average U.S. homeowner spent more than $2,200 on energy in 2008, far more than the average cost of the property taxes (almost $1,900) and homeowners insurance (nearly $800). Energy costs are more volatile than other factors currently included in an appraisal, so they can have an even greater impact on the overall value of the home.

Under the SAVE bill, energy costs could be calculated through average utility costs as determined by a Department of Energy survey or through an independent energy inspection that is already done on 40 percent of new homes. It would only apply to loans controlled by the Federal Housing Administration or other government bodies, which would include mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (
NYT, Energy & Environment, 8/25/2011)

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan Resigns

Center called for him to resign due to his mishandling of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.

Naoto Kan
UPDATE: Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda was chosen as the next
prime minister by 398 ruling-party legislators instead of by a general election.


Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan resigned after almost 15 months in office.  Former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara is viewed as the front-runner to replace Kan. The 64-year-old Kan's approval ratings tumbled amid a perceived lack of leadership after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis. Survivors complain about slow recovery efforts, and radiation from the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi plant has spread into the air, water and food supply.

The Center will also call for the next president to step down if he or she does not immediately act to permanently seal the Fukushima Daiichi site. (MSNBC, 8/26/2011)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

SEC Looking at Potential Risks Fracking Could Pose to Investors

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been investigating whether companies are overstating the long-term productivity of their natural-gas wells.  Now the SEC  is asking oil and gas companies to provide it with detailed information, including chemicals used and efforts to minimize environmental impact, particularly water usage, about their use of a controversial drilling process used to crack open natural gas trapped in rocks. The SEC's interest in fracking is in ensuring investors are being told about risks a company may face related to its operations, such as lawsuits, compliance costs or other uncertainties. 

Other federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency are collecting information about fracking, but those efforts are separate from the SEC.  In addition to a fracking study being conducted by the EPA, the Department of Energy and the Interior Department have also been examining the practice. Some states have fined drilling companies for environmental problems.

The SEC's requests drew criticism from some in the industry about potential regulatory overkill.  The process, which involves pumping water, chemicals and sand underground to free difficult-to-reach natural gas in shale basins, has come under criticism from environmental groups ad some lawmakers over concerns toxins in the mix may contaminate air and water. Fracking fluids include some toxic chemicals, based on company disclosures of chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde for congressional reports and at voluntary disclosure sites.

The SEC is the federal government's investor-and-markets watchdog and is stepping into the heated environmental debate surrounding hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking."  State and federal environmental officials have also been putting greater pressure on the industry.  For the moment, the SEC isn't requiring broad, standardized disclosure of fracking information to the public. Instead, oil and gas companies are being asked by the agency's office that oversees corporate disclosure to supply information confidentially to the SEC, and the agency, in turn, will likely require them to publicly disclose some of that information.

Natural gas currently provides about 25% of total U.S. energy and is projected to increase to 45% by 2035, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.


Battles over disclosure have already broken out at the state level, including in states such as New York and Pennsylvania that sit on the giant Marcellus Shale, an underground formation that has become a fracking hotbed because of the large quantities of natural gas there. Regulators in several states have identified cases in which drilling—although not necessarily the fracturing process in particular—has allowed natural gas to seep into residential water wells, and at least one scientific study has linked drilling and gas contamination more broadly. But there have been few if any documented cases of contamination by the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. The industry acknowledges that improperly constructed wells can allow gas to escape, but says such cases are rare and aren't directly tied to fracturing itself.

Fracking is primarily regulated by states and is largely exempt from some federal statutes, such as the Safe Water Drinking Act. The EPA's study on whether fracking affects drinking water is to be released at the end of 2012. For the study, nine companies provided information on the chemicals they use after an agency request last year. (WSJ, 8/25/2011)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

10 Places to Safely Donate an Old Cell Phone

Recycling and donating unwanted cell phones and accessories is a great way to both help needy charities and keep unwanted electronics from overloading existing dump sights. For example, back in 2007, more than 140 million phones were “retired”, but only 10% of those phones were ever recycled. Even broken phones can often still be used to dial 911 in an emergency, which can be a valuable tool for many senior citizens. Below is a list of some of the places people can contact to make a donation.

1. NCADV – The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) partners with ReCellular, Inc. to collect used cell phones, and a portion of resale monies are channeled to the NCADV. An online donation form is available through the NCADV website.

2. Earthworks – Environmental concerns are the major issue with Earthworks, and donated phones are recycled rather than slated for landfills. Tel. 202-887-1872

3. Cell Phones for Soldiers – A non-profit group with an ambitious goal of providing 750,000 phones to American service personnel; donations can be made through various outlets, including Bass Pro Restaurants and Little Caesars Pizza Restaurants.

4. ASPCA – Our furry and winged friends will greatly benefit from cell phone donations; simply contact your nearest agency to find out where you can drop off your used phones.

5. Call to Protect – Working through the Wireless Foundation, Call to Protect focuses on survivors of domestic violence, and donated and recycled phones have become a major source of funding. Call 1-888-901-SAFE to find out how to make your donation.

6. The 911 CellPhone Bank – A clearinghouse for donated and recycled phones, non-profit organizations can sign up to receive these items. Tel. 1-866-290-7864

7. Secure the Call Foundation – This non-profit is dedicated to providing free 911 capable phones to various groups, including senior citizens and domestic violence survivors, and can be contacted by calling 1-88-DONATE.

8. WirelessFundraiser.com – www.wirelessfundraiser.com will get you to this site, and from there you can choose from many organizations on their menu who would be happy to accept donations.

9. American Cell Phone Drive – When people give to this organization they can help needy folks both in the U.S. and abroad. To contact them simply visit www.americancellphonedrive.org and they will assist you.

10. State & Local – There are many municipal and state agencies that have recycling programs, and a good place to start is to contact your nearest recycling organization.

Remember, one person’s old Blackberry could be another person’s lifesaver, and every phone donated or recycled is one less bit of garbage plugging up a landfill with toxic waste. (Phone Service)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Great East Coast Earthquake of 2011

PRESIDENT'S CORNER

By Norris McDonald

My house was shaking like crazy today a little before 2 p.m.  I work from home just as much as I can.  Reduces my carbon footprint.  That was one of the weirdest 25 seconds in recent memory.  We don't have earthquakes on the east coast.  I think the last one of this magnitude was in the late 19th Century.  Anyway, thank God it was mild and there was very little damage and no deaths.

Norris McDonald at North Anna nuclear plant
But the media turned to nuclear power plants and many of the reports were not very positive.  Unfortunate, since the 5.9 earthquake proved that nuclear power plants on the east coast performed just fine.  Nuke plants are designed to survive earthquakes and will automatically shut down (SCRAM) if adequately distrubed.

Fate put the epicenter of the earthquake at the doorstep of the North Anna nuclear power plant near Mineral, Virgina.  There were reports that 1 of 4 of the backup generators did not work, while power was reported to be out at the facility.  Yet the facility performed just fine.  I visited North Anna in 2005.  I will sleep better tonight knowing that although we might get aftershocks, our nuclear fleet is perfectly prepared to handle earthquakes.

The North Anna nuclear-power station in central Virginia restored off-site power the day after the 5.8-magnitude earthquake, eliminating the need to rely on its back-up generators, according to Dominion Virginia Power representatives. The station's two nuclear reactors shut down following Tuesday's earthquake. The reactors shut down automatically and no damage has been reported. It may be several days before it returns to service.

The company said that four diesel generators supplied power to the station while the off-site power was unavailable. One of the four generators was taken off-line to repair a generator coolant leak, but a fifth generator at the station was activated to replace it until the offsite power was restored. Repairs are complete to the diesel generator.

Twelve additional nuclear plants in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, North Carolina and Michigan declared "unusual events," the lowest of four emergency situations. They included Calvert Cliffs, the closest nuclear plant to Washington, D.C. The plant remained stable at 100% of capacity, according to a spokesman with Constellation Energy Nuclear Group LLC, which owns the plant. The Calvert Cliffs plant is in Lusby, Md., about 50 miles from the city limits of the nation's capital.

The Indian Point nuclear-power plant north of New York City experienced some minor shaking, but the facility remained online and operated at full power. (WSJ, 8/24/2011, WSJ, 8/24/2011)

S&P 500 Index and Crude Oil Futures Mirror Each Other


Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration based on Bloomberg data.

Over the past few weeks (July 1 through August 19), the movement of oil prices has closely mirrored that of the Standard and Poors (S&P) 500 Index. Crude oil settlement futures prices for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell just over 13% while the S&P 500 stock index fell 16% during this period.

The recent strong relationship between oil and equity prices resembles that seen during the economic downturn and recovery in 2008-2010. This contrasts with a weaker correlation between oil and equity prices in the years before 2008 and also with price movements earlier this year, when oil and stock markets decoupled. One notable exception to this recent price correlation came on August 9. (EIA, 8/22/2011)

Wealth In America

In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one's home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.7%.  (Who Rules America, G. William Domhoff, July 2011)

Progress Energy and Duke Shareholders Approve Merger

Progress Energy shareholders overwhelmingly approved the power company's $26 billion merger with Duke Energy this morning in Raleigh, just an hour after Duke shareholders gave their assent in Charlotte.

The merger creates the nation's largest electric utility with 7.1 million customers in six states. Both electric utilities have promoted the deal for months as the best way to create the financial heft required to build new nuclear plants, upgrade transmission systems and comply with stricter environmental regulations. (News Observer, 8/23/2011)

Monday, August 22, 2011

EPA Accepts First GHG Reporting Data

Agency Launches Electronic GHG Reporting Tool

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is launching a new tool to allow 28 industrial sectors to submit their 2010 greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution data electronically. Prior to being finalized, more than1,000 stakeholders, including industry associations, states and NGOs tested the electronic GHG Reporting Tool (e-GGRT) to ensure clarity and user-friendliness.

The data collected with e-GGRT will provide the public with important information about the nation’s largest stationary sources of greenhouse gas pollution. Industries and businesses can also use the data to help find ways to decrease carbon pollution, increase efficiency and save money.

EPA expects to receive 2010 GHG data from approximately 7,000 large industrial GHG emitters and suppliers, including power plants, petroleum refineries and landfills.

EPA’s GHG Reporting Program, launched in October 2009, requires the reporting of GHG data from large emission sources across a range of industry sectors. Suppliers of products that would emit GHGs if released, combusted, or oxidized are also required to report GHG data. Under this program, covered entities are required to submit GHG data to EPA annually and the first round of data will be submitted electronically by September 30, 2011. EPA plans to publish non-confidential GHG data collected through the GHGRP by the end of 2011.

For more information on the GHG Reporting Program

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Interior To Hold Oil & Gas Lease Sale in Gulf of Mexico

First Since Last Year's Massive Oil Spill That Devastated The Region

On December 14, the Interior Department will hold the lease sale for areas off the coast of Texas that represents a first step toward new drilling in the region under a series of beefed-up safety and environmental standards imposed by Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE).

The lease sale, which will be held in New Orleans, will offer up all unleased areas in a 20.6 million-acre block off the coast of Texas. The water depth in the lease sale area is between 16 and almost 11,000 feet. Sales in the region could produce up to 423 million barrels of oil and as much as 2.65 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to BOEMRE.

BOEMRE said Friday it would increase the minimum bid in those areas deeper than 1,312 feet from $37.50 per acre to $100 per acre in order to “discourage companies from purchasing leases they are unlikely to explore in the near term.“ Minimum bids for shallow-water leases will stay the same. (DOI Press Release, The Hill, 8/19/2011)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Donate

If you like our service, please click on the Donate button in the right hand column and support us.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Electric Generating Capacity Additions in the First Half of 2011

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly
Note: Data are preliminary.  Download CSV Data

From January to June 2011, 162 electric power generators were added in 36 states, for a total of 11,255 megawatts (MW) of new capacity. Of the ten states with the highest levels of capacity additions, most of the new capacity uses natural gas, coal, or wind. Capacity additions in these ten states total 8,504 MW, or 76% of the national total for the first six months of 2011.

Year-to-date state profiles underscore different trends based on the number of generators added.

• Many of the generators represented in the chart above are fairly large (capable of producing hundreds of megawatts of power). Texas, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Missouri, for instance, each added a single, large coal-fired generator between January and June of 2011.

• New generators using renewable energy sources are more numerous, but are often smaller. Of these, the two most common fuels are landfill gas (added in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia) and solar (added in California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Vermont).

These data represent responses to EIA's monthly update survey of existing electric generators. An annual survey will collect final data from all industry participants early next year. (DOE-EIA, 8/17/2011)

State Claims Still Possible After Climate Change Ruling

Several states and land trusts had filed suit against five major power plants to limit carbon dioxide emissions, relying on federal and state common law on public nuisance. Those power plants collectively account for 10% of the United States’ carbon dioxide emissions. In June, the Supreme Court held in American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut that the Clean Air Act—and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under that Act—displaces the states and land trusts’ federal common-law claims.

The Center and the Obama administration supported the Supreme Court decision.  Other environmental groups opposed the decision.  Our reasoning is that it is better to have authority at EPA than the courts.  EPA is much more qualified to make decisions on climate than courts.  Other environmental groups wanted more room to sue.  However, if Congress kills EPA's regulatory authority in this area, the plaintiffs could potentially reinstate their federal common-law claims.

The district court had dismissed the case on the grounds that it presented a political question that was up to Congress to resolve, not the courts. The Second Circuit reversed and had allowed the case to proceed.  If the Supreme Court followed its decision in Massachusetts v. EPA—which held that the Clean Air Act covers greenhouse gas emissions and allows states to challenge EPA’s refusal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions—it would find that the plaintiffs had the kind of injuries needed to give them standing to bring the case.

The Court affirmed that the plaintiffs have standing to pursue their claims if Congress were to prevent EPA from carrying out its Clean Air Act mandate -- the plaintiffs could potentially reinstate their federal common-law claims. So the Court’s decision does not rule out future global warming lawsuits based upon state claims. Though the plaintiffs cannot continue to bring their federal nuisance claims, the Court did not dismiss their state nuisance claims.  (Public Justice Newsletter, Summer 2011)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Louise Dunlap Honored By Citizens Coal Council

The Citizens Coal Council and Hurricane Creek Keeper recently honored Louise Dunlap (and her husband and partner Joe Browder) for a lifetime of devotion to the creation and implementation of the Surface Mine Control and Reclamation act. (SMCRA).  See video below for the ceremony.



Louise Dunlap was the first woman to become chief executive of a major U.S. national environmental organization. From 1976 until 1986, she was President of the Environmental Policy Institute and Environmental Policy Center, groups she co-founded in 1972 and which under her leadership grew into the largest public-interest environmental lobbying organization in Washington.


Louise Dunlap

She created and led one of most effective campaigns in the history of the US environmental movement: the seven-year national citizens' effort to enact federal legislation, the Surface Mine Control & Reclamation Act of 1977, requiring the coal industry to protect valuable farmlands, streams and wetlands and to reclaim all surface mined lands. Louise continues to be a principal strategist and advocate for community groups throughout the U.S. working for reclamation of abandoned mines and enforcement of surface mining laws. (Dunlap & Browder)

EPA Recordation of Transport Rule (TR) Allowance Allocations and Removal of CAIR Allowances‏

FROM

Janice Wagner, Chief

Market Operations Branch
Clean Air Markets Division

Dear Acid Rain and CAIR Designated Representatives and Authorized Account Representatives:

The Cross State Air Pollution Rule was signed by the Administrator on July 6, 2011 and will be published in the Federal Register on August 8, 2011. The rule requires that EPA remove CAIR allowances of vintage
years 2012 and later from all accounts in EPA’s Allowance Management System (AMS) no later than 90 days after the rule is published, which is November 7, 2011.

Consistent with the regulatory deadline, EPA will remove CAIR allowances of vintage years 2012 and greater from all AMS accounts on Friday, October 14, 2011. Within 2 or 3 days before this date, EPA will send an email to the designated representatives and authorized account representatives of accounts that include these CAIR allowances and remind these representatives of the scheduled removal of these CAIR
allowances.

After removal of the vintage year 2012 and greater CAIR allowances, on Monday, October 17, 2011, EPA will begin recording vintage year 2012 TR allowance allocations in compliance accounts of units as addressed in the notice of data availability (NODA) published in the Federal Register on July 18, 2011. You can view the unit-level TR allowance allocations, and the data upon which those allocations are based .

On Monday, October 24, 2011, EPA will begin recording vintage year 2013 TR allowance allocations in compliance accounts for units in those states that have not notified EPA of an intent to submit, by April 1,
2012, allocations of vintage year 2013 TR allowances to existing units based on a state allocation methodology.

No TR allocations will be recorded for any source whose designated representative has not associated himself or herself, for the source, with the appropriate TR trading programs. EPA will send a followup
email within the next 2 weeks explaining how and when a designated representative can complete that task.

If you have any questions about these activities, please contact any of the following persons:

Robert Miller at 202-343-9077 or miller.robertl@epa.gov
Kenon Smith at 202-343-9164 or smith.kenon@epa.gov
Paula Branch at 202-343-9168 or branch.paula@epa.gov

The Center is registered in the Acid Rain Program.

Evergreen Solar Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy: Selling Itself

Evergreen Solar Inc. (ESLR), a maker of electricity generating solar panels, filed bankruptcy with plans to sell itself at an auction in order to pay creditors owed $485.6 million. The company, based in Marlboro, Massachusetts, blamed the bankruptcy on increased competition from government-subsidized solar-panel makers in China and the failure of the U.S. to adopt clean-energy policies.

Evergreen listed assets of about $424.5 million and as many as 5,000 creditors in its Chapter 11 petition filed today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware. Companies that file Chapter 11 usually plan to cut debt, reorganize and continue operating.

The company will fire about 65 people in Europe and the U.S., including at its plant in Midland, Michigan, which will be closed. A factory in Wuhan, China, built with a $33 million investment by the local government, will remain open while the company negotiates with its Chinese investors.

Evergreen has about 133 employees.

The case is In re Evergreen Solar Inc. 11-12590, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington). (Bloomberg, 8/15/2011)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

EPA's Air Pollution Exemption For Biomasss Power Plants

A lawsuit filed with the federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by The Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Law Foundation, Georgia ForestWatch, Natural Resources Council of Maine and Wild Virginia charges that biomass plants actually add to carbon pollution and should be stripped of its three-year free pass from greenhouse gas regulations.

The lawsuit targets an Environmental Protection Agency decision, announced earlier this year, that exempts large-scale biomass-burning facilities from carbon dioxide limits under the Clean Air Act for three years.

The Center not only supports biomass projects, we are actually actively pursuing the construction of a wood-to-electricity plant in Mississippi.

Citizen protests across the country are challenging new plants and the EPA exemption. From Florida to Georgia to Massachusetts to Washington state, critics point to environmental harm from biomass plants. Earlier this year, for instance, regulators fined two San Joaquin Valley, California plants $835,000 for sweeping alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act and local regulations.

Aided by hundreds of millions in stimulus dollars and support from Congress and the EPA, the electricity generating stations are spreading nationwide – burning trees, construction debris, poultry litter and agricultural mass as one piece of a larger push to develop sources of alternative energy. The industry counts some 100 plants in 20 states, with critics saying as many as 100 more are on the drawing board.

Biomass plants, typically located in rural areas, already provide some 2 percent of the nation’s energy, the Department of Energy estimates. The proportion could reach 15 percent by 2020 as the government awards federal subsidies to help bankroll the growth.

The EPA deems biomass a renewable energy source that is carbon-neutral. Yet the lawsuit contends the EPA’s deferral will harm the environment. The conservation groups are asking the court to overturn the carbon dioxide exemption for wood-fired power plants and other biomass incinerators. (iWatch, 8/15/2011)

Monday, August 15, 2011

EPA Administrator Jackson Leads Delegation to Brazil

On August 15-19, US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, right, will travel to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with the mayor of Philadelphia and representatives from US industry, government, academia and non-governmental organizations including, CH2MHILL, Morgan Stanley, Microsoft Corporation, Alcoa, the Rockefeller Foundation, Harvard University, C40 Cities and others to establish the United States-Brazil Joint Initiative on Urban Sustainability.

The initiative follows President Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's announcement in March launching a set of high-level activities focused on expanding markets for US business and mobilizing innovative finance aimed at demonstrating the economic, environmental, and health benefits of greener and cleaner cities. Administrator Jackson will be joined by her counterpart, Brazil's Minister of Environment Izabella Teixeira, Governor of Rio de Janeiro State Sergio Cabral, and Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes.

As the upcoming host of both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, Brazil has a unique opportunity to leverage approximately $200 billion in traditional infrastructure investments and push sustainable infrastructure to the top of its national agenda in a manner that supports both strong economic growth and sustainable development. Given President Rousseff’s interest in building 21st century cities and the importance President Obama places on building stronger and more sustainable communities, this US-Brazil initiative provides an opportunity to demonstrate global leadership on smart investments in healthier and more prosperous cities. The initiative will showcase the key outcomes of this cooperation at Rio +20 in June of 2012.

Administrator Jackson will lead a number of high-level meetings along with Minister Teixeira, and engage with federal and local officials, industry and stakeholders to advance the initiative. Following the meetings, Administrator Jackson will participate in a number of community development activities and connect with students and faculty at leading universities to build on President Obama’s Memorandum of Understanding on Major Global Sporting Events announced on March 19, 2011.

More information on US-Brazil Joint Initiative on Urban Sustainability

Friday, August 12, 2011

Tepco Adopts Center Cover Recommendation: Sarcophagus

The Center has recommended a permanent sarcophagus for the four reactors that exploded in March.  The Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) has finally decided to construct covers over the reactors.  According to Tepco, the installment of the cover over reactor 1 is a temporary emergency measure until a midterm measure is initiated. The cover is expected to be completed by October.

Tepco should have installed such a covering as soon as possible after the explosions at the reactor buildings. The Center has been making such a recommendation since the explosions occurred. Permanent covers should be constructed as soon as possible.

Reactor 1 with top blown off

The purpose of the cover for the reactor building

Tepco is planning to cover the damaged reactor building with highly airtight material. A cover for a reactor building is installed for the purpose of preventing diffusion of radioactive materials (radioactive materials discharged from the reactor, water vapor from spent fuel pool, rubbles and dust with radioactive materials, etc) and shutting off rain water into the reactor building. If the tent over reactor No. 1 proves successful, similar coverings will be constructed over reactors 2, 3 and 4.

Design Image of Covering

Summary of the structure

The cover has a steel frame structure, where four pillars are built around the reactor building, with beams connecting the four pillars. Roof panels and wall panels are fitted with film materials made of vinyl chloride resin coating and polyester fiber fabric which prevents most diffusion, and these panels cover the whole reactor building.

Dimension of the cover structure is approx. 154 feet (North-South direction) x approx. 137 feet (East-West direction), and approximately 177 feet of height.

The design of the cover for the reactor building confirms the safety of the cover against designed earthquake and wind.

Model of Covering

Large scale units

Steel frame beam (40m), filmed panels for walls (approx. 20m), and filmed panels for the roof (approx. 40m) are assembled into large modules. Large modules will be put together in the site using crawler cranes, with its capable load the largest class in the country (750t). Assembly of large modules will be carried out at Onahama port outside the site, and they will be carried to the site by ship. By this way, we will reduce the work load within the Power Station site and around the reactor building as much as possible.

Measuring / Control Technology

In order to enable remote installment, Tepco will use the latest technology such as systems to control lifted materials from rotating and detach rigging equipment by wireless signals, 3D laser scanning of the turbine building areas, real-time measurement and control of locations of materials in assembly process.

In order to ensure the installment using each of these technologies, Tepco is making tentative assembly at Onahama port. (Tepco)

EPA Developing Drinking Water Perchlorate Regulation

Seeks Input

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is inviting small businesses, governments, and not-for-profit organizations to participate as small entity representatives (SERs) for a small business advocacy review (SBAR) Panel. This panel will focus on the agency’s development of a rule that proposes to regulate the amount of perchlorate, a potentially harmful chemical, in drinking water. Federal law requires agencies to establish an SBAR Panel for rules that may have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

Perchlorate is both a naturally occurring and man-made chemical that is used to produce rocket fuel, fireworks, flares and explosives. Perchlorate can also be present in bleach and in some fertilizers.

EPA has determined that perchlorate meets the Safe Drinking Water Act’s three criteria for regulating a contaminant. First, perchlorate may have adverse health effects. Scientific research indicates that perchlorate can disrupt the thyroid’s ability to produce hormones needed for normal growth and development.Second,there is a substantial likelihood that perchlorate occurs frequently at levels of health concern in public water systems--monitoring data show more than four percent of public water systems have detected perchlorate. Finally, there is a meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction for the between 5.2 million and 16.6 million people who may be served drinking water containing perchlorate.

The panel will include federal representatives from the Small Business Administration, the Office of Management and Budget, and EPA. The panel members ask a selected group of SERs to provide advice and recommendations on behalf of their company, community, or organization to inform the panel members about the potential impacts of the proposed rule on small entities.

EPA seeks self-nominations directly from the small organizations that may be subject to the rule requirements. Other representatives, such as trade associations that exclusively or at least primarily represent potentially regulated small entities, may also serve as SERs.

Self-nominations may be submitted through the link below and must be received by August, 26 2011. (EPA)

Nominate yourself as a SER.

More information about perchlorate

EPA Issues Rule on Carbamate Wastes

On June 13, 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a direct final rule to revise the Land Disposal Restriction (LDR) treatment standard for carbamate wastes to ensure that the wastes are adequately treated before land disposal to minimize risks to people’s health and the environment.

Carbamate wastes are wastes generated from the production of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. Due to their toxicity, carbamate wastes are regulated as hazardous wastes under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Today’s action will extend Best Demonstrated Available Technology (BDAT) as an alternative treatment standard for all carbamate wastes. This alternative treatment standard will help industries comply with stringent hazardous waste disposal regulations and allow EPA to enforce these regulations to their fullest extent.

The public comment period on the rule closed on July 13, 2011. The rule will be effective on August 12, 2011. (EPA)

More information on the rule

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Rick Perry On Energy and Environment

Rick Perry
ALL CANDIDATES

Perry questions the validity of global-warming science:

“I do believe that the issue of global warming has been politicized,” he said Wednesday. “I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their — to their projects.

“I think we’re seeing — almost weekly or even daily — scientists who are coming forward and questioning the original idea that manmade global warming is what is causing the climate to change.” (Various News Reports)


On Energy (On The Issues)

$5,000 incentive for Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles. (Jan 2009)
More funding to develop domestic energy supplies. (Sep 2001)
Use federal funds for nuclear cleanup, with state input. (Sep 2001)
Share offshore oil development revenue with states. (Sep 2001)
Federal tax incentives for energy, with state decisions. (Aug 2001)
Signed the No Climate Tax Pledge by AFP. (Nov 2010)

FULL QUOTES

On Environment (On The Issues)
 
Flexible permitting to reduce ozone & NOx levels. (Feb 2011)
Stop declaring wildlife sanctuaries on water reservoirs. (Feb 2007)
More state autonomy on brownfields & Superfund cleanups. (Aug 2001)
Support State Revolving Loan Fund for flexible Clean Water. (Aug 2001)
Supports national drought policy, focusing on readiness. (Sep 2001)
Maintain water flow in Mississippi & Missouri Rivers. (Feb 2001)
Focus on prevention and states for Endangered Species. (Aug 2001)
Collaborative, incentive driven, locally-based solutions. (Aug 2001)
Apply "Good Samaritan" rules to abandoned mine cleanup. (Aug 2001)
State primacy over water quantity & quality issues. (Aug 2001)

FULL QUOTES
 
Early Support For Al Gore
 
Early in his career, Rick Perry was state chairman for Senator Al Gore's 1988 presidential campaign. At the time, Senator Gore was already an outspoken environmentalist and promoting many of the green policies seen today. Governor Perry has credited that experience with prompting his change the next year to the Republican party. By 2007, Governor Perry was mocking VP Gore's policies and opinions on global warming an carbon dioxide.
 
On Renewables Energy
 
In 2005, Texas passed SB20. This legislation increased the state's total renewable-energy mandate to 5,880 MW by 2015 and a target of 10,000 MW in 2025. This was due in part to Texas meeting it's 2009 goal in 2005. Senate Bill 20 requires that about 5 percent of the state’s energy come from renewable sources by 2015 and sets a goal of 10 percent by 2025. The bill also requires that 500 megawatts be produced by renewable sources other than wind, such as biomass and solar power. Governor Perry signed in the increased mandate into law, and on August 1, 2005 released a statement praising the legislation.
 
Transportation Fuels
 
In June of 2002, Governor Perry directed the department of Transportation for Texas to take appropriate measures to move a portion of the bus fleet to cleaner burning diesel fuels, and to move a portion of the fleet to zero emission vehicles.
 
Wind Power
 
In September of 2006, Governor Perry issued a press statement noting a historic investment of $10 billion in wind power. He notes that wind power is a zero-emission power source.
 
Ethanol
 
Governor Perry opposes the federal ethanol mandate. He has stated that the grain based fuel mandate is partly to blame for the rising food prices due to the pressure placed on corn prices and cattle feed prices. In April of 2008 he asked the Environmental protection agency for a 50% waiver from the fuel requirement. In August of that year, the EPA denied that request.
 
Cap & Trade
 
In June of 2009, Governor Perry issued a press statement noting his views that a cap-and-trade program could severely harm the Texas economy.
 
CO2
 
In December of 2009, the EPA ruled that carbon dioxide was a danger to the environment. This action was immediately opposed by Governor Perry. On December 7, Governor Perry stated that it was unconscionable that unelected bureaucrats at the EPA have declared carbon dioxide a public danger despite a lack of scientific evidence to support their ruling.
 
(The Political Guide)

DOE Advisory Board Releases Shale Gas Recommendations

The Secretary of Energy Advisory Board Subcommittee released a series recommendations today calling for increased measurement, public disclosure and a commitment to continuous improvement in the development and environmental management of shale gas, which has rapidly grown to nearly 30 percent of natural gas production in the United States.

Increased transparency and a focus on best practices “benefits all parties in shale gas production: regulators will have more complete and accurate information, industry will achieve more efficient operations and the public will see continuous, measurable, improvement in shale gas activities,” the report says.

The report calls for industry leadership in improving environmental performance, underpinned by strong regulations and rigorous enforcement, evolving to meet the identified challenges.

The report was prepared by the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board Shale Gas Production Subcommittee. Chaired by Deutch, an MIT professor, it was convened by Secretary of Energy Steven Chu at the direction of President Barack Obama who observed that “recent innovations have given us the opportunity to tap large reserves—perhaps a century’s worth” of shale gas.

The subcommittee was tasked with producing a report on the immediate steps that can be taken to improve the safety and environmental performance of shale gas development. The report reflects three months of deliberations among a diverse group of industry experts, environmental advocates, academics and former state regulators.

The report includes recommendations in four key areas:

1. Making information about shale gas production operations more accessible to the public

The report calls for the full disclosure of all chemicals used in fracturing fluids. While the committee agrees with the prevailing view that the risk of leakage of fracturing fluids through fractures made in deep shale reserves is remote where there are is large separation from drinking water, the report finds that there is no economic or technical reason to prevent public disclosure of all chemicals used in fracturing fluids.

It also calls for the creation of a national database of all public information made about shale gas. Assembling the data, which are currently dispersed in perhaps a hundred different locations, in a comparable format would permit easier access by all interested parties.

The report recommends government funding support for existing, multi-stakeholder mechanisms such as the non-profit Ground Water Protection Council’s Risk Based Data Management System and the State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulation. Encouraging such multi-stakeholder mechanisms will strengthen regulation and improve efficiency, the report finds.

2. Immediate and longer-term actions to reduce environmental and safety risks of shale gas operations, with a particular focus on protecting air and water quality

Air Quality:

The report says that measures should be taken to reduce emissions on air pollutants, ozone precursors and methane as quickly as practicable and supports prompt adoption of standards to reduce emissions of all air contaminants.

The subcommittee recommends the design and rapid implementation of measurement systems to collect comprehensive methane and other air emissions data from shale gas operations.

The subcommittee also recommends that a federal interagency planning effort be launched immediately to acquire data and analyze the overall greenhouse gas footprint of shale gas operations throughout the lifecycle of natural gas use in comparison to other fuels.

Water Quality:

The report urges the adoption of a systemic approach to water management based on consistent measurement and public disclosure. Companies should measure and publicly report the composition of water stocks and flow throughout the process; manifest all transfers of water among different locations; and makes recommendations about best practices in well development and construction, especially casing and cementing. Likewise, agencies should review and modernize their rules to ensure they are fully protective of both groundwater and surface water.

The findings also recommend additional field studies on methane leakage from hydrofractured wells to water reservoirs and the adoption of requirements for background water quality measurements to record existing methane levels in nearby water wells prior to drilling.

3. Creation of a Shale Gas Industry Operation organization committed to continuous improvement of best operating practices

A more systemic approach by the shale gas industry based on best practices—recognized as improvements to techniques and methods over time based on measurement and field experience—is an important way to achieve better operational and environmental outcomes, the report finds.

The report envisions the creation of a national organization, with external stakeholders, dedicated to continuous improvement of best practice through the development and diffusion of standards and the assessment of member compliance. The organization would likely work through regional subgroups.

4. Research and development (R&D) to improve safety and environmental performance

The report finds that, while the majority of shale gas R&D will be performed by the oil and gas industry, there is a role for the federal government.

The report recommends that the administration set an appropriate mission for shale gas R&D and level funding, with a particular focus on efficiency of water use and other improvements to enhance environmental objectives. (DOE)

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

White House Efficiency Standards for Heavy Trucks & Buses

Today, President Obama announced fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas pollution standards for work trucks, buses, and other heavy duty vehicles. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed the standards in close coordination with truck and bus manufacturing companies. The cost savings for American businesses are on top of the $1.7 trillion that American families will save at the pump from the historic fuel-efficiency standards announced by the Obama Administration for cars and light duty trucks, including the model year 2017-2025 agreement announced by the president last month.

For heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, separate standards are required for gasoline-powered and diesel trucks. These vehicles will be required to achieve up to approximately 15 percent reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by model year 2018. Under the finalized standards a typical gasoline or diesel powered heavy-duty pickup truck or van could save one gallon of fuel for every 100 miles traveled.

Vocational vehicles – including delivery trucks, buses, and garbage trucks – will be required to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 10 percent by model year 2018. These trucks could save an average of one gallon of fuel for every 100 miles traveled.

Under the comprehensive new national program, trucks and buses built in 2014 through 2018 will reduce oil consumption by a projected 530 million barrels and greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution by approximately 270 million metric tons. Like the administration’s historic car standards, this program – which relies heavily on off-the-shelf technologies – was developed in coordination with truck and engine manufacturers, fleet owners, the State of California, environmental groups and other stakeholders.

The joint DOT/EPA program will include a range of targets which are specific to the diverse vehicle types and purposes. Vehicles are divided into three major categories: combination tractors (semi-trucks), heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, and vocational vehicles (like transit buses and refuse trucks). Within each of those categories, even more specific targets are laid out based on the design and purpose of the vehicle. This flexible structure allows serious but achievable fuel efficiency improvement goals charted for each year and for each vehicle category and type.

The standards are expected to yield an estimated $50 billion in net benefits over the life of model year 2014 to 2018 vehicles, and to result in significant long-terms savings for vehicle owners and operators. A semi-truck operator could pay for the technology upgrades in under a year and realize net savings of $73,000 through reduced fuel costs over the truck’s useful life. These cost saving standards will also reduce emissions of harmful air pollutants like particulate matter, which can lead to asthma, heart attacks and premature death.

By the 2018 model year, the program is expected to achieve significant savings relative to current levels, across vehicle types. Certain combination tractors – commonly known as big-rigs or semi-trucks – will be required to achieve up to approximately 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by model year 2018, saving up to 4 gallons of fuel for every 100 miles traveled.

Beyond the direct benefits to businesses that own and operate these vehicles, the program will also benefit consumers and businesses by reducing costs for transporting goods, and spur growth in the clean energy sector by fostering innovative technologies and providing regulatory certainty for manufacturers. (EPA)

More information is available on EPA’s website

and on NHTSA’s website: