Friday, September 28, 2007

President Bush Outlines New Approach On Climate Change

Sep 28: President George Bush addressed the first Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change [See WIMS 9/27/07] of 17 countries plus the United Nations which he called for last May in advance of the G-8 meeting on June 6-8, in Heiligendamm, Germany. The meeting is part of the new initiative President Bush announced at the G-8 meeting to further the shared objectives of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy security and efficiency, and promoting strong economic growth.

President Bush said, "I'm honored to address this historic meeting on energy security and climate change. And I appreciate you all being here. Energy security and climate change are two of the great challenges of our time. The United States takes these challenges seriously. The world's response will help shape the future of the global economy and the condition of our environment for future generations. The nations in this room have special responsibilities. We represent the world's major economies, we are major users of energy, and we have the resources and knowledge base to develop clean energy technologies.

"Our guiding principle is clear: We must lead the world to produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and we must do it in a way that does not undermine economic growth or prevent nations from delivering greater prosperity for their people. We know this can be done. Last year America grew our economy while also reducing greenhouse gases. Several other nations have made similar strides.

"This progress points us in the right direction, but we've got to do more. So before this year's G8 summit, I announced that the United States will work with other nations to establish a new international approach to energy security and climate change. Today's meeting is an important step in this process. With the work we begin today, we can agree on a new approach that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen energy security, encourage economic growth and sustainable development, and advance negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change...

"For many years those who worried about climate change and those who worried about energy security were on opposite ends of the debate. It was said that we faced a choice between protecting the environment and producing enough energy. Today we know better. These challenges share a common solution: technology. By developing new low-emission technologies, we can meet the growing demand for energy and at the same time reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, our nations have an opportunity to leave the debates of the past behind, and reach a consensus on the way forward. And that's our purpose today.

"No one country has all the answers, including mine. The best way to tackle this problem is to think creatively and to learn from other's experiences and to come together on a way to achieve the objectives we share. Together, our nations will pave the way for a new international approach on greenhouse gas emissions.

"This new approach must involve all the world's largest producers of greenhouse gas emissions, including developed and developing nations. We will set a long-term goal for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. By setting this goal, we acknowledge there is a problem. And by setting this goal, we commit ourselves to doing something about it.

"By next summer, we will convene a meeting of heads of state to finalize the goal and other elements of this approach, including a strong and transparent system for measuring our progress toward meeting the goal we set. This will require concerted effort by all our nations. Only by doing the necessary work this year will it be possible to reach a global consensus at the U.N. in 2009.

"Each nation will design its own separate strategies for making progress toward achieving this long-term goal. These strategies will reflect each country's different energy resources, different stages of development, and different economic needs. "There are many policy tools that nations can use, including a variety of market mechanisms, to create incentives for companies and consumers to invest in new low-emission energy sources. We will also form working groups with leaders of different sectors of our economies, which will discuss ways of sharing technology and best practices.

"Each nation must decide for itself the right mix of tools and technologies to achieve results that are measurable and environmentally effective. While our strategies may be differentiated, we share a common responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while keeping our economies growing...

"We also need to take advantage of clean safe nuclear power. Nuclear power is the one existing source of energy that can generate massive amounts of electricity without causing any air pollution or greenhouse gas emissions. Without the world's 439 nuclear power plants, there would be nearly 2 billion additional tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere each year. And by expanding the use of nuclear power, we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions even more...

"As we work to transform the way we produce energy, we must also address another major factor in climate change, which is deforestation. The world's forests help reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by storing carbon dioxide. But when our forests disappear, the concentration of greenhouse gas levels rise in the atmosphere. Scientists estimate that nearly 20 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to deforestation...

"What I'm telling you is, is that we've got a strategy; we've got a comprehensive approach. And we look forward to working with our Congress to make sure that comprehensive approach is effective. And we look forward to working with you as a part of this global effort to do our duty..."

In addition to the President's address, other Administration officials also delivered addresses at the meeting including: the White House Office of Press Secretary; James Connaughton, Chairman, Council on Environmental Quality; Treasury Secretary Paulson, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Democrats Respond To President's Climate Change Approach

Sep 28: Two top Democrats were quick to react to President Bush's address to his first Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change. No immediate reaction was available from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Both Pelosi and Reid had 30 House members had called on the President to use the meeting to announce a U.S. position in support of "mandatory national and international limits" on the pollution that causes global warming and to achieve "real reductions in emissions."

Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), Chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, said that President Bush and his administration have "a history of rhetoric, but no action, on global warming." The Select Committee released a report entitled, Bush Global Warming Rhetoric v. Reality Timeline.

Markey, after "personally listening to the President’s speech on global warming this morning at the State Department," "expressed disappointment that a week of administration attention to global warming had produced little more than recycled rhetoric." Markey said the President had gathered the top 17 global warming emitters -- including the United States -- this week to discuss global warming solutions, but "he chose to skip the climate summit at the United Nations on Monday. The UN is considered the major organizing body for international climate action."

In a harsh statement, Markey said, "For these countries meeting with the President, this must have felt like attending a prayer session led by an atheist. The President is opposing mandatory caps on greenhouse gases, opposing a mandatory 10 mpg increase in cars and trucks, opposing a national renewable electricity standard, opposing state efforts to cut emissions from cars, and pushing for new sources of dangerous pollution from liquid coal. His efforts to protect the oil industry from Democratic efforts to close unneeded tax loopholes is impeding the transition to a renewable future. Does he support the Energy bill pending in Congress? No. Has he declared CO2 a dangerous threat to the public and the planet? No."

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, commented on the meeting saying, “I asked the President to call this summit with the hope that he would announce a new commitment to American leadership on the challenge of global warming. The rhetoric of the President’s speech today is an improvement, but unless it is followed up with mandatory cuts in global warming pollution, it will amount to little more than empty words. The President claims he is committed to action on global warming, but he has failed employ the two most effective tools we have -- mandatory cuts in carbon pollution and a cap-and-trade system. As Chairman of the Senate Environment Committee, I am committed to working with my colleagues on a bipartisan basis to pass global warming legislation that will include both mandatory controls on carbon pollution and a cap-and-trade system. I call on President Bush to work with us as we take the steps necessary to protect the planet.”

Access the Department of State website for all major addresses, information and reference documents from the meeting (click here). Access a White House fact sheet on the New Approach (click here). Access a video of the President's address (click here). Access the statement from Representative Markey (click here). Access a floor statement by Markey on September 27 (click here). Access the 5-page report from Representative Markey (click here). Access the statement from Senator Boxer (click here). [*Climate, *Energy]

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Major Economies Meeting On Energy Security & Climate Change

Sep 27: According to a fact sheet from the White House the United States is hosting representatives of 17 countries plus the United Nations in the first Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change [See WIMS 9/24/07, 9/26/07]. The meeting is part of the new initiative President Bush announced at the G-8 Leaders Conference in May 2007 to further the shared objectives of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy security and efficiency, and promoting strong economic growth [See WIMS 6/1/07].

The White House indicated that the meeting is the first of a series that will bring the world's major economies together to develop a detailed contribution to address energy security and climate change when the Kyoto Protocol targets expire in 2012. The meetings are intended to reinforce and accelerate discussions under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and contribute to a global agreement under the Convention by 2009. The U.S. is hosting representatives from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union (Portugal as current EU President plus the European Commission), France, Germany, Indonesia, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, and the United Kingdom, plus the United Nations.

The White House indicated further that the U.S. will work with participating major economies to agree on a path forward under the UNFCCC and a working agenda for the year, including the following steps. (1) establish a process for and considerations in reaching agreement, in 2008, on a long-term global goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (2) Consider national goals and strategies over the mid-term, reflecting each nation's own mix of energy sources, future energy needs, and development priorities, to address the challenges of energy security and climate change, and discuss what more needs to be done. (3) Highlight the most urgent needs for research and development of clean energy technologies. (4) Identify areas for collaboration in key sectors and discuss challenges and opportunities for the development, financing, and commercialization of clean energy technologies. Participants will also discuss the approaches to reduce or eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers for clean energy technologies and services. (5) Develop a stronger, more transparent, and reliable system for measuring actions to reduce greenhouse gases and improve energy security, and track progress toward meeting these goals.

The fact sheet says, "The President's international energy security and climate change initiative recognizes that responsible action to address climate change and economic growth go hand in hand. It is only through strong economies that we can sustain the investment necessary to achieve lasting solutions. While all countries must do their part to reduce emissions, we should not seek to impose on any countries measures or frameworks that thwart their efforts to meet the legitimate aspirations of their people for better and more prosperous lives... We are on track to meet or exceed the President's goal of reducing the greenhouse gas intensity of our economy by 18 percent by 2012. From 2000 to 2005, we reduced our economy's greenhouse gas intensity by 8.5 percent, while our population grew by 5.3 percent, and our economy grew by 12 percent."

Groups Hold Parallel Climate Change Meeting

Sep 25: On September 27 and 28, 2007 the National Environmental Trust (NET), the United Nations Foundation and the Royal Institute of International Affairs are hosting a parallel summit to President Bush's Major Economies meeting [See article above]. The groups said their meeting was necessary "in order to provide balance and ensure a focus on the UN climate process." NET said that leading climate change NGO experts from Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, India, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, and the United Kingdom will attend this summit. Many of the NGO leaders act as official advisors to their government on global warming and will be members of their respective nation's delegations at this December's Bali meeting.

The groups indicated that their parallel meeting is designed to produce balanced views based on the Major Economies Meeting (MEM) agenda and assess how this meeting could contribute to the UN climate process. It will provide a media counterpoint, with participants providing media background briefs on 26 September, prior to the opening of the intergovernmental conference, and reactions and commentary on the release of the MEC communiqué.

Access the White House fact sheet (click here). Access a list of attendees (click here). Access the Department of State website for information and reference documents about the meeting (click here). Access the White House Council on Environmental Quality Clean Energy and Climate Change website for additional information (click here). Access the NET website for more about the parallel conference; a full list of participants; a history of climate change negotiations and more (click here). [*Climate, *Energy]

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pelosi & Reid Call On Bush To Support Mandatory GHG Controls

Sep 24: In advance of a global warming conference this week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid released a letter to President Bush today, calling on him to announce his support for mandatory national and international limits on the pollution that causes global warming. On September 27 and 28, President Bush has invited the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Japan, China, Canada, India, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Australia, Indonesia, South Africa, and the United Nations to the Meeting of Economies on Energy Security. The meeting is part of the President's climate change initiatives announced last May in advance of the G-8 meeting on June 6-8, in Heiligendamm, Germany, [See WIMS 6/1/07].

Pelosi and Reid indicated in the letter, "Our legacy to the many generations that will follow us will depend upon how we handle the climate crisis and whether as a nation and as a world community we can take real action in time to avoid the worst effects of global warming. On Thursday and Friday, representatives of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitting nations will meet in Washington at your invitation to discuss their roles in combating global warming. We call upon you to use this occasion to announce your support for mandatory national and international limits on the pollution that causes global warming."

The letter continues, "The world is coming to a crossroads. Most of the countries represented at the Major Emitters Meeting – as well as most countries that will not be present – are working under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol to reach agreement on legally-binding emission limits for industrialized countries and on measures to achieve greater emission reductions from emerging economies under a robust, expanded carbon market. Such a system can provide us with a fair chance of staving off catastrophic warming, while supporting sustainable development and adaptation for all countries.

"Your Administration has been pursuing an alternative approach based on purely aspirational targets and non-binding pledges of national action, as was evident at the recent summit of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries. This voluntary approach, Mr. President, cannot succeed in staving off catastrophic climate change impacts... Finally, we ask for your commitment that the Washington meeting will not start a separate process competing with negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to which the U.S. is a party, and which is the world’s recognized forum for hammering out the international response to global warming..."

On September 26, Chairman Edward Markey of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, along with 29 other House members also sent a letter to the President asking for more concrete global warming action on the eve of the major emitters meeting. The letter notes that the "overwhelming scientific evidence on the immediacy of global warming" means that the President's voluntary, "aspirational" goals for cutting emissions does not go far enough. The letter asks the President to join the U.S. Congress to "put in place mandatory domestic policies that will achieve real reductions in emissions" like a cap and trade system currently being discussed in Congress.

Access a joint release from Pelosi and Reid that includes the full-text of the letter (
click here). Access the White House invitation letter to the President's climate change meeting (click here). Access a release and link to the Markey, et al letter (click here). [*Climate]

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

GAO Compares U.S. TSCA & European REACH Approaches

Sep 25: The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a letter report entitled, Chemical Regulation: Comparison of U.S. and Recently Enacted European Union Approaches to Protect against the Risks of Toxic Chemicals (GAO-07-825, August 17, 2007). The report was requested by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chair, Committee on Environment and Public Works AND Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ).

According to GAO, chemicals play an important role in everyday life. However, some chemicals are highly toxic and need to be regulated. In 1976, the Congress passed the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to authorize U.S. EPA to control chemicals that pose an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment, but some have questioned whether TSCA provides EPA with enough tools to protect against chemical risks. Like the United States, the European Union (EU) has laws governing the production and use of chemicals. The EU has recently revised its chemical control policy through legislation known as Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) [
See WIMS 12/13/06] in order to better identify and mitigate risks from chemicals.

GAO was asked to review the approaches used under TSCA and REACH for (1) requiring chemical companies to develop information on chemicals’ effects, (2) controlling risks from chemicals, and (3) making information on chemicals available to the public. To review these issues, GAO analyzed applicable U.S. and EU laws and regulations and interviewed U.S. and EU officials, industry representatives, and environmental advocacy organizations.

GAO indicates that REACH requires companies to develop information on chemicals’ effects on human health and the environment, while TSCA does not require companies to develop such information absent EPA rule-making requiring them to do so. While TSCA does not require companies to develop information on chemicals before they enter commerce (new chemicals), companies are required to provide EPA any information that may already exist on a chemical’s impact on human health or the environment. Companies do not have to develop information on the health or environmental impacts of chemicals already in commerce (existing chemicals) unless EPA formally promulgates a rule requiring them to do so. Partly because of the resources and difficulties the agency faces in order to require testing to develop information on existing chemicals, EPA has moved toward using voluntary programs as an alternative means of gathering information from chemical companies in order to assess and control the chemicals under TSCA. While these programs are noteworthy, data collection has been slow in some cases, and it is unclear if the programs will provide EPA enough information to identify and control chemical risks.

TSCA places the burden of proof on EPA to demonstrate that a chemical poses a risk to human health or the environment before EPA can regulate its production or use, while REACH generally places a burden on chemical companies to ensure that chemicals do not pose such risks or that measures are identified for handling chemicals safely. In addition, TSCA provides EPA with differing authorities for controlling risks, depending on whether the risks are posed by new or existing chemicals. For new chemicals, EPA can restrict a chemical’s production or use if the agency determines that insufficient information exists to permit a reasoned evaluation of the health and environmental effects of the chemical and that, in the absence of such information, the chemical may present an unreasonable risk. For existing chemicals, EPA may regulate a chemical for which it finds a reasonable basis exists to conclude that it presents or will present an unreasonable risk. Further, TSCA requires EPA to choose the regulatory action that is least burdensome in mitigating the unreasonable risk. However, EPA has found it difficult to promulgate rules under this standard. Under REACH, chemical companies must obtain authorization to use chemicals that are listed as chemicals of very high concern. Generally, to obtain such authorization, chemical companies need to demonstrate that they can adequately control risks posed by the chemical or otherwise ensure that the chemical is used safely.

TSCA and REACH both have provisions to protect information claimed by chemical companies as confidential or sensitive business information but REACH requires greater public disclosure of certain information, such as basic chemical properties, including melting and boiling points. In addition, REACH places greater restrictions on the kinds of information chemical companies may claim as confidential.

Access the complete 56-page GAO report (
click here). Access the European Commission REACH website for additional information (click here). Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort REACH links for additional information (click here). [*Toxics]

Monday, September 24, 2007

Historic Montreal Agreement Prelude To Warming Agreement?

Sep 22: Nations signed an agreement to accelerate freeze and phase out of substances known as hydrochlorflurocarbons (HCFCs) under the 20 year-old Montreal Protocol -- the UNEP treaty established in 1987 to protect the Earth's ozone layer from chemical attack. The historic agreement will address the twin challenges of protecting the ozone layer and combating climate change. The decision, including an agreement that sufficient funding will be made available to achieve the strategy, follows mounting evidence that HCFCs contribute to global warming.

HCFCs emerged as replacement chemicals in the 1990s for in air conditioning, some forms of refrigeration equipment and foams following an earlier decision to phase-out older and more ozone-damaging chemicals known as CFCs or chloroflurocarbons. Governments meeting in Montreal, agreed at the close to freeze production of HCFCs in 2013 and move up the final phase-out date of these chemicals by ten years. Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, called the agreement an "important and quick win for combating climate change." He said, "Historic is an often over-used word but not in the case of this agreement made in Montreal. Governments had a golden opportunity to deal with the twin challenges of climate change and protecting the ozone layer -- and governments took it. The precise and final savings in terms of greenhouse gas emissions could amount to several billions of tonnes illustrating the complementarities of international environmental agreements."

UN officials were hopeful that the agreement and the spirit of Montreal would build confidence in the United Nations as a platform for negotiating effective agreements for addressing climate change as the spotlight now moves to New York where, on September 24, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is hosting a Heads of State meeting on climate change. The Secretary-General hopes that world leaders will send a powerful political signal to the negotiations in Bali [December 3-14] that "business as usual" will not do and that they are ready to work jointly with others towards a comprehensive multilateral framework for action on climate change for the period after 2012. The event is titled, The Future in our Hands: Addressing the Leadership Challenge of Climate Change [See WIMS 9/14/07].

HCFCs, which also damage the ozone layer but less than CFCs, were always planned as interim substitutes and were due to be phased out in 2030 by developed countries and in 2040 by developing ones. In Montreal six proposals were put before governments from both developed and developing countries. They represented a variety of options including the freeze dates; reduction steps towards a final and accelerated phase out. The final agreement is a combination of the various options proposed by Argentina and Brazil; Norway and Switzerland; the United States; Mauritania, Mauritius and the Federated States of Micronesia.

Under the agreement, productions of HCFCs are to be frozen at the average production levels in 2009-2010 in 2013. Developed countries have agreed to reduce production and consumption by 2010 by 75 per cent and by 90 per cent by 2015 with final phase out in 2020. Developing countries have agreed to cut production and consumption by 10 per cent in 2015; by 35 per cent by 2020 and by 67.5 per cent by 2025 with a final phase-out in 2030. It was also agreed that a small percentage of the original base line amounting to 2.5 per cent will be allowed in developing countries during the period 2030-2040 for "servicing" purposes. Essentially this means that some equipment, coming towards the end of its life such as office block air conditioning units, could continue to run on HCFCs for a few more years if needed.

The 191 Parties to the Montreal Protocol -- 190 countries plus the European Commission -- also made an agreement on financing. The Protocol's financial arm -- the Multilateral Fund -- which to date has spent over $2 billion to assist developing country reductions comes up for renewal next year. The new agreement takes into account the need for "stable and sufficient" funds and the fact that there may be "incremental costs" for developing countries under the accelerated HCFC freeze and phase out. The Governments agreed to a short study by experts to fully assess the likely costs of the acceleration. They will report back early in 2008 and inform parties on the suggested sums required for the renewal funding.

In a release from Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), David Doniger, policy director of the group's Climate Center said, “This week’s deal will sharply cut global emissions, especially by reducing large HCFC increases expected in the next decade from China and India. The Bush administration deserves credit for working with other countries to push for faster cuts in HCFCs. The quicker phase-out will help heal the ozone layer and reduce skin cancer. Reducing HCFCs also helps cut global warming pollution... The Montreal ozone treaty is a model for progress on global warming. It shows that a binding treaty -- with industrial countries taking the lead and with real pollution limits for both developed and developing nations -- can successfully cut global pollution and trigger a clean technology revolution.”

Later in the week, President Bush has invited 17 of the largest greenhouse gas emitting countries to participate in a Meeting of Major Economies on Energy Security and Climate Change, on September 27-28, 2007, in Washington, DC [See WIMS 8/16/07]. The President's meeting is part of the Administration's announced plans on May 31, 2007, to support for "an effort to develop a new post-2012 framework on climate change by the end of 2008 [
See WIMS 6/1/07].

The September 24, UN meeting is being called the largest-ever gathering of world leaders on climate change with a call to forge a coalition to accelerate a global response. Secretary-General Ban told the participants -- top officials from over 150 nations, including 80 heads of State or Government -- at UN Headquarters in New York, “I am convinced that climate change, and what we do about it, will define us, our era, and ultimately the global legacy we leave for future generations.”

Access a release on the Montreal Protocol meeting with extensive links to detailed information (
click here). Access further information on the High-Level meeting including background, special envoys, FAQs and more (click here). Access the complete NRDC release (click here). Access further information on the President's meeting including the invitation letter and list of invitees (click here) and from the WIMS link above. Access a release from the UN on the September 24 meeting (click here). [*Air, *Climate]

Friday, September 21, 2007

Potential For Carbon Sequestration In The U.S.

Sep 20: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report entitled, The Potential for Carbon Sequestration in the United States. The 32-page report was prepared at the request of the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Private Sector and Consumer Solutions to Global Warming and Wildlife Protection of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works -- Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT). The report examines the methods, technological potential, and possible costs of carbon sequestration in the United States. In accordance with CBO’s mandate to provide objective, impartial analysis, the paper makes no recommendations.

According to the report, human activity emits roughly 32 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) -- the primary greenhouse gas -- into the atmosphere each year. Worldwide, about 80 percent of those emissions come from the combustion of oil, coal, natural gas, and other fossil fuels; the remaining 20 percent comes from deforestation. (Because plants take in CO2, removing them releases some or all of that carbon.) Currently, in any given year, the equivalent of about half of total CO2 emissions are absorbed by the world’s oceans, soil, and vegetation, which (together with the atmosphere and fossil carbon deposits) make up the
natural reservoirs through which carbon flows over time.

The other half of those emissions remain in the atmosphere, contributing to the rising atmospheric concentration of CO2 and the gradual warming of the Earth’s climate. Various analyses suggest that avoiding future climate related damage by starting to reduce the atmospheric concentration of CO2 would have greater benefits than costs. Options for doing that include not only curbing activities that generate emissions but also sequestering CO2 -- for example, by encouraging its absorption from the atmosphere into vegetation and soil (biological sequestration) and by trapping CO2 at power plants and industrial facilities before it is emitted and injecting it into underground storage sites (a process known as carbon dioxide capture and storage, or CCS).

The paper looks at the methods, potential scale, and possible costs of both types of carbon sequestration. It also examines the particular role that sequestration could play in the context of the full range of possible actions to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The report indicates that biological sequestration faces implementation challenges, in part because it can be easily reversed by common natural disturbances, such as fires, or by changes in land use and management. Carbon dioxide capture and storage involves capturing CO2 emissions for long-term storage in geologic formations such as oil or natural gas fields, coal seams that cannot be mined economically, or deep saline formations. Such sites offer the potential for much larger and more secure storage than biological sequestration does. (Another possibility is to inject CO2 deep into the ocean, but that option raises significant ecological concerns.)

Studies estimate that biological sequestration has the technological potential to sequester about 40 billion to 60 billion metric tons of CO2 in the United States over the course of 50 years and another few tens of billions of tons over the following half-century. The total capacity for storing captured CO2 emissions in geologic formations is estimated at roughly 1.2 trillion to 3.6 trillion metric tons. Thus, the United States has the technological potential to offset roughly a decade’s worth of its current CO2 emissions through biological sequestration and a few hundred years’ worth of emissions through carbon dioxide capture and storage.

If a policy was established to limit the atmospheric concentration of CO2, it would effectively put a price on CO2 emissions -- with a corresponding value for CCS and perhaps also for biological sequestration. The specific details of the policy would determine the price. The range of recently debated policies and literature on the economic costs of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions suggest a CO2 price of about $5 to $65 per metric ton by 2020.

CO2 capture and storage, which has a fairly large technological potential, has not yet been demonstrated on the scale envisioned for mitigating CO2 emissions. It is also more costly than biological sequestration. Analysts estimate that the CO2 price would need to be in the range of $15 to $90 per metric ton (depending on the type of electricity plant at which the CO2 was captured) to cover the anticipated costs of CCS and exploit the full potential for geologic storage. That potential corresponds to several hundred years’ worth of CO2 emissions at current U.S. levels.

To refine estimates of the extent to which the United States might use carbon sequestration practices, those practices need to be considered in the context of a broader range of strategies for mitigating climate change. Other strategies include increasing the nation’s reliance on renewable or alternative sources of energy (including biofuels), using energy more efficiently, and reducing emissions of other greenhouse gases (such as methane and nitrous oxide). The relative importance of those different strategies is apt to vary over time with changes in the price for CO2. Analysis suggests that limits on CO2 emissions would be likely to spur an increasing, and relatively large, reliance on carbon dioxide capture and storage for some time. By contrast, the economic potential for biological sequestration would start to decline after some point.

Access the complete CBO report (click here). [*Climate]

Thursday, September 20, 2007

East Kentucky Power Gets $11.4 Million Acid Rain Fine: Largest Ever

Sep 20: In what U.S. EPA called a "landmark settlement," East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC), a coal-fired electric utility, has agreed to pay an $11.4 million penalty to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act’s acid rain program. In the settlement announced by EPA and the Department of Justice, the U.S. is seeking court-approval for the highest fine ever under the Clean Air Act's acid rain program. The Commonwealth of Kentucky joined in the consent decree. The settlement requires that the company take steps to reduce approximately 400 tons of harmful emissions each year and offset another approximately 20,000 tons of emissions released from its Clark County, KY facility without a permit.

The government estimated that the utility’s Dale Generating Station emitted over 15,000 tons of sulfur dioxide and 4,000 tons of nitrogen oxide without a permit from approximately 2000-2005. In addition, the government alleged the utility exceeded the Federal annual emission rate for nitrogen oxides. The utility is also required to apply for an acid rain permit, continuously monitor sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, and install and operate nitrogen oxide controls. These pollution controls will reduce annual nitrogen oxide emissions by approximately 400 tons per year.

Coal-fired power plants are allowed to emit sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides in the form of “allowances,” which are granted under Federal or state acid rain permits based on a national annual emissions cap. If a utility emits less, it can sell unused allowances to other utilities, or save them for use later. If it emits more, it must purchase allowances from other utilities and surrender those allowances to EPA. In this case, EKPC is required to purchase and retire allowances representing 20,000 tons of emissions, which represents their emissions during the period of noncompliance.

The agreement allows the company to pay the $11.4 million penalty over six years. Last July, EKPC agreed to install pollution controls estimated to cost $650 million and to pay a $750,000 penalty to resolve violations of the new source review provisions of the Clean Air Act at the Dale facility and two other plants.The latest proposed agreement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in Lexington, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.

Access a release from EPA and links more information on the settlement (
click here). Access a copy of the Consent Decree (click here). [*Air]

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Senate Hearing On America’s Wastewater Infrastructure Needs

Sep 19: The Senate Environment and Pubic Works Committee, Subcommittee on Transportation Safety, Infrastructure Security, and Water Quality, Chaired by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) held a hearing entitled, "Meeting America’s Wastewater Infrastructure Needs in the 21st Century." Witnesses testifying at the hearing included: Benjamin Grumbles, Assistant Administrator for Water, U.S. EPA; the Mayor of Trenton, New Jersey and President, U.S. Conference of Mayors; the Mayor of Carencro, Louisiana and Board Member, Louisiana Rural Water Association; the Chief of the Financial Assistance Division of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board and Vice President of the Council of Infrastructure Financing Authorities; the Assistant City Attorney, Public Works General Counsel for the City of Los Angeles and President of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies; and the Director, Clean Water Program, Natural Resources Defense Council.

A press briefing on September 18, prior to the hearing included: Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Chair of the Senate Environment Public Works Committee; and representatives from the National Association of Clean water Agencies (NACWA); Associated General Contractors of America (AGC); the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE); the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC); American Rivers, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC); and the Water Environment Federation (WEF).

At the briefing, Patrick Natale, executive director of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) said, "Unfortunately, 35 years after enactment of the Clean Water Act, commitment to maintaining this vital resource has dwindled. With an estimated funding gap of as much as $500 billion over the next 20 years, the nation is facing the very real possibility that we will wind up with a lesser water quality than existed prior to the Clean Water Act's passage in 1972. That is unacceptable... It is time that Congress hears our message--we must renew federal investment in our nation's vital water and wastewater infrastructure, or risk reversing the public health, environmental and economic gains of the past three decades..." ASCE's delivered its Report Card for America's Infrastructure and Action Plan for the 110th Congress.

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) delivered opening remarks saying, the Clean Water SRF is the cornerstone of federal clean water assistance to the nation’s cities and towns. Since its creation in 1987, the Clean Water SRF has saved its borrowers over $3.7 billion in interest costs and also provided $8.2 billion in funding to improve the nation’s water quality. Importantly, the federal government has provided $24 billion in state capitalization grants. In 2006, there was more than $60 billion available for loans to communities.

Inhofe stated, "The effort that we are about to undertake will be the fourth time in four Congresses that we have attempted to move a water infrastructure bill. Only one of our previous three attempts at passing a water infrastructure bill was bipartisan. I hope that this year we can again have a bipartisan bill as we did last Congress under my leadership and that we can work together to move it to the Senate floor. To do so, we must avoid many of the mistakes of previous efforts. The bill must be clean of too many additional requirements on the applicants. We are not providing grants through the current SRF. These are loans to be repaid by municipalities. In order to truly provide them with federal assistance in meeting their regulatory obligations under the federal environmental statutes, we must provide loans with as few strings attached as possible. There are legislative proposals pending that include additional requirements for states and localities to meet. While I am sure someone can find value in almost all of these requirements, I am concerned their cumulative impact may be to create a program far too burdensome for anyone to use.
Additionally, in previous attempts, even last year, we failed to come to a unified committee resolution to the issue of Davis-Bacon. Failing to do so again will likely result in yet another stalemate..."

EPA's Grumbles testified that, "...of the 222.8 million people served by wastewater treatment facilities, more than 98.5 percent (219.5 million people) are served by “secondary treatment” (or better), a technical but important term of art that refers to a biological treatment process designed to remove dissolved organic matter from wastewater. Secondary treatment may remove up to 90 percent of remaining biological matter such as human waste, food waste, soaps and detergent. More than 281 million people receive drinking water on a daily basis from more than 52,000 community water systems throughout the nation...

"Over the past 20 years, communities have spent more than $1 trillion (in 2001 dollars) on infrastructure, operations and maintenance for wastewater treatment and disposal and drinking water treatment and supply. But, it may not be enough to keep pace with America's aging infrastructure systems... the potential gap between spending and needs between 2000 and 2019 would be approximately $122 billion (in 2001 dollars) for wastewater infrastructure and $102 billion (in 2001 dollars) for drinking water infrastructure. If revenue grows at 3% per year, a projection that is consistent with long-term growth estimates of the economy, the gap is approximately $21 billion (in 2001 dollars) for wastewater infrastructure and $45 billion (in 2001 dollars) for drinking water infrastructure..."

Grumbles said that in addition to the SRF programs EPA is proposing an important new tool -- Water Enterprise Bonds -- to accelerate and increase investment in the nation’s water infrastructure. Water Enterprise Bonds will enhance access and flexibility for utilities to issue private activity bonds for public-purpose drinking water and wastewater facilities. He said the Agency is also looking aggressively for innovative ways to reduce costs and increase incentives to foster sustainable water infrastructure investment and management. Overall he said, "The Agency has approached the challenge of keeping pace with infrastructure needs of the future by developing a comprehensive strategy built upon what we call the 'Four Pillars of Sustainable Infrastructure' --better management, full cost pricing, water efficiency, and the watershed approach." He also acknowledged that, "Increasingly, we understand climate change may have impacts on water infrastructure and watersheds that will affect our actions under the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and various ocean and coastal laws."

Access the hearing website for links to all testimony, opening statements and a webcast (
click here). Access the ASCE statement and link to the report card and related information (click here). Access a release from NRDC (click here). [*Water]

Here's The Other Articles We Published Today...

Major Report Finds Contamination From Coal Waste Minefills
OMB Updated Principles For Risk Analysis
EPA Issues Final Rule Amending NEPA Procedures
Traffic Congestion Causes $78 Billion Drain On Economy
GAO Report On Farm Payments & Grassland Conversions
DOE Agreement Will Increase Data Centers' Energy Efficiency
U.S. PIRG Report On State Renewable Electricity Standards
Great Lakes Regional Data Exchange 2007
Budget Dealings Grind On; Time Running Short
Phragmites Control Demonstration Project

(click here for a free 30-day trial)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Groups Petition SEC To Require Disclosure Of Climate Change Risks

Sep 18: According to a release from Ceres, a broad coalition of investors, state officials with regulatory and fiscal management responsibilities, and environmental groups filed a landmark petition asking the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to require publicly-traded companies to assess and fully disclose their financial risks from climate change. The coalition also formally asked the Commission's Division of Corporation Finance to immediately begin "scrutinizing the adequacy of registrants' climate disclosures" closely under existing law.

In addition to Environmental Defense and Ceres, the 22 petitioners include leading institutional investors in the U.S. and Europe managing more than $1.5 trillion in assets. Some of the signers include the California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Maine State Treasurer David G. Lemoine, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, North Carolina State Treasurer Richard Moore and Oregon State Treasurer Randall Edwards, as well as New York State Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo.

The first-of-its-kind petition cites unequivocal scientific evidence, far-reaching regulatory developments and extensive business recognition that the risks and opportunities many corporations face in connection with climate change are material to shareholder investment decisions and must be disclosed under existing law. Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense said, "Smart companies know that profits and jobs come from solving problems, not ignoring them. Investors have a right to know who is paying attention."

Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres and director of the Investor Network on Climate Risk said, "The SEC needs to do more to protect investors from the risks companies face from climate change, whether from direct physical impacts or new regulations. Shareholders deserve to know if their portfolio companies are well positioned to manage climate risks or whether they face potential exposure."

According to the release, climate change can affect corporate performance in ways ranging from physical damage to facilities and increased costs of regulatory compliance, to opportunities in global markets for climate-friendly products or services that emit little or no global warming pollution. "Those risks fall squarely into the category of material information that companies must disclose under existing law to give shareholders a full and fair picture of corporate performance and operations," according to the petition. The petition asks SEC to clarify that, under existing law, companies must disclose material information related to climate change.

Ceres said that despite a groundswell of demand from investors for more information in climate risks, corporate disclosure has been scant and inconsistent. They cited Exxon Mobil Corporation, the world's largest petrochemical enterprise, which included only one cursory reference to climate change in its entire 2006 annual filing with the SEC. Allstate Corporation, which insures 1 in 8 homes in the U.S. and reported over $4 billion in losses from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, did not mention climate change at all in its latest annual filing. A January 2007 study published by Ceres and the Calvert Group, an asset management firm, found that more than half of the companies in the S&P 500 Index are doing a poor job disclosing climate change risks to their investors. Companies in sectors with low greenhouse gas emissions, including insurance companies and banks, had especially poor disclosure.

Access a release from Ceres listing the signers of the petition (click here). Access the complete 11-page petition (click here). Access the Ceres website for additional information (click here). [*Climate]

Monday, September 17, 2007

Global Nuclear Partnership Triples in Size To 16

Sep 16: At a meeting in Vienna, Austria, U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman and senior international officials from 16 nations agreed to increase international nuclear energy cooperation through the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP). China, France, Japan, Russia and the United States, who are original GNEP partners, as well as Australia, Bulgaria, Ghana, Hungary, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, and Ukraine signed a “Statement of Principles”, which addresses the prospects of expanding the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including enhanced safeguards, international fuel service frameworks, and advanced technologies. Bodman said, “Through GNEP, we are joining governments of the east and west, north and south in pursuit of a common goal: the safe, global expansion of nuclear power. Today’s Ministerial sets our nations on a path to address issues of nuclear fuel services and infrastructure development and work to share the benefits of nuclear power worldwide.”

The second GNEP Ministerial held in Vienna, ahead of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference this week and was attended by 38 nations and three international organizations. Senior international energy officials participated in sessions focused on reliable fuel services and infrastructure, which are considered integral to GNEP’s development. In order to address all aspects of fuel services, officials agreed to form a Nuclear Fuel Services Working Group under GNEP, which will focus on practical measures and benefits for comprehensive fuel services, such as fuel leasing and other arrangements for spent fuel management. Officials also discussed steps to provide guidance or technical assistance for assessing countries’ infrastructure needs, while consulting with the IAEA. Officials agreed to form a Nuclear Infrastructure Development Working Group under GNEP to address the challenges that nuclear power poses in the financial, technical and human resources of many countries.

GNEP, first announced by President Bush in 2006, is part of his Advanced Energy Initiative, which aims to utilize alternative and renewable fuels to increase energy, economic and international security. GNEP seeks to develop worldwide consensus on enabling expanded use of "clean, safe, and affordable nuclear energy" to meet growing electricity demand. GNEP proposes a nuclear fuel cycle that enhances energy security, while promoting non-proliferation.

Despite DOE's announced expansion of the program, as previously reported, the Keystone Center released a report in June this year showing areas of agreement from a diverse group of stakeholders on the risks and benefits of nuclear power. Among other items the conclusions from 27 participants associated with the nuclear industry, environmental groups, consumer advocates, government regulators, consultants, and academics indicated that, "critical elements of the program [GNEP] are unlikely to succeed." [
See WIMS 6/18/07].

The Keystone report outlined many problems with the GNEP including, "The proposal to build a fast reactor that can consume or destroy both plutonium and higher actinides represents a revival of a technology option that has been repeatedly rejected by U.S. policymakers. Developing fuel for such a reactor is but one of the technologically problematic aspects of GNEP. The other is the incompatibility between the commitment of civilian nuclear plant operators to move ahead with standardized reactor design of proven technology and the federal government’s intent to commit to fast reactor designs that are unlikely ever to be adopted by industry."

Access a release from DOE with links to the GNEP List of Countries 9-16-2007, GNEP Operating Documents, the Signed Statement of Principles and the GNEP website (
click here). Access the 108-page Keystone final report (click here). [*Energy, Haz/Nuclear]

Friday, September 14, 2007

EIA Analysis Of 25% RPS & 25% RFS By 2025

Sep 11: The Energy Information Administration (EIA) released a report entitled, Energy and Economic Impacts of Implementing Both a 25-Percent RPS and a 25-Percent RFS by 2025. The report responds to a request by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) for analysis of a “25-by-25" proposal that combines a requirement that a 25-percent share of electricity sales be produced from renewable sources by 2025 with a requirement that a 25-percent share of liquid transportation fuel sales also be derived from renewable sources by 2025. The electricity requirement is implemented as a renewable portfolio standard (RPS), while the motor fuel standard is implemented as a renewable fuel standard (RFS). The report provides a summary of the impacts of the Policy on U.S. energy markets and the economy through 2030.

The RPS establishes a market for renewable energy credits, which will be created by the generation of electricity from qualified renewable generators (e.g., wind, geothermal, biomass, and solar). Electricity retailers must hold RPS credits in proportion to the amount of electricity they sell. Electricity providers can generate their own renewable electricity or trade renewable electricity credits to assure compliance. Similarly, the RFS establishes a market for renewable fuel credits, based on the amount of ethanol or other biofuels sold for motor transportation. Transportation fuel providers must hold RFS credits in proportion to the amount of motor transportation fuels they sell.

The study compares a Policy Case incorporating the 25-by-25 proposal to an updated version of the Reference Case from the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA’s) Annual Energy Outlook 2007 (AEO2007). Revisions to the Reference Case for this analysis included: expiration of existing ethanol tax credits and tariffs as currently scheduled by law; updates to supply curves for domestic biomass and corn resources; inclusion of offshore wind technology; and updates of the potential for ethanol imports from Brazil.

Among other things the analysis says that, to comply with the twin 25-by-25 mandates, it will be necessary for electricity and motor fuel producers to dramatically increase their use of technologies that play a relatively small role in today’s energy markets. For example, the amount of qualifying renewable generation needed to comply with the RPS would require almost a 13-fold increase in nonhydropower renewable generation from 2005 levels by 2025. Similarly, the amount of ethanol and biodiesel needed to comply with the RFS would require more than a 12-fold increase from 2005 levels.

Big changes in the energy system, especially when implemented quickly, come with numerous uncertainties, the impacts of which may not be fully captured in this study. For example, compliance with the twin 25-by-25 mandates would require successful development and rapid deployment of new technologies, such as biomass gasification power plants and cellulosic ethanol plants, that currently are not commercially available. Policy case results are very sensitive to assumptions made regarding the cost and availability of key technologies. Even current technologies, such as wind power, engender significant uncertainties. Once the most economical wind resources are utilized, less attractive resources would have to be developed, with costs that are not well understood.

While a strong push for renewable energy technologies could lead to significant reductions in their costs through breakthroughs or learning, it is also possible that costly hurdles -- such as resistance to the siting of new plants, higher than expected transmission interconnection costs, and fuel supply limits -- could arise, limiting the development and deployment of renewable energy technologies, and making the proposed mandates much more disruptive and possibly unattainable.

The large increases in bioenergy resources, including corn and other energy crops, that would be needed to comply with the 25-percent RPS and RFS requirements could have significant impacts on agricultural markets and put upward pressure on food and feed prices worldwide. While very rapid improvements in crop yields could limit such pressures, there is considerable uncertainty about the potential for and timing of such improvements. The RFS would also require rapid market penetration of Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) and development of the infrastructure needed to deliver E85 and biodiesel to consumers.

Implementation of the proposed RFS policy is likely to involve a major realignment of current capital investment plans and strategies for refiners, automotive manufacturers, and others. For example, substantial capital investment would be needed to put the E85 infrastructure in place to meet the requirements under the RFS policy.
The results of this analysis also suggest that the 25-percent requirement for renewable motor fuel use would significantly increase the use of corn in ethanol production, leading to sharply higher corn prices, substantial changes in domestic feed practices, and large cuts in or elimination of corn exports. The uncertainties inherent in implementing this policy suggest that, while not impossible, it would be very challenging and carry substantial risk.

Access links to the complete study or individual sections (
click here). [*Energy]

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Green Mountain Chrysler-Plymouth-Dodge et al v. Crombie et al

Sep 12: In the U.S. Federal District Court of Vermont (Case No. 2:05-cv-302), Chief Judge William Sessions III, issued a 244-page ruling upholding Vermont’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (GHG) regulations for new motor vehicles. The Judge rejected the auto industry’s main claim that the emission standards are actually fuel economy standards that conflict with the Federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act. Judge Sessions also ruled that the GHG emissions standards do not interfere with the foreign policy powers of the President or Congress.

Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell said, “This is such a big win. For those concerned about a healthier environment and those concerned about global warming, this is indeed a day to celebrate.” Vermont's Governor Jim Douglas said, "Most of Vermont’s greenhouse gases are emitted by automobiles and for us to significantly reduce our carbon footprint the innovations that occur in states like Vermont are critical. Setting high -- but achievable -- standards for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles is a tool every state must have the option of employing. Now, thanks to our victory, every state will.”

Senate Environment and Pubic Works Committee Chair, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), issued a brief statement saying, "Today’s decision in the Vermont case is a clear cut victory for cleaning up the environment and combating global warming. It’s a good day for the American people." David Doniger, policy director of the Climate Center at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said, “This is a tremendous step forward for states trying to do everything they can to fight global warming. The ruling affirms the right of any state to choose the emission standard first set by California. This is an essential tool in the fight to prevent the worst impacts of global warming.” Environmental Defense, who helped argue the Vermont case said, “This ruling takes away the last excuse for delay -- it’s time for EPA to clear the way for cleaner cars. The U.S. auto industry should stop litigating and start innovating.”

Dave McCurdy, president & CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (Alliance) issued a statement saying, "Federal law is designed to ensure a consistent fuel economy program across the country. It makes sense that only the federal government can regulate fuel economy. Automakers support improving fuel economy standards nationally, rather than piecemeal and will continue to work with the Congress, NHTSA and EPA to reduce our oil dependence while increasing fuel economy. Concerning EPA's decision on whether to grant the requested waiver, the Alliance remains committed to working with policymakers to make certain that the EPA's judgment is based on credible, sound scientific data as to what policies truly impact California, its citizens and global climate concerns.The Alliance will continue studying the decision and considering the options, including an appeal." The Alliance is a coalition of 9 car and light truck manufacturers, including BMW Group, DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Mazda, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen.

Vermont’s regulations incorporate by reference regulations adopted by California in 2005. To date, 11 other states have adopted California’s regulations. The regulations establish one set of GHG emission standards for passenger cars, small trucks, and small Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs), and another set for large trucks and large SUVs. The standards require automobile manufacturers to decrease fleetwide emissions on a graduated basis for each model year between 2009 and 2016. Reductions can be achieved by: (1) use of alternative fuels; (2) air conditioning credits; (3) improved engine/powertrain efficiency, including hybrid vehicles; and (4) other factors (such as reduced tire resistance). When fully phased in, the regulations are expected to reduce motor vehicle GHG emissions by approximately 30%.

The Vermont case began in November 2005, when General Motors, Daimler-Chrysler, two auto industry trade groups, and three Vermont dealers filed two separate lawsuits challenging Vermont’s GHG regulations. The State of New York and a number of environmental groups intervened in the case in support of Vermont. The court held a 16-day trial in April and May of this year, and then accepted final briefs in the middle of June.

Under the federal Clean Air Act, the U.S. EPA must grant a waiver to California for its regulations in order for Vermont’s regulations and those of other states to be effective. California submitted its application to EPA in December of 2005, but EPA has not yet ruled on it. EPA's Administrator Stephen Johnson, has indicated that it will make a decision by the end of this calendar year. Environmental Defense has filed a notice of intent to sue EPA if they do not rule on the California waiver request by November 2007. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) has introduced legislation in Congress to require EPA to grant the waiver [
See WIMS 5/30/07].

In his lengthy and highly organized opinion Judge Sessions discusses the recent Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. EPA [
See WIMS 4/2/07] and how that opinion dealt with the arguments of EPA and the auto companies that the only practical way to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from motor vehicles is to require increased fuel economy, and that such regulation would overlap with DOT’s authority to set average fuel economy standards under EPCA [Environmental Policy and Conservation Act]. He said, "The Court rejected outright the argument that EPA is not permitted to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from motor vehicles because it would have to tighten mileage standards, which is the province of the Department of Transportation under EPCA."

In his overall conclusion, Judge Sessions said, "In Massachusetts v. EPA, the Supreme Court recognized for the first time the phenomenon of global warming and its potentially catastrophic effects upon our environment. The Supreme Court described human-generated contributions to global warming, including carbon dioxide emissions from motor vehicles, and concluded that EPA has the authority to monitor and regulate such emissions under Section 202 of the CAA... The Supreme Court concluded that EPA’s authority to regulate GHG emissions and NHTSA’s authority to set fuel economy standards overlap but do not conflict, and that the agencies have the duty to work together, particularly with regard to emissions standards that affect fuel economy..."

Regarding the specific question in the Vermont case, Judge Sessions says, "Assuming such a waiver is granted [California waiver request], do the California regulations become 'other motor vehicle standards of the Government' under Section 502 of EPCA? If so, Congress intended NHTSA to take such regulations into consideration when setting CAFE standards, and the question of federal preemption of a state statute does not arise. If EPA-approved California GHG regulations do not enjoy the status of other motor vehicle standards of the Government, or are not shielded from preemption analysis, are those standards preempted, either expressly or by implication, by EPCA’s Section 509(a)?"

He concludes: "...Congress intended California emissions standards for which EPA granted a waiver pursuant to Section 209(b) of the CAA to constitute 'other motor vehicle standards of the Government,' under Section 502 of EPCA. Such a finding is entirely consistent with the language of the statutes, the House and Senate reports that accompanied the legislation, and NHTSA’s practice of taking California standards into consideration when setting CAFE standards... The regulations set GHG emissions standards and are sufficiently unrelated to fuel economy standards not to be expressly preempted... In light of the public statements of industry representatives, history of compliance with previous technological challenges, and the state of the record, the Court remains unconvinced automakers cannot meet the challenges of Vermont and California’s GHG regulations."

Access the complete opinion and order (
click here). Access a release from the Vermont AG (click here). Access a release from Governor Douglas (click here). Access links to various media coverage of the decision (click here). Access a release from NRDC (click here). Access a release from Environmental Defense (click here).Access a release from the Alliance (click here).[*Climate, *Air, *Energy]

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Clean Up the World Weekend September 14-16

Sep 12: Community-based action on climate change involving an estimated 35 million people across the planet in 2007 will culminate in the Clean Up the World Weekend on 14-16 September. More than 650 non-government organizations, community groups, local councils and other agencies in 115 countries are currently working on projects in 2007 to improve the health of the environment. The Clean Up the World campaign is in its 15th year and has the support of the United Nation's Environment Programme (UNEP). The 2007 theme 'Our Climate, Our Actions, Our Future' channels community action towards addressing the causes of climate change.

The focus of many community activities around the world has been on limiting the impacts of climate change though activities such as waste reduction and recycling, water and energy conservation, and revegetation. On Clean Up the World Weekend, organizations will engage volunteers to take part in activities designed to clean up, fix up and conserve their local environment. The Australian founder and chairman of Clean Up the World, Ian Kiernan said communities in many countries are demonstrating that simple actions can make a real and lasting difference.

Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP praised the efforts of organizations across the world that are involved in Clean Up the World. He said, "Climate change and other environmental challenges impact every corner and community on the planet. Our generation is witnessing the early stirrings of extreme weather events, melting ice and other climatic manifestations, and it is truly impressive to see so many communities responding to the challenge with grassroots enthusiasm and commitment. In this context, Clean Up the World is playing a leadership role by providing practical action and this is exactly how the world will start making a difference. This week, we are celebrating not only the 15th anniversary of Clean of the World, but we are also celebrating the Montreal Protocol which was ratified 20 years ago with the aim to eliminate the production and consumption of ozone-depleting chemicals. These two environmental endeavors show that the departure point for success must be a joint effort with participation from all realms of society: governments, private sector and civil society."

Access a release from UNEP with links to additional information (click here). Access the Clean Up The World Weekend website (click here). Access the official website for Clean Up The World (click here). [*All, *Climate]

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Senate Hearing On CAFO Impacts

Sep 6: The Senate Environment and Pubic Works Committee, Chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) held a hearing entitled, "An Examination of the Potential Human Health, Water Quality, and Other Impacts of the Confined Animal Feeding Operation Industry." [Note: the acronym CAFO normally refers to the term "Concentrated" Animal Feeding Operation, not "Confined."] Witnesses testifying at the hearing included: Associate Director for Water, U.S. Geological Survey; Assistant Administrator for Water, U.S. EPA; Attorney General for the State of Oklahoma; President of the National Association of Conservation Districts; Loudoun County Sanitation Authority, Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies; Utah Department of Agriculture and Food; Air Quality Bureau Iowa Department of Natural Resources, National Association of Clean Air Agencies; American Farm Bureau Federation; Western Organization of Resource Councils and Dakota Rural Action; Oklahoma State University; North Carolina Community Representative.

Senator Boxer opened the meeting with a statement indicating, "CAFOs are industrialized animal production facilities, including some that can hold more than 1 million animals. I want to ensure that there is a clear picture of the significant environmental and health issues that stem from these facilities. There is currently a proposal that would exempt CAFOs from important environmental and public health safeguards -- in particular from the public reporting or “right to know” provisions of the Superfund law. The proposal also would eliminate provisions that ensure polluters pay to cleanup up their mess. People deserve to have a clear understanding of the environmental threats in their communities so they can make informed decisions to protect themselves and their families... CAFOs can create significant air pollution, including foul odors, ammonia, volatile organic compounds and hydrogen sulfide. CAFOs’ air pollution can exceed the amounts emitted by industrial facilities... Well managed agricultural operations can avoid serious environmental and public health consequences."

Ranking Member, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) delivered a statement saying, "Oklahoma is among the states with the most concentrated animal feeding operations. Concerns have been raised about the possible environmental impacts of these facilities, particularly the impact they have on water supplies... We can have clean water and an active agriculture industry but we cannot have one at the expense of the other. I have been aggressive in assisting water systems comply with federal laws however, any effort to further regulate farms must consider the critical economic and employment benefits provided by the nation’s farms... I am disappointed that the Chairwoman refused to allow the Department of Agriculture to testify. USDA oversees a variety of programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to which so many farmers turn for compliance assistance... The prospect of declaring animal manure a hazardous waste and thus regulating under CERCLA deeply concerns me. If animal manure is found to be a hazardous waste, then virtually every farm operation in the country could be exposed to liabilities and penalties under this act."

Benjamin Grumbles, Assistant Administrator for Water at U.S. EPA testified that, nationally, there are an estimated 1.3 million farms with livestock. About 238,000 of these farms are considered animal feeding operations (AFOs) – agriculture enterprises where animals are kept and raised in confinement... AFOs annually produce more than 500 million tons of animal manure. If properly managed, these operations may minimize environmental impacts and provide valuable byproducts; however, if improperly managed, the manure from these operations can pose substantial risks to the environment and public health. Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs) are operations where animals are kept and raised in confined situations for at least 45 days/year and vegetation is not present in the confined area (to distinguish it from grazing operations). An operation must meet the definition of an AFO before it can be defined or designated as a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO)."

Grumbles discussed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decision on February 28, 2005, in Waterkeeper Alliance et al. v EPA and said that, "While it upheld the majority of the regulatory provisions, the Court vacated the requirement that all CAFOs with a potential to discharge apply for NPDES permits, and held that only those CAFOs that actually discharge must obtain NPDES permits." In June 2006, EPA proposed targeted revisions specifically to respond to the Court’s ruling in the Waterkeeper case. EPA’s proposed rule would require only those CAFOs that discharge or propose to discharge to apply for a permit. The draft final rule is currently undergoing a 90-day interagency review under Executive Order 12866, which began on August 13, 2007. We anticipate that the Administrator would sign the final rule by the end of the calendar year. EPA says the number of CAFOs has grown to approximately 19,000 facilities, and that roughly 8,300 -- or 43% -- of those CAFOs are covered by NPDES permits.

Access the hearing website with links to all testimony and opening statements, webcasts and additional information (click here). [*Water, *Air, *Agriculture]

Monday, September 10, 2007

Assessment Of Demand Response & Advanced Metering

Sep 7: Demand response and advanced metering programs have grown significantly over the past year, according to a new Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) report that charts progress in the number of demand response programs, the number of states introducing opportunities for demand response and the key role that demand response is playing in organized wholesale power markets. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 requires FERC to annually assess electric demand response resources and advanced metering.

The report, Assessment of Demand Response and Advanced Metering 2007, notes major demand response developments in wholesale markets, including the use of demand resources in forward capacity markets and ancillary services markets, and the development of new reliability-based demand response programs. The report estimates that demand response in 2006 lowered the consumption of electricity by 1.4 to 4.1 percent during periods of peak demand on the systems. The report should provide real value to regulators, policy makers, utilities, and consumers in this rapidly growing and ever important electric resource sector.

Based on a review of various demand response activities in the last year, Commission staff has identified the following demand-response trends: Increased participation in demand-response programs; Increased ability of demand resources to participate in RTO/ISO markets; More attention to the development of a smart grid that can facilitate demand response; More interest in multi-state and state-federal demand response working groups; More reliance on demand response in strategic plans and state plans; and Increased activity by third parties to aggregate retail demand response.

On advanced metering, the report notes the rise in the number of large utilities that are planning to install advanced metering in the next several years, and that several states have taken actions ranging from the approval of smart meter projects or advanced meter deployment and re-establishing collaborative efforts and workshops to issuing rulemakings. According to the report, if all the announced deployments actually occur, more than 40 million new advanced meters will be deployed in the next several years.

An electric "demand-response" activity is an action taken to reduce electricity demand in response to price, monetary incentives, or utility directives so as to maintain reliable electric service or avoid high electricity prices. "Advanced metering" refers to technologies and communications systems necessary to record customer consumption at least hourly and allow for daily or more frequent retrieval of the consumption data. Advanced metering can enhance an electric customer’s ability to reduce demand in response to a higher price and an electric utility’s ability to meter and monitor the customer’s electricity use.

Access a release from FERC (click here). Access the complete 92-page report (click here). [*Energy]

Friday, September 07, 2007

U.S. & Australia Issue Statement On Climate Change and Energy

Sep 6: At the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Summit, meeting in Sydney, Australia, the Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, and the President George Bush issued a 16-point Joint Statement on Climate Change and Energy. The statement says that the two countries are committed to working together to find effective solutions to the interlinked challenges of climate change, energy security and clean development.

Bush and Howard said they look forward to working actively and constructively with all countries at the UN Climate Change Conference in Indonesia in December, with a view to achieve a post-2012 agreement that provides for effective action from all the major emitting nations toward the UNFCCC objective of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. The APEC Leaders' Declaration on Climate Change, Energy Security and Sustainable Development will be a significant step forward in efforts to forge a new international framework.

Australia said it welcomed the initiative by the United States to launch a series of meetings on future global action on climate change and looks forward to participating in the first Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change in Washington DC on 27-28 September 2007 [See WIMS 6/1/07]. Both countries believe this process will make a major contribution to the negotiation of a post-2012 framework.

They said the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate is a major initiative that was co-founded by Australia and the United States to drive technology cooperation. Working together, the six members -- Australia, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States -- have made substantial progress since the establishment of the Partnership in Sydney in January 2006. The Partnership has initiated more than 100 practical projects in the areas of clean fossil energy, aluminum, coal mining, renewable energy, power generation, cement, buildings and appliances, and steel.

Both countries agreed that reducing emissions from deforestation is a key component of global action on climate change and the U.S. welcomed Australia's action in launching the Global Initiative on Forests and Climate, announced in March 2007. Australia indicated it was interested in participating in the Generation IV International Forum (GIF), a partnership of governments working on fourth generation nuclear power plant technology. Additionally the two countries agreed on enhancing bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation and supporting the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), as well as other multilateral partnerships, including the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, the Methane to Markets Partnership, the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership and the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy. The U.S. also welcomed Australia's participation in the FutureGen International Partnership, a major United States-led international project aimed at building a prototype plant that integrates coal gasification and carbon capture and storage to produce electricity with near-zero emissions.

Access the complete statement and link to additional information on APEC 2007 and the U.S.-Australia Partnership (
click here). Access the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate website for additional information (click here). Access the APEC Ministers, Joint Statement from their September 5-6, 2007, 19th APEC Ministerial Meeting in Sydney (click here). Access the APEC website for additional information (click here). [*Energy, *Climate]