Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
CARB Chairman Mary Nichols said, "This program is the capstone of our climate policy, and will accelerate California's progress toward a clean energy economy. It rewards efficiency and provides companies with the greatest flexibility to find innovative solutions that drive green jobs, clean our environment, increase our energy security and ensure that California stands ready to compete in the booming global market for clean and renewable energy."
According to a release from CARB, "The cap-and-trade program and the other measures to reduce greenhouse gases provide a model for action that can be used at the Federal, state and regional levels. As climate policies are being addressed worldwide, California's early actions are positioning its economy to reap the benefits on the world stage and are catalyzing action throughout the country and the world." Nichols added, "The cap-and-trade program provides California with the opportunity to fill the growing global demand for the projects, patents and products needed to move away from fossil fuels and to cleaner energy sources."
The regulation will cover 360 businesses representing 600 facilities and is divided into two broad phases: an initial phase beginning in 2012 that will include all major industrial sources along with utilities; and, a second phase that starts in 2015 and brings in distributors of transportation fuels, natural gas and other fuels.
Companies are not given a specific limit on their greenhouse gas emissions but "must supply a sufficient number of allowances" (each covering the equivalent of one ton of carbon dioxide) to cover their annual emissions. Each year, the total number of allowances issued in the State drops, requiring companies to find the most cost-effective and efficient approaches to reducing their emissions. By the end of the program in 2020 there will be a 15 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to today, reaching the same level of emissions as the state experienced in 1990, as required under AB 32.
To ensure a gradual transition, CARB will provide significant free allowances to all industrial sources during the initial period (2012-2014). Companies that need additional allowances to cover their emissions can purchase them at regular quarterly auctions CARB will conduct, or buy them on the market. Electric utilities will also be given allowances and they will be required to sell those allowances and dedicate the revenue generated for the benefit of their ratepayers and to help achieve AB 32 goals.
Also, eight percent of a company's emissions can be covered using credits from "compliance-grade offset projects," promoting the development of beneficial environmental projects in the forestry and agriculture sectors. Included in the regulation are four protocols, or systems of rules, covering carbon accounting rules for offset credits in forestry management, urban forestry, dairy methane digesters, and the destruction of existing banks of ozone-depleting substances in the U.S. (mostly in the form of refrigerants in older refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment).
There are also provisions to develop international offset programs that could include the preservation of international forests. A Memorandum of Understanding has already been signed with Chiapas, Mexico, and Acre, Brazil, at the Governor's Global Climate Summit 3 to establish these offset programs. The regulation is designed so that California may link up with programs in other states or provinces within the Western Climate Initiative, including New Mexico, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. Efforts are also underway to link the WCI with other regional climate programs, such as the Midwest Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative which covers the power generation emissions of 10 northeastern states.
Access a release from CARB (click here). Access extensive information and staff presentations from the CARB meeting (click here). Access the CARB Cap-and-Trade website (click here). Access a statement from Governor Schwarzenegger (click here). Access the statement from NRDC (click here). Access a blog post from NRDC with more information (click here). Access a statement and link to more information from EDF (click here). Access a statement from CMTA and link to more information on CMTA's concerns (click here).
Thursday, December 16, 2010
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said, "The Toxics Release Inventory is an important way to inform American communities about their local environmental conditions. It plays a critical role in EPA's efforts to hold polluters accountable and to acknowledge good corporate neighbors who put pollution prevention efforts in place. We will continue to make every effort to put accessible, meaningful information in the hands of the American people. Widespread public access to environmental information is fundamental to the work EPA does every day." This year, EPA is offering additional information to make the TRI data more meaningful and accessible to all communities. The TRI analysis now highlights toxic disposals and releases to large aquatic ecosystems, selected urban communities, and tribal lands. In addition, portions of the analysis are available in Spanish for the first time.
The analysis shows decreases in the releases of persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals including lead, dioxin, and mercury. Total disposal or other releases of mercury decreased 3 percent since 2008, while total disposal or other releases of both dioxin and lead decreased by 18 percent. The analysis also shows a 7 percent decrease in the number of facilities reporting to TRI from the previous year, continuing a trend from the past few years. EPA noted that some of the decline may be attributed to the economic downturn; however, the Agency plans to investigate why some facilities reported in 2008 but not 2009.
EPA added 16 chemicals to the TRI list of reportable chemicals in November. These chemicals are reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens, and represent the largest chemical expansion of the program in a decade. Data on the new TRI chemicals will be reported by facilities on July 1, 2012. Facilities must report their chemical disposals and releases by July 1 of each year. This year, EPA made the 2009 preliminary TRI dataset available in July, the same month as the data were collected.
TRI was established in 1986 by the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and later modified by the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990. Together, these laws require facilities in certain industries to report annually on releases, disposal and other waste management activities related to these chemicals. TRI data are submitted annually to EPA and states by multiple industry sectors including manufacturing, metal mining, electric utilities, and commercial hazardous waste facilities.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
In response to a question regarding India's role at Cancun, how it went and all, Stern said, "I think India played, actually, a particularly constructive role in Cancun. I think that India was very much faithful to its own national interests and faithful to its role in the G-77, but at the same time creatively looking for solutions to difficult issues in the negotiation in a way that could bring in both developing countries -- and by the way, developing countries are not a monolithic group at this point, there's all sorts of different -- there's the large ones, there's Africans and least developed nations and island states and so forth. I think India really played a particularly constructive role in trying to find solutions that would bring everybody to the table. And one good example of that is on the issue of transparency, which was very important. . ."
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said, "Cancún has done its job. The beacon of hope has been reignited and faith in the multilateral climate change process to deliver results has been restored. Nations have shown they can work together under a common roof, to reach consensus on a common cause. They have shown that consensus in a transparent and inclusive process can create opportunity for all."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement saying, "Over the last year, the United States has worked with our international partners to build on the progress achieved at the climate change conference in Copenhagen. We have pressed for substantive steps that would advance the vision of the Copenhagen Accord. This month we joined the nations of the world in Cancun for a new round of talks aimed at mobilizing common action to meet the shared global challenge of climate change. Today, I am pleased to announce that we secured the Cancun Agreements, a set of balanced international decisions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which represent meaningful progress in our global response to climate change.
UNFCCC indicated that governments have given a clear signal that they are headed towards a low-emissions future together, they have agreed to be accountable to each other for the actions they take to get there, and they have set it out in a way which encourages countries to be more ambitious over time. Figueres said, "Nations launched a set of initiatives and institutions to protect the poor and the vulnerable from climate change and to deploy the money and technology that developing countries need to plan and build their own sustainable futures. And they agreed to launch concrete action to preserve forests in developing nations, which will increase going forward. They also agreed that countries need to work to stay below a two degree temperature rise and they set a clear timetable for review, to ensure that global action is adequate to meet the emerging reality of climate change. This is not the end, but it is a new beginning. It is not what is ultimately required but it is the essential foundation on which to build greater, collective ambition."
According to a UNFCCC summary the key elements of the Cancún Agreements include:
Industrialized country targets are officially recognized under the multilateral process and these countries are to develop low-carbon development plans and strategies and assess how best to meet them, including through market mechanisms, and to report their inventories annually. Developing country actions to reduce emissions are officially recognized under the multilateral process. A registry is to be set up to record and match developing country mitigation actions to finance and technology support from by industrialized countries. Developing countries are to publish progress reports every two years. Parties meeting under the Kyoto Protocol agree to continue negotiations with the aim of completing their work and ensuring there is no gap between the first and second commitment periods of the treaty. The Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanisms has been strengthened to drive more major investments and technology into environmentally sound and sustainable emission reduction projects in the developing world. Parties launched a set of initiatives and institutions to protect the vulnerable from climate change and to deploy the money and technology that developing countries need to plan and build their own sustainable futures. A total of $30 billion in "fast start" finance from industrialized countries to support climate action in the developing world up to 2012 and the intention to raise $100 billion in long-term funds by 2020 is included in the decisions. In the field of climate finance, a process to design a Green Climate Fund under the Conference of the Parties, with a board with equal representation from developed and developing countries, is established. A new "Cancún Adaptation Framework" is established to allow better planning and implementation of adaptation projects in developing countries through increased financial and technical support, including a clear process for continuing work on loss and damage. Governments agree to boost action to curb emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries with technological and financial support. Parties have established a technology mechanism with a Technology Executive Committee and Climate Technology Centre and Network to increase technology cooperation to support action on adaptation and mitigation.
According to the analysis, "Current emission reduction pledges, after the close of the Cancun climate conference, fall short of what is needed to get the world on track for limiting global warming to 2 and 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Both of these warming limits are mentioned in the agreement. To keep warming limited to these targets, global total emissions need to drop below 44 billion tonnes CO2eq per year by 2020. After adding up reduction proposals of individual countries and taking into account accounting provisions, expected global emissions leave a gap of 12 billion tonnes CO2eq/yr by 2020. In Cancun, countries discussed a wide range of options that influence the size of the gap. If countries would implement the most stringent reductions they have proposed with most stringent accounting, the remaining 'reduction gap' would shrink to 8 billion tonnes CO2eq/yr."
Friday, December 10, 2010
"Last year in Copenhagen, President Obama joined with leaders and others representing countries from around the world to find a formula that could bridge a wide variety of interests and perspectives and forge a new path on climate change -- one on which all Parties would embark together. The resulting Copenhagen Accord did not find universal acceptance, but it provided a significant step forward in our work -- including for the first time international agreement by all the world's major economies to implement their mitigation actions and targets in an internationally transparent manner, and that also paved the way for new institutions and support for climate finance, technology, adaptation, and REDD.
"The United States has worked hard this year to move forward on elements that our leaders agreed to last year. We have invested more than $90 billion dollars to transform the way our country produces and consumes energy, and taken a range of new regulatory and other actions to reduce emissions. And we will continue to work strenuously with our Congress on legislative solutions to enhance our energy security and at the same time reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We have also secured approximately $1.7 billion dollars worth of climate assistance in our first year of Fast Start financing that will support adaptation activities for the most vulnerable countries around the world, combat deforestation in the world's most biologically diverse tropical forests, and help put countries on a path toward low-carbon development. Again, this is just the first of three years and we will be looking to increase that amount in each of the next two years.
"Mr. President now is the time for us to take the next step. We can and must do this through a balanced package of decisions that builds on the understandings our leaders reached in Copenhagen and makes meaningful, comparable progress on the key elements of our negotiations. In this package, we can agree to launch the establishment of a Green Fund to serve as the centerpiece of an enhanced financial architecture for climate change. We can also move forward on substantial new arrangements for technology, adaptation, and REDD [Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation]. And we also must at the same time move forward to capture, to anchor, as the word has come to be used in these negotiations, the targets and actions that countries agreed to implement last year in a decision by the Conference of the Parties, so that these are an inherent part of our ongoing effort going forward.
"And we must also clearly lay out the elements of transparency -- including International Consultations and Analysis -- that will provide us confidence that we are all carrying out, carrying through on our undertakings, and that will help gauge our progress in our collective worldwide efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"We can and we should and we must do all of these things and begin a new operational phase in our work, even as we continue to work to progressively strengthen the Convention over time. Mr. President, I want to assure you the firm commitment of President Obama and the United States to working with all countries towards a solution to climate change, and toward a successful outcome this week here in Cancun. Thank you very much."
According to an IISD report of the meeting, as of 9 PM last evening (December 9), an informal "stocktaking session" was convened by COP and COP/MOP President Espinosa. Ministers leading the informal consultations suggested that while "issues had been 'better elaborated,' compromise texts on the Kyoto Protocol, mitigation and MRV had not been crafted. The stocktaking ended at around 11 pm with a reminder from President Espinosa that 'very few hours for actual negotiating' remained. Already-tired delegates therefore prepared themselves for "another marathon all-nighter." One high-level representative indicated that 'there is still a deal to be done -- but we could also end up with a belly flop.'" Reports from earlier today indicated that informal ministerial consultations continued throughout the night. The Conference is scheduled to end today.
Access the complete text U.S. statement (click here). Access various webcast (click here). Access the State Department COP16/CMP6 website including links to press briefings, the U.S. Center, extensive other links, schedules, reports and fact sheets (click here). Access the UNFCCC website for complete details, documents and live, on-demand webcasts (click here). Access the Mexico host country COP16 website (click here). Access detailed, day-by-day coverage from IISD (click here).
Thursday, December 09, 2010
The proposal has been highly controversial. The American Petroleum Institute (API) has testified that, "Without a clear certain scientific basis for selecting a different numeric standard, the ozone standard need not be changed now." and urged the Administrator not to pursue the proposal. API said EPA's own studies failed to support a lowering of the ozone standards. On the other hand, environmental organizations have pointed out that strengthening the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone pollution from 75 to 60 parts per billion (ppb) would reduce premature death rates by 60-fold and reduce asthma cases 50-fold, according to analyses by EPA [See WIMS 2/10/10].
Access EPA's 22-page court filing (click here). Access EPA's ground-level ozone regulatory website for complete background (click here). Access a release from Sen. Inhofe (click here). Access a release from NRDC (click here). Access a release from Earthjustice (click here).
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
"I look forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with Speaker Boehner, Leader Cantor, Whip McCarthy and the entire Republican Conference as we repeal Obamacare, fight rampant job-killing regulations, cut spending, and help put folks back to work. As our new majority pledged to America, 'We dedicate ourselves to the task of reconnecting our highest aspirations to the permanent truths of our founding by keeping faith with the values our nation was founded on, the principles we stand for, and the priorities of our people.'
"We face many challenges, but priority number one is to repeal the job-killing Obamacare law. While the various subcommittee posts will be filled in the days ahead, the fight to repeal Obamacare starts now and I am pleased to appoint Rep. Joe Pitts [R-PA]as chairman of the Health Subcommittee. Together, we will protect the sanctity of life, ensuring early next Congress that no federal funds are used for abortion. Energy and Commerce will also immediately adopt new rules to cut spending and restore fiscal responsibility.
"If we have learned anything these last two years of soaring unemployment and out-of-control spending, it is that government is not the answer to all our ills -- it is, in fact, the root cause of many of them. The Obama administration is on notice -- they will not be allowed to regulate what they have been unable to legislate. In his January 1989 farewell address to the nation, my old boss President Ronald Reagan warned: 'As government expands, liberty contracts.' The American people spoke loud and clear on November 2nd, and we have a charge to stand up for liberty and deliver the real change that the American public expects and demands. We will not let them down."
In a separate, December 7, memo to Republican Colleagues, Rep. Upton said, "Pelosi never listened to the American people and she never lived up to her promises. We will do both. We have a clear mandate to cut the size of government, reduce spending, and reverse costly job-killing regulations. . . The job-killing policies of Obama and Pelosi end here. . . I have always been and always will be one of the most loyal members of the team. . . It is about all of us together working as a cohesive unit to advance our ideals and our conservative agenda and lay the groundwork for victory in 2012. . . There are powerful forces working against us, pushing a liberal agenda that will do further damage to our economy. The American people not only rejected the Democrats' misguided vision for America, they also heard our message. . ."
In the end, Rep. Upton was selected over the current Ranking Member of the full Committee, Representative Joe Barton (R-TX). Rep. Barton who previously Chaired the Committee under previous Republican leadership, was nearly stripped of his Committee assignments for his widely publicized public apology to BP and his comments about being "ashamed" of the $20 billion oil spill claims fund agreement which the White House negotiated with BP. In comments before the Committee, Barton apologized to BP and called the agreement a "shakedown." [See WIMS 6/18/10].
In his memo to colleagues, Rep. Upton included a number of his recent op-eds which he said will "give you a sense of my vision for the future." In one of his op-eds, printed in the Washington Times on October 20, Rep. Upton declared "War on the Regulatory State." [See WIMS 10/20/10]. He said Republicans would terminate what he called the "wasteful" Select Committee on Climate Change, established by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and also Chaired by Rep. Markey. He said the Committee "has needlessly spent nearly $8 million in taxpayer money. . . "
On December 6, Rep. Upton issued a release and op-ed, urging President Obama to ignore pleas from Senate Democrats to permanently block responsible drilling of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge's (ANWR), vast reserves. Upton has been a longtime supporter of drilling in ANWR and supports an "all of the above" approach to fortify the nation's energy needs with American-made energy.
On December 3, Rep. Upton called on EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to provide greater transparency as the Agency considers rules for cooling water intake structures at existing electric generation and manufacturing facilities. He said, "Given that this rulemaking has the potential to affect more than 400 power plants throughout the country and could impact energy supply and reliability, I am concerned about the direction of the proposal and its timing. The potential retrofit costs could be substantial ($200-300 million per unit for coal and $700 million to $1 billion for nuclear power plants) and some coal steam generators may not have the space necessary for the installation of cooling towers and other associated equipment. This could result in the retirement of some of these generators." He called on EPA to allow 180 days at minimum for the public to digest and prepare comments for a rule of this magnitude.
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
- 1. Whether States and private parties have standing to seek judicially-fashioned emissions caps on five utilities for their alleged contribution to harms claimed to arise from global climate change caused by more than a century of emissions by billions of independent sources.
- 2. Whether a cause of action to cap carbon dioxide emissions can be implied under federal common law where no statute creates such a cause of action, and the Clean Air Act speaks directly to the same subject matter and assigns federal responsibility for regulating such emissions to the Environmental Protection Agency.
- 3. Whether claims seeking to cap defendants' carbon dioxide emissions at 'reasonable' levels, based on a court's weighing of the potential risks of climate change against the socioeconomic utility of defendants' conduct, would be governed by 'judicially discoverable and manageable standards' or could be resolved without 'initial policy determination[s] of a kind clearly for nonjudicial discretion.' Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 217 (1962)."
Monday, December 06, 2010
"Ministerial-level representatives from all over the world are already in Cancun. Yesterday I offered a welcoming dinner to them, in which no papers were distributed and no negotiations took place. Starting today, however, the presence of high-level officials must be capitalized, as they can provide the necessary political guidance to push forth on several key issues. . . Allow me to stress this central point:Ministers have very kindly agreed to contribute to the work that is already under way, in which we have made important progress but still require political decisions to be taken in order to forge ahead.
"I have approached pairs of ministers, one from a developing country and one from a developed country, who I know would greatly benefit our effort by focusing on specific matters. I hope their agendas allow them to undertake this task. Sweden and Grenada could help on matters related to shared vision; Spain and Algeria on adaptation; Australia and Bangladesh on finance, technology and capacity building; New Zealand and Indonesia on mitigation, including MRV [Measurable, Reportable, and Verifiable], and the United Kingdom and Brazil on items under the Kyoto Protocol. Other ministers, among them those from Ecuador, Singapore, Norway and Switzerland could support on other specific issues as they arise. . .
"One week into the process, the conditions are in place to reach a broad and balanced package of decisions that leads to an era of increasingly effective global action on climate change. However, the positive outcome that our societies demand is still not complete. We must continue working with a renewed sense of urgency. I believe we can complete the package, or at the very least to make significant advances, before the opening of the high-level segment on Tuesday afternoon. . ."
Friday, December 03, 2010
Commission Presentation for Containment; Impacts and Assessment Presentation; and Long-Term Restoration Presentation.