Wednesday, December 05, 2012

NRDC Proposes New Method To Control Power Plant GHG Emissions

Dec 4: The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) unveiled what they say is a "groundbreaking proposal to sharply cut carbon pollution from America's power plants," featuring a unique Federal-state partnership and flexibility for plant owners that will hold down costs and improve Americans' health. NRDC's innovative proposal calls for U.S. EPA to use its authority under the Clean Air Act to set standards for existing power plants -- America's largest source of carbon emissions that fuel climate change -- that will cut millions of tons of carbon pollution, save thousands of lives and create thousands of clean energy jobs.

    According to a release, the proposal enables states and electricity plant owners to use a wide range of existing technologies, including energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, to meet carbon pollution standards in the most cost-effective way. States would also have broad flexibility to design their own plans to meet the standards. NRDC said its proposal shows how the United States can dramatically reduce pollution from power plants that are responsible for 40 percent of the nation's carbon pollution.

    Peter Lehner, NRDC's Executive Director said, "The President put climate change on the national agenda, and NRDC's plan shows how the United States can make big reductions in carbon pollution that drive climate change, with a flexible approach that promotes clean energy investments and delivers big benefits for Americans' health. This year's ravaging heat waves, drought, wildfires and Superstorm Sandy underscore why the nation must tackle head-on the biggest source of dangerous carbon pollution now."

    Dan Lashof, NRDC's Director of Climate and Clean Air programs, and a principal author of the plan said, "We are overturning the conventional wisdom that reducing carbon pollution through the Clean Air Act would be ineffective and expensive. We show that the EPA can work with states and power companies to make large pollution reductions, by setting system-wide standards, rather than smokestack-by-smokestack ones, and by giving power companies and states the freedom to choose the most cost-saving means of compliance. The impact is huge: our proposal would eliminate hundreds of millions of tons of carbon pollution, save thousands of lives and stimulate a surge in clean energy and energy efficiency investments. all at a lower cost than many would expect."

    NRDC outlined its proposal at the National Press Club in Washington. Joining Lehner and Lashof to discuss the power plant plan was Dallas Burtraw, who is Darius Gaskins Senior Fellow at Resources for the Future. Also participating in the event was Franz Litz, Executive Director of the Energy & Climate Center at Pace Law School. Litz advises states on climate change and energy policy matters, and was instrumental in creating the northeast states' Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

    Using the same sophisticated analytical tools relied on by both industry and EPA, the NRDC analysis shows the plan would:

  • Cut carbon pollution from the nation's existing power plants 26 percent by 2020 and 34 percent by 2025.
  • Make large reductions in other dangerous pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, from existing power plants.
  • At a cost of about $4 billion in 2020, save Americans between $25 billion and $60 billion in lives saved, avoided illnesses and reduced climate change.
  • Save 3,600 lives, prevent more than 23,000 asthma attacks, avoid more than 2,300 emergency room visits and prevent nearly 1.2 million restricted activity and lost work days.
  • Stimulate investments of more than $90 billion in energy efficiency and renewable energy sources in the next eight years.
  • Create thousands of jobs, boost local and state economies, and move America toward a clean energy, clean air future.

    NRDC commissioned ICF International to analyze the proposal using the company's proprietary Integrated Planning Model (IPM®). The utility industry and the EPA often use the IPM® model to determine cost-effective ways of meeting the nation's electricity needs, and to assess the effects of new standards. NRDC provided the depiction of the plan and other assumptions required for the analysis.

    Specifically, under NRDC's proposal, the EPA would use Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act to set state-specific carbon emission rates that reflect the diversity of the nation's electricity sector and fuel mix. Broad compliance flexibility would enable power plant owners and states to reduce emissions through cost-effective means that could be accomplished by:

  • Reducing an individual plant's carbon emissions by improving combustion efficiency, burning cleaner fuels or installing carbon capture and storage.
  • Shifting generation from high-emitting to lower- or zero-emitting plants. Lower emitting sources such as gas, wind and solar would earn credits that other plants could use, to reduce average emissions rates.
  • Expanding energy efficiency. State energy-efficiency programs could earn credits for avoiding power generation and its pollution. Generators could purchase those credits to use toward their emissions targets.
  • States would have additional freedom to adopt alternative approaches -- such as those already adopted by California, the Northeast states, and Colorado -- as long as they are equally effective in cutting emissions.

    NRDC said it developed its proposal on the heels of two U.S. Supreme Court rulings, in 2007 and 2011, that determined it is EPA's job under the Clean Air Act to curb dangerous carbon pollution from the nation's vehicles and power plants. To date, the Administration has taken important steps by setting fuel efficiency standards for mobile sources such as cars and trucks, and proposing standards for new power plants. But the biggest pollution source remains the hundreds of existing power plants.

    Access a release from NRDC (click here). Access an overview, issue brief and the complete 90-page NRDC report proposal (click here). [#Climate, #Air, #Energy/EGU]

House Passes "Modest" Energy Efficiency Bill 398-2 - Dec 4: The U.S. House of Representatives passed by an overwhelming vote of 398-2, H.R.6582, the American Energy Manufacturing Technical Corrections Act, introduced by Representative Robert Aderholt (R-AL). H.R. 6582 amends the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, providing what Rep. Aderholt said were "important and necessary technical corrections to the law, ultimately increasing domestic competitiveness, supporting more efficient and innovative technologies, and promoting job growth here at home." He said, "Too often bureaucratic red tape and needless federal regulations keep America's innovators and small businesses from creating jobs. This legislation passed by the House today is a common sense solution to what never should have never been a problem to begin with, but unfortunately became another bureaucratic nightmare further stifling job creation."

    He continued, "If we want to see economic growth in this country, it is critical that our nation's policy and laws create a regulatory environment that fosters innovation and job creation. Due to an increase in overreaching, burdensome and unnecessary regulations over the past few years, too many small businesses have had to layoff employees, reduce production or even shut their doors. This is precisely what happened to HH Technologies, an innovative manufacturing company in Cullman County, Alabama. The federal government's embrace of outdated technology prohibited a new and innovative solution to improved energy efficiency."

    "Through House Republicans continued efforts to streamline and eliminate bureaucratic red-tape in Washington, like the legislation passed today, we can begin to jumpstart our nation's economic growth and reinvigorate job creation. I thank my colleagues for supporting H.R.6582 and look forward to seeing the bill become law."

    Back in June, the House passed H.R.4850, the Enabling Energy Savings Innovation Act similar legislation also sponsored by Representative Aderholt, amending the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to allow for the inclusion of walk-in cooler and freezer technologies that are more energy efficient than systems that are currently required in the law's narrow definition. In addition to including the previously passed provision, H.R.6582 makes additional technical corrections to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 that would reduce regulatory burdens by correcting clerical errors made and eliminating any problems caused by the errors. These corrections include updating the uniform efficiency descriptor for covered water heaters, clarifying language regarding regulatory treatment for small duct high velocity systems made by U.S. manufacturers, coordinating research and development of energy efficient technologies for the industry, and establishes a separate,less stringent standard for over the counter commercial refrigerators, that due to large glass windows are inherently less energy efficient than other commercial refrigeration products.

    The American Chemistry Council (ACC) issued a statement in response to the House passage saying, "Today's action by the House of Representatives is an important step toward reducing barriers to improved industrial energy efficiency, and provides common-sense, bipartisan fixes for federal energy efficiency technical standards. The bill calls for collaborative research and development partnerships across various programs within the Department of Energy (DOE) to promote early-stage energy efficiency technology development. This includes support for the use of innovative manufacturing processes and applied research for development, demonstration and commercialization of new technologies and processes to improve efficiency.

    "Importantly, H.R. 6582 also calls for the study of the legal, regulatory and economic barriers to the deployment of industrial energy efficiency in all electricity markets. Since 31 percent of energy in the United States is used in industry applications, removing barriers to the deployment of energy efficiency technologies will lead to significant energy savings. Chemical makers and many other manufacturers primarily use natural gas to create steam for industrial processes and electricity that can power their facilities. This energy is generated close to where it is needed, so little is lost in transmission, and the process of combined heat and power (CHP) captures excess energy that can then be sold back to the grid as electricity. As a result, CHP generates surplus electricity without requiring any additional energy, while also reducing energy consumption from the grid to meet on-site demand. ACC commends the House for taking an important step toward greater energy efficiency, and encourages the Senate to advance the bill before the end of the year."

    American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) pointed out that H.R.6582 modifies legislation that passed the Senate last month and now returns to the Senate for final approval. Steven Nadel, ACEEE Executive Director said, "At a time that Washington is grid-locked, it is notable that the only energy bill with enough bipartisan support to pass is one that targets energy efficiency. This bill is a modest but bipartisan step forward, one we hope the next Congress can build upon." The bill is the result of negotiations between Republican and Democratic members and builds upon two pieces of legislation that were previously reported out on a strong bipartisan basis by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee -- S.1000 and S.398.

    ACEEE indicated in a release that the bill makes a number of technical corrections to equipment efficiency standards previously enacted by Congress, helping to make the program function better. In addition, the bill includes provisions to better coordinate industrial research and development activities among government agencies, reduce barriers to deployment of industrial energy efficiency, promote best practices for advanced metering among government agencies, and improve data collection for federal energy and water management efforts. 

    Access a release from Rep. Aderholt (click here). Access the statement from ACC (click here). Access the statement from ACEEE (click here). Access legislative details for (click here). [#Energy/Efficiency]

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