In the meantime it is a great opportunity to check out our Environmental News Blogs. The blogs are continuously, automatically updated with the latest news and information from various RSS feed sources selected by WIMS.
A daily summary of energy and environmental issues designed for EH&S managers & environmental attorneys. By WIMS - Waste Information & Management Services, Inc.(WIMS) -- since 1980.
..............................................This Blog Named to LexisNexis' 2011 Top 50 List
In the meantime it is a great opportunity to check out our Environmental News Blogs. The blogs are continuously, automatically updated with the latest news and information from various RSS feed sources selected by WIMS.
"Boil down the IPCC report and here's what you find: Climate change is real, it's happening now, human beings are the cause of this transformation, and only action by human beings can save the world from its worst impacts. This isn't a run of the mill report to be dumped in a filing cabinet. This isn't a political document produced by politicians. It's science.
"It builds on the most authoritative assessments of knowledge on climate change produced by scientists, who by profession are conservative because they must deal in what is observable, provable and reviewable by their peers. If this isn't an alarm bell, then I don't know what one is. If ever there were an issue that demanded greater cooperation, partnership, and committed diplomacy, this is it.
"What one country does impacts the livelihoods of people elsewhere -- and what we all do to address climate change now will largely determine the kind of planet we leave for our children and grandchildren. With those stakes, the response must be all hands on deck. It's not about one country making a demand of another. It's the science itself, demanding action from all of us. The United States is deeply committed to leading on climate change. We will work with our partners around the world through ambitious actions to reduce emissions, transform our energy economy, and help the most vulnerable cope with the effects of climate change. We do so because this is science, these are facts, and action is our only option.
World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Michel Jarraud commented saying, "Multiple lines of evidence confirm that the extra heat being trapped by greenhouse gases is warming the Earth's surface to record levels, heating the oceans, raising sea levels, melting ice caps and glaciers, and changing weather patterns and extremes. The IPCC report demonstrates that we must greatly reduce global emissions in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change. It also contains important new scientific knowledge that can be used to produce actionable climate information and services for assisting society to adapt to the impacts of climate change."
UN Under Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, "Climate change is a long term challenge but one that requires urgent action, not tomorrow but today and right now, given the pace and the scale by which greenhouse gases are accumulating in the atmosphere and the rising risks of a more than 2 degree C temperature rise. For those who want to focus on the scientific question marks, that is their right do so. But today we need to focus on the fundamentals and on the actions. Otherwise the risks we run will get higher with every year."
"A universal new UN climate agreement by 2015 is critical, backed by supportive voluntary initiatives such as those managing down short-lived climate pollutants like black carbon. As work under the inclusive Green Economy shows, the benefits of a transition to a low carbon future are multiple from improved public health, food security and job generation to combating climate change now and for future generations."
A major contributor to the decline in U.S. GHG emissions has been the displacement of coal with natural gas that is extracted from shale rock formations through hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. The production of "shale gas" has grown rapidly in recent years. In 1996, U.S. shale gas wells produced 0.3 trillion cubic feet (8.5 billion cubic meters) of natural gas, representing 1.6 percent of U.S. gas production. By 2011, production of shale gas had increased to 8.5 trillion cubic feet (241 billion cubic meters) of natural gas, 30 percent of U.S. gas production. The extraction and use of shale gas are projected to continue to grow during the next several years.The U.S. transportation system has evolved to meet the needs of a highly mobile, dispersed population and a large economy. Automobiles and light trucks still dominate the passenger transportation system, and the highway share of passenger miles traveled. In 2013, the most recent year of available data, automobiles and light trucks constituted about 87 percent of the passenger miles traveled, down 2 percentage points from the highway share listed in the 2010 CAR. Air travel accounted for slightly more than 11 percent (up 1.5 percentage points from the 2010 CAR), and mass transit and rail travel combined accounted for only about 1 percent of passenger miles traveled. . .Given implementation of programs and measures in place as of September 2012 and current economic projections, total gross U.S. GHG emissions are projected to be 4.6 percent lower than 2005 levels in 2020. Between 2005 and 2011 total gross U.S. GHG emissions have declined significantly due a combination of factors, including the economic downturn and fuel switching from coal to natural gas (U.S. EPA 2013). Emissions are projected to rise gradually between 2011 and 2020. Emissions are projected to remain below the 2005 level through 2030, despite significant increases in population (26 percent) and GDP (69 percent) during that time period. More rapid improvements in technologies that emit fewer GHGs, new GHG mitigation requirements, or more rapid adoption of voluntary GHG emission reduction programs could result in lower gross GHG emission levels than in the "with measures" projection.
Between 2005 and 2020, CO2 emissions in the "with measures" projection (measures in place as of 2012) are estimated to decline by 7.5 percent. In contrast, in the 2010 CAR, CO2 emissions were expected to increase by 1.5 percent between 2005 and 2020 (U.S. DOS 2010), a change of about 9 percent, and in the 2006 CAR, emissions were expected to increase by 14 percent between 2004 and 2020 (U.S. DOS 2006). During the same period, CH4 and N2O emissions are expected to grow by 3.5 percent and 6.1 percent, respectively. The most rapid growth is expected in fluorinated GHGs (HFCs, PFCs, and SF6) which are expected to increase by more than 60 percent between 2005 and 2020, driven by increasing use of HFCs as 6 substitutes for ODS.
CDP's President, North America, Tom Carnac said, "The release of today's report findings show the link between climate change management and superior financial performance is building. These two studies validate that relationship by exhibiting how companies incorporating environmental stewardship into their business model and investment decision making process can gain strength and protect their competitive advantage."
The CDP S&P 500 Climate Change Report, by CDP and PwC, provides an annual update on greenhouse gas emissions data and climate change strategies at America's largest public corporations in response to CDP's disclosure request from 722 investors representing $87 trillion. This year, seventy-seven percent of respondents (258 companies) reported an increase in climate change exposure, up from 61 percent in 2012, with extreme weather topping the list of highest-impact. In response, the report showed:
PwC Sustainable Business Solutions (SBS) partner Doug Kangos added that the results of the 2013 report indicate a turning point in the corporate response to climate change. He said, "The overarching story is business transformation. Leading companies are innovating to create value on many levels while demonstrating increasing sophistication and confidence in addressing the risks and opportunities associated with climate destabilization."
The complementary report covering the Global 500, Linking Climate Engagement to Financial Performance: An Investor's Perspective, released at the same event and co-written by CDP and Sustainable Insight Capital Management, shows that superior transparency on climate engagement is associated with higher financial performance.
The analysis is based on the CDP disclosure scores of 702 companies covered in CDP's Global 500 climate change reports from 2008 to 2012. Using peer to peer comparisons, companies were ranked by industry and split into quintiles by their CDP disclosure score, then examined against various metrics of financial profitability. The analysis shows that industry leaders in the first quintile based on their relative CDP scores, provide a higher return on equity (+5.2%), more stable cash flow generation (+18.1%) and higher dividend growth (+1.6%).
The analysis leverages CDP's unique data set on corporate engagement on climate change to demonstrate that strategic management of climate change risks and opportunities is reflected in the underlying financial performance of companies. US S&P 500 companies' CDP disclosure and performance scores are listed in full in the CDP S&P 500 Climate Change report.
Access a lengthy release from CDP additional details with links to both reports (click here). [#Climate]
Today EPA proposed Clean Air Act standards to cut carbon pollution from new power plants in order to combat climate change and improve public health. In addition, EPA has initiated broad-based outreach and direct engagement with state, tribal, and local governments, industry and labor leaders, non-profits, and others to establish carbon pollution standards for existing power plants and build on state efforts to move toward a cleaner power sector. The proposal achieves the first milestone outlined in President Obama's June 25 Memorandum to EPA on "Power Sector Carbon Pollution Standards," a major part of the President's Climate Action Plan.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said, "Climate change is one of the most significant public health challenges of our time. By taking commonsense action to limit carbon pollution from new power plants, we can slow the effects of climate change and fulfill our obligation to ensure a safe and healthy environment for our children. These standards will also spark the innovation we need to build the next generation of power plants, helping grow a more sustainable clean energy economy."
Under EPA's proposal, new large natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour (CO2/MWh), while new small natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds CO2/MWh . New coal-fired units would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds CO2/MWh, and would have the option to meet a somewhat tighter limit if they choose to average emissions over multiple years, giving those units additional operational flexibility.
EPA said these proposed standards will ensure that new power plants are built with available clean technology to limit carbon pollution, a requirement that is in line with investments in clean energy technologies that are already being made in the power industry. Additionally, these standards provide flexibility by allowing sources to phase in the use of some of these technologies, and they ensure that the power plants of the future use cleaner energy technologies -- such as efficient natural gas, advanced coal technology, nuclear power, and renewable energy like wind and solar. In response to recent information and developments in the power sector and more than 2.5 million public comments, including those from the power sector and environmental groups, the proposal sets separate standards for new gas-fired and coal-fired power plants.
EPA indicates that power plants are the largest concentrated source of emissions in the United States, together accounting for roughly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, nearly a dozen states have already implemented or are implementing their own market-based programs to reduce carbon pollution. In addition, more than 25 states have set energy efficiency targets, and more than 35 have set renewable energy targets. While the United States has limits in place for arsenic, mercury and lead pollution that power plants can emit, currently, there are no national limits on the amount of carbon pollution new power plants can emit. The Agency is seeking comment and information on the proposed rules, including holding a public hearing, and will take that input fully into account as it completes the rulemaking process. EPA's comment period will be open for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register. In a separate action, EPA is rescinding the April 2012 proposal.
Separately, EPA has initiated outreach to a wide variety of stakeholders that will help inform the development of emission guidelines for existing power plants. EPA intends to work closely with the states to ensure strategies for reducing carbon pollution from existing sources are flexible, account for regional diversity, and embrace common sense solutions, allowing the United States to continue utilizing every fuel source available. In accordance with the June 25 Presidential Memorandum, EPA will issue proposed standards for existing power plants by June 1, 2014.
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee said, "Every day across the nation we see the harmful impacts of climate change, and we must reduce carbon pollution to protect public health and safeguard future generations. EPA's proposed standard for new power plants is a critical and appropriate step forward in addressing the biggest source of carbon pollution."
Senator David Vitter (R-LA), Ranking Member on the Environment and Public Works Committee said, "Today's proposal maintains EPA's pie in the sky standard-setting mentality despite the Agency's admission that unilateral regulations would have no impact on global emissions levels. EPA completely ignores other nations' missteps, and the severe negative impacts from trying to address carbon emissions. Their actions have resulted in economic uncertainty, job loss, and increased electricity prices, yet the Agency continues to barrel on -- full speed ahead."
House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) said, "EPA is doubling down on its economically destructive plan to essentially end the construction of new coal-fired power plants in America. The proposed standards would require the use of expensive new technologies that are not commercially viable. We are the Saudi Arabia of coal, but this impractical rule restricts access to one of our most abundant, affordable, and dependable energy sources. The consequences will be more job losses and a weaker economy. These stringent standards will actually discourage investment and the development of innovative new technologies that can help us meet the world's future energy and environmental challenges. The right policies should embrace our energy abundance as part of the solution. The committee will soon hold a hearing on this latest regulatory grab as part of our ongoing effort to protect Americans and jobs from unnecessary and costly red tape."
The Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change led by Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA), the Ranking Member on the House Energy & Commerce Committee applauded the proposed rules. Rep. Waxman said, "The EPA proposal is a double winner: pro-environment and pro-growth. It sets achievable standards for new power plants that will spur innovation in clean coal technologies like carbon capture and sequestration. And the proposal will clean up the air and make the U.S. a world leader in advanced pollution-control technology. The Administration is on track in implementing the President's Climate Action Plan."
U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President for Government Affairs Bruce Josten said in part, "It is clear that the EPA is continuing to move forward with a strategy that will write off our huge, secure, affordable coal resources by essentially outlawing the construction of new coal plants. The EPA had the chance to craft a regulation that recognized the value of the 'all of the above' energy strategy endorsed by President Obama, and ensured that standards were achievable and based upon commercially and economically viable technology. Instead, they have released yet another major regulation that will hamper economic growth and job creation, and could lead to higher energy costs for American families and businesses. Furthermore, we continue to believe that the Clean Air Act is not the appropriate vehicle to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. . ."
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) issued a release saying in part, "Any policy to reduce GHG emissions must be coupled with a comprehensive energy strategy that promotes diversity, efficiency, affordability and reliability so that American manufacturers can expand, innovate and create jobs. While we are pleased that EPA's re-proposed NSPS for new power plants sets separate standards for different fuel types, we are concerned that the emission limit for coal combustion technologies is unachievable and will harm energy diversity by effectively ending construction of new coal-fired power plants in the United States. Even new facilities that employ the most state-of-the-art technology in commercial use today -- so-called 'supercritical' plants -- will be unable to meet the standard. . ."
The UT study, which only deals with the extraction phase of the natural gas supply chain, is the opening chapter in this broader scientific effort designed to advance the current understanding of the climate implications of methane emissions resulting from the U.S. natural gas boom. Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is a powerful greenhouse gas -- 72 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame. The nation's largest single source of methane emissions is the vast network of infrastructure, including wells, pipelines and storage facilities, that supplies U.S. natural gas. Experts agree that methane leaked or vented from natural gas operations is a real concern, yet estimated emission rates vary greatly -- from 1 to 8 percent of total production.
Fred Krupp, president of EDF said, "We know that immediate methane reductions are critical to slow climate change. But we don't yet have a handle on how much is being emitted. We need better data, and that's what this series of studies will deliver. As we understand the scope of what's happening across the natural gas system, we will be able to address it. We already know enough to get started reducing emissions, and thanks to the first study, we know that new EPA regulations to reduce wellhead emissions are effective. EPA got it right."
Launched last year, the overall research effort is designed to collect methane emissions data associated with natural gas production, gathering lines and processing facilities, long-distance pipelines and storage, local distribution, and commercial trucks and refueling stations. A variety of scientific methods are being used across the various studies, including approaches that measure emissions directly at the source and those that use airplanes or towers equipped with sensors to measure total emissions in a given area. In some cases, these methods are paired to provide greater insight and certainty. EDF anticipates all of the projects will be submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals.
EDF Chief Scientist Steve Hamburg said, "The scientific talent leading these studies, the partnership with industry and access to their facilities, and the diverse research methods used, gives us the confidence that when the project concludes in late 2014, we'll be able to greatly increase our understanding of the climate impacts of switching to natural gas from other fossil fuels, through this unprecedented collective research effort."
UT's peer-reviewed study, the first work published in this overall series, reports data from emission sources from natural gas production -- the first part of the supply chain. Study results show that total emissions are in line with EPA estimates from the production of natural gas, yet the distribution of those emissions among activities differ. Methane emissions are lower than estimated by EPA for well completions and higher for valves and equipment used to control routine operations at the well site. All of the data generated in the study are available for public scrutiny. According to Hamburg, UT's low well emissions finding indicates an early phase-in of EPA's New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), which requires all new fractured natural gas wells to either burn-off or use "green completions" (an emissions control method that routes excess gas to sales), is working. Results also suggest that these new regulations, which will be fully implemented in 2015, are having the desired effects. No national survey of how many operators currently use green completions is available, but the data suggest that once this practice is required, emissions from this phase of the production process will decline.
Hamburg also noted that the higher-than-estimated emissions from valve controllers (also known as pneumatics) and equipment leaks show important opportunities for reducing methane emissions in the future. Considerable opportunities exist under the Clean Air Act to strengthen NSPS, including requiring emissions controls for equipment routinely found at oil and natural gas production sites, such as valves or connectors at the well pad or pressure relief valves on storage tanks, and controls for nearly half a million existing pneumatics at natural gas wells and for the thousands of existing compressors that move gas from the well through the system to the end user. Similarly the NSPS do not contain requirements to reduce well completion emissions from hybrid wells that produce both oil and natural gas, which are becoming much more common as the price of oil remains high. Robust leak detection and repair requirements are also necessary to assure the equipment in the field is operated and maintained properly at all times. Many of the same cost-effective clean air measures that the NSPS deploys can be used to reduce emissions from these potentially significant sources. Additional emissions reduction opportunities should be considered as further data unfolds around liquids unloading.
EDF indicates in a release that a key element of UT's study, and the other EDF-industry collaborative studies, is the focus on ensuring their scientific integrity. Built into the research process of each of these studies is a Scientific Advisory Panel, experts from academic and other institutions serve as external advisors and review the procedures, results and conclusions. An additional independent review is conducted by the scientific journal to which the study is submitted for publication -- in this case, PNAS -- a key step in all studies within this methane research series. Findings from this effort will help inform policymakers, researchers and industry, providing new insights and data about the sources of methane emissions and illuminating ways to reduce those emissions. The full set of studies is expected to be published by the end of 2014.
Rep. Whitfield said, "The Obama Administration continues to unilaterally bypass the role of the states, while stifling job creation by eliminating affordable energy through new regulations that will only be another blow to our fragile economy. The most frustrating part is the Administration is doing this with no public debate, and many in the United States Congress and individual states have been expressing deep concern about the impact that this will have on our ability to remain competitive in the global marketplace."
As set forth in the white paper by the Attorneys General sent to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, "EPA's authority under the Clean Air Act is limited to developing a procedure for states to establish emissions standards for existing sources [such as existing coal-fired power plants]." Rep. Whitfield and the Attorneys General express concern over the impact that overreaching emissions standards on existing plants will have on the economy. They state that, "The elimination of coal as a fuel for new electric generation would have highly concerning implications for electricity prices and for the economy and job-creation in general, as well as the competitiveness of American manufacturing."
H.R.3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 (WRRDA), was introduced in the House by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Committee Ranking Member Nick Rahall, II (D-WV), Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Tim Bishop (D-NY).
Through WRRDA, Congress authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to carry out its missions to develop, maintain, and support the Nation's vital port and waterways infrastructure needs, and support effective and targeted flood protection and environmental restoration needs. Historically, Congress has passed such legislation every two years to provide clear direction to the Administration and the Corps, but no bill has been signed into law since 2007.
Chairman Shuster said, "WRRDA 2013 is the most policy and reform focused legislation of its kind in the last two decades. The bill contains no earmarks and makes major programmatic reforms to increase transparency, accountability, and Congressional oversight of federal water resources development activities. Most importantly, WRRDA is about jobs and improving America's competitiveness. A strong, effective water transportation network is essential to keeping pace with other nations that are improving their own infrastructure networks and gaining ground in an increasingly competitive global marketplace." Ranking Member Rahall said, "This bill is about jobs. It boosts our ports, strengthens our maritime economy, and allows commodities to move more efficiently along our inland waterways, saving time and money. When we invest in these corridors of commerce we are investing in a more competitive nation and enabling our water transportation network to support increased economic opportunity." The Members highlighted the following features of the bill:
Authorizes priority water resources infrastructure improvements recommended by the Chief of the Army Corps of Engineers to improve navigation and commerce and address flood risk management, hurricane and storm damage risk reduction, and environmental restoration needs
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, issued a statement after the House leaders released H.R.3080 and said, "Earlier this year, the Senate overwhelmingly approved critical legislation to invest in the nation's aging water infrastructure. I am pleased that Republican and Democratic leaders on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee worked together to develop a bipartisan bill, and I urge the House to move quickly so that we can reconcile the House and Senate approaches and get a water resources development bill to the President's desk." On May 15, the Senate passed S. 601, the Water Resources Development Act of 2013 [See WIMS 5/15/13], with strong bipartisan support (83 to 14). S. 601 provides critical flood protection for communities across the country, maintains navigation routes and the flow of commerce, restores vital ecosystems, and sustains up to 500,000 new jobs.
Access a joint release from the Members with additional comments and links to the bill text, background and a video of the press conference (click here). Access the statement from Sen. Boxer (click here). Access legislative details for H.R.3080 (click here). Access legislative details for S.601 (click here). [#Water]
FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said, "We all -- farmers and fishers; food processers and supermarkets; local and national governments; individual consumers --must make changes at every link of the human food chain to prevent food wastage from happening in the first place, and re-use or recycle it when we can't. In addition the environmental imperative, there is a moral one: We simply cannot allow one-third of all the food we produce to go to waste, when 870 million people go hungry every day, "
As a companion to its new study, FAO has also published "tool-kit" that contains recommendations on how food loss and waste can be reduced at every stage of the food chain. The tool-kit profiles a number of projects around the world that show how national and local governments, farmers, businesses, and individual consumers can take steps to tackle the problem.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director said, "UNEP and FAO have identified food waste and loss -- food wastage -- as a major opportunity for economies everywhere to assist in a transition towards a low carbon, resource efficient and inclusive Green Economy. Today's excellent report by the FAO underlines the multiple benefits that can be realized -- in many cases through simple and thoughtful measures by for example households, retailers, restaurants, schools and businesses -- that can contribute to environmental sustainability, economic improvements, food security and the realization of the UN Secretary General's Zero Hunger Challenge.We would urge everyone to adopt the motto of our joint campaign: Think Eat Save-Reduce Your Foodprint!" UNEP and FAO are founding partners of the Think Eat Save-Reduce Your Foodprint campaign that was launched earlier in the year and whose aim is to assist in coordinating world-wide efforts to manage down wastage.
Fifty-four percent of the world's food wastage occurs "upstream" during production, post-harvest handling and storage, according to the FAO's study. Forty-six percent of it happens "downstream," at the processing, distribution and consumption stages. As a general trend, developing countries suffer more food losses during agricultural production, while food waste at the retail and consumer level tends to be higher in middle- and high-income regions -- where it accounts for 31-39 percent of total wastage -- than in low-income regions (4-16 percent). The later a food product is lost along the chain, the greater the environmental consequences, the FAO's report notes, since the environmental costs incurred during processing, transport, storage and cooking must be added to the initial production costs. To tackle the problem, FAO's toolkit details three general levels where action is needed: