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Senators Want Ag Sec. Out of RFS "Hardship Waiver" Decision Process (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
RFS
Date: 2019-07-03
Following up on our June 12 coverage, DTN Progressive Farmer is reporting thirteen Republican senators from oil-producing states are calling for President Trump to keep Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue out of EPA Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) small refinery "hardship waiver" decision-making process which the Senators claim the Agriculture Secretary has no authority. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA administrator decides, after consulting with the Energy secretary, which refiners receive or are denied a hardship waiver, the Senators note.

"We strongly oppose giving the Secretary (Perdue) any role in the decision-making process over the petitions. We would view any decisions to further delay, reduce, or deny hardship relief to small refineries, or reallocate the obligations of small refineries to other refineries, as the result of the Secretary of Agriculture's impermissible interference. We are confident that others, including the federal courts, would do the same," the thirteen Senators wrote.

The small-refinery exemptions have reduced ethanol use by about 2.6 billion gallons, and 38 refiners are waiting for EPA to decide on new exemptions.

Senators writing the letter included Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) as well as senators representing Louisiana, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.

As previously noted, "hardship waivers" were intended for refineries producing 75,000 bpd or less and suffered "disproportionate economic hardship" from the costs of RFS compliance. The waiver frees the refineries from an obligation to provide the EPA with biofuels credits proving compliance. In 2017, the number of small refineries filing for exemptions retroactively for 2016 jumped from 14 the previous year to 20. The rate in which EPA granted these petitions also increased dramatically from 53 pct to 95 pct (Source: Various Media, DTN, Progressive Farmer, July, 2019) Contact: Office of Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue,(202) 720-2791, feedback@oc.usda.gov, www.usda.gov/contact-us

More Low-Carbon Energy News Hardship Waiver,  Ethanol,  Ethanol Blend,  RFA,  Sonny Perdue,  


Senators Call for RFS "Hardship Waiver" Halt (Reg. & Leg.)
RFS,"Hardship Wsivers"
Date: 2019-06-12
Last week in Washington, a dozen Democrattic US Senators wrote to the Trump Administration appointed EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler advising that the small refiner "hardship waiver" provision was NOT intended to undermine the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Accordingly, the Senators added,

"We request that you cease issuing any further small refinery exemptions, immediately reallocate the remaining gallons, and make public the information regarding any recipients of these exemptions

"We are extremely concerned about the EPA's recent actions to continue to improperly grant small refinery hardship waivers under the RFS. EPA's continued manipulation and misuse of the small refiner waiver authority is undermining the integrity of the RFS and disadvantaging farmers. Rather than follow congressional intent in the RFS and follow through on the promises made to rural America, the EPA and the (Trump) Administration are providing waivers, in secret, to help some of the largest oil companies and refiners evade their compliance obligations under the Clean Air Act.

The letter's signatories included Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

As previously noted, "hardship waivers" were intended for refineries producing 75,000 bpd or less and suffered "disproportionate economic hardship" from the costs of RFS compliance. The waiver frees the refineries from an obligation to provide the EPA with biofuels credits proving compliance. In 2017, the number of small refineries filing for exemptions retroactively for 2016 jumped from 14 the previous year to 20. The rate in which EPA granted these petitions also increased dramatically from 53 pct to 95 pct. (Source: Farm Journal, Various Media, AgPro, 11 June, 2019)

More Low-Carbon Energy News Biofuel Blend,  RFS,  "Hardship Waivers" ,  Andrew Wheeler,  


EPA Now Allows E15 Ethanol Blend Summer Sales (Reg & Leg Report)
EPA
Date: 2019-06-03
Today in Washington, the US EPA announced the ending a summertime ban on the E15 blend imposed out of concerns for increased smog from the higher ethanol blend. Until the change, the only ethanol blend fuel typically found in summer months was a 10 pct (E10) ethanol blend . The move may well be challenged by environmental groups on the grounds that the U.S. Clean Air Act disallows year-round E15 sales over smog and air quality concerns.

The change removes a barrier to wider sales of E15 and is expected to expand the market for ethanol -- although immediate effects on the market are expected to be minimal since only about 1,000 to 1,500 of more than 150,000 U.S. gas stations currently sell the higher-ethanol blend, according to the EPA Office of Air and Radiation. (Source: EPA, PBS New, 31 May, 2019)

More Low-Carbon Energy News E15 news,  Ethanol Blend news,  


SCAQMD Awards $47Mn for Cleaner Technologies, Fuels (Funding)
South Coast Air Quality Management District
Date: 2019-01-07
In the Golden State, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) reports it has awarded $47.4 million to 26 businesses, organizations, universities, government agencies and utility companies in the South Coast Basin and Coachella Valley to help them purchase and upgrade their equipment with cleaner flues and energy efficient technologies.

Under the federal Clean Air Act, the SCAQMD service region must meet the 1-hour ozone, 8-hour ozone, 24-hour PM2.5, and annual PM2.5 National Ambient Air Quality Standards within the next 12 years.

Established in 1976, the Diamond Bar-based SCAQMD is responsible for regulating stationary sources of air pollution in the South Coast Air Basin, in Southern California. (Source: SCAQMD, Sentinel News Service, 4 Jan., 2019) Contact: SCAQMD, Wayne Nastri, CEO, (909)396-2000, www.aqmd.gov/home/rules-compliance/rules

More Low-Carbon Energy News Clean Fuel,  Air Quality,  Clean Air,  SCAQMD,  South Coast Air Quality Management District,  


Trump Admin. Expected to Change E15 Biofuel Rules (Reg & Leg)
E15,Trump
Date: 2018-10-10
It is being widely reported that U.S. Pres. Donald Trump will order acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to lift the Renewable Fuel Standard summertime ban on the sale of E15 and thus help limit market speculation in biofuel credits.

E15 sales are currently blocked from the beginning of June through the middle of September because the fuel blend does not meet ozone standards spelled out in the Clean Air Act.

It is even more widely speculated that Trump's move is focused on stroking his biofuels and farm belt base before for the November mid-term elections. (Source: CNBC, Various Media, 8 Oct., 2018)

More Low-Carbon Energy News E15,  Trump,  RFS,  Biofuel,  


Trump's New Affordable Clean Energy Rule Fast Facts (Reg. & Leg.)
Clean Power Plan
Date: 2018-08-29
On August 21, 2018, the U.S. EPA proposed the Trump administration's Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule which would establish emission guidelines for states to develop plans to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing coal-fired power plants.

The ACE rule would replace the 2015 (Obama administration) Clean Power Plan (CPP) which EPA has proposed to repeal because it "exceeded EPA's authority." The CPP was stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court and has never gone into effect.

The ACE rule has several components: a determination of the best system of emission reduction (BSER) for GHG emissions from coal-fired power plants, a list of "candidate technologies" states can use when developing their plans, a new preliminary applicability test for determining whether a physical or operational change made to a power plant may be a "major modification" triggering New Source Review, and new implementation regulations for emission guidelines under Clean Air Act section 111(d). The EPA notes that with CO2 emissions steadily declining:

  • EPA projects that, compared to a no CPP scenario, the ACE rule will reduce CO2 emissions in 2025 by between 13 and 30 million short tons, resulting in $1.6 billion in monetized domestic climate benefits;
  • EPA estimates that the ACE rule could reduce 2030 CO2 emissions by an amount equivalent to the annual emissions of up to 5 million cars. The rule could also reduce co-pollutant emissions by up to 2 pct.;
  • These illustrative scenarios suggest that when states have fully implemented the ACE rule, U.S. power sector CO2 emissions could be around 34 pct below 2005 levels;
  • CO2 emissions in the power sector have steadily declined in recent years due to a range of factors including market forces, technology improvements, regulatory and policy changes. As a result, the industry has increased the use of natural gas and renewable energy sources;
  • These trends have resulted in CO2 emission reductions even as the U.S. has sustained economic growth and job gains across the economy without the (Obama) Clean Power Plan ever going into effect;
  • The (Trump) ACE rule will continue this trend;
  • The power sector emitted roughly 1.9 billion tons of CO2 in 2017, compared to 2.7 billion tons in 2005 -- a 28 pct decrease.
  • Approximately 600 coal-fired electric generating units at 300 facilities could be covered by the ACE rule.

    According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the U.S. leads the world in reducing CO2 emissions with U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions falling by 14 pct between 2005 to 2017, with coal-related CO2 emissions down 39 pct over that period. During that time, global energy-related CO2 emissions rose by 21 pct.

    More information and additional fact sheets along with copies of the proposed rule and accompanying Regulatory Impact Analysis are available HERE, www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-08/documents/ace_trends.pdf. (Source: US EPA, EIA, 27 Aug., 2018)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Trump.Carbon Emissions,  Clean Power Plan ,  


  • Trump Dumps Obama Era Clean Air Act (Reg & Leg)
    Clean Power Plan
    Date: 2018-08-22
    It is being widely reported that acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has signed a proposal calling for individual states to regulate power plant emissions, unlike the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan that made the regulation of power plant emissions a federal responsibility.

    The new EPA proposal, which is projected to release 12 times the amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere compared with Obama's Clean Power Plan, flies in the face of the 2015 Clean Power Plan requiring states to meet specific carbon emission reduction standards based on their individual energy production and consumption.

    Obama's plan was challenged as "unconstitutional" and outside the federal government's power to regulate. (Source: Various Media, WSJ, Various Media, 21 Aug., 2018)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Carbon Emissions,  Obama Clean Power Plan,  


    Notable Quote Worth Noting

    Date: 2018-08-03
    "So President Trump, I know you really want to be an action hero, right? So take it from the Terminator, you're only supposed to go back in time to protect future generations. But your administration attempts to go back in time to rescue the coal industry, which is actually a threat to future generations."

    "For 48 years -- since one of my heroes, then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, requested it -- California has had a waiver from the federal government to clean our own air. If the President (Trump) thinks he can win this fight, he's out of his mind." -- Arnold Schwarzenegger, 2003-211 California Governor (D) , commenting on Trump's proposed withdrawal of California's Clean Air Act pre-emption waiver. California and about a dozen states follow its rules account for about a third of all the passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. August 1, 2018


    Notable Quotes Worth Noting

    Date: 2018-07-25
    "To the Trump administration -- make no mistake about it -- we are ready to use every legal tool at our disposal to protect the current vehicle emission standards. The stakes are high for our families' health, the environment, and our economic prosperity." -- Xavier Becerra, California Attorney General responding to reports the Trump administration will propose stripping California's Clean Air Act waiver and authority to regulate automobile greenhouse gas emissions. Contact:Xavier Becerra, California Attorney General oag.ca.gov.

    "(If the Trump administration revokes California's Clean Air Act waiver) there is no question that California will immediately sue. I suspect that California has had a draft suit in its back pocket since the Trump administration began signaling that it might travel this route a few months ago. The lawsuit would further put automakers in regulatory limbo, possibly for years, while the Trump administration battles California in court." -- Belynda Reck, a Reed Smith environmental and products liability law. Contact: Reed Smith, www.reedsmith.com. (Source: Recorder, Various Other Media, 23 July, 2018)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News GHG Emissions,  


    Trump Plans Assault on Obama-Era Emissions Standards (Reg & Leg)
    Emissions,Vehicle Emissions
    Date: 2018-07-25
    It is being widely reported by Bloomberg and other media that the Trump administration may attempt to revoke California's authority for setting its own greenhouse gas rules and other Obama-era vehicle emissions standards separate to federal emissions standards.

    During the Obama administration, California aligned its standards with wider federal standards in a bid to ease compliance requirements for automakers.

    According to Bloomberg, the Trump administration plans to dilute future emissions standards proposed by Obama by capping federal fuel economy requirements at the 2020 level of at least 35-mile-per-gallon for manufacturers' fleet average, rather than letting them rise to around 50 mpg by 2025 as currently planned.

    The 2009 Clean Air Act waiver allows California to set its own standards for greenhouse emissions and builds on a long-standing right the state enjoyed to set its own vehicle emissions standards in response to the smog that afflicted some areas of the state in the 1970s and 80s. (Source: Business Green, Bloomberg, Others, July, 2018)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Vehicle Emissions,  Carbon Emissions,  Clean Air Act,  Transportation Emissions,  


    States Act Against EPA Over Landfill Methane Rules Delays (Ind. Report, Reg. & Leg.)
    Methane, EPA
    Date: 2018-06-13
    The AGs from eight states plus the Pennsylvania DEP have together filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the US EPA for its alleged failure to implement the Obama administration's 2016 municipal landfill emissions guidelines in accordance with the timeline mandated by the Clean Air Act (CAA).

    The complaints are asking the court to issue a mandatory injunction compelling the EPA to implement and enforce the emissions guidelines without further delay.

    The guidelines for existing landfills and the jointly issued New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) were revised primarily to control methane emissions that contribute to climate change.

    The EPA estimated that the two rules will reduce methane emissions by approximately 330,000 metric tons -- with a global warming potential equivalent to 8.2 million metric tpy of CO2 by 2025. That is roughly equivalent to the annual emissions of 1.8 million cars on the road. (Source: Various Media, EPA, EHS Daily Advisor, 12 June, 2018)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Methane,  GHGs,  Emissions,  EPA,  Landfill Gas,  


    States Act Against EPA's Methane Standards Delays (Reg & Leg)
    EPA,Methane Leak
    Date: 2018-04-09
    Reuters is reporting 14 states have filed suit against the U.S. EPA for delaying or failing to expeditiously issue regulations for curbing emissions of the greenhouse gas methane from existing oil and gas operations as required under the Clean Air Act. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt is accused of putting the interests of oil and gas companies ahead of the EPA's obligation to protect air quality, including the control of heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions. The lawsuit is seeking a court order compelling the EPA to devise and issue the emissions standards in question.

    The legal challenge includes New York State, California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Vermont and Iowa, as well as the District of Columbia and the city of Chicago. (Source: Guam Daily Post, Reuters, Others, 6 April, 2018)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Methane,  Methane Emissions,  EPA,  Pruitt,  


    NCGA Comments on Bankrupt PES Proposed RFS Settlement (Ind. Report)
    National Corn Growers Association,Philadelphia Energy Solutions
    Date: 2018-03-30
    The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) this week submitted formal comments to the U.S. Department of Justice on the proposed settlement agreement between Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) and the US EPA. The settlement stems from the outstanding RFS compliance obligations the refiner has included in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

    "NCGA claims the settlement would undermine the RFS and allow the refiner 'to walk away' from more than half of its outstanding RFS obligations and allow its parent companies to avoid liability." According to NCGA President Kevin Skunes, the proposal "would have negative policy implications for the RFS and future compliance with the Clean Air Act, as the settlement does not hold all parties liable for violations of the Clean Air Act." (Source: NCGA, Neb. Rural Radio, Others, 29 Mar., 2018) Contact: NCGA, Kevin Skunes, Pres., (202) 326-0644, www.ncga.com; Philadelphia Energy Solutions, www.pes-companies.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News National Corn Growers Association,  RFS,  Philadelphia Energy Solutions,  


    "If You Love the Taste of a Lobster Stew, Served by a Window with a Cape Cod View" -- APCC Opposes Repeal of Clean Power Plan (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
    Association to Preserve Cape Cod
    Date: 2018-01-12
    Citing concerns about increased severity and frequency of coastal storms, sea level rise, coastal erosion and other existing and future adverse impacts from climate change to the Cape Cod region, the not-for-profit environmental group Association to Preserve Cape Cod (APCC) submitted a letter to U.S. EPA kingpin Scott Pruitt opposing the agency's proposed plan to repeal the Obama era Clean Power Plan requiring significant reductions in electrical power plant CO2 emissions. Repeal of the Clean Power Plan would lift those restrictions and allow for continued and potentially increased use of coal to fire the nation's power plants.

    Highlights of APCC communication include: " Climate change has emerged as the greatest environmental threat facing our (Cape Cod) region's natural resources, economy and human population. Cape Cod communities are already experiencing worsening impacts from sea level rise, coastal erosion and an increase in frequency and severity of coastal storms associated with a changing climate.

    "Electrical power plants fired by fossil fuels are responsible for 31 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. -- the single largest source of greenhouse gas pollution in the nation. Any effort to effectively reduce the greenhouse gasses that cause climate change must include a substantial reduction in power plant emissions levels. The Clean Power Plan would achieve that objective.

    "Issuance of the Clean Power Plan by the EPA in 2015, with its requirement for significant reductions in CO2 pollution emissions from power plants, has been the most important step to date taken by the U.S. to address climate change. Implementation of the CPP would set our nation on the right track toward mitigating climate change and its impacts, and it would secure the U.S.'s position as a responsible global partner in the effort to control CO2 emissions.

    "The EPA has a legal requirement under the Clean Air Act -- requirement that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court -- to regulate CO2 as a pollutant that endangers human health. Repeal of the CPP would be in direct conflict with the EPA's charge to protect the nation's environment and the health of its citizens, a responsibility entrusted to the agency since its establishment in 1970." (Source: Association to Preserve Cape Cod, CapeCodToday, 10 Jan., 2018) Contact: Association to Preserve Cape Cod, Andrew Gottlieb, Exec. Dir., (508) 619-3185, www.apcc.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Obama Clean Power Plan,  EPA,  Clean Power Plan,  Pruitt,  


    RFS Ethanol Blend Waiver Sought for NJ Refinery (Ind. Report)
    RFS
    Date: 2017-11-20
    In a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, legislators in the Garden State are asking the US EPA to waive Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS)rules governing blending of ethanol into gasoline, a requirement they say threatens the financial viability and future of the 100 year-old Paulsboro, New Jersey refinery. Refiners unable to comply with the blending rule can comply by purchasing credits (RINs) instead, an expensive proposition, the lawmakers said.

    "The cost of compliance to this regulation puts at risk these energy-sector jobs in our region. In addition, these high costs also contribute to the cost of gasoline for residents and consumers," the legislators claim. The legislators note the EPA has legal authority under the Clean Air Act to waive the renewable obligations “should they present a harm to a state or regional economy." (Source: NJ Spotlight, Various Media, 17 Nov., 2017)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Renewable Fuel Standard,  Ethanol Blend,  RINs,  Ethanol,  


    Pa. Gov. Seeking RFS Waiver to Protect Refiners (Reg & Leg)
    RFS
    Date: 2017-10-27
    Writing from the state capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (Dem) has asked President Trump for a waiver to the RFS saying on the grounds that high RIN prices and market volatility may lead to closure of the state's merchant refiners.

    "As you are aware, obligated parties such as oil refiners are required to submit RIN credits to the EPA to demonstrate compliance with the RFS. However, the merchant refiners of the Northeast are not able to acquire enough RIN credits to meet their RFS obligations because they have limited blending capacity. Therefore, they must purchase RINs on the secondary market, where prices have increased significantly,," Wolf's letter read.

    Wolf's letter asked for a waiver "until or unless the market prices deflate. Absent this waiver, the Northeast and specifically Pennsylvania will experience significant economic impacts."

    The Clean Air Act allows a waiver if the EPA administrator determines the implementation of RFS requirements would severely harm the economy of a state, a region or the country as a whole. (Source: Feedstuffs, Various Media, Progressive Farmer, 24 Oct., 2017) Contact: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, www.governor.pa.gov/contact

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RINs,  RFS,  


    EPA Sued for Missed Renewable Fuel Reporting Deadlines (Reg & Lag)
    EPA,Sierra Club
    Date: 2017-10-23
    In the nation's capital, the Sierra Club is taking the the US EPA to court claiming the agency is years overdue on its reporting obligations, and failure to address the growing prevalence of respiratory illness and environmental degradations the group says are being cause by corn and soy-based ethanol. According to the suit, the EPA violated the Clean Air Act by failing to update Congress on the environmental impacts of the Renewable Fuel Standard program, and failed to study whether increased ethanol use is causing harm to the environment.

    According to the Sierra Club complaint, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is not submitting the required reports on the environmental and resource conservation impacts of the Energy Independence and Security Act's Renewable Fuel Standard program and has failed to complete the required "anti-backsliding" study to determine whether vehicle and engine air pollutant emissions changes, resulting from the Program's renewable fuel volumes, adversely impact air quality". the complaint says.

    The Sierra Club says it sent a letter to Pruitt on February 23, informing him that he wasn't performing his duty in regard to the RFS program. The Sierra Club seeks a declaration that Pruitt and the EPA have violated federal law, and an order compelling them to file the overdue reports. (Source: Sierra Club, 20 Oct., 2017) Contact: Sierra Club, Devorah Ancel, Oakland, California Office, www.sierraclub.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News RFS,  Biofuel Blend,  Scott Pruitt,  Sierra Club,  ,  


    New EPA Rule OKs Texas Coal Plant Pollution Increases (Reg & Leg)
    Obama Clean Energy Plan
    Date: 2017-10-11
    The Texas Observer is reporting that a new EPA air pollution rule will allow Texas coal plants to emit almost twice as much sulfur dioxide than an earlier proposal by the Obama administration. Aside from being a key component in forming haze, sulfur dioxide exacerbates respiratory illnesses such as asthma and contributes to acid rain.

    For instance, in 2016, the Big Brown coal plant east of Waco, emitted 42,000 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) , 4,500 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and about 7.5 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). Under the old rule, the plant was required to cut SO2 by 97 pct, bringing its yearly emissions down to 1,380 tons. The reduction would have either required the plant to install expensive scrubbers. Under the new rule, the plant can continue to emit 42,000 tons of SO2.

    According to Rice University civil and environmental engineering professor Dan Cohan,"The new proposal is a sham. It does nothing. It sets a cap that's higher than what those plants have been emitting for the past few years. Texas is allowing more power plants to keep burning coal un-scrubbed than anywhere else in the country. Rather than do nothing, which would get [the EPA] sued for violating the Clean Air Act, the strategy appears to be to issue a rule that is so weak that it accomplishes nothing. But by having the rule there, they can claim that they're doing something. It's a very cynical approach to environmental protections." (Source: Texas Observer, 9 Oct., 2017) Contact: Rice University, Prof. Dan Cohan, https://cohan.rice.edu

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Coal,  Carbon Emissions,  Obama Clean Energy Plan,  


    Burning Coal Methane for Carbon Credits Proposed (Ind. Report)
    Global Carbon Strategies Corp.
    Date: 2017-09-08
    Lakewood, Colorado-based Global Carbon Strategies Corp. (GCS) reports it plans to "flare" up to 400,000 million btu of vented coal mine methane gas per year from 6 "gob" mines in Utah under a five-year contract with Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration.

    Under federal legislation, mine operators are permitted to vent mine methane without penalty. GCS' proposal qualifies under California's cap-and-trade system.

    GCS will pay a 12.5-cent royalty per million btu flared, plus $5,000 per year per mine in rent. Carbon offsets are currently selling for $5.80 per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent.

    According to the EPA, coal mines represent 12 pct of all human-caused methane emissions and are the nation's second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions after CO2. Even so, methane emissions from mines are exempted from regulation under the Clean Air Act because the gas has to be vented from underground coal deposits to prevent lethal explosions.

    To calculate the carbon offsets the methane destruction is worth, GCS is relying on Salt Lake City-based consulting firm Bluesource, which will register the offsets with the Climate Action Reserve. They could then be issued California Air Resources Board (CARB) which has authorized 7 mines to join the offset program. (Source: GCS, CARB, Salt Lake Tribune, Sept., 2017) Contact: Global Carbon Strategies, C. Kennedy, VP, 1885 Denver West Court, Lakewood, Colorado, 80401, -- phone and email not presently available; Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, (801) 538-5100, https://trustlands.utah.gov; CARB, (800) 242-4450, helpline@arb.ca.gov, www.arb.ca.gov; Bluesource, www.bluesource.com

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Bluesource,  California ARB,  ,  Global Carbon Strategies,  Methane,  Carbon Credit ,  


    EPA Temporarily Waives Ren. Fuel Blending Requirements (Ind. Report)
    RFA
    Date: 2017-09-01
    Following on our August 25th coverage, the Washington Examiner is reporting that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday approved a fuel blending waiver in the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas, Louisiana, and D.C. -- due to possible fuel supply disruptions caused by Hurricane Harvey. In addition, the elimination of the volatility requirements for gasoline allows the corn ethanol industry to sell higher 15-pct ethanol blends in the gasoline supply in those states, according to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) which earlier this week lobbied the EPA head Scott Pruitt to issue a national fuel waiver.

    The EPA fuel waiver will make it easier for gasoline and diesel supplies to be distributed by relaxing Clean Air Act regulations that require special blends be made available to meet state-specific emission requirements. Current EPA emission rules don't allow for E15 to be blended in the summer because of its high fuel volatility and pressure rating. The new waiver relaxes those requirements for reformulated gasoline and low volatility gasoline through Sept. 15, opening up an opportunity to sell more E15 from the Gulf Coast to the Mid-Atlantic. (Source: RFA, Washington Examiner, 30 Aug., 2017) Contact: RFA, Geoff Cooper, Snr. VP, (202) 289-3835, www.ethanolrfa.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News E15,  Ethanol Blend,  RFA,  Fuel Emissions ,  EPA,  Scott Pruitt,  


    Tenn. Counties Awarded Energy Efficiency Grant Funding (Ind. Report)

    Date: 2017-08-21
    Grundy, Marion, Rhea and Sequatchie Counties in the Chattanooga, Tennessee region have received over $530,365 in energy efficiency and clean energy grant funding from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Clean Tennessee Energy Grant program. The program provides financial assistance to municipal and county governments, utility districts and other entities created by state statute. Funding comes from a 2011, $26.4 million Clean Air Act settlement with the Tennessee Valley Authority.

    Grundy County will use its grant funds for efficiency upgrades, LED lighting and on/off energy sensors. Marion County will upgrade lighting to LEDs, install a new closed-circuit cooler and new Energy Star rated windows. Rhea County will get upgraded lighting and install new synthetic, reflective roofing, while Sequatchie County will upgrade to LED lighting in the Sequatchie County Justice Center, county courthouse and health department to save an estimated $42,645 a year. (Source: Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Times Free Press, 21 Aug., 2017) Contact: Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, www.tennessee.gov/environment

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Energy Efficiency news,  


    $1.9Mn TN. Energy Efficiency, Clean Air Funding Announced (Funding)

    Date: 2017-08-16
    In Nashville, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has announced that 24 communities in 11 distressed East Tennessee counties will share $1.9 million in funding for energy efficiency and other improvements to public facilities. Funding comes from a 2011 $26.4 million Clean Air Act settlement with the Tennessee Valley Authority. The list of project grants range from $19,095 to $232,810. (Source: Knoxville News Sentinal, 14 Aug., 2017)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Energy Efficiency,  Energy Efficiency Grants,  


    Groups Seek FHA Clean Air Standard Reinstatement ( Reg & Leg)
    U.S. PRIG,Federal Highway Administration,NRDC
    Date: 2017-08-02
    In the nation's capital, the Natural Resources Defense Council, U.S. PIRG -- a public interest advocacy group, and the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of Clean Air Carolina, report they have taken legal action against the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) for illegally suspending the Clean Air Standard this year, and are seeking its immediate reinstatement.

    The suit claims the Trump administration ignored requirements under the federal Administrative Procedure Act when it suspended the transportation greenhouse gas standard which was intended to curb transportation sector climate-changing emissions. The suit asks the court to invalidate the suspension, meaning that the standard would go into immediate effect and thus help slow climate change and reduce ground-level ozone and other harmful pollutants . (Source: U.S. PIRG, PR, 31 July, 2017) Contact: NRDC, Jake Thompson, 202-289-2387, jthompson@nrdc.org, www.nrdc.org; SELC and Clean Air Carolina, Claudine McElwain , 434-977-4090, cmcelwain@selcva.org, www.selcva.org; U.S. PIRG, Matthew Casale, 617-747-4314, mcasale@pirg.org, www.pirg.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Federal Highway Administration,  Clean Air Act,  NRDC,  


    Ky. EEC Awards $1.6Mn for Energy Efficiency Projects (Funding)
    Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet
    Date: 2017-07-26
    In the Bluegrass State, the Energy and Environment Cabinet (EEC) reports that seven Kentucky organizations will share more than $1.6 million in grant funding to promote efficient technologies and practices in public and private-sector buildings. Recipients include education, utility service, local government, and waste water treatment organizations.

    According to EEC, "These projects represent innovative initiatives that provide long-term benefits to the citizens of Kentucky. Some projects build upon existing programs that have already demonstrated the value of investments in energy efficiency while other projects integrate new technologies and practices in areas that support infrastructure in local communities." The grant funds are provided under a 2011 settlement agreement for Clean Air Act violations. The settlement required the permittee to invest in new and upgraded state-of-the-art pollution controls that will reduce pollution, save energy and protect public health and the environment. Kentucky received $11.2 million to implement environmental mitigation projects. (Source: Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, Northern Kentucky Tribune, 25 July, 2017) Contact: Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, (502) 564-3350, www.eec.ky.gov

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Energy Efficiency,  


    Pruitt's Suspension of Obama Methane Rule Nixed (Reg & Leg)
    EPA
    Date: 2017-07-07
    In a 2-to-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has held that the EPA cannot suspend an Obama administration rule to restrict methane emissions from new oil and gas wells.

    EPA administrator Pruitt, a noted climate change skeptic, had imposed a 90-day moratorium, which he later extended to two years, on enforcement of parts of the Obama era methane regulation and argued that his action was not subject to court review. But the appeals court disagreed and ruled that the EPA's decision was "unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious." The court ruled that the agency lacked authority under the Clean Air Act to block the methane rule but did have authority to reverse the methane regulations. The court also ruled that the agency would have to undertake a new rule-making process to undo the Obama regulation. (Source: Various Media, NY Times, 3 July, 2017)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Methane,  Methane Rule,  EPA,  


    Chicago Joins Coalition Threatening Suit Against EPA Over Methane Rules (Ind. Report)
    Methane
    Date: 2017-07-05
    Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and 14 other attorneys general, the California Air Resources Board, and the City of Chicago have alerted EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt that they plan to sue if the agency continues to ignore its legal duty to control emissions of methane from existing oil and gas operations.

    The coalition's notice to the EPA cited the agency's failure to fulfill its obligation under the Clean Air Act to control methane emissions from existing oil and natural gas sources and for "unreasonably delaying" the issuance of such controls. It also argues that EPA's failure to act since September 2015 to issue controls on methane emissions from existing sources in the oil and gas industry violates the EPA's non-discretionary duty under the Clean Air Act and is an unreasonable delay in setting such controls.

    Last week, a coalition of 14 states filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit against EPA's actions halting regulation of methane emissions from new sources in the oil and gas industry. In February, a coalition of seven attorneys general and two environmental agencies urged U.S. Senate leadership to oppose a Congressional Review Act resolution to repeal a rule regulating methane emissions from oil and gas operations on public lands.

    Illinois AG Madigan has also condemned federal executive's attempt to eliminate the Clean Power Plan and opposed the drastic budget cuts proposed for the EPA. (Source: Office of Illinois Attorney General, 29 June, 2017) Contact: Office of Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, (312) 814-3400, www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Methane,  Clean Power Plan,  


    American Coalition for Ethanol Submits EPA Reform Priorities -- Report Attached (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
    American Coalition for Ethanol
    Date: 2017-04-24
    The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) has submitted the attached comments to the EPA about the regulatory changes it wants for ethanol. The comments are in response to the Trump administration's EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's task force to review existing EPA regulations.

    "Today, in most parts of the country, retailers are now allowed to sell E-15 in the summer months. That's because EPA has refused to update a regulation regarding evaporative emissions for fuel. E-15 is the cleanest fuel approved for most cars on the road today. We all know we're sitting on surplus stocks of corn today and low corn prices. So at the end of the day, this is about increasing demand for corn and providing a valuable market for farmers," says ACE.

    Brian Jennings, Executive VP of the coalition, says the top priority for his group is having the EPA revise emissions standards to allow E-15 and higher ethanol blends to be sold year round. Jennings says the EPA should also update the life cycle analysis of corn ethanol, reevaluate the EPA's interpretation of the Clean Air Act and streamline the approval process for higher octane fuel blends.

    Read the complete ACE comments HERE. (Source: American Coalition for Ethanol, April 12, 2017) Contact: ACE, Brian Jennings, Exec. VP, (605) 334-3381, https://ethanol.org

    More Low-Carbon Energy News American Coalition for Ethanol ,  Ethanol,  


    Brookings Comments on Trump's Executive Order on Energy Independence (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
    Brookings Institution
    Date: 2017-03-29
    "First and most prominently, the (Trump) executive order directs the Environmental Protection Agency to review the Clean Power Plan, one of Obama's key regulatory actions to drive down greenhouse gas emissions in the electric power sector. Because an executive order cannot directly overturn a regulation, the EPA will have to come to a finding about whether the CPP should be revised or repealed. Technically, the EPA does not have an option to repeal and not replace, because the Supreme Court has already ruled that the current interpretation of the Clean Air Act -- the legislation upon which the CPP is based -- requires the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. Repeal without replacement would contravene the Supreme Court's order, so Trump's EPA must come up with an alternative that will hold up in court.

    "Second, dismantling the CPP would put the U.S. on a higher pollution and less ambitious emissions track in the medium term. The CPP targeted a roughly 32 percent decrease in CO2 emissions from the power sector by 2030, primarily from accelerating the long-term shift away from coal-fired electricity generation. In addition to having impacts on the U.S. economy and health, removing the CPP would imply a costly delay in implementing what in the long run will be necessary reductions in our overall greenhouse gas emissions over time. In addition, the approach in the CPP was developed over many years of consultation with industry, health advocates, states, and other stakeholders. While it would impact coal, it did provide a reasonable approach to reducing the most harmful emissions and steering the economy toward a sounder energy system for the future.

    "In addition, while Trump argues that the CPP rollback will benefit jobs, he is referring to a relatively small set of interests. While it is important to be mindful of the need to blunt the potential economic hardship that people working in dying industries face, even insiders acknowledge that the coal sector is not going to recover even with these rules rolled back, not least because of mechanization. Recent Department of Energy statistics show that the coal mining industry employed roughly 66,000 miners in 2015, compared to an estimated 3 million jobs supported by clean energy. Therefore, the likely impact of the order on the coal industry will be fairly weak in the near term and, at best, mediocre in the long term. While reversing the moratorium on new coal mining leases will open new sources of supply, it will not in itself reverse the trends in energy markets that have increasingly favored gas. In addition, other regulations to control air pollution will continue to restrict the burning of coal for electricity.

    "Dismantling the CPP would have an effect on the overall U.S. climate strategy and will make it harder and more expensive to achieve the necessary levels of greenhouse gas emissions in the longer term. But it is also important to remember that the CPP, in targeting roughly one-third of overall U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, is only one part of the overall strategy to drive down U.S. emissions. Electricity currently makes up about 39 percent of U.S. energy use and is responsible for about 30 percent of overall U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. While many of the most inexpensive and economically efficient opportunities for emissions reductions exist in the power sector, a number of other areas that will continue to see efficiency gains, such as in appliance and equipment standards and the first round of auto fuel economy standards implemented under Obama. As one example, existing appliance and equipment efficiency standards are expected to reduce U.S. CO2 emissions by 3 billion tons by 2030 -- fully half of the estimated reductions from the CPP." (Source: The Brookings Institution, Nathan Hultman, March 28, 2017)

    Note:The prestigious Brookings Institution is a century-old, Washington, DC-headquartered nonprofit public policy think tank that conducts in-depth research that leads to new ideas for solving problems facing society at the local, national and global level. -- Brookings www.brookings.edu



    More Low-Carbon Energy News Climate Change,  Donald Trump,  Obama Clean Power Plan,  Carbon Emissions,  


    ATR Wants BLM Methane Rule Repeal (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
    Americans for Tax Reform, BLM Methane Rule
    Date: 2017-01-30
    Americans for Tax Reform has today released the following a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urging Congressional lawmakers to repeal the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Waste Production, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation Rule (BLM Methane Rule).

    "On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) I write to express ATR's strong support for using the Congressional Review Act to repeal the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Waste Production, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation Rule – commonly referred to as the BLM Methane Rule.

    "The BLM Methane Rule is a product of federal regulatory overreach, released in the eleventh hour by the Obama Administration, serving only to preserve the former President's legacy at the expense of responsible U.S. energy production. BLM not only lacks the statutory authority to enact the Methane Rule, but the rule is also duplicative and wholly unnecessary.

    "Under the Clean Air Act the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in conjunction with the states, is vested with the sole authority to regulate air quality. By releasing the Methane Rule, BLM is attempting to regulate air quality and has thus exceeded its statutorily granted authority. It is also the case that EPA last year finalized rules to regulate methane emissions on top of existing state regulations. Thus the BLM's rule is wholly duplicative and adds to an already substantial regulatory burden on American energy production.

    "Furthermore, the Methane Rule is a regulation in search of a problem. Since 1990 natural gas production has increased by almost 50 percent while methane emissions from oil and gas development have declined by over 20 percent, thanks to advances in technology.

    "I urge you and your colleagues in Congress to use the authority granted under the Congressional Review Act to repeal the BLM's Methane Rule."

    (signed) Grover G. Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform (Source: Americans for Tax Reform, 30 Jan., 2017) Contact: Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Nordquist, Pres., (202) 785-0266, www.atr.org; Bureau of Land Management, www.blm.gov

    More Low-Carbon Energy News Americans for Tax Reform,  BLM Methane Emissions ,  


    States Want Obama Clean Power Plan Quashed ... NOW! (Reg & Leg)
    Clean Power Plan
    Date: 2016-12-21
    SeeNews is reporting that a coalition of twenty-four states and state agencies have written to President-elect Donald Trump, VP-elect Michael Pence, and U.S. Senate and House of Representative leaders requesting an executive order on the first day of the Trump administration cancelling the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan.

    The coalition includes West Virginia, Texas, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming, as well as the Mississippi and North Carolina departments of environmental quality.

    The 24-state coalition claims the Clean Power Plan is unlawful, unconstitutional and at odds with section 111 of the Clean Air Act, which prohibits the EPA mandating that states implement emission reductions relying on the elimination of operations at a regulated source. (Source: SeeNews, Various Others, 19 Dec., 2016)

    More Low-Carbon Energy News EPA,  Clean Power Plan,  

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