- Climate Change, Clean Technology, & Renewable Energy
- Advanced Coal / Fossil Fuel Technologies and Carbon Capture and Storage
- Clean Energy Technologies
- Climate Change
- Emissions Trading, Carbon Markets, & Offset Project Development
- Energy Efficiency
- Renewable Energy
- Energy Regulation & Compliance
- Natural Gas & Oil
- Oil & Products Pipelines
- Environment, Natural Resources, & Public Lands
- Air Regulation
- Mobile Source Regulation
- Government Relations & Public Policy
- Energy Policy
Weekly Climate Change Update - September 13, 2010Print PDF
September 13, 2010
To receive the Weekly Update via email, visit our Sign Up/Subscribe page.
Twenty environmental organizations announced a national campaign to persuade the Obama Administration to establish an average fuel economy standard for passenger vehicles of 60 miles per gallon . . . Last week, major NGOs sent a letter to EPA requesting that the agency commit, by September 15, to include GHG controls in the upcoming New Source Performance Standards for utility boilers – or face a lawsuit. On September 14, both EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Gina McCarthy are appearing at a Bipartisan Policy Center event recognizing the 40th anniversary of the enactment of the Clean Air Act. Expect major policy announcements.
- Federal Agencies Release “Sustainability Plans” to Cut GHG Emissions. Federal agencies took a further step towards implementing President Obama’s October 2009 Executive Order 13,514 by publicly releasing “sustainability performance plans” identifying steps agencies will take to reduce GHG emissions and specifying priority investments in energy efficiency, water conservation and waste reduction. Executive Order 13,514 requires Federal agencies to set and meet greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets for the next decade; under the Executive Order, the sustainability plans are to be revised each year. Over 50 of the sustainability plans have been made available on the White House website. The plans cover major agencies as well as agencies as diverse as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Peace Corps. The plans can be accessed at http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/sustainability/plans.
- DOE Announces Over $600 Million in CCS Funding. The Department of Energy (DOE) announced two major sets of grants for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) research and demonstration projects. The larger grant totals $575 million and will fund 22 industrial CCS projects in 15 states. Of this funding, $312 million will be used to advance large-scale testing of industrial advanced gasification technologies (including a $71 million grant to Air Products & Chemicals to accelerate development of ion transport membranes); $132 million will support advanced turbo-machinery to lower emissions; $90 million will finance low-cost and efficient post-combustion CO2 capture; and $50 million will fund geologic site characterization. A separate $40 million grant will finance partnerships between DOE labs and major universities to conduct computer modeling of CO2 capture techniques and underground storage.
- NEPA Guidance Close to Being Released. Nancy Sutley, Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), said that CEQ has nearly completed final guidance for federal agencies on the evaluation of climate change impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). NEPA requires that Federal agencies undertake an environmental impact assessment of any major Federal action that is expected to have a significant impact on the environment. Although Chairman Sutley did not specify when the guidelines would be published, she indicated that their release is coming “soon.” Addressing concerns raised by members of Congress, Chairman Sutley emphasized that the guidance would not establish a new regulatory program for GHGs or replace climate and energy legislation.
- NIST Issues Smart Grid Cybersecurity Guidance. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) issued its first set of guidelines to assist utilities in addressing cybersecurity issues relating to the use of “smart meters.” The 577-page report identifies potential privacy risks for smart meters installed in residences; provides a suggested framework for assessing risks; and recommends 189 “high-level security requirements” that could be applied to the smart grid and its components. Under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, NIST is responsible for developing interoperability and security standards for smart grid equipment. The report is available at http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/PubsNISTIRs.html#NIST-IR-7628.
- Reid Urges Piecemeal Approach to Climate Legislation. Speaking at a clean energy summit in Las Vegas, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) reiterated that the Senate would only consider a narrow energy bill this year, rather than comprehensive energy-climate legislation, and stated: “We can’t get everything done at once. We’re going to have to start looking at some piecemeal legislation.” Maj. Leader Reid mentioned that an energy bill could include the “Home Star” energy efficiency home retrofit program and incentives for natural gas vehicles, but would not commit to including a renewable electricity standard. He also said that he would try to bring an energy bill to the floor of the Senate before the November elections.
States and Cities
- WCI Proposes Harmonizing Revisions to Reporting Rules for Canadian Jurisdictions. The Western Climate Initiative (WCI), a climate change mitigation collaboration involving a number of U.S. states and Canadian provinces, has released proposed revisions of the program’s GHG emission reporting rules to be applied in Canadian jurisdictions. The WCI recently proposed revised emission reporting rules for U.S. facilities in participating states in order to harmonize WCI rules with the Environmental Protection Agency’s GHG reporting rules. According to the WCI, the proposed revisions to the rules for Canadian facilities are necessary in order to harmonize emission reporting across all WCI jurisdictions. Public comments on the proposed Canadian reporting requirements are due by October 12, 2010. The proposed revisions are available at http://www.westernclimateinitiative.org/public-comments/document/33.
Industry and NGOs
- Environmental Organizations Call for 60 MPG Fuel Economy by 2025. A group of twenty environmental organizations announced a national campaign to persuade the Obama Administration to establish new fuel economy standards requiring passenger vehicles to achieve an average fuel economy of 60 miles per gallon by 2025. According to the organizations, such standards would save approximately 40 billion barrels of oil per year by 2035. Under joint fuel economy and GHG emission standards promulgated this year, the fuel economy of passenger vehicles will reach 34 mpg in the 2016 model year. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are currently drafting joint standards to cover passenger vehicles in model years 2017 through 2025. In a statement released by the Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers, President and CEO Dave McCurdy said: “Instead of plucking numbers out of the air, we should base policy on science and expert reviews of all the factors, like affordability of technology, availability of low-carbon fuels and the state of the electric infrastructure.”
- Business Coalition Emphasizes Private Sector Role in Climate Change Assistance. A group of five business associations – including the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, the Carbon Markets & Investors Association, the Global Wind Energy Council, the International Emissions Trading Association, and the International Council for Sustainable Energy – sent a letter to the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing emphasizing the role of private sector enterprise in financing international climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. Noting that developed countries committed in the Copenhagen Accord to provide $100 billion per year in climate change assistance to developing countries by 2020, the letter says that “the only viable pathway to achieving this goal requires public and private sector finance to work in tandem to create sustainable partnerships.” The letter advocates the creation of internationally recognized offset credit programs and the development of innovative sectoral approaches for emission reduction projects. The letter is available at http://www.bcse.org/images/IntlCCTF/climate%20solutions%20business%20letter%20to%20agf_090210.pdf.
Studies and Reports
- Study Finds Approaching Infrastructure Decisions Critical. Research published in Science estimated future GHG emissions from existing fossil fuel-combusting infrastructure, assuming the infrastructure will be used for its lifetime and not replaced. The study found that even if no additional fossil fuel-combusting infrastructure is built, existing energy and transportation infrastructure will generate 496 gigatonnes of CO2 between 2010 and 2060, forcing an average warming of 1.3°C above the pre-industrial era and causing atmospheric CO2 concentrations to approach 430 parts per million (the current concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is approximately 390 ppm, or 40% higher than pre-industrial levels). The researchers concluded that the emission-generating infrastructure that could cause over 2°C of average warming and increase atmospheric GHG concentrations beyond 450 ppm (thresholds identified by many climate scientists as dangerous) has yet to be built. The abstract is available at http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/329/5997/1330.
- Environmental Ministers Continue Negotiations on Climate Change Funding. Environmental ministers representing 46 nations met in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss climate change financing. The two-day meeting resulted in limited progress, with ministers generally agreeing that a new fund should be created to distribute to developing nations the funds pledged by developed nations in the Copenhagen Accord (US$100 billion annually by 2020). The next major meeting of nations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will take place in Tianjin, China in October. The Tianjin meeting will be the last preparatory session before the 16th Conference of the Parties, scheduled for November 29 to December 10 in Cancún, Mexico.