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Energy Policy

White House Set to Release Carbon Rules for Existing Power Plants

May 30, 2014 9:07 AM | Posted by Greissing, Patrick | Topic(s): Federal Policy/Programs, State Policy/Programs, Energy Policy, GHG / Climate Change

President Barack Obama is expected to release rules that will put a cap on carbon emissions from existing power plants on June 2. The rules will likely provide many contentious issues. One to keep an eye on is how states handle the rules as they will likely be tasked with developing and implementing programs that comply with EPA guidelines. Another potential issue is how far the rules actually go to cap the greenhouse gas emissions. Will the owners of the power plants keep them open, retrofit them or close them based on how far the emissions limits go.

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Longtime Congresssman Henry Waxman to Retire

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) will retire after four decades of serving the country as a member of Congress. Waxman served as a leader for the Democratic party on many health and environmental issues over the four decades, including: universal health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid coverage, cost of generic drugs, tobacco regulation, air and water quality standards, pesticide regulation, and climate change efforts. His leadership efforts earned him the spot of Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee from January 2009 – January 2011. If you asked Republicans, they would say Rep. Waxman was a very partisan member of Congress, while Democrats would say he helped lead legislative compromises to make key bills become laws. Waxman said, “At the end of this year, I would have been in Congress for 40 years. If there is a time for me to move on to another chapter in my life, I think this is the time to do it.”

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Accelerating Appliance Efficiency Standards in California

The California Energy Commission has been quite active in recent years tightening the energy efficiency standards of a whole host of appliances. See e.g., battery chargers. California state regulators just don’t think that the federal Energy Star program is strict enough and want to set a higher bar.

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As Conservatives Win Australian Election, What Impact Will It Have on Carbon Markets

September 10, 2013 1:57 PM | Posted by Greissing, Patrick | Topic(s): Federal Policy/Programs, International Policy/Programs, Energy Policy, GHG / Climate Change

Tony Abbott, the head of the Liberal National Party Coalition, has won the election in Australia to become the country’s new Prime Minister. Abbott has long vowed to scrap the carbon tax that the government implemented in 2012, going as far as declaring the election a “referendum on the carbon tax.” His plans to get rid of the carbon tax may have to wait until the new senators take their seats next July, as current Labor and Green party members plan to try and prevent the process while they can. Abbott hopes to introduce an incentive plan for taxpayers in an effort to make polluters operate in a cleaner fashion.

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DOE Proposes Energy Efficiency Standards for Commercial Refrigerators and Walk-in Coolers and Freezers

September 6, 2013 12:59 PM | Posted by Greissing, Patrick | Topic(s): Federal Policy/Programs, Energy Policy, GHG / Climate Change

The Department of Energy (DOE) has proposed energy efficiency rules for commercial refrigeration equipment and walk-in coolers and freezers. According to an analysis by the DOE, the proposed rule for commercial refrigeration equipment should reduce energy bills by up to $4 billion over 30 years and the rule for walk-in coolers should save an estimated $24 billion over the 30 year period. In total, the two rules should save $28 billion and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 350 million tons. Both rules will be open to public comment for 60 days once the rules are published in the Federal Register. Each rule will also have a public meeting. The meeting for the commercial refrigeration rule is October 3 and the meeting for the walk-in coolers and freezers rule is October 9.

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EPA Updates Oil and Gas Standards for Storage Tanks

August 20, 2013 11:30 AM | Posted by Greissing, Patrick | Topic(s): Energy Policy, Legislative & Public Policy (State, Local, Federal, Int'l), GHG / Climate Change

EPA officially announced updates to its April 2012 oil and natural gas standards for storage tanks. Updates to the regulations call for phased emission control deadlines. Storage tanks that emit 6 or more tons of VOCs per year must reduce emissions by 95%. The updated rule establishes two emissions control deadlines. The first is for tanks that come online after April 12, 2013; operators of these tanks must control VOC emissions within 60 days or by April 15, 2014, whichever is later. Operators of tanks that come online after April 12, 2014 must control VOC emissions by April 15, 2015. If storage tanks emit less than 4 tons per year of VOC emissions without controls, operators may remove existing controls from the tanks.

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House Bill Would Give States Authority When it Comes to Regulating Hydraulic Fracturing

August 20, 2013 11:29 AM | Posted by Greissing, Patrick | Topic(s): Energy Policy, Legislative & Public Policy (State, Local, Federal, Int'l), GHG / Climate Change

Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX) recently introduced HR 2728, the Powering States’ Rights and Preventing Federal Red Tape on American Energy Act. The bill would prevent the Department of Interior (DOI) from applying its proposed hydraulic fracturing rules in states that already have their own hydraulic fracturing rules in place, no matter how strong or weak those rules are, or how different they are from the proposed rule. The bill was approved by the House Natural Resources Committee by a vote of 23-15, and now heads to the full House for consideration.

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The Role of Social Cost of Carbon in Federal Rulemakings Under Scrutiny

The social cost of carbon (SCC) is an estimate of economic damages caused by climate change and includes changes in human health, property damages from flood risks and agricultural productivity among others; however it does not include all categories of damage. EPA and other federal agencies have used the SCC to estimate climate benefits during the rulemaking process since SCC estimates were first published in 2010. Recently the White House increased the estimated SCC value from $22/ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) to $36/ton of CO2.

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Moniz Supports Hydraulic Fracturing:

July 23, 2013 1:35 PM | Posted by Greissing, Patrick | Topic(s): Energy Policy, Clean Tech, GHG / Climate Change

In his first interview since taking the post of Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary, Ernest Moniz spoke on a variety of topics including hydraulic fracturing. Moniz said he thinks the states should play the critical role in the regulation of hydraulic fracturing rather than the federal government. He said, “I think in the end there has to be a very, very strong state role there. The situations are different in different states, the geologies are different.”

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Obama Touts Shale Gas Drilling As He Vows to Cut Methane Emissions

July 23, 2013 1:33 PM | Posted by Greissing, Patrick | Topic(s): Energy Policy, Clean Tech, Legislative & Public Policy (State, Local, Federal, Int'l), GHG / Climate Change

As President Obama promoted his Climate Action Plan, he praised gas drilling. He said that advances in drilling have “helped drive our carbon pollution to its lowest levels in nearly 20 years. We’ll keep working with industry to make drilling safer and cleaner, to make sure that we’re not seeing methane emissions.” He went on to say that the hydraulic fracturing industry is creating jobs and helping families lower their heat and power bills.

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