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Legislative & Public Policy (State, Local, Federal, Int'l)

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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Governor Brown Releases Draft Safeguarding California Plan

December 13, 2013 11:13 AM | Posted by Greissing, Patrick | Topic(s): Legislative & Public Policy (State, Local, Federal, Int'l), GHG / Climate Change

California Governor Brown has released a draft Safeguarding California Plan which outlines actions the state needs to take to be ready for the impacts of climate change. The draft plan examines nine different areas that are impacted by climate change: agriculture; biodiversity and habitat; emergency management; energy; forestry; ocean and coastal ecosystems and resources; public health; transportation; and water. In developing the plan, seven strategies were identified to be put into action that cross into the nine areas identified above. The seven strategies are:

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White House Loses Another Environmental Adviser

December 5, 2013 10:56 AM | Posted by Greissing, Patrick | Topic(s): Federal Policy/Programs, Legislative & Public Policy (State, Local, Federal, Int'l), GHG / Climate Change

Nancy Sutley, the chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, will step down from her role in February. Sutley was a key contributor to the Obama Administration’s climate action plan released earlier this year. She also played a role in creating new fuel efficiency standards and new standards for carbon emissions from power plants. Sutley’s departure follows that of Heather Zichal, Obama’s top climate policy adviser, who recently left her position.

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States and Canadian Province Agree to Climate Pact

October 29, 2013 12:31 PM | Posted by Greissing, Patrick | Topic(s): State Policy/Programs, Legislative & Public Policy (State, Local, Federal, Int'l), GHG / Climate Change

The governors of California, Oregon and Washington have signed a climate pact with British Columbia in an effort to combat climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement calls for the four governments to work together in an effort to put a price on carbon dioxide pollution, requiring the use of lower-carbon gasoline, and setting more goals to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions across their region. The agreement will allow the governments to develop the same greenhouse gas emissions targets for 2050, and develop near-term targets that will help them reach the long-term goals. Part of the agreement calls for 10% of all new cars and trucks on the market to be electric vehicles by 2016. The governments hope that this blueprint, though it is nonbinding, will be a signal to Congress to move forward with climate legislation.

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CRS Releases Report on Carbon Capture and Storage

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a report entitled “Carbon Capture: A Technology Assessment.” The 100 page report was completed by Pete Folger, a Specialist in Energy and Natural Resources Policy for CRS. The report focuses on the first component of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), the capture portion of the technology. The report “assesses prospects for improved, lower-cost technologies for each of the three current approaches to CO₂ capture: post-combustion capture; pre-combustion capture; and oxy-combustion capture.” The report indicates all three technologies have success with a capture rate above 90 percent, but the drawback remains the expensive price tag. The issue also remains that the technologies have yet to be demonstrated on a full-scale coal-fired or gas-fired power plant. Current R&D efforts are being focused on how to reduce the cost of the technology. Government and private-sector roadmaps predict that capture technologies will be ready for widespread commercial availability by 2020.

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CARB Releases Draft of Updated AB32 Scoping Plan

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) released the public discussion draft for the update to the AB 32 Scoping Plan. The Scoping Plan focuses on the comprehensive efforts that the state must take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The draft update examines three questions:

  • What progress has been made over the last five years?
  • What is needed to continue on the course to meet the goals by 2020? And
  • What steps are required to meet the state’s climate goals for after 2020?

In terms of the progress the state has made to date, the discussion draft finds that California is on track to meet the emissions targets of AB 32 by 2020. The draft also details steps California must take to continue greenhouse gas reductions in six key areas: fuels and infrastructure; water; land use; transportation; waste; natural and working lands; and agriculture. CARB will hold a public workshop on October 15 in Sacramento and a board meeting at the end of the month. After the board meeting, the draft will be revised and presented back to the Board at the December meeting with a target date for approval of the update being the Spring of 2014. The discussion draft is open for public comment until November 1 at 5:00 pm.

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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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House Committee Schedules Climate Hearing

The House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Energy and Power Subcommittee will hold a hearing on Wednesday, September 18 at 10:00am. The hearing will examine the Obama administration’s climate change policies and activities. Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), chairman of the subcommittee, sent a letter to members of the EPA, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, the State Department and other agencies asking officials to testify at the hearing. Issues that will likely be covered include: EPA’s greenhouse gas limits for newly constructed power plants, the Keystone XL pipeline, renewable energy and energy efficiency standards and the administration’s revised calculation of the “social cost of carbon.” As of last week, only the Department of Defense responded to Rep. Whitfield’s request identifying a witness for the hearing.

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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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