Thursday, April 24, 2014
Climate Change Update

EPA Floats GHG Plan For Modified Plants In Likely Bid To Ease CCS Mandate

EPA is floating a proposed rule for how modified power plants must comply with its pending new source performance standard (NSPS) for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a measure that appears aimed at shielding facilities that install more efficient technologies to lower emissions from having to install costly carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) systems as the agency's strict plan for new coal plants requires.

Coal Update

Industry Pushes Novel Coal Ash Approach In Bid To Ease Enforcement Fear

A power industry group is renewing calls for EPA to regulate coal ash as a non-hazardous waste under a different section of the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) than what the agency has proposed, an approach the group says would help address concerns recently expressed by top agency officials that they would lack enforcement authority if they were to regulate the material under the agency's preferred approach.

Vehicles/Fuels Update

Auto, Oil Groups Claim EPA E15 Misfueling Liability Plan Violates Air Law

Automakers and oil industry groups are claiming that EPA's rule to prevent misfueling of vehicles with ethanol blends up to 15 percent (E15) violates the Clean Air Act because it creates an "expansive" scope of liability for the sectors for damage from misfueling, which they argue is far beyond the air law's limited liability.

Renewables Update

Draft DOE Loan Program Signals New Focus On Energy Efficiency Projects

A draft Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantee solicitation for low-carbon energy projects appears to signal a new Obama administration focus on promoting energy efficiency and smaller-scale renewable energy developments compared to DOE's previous focus on loan funding for large-scale wind and solar projects, sources say.

Natural Gas Update

EPA Eyes Drilling Methane Controls But Sees Limits For Oil Well Regulation

EPA is floating draft white papers that suggest first-time controls on methane emissions from several aspects of the oil and gas sector -- including liquids unloading and compressors -- could be workable, but it is reiterating major hurdles to requiring controls on oil wells and those that "co-produce" both oil and natural gas.

Congress Watch

GAO Report On Limited NEPA Analysis Data Renews Debate Over Reform Bid

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report finding limited data available from federal agencies on their National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analyses is renewing debate over whether to reform the law, with critics saying the report underscores claims that the analyses are unclear and are delaying key energy projects.

California Cites Air Act Power In High Court Bid To Uphold Landmark LCFS

California is urging the Supreme Court to reject ethanol and oil companies' requests for the justices to overturn an appellate ruling upholding the state's landmark low carbon fuel standard (LCFS), saying the program is legal because it is protected by California's unique Clean Air Act power to set fuel standards stricter than federal rules.

EPA Sees Gaps In State Drilling Waste Programs But Floats Voluntary Fixes

EPA has found that many states lack adequate regulatory programs for managing solid waste from oil and natural gas exploration and production (E&P) activities and is proposing voluntary measures to address it, but environmentalists say the findings show the agency should subject the disposal to strict hazardous waste rules or at least mandate stricter solid waste requirements.
Related Story: Environmentalists See RCRA Authority As Path To Fracking Enforcement

Constitutional Challenge To Key Wind Project Seen Facing High Legal Bar

Opponents of the Massachusetts Cape Wind major renewable power project might face a high legal bar proving their new case claiming that state utility regulators violated the Constitution and the Federal Power Act (FPA), following a formal Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rejection of some similar claims, observers say.

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Clean Energy Wire

Nebraska Fights EPA Bid To Dismiss Climate NSPS Suit

Nebraska is urging a federal district court to reject EPA's request to dismiss as premature the state's lawsuit over the agency's proposed climate new source performance standards (NSPS) for new . . .

EPA Reduces 2013 Cellulosic RFS

EPA is granting refiners' request to significantly reduce their cellulosic biofuel production target under the agency's 2013 renewable fuel standard (RFS) from 6 million gallons to less than 1 million . . .

High Court Rejects MTBE Petition

The Supreme Court will let stand a landmark appellate ruling that held Exxon Mobil liable for contaminating groundwater with the fuel oxygenate methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), rejecting industry's arguments . . .

FERC Sees Surge In Wind, Solar Energy Generation

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is accelerating its work to implement new regulations to ease integration of renewable power sources into the grid, as a new report from the . . .