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« Oil lingers in Alaska… | Home | Arctic sea ice fights… »

Carbon emissions pose danger, EPA finds

20 04 09 - 15:20 Carbon emissions pose danger, EPA finds


By Mark Clayton


In deciding that carbon dioxide poses a danger to human health and the environment, the Environmental Protection Agency has laid the groundwork for new and expansive federal oversight of carmakers, utilities, and a host of other large emitters of the greenhouse gas.

The EPA's finding, announced Friday, is likely to act as a big nudge to Congress to take quicker action on new energy and climate legislation that sets carbon-emissions limits. Many lawmakers and companies would prefer to see limits set by Congress rather than regulations set by the EPA. Indeed, the Obama administration has made clear that it, too, prefers a legislative approach. The finding also bolsters the Obama administration's standing heading into international talks in December on addressing climate change, in that it is the most assertive stance yet taken by the United States. Moreover, it may also pave the way for the Securities and Exchange Commission, which keeps watch over Wall Street, to require companies to disclose carbon-emissions costs and liabilities that could affect their businesses.

In adding carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases to the list of compounds that can be regulated under the Clean Air Act, the EPA creates a legal basis for limiting CO2 emitted from tailpipes - an authority the US Supreme Court has said the agency could claim but that the Bush administration declined. Automobiles are a major source of C02, and the EPA action Friday signals that the Obama administration intends to take a more aggressive approach to addressing global warming.

"This is a victory for the Clean Air Act," said Martin Hayden of Earthjustice, an environmental group, in a statement after the EPA issued its finding. "The Obama administration has removed a road block in curbing pollution responsible for climate change and signaled a turn toward a clean energy future. We applaud this action and welcome the president's leadership to overcome the greatest environmental challenge of our time."

Too much expense to bear?

Others, however, say the prospect that scores of industries and thousands of companies may soon be required to comply with a new environmental regulation is an outrage, especially given the flattened state of the US economy. In a recent letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, conservative taxpayer and political groups, led by the Competitive Enterprise Institute think tank, declared that the agency's action "will set the stage for an economic train wreck." The EPA finding represents a "potent antistimulus package," CEI senior fellow Marlo Lewis said in a statement.

The worry is that the finding will cover not only vehicle tailpipe emissions of CO2, but also all stationary sources spewing more than 250 tons per year, the CEI argues. Former EPA chief Stephen Johnson, an appointee of President Bush, raised that possibility in a letter last summer.

Environmentalists dismiss as "scare tactics" the claims that myriad businesses will be shuttered and the minutia of daily life will be regulated as a result of the EPA action.

"There are a number of scare stories out there..., the premise of which is that if EPA does anything under any part of the Clean Air Act, it will necessarily have to do everything everywhere to any imaginable source of carbon dioxide," said David Doniger, policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a telephone briefing with reporters April 14. "That's just not true."

Scare claims, he says, "did not convince the Supreme Court and should not convince anyone [that CO2 regulation] is going to go beyond the big central sources." The EPA "is able to focus on the big stuff – the big sources of global warming pollution," the biggest of which are motor vehicles and power plants. Other stationary sources, such as cement plans and oil refineries, would also probably be required to reduce emissions, says Mr. Doniger.

Before the finding becomes final, the public will have the opportunity to comment on it. The EPA says it based its work "on rigorous, peer-reviewed scientific analysis" of six gases – carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride.

"This finding confirms that greenhouse-gas pollution is a serious problem now and for future generations," the EPA’s Ms. Jackson said Friday in a statement. "Fortunately, it follows President Obama’s call for a low carbon economy and strong leadership in Congress on clean energy and climate legislation. This pollution problem has a solution."

A prod to congressional action

One immediate beneficiary of the EPA move may be a piece of legislation in the House of Representatives. The Waxman-Markey bill, named after cosponsoring Reps. Henry Waxman (D) of California and Edward Markey (D) of Massachusetts, would reorient the nation's sources of power generation to renewables and set up a carbon trading system that includes a cap on CO2 emissions from power plants and other key sources.

Many business interests and lawmakers are resisting the legislation - yet they could ultimately come to see it as a lesser evil than EPA regulation. The bill contains two sentences that "succinctly defuse regulatory triggers" under the Clean Air Act, "positioning Waxman-Markey as a way to limit the EPA threat," writes Kevin Book, an analyst for ClearView Energy Partners, an investment analysis company focused on energy.

Representative Markey, at a conference Monday on climate and energy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, described a carrot-and-stick approach to passing the energy-climate bill.

The possibility of EPA regulation of carbon-dioxide emissions "has become a very real factor in our deliberations," he said. "If Congress doesn't act, then clearly there is a residual decision by the US Supreme Court for the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases. The only way to avoid that is to have Congress act.... It becomes a real factor."

EPA at work on another rule

Even without Friday's finding, thousands of US companies were preparing to report their CO2 emissions in anticipation of another new EPA rule. That proposal would require about 13,000 facilities nationwide to report annual greenhouse-gas emissions beginning in 2011. Companies that emit 25,000 or more metric tons of CO2 equivalents a year are responsible for as much as 90 percent of the nation's greenhouse-gas emissions, the EPA estimates.

Although that reporting requirement would not impose any limits on emissions, it would be a first step toward establishing a national emissions-reduction plan, regulatory experts say.

Friday's finding may also accelerate disclosure requirements on Wall Street. For years, environmental groups, state officials, and state pension fund managers have called for public companies to be required to report climate-change risks that could affect firms' operations, including the cost impact of complying with greenhouse-gas regulations.

Though the Securities and Exchange Commission has not acted, it is likely to feel greater pressure to require more corporate disclosure about climate-change risks as a result of the EPA's endangerment finding and its mandatory-reporting proposal, David Lynn and coauthors at Morrison & Foerster wrote in a newsletter on the topic. Used tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Raging wildfires: Climate changes to blame for record season?

Saturday 16 July 2011 at 06:07 am Raging wildfires: Climate changes to blame for record season?


By Pete Spotts


The images are stark: soot-grimed firefighters steering bulldozers or wielding shovels to clear underbrush; curtains of orange flame tracing the contours of summits; aircraft dumping chemicals to slow a fire's progress.

Between Jan. 1 and early July of 2011, slightly more than 38,000 wildfires charred the landscape in the United States at a record pace. So far this year, wildfires have consumed just under 4.9 million acres of forest and grassland, a cumulative expanse the size of New Jersey.

That's 1 million more acres than fires consumed during the same period in 2006, which saw a record 9.9 million acres burned for the entire year.

Beyond the numbers, this year's fires may provide the first large-scale tests of the effectiveness of projects undertaken over the past decade to help forests survive wildfires, several specialists say.

The West's forests are adapted to deal with certain types of wildfires, researchers note. But since the mid-1980s, they add, some of these forests have experienced an increasing number of fires to which they are not well adapted.

Many researchers trace this shift in part to climate change. more

Hybrid Moves Into Housing

Sunday 22 May 2011 at 01:14 am Hybrid Moves Into Housing


By Brenda Krueger Huffman

(Chicago) – Recycling - Check. Conserving energy - Check. Hybrid car - Next car, check. Hybrid home system - What? Yes, it’s here. Hybrid has seamlessly, successfully moved into housing.

Safety Power, Inc. was initially started to provide homes with back up power. The company quickly grew to include renewable energy options and advising commercial and industrial clients with electrical conservation. Recently the company has come full circle and began marketing a new more capable type of renewable energy system for homes.

The award winning firm was voted one of the “Top 5 Sustainable Product Companies in Illinois” and continues to grow its residential client base in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Safety Power also serves larger firms on the national level.

Robert Brazzale, President of Safety Power, a master electrician turned entrepreneur, began Safety Power in 2007. An avid member of Local First Chicago, Rob believes in assisting sustaining local economies with green collar jobs and belongs to many green orientated groups in Chicago and around the country. more

Are electric car makers missing the trick?

Tuesday 29 March 2011 at 11:12 am Are electric car makers missing the trick?


by Martin Ott

I believe that electric car makers may be driving us all down the road that may result in the same sort of technology failures that we have seen in the past.
I'm not referring to the Sinclair scooter here but cast your mind back to the débâcle of Betamax v VHS home recording systems. The eventual winner was the technically inferior VHS but the battle was not resolved until innumerable consumers had paid out for worthless Betamax systems. Back in the 70's a similar conflict occurred over audio systems when America fell in love with the 8 track tape system that moved magnetic tape in a loop over the player head at a high speed resulting in a better sound. The world market finally dictated that the audio cassette was the way to go but not until millions of consumers had been lumbered with home and in-car systems that went down the technological cul de sac. more

Wind Turbine Manufacturer Acknowledges SGS´s Contribution towards Successful Project Completion

Tuesday 29 March 2011 at 10:57 am by Suresh Varma

The Theni Wind Farm project was developed by CLP India Pvt. Ltd., one of the major wind farm project developers in India. Located in the south western part of Tamilnadu, a southern state of the country, the facility consists of 60 Vestas V82 geared wind turbines. As recognition of its contribution towards the successful execution of this wind power project SGS received Vestas award.

Each turbine at the wind farm has a capacity of 1.65 MW IEC Class IIB machine with a blade diameter of 82 m. After a six-month long completion period, the Theni Wind Farm was officially opened in May, 2010.

Acting as contract engineer during project execution, SGS was responsible for ensuring that all activities were carried out at the site by the contractor in line with the final agreement. In doing so, SGS supervised the quality of construction works, the fulfillment of the technical parameters and kept the project within the scheduled time and contracted price. more

E.ON uses PPC's Broadband Powerline technology in smart grid project

Tuesday 29 March 2011 at 10:37 am E.ON uses PPC's Broadband Powerline technology in smart grid project

by Power Plus Communications

Mannheim - Power Plus Communications AG (PPC), the leading provider of Broadband Powerline Communication systems (BPL) for smart grids has taken on a key role within an E.ON smart grid project to facilitate an extension of Cisco's Connected Grid Solution.

E.ON Westfalen Weser AG is currently trialing smart grid technology within its network of 1.3 million inhabitants and PPC's proven medium voltage BPL solution has connected substations in the project using the existing power grid.

Using BPL technology, standard compliant and IP-based data transfer rates of 5-30 Mbit/s can easily be achieved via the medium voltage cable itself. Within E.ON’s smart grid project, PPC's medium voltage technology facilitated the extension of Cisco's Connected Grid Solution. The Cisco smart grid Router and Switches used in the project are highly compatible with BPL networks, providing a real cost advantage over fiber optic networks – which can be much more expensive where cables are not pre-existing.

By combining their technology at Westfalen Weser, PPC and Cisco have ensured the evolution of fast and efficient smart grids which are controlled on an IP basis. This increases the reliability of the power grid, fulfills regulations and drives down costs. At the same time this modern smart grids communications technology makes it possible to effectively integrate renewable energy into the grid. more

MIT Infrastructure "Life Cycle" Study is Progress Both Left & Right Can Embrace - Part 2, Fiscal Responsibility

Saturday 19 February 2011 at 09:02 am By Brenda Krueger Huffman


Chicago – Perhaps moving to the center is where we all need to be politically on the environment and effective spending compatibility. Not all green technology is crazy, and not all business profit or government expenditure is evil.

Even if you do not believe in man caused climate change, we can all agree leaving a cleaner planet and a more fiscally responsible government for the next generation is preferable to not doing so.

Perhaps green technology can be cost effective, and government fiscal responsibility may realistically include affordable green initiatives. Honest “life cycle analysis” and “life cycle cost analysis” study considerations should be a political compromise starting point both the left and the right can embrace. more

Global warming: Impact of receding snow and ice surprises scientists

Thursday 27 January 2011 at 11:05 am Global warming: Impact of receding snow and ice surprises scientists

By Pete Spotts


Washington - A long-term retreat in snow and ice cover in the Northern Hemisphere is weakening the ability of these seasonal cloaks of white to reflect sunlight back into space and cool global climate, according to a study published this week.

Indeed, over the past 30 years, the cooling effect from this so-called cryosphere – essentially areas covered by snow and ice at least part of the year – appears to have weakened at more than twice the pace projected by global climate models, the research team conducting the work estimates.

The study, which appeared online Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience, represents a first cut at trying to calculate from direct measurements the impact of climate change on the Northern Hemisphere's cryosphere. The study was conducted by a team of federal and university scientists who examined data gathered between 1979 and 2008. more

EPA presents plan on greenhouse gases

Wednesday 05 January 2011 at 10:38 pm By Mark Clayton


Washington - Setting the stage for a New Year battle royal between Congress and the White House over greenhouse gas emissions, the US Environmental Protection Agency Thursday laid out a timetable for the nation's largest carbon emitters – power plants and refineries – to begin curbing those pollutants.

Republicans have said all year that they plan to pull out all the stops to keep the EPA from phasing in greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations beginning in 2011, saying they would damage the energy industry, raise prices, and cost jobs.

Rep. Fred Upton (R) of Michigan, the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has said he opposes the regulations on greenhouse gases and indicated he would lead efforts to revoke EPA regulations in the next Congress. The new regulations, he says, will likely lead to the shut down of coal-fired power plants.

"To protect jobs and fortify our energy security, we should be working to bring more power online, not shutting plants down," Mr. Upton said in a statement. "We are woefully unprepared to meet our nation's growing energy demands, yet this administration's 'none of the above' energy policy will do nothing but cost jobs, make energy more expensive, and increase our dependence on foreign sources of energy."

Environmentalists lauded the EPA's move. more

Supreme Court takes global warming case that targets power companies

Monday 13 December 2010 at 03:21 am By Warren Richey,


Washington - The US Supreme Court on Monday agreed to examine a major environmental lawsuit that seeks to force six electric power companies to cap and reduce their carbon-dioxide emissions to fight global warming.

The lawsuit - filed in 2004 by eight states, the City of New York, and three land trusts - targets what it claims are the largest emitters of carbon dioxide in the United States and among the largest in the world.

It seeks a judicial order declaring that the fossil-fueled power plants are a "public nuisance." It also seeks a judicial order capping the plants' greenhouse gas emissions and requiring the plants to adopt a schedule of reduced emissions in future years. more

Outside Cancun climate conference, Caribbean Sea testifies to global warming

Monday 13 December 2010 at 03:09 am By Ezra Fieser,


Bayahibe, Dominican Republic - This summer's extreme heat may seem like a distant memory as winter approaches the United States.

But the summer that broke heat records across the Northern Hemisphere is still being felt below the surface of the Caribbean Sea: 2010 will likely be one of the most deadly years on record for coral reefs.

If diplomats attending the two-week global climate change talks that opened Monday in Cancun, Mexico, want more evidence of the negative and potentially devastating affects of warming temperatures, they need look no further than the blue sea outside their hotels. Researchers say that throughout the Caribbean coral reefs are "bleaching," a condition that occurs when they are under extreme stress due to warmer-than-normal sea temperatures. more