By Joe Rudek and David Lyon
A new peer-reviewed paper in Environmental Science and Technology suggests that methane emissions from natural gas power plants and oil refineries may be significantly higher than accounted for in current inventories. The report estimates average hourly methane emissions 11 to 90 times higher for refineries, and 21 to 120 times higher for natural gas power plants than those calculated from data provided by facility operators to Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.
By multiplying total CO2 emitted annually by all US natural gas power plants and refineries (as tallied by EPA) by the methane-to-CO2 emission ratio determined in the study, the authors estimate yearly methane emissions from the nation’s refineries and gas-fired power plants are twenty times higher than currently reported. Read More
By Carol Andress, Director of Legislative Operations, Climate & Air
With legislation flying fast and furious through the Capitol – much of it using new or unusual legal mechanisms – lawmakers today must be doubly mindful of unintended consequences. Case in point: Actions rushed through the House and Senate under an obscure law called the Congressional Review Act (CRA), the details of which can cause deeper, more lasting impact than the simple name implies.
The CRA dates to the 1990s. It says that any rule finalized by a federal agency can be subject to an expedited congressional repeal for 60 legislative days after the agency sends up a copy of the final rule and a report detailing the reasons for its promulgation. Within that window, either chamber can introduce a joint resolution of disapproval – which, if passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president, effectively voids the rule.
The law sounds simple enough. But it leaves a lot of room for error or mischief. Read More
By Tom Murray, vice president, Corporate Partnerships Program
More than 530 companies and 100 investors signed the Low Carbon USA letter to President-elect Trump and other U.S. and global leaders to support policies to curb climate change, invest in the low carbon economy, and continue U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement. It’s a powerful message from business leaders connecting the dots between prosperity and a low-carbon economy and confirming their commitment to continue to lead the way.
The private sector call for continued leadership on climate cannot be ignored.
“All parts of society have a role to play in tackling climate change, but policy and business leadership is crucial,” said Lars Petersson, president of IKEA U.S. “The Paris Agreement was a bold step towards a cleaner, brighter future, and must be protected. IKEA will continue to work together with other businesses and policymakers to build a low-carbon economy, because we know that together, we can build a better future.” Read More
By Jonathan Camuzeaux, manager, Economics & Policy Analysis
Risky Business Report Finds Transitioning to a Clean Energy Economy is both Technologically and Economically Feasible
In the first Risky Business report, a bi-partisan group of experts focused on the economic impacts of climate change at the country, state and regional levels and made the case that in spite of all that we do understand about the science and dangers of climate change, the uncertainty of what we don’t know could present an even more devastating future for the planet and our economy.
The latest report from the Risky Business Project, co-chaired by Michael R. Bloomberg, Henry M. Paulson, Jr., and Thomas F. Steyer, examines how best to tackle the risks posed by climate change and transition to a clean energy economy by 2050, without relying on unprecedented spending or unimagined technology. The report focuses on one pathway that will allow us to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050 through the following three shifts:
1. Electrify the economy, replacing the dependence on fossil fuels in the heating and cooling of buildings, vehicles and other sectors. Under the report’s scenario, this would require the share of electricity as a portion of total energy use to more than double, from 23 to 51 percent.
2. Use a mix of low- to zero-carbon fuels to generate electricity. Declining costs for renewable technologies contribute in making this both technologically and economically feasible.
3. Become more energy efficient by lowering the intensity of energy used per unit of GDP by about two thirds. Read More
The Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island. Photo courtesy of Deepwater Wind.
By Pam Kiely, senior director, Regulatory Strategy, and co-authored by Charlie Jiang, EDF associate
2016 was a big year for progress in the U.S. power sector. Renewable energy sources provided 16.9 percent of the country’s electricity in the first half of 2016, up from 13.7 percent for all of 2015. The country’s first offshore wind farm opened off the coast of Rhode Island. Most importantly, carbon emissions from the power sector are projected to continue to decline and hit levels not seen since 1992.
Strong leadership by forward-thinking governors, policymakers, and power company executives who recognize the imperative of lower-carbon generation and the promise of clean energy, powerful market forces intensifying the push to lower-carbon resources, and the critical federal regulatory overlay of the Clean Power Plan — which has made clear that unlimited carbon pollution is a thing of the past — have all combined to deepen a trend towards cleaner electricity production at this dynamic moment in time.
Even with any possible political maneuverings in Washington, D.C. to reverse clean energy and climate progress, it is clear that the transition to a low-carbon future is well under way. Read More