If reducing climate pollution from power plants were a football game, the U.S. team would be halfway to the goal line while fans were still singing the national anthem.
That is, we have already gotten about halfway to the expected goals of the Clean Power Plan – before the rule is even final.
The Clean Power Plan is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) historic effort to place the first-ever limits on climate pollution from our country’s existing fleet of fossil fuel-fired power plants. When it’s finalized this summer, it’s expected to call for a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions compared to 2005 levels — but U.S. power plant emissions have already fallen 15 percent compared to 2005 levels.
That’s because renewable energy, energy efficiency resources, and natural gas generation have been steadily deployed and growing for years. Even conservative estimates forecast continued growth of these resources — which makes last week’s report from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) seem really strange.
NERC’s report about the Clean Power Plan’s impacts on electric grid reliability makes predictions that starkly contrast from the progress we’re already seeing.
How did this departure from reality happen? Read More
Methane emissions from the US oil and gas sector increased, according to new data finalized today by the Environmental Protection Agency. Sadly, the figures come as no surprise, based on preliminary numbers and plenty of other observations, both scientific and anecdotal. No surprise unless you’re part of the industry’s public relations machine, which keeps insisting that up means down.
What is legitimately surprising is that this problem continues in spite of the many simple, proven and cost effective ways there are to fix it. And therein lies opportunity. Read More
By: Nicholas Bianco, Director of Regulatory Analysis and Strategic Partnerships
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is hard at work right now on the Clean Power Plan – the first ever national carbon pollution standards for power plants.
Among the many important aspects of this historic plan, we believe this: It is critical that EPA finalize carbon pollution standards for the power sector that include protective, well-designed standards beginning in 2020.
Power plants account for almost 40 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, making them the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the nation and one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases in the world.
The Clean Power Plan will be finalized this summer. When fully implemented, it is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector to 30 percent below 2005 levels. That makes these eminently achievable and cost-effective standards integral to climate security, human health, and prosperity. Read More
Long familiar in major urban areas, smog – what we experts call “ground-level ozone” pollution – is quickly becoming a serious problem in the rural mountain west, thanks to rapid expansion in oil and gas development. Smog can cause serious health impacts like aggravated asthma, chronic bronchitis, heart attacks, and even premature death. In areas like the Upper Green River Basin in Wyoming, smog levels have sometimes rivaled those in Los Angeles.
Now, the Environmental Protection Agency and several western states are putting the pieces in place to fix this problem: EPA through proposed revisions to the health-based ozone standard that will better protect people from pollution, and states like Wyoming and Colorado through strong policies that are helping to reduce the sources of ozone pollution in the oil and gas industry.
In official public comments filed this week with EPA, EDF and a broad coalition of western environmental and conservation groups supported a more protective ozone standard and pointed out the importance of this issue to the intermountain west–where most of the country’s oil and gas production from federal lands occurs.
Scientists David Lyon and Ramón Alvarez contributed to this post
Two studies released today in the journal of Environmental Science and Technology provide new insights into methane emissions from significant sources in the oil and natural gas sector and underscore the urgency of taking action to address pollution from these sources. The studies—focusing on the gathering and processing segment and the transmission and storage segment—were led by researchers at Colorado State and Carnegie Mellon universities and Aerodyne Research, and included collaboration with EDF and companies in each of these segments.
In the gathering and processing study, researchers measured 130 gathering and processing facilities, finding emissions at gathering facilities ranging from 0.6 to 600 standard cubic feet of methane leaking per minute (scf/m). For the transmission and storage study, a different team led by CSU also collected extensive on-site and downwind measurements of methane at 45 transmission and storage sites. Site-level methane measurements ranged from 2 to 880 scf/m, with an average measurement of 70 scf/m. Of all the facilities measured for these studies, data suggests the natural gas emitted was worth about $25 million and had the 20-year climate impact equal to the emissions of 2 million passenger vehicles. Read More
Well, it didn’t take long before the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) released, at the request of Texas’ very political Public Utilities Commission, another report about the impacts of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) rules designed to protect public health.
This time ERCOT, which manages 90 percent of Texas’ electric grid, looked at the impact of seven EPA clean air safeguards on the electric grid, including the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), the Mercury Air Toxics Standard (MATS), the Regional Haze program (all of which go back before the Obama administration), the proposed Clean Power Plan, which would set the first-ever national limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants, and others. What was surprising to learn, though, is that after power companies in the state start complying with EPA’s other clean air protections, the proposed Clean Power Plan poses a minimal incremental impact to the power grid. We would only have to cut 200 megawatts of coal-fired generation, which equates to less than one coal-fired power plant. Read More