Energy Exchange

Climate planning is key for New York’s gas infrastructure

Next month, the New York Public Service Commission will be deciding whether a rate case settlement proposal between National Grid’s upstate gas and electric utility (Niagara Mohawk) and other groups is in the public interest, and whether the proposal is consistent with New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. This is the first major utility rate case to be conducted fully under the CLCPA as effective law, and makes clear the need for commission action to implement standards to achieve state climate goals.

But there is a cloud hanging over this proposal: the utility rate case paradigm guiding this proceeding is outdated and inconsistent with New York’s climate goals.

There is no question that to achieve the CLCPA targets — to reduce New York greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030 and 85% by 2050, below 1990 levels — natural gas use and combustion must decrease significantly. But the commission has not set clear standards to require that gas utilities plan for this transformational future, or to ensure utility rate applications and outcomes are consistent with the law. Decisive action is needed to address this disconnect.

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Posted in Natural Gas, New York / Language: / Comments are closed

Not-so-marginal wells and the need for strong EPA regulations

There’s a common misconception that “marginal” or low-producing wells are nothing more than a marginal problem when it comes to the oil and gas industry’s methane emissions.

The reality is that these wells make up about 80% of all active wells in the U.S, over 560,000 in total. These are not the mom-and-pop operations some portray — rather, the vast majority of marginal wells are owned by large, well-capitalized companies with significant resources to curb wasteful emissions.

As the Environmental Protection Agency readies landmark rules to limit methane pollution from the nation’s existing oil and gas wells, ensuring those standards apply to marginal sites is critical for protecting our climate and the local communities breathing harmful pollution from these wells.

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Posted in Air Quality, Methane, Methane regulatons, New Mexico / Language: / Comments are closed

New mapping tool could help communities, policymakers prioritize clean transportation solutions

My children’s daycare, which is on a commercial strip between supermarkets and restaurants, often has three refrigerated trucks idling outside the front door. These diesel trucks can emit harmful pollution, even when they aren’t moving. The impact of transportation pollution on vulnerable populations is often striking. In downtown Oakland, where more than 70% of the population are people of color, one in two new cases of childhood asthma are attributed to transportation pollution.

Companies are being questioned about the impacts that truck-attracting facilities like warehouses are having on local communities. The pressure will only increase as e-commerce and distribution facilities expand right by population centers.

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Posted in Air Quality, California, Electric Vehicles / Language: / Comments are closed

FERC, not the Supreme Court, is the right place to fix the Spire pipeline mess

After the D.C. Circuit court vacated Spire STL’s unlawful certificate to operate a 66-mile natural gas pipeline running between Illinois and Missouri in June, Spire last week asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the vacatur decision and hand the company back its permission slip.

Not only should the Supreme Court not grant the stay, it shouldn’t even take up the case.

The Spire mess started at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the federal agency designated and empowered by Congress to handle pipeline approvals. And that’s where it should stay.

FERC needs to proceed based on the law as properly administered by the commission and to address the complex facts that warrant the fact-finding review of an expert agency. While FERC’s initial orders authorizing the pipeline were deficient, it has the capability and tools to conduct a fulsome analysis and now has an opportunity to course correct.

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Posted in Natural Gas / Language: / Comments are closed

New California law will make it easier to finance electric trucks, buses

By Michael Colvin and Lauren Navarro

Gov. Newsom signed a new law today that will help accelerate the much-needed transition to electric trucks and buses. In addition to transforming the California market and cleaning up the state’s air, this law can serve as a national model for other states interested in accelerating the adoption of clean trucks and buses.

The new law, Senate Bill 372, directs the California Air Resources Board and the state treasurer’s office to offer a suite of financial incentives to help owners of medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses pay for the costs of replacing their diesel-fueled fleets with cleaner, zero-emission alternatives. Examples include a loan loss reserve, credit enhancements, performance warranties and sale guarantees.

What is particularly innovative about this new law is that it uses the public dollar to attract private capital in ways that traditional rebates do not. Research indicates that this leverage will be critical to getting clean trucks and buses on the road at scale.

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Posted in Air Quality, California, Electric Vehicles / Language: / Comments are closed

Overwhelming public support paves way for stronger oil and gas pollution rules in New Mexico

Over the past two weeks the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board heard from a variety of New Mexicans as they considered newly proposed rules to limit oil and gas air pollution in New Mexico. What was striking over the 10 long days of testimony is just how broad and deep the support for a suite of improved rules is across the state.

While the board must still deliberate and finalize the rules (expected to happen early this coming spring) it is evident after the hearing that there is a clear, well-supported path to finalizing rules that protect the air and health of New Mexicans and that meet Gov. Lujan Grisham’s goal of setting nationally leading requirements to reduce harmful pollution from the oil and gas industry.

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Posted in Air Quality, Methane, Methane regulatons, Natural Gas, New Mexico / Language: / Comments are closed