The Environmental Protection Agency will propose a regulation Monday that would cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants by up to 30 percent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels, according to individuals who have been briefed on the plan.
Under the draft rule, the EPA would analyze four options that states and utilities would have to meet the new standard, with different approaches to energy efficiency, shifting from coal to natural gas, investing in renewable energy and making power plant upgrades, according to those who spoke on the condition of anonymity because it has not been formally announced. Other compliance methods could include offering discounts to encourage consumers to shift electricity use to off-peak hours.
The rule represents one of the most significant steps the federal government has ever taken to curb the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, which are linked to climate change, and the draft is sure to spark a major political and legal battle. Conscious of that, President Obama called a group of Senate and House Democrats on Sunday afternoon to thank them for their support in advance of the proposed rule, according to a White House official who asked for anonymity to discuss private conversations with lawmakers
The Obama administration on Thursday proposed dramatically changing the way it reviews applications to expand natural gas exports, with a plan that gives priority to more commercially advanced projects.
The move responds to complaints from energy companies and their congressional allies that the process the government has used for two years is akin to a "deli counter" approach that rewards export projects for getting in line quickly at the expense of facilities more likely to break ground.
Many of the proposed liquefied natural gas export facilities that might have benefited by the new approach already have received conditional export approvals from the Energy Department.
But the proposal could give a boost to other planned facilities that have cleared a separate Federal Energy Regulatory Commission review or are in the midst of it.
California leads the nation in electric vehicle sales, and now is joining forces with Oregon and several Northeastern states to put 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025.
Gov. Jerry Brown and his counterparts in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont signed a set of agreements Thursday that includes adding zero-emission vehicles to public fleets and harmonizing building codes to make it easier to install electric-vehicle charging stations.
"This is not just an agreement but a serious and profoundly important commitment," Brown, long a champion of electric vehicles, said in a statement. "From coast to coast, we're charging ahead to get millions of the world's cleanest vehicles on our roads."
Safety regulators have quietly placed two extra conditions on construction of TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL oil pipeline after learning of potentially dangerous construction defects involving the southern leg of the Canada-to-Texas project.
The defects — high rates of bad welds, dented pipe and damaged pipeline coating — have been fixed. But the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration wants to make sure similar problems don’t occur during construction of the pipeline’s controversial northern segment, which is on hold pending a decision by the Obama administration.
One condition requires TransCanada to hire a third-party contractor chosen by the pipeline safety agency to monitor the construction and make reports to the safety administration on whether the work is sound.
The Canadian oil arm of the conglomerate owned by the U.S. billionaire Koch brothers has begun initial regulatory work on a multibillion-dollar oil sands project after an asset-sales effort two years ago left it holding a number of leases.
Koch Oil Sands Operating LLC, the Calgary-based unit of Koch Industries Inc., has made an initial filing with Alberta regulators and has been in consultation with the nearby Fort McKay First Nation regarding the proposed development.
"We intend to develop a bitumen recovery project identified as the Dunkirk In Situ Project and have submitted the proposed Terms of Reference for an Environmental Impact Assessment to Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development," Paul Baltzer, spokesman for the Wichita, Kan.-based company, said in an e-mail.
Billionaire Tom Steyer's environmental group, NextGen, revealed the seven major races it is targeting this fall, drawing on the $100 million that Mr. Steyer has pledged to raise to tip midterm elections toward environmental-friendly candidates.
The races include the gubernatorial election in Florida and Senate contest in Colorado.
In a meeting with reporters Wednesday, NextGen political strategists said the organization will campaign on "household-level" climate-change issues to persuade voters to support Democrats.
Federal energy authorities have slashed by 96% the estimated amount of recoverable oil buried in California's vast Monterey Shale deposits, deflating its potential as a national "black gold mine" of petroleum.
Just 600 million barrels of oil can be extracted with existing technology, far below the 13.7 billion barrels once thought recoverable from the jumbled layers of subterranean rock spread across much of Central California, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.
The new estimate, expected to be released publicly next month, is a blow to the nation's oil future and to projections that an oil boom would bring as many as 2.8 million new jobs to California and boost tax revenue by $24.6 billion annually.
The Deadline Club announced Monday that InsideClimate News reporters Katherine Bagley and Maria Gallucci won in the category of independent digital media for "Bloomberg's Hidden Legacy: Climate Change and the Future of New York City."
"Bloomberg's Hidden Legacy" chronicles the historic effort by Mayor Bloomberg, his staff and other city leaders to make New York City the world leader in the fight to tackle climate change and reduce emissions.
The 10-chapter book is based on extensive, exclusive interviews with the key players on Bloomberg's team, including Bloomberg himself. It contains key moments that help readers understand the human side of the massive urban rethink, with real people making tough decisions, facing sleepless nights, contending with resistance and disappointment, and still pushing ahead into uncharted territory.
The Deadline Club said at the awards ceremony, "In Bloomberg's Hidden Legacy, the climate change issue is highlighted through New York City Mayor Bloomberg's environmental policy, which was shoved into the spotlight after Superstorm Sandy. Through a command of facts, context and fine storytelling, the writers show the next mayor's challenge in maintaining the city's sustainability and protecting its residents from the next disaster."
The Deadline Club is the largest chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Its annual contest is one of the longest-running and most prestigious journalism awards in New York City. This year there were a record 547 entries.
The two finalists for the Independent Digital Media category were Sasha Chavkin of The New York World for "How New York City Failed the Vulnerable During Sandy," and The Crime Report's Lisa Riordan Seville and Graham Kates for "A Home of Their Own: An Investigation of New York's 'Sober Home' System."
On January 25, 2009, a police officer in Gloucester, Mass., came home after a shift, greeted his dog, Penny, and flipped on the lights. Then his house blew up.
The blast killed Penny, left patrolman Wayne Sargent badly burned and destroyed the house his grandfather built.
Investigators quickly identified the cause: natural gas from a cracked cast-iron distribution line with a recent history of leaks. It was installed in the street in 1922.
The U.S. Transportation Department three years ago issued a "Call to Action" urging gas companies to replace thousands of miles of decrepit iron pipe. But it could take some utilities until 2050 to get up to snuff.
Why? After decades of neglect, replacing the huge backlog of old gas pipe is nearly impossible, says Mark McDonald, a pipeline-safety consultant and president of the New England Gas Workers Association. Digging up the aging lines and putting in new ones is so expensive and time consuming, there is not enough manpower—or materials—to get it done in short order.
Climate change is putting historic and cultural landmarks around the USA at risk, according to a report released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a non-profit science advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.
"Sea-level rise, coastal erosion, increased flooding, heavy rains and more frequent large wildfires are damaging archaeological resources, historic buildings and cultural landscapes across the nation," says the report, "National Landmarks at Risk."
The report, which was not a peer-reviewed study, includes 30 at-risk locations, including places where the "first Americans" lived, the Spaniards ruled, English colonists landed, slavery rose and fell, and gold prospectors struck it rich.
The full report: