The Bay Citizen

Energy Suppliers & Companies

SOLARPanelThe Clean Power Plan oral argument is coming up soon. On September 27, attorneys will present their arguments in front of the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

EPA and the many supporters of the Clean Power Plan have already filed their written arguments – and so has the coalition of coal companies and their allies that are challenging the rule. (You can read all their submissions here.) And just yesterday, the D.C. Circuit released the final order on the argument’s format and duration.

The Clean Power Plan is America’s first-ever nationwide program to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. It sets eminently achievable carbon emission targets that phase in gradually, in line with current power sector trends, while giving states and power companies tremendous flexibility to determine how best to meet these goals.

As we approach September 27, here are five key facts to keep in mind:

  1. The Clean Power Plan has supporters across the country.

Power companies and state and local officials in forty-one states are supporting the Clean Power Plan in court – either through their state attorney general, a local power company, or a municipality. And there are a lot more supporters as well.

The final submitted briefs reflect a wide array of important perspectives in our society. Supporters of the Clean Power Plan in court include:

  • Leading businesses. Power companies that produce about 10 percent of our nation’s electricity as well as prominent, iconic businesses including Adobe, Amazon, Apple, Google, IKEA, Mars, and Microsoft
  • States and municipalities. 18 states and 60 cities, including major cities in states that are litigating against these protections – like Houston, Grand Rapids, and Miami
  • Consumers Union and other organizations addressing the economic benefits for consumers and low income ratepayers from expansive, low cost clean energy solutions
  • 41 faith communities including the National Council of Churches and the Catholic Climate Covenant
  • Numerous renewable energy companies that are members of the Advanced Energy Economy, American Wind Energy Association, and Solar Energy Industries Association, which together represent more than 3,000 companies in the advanced energy sector, a $ 200 billion industry in the United States
  • 25 business associations including American Sustainable Business Council, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., as well as state associations from West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio, among others
  • Current and former members of Congress, including 36 sitting Senators and 157 sitting members of the House
  • Leading public health associations such as the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics
  • National security experts including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta
  1. The legal and technical foundation of the Clean Power Plan is rock solid.

The Supreme Court has affirmed EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act three times since 2007. In American Electric Power v. Connecticut (2011), the Supreme Court specifically held that section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act – the provision that underlies the Clean Power Plan – “speaks directly” to the regulation of carbon pollution from existing power plants.

EPA exhaustively analyzed the Clean Power Plan to ensure that it was based on the best available technical information and would not compromise the affordability or reliability of our electricity supply. EPA also reviewed millions of comments, received on every aspect of the proposed version.

A range of renowned experts have affirmed the robust legal and technical bases for the Clean Power Plan in amicus brief submissions to the D.C. Circuit, including:

  • The Institute for Policy Integrity — represented by New York University Law Dean Emeritus Richard Revesz
  • Former EPA Administrators William Ruckelshaus and William Reilly, who served under Presidents Nixon, Reagan and George H.W. Bush — represented by Harvard Law School’s Jody Freeman and Richard Lazarus
  • Leon Billings and Tom Jorling — the principal drafters of the 1970 Clean Air Act
  • Former state energy and environmental officials — including Larry Soward, Commissioner at the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality under Texas Governor Rick Perry
  • Premier electric grid experts, who affirmed that EPA’s approach is fully in line with on-going power sector trends
  • Top climate scientists, who articulated the latest research on observed and projected impacts from our changing climate
  1. The tremendous pace of clean energy development further reinforces the Clean Power Plan’s reasonableness.

The cost of renewable energy is falling at an extraordinary rate, spurring dramatic expansion in its use. The costof new wind power has dropped 60 percent — and the cost of new solar by 80 percent — since just 2009.

Renewable energy is anticipated to make up approximately 63 percent of new capacity additions in 2016. In fact, the amount of new renewable energy capacity developed in the first three months of 2016 exceeded new natural gas by a factor of more than seventy to one. Almost 100 gigawatts of additional new renewable energy resources are now projected in the United States by 2020, and annual investment in energy efficiency has quadrupled in the last decade.

America’s powerful clean energy trends further buttress the feasibility of the Clean Power Plan’s targets. But you don’t have to take our word for it — because power companies have said so themselves.

In their Clean Power Plan filing, major power producers emphasized their strong support for the Clean Power Plan, highlighting that it “harnesses existing trends within the electricity sector” and was set “with ample margin and attention to what is practically attainable.”

As the companies noted, both they and the power sector in general have “have successfully reduced emissions within their generation portfolios without compromising reliability and will continue to do so” under the Clean Power Plan.

Dominion Resources, an owner of several large coal-fired power plants in the Mid-Atlantic, affirmed the feasibility of compliance in a lengthy amicus brief submitted in support of the Clean Power Plan.

  1. States and power companies are charging ahead.

On February 9, 2016, the Supreme Court stayed enforcement of the Clean Power Plan in an unprecedented order. Nonetheless, states and power companies are voluntarily moving ahead, in recognition of the tremendous value in following the Clean Power Plan’s flexible, sensible approach to achieving emissions reductions.

More than half of states are continuing to assess planning options under the Clean Power Plan. 14 states across the country have explicitly requested that EPA continue providing information and guidance to help them make informed decisions about potential Clean Power Plan obligations as they continue moving forward. Californiadeveloped its proposed Clean Power Plan state plan in a year and released it for public comment earlier this month. State officials across the country have voiced support for sensible continued planning — as one Wyoming state legislator put it, “Wyoming should be prepared.” (See a full compilation of state statements on the Clean Power Plan here.)

Power companies across the country have expressed similar sentiments. A representative from Mid-American Energy highlighted that they “wish” the stay hadn’t happened, because of the resulting uncertainty. American Electric Power, a major producer of coal-fired electricity, said that the Supreme Court stay “doesn’t change our focus on the diversification of our generation fleet,” and those diversification plans include more gas and renewables. Power companies are already investing in clean energy in response to the market and their customers — for these companies, any delay in planning creates needless risk and uncertainty.

  1. This record-breaking summer highlights just how urgently we need sensible climate protections.

It’s challenging to encapsulate all the extreme weather we’ve witnessed in 2016. Just in the U.S., we’ve experienced a series of dangerous heat waves, deadly floods, and extreme storms. This week’s flooding in Louisiana is just the latest heart-rending example — with lives tragically lost and upended across the state. Yesterday, NASA announced that July 2016 was the warmest month ever in 136 years of modern record-keeping. According to the World Meteorological Organization, 2016 is firmly on track to be the warmest year yet. The Weather Channel noted all of these wild weather events from the first six months of 2016 together here, in a website on 2016’s “Weirdest Weather.” All these events are fully in line with the hotter, more extreme weather that’s predicted under a changing climate.

Meanwhile, new research only underscores the human health costs of climate change. Mitigating the human health impacts of climate change will add to the Clean Power Plan’s substantial health benefits from reducing soot and smog pollutants. EPA estimates that once the Clean Power Plan is fully implemented, these reductions will — every year — avoid 3,600 premature deaths, 1,700 heart attacks, 90,000 asthma attacks, and 300,000 missed workdays and schooldays.

These climate risks and essential health benefits highlight the importance of having a mandatory framework to ensure emissions reductions. Clean energy trends are already charging ahead, but investors need the certainty that the Clean Power Plan provides — and all Americans’ health and well-being are depending on it.

By Martha Roberts, Attorney, U.S. Climate Legal and Regulatory Program

This post originally appeared on EDF blog, Climate 411.

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Across America, companies have reason today to celebrate an important step to drive cost and emissions out of their supply chain. The U.S. EPA and U.S. Department of Transportation unveiled new fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for heavy trucks. Once fully implemented, the new standards will cut over a billion tons of climate pollution and save hundreds of millions of dollars by 2035.

Every business in America stands to benefit.

Why? Because every business in America relies, in some form, on trucking services. Product manufacturers need trucks to get goods to market. Service and knowledge companies depend on trucks to deliver equipment and supplies. Retailers utilize trucks in distribution.

One of Walmart's aerodynamic trucks

One of Walmart’s aerodynamic trucks

Retailers and consumer brands are among the top winners of strong fuel efficiency standards, as these companies account for a lot of freight movement. Companies that have undertaken detailed carbon footprint analysis often find, as Ben & Jerry’s did, that freight transportation can account for upwards of 17 percent of their total impact.

The new fuel standard means continued progress in tackling this significant source of emissions. This progress will reveal itself in lower carbon footprints for every product brought to market. It will be apparent through lower freight and fuel surcharge fees – saving large consumer brands millions annually.

The standards will be increased in 2024 and 2027, resulting in final standards that will require new tractor-trailer units to emit 25 percent less climate pollution in 2027 than in 2017. Long-haul truck drivers will see the new efficiency technology pay back in under two years.

The new standards will drive market uptake of a number of proven fuel saving technologies. Through the Super Truck program of the U.S. Department of Energy, for example, a Daimler team developed a 12.2 MPG trucks and a Cummins and Peterbilt team developed a 10.7 MPG truck. As a group of leading technology innovators noted early this year, “clear, stringent, long-term fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards” are critical to scaling emerging solutions “by creating certainty that high-quality, effective innovations will be rewarded in the marketplace.”

With the certainty of long-term standards, manufacturers will make the needed investments to introduce new engine platforms, better integrate powertrains, and take advantage of other cost-effective choices. In fact, this is just what has happened during an earlier phase of the clean truck program.

PepsiCo, Walmart, General Mills and a number of other leading companies played a critical role in securing the robust, final standards. They were drawn to advocate for strong standards because of the clean truck program’s combination of significant environmental and cost savings, and its ability to bring forward market-ready solutions.

It’s telling that these companies, which are leaders in adopting voluntary green freight best practices, were motivated to advocate for federal greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards too. They recognize that freight movement, which accounts for around 10 percent of U.S. greenhouse gases, has a critical role to play in cutting our emissions.

Making heavy trucks more fuel efficient is the single most important step to reducing freight emissions. The program announced will be crucial to build a low-carbon future that enables the free flow of freight. That is an outcome every business should celebrate.

By Jason Mathers

(This post originally appeared on EDF+Business)

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Crude oil production disruptions in Nigeria reached 750,000 barrels per day (b/d) in May 2016, the highest level since at least January 2009. The increased disruptions come as militants continue to focus attacks on oil and natural gas infrastructure in the West African region. Nigeria is a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and was Africa’s largest oil producer until Angola’s oil production surpassed Nigeria’s earlier this year.

Nigeria’s crude oil production disruptions are concentrated in the Niger Delta region, an oil-rich area bordering the Gulf of Guinea that is the mainstay of the country’s crude oil production. Since the beginning of 2016, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) have conducted many attacks on oil and natural gas infrastructure throughout the region. Although not the only militant group conducting attacks in the region, the NDA is currently the most active.

map of Nigeria, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

The NDA’s attacks have resulted in immediate and severe disruptions in crude oil production, as some of the attacks have targeted key oil-gathering and export infrastructure. Nigeria’s oil production averaged 1.9 million b/d in 2015. By May 2016, Nigerian oil production had fallen to 1.4 million b/d, nearly a 30-year low.

After some repairs, and in the absence of major new attacks, some of the disrupted production was restored, and crude oil output averaged 1.6 million b/d in June. Despite this recent increase, the continued threat of militant attacks poses a risk to sustained production. The NDA has claimed responsibility for several attacks since the beginning of July, and outages once again rose in July.

According to trade press reports, exports of multiple Nigerian crude oil grades, including Bonny Light, Forcados, Brass River, and Qua Iboe, have been under periods of force majeure since the beginning of 2016, meaning companies are released from export obligations as a result of circumstances beyond their control. Significant disruptions in oil production resulting from NDA attacks, combined with relatively low crude oil prices, have had a significant effect on Nigeria’s economy. According to Nigeria’s Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Nigeria’s oil sector provides 70% of government revenue and 95% of export revenue.

The NDA attacks are largely in response to President Buhari’s cutback on amnesty payments and termination of security contracts to former militants. The group threatens to continue the attacks until the Nigerian government meets its demands, some of which include greater regional control of local oil production, continuation of the amnesty program, and compensation to Niger Deltan communities polluted by oil exploration and production.

The Nigerian government announced in June that it had agreed to a ceasefire with the NDA, but the group refutes that statement and has conducted numerous attacks since then. More recently, the Nigerian government announced it will resume payouts to the militants under the amnesty program. However, because payouts are just one of the NDA’s many demands, crude oil production stoppages are likely to continue until the Nigerian government and the NDA can reach a comprehensive agreement. EIA expects Nigerian oil production to remain depressed through 2017 as a result of militant attacks.

More information about Nigeria’s oil production and disruptions is available in EIA’s Country Analysis Brief.

Principal contributor: Melanie Berkey

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